This story takes place after 3x16, because I felt that emotions needed to be explored. I just love this ship and I hope you enjoy this quick piece.

Processing


It was all a matter of data and input. Knowledge cross-referenced as thoroughly as possible. Everything could be boiled down to ones and zeroes.

And Abed had a LOT of information to process.

The drive home later that evening wasn't weird per se. Abed spends most of the drive reiterating exactly why "Die Hard" is a great genre movie and how disliking it essentially boils down to a lack of understanding on the viewer's part rather than a failure of the filmmakers. Troy-who had taken to driving 90% of the time-quietly taps his hands on the wheel while enthusiastically agreeing with everything Abed says. It's Annie's behavior that is a bit weird...but that isn't really the word for it, maybe sedate is more accurate. Either way she is being unusually quiet, not speaking when normally she would be politely asking questions or-on rare occasions-arguing good-naturedly with her roommates. But today she seems oddly silent, which is fraying Abed's already frazzled senses.

He hadn't had time yet to completely process all that he had learned in the Dreamatorium today. The biggest piece of data being that Annie wasn't in love with Jeff, which had contradicted more than half of his simulations to date. The most disturbing though was the sudden knowledge of how fiercely Annie wanted him in her life. It had shaken him to an emotional degree he hadn't felt since he and Troy had decided to be best friends more than two years ago. And he was still trying to get a proper handle on things.

So Annie's sudden silence wasn't really helping in that department.

What he really wanted to do was to get back into the Dreamatorium and run through the simulations again and again until he finally figured out what Annie's behavior had meant and what it would mean in the long run. He wanted to plot every timeline, chart every action, and come up with a reasonable set of possible outcomes with an algorithm to predict the most likely reality. But her words from earlier kept coming back to him ("We both need to get more comfortable with winging it") and he forced himself to resist the neurotic temptation, at least for a couple days.

But the need was still there, even through his chatter, gnawing at him the entire drive home. While Annie quietly gazed out the window.


"Hey Troy, you awake?"

It's the middle of the night. Well not technically, it's actually closer to the morning than the night but it sounds better that way.

It's the middle of the night (kinda) and Abed can't sleep.

He resisted temptation and avoided the Dreamatorium all evening, even when Troy wanted to render a few "Die Hard" simulations after getting hyped up by the conversation in the car. He had deftly declined (he couldn't help but notice Annie shooting him a quick glance) and convinced Troy that watching the movie would be a better idea. They spent the rest of the night watching "Die Hard" and "Die Hard With A Vengeance" ("Why kid ourselves, we know we are only going to enjoy those two") while Annie retreated to her bedroom, hardly saying a word.

And now it's really really really late at night and Abed can't sleep.

A thousand and one different scenarios run through his head at breakneck speeds with no way to exercise them. He is exhausted and his brain isn't cooperating, he needs to focus his thoughts (without the aid of rendered simulations) and talking to Troy is the best option he has.

"Troy, are you asleep?"

"Yes," the gruff voice replies above him.

"Are you sure?" Abed asks tentatively, enough trial and error had taught him that most people tended to get annoyed when woken up at this hour.

"Not really," he sighs. "What's up?"

Abed is quiet for a beat. "I can't sleep."

"Mmmm," Troy replies. He doesn't say anymore though, knowing Abed well enough to recognize his need to talk and knows enough to know not to push. They sit in silence for a few minutes, Troy valiantly attempting to stay awake while his best friend gathers his thoughts.

Eventually, "Do you think I'll get married?"

Of all the things that he thought Abed would say that might have been the most unexpected. Troy hesitates, not entirely sure what the right answer is, before he decides to go with the truth. "I've never really thought about it. But, yeah I guess I could see it happening. You and that FBI agent got along pretty well."

"She was Secret Service," Abed says offhandedly. "What about like a normal girl? Could you see me dating a regular girl, like one who likes terrible romantic comedies and who wears those complicated braids and who likes to buy fancy soaps at the mall?"

"I guess it depends on the girl." Troy replies carefully, aware that he is having an important conversation even if he isn't entirely sure what it is about. A lightening strike of intuition hits him and he cautiously asks, "Did something happen today when I went to lunch?"

More silence but Troy is wide awake at this point.

"I'm not sure. Maybe."

A strange thought flickers through Troy's mind. "Do you want to marry Annie?"

"I don't think so," Abed answers quietly, suddenly very much aware of the thin wall that separates his room and Annie's.

"Do you like Annie?" Troy asks, his voice hardly more than a whisper as he makes the same realization.

Abed falls silent again, longer this time. Minutes blend and then, "Maybe."

Troy feels a faint stab of jealousy that confuses him, not entirely sure if he is jealous of Annie or Abed or if it is a weird combination of the two, but it quickly passes in favor of pure curiosity. "Huh," he chuffs out, "does she like you?"

"No," he says without a hint of sadness, "I'm pretty sure she doesn't."

"Does that bother you?"

"I don't know."

"Do you want her to like you?"

"I don't know."

Troy huffs in frustration. "What do you know?"

"I don't know," Abed lets out a breath that could have been a sigh. "That's the problem. I usually know, but in this case I don't."

"That's sorta weird…"

"I know."

Troy laughs and rolls over so his head hangs off the side of the bed, suddenly facing his confused friend. Even in the dim light he can see the slight wrinkle of his brow that Abed gets when he is working something out he doesn't quite understand yet. "You don't need to know everything. It's okay to wing it sometimes."

A smile dances across his eyes but doesn't quite settle on his lips. "That seems to be the general consensus," he says under his breath.

"At some point you'll figure out whether you like her or not." He smiles down at his friend. "Either way liking someone, especially a friend, isn't really something you can just compute like a math problem; you just feel it."

"I'm not very good at that," Abed says, sounding sadder than Troy wanted to hear.

"You don't have to be buddy. No one really is; it just takes time."

"Yeah," he responds blankly.

"No, seriously man," Troy says vehemently. "Most guys are crap at realizing their feelings for girls. We are all pretty lost when it comes to stuff like that."

"Really," Abed asks hopefully.

"Really."

Abed nods, his features smoothing out to his usual neutral expression. Grinning, Troy rolls back over and settles under the covers, satisfied that his roommate will be able to sleep soon. Abed turns on his side as well, facing out towards the slight swaying of the open curtain that serves as a door. He feels his eyes become heavy and he allows them to droop. A thought flashes through his mind though and his eyes snap open as his brows furrow again. "And what if I realize I like her?" he asks into the darkness.

"Then we'll get her to like you back," Troy smirks as his eyes fall shut and he slowly starts to drift off.

Abed smiles, his body relaxing, and closes his eyes as he nuzzles deeper into his bed. "Cool. Cool cool cool."