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The Comic Book Store Verification

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Howard looked up from the book of comic art he had pulled randomly off the shelf and pretended to read. His eyes darted left, then right. There was hardly anyone in the store. Captain Sweatpants was absorbed flipping through the bin of dollar comics, eyes nearly popping out of his head, looking for that elusive addition to complete a collection. Sheldon was turning a model of Green Lantern over and over, checking for any design flaws and no doubt criticising the manufacturer's engineering. Leonard was, for some reason, deeply engrossed in pornographic manga, and Stuart was busy cross-checking an order that had just arrived. That left Raj, who was standing just a few feet in front of Howard, flipping through the latest issue of Batman, smiling, nodding in places with his goofy grin, shaking his head at some pages and tsking with his tongue in others. Howard drew in a long deep breath and held it. He took a step towards Raj, and repeated his visual check of the store. He did it again twice, until he was standing right in front of the oblivious Raj, who continued reading. Without looking, Howard reshelved his book in the wrong place and wiped his sweaty palms on his thighs.

He stared holes in Raj's head, willing him to look up from his book. Finally it worked - Raj stared quizzically at him, brow furrowed. Howard did one last check of his surroundings, and took a last, deep shuddery breath.

Then he kissed Raj. On the lips.

He pulled away after a quick moment and surveyed his friend's face. Raj was still looking at him quizzically, but grinning. Howard was even more nervous now, so he swallowed hard, and did it again.

This time he let his fingers rest on Raj's cheeks and held the kiss just a second longer. When he pulled away this time, Raj's grin was even goofier, and showed off his teeth.

"Dude," he asked, "what are you doing?"

"Just, y'know," stammered Howard, "just... checking."

Raj shrugged, a grin pulling at the left side of his mouth.

"Anytime," he offered, and went back to his reading.