So this is actually one of the hardest oneshots I've ever written. Partly because I thought that that scene didn't need anything added to it. But a oneshot was requested by my lovely friend Brit, and therefore it was written. Here you go, Snowflake Snugglers! This is the next time Penny and Leonard see each other after their final scene in The 43 Peculiarity.
Edit: SlightlyOffKey wrote a prequel fic to this fic called "Reflections". I highly recommend taking a look at it after reading this fic.
There was a knock at her door, and Penny barely looked up from sorting her mail. "Come in!" She called.
The door opened, and Leonard appeared in the newly created gap. "Hey."
"Hey!" she said, looking up and offering him a smile. She looked back at her mail, oddly nervous. It was their first conversation since…since earlier this evening, and she'd spent most of her shift wondering when she'd see him again. He promised that they wouldn't make a big deal out of everything, but at the same time…he'd been waiting for her to feel the way she did for years.
"How was work?" he asked, coming over and sitting on the couch. He didn't come over to the table, where she was standing. Was he intentionally giving her space? Or was that where he would have gone anyway?
"It was okay," she said. "You know, considering I'm bad at my job."
He gave her an amused smile. "You won't be working there forever."
"That's not the plan, anyway," she said. There was a small silence, not really awkward, just noticeable, and Penny wondered if he was thinking about bringing up earlier. She could understand if he wanted to, she could absolutely understand it, but she didn't know if she was comfortable with talking about it. She wasn't used to expressing something this deep; she preferred to keep it simple and light, and she knew, even hours later, that if they talked about it, she'd cry.
Her head jerked slightly. What did he want to talk about? Did he want to overthink this? Penny didn't know what there was to overthink. Her tone, perhaps? Or her shocked silence when she'd realized exactly what she'd confessed?
"You've been on your feet for hours, sit down and look at that."
She couldn't remember him ever seeming sympathetic to a four hour shift. Not that he ever made fun of them…but was that significant? Was he dancing around brining up what she was sure he really did want to talk about? Penny simply smiled and set the remaining mail down on the table as her phone pinged, and she looked at it, frowning slightly at the timing. Hey – I found an article that goes against a few of our points. I'm checking out the credibility of it, and if it checks out, we may have to rework the middle paragraph.
"Something wrong?" Leonard asked.
She looked up. "No. No, it's just…" She put the phone down on the table. "Leonard, you're not going to say anything and you're just going to let me talk, okay?"
Leonard looked confused. "Okay…"
His face told Penny that he hadn't spent the last four hours figuring out how to bring anything up. He was doing what she'd asked and not making a big deal. He messed up so many little things in their relationship, but he was doing this, the most important part, right, and the sudden realization that this time he was just reacting the way a boyfriend should and that she was the one whose mind was racing and who was overthinking everything made getting words out suddenly difficult. So she came over, allowing a few second to compose herself, and then sat down on the couch next to him. "I have to meet my friend tomorrow," she said. "We might have to fix our assignment."
Leonard nodded. "Okay."
She was sure that he really was okay with it, that her earlier words had calmed all of his nerves, but her nerves were still there and her words kept coming. "I'm telling you because I really need to pass this class; it's important to me, and…" she trailed off, putting a hand to her mouth. "And…" she tried again, her voice cracking, "and I don't want it to seem like I don't care that you don't like him, but…" she stopped again. She was going to cry. The only way to avoid crying in front of Leonard was to abruptly leave or order him away. But too much of those things had happened in the past couple of years. And while he swore up and down that he trusted her, it really did feel like he didn't sometimes. And as doing anything against their relationship was the last thing that she ever wanted to do, that hurt. She'd been honest with him in the hallway earlier, and now she wanted to be honest again, in the hope that, if her feelings weren't enough to completely drive the Green Eyed Monster from her boyfriend, her additional words would. "I just need to make sure that you know that I would never do anyth…" She looked away, tears escaping. "Dammit." She looked away, leaning to the side of the couch ever so slightly, trying to compose herself and knowing that it was pointless.
"Hey," Leonard said. "Don't look that way. Look at me."
She did. He moved a little closer and put a hand on her knee and a hand on her shoulder. "I trust you, okay? And…and I know that if you feel about me the way I feel about you, there's nothing in the world to worry about. You probably wouldn't know he was hitting on you even if he was."
"That sounds more like something you would do," she said, cracking a smile and wiping her eyes.
He smiled back. "I guarantee you that no one is hitting on me," he said.
She met his gaze and smiled again. "If that's the case, then it's almost a shame that I'm the only one that sees what a great guy you are."
"You make me better."
"I make you worse, too."
"But that's okay," Leonard said. "Isn't it? Doesn't that mean that…" he trailed off and shrugged. "…we know each other at the best and at the worst? And we still…"
"Love each other?"
"Well," Leonard said, "Per your own request I wasn't going to bring it up, but…"
She let out a laugh, almost choking because of that stupid inability to breath normally that accompanies crying, and looked down at her knees for another moment while she wiped her eyes. She looked back at him and smiled, and he smiled back.
"You know, though," she said, moving her head to the side to reference earlier in the conversation. "You know that I'd never do anything."
"Because, you know," she said, smiling. "I'm a little bit crazy about you."
"Then why are you still resting against the couch?"
She grinned and shifted her weight, leaning against him and sighing when she felt his arms come around her and hold her near him. "Good idea," she said. "This is better."
"Hmmm," Leonard said. She pulled back and looked at him. "What?"
She hadn't quite realized that her eyes were flitting between his eyes and his lips until he leaned forward and kissed her, letting both his hands rest just below her rib cage. She kissed him back, sliding her arms around his neck and scooting closer still. After a moment, however, she separated them and looked off to the side, blinking hard.
She shook her head. "Nothing." Wiping her eyes, she looked back at him. "I'm just going to be really emotional for a while, okay?"
Leonard nodded, and she saw his lips tremble. "Okay," he said, his voice cracking.
"I told you!" she said. "I told you. When I cry, you cry."
He nodded. "It's true!"
"Uh-huh!" she said. They looked at each other for another moment, and then Penny nodded. "Okay…" she took in a breath and let it out. "Come here."
"You promise you won't cry?" Leonard asked.
"No," Penny said. "But I love you and you love me and that's why we're crying and therefore it shouldn't matter."
Leonard thought about it for about a half second before showing his agreement by kissing her again.
Hope you enjoyed it! And for those of you wondering, 'The Good Old College Try' will be updated soon. : )