I was thinking about the Howard/Bernadette relationship last night and today, since I'm writing "How He Met Her Mother," and that combined with the episode last night got me thinking about something…this is the result of that.

Disclaimer: CBS, take it all, it's yours!

"Penny and Bernadette. Penny and Bernadette. Penny and Bernadette." Raj sat in his swivel-chair and used a foot to spin it around. He'd been there for nearly fifteen minutes, mumbling to himself. "Penny and Bernadette!" He was calmer now then he had been when he'd burst into his office nearly in tears, and now that the general hurt had faded he dropped the less hurtful name from his rant. "Bernadette, Bernadette, Bernadette!" He spun the chair harder, feeling a bit dizzy.

There was a light knocking at his door. "Hey, Raj?"

Raj stopped the chair. "What?" He knew that his voice sounded bitter, but he didn't care.

"Could…I come in?"

"I don't care."

The door opened and Howard slipped inside. "Hey," he said with forced enthusiasm. "What's going on?"

"Well, let's see," Raj said, pretending to think. "What is going on? Oh yes: yesterday you and Bernadette went with Leonard and Penny to see Avatar…for the third time. Today, you and Bernadette are going to Longbeach. Tomorrow you are going with Bernadette to that stupid Cheesecake Factory staff party thing. Sunday, you and Bernadette…"

He could tell by Howard's deep sigh after the second example that his friend got it, but Raj was too mad, to…betrayed…to stop until the engineer held up his hands. "Okay, okay." He came over to the desk. "I get it. I've been spending a lot of time with Bernadette…but she is my girlfriend…and Leonard spends twice as much time with Penny!"

Raj looked away. "Leonard wasn't my best friend."

Howard looked hurt. "Past tense? Raj…really?"

Raj was thinking. The word 'wasn't' had just slipped out. How to explain his hurt? He'd been grumbling "Bernadette" as the source of his wound, but was it really her existence alone that was hurting him? Raj thought no. Just as Leonard and Penny's relationship wasn't what hurt him. He took a breath. "Do you remember when I was working with Sheldon?" Howard nodded. "Leonard told me that you felt left out, and that you were spending time with him and Penny because you were lonely. All the things that we used to do-line dancing, or to the Farmer's Market…you couldn't do them with me, because I was with Sheldon." Raj felt a bit of anger flare up and into his next sentence. "But now you're always with Bernadette, dude! I can't hang out with Leonard and Penny because I can't talk to her, so what am I supposed to do? We used to do everything together…and now it's like we aren't friends."

Howard looked surprised at first, but then sighed as the words hit home. "I hadn't thought of it that way," he said. He looked at Raj, who refused to make eye contact so Howard wouldn't see his eyes watering. "Raj," the engineer said quietly. "Will you look at me?" Once Raj, with a heavy sigh, looked up, Howard continued. "I have a girlfriend. I hope that never changes. But you are my best friend. Not 'were.' Are. I'll make more time for us, okay?"

Raj looked up at his friend-man, that chair was low-for a long moment, a solemn expression on his face. Howard figited, obviously nervous about what the astro-physicist would say. Raj tormented him with silence for a moment longer, then twisted his hands to do the finger trick that Sheldon still could not figure out.

The two best friends burst out laughing.

That was my first try at a Raj/Howard fic…let me know what you think.