"Dude. This is getting freaky," Raj says.
Howard is still smiling at the retreating backsides of the two women. "I know!" he says. "They were totally coming on to us! How often does that happen?"
"Um. Howard? Did you not see what she handed to me?"
Howard blinks and looks at Raj, and then down at the paper in his hand. It's a flyer. Club Fetch is printed at the top in large, rainbow letters. Below that is... dear God, that man has forgotten his pants. Howard can feel his smile slipping just a little.
"So?" he says, still staring at the flyer. How can that be comfortable? Doesn't the leather chafe? "They could probably tell we were hip, open-minded guys and just wanted to--"
Raj shakes his head. "She said, 'You and your boyfriend should stop by some time' when she handed it to me."
"Maybe she just meant 'friend... who is a boy' and--" Howard starts. "No, you're right. Yeah, this is getting freaky."
Between the two of them, they've struck out twelve times in the last nineteen minutes. The number would be higher, but Raj spilled beer on his shirt after his third rejection and Howard had to go the bathroom with him to help clean it up.
"If you're trying to make him jealous, it's working," says the redhead with the amazing--
"What?" Howard asks, eyes snapping up to her face. He turns around, following her glance. Raj is sitting at the bar looking at them; he smiles and gives Howard a thumbs up.
"No, that's my friend Raj. He's my wingman." The girl raises her eyebrows and Howard says, "Okay, we're kind of co-wingmen. It's complicated."
"Whatever," she says, and downs the rest of her mojito. Something seems to flit through her head -- Howard watches her mouth twist and then relax. "Look," she finally says, "don't take this the wrong way, but you're weird. And that's a horrible sweater... seriously, what is that? You don't have a chance with any girl in here." She glances over at Raj. "And he actually looks sort of cute, at least from over here. So you know... you might want to think about it."
"But I like girls!" he says to her back as she walks away.
It's very late and they are more than a little drunk when they stumble into Leonard and Sheldon's apartment.
"Wait, we don't live here," Raj whispers.
"I know," Howard says, trying to keep his voice down. It's hard. "But I'm hungry and I want pizza. There are leftovers in their fridge. My mother only has pot roast."
The light clicks on. Sheldon stands in the doorway to the living area wearing striped pajamas and fuzzy blue slippers.
"There are sixteen different pizza parlors within a 3-block radius of this building. Seven of them are even still open at--" he pauses to look at his wrist, which is bare. He looks thrown by this for a moment, and then continues. "I'm not wearing my watch. But before I got out of bed, I noted that it was 3:18AM. Seven of the aforementioned sixteen pizza parlors are still open at this time of night. Well, technically, it's 'this time of the morning', but conventionally we still consider the time before sunrise to be night."
Raj groans. "You are so annoying. Do you know how annoying you are? It's like if Fran Drescher and Jar Jar Binks had a baby, and the baby became the youngest person ever to get a master's degree in being annoying. You're as annoying as that baby."
"He didn't mean that," Howard says, patting Raj on the back. "You know how he is... He's a surly drunk."
Sheldon shrugs. "It's no matter. There's no such thing as a master's degree in being annoying, anyway."
"Anyway," Howard hurriedly says before Raj can respond, "we can't go to a restaurant to get pizza."
"Oh? Are you out of money? I'd be happy to provide you with a small loan if it will get you out of my apartment."
Sheldon stares at them, waiting for an answer.
Howard crosses his arms over his chest. He is not going to tell Sheldon. Then Sheldon raises one eyebrow, and Howard blurts out, "When we go out in public, everyone thinks we're dating."
"It's true," Raj says. "Even the cab driver who brought us here from the bar thought we were a couple. He told us to get a room. We weren't even doing anything!"
Sheldon seems nonplussed. "Well, it's only logical. Beverly did identify repressed homosexual tension between the two of you."
Howard and Raj stare at Sheldon. Howard hopes that he looks as incredulous as Raj does.
"But wouldn't that... bother you?" Raj asks. Howard swings his head around, transferring his incredulous look to Raj.
"I don't see why it should," Sheldon says. "I'm led to understand that same-sex attraction is seen many places in the animal kingdom. It's perfectly natural."
"Huh," says Raj.
Howard has had enough. "What do you mean, 'huh'?"
"Well... I mean, if we were dating each other, at least we'd both be having sex. Ever since Bernadette dumped you, it's not like you've been getting any."
Howard looks over at Sheldon, who is placidly watching them. "Could we have some privacy here?" he snaps. "This is kind of a personal conversation."
"Well, excuse me for having the temerity to be in my own apartment," Sheldon says. "By the way, that was sarcasm," he adds before retreating back to his bedroom.
Once Sheldon's bedroom door clicks shut, Raj raises his eyebrows at Howard.
Howard considers the proposition for a minute. Dating Raj would be just like being friends with Raj, only he would maybe get a blow job once in a while. That wouldn't be so bad. "Eh, what the hell," he says. "May as well give it a try."
"Cool," Raj says, bobbing his head. "Uh. Maybe we could check out that club... you know, the one on the flyer?"
Howard conjures up a mental image of himself in leather chaps. "Yeah... maybe we'd better just start with pizza."