Chapter One: Stuart
"Thanks for letting me crash here for a while, Raj," Stuart Bloom said to his host, Rajesh Koothrappali, his best friend in this dimension. Stuart was a comic book store owner, and ever since his store burnt down in a terrible fire, Stuart had been technically homeless. He stayed at Debbie Wolowitz's home for a few months, but when she died and her son Howard Wolowitz inherited her house, his stay was obviously unwelcome. When Howard finally put his foot down and kicked Stuart out, Raj had immediately offered him a place to stay, as he was recently single, and struggling with loneliness.
"It's no trouble. I love having opportunities to cook, and it's hard to cook a gourmet meal for one," Raj replied with a sad smile. Ever since he left Emily, he had been really upset, and Stuart hated to see him like that. Stuart knew the pain of heartbreak too well, and didn't want Raj to have to go through that. If there was only some way to make him feel better.............
Stuart snapped out of his little world and sputtered, "Yeah, sorry, what did I do?"
"You didn't do anything. You were just zoning out, and you didn't respond to my question about what you wanted for dinner tonight." Raj looked amused at Stuart's reaction, which Stuart admitted was a bit funny.
"Oh. Well, whatever you feel like is fine. I'll eat practically anything."
Stuart thought Raj was an excellent cook, and didn't want to discourage any of his creative recipes, which were always delicious. Stuart took his duffel bag over to the spare bedroom, and started putting his meager collection of clothing into the drawers of the hickory dresser. It was funny, Raj's spare bedroom was better furnished than Stuart's last three apartments put together. That was probably because Raj had a thing for interior design, whereas Stuart just put whatever fit wherever worked. He really wasn't very particular about anything but his shop, and even then he got most of his designing tips from Raj. Raj did most of the things that required finesse in Stuart's life. Raj planned all of the holiday parties at the store, helped Stuart redecorate the store when Debbie supplied him with the finances to rebuild and reopen. Through all of Stuart's difficulties, Raj had been there for him, and had kept him company after Debbie's death, even though it angered Howard beyond belief. Howard had always been against Stuart's relationship with his mother, quite understandably. It was hard to see your mother giving more attention to one of your friends than she did you. Stuart knew how it felt on a personal level, and though he never shared it with his friends, his mother had never loved him, and left all of her property to his best friend when she died when Stuart was fifteen. It had hurt him so much when-- no. He wasn't going to think about that now. Stuart had moved on with his life, and had begun a new chapter, hopefully. If Stuart could get a second job, he would be able to move out of Raj's apartment and into a small one bedroom apartment in the next two months or so. Or, at least, he hoped. He didn't want to impose upon Raj too much, and he certainly didn't want Raj to catch on to his secret. He wasn't quite sure he wanted people to know yet, but he certainly did NOT want Raj to find out before he was certain it wasn't all in vain.......