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Title: The Law of Tangents, 7/11
Author: htbthomas
Fandom: Community
Pairing: Annie/Troy (begins Abed/Annie and Abed/Troy)
Word Count: entire fic: 26,588 words, this chapter: 2,375 words
Rating/Warnings: PG-13 for mild language, kisses for all pairings, implied sex for main pairing
Betas: wr1t3rbl0ck3d, neigedens, foxtwin
Summary: Annie wants to date Abed – if learning all she can about his favorite things will help her do that, she will. Troy wants to date Abed  – he's ready to take their friendship to the next level, and no one knows Abed better than his best friend. Abed wants – well, neither Annie nor Troy know what he wants, because he up and disappears. Worried beyond belief, Annie and Troy put their rivalry aside to look for Abed. Guest starring Nathan Fillion as Professor Schloss.

Also at: Het Big Bang site | AO3

Previously: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6


(art by pennnys)



Chapter 7: He's Fast for an Old Dude


Troy came slowly awake hours later, feeling better than he had in days.  He felt warm, safe and protected. An arm was wrapped around him; a body snuggled against his back. The niceness of the feeling was disorienting – he hadn’t spent the night with anyone in a long time.  It took him a few moments to figure out where he was…

When he remembered, he sat bolt upright in bed.  Annie cried out in groggy shock. Troy shot out a hand to stop her from falling off the bunk.  “Are you okay?” he asked her when she was steady. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m–I’m okay,” she said, running a hand through her messy hair.  Her eye makeup was smeared all down her cheeks as well.  A good cry would do that. She gave him an awkward smile. “Good morning.”

He smiled back, feeling every bit as awkward himself. “Morning.”

Part of him told him he should get out of bed right now, pretend as if the hours of sleeping in Abed’s bed with Annie – just sleeping! he reminded himself, well, and a lot of crying – had never happened. But he did feel quite a bit better getting all of that out, and it was thanks to Annie. How strange that even though they both wanted the same thing, they were supporting each other instead of at war.

He looked around the dorm room.  Nothing had changed, no sign of Abed’s presence.  His first reaction was relief – if Abed had found the two of them curled up in his bunk, what would he have said? Troy glanced at the security camera. Of course, maybe he was watching anyway…

The feeling of relief immediately turned to worry, stronger than before.  Abed had not returned.  They were still no closer to figuring out where he was or why he was gone.

“Abed,” Troy said quietly to the emptiness of the rest of the room.

Annie placed her hand on his back lightly, not too familiar. “We’ll find him.”

“We will.”

~0~0~0~


They didn’t even bother stalking Professor Schloss this time. They simply went straight to his office as soon as they’d both had a chance to change and freshen up. Luckily, it was his office hours.  Annie knocked, a business-like rap. “Professor Schloss?”  She tried the door.

As she opened it, she saw him at his desk, his head bent over a stack of papers.  “Yes?” he said, not looking up.

Annie came to stand directly in front of him, and Troy positioned himself right beside her. He had agreed to let Annie do the talking first.  “We have a request.”

Schloss looked up then, his expression stern.  He didn’t seem to recognize them from the other day. “What kind of request?”

Annie quailed inside, but pretended to be unfazed.  “We need Abed Nadir’s screenplay.”

“Neither of you is Mr. Nadir, correct?” He turned back to his papers and started writing again.  “And I have no idea where he is, as I told you the other day.”

Annie made a face a Troy.  So he did remember them.  “May I ask if you have graded it yet?”

He stopped writing and looked back up at them above his reading glasses. “May I ask how this is any of your business?”

Annie could see Troy tense up beside her, his fingers balling up into fists. She put a hand out to touch his arm and he seemed to calm down.  “You’re right. It isn’t.”

He waited for her to continue, not mollified by her admission in the least.

Time for a different tactic. “Sir.  We’re just terribly worried about Abed. As you know, he’s missing – and no one seems to know where he is – we’ve tried every other option we have.” She added a note of helplessness into her voice, which wasn’t completely faked. “The two of us are his best friends. And he has never done this – just up and left without any notice – in the whole time we’ve known him.” Troy nodded beside her.

Schloss’s face softened.  “While I understand your worry for Mr. Nadir, I don’t see why you have come to me.” He took off his reading glasses. “Or why you need his screenplay.”

Feeling hopeful, Annie leaned forward, pleading just a little more.  “We are hoping that the screenplay might give us a clue to where he has gone. You know how writing teachers always say, ‘Write what you know?’”

Schloss gestured for her to continue.

“Abed really does that.  Everything he’s done is either an homage or directly comes from his life here on campus.” She looked to Troy for confirmation on the next part.  “Or both.” Troy nodded.

Schloss sat back, placing a hand on his chin.  “I see.  Now that you mention it, his screenplay did feature a main character that could easily be a self-insert.” He pointed at Annie and Troy. “And the real life love triangle we spoke of was a definite plot element…”

“So you have read it!” Annie said, leaning forward even more.  Troy’s eyes were bright with anticipation. “May we read?”

He sat forward abruptly. “No.”

“What?” Annie and Troy said in unison. “Why?”

“While I do sympathize with your plight, it is simply unethical for me to share student work without the student’s express permission. Not to mention the number of intellectual property issues involved…”

“Property? He’s not your slave!” Troy cried out, unable to hold back.

Schloss ignored Troy’s outburst. “Though when you do see him, you can tell him that the grade has been entered into the online grade book. And if he asks why?” He wrote a grade at the top of the project he had been marking and flipped to another. “Tell him that he left the screenplay without an ending.”

Annie couldn’t help her surprise. “It wasn’t… finished?”

“No,” he said.  “It ended on a cliffhanger.  A cheap ploy, if you ask me.”

“What kind of a cliff—?”

He huffed in annoyance.  “Does it matter?  The project rubric clearly stated that the story needed a beginning, middle and an end. He lost twenty-five percent of his grade for that stunt.” He continued to scribble on the pages as he added, “Now if you don’t mind, I have quite a few of these to grade, and I’d prefer to keep these hours open for my actual students.”

It was clear to Annie now that no amount of logical reasoning would convince Professor Schloss to let them see the screenplay.  She was going to have to employ another tactic. Turning toward Troy, she mouthed, “I’m going to try something else.”

He mouthed back, “Okay. What?”

She started to unbutton her cardigan as unobtrusively as possible, hating herself a little as she did it. 

Troy swallowed.

Thank god Britta wasn’t here, or she would get an unwanted earful. Britta probably never used her sexuality for favors. But this was for Abed, right? And though she hated to admit it, she’d learned she was pretty good as bait and distraction.

When a decent – okay, more than decent – amount of cleavage was showing, she placed her hands square on the desk and leaned forward provocatively. “Professor Schloss?” she asked, adding a bit of huskiness to her voice.

“What?” he asked as he looked up.  His eyes flashed with anger. Then they fixated on her boobs.

Annie smiled.

But the fixation didn’t last long.  He looked up into her face with a quirk of his lips.  “Really?”

She fought to keep smiling.  “Are you sure I can’t just take a peek at that ending?”

He shook his head, disgusted.  “Completely sure,” he said, and then murmured, “Amateurs.”

Completely completely sure?” Troy asked. Annie turned to the side to see that he had stripped to the waist, his not-unattractive pecs on display. He flexed a bicep for good measure.

Annie swallowed.

“Get out of my office!” Schloss yelled, finally fed up. “Or I’ll call security!”

“Okay, okay!” Annie said, putting her hands up in entreaty. She couldn’t give up, not when Abed’s safety was on the line. “We’ll just—”

She intentionally knocked over a cup of pens, crying out in mock-surprise. “I’m so sorry!” She scrabbled at them to help clean them up. Troy got in on it, too, and as Schloss squawked, they made a huge mess of the stack of projects.

And there it was.  Near the bottom, marked with Abed’s name. She snagged it – and ran.

“Hey! Get back here!” she heard Schloss shout from behind her, but she didn’t look back.  She heard running feet keeping pace, and she hoped it was Troy.  She couldn’t take a moment to check, though. Cutting down one hallway without warning, she ran pell-mell through the students ambling in the other direction. She was leaving a trail of startled students in her wake.

Suddenly she realized that she’d never refastened her buttons.  With one hand, she held her sweater together, and clutched the stolen screenplay in the other as she ran. Had she lost him? She took a chance at peeking over her shoulder.

Troy was keeping pace, but Schloss was at the other end of the hall, racing toward them with a determined scowl on his face. She gasped; she hadn’t expected him to be so close!

Troy panted beside her as they ran. “Damn! He’s fast for an old dude!”

“I’m not that old!” Schloss protested behind them. If he was close enough to hear, he was close enough to catch them!

She let go of her sweater and fumbled with the script in her hands, forgetting propriety. She tore off the first set of pages while still running. “Here!”  Annie shoved the rest at Troy.  “I’ll cut this way, you go the other.”

Troy nodded grimly while taking the pages. “He can’t split himself in half.” For a brief moment he looked doubtful. “Or can he?” Then he seemed to convince himself. “No, he can’t.”

Annie made a sudden pivot to her left, calling out, “Text me when you’re safe!”

She hurdled a bench and pushed through a group of friends in her haste to get away.  But just her luck, Schloss had chosen to go after Annie. She gritted her teeth and kept running, heading into the History building.

Ahead of her, the Troy and Abed security guard clones had positioned themselves across a corridor to block her way.  She was trapped!

“Stop!” Officer Abed shouted, brandishing his taser. Officer Troy assumed a mirror-image stance.  Students caught in the middle shrieked and cowered out of the way.

Annie sighed and faltered slightly.  There was no way to escape. 

But Annie would not give up. She was going to find Abed, electric shock or no.  Officer Troy shouted another warning. “This is your last chance! Stop right there or we’ll shoot!”

Annie simply lowered her head as if to charge them. She could hear their weapons whine as they fired…

One of the classroom doors opened between Annie and the guards. Like a vision of ginger non-grace, Garrett shuffled out, an enormous stack of textbooks in his arms. The probes hit Garrett square in the side, and he convulsed, his books flying everywhere.  Annie slid across the laminate floor and out of the way.  One of the books, a heavy British History tome, arced up and straight into Schloss’s temple.  The guards, caught by surprise, were unable to snag her as she flew past and out of the opposite exit doors to freedom.

As she ran to safety, exhilarated, she decided she owed Garrett a cake for that unexpected help.  A dozen cakes, if she could find the right dairy-free, gluten-free, allergen-free recipe.

~0~0~0~


They met in a park several blocks away.  Nowhere familiar was safe, not her place, not Troy dad’s, not Abed’s.  She was lucky that her car wasn’t stopped going out of the parking lot – never had she been actually happy that Greendale’s security force was underfunded before.

Annie made sure to park her car out of sight, but close enough to the park to reach it easily. Troy had pressed himself up against the concrete wall on one side of the bathrooms. It was a good hiding place; they wouldn’t be seen from the street. She didn’t know how long he had been here. 

“Are you okay?” she asked, pressing herself beside him.

He nodded. “You?”

“Yeah.” She bit her lip before adding. “Garrett took one for the team, though.”

Troy tapped his chest two times with his fist. “Summer Study Group Solidarity, yo.”

She copied him, but her hand quickly dropped.  Their summer study group was incomplete as long as Abed was missing.  “Anyway,” she said, pointing to the second portion of the screenplay he held, “what did you find out? There was nothing new in my section – just things we’d already read.”

“Oh?” He lifted it and offered it to her. “I didn’t read it yet.” Annie’s mouth opened to ask why, but he clarified. “It didn’t seem right to start without you.”

“Thank you…” Annie blushed, though she hoped Troy didn’t notice in the shadow of the wall. She took the pages from him and flipped slowly to the first text she didn’t recognize.

Abed’s character, Jeraigor, was in the midst of a terrible decision. One, then the other of his teammates came to him and tried to convince the space detective to try their solution.  Jeraigor excused himself to his quarters. After a time of meditation, Jeraigor turned to the computer and inputted a set of coordinates.

“Oh!” Annie exclaimed softly, before reading the next words aloud. “‘Return to the mothership.’“

Troy read next, “To be continued.” He frowned. “Huh.”

“No wonder he got a bad grade.  That’s not an ending at all. Return to the moth–”

Suddenly she knew, and Troy seemed to have realized the answer at the same time.  “Mothership!”

Next: Driving a Barely-Controlled Beast

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
flyingpigs_live
Oct. 19th, 2011 11:53 pm (UTC)
This is fantastic. I love the chase through Greendale's halls, Security Guards Troy and Abed, Garrett lol, and Annie and Troy using their sexuality on Schloss lmao. And the ending, I have a feeling I know where Abed went. Can't wait to read the rest! :)
htbthomas
Oct. 20th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
The chase was seriously the most fun to write! Really, the whole Schloss section here. I love me the actiony bits. :) And you may be right about where Abed is! More on Sunday. ♥
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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