Characters: Annie Edison/Abed Nadir
Word Count: ~1300
Summary: What she wants to say is, Sometimes I wish you could be Han Solo again. What she says is “Let’s get that popcorn.”
A/N: I've been gone for three years, so excuse my rusty writing skills.
Annie sits on the floor of the blanket fort, her legs crossed, back braced against the bed’s bottom bunk. She marvels at how quiet an apartment can be.
There are no babies crying, no drunks yelling, no windows rattling from the heavy bass of passing cars. Just the canned laughter of a Friends rerun and Troy’s steady breathing on the mattress behind her.
Abed’s legs dangle off the top bunk, his feet swaying dangerously close to her temple. He hops remarkably gracefully down to the floor at the first act break.
“I’ll help you.”
She grabs Jeff and Britta’s abandoned beer bottles with one hand. Abed helps her to her feet with the other. On her way out of the fort, she finds herself nudging discarded clothing out of her path with her toes. She’s not quite sure how they’ve managed to make a mess in merely a few short hours.
In the kitchen, Abed reaches up into a top cabinet for a bowl. His shirt rides up and Annie sighs. “We should probably take a look at that scrape, Abed.” He shrugs, then puts the empty bowl on the counter. “Let’s go.”
Abed perches himself on the edge of the bathtub, his long legs splayed out across the width of the room, as Annie rummages under the sink for supplies. All she comes up with is three spare rolls of toilet paper and two water guns.
“You guys don’t have any first-aid stuff? Not even band-aids?” Abed shrugs again, and she hears Britta’s voice in her ear: loosey-goosey. She stifles her exasperated sigh with a deep breath. “Wait here.”
He pulls his legs in to make room for her to pass, and Annie smiles as she makes her way to her bedroom. They’re trying, she reminds herself.
When she returns, fully-stocked first-aid kit under her arm and a few washcloths in hand, she finds Abed inspecting his wound, poking at it gingerly with his index finger. “Hey. Stop that.”
He does. “Sorry.”
Annie dutifully washes her hands, then dampens a washcloth with warm water. She lifts the edge of Abed’s shirt with her left hand, using her right to dab at the scrape. He hisses sharply when the cloth comes in contact with his skin.
“So… fork jousting?”
“It’s pretty fun. But we need better armor.”
She laughs. “Clearly.”
“You should play sometime.”
“I think I’ll pass. Hold this?”
Abed takes hold of his shirt as Annie tosses the washcloth into the bathtub. She cuts a piece of gauze and spreads some antibiotic ointment on it before taping it carefully over the scrape. Her fingers slide smoothly over the edges of the bandage, grazing his skin. For a brief moment, she could’ve sworn he leaned into her touch.
The moment passes.
She lifts her fingertips, and he lets go of his shirt, letting it fall back down over the gauze like a curtain.
“You make a good nurse.”
The word thanks forms on her lips out of habit, but it never leaves her mouth. She closes her eyes tightly, trying to remember-
“Are you okay?”
Annie opens her eyes. A tiny part of her is surprised to see Abed there right where he’d been moments ago, genuine concern in his eyes. Who else would it be? she wonders. “Just… a little déjà vu.”
“Ah. Gotcha.” He smiles an incredibly endearing half-smile, and she wonders why she hasn’t noticed it before.
Before her brain has time to shift back into overdrive, she lifts her hand to his cheek. The endearing smile morphs into a look of confusion, and she stands so quickly that she gets a momentary head rush. Leaning on the counter for support, she covers her eyes with her free hand, and now it’s her turn to apologize. “I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I was doing.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Abed sounds unfazed.
She isn’t sure how she feels about that.
When she turns, he’s on his feet again. He is so close that she can feel his body heat. With the addition of her embarrassment, the bathroom feels exponentially more cramped and claustrophobic.
“We might be able to catch the end of the episode.” He takes a step towards the door.
“Wait.” She grabs hold of his elbow to stop him. When Abed turns, the look of confusion is back full-force. “Honesty- Honesty is important, right?” she stutters. “With roommates?”
“Of course.” His expression is less confusion and more concern now. Annie isn’t sure she’s ever seen him this serious in a situation that didn’t involve television.
It almost alarms her how much older he looks.
She breathes deep and opens her mouth to speak, but she can’t force the words out. What she wants to say is, Sometimes I wish you could be Han Solo again.
What she says is “Let’s get that popcorn.”
She hopes her smile looks real enough to compensate for her complete lack of segue, but Abed is hard to read and she can’t tell if he’s buying it. All he says is “Cool.”
They lean side-by-side against the kitchen counter in silence as the microwave hums. She rests her head on his shoulder just before the timer goes off, and he waits just a fraction of a second before moving away.
Quietly, they slip back into the blanket fort. Troy is exactly where they left him, breath still slow and even, and a new episode of Friends kicks on as they carefully climb one after the other onto the top bunk. They sit cross-legged, the popcorn bowl brushing their knees, keeping the distance between them static.
During a set of commercials, she feels Abed watching her. She turns her head to face him.
“I can try to be Han Solo again if you want.”
“You don’t need to be Han Solo, Abed. I just want you to be you.”
He turns back to the commercials, almost as though someone flipped a switch and the conversation never happened at all. Now she’s the one observing, considering him in an entirely new way in the flickering light from the tv screen.
The sheer weight of her disappointment shocks her: how could she miss something she only barely had to begin with?
“Abed?” she ventures quietly, and when he looks back, it’s as though someone flipped that switch again. “Can you be Han Solo again for just a minute?”
He considers her words for a moment. “Yeah, okay.”
One blink and his demeanor is something new entirely. It’s remarkably impressive.
He slides the popcorn bowl aside with purpose, taking hold of her waist and the back of her neck and all of a sudden it’s like she’s back in the library all over again. His lips are deft and assertive and god she can’t believe she waited so long to do this again.
After what feels like simultaneously an eternity and a nanosecond, he stops, his hands resting still on her cheek and hip.
Her breath catches in her throat.
She’s about to pull away when he kisses her one more time: soft, slow, deliberate, his fingers twisted in her hair. When he pulls back, she rests her forehead against his, eyes closed, and whispers, “What was that?”
Although Annie can’t see his face, she can hear that endearing half-smile despite his matter-of-fact tone. “That was me.”
She kisses him on the cheek and leans back. The show has already been back on for a few minutes. They sit side-by-side once more, their legs flush against one another now, and watch in comfortable silence.
Annie wakes just a few hours later when light starts to seep in through the blankets. She stretches, mindful of Abed’s sleeping form close by, and is sure to grab the empty popcorn bowl before sliding out of the top bunk.
She carefully pulls a blanket over him and is about to turn away when she hears him whisper, “Goodnight, Annie.”
“Thank you, Abed.” It’s all she can bring herself to say.
And there is a lingering remnant of Han Solo in his voice as he mumbles, “Anytime, doll.”