Disclaimer: Yes, they all belong to me and that's why Penny and Sheldon are together on the show. Seriously…. You're not buying it are you? Oh well, you're right; none of them belong to me, not the characters mentioned, the actors who portray them (although I'll take Jim Parsons any time) or the shows/movies. Any resemblance to any other work of fiction (or real life) is purely coincidental.
The Superior Colliculus Engagement
Penny was lounging on her small sofa on a quiet Saturday when she heard the distinctive triple knock of her neighbor and friend (although sometimes it was hard to remember why), Sheldon Cooper.
Knowing that there was no point in opening the door before he finished his ritual knock, she took her time standing up and crossing to the door. Whimsically she asked, "Who is it?"
"Sheldon. Sheldon Cooper," he answered seriously.
Penny couldn't keep the grin off of her face as she opened the door, muttering "Whackadoodle," under her breath.
"Penny," he greeted her.
"Sheldon," she returned patiently.
He started at her wide-eyed for a long moment. Finally, he blurted, "I'm stuck. I need to engage the superior colliculus of my brain." At her blank stare. "I need menial, mind-numbing things to do." He clarified.
Penny had a suspicion there this was going. She shot a glance over her shoulder at her messy apartment.
"Please, may I clean your apartment?" She stared at him. On the one hand, she didn't really want him cleaning her place, but on the other….
"Please, please, please?" He begged.
She sighed and opened her door, allowing him in. His eyes swept over her place, and he gave a satisfied nod.
Penny returned to her seat and picked her magazine back up. She tried to read it, but her attention kept wavering back to Sheldon, flitting around, straightening, washing up and so on. He wasn't particularly noisy while he worked, but there was something about Sheldon; he always drew her attention.
She remembered the first time she'd met her new neighbors; Leonard had invited her over to eat, but she had noticed Sheldon. Well, at first she'd thought that the two of them had been 'together' but once that had been cleared up, she'd thought that Sheldon was cute. Except for those awful pants! She'd actually been secretly glad when Kurt had taken them. Her mind skittered away from the memory of Sheldon standing there in his tighty-whiteys, and boy they hadn't hid much had they? The stern injunction "this is Sheldon" usually was enough to drive those thoughts away. But not always.
By the time she finished her magazine, Sheldon had finished her apartment. He was standing in the kitchen area looking lost. "What's wrong, Sweetie?"
"It didn't work. " He said sadly.
"Well, what are you going to do?"
"I have no idea," he voice was small. Then his gaze focused on her. "Penny, you don't seem to experience any difficulties turning off your higher brain functions. What do you usually do?"
Penny waded through that with some difficulty. On the one hand, Sheldon was saying that she actually had higher brain functions to turn off; on the other…it still felt like an insult. "Sheldon…." She said with a warning note clear in her voice.
His blue eyes gazed innocently at her. "Yes, Penny?"
She sighed again. "Well, I read a magazine, like this one." She waved the "Self" magazine in the air. "Or, I might watch something on TV that doesn't require much thought."
"I wasn't aware that any of the programs that you watch did require any thought."
Her eyes narrowed. "That's it. Out."
His eyes widened in panic. "No, please, I-I-I'm sorry."
That seemed like a bit of an over-reaction. "Sheldon?"
His eyes lowered to her now shiny floor. "Leonard grew frustrated and asked me to leave."
"Your own apartment?"
A sad nod was her only answer. Oh, she and Leonard were so going to be having words about this. "Okay, Honey, you can stay for a little while, as long as you do not insult me, in any way."
"I agree to your terms."
"Wait, there's more. You can't be condescending or patronizing, either."
He sighed. "Very well."
"And I'll try not to be sarcastic."
He smiled sweetly at her. "Thank you, Penny."
She couldn't help but smile back at him. "You're welcome, Sweetie. Now, come and sit down and we'll watch something that will engage your super colicky thing."
"Super…, Penny, really! Babies are colicky…I'm…." He trailed off, at a loss as to how to suitably respond to that.
She just smiled at him. "Bazinga, Sheldon."
He gave a breathy laugh, and sat down beside her on the sofa. Penny flipped channels until she found something that was certain to numb any mind. Jerry Springer reruns. Sheldon watched mouth agape at the antics. They watched for two hours, before Sheldon stated categorically that if it hadn't worked by then that it obviously wasn't going to. What else did she do?
"Sometimes I bake. Do you feel like making cookies?"
They spent about an hour getting the ingredients together, baking and consuming the cookies. "I was not aware that you baked, Penny." Sheldon said at one point.
"I don't do it very often. Usually I don't have the ingredients, but I happen to have everything for chocolate chip cookies today." She shrugged and ate a bite of cookie dough.
"Penny!" Sheldon admonished. "Are you not cognizant of the dangers inherent in consuming raw/uncooked cookie dough?"
"I live dangerously, Sheldon," she said patiently. "Here, try it. It's really good." She offered him a bite from a fresh spoon.
He stared at her for a few long seconds then pecked a nibble off of the spoon like a baby bird. "Yes, it is tasty, but still dangerous."
When they finished their cookie making adventure, Sheldon stared at Penny with large unblinking blue eyes.
She gave him a long considering stare and went to her bedroom. She returned with her arms full. "Sheldon, there's a box on my bed, please get it, would ya'?"
He did so, and sat the box on the floor. He then looked at her expectantly.
"No, Penny, I will not allow myself to be bedecked like a girl."
"Polish is only a small part of it, Sweetie. No nail polish, I promise. I have a paraffin thing for hands, and that," she pointed at the box Sheldon had carried in, "has a foot soaker. It's even self-sterilizing. Which I never even would have looked for before you and I became friends." She grinned at him.
He was pleased that he had been a positive influence on her. "I was not aware that you owned one of those."
"When you're on your feet all day, it's worth the investment."
"I see." He had never considered the physical toll her job took on her. He knew that she was always tired at the end of her shift, but the other tidbit had never computed before. It made her truly disgusting callus smoothing slightly more understandable; although, not forgivable.
His feet and hands were really too big for the equipment, but he managed. Penny showed him how to wrap his hands after the paraffin dip, and Sheldon was forced to admit how soothing the heat was. Similarly, the foot soak was quite pleasant. Penny had watched in tolerant amusement as Sheldon removed his shoes and socks, carefully placed his socks inside his shoes, and oh-so-precisely rolled his pants legs up. After the paraffin treatment, Penny took his large hand in hers and gently pushed back the cuticles on his long, elegant fingers.
Once the manicure and pedicure were done, it seemed like a natural segue to give him a scalp massage. "Wow, Sheldon, your hair is so soft. What do you use on it?" She was perched on the back of the sofa, with Sheldon in front of her, nestled innocently between her legs.
"Baby shampoo." He stated plainly.
"No product of any kind?" He shot her a blank look over his shoulder. "No, of course not. It feels really nice."
"You're welcome, Honey."
Sheldon wondered if she realized how often she referred to him as "honey" lately. Then she dragged her nails lightly over scalp and he gasped. "That feels very pleasant."
"It's supposed to." She continued for several moments, and then pulled some type of lotion out of her kit. "Here, lean your head back against me." Sheldon hesitated, feeling unaccountably awkward. Then he tentatively scooted back to rest his head against her torso. "Great, now tilt your head back a little."
He looked at her upside down face. "Why?"
"Facial." She gently smoothed the lotion over his face, trying to copy the technique of the woman at the salon last time she'd been able to afford one. She tried not to notice that his head was resting mostly against her breasts. She felt him relax into her. With a smile she dabbed the lotion on the tip of his nose.
"That has a rather mild fragrance."
"Yeah, it's extra gentle because it goes on your face. Less chemicals."
"Is it okay?"
"Yes, it's quite nice."
Sheldon felt his mind wandering…, he was so close…. He knew that he was on the right track. Penny was proving not only to be a useful source of information, but a surprisingly cooperative partner in this endeavor. And she hadn't asked him to return the favor on any of the things that she had done for him.
"Jeez, Sheldon, your facial muscles were really tense. Lean up, will ya'?" He complied, and she touched his shoulders. "Wow, no wonder, you're filled with tension. Here, how's this?" She gently kneaded the back of his neck and shoulders.
He all but purred. "Very nice, Penny." It occurred to him abruptly, that Penny had touched him more today, than he'd been touched in the entire previous year, collectively. And it didn't bother him at all. She'd washed her hands each time he'd asked her to: before the first time she'd touched him, after she'd done his feet, before she'd touched his scalp. He should have asked her to do so prior to touching his face, but he hadn't even thought of it.
Relaxing under her gentle ministrations, Sheldon felt again that he was so close to his breakthrough. Her hands migrated from his neck and shoulders, to his upper back. "Have you ever thought about getting a professional massage, Sheldon?"
"Issues of questionable hygiene aside, before today, I would not have thought that it would be something that I might enjoy or appreciate. There is still that possibility."
"Well, you're enjoying this, aren't you? Imagine how much better a professional might be."
"That seems unlikely, as she or he would not be you."
Sheldon froze as the words left his mouth.
"That's really sweet, Honey." Penny's voice was uncharacteristically gentle and Sheldon relaxed back against her.
She continued to work on him for several minutes, and Sheldon once more felt that he was really close, but it remained tantalizingly just out of reach. He sighed. "As pleasant as this is, Penny, I fear that it isn't quite working."
"Aw, Sweetie, I'm sorry." She commiserated. "Wait, what do you mean 'isn't quite working'?"
"I feel that I'm very close, but not quite there."
"I hate that feeling." She muttered.
"Nothing, Sweetie. I'm out of ideas, unless you want a mask."
He perked up. "What kind of a mask? Flash?"
She gave a little giggle, "no, like a deep cleansing, pore-clearing mud mask. "
"Oh." He considered for a few beats. "Meh, why not, you've been very helpful so far."
She looked at him in some surprise and then shook herself out of it. "Okay, let me get it. " She paused. "I'll grab you a robe, too, you don't want the mud on your shirts. In fact, you might want to take them off."
He looked down at his Rubik's Cube t-shirt, and pulled it and the thermal under it off of his slender form, folded them and placed them on her coffee table. Now wearing only a plain white undershirt, he felt more unclothed than he did when showering. He was certain that Penny's presence accounted for that.
She walked back into the room with her pink robe and a jar. She smiled when she saw the t-shirt. "You sure wear a lot of layers, Sheldon. Are you really that cold?"
"Yes, I am often cold."
"Explains a lot, good thing you don't live somewhere cold, like Canada."
"Or Montana." He added, remembering his brief residence in that state.
Her green eyes smiled at him as he put her robe on over his t-shirt. "Definitely a good thing that you don't live in Montana."
His eyes were warm as he looked at her. "Indeed."
They sat on the sofa, and Penny leaned in close to cake the mask on Sheldon's face. He found the mask cool and soothing and her nearness distracting.
Penny was about to wash the mud off of her hands when there was a knock at the door. She held up her hands, and Sheldon rose to answer the door.
Sheldon had spent the first part of the morning flitting around trying to engage his superior colliculus, and frankly driving Leonard nuts. Finally, Leonard reached his breaking point and all but shoved Sheldon out the door, with a stern admonishment not to return until he was less annoying.
That had been almost five hours ago, and Leonard was starting to get worried. He had assumed that Sheldon would go to Penny's and she would get as frustrated with him as Leonard had and send him home. But he hadn't returned. He was half afraid that Penny had murdered Sheldon, and was trying to dispose of his body. He cautiously made his way over to her apartment and tentatively knocked on the door.
When the door swung open, Leonard jumped back in fear. A tall person in a pink robe with a textured dark face was there. It took Leonard a second to realize that he was looking at his wayward roommate.
"What's on your…what are you…?"
"Leonard, it is extremely unlikely that I can answer your questions if you are unable to complete them."
Leonard just pointed to Sheldon's face.
"Ah, yes, a deep cleansing mud mask. Quite soothing."
"Did you need something, Leonard?" Penny asked from the kitchen area. Her voice was neither warm nor friendly.
"Sorry you got stuck with him." Leonard offered, hoping that would take the stern look off of her pretty face.
"Stuck with him? Hardly. Sheldon was and is quite welcome."
Leonard knew two things for certain from that sentence. One-Sheldon had been on his very best behavior, which only Penny and his Mom seemed to be able to get. And two, Sheldon might be welcome, but Leonard, the roommate who had kicked him out, was not. His shoulders slumped.
"Well, I'll be going then?"
"Bye." Penny said, and Sheldon closed the door firmly. Sheldon and Penny looked at each other. "I meant it, Sheldon. I've really enjoyed spending time with you today. We should do something like this next Anything-can-happen Thursday. I'm just sorry we weren't able to get your colliculus engaged."
Sheldon smiled. She had actually listened. "As have I, Penny. It has been a surprisingly pleasant day. We should, indeed revisit it on Anything-can-happen Thursday." He paused. "Is this the last method of numbing your mind that you utilize?"
She looked at him in surprise. "Well, without going out, like to a club or something, yes."
"Ah, to dance and imbibe alcohol?"
"Mostly to dance. Alcohol will numb your mind, but since it's a depressant, it probably won't help jumpstart your colliculus."
"We could dance here, then." His words surprised him almost as much as they surprised her.
"I thought you couldn't dance?"
"I said I don't dance, not that I can't. Mom and Meemaw made us learn when we were little. I can dance."
"Uh, I'm still not sure that it's a good idea." He just looked at her with his big blue eyes. She sighed. "Okay, Sheldon." She instructed him to go to the bathroom, and how to remove the mask. She chose a playlist on her iPod, and a bass-heavy beat filled the room.
Sheldon walked back into the room sans mask and robe. Before he could put his shirts back on, Penny spoke. "Just feel the beat, Sheldon."
He had no idea what she was talking about- "feel the beat" indeed. He remembered the dance lesson that Wolowitz had dragged them to, and tried to get his body to move like that.
For her part, Penny was gyrating in time with the beat, and as he watched her, he began to understand about feeling the beat. He could feel it pounding through his body, and his hips and shoulders moved in sync with it. He tried to copy Penny's movements, but she was much too quick for him. It was purely in the hopes of slowing her down than he grasped her hips.
He didn't hear her gasp of surprise, but he did feel her falter and then start moving again, more slowly. Her hands landed on his shoulders, and they moved together. Sheldon knew that he was close; the solution was teasingly just out of reach. And suddenly he remembered one other thing that Penny did. Sex.
His eyes darkened as he looked into the upturned face of his friend. Whatever she saw in his expression made her back away from him.
"Penny?" He asked as he stalked towards her and she gave ground until her back was against her kitchen island. His focus was completely on her, as he leaned down. Her eyes were on his lips, as he closed the distance between them. Penny's eyes closed, and she lifted her chin a fraction.
She felt his breath ghost over her face, when suddenly he spoke. "That's it! Eureka!" She opened her eyes to his departing self rushing through her door.
She exhaled the breath that she hadn't realized that she'd been holding. "Holy crap on a cracker. What the hell was that?"
Leonard looked up from his laptop when Sheldon came rapidly into the apartment. He took in Sheldon's lack of overshirts, and the sound of music drifting over from Penny's. "Wanna' catch me up, Sheldon?"
But Sheldon was focused only on his solution, and crossed to his board. He wrote quickly, triumph in every line of his slim form. As he finally stepped back in satisfaction, the events leading up to his breakthrough came flooding back. His eyes widened in shock. Had he really almost kissed Penny? She was going to kill him. Then he remembered her surrender to his advances. Maybe he would survive to win his Nobel.
A knock at the door roused him from his thoughts. He opened it to find Penny standing there with his folded shirts in her arms. "Here, Sweetie, I thought you might be cold."
"Thank you." He took them from her and stood awkwardly. He knew that what had happened, or rather almost happened, could alter their paradigm."I… that is…." He stopped speaking with a sigh.
"Did you solve your problem, Honey?"
"Yes, Penny, thank you. Your …assistance was invaluable."
"I'm happy to help." She looked up at him, saw how lost and confused he was and shoved the memory to a far corner of her mind. "I am looking forward to next Anything-can-happen Thursday." She smiled warmly at her friend.
He smiled back, relief clear on his face. "As am I."
Leonard, Raj and Howard were trudging up the stairs after being kicked out of a bar on Anything-can-happen Thursday. Leonard and Raj kept shooting dirty looks at Howard. Howard looked smug.
Leonard opened the door to the apartment, and stopped in surprise. The living room was empty, but the TV was on. He squinted at the TV. "Risky Business"? Suddenly, Penny slid into the room on her socks. She was wearing a large Men's dress shirt, socks and holding a hairbrush. "Hurry up, it's almost time." She called back down the hallway.
Just then the opening tracks to "Old Time Rock and Roll" filled the room, and Sheldon came sliding in, dressed the same as Penny. He slid into her, and they grabbed onto each other to stay upright. They laughed and released each other, and then started to dance to "Old Time Rock and Roll" and singing into their hairbrushes. They were also oblivious to the stunned observers at the door.
Penny was laughing at Sheldon's incredibly long legs flailing around, and Sheldon was laughing because he felt like it. Neither heard the door snick shut, nor the quiet but heated conversation in the hallway.
"No, Howard, let me go back in."
"Leonard, you don't want to do that."
"Yeah, Leonard, they're having their own Anything-can-happen Thursday. Let them enjoy it."
"But, did you see …?"
Howard and Raj exchanged a look. Howard spoke. "Sure, we saw them dancing and acting silly." He looked Leonard in the eye. "Why, what did you see?"
Leonard blinked rapidly; remembering a couple of weeks ago when Sheldon had been stuck and Penny unstuck him. And that it had somehow involved taking off Sheldon's top two layers and club music. His brain shied away from the memory. "The two of them acting silly." He muttered.
"Right, so let's go find someplace else to hang out." They lead a despondent Leonard away.
Inside the apartment Penny and Sheldon continued to act silly. After all it was Anything-can-happen Thursday.
I haven't decided.
A/N Sheldon in the clay mask and pink robe as well as the "Risky Business" homage for SpaceAnJL. As always, thank you for being a never-ending source of inspiration. There's no vaccine for the AnJLVirus. Mwauhaha :D