So I thought of this this morning when I was looking at the first few posts of the Snowflake Snuggler thread at Fanforum, and a few of those posts got me on the train of thought (whoo whoo!) that ended with this idea.
I don't own anything.
Penny let her apartment door slam. As the sound of it reached her ears, however, she began to wonder if that was a good idea or not. If Priya heard it, she probably had a smirk on her face by now. And then you'll go home and tell your big brother about it, won't you, you gossipy, controlling bitch?
She collapsed on her couch and dialed the phone, holding it to her ear with one hand and using the other to prop her forehead up as she stared at the area above her door that looked like a hole had been drilled through the wall at one point in time. Probably the transvestite. "Pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up…"
"Hi, you've reached the voice mail of Amy Farrah Fowler, PhD. Leave a message and if you want me to get back to you, make it sound important."
"Amy, you don't have to call me back," Penny said. "But next time you come over, I really need you to have some good insults about Priya. Please."
She hung up the phone and moved one key further on her speed dial. This time, the recipient answered. "Hey, what's wrong?"
"Why does something have to be wrong?" Penny asked, feigning ignorance.
"You never call me when I'm at Howard's house."
"Oh! That was today?" Penny said. "Wow, well, I guess I could call back later…"
"No, we can talk now. Howard had to take his mother to her dermatologist. I just came over early. What's up?"
"Priya and Leonard are going to the zoo."
There was a silence. Then, "okay, I know I have to say 'that bitch', but again, more information?"
"I," Penny said, sitting up and pointing at herself, even though Bernadette couldn't see, "I was going to suggest to him that we go to the zoo. But then we broke up."
More silence. "Penny, that's so immeasurably not her fault."
"Who's side are you on?" Penny asked.
"Sorry." Bernadette cleared her throat. "That bitch!"
"Better." Penny sighed.
"I know it's still hard," Bernadette said gently.
"God…" Penny felt tears threatening to emerge from her eyes. She hadn't cried in a week. "It's just worse because…all these coincidences…Leonard didn't know that I wanted to ask him to go to the zoo…and of all places…"
"Hey," Bernadette said. "Come over to Howard's."
"Is he there?"
"Right. Okay." Penny stood up. "I'll be there in fifteen minutes."
Bernadette let Penny in, and they went up to Howard's room. "So…the zoo, huh?" The microbiologist said sympathetically.
Penny waved a hand in front of her face. "Stop!"
"I'm sorry!" Bernadette moved forward and wrapped her arms around her friend. "Don't cry. There's been too much crying."
"I'm fine…I'm fine…" Penny said, letting Bernadette hold her as she sucked in deep breaths. "I'm such a baby. I should be used to it by now."
"Come here," Bernadette said, backing over to Howard's bed and sitting on the end.
Penny shook her head. "I'm not touching those sheets."
Bernadette rolled her eyes. We haven't done it in this bed since…well, they've been washed since then. You're fine."
Penny climbed onto the bed and sat cross – legged. "Not to re – hash something we've been discussing for a month, but…" She put her head in her hands. "Why can't I just let him go?"
Bernadette put a hand on her friend's shoulder. "You know why."
"Mmmhmm," she said, nodding into her hands.
"You know what might help?" Bernadette said. "Coming up with things that you don't like about him."
"I can't," Penny said. "He's perfect."
"No, he's not!" Bernadette said. "He…he…" She stopped herself, wondering what side she truly was on. She wanted to help Penny feel better, but she didn't want to discourage her in the long run by helping now. "Let me start," she said, buying herself time. "Howard is attached to his mother, he spies on his friends during dates, he drinks so much chocolate milk that I'm afraid he's going to float away, and…"
"He spies on dates?" Penny said, looking up, shock evident on her face.
Bernadette widened her own eyes and nodded. "He does! He told me of all sorts of dates he's spied on. There's a collection of the tapes over here…" She got up and went over to a shelf, labled with duct tape as The Black Boxes.
"Wow," Penny said, kneeling beside her friend and putting a finger to one of the labels. "Leonard and Stephanie – First date approved by me." For some reason it hadn't occurred to her that he would have spied on Leonard. "Does he have any of Leonard and Priya?" she asked.
"No," she said. "He stopped when he started dating me."
"Aw, that's sweet," Penny said.
"No, no, long before he started dating me. Long before you and Leonard dated, too. And even if he had one of Leonard and Priya, you don't want to see it, do you?"
"Oh. Ew. No." Penny shook her head. She looked at more videotapes, most of which featured the little spy himself. Then the label on one caught her eye – the last tape on the first shelf. "Leonard and Penny – Cat died fast." She reached for it, pulling it out and looking at the front. "Bernadette! This is us!"
"You and Leonard?" Bernadette said curiously, looking over at the label.
"No, me and his OCD room mate," Penny said sarcastically.
"Wow, I guess he didn't stop before you guys dated," Bernadette said, looking confused.
"Oh, he didn't lie to you," Penny said. "This date was a year before we hooked up. And Raj and Howard didn't consider that a date."
"Did you guys…"
"No," Penny said, laughing. "Here, we can watch it." She went over to Howard's T.V.
"Yeah," she said. "There's nothing gross, don't worry." She inserted the tape and rewinded a bit, watching her and Leonard's distorted images reenact their hallway conversation in reverse. Seeing them start to back down the stairs, Penny stopped the reversal. Pressing play, the images of her and Leonard (clearer now) in the hallway filled the screen.
He moved toward her and they tentatively kissed. The shot changed, the camera was altering its view. It must have made a noise, for Leonard looked up. Penny, watching the video, could tell by the way his eyes met hers through the screen that he had seen the camera. He started walking Penny toward his apartment door.
Penny's hand went to her mouth. That's what that was all about!
"Oh my God, he actually filmed this stuff," Bernadette said from next to Penny. "Half of me thought he was kidding. What's going on?"
"Well they're…zooming in on my chest, classy," Penny said, rolling her eyes. "I remember this. He started acting really weird…and I can definitely see why!" She kept a hand to her mouth as she watched – and listened – to the conversation that came back to her as she heard it. "Oh my God…if only I'd known."
"Are you aware you didn't back it up all the way?" Bernadette asked.
Penny looked down and realized there was several minutes that she wouldn't have seen. "There was…so little before that…an empty hallway?"
"They were probably watching on a laptop," Bernadette pointed out, "and the camera would have turned on when it detected motion."
"Point." Penny pressed re-wind.
"Here," Bernadette said. "Hi-speed rewind. You won't have to see the distorted backwards images."
"Right." Penny felt stupid. That technology had only been available for, well, years. "I look fat in reverse, anyway." Bernadette giggled. "Shut up," Penny said, laughing.
"Here we go," Bernadette said, pressing play. "We're at the beginning."
Penny's jaw dropped. "That's my apartment!"
Bernadette's jaw was on the floor as well. "How did they get…"
"The transvestite drill hole!" Penny shouted.
Bernadette looked confused. "What?"
"There's a little hole near my apartment door. I assumed it was there before…" she trailed off.
Her…she…was pacing by the kitchen, wringing her hands and glancing at the clock. Then she looked toward the door and ran over to it. Penny saw her past self's shoulder's heave with a deep breath before opening it.
"Can we get some volume on this thing?" She asked. Bernadette, who was standing by the remote, held a button down until the conversation could be heard.
"I made an eight o' clock reservation," said Past Leonard.
Penny smiled as she saw her past self stammer out a response. She remembered how nervous she had been that day.
"Does watching this, hurt?" Bernadette asked. Penny shook her head. This was her and Leonard before the problems – before the relationship, really. Sure, she was nostalgic, but for some odd reason this didn't make her want to cry. It made her happy.
"Have you ever heard of Schrödinger's Cat?" Past Leonard was asking.
Penny felt herself smile as she saw – from this odd angle of almost completely straight up, but slightly to the side – her expressive reaction to Leonard's question. As her past self spoke, Penny mouthed the words that she remembered so well. " Actually, I've heard far too much about Schrödinger's Cat."
Penny saw Bernadette smile at Leonard's small head motion, the word "good", and moved toward Penny, putting a hand on her cheek and the other on her shoulder as they kissed. Penny saw her left hand move from resting on Leonard's shoulder to gripping his suit. Then she saw them separate, her own face betraying her thoughts. Charlotte would have woven Some Kiss.
And Penny felt herself smile as her past self uttered the words that she'd thought of so often ever sense that moment, captured on screen, when they were first uttered.
"All right, the Cat's alive, let's go to dinner."
When the duo went into the hall, there was a half – second of a blank screen, and then the hallway camera picked them up heading down the stairwell.
Bernadette shut off the television. "Wow," she said, looking at Penny.
Penny remembered herself only moments ago thinking if only I'd known when seeing the cameras for the first time. Now, she was thinking of her remark about the Cat. I had known.
Then she thought of their breakup. If only I'd listened to myself.
Bernadette appeared to be thinking of what to say when she got a text. "It's Howard. They're on their way."
"Right." Penny wiped her sweaty palms on her legs. "I'll be going. Thank you, Bernadette."
"No problem," she said, smiling. "Let me know if you need anything else, okay?"
"Actually…" Penny wrung her hands again.
"Uh – oh, she's nervous," Bernadette teased.
"Shush. Actually, I was wondering…could I have that tape?"
Bernadette hesitated. The tape was Howard's. But as far as she knew, he'd never watched it. And she was going to be his wife, she should have some say in things. "Take it."
Penny pulled the tape out of the television and put it in her bag. She and Bernadette hugged. "Thanks, Bernadette."
"I'll pass that on to my spy of a fiancé," she said, laughing.
Penny laughed, and headed back down to her car. She wasn't sure if she should be feeling better, but she was. One of her and Leonard's best moments had been captured, and now she'd always have it with her, not only in her heart.
Hope you guys liked it! And I'm sure some of you guys caught this, but I mentioned the specific place that the tape was located on the shelf for a reason...anyway, reviews are appreciated! And for the new member of this site that just reviewed my Leonard/Sheldon fic, I know you don't have private messaging, so just let me say "Thank you, I'm flattered." :D