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Advanced Covert Dating

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Annie couldn't tell if Troy and Abed were dating.

Actually, that wasn't true. She knew, or at least used to know, when Troy was dating because Troy would come asking her for dating advice, which made Annie's insides tie up in knots. These days Troy still came to her for advice, but now it was mostly on how to do laundry or use a vacuum cleaner. And Abed -- Annie didn't know what Abed was up to half the time, but in a Troy-and-Abed-dating situation, it seemed likely that he'd let her know.

So: Annie couldn't tell if Troy and Abed were having secret sex. Annie was obviously less well-trained at figuring that out, or she would have known about all the secret sex Jeff and Britta had been having last year. But she was working on figuring it out. Annie didn't actually make a list, because she was working on being less uptight, and also because things might get awkward if anyone found the list, but she still thought it would be useful to organize the evidence for and against the whole Troy/Abed secret sex theory.

AGAINST: She saw Troy and Abed pretty much all the time, and they had almost zero privacy now that they'd given her their bedroom and slept in a blanket fort. Annie also knew that when the blanket fort was a-rocking she would notice it, because she'd been around to help in the aftermath of the Great Pillow Collapse of Winter '11. So there was a lack of circumstantial evidence. Of course Troy and Abed were really close, but that didn't have to mean sex. Annie had lots of friends she didn't want to have sex with! Like ... Pierce. And Shirley. Troy and Abed probably didn't even think of each other that way. Plus Annie wasn't entirely sure whether Abed had a sex drive. He had lots of characters he put on who were dashing and flirty and sometimes kissed Annie, but she didn't know how much they had to do with Abed.

FOR: Even if Abed-as-Abed was really detached about a lot of things, Troy wasn't one of those things. Annie had kept count all day once, and discovered that Abed hadn't smiled at anyone except for Annie (four times) and Troy (eighteen). They lit up around each other. They held hands. They ... really loved each other, that's what was going on, and Annie couldn't tell whether that meant sex.

"Hey, Abed?" Annie said. Troy was at football practice, but she and Abed were in the blanket fort, Annie reading her biology textbook and Abed watching Inspector Spacetime. Without looking away from the screen, Abed reached for the remote, pressed pause, and turned to Annie expectantly. Annie fiddled with the edge of the textbook pages. "Are you and Troy having secret sex?"

Abed tilted his head slightly, scrutinizing her in that birdlike way he had. "Should we be?"

"Um." Annie blushed, and felt silly for blushing. Abed had a way of making her flustered, even though she knew he wasn't judging her. "No," she said. "I mean, you don't have to, but it'd be okay if you were."

"Two male characters only sleep together in a show that's about gay people," Abed said thoughtfully. "But the study group seems to be mainly heterosexual."

Annie considered this. "I almost kissed Britta once?"

Abed shook his head. "In a cultural narrative of more fluid female sexuality, your unconsummated attraction to another woman is unthreatening, and it doesn't imply homosexuality any more than do all those times Pierce says Jeff is gay."

"I guess," Annie said, a little affronted. But she left it at that, because Troy and Abed weren't having secret sex. Mystery solved.

Except, she realized a few days later, Abed hadn't actually answered her question. Annie usually thought of Abed as someone who was removed enough from normal human interaction that he was somehow above the sneaky manipulations that normal people did, but sometimes the opposite was true.

And just like that, Annie stopped wonderingly idly if Troy and Abed were having secret sex. Now she was a woman on a covert mission.

She waited for the perfect opportunity. She asked Shirley for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe. On Saturday morning, while Troy slept in and Abed went out to find DVDs at the weekend sale in the mall, Annie baked a dozen cookies. Armed with a plate, cookies still gooey-centered and full of melted chocolate, she crept into the blanket fort to interrogate the suspect.

"I am so glad you moved in with us," Troy told her, blissful and still half-asleep as he ate the first cookie. "These are great, Annie."

He had a pillow-crease in one cheek, and a big goofy grin, and his fingers were getting sticky. Annie really liked him, probably a lot more than she had in high school, before she'd really known him, before he'd grown up and become awesome and ridiculous. It would be so great to date him, and possibly even to have secret sex with him; and Annie wondered how all this could be true and she was still kind of hoping that Troy and Abed were sleeping together.

"Another?" she offered. Troy ate this cookie too. "Are you and Abed having secret sex?"

Troy blinked at Annie. "I don't know."

Annie stared at him. "Troy," she said, "I'm pretty sure you'd notice if you were having sex."

Troy frowned, finishing his cookie. "Have you ever kissed Abed?"

"Y -- oh," Annie said, tripping over the words. The memory of kissing Abed was still Technicolor-vivid in her mind, his mouth hot on hers, kissing like a movie star, like a space smuggler, the way Han Solo would kiss. She had no idea what Abed-as-Abed kissed like. "Troy," she said slowly, "who's having secret sex?"

"The Inspector and Constable Reggie," Troy said promptly. "Uh, Reggie and the Anti-Inspector sometimes. Batman and, um, we talked about that one for a while but I was tired of sidekicks so it was just me that time. Kickpun --"

"Okay, I get it!" Annie interrupted. She wouldn't have really minded if Troy had kept going, but Abed had been evasive, so maybe he didn't want her prying. She reached out and took a cookie of her own, wondering how she'd missed this. "Where?"

"The Dreamatorium," Troy said promptly, which did explain a lot. Of course it had been non-negotiable.

"You could -- I wouldn't mind if you used the blanket fort," Annie hazarded. "If it'd be more comfortable?"

"Thanks, but I don't think so." Troy tried to look grown-up about the whole thing for a moment, and then gave Annie one of his adorable sideways smiles. "Abed's way more comfortable in there."

Annie opened her mouth to ask whether Troy was, and closed it again. It all seemed really complicated to her, but then, Abed was complicated, in a way only Troy could really unlock. The easy willing way in which Troy had answered Annie when she asked the right question spoke volumes too. "That's fine too," Annie said. "Another cookie?"

When Abed arrived home a few minutes later. Annie and Troy joined him in the kitchen, crowding around the counter to eat the remainder of the cookies. "So," Annie said. "I hear the Inspector and the Constable are dating." She looked straight at Abed. "I'm really happy for them."

Abed smiled at her, one of his rare bright smiles, and Annie beamed back.