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Contemporary Revolting and Friendly Expressionism

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Secretly, Abed always wanted to do this; a campus-wide game of Star Wars wherein he played the galaxy’s greatest smuggler. He liked the switch from an American frontier theme to a Star Wars theme the second it happened and, in that same moment, decided that he was just likeable enough to pull off the role of Han Solo but still unique enough as a character to be able to add his own personal spin to the character.

What that would be, however, is something Abed isn’t concerned about yet. Currently, he’s concerned about landing the role. He’s standing before the last remaining players of Greendale beside Troy, posture already slacked and lazier than usual. Troy is trying to rally them, debriefing them about what he learned and trying to motivate them to form an alliance, a rebellion. He keeps up a strong front until the group begins to argue. Troy turns to Abed, “Abed, tell them.”

Abed’s hands are tightly folded over his chest, “Whatever, pal. I ain’t in it for your revolution. I’m in it for me.”

Troy’s dejected look makes Abed pause and reconsider his role, but only for a moment. Then, Troy tells the group to wait and brings Abed closer. He whispers, “You’re Han?”

“Yeah, you know how long I’ve been waiting for this.”

Troy nods, “You can be Han… if I can be Lando.” Abed can feel the excitement rising from the pit of his stomach; his eyes must be as wide as when he learned Shirley “didn’t get the point of Die Hard” (in Abed’s opinion, that woman cannot call herself a Christian if she can’t learn to appreciate the greatest Christmas movie of all time) because Troy suddenly looks worried.

“I’m not mad,” Abed whispers, “I’m just really happy… Lando.” He lifts a hand to his chest and extends one hand forwards.

Troy smirks and completes the handshake. He turns back around, playing the part of the betrayed leader. Then, the b-plot of Troy and Jeff battling to become the leader of the rebellion comes into play and Abed saves it for later; he might join it if his a-plot of being Han Solo gets a bit too slow for the mainstream viewer.

Abed manages to assert his role as Han Solo by threatening Star-Burns into giving him his vest. The vest hangs loosely off of his shoulders but he decides his confidence will overshadow that fact.

Suddenly, while the group is groaning, a small drone drives into the room, equipped with a clear vial of paint. The group quickly run for cover, Troy and Abed crowded behind an overturned table. They’re close, knees and shoulders pressing against each other, and Troy leans right beside Abed’s ear, “Sorry. There’s so little space, y’know?” Abed ignores his heartbeat, it’s hard since its ringing in his ears, and he shrugs. Troy doesn’t move away after he does this, rather, he presses his head against the bottom of the desk and listens.

There is a dead Magnitude (or, rather, a Magnitude now covered in pink paint) in the aftermath, one that Troy grieves over. Abed shakes his head, “He was a good kid. Died too young.”

Magnitude gives Abed a confused look, “When’d you get so cool, man?”

Before Troy can grieve for too long, Jeff hurries to the middle of the room, all too eager to claim that he has no choice but to be the leader of the rebellion. Troy is about to respond, when Abed interjects, “Don’t get too hot, Winger. Troy brought us all together, he’s the leader.”

“Han- I mean, Abed. There’s no time to squabble. For Greendale on-”

“Jesus,” Abed rolls his eyes, “for Greendale!”

The rebels lift their guns in the air, “For Greendale!”

The group soon disperse out of the Anthropology classroom and Abed is about to follow them. That is until he feels the gentle press of a hand on his wrist; it’s Troy’s. He smiles, “Thanks for helping me out back there.”

Abed shrugs lazily, “It’s your rebellion, Lando. I’m not about to let some no-brained narcissist ruin the whole thing. That’s my job. Now, c’mon. We’ve got some professional troopers to take out.”

___


The two make a group with Shirley and Annie, who are likely using this game as an opportunity to show how threatening they both are (which, apparently, is something they both want everyone to view them as if their short time together as volunteer security guards for the school is anything to go by.) Abed doesn’t care, though; either they both get splattered with paint while fighting each other for the role of the group’s unlikely badass resulting in a moral lesson about ambition, or they both agree that they’re equally cool and team up to be an unstoppable duo.

Abed prefers the latter outcome, mainly because he’s already planned a spin-off. He’s thinking of calling it Housewife and the Girl Scout but that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is there is a definite c-plot there, somewhere, and Abed really likes the way Troy is pressed close against him protectively.

The four hurry down a hallway in search of supplies and cramp into a small janitor’s closet together when they hear footsteps; Troy and Abed squeeze much closer than they planned, but it isn’t anything a sly remark about how Lando looks better up close can’t fix. Once they successfully kill two of the troopers, they hurry out and down another hallway.

Troy kicks open a door and finds the jackpot; a few barrels worth of paint that can be converted into pellets. Annie turns to Shirley, “Be on the lookout.”

Shirley gives her an offended look, “How about you be on the lookout?”

Abed turns to them both, “Both of you be on the lookout. There, solved.” Annie opens her mouth to protest but closes it quickly, a slight smile of infatuation on her face. He hears Shirley muttering something about her and Jeff but ignores it in favour of focusing on Troy.

He’s struggling to move over a large shelf stacked with boxes, “Come help me with this.”

“Of course, your worship,” Abed stands behind Troy and brings his arms around him, clutching the shelf. He feels Troy stiffen in his arms.

Abed swears he hears Troy’s voice shake, before levelling out again, “This never happened in the movies?” He peers over his shoulder at Abed. Abed can only see his eyes over his toned shoulder; he never noticed it before, but Troy had a scar just below his shoulder blade. He wants to know where he got it from, wants to extend Troy’s origin story and do it by any means possible.

Abed snaps out of character, “Yeah, I know, but I wanted to add my own personal spin to the character. If you’re uncomfortable I can-”

“No, no, no, it’s fine. Just let a guy know before you change up the script,” He turns back to the shelf and relaxes his posture once more, “now, you gonna help me or are you just going to enjoy the view?”

Shirley interjects in that sweet voice she uses to cover up her manic anger, “I hope you two are hurrying up in there. I’d hate to have to go back home to my babies… and to deal with Ariel out here trying to act tough.” Abed hears Annie’s signature scoff from outside the door frame.

___


They’re in the Chemistry Lab searching for a long, clear tube. When Troy proposed the dangerous scavenging quest, he told the rest of the rebellion he couldn’t turn the tides of battle without it. Abed offered some sarcastic response amongst the groans and joined Troy anyways.

The two of them really shouldn’t be behind enemy lines alone since they’re more vulnerable that way, but nobody else took the initiative to sign up so alone they were.

Jeff declined because he thought the idea was stupid. Annie declined because she agreed it was too risky (though Abed could sense it was for a moment of quiet with Jeff. He wondered if their tension was as obvious to the rest of the study group as it was to him.) Britta declined because she was busy trying to deduce the psyche behind the City College troopers. Shirley declined because, in her words, her legs were tired and if higher powers wanted her to join them they wouldn’t have made her so cramped up. Pierce wasn’t there to decline but Abed knew he would have if given the chance.

Abed is looking through a cabinet of beakers when Troy whispers from behind him, “Abed- I mean, Han! Check me out!” Abed turns around and faces Troy.

Annie’s floral quilt she made for Green Day is draped over his shoulders, with two of its corners tied messily over his neck. His chin is lifted, emphasising his bobbing Adam’s apple and slightly jutted collarbone. He’s sweaty and, normally, Abed would care. But he’s had more near-death experiences than he can count over the course of this game and, frankly, he can survive a bit of sweat.

Abed’s eyebrows raise and he stops moving the beakers in the cabinet as if he were completely entranced with the view before him. Troy laughs awkwardly, “I-It’s not that cool, you’re right. I’ll put it back.”

“No. It looks good on you. You should keep it for later,” Abed responds, Han’s sarcasm leaving him for a second then returning, “now c’mon. I think I hear some troopers coming and I’m not here to lose.”

Troy’s proud expression falters as he darts his tongue out to lick his lips, before he becomes serious and he nods, “Right, Han… thanks.”

Abed can’t stop thinking about it. That’s a lie; he stops thinking about it the moment a light breaks overhead and the troopers begin alerting one another of its noise.

___

 

Abed’s thumb is hooked in his belt, his hand hanging loosely off it as he listens to Troy and Jeff strategizing with the rest of the rebellion. Their model of the school is crude, if not a bit impressive considering the students only began to work together an hour or so ago. Jeff is offering an encouraging speech of how they should overwhelm the Gatling gun in the ice cream truck when Troy interrupts, claiming that he has a different idea.

Jeff sarcastically fiends intrigue.

“We use sneak attacks to draw their patrols to the library, where one of us will pull the fire alarm, activating the sprinklers, which I will have rigged with my plumbing skills, to shower everything in the building with paint.” Abed gives an impressed expression, one of raised eyebrows and a downturned lip, when Jeff bites back. Classic.

The meeting quickly erupts into chaos, with people arguing about which strategy to use (though Abed overheard someone behind him argue whether ice-cream is better cold or melted with another person), until Troy brought out his gun and shot the ceiling several times, “Wait, there has to be a better way to solve this.”

He pauses and thinks. Abed can see his eyebrows furrow and his eyes squint as he contemplates; Abed looks down, deciding anywhere is better to look than at him. Troy looks up with a brightened expression, “Okay. I think we should do both plans, but I think Annie should explain why that’s a good idea because I already forgot.” Annie’s lips purse as she realizes she’s being put on the spot. She opens her mouth to speak, but Garrett interrupts her.

He awkwardly gawks, “I won’t listen to Troy because frankly he’s a jock and they’re usually the dumb ones of the school.”

“Watch it, quasar face,” Abed mutters, revealing his gun and pointing the barrel at Garret, “Lando here’s a good kid and an even stronger leader. So listen up or you’ll be floating home.”

Troy indulges in the silence of the room before breaking it, “Thank you, Han. Annie, you were saying?”

Abed tries not to be as interested in the way Troy keeps his bottom lip in between his teeth as Annie explains a competent strategy that Abed’s sure Troy didn’t think of.

___


“I’m glad I have you on my side in this,” Troy is dumping a barrel of orange paint into the school’s water tank, “I like that you can detach yourself from the group’s drama, that you’re not completely dependent on being part of the group to be confident.” The basement is colder than Abed would expect it to be, then again, it’s a much-needed break from the heat of the rest of the school.

“You think Troy is?” Abed leans against the wall beside Troy, his hand securely wrapped around his gun.

Troy doesn’t speak for a moment, pressing his lips together with a contemplative look in his deep, brown eyes. He finally speaks, “I don’t know. Yeah, maybe. I- he- was just some jock before he joined the group. He’s more sensitive now, he has smart, nerdy friends now. But just when he’s about to become a man, Jeff has to attack him and take that from him!” He slams the barrel onto the floor.

Abed tilts his head, “That sounds lonely.”

“Britta told me- Troy, she told Troy. Anyways, she said it’s because he’s intimidated by his growing role in the group.”

Abed shrugs, “For what it’s worth, this guy I know, Abed, would agree with her. Troy’s a bigger man than Jeff is because he doesn’t make his masculinity the only thing about him. He allows himself to cry. He allows himself to be friends with him… takes some confidence to do that.”

“Thanks,” Troy grabs the clear tube and begins to connect the school’s water pump to another barrel of orange paint, “I’ll tell Troy to tell Abed he’s a pretty sweet dude. And, in Abed’s defence, he’s a cool guy. Doesn’t take much to like him.”

Abed gives a breathy laugh in response and shakes his head, fixating on the way Troy’s eyes flicker to him before his gaze turns back to the mangled wires he’s supposed to be working on. He can’t indulge himself in the moment for too long, though, since they both hear a group of coordinated footsteps approaching their side of the basement.

“I’d love to stay and chat, but unless you want to look like the Empire’s latest art project, I suggest we run.” Abed tries to ignore the way Troy grabs his hand as he starts fleeing the scene.

Troy’s grasp softens, just for a moment, as he reaches for his paintball gun, “We can’t get back to the others in time! We’ll have to head to the library!” Abed gives an agreeing hum.

Abed continues to get pulled up a flight of stairs and down the maze of hallways until Troy stops abruptly and peers around a corner, quickly retreating back. He has a nervous expression as he mouths the word troopers. Abed nods and looks around for a hiding place; he sees a bathroom beside him and quietly pulls Troy into it with him. He shoves them both into a stall and steps onto the toilet seat, gesturing for Troy to follow him.

Troy doesn’t hesitate and joins Abed, leaning against the stall’s wall in order to keep him up. In order for him to stand on the toilet seat, one of his legs is in between Abed's, his thigh rested on Abed’s knee. There’s very limited space between them, even more so considering how tall Abed is and how muscular Troy is, but that doesn’t seem to be the biggest issue concerning them; the sound of several troopers’ boots echoing as they enter the bathroom is.

Abed can feel Troy shaking beneath him. Abed puts his hand over Troy’s mouth and points a gun towards the stall door. Troy sighs quietly and places a hand on Abed’s belt, squeezing it. The troopers kick open the doors of the stall, as if this were a horror movie rather than a game of paintball- correction, a game of awesomely-themed paintball- and Abed feels Troy’s shoulder hitch at every noise. The noises become louder and louder until Abed notices a pair of feet in front of their stall.

His finger twitches over the trigger of his gun and he squints his eyes, ready to take aim.

“Look at this! The sinks don’t even work here!” One of the troopers begins to laugh. The pair of feet jump a bit, and suddenly walk off as the laughter grows. Suddenly, one of the troopers alert the rest that they saw a student running outside and the sounds fade away.

Abed’s gun lowers and he sighs, turning back to Troy with a smirk, “Greendale. Whether you love it or hate it, it did just save both of us.” He removes his hand from Troy’s mouth. He stills feels the warmth of Troy’s breath on his palm.

The two should be moving, they really should, but they don’t. They stay still for a moment, looking at each other, until Troy begins to lean in. Abed pauses and suddenly grows more nervous. The only thing illuminating Troy’s face is the broken bathroom light; it turns on and off as if even it were completely shattered by Troy’s beauty. He looks like a fallen angel. Abed steadies his hands on the coolness of the wall behind Troy and quickly gets down from the toilet, “Let’s go, we don’t have much time to lose.”

Troy opens his eyes, startled, and nods. Abed ignores the disappointed look Troy gives him.

___


The two rush to the library as quickly as possible, trying to avoid the main hallways. When they arrive at the library, they’re greeted by Shirley, Annie, and a few of the remaining, albeit traumatized, members of the rebellion. They look pathetic, then again, in every great movie, there has to be a moment of despair. It always leads to the most memorable comebacks. Abed counts how many students are left while Troy has, what he assumes to be, a mental breakdown. He’s pacing and rambling, trying to form any semblance of a good plan.

Abed peers through the blinds of a nearby window, “I’ll be honest, things aren’t looking good for us. We’ll have to shoot our way out.”

“Have you seen our numbers,” Annie gestures towards the group, “we’ll never make it.”

“God damn it, we still have to try!” Abed responds and Troy stops.

He turns to the rebellion, what little there is left of it, “Han is right. If we want to get out of here and see our families unpainted, we’ll need to fight back. The hallway is narrow enough so that they’re just as exposed as we are and we still have a few paintballs left… okay, this is good! All right, Shirley, you have the most important job, okay? Commence Operation Troy's Awesome Leadership is Never in Doubt!”

Troy and Abed take the frontline, it’s the most righteous thing to do as the leaders of the rebellion, and hurry down the hallway. There’s sounds of carnage behind them: screams, paint pellets hitting soft flesh, and the occasional voice drenched in static. Abed forces himself to look forward, to not think about all the lives that are being ended just behind them.

They manage to reach a stronghold in the hallway made of overturned desks and library shelves; Abed smashes against the desk from the momentum of running on such slippery floors (which Dean Pelton informed him wasn’t a health concern, even though Jeff told him that because the Dean never put the proper signage since he spent that budget on elaborate costumes, a kid could sue the school for all it was worth) and shifts behind it rather awkwardly. Troy looks over Abed with a concerned expression, but he can’t find the time to dwell on it when several pellets begin flying overhead.

“You think Jeff’s group is doing any better?”

Annie sighs, “No, I don’t think so. We have to face it, City College might win.”

Troy presses his lips into a thin line and looks down. Abed shakes his head, “That isn’t true. Look, I may just be some smuggler from the rough side of town, but I’ve heard about you Annie and this? This isn’t you. I heard you were determined, that you always found a way out of things!”

Annie blushes and brushes her hair behind her ear, “Where’d you hear that from?”

“A friend of mine, Abed. Now, things may look down now, but we can get out of here… you can get out of here. Lando?” Abed turns to Troy and the latter nods solemnly.

“Annie, you’re the only one who can survive this; you’re fast and thin, like one of those lizards that can run on water,” Troy pauses, “get out of here. We’ll fend the rest of them off.” Annie’s lips part slightly as her eyebrows knot together. She gives a curt nod and brings her arms around the both of them for a group hug.

Abed’s certain he can even see a tear roll down her cheek as she departs. Teenagers, always so emotional. Then again, that could’ve just been Annie.

Troy looks over the desk, his face contorted, “She won’t make it. None of us will. She was right.”

Abed looks down, “Yeah, but the kid should at least have some hope before she goes… c’mon, I’m not dying sitting down.” He extends his open palm to Troy, who takes it, and pulls them both upwards.

Troy looks at him, “You have some pellets left?”

Abed shakes his head, “No, I meant I don’t want to die sitting down literally. The floor is dirty. We’re both definitely about to get shot together.”

Troy looks away in defeat, “Then I guess this is where we die, huh Han? At least I’m going out next to the greatest smuggler in the galaxy.” He flashes a helpless smile, the bottoms of his top set of teeth showing.

Abed feels Troy’s hand tighten around his and decides that he has a bit more artistic freedom left in him. He gently grabs Troy’s forearm and opens his mouth to ask if he’d like to kiss him. He expects Troy to go for a hug, or not understand him and spend the last seconds they have alive asking him what he means, why they didn’t kiss in the bathroom, but at least he’ll have Troy’s attention before he goes.

That’s why he’s surprised when Troy turns around and, without much hesitation, grabs his shoulder to ground him and pulls him forwards by his vest, bringing their lips together. Troy’s lips are soft and warm, which Abed’s always assumed they’d feel like; Troy bites his lips constantly when he’s nervous, no wonder they’re so swollen. He gently rests his hands on Troy’s waist and pulls him forwards by his belt, the already small space between them vanishing completely.

For once, Abed doesn’t pretend that he’s Han and Greendale isn’t some galaxy far, far away; he’s much more inclined to stay in reality and feel Troy’s hand rubbing his shoulder softly.

The only thing that partially ruins the moment is when orange paint rushes over them. Abed says partially because, definitely, he’ll have to shower after this game thoroughly, but Troy hasn’t stopped kissing him and Abed’s certain this moment looks glorious to an outsider. Like something out of a movie.

Or at least a great two-part television special.

Once the spray of paint overhead them ends, Troy separates them by pressing their foreheads together. His breaths are ragged and his cheeks have a slight red tint to them. Abed smiles, “Cool. Cool cool cool.”

Troy lets out a soft breath, “I guess you’re back to being Abed, huh? That’s fine I just wanted to say that this whole game was really fun and you’re a really good kisser and, oh God, I’m rambling aren’t I?”

Abed pauses and asks to kiss Troy again; the acceptance is almost immediate. Troy relaxes into the kiss quickly, like he was planning this for months. Somewhere deep down, Abed wants that to be true.

They leave the school, drenched in paint, after finding Annie on her knees, yelling in excitement. When they do manage to catch up with Jeff’s group, the only remaining person is Britta, hiding behind a hedge. Abed watches her and Shirley take out multiple of the City College troopers surrounding them, as well as the Gatling gun in the ice-cream truck; he can’t focus, though. He’s too busy trying to find the right way to hold Troy’s hand; it’s so much lower than his because of their height difference and it’s much wider than he’s accustomed to. It’s also slippery because of the paint, but that’s part of the sweat and fluids variable Abed always adapts to.

He’ll adapt to anything if it’s Troy he’s doing it for.

___


Abed is in the middle of watching A New Hope when his phone buzzes. Most of the orange paint is still in his hair, crusted and likely to stay there for a while, unless Abed wants to solve his problem the hard way and painfully pull each piece out. Abed takes his phone and sees its a new message from Troy, whom he had called Group Member #6 in his contacts list mainly due to laziness of not wanting to change it.

He opens the text. It reads, “Hey, so that was a game of paintball, huh?

Abed types back, “Yes.” He’s never been good at social interactions, even when they’re with his best friend, even when it’s over text. That is unless he's playing Han.

There’s another text, “Hey. Remember when we promised we’d find a way to make the Dreamatorium dream come true? There’s this cool two-bedroom apartment place that’s super cheap. You know where I’m going with this, right?

Yes; we use one of the bedrooms and paint it black with orange tape?

Yeah! If we could do our handshake right now we so would. But anyways… you down for it? I need a Han by my side in case any intruders dare to enter.

Abed smiles, “I’d need a Lando to keep me entertained.

Awesome. We’ll talk about this later. I need to head to bed; long day of practice tomorrow.

Abed pauses and quickly types, “Wait, before you go… what are we?

The best smugglers in the galaxy,” Troy responds after some time.

Abed accepts that answer and turns his phone off just when Annie enters the room and asks to borrow some soap. She stays to watch the rest of the movie with him.

When she leaves in the middle of it to get popcorn, he changes Troy’s contact to Lando.

Secretly, Abed always wanted to do that, too.