A/N Well, the last two weeks have validated my idea to get quite a few chapters ahead, before publishing. I've been struggling with a chapter, and finally finished it, after two weeks (I usually take 3-5 days to write a chapter. That's not as amazing as it sounds as I have the whole thing outlined). I've published three chapters since I started the troublesome chapter (it's 44, if you must know). It's also about time to do another disclaimer, so I should. But, I'm quite sure that the people associated with TBBT are well aware that I don't own anything they have created and that many of the characters here were created by the other author. Which means, I'm not really sure what I should be disclaiming. Anyway, I'll quit running the keys on my keyboard, and let you all get on with reading.

Chapter 26

Cal Tech, 7 AM, Monday September 3rd 2012

Leonard was in early to prepare for a Laser run. He was also scheduled to meet with his four grad students today and tomorrow. He was trying to get as much done as possible, so he could spend time with Penny, as she was due home on Wednesday.

He had a meeting to attend on Wednesday afternoon, but he thought he could get everything else finished by coming in early, and staying late. He was also scheduled to talk to Geoff Whatney at eight AM, which seemed fair. As he was in the UK, by the time they finished the call, and Geoff finished getting all the data, he would have to stay late, while Leonard was coming in early.

Leonard set the laser, then fired it. Looking at the computer screen, he could see the bloom on the target. It was a few micrometers left and low. He made the adjustments, and fired it again. This time it was closer, but still a micrometer or so left of the target. Another slight adjustment, another burst of laser light, and the beam was perfectly aligned.

He removed the alignment block, and replaced it with the actual material he was going to use in the run. After securing it, he looked at the clock and saw it was 7:30. He decided he could run down to the cafeteria, pick up a bear claw, a fresh cup of coffee, and still be back in time for Geoff's call. He turned off the lab lights, closed and locked the door, and started walking to the cafeteria.

Studio 44, 9:30 AM, Monday September 3rd 2012

Penny was sitting in her dressing room, drinking coffee and studying her script. Her and Jeanie had arrived early, Jeanie having to have a costume changed. At least this morning, she wasn't hung over, and her notes in her script were fairly neat for a change.

She had struggled during the run throughs on Friday for several reasons. She was hung over, she had a huge headache, and she was a bit foggy early in the morning, from lack of coffee. Not to mention, she was distracted by the fact she had missed her nightly call with Leonard, because she had been too drunk to remember. Combine all of this, and she just wasn't getting it.

Another reason, was the rather sloppy way she had written in her movement and director notes. There were spots where her notes confused her, and so she made errors during the run throughs. Her and Jeanie had spend the weekend going through Penny's script, cleaning up the notes and movement.

Jeanie also gave Penny some more shortcuts to use in describing furniture. She pointed out that most of the furniture in the show's apartment, could be described by one or two letters, and identified by putting a circle around the letters. Jeanie spent Sunday afternoon drilling Penny, by giving her a simulated script, then telling Penny her blocking, and giving her very little time to write it down. After a couple of hours, Penny was doing much better at writing it down fast and neatly.

Upon arriving at the studio, Penny was given five pages of changes, which she was able to replace in her script, transfer her blocking, and director notes, all in about five minutes.

At ten, all the actors met on the stage floor, where the days schedule had been gone over. They did their two run-throughs, Penny actually got through them with no problems. The neater writing, and intensive study of the script over the weekend, had been just what she needed. Even the changes went well for her.

After the run through, she checked the schedule, and found she had no scenes for pre-taping, so she was released for the day. She found Jeanie, who told her she would be spending some time in the afternoon, and some time tonight, shooting on location with Dave, so she told Penny to go ahead and leave.

Penny thanked her, went to her dressing room, packed up her bag and left for her apartment. She was anxious to get home, because she had made plans to pack, so she would be ready to go to JFK. She was going to Jake's after tomorrow night's taping, and had arranged for a car to pick her up at closing time.

Studio 44, 10:30 AM, Tuesday September 4th 2012

Penny was reading her script, eating a bear claw and drinking her coffee. They were working on two scenes she was not in, so she went back to her dressing room to study and wait for them to finish the scenes, so they could start their run throughs. She looked at her luggage, she only had one carryon as she still had clothes in Pasadena. Seeing her luggage, she started thinking of seeing Leonard tomorrow.

Looking at the clock, she thought she would call, and catch him before he left for work. Pulling out her phone, she entered the number. She heard the tones, and after the sixth, thought she had missed him, then a breathless Leonard said, "Hello?"

"Hi Leonard," said Penny excitedly.

"Penny, it's so good to hear you," said Leonard happily. He asked, suddenly sounding guarded, "Is something wrong?"

"No, no, just wanted to call you before you left for work," said Penny. "You will be there at 7:30 tomorrow morning, right?"

"Of course," said Leonard, "does a proton have a positive charge?"

"Huh?" said Penny.

"You know," said Leonard, "proton…positive charge…like the elect…never mind… you don't think I would miss that, do you?"

Penny smiled, "No, I wouldn't, but I was looking at my luggage, and thought of you, so I thought I'd call before you left for work."

Leonard chuckled, "I'm already at work. I'm trying to get as much done as I can, so we have as much time together for the rest of the week."

"Oh, OK," said Penny, "I never thought of that…"

Suddenly the loudspeaker blared out, "Penelope, please come to the women's apartment."

"Sorry, sweetie," said Penny, "I have to go. See you in 23 and a half hours."

Leonard laughed, "Yep, see you then. I love you."

"I love you too, Leonard," said Penny, "bye."

"Bye," said Leonard.

They both ended the call, Penny heading to the stage, Leonard back to working on the laser.

Studio 44, 11:00, Tuesday September 4th 2012

Penny had removed her costume, carefully hanging it up. She sat down and pulled a makeup wipe out of the box, wiping off all of the makeup on her face. She then washed her face, and packed up her bag, which she then put in her carryon luggage, closed and locked her dressing room, then headed down the stairs.

She met Jeanie in her dressing room, and they both left the studio for Jake's saloon. They met Kelli and Jim at their usual table, Dave was there as usual, but his wife wasn't with him tonight. Penny ordered a soft drink, and a crispy chicken salad. She didn't want to drink, because of the flight, and she did want something to eat, as it was a non-meal flight.

Her food and drink came, along with Jeanie's drink and they started talking about how they felt things went with the taping. Jim and Kelli were even happier than they were the previous two weeks. Both of them complimented Penny on getting it yesterday and today. They were also asking Penny what her plans were in California.

Penny said she wasn't sure, but she was going to spend a lot of time with Leonard. Kelli reminded her of the two promos she was supposed to tape on Friday at Warner Brothers. Penny smiled and told her it was on her phone and she would be there a half hour early. Jim and Kelli thanked her.

Another round was ordered, and they talked some more of the taping, then Jim mentioned they were just over two weeks before the first episode aired. So, the talk turned to how everyone thought the show would do. Jim and Kelli were both optimistic. Jeanie and Dave thought it had a good chance. Penny, not being in the business very long, declined to give an opinion other than she hoped it would go well.

Then they started talking about what the rest were planning for the week. Dave and his wife were heading to Western North Carolina, where they had a cabin in the mountains. Jeanie was heading to Boston and Jim and Kelli had a meeting tomorrow at CBS, then they were flying to LA also, to pitch another show idea to Warner Brothers. Suddenly, Penny felt someone rubbing her neck and shoulders, and knew immediately who it was.

"Hey, Penelope," said Brent, "That offer of help is still open. You looked kinda rough the end of last week."

"No, Brent," said Penny, "Jim and Kelli just told me I was fine yesterday and today. So, I'll stick with Jeanie."

"Suit yourself," said Brent as he walked off.

Penny turned to Jeanie, "What is his problem?"

"I don't know," said Jeanie, "but next time, tell him to keep his paws off of you. You don't need to take that."

Penny nodded, then heard "Last Call".

Jim got another round and they sat around for a half hour, finishing their talk, then they all got up to leave. The car Penny had arranged for, was to pick her up here at 1:15 AM. It would take about an hour to get to JFK, and check in, which would give her a couple of hours before her flight.

Dave left, but Jim, Kelli and Jeanie waited with Penny until her car arrived. She got hugged by the three of them, told them she would see them in a week, and entered the car.

Forty-five minutes later the car pulled up at Terminal Five. She paid and tipped the driver, then exited the vehicle carrying her bag and her carryon. Entering the terminal she searched for checkin, and not surprisingly for this hour, found one line for the two clerks. She checked in, and then walked down the concourse, looking for security.

Finding it, she took off her shoes, put everything in two tubs, and walked through the detector. She was fine, she grabbed her shoes and put them on, got her carryon, and her bag. It had taken her all of ten minutes to get through security. She had two thoughts, There's something to be said for traveling at this hour. I'm glad I didn't have to punch the officer like Amy did.

She walked down the concourse and stopped at a Starbucks. She got a latte and a bottle of water, then took off to find her gate. After a short walk, she found it and took a seat near the walkway.

She had gotten a first class seat on Jeanie's recommendation. "After all," said Jeanie, "you're going to be on that plane for six hours, you might as well be comfortable, and they are paying you extra." Penny was planning on sleeping on the flight, her seat would recline, so, for now, she put her earplugs in, and was listening to some music, while playing some Angry Birds, just killing time until it would be time to board. Looking at her watch, it was 2:30, so she had another 90 minutes or so. She smiled thinking it would only be eight more hours before she saw Leonard.

Apartment 4A, 11:30 PM Tuesday September 4th 2012

Leonard was ready for bed. He had finished brushing his teeth, washed his face, and was now turning down his bed. Looking at his clock, he was wondering if Penny was at the airport now. He couldn't help himself, so he got his phone, and dialed Penny's number.

Penny was surprised by the sound of the call overriding her music. She looked at the screen and was even more surprised to find it was Leonard calling her. She accepted the call and said, "Hello Leonard, is everything all right?"

"Hi Penny," said Leonard, "yes everything is fine, why do you ask?"

"I just didn't expect a call from you, I sent all the information a couple days ago and we talked about it yesterday."

"I know," said Leonard, "I just wanted to see if you were at the airport, before I went to bed."

"Yep," said Penny, "I'm here, just waiting. We don't start boarding for another hour or so. But, I came right from our stop at Jake's Saloon after the taping."

"What's Jake's Saloon?"

"Not important," said Penny, "I'll tell you about it when I get out there."

"Come on," said Leonard, "we have time, what is it?"

"It's just a place the cast and producers stop for a drink after the taping," said Penny. "Anyway, I came to the airport from there so I have some time to kill. So, I'm listening to music, and playing Angry Birds."

"Oh, OK," said Leonard, "I'll let you go, so I can get to sleep. Just checking on you is all, have a good flight, and I'll see you in the morning. I love you."

"I love you, too," said Penny. "I'm so excited to get home. I can't wait to see you, goodbye, Leonard."

"Goodbye, Penny," said Leonard. "Remember, don't eat anything were going out for brunch when you get here."

"I won't, see you later."

They both disconnected, with Penny going back to her game, and Leonard setting his alarm, and getting into bed.

Apartment 4A, 5:30 AM, Wednesday September 5th 2012

Leonard woke up and turned off his alarm, got out of bed, and went to the bathroom for his morning rituals. He got a shower and afterward got dressed and then went to the kitchen, where he poured coffee into his travel cup. He took a sip and checked the time. Just before six, I've got about 15 minutes. He walked to his bedroom, to get his wallet then back to the kitchen, grabbed his coffee cup and put the top on, walked to the door, and grabbing his keys, left to go to the airport.

It was going to be about a forty-five minute drive at this time of the morning. He wanted to have enough time to park and be at the security entrance of Terminal five, in time to be waiting for Penny to come out. With that thought, he was smiling while leaving the building.

Flight 23, 6:15 AM Wednesday September 5th 2012

Penny's alarm went off, and she quickly turned it off. She yawned and stretched. I'm going to have to remember to thank Jeanie, thought Penny, I feel so much better than if I had to have slept sitting up. She signaled a stewardess and after a quick request, she brought Penny a cup of coffee and a warm wash cloth.

Penny ran the cloth over her face, feeling the moisture and she then applied her face and hand lotion. She applied minimal makeup, then set back and enjoyed her coffee. She was able to get another cup before starting their descent into LA. They were close enough to the ground now, that she recognized some of the landmarks of the cities to the East of LA. Then she saw the buildings of downtown LA, the Hollywood sign and the western suburbs.

They were on final approach and the plane was soon on the ground. It got to the terminal, and stopped. Penny collected her bag and her carryon. She also enjoyed being at the front of the plane and she was one of the first passengers off. She walked up the jetway. Leaving the jetway, she looks for the signs to guide her to the security checkpoint. She walked down the concourse, ignoring most everything and finally arrived at and walked through the security checkpoint.

She was looking for Leonard, and hadn't yet seen him, when she heard "Penny". She turned to the sound, looked and yelled, "Leonard!" They both ran to each other, and on meeting just hugged each other, hanging on. After a minute they broke, kissed, then went back to hugging. Finally, Leonard pulled back and said, "Come on, let's go home."