“Troy is Spiderman now,” Abed says, just like they agreed, on their first Monday back at Greendale. Troy grins at him; he’s never understood the point in not telling people about your super powers.
“Sure he is, Abed,” Jeff says, rolling his eyes. “Now who wants to study—”
It’s pretty satisfying, Troy thinks, watching words dry up in Jeff Winger’s throat. The edge of his webbing is caught around Jeff’s Cryptology textbook, and he tugs on it lightly. It’s not lightly enough, though, because he’s only been a superhero for three days; Abed says he doesn’t know his own strength. Abed says he’ll learn.
Abed probably should have warned him not to pull on stuff in rooms with glass windows, though. Troy winces when the book flies over his shoulder; then he flips backwards over the chair without even thinking about it, grabbing the accidental missile before it can break anything. Windows are like, a hundred dollars to replace. Troy has super powers now, but that doesn’t mean he’s rolling in dough.
Dead silence greets him, a small smile on Abed’s face and slack-jawed shock on everyone else’s. Troy shrugs and settles back down in his seat, reaching across the table towards Abed to do their handshake. Somewhere in the room a fly is buzzing, and somewhere in this building some girl is mad because her boyfriend cheated, and somewhere on this campus a car is backfiring. Troy can hear everything, now. Troy can do a lot of stuff he couldn’t do before.
“You got goop on my jacket,” Jeff says eventually, flat and stunned and wide-eyed, and Troy smiles.
“Uh, Abed?” Troy says, peering at the guy in the mask doing a really bad job of robbing a jewelry store, “I don’t wanna make it weird, but is that…Pierce?”
“Probably,” Abed says. He’s using the Batman voice, because he always does over their comms; they decided it was only fair, since Troy gets to be Spiderman. “He does have the tendency to fall into the villain role when he feels like we’re ignoring him.” There’s a pause, and then Abed adds, “I am the night, and this is embarrassing.”
It is, Troy thinks, pretty embarrassing. Pierce—and Troy’s sure it’s Pierce now, can see tinted glasses through the holes in the black cotton—is trying to break through the glass counters with his elbows. And failing. Troy’s only here because their alarm went off at the break-in and webslinging is faster than the police, but he kind of wishes he’d just left it alone. He’s not sure what the right thing to do is, when your elderly former-roommate not-exactly-not-friend tries and fails to pull off a robbery.
“I say flytrap,” Abed says. “But that’s just me.”
“What if he dies, though,” Troy says, shifting a little against the corner he’s perched in. “How long do you think you can hang upside down when you’re old?”
“Better than letting him break his arm,” Abed says, and even from across town, Troy can hear him cocking his head. He’s still not sure if that’s spider-powers or Abed-powers, but he’s decided he doesn’t care. “Wrap him up and leave him on Jeff’s doorstep? Or Chang’s. That could produce an interesting super villain plotline.”
“Oooh,” Troy says, and moves. Superheroing is all about plot.
“Let’s go over it again,” Abed says. “From the top.”
“One,” Troy says, hanging from the study room ceiling by his fingertips, “I can never catch you with my web unless I do it in a bunch of places like we practiced. Two, if the devil exists—”
“Troy!” Shirley says, sharp. “I know you’re not using your newfound commitment to justice to blaspheme.”
“Who says it’s blasphemy?” Jeff says. He leans back in his chair, dropping his newspaper as Shirley narrows her eyes. “He said if. Sounds to me like he’s just hedging his bets.”
“Of course that’s what it sounds like to you,” Shirley says, and Jeff’s eyebrows go up.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Britta says, rolling her eyes, “maybe that your whole religious viewpoint is not having a religious viewpoint?”
The entire room descends into chaos and shouting a half second later, and Troy fingertip-walks across the ceiling until he’s hovering over Abed. “Do I really have to do the rest of the rules?”
“Nah,” Abed decides, flicking his notebook shut. “I think you’ve got them. And, anyway, it’s not like we follow most of the set-up applied to traditional comic-book couples; we can probably avoid most of the more routine pitfalls.”
“I really do promise never to catch you by your ankle,” Troy says, thinking of Gwen Stacy and wincing. “Or kill you. At all. By accident or on purpose.”
“Let’s not flirt with dramatic irony,” Abed says, and tilts his head up enough to smile, just slightly, at Troy. “That’s why I’ve never promised not to turn into your arch-nemesis; always better to avoid those punches.”
“What is heroism?” Jeff asks the mob of reporters that have turned up outside the school. “Is it turning up in the nick of time? Is it the belief that the sun will rise tomorrow? Is it—”
“He’ll buy us some time,” Abed hisses into Troy’s comm, pulling his attention away from the speech. “While they’re looking at him, you’re going to go over their heads, use the girl’s locker room to change into street clothes and meet me at your car.”
“Starting to see the benefit of a secret identity,” Troy grumbles, and there’s a long pause.
“Really?” Abed says, not even in the Batman voice. “Because I could work that out, probably.”
“Nah,” Troy says, “not really. But I think maybe we need to move to a bigger town.”
“—the boundless hope of the human spirit!” Jeff is saying, to a now-rapt audience, as Troy jumps over them unnoticed. “And it is us, you and me, right here and now, who truly define our heroes! Who wake up in the morning and create meaning with our breakfast cereals! Who—”
“He’s going wide with it,” Abed says, judgmental, “let’s talk cities,” and Troy snorts, tunes Jeff back out.
“Spiderman!” The kid is smoke-covered and has been gasping against Troy’s shoulder for their entire trip, clutching him so hard Troy kind of thought he might rip the costume. Now that they’re settled down on the street, though, and away from the burning building, he’s wide-eyed and excited. “That was amazing, that was so amazing, that was like most amazing thing that’s ever happened, you are so cool.”
Troy should probably get him to an ambulance, because smoke inhalation is totally bad for people, but it’s hard not to want to impress the little guy. The hero-worship thing is kind of weird for Troy still—a lot of the time it makes him want to lock himself in his apartment with Abed and watch TV forever—but this kid is getting to him in the good way. The way that makes Troy want to defend the whole planet, maybe forever.
“The conversation with your younger self,” Abed says, Batman voice in full swing. He sounds like he’s nodding. “A comic book staple. Make it fast, there are still people trapped in that building.”
“Right,” Troy says. He crouches down in front of the kid, and realizes he’s got no idea what to say a second before he’s being hugged, enthusiastic little arms going around his neck and squeezing hard.
“I love you, Spiderman,” the kid whispers, and Troy grins underneath his mask before he can help himself, hugs back and steps away. He shoots a string of web at the kid’s backpack; it’ll dry there and stay forever, and he’ll be able to tell his friends about it. It’s the only gift Troy has the time to give right now, but the kid looks thrilled, so maybe that’s alright.
“Be safe, little guy,” he says, and swings away. Superheroing, as it turns out, is about more than plot.