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“You would think that they would know that a physicist’s most important tool, aside from his mind, is his hands,” Sheldon grumbles, pointlessly rattling the chain that has him tethered to the frame of the bed.

Leonard refrains from commenting. It would be futile; it’s the fifth time that Sheldon has said it, and Leonard has run out of responses. And it’s only been an hour since they woke up. They’ve already exhausted other avenues of conversation, like commenting on the lack of door into the room, or at least the apparent lack of door given that the walls are all draped in fabric.

“Penny will never be able to afford the ransom for both of us. Maybe just you, if she’s been heavily tipped this week.”

“Do you really want to be antagonistic when we’re chained to each other?” Leonard raises his left hand, which is cuffed to Sheldon’s right. The thick leather cuffs look more like something out of a fetishist’s toybox than anything designed for everyday restraint. They don’t have any kind of quick-release mechanism, though; he’s checked. Besides, he’s pretty sure quick-release cuffs are usually more along the lines of pink leopard-print fluff, not what is admittedly quite comfortable padded black leather.

“I’m merely stating that if their demands are based around intrinsic intelligence–”

“Will you shut up and see if you can physics our way out of this?” Leonard’s right hand is unchained, which is good, because if Sheldon doesn’t shut up he’s going to punch him.

Sheldon huffs a sigh at him and rolls onto his side to examine – again – the chain between himself and the bedframe. Leonard, dragged by the much shorter cuffs between them, ends up sort of spooned against his back. Subtract the bondage and lower the temperature about sixty degrees, and it would be the Arctic all over again. Except this time there’s much more clothing involved, a fact for which he is devoutly grateful.

“I can’t see over the edge properly, and it goes under the bed,” Sheldon says. “If I get off the bed...”

“Hold on, you’ll pull my arm off.” Leonard very, very carefully clambers over Sheldon and plants his feet on the floor. “Now stand up.”

Sheldon gets up gingerly and immediately crouches to look under the bed, pulling Leonard along with him. They groan in unison; the chain is looped around the frame, under the mattress, that part is fine, but then it continues down through a hole in the floor.

“So, we can’t take apart the other end of this chain,” Leonard thinks aloud, settling on the smooth wooden floor with his back against the bed. “Can you get that cuff off?”

“I’ve tried, but I can’t quite – the metacarpal at the base of my thumb precludes sufficient flexion in order to simply pull free, and they’ve made the cuff quite secure, although not so tight as to cause any circulatory damage.” Sheldon pulls back from peering under the bed and sits cross-legged beside Leonard.

“Yeah, I think my hand’s too big too.” Leonard rolls his eyes. He lifts his hand; Sheldon’s comes with it. “There’s no visible keyhole, and we don’t have anything to pick it with even if there was.”

“And neither of us know how to pick locks.”

“That too. Are you sure you can’t get your hand out?”

Sheldon tucks his thumb against his palm, braces the cuff on his knee, and pulls. The leather gives a little, and he can get it a little past his wrist, but then it stalls against the unyielding flesh at the base of his thumb. He says nothing, only wiggles his hand at Leonard as if to say, “See?”

Leonard has already made his own attempts at freeing himself from the cuff on his side, but he tries one more time, with Sheldon’s hand steadying his. No luck.

“If we were at home I’d have lube or something,” he mutters.

“If we were at home, we’d just yell until Penny came and found us. She’d laugh, but she’d have a way to get us out.”

Leonard is reasonably certain Penny would demand some sort of humiliating tax to release them – Instagramming the situation comes to mind – but keeps his own counsel.

“Hmmm,” Sheldon says, rattling a little.

“What have you found?”

“I think you’d better look for yourself.” Sheldon’s voice is strained. He passes a small box to Leonard. The box has a pretty blue ribbon hanging off it. The blue matches the curtains that drape the walls. The contents match the leather cuffs: lube and condoms specifically designed for anal sex. (It says so on the respective packets.) There’s also a neatly folded blindfold, two pairs of latex gloves, a small but sharp pair of scissors, what Leonard believes is a cock ring, and a box of breath mints. Super fresh. He hates super fresh. He’s also not 100% sure how he feels about the implication that one or the other of them is supposed to be fucking the other, but it’s easier to focus on the breath mints.

“Can we try yelling now?” Sheldon asks, but Leonard is way ahead of him.


They’re back on the bed some time later, carefully arranged to keep the maximum possible space between them. Leonard is still very aware of Sheldon’s hand brushing against his every so often, and is still trying to think about the breath mints.

“Who do you think is behind this?” Sheldon asks, rolling awkwardly to face Leonard.

“What?”

“Well, neither of us is a heavy sleeper. You’d think we’d have noticed being kidnapped and tied to a strange bed. There must be some sort of drug involved.”

“If it were just you here I’d assume Amy finally snapped.”

Sheldon seems to be seriously considering the suggestion. “I wouldn’t put it past her. She can be crafty. But that doesn’t explain... well... the box.”

“You don’t say.”

Even King Oblivious gets the sarcasm this time.

“A stupid Wolowitz prank?” Sheldon suggests a couple of minutes later.

“Yeah... it’s his style.”

“That means our freedom is contingent upon something.”

Neither of them looks at the box, because it’s back under the bed. They both pointedly look elsewhere, which means their gazes end up locked right back on each other.

“Howard,” Leonard says, “this is hilarious and the best prank ever, but we’re not–”

“Maybe he just wants us to think we have to,” Sheldon interrupts him. “Maybe some lesser interaction, something he can photograph and threaten to distribute at work, will suffice.”

“What–”

And then Sheldon’s kissing him.

Sheldon is a step or two up from being a totally terrible kisser. His free hand cradles Leonard’s cheek, which is intimate and sweet, but his mouth doesn’t seem to know what exactly it’s doing. Leonard coaxes Sheldon’s lips apart with his tongue, and Sheldon jumps and hums when Leonard’s tongue presses slick against his. Leonard’s own free hand finds its way to the back of Sheldon’s neck. Sheldon’s hand copies the movement and for a long slow Mississippi or five they’re clinging to each other, lips moving and adjusting. Leonard notices that Sheldon’s lips are a little rough under his; maybe he bites them? They're soft though, the lower lip full and warm, and he catches it between his lips.

Sheldon pulls back and for a shorter Mississippi – maybe just a Maine – he looks like he wants to repeat the experience. It’s long enough for Leonard to notice that his eyes match the ribbon on the box, or maybe the other way around. Then his expression smooths over and is all business.

“I hope that was sufficient, Wolowitz. Don’t expect a repeat performance.”

Leonard is trying to deal with the fact that he’s at least half hard, and rationalizing it away as the whole lying down and making out thing, it’s just a Pavlovian response, but he’s not so caught up in a brief moment of gay panic that he doesn’t hear what sounds distinctly like a feminine giggle coming from behind the curtains.

“Sheldon. Sheldon. Help me get up.” (This time there is a distinct snort of laughter.) “There’s someone watching us.”

“Of course there is, haven’t you ever noticed Wolowitz’s penchant for voyeurism?”

“No, I think it’s a woman.” Leonard gets up on his knees and starts pulling at the curtains behind the head of the bed. “Oh. It’s just wall.”

“One-way glass?” Sheldon suggests.

Leonard smacks it with his fist. This may or may not be the reason that the voice, a hollow genderless monotone that cannot be anything other than digitally created, begins to speak.

Hello, Leonard and Sheldon. You like games, don’t you? Here’s one for you: figure out which time sink of a website has inspired your current predicament, show us a satisfactory answer as to what that has to do with why you’re here, and we’ll let you go. Ignore these instructions, and you’ll stay imprisoned forever.

You have sixty seconds. Live or die. Make your choice.

A digital readout appears on the wall, counting down smugly.

“Sixty seconds!” Leonard desperately wishes his asthma inhaler had been in the box as well.

“Wikipedia? Facebook?” Sheldon suggests.

“YouTube? Something to do with being tied up... porn? Porn websites?”

“No, think about it... inexplicably tied together... it’s a cliché...”

“Yes, from porn!”

Sheldon rolls his eyes at Leonard’s inability to instantly find the situation-specific synonym. “It’s a genre-specific trope!”

“Oh! TV Tropes!”

But the counter doesn’t stop. It turns from red to orange, but they still have thirty-five seconds and are apparently missing part of the answer.

“Leonard, were we wrong?”

“We have to explain why that means we’re here!”

“To resign ourselves to coitus?”

“You’re the one who reads the website, what’s it actually called?”

“Fuck or die!” Sheldon immediately turns pink.

The clock turns yellow, with twenty-five seconds remaining.

“But we have to show them!” Leonard nearly wails. “Twenty-five seconds isn’t enough!”

Sheldon draws him back down onto the bed, slips his tongue delicately between Leonard’s lips, and strokes Leonard with his free hand through his chinos. Leonard gasps and pushes blindly into Sheldon’s hand. It’s totally the wrong hand and the wrong angle and the wrong person, and.

He comes anyway. He’s not sure what the timer is on when he does – he’s not thinking that clearly – but when he finally gets it together enough to look, the countdown has reached zero – and it’s a friendly green.

“Oh my God,” he says unsteadily.

“Honestly, Leonard, do you have no self-control?”

Well done. You passed the test.

“Great. Let us go.”

The voice, as impossible as it seems for a computer-generated voice to sound at all emotional, seems amused. Come now, Leonard, what sort of gamer stops after just the first level?

“Oh,” says Leonard.

“TV Tropes does have quite a number of pages that potentially relate to our current circumstances,” says Sheldon, a little too knowledgeably for Leonard’s liking.

“What do you want?” Leonard yells at the blank wall.

A small vent folds open in the wall. Leonard stares at it uncomprehendingly. A puff of purple dust issues forth, scattering over both of them. Leonard sneezes. Sheldon also sneezes, and then looks at Leonard in the way that he usually reserves for his whiteboard.

“I think that was...”

“Sex pollen,” Leonard finishes, resigned to the fact that he’s getting hard again.

Sheldon sneezes again. “I believe I’m beginning to experience pon farr.”

Leonard just sighs and drapes himself over a suddenly very tactile Sheldon to reach the box under the bed.