Elliptical Threads Part III

The Elliptical Threads Project

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Last Revsion Date 07062012

PART III


Chapter 50 Research Fishing

Okay you’ve talked me into writing Part III. This is the beginning of that new set of chapters.  To set the time frame for the readers:  The last day of Part II was Saturday February 8, 2025.  The first day of Part III is September 19, 2025 it’s a pretty special day as you’ll see.  Raj and Sheldon and families are back in Pasadena I’m sure it was and adventure getting there. On this day five years before Lisel Penelope Hoftstader was born in Geneva, Switzerland and yes she carries dual citizenship. 

IWC does not apply

Penny struggled to get out of bed. She rolled on her side and slid her feet toward the edge of the bed.  Then Leonard was there coming out of the bathroom in his robe to help her up.  Penny felt like she was as big as a whale.  She had worked very hard to have a healthy pregnancy for her and the baby.  She had gained exactly 26 pounds.  She had run everyday up until 30 weeks then had started walking the same distance.  But now at 39 weeks just getting up was starting to become an issue.  She took Leonard’s hands and he helped her stand and get her balance.  He went to hug her in a the roundabout way you hug someone who’s huge belly you had to work around.

Penny kissed his cheek and held on for a few moments.  He pulled back and gave her The Smile.  It still worked she suddenly felt happy to be right there.  He got her robe and helped her on with it over her pink long pajamas and pink XL t-shirt she had on.  Her hair was still up in a bun on top of her head.  It was so thick now her hair had always been on the thick side but now it was positively heavy.  She figured she must look like hell.  Leonard noticed the frown, “You look adorable as usual.  A little tired maybe, did the baby kick you a lot last night?”

“I believe we have a soccer player here honey, and she has cleats on.”  She gave the best smile she could muster.  Leonard offered her his hand which she took and led her out to the kitchen peeking in Lisel’s door on the way by.  The birthday girl Penny thought, her first birthday with Lisel, she was still asleep.  They had gotten her two new outfits with shoes, a stuffed penguin from the latest Disney movie and a new paint set.  There was also a baby doll that Leonard didn’t know about with clothes and diapers for her.  That gift was going to be just from her.   The birthday party was set for that afternoon with some of her little friends from Caltech daycare, as well as Raj’s children and the Coopers.  Howard was going to do his magic tricks.  Bernadette who was two to four weeks behind her in her pregnancy would be there as well.

Leonard got her settled on the stool at the kitchen counter and went to get her some juice.  She couldn’t wait to have coffee and tea again.  But they had said to keep the caffeine consumption down.  Penny decided that zero was the best amount.  She had been that way throughout the pregnancy, eating very healthy, exercise, vitamins.  Leonard had told her how much he was impressed by her resolve and will power.  He cut back with her on rich food and had even cut back on the wine and scotch.  She thought he looked a tad thinner around the middle but he’d always been slim.  He brought her some carrot juice and a bran muffin.  “Would you like some fruit as well? I’ve got apples, bananas, and pears.”  Penny shook her head.

He was spoiling her again.  He’d been doing it since he started staying home last week.  She had told him he didn’t have to Chelsea would be there every day and the housekeeper was around most of the morning as well.  He refused saying his place was at home with her.  He would go in for Board of Regents meetings and do the rest teleconferencing via Tish.  She had actually got to see him work and was really impressed.  It wasn’t physics but Leonard dealt with all those really smart temperamental people like they were fine horses and he was the trainer.  A carrot here, a snap of the whip there as needed.  But always gently he would never show angst or anger until the call was over.  Then it was usually just shaking his head and muttered oaths.

The baby kicked, “Oh that was a big one, right in the kidney I think.”  Leonard came over and she took his hand and put it on her side their little girl kicked again.  They’d known the sex since the 21st week’s ultrasound Leonard had said he wanted to know.  He had been very excited about having another girl.  Though Penny had thought a little Leonard would be nice to have around she was happy too.  They had the crib in their room at the moment along with a changing table and dresser full of clothes.  Penny had the sitting area furniture stored and had a play pen and changing table there as well with shelves of diapers and supplies.

Leonard had never really experienced this level of nesting with Liisa.  He had done what all expectant fathers should do when their pregnant wives start to nest.  Take out the credit card, smile happily and get whatever she asks for.  Many men have perished or came close to it by trying to reason with a nesting spouse.  He had given Howard the same advice, having received this advice himself from one Sheldon Cooper.   Though they were sure that Amy had the credit card to start with it was smiling and not trying to make sense of it.  Sheldon had finally fessed up that the advice had come from his mother Mary.

The remodel plans for the new baby’s room were in the works.  A new bedroom would be built using part of their room and bath.  They’d expand their bedroom toward the pool and add a new bath.  They would add their own patio out next to the pool from the new bedroom.  The plan was to stay in the apartment while the work took place next year.  He had added the private entrance from the parking lot to the apartment building.  Fenced in the lot and assigned parking, most of the tenants seemed pleased.  Leonard found it interesting how they praised the management company for the improvements.  The grants and funding for Sheldon and Raj’s new research project had been accepted as he knew they would.  The chance to get a Nobel laureate working on a project at Caltech had been an easy sell.

Leonard wondered if they came up with something then who would he have run the experimental portion of the project.  He knew deep down he wanted to do it himself but had already ruled himself out.  Leslie would have been perfect but she could never work with Sheldon.  He also doubted if he could get her back from CERN.   The truth was if he retired it wouldn’t be in his purview anyway.  Penny’s voice roused him back to the present, “Whatcha thinking about”

He smiled at her, she really did look adorable pregnant.  Those green eyes sparkled at him. Her hair piled on top of her head exposing her lovely neck.  The crooked little smile and her high round cheeks made his heart melt.  “I was thinking just how really beautiful you are and just how lucky I really am.”  Penny’s smile widened, “Don’t tell me then but you should come kiss me now after that nice remark”

He did just that sitting beside her sharing a very long and passionate kiss that was finally interrupted by the baby kicking.  Penny set back slightly and gave him the raised eyebrows and lusty leer.  She then looked startled and placed her hand on the baby.  Leonard’s look went from lustful to concern.  She took his hand and placed it on her tummy. “She has the hiccups again.”

The dogs which had been laying beside the counter suddenly both stirred and looked at the hallway.  Leonard and Penny both swiveled to see Lisel emerge carrying the cat that had undoubtedly been sleeping in her bed with her.  Penny and Leonard both said together, “Happy Birthday Lisel!”

Lisel got a huge grin, “I’m 5 years old today Schrodinger and I’m getting a birthday party.”  She shuffled over to her parents and was enveloped in a double hug from them.  She kissed them both on the lips then crawled up in Leonard’s lap.  Penny looked into her face, “The baby has the hiccups again want to feel?”  Penny lifted up her shirt and Lisel placed her hand on her tummy and laughed.  The dogs were both there wanting attention.  Lisel put the cat on the kitchen counter and got down with them.  They each got pets and hugs.  Einstein gave her a huge lick after which she made him sit.  “You are so fresh Einstein be good like Leaky he’s polite.”  Einstein didn’t seem to care about being admonished but sat there and wagged his tail.

Leonard looked over at his wife, “Wonder where she got fresh?”  Penny smiled back at him, “Chelsea tells Einstein that whenever he licks her face.  Speaking of Chelsea she should be here any minute do you have anything for her today?”  Leonard shook his head, “Just helping out getting ready for the party really.”  He got up and moved to the kitchen for another cup of coffee.  “Lisel you Grandparents are waiting for a video call we should do that shortly.”

Penny looked over at Leonard, “Her Grandmother Beverly is also expecting a call.”  Leonard looked surprised and Penny just gave him a sly grin.  “She called last week when you were on a conference call.  We talked for a while she’d like to come out after the baby is born and visit for a few days.”  Leonard just shook his head, “Always the last to know.  Anything else I should know?”

Leonard was surprised to see her blush, “Leonard my dad and maybe my mom want to come out next week to be here when the baby is born.”

Leonard wasn’t shocked but he was in logistical mode. “I’m not sure where we’ll put them will they stay at a hotel if I book one for them?”

Penny shrugged her shoulders, “If it’s just my dad then he’ll want to stay here on the couch.  If my mom comes too then a hotel might be okay.”

Leonard was staring at the great room as he sat back on the stool beside her.  Penny reached over and touched his arm.  “Okay no more bull what are you thinking about this time?”

Leonard leaned over and kissed her forehead. “I believe we need to see the architect again and talk about a guest room too.”

Penny laughed, “That’s my pedantic over thinking genius husband.”  She leaned over with care and a bit of an effort and kissed him.  She leaned back and sighed, “I’m so tired of being as big as a whale.

Leonard smiled at her this time, “I forgot a couple of Japanese sailors were by earlier with a harpoon asking for you, I told them you were covered under the International Whaling Convention.  But be careful before you go outside you could be considered a research specimen.”

“You are not funny Mr./Dr. Hoftstader, so not funny”  She started giggling and reminded herself to send a check to Green Peace.

Chapter 51 Permutations of Magic

The Great Howdini Mishap

Howard’s magic show was going right on schedule.  Most of his young audience and Sheldon were enthralled some were slightly bored but 4 and 5 year olds get that way.  It was time for his big finish, producing the live dove on the silver platter.  Howard did the trick placing the egg on the platter, covering it with lid that contained the dove.  The egg fell through to the hidden compartment into the base the dove released on to the platter.  The dove’s wings had been clipped so it couldn’t fly away.  He’d borrowed it from a magician friend it was well trained to sit and not move.  Howard removed the lid and there the lovely white dove sat.  What Howard had not counted on was the dirty nosed white kitty also waiting for the tricks finale.

Schrodinger sprang the minute the lid came off, dove and cat both on the floor before Howard or anyone could react.  The cat was very efficient the dove screeching as the cat’s claws started digging in.  The dove would have been lunch if not for the birthday girl yelling at the cat that looked up and let his prey live, though traumatized and damaged.

The words “dammit” escaped Howard’s lips and then all the children started tittering as he bent to retrieve the now dis-shelved dove.  Feathers wafted through the air as he held it up for all to see.  The children applauded and the parents mostly laughed as Howard blushed. Lisel had picked up the cat and was admonishing him regarding the bird.  She walked up to her Uncle Howard.  “Thank you for the wonderful show Uncle Howard.  Schrodinger says he’s very sorry about the dove.” Howard smiled down at Lisel and then at his wife and Penny who were sitting on the couch behind the children.  He was pretty sure they had both laughed so hard they wet themselves.  Amy sat beside them holding little Maria.  Raj sat on the next couch over with his wife Aisha.  Their 3 daughters Isha who was 10, Ishawni who was 8 and Cruppa who was 6 were all watching the show.  Only Isha rolled her eyes at her parents.  Tyler was sitting on Sheldon’s lap who sat up front with children.

Leonard stood behind the couch where Penny was sitting with his hand resting on her shoulder.  Howard gave a really awkward smile and held the dove close to him.  “Now on to cake and ice cream,” Howard pointed toward the long tables set up on the patio and the children all started over.  Chelsea, Amy and Aisha cut the cake and served the children.  Penny with Leonard’s help had gotten off the couch and followed.  The house was beautifully decorated with balloons and streamers.  Penny had helped Lisel pick out the theme, cats and dogs, and was more than happy with the decorations.  Next year she would be able to help more.

Leonard stood beside her, “Can you believe that damn cat.  That would have been fun to explain to the parents when they came back to get their children.”  Penny just looked over at him, “He was just playing honey.  The kids are all fine, the bird survived and best of all Tish was recording the whole thing.  I’ll get to play back that look on Howard face for years to come.”  Leonard chuckled, “I have to agree with you there, Lisel 5th birthday video is going to be a very popular item in our circle of friends. Maybe even the next faculty party.”

Complex Instincts

The Coopers were the last to leave.  Leonard saying goodbye to them both at the door, Sheldon had pulled him aside on the way out.  “Leonard don’t you think Lisel should really be skipping kindergarten?  She already speaks and reads English and German.  Now Amy tells me she learning French.  She can play piano and is starting to write.”  Leonard regarded Sheldon for a moment, “What else did my mother have to say Sheldon?”

Sheldon tried to seem shocked and as usual couldn’t carry it off.  “She just wants what best for Lisel Leonard.”  Leonard just shook his head and Sheldon and gave him a frown, “Sheldon someday you’ll need to talk to my siblings about Beverly.  You are right she is a brilliant scientist.  Unfortunately she is also the most loveless mother you can imagine.  She made no effort to raise us just to study us.  I think I’ll go with my gut on how I want to raise Lisel.  You can let Beverly know.”

Sheldon must have felt he’d done his best for Beverly because he just gave Leonard that little smile of his and turned to leave, “Hey Moonpie where’s my rare Sheldon Cooper hug?”  Penny was quite literally shuffling toward them.  Sheldon smirked but was compliant and actually gave her a soft hug.  Not awkward like he had once hugged people Leonard thought.  He gets that from Tyler.  Tyler doesn’t care about touch and germ phobias he just wants to hug his father.

Penny turned to Leonard, “What did Sheldon have to say, I saw your face you were far from happy.”

Leonard smiled at her, “A not so subtle message from my mother about how we should be putting Lisel in a school for the gifted.”  Penny was quiet then looked at him with a clearly guilty look.  Leonard was at first shocked and then so truly taken aback he took a step backward from Penny.

She started to raise her arms to him, “Honey we talked about it on the phone the other day when she told me she wanted to come out.  I told her we liked the little private kindergarten we found.  But then she asked me why a child who can speak, read and now write in three languages should be going to kindergarten. I had to agree with her on that point though I’m not sure how we even started talking about it.”

Leonard didn’t have to really fight to control his anger.  This was Penny after all and now a pregnant Penny.  He couldn’t stay mad, but he could act mad, “Penny do you know who Friedrich Nietzsche was?”  Penny shook her head no.

“He was a philosopher who talked about morality and values of society.  He actually was rather a misogynistic ass.  But he did have one quote that applies to my mother.”

When you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.”

“She got in your head Penny.  Lisel will let us know if she’s bored and wants something more from her school and then we’ll provide it.  But she needs to play with kids her age not older, not geniuses, just little 5 years olds making mud pies and having tea parties.”

Penny got it, she saw it.  She still didn’t think Beverly was evil as Leonard implied but she was very manipulative in a more subtle way than Penny had known.  She had to wonder how that got by her.  Penny knew it was because Beverly was brilliant and a professionally trained manipulator.

She was on the verge of tears Leonard stepped forward and wrapped her in a hug.  He kissed the side of her head.  “It’s okay baby it’s what my mother does.  Just remember something if you ever find yourself using an argument my mother talked about she put it there.  I’m the one person she will aim you at so beware of her.”

Lisel came up holding her bunny and looking at them, “Whatcha you guys doing?”  Leonard pulled back from Penny with a huge smile, “Just talking about keeping dragons’ away honey.  Hey when you video chat with your grandmother Beverly ask her what she’s up to just like that.”

“Okay Daddy.  What kind of dragons were you trying to keep away?  Eastern dragons are considered good luck.  If it was a western dragon was it the Norse type giant worm or the Celtic winged variety?”

Penny was smiling at Leonard now as he regarded Lisel, “Where’d you learn so much about Dragons Lisel?”

Lisel gave him a huge smile and stepped into Penny’s right side to get a hug, “I Asked Tish. She told me all about dragons, Beowulf, St. George.  Tish also asked me if I wanted to read a story called the Hobbit that had a dragon in it.”

Leonard smiled at both his girls, “So are you going to read the hobbit?”  Lisel shook her head no ”I decided to read Beowulf instead then the Hobbit.”  Leonard looked over at Penny “mud pies, tea parties, stuffed animal concerts, playing house.  She needs that, “

Penny smiled at Leonard and just nodded.  She touched Lisel’s cheek.  “Hey I have one more present for you come on.”

Leonard followed Penny as she went toward her wardrobe in her little shuffle step.  She let the dogs in from their run on the way by and they came tearing into house.  Leonard had them both calmed down before turning to follow the girls into the wardrobe.

Lisel was holding a lovely baby doll dressed in pink.  She rocked the doll very gently swaying from foot to foot.  Leonard came into the room and put his arm around Penny.

They both stared at Lisel who was absorbed with the new addition to her family.

Tennis Ball Trick

Leonard was in the bath shaving as Penny got ready for bed.  She had yellow long pajamas on and a white with yellow trim top.  She turned sideways to the mirror and looked at herself in profile as Leonard came out.

“Leonard I look like a snake that swallowed an egg.”  Leonard laid his head on her shouldered and looked to see what she saw.  “More like a tennis ball” She swatted at his hand as Leonard rubbed her bottom and lower back with his palm.  He knew both were sore.  “Do you need your feet rubbed?”

Penny shook her head.  She was nervous she hadn’t seen her parents in 7 years and then it had been just a short visit to Omaha for a couple of days.  Her parents at the least her father would be there on Monday.  She didn’t want to stress out about it.  She turned to find Leonard staring at her from the bed.

“Worried about you mom and dad coming aren’t you?”

Penny chewed on her lip for moment, “Yep, I’m not even sure why.  I didn’t seek their approval when I was 18 why would I care now.”

Leonard patted the bed and got Penny settled and as comfortable as a 39 week pregnant woman could be.

He cuddled up to her face to face, “You care because they love you and you love them.  That’s why it’ll be fine they already do approve or they wouldn’t be coming.

Penny thought about it then leaned over and gave him a very soft passionate kiss.

“Only a few more weeks and we can see where a kiss like that will lead.”  She gave him her best smile and a little leer.

Leonard reached over and turned off the light.

“Probably lead to you asking me to feed or change Matisse I suspect”

Penny gave him a small shove, “Love you Leonard”

“Love you always Penny”


Chapter 52 Paternal Rendition

Poolside Rumors

Penny sipped her orange juice at the patio table by the pool.  Lisel and Leonard had taken the dogs on their morning walk.  She loved how peaceful it was out here, the glint of morning sunlight on the pool sparkling.  Birds tweeting and chirping as a light breeze rustled the palm trees and shrubs.

A good way to spend a Monday morning if you could she thought, baby Matisse kicked and she groaned.  Penny put her hand on her baby bump, she found that oddly funny.  Bump?  It was much more like my baby basketball than a bump at this point.  Matisse didn’t kick her again.  Penny continued to rub the spot talking softly, “That’s it baby girl just calm down, I’ll see you soon enough.” Penny stretched her legs out but could not quite see her toes.  She had gotten a pedicure last week and still hadn’t seen her toes.  Leonard said they looked fine but what would he know.

Penny rubbed her tummy some more and started talking to the baby inside, “Yep, once you’re out and mommy is up and about it’s a spa day for mommy.  Maybe your father will come along for a couple day, yeah that will be happening.  I guess I’ll take your Aunt Amy then we’ll take Aunt Bernie when she’s had her little boy.”  Penny looked up seeing a airliners contrails going across the sky.

Her dad was coming in later this afternoon into LAX.  She wasn’t sure she was up for the drive from Burbank.  It just took too long for a woman with a bladder the size of a pea.  Leonard would go if she asked, though he would loath leaving her here.  They could send a town car for him and have him met at the arrival gate.  Penny thought her dad might find that a little over the top though.  Leonard would just have to go.  She’d ask Chelsea to stay to placate Leonard that someone was with her and Lisel.  Penny thought what a shame her mom couldn’t come.  She knew when her dad had said he’d try it wouldn’t work.  Mom didn’t like driving into Omaha let alone get on an airplane and come to LA.  She wouldn’t even come when her dad offered to drive out.  In fact she had told Penny on the phone that they would have never made it.  She also told her that he shouldn’t be allowed to drive when he was out there in her words, “He’s a 74 year old maniac”.  Penny had promised to stop on their way to Europe after Christmas so she could see the baby.  It had been good enough for her mom but she was sure to her mother’s friends it would sound like something else. She looked back in the house at the sounds of dogs coming through the front door.

Not Happening

Leonard walked out on the patio to check on Penny.  She already had her arm around Lisel who had run out for a kiss.  “I see you’re where I left you, are you comfortable or just can’t get up?”  He saw a flash of annoyance cross her face then the little grin.  “Probably a little of both, I’ll need to get up soon enough to go to the bathroom again.”  Leonard sat down in the chair next to her.  Lisel was heading back into the house talking to Tish in French.  Leonard took Penny’s hand, “She’s been using Tish to work on her French.”  Penny squeezed his hand, “Oui ma chérie, she’s been teaching her mother also.”  Leonard pulled her hand to his lips and kissed it lightly, “Well now you can call people sweetie in two languages.  Want to know what is in Klingon?”

Penny shook her head, “Not really.  Leonard how long will it take to pick my dad up at the airport?  I want to go with you but I just don’t know if I can ride in the car that long.”

Leonard kept hold of her hand, “Nope you’re not going, neither am I actually. I’m having a Limo and driver that will meet him at the airport and bring him here.”  Penny started to protest and Leonard held up his phone and handed it to her.  “Read the text from your father before you go on.”

That sounds great Leonard I always wanted to ride in a limousine.  If slugger gives you any grief just tell her I said you weren’t leaving for my sake.  Not Happening, No Way, No How!”

Penny looked pleased then put on her peeved faced.  “So were going behind my back to my father.  He still thinks he can tell me what to do and now you do too?”  Leonard watched patiently as she held onto the character or part she was playing.  She finally went back to the smile, “didn’t work huh?”

Leonard leaned over and kissed her, “When you’ve seen the real pissed off Penny it’s hard to get taken in by the fake one.  Now had you played the vicious Penny I’d have worried”

Penny gave him just a moment of the wolfish grin then back to the smile.  “I figured that was a little strong for the morning.”

Leonard leaned over and held her head against his.  “I’m going to get in the shower, want to come I’ll wash all the spots you can’t reach or see anymore, then give you a foot and calf rub after?”

Penny kissed his cheek and let him help her up.  She thought to herself, “Who could pass up an offer like that.  Beside I think he’s right I might not have been able to get up.”

Mr. Wyatt’s Wild Ride

The knock on the door actually startled Leonard the house was so quiet.  Penny was lying down in Lisel’s room for their afternoon nap together.  Lisel was staying home this week in case Penny went into labor so they could take her with them.  The hospital was all set up, a very lovely birthing room for Penny and an attached room for the family with couch, chairs, private bath and double bed.  Wyatt shouldn’t be here for at least 20 more minutes.  Leonard got up and went to the door.  He opened it to see a much older with all grey hair now and rounder by 30 pounds Wyatt. He strode right in offering his hand, “Hello my boy, didn’t expect me so soon?  I gave Nicolai in the limo a $50 tip to get me here in less than 2 hours.  That little Russian really lit up the roads.  Where’s my little slugger?”

Leonard took the offered hand and grinned at his father in law.  “She’s lying down with Lisel they’ve been taking a nap together.”

Wyatt held on to his hand for a moment and pulled him close conspiratorially.  “We should probably keep my little wild ride over here between us.”

“What wild ride would that be daddy?”

Penny was standing a step or two into the great room, “Momma told me to keep an eye on her old coot for her.  What did you do?”

Leonard winked at Wyatt, “He just incentivized the driver to make an expeditious and rapid trip here.”

Penny waddled toward her father now smirking, “Translation from pedantic, he bribed the driver to speed all the way here.”

She held her arms out and her father gently hugged her.  She was happy he showed restraint since she was little he had always lifted her off the floor with his hugs. He stepped back and looked at her, “Look at you all round in the middle.  My skinny little girl with a lump in the middle”, he embraced her again.  When they parted it was Penny’s turn she reached over and patted his tummy.  “So when are you due, looks to be any day now?”

He laughed and let Penny lead him with her waddle to the couches by the TV.  They sat close enough to talk Leonard took a seat on the other couch just watching.  Wyatt and Penny started talking about family and friends, health, marriages, deaths and births.  Leonard followed along as best he could.  He even got confused once when it seemed that someone had married their uncle but they straightened him out.  Leonard decided it wasn’t so much a family tree as it was a bush.  He chuckled at this to himself and totally missed who Billy married and if Billy was a boy or girl.

That was it, “Wyatt can I get you something to drink, beer or wine, something a little stronger or softer.  Wyatt said a beer would be great.  Penny shook her head no so Leonard went to the kitchen to get a beer.  He thought how much older Wyatt looked when it hit him.  Quietly he said, “Tish make sure you keep all the video of Wyatt why he’s here.  Oh and Tish give him access at level 10.”

Tish responded and Leonard returned with the beer and a cup of herbal tea for himself.

Never a Simple Proposition

“So daddy what was Momma’s excuse this time?”

Wyatt shook his head with a grimace, “She had several.  There was the big church bazaar she was chairing.  Then she said she gets air sick, not sure how she would know never having been on a plane.  I offered to take the train but she said it took too long.  I offered to drive and then she got down right insulting.”

Wyatt thought it over for a minute, “Remember when we went to Florida when you were a kid.  She hated that trip, too far from home she said.  It’s the last one she ever went on unless it was just a couple of hours away and we could stay with family.  I gave up trying to figure it out a long time ago.  But I think she just likes to be home so she doesn’t have to worry about things.”

Penny smiled sweetly at her father, “Well at least you tried and we’ll stop in December after Christmas and she can see the baby then.  I think you’re right she just very uncomfortable leaving the farm and the animals.”

Lisel appeared around the corner of the couch and crawled up next to Leonard.  He wrapped the still sleepy five year old up into his lap.

Penny looked over at her dad and smiled again.

“Grandpa you should meet your other granddaughter Lisel”

Wyatt was beaming as Lisel smiled and said “Hallo Grandpapa”.


Chapter 53 Moments of Momentum

Anything can happen last Thursday

Penny sat at the kitchen counter watching everyone busily get ready for their first pot luck dinner.  Since the couples had all moved back to Pasadena they had tried to revive their Thursday routine.  It was inevitable that one couple could not make it each week.  The new plan was the 4th Thursday of each month would be anything can happen Thursday.  This was the first inaugural event.  It would also mean that they would all be having Thanksgiving together for years to come, it being the 4th Thursday each November.

Leonard had made a vegetarian stir fry.  The Koothrappali’s brought a curry chicken dish Aisha made. The Wolowitz’s brought brisket and potatoes.  The Cooper’s brought chocolate and banana cream pies for dessert.  Penny’s dad was sitting next to her on the couch watching everything going on before him.  The last two days with him had been wonderful except for him bringing up past boyfriends and how he’d have had grandkids much earlier if she would have married Leonard all those years ago.  He had really enjoyed spending time with Lisel.  She had showed him her art work and Wyatt had shown Lisel how to draw a horse.  Something he’d been doing since he was a child.  He was watching her now playing with Raj’s children.  Wyatt leaned his head next to Penny, “She’s a genius isn’t she?”  Penny shook her head no, “We call her gifted daddy.  Leonard would tell you that genius is generally a one or at most two dimensional state.  You have that one or two talents that make you a genius.  But being gifted is a much broader intelligence.  Someone who’s gifted can become a genius at almost anything they are passionate about.  Lisel can play the piano already, Leonard’s afraid to give her a violin or cello yet though he plays.  She can read three languages and write in two of them maybe three by now.  But she’s also gentle and has a soft kindness to other children and animals.  Like I said she’s gifted.”

Penny was smiling at Lisel who looked up and smiled back and gave a small wave.  “I wonder what Matisse will be like?”

She was really talking to herself but Wyatt answered.  “I’m sure she’ll be beautiful like you.  I also know you and Leonard will be better parents than your mom and I ever were.”

Penny started to protest but he just shook his head and went on, “It’s okay slugger your mom and I were much younger and could barely make ends meet.  We both barely got through high school.  But between you and Leonard you’ve got everything that’s required to raise great kids.  You’re both mature and patient and you both have put your careers in proper perspective to your family.  Leonard is educated, funny and kind.  He’s going to teach your kids how to learn and find their potential.  You’re going to teach them poise, empathy and compassion.  You both will teach them kindness and love and how to be happy.  I wish someone had taught your mother how to be happy.”

Penny felt a little teary, this was one of the first times she’d recived this high of a compliment from her father.  She just clutched his hand and gave him hug, “Thanks daddy”

Penny stiffened it wasn’t overly painful but it did seem to keep on going.  She let out a small squeal as the contraction eased.  She looked over at Leonard standing with all their friends in the kitchen.  They had all stopped what they were doing and were staring at her.  She looked at Leonard and nodded her head.  Leonard dropped the bowl of salad he was holding and it went clattering to the floor.  If Leonard had noticed he showed no sign but moved quickly without hurry to her side.  “How long did it last?”

Penny was breathing out sharply, “About a minute I’ve never had one like that before or that lasted that long.”  Penny looked up at her guests, “It’s okay everybody I just had a small contraction you should all eat.”

Everyone went back to what they were doing except Sheldon who took his phone out of his pocket and typed something into it.

Trust in the moon

Howard and Bernadette left first right at 8:00PM.  Penny knew Bernie was tired and how that felt they were only a few weeks apart.  Then Raj, Aisha and the girls left they had school in the morning.  That just left the Coopers.  As Amy bent down to give Penny a hug she was hit with another contraction.  This one lasted a whole 90 seconds, she’d had quite a few in the last 3 hours but this was by far the longest and most intense.  Sheldon came over and set next to Penny.  Penny breathed out several times very hard.  “It’s okay Moonpie I’ll be fine.”

Sheldon just gave that odd smile he would give when he was about to correct your grammar.  “Of course you will be Penny it’s time to go to the hospital.  Your contractions are about 8 minutes apart now and intensifying its time.  You could wait for them to get under 5 but statistically 8 is a better estimate from the data I’ve studied.”  Penny looked over at Leonard, “I got to go with Sheldon and the numbers.  I’ll get your bag and Lisel’s.”  He turned and headed for the hallway.  Amy gave her a hug again, “Let me get my boys and little girl home then I’ll be down at the hospital.”  Penny knew there was no point arguing Amy would come either way, “Okay but call Bernadette and tell her not to come until I’ve had it.”

Leonard was there now with her father and Lisel.  He hugged Amy then waved at Sheldon and Tyler as they moved to the garage

Momentum Please

Friday 9/26/2025 8:32AM

Penny had been in labor for over 15 hours now since the first contraction.  She had been in active heavy labor the last 4 hours.  Leonard was at her side holding her hand.  Wyatt was in the next room sleeping with Lisel.  Amy held Penny’s other hand.  Penny had refused an epidural at one point not wanting to slow things down.  Penny’s doctor told her to push when the contraction started.  She was crushing Leonard’s hand but he barely noticed as he watched the baby crown in the mirror.  Penny pushed again and the head was out.  The doctor cleared the baby’s airway and made sure the umbilical cord was clear.  Leonard heard the doctor’s soft voice, “One more gentle push Penny”.  Leonard felt her bear down and the baby was out.

She was covered in a fine white powdery substance.  The doctor then lifted her up and gently placed her in Penny’s arms.  Tears rolled down Leonard cheeks not for the first time tonight.  Amy was in tears also.  Penny was holding the baby gently, smiling now, hair wet with sweat, but her faced relaxed and calm.  Leonard leaned over and kissed her forehead and she reached her one hand up and touched his cheek. “Say hello to your newest daughter.”  Leonard was speechless, he finally gurgled out “Hi”.

The doctor and nurse had clamped the umbilical cord.  The nurse touched Leonard’s arm, “would you like to cut the cord?”  Leonard looked up over at Amy, “You do it Amy I want to be right here for a while.”

11:30 AM

Leonard sat in the rocking chair next to the now sleeping Penny with baby Matisse in his arms.  Lisel and Wyatt had just gone back to the family suite next door.  Amy left to go home shortly after 10:30 promising to be back in the afternoon with Sheldon and her children.  Leonard was very tired having been up some 30 hours at this point.  The nurses checked on him to make sure he wasn’t ready for a nap himself.

Leonard was emotionally a wreck.  He’s had hated seeing Penny in pain it had been wrenching in so many ways.  He’d had to force himself to stay emotionally present and not retreat into a clinical scientific observer mode when Penny had a contraction.   There was even one where as he tried to coach her through it she’d gotten mad and bitten his tummy.  It would make a wonderful tale to tell someday but then it had been startling.  He had redoubled his emotional presence at that point.  He cried when she had hurt so badly that the deep breathing turned into a scream several times.  Who ever thought Penny was too perky to make a horror film had never heard her scream.  He was chuckling to himself now starting to let the stress drain away.  The nurse came in and he handed her Matisse.  The nurse swaddled her and placed her in the Plexiglas sided crib next to Penny’s bed.  Rather than go next door Leonard curled up on the bed like bench next to her bed.  He sat up a couple of times checking on Penny and the baby then at last fell asleep without pillow or blanket.

When Penny woke a short time later she was aware of exactly where she was.  It was very vivid what she had just been through.  She sat up and looked around Matisse was in the crib asleep beside her.  On the other side Leonard was sleeping curled up on what looked like a very uncomfortable bench.  The door to the family section cracked open and Lisel stuck her head in.  Penny scooted over and patted the bed. “Hey honey climb up with Mommy.”  Lisel walked over and got up next to her, Penny snuggled her against her side and kissed the top of her head. “There’s your new sister should we get her and hold her for a while or would you just like to lay with me.”  Lisel wiggled in closer, “Just me for a minute grandpapa wants to come in too.  He sent me to see if you were awake.”  Penny heard the door open and her father came through the door.  “Hi slugger how are you feeling?”

Penny took his hand and held it “I’m doing great daddy.  Did you take some pictures of us to send to mom?”

Wyatt took his phone out, “I got a couple earlier but you look much better now.  Let me hand you the baby and I’ll get all three of you together.” Wyatt gently picked Matisse up and handed her to Penny and Lisel.  They held the baby between them as Wyatt took several pictures.  “That should teach her to fake air sickness”, he quipped as he sent the pictures.  As he did Chelsea came into the room from the hall.  She stood and smiled at the scene.

“Hi boss, Hi Wyatt I see I’ll need to learn a new skill soon, diaper changing and baby burping.”  Chelsea gave Penny her cute smile.  Penny returned it, “I’m glad you’re here would you go next door and get a pillow for Leonard and a blanket.  Poor man looks horribly uncomfortable laying there.  He should have went next door and got in the bed.”

Wyatt shook his head at his daughter, “You couldn’t have got Leonard out of here with a cattle prod.  It’s like I said the other day No way, No how.”  Chelsea returned with a pillow and blanket and with Wyatt’s help got the pillow under his head and blanket over him. Penny noticed that Lisel was now asleep next to her.  She must not have gotten a great deal of sleep either.  Penny liked her right there and she had plenty of room.

She offered Matisse to Chelsea who cradled her and began to rock back and forth.  Penny smiled at her PA and young friend.  “Any press out front Chelsea?”

Chelsea looked back and frowned while nodding, “A couple of dozen of them but the security guys are outside the room now.  They have a list of all your friends and family that will be let in.  Oh a great big young guy named Bret said to say congratulations.”

Penny smiled and told Chelsea to thank Bret then get her brush and make up from her bag and see if they could repair the damage.  She then looked over at where Leonard was sleeping and smiled.  She thought that he was getting good at this.  He had the security folks lined up just like he booked the suite.  That’s’ my brilliant and gifted husband, not genius, gifted.

Visitors need not be patted down

Leonard woke up several hours later to the sound of laughter coming from the family suite.  The door was open and he could see Penny sitting in the rocking chair with the baby.  Her hair was curled and she was talking to at the least Howard and Bernadette.  He wondered where the pillow and blanket had come from.  Leonard got up and stretched, he took a quick look in the mirror.  His hair was a mess and he had a day’s growth of beard on his face.  There were bags under both eyes.  He used his hand to straighten out his hair but had little luck.  He started to walk into the family suite when Penny looked up at him and gave him a smile that stopped him in his tracks.

Her hair and makeup was done and she looked refreshed and glowing.  Most people think pregnant women glow and Penny had but not like now.  He smiled back at her it was like someone had a spot light on her.  Happiness radiated from her.  She spoke before he could, “At last my loving husband emerges.”  Leonard walked over and looked at the baby and kissed her lips.  She must have known he wanted to clean up.  “You’re all scratchy honey, go hop in the shower everybody will be here pretty soon.”  Leonard grabbed his bag and waved to Howard, Bernie and Wyatt.  He saw Lisel reading his tablet by the window.  He stopped by her on his way to the bath. He kissed her head and she looked up and smiled, “Hi daddy I got bored of all the chit chat.  I finished Beowulf and started on the Hobbit, I really love Gandalf and Bilbo.”

Throughout the next several hours all of their friends came by to see the new baby.  Raj and Aisha both cried.  Sheldon held Matisse and declared her fascinating then gave Penny a soft and warm hug.  Amy gave Leonard and Penny both a hug.  Bernie said screw it she was getting the epidural.  Howard was glad because as he put it she has the grip of a wrestler.  Mindy and Sheila came by also and held the baby.  The doctor had offered to let Penny go home if she felt like it but thought one more day here might be a good idea.  Leonard had agreed so they settled in for one more night.  Wyatt had gone back to the house though he said he would watch the dogs and drink Leonard’s scotch for him.  He had wanted to drive but Leonard called him a town car.

They had moved the baby and Penny’s bed into the family suite so they were all together.  In the early evening there was a knock on the suite door.  Leonard answered it the hulking form of Bret just beyond the door was inescapable.  Penny chirped, “Hi Bret, and thank you.” Bret waved back and Leonard turned to Penny, “We have a visitor not on our list, Sam Larson would like a few minutes, she says off the record.”

Penny shrugged so Leonard opened the door and told Bret she could come in.  Moments later Bret opened the door and let her in.  Sam looked the same as she had last Christmas to Leonard.  Penny smiled at Sam, “Her name is Matisse Liisa Hoftstader and you may be the first and last press to see her for a while.”  Sam walked up close and touched the baby lightly on the face.  “I want to thank you guys for seeing me.”

Penny must have been in a maternal mood because she made it easy for her.  “Sam it’s nice to see you I suppose you would like a follow up interview with the Hoftstader family?”

Sam nodded yes, “I would but there’s more.  I want you both to know how happy I am that one of my stories actually brought people back together.  So many times its more about the tragedy it gives me hope that I might help someone else even inadvertently.”

Penny smiled at her, “Call Josh in a few weeks and he’ll set it up, probably be on a weekday night or weekend though.”

Sam touched her hand and turned and gave Leonard a light hug.  She started to leave when she saw Lisel sitting in a chair near the door.  Sam walked up to her, “You must be Lisel Leonard’s daughter.  I’m Sam.”

Lisel looked up from her reading, “I’m Penny’s daughter too, nice to meet you Sam, isn’t that a boy’s name?”  Sam looked over at Penny who gave a very serious head nod.  Sam gave her the same nod back acknowledging that they were still off the record.


Chapter 54 Nocturnal Cycle

Braced for the day

Penny heard the baby crying and started to get up the clock said 5:30AM.  She sighed, almost 3 hours sleep.  Leonard’s hand touched her shoulder, “I’ll bring her to you.”  Penny sat up on the pillow so she could breast feed Matisse.  She certainly was well endowed now she thought.  If I’d have had these puppies back in the day I might have got some really different roles.  Leonard brought the baby to her and she started feeding her.  There was a trickle of morning light coming in from outside but it was still pretty early.  Leonard got back in bed beside her and leaned up on his elbow and watched her smiling.  He had gotten up all weekend with her each time she fed the baby.  He didn’t look tired just kind of serene.

“You’re going in today aren’t you?  You should try to get another hour of sleep.”

“I think I’ll wait until she’s done and change her.  Then you can try to get a few more hours.  I’m going to take Lisel to school at 9:00 then head in.  I’ll get in the shower after Matisse is back down.”

Penny smiled and leaned her head back enjoying her daughter suckling and knowing Leonard was right there.

When Matisse was done Penny held her for a bit while she slept.  Leonard finally took her and went to change her.  Penny slid back down and was instantly back asleep.

Leonard changed the baby and put her back in her crib.  He turned around to say something to Penny.  He smiled when he saw she was back asleep.  Once they could get a supply of breast milk stored he could start bottle feeding the baby and make sure Penny got more rest.  She was bouncing back remarkable well anyway.  It pays to be in shape he thought and she had made sure she was.  Leonard headed for the shower.

Lisel woke up to Tish saying good morning to her.  She put Rascal down and rubbed her eyes with her hands sitting up in bed.  Schrodinger was on the bed next to her pillow watching her.  She reached over and rubbed his head.  “guten morgen kitty”, she mixed the German and English on purpose  kätzchen just not sounding as good as kitty.  “Tish what is kitty in French?”  Tish replied at once, “minou”.  Lisel continued to pet Schrondinger, ” matin de bonnes minou” she added in French.  Lisel looked over at the door to see her father smiling at her holding a coffee cup.

He was dressed for work she saw in grey slacks a white button down shirt and lighter grey sweater.  He walked over to the bed and sat beside her offering his free arm.  She hugged him, “Good Morning Papa, I’m going to school today right?”  Leonard nodded and she smiled up at him.  She’d missed school last week and wanted to see her friends and hold the class bunny and guinea pig.  She had calculated the schedule of who got to hold the animals and she had the bunny today.

“Is mommy and baby Mattie up yet?”

“I think mommy might be waking up why don’t you go check while I get your clothes out and make you breakfast.”  Lisel started getting up and turned toward him for a second, “Mommy got my clothes out last night they’re on the dresser.”  She went down the hall through the open door and walked to the crib standing on tip-toe to see Mattie.  Lisel saw her baby sister wrapped in a pink blanket sleeping on her back.  She just stared and smiled at her when she heard her mother from the bed.  “Hey you come give me some huggies.”  Lisel turned and ran over to her mother’s open arms.  She kissed her on the lips and snuggled in.

Penny held on to Lisel and looked over at the crib.  She thought how life didn’t get a lot better than this when Leonard walked in carrying a tray.  It had fruit and scones from her favorite bakery and a cup of coffee on it. “Breakfast for two of my girls”, Leonard said with a smile placing the tray on the nightstand. “

He walked over and got out a black and grey hounds tooth jacket and started out the door when Penny stopped him.  “What no morning kiss?”

She watched him pull up and give her the smile, “I thought you’d never ask.”  Leonard came close and gave her soft slow kiss.  He then turned and kissed Lisel on the head.  “Eat your breakfast please we leave for school in half an hour.”

Penny could feel her smile widen as he left the room. Look at that it did get better!

Long Protein Chains

Penny sat down on the couch with Matisse in the small bassinet beside her.  The dogs were at her feet.  Penny took one more look at the baby and picked up her laptop off the table.  She started looking at her twitter account.  She commented here and there and tweeted.  “Home with the baby loving my life, love to my fans.”

Penny started looking at the entertainment news.  The announcement of Matisse’s birth had been picked up.  They were using a nice picture of Leonard and her from of all things the faculty mixer in January.  They really were going to need to get some professional photos done.  She started looking through the seedier tabloid blogs.  Apparently she had actually had a surrogate and had just faked the pregnancy and labor.  She opened the link and it was a picture of her and Bernadette leaving a restaurant a couple of weeks ago.  She thought about forwarding it the gang but thought better of it.  Last time Leonard and Howard had probably broken several laws to destroy the last tabloid blog website.  Who knew what would happen if all four of them got fired up.  A real bomb of some kind might be the result or knowing Bernadette an entire publishing company might suddenly get the black plague.

Penny shook her head it was actually rather funny.  That wouldn’t be something that anyone would cover up.  If these people weren’t so vile in their lies it could be satire. That’s what Leonard thought anyway he was always looking for positive reasons why people did things.  Penny looked over and checked on Matisse she was still sleeping.  Just a few more weeks and she would start smiling and react more to the world around her.  Penny could hardly wait.  She put her laptop back on the table and realized she was actually lonely right now.  She kept looking over to Leonard’s spot and listening for Lisel.  Penny wished her dad had not gone back yesterday he would have kept her company.  She had given Chelsea the day off after she had been here both days of the weekend to help out.

She checked the time he should be at his office by now.  She picked up Matisse and cradled her in her arms.  “Tish please start a video call with Leonard at the office”

A few seconds later Leonard was on the screen at first a look of concern on his face.  It softened quickly as he saw the baby and her smiling at him.  “Hey you what’s happening at the Hoftstader residence?”

“Matisse missed her father and wanted to say hi”, She held up the baby so Leonard could see her face.  Penny smiled what she knew was his favorite smile and watched his reaction.  The smile came to his face and then he raised his eyebrows.

“Are you sure she’s the only one that missed me?”

Penny could feel herself blushing, “Her mother may have come up with the idea if that’s what you mean.  How late will you be tonight?”

Leonard fiddled with his laptop a moment, “Later than I would like about 4:00 I’m going to get Lisel about 3:30 then I’ll be home but have a conference call from home about 5:30 with a few donors.  I should be all yours by 6:30 though.

Penny tried not to frown at least he didn’t have a regents meeting or some faculty thing he had to attend.

“I miss you honey I’m sorry I sound like a home bound housewife or something.”

Leonard laughed “Darling you’ll never ever be that, if you want and feel up to it come down for lunch and we’ll show the baby off in the cafeteria.”

Penny felt better just hearing that option.  “Maybe tomorrow sweetie, I’m not sure I’m up to the drive yet.  I just missed you and Lisel today that’s all.  I’ll be fine”

Leonard smiled at her but she could tell he had something serious on his mind as well, “Okay but if you’re not fine call and I’ll be home right away.”

Penny tried to smile hoping it came off well, she held up Matisse, “Say bye to daddy, see you this afternoon honey”. Leonard smiled and said goodbye and the screen went black.

She did feel a little better, well time to feed Matisse soon then I’ll try the breast pump gizmo and see how that works.  She settled back into the couch cradling the baby.  “Tish play some light R&B please”. The music helped at once as she waited for the baby to wake for her feeding.

Trays and Things

Leonard walked up to the table. Raj and Howard were already there.  It seemed like the old days except everyone at the table was a lot older.  He set his tray down and sat down, “Hi Raj, Howard where’s Sheldon?”

Raj shook his head in disgust, “He’s having an argument with the janitor who cleans his office.  They keep moving the items on his desk to dust.  He’ll be here when he realizes the janitor doesn’t speak English.”

Leonard rolled his eyes and looked over at Howard, “What’s up in the word of robotics and computers Howard?  Oh and how’s Bernadette doing?”

Howard looked at Leonard with a ghostly look, “It’s definitely getting weird around casa Wolowitz.  She’s been craving weird food combinations last night it was peanut butter and pizza.  I have to admit that one was actually tasty but she’s getting pretty anxious.  I may take the rest of the week off and stay home with her.  Did you see the thing about her being the surrogate for you and Penny that’s in the tabloids?”

Leonard looked shocked, “What are they saying?”

“They have a picture of her and Penny coming out of lunch from two weeks ago and are saying Penny was never really pregnant.  They say the woman in the photo, Bernie, is the surrogate for your guy’s baby.  We laughed it off this morning but she’s pissed I can tell.”

Leonard was both amused and concerned as Sheldon showed up with his tray.  “Leonard we really must do something about our janitorial folks.  They are moving things around at night its quite disturbing to come in to having my desk rearranged.”

Leonard again rolled his eyes, “Sheldon I can either have them not clean your office or you can put everything inside your desk before you leave at night.  Which will it be?”

Sheldon appeared to consider these options for a moment, “I’ll just put my things away then but it will cut into my morning efficiency.  How is baby Matisse doing?”

Leonard looked over at his old friend.  Sheldon actually had concern on his face.  Leonard was stunned at the change.  Children had taken Sheldon into a whole new set of priorities he had failed to see before.  “She’s wonderful Sheldon, Penny is home with her and she’s doing fine.  How are Tyler and Maria doing?”

Sheldon got that rare smile that he would get when he solved something or at least found the right question that needed asked.  “They are doing very well Leonard thank you for asking.”

Leonard sat back in his chair picking at his plate of barely tolerable food.  It was so wonderful to have the guys here again he thought.  “Raj how is Aisha and the girls adjusting to the states?”

Raj smiled at him, “Remarkably well really.  They do object to me having a hamburger or steak but they love how clean it is.  They also are really enjoying their school.  Aisha is like a new woman without my mother looking over her shoulder every moment.”

Leonard felt for a moment that all was right in the world until Sheldon spoke.

“Leonard I could really use a bigger office farther away from distractions, Raj too.  Then of course we will need more super computer time.  Kripke is refusing us more time.”

Leonard shook his head, going into administrator mode, “I’ll see what can be done Sheldon”

Leonard saw Sheldon’s hand shake an actual tremor.  “Sheldon how long have you had that shake in your hand?”

Sheldon gave him a look of surprise, “I hadn’t noticed that I was shaking.”  Sheldon grab his hand with the other and the tremor stopped.  His face had a slightly confused look.

Howard chimed in, “Any plans for next weekend, they’re having a special swap meet at City College.  Stuart said there will be a bunch of vintage comic book collectors.”

Leonard watched Sheldon he was excited and said he was in, Raj was in too.  Leonard was still staring at Sheldon’s hands.  His left hand wasn’t shaking anymore and he was starting on his lunch.

“Leonard, Leonard are you in?” Howard said insistently.  Leonard shook his head to both decline and clear his thoughts, “I think I’ll pass I want to spend time with Penny and the girls.  You should bring Bernadette over though while you go we’ll keep an eye on her.”

Howard was all smiles, “Great sounds like a plan.”

The rest of lunch was filled with gossip.  Howard knew which new intern was sleeping with which professor.  Sheldon scoffed and talked about how California really should have high speed rail.  Raj told them he was trying to talk Aisha into another child.

Leonard listened adding the occasional comment or thought, but his eyes rarely left Sheldon’s hands.  He didn’t have another tremor but Leonard had seen that kind of tremor before and he was frightened for his friend.

Rabbits Feet

Lisel handed the bunny back to her teacher.  She loved holding the soft little animal.  Lisel had carefully held and examined him very closely.  The long soft ears, fluffy tail and twitching little nose were fascinating.  She examined his feet wondering how anyone could consider them lucky.  Her father was due anytime now she knew.  The digital clock on the wall said it was almost 3:30 and they would all go home soon.

She’d had a great time playing with her friends Krystal and Megan today.  Megan was very smart she already knew her letters, numbers and colors.  They both helped Krystal learn hers and she almost had them all down.  Art had been fun today.  They had gotten to use paint and Lisel had spent a lot of time making new colors from the different paints.  She at one point had six different colors of red she used in her painting.  With a touch of green for grass and blue for the sky she had tried to recreate the brick building her grandparents lived in.  She knew it was pretty close.

She looked up to see her father and several other parents come through the door and start signing them out.  Lisel got her small backpack with Rascal in it and lined up with the other children to leave.  Her father leaned over picked her up and started to carry her out. “How was school today little Lisel?”

“I had fun papa.  I got to hold the bunny and paint.  I played with my friends and helped the teacher’s aide Miss Morton with her homework.”

“What kind of homework was she doing Lisel?”

“Oh she had French homework from her school and I helped with some of the words.”

Her father laughed and put her down and opened the rear car door for her to get in.  Lisel got in and her father helped put her seat belt on.  “What high school does Miss Morton go to Lisel?”

“Lisel thought about it, she’d seen her notebook.  Somewhere called uckla”

Leonard looked over at her and kissed her forehead, he was grinning, “Do you mean UCLA?”

Lisel shook her head yes, “Oh yes that was it.”

Midnight Musing

Penny had gone to bed early at 9:30 with Matisse. She woke to the baby crying at 12:30 and started to get up.  She realized that Leonard hadn’t been to bed yet.  She picked up the baby from the crib cradling her for a moment and she quieted.  Penny put her on the changing table and proceeded to change a wet diaper.  She pressed Matisse to her breast and started feeding her and went in search of Leonard.

She found him sitting in his spot having a whiskey staring at the fire.  Penny sat beside him as he looked up. “Sorry Honey I didn’t hear her I should have told Tish to put the monitor on out here.”

Penny could see worry and anxiety in his face.  She cuddled up with his arm around her.  “What’s up sweetie?”

Leonard stared back at the fire, “I’m not sure I should tell you or anyone at this point.  If I do tell you though you’ll have to really keep it to yourself.  At least until I decide what to do.  You have a problem with that sometimes especially with our friends.”

Penny reached over put her hand softly on his cheek and turned his face toward her.  She looked in his eyes smiling.  “I’ve learned how to keep my mouth shut the hard way Leonard, spill it”

Leonard didn’t hesitate, “I think there may be something wrong with Sheldon honey.  Something very bad, you know how he is I need to figure out the best way to handle it.”

Penny was shocked, tears started to come to her eyes. “What’s wrong with Sheldon?”

Leonard explained the tremor today and how he’d used his other hand to control it.

Penny listened and she got to the same place as Leonard, “He might have Parkinson’s.”

Leonard just nodded yes and took another drink of his whiskey.


Chapter 55 Limited Modality

Non Logical Equations

Sheldon stared at his electronic white board knowing Raj was looking at the same thing in his office.  The two boards were slaved together via high speed networking.  There was another large LCD monitor showing Raj staring at his board so they could converse.  Neither had actually said anything in over 20 minutes but did make minute adjustments to the board.

Leonard walked into Sheldon’s office unacknowledged by either of them.  Finally Sheldon looked over at him. “Isn’t this technology wonderful what did we ever do without it.”  Leonard just shook his head, “We stood in the same room and looked at a regular white board of course.”  Leonard looked over at the Raj display, “Hey Raj can you come in here for a minute?”

Raj came in through a side door from his adjoining office.  Leonard walked to the white board, “Obviously Jean Luke Picard against the Borg was good but the Wrath of Kahn is still the classic.”  He took the red marker and circled that title. “How long have you two been at this?”

Raj blushed, “We’re just checking out the equipment really, less than an hour I would think.”

Leonard smiled and shook his head again.  He understood down time for theorists it was as important as in your head time.  It could trigger bigger things.  “I got you 10 more hours a week of super computer time.  Try not to use it playing 3 dimensional chess again and Kripke won’t have a fit.”

Leonard could have sent this news in an email, he was really there to observe Sheldon for a minute and talk to Raj in private.  “Raj I have some paper work I need you to sign in my office it certainly appears you have time.”

Raj nodded his head and followed Leonard out.

Once inside his office Leonard pointed Raj to a seat at the conference table and closed the door.  He took a chair across from him and looked at the Indian astrophysicist.

“Raj did you notice Sheldon’s hand shaking at lunch yesterday?”

“Once you pointed it out, why do you ask?”

“I don’t know yet but it was odd, I lived with Sheldon for a lot of years.  He had lots of little tics and odd mannerisms especially when he was upset or hiding something but he never shook like that.  I’m worried that tremor yesterday may be the sign of something larger”

Raj got it immediately, “Parkinson’s?”

Leonard nodded his head, “You know how he gets about medical issues.  It may have been nothing but you spend the most time with him now.  I want you to observe him closely, look for another tremor.  See if he rolls his thumb and index finger together without knowing it.  Any balance issues or freezing up when he moves. Look for all the classic signs I’ll send you an email with a link to the Mayo Clinic site.”

Raj sat very still.  Leonard could see he was getting emotional. “Hey it may be nothing and we keep this between us.  Nobody else unless we see something then we’ll go to Amy.”

Raj nodded, “Cow I hope it’s not Parkinson’s, or early onset dementia.  I’ll keep a close watch on him.”

“Well not too close when you’re together just be observant, it could be a lot of things at this point.”

Leonard held his hand out and Raj shook it.

Raj got up and headed for the door, “I’ll look for your email.”

Leonard sat back down as Raj closed the door and stared at the group photo of them all on the far wall.  He did something he rarely did.  He slammed his fist on the table in frustration.  If it was anybody else but Sheldon he’d just have a talk with them.  Advise them to see their physician and get it checked out.

Mrs. Perry stuck here head in the door, “Is everything alright Dr. Hoftstader?”

Leonard recovered quickly, “I just slipped and hit the table Phyllis.  Could you please bring me a cup of tea?”

A hot beverage was definitely called for.

Blankets and Bottles

Penny sat on the couch by the fireplace with Matisse in the small slowly swinging bassinette on coffee table in front of her.  Her breasts finally didn’t feel swollen after feeding the baby then using the breast pump.  She had 3 bottles of breast milk in the refrigerator and felt pretty happy about that.

Chelsea had just left to do her errands for the day and for the first time today she was alone with the baby.  She smiled over at her and felt that warm glow she had always felt around Leonard and Lisel.  That warm connection you have to someone that filled you with warmth and contentment.  She was a mommy at heart she now knew.  She probably always had been.  The feeling that you had to care for the people around you ran very deep.  She thought of Sheldon and choked up.  My Moonpie can’t be sick, at least not with anything Soft Kitty couldn’t fix.  The baby moved and distracted her.  She picked Matisse up and held her making small cooing noises and rocking her back and forth.  Her phone on the table buzzed with a text.  It was from Leonard and only said two words, “Coming Home”.

Succor

Penny knew Leonard was home when the dogs jumped up and rocketed toward the utility room to the garage.  Penny got up and met him in the kitchen with the baby in her arms.  She could tell he was upset.  His body language showed anxiety and pain.  Penny held her free hand out to him.

He took it and she pulled him into a hug kissing his neck as she held the baby beside them.  He just held her for what seemed like minutes.  He finally pulled back and gave her a weak smile.  “That’s what I needed that’s why I came home.”

What happened, did Sheldon have another tremor?”

“No.”

Leonard still had hold of her hand and led her to the kitchen counter where they both sat down.  He touched the baby’s head and smiled softly at her.  “I’ve got Raj keeping an eye on him looking for any symptoms.  Then I made a phone call to Mary and asked her if anyone else in the family has ever had Parkinson’s.  She broke down on the phone and you know how tough a lady she is.  Her brother had it and a cousin on her side.  It doesn’t change the numbers much 4 to 6 percent more of a chance of getting it.  It’s still way under a 10 percent that it’s Parkinson’s.  After talking to and calming down Mary I told her I’d watch him and let her know.  I was just too emotional to stay there I needed you.  I needed to come home and be with you for a while.

Penny felt tears spring to her eyes.  She should already know these things but Leonard never put it in those terms.  She was his safe harbor as well as he was hers.  For about the thousandth time she was thankful for having this man back in her life.  Oh my, she thought Leonard and the girls are my life now.  She leaned over and hugged Leonard harder with her free hand.  She pulled back and kissed him sweetly finishing by rubbing her nose to his.  Leonard looked in her face he seemed more relaxed now.  “Thank You Leonard, thank you so much.”

Tears did start to fall this time as she gave him another long hug.  When she let him go she leaned back switched the baby to her left arm.  Leonard had a quizzical look on his face not exactly sure what just happened.  Penny wiped the tears from her cheeks and got up to put the baby in the day crib next to the changing table and play pen.  She was smiling now and laughing at the look on his face.  “I’m sorry honey you being sad and worried didn’t make me happy, but being needed by you in that way made some part of me just light up.  I’ve never felt that way with anybody before.  You know me I was always the den mother to you and the gang but not like this.”  She made sure the blanket was nowhere near the babies face or hands and came back and pulled Leonard by the arm over to the TV couches.  She had him sit down and then set next to him and put both arms around his neck and kissed him again.

“I’m the one you come to when you’re upset again, just like all the years ago and I love that.  All these years a man that was too needy was always a turn off for me.  Now I know why.  You’re the only man I’ve ever wanted to rely on me for his emotional needs.”  Tears were in Penny’s eyes again she laughed, “And you thought the hormone issues ended with giving birth.”

Leonard held her close again lightly kissing her ear and neck.  His mind was suddenly free of the problems he couldn’t solve and the frustration eased out of him.  Leonard thought about what she had just said.  Penny had never had that someone again in her life after him that was her soul mate.  It had taken him years to find Liisa and then was lost without her for so long even before she passed away.

“I do know how hard it was all those years not having you there Penny.  There were so many times when I needed my best friend and you weren’t there.  In the end it was Horst and Lena that filled the void, then Liisa.  But when Liisa was gone the void was bigger than ever.  Horst and Lena couldn’t really help there.  They had their own grief to deal with.”

Penny shifted into her normal spot her head on his arm and snuggling very close.

“So once I got off the phone with Mary today I tried to put my clinical scientific observer mode back on and keep my emotions in check.  I didn’t work I just kept going back to what ifs and over thinking it.  I knew I needed you and to be home to put it all back into some kind of perspective and you certainly did.”

Penny turned her head toward him, “How?  How did I put it in perspective?”

Leonard squeezed her to him for a moment.  “By being here and reminding me no matter what that I have you, that the problems I face in life I don’t face alone.  That is a comfort and eased the burden.”

Penny thought about those words.  She had lived 12 years without her best friend to go to with her problems.  She had substituted her therapist and staff she had befriended for that role in her life.  She also realized that she really hadn’t taken a lot of chances on people or got too emotionally attached to anyone but her animals in that time.  Now she was about as emotionally attached to three people as anyone could be.  She knew why Leonard thought through to a future when he might not be there.  She thought about going through this all with him but maybe some other time.  She leaned up and kissed his cheek, “Right back at you honey, together against the world.”

Fearful Momentum.

Sheldon sat at his desk his stomach was bothering him after lunch.  He took one of the anti-nausea pills from his desk.  The calculation he was working on in his essay book was not fitting together.  He worked it again from several different perspectives.  The quantum part of the equation was sufficient but the calculus was off.  He stared at the pad that sat between his hands when he noticed his left hand start to shake.

Sheldon just watched the tremor with wonder and waited for it to subside.  It didn’t until he finally moved his right hand over and stopped it.  What had caused that, he was stunned for a moment and then fear clutched at him.  He immediately moved to his computer and started doing internet searches.  He had his answer in a few moments time.  Sheldon sat back in his chair and saw it was time to go down and meet Amy for his ride home.  He carefully packed his shoulder bag and went down stairs wanting to see his wife, Tyler and Maria very badly.

Nebraska Holdem

Penny was back into her normal pajamas.  Tonight is was the soft short pink bottoms and a matching camisole top.  Though she certainly filled the top out rather fully, Leonard didn’t seem to mind.  Sex was still out for 4 or 5 more weeks so she’d have to satisfy him some other way.  She got a slightly wicked look on her face and walked back over to the bedroom.  Leonard was just getting Matisse down.  He had on his black robe and was ready for bed also.

Penny closed the bedroom door after patting the dogs on the head.  “Tish are we all locked up everyone where they should be?”

“Yes Penny. Will you being going to sleep soon?”

She looked over at Leonard who nodded at her.  “Yes Tish we are thank you”

“Goodnight Leonard and Penny, I’m preparing the house for the overnight now.”

Penny knew Tish was turning off the lights, heat, air, and water heaters in the different sections of the house.  She also knew Tish had magnetically locked all the outside doors and that the house inside and out was under her watchful eye.  It was very comforting to have you house protect you and itself.

Penny got into bed and slid under the covers and waited for Leonard.  He got in and turned off the bedside light.  Penny slid into her usual spot on his left arm and shoulder.  She got up on her arm and started to kiss him passionately.  His right hand caressed her lower back and bottom.  She took his hand with hers and moved it under the camisole to her breasts.  “Massage these for me honey they pretty swollen right now.”  Leonard seemed a little hesitant but as her hand slide down his chest to his boxers he got the idea she saw.

She kissed him again now hovering half over him, “You’ve heard of Texas Holdem honey let me teach you how we play Nebraska Holdem.


Chapter 56 Compazine Conundrum

Canine Collaboration

Saturday October 6th 2025

Einstein and Leaky sat very patiently watching Lisel as she held and fed the baby a bottle.  Her mother Penny sitting right beside her coaching and smiling.  Lisel father was standing on the other side of the couch watching with a large grin on his face.  The bottle of breast milk was almost empty and Lisel mother reached over and adjusted how she was holding the baby very gently.

“Try to keep head and neck a little bit higher honey.

Penny was dressed in her black tights, pink running shorts, a black t-shirt and hat.  Lisel knew her mother was going to take the dogs on a run this morning leaving her, daddy and baby Mattie at home.  Her mother looked over at her father.  “So what are the guys going to be doing while Bernadette stays over here?”

Her father looked over and smiled, “They are going to the comic swap meet at City College.  Stuart will be there and a lot of comic book collectors.  I’m sure they’ll all come home with treasures.”

Her mother frowned back, “And why is the king of the nerds not going?”

He shook his head smirking, “Because he has his rare comic book collection behind glass in the bedroom.  There’s the 1938 Action Comics Superman #1, The Amazing Spider man #1 a double comic from 1963, Flash Comics #1 from 1948, and Sensations Comic #1 Wonder Woman’s first cover 1942.  Hard to top those that’s why I have them.  Oh and never sell them to Stuart or anybody, take them to an auction house and have them auctioned.”

The baby had finished the bottle.  Her mother put a soft blanket on Lisel’s left shoulder and showed her how to burp the baby by rubbing her back gently.   She then looked back over to Lisel’s father.

“I understand the first three but I never could see the Wonder Woman comic.  She was never one of your favorites I would think Batman would have been more your style?”

Her father’s face had a much larger smile, Lisel thought of it as his happy face, “New Year’s Eve.”

Her mother’s face looked a touch distraught for a moment, “I thought I hurt you that night.”

The smile was still on his face as he nodded his head, “You did but it was the night I realized you still cared for me.  It kind of stayed with me so when I put that together it was actually the first one I chose.”

She smiled back sweetly, “So how much are they all worth?”

Her daddy was blushing and didn’t answer.

Mommy walked over to him put her arms around his neck, “What are you hiding?”

He still was blushing, “It’s the Superman that’s worth all the money, about 2 million.  I got it for a steal at 1.1.”

Her mother’s mouth was hanging open she closed it and kissed him.  She then turned and walked toward the door whistling for the dogs.  She got their leashes and looked back at daddy.

“She’s ready to go down for a while but change her first I’ll be back in 30 minutes or so.  A steal?”

She was shaking her head as she let the dogs out the door.

Minke Whale

Leonard was sitting in his spot on the couch with Matisse beside him.  He had her swaddled and between to couch pillows so he could see her.  Lisel was on the opposite end of the couch with the cat in her lap reading on his pad.  Penny had returned from her run with the dogs and headed for the shower.   “What are you reading Lisel?”

She looked at him with a lovely toothy grin.  “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Tish recommended it after the Hobbit.  Did you know there is a whole bunch of Harry Potter books?”

Leonard smiled, “I’ve heard that and I heard they made the books into movies also.”

Tish interrupted this conversation, “Leonard, Howard, Bernadette and Raj are coming to the door.”

Leonard stood, “Lisel sweetie can you keep an eye on the baby for a minute why I let Aunt Bernie in?”

Lisel put the tablet down and moved over closer to the baby. “Okay daddy”.

Leonard moved to the door to let their friends in.  Bernie led the way, “Hi Leonard where’s my little Lisel and Matisse?”

“Over here Aunt Bernie we’re on the couch together.”

Bernadette gave Leonard a quick hug and headed for the couch.  Howard and Raj came in together.  Leonard reached for the purse Raj was carrying.  “Hey dude that’s my man bag, Howard has Bernadette’s purse.”

Leonard laughed, “Sorry but yours looked the more feminine of the two.”  Leonard accepted the purse from Howard and put it on the kitchen counter.  He loved jerking Raj’s chain occasionally just like the old days.

Howard walked over to see the baby with his wife.  Leonard talked in a low voice to Raj.  “It’s been all week have you seen him have another tremor or any other symptoms?”

Raj just shook his head, “He’s been spending a lot of time doing computer models this week.   That and working out some different formulaic techniques to do the math.”

“Well you’ll get to see him at the swap meet just keep it up.”

Raj looked really upbeat, “You should really come with dude, it’s going to be the happening place today.”

Howard was walking back up as Raj said this, “He’s right you really should come leave the house work here to the women folks.”

Leonard shook his head and smirked.   He loved Howard every chauvinistic misogynistic short inches of him.  He just had no filter sometimes oh hell most of the time. Leonard handed a piece of paper to Howard.  “If you can find this for me buy it, it’s a surprise for Penny so don’t tell Bernie.”

Howard looked at the paper and raised an eyebrow, “Are you sure about this it’s going to run as high as 700 or 800?”

Leonard nodded, “I’ll cover it.”

Howard waved to Bernadette on the couch and the guys were out the door.

Penny came out a few minutes later dressed in black jeans and light blue and pink shirt.  “Hi sweetie stay put I’ll come give you a hug. “

Penny came over and gave Bernadette a hug then turned to Lisel.  I’ll take the baby for a while honey you play.  Lisel smiled and picked up the pad to go back to reading.  Penny cradled the baby and looked over at her friend.

“You look wonderful Penny, have you lost all the weight back it’s only been 8 days.”

Penny laughed, “No I’m up about 9 pounds and 7 of those are boobs.  I’ll take it all off eventually got to stay in shape for my man.”  She gave Leonard a raised eyebrow pursed lip adolescent leer.”  Leonard just rolled his eyes and moved toward the kitchen.

Penny laughed and touched her friend’s hand.  How are you doing?  Your certainly look very healthy but uncomfortable.  The last week was the worst, I just wanted to have the baby and see my feet again.”

Bernadette moved around and tried to stretch her back.  “Your right about that I’m not even sure I have knees down there any more, I just assume something bends when I walk.  Is Amy coming over?”

Penny nodded, “She’s bringing the kids after she drops Sheldon off at their comic book meet“

Leonard walked up and sat on the arm of the couch behind Penny. She looked over at him, “Any word from Raj?”

Leonard shook his head, “I’m thinking about talking to Amy anyway when she’s here today.”

Bernadette looked confused.  Leonard looked at her, “We think that Sheldon might have something wrong with him.  He’s getting hand tremors that he can’t control, we’re worried its Parkinson’s.”

Bernadette was clearly shocked.  Leonard filled her in on Raj keeping an eye on him this week with nothing new to report and his conversation with Sheldon’s mother.

Remarkable Clarity

Amy walked up to the front door carrying her 6 month old little girl Maria with Tyler her 2 year old son holding her hand and walking slowly beside her.  She was just getting to the door when Leonard opened it.  “Hi Leonard, we need to get a Tish to let us know who’s coming to the door.”

Amy walked in and saw her bestie and Bernadette sitting on the couch.  “Hi Bestie, Hi Bernadette.”

Lisel came running up and took Tyler’s hand, “Can I play with Tyler Aunt Amy?”

Amy smiled down at Lisel, “Sure take him to your room and have fun, does that sound good Tyler”

Tyler was all smiles as Lisel led him toward her room.

Amy sat down with Maria in her lap when she noticed everyone was staring at her.

“What’s up?  Is this an intervention? What have I become addicted to?”

Penny smiled at her friend, “No sweetie we’re worried about Sheldon.”

Amy looked a Leonard, “What about Sheldon?”

Leonard had a very serious look on his face.  “Amy have you ever seen Sheldon have a tremor in his hands, freeze up or lose his balance.”

Amy’s neurobiologist mind kicked in very quickly, “Do think Sheldon might have Parkinson’s or another neurological disorder.  What symptoms have you seen, wait a minute.  You saw him have a hand tremor?”

Leonard just nodded.  Amy smiled at him, “Sheldon doesn’t have Parkinson’s Leonard and I’ll bet he hasn’t had any symptoms since Wednesday.  That’s when he quit taking his Compazine he had a tremor in his office and looked it up for side effects.”

Leonard was relieved he reached over and touched Penny’s hand then looked back at Amy.

“Why is Sheldon taking Compazine that’s normally for nausea Liisa took it when she was getting Chemo?”

Amy shook her head, “That’s actual the second use of Compazine, the first usage is as an anti-anxiety and anti-psychosis medication.  One of the side effects over time is hand tremors.  When Sheldon had his break the doctor with my agreement prescribed it for him to take twice a day for nausea.”

Leonard saw it now, “By telling him it was for nausea he wouldn’t know you were treating him for anxiety or was it psychosis?”

Amy frowned, “Leonard I’m still not sure what the break was but he’s off the medication now so we’ll see if he has any new symptoms.  I’m not sure we could get him to take one of the other benzodiazepine type drugs.  They have no other usage”

Leonard thought about it for a few moments, “Why don’t we just talk to him about trying one of the other ones.  I’ll talk to him with you, even better we’ll get his mother to talk to him with us.  Should we wait and see how he reacts to not being on the medication?“

“I already have he’s been off Compazine since Tuesday and I haven’t seen any changes in his mood or stress level.  In fact he seems a little happier.   I think we should just watch and wait.”

Leonard nodded and excused himself and went toward the bedroom.

Penny leaned over and gave Amy a hug, “I’m so relieved. Leonard and I have been so worried.  I need to go check on him”

Bernadette was holding Matisse when she headed back to find where Leonard had got to.  She found him sitting out by the pool having exited the patio door from the bedroom.

“Hey Honey are you okay?”

Leonard looked up at her and smiled, “I certainly could have handled this whole thing better.  I should have dealt with this like I would any other faculty.  Instead I worried you, Raj, Mary and myself half to death.  Not my best moment I’m afraid.”

Penny’s sat next to him and wrapped her arm around him.

“Sheldon’s not just any other faculty.  He’s one of our dearest and oldest friends and he has special needs.  I don’t see how you could have done this any differently you’re just being hard on yourself.   I bet Sheldon has some Compazine left over should I get you some?”

She smiled at him kind of sideways.  She could tell he had decided to let her cheer him up.  Penny hoped he wouldn’t over think this too much.

“Come on Dr. Hoftstader I think we should open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate and you should really text Raj to tell him everything is okay.”

They moved back into the house and though Bernadette could not have any Champagne she did have a nice carrot juice.

The Acquisition

The guys got back to Leonard and Penney’s a little after 5:00.  Leonard had steaks going for everyone on the grill with a few chicken breasts for Raj’s wife who would be there with their three girls soon.

Howard came in and Leonard looked over expectantly.  Howard nodded and handed him a flat paper bag.  “How much?”

Howard shook his head, “It’s between good and very good, $600”

Leonard knew that was a little high but within reason he supposed.

Penny came in and saw the bag, “I see you got something from the swap meet after all.”

Leonard shook his head, “Not me, you.  It’s for you, the first comic in you collection of classic comics.”

Penny slid the comic book out of the bag.  It was sealed in a plastic sleeve, The Justice League of America #1 with Wonder Woman sitting in center seat of the table.  “Ah Honey just like how we dressed to win the contest.  This is so sweet can I take it out and read it?”

Leonard looked around to make sure the guys weren’t too close. “Sure but wait for the guys to go home or they’ll have a fit”

Penny leaned over and kissed him.  He smiled back at her, “Ah my little Nerdette”


Chapter 57 Maternal Madness

Mini Vaca

The gang and their families had all left after dinner and after the wonderful comic discoveries were thoroughly examined and discussed. Amusement was found in Raj and Sheldon’s considerable amount of envy for Penny’s rare Justice League comic.  Lisel was tucked in and sleeping next to Schrodinger her now constant companion.  Baby Matisse was in her crib with Tish monitoring her.  She’s gained almost 2 pounds in 2 weeks.

Penny’s was on the couch before the TV waiting for Leonard to bring the drinks.  He’d gotten herbal tea for her and single malt scotch for himself.  The news was on but down in the lower left corner was the video feed from the crib cam.  Penny was ignoring the news and watching the baby sleep as Leonard sat down.  He handed her the tea and took a large sip of his scotch and set it on the coffee table.  She set facing him her legs curled up under her, knees almost touching Leonard’s thigh.  He looked comfortable in black silk sweats and a black Caltech t-shirt.  She had on her short white pajama bottoms with the little fish and a Nebraska t-shirt that was loose fitting.  He looked over at her and smiled.

“Hey Tuesday let’s pack up the kids and head down to San Diego for the rest of the week.  We could go to the zoo and Sea World then hang out and enjoy the city?”

Penny got that crooked little smile on her face he liked so much.  He knew he was a goner she’d seen right through it.

“So your mother must be coming in on Tuesday afternoon huh?”

“Did she blind copy you on the email?”

Penny started giggling, “No Sheldon told me.  I’ve been waiting for you to tell me.”

Penny put her tea on the coffee table and snuggled into his shoulder and kissed his cheek.  “We’ll handle Beverly together honey.  Just like Paris.  She’s only staying until Friday anyway then she’s off to a conference.”

“I still say San Diego is really nice this time of year.”

Penny shook her head and giggled again, “Like a dog with a bone.  I say we get her boozed up and take her to Disneyland.”

Leonard was not amused but he did add, “At least I can work next week you get to stay home with her every day.”

Penny sat back from him and gave him the Nebraska Penny look.  “Oh Dr. Hoftstader if you can take time to go to San Diego you can take a couple of days to spend with your mother.  Besides do you really want Beverly to have unhindered access to me for the whole time?”

Leonard thought that over, “Maybe Sheldon does have some Compazine left okay I’ll work from home Wednesday and Thursday. She’ll want to leave from the hotel on Friday anyway. “

Penny shook her head, “When I talked to her she wanted to stay here she said she’d sleep with Lisel or on the couch.  So we get her for the whole time, my Disneyland plan looking better yet?”

”You’re just full of good news aren’t you is my prostate exam booked next week also.  Might as well get the full treatment and go for the colonoscopy as well.”

Leonard wished there was a wall close by to pound his head on.  He’s had the upper hand in Paris.  He was in charge of that situation.  There was a hotel room to escape to.  But he was going to have unlimited exposure to Beverly for 3 days.  Apprehensive was not a big enough word for it.  What was that acronym they had in the 1980’s when everybody had enough bombs to blow up the world.  Oh yeah MAD Mutual Assured Destruction

Penny was rubbing her hand up and down his chest staring back at the crib cam again.

“Don’t try to over think it honey, she’s here to see that little angel and Lisel.  You’ll get less attention than you think.”

Yeah Lisel, Leonard thought, that’s what I’m worried about.

Magical Mornings

Penny stirred out of sleep feeling around with her right hand for Leonard.  He’s escaped again she thought.  She sat up and looked over and saw the crib was empty.  How is he doing that?  It had been two nights in a row now that Leonard had got up and fed Matisse without her waking up.  She was going to have to use the breast pump for some relief.  She suddenly knew.  “Tish have you been waking up Leonard on a schedule to feed the baby?”

“Yes Penny just as he asked, every 3 hours.”

She swung her feet out of bed and stretched smiling.  Her robe was on the chair beside the bed there was a note on top.  “Breakfast is out by the pool, coffee is hot, it’s a magical Sunday morning.”

Penny put her robe on and opened the bedroom door.  The dogs were waiting on the other side.  She gave them each a warm pat and ruffled their ears before heading toward Lisel’s room.  Her bed was empty too.  Penny headed into the great room and immediately noticed the stroller was missing he must have taken them both for a walk.  Penny ventured into the kitchen and got herself a cup of coffee before heading to the patio.  On the table was a plate with a poppy seed muffin and an apple, the slicer next to it.  She sat at the table and looked at the pool the dogs were sniffing around the edge waiting.  “Go swim.”

The dogs bounded into the water to play while she started to eat.

Leonard came home with the baby and Lisel as she sliced the apple.  He came out on the patio holding the baby and sat down in the chair beside her.

“Did you sleep well?”

She handed him an apple slice and narrowed her eyes at him. “I did the last two nights in a row mister but how about you?  Every three hours, that must be a tough schedule.”

Leonard blushed, “You needed some rest and I won’t do it during the week I swear.”

Penny smiled at him sarcastically, “It’s very thoughtful of you Leonard and slightly devious.  But you always were the unpredictable Hoftstader.”

Leonard’s blush grew redder, he handed Matisse to Penny.  She was awake and trying to look around.  Penny lifted her t-shirt and started to feed her.  Leonard just sat back and smiled at them both.  “Do we have any plans for today?”

Penny shook her head no without looking up as she watched the baby.

“I thought Lisel might like to see the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena then go by the Apartment afterward for a late lunch.  We could go down to old town for the evening. I hear they’ve got a street fair today.”

Penny looked up at him.  She’d never been to the museum it was European and Asian art she recalled.  “I’ll make you a deal you take me and the baby to the apartment and we’ll stay there why you take Lisel to the museum.  Then we’ll go from there down to old town and check it out.”

Leonard started to get up “I’d better get in the shower then.”

Penny reached over and grasped his arm, “Let me get done here and I’ll put her in the crib and join you.”

Leonard sat back down.

She gave him a small leer, only 4 more weeks and then they could do more but for now it would be enough.  Beside there’s lots of spots he can’t reach like I can.

Bernie and Gerry’s

Penny led the way into the house from the garage.  The baby was cradled in one arm.  Right behind her was Leonard carrying a sleeping Lisel against his shoulder.  Penny moved over and he started for Lisel’s room as she followed.  She stood in the door holding Matisse and watched as Leonard pulled back the comforter from the bed.  He laid Lisel down very gently.  Then removed her shoes and made sure Rascal was in her arms.  The moment Leonard stood up from the bed the cat was up on it.  She watched Schrodinger make a bed by walking in circles on the comforter near Lisel head then lay down.

Leonard walked over to her and put his hands out for the baby.  Penny handed her to him with a smile then turned to head for the wardrobe to get in her pajamas.  She heard Leonard’s phone beep as she turned the corner into the great room.  She kept going until she heard his voice.

“Penny you might want to hold on changing clothes, Bernadette just went into labor”

Penny realized her purse was still in the car and headed to garage to get her phone.  There were two texts from Bernadette.  “Contractions about 10 minutes apart now” was the first one then next one, “Ouch these hurt”

Penny texted her asking if she was at the hospital yet.  “No we’re leaving now,”

Penny texted her back, “I’ll be there soon.”

She turned around to see Leonard standing beside the kitchen counter with Matisse in his arms.  “Leonard we need to get to the hospital.”

Leonard gave her a smile, “You have to get to the hospital.  I’ll take care of the baby and Lisel.  Call me if something goes wrong and I’ll be down right away.  But you need to be there for her, Howard will have Raj there.  I’m sure Amy will want to be there also.”

Penny frowned at Leonard even though she knew he was right they didn’t have child care lined up.  One of them must stay home for now.  “Okay but bring the girls first thing in the morning.  If something happens tonight call Chelsea to come over so you can come down.”

Penny kissed him quickly but with passion and headed for the garage.

Leonard turned and headed for the bedroom.  He put Matisse down and got into his sweats and a white t-shirt.  “Tish baby monitor on my phone please”

Leonard knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight anyway until Bernadette had her son.  He would just stay up for a while in the living room.  Bring the baby in when she woke up and feed her there.  It felt really odd not having Penny there at nighttime it actually made him feel a little distraught.  He shook it off, he’d be fine so would she.

He turned on the fireplace and put his phone beside him so he could see the crib cam.  Leonard picked up his tablet and started to read through the different journals that were piling up in his library.  He checked the clock to see how long it had been.  Penny had been gone an hour.

Leonard was felling sad when the phone rang it was Penny, “Hey is everything all right?”

He heard tears in her voice, “Leonard this is the first night we’ve ever been apart since last Christmas so everything is not all right.  I realized it on the drive to the hospital and once I got here it got worse.”

Leonard used his softest tone, “I know I feel the same way, I decided to stay up as long as I can so you can leave the line open and talk to me.  How’s Bernadette?

Penny sounded a little better, “She’s moving right along actually.  Contractions are under 5 minutes and she’s dilated to 7 already at this rate before mid-night.  She hasn’t had the epidural yet but they’re prepping her now. This is a little better at least I can talk to you.”

“I’m going back in the room now the epidural is in and working apparently.  Remind me why I didn’t get one of these?”

Leonard chuckled, “They offered you refused you were afraid it would slow things down,”

“Jesus someone should have insisted.  Oh just a second honey.  Its Leonard he said to just leave the line open so he can hear and I can talk to him.  What okay, Leonard here’s Howard.”

“Leonard slave your phone to Tish for a video call.”

Leonard got up and headed for the TV, “Tish slave the call on my cell to video, put the crib cam in the corner.”

The picture of the birthing room was there, Penny was waving as she held one of Bernadette’s hands while Howard held the other.  Penny looked at the screen “Hi honey can you see okay, we see you but it’s a little dark.  Tish can you make the picture of Leonard lighter.  Much better.  There you are honey.”

Leonard heard Bernadette’s voice and swore it could be Howard’s Mom, “Ugh, Let’s do this thing!”

Leonard smiled and sat back to watch and hear the blow by blow from Howard and Penny.

At 12:14AM Monday October 8th 2025 Gerald Joseph Wolowitz was born, 7lbs, 12 oz, 21” long.

By the Hand

When Penny walked into the house it was close to 1:30AM.  Leonard was sitting on the couch giving Matisse a bottle waiting for her.  She walked over and sat beside him.  “That was amazing to watch and be a part of Leonard.  I know you just went through that with me but it’s different when you’re not the one in pain and so uncomfortable.  Howard is so happy and so is Bernadette.  She always said she didn’t want kids, but the look on her face when she got to hold him said something totally different.”

She got very close and kissed Leonard on the cheek.  “I still missed you though.”

He smiled at her, “Well get ready for bed our streak of sleeping together is still unbroken.”

She looked at him with a slight disbelief in her eyes.

His smile turned serious.  ”It was very uncomfortable not having you beside me and not finishing our evening together.  I guess we’re becoming attached at the hip that way.  So I do know exactly how you felt.  Just don’t tell Raj or Howard because I’ll never hear the end of the whipped jokes.”

Penny put her arms around his neck then her lips on his.  It was one of those kisses where you lose track of time.  When she pulled back Leonard looked dazed.  “I believe you, I’ll meet you in our bed and you can convince me some more.”

Aside: Do you realize I let you know Sheldon didn’t have Parkinson’s in Chapter 55?

Chapter 55 was an Easter Egg for Sheldon’s Parkinson’s fear.

Everything was there to figure it out

Leonard gave you the web site:” link to the Mayo Clinic site”

Sheldon tells you he’s taking meds, “He took one of the anti-nausea pills from his desk”

He looks it up on the net and doesn’t faint or freak out: “He immediately moved to his computer and started doing internet searches.  He had his answer in a few moments time.  Sheldon sat back in his chair and saw it was time to go down and meet Amy for his ride home.”

So Chapter 56 was actually in my head for one possible resolution to the problem when I wrote Chapter 54.

Just needed some comic books and let the character’s be themselves..


Chapter 58 Tri Polar

Polar has a lot of definitions the one this chapter refers to: “resembling a pole or axis around which all else revolves.”  Leonard Hoftstader his life is very tri-polar.  His life revolves around three very distinct poles.  The first pole is his wife and children.  This is his primary pole there will never be anything more important.  This is where he exercises his emotions and his well-being.  The second pole is his friends and professional life which are intertwined.  It’s in this place he exercises his intellect and his abilities.  The third pole is more intricate and convoluted, his extended family.  Does Leonard care for his Mother, Father and siblings?  He does but with fear and loathing and it’s for this reason that Beverly Hoftstader is here.  This isn’t just a visit this is research, the final chapter of a body of work that started when Leonard was born.  She needs to finish it before life finishes with her.  The following is her journal of this visit and research.  Oh and an independent observer recording of the events, TISH, and finally the actual event as recorded by this writer. 

Tuesday October 9th 2025

Research Journal Entry 20251009

The subject Leonard has picked me up at the Burbank airport after a very long and tedious trip via Denver from New Jersey. He appears pensive and quite anxiety ridden.  He has shown little other emotions on our trip to his home where I will be staying.  The conversation has revolved around idle chit chat regarding my health and in general how “I’m feeling”.  He has of yet to show any signs of the superior intellect I know he contains.

We have arrived at his home in a gated community near Burbank California.  What is quite clear is that the family is affluent with an expensive residence.  After being met at the door by two rather large hounds it is quite apparent that the family seeks companionship through pets and other external affection sources.

The subject’s wife Penny is there with the newest member of the family.  A 3 week old newborn child that appears will have her father’s dark brown eyes and her mother’s blond hair.  Of course at this stage of development the eye color is yet to be determined.  The subject’s wife appears to be a healthy female in her late 30’s.  The researcher knows from prior contact with the subjects spouse that she is of average intelligence and came from a background of limited means.  She apparently has become quite successful in the dramatic arts.  The baby is quite alluring to the researcher.

Lisel is the subject’s 5 year old daughter from a prior spouse now deceased.  She is quite intelligent and affectionate to the researcher.

The subject Leonard continues to seek approval of his mother for the actual mediocre accomplishments of procreating the family rightly belonging to his wife.   The subject is quite financially successful but has been shown through repeated experimentation to be emotionally immature.

Since he was a child this researcher has endeavored to persuade this clearly gifted child to excel beyond his emotional needs.  It appears this approach has not achieved the desired results.  The subject has abandoned his work in experimental physics for the mundane administrative duties he now has as a department chair. It has come to the researcher’s attention through one of his colleagues that the subject may soon wish to become a professor emeritus and give up most if not all of his scholarly pursuits.

Tish’s transcribed recording marked Beverly Hoftstader part 1

Penny: Hi Beverly here’s your newest granddaughter, Matisse Liisa Hoftstader.

BH: She’s adorable Penny, look at those beautiful eyes, and she’s going to have your hair.

Penny: How was your flight out?

BH: It was fine dear just rather boring I edited my newest book on adolescent males and their tendency to homosexual coupling before heterosexual experimentation.

Penny: Oh that sounds I’m sorry gross.

Leonard: It’s been my mother’s contention for some time that all male children have homosexual tendencies at the adolescent and pre-adolescent stages before moving on to heterosexual relationships.  They like other boys before they like girls.

BH: You’ve been reading my blog.

Leonard: No but Sheldon is a great source of information on what you’re working on.

Lisel: Grandmama Beverly.

BH: There’s my little grandchild.  I heard you were learning French how is that coming?

Lisel: Grand-mère Très bien, (Very well Grandmother)

Leonard: She said very well Grandmother.  Writing it is coming a little slower but almost parfait. (perfect)

Lisel: Grandmama come meet my cat Schrodinger and see my room.

Beverly: It’s lovely Lisel will I be able to sleep with you while I’m here?  The bed looks big enough.

Lisel: Oh I would like that Grandmama, here he is.

The Actual Events

Leonard watched his mother come into the baggage claim area. He tried to smile warmly toward her receiving a slight grin in return. “Hi Beverly just point your bags out and the skycap here will load them up. How was the flight?”

“Really Leonard all flights are the same anymore no need to really ask. I see you are the only one meeting me I was hoping you had brought Lisel.”

Leonard gritted his teeth, “She’s in school until 3:00 but she’ll be at home by the time we get there.”

Beverly pointed her bags out to the skycap that loaded them on the cart and followed Leonard out to the parking area and placed them in the trunk.

Beverly got in the back seat of the Mercedes and Leonard drove out of the airport exit and headed home.

Leonard looked up at his mother in the rear view mirror, “So how have you been doing Beverly?”

Beverly looked slightly peeved, “I suppose the answer you’re looking for is fine. If you’re really asking how my health is then I have a certain amount of neuropathy in my feet and I’m thinking of having my hip replaced. “

Leonard was still grinding his teeth, “Is it causing you much discomfort?

“Why would I considering replacing it if wasn’t causing me pain.”

Leonard looked up at her face which showed no emotion staring back at him in the rear view mirror.

Leonard drove the rest of the way home in silence.

Once in the garage Leonard open the house door for his mother and had the dogs sit and stay. Then returned to the car and opened the car door for her Beverly got out and started for the door, “Thank you Leonard.”

Leonard retrieved her two bags from the trunk and followed. The scene in the kitchen made him feel somewhat better. Penny was smiling happily as his mother held Matisse. The look on his mother’s face was relaxed and peaceful rather than her normal emotionless expression. She looked happy he thought.

Beverly looked up at Penny. ”She’s adorable Penny, look at those beautiful eyes, and she’s going to have your hair.”

Penny was smiling at her, “How was your flight out?”

Beverly never took her eyes off the baby, “It was fine dear just rather boring I edited my newest book on adolescent males and their tendency to homosexual coupling before heterosexual experimentation.”

Penny gave her yuck look, “Oh that sounds I’m sorry gross.”

Leonard looked over at his wife. “It’s been my mother’s contention for some time that all male children have homosexual tendencies at the adolescent and pre-adolescent stages before moving on to heterosexual relationships.”

Penny looked a little confused so Leonard clarified it, “They like other boys before they like girls.”

Beverly looked him at smugly, “You’ve been reading my blog.”

Leonard shook his head and grimaced, “No but Sheldon is a great source of information on what you’re working on.”

Beverly looked back down at the baby when Leonard realized he had not seen his mother happy until Lisel came into the room and ran up to Beverly.

Beverly still holding the baby crouched down and received Lisel’s hug, “Grandmama Beverly”

Leonard actually saw his mother’s face light up. “There’s my little grandchild. I heard you were learning French how is that coming?”

Lisel stepped back and very seriously said, “Grand-mère Très bien,”

Beverly looked over at Leonard. “She said very well Grandmother. Writing it is coming a little slower but almost parfait.

Lisel took her grandmother’s free hand. “Grandmama come meet my cat Schrodinger and see my room.”

Beverly gently handed the baby back to Penny and let herself be led by Lisel toward her room.

Penny came up to Leonard and ran her hand up and down his back. “How’re you holding up so far sweetie?”

Leonard shook his head and relaxed his jaw. “It looks like you’re right so far totally taken with her grandchildren. But I think we need to keep the drunken Disneyland adventure as an option.”

Leonard leaned over and kissed the baby’s head. He looked up into Penny’s shining green eyes and smiling face then gently touched his lips softly to hers. She responded by placing her free hand on his cheek and increasing the forcefulness of the kiss.

We’ll see Leonard thought why do I feel like a lab rat?


Chapter 59 Dead Reckoning

Deck the Halls

Wednesday October 10th 2025

Beverly sat on the patio and sipped on her third Margarita that Penny had brought her.  Penny was putting the baby down and Lisel was reading in her room.  It really was peaceful out here.  She knew Penny was getting her a little tipsy though the Margarita’s didn’t taste too strong.  Leonard was at a Caltech Board of Regents meeting that would go rather late he’d said.   Last night had been rather comfortable holding the baby and talking to Lisel and Penny.  Leonard had been very quiet just listening mostly.  He was clearly uncomfortable.

Lisel and Penny were both sweet.  Lisel showed her intelligence and curiosity throughout the evening.  She asked Beverly about her work and Beverly had explained she was working on a final book about children and their roots in emotional thought.  She had explained the experiment she was going to describe about the study of children with different nurturing environments and the results.

She had in the end gone to bed at the same time as Lisel about 8:00.  Besides having to make room for the cat she had slept quite well.  Lisel had gone to school today and Beverly had spent the day with Penny and Matisse.  She could see that Penny would be a mother who fell into the selfless category.  She may pay for that devotion someday Beverly thought.  But then again she was a mature successful woman already so the outcome was in doubt.  Leonard had worked from home most of the day with video conferences and other work she was sure could have waited.

Penny sat down opposite her at the patio table with her own Margarita.

She offered to touch glasses with Beverly which she accepted.

“Mines a virgin I’m afraid, breast feeding.  Beverly can I ask you something?”

Beverly took a long sip of her drink, “Of course dear.”

“Why is your relationship with Leonard so strained?  You are warm and pleasant with everyone else but then you seem to be so distant from him”

Beverly made a try at changing the subject, “History and decisions made years ago I’m afraid.  How is your relationship with your father?”

Penny gave her a knowing grin.

“Very good actually, I dealt with my father issues in therapy we’re very close now though separated by distance.  What decisions all those years ago?”

Beverly smiled herself, “Bad ones in some ways.  Leonard’s father and I decided that we would raise our children in an academic environment.  There was not supposed to be competition between the siblings but it was inevitable.  Leonard as the youngest but I must say really the most gifted had he applied himself took the brunt of that.  There was a point in time where his father and I argued over changing the protocol.  But we couldn’t agree.”

Penny was not shocked but looked rather surprised.

“That must have been very difficult to achieve as parents.  How could you possibly not have wanted to give them comfort when they were sad, sick or teenagers?”

Beverly grimaced and took another sip, “It was very difficult sometimes but we were both scientists so the protocol took precedence.  I couldn’t always manage it neither could Leonard’s father.  When my daughter was a teenager there were times that I held her and talked her through problems.  Leonard’s brother was always much closer to his father than Leonard was.  We both knew as the youngest he would crave attention more than the others.  We did the best with Leonard trying to have him solve problems with his intellect and not his emotions.”

Penny had a different look now, she looked sad and empathic but not for Beverly,

“Leonard deserved better Beverly.  Your ‘Protocol’ probably set his emotional development back for years.  Poor Leonard never had anyone but his dog and his uncle Floyd to be attached to.  No wonder it took him an entire year to ask me out then another year and for me to make the first move to a relationship.  Don’t you feel guilt or regret over this?”

Beverly felt a tear race down her cheek.  Damn tequila she thought.

“It’s part of my reason for this visit Penny.  The protocol is at an end and I’m ready to finish it.  I need this one last visit then I can finish the research and the book.  I need to do it soon while I still can.”

Penny’s look changed Beverly saw. It was concern and comforting.  How could she do that Beverly wondered.  She had seen this same ability in Lisel to instantly empathize with her.  Did she learn this behavior from Penny or was it a more instinctive ability.  It was a shame she would not have more of an opportunity to study it.

Penny leaned forward, “What do you mean while I still can?”

Beverly finished her drink and sat it down.  “Dear I’m 77 years old and even now I feel my mind slipping away.  I’m not sure if it’s just age or something far more sinister but I need to finish this last piece of my life’s work before I slip further.  If Leonard lets me we’ll have this same discussion.  He deserves to know why his mother and father held him at arm’s length.  I have some things for him that might help.”

Penny was about to speak when the she heard the baby cry over the monitor.  She got up and shook her head at her mother in law.  Reached over and touched her hand lightly before she headed into the house.

Beverly sat for several seconds.  She was feeling the drinks now.  Leonard was a very lucky man to have this woman she now knew.  Penny would have been a fine therapist but her own feelings would have doomed that career.  You had to be able to be objective and clinical, if you got too emotionally involved with your subjects you hurt yourself and them.

She thought of her childhood.  Her parents who were both very accomplished and had been sometimes emotionally missing from her life but she had excelled.  But maybe she had gone too far with her own children.  There had been family Christmases and birthdays, holidays at the beach, summer camp in upstate New York when she was a child.

Beverly leaned back and closed her eyes.  She held on and blinked a few times then sleep took her.

Defensive Posture

Penny fed the baby in the bedroom.  She made an effort to hold her very gently.  She needed to because the anger was building in her.  How could you experiment on your own children?  She was at a loss perhaps a scientist could find justification but it alluded her.  She wanted to let the anger go on Beverly.  She knew it wasn’t the right thing to do but none the less it would make her feel better.  In the end that settled it.  She wouldn’t go off on Beverly to make herself feel better and it wouldn’t help Leonard either.  In fact he was coping with the visit very well as far as she could see though he was keeping his distance.

She changed the baby and cradled her rocking her back to sleep.  Penny placed Matisse gently back into her crib and went to check on Lisel.  She was at her desk drawing a picture.  Penny knelt down on her knees and hugged her from behind.

“Hi baby what are you working on?”

Lisel snuggled into Penny’s hug.  “It’s Grandmama and daddy when he was little he’s having a birthday party.”

Penny looked at the picture.  They weren’t stick people anymore she drew.  Now they were more like cartoon characters.  More rounded the faces starting to have feature and the body’s symmetry.  It was a remarkably well done for a five year old.

“How old is daddy in the picture?”

“Grandmama said he was four and that it was his last birthday party.”

Penny wondered at this remark and looked closely at the picture again.

“Did Grandma Beverly show you a picture of this honey?”

Lisel just nodded yes.  Penny hugged her a little tighter.

“Are you almost done it’s time to get ready for bed.”

Lisel again nodded and started to get up so Penny could get her in pajamas.  They picked a yellow pair with shorts and a top with small little birds on them she had gotten in Geneva.  Penny got her in bed and tucked in.  She was preparing to turn out the light when Leonard walked in.

“Hey you two I made it back before bedtime barely.  Where’s Beverly?”

Penny smiled at him, “I left her out by the pool.”

Leonard nodded and came to the bed to give Lisel a hug and goodnight kiss.

“I love you little Lisel, sleep good tonight” Leonard kissed his daughter and held her for several seconds.  Penny did the same and they both stood.

Lisel said “Love you too, Tish sleepy lights please”

The lights dimmed in the room with a slightly brighter one near the door for a night light.

Penny grasp Leonard’s hand and led him back to the great room and out to the patio.  Beverly was asleep in her chair.  Leonard walked over to her and gently touched her hand.

“Mother it’s time for bed”

He had to shake her arm gently several times before she woke.  She looked up at Penny and her son.  Without saying a word she stood and walked a little shakily toward the house.  Leonard and Penny followed her to Lisel room where she laid down next to Lisel without changing clothes.  Leonard pulled the comforter over her and Lisel reached over and held her hand.  Penny noticed that it had liver spots and was more wrinkled than she remembered.

They both headed for the living room and their spot in front of the fireplace.  Leonard sat down and kicked his shoes off.  Penny already shoeless curled up into him.

“How was the Regents Meeting?”

Leonard rolled his eyes, “It’s a very rigid meeting with an agenda that is followed to the letter.  They were very pleased that Sheldon is back and excited about the possibility of a breakthrough.  I had to dampen that down a bit.  If Raj and Sheldon come up with something new it could take years to prove.  How was your evening with my mother?”

Penny wasn’t hesitant but related what his mother had said about the protocol her and his father had used in raising them.   She had expected him to be surprised but he just nodded his head as if it was just another confirmation of something he already knew.

“So you knew about the protocol they were using?”

Leonard had a pained expression on his face. “We all did when we got into our late teens and headed off to college.  My mother published her preliminary results.  We knew the subjects of the paper were us, my brother, sister and I.  My sister took it the hardest she went to college and never came home on breaks.  She always went to the homes of her friends for the holidays.  My brother once he got his law degree and passed the bar has never been home either.”

Penny was watching his face.  He didn’t seem too surprised but a little sad.

“Do you think something is wrong with her, Alzheimer’s or something?”

Leonard shook his head.

“It’s not uncommon but we’ve never had much of it in our family.  She probably is just getting older and insecure.  She’s been alone a lot of years now by her own choice.  Truthfully I’m not sure how I feel about this.”

Penny hugged him tighter and kissed his cheek.  “We’ll be there for her both of us if need be.  She may have withdrawn from you all these years but we’re better than that.”

Leonard gave her the smile, “Why is it you always make me feel like I can accomplish anything you say?”

She smiled back and saw his face soften and show tenderness, “Because I love you stupid”

Leonard chuckled, “enough said.”

Reconstructive Procedures

Leonard was surprised to find his mother up when he went out to get coffee in the morning,  She was wrapped in a long grey robe and sipping coffee at the kitchen bar as if she’s been up for a while.  He walked around the end of the bar and into the kitchen and started to pour his coffee.

“Good morning Beverly” He had learned to not use platitudes or empty inquiries with her again these last two days.  He stood opposite of her and sipped his coffee.  She replied and actually smiled at him.  “Good morning Leonard.”

He had listened to Penny about her last night and today he examined his mother closely.  She was still a very slim woman.  Her hair was a light brown color with slight streaks of grey, he was sure she had it colored.  He looked harder at her face and realized she didn’t really look any older than she had at 50.  Her neck and hands did give her age away though.  She had developed that wrinkled waddle below her chin and her hands were heavily wrinkled with liver spots.  It took him a moment to realize she’d had cosmetic surgery.  He said nothing about it but filed it away.  He’d never realized his mother had that kind of vanity. He came around the bar and sat next to her.

“Penny told me you might be concerned about your mental faculties starting to erode.  Do you have any actual symptoms or are you just concerned about age?”

Beverly looked over her glasses at him for several moments.  She was clearly considering her response.  “My memory has started to be quite erratic I’m afraid and some general confusion occasionally.”

Leonard reached over and touched Beverly’s hand, he smiled at her.

“Are they impacting your life, keeping you from doing daily tasks or disrupting your routines?”

Beverly shook her head no.  He could see she was struggling with something.

He decided to jump in, “It doesn’t sound like anything serious then, just age and a rather active mind slowing down slightly.  You know the classic symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia any of those?”

Again Beverly shook her head no.

“Leonard I want to talk to you about your childhood.  Your father and I we tried to raise you and your siblings differently.”

Leonard stopped her in mid-speech, “Oh yes the protocol, we all know about it mother.  We lived through it.  I can’t say any of us agreed with it or considered it beneficial to our lives.  But we all knew what it was by the time your first paper was published.  I suppose that you have come to some final conclusions.”

Beverly regarded him again over her glasses. She didn’t seem shocked or surprised but perhaps a touch rueful.

“If you knew about the protocol then it may invalidate the results or add to them depending on how cognizant you were of its purpose and results.  I don’t regret it Leonard but I do regret the estrangement I have with my children.  If it’s the results of the protocol then it was a failure but I’m having a hard time quantifying it.”

Leonard could see the wheels turning in his mother’s head.  He saw no way to help her get around the dilemma of producing highly performing children with her estrangement from them.  He could jab at her he thought but he might do it gently.

“As a scientist I understand your objective and hypothesis.  We all turned out to be highly intelligent and successful people.  But it may have been in spite of the protocol rather than because of it.  Perhaps the best result you can point to is that the sacrifice of the parent was not a reasonable result for the success achieved.  Let me ask you this.  Are you proud of your children and their accomplishments or do you think they should have done more?”

He saw that he had hit his target in a very clinical way it should appeal to her intellect he thought.

“I think you all could have done more.  You seem to all have peaked and have now moved on to a more quiescent stage of your life.  Take yourself for example.  You left your research behind to be an administrator and now you may leave that behind to be what, a house husband?  You could still achieve more Leonard.”

Leonard smiled again he had her though she couldn’t see it.  If he were Penny that wolfish grin would be on his face.  He endeavored to keep his expression neutral.

“It’s because of the protocol and the way we were brought up that we have peaked.  It has become the time in my life where the greatest achievement I have any ambition for is emotional fulfillment.  To be the best father and husband I can be for my wife and children.  Perhaps this in itself is the best result of the protocol.  I have finally understood the integration of my intellect and my emotions.  I’ve spent a great portion of my life wanting your approval but now realize I only seek the approval of my family.  I know that I can only receive that through their love.  Therefore logically that can only be achieved by me being the best husband and father I can be.”

Beverly now did look rather stunned.  He could see her considering the ramifications to both her theories and data.  The picture was clear the protocol had succeeded in producing highly intelligent and successful offspring.  It had also caused them to look for fulfillment outside of their family unit and had destroyed its cohesiveness and its ability to provide fulfillment to the parents.

Leonard grasped and held his mother’s hand and looked into her eyes.  He could see emotion and certain puzzlement there.

“Why don’t we let the protocol be at an end and start again by just being friends?  Hi I’m Leonard it’s lovely to meet you Beverly.”

Leonard looked up and saw Penny standing at the entrance to the hallway with her smile beaming at him.  He had no idea how long she been there but he hoped it had been for the whole time.


Chapter 60 Fifth Ellipse

Direct via Fargo

Penny had watched the entire exchange between Leonard and his mother from the hallway.  When Leonard had finally looked up and noticed her she smiled at him.  He couldn’t have handled the conversation better.  She thought how easily it could have become acrimonious and hurtful.  In fact she knew years ago it would have.  Leonard would have boiled over and Beverly would have insulted his intelligence and accomplishments or lack thereof.  Penny was so proud of him at this moment.  He had used reason and logic to justify his position that Beverly had to accept at least for now.  Then it hit her that the protocol had called for Leonard to use intellect instead of his emotions to solve problems.  Oh how he’d turned it on her, he used intellect and logic to justify an emotional decision and goal.

Penny walked into the kitchen kissing Leonard‘s cheek on the way.   “Good morning all umm need my coffee.”  Penny poured herself a cup and leaned on the counter where Leonard had been earlier taking a large sip.  It was very strong and aromatic she smiled and enjoyed it eying the Hoftstaders young and old.  I guess that includes me now.  “It’s nice to see you two talking do you have any plans for the day?”

Leonard looked over at his mother.  “Mom is there anything you’d like to do today here in sunny Burbank California.”

“If you two don’t mind I’d like to spend the day with Lisel if she can stay home from school today.  We could go to that lovely park that was by your old apartment.”

Leonard was nodding his head, “Sure I think she’d love that we’ll have lunch at the apartment if you like you’ve never seen the remodeled version.”

Lisel chose this moment to round the corner of the hallway, rascal under one arm and the cat under the other.  She was still sleepy Penny could tell and came over and crawled into Leonard’s lap.  He wrapped her in his arms and just held her.  Penny looked over at Beverly who was intently watching Leonard.  Penny could see it in her face.  It was envy and regret that she had lost moments like this.  Leonard must have felt it.  He lifted Lisel and gave her one last hug then placed her in Beverly’s lap.  He then smiled at Penny, “I’ll get in the shower grandma and mommy can love on you little Lisel”

Penny walked around and kissed Lisel on the cheek.  “I think grandma might like you to herself I need to check on baby Matisse.”

Penny smiled at Beverly and headed after Leonard.  Penny found him in bathroom getting ready to shave.  The foam was already on and she stood behind him looking in the mirror.  He smiled back at her.  “I have no idea why you like watching me shave.”

She had always enjoyed watching him scrape away his whiskers.  The long strokes with the razor very quick and efficient something very languid and fluid about his movements.  Penny stopped him and took the razor out of his hand.  “Let me do it.”

His eyes got large she knew it was something she’d never tried before but it couldn’t be more difficult than her ankles.  Of course she usually had a waxing done these days.  She started on the sideburns just like he always did and worked on one side then the other rinsing the razor in the sink as she went.  She was very careful on his chin and neck.  She handed him back the razor to do his upper lip. When he had finished she kissed him feeling the residual shaving cream on her face as she did.  She backed them both toward the shower removing her pajamas and his boxer as they went.

Anisocoria

Penny towel dried her hair as Leonard fed the baby.  They had both had fun in the shower but Penny really was counting down to when they could actually have coitus again.  Sheldon’s favorite word for sex she supposed.  Scientific yet it still sounded just a little bit dirty.  Just a few more weeks and then they would be cleared for intercourse again.  She started thinking about birth control.  They both felt two children were what they wanted.  Should she go with one of the new yearly shots, or something different?  Leonard had offered to have a vasectomy but she wasn’t sure yet.  It was Tish talking that caught her attention.

“Leonard and Penny Lisel said something is wrong with her grandmother.”

Penny stepped out of the bathroom to see Lisel run into the room.

“Something’s wrong with grandmama she suddenly stopped talking and is breathing funny”

Leonard was by her on his way to the great room.  Penny swept up Lisel looking over her shoulder to see the baby was in the crib.  She started toward the great room with Lisel in her arms.  “Tish monitor the baby please house wide please”

She found Leonard beside his mother on the TV couches looking into her eyes.  He spoke rapidly not with panic but very insistently.

“Tish call 911 on the speaker.”

Within a few seconds a 911 operator was on the speaker.  “911 What’s your emergency?”

Leonard instantly, “We need an ambulance and paramedics an elderly lady has had a stroke”

“Emergency services have been notified their ETA is 15 minutes do you need me to stay on the line.”

Leonard shook his head, “No thank you”

Penny got to the couch and Leonard looked up at her.  He was in that scientific mode very calm but she could see he was on the edge.

“One pupil is dilated the other reactive, Shit, Shit, Shit.”

He was losing it a little now, he hardly ever cursed and never in front of the children.  He quickly went to the chest behind the fireplace and retrieved a blanket.  Penny noticed it was the blue one she had given him.  He wrapped it around Beverly then sat beside her and held her hand.  Tears were running down his face now when he looked back at Penny.

“Why don’t you take Lisel into her room for a bit?”

Penny shook her head, “I’ll take her to our room and get dressed.  I’ll call Chelsea and go with you or meet you there.”

Leonard just nodded and stared back at his mother.

Containment

Leonard looked at the door to ICU repeatedly waiting for the doctor to appear.  The emergency department had transferred her to ICU almost at once.  All they had been able to tell him was that it was either a massive stroke or aneurism they would know when the MRI was completed.  The Neurologist and Neurosurgeon on call were on their way and they’d know soon.

His phone buzzed, it was Penny texting, “Where the hell are you?”

He texted her back “ICU waiting room 3 west.”

Leonard had control of his emotions now.  What had she not been telling him?  Dammit Beverly you knew something was wrong.  He should have seen it, but she was an enigma to him for most of his life.  Penny came into the room moments later and he rose and wrapped her in a hug.  He just held her it filled him up to be right there.

She pulled back and looked in his eyes.

“Either a massive stroke or aneurism their saying they don’t know yet.”

She hugged him again, harder this time.

After a time they pulled apart and sat on the couch behind them together she clasping his hand and touching his cheek softly.  Leonard realized they were not alone in the room.  Another couple sat on the opposite couch to them.  A younger couple both looking shocked and in pain.  He wondered what family member of theirs was in the ICU.  Shared misery he supposed hoping it was not their child.

He looked into Penny’s eyes, green and bright but filled with tears.  He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it gently.

“She knew something was wrong, that’s why she wanted to be here.  I’m not sure what she wanted to accomplish but I hope she did.”

He looked back at the doors to the ICU.  He really should call Sheldon and let him know what’s going on.  He was much closer to Beverly than he was.  Then he saw Sheldon and Amy come through the doors into the waiting room.  He looked over at Penny.  She had that soft subtle smile.

“I called him on the way here. I knew he would want to be here.”

Sheldon came over and sat beside them Amy taking a chair to the side.

“Leonard so we know anything yet?”  Sheldon was calm but Leonard could see his friend was emotional, a rare and uncommon state for the brilliant physicist.

“Nothing yet Sheldon, she’s either had a stroke or aneurism.”

A young female in scrubs walked through the door then.  “Hoftstader Family?”  She asked.

Leonard waved his hand and the doctor came over and moved a chair so she could sit and talk to the group.

“I’m Dr Byrd I’ve been caring for Beverly.”

She gave them all a very serious look.

“I’m afraid she’s suffered a very massive stroke.  The MRI shows it’s not her first she may have been having these vascular problems for some time.  We’re waiting on records from Princeton right now.  I’m afraid this is not a recoverable event.  It is worsening as time goes on.  She’s on a respirator now.  She would not be breathing on her own without it.  When we receive her advanced directive from Princeton we’ll know her wishes.  I understand she has one.  I’m very sorry but it’s only a matter of time now.”

Leonard was stunned he looked at Sheldon who was more matter of fact.

“She’ll want to be removed from life support I’m sure.”

Sheldon was pensive and there were tears in his eyes.

“I’m sorry Leonard she was a brilliant person it will be a great lose”

Leonard felt Penny’s arm slide around his shoulder and he turned toward her.  She was openly weeping now tears running down her cheeks.  He knew that most of those tears were for him.  Leonard did what he did best he held his wife in his arms and tried to comfort her even as she tried to comfort him.

Two hours later at 2:40PM on October 11th 2025 the respirator was turned off and Beverly Hoftstader PhD was pronounced dead.  She was 77 years old.


Chapter 61 Tensile Strength

 

Balance

Penny held Matisse to her breast watching her husband sit on the couch by the fireplace talking on the phone.  His fifth or sixth call since they’d been home she’d lost track.  He was calm and being very methodical.  She knew he was pushing it all down and just dealing with the reality of the situation.  She walked into the hallway still feeding the baby to check on Lisel.  They hadn’t told her about Beverly yet.  The truth was neither of them had a clue how to do it.

Lisel was at her drawing table working intently on a drawing.  Penny walked over and looked over her shoulder.  The picture was of a woman from the hair and glasses it was obviously Beverly holding the hand of a small boy who also had glasses.  They were walking on a path she was working on the trees beside it now.

“Lisel honey that’s really good where did you see this?”

“It’s in Grandmama’s album of daddy and her when he was little.”

Penny looked around and saw a large old style photo album on the nightstand.  She saw Beverly’s suitcase and carryon bag beside the bed and choked back a sob.  She took the book with one hand and placed it on the bed.  She opened the cover and knew she couldn’t go any further.  Leonard’s baby pictures being held by his smiling mother and proud father was just too much.  She closed it and looked back at Lisel.  She was looking at her.  Her little head tilted to one side.  “Mommy you’re crying what’s wrong?”  Lisel gasped she had gotten it all by herself, “Oh no Grandmama isn’t ever coming back is she?  She died like mama.”  Tears were starting to fall from her eyes and she jumped up and came into Penny’s free arm.  Penny held her close and she let her own tears flow as well.

It was Leonard’s arms around both of them that shook her out of it.  The baby had stopped suckling and was asleep.  She gently laid Matisse on the bed as Leonard picked up and held Lisel.  Then shifted her to one arm and pulled Penny to him with the other.

Leonard knew Lisel had stopped crying and was just nuzzling his neck.  Penny was quiet also just holding on.  He was at a loss for what to do next.  Lisel wasn’t.

“Daddy put me down please.”

Leonard placed her on the bed and she reached for the photo album.  He had seen it sitting there and knew before she brought it to him.  Lisel handed it to him with both hands.  “Grandamma Beverly told me she had come to give you this but wanted me to see it first.”

Leonard took the album and was about to open it when Penny’s hand touched his arm.

“You might want to wait honey, just give it a little time first.”

Leonard could see pleading in her eyes.  Penny never looked like that.  He nodded at her then looked down and smiled at Lisel.  “Thank you honey I’m going to look at in a little while, mommy why don’t you take Lisel and the baby out to the kitchen and get us something to eat.”

Penny looked hesitant until Leonard looked toward Beverly’s luggage.  She knew a diversion was required.  She picked up the baby and took Lisel by the hand.  When Penny and the kids reached the door she stopped and looked back.  Leonard smiled and nodded.  Once they had left the room he zipped the suitcase and bag.  Leonard took them to his closet in the bedroom and placed them in the far corner.   He stared at them he hadn’t thought about these items.  He’d called his brother who had Beverly’s will and instructions.  She wanted to be cremated and have her ashes spread at her home.  His brother always the cold fish had been unaware of her having any medical conditions.  He did seem sullen but not overwrought.

The call to his sister had been met with similar results.  She knew of no medical problems she had been suffering.  She was aware that she had cosmetic surgery several years ago.  She was supposed to come visit several weeks ago but it hadn’t worked out.  This is when his sister did breakdown.  She had made excuses to postpone the visit and now was guilt ridden over it.  Leonard had tried to calm her down.  He’d told he had felt the same way when she wanted to come out to California to see the baby.  By the end of the call they were both on an even keel he thought.  Leonard had promised to email pictures of the new baby and more recent photos of Lisel.

Then he had been making arrangement for the cremation and release of the body.  He had tried to get a hold of his father but had only been able to leave some messages for him.  He was in Africa again doing research and was incommunicado.

His last call had been to Amy and Sheldon to see how he was holding up.  Amy said he was sullen very much as he had been when his grandmother died.  He held Tyler or the baby constantly.  This seemed to be his coping mechanism for stress now.  Leonard was satisfied and ask her to let him know he’d call to see how he was.  Leonard felt the weight of the photo album in his hand.  There was part of him that wanted to look inside but Penny was always right about these things.  He placed the album on top of the luggage for another time.

Leonard turned toward the door with a new task in mind.  He had dealt with the needs of the dead, his siblings and friend.  He needed to be there for his family now he thought as he moved toward the kitchen.

Comfort Food

Lisel was at the breakfast bar eating what Leonard knew was some pasta he had made last night.  Penny was on the other side cutting up vegetables for dipping.  She looked very serious and constantly looked over at Lisel.  Leonard tried to put on a smile as he walked up and kissed his daughter’s head.

“How’s daddy’s pasta today honey?  Do you still like it as well as yesterday?”

Lisel nodded smiling at her father.  Penny looked up at him trying to put a smile on her face.  It fell off almost as quickly as it had appeared.  Leonard came around the bar and made her put the knife down.  He kissed her lips very softly and held her for a moment.  He looked into her green eyes.  They were a little red around the edges to much crying today.  He really did give her his best smile this time.  “Remember to laugh it helps.  You know what I’m going to do?  I’m going to go hold my baby daughter and find a something funny to watch.”

Penny smiled at him but it was still weak.  Leonard walked to the bassinet and picked up his sleeping daughter and held her to his chest rocking from foot to foot.  He looked back over at Penny who had a real smile on her face now.  The loving and caring smile she used so often.  He smiled back, “I guess I’ll watch that old TV show of yours it always made me laugh.”

Penny shook her head sternly, “I don’t think I want my daughter to see that just yet I’d have to explain too many things.”

Leonard moved toward the couches by the TV and sat down.  It only took him a moment to shake off that he had sat where his mother had been.  He had to reach deep.  Back to after Liisa died to stay in this moment rather than the one earlier today.  He looked down at Matisse his smart and beautiful daughter.  He laughed to himself he’d have give Raj a jab next week about that old remark.  Looking at the baby made him feel the good things in his life.  The little tiny nose and ears, her tiny fingers wrapped around his one finger.  Penny came in and put the veggies and dip on the table.  She sat next to Leonard and looked at the baby a soft smile on her face.  She turned her head and called for Lisel.

“Come in with us sweetie daddy is going to find us a movie.”

Lisel came over and got between her parents.  Leonard on her left and Penny on her right, Penny wrapped her arm around her.  “What movie would you like to watch Lisel?”

He could see her putting her mind to it he was hoping she wouldn’t pick UP, Bambi or Snow White but something really light. She had it, “Can I watch Toy Story?”

Leonard smiled at Penny, “Toy Story it is. Tish please play Toy Story.”

The screen flickered and Leonard noticed Penny and Lisel lean into each other and relax.  He just continued to stare down at his baby daughter lost in thought.

Remote Imaging

Lisel had fell asleep in the middle of Toy Story 2.  They’d had the foresight to get her in pajamas after the original movie had finished.  Leonard had put her in bed and tucked her in, rascal in her arms Schrodinger by her head.  Leonard turned to see Penny who had just fed the baby behind him.

“Tish nighttime lighting please, if she wakes up tonight wake both Penny and I”

“Yes Leonard of course”

Penny watched him walk toward her he smiled and kissed her gently on the cheek.

“I think a scotch in my spot in front of the fireplace is called for, care to join me”

Penny smiled at him, her worry not showing acting now.  “Let me put the baby down and get in my PJ’s then I’ll join you.  A cup of peppermint tea sounds nice.”

Leonard smiled and headed for the great room.  He felt himself grimace on the way to the kitchen but held it off.  He poured a generous single malt in the tumbler and started making Penny her tea.

Penny put the baby down, tucking the blanket low on her torso.

“Tish baby monitor please”

“Yes Penny.”

Penny walked to Leonard’s closet and opened it.  She retrieved the album from atop of the luggage and started for her wardrobe.

Leonard took the tea and his scotch to the couch and took his seat setting Penny’s tea on the coffee table.

“Tish turn on the fireplace and dim the lights please.”

The fire lit and illuminated the area in a soft yellow flickering.

Penny crossed the great room seeing Leonard on the couch and went into her wardrobe.  She put her clothes in the hamper and changed in to pink pajama bottoms and a matching pink camisole.  She picked up the album and headed back.  Instead of going directly to the fireplace area she turned to the kitchen and retrieved Leonard’s bottle of single malt scotch.  She turned toward the great room with tears in her eyes.  This was going to be hard on them both.

Leonard looked up from the fire as Penny came around the couch.  She set his scotch bottle on the table and set down close to him the album in her hands.

Penny looked deeply into Leonard’s brown eyes and said very softly, “You need to let it out honey I do too.”

Leonard was afraid to let go of the calm he had forced himself to feel.  This was different from Liisa.  He had been grieving for weeks before her death.  There had been no confliction in how he felt about his wife.  But Beverly had gone so suddenly.  The conflicts far from resolved.  He vacillated between sadness over her death to wanting to sing the wicked witch is dead.  He didn’t really want to sing that he knew but it had provided a certain dark humor to keep him calm.  Leonard slid his arm around Penny and she settled into her spot.

Penny laid the album on their laps and opened it to the first page she had seen earlier and looked to see his face.  He didn’t look surprised but was thoughtful.  The first 4 pages were photos of him and his mother and father in his first year. The last contained his first birthday card a cute puppy on the front.  This interested him he removed it and saw that it was signed by both of his parents with “Love you Mommy and Daddy” written below.

Leonard took a large drink of his scotch.  His Uncle Floyd had shown him some of these pictures before.  The birthday card of course he didn’t remember. The album continued this through his first four years.  There were pictures at the zoo, in the park and at birthday parties.  He remembered none of them.  He also noticed that none of his siblings were ever in the pictures and rarely his father.  But Beverly was always there, smiling, holding him up or pointing at an animal at the zoo.  He realized his father had been taking the pictures.  At the end of each year was a birthday card.  Each card was signed the same, and in the same hand, his mother’s.

After the 4th year there were no more pictures.  Leonard realized he was crying when a tear splashed on his fourth birthday card.  He looked up at Penny to see her crying and pulled her close.

Penny was crying for Leonard.  She tried to laugh but to no avail.  She just let it out crying for her and for her husband.  She finally got out the question in her mind.

“What happened after you turned five?”

Leonard reached up and wiped his eyes.  He felt like cursing, if she were still alive he’d have shouted at her.

“That’s when the protocol started.  I didn’t know it then I don’t even remember being five.  But they took it all away god damn her.”

He sat back furious and breathed.  He just breathed concentrating on controlling how he breathed.  He felt like he was having an asthma attack but he fought.  He kept thinking just breath.  He felt Penny’s hand softly on his chest.

“Are you okay honey”

He suddenly was, her touch had brought him back, he let the anger go and started crying.

Penny watched him saw how upset he was.  She had watched his breath become fast, puffing and then him controlling it.  He was still seething until she touched him and he relaxed under her touch.  Her own tears were streaming down her face.

Leonard looked down at the album again.  There was more, on each of the next pages was a birthday card for an uncelebrated birthday.  Each still signed by his mother.  They became cards for a young adult and finally an actual adult.  The last card would be for his birthday this year.

It was signed the same but with a footnote.

“This will probably be the last one,”

Chapter 62 Uneven Distribution

November 7th 2025

Intricate Purgatory

Leonard Hoftstader PhD sat at his desk his concentration flawed.  The numbers on the spreadsheet in front of him for department budgets and funding requests a blur.  It had been four weeks since his mother had suddenly passed.  The cremation had taken place the cremains shipped to his bother.  He had grieved, broken down, let his anger have its day but he was still stuck.  To find that she had cared was the most tormenting.  He found himself having a new respect for the kind of discipline it must have taken to pull away.  But what had she proved and what had she gained? The work was incomplete he knew.  She had never gotten a chance to finish it.

She had told Penny she had hoped she could get it done but now it sat out there like an orphaned child.  Like his own childhood interrupted and incomplete.  Leonard knew he could move forward.  The process was ingrained in him.  But there it was he couldn’t let her work wither on the vine.  He had her laptop.  It had all her journals and observations going back to the beginning.

What Leonard doubted was if he had the courage to finish it.  He doubted he could do an impartial analysis of himself to finish the work.  He was a physicist not a psychologist.  He only knew of one person that might be able to finish it but it wasn’t his field and Leonard thought he may be ill equipped to deal with it.  Sheldon Cooper had more insight into his mother and her work than any human being in existence.

There was a certain guilt involved if he dumped this on his friend.  He was fragile as it was.  Leonard had brought him back from being broken once.  That probably couldn’t be done again.  No it couldn’t be Sheldon he had probably been feeding his mother evaluations from the years he had lived with Leonard.  He would have to look outside his group.  Leonard would need to find a research psychologist to take on the project.  That gave him pause.  To finish the work this outsider was going to want to crawl into Leonard’s mind and have a look around.  Leonard was a very open person about most aspects of his life but his relationship with his mother and family was not one of those aspects.

He sat back in his chair and let the wheels turn for moment.  Now at least he had some semblance of a plan he’d talk to Penny about it then start looking for the right scientist.  He looked back at the budget spreadsheet in front of him and then at his calendar of meetings for the day.  The other elephant in the room reappeared, was it time to retire?

His phone buzzed with a text, Penny had her doctor’s appointment today.

“It’s looking good, got the shot today good for a whole year.”

He felt himself smile.  Penny was healthy and had apparently decided to get the one year shot for birth control that part of life should get back to normal.  They had both been down for quite a few days after Beverly.  Penny had actually gone to see her therapist one afternoon the next week.  She was adjusting fine more worried about him and Lisel than herself helped her.  She was always at her best when she cared for others.  Leonard thought he was putting up a pretty good front himself.   The grieving process wasn’t his problem, he had grieved for his mother, he was having a harder time grieving for little Leonard, that happy little boy in pictures where had he gone to?

Lisel had been very quiet for a few days.  She drew pictures of her and Beverly doing things she thought they would have done.  Leonard had let her put them in the Beverly’s album when she asked.  Then she had moved on.  She had created a few memories to go with the few she had of her grandmother and her mother and moved on.  Penny talked to her a lot.  She reassured her that her parents were healthy and still young and that they would never leave her.  Lisel had made them both promise.

Leonard knew she had a deeper reasoning on the subject.  She was far too intelligent to know that it was a promise they could keep forever.  It still seemed to help her and it made him happy that she was happy again.  That should be enough for him he knew but he also knew he needed to do more.  He had to finish it.

Entwined Solace

Penny sat with Chelsea on the couch going through her mail and schedule.  Matisse was sleeping in the bassinette next to them.  Penny looked at next week.  She had three appearances to make.  Two talk show interviews and a fund raiser for the Humane Society one evening.  A pretty low key week but she’d have to arrange childcare for them.  Then she’d see if Leonard would go with her to the fund raiser.  They really did need to start getting out more again.  Since Beverly’s death they had been staying close to home not even going to the apartment in Pasadena.

Her morning doctor’s appointment had went well she decided she would take things into own hands.

“Chelsea I need you to pick up Lisel this afternoon and bring her to the apartment in Pasadena.”

Chelsea looked a little surprised, “Sure no problem I love picking her up but what’s going on in Pasadena?”

“We’re going to spend the weekend at the apartment do you mind staying with the dogs this weekend or do you have plans?”

Chelsea grinned, “I’d love to stay here for the weekend, and a little pool time would be great.”

“Okay then I’ll need to get the baby and bags packed up and make a couple of calls”

Penny picked up her phone and made a call, “Hi Mrs. Perry I need you to do something for me.”

Rearrangement

Leonard finished the budget spreadsheet and sent it the finance department.  He looked back over at his schedule for the afternoon as he watched all of his meetings from noon on disappeared.  He hit the refresh icon and they were all replaced with an out of office appointment that just said 4A.  His phone buzzed with a text, it was from Penny.

“You have new appointment Dr. Hoftstader 12:30 you know where and give Mrs. Perry the rest of the day off.  Be There!!”

Leonard sat back and smiled seems things were looking up.  He looked at the time 11:30 well at least she gave him an hour.

Retracing

Penny parked her car in one of the 4A reserved spaces at the apartment.  She looked over to the street and saw no press and smiled.  She noticed that Leonard was already there his Toyota parked in the space.  She smiled down at Matisse as she got her out of the back with her bags and went in the new entrance down to the basement.  She took the elevator up and as she exited saw the door to 4A was open.  She walked in to see Leonard behind the kitchen island tossing a salad and smiling at her.  On the coffee table was large arrangement of flowers mostly daisies her favorite but wild flowers and orchids also.

He just looked at her with The Smile on his face.

“I see you’re a little early honey, lovely flowers and making me lunch too.”

She gave him what she knew was his favorite smile and closed the door.  Penny took Matisse out of her carrier and placed her gently in the bassinette next to the couch.  She fussed for moment and was back asleep.  Penny took off and dropped her coat on the couch and kicked her shoes off.  She walked over slowly to the kitchen with just a little more wiggle than usual in her step.  Leonard was still smiling as he turned and her arms went around his neck.  The kiss was soft but intensified as she pulled him tighter to her.  She pulled back and turned out of his embrace but grasped his hand and tugged him toward the hallway.

“I’m not really hungry for food right now sweetie just you.”

Leonard started to speak and she shushed him, “It’s taken me years to teach you when not to talk let’s just go with that.  Tish baby monitor please.  Come on stallion.”

When the baby cried 40 minutes later Leonard unwound himself from Penny and grabbed his robe and got Matisse from the living room.  He came back in to Penny sitting propped up on the pillows under the sheets from the waist down.  Her hair was a wild mess that was very enticing.  She had a smoldering smile and a very soft look on her face.  Leonard handed her the baby and she started to feed her.  Penny looked back up at him and patted the bed beside her.

“Looks like you caught a break Hoftstader before round two.”

Leonard lay down next to her resting his head beside hers and his hand on her tummy.  “Yep I finally caught a break.”  He thought about a similar line from years ago, the first time when it was awkward.  He smiled about how comfortable and exciting it was now.  He knew she was thinking about the same moment and they both laughed.

He studied her for a moment as she looked down and rocked the baby as she suckled.

“So what gave you this quite wonderful idea?”

She looked up and gave him that crooked little grin he liked, “I thought we needed to get back to our roots.  This place and Pasadena we’re staying the weekend.  Chelsea will bring Lisel after school.  We’ll need to go shopping and figure out what we want to do but we’re doing it here.”

Leonard realized how right she was that they needed to be in this home.  Start looking at where they wanted to go now.  This was the best place to start that process.

“You’re right as usual Penny this is the best I’ve felt in weeks.”

She handed Matisse to Leonard and got out of bed.  She grabbed her bag and headed for the bathroom.  She gave him a wicked leer over her shoulder as she went by.

“Are you sure it’s just not the sex?  See if she’ll go back down for a while.  I’m going to straighten myself up.”

Leonard took the baby into the living room and rocked her gently.  She usually went back to sleep after she ate and this time was no exception.  He still held and rocked her for several more minutes just smiling down at her.  Leonard put her down gently in the bassinette and turned to the hallway to see Penny standing there.

She had on a full Wonder Woman costume with a high quality black wig and all the accessories.  In her hand was a Green Lantern costume.  She had the wicked little grin on her face.

“We’re doing New Year’s Eve over as it should have happened, come on stallion.”


Chapter 63 Subtle Possibilities

When, whether and What

Penny snuggled into Leonard on the couch in the apartment.  The baby was sleeping in her bassinette and Lisel in her bed.  They had ventured into old town Pasadena that afternoon once Chelsea had dropped off Lisel.  Ice cream was eaten, shopping was done.  The family had spent time in the park.  Lisel being pushed by her father in the swing had brought tears to Penny’s eyes.  The grocer had delivered while they were gone.  The bags against the apartment door when they returned home.

They had cooked dinner together a Thai chicken recipe that wasn’t too spicy, brown rice and steamed zucchini and squash. Dinner had been eaten off the coffee table. Afterward they had done the dishes together and settled in to watch several hours of silly cartoons with Lisel.

Penny knew Leonard was comfortable and happy at the moment.  Between the sex and family time they had both had a wonderful day.  She hesitated to ask him what had been bothering him, wondering if it would spoil their evening.  She didn’t have to ask Leonard was ready to talk.

Leonard started off very quietly.

“Honey I’m really thinking about retiring again.  It seems like I’m getting very little fulfillment from my job these last few weeks.  I sit and think about the other problems I have and it always comes back to that in the end.”

Penny hugged him tightly for a moment then just let him go on.

“You know having my mother go so quickly and unexpectedly made me think even more about it.  I haven’t found a balance since then.  Today has been the first time and even today points to the fact that my fulfillment is with you girls.  So it comes right back up why should I be doing anything else?”

Penny was silent a few moments waiting for Leonard to go on.  When he didn’t she spoke.

“Sweetie wouldn’t you miss seeing the guys every day?  How would you feel about being totally out of your life’s work?  Have you thought about going the other way and start doing experimentation again?  Could you just be another physicist working at Caltech instead of the chair?”

Leonard leaned over and kissed the top of her head. “I’m not sure I can do that it might even be considered a step backward.  I’d need to find funding and something that fired up my curiosity.  Then I know I’d get over involved with it.  As to the guys I only see them at lunch a couple of times a week.  The rest of time I have lunch meetings faculty, board members or donors.”

He stopped for a few seconds, “I could step down to teach I suppose.  I have tenure and could teach high energy and particle physics.  I could teach just a couple of classes a term, two or three days a week tops.”

Penny just continued to snuggle into him.  “Is that something you think you’d enjoy?”

Leonard shook his head, “No not really and I actually do like being the boss.  I’m not sure I could stay if I leave the chair.  There something else too.  I’m thinking about having my mother’s research and work completed.”

Penny went slightly rigid sitting up and turning to see his face.

“You’re not joking.  Why would you do that honey the protocol and research is dreadful in my humble opinion.  I may be just a Nebraskan farm girl with a high school diploma but that sounds like the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard you say.  Why would you want to finish her work?”

Leonard’s face had a small grin.

“Thank you for that vote of confidence.  I think the results of the protocol and the other children she studied are important.  I think someone else may want to try a similar protocol on their own children.  They need to know those results and conclusions.  I’m not talking about doing it myself.  I don’t believe I could but if I found a researcher to make sense of it all.  They could finish her life’s work and perhaps prevent it from happening to some other bright little kid.  Oh and what other dumb ideas have I had?”

Penny felt herself blush she’d had a brief moment of anger followed by shock earlier.  She could see he’d been spending a lot of time thinking this over.

“Well let’s see going to the North Pole with Sheldon Cooper might qualify or dating Raj’s sister.  I won’t even start on the time machine or signing a roommate agreement.”

Leonard laughed and nodded his head agreeing.

She smiled at him to lighten things up.  “How would you find a researcher and what would be involved?”

He was still smiling then got serious again.  “Finding a researcher shouldn’t be too difficult it’s really just a matter of looking at the journals and then asking a few questions.  Always judge a scientist by his work then his reputation.  Then I suppose an interview process and a review of the current state of the work.  The only real downside is that any good researcher is going to want to at least give me a full psych workup maybe even analysis.  I’m not sure I’m good with that.”

Penny snuggled back into Leonard’s shoulder.

“Okay I see you’ve thought it through, probably over thought it as well.  A little analysis might even be good for you though I think you’re the most well-adjusted idiot I’ve ever met.   It could also cause you a lot of pain honey.  Do me a favor and talk this over with Sheldon he’ll have an opinion he always does.”

Leonard smiled at her.

“Two things, why are you still just a high school graduate.  Your one of the brightest people I know you should think about going back to school when the baby’s older.  Even if it’s just to take some classes in things you might enjoy.  And two how was dating Raj’s sister a bad idea?  It may have ended badly but had certain fringe benefits.”

Penny sat up again and looked at him.  She knew exactly the look to give him.

Leonard laughed again, “Okay I’ll retract that, bad idea it was and I’ll talk to Sheldon.”

Penny smiled a soft sexy smile then snuggled back into him.

She did hope he knew what he was doing.  Penny did have one last piece of advice for him though.

“Oh and honey don’t retire until you decide what you’ll do with yourself and us.  You taught me that only if you’re happy can you make another person happy.”

Limiting Constraints

Saturday November8, 2025

Sheldon sat before the laptop on his desk reading through the material Leonard had emailed him last night.  It was the papers and journals of his friend Beverly Hoftstader.  Leonard’s email with the attached files had been clear but also rather cryptic.

“Sheldon; Attached are files of all my mother’s research and journals from her laptop.  You knew her better than anyone.  Could you look through these and let me know your thoughts on providing them to a researcher to complete?  Let me know your opinion and we can talk about it next week.

Leonard.”

Sheldon wondered what Leonard had in mind.  Did he seek to finish the work himself?  Perhaps this was a subtle way of getting Sheldon to take on the Project.  Sheldon started to read the initial protocol and hypothesis.  Amy had walked up behind him holding Maria and was reading over his shoulder.

“This is Beverly Hoftstader’s work isn’t it?  This is very edgy stuff to be trying, withholding emotional support except for academic and intellectual achievement.  The elimination or alteration of socially antiquated and non-productive social norms such as birthday celebrations, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etcetera.”

Sheldon just nodded his head and continued reading.  The goal of the protocol was to produce children that excelled academically and intellectually far beyond their peers.  There was also a certain amount of eugenics weaved in.  The offspring of two highly intelligent and educated individuals were required.  The premise being that the superior mind would rule the emotions and gain maturity at a much earlier time.

Amy shook her head, “I’m a Neurobiologist but I had some pretty intense training in psychology.  This study had it been enacted would have some major repercussions on the subjects.  It would have been interesting to see how their brains developed.”

Sheldon again just nodded his head, “It was enacted on Leonard and his siblings.  I’ve never seen the actual protocol and underlying hypothesis before.  Beverly talked about some of it with me but never with this kind of detail.  It’s fascinating Amy.”

Amy touched his shoulder very lightly.  Sheldon turned to look at her.  Amy’s face was very studious but also slightly sad.

“Sheldon this protocol would have been very cruel and damaging to the child’s sense of well-being.  Brought to its conclusion it may well have created a psychopathic personality.  Poor Leonard it’s amazing he ever had any normal relationships in his life.  It’s one thing to be the nerd but it least we had our parents love.  I’m sorry Sheldon I know you admired Beverly but this is horrific.”

Sheldon was now deep in thought going through his memory about psychology and conversations he’d had with Beverly.

“She knew it was a failure Amy.  She was constantly worried for years that Leonard was emotionally repressed.  Beverly also studied the effect of it on herself and Leonard’s father.  She became more withdrawn from both of them.  It ended in estrangement and divorce.  But the protocol and hypothesis itself are quite sound perhaps it was the implementation.   I’ll be interested to read her journals.”

Amy gave him a rather dubious look.

“Let me ask you Sheldon would you exercise this protocol on Tyler or Maria?”

Sheldon sat for a second.  He thought about his son, holding him, playing with him.  The attachment and comfort he received from those things.

“Never” was his only reply.

Amy was satisfied.

Low Tones

Penny looked in the mirror putting the final touches on her hair and makeup.  It was a lovely fall morning outside.  Leonard, Lisel and her had gotten up early and had pancakes.  Leonard had gotten out of the shower and Lisel and Penny had gotten in.  Lisel was now dressed and Penny had left her in her room playing.  She heard the music start a low soft hum it was slightly off key and stopped.  Then it was there again soft and harmonious in tune now and wonderfully melodic.  She ventured out into the living room to see Leonard playing the cello with Lisel watching intently.  Leonard had his eyes closed remembering the music as he bowed the instrument.  He finished and opened his eyes smiling at Lisel.

He looked up and over at Penny blushing slightly.

“That was lovely honey what was it?”

“Mozart’s Cello Sonata, it sounds better with more Cellos.”

Lisel was hopping from foot to foot.  “Can I try daddy, I want to play the cello.”

Leonard patted his lap and Lisel climbed up behind the instrument onto his lap.

“This instrument is a little big for you so let’s try with you doing the bow and I’ll do the fingering.  Pull the bow all the way over each string then move to the next string on the way back and we’ll play a scale.”

It took Lisel a couple of tries but she got it and a lovely scale of all four strings was produced.  Lisel put her bow down and clapped her hands.  Penny clapped also.  Leonard just sat back and smiled.

“Well that’s enough for today perhaps I’ll bring it back to the house.”

Lisel was happy.  She picked up rascal and took off down the hallway.  “I’m going to go draw a cello.”

Leonard laid the instrument gently back in its case then the bow in its holder.  Penny sat down next to him on the couch.

“What got you into a cello mood?”

Leonard looked over at her.  “When I was a kid this was one of the things my mother did encourage.  There were times over the years where it brought me a lot of comfort.  But today I really wanted to see Lisel’s reaction.  Not that I want her to be a musician but I thought it might be fun to introduce her to the only instrument I play.”

Penny leaned over and hugged him, “That’s very sweet honey, do you think she’s ready?”

“I think she should see instruments as toys that can be played with at the moment.  If she were to get serious about it then I’ll support it, perhaps the banjo or guitar next time. “

Penny giggled, “Let’s wait until the baby is older before we go for a drum set okay.”

Leonard smiled as his phone beeped.  “Sheldon’s calling me on video I was expecting an email.  Tish put this video call on the big screen please”

The screen came down from the ceiling with Sheldon and Amy both looking back at them.

Amy was first to speak, “Hi bestie, oh you guys are at the apartment having a weekend away?”

Penny just nodded as Sheldon spoke.

“Leonard; Amy and I started going through your mother’s research.  Both Amy and I need some more time to go through the journals but we both think it would be a good idea to sit down and talk about it.”

Leonard looked over at Penny and shrugged.  Penny took that as passing the decision onto her.

“Why don’t you bring the kids over this afternoon and we’ll all have dinner here in the apartment?”

Amy jumped at the invitation, “That’s sounds good let’s say 5:00PM.”

“Okay, see you then” Leonard said

Amy had one more thing to say though.  “Leonard I want you to know you’re a fine man regardless of your mother.”

Sheldon snorted and the screen went black.


Chapter 64 Reminders

Cooper Conundrum

The Cooper and Hoftstader families were just finishing up their meal.  It had consisted of spaghetti for Tyler, Sheldon and Lisel a more refined marinara clam sauce for Leonard, Penny and Amy.  Lisel had disappeared with Tyler to play in her room.  The adults had put their youngest down for naps and everyone was gathered in the living room.

Leonard sat in his chair with Penny on the arm.  Sheldon was in his old familiar spot but on a new couch with Amy next to him.  Leonard spoke first.

“Well Sheldon how does it feel to be back in your spot?”

Sheldon frowned at Leonard, “I’m not sure it’s right anymore.  The couch is different and the airflow is not the same.”  Sheldon wiggled around on the couch for moment and sighed.

“I guess it will have to do.”

Penny chuckled and looked over at Amy.  “What did you guys do with the old couch?”

Sheldon got a very sad look on his face as Amy answered.  “It’s the one in the family room we finally had to have it reupholstered in Cambridge.  Sheldon says it’s just not right now, he’s rather fond of his new armchair though.”

Sheldon suddenly go that little grin of his.  “Oh yes my new chair is wonderful and I got it sitting in just the right place in the living room.  It only took three or four days to get it right then we could put the rest of the furniture in.”

Amy rolled her eyes as Penny chuckled again.

Leonard thought there was no time like the present to get to the point.

“So you guys have started going through Beverly’s research and journals should we give it to someone to finish up?”

Amy was first to answer. “Frankly Leonard we can’t agree on that.  I’m of the opinion that we should leave it unfinished.  Put it with her papers at Princeton after sanitizing it for who the subjects were.  But Sheldon has a different view.”

Sheldon looked over at his wife rather condescendingly. “Beverly’s work is going to be very controversial but I see no need to bury it away in Princeton’s archives.  I believe there is enough of a conclusion there for it to be put into a least a paper if not a book.”

Sheldon looked back at Leonard and smiled a happy smile.  “She really did come to some conclusions about things after your work at CERN.  She was proud of your accomplishments Leonard in her way.  She wrote a journal entry in 2023 and I think her last visit was to confirm to herself that she had been correct.  You should read her work Leonard it is fascinating.”

Amy nodded in agreement now.  “I agree with Sheldon on that Leonard, parts of it may be very upsetting to you but she did draw the right conclusions.  You should read it then bury it, then salt the grave.”

Sheldon frowned back at her.  “There is no such thing as bad knowledge Amy just how it’s used.”

Leonard sat back in his chair.  He felt Penny’s arm slide around his shoulder and the warmth of her presence cheered him.

“I’ll read the journal entry from 2023 but I’m inclined to agree with Amy on the work’s fate.  I have everything I need right now.”  He reached up and rubbed Penny’s leg and looked up at her.  She smiled at him warm and caring.  He turned back to Sheldon and Amy.

“Now on to something entirely new I’m thinking of stepping down from the chair and becoming a professor emeritus at Caltech.”

Sheldon looked shocked, Amy’s mouth was hanging open.

Leonard smiled at them both.  The desired effect having been achieved he patted Penny’s leg.

“Hey let’s have some dessert.”

Changing Out Cogs

Leonard and Penny both stood up and walked toward the kitchen, Leonard talking over his shoulder as he walked.  “We have chocolate cake and coffee cheesecake what’s your pleasure?”

Sheldon immediately chimed in with chocolate, Amy cheesecake. Penny took the chocolate cake and cut 4 slices.  Leonard took the cheesecake and cut two pieces from it.  Penny took two of the plates with chocolate cake and headed down the hallway for Tyler and Lisel.  Leonard took Amy and Sheldon their dessert and returned to kitchen.  He took a bite of the cake waiting for Penny to return.  She was back a few seconds later.  They took their plates in.  This time Penny sat on the couch next to Amy and Leonard reclaimed his chair.  Leonard took several more bites then looked over at his friends.

“Well from the look on your faces you seem quite surprised I’m thinking of retiring.  Let’s hear it, what’s your opinion.”

Amy went first setting her plate on the coffee table.

“When you first mentioned it I was shocked.  I suppose I cannot think of you not being at Caltech any longer.  But as I think about it I think I understand.  You’ve done the math about how long you may live and how you want to spend your life.  When were you thinking of doing it, soon?”

Leonard nodded, “The end of the year sounds pretty good so right after Christmas.  We’re going back to Europe for a month or so anyway.”

Amy looked at Penny.  Penny face was serene a small smile on her lips.

“Penny how are you going to deal with Leonard being underfoot every day?  If Sheldon were home every day I think I’d have to go back to research.”

Penny looked over at Leonard smiling. “He hasn’t told me his plans for retirement yet, just that he’s considering it.  I agree with his reasons but he’ll need to find something to keep him busy and happy.  That’s all I ask.”

Leonard raised an eyebrow at her and gave her a slight leer.

Penny laughed and smiled again.  “You might even get bored with that after a few weeks.”

Sheldon snorted and shook his head.

“Will you two never grow up, coitus and more coitus you really should find some deeper activity to pursue.”

Now it was Amy who was shaking her head.

Penny just giggled and looked over at Sheldon.

“Well Moonpie we are raising two children, two dogs and a cat so we do have other activities.”

Leonard looked back over at Sheldon.  “What do you think Sheldon?”

Sheldon looked back at Leonard with a very serious look on his face.  “Who do you think your replacement would be Leonard?  Probably some bureaucrat who hasn’t done any real physics in years we may all be doomed“

Leonard nodded his head at Sheldon.  “It would probably be an outsider but you and Raj will be safe for five years at least.  I can’t think of anyone I would promote from within the department right now.  But to be honest I haven’t really looked very hard either.  It would be the president’s call anyway I might get to give my input but little else.”

Sheldon suddenly had panic on his face.  “What if it’s Kripke?  Oh Jesus that would be bad.”

Leonard laughed loudly and had a moment before he could stop.

“I’m sorry I just got a mental picture of Kripke giving the Physics department’s summary to the board of regents and it was too much.  No Sheldon it’s never going to be Barry Kripke or Leslie Winkle she’s happy at CERN.  I do know someone who is interested in coming to Caltech though.  She was away for a few years but she’s back now you may remember her Sheldon. Dr. Elizabeth Plimpton from Princeton apparently she’s dealt with her nymphomania problems and is back to work.  She very interested in Raj and your research.  It is her field after all.”

Leonard looked over to Penny whose mouth was now hanging open.  “You mean Professor Slut Bag.  Oh no. You’re not going to retire now Leonard. We have to protect Caltech.”

Leonard was enjoying this far too much.

“I don’t think her past would lend itself to the position but she interested in joining the faculty.  I’ve told her we’d consider it.  She really is quite brilliant you know she’s just got a few loose bricks in her wall.”

Penny still didn’t look quite at ease with that but slowly the look on her face changed.  She got it.  She knew he was pulling Sheldon’s chain and yanking hers was just a benefit.  She gave him the wolfish grin and starting eating her cheesecake again. Amy had been quiet this whole time.  The entire Dr. Plimpton scenario happened before she met Sheldon.  She looked over at Penny questioningly.

“I’ll tell you about it later sweetie, children might come in the room” Penny said to her then gave Leonard a sneer.

Leonard looked at them all.  He had one more thing to break to them.  He hoped it would go over a little better.

“I have been thinking about one other small venture I’d like to do.  I was thinking of investing a little capital in a comic and memorabilia store.  Seems Stuart as usual is getting strapped for cash and is looking for a couple of not so silent partners. A figured if we helped him clean up and modernize the place.  Maybe even advertise it might help.  I’m pretty sure we’d never get the investment back but it would help a friend?”

Sheldon was very excited, Amy not so much.  He looked over at Penny who just smiled at him and nodded yes.

Sheldon could contain himself no longer.  “That would mean we get first pick on all the new releases and anything coming into the store.  Goody, it’s a wonderful Idea.”

Amy nodded her head slowly looking a Leonard. “It’s an investment for the loss correct?  Then we could write it off over the next few years?”

Leonard smiled at the neurobiologist and nodded yes.

Amy smiled and looked at Sheldon.  “I guess were in then, how much?”

“You tell me what you want to put in.  I’ll talk to Howard and Raj then we’ll put together some kind of partnership for it.  The lawyers and accountants can figure out the details and let us know.”

It’s not the Words

The Coopers headed out when it was close to 8:00PM after talking more about the comic book store.  At 8:30PM Leonard had got Lisel off to bed while Penny fed Matisse.  It was close to 9:00PM when Leonard sat down on the couch with a scotch and his mother’s laptop.  Penny emerged from the hallway as he opened the laptop.  She could see he was hesitant.

Penny sat next to him on the couch and put her arm around him for change.

“You want to read it together? “

Leonard nodded and opened the document and went to the journal entry Sheldon had recommended.

August 2023

Subject LH has returned from Europe.  The loss of his spouse has not made him reach out to his family for comfort or assurance as predicted.  This would bode badly for the level of trust he has within his own extended family unit.  The protocol most likely is the deciding factor in this behavior.  The subject has no trust in his own family for emotional structure.  His siblings treated similarly have shown the same reluctance.  In this regard the protocol is a failure though some further research is required.

The subject did successfully maintain and apparently flourished in a relationship with his deceased spouse.  He has though regressed from aggressively pursuing his career and field of expertise.  The subject’s new position is a department chairman at a large technical university on the west coast.  He also now has a child from the marriage to support and care for. This may well prevent him from making further strides in his field.

The subject excelled before the death of his wife in his field of endeavor.  This is easily explained though he was always the most gifted of the three subjects and the favorite of his parents when he was young.  It is remarkable that all the bonds of that relationship have been broken and strained.  The subject’s mother is quite over wrought considering that the protocol has produced this result.  We shall see if the subject can again form a loving relationship with another spouse.

In the opinion of the researcher the protocol should end upon the subject’s next marriage or permanent attachment.

Penny sat back and looked over at Leonard.

“She was here to end it.  Beverly was here to talk to you about it and end it.  She never got the chance.”

Leonard leaned forward and put the laptop on the coffee table.  He leaned back and away from Penny so he could see her face.

He looked sad but not teary or angry.

“She couldn’t end it Penny.  The experiment she chose destroyed the sample.  Amy’s right this is going to get buried in the archives but this entry is going to be the first thing in the catalog summary.  The sad part is it’s not the words she wrote but how she wrote, so detached even when she spoke of herself.”

Penny leaned over and hugged him.  She couldn’t think of what to say to him.  In the end she just held him.

He pulled back and smiled at her.  “Well at least were going to be part owners of a comic book store.”

She stood and offered her hand to him.  “Come on caped crusader let’s go to the bat cave for some us time.  I’ll see if I can channel Professor Plimpton for you.”

“Tish night time lighting”

“Yes Leonard”


Chapter 65 The Epilogue Thread

Decisions and Plans

November 27 2025 Thanksgiving Day or Anything Can Happen Thursday

Penny looked over the guest list one more time.

The Coopers 4
The Koothrappalis 5
The Wolowitzs 3
Mindy
Sheila
Chelsea
Stuart
The Hoftstaders 4

She shook her head, twenty people for dinner well 3 were babies.  They were having it catered with a large banquet table set up in the great room.  Penny was both excited and nervous about her first thanksgiving as a family.  She should say with their large extended family.  Leonard was going to announce his retirement and she had some news of her own to add.  Lisel was going to play her new small cello for the group.  A round robin of Halo was planned and other games for the children.  But it was “Anything can happen Thursday” and it usually did.

Penny checked on the baby who was sleeping soundly in her bassinette.  She looked around for Leonard and saw he was in his spot staring at the fireplace.  He had a cup of tea in his hand and his tablet sitting on his lap.  Penny thought it was time to break the news to him.  She walked over and curled her 5’5” frame onto the couch and into his shoulder.  He must have heard her coming he had raised his arm and knew right where she’d end up.  Penny leaned over and kissed his cheek softly.

He looked over at her and stared into her eyes.  She loved looking deeply into his big brown peepers.  They had that soft feeling look today like he’d been sentimental about something.  She decided to start with the usual line.  “Whatcha thinking about?”

Leonard gave her the smile it still made her heart flutter.

“Do you realize in 26 more days it will be the one year anniversary of when we found each other again.  I really should have Sheldon calculate the odds but I think fate is still the right word.  We should do something on that day it’ll come to me I suppose.”

Penny smiled her crooked little smile at him.  “There you are over thinking it again.  So are you going to tell me what your plans are after we get back from Europe?”

Leonard looked back at the fire.

“I might as well give you the whole itinerary I suppose.  On December 26th we take the jet to Omaha so you can tip some cows and visit your family for a week or so.”

At this point Penny elbowed him sharply, he feigned injury they both laughed and he went on.

“Then we’re off to Geneva and we’ll drop Lisel and the baby with Lena and Horst.  Lena is so excited to have Matisse.  Then we are going for sunshine in Mykonos for a week.  After that I’m leaving it up to you.  We can go to Rome, Athens, back to Paris all three if you like.  When you’re ready to come home we will.”

Penny looked at him for a moment then she had an Idea.

“Leonard is their some place you haven’t been you’d like to go.  Some place we could experience for the first time together?”

Leonard just looked at her with the smile, “I’ve always wanted to see the Pyramids how about Egypt?”

Penny was satisfied now they could have an adventure all of their own.

“So what is the Professor Emeritus going to do when he returns from our little world tour?”

Leonard gave her a wicked little grin.

“Well I’m going to help Stuart at the comic book store occasionally.  That is until I need to take care of the kids while you’re making your movie”

Penny’s mouth was hanging open.  She hadn’t told him they were going to make a movie from her TV show.  It would be about where her character was now in life after the show had ended.  She was committed to it by contract and she was looking forward to playing the role again.  Production was set to start in mid-July.

She finally closed her mouth and gave him the wolfish grin.

“How did you know?”

Leonard chuckled unafraid of the grin now.

“Oh I keep up on the entertainment news.  I am married to a star seems to be a reasonable thing to do.”

Penny dug the nails of her right hand into his sides. He jumped.

“Okay Chelsea told me she was very excited about it.  I haven’t told anyone else.”

Penny snuggled back into his shoulder.

“You don’t mind it’s going to be pretty hectic for a month or two, but it’s all being shot here I’ll be home every night.”

Leonard ran his hand up her side and cupped her breast for a moment.

“That’s good to know though you’ll probably be too tired and cranky to be good company.”

Penny ran her hand up his chest.

“I’m never that tired”

The epilogue

The guests came and dinner was served.  Lisel played Mozart on the cello to resounding applause from the family.  Penny won the Halo round robin.  No one was surprised.

At the end of the evening Penny and Leonard lay entwined under their comforter.  Neither had yet put their pajamas or boxer’s back on.  Leonard looked over at Penny.

Her green eyes shined in the moonlight coming through the patio doors.

“I love you Penny”

“Thank you”

“I love you too”

Leonard kept staring into her eyes, “How did we get so lucky”

Penny smiled back at him, “It all started with a snowflake”

Adieu

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