Penny threw the empty bottle of vodka in the corner of the living room and couldn't hide her surprise that it didn't break. It did make a loud thump and she was positive it left a dent on the crappy wall. She got up to get some more alcohol to drown her sorrows and found a suspicious looking bottle of clear liquid. She sipped it experimentally and grimaced. It tasted utterly disgusting! On the other hand it was the only thing she could find so she decided to make do.
She plopped herself back down on her couch and unpaused her movie. Why she picked The Notebook to watch at the time, she'll never know.
She braved a swig of the nasty liquid and watched a romantic kiss on the screen. She snorted at the scene. Ha! True love! There is no such thing! Another swig. A sour face.
All of this is because of that stupid phone call she got earlier! Alexis, the girl she always went clubbing with, decided to go off and get engaged! To make matters worse, she was getting engaged to a pediatrician who had a huge house, loved kids, was freaking hot and had a great sense of humor! Penny was invited to the wedding which was in April and she was going to be a bridesmaid. Oh, goodie!
"It's official," she said aloud, braving another drink, "all the good men are either married or gay... or fake." She glared at her TV.
She finished the movie, nearly throwing the bottle at the TV at the end, and had an idea.
If her clubbing partner was getting married, she was going clubbing alone! She'd go out, get wasted and wake up tomorrow horribly hung over with a stranger in her bed and no memory of the night before.
Yep, that's the plan!
Penny jumped in the shower, shaved, washed her hair twice and used her favorite bath soap. She got out and threw on her fiery red clubbing dress and ruby heels. She did her hair and makeup meticulously and stuck a yellow Penny Blossom in her hair carefully before heading out to the closest club she knew of.
Hours later and much, much drunker she swayed to the music under the flashing lights, in the midst of tossing and turning, drunk and sweating bodies. So many men have already come up and hit on her and she brushed them off. She didn't know why but then she realized why she's been turning them all away.
Those stupid geniuses! They frackin' ruined her for other guys! She cursed them for ruining her and decided that she needed a break. She pushed and shoved through the crowd, ignoring the gropes she received up until some meathead grabbed her breasts. She kneed him between the legs and punched him right in the perfect, snide face of his.
Eventually she made her way over to the far fall where the rejects all were. She leaned back and glanced through the crowd. She thought she saw Raj weaving his way through the crowd with a large blonde woman in a green dress but blinked and he was gone. Nope, not Raj, she figured. She's just seeing things.
She turned to make her way to the bar and ran right smack into someone and fell to the ground. She looked up at the person who outstretched his hand to help her up and took in the shiny shirt with the black dickey and super tight shiny black pants. She took the outstretched hand and got up. The short engineer scrambled to pick up her Penny Blossom that must have fell from her hair and held it out to her.
"Hey, there stranger," he waggled his eyebrows at her. "Want to hop aboard the SS. Wolowitz and-"
"Don't even finish that, Howard!" Penny put the Penny Blossom in her hair and glared at him.
He held up his hands in surrender. "Just being friendly, Madame!"
"Whatever," she rolled her eyes. "What time is it?" She had to shout to be heard over the music.
He fought to get his phone out of his tight pants and held it up to show her.
Time to call it quits and reel it in. She took notice of his wallpaper and snickered.
"You sure are a Mama's boy aren't you?" She smirked.
He looked at his phone and shoved it back in his pocket, embarrassed. "Let's just pay our tab and go home. It's late and neither of us have scored."
She grimaced but followed him through the sea of sweaty, drunk, hormonal bodies and to the bar.
She pulled her stash'o'cash from her bra and paid her tab as Howard paid his.
He led the way to the door and she nearly lost him the crowd. She had to grab his arm as he weaved through the dancers and out of the door.
They both shivered a bit in the cool March nighttime air. Penny started for her car but then remembered that she was drunk. Howard seemed to notice this and said, "I can give you a ride home if you need it."
"Howard, I am so not riding on your little scooter in this dress!" She tugged on the ends of the hemline as if to pull it further down her legs.
"It's a Vespa actually." He corrected her.
She glared at him, tossing her blonde locks over her shoulder.
He sighed and pulled his cell phone out. "I'll just call a cab then."
"All righty then!" She skipped along the sidewalk and twirled around a lamppost as he called them a cab. Howard watched as she danced to imaginary music and swayed her hips to the beat. She hummed a short tune as she twirled her hair in her fingers and skipped around him in circles. She was so out of it.
The cab arrived and she hopped in, sliding herself across the sticky seat. She wondered what the stickiness was and wrinkled her nose.
"Where to?" The cab driver asked. He had an accent and Penny looked up at him and took in his big round cheeks and bushy beard.
Howard started to answer with her address but she shushed him and gave him an address that he didn't know.
The cabbie nodded and pulled out.
Penny grinned happily at a confused Howard.
"Where are we going?"
"It's an ice cream place I know. They're open have to try the Triple Fudge Brownie Waffle Bowl Supreme!" She grinned like an excited child and he felt himself grin too.
They got there and had the driver wait for them as they placed their order and came back with two enormous waffle bowls of chocolately goodness. They ate in the back as they went to the apartment building.
Howard paid the driver and after he left the two giggly, drunks sat on the curb eating their ice cream and occasionally flinging melted ice cream at each other.
Penny dabbed chocolate on his nose and he swatted her away only to fling brownie crumbles down the front of her dress. They ate the last of their ice cream mess and staggered up the stairs, arms over each other's shoulders, singing club music loudly.
They made it to her door and she fumbled, struggling to put the key in the lock. They both erupted into a fit of laughter when she tried and failed opening the door. On the eleventh try she finally opened the door and the two close friends tumbled inside.
Howard collapsed in the center of her floor on his stomach and moaned into her carpet.
She nudged his body with her foot. "Get up, Mr. Sillyhead!"
He groaned and rolled onto his back and looked up at her. "From this vantage point I can see right up your dress you know," he slurred and winked at her.
She kicked him in the thigh and walked to her bedroom. She emerged a few minutes later with a quilt and fluffy pillow. "Here, Howie Wolowizard!" She dropped the stuff on her couch. "You can sleep here tonight."
He dragged himself over to her couch and curled up into a ball under the blanket. She watched him sleep for a minute before spying a half-full/half-empty bottle of vodka under the corner of her couch that she missed earlier. She snatched it up and sniffed it, shrugged, then took a drink.
She poked the sleeping form underneath her quilt. He stirred and opened his eyes to look at her. She saw his rumpled hair and smiled. She held up the bottle. "Drinky-drinky?"
He sat up and rubbed his eyes sleepily. "No drinky, I need sleepy."
She took another step toward him shaking the bottle and hearing the liquid slosh inside.
He swatted at her halfheartedly and she laughed.
Penny leapt at him and straddled his lap with the bottle in her hands.
He let out a surprised cry and she put the bottle his lips and poured it down his throat. He gargled at first but drank it and she pulled the bottle away to take a long drink herself.
Howard looked up her with hooded eyes and she batted her eyelashes at him.
Somehow they ended up kissing. She had her hands in his hair and his arms were wrapped around her waist tightly holding her to him.
Penny woke up at around six thirty to someone with their arms around her in a sweet embrace. She sighed content and didn't have that sickening feeling she usually did when she woke up next to someone. For some reason, this felt different. Nobody has ever held her in such a warm, sweet way before. She smiled and buried her face in the crook of his neck as she drifted off to a peaceful sleep.
Penny didn't wake up until 11:37 in the morning and that was only because she felt cold. She opened her eyes groggily and turned to see that she was all alone. Something caught her nose and her stomach rumbled with hunger. She stood and pulled her robe over her as she walked out of her door and to the kitchen where she found a tray of food waiting for her.
She yawned and stretched before inhaling the delicious scent of French toast. She picked up the tray and brought it to her couch where she dug in hungrily.
Nobody has ever made her breakfast before. Not even in Nebraska where she would wake up early and feed the animals before coming back in just as the sun was coming up and pour herself a bowl of stale cereal. Yuck.
She got up after she finished her food and dropped the stuff in the sink. That's when she noticed the carefully folded note held to her fridge by a teddy bear shaped magnet. She picked it up and brought it over to her couch before sitting down with it.
Penny stared at her name on the outside of it and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes and counted to ten. She unfolded the scrap of paper.
"I'm so sorry, Penny. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone a thing… Please forgive me."
She stared down at the words and her fingers crinkled the paper.
Why was he sorry?
He shouldn't be sorry...
Penny dropped the scrap of paper to the floor and decided that a shower would help clear her mind.
She stood under the spray as it hot water hit her back. She turned and held her face up to the showerhead. Last night was a mistake…
… Wasn't it?
She pulled her fingers through her hair roughly. Last night was different though. He was her friend. Howard was her friend. Yeah, it was incredibly weird to call him that but as much as she refused to ever admit it, that little pervert had crawled under her skin.
She really cared for him. True, she cared for all of her friends and it was weird that she was thinking of him like this but last night was crazy! She was drunk, he was drunk! It didn't mean anything… Right?
She turned off the water and stepped out of the tub and into a plush towel. She leaned against the sink and stared at her reflection in the mirror.
Her eyes looked bloodshot and her hair was wet and snarled. She looked like a mess. She was a mess. And to top it all off, she was in a mess!
She stepped out of her bathroom and shivered as she was hit by a draft. She held her towel closer to her and looked down at her bed.
A place of shame and countless one night stands. Where she would wake up alone and cry into her pillow hung over, thinking if that was really all that she had become.
She left Nebraska for fame and adventure but all she got was this crappy waitressing job and turned down at every single audition she went to. Heck, she hadn't even been to an audition in months!
She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to stop the tears from coming again. She would cry herself to sleep night after night. She didn't know what to do with herself. She really was a failure.
She dropped to her knees and her shoulders shook.
Another draft came and her skin was covered in goose bumps. She choked out a sob.
She lay like that, curled in a ball of utter failure for a few hours before crying herself out. She stood and scrubbed her face in her bathroom sink.
She was going to turn herself around. She was tired of living like this!
She ran to her closet and pulled on some clothes. When she walked out of her apartment, she was dressed in a nice pair of jeans and a conservative blouse. No more eye candy for the boys.
She stopped outside of apartment 4A and heard voices inside. She was able to point out Raj's and Leonard's. Then she could hear Howard's voice.
A fleeting memory of waking up in his arms. A soft embrace. The note that lay crumpled on her floor.
Ice cream in a cab. Chocolate sauce dabbed on a nose. Laughter.
She could feel her heart beat wildly in her chest. She swore she could even hear it too.
She took a deep breath and swallowed the lump in her throat before opening the door.
Raj squeaked and slapped his hands over his mouth.
"Hey, guys!" She called cheerfully.
"Hey, Penny," Leonard gave her a dreamy smile.
Howard averted his gaze and gave her a small nod. Odd.
"Why are you guys home? I thought you had work today." She plopped down in Sheldon's spot.
"Umm," Leonard checked his watch. "We got home a while ago." He held up a carton of Chinese food.
"Oh!" Her eyes opened wide. "Wow, I am so out of it today!" She looked around and noticed an absence. "Uh, where is Dr Doom?"
"He's back at the office. Another grad student is going after him," Leonard rolled his eyes with a smile.
She laughed. "That's just messed up."
Raj nodded with an amused smile and Leonard grinned. Howard gave another small nod with a crooked smile.
"So what are we doing tonight? Going off the schedule, right?" She popped a dumpling in her mouth.
"Actually, I have to go back to the lab to help Leslie with an experiment."
Howard rolled his eyes and finally spoke. "You mean you're going to her place for a little coitus!"
Leonard shot him a look and glanced apologetically at Penny.
She laughed. "Oh, relax Leonard! We aren't dating anymore! I don't care if you have another girl, sweetie."
He smiled sheepishly. "Then yeah, we have a date tonight."
Penny gave him a one armed hug. "Good for you! Have fun!" She winked at him and he reddened slightly.
"Well, I should be leaving." He stood and grabbed his keys. "Bye guys!"
They said bye and Raj gave him a wave as he skipped out of the door happily.
"So what's happening tonight?" She looked at her two friends.
Raj shrugged and left for the bathroom.
Howard looked away from her after the Indian left them alone.
"Howard, about last night-"
"It never happened, I know." He tugged on his shirt cuffs uncomfortably.
"Actually that wasn't what I was going to say-"
"You want to get yourself tested?" He interrupted her again. "No need, I may be a sleaze bag but I don't sleep around as much as I say."
"You don't want to hang out with-"
"HOWARD, SHUT UP AND LET ME TALK!"
He jumped back surprised but shut his mouth.
Penny exhaled and smoothed down her blouse before speaking once more. "Howard, I just wanted to tell you-"
Raj skipped back in the room and she fell silent. Then the door opened and Leonard walked in, Leslie on his arm. "Change of plans, we decided to hang out here."
"Oh, hey! It's Malibu Barbie!" Leslie smirked at a fuming Penny.
"Hello, Leslie." Her voice was flat.
Leonard led her to the couch and she sat down in between Penny and Howard. Penny leapt up and instead sat on the arm of the chair next to Raj.
Howard stood and headed toward the door. "I'm going to go home. My mom probably needs my help with her brisket or something."
The group all turned their heads to Penny who reddened and put her hand over her mouth like Raj usually did.
"Yeah?" Howard looked a little startled.
Penny closed her eyes for a moment, her plan that she thought of in the floor of her room went through her mind and without thinking she leapt up and ran across the room.
She leapt into the short engineer's arms and crushed her mouth to his ignoring the startled cries from everybody else in the room.
"What the frack!" Raj was the only one who could speak.