Chapter 1: Introduction to Symbolic Textiles
There had been some preliminary worries that Troy and Abed getting together would be the most annoying thing that ever happened to the study group, so the moment that they turned up wearing outrageously large primary-colored "I'm With Boyfriend" hats (complete with foam arrows on springs sticking out of the tops), the others heaved a perfectly simultaneous sigh of relief. Things weren't going to be that different after all.
Chapter 2: Contemporary Sex Ed
Britta could only shake her head in disbelief as Abed peered curiously over the pharmacy counter at his rows of options.
"So much for our one innocent. You're lucky I give such good advice, I've seen what you're in for and Troy's going to rock your world, but it's still weird to think about it. Pick that one," Britta amended quickly, pointing at a box of oddly-colored square packets. "Oh, and make sure you get one of those," she gestured at some small bottles that looked like the ones that the Dean sometimes swept hurriedly off his desk when people came into his office. Abed examined them.
"Oil or water based?"
"Water. Oil disintegrates rubber, which is bad. Oh, and in case it goes well you should probably get two."
The cashier definitely raised an eyebrow when they brought the stuff up to pay, even more so when Abed turned out his empty pockets and Britta exasperatedly handed him money.
After Abed had walked out with the goods, Britta doubled back to the front of the shop, and in true Britta fashion took it upon herself to slam her hand on the counter and haughtily announce to the cashier,
"Yeah, you just saw that. A woman buying condoms and lube for her platonic male friend so he can go home and have sex with his boyfriend later. What's it to you buddy?" She turned and walked out with her head held high to join Abed, and seemed so pleased with herself that he chose to refrain from telling her that that hadn't been necessary. So much for any pretense of subtlety.
Chapter 3: Methods of Confectionary Warfare
Determining the rightful recipient of the last popsicle by taking the second and third to last popsicles up as weapons in a fencing match hardly seemed the most practical approach. But in Troy and Abed's world, that only meant that it had to be done. Troy got orange, Abed got raspberry, and they were playing for cherry. Annie had declined a popsicle, so she was refereeing.
Some flourishing and parrying later, it ended quickly and disappointingly, both popsicles falling apart as they struck against each other a bit too hard, sending the pieces tumbling to the floor with a rather unremarkable "splat." Troy only managed to secure a half-hearted quasi-victory by jabbing Abed in the chest with his stump of a popsicle, catching him off guard while he was internally narrating about the outcome of the presumably-concluded match. This led to an identical jab from Abed and wow that's cold, Troy realized. Why did we do this shirtless again?
Right, 'cause it's summer and this is awesome.
The back-and-forth popsicle jabbing gave way to chasing and laughing and kissing and as Annie watched to make sure it wouldn't get out of hand and mess up the apartment (she'll clean up the kitchen floor later) she decided she actually did want that cherry popsicle after all.
Chapter 4: Applications of Narrative Media
Spoilers for the end of Life on Mars (UK).
I may have done some damage there, Abed mused, not for the first time, about Troy. This time it was the aftermath of their 24-hour marathon of Life on Mars (UK version of course), and it had been nearly ten minutes since the final episode ended, but Troy was still crying and Abed was somewhat at a loss for what to do now. This wasn't supposed to happen, he had even checked the reviews. They'd said the ending was "triumphant and uplifting" at best and "bittersweet" at worst.
Troy was holding his hand so tightly that it was a little painful, and Abed winced in spite of himself, and they were leaning heavily against each other, like the world was closing in on them. Troy sniffled.
"I mean I get it. 1973's like home, and it's an adventure and all that, and the real world's not really real to him. So he goes back. But it's still sad."
Abed tilted his head a bit, and his dark eyes caught Troy's. He was listening, so Troy took a breath and went on,
"It reminds me of you, like you have this whole other world you don't always tell us about. And I don't want you to… I don't know. Just never leave, okay?"
"Okay." There was (as per usual) no indication of tone in Abed's voice, so he instead lent the gesture sincerity by nuzzling his head closer to Troy's. It was an invitation of sorts, like a lowering of his usual guard about touching.
Troy's breath caught as he edged just close enough that he could finally feel himself taking up every last inch of Abed's space, there on the couch. Legs tangled together, hands intertwined, Troy's cheek drying on Abed's soft flannel-covered shoulder. Good. There was no way that Abed was going anywhere now. If he were ever to tire of the real world like Sam and choose to retreat back into a fantasy world he'd cooked up in his head (it would probably look like a hybrid of Inspector Spacetime and a John Hughes movie), this closeness would keep them together.
Chapter 5: Family, Fiction, and the Future
"It just occurred to me that we have yet to do a coming out story. What are the projected outcomes for our respective family members?"
"Not good. And for Nana, really not good."
"Hm. I'm not optimistic about my own parents either. It's too bad, I was hoping to be able to avoid excessive negative drama. It's not my preferred narrative style."
"Hey, we'll come out sometime. Like when you're a famous director, and we're making so much money that our parents have to at least pretend to be okay with it or we'll stop sending them stuff."
"Maybe we just need some ideas."
"Yeah. Degrassi marathon?"
"Cool. Cool cool cool."
Chapter 6: Aerodynamics of Elastics
Their rubber band ball had reached critical mass at around cantaloupe-size, and now it was disintegrating. Troy had wound up hiding behind the sofa as Abed tried to calm down the raging monster of a ball that was angrily snapping off layers of rubber bands in all directions. The overall damages ended up being:
1. The lingering stings left by numerous high-velocity collisions of rubber and skin
2. A plastic cup (with special straw) that was knocked off the counter and got chipped a little bit
3. A distinct (and unfortunately probably permanent) burnt rubber smell that had been the result of one band launching itself into the light fixture
World records were unquestionably stupid, and only very occasionally worth the trouble. This endeavor would be a good story at least.
Chapter 7: Synchronicity of Social Dynamics
Abed had never been particularly in-synch with the rest of the world before. He was too fast for it, too far outside it, every one of his comments seemed to be misplaced or not right for the occasion. None of the gestures he'd grown up around; the various hugs and high-fives, had ever seemed to fit together into any translatable language that he could learn. He saw it every day, but the body language was impenetrable, the conversation redundant and irrelevant (what was small talk even for?). He would never match up to any of it.
So then it was a fluke that when he and Troy performed their signature handshake for the first time, it had been a completely unplanned coincidence. The movements just came together in perfect cohesion, and in that moment became theirs. And curiously enough, most of the things they did together from then on just fell into place without forethought, whether it be rapping, or a practical joke they were playing on Jeff, or a volleying of movie quotes back and forth.
It had just been a lucky match. They fit each other's frequencies perfectly.
Chapter 8: The Ins and Outs of Fabric-Based Architecture
Annie was out of the apartment today, so with no one to come a-knocking, the blanket fort was a-rocking; Troy grasping Abed's bony hip, trying for a better angle; Abed wrapping his long legs around Troy's waist (for maximum closeness and sensation), and everything was nice. No reservations about being too loud or too weird, and no one ever had to know that Abed kept the Inspector's ascot on (they'd tried for the bowler hat too but it kept falling off).
The structural integrity of the location they'd chosen, however, that was a genuine worry. You tend not to think about the logistics of blanket fort sex until one participant loses his balance and stumbles into one of the supports, bringing all the blankets down with him. The result was a writhing cotton-blend mass of plaid, stripes, and Star Wars logos from which it took three whole minutes for Troy and Abed to individually disentangle themselves. Upon emerging, popping their heads up out of the blankets in a rather gopher-like fashion, they took one look at each other and laughed until Annie came home.
Chapter 9: Referential Romanticism
1. Spiderman (note for future attempts: check stability of bunk bed guard rails)
2. Sixteen Candles (postponed three days due to complications with Jeff over the chicken fingers incident)
3. Lady and the Tramp (memo: thank Annie for making that CD of Bella Notte)
4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (cat included, courtesy of Britta)
5. The Sound of Music (time taken to learn the choreography: two hours)
6. Titanic (permanently barred from sailing class as a result)
They were six of some of the most iconic movie kisses of all time, instantly recognizable in silhouette. Abed had been particular about replicating all of them to their most minute of details, doing multiple “takes” even though no one was filming. Now there was a satisfyingly green Sharpie check mark next to each title in his notebook, and the list was complete. Except, for some reason, it wasn’t.
One more, and for that, Abed and Troy were assembled together in the blanket fort they called their bedroom, and the camera was perched on the tripod and turned on. Troy was seated on the ladder, leaning in towards the bottom bunk where Abed was sitting.
“Remember, the camera’s not really here. This replication of our first kiss should be authentic in spirit; rather, the feel of it is more important than the literal accuracy. Don’t worry about takes, we’ll just go with it.”
Taking Abed’s direction to heart, Troy leaned in tentatively, nervously, just as he had almost two months ago. His heart jumped when Abed’s lips didn’t immediately respond to his, until he remembered that Abed was being authentic, it had been just like that the first time too, and by the time Troy had remembered himself and relaxed, Abed was kissing back. The thoughts and feelings of that strange, wonderful day from whence their relationship began came flooding back: the joking around over a game of Apples to Apples that somehow, accidentally, turned into a simultaneous mutual confession, the uncomfortable silence in the blanket fort where they met to talk about it, as they waited for one or the other to just say something, all leading up to the kiss that they were reliving right now.
But the similarity stopped somewhere around the point where Abed let the remake continue just that few extra seconds past the original, and Troy’s mouth moved from his lips down to his jaw, then his neck, the shyness long gone, and as Troy shifted himself off the ladder and onto the bed, Abed pawed blindly at the camera to shut it off.
7. n/a (simply Troy and Abed, making no homages or references other than to ourselves)
Chapter 10: Digital Information Sharing and Media Publication
It had been Annie's idea for Troy and Abed to start running a vlog together. They were, after all, very well practiced in making videos, and the Kickpuncher short that Abed uploaded to his personal channel a couple years ago had been a modest success. And between then and now, Abed's laptop had become a vast storehouse for the hours upon hours of footage they had shot but never used for anything, always under the assumption that it was an unfinished project that they'd get back to later. Costumed skits, music videos, class projects, avant-garde filmmaking experiments, interviews with random classmates, how-to videos for things they didn't even know how to do themselves, all featuring the two of them, and plentiful enough to make dozens of clip show episodes along with their regular vlog installments. In fact, Abed had even recorded Annie's pitch of the idea, just for posterity, and in case they ever needed to do a "how we got here" episode:
"You guys know that I love all the stuff you do together, why not share it with everyone? Make a channel, get some recognition! And Abed, it'll be great for your career."
And she was right of course. Since that day, two-and-a-half months ago, they were uploading a video a week, and while their audience wasn't huge (yet; Abed had a plan to go viral that involved spaghetti and a grave misunderstanding), people were watching them and enjoying what they did and said, which was very cool. And they had taken to sharing a great deal of their lives with the collective YouTube populace: they talked about Greendale, the other members of their study group (even bringing some of them on as occasional guests), some of the amusing shenanigans and dramatic misadventures that had defined the last three years. There was really only one thing their audience still didn't know about.
And today, as they were setting up to film their eleventh vlog, they were going to remedy that. Troy scuffed his foot nervously on the tile floor; Abed kept darting back and forth between the camera and their chairs, meticulously adjusting the frame of where the shot would eventually be. Then, finally content, Abed stepped towards Troy, and took his hand, gently walking them into the shot. He reached out to the camera, checked the frame one last time to make sure he and Troy were in it, intertwined hands and all. He looked to Troy for confirmation. Troy looked back, and nodded.
"Let's do this." And he pressed record. Troy cleared his throat, squeezing Abed's hand as hard as he could.
"Welcome, one and all! I'm Troy Barnes."
"And I'm Abed Nadir. And you're watching..."
"Troy and Abed's YouTube Chaaaaaaannel!"
Chapter 11: Culinary Outdoorsmanship and the Commemorative Arts
I really don't mean for these to keep getting progressively longer, honest.
If you picked a nice spot with just the right balance of sun and shade, out of the way of hackeysacking hippies and overzealous professors fixated on seizing the day, the Greendale quad actually wasn't a half bad place to eat lunch. Troy, Abed, and Annie supplied some blankets from their apartment, and everyone brought homemade food.
It was almost a graduation lunch, except for the fact that they had over a month of school left, but that was what they had called it while they were making the plans. Its real purpose wasn't revealed until Jeff raised his glass, interrupting Britta's confrontation with Shirley over the salami content of her sandwiches, and said with surprising sincerity,
“Now, I don't have the best track record here as an advocate of love. But even I recognize that a couple that can stay together for an entire year without a single incident of one punching the other in the face... or spending their days insulting each other while sleeping together in secret... or getting tangled up in a three-way pregnancy mystery, which would admittedly be somewhat difficult in this case, demonstrates fierce tenacity at the very least. I once had to make a speech to save your friendship. I'm simultaneously weirded out and honored by this opportunity to make a speech commemorating your... love... tenacity, whatever you want to call it. Troy and Abed, happy anniversary. We'll never forget those hats.”
The four who were neither giving nor receiving the speech applauded, Shirley chiming in with a delighted, “Ooh, that's nice,” Britta nodding sagely as she tossed a stray piece of salami over her shoulder. Annie got up and hopped on tiptoe over to Troy and Abed to hug them, and Troy grinned sheepishly, thanking every deity ever that he had enough melanin to hide his blush because he felt like his face was about to catch on fire.
A bit later, when everyone else had had their fill of celebration, and the salami debate had resumed at full force (Annie joining Britta's side because it turned out to be pork salami, Pierce joining Shirley's side for the purpose of making a dirty joke, and Jeff declaring himself apathetic to the whole thing), Troy and Abed lounged happily against the tree trunk, Troy's head propped up on Abed's shoulder. And without even thinking about it, by now just settling into routine, Troy angled his head upward, brushing his lips softly against Abed's, and it was up to Abed to jump the rest of the gap, bringing their mouths fully together in a slow, easy motion, his face cupped by Troy's steady and gently leading hand.
When they broke apart, Troy tucked his head back into place on Abed's shoulder, just underneath his chin. He closed his eyes, and within five minutes was dreaming that he and Abed were saving the world from alien lunch meat.
Chapter 12: Anatomical Comfort Ratios
Kickpuncher notwithstanding, Abed wasn’t very much like a girl at all, and it took Troy some time to get used to that. He wasn’t made up of soft, cushiony curves; he was delicate, but in the sort of way that a bird or a deer was: angular and bony and a bit pointy if you leaned on him the wrong way. Of course, all that meant though was that when Troy nestled his head on Abed’s shoulder as the clock wound its way into the wee hours on movie night, he had no excuse for it. Abed had no intrinsic pillowy qualities, but somehow he was still the most comfortable place for Troy to be.
Chapter 13: Navigating Sociological Conventions
“I know,” Abed said, putting up his hands in a gesture of reconciliation. “I would be a disaster to characterize onscreen. Muslim, neuroatypical, and pansexual: three states of being that television can't seem to acknowledge appropriately, even on their own. I'd hoped that concealing the latter of the three would help keep the Special Episodes about me to a minimum.” He paused, tilting his head and peering at the varied expressions around the study room table. His eyes lingered on Troy, who seemed to be working through his confusion up to some kind of epiphany. He'd get there. “But in light of this recent misunderstanding I think I do have to apologize for not being more upfront. Sorry.”
Never mind the five other people at the table, never mind the fact that he was pretty sure he saw the Dean approaching the study room out of the corner of his eye, and never mind the fact that he was probably going to have to go through his own long-winded (and not nearly as eloquent) explanation later: Troy, having finally reached that epiphany, leaned over the short distance of the table corner and personally accepted Abed's apology with a kiss. He felt Abed smile a little against his lips; he totally knew.
Chapter 14: Introductory Courtship and Aspects of Mise-En-Scene
Sorry about the lack of updates; I've still been writing Trobed ficlets and I've got two new-ish ones including this one to share (folks on Tumblr will have seen them already), but was hesitant to do so because at some point I started writing in the present tense (blame peer pressure and the majority of the awesome writers in the Community fandom) and wasn't willing to change them to past tense in order to maintain continuity with the previous installments. But then I realized, duh, it won't be that big a deal if I just explain it, that's what notes are for.
So yeah, present tense. :D I've made the switch. Not that big a deal but still worth announcing so as not to be weird.
The movie credits are rolling, so it’s dark outside and dim inside, the chairs are warm and sunken-in and there are crumbs on the floor from assorted snacks.
Troy’s still seeing stars a bit and isn’t quite sure whether they’re from the brightness of the explosions or whether they’re the still-lingering effects of what Abed leaned over and did twenty minutes ago, timed perfectly with the culmination of the movie’s slow-burning romantic arc. It’s not that Troy wasn’t expecting it; Abed couldn’t really have been clearer in the opening statement he offered before putting the DVD in, that he specifically arranged this night in as a catalyst for their inevitable steps forward as a recently-established couple. So pretty much a date but without the expensive tickets or noisy crowds or incomprehensible menus.
And that absolutely entails kisses— long ones, slow ones, slightly salty from the chips and popcorn, moving and deepening on point with the swells in the music because Abed’s a director at heart. And definitely well-versed in this, channeling every cinema classic at once while also bringing forth so much of himself, his own vision. Troy decides he has every right to still be seeing stars.
Abed looks over at him out of the corner of his eye and the rightmost side of his mouth quirks up a little as he offers a curved palm and wiggling fingers for Troy to match with his own. He does, slipping his fingers between Abed’s, happily swinging their connected hands back and forth between the chairs. Troy’s brain focuses long enough to spin together some obvious truths and excitedly announce to him that Abed is his boyfriend now as if it’s brand new information, and Troy lets the announcement race around his head a few times before stashing it away like a treasure because he’s in love with the way it sounds, with how it just sounds like the pinnacle of cozy and not-too-grown-up affection, a new word for them but not too big a leap from what they’ve always been.
Chapter 15: Intermediate Attire Theory (Prerequisite to Basic Nupitals)
“The guy at the store’s exact words were, ‘No trenchcoats. Ever.’ He said that if we’re going for customization, cummerbunds are the best we can hope for,” Abed says, frowning as he pockets his phone. He uncaps a pen and scribbles the disappointing reality check into his planner.
“Damn, okay.” Troy’s got the same deflated look on his face that he had when he learned that animal hospitals don’t involve cats and dogs in labcoats treating illnesses. Then his eyebrows shoot straight up. “Wait, you mean cummerbunds are actually a thing? I thought Annie was talking about the Sherlock Holmes guy, and I was like ‘Uh, we can’t afford famous people at our wedding, especially if they’re as rich as the guy’s name makes him sound.’ Ugh now I feel really dumb.”
“That’s okay, we might be able to work with the cummerbund idea. I was thinking of pitching this design.” Abed turns his planner around to show Troy, in which he’s drafted out a sash that looks like a phone booth flipped on its side. Troy grins.
“The X7 Dimensionizer! I love you.”
“Hence the wedding.” Abed makes a finger gun, and fires it off with a click of his tongue. Instead of fake-dying, Troy rolls over from his position next to Abed to be on top of him, and maybe steal a kiss on the way there. (Correction, definitely do that. It’s routine by now.)