Penny trudged up the stairs, balancing her purse precariously on her arm. She staggered to apartment 4B and fumbled with the doorknob. It rattled under her hand and she cursed under her breath. She searched through her purse for her key but couldn't find it. The light of the hallway hurt her eyes and she growled angrily. She threw her purse at the elevator doors and her cell phone flew out slamming on the floor and the plastic back popped off again. She swore and picked it back up to put it back together and stormed, drunkenly to apartment 4A to bang on the door. They have her spare key; she figured she might as well get it from them so she can collapse in her bed. The door opened and the figure in the doorway surprised her.


The short shadow stepped out in the hallway. "Hey, Penny," he said sleepily. "What's wrong?"

She stumbled and leaned her weight on the wall as she noticed that he wasn't wearing his normal attire. The creepy engineer wore gray sweats and a simple white tee shirt. They didn't stick to his body like his normal clothes. She could see the soft flesh of his neck and his hair was rumpled and sticking up in places. He looked… cute

Penny shook the thought from her head and nearly fell but caught herself at the last moment. "Umm, why are you here?" Her voice slurred and she grimaced.

He looked down at the floor shyly and mumbled something about his mom.

She nodded, pretending that she understood but the movement was just too much for her and she fell forward.

The engineer leapt forward and caught her but stumbled under her weight and crashed into the wall. "Penny, you're drunk."

"Gee, what gave you that idea?" She slurred sarcastically.

He stood her up and she wobbled a little bit before he ducked in the apartment and grabbed her spare key from the bowl. "Come on; let's get you home."

She expected him to say something dirty and had a comeback on the tip of her tongue but instead he surprised her by putting his arm around her waist and gently leading her to her door. He turned the key in the door and led her inside.

She hiccupped and noticed that he was starting to leave. "Howard! Take me to my bed!" She snorted at her words and doubled over with laughter.

He waggled his eyebrows at her and held out his arm for her like a gentleman. "I've been waiting for this moment for years, Madame!"

She stopped laughing and grabbed his arm. "Yeah, well I hope you were waiting for a lot of vomit and no sex then, 'cause that's all you're getting tonight!"

He wrinkled his nose but led her to her bed carefully sidestepping the piles of dirty clothes and random open bags of Doritos.

Penny collapsed in her bed and rolled over to look at him with wide green eyes. "I left my purse in the hallway; can you get it for me, please?" She batted her eyelashes and hiccupped again.

Howard sighed and left the room to come back in a few minutes holding her purse in his hand. He sat it on her dresser like she told him to and helped her take of her strappy high heel shoes.

"Mom always makes me take off her shoes whenever she comes home and I have to rub lotion on her heels and massage her feet," he said as he undid the straps.

"You're actually a pretty good guy aren't you?" She yawned and her eyelids fluttered shut.

He dropped the shoes on the floor next to her bed and moved to tuck her quilt around her shoulders before standing to leave.

After his hand closed around her doorknob he felt arms encircle his waist. He stepped back in surprise and Penny turned him around and shoved him up against the door before crushing her mouth to his. She slipped her tongue in his mouth and he could taste the alcohol she had in her system. He waged an internal war in his mind before shoving her away from him much to her-and his own- surprise. The action sent a blow to her pride and she growled in frustration.

"You've always wanted to sleep with me! Why did you just push me away?" She knew she was shouting and she watched him flinch. "Are you and Raj really gay? I heard people say it but I thought that was just a rumor!" She swore loudly at him. He had to be gay! Nobody has ever turned down her advances before!

"Penny!" He grabbed her wrists as she raised them to hit against his chest. "I'm so not gay! Penny, you're drunk! I can't sleep with you when you're drunk! Any other woman and I'd jump at the opportunity but, Penny, you're one my closest friends!"

She glared down at him and took in his genuine look and warm eyes and sighed in defeat before croaking out in a hoarse voice, "Can you stay with me at least until I fall asleep?"

He stood there a moment before he released her wrists and walked her back to her bed. He tucked her in again and stood next to the bed awkwardly.

"Down, Wolowitz," She patted the space next to her and he hesitated before sitting on the mattress.

She looked up at him funny and tilted her head to the side. "Lay down, Howard. I don't bite."

Howard looked over at her bedside clock and saw that it was 3:47AM. He sighed and did as she said.

Penny smiled sleepily and threw her arm over his chest. "You're pretty sweet when you want to be you creepy potato!"

He raised an eyebrow at her words but she didn't notice and snuggled into his side and her eyes slowly closed and her breathing deepened.

Penny jerked her eyes open and groaned. Her whole body was sore and sluggish. She looked around her bedroom and didn't notice any strange man naked next to her and silently cheered to herself. She looked at the time and muttered curses under her breath. She scrambled out of bed and took a long shower before stumbling out of the bathroom, wrapped up in a towel.

"Food," she moaned and dragged herself to the kitchen to make herself a bowl of Coco Puffs and plop on the couch to eat it while tugging her hairbrush through her blonde strands of hair. The stupid glitter hairspray didn't wash out of her hair again. She finished her last bite and sat the bowl in the sink.

What did she do last night? She recapped the night's events in her mind.

She came home from a late shift at the Cheesecake Factory. She went out with her girlfriends to a new club. She danced and got drunk. No date for her. She went home. Couldn't find her key. Howard helped her. She threw herself at him. She-


She threw herself at him?

Penny covered her mouth with her hands. No! She couldn't have! He's... he's HOWARD FREAKING WOLOWITZ!

She screamed into her throw pillow. After her head started to hurt again she stopped and remembered that he had turned her down. He said that they were friends. Her face softened. Maybe he wasn't as bad as she always thought. She sighed and dressed for work.

Hours later Penny sped home in her car, once again ignoring her check engine light. Her stupid boss! Her stupid fracking boss! She felt dirty. That piece of scum kept pawing at her like a piece of meat! It took all of her might not to go all Nebraska on-


She cursed and got down on her knees to pick up her purse and its contents. She threw everything back in her Coach bag and stormed to her door angrily. As soon as she put her key in the lock she heard the door behind her open and Leonard startled her causing her to drop the bag again. She bellowed out a string of all of the curses she knew.

Leonard winced at her shouts. "I'm sorry, Penny. I didn't mean to startle you like that."

She sighed angrily. "Whatever. It's fine! I've just had a crappy day today!"

"I'm sorry to hear that! If there's anything you need, I'm here for you."

"Leonard, you're not getting in my pants so just back off!" She snarled and instantly regretted it.

Hurt flashed across his face and he mumbled something before scampering down the stairs. She rubbed her temples and dropped down to pick everything back up. She needed to buy a new purse. The broken zipper on this one really ticked her off!

The door opened again and Howard walked out. He bit his tongue to keep from saying something about her being on her knees. He heard her shouts and knew that she would probably castrate him for it and so instead he just helped her pick up her things in silence.

She stopped and stood, staring at him as he gathered her things. He stood up with an armful of junk she had stuffed in her purse and she spoke finally. "Howard, why didn't you sleep with me last night? I was throwing myself at you! I thought you always wanted to so what made you change your mind?"

He put the things in her bag and cleared his throat. "You were drunk." He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his tight jeans and looked up her. "You weren't thinking straight at all and it would've been wrong of me to take advantage of you like that. I mean, I might be a creepy, sleazy guy but I actually do care for my friends."

She felt herself smile at him warmly. "You really are one of kind, Wolowitz."

He grinned. "Besides, you scare the bejeeezus out of me, woman!"

She laughed and opened her door. "Want to come in for a drink?"

"Sure," he shrugged and followed her inside.

She dropped her purse on her couch, ignoring the bottle of lotion that fell out of it and told him to sit on a bar stool as she changed. She skipped to her bedroom and changed into a purple tank top and denim short shorts before skipping back to the kitchen.

"What'll it be, sir?" She wiped the countertop with a towel and impersonated a classic barkeep.

He waggled his eyebrows at her and said in his usual saucy voice, "I never did get that Slippery Nipple I ordered before, y'know!"

She glared at him for a moment before sighing. Some things never change. She pulled out a bottle of vodka poured him a shot. "There," she said while sliding the glass over to him. "One Slippery Nipple for the pervy genius guy."

Howard stared at the glass before shrugging and downing it.

Penny lay on her couch on her back and tossed her throw pillow in the air and caught it over and over out of boredom. She stops and checks the time on her cell phone. 12:23AM.

Whatever, she really should get to bed. She stood and locked her door before walking to her bedroom and dropping on the mattress. She stared at the crack of light coming from the bathroom door and cuddled her favorite Care Bear.

Her mind went over the night before and the day she just had. She couldn't help but get caught up on the realization that Howard Wolowitz really wasn't that bad at all. He was sweet to her and refused to take advantage of her when she was drunk. She turned over on her bed. And he did look pretty cute in normal people clothes. She remembered his messy hair and wide, concerned eyes. That curve in his lips…

Penny bolted upright in her bed. "Holy crap on a cracker!"

She liked Howard Wolowitz!

Penny, waitress and aspiring actress totally had a thing for pervy, nerdy, genius engineer, Howard Wolowitz.

She jerked her head, getting rid of the thought.

It's Howard she was talking about! Howard Freaking Wolowitz! She couldn't like him! No way!

Then memories echoed through her head. She remembered when she was sitting on his bed with him and she had her arm around his shoulders as he cried.

He cried because she made him.

Guilt flared through her and she remembered the feeling of her fist connecting with his face. She squeezed her Care Bear and turned over in her bed. She closed her eyes and thought of him smiling instead. He wasn't so bad at all. He tried so hard because he knows deep down that he has no chance with women. He just wants somebody. He was annoying at times but he was pretty funny sometimes too. He really did have a creepy candy coating.

Penny picked up her phone and tapped out: Please come over

She selected his name from her contacts and took a deep breath before sending the message.

She got up and smoothed down her hair. She walked to her living room and paced around nervously. Soon she heard a soft knock on her door and she opened it up revealing a short, concerned looking Aerospace engineer.

"Hey, is everything all right, Penny?" She could hear the warmth in his voice and smiled.

"Everything is just fine," she closed the door behind him.

"So you called me over for a little romp in the hay?" He waggled his eyebrows and she noticed the playful twinkle in his eyes.

She rolled her eyes and grabbed his wrist to lead him to her bed. She kissed his nose and shoved him backwards onto the mattress. He let out a little startled cry but didn't protest or anything as she curled up next to him. "Stay with me?"

He didn't speak but instead he put an arm over her. In his mind he was incredibly confused. Did she realize that he was in love with her? That he has been for years?

He closed his eyes and buried his face in her hair. The smell of strawberries made him smile and he slowly fell asleep the happiest guy in the entire world.