A/N Here's the next chapter. This is a rather long chapter. When I was writing the first draft, I made an error with the time/location that starts every scene. I had to go back and rewrite several chapters, to get several scenes I missed, due to the time mistake, back into the proper place. I ended up moving some things back, pulling some things forward, and this chapter (and the previous) ended up being rather long. The next few are back to their normal length. And yes, a certain TV writer was consulted and approved parts of this chapter.

Chapter 43

Alex's Apartment, Pasadena 5:30 PM Wednesday October 17th 2012

Leonard was at the door of the apartment building in East Pasadena. He pushed the button marked "Jensen" and was rewarded with the buzz of the door lock. He opened the door and took the stairs to the third floor. Half-way up, he chuckled to himself, he hadn't even thought of using the elevator, which worked here. Finding Alex's apartment, he knocked on the door and waited.

Alex opened the door and invited him in. She was wearing a pair of very short exercise shorts, and a blue spaghetti string top, that fit tightly and displayed her cleavage.

Leonard tried not to stare at it, as he handed her the box of tapes. She turned and set the box down then turned back to Leonard and hugged him, saying, "Thank you."

A surprised Leonard left his arms out, not sure what to do with them. After several seconds, Alex broke the hug and walked toward her couch, Leonard was watching her as she walked. When she got to the couch, she sat down and picked up a plate of food.

It was then that Leonard noticed quite a few boxes of Thai food scattered on the table. Alex was looking at Leonard and said, "Do you want to join me to eat?"

"No, no thank you," said Leonard.

"You sure?" said Alex, "I got way more than I should have, so please stay and after we eat, we could have a few drinks. I could also start helping you with organizing your work."

Leonard was getting nervous, "No, sorry, I'm going out with Penny for dinner tonight."

Alex took a drink, looking at Leonard over the rim of the glass. She lowered the glass, and still looking at him said, "Well, yeah, OK. How about after she goes back to New York? I could help you with organizing your work, and then you could stay for dinner, a few drinks and whatever else, how's that?"

It finally dawned on Leonard what Alex meant about having a few drinks, and that Alex's comments over the last few weeks, were her being flirtatious. He was trying to say something but all that came out was a mumble. Finally, he was able to croak out, "I gotta go." With that Leonard hurried to the door, and left quickly.

Alex watched the door close, disappointment written on her face.

The 101, Pasadena 7:00 PM Wednesday October 17th 2012

Penny was on the way home from the taping of The Tonight Show, with Jay Leno in the limo and was thinking about her day. She was a bit disappointed as it hadn't gone as expected, nor was it like the first few times she had come home.

She prepared for the taping by taking a shower. She had blow dried her hair, then just put it up, knowing it was going to be done at the studio.

She had looked forward to seeing Sheila and Mindy to do her hair and makeup, and they were also bringing her a blouse and pants, along with a dress for her to decide on what to wear. She was also thinking about her lunch interview tomorrow, and she had gotten a call from Gail who wanted her to come to Warner Brothers on Friday to tape some new promos.

The taping went real well, it seems she had a knack for doing talk shows. The audience reacted enthusiastically when she was introduced, Jay was laughing at her stories about the show, and she managed to make her clip intro really funny and it was well received.

Jay had come by to offer some nice comments for her performance on the show, then wished her good luck. After the show, the women were laughing and giggling with each other, until the limo dropped the other two women off first, before heading to Penny's apartment building.

She was not thinking about the other parts of her day,

I wish Leonard was there to pick me up this morning. I didn't mind Amy picking me up, that wasn't really all that bad. After all, I've been missing my California friends, more and more, and wished I could spend more time with them, when I'm home. But, between spending time with Leonard, and the requests to be on talk shows, interviews, and promos, there just isn't enough time.

Now, I have to deal with that bitch, who was flirting with Leonard, at the university this morning. She smiled, I have to give him credit, he wasn't reacting as if he was interested. Her smile disappeared at the next thought, was that because he wasn't interested, or he just didn't know she was flirting with him?

At least we were able to have our normal brunch, before going back to the apartment, for some actual sex, before he had to go back to work.

She was still thinking about Leonard and that woman. She sighed, I'll have to talk to Leonard about her. I have to find out if he knows what that woman is doing. If he doesn't, I'll have to explain to he, that she is flirting with him. He can be so clueless sometimes.

The limo stopped in front of the apartment building. She put on her jacket, picked up her purse and her bag with her computer, and left the limo, thanking the driver. She entered the building and started up the three flights of stairs.

Apt 4A, Pasadena 7:15 PM Wednesday October 17th 2012

Leonard had been checking the data he had gotten from Geoff this morning, when he heard Penny's door close. He put away his files, walked across the hall, and was now standing outside of the door of 4B. He knew he had to tell Penny what had happened this afternoon, along with Alex's actions over the last few weeks, but was still uncertain on how to begin. Well, waiting out here isn't going to solve the problem. He opened the door, and walked in.

"Penny?"

"I'm in the bedroom," said Penny, "I'll be right out."

He walked to the table and was looking out of the window, when Penny walked out of the bedroom. She had a white t-shirt and jeans on. She walked up to Leonard, and after a short hug, she kissed him.

Penny knew something was wrong, "Sweetie, what's wrong?"

"Nothing," said Leonard, "turning away and going to the refrigerator."

"Come on Leonard," said Penny, "I can tell. You didn't really hug me back and you definitely weren't into the kiss, so what gives?"

"You want some wine?"

"While I do want some wine," said Penny, "I want you to tell me what's wrong. Remember the deal before I left for New York. We talk about what is bothering us?"

Leonard pulled out an open bottle and poured two glasses. After he put the bottle away, he picked up the glasses and said, "Let's go sit on the couch." '

He put the glasses on the coffee table, then sat on one end of the couch, while Penny sat in the middle, looking at him.

He tried to start several times, but couldn't figure out what to say. Finally, he though he would approach the subject from the side. "Ok, I want you to know that I didn't do anything, and so you don't have to get mad at me."

"Let me guess," said Penny with a wolfish grin, "you finally figured out that Alex was hitting on you."

Leonard was shocked, and said, "How did you know?"

"I saw you two this morning in the cafeteria," said Penny. "Hell, even Amy saw it."

"Wait a minute," said Leonard, "you were spying on me?"

"No, we weren't," said Penny. "When you weren't in your lab, we came to the cafeteria. I saw her twirling her hair the whole time, laughing at everything you said."

"What do those things have to do with hitting on me?"

"Oh, Leonard," said Penny, "you can be so naive. When a woman plays with her hair when she's talking to a guy, it's an indication that she's attracted to him, and wants him to notice her. As for her laughing, I love you, but you aren't funny enough to have her laugh at everything you say."

"Is that all you know?"

"That's all I know for sure," said Penny. "But, I suspect she's probably made some comments over the last couple of weeks, probably just some subtle hints that you didn't pick up on."

"Yeah," said Leonard, "after this afternoon, I thought about it some and remembered a couple of things. One time she mentioned how she was sad because she was alone and kept hinting she didn't like it. Another time she was saying she didn't like eating dinner alone, when I mentioned I was alone, she kept saying it would be nice to eat dinner with someone."

"Hey, wait a minute," said Leonard, "you said you knew what she was doing, but this morning, you were really nice to her, how come?"

"A couple of reasons," said Penny. "She really wasn't doing anything outright, so I really couldn't say anything. Besides, I thought it would be rougher on her if I kissed you, hugged you, or, like when I whispered to Amy, and Alex could hear, that I couldn't wait to get you alone, in bed. I could see it pissed her off. She was flirting with you, but I was taking you home and I was going to make sure she understood who you belonged to."

"Then you don't know about this afternoon?" said Leonard.

"Wait," said Penny frowning, "what happened this afternoon?"

"Well," said Leonard, "before you showed up today, she asked me to bring Sheldon's tapes over to her apartment. But, before that, I was complaining about having to organize all my notes, especially the ones I just got from Geoff. And she offered to help, When I said I didn't need help, and besides, I couldn't pay her, she said it didn't matter."

Penny stared at Leonard, "Ok, Leonard, tell me what she did to finally make it clear to you that she wasn't just being friendly."

Leonard looked away, That's my Leonard, thought Penny, as she could see he was struggling with it. "Tell me Leonard."

"When I took over Sheldon's tapes over to her, she invited me to stay for dinner and I reminded her I was going out to dinner with you. She simply said that after you went back to New York, we could have dinner, and then sit together for drinks and watch a movie or two…and…ah…ah"

"What else, Leonard?"

"And, whatever else."

"What the fu…," Penny started.

"Look, Penny…"

"What did you say?" demanded Penny.

"I was so flustered I couldn't even say anything to her," said Leonard, "I just left. Later, I texted her and made it clear I had no interest in her sexually, and that you were my girlfriend, and we should only talk when it had to do with work."

Penny grinned at him, "Is that because you knew I would go all Nebraska on you?"

Leonard grinned back at her, "That thought did occur to me."

"I'm glad I didn't know that before meeting her today," said Penny, "I would have gone all Nebraska on her ass."

"I don't know," said Leonard. "I seem to remember you not doing all that well the last time your tried it with that woman on the fifth floor."

Penny glared at Leonard, "Do I need to remind you of what I did to that guy that stole Sheldon's make believe stuff?"

"No, no, no," said Leonard. "I retract that. But, why didn't you say something to me this morning, at brunch?"

"There was no reason to," said Penny. "I knew what she was up to, but you weren't reacting as if you were interested. That conversation in the cafeteria would have been much different, for the both of you, if I had thought you were flirting back. I was dead serious on what I told you before I left. I'm not putting up with ANY fooling around. You do it, we're done."

Leonard was quiet.

"What, Leonard?" said Penny. "You two haven't…"

"No, no, no. I have to admit it was fun having her paying attention to me," said Leonard, "laughing at my lame jokes. It was nice having other women pay attention to me, not that I would react to it."

Penny was again glaring at him.

"Cool down, Penny," said Leonard. "Remember when you other guys used to flirt with you when we were out? You didn't act on any of it, but I could tell you were enjoying the attention, hell, you were flirting back, and you were smiling the whole time."

Penny stared at him, "Hey, we're not talking about me, we're talking about you and Alex."

"And I'm just telling you it made me feel good, like it appeared it made you feel good, but notice I told her not to bother with me anymore."

Penny still didn't look mollified, "OK, fine, I get that, and yes, I noticed you didn't act on it. But, you just remember what I told you. Do not put your hands, lips, tongue, or any other part of your body on or in another woman, you got that?"

"You and food, that's it. It should have been obvious at my reaction to Alex," said Leonard.

"Ok, yeah, fine, it was obvious. You did good by not reacting, is that what you want me to say?"

"Penny," said Leonard softly, "are you insecure about this?"

Penny didn't say anything.

"So, you are insecure about this."

"Yes, Leonard," said Penny, "I'm insecure about this, you happy now?"

Leonard said, "Well, yeah, because…"

"What the hell…"

Leonard chuckled, "I shouldn't say I'm happy, but, you are always so sure of yourself, especially when it comes to our relationship. I'm the one that is always insecure, worrying about if you are going to stay, so to have you feel insecure feels like we are both invested in the relationship."

"Remember when I said I was insecure about you flirting, because I think you want something better than an asthmatic nerd? And how you always talk about how you aren't worried about me running off, like I'm the one that has to worry about it."

Penny looked away, "Yeah, so."

"Well, I feel good because this just shows me that you are worried about losing me. Which means we both worry about the other person, but each of us has no intention of running off."

"And, that means what?"

"I think this is why you keep telling me no fooling around. You love me and don't want to lose me, but just because you don't want to lose me, doesn't mean you don't have limits. Just to let you know, that works both ways. It's one of my limits also. If you don't want me, tell me, and then you are free to do what you want, don't fool around on me."

Penny looked sheepish, "Yeah, you have this all figured out, don't you? Yes, I love you. Yes, I don't want to lose you. And, yes, fooling around is a limit of what I will allow. But I guess that it makes sense that you feel the same, right?"

"Yes," said Leonard. "it does. Now, is that enough of that particular subject for tonight?"

Penny nodded.

"So, how did your show go?"

"Come on, I'll tell you at dinner," said Penny. "Where are you taking me?"

"Taking you?" said Leonard with mock indignation. "You're the rich Hollywood star, appearing on Leno's show, getting a lunch interview tomorrow, where are you taking me?"

"I think I can afford In and Out Burger," said Penny with a laugh.

"Yeah," scoffed Leonard, "I think you can take me to that Italian place on the strip. At least that's where I'm driving to."

Apt 4B, Pasadena 7:15 AM Thursday October 18th 2012

Penny heard the shower running and rolled over to look at the clock. Well, Leonard has to be in at nine, and I don't have to get up until then. She rolled back over and fell back asleep.

Forty-Five minutes later Penny felt herself being kissed, and opened her eyes, seeing Leonard looking down at her. "I'm leaving," said Leonard, "just wanted to say goodbye and have a good lunch."

"Goodbye, sweetie," said Penny, "have a good day."

"I'll try," said Leonard. "Remember, everyone will be over tonight to watch the show. Amy and Sheldon will be picking up the food and Raj, Howard and Bernadette will be over around seven."

"I know," said Penny, "what time will you be home?"

"Around six," said Leonard.

"Good, I can tell you about my lunch," said Penny. "Kiss me goodbye."

Leonard leaned over, and kissed Penny again. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back. He finally pulled away, smiled at her, and left the apartment, to pick up Sheldon before driving to Caltech. An hour later, when Penny's alarm when off, she rolled over, shut it off, and got out of bed to start getting ready for her lunch and interview.

Apt 4B, Pasadena 6:15 PM Thursday October 18th 2012

Penny heard the lock and looked up in time to see Leonard walk through the door. They smiled at each other and Leonard walked over to Penny and gave her a kiss. She said, "Do you want a glass of wine?"

"Sure."

Penny got up and poured a glass for Leonard while he sat down at the table. She brought the glass to him, and he said, "Thanks, how did your lunch go, with, with, what was her name?"

"Her name is Jessica Radloff," said Penny, "it was so much fun. She is so funny."

"So what questions did she ask you?"

"That's just it," said Penny, "she didn't really ask that many questions. We just had lunch and talked. I felt real comfortable with her, she really listened to what I was saying."

"She told me about how she got her job, what she did before this job, where she was from. Then I would tell her the same things about me, although I talked a lot more than she did. Maybe that's why she didn't have to ask many questions, well she did ask questions about the show."

"We giggled a lot," said Penny. "I told you she was funny and she thought I was funny. She said the article will be online next week, I'm not quite sure on which day. But, I can't really wait to see it. She was just so nice and I'd really like to just hang out with her."

"Well," said Leonard, "I'm glad it went so well. When it comes to the show, you seem to be doing well with the press and on talk shows. That has to make Jim and Kelli happy."

"It does," said Penny, "I really can't wait until they see this article, I think it's going to be a good one."

They could hear Amy and Sheldon out in the hall. Leonard turned to Penny, "They got here early. Do you want to go over and help them get ready?"

Penny laughed, "Not really, but I suppose we should. The others will be here shortly."

Penny and Leonard left 4B, walked over to 4A, and started helping Sheldon and Amy set up plates, and put out the food. They finished just as Bernadette, Howard and Raj arrived.

Everyone grabbed their plates and started eating, talking about their days. The big news was that Howard had picked up his new car that afternoon, and was going to the administration, to get his parking spot the next day. Everyone finished eating around 7:30 and they all pitched in to clean up.

They put the extra food in containers, wash the dishes and reset all the chairs, preparing to watch Penny's show. They finished just before eight, all sitting down, while Leonard turned on the TV. It was only minutes before they heard the beginning of the show's theme song.