Penny had never been rejected before. It was always her who did the rejecting. She was pretty, right? Maybe not the smartest, certainly not as smart as her genius neighbours, but she certainly wasn't stupid. Right? But here she stood, outside the door of her apartment, hearing the guy she had been dating for the past week, Tim, tell her "it just wasn't going to work."

He told her that they just didn't fit together, he couldn't be with someone who never even went to college. This, again? Why was college so important? She could have finished if she tried. She knew she could, but it didn't matter anymore. She felt tears start to form at the corners of her eyes. If the man standing across from her noticed, he didn't show it. He just continued on, listing all the ways in which him and Penny weren't compatible.

In the end though, it boiled down to this. "I'm too smart for you." he smiled sympathetically and Penny finally started crying. Too smart? She closed her eyes and tried to tell him to leave, but no words came out. She wanted to dissapear, but she was here, this was happening and there was nothing she could do about it...

"Hello, Penny. I need you to-" a familiar bright voice cut through her internal thoughts. Sheldon Cooper. As usual, he was oblivious to the mood of things. She turned to look at him and when he saw her tear stained face, he looked slightly taken aback. He stared at her for a moment before carefully choosing his words.

"Are you... feeling alright?" She could tell he was trying his best to not upset her further and she smiled faintly for his efforts. "Did Howard try to touch you again? I could have a word with him, if you like. I'll tell him if he does it again, he'll be getting a strike..." he trailed off, not making eye contact with her. He was clearly uncomfortable. "No, it's not that, sweetie. It's-"

He finally noticed Tim, standing there, obviously impatient for Sheldon to get lost. "Oh." Sheldon said, clearly unimpressed. "You have a friend. Well, I'll just be leaving then." "No, Sheldon, it's fine! Please stay. Tim was just leaving." She shot a glare at him before turning back to Sheldon, giving him a pleading look.

"Very well. I suppose that's what "friends" do, after all." he smiled slightly, obviously pleased with himself that he was getting better at interacting with Penny. His smile faded as quickly as it came though, and she could tell he was feeling out of place again. "Is this person, the one who made you cry?" he asked Penny, quickly looking over at Tim, as if the guy he was talking about wasn't standing right there. Penny didn't say anything and stared at the floor. Sheldon took a step closer and stared right at Tim. "I'll have you know that it's extremely bad manners to make a girl cry." he said matter of factly. "Even I know that."

Tim sighed loudly and turned to Sheldon. "Look, I don't know who you are, but this is really none of your business. So if you could just get lost, so me and Penny can finish talking-" "I don't think I can do that. Whatever you're saying is obviously upsetting her. It wouldn't be right for me to leave her..." "Of course she's upset, I'm breaking up with her!"

Penny started to cry quietly and Sheldon grew silent. He thought carefully before opening his mouth to speak. "Why would you do that? Penny is attractive by most standards, she's charming, funny..." he looked everywhere except at Penny, avoiding her gaze. "Or so I've been told." "Sure, that's all true, but, not that this is any of your business, but she's stupid. She never even went to College! I can't bring a girl home to my parents who has no future other than waiting on tables her entire life."

Sheldon looked over at Penny, who was still staring at the ground. He felt a need to stand up for her, for some strange reason. She was his friend. He may be allowed to judge her, but this guy certainly wasn't. He started to talk slowly, trying to choose his words carefully.

"I suppose you went to college, then? I'll have you know that Penny is a very intelligent young woman. Not as intelligent as me, mind you, but then again, who is? She may not be book smart, but she's gifted in other areas. What makes you think you're better than her? Because you had a few more years of schooling? I guarantee that I am smarter than you in every way possible, and to be honest, I think you're an idiot, dumping a wonderful girl like Penny."

Tim said nothing and just turned back to Penny, obviously agitated. "Whatever. Listen, I don't have time for this. It's cute that this guy obviously likes you, but I just came here to tell you it's over." Penny ignored him. She was just looking at Sheldon, beaming. "Like her? Don't be perposterous. Penny is my friend, I-" he looked over and Tim was already gone.

He stopped talking and looked around, wondering if what he had said before was out of line. "I'm sorry." he managed to say, still not looking her in the eye. "He was clearly not good enough for you, anyways." She walked over to him, wiping her eyes. "Sheldon, look at me." "Pardon?" "Look at me, please." he slowly, awkwardly lowered his gaze until he was looking her in the eyes. "Thank you. So much." she breathed, and wrapped her arms around him. His body stiffened slightly, obviously not used to physical contact, but eventually he awkwardly put his arms around her as well. "There, there." he said softly.

She pulled back and kissed him lightly on the cheek. "What you said, it really meant a lot to me. I won't forget it." He stared at the ceiling, not knowing what to say, his face had turned slightly red from the kiss. She wondered if he had ever been kissed before?

"I was only telling the truth. Don't try to read anything into it. I'm not exactly a specialist in the area of human interaction, as you know." he said simply, arms still gently wrapped around her. Penny smiled up at him and he dropped his hands to his sides. "You know, for being so young, you really are out of touch sometimes."

She wasn't sure if the warmth she felt was temporary or something more, but as she reached down and took his hand, gentley leading him into her apartment, she didn't really care.

"I don't want to be alone right now. Please stay with me? Just for a while?"

For once in his life, Sheldon had nothing to say as he followed her inside.