Only Up When You're Not Down

AN: So I just totally realized that I should have called my Penny fic "Gravity" from Sara Barielles' song rather than using the No Doubt lyrics. Oh, well. Leonard's title comes from (you guessed it, Nicole!) "I'm Only Me When I'm With You" by Taylor Swift. ;) I had to once I saw where this was going.

Marine-CO suggested writing a mirror fic to "When You've Run Out of Coupons" about Leonard and his thoughts. I loved the idea so I wrote it. :D This came out much cheerful than the first draft. You can thank Nicole for that. And me slipping up and asking her about a specific spoiler. It really was for the best. This piece was going to come out much more depressing otherwise. :P

***

I lie awake one night watching her sleep. My mind can't relax enough to join her. There's something I can't stop thinking about.

What is love?

It's one of those seemingly elementary questions that people still have a hard time answering. Ask a child and they'll say something simple like 'It's what two people feel when they're married'. Ask an adult and you'll get anything from 'It's the emotion that forms when you care deeply about someone' to 'It's a chemical reaction in your brain that makes you do stupid things'. Of course, none of these answers are specific enough to be helpful.

What is love?

I know what it means to love a television show. I know what it means to love a friend. I even, on some level, know what it means to love a parent. But there's a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. How do you know when you're in love with someone?

Penny moves a little in her sleep, shifting more to her side. She snores a little. She'll deny that in the morning, of course, and I'll be able to get her wound up about it. I smile. One would think, as often as Penny gets irritated at me, that I wouldn't want to go out of my way to make her mad, but sometimes it's just too easy and too tempting to resist teasing her. Then she gets even more angry when she realizes that I was doing it on purpose. But I've figured out that by that point, it's more mock anger than true anger. Also she'll retaliate with something that will get me ranting. Then she'll laugh and I'll have to grin because she's happy. She's with me, and she's happy, and how lucky am I to have her?

I think that must be what love is. When you smile simply because she's smiling. When you hate the world because she's frowning, and when you hate yourself even more when that frown is your fault.

She doesn't know it yet, but Penny has become the most precious thing in the world to me. And I worry still that this will all be taken away from me in an instant.

I worry even more because it no longer feels like that's possible.