"DON'T DRIFT TOO FAR"
It was only yesterday that Troy left for the air-conditioning repair school, but already I could tell Abed felt like he was missing a part of himself. Rather than stay at his, Annie, and Troy's apartment, he had stayed at my place overnight, and I had let him stay in my room with me since he preferred being surrounded by Star Wars memorabilia rather than the non-nerdy color-themed guest bedroom. When I woke, I almost had a heart attack; I guessed Abed had felt lonely sleeping in the fold-out cot and had ended up crawling into bed with me. At least it was a double sized mattress, though. I just wasn't used to waking up to having another person so close to me. I smiled a bit, noting that Abed looked very peaceful and cute when he was sleeping. I realized that I didn't mind having Abed this close first thing in the morning, and promptly blushed at my own thought. Since we had officially become a couple just weeks earlier, I had been trying to keep myself from getting too overenthusiastic about being a couple, because seeing as Abed wasn't exactly the dictionary definition of 'normal' (not that I would've preferred him any other way, but I digress) I still wasn't quite sure what to expect with him since he didn't take social cues well, so things had been going slow. We hadn't even gone any further than hugging in public yet since the night of the masquerade ball. I had to remind myself to have patience with Abed, because I didn't want to rush him into anything that he didn't feel comfortable with and risk scaring him off.
Suppressing a sigh at the somewhat depressing train my thoughts had taken, I rolled over and got out of bed, having to hold onto the bedside table for a moment when I almost fell over from low blood pressure. I closed my eyes and stood still until I felt steadier, then shoved my feet into my Chewbacca slippers and shuffled out of the room to prepare breakfast. It was nice to have someone to cook for; I loved cooking, but never really had much motivation to do it when there was no one but myself to taste the results. Rummaging around in my fridge as quietly as I could to assess my ingredients, I decided on making a breakfast skillet to use up some of the fresh produce I had but otherwise might not use before it went bad.
It wasn't long before I had the ingredients all chopped and sizzling in the pan. I took a deep breath of the delicious smelling mixture and smiled.
I jumped, holding a hand over my pounding heart. I turned and shot Abed a dirty look.
"Don't sneak up on me when I'm cooking. What if I'd been holding a knife and I flung it at you?"
His lips twitched a bit, and I knew he was trying not to smile. "No, that wouldn't work. The trajectory wouldn't allow for the knife to reach me faster than my reflexes could kick in. I have pretty good reflexes."
I rolled my eyes, but couldn't hold back a smile. "I know you do, Mr. Wayne," I said, turning back to stir the skillet so it wouldn't burn. My eyes widened when Abed's arms wrapped around my waist, and I could feel his face pressed into my shoulder. My face heated up, but then I realized...my shoulder was getting wet. I tried to turn around in Abed's embrace so I could return the hug, but he tightened his hold.
"Don't. Please." His voice was quiet. I'd never known Abed to be quiet. It was...disheartening. I sighed, but relented, moving my free hand to rest on one of his.
"Sorry, Abed. It must be hard."
He didn't make a sound, but the damp patch on my shirt continued to grow.
It was almost the end of summer, over one year now since my sister had passed, and ever since the day after Troy had left for air conditioner repair school Abed had barely left the apartment, leaving it up to me to visit him as often as work allowed. I wasn't one hundred percent sure what the reason behind his refusing to leave the apartment was, as originally Abed had felt it was too painful to stay in the apartment with all the memories of Troy when Troy wasn't there anymore, but I figured that it had something to do with the shock of his best friend suddenly leaving and his wanting to ensure that what remained of Troy's in the apartment didn't, for whatever reason, get removed from the apartment, thus erasing the last traces of assurance he had that Troy might come back, and he must've figured that if he left at any time the stuff might...well, disappear or something. I wasn't entirely sure since it was Abed's mind, not mine, and he hadn't volunteered any information on his reasoning, but I concluded that that was a fairly good assumption from Abed's behavior towards Troy's stuff, and towards my attempts at getting him to leave the apartment to do stuff with me. (Read: flat-out refusal.)
There were only two days left before Abed, Britta and the rest of the study group had to return to Greendale for their fourth year of college, and I had basically lost all hope that I might actually be able to fill the gaping hole that Troy had left in Abed's life. I knew, deep down, that it was silly for me to have even thought I might be capable of doing so in the first place, due to how close the two had been even before I had met either of them, but it pained me to know that I was not, in fact, the most important person in Abed's life. And, after a while, it had even started to frustrate me. Wrong reaction, I know. But being human, and more importantly being a jealous woman-slash-girlfriend, I...well, I couldn't really help it.
However, the final straw came when we were just sitting at the table in the kitchen of Abed and Annie's apartment.
I had made cheeseburgers and potato smiles, in an attempt to cheer Abed up, because he had told me once that he always had to smile whenever he had potato smiles because he thought it was only polite to smile back at them. However, that night, he simply picked one up, stared at it for a while, then dipped it in the ketchup and ate it. Like a...well, like a 'normal' person. I frowned, but carried on with eating my supper. I had learned since Troy had left that if Abed didn't talk first, he wasn't likely to respond, and though it made for a fairly uncomfortable, tense silence (on my behalf, at least), I suffered through it like a goddamn martyr.
Then he opened his mouth.
"Troy used to make potato smiles."
And I, being the jealous person I was, snapped.
I slammed down my fork, shoving my chair back and making for the coat rack to pick up my purse and leave. I resolutely kept my mouth shut, not wanting to say anything, because I knew that if I did, what I said would be angry, hurtful, and would leave me feeling ashamed later. I had had too many similar situations pan out with my parents before that left me feeling ashamed of the mean, disrespectful things I had said out of anger, and I certainly didn't want to end up hurting Abed-the person I liked to the point where I was fairly certain I loved him-in the same way.
The fates, however, seemed to be of the opinion that I didn't have much choice in the matter.
"Why are you leaving? You didn't finish your food," Abed called out, having stood up from his seat in order to be able to see what I was doing, but making no move to stop me from leaving.
I took a deep breath, but the words were begging so badly to be said that I just couldn't keep my mouth shut.
"What do you think, Abed?" I said in a harsh tone of voice, though I was ashamed to find that it wavered with hurt. "Every time you open your goddamn mouth it's Troy this, Troy that. I have been literally right here the entire summer, just waiting for you to see that while Troy may not be here, I am, and I wanted to just smack some sense into you but that wouldn't work because Troy could even do that better, now, couldn't he? So why don't you just go and marry him!" At that point, tears started streaming down my face, caused by a mixture of anger, hurt, and shame; which emotion was even prevalent in that moment I wasn't quite sure, but either way, in order to try and save face I quickly turned around, yanked my purse off the coat rack so hard it just about fell over, and marched out of the apartment and straight to my car, where I promptly threw the keys in and drove home with tears still running down my cheeks so that I wouldn't be able to be more hurt if Abed never came out to find me in my car, because that way I would never know if he had or hadn't tried.
Abed was worried for his sanity. He had always had a very vivid imagination, thus why he was able to envision scenarios so well in the dreamatorium. But he certainly had never thought it would become so vivid that he would be talking to himself from the darkest timeline. It was officially Freaking Him Out.
He had tried everything he could think of to try and drown out Evil Abed's voice, but nothing worked-not books, not television, not even singing in the shower. He had even resorted to asking Britta for counselling to see if she could help him get rid of his twisted doppelganger. He was reading the novelization of the Chronicles of Riddick when Evil Abed made a play for his attention once again.
Abed glared at the same page he had been re-reading for the past five minutes. "I'm not talking to you, because I'm not crazy."
Evil Abed smirked. "Think of it as inner dialogue."
"I'm reading the novelization of Chronicles of Riddick."
Evil Abed raised an eyebrow at that. "Can you honestly tell me that's a saner decision?" He shook his head. "You're worried you'll go crazy without Troy, especially now that you don't have Sophie to lean on. That's why you're gonna let Britta 'fix' you, right? Because you think you're broken, you're going to let someone diagnose you who said her favorite superhero was X-Man?"
Abed finally looked over at his goatee-wearing doppelganger. "I'm a little scared," he admitted. "Things are bad."
Evil Abed narrowed his eyes. "When the world gets bad enough, Abed, the good go crazy. But the smart," he said with a hint of a smirk, "they go bad." He shoved off of the doorframe of the dreamatorium where he had been leaning, taking a step back into the room, as though to draw Abed closer so that he could keep him in sight. "Come on in here. Let's talk about it."
Abed's brow furrowed in thought. "I think it's safer if I talk to Britta," he said, having weighed his options, even though his mind could see the logic in Evil Abed's words, especially from all the villains in movies that had once been good, but turned bad once they saw the reality of the world they lived in. And despite that he enjoyed the movies where the good guys won, he had to admit to himself that honestly, it would almost never work out that way with the enormous odds that they were almost always up against. He could see the logic in Evil Abed's words, and that scared him more than the fact that Evil Abed was even there to begin with. He really wished Britta would hurry up already.
"I think it's even safer if I talk to her first," Evil Abed said, causing Abed to turn and look at him. Evil Abed fixed him with a compelling stare. "Come on in here. Why don't you talk to me about how you've been lately?"
Abandoning his book, Abed took a couple cautious steps toward the dreamatorium, but then forced himself to stop. "Wait. How do I know this isn't a trick?"
Evil Abed gave him a 'really?' look. "You don't. But look at it this way, Abed," he said with a smirk. "I'm the only one who could ever understand how you feel. Not Britta. Not anyone else. Because I am you. You see, that's why Sophie left, because she couldn't understand what you're going through right now."
Abed looked down at his feet, and found himself taking another step towards the dreamatorium. He lifted his gaze to Evil Abed again. "But I know she cares about me. She just doesn't know how things affect me all the time."
Evil Abed gave a long-suffering sigh. "Look, Abed. I realize your lame point of view is very narrow-minded, but look at it this way: In my timeline, the darkest timeline, things aren't even as bleak as they look for you here. At least Troy's still around there. And you and Sophie are still together." He raised an eyebrow. "Do you get what I'm saying?"
Abed's brow furrowed. "You're saying that... if this timeline became more like the darkest timeline, then I would get Troy and Sophie back."
"Wow, Lame Abed's not as stupid as I thought!" Evil Abed said sarcastically, clapping. "Now, why don't you come on in here and we can discuss this revelation of yours some more..."
Abed's feet moved towards the dreamatorium, and finally crossed the threshold.
Evil Abed smirked. He had won.
Abed had reverted into what he thought his evil counterpart would be like. It was easy for him with his vivid imagination to immerse himself into the role of another 'character', to the extent where he was unsure whether he was actually Evil Abed, or whether he was still himself, but he had been taken over by Evil Abed. He wasn't exactly sure which it was, but he had determined that in order to be with Sophie and Troy again, he had to darken the timeline enough so that it was on par with the darkest timeline. And the 'easiest' way to darken the timeline would be to make it so Jeff had only one arm. With that thought in mind, he headed for where Britta had told him during his psychoanalysis of her that Jeff would be, in the 'court' room.
Frustratingly enough, when Abed got there, he plugged the bone saw in only to realize that the cord on it was too short.
Seriously? He thought, irked that he had come all this way only to be impeded by something that seemed so trivial. He had to find the janitor's storage closet and raid it for an extension cord. Not like the janitor would miss it... after all, they were pretty short-staffed, so they hardly got much cleaning done on a daily basis except for, according to rumor, the women's washrooms. (Not that he had any way of proving or disproving that theory, as last time he had tried to see for himself, Annie and Shirley had just about had heart attacks and made him promise to never try that again.)
Heading back into the 'court' room, Abed quickly hooked up the bone saw to the extension cord and plugged it in, pleased that his plan could finally be under way again. He stood up, turning towards Jeff, and started to step towards him, but the sound of Jeff's voice made him pause for a moment. It sounded like he was making a Classic Winger speech, and Abed could never manage to ignore one of those.
"The truth is... I'm lying when I say there is no truth," Jeff said. "The truth is... the pathetically... stupidly, inconveniently, obvious truth is... helping only ourselves is bad, and helping each other is good. Now, I just wanted to get out of here, pass biology, and be a lawyer again instead of helping Shirley. That was bad," he said, a bit sheepishly. Then he smirked. "And my former colleague wanted so badly to keep his rich client that he just asked me to roll over in exchange for my old job." He shrugged as the onlookers gasped, looking shocked. "So... I guess we all walked in here pretty bad. But now," he said, looking over at Shirley, "Shirley's gone good. Shirley's helping me. It's that easy. You just stop thinking about what's good for you, and start thinking about what's good for someone else."
As Jeff spoke those words, Abed's goatee fell off.
As Abed's felt goatee fell off of his face, he felt rationality returning to him, and promptly dropped the bone saw he was holding with a jolt, as though it had burned him. Ashamed that he had tried to turn his timeline into the darkest timeline because of the stress of both Troy and Sophie leaving him, he sighed and promptly left the room before any of the study group members realized he had been present at the 'court case', intending to go to the cafeteria and buy some sweets-maybe cookies-and apologize to Sophie for having been unable to communicate to Sophie that she was important to him when she had been feeling insecure about her place in his life due to the short time they had been dating before Troy had left.
When Abed sat down at the study group's usual table, he sighed, wondering if he should put his head down or not, but then remembered how many people touched this table and the fact that Greendale's cleaning staff was in pretty short supply, so the tables hardly ever got cleaned, and promptly decided against it.
"Mind if I sit with you?"
Despite the fact that the voice gave away who it was before he turned to look at them, he was surprised to turn his head and see Sophie standing next to him nonetheless.
"Speak of the devil," he said, then quickly corrected himself to make sure he hadn't unintentionally offended her. "Well, you're a lot nicer than the devil. Sorry. I was actually just thinking about going to see you. We should talk. I was going to bring you some cookies. Do you want me to go buy you one?" Realizing he was rambling, he quickly stood up to go buy her said cookies in order to get a moment to calm down and set his thoughts straight, but stopped when she grabbed his hand, wrapping it in both of hers.
"Abed," she said softly, causing him to turn and look at her. Her expression was apologetic and sad. "I'm sorry I said what I did. I was just feeling...frustrated and lonely. You seemed like you were more attached to Troy than you were to me, but that was no reason for me to act the way that I did. It only makes sense for you to be more attached to Troy because you've known him longer, and you're best friends, for heaven's sake. But I was jealous, and hurt, and I said things when I was angry that I know I shouldn't have." She took a deep, steadying breath and looked him in the eye. "I'm sorry. Can you please forgive me?"
Abed smiled. "Only if you'll forgive me. I didn't realize that was how you felt, and I was just making it worse by focusing completely on Troy rather than telling you how much it meant to me that you stuck with me through it all."
"So...all's forgiven?" she asked hopefully.
"I think we can call it even and say no legacy is so rich as honesty."
Sophie grinned. "All's Well That Ends Well? Abed, I thought your thing was pop culture, not literature."
Abed shrugged. "Well, Shakespeare could've been considered pop culture back in the day, and besides, there's a lot of stuff I like that references it, so it's good to know it."
Sophie looked down at where she had both her hands wrapped around his one, and evened it out by grabbing his other hand. She looked up at him and smiled. "I'm glad we were able to work things out, Abed." With that, she leaned up to press her lips against his.
Someone whistled loudly.
"Shut up, Leonard!"
A/N: Thank you SO very much to everyone who has followed along this story, reviewed, and/or added this to their favorites/alerts! I have added a poll to my profile so go and vote on it and let me know if you would like to see a sequel after season four starts, if you'd like to see more one-shots, both, or neither.
Again, thank you for reading, and for your patience with this final chapter. I have yet to decide an updating schedule for my Oneirology 101 one-shots, but I've already written a couple more, so I'll probably update it once every one or two weeks, which should tide people who want a sequel over for now while I await season four's start. I'm not sure if I want to write a sequel yet; I want to wait and see what season four gives me to work with first.
Farewell, readers! May season four treat us all well!