neigedens: shirley examining tiny nipples (abed is listening)
Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear? ([personal profile] neigedens) wrote2010-04-29 05:47 pm

COMMUNITY FIC: The High School After High School (1/3), Abed/Troy, 16,000 words

Title: The High School After High School (1/3)
Author: [personal profile] neigedens
Word Count: 3,7 this part; 16,278 total
Pairings/Characters: Abed/Troy, Annie, ensemble
Rating: Teen
Notes: Spoilers for 1.06, 1.04, and probably a few others. The title is a quote from The Home Economics Story. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ncc_gqmf for beta-ing and [livejournal.com profile] custardpringle for the constant support/word wars. ♥

Summary: Troy had disappeared. He's already been gone one day, and he has nine school days left before Greendale's attendance policies (which are, as Jeff Winger has always called them, positively high schoolian) catch up with him. Abed isn't so worried about that; he's got bigger thoughts on his mind than just truancy. Abed's almost positive that Troy's been kidnapped, but the first hurdle, of course, is always convincing others to see what's right in front of their eyes.

The High School After High School
(Or, The Adventure of the Kidnapped Quarterback)

The spaghetti dinner was an essential part of the football team's fundraising strategy. Unlike most schools, which lavished endowments on their sports programs and left the others to languish, Greendale underfunded all extracurriculars about equally, so the football team held the spaghetti dinner and hoped to be able to buy their first new sets of shoulder pads since 1986. The dinner was well-attended due to an unusual amount of enthusiasm surrounding the Human Beings' coming game against the City College Goats. The Greendale students perceived that their chances were about as poor as always, but the chance, however unlikely, that the game would not be a complete and total blowout fueled the school's excitement. And of course no Greendale student, young or old, could keep away from the lure of cheap garlic bread, so the cafeteria in the student union was quite full.

"What's the matter, Troy?" asked Shirley, after Troy had barely acknowledged when the Dean finished making the announcement about the game. "Aren't you excited about your game?"

Troy stuck his fork in his plate of spaghetti apathetically. "I don't know. Marisol's not going to be able to play, so we're a woman short."

There was a pause. "Marisol...was the pregnant woman, wasn't she?" asked Jeff.

"Yeah."

"Well, it can't be that hard to replace her."

"Will you do it?"

"No!"

"See?"

Jeff shook his head. "Look, Troy, you were Riverside High's star running back--"

"Quarterback," muttered Britta.

"Quarterback," said Jeff without missing a beat. "I'm pretty sure you've got enough sway at this community college to find a replacement for a woman who hasn't been able to eat tuna for months."

"I didn't realize that was such a status symbol in the Winger household," said Britta.

"She won't be able to look at any more spaghetti dinners, I'll tell you that much," said Shirley, who, with an expression of mild distaste, had been watching Abed as he carefully twirled the noodles around his fork. "Nuh-uh."

Jeff went on. "Just find a man...or a woman, I guess, who's about as wide as a pregnant woman and you'll never even know she's gone."

"Who starts playing football when they're pregnant, anyway?" asked Britta to the table in general.

"Oh, football's an excellent prenatal sport," said Pierce. "Keeps the blood moving. Toughens the child up in utero, as it were."

"The doctor told her she should make sure to keep active," Troy explained, "and all the yoga classes were filled up too quickly. The doctor said she could play into her third trimester or until her ankles got too swollen."

"Oh, that's nice," said Shirley as Britta shook her head and stood up to get more salad. "Does she know, is it a girl or a boy?"

~

Within the next week, Marisol had her baby and Troy found an excellent replacement for her in George Pluckenpole, a tall, broad twentysomething with the slightly over-pleasing manner necessary for someone with a name like George Pluckenpole. He had been kept from trying out for the team the first time around, he said, by an allergic reaction to shellfish. He had played in high school and claimed to have a small bit of experience coaching his son's peewee team. That, honestly, was more than Troy could have hoped for.

Everyone liked him; Marisol had pronounced him an adequate substitute and her baby boy had spit up on him, which came as close as he was going to get to universal approval. No one, including Marisol, saw any problem with him staying on the team even after the baby got on solid food and she rejoined the squad. He was smart, talented, likable, and he was about as good as Troy, except Troy was lighter and could run much faster than him. Troy, naturally, disliked him, but he could complain to Abed.

"He's too perfect," said Troy, pacing the length of the dorm room. Abed was eating cereal in front of the TV again, but he looked up often enough to reassure Troy that he was listening. "Too perfect. Do you know what I mean?"

Abed considered. "No."

"It's like," began Troy, then shook his head. "Look, sometimes you're so good at something that people just hate you for it. Like, you know how you can name every film Bill Murray's ever been in?"

"Yes."

"Well, somewhere out there, there's probably someone who hates you for it and is really jealous of you and would, like, punch you in the face because they're so bitter. Football is like that for me."

"People have punched you in the face?"

"More than once. But for this guy, people want to punch him in the face over everything."

"It seems unlikely," said Abed.

"What, that someone could be good at everything?"

"No, that someone would hate me for knowing all of Bill Murray's movies. You think they'd appreciate meeting another fan."

"Oh. Yeah, that's a good point," said Troy. He stopped pacing and stared at Abed, who was about to lean to the side so he could see the TV around Troy, but thought better of it just in time. "Also, his name's Pluckenpole," said Troy aggrievedly. "The hell is that?"

"It's pretty comical," Abed agreed.

"Ha. Yeah. Pluckenpole." Troy laughed and sat down next to Abed on the futon. "See, this is why I like hanging out with you, Abed. You always seem to get what I'm talking about." He put his arm around Abed's shoulders and leaned back to watch Hogan's Heroes with him.

Abed wasn't sure if Troy had meant to be sarcastic when he said that or not. He stared into his cereal bowl, which now contained nothing but milk, and then back up at Colonel Klink's be-monocled face. By the time something had occurred to him to say about the Pluckenpole problem, they were sitting close enough together that Abed supposed it didn't really matter anymore. Instead he drank the rest of his milk, set the bowl on the desk with the others, and slid down a bit into the futon so he could rest his head on Troy's arm. When he did so, Troy turned his head and they stared at each other.

"Hey," said Troy in a deeper, throatier voice. Which Abed thought was pointless because he obviously already had Abed's attention.

"Hi," said Abed, feeling immediately that it had been the wrong thing to say. He still felt shaky about this sometimes, about when you were supposed to move your head, when you were supposed to talk and when you were supposed to shut up and do what Abed did right then, which was kiss Troy very slowly at first. He wrapped his arms around Abed's torso, though, and when he spread his hands out on Abed's back, his fingers felt warm. Troy pulled away only slightly to speak.

"Abed," he said. "You've got a class."

"So do you."

"I know that." Troy took a deep breath but still didn't draw away. "Plus I've got practice today and I've got to go home after that. My dad's pissed off." He paused and Abed could almost feel him roll his eyes.

Abed mumbled, "Do you want to stop?"

Troy ran his hand over the back of Abed's neck. "I'll come over tonight. We can watch, I dunno, whatever you want. I don't care. But I can spend the night, it'll be no big deal."

"Sure," said Abed, looking perfectly serene as Troy stood up and grabbed his bag.

"I'll see you in study group, okay?" said Troy.

"Sure," said Abed, and he was gone. Some things, Abed reflected as he picked up cereal bowls, were a lot more important than Cheerios and a lot more interesting than Hogan's Heroes.

~

That was Monday. By Tuesday morning, Troy had disappeared. He didn't call Monday evening when he was supposed to come to Abed's. He wasn't there for Spanish class or Statistics. His bike wasn't in the rack, which meant he had obviously gone home, but he had never returned. It was officially, Abed thought, radio silence.

Abed couldn't pay attention in class, even though he sat in the front and the lesson was, even for Chang, an exciting one about stem-changing boot verbs. In elementary Spanish, the "boot" is a mnemonic used to help students remember the category of infinitives that have a spelling change in certain present tense verb forms. Señor Chang, always a literal-minded person, helped the students remember this bit of grammar by bringing in an actual boot and threatening them with it if they got any of the questions wrong on the test. Everyone was reasonably certain he was kidding and was somewhat certain that he wasn't allowed to, say, throw the boot at their heads if they wrote dormo instead of duermo, but somehow it was hard to remember that when he got a certain look in his eyes.

What Abed was thinking, even as Chang smacked the sole of the boot on the desktop, was that Troy had nine more school days before Greendale's attendance policies (which were, as Jeff Winger had always called them, positively high schoolian) caught up with him. Abed wasn't so worried about that; he had bigger thoughts on his mind. Abed was certainly no detective, but even he could see the obvious solution when it was right in front of his face.

"I think he's been kidnapped," he said that day in study group.

"Unlikely, Abed," said Jeff. "Maybe he just felt like skipping Chang's class for a few days. God knows we've all felt like that before."

Annie shook her head. "This is really serious, Jeff. If Troy misses too many classes, he might have to," --she learned forward and said in a stage whisper-- "withdraw!"

"Also unlikely," said Jeff, but this was not strictly true. Greendale's attendance policy stated that after ten unexcused absences you were considered withdrawn or were obliged to have a nice chat with the Dean and the counselor in the Dean's office, an embarrassment enough to deter most potential truants. "Look, Abed, this isn't 90210."

"It isn't?" asked Abed.

"No, it isn't. It's not like some rival gang had him taken care of. Troy's not even in a gang. The only gang that would take him would be one of those singing and dancing ones that snap."

"West Side Story," said Abed, but he didn't look happy. "But Troy's not white. Or Puerto Rican."

"Again, Abed, you've missed my point. Troy hasn't been kidnapped. I'm sure he's fine." Abed was still unconvinced and Annie still looked worried, but Britta and Shirley both rolled their eyes and after that they directed the discussion back to their homework.

~

When Shirley went to the library later, Abed and Annie were still there. Before she could ask them to a late lunch with her, she saw that they were working on something together. At first she assumed it was more stem-changing boot verbs, but before she could stop herself she had read the paper quickly upside down and seen this instead, in Abed's spidery handwriting:

REASONS FOR KIDNAPPING TROY:
1. Sexual favors
2. Terrorists
3. Organ harvesters.


"Troy still has both of his kidneys," said Abed when he noticed her reading it. "As far was we know," he added, ominously.

Shirley looked at the list, then at the two of them, then back at the list. "This is a joke, right?"

They both stared at her.

"We'll see you around, Shirley," said Abed finally as he stood up. Annie followed suit. Shirley thought she maybe looked a little embarrassed, but also determined. Shirley decided to try appealing to her. "Annie, you two are being silly. Troy's not--"

"See you later, Shirley," said Annie rather sharply, following Abed out of the library. Thankfully, they had both left when Shirley broke down into laughter and ran to tell Jeff.

~

Troy and his parents lived in a small house not far from Greendale.

"I think we should check it out here first," Abed told her as they pulled up in Annie's mother's Honda Civic. "Just to be sure that Troy isn't being held hostage by his own parents or something."

"That...seems kind of unlikely, Abed," said Annie as they made their way up the walk. "Maybe he's just sick or something. Too sick to call or something."

"In detective stories it's always the most unlikely person who's done it, and it's always for an evil reason, so I figure we should start with them."

Before Annie could reply that real life rarely worked out how detective stories did, and that she wasn't sure if this even qualified as a detective story, Troy's mother, whom Annie recognized from the spaghetti dinner, answered the door. She recognized them as well, to Annie's relief.

"Are you looking for Troy?" Abed nodded. "He's not here."

"He's not sick or something?" asked Annie at the same time Abed asked, "Where is he?"

Mrs. Barnes paused, then shrugged and stood aside. "You'd better come in."

Something in Mrs. Barnes' unsmiling and severe manner had made Annie expect them to be turned away, but Mrs. Barnes was old-fashioned; she sat the two of them down in the kitchen and gave them each a can of Squirt, but her frown grew deeper. Their house was one of those tiny suburban outfits built 35 years ago that had no interior doors except for those to the bedrooms and bathroom. Mrs. Barnes set the cans of soda down in front of them on the table. Before Annie could say anything, Abed had taken his and wandered into the hallway, where he tapped on one of the doors.

"Is this Troy's room?" he called back to them in the kitchen. Annie saw Troy's father, who was in the living room watching Sportscenter, turn to look in Abed's direction. It was the first time he had acknowledged either of them since they had entered, but he only shook his head and turned back to the TV. From what Annie could see, he looked a lot like Troy, except taller.

"Yes," Mrs. Barnes called back. She wasn't exactly friendly, but there was also something pleasantly neutral about her. She seemed to treat Abed's eccentricities with the same placidity that her son did. "You can go in. Clean up a bit, if you like."

"So," said Annie. It occurred to her that if she wasn't comfortable with the part of being a detective that involved barging around other people's houses, then she should probably take over the questioning of the suspects. If they really were playing detective, and if Mrs. Barnes really was a suspect, which was unlikely given how unconcerned she was about Abed kicking around her tiny house.

"Troy and Curt had a fight," said Mrs. Barnes, without prompting.

"Oh. What about?"

She shrugged. "Football again, I suppose. Personally," and here she leaned forward slightly, "I was glad when Troy backed down on the football thing after graduation. I know he's very fond of it, but I never thought it was good for him."

"That's exactly what I said!" Annie felt herself warming to Troy's mother for the first time, not just because this was exactly Annie had said before herself, but because it was the first personal opinion Mrs. Barnes had offered about anything. Annie smiled at her kindly. "So, what happened after their argument?"

"Well, he said he was never coming back," said Mrs. Barnes.

"Oh my gosh. That's awful!" Mrs. Barnes only looked thoughtful and stood up to get herself some coffee. "Didn't--didn't you believe him?"

"You know, they say teenage girls are naturally more dramatic than boys are. I don't have any daughters but" --she paused to take a sip-- "I think that that's definitely not always the case."

Annie smiled a little, suddenly feeling a lot more confident, even though a minute before she had desperately wished that they hadn't blown everyone else off and had asked someone older to come with them. Shirley or Jeff or even Pierce probably would have been offered coffee instead of Squirt, and she supposed would have commanded more respect. Despite this, she went on. "So where did he go?"

"He didn't say. Personally, I think he's got a girlfriend," she said as Abed re-entered the kitchen looking pensive and Annie felt a lot of her confidence disappear again. "Just a suspicion, of course." Abed sat down and stared intently at the tabletop, as if thinking very hard. "There have been nights when he wouldn't come home and wouldn't talk about where he'd been. General things like that. Just a hunch, you know. Anyway, the night he stormed out he couldn't take the car because Curt needs it for work in the mornings, so he had to bike, which I'm sure was a blow to his pride. Plus he forgot his bike light, so I ran after him to make sure he had it. It's dangerous, especially when it's still so dark in the evenings now, you know."

"Did he take it?" Abed asked, suddenly, which surprised Annie because she didn't think he had been listening.

"Oh, yes. Troy's very sensible when he needs to be, despite all appearances to the contrary." Mrs. Barnes turned and scrutinized Abed closely for the first time. She still spoke to Annie, however. "But I forgot, you and Troy were at Riverside together, weren't you, Annie?"

Annie nodded, feeling miserable.

"What was your last name again? I thought that I'd heard of you before. Weren't you one of the salutatorians, something like that?"

"Edison, and no, not quite," said Annie, feeling slightly sick, but just as she did, Abed stood up.

"We should go. We have somewhere else to go before we take the car back to your mom," he said. He tossed her her coat and hassled her out the door before Mrs. Barnes could remember why Annie's name had stuck out so particularly in her memory, which just went to show that Abed had an extremely specialized kind of social tact that he rarely got credit for.

~

Abed didn't get in the car immediately; he stood at the end of the Barnes' driveway and looked up and down the street. After a few seconds, he started walking along the side of the road, staring into the dense group of trees across the street from Troy's house. Annie, already in the car, beeped her horn at him. As he ran to get into the shotgun seat, Annie smiled at him.

"You know, I've never had a reason to honk at anyone before. Being a detective is kind of fun." Abed nodded, but continued staring intently along the street and into the woods. "Are you looking for something?"

Abed shook his head. "Probably not. Let's go back to Greendale. I think the football team is practicing tonight before their game; we could talk to them. Have you met the new guy?"

"You mean the one with the silly name I can't remember?" She backed out of the driveway. "No. I think Britta has, maybe. I do know that he's friends with Vaughn or something." Abed was uncharacteristically silent, so Annie didn't volunteer anymore information. She felt embarrassed that she didn't know more about Vaughn's friends, although she didn't really like most of them, which was probably fair because Vaughn certainly didn't like most of hers.

They drove for several more blocks, until they turned onto a street that led towards the school and was surrounded on both sides by still another dense group of trees. Finally, Annie decided not to skirt the subject on her mind for once. "Did you know that Troy had a girlfriend?"

"I don't think he does."

"Are you sure? His mom seemed pretty sure."

Abed cocked his head thoughtfully, then nodded. "I'm pretty sure."

"I don't know why he wouldn't have told everyone in the group." She considered. "OK, so I guess I do know why, but he at least would have told us. Or you."

"Yeah. I probably should--stop the car, Annie." His voice wasn't urgent, but something about it was so sharp that she stepped on the brakes too suddenly. No one was behind her, thankfully. Abed opened his door and leaned over to pick something up off the asphalt.

"Abed, what--" and then she stopped. In his palm lay a busted bike light. "How did you--"

"Just a suspicion," said Abed, staring at the bike light thoughtfully.

Part Two

Part Three

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