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Frequency, Amplitude, Intensity, Pressure

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Troy and Abed move in together on August 15th, but Abed doesn't really get a sense for the pattern until late September. This is, in part, because it takes a while for the pattern to establish itself, which Abed puts down to Troy's gradually diminishing fear of being caught. But by the third week in September the incidents have settled into some regularity: three to five times a week (3.9 times a week on average) with a 38% greater likelihood of occurring if Abed mentions, at some point during the day, how tired he is or how deeply he sleeps.

The first time was on August 20th; Abed guesses that, before that, Troy was trying not to do it while they were sleeping in the same room together, but obviously decided on the 20th that it was worth the risk of Abed overhearing him. Then nothing happened between then and the 25th, when it occurred for the second time. So Abed has some idea of where Troy's limits are, though obviously he has no data about what Troy does in the shower or when they're apart.

They're not apart very often these days, though, and Abed is relatively (96%) certain that he doesn't have a girlfriend.

Or a boyfriend.

Technically he's less certain that Troy doesn't have a boyfriend, since Troy would have greater social impetus to hide that fact from Abed, but he's home every night, they sleep in the same room, and they spend most of their time together. So he probably doesn't have a boyfriend.

So, despite his incomplete data set, and the giant question mark that is Troy's shower time (he takes between sixteen and twenty-eight minutes to shower, mean 22.56, median 25), Abed knows that Troy doesn't like to go more than five days without masturbating. That, after five days, his desire overwhelms his fear.

He knows it's impolite to keep track of things like this, but he can't seem to help it. Even if he's in the kitchen or the bedroom while Troy's in the shower, even if he's occupied with something else or doesn't think he's paying attention, he can't help glancing at the bedside clock or the oven timer, and his brain offers up the data: nineteen and a half minutes, no singing today.

He's never been in this situation before, and he doesn't know what the socially acceptable course of action is. He rewatches the episode of Friends where Chandler is annoyed at Joey for having loud sex in the room next door, but the situations aren't comparable really. He could tell Troy that he can hear him, that even though he lies still and his breathing is even it actually takes him a long time to fall asleep, and Troy would be embarrassed, but maybe he would want to know? Or he could let Troy go on doing what he's doing in the bunk right below Abed, right below where Abed sleeps. Then he would avoid embarrassing Troy, even though it might be an invasion of his privacy.

It always starts with rustling and shuffling noises; Abed imagines that Troy is kicking at the sheets, feeling annoyed and restless. Abed can picture it, because he knows how Troy tends to flail around when he gets antsy, when he needs to go running or kill things in an X-Box game or eat lots of carbs and take a nap. Troy would kick ineffectually at the sheets, and then get more annoyed at them, and then – there's always a bigger rustling sound – fling them off entirely.

Now that Abed knows what to listen for, he can hear the sound of Troy's hand against his dick. It's a quiet sound, but recognizable for its rhythm; Troy doesn't build up slowly, just throws himself into it, quick even pulls, maintaining the same speed from the beginning until almost the end. But when Abed first started hearing it, before he knew what was happening, it was the sound of Troy's breathing that alerted him. Troy's breathing is anything but regular and rhythmic; he breathes in deeply, holds it for a while, shudders through an exhale – or he takes in little sharp hitching breaths, all in a row – or sometimes, when he gets close, he takes ruthlessly even breaths through his nose, loud ones, so loud that it seems like there's no space between them at all, so loud that Abed can imagine what it would feel like if Troy's hot breath were on his neck or his face. It didn't take long, on August 20th, for Abed to understand what the sudden changes in Troy's breathing meant, and then when he listened more carefully he could discern the sound of him touching himself, too.

Sometimes there's also the sound of Troy swallowing hard, then opening his mouth to suck in new air. Abed can picture that, picture Troy's head falling back and his eyes blinking. Abed hasn't been able to keep track of how often that's happened, but he thinks pretty often.

There's another noise, too, that Abed has yet to place; it's a soft sliding noise, not of skin on skin but of something else – the bottom of Troy's foot pushing back and forth against the sheets, maybe, or the palm of his left hand pressing against the wall (Abed's pretty sure he uses his right for the other part), or it could just be Troy's hair against his pillowcase when he moves around. Abed's not sure. He's tempted, sometimes, to lean over the edge of the bunk bed and look down, just to find out exactly what's happening, to find out whether Troy cocks his knee the way Abed imagines or whether Troy's head is tipped back or whether his toes dig into the rumpled blankets at the foot of the bed.

He doesn't; he's not sure if Troy's eyes are open or closed, and he'd have to look to find out, and he'd have to know whether Troy's eyes were open or closed before he could look.

Tonight, October 3rd, is the twenty-eighth time that Troy has masturbated in the bottom bunk. As always, he waits a while, maybe just listening to Abed breathe steadily to make sure he's asleep. Abed appreciates that; he likes that Troy thinks of him and doesn't just treat him like a piece of furniture to be ignored. It occurred to Abed a few weeks ago that he could try not being so still and breathing so slowly; he could toss and turn, try to make the bedframe squeak, make Troy think that he's awake (which he is). He could give him a little signal to let him know that he's not in private.

Abed wonders if Troy would do it anyway. He's pretty sure (89%) that he wouldn't. Abed sometimes thinks about that other 11%, though, what it would be like to listen if Troy knew he was listening. Troy never moans or says anything, but if he knew Abed was listening to him, maybe he would. Maybe he would do it intentionally for Abed to hear. Like putting on a show. Like playing a role, just for Abed.

Abed's never tried the tossing and turning approach, and although he thinks about it, he doesn't do it tonight either. He stays still, arms at his sides, eyes closed, and focuses on his breathing: in and out, steady and even. Troy starts rustling against his sheets, and then the soft skin-on-skin rubbing sounds begin, and then Troy's breathing gets irregular, just like always. The room is so quiet, so dark, and it's so late that every noise seems magnified; Abed is motionless as Troy's legs shift against his mattress, as his hand works his dick, as he starts to gasp quietly into the still room.

Lately, when this has happened, Abed has been turned on by it. Increasingly (Abed can't chart it yet), when Troy masturbates, Abed gets hard too, even though he doesn't move his hands and doesn't touch himself and stays completely immobile. It's like the sounds alone are turning him on. Abed imagines the little air-vibrations that make up sound, waves of pressure in the atmosphere that start with Troy's movements and travel up to Abed's body. He thinks about the way they tickle his eardrums and the way his brain translates those vibrations into electrical impulses, firing across his neurons. He imagines that the sounds must be vibrating all over his body, too, not just in his eardrums, must be pressing against him infinitesimally all over. He's covered in the sound of Troy beneath him, touching himself, making himself feel good.

Getting turned on at night is unusual for Abed, since he usually takes care of things in his morning shower (he hates being sticky, and wouldn't want to sleep that way), but he puts it down to his own natural curiosity and sex drive. He's never seen another guy do it, never talked about it with anyone. His dad's sex talks typically contained neither talking nor any information about sex. So it's natural, he supposes, that he would be . . . interested. And Troy is interesting; Troy is one of the most interesting people Abed knows.

Troy's strokes don't speed up, not yet, but there's a change in his breathing that lets Abed know that he's coming to the end; Abed can't quite place it, but he thinks it might be that Troy breathes faster, maybe takes shorter breaths. Soon, if Troy behaves according to previously established patterns, his hand will speed up and the sound of his strokes will get loud just for a few seconds (between ten and thirty-six) before slowing down again suddenly, drastically; presumably, when he comes. Abed supposes that Troy likes to keep touching himself to draw it out, to make the aftershocks last a little longer. He imagines Troy's semen spilling from the tip of his dick, the way it would maybe pour over his hand as Troy grits his teeth and presses his head back against the pillow.

He has no evidence to support the idea that Troy grits his teeth. It's pure speculation.

Abed tries to calculate how long it will be before Troy gets to that stage, the speeding-up stage that happens right before he comes. He can't predict – he's not sure how many seconds it's been – and the pressure of his own erection is distracting, breaking his concentration. Usually he likes staying still but right now it's hard to remember not to move, not to shift his hips, not to –

As slowly as he can, he lifts his hand up from his side and starts to ease it under the blanket; all he's going to do is hold on until the feeling subsides. He barely makes a sound, not a whisper, and when his palm cups around his dick it feels like a relief just to be able to react, for once, in some small way, to what Troy's doing. To acknowledge, even to himself, that he hears it, feels it.

What he forgets is that he was reading Batwoman: Elegy before bed, and that he left it on top of the covers (he never moves in his sleep). His moving hand pushes the blanket up just enough to jar the comic, so that it, like Abed, is no longer an object at rest. Or at least, that's how he reconstructs what's happened in the seconds after it happens; at first, all he knows is that something heavy has fallen off his bunk and made a loud thumping noise on the floor.

Beneath him, Troy's movements stop. Abed panics, very quietly.

"Abed?" Troy says, softly, so that if Abed is sleeping he won't wake him up.

Abed doesn't want to lie directly, to pretend that he's asleep when Troy is asking him if he's awake, so he answers immediately: "Yeah," he says, in his regular tone of voice. His hand is still on his erection, just cupping it lightly over his pajama bottoms. Probably an innocent picture compared to the way Troy looks right now – Abed really, really wants to lean over the edge of the bed and look – but he still feels guilty, like he's the one who's been caught.

Troy doesn't say anything for a while. Abed guesses that he's really embarrassed and trying to figure out what to say. Or really angry and trying to figure out what to say. Abed can't predict at all. He thinks again about that 11% chance that Troy would keep going, would do this even if he knew Abed could hear him, and it occurs to him for the first time that he can change the odds, that he's a factor in this situation and can affect the outcome.

"You don't have to stop," Abed whispers into the dark.

Troy's breathing picks up when he says it, in a way that Abed had previously only associated with his late-night masturbation sessions. Interesting.

"Stop what?" Troy chokes out, after a really long pause. Abed considers; he could just say nothing, pretend he doesn't know so that Troy can pretend he doesn't know. He could give Troy an out and give him a hint that he shouldn't masturbate in a bunk bed if he doesn't want to be overheard.

Instead, he says, "I like listening to you," which wasn't what he planned to say at all, but he can't deny, in retrospect, that it's true.

Now Troy sighs deeply with a little hitch at the end, the way he does sometimes when he's right in the middle of the whole thing. Abed moves his own hand, just a little, just for the sensation of the additional pressure. It makes waiting for Troy to say something else bearable.

"Okay," Troy says, after a long time, so quietly that Abed only hears it because he's straining his hearing towards him, squinting with his ears to catch any sound. But then Troy says it again, louder: "Okay."

There's a long shuddering exhale of breath, and Abed is surprised to find that it's him, that he was holding his breath and closing his eyes tight and rubbing his dick, just like he's imagined Troy doing it so many times.

And at that sound, Troy starts again, even more quietly than he normally does but Abed can hear it, can hear the little exhalations and soft noises that Troy gives him willingly, gives him maybe just because he knows Abed wants to hear, and Abed lets out a soft cry that he knows Troy can hear, and those thoughts all clang together in his head with the sound of Troy below him until he's overwhelmed, his orgasm rushing in his ears like the tide, blanking out all sound, all sensation.

He gasps for air. He wasn't expecting that.

Beneath him, he hears Troy still going, but really fast now, obviously in the last up-to-thirty-six seconds of his process.

When he comes, he does make a noise, this time, and Abed doesn't know if it's because he's not holding himself back or because he wants Abed to hear, but it makes him close his eyes again at the deep feeling of satisfaction that it brings.

Abed blinks into the dark for a long minute. After a while, something pops up at the edge of his bed, something white and waving. He thinks about surrender, but it's a handful of tissues, held in Troy's hand, being offered up silently.

Abed takes them. Their fingers brush.

He really does hate being sticky, so he says, "Thanks."

From beneath him come the sounds of Troy rolling over, pulling his sheets back up, snuggling in.

"Good night, Abed," Troy calls softly.

"Good night, Troy," Abed replies.

Surprisingly, it doesn't take Abed very long to fall asleep.