Chapter 1

He could not understand it. He long conceded that many things Penny did were incomprehensible, but this was getting ridiculous. It was Penny that had the gall to touch his food and then sit in his spot, so why would Leonard want him to apologize?

Preposterous! He would most definitely do no such thing. On possibly touching his food at the Cheesecake Factory and then interfering with his laundry night, the bar in their confrontation had been raised, so he similarly upped his retaliation. It mattered not to him that Penny's unmentionables ended up on a twenty five foot tall clothes line, as it was the due consequence of her actions.

It was this certainty that made the strange sinking in his gut quite curious and unexplainable on seeing her reaction to his latest move in their back and forth. It was already gracious of him to be willing accept an apology from her, given her latest infractions, so he wasn't sure what else to do in this situation.

And, he never was one to give up on something when he knew he was in the right. This was the reason he refused to give Penny any ground in her attempt to compromise after finding her clothes on the telephone wires. But, really, his sinking feeling returned when he found his mother calling him to scold him over his completely logical behavior. He knew that Leonard must have had something to do with this, but he could not accuse him without the proof. He would let that go, for the time being.

All right, he would concede. Maybe it wasn't completely logical after all. Perhaps…he had overstepped his bounds with this move. He shuffled uncomfortably over the next evening to Penny's apartment to apologize, as per his mother's order, but, deep down, he realized that this was the right thing to do. Not that he would admit it to anyone.

He knocked in his usual way at her door, though he was noticeably less vociferous, and waited for her to answer. When she did, he apologized to her the way his mother wanted him to, and to show that he meant it, he also rescinded her strikes and allowed her back to his apartment. It was far more than he would have done for anyone else, so he dearly hoped that she understood the significance.

As she accepted his apology, he just stared at the floor. He was no good in situations like this, especially when it was he having to apologize for something that he didn't know was wrong. Well, at least for the most part. He probably wouldn't have tacked on his evil cackle to Penny and Leonard's reactions to his stunt with her clothing if he didn't.

But now, he just stood there awkwardly, unsure of what to say next after she complimented his step on attempting to repair their friendship, still looking at the floor. He was about to say good bye so that he could continue with his day's routine, but he stiffened and his eyes widened in surprise as he saw her leaning in close to him and planting a soft kiss on his cheek.

She smiled when she saw the look on his face, and then said, "Good night, Sheldon."

But he was rooted to the spot. He couldn't move himself, still stuck on the sensation that her lips on his cheek left. It was most curious, as he was sure he'd never felt anything like it before, and when he raised his wide eyes to look at her, he finally knew what it felt like to figuratively have your heart beating in your throat.

She looked back at him, and though Sheldon was no expert on reading people's expressions, he had the distinct impression that she had the same feeling. In addition to his elevated heart rate, he suddenly realized he was having trouble breathing. Before he could even wonder if somehow his throat way had gotten constricted, she was moving forward again, this time to meet his lips with her own.

He made a rather undignified kind of squeak and froze completely. He was certain that this was most unusual behavior between friends, but he was not completely certain how interactions in male-female friendships were to differ from male-male friendships, as Penny was admittedly his only female friend.

That, and the fact that his lips were tingling in an admittedly pleasant way from the contact. Not knowing what else to do, he held still in that awkwardly stiff position until his breath ran out, and then he pulled away to gasp for air and say in shock, "P-Penny!"

She then looked back at him in shock, as if she just realized what had happened, and as she answered, she'd flushed completely red, "Oh, Sheldon, I-I didn't mean— "

Sheldon just staggered backwards from her, his eyes still completely wide in shock, blinking at her silently, trying so hard not to be as flabbergasted by this as he was, and failing completely. When he could finally breathe again, he blinked one more time at her and said, "Good night, Penny."

He didn't even wait for her response as he turned and hightailed it back to his own apartment, quickly shutting the door behind him. Leonard caught the look on his face and just raised an eyebrow at him, and cautiously asked, "So, how'd it go?"

Sheldon didn't say anything for a long moment, and just blinked for a second before he said, "It went satisfactorily. Good night, Leonard."

"Isn't it a little earlier than you usually – " he started saying in confusion.

"Good night." Sheldon repeated a little pointedly, his look turning a little more harsh.

"Okay, good night." Leonard said, throwing up his hands and shaking his head.

Sheldon didn't stick around in the living room, just moving straight to his bedroom. After changing into the appropriate pajamas for this day of the week, he found that he could not sleep. He could only replay that moment with Penny over and over in his mind. What did it mean? Why did she do that? He simply couldn't figure it out.

Penny's behavior was often too illogical and random to apply any sort of algorithm to it to predict or explain the reasoning behind it, so he was absolutely stumped. He was even more troubled by how the actions made him feel. Feel…now that was something he didn't find himself thinking about very often. It was a pleasant sensation, which is why he didn't pull away from her much faster than he did.

Did these actions forever change their relationship as he understood it? Or were they to acknowledge this change, whatever it was, the next time they saw each other? This uncertainty gnawed at him until he fell into a fitful sleep.

Sheldon paced around his room. It was Chinese food night, and this night was one when Penny always came over and ate with them. How would he get through this night? He was no good at keeping secrets, but he knew that he couldn't tell anyone about what happened. He even wished that he could forget about it.

Life was so much simpler without such a complication. Why did Leonard, Howard, and Raj want to find a female companion so badly? It seemed to add unnecessary complications to life. He was not even in a relationship with Penny, and it was already complicating things.

But, what if Penny now thought that they were? What if she made gestures toward him that would imply as such in front of everyone? Sheldon paced a little faster and made a small noise of anxiousness and helplessness. He could not control what others did, even if he wished he could with his mind.

"Sheldon, I'm back." He heard Leonard's voice from the living room and he let out a breath of frustration.

He could not avoid this, no matter how much he wanted to. He would have to make the appropriate responses to any possible actions Penny may take regarding their changed relationship when they came. He hated going into a situation unprepared, but his hand was forced. He then walked out of his room to join Leonard outside and he counted down minutes to Penny's arrival and his subsequent embarrassment.