Author's Note: Here it is, the last chapter. I almost rewrote a good chunk of it last week on a fantastic whim but I have to thank my pals snemes, The Alternative Source, & Marrrrrr for telling me not to… It would have been a lot of work to move things around anyways, & I would've hated giving up a certain something in here.
Synopsis of Ch 19: Annie & Abed make up. A lot. Like bunnies, if you catch my drift. They also have some choice conversation about their relationship & their future… Oh, y'know what? Why am I even bothering? I know you've all read Door Number Two anyways…
Important sidenote: So an offhand comment I made in my last A.N. has got me worried you guys may think I was calling you prudish if you don't like the adult segments of my story. And it also got me worried you were frightened to review for fear of hurting my feelings maybe…? I PROMISE that's not the case. It was just me being glib & I honestly didn't mean to insult anyone. Not everybody has to like what I write & I swear you never have to pull punches around me. I'm a big girl. I like to think you're not a real writer if you don't take risks—again, I realize it's fanfic, that's me being glib again—but it never seemed like a risk when I was writing & mapping out this story b/c I knew my rationale & everything seemed so logical & square in my little brain. I'm fairly confident in how I wrote Loose Ends. Otherwise I wouldn't have shared it.
My reasons for doing what I did in Ch 19:
(1) In Ch 14 Annie emotionally raped Abed. That might sound extreme but put yourself in his position & you know how you'd feel in the wake of such an ill-timed revelation. She used sex as a means of deflection & he thought they were making love openly & earnestly when she was actually distracting him & herself from a terrible secret. It was a "dark chapter". That's why in Ch 19 Annie & Abed have to have sex purely as a means of raw intimacy & emotional connection. The substance lies in the selflessness & reassurance of their lovemaking from both ends.
(2) I've been in three long term relationships & a handful of shorter lived ones in my adult life. I don't claim to be an expert on men or love but I do live w/ a man I love dearly & I am certain that what Annie did for Abed is exactly what he needed in that moment in order to break free from his insecurities & reservations. And she sensed that b/c she knows him. Annie knows Abed in such a way that nobody will ever be able to rival, not even Troy. (Which I hopefully managed to illustrate in the clash between Troy's advice & Annie's actions between Chs 17 & 18.)
(3) While I deliberately played w/ the film convention of the hero changing his mind last minute & grabbing his lover before she leaves, I can tell you that, in my experience, that particular cliché is SO TRUE to real life. You can find yourself in a terrible fight, screaming at the top of your lungs, & having reached an absolute stalemate between you & your significant other... And yes, one of you might say something that will make it all better & bring the argument to a close. But that's less likely. Chances are you'll keep putting your foot in your mouth, someone will storm out or you'll go to bed angry. That's why, more often than not, the true watershed moment comes when you tear one another's clothes off & remember exactly why you were good together in the first place. There is so much more you can express making love than you ever could talking it out & dissecting this or that. So that's why the situation called for it. You wouldn't want Abed & Annie to "overthink it". They'd just keep going around in circles. They needed that special jumpstart in order to start "winging it" & move on.
… Lastly, I promise I don't write "smut" or whatever (p.s. thanks to Greytune again for explaining to me what smut is!) just to get my rocks off. It's funny, I was talking w/ Marrrrrr just last week about how tedious it is to write about sex. It takes so long & it feels so technical to try to think of ways to describe something that feels passionate & fluid & effortless. It's nowhere near as much fun as having sex… & not even a little arousing until you look at the finished product & say, "Hmm, not bad." But I do enjoy reading about sex (far less work) so PLEASE people, write about it. Don't be afraid. Esp. w/ Abed. Trust me. It's always the quiet ones.
Anyways, it is bittersweet for me to end this story. It's funny, I can finish a book in a couple of hours but writing takes so much more time & forethought that I think it's much more mentally stimulating. I know it's only been a few months but I had so much fun writing Loose Ends & even more fun hearing from reviewers, subscribers (all 118 of you, holy sh*t!), favoriters… I know it's silly to get all emotional about something only a few thousand people were reading but it felt so flattering. There were so many different readers, & from all over the world, too… Community fans in China, who'd have thunk it? Ni hao, guys! I've loved getting to know some of you readers & I've treasured each & every review. In a strange way it feels like the end of an era...
So I've been studiously avoiding any & all Community news since the day of Dan's firing b/c I figured it was no use crying over spilled milk & that it might curb my momentum in finishing the story. But I had moles in the fanfic world who would only dish out good tidings for me. Marrrrrr was kind enough to tell me several weeks ago that they'd retained most of the writing staff which swayed me enough to tune in to Season 4. Nevertheless, I honestly fear for what may become of my favorite characters, & being able to write fanfic & exact some control regarding an alternate "timeline" has made me feel infinitely better. In my little universe everything is happily ever after.
To Ksentos, Muse #1: I can never thank you enough for the day you said, "Well, I'm back, where the heck's your new story?" You were just feisty enough to encourage the plot bunnies to come bursting through. Before I knew I had a pencil in hand & was jotting down notes. So Annie, right? I've loved getting to know you & while I'm not exactly looking forward to Season 4, I am looking forward to you & me judging it together & hissing at the screen. We can go all Abed on it, I promise. Of course, worst case scenario it might be just too painful to watch but I think w/ the right amount of cattiness we can make it work. Like a support system. And I'd take your penpalship over a trip to Paris any day, too. No lie.
To Greytune, Muse #2: How can I explain how much your wonderful PMs meant to me? That first one I got right after I'd posted Ch 2 of this story, man… And they kept coming! So elaborate & considerate. You're such a careful reader, treating all of my chapters like an AP English analysis—wait, who knows what the Swedish equivalent of AP is? It's honors level literary analysis for kids in high school over here. And believe me, you write & communicate better in English than so many Americans that I often forget that you're Swedish. Anyways, I'm so blessed for having stumbled upon your expertise. You introduced me to so many things. You taught me all the lingo when I was confused, knowing next to nothing about fanfic... all that "head canon" stuff & Livejournal posting instructions. I've earned my fangirl stripes under your guidance, & I'll always appreciate it.
To all of you, SO, SO MUCH LOVE! I would seriously hug each & every person who ever read this story if I could. Thank you for taking the time to humor a publicist who had a simple hankering to write a hookup. If I knew Door Number Two would lead me down this path six months ago, I might've backed off for fear of commitment but thank God it snuck up on me, like an unexpected plot twist. *wink*
Anonymi: Boomsdayer – I sincerely hope you didn't reach for that cigarette (try the patch, worked for my friend!) but I'm so pleased the sexy worked for ya. I always figured Annie & Abed would eventually have super hot control freak sex. The only problem w/ getting to that point is that they're both so calculating & tentative they'd have to be fairly far along in their relationship to feel uninhibited enough. You can't write the sexier sex unless you've spent those 18 (err 22?) chapters detailing the buildup. I'm happy I got to do it though. / heRieAnn – Ugh, I loathe the new comment box, too. And you are the best thing ever. I'm glad I was able to make you feel better b/c there was quite a lot of tension leading up to that, wasn't there? / Katie Moon – The part about "prose" was a meta joke (poking fun of the fact that you could never tell in a movie the story of the last 19 chapters…not enough time or depth), which Marrrrrrr caught onto, but it can also totally be a shout out to English majors! I double majored in Mass Comm & Poli Sci so I did quite a bit of writing myself in college. I'll love, love, LOVE you forever for reviewing my story. Not pervily, but preciously, if I can help it. / pleasantparker79 – You are a treasure. And yup, actually Greytune & I had a lil' bitchfest about how much we dislike Abed's mother maybe six weeks ago. Seriously—who can't pick up a phone to say they can't make Christmas? Who sends a card of their new perfect family to the child they left behind? Blech. And I can't imagine how a mother could abandon her kid either. I have a great mom. Nevertheless, I have to keep in mind we all hated Andre before we met him on the show so I'm trying not to judge the very fictional character too harshly. (Cuckoo, Cait!) I also deliberately strung together some hope that Annie can be a means for Abed & his mother to reconnect.
/ Mae – I've had that line in mind since the very beginning. So glad I got to use it! / Guest – You're an amazing reviewer. Thanks for saying such kind things about Door Number Two. I'm trying not to judge it too harshly... but I wish I'd taken my time to map it out the way I had w/ Loose Ends. / Br7nn – Well, I did miss ya last time around! But only b/c your reviews are so awesome. They are like gifts to me, I promise. Well, actually by this point Abed & Annie had already had three fights—detailed in chapters 8, 10 & 15, (15 being the most twisted). But you're absolutely right that this was their first "real" one & the fight that all those other discussions had been leading up to. See in all of those previous instances Abed had yet to engage. Not really. But then Annie broke him, & all the "anger & frustration came leaking out". Bingo, Br7nn. Bingo. That Comedy Central thing… actually I didn't think about the syndication but I guess you can call it an easter egg now, huh? I simply found it amusing that someone who seems to lack a sense of humor like Abed's father would love Comedy Central. Besides, if he can liken Britta's breasts to guided missiles the guy's gotta have a funny bone somewhere. Speaking of funny, I've read articles about how certain teenage girls who are super into Twilight do all these crazy things like throw blood drinking parties & put their sex toys in the freezer. (No offense Twilight fans, I'm sure these chicks are in a league of their own & the rest of y'all are quite sane.) So if there are teens out there doing things like that then writing bad fanfic doesn't seem like much of a stretch. In any case, I'm pleased you say the way I write sex sounds authentic b/c if it seemed less so I'd take it as a sign that I'm not as good at it as I thought I was. (J/K.) I did mean for such scenes to come off as tasteful b/c I think Abed & Annie are a classy couple. You wouldn't catch them having sex on the study room table during paintball. Nope. They're busy making out under the gorgeous orange-colored waterfall. As for writing fanfic,*sigh*, I did say never say never. Again, I'm hoping I'll feel differently someday. I am mercurial. I do love you Br7nn, & thank you SO MUCH for your reviews. They'll go a long way towards potentially changing my mind.
/ tnelson123 – Well you're another person I can't PM so I'm replying to you here b/c I wanted to tell you how much your particular review means to me. To say you fell in love w/ Annie & Abed after Door Number Two makes me quite proud. It honestly does. The more people I can lure into the ship the better I say!
And that's a wrap on the longest A.N. & story ever! God that feels good to write…
Once more w/ feeling: DONE!
Chapter 20: All's Well That Ends Well
"I'm telling you, the second Abed started yelling, his dad was smiling ear to ear," Troy said.
"Was he really?" I asked.
"Yeah. I mean first he jumped a little but then he got so happy he started acting like a completely different person. I think that's why he invited me to make falafel."
"You did a decent job," Abed remarked, picking one out of the container of Tupperware. "Balls are a little uneven, but it takes a while to get that perfect inch and a half circumference. We can practice at home."
"Oh, no you don't," I warned them. "You two in one kitchen does mix. Everything ends in a food fight."
"Those aren't fights, Annie," Troy said, rolling his eyes. "They're performance art."
"Well, why don't you guys perform your art somewhere other than our apartment? I'm always cleaning up after you."
"Yeah, well, you leave your hair in the shower drain," Troy accused me.
"What? I do not!"
"Yeah, you do. I had to run a snake already. Isn't that me cleaning up after you?"
"Hardly! You know that wasn't all me; I haven't lived in the apartment that long. And I don't shed that much hair, Troy. I'm a woman, not a wooly mammoth."
"Wooly mammoth," Abed said thoughtfully. "You know, we should watch Ice Age tonight. I'm in the mood for something lighthearted."
"Are you?" I asked, growing a little tender at the comment.
"Yeah. It just seems that with all the drama over the past two days we'd do a better job correcting the mood with some animation. We could do a Pixar versus DreamWorks night. Of course we all know which studio will ultimately win out but it would be fun to recapture the shock and momentum initially felt when DreamWorks released Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon..."
"Sounds fun," I agreed, and then I kissed him. He tasted like chickpeas and herbal seasoning and it was especially savory.
"You guys!" Troy groaned.
"What?" I breathed, my attention diverted what with my hand on Abed's neck.
"You were 'correcting the mood' all afternoon. And Pierce is laying unconscious right over there. Can you give it a rest already?"
"Troy, we're in the make-up phase," Abed said. "Annie won't be this insatiable for long. It's better to enjoy it while it lasts."
I frowned at him. "What are you talking about, 'make-up phase'? I'll always want you, Abed."
"Not this much." He shook his head. "It's statistically significant."
"I liked you guys better when you were single," Troy muttered. "I don't know what's worse: Abed unleashed or Annie unfiltered."
"I don't have to filter in front of you," I said dismissively. "We're in love. And you're the matchmaker."
"No, I'm not."
"Um, yeah you are. You helped me win him back. You knew what you were in for, Troy."
Troy glared at me and I think he was preparing another objection when we heard two raps on the half-opened door.
"Knock, knock," Shirley chirped.
"You're here," I said, letting go of Abed and rising up to give her a hug. "We're keeping it down actually. He's still pretty out of it," I whispered, motioning to an inanimate Pierce snoring loudly with an IV in his forearm.
"How is he?"
"Hard to tell. He hasn't woken up yet," Troy said.
"Aw," Shirley said, setting down her block of a purse on an empty chair. "Wow, he looks so mild-tempered and unobjectionable when he's asleep, doesn't he?"
"The effects of heavy sedation," Abed said.
"Oh, Abed, how are you?" Shirley asked, reaching down and patting his back. "Andre and I were so worried when we got Troy's calls. Was everything clay-mation again? Why'd you leave without telling anyone?"
"Nothing was stop motion," he told her. "Everything stayed flesh-colored and three-dimensional. Maybe even four-dimensional. It was sort of the reverse of last year. It got a little too real there for a second."
I squeezed his hand again. "Everything's better now," I said happily. "It was a… what did you call it Abed?"
"Growing Pains Episode," he answered. "So coined after the lackluster sitcom. It lures you in with all the potential heavy but then it quietly reverts to everyday happenstance. I'm sorry to have worried you, Shirley. I'm fine now."
"Good to hear it," Britta commented, sticking a toe in the room and waving a plastic bag. "How are you guys doing?" she hissed loudly, seeing Pierce sleeping. "Are you hungry? I brought snacks."
"Snacks?" Troy sat up, clearly excited not merely about the snacks but the curly blond ringlets bouncing below the doorframe.
"Yeah. I took a tip from Shirley and hit the store. I brought organic popcorn for Abed, some gelatin free candy for you—no pigs were harmed so it's fine for Annie and Abed, too, oh, and some mixed nuts for everyone else. Carrots and celery for me," she said, opening a zip lock bag with relish. "Annie, you want some?"
"No thank you," I said. While I was pleased the girls had finally arrived, I was rather annoyed now that I'd no longer be able to kiss Abed. Lord knows he tasted better than a stick of celery. "Can I have some more falafel?"
Abed handed me the Tupperware container and I nearly dropped it when Pierce gave a loud groan. It sounded painful and Troy and Abed got up immediately and assumed position next to the bed. The room was at a hush while all five of us watched Pierce's eyes crack open. He blinked once. Twice. Then he turned his head, took one look at Troy and Abed and yelled, "SECURITY!"
"Pierce, it's okay," Abed said, setting his hand on Pierce's arm. "It's us."
Pierce's eyes and nostrils flared wider. "Baah!"
"Pierce!" I said sharply, rushing over. "It's okay. It's only us. It's only Troy and Abed."
"Troy and Abed at your BED-side!" the boys sang.
Pierce was still breathing heavily through his panic as I explained, "They practiced that in the car."
"Annie?" Pierce asked, his voice a little weak.
"It's me." I walked to the other side of the bed and dropped a kiss on the top of his head. "How are you feeling?"
"I don't know," he muttered, looking both chagrined and flattered at all of the attention. "Thirsty, I guess…"
"Well, lucky for you I brought water," I said, unscrewing the top of a bottle I had at the ready.
"You gave us all quite a scare the other day," Shirley said, joining me at the opposite of the room. "We kept calling. The nurses said you needed to sleep it off. I was here for almost forty minutes yesterday and you hardly moved at all."
"It was the drugs," Pierce grumbled. "I told them not to stick that thing in my arm. Chang wouldn't listen."
I frowned. "Chang?"
"Yes, Chang. He's moonlighting as an emergency room doctor now. He's trying to kill me, Annie. You have to stop him!"
Shirley and I shared a significant look.
"Should I get the nurse?" Britta asked. She was closest to the door.
"Yes," I decided. "Right away if you can fetch one. This isn't a good sign."
Britta was about to leave when she suddenly released a high-pitched squeal that drew everyone's attention. All eyes were focused on her when Ben Chang walked into the room, a clipboard in his hand and a white coat on his back. "How's everybody doing?" he asked, smiling. "I assume you're all Mr. Hawthorne's friends…?"
Troy nudged Abed with this shoulder. "Et-gay urity-se-kay," he muttered.
"Still not quite right," I told Troy, and then I took a step closer to Pierce to protect him. "Shirley, Pierce was right. Get security," I said loudly.
Shirley strut forward, her eyes narrowed. "Ben Chang, if you don't get out of this room this instant I will personally escort you back to prison. And you'd better believe I'll leave you in there this time."
"Ben Chang?" Chang repeated, his smiled faltering. "There's that name again. Mr. Hawthorne keeps yelling it. We wanted to believe it was the influence of the drugs but they should be well flushed out of his system by now. We think he's suffering a psychotic break."
"You're the psychotic one!" Pierce shouted, raising his arms and trying to sit up. "First Shirley, now me? Get him, Troy! Get him right now!"
Troy leapt across the room and already had two hands fisted in either side of Chang's coat when Jeff shouted, "Wait, wait, wait—Troy, stop! That's not Ben Chang. That's Dr. Ken Yun."
"What?" Troy let go immediately and Chang almost slid to the floor. Jeff stepped into the room and helped prop the shaking man back up.
"This is not Ben Chang," he said again, one hand clapped on the doctor's shoulder. "This is Dr. Yun. I met him yesterday night. For a second there I almost lost it, too, but he's not Chang. He really isn't. Just look at his eyes."
Everyone peered closer and we realized that the manic gleam that so defined Ben Chang was not present behind Dr. Yun's wire-rimmed spectacles. This man didn't only look sane, he seemed kind. And not a little frightened.
"Mr. Winger…" Dr. Yun looked up fitfully. "Who is this Ben Chang? Why do I keep hearing so much about him?"
"It's a long story," Jeff sighed. "I probably should've warned you last night but I wasn't in the mood to get into it."
"So that's—" Pierce trembled, pointing, "—that's not Chang?"
"No, Pierce," Jeff said firmly. "It's Dr. Yun. He's been working here at Greendale Hospital for twelve years. He's an internist and he got his degree from UCLA Medical School. Believe me, I looked it up. I wouldn't have left you here if I hadn't been absolutely certain he is who he says he is."
"Oh," Pierce said sheepishly, relaxing in full.
"I'm so sorry, Doctor," I said, my face aflush with mortification. "It's just you happen to look a lot like someone we know…"
"And fear," Britta added.
"A case of mistaken identity," Abed piped up, smiling happily. "This is a classic TV trope. The serious stranger who just so happens to resemble a whacky side character? Sometimes it's vice versa but this is really the better twist. And it's brilliant, isn't it, Annie? A sign the universe is back in order."
"What?" Dr. Yun asked, looking at Abed as though he was insane.
"I'm sorry," I said again. "My boyfriend is really into television."
"Are any more of you dropping by?" Dr. Yun asked tiredly, shaking his head. "I really don't want to be mistaken for this Mr. Chang again and there's a limit as to how many visitors can be in a room."
"No, this is it, actually," Shirley said, her voice a little proud. "This is all of us."
"And Pierce isn't crazy," I said. "He's definitely not having a psychotic break. You really do happen to look a lot like this Chang person. And I think it would be better if you didn't sedate him for a while. If all he needs are liquids and rest then we'd like to take him home as soon as possible. I'm more than willing to look after him for however long it takes."
"Well…" Dr. Yun paused, eying the new and improved Pierce who was lying placidly against the bed cushions, "I'll have to order a brief psychiatric evaluation, of course, but… provided it goes well, there's no reason why we shouldn't have Mr. Hawthorne up and running in a day or less. He's recovering quite nicely. Who did you say you are, Miss?"
"She's my—" Pierce began.
"Daughter," I interrupted. "I'm his daughter. Surrogate really, but daughter just the same."
"Me, too," Britta blurted just as suddenly. And she walked over and behind me to set a hand on Pierce's shoulder.
Pierce grew uncharacteristically quiet and his eyes filled with unshed tears as the mood in the room softened. Dr. Yun looked at the three of us and smiled understandingly.
"I'll come back to check on Mr. Hawthorne later," he said. "And I'll make sure to have the hospital give you a call when he's ready to be discharged. Leave your information with administration, all right?"
He left the room and the second he did my eyes shifted from the doorway and darted towards Jeff and Abed. Nobody besides me and Troy fully realized the significance or their reunion, but Jeff was doing a good job of looking incredibly ansty all by himself.
"Thanks for texting me," he said quietly, meeting Abed's eye. "I wouldn't have wanted to miss this."
"I wouldn't have wanted you to either," Abed replied, cool and unbothered.
Jeff swallowed and I could feel Britta and Shirley's confusion from either side of me. He reached inside of his jacket and pulled out a piece of paper. It was worn and creased and anybody could see that he'd opened and refolded it dozens of times.
"I hope you don't mind," Jeff said, "I prepared a small statement…"
Abed's brow furrowed in surprise and so did mine as Jeff began to read.
"Abed Nadir," he started off, his eyes glued to the sheet, "you are the strangest, coolest, most genuine person I've ever met. You walk around pretending like you don't know left from right, and yet you're still ahead of the game at every turn. You tell us you'd change for us, but you already know we wouldn't have you any other way…" Jeff's voice broke for a second but then he cleared his throat and looked up, his expression and affect changing entirely.
"So I'm not gonna sit here and blow sunshine up your ass, Lieutenant," he said sternly. "A good pilot is compelled to evaluate what's happened, so he can apply what he's learned. And what I've learned here is that screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place, and I think I was in a place where I wanted to make things perfect and I feared I'd missed my shot. And the thing that killed me Abed is that I could've had class. I could've been a contender. I could've been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am," he finished more tepidly.
"Anyways… after that it got pretty late and we both had to go… but it was great seeing Annie again. I realized what a terrific person she is and how fun it was just getting to know her. And it reminds me of that old joke: A guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doc, my brother's crazy. He thinks he's a chicken'. And the doc says, 'Well, why don't you turn him in?' The guy says, 'I would… but I need the eggs.' And that's pretty much how I feel about relationships, Abed. They're totally irrational, crazy, absurd… but I guess we keep going through it because… because most of us need the eggs."
Jeff paused for a second and he and Abed stared at one another. I could see that despite the lack of movement on his face Abed was deeply affected. His eyes were gleaming and he seemed to be hanging on Jeff's every word.
"Love means never having to say you're sorry," Jeff continued, his throat a little gravelly, "but I am, Abed. I am truly and deeply sorry. For getting all nobody puts Baby in a corner. For thinking I'm king of the world. For acting like I'm Steve Martin in some low-budget, half-assed, wholly pretentious Indie flick. Because the Steve Martins of this world can never be the Bill Murrays, Abed. And there is no fate but what we make for ourselves...
"The bottom line is," Jeff stopped reading and crumpled the paper in his fist, "you make me want to be a better man."
Abed's lips crooked up and a decidedly feminine look came over his face. "That's maybe the best compliment of my life," he cooed.
"What the hell is going on?" Pierce barked loudly.
"Well, Top Gun, The Breakfast Club, On The Waterfront, Annie Hall, Love Story, Dirty Dancing, Titanic, and Terminator 2. Now it's As Good At It Gets," Troy said, all in a rush. He'd taken a seat again and was munching on the bag of popcorn Britta had brought.
"More like as gay as it gets," Pierce said, frustrated. "Why do you guys have to be so weird all the time? Why can't you try and make sense for once? I always feel like I'm out of the loop!"
"Come to think of it," Abed said, turning around, "Pierce actually is our very own Melvin Udall. I was writing him off as the 21st century's answer to Archie Bunker but he's far too nuanced for that, isn't he? Man… there's a lot of material that's been going to waste because I'd yet to make the connection…"
"I am no such thing! Stop it with the gay code. Just stop it! Annie, make them stop!"
"All right, you guys," I said, although I couldn't quite wipe the smile on my face. "Maybe that's enough movie talk for the day. This is Pierce's visit. Why not make things all about him for once?"
Everybody turned again to see Dean Pelton saunter into the room with a gigantic gift basket on his right arm.
"How is everyoneeeeee?" he drawled, pushing past Jeff and Abed to set his basket alongside the balloons and other gifts. "I've been waiting for a while for you guys to show up. It seems we just keep missing each other, don't we?" he tsked, hands on hips.
"Waiting for us?" Britta questioned. "You've been here?"
"Pretty much on and off the past forty-eight hours. I came as soon as I was notified."
"Notified? Who notified you?" Shirley asked suspiciously.
"Oh, I had myself added to Pierce's in case of emergency contact list. I'm on all of yours', actually. Certain students get certain privileges. As do I as your dean," he added sharply, wagging his finger at the seven of us. "You all signed a statement agreeing to my stewardship and your nondisclosure by enrolling at Greendale in the fall of '09."
"Is there any part of my soul I didn't sign away that day?" Jeff groaned lamentably.
"Wait a second, so you've been here?" Pierce asked, a little dismayed.
"All night lo-o-ng!" Dean Pelton said, bouncing. "Who do you think brought you that?" He gestured.
Pierce turned his head again to see a stuffed dalmation sitting on his nightstand. "Baah!"
"I watched you sleep," the Dean was saying. "Sang you a couple of lullabies... At one point I put on a little house music to entertain myself but then the nurse ushered me out. Some people can't take a party," he finished begrudgingly.
"Annie," Pierce whimpered.
"It's all right," I soothed. "I'll see what I can do about getting you out of here earlier, Pierce. I think Britta has some connections. Britta, didn't you say you know someone on staff?"
"Actually, I may have oversold that," Britta said, frowning. "He said he was a doctor but I ran into him downstairs and he turned out to be just an orderly. Last time I let some stranger with a stethoscope con me into bed. No wonder he never called me back."
"So you're into stethoscopes," Troy said under his breath. "That's pretty kinky…"
Shirley glowered at the two of them. "Don't you start. I saw you the two of you canoodling at the mall last Sunday. And in public, no less!"
Abed and I each turned to give Troy and Britta a pointed look.
"We weren't canoodling," Britta sputtered, her face a little pink. "We were just… testing that chair out. It was the floor model! That's what it's there for."
"It has seven speeds!" Troy said excitedly. "You just sit there and all of a sudden this huge—"
"Troy, don't!" I cut him off.
"Oh, now look who doesn't want details?" he snarked.
"Jeffrey," The Dean said abruptly, "speaking of the mall, I didn't catch you at the sale at Barney's the other day."
"I was a little busy escorting my sick friend to the hospital," Jeff said. "And thanks to you I've taken an interest in online shopping."
"Oh now, Jeffrey," Dean Pelton simpered, laying his hands upon Jeff's washboard stomach, "you know that's really not the best option for a man of your size and sta—" he stopped short, his eyes landing on Abed. "And…" he trailed off, his jaw slackening.
"Abed," he said then, his voice dripping with curiosity, "is it just me or is there something… different about you?"
"Different?" Abed repeated, cocking his head.
"Something is different, isn't it?" His hands slid off Jeff and he turned entirely, giving Abed his full attention. "You seem taller for some reason. More… confident. Have you been working out?"
Abed's eyes widened and he was looking quite alarmed when Troy suddenly guffawed, "Oh, wait, wait, wait—I got it! Classic TV trope number two: Abed has stolen Jeff's mojo!"
"Mojo?" Jeff repeated, befuddled. "What the hell is a mojo?"
"I think it's an STD," Britta said, wrinkling her nose. "I'm pretty sure my roommate had it…"
"Oh now you people don't know what you're talking about," Shirley told them. "The mojo—that's Austin Powers right there. I have the whole trilogy on boxset. Now that's classic filmmaking."
Abed gave Shirley a pained look. "Actually, while the concept of 'mojo' is best known thanks to Mike Myers' wildly uneven and poorly segmented satire, it's not entirely circumscribed to film. But it would be tacky and in bad taste to revisit the issue of my stealing Jeff's mojo now. That ground was already well covered first season with the chicken fingers episode."
"Exactly!" Troy exclaimed, pointing to me. "Annie's a chicken finger."
"I am not a chicken finger!" I said haughtily. "Honestly, Troy, do you ever even think about what you say before you say it?"
"Will someone please explain to me what the hell is going on?" Pierce shouted.
All in all, it made for a very interesting night.