Sheldon's leg twitched, jerking him awake. He was lying on his bed, naked and prone, Amy's hips still locked to his. His cock was still inside of her, and he groaned at the feel of sticky, hot liquid dripping off it and down his thigh. His body ached in an unfamiliar way. They'd had nights of passionate love making, but the bottle of champagne that Amy had talked him into last night must have led to more athletic sex than normal. He couldn't remember anything past the second glass. His nipples were so sore that he was sure they'd been bitten off. He didn't like it. It worried him that he liked light nips, and it pleased him to know that he had limits as to how much biting was tolerable. His skin was cold and he shifted to pull Amy on top of him and massage his aching chest.
Only he couldn't move.
Sheldon's eyes shot open, the haze of weariness and hangover cleared by the blaring alarm bells of danger. His hands were tied together, drawn over his head, and secured to the bed frame. Sheldon jerked his body sideways, only to find his feet similarly bound, tied at the knees and ankles, secured to the foot of the bed. His breath hitching in his throat; he twisted and writhed, but the bonds dug deep into his already bruised wrists.
Amy groaned and smacked his chest hard, hitting his bruised and sore torso. Why? Why had she tied him up? Why had he allowed it? Tears welled in his eyes, but he bit back any cries of anguish. A lifetime of mistreatment at the hands of bullies had taught him it would only make things worse. He could suffocate, choking on his own mucus and tears. Pain was everywhere. If Amy had done this to him, he couldn't trust her to help—couldn't trust her to understand. Dropping his head to the pillow, he closed his eyes and retreated to the back recesses of his brain where the sound of Richard Feynman lectures drowned out all the pain and fear.
Amy's body screamed in pain, but she tried to ignore it. It was worse that UTI or kidney stones, and it was somewhere down there, between her belly and her knees. Sometimes, it shot all the way down to her toes and up to her neck. If she stayed perfectly still, it wouldn't hurt, but she could feel the stick of sweat and sex all over her skin, and knew Sheldon would freak out if he stayed that sticky for too long. The way his chest quaked, he was probably already freaking out and trying nobly not to wake her. She tried to rub his chest soothingly, but her limbs were heavy and unresponsive after their night of heavy drinking.
"Too early," she moaned, flopping onto her back, freeing him to go shower if he was going to be such a baby about it. The impact on her backside sent fire up her spine and she cried out in pain. Her stomach churned, but she didn't think she could make it to the toilet. Something inside her was torn and bleeding.
Oh god, oh god, oh god! Steeling her nerves against panic and fighting nausea, she lifted her head, trying to gauge whether she could sit. Then she saw her lover.
"Sheldon," she gasped. His body was covered with bite marks and bruises, and his hands and feet were bound. There was blood smeared across his hips, and she feared that most of it was hers. Quickly, she reached up to untie his hands, but the simple act of moving consumed her with blinding pain and her fingers fumbled against the knot she'd made with her nylons. As soon as she ripped his hands loose, Sheldon sat up and freed his legs. Then he bolted out the door, naked, not saying a word and not looking back.
"Sheldon?" she called, trying to follow him. Her legs barely seemed to work, and when she tried to stand, she got dizzy and collapsed on the floor. "Sheldon! Help! Somebody, help!"
Leonard had borrowed Sheldon's noise canceling headphones when the two of them started getting rowdy last night. Then the walls started shaking, so he'd gone over to Penny's place and slept there. Penny had an early call time for a commercial shoot, and Leonard had walked her to her car. It was only by chance that he heard Amy screaming for help and when he tipped open the door, he could tell she was in the bedroom. If this was a sex game, he was going to kill them.
"Amy?" Leonard called, giving her a chance to warn him off if they were playing Batman.
"Leonard? In here! Help. Help, help," she cried, her pleas breaking into pained sobs.
Leonard couldn't hear Sheldon at all and wondered if maybe the wild sex had finally killed him (as he'd occasionally worried it might). Amy was lying on the floor, a blood-stained sheet pulled over her naked, trembling body. First aid training taking over, Leonard dropped to his knees, checking her airway, breathing, and circulation.
"Am I still bleeding?" she asked, worrying the blanket in her hands and pressing it to her eyes to catch the tears. "It hurts."
"I don't know. Maybe. We'll get you to the hospital," Leonard said consolingly, brushing her hair, wondering if he should call an ambulance. He didn't want to look under the sheet to see where the blood was coming from. Maybe Sheldon could do that. "Where's Sheldon?"
Amy shook her head, half-shrugging.
Panicking, Leonard ran to the window first, looking out and making sure Sheldon's remains weren't splattered on the pavement. "Sheldon!" he hollered, tearing through the apartment, searching for his friend. "Sheldon!"
Bursting into the bathroom, he found Sheldon huddled on the floor, naked and covered with dried blood and dark bruises. Leonard recognized the tears—he'd been bullied and beaten enough to know their flavor by heart. Had someone broken into their apartment and attacked these two?
"How badly are you hurt?" Leonard asked, tugging at Sheldon's wrists, trying to see. Sheldon screeched at the contact and shook violently, digging the heels of his hands into his eyes. His wrists were bruised and the skin rubbed raw. "Sheldon, we have to get Amy to the hospital. I need you to come with me. You should get checked out too."
Leonard was scared to death, but there was no time to wait for help to arrive. He was the help, and he'd be there for his friends.
Penny went straight from her set to the hospital. They weren't finished shooting, but she'd said "family emergency" and took off. She may never work in this town again for pulling a stunt like that, but Leonard and Sheldon were like brothers to her, and Amy was closer than a little sister. They were more than family to her.
Leonard met her outside of Amy's hospital room, and she hugged him hard, wanting to impart as much of her strength to him as possible before full knowledge of the situation zapped it away. Amy slept on the hospital bed, in the austere white room. Her face was pale and the IV attached to her arm dripped clear fluid, like someone had sucked all the color out of life. She lay on her side, a vomit bowl next to her pillow just in case.
Sheldon squatted in the corner, wearing a bathrobe and pajama bottoms, tugging the roots of his hair and scratching his face. Since he was awake, Penny approached him first.
"Sheldon, sweetie?" she cradled his cheek, trying to keep him from scratching his eyes out. He fell forward onto his knees so hard she thought they'd crack, and he rested his face against her chest. Penny had never known Sheldon to be open to physical contact like that, but she wrapped her arms around him and gave him an encouraging squeeze.
That was the wrong move.
Sheldon jerked away from her, scrambling back until he hit the wall. "Don't hurt me."
"No one's going to hurt you, Sheldon. Do you want me to take you home?"
"I can't go home," Sheldon whimpered, covering his face and bursting into tears.
"What the hell happened?" Penny asked, backing away from Sheldon since she was making things worse, not better.
"From what I can ascertain, a bottle of champagne, light bondage, and anal sex," Leonard answered. He pointed uncertainly to Amy. "The doctor said it was, um… torn."
Penny's jaw dropped. "Okay. That explains the freaking out. Have they said anything to each other?"
Leonard shook his head. "Amy passed out while they were stitching her up and Sheldon has been like this since I found them. It was all I could do to get him into clothes. He won't let the doctor check him out, which is unusual, because you know how he gets about his health."
"I guess calling his mother is out," Penny said, crossing her arms. When Sheldon was broken, that was the go to solution, but Mrs. Cooper didn't know her son was having sex, and this probably wasn't the best way for her to find out. "What about Amy? Should we call someone?"
"She just asked for you," Leonard shrugged.
Amy stirred and Sheldon jumped to his feet. He was shaking inside and out, overwhelmed by emotions that he didn't understand. A part of him was terrified to go near her, and another part yearned for the comfort that only she could give.
"You hurt me," he accused, his voice trembling. His vision had tunneled to the point where he saw only her face. The blood on his cheek created smears of red at the edge of his vision.
"You hurt me," she returned, her voice dull and bitter.
"You tied me up."
"You tore me a new one."
Sheldon's jaw flapped. He hated himself for hurting her like that. He'd become a monster, worse than Darth Vader. She made him do things; made him concede to things. She'd manipulated him into drinking last night, begging with her seductive eyes and doing that thing to his ear that made him compliant to any suggestion.
"This is your fault!" he screeched as the realization struck him, pushing her so hard she nearly rolled out of the hospital bed. "This is your fault! You gave me alcohol! Is this what you wanted? Is this what you wanted!"
He pushed her again, screaming at the top of his lungs. "I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!" Her face flushed and she shouted back, but he couldn't hear her words through his anger. Cocking his fist, he charged forward, but strong arms held him back. Strong arms and gentle words.
"Sheldon," Leonard said in his ear. "Sheldon, you don't want to do this."
Didn't want to do what? Kill everyone! Sheldon's vision blurred with tears, and he backed down when Penny jumped defensively between him and Amy. "I hate you!" he screamed over and over, scratching at his skin, trying to peel off the layer that was covered with Amy.
Leonard brought Sheldon home, but he was starting to think that was a bad idea. Sheldon didn't want to go in his room and Leonard couldn't blame him. They sat together by the window for awhile. Leonard got Sheldon working on science, writing equations on his whiteboard. They were complete jibberish, but if it kept Sheldon from scratching his face off, that was a start. Howard and Raj were bringing lunch and some industrial strength cleaners to get the blood off the mattress.
Collapsing on the couch, Leonard took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He couldn't even remember if he'd had plans for today, but he had a feeling his whole week was now full. He jumped when he heard the sound of crashing glass in the kitchen and Sheldon screaming again.
A small part of his brain worried for the safety of his collectible Star Trek glasses and his Batman cookie jar, but Sheldon's attack was focused on the empty champagne bottle. He'd crashed it against the countertop, and kept banging until there wasn't enough left to hold in his hand. Then he dropped to his knees, picked up the large pieces off the floor, and started smashing them.
"Sheldon, no!" Leonard said urgently, grabbing Sheldon's hand and twisting until his friend released the broken glass. "Sheldon, stop, or I'm taking you to the psych ward."
Blood dripped down Sheldon's arm and he struggled to get at the broken glass, stamping it with his bare foot when he couldn't get his hands free.
"They'll drug you," Leonard warned. "They'll put you in a straight jacket and tie you down."
Sheldon froze. Then he looked at Leonard with those frightened rabbit eyes. "No, no, no," he whimpered, his whole body shaking. Bracing Sheldon's body against his, Leonard examined the injured hand. There was so much blood, Leonard thought he'd pass out. Gingerly, he plucked a few of the larger shards of glass from Sheldon's hand, and he worried his friend would need stitches.
"I'm okay," Sheldon whined, wiping his tears, smearing blood on his cheek, doing his best to appear calm despite the fact that he was shaking violently. "I'll be okay. I'll be fine."
"I think you should go to the hospital."
"No, no, no, please," Sheldon begged miserably, his bravado failing, his body curling and beading with sweat. He poked at his injured hand, muttering to himself: "We need a medical officer. Always needed a McCoy. Spock to McCoy."
Leonard looked to the sky, wishing the Enterprise could beam him to sickbay about now. At this point, he'd be glad just for Howard and Raj's company. Or a doctor. McCoy. Pulling out his phone, Leonard dialed Stephanie Barnett—the medical officer their landing party had always needed. He could put aside the past if it meant helping Sheldon.
"Tell me again why you didn't just take him to the emergency room," Stephanie said, washing her hands in the sink. She was as light-hearted and bubbly as he remembered, and she'd coddled Sheldon into compliance with her natural sweet but stern bedside manner.
Sheldon was in his spot, staring at the blank TV screen, doped with a mild sedative and a lot of pain killers. His right hand was wrapped in three inches of bandages and resting over his heart.
"It's complicated," Leonard said. Raj had left a wonton soup on the coffee table, but Sheldon was likely too drugged to handle it now. The sound of Howard's steam cleaner emanating from the bedroom created a white noise that protected Leonard from thinking too hard. "I think if we go back there, they'll have him committed."
"You know, they do that for a reason," Stephanie said, raising an eyebrow. "What set him off?"
"You know how we always wondered what it would be like if Sheldon had girlfriend," Leonard said, twiddling his fingers. "It's kinky. Really kinky."
"Feather kinky or chicken kinky?" Stephanie joked, drying her hands with a paper towel. "I should have asked this before I drugged him, but did the doctor give him anything this morning?"
Leonard shrugged helplessly. "You're the only one he's let look at him. I mean… his girlfriend was bleeding out the ass and I think he still has the blood on his—" Leonard motioned around his crotch, his stomach still roiling at the memory of that morning.
"Did you check his ass?" Stephanie asked.
Leonard blanched. He wasn't that kind of doctor for a reason.
"I'm just saying, once the back door is open, a guy can take as much as he can give," Stephanie ribbed. He didn't know how she could joke at a time like this, and he was too distraught to comment. Taking pity, Stephanie patted him on the shoulder.
"I'll take a look and get him cleaned up. He still keeps latex gloves handy, right?" she asked.
Leonard felt numb.
Penny knocked quietly on the door to Sheldon and Leonard's apartment, then let herself in. Leonard, Howard, and Raj were passed out on the couch, a Battlestar DVD playing on the TV. There was a bloody handprint on the kitchen cabinet, and Penny cringed. It would have been scary as a Halloween prank, but knowing that this was real life and real tragedy, the sight made her ached.
Leonard stirred and fumbled for his glasses. He didn't smile when he saw her, but he sighed gratefully, the tension melting from his body.
"How's Amy?" he asked, standing and clasping his hands in concern.
"I took her home an hour ago," Penny said. "I just came here to check on Sheldon and pack a bag. I'm going to stay with Amy for a few days."
"Good, good," Leonard said. "I don't know if Sheldon's sleeping. Last I checked he was just sitting… in my room. Looking for a new job in another country."
Penny nodded, crossing her arms. Sheldon often tried running away when things went wrong, but he never succeeded in leaving for long. Penny didn't know what would happen if he stayed now—if she was forced to take sides when Amy and Sheldon broke up. Penny wanted to talk, but didn't know what to say. "It's hard to believe isn't it?"
"Yeah. Sheldon having sex was hard enough to believe," Leonard commented.
"Well, he got off lucky, all things considered," Penny said, crossing her arms. The doctor had given her some medicine to put on Amy's injuries, and it made her cringe.
"She nearly bit his testicles off," Leonard countered, crossing his arms defensively. They were already taking sides, and the war would likely break their social group apart. This wasn't a simple breakup; no one had cheated or decided to move on. It was confusing because there were no clear sides—there was only loss. Leonard wilted when he saw her confused expression. "I had a friend—a doctor—come by and check him out."
"Oh," Penny said, suddenly extremely uncomfortable. She looked at her feet, shifting, wanting to leave, but wanting to talk more. The silence lasted several minutes before Leonard finally spoke.
"I can go with you to be with Amy. These guys can probably handle Sheldon for a few hours."
"I'd like that," Penny said, feeling the tension ease at the thought of help. She'd wanted to call someone for Amy, but aside from Sheldon, Penny was the only one Amy regularly called. "She said you rescued her."
Leonard's chest puffed with pride, but he deflated quickly. It was true what they said about being a hero—when the time came, you were just doing what had to be done.
"I'll just go say good-night to Sheldon," Penny said, tip-toeing to the back. She peeked into Sheldon's room first, curious to see the scene of the crime that was tearing Amy apart. The mattress was bare and the room smelled of solvents and air freshener. It felt like a horror film. Closing the door and pressing a hand to her stomach, she quelled the anguish that surged from fear. Leonard's door was open, but she still knocked before peeking in. The bed was made and the room empty.
"Sheldon?" she called, checking the corners to see if he was huddled and crying. She checked the closet, then the bathroom.
"Leonard, he's not back here," Penny called.
Leonard came running, Howard and Raj hot on his heels. All the lights were on within seconds. They checked every nook and cranny of the apartment, calling Sheldon's name.
"I don't think he's here," Penny said, throwing her hands up helplessly and turning around.
"He must have slipped out while we were sleeping," Leonard said. "How big a head start do you think he has?"
"At least three hours," Howard piped up, turning over the Battlestar DVD boxes in his hands, reading the titles and counting the episodes. "This is not the DVD that was in when we fell asleep."
Sheldon let himself into Amy's apartment, treading quietly, carefully, like he wasn't supposed to be there. They'd already violated each other physically, and this only added insult to injury. He looked at the paper in his hand, smeared with his blood. He'd found it rolled and stuffed into the champagne bottle and as much as he wanted to burn it, Amy needed to see it first. If he left it by her bed, she would get the message, understand why he couldn't come back, and burn it herself. He froze when he saw her there, lying in her bed, her back to the door.
"Amy?" He wanted to touch her, hold her, and beg forgiveness, but he was afraid she would tie him up again.
"Go away, Sheldon."
"I want to talk."
Sheldon's hands shook. The relationship agreement afforded them the liberty to request a clear, concise explanation for a break-up, but he didn't need an explanation. It was hard to stay in a world that caused him so much pain. The allure of retreating back into his mind and contemplating string theory threatened to take him. He didn't want to end up in a straight jacket.
"Do you remember last night?" he asked, crinkling the paper in his hand, taking another step into her bedroom. The floor creaked and he stepped back again, fearful of intruding on her personal space.
"I've managed to piece some bits together based on the doctor's report," Amy said, pulling her blanket up to her ears.
"We kept record of the experiment," Sheldon said, holding out the paper, his throat getting tight. "There's a waiver."
Tension rippled through Amy's body. She raised her arm and motioned Sheldon into the room, looking over her shoulder at him. He'd hurt her so badly she couldn't move! Sheldon walked quickly to the other side of the bed and knelt on the floor by her pillow. His testicles were too bruised to sit, and his thighs were sore from squatting all day. He felt like a child, praying to God for forgiveness, but for what he'd done, he didn't deserve it.
Handing her the paper, he watched her read, trembling as she trembled. Everything was typed right there, though the misspellings and purple ink indicated they were clearly drunk when they wrote it. There was an affirmation of love and complete and total trust, and agreement to face their fears together, and then a list of their worst fears—or rather fears related to kinks and sexual deviancies. There were red check marks next to the ones they'd tried. A few items were crossed off with the words "ouchie" and "no likey" written next to them, the i's dotted with hearts.
"I don't remember doing all this," Amy said, her eyes locked on the paper, horrified.
Sheldon shook his head. He didn't remember either. "I don't know why we had to get piss drunk for you to tell me you were afraid of anal sex."
"You're afraid of hand-cuffs," she criticized
Sheldon cringed and massaged his bruised wrists as if that could soften the blow to his pride. "I broke our commemorative champagne bottle," Sheldon said meekly. "I didn't want to—why did we—"
"According to the paperwork, trust is integral to love. We did it to prove we trust each other," Amy groaned, wadding the paper in her hands.
"Always trusts, always protects," Sheldon quoted, rocking on his heels, scratching the skin on his face. Leonard was going to yell at him again. "We didn't protect each other. How could we? I can't protect you from what I don't know will hurt you and all the things on this list—"
"I'm as surprised by yours as you are of mine," Amy countered dangerously, smacking his hand to stop him from scratching open the scabs on his cheek. Sheldon flinched and whined, the pain of her rebuke making his face sting.
"I hurt all over!"
"I could bust a stitch with a bowel movement," Amy snapped, squirming on the bed. She shifted uncomfortably and looked away from him. He'd done this to her; he'd broken her. Feeling he'd overstayed his welcome, Sheldon stood to go.
"I'm sorry I said I hate you," Sheldon whispered, his eyes filling with tears, dashing for the door.
"Sheldon, wait," Amy called after him. She pushed herself up on one elbow and turned to face him. "Can you get me a glass of water?"
"Of course," Sheldon said, glad to be able to help even a little. He didn't feel he owed her anything after what she'd done to him, but there was a little piece inside of him that still loved her and needed to make sure she was okay. "I can do anything you need. Not anything. Most things. Some things."
"Can you slice an apple for me?"
Sheldon held up his bandaged hand, wincing apologetically. "I can't."
"What happened? Did I do that?" Amy asked, her eyes going wide. She reached out for his hand, but her strength failed and she fell hard on the bed.
"Champagne bottle broke," Sheldon mumbled lamely. "I can bring you an apple. Or apple sauce. You have those little cups."
Amy nodded clawing her way into a comfortable position, lying on her side, her back to him. Sheldon stared at her, waves of guilt consuming him. He started to leave, but she beckoned him again.
"Sheldon." She kept her head and body turned away, her voice meek and quiet. "There's a salve in the bathroom. A prescription. Can you—would you—"
"I can do it," Sheldon said, not forcing her to finish the request. He'd shoved his cock in her ass to break it and he could use a finger to heal it. "I won't hurt you again."
Leonard was so freaked out, he thought he'd pass out. He and Penny ran up the block, Howard taking off on his scooter in the opposite direction. At this time of night, Sheldon would be on foot. Leonard kept picturing his friend lying in a ditch somewhere, bleeding out. He kept imagining the call he'd make to Sheldon's mom, explaining what happened.
When his phone chirped, he checked it immediately, even though he knew Sheldon had left his phone at home. "Raj says he hasn't called the house yet. Bernadette and Howard checked the Cheesecake Factory, the comic book store, and his office. No luck."
"Leonard, do you think he went back to Texas?" Penny asked, her voice laced with concern. "Maybe we should check the airport."
Leonard reeled, but sent Raj a text, asking him to check and see if Sheldon had taken his wallet. Raj could check the airport and Leonard would take a shift waiting by the phone. As much as he wanted to find Sheldon, he didn't think he could get behind the wheel of a car. "Sure. Let's head back."
"I should check on Amy first," Penny said. "It's just a couple blocks from here and she isn't exactly mobile. Go on. I'll catch up."
"No, I—" Leonard choked off his sentence and just let her read the weakness on his face. When he was with her, he felt like he was helping. He couldn't walk back to the apartment alone. "Do you think she'd mind?"
Penny took his hand and led the way. A few more texts rolled in on his phone—Bernadette suggested they call the police. Raj said Sheldon's wallet was gone. That meant Sheldon had the means to leave the state. Hopefully someone at the airport would notice the strange man trying to skip town in a bathrobe and say something.
"Amy, I'm back," Penny called when they came through the door. "Are you awake, sweetie?"
Leonard's jaw set, his mind going back to that morning, holding Amy and carrying her into the hospital. He should have known when they broke their rule about hanky-panky in the living room. He could have stopped them before they started something they'd regret.
"Hey, Leonard. Come 'ere," Penny whispered, motioning him to Amy's bedroom door.
Leonard's feet felt like lead, but Penny's head was cocked like she was seeing something precious, and Leonard needed to the hope. He felt a lump rising in his throat when he saw Sheldon spooning Amy, his arm draped over her waist, his chin hooked over her shoulder. There was a pillow stuffed between them, preventing their torsos from touching below the waist. The bed was littered with a litany of used tissues, and their faces stained with dried tears. Penny went into the room, swept the spent tissues into a waste basket, and covered the two with a blanket.
Leonard's text message to the others was simple: We found him. He's safe.
Amy thought quantum physics was paradoxical. She didn't think string theory was anything to get overly excited about. She didn't understand the appeal of Star Wars or comic books. But none of that was so confusing as what she felt when she woke up in Sheldon's arms. Even after the way he'd violated her, she still felt safe next to him. A part of her worried she'd become one of those battered women who stays in relationships ten years too long and winds up on the six o'clock news.
Sheldon stirred and sobbed against the back of her neck. He'd been doing that all night. Sometimes she joined him. She couldn't believe they'd made a list, typed up a waiver, and signed away dignity and personal safety. Asphyxia? That one hadn't been crossed off, but she kept touching her neck to see if she noticed any bruises there. They'd done it in the name of love—that thing she'd coveted all her childhood; the thing she craved. Sheldon hadn't wanted a physical relationship. He would have been happy not touching her forever, and even conceding to physical intimacy, he'd never have gone this far if she hadn't spiked his champagne. This was all her fault.
"Sheldon?" she called when she felt him stirring again.
His body went rigid, then she felt his eyelashes tickling the hair on the back of her neck. "Did I hurt you?"
"Not today," she said. Carefully, she turned in his arms. The physical pain wasn't as bad as yesterday, but it still hurt too much to lie on her back, so she just kept going until they were facing each other. She pulled away the pillow dividing them and tried to slide her leg between his as a matter of comfort, but he winced. He was pretty badly bruised, especially where he'd been tied above the knees. "This is my fault," she confessed. "It's all my fault."
Sheldon hugged his bandaged hand to his chest and wiped his nose. "I don't suppose a 'system reset' works when the damage is this extensive."
"I'm so sorry," she said, wiping the tears from her eyes. She was surprised when Sheldon scooted his face across the pillows and kissed her forehead tenderly. There was no passion; only comfort and forgiveness. Breaking the kiss felt physically painful. "Sheldon."
"I'm trying to love you," he said, nuzzling his cheek next to hers desperately, letting her feel his tears. "Love keeps no record of wrongs. It's not easy."
"That's because it's not possible," Amy said, pushing his robe aside and cringing at the purple bite marks and bruises on his chest. She'd been brutal. She wondered if he'd been tied down and unable to stop her from biting that hard, or if the bondage had come later. "It's not possible."
"Love always hopes, always perseveres," Sheldon insisted. "Love never fails."
"Stop it," Amy whimpered, pounding his chest in frustration, crying when he yelped in pain. He kept using that L-word like he hadn't read that damn list of ways they'd tormented each other—like he didn't care that she'd dunked his balls in strawberry jelly. According to their notes, she'd done it after she'd tied him down and even drunk and compliant, he'd begged her not to. "What have I done to you?"
"Do you want me to leave?" Sheldon offered, sitting up and pulling his robe shut. "Because I don't want to leave. I want to hold you like I did before we were afraid and comfort you until the worst of the pain subsides. Then when we're thinking more clearly, I would like to discuss our experiment, understand this list of fears, and set in place protocols to prevent this from ever happening again. I want to resume our attempt to love fully, honestly, and completely, and if that fails, I at least want to restore our platonic friendship."
"Is that all?" Amy snapped, curling her body around her pillow.
"Counter-proposal?" Sheldon asked.
"No more sex. No more fingers. No more second-base action," Amy said, rattling off the terms as they came to mind. She didn't know what she wanted or needed right now. She wanted an incredible amount of distance but and she needed him to hold her. "No more nudity—"
"Except in cases of medical necessity," Sheldon amended, glancing at her salve. "And no more biting. No hickies. Amy… are you still willing to love me?"
Pulling her knees under herself, Amy crawled over to Sheldon and draped her arms across his shoulders. He couldn't be comfortable sitting with all the bites she'd left on his thighs. "Let's go to the kitchen and get you some ice."
She knew what he needed; it was what he always needed when things went awry in the bedroom. He needed to hear her say she loved him. And she wanted to say it, but given the evidence, she'd feel like a hypocrite or a liar.
"You're not willing?" he asked, shifting uncomfortably on the bed.
"I'm willing to try," she offered, caressing the light stubble on his chin. Sheldon's facial hair grew so slowly that it took him two days to get a five o'clock shadow. "I can still kiss your ear right?"
"No," Sheldon said quickly, jerking away from her. "No, it makes my testicles hurt."
"Oh. Sorry," she said. She was bruised inside too and hadn't considered how painful arousal might be. Sheldon liked having his ears nibbled, but it was a pretty intense pilot light for him. A part of her suddenly missed the feel of his lips on her neck, but knew she'd feel more pain than pleasure if he tried it. "You'll get better with time. Love is patient."
Sheldon turned his lost puppy eyes on her. His lips moved, but no words fell out. Deciding to be the bold one this time, Amy leaned in and kissed him softly. Gentle kisses were in order and would be for awhile. No tongue. They were the simple, chaste kisses along his chin and cheeks that captured tear drops and soothed sadness; kisses that spoke love when she couldn't say the words. And when he kissed her back, she knew he understood.