Dizygotic Variance in 4A

Penny meets Sheldon, invites him to shower with her


"Sheldon needs me," Missy said plainly any time Penny even remotely suggested Missy move out after she complained about something new her brother had done that she needed to clean up.

Sheldon pissed off some muscle-head by asking him if the truck compensation myth is true.

Sheldon got booted off a bus today because he tried to tie himself to his seating usin' bungee cords. I had to go pick him up from the middle of no-where suburbia.

Sheldon got pickle juice in his eye and made me pour bottled water over it for ten minutes.

Penny had only ever seen Sheldon twice, both in passing, and both times he had been sitting, the glow of his laptop making his skin turn colours not found in nature. She took in his t-shirts with the gibblygook designs she couldn't make heads or tails of, the striped undershirts, and everything Missy had ever said about her brother and assumed he was one of those people who were geniuses at one thing, but were autistic with everything else. She'd watched a movie about it once.

So she more or less felt bad for Missy for being such a saint and dedicating a huge part of her life to taking care of her brother. When Missy mentioned that Sheldon hated Christmas and she figured it was because he never got any cards, Penny made sure to address hers to the both of them. When Missy agreed to go out on Saturday nights because her brother was doing laundry, Penny wondered at how highly functional Sheldon seemed to be. When Missy mentioned not being able to attend Penny's Fourth of July party because she was obligated to attend some sort of Caltech mixer hosted for the physics department with Sheldon because "I swear that boy thinks that just because he has two of them PhD's that means he doesn't need to talk to anyone in a friendly-like manner. I just have to go, Penny, or that fool is liable to find himself out of funding" Penny kind of realized that maybe she had the wrong impression.

When she broke up with Kurt and Missy found her sobbing in the parking lot behind the Cheesecake Factory (with her car stacked with boxed, bundles of shoes, and a lone table tied to the roof, legs splayed upwards in a pathetic echo of her dead relationship) and nicely called her landlord to see if the apartment across the hall was still available, Penny certainly didn't pause in her gratitude to wonder what it would be like to live across from The Crazy Cooper. She didn't think of it all through picking up a cheap couch at IKEA, or furniture at a second hand store that promised delivery, and certainly not when she and Missy were sitting on the floor of her living room, matching shoes to make sure Penny didn't forget any, listening to Kelly Clarkson's angry break-up music.

"I'm hungry!" Missy announced, getting to her feet. "Come on, it's 12:15 exactly, and I told Sheldon you'd be joining us for lunch. Today is Thai, unless Bob from Minnesota and not from Thailand is manning the kitchen, in which case it will likely be burgers from Big Boy."

Penny's stomach rumbled embarrassingly, and she ignored how little Missy was making sense as she stumbled to her feet and followed behind her friend.

"Thai?" Missy asked as she opened the door, sniffing the air. "Did you serve the food on plates?"

"Yes."

"Did you remember to heat the plates so they're warm but not too hot? You know I hate it when cold plates make my food cool but overly hot plates sweat."

"Yes."

"Four-pronged—"

"Yes, Missy. I agree, tritons are for ruling the seven seas."

"And granting wishes to little mermaids," Missy agreed, finally moving out of the way so Penny could enter the apartment. "I brought Penny."

"You said you would," the male voice said.

"Sheldon! You're using the every-day placemats. We have a guest!" Missy stared in horror at the dining table and started fussing.

"Devil woman," he muttered, but bent to get the proper tableware or whatever, Penny was sure, because no one said no to Missy when she started using that tone. Even Penny knew that. It was what made Missy good Assistant Manager material, though Missy's official title was Hostess. Everyone at the Cheesecake Factory knew who the real AssMan was, including the Man(ager) himself.

Penny still hadn't gotten a proper look at Sheldon, but she felt she didn't need it. She'd seen enough over the last year or so to get a pretty good idea of what she was facing. She'd seen the forced Christmas pictures with their visiting mother, matching home-made sweaters and Missy somehow looking like a model despite it, and Sheldon looking like...

...well, like something the Ghostbusters should deal with forth-with.

Not that Penny had anything against people who didn't have a lot going on in the looks department. She felt bad enough about the fact she believed Missy was going home to change diapers for months, yet alone judging the poor genius man based on his looks. Penny thought that anyone who was smart enough to get 2 PhDs by the age she had decided to drop out of college deserved to be exempt from that kind of shallow thinking.

"I'm so sorry Penny, our Meemaw raised us better than that, I promise," Missy fluttered over the set-table, adjusting the centrepiece and re-arranging the flower arrangement.

"It's ok," Penny responded, wandering into the living room to stare at a whiteboard filled with incomprehensible jargon she somehow recognised as being... mathy. It was a good enough opening as any. "If I'm going to be living across the hall, you can't treat me as a guest every time I show up. Sheldon, is this yours?"

"Yes." He must have come up to her as she was perusing because when he answered he was right behind her. He startled her a bit, coming into her line of vision all bright colours and limbs.

Penny was doing her best not to judge his clothes, or Missy for letting him wear them, as her eyes spanned from his t-shirt to his face, frowning slightly as he came into focus. He was watching her in return, from the tips of her toes to the roots of her hair, and she wondered if there was a genius version of the attractiveness scale that would make her come up wanting.

Then he leaned slightly against his whiteboard, careful not to rub away any of the writing, and gave her a slight smile.

Penny was taken back to realize that he had the same bright blue eyes Missy had, but whereas Missy kept hers framed and noticeably sexy with smoky makeup, Sheldon didn't need enhancements, at least the way they intensely took in her face with such keen appraisal that Penny could feel her cheeks start to heat up. His bone structure was angular and lean, and she actually took a step back in surprise, disguising the motion as taking the whiteboard he was explaining to her.

He reached out, hand splayed over an equation he was telling her was a joke, and it occurred to her that he was nothing like what she expected him to be. Where Missy had led her to believe her brother was crazy, he seemed more or less normal to her. Where Penny expected arrogance, she was faced with this quiet pride. Most surprising, he wasn't entirely terrible to look at.

"Holy smokes," she whispered, stunned.

He smiled slightly at her again, pleased at the perception that she was complimenting his work, and leaned his hip a little more against the whiteboard.

"You're one of those beautiful mind genius guys," she said with a smile, and something in the phrase rang wrong to her despite the fact she didn't know him very well. It was something about the way he was definitely complimented, slinging his elbow over his whiteboard casually, eyes crinkling at the corners, that told her he might be more than what his sister made him out to be, which was only a beautiful mind and a whole lotta wacko.

"Yeah," he said, tilting his head to look down at her.

She'd never met anyone his level of smart before. "That's really impressive," she started.

"Lunch is served!" Missy called out from the dining room table. "Sheldon, quit talkin' Penny's ear off about the Bored Oppenheimer Approximation, she doesn't get the joke. Leonard didn't even get the joke when you showed him."

"He chortled. Why would he chortle if not from mirth?" Sheldon asked, moving towards lunch.

"Humouring your delicate senses," Missy snapped back.

"I would rather know if my joke fell flat. I was hoping to use it as an opening when presenting my paper at the Born symposium next month."

"I'm sure it's high-larious?" Penny asked in a clearly questioning tone, realizing that her placating was unappreciated when Sheldon's eyes cut to her sharply.

"Are you commenting on the ratio between nuclear and electronic masses?"

"Yes?" she asked, feeling so clearly out of her depth. Missy very clearly shook her head 'no' in a desperate motion. "No! I mean no."

"Oh. I thought you might have an elementary grasp on quantum chemistry. Why would you say it like that, then?"

Penny felt her face scrunch up that time.

"Sheldon, you're being rude," Missy hissed.

"But why would she say it like that?" Sheldon asked. "High-larious is not the proper pronunciation, nor, accounting for regional variations, is it even close to the pronunciation of the word in any American state."

Penny felt very much in the spotlight, but in a bad way. She was definitely seeing Missy's point about her brother being unable to function in social situations. "I don't know," she said in a quiet voice, not enjoying this feeling of being put on the spot to explain actions she didn't have an explanation to. She was just trying to be cutesy. It was just the way she spoke sometimes!

"Penny likes to play around with what people consider the normal manner of speech," Missy translated. "Like Buffy."

"You mean Joss Whedon and his writing staff?"

"If you want to nit-pick, Sheldon! But by that 'logic' then Spock is also just the Star Trek writing staff."

Sheldon turned to Penny. "I enjoy Buffy. I will allow your culturally relevant lexicons to enter any future interpersonal dynamics where I am present."

Huh? What did that even mean? She picked out enough (the words "allow" and "where I am present" were huge hints) to get that he was giving her permission to talk the way she talked, but how would he stop her if he decided not to allow it?

Would he try to train it out of her or what?

Who gave him the right to decide how she spoke anyway?

She was definitely seeing Missy's point about her brother. At first Penny had been a little confused because Sheldon seemed more or less normal, but no, there was something definitely strange with that one.

Sheldon was full-on crazy, but she hadn't thought about Kurt for the last half an hour and had no desires to drown her sorrows in ice cream and vodka, so maybe he was the kind of crazy she could appreciate.

But now that door was open, and she was thinking about Kurt. Thinking about how she was alone, and despite how nice Missy was being, she'd still be alone by the end of the day. She let out a choked sob as it came rushing back, all those emotions. Penny put her fork down, overcome by feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. "I kept trying with Kurt. I gave him the last four years of my life, and he threw it all away again and again and I took him back again and again. I can't anymore! But I don't know what to do without him. I've never lived on my own before, and it's... it's..." she was so busy crying, she barely noticed Sheldon mouth 'what's happening?' to Missy and Missy snap her napkin at him to get him to shut up.

"Oh Penny darlin', you're not alone. You have me and the rest of your friends, and in worst case scenario, you can just come over here and watch tv with Shelly. Isn't that right?"

"I very much doubt Penny is interested in Battlestar Galacti—ow!" Sheldon leaned over to rub his shin. "That's right."

"TV?" Penny wailed. "I can't even watch America's Next Top Model tonight! Kurt still has my television and he refuses to give it back. And everybody knows possession is nine tenths of the law." By this point Penny was sobbing so loudly, she was having difficulty breathing. Missy had gotten up and was rubbing her back, making comforting noises in the back of her throat as Penny's fingers mangled the cotton napkin in her hands.

"Did you know that adage can be traced back to the 16th Century?" Sheldon asked. "While not literal, it stands that in the absence of clear and compelling testimony or documentation to the contrary, the person in actual possession of the property is presumed to be the rightful owner."

"Do you think you're helping Sheldon?" Missy asked.

"However, in this modern era, even if there is no paper trail leading back to Penny, there is likely an electronic one if she did, in fact, pay for the television. I have a text on the subject if Penny wishes to read it to occupy her mind during the time she would normally be absorbed in Tyra Banks' hair."

"I'm sorry I'm such a mess," Penny sniffed, directing her conversation towards Missy. "From the crying, and the moving, and my stupid shower doesn't work."

"I told you you could use ours," Missy reminded her and then proceeded to have another one of her silent conversations with Sheldon.

"That wouldn't be weird?" Penny asked, correctly identifying the reason behind this one and exactly what the expression on his face meant.

"Yes." Sheldon made an angry face at Missy, eyebrows high and chin jerking in her direction. His mouth pursed, and finally he conceded. "No."

x.x.x.x.x.

She could do this, Penny decided, staring at her reflection in the mirror. She could go out, knock on Kurt's door, and demand her television back. She had the long arm of the law on her side, or whatever, and Kurt probably would not want the police involved considering the stash of marijuana he kept hidden in the biggest oregano jar known to man as though that fooled anyone other than his mom.

That one time his mom came over and made lasagna: high-larious.

But of course, nothing could go right for her, and she almost had a breakdown over her inability to turn the shower on, and it took a new more moments of deep breathing before she talked herself into putting her towel back on and getting Missy to help her instead of crawling naked into the corner of someone else's bathtub and sobbing over her failure of a life. She was pathetic, but not that pathetic.

"Missy!" Penny called out, exiting the bathroom with a towel wrapped firmly around her breasts. She wasn't sure why she had made sure to tie it in a way that both hid and highlighted her best features instead of wrapping herself up like a mummy, but she had. It was only Missy, she had to remind herself. Missy and her crazy, dependent brother. "Is there a trick to getting it to change from tub to... oh."

Instead of her friend, three strange (in the sense that they didn't look normal as Penny perceived it) men looked up at her in various states of surprise.

"Sheldon, you didn't mention your sister had a guest. Hello," a short, skinny swizzle-stick of a man said to her, practically jumping to her side. "Howard Wolowitz. Charmed. Enchante. Ammaliato."

"Where's Missy?" Penny directed towards Sheldon.

"Gone to procure your television from your esteemed former paramour," Sheldon responded, but he was standing from his stool and gently extricating her from the rest of the men in his living room, all without laying a single finger on her or his friends, and yet each had moved in the way he intended them to.

"Bonne douche!" the creepy one yelled after them.

Then Penny found herself alone in the small bathroom with Sheldon, and for some reason her skin prickled with nerves and she found herself allowing her towel to slip slightly over her skin, surprised and confused by the sensation of the rough fabric as her attention turned to Sheldon.

He leaned over her to turn on the tap, giving the handle a good shove inwards as his wrist deftly twisted it around until water poured out of the showerhead. He also had the same hands as Missy, but whereas his twin considered them her worst feature, on Sheldon they were definitely the best, all long fingers and wide palms. He straightened, hand braced against the shower rod above his head, still leaning so close that she could see the intense blues of his eyes focused on her face, the slight shadow on his jawline of closely-shaved hair, and the flex of muscles and tendons in his forearm as it braced and relaxed.

Her stomach gave a slight kick, breathing becoming slightly more difficult as the steam rose around them. Yes, that was it. The steam was what was causing her to flush a little. She fought against the urge to slide her towel off to escape the heat.

"Don't worry," she told him. "Kurt might be a meathead and a jerk but your sister can take care of herself."

"I'm not questioning that."

"And he'd never hit a woman, no matter how much of a caveman he is," she assured him.

"If only Missy had the same compunction," Sheldon responded. "My sister is just as likely to return with bruised knuckles as she is your television."

"You could have gone with her," she pointed out quietly, tone far more breathless than she meant it.

It just hit her all at once, the uneasy feeling she had once he came into view, the very slight kick to her stomach she felt looking at the reach of his fingers: Penny thought Sheldon Cooper was attractive, and in the days following the crash and burn of her relationship with Kurt, finding a moment where she wasn't dwelling in heartbreak, let alone was able to see another man as attractive, was a huge deal.

"As could you. My sister has taken it upon herself to fight your battles. I have done no such thing," he pointed out, straightening upright and letting his arm drop to his side. "I neither know you and count you as a friend, nor have you asked for my aid, in which case the bounds of chivalry would obligate my assistance."

Chivalry? Really? Penny was starting to see why Missy kept her brother away from all her girlfriends. They would eat this boy alive. "Maybe we can change that," she told him with a grin over her shoulder as she climbed into the shower, pulling the curtain closed before she pulled off the towel. There was a certain thrill about being naked in the same room as Sheldon Cooper that pulsed through her blood as one of her bare arms stuck out of the shower and draped the towel over the rack.

"Change what?"

"Maybe you can get to know me," she responded with a flirty grin he couldn't see as she stepped beneath the pulsating water. "Become my friend."

"I already have the requisite two friends, a valued acquaintance and an obligatory female in my life. I do not need more."

Penny thought they'd been flirting, hand to god, she thought there had been a repartee between them, but she remembered now that Missy told her that Sheldon was far too literal to be left alone in conversations and had to be given social cues most of the time or he really didn't know what to do. "Either join me or leave, sweetie," she said gently. "I don't let non-friends in the room with me when I shower."

x.x.x.x.


A/N: And that is how Penny and Sheldon meet.

I could write a whole essay/character study based on the concept of Missy having a role in Sheldon's life: his character would be slightly more understanding of the female mind, he'd have a slightly better grasp on social mores some of the time, and occasionally Missy would browbeat him into wearing jeans. He'd still be friends with the guys, mostly based on the three stooges trying to catch a glimpse of his sister naked. Leonard wouldn't be the first to see Penny and his tenuous claim would hold less meaning. Finally, after hearing so much about Sheldon's craziness from Missy, Penny would actually be able to focus on the less crazy parts of his personality.

On the flip side, some of the wonderful aspects of the show get lost in the translation: Sheldon going along to get Penny's tv and getting pantsed, for one. (Not that I won't try to get him pantsless )

Next Chapter: Leonard and Penny meet. Leonard tries to impress her again. Sheldon is less accommodating.