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A Tangental Quartet and a Single Congruency

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The first time they were pouring over the same issue of Amazing Spider-Man #649. Howard was reading quickly, ready to turn to the next page, dying to find out who the Hobgoblin was this time. Raj was still stuck on the page before, just as engrossed. Their heads were pressed in close, and they turned to each other, a breath apart. They paused, then stepped back at the same time, trying to push the issue at each other, both blushing. In the end, Raj went to find it's place back on the rack, and Howard went to flip through the cheap comic book bins.

The next time, they had, after some sulking from Raj, agreed to a round of kite fighting against Sheldon and Leonard (and, Raj pointed out, Raj's kite). Despite the forecast, the winds were unpredictable, and flying proved a challenge. Raj got excited when it finally looked like he had a good angle to take down Sheldon's kite, and he hurried Howard over to help take the anchoring line. Their arms entwined, and Raj became agitated at Howard. Turning to yell at him, he found they were closer than he had anticipated, and for a moment they froze. Then Howard's arm was pulled away by an updraft, and he lost control of Raj's kite. It crashed into a tree. Raj was doubly unimpressed when Howard suggested they should get it back in any case, because it was 'kinda cruel to leave even a Hello Kitty stuck up a tree.'

The third time, they were watching The Deathly Hallows for the second time. They were sharing a large soda because Howard had finally caved when Raj insisted that he would 'just be getting up to pee every five minutes' if he got one of his own. Like the first time. Transfixed on the screen, neither of them noticed that the other was also moving in towards the straw. They bumped cheeks, and then abruptly jumped back. They spent the rest of the film leaning as far as they could away from each other on opposite arm rests. The last bit of soda went flat and watery, and they left it in the cup holder when they rushed from the theatre at the end of the credits.

The fourth time, they had dozed off next to each other on Sheldon and Leonard's couch during Sheldon's Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6 ('Arguably the best season.') All-Night Marathon. Everyone except Sheldon had, ironically, fallen asleep during Schisms. Howard guessed that he must have been asleep for about an hour, judging by Worf's Wild West Data shootout on the screen, Leonard's light snoring, and Sheldon's still rapt attention. As he turned his head, he woke Raj, who had been sleeping on his shoulder. In a haze, they rested their foreheads one against the other, and swayed sleepily closer to each other. As the haze lifted slightly, Raj gasped and pulled back a bit. Their faces were lit pallidly by the television screen, but they held each other's gaze this time. Howard could feel his heart beating a little quickly, and he knew it wasn't his arrhythmia. He searched Raj's face, but couldn't quite tell what he saw. They took too long, and finally had to blink. The moving images on the television caught their attention. The holodeck on screen flickered, and they were asleep again a few moments later, leaving Sheldon alone in his blissful vigil.

The last time... or rather the first time... well, it really all depended in how you looked at it. Howard took Raj's bishop in his hand, just about to set down his pawn, but stopped mid-move. He looked at Raj and raised an eyebrow. Raj raised both of his in surprise.

"What?" he asked, looking both innocent and confused simultaneously.

"Don't 'what' me," Howard grinned. He leaned over the board. "You didn't really invite me over just to play chess, did you?"

Raj leaned over the board, too.

"So what if I did?" he said coyly.

"Then I'm about to take your bishop with my pawn," Howard taunted, leaning over just a little more.

"That doesn't matter," Raj returned, leaning so that they were an inch apart. "I can take your knight with my rook on my next move."

"So then you're making your move?"

"Shut up with the bad puns and kiss me already, you fool!"

"I bet you've always wanted to say that," Howard said with a grin.

"Yeah, kinda. But even more than that I thought it would be nice if someone actually did shut up and really kissed me instead of having a conver-"

Howard finally cut him off with a kiss. It was soft and warm, and just long enough for a first try.

"Like that?" Howard asked, moving away just slightly.

"Yeah," Raj nodded with a happy grin. "Something like that."

The second time was...