Disclaimer: I do not own The Big Bang Theory, the characters, nor the fabulous actors who portray them. Which is a shame really, because they would have a LOT more fun if I did.
A/N This follows immediately after "Sheldon's list."
Sheldon didn't usually care about the way Leonard's mind worked. But now that he gave the matter his attention, he thought that he was able to understand it. Thus he constructed his plan. The first step was to return to the apartment, in a bit of a huff.
"What's wrong?" Leonard asked, not certain that he wanted to know, but knew that he was obligated to ask.
"Penny is willfully disregarding my carefully structured criteria for her to select the 'perfect' mate." He even did the air quotes at perfect. "It's as if she doesn't understand that I have used my considerable intellect to create the algorithm and subsequent list." He sighed.
"Perfect mate? Sheldon, why would …? You know what, never mind why. How did you arrive at this list?"
Sheldon pointed to his whiteboard where the algorithm still resided. "Based on my knowledge of Penny, I fed her characteristics and requirements into the formula, and arrived at this." He brandished the list.
Sheldon hesitated. "Of course," he said finally, and he handed the list over to Leonard.
Leonard scanned the list and his eyebrows rose at a few of them. He couldn't actually disagree with any of them, and looked at Sheldon with a little surprise. "Huh, I had no idea that you paid this much attention to Penny."
"Pay attention." Sheldon scoffed. "She harps about the flaws of her Neanderthal boyfriends ad nauseum. How much attention do you think I need to pay?"
Leonard nodded, satisfied. He reread the list.
Sheldon casually watched Leonard from his spot on the sofa. Leonard may not have an IQ of 187, but he was certainly intelligent enough to come to the same conclusion that Penny had; that Sheldon met all the criteria.
Leonard gave a little laugh. "Huh, you know who meets all of these?" He asked with a smirk.
"Who?" Sheldon asked displaying a complete lack of interest.
Leonard looked at his tall friend, and remembered the day the two of them had met Penny. She had gone to Sheldon's board, clearly impressed. And Sheldon, well, if he'd been any other man, Leonard would have sworn he'd been flirting with Penny. Leonard looked again at the list. "No one you know," he said finally, giving into his darker instinct.
Sheldon perked up. "Someone who meets the criteria? Might this individual be available for Penny to interview as a potential mate?" He could be off the hook. He wasn't convinced that adding a romantic, let alone sexual component to his life was something that he wanted.
Leonard thought quickly. "Well, he's not really tall."
"Oh," Sheldon responded with disappointment.
"You seem awfully vested in this."
Sheldon's blue eyes were sincere as he replied, "Penny is my friend and deserves to be happy. You want her to be happy, don't you?"
"Well, yeah, but I didn't come up with an algorithm for her."
"Someone clearly had to, as she is woefully random in her selection process."
"True enough." Leonard concurred. Eventually she would realize that Leonard was her best choice. And in the meantime, no list of Sheldon's was going to get very far with Penny, who epitomized fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. "Well, Penny isn't going to listen unless she wants to. And it doesn't sound like she wants to." Leonard couldn't keep the smug grin off of his face.
Sheldon looked at him in surprise, and just a little disappointment. "Sadly, Penny does seem to favor learning the 'hard' way. Perhaps she'll come around eventually."
"I wouldn't count on it."
"No, I won't."
Sheldon had expected better of Leonard. Now that he realized that Leonard was trying to inhibit Penny finding someone who could make her happy, he would have to revise his plan accordingly. It also made Sheldon more resolved that Penny would find someone. Even if that someone had to be himself. Leonard would not thwart the plan.
He chose not to tell Penny, as her friendship with Leonard was tenuous these days, and Sheldon absolutely did not want them to argue. The mere thought of one of their altercations made him shudder. Oddly, his own quarrels with Penny didn't bother him. He knew that he was not capable of harming her, and she wasn't really trying to harm him. Irritate him, yes, harm him, no.
It struck him then, that Penny, as substandard as her measurable IQ might be, would never harm him intentionally. She would never have skewed his results from the Arctic, even had she known how to do so. When she "came after him" (to use the vernacular), it was a metaphoric frontal attack. If she had found his behavior unacceptable, instead of sneaking behind his back, and trying to keep him pacified, she'd have approached him, told him that she had an issue with his actions, and the two of them would have solved the issue; one way or another.
He didn't respect a lot of people. He did respect Penny. Not her intellect of course, but she had honor, and he found that admirable. He could trust her; it would never have occurred to her to betray him in the manner that his more intelligent colleagues had. Sheldon had found himself wondering why he hadn't fought Penny's supposition that he "fit" her more than he had. Another piece of the puzzle slid into place. He respected her, trusted her, and admired her honor. This was in addition to the other positive qualities that she possessed: the fact that she was already part of his social group; her skill at Halo, paintball, and bowling, her nurturing nature when he was ill, and how that translated into maternal instinct for her potential offspring, her warmth, and attractiveness; not just externally, but internally. The fact that she would never "knuckle-under" to him, and the fact that neither would he to her, no matter how attractive she might be. Sheldon realized then, that Penny wasn't just his friend; he liked her. He liked so many of her qualities, far many more than he disliked.
Over the next several days, Sheldon's fertile imagination led to many heavily thought out plans, none of which worked. Until Leonard stopped listening to his own ego in this matter, and put Penny's needs first, there was no catalyst that Sheldon could introduce to make Leonard suggest that Sheldon date Penny.
In the end it was Penny, with the ruthless cunning Sheldon associated with foxes, who brought Leonard onboard.
She murmured quickly in Sheldon's ear when she arrived at their apartment for Halo night. "Don't get upset, I'm going to try my plan; Leonard and I won't really be fighting. Okay?"
All he had time to do was nod, before the others noticed that something was afoot. And then he watched in near awe as Penny, she of the lesser IQ than Leonard, manipulated him into a quarrel about her dating habits and Sheldon's list. Leonard made an ill-advised comment about her choices, and Penny let him have it. "It's not up to you, Leonard, who I date. I could date anyone … absolutely anyone, and wouldn't be any of your damn business. Hell, I could date Sheldon, and it would still be none of your business."
Leonard's face got red. "Yeah, well go ahead. You should date Sheldon. He met all the criteria on that damned list anyway. In fact, you know what…I dare you. Take Sheldon 'I look down on you lesser mortals' Cooper on a date. And hey, good luck with it."
"Fine!" Penny kept the triumph out of her voice. "Sheldon, wear something nice, 'cause we're going out." And she shot him her patented Penny glare that wilted lesser men.
Sheldon's chin came up, and he played his part perfectly. "That's insane on the face of it." He stated, Texas twang very much in evidence.
"You heard Leonard, he dared me, and it was your damn list. According to him, you meet all of the bullet points. So pick me up at 6, and wear something other than plaid." And she stormed out of the apartment, leaving the men there in varying degrees of shock.
Leonard didn't understand what had happened, Raj was so badly frightened that he fled to the bathroom, Howard wondered if he was next in the rota as the other guys had dated Penny, and Sheldon could only marvel at her ingenuity and execution. "Well played," he thought to himself. "Well played, indeed."