Penny worked the diner shift with gusto on Wednesday night. Earlier that day she had gone to an audition and gotten the part. She had been so excited she had gone straight to Leonard and Sheldon's apartment and given them both bear hugs. It had been very awkward hugging Sheldon, but she had been so happy it hadn't even mattered. He had been stiff and rigid, unsure how to interact with her. She didn't mind though, she was just too happy to let him ruin her sunny disposition, even when he tried to explain the reasons why hugging is unsanitary and harmful to his immune system. By this time those little speeches and protests came like music to Penny, so she just listened to it, let it flow from his mouth like a slow symphony.
Now Penny was remembering the hug more clearly. It had been a strained hug, yes, but it had been nice. Ever since she and Leonard had broken up, she had been lethargic and Sheldon had been the one there for her. He would come over almost every night and stay up late with her to watch Star Treck and Firefly. He would help clean up her apartment and sometimes sing soft kitty. She had felt like a small, vulnerable child, but in Sheldon's presence, she felt safe.
"Hey, table 4 needs their order!"
Penny snapped out of her thoughts and made her way to the kitchen. She wanted to tell herself that it was crazy to think about Sheldon as if he were someone she could actually have feelings for; she knew that he wasn't ready nor would he probably ever be, for any sort of romantic relationship. Penny told herself that was just fine with her, but she couldn't quite convince herself.
She made her way over to table 4 with the tray in her hand and the drink in the other. It had been a good day and she wasn't going to let her strange thoughts get in the way of her excitement.
As she got closer to table 4, she got a flutter in her stomach. She could feel herself flush under his gaze.
"Sheldon, what are you doing here? It's Wednesday. You never come here on Wednesday," Penny said sounding somewhat shocked.
" I wanted to properly congratulate you on your part. I realize I was not very supportive back at the apartment, but I'm truly and sincerely happy for you, Penny. Congratulations."
Sheldon gave a genuine smile and it made Penny's heart swell. Sheldon was not one to be kind and happy for others, and it made Penny feel special to have him telling her this.
Before she knew it, she was giving Sheldon a hug that almost chocked him. But this time he didn't squirm of go rigid, he cautiously put his arms around her and hugged her back. At that moment Penny knew that there might be some hope for him after all. She grinned like an idiot after the hug and looked down at him sitting in the chair. He seemed content with the contact and thanked her for the cheese-burger.
When she went back to the waitress station Bernadette gave her an inquisitive look.
"What was that?" she asked quietly.
"What was what?" asked Penny unconvincingly.
"You know, the hug. It was kind of… weird," she said.
"Oh that was nothing. Sheldon was just congratulating me for getting a part in this show."
And then she was gone leaving Penny with a fluttery stomach and an uncontrollable blush as she looked at Sheldon trying desperately to cover the bulge in his pants with his napkin.