38 – The Everlasting Epilogue

Six months later

Leonard Hofstadter's contract ended up being terminated immediately for a violation of its morals clause after the police charged him with attempted rape and blackmail. Amy Farrah Fowler testified against him and shortly thereafter relocated to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He was still serving time in jail and he came to fear hearing the word "dibs".

Alex Jensen had returned from Iowa to her job with Sheldon temporarily. She had made so much progress on her dissertation that she submitted and defended it shortly after her return and it was accepted. True to his word Sheldon made sure that Alex joined the faculty. Even though it wasn't their specialty, Alex and Sheldon were asked to temporarily supervise the laser research that had been Leonard's area of expertise. Alex also replaced Leonard at the daily lunch in the cafeteria and Sheldon invited her to participate in other group activities. It was at one of those activities she met someone and fell in love.

Penny was hard at work on her Master's Degree. She cut back a little on her dancing. Jeff decided to give the club a comic-book theme and asked Penny to help change the direction of the entertainment from individual dancers doing their thing to revues that told stories, though the dancers still ended up naked. Penny was in charge of choreography and Nora, oddly enough, was in charge of the costumes. Jeff completely redecorated the club in bright comic-book colors. They club was busier than ever and Jeff even started getting offers to franchise.

Sheldon continued with his work. He still had a great deal to do before he would be awarded the Nobel Prize he'd always desired but he had gained some perspective. He made sure that he had free time every day and spent as much of it as he could with Penny and/or Cyndee. He still walked Penny home from the club whenever she worked and he got to see every new dance she created before anyone else. And he continued to read stories to Cyndee at bedtime.

Unbelievably, Raj and Leilah's Thanksgiving hookup never ended and they were still together. For some reason they were very comfortable spending long periods in each other's company in complete silence. Leilah kept telling the others that all she needed to do was look into Raj's eyes and she knew exactly what he wanted to say to her.

After Penny, Sheldon regarded Howard Wolowitz as his best friend and Sheldon encouraged him to pursue a doctorate, which he did.

Everyone was gathering together at Sheldon's apartment for Cyndee's fourth birthday party. It had been a long day. The afternoon was dedicated to Cyndee and all of her pre-school friends and their party at The Cheesecake Factory. After the festivities Penny brought Cyndee home and put her down for a nap. Her adult friends wanted to throw her a party too and Penny wanted to make sure she wasn't too tired and cranky.

Sheldon went all out. He decorated his apartment like it was a princess's castle. He set up his model trains and populated them with lots of Cyndee's favorite characters. He had a special cake made that looked like a castle and he had purchased matching pink princess gowns for Cyndee and Penny.

The guests were also supposed to dress appropriately.

Guests began showing up around six. Penny and Cyndee made their entrance shortly thereafter looking beautiful in the princess gowns Sheldon had gotten them.

"Moonpie!"

"Happy Birthday, Cyndee! Are you enjoying your day?"

"I had a party and cheesecake and saw all my friends and now I'm a princess!"

"Yes you are, little darlin'. You're my princess."

"I thought I was your princess, Sheldon."

"Penny, you are my queen!"

Penny gave Sheldon a big kiss and then proceeded to mingle. She walked over to Nora, who was speaking with Alex, and gave her a hug.

"Hi, sweetie. Thanks for coming."

"How could I possibly miss this? Can you believe things are so, so different from just a few months ago? The club is doing great business, which means we're all making lots more money. Jeff and Weldon gave us all part ownership so if this franchise deal goes through we wouldn't ever need to dance again."

"Nora, you'd actually quit?"

"Not a chance. I just like the idea that I'll be dancing because I want to and when I want to. I want to spend as much time as I can with my sweetie."

"So you like dating a theoretical physicist?"

"What's not to like?"

Alex moved a little closer to Nora and squeezed her hand.

"Funny how everyone Leonard Hofstadter got his mitts on ended up finding true love after he was out of the picture."

Sheldon joined them.

"I prefer to think that we all ended up exactly where we needed to be. However, despite the upset he caused her, I am very glad that I found Penny crying in that alley."

"Me too, Moonpie. Me too."

"Shall we share our news, Penny?"

"Might as well. All of our friends are here."

"Alright then."

"Friends, we have some news to share with you. Penny and I have decided to make a change in our living paradigm. I have decided to sublet my apartment to Alex and Nora and move upstairs to reside with Penny and Cyndee in anticipation of a formalization of our relationship on November 1st, the anniversary of the day we met. Cyndee would like to say something. Cyndee?"

"Mommy and Moonpie are getting married!"

A/N: So that's it. Hope you liked it. I appreciate you joining me for this ride and I'm sorry I kinda put our beloved characters and you through an emotional ringer. Thanks for the favorites, follows, the reviews, the suggestions and your appreciation. Now that you've read the entire story I'd love to hear what you thought.

Now I need to get down to work on my other AU tale and finish that up. I've gotten a sense that folks would like to see Nora the cop again and so would I. That story picks up about a month after The Non-Coincident Theorem. I also have a one-shot that will be coming your way pretty soon, maybe even tomorrow. It's a conversation between Penny and Leonard that takes place during the current season, a conversation that we probably won't ever see but it's about something that Leonard did that I thought was reprehensible and that Penny, as far as I can tell, doesn't know about.

And here's hoping that The Powers That Be at The Big Bang Theory HQ have something in mind after showing how much of an asshat Leonard is in almost every episode during Season 7. I don't think I'll ever understand how Penny can keep forgiving his behavior.