He was certain that she was sleeping when he extricated himself from her bed and her good arm, her other still suspended in the sling. He was almost to the door when she stopped him, her voice husky with sleep (and something else? Was he reading too much into this?)

"Where are you going? Sneaking out of here like a one-night stand?"

He turned to look down at her, even now imperious. "I thought that you had achieved REM sleep and was going to my apartment so I could do the same."

"I wasn't sleeping. I was listening to your heartbeat." She stretched her good arm and her shirt rode high on her torso, exposing her toned abdomen and accentuating the curve of her breast. "Now come back to bed."

His eyebrow arched, although her eyes were closed and therefore she missed it. "That is not my bed."

"No, Sheldon, it's my bed and I would like you in it. Come back to bed, baby." She patted the pillow next to her with her good hand and scooted over on the mattress. Her fingers wiggled at him, making come hither signs in the dim light of the street lamp outside the window.

He was shocked at the thrill that jolted his synapses as he pondered the pet name she had called him. "I'm not your baby," he said with a slight twang.

Penny grimaced. "Sheldon, come to bed. I'm cold and lonely and I hurt. There isn't anyone over at your place to play with." But I'm here. The words were left unspoken although he heard them in his head in her voice.

"Very well," he acquiesced with a nod of his head. He sat on the side of the bed and removed his shoes and socks before swinging his long, lithe form between her multicolored sheets.

He had barely settled down on his back when her arm came around him and her leg was thrown over his. "Snuggle me," she demanded, her demeanor indicating that indeed, the Percocet that she'd been given for the pain was overriding her good sense.

Sheldon pondered her demand for a moment before he wrapped both of his arms around her. Her head was pillowed on his shoulder and the intoxicating scent of female surrounded him. It was nearly too much; he started to pull away, then talked himself out of it, rationalizing that this was Penny and not a stranger, that she would appreciate the closeness and warmth that he provided. She was correct in her assertion that nobody waited for him; they were out in the desert watching the meteor shower. He settled in next to her and fell into a light doze.

It only seemed minutes later when he woke again in another entirely different position. Somehow, while they slept, they had shifted in the night. Penny lay flat on her back with her injured arm cushioned by a pillow. Sheldon was laying on top of her, his head on her breast and her erect nipple inches from his eye. His hand had drifted down to rest just above her pubis and his thumb anchored it there, caught under the waistband of her shorts.

His first sleepy thought was that he was as close to heaven as he would ever get and this felt so right to him.

His first fully wakened thought was to leap out of the bed shrieking at the top of his lungs.

That thought was quickly followed by a flash of desire. He was a man, after all. His unintended grope had offered him a rare glimpse of her considerable attributes and undeniable beauty, two things that not even Sheldon Cooper could be immune to in the right circumstances.

If anything, the circumstances were perfect.

He withdrew his hand from its resting place on her stomach and raised it to hover above her breast—the right one, the one he had inadvertently grabbed earlier that evening.

He closed his eyes and could picture it exactly; the softness of her skin against his, the hard nubbin that prodded his palm and made his skin tingle. He had actually peeked when she turned her back for assistance with her shorts, forgetting that her shirt wasn't completely right and that there was a mirror on the back of the bathroom door. She really was perfectly proportioned. The roundness and symmetry of her breasts was accentuated by the flair of her hips and the pleasing protrusion of her buttocks. His groin tightened at the sensation of silky flesh against his knuckles when he pulled her shorts up her legs and his shoulder brushed against the curve of her hip. He had no control over his erection, although he liked to tell himself that he was the master of his body. His reaction to Penny's proximity proved him delusional.

His hand was shaking—whether it was nerves or anticipation, he could not be certain. Slowly, he let gravity take its toll and his hand descended to rest on the rounded mound on her chest that rose and fell with each breath. He stopped breathing himself as his mind blanked from the contact, her velvety skin under his thumb where her shirt dipped in the valley between her perky, perfect, beautiful breasts….

Sheldon noticed that inside his head he was waxing poetic. He shook it off mentally, hoping that he could regain his composure and keep this interaction clinical and objective like his experiments. It seemed to be a null point, however, when she sighed, her breath warm on the back of his neck and a shiver rolling in waves down his spine and directly to his penis.

He should stop. He should wake her and apologize forthwith, confessing his crime. He should…he should do many things, but at this moment, he wanted to do nothing except what he was doing, resting his head on one side and letting his hand feel the undulation of her chest as she breathed steadily in and out.

He could not move. Untrue—his thumb moved separately from his body, brushing against the soft skin of her collarbone. He dragged his thumb from the base of her throat to the rounded rise that protruded over the round neckline of her shirt. She sighed as she arched, pressing it deeper into his large palm.

Although it seemed impossible, he got even harder. He was growing uncomfortable in his constricting pants and tried to shift himself to a tolerable position. He finally ended up pressing himself into the mattress, more to keep his shameful secret hidden from Penny than to relieve the penetrating ache deep in his gut.

Honest to the Higgs Boson, he had never felt such bone-numbing desire before. He was the one who took care of the inconvenient erections that plagued him at intervals; as soon as he felt one commencing, he would care for it much as one would trim their toenails—matter-of-fact and quite clinical.

This was completely…surreal. He felt like he was the one on mind-altering drugs.

While he thought, his hand seemed to have taken on a mind of its own. His fingers had curled around the side of her breast and cupped her firmly in his hand, his thumb brushing over the sensitive peak beneath the cotton blouse she still wore.

Even after he realized what he was doing, he did not stop. He let himself feel the tingling warmth that flickered over his skin and into his head, sparking all types of erotic imaginings that had never even crossed his mind prior to her intrusion into his life…

"Sheldon, not that I'm complaining or anything because it really, really feels good, but why are you playing with my nipple?"

Her sleepy voice broke through his dazed explorations and he snatched his hand back as if it was on fire. "My apologies, Penny—I woke with myself in this position and was fearful of waking you had I tried to move." He stilled, waited for his face to twitch. Nothing.

Bolder, he looked up into her glazed eyes. "You may be dreaming during your REM sleep, has that crossed your drug-addled brain? I'm not really doing this, you're dreaming this."

She smiled and he noticed that her lips were slightly asymmetrical, the left side slightly fuller and more pronounced than the right. This bore further investigation; he propped himself up on his elbow and leaned closer to her face, his eyes trained on her mouth. The only light in the room filtered through a crack in the curtain from a streetlight and Sheldon was having difficulty with the mathematical proportions of said lip when it disappeared from view.

Only to be pressed against his mouth. Hard.

She had leaned up when he wasn't looking and pushed their mouths together, misjudging the distance by a fraction. He felt her fist twist into the collar of his green tee shirt and she fell back against the pillows, pulling him with her and partially on top of her.

Her eyes opened wide when she felt his erection against the side of her leg. "That is—is that your…?" she mumbled.

"Yes, Penny. I must express how profusely sorry I am…"

"Oh, Lord, Sheldon, I'm not." She dragged her other leg up the calf between her legs, her knee coming up to hook over his hip and keep him in place. "Don't be sorry for something like that."

She locked her elbow around his neck, pulled him down to her, and licked a strip of flesh from his neck to the underside of his chin, then around the sharp angle of his jaw. "Sheldon, can you—can we finish this? You know, the usual way?"

"Coitus?" He hated how high and effeminate he sounded just then and consciously lowered his register. "Penny, you are drugged and non-compos mentis at this time and unable to make a decision of this import…"

"Bullshit, Sheldon. I have been more fucked up and less aware and able to decide that I wanted coitus."

She released his collar, dragged her fingers down his chest, over his abdomen, and pressed her palm between her leg and the amazing erection that he was trying to hide. She cupped him through his pants and he buried his head in her satiny throat, jerking against her hand when she whispered into his ear, her breath hot against the lobe. "You don't want to feel this? My hand on you, my mouth on you, touching you and bringing you to the top? I am good, Sheldon. I'm really good. You'll never forget it."

"I...couldn't if I wanted to, Penny."

He felt short puffs of air against his neck and he knew that she was giggling, though not unkindly. "I know. Idiotic memory." She dragged her hand out from between them and back up to his face, tugging on his other earlobe. "But you'll want to remember this."

He pulled back to look her in the eyes. They were gray in the dim light, but he could see them sparkling even in the dimness of the room and a feeling of rightness and certainty coursed through his bloodstream. "Yes, Penny," he finally breathed.

"Yes what, Sheldon?"

"Yes, I will—we can—that is to say…"

"You know, usually if you can't say it you're not ready, but what the hell." She flapped her right arm, stuck in the sling. "Pull this thing off of me."

"The doctor said…"

"Yeah, don't use it. Unless you're into bondage and kink, I think you need to get it off of me and I promise I won't use it."

He pulled the support strap through the buckle and dragged it off her elbow, throwing it off the side of the bed. True to her word, she propped it up on the pillow beside her and directed him with her left hand.

"Help me get my clothes off." He did so, taking extra care with her shoulder and arm. Her shirt joined her sling, and then soon afterward her shorts were barely stuck on the edge of the comforter and sliding down slowly while Sheldon took his first look at the stunning beauty that was his neighbor.

She smiled up at him, her fingers trailing up her stomach to rest on the inner slope of her breast. "I know you've already seen me naked since you peeked, but it wasn't a good long look. What do you think?"

"I believe that Helen of Troy would be jealous of your beauty."

His hand came up and caressed her from hip to breast, lingering in the indentations of her stomach and navel. "We truly are fearfully and wonderfully made," he murmured as he watched her face.

Her mouth opened in a small gasp as he raked his palm over the tip of her nipple. "Did you just quote—?"

"Yes," he interrupted, not wanting to bring anything else between them that could dampen the feelings that pulsed through him. "Penny, I want to—"

"Sheldon, tonight my body is yours. Do with it what you will. As long as I get mine, we're good," she said with humor in her voice.

He watched her face for a millisecond, and then took her words at face value.

His dexterous fingers explored her skin, hypersensitive ears noting what made her gasp, moan, and groan. He mapped her nerve endings with his lips and tongue until she writhed on the bed, begging him to end her torment and make her come.

Still he hesitated. He had never taken this final step, never breached the unknown quite like this. This was more confounding than leptons and bosons, more maddening than his equations, an enigma that he had yet to explore, but he held himself back. If he were to have one night to fulfill an imaginary agenda, tonight was it; he wanted it to last as long as possible.

He kissed down her body to the shadowy cleft between her legs. He couldn't see her, but he caught her scent as it drifted into his nostrils. He didn't think that anything so unsanitary (in his view) could smell so…delicious, for lack of a better word. Even without finishing her interrupted shower, she was sweet and fresh, not pungent as he expected.

He dipped his head and extended his tongue to touch the glistening skin of her thighs and found it to be simply delectable.

He rushed to bury his entire face in the vector of her legs. His chin bumped against her pubic bone and she let out a yelp. "Easy, Sheldon. I'm not going anywhere."

She leaned up and looked down her body at his surprised eyes. "What made you decide to just dive in, anyway?"

"I never thought that you would smell so good. Or taste good either."

She chuckled as she dropped her head back to the pillow. "I'll take that as a compliment. Do carry on, then. It's about to get interesting."

He extended his tongue and lapped at the soft skin in the crease of her thigh. "It has all been quite informative already, Penny."

Her hand (her left, he noted) came down and curled into the hair at his crown. "Oh, honey, you ain't seen nothing yet."

He licked haphazardly, still paying close attention to her reactions. He felt a knot of slippery flesh under his tongue and pressed against it, pleased when her eyes flew open and she couldn't stifle the noise she made.

It was very satisfying. Very satisfying. Therefore, he did it again.

He experimented with different approaches. Licking produced markedly different but equally enticing results than flicking, and suckling the nub forced a whimper from her throat that nearly made him ejaculate in his pants.

He closed his eyes and lost himself in her taste, the flavor of Penny until he felt the tug of her hand in his hair. He raised his head and dragged the back of his hand across his face.

"Bring me that beautiful mouth, Sheldon. Oh, and lose the pants."

He stood at the bedside and stripped off, pretending to fold his clothes but merely wadding them up and tossing them on the floor. His penis jutted out from his body, slapping his stomach as he crawled onto the bed and up between her legs to hover above her.

"Do you have protection?" he asked, suddenly shy.

She reached into her bedside drawer and pulled a condom out. She handed the package to Sheldon, who just looked at it, before grabbing it back and tearing the foil pouch open with her teeth. Even though it was hard to do one-handed, she put the condom on the tip of his penis with her left hand.

"hold the tip," she muttered. He did as she asked and she rolled it down onto his erection then leaned back, pulling him closer as she moved.

She fumbled with her left hand for a second, and then he felt her right hand snaking between them. "I'm only using it for this," she said at his concerned look.

Then he forgot completely as her hand wrapped around him, brushed his glans against the generous lubrication that pooled at her entrance, then she flexed her legs behind his hips and he slipped inside her effortlessly.

Her lips parted on a deeply drawn breath as she closed her eyes. "Just—be still for a minute, Sheldon. You're a little bigger than I'm used to."

He stilled, pressing his forehead against her shoulder as he felt her breathing ease beneath him. She cupped his jaw with her hand and brought his face up so they were eye to eye, looking deeply at one another.

"Keep your eyes open. Okay?"

He nodded. She flexed inner muscles, rippling them along his length. He fit inside her perfectly, her body sheathing him completely. He moved slightly and felt her body grasping and pulling at his, more effectively than a hand ever could.

How could he have ignored this wonder for this long?

His initial thrusts were shallow, to make it last. His body wanted to drive relentlessly into hers but he held his impulses at bay. He kept his eyes trained on hers but his hands were busy elsewhere, touching her everywhere he could reach. She moaned with each incursion into her willing, waiting flesh and he relished every sound she made.

Her hips rose to meet him, thrusting in counterpoint. He couldn't concentrate because of her clenching muscles, her hand gripping his buttock and pulling him deeper inside her, harder and faster until he was sure that he would drive her deep into the mattress.

With a grunt, she locked her legs around his and did something with her arm to toss him over onto his back without losing him or the rhythm of the dance.

Her back bowed, thrusting her breasts into the air and his hands covered them completely, holding her in place on his body. As she grunted with each push inside her, he twisted her nipples between his long fingers, drawing them up and out and away from her body as she moved.

He could feel the explosion building, his testicles drawing closer to his body as they coiled, tense and tight in his sack. Sheer compulsion made him sit up and wrap an arm around her waist, pulling her down harder as he drove into her faster. His other arm cupped her shoulder, bringing her neck close to him so he could suckle at her swollen mouth, swirling his tongue around hers.

She tore her mouth away from his and threw her head back. "God, don't stop, Sheldon. Don't stop. Just…like…that…"

Her eyes were open wide and staring directly into his. "Fuck, Sheldon, now…now…NOW!"

Her last word was a shout on her lips as she clenched harder around him then he felt a fluttering that caressed the glans of his penis and seemed to ripple outward, forcing every muscle in her body into a rictus of pained pleasure. Her teeth worried her lip as she jerked uncontrollably and he was watching her when his orgasm ricocheted from his penis to his brain and back.

He was floating in the middle of the universe, the center of which was Penny. Penny, her scent wrapped around him, her body engulfing him, her soft touches and softer words coaxing him higher until he lost all sense of space and time.

When he came to himself, he was lying on his back, still inside Penny. She continued to throb and flutter as he tried to catch his breath but he was too sensitive to tolerate it and eased her body off him, pulling her close to his side and drawing her head to his shoulder. Her hand grasped the base of the condom and pulled it off his spent erection, tied it off, and tossed it in the trash.

"Your shoulder?" he asked breathlessly.

"Ok. I promised I wouldn't use my arm."

They lay there quietly, eyes on the ceiling, the walls, anywhere but on each other. Penny finally couldn't take any more and sat up, turning to Sheldon. "We aren't going to let this get weird, Sheldon."

"How can we avoid that conundrum? It is already quite uncomfortable."

"No it isn't. I had a great time, didn't you?"

He dipped his head. "I did."

"It was…my way of thanking you. For all you did for me tonight."

He frowned. "Penny, I don't believe that it is acceptable in any way for you to use your body as barter."

She leaned back, stunned. "Sheldon, I'm not. I'm not! Don't make this dirty and sordid."

"Very well. What would you call it then?"

"Well, remember our talk about friends with benefits? Just…consider this the benefits."

He pursed his lips and thought for a moment. "Hmm." His face relaxed into a smile. "It was a very, very nice benefit, Penny."

She snuggled back down into her pillow and said, "I think that I need my pain medication, Sheldon. Can you hand me the bottle?"

He picked up the bottle and carefully shook out two pills. He handed them to her, then cupped her under her opposite arm and propped her up so she could drink without choking. Her eyes widened in wonder at the tenderness he was showing as he cared for her and she found herself wondering if Captain Crazy could actually get involved with someone else.

She closed her eyes and he settled her back on her pillows, taking care to prop her injured arm well. "Will it be necessary for me to sing 'Soft Kitty' in rounds again, or will the normal method suffice."

"Oh, Sheldon, you darling thing." Her hand reached up to linger on his cheek, close enough to his mouth that he could move it slightly to press his lips to her palm—so he did. She giggled, thinking how fast those pain pills were kicking her ass because this was sure unreal.

And because the afterglow lingered in his bones, because he was lax with satisfaction, he pulled her against his chest with her arm caught between them, her hand on his chest underneath her cheek. His long arm cuddled her close, cupping her buttock to pull her flush with his nudity. "Go to sleep, Penny."

"Sing 'Soft Kitty'?"

His soothing baritone rumbled under her ear, lulling her into her dreams.