"I don't get it!" Penny groaned, throwing her head back angrily, slamming her pencil down on the table in front of her.
"It's okay, it's not an easy topic." Leonard assured her, putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder as she sat back up.
"Then how come you got it so easily? Why do I suck so bad at math?" Penny moaned, tilting her head to her shoulder so it rested on Leonard's hand. "Leonard he-elp."
"Well, where you're getting stuck on each of the questions is the final part of the working out, where you're finding the final answer - or trying to." He tried to ignore her head on his hand; something she had taken to doing quite frequently. He wondered if she realised she was doing it, and if it even did anything to comfort her. "There's a lot going on there, so maybe we practice a few of those together. I'll work through them with you, okay?"
"Okay." Penny sat up properly, picking up her pencil again. "We've been here for like three hours. Three hours on a Friday in the library! I'm gonna cry if I don't pass this math test."
"You will pass it!" Leonard frowned suddenly. "Has my teaching not been good enough?"
"No, it has, it's been amazing." Penny turned to look at him. "You're the best. It's just... I'm scared I'll forget everything, or I'll get stuck without you there to help me."
"You'll be fine, trust me. Pass me your book, I'll write some stuff out and we'll work through it together, then you can try another few of these by yourself - I'm sure you'll get it. Trust me, it won't take too long."
Penny's mouth twisted nervously. "After that can we do a quick re-cap of the stuff we did this week? Or... you know, if you have to go, that's okay, you can get on with your Friday night, I'll go over it myself."
"It's fine, we can do a re-cap." Leonard smiled at her. He liked spending time with her, of course he wasn't going to decline her request.
"Are you sure? I don't want to keep you here if you have better things to be doing."
"No, seriously, it's okay. I'm not doing anything tonight anyway, except for trying to beat my friends at the online game. It's fine."
"Alright. If you're sure? I'm just really worried I'll have forgotten everything I learned earlier in the week, and I just want to have it fresh in my mind so I can go over it during the weekend since all my plans fell through anyway."
"Oh, that's too bad - but at least you have more time to study and relax a little, it's been a long week. I'm sure you won't have forgotten anything."
"Yeah, that's true. Hopefully. Thank you." Penny lifted her head, sitting up to concentrate. "Okay, let's do this thing. Celebrate Friday in studious style." Her eyes suddenly lit up as she turned to look at him with a mischievous grin on her face. "Hey, can I borrow your glasses quickly?"
"Umm..." Leonard cautiously took his glasses off and handed them her, furrowing his brow and squinting slightly to watch her. "Okay. Why? Can you not see?"
"Of course I can see, silly," Penny giggled, putting his glasses on. "Do I look more studious this way?"
As she looked at him, grinning with her tongue between her teeth, Leonard felt his cheeks flush. She looked hot. And studious, he reminded himself, because you're studying in the library. "Uh... yeah. Yeah, you look studious."
"Hmm." Penny pulled her phone out, switching on the camera and changing it to the front-facing camera so she could see herself on the screen. "Huh, I do look quite studious in these glasses, don't I." Pouting her lips together, she snapped a picture of herself before putting her phone down and taking his glasses off. "They're making my head hurt, I don't think I need glasses that strong. Can you see anything without your glasses?"
"Uh, yeah," Leonard snapped his focus off her face and down to his glasses, which he looked at for a moment before putting them back on. "I can see without them, things are just... really blurry. Why did you take a picture of yourself?"
"I just wanted to see what I looked like in the glasses, and I couldn't really see through them so I took a picture. Plus I want to show my parents, that I can be studious. It's my new favorite word."
"Alright... I'm not sure a picture of you wearing glasses is really going to show them you're studious, but okay."
Her brow furrowed. "You're right. Here," she picked up her phone and held it out to him. "Take a picture of me studying! Ooh, hold on."
Taking her phone, he watched her pull the books towards her as she poised her pen over exercise book. "Umm, alright." She nodded at him to take the picture, and he leaned back so he could get her and the books into the shot. It felt weird doing this, but he wasn't really going to say no. When he'd taken it, he sat back properly and handed her phone back as she grinned at him. "Here."
"Hey, you know what else we should do?" Penny gasped, her eyes lighting up as she switched back to the front facing camera again, holding her arm out. "Here, get in the picture with me. This can be like... a commemorative photo of a weeklong of studying. I think that's my word of the day, commemorative, I used it in my English class today."
Not really sure what else to do, or why he was doing it in the first place, Leonard nodded. "Okay."
Moving his face closer to hers, Penny gently bit on the inside of her lip. She saw a smile naturally spread across her face on the screen of her phone as Leonard appeared in the shot. As his cheek gently touched against hers the butterflies in her stomach seemed to multiply, forming a tight knot in her stomach but spreading through her body at the same time. Leonard felt his heart race increase rapidly and he felt her skin against his, and he tried not to think about how close they were right now. That was a good thing, he thought, that she didn't mind their closeness, and that she wanted a photo of the both of them on her phone. Maybe it was just to prove that she had been studying, but still, his face was going to be right there, next to hers, on her phone.
Natural smiles filling both their faces, Penny quickly clicked the button and the photo was taken. Lowering her phone, she gulped as he moved away from her back to his original position, and she grinned as she showed him the picture. "I like it, it's cute." Swiping to look at the one he'd taken before, she giggled. "See, I do look studious!"
"You do," he agreed with a smile. "I think the other picture is cute too." That was scary to say out loud.
"I'm glad you think so too." Penny smiled at him for a moment, tilting her head,before turning back to her books and putting her phone back in her pocket. "Alright, lets get back to actually studying now. Take it away, Hofstadter!"
"And you're sure it's okay for me to call you if I get stuck over the weekend?" Penny asked for the fifth time as they reached the part of the street they parted ways.
"Uh, yeah." Leonard nodded, shuffling his feet.
"You don't seem so sure." Penny observed. Her heart fell a little; what if he just didn't want her to call, what if he was bored of her? Suddenly she wondered when she had become somebody who cared what another person thought of her. She sighed. "It's okay if you don't want me to. I've probably annoyed you enough this week already."
"No, no it's okay. I don't mind. Of course you can call." Leonard replied nervously, looking up at her again. Just do it now, he told himself, furrowing his brow and clenching his jaw for a moment, before forcing a more relaxed expression onto his face. "Penny, will you... go out on a date with me?" Okay, the ground can swallow me up now. He felt himself flush red. Perhaps he shouldn't have done it just then. It was so random, and out of the blue, and off-topic. At least when she says no I can remember not to ask girls out in the middle of a different conversation.
Blinking a few times, Penny felt a smile form across her face after the initial shock of his question. "I... yeah, okay. Yes." Her heart fluttered slightly as the butterflies resurfaced and the blush on her face couldn't be excused by the slightly cold wind. "Yes."
"Yes?" Did she just say... yes?
"Yeah, I'd like that."
"Oh. Okay." Leonard tried to pretend his heart wasn't racing and that he didn't need his inhaler. "Great. Cool. I'll... I'll call you, or something." His mind was still trying to process that he'd actually managed to ask Penny out, and that she had actually said yes. Every time he had pictured this moment in his head, she had laughed at him and then gossiped about it with her friends. If he was honest, he didn't really have any idea what he was supposed to do now.
"Sure." Penny grinned. "I'll speak to you soon, then."
"Alright." He hoped this counted as 'playing it cool'. "Have fun studying. Speak to you soon, Penny."
"Thanks!" Penny giggled nervously, giving him a quick hug. "Bye, Leonard."
She walked twice as fast as she normally did on the final part of her journey home, a grin on her face. Sure, she'd been out with guys before. Popular guys, and older ones too. But none of them had ever actually asked her out - it had just sort of... happened.
The thought of telling her friends made her stomach drop a little. She knew they would probably make fun of her for going on a date with a 'nerd'. But they didn't know how sweet, kind and caring he was. Leonard had put up with her this whole week, without so much as a joke about her being 'such a blonde' or comments such as 'who cares about grades with a body like that'. He never once used the phrase 'loosen up' or 'you should be more like your sister' which was a big relief. There was a point before commenting on her looks were no longer a compliment and being compared to her sister became more than just a joke. And he was funny, too, and of course very smart, which she really loved. Maybe her friends would understand - she hoped they would. But there was no guarantee of that; after all, they did spend a lot of time gossiping and bitching about each others boyfriends, so why would that make her an exclusion to this?
By the time she was walking up the drive, she had decided she didn't really care if her friends didn't understand why she found Leonard so... attractive. Was that the right word? Did it apply to more than just physical attributes? Though, the physical attributes counted too. Well, she couldn't exactly go and ask Leonard now.
Unlocking the front door and dropping her keys onto the small table, she walked through to the kitchen as usual.
"Hey sweetheart," Meryl gave her daughter a quick hug in greeting before returning to the stove.
"Hey mom." Penny sat herself on one of the kitchen stools, her bag in front of her.
"How was school? You get your studying done?"
"Yeah, it was great. I got a lot done at the library but I had no idea what was going on in my Chemistry class. That's crazy to another level."
"Maybe you need help with those classes too. It's quite late, were you studying this whole time?"
"Really?" Meryl turned and raised a brow in disbelief. "This whole time after school, you were studying?"
"Yes!" Penny rolled her eyes, pulling out her exercise book for math and flicking through the pages from her study session with Leonard. "See? That was all today."
"My God, that's a lot of work. You sure it's all yours?"
"Yes, mom, that's my handwriting. That's Leonard's handwriting, actually, when he was helping me work through the stuff I didn't get. And his corrections. That's just a little doodle because I was getting angry at myself and he thought it would make me laugh."
"Well isn't that sweet of him."
"Yeah." Penny watched as her mother added a selection of vegetables to the pan, chewing nervously on her lip. "Mom?"
"Leonard asked me out on a date."
"Ah," Meryl turned once again to look at Penny with a wide grin on her face.
Penny furrowed her brow. "What's that look for?"
"Nothing, nothing." Meryl shrugged slightly. "I'm just happy for you."
"What do you mean? I've gone out with guys before. And it's not like you've met Leonard to know he was going to ask me out. I didn't even know." Penny said defensively, folding her arms over her chest.
"Sweetheart, calm down, I know. You've just been talking about him all week, blushing when you mention his name, and getting all excited when the answer of your math problem matches what's in the book. You obviously liked him, I'm happy that he asked you out on a date."
"Hey, it is not obvious!"
"I'm your mother, of course it's obvious." Meryl pointed the spatula at Penny before turning to stir the pan.
Glaring at her mother for a moment with her jaw jutted out, Penny finally released a breath, dropping her arms and huffing "okay, yes, I like Leonard."
"So-o, are you going to tell me about him now?"
Meryl raised a brow at her daughter. "Now that you're going on a date with him and admitted out loud that you like him."
"Why are you being so nosey?" Penny scoffed at her mother, before sighing, and leaning forwards to rest her chin in her hand. "He's really sweet. And really, really smart. Oh, and he plays the cello! Which is a bit random but oh well. Here..." Penny pulled her phone out, opening her photo album and holding it out to her mom, open on the photo she had taken with Leonard. "That's me and him. I took it today."
Taking the phone, Meryl smiled. The look of pure joy on Penny's face in the photograph warmed her heart. "Sweetheart, that's lovely."
Penny grinned proudly. "What do you think of Leonard? He's cute, isn't he?"
"Yes, he is." Meryl agreed, as she studied the photograph. "He looks very smart. I like his glasses. He has a kind face."
"I like his glasses too. He let me try them on." Penny leaned over to swipe the photo back. "Oh - that's me studying. Told you I was studying." She swiped again to move to the photo of her in his glasses. "There."
"Oh, well don't you look smart!" Meryl giggled. "Crap!" She turned back to the pan as it started to hiss. "It's okay, it's not burnt. So, when are you two going on your date?"
"I dunno. He said he'd call me to arrange it."
"Well you're just going to be staring at your phone all weekend, aren't you sweetheart? Go get changed, we'll head up to the horses after dinner. That'll take your mind off of things for a bit and make you less nervous."
Leonard furrowed his brow. He wondered if this would have been easier to discuss with his brother in person rather than over the phone. Well, he wasn't going to go visit him just to talk to him. "I asked Penny out on a date."
"Whoa, what? Well done buddy! Hold on, who is Penny? Tell me about her."
"Oh, umm, she's - I was helping her study this week. We went to that Frozen Yoghurt place the other day too. What else... well, she's really pretty, really nice, and she's a cheerleader-"
"A cheerleader? You asked out a cheerleader? Did she say yes?" Michael raised his brows in anticipation, deciding his work could definitely wait.
"Yeah. Yeah, she said yes."
"Dude! You want me to buy you some champagne for a romantic first date or something? Condoms? Does she know mom is a total nutbag?"
"Uh..." Leonard chuckled nervously. "No, no, and no. It's only a first date."
"Yeah, alright. I'm so impressed. I knew when you finally asked a girl out properly on a date, it'd be someone really impressive and it'd put me to shame. You really do have balls."
"Okay. Well, the problem is... I've never really done this before. When do I call her? What do we do for our first date?" Leonard sat down on the couch, kicking his shoes off.
"Call her... tomorrow, maybe Sunday. Yeah, probably Sunday. And I don't know... a restaurant, that's always nice. Nowhere too fancy, but not like, a Pizza Hut. Trust me, that is not a good idea."
"Don't 'what if' yourself, Leonard. You'll probably come up with something really good. Just be yourself, she likes that, so don't try to be all.. different. Yeah?"
"Yeah, okay. When I decide what we're doing I'll text you and you have to tell me if it's too lame or if the place sucks or anything."
"Alright, I will. I bet you have some secret knack for romantic things like that." Michael chuckled.
"Probably not." Leonard shrugged. "Anyway, thanks. My friends would have been so useless with this. I'm just so nervous. I didn't think she would say yes."
"What made you ask her? You must have had a pretty good instinct to go on, considering you asked out a cheerleader."
"Come on Michael, just 'cause she's a cheerleader doesn't make her different to any other girl." Leonard rolled his eyes. "I dunno. She was just being really nice all week and I thought... I might as well try. If she says no, I'll get over it. But she didn't, so... this is kind of harder than if she had said no, now I have to actually plan a really good first date!"
"Ah, it'll be fine. Trust me. Don't over-plan it. Oh, and don't overthink it, you always do that, and it's never worth it. Just let things happen. And let me know how it goes the next day! It's going to make all this work way more interesting." Michael sighed as he looked at all the books spread across his desk.
"Yeah, okay, I'll try. And I will. I suppose I should let you get back to your work now, then."
"Suppose I should get to my work, yeah." Michael laughed. "Alright, well, good luck."
"Thanks, I'll need it."
"Nah, you won't. I'll speak to you later in the week then, yeah?"
"Yeah. Bye, Michael."
"Alright, bye. Speak soon."
Hanging up the phone, Leonard sighed as he hauled himself back off the couch, picking up his shoes to put them out in the hallway. Picking up his bag, he trudged up the stairs to his room. He really hadn't counted on Penny accepting his offer and therefore having to actually make plans. Not because he thought she'd shoot him down because she was a horrible person, but because he had no self-confidence and didn't expect her to want to go on a date with him. He smiled smugly to himself as he entered his bedroom; she'd accepted to go on a date with him, rather than one of the tall, athletic, muscular, better looking guys girls like Penny were often seen with.
Would he see her on Monday and walk home with her again, as they had been doing for the past week? What if it was awkward, with their upcoming date? He shook his head, dropping his bag onto his bed as he walked over to the television stand to switch on his Xbox. Michael had told him not to overthink things, and that was probably really good advice. He'd worry too much otherwise. Maybe he'd tell his friends tomorrow when they met up for their Doctor Who Tenth Doctor Marathon. But then again... they wouldn't really understand, and probably make him even more nervous than he already was. No, he'd wait until after the date to tell them, when he had more of an idea of how things would work out. If they worked out.
Stop it, he told himself as he flopped onto the beanbag at the bottom of his bed with the control for his Xbox. Just try not to think about it too much.
His phone buzzed, and he pulled it out of his pocket. He raised a brow when he saw it was from Penny; surely she wasn't studying already and needed his help this soon after they'd left school for the day? Unlocking his phone, he went to view the message. "Here's the picture of us from earlier, I thought you'd like it. Smiley face, kiss." Leonard read aloud, a small smile curling onto his mouth. Clicking on the image, he let himself enjoy the sigh of the two of them together, before saving it to his phone. Penny seemed happy. Maybe he didn't really need to be as nervous as he was.