Annie lifted a stack of papers and tapped them on the table in front of her to straighten them. “The first session of the summer study group is now adjourned!”
Abed, sitting in his usual place, pointed at her with his pen. “Nice,” he said, cocking his head. “But we don’t usually formally adjourn the study group during the school year. It’s not a city council meeting.”
Annie shrugged his observation off. “Well, who says we have to do anything like we do during the school year, huh? We could…” she looked around wildly for something. “…give our group a cool name, come up with a motto…”
Troy said, “Do a rap.”
Abed was getting into it now. “Make a movie.”
“Play a trivia game!” Annie was pleased at how well this was going. Maybe she should see if the regular group would hear suggestions. “We could even change places!”
“Whoa, whoa.” Troy held up his hands in protest. “Let’s not overdo it.”
“Jeff would think it was stupid, anyway,” Abed said.
“Yeah,” Troy said, “He’d be all like, ‘Isn’t it bad enough that we barely study at these things? Now we’re going to add more moronic rituals?’“ His impression was pretty good.
Abed laughed. “Oh yeah, and Britta would jump right down his throat. ‘Moronic? What an outdated, ableist term.’“ Abed’s impression was even better.
Annie gave it a try, too, in Shirley’s high-pitched sweet voice.”Oh, now, Jeffrey, I think these ideas would really help give us a festive mood. We could even have an opening prayer.’” Abed and Troy nodded encouragement. She dropped her voice to low and menacing. “Unless you got some problem with that.”
The guys laughed. Annie smiled. “And Pierce would say…” She trailed off, realizing he wouldn’t say anything – he wouldn’t be there at all. “I kind of wish they were taking summer classes like we are,” Annie said, a touch glumly. Then she shot each of them a grateful smile. “Thanks, guys, for agreeing to do this with me, even though we’re all taking different courses.”
“No problem,” Troy said.
“Mish mushkila,” said Abed.
Annie stood, gathering her things. “I’ll see you guys later, this was fun!”
A few minutes later, Abed and Troy left as well, walking the other direction.
Garrett, who had been sitting there silently the whole time in the usually empty chair beside Annie, finally spoke up. “Now why was I invited here again?”
If there was one thing Annie Edison knew how to do well, it was how to plan.
Annie had promised herself that she wouldn’t fall into the same trap as last summer. That was one of the reasons she had pushed the idea of a summer study group on Abed and Troy. She wasn’t going to spend another three months dithering over what would happen in the fall after an amazing kiss in the spring.
This summer, she refused to wait to see if her crush would make the next move. It hadn’t worked with Troy in high school; it hadn’t worked with Jeff last year.
What about Vaughn? her inner devil’s advocate asked.
Vaughn was different. He made all the moves, he actually pursued her first – and Annie had loved the attention. But ultimately his path diverged from hers, and they parted.
What about Rich? it persisted.
Rich was… okay, she actually did make the first move with Rich. She asked him out and he turned her down flat. It still stung, if she were being honest.
Waiting hadn’t worked, letting the guy call the shots hadn’t worked, jumping right in hadn’t worked. That was why this time, she needed to plan better.
Is he right for you? The voice was annoyingly relentless.
Annie didn’t know. But she was going to find out. She’d spent two whole years of college with him, getting to know his likes and dislikes, learning to respect and love him as a friend. He claimed to be bad with emotion – but she knew he could feel. So he used pop culture to channel his emotions. So what? Better than guys who needed alcohol or adrenaline before two honest words left their lips.
Abed was a puzzle – Annie loved those. Abed was a challenge – Annie had never backed down from one. Abed was a friend – Annie hoped he could be more. And she was determined that she would explore this to the bitter end.
Annie hefted her backpack onto her shoulder and stood. Time for more research.
If there was one thing Troy Barnes knew how to do well, it was being a friend.
Troy used to think he was good at almost anything he tried. The coaches at Riverside High had told him that, all his jock friends had, and the pretty girls had, too. But his first two years at Greendale had shown him otherwise.
So he could dance a bit, and act a little; he was pretty handy with a wrench and he managed a passing grade in most of his classes, even though algebra was going to be a close call this summer. But he hadn’t found his ‘true calling’ yet.
He envied Abed sometimes, for his clear vision of his future. He was sure Abed would go on to direct films, maybe even one of the classics, like the Kickpuncher saga. Man, that would be so dope.
Troy didn’t have any such clear vision. The only thing he could see ahead of him were a lot of days of hanging out with his best friend.
And that was just fine with him.
So, what do you want to do today? asked his inner voice. Hang out with Abed? That sounded awesome.
Troy finished packing the last of his things and zipped up his backpack. “I’m going to school!” he called up the stairs to his dad’s bedroom. Troy had moved out of the Hawthorne mansion after the paintball game this spring. It didn’t seem right to sponge off of Pierce when he had taken part in voting him out of the group. His dad had been unhappy about it, but Troy was still his son. Troy had promised him it was temporary; he would find another place for the fall.
He wished Abed would let them room together in the dorms, at least for the summer while Troy was figuring out where we was going to live next year. He spent every day over there anyway (better than dealing with his dad’s girlfriend and the disturbing noises coming from the bedroom) and a lot of nights he just crashed on the couch.
Abed had been right, just like always. They’d spent the year living in separate places, and their friendship was stronger than ever. In fact, Troy would often count the minutes until he saw him again, if Abed was in another class, or on the ride to school.
Do you love Abed? the voice asked.
Of course he did. So what? Couldn’t a dude have feelings for his best friend? Completely unromantic but totally true and deep feelings?
No, the voice persisted, do you love love Abed?
When Troy reached the bus stop, he sat down heavily. He’d been having a lot of thoughts like this lately.
Maybe you should ask him if you can live together again. And get turned down again?
He knows you need a place to crash. True.
But before you ask him… you better make sure that’s the only reason you want to live together…
Troy sat up straight. That was the only reason, he thought defiantly. Abed was his best friend, he needed a place to live, why shouldn’t he ask again?
The bus arrived just then. As soon as he took a seat, he popped in his earbuds. No annoying inner voice could compete with a sick beat.