My second TBBT fic, but the first one published. Short but Shenny!

Plus, a "prize" for whoever finds the movie reference in this fic!

This had to be the stupidest idea. Ever. No, thinking that this was a good idea in the first place was a stupid idea.

"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," Penny complained to the tall genius sitting next to her.

Sheldon looked down at her, physically and mentally. "You had previously stated that perhaps gaining more experience would give you yet more to fall back on. I simply agreed and gathered the necessary materials needed to help you accomplish your ambitions."

"Well, if you were gonna do that, why couldn't you have found a casting director who's got a thing for blonde-aspiring-Cheesecake Factory-waitresses?" she fired back, entering a staring contest with Sheldon.

He stared back.

She kept staring.

He stared. And stared. His tic showed up.

He groaned in frustration. "Just when I think I've got the hang of it. Darn you, gods of sarcasm."

She sighed into the open air of apartment 4B and then scanned the papers. "Sweetie, CalTech? Seriously?"

He shuffled some papers into yet another anally organized stack. "You gave no specifications, so I gathered an even sampling taking into consideration all factors, including location, student diversity, financial burdens, drama programs-"

"Drama programs? Sheldon, if I'm gonna go to college, it's to learn how to do something else if acting doesn't work out! Not to obsess over it again! Besides," she added, attempting to glare the papers out of existence, "I've already taken acting and drama classes."

Sheldon paused.

"And how's that workin' out for ya?" the Texan drawl asked, innocent and biting at the same time.

She growled. "Sheld - no, you know what? I give up."

"Give up?" he asked in mortification as she stood from his sofa.

"Yes, Sheldon, giving up. I can't do this! If I couldn't finish community college in Nebraska, what makes anybody think I can do it in Pasadena, living across from two of the smartest people I know?"

Pause. Then: "Technically, I am the smartest person in your acquaintance."

"My point exactly, thank you, Dr. Cooper!" she exclaimed. She breathed heavily, then sat down on the couch again, small tears starting to run down her cheeks. "This is so pathetic. I'm giving up before I've even started."

Sheldon's normal response was to pat her back. "There, there. Sheldon's here."

She was rather in shock when he - agonizingly slowly - put an arm around her shoulders, rubbing small circles.

"I'm sorry," he quietly said to her.

Penny sniffles in shock. "What?"

"I didn't want to pressure you into this, and now I feel I have. My apologies."

Sniffle. "Oh, sweetie, it's not you. I mean, you graduated college when you were ten."

"I wasn't t-"

"You've worked at the university for years. Everything academic is second nature to you." Her first instinct was to wipe her nose on her sleeve but, recalling the man with his arms around her, she grabbed a tissue, used it, then discarded it in the waste basket near the computer desks and washed her hands. "It's an entirely new jungle for me."

Sheldon stood slowly from his spot. "I understand. And, if it is acceptable to you, I would like to serve as your jungle guide, helping you cut through the harsh underbrush to find the tarnished gems hidden deep within."

Penny wasn't sure if he was talking about her or the colleges at first. Or was it another jab? she wondered. But when she saw the small reassuring smile on his lips, he knew.

He accepted his gesture of kindness; coming from him, it was a big thing. "Thank you, sweetie. Okay, let's get to work. Let's make me a freshman."




"Shut up."

"As you wish."