Wow! Last Chapter was so well received! I was astonished by the response. I knew that Sheldon's confession affected me deeply, but I as very happy to see that I was not the only one. Truth is, he surprised me too.

This chapter had been cooking for a while and I had written parts of it but I just could not get the elements together in my head. Last night I came upon some revelations.

Leonard's response is not what I thought it would be, but now that I have written it I can't see any other way for him to respond.

I also added an Epilogue as an extra added treat to me, and to the readers.

I in no way feel that it's cannon, but I feel it puts a nice bow on this very wonderful writing experience I have had.

So thanks for your encouragement and I hope this is everything you wished for these two.

Not being compensated...sue away!


The Big Bang Theory

The Reverse Pygmalion Paradox

Chapter. 07

Three Weeks Later Friday 4:48pm

Penny was cleaning her apartment, a task that she tried to get around to at least twice a week now.

Having a boyfriend with OCD and a lack of understanding of personal boundaries made this a necessity. She found, finally giving in after one of Sheldon's rants, that he was correct about cleaning being easier when done on a schedule. Of course, she would never give him the satisfaction of telling him so.

Her phone rang. It was not her personal ringtone for Sheldon. (Franz Ferdinand's I'm Your Villain, of course!) She checked it out of curiosity.

The caller ID said Sheldon's Kryptonite. (Sheldon's mom!)

She picked up it up eagerly.

"Hi Mary!" she said with a smile.

"Hey there, Penny. How are ya?"

Penny settled onto her couch, she was anticipating this call. "I'm just fine Mary, how are things in Texas."

"We're doing just peachy. You wanna keep chit chatting, or get down to brass tacks sweetheart?"

Penny grinned, (Sheldon got more than his eyes from his mother!) "What's on your mind Ms. Cooper, did you get those pictures I sent?"

"Why I sure did. I have to ask you something though. Missy keeps telling me that those pictures are of you and Shelly on a date, but I wanted to make sure."

Penny thought about that night. "Yes Mary, it was definitely a date."

"My Shelly went on a date! Thank you Jesus! You two looked comfy."

Penny lay down on the couch with her feet up. "We were."

"Did he behave himself?"

Penny had to laugh a little at that. "No, Mary, he didn't!"

"I was wondering because there seemed to be some pissed off people in those pictures with you."

Penny glanced up at her entertainment center where her growing collection of Sheldon/Penny photos was starting to sprout. The very pictures Mary held in her hand were in the middle in a place of honor. Sheldon had his arm around her shoulders in several of them, she was laughing, and he had that half grin which for him meant he was having a good time. In the background of their table were some glowering, angry people. Shortly after they had those pictures taken by the roving photographer, they were asked to leave.

"Which people in particular?" Penny asked.

"Well there's the cheap looking blond across from you in one."

Penny smirked, "Oh, Sheldon had just mentioned to her, that his sister stopped dying her hair blond because it was getting to déclassé for a trailer park."

"That was rude."

Penny sighed happily. "Yeah it was."

"What about the beefcake in this one. He looks ready to come across the table."

Penny had especially enjoyed that one. "Oh, well that's Rand Barkley right after Sheldon told him all the diseases you can catch from improperly stored socks, since someone (namely me) informed him that Rand likes to stuff his pants."

"You did call Shelly down for that one, right?"

Penny rolled her eyes. "I promise, next time I see him."

"What about the older gentleman with that inappropriately dressed young girl?"

That one was Penny's favorite. "Well that was my fault. That man you're looking at was a director I've worked with before. (The bastard fired me when I wouldn't sleep with him!) I introduced him, and who I thought was his granddaughter to Sheldon. Sheldon corrected me though. He informed me they couldn't possibly be related, because the only physical similarity between those two was that they both had implants…Oops."

Penny could hear Mary chuckle through the phone. "That's my Shelly, always making friends."

Mary paused. "He did look real nice though. I tell you when his father, God rest his soul, put on his bolo tie and shined his boots, I felt like a lucky girl!"

Penny smiled. "Nice? Lady, in Nebraska, we would've said he looks like good breeding stock!"

Mary laughed. "I'll keep my fingers crossed!"

She got off the phone nearly a half an hour later. (Mary did like to talk!) The relief in the older lady's voice was obvious. She was so happy that her Shelly had found someone who not only put up with him, but also would keep him in line as well, (Or at least attempt to!)

She thought about the last few weeks as she ran a duster over the top of her shelves.


There had been some wonderful times. Like when they signed up for ballroom dancing lessons, giving her a permanent slot in Sheldon's schedule that was just for the two of them.

Then again, there had been some setbacks.

She had slammed the door in his face a few times. One time in particular earlier this week, she had stormed out of his apartment after he made an offhand comment about certain things she was not capable of, because of her lack of testosterone.

She got in his face and informed him, "Yeah you've got testosterone alright, but that means you can be castrated…easy! Keep pushing it!"

She had stormed around her own apartment for an hour afterward mad at herself for even trying to love that arrogant chauvinist pig.

Then there came the knocks at the door.


She had yanked the door open ready to let him have it, but he stood there with a red rose in his hand.

"Is that for me?" she asked him suspiciously waiting for him to screw this up.

"It is common, is it not, for a suitor to offer a member of the family Rosaceae to his partner at the beginning of a Tango? That is the dance we are due to start at dance class tonight according to the curriculum," he said hopefully.

Penny tried to stay mad at him. She tried to tell herself he was just doing this so she'd keep their schedule, but the thought of his arms around her during a Tango, had her taking the rose, and telling him, "I'll get my keys."

It had not been easy, but she decided that nothing important ever was.

Several things had come out of that week after she woke up with Sheldon in her bed.

She stopped drinking and partying.

She reacquired her love of acting that she had lost, and she even found a new way to go about the craft.

Sheldon had simplified his social interaction subroutine formula so that she could use it to help her with her character mannerisms, which had produced dramatic results. (Pun intended.)

She was currently working on portraying Eliza Dolittle for a Pasadena Playhouse production of Pygmalion, a part that she got easily, no callback necessary.

When the director asked her where she got the training for that spot on cockney accent, she had blithely replied, "Oh I have a boyfriend with an IQ pushing 200 that picked up a phonetics book, taught himself the science in four days and has been coaching me. Well, when he's not doing that whole "figuring out the fabric of the universe thing."

He gave her a strange look.

She now had an appreciation for classic cinema, which had pleased Keebler to no end!

She had taken to movies shot before 1970 almost to the exclusion of anything modern. (Planet of the Apes was currently in her DVD player, a compromise with Sheldon. He was into the science, but for her, a young shirtless Charlton Heston…woof!)

She and Samantha managed a lunch date at least once a week, and their friendship had picked right up where they left off. This time there was some ground rules about boyfriends. It helped that Sheldon was at present incapable of cheating. Penny and Sheldon had tickets to attend a Kestrel fashion show at the end of the month. Sheldon had politely declined the offer to be one of her models.

Speaking of fashion, Sheldon was back to his comic book t-shirts but Penny had managed to diversify his closet a little bit with some polo's. She did that not to change him, but to help him expand a little. She had also taken to heart some of his suggestions, and had put some more conservative outfits in her own closet as well. In addition, Sheldon was doing both their laundries now, she definitely could not complain about that!


Friday 6:26 pm

She sat down wearily, and checked the watch Sheldon gave her, so he would always know they're synchronized. She tried to be irritated that he wanted her to be more punctual, but she decided that, in his own way, he was just trying to stay connected to her, and that was sweet.

She was not looking forward to tonight.

She would be happy to see Sheldon, of course, but Leonard would be lurking somewhere nearby.

Oh it was not what Leonard was saying that worried her, it was what he left unsaid. Several times in the last couple of weeks, he had objected to Penny coming over for no good reason. Sheldon was oblivious to what was going on under his nose but Penny was not going to let it stand.

She and Leonard had flirted around with dating, going so far as to almost sleep together that one alcohol-ridden night in her apartment, but she had never made a commitment to him, and had never made it official. Why he would be possessive of her was beyond reason.

She was willing to let it go because Leonard was her friend, and the only true friend that Sheldon had. After Leonard had left the apartment the night before when Penny came over, she had decided it was time for her to go "junior rodeo" on his passive aggressive little ass.

Sure enough, 6:30 on the dot she heard some nerd squabbling coming up the stairs. She waited until they went into 4A so she could hear Raj talk. It was a rare privilege. She had often felt tempted to spike his drink so she could talk to him face to face, but then again when he got a little tipsy, he made Sheldon look polite!

She gave them a few minutes to settle in before she walked across.

Leonard was in the kitchen as she entered and he shot her a glare but then hid by getting out some plates, pointedly turning his back to her. She tried to keep the anger off her face. (All right friend, your times a coming!)

"Hey everybody," she called out.

"Hello, Penny," said Sheldon with a genuine smile she had been seeing more of lately.

"Why hello you luscious lady from 4B," said Howard with a creepy smile, "you come over to see Howie?"

Penny gave Howard a look she had been working on in the mirror. It was the most wanton and sultry porn star pout she could create. She saw his eyes widen as she walked over and ran a finger down his jaw. "Why yes Howard, I've been thinking about you all…day…long."

"Really?" Howard stammered.

Penny grinned, "No, not really. Hey there, Raj."

Raj waved at her weakly, before going back to his study of the floor.

"Aww," Penny crooned, kissing him on the cheek, "you are so precious, I hope you can get over yourself some day without having to get plastered.

"I'm available to talk, no alcohol necessary," Howard said as he butted in.

Penny winked at him. "Yeah sweetie, but I'd need the alcohol just to talk to you, and I swore off drinking."

Raj rewarded Penny with a shy smile at her dig. Howard shrugged and took her rejection in stride. That was the only thing she admired about Howard, he might be clueless, but he never took it personally.

They food was distributed and they all dug in with Penny taking her usual seat beside Sheldon.

He had a burger and onion rings, fixed to his exacting specifications, but he slyly pushed an onion ring over to the edge of his Styrofoam take out container. She plucked it up and munched it smiling, as Raj and Howard freaked out. (They had prearranged this little display before hand; the Queen Penelope/Sheldor cabal was still active!)

Raj leaned over and muttered things in Wolowitz's ear for a solid three minutes. Howard nodded that he got the message then turned to Penny and Sheldon. "Dude what the hell?"

Raj glared at him, then nodded eagerly.

Penny smiled and leaned into Sheldon patting his cheek affectionately. "It turns out that Sheldon can be negotiated with."

Howard looked skeptical. "I'm listening."

Penny gave him her must suggestive smile. "All you have to do is sleep with the guy a couple of times and he's putty in your hands! Why didn't you guys think of that?"

Sheldon picked up his pre-arranged line and spoke it with his usual lack of inflection, "As it turns out, I'm easy…go figure."

They exchanged a sly glace before turning back to their food.

Leonard stood up, and went to the refrigerator even though there was no need.

Wolowitz and Koothrapali there too busy gaping at Sheldon and Penny to notice, and Sheldon was…well Sheldon, but Penny took note that she was having that conversation with Dr. Hofstadter real soon before Sheldon got a clue.

They finished and Sheldon was going through his cleaning ritual when Penny got an idea. "Sheldon, sweetie, why don't you take Howard and Raj out for a spin in my car, your test is the day after tomorrow you can use the practice," she told him holding out her keys.

Sheldon paused rinsing the rag out in the sink. "Oh, you might be right," he remarked crossing to take her keys.

"Since when did you learn to drive?" Leonard demanded from his desk where he had been sulking.

"Oh since Penny talked me into going to the go-cart track after I devastated her at put-put. I found that by applying concepts such as inertia, mass and acceleration that driving can be broken down into its constituent elements," Sheldon said proudly.

Penny grinned. "He got passed by a group of twelve year olds on the track and next thing I know, he's Mad Max, I had to drag him away before the mothers got him. He dusted off the permit that night and I've been letting him drive a little bit. As long as he doesn't roll down the window and lecture someone at the stop light he's been doing fine."

Howard and Raj exchanged a look. "This I've gotta see," Howard stated, Raj's eager nod made it a three some.

"Do you want to come as well, Leonard?" Sheldon inquired.

Penny stood and walked over to him turning him and nudging him towards the door where Howard and Raj waited. "No, sweetie, Leonard's busy."

Sheldon resisted a moment. "He doesn't appear to be occupied at the moment."

Penny gave him a firmer nudge. "He will be, go and have a good time."

The sound of the door shutting behind them was like a rifle crack on an empty battlefield. Penny turned and leaned her back against the door crossing her arms giving Leonard a glare of the wattage she usually reserved for Sheldon.

To her surprise, Leonard did not look away but turned in his desk chair to glare right back. (This is about to get ugly.)

Leonard broke the silence. "Ladies first."

Penny pushed away from the door and crossed to him. (Okay, you asked for it. It's Junior Rodeo time!)

"You are the biggest hypocrite I have ever seen Leonard. You have been in two relationships since I've known you, one was a live-in by the way, and you want to be upset because Sheldon finally finds someone to put up with him? In what world does two bad dates and one almost booty call brought on by too much liquor and daddy issues mean that we are exclusive? Can't you get it through that pointy little head of yours that we are better friends then we ever would be lovers?"

Leonard dropped his eyes, so she thought she had won, but when he looked up the fury there shocked her.

"You think you know what this is about, but you have no idea," he replied through gritted teeth.

Penny crossed her arms and gave him a wave that it was his turn. "Go ahead, genius, speak your piece."

Leonard burst out of his desk chair and shocked her back a couple of steps.

"I have been Sheldon's friend for three years Penny. I have put up with his craziness, his nutty little hang-ups and with his sheer arrogance for a lot longer than you have. In the time we've known you, he's slowly inched out into the rest of humanity, just because he wants to be close to you. If you break his heart that's it, he won't be able to do it again!

How do I know that some muscle bound evolutionary throwback with pectorals of steel and a jaw like the prow of an icebreaker, won't sweep you off of your feet and break his heart completely? I'm his only friend Penny, I will be picking up the pieces for the rest of his life and mine, while you're off with yet another Kurt.

He gave her the full brunt of his glare, but she could see the desperation behind his anger, the terror there. "I want to know, that you are aware that you're messing with one of the greatest intellects on this planet. Because, if he's just another one of your phases…we'll probably lose him for good. "

Penny was stunned. She walked over to the couch and sat down heavily.

Leonard, his anger spent stood where he was. He looked back to his passive self, and apologetic. "I'm sorry I said it that way, but Penny I've got to know the answer."

Penny felt like crying, but Leonard was right. She needed to answer this for herself. She thought of Sheldon, and spoke the truth.

She looked up and met Leonard's eyes. "I don't know the future, Leonard. I don't know how long I'll be able to stay by his side. He pushes me away, almost as much as he pulls me close. I don't even know if he's capable of loving me, but I do know he wants to, more than he's ever wanted anything."

Leonard found a carton of tissues and offered her one; she did not even realize she was crying. She took one gratefully and dabbled at her eyes. Leonard, dear sweet Leonard, was giving her time to compose herself. She wondered how such a great person could have come from that frigid ice sculpture Beverly Hofstadter, but she was grateful that he did.

She finally found the strength to look up, and the compassion she saw on Leonard's face gave her the strength to finally say, "All I know is if I broke his heart, I couldn't live with myself. I make him happy, I don't know how, or why, but I do. He makes me feel like I could do anything, because he challenges me everyday just to stay close. If he's never able to do anything intimate, then I'll just buy a couple of Ozzie and Harriet beds and a vibrator, because I can't live without him."

Leonard's eyebrow cocked at that. "A vibrator, really?"

She glared and smacked his shoulder.

He was laughing and she joined him soon after.

The timing could not have been better because they heard an argument coming up the stairs. Raj was participating from what Penny could hear. Leonard held out his hand for the tissue, it was a simple gesture, but it spoke of an understanding reached. She composed herself and handed it to him, her hand pausing in his for a moment as she let him see her gratitude. Leonard gave her that shy smile and turned away.

Sheldon came into the apartment looking happy with himself.

"How did it go," Leonard inquired.

Sheldon did that little hitch he only did when he was happy with something he had done. "I think it went rather splendidly."

Howard and Raj walked through the door looking as if they had seen the inside of a blender on frappe.

They walked over to their seats and sat down heavily.

"That was the most terrified I have ever been in my life," Howard announced.

Penny glanced at Sheldon who was humming as he sat down to his laptop to check email. "Why, what did he do? Was he driving too fast, or too reckless?"

Howard went into storytelling mode. "Oh he was driving fine, well below the posted speed limit on one of the most aggressive roadway systems in the world, but fine! We got flipped off by a grandmother and her bridge club!"

Raj made a gesture vaguely the size of King Kong.

Howard nodded, "Oh yes, we must not forget the stop light lecture incident with the man driving an SUV roughly the size of Burbank!"

"You're exaggerating," Sheldon called over his shoulder, "It was the size of Malibu, at best."

Howard grimaced. "I'm fairly sure his hood ornament was a gilded CHP officer!"

Raj made the sign of the cross. Howard nodded. "Oh by the way, Raj converted to Christianity just in case. I would have, but my mother would kill me."


Friday 10:52 pm

Penny was sitting on her couch watching the end credits of Planet of the Apes. (The statue of Liberty! Holy crap on a cracker!)

Sheldon's head was on a pillow in her lap, he was sound asleep.

She idly brushed some hair from his face as she stopped the video and turned off the television.

Seeing him there so peaceful reminded her so much of that first morning, that it was almost jarring.

So much had changed inside her in that moment that she awoke beside him. She knew deep down that from that moment on, playtime was over, it was time to grow up.

Leonard's accusations came back to her. He had a right to be worried, judging on her past actions, she had zero taste in men, and she had picked some doozies.

How could she explain to Leonard what changed inside her in that moment with Sheldon, she still did not know herself. All she knew was what she told Leonard. I make him happy, and he makes me feel like I can do anything. Was that going to be enough? Would it ever suffice?

Sheldon shifted in his sleep and his hand found hers and held on.

She intertwined her fingers with his.

She thought about their relationship before that night, how they always seemed to find each other's orbit. Even when they were in the midst of heated combat, they could not stay away. There was something that they had inside them that fed off each other, that drew strength from the conflict and the struggle, the tougher the better. It might be just the fact that he was a Texas boy and she was cornhusker to the core, but Penny had a hunch it was something simpler.

They were both too damned stubborn to admit defeat.

"You better keep fighting Sheldor, or Queen Penelope will kick your cute, geeky ass," she said tenderly.

She settled in, reaching over to grab her Pygmalion script that they had been going over earlier.

Would the world ever have been made if its maker had been afraid of making trouble? Making life means making trouble.

She had read that line the other day, and it still rang true.

She smiled as she sat down her script.

She decided to let him sleep, he did not have work tomorrow. Besides she was not going anywhere.


16 years later…

Penny turned from pre-heating the oven to see her eight-year-old daughter carefully adding the ingredients as she used the mixer expertly.


"Yes, Tess?"

"Why don't we use Bourbon marinated raisins like Nana Mary's recipe calls for?

"Remember when your Uncle Howard spiked the punch at your Uncle Raj's wedding reception and your dad wound up playing show tunes on the piano the rest of the night?"

"Right, no Bourbon raisins."

"That's my girl!"

She really did not have much to do except put the cookies on the sheet. Tess was already a better cook than she was anyway. That was one of life's little joys living with fraternal twin geniuses. Speaking of which...

"Honey, why do you have a flashlight?"

Tess flipped a blond bang out of her face and gave her mom that cryptic smile that could mean anything or nothing. "I like to be prepared."

Penny was immediately suspicious. "Prepared for what?"

Tess smiled. "I can't tell you."

Penny crossed her arms and gave her the angry-mom look, but she knew it was pointless because Tess was immune. "You're not going to tell me are you?"

Tess sampled a bit of the cookie dough with a second spoon and shook her head. "Unlike daddy, I want to work for the government someday."

Penny sighed. "Yeah, you'll probably be on the team that's stopping your brother from taking over the world."

Tess smirked, "Stopping him would take all of twelve minutes, just set up set a sting at a comic book convention."

Penny grinned at her. (Girl Power!)

She and Sheldon had decided not to tell Nick that his sister actually tested higher than he did. They had really tested her on a whim, thinking she was the normal one. When Penny asked her later why she let her brother take credit for being smarter, she just rolled her eyes as if her mom was being dense. "He's a boy, he needs it."

Speaking of Nikola Leonard Cooper, I wonder where he's gotten off too?

"Tess, can you handle things, I need to find the boys."

Tess nodded licking the batter off her finger.


She wandered down the hallway toward the back of the house, and Sheldon's Lair. That was what she dubbed his office.

She needed to have a talk with him anyway. She plucked some emails off her own desk just off the family room for reference.

She stopped at the thick wooden door, and knocked.


"Enter," came the reply. She rolled her eyes, and went inside.

He was sitting at his desk still in his white shirt and suspenders, his tie loose, shirt opened to reveal the Batman symbol underneath, contemplating yet another grease board covered with calculations.

His graying hair had stopped receding in the front and thinned out to create a bald spot in the back. She walked up behind him and kissed it, wrapping her arms around him.

He was still lanky, but a doctor's visit three years ago had caused him to take a lot better care of himself. His father had died relatively young from heart disease and Sheldon had high cholesterol. He took up running as obsessively as he did everything else, Penny did her best to keep pace supporting him, with both of them pushing forty now, they were in the best shape of their lives.

He now wore stylish round rimmed glasses and had grown a nice mustache two years ago when he took Gablehauser's old job so he would look more authoritarian and less like a grad student. Penny did not mind at all, when he was activating a Clark Gable social interaction subroutine the mustache fit into the act, which made things...interesting.

"What have I done now?" he asked in an amused tone.

"I have an email here from Leonard."

"Here we go."

"Did you call some potential Cal-Tech investors; let me check to make sure I get this right, a bunch of imbecilic Labradoodles who should stop piddling on the carpet of science and make a significant contribution to the future of mankind?"

"I see no fallacy in that statement."

"Honey it was rude."

"Okay, I'll write a letter of apologia, will that suffice?"

"It's a start."

"What should be my excuse this time? Undiagnosed Tourettes, low blood sugar, stress related aphasia?"

"How about I am a socially inept super genius who has no governor in my head that lets me know when I am being a colossal Ass Hat?"

"Is Ass Hat a compound word?"

"Never mind, I'll write it."

She just stood there with her arms around him for a minute enjoying the closeness.

"Do we need to invoke the, you're-being-cute-I-want-you, intimacy clause?" he inquired slyly.

Penny smiled, "Tonight after the kids go to sleep."

"I'll mark it in my planner," he said reaching for the leather folio.

She swatted him. "We need to talk about your son."

Sheldon swung the swivel chair around to give her an exasperated glare. "What happens to the genetic code in our offspring, that whenever our son gets into trouble, he becomes exclusively mine?"

She shrugged. "He's got your ADD, and your childhood penchant for destruction, he did not get those things from me."

Sheldon cocked an eyebrow in that old infuriating manner that made her…well hot for him but that would not help her in the argument. "All he got from you is a stubborn streak that would make a hinny envious."

Penny gave him a blank look. "Heiny?"

He rolled his eyes. "Get you mind out of the gutter woman, hinny is a female mule."

Penny smiled, walked over and sat down in his lap. "Oh I thought you were making an offer."

He smiled, and suddenly he his expression became that of someone else. "Frankly, my dear Penelope, there is no need to make an offer when your credit is this good."

They kissed and lost the room for a while, the negotiations would have gotten a lot more fun, but the lights suddenly going out stopped the proceedings.

There was a light shining under the office door followed by a careful, precise knock.

"Mom, Dad?"

"Yeah, Tess?"

"I think the lights are out on the entire block."

Penny leaned into her husband's arms. "What are we going to do with that boy?"

"Well for the short term, I propose we call the power company and tell them to get another transformer ready," he replied in the dark.

The office door opened and Tess walked in. "The residual heat in the oven was enough to insure the cookies finished, if you want some."

Penny had an idea. "Ok let's light a fire in the fireplace, and gather some candles and the cookies and have family time in the living room."

Tess grinned like the little girl she was. "Cool!"

She stood to go find some candles and find Nick. She would have to put his punishment off for another time. Sheldon was a push over so she would have to implement it as usual. Sheldon held onto her hand for an extra moment, she turned back and smiled before they let go.


She held the little boy in her arms as he slept. His close-cropped brown hair was sticking up in the back in that cowlick they never seemed to get rid of. When he was like this, he was most her little boy. Awake he was a hyperactive fact spewing mini-Sheldon who was likely to turn a coffee maker into a bottle rocket launcher and put a round through the principles new Maserati. (For some reason the man did not carry genius insurance and the event did not qualify for the act-of-God clause, so that had been expensive!)

When she had gone up earlier, she found Nick in the attic crawlspace and the remains of their vacuum cleaner in his room, converted to a miniature collider that had, according to Sheldon, created a feedback loop, which had fried the neighborhood power grid.

She knew there were going to be some angry neighbor visits to fend off tomorrow.

However, that was tomorrow, right now at this moment, there was a precious brilliant little boy in her arms, who could not help that he was a walking disaster waiting to happen. She understood Mary Cooper more and more every day.

On the couch beside her was Sheldon with Tess asleep in his arms. She was a daddy's girl through and through, and heaven help the boys when she got old enough to notice them, with her intelligence and her mom's green eyes and curves, there would be some carnage. Those who survived the interrogation of her father that is.

The lamp on the table behind Sheldon and Tess began to flicker on, but Sheldon reached back and turned it off. They shared a moment of understanding between them.

She often contemplated how she got to be here, loving husband, wonderful kids (when her little boy wasn't inadvertently wreaking havoc.)

Her career was successful, as the most respected teacher of British Classic Repertory acting on the west coast. She had never won that Oscar, but she had students mentioned in the running most years.

She had good friends.

Howard and Samantha Wolowitz. (Howard found the only woman who was more disgusting than he was at her and Sheldon's wedding. It was a match made in civil court!)

Rajesh and Shashi. (She was a shy Bollywood actress that came to Penny for lessons to make the transition to American cinema, and had met Raj at Halo5 night. They spent the rest of the night not talking to one another, and something had clicked.) They moved back to India, but came to visit often because Shashi's string of successful western movies kept her with roots in Hollywood.

Oh and she must not forget Leonard and Leslie.

Her eye found the Nobel Prize on the mantle. It had two names on it, a fact that Sheldon had lamented often. Leslie and Sheldon in an effort to make peace for Leonard's sake collaborated on what they thought would be a dead end project, which turned into a paradigm-altering find.

Their acceptance speeches had been memorable.

Leslie's had been to the point. "I just want to thank the voters for finally acknowledging my contributions to science, and for permanently linking my name to an overrated, self-important East-Texas blowhole. Now I'm sure dumb-ass has some people to thank.

In the stunned silence that followed, she turned the podium over to Sheldon. Sheldon had cleared his throat and said, "I thank you Leslie for that stirring introduction. The only consolation I'll have throughout the years of staring at my desecrated trophy, one that proves that no matter how incompetent, anyone can rise above their limited intelligence if paired with significant genius, is that you will never have the full enjoyment of this accomplishment. It's the little victories that make the difference."

Penny and Leonard had exchanged a look them made for the exit.

Now Leonard and Leslie had a girl and a boy. The little girl, Leah, and Nick had to be kept separated at all costs, but Liam, their little boy, had a crush on Tess that was endearingly cute.

They sat there in the flickering light, Sheldon's long fingers found her hand, and they intertwined.

It was not perfect, this life they shared, but it was so damned close as to not matter.

Thanks for reading!

God Bless