She is exhausted; blisters on her blisters and a throb in her head that a few too many Advil's haven't cured. She can almost hear her bed calling her name, whispering sweetly, come lie in me.

So when she sees their door open, she very nearly just walks on by. She actually gets to her own door, palm caressing the handle, when something stops her. A sound like a sharp inrush of breath, stifled. She turns, walks cautiously to the other apartment.

The scene sends her reeling. Their living room is a disaster area; hundreds of books and assorted geek paraphernalia strewn over the floor and her first thought is how did I miss the earthquake? Then she sees, or rather, it is what she doesn't see that brings understanding. Empty patches of space where, if this was anyone else's apartment, there would gaps in the dust caused by an absence of something. Here, there may not be dust, but the impression is the same. The missing something in this case being TV's, laptops, stereos, games consoles...anything with a street value worth hauling it down four flights of stairs, she guesses. For a minute she stands, almost in awe at the devastation. Then that noise again, that hitch in a breath. She pushes open the door further to see the couch.

Sheldon is there, in his spot, and before she can bite it back a gasp of horror escapes her. He doesn't react; seems rigid, hands either side of his legs, fingers grasping the cushion beneath him as he stares ahead blankly.

He's in shock, she thinks, and the reason is written all over his face, quite literally. A black eye is blooming above a swollen cheek and a split lip which is still trickling blood. Another bruise is forming around a nasty looking cut on his forehead, and the way he holds himself makes her think that whoever did this didn't limit themselves to his face.

She feels a red-hot ball of fury in her belly; impotent rage that she knows she has to bury because that isn't going to help her friend now. She swallows it down and walks slowly over to the pitiful figure on the couch, closing the door gently behind her. She crouches in front of him and waits till he's refocused his gaze on her. She's still not sure he's really seeing her.

"Sheldon, sweetie? Are you ok?" She reaches out a hand, and her heart breaks to feel him flinch as she rests it lightly on his arm. She wants to reach out, envelop him in a hug that the outside world can't penetrate. She is gratified, though, to finally see recognition in his eyes.

She repeats her question, and he appears to consider it, looking around the room as if seeing it for the first time. Looking lost, his voice is hoarse when he replies. "I don't know." She looks him over, wondering if she should be worried about a concussion. "Sweetie, do you remember what happened?" His eyes darken and some of the distance returns. "Yes." His tone discourages her from asking for any more detail right now; that's fine with her, because she doesn't think she can bear to hear it. His silence protects them both. However, there are some practicalities to deal with.

"Hon, I think you need to go to hospital. You're bleeding" she says softly. He frowns slightly. "No. I don't want to leave."

She doesn't fancy her chances of moving him if he doesn't want to move, so she squeezes his arm gently. "Ok, sweetie." She stands, thinking she can clean him up herself, and is surprised when he grabs her arm.

"Where are you going?"

There is a panicky edge to his voice, and when she turns back he is looking at her with pleading in his eyes. She crouches again, and gently brushes her thumb across his lower lip. She sees his eyes widen at the contact, then holds her bloodied thumb so he can see. Distaste flashes across his face and he seems to understand, releasing his grip and nodding slowly.

On her way to the bathroom her eye is caught by a splash of red on the floor. This is where it happened, she thinks, and she suddenly feels like she's going to be sick. She dashes to the sink, splashing her face with cold water until she composes herself. She finds what she needs easily thanks to Sheldon's labelling system and returns quickly with a washcloth, some warm water and his well stocked first aid kit. She determinedly avoids looking at the wreckage scattered around her as she clears some space on the table to sit, and pulls it forward so she can reach him. She is relieved to see that his eyes are starting to lose their glassy look, although the pain that is replacing it is almost more difficult to see.

She debates herself for a second. "Sweetie, I think maybe we need to see what else they did to you." She gestures towards his T shirts, expecting him to protest, but instead he gives her another small nod and pulls them off without a word. She notices as he tries not to wince. His torso is mottled with bruises and a few scrapes; she feels that pain in her chest again as she thinks she recognises a boot imprint over his ribs. He isn't looking; of course, he can feel the extent of the damage, has no reason to see it. Instead he watches her face, gauging her reaction. She sets her jaw and smiles grimly.

"Nothing we can't handle, I don't think." She tries to raise a smile from him. "Although I gotta warn you, I'm not used to patching up anything that doesn't have fur." He doesn't smile, simply looks at her with those dark eyes.

"I trust you, Penny."

She feels her own eyes moisten and berates herself. Not the time. She swallows hard and dips the cloth in the water, dabbing his broken skin softly and apologising every time she feels his breath catch. She's pretty sure nothing's broken. Physically, anyway. He watches her face intently as she works.

When she's satisfied with the job she's done on his chest she wrings out the cloth. She can't comfortably reach his face from where she's sitting, so she makes the decision to move closer. Unfortunately, this means kneeling on the floor and worming her way between his knees. She takes it as a bad sign that he doesn't protest the sudden increase in intimacy, but it makes it easier that he just lets her do it.

She knows he hates physical contact, but her need to throw her arms around him is almost overwhelming and she doesn't know if it would be for his benefit or hers. No, that's a lie; hers, definitely. If she can't hug him, she'll damn well get close to him this way instead.

She raises the cloth to his face and dabs at the cut above his eye, realising as she does just how close she actually is. His eyes look huge from this short distance despite the swelling, and they still never leave her face despite her focus on her task. It's a little unnerving.

The cut isn't as bad as it looks, and she vaguely remembers that even little head injuries bleed like shit. She dabs on some antiseptic from the kit and smoothes on a Batman plaster, fingers lingering as she presses it down carefully over the damaged skin.

His lip has finally stopped bleeding, and she can see her thumb print smudge dried into the remaining blood. She uses the corner of the cloth and brushes it over the cut like a feather, hearing his soft intake of breath as she does. She finally looks up, meeting his gaze, her hand still stroking the cloth across his swollen lip. Then Sheldon's hand is coming up and pressing against hers, stilling her, and she drops it to his lap, his hand still holding hers. She glances down briefly, to be sure that yes, Sheldon is holding her hand, and then immediately justifies it for him. Even genius's needs a little physical reassurance sometimes.

She squeezes his hand, and for a minute it is like she's comforting a normal friend, and her instincts take over because she really is very close to him, close enough to feel the heat emanating from his bare chest, and what she would usually do with someone normal is she would maybe give them a little kiss on the cheek. And that's what she does, only he must have moved a little because it ends up as being a kiss on the corner of his mouth, and she tastes antiseptic and the slight copper tang of blood. Then she feels his hand clench around hers in his lap and at the same time he definitely moves, because her lips aren't on the corner of anything anymore but on his actual mouth.

She knows the sensible thing to do is to pull away; that he is upset and looking for comfort and that he'll most likely start regretting this very soon. But, right now, his other hand is cupping her head, weaving into her hair and holding her close and she's not sure he'd let her go if she wanted him to. Which, she realises as she starts kissing back, she really doesn't. His lips are firm against hers and she thinks this must be hurting him, but he seems determined to continue and the soft noises he's making are pretty encouraging. In fact, it's not until she feels him twitch under the palm in his lap that her conscience raises its killjoy hand and demands her attention again.

She pulls back, the hand that was in her hair slipping down to her neck, his thumb stroking just under her jaw. It makes her shiver, and it takes all of her willpower to gasp out his name. "Sheldon, wait. We can''re confused. You don't know what you want right now, sweetie."

In response, he presses her hand more firmly into his crotch with his own and she feels him harden. His voice is low and hoarse and full of need. "Penny. I know exactly what I want." It sounds enough like his old self that she believes him, which is good, because his words send a jolt through her body straight to her groin, where things start to melt. Suddenly, she wants him more badly then she's ever wanted anyone; she wants to make him feel better, yes, but more than that, she wants him.

She sits back on her heels and a look of disappointment flashes across his face, but then she pulls off her top in one swift movement and she sees the appreciation in his eyes as they move over her body. She gives him a moment to look before she can't bear it any more; still kneeling between his thighs, she grabs the back of his neck and gently tugs him forward to meet her lips. He plunges both hands into her hair as they kiss, and her hands are softly stroking across his battered torso, not knowing whether it's intended to soothe or arouse. His kiss becomes less organised, more chaotic, and she thinks it's probably doing the latter. One hand leaves her hair and fingers trail down her neck, lightly skimming over her collar bone to rest on the side of her breast. His thumb begins circling her nipple through her bra and she groans into his mouth. She reaches back and unhooks the bra, letting it slip to the floor. He breaks the kiss, breathing heavily as he rests his forehead gently against hers.

She is overwhelmed with the need to make him feel better; to make him forget his cuts and bruises, the blood on his floor and the destruction around them. She puts her hands on his shoulders and manoeuvres him so he's lying back on the sofa, and he looks confused until her fingers start working the buttons of his trousers. She can feel him hard under the fabric and she wastes no time in tugging them and his underpants down around his ankles. He looks down at her as she finds a bruise she missed on his inner thigh, then leans his head back as he feels her kiss it better. She trails a few more delicate kisses up the sensitive skin, then pauses for a second to meet his eye before running her tongue up the length of his cock. He sucks in air, his hands gripping the couch cushion again and he twitches beneath her tongue. She repeats the movement, lingering on his head this time, and feels the dampness between her legs spread as he gasps her name. Her hands go to her skirt, unzipping it and pulling it off with her panties as she stands. He watches her, breathing heavily as she straddles him. She lowers herself, trapping his cock between them, and leans towards him for another kiss. She feels his flesh against her clit and rocks against him instinctively, feeling him moan into her mouth and replying with one of her own as the delicious friction builds. She breaks the kiss and reaches down between them, helping him find his target, then pushes down on him, burying him inside her. She grinds down, wanting him as deep as she can get him, then stills, feeling him fill her. She thinks it's probably his first time, wants to take it slowly for him, but he seems to have other ideas. He is grinding against her, frustrated, trying to move but she's pinning him down so he grabs her ass; she feels his fingers digging into her flesh and lifting her towards him, then he is thrusting up underneath her. She reaches out to steady herself and one hand grabs his hair, tugging it, feeling the heat emanating from his skin. She can see on his face that he's near; his eyes are half closed and his jaw is clenched, small grunts escaping as he thrusts hard against her. She hadn't been expecting to come; thought it would be over too quickly but the new angle is hitting the right spot and her hips take over, grinding down to meet his thrusts. She looks at him and his eyes are open fully, looking straight at her as he pants and gasps, and it pushes her over the edge. She comes hard and cries out, an unintelligible moan. He quickly starts to loose his rhythm as she pulses around him, and he grabs her hips as he buries himself inside her and calls out her name.

Neither of them moves for a minute, both recovering. Then Sheldon lays his head back against the couch, his eyes closed. She hears him swallow loudly and thinks he might be trying not to cry. She pulls him towards her, resting his forehead on her chest as she feels his breathing start to slow, and wraps her arms around him, her chin on his head. He is silent, and she feels wetness on her chest. Finally he clears his throat and pulls away from her. He seems more like himself, she thinks; awkward, though he doesn't seem particularly embarrassed. She goes to climb off him and he finally speaks. "Penny?

She pauses. "Yeah, Sheldon?"

He looks at her. "Thank you. I...apologise if my behaviour was inappropriate. I was distressed."

She smiles, then leans down to give him a small kiss on the cheek. As expected, he freezes for a second, before relaxing only slightly. "No apologies needed, Moonpie. And hey, I should probably be thanking you too." She raises an eyebrow at him. He looks quizzical for a second, before understanding. "Oh. Good. Well, you're welcome."

She rolls her eyes and climbs off him, wincing again at the sight of the bruises on his face and torso.

"Sweetie, what we just did...did it hurt?"

He stands and starts to dress, finally looking down at himself. He raises an eyebrow. "It did, yes" he confirms. He looks at her face and detects pain there. "It was of no consequence, however. I believe it was an effective method of relieving my emotional distress." He looks around the devastated room, his face grim. "However briefly."

Penny pulls her clothes on, feeling an ache in her legs. She watches him dress and marvels at how un-freaked out he seems by what just happened.

There is the noise of a key in a lock, and she looks at him, eyes wide. She had thought Leonard was away, but now he is walking into the apartment, stopping dead at the scene in front of him. She glares at Sheldon, who just shrugs, seeming unconcerned at the fact that they were very nearly caught fucking on the couch.

Leonard has recovered his speech. "What the hell?" He looks at Sheldon. "Oh my God, are you alright?"

"We were robbed." He glances at her. "But Penny has been assisting me with my injuries."

She feels herself blush, and figures it's a good time to make an exit.

She has some very interesting dreams when she finally makes it to bed.