This was the story Leonard heard it from Jimmy. Born James Theodore Hoffman, Jimmy was raised the son of architect and contractor Gregory William Hoffman and Christine Angelique Reinhoff, a botanist. He was the youngest of six children. His oldest sister, Gwen, was a landscaper now living in Utah with her husband and daughter. Alicia had been born next; she was now a surgeon in Seattle, living with her life partner for now on nine years. Russell Michael Hoffman had been the first son born, but he got sick in the house and passed away at only a year and a half. While the house was in its most recent renovation, the family had lived in San Antonio where Jessica and Melissa had been born. Jessica still lived there as a history teacher, but Melissa was now a physical therapist in Reno, Nevada. Sara was the first one born upon moving back home to Pasadena, and Jimmy was born the following year. Sara had attended the Eastland Academy near Ojai, same as her sisters, and now, she lived in Sacramento as a family therapist. Jimmy, however, had been one of the last students to attend Hastings Academy in Oxnard before it closed down, and he specialized in anthropology with a minor in archaeology at Southwestern Maine University, pulling his internship down in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. before acquiring his doctorate at the age of twenty-two. In 2002, he was in Alaska analyzing Native American remains when a group of men calling themselves the Children of the Confederacy took over the camp, held him and the others captive and declared war on the U.S. Government. Jimmy was rescued by the FBI eighteen days later and had a nervous breakdown afterward, but he never did any work in the field again. He vanished into the family home in Pasadena, gained weight watching old TV shows and playing computer games and was pulled back into the real world by his mother and two of his sisters. Three girlfriends later, he was still single except for an imaginary marriage he had with actress Reese Witherspoon that existed in his head. Leonard understood him a bit better after that talk, and they bonded a little. Warned that Sheldon was on the way over to get into the upstairs study, Jimmy locked the new deadbolt on the door of his grandfather's study and pretended to vanish for a few hours, leaving the guys to play World of Warcraft on the giant screen in the game room. According to Leonard, Jimmy had a headache from the noise.
"Raj, watch for the troll!" Leonard and the guys fought three-dimensional computer generated creatures in the fake reality. They were spells going off, sword fights and fake explosions going on around them.
"I'm boxed in!" Raj hit the buttons on his pad fast and furious. "Someone! Cover me!"
"I got you, little buddy!" Howard went sword to sword with a giant warrior. Sheldon was their spell-caster. His animated character tossed exploding balls and fired mystical forces as they fought to get into a cursed church for the mystic weapons they needed on their next quest.
"Leonard!" Sheldon tossed spell after spell at trolls, giants and ogres. "I'm going in!"
"But you're going to get killed!"
"Then I'll see you in hell!" They took the game very seriously. Sheldon's character now raced forward into the church just as a succubus attacked him from the church rafters. "Oh, lord, where'd she come from?"
"Maybe she smells Howard's aftershave!" Raj laughed.
"I got a date with Bernadette tonight!" Howard screamed back. "Lay off!" He moved to shoot arrows into an ogre, but the game froze up and the word "PAUSE" popped up on screen. Raj and Sheldon recessed from their furious game playing and looked to Leonard.
"What's that noise?" Raj heard a sound that didn't come from the game. It was a buzzing sound from the ceiling fixture.
"It's the intercom at the front door…" Leonard announced. He looked around for the pad and found it at the entry to the hall toward the front of the house. He pushed the button for the flashing light. "Yes?"
"Leonard, it's me, Penny…" His former girlfriend stood at the front door carrying a pie for him. "Can I come in?"
"Oh, what is she doing here?" Sheldon commiserated.
"Yeah, just a second…" Leonard turned the intercom off and looked to the guys. "I'm going to go let her in."
"But what about the game?" Raj asked.
"We can finish it later." Leonard followed the hall past the downstairs bathroom where it opened up near Jimmy's library and study. Turning right, he passed the trophy case and the front foyer as the guys followed behind him. Sheldon exhaled a deep breath, and Howard checked his watch wondering if he should leave early to pick up Bernadette from the Cheesecake Factory. Raj came around and sat at the bottom of the staircase as Leonard popped the locks and undid the latches at the entryway to let Penny inside to see the place.
"Hey, Leonard…." Penny peeked in and recognized his face. "I just… Oh-my-freaking-God…" She looked around the interior. It was huge! It might have been an airplane hangar. The stairs were either side of the doorway with a balcony over the front entryway and a walkway over their heads to the upstairs corridor. "This room is bigger than my parent's house!"
"Yeah," Leonard grinned happy to see her. "Isn't it great?"
"Yeah…" She walked around in a circle trying to take it all in with the pie in her hands. "Oh, uh, yeah… I brought you a pie." She handed it to him. "It's just one of the day olds from the restaurant…"
"This is great." He looked back at her and felt some nervous and awkward sexual tension between them. He cleared his throat and she looked remiss as she scanned the foyer once more. She looked to the walkway over their heads and followed it down the staircase with her eyes to where the guys were standing and waiting for Leonard to return to the game.
"What's he doing here?" She looked at Sheldon.
"Visiting Leonard…" Sheldon responded.
"Honestly, Leonard…" Penny looked at him. "If you let him in the house once, you'll never get rid of him."
"Don't worry, I sprayed…" Leonard grinned. "Hey, would you like to see the place?"
"Leonard, what about the game?" Howard spoke up.
"We'll finish it tomorrow." Leonard started showing Penny to the front dining room.
"Oh, I might have known…" Sheldon grumbled as he commiserated his luck. "Leonard following his hormones again instead of logic." He looked to Howard. "Come for the science, outed by the biology…" He felt annoyed and disgruntled by the lack of attention. "Who's driving me home?"
"I'm picking Bernadette up at work." Howard was backing up to the hallway to the rear of the house. He turned and nearly smacked into the downstairs table with the flowers on it. Sheldon turned to Raj.
"Raj," Sheldon followed him to the doors. "Could you run me home?"
"Yeah, I guess so…" Raj relented. "But… you're not allowed to talk while I'm driving."
"Fine, fine…" Sheldon had another idea what not talking meant. "But could you run me by the post office first. I'm out of stamps…"
"And by the comic book store…"
Raj made one pathetic look back to Leonard in the dining room looking for pity. Annoyed, he rolled his eyes exasperatedly and headed toward the front door to let himself out on the way home. Sheldon was right behind him. Once outside, Howard rolled by on his motor scooter and shot toward the open gate.
"He's out of the car in three blocks… five blocks, tops…" Leonard referred to Sheldon with Raj, placed the pie on the table and looked back to Penny before the fireplace in the dining room. Penny lightly giggled a bit.
"So, Leonard," She turned her head toward him and walked around the table looking over the family pictures on the walls, the Old English Furniture and the heavy oak dinner table. The room was like a museum display except for the signs of occupation. A stray glass was left near the centerpiece, and the dust in the bookcase was somewhat disturbed. The easy chair by the fireplace had a book left face down in it, and the firewood in the mantel was recent, scorched on top but untouched on the ends. "How do you like it here?" She asked.
"It's great." Leonard replied. "There's no one here to wake me in the middle of the night, my bathroom routine is no longer dictated by a schedule, Jimmy doesn't make any unreasonable claims and best of all, I don't have to drag him around like an albatross around my neck."
"Yeah," Penny peaked into the pantry on the way to the kitchen. "I guess there's nothing to make you want to come back to living with Sheldon." She looked around noncommittally.
"God, no!" Leonard stood by the dish cabinet. "I'd much rather go swimming in shark-infested waters with a hunk of beef around my neck!"
"I was afraid of that…" Penny looked around once more and then back to him. She wasn't sure what had happened next, but the next thing she knew, she was grabbing Leonard and pressing her lips to his and his hands were reaching up the back of her shirt. An emotional dam had shattered as feelings and unrequited emotions too powerful for them came over them and had them gasping and moaning once more. Leonard felt a chill, clapped his hands and the electronic starter in the fireplace that Jimmy had showed him had the fire in the fireplace going to full blaze. There was giggling and gasping for breath and a bond between them once more as they reverted to teenagers. The heavy oak table rattled a bit, a chair got budged a bit and a floor lamp got knocked over as passion ignited between the two lovers. They weren't sure how long they had surrendered to the feelings they were trying to keep from realizing, but Penny suddenly heard something and cocked her head up looking around like a prairie dog sticking its head from the sand.
"What was that?" She heard a noise from the next room.
"Nothing…." Leonard kissed her neck again.
"Leonard, you here?" Jimmy's voice called out as he carried a bucket of chicken in a plastic bag in through the side entrance and into the kitchen. He set it on the kitchen counter and shuddered once grateful to be home. What had started out as a sunny day had turned dark and wet. Not predicting the rain, he shivered lightly from the cold a moment and walked over to the intercom system. Having seen Leonard's car outside with the other car, he figured Leonard had company. He pushed the button to buzz the house.
"Leonard, I got dinner…" He announced.
"I'm not hungry…" Leonard buzzed from the front dining room. He sounded out of breath and struggling with something.
"What about your guest?"
"She's not hungry."
"It's a girl?"
"Yeah…" Leonard zipped up his pants and looked to Penny pulling her shoes on then heard Jimmy's shoes on the hardwood floor in the pantry between the dining room and the kitchen. He was coming to meet Penny, but she was struggling with her last shoe and Leonard was still just in his socks with his shirt not tucked into his pants. Cursing under breath, he tried to dash Penny out to the back door, but Jimmy's path was just a bit shorter and he saw them both from the downstairs hall.
"Leonard…" Jimmy stood and watched them stop short of the entryway. "What's your hurry?" Penny's head turned to look over her left shoulder; her long slightly mussed hair flailing a bit as she turned to meet him. Hiding her one shoe behind her back, she watched as Jimmy came up to meet her.
"Jimmy, Penny…" Leonard introduced them. "Penny, Jimmy… She works at the Cheesecake Factory."
"Leonard's old girlfriend…" Jimmy remembered.
"Yeah, old… old girlfriend." She tried to imply their recent soiree didn't mean they were back together.
"Yeah," Leonard nervously agreed and adjusted his glasses. "I showed her the house."
"How do you like it?'
"It's a beautiful house."
"So, Jimmy, how was your day?" Leonard asked.
"Oh," Jimmy responded. "I went to go see that movie, "Night at Hawksmoor Hill" with Mila Kunis, Ashley Tisdale and Justin Bieber. It's a teenage horror movie light on script but heavy with atmosphere."
"Yeah, I auditioned for that." Penny confessed. "Damn Ashley Tisdale." She mumbled under breath before the front doors. "Well, I ought to get going…" She grinned and turned backward to keep Jimmy from seeing her one shoe off, but when she opened the one left side door, she got hit by a blast of cold wet air and noticed a stream of water pouring from the cover over the front porch. The architecture of the place had muffled the storm outside and kept them from hearing it. The wind whistled and blew rain inside, and the front driveway was covered in water from one end to another. Mud stretched across the asphalt driveway, and the water fountain was flooded and nearly running over. The skies were a dark gray from west to east the trees in the property were swaying from the breeze. Distant thunder sounded overhead. Her car was twenty feet down off the porch. She'd be drenched by time she made it.
"It's kind of miserable out…" Jimmy mentioned. "Look, I don't feel right sending you out in the rain. Why don't you stay the night with us and leave in the morning? You can sleep in my sister's room."
"Oh, I don't know…" Penny was hesitant.
"I think it's a great idea." Leonard liked the suggestion and started grinning. "Penny, wouldn't you like to stay the night?"
"That's okay…" Penny looked at him. "So I'll get a little wet, and it's only a twenty-five minute drive home on the highway…" Thunder cracked a bit closer, and she looked out wondering whatever gods were trying to get her and Leonard back together. "Where's your sister's room again?"
"Top of the stairs, second door to the left…" Jimmy stood with his arms folded over his navy blue shirt.
"Thank-you…" She turned for the stairway.
"I'll show you the way…" Leonard turned toward her.
"You're going to be a gentleman and stay out of her room for the night, aren't you?" Jimmy didn't turn around. He wasn't stupid. Leonard might have showed Penny the house, but that only would have taken him fifteen to twenty minutes at the most, and judging by the dirt washed off from Penny's car from the rain, they had been here at least more than an hour, and Leonard did sound out of breath on the intercom and in a hurry to get Penny out of the house when he found them.
"Good boy…" He turned back for the kitchen to make plates for Leonard, himself and his guest.