The suggestion worked perfectly. Leonard even borrowed a trick from Sheldon and made up a one-page promissory note that Sheldon had to sign to go along with the trip. It basically said that Sheldon was not allowed to interrupt or bother him as long as Penny was with him while they were on Swiss soil. However, as Sheldon pointed out, it did not involve the grounds at Los Angeles Airport or the flight itself, and Sheldon got tackled by airport attendants and dragged back into coach while Leonard and Penny enjoyed First Class. In Switzerland, Leonard was with Penny constantly, and left her only to get Sheldon to go see the Cern Super-Collider. The rest of the time, Sheldon was alone much of the time and annoying the locals with his fussy preferences and inability to quickly master the Swiss language. He was almost arrested at the end of the week when it came time to go home and get on with their regular lives and routines. Despite the trip, a few months later, Penny was forced to confront her feelings for Leonard. He loved her far more than she did him, and unable to make that sort of commitment, she broke up with him a few months later. He moped around a few days, pretended to ignore her another two weeks and then was mooning over her from afar once more as she was once again going through a string of short relationships.
"Hey…" He tried being friends with her as he arrived to get lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. "How you doing?"
"Just fine…" She was on duty at the hostess podium. "Where are the guys?"
"They're coming behind me…" Leonard tried making chitchat with her. "I had a doctor's appointment this morning and they're catching up with me here."
"Oh…okay…" Penny checked the seating. "So, how was it?"
"Okay, just okay…" Leonard spoke up. "I'm seeing someone… yeah… Uh, you don't know her, but…"
"I meant your doctor's appointment."
"Great…" Leonard grinned trying to hide his embarrassment. "Healthy as a Gundark…"
"That's a Star Trek reference, isn't it?"
"Yeah…" Leonard reacted unsure how to act. "Star Wars, actually…" He looked into the dining room. It looked as if every table was packed. "It looks kind of busy…."
"Yeah…" Penny looked around. "We got a party in the back…"
"Oh, wait…" Leonard looked again. "I remember that guy." He recognized his unidentified advisor from February. It was the guy who had solved the conundrum with the trip to Switzerland. Stepping past the family with the teenagers and the party of five, he strolled up to the table where his unidentified acquaintance sat alone at his table writing in a journal at the table. A partially finished hamburger and onion rings before him, he sat quietly and mentally-disconnected from the restaurant around him. Leonard strolled up to him and got his attention. Penny drifted off to help other customers.
"Hey…" His face lit up trying to be friendly. "Long time no see…"
"Yeah…" The brawny figure looked up. "How was your trip to Switzerland?"
"Great…" Leonard answered. "Went out without a hitch." He extended his hand. "I'm Leonard."
"James…" James Hoffman finally identified himself. He was a big guy, maybe about as tall as Sheldon, but he had a thicker non-muscular frame. He was young, maybe in his late twenties or early thirties. "James Hoffman…" He shook Leonard's hand. "You were the guy with the trip to the Cern Super-Collider. That makes you either a really big science geek or one of those scientists as Cal Tech."
"Well, the second one… both actually…" Leonard sat down and briefly looked up to see Penny pass behind James. "I'm researching and testing linear string theory. Yourself?"
"I'm a historian…" James finished off his burger in one bite and spoke before sipping his drink. "I also write historical fiction." He sipped his drink. "So, physics, huh? That's impressive."
"Yeah…" Leonard tried to be humble about it. "So, what you doing here in town? Doing research on something?"
"Actually, I was supposed to be meeting a guy here about an apartment," James responded. "But I don't think he's going to show."
"You need an apartment?" Leonard saw a chance to return his help. "I've got an apartment in my building."
"Actually, I've got the apartment, it's the roommate I'm looking for. " James clarified. "You see, I live in this big house by myself, and I'm just looking for someone to keep from being alone in it. I don't have a girlfriend right now, so I thought I'd rent the extra room to someone. You know someone who might be interested?"
"What kind of room is it?" Leonard reacted intrigued.
"It's just a room in the unused part of the house." James ate some of his onion rings. "It's outside my grandfather's old study."
"Your grandfather?" Leonard was a fuss for details.
"Abraham Reinhoff…" James placed his plates together as Bernadette, one of the waitresses, walked by and took it then left his bill in its platter. "He was actually one of the founding fathers of the early NASA program. "
"Your grandfather was Abraham Reinhoff?" Leonard's face was impressed. "I read his book, Articles of Attraction Between Sub-Atomic Particles! It was one of the books that made me want to be a physicist!" He paused to revel in his discovery. "Oh my god! So, whatever happened to him? Is he still around?"
"He passed away in 1975." James answered reflectively pensive. "After he retired from NASA, he got into private research working on some of Einstein's unpublished works. For a while, he was even trying to prove time travel was possible."
"Wow…" Leonard chuckled a bit excitedly. He was sitting across from a relative of one of his idols. He had so many questions, but he could barely think. "I would love to dive into his unpublished research."
"Well, it's still all laid out in his old study in the house." James had finished his meal and was sipping his iced tea. "Come by my place some time and I'll let you see it…" He paused a second. Leonard started mentally debating the situation. Here was a guy he had met and liked who had his best interests in heart and was looking for a roommate and possibly still had an attic of fascinating unpublished physics research. It was an opportunity that was too good to be true. He should jump on it, but he was holding back. His damned blind friendship with Sheldon was holding him back.
"So…" His voice stammered nervously. "Where's your house located?"
"A couple of blocks west of Cal Tech…" James was pulling a dollar from his wallet to leave as a tip. "Practically walking distance…"
"I'll take it." Leonard blurted out what he was thinking before he could stop himself. James had partially stood to get ready to leave…
"I might be…" Leonard struggled a bit with his decision, but Sheldon's ego, eccentricities and psychotic rants were making it way too easy. "Interested…" He looked up to James like a young boy wondering what to do next. "…In the apartment." And then there was the matter with Penny; he didn't see the two of them getting together and seeing her constantly with other guys in the building was breaking his heart.
"Seriously?" James stopped where he was and reached to his shirt pocket. "Here's the address…" He handed over the directions on an index card. "Come by when you can to see it." He started for the cashier as Howard, Sheldon and Raj arrived. "And if you like, call me Jimmy…"
"Thanks…" Leonard lit up happy to have showed up here early. "Jimmy…" The guys recognized Jimmy as well and said their cordial hellos. Howard was surprised to meet him, and Raj very animatedly recognized him and shook his hand, but Sheldon was a bit more standoffish. Acknowledging Jimmy with a bird-like bob of his head, he accompanied the guys to join Leonard at the far table.
"Well, that's a face we've not seen in a long time." Howard referred to Jimmy and took his seat as Sheldon sat next to him and Raj sat down next to Leonard. "What did you guys talk about?"
"Not much…" Leonard had cause to grin like a peacock. "In fact, I might be moving into an extra room at his house."
"Why would you want to do that?" Sheldon took the menu out of routine despite the fact he was just going to order the same hamburger he always ordered.
"Because if we keep living together, I just might end up killing you in your sleep."
"Well, that's an extreme conclusion to jump to…" Sheldon snidely responded and scoffed at that notion. "What could I possibly have done to meditate that sort of hostility from yourself?"
"Do you really want to go there?"
"So, how's the Brainiac Club…" Penny had come over to take their orders. It was just a technicality; they almost always ordered the same thing every time they came in, but she still gave them the option.
"Brainac is a Superman villain." Sheldon tried to correct her comic book knowledge. "Why would we have a club named after him?"
"Better question…" Penny didn't really care about her comic book knowledge being accurate. "Why do these guys let you hang out with them?" She made him annoyed then raised her order pad. "So, guys, same as usual? Anything new?"
"Did you hear about Leonard getting a new apartment?" Howard spoke first.
"What?" Penny looked up surprised. Leonard embarrassingly fidgeted and postured in his seat by Howard upon being put on the spot. "Leonard?"
"I didn't say I was going to do it!" He tried to correct their thinking. "I was just going to think about it. He invited me over to look at it." He responded truthfully. "He even gave me his address." He showed it to Howard.
"Leonard isn't going to move." Sheldon postured and grinned. "He's got one. We're buddies. We're roommates. Why would he want to move?" He sat across from Leonard with that weird assured grin on his face. Leonard scowled at Sheldon thinking he knew him.
"You're making this decision so much more easier…" Leonard answered. Raj looked at the address Howard had taken from Leonard. Unable to speak in front of Penny, he whispered in Howard's ear to repeat for him what he said.
"I noticed!" Howard stopped Raj's poking and prodding. "Leonard, did you look at this address? This guy lives on Ocean Grove near the university! That's the most expensive part of town; it's like several of the biggest historic homes in the area. You've got to take me with you to see this place!"
"Seriously…" Leonard hadn't noticed. "Jimmy did say he lived alone in a big house…" He looked up to Penny. "Penny, you think I ought to move into this place?"
"Let me answer for her…" Sheldon spoke up and interrupted her. "Of course not. Leonard, we've got a good thing going. We're a team. You're the Robin to my Batman; the Jarvis to my Tony Stark. My Antonius Sverdoslovski to my Lord Raymond Gregorivich Dogunov…" He named two sets of comic book characters and two obscure biochemists to insinuate that Leonard was his sidekick. "Moving to this location is not a good idea. Could you put Superman in Gotham City and see him fight common street trash? No. Could you see Peter Parker going to work at the Daily Planet? I think not. Leonard, moving is never a good idea. Can't we all learn from the Val Kilmer fiasco that was Batman Three? Perfectly good movie franchise ruined because Michael Keaton left. Not only that, but if Jim Jones had not marched those people into Guiana in 1977, wouldn't all of them still be alive?" He looked across the table to their stunned and shocked faces. "Bottom line…" He continued. "You do not change a formula that works."
"I'm going to miss you most of all, Scarecrow…" Leonard mumbled.
"You're comparing Leonard moving out of the apartment…" Howard retorted. "…to Jim Jones and the People's Temple?"
"Yes…" Sheldon answered.
"Look…" That faded event was even a bit before Penny's time. "Leonard…" She placed her hand on his shoulder. "No one can make this decision for you. Now, I can understand why anyone would want to move away from someone as bat-crap crazy as Sheldon…" Penny looked at Sheldon offended by the reference. "But if you think this is the right thing for you, go for it." She excused herself to help another of her restaurant patrons.
"I'm not crazy…" Sheldon mumbled. "My mother had me tested."
"Dude…" Raj talked now that Penny was away from the table. "What are you going to do?"
"I don't know…" Leonard thought about it and debated over it.