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Intro to the Art of Deception

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"Hi ho, everybody," a familiar voice announced and everyone looked towards the open door behind Jeff. To no one's great surprise Dean Pelton had just entered the study room.

The two twenty-something guys standing just behind him, however, were a surprise.

"I see you're all working hard," the Dean remarked, focusing on the closed books and folders in front of each of them. Jeff couldn't have cared less about the mild rebuke, but he knew without even looking that Annie would be shifting guiltily in her chair.

Troy not-so-subtly crumpled up the piece of paper he'd been trying to origami - unsuccessfully - into the shape of a pencil, hiding it under the desk.

"Anywho," the Dean continued, "we've had a couple of last minute transfers," he gestured to the men standing behind him, "and I thought who better to show them around Greendale than my favourite study group? Not that I ever really play favourites," he rushed to add, "we all know that Greendale is the most inclusive college in the entire east-third of the Tri-state area." Spreading his hands dramatically, he then stepped closer to Jeff - a frankly disturbing proposition given the propensity he had for fondling Jeff at every opportunity - and spoke directly to him. "These two fine, young men have assured me of their intention to achieve academic excellence. I'm sure you'll look positively yummy together in a three-way." Pausing, as if just realising the implications of what he'd said, he laughed nervously. "A three-way study group, of course," he said awkwardly. "Study hard!" he enthused finally and fled from the room.

All attention immediately focused on the newcomers.

"Um," said one of them.

"Hi," the other one said, lifting a hand in greeting.

A collections of hellos and greetings came from the group in general, curious eyes studying intently. Mentally rolling his own eyes, Jeff opened his mouth to offer some kind of explanation for the Dean - he sexually harrassed everyone on campus; it didn't make them special - when he realised Annie was already out of her chair and holding her hand out toward them.

Of course. When it came to academia, she was a one-woman welcome wagon.

"I'm Annie," she greeted, shaking one guy's hand before moving on to the taller one, "Annie Edison. I can't tell you how nice it is to meet someone who actually takes their education seriously. No offense, guys," she turned back to face the group with a knowing look, "as much as I love being part of the group, you have to admit that your priorities are...different?"

"Excuse me?" Shirley asked, clearly offended - by which he meant, it sounded like Annie was going to end up with her head being banged against the wall within the next five minutes.

"Not always without good reason!" Annie quickly rushed on to assure her. "I mean, you have two kids, Shirley, and a third one on the way - of course they'd be your priority." Somewhat mollified, Shirley settled back more comfortably into her chair.

Pierce spoke up. "I'll have you know that education is an extremely important part of my life, Annie. In fact, my church is constantly reminding us that knowledge is the key to achieving a higher spiritual level. We can't unlock our potential if we remain ignorant and uninformed." Eventually realising - after a considerable silence - that everyone was staring at him in disbelief, Pierce shifted in his chair. "What?"

"That explains why he's stuck as a Level 5," Jeff remarked, glaring at the rest of the group when they all gave him that look. "Oh, come on, you were all thinking it."

"Anyway!" Britta quickly got to her feet, gesturing around the group to introduce everyone, each of them responding with a nod or a brief wave. "And you are...?"

"Oh," said the shorter one, "yeah. I'm Michael. Michael Walsh. But you can call me Mikey. And this palooka here," he slapped the back of a hand against the other guy's chest, "is-"

"Someone who can introduce himself?" the other guy interrupted, giving Mikey his own look. They obviously knew each other as well as the group knew each other, i.e., they could piss each other off without even trying. "I'm Lawrence Cohen. Nice to meet you all."

"Hmm," Abed suddenly said, squinting and tipping his head to the left. "Improbable. In fact, highly improbable."

Britta turned towards him. "What is, Abed?"

"That they'd both share the same names as two of the main characters from the 1985 classic The Goonies," he informed them, pointing towards Mikey and Larry.

Jeff frowned at him. "What are you talking about?"

"He's Mikey," Abed pointed towards Mikey, before gesturning towards Larry, "and he's Chunk."

Mikey and Larry just stared at him - and definitely looking suspicious, it had to be said - until Mikey finally spoke. "Wow, dude, so you...actually know the movie that well?"

To answer, Abed looked toward Troy. "Troy, at last count, how many times have we watched the 1985 classic The Goonies?"

"Why, Abed," Troy replied, "at last count I believe we were up to 27 viewings." Nodding at each other in acknowledgement of their mutual awesomeness, they shared their hand-chest-slap before focusing happily back on Mikey and Larry, their point clearly made.

"It's a funny story, actually," Mikey said quickly, forcing a chuckle as he realised they were all staring at them suspiciously. "Larry'll tell you all about it."

Larry glared at him and continued to glare at him as he started speaking. "Our moms were fans of the movie."

"Right!" Mikey quickly joined in. "Big fans. Huge." He spread his hands briefly. "So, they named us after the characters."

"And you're still friends?" Britta asked. "After all this time?"

"Sure, why not?" Mikey replied. "We grew up together. BFFs all this time. Went to the same high school."

Britta still looked doubtful. "And then you..."

For once, Jeff understood how she felt. "...both moved to a new college. Together? Just the two of you?"

"Yeah, that's not gay," Pierce remarked. "Just no butt stuff in front of us, okay?"

"Pierce!" the group cried in unison.

"What? I'm being accepting!"

Britta shook her head in despair and stepped towards Mikey and Larry intently. "I just want you two to know, if you need moral support at the next Pride I'll be there for you."

Everyone rolled their eyes.

Larry regarded her cautiously. "Uh," he patted her shoulder with the same hesitancy Jeff would approach a birther with, "we're good. Thanks."

*

Jeff was still suspicious. Something was definitely wrong with their story. Even if the rest of the group had seemingly accepted them shortly after that ridiculous explanation about their moms being fans of The Goonies, Jeff knew better.

He was a lawyer. He knew a bullshitter when he saw one.

Or in this case, two.

So he eavesdropped.

*

Annie and Larry were sitting on opposite sides of a table in the library. Jeff, meanwhile, was hiding on the other side of a bookcase, enough books removed from the shelf at eye-level to provide a glimpse of the table in question.

Annie was prattling on about education and knowledge and the kind of stuff that Jeff usually tuned out. "-I mean, I just think learning more about the world really gives us an education about ourselves, you know?" she asked Larry, who actually didn't seem bored out of his mind. "Education is the key to a better, longer, higher-achieving life."

"I agree," Larry nodded almost...sadly? "You have so many opportunities if you get a good education."

"Right! And I really messed things up the first time," she admitted wryly, "and that's why I'm determined to do as well as I possibly can in all of my classes."

"How long have you been at Greendale?"

"Nearly two years, now," Annie replied, "I can't believe how fast it's gone."

"It's scary how quickly time passes," Larry agreed. "Do you like it? I have to admit," he continued conspiratorially, leaning forward and glancing around, "my last college? Was kind of...odd. This weird stuff would happen all the time."

"That sounds just like Greendale," Annie hissed, eyes widening. "I mean, I love it, don't get me wrong, but it's not your...typical college."

"Really?" Larry urged, definitely curious. "What do you mean?"

"Well," she continued quietly, eyes darting around everywhere, "every year on the anniversary of Marlene Dietrich's death, the Dean lets everyone start classes at 9:30. Can you believe it?"

*

From the noises he could hear, Mikey was obviously in Abed's dorm room with Abed and Troy, playing a video game that sounded particularly violent. Jeff lurked outside the constantly open door.

"Oh man, you suck at this!" Troy laughed. "You'd think you'd never played a video game before."

"Not really my thing," Mikey admitted. "I do a hell of a lot better with real guns. Um," he paused, as if he hadn't meant to let that slip.

Jeff's eyebrows rose - then quickly lowered as he remembered he was trying to use his forehead muscles as infrequently as possible.

All sound coming from the video game suddenly vanished. "Guns?" Abed asked.

Troy continued breathlessly. "Real guns?"

"Well...sure," Mikey blurted out, "grew up on a farm, you know? Kind of essential. You never know when those...coyotes...are gonna try and kill your...chickens."

"Cool," Abed said eventually, "cool cool cool."

The game started back up. "So, what about you guys?" Mikey asked. "Ever had to...defend yourselves from...anything at all?"

The noises from the game continued until Abed finally said, "Last year, Troy had to defend himself from Katie Parkinson. Although it wasn't defending himself so much as it was running away and hiding in storage closets."

"She wouldn't stop touching my butt!" Troy defended. "And she wanted me to take her to the dance!"

"Doesn't sound so bad," Mikey pointed out.

"She was eighty-four!"

*

Shirley and Mikey were sitting at opposite ends of the sofa, Shirley reading from a notepad she'd propped up on her pregnancy bump. Behind them, Jeff was pretending to choose between options from the vending machine.

"Shirley," Mikey said suddenly, "can I ask you something?"

"Well, Michael, it depends on what it is," Shirley replied sweetly. "If it's information about Greendale, or something that may help you with your courses, well then of course I'd be delighted to help you. If, on the other hand," she continued, her mood and voice darkening rapidly, "you become the tenth person, today alone, who wants to put their hands on my body, because apparently being pregnant gives anyone who crosses my path a free-for-all pass to my stomach, then I'll have to yank your arms off until they're bloody stumps." Pausing, her mood and tone lightened again. "Okay?"

"Wow," was all Mikey could apparently say as he stared at her.

Shirley seemed to realise what she'd just said and let out a deep breath, closing her eyes for a moment. "I'm sorry," she told him, opening her eyes again. "I try to be a good person, but sometimes it's so difficult."

"It's okay, I understand," Mikey assured her, "I wouldn't want strangers asking to grope me all the time, either. No matter how attractive they might be," he winked at Shirley, who actually tittered. "That was kind of like a scene from The Exorcist, though," he joked.

"I would never watch that devil movie," Shirley insisted, crossing herself.

Mikey nodded thoughtfully, then apparently saw an opening. "Speaking of The Exorcist...you think any of that stuff's real?"

"Hey," a voice to Jeff's right said, and he turned to see Starburns looking at him. "Are you taking that last bag of Reece's Pieces or not? Because if not, I'm claiming them before Leonard does."

"Damn you," Leonard hissed in line behind him.

*

Jeff watched from behind a tree as Larry sat down next to Pierce on the bench.

"Hey, Pierce," Larry greeted.

Pierce, who'd been in the process of opening up his bag, froze and stared at him. "Larry." He continued opening his bag, but at a much slower rate, constantly shooting quick looks towards Larry.

"I was hoping we could hang out a bit and get to know each other better."

Clutching his bag to him like a life preserver, Pierce cleared his throat. "That's...fine. As long as we're clear there's to be no suddenly breaking out into show tunes or anything. Flattered as I am by your attraction to me-"

"Uh-"

"-I'm not on your team."

"I know that, Pierce," Larry said, sounding resigned.

"I'm not even on your continent," Pierce insisted.

"I know that, Pierce."

"Hell, I'm not even on your planet!" He paused, still clutching at his bag. "That's the answer!" he suddenly exclaimed.

Larry frowned at him. "What is?"

"Gay people should have their own planet! Excuse me," he said quickly, getting to his feet, "I have to write to the President. Sure, he's black, but he's got a wife and kids!"

Larry made a face as Pierce rushed off. "Yeah," he said to himself glumly, "so that was useful."

*

Britta and Mikey were laughing it up in the cafeteria. Jeff was carefully inspecting the state of the spoons in the silverware tray.

"No, really," Britta chuckled, "you wouldn't believe the crap that happens in this place. I mean, take last Halloween for example. No one here has any memory of it whatsoever."

Mikey's smile faded. "No one?"

"I know, freaky, right? We have no clue what happened; no one can remember a thing. That kind of stuff just doesn't happen anywhere else."

"No," Mikey said quietly, thoughtfully. "No, it doesn't."

"Well," Britta continued brightly, "hopefully next Halloween you and Larry will be here to help us remember everything. You two are so cute together," she said warmly.

"Er," Mikey made a face, "uh...thanks, and all, but we're really not like that. Really."

"Oh, no," she quickly replied, "no, of course not. But you should know," she leaned across the table they were both eating at, holding his gaze, "you're in a place of safety here. No one will judge you. There's no need to hide who you are."

Making another face, Mikey grabbed his tray and started sliding out of the booth. "Uh, yeah. I gotta go, Britta. Thanks, um. Yeah."

Jeff waited until after Mikey had dumped his tray and scurried out of the room before sliding into the booth across from Britta. He stared after Mikey thoughtfully. Britta snorted, an unpleasant sound that was impossible to miss. "What?"

"You should see your face."

On that, Jeff agreed with her. Everyone should see his face. "Apart from being devastatingly attractive, what about it?"

She didn't look impressed. "You're jealous. And blatantly scared."

Oh, please. "Scared? Me? What on earth would I have to be scared of?"

"They're spending so much time with us, you're not the only one in your demographic anymore," she smirked at him. "You've got competition."

"What are you talking about?"

"The white guy demographic?" Britta asked rhetorically. "The hot - well, relatively in your case - and young - also relatively in your case - white guy demographic. Our society failing as abysmally as it does? You're naturally in a position of power within the group. With these two around? You're under threat."

Jeff knew all about positions of power and entitlement - but it's not like it applied to him. "That is so ridiculous I don't even know what to say to it."

"Bodes well for a lawyer."

Attacks on his profession always stung personally. "Yeah, well, it's not like you're any better."

"What do you mean?"

"You were suspicious of them, too - don't deny it," he quickly added. "And the only reason you're falling all over them now is because you think they're gay and you're so determined to be accepting and understanding," he made speech marks with his fingers as he spoke, "that you'll believe anything that flies out of their mouths."

"That is so untrue for so many reasons," she argued, "starting with but not limited to - I think they're gay? They're obviously gay!"

Sure they were. "Have they actually said that themselves?"

She paused, considering with a frown. "Well...no, but..." Britta paused again. "Okay, well what makes you so convinced they're not gay?"

"That's obvious," he told her knowingly. "They haven't checked out my abs once. Or my triceps." He flexed his right arm, studying the muscles with pride. "There is no gay guy on the entire planet who's immune to my body."

The Dean strode quickly past their table, obviously on his way to somewhere. "That is true!" he called out. "There's even a Facebook page dedicated to it!"

Jeff leaned to one side, watching as the Dean headed out of the cafeteria. "Yeah, I wonder who started that?"

The Dean lifted his right hand in acknowledgement as he left the room. "You're welcome, Jeffrey!"

Five seconds later, Jeff looked up from where he was opening Facebook on his phone, shrugging at the disapproving look Britta was shooting him. "What? My body deserves its..." he saw the number, eyes widening, "whoa, eight hundred and fifty third like!"

*

Sitting inside his car in the college parking lot, hands grasped firmly on the wheel, Jeff stared suspiciously at Mikey and Larry as they talked enthusiastically to each other from opposite sides of a black car. It looked ancient.

"Wow, that looks intense, right?"

The voice, suddenly sounding right next to his ear, made Jeff jerk his hands off the wheel - and possibly scream. A little. "Chang!"

"Jeff," he nodded, too happily.

"How did you even get into my car without me noticing?"

"Oh, I Chang'd my way in here," he explained, which was no explanation at all.

"Stop doing that!" Most of the time those comments at least kind of fit into a sentence. That one didn't make any sense at all.

"Hey, do you want my help or not?" Chang asked, offended.

Jeff couldn't imagine what Chang could possibly help him with. "Help with what?"

"Finding out who those guys are," he replied, nodding towards their car. "I know you've been following them. Well, you're not the only one."

"What does that mean?"

"The Changs are expert trackers, Jeff," Chang told him, "I noticed as soon as you started following them around. You should've come to me with this right away, my amigo. I've had years of experience stalk...following people. Just ask Shirley for my credentials."

She'd likely take his head off. "Yeah, I'd rather not take my life in my hands."

Chang ignored the comment. "But you barely speak to me at home anymore..."

Jeff held up a hand, thoroughly disturbed by that statement. "It's not your...home, okay? You're just...staying with me. For a short time. A very, very short time." If he said it often enough, maybe it'd finally come true. "Look, in what way do you think you can help?"

"We're expert trackers because the Changs are persistant, Jeff. We never give up. Long after you get bored and go home to watch Jersey Shore-"

"You said you'd never mention that again."

"-I keep following them." He looked towards their car again. "Sam and Dean - that's their names. The tall one's Sam. Heard them talking to each other a few times when they thought they were alone," he explained. "As for what they're doing here..." He focused back on Jeff, speaking dramatically. "They're hunters."

That sounded...actually kind of disturbing. "What does that mean?" Jeff asked, studying Mikey and Larry - or Dean and Sam - again.

The tension immediately broke, Chang breaking out into a single laugh. "I have no idea. I guess they hunt animals for money or something. I bet the big one could take down a bear just by wrestling it," he murmured contemplatively.

"Why would that bring them to Greendale?" When he'd received no answer after a few seconds, Jeff glanced to his right and did a double-take. Chang wasn't there.

He blinked.

Looking around inside the car, he confirmed that Chang wasn't hiding in the back seat and - ridiculous as it was - under the passenger seat, either. Grasping both hands back on the wheel, Jeff shook his head. "How does he do that?"

*

Deciding the best - and most efficient - way of dealing with the situation was to tackle it head-on, Jeff invited Mikey and Larry - or whoever the hell they were - to the next study group meeting. In a break with tradition, Jeff was there first - early, in fact. He didn't want to risk missing out on a single moment of anything that happened that day. The rest of the study group trickled in one by one, sat in their usual chairs and began to converse with each other, until finally Mikey and Larry strolled in.

"Hey, guys," Mikey greeted. "Sorry we're late. Had to," he glanced up for some reason, "make a call. And hey, Jeff - thanks for inviting us, man." Mikey slapped a hand down on Jeff's shoulder. "Was good of you, especially as we haven't really had a chance to get to know each other yet." He looked at Larry significantly, as if making a point.

"Hey, it's no problem at all," Jeff drawled in response, all fake-charm, "but hey, while you're here, I'd like to tell the rest of the group somethin-"

And just like that, a man appeared.

Literally.

Out of nowhere.

A pen was dropped on the table. Someone gasped. Someone even let out a small shriek.

As one, Abed and Troy stared up at the ceiling, then bent down to peer under the desk, finally sitting up to look at each other.

"Why wasn't I filming that?" Troy whined.

"I'll regret that moment for the rest of my life," Abed agreed.

"How..?" Pierce began, sounding genuinely confused. "How did..?" He patted at his pockets absently. "Am I back on the pills again?"

"No," Shirley shook her head, sounding awed as she stared at the guy who stood there serenely, "no, there's only one explanation for this. The Lord! He's come! In..." she paused, momentarily, taking in his appearance, "...a trench coat."

Oh, this was too ridiculous. Okay, so Jeff had no idea how the guy had apparently appeared out of nowhere, and he'd even admit it was a pretty cool trick, but there was no way there was anything religious about it. "Maybe God's a fan of Columbo."

"Nice," Abed said quietly, pleased at the reference.

Shirley, however, wasn't quite so impressed with Jeff's comment. "Maybe you better close your mouth before I do it for you for being disrespectful towards God."

"I'm not God," the guy in the trench coat said, frowning in confusion, "however, I am an-"

"Cas," Mikey hissed, interrupting, "ixnay on the appearing-out-of-nowhere-ay! You know how it freaks people out! You're meant to be saving it for your next performance!" Laughing loudly, he stepped towards 'Cas' and grabbed his arm, escorting him out of the room. "Magicians, I don't know what to do with them. Let's talk, Cas."

With both of them out of the room, everyone turned to stare at Larry who looked like he was desperately trying to think up a cover story. "Uh, yeah. Cas is a friend of ours. A good friend. Who does this kind of...performance art stuff all the time."

"A friend?" Pierce asked dubiously. "Or a penis friend?"

"Pierce!" Britta yelled, "for God's sake! The only person who cares about their penises is you!"

"Penises?" Troy asked thoughtfully, latching onto a subject he'd obviously contemplated before. "Or penii?"

"Penises or penes are both acceptable," Annie provided helpfully, then shrugged when everyone stared at her. "What? Penii is incorrect."

"Cool," Troy nodded, "I always wanted to know what to call them if I had two of them."

Before anyone could say anything else, Mikey and Cas walked back in together, Mikey's hand on Cas's back.

"I apologise if my appearance...disturbed anyone," Cas said robotically, as if reciting lines from a script. Badly. "I just wanted to...play a trick on my friends. I picked a bad time to do so. I'm sorry."

Shirley seemed extremely disappointed, but everyone else seemed to buy it, mumbling their acceptance of his apology.

Jeff had had more than enough. "Do you people have even less brain cells than usual?" he asked, standing up and slapping his hands down on the table.

Shirley brought a hand up to her chest. "What are you talking about, Jeffrey?"

Stepping away from the table and towards Mikey, Larry and Cas, Jeff gestured towards them. "We get two new transfers at a time of year when no one transfers in. It doesn't happen! You guys know that. No doubt, the only reason they got in at all is that they're almost as attractive as I am and the Dean wanted to get into their pants."

Mikey scrunched up his face. "Dude, what?"

Stepping back towards the group, Jeff started walking around the table. "They both suspiciously share the names of two fictional characters from the same movie. They interrogate you all, one by one, asking if you've ever noticed anything strange or weird happening on campus."

"They did that," Annie gasped, the others commenting their agreement.

Good. The tide was turning, and it was plain that Mikey and Larry were realising that, as they were looking more and more guilty. "A man literally appears out of nowhere and the best they can come up with is 'performance art'. Then there's the fact that their names are actually Dean and Sam," he swivelled around, pointing to them accusingly, and that definitely got a reaction from them. There was no doubting the truth of that statement and everyone in the room could see it. "And that they're hunters." Jeff still had no idea what that could mean, beyond the obvious, but it certainly struck home with Dean and Sam, who looked even more shocked at that than the reveal of their real names.

Eventually, Dean's mouth settled into a determined line. "Okay, fine," he said, apparently not seeing the need to hide whatever was going on anymore. "Cas? Lock us down in here. Give us some privacy."

Jeff was just thinking that didn't really sound good, when the doors slammed shut of their own accord, the sound of metal-on-metal clinking through the room as they locked by themselves. Barely a second after that, all of the blinds lowered and changed position, until every inch of the windows was covered and no one could see in, or out, of the study room.

There was a wide-eyed silence.

Troy swallowed hard, then whispered, "I think I just went pee-pee."

"Count yourself lucky that's all it was," Pierce told him morosely.

"Okay," Sam spoke firmly but kindly, addressing everyone, gesturing with his hands, "I think the first thing we need to do is make it clear we're not here to hurt anyone. If anything, we're here to help you."

"By locking a God-fearing pregnant woman in a room using your mind?" Shirley demanded.

"That's...not exactly what happened," Sam told her. "Look, I'm Sam, and this is my brother, Dean." There was a collective gasp.

"Brothers?" Britta asked, horrified.

"Dude," Troy despaired, bringing a hand up to his mouth in mutual horror, "incest is not best."

"We're not incest-y brothers," Dean rushed on to tell them, "we're just normal, non-bad-touching brothers, okay?"

"Oh," Britta said, before her shoulders slumped in disappointment. "Oh."

"And Jeff is right," Sam continued quietly, as if speaking to spooked animals, "we are hunters. You know things like vampires and werewolves?" The group dumbly nodded their acknowledgement. "They're all real."

Abed and Troy gaped at them almost gleefully, speaking in turn.

"No-"

"-way."

"It's all true," Dean confirmed, moving to stand next to Sam, "and it's our job to hunt them down and kill them."

Jeff didn't know what the hell to think about any of this, but even he couldn't ignore the doors locking and blinds closing entirely by themselves. "That's why you've come to Greendale? Because there's one of those...things...here?" Everyone started staring around the room, as if there might be a previously unnoticed vampire lurking in a corner.

Sam and Dean shared a look, before Sam spoke. "Well, that's what we're trying to figure out. There are so many strange reports coming out of this place that we figured there had to be some kind of supernatural element at work here, but..."

Dean shrugged. "So far, nada."

That wasn't a surprise. "Greendale is definitely a weird place," Jeff confirmed, "but there's nothing supernatural about it. The Dean's just..."

"...eccentric," Britta finished for him, which was a much nicer word than the one Jeff would've chosen.

"He has some...extremely inventive ideas," Annie confirmed.

"Wait, so," Abed said suddenly, raising a finger as he contemplated Sam and Dean. "Are you human?"

"Yeah, of course," Dean retorted.

Abed nodded, then pointed towards Cas. "And who's he?"

Sam and Dean shared another look, before Dean gestured towards Cas with a sigh. "Go for it, Cas."

Cas did, addressing everyone at the table. "My name is Castiel. I'm an angel of the Lord."

"I knew it!" Shirley crowed immediately. "I mean," she quickly continued, trying to contain herself, "it's a pleasure to meet you. Please tell God that I pray to him every day, without fail. Even on those days when my husband left me for that stripper slut."

Cas nodded at her once, slowly. "God hears your prayers every day, Shirley Bennett." Shirley gaped at him.

"You got your own angel?" Troy squeaked.

"I know," Dean said smugly and not a little proudly, "it's cool, right?"

Abed, apparently, was focusing on something else, frowning contemplatively. "But if you've found no actual evidence of monsters here - personally, I was hoping that elves were real and the debate as to whether they technically qualify as monsters can wait for another time - why is the angel here? I assume he's your back-up, being the one with the powers," he gestured towards the locked doors, "but apparently those powers aren't actually needed to fight anything right now."

"Well, for one," Dean explained, "Cas isn't just a being with kick-ass powers. He's our friend. Right, Cas?"

"Yes," Cas confirmed, "I share a profound bond with the Winchesters." He paused. "Especially Dean."

"Now that's gay," Pierce volunteered. "On the other hand, at least they aren't brothers."

Shirley sent him a warning look. "Pierce Hawthorne, you will bite your tongue."

"Why would I do that?" he asked genuinely. "It hurts!"

Dean sighed. "Just because two guys - or one guy and an angel - are, you know, good buds and stuff-"

"Nice use of language there, Dean," Sam pointed out.

"Shut up, asswipe," Dean retorted, before continuing to Pierce, "just because two guys kind of like each other's company, that doesn't make them gay."

"Oh, sure," Pierce said unconvincingly, "absolutely." After a moment of silence, he said off to one side, "Gay."

"I'll tell you something I don't understand," Britta declared, in that tone of voice that made everyone squint at her suspiciously, "if God really is real, why does he let so much hate, death and destruction happen?" The group groaned at her. Someone threw a scrunched up piece of paper at her head. "Hey!"

"Britta," Shirley replied, surprisingly calm, "God is not responsible for our choices. He was kind enough to give us free will, and the only times we end up hurting each other is when we stop following his example."

"Oh," she snorted, "you mean like when he ethnic cleansed the planet for forty days and forty nights?"

"No," Shirley continued, still sweetly, although now it seemed she was clenching her teeth together tightly, "he sent us his son to show us how we should treat others."

Britta opened her mouth, a decidedly unpleasant expression on her face, and Jeff knew he needed to intervene before things got even more out of hand. "There's something I'd like to know," he said loudly, looking at Sam, Dean and Cas. "Assuming - crazy as it is, and it is crazy - that all of this is real: monsters, you hunting them, him actually being an angel," he gestured towards Cas.

"Yeah?" Dean asked.

"Why be so obvious about it?" Jeff asked. "Given the fact that the world at large seemingly knows nothing about it, it's obviously kept a secret on purpose - which I get, by the way. People are basically idiots. If this got out there'd be mass panic and hysteria." Dean nodded his agreement, so Jeff continued. "And yet Castiel, here, literally appeared out of nowhere right in front of us. It's not exactly subtle."

"That was an...error of judgement on my part," Cas admitted. "Dean had been trying to contact me, but due to some...personal issues I was unable to appear straight away. Once those issues were dealt with, I came straight to Dean - who I thought would've still been alone. I should've checked first."

"Don't worry about it man," Dean patted his shoulder, "shit happens."

Jeff was still frowning. "In that case, why then tell us everything? I know I was smart enough to work out you were up to something, but you could've just...walked away or something, and we could've put it down to a couple of weirdos who were here for a few days."

"Couple of reasons," Dean shrugged. "One, it's an efficient way of finding out, once and for all, if any of you guys have ever experienced anything supernatural."

"And two?"

Dean looked towards the others, hesitating for a moment. "Cas here has this handy little talent of being able to erase people's memories."

The group gasped and murmured.

"Oh, no no no," Shirley shook her head, "you can't be erasing my memories! What if it does something to my baby?" She placed her hands over her stomach protectively.

"No one's going to go blabbing," Jeff assured him, because even though, objectively, he could see the plan made sense, he sure as hell didn't want anyone messing with his head. Literally, in this case. "Well, Pierce might," he admitted, "but it's not like anyone outside of the group would believe him."

"Hey!" Pierce objected, before continuing with a resigned, "actually, that's probably true."

Dean, Sam and Cas all looked at each other contemplatively.

"I don't know," Dean murmured, "it's a lot of people. It's not like it's just one or two."

"I say we give them a chance, Dean," Sam volunteered, causing most of the group to smile at him brightly.

From the expression on his face, Dean still wasn't sure.

"Dean," Cas said, all gravelly-voiced, "I believe these people can be trusted."

"Cas-"

"I once had to put my faith in you, beyond my brothers, my kin, my own kind. I changed everything I believed in for you." He stepped closer, holding Dean's gaze. "Now you need to make a leap of faith."

"Wow," Troy remarked, "that is gay."

"Told you," Pierce said smugly.

A loud banging noise coming from the door on the other side of the room made everyone jump and turn towards it. Chang's voice could be heard coming from the other side.

"Shirley!" he yelled. "Shirley, are you in there?"

"I'm here, Chang!" she called back.

"Hold tight! I'm gonna get you and our baby out of there!"

"That's really not-"

He started banging on the door again, intermittently yanking on the handles to try and get it open.

"Okay," Dean faced the others, "so he's going to get us too much attention; that's our cue and our decision made for us." Reaching inside his jacket, he pulled out what looked like a business card and placed in on the edge of the table between Jeff and Britta. Jeff got his hands on it first, despite Britta's best efforts - and there was no name; just a cell number. "Stay safe," Dean told them, "and if you ever see anything, call us. Especially if you meet anyone with black eyes. Cas," he turned back towards the other two, "you mind doing the honours?"

Stepping up to both of them, Cas raised both his hands, gently pressing the index finger from each hand against Sam and Dean's foreheads-

And they were just...

Gone.

At the exact same moment, the blinds moved on their own again, opening and shooting back up into their original positions. The doors unlocked and swung open just as Chang came charging into the room, screaming as he ran; a chair clutched in his hands. Obviously expecting the doors to still be there, he stumbled, surprised, and pitched over onto the floor, Chang and the chair sprawling across the room. Curious faces peered around the edge of the door, wanting to see exactly what was going on.

The study group glanced at each other guiltily as Chang got to his feet. "What..." he panted, "what happened?" He examined his left elbow, touching it gingerly. "Owww, carpet burn."

As one, everyone grabbed their belongings and stood up.

"Wow, is that the time?" Jeff asked, not looking at his watch. "I need to get going."

"Me too," Shirley remarked, "I think I left the stove on this morning."

"I have...some vegetarian menus to research," Britta said awkwardly.

"I have so much homework to do I really shouldn't have come to study group at all today," Annie explained, hooking her bag over her shoulder.

Troy and Abed looked at each other. Troy spoke. "You need to...?" he floundered hopelessly.

"Film the next part of my Flight of the Navigator remake? Yes," Abed confirmed. "Yes, I do."

Pierce stood there. He cleared his throat. "I need to pee."

As they all hurried out of the room, splitting off into different directions, Jeff could hear Chang calling out after them.

"Guys? Guys? Come on, what happened!?"

*

Jeff had a crappy night's sleep, in that he barely slept at all. He'd long since come to terms with the concept that Greendale was weird, but this was whole new levels of strangeness. It was hard to deal with, even for him.

He tried to cover it up by slouching into his chair at study group with sunglasses on - he was the last to arrive - but when he saw that almost everyone else had dark circles under their eyes, too, he tore the sunglasses from his face and tossed them onto the table. "I see we're all coping well, then."

"What did you do?!" The Dean's voice demanded, and Jeff jerked in his chair to see Dean Pelton standing over him.

"What are you talking about?"

"Michael and Lawrence! The two lovely men I entrusted to your care have left already." The Dean clutched his hands together. "They gave me some story about a family emergency, but I didn't buy it. What did you do?"

What the hell could he say? "I didn't do anything," Jeff insisted.

The Dean shook his head, studying Jeff sadly. "I keep giving you chance after chance, Jeffrey - you can't keep throwing them away like this!" Raising the back of his right hand to his mouth dramatically, he turned and ran out of the room.

There was a moment of silence.

Jeff shrugged. "Anyway..."

"I didn't get a wink of sleep last night," Shirley announced suddenly, glancing around at everyone. "I kept praying to God, asking for strength. How am I supposed to keep this from Andre? My children? They should know they have to protect themselves!"

Troy was rocking back and forth in his chair, staring at the desk. "Every noise I heard, all night, I was convinced it was a vampire or a werewolf coming to rip my throat out. Pierce almost gave me a heart attack when he flushed the toilet."

"Wait until you're my age," Pierce remarked, "you don't know horror until you've had a weak bladder."

"I didn't wanna die!" Troy exclaimed, stopping his movements. "But at the same time, I thought it might be worth dying if I actually got to meet a vampire or a werewolf. Is that weird?"

"Yes," Jeff replied, because he sure as hell wasn't about to admit to feeling the same way.

"I slept fine," Abed announced calmly, making everyone glare at him, "although I wish Castiel had stayed longer. I had some question about Allah."

"You're not the only one who's got some questions," Annie nodded enthusiastically.

"I still don't believe in God," Britta remarked to no one's great surprise, "but do I think this world is evil and screwed up enough that monsters that kill you viciously in the night actually exist? Hell, yes."

Conversation continued this way for quite some time, until Jeff was left scrunched forward in his chair, the thumb and index finger of his right hand squeezing at the bridge of his nose - and his forehead creasing up way more than he liked it to.

Something had to be done.

He stood up, drawing everyone's attention. "Don't you guys get it?"

They stared at him. "Get what?" Pierce asked.

"It was all a scam," Jeff explained. "None of it was real."

"But," Shirley began, "but we saw..."

"Yeah, people appearing out of nowhere and vanishing into thin air? Big deal!" He gestured around the room. "Anyone can do that with mirrors - hell, that comment about 'Cas' being a magician was probably true." Inspired, he quickly continued. "When I invited them to study group, after barely knowing them at all, they must have known I was on to them and came to the room before any of us got here to set everything up. The doors, the blinds, the vanishing - all 'tricks' they set up in advance."

"Why would someone even do that?" Britta asked.

"You should know that better than anyone else," Jeff told her, "people are evil. People are sick and twisted and only in it for themselves. Some people will do this kind of crap just because they can. Because they can get away with it. Because it gives them a twisted thrill to screw with people's heads like that. I mean, just think about their 'explanation' for coming here - they 'heard some strange stories'? That's the lamest justification I've ever heard! If these hunter people really existed and were used to fighting for their lives all the time, I'm sure they'd have to chase down a new monster based on more than some 'strange stories'."

"That does kind of make sense..." Troy agreed slowly.

Perfect. "And if these creatures really were real, I'm sure at least one of us would've heard something about them at some point in our lives. And, hell - this is Greendale! We all know how weird it is here. If these monsters actually existed, this place would be party central for them. And most of all," he continued, going in for the kill, leaning his hands on the desk, "who on Earth would deliberately choose to name themselves after Chunk from The Goonies?"

Silence.

Then...

"He's right!"

"The man's got a point."

"I don't like the implication behind that question, but I can see what he's saying."

"Chunk was my favourite character, but he was the subject of much of the ridicule in the movie. I can see why that wouldn't appeal to the audience at large."

Pleased with himself, Jeff pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and flipped it open, digging out the business card. "As soon as we're done here," he held the card up, "I'm going to burn this so we can put it all behind us, and never get tempted to call. It probably goes to some pre-recorded 'gotcha' message, anyway. Maybe even a phone sex line." Placing the card on the table, Jeff put his wallet away and sat back down. "Think of it like Annie's purple pens. It's so ridiculous, there's no way it can possibly be true. Now," he continued, sitting forward, "who's going to help me try and grasp some Anthropology?"

Smiling at him, they all opened their folders.

An hour later, as the rest of them made their way out of the room, Jeff stayed in his chair. When he was sure he was alone, he pulled out his wallet, opened it up and picked the card up from the table.

Studying it for a few moments, Jeff slid the card inside and snapped the wallet shut.

~FINIS