Sheldon and the others had been on eggshells with Penny for the past two days, ever since the project, and Penny wasn't sure why. She came into the building with the Thursday night Chinese food, and smiled wide. "Hi, boys." she said, sitting everything down. "I've got everything here..."
"Yeah, that's... that's nice..." Howard said vaguely.
"All right, that's it!" Penny burst out. "Why are you guys acting like this? What is the problem?"
"Nothing, it's nothing..." Leonard lied. "Really..."
"Okay..." Penny said, taking a stab in the dark, "how did the project go? You never did tell me..."
"There was a computer glitch and the tape got erased somehow. We don't have proof of our data." Raj said, looking at Sheldon significantly, and putting down his beer.
"Ohhh..." Penny said softly, frowning when she saw Sheldon look at his shoes. "That's why you're so upset... the project went wonky." she whispered gently, and placed a hand on his shoulder blades.
Only Penny did not notice that Sheldon did not flinch, and she began rubbing gentle circles on his upper back. "Hey... I got something that'll make you all feel better..." she cajoled.
Sheldon looked up at her with wide eyes. "What?"
Penny grinned and pulled five tickets out of her pocket, handing them to Sheldon. "Look!" she said proudly. "I won them on the radio!"
Sheldon gasped. "These... these are tickets to a Star Wars Convention!"
The others gathered around Sheldon, looking at the tickets as if they were the Golden Tickets from Willy Wonka or something.
"Yup, and it actually sounds pretty cool; everybody wears costumes..." she sing-songed. "And, best of all, you know that weird Alien Bar in the first one?"
"Technically, Penny, that was Episode Four." Sheldon corrected. "And, it was a Cantina."
"Right, right, whatever; but, they have the set there in the middle of the place, and free Kareoke! And, Raj... they'll be serving drinks at the bar; you can talk to the girls." Penny grinned, and Raj grinned back.
"Really? That's... that sounds awesome..." he admitted. "And, I must admit; I am damn good at Kareoke. Or, at least the one on the X-Box." he finished softly.
"Well, I'm sure you've already got costumes that'll work, I have to get one..."
"You're really... I thought you weren't into this kinda stuff..." Leonard said, eying her.
Penny shrugged. "The Kareoke sounded fun, okay? Besides, it's not often that I know the answer to a radio trivia question that doesn't have something to do with Scooby Doo." she joked, laughing.
Everyone else laughed a bit uncomfortably- all but Sheldon, who was looking at her in a soft way Leonard had never seen before...
By the time Saturday rolled around, they were in the convention in their costumes, and Penny said she would meet them there. Howard was dressed as Luke Skywalker, Sheldon as Obi Wan Kenobi, and both Raj and Leonard were dressed as Han Solo.
"Dude!" Raj complained. "We look all twinsy... they're going to laugh at us!"
"Pfft; it's a Star Wars convention, Raj! There's like a zillion Han Solos!" Leonard protested.
"Well, yes, but we came in together." Raj explained. "It's gay."
"Technically, wouldn't it be considered more 'gay', if Leonard had dressed as Leia to your Han?" Sheldon asked, a little smile playing around his lips, and then laughed his little wheezy laugh. "Ahh... bazinga!"
Leonard rolled his eyes, but then they nearly bulged out of his head as Penny walked in, wearing the Slave Leia outfit. They were in dead boggled silence, even Sheldon.
"I hope my costume's okay." Penny said coyly, trying to catch Sheldon's eye. "I asked Stewart what I should wear, and this is what he brought me. I don't know a lot about Star Wars." she shrugged. "Except that Leia wore her hair in these buns."
"It's fine, Penny; though, you will have the unique distinction of wearing your hair as Leia wore it in her modest and decent costume, instead of how she wore it in that outfit." Sheldon said a bit crisply. "She wore one long braid down her back in this one. I am going to procure a beverage; perhaps a diet Dr. Pepper." he muttered, walking off.
Penny bit her lip, looking a bit crestfallen.
"You're fine, Penny... no one's looking at the hair." Leonard said gently.
"He thinks I look skanky." she said softly. "I'm just gonna..."
"No, no... please don't go!" Howard said a bit desperately.
Raj took a sip of a strangely bright blue drink, and tilted his head at her. "You look hot." he blurted. "Every dude who ever watched original Star Wars? Totally his fantasy."
Howard and Leonard nodded.
"But, honestly... Sheldon's not like most guys." Raj continued.
"What? Sheldon? Why would I care what Sheldon thinks?" Penny tried to play off- badly.
"It's okay, we know." Leonard said gently. "And... I've come to terms with it."
Suddenly, Penny was angry. "You've 'come to terms' with it? You're giving me permission, Leonard, to feel something that I have no idea why I'm feeling, or have any control over? Is that it, Leonard?"
"I... yes?" Leonard murmured faintly, backing up a bit.
Penny grit her teeth, starting to turn away, but Leonard grabbed her wrist. "Listen, Penny... we didn't work out, but, you're still my friend, and so is Sheldon... and I think you're... weirdly good for each-other. You just can't expect to appeal to his Tarzan side when he doesn't really have one."
"Oh, my... that is what I was doing, isn't it?" she whispered, embarrassed, dropping her face into her hands.
"I think I could go for a Dr. Pepper myself, as long as it's got a shot of Crown in it." Penny said, walking towards the bar.
Penny sat down next to Sheldon, when the bartender's back was turned to them.
"I feel stupid in this outfit... and cold." She said softly to him.
"I could warm you up, Sugar." the bartender said, turning around.
Penny jumped up, screaming like it was a horror movie, because she wasn't expecting the creepy mask.
Suddenly she felt a pair of surprisingly strong, but thin and warm hands on her arms.
"Penny... it's all right... it's a Greedo Mask. The misinformed Bartender was trying to be funny." Sheldon said, glaring at the man.
"Misinformed?" The bartender growled from beneath the mask.
"Well, for one thing, Greedo did not tend bar; he was a bounty hunter who merely walked into the Cantina." Sheldon said in his "teaching" tone. "For another, offering to 'warm a strange woman up' and referring to her with a term of familiar endearment when she has not only never met you, but you frighten her with an ill-thought-out mask, is completely inappropriate." Sheldon said, annoyed.
"Look, geek-" the bartender started, but Penny took two steps forward.
"Hey! He's not- okay, maybe a little, but you do not get to call him that! You don't even know him, or me, and you make snap judgments that I'm slutty and he's... you just don't know him at all! He's not! At first he might come off as a know-it-all and really, really reserved, but there's this side of him that not many people- even some of his friends- get to see. That he's more than just wicked smart; he can be sweet... and funny... And really adorably cute..."
Sheldon looked at Penny in absolute shock, not even noticing his friends were there. The bartender took his mask off.
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry for calling him a geek, whatever."
"No, no whatever." Sheldon said hotly. "You will apologize for inferring that Penny was easy."
"Dude... look at her."
Sheldon did, and then glared at the bartender. "She isn't wearing this outfit for you." he said hotly. "And, anyway, just because her number might be higher than some, it's not that high-"
"Sheldon! My number is not as high as you think!"
"Don't be silly, dear, my math is never wrong." Sheldon said matter-of-factly, and then turned back to the bartender. "Apologize to my friend. Because, first and foremost, she is a lady. And, a classier one you're not likely to meet. Not to mention, just because she is beyond beautiful does not mean you can treat her as some sort of object on an auction block. I demand an apology to her. Now."
"Fine... I'm really, really sorry. You're right, I don't know you. Didn't realize you were with your guy." he said, and walked away.
"But, I'm not- ooof!" Sheldon gasped when she threw her arms around his neck.
"Thank you." she whispered, sliding her arms down.
Sheldon nodded to her. "Well... are you still cold?"
Penny nodded, making the "a little" motion with her fingers. Sheldon tilted his head at her. "A little my Aunt Fanny." he muttered. "You're covered in gooseflesh. Come on." he said, taking off his hooded Jedi robe and putting it on her. "This will keep you warm."
And, Penny smiled at him, a dazzling smile.
"Would... you like to go get something signed? I have a tote bag of things, and Harrison Ford is over there."
"Oooh, Indiana Jones!" Penny said excitedly, walking off with Sheldon.
"No, no..." Raj, Leonard and Howard heard him saying, his voice fading a bit as they walked further away. "Han Solo..."
And, the one thing that their three friends noticed, as they walked away, was the hand on the small of Penny's back...