Come Around Again


Spoilers for seasons two and three, some sexual content and language

Penny can't regret giving him her number, not with the picture he drew so quickly for her after knowing her for all of five minutes, not to mention the way he makes her laugh. He is being so sweet and she tells him so, pretending to be oblivious to the way Leonard's hands clench into fists and the death glares he shoots Stuart when his back is turned.

While the comic book store is definitely not her normal hang-out spot, she's in her element now as she buys her nephew's present, flirting and enjoying the flush of pleasure that he's trying to hide by ducking his head to read the price on the book.

It's been a while, okay, and it's kind of nice to go on a date with someone who is both smart and lives somewhere other than across the hall from her.

She tells herself that she doesn't feel guilty, though when Leonard drives them back to their respective apartments, she consciously avoids meeting his eyes in the rearview mirror. It's an easy feat considering she has Sheldon's list of things wrong with Leonard's driving to distract her and make her roll her eyes, as well as Raj's constant whispered comments to Howard that cause them both to giggle.

Stuart calls the next evening at seven on the dot, voice halting in an endearing sort of way, "Hey Penny, how are you?"

"Hi! I'm just fine—how are you? How's the store?"

"Great." A pause then, "So there's an art show tomorrow night for me and I thought—" He stops again and she twirls a strand of hair around a finger waiting, holding up her hand to see that she's been unknowingly biting her fingernails again and the pink polish is chipped. When she realizes she's planning which color would better go with her favorite shoes, she decides to take the plunge.

"Sounds good to me."

"Really? Well-uh-I'll pick you up around six?"


Why the hell not?

She doesn't get to kiss him when they make it back to her apartment, laughing over Captain Sweatpants. She puts the blame entirely on Sheldon.

They're at dinner two weeks later and she's enjoying the wine, because who regrets drinking a good Riesling? She does regret letting herself drink too much of a good thing and get a little too focused on the way Stuart won't sit too close to her or pick up on any of the hints she's giving him that she wants him to hold her hand or even—she's crazy here—look her in the eye or even look at her at all.

Drinking the wine only makes things worse because she's just that much more affectionate and easy with her words, not even knowing what she's saying half the time, which is the whole problem really.

They end up in her car, kissing, first tentatively and then there's tongue and fingers digging into shoulders and a warm feeling in her stomach that's more from arousal than the alcohol and she's swinging her leg over the center console so that she can straddle him properly when she moans his name only—

It's not his. How horrifying.

Her face burns and she's glad he can't see it in the darkness of the car as he drives them home—he mutters something about taking the bus when he parks her car at her apartment and she sneaks upstairs, very grateful she doesn't run into anyone she knows. Doesn't run into Leonard, that is. Sheldon she could handle.

After the North Pole expedition, after yet another visit from Leonard's mother, after multiple pissing contests between Sheldon and Wil Wheaton including the one involving Stuart and the disastrous bowling competition, Penny is sitting on her couch holding her phone in one hand and scrolling through her list of contacts and holding a glass of wine in the other.

She's tipsy enough that this is a dangerous activity, but also tipsy enough that she doesn't give a shit.

Her thumb pauses on the down button when she reaches Stuart's name—still in there even after only two real dates. She still sees him all the time, of course, he does run the only comic book store the boys will frequent, but it's still strange that she hasn't deleted him.

It's part of her spring cleaning routine. Yes, she does have one, but this involves a ritualistic defriending of old boyfriends on facebook and then deleting them off her phone. It's a peaceful and highly satisfying sort of cleaning, unlike the hellacious scrubbing of the walls her mother used to make her do in the spring as punishment for breaking curfew again.

But she hasn't deleted him yet, which probably means something that she doesn't care to think about at this point.

Instead she takes another sip of wine and presses the call button.

The situation is familiar—she's a little drunk, she's kissing him, she's getting turned on by the things he's whispering and the trembling of his hands as he cups her breasts reverently.

But the name in her head is his this time and they're on her couch and she's straddling him with the lights on so that he can see her arousal and she can see the attractive reddening of his neck as she kisses down it.

She sinks to her knees on the floor and pulls his pants down and the flush spreads. She smiles up at him before teasing him with light licks that make his hips jerk up for more. "Easy," she says and puts one hand high on his thigh to hold him steady so that she can suck the head and swirl her tongue around it, enjoying her moment of power before she asks him to her bedroom. She loves the sound of her name on his lips as she brings him to the brink.

They're both breathing hard by the time she stands up unsteadily and holds her hand out to him invitingly, saying "Come to bed." He nods and stands, almost tripping over the pants still around his ankles before carefully extricating himself with a quiet "shit" and taking her hand.

They stumble into her room lit only by a lamp above her bed that casts a very feminine pink shadow on her bed, but he doesn't seem to care as he pushes her over on her back and covers her, not letting up on his kissing, nibbling her lips and moving his hands over her in a confident way that she does not remember. He snakes a hand under her skirt and moves aside her panties to find her wet and his breath catches as she smiles again at him.

"I think I'm ready."

He's surprised. "Already? I haven't even touched you yet." She can't help reaching a hand up to smooth the lines on his forehead before reaching down to guide his hand to where she wants it.

"There," she gasps as he circles her clit without her even needing to ask, "now you've touched me."

He's a quick learner and helps remove her clothing before taking the condom from her hand and donning it with her help that probably makes it that much harder from the way he's breathing hard and swearing under his breath.

But then he's inside her and she's kissing him and digging her fingers into his back to make him move faster dammit and he's kissing her and saying things like "oh god" and "yes" that make her laugh because it's fun and she's happy and why didn't they do this before?

She wakes to sun on her face and groans, throwing an arm blindly out from under the sheet as if that could make it go away and ends up smacking Stuart in the head.

"Oh god, I'm sorry. Are you okay?" He turns over to face her and she rubs his head soothingly, kissing the spot where she hit him and then feeling really dumb because he's not a five-year-old.

"I'm fine." His eyes dart nervously around the room as if he's wondering when she's going to kick him out of her bed.

"Hi," she murmurs and takes his face in her hands and kisses him lightly. "Want me to make coffee?" She laughs as he rolls his eyes at her, remembering their first date.

"As long as it's not decaf."

"I don't have any."

They grin stupidly at each other until Penny grabs her robe and heads into the kitchen.