The Four Stages

AN: Yes, this is the actual chapter one. Not the part I posted yesterday. I had to post them out of order cause Stage 3 was the only fluff I had available last night to cheer up some friends. Anyway, for those who are just finding this fic today, this story is inspired by the How I Met Your Mother season 2 episode entitled "First Time In New York". In the intro, Ted Mosby described the four stages a person goes through before they say 'I love you'. I thought they were fun and decided to utilize them in a BBT fic. Below is Stage 1. This part takes place not long after "The Cornhusker Vortex".

AN 2: And yes, I did catch the irony of having Penny comment on how sad it is that John Ritter died. I caught it late (like after I wrote most of this), but I still caught it.

1. You Think You Think It

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon and Leonard and Penny were curled up on the couch watching TV. Today's Great DVD Debate wound up going to Scrubs. Honestly, it was one of the few shows the guys owned that Penny would watch voluntarily, without anyone coaxing or cajoling. They were currently watching the episode "My Cake" from season four.

"Man, it's so sad that JD's dad died," Penny said. "I really liked him."

"Yeah, me too," Leonard agreed. "But the actor died in real life so the writers decided to kill the character too."

"No!" Penny sat up and looked at him. "Seriously?" Leonard nodded. "Well that makes this even more depressing."

"I'm sorry!"

Penny pouted, and Leonard pulled her back against him and kissed the top of her head.

"It's still Scrubs, though. So it's still funny."

"Yeah, Dr. Cox always cracks me up," Penny said with a smile. At that moment, Dr. Cox walked into JD's apartment, causing Penny and Leonard to laugh at the timing. Apparently, his and Dan's new plan to cheer up JD included wearing hockey jerseys and drinking beer while watching football. Penny never understood Dr. Cox's insistence on wearing the hockey jersey, but it was amusing nonetheless.

"'Now talk.'

'What do you want me to talk about? The pros and cons of blitzing the weak side corner when you're in 3rd and long situations.' Thank you Football for Dummies."

Penny smirked. Then as Dan started doing commentary on male college cheerleaders, a thought struck her. "Hang on!" She sat up again. "Football for Dummies?"

Leonard looked at her. "What about it?" he said cautiously.

"Did you..." Leonard shifted, uncomfortably. Penny narrowed her eyes. "Leonard. Did you read Football for Dummies?"

"No!" Leonard said quickly. He glanced briefly back up at her. "Okay, yes," he admitted quietly. "Though, Sheldon taught me some stuff, too." His gaze shifted to an interesting spot on the couch and just stayed there.

Penny watched him for a few moments before leaning down to kiss his cheek.

"You're adorable," she said, snuggling back down on the couch. "Ridiculous, but adorable."