Leaving Pasadena

Chapter 1 Law of Conservation of Energy

Dr. Siebert and Dr. Gablehouser sat quietly at the conference table, two last names on the list before them. The list was of un-tenured professors in the Cal-Tech Physics department. Between the state’s fiscal crises, federal grants being reduced and donors vastly reducing their contributions many non-tenured PhD’s without current grant money needed to be let go. The first four had been easy enough. The last two on the list were Dr. Sheldon Cooper and Dr. Leonard Hoftstader one of them had to go.

Dr. Siebert was thinking it through: “Dr. Hoftstader’s grant had been cut as Congress had cut back funding for the National Institute of Science. But the work he had done was good, polished work. He published often and received good peer reviews. If things were different he could have applied and received tenure next year, he could have last year but didn’t. On the other hand his lab and experiments were very expensive, and without funding not sustainable. Dr. Cooper while being a theorist carried almost no overhead was supposedly brilliant and may someday bring great acclaim to the university. Unfortunately he was also a bat crap crazy.”

Dr. Siebert looked up at Dr. Gablehouser, “well it’s about money, so Hoftstader has to go.”

Leonard trudged up the stairs, each step blurring together. He had 90 days to figure out what to do and where to go next. The position cuts would be announced tomorrow, so everyone would know soon enough. He knew it had come down to him and Sheldon. It was better this way, Sheldon could never stand change. But how well did he stand change himself he wondered.

“Even if I’m horrible at change it would still be and order of magnitude better than Sheldon”, he said to himself.

He really needed to talk to Penny but she was at work. They were still in the go slow part of their new relationship. In fact this might just end that relationship before it ever got to the place they wanted it to be. He wasn’t sure where he’d end up but Pasadena wasn’t too likely.

He could always make a sign and sit by the freeway off ramp, “Will experiment for food, rather have money though”. Those spots though are pretty competitive he really didn’t have the “Street Cred”, for that move. “At least I still have a since of humor” he said out loud as he stepped onto the 4th floor landing.

“Of course you do, what’s up?” Penny said standing in her open door, laundry basket at her feet, apparently just returning from doing her laundry.

Leonard looked up and stumbled to get words and cover his feelings, “I thought you were working today?” He thought he’d covered up but she saw right through it.

“I switched shifts with another girl so I could have both Friday and Saturday off. What’s wrong Leonard? I haven’t seen you look this upset in”, she stumbled here, most of the times he was this upset she had been the cause, “a, ah, long time.” She finally got out.

He looked up from his feet she could tell it was bad. He simply said “I’m losing my job”.

Chapter 2 Newton’s 3rd Law

Penny’s mouth dropped open at Leonard’s news. He tried to diffuse if with humor, “Any openings at the Cheese Cake Factory for experimental physicists?”

It didn’t help, but Penny recovered quickly stepping forward to give him a hug. He leaned into her perhaps longer than he should have but she held on anyway. She finally released her arms and stepped back.

“What happened?” she asked, concern written on her features. Penny gently grabbed his forearm and started pulling him into her apartment, kicking the laundry basket in with her foot.

Leonard let her lead him. She set him on her sofa and set down next to him, her hand still on his arm. He was having a hard time looking her in the eye. How should he explain this to her?

He decided the abbreviated version was best, “because of funding cuts and my NIS grant coming to end they couldn’t afford to keep me and four other physicists any longer. My position will end in 90 more days.”

She seemed a little shocked again, then her eyes narrowed and she said “Why you, I thought you guys couldn’t get fired, isn’t called tenure.”

Leonard felt himself tense up, he didn’t really want to go there, not so soon. “Penny”, he began, “It’s because I don’t have tenure that its happening. I should have applied last year but I didn’t.”

He hoped she would leave it there but she wouldn’t.

“Why didn’t you apply last year?” Penny asked rather stridently.

Leonard mulled it over for just a second, it came to him that if he couldn’t be honest with Penny then who could he be honest with?

“Penny, tenure in a university is a permanent contract for employment, a permanent place on the faculty. It’s a huge commitment and up until the last few months I wasn’t sure I could stay here. There were times in the last year and a half that any place but here would have been better.”

Tears where starting to well up in Penny’s eyes, her hand was still on his arm clutching much tighter now. “Penny, stop this wasn’t your fault. I didn’t apply for tenure but the reason I stayed was because you were here. I just knew that I couldn’t stay if you moved on and weren’t here anymore. I would have had to leave there would have been to many things to remind me of you.”

This was mostly true, he had stayed for Penny. Then Priya came along though he tried to make that work Penny had always been there. But there had been a time after Penny had broken it off where he had actively considered positions at Stanford, University of Washington and even overseas. He had needed something to renew his soul. A change of scenery, new people and places seemed rather alluring at that time. Or maybe he had been selfish, a childish attempt to make those who cared for him miss him as much as he missed her.

Either way he had stepped in it now.

Penny leaned over and put her head on his shoulder, “so what are you going to do now” she asked very quietly.

“Start looking for a new position I suppose” Leonard replied just as softly, he left unsaid that it probably wouldn’t be here.

Chapter 3 Second law of thermodynamics

Leonard stepped into his apartment. He’d left Penny next door after a few minutes of just holding each other. Her lips had brushed across his when he rose to leave and she had clung to his hand for a moment, arm outstretched. He smiled at her telling her it would all work out and they would talk more later on. He’d left early for the day once he’d gotten the news, calling on the way home to arrange for Raj to drive Sheldon home.

He and Penny had agreed not to tell any of their friends until it was announced tomorrow. That would be Thursday. Penny was working a double that day in order to get today and Friday off. He had big full day date planned with Penny on Saturday. The first full day they had spent together since they started dating again. So he needed to hold Sheldon, Penny and himself together tonight and somehow figure out how to deal with Sheldon tomorrow. His head started to throb. He was definitely going to need his migraine medication, so he headed for his room.

He took his pills and then flopped down on the bed, the meds always made him drowsy being emotionally exhausted probably helped too. Before he could think about it he was asleep.

He heard the door open, had there been a knock? He seemed to have heard it, then heard Penny’s voice, “Leonard sweetie, the foods here.” She stepped into the room closing the door behind her. Her face looked worried.  He had rolled onto his side with his head propped up with his elbow and hand. She sat beside him and ran her hand very gently along his chin.

Leonard smiled up at her, “Sorry, I was getting a headache, I took a pill and was out of it. What are we having?”

She still had the worried look but replied “Indian food tonight. Leonard they all know.”

Leonard instantly sat up, “They all know, but how did they find out?”

Penny looked over at him sadly, “One of the other physicists that’s leaving threw a huge fit and emailed everyone in the physics department about it before he left for the day. Apparently it was quite heavily laden with swear words and accusations.”

It was probably Ackerman Leonard thought, he was wrapped a little tight, only Sheldon was wrapped tighter. Leonard gave Penny’s hand a quick squeeze as he stood up, “well so much for my one day reprieve from Sheldon.”

Leonard walked down the hall to the living room, Penny right behind him. Everyone was there, Howard, Bernadette, Raj and even Amy was over. He walked into the living room and Sheldon was holding court. Leonard grinned as Sheldon launched into a diatribe glad to have him for his friend.

“Well I’m just going to go see Dr. Siebert first thing tomorrow. They can’t let Leonard go, how will I get to work, who’ll take me to the comic book store. I’m far too valuable to the University to risk riding the bus every day”.

Leonard could see that Sheldon was really getting wound up now. He would need to intervene soon. Then Sheldon gave him the perfect opening.

“Dr. Leonard Hoftstader may have not made any significant contribution to this university or the field of Physics.” Sheldon was really getting going when Leonard interrupted.

“Hold it right there Sheldon”, Leonard said loudly, “You need to know some things before you go talk to Siebert. First you are the only un-tenured physicist left on staff. Second he picked me to go rather than you because theorists are a lot less expensive than scientists in the experimental physics field. Third you still have a year and a half on your grant.”

Sheldon looked as if he was about to protest when Leonard went on, ‘Don’t say anything to Dr. Siebert Sheldon, he is still in a staff cutting mode and both you and therefore Raj could be gone just by complaining about my departure.”

Sheldon was very quiet, his chin jutting in the air. Then suddenly he lowered his head and softly said, “I’m sorry Leonard, what ever shall we do.”

Penny spoke up to be supportive, “Maybe when Leonard gets his new job he could still drive you places, it could be on his way?”

Leonard saw it coming, she didn’t know but Howard, Raj and Sheldon did. It was Howard as usual whose mouth became disconnected from his brain.

“He’s not going to be driving him from Sacramento. Stanford’s the closet place Leonard could get another position, even if one were available.”

Penny acted as if she’d been physically struck. She held her hand to her mouth, and then fled the apartment.

Leonard started after her, glaring at Howard as Bernadette dug her elbow into his side.

 

Chapter 4 Newton’s First Law of Motion

Leonard went to Penny’s door, he knocked but there was no answer, it was unlocked and he peeked in. She was nowhere to be seen. Leonard thought about it for a moment and started up the stairs.

He found Penny on the roof, sitting down with her knees pulled against her chest by her crossed arms. She looked smaller than normal, tears where on her cheeks but she wasn’t sobbing she just looked up at the full moon. Leonard sat down next to her mimicking her pose. He didn’t say anything, just stared at the Sea of Tranquility and waited for Penny.

She croaked when she first started to speak, “I never told you how cool it was when you guys bounced the laser beam off the moon. Zack was there, I was embarrassed and just tried to get him out of there.”

She snorted, “of course the rest of the evening was a little bit embarrassing too, I should say I’m sorry, but the sex was great.”

He laughed and smiled, “it was a pretty good, the aftermath sucked, but at the time I was pretty jazzed until the next day.”

She sniffled and wiped her nose with back of her hand and continued, “I didn’t see that you would have to leave to find work. We’ve been through all sorts of problems. Being a apart, broken up, Priya, three months without you when you were at the North Pole. But nothing like this, I don’t understand why there’s nothing for you here”

Leonard felt the tears run down his cheeks, he clenched his teeth, tried desperately to control his breathing. He felt for his inhaler, it was in his pocket, it calmed him somehow. What to say:

“Penny, it’s not like I have regular job, I’m not even the kind of physicist that can work in the private sector. That’s what’s called and Applied Physicist. Sheldon doesn’t think much of Experimental Physicists, but were the people that design experiments that prove or disprove the theories guys like Sheldon dream up.”

Leonard paused and thought through how to tell her the next part.

“Penny, it’s not that I won’t be able to find a position. I’m one of maybe a hundred high energy laser experimental physicists in the world. I could go to Cornell in New York or Stanford up North, even Oxford in England. I could continue my work with any university that has the budget or a donor to provide the funds. But the only place I could do that in Southern California is Caltech and they can’t afford me anymore.”

He took his hand and touched hers. She grabbed his hand and intertwined her fingers with his. They stared at the moon, not speaking, the sound of traffic filtering its way onto the roof.

He stood and pulled her to her feet, and into his arms, pressing a kiss to her lips. They kissed desperately, with an intensity neither had shown since they had started dating again. She pulled back and looked him in the eye, tears welling up again.

“Leonard I refuse to lose you again, I love you.”

He was stunned, taken aback but his heart was so warm and beating so hard. He held her close then took her hand and led her to the stairwell.

Aside: Love is always two things at once, that which can shatter you into pieces and the glue that holds all the pieces together. I just wish it would make its damn mind up.

 

Chapter 5 Stigler’s law of eponymy

Sheldon Cooper sat on the side of his bed, worrying about tomorrow. His alarm clock said it was 9:50 pm and Leonard had never returned from going after Penny. He might have to take the bus tomorrow. He felt more than heard a rhythmic vibration, other faint sounds started to filter through. Sheldon reached for his ear plugs. Apparently Leonard had found Penny and they were back together. The sounds of coitus from 4B being the best indication.

Penny and Leonard lay intertwined, her head resting in the crook of his left arm her left hand on his chest. They were both very quiet now. It had been rather frantic for a time. Leonard thought afterglow might describe them right now but sated and content might be better. He started to say something but she put her hand to his lips, and whispered, “Love me tomorrow”.

Leonard reached his right hand over and turned out the lamp, turned slightly into Penny and put his right hand in the small of her back to pull her close. He couldn’t believe how much he had missed holding her. Lying beside him, Penny felt the same way, safe and completed somehow.

Penny woke up when she heard the apartment door click closed. She rolled over and looked at the clock. She knew it would say between 6:30 and 6:45 in the morning. She knew Leonard’s routine from the first time they were together. His routine was set by the rigidity of Sheldon’s routine. If he wanted a morning shower he had to be over there before 7:15. He wouldn’t take one over here during the week because it would wake her. But she had always woken anyway when he left. She’d never told him and most days would just roll over and go back to sleep.

She set up in bed and noticed a cup of coffee and a cookie Leonard had left on her night stand. He had been up for a while then, she thought. Penny suddenly loathed the double shift she was going to work today; 10 am to midnight was a long day. But she needed Friday off to go with Bernadette and Amy to work on the wedding. I think it’s center pieces and the seating charts for the reception we’re working on tomorrow. Then of course there was Leonard’s super-secret all day date on Saturday. She hoped that plan hadn’t changed. He had been really excited about it before yesterday.

She was sitting on her couch drinking her second cup of coffee and polishing off her cookie when Leonard knocked once and stuck his head in.

“Hey Penny, see you found your breakfast” Leonard said, stepping into 4B, “I’m taking Sheldon to work then I need to do about a hundred things today, Including keeping Sheldon from being well, Sheldon. I know you’re working all day so I’ll see when you get home”

“It’s going to be after midnight Leonard, are you sure?” Penny replied.

“I’m sure”, he started to turn to leave. Then turned back and gave her that smile. The one that made her heart throb and a tingle run down her spine.

“It’s tomorrow and I love you Penny, don’t worry about things today”

She smiled her best smile not even knowing it, “I love you too Leonard, I’ll try”

It was as simple as that, he closed door. She took one more drink of coffee before she started crying.

Sometimes love complicates matters, especially if you are in love with two people at the same time. But many times love makes life and choices crystal clear, there is only one choice, do what it takes to be with that person.

 

Chapter 6 Clarke’s three laws

Penny finally reached the 4th floor landing. It had been a long day and her feet were on fire. Lunch had been busy but the dinner shift pretty light. Not a great tip night by any stretch. She had a lot of time to think, that had been good. The decision in the end had been an easy one.

She moved to the door, it was slightly ajar with soft flickering light in the gap. She walked in and Leonard was sitting on the couch. Beside him on the floor was the small tub she used to soak her “man feet” in. Candles were lit and a glass of red wine was poured and waiting on the coffee table. He was smiling up at her.

“Go get into something comfortable. Then you can soak your feet and unwind for a while.” Leonard said still smiling.

He was the sweetest man, what had she been waiting for the last year and a half. She dropped her purse on the table beside the door. “I’ll be right back”, and headed into the bedroom. She put on her Nebraska T-shirt and some cute red pajama shorts. Went in the bathroom and washed her face and took her hair out of the work bun. She tied it in a ponytail and walked back out for her glass of wine.

She sat next to Leonard and placed her feet in the tub. The hot water felt so good she collapsed into the couch leaning into Leonard on her left. He handed her the glass of wine and she took a sip.

“Wow, Leonard, how long have you been thinking about this?” she asked him with a grin he couldn’t see.

“Oh, since the first day I saw you, give or take a few different scenarios” he said as he caressed her shoulder and arms. “Long day, huh?”

Penny just nodded, “How about you, pretty awkward at work today?”

“It was okay, I got all the grad students working on moth balling the lab, a couple are sorting, filing and boxing up my notebooks. I’ll do the office in a couple of month unless they want it earlier.”

“I did get offered several interviews for positions by the early afternoon though”

Penny set up and looked at him, “Where?”

Leonard smile was still there, so something must be good.

“There is one from Oxford in England, but it has a lot of conditions, Princeton would like me to come back and teach but I’d rather do research, but the last one might work out.” He looked her in her eyes, still smiling.

“Penny, I would never ask you to give up your dreams of being an actress.” She stopped him with her hand to his mouth.

“Let me tell you what I decided today while getting all these new calluses. Leonard I love you, if you want me to I will go wherever you go.” She left it at that, she had planned to say more but she wanted to keep from crying.

Tears welled up and slid down Leonard’s face, he hugged her whispering, “yes” over and over to himself. He struggled to not cry, she just held him close until he stopped.

“So what’s the place you think may work out for us?” she finally asked.

Leonard brightened up again, “One of my old professors I did graduate work for is now the physics chair at Columbia in New York City. He wants me to run the experimental physics department. It’s not strictly research it has the managerial side of it also but you could continue your acting career there.”

Now it was her turn to cry, the tears slipped out. New York had theater and television opportunities, and it was New York City. It was bittersweet though, leaving behind all their friends and the California sunshine.

She smiled her biggest smile at him, “It sounds perfect”

They snuggled for a while longer on the couch, the one glass of wine making her drowsy after the long day. Leonard got a towel and dried off her feet, rubbing and massaging the sore soles. She had almost fallen asleep on the couch when she felt his arms around her and the grunt as he picked her up. He put her in bed and paused for moment as if he would head back to 4A. She grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the bed.

“No way mister you are going to stay right here.  I need you to cuddle with me.”

Chapter 7 Kepler’s first law

Penny heard the door click shut, looked over it was 6:39 am. Today she did roll over and pull the blanket around her. His spot was still warm. She hoped he’d stop by with coffee and breakfast for her again. Then a goodbye kiss would also be nice. She snuggled into his warm spot closed her eyes and waited.

She had fallen back asleep and never heard him come in. The kiss upon the forehead and a hand stroking her hair was a pretty fine way to wake up though. She looked up into Leonard’s brown eyes, he was smiling but he was also deep in thought.

“Whatcha thinking about”, she said in her high voice she used to act the blonde. It usually got a laugh and this time was no exception.

“I was thinking how lucky I am to have you, but how much I’m going to miss this place.” He shook it off and continued, “I thought I would let Professor Martin at Columbia know that I’m very interested and I’d fly out to see him week after next. You want to come? If everything works out I can accept the position and we could spend a few days apartment hunting and sightseeing.”

Penny’s heart leapt at the chance to see New York, it did bring it home that they would be leaving Pasadena and it made her choke up for a second. She tried to sound excited, in some ways she was.

“Sure, I just need to get the time off.”, it was then she realized she probably didn’t need to get time off but give them her notice. She thought about her friends at work, and the floodgates almost came open. What about money and paying the bills.

“Leonard, are we going to be able to afford all this, the move, flights, a new apartment, all of it?”

She was shrill when she asked, but his face never changed. He just shook his head yes and replied. “I have plenty saved up to do this plus some extra, worse comes to worse I’ll hit the trust fund.”

Penny mouth gaped open, “You have a trust fund?”

“I do, my uncle Floyd set it up for me when I was a kid. He put money in it every year then a larger amount when he passed away came in. It’s not huge or anything about $180,000. I’ve put more in from time to time. I’ve been saving it to make a down payment on a house someday for our kids to live in.  There should be some left over to start a nice college fund too.”

Leonard blushed when he realized the “our kids” remark, but he kept his eyes locked on hers.

Penny rubbed his arm and playfully said, “A man of means, you are becoming more attractive every second.”

Leonard blushed and smiled down at her.

The sound of knocking followed by the predictable, “Leonard and Penny” came from apartment door. Leonard gave her a smooth kiss that lasted for the second set of three knocks, “Leonard and Penny”.

“There’s a latte and a scone on the kitchen counter, have a great day off, I love you”

“Love you too, bye” Penny said to his back as he turned the corner, she grinned and started to get up.

Amy and Bernadette showed up at 11:00, they tried to talk about Leonard but she told them they should talk when they got back. So they were off to getting supplies, party favors, and confetti for the reception tables center pieces. They went by the florist who showed them her design for the center pieces and bouquets. They all headed back to Penny’s place to work on the guest list and seating arrangements that afternoon.

“Has anybody talked to Sheldon about being in the wedding party, he could walk with Bernadette’s sister Mary?” Penny asked.

Amy shook her head, “The only person I think Sheldon will walk with other than me would be you Penny. But then you wouldn’t be walking with Leonard. Of course the way things are he may not even be here for the wedding.”

“They’ll both be there”, hissed Bernadette to Amy, who just raised her eyebrows at Penny.

Normally this would have brought a smile to Penny’s face but not now. She was going to have to spill New York to her friends. But before she could Amy started in again.

“It’s a shame Bestie that Leonard’s research never really attracted a first class donor. That would have covered his research and ensured a tenured position. It’s truly amazing what the biology departments will do for the donors. They were forced to keep Dr. Gilsthorpe even when he’d been incontinent and showing early signs of dementia. Talk about flinging feces.”

The wheels started tuning in Penny’s head. She excused herself for a minute and got on her computer. Bernadette and Amy were watching her type intently then she seemed to find what she wanted. She grabbed a pen and the closest thing to write on, it was one of Leonard’s essay books he used for experiments it hadn’t been there last night. She turned it to the last page, wrote something down. Penny stood up and rushed to the door stopping to get the spare key to 4A.

Amy and Bernadette followed her into 4A. She sat in front of Leonard’s laptop and logged in. He had not changed his password since they were dating, “ManInTheFunnyRedShoes”. She got into his email and address book and found what she was looking for. She wrote something in the back of the essay book and turned around to see Bernadette and Amy staring at her.

“Oh sorry had to get an address”, she stuttered, but with a death grip on the essay book. The guys would be home soon, it was pizza night. She went ahead and finally told them about Columbia and New York as they walked back into her apartment.

“Leonard’s been offered a position at Columbia, and if he takes it I’m moving with him to New York.”

Bernadette was excited. “You and Leonard together again, and in New York City that would be wonderful for you two.  I’ll miss you horribly but at least you and Leonard will be together. I’ve been so worried since yesterday”

Amy on the other hand looked stricken, Penny gave her hug. “No matter where I am I’ll be your Bestie”, Penny said. Amy held the hug just one Mississippi to long but Penny hung in there.

Hey guys I need to call my mom, I’ll be back in a minute. Penny took her pink cell phone in her left hand and headed for her bedroom, clutched in her right hand was the essay book.

The Darkest times present two opportunities to travel farther into darkness and despair, or seek the light and hope. Neither is rational just inevitable.

 

Chapter 8 The Law of Large Numbers

Penny got up first on Saturday morning. Leonard just kept his eyes closed trying sleep in just a bit. They had pizza the night before in 4A with all their friends. The talk of Columbia of course was bounced back and forth. Leonard thought how no one was surprised at all that Penny was going too. That they were together again in the most serious way they could be. When someone is willing to move to a city on the other side of the Continent that shows commitment. At one point in the evening Leonard asked Howard why no one seemed surprised.

“Oh we all knew it would happen someday Leonard, I always wondered what it would be that finally did it. Penny has been missing you almost as soon as she dumped you. I think Penny knew if she stayed around long enough it would happen”

Sometimes Howard could make you feel real good if he wasn’t being creepy, thoughtless and selfish thought Leonard. That must be what Bernadette sees in him.

Leonard rolled out of bed his robe was in 4A so he came out in his white t-shirt, socks and Star Wars boxers. Penny had her back to him at the stove making pancakes. She had on her short lavender robe, hair piled on the top of head with a clip. He just stood in the bedroom doorway admiring her. Penny turned with a plate piled with pancakes.

“Good morning you, hungry they’re dairy free?” A grin spread across her face, exuding happiness.

“I love pancakes” Leonard said with a matching smile.

He sat at the counter next to the plates, butter and syrup she had set out. She doled out the pancakes and poured him some coffee. Penny picked up her cup and set it next to her plate. As she set down next to him she touched his chin and pulled him into a kiss. They both started eating.

“So what is the super-secret date were going on today honey”

He just smiled at her, “You’ll see, we have about a two hour drive, so dress comfortable but think Nebraska in how you dress, jeans and those cute cowboy boots would do.”

She was intrigued, but decided he’d tell her when he was ready.

Leonard finished breakfast and headed back to 4B to get dressed. Penny took her shower and got her blue jeans on then she put on her cowboy boots and a western style blouse. She put her hair in a ponytail and tied it with a red ribbon. She looked in the mirror, definitely Nebraska.

Leonard came through the door he had on blue jeans with a cowboy belt, a black western shirt but sneakers.

“I just couldn’t find a pair of boots that fit well” he shrugged.

Penny laughed and wrapped him in a hug. “What are we driving two hours to a hoedown?”

He smiled, “Nope Miss Junior Rodeo. We are driving to Bakersfield for the Pro Rodeo.”

She beamed at him, she hadn’t been to a rodeo since she left Nebraska, it would be an awesome date. She planted a huge kiss on his lips. “I can’t believe it, you are incredible.”

“Well we better hit the road cowgirl”, Leonard said as he steered them toward the door.

They talked all the way to Bakersfield, both avoiding the impending move to New York, laughing about Amy and Sheldon. Would Raj ever get hooked up with someone? They talked about Howard and Bernadette’s wedding plans. In the end they talked about what they wanted, they surprised each other on how close some of their dreams were. They both wanted a family, a place of their own, pets other than Sheldon.

The rodeo was fun, an event where even Leonard wouldn’t get hurt. They laughed and cheered the cowboys and cowgirls. Penny explained each event and answered Leonard’s silly questions.

The drive home was quieter, soft music. Penny even fell asleep for about 40 minutes.

As they got off the freeway in Pasadena, Leonard’s phone rang. Penny only heard his side of it

“Hello Dr. Siebert”

“You’d like me stop by the university now, oh you had a meeting”

“I have a friend with me is that okay?” He looked over at Penny and she just smiled back.

“I’ll see you in about 20 minutes”

Leonard looked at Penny perplexed, “Dr. Siebert would like me to stop by and see him on our way home. He was very insistent, I hope Sheldon hasn’t done something or had a breakdown”

Penny just said, “We better go then”

Leonard walked into Dr. Siebert’s office with Penny in tow.

Dr. Siebert was sitting behind his desk, he stood when they entered and offered his hand.

Leonard shook it and introduced Penny as his fiancé’ and then blushed.

Penny just smiled at Leonard as Dr. Siebert shook her hand.

They all set down around his desk and Dr. Siebert got right to the point.

“Dr. Hoftstader we would like you to stay here at Caltech and continue you research.”

Leonard was taken aback, “Did the NIS reinstate may grant?”

“No a private donor has earmarked some of their funds for your research and they requested you be given full tenure”

Now Leonard was getting very excited, he looked over at Penny who was nodding rapidly yes.

“I Accept” Leonard replied offering his hand, Dr. Siebert shook it.

“I will be seeing you on Monday then, nice to have met you Penny”

It took Leonard a microsecond after reaching the hallway to do a fist pump, and wrap Penny in a hug. We’re not leaving Pasadena. They were both on the verge of tears and the hug went on and on until Penny whispered in his ear. “Let’s go home”

By the time they got home it was late, but Leonard was elated and full of energy. Penny flopped down on the couch as Leonard went to the Kitchen for a bottle of wine. On the table next to Penny’s laptop was the essay book. Leonard reached over and picked it up.

“I’ve been looking for this”, Leonard said holding it up.

Penny’s eyes grew huge, what should she do? She decided to play it cool.

‘What’s so important about that particular essay book? She asked.

He blushed, and looked down. “Maybe I should just let you read it.” He handed her the book.

Penny laid it on her lap she hadn’t seen that in the title page of the book it had a small LP etched in Leonard’s familiar print. She started leafing through it the first few pages were empty but on the fourth page was more of Leonard’s writing.

How is love like physics? In atomic and quantum physics opposite objects avoid each other. It takes huge machines like the super collider to make these strongly bonded particles collide. What they produce from the collision are even smaller quantum particles. Unfortunately the collision destroys the original particles. In the world of physics love is more like magnetism. Like poles of magnets repel, but opposite poles of a magnet attract. They become stuck together North Pole to South Pole. Penny you and I are those opposite poles, when we meet we are like magic. By ourselves we are special with similar properties but opposite approaches to how we deal with our lives. Together we are a new and better thing. We protect each other and our loved ones. Penny will you marry me.

Below it Leonard had sketched a snowflake and a picture of a cat coming out of a box.

Penny’s started to cry, it had been a hell of a week. Leonard sat beside her on the couch and looked into the most beautiful green eyes ever made. She swallowed twice.

“I will” she said as she fell into his arms.

Epilogue:

Penny Hoftstader kept that essay book next to her bed along with a snowflake preserved in acrylic for the rest of her life with Leonard. They had 3 children, and 6 grandchildren. She never made it big in the movies, but she did do some commercials and community theater. One day she walked into her bedroom and her daughter was reading what her father had written and looked up a Penny.

“Mom isn’t this handwriting in the back yours?”

She read what it said out loud, “Mrs Elizabeth Latham, largest donor to the Caltech Physics Department, walk of shame, then there’s a phone number.”

Penny just smiled.

I hope you all enjoyed this as much as I did writing it. The only things remaining will be covered in the Back Story and Addendums in the next chapter. If you’re interested read on.

Ted

 

Chapter 9 Behind the Scenes and Beyond

The first call: If Amy had been listening at Penny’s door when she called “her mom” on Friday

“Hello, is this the Elizabeth Latham that is one of the donors to the physics department at Caltech?

“Oh no nothing like that, I’m calling to let you know of some changes that are taking place at the university. My fiancé Leonard Hoftstader wanted me to call all the people that have supported his work at Caltech and thank them. You were at the top of the list.”

“Well no the university is letting him go, his grant was scaled back.”

“No he would have had tenure this year”

“It looks like we may end up at Columbia in New York we’re both heartbroken to leave Southern California”

“Oh that would be great.  I sure hope it helps the university change its mind”

Penny laughed, “That would be wonderful for us, Thank you so much”

“Can I just ask you one more thing, can we keep this part of the conversation just between us”

“Thank you again Liz, bye”

The Second Call as recorded by the phone system at Caltech Friday Afternoon

Dr. Siebert: Hello Liz nice to hear from you, going to be at the donor banquet next month?

Mrs. Latham: Perhaps Dan, but I just heard some very disturbing news. I heard that you let Dr. Hoftstader go and he’s heading to Columbia. I have to tell you Dan if he goes to Columbia a major portion of my donation is going with him.

Dr. Siebert: It must have been an error, Dr. Hoftstader’s research is very important to us. I’ll make sure this gets resolved right away.

Mrs. Latham: Great Dan, see you at the Banquet, oh and Dan give the young man tenure so this doesn’t happen again. Bye now.

The Third Call as recorded by the Phone system at Caltech Friday Afternoon

Dr. Gablehouser: Hello

Dr. Siebert: Eric, its Dan, we’re going to keep Hoftstader his research is fully funded via the endowment at the donors request. Oh and we’re giving him tenure as well.

Dr. Gablehouser: Then are we’re going to let Cooper go?

Dr. Siebert: No his grant is funding most of his research and the board of trustee’s wouldn’t stand for it. Cut back Kripke and Winkle to bare bones.

Dr. Gablehouser: You know that woman scares the hell out of me, and Kripke is creepy.

Dr. Siebert: Well better you than me talking to them then, see you Monday.

Apartment 4A Saturday afternoon

Amy carefully folded the flag she was putting away. They had just finished the latest episode of “Fun with Flags”. Sheldon seemed distracted he was staring at Leonard desk.

“Sheldon what’s wrong?”

Sheldon looked around at Amy it was the closest she’d ever seen him be to tears.

“I just don’t know what I’m going to do without Leonard. Even though he has slovenly habits, a second rate mind and is always letting his libido rule his life, I’m going to miss him when he’s gone.”

Amy took the opportunity, “Sheldon I could always move into Leonard’s room. Then I would be here to take you places and help out. I could even tell my mom I’m living with my boyfriend”

Sheldon perked up, “That’s a wonderful idea, I’ll start working on the new roommate agreement we’ll just append it to the relationship agreement. There is one thing though, no monkeys.”

Amy smiled, “I can live with that I might even learn to play Klingon Boggle”

She immediately started texting the news to her Bestie, but there was no reply.

Apartment 4B Sunday Morning

Penny woke up by herself when she heard the door click. She looked at the clock it was 9:30 am. I wonder where Leonard went, she started to get up when she heard the door open again and quietly close. She pulled the covers up.

“Leonard is that you?”

“Sorry, I was trying not to wake you.” Leonard walked into the room and took his robe off. He climbed back into bed and she snuggled into his chest.

“Just needed to get something, I made coffee and we had some muffins next door I brought over”

Penny looked at her phone on the nightstand, she had turned the ringer off at the rodeo yesterday and hadn’t turned it back on. She reached for the phone and saw a text from Amy.

She sat straight up, “Oh my god Leonard, Amy is moving in with Sheldon. At least she was going to when you moved out”

Leonard laughed, “That should still work. It means we can move in together, but we’ll need a bigger place”

Penny frowned, she loved this old building, it wouldn’t be the same.

Leonard caught her look, “Hey its okay, I’m thinking we could move into 5A upstairs. I heard Alicia moved in with one of her producers.”

Penny grin widened she leaned up and gave Leonard a long kiss on the lips then went on about 5A,

“That’s going to great, it’s much bigger than my apartment and has a wonderful view, and there’s a balcony.”

Leonard immediately added, “And if Sheldon makes you mad you can jump up and down and play load music”

Her grin got even wider, with just a touch of malice to it.

Leonard started to get up, “Come on let’s have a muffin”, Penny led the way out of the bedroom. On the table were two muffins next to one was a red jewelry case, a ring case.

Penny looked at Leonard and snatched up the case. She opened it and tears sprung to her eyes. The ring was gold, a small diamond set in what looked like a snowflake made of platinum.

Leonard reached over and pulled it out, gently took her hand and slid it on her finger.

The tears were coming now, she was smiling and crying and looking at the ring on her finger.

“But, you only asked me last night and even then it was spontaneous.”

Leonard wrapped her in a hug and said softly. “It’s kind of like the notebook, I wrote the proposal 18 months ago, had the ring made. Just didn’t know it would take so long to give both to you.”

She looked in his eyes, hers red from crying, stepped away and grabbed his hand. She started leading him back toward the bedroom.

“Come on cowboy”

Sheldon in 4A heard a loud “Yee-Haw” that sounded distinctly like Leonard.

Monday morning, multimedia conference room in the Caltech physics building

Dr. Gablehouser looked from Dr. Kripke to Dr. Winkle.

“Sorry” he said “those are the budget cuts. I’ll expect your plans of how to use what’s left of your budget on Thursday.

He stood up from his chair, looked quickly at his phone as if he had gotten an important text and hurried from the conference room.

Leslie Winkle looked over at Kripke, “What the hell was that, why were our budgets cut.”

Kripke just continued to stare at Leslie. She got a wicked look in her eyes. they’d been having sex occasionally for months. “Want to do it on the conference table?”, “wets” Kripke replied.

They jumped up and started tearing at each other’s clothes.

In the AV control room next door the two under-grad students getting ready for the Video conference in the multimedia room next door pressed the record button as they watched monitors. They both set back and started giggling this was going to be great on the net.

Oh you thought I forgot Raj ? (Most Evenings)

Raj sat at his table eating a hamburger from Big Boy. Wondering if any girl would ever love him. Never regretting that he broke the prime guy rule. Never jump in bed with your friends ex-girlfriend unless you friend says go for it. Bad Karma Dude, praise be to Cow

 

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