Recursive Role Reversal
Caltech late Thursday afternoon
Penny poked her head into Leonard’s lab. The lights were off though a distinct whirring sound was being produced by one of the boxes on the work bench. She pulled her black sweater a little closer around her, the sweater coming down over her bright blue pants and red top peeking out.
“Leonard, are you in here?”
No reply was heard. Penny looked at her watch, it was 3:30. Maybe he was in the cafeteria. Penny turned and headed that direction.
She reached the open doors to the cafeteria and looked in. Leonard was at the table in his green jacket and black stripped white hoody with a cup of coffee in his hand. He had his back to the door. Across from him was Alex in a pink blouse and jeans. Leonard was talking.
”So then Sheldon jumps further into the ball room and won’t come out. He keeps jumping up and yelling bazinga it took me an hour to get him out of there. That’s how Loony Tunes your boss can be.”
Penny watched as Alex smiled back at him brightly. She watched as Alex reached over and patted Leonard on the arm.
“You’re so funny Leonard. Dr. Cooper is really hard to work for. He can be condescending, overbearing and snobby but it’s been worth it to get to know you.”
Alex looked embarrassed for a moment then looked down, “and the other professors.”
“You forgot neurotic and crazy. Do you feel like you’re learning anything from him?”
Alex laughed, “I think how not to treat my subordinates and colleagues. He does have some fascinating papers in his early work but it’s mostly just how amazing that the work could come from somebody so young. I haven’t come across anything earth shattering.”
She continued to smile at Leonard as he took a sip of his coffee.
Penny walked into the cafeteria now. She had seen and heard enough.
Alex looked up and stopped smiling for a moment then a smile spread back onto her face. Penny smiled back thinking, “Caught you didn’t I. I see your fake little smile there not like the one you were giving Leonard a minute ago as you were patting his arm and making eyes at him.”
“Hey Alex, Hey sweetie I was looking for you in your lab.”
Leonard looked up smiling at her, “What a nice surprise, I didn’t know you were coming by today. I just needed a cup of coffee in the afternoon so I came down here.”
Leonard pulled out the chair beside him, “Take a seat, can I get you something?”
Penny kept the smile on her face as she sat beside Leonard. She slid her hand onto the top of the table and wrapped his hand in hers, she leaned over and kissed him quickly.
“Thanks honey, I’ll take a coffee”
Leonard got up and walked toward the cafeteria’s buffet. Penny smiled until he was out of sight. Her face suddenly became very tense. Alex raised her eyebrows and pulled back as if she’d been struck.
Penny got a viscous grin on her face, “I guess my subtle hint the other day about not being able to work with Leonard wasn’t clear enough. Leonard is my boyfriend and we’ve been together for a long time so keep your hands off him.”
Alex stuttered to respond but nothing came out. Penny got the sweet smile back on her face, “Maybe it would be a good time for you to leave.”
Alex stood shaking slightly leaving her cup on the table then walked out just as Leonard returned with a coffee for Penny.
He sat down and smiled at her as he set her cup on the table, “Where’d Alex get to? She’s a very nice girl you should get to know her.”
Penny took a sip of her coffee and smiled very sweetly back, “Oh she didn’t say. Do you talk to her a lot?”
Leonard took another drink, “No, not really. I see her at lunch sometimes but she does tend to show up when I have my afternoon coffee. She must get that same afternoon fatigue I do.”
Penny just nodded, “So after you have your coffee are you going to show me what you’re working on?”
Leonard gave her a raised eyebrow and a leering grin, “I’d be glad to. It’s pretty cool and I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it.”
Penny smiled and put her hand on his arm, just where Alex’s had been, “I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of the new sexy bra and panties I got yesterday that I have on”
Leonard took a big drink of his coffee, “Let’s go”
Penny’s apartment later that evening
Penny sat across from Leonard at the table picking at the salad on her plate. Leonard was busily eating his looking up he saw her looking at him.
Leonard smiled, “The salad is good Penny what’s the main course?”
Penny smiled, “I have chicken in the oven, shake and bake it should be done in a while, Leonard can I ask you something?”
Leonard had taken another bite and just nodded.
“Do you know that Alex is hitting on you?”
Leonard looked surprised, “Really, why would you think that?”
Penny put her fork down, “Because I watched her today when she was talking to you in the cafeteria. She pretty much came out and said as much. I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that she shows up in the cafeteria in the afternoon at the same time you do. She knows you’ll be there.”
Leonard looked at her with a piercing look. Penny blushed slightly.
“What did you say to her?”
Penny swallowed hard, “I told her you were my boyfriend and to keep her hands off you.”
Penny stood and walked to the kitchen. Leonard rose and followed her. She turned around to face him expecting him to be angry.
Leonard looked into her face, “I guess the shoes on the other foot now. Penny, you’re the one I’m with and you know I love you. You taught me something that day, it’s not who hits on you. It’s what you do about it. If you love me you’ll stay true and so will I.”
Penny swallowed a couple of more time and her chin began to tremble, “Leonard I know you love me and now you know I love you. I do know when guys are hitting on me most of the time. I need to tell you that you were right about Cole. Right after we did our oral report he started sexting me and really hitting on me.”
Penny had tears running down her face. Leonard was close to tears as well.
“I knew it”, Leonard managed to get out.
Penny swallowed hard, “Yeah, I didn’t see it coming either. I handled it, he won’t be around anymore.”
Tears were running down Leonard’s cheeks now as he wrapped Penny in a hug, “See you were right I had nothing to worry about and neither do you so we can both relax.”
Penny sniffed and held on tight, “I love you Leonard, we have nothing to worry about.”
Leonard had stopped crying and held her tight, “Well we kind of do, it’s one thing to undercook spaghetti but if you did it to the chicken we’ll both regret it.”
Something just for fun, but then again aren’t they all.