*This is a fun little fic I wrote as a Christmas gift for my mom and sister. I hope you all enjoy it as much as they did. I do not own The Big Bang Theory, otherwise Penny & Leonard would be married with smart/beautiful babies right now. Happy Reading!
Penny sighed as she opened her work locker and stuffed her apron inside. She slung her purse over her shoulder, then stared into her locker for a few minutes before deciding to finally take her Secret Santa gift home. It was some sort of weird statue thing that one of the other waitresses had brought back from the Caribbean. It was too ugly for Penny to want it in her apartment, but she didn't want Marcy to accidentally see her throw it away.
Penny was still frowning at the statue when Bernadette came up behind her. "Hi, Penny," she greeted cheerfully. "Do you still need a ride home?"
Penny nodded. "Yeah," she replied. "I called the mechanic today, and he said they're gonna have my car until Friday. Thanks for the ride."
Bernadette smiled. "It's no biggie," she said. "We're having dinner with the guys anyway, right?"
"Right," Penny agreed, immediately cheered by the thought. "I totally forgot. It's Thursday night, so that means…pizza."
Bernadette's smile widened. "I can't wait; I'm starving." As they exited the restaurant and headed for Bernadette's car, Bernadette glanced at the statue that Penny was carrying.
"Finally getting rid of that thing, huh?" she asked.
Penny rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I figured some hobo might wanna decorate his dumpster with it." She looked at the statue and frowned. "Then again, maybe not."
Bernadette laughed with Penny as they got into her car. "You know, I've been thinking," Bernadette said as she started towards Penny's apartment.
"About what?" Penny asked.
"I think we should do our own Secret Santa," Bernadette replied. "You, me, Amy, and the guys. What do you think?"
"That could be fun," Penny said enthusiastically. "We at least know each other well enough to give and get decent gifts." She thought for a moment. "It shouldn't be too hard to organize. I mean, we'll have to set a price limit and make sure nobody gets stuck with themselves, but other than that…"
Bernadette squealed happily. "I'm so excited already. Do you think we should tell everyone tonight?" she asked as they pulled up to Penny's building.
Penny nodded. "Sure. The sooner the better, right? Christmas is, what, three weeks away?"
Bernadette gasped. "You're right," she cried, running for the door. She turned and gestured frantically to Penny. "Come on, time's a-wastin'." She waited for Penny to get out of the car, then dashed into the building and up the stairs.
Penny followed Bernadette up the stairs at a slower pace after stopping to check her mail. When she reached the fourth floor, Leonard and Sheldon's door was open, and she could hear voices inside.
"Hey guys," Penny greeted as she entered the apartment. Leonard was in his usual chair, Bernadette and Howard were on the floor by the couch, and Raj was sharing the couch with Sheldon and Amy. Two pizza boxes lay empty on the coffee table.
"Hi, Penny," Leonard said. "We managed to save some pizza for you." He held out a paper plate with a grin.
"Aww, thank you." Penny took her normal spot next to Leonard, setting down her purse and the statue so that she could take the pizza from him.
Raj leaned over to whisper something to Howard. Howard frowned and tilted his head to one side. "No, I don't know what it is either," he said.
Penny followed their gaze to the statue at her feet. "Oh, that," she said dismissively. "That's just a hideous Secret Santa gift I got at work. I'm probably just gonna throw it away. Unless one of you guys actually wants it…"
"You know," Sheldon said, "it does have a rather unique structure that I find aesthetically pleasing."
Penny looked at him hopefully. "Really?"
Sheldon smirked. "No," he replied. "I find it just as hideous as you do. You've once again fallen for one of my classic pranks," he said with a chuckle. "Bazinga."
"So, speaking of Secret Santa," Bernadette piped up. "Penny and I thought it might be fun if we did a Secret Santa this year."
Amy frowned. "Why would we do that?" she asked. "If all Secret Santa gifts are as hideous as Penny's, why would we waste our money buying each other something that's just going to get thrown away?"
"Not all Secret Santa gifts have to be ugly," Penny defended. "And we thought that since we're all such good friends, we'll be able to get each other presents that we know everyone will like."
Leonard shrugged. "I think it's a great idea. I'm in."
Raj whispered something to Howard, who nodded thoughtfully. "What the heck, we're in too."
Amy and Sheldon looked at each other. "What do you say?" Amy asked. "Shall we kowtow to peer pressure?"
Sheldon shrugged. "Why not?" he replied. "Besides, it might get my mother off my back about celebrating Christmas. Amy and I are also 'in'."
"Yay!" Penny said, clapping enthusiastically. "This is gonna be fun guys, I promise."
Bernadette took out a piece of paper, tearing it into seven pieces. "Penny and I thought we should start right away, since Christmas is so close. Everyone write your name on a piece of paper and put it my hat. Once everyone's name is in the hat, we'll draw our Secret Santa, starting with Penny. You'll have three weeks to find a gift for the person you draw, and we'll exchange gifts here on Christmas Eve."
"We did come up with a couple of rules," Penny remarked as they wrote their names down. "There's a thirty dollar price limit, so make sure you don't spend more than that. Also, we thought it would be best if roommates didn't buy for each other, so Leonard can't have Sheldon's name, and vice versa. The same goes for Howard and Bernadette. Is everything clear?"
"I have a question," Sheldon said.
Penny sighed. "Yes, Sheldon?"
"What happens if I draw Leonard's name from the hat?" Sheldon asked.
Penny sighed again. "Then you put it back and draw a different name. Same goes for drawing your own name."
"Okay, all the names are in," Bernadette announced. "Time to pick your Secret Santa!" She shook the hat a little, then handed it to Penny.
Penny reached in and grabbed the first slip of paper she touched. She unfolded it, smiling when she saw Leonard's messy signature. As the hat circulated around the group, Penny suddenly thought of an unfortunate dilemma; she had no clue what to get him.
Leonard was making one last adjustment to the laser he was using for his latest experiment. He was so absorbed in his work that he didn't notice the door to his lab open and close. As a result, he jumped nearly a foot in the air when someone spoke from the doorway.
"Holy sh-" Leonard jumped back from the laser, knocking his glasses slightly askew. He straightened them, focusing on his visitor. "Amy? What are you doing here?"
"I'm sorry if I startled you, Leonard," Amy apologized. "But I have a couple of questions for you. First, is it socially acceptable for someone to know the identity of another person's Secret Santa, as long as it is not the first person?"
Leonard stared at Amy for a moment before answering. "Yeah, that's fine."
Amy smiled. "Good. That leads into my second question. Do you know what Penny might want for Christmas?"
"Not off the top of my head, no," Leonard replied, frowning. "So, you got Penny's name, huh?" he asked after a moment.
"Yes," Amy said, nodding. "And I hope you're not going to ask me to trade with you. Apparently, so many people have asked Penny and Bernadette about trading that they instituted a no trading rule."
"I wasn't going to," Leonard assured her. "I already know what I'm getting for my Secret Santa."
Amy sighed. "Well, this has been a complete waste of time. I'll let you get back to your little experiment." She turned to leave the room.
Leonard sighed. "Amy, wait," he called, stopping her in her tracks. "I know what you can get for Penny."
"Really?" Amy asked. "But you just said…"
"Yeah, I lied." Leonard pulled a slip of paper out of his wallet. "You remember Stuart from the Comic Book Store? The one you went on a date with?" Amy nodded. "He has a friend that works in the movie industry who can get Penny auditions for some pretty big movies. Here's his name, email address, and phone number," he said, handing over the paper. "Get a hold of him, but make sure he knows you're a friend of Stuart's. He'll get you what you need."
Amy took the paper, looking impressed. "Wow, you really thought this through."
Leonard sighed. "Yeah, well, that was going to be my Christmas gift to Penny, but you need it more than I do."
"That's very thoughtful of you, Leonard," Amy said. "I never realized you were such a great guy."
Leonard watched Amy leave with a sinking feeling. "Yeah, I'm freaking terrific…"
"Dude, I can't help you," Raj repeated, turning on Howard abruptly. "Just drop it, okay?"
Howard sighed. "I can't just drop it," he insisted. "You've gotta help me out here," he begged.
Raj scowled at Howard. "I am not trading Secret Santas with you," he said, opening his office door and escaping inside.
Howard followed him determinedly. "Give me one good reason why not," he demanded.
Raj rolled his eyes. "I can give you two," he replied. "First, Penny and Bernadette made a no trading rule."
"They don't have to know," Howard scoffed. "They don't know who got what name."
"Second…" Raj continued as though he hadn't heard. "I already have my Secret Santa gift bought and wrapped and ready for Christmas Eve."
"I'll pay you for the gift," Howard offered desperately. "Come on man, I can't buy a gift for Amy Farrah Fowler. I have no idea what to get her."
Raj shrugged. "Just think of what you would buy for Sheldon and get the girl version of that," he suggested.
"That's your advice?" Howard asked incredulously. He shook his head. "I should have just asked Leonard to trade," he muttered.
Raj glared at him. "Look, dude, you asked me to help. This is me helping." His expression turned quizzical. "What have you been doing for the past two weeks anyway?"
Howard sighed. "Trying to figure out what I was getting Bernadette for Christmas. I finally figured that out, so now I've moved on to Amy."
Raj shrugged. "Whatever, dude." They were quiet for a few minutes until Raj spoke up again. "Have you tried asking Sheldon?" he asked.
Howard snorted. "Yeah, 'cause that would be a pleasant conversation. 'Hey, Sheldon, what do you think I should get your girlfriend for Christmas?'"
"Well, whatever you decide to do, decide quickly," Raj advised. "Otherwise, you'll be the only one who doesn't have a present to give."
"Penny." knock, knock, knock "Penny." knock, knock, knock "Penny." knock, knock, knock.
Penny opened her door, folding her arms across her chest. "What up, Shelly?" she asked, a slight edge to her voice.
Sheldon looked around sheepishly. "I have a dilemma," he admitted, not meeting her eyes.
Penny sighed, opening her door wider. "Come on in," she said, heading for the kitchen. "What's your dilemma?" she asked, grabbing a bottle of wine from the fridge and opening it.
Sheldon perched on her couch, trying to avoid the mess of wrapping paper and bows that littered most of the room. "I don't know what gift to get for my Secret Santa. I was told you could help me."
Penny took a drink from her bottle before replying. "Who do you have?" she asked, sighing again.
"Bernadette," Sheldon replied. "That's part of my dilemma. I don't know Bernadette well enough to know what she'd want for Christmas."
"Did you ask Howard?" Penny asked, frowning.
"Well, yes…" Sheldon admitted.
Penny raised her eyebrows. "Well, what did he tell you?"
Sheldon cleared his throat. "Some things that I'm not comfortable repeating," he said sullenly. "Certainly nothing helpful. That's why I came to you."
Penny groaned. "Sheldon, you've had over two weeks to ask for help. Why are you just coming to me about this now?"
Sheldon looked down at his hands. "I thought I could think of something myself," he confessed. "But every time I suggested something to Leonard, he either laughed at me or gave me the look. You know the look I'm talking about," he added.
Penny chuckled. "Yeah, I know the look," she confirmed. She took another drink, then focused on Sheldon. "Look, I'll do this for you if you do something for me," she offered.
Sheldon immediately felt nervous. "What would that be?" he asked cautiously.
"I still don't know what I'm getting Leonard for Christmas," she admitted, biting her lip.
Sheldon's eyes widened. "Penny, our gift exchange is in exactly one week."
"I know," Penny groaned, taking another drink. "And I know this is kinda hypothetical…"
"Hypocritical," Sheldon corrected automatically.
Penny rolled her eyes. "Whatever. Will you just help me?"
Sheldon thought for a moment. "Alright," he agreed. "But only if you help me find a gift for Bernadette."
"Of course," Penny said, starting to pace her kitchen. "Well, I know she's been pretty stressed out lately with work and the wedding plans and with Christmas coming up," she mused. "Maybe you could get her something that'll help her relax," she suggested.
Sheldon frowned. "How would I do that?" he asked, perplexed. "I don't know what Bernadette does to relax. Does she read or listen to music or maybe light scented candles? The possibilities are endless."
Penny stopped pacing. "Wait, there's this spa that she's mentioned wanting to go to. You can buy gift certificates for massages and stuff on their website. Hold on," she said, rummaging through her purse. "I know it's in here somewhere," she muttered. "Aha!"
She held out a small, battered card triumphantly. "What is this?" Sheldon asked skeptically.
"It's the spa's business card," Penny explained. "See, it even has the website on it."
Sheldon examined the card. "Oh, yes, I see it now," he said, standing to leave. "Thank you, Penny."
"Sheldon, wait," she said, stopping him.
"What?" he asked, turning around.
"You still need to help me," Penny explained. "I need to find a gift for Leonard. Do you know what he wants for Christmas?"
Sheldon thought for a moment. "No," he replied, shaking his head.
Penny growled in frustration. "That doesn't help me, Sheldon."
"Well, what did you get him for Christmas when the two of you were dating?" Sheldon asked, glancing at the door impatiently.
Penny frowned at him. "What did I get him when we were…" She trailed off momentarily, then turned back to Sheldon, grinning. "Oh my god, Sheldon, you're a genius!" she exclaimed.
"True," Sheldon agreed. "But I don't see what that has to do with anything."
"Don't worry about it," Penny said dismissively, ushering him out the door. "You just go get your present for Bernadette. I have a lot of planning to do." She pushed him into the hallway and slammed the door.
Sheldon stared at Penny's door for a moment, then shrugged. He examined the business card again as he walked back to his apartment. "Alright, little guy," he muttered. "Let's see if you're worth the price I paid."
Penny made her way across the hall to the guys' apartment, Leonard's present in hand. Due to Sheldon's laundry schedule and Penny's late shift at The Cheesecake Factory, it was already close to ten pm. She smoothed the front of her dress and knocked on the door.
Leonard opened the door, grinning. "Hey, Penny," he greeted, hugging her. "Come on in."
Penny followed him inside, still blushing from the unexpected hug. She set her gift on the coffee table and took her usual spot, looking around the room. Sheldon was in his spot, wearing a hideous Christmas sweater covered in snowmen and reindeer. Amy was sitting next to him, wearing an equally ugly sweater. Raj was in the kitchen with Leonard, guzzling eggnog, and Howard and Bernadette were giggling on the floor by the couch.
Leonard reentered the living room, placing a tray of snacks on the coffee table. "Alright guys, looks like everyone's here," he said, taking his chair. "Why don't we get started?"
"I'll go first," Howard volunteered, taking a medium-sized package from the pile. "Here you go," he said, handing the gift to Amy. "Merry Christmas, Amy."
"Thank you, Howard," Amy replied, opening her present. "The Hunger Games trilogy," she commented, examining the set of books.
"You haven't read them yet, have you?" Howard asked nervously.
"No, but I've been wanting to for some time," Amy replied. "There's just something about dystopian societies that really gets me going. Thank you, again."
"Alrighty," Penny said, rubbing her hands together. "Who's up next?"
Raj raised his hand. "Ooh, I'll go!" he said excitedly. He grabbed a box and handed it to Howard. "Merry Christmas, Secret Santa!"
"Ahh…" Howard said, starting to open the box. "I get it now…"
"You get what now?" Bernadette asked suspiciously.
"Nothing," Howard replied quickly, removing the tissue paper from the box. He gaped at the present, then up at Raj, then back at the present. "Is this really…"
"A Dark Mark belt buckle?" Raj finished, grinning. "Yup."
"Dude, this is so awesome!" Howard exclaimed. "Bernie, look!" he cried, shoving the box at Bernadette.
"I see, Howie," she replied. "It's very nice." She pushed the box back at him, smiling. "Why don't I go next," she volunteered, taking her present from the stack. "This is for you, Sheldon. Merry Christmas."
"Thank you, Bernadette," Sheldon said, meticulously unwrapping the gift she'd handed him. His mouth fell open when he saw his present. "This is a vintage The Flash lunchbox," he whispered. "I've wanted one of these since I was a child."
Bernadette grinned. "I found it in an antique shop," she explained. "I had to haggle with the owner for over an hour to get it in our price range. Open it up; there's more inside."
Sheldon opened the lunchbox with a gasp. "There's a thermos, too," he said gleefully. "Oh, thank you, Bernadette. This is wonderful."
"You're welcome, Sheldon," she said, grinning happily.
Sheldon reached over and handed her an envelope. "This is for you, from me," he said. "If you don't like it, it was Penny's idea."
Penny glared at Sheldon as Bernadette opened the envelope. "Oh my gosh, Sheldon, this is great. I've been wanting to go to this spa for months. Thank you so much."
"Not a problem," Sheldon replied, smiling at Bernadette and then Penny. She smiled back grudgingly.
"Alright," Leonard said, breaking the tension. "I'll go next." He grabbed the biggest package left on the table. "Merry Christmas, Raj."
Raj squealed in excitement when he opened his present. "A Chewbacca backpack!" he exclaimed, hugging it. "Dude, this is so awesome!"
Leonard and Penny exchanged grins. "Open it," he encouraged. "There's more to it."
Raj unzipped the backpack and squealed again. "Candy! This is the greatest Christmas present ever!" he said, hugging Leonard tightly.
Once Raj had released Leonard, Penny grabbed her present and handed it to him. "Merry Christmas, Leonard," she said, beaming excitedly.
Leonard opened the small gift, a book of papers on a key ring, smiling when he read the cover. "A coupon book?" he asked, sounding amused.
"Yeah," Penny enthused, eager to explain her gift. "There's all sorts of stuff in there. Like, free dinner and a movie, a tank of gas, a back massage, and a bunch of other stuff. Plus, the best part is, they never expire."
"Huh, this is pretty cool," Leonard said, flipping through the book. "Thanks, Penny." He reached over to give her a hug, and she took the opportunity to whisper in his ear.
"There's actually more to the gift," she whispered. "Come over to my apartment at midnight." As they broke apart, he nodded and gave her a small smile.
"The last gift is for you, Penny," Amy announced, handing Penny the last box. "Merry Christmas, bestie."
Penny unwrapped the present to find a set of four scripts. "Wow, movie scripts," she remarked, flipping through them. "From the Ashes, The Wedding, Spirit Fighter, Unbeautiful…" She smiled at Amy. "These are really cool, Amy, but I've never heard of any of these movies."
"That's because none of them have even been cast yet," Amy explained. "There's more to the gift. Look in the very bottom of the box."
Penny pulled out a list of dates, times, and locations. Her jaw dropped as realization struck. "Oh my god…Amy, are these auditions?" she asked incredulously. "How did you even get these?"
"Stuart from the Comic Book Store has a friend in the movie industry," Amy explained. "He was able to get me advanced copies of the screenplays, as well as auditions for you. You'll notice that the auditions are far enough apart that you can cancel later ones if you get a role."
Penny put a shaking hand to her mouth. "Amy, this is incredible," she whispered, fighting back tears. "Thank you so much." She pulled Amy up from the couch, embracing her fiercely.
She could feel Amy's hesitation as she hugged back. "You shouldn't be thanking me," Amy finally whispered. "It was Leonard's idea."
Christmas Day: Midnight
Penny sat on her couch nervously, waiting for Leonard to arrive. She was still a little shell-shocked from Amy's revelation, and had excused herself from the party earlier than she'd originally intended in order to calm herself down. Penny still couldn't believe what Leonard had essentially done for her, and she wasn't sure what that implied, if anything.
A knock on the door shook Penny from her thoughts. She walked to the door, smoothing her dress again before opening it. Leonard was standing there expectantly. "Hi," he said softly, and his accompanying smile sent Penny's heart racing.
"Hi," she replied shakily. "Come on in."
Leonard's eyes widened as he took in her apartment. She had spent a better part of the last hour cleaning meticulously. Her table was set for two, complete with candles, and she had spent the week decorating for Christmas.
"Wow, Penny, the place looks great," Leonard commented.
"Thanks," Penny said, trying to hide her trembling hands. "I made Christmas dinner, if you wanna eat," she offered. "I mean, I know it's midnight, and it's only spaghetti and meatballs, but…" she trailed off nervously.
Leonard smiled. "I'd love that," he assured her.
Penny retreated into her kitchen for a few minutes, making sure that her hands were steady enough to carry the plates to the table. She also brought a bottle of wine, pouring some for both of them.
Leonard raised his glass to make a toast. "To Christmas," he said simply.
"To Christmas," Penny repeated, clinking her glass against his, then taking a long sip. They ate in silence for a few minutes until Leonard spoke again.
"So, you said there was more to my gift?" he asked. "Or was that just a ruse to get me over here and get me drunk," he teased, raising an eyebrow suggestively.
Penny giggled, feeling her tension dissolve. "You caught me," she deadpanned. She continued more seriously. "The second part of your gift is over here," she assured him. "But first I wanted to thank you."
Leonard frowned. "For what?" he asked, obviously confused.
Penny smiled at him. "Amy told me everything, Leonard," she confessed. "How the movie audition thing was your idea; how that was going to be your Christmas gift for me; how you gave her Stuart's contact. Everything."
Leonard shifted in his chair. "Penny, I…" he started.
"No, Leonard," Penny said, taking his hand. "That is the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me. I never thought any gift could top the snowflake from the North Pole, but this does." She paused for a moment, gathering her courage. "Leonard, I've done some really dumb things in my life, but breaking up with you has to be the dumbest thing I've ever done."
Leonard's eyes widened, but he didn't respond, so Penny continued. "I don't really know what I was thinking when I did it," she admitted. "I guess I thought that we just needed some time apart, and I didn't think that it would hurt you as much as it did. And for a while I had myself convinced that I was over you, but then you started dating Priya, and that went out the window. And it killed me seeing you with her because I knew that she wasn't right for you, and I could just tell that you weren't really happy with her, and I wanted you to be happy." She took a deep breath. "What I wanted most of all though, what I still want more than anything, was a chance to make things right with you."
Leonard seemed to have frozen in place. Penny got up and started pacing. "That's the second part of your gift, Leonard; I want to give us another shot."
"Penny…" Leonard said, finally finding his voice. She could hear the reproach in his voice, and it brought tears to her eyes.
She turned her back on him, trying to hide the fact that she was crying. "I'm sorry," she muttered, shaking her head. "It was a stupid idea. I just thought…"
Leonard spun her around gently, cutting her off with a kiss. Penny wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer as the kiss deepened. They pulled apart after a few minutes, but Penny kept her arms around Leonard.
"Wow," she whispered, unable to think of anything else to say.
Leonard grinned. "You have no idea how long I've wanted to do that."
"I think I might," Penny replied, giggling. "So, does this mean you're accepting the gift?"
Leonard looked at her incredulously. "Do you really have to ask?"
Penny ducked her head, blushing. "I guess not," she said sheepishly.
Leonard lifted her chin up, kissing her again. "Merry Christmas, Penny," he whispered.
"Merry Christmas, Leonard."
*Oh, how I wish this would actually happen. Alas, the writers never use my ideas...Oh well, I hope you enjoyed this :)