Big Ban X-Treme
By Lorraine Anderson
Leonard walked into his lab and stared at the big crate by the lab table. "What the hell is that?"
Sheldon stuck his head in. "I've been wondering when you were going to show up. You and Penny were still going at it when I left for work.
Leonard stared. "How do you know?"
"It's the squeak, squeak, squeak sound."
"I really have to get that bed fixed."
Sheldon stared. "Oh, that was the bed?" I thought it was Penny." He looked at the crate. "Well? Are you going to open it?"
"I would if I thought it was for me," Leonard said. He pushed his glasses up and circled the crate. "It's marked 'Top Secret.'"
"If it doesn't say 'this means you,' you can open it," said Sheldon primly.
"I don't think so." He circled the crate again. "Where's the address?"
Sheldon looked blank. "I don't believe there was an address."
Leonard caught sight of a paper sticking out of Sheldon's pocket and grabbed it out. "This is for Dr. Leonard Hochstedtler."
"See? That's close to your name."
"At Area 51." He paused. "The last I looked, we weren't at Area 51."
"A miniscule detail. The box is yours. It's in your lab. Open it."
"This is meant for Area 51. Do you realize how much trouble we can get in? Jail time? Mind reaming? No TV?"
That set Sheldon back for a second. "No TV?"
"Okay." He stood still. "They can't prosecute if it comes open by itself, can they?"
Leonard looked at the crate. "I suppose not…" He shook his head. "What am I saying?" He looked at the crate again. "What end should we open?"
Sheldon came close, leaned down slightly, and looked at the crate. "I think the nails are looser on this end." He looked up. "We'll need a crowbar." He straightened. "I have one in my office." He left.
"Why does he have a crowbar in his office?" Leonard mused aloud.
"Because he borrowed it from me." Howard stuck his head in the office. "Oooo. Nice crate. What's in it?"
"That's why we're getting the crowbar."
He looked at the crate closely. "Dude. This crate is marked 'Top Secret'."
Leonard stuck the piece of paper he grabbed from Sheldon into his pocket. "It had something close to my name on it."
Howard stared at him and shrugged. "I'm cool with that. Should we get Raj?"
"Why not?" Leonard shrugged. "Let's all go to jail!"
Howard ran down the hall, bringing Raj back in town. "Cool crate. What's in it?"
"If I knew that, we wouldn't be going for the crowbar."
"And here it is."
"What took you so long?"
"I sterilized it," Sheldon said.
Leonard looked at him. "Give it here." He carefully started on one end of the crate.
"Of, for Spock's sake," Sheldon said. "Give it here!" He took the crowbar and gave a mighty pull. The end of the crate fell off. "Oops." He peered in and pulled the packing material. "Hmmm." Grabbing a couple of handles, he pulled it out.
"Oh." Leonard said.
"Hmmm," Sheldon said.
Howard and Raj just stared.
"It looks like K-9 on steroids," Leonard said.
"K-9 has a head and a tail," Howard said.
"It has handles on both sides, but it looks like a machine," Sheldon said. He looked at it closer. "It has some nice blinky lights…"
"A machine that does what?" Raj said.
"Let's turn it around," Sheldon said. He grabbed one set of handles, and Leonard grabbed the second set.
Both froze, and then stared at each other. Howard and Raj looked at them both Howard waved his hands in front of Leonard's face. "Leonard. Are you all right?"
He blinked. "I'm Sheldon." He blinked. "I must be looking in a mirror. Tell me I'm looking in a mirror."
"Not unless I am, too," said the other man.
Raj went over to him. "Leonard?
He looked at Raj. "Um. Yeah." He stared at the other man again. "Do I really look like that?"
"This is impossible," Sheldon said. "It completely contradicts the world as we know it."
Leonard looked over after Sheldon. "This is from a man who has a sneaking admiration for 'Turnabout Intruder.'"
Raj studied the two. "No. This reminds me of 'Stargate SG-1.' There was an episode where they found this old man on this planet and he tricked Daniel Jackson into touching the other end of this machine, and they traded places and then Jack went into Teal'c's body, and…"
Leonard held up his hand. "We get the reference, Raj. But that's a TV show."
Leonard screwed up his mouth. "Huh?"
"That means," Howard said. "That they make up a TV show that mimics real life so that when something happens, they can blame the TV show."
Sheldon was beginning to shake. "But that's a TV show and this is not a TV show and I can't be as short as this and TV shows aren't real and…"
Leonard sighed. "I hope I feel this in the morning." He went up the Sheldon and slapped his face. "I feel like a masochist."
"Ooow." Sheldon looked at Leonard. "You hit me."
"No," Leonard sighed. "I hit myself. You just happened to be in the way." He turned to Raj. So how did they get out of the predicament?"
"Um…. I don't remember."
The three of them looked at Raj. "You… don't remember?"
He shrugged. "I don't remember." He looked around. "Stop looking at me!"
Sheldon looked around wildly. "I believe I must be under the influence of drugs. The handles must be dipped in hallucinogens."
"You should try the handles again. Maybe that will reverse it."
"I'm not touching those handles again," Sheldon said.
"You have to," Leonard said.
"Do it for me," Leonard smiled.
"Do it for you," Leonard said.
Sheldon seemed to consider that a second. "No."
"Do it for the new X-man comic," Howard suggested.
Sheldon considered even longer. "With Wolverine?" Howard said.
Sheldon smiled and said "No."
Howard and Raj made eye contact with Sheldon. At Sheldon's nod, they rushed Sheldon and pushed his arms down on the handles. His hands grasped them automatically, and the guys let him go as Leonard grabbed the other end. For a second, they both grasped the handles at the same time, but Leonard shook his head. "No good. I was afraid not."
Sheldon gasped and let go jerkily. "You're going to feel guilty if you had killed me."
Raj and Howard thought a second. "Naw." Howard said. Raj shook his head.
Leonard rolled his eyes. "C'mon, hallucinogen boy. Let's go before someone realizes we're acting strange."
Raj looked at the two. "Who could tell?"
Leonard glared at him.
Sheldon was still protesting. "This cannot be real. Real life isn't like this."
Leonard unlocked the apartment door. "Says the man who has a napkin with Leonard Nimoy's DNA."
Penny peeked out of the door. She looked at Sheldon. "What are you guys doing home at this time of day?"
"Um…" Leonard said. He glanced at Sheldon. "Leonard was sick."
Sheldon looked at him. "I am not sick. I am under the control of hallucinogens. Penny. Don't you see that I am Sheldon?"
Penny blinked. Leonard smiled. "I need to get him in the apartment."
"Leonard, why do you all of a sudden sound like Sheldon?" She wrinkled her forehead. "And Sheldon sounds like Leonard."
"Hallucinogens, I'm telling you."
She pushed at them and got them both into the apartment. "Sit."
Sheldon went to his accustomed spot on the couch and sat down, looking up expectantly. Leonard moved to an armchair and put his head in his hands.
"Leonard!" Penny walked over to the chair. "That is you, honey!" She picked up his hand, then dropped it. "I'm sorry, I can't do this. I can't touch you."
He looked up. "You believe us."
"Well, yeah. It's like that old show we watched a couple of weeks ago. Star…"
"Star Trek. 'Turnabout Intruder'." He paused. "You were paying attention?"
"Women's rights, and an ugly jumpsuit. I was watching."
Leonard looked up. "Yeah, it's something like that. A strange box turned up in my lab and Sheldon," he raised his voice, "… had to play Pandora, and open the box."
"You wanted to know what was in it, too." Sheldon whined. "Oh my God, I even sound like Leonard." He sat, staring straight forward, barely blinking.
"'Does not compute. Does not compute. Norman, coordinate!'" Leonard muttered.
"Why wouldn't you open the box?" Penny asked, ignoring the muttering..
"Well, it was more like a crate, and," Leonard blushed, "Because it was marked 'Top Secret, Area 51'."
"Oh." Penny sat down on the other end of the couch. "Even I know you don't open crates marked 'Area 51.' There might be dead, big-eyed aliens in there."
Leonard smiled. "There are no such things as bug-eyed aliens."
"Then why is there an Area 51. Huh? I saw them on TV."
Leonard stared at here. "Area 51 is for Top Secret Projects."
"And that machine from Star Trek was Top Secret."
"It was – unknown. It wasn't top secret."
"So there you go."
Leonard looked like he was trying to follow her logic. He gave up. "Except this machine was more like it was from Stargate."
"Oh, I remember that one. It has bug-eyed monsters in it, right?"
Sheldon shifted his eyes to the right. "It has bug-eyed aliens called the Asgard," he said. "They are not monsters."
Leonard looked at him. "Welcome back to the land of the living. What brought you back?"
"Yes." He sat silent.
"Elaborate," Leonard finally said.
"I deduced that you and Penny could not act that way that long without laughing. I than deduced that since I haven't turned into a bunny or some other repulsive creature, only Leonard."
"Um. I'm not quite sure how to take that," Leonard muttered.
"I have, therefore, deduced that this must be real life." He looked puzzled. "What is on my face?"
"Those would be my glasses."
He reached up and took them off. "Oh my God, you're blind!"
Leonard rolled his eyes. "My vision isn't that bad. Put them back on."
"We need to go back to work."
Leonard sighed. "I agree. Are you going to stop freaking out? Promise?"
Sheldon sighed. "I promise."
Leonard looked at him. Sheldon stood up. "Oh, my God, you're short1"
Penny screwed up her face. "Let me help you, honey," she said, patting Leonard's arm. She walked up to Leonard. "If you don't obey me, I'm going to… read your comic books before you see them. Then I'm going to find your napkin with Leonard Nimoy's DNA and throw it away."
Sheldon shrank. "I'll be good."
Penny turned to Leonard. "Let's take him to work."
"This is the machine," Penny said in disbelief. "That doesn't look anything like that thing on Star Trek." She put her head sideways. "It looks like a shopping cart. With blinking Christmas lights."
"Trust me," Leonard said. "It works."
"Where's Howard and Raj?"'
"Hopefully working on the problem." Howard came in eating a candy bar. "Or not."
"Hey, I was thinking."
"It looked like you were raising your blood sugar level."
Howard shrugged. "I was working on your problem. Honest. I was trying to get Raj to remember."
"Not yet." Raj walked in, saw Penny, and looked dismayed.
Penny frowned. "He can't remember?" She started to approach Raj.
Raj whispered to Howard. "He's beginning to remember," Howard said. He whispered again. "But he can't do it?" Howard turned to Raj. "What are you talking about?" Raj whispered again. "It's unclean?"
"Oh. Oh!" Leonard said. "I remember him talking about the. I think I know what he's talking about." Leonard sighed. "I really got to watch more Stargate."
Penny patted his arm. "No, you don't."
"We each got to take our turn on the machine. Sheldon and I can't trade places with each other, but we can trade places with other people."
"Go for it." Penny said.
"But Raj can't do it, because that would offend his cultural biases."
"It's unclean," Leonard said. He sighed. "You can take the boy out of India, but you can't take India out of the boy. So that leaves…" He looked at Penny. They all looked at Penny.
"Me?" she squeaked.
"For me?" Leonard said sweetly.
Penny closed her eyes. "Sweetie, you saying that in Sheldon's voice just doesn't work for me." She sighed. "Can I keep my eyes closed?"
"I'll do it."
"Thanks," Leonard said. "I'll make it up to you later."
"Raj, come over here. I have to pick your brain."
The two conferred together, then Raj made a chart. Sheldon wandered over. "Oh. I want to be Daniel! I don't want to be Ma'chello."
Leonard looked up. "Ma'chello was a hero. He saved millions of people from the Goa'uld."
"Still. Daniel is cooler."
"Which makes you Daniel."
"Yeah." Leonard smiled slowly.
"Penny is Jack, and Howard is Teal'c."
Penny opened her mouth and looked confused.
"Jack is played by Richard Dean Anderson," Leonard said. "We're assigning our names to the character names so that we can remember how we need to trade places."
"Yeah," Leonard said.
"Well, at least he's cute."
The two bent over the paper again. "You're sure?" Leonard said.
"Ok. Follow what I say." Leonard saw Sheldon open his mouth. "We're following the show. Don't argue." Sheldon shut his mouth. "Howard and Penny, grasp the bars like you were going to move it."
"Is this the part where I close my eyes?" Penny said.
They grasped the bars. They trembled slightly. "Howard?"
"Yes?" he said, in Penny's voice. He shut his eyes. "Oh, that's weird," he said.
"Don't get any ideas, buster," Penny said, in a tenor, her eyes still closed. "Remember where I'm at."
"Penny, stay at the handles. Sheldon?"
Penny squealed. "Oh, I get to be in Leonard's body?"
Leonard looked at her.
"Howard isn't much better than Leonard," Sheldon said.
"It's another step back to normal," Leonard said.
Sheldon stepped up promptly and grasped the bar. "I'm ready."
Penny grasped her bar and shuddered slightly. She stepped back in Leonard's body. "Cool." She said.
"I feel – hairy," Sheldon said. He ran his hands through his long hair. Howard rolled his eyes.
"Ok," Leonard said. "Now it's Howard and I." He stepped up to the machine and grasped the handle. Howard grasped it eagerly. They shuddered. Howard looked at Sheldon. "Now I feel – almost bald." Sheldon sneered at Howard.
Leonard looked at Penny. She was looking down her trousers. "Hey!"
"Honey, it's nothing I haven't seen before." She smiled. "Come over here, lover."
Leonard raised his eyebrows. "Ohhh. I hadn't thought of that." He walked over to Penny eagerly.
"C'mon, hairy," Howard said. I think it's our turn."
"Gladly." They grasped the handles. Sheldon looked down at his arms. "Oh, thank God. The nightmare is over." He thought a moment. "I need to go home and take a three hour shower."
"We need to get the crate ready to ship," Howard said. "After…" He looked over at Leonard and Penny, who were tangled together. They pulled back from each other, stared, then started kissing again.
"Um… guys," Howard said.
"Go away." Leonard said.
"Normally, I would tell you to get a room, but what if the Area 51 people show up and you get stuck this way."
"Just a quickie?" Penny said.
Leonard pulled back. "Um, darling, he has a point. Do you want to be doing my job all day? Because I don't think they'll believe that I'm really Leonard."
She pulled a face. "Oh, I suppose." She looked down. "Can't I even…?"
"No," but his hands reached up to his breasts.
Penny slapped his hands. "If I can't, you can't."
"Let's do it, fast." They each grabbed a handle, then both of them looked down. "Oh, my."
Penny sighed. "Yeah. That close." She stepped back. "Ok, you he-men need to crate up that thing."
Leonard shook himself. "Um, yeah. Raj, don't touch it. We need to get the fingerprints off of it." Raj went down the hall and grabbed some paper towels and glass cleaner from the cleaning closet. Penny grabbed it from his hands. "I'll do that." She swiftly cleaned all of the handles, then pushed it back into the crate. Leonard grabbed some of the packing material and pushed it into the crate, then lifted the side of the lid. Howard and Raj hammered the nails in. They then stood back and looked at the crate.
"It looks so – innocent," Leonard said.
"A curled rattlesnake looks innocent until *Boom!*" said Sheldon.
"What do we do now?" said Howard.
"We do what we should have done in the first place. We call the Air Force to pick up their package for Area 51."
Half a day later, two officers and a couple of airmen came into the lab. Leonard stood up and held out his hand. "Hi. I'm Doctor Leonard Hofstadter. And you are?"
The sandy-haired man held out his hand. "I'm Colonel Danning. This is Major Stacy Monroe. We appreciate your calling the Air Force so promptly."
Leonard blushed slightly. "I'm afraid I wasn't here when it came in, so I'm not so sure how prompt I was. May I ask how the Air Force lost track of its property?"
Colonel Danning looked at him seriously. "I could tell you, but then I would have to shoot you." Leonard shrank back a little. "Joke, son. Joke."
"The project that this crate was intended for is very Top Secret," Major Monroe said with a smile.
"I figured, when I saw the label on the side of the box. I'm just surprised it ended up here."
Colonel Danning sighed. "Even the Air Force sometimes makes mistakes." He looked at Leonard sharply. "Were you curious as to what was in the box?"
"Oh, no, no," Leonard said. He blushed slightly. "Well, maybe a little."
Major Monroe was looking at the box and shook her head slightly.
Colonel Danning raised his eyebrows. "You're sure nothing happened?"
Leonard lowered his head. "Nothing I would care to admit."
Major Monroe touched him on the arm. She looked concerned. "And everybody is – fine?"
"Yes." Leonard looked up. "Are we in trouble?"
The Major looked at the Colonel. "You said that nothing happened. I believe you." He smiled, and the smile wasn't terribly pleasant. "Son, have you ever heard of 'plausible deniability?'"
"Yes," Leonard said. "Yes, I have."
"Well, whatever didn't happen here had better not be spread around, even obliquely. And that includes the group hanging around outside the door. After all," he said to Major Monroe, "it doesn't say Colonel on my uniform for nothing."
After they had left, Sheldon, Penny, Raj, and Howard came back. Sheldon's face still held a red mark around the mouth about the size of Penny's hand, and Penny was shaking her hand.
"You still didn't have to bite," she glared at Sheldon.
"But he was about to tell Colonel Danning everything," Sheldon whined.
"Oh, no," Leonard said. "I think we understood each other completely."
Raj whispered into Howard's ear. "No kidding," Howard said. "Yeah, that's right."
Leonard blinked. "So? What's that?"
"One of episodes of 'Stargate SG-1' was called 'Wormhole X-treme,' where they went to a television set shooting a show called 'Wormhole X-treme.' Two of the characters on the show were called Colonel Danning and Major Stacey Monroe."
Leonard stared, then smiled. "You're kidding."
Sheldon nodded. "Two layers of plausible deniability. Logical."
"Which means…" Howard said.
"… that there may be aliens in Area 51," Leonard said.
"Or at least alien technology," Sheldon said.
Penny smiled. "Told ya!"