Actions

Work Header

The Confrontation Conclusion

Chapter Text

Thank you for the reviews. I appreciate it.

Disclaimer: I do not own  The Big Bang Theory  or any of the characters therein.

XxXxXxXxXxX

It shouldn't have surprised her. Honestly, she was expecting it to happen sooner, but now, as she stared at Sheldon's passive face, Penny felt anger brim in her mind; she felt slapped in the face.

"What did you say?" she demanded, eyes narrowed. "Because it couldn't be what I think it was."

Sheldon blinked. "I sense I committed a misstep."

"You think?"

"False. I said, 'sense.' Are your ears functioning correctly? This is the second time in mere seconds where you fail to comprehend what I have remarked."

Penny closed her eyes, calling upon all the patience she could muster; it wasn't much. "I was being sarcastic."

"Penny, I loathe sarcasm. It is the lowest form of wit."

"Sheldon," she murmured dangerously. "Are you insulting me?"

"I am comparing- "

"Never mind!"

"Uh, Penny," Leonard said hesitantly, and Penny glared at him, watching him meekly gesture to their surroundings. "Everyone's watching."

Penny exhaled roughly, suddenly aware of all the eyes in The Cheesecake Factory watching them. "Is that all I can get you?"

Sheldon frowned from his spot at their assigned table. "Penny, it is customary of- "

"Oh, you're so lucky that I said there'd be no strikes," she hissed out through clenched teeth. "You'd be working yours off for a year! And it's only been three days!"

"I do not understand."

Her anger spiked. "Because you're insane!"

"False. My mother once mistakenly thought the same. She had me tested."

"Then she should have done it again! Clearly, the results were wrong."

"Sarcasm?"

"No!"

"Fascinating," Sheldon commented, nonplussed by her anger; instead, the jackass looked intrigued. "You are of the same mindset that my mother was. Thrice, she demanded me to be tested, and each time, I aptly demonstrated my sanity and intellect."

Penny inhaled slowly and smiled tightly, gripping her pad with shaking hands. "Your food will be out shortly. If you'll excuse me, I think there's a mess in the kitchen. Which is apparently where I belong!"

With that, she stormed away, anger and disbelief and hurt coursing through her.

XxXxXxXxXxX

Leonard shook his head in disbelief. "Unbelievable. I don't know how you do it."

Sheldon stared at him, clearly bemused. "Elaborate."

"We don't know how you hold onto her!" Howard exploded, hands flying into the air; he looked in awe. "If I said that to her, she'd castrate me!"

"I think if you said that, Penny's reaction would stem more from it being you rather than what you said," Raj pointed out, taking a sip from his drink. "On the other hand, if I said that to her- "

"Hell would have frozen over," Howard snapped. "Newsflash! You can't talk to her! And I wouldn't say it for you if you whispered it in my ear."

"But we made a pact," Raj protested.

Leonard cut in, rolling his eyes. "Sheldon, you can't say that to her."

Sheldon blinked innocently, and Leonard wondered how his friend had survived in the world this long. "What was my misstep?"

Raj's jaw dropped. "Dude, you said that she belongs in the kitchen."

"False. When Penny began speaking about a wristwatch she wished to procure from a store, she lamented that it could become stained with food while she works, so she did not purchase it. I reminded her that it is customary for clocks to be situated on stoves, thus nullifying the need for a wristwatch at work. Waitresses pass into the kitchen approximately every four minutes, providing ample opportunities for Penny to observe the time."

Leonard sighed. "Well, that's not how she took it. All you said was, 'There is a clock situated on the stove.' She thought you were in 1950."

"Impossible. A functional time machine has yet- "

"I meant your mindset," he corrected tiredly. "To Penny, it sounded like the only job she could ever get was working in the kitchen, serving men or something."

Sheldon looked flabbergasted. "While Penny's intelligence is much inferior to my own, I never expected such a case of miscommunication to affect us. Perhaps I overestimated her capabilities."

Leonard groaned and put his head in his hands, wondering how he could have possibly lost his chance with Penny because of Sheldon - Sheldon!

Howard perked up. "If you're thinking about dumping her, I'll definitely take her off your hands."

"Dumping her?"

Raj translated, "Terminating your Relationship Agreement."

"Why would I wish to terminate The Relationship Agreement?"

Leonard glanced at Sheldon, removing his hands from his face. "Isn't that what you just implied? You said you overestimated Penny's intelligence."

"It is perhaps possible that I have overestimated her intelligence, but based on past encounters between Penny and myself, our unique dynamic, there must be extenuating circumstances for Penny's irrational reaction," Sheldon explained, completely unaffected. "Arguments are permitted in our Relationship Agreement. Penny demanded it, and after consideration, I agreed."

Howard leaned forward, a sick fascination on his face. "Really? You want to argue? Does it… turn you on? I mean, arouse you?"

Before Sheldon could respond, and Leonard did and didn't want to hear his response, Penny reappeared, a blatant fake smile on her beautiful but flushed face, holding a tray with their food. "Here's your meals."

"Penny, it is obvious that the current year is not 1950," Sheldon abruptly said, eyes locked onto Penny. "If you mistakenly believe it is 1950, as Leonard remarked, then- "

"That's not what I said," Leonard groaned out, smiling apologetically at Penny. "Sorry, I just tried to- "

"What are you talking about?" Penny demanded, fire in her eyes.

Sheldon tilted his head. "You misunderstood my reasoning behind my observation."

Penny smiled - it was all teeth. Leonard saw Howard and Raj cower, and honestly, he wasn't much better. "I think I understood just fine."

"False. When you began speaking about a wristwatch you wished to procure from a store, you lamented that it could become stained with food while you work, so you did not purchase it. I reminded you that it is customary for clocks to be situated on stoves, thus nullifying the need for a wristwatch at work. Waitresses pass into the kitchen approximately every four minutes, providing ample opportunities for you to observe the time."

Silence.

"Oh, sweetie, I'm so sorry," Penny rushed out, eyes wide, all signs of her anger vanishing; they were replaced by embarrassment and relief. "It's just… it's been a really long day. And I've heard guys say that in here before, and my old boyfriends, and… I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry."

Sheldon blinked. "All days are the same in length- "

"Colloquialism."

"Ahh. Would you like a hot, refreshing beverage?"

Howard finally gained his courage. "She can get one if she frees her hands by giving us our food."

Penny immediately handed out their meals. "Sorry. I was just- "

"Not thinking, although impossible," Sheldon supplied, and Leonard almost feared another argument, seeing Raj and Howard fearing one as well, but he was surprised when Penny laughed.

"Yeah, I wasn't," she said, eyes soft, focused solely on Sheldon. Leonard wished she'd look at him like that, but he knew it was pointless. While he was working towards making peace with Penny choosing Sheldon, he still had a way to go. He was only human. "I've had enough of the coffee today. I'll pass on the hot beverage, okay?"

Sheldon, for reasons Leonard couldn't determine, looked delighted. "Did you intentionally create your rhyming couplet?"

Penny blinked and paused before hesitantly nodding. "Yes?"

Leonard didn't call her out on her blatant lie, and thankfully, Howard was too hungry to care.

"Remarkable," Sheldon praised. "Clearly, I did not overestimate your capabilities. You may possess the talent of a poet. It may be a vocation in which you can find success."

"I'll keep that in mind," she said, glancing behind her. "Look, there's a table waving me down. I'll be back."

Then she was gone.

Sheldon began to eat his burger, and Leonard, while hungry, had to ask, "Do you realize how lucky you are? You get all the intelligence, and you get the hot girl."

"Are you currently associating yourself with the color green, Leonard?"

Leonard blinked before frowning. "I'm not jealous. Okay, maybe I am a little, but don't you realize how lucky you are?"

"Of course, he doesn't," Howard chortled out, mouth full of food. "He doesn't even believe in the concept of luck."

Sheldon nodded approvingly, swallowing his food before speaking. "Luck is a concept believed in only by the many vessels of mediocrity in the world. Believing in mere chance is irrational and a- "

"A 'squalor of one's intellect,'" Leonard finished, sighing. "We know. But how don't you see it? You wooed Penny!"

"Leonard's right," Raj said, wiping his mouth with a napkin. "You managed to beguile a goddess. I wish it was me. Maybe if I- "

Sheldon put down his burger, face serious. "I merely acted, and for every action, there is- "

"An equal and opposite reaction," Howard concluded, waving a finger at Sheldon. "I know Newtonian stuff, too, you know?"

"False. You are a mere engineer."

Howard glared. "And you're a mere pain in the ass. I don't know what Penny sees in you. Maybe she's not as smart as we thought."

"Why won't you admit that you got lucky, Sheldon?" Raj asked. "You got intelligence and the girl. You didn't ask for it."

"Of course not," Sheldon said, insulted, and Leonard gave up, finally eating his food. "I was born, and this is what I am. The genetic mutation and chromosomal alignment that resulted in my superior intelligence and perfect recall- "

"Was the luck of the draw!" Howard erupted, hands flying in the air, nearly smashing into his plate. "Can't you just admit that you got lucky?"

Penny suddenly reappeared. "Got lucky with what?"

Howard turned towards her before Sheldon could speak. "That Sheldon got you! That he got his- "

"Well, I am quite the catch, aren't I?" Penny grinned, stepping closer to Sheldon's seated form, and Leonard waited for the order for her to step away, but it never came. "Maybe luck had something to do with it, maybe it didn't. I'm not smart enough to know the difference."

Sheldon perked up. "I can offer assistance- "

"Sweetie, when I said I'm not smart enough, I kind of meant that I don't care enough to know the difference."

"But that is- "

Penny frowned. "If you say irrational, I'll get angry all over again."

"- illogical."

"Semantics isn't gonna save you."

"Conceptual or lexical?"

"Oh, I'm getting angry."

Sheldon deflated, and Leonard nearly groaned, wishing he could have that level of success with Sheldon. He inherently knew that Sheldon did have a deal; it had to be that Penny's visual appeal was so great that he yearned for her companionship, so he was willing to let certain matters slide that he wouldn't for anyone else.

He still remembered his roommate rightly calling Penny feminine perfection.

"Plus, saying that it's all luck makes it seem that we don't have a choice," Penny said in consideration, eyebrows furrowed. "I made a choice and Sheldon made a choice. To just say it's luck is… well, actually, irrational."

"I concur with Penny," Sheldon informed.

Howard rolled his eyes. "We'll try to contain our shock."

"Sarcasm?"

Penny smiled. "Good job."

Sheldon nodded, looking pleased. "It is my superior intellect."

"I'm sure it is."

"Sarcasm?"

Penny's eyebrows rose, surprised. "No."

Sheldon deflated again. "Oh."

"You'll get the hang of it eventually. That giant brain of yours has to do something." Penny smiled apologetically. "I've got to get back. I can feel the daggers in my back coming from my manager."

Leonard noticed that Sheldon's eyes widened, shocked. "Daggers? Danger!" He started wildly looking for the manager. "Danger!"

"No, no!" Penny shushed, panicked, eyes wide. Leonard didn't even try to interrupt and Howard and Raj simply ate their food, well-used to being embarrassed by Sheldon. "No, it's okay. It's jus- it was a colloquialism."

Sheldon immediately calmed, looking disgruntled. "I disapprove of such expressions. They are most irritating and vexing. Completely irrational."

Penny sighed. "Sorry. I guess I should've spoken more carefully. You take things literally."

"How else does one comprehend information?"

"Um… figuratively?"

Sheldon clasped his hands in front of him and Leonard groaned, prepared for a lecture. "There is no measure by which to determine- "

Penny easily interrupted, backing away. "Sorry, I gotta go. Enjoy your food."

Then she was gone again.

"Dude, she's got your number," Raj immediately said. "I don't even think we have your number like that."

Howard swallowed a bite of food. "We don't."

Sheldon frowned. "Penny already has my phone number. To what are you referring?"

Leonard felt a pressure start to build behind his eyes. "It was… another colloquialism. And before you start: Yes, colloquialisms are irritants and wholly vexing. We know."

"Then why have you not desisted from speaking in such adolescent terms?"

He gave up. "Oh, you totally got lucky."

XxXxXxXxXxX

Penny glanced at her phone when it rang and huffed in exasperation; it was her sister. She had been calling for the past several days, and Penny hadn't wanted to deal with her. Maybe it was the conversation with Sheldon about siblings, but something made Penny answer.

"Hey, Katie," she said, turning the volume down on the T.V. as she prepared herself. "Sorry I missed your calls. I was just about to call you."

"Save the excuses for someone who'd believe them, Pen."

She grit her teeth. "I answered, didn't I?"

"Mom was going off the other day and it made me think of you."

"Did you really call me just to bitch about Mom?"

"Call it repayment for all those years I listened to you bitch about her 'cause I was your big sister."

Penny rolled her head back into the cushion, feeling a pressure begin to build in her skull. "I don't know why I thought you might have something good to say for once."

"Maybe if you were here instead of the West Coast I'd share some good things," Katie snapped. "Because, believe me, there's great stuff. I've been having a damn good life since you jumped ship."

Anger rushed through her, and just like that, her inner bitch reared its ugly head; she shouldn't have been surprised. It's what always happened when she talked to Katie.

"You're pissed 'cause I did what you couldn't! I'm the one that had the courage. I left. And I never looked back. You wish you did what I did, but I'm the one that did it."

Katie inhaled roughly and Penny had the brief thought that she might hang up, but her sister spoke, "I wanna talk about Mom."

"What was it this time?" she asked, inner bitch retreating, fingers anxiously brushing through her hair. "She drive Dad to the bar again? What about Tommy? Make him run off with that stripper he calls a girlfriend again?"

"You remember who gave him that idea? You did after you ran off with Kurt, leaving us all to eat Omaha dust."

"You were talking about Mom," she reminded through clenched teeth.

"She's thinking about getting a divorce."

Penny sat up straight. "What? No, no, she wouldn't."

"Dad's been at the bar a lot lately."

"Because she drove him there!" she cried out, memories flooding her. She jumped to her feet and began to pace in front of the muted T.V., disbelief and rage warring for control. "That's all she's ever done! I guess we know who we get our bitchiness from - her!"

Katie was quiet for several moments. "It's not a done deal, but… don't be surprised if it happens. Mom thinks Dad's been going to that bar so much because he met someone. She thinks it's- "

"Then she's as blind as she is bitch-y," she hissed out. "And if that is true, it's because she ran him off."

"Must be a family trait or something," Katie mused, but the bitter anger peeked through. "Mom runs Dad off, you run away, Tommy runs away- "

"Aren't you a shining virtue or something?" Penny snapped, feeling the urge to throw her phone. "Is that what this is? You tryin' to rub your virtue or whatever in my face because you stayed there? Stayed with Mom and Dad?"

"At least I'm loyal!" Katie fired back, words echoing. "I've stayed by my man for years. Ricky and I have stuck together. Just as I've stuck with family. But you? You seemed to go through a new boy every week in high school! Then you run off with the king of the dumb crop in Kurt, fuckin' around to go to the West Coast to get away from Omaha and make it with those pretty-boy actors that probably have small packages!"

Penny gnashed her teeth together; her inner bitch thrashed and screamed in outrage. "Speaking of small packages, how is Ricky?"

"You bitch!"

"Takes one to know one, doesn't it?" she snapped, voice rising. "By the way, you still wearing those stupid heels that are a stand-in for your small boobs?"

Katie seemed to howl. "If mine are a stand-in, then what are yours?"

"Bigger!" Penny retorted fiercely. "And by the way, I'm done with my small package. Kurt and I are done."

"You gave up on the body that wouldn't quit?"

"It didn't have to quit; it was fired! I'm done with assholes. I've more than upgraded. I'm dating a Doctor now."

Katie scoffed. "Bullshit."

"Sheldon Cooper, Ph.D., Ph.D., S.T.U.D., and you can look him up if you don't believe me," she said slowly, making sure Katie understood every word. "That's right. He's got two Ph.D.s, and he's a total stud. You'll easily find him. He'll win the Nobel Prize someday; he's a genius. And what is Ricky? A deadbeat that can't even hold a job!"

"Fuck you, Pen. You know, when Mom was going off the other day, she was saying how you're such an ungrateful daughter and everything, and I didn't correct her when I should have! You're an ungrateful sister, too!"

Penny gasped. "You've always been jealous of me! That I was hotter, had prettier hair, bigger boobs, and a better ass! That I've started to make a life for myself! That I followed my dreams! That I dared to leave!" She twisted the knife even deeper, unable to stop; she didn't want to. "Meanwhile, you're stuck with deadbeats! Mom's one, and so is Ricky. You know what they say, right? You are who you hang around with. So, if you're always around deadbeats, what does that say about you, Katie?"

"Bitch!" Katie screamed before hanging up the phone.

Silence.

Penny was breathing heavily and collapsed back onto her couch, feeling buzzed. Glancing at the clock, she noted that it was nearly time for Halo, as outlined in Sheldon's schedule, and she figured that killing a bunch of things in a video game would do her a whole lot of good right now.

XxXxXxXxXxX

Sheldon observed Penny's flushed cheeks when he answered the door, feeling alarmed at the glow in her eyes; he immediately stretched his shirt to cover his nose and mouth. "Has your body succumbed to pathogens?"

Penny blinked. "Pathogens? Are you asking if I'm sick?"

"Affirmative."

"No. I was just talking to someone on the phone and I got a little worked up. But thanks for worrying."

Sheldon critically observed her for several moments before nodding curtly, allowing her to pass into the apartment; he released his shirt.

"So, you were on the phone, were you?" Wolowitz immediately asked, lips pulled back into a leer. "And it made you all hot and flushed and worked up. Interesting. Was it with- "

"If you finish that sentence, I'll punch you in the balls," Penny threatened and Sheldon nodded approvingly at the vernacular that Missy had said to him in their childhood; it never worked on him, but on the inferior Wolowitz, it would suffice.

"Excellent concision, Penny," he praised as he sat next to her on the couch, each in their assigned spots.

"Exactly." Penny continued to glare at Wolowitz. "I'd be doing the world a favor. And if you don't believe me, try me. 'Cause I'm angry enough to do it. I've dealt with enough shit today."

Sheldon cataloged the colloquialism in his mind and found the reference to a prior incident in which it was spoken, comprehending the meaning of what she remarked. According to The Relationship Agreement, the act of comforting was required.

Thus, Sheldon hesitantly placed a hand on her tense shoulder, patting and rubbing as his mother had instructed twenty-three years and two-hundred eighty-one days ago. "There, there. Would you like a hot, refreshing beverage?"

Penny smiled softly. "Sweetie, that's really sweet and all, but right now, I just want to kill something."

Sheldon brightened. "Activate Halo, Leonard!"

XxXxXxXxXxX

Penny grinned and laughed in elation when she killed Howard for what she guessed was the hundredth time. "You guys suck!"

"They are in possession of poor hand-eye coordination," Sheldon agreed next to her; they were crushing them. She hadn't expected to have so much fun; it was pretty awesome. "It is most puzzling considering their numerous 'gaming experiences.'"

"They're just not 'superior' like we are," she said, quoting him with a smile.

"But we have perfectly functional ears, you know?" Leonard reminded, and she felt a little guilty. "I mean, we're right here."

"Yes!" Howard cried out, pointing at the T.V. "We gotta move! You're just standing there! No wonder they're killing us!"

Leonard stood to his feet, dropping the controller in Raj's hands. "No, I'm done. I can take a lot, but being murdered over fifty times isn't one I'll take."

Penny felt Sheldon shake his head in disapproval, but she was focused on the screen, hunting Howard; she was so close. "How else does one adapt- "

"By knowing when to quit!" Howard yelled, flailing as Penny killed him again. "That's it. I'm done, too. At least the teams used to kind of be fair, but now, it's murder."

She looked at them, unimpressed. "We can't help it. You guys just suck. If you can't handle it, then leave."

Howard perked up, eyes gleaming at her; she immediately knew where his mind had headed. "Was that the plan? Your phone conversation made you so hot and bothered that you want to be alone with Sheldon? You want us to leave you two alone?" His eyebrows wiggled suggestively. "Maybe perform a little missionary?"

Penny stared at him, eyes narrowed, and placed a hand on Sheldon's arm when she saw him about to speak, probably to ask what missionary meant. Maybe even ask what Howard was talking about as a whole. "First of all, I'm surprised you even know what that is. If I didn't, unfortunately, know better, going by the way you dress, I'd think you were a virgin."

"I'm not a- "

"And second of all," she easily interrupted, steamrolling him, "I'm not ruled by my hormones like I'm sure you think I am. I know how to control myself or whatever. It's you who'd probably do it with anything that moves."

Howard grinned. "I don't care if they're moving."

She reeled back, face twisting. "You're disgusting. And you wonder why you can't find a girl to stay with you, there it is. That, and your fashion sense."

Leonard groaned, rubbing his eyes. "I can't listen to any of this anymore. I'm leaving."

Raj nodded eagerly and stood, mute, but Howard shrugged, following suit. "Well, we're just doing what Penny wants us to. She wants some alone time with Sheldon."

"To what are you referring?" Sheldon finally demanded, words tumbling past his lips in a rush; she was surprised he had remained silent for so long.

Leonard grabbed Howard by the arm. "Nothing. We're leaving. Maybe you and Penny can play Halo against each other. We'll be going to a bar."

Sheldon nodded in understanding. "Ahh, I see. You wish to obtain coitus."

"Who doesn't?" Howard asked as the door opened. "Penny's thinking like we do!"

Penny rolled her eyes. "If I ever thought like you, I'd blow my brains out. I'm not gross like you are."

"But I bet you are in the bedroom!" Howard cackled and she briefly wondered if he was drunk; he was resisting Raj's tug on his arm. "All the sex must be amazing. Right, Sheldon?"

Sheldon blinked. "Forgive me, Howard. I failed to comprehend what you remarked, for your penis was producing such feeble resonance."

After taking a moment to translate that to something she could understand, Penny laughed, nodding her head in agreement.

"Your incessant folderol is unacceptable," Sheldon continued. "You have obtained your first strike."

"Fine. But none of this makes sense!" Howard threw his arms into the air. "I'm an engineer- "

"A mere engineer," Sheldon corrected, nonplussed.

Howard glared and Penny sighed, watching as a stand-off commenced. "An engineer."

Sheldon peered at Howard. "In which dominance display seen in Nature do you wish to partake? The baring of one's teeth, the pounding of the chest, or the uncovering of the genitals?"

Leonard groaned, looking up at the doorway. "Oh, here we go."

Penny laughed. "He won't want to expose himself. He'd definitely lose, wouldn't he?"

Howard stood taller. "I'll have you know that I'm well-endowed! Better than anyone, too. Matter of fact, mine's tucked in my sock right now. It's like I have a third leg; it's the envy of all- "

"Are you referring to your penis?"

"Yes."

Sheldon leaned forward, lecture face on. "False and impossible. When erect, your- "

Penny quickly interrupted, wishing she hadn't said anything. "What did you mean by you were an engineer? Was there a point to that?"

"Of course," Howard said, insulted. "But someone had to- "

"Spit it out," she commanded.

Howard pointed at her and Sheldon. "There has to always be structural integrity! But you two? You have no structural integrity!"

"We're building it," Penny defended. "We're gonna have some kick-ass structural integrity. We only just started dating. I was getting tired of assholes like Kurt, okay? Sheldon's not an asshole."

Leonard snorted but didn't say anything.

Raj leaned over to whisper in Howard's ear and Howard nodded in agreement. "Raj says to hold off on making such an assessment. I have to agree."

"A flawed premise," Sheldon commented. "Your findings are skewed with an irrational sentiment."

"Whatever."

Penny jumped in, "Besides, you don't even know what it's like, Howard. You've never had a girlfriend, have you?"

Howard puffed out his non-existent chest. "I've had plenty of girlfriends. In fact, when I get tired of my girlfriends- "

"Your fake girlfriends," she interrupted.

"- and if the sex isn't good- "

"That problem comes from your end."

Howard glared at her. "- then I dump her and get a better one. Or I just get a mistress."

Penny raised a brow. "Via an agency?"

Before Howard could respond, Leonard finally yanked him out of the doorway with an apologetic smile. "This is stupid. And sorry about him. We'll see you guys later. Or maybe not. Anyway, have fun."

Then they were gone.

"I don't know how you deal with him," she muttered, shaking her head. "You're totally right. His penis is what's talking all the time. That was a good one."

Sheldon peered at her. "Elaborate."

She smiled, thinking back to what he had called it the other day. "It was a good jest."

"I concur. I thought it beneficial to remind him of his inferiority, for he persistently submits to his piteous, primitive impulses."

Penny snorted. "Oh, you have a way with words, Sheldon."

"Of course. I am a genius. My grasp and command of the English language- "

Sensing a rant, she quickly changed the subject. "My sister called me earlier. That's who I talked to on the phone."

"She provoked your angered disposition?"

"Yeah."

"I see. Would you like a hot, refreshing beverage?"

Penny tilted her head, something clicking in her mind. "Did someone teach you that? To ask someone if they would like a hot, refreshing beverage when they've had a bad day or are feeling sad or something?"

"Affirmative."

"Who?"

"My mother."

She nodded. "Well, she knows those social cues. But for me, I like a glass of wine a lot better than coffee or tea." She blatantly batted her eyelashes, although she was sure it wouldn't affect him - at least right now. "I could use some of that good wine that you drink, Sheldon."

Sheldon stiffened. "No one is permitted to- "

"But I'm your girlfriend," she reminded, patient. "And I've had a bad day. I had to talk to my sister. Drinking some good wine would help 'heal' my trauma."

He twitched. "My collection of wine- "

"You have a collection?" she demanded, not sure what she was so surprised. "Where?"

"In a compartment in my room- "

"Oh, is that why no one's allowed in your room? You're afraid they'll steal your valuable bottles of wine?"

"False. My bedroom is my sanctum, a place where I am at my most vulnerable, thus- "

"Because you're sleeping?"

"Affirmative."

Penny got back to the issue at hand. "Why can't I have some of your wine, Sheldon? It would mean a lot to me. You don't want me to get angry, do you?"

Sheldon's eyes brightened with delight. "An excellent allusion to The Hulk, Penny. In the spirit of B.F. Skinner, I shall reward you through positive reinforcement."

She blinked, processing that, trying to translate it into something understandable. "So… you'll let me drink some of your wine?"

"Affirmative."

"Oh, how gracious of you," she gasped out. "Let me just commit this moment to memory. After waiting for so long to have the chance- "

"I was not aware that your cognitive aptitude allowed you to record- "

"Sarcasm, sweetie."

XxXxXxXxXxX

The wine was amazing.

Penny was certain that she needed to have a lot more shit days or conversations with her sister so that Sheldon would 'permit her access to his collection.' Maybe she could try to add an amendment to The Relationship Agreement that would help her have more of the wine, but she wasn't about to push her luck.

She'd try it later. But until then, she'd be stuck with the cheap wine that, when compared to Sheldon's awesome ones, tasted like Satan's piss.

On second thought, maybe she would try her luck...

"Penny, according to social protocols and The Relationship Agreement, I must ask if you wish to speak about your traumatic experience with your sister."

She took a small sip of her wine, savoring it, smiling at him. "You don't have to do that."

"But I am required to. I am superior. Thus, I must always act in accordance with all systems relevant, which only I can accomplish. No one matches my superiority."

Penny stared at him, wondering if she would ever meet someone as arrogant as him. "I don't want to get angry again."

Sheldon nodded. "Your anger is impressive. It reminds me of my mother. When enraged, you resemble a fierce, vengeful Valkyrie."

"Is that a compliment?"

"Affirmative."

"Good boy," she praised, raising a wicked brow. "Maybe I should reward you."

Sheldon perked up and she gleefully wondered if he understood her meaning. "Through what method of positive reinforcement were you contemplating?"

"Sex."

Penny almost groaned when Sheldon looked disappointed - disappointed! Wasn't that a first? Never before would she have ever thought that a guy could look disappointed at the possibility of having sex.

Talk about a paradox - Sheldon hates paradoxes!

"While you are the blatant incarnation of feminine perfection, coitus remains prohibited."

She blinked and then beamed. Maybe she was closer to getting through to him than she thought. The incarnation of feminine perfection? It didn't get much better than that.

"Alright, alright," she conceded, feeling a high at his compliment. "So, what do you want to talk about?"

"According to social protocols and The Relationship Agreement, I must ask if you wish to speak about your traumatic experience with your sister."

Penny rolled her eyes. "Sweetie, you already asked, and it's fine if you don't want to."

"You failed to remark that you did not want to speak of it."

Damn his geniusness.

She sighed, taking a bigger sip of her wine. "Well, she's been calling for several days and I finally answered. I don't know why I did. I learned that my parents may be getting a divorce."

"I offer you my condolences."

"Thanks. But that's not what got me upset, not really. My mom and dad have always fought a lot. She drives him to the bar all the time. It was Katie that got me mad. We fought like we always do. We're always fighting. Always yelling, and every time, it always ends in either one of us hanging up on the other."

"What was the subject of your quarrel?"

"Girl stuff. It's always the same. She's pissed that I left home, and that I'm way hotter than she is. And she's always held the fact that she's older over my head. There's no winning with her."

Sheldon peered at her. "You are the youngest of your siblings as I am."

"What's your point?"

"Are you aware of the adage, 'Third time is the charm?'"

Penny blinked before a slow smile spread across her lips. "Are you talking about superiority?"

"Affirmative. My Memaw remarked that to me when I once felt similar. We are paradigms of superiority, and it was not until the third attempt that the commingling of our parents' genetic material produced such superiority."

She laughed and felt lighter. "That was the right thing to say." She wanted to reward him in the bedroom but just settled for patting his hand, which he didn't pull away. "Good job. And thanks."

"Do you wish me to educate your inferior sister on your superiority?"

A snort escaped her. "That'd probably just make it worse."

"Then how are we to solve your predicament?"

"The 'predicament' of what exactly?"

"Your sister's idiocy."

"Some people can't be cured."

Sheldon nodded, staring at her appraisingly; he was actually smiling slightly! "Well said, Penny. You have correctly alluded to Einstein."

Penny frowned, totally taken aback. She didn't remember even thinking about Einstein, let alone talking about him. "What are you talking about?"

He clasped his hands together. "Two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity."

"What?"

"Einstein correctly observed that, and you correctly alluded to it."

She was quiet for several moments. "You know, just because Einstein says something doesn't mean it's true."

"False. Penny, you are aware of my distinct loathing for paradoxes. Why do you insist on positing them?"

Penny sighed, not sure why she had challenged him about Einstein. "Just wanted to see what you'd say."

"I am consistent in all things- "

"Okay. But it's fine, Sheldon. You don't need to call my sister. That's how she and I have always been. She's a bitch and I'm a bitch right back. We bring out the worst in each other. We get it from our mom."

"That is not a hereditary trait."

"She set an example and we followed it," she corrected, rolling her eyes. "Like, how your dad set an example by drinking alcohol which you later followed."

Sheldon shifted in his spot. "Only when I feel overwhelmed. My father, at his worst, consumed alcohol daily."

That painted a much broader picture of his childhood, and Penny nodded, taking several moments to think of what to say. "Well, you're superior to your old man, aren't you? You hardly ever need to drink, right?"

"Affirmative. I eclipsed my father long ago. It is rare when I succumb to the urge to drink alcohol."

"How do you… succumb to your other urges?" she asked, taking another sip of the wine, staring at him through her lashes. "Ones of a sexual nature?"

"I pleasure myself."

Penny, despite being prepared for a blunt reply, was still surprised. "So, it works like it's supposed to?"

"Pardon?"

"Your penis, it works like it's supposed to?"

"Affirmative. I can urinate and ejaculate. You have already questioned me on this subject. I loath repeating myself, Penny."

Feeling the mood vanish, she grumbled, "That was way too much information."

Sheldon tilted his head. "You asked- "

"I was kind of trying to seduce you," she huffed out. "I was starting at the beginner's level because I don't know what would happen if I started on the boss level. Although, maybe nothing would. You might not feel anything."

"As I reminded Leonard on Sunday, I am no harem eunuch. Arousing stimuli affects me, and as the incarnation of feminine perfection, your attempts at seduction would affect me."

Penny grinned, excited. "Would they blow your socks off?"

"Colloquialism?"

"Yeah. I mean, would it make your heart race super fast?"

"Perhaps."

"Would you feel so turned on- I mean, so aroused that you'd lose control?"

Sheldon frowned. "Of my mental faculties?"

"Sure. So full of lust that the only thing on your mind is sealing the deal." Penny paused when she noticed Sheldon's eyebrows furrow. "Or… ejaculation," she said, cringing at how callous and clinical it sounded.

"Ahh. Perhaps. I have yet to experience coitus, so I cannot accurately answer. Although, I must observe that I refuse to succumb to such impulses. I may not be affected."

Penny saw her opening, ignoring that last part. "So, why do you hate it - sex - so much if you've never tried it? I know we've kinda already talked about this, but you don't knock it until you try it. That's a colloquialism."

"Coitus consists of primitive impulses. Rational, balanced beings should never succumb to such piteous impulses."

Maybe she should have waited for a bigger opening.

"You are such a contradiction," she said, shaking her head in wonder. "You don't like sex because it's not 'rational,' but the only way you'll get those genius-prodigy kids is through sex. Plus, you can't say you don't like it when you haven't tried it. That's irrational!"

Sheldon looked like a child, sullenly nodding his head. "I am aware. It is a conundrum that has stolen many peaceful REM cycles from me."

Penny laughed in amazement and downed the rest of her wine. "Well, all I do know is that I'll try to blow your socks off when we get there, okay? I'll wear something that will make your brain short-circuit."

"Impossible."

"I know. But a girl can dream, right?" Penny's eyes widened and leaned forward, and she noticed that Sheldon didn't back away or even react at her closer proximity. Small victories. "Speaking of what I've been dreaming about doing, I get to dress you, pick out what you wear once a week, remember? It's in The Relationship Agreement."

"An amendment I still do not understand."

"It's a girl thing," she said quickly. "So, tomorrow we're going to go on a date and I'm going to pick out what you're going to wear. It's Anything Can Happen Thursday."

"The restaurant must meet my standards."

Penny had a feeling that she was going to regret it, but she shrugged. "Fine. But I still get to dress you. Wait. You have nice clothes, right?"

Sheldon looked insulted. "Of course."

She sighed in relief. "Good. 'Cause I was thinking- "

"I am currently wearing my nicest pair of pants."

Penny stared at his plaid pants, horrified.

She was doomed.

XxXxXxXxXxX

Thankfully, Sheldon's opinion on which pair of his pants is the best was opinion-based. When Penny had forced his way into his room, ignoring his squawks of protest, she found a pair of unworn blue jeans with the tags still on. She suspected they were from his mother or sister.

"Let me tell you something, this is your best pair of pants." She waved them at him. "Take it from a woman."

"A mistaken woman," Sheldon corrected sullenly.

Penny rolled her eyes. "Don't be such a baby. Tomorrow, you're wearing those jeans. And…" She observed his closet, trying to find something suitable. There! She grabbed the dress shirt. "And then this shirt. That's it. Okay? You can throw on superhero socks or underwear underneath if you want, but wear the shirt and jeans."

Sheldon's eyes brightened. "My Superman socks will be perfect."

"Superman?"

"The Last Son of Krypton, Kal-El."

She closed her eyes briefly. "No. I know who Superman is. I meant, why Superman socks? Don't you have Batman socks or something?"

"Superman is my favorite superhero."

Penny raised her eyebrows. "Why?"

"He is superior to all humans, just as I am. He is of a superior race that values reason and logic. I have conducted numerous tests on myself through the years to determine if I am of the fictitious Kryptonian race with dampened superhuman attributes except for my superior intelligence, but my morale has been devastated each time when I only rediscover that I am human."

The urge to roll her eyes was super strong - pun intended! - but she barely kept from doing so. "You're just the gift that keeps on giving, aren't you? And before you ask, colloquialism." Penny laid out the shirt on his bed, next to the jeans. "Go ahead and wear Superman socks, but make sure you wear the shirt and jeans, okay? Don't forget."

"It is impossible for me to forget."

Penny grinned. That was another plus to having him as a boyfriend; he would never be able to weasel his way out of something by saying 'I forgot.'

She looked around his room. "Am I the first girl you've ever had in here?"

"False. My mother has been in my room."

"Am I the first girl you've had in your room that isn't part of your family."

"Affirmative."

"I'll make sure to put it in my diary."

"Sarcasm?"

Her smile curled across her lips. "Good job."

Sheldon nodded and she didn't fail to notice how he stood just a little taller. "It is an arduous process, but my superior intellect ensures I will learn the fundamentals to understanding sarcasm, despite it being the lowest form of wit."

Penny hoped that his superior intellect ensured he would learn the fundamentals of understanding why sex was amazing.

XxXxXxXxXxX

"Dude, Sheldon's on a date right now," Raj said, disbelief tangible. "What does that say?"

"That we're a bunch of losers who can't get any?" Howard guessed, sullen. "Not to mention it may be with the hottest girl any of us have ever seen."

Raj nodded. "She is a goddess."

"I just don't get it," Howard continued, disheartened. "I mean, why?"

"She must have gotten her fill of good-looking guys and wants a change."

"No, Raj. Moving on to Sheldon? That's not a change. That's insanity."

"More like a complete reversal," Leonard corrected, sighing as he rubbed his fingers across his jaw.

He was more concerned that Sheldon and Penny were out longer than had been expected. Knowing Sheldon, he could raise hell like no one else alive, so… he didn't know what he hoped. If Sheldon terminated The Relationship Agreement, it would free Penny, but that was pure selfishness talking. If he was going to be a good friend, to both Sheldon and Penny, then he couldn't do that. And he did want to be a good friend.

But sometimes it was hard.

"Do you remember where they said they're going?" Howard asked. "Maybe we could call and make sure Sheldon didn't burn the place down."

"It was some steak place," he said. "Apparently, Penny had a 'hankering' for food from Nebraska, and when she mentioned to Sheldon that his dad must have grilled him steak as a kid, he agreed to go - why, I don't know. There's probably some Freudian analysis in there or something. Sheldon's never talked about his father."

"I thought Freud was all about Moms."

"He was, but it doesn't mean that it can't apply to fathers." Leonard glanced at the phone. "Besides, I don't know if we'll be able to call; they may have banned our number. Sheldon spent at least half an hour on the phone before they left raising hell, making sure that the restaurant met all of his requirements."

"And Penny didn't throw a fit?" Raj asked, shocked.

"She's the one who gave him the number." Leonard looked up at the ceiling, head craned back on the chair. "She- … I don't know. She seems to get it. Get his need for systems and schedules."

Howard leaned forward. "You think if I started acting like Sheldon, making systems and stuff, she'd take an interest in me?"

Raj looked at Howard like he was insane. "Dude, nobody can act like Sheldon but Sheldon. Can you imagine two Sheldons?"

They all collectively shuddered.

"Thanks, Raj," Howard grumbled, crossing his arms. "Now I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight."

"Better you not sleeping than Sheldon," Leonard said, rubbing his eyes. "Sunday morning, after staying up all night with Penny, he was reciting cosmological theory that tied into his decision to date her. Something about chaos and order's relationship. How order emerges from chaos. He thinks that Penny will help him evolve into the manifestation of order and reason."

Raj's eyes widened in horror. "We have to break them up!"

Howard nodded eagerly, looking terrified. "Raj's right! We can't even keep-up with Sheldon, now! Can you imagine what it'd be like if he evolves to his next form? If he levels-up?"

Leonard rolled his eyes. "We're not breaking up Sheldon and Penny. Besides, I don't think we'd be able to outsmart Penny about it. She's more clever than we are."

"Three nerds can outsmart one hot blonde, no matter how hot and clever," Howard said passionately. "We can sabotage them or something."

"It may be like Icarus," Raj whispered in warning. "We may fly too close to her radiance and fall to our deaths."

"Cut it out," Leonard cut in. "We're not doing anything to sabotage their relationship, okay?"

Howard stared at him, confused. "Don't you want Penny?"

"Of course, I want Penny, but she doesn't want me," he said, feeling the sting of the words but the sting wasn't as painful as he had expected. "She and I had a conversation, and she made me see some things. She's clearly happy with Sheldon - at least for now. Who are we to mess it up?"

"We're nerds who know Sheldon!"

Leonard shook his head. "Maybe. But soon enough, Penny will pass us on the list of who knows Sheldon best. She may already be there, for all we know. She's scary good at reasoning with him."

"It's terrifying," Howard corrected. "I've been observing, and I think I've finally got the tone of voice down right."

"It's not the tone of voice that reasons with Sheldon, it's Penny. We can't copy her. That's her gift."

"One of her many gifts," Raj said in a daze. "A goddess like her has so many."

"But foresight isn't one of them," Howard said, shrugging. "I don't see how it all works out. He'll drive her insane as he does us. They have no structural integrity."

Leonard sighed, knowing that it was a real possibility. It took a special kind of person to be able to deal with Sheldon on a good day. "Penny's not like us, though. Maybe that will be enough, maybe it won't be. I don't know. 'Cause I don't have foresight, either."

"Wouldn't it be awesome if we did?" Howard's eyes were suddenly bright with ideas. "Can you imagine everything we could do with it?"

Raj gasped. "I could see if my parents will finally get off of my back about everything!"

"I'd know if I meet a hot girl who'll give me all the sex in the world!"

Leonard rolled his eyes.

XxXxXxXxXxX

"This isn't bad, right?" Penny asked, finding his eyes over her wine glass. "Good steak is awesome."

"It is a rare novelty," Sheldon concluded, nodding. He had surprised her with his appetite. For such a lean guy, he could eat a lot. It must be all the nutrients going straight to that big, amazing brain of his. "This establishment has passed my evaluations."

To keep from rolling her eyes, she ate some of her green beans. "I'm sure they'll be so thrilled. And yes, sarcasm."

"That had been my assumption."

"Good job," she praised, swallowing the green beans. "Speaking of a good job, you're not afraid of being seen with me right now?"

Sheldon blinked at her innocently. "Because of your attire?"

"No, not- " she cut herself off, looking down at her dress, hurt. Did she look bad? "What's wrong with how I'm dressed? I look good."

"Affirmative. There is nothing displeasing about your appearance."

"Well… good," she said, off-kilter. "How could you- never mind. I meant that you're a genius Doctor and I'm just a waitress. You're not afraid of being seen with me? Not afraid of who you're… dating? Going out in public with?"

Sheldon peered at her, and to her amazement, he looked confused. "I have 'gone out in public' with Wolowitz and Koothrapali."

Penny blinked. "Oh. I guess when you put it like that… I've got nothing to worry about."

"I am constantly surrounded by my inferiors, but your inferiority is different," he remarked, and she decided to take it as a compliment. "It is not as vexing. I am not afraid of associating myself with you in public."

Taking it as a compliment had been the right call.

She perked up, sipping her wine. "So, no fight-or-flight if you see someone you know while you're out with me?"

"Affirmative."

"Good. So, speaking of fight-or-flight, have you thought about calling your siblings?" she asked curiously. "I'm just asking. We can talk about something else if you want."

"I have considered your postulation."

"Well…? Are you going to call them or not?"

"When I feel inclined to do so."

Penny raised her brows. "So, you're avoiding it? I know talking with siblings sucks. Believe me, I know. I mean, I was so worked up yesterday from talking to Katie that you thought I was sick. And don't even get me started on what Howard was thinking. But I know where she and I stand. I know where Tommy - he's my brother - and I stand. Do you know where you stand with your siblings? With… Gig and Missy?"

"I stand behind them in photographs, for I am taller- "

"No," she corrected, feeling a laugh escape her. "I meant, do you know what your relationship is with your siblings? Is it worth, I don't know, saving or something? Do you want to try being honest with them? For all you know, they may want to talk to you."

"Unlikely. They never wished to converse with me as children."

"But people change, remember? When's the last time you talked to them?"

"Gig: Eleven months and seventeen days. Missy: Eight months and nine days."

"When you talked to them back then, did either one of you hang up the phone while yelling at the other?"

"False."

Penny shrugged. "So, there's a chance. It's your choice if you want to… pursue that chance. I guess that's the right word."

Sheldon's eyes darted away from hers. "They do not possess your ability to understand me."

Despite the sadness of that statement, she felt a little warmth spread through her when he said it. "I didn't understand you immediately, I thought you were crazy at first. It wasn't until I got to know you that I began to understand, but… you know, Sheldon, you're a genius. No one's ever gonna fully understand you."

He was quiet for several moments. "I must further ponder your postulation."

Penny nodded and looked down at her empty plate, switching the subject. "This was a great meal. I'm gonna sleep well tonight."

Sheldon frowned, beginning to look around the restaurant; she suddenly knew he was looking for the waiter. "While the food has been delectable, the service is poor. I must reconsider my evaluations pertaining to this restaurant. My plate has been cleared of sustenance for seven minutes."

Well, at least she could always expect honesty in their relationship.

XxXxXxXxXxX

Eventually, they had moved into the kitchen and become consumed in a heated discussion about what foresight actually is, and how it would be used. And Leonard couldn't remember how it had started.

"I could see everything!" Raj cried out, fiercely pointing his finger at Leonard and Howard. "All of the possible paths one's life could take!"

Leonard rolled his eyes. "No. How many times do we have to go through this?"

"So Howard understands it? A million times!"

"Just because I don't have a Doctorate like you doesn't make me dumber than you, Raj!"

"No, it makes you lazier, you-who-sleeps-with-your-own-cousin!"

Leonard began to laugh while Howard gasped, eyes wide. "I told you that in confidence!"

"Don't blame me, dude," Raj said, pointing at the accumulation of beer bottles on the table. "You're the one who wanted us to start drinking."

"Because you can't understand what foresight is!" Howard exploded. "And I'm so telling your parents about that little accident you told me about!"

"We made a pact!"

"Which you broke when you told Leonard I slept with my cousin!"

Leonard finally cut in, trying to control his laughter. "Wait. Did you willingly sleep with your cousin, or did you find out she was your cousin after you had already slept with her?"

Howard faltered. "She's my second-cousin, and… it was after."

Raj giggled. "If you had had foresight, you could have seen that little path!"

"It's like talking to a wall," Leonard groaned out, rolling his eyes again. He was doing it a lot. "If you have foresight, you can't see everything."

"That's what it is," Raj protested vehemently, pointing a stubborn finger at them. Leonard, if he was stronger, might have reached out and broken it. "Foresight is seeing the future!"

Howard nodded. "Yes, but not everything. You wouldn't be seeing all possible realities!"

"Too bad you didn't see the reality in which you slept with your cousin!"

Leonard immediately grabbed onto Howard as he lunged for Raj, pulling him back. "Take it back!"

"You can't even take it back! You want to go through your family like a common cold!"

Howard squinted obnoxiously, fingers drifting over his temples. "Oh, wait! I'm using foresight now! You know what I see, Raj?"

"What?"

"My foot up your ass! Now take it back!"

"Fine!" Raj snapped, rolling his eyes. "I'm sorry. When I'm drunk, I tend to regress into an asshole."

"It's noticeable," Leonard cut in.

"Apology accepted," Howard muttered. "But I'm still thinking about telling your parents about that accident."

"That's fair, but only if I get to tell your mother about you sleeping with your cousin."

"Now can we get back to the real conversation?" he asked, interrupting what looked like another furious argument. "We need to agree on what foresight actually entails."

"Seeing the future," Raj immediately said.

Leonard nodded. "Okay, we agree on that, right? Foresight entails seeing the future, but you can't see everything."

"No, that's not how it works."

Howard groaned. "We're never going to agree on this, are we? If you see all realities, you're omniscient. That's not having foresight, Raj! Your entire reasoning is hard to listen to. How I can be best friends with a blind man, I'll never know."

"How I can be friends with a non-Ph.D.-holder, I'll never know," Raj shot back, defensive, and Leonard hung his head when Howard's eyes filled with fire once more.

"That's it!" Howard yelled, standing tall. "I'm going to build a guillotine because I'm an awesome engineer and test it out on you! And if you have foresight- "

"You'd have noticed that we've been standing here for, like, ten seconds," Penny's dry voice cut through the apartment.

Leonard jumped, startled, and turned to see Penny - she was so beautiful! - and his roommate standing in the open doorway.

"Finally!" Howard cried out, throwing his arms into the air, all signs of his anger forgotten. "Sheldon can say who's right. He'll be the tie-breaker!"

"We're already the tie-breaker," Leonard reminded, pointing at Raj. "It's already us versus him."

"Then let's rub in how wrong he is by having Sheldon side with us!"

"Sheldon will side with me!" Raj fired back and then he blinked, and Leonard took in Penny's gobsmacked expression. "Hello, Penny," his friend said smoothly and walked towards her. "I haven't had a chance to properly introduce myself- "

Penny interrupted, looking at Raj worriedly. "What the hell is going on? You're talking now, Raj? And are you okay? Wait. Didn't I hear something about a guillotine? Wasn't that the thing from The French Revolution?"

"Affirmative," Sheldon said, finally stepping into the apartment, and Leonard couldn't help but stare at the blue jeans Penny had gotten him to wear. While he had seen it earlier, it still looked so strange. So impossible. "Howard, do you require assistance with the construction of the guillotine? I propose that we test its fatality rate on the mediocrity."

Penny's eyes widened, and she rushed past Raj, grabbing Sheldon's arm. Leonard waited for his roommate to jump away in a panic, but he didn't. "No! You're not building a guillotine, okay?"

"I am being historical."

"I think you mean hysterical."

Sheldon clasped his hands in front of him, head tilted in a condescending manner. "Penny, you must think of the benefits for the human genome- "

Penny merely crossed her arms. "Not happening."

"It would be a missed opportunity- "

"Then at least you'll be missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity. You like balance - there you go."

"But- "

"No."

Sheldon deflated like a devastated child.

Leonard watched the whole thing in awe, dimly noting that he wasn't the only one; he began to see what Howard meant about observing Penny and mimicking what she does and how she talks to Sheldon. Her success rate was astounding.

"That dress is amazing," Raj immediately said, walking to Penny when Sheldon didn't say anything else. "It's revealing but not slutty."

Penny's eyebrows rose. "Um… that's what I was going for. I'm glad somebody at least noticed I look good."

Sheldon frowned. "I complimented your visual appearance."

"That was only after you said I didn't look good."

"You misunderstood."

"Probably," she said, shrugging. "So, what is this, Raj? You can talk to me now?"

"It's the alcohol," Leonard supplied from his position in the kitchen. "It literally loosens his tongue."

"And turns him into a complete jackass," Howard added, ignoring Raj's glare. "Seriously, he's a total dick."

Penny shook her head. "For what it's worth, I like Mute Raj better, Raj. Drunk Raj does seem like a jackass; you're looking at me like I'm a piece of meat."

"Like a goddess," Raj corrected heatedly. "Your splendor is more- "

"I think that's enough, Romeo," Penny cut in, steamrolling him; she turned to look at Leonard. "So, did you guys take teams or something? What does Sheldon have to decide on?"

"What the ability of foresight entails," he informed, looking at Sheldon. "What does foresight entail, Sheldon? Your word decides it all."

"As it always should." Sheldon looked up from his computer. "Foresight entails glimpsing what will happen, not what can."

Howard whooped in jubilation and Leonard wasn't much better while Raj pouted. Penny looked amused by the whole situation and Sheldon went back to his computer.

"Foresight?" Penny asked over Howard's cheers. "You mean, seeing the future, right?"

Leonard turned to her in horror. "We're not having this whole conversation again. But yes."

"How do you know that you guys are right, though? No one can actually see the future, so… it's just guesswork."

"We have proof," Howard assured confidently, grinning.

Penny raised her brows, face pinching; she looked at the beer bottles. "It looks and smells like 80 proof."

Sheldon immediately stiffened, and Leonard paled when he began to sniff the air. "I concur with Penny's assessment." Sheldon turned to him, holding him in that terrible gaze. "Leonard, you have obtained your third strike."

Leonard stared at Penny, distressed. "Why'd you bring that up? Now I have to retake his stupid class!"

She winced. "Sorry."

Howard and Raj high-fived. "Better him than us!"

Sheldon shook his head. "Gloating is unacceptable. You have each- "

Immediately, Leonard watched as Howard and Raj bolted out of the apartment and down the stairs.

"What's that, Sheldon?" Raj's echoing voice drifted into the apartment.

"Yeah!" Howard shouted. "We can't hear you!"

Then all sounds of them were gone.

Sheldon blinked. "Now, they have incurred two strikes. They will join you in re-education, Leonard."

Leonard sighed in relief. At least he wouldn't be alone.

XxXxXxXxXxX

That's it. I hope that you all enjoyed it.

Stay Safe
ButtonPusher