DISCLAIMER: I don't own Big Bang Theory or any of the characters therein. I dabble for fun alone.
A/N: Um, this is not the show I normally write for (not even close) and it's not a couple I ever thought I'd ship or a show I'd ever thought could drive me to shipping. And yet...here I am. This scenario popped into my head with such regularity that I finally had to write the darned thing to make room for something else. It's very rough. It's probably not very good. But hey - you never know. Somebody else might get a kick out of it. If you have a second, please review! :-)
I'm drowning in paperwork. I'm not even kidding you, there are bills and receipts and grocery lists on every flat surface in my bedroom. Why the hell do I even have all of this stuff? Was my shredder broken? Was I hoping I could claim my impulse Jimmy Choo slingbacks on my taxes as a business expense? I could swear I just kept the important receipts. Maybe they rubbed too close together in the paperwork drawer until they started breeding.
Knock, knock, knock.
Knock, knock, knock.
Knock, knock, knock.
Oh, thank God. I have no idea what spurned this morning's 'Let's-Declutter!' idea of mine, but I am so ready to put it to bed. Or, more likely, to death. Either way, it's perfect timing for a visit. Of course, Sheldon doesn't exactly count as a social call. But that doesn't stop me from smiling wide when I open the door.
Worried does not begin to cover the expression he's wearing. Terrified, maybe. Twitchy, definitely. I'm pretty sure if I start counting backwards, he'll launch clean out of his skin in T-minus 3, 2—
"Hello, Penny. If you're not otherwise preoccupied, I'm in need of your…help."
He spits the last word out like someone tortured it from him with hot pokers.
I almost suppress a smirk. Almost. "Really? There's a problem that the beautiful mind of Dr. Sheldon Cooper isn't equipped to handle?"
Familiar arrogance flashes in his eyes. He opens his mouth, obviously ready to refute, but then he closes it again. Takes a breath. "Yes."
Huh. Well, color me surprised. And amused.
I bite my lip and heave a deep, thoughtful sigh. "Let me get this straight. You need me and my sub-extraordinary—
"Sub-extraordinary is not a word, Penny."
"Okay, let's just call it ordinary. So you need my ordinary, merely mortal mind to solve this problem."
"Honestly, I see no correlation between mortality and my seeking your assistance on one of the very few subjects you bear a certain expertise in."
This boy can suck the fun out of a bag of cotton candy. I sigh, holding open the door. "Come on in, Sheldon."
He shifts around, finding his customary spot on my sofa where he proceeds to cross and uncross his arms and legs half a dozen times. A twitchy Sheldon is nothing new, but this is ridiculous. He looks like a praying mantis hooked up to a car battery.
Something is wrong.
I sit down carefully beside him, having no clue what do to about the imminent explosion of crazy that's obviously going to detonate in the middle of my living room.
He lets out a breath that sounds suspiciously like a sigh. "Amy Farah Fowler and I had a disagreement."
"Oh. I'm sorry, sweetie."
"Yes, well, an apology in this instance is neither relevant nor helpful…" he trails off, seeing my arched brow, and clears his throat. "But I do appreciate the sentiment."
I bare my teeth in an approximation of a smile. "No problem."
"As I was saying, Amy Farah Fowler and I have a significant difference of opinion that impacts the newly formed paradigm of our relationship. The incident occurred at oh-nine-thirty this morning after our mutually-agreed-upon breakfast appointment. I had oatmeal, of course—"
He doesn't even breathe. I swear to God the man could recite the Gettysburg Address without stopping for air.
"—You may find it interesting to know that oatmeal, along with being a known champion of overall cardiovascular health, also contains phytochemicals which may be conducive to cancer prevention. For the record, Amy did not consume oatmeal, but rather chose two slices of wheat toast with raspberry—"
I groan, dropping my face into my hands. "Sheldon, tell me this isn't about oatmeal. Or toast."
He looks shocked at the very idea. "Of course it isn't. I'm merely providing a base of data which, if properly evaluated, may bear influence on the situation itself and thus on the advice you may or may not be inclined to offer."
The only inclination I have is to beat my head on the coffee table. I resist it. "Can we shoot for the Reader's Digest version of that data?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Summarize, Sheldon! Chop, chop!"
Suddenly, he doesn't look smug or arrogant, or angry—which is a big shock, because snapping at Sheldon almost always results in a little pissy fit. But, no, he's not pissy. He's twisting his hands in his lap and frowning in a peculiar way. If I didn't know better, I'd say he looked embarrassed.
"Amy kissed me again this morning."
I mock-gasp. "Scandalous! Have you filed a police report?"
He sends me a withering look, but there's just enough vulnerability beneath it to wipe the grin off my face. I can feel my expression soften when he takes another breath.
"We spoke of it immediately, as it was an act in flagrant opposition to our relationship agreement. I specifically addressed my lack of willingness to participate in any physical contact which could be construed as affectionate, as outlined in section B of the agreement and also briefly summarized in subsection H.2—
"I doubt it," I interrupt.
"That it's summarized. Or brief."
There's the irritation—it makes me smile the way his mouth pinches and his eyes go dark. This is the Sheldon I know how to deal with. But, he doesn't stick around. Instead, the strange flustered version returns, looking down at his hands before he continues.
"If you can refrain from interrupting long enough for me to explain my dilemma, I'll go on. The unwelcome kiss—which continued for a duration of approximately one and a half seconds before I disengaged—apparently sparked a romantic and potentially sexual awareness in Amy." He pauses, looking a little flushed, and, strangely enough, lost for words. "As a result of her experience, she feels there are benefits to a more physically affectionate relationship and wants to revisit our original agreement."
I don't really feel like smiling, but I know I should. I force one onto my lips. "But that's great, Sheldon!"
Sheldon doesn't look like it's great. He looks like he's wilting like lettuce before my eyes.
I've got nothing, so I frown. "It isn't great?"
"It most certainly is not great." Sheldon says, rolling his eyes at my word choice. "I found the experience to be brief, moist and while not entirely unpleasant, not something I felt any particular desire to explore again."
"Well..." What the hell do I say to that? It's not shocking that Sheldon would feel this way about a kiss. He's always claimed to be above all the hormonal nonsense.
Some part of me always believed it was a front. I've seen him in enough pajama pants, and once in a blinding pair of tighty-whities, to be sure he has all the proper equipment. I mean, I don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that occasionally, some of those manly bits have to push that big old brain of his to the backseat. It's basic biology. I always figured he was just too afraid to admit there was one universal truth that scares him half to death.
"Are you ever planning on finishing your thought or are we just to sit here staring awkwardly?" he asks.
Right. My thought. What the hell is my thought on this?
Sheldon shifts a little in his chair, biting his lip. I've never seen him bite his lip. I'm not sure I've ever even noticed he had lips, but he does. The bottom one is kind of full and pink and—okay, all this creepy kissing talk is making my brain linger on disturbing, disturbing things.
"Was Amy upset when you said this to her?" I blurt out, desperate to go away from the weird lip thoughts.
Sheldon actually winces before answering. "No. She informed me that in her opinion my lack of a heightened physiological reaction indicated a certain physical stunting, if you will. She theorizes that my superior intellect has repressed the development of other fundamental human behaviors. Whereas, I've always believed my lack of interest in intimate relationships indicated my superiority from an evolutionary standpoint, Amy Farah Fowler believes it is not merely a lack of interest and inclination, but rather a lack of ability."
I don't understand two thirds of the shit that just came out of his mouth, but I don't think I need to. I'm pretty sure there's only one relevant fact in that mess. "She thinks there's something wrong with you."
I say it softly at first, the shock of it stealing most of my voice with the words. Then, something else pushes against that shock. Something that bubbles hot and fierce within me, outraged that someone, some stupid, callous girl would say something so deliberately cruel to Sheldon.
He's such a…such a—okay, fine, Sheldon is smug and neurotic and half-the-time damned near intolerable, but he is also unbelievably loyal, brutally honest, and—in his own admittedly strange way—incredibly sweet.
"She thinks there's something wrong with you," I say again, incredulous and pissed at Amy's audacity. And maybe the anger is a little over the top, but it's there, nonetheless, flexing my fingers into fists.
"She didn't intend to be hurtful," he says, in all fairness, because Sheldon is nothing if not fair. "She merely felt justified in the certainty of her particular data analysis and interpretation."
"Okay but her analysis or whatever hurt you, right?"
He looks like he wants to deny it, and I'm sure he does. He probably wants to tell me that he's a Vulcan and Vulcan's don't have feelings or some crap, but he doesn't.
He pauses, his eyes going dark. "She posed a valid question, I suppose. As a scientist, I'm forced to be objective about these matters and to at least consider the possibility that she's right. Amy Farah Fowler's intellect is superior and she doesn't submit a hypothesis for review without some reasonable assurances of accuracy. The truth is, she may be correct. There might be something …deficient in me."
"Bullshit!" I say, maybe a little more loudly than I should have. Sheldon startles into silence and I keep right on rambling, because frankly, talking fast is a hell of a lot more appealing than trying to figure out why this idea pisses me off so much. "There is nothing wrong with you, Sheldon! Just because you didn't get hot and bothered from one little kiss doesn't mean you're deficient."
"Doesn't it? Amy said she felt the accelerated pulse and heightened sensitivity and many other characteristic response traits that indicate sexual arousal."
"So, I didn't feel those things, Penny. None of them."
"So, maybe she's not your type."
"According to our extensive list of mutual interests, personality similarities, and lifestyle choices, Amy Farah Fowler should be exactly my type."
"I don't give a crap about your lists and experiments and your crazy science crap. None of that explains chemistry."
Sheldon cocks his head. "Chemistry is an interesting facet to this issue. Though we weren't discussing any inherent biological imcompatabilities—
"No, Sheldon, I'm talking about chemistry! Human chemistry—you know what, forget it. Just hold still and close your eyes."
"I can't see why this would be helpful to answering my—
"Close your damned eyes, Sheldon!"
He closes them.
I don't wait long. Long enough to think that this is the most batshit crazy thing I have ever done in my entire life and that he's going to kill me. Or vomit. Or pass out cold in horror and hit his head on my coffee table. But I don't think long enough to stop the one thought that seems more important than all the rest.
There is not a damned thing wrong with Sheldon Cooper. And I'm going to prove it.
I lean in, pressing a soft kiss to his bottom lip. I flinch at that first, forbidden contact, and he does exactly what I expect. He jerks back, going ramrod stiff and tossing up a hand to push me away. I press my palm against his quickly, and back up just enough to keep things in focus.
"Relax, Sheldon. This is an experiment, okay?"
He doesn't relax. He's about as relaxed as a sheet of tempered steel.
"This is a terrible experiment, Penny. There are no measurable ways to track the data and no control group and the unsanitary—
"Sheldon, stop." To my shock, he does. We're still so close, palms touching and faces just far enough apart for breathing room. Come to think of it, it may not have been a choice for him to stop talking. This may be panic-induced paralysis.
"You came to me for advice," I say, trying to sound authoritative. "I'm the expert on this. You want to know if you're deficient?"
"Then let me figure it out."
He blinks once. And then again. Squaring his shoulders like he's heading into battle. "Alright. But this is a highly disorganized and uncomfortable method."
"Sheldon," my tone holds a stern warning.
"I'll say no more."
"Good. Now close your eyes."
He does and I lean in again, and this time, I feel something before I kiss him. His breath against my lips. He's breathing faster. Oh my God. He's nervous.
I smile before our lips touch. I've never kissed anyone like I'm kissing Sheldon, all careful and slow. I've never thought so much about a kiss in my damned life. Not in the middle of it, anyway. And crap on a cracker, his lips are insanely soft. Soft and warm and—did he just…
I'm not sure at first, but then he does it again, the movement so timid and slight, I could almost miss it. If it were anyone else in the universe, I would miss it, but it isn't anyone else, it's Sheldon. And when Sheldon moves any part of his mouth against mine, I'm calling Big Freaking Deal. All capital letters and bold font, thank you.
I tilt my head, and our mouths fuse a little more deeply. There is the barest hint of tongue and Sheldon's fingers flutter against mine. Well, what do you know. He's a real, live boy.
So, I can stop this.
And I really, really should.
I try to ease back, lifting a bit of pressure off the kiss. But he follows me.
He follows me.
Every damned thing changes after that. And I'm not exactly sure who's doing what or why I haven't pulled away, but now I'm sort of dizzy and this is definitely a normal kiss because I'm feeling all the normal things one's supposed to feel. And I'm pretty sure those are his fingers curling against the hem of my jean-shorts, so I win. Experiment over. Point proven. Sheldon is just fine. One hundred percent fine.
So, I can pull away any time.
Any time now.
I finally force myself to pull free, feeling my cheeks go red. Yeah, okay. Weird. I press my lips together and keep my eyes shut.
Sheldon's voice is a shaking, gravely thing that sends my belly into a loop-de-loop.
I don't think I want to open my eyes. There's something about the way he's still panting, about the fact that he's still close enough that I can smell the crispness of soap and laundry detergent. It's getting under my skin. Which is ten kinds of insane because this is Sheldon! As in so not the guy.
"Penny?" he says again, and God, I've got to pull my shit together. It was one kiss. Barely a kiss with about two seconds of tongue, and oh my God, am I throbbing? Seriously?
Third time. Always in threes with Sheldon. I release his fingers and open my eyes, ready to face him.
He is flushed and bright-eyed, still dressed in a ten-year-old's clothes. But he doesn't look like a ten-year-old to me. Not anymore.
"Have you derived any conclusions?" he asks, though his voice is still just a little too rough for me to buy his Spock impression.
I nod, because I don't trust my mouth to make words right now. But I have to get past that seriously fast, because I have to make this incredibly big deal an anti-deal. This is Sheldon. He can't handle French Toast on a Tuesday or socks that aren't symmetrically folded. I have to bring this back to something he can process before his head explodes. Back to science.
I clear my throat. "Your reactions appear to be undeniably within standard norms to me."
"Oh, that's hardly conclusive," he says, exhaling in a rush and rolling his eyes.
"Hardly conclusive?" Okay, ouch. I sure the hell was perfectly within norms. And with all the heavy breathing and the fact that I'd bet a thousand bucks that at one point it was Sheldon's tongue testing the waters, I was sure he'd—
"It was a poor experiment both in planning and execution and your data analysis isn't proving to be the exception to the rule."
I jab my finger at him in accusation. "But you reacted, Sheldon. Your heart-rate and breathing. Distinctly react-ey. There's nothing deficient with you, and that's the whole point."
"React-ey? Penny, your feeble grasp of your native tongue astounds me." He holds up his hands before I can snap off his head. "While I agree my reaction was the entire point, I was foolish to come to you in order to obtain an answer."
"Excuse me?" Now I'm pissed. I'm not sure why because translating Sheldon-speak is like wading through mud to find a slip of tissue paper. But still. Totally pissed here.
"To put it in terms you might understand, this experiment is a bit like taking a home pregnancy test when you need to find out if you've got a radon leak in your house. Your involvement taints the results, clearly."
Terms I'd understand? The hell? I sit there, not understanding any of those terms, and eventually Sheldon tries again. "After years of data intake and analysis, I can honestly say you've always proven to be an anomaly, Penny. Though I've tried on countless occasions, I've never been able to conclusively explain my reactions to you."
"Oh," I say. And then, again. "Oh."
I know I shouldn't be touched or flattered. And I definitely shouldn't be feeling a rush of power at the idea of being Sheldon's anomaly. But he looks a little bashful now that he's spit all that out, so yeah. Maybe it is a bit of a rush. Sue me.
Sheldon stands up, looking towards the door. "Well, since you were unable to produce any concrete assistance on the matter—
He doesn't answer, but he looks at me in a way I'm not sure he's ever looked at me before. Part of it is typical Sheldon. Smug. Impatient. But there's something else. Something that almost seems to say, "I can't go here. Please don't make me."
"You're an anomaly for me, too," I say. I don't know why I said it. I know it's true, but I there are certain kinds of true I don't really like to cop to. And this is one of them. I want to take it back. Take it back and push it down so I can be happy, bubbly Penny. The flirty, cute blonde-next-door with no deeper layers.
"How so?" he asks.
I shrug, ashamed at my own answer. "You're the only straight guy I know that I can't figure out. I have no idea where I stand with you or what your motives are for any nice thing you do. Hell, I don't even know how to get your attention."
He cocks his head as though the idea is beyond his comprehension. And let's face it, nothing is beyond Sheldon's comprehension.
"Get my attention?" He tilts his head and I find myself glancing at his mouth. "Penny, I can't think of a time when you haven't had my attention."
He steps to the door and I feel something go through me that I'm not sure they make words big enough to describe.
How the hell is that possible? Sheldon Cooper is the boy that reduces me to speechlessness? It's just…absurd enough to make absolute sense.
"Thank you for your time, Penny," he says as he opens the door.
"I'm sorry I didn't give you better advice."
"You gave me new data to consider," he says, and for one second, I'd bet everything I won his eyes flick down to my lips. Then he's back to my eyes, shoulders set and expression cool and detached. "However, if you've exposed me to a viral or bacterial infection, I'll have you know there will be dire consequences."
Typical Sheldon. I feign a sneeze, and he darts into the hallway, looking aghast I laugh as he closes the door and try to wave the whole thing off as another bizarre encounter with the super-genius-next-door. Still, I look at that closed door a long time after he leaves. And I press my lips together. New data to consider.