Disclaimer: Sadly, all recognizable characters belong to someone else. I own nothing.
Spoilers: Through Season 2
As the female grad student finished offering to bring Sheldon's dinner, Leonard heaved a sigh. How it was possible that someone with an IQ of 187 and an eidetic memory could keep making the same mistake over and over? It seemed like every semester a new one went all fan-girl over Sheldon. They would bring him meals, pander to his already large ego, and basically carry out his every whim. And he never asked for anything sexual. This Leonard was sure of.
Leonard couldn't decide which part made him crazier. The fact that there was always another grad student; or that Sheldon didn't make the most of it. If any of the other guys had a pretty grad student throwing herself at them, they'd would, in the vernacular, "so tap that." But not Sheldon. Not only did he not realize the possibility, but Leonard was sure he wouldn't "tap that" even if he did realize it.
Leonard's inner voice grew whiny. Why couldn't he have a pretty grad student? He was smart. He would appreciate her. He decided that since Lola (yes her name was Lola, for heaven's sake) was bringing Sheldon dinner, that he'd have dinner out. At a non-Sheldon approved restaurant. He'd ask Raj and Howard, but based on their expressions, they were thinking along the same lines that Leonard had been.
Leonard was walking down the steps as Penny was coming home from work. Things were pretty much back to the way they were before the two of them had dated. They were friends, and even Leonard had to admit they got along better as friends than they had as lovers. Even though he missed her. But, if he were honest, he missed the sex more than anything, except introducing her as his girlfriend. That had been great, too.
"Hi, Penny." He greeted her.
"Hey, Leonard. Going out?"
"Yeah, Sheldon's got a new grad student."
A weird expression crossed her face. "Really? Another one? Doesn't he learn?"
"Apparently not." Leonard laughed.
"Maybe you should write him an equation so he'll understand what's really going on." She suggested with a laugh.
"I'll get right on that." He sighed. "I don't even understand how he attracts them."
"Aw, sweetie, jealous?"
"Maybe a little." He whined.
"Well, enjoy your dinner." She patted him the shoulder as she moved past him.
"Thanks." His eyes followed her until she rounded the corner out of his sight. He sighed and continued down the stairs.
As Penny let herself into her apartment she reflected on Leonard's words. He may not understand how Sheldon attracted them, but Penny did. When she'd first met the guys the day she'd moved in, she'd thought Sheldon was attractive. Poorly dressed, but attractive. He was tall, nice looking, with big blue eyes, and had an endearing innocence about him. Not to mention those large elegant hands of his. She couldn't help but wonder what those hands might be capable of, especially coupled with that laser-like focus that Sheldon was so good at. But it became quickly obvious that Sheldon had zero interest in such things. So Penny didn't dwell on it.
She stripped off her uniform and slipped into something more comfortable. Just as she sat down to watch TV she heard Sheldon's voice; high pitched and pure east Texas. "Penny! Help me. Penny!"
She was up and moving to the bowl were she kept their spare key and bolting out the door before she even made a conscious decision to go. She unlocked the door, and stopped in shock. On the couch was Sheldon struggling ineffectually with a woman. The woman seemed to be trying to crawl inside Sheldon's skin, and tear his clothes off at the same time.
Penny hesitated for only a few seconds, before striding to the couch and grabbing a handful of mousy brown hair. She used her grip to pull the woman off of Sheldon and towards the door. "No means no," Penny said loudly, mostly to cover the shrieking that the woman was doing. Penny threw her out the door, slammed it shut, and threw the lock, all in practically one motion.
Penny turned back to Sheldon. "You okay, Sweetie?" She asked gently as she crossed back to him. He was sitting up and trying to straighten up his person.
He looked up at her, his woeful expression tearing at her heartstrings. "I don't understand. She was bringing dinner. She…Penny, she tried to…." He broke off.
"I know, Honey. Are you okay?" She asked again.
"I think so. That was horrible, Penny. Just horrible."
"Well, yeah, it looked pretty unpleasant but, you understand that it's not supposed to be like that, don't you?"
"No. It isn't? Well, good. Because that…that was…." He shuddered. "That was even worse than Leonard's mother." Another shudder.
"Aw, I'd forgotten that. Poor Sheldon." Her expression was sad. "You're just too cute for your own good."
His head snapped up. "Are you implying that this is somehow my fault?" He demanded, his voice going high and twangy at the end.
"No, no, no, not your fault. I know that you didn't do anything to make her think that you wanted her to kiss you."
"No," he said, imbuing the word with a great deal of feeling.
He cocked his head to the side. "You think I'm 'cute'?" He did the air quotes.
She could feel heat rising in her cheeks. She hesitated, and then answered. "Yeah, you are. You're attractive." There, she said it. It was out there.
"Oh. Thank you?" He seemed unsure.
"You're welcome sweetie."
"Does that mean that you believe that the grad students that offer me meals and assistance every semester are attracted to my person, rather than my intellect?"
Penny felt that she was on dangerous ground. "For the grad students, I'm sure it's your brains, first and that fact that you're attractive is a bonus."
He seemed relieved. "But, for you, that's not…."
She cut him. "Sheldon, I know that you're a beautiful-mind super-genius, and appreciate the whole package."
"Good." He still seemed confused, but she was too, so she decided to gloss right on over it.
"You really need to be more careful of who you let come here, Sheldon."
He was still staring at her as if she were some complicated equation. He blinked and answered, "yes, it seems that I must be more stringent as to who has access to my domicile."
"That's what I said." She frowned. "I think."
He smiled sweetly at her. "It was." He cleared his throat. "Thank you for helping me."
"That's what friends do, Sheldon. You would do the same for me. You did, actually, you came running when I fell and was calling." She smiled, remembering. He come to her aid like a knight in shining armor, helped her, driven her to the ER (scared to bits to drive, but he'd done it), brought her back home, sang "Soft Kitty" with her, and stayed to make sure that she was okay. She didn't have any other friends that would have done that for her.
Sheldon felt the heat rise in his cheeks, as he remembered the feel of her breast in his hand. And he'd peeked at her whilst she was dressing. "Yes, I did."
"Sheldon, the next time a grad student offers to bring you food, you tell her thank you but that you need to check with Penny, okay?"
"My money is on Vampira blabbing tomorrow that you guys were interrupted. If you mention me, it may make the grad students who want a little , um, extra from you hesitate."
"Oh." He considered the matter for a moment. "Do you suggest I deceive the potential grad student?" At Penny's blank look. "Do you want me to lie and tell her that you are my girlfriend?"
"I am a girl and your friend, so it's not a real lie. So you should be able to pull it off. So, yeah, it couldn't hurt." Her eyes lit with glee. "Hey, do you want me to stop by and sort of stake my 'claim'?"
Sheldon looked nervous. "In what manner would this metaphoric branding take place?"
"No branding, Honey. You could just show me around, and I'll eat lunch with you guys. That's all."
Sheldon considered it. "That sounds acceptable. And if, in the future only truly dedicated grad students offer assistance as a result, it will be a morning well wasted."
"Gee, Sheldon, you sure know how to make a girl feel loved. Maybe I'll find a new boyfriend."
His expression was startled. "Excuse…?" His expression cleared. "Oh." He sighed. "I apologize, it was not my intention to imply that the time would be wasted. It is an investment. And I appreciate your assistance in this."
"Aw, that's was nice." She grinned at him. "Okay, maybe I won't break up with you just yet." Her green eyes twinkled merrily at him. He couldn't help the tiny smile that quirked his lips.
"Thank you. I will endeavor to be worthy of your willingness to give me a 'second chance', as the saying goes." He teased back.
She grinned happily at him. It was always fun to bait Sheldon, but it was even more fun when the two of teamed up. It was one of the reasons that she enjoyed being his Halo partner so much more than anyone else's. That and he respected what she was capable of. The others tended to under-utilize her.
They arranged a time to meet in his office, and Penny returned to her own apartment.