The artist sunk deeper into his novel, chestnut brown eyes trekking back and forth, eagerly drinking up every word on the page. It had been ages since he had last sat down with a good read. He loved to simply immerse himself in the adventures of fictional characters. As a child, retreating into fantasy worlds was his favorite thing to do on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Oh, comics were, and always would be, the great love of his life but there was just something about sinking your teeth into a good book. The wonderful imagery that the author calls to mind makes reading a novel almost better than reading a comic book. Almost.
Stuart idly pawed at the table situated next to him. Slowly, drawing his eyes away from the book and over to the table, he spied the chilled bottle of Gator-Aid and deftly snatched it up into his grasp. Returning his attention back to the novel, the man soon lost himself in the fantasy world once more. Minutes seemed to turn into hours without his noticing and it wasn't until he heard a jingle of keys in the door that the man realized the amount of time that had flown by. Not much time, mind you but time none the less.
Rajesh Koothrappali was making his way inside to the small apartment the two shared, wearing a rather unfriendly look across his usually cheery face. Stuart laid down his book, making doubly sure to mark the page he was on and glanced up to greet his friend.
"Hello... " he said a bit bemusedly. "I thought you were going out with the guys? Weren't you supposed to be gone till like 7 tonight?" Stuart checked his watch. It was barely after 1 PM and Raj had only just gone out a few hours before.
"Yeah." Raj laughed bitterly. "Guess what happened? You know... what always happens! Everyone goes off to be with their girlfriend and here I am... all alone, with no one. I'm just pushed aside like some sort of seventh wheel or something."
The comic shop owner blinked at the man, following him with his eyes, as he stomped off behind him and over towards their kitchen. He had to twist himself around to continue his gaze as the Indian man busied himself with grabbing a Vitamin Water from the stainless steel fridge. Crossing back towards Stuart once more, Raj made his way around the side table and over towards the opposite end of the couch. He sat down, wearily, feeling very much like his whole world had ended.
"I'm sure they don't mean to seclude you, Raj." Stuart offered. "They're just busy is all. Things come up, you know?" He supplied the man with a small smile. It was enough to calm him down and soon the astrophysicist found himself smiling warmly back at his friend.
"You're right, they probably don't. Maybe I'm just being childish." he nodded, playing with the already peeling label on his drink. Staring intently at it, he mulled over the past few hours' events in his head.
Seeing this as the signal of the end of their conversation, Stuart scooped up his book with both hands and dug back into it. Feeling his mind relax as it journeyed back into the storyline, he sunk into the sofa with a grateful sigh.
Such a dutiful friend, so kind and so loving; Stuart was without a doubt the most interesting person Raj had ever met. Life had seemed so much simpler since he'd decided to share his apartment with the curly haired man. Of course, the beginning of their relationship had started off much more casual than that, more circumstantial.
He remembers the late night movie dates, the two of them sharing an oversized popcorn and an extra large, sugary sweet soda. He recalls laughing unabashedly together at the comical nature of nerdy alien movies and tearing up at the emotional moments of chick flicks, both unafraid to cry.
In short, he had found a good friend in Stuart. He was so thankful, so lucky to have this relationship in his life. He had been so lonely for so long. Could it be that he had been willfully blind and ignorant of the amazingness of this man before him? Surely, this was the kind of person who had been missing from his life all along. He had been ignoring the signs of this stony yet deeply emotional man who had been teetering just on the outside of his social circle for so long. Raj felt a tug at his heart strings as he thought about his new friend. His feelings were becoming clearer with each passing second. He smiled as he watched the man, sitting engrossed in his book oblivious to his audience.
The dark haired man tore his eyes away after a moment and towards the gleaming glass table in front of them. Friendship was something that many take for granted but never Rajesh Koothrappali. Growing up, back in India, he had always been very well taken care of. His family had money, riches, everything they could have ever wished for. But, he had been lonely, despite growing up in a large family. Having many siblings did not help and he often found himself alone. He finally figured out he could use his family's riches to buy friends but they were tainted, spoiled people who turned out not at all loyal to him. They didn't really care for him as a person and instead were all about the money. Of course, they were. That's how people were. Quickly learning this, he stuck instead to the various servants that worked in their home. They would never truly be his friends, he figured, but for the short term they were good enough.
Raj shook the unpleasant childhood memories from his mind, focusing back on the present day. Yes, coming to America had evoked many, many changes in his life but never one so important as finding a true place to belong. Finding friends, that was what he had been most proud of accomplishing. He had been so happy to find a group of people he felt he could really connect to once he began work at the University. Shifting his gaze back towards the pale man before him, he broke out into a smile once more.
The very presence of this man, this wonderful beacon of hope and optimism, brought joy to his every day lately. Yes, Raj felt that Stuart was a very optimistic person, even if that optimism was sometimes lacking in Stuart's own life. He wanted to repay his friend for his loyalty but he didn't know how. He just wanted to thank him over and over again. Feeling as though he may burst from the amount of love emanating from his chest, he slowly slid closer and closer towards the man until their thighs were pressed very nearly together as they sat on the expanse of the sofa. If Stuart noticed this he did not give any indication whatsoever, continuing to follow along the words on the pages in his book.
Raj wished he'd put that stupid book down and pay attention to him.
The astrophysicist contemplated their situation, him sitting there bored and Stuart wrapped up in some sort of novel. He was growing rather impatient trying to gain the man's attention and feeling like he might starve if he didn't receive it soon. He sighed loudly, hoping to gain a response of some sort from the older man.
Stuart however, was captivated by a particularly interesting chapter. "The ship creaked and moaned as the storm waged on. The pirates and the sea worthy sailors were both oblivious to the dangers they were about to face out on the open sea." Stuart read silently.
Raj tried sighing louder this time but there was still no acknowledgment from the artist. He bit his lip in deliberation and began sulking with arms crossed and everything. A moment or two passed between them, the artist seemingly oblivious to the inner torment he was causing the other. Raj nibbled at his bottom lip in contemplation. His eyes flickered down to the remote on the coffee table in front of them.
He jabbed at the large red power button at the top of the remote turning on the television. Flipping through a few channels he finally settled on ScyFy and increased the volume to ear shattering decibels.
Stuart sighed, beginning to feel very irritated. He twisted to his side and shoved the book down onto his lap. "Do ya have to watch that so... loudly? I'm trying to read here."
Raj faked a look of astonishment. "Oh my gosh, dude. I'm so sorry! I didn't realize it was that loud."
He began turning down the volume immediately.
"It's fine... " Stuart muttered, already feeling like a douche for even bringing it up. He began to backpedal almost immediately. "Sorry, it's not a big deal."
"No! It is a big deal." Raj shook his head rapidly, agreeing with his friend. "I am going to turn this off right now. You concentrate on your book. I'll be quiet, I promise."
"Thanks." Stuart grinned at his room mate before returning to his book.
Raj grinned devilishly, their T.V. now turned off and the apartment silent once more. He tried to think of other ways to disturb the man. Leaning back against the smooth expanse of the beige couch, he stretched out both of his long, muscular limbs along the back of it. He paused once he felt the soft, almost plush like material of the afghan draped behind them on the back of their couch. He smiled conspiratorially to himself.
Tugging lightly at the blanket upon which Stuart was currently leaning against, Raj set about pulling it out from beneath him. A few more tugs and it was free, though not without completely disturbing the man once more.
He had nearly dropped his book this time! Glancing at his room mate in near fury, Stuart Bloom sighed in quiet exasperation before returning once more to the enthralling tale of Pirate Jenkins & The Sea Of Cultane.
Prize in hand, Raj set about the next step in his plan. He draped it around himself quietly and paused a moment before leaning back and sinking down further into the seat. Gazing at Stuart out of the corner of his walnut brown-esque eyes, he began to whistle a slow tune before quickly picking up speed and volume.
"Raj! What are you doing?!" Stuart exploded dropping the book once more. "I'm trying to read here! I mean it. You keep... it's like you're trying to disturb me or something. Is there anything you want to talk about?"
He looks concerned and outraged all at the same time and it strikes Rajesh that he has never quite seen such conflicting emotions in someone before. The two expressions seemed to battle one another on the man's face before one was declared the victor. The result making his facial expression one that was worried and friendly if not still just a tad cross.
Raj dropped his giddy little look and the afghan as well, staring down at his lap remorsefully. "I'm sorry... no, you go on... read your book, Stuart."
He made to get up, intent on retreating to his bedroom in solitude when the comic shop owner stopped him. His hand grasped hard around his left wrist, leaving a slight mark as he yanked the man back down in to a sitting position. Stuart peered into his face intently, book forgotten and now laying on the coffee table in front of them.
"Raj... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have snapped at you. I know that you're upset. Your friends aren't hanging out with you as much anymore. I get it. I mean, take it from a guy who used to have quite a lot of friends... I mean, sure they weren't close friendships but... they were friends none the less. And now... now I... I don't really have anyone. It kinda sucks."
"You have me."
He'd made the simple statement with a sort of hushed sincerity and it made Stuart's heart swell to hear it.
He beamed, looking up and nodding at his friend. "I know. I know, I do."
Raj grinned at the man and leaned against him, bumping their shoulders together playfully. "So... what's on the agenda for this afternoon?"
Stuart took the hint that Raj was feeling rather lonely and decided to abandon his book. He shrugged, matching the man's grin. "Klingon Boggle?"
The astrophysicist laughed so hard he felt tears leak out of his eyes and it took several minutes before he was able to compose himself again.
The two shared a look that made them burst into a fit of giggles once more and all that could be heard from the tiny apartment was their conjoined laughter as it carried out into the hallway of the apartment building.
Raj felt that he'd much rather be here at home after all. Who needed paintball with the gang anyway? He relished in the look that Stuart held on his face as his laughter died away and he shifted into a cross legged position on the couch.
Falling into a comfortable silence, the room mates each let their gazes fall away from one another. Stuart glanced once more at Raj, retrieving the remote control from the coffee table. "T.V.?"
"T.V." Raj agreed.
They both settled in to their positions on the couch and began watching the television in front of them, each content and feeling oh so very grateful to have the other in their life.