Disclaimer: All rights and characters belong to Chuck Lorre and CBS. Nothing is mine but the creativity and storyline.
WARNING: This is AU (Alternate Universe) and it is SLASH. If you do not like slash or AU, DO NOT READ. This is The Adhesive Duck episode, minus all the Penny and Sheldon loveliness. This is just Howard, Leonard and Raj at the camp site. But Raj doesn't eat his Marihuana-laced cookie while Leonard and Howard do...
"I wish Penny didn't have to work, she loves camping," Leonard told Raj, sitting beside him. It was about 9pm and they were all out camping up in the hills to see the meteor shower. Sheldon hadn't come with them, thankfully, because he decided to stay at home and finish his paper on the decay of string-states.
He and Leonard were watching television on the monitor they'd brought with them, connected up to the areal that Howard had configured. Howard was out observing how many other campsites there were around that area, in case of emergencies.
"Yeah," Raj droned back to Leonard as he kept his eyes on the monitor infront of them, his arms folded across his chest, "That would have been great. You and Penny having sex in the tent while I sit out here and watch Howard hump a cactus."
Just then right on queue, as if he'd heard his name, Howard came strolling back into their campsite, swaying his torch beside him like he was happy about something. "OK," He began, his tone high, "The best I can tell there are eight other campsites nearby – mostly science nerds like us – but, just over yon-ridge, are two not-unattractive middle-school teachers who reek of desperation!"
His eyes were mainly set on Raj now, whose eyes lit up as if he was a little kid in a candy shop. He sat up in his seat as Howard sat in the chair beside him, grinning back at him widely.
"Wonderful!" Raj exclaimed, "How old are they?"
"I don't know!" Howard almost yelled, shrugging his shoulders like age didn't matter, "Fifty? Fifty-five?"
Leonard tore his eyes away from the screen to give them a disgusted looking face. But neither were looking at him, they were too busy grinning at each other like silly schoolboys. It was almost sickening how giddy they were about fifty-five year old middle school teachers. Boy, they must be horny.
"Oh, menopause," Raj beamed, bobbing his head in approval. Howard automatically sub-consciously synchronised his movements with Raj's until both their heads were bobbing together – it was something Leonard was used to now, so he didn't need to strain his already-disgusted facial expression even further. "Natures birth control."
Now he felt more like laughing at them both rather than disgusted with them. They were ridiculous. "Come on," He said, disbelieving, "You guys can't be that hard-up!"
There wasn't even a long pause before both of them answered confidently.
"Yeah, me too."
Turning away from Leonard now, who looked exasperated already, Howard zipped open the bag hanging around his neck. "They gave me home-cooked cookies," He told both Raj and Leonard, holding them up for both to see.
Leonard didn't glance over, however, and kept his eyes on the monitor. "Of course they did, that's what grandmother's do," Leonard droned, uninterested in this conversation now.
Raj ignored him completely, and stood up from his seat, holding his arms out at Howard as if he was mad, "So what are we waiting for?"
"Relax," Howard told him, laughing breathily as he opened up the bag containing the cookies, "I said we'd stop by a little later, after they have their nap." He shook his head at Raj, delving into the cookie-bag.
Raj smiled again and sat quickly back down, "Good idea – they'll be refreshed."
Howard laughed slightly, and the sound made Raj's smile perk up into a beam. Leonard looked over to them both, and saw Howard taking out a cookie and placing it on his lap before pushing the bag closer to Raj.
"Cookie?" Howard offered, and Raj dived into the bag.
"Thank you," He said quietly, avoiding Howard's gaze. But Howard then turned to Leonard and offered the bag out to him, too. Leonard took one and Howard sat back into his chair comfortably, taking his cookie and taking a bite.
"Mmm," Leonard mumbled in approval, his eyes back on the screen. "Not bad!"
"Hmmm..." Raj sniffed, sneering down at his cookie. He'd barely even taken a bite out of it, "...These aren't that good."
"Well, if you don't want yours, I'll have it!" Howard told him, before snatching up the cookie from Raj's hand and taking a huge bite out of it. Raj shook his head and wiped his hands clean of crumbs.
"So tell me more about these teachers!" Raj asked, turning in his seat to be closer to Howard.
Howard shrugged, his eyes on the monitor, "Not much to tell," He began, his mouth full of cookie, "They had a VW Micro-bus and they were wearing thigh-dyed 'Grateful Dead' T-shirts."
Raj nodded once and turned to the screen, "Huh..."
Leonard took another bite from his cookie, before looking down at it and nodding in approval, "Good cookies!" He exclaimed, turning his head towards Howard, who still remained munching on his, and cookie-free Rajesh.
It didn't take long for the cookies to take effect.
Raj sat in his chair between dazed-out Leonard and Howard who were gazing up towards the sky. It kind of freaked him out how un-focused they were. He didn't yet know the cookies were behind it, which weirded him out even more. No one wants to be stuck at a camp site in the middle of the night with two spaced-out guys who probably couldn't even remember their own middle names!
"Stars are pretty, aren't they?" Leonard said, a little louder than intended, blinking rapidly up to the sky. Raj stared at him, his brow still furrowed like it had been for the past thirty minutes since both Leonard and Howard sunk into their chairs, seemingly ignoring Raj completely.
"Up above the world so high... Like little diamonds in the sky." Howard droned, his voice breaking at the last word. Raj looked over to see if he was crying, but saw him grinning – as fazed-out as ever. He was about to ask what the guys' deal was, but Leonard interrupted him.
"That's beautiful," He said, a smile spread across his face, "You should write that down before someone steals it."
Raj shook his head in disbelief, sitting forward in his chair, holding his arms out on either side of him in an almost-peace-offering gesture. And he was wearing his classic 'WTF' face.
"So when do the meteors get here?" Howard asked, his voice starting to slur slightly. Raj looked over. He decided it was like all those times he had to drive Howard home after a failed night of woman-hunting and he was almost-pass-out drunk. This kind of reminded him of it, but he knew they both couldn't be drunk because they'd brought no alcohol with them.
"No-no, the meteors don't get here, the Earth is moving into their path..." Leonard answered Howard, almost in awe, his hand circling absently in the air beside him, and he seemed unable to stop the gesture as his hand kept moving round and round.
There was a pause, in which Howard let out a long, droned sigh, followed by a huge grin as if he'd heard something hilarious.
"I can feel it..." Leonard started again, and Raj looked over to him, a single dark eyebrow raised high up on his forehead, "...I can feel the Earth moving!"
Raj's mouth fell open, and he sat gawking at Leonard like he was some sort of alien. Oh, God... What if alien's came to abduct him and Howard and Leonard couldn't help because they were... well, like this!
Leonard's ecstatic beam rapidly disintegrated into a worried frown, and his eyes widened as though he'd realised something important. "It's moving too fast – Raj, slow it down!"
Raj sighed in exasperation, falling back and sinking deep into his chair. He hoped for a moment that the chair would just open up and swallow him whole. But if he hadn't heard the reality in Leonard's voice – as if he believed he could actually feel the Earth spinning on its axis – Raj probably would have slapped him across the face.
But it was there, the harsh reality of it. Like a hallucination – it couldn't possibly be there but it feels so real. But along with his realisation, came fright. Almost frightened about the Earth spinning too fast for him. Raj felt a wave of sympathy come over him, and he responded with compassion.
Sighing again, he turned to Leonard – who was still gazing up at the stars, now wearing a very worried expression – and said, "What am I supposed to do about it, dude?"
Howard then interjected as Leonard took a breath in to answer, "Oh, don't ask Raj, he's too dumb to figure it out." And when Raj looked over to him, his mouth forming a small 'O' as if he couldn't believe Howard had just called him dumb, he saw that Howard was making an odd face, as if he was lifting something heavy – or straining.
He held it for a number of seconds, still sneering up at the night sky, until he sighed and leant back in his chair, as if making a facial expression had tired him out. "OK, how's that?"
Raj groaned, leaning forwards again and taking his face in his hands so the world was engulfed in darkness. What was going on?
There was a beat, before Leonard answered, "Better, thanks."
Raj just stood there, looming over them both like an unwanted shadow. His hands were on his hips, and his eyebrows knit together in frustration. He just wanted to know what was causing his friends to behave like this, and put it to an end so they could sit and watch the meteor shower together.
Leonard and Howard had now perched themselves on some large nearby rocks, lazing about on them like they were their beds. But despite how uncomfortable they must have been, both kept smiling like a humorous telepathic joke kept running through them.
Raj was simply out of things to say to them – to ask them. They wouldn't listen to him, barely even acknowledge his existence. They would just keep gazing up at the sky, talking about random, meaningless things that nobody was interested in. He felt like it would be easier to talk to two potatoes than to his friends at the moment.
"I hate my name," Leonard announced, both unexpectedly and unimportantly, "It had 'nerd' in it!" He sounded upset about it actually, although he'd never brought it up before now, and Raj wasn't about to console or disagree with him, "Len-nerd!"
Just then, much to Raj's surprise, Howard announced just as unexpectedly, "I lost my virginity to my cousin, Jeanie."
Raj stared at him then, almost flawed by his casual proclamation. He couldn't believe it – his cousin? That was beyond disgusting, that was like... just; ew!
And the thing that got to him most about it was that Howard had never even told him about it. Sure, a huge secret like that you'd want to keep a secret, but Raj couldn't believe Howard had kept it from him. They'd been best friends since their first day at the university almost five years ago, and Howard knew – in detail – how Raj had lost his virginity.
No... the worst part was Howard had lied to him about how he lost his virginity. He'd told him it was some girl at his high-school who he couldn't even remember the name of!
Oh God, he was so angry!
"What?" Raj yelled, pointing a long tanned finger in Howard's direction. OK, maybe it was unreasonable to react like this – perhaps overreact – but it still didn't take away how much it hurt him. "What? You're cousin?"
Howard ignored him completely, and went on with his reminiscing, "It was my Uncle Murray's funeral, we were all back at my Aunt Barbara's house. Our eyes locked over the pickled herring – we never meant for it to happen!"
There was a long pause, in which only crickets could be heard. Raj hadn't realised he'd been holding his breath until his chest started to tighten painfully.
He drew out a long sigh, yet his rage bubbled to the surface as he yelled at Howard, "You're unbelievable!"
"You know what's a cool name? 'Angelo'." Leonard went on, seemingly regardless, "That has 'angel' and 'gello' in it... People could call me 'Angie'. 'Yo, Angie; how's it goin'?'"
"To this day I can't look at pickled herring without being aroused and ashamed."
A disgusted snort tore through Raj's throat, and he found himself at loss for words. He couldn't believe how angry he was right now, and over something so small – something he should be laughing at! But in Howard's comatose-like state he found it hard to deceiver whether to be angry with him or feel sorry for him.
As he stormed away from them and back to the tent, he heard two words float painfully on the breeze around him.
"...*sigh* Cousin Jeanie."
Raj emerged from the tent a good insane-driving twenty minutes later, to see Leonard scrounging in the cooler, throwing out empty containers as he did so, and Howard desperately licking inside a pudding cup.
"A-Anything?" Howard asked Leonard desperately, his voice stammered.
From deep within the cooler, Leonard called back, "No, that was the last pudding cup!"
Howard's face drooped and his eyes opened wide as if he'd seen a ghost, "No!" There was a beat, and then his face slowly began to smile, "What about Slim-Jims?"
Leonard came up from inside the cooler to look at Howard in a face that expressed the way Raj felt, "That's what you used to eat your pudding, remember?"
Before Howard could register a reply, Raj cut in, more confused than angry with them now, "What are you guys doing?"
But both Howard and Leonard ignored him. Leonard buried his head deep within the empty cooler and Howard stood in a state of shock, one hand hovering out infront of him and the other on his head.
"Wait-wait-wait, so you're saying... that we're out of food?" He asked, his voice high-pitched and desperate.
Raj suddenly realised and it hit him like a tidal wave. His nerves jerked with the shock of it all before panic rose in his chest, quickly followed by anger which quickly took over.
"You guys ate everything?"
Once again, however, the boys ignored him and Leonard's head popped up from the cooler, holding two icepacks in his hands as if they were women's breasts.
"The only things in here are blue ice-packs." The disappointment was visible in both his expression and his tone, and he threw the packs back into the cooler, before leaning back on his knees and turning his face heavenwards, closing his eyes, "Oh, I am so hungry!"
"Me too," Howard said, chewing desperately on his nails and looking around them frantically as if expecting intruders or a squirrel to run up to them with a basket of biscuits.
Wait... Biscuits? Cookies?
Oh, God, no.
Then Howard's face lit up like every candle of Honokaa and he turned to Leonard, his arm extended as if he had a brilliant idea, "...Check and see if we have any pudding."
When Raj turned to Leonard to check his expression, relief washed over him when he saw it was one of confusion. But suddenly, he dug back into the cooler and exclaimed, "OK!"
Raj groaned in frustration, falling down onto his knees and twisting onto his butt until his legs were crossed and his head was rocking on his hand, propped up on his elbow.
Just then, Howard jumped giddily on the spot and held out his hands flat as if he was doing one of his weird dance moves. "Wait!" He said sharply, causing Leonard to jump and pop back out of the cooler. Howard dashed past Raj – once again, ignoring him completely – and dug deep into his backpack.
"Yes!" He almost screamed, his head held high as if he was celebrating something tremendous, "My mother put an I-Love-You Brisket in my backpack!" When Raj looked over, he was clutching the tub of said Brisket to his chest as if to protect it from any harm that would befall it.
Leonard leapt over to him, knocking over the cooler as he did so, "Quick, get forks!"
"You don't need forks; it's so tender it falls apart in your hands!" Howard spat, fumbling anxiously with the lid of the container. At this, both he and Leonard dived into the Brisket, and upon grabbing a handful, Leonard exclaimed–
And as they dove into the poor Brisket like animals, Raj sighed deeply. This was not how he pictured spending the meteor shower with his friends. He had seen it as a bonding opportunity, like when they'd went to the North Pole and had to sleep together naked. Only he'd figured this bonding opportunity wouldn't be as graphic.
He wasn't even bothered about bonding with Leonard, as such. He knew he only wanted the attention from Howard, no matter what that attention may be. It was probably why he got jealous whenever he saw Howard eye up another girl, or run off and leave him whenever someone prettier came along.
He thought back to when Leonard's mother came to visit; he and Howard had created an 'ersatz homosexual marriage'? What's that supposed to mean when one of them was unbelievably, and hopelessly, straight and the other couldn't speak to women? That it's true – or that it's not true and they both basically really suck at getting girls?
Whichever one it was, it didn't explain why his chest was tight and compressed over his lungs, almost squeezing every last bit of air from them. Or the way his heart was palpitating in his chest, threatening to burst from his ribcage at any moment.
He closed his eyes and tried to drown out the sound of his 'friend's' animalistic chewing as they destroyed the Brisket. Sighing, he flopped onto his back until he was lying on the floor.
When he opened his eyes, he watched the meteors trail across the sky, and retreated to the tent when he felt a warm drop of liquid run from the corner of his eye into his hair.
There were three knocks to Raj's door, and at first he expected it to be Sheldon, muttering his name three times and adding another six knocks. But when nothing followed after the three knocks, he sunk lower into his couch and turned up the volume on his TV, knowing exactly who it was.
Just as he suspected, Howard called to him from the other side of the door, hearing the change in television volume, "Raj? Buddy? Can you open the door?"
Raj didn't answer, only pulled his jacket tighter over his sweater-vest and stabbed at the volume button for the TV.
Howard became frustrated and started yelling, "Come on, buddy, don't be like this! I didn't know the cookies were drugged!"
The anger rose back up in his chest, and Raj – noticing the television couldn't go up any higher, and wasn't doing a good a job as he'd hoped in tuning out Howard's voice – hit the 'off' button and sunk (if it was possible) even lower into the sofa cushions.
He didn't want to talk to Howard, no way. No matter how much Howard begged. Nope. No way. No matter how much he missed seeing him in his ridiculous turtle-necks and skinny jeans. No matter how much he missed the sound of his laugh, or his impish smile. No matter how much he missed being able to lean over and tickle him with his hot breath as he whispered in his ear. No matter how much he missed his touch, or the looks he gives him when their eyes meet. No matter how much his heart was screaming at him to open the door, you idiot. Nope, he was not going to open it. No way.
Aw, screw it, he has to open it.
And he never realised just how much he'd missed Howard until he saw his face.
Raj stood in the doorway, wearing his best 'I-couldn't-care-less-on-the-outside-but-secretly-I'm-dying-inside' expression and blocking all ways into his apartment so Howard couldn't barge in.
"What do you want, Howard?" Raj spat, coldly, immediately regretting it but standing his guard. It didn't matter what kind of chemical reaction was going on in his chest – he was mad at him.
Howard shrugged and then sighed in what almost sounded like relief. "I just wanted to apologize – again – and make sure you were OK." There seemed to be something hesitant about him, about the way he shuffled on the spot with his hands behind his back and avoided Raj's gaze. It was unnerving but fascinating at the same time, but to Raj it was just infuriating.
"Well, I'm fine. Goodbye." And when Raj was about to close the door in Howard's face, Howard's hand shot out so fast it was a blur. It wouldn't have been noticeable if the impact from his palm hadn't made a loud bang echo around the apartment.
Raj sighed in exasperation and opened the door just wide enough for his whole face to be visible.
He saw this time that Howard's face was distorted into a confused, angry, almost disgusted-like sneer. Raj opened his mouth to ask what else Howard wanted, when Howard began to shout at him.
"What more do you want from me, Raj?" He yelled. It was strange for Raj to hear Howard yell. So strange, in fact, that all he wanted to do was slam the door shut and hide away in his room, burying his head so far underneath his covers he would end up back in New Delhi by the time he reached the surface again.
"I've done nothing wrong, alright? I was high on marihuana! I didn't know those cookies were laced! If you'd eaten those damn cookies, too, you wouldn't be angry at me right now, you'd be... you'd be..." He stood gawking like a fish as he searched for the words, and Raj took this opportunity to cut him short.
"Oh yeah, is that what you think? That if I'd gotten high, too, none of this would be happening? That everything would just be all honky-donkey?"
"No, I didn't say that–,"
"You were thinking it!"
"What are you so mad about anyway? Is it 'cause I got high with Leonard and not you?"
"Then what is it then? Because I have apologized and apologized and you can't seem to accept it! I don't think it's just about me getting high, I think it's about something that I can't remember – something you're not telling me!"
Perhaps it was hearing him shout, or the fact that his face had gone such a shade of shocking red that it matched his skinny-jeans. Whatever it was, it caused Raj to loose it, and the thing that he'd sworn to himself never to say came spilling out his mouth as if the words themselves were made of ice-cream.
"I'm mad because you lost your virginity to your cousin Jeanie and you never told me!"
There was a long, intense pause. The air was thick around them, and they both were panting hard as if they'd just run a marathon. They'd never been this angry at each other before. Why was it different now? A few cookies and suddenly they hated each other? No, they can't be it...
"What?" Howard asked, his voice to small it was barely a whisper, "What, that's it? That's what you've been so mad about?"
Raj didn't answer, just looked to the floor, his cheeks flaring up violently. He felt the heat spread from his cheeks right up into the roots of his hair. He literally was burning up. What was the problem here?
Howard breathed a small laugh, "That's alright." He told Raj, smiling slightly. Raj still didn't look him in the eye but took note of the little smile, causing his cheeks to flare up even more. "I'm sorry I never told you, but you can understand why, right? I mean my cousin! I can't believe I actually admitted that!" His face was burning up now too, but probably for different reasons than Raj's was.
Raj smiled a little, a little impish smile almost identical to Howard's, "Well... you never actually admitted it until just now."
Raj burst into laughter, shaking his head, feeling much better already. "I'm just kidding, dude."
Three weeks later...
"So if you take into account all the other aero-dynamic models around the world, the one I designed is the only one in the world to have an automatic cup re-filler!"
The gang were all sat in Sheldon and Leonard's apartment, gathered around the coffee table eating Wednesday's Thai food. Sheldon was in his usual spot, with Howard on his right and Leonard on his left. Raj sat beside Howard, tucking into his Thai food, considering he couldn't talk with Penny sat across the room from him beside Leonard.
Howard was explaining the new cup re-filler he'd persuaded to have them put into all the newest rockets under construction that year – despite the fact that in outer space, the drink wouldn't actually go into the cup; it would just float around the ship.
He didn't actually believe that they were really putting it in, merely humouring him, but considering he'd done nothing interesting for almost a month it was a good enough conversation opener for him.
As always, Sheldon interjected, "I don't see how it would be feasible to have a cup re-filler aboard a spaceship, Howard. All space liquid has to be in a tightly sealed container, due to the zero-gravity in space. To have something in space that freely dispenses liquid would be absurd, one would never be able to catch it in said cup – it would just float around ship!"
God, how things were much easier at the campsite – the moments he could remember, of course.
Just then, Raj leant over and cupped a hand over Howard's ear. His breath was hot and his lips pressed against his ear ever so slightly as he whispered, "I really am delicious caramel, Howard," and at that, Raj's tongue licked inside Howard's ear.
Howard giggled uncontrollably, hunching up his shoulders and backing away, leaving Raj to lean back into the couch – satisfied with himself.
"What did he say?" Penny asked, her mouth full of Thai.
Howard's grin slowly faded and he looked over to Raj, who was still smirking uncontrollably, "Um..." He wondered why no one noticed when Raj winked at him, "...He was just saying congratulations when his breath tickled my ear."
It was suddenly becoming easier and easier to be a bad Jew.
A/N: *squee!* OK :D Another Howard/Raj one-shot! I know it's REALLY LONG for a one shot (ten pages of Microsoft Word :O) and including this segment here and the segment at the top it contains 4,596 words! Wow.
The episode name is up the top, and yes, I did use real quotes from the episode. :)
I hope you liked this one! Reviews are always a plus! ^_^