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Mercurial Adventures in Chemistry

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As do most days that end with a vague sense of relief and confusion, the Mysterious White World Incident (or, When Britta Had to Admit She Didn't Actually Know Any Pescatarians) started with the dean.

"...and for our first Friday, because that's how this works and we all know it, we've got Catholicism! So enjoy those bone-free fish fingers in the cafeteria, and don't forget to take an extra moment—sometime that's not during class, thank you very much—to think about just what you've done."

In the pause that followed everyone carefully didn't look anyone else in the eye. And they certainly weren't wondering about the pleased hum they heard before the dean cleared his throat and said, "Yes, okay then. The photo-confession booth will be open at four. Happy December, Greendale!"

Abed's head cocked as the announcement speaker cut off with a screech. But it was Troy opening his mouth that made Jeff finally speak up.

"No, fish do not have fingers."

Headed off at the pass, Troy frowned. "Like...buffalo don't have wings?"

Jeff didn't hesitate. "Exactly."

"Ah," Abed nodded wisely. "Everything tastes like chicken because it is chicken."

Troy's eyes got really wide. Britta jerked suddenly, and leveled a death glare at Jeff, who just narrowed his eyes at the two sharing meaningful looks, and prompted, "Now that you know..."

"Another talisman...for the battle," Troy and Abed breathed together.

Their hands might have twitched, like there was a ritual to be conducted in time with those words. But first rule of blanket fort trumped all, and they simply added a significant smile to their exchanged look.

"So, since not everyone is bothering to show up to study for the final," Pierce announced, grinning down at his phone, "I just made an appointment for sex."

The silence of many raised eyebrows made him look up.

"Really," he said. "See?"

He presented his screen. Then, having reduced the silence to one of shock, he smirked and rose, brushing past Annie and Shirley on his way out of the library.

"But, wait, aren't we...?"

Annie trailed off as Troy's face crumpled, and he wailed, "I need to unsee that! Oh, make it gone."

**

Three hours and many unspecified doings later, Annie whispered, "There she is!" and everyone looked up from their empty plates as she waved at Britta as carefully as it was possible to do so without attracting Star-Burns. When Britta finally elbowed her way through the line between the cafeteria door and their table ("Can I just—no, I'm not cutting"), the confused grimace on her face disappeared after one glance down, swallowed by an "O" of comprehension.

"Abed still has friends back there," Annie told her, beaming across the table.

Britta gave Abed an impressed look and two thumbs up.

Abed inclined his head in recognition.

With some quick and careful maneuvering of bags and Shirley's stomach, Britta sat and a full plate of fish fingers appeared in front of her. There was a full minute of silence around the table, broken only by Leonard's irritated whine as he continued to lodge the complaint that he might not live to see another fish finger, so shouldn't he have another now while he was still able to chew it himself. Then Britta finally surfaced for air.

"I cablive y'sved allthzfrme," she got out, a fish finger in each hand to ensure the flow of deliciousness.

Jeff's smile was a bit queasy around the edges. "Abed has generous friends."

Troy nodded and tightened his arms around his stomach, almost holding it. "Yeeeah. I...I think I might be part fish now."

"Well, considering the amount of time I've spent eating...fish...today," Pierce said, wiggling his eyebrows and making almost everyone sigh wearily, "I'm willing to have some more." And he reached toward Britta's plate.

A clattering splash behind the serving buffet didn't draw their attention away from the immediate issue half as well as Star-Burns bellowing, "I need that water to live!" did the trick. Even Britta stopped before launching into what was sure to be a fascinating diatribe on the degradation inherent in sexual innuendo to stare at one of the lunch ladies taking her now-empty pot and swinging it into Star-Burns's head. The top hat went flying, hitting the dean as he flailed into the room about 30 minutes too late to even try being effective. Annie and Shirley gasped, and all of every proverbial hell broke loose.

Abed had been sliding ever farther down in his seat for a while, and now he went the last bit under the table. Then suddenly Troy disappeared.

"Um," said Jeff, eyebrows rising.

The two of them popped up two booths over and each held out a hand toward the rest of the group.

"Come with us if you want to live," they said together in one big rush.

"What?" Shirley scowled. "There will be no—"

A wail rose above the din, and then the dean appeared: held high above the crowd of admittedly scary looking students who were now crying loudly and incessantly for fingers.

"Okay, I don't think they mean fish fingers anymore," Annie said in a very concerned voice as she scooted closer to Jeff.

"Come with us," Abed repeated urgently, hand still outstretched.

"If you want to live," Troy finished.

"Well, I don't care what they mean." Jeff grabbed the plate from in front of Britta and, ignoring her savage kick to his shin, he flung the plate through the air into the melee, hitting Leonard on the back. As Leonard went down under the students-turned-scavengers, Jeff said, "But I have been hanging around Abed's brain long enough to know a good exit cue when I see one."

Everyone else still at the table blinked, then nodded vigorously.

**

The muffled sound of glass breaking was becoming more audible as the crazed crowd made its way off Greendale's campus and closer to Jeff's apartment. But that didn't seem to be bothering anyone.

"We're all here...why, again?" Jeff asked, not slurring, but close to it.

"The dorms are likely compromised," Abed said from by the door, words just a shade more precise than normal. "And you have more furniture."

Jeff looked around at where Annie, Shirley, Pierce and Britta were in various stages of passed out on the floor. "Which is supposed to be used for sitting on, not barricades," he said almost plaintively. Then he put a hand palm-up toward the ceiling. "And why do I feel like I'm floating?"

"Because you ate less fingers than me," Troy said with a sure, hard nod that almost took him off his perch atop the couch shoved against the door. "If you'd had two more, maybe you'd be up here with me."

Jeff frowned and stabbed his other hand accusingly up at Troy. "Did you take fingers from me? So that you could float and I couldn't?"

"I waaaant to float," Pierce moaned.

"No you don't," Abed said, and now he was holding onto the coffee table leg like a lifeline.

"If anyone's going to float," Jeff growled, "it's me."

Annie rolled over onto her back, running into Abed's feet and making him hang on even tighter. Then she opened her eyes and looked up at Jeff with an admiring smile, "You're tall."

"He's always tall," Britta pointed out. When she smiled up at Jeff, it wasn't a nice smile. "Sometimes because he's wearing heels."

Jeff glared, but his arms stayed up.

Loud thumping, quickly getting closer, finally brought Shirley out of her stupor. So much so that she sat straight up and said, "I am not having a baby during an earthquake," in that ominous mother voice.

"Are you having the baby now?" Troy asked, eyes wide.

"Not if there's an earthquake," she said, displaying a fantastic grasp of logic.

Just then the door—and therefore the couch and the coffee table and the small end table and the little lamp that Jeff had said was for when he needed precision lighting—shuddered with a thud thud thud knock.

"Go away!" Troy cried. "There is absolutely no one here!"

"Except us chickens!" Pierce added.

"Seriously?" Jeff asked him, his arms finally lowering just in time to catch Troy as he toppled forward when the door suddenly swung outward.

"Your door is wrong," Abed said from his new position crouching in the corner next to the door.

"Chang," Jeff shrugged. And Troy said in a similarly resigned tone, "Chang." Then, "Don't drop me."

"You're strong, too," Annie said, and then the men who had been doing all the thumping and thudding came in and things got really confusing.

**

The white coats were supposed to be for their own protection, that's what everyone said.

The white room was to keep stimulation to a minimum, but then they put them all in the same room, and that kind of defeated the purpose.

At least everyone eventually just ended up staring into space as the mercury they'd been told their yummy fish fingers had been saturated with made its way out of their systems. Except for Jeff, who apparently worked out his problems by giving his speech again and turning his paranoia to other targets.

Poor Harrison Ford. He'd never be able to prove he knew nothing about the satellites.

**

It was very dark by the time they were dropped off back at campus with a stern warning to not ever eat anything.

"Anything?" Annie asked. "That's an awfully broad—"

"Not anything that comes from this cafeteria, anyway," said the man in sunglasses even at night who they'd come to know only as "Dan."

"O-okay," Jeff said, backing away. Everyone backed up with him.

"Dan" sighed. "Well, hopefully at least some of this sticks with you, this time," he said, and then there was a bright flash.

**

"Kickpuncher 3?" Abed asked when he and Troy got back to their room.

Troy grimaced. "Yeah, not really in the mood for anything violent."

Abed paused, considering the shelf in front of him. Then he plucked out another DVD and held it over his head for Troy to grab.

"Reading Rainbow Favorites," Troy read, a wide smile taking over his face. "The disc collection that's always special."

Happy with their choice, they settled into the couch. But before pointing the remote at the tv, Abed asked, "Snacks?"

Troy looked over at the table, and the big box of peanut butter sandwich crackers with "PROPERTY OF GREENDALE FOOD SERVICES" stamped on its side.

He turned back to Abed and said, "Pizza."