A/N Hi all, after a two week break, it's back. I was able to do a bit of catch up, and I'll be doing a bit more. I'll cut the time between chapters to a week and a half between publishing for the next two chapters. That's two in three weeks. I've been cast in a play and while I learn my lines, this should allow me to get three first draft chapters done (one a week, maybe more), getting me to my full buffer.

Chapter 34

Caltech Cafeteria Noon Monday September 24th 2012

The four guys were sitting at the table for lunch, it was great having Howard back again, although they were all getting rather tired of hearing about his trip to space. Raj and Howard both had a meeting to go to, and so had left, while Sheldon and Leonard finished eating.

They were talking about what the plan was for dinner that night, when Alex walked up to the table with her tray. Leonard offered her a seat at the table, and although Sheldon objected, Leonard told her not to pay attention to Sheldon, earning Leonard a glare from him.

She sat down and while she ate, Sheldon peppered her with questions about the various papers he had given her. She tried to answer, but she was laughing and giggling at Leonard, who was making sarcastic comments whenever Sheldon asked a question.

Finally, Sheldon, tired of the jests, just ask if she had found anything yet. She said she hadn't, but she had only looked through about half of the first batch of papers. Then Sheldon asked about the printer he told her to get, but Leonard asked her about her research, and she told him about her thesis on trojan asteroids, while flashing a large smile and twirling her hair.

"Does that include the Lagrange points?" asked Leonard.

"Yes, it does."

"Then you might be interested in a seminar on Wednesday morning," said Leonard. The math department is having one to discuss the calculations of the Lagrange points."

Alex looked down, when she looked back at Leonard, it was with a slight smile, "I'm not familiar with the math department here. Perhaps you can come along with me, to show me where it's located?"

Leonard was thinking about it saying, "I might be able to get…"

"You can't take her on Wednesday morning," Sheldon interrupted. "You're taking off work to go pick up Penny, when she comes home."

Leonard nodded. "I'm sorry Alex," said Leonard, "I can't take you. I have to pick up my girlfriend from the airport that morning. But, if you're still interested, Sheldon can show you the way."

Alex stopped smiling and suddenly stood up, "No, don't worry about it. You'll have to excuse me, I forgot I have to make another call about the printer."

"What do you mean?" said an indignant sounding Sheldon. "You told me you made the call."

"Yes, I made the preliminary call," said Alex. "Now, I have to call about when it will be delivered. They assured me you would have it by tomorrow, a day early. If you'll excuse me now Dr Cooper," then she turned and walked away.

Leonard watched her go, then asked Sheldon, "Did that seem weird to you?"

"Weird, how?"

"Well, she seemed put off, all of a sudden, that didn't seem normal," said Leonard.

"Of course it's normal," said Sheldon, "she does it all the time when we're working together."

"She said goodbye to you, but not me," said Leonard.

"Well of course," said Sheldon, "she works for me, not you. Why would she say goodbye to you if she doesn't work for you? Usually when I give her something to do, she leaves in huff."

Leonard could well understand her leaving in a huff, or being put off with Sheldon, but this seemed different, but he really didn't understand, so he put it out of his mind.

Studio 44, 4PM Monday September 24th 2012

Penny had just finished her last shot of pre-taping. It had been her and Jeanie, for the first three scenes, then Jeanie was done and she went to her dressing room to wait for Penny. Penny's last scene was the first scene she ever had alone with Brent. She had been nervous, she thought how he was creepy most of the time and was afraid it might show, but working on this scene, he was absolutely professional.

The director called, "Cut," Brent said, "Nice work," and he left. Penny stopped by Jeanie's dressing room to tell her she would be about five minutes, then went to her own dressing room, to change and pack up.

A half an hour later, Jeanie and Penny entered their building. As Penny was getting off at her floor, Jeanie asked if she wanted to come up for dinner. Jeanie had some chicken that was close to being past its use by date and was willing to cook for the both of them tonight. It took Penny only a couple of seconds to agree, she was grateful she wouldn't have to cook, then tell Jeanie she'd be up in a half an hour or so.

Jeanie had dinner ready just before six, and they refilled their wine glasses for dinner. During dinner, Jeanie talked about her time home for the weekend, about running into some old friends and how she just mostly lounged around. After dinner, they both cleaned up the dishes, then refilled their glasses and sat on the couch.

"So, you were pretty sharp today," said Jeanie. "You nailed the run throughs, and the pre-tapes. What did you do, study all weekend?"

"Pretty much," said Penny. "On Friday I screwed up pretty bad and ended up drinking too much that night. Then I studied most of Saturday, and all of Sunday. But, I'm still a bit shaky on what some of those symbols mean."

"Don't worry," said Jeanie, "the more you use them, the more familiar with them you will get. At some point, it will be second nature, and then you'll make little changes, to combine the symbols, so there is less writing."

Penny sighed, "I don't know Jeanie, I feel like such an idiot at times. This is a lot more work that I ever thought it would be."

Jeanie laughed, "What, you just thought you would walk into a series and toss off a performance?"

Penny looked downcast, "Well, acting always looked so easy, from the outside. I had no idea of the actual process."

"And yet you wanted to be an actress?"

"Yeah," said Penny, "I think it was more the glamour, than the actual job."

Well, what did you expect when you got to California?" asked Jeanie. "That during the first week, you would walk in, do your first audition, and become this big star?

Penny gave a rueful chuckle and said, "No, I was more realistic than that, although not much more realistic. I once told Leonard my plan was to be a big movie star in six months."

Jeanie laughed, "Did you have a backup plan?"

"Yeah," said Penny, "and I told him the backup plan was to become a TV star if the movie thing didn't work."

"Looks like you have hit your backup plan," said Jeanie with a giggle.

"But, it took much longer than six months, and I still don't know what I'm doing."

"Well, it didn't show today," said Jeanie, "you hit everything just fine."

"Because of all the studying I did this weekend," said Penny. "As I said, almost all weekend, but I don't have that much time, especially for the changes, during the week."

"I told you, don't worry about it," said Jeanie. "Those run throughs during the week are rehearsals, remember? That's what they are for, to perfect the show, so when we actually tape it, it goes well. You seem to be doing exactly that."

"As for the rest, you just keep working on it, and working on it, and it will become second nature. Earlier you said you studied almost all Saturday, did you go out to dinner?"

"Actually," said Penny, "I ate here and went out dancing Saturday night."

"What," said Jeanie looking shocked, "you went out all by yourself? The girl I had to go along with, just a couple of weeks ago, because she couldn't use the subway by herself? That girl?"

"Yeah," said Penny, "I went to a place called 'Ph-D'. I had to laugh at the name, since almost all of my friends have a PhD. I had a few drinks, danced a bit, but got tired of getting hit on, or attempts to feel me up or grab my ass. I finally sat down and drank a bit telling the guys I wasn't interested, then came home. I was kinda drunk, but not really bad, since I was back studying on Sunday morning."

"Wow, is that your first time out by yourself?"

"I hadn't really thought about it," said Penny. "I mean, I've run to the store myself, and gone down to the SAG office, but, yeah, that is the first time I've gone out on my own, for something other than eating or work."

"The only bad thing was I missed a call from Leonard," said Penny. "Since I had never gone out on my own, he was worried something happened to me. When he called Sunday, and I told him where I had been, he was relieved. I guess I should have called him to let him know, but it was kind of spontaneous on my part."

"Well, you evidently did enough studying this weekend," said Jeanie. "So, you deserved so time to blow off some steam. You did so well today, and I don't see a problem coming up tomorrow. So, congratulations, you are getting it."

Penny smiled, "Thank you. Coming from you Jeanie, I'll take that as a high compliment."

"I'm not that important in the big scheme of things," said Jeanie. "Just glad you had a good time Saturday night."

"Oh, I forgot to tell you," said Penny. "I almost didn't get in, but one of the guys at the door recognized me from the show. He persuaded the bouncer to let me in."

Jeanie chuckled, "See, it pays to become a star, you get into places you wouldn't normally be allowed. Although that reminds me of Groucho Marx's comment."

"What's that?"

Jeanie smiled, "I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member."

Both Jeanie and Penny laughed, each finished their wine, then went and poured another glass.

Studio 44, 10:30PM Tuesday September 25th 2012

Penny was sitting in Jeanie's dressing room, waiting for her to finish changing. Penny had brought her luggage, bag, and purse with her. The cast was going to Jake's Saloon to have a few drinks, as usual, after a taping, and Penny had arranged for a car to pick her up at Jake's and take her to the airport, for her trip back to California.

It wasn't long before Jeanie came out and she grabbed Penny's bag and purse, to help relieve Penny a little bit, making it easier to walk to Jake's. They found their group back at their normal table and Penny put her luggage and bag, which contained her computer, behind Jim and Kelli.

Kelli had already ordered wine for both Jeanie and Penny, although Penny requested a menu, to get something to each before her flight. She ordered a burger and fries and then they all started talking about how the taping went.

Jeanie said, "You nailed it again today Penny, like yesterday."

"Yes, in some ways you have," said Kelli, "You haven't had a problem the last couple of days, with the mechanics, but we seem to have to run it a couple of times to get the right reaction out of you."

"Yes, I know," said Penny sadly, "I guess I've just been putting a bit of pressure on myself to get the lines and blocking right, and have forgot about the emotion and facial expressions."

"You worry about the acting, and learning the mechanics as you go," said Jim. "You seem to be picking it up, but remember, we selected you for your ability to make sarcastic comments and your facial expressions. Don't pressure yourself to the point where you forget the reasons we hired you, OK?"

Penny nodded and her food came, so while everyone talked around her, she ate her burger and fries. For her second round, she ordered a soda, then for the next round, a glass of water. By then, it was almost one AM, and Jake's was closing.

They all finished their drinks, and headed out of the bar, to wait with Penny for the car that would take her to JFK. Jim, Kelli, Jeanie and Penny were all waiting there talking, when Brent walked up, "Goodnight everyone, see you next week. By the way, great job tonight, Penelope, see you all later."

Jeanie leaned into Penny and whispered, "He didn't hit on you."

Penny Whispered back, "I know, and he's been nice and complimentary to me. You think my comments finally got through to him?"

"I don't know," said Jeanie, "notice he didn't even have a date, or a pick up with him tonight, so who knows."

Just then the car pulled up, and while the driver loaded Penny's luggage, Penny gave hugs and said goodbye to Jim and Kelli, then hugged Jeanie and said goodbye to her. Penny got into the car and Jeanie called out, "See you next Tuesday, I'll have your script for you, bye."

Penny, waved through the window, then closed it as the car accelerated off, her first leg on her way home to California.

LAX, 7:30 AM Wednesday September 26th 2012

The plane landed and Penny took out her phone, and noticed a text message from Gail Meador to call her as soon as she got in. It was 7:30, which Penny thought was a bit early, but the message did say as soon as she got in.

Penny dialed the number and after seven rings, a very sleepy voice said, "Hello?"

Penny said, "Is this Gail?"

"Yes," there was a pause, "oh my god, it's only 7:30 who the hell is this?"

"Gail, its Penelope Jensen," said Penny apologetically, "I'm sorry it's so early, but you said to call as soon as I got in."

"Oh, yeah, sorry," said Gail, "you caught me just waking up. Anyway, I have you booked on "The Late Late Show", with Craig Ferguson. I've been getting requests from his show and Leno about getting someone from the show on their programs. CBS would really be happy if you went on, after all they are our network. They want you on tonight, before the show airs tomorrow."

"Wow," said Penny excitedly, "Craig Ferguson? Of course I'll do it. I may have to take a nap though."

Penny heard Gail chuckle, "No Penelope, it tapes at six PM, at CBS Television Studios, You need to be there at four. Do you have a hair and makeup person?"

"No, I can get it myself."

"Let's see," said Gail, "I have a couple of very good, but rather new hair and makeup people. How about I send them over and they can do your hair and makeup for the show? If you like them, maybe you can look into using them as your makeup and hair people on a more permanent basis. You know, for award shows, or charity events, things like that. Do you have an outfit to wear?"

This was all going quite fast for Penny, but she managed to get out, "Yes I'll try those two for hair and makeup, no I don't have an outfit."

"OK, I'll text you a few pictures of some outfits a little after nine," said Gail. "Pick one of them out and I'll send it along to the show with the two people, and it will be there in your dressing room in time for you."

"OK," said Penny, "is there anything else?"

"I'll probably think of something," said Gail, "and if I do, I'll call or text you."

"Thanks, Gail," said Penny, "Talk to you later."

"Ok, Penny," said Gail, "I'll call around two PM, bye."

They both hung up, just as the plane pulled up to the gate. Penny got her bag and purse and a few minutes later, was walking off the plane onto the jetway. A few minutes after that, she was hugging Leonard, who had been waiting just past the security checkpoint.

They collected Penny's single piece of luggage and were soon on the way to Pasadena.

As they drove, Leonard and Penny talked about her flight, how she felt, and finally Leonard said, "I've got it all planned out for you today. Brunch at Marston's, then I have two meetings to attend, I'll get off early to come back to the apartment, then we can get ready for dinner…"

"Slow down Leonard," said Penny, "as I was getting off the plane, I got a call. I have to be at a CBS studio at four, I'm going to be on "The Late, Late Show" with Craig Ferguson."

"So, we can't go out for dinner," said Leonard, sounding disappointed.

"No, no," said Penny, "we can go out, we just have to do it after the taping. They wanted someone from our show, and I'm the only one here in California. They want me on tonight, be fore the show tomorrow."

"But don't worry," said Penny, "I'll do the show and then we can go find dinner, then, when we get home, I'm sure we'll figure out something else we can do."

Leonard grinned at Penny, "OK, but I have other things planned over the weekend, so just remember that."

Penny reached over and rubbed his arm, smiling at him and nodding.