Title: The Amazonian Queen Conundrum - Part 1/?
Summary: After the New Year's Eve party at Stuart's comic book store, Sheldon realized that he kind of had some apologizing to do to Penny. At 2:30am.
Rating: PG
Spoilers: If you've watched all the episodes from Season 1 till now, you're fine.
Pairing: Sheldon/Penny
Author's Note: It's a slow start...if I continue writing this, it should get a little less angsty and wordy...

Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Chuck Lorre and CBS. I make no profit from this work of fanfiction.

The Amazonian Queen Conundrum - Part 1/?

Sheldon had a sneaking suspicion that maybe, just maybe, Penny was angry with him.

The empirical evidence pointed to the opposite – all night, she had not yelled at him, she had not started weeping, and she certainly hadn't tried to punch him in the throat, all acts of which he had provoked before in the past (at least by way of threats). According to his eidetic memory, Penny had not said one unpleasant word to him all night long.

Something seemed different, and it had started not long after he had trekked over to Apartment 4B in his attempt to draw her to Stuart's New Year's Eve party. He hadn't noticed it at first…not until they had reached home and she had wished him a brief "Happy New Year" before disappearing into her apartment. A despondent Zack was left staring at her closed door.

"What's her problem?" The man dressed as Superman had asked. Leonard had already retreated into the apartment by that point, seemingly unwilling to make small talk with the slightly neanderthalic creature in their hallway.

Sheldon heard, but did not quite listen to the largely one-sided dialogue that was taking place. The other proverbial shoe had dropped at the same time that 4B's door was shut and it landed with a crash in his mind: all night, Penny had said only three perfunctory words to him – "Happy New Year". Studiously, he recalled, she had avoided his company the whole time they had been out, refusing to even look in his direction.

"Dude you ok?" Zack asked, breaking his reverie, waving a hand before his eyes in the asinine fashion he seemed to favour.

"Yes." Sheldon said, blinking. He considered momentarily, offering a consolatory "Bitches be crazy" comment, but thought better of it. The apartment doors were not as thick and soundproof as he'd prefer. Instead, he smiled faintly, as best as he could, and said, "Good night, and as most people would say, Happy New Year, although frankly, I have always found the expression redundant. What's so 'Happy' about a new year? It is simply a progression of time from one stage in the calendar to the next, no different from how days transition one to another in the middle of say, the month of May."

Zack blinked owlishly. Sheldon almost started mentally berating himself for attempting intelligent conversation with such a creature, when the taller man said,

"It's 'Happy' because it feels like a fresh start. Some people really need that ya know? To feel like they can begin a new stage in their lives, leaving all their mistakes from the past behind…" Zack shrugged. "Also a lot of people are really wasted at New Years Eve Parties – so there's your 'happy'. Anyway, it was a lot of fun tonight. Maybe we'll hang out again later?"

Without waiting for an answer, as if he was confident that the answer would always be 'yes', Zack turned away, disappearing down the stairs and leaving Sheldon standing alone outside his door.

It was two hours past midnight and he was staring at his ceiling, wondering why Penny's questionable ire towards him was keeping him from his REM sleep cycle. It was irritating, and it worried him, this unexpected onset of neurosis. Perhaps living with Leonard for such a long time was beginning to result in some form of personality transference, a thought which was not by any means, welcome to Sheldon.

The cell phone beside him began to buzz. Sighing, the physicist sat up and stared at his caller ID, which read "Mom".

"Is everything alright?" Sheldon asked without preamble, the glass surface of his iPhone cold against his face. Logically, if a call came in at such an ungodly hour, it was probably because something terrible had occurred.

"Everythin's fine sugar. I just arrived home from the Watchnight service at Church. Did you go to the service in your neighbourhood church?" Mary Cooper asked. She sounded tired.

"Of course not Mother." Sheldon answered matter-of-factly, pushing back the relief that flooded his bloodstream.

"Of course. Don't know what I was thinkin'," she said after a quick sigh. "I just called to see how you were doin'. I miss you somethin' awful sometimes you know? You're so far away and I hardly see you anymore. Seems crazy sometimes, how you had been my little boy, always underfoot in some way with your Death Rays and Laser Guns and whatnot…and now you're all the way on the other side of the country."

Sheldon sighed. He had dealt with his mother's maudlin moods before.

"I miss you too Mom. I promise I will visit soon." He said.

"How are your little friends doing? Leonard and the boys, and that nice young lady…Penny was it?" Mary asked.

"Everyone's fine, though…" Sheldon trailed off, instantly regretting letting the last word slip out. There was a short silence.

"Though…" Mary prompted.

There was no point keeping anything from his mother. So he told her.

"So let me understand this – you told your friend, your woman friend, that she was fat?" Mary asked, sounding for all the world like she was choking in horror, in the face of the monster she had somehow raised.

"I told her it was nothing to be worried about if she thought she looked fat – Amazon women were necessarily more muscular than the average woman." Sheldon clarified. "I don't think Penny's fat at all. In fact, I applaud her ability to stay confident with her healthy body shape and size, rather than cave in to society's current trends where half starved, skeletal bodies are considered to be the epitome of beauty."

"Shelly…honey." His mother sounded positively exhausted now. "You cannot in any circumstance tell a woman she's fat. She could look like a city bus and you should never ever, under any circumstances, point it out to her."

"But I didn't." Sheldon protested.

"You implied it." His mother snapped. "Now first thing tomorrow, I want you to march over there and apologize to her."

"But…" he tried again.

"No buts Sheldon."

He sulked in the darkness, realizing he had already lost the battle.

But he was Sheldon Cooper. Once a notion took root in his genius mind, to forcibly make him remain on the course of waiting twelve hours before taking action was not a feat he could have comfortably achieved in any universe.

2:30am found him standing outside Penny's door in his plaid robe and slip-on shoes, speaking her name in a soft plea at the end of each tri-knock cycle. To his surprise, she answered almost immediately, and it became clear that like him, she seemed to be suffering from some form of insomnia.

While Penny was no longer wearing her brunette wig, or the short Wonder Woman cape that had been included in the costume package, she was still attired as the super-heroine. Cheap red and gold fabric clung to her body, while bright blue shorts rode high on her thighs. Her golden hair hung loose behind her, soft curls framing her features as she stared at him enquiringly. Staring at her clavicle, Sheldon suddenly remembered how her naked skin had felt in his hands once upon a time, one night when he had played the hero to her damsel-in-distress.

He swallowed uncomfortably, wondering if the late hour was destroying his train of thought.

"Penny, I have come over to apologize." He blurted out.

"For?" Penny questioned, crossing her arms and tipping her head back, staring him down much like an Amazonian Queen. She looked magnificent even in the flimsy get-up, despite her short stature.

"For inferring that you might be larger than the average woman." Sheldon continued hurriedly. "When we spoke earlier, I was merely trying to let you know that even if you considered yourself unattractive in the Wonder Woman costume, you couldn't have been further from the truth."

Penny weighed his words.

"So you're saying that instead of thinking I look fat in this stupid corset, you thought…I looked good?" she asked.

"Yes. I suppose that's what I was trying to say." Sheldon nodded, hands clasped behind his back as he looked at his feet. "It bothered me that you might be angry at me."

"Bothered you enough to be awake way past your bedtime, and enough to send you over here at 2:30 in the morning?" Penny sighed, uncrossing her arms and leaning against her doorframe.

"Leonard explained to me during the debacle with Howard and the FBI agent, that such an episode of insomnia could be attributed to guilt." He explained. "Or at least, he explained it to me in my dream. So I suppose I didn't actually lose much sleep over that incident."

Unexpectedly, Penny giggled slightly. Backing away from the door, she said, "Come in. I'll make you some herbal tea."

Surprising himself, Sheldon followed close behind, closing her front door as he stepped across the threshold.

When Amy Farrah Fowler had first explained her sexual attraction to Zack, Sheldon had shocked himself by not reacting in disgust at her general craving for intercourse, the way he usually did when his friends bemoaned their inability to achieve coitus with the opposite sex.

At least, not complete and utter disgust. There was a small stab of disappointment – he had honestly imagined that he had finally found someone who could relate to his thus far, lack of desire for sexual contact with anyone. Including Amy. Especially Amy: to add sex to the equation of their relationship would sully the very nature of their platonic partnership.

And yet, to hear someone so similar to himself in terms of characteristics and preferences expressing carnal desire in such a natural fashion, completely devoid of shame or revulsion…

Sheldon couldn't help but wonder exactly if perhaps he'd been wrong about the whole matter. Admittedly, when Amy Farrah Fowler had reached out to hold his hand that one time, he had almost considered for a split second, leaning over and pressing his lips against hers. She must have come to the same conclusion as he did at the exact same time, that such an act was absolutely impossible. Right at the moment he banished the idea of kissing her, she had slid her small palm out of his. They had walked on, friendship unaffected by her small experiment into the unknown.

The idea that desire was not perhaps the most unnatural and unwanted thing in the world had disappeared to the back of his thoughts since, although it had certainly not disappeared.

All considerations he had given to the concept of desire eagerly rushed to the forefront of his mind as Sheldon watched Penny reach up on tiptoes, stretching her arms to grasp at the mugs in her kitchen cabinet. Her body appeared lithe and slender in that position; it was as if all moisture in his mouth had disappeared. Simply watching the bobbing action of her hair almost mesmerized him. For reasons unknown, he suddenly felt a powerful urge to sweep the blonde strands off her bare shoulders - an alien urge to arose in him, to trace and map the shape of her shoulder blades under the tips of his fingers.

As she settled herself in the high barstool beside his, he almost had to shake himself out of the strange and unfamiliar mood he was sinking into.

Perhaps he was falling ill.

"Is your insomnia in any way related to the fact that you're still dressed as Wonder Woman?" he asked after taking a comforting sip of the herbal tea she had set before him, silently reminding himself to take his temperature the moment he got home.

"I don't know. I thought about changing my clothes." Penny sighed. "But I thought it was nice to be a woman in control of her life for a few more hours. I bet Wonder Woman never had to wait a single table in her life while waiting for a casting director, any casting director, to give her a chance at a speaking role. I bet she never got groped on the job either, and then smile at the bastard because she needed the crappy tip anyways."

"Probably not."

"Right." She laughed mirthlessly. "That's what I thought."

"Does your mood tonight have everything to do with the indefinite stall in your acting career, or does it also have something to do with feelings you might still possess for Leonard?" Sheldon asked, wondering what he wanted the answer to be…wondering why he would even care enough to ask, when it came down to it. "I thought I sensed a strange chemistry happening between yourself and him tonight as we left for the party but I suppose I could be wrong. Though that's unlikely."

"I…" Penny sighed yet again, and it occurred to Sheldon that he hated hearing that despondent sigh. It didn't suit her. "It was New Year's Eve. I get that way around this time of year. Like I'm re-thinking all my decisions in my life…how my life could have been different if I did something in some other way…"

"Perhaps you only do it to help you think of ways to move forward." Sheldon suggested.

"By living in the past?" she scrunched her nose at him.

"We don't know what the future holds." He said. "All we have to go with is what we already know. There is no point dwelling in the past, but it certainly makes sense to learn from it."

Her smile was slow and warm, like a perfect summers' day. He was close enough to see the first sign of lines around her mouth and her eyes. Laugh lines.

"Sheldon, you're just so full of surprises."

"Thank you?" he phrased it as a question.

It seemed to happen in slow motion – he could see that she was beginning to leaning over, with the intent of kissing his cheek. Reflexively, he reached up to grasp at her arms, intent on preventing any skin-on-skin contact, but he was always going to be too late. She had already found her target and could barely repress her laughter at the fact that she had triumphantly dodged his precautionary move.

Normally, he would have been annoyed, reaching for the nearest antiseptic swab, all the while bitterly complaining about the transfer of bacteria in human secretions.

Instead, he paused, feeling her warm breathe against his cheek, feeling the lingering sensation where her lips had touched him. It wasn't unpleasant.

Sheldon didn't seem to notice that he had not removed his hold of her arms…but Penny did. Her laughter died away as she moved backwards slightly, her green eyes meeting his.

Quite uncomprehendingly, he inched his face forwards slowly, and she followed suit as if she were caught in the same thrall as he was. It was only when they finally connected, when she her hands found their way to his face, cupping his cheeks as she kissed him, that it struck him…

No, this really wasn't as unpleasant as he imagined it would be. And it couldn't be more different from touching Amy Farrah Fowler, a comparison he was suddenly keen to explore further.

Experimentally, his arms wrapped cautiously around her torso. With equal care, Penny slid off her own chair, moving closer into his embrace.

When she deepened the kiss, Sheldon lost all form of brain function altogether.

"So." Sheldon began, staring at her ceiling, wondering if his heart would ever stop pounding. Not that he cared – he was feeling more content than he ever had before in his life.

"So." Penny murmured sleepily beside him, looking a little bothered by some unnamed concern as yet.

"That was…unexpected." He continued. She peered at him, looking a little offended, so he amended quickly, "In a very positive way. I hadn't expected coitus to be so…"

"Awesome?" she asked.

"Was it good for you?" Sheldon asked, not realizing he was echoing generations of males before him.

"It was good, considering it was your first time…" Penny said. "It was your first time right?"

"If you're asking whether I've ever had a sexual encounter before this one, then the answer is no." he burrowed his face into her shoulder, breathing in the sweet musk of her body. He was brand new to the whole experience of initiating human contact, and yet he found himself comfortably sliding into that role.

The traces of perspiration lingering on her skin – he had caused that. Sheldon wondered at the strange stab of pride he felt as he luxuriated in that knowledge. Possibly, it was an evolutionary reaction in males, this sense of pride in crude sexual prowess.

There was a war of emotions on Penny's face which Sheldon missed. When he looked up, she still seemed vaguely perturbed, but she said, "You can sleep over if you want."

"We should do it again." Sheldon suggested, drifting off into blessed sleep. "Once we get some of our energy back."

"We should?" Penny sounded nervous, but he was already gone.

Before the sun rose, Sheldon stirred. He then proceeded to wake Penny up in the pleasantest method possible.

That was when Penny figured out how much she appreciated the fact that he was a fast learner and a perfectionist.