She still didn't know how it fell to her to take a very drunk, very talkative Sheldon home from the party. She must have drawn the short straw, although she really didn't know for certain when they drew them. She just looked around and realized that everyone had absented themselves from the table. Howard and Raj were across the room, chatting up some grad students that just happened to garner invitations to the prestigious event. Leonard was God-knew-where doing God-knew-who-or-what and she really couldn't give two shits in a Fendi handbag. Sheldon, though, was slouched on the tabletop, his chin resting in his hand while the other hand continued to gesture.
He was the only drunk that she knew that could continue to lecture with his eyes closed.
She gathered her purse and her wits, then took Sheldon's arm and pulled him to his feet. "Come on, Mr. Science Guy, time to go home."
"I do hope that you are not planning on operating your motor vehicle, Penny, because you have consumed a considerable amount of alcohol tonight."
"So have you, Shelly-bean. I've got a cab on its way already. We need to be out front before it gets here."
She tugged his arm impatiently (and pretty ineffectively, if she were to tell the truth) and he obliged her unspoken command, following first to the lobby of the hotel, then outside to the waiting taxi. She settled him in the back and climbed in behind him, told the driver the address, and settled into the seat, smiling ironically as Sheldon slipped over and fell onto her shoulder.
He was still muttering under his breath, damn it. Some sort of crap about the Large Hadron Collider. "Sheldon, sweetie, give it a rest. I don't even know if you know what you're talking about anymore."
"I believe that you are correct, Penny. I think that perhaps I will sleep on the way to our respective dwellings."
Within a few seconds, he was out like a light and she was dreading getting him up the stairs.
It really didn't take long for them to get to the building on Los Robles. They pulled up in front of the apartments and Penny shook Sheldon's shoulder. "Sheldon, wake up, sweetie. We have to walk upstairs, remember?"
He groaned and opened one eye. "Can I sleep in the lobby tonight?"
"No, sweetie. The super will have you arrested for vagrancy. Just get out of the cab and I'll help you upstairs."
She snagged his wallet as he climbed over her on shaky legs to stand on the sidewalk and she paid the driver for the fare before climbing out of the cab herself.
Sheldon had stumbled his way across the sidewalk and was over by the door, leaning against the wall of the building with his face pressed against the dirty concrete wall. She grinned at the glazed look in his eye as she reached for his hand, pulling him inside the front door. "Come on, lush, let's get you into bed."
Sheldon let out a high-pitched burble of laughter and she paused on the first landing to look at him. "What's so funny?"
"You said you had to get me in bed. Never thought that I would hear that from you."
Oh, you crazy, blind, pain in the ass—you have no idea. "Yeah, that's a hoot, Sheldon. More stairs, come on."
He stumbled, he tripped, he fell against her more times than she could count on their trip up the stairs. She was forced to wrap her arms around him to keep him upright, no mean feat for as drunk as he was. She didn't know how much he drank; she was off with Leonard schmoozing the old men and with Raj, schmoozing the old women for him (she faked translating Farsi—he would pretend to whisper in her ear and she would give very carefully rehearsed speeches about astrophysics and physics and monopoles). She touched him more on that trip up the stairs than she had in the last four years of their friendship (mentally, she discounted one hug and subtracted one night that never happened).
Three flights later, they were standing in front of 4A and she leaned Sheldon against the wall for a moment while she dug in his pants pocket for his keys. He giggled a few times, then stopped suddenly and stared down at her with a strange, unreadable look in his eyes as she shuffled her hand to one side, trapping the keys in her palm. She extricated them from his pocket and opened the door, turning on the lights before she let him stumble ahead of her.
He didn't pause at the living room but went directly to his room. He opened the door and fell across his bed, his head and feet facing the wrong direction.
"Come on, Sheldon, you can't sleep that way. We need to get your suit jacket off, at least."
"I cannot sleep without my pajamas, Penny," he mumbled into the quilt on the bed.
"Roll over, Moonpie, I'll help you." She tugged on his arm again and he was pliable to her touch, rolling easily to his back. Kneeling at his feet, she untied his shoes first and pulled them off, setting them to one side of the bed. She removed his socks and tossed them in the basket labeled 'socks', then raised up on her knees to undo his belt and unzip his trousers. She ignored his mumbled admonishment as she usually did, pulling his shirt out of his pants.
She couldn't get them off without having him stand, so she stood up and pulled his hands to raise his body to a sitting position. His suit jacket was draped over the end of the bed awaiting hanging and his tie, dress shirt, and Flash tee shirt followed the socks into their respective baskets (shirts and tees—yes, he had them labeled as such. She rolled her eyes.).
She opened the bottom drawer of the dresser and found a pair of pajamas and a white undershirt that said "Saturday" on the tag. She was pulling the undershirt on him when he grabbed her wrist, blinded by the tee. "Penny, I haven't showered yet."
His head popped through the neck of the shirt and she stifled a giggle at his mussed hair and wide eyes. He looked a little crazed and a lot drunker than he had earlier; he must have imbibed just before they left the dinner, she thought. Aloud, she said, "Sheldon, you're just going to have to go without a shower tonight. I don't think that I can handle that little task."
"But I was out in public—I have to shower lest I contaminate the sheets."
"Sheldon, didn't you defer laundry night because of the university dinner?"
"Yes, I did, Penny. I can wash my sheets tonight. I will let you get me in bed."
"Put you to bed, Sheldon."
He stood and let his pants drop to his ankles. She pulled his pajama top on and was staring at his chest, buttoning it down the front, when she felt his breath on top of her head. "I think about that thing that didn't happen."
She toppled backward on her heels and he grabbed her around the waist to keep her from falling over. His arm pulled her up and back on her feet, but also dragged her against his chest. Her eyes widened when she felt his partial erection pressing against her stomach.
"What thing, Sheldon?"
"That thing that you told me never happened. I can't forget anything, Penny, you know that. It was not a dream. I tried to think of it as a product of normal REM sleep, but I was unable to do so."
She pushed against his chest, but he wasn't about to let her go. "The dream. Sheldon, what dream?"
"When you…manually stimulated me in the laundry room. You told me that it never happened, that it was only a dream."
Penny finally forced her way out of his unintended embrace and stared at him with wide eyes. "Sheldon, we agreed that it was only a dream. Remember?"
"I think about it frequently, Penny. I…I enjoy thinking about it."
She paused for a moment, weighing the consequences. There were too many. Too many to count. There were friendships in the balance, lives that might change, things that were best left unsaid being said and that would not benefit any of them—her, Sheldon, Leonard. Amy.
But she remembered too. The length, the heat, the iron feel of him in her hand. He had chewed a bruise onto her neck that she had to hide for nearly two whole weeks—but in that time, every time she touched it, whether accidentally or on purpose, it made her wet. Dripping wet. Sometimes, if she rubbed it, she came very close to orgasm. Her fucking shoulder and for that two weeks, she found herself rubbing her neck and building herself to a nice, slow burn that she would release in the shower after work. They were some of the most explosive climaxes she had ever experienced and she thought about that night and the possibility of other nights every once and a while.
What would happen if she did? If they did? Sheldon couldn't keep a secret. She couldn't make this kind of life-altering decision in a split second, could she? There were so many variables….
Sheldon kicked his pants aside and reached…for his pajama bottoms. She held onto them, disappointed that he wasn't reaching for her. He tugged, she hugged them against her stomach, and he jerked her off balance in her high heels. She fell against him and knocked them both backwards onto the bed, where she landed on top of him. Pressing against something very firm and very low on her body.
She was practically nose-to-nose with him. He looked up at her calmly, almost smugly, and said, "I'm drunk and you are the one who cannot keep their balance."
"I didn't—you—Sheldon, not funny. Let me up." She pushed at his arms that imprisoned her and kept her pelvis pressed against him.
"Penny." He used her weight against her and rolled over on top of her, pinning her to the bed. Her arms were beside her head and his body landed between her legs, his hips pressing her against the edge of the mattress. His toes dug into the carpet next to the bed and pushed against her, rubbing his covered erection against the cleft between her legs.
She was regretting her choice of attire. She was wearing her favorite little black dress, soft jersey that draped her curves and hugged her right shoulder, leaving her left shoulder bare. It draped low in the back and flared wide, allowing plenty of fabric for draping and swaying. She had paired it with impossibly tall heels that had already been her downfall tonight (mainly because it had pissed Leonard off from the beginning—he hated it when she was taller than he was. He claimed it made him feel like he was dating his mommy. Fuck.). Now the jersey was plastered to her body and she could feel every move he made, every push against her.
His hands came up to cup her shoulders, his long fingers curling over and around the strap and moving it aside. She held her breath as he nuzzled his nose against her skin, smelling her scent and sighing in contentment. "Penny, why do I have to be intoxicated to tell you how beautiful you really are?"
"Penny, be quiet." His breath warmed her skin and she started again to protest. His index finger brushed against her lips and she stopped cold, pressing her lips together and against the pad of his finger.
He noticed with an unoccupied corner of his mind, filed it away. He breathed her in deep, filling his nose and his brain. "Penny, I…I find myself wondering what your motivations were that evening in the laundry room. What would make you choose to perform such an act upon my person and return to your domicile without proper compensation of your own? I find that I am at a loss due to my inability to understand the sexual drives of people in general, you in particular. Was I unacceptable as a sexual partner for reciprocation?"
"Sheldon, I told you—sex would make your head explode. Maybe mine too."
He pulled back to look deep into her eyes. "Do you really think that the memory of your hand cupping and caressing me does not cross my mind? My head has not exploded yet."
She tried to formulate a response in her mind and he interrupted her train of thought with another statement. "You asked me if I contemplated a physical relationship with Amy Farrah Fowler. Did you not?"
She looked up at him with a serious expression, remembering their interaction from a few nights ago. "I did."
"You never asked me if there was anyone else that I would consider having a physical relationship with."
This confused her. "Sheldon, what are you saying? Is there someone else that you've been seeing?"
"Penny, why do you pretend that you are of a diminished intelligence? Can you not feel the effect of your proximity pressing against you right now? I could not tell you of this in front of Leonard because of his reaction to the truth, but if I were to be honest, you would be my first choice for sexual partner."
"Sheldon!" She struggled against him for a moment and he caught her hand and pressed it against his chest. She could feel his heart pounding through his pajamas, the thump echoing her own as she tried to reconcile what he was telling her. "Sheldon, that…incident happened years ago. If that's the truth, then why…?"
"Penny, you have been involved with Leonard in one capacity or another for some time now. Would you have changed your relationship paradigm with Leonard had I confessed my attraction to you?"
"I see." His hand came up to cup her cheek, his long fingers curling into her hair. His eyes searched hers before he bent his head to kiss her slow and deep, his tongue exploring her mouth and his finesse belying his experience as she knew it.
She was panting and breathless by the time he released her and he was fully hard against her cleft, his hips pressing against her rhythmically without his conscious control. He blushed when he realized it and stopped himself from doing it, pulling away slightly. His other hand, the one that wasn't entangled in her hair and holding her head still as he plundered her mouth, was firmly gripping the muscle he had effectively claimed as his own. It throbbed under his touch and Penny realized that her vagina and clit were throbbing in time and her panties were drenched as well. Interesting outcome to a kiss, she thought.
Still, she looked up at him and chewed her lip just a little. "Sheldon, you know that I'm not a cheater. I won't do that to anyone, not even Leonard." Even though he's not that considerate, she thought.
"I am aware, Penny. I would not ask that you change anything, nor will I."
"You're going to continue to see Amy?"
He climbed off her with as much aplomb as he could muster in his inebriated state. Gathering his dignity, he climbed into his pajama pants, pulled them over his flagging erection, and finally extended his hand to assist Penny to her feet. "Was there a question concerning my relationship paradigm?"
She stared at him, open-mouthed and wide-eyed. "Sheldon, I thought—you—we—I—"
He looked down at her tenderly, despite his alcohol-addled mind. "Penny, I can express this to you because I am drunk and only because I am drunk. In vino veritas. Leonard is a piss-ant that makes my life miserable and keeps me from many things that should have already been mine, notably the Nobel and you. It would be a far better world if he were eliminated, but until I can blow him up with my brain I will just have to learn to exist and wait. I can wait for you, Penny. I will wait."
She waited for the tears to come but they didn't; she knew that what he said had a grain of truth to it, that he would wait until the sun went supernova before he gave up on her. They were meant to be, she was as sure of it as he was, and Leonard and Amy and the thousands of things in between wouldn't keep them apart.
She reached out and brushed her thumb over the fullness of his bottom lip. He touched the tip of his tongue to the pad of her thumb and turned her knees to jelly and she had to grab his arm to steady herself. "I promise you, baby, it won't be very long."
Thank God for his super sensitive ears. He pulled away from her and jumped into bed, motioning for her to tidy her clothing while he covered himself with the blanket. As she hung up the suit jacket and straightened out the shoes and pants, Leonard appeared in the doorway to Sheldon's room. "Stuck with Sheldon, huh?"
"He was no trouble—just a little drunk. Soon as I got him in his jammies he was an angel."
"You undressed him?" Jesus, even now, he was a jealous little toad. Almost a year and a half together and he was still an asshole.
"Just the top—he couldn't manage the tie. He fussed a little over a shower, but he couldn't even stand up, much less manage that." She closed the closet door and shut off the light. Mollified, Leonard turned to head to his own room to change clothes; she paused to feed the luminescent fish his special food and looked out the window next to the bed.
"Yeah, I have the feeling that it won't be very long at all, baby."
"Me either, Penny."
She barely heard his whispered reply, but she did. She looked down at his peaceful face as he lay on his back, tucked in all the way around like a vampire in a coffin. "Good night, sweetie. I hope that your night was a success and full of funding."
She listened carefully for a moment and heard Leonard still banging around in his room. Silently, she bent over Sheldon and kissed his forehead as lightly as she dared.
With one last look at her future, she left the room smiling.