Title: The Communication Progression
Summary: Five times Sheldon has told Penny something, and the one time she tells him.
Disclaimer: If I owned The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon and Penny totally would have been doing it from like, day one.
The sunlight filters in through Penny's window, illuminating the dust that has yet to settle. Mounds of clothing have settled themselves on top of her couch, her counters, and her table…a never-ending mess of epic proportions. Sheldon would have a fit if he saw it, Penny thinks to herself as she bites into an uncooked Poptart.
Knock knock knock. "Penny."
Speak of the obsessive compulsive devil. A small smile worms its way onto Penny's face as she crosses to the door, brushing crumbs off of her tank top.
Knock knock knock. "Penny."
"I'm coming, Sheldon!" she calls, gathering clothes on her way in an attempt to ease the impending panic attack Sheldon was sure to have. There's a slight pause between her thoughts and the last, less needy triple knock and call of her name. Jamming the last piece of Poptart into her mouth, she throws the door open and gives Sheldon a close mouthed smile. "Hey 'Fheldon."
He gawks at her, aghast at her state. "My word, Penny," he tuts, casting a judgmental eye up and down her person. "If this is how you live while Leonard, Howard, Raj and I are still in Pasadena, I shudder to think of how you will fare whilst we are in the Arctic."
She swallows thickly, tears biting at her eyes as the larger pieces of Poptart struggle down her throat. "I think I'll manage." Turning around with a roll of her eyes, she wanders further into her apartment. Sheldon's reluctant footsteps follow her.
"Yes, well, seeing as how our flight departs tomorrow, I thought I would take this opportunity-"
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Collect your mail, sort it by spam and also alphabetically. Make sure your apartment is dusted everyday, and that the food in your fridge doesn't rot. I know, sweetie. You've told me a million times."
He stares at her, slightly agog, before clearing his throat. "First, I would like to point out that it is highly improbable that I have told that to you one million times. I would estimate underneath the number fifty. And…" his speech stutters, catching her attention. "While I do find it…imperative that you heed my requests. I stopped by merely to inform you that while I am away, I cannot shake the notion that I will…regret your absence." A flush blossoms across his cheeks, his gaze fixed firmly on a spot somewhere above her left shoulder.
It takes a moment for Sheldon's words to sink through Penny's geek filter, and when the message hits home she can't help but smile. "Aww, sweetie," she coos, clasping her hands together. She takes a step towards him, impressed when he only flinches slightly. "Are you saying you're going to miss me?"
His eyebrow twitches as he nods his head in the affirmative. "I find myself inexplicably…remorseful at the idea of spending three months without your person nearby or attempting to steal my coffee supplies." His impossibly blue eyes slide towards her, finally. An infinitesimal smile graces his lips. "I will, as you say, miss you."
Her breath catches in her throat momentarily at the look in his eyes. It's one of those sweet moments where Sheldon is being playful without his usual condescension. Rare, and far and few between, but sweet none the less.
Which is probably why she grins at him, eyes wet, and rushes forward for a hug. He must have somehow anticipated her movement because by the time she reaches him, his arms are awkwardly hovering around her. She wraps her arms around his narrow waist and burrows her head into his chest, inhaling his clean smell. "I'm going to regret your absence, too, Sheldon."
His body relaxes almost immediately, and those long sinewy arms find their way around her.
Penny wakes up. Penny goes to work. Penny smiles, a fraud stretched between her cheeks. Penny comes home, skittering past the mailboxes, up the stairs, avoiding the apartment across the hall. Penny cries.
It's five days after her relationship with Leonard crashes and burns. Horribly. Painfully. The sting of Leonard's words still ring loudly in her ears, rattling around in her skull.
She had been sick and tired as being treated as an object, a possession that Leonard could flaunt to anyone to prove that he could, in fact, bag a hot girl who would willingly have sex with him. When she had confronted him about it, his face had turned an ugly shade of red and he started sputtering about how he 'saw her first' and 'he deserves to get the girl after all he's done for her.'
If there's one thing that Penny absolutely cannot stand, it's being objectified. She lost her temper, throwing his behavior and his lackluster skills in the sack in his face. She told him she was sick of not being able to hang out with the guys without him telling her she 'didn't have to, now that she was his girlfriend.' Horrified by his behavior towards Sheldon.
Which was, oddly, where Leonard had completely and totally lost his cool. He had begun screaming at her, his voice a shrill whine, about how he had patiently waited for her to come to her senses from the moment he saw her standing in her apartment. How he had watched her 'whore around' while he bided his time.
The rest of the argument was a blur of insults and tears. It had all ended with Penny throwing a plate at the wall behind Leonard and screaming at him to get out of her apartment. At the sight of her tear stained face, the blood had drained from his face as the reality of their breakup sunk in. He stuttered out a half-assed apology, attempted to console her, and was met with a vicious slap to the face.
They hadn't spoken since.
Penny sniffles, rubbing at her nose with the sleeve of her sweatshirt. She's watching 'Transformers,' and even robots in disguise can't keep her from crying. Even though it's a damn cool movie. It just…reminds her too much of her boys.
Well. The four men who used to be 'her boys.' She hasn't spoken to any of them since that day. While it's not as if she ever really had a quality conversation with Raj or Howard, she finds herself missing Sheldon's presence in her life above the others. While her daily routine was not as thoroughly scheduled as the tall scientist, he had definitely become a common part of her life, and to suddenly go cold turkey felt…wrong.
She buries her face against the pillow on her couch, fingers grasping at the blanket she has wrapped around herself. A few tears drip slowly from the corners of her eyes, trailing down her nose and puddling silently onto the fabric beneath her head.
Just as she's settling in for a nice long cry, she hears it. A familiar noise, one that sends her bolting upright.
Knock knock knock. "Penny."
She nearly falls flat on her face when she scrambles off of the couch, blanket tangled around her legs.
Knock knock knock. "Penny."
"Coming!" she croaks out, hastily throwing her hair into a bun on top of her head. "Just…just a second, Sheldon." She smoothes her hands down over her hair once more, and then throws the door open. Sheldon's hand is poised to knock again, and he looks at her, momentarily lost, before reaching around and knocking again. Knock knock knock. "Penny."
She cracks a weak smile, feeling her pulse skip a little at his familiar antics. "Hey, Moonpie."
He frowns at her, a scowl that deepens the lines on his forehead. "Only Meemaw may call me Moonpie," he reminds her in a tone that stresses the fact that this is, at least, the fifteenth time he has told her this.
She grins at him. "I don't care. Moonpie." Just for good measure, she sticks her tongue out him a little. He looks expectedly disgusted.
"Penny, that is hardly sanitary. Please put your tongue back in your mouth."
She giggles a little, and moves aside to let him into her apartment. He wrinkles his nose at the total disaster that is her living room, but says nothing otherwise. He turns to her, hands clasped behind his back, and waits until she's shut the door to speak.
"As you well may know, I am completely aware that you and Leonard have stopped your fallacy of a relationship and ceased having coitus-"
"Sex, Sheldon. It's called sex."
He gives her a hard stare for a second before continuing. "As I was saying. You and Leonard have ceased having coitus. As it is stated in our roommate agreement, I have been appropriately regretful on his behalf, but the constant sound of music describing heartache has proven to be too much. I understand that he was particularly…enamored with you, but it is my personal opinion that the man must cut his losses and move forward with his life."
Penny stares at him, mouth slightly ajar, and he recognizes the need to amend his statement. "I want him to stop whining and get over it."
She frowns at him a little. "Well, we did break up less than a week ago, Sheldon. And…we said some pretty harsh things to each other. We were both at fault, you know."
He flaps a hand around, dismissing her statement. "Yes, well, Leonard has never held an appropriate regard for you, as it were. It seems to me that he viewed you as more of a possession than a paramour."
She blinks. "What are you trying to say, Sheldon?"
Sheldon tilts his neck, cracking the bones there, before continuing. "To use your colloquial terms…I suppose I would be informing you that I do not believe that Leonard deserved you. Nor did you deserve the…unpleasant words that I overheard him shouting at you five days ago." He glances up at her through lowered lashes. "You are better than that."
Tears bite at her eyes, and her teeth worry at her bottom lip for a moment, before she rushes towards him. Much like the last time he was unexpectedly sweet, his body is braced for impact. This time, though, there is no awkward readjustment of arms as he succumbs to the sensation of being hugged. His long, thin arms loop around her waist almost immediately, one hand even rubbing at the small of her back.
"There, there," he murmurs. "Sheldon's here."
She holds herself against him for a good few minutes, tears soaking into his Flash t-shirt, before she leans back a little, eyelashes brushing against his jaw. "You've gotten better at hugging."
Sheldon clears his throat. "Yes, well, I have watched several videos on YouTube about the subject."
She presses her cheek back against the soft material of his shirt and giggles, feeling lighter for the first time in months.
Penny and Sheldon are sitting in her (much cleaner) apartment, watching Star Trek the next time he catches her by surprise. The two of them have been spending more and more time together lately, Sheldon's typical stubborn nature extending to keeping Penny as a part of his daily routine despite the messy breakup between her and Leonard. By now, three months have passed since their awful exchange, and the two of them have made their peace and are even back to a tentative stage of friendship.
Sheldon, for whatever reason, has managed to overcome his usual fear of human contact, but only when it comes to Penny. She's even been able to encroach on 'his spot' a few times without earning a strike or a stern look. For instance, as they watch the destruction of planet Vulcan, she's leaning her head lightly against his shoulder, watching with intense concentration as the red matter consumes Spock's home. She barely notices the brush of fingers against her skin as Sheldon's hand hangs over her shoulder.
She's still concentrating on the movie when suddenly, it's paused. Spock and the other Vulcans are in the middle of beaming back to the ship, frozen in time. She looks up at Sheldon, shocked that he would dare miss a moment of any version of Star Trek.
His face is pinched in a way that she knows means he's been seriously thinking something over. Thoughts of Vulcan and Spock flee her mind, and all of her attention is focused on Sheldon and what could possibly be putting that look on his face.
"Moonpie?" she questions, tilting her head.
"Penny," he begins, his gaze still fixed on the television set. "I am under the impression that in the past few months you and I have been enjoying one another's company, more so than we have in the entirety of our acquaintance." He glances at her out of the corner of his eye. "Am I correct?"
She nods, still confused. His eyes shift back to gaze in front of him.
"As is common between two individuals who enjoy spending time together, I would like to extend an offer to you." His shoulders shift, and he turns his whole torso towards her, gazing at her forehead more than her eyes themselves. "Though I had previously believed myself above basic human needs and emotions, I find that I am…pleased by your appearance. You are a classically attractive female, one with suitable wit and intelligence, all of which are ideal qualities in a mate."
Her eyebrows are probably off of her face at this point, she's raised them so high. Her lips are parted in astonishment, unable to form words after this…development. Sheldon, however, doesn't seem to mind. He barrels forward with his usual finesse.
"I would find it extremely pleasing if you would accompany me to a CalTech banquet tomorrow night. I'm sure you will find a dress that is tasteful and flattering to your figure. If it has not yet been made clear to you, I am asking you out on what you would deem a 'date'." His incredible eyes finally shift, meeting her stunned gaze. "Will you accept?"
Penny stays silent for several moments longer, and it's only when Sheldon's expression slides into unease that she realizes that he probably needs a response. "Oh," she croaks, and swallows the lump in her throat. "Oh, Sheldon…" Her hand reaches up and cups his cheek, and her heart jumps a little when he leans into her palm. A grin works its way across her face, and suddenly she's throwing her arms around his neck and crushing her lips against his.
Clearly, this is a development that Sheldon wasn't expecting just yet. His lips are unresponsive and his eyes are wide open. Penny can't bring herself to care, and slides her lips away from his and down his neck. She's practically straddling his lap by the time she murmurs her answer against his neck. "I accept."
The next time, he kisses her back.
They've been dating for seven months. Seven months of only occasional handholding (only after the use of a gallon of hand sanitizer. Per hand.), chaste kisses, and make-out sessions that are surprisingly more frequent than Penny would have expected. For a guy who won't hold her hand for more than five minutes, he sure has no problem with sticking his tongue down her throat for like, forty five minutes at a time. Or, you know, however long she can get him to before he draws the line. Which, lucky for Penny, has been slowly creeping further and further into the 'sexy time' zone.
Seriously. She doesn't know how he doesn't, but underneath all of those layers Sheldon has gotten way more toned than he was the first time she ever sang 'Soft Kitty' to him. Not gonna lie, he's totally yummy.
But also kind of a prude.
Penny readjusts the phone that is sliding between her cheek and her shoulder, listening to Missy chatter on the other line. "Wait, wait, wait, so I put the cinnamon and sugar and…what else, in with the apples?"
Missy sighs, pretending to be exasperated. "Good Lord, Penny, it's a wonder that Sheldon can put up with you if you can't even remember to put nutmeg in Meemaw's famous apple pie."
"Hey!" Penny protests, and would have both hands on her hips if they weren't wrist deep in apple slices. "I made pie crust from scratch. Me! Good crust, too. I can't even microwave oatmeal without screwing it up. If that doesn't say love, I don't know what will."
Missy laughs on the other end, and Penny can't help but smile. Tonight's the big night…the big reveal, as it were. She's known for a month that, God help her, she is silly in love with Dr. Sheldon Cooper (PhD). For all his quirks and the ways that he drives her absolutely batty, he finds ways to be unexpectedly sweet. Like when she got the flu, and was bedridden for a week. He made her soup and only wore rubber gloves and a facemask when he came to visit her. It's not something that most people would view as a big step in a relationship, but she wasn't expecting him to visit her at all, much less without a Hazmat suit.
But yeah, now all she has to do is tell him. No big deal. Not like how he responds will either totally make or break their relationship. Or her heart.
The sound of a key turning the locks of her front door startles her so badly she almost drops the phone. "Shit, he's home!"
Missy seems to panic as well (she and her Mama have a whole lot riding on this evening). "What?! I thought you said he wasn't gonna be home for another hour!"
"That's what I thought!" Penny hisses, and hastily wipes her hands on the apron she's wearing. "I gotta go!"
"Call me later and tell me how it goes! Best of luck, baby girl!"
Penny shoves her thumb against the end call button, and turns around to face Sheldon as he walks through her front door. He raps his knuckles gently against her door three times, and says, "Hello Penny."
Yeah. They're still working on that.
"Sheldon," she says, too brightly. "Hey, Moonpie. What, um, what are you doing back so soon? I thought you weren't going to be here until six…"
He frowns, lips pulling down as his eyes flicker past her. "What are you doing?" he questions, shutting the door and walking towards her. He slides his key back into a pocket in his wallet. He's so weird.
Penny flinches as he nears, trying to scoot to her left so that he doesn't see her pie. She's so lucky she's added that nutmeg. "Uh…nothing?"
He stands in front of her, looming, and she curses the fact that he's easily a foot taller than she is. His gaze lands on the half finished pie and his eyes widen and meet hers in disbelief. "Is that…"
He obviously doesn't need to finish the question. A man with an IQ as high as his doesn't need to question the existence of a pie that he's seen millions of times before. A determine look settles over his face and he takes her by the hand (her sticky, cinnamon and apple covered hand!) and leads her to the couch. She follows, dazed. Sheldon is touching her sticky, dirty hand!
Taking her shoulders in both hands, he steers her until she's seated on the couch, and he's towering above her. Both hands clasped behind his back, he coughs into a balled fist and clears his throat before speaking. "Penelope. You and I have been involved in a physical and…" he grimaces a little. "…emotional relationship for the past 214 days. While becoming involved with a woman was never a part of the life I had foreseen for myself. However…I have become pleasantly surprised by the association that you and I have formed with one another."
Her fingers reach out and tug on the hem of his t-shirt, pulling him down onto the couch beside her. He folds in on himself relatively easily, and sits next to her, knees bumping against hers. "You have known me now for quite some time. You were aware of my…lack o f regard for basic human emotions, especially between two individuals who were having coitus with one another."
Yeah, they're still working on the coitus thing, too.
Sheldon's fingers are trembling.
"However," he says, voice thickening into the Texan drawl he tries so hard to hide. "I find that when it comes to you…my usual inhibitions are lessened. I am grateful for your appearance in my life, though it has taken some getting used to, as you have thoroughly interrupted the schedule to which I had become accustomed. Though you have sent my routine into a veritable tailspin, I find that your presence is not unwelcome."
Penny furrows her brows at him, totally lost as to where this is going. "Sweetie, I don't understand."
He takes a deep breath. "I have spent many hours of the past few days using the search engine Google to its full extent. I have taken notes, done my research, and have come to the only reasonable conclusion." He looks triumphant, as though this was the hardest part of the whole spiel.
And says nothing else.
"And?" Penny prods.
"Ah, yes," he nods enthusiastically. "As it would appear, I have succumbed to the basic human emotion of having romantic inclinations towards you. All of my research has lead me to conclude that I am in love with you."
Penny's eyelashes crush together as she shuts her eyes and twines her fingers in his. Tears are biting at her eyelids. "Say it again," she whispers.
"I am fairly certain you heard-"
"Sheldon!" she snaps, opening her eyes and tightening her grip. "Say it. Again."
"Oh very well," he says crossly. "As I thought I had made clear before, I am very much in love with you." He narrows his eyes at her. "Am I right to presume you heard me that time?"
The grin on her face feels like it's going to stretch right off her head, and she launches herself into his arms. "I love you so much," she murmurs against his lips, kissing him hard. She feels his lips quirk into a smile before he starts kissing her back.
That night, they totally go all the way.
(It's not the best she's ever had. But it's still pretty awesome.)
She's eating frosted flakes in bed, slurping up the milk, when he places a small box on her knee and catches her off guard. She chokes on the corn flakes as the deep blue square weighs down on her knee just slightly, and through her coughing she tries to ask Sheldon what it is. It's only been a year and a half, and while she desperately hopes it's what she thinks it is, she doesn't know if their relationship has reached that point on the plotline in Sheldon's brain.
Mostly, his response to her question is to look horrified at the chewed up bits of cereal that have landed on his jeans (she knows he must really love her when he allows her to take him shopping one day. The dark denim he wears now is a result of that). Verbally, he tells her to open the box.
She places her cereal on the bedside table and gently strokes the navy velvet with her fingertips before opening the box. She gasps.
"Oh, Sheldon," she coos as she holds the ring between her fingers. "Sweetie, it's gorgeous!"
He nods, looking immensely pleased with himself. "It is an engagement ring," he announces to her.
She laughs tearfully, happily. "I got that, sweetie."
He shifts from his seat on the bed, and even kneels in front of her, plucking the gorgeous 3 carat yellow diamond from her fingers. "I love you," he says very seriously. "And I would like to marry you and produce children that will be both physically attractive and intellectually superior."
"Yes!" she beams, tackling him onto the floor. "Oh, Moonpie…yes!"
When they call Missy later, she shrieks through the other end that "It's about damn time."
Penny's tapping her fingers against the kitchen countertop of the small home that she and Sheldon had bought two months ago. The engagement ring on her left hand glistens in the sunlight, and in five months it will have a wedding ring to keep it company. Sheldon glances up at her from the table, cocking an eyebrow in irritation.
"Might I request that you desist?"
She looks down at her noisy fingers and blushes. "Oh. Yeah. Sorry. I've just been thinking about something."
It's rare that that statement comes out of her mouth, and Sheldon looks immediately intrigued. His fingers steeple together and he looks at her intently. "Go on."
She swallows, nervous beyond all believe. Her pocket is weighed down heavily with the objects of her thinking, and she's shaking as she crosses over to him. "So um. That whole 'twin' thing you have with Missy. That's…genetic, right?"
"Why, yes," he says, perplexed. "Did you not have a basic education in life science when you were in junior high school?"
"What? No, yeah, I did but I was just wondering if, you know. Your family has a history with like…twins."
"My Meemaw has a fraternal twin brother, much like Missy and myself." His attention has wandered back to whatever comic book he's reading. "Why do you ask?"
With a trembling hand, she digs out the contents of her pockets and places them on the table in front of him. He lowers the comic slowly, staring at the three positive pregnancy tests.
"I'm pregnant," she says weakly, smiling and shrugging at him.
He's silent for a few moments, taking the time to thoroughly stare at the three sticks on the table. Her knees are about to buckle from nerves when one of Sheldon's large hands press against her lower back and bring her closer to him. He presses a gentle kiss against her still flat belly, and she bites her lip and tries not to cry. Her fingers weave through his short dark hair, and he gazes up at her, blue eyes shining.
"I'm afraid," he murmurs, rubbing his hand up and down her back (and yeah, he's far more affectionate that he ever used to be), "that my mama just might have your hide."
Though she does fear the wrath of Mary Cooper in the face of having a baby out of wedlock, all Penny can do now is hold her fiancée's head against her pregnant belly and laugh.
"Are you happy?" she asks him later, when they're comfortably spooned in bed.
His hand presses against the abs that are sure to melt away as she gains her pregnancy weight. His lips brush against the nape of her neck. "I do not believe that I could be any happier than I am in this moment."
Their fingers tangle against the fabric of their sheets.