"-all I'm saying is if the State of the Union pushes back the 'Lost' premiere, I'ma cut a bitch," Penny snarled as she flipped through channels at high speed. She felt four pairs of eyes fall on her and she looked at them. "What? There are some things more important than the state of our union." She turned her attention back to the television and landed on a rerun of 'Kitchen Nightmares'. "And 'Lost' is one of them."

"While I believe the your statement to be in line with our views, I think you're missing an important part." She turned to look at Sheldon, who sat precisely in the center of his cushion. "It isn't as if the premiere will cease to exist if it isn't shown when it's scheduled. It will simply be ready for viewing at a later date."

Penny leaned toward him menacingly. "Cut a bitch," she repeated, getting in his face. He pulled as far back from her as he could without falling over the end of the couch. "Why are you being so calm about this anyway? This is been on your schedule since they announced the airdate."

Sheldon gave her comment some thought. "True," he finally conceded. "But I try never to let the White House dictate my life."

She rolled her eyes and went back to flipping channels, barely seeing what was on one before switching to the next. "Whatever," she finally said, signifying the end of the conversation. Silence fell among the five of them.

"Um," Leonard finally said. Penny turned to find him with a confused expression on his face that volleyed back and forth between Sheldon and herself. "Are you guys dating then, or what?"

Penny turned her head to the side and studied Sheldon's response to that question. He furrowed his brow and she saw his jaw lock. "I'm afraid I don't understand the question."

She shifted in her seat, turning toward him. "I think he's asking if we are actually in a relationship now." She willed him to understand what his roommate was asking. Giving up after a moment, she acknowledged Leonard again. "Not really, no."

Leonard nodded quickly before giving her a tight smile and excusing himself to retrieve a Diet Coke from the fridge. Howard and Raj were huddled together in the middle of an argument about where or not changing from Katie Holmes to Maggie Gyllenhal in the 'Batman' series was a trade up or trade down. Penny took the opportunity to turn back to Sheldon. She leaned in to him and he gave her a wary glance. "You know," she said in a low voice. "We're currently not doing anything differently than we were before we made out at the New Year's Party last week."

Sheldon blinked at her. "I disagree."

"No," Penny said in a sarcastically astounded tone. Sheldon rolled his eyes in response.

"I've been exceedingly more polite to you," he stated. "For instance, last night you chewed with your mouth open for half of dinner and I said nothing." Penny's mouth quirked up on one side. She nodded and went back to pushing buttons on the remote, drawing an outburst from Howard. She heard Sheldon huff loudly and glanced over at him. "I believe we could move faster in this conversation if you would just tell me what it is you want, Penny."

She grinned and put down the remote. "I think…" she trailed off as she noticed that all eyes were on her again. "Hallway?" she asked sweetly as she stood from the couch and motioned toward the door. Sheldon rolled his eyes and followed her, muttering to himself about how everyone else should have to leave the room. He pulled the door shut behind them with a click and pushed his hands into his pockets.

"The floor, as they say, is yours," he announced.

Penny nervously tucked her hair behind her ears as she bounced on the balls of her feet. He gave her a look that said he thought she was possibly having a seizure. "I think we should maybe um…..go out?" She bit her lip nervously. Sheldon's eyes grew in size. She cleared her throat before reaffirming. "Yes, yes I do."

"I suppose we could do that," he agreed, taking his hands out of his pocket and crossing his arms over his chest. "Of course, we'll have to bump Wolowitz." He paused. "And you'll have to order the Vegetable Lo Mein."

Penny narrowed her eyes, waiting for the breathy laugh that would indicate he was joking. It didn't come. "Uh, well…that's the right spirit," she answered, giving him a thumb's up. "But I was thinking maybe just the two of us, together."

"Oh," he nodded, and then stopped and stared at her. "Oh." She nodded slowly in response.

"Yeah," she replied.

"I see," he stammered.

Penny exhaled. "You're stalling."

"Yes," he responded with a twitch.

She watched him for a moment, waiting for him to meet her eye. When he did, the twitch doubled. Penny sighed deeply and crossed her arms over her chest. "Okay, it was not…." She shrugged and moved past him. "It can just be one of those things that happened or something."

"Allow me to think for one minute," Sheldon muttered after her and Penny stopped, her hand on the door knob. She turned and looked at him. He was facing her, with an expression Penny had assumed was reserved for people who had guns pointed at their heads. "Penny, would you like to accompany me out for dinner tomorrow night?"

She swallowed back the tiny squeal that wanted to get out and smiled at him. "Well, Sheldon. This is so out of the blue." She batted her eyelashes at him comically. He rolled his eyes at her before fidgeting slightly.

"This is a date then?" he asked.

"Yes?" she asked, cocking her head to the side.

Sheldon swallowed and nodded. "Alright then. How does one go about dating these days?"

"What are you, sixty?" Penny cracked, squinting at him.

He gave her a sarcastic smile. "I aim to merely inform you that this will be my first date." He paused. "What kind of things do I get to anticipate? Bungee jumping? Ballroom dancing?"

This time, Penny couldn't help the giggle from escaping her. "I'll get you a full-page summary written up tonight and have it on your desk in the morning, sir." She gave him a mock salute.

"Good," he answered with a firm nod. He approached her, reaching for the door knob behind her. She didn't move, appraising him for a moment.

"I was kidding," she noted. He looked at her and gave her a small chuckle that showed he really was trying to be polite to her. "You'll be fine," she said as she gave his arm a small pat. To Sheldon's credit, he didn't squirm away from her this time. She paused, thinking over what she had just said. "Or maybe, after everyone else goes home tonight, you could get some pointers from Leonard?"

"Oh good," Sheldon answered sarcastically. "That will be a fun conversation to have."

"It'll be great," Penny stated with a smile. She reached up on her toes and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Trust me."

Sheldon mumbled an unintelligible answer, fingers touching his cheek as he opened the door for her.

"I'm going to go home I think," she responded, hooking her thumb over her shoulder toward her own apartment. "I'll…see you tomorrow, though?"

He looked slightly off-kilter for a moment, but regained his composure almost instantly. "Yes. Have a good night."

"You too," Penny smiled at him and saw his eyes darken ever so slightly. She felt butterflies take flight in her ribcage. She opened the door to her apartment and slid inside quickly, shutting the door behind her. She laid her head back against the door and exhaled.

There were so many ways this thing could end badly.

* * * * *

Penny lifted her tip off of the table and stuffed it into her apron pocket, shaking her head as she did. People definitely did not take jobs as servers because the pay was so good. She helped Ben the new busboy clear off the table. Together they stacked glasses and reset silverware in companionable silence. She carried the tub of dirty dishes into the kitchen, Ben on her heels.

"So Penny, how old are you?" he asked in a shy voice. She rolled her eyes as she hefted the tub onto the dishwashing counter. She turned and gave him an overly sweet smile.

"Too old," came a voice from behind him, effectively cutting her off. Penny glanced over Ben's shoulder at her co-worker, Jennifer. "Way too old for you, kid."

"You're one to talk," Penny shot back with a wry grin. "Seriously, Mrs. Robinson." Ben looked between the two women and retreated quietly. "You didn't even let me turn him down in my own cute and charming way," Penny pouted as she filled empty glass racks.

"That's good, yeah." Jennifer printed out a receipt from the computer she was standing in front of. "Lead on the young impressionable new kid here. That usually works well for you."

The young blonde glared at her elder. "Give me one example," she countered, hand on her hip.

Jen gave her a leveling stare. "Really? How about Ian and Mike and…who was that really butch manager that worked here for like a week?"

"Pam," Penny answered, wrinkling her nose.

"Yeah," Jennifer gave a low chuckle. She stepped through the swinging door and back through an instant later. "Um, what's his name? The little nervous one. With the glasses?"

"What are you talking about?" Penny asked, laughing.

"The ex-boyfriend? I think?" Jennifer shrugged. "He's here."

Penny sighed and bit her lip. She peered through the small window in the door.

Crap.

Leonard stood awkwardly by the hostess stand, arms crossed over his chest. Penny pushed through the door and approached him quietly. "Hey Leonard," she greeted with an overly bright smile. "What's up?"

He squinted at her in disbelief through his thick glasses. "What's up?" he repeated sarcastically. Penny's smile faltered. "Did you really tell Sheldon to ask me for pointers on how to date you?" His voice was strangled, on the verge of hysterical even.

"Not exactly," Penny refuted slowly. "It was more like I told him to talk to you about dating in general."

"Penny," Leonard stated, running his hands through his hair. "Let's set aside the fact that we only broke up like two months ago." Penny grimaced. "I told you I loved you the same night you hooked up with Sheldon." He shook his head. "Or whatever it is you're doing or did or…." He shook his head, as if trying to rid the entire conversation from his memory. "This whole thing is just too much and you can't." He looked at her pleadingly. "You can't ask me to do this for him. For you."

She nodded her head. "You're right. I'm so sorry, Leonard." Penny felt the urge to rush forward and embrace him, but she held back. Her instinct to be friends with Leonard had to be less important that remembering that she was his ex-girlfriend and he clearly still cared for her. To Penny, it had seemed like much longer ago that they had been dating. "I'll call him off."

Leonard gave her an incredulous look. "Yeah, you do that." He sighed.

"I really am sorry."

"Yeah," he answered. "Well, I should get back to work." The awkward tension in the air between them was palpable. Penny had the distinct feeling that this entire thing was going to end badly, and that things would never be the same between she and Leonard.

She hoped she was wrong, though.

The second he was pushing his way out through the glass door with a little wave to her, Penny was streaking into the kitchen and tearing into her purse. She pulled it out and sent a text message as quickly as her fingers would work.

leonard is kinda pissed. maybe don't talk to him about the thing tonight?

He must have been doing much at the moment, because Penny expected not to get a response for a while, if at all from him. But, she only need wait twenty seconds for him to text back.

He did seem brusque this morning when I mentioned it on the way to work. I also should point out it was your idea.

Penny rolled her eyes. Who the hell used the term 'brusque' in text? She sighed and let her fingers slide over the keys again.

Sorry :\ you'll be fine on your own though. please no star wars

"Penny, you have a table." She looked up from her phone to her manager, Paul.

She gave him a wide, fake smile and flipped her phone shut. A moment later, it buzzed. Moving quickly, Penny flipped it back open to read Sheldon's response.

We held a viewing of the original trilogy just before I was called away to Texas. I'll be over at seven this evening.

Penny took a deep breath and put the phone away. Now she just had to get through the next four hours of her shift without focusing on how many different ways this whole thing could blow up in her face.

* * * * *

Penny flipped her head over, tousling and spraying frenetically. When she flipped her hair back again and stood to her normal height, she had achieved the desired effect. It was loose and curly and fell around her shoulders perfectly. She tossed her head in time to the music for a couple seconds, letting the song seep into her body. Her hips shot out to one side, then the other.

Knock, knock, knock.

"Penny."

Penny checked her lip gloss in her bathroom mirror before grinning at her reflection and hurrying toward the door. She pulled her iPod off of its dock and set it on the table.

Knock, knock, knock.

"Penny."

She took a deep breath and put her hand on the knob, waiting patiently for him to finish his ritual.

Knock, knock, knock.

"Penny."

She opened the door with a flourish and smiled at him. He awkwardly thrust his arm toward her, offering her a bunch of fresh daisies. Penny bit her lip and took them. Sheldon's mouth quirked up on one side as wiped his palm against his pant leg.

"Thank you," Penny murmured before opening the door more widely and leaving him to find a vase. He followed wordlessly, closing the door behind himself. "I love daisies."

"Yes, I remember," he answered in a jittery tone. He seated himself on the left cushion of her couch.

Penny turned from filling the vase with tap water to look at him. "What do you mean you remember?"

"March of last year," he responded as he leaned forward to peruse her magazine collection. "You were dating….I believe it was Ryan." He looked up at her with a small smile. "He presented you with a similar variety after standing you up one evening."

Penny's eyes got large. She didn't think Sheldon paid any attention to that sort of thing, to her at all. "You remember that?" she asked.

"Mmm," he nodded, finally deciding on 'Cosmo' and picking it up from the stack to thumb through it. "I have an Eidetic memory, Penny." She placed the vase of flowers on the kitchen counter and walked over to the living room to sit next to him on the couch. "It was 'Halo' night, but Raj had been sick, so our teams were uneven. You came over and said you could play because that jerk Ryan had stood you up. The next morning, while in the process of stealing our milk one ounce at a time, you mentioned he had brought you daisies."

Penny chuckled uneasily. "You are one of a kind, kid." She leaned forward to find him scanning an article entitled 'How To Please Your Man In The Sack' and snorted.

"Everybody is one of a kind, Penny." He closed the magazine and placed it back on the coffee table, straightening the stack to his specifications.

"So, flowers then?" she asked him, looking over her shoulder at the vase.

"Yes, well…" He turned toward her slightly, angling his body on the sofa. "I admit I was at a loss as to what would be expected of me this evening. So I did the only thing that made sense." He paused. "I googled it." Penny's eyebrows rose. Of course he did. "The website I visited had any number of helpful tips, one of them being that flowers and chocolate are always a good start." He shrugged before reaching for the inside pocket on his hideous plaid blazer. He pulled out a Butterfinger and handed it to her. Smiling, Penny took it from him.

"How did you know Butterfinger was my favorite?" she asked, clutching it in her fingers.

"I didn't," he answered with another shrug. "They were on sale two for a dollar at the gas station on the corner and I thought one sounded good."

Penny closed her eyes for a moment, shaking her head. When she opened them again, Sheldon was looking at her somewhat expectantly. "So, you found a website?" she asked.

"Yes, it suggested I make sure I'm ready for safe sex," Sheldon stated as he reached into his back pocket to retrieve his wallet. He flipped it open and pulled out a square piece of foil. Penny let out a bark of a laugh.

"Where on earth did you get that?" she asked, grabbing it from him.

He pulled it back instantly and returned it to its place before putting his wallet away. "Howard keeps a stash of them in our bathroom, in case of…." He paused. "Well, I don't really want to think about what it might be in case of."

"That's probably better," Penny agreed with a grimace. "So, are we ready?" she asked as she stood. He rose as well, looking as awkward as ever.

"I suppose," he answered, sounding as if he would have taken other offers.

Penny set her jaw and stared at him for a moment, eyes narrowed. "What would you say about…maybe leaving the blazer home this trip?" She pursed her lips and cocked her head to the side.

Sheldon looked down at himself before meeting her eyes. "The website said to dress nicely."

Penny nodded. "I agree." She moved toward him. "So, what would you say about maybe leaving the blazer home then?" He glanced down at himself again before slowly unbuttoning his jacket and handing it over to her. She gently laid it over the back of her couch.

"The weather report said it was supposed to get chilly tonight," he noted with a wistful glance at it.

"I'll let you wear my jacket if you get cold," she promised with a solemn nod. He narrowed his eyes and allowed his mouth to slide into a sarcastic sneer. She moved toward him with a grin and put her hands against his ribcage as she slipped past him to pull her coat off of the hook next to her door. He fidgeted slightly at the contact. She tried not to roll her eyes back into her head. "So, did you have a plan for supper?" she asked, looking over her shoulder at him.

He stood there in her living room in a shirt and tie, hands shoved into his pockets. Penny could almost imagine it was a normal guy she'd met at the grocery store. "No," Sheldon stated. "I thought you might like to make the choice." She stopped dead, her eyes wide.

"And you're….okay with that?" she asked unsurely.

"I brought my own fork," he intoned quietly, as if waiting for her to laugh at him. She only smiled before opening the door and ushering him out.

* * * * *

In the end, everybody won. Penny decided that given the night, they should go to Souplantation for dinner. She watched his eyes light up as she pulled into the parking lot and heard him quietly mutter something about creamy tomato soup. "So, this works?" she asked sarcastically.

They stepped into the lobby and the hostess smiled in recognition of Sheldon. Penny realized this girl worked hard for her tips, because she'd never seen anyone respond to seeing Sheldon by smiling at him. "Hi, Dr. Cooper. I didn't see you order back there."

"There isn't one. We will be eating here this evening," he offered with a tight smile before looking at Penny. Penny grinned at the girl, who seemed surprised by this turn of events. She grabbed menus and led them to a booth. When the girl had left them alone, Penny looked over the top of her menu at him.

"She seems to know you," she mentioned.

"We pick up an order every Wednesday," Sheldon answered without looking up at her.

"She's cute," Penny remarked. At this, Sheldon finally met her eyes, placing his own menu flat on the table top.

"Is she?" he asked with a sigh.

"I'm just saying," Penny replied with an innocent shrug.

"Should I go ask her if she wants to help me use the prophylactic currently in my wallet?" he asked with a blank stare. Penny dropped her head to her hands in embarrassment. "Alright then," he finished and brought the menu back up.

"You're so weird," she muttered to him as she looked over her own menu.

"You're saying that is if you didn't know me before this evening," he retorted.

Penny sighed.

She jiggled her foot until her shoe fell off.

He stared at his menu and ignored her.

"Tell me about your grandmother," she implored quietly, surprising herself. She hadn't planned on bringing this up at all. He still seemed skittish about the entire subject. To his credit, when he glanced up he only looked slightly alarmed. Then, his face settled into a comfortable expression that Penny couldn't remember ever having seen before. He seemed to be thinking deeply about something. Finally, he opened his mouth.

"She always beat me at Scrabble," he stated slowly. Penny gave him a confused expression. "Every time I went over to Meemaw's house, we would play Scrabble." His face looked so happy, natural. "And the only rule was, no matter the score at the end of the game, Meemaw won. Always." He smiled at the memory and Penny couldn't help the grin that spread over her face in reaction.

"That's adorable," she noted without thinking. Sheldon gave her an uncomfortable look and glanced down at his menu again. She watched him for a moment. "Sheldon?"

"I have no idea how to response to that," he informed her as he took at drink from his water glass.

She stretched her foot out, feeling around for her shoe. "What do your instincts tell you to do?" she asked.

"I have no instincts," he responds instantly.

She smiled at him. "Of course you do," she told him. "You've just spent your whole life suppressing them. Or ignoring them." She stretched further, her toe pointed. "So now, you don't even recognize them when they hit you over the head."

Sheldon seemed to think this over for a moment before his eyes widened. Penny's foot had made contact with his calf. She pulled away quickly, a look of guilt on her face. "I lost my shoe," she explained. He nodded his head in understanding and stuck his head under the table to find it. A moment later, Penny felt the shoe being pushed under her bare foot. He resurfaced.

"Those shoes don't seem very practical, Penny."

"But they're so cute," she defended, slipping her foot back into the newly returned shoe. "Where were we?" she asked.

"You were admonishing my inability to be," he coughed, "a stud muffin."

Penny threw her head back and laughed at this. In the moments it took her to recover, Sheldon gave her that same sarcastic sneer. "I don't doubt your ability to be a stud muffin at all," she clarified. She cleared her throat. "Mostly, I just think you've spent a lot of time ignoring your penis and now you don't understand it at all."

Sheldon's eyes narrowed. "I understand everything, Penny."

She rolled her eyes and him and sucked a piece of ice through her teeth. "I'm going to remind you of that that when the check comes later and you have no idea how to figure out the tip."

* * * * *

"This," Penny stated from behind the wheel of her car, "was a great idea."

Sheldon furrowed his brow and stared straight ahead. "There was a list of approved first date activities I came across this afternoon," he remarked. "And of these, I found one I could stomach." He paused and looked over at her.

She tried not to smile as they climbed out of her car again. "You're shooting first, though."

He turned back and studied her. "Is that so you can see which angle I play so you do better?" he asked suspiciously.

"I am offended you would even suggest that," Penny answered in an overly dramatic tone. "I call dibs on the pink ball." She skipped ahead of him.

"Yes," he called. "I was planning on fighting you for it."

* * * * *

"I disagree," he said with a pout.

"Fine. Check the math," she offered as she handed the card over.

"There is no possible way you won," he stated determinedly.

She turned to grin at him, walking backwards toward the car. "Except for that part where I did," she answered cheekily.

"I will re-check this math," Sheldon remarked.

Penny reached into her purse. "Do you need a tiny pencil?" she asked with a smirk.

They slowed as they reached her car. Penny looked at him over the top of the car for a moment before calling his name. He glanced up at her . "Do you have your permit with you?"

Sheldon huffed. "Of course I have my permit with me, Penny. What good would it do to have a permit and then not carry it?"

"You want to drive?" she asked, ignoring his tone entirely. She bounced on the balls of her feet and raised her eyebrows at him.

He stared at her blankly before giving his breathy chuckle, tossing his head back slightly. "You're joking."

But Penny was already walking around the car to hand him the keys. "Come on," she said in what she hoped was an encouraging voice. "It will be fun."

"Yes," he answered sarcastically. "What kind of date doesn't end with a three-car pile up?"

Penny looked up at him. "Take the keys, Sheldon."

Reluctantly, he pulled them from her grasp.

* * * * *

"It could have gone worse," she said as they climbed the stairs together.

"Yes, I suppose I could have hit a small child or an elderly woman," Sheldon answered in a flat tone. "I have told you Penny, I am not meant to drive."

She sighed. "You limit yourself too much, Sheldon." She turned her head and glanced up at him. Penny needed to be able to stay one step ahead of him to be at the same height as he was. "For someone who seems to think the world is here merely for his own enjoyment, it seems kind of strange."

"Do I seem like I enjoy life?" he asked.

Penny thought for a moment. "You do when you win at Halo, which means only when I don't play."

He muttered something about her constant ability to cheat at the game before coughing. "I believe," he started as they reached their landing. "That this concludes our…date."

"Unless you," Penny glanced at him through her lashes, "want to come in for coffee?"

"I don't drink coffee," he answered promptly.

"Right," Penny answered with a sigh. She smiled tightly at him.

"I will wait for my grade," he stated with a curt nod.

Penny raised her eyebrows at him. "Grade for what?"

Sheldon rolled his eyes. "The evening, obviously." Penny brought her hand up to cover her mouth, hiding her smile. "As this was my first foray into the dating world, I believe it would be beneficial to everyone involved if I could receive a grade for my performance."

She stared at him in horror and shock. "You're serious?"

"Of course," he answered, surprised that she would even think he would be joking. "I do very well with goal-setting."

"Sheldon," Penny whined. "I can't give you a grade on the date." He shrugged. "Besides, you can't really be put on the same grading scale as everyone else. This was your first date."

"So, there is a grading scale," Sheldon deduced, a devious look on his face.

"You can have your own scale," she suggested.

"There can't be a curve then," he pointed out. Penny narrowed her eyes at him.

"This was a good first date," she stated honestly in a quite tone. Sheldon's gave her a crooked smile.

"It was for me as well," Sheldon answered. Penny nodded. They fell into silence. "So, what happens next?" he asked after a moment.

Penny smirked up at him. "What did your website say?" she asked.

"I didn't get to read that far," Sheldon replied, shaking his head. He paused to think. "But I assume the condom comes in at some point."

Penny laughed. "The condom does not come in at some point." She bit her lower lip and screwed up her courage. "But…you could kiss me." The reaction was instantaneous. He was moving away from her, his eyes averting from her gaze. He suddenly didn't seem to be comfortable in his own skin. She let out a chuckle. "Good night, Sheldon."

His shoulders sagged slightly. "Good evening, Penny."

She closed the door behind her and landed against it, shaking her head. Flipping on the light, her eyes landed on the vase of daisies. Did he really remember everything she'd ever said? It was nerve-wracking to think so. Penny was sure some or most of what she had ever said to him wasn't that nice. Then she noticed his ugly, horrible blazer, still folded over the back of her couch. Moving forward quickly, she grasped it and set off across the hall.

She knocked twice and waited for someone to answer. It was only a moment later that the door was opening and he was standing there, tie loosened and shoes discarded. She held it up for him wordlessly. He pulled it from her grasp. Penny gave him a small smile. Just as she was turning to return to her apartment, he descended on her, pecking her on the lips with great accuracy. When he pulled away, the look on his face told her he was surprised it had just happened. She smiled again.

"A", she murmured to him before turning and walking away.

"How am I supposed to improve on that?" he asked after a moment.

******

As of right now, this is only at a 'T' rating, but I plan on moving it into the 'M' catergory. Heads up for y' all.