1. I do not own these characters. 2. I have never liked that the guys got away with sabotaging Sheldon's work.


He leaned against a pillar in the ballroom, trying to blend in. He was resigned to these fund raisers normally. Now, after everything that had happened, he hated it. He hated having to be here. He hated having to try to defend his work. Work that was structurally sound. The problems with it were not his. He had been betrayed. His reputation was in tatters. All thanks to his friends.

He looked out into the crowd and saw them. They smiled and laughed and flirted. They thought it was all over. And maybe it was. He did not know if he was going to be able to salvage this. His confidence was cracked. He wanted to escape. To go home. To sit in his spot and ignore it all. Maybe she would sit with him and watch TV. Or play Age of Conan.

He hadn't seen much of her in the two weeks they had been back. He missed her. She was supposed to be his friend, but she had abandoned him when he needed a friend most. He suspected she was spending her time with Leonard, who also was never around.

He stood up and looked around. Maybe he could slip out and sneak home. It's not like anyone was anxious to speak to him anyway. He started across the ballroom. He hadn't gotten far when he heard the murmurs. He kept his head down, knowing they were discussing his fall from academic grace. He watched one foot step in front of the other.

Suddenly there was a hand on his chest. He saw two feet encased in red high heels in front of his feet. His eyes slowly swept upwards. Tanned calves. A swish of red silk and lace. A sash of red lace at the waist. Red silk covered breasts. A graceful neck. Emerald eyes. Sleek blond hair. Her smile. The one that always makes him feel better.

"Penny?" he asks softly. She slides one arm around his neck and joins her other in his. Instinct makes he draw her close and guide her into the waltz. Everything around him blurs as they sway to the music.

They move in harmony around the floor. People whisper into each other's ears. She knows he has no idea how romantic he looks. He's not the crazy physicist, or the whack-a-doodle colleague tonight. She draws closer to him and smiles. Tonight they will see a whole new Dr. Sheldon Lee Cooper Ph.D. and she will make them all regret what they have done. Penny thinks he would be proud of how she had meticulously planned for tonight. Every step carefully thought out. She had even spent the last two weeks working doubles just to afford the dress and shoes to impress his colleagues.

Step one, expose the human side of Sheldon. Show them he's not just some robot or mannequin. He is a real man hurt deeply by those he trusted. Step two, expose the lie, the damage that was done. Show them what they should have known all along. The deceit, the injustice. Step three, show him what he should have known all along. That he is not alone. Not ever.

She knows the exact moment Leonard losses it. A slight swish of the hips that brought her body closer to Sheldon's. She kept the smile from her face with effort. He was so predictable. She knew exactly what buttons to push. They were on their second circuit around the dance floor when he stormed over. He pulled at her arm, almost tripping her and Sheldon.

"What is this?!" he whined. "Why are you… you said you had to work! What's going on Penny?"

"No, Leonard. I never said I had to work. You asked me to come to the gala and I said I wouldn't be available." She sighed just loudly enough to arouse attention from the people around them. Sheldon looked at her arm in Leonard's hand worriedly. Leonard was seething. "I was unavailable because I am here with Sheldon. Please let go of my arm."

Sheldon looked at her in confusion. What did she say? He started to open his mouth but the squeeze Penny gave his arm silenced him. She was up to something…. But what?

Leonard huffed angrily. He glared at Sheldon, who seemed to only have eyes for Penny. His Penny. He claimed her first! "So what is this, Sheldon? Why is Penny here with you?"

Sheldon looked at his room-mate dispassionately. "She is here with me because she chose to be."

Leonard lost it. He sneered at Sheldon. "Is this another of your bazingas? Are you trying to get payback? What kind of friend are you? You don't even like women! You just want to get even for what happened in the Arctic! We screw up your experiment so you take Penny from me?! " His practically screamed those last words at his roommate.

The sudden silence slowly penetrated his brain. He looked around him in shock at the sea of faces. Disappointment. Anger. Distrust. Leonard felt himself shrink at the condemnation of his peers. He looked back at Sheldon and Penny. Sheldon looked surprised. Penny looked …satisfied. Immediately Leonard knew what had happened. She had played it perfectly. She had forced him to admit his sins. In public.

Penny turned back to Sheldon. She placed a hand along his jaw and turned him face her. "Let's go home, Sheldon."

The drive home was silent. He wondered if he should say anything. Penny pulled up outside their apartment and they got out. He glanced at Penny but she kept her gaze straight ahead. He wanted to thank her. He wanted to ask her why she had done it.

They entered the lobby silently and made their way upstairs. Sheldon waited for her to go into her apartment, but instead she turned to him. He watched her take a deep breath. Sheldon knew he had very little understanding of emotions. He had never really contemplated them much. Penny's face was full of emotions he could not name.

"Sheldon," Penny began softly, "there are 3 things I want you to understand. One, you have always been a very good friend to me. You loaned me money without ever wanting anything in return. You helped me make Penny Blossoms. You drove me to the doctor when I was in pain and you stayed to take care of me. You even ate two meals one night just so you didn't disappoint me about dinner." Sheldon started to open his mouth and Penny held up her hand.

"Two, most people see me in one of two ways. As the dumb blonde they want to sleep with, or the dumb blonde their man wants to sleep with. You see me differently. You treat me as a rival for pranks, a partner for Halo, a companion for laundry nights. When you get frustrated, you tell me so. You are always completely honest with me. You never back down, but you are never cruel." Penny smiled at him sweetly.

He stiffened in surprise when Penny suddenly wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tight. His arms fluttered awkwardly.

"Three, you are never alone, Sheldon. I will always be there for you and I will never betray you. You are my best friend. There is no one else outside my family who means more to me than you do, Moon Pie." He started to object but stopped. Her words sunk in and he smiled.

Sheldon hugged her back awkwardly and they stepped back from one another. "Thank you, Penny," he said softly. Penny smiled up at him. After a moment, they both nodded and unlocked their doors. Sheldon went inside and closed the door behind him.

He thought back over the last two weeks. He had not realized how alone he felt after the betrayal. But Penny had stepped up and defended him. She had set the record straight. She really was Queen Penelope. He leaned his forehead against the door and smiled. "You are my best friend, too."