Title: They Way It Should Have Been

Pairing: Sheldon/Penny

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: This has been done, I know. But I wanted to write it anyway. This story is for Kristen3, because it's her birthday and I pretty much only got the idea because of her. And for iloveromance, too. Just because. Please review!

The moment Sheldon Cooper laid eyes on Penny, he knew his life was about to change. It wasn't just because of Leonard's obvious crush that told him he'd see this woman constantly, but because of something he felt himself. She rendered him speechless. In all his life, he'd hardly ever been speechless. There was always something to say. Not when he was looking at her. Sheldon had never cared for the opposite sex, or the same sex. He didn't care for sex, full stop. When his eyes landed on Penny, he thought he suddenly knew what other men must feel. Just for the shortest of moments. Sheldon was not stupid – of course, he was not stupid; he was one of the brightest minds walking the earth – and knew his chances with her were slim for now. Leonard was already in love, without any doubt. As much as social relationships baffled him, he knew his roommate well enough. A part of him was jealous, because this was an area Leonard was actually superior to him. Not that he'd ever cared before. He wouldn't care now either, he decided. He couldn't. He had work to do, a Nobel Prize to win. There was no time for things such as crushes. Sheldon was sure he could forget about it.

Or not. Why did Leonard have to invite her over? Naturally, Penny saw his board. Her amazement didn't surprise him, but it gave him a warm feeling. Something he'd only felt when watching Star Trek or Doctor Who. He'd never felt it just because a woman had complimented him. She had to leave his life again. Sheldon suddenly realized this wouldn't work. She called him a beautiful mind; Sheldon had seen the movie "A Beautiful Mind." The portrayal of John Nash had reminded him that there could be relationships in his life even with his work. But still, he hadn't felt it applicable to his own life. There was his mother, who worried about him. His meemaw, who he loved more than any other human being. Even if he wouldn't have phrased it like that. A brother and sister he liked well enough, but a woman to share his life with? No. Not before Penny. The way she looked at him and his board! Sheldon could hardly control those new feelings he had no use for. He didn't know how to deal with them. At all.

Then Penny finally managed to distract him from his hideous emotions; not only had she dared to sit in his spot – the horror -, but she wasn't even close to his intellectual level. Most people weren't and Sheldon had made peace with it, yes, he actually preferred it. As tiresome as it often was when people didn't think as quickly and efficiently as him, it gave him an edge. He was superior to them and always would be. His interest in a mate had been absent most of his life, but even with the sparks of interest in Penny now he knew he wouldn't be able to procreate with someone of her inferior intellect. His children had to continue his great work. His mother would have been so proud knowing he was thinking about children. But he destroyed the imaginary bubble with a mental needle as soon as it was there. He had to forget about Penny – and possible children.

If it hadn't been for Leonard, Sheldon would have thrown her out of the apartment and ultimately his life. But his roommate was so easily drawn in by women. For him, it was the greatest goal to find a woman. Not his work. That's why Leonard, despite his high intellect, would never be as successful as Sheldon. Sheldon wasn't easily distracted by his lower regions, or his baser instincts. His whole life had been dedicated to science and he wasn't about to let one blonde change all that. Then she hugged him. She just went and hugged him. For Penny, it was probably a normal thing and didn't last more than a couple of seconds. Sheldon still felt her body against his minutes afterwards and it wasn't because of all the germs she might have put on him. Everything tingled; his arms, his legs and even his stomach. He shivered and he couldn't tell if he was cold, or if was because of Penny. He just knew he couldn't have her around day in and day out if he wanted to get everything done. He felt his roommate, rather than he heard him, sigh. Of course. Leonard was just a man. He wouldn't be able to direct this sexual energy into work.

"You're not done with her, are you?" Sheldon couldn't keep his eyes away from her door. He'd never felt such an impulse to follow someone before. He wanted to touch her for himself. To see if his fingers would tingle just like every other part of his body tingled. But there was Leonard. No matter his solution, there was always Leonard in his way.

"Our babies will be smart and beautiful." The shorter man exclaimed proudly. Sheldon felt anger rise within him and if he didn't know it better – and he didn't – he thought he was jealous. The mere thought that Leonard and Penny had children together...

"Not to mention imaginary." He added for his friend. Whatever happened in the future, he wouldn't let that happen.

Later, at the sushi bar, Sheldon felt slightly ashamed of his friends. Raj and Howard acted like a pair of childish idiots fighting over a woman at the bar. They were always so desperate. Sheldon watched them for a moment, but they didn't interest him. Penny was chatting up some guy and it hurt him. Leonard, too, seemed in distress over this scene. He suckled and nibbled on his straw like a baby, making painful noises. Sheldon was fed up. The jealousy, this unknown feeling just because of Penny, made him angry. He excused himself to go to the men's room. He wasn't going to use it, because he'd never been at this particular sushi bar before. It was bad enough that he'd agreed to come here and actually eat the food without knowing anything about it. He wouldn't expose himself to even more germs.

"Sheldon!" Suddenly, Penny was at his side. They were in a small, separate hallway where their friends couldn't see them. Sheldon felt himself start to sweat and why was his heart beating so fast? He knew there were scientific explanations and they all pointed to attraction, but Sheldon refused to believe it.

"Penny. I'm on my way to the bathroom."

"Oh... sure. Look, I didn't want to say anything with the other guys around but, uhm. Thanks again, you know."

"That was Leonard and me."

"I know. But..." Penny was fidgety. Sheldon didn't know how to interpret her behavior. Any other person might have realized she was interested in him, but Sheldon was oblivious, because he had no experience with it.

"What? Do you need help finding a word? I might offer my expertise, just explain it to me."

"Are you serious?" Penny laughed. It was a beautiful sight and sound, and his eyes grew bigger. This couldn't happen.

"I never joke." Sheldon swallowed hard. "And when I do you will know by my use of the word bazinga."

"That's cute, but look... I know what I want to say, I'm just not sure how you'll react. I want to ask you something." She worried her lip and Sheldon thought he'd never seen anything as amazing as that. He wanted to do that to her. He felt the sudden urge to touch her lips first with his finger to explore the texture, then replace his finger with his lips...

"Ask me anything. I have a working knowledge of the entire universe and everything it contains." Penny tilted her head and Sheldon wet his lips, not sure if he could stand this any longer. He damned Leonard for letting Penny into their lives. He'd only known her for a couple of hours and he was already a babbling idiot like Howard!

"Hm... I was going to ask you... would you like to go on a date with me?" Her eyes – green, he realized that moment – grew big and expectantly. In all his life, Sheldon had been asked on a date a couple of times. Most of them as a joke, or a dare. He hadn't considered them seriously anyway. This was a different situation. Penny was going to change his whole life. He had known the first moment. He had just known. But he wasn't ready yet. Only this morning, he hadn't been ready to masturbate for money and have some woman use his sperm. He wasn't ready to go on a date with a woman yet. Especially not one like her. Who had the potential to destroy his mind, his work and everything he'd ever known. Sheldon wasn't ready.

"You're not interested." Penny remarked sadly. "Well, you can't blame a girl for trying." Sheldon stared at her, baffled. He needed to say something, anything.

"It's just..." he started and Penny turned to him, hope in her eyes. "Leonard."


"Yes. He's interested in you and it wouldn't be fair." Sheldon didn't care for Leonard's feelings. Not like that. The lie easily left his lips, which surprised him. He wasn't a good liar, but Penny made him do things he never thought possible.

"Oh. That's too bad." For a moment, she continued to look sad. Then a huge smile appeared on her face.

"Well, if you ever change your mind, you know where to find me." Sheldon didn't know what to do with the suggestive tone in her voice. It made him feel uncomfortable, yet he liked it.

"I do." He answered. She was still close and she was still smiling. A moment later, she was on tiptoes and planted a small kiss on his lips, and then she was gone. Sheldon stood there, his lips tingling.

She wasn't going to change his life; she already had.