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Runaway Balloon

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Britta is nuzzling Annie’s skin the same way her one-eyed cats rub their heads on her leg when they're hungry - they only do that to Britta, of course. Troy just gets scratches and mean hisses if he tries to get near them.

 

“Dude,” Troy says, dumbfounded and dizzy. “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?”

 

Abed is also staring at them. “Yes.”

“I had never been both jealous and turned on at the same time.” 

 

Abes rests his head in the trunk behind him, and looks at Troy intently. His gentle and mysterious pupils are over dilated. “I have.”

 

“Really?” Troy wants to know. He huddles closer, his thigh and arm tingling wherever they get in contact with Abed's. “Like, you mean for Annie?!”

 

Abed frowns. Troy wants to reach out a hand to touch the wrinkle in his forehead but his arm feels too heavy. “No. For you and Britta.”

Troy stares at him sleepily for a few seconds. Or maybe hours. There's a colorful halo around Abed's head. “Wait. What? Do you like Britta?!”

 

Abed seems to ponder it for a moment. He turns to look at Britta, then he looks at Troy again. Finally, he kind of half-nods and half-shrugs. “Yeah. Also, I think I’m in love with you.”

 

Suddenly, there's an explosion of color around them, and the ground shakes. Troy smiles dopily. “Awesome!” He says, and finally gathers the strength to raise his arm. They do their handshake. The sound of their palms clashing sounds like music. Abed smiles at him, and Troy slumps over his shoulder. 

 

“Hey, why does everyone look so upset?”

“I’m afraid they might have been confessing their deepest, most shameful secrets, creating an unnecessary imbalance and a tense environment.” Abed’s body vibrates whenever he speaks; it's like lying on a purring cat. Which reminds him of Britta. He searches for her. She is sitting now far from Annie, with her face in one hand. She looks sad and his heart aches just by seeing it. 

 

“Babe? What’s wrong?”

 

She looks up, and her eyes soften when she spots him and Abed. “I’m fine, Troy.”

 

“Fine,” Abed intervenes, or “F-Y-N-E?”

 

“Well, yeah, fine with a Y,” she admits, smiling a bit. “How do I even know what that means?”

 

“Troy told you at the Inspector Spacetime Convention,” Abed reminds her.

 

“It’s also not such a subtle code as you appear to think,” Jeff cuts in. He is lying shirtless on the grass, his eyes fixed on the dark sky. “Wow, won’t you look at that. There’s a constellation that looks exactly like my face!"

 

“Oh, it really does!” Annie gasps.

 

“No, it doesn’t.” Britta snorts. “You guys are even higher than me. I guess there’s a first time for everything.”

 

“It’s not my first time with drugs!” Annie says. “I was in rehab, remember?”

 

“Well, yeah, but it’s not the same thing,” Britta explains. 

 

“We’re sorry our first time with heavier drugs isn't behind a dumpster in New York."

 

Troy frowns. Why is Jeff being so extra mean? Does he not notice the trees being made of marshmallows and the angelical music that comes from apparently nowhere?

 

“Remember that time we smoked weed together?” Troy offers to lighten the mood. Britta smiles at him. 

 

Annie gasps. 

 

“Britta!” Shirley scolds. “Oh, Troy. I warned you to be careful with her! Such a sweet boy, getting peer-pressured.”

 

“It wasn’t Troy’s first time.” Abed jumps in. Troy doesn’t remember telling him that, or even about the time he smoked with Britta, but he guesses they just accidentally mind-melded at one point, like McCoy and Spock. So cool.

 

“Yeah, I didn’t peer pressure anybody. And I’m not trying to be judgemental! I was just pointing out the irony of the circumstances.” Britta defends herself, and just like that she looks super sad again. Troy recognizes it as her face of trying very hard not to be defined as a buzzkiller. 

 

“Come over here,” He invites, patting his own thigh.

 

“Nah, it’s fine, honey. I’m good.”

 

Troy is going to use his very effective line of saying Come on, Britta, don’t be the worst, but then Abed also pats Troy’s leg invitingly, causing the spot to almost burst into flames in the most pleasant way ever, and Britta sighs and goes almost reluctantly. She rests her head in his lap, breathing quietly. Troy settles himself with one arm behind Abed’s shoulders and one hand stroking Britta’s hair. 

 

“Could you repeat your shameful secret, Britta?” Abed says, “I didn't catch it before.” 

 

She looks very conflicted, but surrenders. Troy knows that Britta is incapable of being harsh or dismissive to Abed. He understands; he feels exactly the same.

 

“I said that even though I call myself an activist, I have never actually voted for something that isn’t The Voice.”

 

“Is this some kind of test to prove if we never pay attention to your political stances?”

 

She squints. “Why would you think that, Abed?”

 

“Your activism is mainly based on anarchist principles.” He states, cocking his head in that bird-like way that means he is confused. “You said it yourself. If our votes really had any value, then voting would be illegal. Anarchism promotes the abolition of the state. Why would we be surprised that you don't vote if the rejection of the mere existence of government is the foundation of the ideals you preach?”

 

Britta looks at him for a moment, and it's only at that point that it is visible that she's as high as they are. “Oh my fucking lord,” She says, and Shirley couldn’t gasp more disapprovingly. “Abed, I want to kiss you so bad right now.”

 

Abed smirks. Troy can literally see the bullets coming out of his finger guns; it’s fucking amazing. He never knew that being high could make real life have special effects. “You can do it.”

 

Troy grins at Abed’s awesome idea, and he isn’t jealous and turned-on as before - well, maybe a little turned-on - but he mainly feels all warm and fuzzy. He’s still smiling dumbly at them, with his temple pressed comfortably in Abed’s shoulder, and Britta’s messy hair sliding through his fingers, when he notices that they are both staring at him. Abed in awe and Britta in confusion. 

 

“What?” He asks. “Did I say all my thoughts out loud again?”

 

“No,” Abed smiles a little, looking amused. “But your facial expressions are extremely easy to read, even for me.”

 

“You wouldn’t mind?” Britta says finally. “Me kissing Abed?” 

 

“Why would I? I love you, and I love Abed -”

 

“Oh.” She exhales, sitting up carefully, her hand pressed firmly in his knee for support. 

 

“Wait, Britta - what’s up?” He feels like he said something very wrong, but can’t pinpoint exactly what. The rest of the study group are peering at them cautiously, as if they were characters in a movie, or animals at a zoo. “Oh. Is it because I said I love Abed?” 

 

Britta perks up, and shakes her head, like she is waking up from a weird dream, or like Abed does when he is getting lost in his inception-ish thoughts. “No! Troy, it’s not that. I already knew that. I mean, everyone knows that.”

 

Troy exhales, relieved. “Cool. I guess? I didn’t know, though. I discovered it like ten minutes ago. Right, Abed?”

 

“Yep. It was a berries-induced romantic revelation. Nice trope. I think we may have just invented it.”

 

They do their handshake. It still sounds like music. Troy can’t stop smiling.

 

“Ten minutes ago?” Britta inquires. “Of course. That’s what you were discussing so quietly before, while we were singing-sharing our secrets. God, I Britta'd your rom-com moment, didn’t I?”

 

Abed frowns. “You didn’t. We were the ones who asked you to come over here. I just explicitly encouraged you to kiss me.” He looks like he is making complicated algebra exercises in his mind. “Why is this being so complicated to pull off? Oh - I know. Classic miscommunication trope.”

 

“Abed, I don’t understand.” Britta says slowly. Then she looks at Troy. He shrugs. He isn’t sure of what’s happening, either, but he’s pretty sure that Abed has it already figured out and they can trust him to handle the situation and then turn it into a magical, smart, awesome, and probably meta scenario.

 

“Britta, why exactly were you upset, slash, shocked a few seconds ago?”

 

She blushes prettily. Troy raises a hand to caress her cheek with his knuckles. Her skin is so soft. She is kind of like a fairy. An anarchist fairy. That is super into BDSM. A super badass fairy, in sum. 

 

“It’s just that Troy - he had never said he loved me before."

 

Troy gasps. “What?!” He hates when his voice comes out all high-pitched, but he can’t help it. He's outraged. “I say it all the time, Britta, what the hell! This morning when you helped me get that super nasty spider out of my room I said see, this is why I love you, Britta! And then when we were getting ready for the air-balloon trip and you showed me that you packed apple juice boxes for me, I literally spun you in the air and said damn, man, I just love you! And then when you were ranting about this social experiment on rats and I told you that I don’t care about rats ‘cause I hate rats, and you told me then why don’t you hate hamsters too, Troy! and I said well because hamsters are cute! And you said It’s basically the same, you hypocritical speciesist! And I said you’re the worst Britta, which always means you are super annoying and I love you!”

 

“Aww,” Annie and Shirley coo in unison. They sound like canaries. Or like those teddy bears that say cute things when you press their tummies.

 

“That was a great montage of romantic scenes.” Abed approves. 

 

Britta stutters a bit. “Well- yeah, you say it but it always sounds like a friendly I love you, you know? Not like romantically, but the same way you said it casually when we weren’t dating! Like a no-homo thing,”

 

“The fact that you are a heterosexual couple immediately cancels out the possibility of Troy no-homoing you.” Abed points out. 

 

“Yeah, and you're literally my girlfriend!” Troy says, because now he is super confused and it’s getting difficult for him to keep track so he has to state the obvious. 

 

“All right, understood. You really mean it, and I seriously love you too!” She says, a little exasperated, and it makes flying rainbow puppies appear behind her. Equally awesome. “But then how can you explain this thing with Abed?!” 

 

“We… love each other and also you?”

 

 “Abed doesn’t…” Britta trails off, looking uncertain. 

 

“I let you cuddle and therapize me, which are two activities that I usually avoid actively. Plus, I find you highly attractive. It was one of the reasons why I accepted your invitation to join a Spanish study group in the first place. Besides the sitcom potential, obviously.”

“Hey,” Jeff interrupts groggily. “It was me who created a Spanish group to get in Britta’s pants.”

 

“Yes.” Abed says. “I’m not trying to take the credits. I’m merely stating the facts.”

 

“...So, what do you suggest?” Britta says. She has relaxed a little, and Troy notices that her hand has somehow traveled to Abed’s arm and is stroking reassuringly. He nuzzles into Abed’s neck and sighs happily; it smells slightly like the aftershave they share.

 

“At first I expected you to have a more possessive reaction towards me admitting I love Troy, because of your past in the love triangle with Jeff and Slater. But I assume that said possessive reaction was the result of ego competition rather than true feelings of love and longing.” Troy watches in awe the words coming out of Abed’s mouth like the caterpillar’s smoke in Alice in Wonderland. 

 

“Yeah. Not my proudest, most feminist moment, I admit.”

“Ouch,” Jeff says, but it sounds sarcastic. Troy laughs. Jeff’s a funny dude. He kind of wishes he weren't that far so they could bump fists or something.

 

Abed keeps going. “As I gathered from your reactions earlier, you seem to believe that if Troy and I finally admit that we love each other, then there is no need for you to stand in the way, which simply reflects how much you love Troy and appreciate our friendship. However, you're wrong.”

 

“Am I?” She says. Her blue eyes are a little wider than usual, and he wants to hug her so bad, but he knows Abed won’t forgive him if he interrupts this grand, dramatic getting together scene. 

 

"Of course. You provide the balance that Troy and I need. It's true that Annie is the one that tones us down, but she's still as childish and volatile as we are to some extent. You keep us grounded yet you understand us. An outsider might mistakenly label your attitude as condescending or maternal, but that's not the case either. That's Shirley's role. You have been both supporting and non-judgemental to me and Troy repeatedly. Exhibit A: Troy’s dancing aspirations. Exhibit B: My film-making aspirations.”

 

“Abed, that’s… beautiful. But you know that what I do for you both is just what a decent friend does, right?” She says, looking at the two of them. She looks like she is about to cry. Troy can’t help it and reaches for her, placing his hand on her waist and stroking with his thumb. She smiles softly at him, then at Abed. Her gaze is so full of love that Troy’s heart beats happily. 

 

“If you want it to be like that, and by that I mean a merely platonic dynamic, I can respect it.” Abed shrugs. Troy lets his right arm fall from Abed’s shoulder to his waist and squeezes tightly. He loves him so much, and he is so soft, and warm, and cuddly, and this stripped hoodie is his favorite.

 

“Oh, fuck it,” Britta says, and then she makes a fist on Abed's shirt and draws him in. Troy stumbles a bit because his point of support has been removed, but when he steadies himself by resting both hands on the ground, he can see Britta kissing Abed, the latter with one hand on her hip and the other tucked into her blonde hair and - Oh, if that's not an awesome sight.

 

They break apart, and Troy swears that these weird berries gave him spidey-senses because he can hear Britta and Abed’s shaky breath pattern as if they were breathing on speaker or with a microphone. Brita looks kinda giddy, with her eyes wide open and her small mouth half open. Troy thinks he might die if he doesn’t kiss her ASAP as possible. 

 

“Wow. Abed, you're such a great kisser,”

 

“He is.” Troy says, proudly. 

 

You have kissed him?!” Annie, Jeff, and Shirley exclaim at the same time. Have they been paying attention to this whole thing? Not that it really matters, Troy concludes. 

 

“Multiple times.” Abed says, his lips a little swollen from kissing. Troy might die soon from a heart attack, definitely. “Mostly for homages and films. There’s also that time we were drunk.” 

 

“Yeah,” Troy laughs. He goes for their handshake, but then he has an idea. “Now we can include Britta in the handshake!”

 

“Guys, no,” Britta says, but she is smiling sweetly. “I know that’s your thing.”

 

“Come one, babe. It’s gonna be a special Brittrobed edition!” He crosses his arms with outstretched palms, one for each. “Let’s do it like this!”

 

They mirror him and clap their hands twice. The sound of it is the best goddamn song Troy’s ever heard. 

 

“Man, this is perfect!" As always, he starts tearing up before he can help it. "Damn! It's just - I love you both so much!”

 

“Oh, honey,” Britta says, cupping his cheek lovingly. “We love you too.”

 

“Polyamorous dilemma solved." Abed says, clicking his tongue. "Now, let's take a nap. The dizzy effect is rubbing off and now I’m just feeling nauseous.”

 

“Poor tripping thing,” Britta says. “Do you want a juice-box?” 

 

“That’d be nice.” Abed says. 

 

Britta reaches in her bag and pulls one for each one of them.

 

“Are there no juice-boxes for the ones not involved in your little, weird, and entirely unexpected love triangle?” Jeff complains. Britta sticks her tongue out at him.

 

“No, Winger. Now shut up and let me enjoy the feeling of having two unique male specimens that are actually worth it and truly care about me.” 

 

“Aww, babe,” Troy says, moved. “Nice,” Abed says, shooting finger guns. 

 

“Let’s nap.” She says, and kisses his cheek. They huddle together, breathing synchronously. Troy’s never been happier. Which also reminds him.

 

“Guys, where’s Pierce?”

 

“He wandered off a while ago,” He hears Shirley say. “Thank God he missed all of this, because I’m sure he would've had a whole repertoire of disgusting comments to make.”

 

They all agree, and stay silent for a while. Now Troy can only hear the wind, and maybe crickets, and the sound of Britta’s heart pressed behind his back and Abed’s heart under his palm. 

 

“There’s the possibility of this turning into a Hangover movie.” Abed almost whispers after a while.

 

“What?”

 

“Maybe we won’t remember any of this tomorrow.”

 

“Don’t worry, Abed. Those were some images I'll never be able to get out of my mind.”

 

“Shut up, Jeff.”

 

“Guys, let’s just sleep.” Annie says, from somewhere in a galaxy far, far away. “I’m exhausted.”

 

“We’ll remember, Abed.” Britta promises. Troy squeezes her hand that is resting in his hip, and presses a kiss in Abed’s jaw because it’s the closest part of skin he finds; they both hum contentedly. 

 

“Cool. Cool, cool, cool, cool."

 

They sleep.