“Dean-dong, anyone home? Now you may wonder why I’m dressed as a sexy spy--oh, hey, Abed. Where’s the rest of the group?” The dean tugged at his catsuit.
“I’m editing a film on the mating habits of Greendale students over sixty, and they unanimously decided that they didn’t want to be anywhere close to my work today.” Abed opened the file containing Leonard’s interview, which had undisputedly been the most groundbreaking and informative.
“Oh, that sounds fascinating!” Dean Pelton peered down at the screen, where Leonard was gesticulating emphatically. “Oh my, that’s a side of him I’ve never seen before. Anyway, can I explain my costume to you? That’s a whole hour of costume planning down the drain if I don’t get to tell someone.”
“Feel free. Your premises for costumes are a really solid running gag. Just the right combination of uncomfortable and humorous. I admire that.”
“Awww, that’s sweet. Anyway. I’m dressed as a spy to commemorate the removal of the cameras placed at strategic locations in this study room! I’ve been informed that it’s,” he quirked his lips and flicked his hand dismissively, “both illegal and disturbing. Some people really take everything too seriously.”
“I feel like you would have been able to justify those if you referred to them as security cameras.”
“Yeah, but it was kinda hard to explain the ‘creepy’ private feed they had to my office.” He sighed wistfully. “It’s just one more of my dreams crushed by meaningless bureaucracy.” The dean stopped, and glanced around the study room once more. “It’s a good thing you’re the only one here, Abed. You probably think this is normal behavior.” He chuckled to himself.
“Not really. I’m capable of recognizing it as creepy, I just don’t care."
“And it’s that positive outlook on life that I admire so much! Say, you’re always making pointless videos, Abed. Do you want copies of the footage?” He smiled what was definitely meant to be a winning smile. “In exchange for your silence, of course.”
Abed wondered briefly if this was the part of the episode where he should be having a crisis of morals.
Dean Pelton clapped delightedly and seized Abed’s hand from the keyboard to guide it into a handshake. “Then it’s a deal!”
“Cool. Cool cool cool.”
“...all we had was dumb reality before we met that man. And he’s made all of our lives better than reality. Now it becomes a little inconvenient and it’s time to get real?” Abed paused the video and leaned back in his seat, steepling his hands in front of his face.
(He’d first gotten the idea to start doing that when thinking after marathoning Sherlock with Troy and Annie the previous week. He felt it gave a certain air of contemplation to his character without the effort involved in actually making his face reflect contemplativeness.)
He was feeling something unusual. He wasn’t quite sure what was up with him, because he was feeling sorry. Sorry...wasn't something he felt often. But he had been a total dick to Troy during what he was now privately referring to as That Episode with the Look-a-Likes and The Plush Fort War Double Feature.
Troy had always been on his side until it became a real danger to Abed himself. The fort wars seemed like an obvious outlier to that, sure, but everyone had their boiling point. If Troy had been any other member of their study group, it would have been less pillow fight and more threatening to never speak to him again and leave the study group for real this time.
Maybe it was time to do something for Troy in return. He was going to plan the greatest gesture of gratitude a best friend could hope for.
some time later, in a video confessional booth/instrument practice room
"It was actually pretty hard to pull it off." Britta pulled a face at the camera. "Most of the stuff Pierce wanted to say was disgusting. If you can believe it, the worst of it didn't make the cut! Yeah, just think about that." Britta put her elbow down on the keyboard of the piano.
“Abed, did you actually get permission to use this room? I saw a larger-than-usual number of angry nerds armed with trumpets on my way in.”
previously, in the study room
"My god, Britta smells like something crawled under her jacket and died. I wonder if that means she's forsaking hygiene and taste to bone another burnout loser. That would explain the pungent combination of pizza, pot, and shame."
"Wow, Jeff, rude." Jeff glanced up from where he was apparently absorbed in his notes for introduction to musical criticism.
"What did I do this time? I'm just studying for my damn test on musics of South Eastern Asia. Jeez."
"For the record, Britta, I think you smell fine."
"...thank you? That's sweet of you, Troy, but context is important."
"I just didn't want you to think Jeff was right. You really don't smell."
"What are you talking about, I never said she smelled! What am I, ten?"
"I don't write your insults, dude. Not my fault if you're losing your touch."
"My balls itch like they're on fire. What if there are actual ants in my pants? I wonder if anyone would notice if I gave them a good scratch. Hmm, I should probably get tested. That Opal is quite the saucy piece. Almost as great as that time I did Eartha Kitt."
"Pierce, gross!" Everyone looked up at once and stared at Troy.
And that was when Troy first realized what was going on. Normally, Pierce being disgusting warranted more of a reaction than it was getting. It just wasn't in character that everyone was ignoring him and keeping up the pretense of studying. It definitely wasn't normal that Troy was the one getting the freaked out looks from the rest of the group.
"What's wrong with you today? You're acting as crazy as your boyfriend over there when the cafeteria lady told him that John Hughes was overrated."
"While I don't agree with him being obnoxious and offensive about it, Pierce is right. What's with you today, Troy?"
"I--I don't know! I, uh, guess I shouldn’t have stayed up so late watching movies with Abed last night." But that wasn't really the truth. It was obvious what had happened.
He'd developed mind-reading powers. Abed was going to be so jealous.
slightly earlier in the video confessional booth
"I don't understand what Abed is doing with this whole scheme--sorry, Abed."
"Keep rolling, Annie, I'm not even here. This is great stuff."
"He said it was a present to Troy, but it just kind of seems like complex psychological warfare to me?" She widened her eyes emphatically at the camera, voice lowered to a stage whisper.
"Are you saying that because you want to be right if everything goes horribly wrong, or because you actually think it sounds like complex psychological warfare?"
"You know...I'm going to have to go with both for now. Cover all my bases."
...and then a bit later in the study room
Troy discovered a few specific things about his new powers throughout their study time. The first was that they didn't seem to work on Abed. Troy could only assume that it was one more weird secret talent of his.
The second was that their group was made up of very disturbed individuals who never stopped thinking about sex or violence.
The third was that hearing Shirley's thoughts was especially disturbing. With the others, a certain level of depravity was expected, but Shirley was frighteningly good at the wholesome wife and mother thing.
"It's so nice that Professor Bentley got taken into custody today and I'll be able to get home early. No babies in the house, no quizzes to study for, and I intend to make good use of that marital bed. Mm, I sure hope Andre wears that," Troy jumped up and cut off the rest of the Shirley's thought with a panicked shout.
"I HAVE TO GO TO THE BATHROOM."
"...okay, do you want an escort? We're not holding you here, you know."
Troy fled the room. Perhaps this was the inevitable downside to all super powers--hearing your most prudish friends' sexy thoughts.
"How can anyone bear a weight this heavy?" wailed Troy from where he had locked himself in a stall.
about an hour after that
"...and so, Troy, I know it's kinda hard to believe but you're not really psychic. Sorry." Annie eyed him for signs of anger or upset.
"Oh, yeah. I figured out what you guys were doing pretty fast." Troy grinned toothily. "It was really obvious."
"You did, did you? Because I don't believe you. You seemed pretty convinced that Shirley wanted to kill us all for a while there." Britta crossed her arms over her chest.
"Yeah. Because if I could hear your thoughts, I would have heard all the gay thoughts."
"Ha!" Pierce brought his hand up for a high five. He lowered it after a long moment when it was deliberately ignored. "Ah, bunch of humorless gay jerks."
"Troy...what do you mean by 'all the gay thoughts'? Are you being homophobic?" Britta put on her best Champion of Oppressed Peoples glare. "That is unacceptable behavior and I will not put up with it."
"Yes, explain. It sounds a lot like you're channeling Pierce, it's pretty out of character." Annie folded her hands primly on the table in front of her and looked at Troy expectantly.
"You know, the gay thoughts we all have but aren't supposed to talk about? My dad told me how you're not supposed to talk about it, but I figure we're basically family, so I can talk to you guys about stuff."
"...maybe you should tell us about this conversation with your dad."
"Uhh, I think I was about seven? I told my dad I was going to marry Batman when I grew up, and he told me all about it." He beamed at them. "Well, what about you guys? When did you learn about it?"
Britta was the first to break the silence.
"Oh my god, Troy, your father's been lying to you! Everyone doesn't have secret gay thoughts that we don't talk about!"
"Well, once in a while, I mean the human mind is naturally curious--" Annie interjected.
"Okay, yes, maybe a few times but not consistently enough for a secret gay thought conspiracy! What did you think gay people were, Troy?"
"Uhh, I assumed they had secret straight thoughts they didn't talk about?" The 'duh' was implied.
"...you make a good point. I guess there's no pretending this never came up?"
"Nope. How often are your thoughts gay, Troy? Are you gay? You can tell us, you know, we won't judge!" Britta's eyes lit up with the possibility of a Gay Friend on the horizon.
“Troy, you can do what you like with your life--and your eternal salvation--but I know a very nice ex-gay couple from church if you’d like to wipe a sin off your soul.” Shirley gave him her warmest, most earnest please-eat-my-cookies smile.
"Wait, what? I'm not gay! I have lots of straight thoughts, too! Secret and non-secret!"
"So you're bisexual?"
"Stop trying to confuse me!"
“There was a slight misstep in the plan. Not that I think he didn’t enjoy it pre-misstep, but it did have the unforeseen consequence of accidentally outing my best friend. If I’m going to do this properly, the next plan will have to be even more awesome.”
Someone pounded on the door.
“Abed, are you done yet? I really need to practice my oboe solo before contest and I’m kinda freaking out about my practice charts!”
“Just a moment, Garrett. Let me make a closing statement for this segment.”
“Fine, just hurry up. If I don’t have time to properly warm up before the rest of the quartet arrives, I am going to write a very angry letter to the music department about practice room use.”
“Cool. As I was saying, the next plan will have to be even more awesome.” Abed knew what he had to do. “Initiate the Narrative Plan.”
“All I’m saying is that I’m not letting Professor Beaumont fail me in a music class, of all the ridiculous blowoff courses I thought I was signing up for!”
“Jeff was once again off on an impassioned tangent while our hero, Troy Barnes, stared into the distance, contemplating the apple pie he had waiting for him in the fridge at home.” Troy grinned absently. He really was looking forward to that pie.
“Who the hell are you? Why do you know our names? Why are you here? We’re trying to study!”
“Troy was trying to remember if they had any whipped cream left after the gingerbread table project he had conducted with Annie and Abed the previous week. He then remembered that they did have Miracle Whip in the fridge, and wondered if that would do in pinch. I mean, the names were even kinda similar, surely it couldn’t go wrong. Then he remembered the last time he’d made that mistake. It had not been delicious. The roots of his regret ran deep.”
“Wow, the guy narrating my thoughts is right about so many things! How are you doing that?”
“Abed already knows that I hate it when our lives are narrated, I can’t believe he’d do this!” Jeff plinked at the keys on the far right end of the piano. He slowly tapped out Happy Birthday with his index fingers.
“It’s possible that it was more important to Abed that he do something fun for Troy than please you. ”
“You really need to stop talking about yourself in third person. It makes you sound even weirder than usual.
Suddenly a face filled the window of the confessional booth door. “Winger, stop having gay sex with yourself and let me use the practice room. I need to get my violin on.”
“Shut up, Leonard. Everyone knows you just play mediocre Katy Perry covers and post them to youtube.”
“I’m dedicated to my craft.” He blew a raspberry and wandered off again.
meanwhile, in the cafeteria
Troy sat down next to Britta at their usual table with a plate full of hot, delicious chicken fingers. His new friend Marcus took the seat next to him, and proceeded to totally know exactly what he was thinking, just as he had for the entire two hours Troy had known him so far.
“Troy was pleased with himself for finally getting to the cafeteria early enough to fairly acquire the coveted chicken fingers. However, something was amiss. His thoughts were in disarray. He was thinking stuff like ‘five of these is never enough to satisfy me‘ and ‘where did this narrator guy come from, anyway?‘ and ‘I miss Abed. I bet he’d have something awesome to say about all this. Plus, I could really use a hug’. His feelings were in turmoil. However, it was just when he had bitten into his first chicken finger that his favorite bro Abed returned to the cafeteria.”
“Hey, where have you been? Also, do you know where Marcus came from? He won’t tell me anything, he just keeps narrating my thoughts. Is he a psychic?”
“Oh, no. I asked him to follow you around and narrate your thoughts for the day. He’s going off the notes I gave him.”
Shirley gasped. “Are you having those premonitions again? Did you see anything important about my future?”
Troy set down his chicken finger to give Abed a concerned look. “Dude...how are you paying for this?”
“Oh, I’m not. I resolved an argument between him and the Human Being a while back over parking. They owe me one favor each.” Troy’s eyes widened, and they performed their secret handshake on automatic. “He sounds exactly like Morgan Freeman.”
“I know, that’s why I decided to help him out of his parking situation. He was clearly in the wrong. Sorry, Marcus.”
“No problem, Abed.”
“This is the greatest gift anyone has ever given to me, man. You really are the best friend anyone could ask for.”
“Troy was once again having secret gay thoughts about kissing his best friend, Abed. And now that he knew that those secret gay thoughts meant something different than he had thought, he felt like it was right. They went together like Kickpuncher marathons and special drink. Like pillow forts and pepperoni-barbecue pizzas. Like the Dreamatorium and far-fetched imagined scenarios for two.”
Troy’s face had quickly gone from thrilled to mortified.
“Okay, you’re losing points with me fast, fake Morgan Freeman.”
“Between the premonitions and the secret gay feelings, I’m starting to feel like sin follows this group wherever it goes. I can’t deal with this right now. I’m gonna go home, bake some pie with my babies, and hope things have gone back to normal tomorrow. Although I guess normal would be weirder than all these odd goings-on. Lord have mercy on all of our souls.”
“What kind of pie are you making?”
“Pecan, and I’ve half a mind to not give you any if you keep this tomfoolery up, Abed.”
“Troy said the apple was better than his own mother’s.”
“Oh, I can’t stay mad at you. I’ll bring it by during study group tomorrow.”
There was no way Abed’s latest plan could go wrong. The pre-textbook buy-back dance was in full swing. A half dozen or so couples were on the dance floor, the Human Being was dressed as a used Intermediate French textbook kept in good enough condition to sell back to the bookstore, the dean was apparently the sexy French instructor for whose class the Human Being-decent-quality-book had been issued, and Pierce and Leonard were having an argument that didn’t make sense in the context of any references that Abed understood. Abed thought that he might be able to capture more footage for his documentary if the gathering crowd of the elderly around them was any indication. It was best to film the subject in the wild, after all.
And, best of all, the hackey sack guys he had recruited for his latest plans were scheduled to appear at any moment.
And appear they did, not even a minute later and very obviously without the costumes and props Abed had supplied for them.
He caught Roach, their de facto leader after the untimely death of Starburns, by the sleeve and whirled him around.
“I can’t help but notice that you are neither wearing a rubber cat mask nor riding on a giant Roomba. Is there something you’d like to tell me?”
“Okay, so I was really high when I agreed to do that? Now I’m on probation, so I can’t be really high, which means I can’t not think about how stupid your plan is. Really stupid, by the way, is how stupid your plan is. Here’s your cat mask back. I’m keeping the giant Roomba.”
“It’s actually just a skateboard with a painted circular sled nailed on top, you won’t get much vacuuming done with it.”
“Yeah, well. Now it’s my skateboard with a painted circular sled nailed on top. Deal with it.”
A high-pitched wail rent the air in the cafeteria, and Abed collapsed to the floor. The wail continued, unabated. Troy looked up from where he had been flirting with a hot girl from his acting class and rushed over immediately. He dropped to his knees beside him.
“It’s okay, buddy. I’m here. Tell me what they messed up and I’ll kick their asses so hard they’ll never do butt stuff again without remembering my foot.” He grasped his hand tightly.
Abed’s wailing abated abruptly.
“They’ve ruined everything. I planned a super awesome cat Roomba flash mob and they’ve ruined it. Not cool.” His face was as neutral as ever, but Troy could see that he was upset. “I’m a bad friend, aren’t I?”
“What? Abed, no, let’s go have a talk about this somewhere else."
“Abed didn’t let me film a video booth confessional thing, so I’ve taken matters into my own hands. I just don’t understand why this group doesn’t appreciate what a valuable resource I am. I am a comedy goldmine, I really am. Well, you know what, Abed? You don’t get any of my jokes. I’ve had enough of being excluded. You can call me when you want to apologize, I don’t hold grudges.” Pierce jabbed at the off button.
“What are you doing with Abed’s camera?”
“If you must know, I was filming my bit for his little project.” Shirley wrinkled her nose. “Are you talking about that old people sex research documentary he’s doing?”
“No, obviously I meant the video confessional. Everyone else got to make one!” Shirley took the camera from him with little protest.
“There isn’t even a battery in this, Pierce! Did you check that it was on before you tried recording?”
in a nearby corridor
“Alright, are you gonna tell me what all of this is about? Telepathy, being narrated, cats on Roombas--I know for a fact that you know those are all things I love. Why are you doing all this awesome stuff for me?” They were sitting on the floor outside the entrance to the cafeteria, reclined against the wall. Troy rested his hand comfortably over Abed’s.
“But it isn’t awesome, Troy. Every one of the gifts I planned for you failed. I’ll understand if you don’t want to be best friends any more. In fact, I’m planning on spending the next few days in the Dreamatorium until I can figure out how to be awesome again. I’ll give you my cell phone so you can keep track of my messages and Tivo schedule.”
“Nope, stop it. Sure, none of your gifts turned out the way you wanted, but it was always other people who Britta’d it all up. It’s other people who suck, and you’re cool. Now where’s that ridiculously large supply of self-confidence I’m used to from my best friend in the world?” Troy smiled at him and bumped Abed’s knee with his own.
“I’ve realized something recently. My ego is nearly as big as Jeff’s, although perhaps significantly less obsessed with being the main character in every scene. I’m selfish. I’m okay with being selfish, and I’ll probably always be selfish. Why would you want a friend like that?”
Troy sighed, and scooted closer to Abed so that his left side was nearly pressed against Abed’s right.
“I’m not gonna lie, you can be pretty selfish. And it’s true that I probably have the patience of a god. No offense.”
“None taken. Continue.” Troy laced his fingers through Abed’s.
“Anyway, you may be selfish, but you’re also the coolest person I’ve ever met. You have an awesome imagination, and you usually manage to include a part for me in whatever you’re doing. You understand me better than anyone, and sometimes I even think I kinda understand you. Listen, I don’t need to give you a list. You’re my best friend, and I--I love you, man.” He glanced down at their clasped hands and gave a short, nervous laugh. “I guess that probably sounds pretty gay after all the stuff you’ve found out about me recently.”
Abed had always sort of idly wondered if Troy was romantically interested in him. He was usually good at reading the data available, but it was harder when it involved himself.
“Well, do you want it to be pretty gay?”
Troy drew in a breath that, if sitcoms had taught Abed anything, meant that he was either really thrilled or really horrified by the idea.
“Uh, what if I did want it to be gay? Would you be okay with that?”
“Yep. I’d be cool with that. I feel like it’s the climax that this whole episode’s been building up to, anyway.”
“Well, it’s a pretty good one, then. I’m gonna kiss you now, so don’t freak out.”
“Cool.” Troy leaned in and kissed him softly. If they were on tv, Abed knew that this was the moment when the credits would begin to roll.
For once, he was really glad they weren’t on tv.
“This is Troy and Abed, and we’re live in the Dean’s office for the first in our special series on unique relationships.” Troy sipped his coffee, and gave the imaginary camera his most winning smile from the best possible angle.
“Hello, Troy and Abed! I’m super thrilled to finally be on this show, it’s been a dream of mine for a while!”
“And it’s been a dream of mine for a while to hire someone to follow me around with a trombone and make silly sounds at key moments throughout the day. So, Dean Pelton, tell us about your new relationship! We hear you’ve been dating a bilingual man in a purple monster fursuit who teaches English to Japanese children!”
“Wait, how did you know about--I don’t know what you’re talking about! Stop the tape, stop the tape! You know, if you were being professional about this, you would have given me a copy of the questions before recording!”
Jeff suddenly appeared in the doorway.
“There is no tape. They’re pretending to host a morning show, there isn't even a camera. Also, your preferences are disturbing and kind of make me want to cry.” He was gone as suddenly as he had appeared.
Troy turned to Abed.
“Tell the audience at home, how did you know about Dean Pelton’s relationship?”
“I am a font of untold knowledge, deeper than what you or anyone else could possibly imagine. This has been a great episode, folks, but we’ve got econ,” Abed consulted his watch, “five minutes ago. Thanks to everyone at home for joining us for..."
“Troy and Abed in dean’s office!”