Raj did not know who broke the kiss. One moment they were there, both cradling the metallic headpiece with their hands while pushing its tactile sensors to the limits with their tongues, and in the next, they were both blinking rather stupidly as their eyes re-accustomed themselves to the light. He ran his tongue over his lips. There was something...he couldn't quite put his finger on it, but something was different. Before Howard could spot the frown on his face, he replaced it with a smile.

"Most impressive, dude," he said, giving Howard the thumbs-up.

"Yeah- if he doesn't want it, I might as well give the other to Bernie...," Howard trailed off as he saw the shadow fall over Raj's face. Raj figured he should have been used to it- the two were engaged!- but it still hurt that Howard- even Howard, with his risque jokes and (occasional) wildly inappropriate behavior- had a girl, but he didn't. He saw the apology in Howard's eyes, but simply shrugged, broke eye contact, and left.

As he walked along the corridor, Raj mentally replayed the process- he refused to call it the kiss- in his head. Perhaps it was the fact that the mouthpiece was simply a head without an adjoining body. Kissing a real girl filled his mind with an explosion of smell and taste that radiated from the girl's neck or hair. But while Howard hadn't been standing that close, Raj had been able to detect a whiff of the familar scent of cheese and milk. Raj shuddered as flashes of the night when they had smashed mouths surfaced in his memory. It'd given him nightmares of Beverly Hofstader telling him about their "ersatz homosexual relationship".

They'd had some moments that could be construed as gay, Raj had to admit, but it didn't mean that they had to be gay. They spent time on their own, away from Leonard and Sheldon, but Leonard and Sheldon spent time alone, away from Howard and him. Howard called him "honey" and he called Howard "dear", but that was just a joke between friends. Okay, they had shared a bed, but sleeping was all that they had done, without the bow-chicka-bow-wow, as Howard would put it. He was comfortable with Howard, yes, but not in that way. Comfortable enough for him to be able to review his memories objectively, to characterise and explain the differences, if there were any, between that night, and the previous events.

He closed his eyes and pulled out the memory, trying very hard not to consciously remember that it was him kissing his best friend. He remembered the first rush of sensory overload, of wine and a certain heat radiating off the person he thought was Bernadette, before realizing that the skin was too rough, the smell too familiar...

The wine. With a start, he realized that the scent of alcohol had pervaded every kiss he had shared previously. That wasn't surprising- he couldn't talk to women otherwise. Although his luck with girls hadn't been too bad before that. His lip quirked upwards, recalling all the crazy nights he'd had with the women who loved "the way you listen!". But in those cases, the alcohol had been on their breaths, not his. Because no one would want to kiss him unless they were drunk.

That thought was sufficiently sobering to give him pause. He could hear Bernadette reassuring him that there were a lot of girls who'd want to kiss him. Then again, the events that followed that statement did not exactly support her claim.

So that made this his first kiss. The first kiss where both parties were actually there, not midway between reality and alcohol-land. Raj gave a harsh snort. His first kiss, and it was with his best friend.

"Now, that's a thought to hold onto," he muttered to himself.