So I wrote this fic for BigBangBigBang 2011. I had to write a fic about The Big Bang Theory that was at least 15,000 words and this is the final product. I hope you all enjoy it. Thanks so much to Nicole (WeBuiltThePyramids) for making the fantastic art/media that goes along with this fic(a link will be posted on my profile soon) and thanks to The Queen of Double Standards for being my beta.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Sheldon greeted Leonard and Penny as they entered 4A, dragging their luggage with them. "Oh, good, you're back!" he said cheerfully, getting up from his spot. "How was Nebraska?"
At that, Penny gave Leonard a nudge. He glanced at her and she nodded to him. He rolled his eyes at her. "It was better than North Dakota," he replied, completely dead-panned.
Penny glared at him, clearly not anticipating his monotone delivery. He grinned back at her. Hey, she'd only told him to tell the joke; she hadn't specified how.
"That joke still isn't funny here," Sheldon informed them, crossing his arms. "Now, down to business: did either of you catch a cold or contract any kind of virus while away?"
Penny smirked. "No, Sheldon. Everyone was completely healthy the entire time."
The theoretical physicist let out a sigh of relief. "Good. But I request that you both shower before doing anything else because there's still the risk of airplane germs. And shower one at a time!" he added hastily upon noticing the mischievous glance that the couple shared.
Penny rolled her eyes. "Fine. I'll see you guys a little later." She picked up her luggage and kissed Leonard's cheek before exiting the apartment. Leonard watched her go, and then shook his head. He picked up his suitcase and headed towards his bedroom, ignoring Sheldon's questioning remarks on why he was going to his room and not the bathroom where he was supposed to be showering.
Upon entering his room, Leonard dropped his suitcase and fell onto bed, burying his face deep in the pillows. He had a headache, but it wasn't from flying or some sort of illness that Sheldon would be fretting over; he'd had a lot on his mind these past few days and had been thinking hard, so much so that it was making his head hurt. He sometimes encountered these headaches while working on complex equations or studying some data for work. This time, though, it stemmed from thoughts about his relationship with Penny.
It had started on their third night in Nebraska. He and Penny had been sitting on the couch in the living room with Wyatt in an armchair next to them. Penny's mother had been there as well, but she'd gone upstairs to talk about something with Penny's brother who was now living there because of-according to Penny-another 'big misunderstanding'.
While talking and laughing with Wyatt, Leonard had reflected on how different his last encounter with Penny's father had been. There was no more pretending; the things Leonard and Penny said to one another were now genuine, and the public displays of affection were no longer an act. They were a strong, real couple now, Leonard had thought. They had been for a long time now, and were in a much better place than they'd been when Wyatt had visited over a year ago. Back when they were still confused and unsure about things.
Looking back at that time, Leonard never would have thought that he and Penny would end up in such a happy place, so he'd taken what he could get while they'd been pretending for Wyatt, kissing her, calling her love bug, and teasingly asking her if she'd been 'dreamily doodling Mrs. Leonard Hofstadter in a notebook'.
That's when it had hit him. Mrs. Leonard Hofstadter. He'd been teasing at the time because, back then, he'd lost hope that it would ever happen. But, sitting there with his arm around her, Leonard had realized that now it could happen. So, for the rest of the trip, he'd gone back and forth about whether or not to go through with it. To ask Penny to marry him.
Marriage was a big step, much bigger than an "I love you", and Penny had been scared by that. If he were to propose, it might bring up more uncertainty, and could weaken, or possibly end them.
Leonard sat up suddenly and shook his head. He couldn't think like that. Penny had openly told him that she loved him now, and they'd worked through all of the insecurities and doubt about their relationship. They were in a good place now, and he was ready to do this. Even if there were risks involved, he would go through with this. He couldn't just not try something because he was worried it might not work out.
He let out a shaky breath, clasping his hands together. It was a big decision, but it was something he wanted so desperately. He would ask Penny to marry him.