“I’m dying. I am for real dying.”
Troy lays on the ground, his eyes turned up toward the popcorn ceiling. His head rests on Abed’s lap, his best friend’s fingers running gently back and forth over Troy’s wispy sideburns.
“You’re not dying,” Jeff groans. “Please just shut up, you’re having a panic attack. That’s it.”
“I knew there was a reason this was illegal, I knew it. I knew it so hard.” His eyelashes flutter from Abed’s touch. “I’m seconds from death.”
Britta sits up on the couch, swinging her legs off Jeff’s lap. “You’re being dramatic.”
“You can keep my Spider-man DVDs,” Troy mumbles.
“Cool,” Abed replies.
“I love you.”
Abed looks down at his friend and tilts his head, quiet.
“Please, nobody tell Shirley about this,” Troy says. The door swings open.
“Hellooo!” Shirley trills. Troy turns his head, burying it into the crevice of Abed’s knee, groaning softly.
Abed looks up, his gentle eyes relaxed. “This feels karmic.”
Shirley pats Abed’s head affectionately as she walks by, ignoring his statement, probably assuming he’s doing a character. “What’s wrong with Troy, is he okay?” Her smile is fixed on her face.
Shirley looks to Troy, concerned, but Jeff interrupts before she can say anything. “He is not dying, he’s fine. Britta gave him some bad weed—”
Britta scoffs. “It’s not my pot’s fault, it’s his brain chemistry! Or whatever!”
“WHAT?” Shirley yells. “You gave that sweet boy drugs? You poisoned him?”
“It is not poison!” Britta retorts. “Everyone else who smoked it is fine—”
Abed looks back down at Troy, turning his attention to stroking the hairs at the back of Troy’s neck. “I had some. It’s nice, my fingers feel like cotton.”
“You corrupted Abed?!”
Jeff stands to his full height, rubbing his temples. “Nobody is corrupted, we’re all fine— wait, Shirley, what are you doing here?”
Troy blinks and looks upward again. “I don’t think I’ve breathed in at least five minutes.”
“Annie invited me,” Shirley says, anger seeping into her carefully enunciated words.
Annie’s bedroom door creaks, and everyone turns. She’s frozen in place, clearly trying to back away from the conversation she’d been eavesdropping on. Jeff rounds in on her. “You did?”
Annie stammers, defensive. “Shirley and I were going to have a girls’ day since you all decided to hang out without us.”
“And you had her come here?”
“I didn’t know you were getting high! I thought you were just hanging out!”
Troy stirs. “We were. Then Britta killed me.”
“Stop it,” Jeff says. “You are not dead, you are fine.”
“You broke him.”
“Shut up, Abed.”
Shirley shakes her head, clutching her purse away from Britta. “I can’t believe you would pressure your friends to do drugs, I am very disappointed in you.”
“Why didn’t you invite me to smoke drugs with you?” Annie asks, eyelashes fluttering.
Britta groans. “Because you call it ‘smoking drugs’, Annie.”
“You look so pretty right now,” Abed murmurs.
Troy closes his eyes. “Bury me in my pajamas.”
Jeff groans. “You two, stop enabling each other. Britta, apologize for giving Troy a panic attack.”
“Fine.” She grits her teeth. “I’m sorry, Troy.”
“It’s okay,” he mumbles, eyes fixed on the ceiling.
“Annie,” Jeff says, “we’re sorry for not inviting you, but we did meet you right out of rehab. Can you blame us?”
Jeff rounds in on Shirley. “Everybody is safe, everybody is fine. Please stop guilting us, you have plenty of problems we don’t call you on.”
“Troy is panicking!”
“No he’s not,” Abed says evenly. Troy’s eyes are closed, his breathing slow. “And you all should be quiet.”
Jeff and Shirley back off each other, not used to Abed’s scolding. He turns to Annie. “Annie, will you please order us pizza?”
She nods cautiously, reaching for her phone. Abed leans back on his hands, head tilted up to the ceiling. “Okay. Now, can everyone please sit down and relax?” Shirley sputters, and Abed opens his eyes, gazing at her with his familiar intensity. “Please.”
Shirley is quiet for a moment before sitting delicately on the couch. “I guess, if you are all done with your… activity, I can spend some time with you all.”
Britta sits next to Shirley. “You’re not mad, are you?”
“It’s not my place to be mad, that’s the Lord’s business, Brit-ta.”
Britta smiles down at her lap. “I love you too.”
They all sit in comfortable silence, listening to Annie ordering pizza over the phone. Jeff pipes up after a few minutes. “Abed?”
“You’re sure Troy’s not really dead, right?”
Abed tilts his head down to look at his best friend. “Pretty sure.”