This is an experiment that took a few odd turns and I'm pretty sure crossed into incoherent territory at some point. Sorry. I was falling asleep by the time I got this typed up. It's purpose was just to help me shake off the constraints I've put on myself when it comes to Big Bang Theory fic anyway. So in that regards - mission accomplished. :)

It doesn't mean anything.

That's what Penny tells herself when she pulls back. Just a kiss. A casual meeting of lips. It means nothing.

His eyes are wide after it. He doesn't say anything (not that he would) and simply turns around and walks across the hall.

Nothing changes. He still can't talk to her. She still alternates between teasing and pitying him. Nothing's different.

Until they kiss again.

This time there's no shock or fear reflected in his eyes. This time it's something else in his gaze. Something that she's never seen before in Raj, but that she later decides suits him well.

She begins to text Raj with her computer problems. Sheldon's annoyingly condescending, Leonard's a complicated mess that she's not ready to deal with, and Howard's just no. It only makes sense to contact Raj.

The kissing doesn't become a regular event. She doesn't make up crises to get him in her apartment. He doesn't find excuses to linger when he is there. The kisses just happen occasionally whenever he fixes her internet or cleans her keyboard. She's excited to return to streaming music and looking up purses and shoes that she can't afford. That's all.

The kissing turns into making out during a Sex and the City marathon.

It wasn't planned. Penny had been in the middle of re-watching her season 3 DVDs when Raj was over and he kept looking up to follow the Carrie-Aiden-Mr. Big saga rather than focusing on her laptop. That's when she learned that Raj was a Sex and the City fan. She wishes she had known that earlier. They could have used that to annoy the other guys at some point.

Anyway, two and a half hours afer inviting Raj to join her, the two of them are tucked into the corner of her couch. She braces herself on the armrest and his hands are tangled up in her hair. It's simple and easy and doesn't go anywhere and that right there might be the best thing about it.

The making out occurs now and again too.

It's nothing serious, though. He's Raj and she's just broken his friend's heart and it would be extremely weird for something to start up between them. Well something more than the making out.

But one night, the (not quite so) accidental make-out session turns into something more heated and she winds up pressed against her bedroom door with his warm hands sliding across her stomach and around her back and their tongues carrying on a never-ending battle for control (and seriously why are the geeky guys so much better kissers?).

Finally Penny pulls back to look him in the eye.

"Raj?" she says, asking so much more than just his name. You won't fall in love with me too, will you? Because she can't handle that, not on top of her mixed up feelings for Leonard and the shattered remnants of that relationship. She needs to know she isn't about to destroy someone else.

Raj quirks his eyebrow as he processes his question. When he works it out, he rolls his eyes and sticks out his tongue. Then he smiles and winks at her.

Penny laughs in relief. She engulfs him in a hug and swallows back the small lump in her throat. She wishes he had been able to talk to her all along and not just when he drank alcohol. She thinks he could have been the best friend she's so desperately needed rather than just a distraction.

Maybe he still can be.