The trouble had started when Leonard announced his good news.
Leonard Hofstadter was one of the theoretical physicists at the California Institute of Technology or Cal Tech as it was known to the locals. Although short in stature, he was large in personality. A moderate figure with brown eyes behind large black framed glasses, he was a likable and studious young man who enjoyed comic books and science fiction in his private pursuits, but when Professor Roland Morton injured himself in a clandestine exercise, Leonard was chosen to replace him in a team of twelve scheduled to head to visit the large Hadron Collider in Cern, Switzerland. It was a big deal for any serious physicist or scientist, but Leonard wanted to use the trip as something else. He wanted to share the time with his girlfriend, Penny Parker. She was a struggling actress living in his apartment building and the first real love of his life. It was an easy and logical solution, but the main obstacle was Sheldon Cooper, his roommate, a fellow physicist and general nuisance.
"So, did you guys resolve who's going to Switzerland?" Howard poked the metaphorical bees' nest. He and his best friend, Rajesh Koothrapalli, were colleagues at Cal Tech, and they always ate in the Cheesecake Factory at least once a week together with Sheldon and Leonard.
"What's to resolve?" Sheldon smirked assuredly. "I'm the one who's going to Switzerland."
Leonard looked up over his glasses. Sheldon lived in his own world, and what he didn't make room for in it didn't exist in it, such as free speech and freedom to speak for one's self. He had found that out the hard way. When he had moved in with Sheldon, he had been asked to sign a roommate agreement – an incredibly biased and one-sided manifest that Sheldon had Leonard signed when he moved into the apartment, but it had more in common with Hitler's Mein Kampf than any Normal cohabital agreement. What it was was actually Sheldon's totalitarian agreement to restrict and bind Leonard and his freedom in the apartment. It covered everything from the casual like driving Sheldon to the office, to the insane like controlling seating arrangements and schedules to the downright sadistic like dictating Leonard's dating routine and personal habits. It was something that was supposed to set and arrange their boundaries in the apartment, but as Leonard quickly realized, it actually allowed Sheldon to make all sorts of crazy demands on Leonard's life and reputation and force Leonard into subservience. He referred to it as to the agreement from hell. If only he had looked a bit closer, he might have noticed the clause binding Leonard to take Sheldon with him to see the Cern Super-Collider when it became possible.
"Sheldon." Leonard responded. "For hopefully the last time, I'm taking Penny."
"No, you're not…"
"Yes, I am…"
"No, you're not…" Sheldon steadfastly stuck to written and signed agreement as if he was the devil bartering for Leonard's soul.
"Yes, he is…" Penny was like the very shapely and attractive angel trying to save Leonard's soul. "Here's your lunch, guys." The struggling actress still had to eat and made her living as a waitress in the area Cheesecake Factory restaurant. Leonard got the hamburger without cheese, Raj broke his Hindu diatribe by eating hamburger as well and Howard displayed weak Jewish tradition by ignoring the kosher dishes.
"Now, Sheldon," She stood over the table in her restaurant uniform. "Are we going to have a problem?"
"Penny…" Sheldon watched as she held his hamburger hostage over his head. "This is the Cern Super-Collider in Switzerland. This is like a giant ball of yarn to your people."
"My people come from Nebraska." She narrowed her eyes at him. "And we can kick the asses of your people back to whatever planet you came from." She surrendered his hamburger to him but only to do her job.
"Sheldon, why are you making this a problem?" Leonard's insides twisted whenever Sheldon's ego contradicted his basic human rights.
"Because it's in the roommate agreement."
"We also signed a clause that whoever gets abducted by aliens has to get them to pick the other one up." He looked toward Penny, but she had other customers to take care of in the restaurant. Raj sat silently watching the fight unfold before him. "We also signed that if one of us gets a TV show on SyFy Channel that the other one gets to be co-host!" He paused to take a breath. "We can't take the roommate agreement at face value because we never set a rider in it in the event either of us got a girlfriend."
"Why not?" Raj asked.
"Quite frankly, at the time, it seemed a bit far-fetched…" Sheldon added. "Anyway, girlfriend status is arbitrary because she's not a tenant of our apartment." He reacted distant to Leonard's disgruntled emotions.
"Sheldon…" Leonard grew even more exasperated trying to turn Sheldon into a human being. "I'm taking Penny."
"No, you're not." Sheldon corrected him.
"There is no way in Hell I'm taking you with me on this trip."
"You have to…" Sheldon was adamant. "It's in the roommate agreement."
"Curse the Roommate Agreement!"
"No, sir, the Roommate Agreement curses you!"
"My, God, Leonard…" Howard rolled his eyes. "You're beating a dead crazy horse." He referred to Sheldon's insanity. They made jokes about it all the time, but at these times, it was scary when it became real. "Just buckle under…"
"No, not this time…" Leonard answered. "It's a matter of principle!"
"Dude…" Raj looked over tired of this recurring battle between Leonard's rights and Sheldon's totalitarian regime. "You know you're going to give in just to shut him up…"
Sheldon shot a harsh stare at him.
"…Just do it already." Raj added.
"Excuse me…." The guy at the next table beyond Leonard and Howard turned round toward their elaborate argument. "I'm sorry to overhear your discussion, but…"
"How could you stop overhearing it?" Sheldon remarked. "Unless you put earmuffs on, you were going to hear it. Do you mean you were unable to ignore it?"
Their would-be advisor paused in confusion over Sheldon's rather odd observation.
"Anyway…" Their guest continued after a perturbed shake of his head. "Your solution is rather simple. You have a girlfriend you want to share the trip with, right?"
"Yeah…" Leonard wanted to hear this.
"Your best friend wants to see this Hadron Collider…"
"Correct." Sheldon interrupted. "You see, Leonard. Even strangers agree that I should go with you."
Leonard rolled his eyes and turned to his left side to hear this solution.
"I'm sorry…" He apologized. "What do you think I should do?"
"You should take your girlfriend, and make your roommate pay for his own trip and lodging to see the Collider…" Their new friend revealed the solution. "That way they can share and split the separate merits of the trip." Upon hearing that, Leonard's attitude picked up and realized it was just the right answer. When he was at the hotel or out on the town, he'd be with Penny, and when he visited the Collider, Sheldon could be with him. He could split the whole difference between them. The solution was so simple. Even Howard grinned at the simplicity, and Raj nodded at the clarity and simplicity of it.
"That's perfect!" Leonard liked it.
"Why didn't we think of that?" Raj spoke up.
"I don't like it." Sheldon responded. Leonard, Raj and Howard all groaned out of frustration.
"Why?" Howard was first to snap. "What's wrong with it? What do you actually find wrong with that solution?" They looked at Sheldon. His mouth opened to respond, but he didn't say anything. He just froze trying to talk. He could confess that he just wanted to be selfish and egotistically horn in on Leonard's invitation; his own reason to go was the agreement that he had Leonard sign, but with his allowance to accompany Leonard fulfilled, he had no say in barring Penny from enjoying the guest ticket.
"Well, then, " Leonard had reason to rejoice. "I'm taking Penny and Sheldon is tagging along on his own dime." He lit up and shook his new friend's hand. "Thank you very much…"
"Don't mention it…" Their unnamed benefactor was glad to be of help. "But if you don't mind me adding, if your roommate was really such a good friend, he wouldn't have forced you into making such a unreasonable decision."
Sheldon looked up offended.
"Don't you know it." Leonard turned round to his table.