I love this show and this pairing. I own nothing and mean no harm. Please review.

The second time around was nearly as bad as the first, having only surpassed the utter fail of the first go due to the hazy memories brought on by the alcohol. Penny was never going to blur the lines of friendships with Leonard again, that's for sure.

Saturday was here, laundry night, well at least this Saturday. While the boys were gone she had spent most Saturday nights working, the tips were great, and well she had worked a lot while they were gone.

But they were back now and her habits were falling right back in line with theirs; including Saturday night laundry.

"Hello Sheldon," Penny stepped into the laundry room not surprised to see the tall frame carefully placing items into the washer.

"Hello Penny," her eyebrows raised his greeting while still formal and perfectly enunciated, was not as Sheldon-like as it normally was.

"What's wrong with you," the words left her mouth and she exhaled abruptly, Penny knew better than to ask that question, to him, and waited for the onslaught of words.

When none came Penny balanced her laundry basket against the washer with her hip and looked sideways at him. Sheldon was many things, but silent had never occurred to her. Before she could ask again, even though she really, really knew better, he closed the lid of the washer with more force than she anticipated jumping a foot in the air, "God Sheldon!"

Irritation overcame concern, but he was oblivious, per usual, and simply studied his hands, splayed as they were on the lid of the washer Penny couldn't help but appreciate how nice his fingers were.

"I lost a bet to Wolowitz," Penny frowned over his words; he was upset over a bet?

"I never gamble, or wager, it's foolish, and a rather selfish use of my thoughts. What with the calculating of the odds and percentages, it all takes time," Penny wasn't sure what he was talking about and was even less sure if he knew he was talking to her.

"But when I do bet," he looked her way, big blue eyes catching hers, and she was very certain that he knew she was there, "I never lose."

Sheldon was convincing, she nodded weakly, unable to speak or look away, she had never seen Sheldon so passionate about something before; or at least something she understood.

And boy did she get it, Penny hated losing. Anyone with a competitive streak as wide as hers and she supposed Sheldon would get it. The least she could was try. He had been the one to put it out there that she could just go back to being friends with Leonard.

Water began filling in her machine, Penny blinked, turning her attention back to her clothes. Some of Sheldon's techniques had taken root, after all it been two years, and her hands began automatically sorting and pre-folding the clothes going in.

"Losing sucks," she commented. And losing to Wolowitz made it exponentially worse, but she bit back that part.

"While I heartily agree," she smiled down at her red top who knew they would bond over competition, "I shouldn't have lost," he sounded absolutely destroyed, and so unlike Sheldon.

Penny blinked down at her favorite socks, the purple ones with grey polka dots, "I shouldn't have made that bet, it's so unlike me," he had read her mind so closely she almost laughed; which would have been very bad.

Sheldon sounded like Sheldon, but he wasn't acting like him, losing a bet could hardly be grounds for an identity crisis; at least not for people who weren't Sheldon. Penny frowned at a nasty stain on her work shirt; it was courtesy of a five year old with an attitude.

Back to the matter at hand, Sheldon didn't do impulsive and he really didn't do 'wrong' she would never admit that to him out loud but Sheldon was the smartest among them, even if Raj, despite his silence, was the most practical. Maybe it was out of character but he was still overreacting.

"Sheldon," what could she say?

He was waiting, she could feel his eyes on her, she in turn looked back over at his hands, still spread; for whatever reason Sheldon wanted to hear what she had to say.

Penny wasn't sure she was ready for that responsibility.

Still he waited, and she had been a cheerleader and if reassuring Sheldon that he was still Sheldon got that tone out of his voice, than she was all for it.

"You were really upset with the guys, and rightfully so," she closed the lid, she turned towards him, leaning a hip against the washer. She was surprised when he didn't step back considering how far into his personal space she had ended up.

"Maybe you're still mad them, maybe you're just trying to reassert yourself," all those afternoons of Oprah were paying off, Penny was on a roll.

Sheldon took his time in considering her words which surprised her; she could count on no hands how many times he had considered anything she said. His thoughts rolled around in that head of his like water coming to boil, she was fascinated.

"You just might be on to something Penny," he beamed at her. A genuine and rare Sheldon smile, Penny felt her smile radiate back.

"I was upset and the dynamics of the social group were severely upended," his eyes were shining as he began to launch into some incomprehensible version of what she had just stated.

Whatever, she watched as he got more animated, he talked with his hands when he really got going and he paced. Penny almost laughed as he narrowly averted tripping over his own laundry basket.

There was no telling if she was right, he had been upset, the guys had wrong; really, really wrong, to lie to him, but it could be something else.

Sheldon was so much different now than the person she had met two years ago, she wondered if he even knew how different. Out of them all he had made the most changed; except of course for her. There was no way she was the same person she had been the first afternoon of her move.

Funny, she was bonding with Sheldon on multiple levels and Penny was sure he had no idea.

"Thank you Penny," caught off guard, her mouth was hanging open in surprise when she met his eyes.

"I-uh," he sounded different again, and she was at a loss.

"I very much appreciate your taking the time to help sort things out," a sincere anything from Sheldon was note-worthy, but gratitude from Dr. Cooper, probably because he gave so little of it, was mind-boggling.

Penny had been in a daze after the Spock incident and she feared this would be as bad.

"You're welcome Sheldon," at least he hadn't hugged her.

With a smile Sheldon patted her arm, "I'm glad you're my friend Penny," jaw dropping Penny stared up at him.

With shock settling in she sputtered out a, "me too," and watched him walk out of the laundry room, completely oblivious to the Penny-sized mess he was leaving behind.

Penny hadn't needed a hug, his words were just as powerful, Sheldon Cooper had a way about him that could get a rise out of her and she couldn't ignore it anymore.

Collapsing against the washer she pressed the heels of her palms into her cheeks and willed her mind to stop going into crazy, dangerous places.

"Stupid bet," she blamed Howard, "stupid Wolowitz."

Sheldon was maybe growing a clue and she was maybe growing up and now they were officially friends.

In a daze, Penny headed back up to her apartment. Through the door she could hear Sheldon berating someone and she smiled; than frowned.

He better not lose any more bets this week.