"Why are we doing this again?" Leonard asks.
"Uh, because the Young Avengers are awesome," Howard replies. "Besides, the characters work out perfectly for us."
"Yeah, okay. Except we don't have a Patriot."
"And you and I look nothing alike."
Howard sighs. "You're upset that you don't get to be Vision, aren't you?"
"Yes!" Leonard exclaims. "I finally convinced Penny to be Cassie for us, and—"
Leonard is interrupted by Sheldon stepping out of his room in his Vision costume and asking, "How do I look?"
Leonard waves a hand in his direction. "And he gets to be Vision," he finishes.
"Yeah, like we wouldn't have Sheldon be the android," Howard says.
Leonard looks at Sheldon for a moment.
"Whatever," he mutters, flopping down on the couch in defeat.
"Excuse me," Sheldon says. "You haven't answered my question yet."
"You look great, Vision," Howard complies.
"Why, thank you, Wiccan," Sheldon responds.
"Oh, for the love of—" Leonard says, just as the door to their apartment opens.
"We're here," Penny announces, stepping into the room with Amy and closing the door behind them.
"Although I'm still unclear about exactly who I'm supposed to be," Amy adds, glancing down at her purple costume.
"You're Hawkeye," Leonard explains patiently.
"I thought Hawkeye was that guy from the movie. He was the one with the really nice butt," Penny says.
"That's Kate's namesake," Leonard replies, choosing to ignore Penny's last comment. "You see, the original Hawkeye, Clint Barton, died for awhile, so Kate Bishop…" At this point, Leonard senses that he's losing his audience. "You know what? Never mind. You shoot a bow-and-arrow. That's all you really need to know."
"Okay," Amy says, nodding.
"What was my name again?" Penny asks.
"Stature," Leonard answers. "But her real name is Cassie Lang. And I should tell you, she kind of has a thing with…" He points to Sheldon.
"What was that about me?" Sheldon asks, turning away from whatever conversation he had been having with Howard.
"I was just telling Penny about how Cassie and Vision have a thing," Leonard tells him.
"Oh, yes. That's correct," Sheldon says. "It's unfortunate that our characters are romantically interested in one another, but alas, we all must make sacrifices in order to stay true to our roles."
"So does that mean that Cassie and Kate don't have a thing together?" Amy asks sadly.
"No, sorry," Howard answers. "Kate actually sort of has a thing with Speed." He gestures to Leonard.
"And Patriot," Leonard adds quickly.
"But we don't have a Patriot," Howard reminds him.
Leonard mumbles something incomprehensible in response.
"Aw, so there's no one left for you?" Penny says to Howard, patting him reassuringly on the shoulder.
"Actually—" Howard starts, before the apartment door opens again.
"Sorry I'm late," Raj says to the group at large, before turning specifically to Howard. "Hi, Wiccan."
"Hey, Hulkling," Howard replies.
"Okay, are we ready to go now?" Leonard asks, standing up.
"Hang on, I have to pee," Sheldon says.
"Right." Leonard sits back down.
"So whose idea was this anyway?" Penny asks.
"If you're referring to the brilliant idea of being the Young Avengers this year instead of the Justice League again, that was mine," Raj replies.
"Well, nice going, Raj," Penny says approvingly. "This costume is way better than the Wonder Woman costume. Plus, I don't have to wear a wig."
"Thank you," Raj says.
"Raj just didn't want to get stuck being Aquaman again," Leonard confides to Penny.
Raj shrugs. "That, and I really wanted to be Hulkling."
"Well, yeah, Hulkling is great," Howard says.
"Hey, way to be in character, dude," Raj responds.
"All right, we can go now," Sheldon proclaims, returning from the bathroom.
"Finally," Leonard says, standing up again.
The comic book store is more crowded tonight than it's ever been before, which also means that there are more entries in the costume contest this year than there have been in previous years.
"We're going to lose to the Watchmen," Leonard says. "This sucks."
"Who are they?" Penny asks.
"The Watchmen are the superhero team from the movie adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name," Sheldon supplies. "They weren't actually called the Watchmen, though, you know. They were called the Crimebusters, and their predecessors were the Minutemen. In fact, no teams were ever actually called the Watchmen at all."
"Thank you, Sheldon," Leonard says, attempting to cut him off before he becomes too involved.
"Oh, wait!" Penny exclaims suddenly. "Was that the movie with the blue penis guy?"
"Yeah, that's the one," Leonard allows, with resignation.
"It'd probably help their chances of winning if they actually had a Dr. Manhattan, though," Howard says. "Silk Spectre is looking a little lonely, if you catch my drift…"
"Dude," Raj says, punching Howard in the arm.
"Sorry, sorry," Howard apologizes quickly. Raj glares at him but doesn't say anything. "Aw, come on, baby, don't be like that."
"Silk Spectre has Nite Owl, anyway," Raj says finally, with some bitterness.
"Uh, guys, we have a situation here, remember?" Leonard says.
"We might actually still have a chance of winning," Sheldon responds thoughtfully. "We just have to be extremely convincing in our roles."
"I'm not sure if I fully understand my character," Amy admits.
"There's no time for that," Leonard says. "The judges are on their way over here."
Stuart and the other two judges approach Sheldon.
"The Young Avengers?" Stuart says. "Nice."
Sheldon nods stoically.
"Yeah, I'd buy him as Vision. No Patriot, though?" Stuart asks disapprovingly.
"Well, no, but—" Howard says.
"Oh, you're Asgardian. Cool."
"Actually, it's Wiccan now."
"Oh, yeah, that's right," Stuart says, before turning to Penny.
"I don't think we're doing a very good job," Raj whispers to Howard.
"You think?" Howard snaps.
"Well, don't get mad at me!" Raj responds. "I'm not the one who can't seem to stay in character right now." He looks at Howard meaningfully.
"Okay, okay," Howard says. Then: "Wait, I think I have an idea."
"What is it?"
"Just… don't move."
Then Howard puts his arms around Raj's waist, looks Raj in the eye, and leans forward, closing the distance those last couple inches between their lips.
"Mmf!" Raj says, though he doesn't pull away. In fact, he brings his own arms up and wraps them around Howard's waist, pulling their bodies even closer together.
When they break apart a few moments later, Howard looks embarrassed, but there's a smile pulling at the corners of his lips. Raj, meanwhile, can't seem to stop himself from grinning.
"Oh my god," Penny says.
"Who else is unsurprised?" Amy asks. "Anybody?"
Sheldon raises his hand.
"Okay, you guys definitely get some points for extra authenticity," Stuart says.
They end up coming in second place.
The Watchmen come in first.