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Title: The Law of Tangents, 4/11
Author: htbthomas
Fandom: Community
Pairing: Annie/Troy (begins Abed/Annie and Abed/Troy)
Word Count: entire fic: 26,588 words, this chapter: 2,789 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

(art by pennnys)

Chapter 4: Remove One, and the Shape Collapses

The next Monday, Annie stood at the entrance to the library study room and watched Abed for a few minutes before going into the room.  He was so involved in finishing up the screenplay that she figured if she were quiet, he wouldn’t notice her there.

She’d never managed to find a way to role play characters from his favorite shows, helping him with his screenplay hadn’t brought them any closer, trying to out-gift Troy hadn’t worked. She wasn’t Troy Barnes.  She couldn’t be. She was Annie Edison, compulsive planner, star student. Why pretend otherwise? He either liked her as she was, or he never would.

Annie watched him for a few more minutes.  This suddenly felt like her last shot. She steeled herself and walked into the room.

“Hi, Annie,” Abed said without turning toward her. “I’m pretty close to finishing.  Do you want to check it over for me?”

“Definitely,” she said, sitting in Troy’s usual spot at the table. “But first, can we talk?”

He saved and closed the laptop’s cover.  “Sure.”

“Um, Abed…” Now that she was ready to put it all on the line, the words weren’t coming out easily. “You… you probably already figured this out… but I have feelings for you. I want to be more than a friend.”

To his credit, he didn’t look uncomfortable at all.  “I know.”

“Do you… could you… feel that way about me?” She smiled a small, hopeful smile.

“I know that Simon could feel that way about Kaylee, so I…”

She stopped him by lightly touching her fingers to his lips. “No TV, no movies.  Just Abed…” She moved her fingers to his heart.  “And Annie.” She shifted her fingers to her own heart.

He sat there, blinking. She wished she knew what he was thinking!

She couldn’t take another second of uncertainty.  Swooping forward and closing her eyes, she placed her lips on his.

She moved them slowly, tentatively, her tongue tapping gently between his lips for entrance.  When he opened his mouth to her, she sighed quietly. 

It felt different from the time they’d kissed as Leia and Han at the end of the paintball war – but not bad.  Not bad at all.  His kiss was more Abed, more precise, completely silent. 

Annie pressed in closer, trying to draw more of a reaction.  She scooted in, putting her arms around his neck.  He slipped an arm around her waist, and reached up to cup her jaw.

Now they were getting somewhere. She changed the angle, taking the kiss deeper. She could do this forever, she felt.

The sound of books dropping at the entrance to the study room made them break apart. She and Abed turned toward the sound.  Garrett stood there, blushing from the neck of his button-down to the top of his forehead.  “I, uh, I’m sorry, I…” He sped away like a frightened, awkward rabbit, leaving his books where they’d dropped.

Annie had been so completely into the kiss that she had forgotten where they were, that anyone could see them. “That was embarrassing.”


“Oh, no, it’s okay.  I liked it anyway.” She searched his face as she asked, “Did you?”

“Yes,” he said. “I like kissing very much.”

It wasn’t exactly the response she had been looking for. But when it came to Abed? That might be the best response to hope for.  “Kissing… me? Especially?”

“Kissing you is…” He smiled.  “…nice.”

She smiled back.

“And informative,” he continued.

Annie’s eyebrows drew down.  “Thanks?”

He seemed to realize she needed more explanation, as well as reassurance.  He placed a hand on hers. “But I’m going to need more time to process. Is that okay?”

Annie attempted an understanding smile.  “Okay.”

She got up from the table and headed for the door.  She could hear Abed beginning to type on his laptop again.  She supposed ‘process’ meant something different to Abed than it meant for her.  Which was okay.  Or at least, it had to be.

As she tried not to flee out of the library, her inner devil’s advocate whispered again before she could push it down, Is ‘nice’ enough for you, Annie?


Troy knocked lightly and entered Abed’s dorm room.  “Hey, man.” He was feeling a lot better after a weekend of make-up video game marathons. He’d never told Abed the real reason he’d left, just that he had been feeling ill.  And he needed to stop wasting time. He had to ask Abed if they could room together, or it soon it would be too late.

“Hey.” Abed lifted a hand, but kept his eyes on his laptop, frowning.

Troy sat beside him and leaned over to read. “Trouble with the screenplay?”

Abed shut the screen with a snap.  “Yes.”

“Wow, what gives?” He was suddenly hurt again – Abed had always let him read his screenplays before. He bet Annie got to read it.

“I appreciate all the advice you and Annie have been giving me, but I need to make this project my own, if I’m going to put my name on it.”

“Oh… okay.”  Maybe he was keeping it from both of them. How would Annie handle this? Would she pout and try to convince him with her–her Annie-logic that she needed to be involved? Or would she let it go? 

More importantly, how would Troy handle it?  He’d never felt inferior about his relationship with Abed before this summer, before Annie had been there every second.  He wanted it back the way it was.  But maybe Abed didn’t.  

“I–I get it, man.  I’ll let you work on it in peace.” He turned his face away, stood and started to leave.

Troy felt Abed’s hand grip his arm.  “Wait.  Don’t go.”

A small bloom of hope started in his chest, but he didn’t turn back.  “Why not? I thought it was due tomorrow.”

“There’s one more bit of research I have to complete.” Abed stood and turned Troy toward him.

“How can I–?”

All of his words were cut off as Abed leaned in to kiss him, full on the mouth.  Troy’s mind shrieked, and his body was stone-cold still with shock.

Move, damn you! his mind told him.  Isn’t this what you wanted? He managed to open his mouth a little, and Abed’s tongue entered, gently, not forcing the issue, letting Troy decide whether he wanted the kiss to go on or not.

Troy had never kissed a guy before – he had no idea about Abed – but it was… pleasant.  He had no idea what to do with his hands, though. Should he put them around Abed’s waist? His shoulders? They flailed once, and then he just kept them to his sides. Finally, he just closed his eyes, enjoying the feel of Abed’s lips against his. 

When the kiss ended, Troy opened his eyes again, blinking, to find Abed studying him.  “Did you… did you get what you needed?”

“I think so.” He sat back down, and placed his computer back on his lap.  “I think I’m ready to write the last scene now.”

“Um.” Troy scrubbed at the back of his head with a hand. “What does this…?”

“What does it mean? Too soon to tell, I think.”  He didn’t open the screen up, as if he were waiting for Troy to leave. 

Troy was even more confused than he had been since the beginning of this whole thing with Annie. Maybe it was good that Abed was busy. He’d lost all his nerve to ask about rooming together. He was going to have to think for a while. “I’ll just… go then?”


Walking to the door, he opened it and stepped into the hall. Abed was already typing away before the door closed.


Abed hit save for the final time, emailing a copy to Professor Schloss, and printing one out to be safe. He carefully placed it in a manila envelope – he could slide it under the professor’s door to find in the morning.

He pulled a duffel bag from behind the sofa, hidden where Troy would not have seen it, and unzipped it.  Yes, what he needed was there. He re-zipped the bag, slung it over his shoulder and opened his dorm room door.

At the threshold, he hesitated.  A couple of years ago, Abed would never have thought twice about anything he did, would never have questioned the correctness of a plan of action.  He had no idea if this was the right thing to do – but he could only see one way out of this situation.

He closed the door, locking it firmly.  Not that it mattered, Troy had the key.  But it felt more final – and safer from the stoner jocks down the hall – than leaving it unlocked. He didn’t look back. He couldn’t – not and be sure of his choice.

A triangle, by definition, has three sides.  Remove one – the shape collapses.


Annie couldn’t look at Troy this morning.  She feared that she would see triumph on his face. What else could the way she and Abed left things mean?  The better companion had won out. She would have to deal with disappointment.  Again.

Troy was doing the same. He hadn’t heard from Abed all night.  When he checked on Abed this morning, the room was empty, the bed made. Had he spent the night with Annie?  Troy was afraid to ask.

After several minutes of awkward silence, Annie risked a look.  She stifled a tiny gasp at what she saw. Troy was slumped in his chair, dejected.  He quickly raised his head to give her a hollow-eyed glance.

“Troy?” She was truly concerned.  “Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” he began with a nod, which then turned into a shake. “No.”

“Really?” Just what had happened after Annie left Abed yesterday?

Troy sighed. “Didn’t Abed tell you?”

“Tell me what?” Annie asked.  “I haven’t seen him since yesterday afternoon.” She wasn’t about to tell him about the kiss and the strange aftermath.

Troy’s voice rose in pitch. “You–you haven’t?” He looked oddly relieved. “Then where is he?”

“Maybe he’s late?” Annie peered down the hall from her seat. “What was he supposed to tell me?”

“Oh… nothing,” Troy said.  “Don’t worry about it.”

Annie was keeping her own secrets, but it bothered her to be kept out of Troy’s.  “Tell me.”

Troy’s face turned stubborn. “No. It’s between Abed and me, okay?”

Annie crossed her arms.  “Okay. Fine.  I won’t tell you what happened with me and Abed yesterday, either.”

Troy’s eyebrows raised incredibly high, the wrinkles deeper than she had ever seen. Then he crossed his arms. “I bet my story is better than yours.”

“Heh,” she said.  “Hardly.”

“Wanna bet?”

“I’d bet the whole pot.”

He leaned forward. “You first.”

“No.” She shook her head.  “You first.”

“Why don’t we say it at the same time, then?”

“And let you trick me into saying it first? I don’t think so.”

“Fine.” He opened his notebook and turned to a blank page.  Tearing it out, he folded and split it in half. He held one half out to her. “We’ll each write it down and trade.”

Annie nodded.  She clicked her purple pen once, firmly.  She wrote. “Abed and I kissed.  Again.” She folded it.

Troy wrote quickly and folded it as well.  They traded solemnly. “Open on three.”

“One,” Annie said.

“Two,” Troy continued.

“Three,” they said together.

Annie’s eyes went wide as she read.  “You kissed Abed?!”

The whites were showing around Troy’s eyes.  “You kissed him, too?  Again?!” He slapped the table. “When was the first time?”

“Paintball,” she answered, but her mind was reeling.  How could he kiss both of them on the same day? “I don’t understand…” Now she wished she’d never challenged Troy to find out his secret. She felt absolutely miserable.

“Me either…” He looked just as crestfallen.  “Abed has some explaining to do.”

“Agreed.”  She checked the clock again.  “Where is he?”

Troy shrugged. “Maybe he knew that we’d both be upset when we found out.”

“So he’s avoiding us?” That didn’t sound like Abed.

“Maybe.” Troy got up from his chair.  “His creative writing class is in an hour – and he’s got his project due.  We could catch him there.”

Annie stood as well. “That way he can’t avoid us.”

Troy said, “I know an awesome spot to hide so he doesn’t see us.”

Annie gave him an odd look.

“What?” He raised one eyebrow. “So you’ve never hidden in the bushes before?”

She blushed.  “Point.”  She walked with a determination she was not feeling toward the doorway.  “Lead on.”

As she followed Troy out of the library she was filled with trepidation. What would Abed say when they confronted him?


Troy and Annie watched the door to the classroom for over an hour.  Students went out, students went in.  None of them were Abed. Troy was feeling more than nervous and upset now – he was downright worried.  “Where is he? He wouldn’t cut class just to avoid us, would he?”

Annie frowned.  “I don’t think so… but you know Abed.  He always seems to be one step ahead.”

Troy brightened.  “I know, it’s so c–” He stopped and changed his answer. “–not cool this time.”

They waited another hour until class let out – maybe he had snuck in without them noticing?  But when the professor himself left and closed the door, balancing a fat stack of projects in his arms, Troy jumped up from his hiding spot.

“Troy, what?” Annie asked in a harsh whisper.

“Maybe Abed called in? We have to talk to Professor Schloss!” 

He sprinted toward the man, whose long brown coat was flapping in the wind, he was walking away so fast.

“Professor Schloss!” Troy shouted. “We need to talk to you!”

Professor Schloss stopped, a tired look on his worn but handsome face as he turned. “I’m sorry, but the due date for this project has now passed.  You can leave your work at the English department desk – but there will be a ten percent late penalty assess—” He realized that he did not recognize either Troy or Annie.  “I’m sorry, I thought you were students in my class.”

“We’re looking for Abed Nadir,” Annie told him without preamble.  “He is a student in your class. Was he there today?”

“No. Abed emailed me his project and said he would be absent.” He turned and continued walking toward his office.

“Wait!” Troy called after him, running a few steps to catch up.  “Did he say why he was absent in his email?”

“No.” Schloss stopped again, annoyance growing. A few papers were edging out of the heavy-looking stack.

Annie and Troy gave each other a worried glance. “Where is he?” Annie asked no one in particular. “It’s like he vanished!”

Suddenly, Schloss was interested. “Vanished, you say?  Hold these, young man,” he said to Troy, dropping the stack of projects in Troy’s arms without warning.  Troy barely kept them from scattering everywhere. Schloss then pulled a small notebook and pen from his inside coat pocket.  “Tell me more.”

“Well, you see, sir,” Annie said, “He wasn’t in his dorm room.  If he were sick, he should be there.  Troy here is his best friend, and he didn’t tell him where he was going. And after what happened yesterday…”

Schloss stopped scribbling furiously and asked, “What happened?”

“Um…” Annie didn’t feel this part was any of his business, but if it could help them find Abed, she would have to tell him. “He kissed both of us yesterday. We’ve been sort of… competing for him.”

“I see,” Schloss said.  “So what we have here is two guys, a girl, and a… I’m no longer interested.” He shut the notebook, put it away and unceremoniously took the stack of projects back from Troy.  “I’ve already done a love triangle book.”

“But sir!” Troy said.  “We still don’t know what happened to him!”

 “As long as he turns in his assignments on time, I don’t really care.” He turned, walked around the corner and was gone.

Annie and Troy looked at each other, dumbstruck.

What were they going to do now?

Next: Chapter 5: Those Are Only Good in Kung-Fu Movies

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