"Good afternoon, students of Greendale!" boomed the intercom of the school. "Dean Pelton here, just letting you all know that the last of the howler monkeys has just been tranquilized, so we'll able to start scrubbing the feces off the walls of our school from their territory war! For the time being, continue to watch where you sit! And step! And, well, to be honest, a lot of it is still on the ceilings, so just make sure you aren't underneath when it drops."
Jeff pinched the brow of his nose as the rest of the study group filed into the room. "Just once, I would like to go one week without anything weird happening. All those years I faked being a lawyer were useless preparing me for the crazy crap that goes on here."
Annie sighed, smiling. "But Jeff, you're a hero! You were able to calm the monkeys in the gym long enough for the gas to knock them out!"
Britta sulked. "There are far more humane ways to control animals. Did you know that every day, hundreds of animals are killed by-"
"Quiet, Britta!" Jeff yelled. "No more talk of this! For one week, I just want things to be normal. No wacky adventures, no crazy misunderstandings, just a single week of perfectly average community college. Can we all agree on that?"
Pierce shook his head. "This place wasn't nearly as fun before you all showed up. For a long time, I had to entertain myself by hiding in the art room every night waiting for-"
"No!" Jeff yelled.
Annie glared at him. "Jeff, I know you're stressed, but you could at least let people finish their sentences!"
"Like I care." Jeff scowled.
Shirley looked around the table and noticed an empty chair. "Where's Abed? It's not like him to be late for the study session."
Troy rubbed his chin. "Come to think of it, he's been going out a lot lately. I wonder what he's been up to."
Jeff took a deep breath to calm himself. "I'm sure he's just in the bathroom or something. Wherever he's been, I doubt it's interesting. Let's just open our books and get to studying."
Just as Jeff said that, Abed walked outside the doorway with a male student the group had never seen before. They said goodbye, and then did what appeared to be a fist bump. As Abed walked into the room, the group noticed that he was wearing a white shirt with a black-and-white cartoon pegasus on it with the word "BRONY" in bold.
"Sorry I'm late, guys," he said, sitting down. "Did I miss anything of interest?"
The group looked at him in silence.
Jeff bit his lip. "Abed, what
Give me some rope, tie me to dream
Give me the hope to run out of steam
Somebody said, it can be here
We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year
I can't count the reasons I should stay
One by one they all just fade away
in the world are you wearing?"
Abed looked down. "Oh, this is just a Brony shirt."
Shirley's eyes were intently focused on the cartoon pegasus. "Abed? What is a 'Bro-ney'?"
Abed looked at her. "It's a combination of 'bro' and 'pony'. It's what you call adult male fans of My Little Pony."
Jeff grabbed his head in his hands. "Do you have even the slightest idea of how WRONG that is?"
Abed pointed towards Britta, Troy, and Annie. "Doesn't seem to bother them."
Jeff raised his arms and looked at Abed's roommates. "You KNEW about this?!"
Troy frowned. "I share a room with him. It's kind of hard to avoid. Every night I hear him singing himself to sleep. My Little Pony, My Little Po-UGH!" Troy closed his eyes and slapped his head. "I don't even like the show and it's stuck in my head!"
Annie awkwardly spoke up, looking from side to side. "Well, I see him watching it from time to time, but I kind of just kept it to myself..."
Shirley continued staring directly at the Brony shirt. "Abed, I honestly had no idea you were... you know..."
"I'm not gay, Shirley," Abed replied. "It's just a show that I like."
Britta stood up. "I for one am proud of him. For far too long our society has been split by what is considered 'masculine' and 'feminine'. Abed is taking a stand and challenging our beliefs. Isn't that exactly what this country needs?"
Pierce agreed. "She's right. Leave the poor guy alone."
The study group looked at Pierce. Britta smiled. "Wow Pierce, I never expected you to be on my side for this one!"
Pierce laughed. "I've been around. I've had tons of crazy fetishes throughout my life. Aye-bed here is no different!"
The group groaned as Britta sat down.
Shirley frowned. "I'll tell you what I think. Guys should stick to guy things and girls should stick to girl things. I'm not having my boys watch this show."
Abed looked at her. "Actually, it's airing right now. Your kids could be watching it at home."
Shirley's eyes opened wide. "Excuse me." She quickly got up, grabbed her purse, and hurried out the door of the study group.
Jeff stood up and addressed the study group. "I think we're all missing the point here. Abed, a grown man in college, is wearing a T-shirt in public about a show intended for five year-old girls. And he does it without even the slightest sense of shame or irony!"
The table fell silent. Jeff sat back down. Everyone awkwardly pretended to look through their books, not making eye contact with each other.
Pierce leaned over to Abed and whispered, unaware the rest of the group could hear. "If you're really into horses, I know a guy..."
"I'm out!" Jeff yelled, slamming his textbook shut and walking out the door.
"Hey Annie!" Troy yelled from the couch in their apartment. "How much longer until the pizza's done cooking?"
"You know," she yelled from her room, "you could just get up and check the timer yourself!"
"I can't," he yelled back. "I'm trying to figure out what Abed likes about this show so much."
Annie came out of the room and looked at the TV. "Are they having a fashion show? The yellow one's green dress is kind of cute..."
"Earlier they were singing a song about winter. I'm not exactly feeling manly right now," Troy responded.
"How many episodes have you watched today?" she asked.
"Just a few," he responded. "Abed wasn't here when I got back from school, so I thought I'd try it out in the meantime."
"Troy?" Annie asked, worried.
"What's up?" he replied.
"We got back five hours ago."
Troy looked at the clock. "Son of a-"
"Oh, the food's done!" Annie hurried over to the kitchen and took the pizza out of the oven. After setting it down, she fanned her face with her hand. "I forgot how hot it gets."
Troy laughed. "It needs to be about twenty percent cooler."
Annie looked dumbfounded. "What?"
"Oh! It's this line that Rainbow Dash said when Rarity-" Troy's eyes widened. "Oh god, I'm becoming a... a..."
"Don't say it!" Annie screamed, running back to the living room.
Troy stood up and looked at Annie straight in the eye. "No matter what happens, we can't let Abed find out about this. If he does, then he'll-"
They heard someone walk outside their door and jangle their keys. Troy and Annie looked at each other, then ran around the apartment.
"The remote! Where is it?!" Troy yelled.
"I can't find it!" Annie eyes scanned the room. "Turn the TV off by hand!"
Troy looked towards the door. "It's too late."
The door to their apartment opened to reveal Britta. Troy and Annie sighed in relief.
"What's going on?" Britta asked, confused.
Troy explained. "We thought you were Abed. We didn't want him to walk in on us watching My Little Pony."
Britta looked at the TV and laughed. "See, this is the problem! Annie and I aren't afraid to watch 'manly' things, but as soon as you discover you like a so called 'girly' show, you have an identity crisis."
"You watch it, then!" Troy rebutted.
"Oh hell no," Britta replied. "I've spent my whole life trying to avoid being girly. I'm not letting a dumb cartoon convince me otherwise." Britta went into her room. "Have fun!" she called out.
Troy looked back at the TV, now displaying the DVD menu. "I wonder how much longer Abed will be out."
"I have no idea," Annie said. The two remained silent for a moment.
Troy looked back at her, pointing at the TV. "You start the next episode, I'll double-bolt the lock in case he comes home."
"Well, I hope Abed's happy!" Shirley said, sitting down in the lunchroom with the study group. "Last night one of my boys was jumping around the house claiming to be 'Pinkie Pie'! I told them I didn't want them watching any more girly shows, and now I have two unhappy kids!"
Jeff calmly put down his soda. "Shirley, do you remember what I said yesterday about wanting just one week of normal school?" His demeanor quickly turned sour. "That's hard to do when you keep talking about ponies!" he said, slamming his fist on the table.
"Come on, Jeff," Troy said. "The show's not that-"
Jeff glared at him. Troy quieted down.
Britta looked around. "Where is Abed, anyway?"
Pierce pointed towards the other side of the room. "He's over there with his fellow deviants."
The group turned to where he pointed. Abed sat at a table with some students they had never met, including the boy they saw with him the previous day.
Annie looked back at Pierce. "'Fellow deviants'?"
Shirley looked straight at Pierce and pointed towards Abed's table. "Are you telling me all those boys over there watch a little girl's show?"
Jeff buried his face in his hands. "So Abed's not just some lone freak. He's surrounding himself WITH freaks. People who watch My Little Pony as a pastime! And they hang out in public!" Jeff closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "You know what? I'm not going to bother with this. Abed and these... 'bronies', ugh, I hate that word... can go and live in their own little world, as long as it does not involve me."
"You just don't get it, do you, Jeff?" Britta snarked. "These people know that society is judging them for liking something different, and yet they aren't afraid to stand up for who they are!"
Jeff looked directly at her. "You know Abed. He spends so much time caught up in his pop culture that he can barely distinguish reality from fiction. You live with him. You know that all he does is stay inside and watch TV. Do you really think these bro-" Jeff rolled his eyes. "...like-minded people... are going to be any different?
Annie stood up. "You know what? I'm going to talk to them."
Troy stood up with her. "Me too. Abed's our friend. If he's making new friends, I want to meet them."
As the two of them walked off, Pierce called out. "If you shake hands, remember to wash them afterwards!"
As Annie and Troy approached the table, they saw that Abed had his laptop out, talking to his friend as he typed. "I was thinking that Constable Reggie and Spike would have a kind of buddy duo thing going on, considering they're both sidekicks to the main characters."
His friend agreed. "Though we'll have to draw the line there. After that, the cast will get too crowded."
"What are you guys talking about?" Troy asked.
Abed apologized but continued typing on his computer. "I'm sorry, Troy. Tyler and I have been so busy working on this fanfiction that I forgot to meet up with you guys for lunch."
"Fanfiction?" Annie asked, looking freaked out. "Isn't that where people write stories about characters... you know..."
"Not all fanfics are like that," Tyler added. "In this case, we're just working on a My Little Pony and Inspector Spacetime crossover."
"Inspector Spacetime?!" Troy's face lit up for a moment, before becoming confused. "Wait, how would that even work? He's not a pony."
Abed continued looking at his computer. "He's not, but one of the background ponies in the show resembles the actor who plays Inspector Spacetime, so the fans decided to name him 'Inspector Spacehoof'. Opens up all sorts of possibilities."
Annie awkwardly looked around. "Sounds, um, interesting..." She walked around the table to see what a boy was drawing on a notepad. "Is that Fluttershy?"
"Mm-hm" he replied.
On the page, Annie saw a sweet-looking scene between a yellow-furred pony and her white rabbit. "This is really good! Do you draw a lot?"
He looked up from his page. "I have my sketchbook right here if you want to look through it." Annie sat down at the table with him while Troy conversed with Abed and Tyler about the fanfic.
Back at the study group's table, Britta smiled and looked back at Jeff. "See? They're making new friends too. You should try opening up sometime."
Jeff glared at her. "Your little 'love and tolerate' speech isn't going to work on me, you know."
Shirley looked down at her purse. "Maybe if Troy and Annie like it too, then maybe it's not so bad after all..."
Pierce grinned. "Everyone's different, Jeff! You just have to understand that some people are into different things than you!"
"Pierce, if that came out of any mouth other than yours, it would sound reasonable." Jeff snarked. "All I want is a simple week of nothing weird happening, okay? I just want to sit here and eat my dinner like every other student."
Just as he said that, a piece of monkey excrement fell onto his plate. Jeff pushed his chair out, got up, and walked away.
"So you see," Abed explained to Shirley in the study room, "Rarity worked hard to make dresses that her friends would enjoy, but none of them really understood her genius until they tried designing their own dresses and failing miserably."
"Really?" Shirley replied. "Well, I certainly know the feeling of making brownies and foods that nobody ever seems to try..." She looked down at the table. "Maybe letting my boys watch this show after all won't be so bad after all..."
"This sounds so lame and girly," Pierce complained. "I need something with more action! Something to really get me riled up!"
Troy folded his arms. "Well there was this one time Fluttershy snapped a bear's neck."
Pierce laughed. "That's what I'm talking about! A horse snuff film? Man, the crazy crap they come up with these days..."
"Interesting..." Britta said, taking notes. "This is all great material for my psyche paper. Keep talking, guys!"
Jeff shouted. "All we have done tonight is talk about ponies! I am sick of hearing about it! If another one of you mentions one thing pony-related again, I am punching you in the face!"
"Hello, everypony!" Dean Pelton said, walking in in a full-length pink costume. His sleeves didn't open, and instead merely had hooves at the end. Three balloons were drawn on the sides of his hips. He stood next to the table and stuck his arm out. "Brohoof, anyone?" Nobody responded to his invitation. "No? Well, okay then!" He retracted his arm. "Just wanted to let everypony know that tomorrow at 7:00 is Greendale's very first 'Brony Bash'! Every student is invited, and I dropped in to personally invite you seven!"
Jeff facepalmed. "You have GOT to be kidding me. It's not enough that people just talk about the show? We have to CELEBRATE it? And it's sponsored by the school? What in the hell are you doing with your time?!"
"Oh Jeff!" the Dean laughed, putting his hand on Jeff's shoulder. "Looks like someone is a Parasprite today! I promise you, just come tomorrow and you'll smile, smile, smile! Well everypony, I have to go spread the love. I bet Abed can tell you all about it now that I've spoiled the surprise!" The Dean walked out saying, "Tootaloo! Or should I say, SCOO-taloo! Hahaha!" After he exited, the group saw him happily bouncing up and down through the windows of the study room.
Troy looked at Abed. "There's a Brony party on campus and you didn't tell us?"
"You didn't seem very interested until these last few days," Abed replied.
"Well we're interested now!" Annie exclaimed. "I bet it'd be a lot of fun, right guys?"
Britta, Shirley, and Pierce nodded their heads and murmured agreements.
Jeff was outraged. "What is WRONG with you?! You saw how the Dean was just dressed! That party is going to be attended by a bunch of freaks! Not to mention every party at this school blows! The Halloween that nobody remembers, the STD fair, the end-of-year celebrations that wind up turning into massive paintball fights..." He turned his head directly towards Abed. "Look, I'm saying this as your friend: don't go. You'll just wind up making an embarrassment of yourself. I can't stop you from watching a TV show intended for little girls, but actually socializing with these weirdos is a line I don't want you to cross."
Abed looked back at him. "If I don't go, then there won't be a party. I'm the one running it."
The study group gasped happily, with the exception of Jeff, whose sat there with his mouth agape.
Troy's eyes widened in revelation. "So THAT's why you've been gone so much lately! You've been preparing for the Brony Bash!"
Britta smiled. "That's very responsible of you, Abed! Going out of your way to bring like-minded people together in spite of all the societal pressures! Much more mature than SOME people I know..." She frowned at Jeff.
Pierce shook his head as he laughed. "This will be the craziest orgy I've ever seen!"
Jeff shook himself out of his daze. "So here I am, sitting at a table with the king of the weirdos. I don't know what Abed's done to make you all think that grown men watching cartoons for little girls is okay, but I've had enough of this." He got out of his seat. "You all can go to your girly 'Brony' party, GOD I hate myself for using that word, and leave me out of this nonsense!" Jeff stormed out of the room.
The study group looked at each other in silence until Shirley broke it. "So Abed, what kind of activities are planned for the party?"
"Well, we've downloaded several songs from the show that the fans have remixed," he replied, "and a lot of people are bringing baked goods like cupcakes for everyone to enjoy."
"Ooh, that's nice!" Shirley smiled.
The following night, the speakers boomed "WUB WUB" at the Brony Bash. A DJ with a spiky blue wig and purple shades manned the stereo system. Tables were filled with piles of snacks and baked goods, including some cupcakes with green food coloring with gummy worms sticking out of them. Balloons featuring ponies from the TV show were hung everywhere. A table was set up featuring various toys based on the series that students could win in a raffle.
It was not the largest party that Greendale had thrown, but the sheer number of people there surprised the study group. Many attendees wore fake ears and wigs, as well as plastic wings or a unicorn horn. Some people went more in-depth, donning a cowboy hat, or a pink dress that looked handmade.
Off in one corner, the Dean wore the same outfit as the previous day. He approached a familiar face. "Senior Chang, how good to see you again!"
"You too, Dean! I love your costume!" Chang replied.
The Dean looked at Chang's costume as well. He was dressed in all black, including black face paint. He wore horns, and several green spots were painted onto his lower clothes. "Are you dressed as a Changeling?"
"Not quite," Chang replied. "I'm a CHANG-ling!"
At the entrance, Abed walked up and greeted the study group, most of whom had arrived together. "Nice to see you all made it. I noticed you brought your kids, Shirley."
"Oh yes," she replied. "I told them I wanted to make it up to them for saying I wouldn't let them watch it. I'm glad you organized this just in time! Boys? Can you say thank-you to Abed for running this party?"
"Thank you, Abed!" the boys said before running off to explore, their mother struggling to keep up with them.
"I've seen some crazy things in my day," Pierce remarked, "but this really takes the cake! Speaking of which..." Pierce headed over to the snack table.
"I had no idea so many people were into the show..." Annie watched the partygoers wide-eyed. "I wonder why this attracted so many people from our school..."
"That's because the people from Greendale are freaks." Annie, Abed, and Britta turned around and saw Jeff, standing by the entrance. Annie was about to say something, but Abed pulled her away at the same moment.
Britta walked up to him and smirked. "Well, well. Look who decided to show up."
"Don't act so smug," Jeff snarked. "I'm only here to see the train wreck in action."
Britta rolled her eyes. "Right. You can tell from all the partying and dancing that this crowd is filled with a bunch of losers. Look at Troy over there, dancing. What a freak."
Jeff looked over to the dance floor, where Troy was hand in hand with a girl in a purple wig with a pink stripe in it. "Every person in here is a mental case waiting to happen. You can hide and try to pretend you're 'normal', but deep inside, they all know that if they pulled this at a school that's NOT as messed-up as Greendale that they'd be laughed back to their dorms."
"Alright Jeff," Britta replied. "I'm gonna ask the DJ what other songs he has. You stand here acting all cool, secure in the knowledge that you're the only one here not having fun."
Britta walked off and Jeff watched the party from the distance, scowling. After a few minutes, a song stopped, and Abed had stepped onto the podium. He spoke into a microphone to address the crowd.
"Good evening, Bronies! Now that everything's underway, I'd like to officially welcome you all to the Greendale Brony Bash!" The crowd applauded. "I've been a Brony for a while now, but only recently I decided to seek out others. I found some fellow Bronies here at school, and we realized that we needed a gathering that we could really call our own.
"I would especially like to thank my friends for being here with me, despite not being Bronies themselves. Raise your hands, guys!" The other members of the study group raised their hands, with the exception of Jeff, and were rewarded with applause. "Because of this fandom, I've gained more friends, a renewed interest in reading and writing, and the knowledge that know matter how weird I am, there are people out there willing to accept me for it. So enjoy your cupcakes, enjoy your dubsteb, and stay tuned for the raffle!"
The crowd cheered, and the music resumed. Abed put the microphone back on the stand and went back to his new friends. Jeff looked around. Pierce was trying to chew up a gummy worm to the amusement of some fellow students. Annie and Troy danced on the floor. Shirley stood with her children as they looked at the toys and art available in the raffle. Britta wore a set of headphones next to the DJ. Jeff sighed and walked towards the podium. He picked up the microphone and motioned to the DJ to cut the song. When the music stopped, Britta looked towards him, terrified.
"My name is Jeff, and I am NOT a Brony." The crowd fell silent. "However, I AM a friend. If you told me a week ago that I'd be attending a 'My Little Pony' party... well, I probably would have been too busy dealing with the howler monkeys to bother responding to you." A few students in the crowd laughed nervously. "But over the past few days, I've realized something. It doesn't matter if you're into ponies or time travel or whatever. I was worried about things getting too weird, but I've decided that the only reason it got weird was because I MADE it weird. As long as you're a good person, and you're willing to forgive someone who doesn't quite 'get' it, then you're alright being my friend." Jeff looked straight at Abed, and the crowd cheered. He put down the mic and stepped off the podium. The music started back up.
Abed approached him. "Thanks, Jeff."
"Don't mention it," he responded.
Abed continued. "When I wore that shirt the other day, I had a feeling that I might be stirring up trouble within the study group. But I realized that if I wanted to wear a shirt, I should just wear it, and not care what others think. Besides, it seems to have worked out well in the end."
Jeff looked around the party and saw everyone enjoying themselves as normal. He felt someone tap on his shoulder from behind. He turned and saw a cute girl with a rainbow-colored wig smiling at him.
"I really liked your speech," she said. "It almost sounded like one of Twilight's letters to Princess Celestia."
Jeff looked over at Abed, who nodded at him and walked away. Jeff turned back to the girl. "Well, it's kind of become habit for me. Why, does she make speeches like that a lot, too?" The girl laughed and told him all about the show.
Over by the snack table, Pierce made small talk with some of his new Brony friends. "So what kind of positions can horses do? I don't think they're as flexible as much as us humans are."
Abed and Troy sat on the couch in the study room, each typing on their laptops. Troy looked over to Abed's screen. "Still working on that Inspector Spacehoof fanfic?"
Abed shook his head and continued to type. "I'm taking a break on it to work on a new fanfiction based on Cougar Town."
"A crossover?" Troy asked.
"Not quite," Abed explained. "I'm having one of the main characters become a Brony, and the story revolves around how the people around him view him. It's loosely based off of my own experiences since becoming involved with the fandom."
"That sounds like it could be interesting." Troy grinned. "But do you know what would be really funny? If he started writing a fanfiction about a character from a different show becoming a fan!"
"That would be pretty meta," Abed noted, "but why stop there? How deep can we get?"
"What do you mean?" Troy asked.
Abed quit typing and looked back at Troy. "Think about it. That would be a fanfiction within a fanfiction. But we could go even deeper. The character within that fanfiction would write yet another fanfic, who writes another, and so on."
"This is blowing my mind," Troy remarked, straight-faced.
"However," Abed continued. "From a pacing perspective, it would be overly complicated to write story after recursive story. The best thing to do would be to write the stories separately, as standalone works. But I'm already writing one such fanfic, and I don't think I'll be ready to write a similar one for a long time."
"What if you asked other people to do it?" Troy asked. "Just leave a note in the description asking people to make their own."
Abed frowned. "That's an option, but I would really prefer that my work stand by itself, and shouldn't require any additional input aside from clarification on when and with whom the story takes place. But it's a good idea, Troy. I'll find a way to work it in."
The two looked at each other for a moment, then sang in unison. "Troy and Abed writing faaaan-fics!"