[Author's Note]

I really have no idea where this came from. I was just listening to "LoveGame" by Lady GaGa and this popped into my head. It's wildly OOC for both of them but, nevertheless, I hope you all enjoy it.


It had to be something, Penny thought as she stared into her own tired reflection.

She was dressed to kill—her dress was of the black, peel-off variety with dangerously high heels to match the ebony mask she'd donned for the night—and yet she'd spent most of her night sitting at the bar, alone. She inspected herself closer and despite her critical eye, she could find nothing off-putting about her appearance. Her hair had been straightened and now hung unimpeded around her shoulders, highlighting the faux diamond earrings that drifted near her collar bones. She'd done her eye makeup in the drastic smoky shades to bring out the color, and it worked.

Maybe it just wasn't her night.

A few of her co-workers and their friends had rented out the bar for the night to throw a masquerade-themed birthday party for another friend of theirs. She'd gladly accepted their invitation a week before, when it was offered. If there was one thing she needed, it was a night out. She'd had a little trouble getting in at first—she'd been an idiot and had traipsed out of her apartment without her invitation—but luckily a friend had spotted her and let her past the bouncer.

Now she was staring at her black satin masquerade mask, wondering why she'd bothered coming at all. She ran her fingers over the clear jewels surrounding the eyes of her masks, and then dropped her hand. Sighing for what felt like the millionth time that night, she freshened up her nude lip gloss and left the ladies room behind.

It didn't exactly help matters when she realized that her seat at the bar had been taken in her absence. The only place left now was either the dance floor or the thin standing room around it. Neither was exactly appealing, but at this point she'd take what she could get.

Pushing her way through the crowd, she stayed at the bar long enough to order a cosmopolitan before retreating to a dark corner a few feet from the dance floor. She stayed there for a few minutes, drinking the rose-colored liquid faster than she probably should. She'd been contemplating leaving early for a rousing marathon of Age of Conan when a deep voice crooned in her ear.

"You don't look like you're having much fun."

Feeling the hairs on the back of her neck stand quickly to attention, she stiffened against the wall she was leaning on. She turned slowly to face the stranger, only to find that a decent examination was impossible. The room was devoid almost entirely of light and she quickly realized that she may have had too much to drink after all, if her swimming head was any indication.

"Are you?" she asked, giving him a coy smile as her eyes took him in.

He was tall and slender with dark hair and light skin that contrasted with the sea blue mask he wore with noticeable confidence. His suit was black and fit him impeccably, from long arms to narrow hips. All it took was a quick glance to realize that he had eyes that took blue above and beyond what should be allowed.

The man was perfect. Or damn near, in any case.

She smiled a little wider, to which the stranger replied with a smirk of his own that made her toes curl within her shoes. Why did it look so familiar?

"The night's still young, as they say," he replied, leaning in close to be heard over the din of the dance floor and other party-goers, "But it has potential."

"It certainly does," she countered, staring past the deep blue mask—it matched his tie, she noticed absently—and into eyes that mirrored faintly of someone else she knew.

Oh, right, she thought. That's a laugh. Sheldon probably has personal rules about places like this. Moonpie is probably already in his Friday pajamas, getting ready to settle in for the night.

"So," Penny continued, effectively abandoning that train of thought, "Who are you here for?"

"Just a friend," he answered vaguely and her eyes skimmed down to his left hand.

Bingo, she congratulated herself. No ring on his gorgeous, slender finger. Not even a tan line to indicate that there had one had been there once upon a time. In her world, that meant he was fair game.

"Looking for something?"

Her eyes darted back up to meet his and she smiled.

"Just curious."

"Of course," he replied with another grin that made her stomach flutter excitedly.

God, she'd missed this game. The subtle back-and-forth flirting, the cautious but eager glances… they made her feel alive. It had been a while since her last meaningful exchange, but she didn't feel at all out of practice.

Like riding a bike, she thought with a wry smile.

"What are you thinking?" he asked, observing her expression carefully. He watched her like she was some complex, intricate script that was waiting for translation.

That look… it was so familiar.

"Just wondering why I haven't run into you before," she lied, her skin heating under his intense examination. He looked at her like he was having a hard time restraining himself, and Penny preened under his attention. It was suddenly hard to imagine that she'd been contemplating leaving just a few minutes before.

"Perhaps you have and didn't realize it," he told her softly, raising his arm to run a finger lightly over her bare shoulder. His touch was calm and restrained; not at all threatening or intrusive. Still, it gave her chills and she shivered.

He repeated the motion, this time allowing his finger to travel back up her arm and across her collar bone before settling it back at his side.

The sensation was all too familiar and she reveled in it. It had been a while, but it didn't seem like her body had forgotten how to process it. Liquid heat settled low in her stomach and spread from there, warming her all over until she smiled contentedly. Her stranger noted the reaction and took it as a tentative green light. He stepped nearer and brought them close enough to almost be touching—just close enough for the magnet to begin its pull on her. Her breath caught when he reached up to push a long lock of hair from her face.

"You're a stunning woman," he observed lazily, as though the compliment was general knowledge and nothing more.

Penny was helpless. She didn't know what possessed her—the blue eyes, the graceful fingers, or his delectable bottom lip—but her toes pushed her up with almost no warning and suddenly their lips were fused. A careful voice in the back of her head was screaming in protest, but she chose to ignore for the time being. She'd never been good at listening to that particular voice, anyway. Meanwhile, the reckless, dangerous voice in her head was reminding her just how amazing this felt.

His hands rested on her lower back, pressing her tighter against him while his mouth moved over hers with surprising abandon. She whimpered lightly when his tongue traced the crease of her lips. Her stomach dropped and her pulse climbed as she opened her mouth to him, nearly quivering with delight when he ran his skilled tongue alongside hers. He tasted like mint and something much more intoxicating, and it was that something extra that had her balling her fists in his pristine jacket in an attempt to drag him closer.

He followed, until her back was against the wall and his body was pressed inextricably against hers. It was good, too, because she had absolutely no intention of letting him go. Not now, when his fingers were mapping the ridges of her spine and driving her out of her mind. He touched her adamantly, possessively, but with a distinct edge of admiration that took her breath away. He was gentle and confident, but somewhere in the back of her mind she noticed that he trembled slightly when her fingers wrapped around his tie to keep him firmly in place. She felt him gasp when she scraped her teeth against his bottom lip, relishing the hurried intake the breath as though it were a loud declaration of love.

Her eyes closed on their own determination when his hands left the small of her back to travel over her rib case, the sides of her breasts, and up to her neck to tilt her face farther up to him. He was resolute now, acting without any trace of doubt or indecision. His lips were experts and were entirely devoted to heating her blood until it turned to steam and scalded her with need. She moaned into his mouth when he sucked her top lip between his own, wondering how she'd never felt like this before. How was it possible that of all the relationships she'd wasted her heart on before now and of all of the worthless guys that brought her to this moment, that a man like this would still out there?

It wasn't until she realized that the music had stopped that she thought to open her eyes again. Her stranger was still there, breathing heavily and staring at her with more affection than she's ever seen directed at her in her life.

"Who are you?" she gasped, searching his eyes once again for an answer she was afraid she would never find.

"Goodbye, Penny," he whispered against her lips, stealing another soft kiss before stealing away into the crowd of people still surrounding them. It had only been a matter of minutes, but her heart was pounding like it had been hours. She opened her mouth in protest, almost called him back, but it was too late.

He was gone.


Penny woke up just as miserable as she had been when she'd gone to bed around three in the morning. Her head pounded in the tell-tale sign of a hangover worthy of some kind of world record. Her cheeks and eyes were stained with the remnants of last night's eye makeup and more than a few bitter tears. She didn't know why this random kiss from a complete stranger had rendered her so desolate, but it had. The only thing she knew for certain is that she was missing an earring and had, for the first time in quite a while, been indescribably happy for the few most blissful moments of her life.

Now, it was back to reality.

She hated it.

It was minutes—maybe hours, not that she cared—before she stirred again. At first she thought it was a need for food that woke her up, but then she heard what very well may have been one of the most dreaded sounds in the world.

Knock, knock, knock.


Knock, knock, knock.


Knock, knock, knock.


She groaned and shoved her face back in the pillow. The last thing she wanted to worry about was Sheldon and all his quirks this morning. She stayed put. She sniffled a little, rubbing more tears from her eyes, and waited for him to leave. After three minutes exactly, rather than hearing staccato footsteps leading away from her door and back toward the hall, instead he repeated his cadence of knocks in hopes of getting her attention. It was fairly obvious at this point that the idiosyncratic genius had no intentions of leaving her alone.

Forgoing her bathrobe, she dragged herself out of bed and marched into her living room. Pressing her ear to the door, she could still hear his measured breathing on the other side. There was no way she was getting rid of him now, and she accepted that. Checking the wall clock, she realized that he'd faithfully upheld the not-before-eleven-or-I-punch-you-in-the-throat rule. There was nothing she could do to penalize him, despite her already foul mood. Admitting defeat, she swung the door open.

"Good morning, Sheldon," she said, faking a disinterested smile.

"Good morning, Penny," he replied, pursing his lips into a tight line. His eyes roamed over her and she shifted her feet uncomfortable while his brow furrowed in concentration. When he reached his conclusion, he stated simply, "You're upset."

"Excellent observation," she said sarcastically. "What can I do for you this fine morning?"

"Do you wish to discuss what made you upset?" he asked seriously, stepping inside her apartment when she opened the door wider for him to enter. "I don't know if it's any consolation, but Mother has been recently commenting on my improved sympathetic awareness."

"Thanks, sweetie," she said honestly, shutting the door behind them, "But I don't think this is something you're all that experienced in."

"With all due respect, Penny," he replied, "There isn't much in the world that I don't understand. To discount my opinion so early would be extremely foolish on your part."

"Of course," she said knowingly, patting his shoulder.

"Does this mean you'll impart your troubles?" he asked, obviously pleased when she reluctantly nodded her head and sat next to him on the small couch. "Oh, good. Please begin at your own discretion."

She smiled.

"You're one of a kind, sweetie."

"Well, in this universe, anyway," he replies before noting her expression, "Not the point, obviously."

"No, no it's not," she said and sighed before leaning back against the couch. "Sheldon, do you ever feel undesirable? Like no one wants you?"


"Sheldon?" she asked uncertainly, closing her eyes. Maybe she really had made a mistake bringing this up.

"Penny, I assure you that you're a perfectly desirable female specimen," he says softly, lightly patting her knee. "What would cause you to feel this way?"

"Oh, it seems so stupid now," she groaned, putting her hands on her face. "But I was at a party last night for a friend-of-a-friend and I was having a rough night, nobody was really talking to me, and I thought about leaving until…"

She trailed off. Was this really a good idea?

"Until what?" he asked. "Did something happen?"

"There was this guy," she started slowly, "And he showed up out of nowhere, and… well, he just made me feel special. It's been a long time since I've felt that way, Sheldon. Since before Leonard and I broke up."

"I see," he said and she thought she heard his mind reeling, searching for the appropriate answer to her dilemma, "What happened to this person?"

"He disappeared," she said, feeling tears build again despite her best efforts to keep them at bay. She knew for a fact that Sheldon wouldn't handle them well. "He just… left."

"Perhaps he was nervous," Sheldon offered innocently, "Males of our species are generally intimidated by women who possess the same physiological characteristics you do, Penny. It isn't unreasonable to assume that it was his own anxiety that caused his departure, not you. It would be unwise of you to confuse the two."

"Sure, sweetie," she said, unconvinced. "Thank you."

"You don't seemed assured of the statement's validity," he observed candidly.

"History would beg to differ," she said bitterly, though she did acknowledge the accuracy of the statement. Maybe he really was getting better at this. "But I do appreciate the fact that you're trying to make me feel better. Thank you, really."

"You're a stunning woman, Penny."

She almost thanked him for the words, while secretly marveling at his willingness to offer them to her, before something started nagging at her from a place in her brain she didn't realize still worked at this hour of the morning. She concentrated on the words, and didn't find anything wrong with them. She almost dismissed them, citing her own exhaustion, before something pinged in the back of her throbbing head.

That voice.

Those eyes.

Holy crap on a cracker.

She sat up, her eyes wide and searching his face for any indication that his words held any significance for him. When she met the vivid blue, his face flushed and he sat back a little. He folded his hands in his lap and waited for her reaction, unsure of what would actually be dealt to him. Her view on the night before had been positive—enough so that she'd mourned its loss this morning—but once realizing that the encounter had not been as anonymous as it seemed she may feel differently.

"You?" she asked, feeling her head spin. "How..."

"I used the emergency key to deliver the milk you'd asked us to retrieve for you, and I ran across the invitation lying on your coffee table," he explained carefully, keeping his eyes on hers. "I've been drawn to you in this manner for some time, Penny. I had hoped to tell you last night, but as I stated before I 'chickened out,' as Leonard so delicately phrased it."

"Oh, my God," she murmured, touching her lips and remembering the finesse with which he'd kissed them the night before. She could hardly believe it, until his farewell drifted out of the depths of her memory.

"Goodbye, Penny."

She'd never told him her name.

"Oh, my God…" she repeated absently, her hands reaching up to his face. Her fingers traced his features, remembering how she'd admired them in the dim light of the bar. The pad of her thumb grazed his bottom lip, the same one she'd tasted the night before. Could the confident, sexy stranger really be Sheldon?

"I assumed I'd return this," he said softly, his breath whispering across her wrists in a way that made her shiver. She felt him reach into his pocket, and pull something out. Glitter caught the edge of her peripheral vision and she looked down to find her missing earring, resting innocently in the large palm of his hand. She gasped, shocked, and gently took it from him. It was the same size and shape, but it seemed different somehow… like the glass slipper in Cinderella. It was supernatural now, and held a spark and glitter that was born out of the chance they'd both taken in each other without fully realizing it. It was brighter now.


"Penny, I think I've upset you," he said, beginning to fidget in his seat when confronted by her dumbfounded silence. "Perhaps it's best that I go, now that I've effectively dissolved our friendship. I'm sorry if this revelation has only distressed you further-"

Her lips found his in a second, suddenly terrified that he would walk out and she would never have another chance to tell him just what he meant to her. She kissed him hungrily, without any regard for convention or modesty. She clung to him desperately, needing him to understand the changes taking place in her every second they touched. It took a threadbare moment for his brain to catch up with his body, which was unusual enough in itself. Blood rushed in his ears with every touch until passivity was no longer optional. With this revelation he began pulling her forward until she was straddling him, the contact between their bodies quickly become electric. The kiss was all lips and tongue and teeth, clawing at their inhibitions and doubts until their breathing was harsh and fire had erupted in their veins. She pulled away, panting, and stared at him. She studied this stranger, who turned out to be anything but. The stranger, Dr. Sheldon Cooper, was all long limbs, blue eyes, and mussed hair. His beautiful lips were swollen with the frenzy of their kisses.

The man was perfect.

"Oh, Sheldon," she whispered, "How could I have missed this?"

"You don't hate me?" he asked cautiously, his eyes rapidly scanning hers for any indication of ill feelings. "I realize the action was deceitful, but when dealing with you I find that what little courage I possess is rendered moot."

"I could never hate you," she assured him and watched his eyes light up. They flashed with every shade of blue in the known world, setting them ablaze with something she was quickly beginning to recognize. Adoration. For her, of all people. The sight was breathtaking, and one she'd remember long after that day faded away into the next.

"I don't want to lose you, Penny," he whispered, caressing her arm the same way he had the night before. It made her sigh.

She kissed him again, throwing her heart unceremoniously at his feet.

Sheldon picked it up, promising to keep it as near to him as his own.

[A/N] For those of you waiting on an update for "The Cranial Contusion Conundrum," it's in the making. I just had to get this out of my system first.