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what would i do? (if i had not met you)

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Abed knows he must be making a face, because Troy furrows his eyebrows and looks at him inquisitively.

"You're thinking," Troy says. "What's wrong?"

Abed considers it. "Can I answer that question with a question?"

"Go for it."

"Do you ever think about the other timelines?"

Troy shifts, lifting his head off of Abed's chest to better look him in the eyes. "You mean like the darkest timeline?"

"No. Well, yes, sort of. But not specifically." Abed shifts as well, sitting up in bed to better support Troy. "We're one timeline. The Darkest Timeline is another. There's 5 others from that night." His fingers graze across Troy's face, starting just above his eyebrow, moving as if to tuck a nonexistent strand of hair behind his ear, and eventually coming to rest while cupping his jaw. "But there's an infinite amount of timelines. There's infinite Troys and infinite Abeds in infinite universes. It just goes on and on. Forever. Do you ever think about them?"

"Um," Troy says. "No? I guess not."

"I do," Abed replies. "I think about them a lot."

***

In the Darkest Timeline, they're evil. So they have goatees to match.

"Evil Troy," said Evil Abed, bowing his head.

"Evil Abed," said Evil Troy, sounding robotic as the voicebox processed his sound.

"Your goatee is coming along nicely. Very evil."

"Thank you," Evil Troy said. "How long exactly did you want us to keep them?"

Evil Abed cocked his head. "Forever. We're in the Darkest Timeline." He paused. "At least until we can destroy the Prime Timeline."

"Right. And you're sure you want to do that?"

Evil Abed got a serious look in his eye. He reached out to touch the voicebox. "Everytime you speak, you have to use this. There is a timeline where their Troy gets to live without that hardship. And they take it for granted." His hand skimmed across Evil Troy's face instead of the voicebox. "Of course I'm sure. Are you sure?"

"I'll be evil as long as you need me to be," said Evil Troy. "You know I'd do anything you did."

They hit their hands and their hearts at the same time. "Evil Troy and Evil Abed!"

-

 

"I'll do it," Troy said when the contents of Pierce's will were revealed. "I'll do it."

Instead of telling him he loved him, Abed lied and said it was cool.

Troy went away. He sailed away, to see the world.

And apparently, he liked what he saw. Troy stayed out in the world, and he never returned to Greendale. He didn't call. He didn't text. He didn't randomly bump into him on the streets of LA. He stayed away. Forever. Abed wondered if he was happy. He wondered if he had become a man on his trip, like he wanted to. He wondered why becoming a man had to happen without Abed there.

Annie asked Abed if he had heard from him. She was shocked to hear that he hadn't. She said she missed him. Abed couldn't find the words to tell her he missed him too.

So Abed didn't talk about it. He hid it as deep as he could and lived his life as a shadow of his former self - a self that used to extend all the way to Troy as well, a singular unit they both used to be.

He told everyone that he was fine. No one else but Troy would know to ask for the spelling. They wouldn't know what the "I" meant anyways.

-

"I'm sorry," Troy said when the contents of Pierce's will were revealed. "I get what Pierce was trying to do, but I don't think I can do that." He looked to Abed. "Is that wrong?"

"No," said Abed quickly. "No, it's not wrong at all. You should do what feels right."

"Right." Troy leaned back confidently. "If Abed doesn't get something from Pierce, then neither do I. I'm staying."

Privately, Abed felt a rush of relief.

-

"I'll do it," Troy said when the contents of Pierce's will were revealed. "I'll do it."

Instead of telling him he loved him, Abed lied and said it was cool.

Troy went away. He sailed away, to see the world.

He didn't get that far, actually. When pirates kidnapped him the Gulf of Mexico, they held him hostage for 2 months.

At home, Abed watched nothing but the news station. When the stations reported on something other than the hostage situation with LeVar Burton and his non-celebrity companion, he stared at the little dot on his tracker app that represented Troy.

He didn't leave Troy's room. He didn't shave. He hardly ate. He showered only once, when Annie dragged him under the water and they both sat there, half-clothed and Annie sobbing. Abed felt too numb to resist or to cry, either way.

On the 64th day of Troy's capture, the news stations are saddened to report that despite the best negotiation efforts of the National Guard, LeVar Burton's non-celebrity companion had been killed at pirates' hands.

Abed felt next to nothing, because it felt like a significant part of himself had died as well.

He told everyone that he was fine.

No one else but Troy would know to ask for the spelling.

-

"Wow," Troy said, blinking back his surprise. "I... I didn't even know you were dating anyone."

Abed felt his ears burn. "You were away. Our relationship moved pretty fast."

"He always used to say our relationship was just more efficient," Rachel said. "Like time worked differently for us."

"I know the feeling." Troy bit his lip. "Or I did, anyways. It's really great to meet you."

He reached out a hand to shake Rachel's.

"It's great to meet you, too," she said. "There used to be pictures of you in Abed's old apartment. I always wondered if I'd ever get to the bottom of that mystery."

"Maybe I should have been more transparent," said Abed. Rachel shook her head like she couldn't imagine why. Troy shook his head like he couldn't imagine why he hadn't.

"It's fine, honey." Rachel laid a hand on his forearm.

"I'm sorry I missed the wedding." Troy looked as though the blood had drained from his face.

"You were away," Abed said. It sounded like an excuse on his part and he knew it. "We loved each other, we didn't want to wait any longer." That much was true. He loved her. She made him feel loved when everything else made him feel forgotten.

"I know," Troy said. His eyes looked misty. "I'm still sorry."

-

"I can't," Troy said, putting a hand up to block Abed. "I've only come to say goodbye."

"No," Abed insisted. "There must be another way."

"They've decided. I'm to be married in 3 days time." He looked down. "There is nothing I can do."

"We could run away," Abed said. "Lovers do it all the time. I've seen near a thousand plays where it happens. Think of it as acting out a play. Pretending. We could run away."

"They are not like us in plays. Truthfully, I've not ever seen a play with characters like us, save for yours." Troy reached to hold Abed's hand. "I cannot refuse her. It's good for my family and they would know where to find me if I did. And your face is already known. They would find you as well. That, above all else, is not a sacrifice I am willing to make." Troy smiled sadly. A tear escaped his eye and fell to the ground. "So I've come to say goodbye."

"I fear I don't know how to be without you," Abed murmured. "My existence before you is only a memory. And not a pleasant one at that. I do not wish to go back into the world without you." He looked to the ground. "It confuses me."

"But you can play a part so well. Surely you could mask your confusion."

"I do not wish to." Abed sighed. "Not when I've now had a companion who understands. I would hardly know what to do with myself."

"You could marry," Troy suggested in vain. "I've seen your charm, it is incredible. Any woman should be so lucky to receive it."

"Ah." Abed flexed his fingers uncomfortably. "But you see, the charm you speak of exists only for you."

Against his better judgement, Troy kissed him goodbye.

-

In May 2008, Troy Barnes, while intoxicated, had the vague thought that he would give anything not to play football again.

Well, it wasn't really the game that was the problem, it was the recruiters’ watchful eyes and his friends’ expectations and his mother's boastful facebook posts and his father's strong hand resting proudly on his shoulder. But he didn't think it was even possible to play the game without those things, so he decided football had to end.

In his drunken state, he realized that if he was hurt, he wouldn't have to play anymore. It just had to be bad enough. That was a sacrifice he was willing to make.

So, with all eyes on him, Troy flung himself into a keg flip, fell, and landed with his neck at a funny angle.

Abed Nadir heard about it, of course. Everyone in Greendale heard about it, felt a momentary sadness for a boy's life and his sports career having ended so soon, and later, gossiped about it. He didn't think about it much further than that.

When Abed's father yelled at him in a frozen yogurt shop and forbade him from going to film school, there is no one there to offer an alternative.

Making falafel got really repetitive really fast.

-

In July 2008, Troy Barnes realized that he didn't want to play football anymore.

He was too scared to do anything about it.

So Troy went to Louisiana and played football. It wasn’t any easier in college than it was in high school. His parents were very happy.

Abed Nadir didn't hear about it.

There's no one to give him an alternative in the frozen yogurt store.

-

"Cut!" Abed yelled. He approached the actors and pointed at one of the background dancers. "What's your name?"

"Troy Barnes," he said earnestly. "Oh, shit. I meant to say David. That's my stage name. Shit! I didn't mean to swear on your set. Damn it!"

The corners of Abed's mouth twitched.

He addressed the rest of the dancers. "You should all be doing exactly what David-slash-Troy is doing. He's both expressive and accurate. Please emulate him."

Abed nodded at the dancer, Troy, who smiled so wide Abed was sure it must be hurting his cheeks.

"Let's take it from the top!"

 

-

 

"He's really living up to his namesake," Abed said, inflecting sarcastically but kindly. "Once he grows some hair, they'll practically be twins."

"Haha. Very funny," Troy said, rolling his eyes lightly.

"Oh, Abed! I didn't know you've met Troy's great-uncle Chewbacca! I never got to meet him, but Troy insisted on the name. And I was very glad to celebrate African heritage. It means 'He-Who-Hunts-Bounties'," Britta said, sounding very proud of herself.

"Yes," Abed said, going along with it the best he could. "I knew great-uncle Chewbacca. The pilot."

"That's right," Britta said, gazing lovingly at the baby in Troy's arms.

"I still think you should have made his middle name Kirk," said Abed. "After Captain Kirk."

"Oh, no sci-fi names," Britta said. "I stand by that."

"Right," Troy said, giving Abed a wink where Britta couldn't see it. "No sci-fi names."

The baby wrinkled his nose and shifted underneath the bundle of blankets. Abed leaned in to get a closer look.

"Do you wanna hold him?" Troy asked, looking at Abed earnestly. "He won't bite. And he's super awesome."

"Yes," Abed said quietly. Troy placed the baby into Abed's outstretched arms, and he brought him close to his chest.

"Hi, Chewie," Abed murmured. Baby Chewbacca made a face back up at him and wiggled. Abed held him closer.

"That's right," Britta said to the baby. "That's your Uncle Abed."

Something in Abed's chest burned at her words.

"He likes you," Troy said. He waved Britta over. "Babe, look how he relaxed when Abed held him."

"He doesn't do that for just anyone," Britta said. "You should have seen him with Jeff. It was a disaster for the first hour."

"He really likes you," Troy said softly, squatting next to where Abed and Chewbacca sat. The baby blinked slowly and eventually closed his eyes. "I knew he would."

Abed hummed, soft enough that the vibrations wouldn't disturb the now sleeping baby.

"You're good with kids," Britta said. "Who would've thought?"

"Do you want them?" Troy asked lowly. "Kids."

Abed shook his head slightly. "I've run the simulations," he said. "I don't think anyone wants my babies."

He didn't take his eyes off of Chewbacca's face to see Troy's reaction.

-

"She's so tiny," Troy cooed. "Look, even her fingers are tiny."

"Like mini Charleston Chews," Abed added. He was standing behind the chair where Troy sat with the baby, so he leaned down, put his arms around Troy and offered a finger to her outstretched hand. Her hand closed and she squeezed his finger with all of her little baby strength. Abed felt all of the air leave his lungs.

"Hi, Leia," he said softly. He didn't know if he sounded reassuring. He really, really, really hoped he did.

"We were so right about that name," Troy said. "I don't care what the study group said."

"It's perfect," Abed agreed. "It's a leader's name."

"And it's cool."

"So cool."

Leia made a sound that was both something of a sigh and something of a squeal.

"She agrees with you," Troy said.

"Oh," Abed realized. He blinked and found his eyes damp - just a little. Her tiny hand was still wrapped around his finger.

Troy pulled her in closer. "I can't believe she's here. In our house."

"Annie's going to have trouble containing her excitement," Abed said. "She'll want to hold her right away. Shirley will baby talk her and call her pumpkin. Britta will probably suggest something organic she read online. And Jeff will pretend he's not as amazed by her as he will be." Abed reluctantly removed his finger from her grip and ran it along her cheek instead. He wasn't sure about the right way to touch her. He's rarely ever sure, with most people. But it felt right. He wanted to comfort her. He wanted her to know she was home. "And he will be amazed. I don't know how he couldn't be."

Leia moved her mouth like she was yawning. "We should probably let her sleep," Troy said.

"And put her in the crib with the Yoda blanket and the Inspector Spacetime mobile. I know. That's the right thing to do."

They stared at her and didn't move.

"We could wait a few more minutes."

"You're absolutely right. And we should."

Troy lifted her up closer to their faces. She shook a tiny hand at them. "She's perfect," he said. "I love her."

"I love her." It's not always easy to understand or to say, but this time it flew out of his mouth like it was the easiest thing in the world. Abed pressed a kiss to Troy's cheek and hooked his chin over his shoulder. "I love you."

-

"You're sure you want this?"

Troy's voice had none of the whimsy Abed had grown to expect and love.

"I want what you want." That answer must’ve been unsatisfactory because Troy shook his head angrily. Abed revised. "I don't see how we can move past this. I can't see any plotline where we're fine again."

"Okay," Troy said. He pulled off his ring and set it on their table. The ring had Troy and Abed getting married! inscribed on the inside of the band. It matched Abed's. "That's that then."

"We jumped the shark," Abed said, ignoring the heavy lump in his throat.

"Please don't run after me in the rain. Don't hold a boom box under my window. Just... don't. Not this time."

"Okay."

"I mean it."

"Okay."

Troy stared at him from the doorway. He wasn't crying. His eyes just looked hollow. "Goodbye, Abed."

-

"Well, Captain," Abed said, "where are we off to now?"

"Captain," Troy said, sitting at the ship's control panel. "I like the sound of that." He pondered the question. "I don't know. Where do you think we should go?"

"You're the Captain."

"You're the space expert. You know better than me, I'm new at all this." Troy raised an eyebrow. "I want to go where ever you want to go."

"Hm." Abed stopped the think about it. "I could take you home."

Troy made a sudden choking sound.

Abed cocked his head and continued. "To my home planet. I could show you."

Troy relaxed and smiled. "I'd like that." He turned back to the control panel. "Set course to Ziurilia."

-

Troy's covers felt soft on Abed's bare skin.

He rolled over. Troy looked nice like this, in the early morning, with half-lidded eyes and his face pressed into the pillow. He looked nice last night, too.

The question was, how would they proceed? Dating? Friends with benefits? A panicked "this-never-happened" scenario?

"Annie will be home soon," Troy said, his voice hoarse and groggy.

"Probably."

"She probably shouldn't find us like this."

Abed realized it was the latter scenario.

"Okay," he said, sliding out of bed. "Thank you."

He picked his pajamas off the ground and retreated into the blanket fort.

-

When Abed first saw him, he figured he would be the perfect lovable, cool jock who would inevitably teach them about teamwork. And once he found a grouchy old man, he could pair them up together for antics and misunderstandings. Audiences would surely love him.

Also, Abed thought he was cute. That was secondary.

"Do you want to join a Spanish study group? We may or may not bond and become an unlikely found family. I'm still developing the tone."

"Nah, man," Troy said. "I don't need a study group. I'm killing this class."

Oh. Abed would have to find a new jock, then.

-

Abed thought of him every time he felt the cool breeze of the A/C on the back of his neck.

He'd live in the heat the rest of his life if it meant Troy could come back to regular school.

-

Troy knew when a pilot episode was forming, because if there's one thing Troy knew, it was TV. A Spanish study group was the perfect opportunity for a found family. He just had to develop the cast.

He heard that the boy who sat next to him was a former track star who had lost his scholarship before coming the Greendale. That was all the information Troy had, but it was enough for him to decide that Abed could easily be their lovable jock.

Also he was cute, but that was just a bonus.

"Would you like to join a Spanish study group and eventually bond together as a family?" Troy asked him.

Abed made a face at him. Troy struggled to read it. "Dude. I'm trilingual. Spanish will be my 4th language. I don't really need to study with stuff like this."

"Oh. Okay, then." Troy would have to find a new jock.

Abed watched him still. "I'll join anyways. You guys need me."

Yes, Troy thought, they did.

-

"We'll be right back, after the break," Troy said into the camera. The Troy and Abed in the Morning! jingle played over the set, the cameras cut, and Abed let his smile fall to a neutral, more natural expression.

Their makeup artists rushed in to fix their faces. Troy begged one of them, Maurice, for a refill of his orange juice.

"I liked your segment about the turtles," Abed said when there was no danger of loose powder getting in his mouth.

Troy smiled and set down his drink. "Thanks. I liked your segue into the weather."

"Thanks." Abed smiled into his mug. "You know, even if our ratings aren't great, I'm glad you're my cohost. I've always wanted to be on a TV show, and you make it even better."

Troy scratched the back of his head shyly. "I'm glad you're my cohost, too."

"Alright, we are back in 3, 2, 1...."

"Troy and Abed in the Morning!"

-

"She's not coming back," Troy said through tears. "She's staying with Vaughn."

"No," Abed insisted. "It's not possible. We need her. There's unresolved storylines. Why would she be written off? It doesn't make sense. She's coming back."

"She transferred and everything," Troy said. "Jeff said so."

"Jeff could be wrong. It's really out of character for her. She'll be back."

"No, Abed," Troy said, hiding behind his hands. "She's gone."

"No."

"Abed..."

Abed lowered himself into his chair.

"It's out of character. It doesn't make sense."

"I know."

"Why would she do that?" Abed muttered. "Why would she do that?"

"I don't know." Troy reached out so that their pinkies touched. "I really don't."

-

"That's the last of it," Troy said, setting down his final box. "I've never lived in a dorm before."

"It's awesome. We can eat as much cereal and watch as much TV as we want. We could stay up all night talking in our bunk beds and no one can tell us to stop."

"Awesome," Troy said, and they hit their hands together in their special handshake. "Thanks for letting me live with you, man. My Dad was getting really impatient, and I didn't want to end up living with Pierce or anything."

"Of course," said Abed, "but there is one more important matter we need to discuss. Do you want the top bunk or the bottom?"

"Ummm... the top."

"Me too," Abed said, already running. "I'll race you."

He looked down at Troy proudly from his perch on the top bunk. At the disappointed look on his face, he added "I mean, we could both sleep on the top bunk. If you wanted to."

"Okay!" Troy said, hurrying to the top. "Nice."

The thing about the top bunk, however, is that it was still a twin sized mattress. Troy and Abed didn't initially fit as easily as they had hoped.

"Here," said Abed, making room by wrapping around Troy and resting his head on his chest. "Now we'll fit better."

He felt Troy inhale sharply and looked up at him. "Is this okay? I was trying to make more room."

"Yeah," Troy said. A hand slowly came to rest on the small of Abed's back. "Yeah, totally fine."

-

Abed's eyes shot wide open. "Is this actually happening or am I hallucinating?"

"This isn't what it looks like, I promise," Troy said from the ceiling. "I can explain."

"Really? Because it looks like you have super powers that are allowing you to hang upside down from the ceiling."

"Um," Troy said, still upside down. "Well, I guess it's exactly what it looks like."

"You're a superhero."

"I don't know about hero." Troy straightened himself and dropped to the ground. "...I do have powers."

"Then you're a hero to me," Abed said. "As long as you aren't persuaded by the dark side and become a villain."

"You're not upset?"

"How could I be upset? This is the best day of my life. Troy, we're a superhero movie." He bounced on his toes excitedly. "What else can you do?"

"Um." Troy fixed his eyes on one of Abed's comic books and it began to levitate off the ground. "That."

"Cool. Cool cool cool cool cool," Abed said quickly. "This is the most exciting thing that could happen to us. Who else knows?"

"Just you."

"Cool,". He looked Troy up and down. "Can you go back up there?"

Troy obliged, pulling himself back into position, upside down on the ceiling, facing Abed. Abed leaned forward and kissed him.

"Mary-Jane and Spiderman," Abed said quietly. "I always wanted to do that."

"Cool," Troy said, smiling.

-

"Abed." Troy was frozen the moment he laid eyes on him. "We're friends."

He knew, he knew that it wasn't Abed anymore, just like Britta wasn't Britta, Annie wasn't Annie and Shirley wasn't Shirley. They were zombies. That's why he was here, fighting through the crowd to get to the air conditioner, to save them. Because otherwise they were gone. They were all gone.

He knew this, and still, at the sight of Abed, he faltered. His skin was losing its color. He was bruised and near lifeless. His eyes looked at Troy's without recognizing him, and Troy thought again, over and over and over I love you, I love you, I love you and he looked back at Abed and knew that he could no longer reply with I know because he didn't. He was gone. Troy knew that and he still expected Abed to snap out of it.

Abed's teeth sank into him and Troy, in turn, fell to the ground much faster than expected.

He tried to army crawl to the thermostat, but the inches turned to miles and the distance became impossible.

He felt himself slipping away. He actually felt parts of his brain going dark.

It hurt. He was on the floor, several feet away from the thermostat, and he was convulsing. It hurt, it hurt, it hurt, he wanted Abed. He wanted it to be over.

Soon enough, it was.

-

"No," Troy pleaded desperately. "No, you're fine. C'mon. You're fine." Abed was near collapsed in his arms. Troy kept trying to move him forward. "C'mon."

"I can't," Abed said. He tried a few steps anyways. It turned into an odd, painful sort of shuffle. Without choosing to, he lowered himself to the ground. "I can't."

"Yes, you can," Troy insisted, his voice cracking. "Yes, you can, you're fine. You're fine."

"This is a really extreme level of denial," Abed said from the ground.

"Why are you doing this?" Troy asked, shamelessly distraught. "Why are you giving up, after everything?"

"I'm not giving up," Abed said. "There's no other way the narrative can go. It has to be this."

"It doesn't have to be a tragic story!" Troy insisted, almost angrily. "We can both get out of here. We can be okay. You're fine. Please."

"Troy, I don't like tragedies either. Believe me. But we're already there." He winced. The gash on his leg was stinging and oozing. It was getting worse by the second. "We've been there ever since we lost Annie."

Annie was the first to succumb to the harsh environment the world had become. The sound of her name sobered them both up. Neither had said it or heard it in months.

"Everyone else is gone," Troy stopped himself and started over. "Everyone else is dead. I only have you, so you can't give up. If you stay here... you'll die. We have to keep moving. You're fine."

"My leg is worse." Abed resisted the urge to curl up on the ground. "I'm not fine."

"You will be." Troy took Abed's hands in his own. "You'll be fine, we just have to keep going."

"I'll slow you down." Abed began to feel dizzy. "Then we'll both die."

"No one's dying," Troy cried. "No one else is dying."

"Let me do this," Abed insisted. "There's no other way the story can go. I want you to live. I want you to survive. Make me proud," Abed tried a smile, "be the first black man to make it to the end. Let me do this."

Troy sat next to him and wrapped his arms around Abed's torso. They both tried to ignore his leg.

"Please," Troy whispered in his ear. "Please, please, please."

-

Troy means soldier.

"This isn't supposed to happen," is not what Abed meant to say but it is the first thing he said, because it wasn't supposed to be like this. Troy was supposed to be the better soldier. He was supposed to make it to the end. "This isn't supposed to happen."

"I'm hit," Troy mumbled, like he was in shock. "Abed, I'm bleeding."

"You're bleeding," said Abed, because he couldn't think of anything comforting or reassuring to say. He thought his brain might be short circuiting.

He was, in fact, bleeding. He was bleeding through his uniform. Troy tried to put his hands over the wound. Abed covered them with his own trembling hands.

He wasn't even supposed to be there. He wasn't a true soldier. He should not be there.

Really, none of them should.

"This isn't fair." Abed tried to put pressure on the wound. Troy's face looked paler by the second. "It's not fair. This isn't how it should be."

"I'm dying," Troy said.

"Yes," Abed said, because he didn't have the heart to lie.

Troy laid his head back. "That's not fair," he gasped.

"No." Abed spoke around the growing lump in his throat. He choked back the emotion. He wanted to hold Troy, but he didn't want to risk making the wound any worse. He still wanted to hold him so badly it hurt. "No, it's not."

Abed means worshipper, adorer, devout.

-

"Your Majesty," Abed said. "You should not concern yourself with such things."

Troy turned to Abed sharply. "I believe you are the first person to call me that without my immediate distaste." He took a step forward. "And yet I still prefer you refer to me as you used to."

"It's not proper," Abed said. "My Lord."

"No," Troy responded. "But it is familiar."

His hands reached Abed's shoulders and brushed against the armor with ease.

"My Lord," he said again, just to watch how Troy's eyes closed at the sound.

"I am not fit to rule," Troy finally said. "I wish there were a way to escape."

"You could produce an heir," Abed suggested. "And then perish. But I would prefer you didn't."

Troy barked out a kind laugh. "Not today. Truth be told, I'd rather your duty."

"No, you wouldn't."

"And why not?" Troy said lightly.

"Because I would give my life to protect you, should the time come," Abed said very seriously. "You do not wish for this position."

Troy suddenly got very quiet. "Do not do that. Please."

Abed looked him in the eyes. Now it was his turn to take a step forward. "Truthfully, my Lord, I would do it even if it were not my job."

***

"Um," Troy says. "No? I guess not."

"I do," Abed replies. "I think about them a lot."

His hand is still cradling Troy's jaw. His thumb is high on Troy's cheekbone and he caresses it against his skin.

"It bothers you," Troy guesses.

"Sometimes," Abed admits lowly. "I don't like that there's so many with bad outcomes."

"I get that, actually," says Troy. He had been propping himself up on Abed's chest but as he says this, he lowers himself back down so that he's resting all his body weight on him and pressing his face into the crook of Abed's neck. "I think we should just remind ourselves to glad for what we do have."

Abed hums. His fingers trace down Troy's spine.

"Because we can't change the other timelines, right?" Troy continues.

"I can simulate it," Abed says. "But I can't actually change it."

Troy sighs. His breath is soft on Abed's skin. "Then I'm just glad this is the one we're in."

"We are the Prime Timeline," Abed says. He believes it.

"I love you," Troy says softly.

Abed moved to kiss the top of Troy's head. "I love you, too."