Dallased (Intro to Dream Interpretation 101)
"A dream is a wish, your heart makes when you're fast asleep."
-- Disney's Cinderella
Abed stood in the center of his cramped DARSIT, head bent over the console. "Something's not right," he muttered.
"What is it, Inspector?" Troy asked. He pushed a strand of shiny red hair from his wig out of his face. "It's not the Blorgons, is it? Because Aidan and I are meant to be on our honeymoon, and he's not going to be happy if we have to stop before the boom-boom," he told Abed.
"Umm, it's all right, Angie, if the Inspector wants to stop, then that's fine," Annie said, hissing under her breath, "stop making him not like me!"
"Brill, we'll go traveling then, crikey, cheers," Troy said.
"Don't do that," Annie said.
Troy looked abashed. Abed ignored it. "No, it's like there's a beating sound. Can you hear it? Like a heartbeat inside my head."
"But you haven't got a heart, Inspector," Annie said.
"And no one has a heart inside their head," Troy agreed, and then frowned. "Do they?"
"The Rondons have hearts inside their head, but it was an inefficient system, and they always complained about the noise before they died off," Abed explained. "And no, Aidan. I don't have a heart." The Inspector said, looking away with dramatic poignancy. "No Space Master has a heart. But we still feel. For some of us, we hear that heartbeat we don't have throughout the long, long years of our lives, and feel empty without it. We can surround ourselves with it, and make the best of it, or follow it, searching for a way to make it ours. It can drive us mad."
"Mad, like angry, or mad like crazy?" Troy asked.
"Crazy," Abed confirmed.
"That doesn't sound good," Annie said. "But there's no other Space Masters, right, you're the last one?"
"There is another," Britta said, pushing open the door of the DARSIT and stepping inside. "Man, I'd forgotten how tiny it was in here," she said. "I'd gotten used to the Peacemist headquarters."
"Captain James Haggard. How did you get here?" Abed asked.
Britta shrugged. "Hitched a ride. You know how it goes, just needed out of there, you get me, right?" She gave Troy and Annie a look over. "So, new meat again, Inspector? You always did have good taste." She flashed a wide smile. "Hello, Captain James Haggard."
"Don't do that," Abed said.
"I'm just saying hello!" Britta protested.
"You're always just saying hello," Abed answered.
"Only because you never let me say hello, Inspector," Britta teased. "You two don't mind, do you?"
"Nope," Annie said.
"Completely cool with it," Troy agreed.
"Nothing wrong with hello," Annie said.
Abed tilted his head. "I should have put in triple bunk beds."
"I'm good with bunking up," Britta told him, giving the Lakes finger guns. Annie wrinkled her nose uncertainly. "But I came to tell you, Doctor-"
"Inspector," Troy, Abed, and Annie said at once.
"Right, Inspector. Sorry. I came to tell you that you're not the last Space Master anymore. The Sergeant is back."
"Who's the Sergeant?" Annie asked.
"My oldest nemesis," Abed said. "And my only friend. He's the only one who understands what it's like, staring into the Time Wave."
"That is so sad," Troy said. "Can I hug you?"
"No," Abed said. Troy pouted, and he relented. "Yes. Briefly."
Troy hugged him, as Annie asked. "But why's he coming here?"
"To stop The Inspector," Jeff said, sweeping in through the door.
"You should look into better locks," Annie said.
"Sergeant!" Abed said. "You're not welcome in my DARSIT. Unless you've come to mend your ways, and travel with me in peace."
"Four's a crowd," Troy muttered.
"Not if you've got imagination and a big enough bed," Britta said with a wink. "I'll show you later." Troy looked at Annie to see if he should be excited, and she shrugged and gave him a thumbs up.
"I think not," Jeff said. "Face it, Inspector, you've had this coming for a long, long time. Always traveling around, with your companions, and their heartbeats, listening to the beating of it. Some part of you must have been waiting for me to end it, to take you away from all of this before you become like me." He paused. "Are you buying this?"
"Not really," Abed said.
"I didn't think so. I mean, you travel through time and space with a bunch of hot people, I'm not really seeing the downside."
"Tight space, and no privacy," Annie pointed out.
"One bathroom," Troy added.
"Granted. But other than that." Jeff shrugged. "Anyway, here, I'm going to take away your memory." He pulled out an alarm clock, finger poised over the snooze button threateningly. "Say goodbye, Inspector!"
Annie gasped. "Inspector, no! You can't forget me! I love you!"
"What? I'm your WIFE," Troy said.
"Not like that, just, you know, general love," Annie said. "And anyway, you're the one planning foursomes with the Captain!"
"Yeah she is," Britta agreed, smirking and swishing her long coat meaningfully.
"No more Inspector for anyone!" Jeff cackled madly, tapping his foot to the rhythm of Annie's heart. He gasped suddenly, a shock of electricity sending him to his knees, clock tumbling from his hand.
Shirley stood behind him, a Taser aimed at his back. "Hello, sweetie," she said. "You never call, you never write, and now you're just going to forget me? I don't think so."
Abed blinked. "Brook Ditty. How did you get here?"
"In your future, which is my past, which is Aidan's future but Angie's past, and James' present, you told me how to use the DARSIT's energy to go back in time, and then forward in time, and then sideways through time to come here and save you," Shirley explained, holstering her Taser as Jeff groaned on the floor.
"Did you follow that?" Troy muttered to Britta.
"Not even remotely. But she's hot," Britta answered. "What about you, Mrs. Lake, you follow any of that?"
Annie shook her head. "Nope." She looked at Jeff with concern. "I'm a nurse, should I try to. . . help him?"
"Nah, it's cool," Troy said.
Abed knelt beside The Sergeant, bending his head. "Metamorphasize, damn you! Don't leave me alone here, the last of my kind, the lonely god-"
"Pushing it, Inspector," Shirley said.
"Oh, but you're not alone. You have your fellow Seekers, Inspector. And look, I brought my friends along, too," Jeff said, cackling again, waving weakly toward the door before slouching down, dead.
Abed straightened as Pierce strode mechanically through the door. "You are fleshy and inefficient. You will become Circuit-Chap. You will be assimilated."
"That's the Borg," Abed said.
Pierce paused. "Exterminated?"
"That's the ripoff," Troy said.
"Fine, never mind, you will all be deleted," Pierce said, bringing up his hands and flipping the metal digits back to reveal a pair of laser guns.
"Behind me!" The Inspector said. "The only way this could get worse is if the Blorgons show up."
"EXTINGUISH!" Chang croaked as he rolled through the door.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," Abed said, readying his sonic crowbar as the cliffhanger of a two parter episode came to a close.
"And then I woke up, and told Troy about it," Abed finished.
"Oh, well that's nice," Shirley said carefully. She looked over to where Pierce had nodded off. "Should someone wake him up?"
"No, if we're lucky he'll sleep until we're done. Abed, you told Troy? Troy, who stopped you five times to ask what happened next during the interminable period in which you were telling us that story? He had already heard the story?" Jeff asked.
Troy shrugged. "I get excited."
"He didn't take notes," Abed said. "But it was a Dallas episode, which is worrying on several levels."
"What levels?" Annie asked.
"I think it's about time we had another intervention about encouraging this sort of thing," Jeff said.
Abed ignored that. He knew the difference between TV and reality, and Jeff was aware that he knew. But that didn't mean he would ignore the pattern similarities. "Firstly, the Dallas episode heralded the end of the show. Secondly, it was widely despised by its fan base. And finally, it was endemic of systematic difficulties in the running of the show, which changed out a seminal producer during the shakeup."
Troy's brow wrinkled. "So. . . people got fired, and the dynamic of the show's creators were changed?" Troy reached over to push Pierce's mouth closed as he started to snore, which just made him snort and turn his head.
"Exactly," Abed said
Troy's eyes widened. "Vice Dean Laybourne! Someone should warn Dean Pelton."
"On it. Tweeted it," Abed said.
Jeff nodded. "That would explain the resume he accidentally cc'd me on. By the way, should anyone think about going to a bar called The Swinging Sword, I would think twice. Their past hiring standards are apparently highly suspect."
"I thought that was one of those places where they dress up like knights and joust," Shirley said. "Thank the good Lord I didn't get those tickets for the boys and Andre."
"I really don't think you have to worry about it, Abed. I mean, Dallas was like, twenty years ago. My mom watched it when she was a teenager. So it's probably not really relevant? It's really, really old," Annie ventured.
Shirley grunted. "I think we should maybe sit our pert little 20-something rear ends down and think about what, exactly, we consider old around here," she said.
"Shirley's right," Britta said. "No one's really old, and there's nothing wrong with having seen Dallas, even if you watched it in reruns on the Soaps network when there was a marathon, and you stayed in the same sweats for a week and cried over. . ." she trailed off. "I'm just saying," she finished defensively.
"Clearly, your concerns over the quality of things are completely unfounded. If we had fans, which we don't, they would already hate us, so your dream would be irrelevant." Jeff said.
Abed considered. "I'll have to watch for any changes," he decided.
Across the table, Pierce snorted awake. "I swear, those aren't mine, officer, and I've never seen that man before," he muttered, and then looked blearily around.
"Thank your deity of choice that we don't hear about Pierce's dreams," Jeff said.
Abed frowned thoughtfully.
Jeff put out a hand to the wall to steady himself as the ship rocked violently. "What in all the hells are you playin' at, Kaylee? My ship don't crash! It crashes, it's because you crashed her, and you are me are gonna have us some words!" He stopped, brown coat swaying around him. "Why am I dropping my g's?"
Troy rushed to a small section of wiring that was sparking, little flickering fingers of fire flaring out of the breaks in the wires. He sprayed them with the fire extinguisher. "Everything's shiny, Captain," he promised, wiping off his hand on his overalls.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, this ship is made out of primarily rust. Nothing is shiny except the doctor's boots." The ship lurched again, and Jeff caught himself, muttering aiya beneath his breath, and then stopping. "Did I just speak Chinese?"
"Sort of," Troy answered. "I'm pretty sure your pronunciation is horrible. Look, it's cool. It's fixed." The fire flared up again and caught the corner of Jeff's coat, making him jump. Troy rapidly doused the flames, looking sheepish. "My bad, Captain."
Jeff glared, but the fire was out, so he turned to make his way through the ship, passing through the hold, the narrow halls, and into the mess. "I feel like this would be a really, really long tracking shot," he said thoughtfully.
"Do you feel it, or do you have faith that it would be, Mal?" Pierce asked. He clutched a bible to his chest, and his thinning hair was gelled back into a pale imitation of cornrows.
"I have no idea what that means," Jeff said.
"I'm a Shepherd, Mal, not. . . something else that would explain itself."
"I'm not looking to be preached at, Shepherd," Jeff snapped. Pierce reached out, tweaking his ear sharply. "OWOWOW!" Jeff yelled, leaning in to the painful pull. "Sorry, fine, you can preach! Tell me some more about faith!"
Pierce let go. "I'm not even sure what I was going to say," he admitted.
"Well, you think on it and let me know. I've still gotta make it to the front of the ship in one take." Jeff said, moving on. He stopped as Dean Pelton stepped into his way, tossing the silken strands of his long, slightly lopsided black wig over one shoulder. "Oh good, someone else is going to talk at me a while. You have a problem, Inara? I trust you'll find a way to solve it while lying on your back, as usual."
"Ha ha, Captain." The Dean pursed his lips, cocking his hip and posing flirtatiously. "Well, Malcolm, we could step into your bunk to talk about it," he said. He waved a bejeweled hand. "No no, I'm kidding. Seriously, Mal, we have to stop at a decent planet soon. If I have to play nice with one more farmer's son as a client, I'm going to lose it. Just one nice, wealthy merchant with a good handful in his tightpants, that's all I'm asking. Or a ship's Captain, maybe, just for a funsies example." The Dean's eyes dropped downward, and Jeff put a hand reflexively in front of his gun. And his crotch. "You're not jealous and trying to keep me from working are you, Mal?"
"No. Not at all. In no way. That is not remotely ever going to be an actual thing that happens," Jeff said.
Dean Pelton pouted. "Well, fine then," he said, turning to flounce off.
Britta scampered by, barefoot and flirting her skirt up above her knees with her blond hair wild. She giggled at him, standing on her toes and then breaking into an impromptu tap performance.
"She always did love to dance," Abed said, watching her. "She just wasn't very good at it."
Britta froze, eyes going wide. "They're here," she whispered, sing-song.
"Who's here, River?" Abed asked.
Britta whimpered. "Simon, Simon, two by two, one's a Jew," she told him.
"Offensive," Abed said.
"What? She is? I Saw it," Britta argued. "There's nothing wrong with it! I'm just too smart to believe in God. I know everything."
"You'd best get your sister in hand," Shirley said, licking the blade of an improbably large knife. "That child's starting to creep me out."
"Jayne is a girl's name," Britta said. "And you're stupid."
"Children, stop it," Jeff said. "River, go play with Kaylee."
"Not a good idea. Ixnay on the Ayleekay, since that thing with the. . ." Abed lifted his hand, making a shooting motion.
"I could honestly not care less at this point," Jeff informed him.
"Cool, cool," Abed said. Britta darted off, Abed in pursuit as Shirley grunted something about smart-mouthed geniuses who needed a lesson.
"You could stand to play nicer, you know, Jayne." Jeff told Shirley.
"You're the one who takes on all the strays. I say kill 'em all and let God sort them out," Shirley said. She stopped and then amended. "Well, only the ones that deserve it."
Jeff ignored her, heading for the cockpit. "Wash, ain't you meant to be flying' this thing?" He demanded, as soon as he stepped through the doorway. He frowned. "I just said 'aint'. It's like I'm a Chinese orphan raised by rednecks in outerspace."
"I hear you, brother," Chang said, lifting his hands, scattering plastic dinosaurs.
"Wash, could you not do that? Could you just fly the ship, and keep your hands at ten and two, or whatever it is? And what is it with the Hawaiian shirts? Is this the future via VH1's I Love the 80's?" Jeff asked. "Zoe, why are you even here?" he asked, rounding on the man standing behind Wash's seat.
The Black Rider shrugged, arms crossed over his chest. "I'm hot, and can kill things."
"Yes, my baby can," Chang enthused, reaching to give the Rider a slap on the ass. He stopped as the Rider glared at him. "We're married?" he said weakly.
"There must be a story there. A story I hope I never have to hear," Jeff said. "You could do better," he told the Rider.
"Preachin' to the choir, Captain," the Rider said.
"It was his legs. And where his legs met his back. That area. Wash is all about the rear end, baby, he bought the whole tow package," Chang enthused.
"I can hurt you," the Rider said flatly.
"Where's the girl?" Annie asked, standing in the doorway suddenly with what looked like a glowstick, her hands covered in blue gloves. Leonard stood beside her, one glove on, the other hanging from his pants pocket. He gave them the raspberries. "Oh, would you stop that!" Annie snapped. "Would it kill you to do ONE job without acting like a child?"
"Pffft," Leonard said, spitting a bit as he gave her the raspberries again.
Annie huffed. "Where is River Tam?"
Chang blinked. "How did you GET ON THE SHIP? I don't RECALL PULLING OVER!"
Britta's voice came over the intercom system. "River isn't here. She melted away into the ship. She is the ship, now."
The intercom fuzzed, and then Jeff heard Abed. "No, you're not."
Troy burst through the door, dodging around Annie, and flung himself at Chang, hugging hard. "I love you, Wash," he whispered.
"And then I woke up, and it was all a dream," Troy said. "I had to spend an hour in the Dreamatorium to recover."
"Aww, from the trauma of it not being real, you mean?" Annie said with her characteristic head-tilt of empathy.
"No, because then I was thinking about the ending of Serenity again," Troy said. He sniffled. "He was a leaf on the wind, Annie. A leaf on the wind."
"One day, I'll understand what you all are talking about, and it will be a very sad day for me," Jeff said.
"Well, at least we can put this dream nonsense of Abed's behind us. The last movie I saw was when I took the boys to see The Chipmunks, and there is no way I'm spending a whole night thinking I'm Alvin," Shirley said.
"Jeff would be Alvin," Abed said, at the same time as Annie. He would have fist-bumped her, but she was out of reach, and had uncommonly bony knuckles. "I was wrong," Abed continued, eyes on the laptop in front of him, not looking up as Annie and Jeff began to argue the relative merits of their diorama devoted to the likely origins of Godzilla in a modern retelling designed to drive home the dangers of corporate waste to a new audience, for their 2-credit course, Reboots and Remakes, the Science behind Hollywood Recycling.
The pause left ample space for elaboration, but Abed wasn't certain that was what was expected, so he didn't bother until Shirley sighed and prompted. "Wrong about what, Abed?"
"It's not a Dallas ending," Abed said. "In a Dallas homage, it would already be revealed that this was a dream, which would allow us to move on to the next episode's theme. So this isn't a fake-out plot device. It's a cut-away fantasy sequence episode, where we feature a number of different unlikely sequences that provide a break from the regular format while still showing recognizable traits of the characters."
Jeff picked up a small diorama figure of a screaming Japanese man, his skin painted an impossible yellow and his eyes improbably slitted, and held it up to Pierce. "Firstly, no, Pierce, we've discussed racist dioramas, and why they're bad. Annie made you flash cards, remember?" Annie helpfully held up a card labeled dioramas should be enjoyable for everyone. "And second - Abed, I have no idea what you're talking about. Translation?" Jeff asked Troy.
"It's an alternate-universe episode. Since Abed talked about his Inspector dream, and then I had my Firefly dream to discuss, we're all going to have to do it, this episode," Troy said.
"Not living on TV, real life, not an episode," Jeff pointed out.
"Television tropes exist as a mirror of society, which in turn mirrors television. Life, mirroring art, mirroring life, mirroring commercial breaks. There's symmetry. This is fantasy-sequence episode." Abed considered making a helpful flow chart, but decided it would be unnecessary. Britta picked up her soda, the KFC label turned toward Abed. "Product placement," he said. She turned the cup hastily the other way.
"So. . . like an alternate universe? Like fanfiction? Like a story where Buffy the Vampire Slayer lived in Colorado, and didn't slay vampires, but gave them career counseling, and her best friend introduced her to this freshman werewolf who was smart and worked hard and. . ." Annie trailed off and flushed. "I was fourteen! Willow understood my pain!"
"Fanfiction is an abomination. It spits in the eye of the original creator's vision by introducing new elements that were never intended to exist. Most of them involve porn." Abed looked up from the Cougar Town Facebook long enough to stare at Annie and impart the seriousness of his stance using Jeff's default "earnest" expression.
"What about additional canon introduced by the creators, after a show's initial run?" Jeff asked.
Britta gave him a look, but no one else did. It was a frequent phenomenon that Jeff's social gaffes were accepted when they wouldn't have been from anyone else, Abed had noticed. He thought it had something to do with Jeff's inherent acceptance as "cool", despite evidence that could easily refute that by traditional standards. "Acceptable, but frequently irrelevant to the main storyline and ignored or contradicted by core canon," he said.
"What about existing universes that published extended canon with new writers, and the old writers go crazy and keep changing the original until you can't even remember what that old man who carried the lightstick looked like anymore?" Shirley asked.
"Unsavory, but still counts," Abed decided.
"What if someone wrote, for example, Cougar Town fanfiction, and then the show was picked up for six seasons, and they-"
"And a movie," Troy interrupted.
"And a movie," Annie conceded. "And then the person who WROTE the fanfiction was hired to write for the show, and then the fanfiction becomes part of the show's canon?"
Abed paused, considering. "I need to write Cougar Town fanfiction."
Annie beamed and Pierce looked from one face to another, deciding not to ask. "So we're all going to have dreams. About fans?" He made a vaguely oscillating gesture with one hand, in time with an imaginary ceiling fan.
"I predict Britta will be next," Abed said.
"Why me? It's not as if I have vivid, impossible dreams about being a fictional character, carried upstairs by a handsome southern man with a mustache who ravishes me in a canopy bed without taking off the corset, so that I pass out in ecstasy when-" Britta stopped and crossed her arms over her chest as everyone looked at her. "What, I don't!"
"You're next because you're the worst. The weakest sequences are always packaged into the middle," Abed clarified.
"I am NOT the worst. Troy just spent an hour telling us about his space cowboy dream! Even Fat Neil would have checked out halfway through that! I'm not going to tell you about my dreams, because I won't HAVE one, but if I did, it wouldn't be the worst!" Britta protested.
"It was FIREFLY," Troy protested, affronted, and Abed reached to give him a fist bump of consolation.
"Can we all just agree to not talk about our dreams? Because frankly, my dear, there's nothing worse than listening to a bunch of people talking about what bizarrely random mix of barely remembered, incoherent subconscious soup their mind decided to serve up for them the night before that no one but them gives a damn about. We're all reasonable approximations of adults, I think we can agree that some things don't need to be discussed," Jeff said.
There was a chorus of agreement. Abed looked down again, scanning through the 14 Cougar Town stories listed at fanfiction.net and mentally filtering out the ones with misspelled names to exclude from his cursory pre-writing fanfiction research.
"Gone with the Wind?" Pierce suddenly asked Britta.
"I always wanted a hoopskirt," she muttered.
"Is that what that was? I thought it was Yosemite Sam," Troy said. "And I was wondering how he would manage to carry Britta upstairs, his legs are so tiny."
Abed brought up his to-do list and added rent copy of Gone With the Wind, edit out boring parts for Troy.
"I can't live without you, Edward," Britta breathed, staring adoringly at Jeff's incandescently glittering chest where it peeked through the neck of his sweater-vest.
Jeff swallowed, turning his head away with chagrin. "You're my life now, Bella. But you smell perfect. Like the most divine flavor of linguine carbonara, with just a hint of truffle. I can't be with you. I'm too dangerous. I'm a lone vampire, stalking eternity alone and lonely and isolated. I might someday snap and kill you. I'm a monster." He plucked at his sweater-vest, where it lay against his perfect marble chest. "This is the cotton-blend of a killer, Bella," he murmured.
Britta touched his glimmering hand, the fingers shapely and perfect, like a flower that was shaped like a perfectly picturesque hand. It was cold, the way her heart would be for the rest of her life, if Edward left her. "What will I do without you? How will I go on? You don't understand, there's nothing else for me, Edward!"
"'sup?" Troy asked, standing next to Britta, his dark skin conspicuously not-pale, next to Edward, who gleamed whitely in the glow of the moonlight, even its dim light catching the sparkle on his skin, turning it to dazzling jewels, like he'd been bedazzled by god.
Britta turned to look at him, and stopped. "Heeey, Jacob, when did you get so hot?"
"Caught a fever of a hundred and werewolf," Troy answered. "It upgraded my hotness by a factor of ten. I can fry eggs on my abs, now, and keep you warm at night, girl."
"Hey, sparkling and tortured over here," Jeff breathed, voice silken and crabby at the same time, like whispering velvet, gone stiff from spilt milk no one had wiped up.
Troy flexed, and Britta reached to wrap her arm around the warm bicep. "Huh. You must work out."
Troy grinned. "I've got a werewolf tattoo. Want to see where?"
"You'll never love her the way I do, Jacob," Jeff accused. "I can read your thoughts, I know-" he stopped, brow wrinkling. "Is that a reverse cowgirl you're thinking of?" He tilted his head. "Wow. I feel some sparkle heading south for the winter. I should have worn looser skinny jeans."
"How does that even work? I mean you're dead, the only thing that should be stiff is your limbs," Troy asked.
"Edward, I can't help it, I love you both," Britta said. "I know you're my future, and my present, and my everything, but Jacob. . . I mean look at him. And he puts out! I need him in my life, too!"
"That's the naughty kind of threesome," Troy said.
"I'll leave you to him, then, he's so much better for you, Bella. I must keep you safe, and do what I think is best, regardless of your actual feelings on the matter, because I am a chivalrous gentleman," Jeff said. "Goodbye, Bella. If you don't hear from me, I forgot the number. Or I tried to commit suicide via sparkling in front of some generically evil and European vampires, whichever."
"If I can't be with Edward, then I'll have to do increasingly stupid things so that I can imagine him telling me not to do them, until I die. Even though I love Jacob, and want to lick his stomach until he growls, that's the only real answer to try to dull the pain of my soul," Britta murmured, feeling her heart cracking in two, like a dry cookie, bitten but unsavored and left in crumbs. And not really bitten, either, even though she'd asked.
"That is a horrible plan," Jeff said.
"Really, truly horrible," Troy agreed.
"Edward, I've had a vision!" Abed said, dancing into view.
"Alice, why can't you walk normally?" Jeff asked. "It's like you're in a ballet that no one is watching."
"So, a regular ballet then," Troy said. Jeff smirked and lifted an ivory, flawless hand to fist bump him, his marble resentment still smoldering handsomely. "I actually like ballet," he confessed sheepishly, and Abed nodded at him, twirling once.
"It's just what I do. But you have to stop Bella, Edward, or she's going to kill herself!" Abed said.
"Right, we just covered that," Jeff said.
"It really was a bad plan," Britta admitted. "I've changed my mind."
"Oh, and now I can't see it anymore, cool cool," Abed said. "Now I see your wedding. And a monster baby, so you should probably do something to prevent that."
"What?" Britta asked.
"Nevermind," Abed said.
"This sucks," Troy said. "Like a vampire, get it?"
Britta sighed, and blinked, her eyes filling with moisture that threatened to leak and seep down her face in tiny pools of misery that would never be even half as beautiful as Edward's glistening skin when it was streaked with raindrops from the gloomy rain in Forks. "I'm so torn," she breathed.
"You'll be happier with me, Bella. I can give you babies," Troy said. "Puppies?" he corrected, frowning a little and looking at Abed. Abed shook his head, and Troy amended again, looking relieved, "babies."
"GOD, she's not even pretty, AND she can have babies? I hate her," Annie said, shaking back her glorious blond wig, perfect skin gleaming as she absently poked at one eyebrow. "Why did they not bleach my eyebrows to match?"
"Rosalie, I'll never have babies. I want to be with the same man forever, after I've known him for five minutes, but I don't want to marry him, or have children," Britta said. "God, I am a modern woman," she murmured, offended.
"Bella, will you make me a sandwich?" Jeff asked.
"Okay," Britta agreed happily, staring at the white, white teeth he flashed as he smiled.
"You don't even eat! And isn't this illegal? You're what, a thousand years old, and she's seventeen?" Troy gritted out harshly.
"Hah," Abed said. Everyone turned to look at him, and he shrugged. "That will be funny later. Unintentional foreshadowing."
Britta pursed her lips, and shrugged.
"What's this about a love triangle? I made cookies. They're blood flavored," Shirley said, stepping out. "A-positive, just the way you like it, Eddie honey."
"Esme, you know I don't drink human blood, I'm a vegetarian," Jeff said.
"You will eat these cookies and be grateful. This is the only line I get in this scene," Shirley told him. Jeff took a cookie meekly and she smiled. "That's better."
"Right, about that," Dr. Ian said. "That makes no sense. We eat animals. That's the definition of being NOT vegetarian. I'm a doctor, you'd think I'd understand what vegetarianism meant."
Britta listened to Carlisle's crisp British accent, swooning in against Edward. He was so perfect, her shining, angelic, fanged Adonis. Sometimes, when he looked at her, she forgot to breathe, she was so enamored of his face and his gleaming topaz eyes.
She coughed, remembering as her lungs ached and Jeff patted her head. "Forget to breathe again?" he asked. "We'll work on that." Britta frowned, but ignored the patronizing, since he was really, really beautiful. She was surrounded by beautiful vampires, how could she, the ugly duckling, ever hope to keep Edward's heart?
"Hey, Bella, you forgot to make me lunch," Pierce said, stepping up from behind a tree. "Oh look, Jacob, are you two dating now?"
Britta groaned. It was so unfair, how she had to be so mature and grown up and take care of her parents all the time. "Charlie," she said grimly, since she was an adult and called him by his name like normal adults did to their parents, "I love Edward, you're just going to have to accept that."
"Who's Edward?" Pierce squinted at Jeff. "Why are there marble statues here? Is this a cemetery? Am I dead?"
"Bella, never mind, this is taking too long. I can't stay away from you anymore. Will you marry me? I love you, stay with me forever, I'll make you my undead bride, my eternal lover. Stay with me, and I'll finally let you get me naked." Jeff pulled Britta roughly into his arms, and she melted against his chilly, statuesque chest.
"I can't, I'm too young, my father and mother will never approve! And who will take care of them if I go with you?" Britta cried out, soul tortured by her despair.
Jeff unbuttoned the top button of his sweater-vest. "Are you sure?" he asked slyly.
Britta held out her hand. "Never mind, give me the rock."
Jeff slipped a ring the size of a dinner plate onto her hand and Troy fell to his knees, howling at the sky as he turned into a giant wolf, his despair filling the skies with sadness. "Khhaaaaaaa - I mean noooooooo!"
Annie and Abed tilted their heads. "Did he just explode out of his pants?" Annie asked. Abed held up his phone to take video.
"WHY did you tell me that? It's like you don't know me at all," Jeff said as Britta finished. "Or like you're obeying some inner desire to have me mock you for the rest of your life."
"I. . . don't know. It's just, we talk. We tell each other things, horrible, humiliating things. It's what we do, right? It's how we roll," Britta said, hand trying to make what Abed was 76% sure was meant to be a rolling motion.
Troy reached over to flatten her hand gently against the table. "Don't do that." He held her hand 1.4 seconds longer than he would have last semester, Abed noted.
Britta frowned at him, wriggling her hand free and then waving it vaguely toward Abed. "Well, Abed told us his, and it just felt. . . appropriate."
"Edward Cullen is never appropriate," Annie said.
Jeff looked skeptical. "You're a single, nerdy young woman above the age of eight and under the age of eighty. Aren't you genetically predisposed to like Twilight? Doesn't his midnight peeping make you feel cherished?"
"Firstly, I resent your gender generalizations. Secondly, I am not a nerd, I am just focused. And finally - stalking is never okay. If someone snuck into MY room in the middle of the night to watch me sleep, I have an industrial sized can of mace and no qualms about shooting for the eyes," Annie said.
Troy looked shifty, and Annie frowned. "What?"
"Troy snuck into your room to borrow your highlighters to construct our TV viewing schedule," Abed told her. "You'd taken an ambien, and we didn't want to wait until 16 hours later."
Annie blinked and Troy gave her a guilty shrug. "You live with us, it's not like we're strangers."
"Fine, if someone ELSE snuck into my OLD room to watch me sleep, then-"
"Your old place was above a porn shop, if anyone snuck in, they would have had a camera, and it would already be for sale in the amateur discount bin at the front, packaged as hidden camera creepiness," Jeff pointed out.
"Ugh!" Annie made a face. "I'm pretending I didn't hear that. But anyway, I don't like Edward Cullen."
Jeff grinned. "You're Team Jacob, aren't you?"
"Shut up," Annie muttered.
Britta stared at her, aghast. "Oh my god, you traitor! Jacob was just USING her for her WOMB, you can't get any lower than that. At least Edward really loved her, and not her ovaries!"
"Jacob had a personality! Edward was just all 'Hi, I'm a vampire, look at my perfect marvel jawline, watch me sparkle, blah blah blah,'" Annie shot back.
"Vampires are sexy"
"Werewolves are cuddly!"
Shirley looked from Britta to Annie and shook her head. "I'm not going to judge, but if I were, I'd say both of you needed Jesus in your life, instead of shirtless movie monsters."
"Shirley, you went and SAW Eclipse with me," Annie said. "You asked if Jacob was legal, and then said if he married you, you would chew his underwear off and make him call you 'Mama'."
"I was at a very hormonal point of my pregnancy, you can't hold me accountable for that!" Shirley said.
"You went without me?" Britta asked. "Oh that's just typical!"
"We didn't want to listen to you go on about feminism through the whole thing! If I'd known you sold out for goth glitter vamps, I'd have asked!" Annie said as Britta gasped.
"In my day, vampires kept their shirts on, and people were terrified, like they should be," Pierce said.
"Yes well, I'm sure Bela Lugosi appreciates your loyalty, Pierce," Jeff said.
Troy looked confused, and Abed clarified. "Bela Lugosi, the actor, not Bella the pale girl from Twilight who has a supernatural fetish," he explained. Troy nodded in understanding.
"Who?" Pierce asked. "No, vampires are actually level 4 Energy-Drainers in Buddhism, who ingest energy via their fangs. As a level 10 Buddhist, I'm legally certified to battle them with blessed water and a squirt gun. They make this awful sizzle when you shoot them in the face."
"I believe you were shooting them with acid," Jeff said.
Pierce paused. "That would explain the lawsuits, and the melting."
"And also they weren't vampires," Jeff said.
"There's no such thing as vampires, Pierce," Britta said firmly.
"Britta's right," Shirley agreed.
"Wait, don't Christians believe in demons? Why NOT vampires?" Britta asked.
"I'm a Christian. I'm not Rupert Giles!" Shirley said.
Annie jumped from her seat. "Ah-Hah! You watched Buffy too!"
"Andre likes it," Shirley answered defensively. "But that little white girl could slay some vampires. And real vampires, too, none of that sparkling."
"You WENT TO SEE ECLIPSE!" Britta exclaimed. "You watched Buffy! You have to like vampires!"
"I dated a Buffy once. She could buff the-" Pierce began.
"All right, no more vampires, or werewolves, or Pierce," Jeff interrupted. "Time to go to lunch. And by lunch, I mean somewhere where I never have to listen to you argue about this again."
Abed looked from one to the other. "I preferred Spike to Angel," he said.
"Me too!" Troy said excitedly. "It was the hair. So white and spiky, like a bleached porcupine."
Annie squeaked in affront. "Angel is Buffy's soulmate!"
"He totally is," Britta agreed.
"Aww," Annie said, and held out her arms, hugging Britta quickly.
"It's like a nightmare within a nightmare. I can never wake up," Jeff complained.
And lo, the children came unto him, and he stood in Lordly benevolence. Pierce spread his arms as Troy and Abed pulled at his robes. "Lord, why do bad things happen to good people?" Abed asked.
"Because women can't help but bite any fruit that falls off the tree, and because of that, a curse my Father gave unto the rest of humanity," Pierce answered.
Pierce made his way through the crowd of disciples, granting wisdom, and being given gifts. An angel of the Lord appeared, wings fluttering, and Pierce gazed serenely up at him. "What are you supposed to be, some kind of fairy?"
The Dean alighted on the earth. "Your father sends his blessing. And a car, because the son of God is not meant to walk," he told Pierce.
From the edge of the crowds, Britta beckoned him, her bare shoulders a beacon unto him guiding him toward her home, its walls hewn of hemp and smelling of grass. She knelt before him, and Pierce spread his arms benevolently as-
"Aaaand, I think we'll stop that right there," Jeff interrupted.
"Yeah we will," Shirley muttered meaningfully, glaring at Pierce.
Troy reached up and pushed Pierce's outstretched arms back down with a frown. He wagged his finger chastisingly. "Not cool."
Britta scowled. "I don't think it's right to restrict Pierce's freedom of expression just because it doesn't coincide with the religious beliefs of some of our group members. He has every right to talk about his dream-"
"Pierce, in your dream, were you Jesus?" Jeff asked.
"Yes," Pierce said. "Well, Piercesus."
"And as Jesus, who were the little children bid come unto you?"
"Abed and Troy," Pierce said.
"And did you eventually tell them to get a job?" Jeff guessed.
"What else was I going to do, give free handouts? Old enough to talk, old enough to work," Pierce scoffed.
"And was Britta Mary Magdalene?"
"Is that the hooker's name, or is that the other Mary?" Pierce asked.
"I'm going to assume she wasn't kneeling to pray." Jeff looked at Britta. "And now you're done with this, right?"
Britta pouted. "Fine. But the point stands."
Shirley stared at Pierce. "There is something wrong with you."
"Annie next. Or Shirley. It's a toss up," Abed said, checking Pierce's name off of his dream list, writing culturally inappropriate religious imagery next to his name.
"What about Jeff?" Annie asked.
"Jeff's last," Abed and Troy said in unison.
"It's two days to the Yule Ball, and we don't have dates, Harry," Troy said glumly.
"We could ask random background characters," Abed suggested. "Or you could just ask Hermione," he added. "As you were clearly supposed to do."
Troy looked confused. "I thought you were supposed to ask Hermione."
"No, you asking her was much more clearly foreshadowed," Abed said.
"Well yeah, but some people think you and Hermione have much more chemistry," Troy argued.
"No one was supposed to ask Hermione!" Annie snapped, standing up from where she'd been working on her Transfiguration paper, and throwing her quill at Troy. "Someone was supposed to want to ask Hermione, but no, it's all 'do my Astronomy, Hermione' and 'did you take notes, Hermione', but no one notices that she's a real, live girl who just needs some attention to blossom!"
Troy and Abed blinked up at her, and she stomped her foot, turning to storm off.
She came up against Jeff's chest, looking at him as he scowled down at her, improbable hook nose somehow casting his greasy black wig into an attractive light. "Miss Granger, five points from Gryffindor for being desperate," he drawled slowly.
"Oh!" Annie huffed and then eyed him, subtly rolling her skirt a few inches higher. "Maybe we could work something else out, Professor Snape?" she asked, tapping her wand against her thigh slowly. "I could serve detention in the dungeons. I know I can be a very naughty girl," she said, sidling closer.
Jeff stopped, swallowing as Annie leaned forward, arms together to deepen her cleavage. "Naughty girls do need punishment."
Annie smiled, tapping her wand a little more sharply. "So do naughty professors. I bet they'd even like it," she promised.
"That's not right," Troy said.
"Was her skirt always that short?" Abed asked, frowning.
"Shouldn't have left me for a last resort, should you boys?" Annie shot back over her shoulder.
"Can't get a date, can you Weasel?" Britta sneered, leaning out from behind Snape's robes to smirk at Troy.
"Malfoy, why are you in Snape's robes?" Troy asked.
"And why are you wearing Armani if you're a wizard?" Abed asked.
"I wear Armani now. Armani is cool," Britta said.
"Hah. Meta reference," Abed said.
"Harry Potter must not speak to the young Master!" Pierce said, popping into the room, his improbably large ears wobbling. "Young Master Malfoy is a bad influence for Harry Potter and his Weasel. Young Master Malfoy smokes the pot, and likes to sneak about inside your head!"
"I'm studying psychology, that's not sneaking! My father will hear about this!" Britta answered, offended. "And who cares what a House Elf thinks anyway?"
"You'll be a terrible therapist," Jeff told her. He grunted as she stepped on his toes.
"Severus, what are you doing with Miss Granger? And Miss Granger, why are you dressed like a strumpet?" Shirley asked as she came into the Great Hall.
Jeff hastily stepped away, and Annie stopped trailing her wand seductively over her chest, tugging her skirt hastily back down. "Nothing, Minerva," Jeff said slowly. "We're merely talking, and I was taking points for their blatant misconduct."
"Oh, that's nice," Shirley said. "Except for how they're just sitting there. Are you taking points for sitting, now? It's not because you're a bitter, lonely old bachelor who couldn't get anywhere with Harry's mother, is it? Because that would be just sad."
Chang snickered from behind Shirley. Jeff glared at him. "What. Is. Sirius. Black. Doing. In. This. School?" he asked, biting off each word sharply.
"Dude, I think I'm five years older since the time you started that sentence," Chang complained. "And I'm a free man, baby. No more Azkaban for the big dog."
"Dog," Troy said, grinning. "Classic."
"Dementors can kiss it," Chang declared. He looked past Jeff. "Hey, what are those curtains fluttering over there?"
"Take a look," Jeff said magnanimously. "Be my guest."
Abed rubbed at the scar on his forehead, knocking his false glasses askew. "I think Voldemort's thinking about me."
"Blimey! How can you tell, Harry?" Annie asked, spinning back around to look at Abed worriedly, leaning forward to fuss over him. Troy stared down her cleavage happily.
"My scar is hurting," Abed explained. He waited until Annie had rubbed soothingly at his forehead, and then added. "And he's looking right at me."
Annie gasped, turning and leveling her wand at Voldemort. "You can't have Harry!"
Dr. Ian's tongue flicked out, snake like, and he rubbed at the hole where his nose should be. "Little Harry Potter and his friends, all grown up," he hissed. He stopped, and then added, "and grown up well, I might add." Annie looked pleased, and he went on. "Silly girl, don't you know you can't kill me?"
"I can kill you with the power of love," Abed said. "You don't understand that because you were an orphan, but not the good kind of orphan, like me."
"That's not true, orphans can feel love. The problem wasn't the orphanage, it was lack of regular therapy and medication." Ian paused, and then added. "And probably all the pills and booze didn't help. I mean, I gave a snake my soul, do you have any idea how wasted I had to be that weekend?"
"I bet it was tequila," Jeff intoned. "No one can handle tequila."
"Right, be that as it may, time to die, now, Potter!" Ian leveled his wand.
Shirley flung herself in front of Harry. "Over my dead body, Voldemort. I will turn this whole castle against you, see if I don't." She waved her wand, and the suit of armor behind Dr. Ian slapped him in the back of the head with a metallic thud.
"That hurt!" Ian said. He sent a hex flying at Shirley's head, and she deflected it deftly.
From somewhere in the background, Chang screamed. "hey, watch iiiiiiiit," as the deflected spell struck him. His voice trailed off, as if he were falling.
"Oh that's not good," Shirley said.
Ian laughed maniacally. "Don't you see? I can't be defeated! I have the Elder Wand! The most powerful wand in the world!"
"Wait, where did you get that?" Annie asked.
"Yeah, wasn't that mine?" Britta said.
"No, I defeated you and won it from you," Abed explained.
"I think I went to the bathroom during that part," Troy said, confused.
"It belonged to- you know what, it doesn't matter," Ian said. "Avada Kedavra!"
Jeff flung himself in front of the hex, and then fell to the floor, dying slowly.
"Snape!" Abed knelt next to him. "You've been cruel and inexplicably villainous throughout the last six books, but now that you're dying, I sense that you're a good man. The kind of man I might one day name a child after."
Jeff lay weakly on the floor, looking up at Harry's face. "Look into my eyes," he whispered, voice weak and slowing with each word. "Your eyes are so brown," he said wonderingly.
"The production team decided against making me wear contacts," Abed said.
"What?" Jeff asked.
"Never mind," Abed said.
Above them, Troy checked his wallet, and mouthed lunchtime? at Annie, looking plaintive. Jeff swallowed, staring intently into Abed's eyes. "Just like your mother. I must. . . tell you. . . something. It is about your mother. When I was just a boy, ignored by. . . my own mother, never knowing my father, scorned by a world that just couldn't understand me, I-"
"Oh screw this, it's going to take a year just to finish the exposition at this rate!" Annie said. She flipped open a book, scanning a page and then mumbling a spell, wand weaving carefully in some arcane shape.
"Wait, what are you do-" Ian cut off as, abruptly, he found himself transfigured into a monkey.
Annie's Boobs squeaked, and then ran off toward the banquet table.
"But. . . only Harry can kill Voldemort," Troy said.
"And he's not dead, but he's been defeated, nonetheless." Leonard stood solemnly beside Shirley, a long cotton beard glued to his face, scraps pulled up to cover his bald head. "I hope that you have learned an important lesson from this, Harry."
Abed considered. "Always just let Hermione solve the problem?"
"Damn straight," Annie said. "Professor Dumbledore, we won the House Cup for defeating the Dark Lord, right?"
"Nuts to that, Hufflepuff for life, suck it," Leonard said. He gave them the raspberries as the Great Hall abruptly transformed into shades of yellow and black, a yellow sheet draping itself over Jeff's body.
Britta looked around. "Man, it never pays to be a Slytherin."
"I hear that," Jeff mumbled from beneath the sheet.
Annie looked around, shoulders hunching a little as the silence stretched on and on. "What?" she finally asked. Her voice was pitched two octaves higher due to nerves, Abed assumed.
Jeff had a hand on his nose, checking its relative size, and his voice was muffled when he spoke. "What are we supposed to say to that?"
"If they had Rickman and Emma, and Danny Radcliffe doing some of that in the movies, I'd have shelled out for 3-D," Dean Pelton said. "And I'm allowed to say that because they're over 18. Hello legal eyecandy." He cleared his throat, moving on. "The Glee club is thinking of doing a Very Potter Musical tribute performance, and they're still shopping for a Hermione. I've even got an outfit for you." He paused and then added. "My. . . niece's best friend's. . . very slim yoga instructor would probably be willing to let you borrow it. And have it cleaned first."
Annie looked somewhat interested. "Really?"
"We hate Glee," Jeff reminded her. "And I'd bet every dollar Pierce has that Dean's niece's best friend's yoga instructor has less bust than you. Or none at all. As if she were a bald, wildly inappropriate man, one might say."
"Do we hate Glee again, or was our hatred just temporarily halted due to excess of Christmas spirit, and thus never truly abated, despite the homicidal director?" Abed asked.
"No, we stopped hating it, and now we hate it again," Shirley said. "That tall, skinny, tone-deaf excuse for a Glee captain wouldn't even let me sing lead if I stayed. As if they don't need me for Regionals," she added sourly.
"So Regionals are a religious thing?" Pierce asked.
"Then. . . we're supposed to hate it again because Shirley does?" Troy asked. He shrugged. "I'm good with that."
"Me too," Abed agreed.
"I hate them already for their refusal to switch to reusable cups for their weekly practice sessions," Britta said. "And they always take the last pudding cup in the cafeteria."
"The fact that the new director told you that you sounded like a resurrected zombie corpse trying to sing has nothing at all to do with it, I'm sure," Jeff said.
"Don't you pay any attention to them, Britta, I've heard you sing, and you don't sound anything like a corpse," Pierce said.
Britta smiled. "Well, thank you, Pierce."
"More like some kind of frog. One of those big ones that squirt when you roll a bike over them, and make you see pole dancing Elvis impersonators when you lick them," Pierce said. "Or so I've heard. Personally, when I licked one, I didn't feel anything. Though I did wake up in Montana with a broken doorbell, a three legged poodle, and a certificate that said I was legally married to one of those bobbling dashboard hula dancers."
"That was your longest marriage, wasn't it?" Jeff asked.
"Best three years of my life, Jeffrey. That's how women are meant to be. Easy to jiggle, and made of plastic. I called her Amber."
"That is HORRIBLE," Annie said.
"And inaccurate, plastic doesn't breathe, you never see that mentioned in the ads," Dean Pelton said. "Anywhoo, I heard we were all talking about dreams - and by the by, I won't name names, but someone had one about a certain someone else that was a scorcher. Let me just say, that someone can put this Baby in a corner any day, and I'll do the lift just fine. It will definitely be the time of both of our lives." The Dean sent a significant look toward Jeff, who ignored it. Abed mentally adjusted his calculations. He'd been sure that was a comment meriting an eyeroll. "And since dreams are all the rage, I thought I'd stop by and give you the old heads up about a new class we're offering next semester. Dream Interpretation 101, with Dr. Crane."
"Let me guess, phallic symbols mean I have issues with my father," Jeff said.
"And the recurring dream about being naked in front of a crowd without notecards is my fear of failure?" Annie said.
"And when in my dreams my chocolate milk is always just vanilla, that's an inner representation of my resentment of post-MLK America's insistence that racism is over, when it's actually flourishing and a major component of all political movements in and beyond the United States?" Troy said.
Abed considered. "I think it's because Annie didn't get Hershey's syrup when you wrote it on the list on the non-replicating-replicator."
"Okay, we have to stop calling the fridge that. Even if you call it a replicator, it won't ACTUALLY replicate things like on Star Trek, no matter how often you talk to it. And you wrote it really, really tiny, okay? I missed it!" Annie said. "I don't know why I have to do all of the grocery shopping, anyway."
"Because Troy got nothing but chicken nuggets and a box of toothpicks," Abed said.
"And then when we used them to assemble Clucktimus Prime, you said I wasn't allowed to do the shopping again," Troy finished.
"That is true, though," Britta said. "The racial. . . thing. Not the chicken nuggets."
"I really want chocolate milk," Troy answered. Abed made a note to head to the cafeteria for chocolate milk after study group, and to check all expiration dates. They always hid the new ones in the back.
"Be that as it may, I've done my Deanly duty, and I will exit, stage left. Annie, think about Glee, they'd love to you have you. And Jeffrey, if you ever want to talk about those dreams, you know where my office is." Dean Pelton smiled. "Just kidding, of course." He stopped and then added. "But really, you do know."
"I try everyday to forget, and everyday I'm disappointed when I still remember," Jeff said, rolling his eyes behind schedule as the Dean left.
"Do you know that the chickens used for chicken nuggets are mutated to have larger breasts, so they can't even walk? Which doesn't matter, because they're all packed in giant warehouses and can't move or see the sun, anyway." Britta leaned forward, making a bulging motion over her chest to indicate the chicken's enlarged size. Abed shook his head slightly at Troy as he blinked, giving Abed a can they do that with people? look.
"I thought they made them keep the chickens outside now. You know, free range, so they can peck for grain and flap their little wings?" Shirley asked.
"That's just a lie Big Chicken wants you to believe. Every time you pick up a Mcnugget, you're chomping down on some poor chicken's life of misery. Just another industry, farming for dollars instead of ethics, keeping the chickens down," Britta said.
"Poor little chickens," Shirley said. "Oh, we could have another bake sale for awareness?"
"I prefer it that way," Jeff argued.
"You prefer abused chickens?" Annie echoed skeptically.
"Poultry is getting entirely too uppity these days. I saw a show on television about ducks stopping traffic to cross the street. Absurd! People have to make a living! What's next? Planting grass on the highways for the cows?"
"I consider it more humane," Jeff answered as if Pierce hadn't spoken. "Think about it, chickens spend their lives outside, living with the other chickens, meandering in and out of their coop. They become happy, well adjusted hens and roosters. And then one day Farmer Joe comes by, hacks their head off and serves them up. They had no preparation for that, no insight into the horrible cruelty of life. Now the other chickens have no idea how to grieve their fallen comrade, and the dead one had no chance to make his amends. But miserable, inbred factory chickens - they had low life expectations to start. Their eventual end isn't some cruel twist of fate, like that movie where Mel Gibson was a chicken-"
"Braveheart?" Troy asked. "I always thought that name was misleading. I mean, he rides around on the horse, and who is it that dies first? The horses. That's not bravery, that's selling out Mister Ed."
"No, the other one. The claymation one," Shirley said. "Like those Christmas specials Abed thought we were in." She stopped. "Oh - is that one of those things we don't talk about?"
"It was an anomaly, rarely referenced by later continuity," Abed said.
"Moving on, those chickens, they have a sense of their place in the world. They can accept what's coming. I find that comforting. And besides, I remember you chowing down on the chicken in the cafeteria, back when Abed worked there." Jeff finished.
"I haven't had any since then! I have standards. You just want to justify that chicken salad you had for lunch yesterday," Britta said. She crossed her arms over her chest. "Chicken murderer."
"Wannabe-hippie wackadoo," Jeff answered cheerfully.
"So who's next, Abed?" Annie asked, changing the subject.
Abed cocked his head, starting to answer when the door swung open again, Chang bursting in. "You guys, you won't believe the dream I had last night. I was sitting in some cave, right, holding on to this purple pen. And then Shirley was there - totally clothed, don't look at me like that - but she came in and took the pen, and I was completely, like, spazzed out about the pen. Like loco in el baño about it, and-"
"Baño means bathroom," Annie said.
"Whatever, dude, but I was crazed about the pen, and hunching over, going, 'my Precious! You can't take the Precious!'" Chang hunched over, hobbling around to demonstrate.
"Unexpected. I was going to say Shirley was next," Abed said.
"I know you didn't dream about me being one of those little short men with hairy feet," Shirley said.
"Hobbit," Abed interjected.
"The politically correct term is midget, according to the tossing sites, I read," Pierce said. "Did you know they let just anyone volunteer to do that? If it wouldn't throw my back out-"
"No, it's not. At all. In fact that's probably the least politically correct term you could pick, other than using some variation of a word that used to be used alongside 'circus', and don't think I don't know how much effort it took you not to say something even more wildly offensive. We all appreciate your growth as a human being," Jeff said.
Pierce beamed as Shirley said, "he has gotten better, lately."
"That's like saying Transformers 3 was better than Transformers 2. The difference is negligible, and they're both still racist. And now, time for class," Jeff announced, getting up. The others gathered their things, heading for the door. Abed ticked off Annie's name on his list, writing in Harry Potter, implied pornographic elements.
Behind him, Chang slunk behind the table, popping his head out from behind a chair, as he mumbled to himself. "Do you see, Chang? See how they all leave you? How they ignore you? They'll all betray you." He dragged the s's out into a sibilant hiss.
He popped his head to the other side of the chair. "No, no, they're Ben's friends. They'll be back, they'll listen to his dreams about the Precious. They will! They'll- HEY!"
Abed looked back in time to see Annie's Boobs scampering into the vent, a pen in its hand as Chang dove after it.
Shirley watched, her heart warmed by the sight of The Beast, turning Belle gently around the ballroom. A little puff of steam came from her spout as she sighed happily.
"I don't get it, Mama," Troy said. "Why is the pretty girl settling for the weird old Beast when she really wanted to travel, according to her opening song?"
"You'll understand when you're older, Chip," Shirley told him gently. "Now go and wash up for dinner. And don't you let me catch you letting that sponge wash you up, you know how I feel about her."
Troy sighed. "Yes, Mama." He hopped off the table and toward the kitchen.
"Now how am I supposed to serve Belle tea?" Pierce roared, tugging fitfully on his waistcoat. "And who dressed me in this? I'm a Beast. Beasts aren't supposed to wear pants. It's against our nature!"
"We cut a hole for your tail, monsieur," Abed said.
"And Lumiere made me do it. While you were wearing them. I hope it's worth it," Britta muttered, clock hands ticking around her face in agitation.
"I have candlesticks for hands, manual dexterity is difficult, Cogsworth," Abed said.
"Beast, it's okay, really, I didn't want any tea," Annie said, laying a yellow-gloved hand on his arm.
"No it's not!" Pierce roared, flinging her hand off and straining, trying to burst out of his waistcoat. His back creaked instead, and he put a paw to it, groaning. "You'll never see me as anything but a monster."
"Well. . . I mean, I don't know your name. You make me call you Beast. It's hard to get to know someone as something other than a Beast when that's what you have to call him that every day. Maybe we could start with that?" Annie suggested tentatively.
"That is his name," Abed said, absently puffing out the flame on his hand.
"His father had some issues," Britta agreed, as Pierce sniffled.
"Aww," Annie said. "That's all right. We'll give you a name. How do you feel about. . . Gary?"
"I did always want to be called Zorro," Pierce said.
Annie looked skeptical. "You look more like a Gary."
"Definitely a Gary," Abed agreed.
"How about Ugly?" Jeff asked, kicking the doors inward with his bulging thigh muscles. Chang followed at his heels, laughing as if that had been clever. Jeff put his hands to his hips, posing, and then frowned. "Can I get a better entrance line, Lefou?"
Chang shrugged. "I didn't bring my script."
"That was a pretty low-rated entrance," Abed said. "It will probably get punched up in rewrites."
"Yeah, I mean it's not even a good insult. He's not ugly, he's like. . . a lion wolf. It's sort of stately and cuddly?" Britta said. "You know, except for the balding."
"And the smell," Annie said. "I'm sorry, but even Beasts need to bathe," she told Pierce apologetically.
"I've never liked water," Pierce said.
"Never mind," Jeff said. "I don't think I really need clever, with this face."
"You really don't, Gaston," Chang said. "Lucky bastard," he muttered under his breath.
"Oh no, you are not coming in here, uninvited, and breaking up a perfectly good thing. I've spent enough time as a tea kettle, and you're going to take your muscular behind and your ridiculous chin right back out of here, and let fate take its course, you hear me? And you, don't you have anything better to do than trail him around like a puppy? You are a grown man, get yourself a spine and your own life," Shirley said, scowling at the pair of them.
Chang looked shamefaced. "I've always been easily influenced," he admitted.
"Well, the first step is admitting it," Shirley told him, more gently.
Jeff scowled. "I am not taking orders from a tea kettle. Belle, come on, we make more sense than you and a geriatric furball. I'm good looking, you're good looking, we both. . ." he stopped, shrugging. "Actually, that's about it."
"I'm staying with the Beast!" Annie said. "And you leave us be, Gaston!"
"You can't possibly be in love with THAT?" Jeff said, disgusted.
"In love? Eww, gross, no! But I mean. . . look at him. He needs looking after," Annie said, patting Pierce's arm.
"It's true, I do. I spent an hour talking to the counter in the west wing bathroom until I realized that wasn't one of the things that talk back," Pierce agreed.
Annie made a sad sound. "I'll stay with you, and read to you, and one day, you'll be a real Prince again."
"Thank you, Belle," Pierce said, handing her an enchanted rose. He leaned in close to Abed, stage whispering. "I think she bought the whole 'enchanted, can turn back into a Prince' story."
Annie sniffed her rose, looking content. Jeff scoffed. "Oh come on, you had to hear that!"
"What?" Annie asked, as Abed winked broadly at Pierce.
"One more word, and I'll be pouring you right out a window," Shirley threatened. "This is meant to be. It's a tale as old as time-"
"Copyrighted," Abed interrupted.
"True as it can be," Shirley continued.
"Royalty payments," Abed said.
Shirley huffed out a little puff of tea-scented steam. "And they all lived happily ever after?" she tried.
"Public domain," Abed agreed.
"Yay! Oh, that's nice!" Shirley said.
"And then Ben needed changing, and I woke up," Shirley finished.
"I'm just confused. Why were you the teapot in your own dream? Not that I'm condoning this dream-discussion, but shouldn't you have been the one in the dress?" Jeff said.
"Does anyone else think of Chang whenever Shirley says 'Ben'? And then get freaked out when she's talking about diapers?" Troy asked
Jeff, Annie, and Britta all raised their hands, Pierce's going up a moment later, though Abed was certain he had no idea what it was in reference to. Shirley ignored them all. "Well, considering who the Beast was, I think I was probably happier as a teapot."
"Fair point," Jeff agreed.
"Statistically speaking, she came out lucky. Shirley is a mother, and in well over 60% of Disney animated movies, the mothers are dead or nonexistent."
"Bambi," Britta said, wincing.
"Cinderella. Her mom never even gets a mention. It's all dead daddy and evil stepmother," Shirley added.
"Little Mermaid. And she didn't even appreciate her father, either," Annie said. "I mean, he's just trying to protect her from the harshness of life on land, and what does she do? Run off with the first guy she makes out with."
"Snow White started the pattern, as the first full length animated feature," Abed said.
"I never understood that story," Pierce said. "Who walks by a corpse and thinks to give it a kiss? They have a name for that, they call it eproctophilia," Pierce said.
"Eproctophilia is attraction to flatulence," Britta said. "Necrophilia is attraction to corpses."
"It's good to see you learning from your psychology classes," Jeff said. "Now we can all have a better vocabulary to be grossed out and horrified by."
Pierce's eyes widened. "There's people who are attracted to flatulence?" He leaned over to look at Abed's laptop. "Would there be a website for that? Like e-harmony for farting?"
Abed slid his computer further out of reach, shaking his head as Troy grimaced.
"Anyway," Shirley said. "You're the only one that's left, Jeff. Are you sure you don't have something you want to talk about? Maybe a dream where you're the rogue cop, playing by your own rules on some tropical backdrop?"
"Hawaii 5-0," Abed said. "Not currently on Jeff's DVR."
"Stop looking at my TV's programming," Jeff said. "And no, nothing to tell, feel free to stop asking."
"I bet it's something ridiculous. Like. . . surrounded by women in corsets while you sit on a throne and behead them."
"I'm Henry the 8th, I am," Jeff said. "Guess which wife you would be?" He made a chopping motion to his neck. Britta stuck her tongue out.
"No one say anything, I still have the last season to watch on DVD. No spoilers!" Annie said.
"You don't want any spoilers. For British history in the 1500's?" Britta said. "Spoiler alert! Henry has a daughter."
"You know what I meant," Annie argued. "Troy, you know what I meant, right?"
Troy was frowning. "You watched that? Man, that guy, I saw the highlights on BBC America, after Inspector Spacetime's marathon. He was a jerk. I think that Catherine one though, that's the one he'll stick with. You can just tell."
"We're taking British History: An Overview next semester," Britta told him.
"Maybe Jeff's dream will be a dream within a dream," Pierce suggested. "Like that movie."
"You saw Inception?" Annie looked at Pierce, surprised.
"Inception? What's that? No, Wicker Man. Classic Nic Cage, right there. Knew his father, you know. I lucked out and was the only one in the theater when it played. So no one complained when I yelled at the screen, or whined about the flatulence. I was that surprised," Pierce said. His gaze slid toward Abed's computer again. Abed considered the relative merits of a password, but decided just to shut it down. Pierce had difficulties with power buttons.
"Can we just try something novel and actually study instead of talking about my sleeping habits?" Jeff asked.
"Probably not," Abed said as Annie begin to earnestly try to explain the plot of Inception to Pierce. (And Troy, but Abed had already made him a flow chart for their Nolan viewing party next weekend.)
Jeff thunked his head against the table, and Abed reached to give him a consoling pat to the shoulder, like Shirley did when she was trying to be reassuring.
Jeff rolled up to the hotel, a blond on each arm. Their carefully sculpted bodies had somehow not managed to wrinkle the fabric of his $6000 Italian suit. He pushed down his sunglasses to peer at Britta as she stood beside the entrance in a business-casual suit, her pumps just sensible enough to be acceptable, while still looking sexy. "You're late," she told Jeff.
"I had things to do," Jeff said. He grinned at the girls, giving them a wink as they giggled and stepped inside, waving goodbye. "Twins," he told her with a conspirator's whisper.
Britta's lips pursed. "Mr. Stark, you were supposed to give the keynote speech here, and then take a meeting with Rhodey about. . . your other suit," she said carefully.
"Should I park the car, sir?" Starburns asked, sharing a look of exasperation with Britta.
"Just drive it around the block until I'm done, Happy," Jeff said dismissively. Starburns trudged off as Jeff draped an arm around Britta. "Pepper, I'm a brilliant, successful, rich lawyer who also happens to be a superhero. You're a beautiful woman who has expensive taste in suits, and is named after a seasoning. Do you really think you can do better than me? What do you say we blow off this party, and I'll show you just how my Arc reacts, if you know what I mean. And I think that you do."
Britta sighed. "Inventor and scientist," she said.
"You're an inventor and a scientist, not a lawyer," she repeated.
"Right, close enough," Jeff said. "Let's make out."
"Speech first, then we'll talk," Britta told him tartly.
"Deal," Jeff said, pushing his sunglasses up and then turning to waltz toward the doors and up unto the stage, where an adoring audience stared up at him. "So, I'm Iron Man," he announced, arms spread, accepting the thunderous applause and flashing cameras as his due. "And I'm putting the band together. Let me introduce you to my fellow Avengers. We'll be saving your helpless, screaming asses from the inevitable super-villains that follow wherever superheroes rise up. Which creates an inherent Catch-22, since if you didn't HAVE superheroes, would you NEED superheroes? But you all are at a party I'm paying for, and you have free booze and low IQ's, so you don't care about that! Let's party!" Jeff said into podium microphone.
A wild cheer arose, and Jeff clapped, motioning toward stage left, where Abed entered, holding his red, white, and blue shield in front of him, his winged helm hiding his face slightly. "Captain America!" Jeff said, waving him to the microphone.
"I believe in truth and the American Way. I'm a product of my era, but endearingly reminiscent of traditional values, and thus well loved." The audience fell quiet, and Abed held up his shield, adding. "I have a shield." Wild applause rose again.
Abed leaned into the microphone as Jeff knocked back a fifth of whiskey while Britta glared from offstage. "And this is my lifelong friend, recently resurrected from the dead through methods that vary according to the writer handling it, Bucky Barnes!"
Troy waltzed out onstage, waving. "Call me Kickpuncher," he said.
"That makes no sense. You have a metal arm, not a leg for an arm," Jeff argued.
"Roboarm?" Troy suggested.
"That makes you sound like Wall-e's less functional cousin," Jeff said.
"Winter Soldier," Abed decided. "You died in the winter and were a soldier. It's poignant. There's a high chance of it tugging heartstrings."
"Cool," Troy agreed.
"Cool, cool," Abed agreed. "I don't like you," he told Jeff. "Our standards and ethical approaches to most situations are diametrically opposed. I find you arrogant and disapprove of your drinking, and your womanizing nature. Our tension will make the team dynamic more dramatically strained."
"And make my job harder," Shirley muttered from where she stood just offscreen. "As if I don't have a hard enough time, running around after a Norse god, but oh no, it's 'Coulson, Tony took my shield again' and 'Coulson, I've got too much angst about my daddy not loving me to stay sober and do my job today.' Fury doesn't pay me enough for this crap."
"Also, I liked your father better than you," Abed said, holding up a picture of Pierce. "Howard Stark was a good man."
Jeff stared broodily offstage. "He might have been a good man, but he was a lousy father."
From somewhere offstage, Pierce's voice sounded, ghostly and distant, screaming "I love you, Tony! You damned drunk! What the hell were you thinking, giving up the military contracts? Guns are money, you green-peace-loving-hippie!"
"That was just unnerving," Shirley muttered.
"I'm sure we'll bond over this at a later juncture, after we've fought together," Abed said.
"My arm itches," Troy announced, scratching at the metal arm replacement. "I know it's not really my arm, but it still itches."
"Moving on," Jeff said, as the watching crowd muttered restlessly. "Next up, the Black Wid-" Jeff cut off as a bullet sliced neatly through his lapel, not touching his skin, the sound of its discharge reverberating unpleasantly through the sound system..
"We don't talk about my names, either of them," Annie said, coolly sliding her gun back into its holster as she straightened from her artful crouch.
"Hot," Jeff said. "I mean, I don't really see the point of the crouching, or the heels, but hot."
"Yeah," Troy agreed.
"Totally." Abed said, fistbumping Troy. He winced when Troy used his metal hand, shaking his own out until the sting healed away.
"Pop Pop," Magnitude said appreciatively, watching Annie slink her way over to stand with Tony, slapping at his hand as he tried to touch her gun.
"Hawkeye, ladies and gentlemen. He can shoot arrows, and he has one line. Don't get too excited folks, I wouldn't want you to hurt yourselves," Jeff said. He ducked the arrow sent his way and moved on.
"HULK ANGRY," Chang said, bursting through the stage floor in a shower of wood chips.
"Hope they have insurance," Shirley muttered.
"Bruce, did we take our meds today?" Jeff asked. "How many Red Bulls have you had?"
"HULK NOT INVITED TO PRESS CONFERENCE! HULK FEELINGS HURT!"
"Oh. Right. Sorry, Darcy was teaching us about modern technology, and we forgot to tell you," Troy said.
"That's our bad," Abed said. "The future is a technological wonder."
"RAWWWR!" Chang roared. "HULK SMASH."
"Who the hell signed off on a coming out party for superheroes? Because I know it wasn't me," Dean Pelton said, eyepatch covering one eye. "And if it didn't come from me, buster, then that means that rubber stamp on the form didn't mean diddly-squat!"
"Don't look at me, I just work here, Fury," Shirley told him. "And if you even think about docking my pay for that stage, I'll make you regret it."
"Someone get Hulk a fresh pair of purple pants for when he transitions back. The last thing I need is more public indecency charges. This party is officially over. And I'm especially disappointed in you, Steven," Dean said, pointing at Abed, who hung his head sadly. "And you, Anthony. The least you could have done was invite me!"
"Talk to my secretary," Jeff said, gesturing toward Britta.
"I am NOT a secretary. I am the interim head of the multi-billion dollar corporation you can't be bothered to run!" Britta told him hotly.
"You got my mail this morning. That means secretary," Jeff said. Britta stared at him like she was putting serious thought into hurling a tasteful pump at his head.
The crowd's groans of disappointment suddenly turned into shrieks of dismay as a portal opened in the middle of the crowd, Dr. Ian Duncan stepping out of it, a horned helmet on his head, and a staff in one hand. His skin tinged faintly blue as his cape billowed dramatically behind him. "Why am I always the villain?" he asked.
"Because you're a terrible, petty person, who deserves punishment, Loki," Jeff said. "And it's time we took you down for good." He looked offstage, and Pepper anticipated him, throwing his case onstage. He hit the button to arm his suit, and then frowned as the briefcase just opened, revealing a sheaf of papers labeled "TPS Reports."
"Pepper, this is your actual briefcase," Jeff said.
"Oops, sorry," Britta said. "Is my bagel in there?"
"Did she just say 'boggle'?" Ian asked.
"I think it was 'bah-gel'," Annie answered, snickering.
"Learn to use the words the way everyone else does," Jeff told Britta. "And give me my damn suit."
"Fine!" Britta flung the other case at him.
Jeff put on the iron suit, preparing for battle. "Jarvis, are you online?" he asked across the suit's comm link.
"You look like an ass in that suit," Leonard said.
"Shut up, Jarvis," Jeff grumbled as Jarvis gave him the raspberries. "I hate that guy." Next time he programmed an artificial intelligence, he was going for a better personality.
"Nay, good comrades, this fight began betwixt my brother and I, and it shall end thusly, as well," Neil said, stepping into the room as the crowd parted around him. He clutched Mjolnir with one hand, staring down Loki.
"Did Nords talk like that?" Annie asked.
"What's a Nord? I thought those were the little candies that come in boxes and rattle when you shake them." Troy said.
"Those are Nerds," Abed said.
"I liked it better the other way," Troy said.
"Me too," Abed agreed.
"It sounds like he's at a Ren Faire, one hand around a turkey leg and the other groping a corset," Britta said. "Trust me, those dates never end well," she added, grumbling beneath her breath.
"Really? This is going to happen? With a hammer? I've got a whole suit worth millions of dollars, but you're going to use a hammer. Fine. Go ahead," Jeff sulked.
"I'd shoot him, but he's a god, so. . ." Annie shrugged.
"Pop Pop," Magnitude agreed, the crowd giving him a rousing cheer.
"It's like the lowest common denominator multiplied, and it's now the only nominator. There is no higher elevation of intelligence left in this country," Jeff said.
"Please, you should see Asgard. Their idea of a joke is to toss me in the fountain, and then let Thor hurl flagons of mead at me," Ian complained.
"Hah-ha! Those were excellent times indeed!" Neil agreed.
"I'm beginning to see why there's some tension in the family," Jeff said.
"Right? Can you blame me? It's like having Biff from Back to the Future as a brother. I - oh fuc-" Ian cut off as he was abruptly shoved back through the portal, Shirley standing in front of him, holding a broom handle.
"I just did not have the time for that, I've got babies at home," she said.
Jeff frowned. "That was anti-climactic." He shrugged. "Back to Stark-central for some victory sex?"
"I'm in," Troy and Abed said.
"But I still don't like you," Abed added.
"Buy me dinner first, and I'll think about it," Britta decided.
"You don't have to ask me twice," Dean Pelton said, already grabbing for his phone to tweet it.
"If this ends up like last time, you will be sorry," Annie said.
"Rug burns for a week," Shirley agreed. "It will not end well for you."
"Willing to risk it. Go catch a ride with Happy, Thor. And invite the Warriors Three, but it's BYOB for them, this time. I may be rich, but there's limits."
"HULK SHOCKINGLY BENDY," Chang said as the others headed for the car.
Jeff flipped up his face mask, wrapping an arm around Britta. "Didn't you always know it would end like this? You, me. In love, and about to have meaningless sex with any number of superheroes, deities, and probably a villain if Loki finds his way back, or Magneto drops in."
"I had a hunch," Britta said. "Fly us home, stud," she told him, reaching up to yank out her ponytail, shaking her hair out into instant sexy waves and wriggling out of her skirt as Jeff blasted them out through a conveniently open skylight.
"Did anyone actually do that paper for Professor Kane? Because I'm guessing he's not going to like my excuse that I spent the whole night watching reruns of Oz," Jeff said.
"Did you paint a yellow brick road to the non-replicating-replicator so you could pretend it was the Wizard, granting you your deepest wish for nachos?" Troy asked.
"Required viewing procedure in Casa de Tronniebed," Abed said. He cocked his head, considering. "Casa de Antrobed? Abtronnie?"
"Tronniebed," Troy and Annie said at the same time.
"I clicked my heels three times, and the Wizard told me I'd always had popsicles in the freezer, I just had to look for them," Annie added excitedly. Troy offered her a specialty Annie fistbump, which they were still perfecting, but involved palm-to-fist, avoiding her bony knuckles.
"Wrong Oz. Think less Good Witch, and more evil guards," Jeff said. "And I'm taking that for a no, except for Annie, who won't let me read hers, and Abed, who will, but it will be drowning in pop culture references that have nothing to do with real world biology." Jeff asked.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Stark, maybe you should have paid someone to do your homework," Britta said. Her hair was back in a high, sleek ponytail, her lips pursed.
"If I thought that would work, I would h- what did you call me?" Jeff looked at Britta suspiciously as she rocked in her seat, giving him a wide smile that Abed thought was meant to look innocent.
"I have my notes, if you want to read them," Annie said. She stood, making a show of bending to retrieve them and unzipping her jacket enough to reveal the black catsuit beneath it, twisting to give Jeff a sly smile.
Abed and Troy cocked their heads, watching her, and then looked back at Jeff, who was starting to scowl.
The door burst open, and the Dean rushed in, eyepatch over the wrong eye. "Iron Man, real heroes do their own homework," he cried. "Was I late?" he asked Abed, lifting his hand to his face to speak from behind it, as if then Jeff wouldn't hear.
Jeff's scowl was turning to something Abed thought looked closer to disturbed than angry. "You remember when Troy and me came over to watch Inception, as part of our Nolanfest?" he asked.
"We left our chart," Troy interjected. "If you could bring that back tomorrow, I could finally figure out what Arthur was doing when they were skiing."
"Troy put his phone beneath your nightstand, on speakerphone," Abed finished.
"You talk in your sleep," Troy said.
"And sometimes, you ask for a bedtime story. It's weird," Annie added.
"You've been listening to me sleep. And I talked about my dream. Did it ever occur to you that I knew what you were doing, and was faking you out?" Jeff asked.
"No," Abed said.
"Not at all," Britta agreed.
"I always knew you thought of me as your father," Pierce said. "I'm touched, Jeffrey."
"Admit it, we got you," Britta crowed. "You dream about being a SUPERHERO, that's so much more lame than Twilight."
"No it's not," Troy said.
"So not," Annie agreed.
Troy paused. "I should probably go get my phone." He blinked suddenly. "You know, I forgot about the cell phone call charges."
Annie zipped her jacket again. "You mean you don't have an unlimited plan? Troy, your phone's been there for six days. You had to have Abed program it to not hang up. That's like. . . six days worth of minutes."
"9027 minutes. . . now 28," Abed supplied.
Troy made a squeaking sound, and then bolted from the room.
"How long do you think it will take him to realize he doesn't have keys to my place?" Jeff asked.
Abed looked down.
"You have keys to my place?" Jeff groaned. "You're all on someone's most wanted list, somewhere, aren't you?"
"I always get stopped at the airport?" Abed said. Jeff grumbled something, gathering up his books and turning to follow Troy out.
Annie pouted. "I went out and bought a cat suit. He could at least have spent a few minutes looking."
She looked disappointed, so Abed offered. "I'll look."
Annie smiled at him. "Thank you, Abed!"
Shirley looked from Abed to Annie and back again, and then leaned in toward Britta. "Don't YOU think Abed and Troy's weird little relationship is starting to suck Annie in, too?"
"Definitely," Britta said. "We should either stage an intervention, or I should move in with them too." Shirley tsked and Britta shrugged. "What? It looks fun!" she said defensively.
"I suppose," Shirley admitted.
"You could both move in with me, form our own weird little threesome?" Pierce suggested hopefully.
"Oh look, time for class!" Shirley said, Britta echoed her and both of them hurrying from the room.
Troy sat beside Abed on the pillows on the blanket fort, Annie's feet in Troy's lap, her head on the pillow next to Abed. Troy sniffled, watching as Rhett Butler swept out the door, leaving Scarlett behind. "I don't understand. They're both TERRIBLE people, so why can't they be terrible together?"
"Because it was just too late, that's how it works, everything happens too late, and people are just too miserable for it to end with them having a happy ending. Like Romeo and Juliet. That's romantic, Troy," Annie said.
Troy looked horrified. "They DIE?"
"No, no, I just meant. . . the principle. There's a sequel-"
"Pretend there's no sequel," Abed said.
"There's not a GOOD sequel," Annie amended. "But they're alive!"
Troy frowned. "Are there black people in that one who aren't pulling on corsets or waiting on someone?"
Annie fidgeted sheepishly. "Ummm. . ."
"Do you want to carry me up the stairs in Annie's hoop skirt?" Abed asked to distract him.
Troy brightened. "Yeah!"
"I'm next!" Annie called, scrambling to her feet and heading to her room for props and costuming.