The Name of the Game

"Penny, can I borrow your blue sweater?"

Penny looked up. Emile was poking her head through the doorway. Her hair was nicely done; Penny had taught her how to straighten it on Wednesday, and this was the first time Emile had done it on her own. Penny had the sinking feeling she knew what she wanted her sweater for.

"Why? What's up?" Penny asked innocently.

"…I'm going on a date," Emile said awkwardly. "And I thought I'd wear… you know, something nice. I mean, Howard sees me every day in my normal clothes..."

"Maybe you should wear your normal clothes on this date, too," Penny scoffed.

Emile walked into Penny's apartment, wearing a loose white tank top and a pleated orange skirt with some black tights. Penny sighed.

"Okay, my blue sweater isn't going to match that," Penny sighed. "Emile, we went over this. Color coordination."

"Then… what should I wear?"

"I'd go with a different skirt," Penny smirked. "Of course, if it was me, I wouldn't even be going with Howard…"
"Well, obviously. You hate him," Emile shrugged.

Penny blinked. "…Not hate."

"For God's sake, Penny, you've said nothing but crap about him since I got here."

Penny frowned as she yanked off Emile's skirt. Emile covered up her underwear angrily.

"You could've warned me about that," Emile said.

"About what?" Penny smirked mischievously, holding the orange skirt. "This thing is such an atrocious color."

"I'm standing in my skivvies here," Emile reminded her. "And Penny, can I ask you something?"

"Sure," Penny replied, going into her bedroom with the orange skirt.

Emile walked around the couch. That way, if someone walked in, her underwear– green boy shorts– would be blocked by the couch. She paused, wondering if she really wanted to ask… yeah, she did.

"Who says I don't want to screw Howard?"

Something crashed. Penny's head whipped around the corner, face frightened.

"Where did that come from?!" Penny asked.

"I just figured, since you were trying so hard to keep him away from me…"

Penny's eyes narrowed. "Leonard told you."
"I noticed it myself. Like I said."

"…Like you said?" Penny thought about that for a few seconds. Her jaw dropped shortly thereafter. "You can't be serious."

"I'm serious."

Penny walked out of her bedroom, holding a few hangers with random clothes on them, acting vaguely like a zombie.

Emile rolled her eyes. "Seriously, Penny, don't tell me you don't want the same with Leonard."

"I don't understand."

"Your stance, expression, and tone of voice suggested as much," Emile said before realizing this sounded remarkably like something Sheldon would say. If Sheldon understood human interaction at all. Penny noticed this too, and her frown grew more pronounced.

"Howard's nothing more than a creep," Penny said, holding a jean mini-skirt up to Emile's legs. "Too big."

"Yeah, I'm too short for it, too." Emile smiled wistfully. "Penny… it's kind of ironic. We're in the same situation."

"Same situation?" Penny questioned as she held another jean skirt, this one of normal length, up to Emile. "This skirt looks better. Slits are a bit high."

"I like the slits, actually," Emile admitted. "And yes. If you were the one asking me about Leonard, I'd call him an insensitive jerk. So neither of us likes the other's boyfriend. Much as I'd love to patch things up permanently with Leonard, I know he'll do something else to make me mad… because he's Leonard."

Penny blinked as she held a pink nylon skirt up to Emile.

"That's almost as bad as my skirt," Emile admitted.

Penny sighed. "It isn't the same at all, Emile. You're Leonard's ex. You did like each other at one point. I never liked Howard."

Emile gave Penny a weak smile. This was going to be a lot harder than she anticipated. "…You're right. But you aren't going to prevent me from seeing him… are you?"

The words were tinged with fear. Penny picked up on it quickly. Penny gave her a reassuring smile.

"Sweetie, I wouldn't do that," Penny mentioned. Under her breath, she muttered, "unless he did something to you."

"Define something," Emile requested.

"Slept with you against your will, pushed you farther than you wanted to go, that kind of thing."

Penny seemed to be missing the big point.

"But you would be okay if I initiated the sex?"

Penny gagged. Emile crossed her arms.

"You're acting really immature right now," Emile said.

"Emile!" Penny whined before throwing her hands up in the air. "You know what, fine. I'll just let you get hurt. Is that what you want?"

"In your head, does sex equate to getting hurt?"

"No, sex with Howard equals getting hurt."

Emile shrugged. "…Well, I'll try to hold off. But the last time I held off, something really bad happened."

"What was that?"

"My fiancé blew up. Kind of ruined our plans."

Penny gulped before frowning. "So waiting equals freak fatal accident?"

"No, it means live the day," Emile shrugged, looking at a skirt Penny had abandoned. A black flowing skirt. Emile picked it up and held it to her body. "Hey Penny. What do you think of this?"

Penny looked at it, agitated. It looked fantastic. "That's a good one. Now what are you going to wear over that top, Candy Slice?"

"I don't know what you're referring to there, but maybe some sort of… actually I have no idea."
Penny crossed her arms. "Do you want to get any tonight?"

"You were just saying –"

"I know. Notice the twitching frown?"

"…Answer's yes, by the way."

"Okay. Let's find you something to layer over that."


Emile was laughing again, floored by Howard's bawdiness. It went without saying that the two of them had a little too much to drink at the Italian restaurant. They weren't so drunk that they were slurring their speech or puking, but drunk enough to get a bit louder and freer with words than normal.

"I'm not kidding," Howard continued as they walked through one of the parks nearby. Many of the calmer couples were staring, livid, at Howard and Emile– they were disturbing the tranquility of nature! How dare they?

Howard and Emile weren't in a state to care.

"I know you aren't. That's the sad thing," Emile said.

"How is that sad? You're hot. Nothing sad about it."

"It's sad that you actually think that."

"Come on, Emile. Look at yourself."

"…Got a mirror?"

"Yeah, let me pull one out of my ass. No, I don't have a mirror."

Emile giggled again, noticing Howard's hand dangling next to his side. She slipped her own hand into it. He grinned at her. Everything seemed funny to the two of them now.

"Penny's not here to screw things up," Howard realized.

Emile nodded. A girl with a boyishly short haircut glared at her. Emile rolled her eyes.

"I think we're too loud," Emile murmured. "We're disturbing the normal people."
Now the girl was definitely glaring at Emile.

Howard smirked. "We could always go somewhere else."

Emile looked at him and smirked back. "I'm listening."

"I don't know where, but we could find somewhere."

"As a lady, I have to smack you, but as Emile, I say I'm game."

"Fair enough."

Emile smacked Howard and pretended to be in a huff, walking a few paces ahead of Howard. Howard rubbed his cheek– did she have to hit so hard?– and ran to catch up to her.

"Why'd you hit me so -?"

"Weird girl was glaring at us," Emile interrupted. She sat down on a nearby bench, smirking. This black overshirt of Penny's was awesome: a plunging neckline, down to the waist, where a bow and ribbon tied off the shirt. Penny had almost refused to hand the shirt over, though. Seems Penny knew Emile better than she knew herself.

"Wanted her to move on?" Howard asked, sitting next to Emile, sidling closer to her. His leg brushed against hers. A chill ran up her spine.

"Didn't want her watching."

Howard moved his hand to touch Emile's knee.


Emile took Howard's face in her hand and pressed her lips against his. The kiss was soft at first, gentle. Then the alcohol kicked in, passion took over, and the kiss became forceful and fiery. Howard pulled away briefly, acting as if he wanted to say something, but Emile cut him off by planting another kiss on him. He wrapped an arm around her waist. She responded by running her fingers through his hair. Everything felt so right… Emile knew that she should be appalled by her own forwardness, but she wasn't. She really wasn't.

Maybe she was a pervert too.

Howard pulled away again and immediately started talking.

"Emile, we cannot have sex on this park bench," he noted.

"No we cannot," Emile agreed.

"…You actually want to -?"

"Sadly, we are more alike than our friends want to believe," Emile said with a smirk. "Speaking of them, I have no place to go back to."

Howard grimaced. "Yeah, same here, unless you want to deal with my mom…"

The two disentangled themselves from each other while trying to think of a solution.


"Do you have money?"


"Same here. Together –"

"We probably have enough."

And off they went.

Somewhere far away from the scene, Penny felt a shiver roll up her spine, and she felt like she was going to puke. She rolled over in bed and checked her clock. 11:57 pm. She bit her lip, frowned, and stared into space.

A/N: This is the only chapter where the title does not follow the BBT episode naming convention. Consequently, the chapter title is taken from the ABBA song of the same name.

A/N 2: And I'm actually alive. Shockingly. As some Writer's Anonymous posters know, I was undergoing a huge amount of stress, which at one point led to a brief hospital stay. Now that summer's here, I'm glad to say that I'm completely fine. And this story shall be completed!

DISCLAIMER: I don't own The Big Bang Theory.