Title: Lessons from the Masters
Spoilers: ...none I can think of.
Rating/Warnings: T/PG-13.
Word Count: 1438
Disclaimer: All your TBBT don't belong to me. =/
Summary: "It takes her a while to realize she's being wooed." Future-fic, set after L/P breakup.
AN: Yeah this feels a bit OOC. So be warned.


Lessons from the Masters


It takes her a while to realize she's being wooed. Courted, even. It's like something out of a Jane Austen novel, all long smoldering looks across crowded rooms, except the looks are more akin to him trying to solve an equation and the crowded room is their apartment across the table full of Thai food.

(they read excerpts from pride and prejudice in class one day in eleventh grade and she ditched p.e. to go to the library. she read the entire book cover to cover for the rest of the day, getting grounded for cutting class and coming home late. they never did find out about the book she'd hidden under her mattress)

He holds doors open for her, he stands up when she stands up from the table, he offers his jacket when she's cold, even if he still won't let her sit in his seat. She sleeps with her ex and stumbles into his bedroom at 3am drunk and sobbing and he lets her hold him, and somehow she ends up in her bed the next morning, still in her clothes, a water bottle on her nightstand. She tries to avoid him and he invites her over. She brings up the subject and he changes it. And no one else knows.

(the first time she'd gotten drunk was after she'd slept with james reynolds in tenth grade. he'd told his friends and he'd broken up with her publicly and she'd punched him out and with only half-fake tears talked suspension down to detention and flirted viciously with anything male when james was around. she hadn't lost any true friends, and within three days the fake ones were crawling around, but it hadn't stopped her taking a bottle of her father's whiskey to bed with her that first night)

He takes her by the elbow and pulls her away to discuss something, he fidgets and then pulls a leaf from her hair, he hands her a pen and their fingers brush, he puts a plate in her lap and brushes her thigh, he sits down next to her knee to knee, and this wooing, it's crap, because now she's on edge for the barest touch, looking for the slightest excuse. She fixes his collar, tries to grab things from his hand, and keeps sitting in his seat with the almost subconscious idea that maybe someday he'll just pick her up and move her out of his way. Or into his lap.

(she's never been one for hand-holding before. leonard had tried to insist, all clammy palms and fingers awkwardly clinging together, and she'd always felt like a bitch when she saw him coming and put her hands in her pockets, but seriously)

When his tongue darts out to wet his lips, when he smirks, when he fricking types with fingers that are always sure, always purposeful in their movements, when he looks at her under heavy eyelids or shares a smile with her at someone else's expense, and when he touches her, always when he touches her, she wonders if she's imagining it, if it's there, smoldering just under the surface, the tension that no one else seems to notice.

But the flowers in her mailbox are coming from somewhere. And the poems—Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Brown, and all the greats—slid under her door in the middle of the night.

(she's never had a problem making the first move, because let's be honest, guys can be wusses and she's always been a girl to know what she wants and go after it. except. except except except)

And then—and it's blinding and obvious and deliberate and amazing—and then one day, on Anything-Can-Happen Thursday he gives her a vote. And more than a vote—and this is where it's hard to explain, because years later Leonard will swear he saw no such thing—he looks at her and tells her, not in anything as boring as words, but he tells her that it's her choice, and she looks at him, just looks at him, and tells him what her choice is. Tells him with a look and half an eyebrow, and he smirks, and Raj and Howard trade confused looks as Leonard waits patiently.

"Penny," Sheldon says, voice half-amused, half-severe, which she didn't even know was possible until now, "Penny, you're in my seat," he says.

"So?" she asks, and he nods a little, almost to himself, and then walks over from where he's been standing in the kitchen.

"You should know better, Penny," he says, and then picks her up. Picks Her Up. And yeah, she knew he was strong from his forearms, but he picks her up bridal style, nods politely to the boys, and then walks to the door.

"If you'd oblige," he says, and Penny giggles and opens the door, and he walks through, across the halfway, into her apartment.

Penny slams the door behind them.

(she's never been big on the whole romance thing. but when she told kurt she didn't need roses on valentine's day, and then he didn't get her anything, not even a card, not even a kiss, it hurt)

"Penny," he says. "I wasn't sure if my…intentions were…I wasn't sure how best to proceed," he says. "I'm not the most adept in this…area."

"You courted me," she says with a grin.

"I thought it best to learn from those that are considered the masters of romance and courtly love," he says, all innocence, and she smiles, because yeah, he could've just walked across the hall and asked her out, they could've gotten drunk and kissed, but instead he'd…

"Courtly love," she hums, arms crossing behind his neck. "You realize we're going to be fighting in like a day," she says and he tilts his head as he walks over to her sofa and sits, keeping her in his lap.

"I'll clean your apartment but I'll sit through Project Runway so you can ask my opinion on every dress despite my protestations that I have important work to do."

"Um…check," she says.

"And I'll irritate you with liking things just so, and you will purposefully interfere and insist upon spontaneity."

"Yeah, we do that, too," she smiles.

"Guys?" Leonard calls from the hallway, Howard talking loudly to Raj behind him.

"And I…" he smirks, "I will teach you the Laws of Attraction…and you will teach me the laws of attraction," he says, and she laughs.

"Next you'll be using sarcasm properly," she says, and he smiles, but it fades as he looks at her, really looks at her, her breath catching in her throat.

(she's gorgeous and fun and never short on boys who want her, but she's never been satisfied, never been sure that this was it, never been happy because she's never thought they were happy. and this is the secret that she keeps tucked underneath her mattress with that long ago stolen library book: mr. darcy wanted elizabeth bennet exactly as she was, and maybe that never happens in real life, but maybe it's worth fighting for)

"And you'll help me level in Age of Conan," she says, voice soft, and his eyes are so very dark as his hand brushes the hair from her face.

"So I'll teach you the history between the Federation and the Klingon Empire."

"And I'll cry because I'm a dumb blonde," she says, heart in her throat, and he frowns down at her.

"And I'll love you because you're Penny," he says, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, and the fact that he doesn't lie or stumble over words or tell her she's gorgeous or—

Love. He said love. He said love.

"And," she says, blinking damp eyes, "And I'll come into your bedroom in the middle of the night and you won't kick me out," she says, sliding her hand until it's palm to palm with his.

He studies her face as if he's committing it to memory.

"Guys, what's going on?" Leonard yells from outside, but they don't move.

"I'm sure you'll find some way to make that up to me," he says, voice low and rough, she half-laughs in surprise.

"I bet I will," she says, before leaning closer to him, lips inches from his. "Tell me," she says, "What do these masters of romance say you should do when you've got the girl right where you want her?"

(someday, she'd promised herself, seventeen years old and desperate to live, someday i'm going to find out what it's all about, i'm going to understand it all, i'm going to be amazing, i'm going to be happy)

His hand slides to the small of her back, pulling her closer as he leans in. "Pay attention," he says. "This is supposed to be memorable."

His lips find hers.

it is.




AN: Okay, I'm not entirely satisfied by this, but merely by writing it I've given myself like three plot bunnies, so there's that at least, haha…