Troy turned his head without taking his eyes off the dancers.
“Hey, Britta,” he replied, his attention only half diverted.
“Are you finished with class? It’s pizza for lunch. Pizza, pizza.” She paused her impromptu dance, noticing Troy’s lack of focus. “Troy?”
“Huh?” He finally looked away.
“Oh. You go ahead. I’ll catch up.”
“I’m sure.” He gave her an absent smile.
“Okay...” she glanced over to where Troy was looking. “Are they in your class?”
“Uh, yeah. They’re the advanced group. I’m not- I’m on the reserve.”
“Hey.” She knocked Troy’s shoulder. “Well done.”
There was silence for a minute.
“They’re pretty good.”
They both stared as the lead dancer did a backflip; his black leotard stretched tightly over his muscled legs and ass.
Britta licked her lips then glanced at Troy.
“Troy! Are you ogling?”
“You are, you totally are.”
Britta raised an eyebrow at him then looked back at the lead dancer. She tilted her head. “I guess, I can’t really blame you.” She shook her head, as if to clear it. “Well, I’m getting lunch.”
“I’ll come.” Troy dragged his gaze away from the dancers.
“No, no.” She shook her head. “I always say, just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you don’t have eyes.”
“Huh?” Troy frowned at her, confused.
“I won’t tell Abed,” she whispered, leaning closer. Then she straightened, her expression studiously normal. “I’m gonna get pizza.” She winked and patted Troy’s shoulder, oblivious to his confusion.
“Have fun. But not too much fun.” She wagged her finger at him. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
The library was pleasantly silent in a bookish sort of way. The quiet crinkle of turned pages overlaid with studious murmurs. And the occasional scream of agony. But, well, this was Greendale.
Troy was almost finished with his colouring in. He was filling in the heart, his felt-tip almost out of ink. He had to press down hard, the tip squeaking as it slid across the card. He didn’t notice Annie coming up behind him, and her sudden exclamation made him jump, the red streaking outside the line.
“That’s so sweet Troy.”
He frowned down at the paper and took a deep breath.
He pressed his lips shut. The only words he could think to say were ones he didn’t think Annie would like to hear. Instead he simply raised the card so that she could see all of it. Including the stray red line sticking out from the side of the heart.
“Oh no! Was that my fault? I’m sorry!” She dropped her hand to his shoulder and gave it a quick squeeze in commiseration. “We could use white out.” She moved round to sit in the Abed’s place. “Here, I have some.” She had her head ducked down, rummaging through her bag and finally emerged triumphant, the little white bottle clutched in her hand. She raised her eyebrows in a question, holding the bottle out.
Troy glanced back between the card and her hand before finally nodding. Not perfect. But he’d run out of red, so making another card was out of the question.
He took the bottle, unscrewed the cap, and then, lip caught between his teeth, painstakingly painted a thin layer of white over the red.
He leant back.
“Perfect.” Annie clapped her hands before taking back the bottle. “Oh Abed is going to be so happy.”
Troy nodded, looking at the card, then stopped as her words caught up with him. “Abed?”
“Well yes.” She rolled her eyes.
“Why will Abed be happy?”
“Because of the Valentine’s, silly.” She pushed at his shoulder.
Troy frowned. “I don’t-” He considered. Maybe Abed was given a Valentine’s card too. “Abed got a card?”
“Well not yet.”
Now Troy was even more confused. Why would Agent Vohlers tell Annie she was going to give Abed a card before doing it? Was Annie a secret agent! His eyes widened. That would be awesome. But wait. He would probably know by now, since she was living with Abed and him... Unless she was a super super secret agent. She probably wouldn’t want him to ask though, in case she broke cover But then, why talk about knowing Agent Vohlers in the first place? Now he was really confused.
“I’m really confused.”
Annie’s lips folded in a little on each other, then, maintaining eye contact, she said clearly, “Abed will be happy, when you give him this Valentine’s card.”
“I’m not giving him this card.”
“You’re-” Annie stopped, and reached forward, picking up the card before Troy could pull it out of reach, and flipping it open.
“Troy!” She looked at him, scandalised, and her eyebrows drew together, a sharp line appearing between them. “How could you?”
Troy was still confused, but Annie wasn’t one for tense silences, and so he waited for her to continue, which she did after only a slight pause.
“Giving the card to, to...” She glanced at it again. “Devan!” she exclaimed. Then she hesitated. “Who is Devan?”
“He’s in my,” dance class, “Intro to...” He hesitated, searching.
“Doesn’t matter.” Annie shook her head. “Troy,” she said again, inflection the same as before. “Abed will be devastated.” She stood up, dropping the card to the table. “I really think you need to speak to him first.”
And with that she gave her hair a flick, picked up her bag, and stalked out of the library.
Troy stared after her, then back at the card, then to Abed’s chair in case she’d left a note there explaining what she meant.
The Greendale LGBT society were having another dance. It wasn’t about Pierce’s wipes but they were playing the song anyway because everyone seemed to like it.
Abed had wanted a movie theme, but they’d decided that would be too similar to Halloween. Troy had wanted a rainbow theme, which had been popular, but Luca, (the president) ultimately decided against for being too gay. Troy had kind of thought that was the point, but Luca had started quoting from his sociology class and Troy had turned off much in the same way he did when Britta started quoting from her psychology class. In the end they, (meaning Luca), decided the theme would be ‘no-theme’. Which even Abed hadn’t really understood.
Though, judging by what people were wearing, rainbow had snuck in anyway. A girl had claimed his shirt in the name of... something, she hadn’t been clear, but she’d traded it for her rainbow scarf that had somehow ended up around his head.
He’d drunk enough to go beyond buzzed and into fuzzy. He’d seen Devan dancing on a table. He’d seen Luca dancing on the same table. There had been hands.
Then Abed had been there and he’d distracted him with an Inspector Space Time mission, which Troy appreciated. The mission had mostly involved shots. Now he was standing outside and there was someone puking into the trash. The last Greendale function, that person had been him, so he figured in all this counted as a win.
He heard someone come up behind him, but he didn’t turn, the air felt deliciously cool on his face. He’d go back in a minute. Save Abed from any more shots, or maybe join him. He hadn’t decided. He was in a floaty not-deciding sort of place. It was nice.
The person behind finally got close enough to pass by, but instead they stopped next to him, Troy turned to look. Shirley had her bag under her arm, so Troy figured she was on her way out, she never stayed very late.
“This was nice.” She smiled. Troy smiled back. “I wasn’t sure...” She dropped her gaze to her bag. “The Lord says homosexuality is a sin. “
Troy had heard that line more than enough times and he wasn’t one to get angry, not usually, but this wasn’t something he’d expected to have to deal with. Not now, not tonight, not here, not with ABBA blasting out behind them and a rainbow scarf tied around his head. He turned to go inside.
“But-” Shirley caught his arm. “But the Lord also says love thy neighbour.” She smiled again, and turned her hold on his shoulder into a pat. “I’m glad I came.”
Troy attempted a tentative smile back.
Shirley gave his shoulder a squeeze. “I’m happy for you and Abed. Everyone should have someone.” And then she patted his shoulder again and was walking away before Troy could stop her.
“But I don’t have someone,” he said, but Shirley didn’t hear and Troy exhaled quietly, before heading back inside.
Shots it was.
“I would have understood!” Pierce was shouting loudly over the music. Troy was distracted by the reflection of lights from the glitter ball, they splayed like fragments of diamond and coloured glass. They slid over the walls and illuminated the two men folded up into each other on the couch across the room.
“The Hawthorne magnetism is strong.”
“Hmmm,” Troy hummed absent agreement.
“But that’s why I had to kick you out.”
They were mostly in shadow. He couldn’t make out anything much; just their two shapes, and the way their limbs were all tangled up in each other. Their bodies so close as to make one lump in the darkness.
The song changed, and ‘Pocket Full of Hawthornes’ came on again. There was a ragged cheer, not nearly as loud as before. They must be winding down. Closing with a favourite.
“I suppose you use them.”
“What?” Troy turned his head very slightly, his eyes still on the many limbed shape on the couch. Maybe it wasn’t what he thought... maybe it was an alien. A Blorgon plot. The Inspector would know what to do. Where was Abed?
“You and Abed.”
“What?” Troy turned to look at Pierce, trying to work out if he’d said some of that out loud.
“What?” Troy said a third time, narrowing his eyes.
“Well, you know.” Pierce’s neck was turning red, flushed with more than just drink. He didn’t say anything else, just climbed to his feel, a slow endeavor that Troy belatedly thought to help with, standing and extending a hand. Pierce waved it off, almost collapsed and grabbed at Troy, half pulling him down as well.
“Too much to drink there, Troy, better watch it, if you can’t stand straight, it’s time to stop.”
Troy just nodded. “You going to be alright to get home?”
“Ah.” Pierce wagged a finger slowly in front of his face, side to side and Troy followed it with his eyes.
“Magnetisisism-ism.” He worked his jaw, having trouble releasing the word. “Be strong Troy.” He clapped him on the shoulders. “What would Abed say?”
Troy frowned, but he was distracted by the sight on the couch. The dark shape separating into two as they stood as well, hands still all over each other, never completely parting as they stumbled out of the dining hall.
Pierce lurched away, and Troy mumbled goodbye, his eyes glued on the shape of them as they reached the doors then disappeared through.
“Where is everyone?” Troy asked, dropping into his usual place.
Jeff didn’t look up from his phone. “Annie is researching an assignment. Britta is still sleeping off the effects of last night, Shirley is at home because one of her sons is sick, Pierce... is probably also sleeping off last night, and Abed...” He finally looked up. “You tell me.”
“He wanted to pick up some kit. We’re filming this afternoon,.” He raised his hand, imagining the title written in glowing words. ‘Kickpuncher 4: The Greatest Kick.’ He lowered his hand, looking back at Jeff.
Jeff nodded, smiled and then turned back to his phone. There was silence but for his clicking.
Troy, finally working up the nerve, said, “Um.”
Jeff continued texting.
“Um,” Troy said again.
Jeff glanced up, “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were just making noises.”
“No. I … I have a question.”
“If you, If you liked someone-”
“Liked someone?” Jeff interrupted.
“Yeah, liked someone.”
Jeff put down his phone, his eyes flick to Abed’s empty chair and back. “Liked someone, or liked someone, liked some-.” He winced. “I can’t believe I’m saying this. Maybe you should talk to Annie.”
“No, no, not Annie,” he said, thinking of the Valentine’s.
Troy hesitated. ‘Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do’ encompassed a surprisingly wide range of options.
“Okay, not Britta. Alright, go again.”
Troy nodded. “So, you like someone, and you’re pretty sure they don’t like you back. Like you. like you,” he clarified. “But you’re not completely completely sure, because everyone was pretty drunk last night and things aren’t always as they seem, and it could have been Blorgons.” (Except, wait, it couldn’t because that part wasn’t real and he’d forgotten and thought he was talking to Abed for a moment there).
“I’m pretty sure Abed likes you, Troy.”
“What?” For the second time in twenty four hours Troy wasn’t sure what he’d thought and what he’d said out loud.
“I’m pretty sure Abed likes you, likes you,” Jeff clarified.
“What!” Troy squeaked. “Since when?”
“Uh, since you guys started hanging out all the time and living together and... since you started going out?” He said, tilting his head and staring at Troy.
“Yeah,” Jeff said, like it was obvious.
“We’re not going out.” Troy frowned. “Abed’s not into guys.”
Jeff stared. “We figured maybe he was Troy-sexual.”
“Abed and Agent Vohlers have been together for the past three months.”
“No shit.” Jeff blinked. “Who’s Agent Vohlers?”
“She’s … I don’t think you met her.”
“But she is a real person?”
“And they’re going out?”
Troy nodded again, then he paused. “Well, they don’t go out out. She spies on him while he watches movies.”
“Yeah I don’t really understand it, but it works for them.”
“Okay. I just. We all assumed...” Jeff shifted in his chair.
“Actually a lot of conversations make sense now.”
Troy nodded again, thinking back.
There was an awkward silence.
Jeff started texting again.
Troy sighed. Maybe he should ask Abed for advice.
He thought about that for a moment.
Troy made a squeaking noise. Devan stared at him, then pointed at the seat next to him. “Do you mind if I...?”
“Oh, yes. I mean no, I mean of course.” He gestured for Devan to sit, which he did with a smile.
They watched the other group work on their dance for a few minutes. Devan relaxed back, Troy sat very stiffly in his chair.
“You have fun at the party last weekend?”
“Yeah,” Troy replied mechanically, nodding rapidly.
“I saw you doing shots.”
Troy blinked, waiting a second to actually hear the question this time. “Yeah, there were a lot of... You looked like you were having fun,” he winced at the awfulness of that segue.
“Huh?” Devan tilted his head
“Uh, I- you and Luca.”
“Oh, yeah,” Troy risked a glance over. Devan looked sheepish. “That wasn’t really. I mean-” He rubbed his hand over the back of his neck. Troy ached to touch his skin.
“It didn’t really work out.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.” Troy bit his lips, pulling his smile upside down.
“It was just a thing.” Devan shrugged. “Not like you and Abed.” He met Troy’s eyes.
“Me and Abed?”
“Yeah, you know, long term.”
Did everyone think... unless he meant long term friends. “Do you mean long term friends?”
Devan laughed. “If by friend you mean sex friend, then yeah.”
“I’m not Abed’s boyfriend.” Troy said, turning to face Devan more fully.
“You’re not?” Devan replied, mirroring Troy’s movement.
“Abed’s not into guys.”
“He’s not? But, why does he come to the meetings?”
“He’s asexual. “Troy stared at Devan.
Devan stared back. “Actually,” he said slowly. “That makes a lot of sense.” He rubbed a finger along the bridge of his nose.
Troy sighed. “Does everyone think we’re together?”
“Pretty much.” Devan nodded apologetically.
“Well, we’re not.”
Devan nodded again. “I get that now.”
There was a short pause.
“So...you and Luca aren’t together either?”
“No.” Devan looked at Troy.
Troy licked his lips.
Devan’s gaze flicked down then back up and a smile started to lift the edges of his mouth. “I think I see where this is headed.”
“You’d be the first.”
Devan smiled fully. “Troy. Do you want to get a coffee after class?”
Troy’s grin was so wide his cheeks hurt.