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A Stern Introduction to Adulting

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At 29 Abed should probably be looking for an apartment by himself, not asking his dad to come along and basically do all the adult parts for him.

He doesn't want to do it by himself though. What if he doesn't ask the right questions? He thinks he knows the right questions to ask, but what if he doesn't know about something he's supposed to know about? Some vital piece of homeowner information like Where is the pilot light? How old is the wiring? Does the element in the shower need to be replaced?

“I don't even understand what bit the element is...” he says flatly while staring at his potential future shower cubicle.

“Abed what are you doing? Stop just standing there, Trevor is showing us the master bedroom!”

He looks at his dad standing in the doorway and leaves the shower alone to follow behind.

Trevor is the young realtor showing them the apartment, enthusiastically answering the questions Abed's dad asks one after the other.

His dad keeps shooting Abed looks. Frustrated or maybe angry. Abed ignores him in favor of his phone.

He has three messages.

Troy: have you seen baby camels??? All legs!!!

        hows the viewing?

        do you think pizza for dinner?

Trevor and his dad are discussing double glazing ...or maybe the window latches he isn’t sure. His dad opens and closes the window a couple of times.

Abed presses video call and slips out of the bedroom back to the main room.

“Hey!” Troy answers quickly but Abed thinks he might be outside somewhere, it’s hard to see.

“Hi. I’m facetiming you so I can show you this apartment. I need you to tell me what you think.” He tells him and turns the phone around so he can give Troy a tour of the living area.

He walks the phone around the living room in a circle, pausing at the window to try to get the view outside but Troy says it’s too bright and he can’t actually make anything out.

“The walls are all blank so there’s plenty of space to put up my posters.” He explains. He continues on to the small cramped kitchen area that Trevor called a “breakfast snug” panning slowly over the standard looking cupboards and fittings.

He ends up in the bathroom showing Troy the shower cubicle because he doesn’t want to go into the bedroom where his dad is talking to Trevor.

“Um yeah it looks...like a shower?” Troy offers and Abed puts the toilet lid down so he can sit on it, then turns the phone back to face him.

“I know it’s not very exciting. But it’s a new build and it’s only 10 years old. I’d only be the 2nd person to live in it.” Abed says and Troy raises his eyebrows and offers him a slightly expectant expression.

“Does that mean you like it? Are those...things that you’re looking for?”

“Am I? I mean sure, they aren’t negative things. But there are a lot of factors to balance and just because it’s a relatively new building doesn’t mea-”

“Abed. Do you like the apartment? Yes or no.” Troy asks him sincerely.

“Well it’s ok… What do you think?” Abed replies wishing Troy had come with him. Apart from his dorm room he’d never actually lived anywhere by himself. Walking Troy around the sad little apartment was making him even less enthusiastic about the prospect of living alone.  

“It’s kind of hard to tell over facetime to be honest,” Troy says.  “...it seems nice though. I mean the kitchen is a little small...”

Abed groans “This is why I called you! I don’t know if it’s any good. I mean what if I say it’s fine and then I move in and it’s terrible and the faucets leak and the walls have mold and the element in the shower doesn’t work and-”

“Abed, Abed chill dude. You don’t have to put an offer in if you don’t like it. And if you move in and something is broken you can always ask me to fix it.” He says and Abed nods because that’s true. “The most important thing,” Troy continues “is can you imagine living there?”

He tries to picture himself living there. Waking up every morning in the west-facing bedroom. Making cereal in the tiny kitchen. Eating by himself on the sofa in the bare living room.

“I'm not sure…” he says finally.

“Maybe you need somewhere bigger, that you can grow into you know?” Troy suggests.

Abed isn’t dating anyone right now, he doesn’t think an expanding family is on the cards any time soon. Honestly it’s not really a priority, he doesn’t know if that’s something he should admit though.

There’s a noise on the other side of the call and Troy moves out of the screen for a minute before reappearing with an apologetic smile.

“Hey I gotta go just now, okay? Let me know when you're finished with the viewing. I’m going to the store on the way home so I’ll grab some frozen pizza.”

“Sure, see you later.” The call disconnects and Abed is left holding his phone sitting on the toilet in a stranger’s bathroom.

He looks around the room and sees a huge decorative conch shell on the floor, a glass jar of sand next to the sink and a dead starfish in a frame on the wall. Why would anyone want to see a dead animal every time they use the bathroom?

Abed sighs. He shoves his phone back in his pocket and goes out to meet his dad and Trevor who are embroiled in a heated discussion about boiler maintenance.

-

After the viewing Abed’s dad takes him for lunch and keeps trying to ask his opinion on the apartment while Abed picks over his burger and fries.

He doesn't know what to say other than “it was fine” because it was. He doesn't have any specific reasons for not liking it. Except that when he imagines buying an apartment and signing a contract and moving in he feels hot and panicky and has to stop. He hasn’t been able to explain this to his dad yet because he isn't sure why, other than his dislike of change in general.

His dad continues trying to get his opinion on the furnishings, the location, the parking options for the building. His stomach starts to hurt and he pushes half of his food away uneaten.

“I’m not sure I’m ready to be buying an apartment yet.” He finally admits. His dad goes silent and his face becomes closed to him. He feels a swooping in his stomach.   

“Abed you are almost 30 years old.” His dad replies sternly. “I want to make sure you have somewhere to live that’s yours. That you aren’t paying rent to someone else your whole life. A place of your own is security. I want to be able to grow old knowing you are looked after.”

Abed looks down at the table and doesn’t know what to say. He knows his dad is looking out for him, that he just wants the best for him.

He has no idea what’s wrong with him. Why he isn’t excited about getting a place of his own and grateful that his dad is helping him with the down payment. Other people don’t want to still have roommates going into their 30s he’s pretty sure. But those other people also probably don’t live with their best friend.

Abed doesn’t tell his dad that living with Troy is the most at home he’s ever felt and the idea of losing that to sit on a moderately priced sofa and watch TV by himself in an empty one bedroom place makes him feel physically ill. They’ve been in their current place for 3 years, it’s the longest Abed has lived anywhere since moving out.

Eventually his dad drops the subject but when he’s dropping Abed off after lunch he tells him that he’s scheduled another viewing on Tuesday and the hot sick feeling comes back over Abed and fills his stomach with unease.

The feeling stays with him all the way into his apartment. He crawls straight into bed even though it’s barely 2pm and spends the rest of the afternoon trying to nap the feeling away.

-

Abed doesn’t want to let Troy know that the apartment hunt is making him miserable.

He doesn’t really want to talk to him about it at all because their lease is up in a few months and Troy hasn’t seemed bothered by the fact that Abed might be moving into his own place. He’s doesn’t know what’s worse... that Troy might be secretly relieved that he and Abed won’t be living together any more, or that he will barely notice when Abed is gone.

Abed tells himself he’s being dramatic. Their friendship group is definitely more scattered than when they were all at Greendale, but Abed and Troy have been sharing the same apartment since the year Troy came back from his trip and Abed graduated. When Troy came back everything between them slotted so easily back into place it was like he had never left.

Abed can’t ever remember ever being as content as he feels now. He’s even got a job that he looks forward to going to every day. A contact with a long-distance learning institution who first hired him to create some promotional videos but now have him helping to create short videos for courses. He’s working on videos that explain everything from organic chemistry to 18th century european history.

He never thought he would be doing this kind of work but it’s turned out well for him. It pays well enough that between that and Troy’s repairman salary they are able to rent a good-sized 3 bedroom apartment right next to a park and not too far from where he works.

Even thinking about looking for an apartment by himself fills him with dread because it means losing the stability he’s built up. It’s not a secret that Abed doesn’t love change, but he’s a little embarrassed at how much he wants things to stay how they are right now.

He doesn’t want to let slip that actually he would be happy with things staying this way forever. He knows he would be satisfied if he came home from work and watched the same tv shows and ate the same thing for dinner every single day. As long as it was in their apartment. He’s happy here.

He knows it’s kind of weird that he doesn’t want to change and move on with his life. That he doesn’t see himself married with kids in a few years.

He ends up accidentally venting some of his feelings while they’re watching Bridesmaids during movie night that week.  

“Why couldn’t she just be single and keep hooking up with Jon Hamm forever?” he had argued at the beginning while Kristen Wiig scrambles awkwardly over a security gate in an amusing walk of shame sequence.

“I thought this movie was supposed to be all about female empowerment, but the message is that she’s miserable being single...until the end where she ends up with the Irish police officer. Is she really going to chose Roy over Don Draper?”

“What? Abed no!” Troy looks affronted. “Jon Hamm is a total pig to her! You’re getting the movie all wrong. She’s not miserable because she’s single, she’s miserable because all her friends are moving on with their lives. They are getting married and having kids and making new friends. Her business has failed and she is stuck in a rut.”

“I see.” Abed says around his straw and watches the screen thoughtfully.

“So you’re saying her character doesn’t want a man, she wants to have passed the milestone of having got a man. I see.” He says, but Troy pulls a face in disagreement.

“What? No, now you're making it sound like she doesn’t even care about Nathan.”

“Does she?”

“Yes!”

They are distracted by excited yelling on the screen as Maya Rudolph’s character Lillian announces her engagement and asks Annie to be a titular bridesmaid.

At the engagement party scene Abed rolls his eyes at the gag where the other guests assume Annie has come with her significant other, but then Melissa McCarthy’s character is introduced and he remembers why he enjoys this movie so much.

It’s funny and fast-paced, with a strong cast and a good balance of comedy and genuine emotion for the audience to relate to throughout. Even though they’ve seen it before both Troy and he end up laughing out loud at scene after scene.

Towards the end Abed gets offended all over again for Annie’s character. The Irish Cop and Annie drive off from Lillian’s wedding in his police car and Abed tuts.

“They had a solid script about the friendship between two women, I really think they undermined Annie’s character by obsessing over her singleton status and having her end up with the first nice guy she meets.”

“Abed just because she had a romance with Nathan doesn’t mean her character arc was shallow!”

“So he’s not just a status symbol? To prove to the other women that she’s no longer single?”

“It’s not a status thing! She can find someone to share her life with and get married to and have babies with if that’s what she wants. There’s nothing anti-feminist about that!” Troy is looking at him wide-eyed and determined.

“No, no of course not, you’re right.” He concedes, not sure what they’re suddenly arguing about or how they got here.

“Everyone deserves to be happy on their own terms.” Troy says.

Abed nods like he agrees, but privately he’s not actually sure that he does agree. He turns the idea around in his head and decides that sometimes being happy on your own terms means making other people really unhappy.

For example he’d be happy to stay in their rented apartment indefinitely, but that would disappoint his dad, and maybe even Troy but he’s not sure. He wants to do what makes him happy but he doesn’t want to let anyone down. He just doesn’t understand why there has to be this expectation for him to move on and settle down.

“What if she’s just been conditioned into thinking that she can’t be happy without a husband and a family and a career?” he asks Troy. “What if she’s just doing it to fit in? What if she marries Nathan and then realizes it isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be? Who says she wasn’t better off single and hooking up with Jon Hamm?!”

Troy’s eyes get wide and he stares at Abed. “Are we still talking about the movie or are we talking about something else? This feels like a metaphor….is hooking up with Jon Hamm a metaphor for something else?”

Abed draws his knees up to his chest and looks at the logo on Troy’s shirt.

“In the movie Lillian is getting married, this big life milestone that Annie hasn’t achieved and it creates a rift between them. Annie is unhappy because she thinks she’s being left behind. That there isn’t a place for her in Lillian’s new married life.” He tries to explain.

“...Is this about us? Are we Annie and Lillian?” Troy asks slowly. “Do you think one of us is going to get married and we’ll drift apart?”

“Kind of? No, no not really. I’ve just been thinking about our lease ending.” He sighs and shifts his gaze to somewhere over Troy’s shoulder insead.

“I don’t want to move out.” He admits. “I don’t want to get my own place. I just want everything to stay exactly like it is right now. It’s not about us being Annie and Lillian, it’s about me being Annie. Except I don’t want to get married, I want to stay single and hook up with Jon Hamm whenever I feel like it forever.”

“So hooking up with Jon Hamm is a metaphor? I knew it!”

“I guess hooking up with Jon Hamm is a metaphor for… not conforming to traditional life goals.”

“Right got it. No wait, what are we talking about? You don’t want to get your own apartment?”

“I like the stage I’m in now. We have our own jobs, we can rent an apartment in the nice part of town and afford a three bedroom between us.” The dreamatorium has never been so pimped out. “I just don’t see why this all has to change. I’m happy with things the way they are.”

Troy is quiet for a few moments, he isn’t smiling but he isn’t frowning either and Abed isn’t sure what he’s thinking.

“I’m pretty happy with how things are right now as well.” He says slowly. “Honestly? I wanted to be excited for you when you said you were looking to get your own place after our lease ends, but it’s gonna be so weird. It’s like the end of an era.”

Abed’s mouth turns down, he doesn’t want anything to end.

“I’m worried we won’t hang out as much if we live apart.” he admits.

“Of course we’ll hang out!” Troy insists.

“It won’t be the same though.” He says and he knows Troy knows he’s right. “We won’t do movie night as often, or go for breakfast at Mimi’s on sundays...we won’t have 48-hour game marathons over the weekend any more...we won’t be able to invite everyone over to celebrate 4th July again...” He trails off feeling miserable and overwhelmed.

Troy looks away, frustrated. “Maybe you can just stay then? If neither of us want things to change then they don’t have to. ”

“So we both keep living together then?” He asks and Troy looks back to him.

“Yeah, why not? We both stay and keep everything the way it is.” Troy says like it’s just that simple, and suddenly it is.

Relief washes over Abed and finally seems to settle the seasick anxiety in his stomach. Troy is with him in this, he isn’t being left behind.

“But uh…” Troy blurts, looking sheepish. “We still need to figure out where we’re going to live once the lease ends. The landlord is selling this place so we’ll need to find somewhere else.”

Abed flashes him a smile. “I think I have a plan.”

-

“I can’t believe I never thought of this!” Troy exclaims for the (by Abed’s count) fourth time that day.

The first time had been about using scissors to cut a pizza up after the wheel on the pizza cutter had broken off. The second, third and fourth times had been about, once Abed had explained it, the cunning plan for them to buy their apartment from their landlord Mrs Papathanasiou.

It wasn’t actually very cunning, it just kind of made sense. Even though most of Troy’s inheritance from Pierce was in stocks and non-liquid assets, he still has access to more than enough money for a down payment and he has no trouble qualifying for a mortgage. And Abed’s dad is determined to help him become a homeowner by contributing money to the cause. So cash isn’t going to be a problem for them.

Mrs Papathanasiou has been their landlord for three years and lives down the street from them. She is very sweet and always sends them cards on the holidays and a bottle of wine at new year. She’d recently gotten a divorce from Mr Papathanasiou and decided to sell the apartment and use the money to move out of state.

Troy had told Abed that she had told him that she was moving to Virginia to live near her daughter. Troy thought it was sweet.

Abed had thought it was inconvenient.

-

They drove to the falafel restaurant to tell his dad that they’d put an offer in for their apartment.

Abed’s dad it turned out was somewhat less enthusiastic about the plan than Troy had been.

Abed opened with “Guess what, I found an apartment!” and his dad looked somewhat bewildered.

“What? You have? Already? Where?”

“Where we live now!” Abed explained with Troy nodding excitedly beside him.

“It’ll be great Mr Nadir, it’s going to be like moving without having to move anything. We don’t even have to redecorate!” Troy added excitedly.

It was about here in the conversation that Abed’s dad pulled Abed into the kitchen to have a private word with him and let him know exactly what he thought of Abed’s great plan.

-

On the way home Troy asks him what his dad had said.

“I’m not sure about this Abed.” he says in an imitation of his father. “I know you and Troy are good friends but are you sure it’s a good idea to buy property together? What if you want to go your separate ways a few years? I don’t think you’ve thought this through Abed.”

Troy winces sympathetically. “So he’s not a big fan of Casa Trobed?”

Abed drops the persona and presses his lips together in a thin line, he shakes his head once before looking out the passenger window for the rest of the journey.

-

Later that evening Troy suggests they camp out in his room and catch up with The Automatons. The pilot for the show had been a mix of futuristic world building and robot-human intrigue that promised a twist-heavy plot.

Abed is pretty sure it’s just a ploy to distract him from the conversation with his dad, but he goes along with it. He really wants to find out why the leader of the robot resistance was making shady deals with the human government at the end of the first episode.

They end up binge watching three 60 minute episodes back to back and when they’re caught up it’s 2am and Abed’s eyes are heavy but his brain is buzzing.

“I still can’t believe the leader of the resistance was a red herring from the first episode and that the President of the Collective Nations was a sleeper agent for the rogue robot faction this whole time!” He says loudly but Troy is completely passed out under the covers. He’s lying on his back breathing deeply and snoring a little.  

Abed turns the TV off and quietly puts the tv remote onto the bedside table. Then instead of getting up and going back to his own room straight away, he hesitates. The room is dark and Troy’s breathing is steady and comforting. He feels a bone-deep contentedness that he thinks he’ll lose if he goes back to his own room.

They’ve only just put an offer in today, and they might not even get the apartment, but the idea of having his own place suddenly feels satisfying to him for the first time. Knowing that Troy is on the same page as him is a big reassurance.

His dad doesn’t think he’s doing the right thing, but this feels a lot more right than the sad one bedroom apartments he’d been considering. He just doesn’t know how to get his dad to understand that.

A small part of him has reservations though. He can’t stop replaying what his dad said about them eventually going their separate ways. Abed knows that his dad thinks that he takes advantage of Troy’s friendship, that he takes advantage of Troy a little bit. That he relies on him too much to be his support system and a buffer against the rest of the world. That eventually Troy is going to get tired of being an Abed-English translator.

And maybe that was true in their early friendship, but they’ve definitely changed as people since then. When Troy went on his voyage Abed had felt so abandoned, but in the end it gave Abed a push to branch out and spend more time with Annie and the rest of the group. It bothers Abed that his dad hasn’t noticed how much everything has changed for him since then.

He’s hard work, he knows that. The thing about Troy though, is that he doesn’t think Abed is hard work. Ok so maybe (probably) Troy doesn’t consider coming home every single day and eating the same meal and watching the same show appealing like Abed does, but he gets that Abed does, and that’s important. Abed is old enough to realize that when you find friends like that, you hold onto them.

-

When he wakes up in the morning he realizes that he must have fallen asleep in Troy’s room after The Automatons mini-marathon last night.

He finds Troy dressed for work and eating toast on the living room sofa. He’s watching tv and channel-surfing aimlessly when Abed joins him.

“Morning sleephead” Troy says mid-chew, inadvertently flashing Abed a view of masticated toast.

Abed looks at the clock on the tv, it’s already ten thirty. He groans and shuffles across the room and onto the sofa, then pulls his knees to his chest and slumps against the armrest. Troy takes pity and hands him a cup of coffee. It’s gone kind of cold but Abed takes a few grateful gulps anyway until he feels his brain coming back online.  

“I can’t believe I fell asleep last night! I completely missed everything after the scene with the bomb exploding in the museum.” Troy complains.

“Mmmn,” Abed says swallowing lukewarm coffee. “...you should watch the rest of the episode, we find out who the Commander in Chief is married to. It’s so not who you think!”

“Really? Ok don’t tell me! I wanna watch it and see if I guessed right.”

Abed mimes sealed lips and then locks them with an invisible key and throws it away to be sure.

Checking the time and grimacing Troy leaves the plate with an uneaten slice of toast on the coffee table and grabs his wallet and phone. “I have to head to work” he says sliding the wallet into his jeans. “I’ll be finished around one so let me know if you want to grab lunch or something.”

Abed mumbles an affirmative around a mouthful of toast and shoots Troy a thumbs-up as he leaves.

After he’s done eating he considers his plans for the day. It’s Saturday so technically he could meet up with Troy for lunch, but they’ve already spent a ton of time together over the past few days. He’s still feeling tense after the conversation with his dad and probably that’s what makes him decide to go for a run along the scenic trail by himself instead.

On the way back he walks the long way home just so he can pass the salad bar with his favourite almond milk, peanut butter & cinnamon smoothie and doesn’t think about whether two best friends buying an apartment together is a weird idea.

-

After dinner Troy says he’s going to watch the episode of The Automatons that he missed the night before, and Abed volunteers to rewatch it with him because he's pretty sure that he didn’t manage catch all of the classic sci-fi shout outs on the first watch.

Half way through the episode Abed looks over and sees Troy has fallen asleep again. He turns off the TV and decides he’s way too tired to get up and move to his own bed.

He probably shouldn’t overstay his welcome, but Troy didn’t say anything today about Abed falling asleep in his room last night. And Abed can’t deny how much he enjoyed it. There is something overwhelmingly comforting about sleeping next to another person.

“Hey” Troy opens his eyes rolls towards Abed. “Sorry I fell asleep again I guess.”  he says.

“It’s fine.” Abed says quietly.

Troy’s voice is heavy with sleep when he says “...y’can stay here tonight.” and Abed isn’t sure he’s really all that awake but he slides down to make himself comfy anyway. Troy’s hand reaches across and to catch Abed’s hand in his and he links their fingers.

Abed falls asleep to the sound of Troy snoring quietly beside him.

-

Abed is at the kitchen table eating lunch the next day while his dad dries the dishes and puts them away. It doesn’t matter how old you get, it’s always the best thing in the world to have a parent bring you a home-cooked meal.

It’s Troy’s day off but he’s giving his nana a ride to church, so it’s just Abed and his dad for lunch.  

He waits until he’s finished chewing before placing his fork down neatly.

“Hey, can I ask you a question?”

His dad he nods and leaves the dishes to come to sit with him at the table.

There's silence for a long moment while Abed tries to work out what he wants to say. He wants to ask his dad about when he was Abed’s age, how did he know what he wanted to do with his life?

When he doesn’t start speaking his dad prompts him.

“What’s on your mind?”

“Why did you get married to mom?” Abed finally asks while looking at his water glass. He’s aware of his dad leaning back in his chair a little and considering the question.

“Why did we get married? Well we loved one another...” Abed sighs. That wasn’t what he meant. He didn’t mean why did they get married, he means why did his dad decide that marriage and a family were for him in the first place. Sure he loves Troy and he wants to live with him, but he doesn’t think his mom and dad’s romance really relates to his situation. It’s completely different.

He drums his fingers on the edge of the table and tries to think of another way to word it.

His dad is looking at him and frowning, eyebrows pulled together. “Why are you asking about this Abed? Have you been trying to contact your mother again?”

Abed sighs again, shaking his head a little. “No I just want to know… How did you know marrying mom was right for you? What made you sure? What made you decide that marriage was the right choice? I guess you didn’t think you would end up divorced, but what made you think it would all work out? That mom and me and the falafel shop were the future you wanted?”

His dad doesn’t answer him straight away, and when Abed chances a glance at his face he looks concerned. Abed hates when people look at him like that. He isn’t explaining himself well, but he waits it out.

“Well…” His dad starts slowly. “We had a good relationship, we worked well together. We used to laugh all the time when we were first married. Back before we had the falafel shop, we used to live in this terrible little apartment you know, above this bar.” Abed nods because he’s heard the story of his parent’s first apartment multiple times.

“It was near chinatown and you hated how loud it was, especially during karaoke thursday, but there was a great chinese restaurant at the end of the street with the best soup dumplings you’ve ever had.”

“Yes” his dad is smiling, but he isn’t looking at Abed any more, he’s staring into the distance. “Your mother had a great spirit you know, I would go anywhere she wanted to go and just watch her all night. She was stunning”

Abed imagines his parents, young and carefree. High on life and each other. Before he came along and things started to turn sour. Before everything went wrong and their marriage went up in smoke.

He doesn’t really have many memories of his parents in love he doesn’t think. With his mom at work during the day and his dad at the restaurant at night he isn’t sure when they would have had time to be in love.

And it bothers him. All relationships are baffling, but he had a front row seat during his parents divorce and he still doesn’t get it. Both his dad and his mom said it wasn’t about him. But if they were in love and had a happy future ahead of them, then when did they stop being in love? Where did all their plans go?

He’s not angry about their divorce, but he doesn’t think it’s left him very prepared to understand relationships. There’s no blueprint for him to work from. He can’t picture himself in one. When he imagines it in his head he tries to think in terms of TV. But it doesn’t work because the Inspector and Reggie are partners but they aren’t a couple, and everything else feels alien.

All of the media, all of the TV shows and movies say that you’ll eventually settle down with someone and grow old into the future. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of advice for when you don’t want to settle down or when the future you planned out falls apart, or when you want to live with someone but not necessarily get married to them.

And what if it didn’t work out between his parents because they just grew tired of looking after him? Abed knows it was difficult for them when he was born, and as he grew up his mom struggled more and more to cope with him. What if that happens again? What if history repeats itself and living with Abed is too much for Troy after a while?

The front door bangs open and jolts both of them out of their respective reveries. They hear the sound of clinking and shuffling before the door closes and Troy is shouting “hey!” and coming into the kitchen with bags full of groceries.

He dumps all of the bags on the counter before joining them at the table, dropping himself into the seat next to Abed.

Troy shoots a look between him and his dad and Abed thinks he’s probably trying to figure out if they’ve been arguing. He doesn’t know how to signal to him that they haven’t and that everything is fine without being obvious. He tries to convey it with his eyes anyway but he isn’t sure he succeeds because Troy just looks mildly concerned.

“Hello Troy,” his dad greets and asks him “are you hungry? There is mussakhan chicken and flatbread if you want.” even though Troy lives here and can get his own lunch if he wants.

“Nah it’s cool I already ate, but thanks Mr Nadir.” Troy says and then shoots a hopeful glance at Abed who rolls his eyes.

“Yes, there’s some in the fridge.”

“Sweet!” Troy first pumps and then tries to high five Abed’s dad who stares at him until he gives up.  

Baklava has been Abed’s favourite dessert since childhood. He’s started asking his dad to bring extra over because Troy has become obsessed with it lately.

“You know you could just buy it from the Iranian bakery down the street.” Abed says and Troy looks scandalised.

“What? No way I could never betray your dad’s Baklava, it’s the best!” he replies and Abed snorts.

“Like you’ve ever tasted any other kind.”

“I don’t need to taste them to know which is the best! You can tell when something is made with love, you can’t buy that kind of thing in a store.” Abed can’t help but smile a little at the passionate defense of his family dessert.

Troy smiles back and winks across the table at Abed’s dad.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got your back Mr Nadir.”

Abed’s dad rolls his eyes a little at Troy but it’s in a fond way. It’s hard not to feel that way about Troy.

Abed feels the frustration from earlier melt away and figures Troy’s good mood is infectious. This is one of Troy’s superpowers for sure, being able to brighten up the whole room just by walking into it.

Troy grabs a takeaway menu from the table and uses it to fan himself with, he’s sweating a little in his t-shirt from being outside in the sun and he’s brought the smell of cut grass in with him.

“You smell like sunshine and outside.” Abed informs him. Troy laughs and says thank you like Abed was paying him a compliment and bumps their shoulders together.  

When Abed looks up his dad is watching them both from across the table and he feels uncomfortable. He gets up a little abruptly to avoid his dad’s gaze and starts to put away the groceries.

He feels a little bit embarrassed for some reason even though he hasn’t done anything embarrassing. He allows his dad and Troy carry on most of the conversation doesn’t catch anyone’s eye for the rest of lunch. He feels relieved when his dad says he has to be heading home.

Before leaving his dad sighs and pulls him into a long hug and tells him he’ll give him a call during the week.

“Everything ok?” Troy asks when he comes back to the living room.

Abed starts to nod then kind of just shrugs. His dad might not always understand him or be able to give him advice, but at least he’s always there for him. That has to count for something.  

-

Troy finally gets around to watching the fourth episode of The Automatons all the way to the end later that afternoon. Immediately afterwards he pulls Abed into the Dreamatorium to reenact The Pre-Android History Museum from the year 2557.

They act out human and android visitors on a tour of the museum which is hosting an exhibition about objects from the 2000s, trying to figure out what each weird item was used for by their ancestors.  

Android tourist Troy ends up getting in an argument with history professor Abed about whether the flat circular disks with the holes in the middle were a popular method of data storage or tossed from a distance onto a thin cylinder as a sport. The argument escalates until Professor Abed suddenly pulls a raygun on Andoird Troy and everything goes to hell.

By the time they settle the argument it’s late and they decided to power down the dreamatorium and head to bed. Before they make it to their separate rooms Troy remembers a youtube video of a terrifying robot doll who sings to the camera that he wanted to show Abed.

He invites Abed into his room and they watch the video on his laptop. It’s creepy as hell and sends them down a youtube hole of bizarre and unexplainable videos that get so weird they need to spend another 20 minutes watching funny animal videos just so they can get to sleep.

“You staying?” Troy asks when they are both too tired to keep their eyes open. Abed says yes because Troy’s bed is safe and comfortable. From here it doesn’t seem weird that they might buy the apartment together. It doesn't seem like anyone's business but their own.

“You don’t mind?” Abed asks.

“I don’t mind.” Troy says softly, and Abed thinks he might be saying something else as well but he can’t be sure.

He doesn’t know if it’s the comfort of having someone sleeping next to him or not, but he doesn’t actually have any nightmares of the scary singing doll lady. He does have an inexplicable dream about baby camels walking the runway at Paris Fashion Week though.

-

The next day at work Troy messages him to say that Mrs Papathanasiou wants to accept their offer on the apartment.

Abed reads the message through once and then gives himself permission to freak out a little.

At first he’s excited, but then his brain goes into overdrive and all of the doubts and questions that have been building up inside for days suddenly spill over.

All of a sudden he can’t stop thinking about how fast this is happening and how his dad doesn’t think it’s a smart idea and how he really has no idea if he feels ready to be a homeowner.

Also, if he’s being honest with himself, he’s not sure what’s going on between him and Troy. When it comes to his friends Troy is generous to a fault, but does that really include buying an apartment with Abed?  

He knows they have to sit down and talk about this like responsible grownups. Figure out what they’re doing here. If Troy is just doing this to help Abed out then there’s no need for them to buy the apartment together. Abed can borrow money from his dad for the deposit and put everything in his name and then Troy can pay rent to him. Or vice versa. That makes more sense right?

Unless Troy wants to own the apartment with Abed? Make it theirs in a more permanent sense? How long does he plan on living with Abed? How long until he gets tired of him?

He realizes he’s clenching his teeth and forces himself to stop. Let’s be rational here. Just because his mom couldn’t stick it, doesn’t mean that’s got anything to do with him and Troy living together.

He knows why this is stressing him out so much. He wants this to happen so badly. He wants them to keep living together in this place he thinks of as home now. He wants Troy to inexplicably choose Abed over the possibility of getting an apartment by himself. Because Abed would choose Troy over pretty much any other possibility. He can’t imagine not having Troy right next to him.

He’s not stupid, he knows this not how people generally feel about their friends.

When it’s just the two of them in the apartment or in front of a camera, and only because Troy’s really cool and lets Abed play whatever role he wants, he sometimes plays the sidekick to Abed’s protagonist.

In the real world however Abed isn’t a main character. He’s a quirky side character with limited screen time and no real plot arc. In small doses his personality can be endearing, but sometimes he’s weird in a way that scares other people, even Troy.  

And maybe it’s not what he imagined for himself, but faced with the possibility he realizes how bad he wants a future where Troy is there when he wakes up every single day.

He wasn’t expecting to have a dramatic relationship twist this far in if he’s honest.

He leaves his desk and walks out of the office and down the corridor on autopilot. The bathroom smells strongly of bleach as he shuffles past a cleaner and fumbles the stall door closed. His throat is tight and a high pitched whine is trying to fight it’s way up and out.

I agreed to platonically move in with my best friend and now I’ve realized there might be something more between us but I don’t know if it’s worth risking our friendship over. I am literally living a romcom cliché.

Abed bangs his head against the side of the stall until the cleaner comes over and asks him if he’s okay.

-

Abed ends up telling his boss he’s coming down with the flu and goes home early.

Out of habit he starts tapping out a message to Troy and then stops because he doesn’t know what to say to him right now.

“Are we moving in together?”  Seems ridiculous and reminds Abed that there’s a strong possibility that all of this is just wishful thinking on his part.

He deletes the message and starts a new one instead.

Abed: :( :( :( :(

Annie: whats up?

Abed: bad day.

Annie: sounds serious! ...need a shoulder to cry on? Tell Aunty Annie your troubles!

Abed: It kind of involves Troy. I’d feel weird talking about it with you behind his back.

Annie: of course it involves Troy

Abed: What does that mean?

Annie: no nothing! Not in a bad way! Just you know

Abed: Know what?

Annie: well you guys spend most of your time together is all. So it just makes sense

Annie: sorry, i didn’t mean anything by it

Abed: It’s okay

Annie: want to come hang out? I’ll cheer you up with food and beer!

Abed figures Annie is the perfect person to help him out of a funk and tells her he’ll be over in 30 minutes.

-

Annie takes a Tupperware box from the counter and moves it to the table. Inside are half a dozen little cakes shaped like cacti. Each green cactus shaped-cake is covered in white sprinkles and has a little pink sugar-flower on top. Each has been placed on a bed of (presumably chocolate) soil in it’s own little ceramic dessert pot.

“Annie these are amazing! How long did this take you?” Abed coos over the little cakes and takes the one that Annie hands to him.

“Eh not that long, i mean it’s really just two cupcakes stuck together with chocolate spread and some food coloring.” she says as though Abed isn’t holding modern baked goods art in his hands.

He takes a picture and sends it to Troy with a cactus emoji next to a cake. Troy messages straight back with heart-eyes.

Abed: Annie made them! aren’t they great?

Troy: you guys are hanging out? Bring me a cupcake back!

Annie notices him texting and arches an eyebrow.

“If that’s Troy tell him he’s welcome to come over.” Abed hums and pretends to be busy texting back.  

“He’s working, emergency call-out to fix an air-con unit in the hospital across town.”

Annie looks like she has something to say but isn’t sure how to say it.

“Is everything...good with you two? You didn’t have a fight or anything?” She asks worried. Considering Abed and Troy have only ever had one legitimate fight before and it was pretty dramatic Abed understands her concern.

“We didn’t have a fight.” He says truthfully, but his tone is flat and he looks away uncomfortably.

Annie sighs and gives Abed’s sleeve a sympathetic tug.

“I’m here if you wanna talk about it.” She says.

“Thanks Annie, but honestly it’s nothing.” He assures and then successfully distracts her with a flurry of questions about the new guy in her office that take them onto the general pitfalls of office romances and inevitability of workplace gossip.

It was a good idea to come hang out with Annie he thinks as she gesticulates wildly in an impression of her crazy boss. They don’t get nearly as many opportunities to hang out as they used to and Abed misses her a lot.

He stays for dinner and they order take-out and spend hours catching up and trading stories. By the end of the evening Abed feels calmer and lighter than he has in days.

When Abed gets a text and checks his phone he realizes it’s nearly 8.30pm. The text is a message from Troy asking if Abed can come pick him up and give him a ride home.

He thanks Annie for the company and the food and promises they’ll organise a group dinner soon.

-

By the time Abed makes it across town to pick up Troy and then gets them home it’s after 9pm and Troy looks wiped. He leans his forehead against Abed’s back like it’s too heavy to hold up as Abed unlocks the door and lets them in.

They get straight into pajamas and move around each other in the bathroom, passing the toothpaste between them. Abed thinks about how they are committing to a mortgage together and that they’ve slept in the same bed for the last three nights and he isn’t sure what it means.

Tonight Troy looks at him in the mirror while Abed finishes brushing and asks, with a kind of casual indifference, if Abed is staying in his room tonight? Abed can’t read any sort of intent from his voice but he feels a sort of nervous energy between them when he spits and replies yeah, sure.

He follows Troy to his bed and they get in their respective sides and lie under the covers with a space between them like kids at a sleepover. For the last couple of nights Abed has fallen asleep pretty much as soon as his head has hit the pillow but tonight all he can do is lie awake on his side and think about how Troy looked at him in the bathroom. He wonders whether Troy is lying on across the bed wishing that Abed would get closer, that he would press his back to Troy’s front. If he wishes Abed would turn around and close the distance between them.

Abed shifts his legs until they hit Troy’s, where the touch could just be accidental. Now there is a solid point of contact between them. Either he’s being the brave one or he’s reading this all wrong. For Abed, it’s a 50/50 gamble. Troy’s breathing is deliberately slow and even behind him and he waits for a reaction. He feels hyper alert, listening for every sound Troy makes, jittery with nerves.

He feels Troy’s arm reach across over the covers to settle around his waist. He wraps his own arm over Troy’s to keep it there and Troy links their fingers together. It feels nice but Abed’s heart is racing, he’s too nervous to really enjoy it.

Troy squeezes Abed’s fingers and Abed thinks they might both be shivering a little. He hopes it's not just him. He squeezes back a little too.

In the interests of moving the plot along to where this seems to be going Abed should probably say something. He doesn't have a line ready for this situation.

One of them should at least be able to put a name to what’s going on, he thinks. To what it is that they’re doing here.

But he hesitates because in the dark everything feels unreal and fragile like if he says it out loud it won’t happen. His brain is buzzing with possibilities and his thoughts are deafening in the quiet of the room and he’s scared that Troy can’t hear any of it.

Because the two of them have been building towards this all week and Troy hasn’t acknowledged any of it during the day and that makes something in the pit of Abed’s stomach feel weird.  

He scoots back and tugs Troy’s arms until they are spooning and he can feel Troy’s mouth at his hairline, pressing a light kiss against his neck. His skin feels hypersensitive where Troy’s lips touch and all the little hairs on the back of his neck rise.

Troy untangles their fingers and slips his hand under Abed’s shirt like it's just any other touch between them. He runs the flat of his palm gently down the plain of Abed’s chest to his belly and back up, over and over again until Abed feels warm all over.

“This ok?” He asks and Abed nods shakily. His chest is hitching with breath every time Troy’s hand gets to the bottom of a stroke and he palms the stretch of skin just above Abed’s waistband.

He tips his head back when the touch dips under his waistband and lingers on the soft skin there. His head knocks into Troy’s who huffs out a laugh and kisses his ear.

He reaches back to grab at Troy’s hip, wanting to reciprocate the touch, and Troy must take it for encouragement because he pushes his thigh between Abed’s, pressing himself tight along Abed’s back. Abed feels his dick poking him, already getting hard.  

It’s stifling under the covers and Abed feels damp with sweat. It’s getting to the point where he’s sticking to his pajamas. He tugs the sheet down further to their waists and feels the sweat gathering under his arms and behind his knees.   

“Abed,” Troy says quietly, hugging him from behind.

He's not sure where he wants this to go. He thought he didn’t want anything to change, that he wanted everything to stay exactly the same, but this would change everything for sure.

Then Abed is struggling to sit up and saying “Wait” and Troy lets him go immediately.

Once he’s sitting up he doesn’t feel like he’s going to boil to death as much. He takes off his pajama top as well.

“Can I turn on the light?” he asks and Troy, who has gone very quiet and still, says yes.

“Are you ok?” he asks as Abed switches the lamp on beside the bed.

“Are we having sex now?” He asks seriously and Troy’s eyebrows jump.

“Yes? I mean, unless you don’t want to! In which case no?”

“I don’t mean right now. Well yes right now as well but… I mean..” he sighs. “Troy are we moving in together?” and he sees the moment Troy gets it. Realizes they aren’t tip-toeing around it any more.

Troy sits up properly, the sheets pooled in his lap.

“I don’t...Abed I don’t want to lose what we have. I agreed to buy the apartment with you because I want us to live together. Like actually live together.” He says plainly. “Even if we have separate rooms or whatever you want. I just...when I picture my future I see you in it.” Troy sounds as earnest as Abed has ever heard him.

He feels a little bit charmed and a whole lot relieved.

“Do you think it matters that we skipped the part where we date and jumped straight into cohabiting?” He asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Do you want to date first?” He thinks Troy sounds a little nervous.

“No. No this way works for me. We don’t need to date, we already know each other.” and at this Troy gives him a slightly goofy pleased grin.

“Can I kiss you?” Abed asks asks because they haven’t ever and his body wants to be close to Troy right now but he also doesn’t know what kissing him will be like.

Troy bites his lip and nods, watching Abed move across the covers and into his space.

He leans in and presses his mouth against Troy’s, one hand coming up to hold his jaw. Troy makes a sound in his throat and presses forward into Abed, parting his lips and letting Abed deepen the kiss.

Abed kisses him deeply and then pulls back to tease along his bottom lip lightly and Troy’s mouth chases his, catching him in another kiss proper.  It takes him a few tries to break away from his mouth and when he does he rests his forehead against Troy’s, his breath coming out shakily.

“Abed…” Troy has his eyes closed and he sounds like he’s about to break.

“...yeah…” Abed swallows loudly.

He presses a kiss to Troy’s forehead, his eyebrow, the corner of his eye. Troy shivers in response. He opens his eyes and looks at Abed, his chest rising and falling with each breath.

Abed pushes him back into the pillows and climbs on top of him straddling his thighs. Troy’s hands come up to hold his waist, fingers stroking over bare skin. He wraps his hands around Abed’s hipbones with his fingers tucked into the waistband of his sleep pants.

Abed pushes Troy’s t-shirt up under his arms so he can get access to his chest, bending down to mouth at his nipples curiously.

“Yeah I like that” Troy encourages in a hush, one hand moving to cradle Abed’s head gently.

After a little while he moves up Troy’s body to explore the dip of his collarbone, his adam’s apple, the soft skin under his jaw.

Troy gets impatient and pulls Abed up to meet his mouth. He braces himself on his hands over Troy and leans down to lick into his mouth, feels Troy arch up into him.

Letting the kiss break with a wet sound Abed holds himself up and looks down at Troy, licking his lips where they feel puffy and oversensitized. Troy groans and reaches down to adjust himself inside his underwear.

Abed slides forward until his dick lines up with Troy’s and he can rock down against him. Troy is still holding his hips, arching up into the pressure. He keeps his eyes on Abed’s face, his mouth open a little in pleasure and his lips wet from Abed’s mouth. Troy bends his legs so he can brace his feet on the bed and get more leverage to thrust up against Abed.

There are four layers of material between them and Abed is working down against Troy’s dick in a slow rhythm. The friction feels amazing but it’s not enough to actually get him anywhere.

Troy moans and tips his head back into the pillow. “...god that feels...” The hands on Abed’s hips tighten, urging him on, Troy’s legs slide restlessly on the sheets behind him.

“I want to get naked” Abed tells him and Troy lets out a little breathless laugh and looks up. “We can do that” he says.

Before he knows what’s going on Troy has used his strength to flip them over, and Abed’s back is hitting the mattress.

He kneels beside Abed on the bed, yanking his t-shirt up over his head and off. He throws it across the room and then pushes down his sleep pants, kicking them away before lying back down next to him.

“I thought we were both getting naked?” He asks and Abed blushes ridiculously. He lets Troy help him get rid of the rest of his pajamas until they are both left with just their underwear and Troy is spread out next to him.

They end up on their sides facing each other and trading slow, deep kisses until Abed pulls back a little to appreciate the sight in front of him. There is no hesitation or awkwardness in the way that Troy lets Abed stare at him, lets him run his hand up the inside of a thick thigh and over the bulge straining at the front of his shorts.

Troy spreads his legs a little to give him room and Abed cups his erection through the material. He jacks him slowly, mapping out the girth of him in his hand.

He takes his hand away and pulls the front of Troy’s shorts down to free his dick and then licks the palm of his hand before wrapping it back around him. Troy groans a string of wordless fricatives as he starts moving his hand again.

He’s watching Troy make abortive little thrusts up into his hand and feels his own dick pulse in sympathy. As he watches a clear string of precum leaks from the tip and spills down over Abed’s fingers and he feels his entire body tighten with arousal in response. He presses his face into Troy’s neck and shifts closer to him.

Troy’s arms wrap around him and pull him in even closer until they are breathing each other’s air. The angle becomes too awkward to keep jerking him off but one of Troy’s hands sweeps down from his shoulder blades to his ass and pulls one of Abed’s legs over his own, slotting their hips together.  

Abed curls into him, overwhelmed and shaking with want.

“Need a minute?” Troy asks and Abed nods a little into his neck. He feels like he can’t get close enough even though they’re pressed tight together. He grabs at Troy’s ass and digs his fingers into the muscle there.

After a little while he feels like he can move without falling apart. “Okay I'm good” he says into Troy’s neck and kisses him lightly, tasting the sweat there.

Troy pushes him onto his back and Abed lets him, lifting his ass up to help Troy get his underwear off. When Troy materializes back above Abed he’s naked as well and there’s a lot of bare skin happening everywhere. He leans down and captures Abed's mouth, caging him in with his arms.

Abed feels Troy’s erection hanging heavy and thick between his thighs, brushing against him and sending hot pulses of arousal through his own dick.

He lets his legs fall open wider and makes a space for Troy, who presses his full weight into Abed as his grinds them together.

If Abed was sweating before he’s soaked with it now. So is Troy, his hairline is damp and they are sliding against one another. The rhythm of Troy’s thrusts is fast and hard from the start, pushing Abed into the mattress and not letting him catch his breath for a second.

His arms come up around Troy as he tries to meet his thrusts, sliding upwards on the bed with the force of them. He pulls Troy down for a series of bruising kisses and bites along his jaw.

He can feel when the rhythm starts slipping away from them, Troy’s movements start to become frantic and jagged as he pants loudly into Abed’s cheek.

Abed grabs his ass to pull him closer and Troy slows down into a series of long desperate hard grinds against him, grunting with exertion as Abed pushes up to meet him. Then his arms start to shake and he goes still and swears as he comes in Abed's arms, slicking up the space between them. Experiencing Troy having an orgasm and coming on him is overwhelming and Abed clutches Troy's back, hooking a leg around his hips and riding up against his stomach frantically until his own orgasm spills over.

It takes an embarrassingly long time to get his breath back after. He’s lying on the bed with an arm over his eyes while Troy grabs a t-shirt off the floor to try and contain some of the mess.  

Eventually Troy gives up trying to clean them off and tosses the t-shirt away, flopping down onto the bed next to Abed. They lie quietly for a few minutes while they come down, Troy’s arm is damp where it rests over Abed’s stomach.

“I never know what to say here.” Abed admits, his voice sounds loud in the quiet room. “Movies usually fade-to-black after the sex scene so I don’t have much to work with.

“I think this is like the extra scene, the one after the credits?” Troy suggests sounding sleepy. His fingers are vaguely petting Abed, getting slower and slower.

“It's called a credit cookie.” Abed tells him. “Some people call it the tag or the stinger, but I like credit cookie better.”

“Yeah?” Troy yawns but his fingers are twitching. “Mmm a credit cookie sounds delicious”  

Abed moves his arm and looks at him.

“...do you want to go get cookies and milk right now?” he asks.

“Oh my god yes.” Troy groans.

“Ok Reggie, let’s shake these blorgons off our tail and reconvene in the kitchen in five for an emergency refueling.” he quips and earns a stupid smile from Troy.

They get up without bothering to put any clothes back on and Troy races him to the kitchen naked. Troy wins but he makes it up to Abed by pressing him up against the kitchen wall and kissing him at length.

Making out naked in the kitchen feels kind of silly but also sexy. They both seem into it anyway.

Eventually they forget about midnight snacks and end up tumbling back into bed.

-

The closing meeting to seal the real estate sale is held in their attorney’s office and lasts approximately 6 hours and they have to sign about 10000 legal documents. Abed’s hand starts to cramp after the first 10 minutes.

Eventually though all of the documents have been signed and all of the fees have been paid and it’s done, the apartment belongs to them.

Abed takes the paperwork his attorney gives him and shakes everyone’s hand and thanks them. He slips out of the office in a mild daze while Troy is wrapping everything up.

He stops outside and leans against the front of the building, holding the keys to their apartment in his hand and feeling a warm happiness bubbling up in his chest.

Troy catches up with him and grabs one of his wrists, swinging it a couple of times between them in excitement as they head towards Troy’s car.

“We did it!.” he proclaims grinning widely. “C’mon let’s go home, that took forever and I’m starving!”  

Abed doesn't say anything. He's looking down at his arm where Troy's hand is encircling his wrist completely.

“Yeah, home.” He says finally and smiles. “Cool. Cool cool cool.”