**Well, here we've finally come to the last chapter! I really want to thank everyone that has stuck to this fic from the very beginning and has left me such wonderful comments that always made my day! Thank you so much for being such wonderful and fun readers! XDD **
"Alright, this isn't going to be easy, and will definitely require everyone to stick to their posts. Wolowitz and Koothrapali will guard the hill by our flag, Leonard and I will hold off anyone trying to get in our fort, and Blondie and Dumbass will have to go on the offensive."
Sheldon just glared at Leslie as she laid out their battle plan and spoke in a huff, "Excuse me!"
She just gave him her usual antagonistic smirk and said, "Fine. Blondie McSharpshooter and Dr. Dumbass."
Penny just rolled her eyes at Leslie and Sheldon sputtered as he tried to come up with a response, but as he wasn't much good at stooping to her level.
"Okay, let's move." she said with a nod and then everyone moved to their posts.
There was a bit of a scowl on Sheldon's face, and Penny obviously saw it even through their masks and she said, "Hey don't let her bother you. She's the dumbass for not realizing how awesome we are!"
He let out a small sigh and said, "I suppose you're right. It's not as though I have much of a choice in dealing with her as Leonard and Dr. Winkle have entered into a similar arrangement as ourselves."
"Wow...I didn't know the two of them were dating." Penny said, making a face of mild surprise as she took the information in.
She then smiled slightly and said, "Well, good for Leonard. I'm glad he's gotten out there and found someone on his own."
"It can be thought of as beneficial that after my return home, he did not spend that time glaring at me or otherwise engaging me in other negative interactions, but whether the development of his and Dr. Winkle's relationship is positive is yet to be seen. It is not as though I should be expected to like someone whose line of research is most likely squandering Cal Tech's finances and whose humor is so crude that she is forced to resort to profanity to get her point across." Sheldon said thoughtfully with a small frown.
It made Penny laugh for some reason. In the four months they had been officially dating, he still was no closer to figuring out the motivation behind many of her actions, though he knew that he'd always keep striving to figure it all out. He wouldn't have risen to the top of his profession with any less of his drive for obtaining knowledge and truth that he possessed.
"Sometimes our friends will date people we don't like. You should get used to it." she said with a little smirk, reaching out with the hand that wasn't holding her paintball gun to lightly brush the back of his fingers on his similarly free hand.
Sheldon's lips couldn't help but twitch upward at the light touch, immediately feeling happier just due to her presence. Perhaps Leonard was being extremely illogical in dating Leslie Winkle, given their conflicting ideologies regarding the origin of the universe, but he knew that his relationship with Penny was the most right thing of his life.
Now he couldn't picture what his life would be like without her around. He used to think that the perfect world would leave him alone to do his research without any outside influence, but as he got older, he realized that having his friends, and now Penny, in his life was absolutely essential. It was true that he butted heads with all of them over one thing or another at times, but not having any of them in his life would leave him terribly lonely.
Though, he'd never admit to any of it out loud. He had a logical face to maintain with the people in his life, and he didn't want to give them the idea that Penny had been rubbing off on him as much as she had. His thoughts were broken when she grabbed his hand to bring his attention back to her and pull him over to a spot behind a tree that afforded them some cover and spoke quietly, "We'll wait for the Math department here. They're not going to get the jump on us this time."
Sheldon just nodded and waited with her, knowing that she'd be doing most of the shooting while he concentrated on more covert operations, basically hiding behind trees while Penny took care of anyone they happened to come across. The two of them waited silently, until they started hearing some sounds in the brush ahead.
She nodded at him quietly and kept her gun cocked and ready. Sheldon, on the other hand, ducked behind the nearest tree and kept out of sight, but he made sure he could keep watching her, as he found her of a strange kind of beauty as she shot people down mercilessly with her paintball gun. As the unsuspecting people of the math tasted her wrath, he just watched her carefully. He was surprised that, for once, his analytical mind was at rest.
He was proud to say that he wasn't usually taken in solely by an object's aesthetic beauty, but he'd long conceded that Penny was one of a kind. Her passion for life had to be commended and over the time he knew her, he had to say he admired her for it. As the last of the math people went down, he contemplated the relationship between them.
Love had always been an entity he had always turned his back on, feeling as though it was an unnecessary and illogical distraction from the important things in life, namely Physics, video games, comics, and Star Trek. But, through some stroke of luck, Penny had worked her way into his life, and now he knew he would keenly feel her absence were she ever to leave.
Love...When Penny determined that she had finished the rest of the competitors off, she lifted up her mask, gave him a mischievous grin, and then playfully blew over the top of her paintball gun. Sheldon still would not declare himself an expert on the emotion, at least not until he'd gotten a minimum of three papers published on the subject, but his breath hitched as he gave her a small smile in response.
He knew in that moment that he loved her, for all that she was and for all that she'd pushed him into being. Looking around him in a quick cursory glance, he then also lifted off his own mask and put down his gun, reaching out to grab her hand as she gave him a curious look.
He gulped in nervousness, but he pushed forward with what he had to say, knowing that waiting never made the act any less nerve wracking.
"Penny..." his voice was quiet but heartfelt as he gave her his confession, "I love you. As sure as the refraction of light into all of its different wavelengths when it hits a glass prism, I love you."
Then, with great hesitance, as he still was not much good at public affection, he leaned forward to kiss her softly. He'd come to understand, from all of the romantic movies that Penny had conned him into watching, that some form of physical affection had to accompany a declaration of love, and he definitely wasn't one to break precedent.
When he finally pulled back, the smile on Penny's face was so bright that his heart skipped a beat, and she replied, "Oh, honey...I love you, too."
She let her gun drop to the floor and she threw her arms around his neck to give him a far more enthusiastic kiss, which he gladly accepted. Sure, he didn't much like public displays of affection, but he would grant an exception in this case. She held the embrace and kiss for a long moment, until she pulled back and said, "Come on, we should go find the others."
She replaced her mask and picked up her gun, and Sheldon did the same. As they began to walk in the direction of their base, Penny reached out to grab his hand. Sheldon gripped back tightly, knowing that no matter what the future held, there was very little that would make him want to let that hand go.