(Sequel to "The Decoupling Activation". Bits and pieces of Leonard and Alex's life together. Leonard/Alex. Chapter titles from an old favorite song of mine.)
(There's a new world somewhere)
The wheels of Alex Jensen's suitcase bumped up the stairs one after another as she wearily pulled it after her. Thank goodness she only lived on the second floor. She paused at the intermediate landing to smother a yawn.
The young physicist loved her job. Fermilab was on the cutting edge of scientific exploration and the Caltech extension she worked for challenged her, excited her and gave her lots to discuss about with a certain Doctor Leonard Hofstadter. Not that their conversations just centered on physics; they both had wide-ranging interests both shared and separate but still it was very nice to be able to talk shop with him.
The only fly in her soup was that every three months or so she was required to fly to the main office at Batavia in Illinois. The conferences there were both interesting and necessary but she just wanted to get home after being away for nearly a week each time. So instead of waiting for Saturday morning she had made her way to O'Hare and caught the first available flight.
Unfortunately the struggle through Chicago traffic had meant she not only left quite late but she had a stopover in Denver in the middle of the night. A stopover that was delayed not once but twice. So it had been in the wee hours of the morning she had arrived at Los Angeles International where she was relieved to find that Leonard had honored her wishes by NOT staying up all night to pick her up as he had originally planned. So she snagged her bag from the carousel and caught a taxi to her apartment building.
Alex fumbled the keys out from the purse looped over her shoulder and aimed one at the door, blinking her eyes as she did. To her pleasant surprise it was the right one and the lock clicked open. She slipped through and kicked the door closed behind her. She tossed her keys into the bowl at the door and set her suitcase to one side. She stretched and surveyed the room. In the dim light coming from the kitchen area she saw that she had an even more pleasant surprise waiting for her.
She tip-toed over to the couch and knelt beside the sleeping form there. Flipping her long brown hair out of the way she leaned over and brushed her lips over the ones waiting there. She grinned as Leonard stirred slightly, allowing her to slip her arms around him and kiss him again. This time he returned the kiss as his eyes opened.
It was several minutes before the pair came up for air. Alex laid her head on Leonard's chest and sighed happily.
"Welcome home." Leonard said softly as he stroked her hair.
"It's nice to be home," Alex replied. "And a welcome like this makes it even more wonderful." She lifted her head. "I'm very happy you are here but when will you stop sleeping on the couch and use the bed?"
"As I recall," he returned with a sleepy smile, "the very first night you lured me into staying here you insisted that the couch was a perfect sleeping place when you made me take the bed."
"Me?" Alex pretended outrage. "Lured YOU? The way I remember it you talked your way right into my bed and practically wheedled me right out of my clothes at the same time you smooth talking savvy sexy seducer."
The pair nearly succumbed to a shared fit of giggles. They both remembered that night with perfect clarity. Leonard had just been dumped by his previous girlfriend Penny and had gone to try to lose himself in work for the evening. Alex had bumped into him in the cafeteria. Realizing something was wrong she had encouraged him to talk and before the evening was over they had ended up at her apartment simply because it was a place they could carry on their discussion in private. It had gone so late and he had been so exhausted by the emotional storm he had been through he had ended up staying rather than trying to drive home from Caltech where he had left his car. The night had been spent in perfect chastity with him in the bed and her on the couch with nothing more than a sympathetic touch to the shoulder between them.
Now though Alex helped Leonard off the couch and the pair, arms around each other, made their way to the bedroom. Only moments were required for them to be ready to slide under the covers together. Leonard nodded right back off. Snuggled in the crook of his arm Alex laid one hand on his chest. A vagrant beam from the moon slipped through the window curtains and flashed off the diamond of her engagement ring. She studied it and smiled.
This ring had been hers for nearly a year now. She had still been working for Sheldon as she finished her Master's degree. She and Leonard had grown closer and more intimate but still had been keeping their relationship under wraps. Although she still didn't care for the way Penny had treated Leonard Alex had been grateful the blonde girl had accepted Leonard's decision and not blabbed about it to the school administration. With Alex being a student in the Physics department it could have been sticky for Leonard.
Then everything had fallen into place. The Master's under her belt she had been immediately accepted into the doctoral program at Caltech. Then Fermilab had renewed their offer and had sweetened the deal not only with more money but with a promise of genuine participation and credit in ongoing research. Finally she had finished with Sheldon s notebooks and the nightly recordings of his sleep talk were going nowhere. So she and Leonard had discussed everything and come to the conclusion she should take the Fermilab position.
It was amusing that during the decision process it hadn't even occurred to her what this might mean for the relationship between her and Leonard. So when he told her one Saturday that he had reservations up the coast at a special restaurant she never suspected what was about to happen. She simply dressed nicely and enjoyed the ride. It was a warm summer's evening and they had plenty of time so they drove slowly with the windows down and enjoyed themselves.
The parking lot and the restaurant itself were moderately crowded but they were right on time for their reservations and were quickly shown to their table. As they reached it Alex looked out and gasped in admiration and awe.
The outside wall that they were seated by was glass all the way across, affording the patrons a spectacular view. Fifty feet below them the ocean waves crashed against cliff face they overlooked, sending spray nearly all the way up to them. The tips of the waves glowed in the light of the sun and the droplets flung against the cliff shined like so many diamonds.
"My gosh Leonard it's beautiful," she said.
"Almost as beautiful as you are," he returned.
Alex smiled and looked at him. She reached across the table and took his hands in hers. "What a smooth talker you are. And a darned handsome one too," she added.
She meant that. No longer was a brown corduroy suit the only one that Leonard owned. In fact after she had wheedled and cajoled and whined his resistance down enough to get him to a high quality men's store that suit had vanished from his closet along with a series of intensely ugly shirts and spotted ties. He had grumbled and put up a struggle but now he admitted he looked pretty sharp in his very faintly pinstriped dark blue suit, white shirt and rep tie. She gloated in the knowledge he had three more just as well tailored in that closet now and she had hopes of adding to it. Work was one thing but he needed at times to present the appearance of the professional man that he really was.
The waiter arrived and made suggestions that Leonard accepted after checking with her. Wine appeared which rather surprised her. Normally when they went out they either took a cab or abstained from drinking. A taxi from here would be quite expensive. Leonard obviously caught her startled look. He smiled and reassured her.
"Don't worry. I'm planning on exactly one glass of wine after dinner. By the time we leave my blood alcohol count will be at zero."
Alex started to ask him why he would be saving it until after dinner but just then their appetizers arrived and by the time those were finished the main course was there. They took their time eating, enjoying the good food and the good conversation. After the plates were cleared they sat quietly watching the sun sink into the ocean. Leonard pulled his chair around to Alex's side of the table and they sipped their wine.
"This is perfect," sighed Alex.
"Not quite yet," Leonard responded.
"Oh?" asked the surprised woman. "What else are you thinking we need?"
"Well," the physicist turned slightly and waved. In response a pair of broadly smiling waiters accompanied by the maitre d' approached bearing two enormous bouquets of flowers that they set on the table.
"What is this?" Alex asked.
"You told me you wanted flowers," Leonard replied. That remark became crystal clear as he tugged a small black box from his jacket pocket before slipping from his chair to one knee in front of her.
"Alex Jensen," he snapped opened the box to reveal a fiery diamond mounted on a chased silver band. "I love you. Will you marry me?"
Unable to find her voice the comely graduate student answered by going to her own knees. She wrapped her arms around Leonard, buried her face against his neck and cried.
"I'd say that's a yes!" announced the beaming maitre d'. He started to clap. The infectious sound spread quickly to the rest of the staff and the guests, all of whom joined in as Leonard raised Alex to her feet and slipped the engagement ring on her finger.
As she returned to the present Alex smiled and snuggled even closer to Leonard. The proposal had been everything she had dreamed of since she was a little girl. She stifled a giggle as she recalled breaking the news to Sheldon and, as it turned out, Howard and Raj as well. Poor Sheldon. He had been so completely floored by the idea anyone would want to quit working for him he had ordered her to write up something firing herself for his signature. Of course since she had already quit it was even funnier.
Caught up in the excitement of the moment she and Leonard had impulsively decided to get married the very next weekend. They had calmed down once they had considered everything and decided there was the necessity of finding a place of their own, be it an apartment, a condo or even a house. Alex had recently renewed her lease for another year, there were friends and family to consider and more. All in all they decided to wait. And being engaged was wonderful anyway.
She grinned sleepily as she recalled Sheldon's relief that he would not lose his long term roommate so quickly. Indeed he offered the advice that research showed the ideal length of time for an engagement was around ten years. He had immediately followed that with a magnanimous offer to allow her to come back to work for him. He had accepted her refusal in his usual fashion; with a great deal of surprise and grumbling about her ungratefulness.
Alex closed her eyes and sighed happily. Soon. They had agreed; this was her last trip out of town as a single woman. How nice. With that sleep claimed her.
(To be continued)