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27 August 2009 @ 11:04 pm
The Starlite Ball Experiment [TBBT; Sheldon/Penny]  
TITLE: The Starlite Ball Experiment
CHAPTER 5: The Foundation Construction
FANDOM: The Big Bang Theory
PAIRING: Sheldon/Penny
SPOILERS: Season two
RATING: PG
SUMMARY: Slowly, he raised his eyes to hers and searched them back and forth. Penny shivered once more, though this time she wasn't so sure it was from the breeze.


*****

Guitar music flowed through the open back doors of the university's conference-room-turned-dance-floor, the soft voice of Dawn Landes (something Penny vaguely recognized, about "you've had a hard time living with a hard heart") infiltrating the silence of the night. Having never been out behind this or any other section of the university, she took a moment to survey her surroundings.

A cool breeze swept over her and she shivered, crossing her arms over herself, rubbing her hands up and down the bare skin to generate warmth. Soon, she spotted him, sitting alone on a bench, hands curled over the edge of the seat, eyes watching his feet kicking errant stones into what was clearly a man-made, decorative, pond.

"Sheldon?" She moved toward him slowly, noting the agitation that suddenly riddled his posture.

His gaze snapped to hers and then averted just as quickly, and she had taken a seat beside him by the end of the first chorus. Quietly, she asked, "Where did you go?"

He blinked. "Well... here. Otherwise, would you have been able to ask that question?"

Penny sighed. Same old Sheldon. Even when he wasn't being the same old Sheldon. "What are you doing out here? I was worried about you."

"You were?" He seemed genuinely surprised.

"Well... yeah! We were dancing, having a nice time - or so I thought, anyway - and then you bolted. What gives?"

"I just needed some air. I'm not used to being in a confined space with poor lighting alongside so many sweaty scientists."

She nodded, taking in the excuse (obvious lie) before chuckling softly. "I thought it might've been because of me."

"Why you?" He blinked at her again, that trademark Sheldon Cooper look of confusion firmly in place.

Penny shrugged, shivering lightly again when hit with another breeze. "I thought maybe the dancing made you uncomfortable."

"You asked me if I was uncomfortable and I had told you I wasn't. What reason would I have to lie?" He shook his head at her. "I'm not one to conceal things from you or tell you what you'd like to hear, Penny. That's Leonard's job."

She couldn't help the smile. "I guess." After a pause, she glanced sidelong at him, eyes narrowed contemplatively. "Didn't know each of you guys had 'jobs.'"

"Oh. Yes." He angled toward her, hands coming up to gesticulate as they often did when he went into a long-winded explanation. "You see, Leonard's job is to always tell you what you'd like to hear and change his personality on a whim to fit his idea of the type of man you would want to be with. Howard's job is to leer at you and make incredibly crude remarks to conceal the amount of respect he holds for you. And Raj's job is to remain completely mute around you while sober and make you uncomfortable."

At this, she had to laugh. It sounded like each of 'her' boys. "And you?"

"Me?"

"What's your job?"

"My job, Penny, is to keep you in line."

At this, one perfectly-shaped eyebrow arched. "Excuse me?"

"My job is to never sugar-coat things for you or keep you under the umbrella of false hope. And it's also to never back down from disciplining you when you so brazenly disregard the rules and my role as alpha male."

Another chuckle escaped. Yep, sounded like 'her' Sheldon, too. "Good to know."

"Also to provide a much-needed counter-balance to your obvious alpha female status, so you don't overpower our group."

"I see." She glanced down to watch him kick another small stone, sending it off into the hedges. "Just think, Sheldon," she commented lightly after a moment. "As alpha male and alpha female, if we put our heads together, maybe we could take over the world."

Sheldon nodded, seemingly giving the notion some thought and finally responding with, "One day, Penny. One day."

The pair sat in companionable silence for a moment, their right legs swinging gently and in sync, both pairs of hands curled around the edge of the bench's seat as they sat forward. After what felt like an hour had gone by, Penny broke the silence. "So you weren't uncomfortable."

"No, I wasn't."

She studied him long and hard in that moment; took in the way his eyes refused to meet hers, instead staying focused on the ground. And then for some reason, his mother's words flowed through her head, about needing to handle his skittish side as if he were a deer. So softly, she posed her question. "That's the problem, isn't it?"

"What is?"

Penny kept her eyes on him. "You weren't uncomfortable dancing with me, and that was the problem."

Slowly, he raised his eyes to hers and searched them back and forth. Penny shivered once more, though this time she wasn't so sure it was from the breeze. Nevertheless he took notice, and without uttering a word, he stood and removed his tux jacket, draping it around her shoulders before sitting beside her once again.

One side of her lips quirked in a smile. "Thanks."

He nodded.

Another moment passed without a word between them, and Penny idly considered repeating her question. Just as she opened her mouth to do so, he spoke. "The comfort level I have with you, Penny, is... disconcerting."

She frowned. "How so?"

"Well." He angled his body toward her once again and she mirrored, crossing her right leg over her left and trying not to react when her pump brushed his pant leg. "You may find this hard to believe, but... often times I have a hard time expressing my feelings, or allowing myself to be vulnerable."

Though her mind was teeming with sarcasm -- No, really? Never woulda guessed! -- she kept her face neutral and nodded along with what he was saying. "Okay..."

"Since you moved in, I've found myself becoming more expressive. I have utilized your expertise in those areas of life in which I have little or no knowledge, and in doing so have inadvertently revealed a weakness."

"Sheldon, sweetie, that's not a bad thing," she assured, sliding her hand over the miniscule inch or two until it covered his. "One of the great things about meeting new people and entering into new social relationships, is opening yourself up to new points of view." She shrugged, absent-mindedly squeezing his hand. "I mean, look at me. I spent days playing an online multi-player game that I never would've even touched let alone given a second thought to before I met you. I... I understand some Star Trek references, and even know a teensy bit about that string theory stuff because of you."

Another shrug, another squeeze of the hand, and she looked at the man-made pond. "Part of building a solid foundation with someone is forming that comfort level and learning to adapt to each other." Throwing him a smile, she added, "I don't do laundry at 8:15 on Saturdays anymore!"

"No. You still sit in my spot, though."

"Yeah." She quirked a smile. "That might be because it's fun when you bark at me to move."

Sheldon just barely let out a chuckle, more of a sniff, and his lips spread into a genuine smile. After a moment, Penny noticed that he was watching their hands, the look on his face turning more and more into fascination with every second that passed. She too looked down, wondering why he hadn't let go yet. Should she let go? Apologize? Lace their fingers together and wait for a kiss?

...Where the hell did that come from?

Having officially freaked herself out, Penny wiggled her hand a bit inside his. But Sheldon, still watching their fused hands with utter fascination, slowly brought them up, twining his fingers through hers one digit at a time. Once all ten digits were bound, he turned their joined hands this way and that, as if marveling at the fit.

"Penny..."

"Yeah?" she asked a little too quickly (in a voice just a bit too nervous and shaky).

"What foundation are we building?"

"Huh?" She blinked herself back to some form of coherence, trying to put his question in context of what they'd been talking about, but coming up empty at the feel of his hand gently squeezing hers.

"You mentioned that part of building a solid foundation with someone is developing a certain comfort level, so I have to wonder: what are we building a foundation for?"

And as Penny looked down at their intertwined hands, and felt the comforting weight of Sheldon's jacket across her shoulders keeping her warm, she wished she had an answer.



TBC




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Song referenced in this chapter: Drive by Dawn Landes.

{x-posted to sheldon_penny}
 
 
 
babebubeboink99 on August 28th, 2009 05:16 am (UTC)
Oh be still my beating heart. SQUEE!!!
professorwormprofessorworm on August 28th, 2009 05:20 am (UTC)
NOOOOO! I want MORE!!

Great job! And Sheldon the gentleman, giving her his jacket!
Carly: [TBBT] Penny & Sheldon Christmas Hug_carly_ on August 28th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC)
Ohh, I loved that! Just the way he was analysing their hands and of course giving her his jacket. Beautiful.
ruby_casparruby_caspar on August 28th, 2009 07:25 am (UTC)
fjhnrg

This was SO sweet. And yay for the Alphas taking over the world!! ^^
len_againlen_again on August 28th, 2009 11:43 am (UTC)
So good! And I loved Penny's explanation of how friendships work - that's really sweet. I suppose being addicted to online gaming is a horizon expanding experience, lol. ;p Lovely job.
Ex Astris, Scientia: Raj approves!mrsvc on August 28th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
Lovely. ^_^ &hearts
Tasha: jim/kaley2tash81 on August 28th, 2009 06:46 pm (UTC)
That was wonderful, I could really feel the connection between them. Can't wait for more!
jazzrose343 (fallen angel)jazzrose343 on August 28th, 2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
so lovely!

I love Sheldon admitting his vunerability and the way he classified the different roles of the gang.

Alpha's for the win!

Cannot wait for more!
Taki Neko Valerie: sad warnerstakineko on August 28th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
Awwwwwww............ AWWWWWWWWWW...
It's so sweet! I'm getting cavities!
Mayhem Parva: (bozicons) Yes Minister paranoidraincitygirl on December 2nd, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
Aaaawwwww. So adorable!
annascarletblush on February 13th, 2010 01:54 pm (UTC)
ahh!! So wonderful!!! I can't wait for more chapters! :)
jen4850 on June 4th, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
I think the uncomfortable with being comfortable part is right on target.