A/N: I never wrote for this fandom and pairing before, but I love both. Here's hoping I have done them justice! Please read and review, and please be kind to the new girl to writing for this particular fandom/pairing, after all, it is nearly Christmas ;-)
Disclaimer: All recognisable characters belong to Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady, CBS, and other important people that aren't me!
The Christmas Miracle Hypothesis
It was a little earlier in the morning than Penny would usually be up, but since it was Christmas Day, she had made an exception. Sure, she didn't have family here to spend the day with, but she had friends enough and gifts to enjoy that she had mostly bought for herself. Ah well, at least she knew she was guaranteed to like them that way.
All too soon a familiar triple knock was heard on the door, followed by her name in a voice she couldn't fail to recognise. With a smile on her lips that she couldn't help, Penny stood behind the door, waiting for the next two sets of tapping and her name before she opened the door. She had to cut the guy a break, it was Christmas after all!
"Morning, Sheldon" she smiled brightly, the bell on her Santa hat jingling as she moved, "Merry Christmas"
Though she had not exactly expected a similarly normal greeting back, she hadn't quite realised how much of a tirade those two words might start until he hit her with it.
"At the risk of causing offence to any persons of other denominations that might overhear, I shall respond with greetings of the season and move swiftly on" said Sheldon succinctly, making Penny at least grateful he hadn't decided to pick on her hat or sparkly Christmas wreath earrings at all, "I brought you your gift..." he said then, looking as if he was going to give the impeccably wrapped little box to her but pulling back at the last just when it was within her reach, "however, I should make certain that you fully understand a few key points before I hand it over"
"Of course" she said more to herself than to him, "there had to be a catch" she smiled through it all as she leant on the doorjamb waiting for what was set to be a long rambling list of conditions.
"Number one" Sheldon began, "this gift is from myself alone and was bought without consultation or I should say interference from Leonard" he said firmly, "therefore neither praise nor blame shall be apportioned to him upon your given reaction to the gift"
Penny took a moment to translate that into normal human speech in her own head then nodded accordingly.
"Okay" she accept point one, allowing Sheldon to continue.
"Number two, this gift was not bought with a view to matching the value of that which you have doubtless purchased for myself for this Christmas, but to make up for the severe lack of equality between those we acquired for each other last year" he explained, speaking of course of the mismatch in value between the gift baskets he had purchased for Penny and the napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy that she had obtained for him.
He really didn't get that the money or value wasn't half so important as the thought put into the gift, which was so sad to Penny.
"Sheldon" she sighed, "you don't have to..." she began to explain but he wouldn't hear it, not while he was in full flow!
"Number three!" he said loud enough to drown her out and ultimately stop speaking altogether so that he might continue, "I have, as I believe to be the custom for more expensive items, retained the receipt of purchase for this gift" he said, motioning with the box in his hands, "so that, in the event that you should find the item not to your taste, you are able to exchange it at the relevant store" he completed with some sort of attempt at a half smile that almost looked genuine.
Penny stood staring a moment, before she realised number four didn't seem to be coming any time soon.
"Are we done now?" she checked, just to be sure, since the gift still remained in Sheldon's hands and had not yet entered her own.
"Yes" he nodded once, holding out the box to Penny at last, "For you" he told her, as she gratefully received her gift with a genuine smile.
"Thank you" she told him, as she pulled at the pretty ribbon that fell away to the floor and prised the lid of the sparkly little gift box to reveal another box inside.
Penny felt a little strange when she realised that the second box look decidedly as if it ought to contain jewellery. Guys didn't usually buy girls jewellery unless they were dating or married or something. It wasn't something friends did, unless it was maybe a charm bracelet or a friendship bracelet. Maybe she was reading too much into this and what was in the box wouldn't be jewellery at all. It could all just be a joke on Sheldon's part, another reason for a 'Bazinga' moment. All this ran through Penny's head as she opened up the large jewellery box and her eyes landed on the most beautiful bracelet.
A gasp escaped her lips as she realised how exquisitely made it was. Clearly no expense had been spared on Sheldon's part, as the clasp appeared to be real gold, and each of the twelve glass beads strung on the cord was different in colour and style. Looking closely she realised that each of the beads had a symbol etched into it somehow, one for every sign of the zodiac.
Her mind raced back to the first day they met, when she had told the guys she was a Sagittarius and Sheldon had expressed his distaste of the whole astrology thing, making her feel dumb. Now it seemed he was willing to put aside his prejudice, in order to buy her a truly special gift.
"Wow, Sheldon" she said eventually, just as soon as she could form words, "This is... Wow" she glanced from the bracelet to him and back, feeling the strange sensation of tears filling her eyes.
"Despite your decidedly unintelligent response, I am surmising that you are pleased" he said, as straight and flat as ever he said anything, apparently unmoved by the occasion or the fact Penny was becoming so emotional herself.
"Pleased?" she gurgled out a strange and incredulous laugh, "I'm speechless, I'm... overwhelmed" she fought for words enough to say, "This is the most beautiful gift anybody ever gave me" she told him, clasping the bracelet tight in her hand, "It must have cost a fortune" she said, looking up at Sheldon then, and wondering why he would have done this for her.
"Not exactly what one might term a fortune" he said with due consideration given to her estimate, "A larger amount of money perhaps than most would spend on a Christmas gift for a neighbour" he agreed, "but given your movement into my closer circle of friends and your generous gift to me last year, it seemed appropriate" he rattled on as he was wont to do, but Penny really wasn't listening anymore, "In any case I..." he got no further with what he meant to say as his lips were suddenly prevented from moving.
Penny had no other way to express her joy and gratitude combined. The words weren't coming, but the tears were, and all she could think to do was just reach out and kiss the guy who had bought her this wonderful, expensive, and thoughtful gift. It really hadn't crossed her mind that this was Sheldon and therefore weird. The bigger shock for Penny was when her brain caught up with her lips and she realised that not only was she now kissing Sheldon Cooper square on the lips, but that he wasn't pushing her away or freaking out. He wasn't exactly kissing back either, though the thought swiftly occurred to Penny that was most likely because he had no idea how.
The moment was over almost as quickly as it had begun, and yet Penny did not immediately move, finding that shock had stuck her to the spot, and that, strangely, at some point Sheldon's arms had ended up around her, his hands clasped together behind her back.
She swallowed hard, catching her breath and just thinking she really ought to say something or at least make eye contact, when suddenly she felt his arms slide away.
"Merry Christmas, Penny" he said softly, and though she meant to reply, it never happened.
A frown crossed Penny's face as she watched him practically run away. If she didn't know any better she'd say Sheldon really liked her, but that was impossible. Even his being so nice as to buy her a thoughtful gift and so sane as to not push her down the stairs for kissing him was almost beyond belief. That Sheldon might like her, in the way men usually liked women, it seemed the most unlikely thing in the world, and yet it was happening, she had the evidence here in her hands and tingling on her lips still.
"Like a Christmas Miracle" she said to herself, staring down at the bracelet with tears still in her eyes that she didn't completely understand, "Merry Christmas, Sheldon" she said to the closed door across the hall, before slipping back inside her own apartment.
A/N2: This is one of four Christmas fics I have posted in the last week or so - check out my Profile Page for more info! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Seasons Greetings to you, as is befitting :-)