Leonard giggled as he watched Penny whip Sheldons ass at Halo. The poor guy was determined to beat her at it at least once, but each time she agreed to play him, she beat him spectacularly. It always enraged Sheldon to lose to her, but his ego wouldn't let him quit and for the past seven or so years that Penny has been in their lives, he still hadn't beaten her once. Of course, Leonard had to admit that he had never beaten her either, but it didn't bother him as much as it did Sheldon. Leonard was just happy that he had found himself a woman who was happy to join him in his nerdy antics, as he was certain that very few women like her existed. Not only was she stunningly beautiful, but she had the heart and soul of a saint and although Leonard knew that she wasn't into all his geeky things like comic books, action figures and video games, well except Halo, he loved how she would always try to understand his obsessions and never judge or ridicule him for them.
Leonard loved how she would take the time, every now and again, to read one of his comic books, usually Thor, then sit down and discuss it with him, and ask him questions about the bits she didn't quite understand. There were days when she would go with him to the latest action packed superhero film and try her hardest not to fall asleep on his shoulder, obviously bored and confused, but determined to watch it because it was something he was interested in it. There were even times when she would come over on vintage video game night, and join in with him and the guys on whatever blast from the past they had decided on playing that night. Sheldon hated it of course, but that didn't matter because Leonard loved it, and it was him she was trying to make happy, not Sheldon.
Leonard knew he was the luckiest man alive to have found her. Not that he really found her, fate or destiny, maybe even God or some sort of angel, had brought her to him. For whatever reason, something placed her right across the hall from him, and he was eternally grateful to whoever or whatever it was that brought her there. It didn't make sense, he knew it didn't. He was a scientist; he based his ideas on facts and logic, built from hard evidence. He didn't believe in fate or destiny, or God or angels, yet he felt it must have been more than a coincidence that a gorgeous woman like her, who was open to all of these things that most women would have absolutely no interest in, had been placed in the adjacent apartment.
Penny was everything he ever could have asked for and more, a beautiful, kind, sweet and funny woman, albeit hot-headed and sometimes overly emotional and irrational, but he loved her flaws as much as everything else.
She loved him too. That was probably the part he was most dumbfounded at. He could almost fathom that a woman like her would move in across the hall and become friends with him and his gang of quirky but love-able nerds, but have her fall in love with him? That was definitely the work of fate, or destiny, or God or the angels.
The journey they had been on had not been as easy one, that was for certain. It had been full of ups and downs, not unlike a game of Snakes and Ladders. One minute they were happy, moving along the board of life, climbing up these ladders of unimaginable height, only to be torn down, back to the beginning by a menacing snake. Those snakes would come in the shape of, guitarist ex-boyfriends, a selfish washed up actor, a British student, and a pretty young assistant. Faces that would bring out the worst in their personalities and insecurities, but somehow they had managed to get past it all and found themselves become stronger with each roll of the dice.
They had been going strong now for just over two years. In that time, they had both matured immensely. Leonard managed to tone down his notorious habit of letting himself get too caught up in a moment and make stupid decisions. Such as when he proposed to her in the heat of love-making, or when he decided that he was moving into her apartment without asking her. He hadn't quite managed the same with his habit of overthinking everything, but it was something he was still working on.
Penny was really the one who had done the most maturing though. Ever since the moment when she finally told him she loved him, she had taken steps, albeit baby steps, that led her to where she was now. She had worked on her inability to talk about her feelings and had become much more open and honest with him. She had also managed to calm her temper so as to not cause huge fights with him over minor things, and he was so grateful for that because he genuinely hated fighting with her. She had come on quite a bit with her career too. She still wasn't a movie star, nor was she a tv star, but she was getting a lot more jobs playing the supporting roles in theatre productions and even a few commercials here and there. She was still in her history class too. He couldn't quite explain how proud he was when he found out she had passed her end of year exam with a very respectable C+ and had decided to take the next class up. She was still waitressing though, she wasn't making enough money from the theatre productions and commercials to quit, but it meant she didn't have to do quite as many hours. She was slowly edging her way out of there and he could see how happy she was because of it. She had finally found a huge sense of achievement in her life, and he was sure that right now, she was the happiest she had ever been in her lifetime.
They were living together now too. A couple of months after he had that fight with Sheldon and pretty much forced himself into her apartment, they had made the decision that they were ready. Not because it was logical, but because they wanted too. Penny told him how she had missed waking up with him every day and coming home to him in her apartment after work and she thought it would be a good idea to try it out and if it didn't quite work, they would live separately again until they were sure they were ready. It was like the beta test all over again, and once again the beta test proved successful. He forced himself to hide the glee that was inside of him the first time a letter addressed to Dr. Leonard Hoftstader appeared in her mail-box, their mailbox, but Penny could see the excitement in him, she always could. There were some arguments of course, about the items that he wanted to decorate the apartment with. Penny found it hard at first to accept that if they were going to live together, the apartment was no longer just hers and she had to let him have some of his personality shown in the décor too. In the end though, they compromised, like a mature couple would. Penny let him show off some of his collectables in the apartment, drawing the line when he said he wanted to hang a Game of Thrones Sword on the wall. He asked her to take down the huge picture of her and Amy because it was quite unnerving, but she was quite happy to do that, so it wasn't really a compromise. He also managed to get her to hide away some of her care bears that she had in her room, he was rather proud of that one. In the end, they managed to get to a point where they were both happy with how the apartment looked, and were even happier that they were getting to share it with one another.
That was just less than a year ago now, and he found himself yearning for just a little bit more. He had found himself, over the past few months, wondering what it would be like if she was his wife. It was something he had wanted from pretty much the day he had met her, but he knew he had to wait for her to be ready, and now, he was finally feeling like she could handle the commitment that marriage brought. She was finally at a point in her life where she was happy in her personal life, as well as her professional one. He was finally able to imagine the scene, him down on one knee in the best restaurant in town, with violins playing in the background, and roses decorating the table. He was finally able to picture himself asking her those four fateful words that could make him the happiest man in the world, or give his heart another stab of disappointment that he knew all too well. He could picture it now, and she would no longer say no, she would beam with happiness and say yes, then jump into his arms. It was a beautiful picture, but it was still only a dream. He needed the courage now to make that dream a reality.
"Leonard!" Penny shouted loudly.
Leonard was abruptly snapped out of his daydream by Penny, frowning in his direction and waving her hands. "Huh?"
Penny smiled that incredible smile of hers that made his insides leap. "I've been calling you for the past few minutes. What were you daydreaming about?" She asked as she put her controller away.
"Oh, nothing…. Where's Sheldon?" He asked as he noticed his spot was empty.
"I beat him and he went off to his room in a huff, the usual." Penny answered with a grin, then outstretched her arms and yawned. "It's getting late and I've got work in the morning, coming home to bed?"
Leonard smiled and agreed. They turned off everything in the apartment and headed off to their own one across the hall.
As soon as they entered their apartment, they headed to the bedroom, stripped off down to their underwear, and slipped into bed. Penny set her alarm for 7am and moaned as she did so. She hated getting up early, especially on the weekend when Leonard wasn't getting up with her, but she had agreed to do the breakfast shift at the cheesecake factory, so she only had herself to blame.
When she was done with her alarm, she turned around and cuddled up to him. Leonard still found himself grinning when she would snuggle in beside him, wrapping her arms around his waist and nuzzling her face into his neck. They done the same thing every night, but every time without fail, he would get the same butterflies he got the first time. The night, however, would not be complete until she would sit up and kiss him goodnight. And that was what she done, almost too passionately for the time of night, when they both knew she was up early tomorrow and sex was definitely off the table. She broke away from him, stroked her hand against his cheek and said the words he never tired of hearing. "I love you."
Leonard kissed her again before returning the words to her, "I love you too." Penny then reached up and lovingly took his glasses from his face and placed them on his table, then turned off the lights and resumed her position, face against his neck and arms wrapped around his body.
"Goodnight honey, see you in the morning." She said against his skin, as she drifted off to sleep. Leonard however, lay awake for a little longer. He stroked her arm as she fell into the deep abyss of sleep and that was when he decided she was as ready as him. She loved him, and even though he still couldn't quite understand how that had happened, it was the truth. And he once again pictured the scene, him down on one knee holding out a sparkling diamond ring to her and he saw her say yes. He was sure she would say yes, so he would do it. He was going to find the courage inside of him and he was going to ask this wonderful woman to marry him.
Leonard smiled despite the trickling of nerves that had already begun to show themselves, as they anticipated what he had just decided to do, and then he fell asleep and dreamt of the woman who was lying beside him.