A One Shot. Update: I have another Big Bang Theory story I've started. You may or may not consider this a prelude to that one, but I decided I ought not add more on this particular one since I started that one. But hopefully that one will quench your thirst for more. I'm a slow updater, but I do update!

To those awaiting updates on my other stories, you know the drill. Patience. I shall update, I always do eventually! I just have The Big Bang Theory stuck in my head a bit and need it to come out.

Review please? :)

"You can't help it." The handsome faced man walking Penny home, assured her. "You didn't go to college. You're uneducated, it's not your fault."

Penny glared hatefully at Nathan. Of all the guys she could have gone out with tonight, she'd picked a loser. The jerk insulted her throughout the whole date.

He was smarter than the average guy she dated, but that didn't make him an Einstein or anything.

It really was her neighbors' faults. If her genius friends and all their brainy talk hadn't rubbed off on her, she wouldn't have thought twice about dating a guy who didn't know a laser beam wouldn't blow up the moon. But she did think twice. Thus, she ended up with Nathan.

Nathan was a college graduate. He was working in some big company doing important CEO type stuff. And all he could do was brag about it.

After two hours of listening to him ramble on about how important his job was, Penny was more than ready for this date to end. And to never, ever go on another date with Nathan again.

When she met him through a friend at work, she thought he was not only attractive, but smart. Something she also found attractive these days. She'd made the fatal mistake of not actually trying to have a real conversation with him until they were out on this date.

If she had, she would have known to avoid the guy all together.

"You know what?" Penny stopped before the stairs, and turned her angry look on the red haired man who matched her height. "I really don't need you to walk me up. I think it's time to say good night right here."

Nathan tilted his head at her. "You're upset that I've insulted your intelligence. You shouldn't be. I mean, you're a blond waitress who is a wannabe actress. We can't expect too much from you in that department. But believe me, what you lack in brains, you more than make up for in everything else." His eyes trailed lewdly over her lavender dress.

Penny's anger flared. She drew her fist back and aimed it at his face. As she threw it toward him, he ducked and grabbed her fist with a chuckle.

"Common move. An easily avoidable attack in any defensive martial arts training book." He let go of her fist. As big of a jerk as he was, he didn't hit women. "Look, if you don't want to give up what little you have to offer, how do you expect to find yourself in a stable relationship? I could really help you better yourself."

Strike that, thought Penny. He wasn't as smart as she first thought. He seemed to honestly believe his opinion was fact and the only one that mattered. His complete lack of manners, his rudeness, and his ego could easily have rivaled that of Dr. Sheldon Lee Cooper!

Speaking of.

It was at this point that Sheldon came up out of the laundry room. Saturday night was laundry night. His laundry basket was tucked under an arm and he wore his typical ensemble. A red superhero t-shirt over a long sleeved gray shirt and plaid pants.

He went unnoticed by the two squabbling in front of the stairs. They were blocking the way back to his apartment. He'd heard raised voices and wanted no part of it, but did want to get back to his apartment.

He sighed and stood in place, not wanting to approach the pair for fear of getting dragged into the middle of anything emotional.

He waited impatiently, hoping they would hurry this up so he could get back to watching Star Trek on blu-ray.

Penny couldn't stop glaring at Nathan. "Just what do you mean by that?" She wished she had her bat.

"When I date a girl I'm attracted to, she's gotta have something valuable to offer up."

Sheldon was listening, but uninterested. His mind traveled to how he might work out a multi-worlds formula that would help solve a problem in his work.

"I have plenty to offer! I'm just not offering it to you." Penny defended. She was giving the dirtiest of looks to Nathan, who, in turn, was looking back at her with annoyance.

"You don't wanna get busy upstairs, you don't have enough brains to understand the most basic concepts about business management, and you don't even have a decent job. You're going nowhere in life. You really don't have a thing to offer me." Nathan was a complete ass.

Penny normally didn't let people get to her. But after two hours of being put down by this guy and told how wonderful he was, and being unable to hit him, she felt her eyes water over. Her lower lip stuck out and trembled slightly.

"I have stuff! I'm a really good cook!"

"Actually, Penny, your cooking is mediocre at best." Sheldon piped up helpfully.

She looked up, surprised to see him there. "Thanks a lot, Sheldon." She wiped her eyes to keep them from spilling over.

"Your welcome, Penny." Naturally, he missed her sarcasm completely.

Nathan smirked at Sheldon's contribution, then turned back to Penny. "You're not going to win any guy over with that attitude, is all I'm saying. An offer to come up to your place would at least be something."

Sheldon's eyes had been glazed over in thought. He finally fixed them on the couple before him. He saw Penny wipe her eyes. Tears? He didn't understand why she was upset, but he had been around Penny long enough to recognize that she was most definitely unhappy.

What would be the fastest way to end this and be on his way back to Star Trek?

"Why are you being so mean? Just because I don't have a college degree, doesn't mean I'm an idiot, you know! And I have a lot more to offer than just sex!" Which this guy didn't have a chance in hell of getting out of her anyway.

Nathan looked ready to laugh again. "Right. That's why you asked me what the difference between a financial analyst and a financial advisor was. And you've got one thing to offer, you're just not willing to offer it."

Sheldon saw Penny teetering between rage and pain. This could go on for a long time if he didn't step in. He would have preferred to avoid it, but they were leaving him little choice. He had to be in bed at a decent hour, and refused to give up his Star Trek time.

He set his laundry basket down and approached the two.

He stepped up with his hands behind his back. He slid between Penny and Nathan, facing the horny male. Sheldon effortlessly towered over Nathan. "Now, that certainly isn't a reasonable, logical, nor fair assessment of Penny's abilities at all." He defended his friend. Not only because it would save him time, but because she was unable to fully defend herself on this level. When it came to brute force, he voted for her, hands down, but when it came to the meeting of minds, that was another matter all together. Not that Nathan stood a chance of meeting Sheldon's mind.

Nathan stared up at him, trying not to look intimidated by the taller man. "Oh? Do tell."

"Well, for one thing," Sheldon began. "She hasn't had any business training, nor judging the state of her own finances, is she a capable analyst or advisor of financial matters. Neither has she ever had the funds to acquire either, and she certainly has no need of such at this time. By your logic, anyone of any stature, who is incapable of understanding the mechanics behind certain areas of your work, is stupid. But, for instance, if I asked you to explain the theory behind Schrodinger's Cat, what would you say?"

Nathan blinked. Pretty blonds didn't hang out with smart guys. It just didn't happen in Nathan's world. The only way he got the pretty ones was because he was nice to look at and had money. He knew anyone in this apartment building would not be wealthy. This tall fellow lacked the jock quality of Nathan's handsome features and didn't appear to be anyone a girl like Penny would be associated with, and vice versa. Or so he thought. So why was this guy even bothering to defend her? "Uh...Shro-What?"

Penny reached around Sheldon and smacked Nathan's shoulder, hard. "Schrodinger. About a cat in a box and whether or not it's dead or alive, and you can't know until you open the box, so it can be considered both dead and alive until you do open the box."

Sheldon turned and smiled proudly at her. "Very good, Penny!" Even the condescension didn't matter just now. His compliment was sincere and Penny gave a weak smile at it. Sheldon turned his attention back to Nathan who was rubbing his shoulder.

"There, you see? Even Penny understands something you do not. She is capable of great change and learning with the proper teacher. Which clearly isn't you. As for what she has to offer, you are very short-sighted and weighed down by the typical hormonal weaknesses that plague most, I see. Penny mentioned she had a date tonight with a 'smart' guy. I fail to see where she obtained this alleged information concerning your intelligence. Perhaps you could come by the university and talk some basic quantum theory with me?"

'Uh..." Nathan squirmed uncomfortably. He wasn't used to people smarter than him, hovering over him, and questioning him like this. Why would a guy like that hang around a ditzy blond anyway?

"You're under the false assumption that her attractive physical body and highly sexual nature is the only thing she has to offer. And while she isn't very reserved about with whom she shares her sexual encounters-"

"Sheldon!" Penny glared.

Sheldon ignored the glare and continued on in his factual manner. "In particular when she is in an inebriated state, she is also in possession of many acceptable qualities that are suitable for a good majority of social situations and relationships. She excels at friendship, loyalty, bravery, resourcefulness, compassion, athletics, current topics, memorization, and I defy you to go up against her on any multi-player video game. She will obliterate you. Her companionship can be exhausting at times, but for the most part I find her to be a useful, productive friend and member of my social group."

Penny's mouth was hanging open as she stared at the back of Sheldon's head. He was actually...Defending her. And he wasn't done.

Nathan looked like he was about to speak up again, but Sheldon cut him off before he could say a word.

"The lady said no. Take the hint, and leave. She is no longer in need of your company, and frankly, the two of you are interrupting a zestfully exciting Star Trek marathon." He stared Nathan down a moment longer, then turned and stepped from between the two. He walked over to pick up his laundry basket. He plucked it off the floor.

Nathan frowned, watching Sheldon and then turned to Penny who smirked at him.

He shrugged. "Whatever. Your friends are as big a waste of my time as you are." He turned to head out the door. Penny kicked him, quite literally, in the ass as he did so.

"Hey!" He skidded forward a step, grabbed at his backside and glared back at her. Over her shoulder he could see Sheldon looking at him with an intense and challenging look as if just daring him to say something more to Penny. Nathan decided it wasn't worth the hassle. He could always head out to a bar and pick up an actual mindless chick who would happily hop into the sack with him. He pushed the apartment building door open and left.

Penny was shocked that Sheldon, of all people, had defended her. Not only that, he'd said some nice things about her in between the typical insults.

Sheldon tucked his laundry basket under an arm and stepped over to the stairs, gesturing for Penny to head on up. He was relieved the stairway was clear. The sooner he could get back to the joys of Spock, Kirk, and the rest of the crew, the better.

Penny stepped up beside Sheldon. She looked at him hesitantly. She knew his aversion to physical contact, but it was just part of her nature. She leaned in before he could panic or back away, and quickly kissed his cheek. She stepped back just as quickly. "Thank you, Sheldon."

She was smiling softly at him. He stared at her. She could sense a lecture about her germs and rather than wait for that, and the inevitable rush he would make to grab some sanitizer, she decided to hurry along. She turned with a bounce in her step as she went happily up the stairs.

Sheldon stared after her. The cool, wet feeling on his cheek made the rest of his face feel too hot. Penny knew better than to place something as infested with bacteria as her mouth on him!

He would have to scrub his cheek as soon as he got back up to the apartment. He remembered the emergency sanitizing liquid he kept in a pocket.

For reasons that mystified him, he didn't feel like reaching for it.

Her kissing his cheek was a definite strike one. But she lacked a decent attention span, particularly when it came to his rules. He guessed it wasn't entirely her fault.

Sometimes her actions were completely in opposition to Sheldon's liking. But compromises had to be made. She did drive him places, and sing Soft Kitty for him, after all.

"Exposing me to germs like that..." He shook his head as he started up the stairs. "I suppose that is the burden I must bear by being her friend."