It started during their weekly viewing of Heroes (at Raj's house, because Leonard and Sheldon stopped watching the show, claiming they weren't masochistic enough. Like everyone didn't know that Leonard was the most masochistic one of them, living with Sheldon.), when the first tv-broadcast trailer came on. Raj turned to Howard excitedly. "It's not like we'll have anything else to do on Christmas, right? Let's go see Sherlock Holmes."
"I'm not so sure about this whole homoerotic angle they're supposedly playing up," Howard said. "I mean, we've both read the books, right? I never picked up that kind of subtext between Holmes and Watson. Maybe with Moriarty, but not Watson."
"Seriously?" Raj looked surprised, which was... surprising. "Totally aside from the hypersexualization of everything these days, that's still not that big of a leap to make."
"So, what are you saying here? There's no such thing as a close friendship that doesn't have some sort of sexual tension underlying it?" Howard crossed his arms, and Raj shook his head quickly.
"I didn't say that, but you have to admit that there's room for someone to make that leap. That's practically the basis of the female side of most fandoms."
"That is both gender-biased and kind of dirty. And totally implausible in the real world! Are you saying that Sheldon and Leonard have sexual tension?" They both made a squicked-out face at that thought.
"Sheldon doesn't have sexual tension with anything. I don't think he's capable of it."
"Point. Are you saying we have tension?" For a moment, just long enough for Howard to think wait, what?, Raj froze.
"I didn't say that either." He was suspiciously still. Howard's brows arched.
"But you're not denying it."
"No, I'm not."
"....that pretty much means you're saying it." The silence stretched on for another moment, and then Raj frowned, leaning back into the couch.
"What, do you want me to say it? Yes, Howard, I secretly yearn for you."
"The frightening thing is, I really can't tell if that was sarcasm or not." Raj crossed his arms, scowling at Howard.
"Sometimes you are such a douche. Are you going to tell me you don't think there's any tension between us? You make up sexual tension between yourself and any woman who looks in your general direction, but can't deal with the fact that we have moments?"
"I didn't say that... wait, you think we have moments? Really?" Howard looked stunned by that idea. Raj was not impressed.
"Not any more, we don't."
"Oh, hey, come on. You're really serious about this? I thought you were just fucking around."
"Can we please forget this conversation ever happened?"
"No. No way. You can't put the genie back in the bottle."
"That metaphor implies I should be getting my wishes granted, not ignored." Raj bravely tried to ignore Howard's hand on his shoulder and found that he couldn't quite make it to the point of not caring.
"Hey, you wanted to go see the movie, I'm agreeing to see it with you, that should count."
"Oh, now you agree. You're not afraid I'll think we're having a moment?"
"Since when have you ever scared me? Come off the defensive for a second."
"I'm not being defensive."
"Yes, you are." Slowly, Raj unfolded his arms and looked Howard in the eyes.
"...maybe I am, but it's a perfectly rational response."
"If I were going on the offense, sure, but I'm not attacking you here, I'm trying to take you seriously. Just... honestly, you think we have sexual tension?" They stared at each other, and then Raj sighed and decided he might as well go for the whole truth.
"Yes. There have been times when I thought you were about to kiss me."
"And that didn't bother you at all?"
"Not really." Raj couldn't hold eye contact; every time he lifted his gaze, it dropped right back to his hands after the briefest of moments. "Obviously I'm the only one who thought anything like that."
"No, you weren't."
"What?" His head snapped up, and Howard looked at him steadily.
"I didn't say I thought we didn't have moments. I was surprised that you thought that we did, but I know what you're talking about."
"...what?" His confusion wasn't alleviated at all by Howard's response, nor was he comforted by Howard's quick smile.
"There have been times when I thought I was about to kiss you. I thought it would freak you out if I tried it. If I had known that you were thinking the same thing..."
"So I'm right! There is sexual tension between us!"
"Is that really all you're going to take from that? That you're right?"
"Not all, just the first thing. I like being right."
"It looks good on you," Howard said, reaching out to catch Raj's face in his hands. He leaned in slowly, giving plenty of time for the thought to sink in that yeah, he really was about to kiss him, and neither one of them could quite subdue a grin in the moment before their lips met.