I'M REALLY SORRY I TOOK SOOO LOOONG AND ITS SO SHOOOORT PLEASE FORGIVE M
I actually have had this written up for about a month but I'm just a lazy bitch and WAAAAAAH D:
(Yes, a month. That's how long I've been looking forward to the 25th of December.)
Back in America, Penny couldn't bring herself to regret her romantic getaway with her new boyfriend. It had been the worst trip of her life, but without it, she doubted there would be any advancement in their relationship. He'd said the three magic words. I love you.
For the millionth time, Penny pondered why it was that Sheldon was possibly one of the least malicious men she'd ever known, and yet ended up being the one who'd hurt her the most. He seemed to think that material possessions would make up for leaving her stranded in a strange place. She didn't mind the baskets of toiletries or the boxes of chocolates, but she needed him to try to fix things properly, instead of hiding behind gifts and hoping for it all to go away.
Still, the inevitable Talk wasn't the most pressing issue on today's agenda.
Today was Christmas Shopping Day.
Penny was standing in the middle of the shopping centre, whirling round in awe at all the beautiful, beautiful stores just waiting to be explored. Sheldon wasn't around, as much as he had offered to be there to carry her bags. No, this was Penny Alone Time.
She needed to find the perfect gift. Not some robot from the comic book store, not a whole new wardrobe...something he wouldn't expect. Something that would show him just how much she cared. And something that wouldn't exceed her very limited budget.
Strolling leisurely towards what looked like a pretty little gift shop, Penny swung her bag and grinned from ear to ear, not caring who thought she was crazy. Life was (slowly) getting a little better for her, and dammit if she wasn't going to make the most of it.
She found an adorable little photo frame for Bernadette, and a box of liquor-filled chocolates. Leonard got a sweater, and Raj a scarf, because he totally seemed like the kind of guy who'd wear a scarf. She bought Howard a box of condoms, because what was she if she didn't have a sense of humour?
That left Sheldon. Hmm. He'd probably be spending obscene amounts of money on her, given his current behaviour and that one time with all the baskets. She didn't have obscene amounts of money to spend; her first paycheque from Sheldon covered her most urgent bills, but her financial mess wasn't over yet. So, what could she possibly give him?
Sitting on a bench surrounded by her purchases, Penny realised that there were a number of things she could give to him without spending any money. And she wasn't thinking about baking or knitting or crafting, either...Sheldon had seemed to enjoy himself in England, but they hadn't touched since. He understood her money situation; perhaps he would appreciate if she concentrated her efforts in the bedroom, instead.
Christmas sex...she needed it, he liked it: the perfect solution.
And so the eve of Christmas was finally upon them. The gang congregated in the living area of apartment 4A, excited as little kids, waiting for the time to exchange presents. Penny was wedged between Leonard and Sheldon on the couch; Bernadette and Howard shared the armchair whilst Raj sat cross-legged on the floor. They had cocoa and Christmas movies and all was well.
Apart from the unsociable manner in which Bernadette and Howard were totally getting off, and how Raj clutched a slice of rum cake, looking sad and lonely, and Leonard texted, while Penny was leaning with her head on Sheldon's stiff shoulder.
It was a tense and awkward silence, and Penny broke it by jumping up, declaring it was time for cocoa refills.
"None for us, thanks," Howard panted, breaking away from Bernadette for a moment, before the two of them started snickering and hurried into the hallway, out of sight.
"They're in my room, aren't they?" Leonard sighed, resigned. "Raj, can I stay at your place tonight?"
Raj beamed. "Sure, buddy. I love company." Leonard looked a little uncomfortable, then shrugged and stood to get a jacket.
"Oh, you're leaving?" Penny called from the kitchenette, having managed to carry over all six mugs because she was just that good.
"Yeah." A moan from Leonard's room. "I suggest you do the same." He grinned, which turned into a grimace as the moans got louder. "Uhh, we'll see you tomorrow. Merry Christmas!"
Raj followed Leonard out of the apartment with a wave, and the door closed. Sheldon hadn't moved from his seat, but he looked as if he was concentrating very hard on blocking out the sounds of luurve coming from Bernadette and Howard down the hall.
"Do you wanna take this to my apartment, sweetie?" Penny asked, holding up the two steaming mugs with a hopeful smile. Things couldn't have worked out better for her, actually. The festive season seemed to have erased most of the tension that still remained between her and Sheldon, and the situation was perfect for her to give him her present.
Sheldon nodded gratefully, pushed himself up from the sofa and headed to the door, holding it open, as both of Penny's hands were occupied with mugs of deliciousness.
This was going to be a fun Christmas Eve.