*A/N - Here's Part 2. Takes places on the eve of Annie's departure. I'm starting to wonder if I should've posted all of these together as a single story with 3 chapters, but I figured since they're separate vignettes that can carry on their own (they also vary vastly in length), that I should post them as separate stories. Sorry for wondering aloud; I just hope nobody is bothered by the separate postings. Part 3 will pick up directly after this one left off. As always, R&R ... pretty please.
Jeff Winger sat on his couch contemplatively staring at the clock on his entertainment center until the glowing burgundy numbers began to appear as vague indiscernible smudges to his unfocused gaze. It didn't matter; he knew it wasn't even 9 o'clock yet. A silent but simmering irritation, maybe even fury, filled his core; it was just his luck. This whole week had passed faster than a blink and now when the countdown had really begun and it was too late to make a difference, time seemed to pour through a tilted funnel, slower and thicker than molasses. He had to remind himself that even if the week hadn't flown by, he still wouldn't have done anything differently. If tonight would move by so slow, he would coax the infinitesimal progression with his own altered perception; and what better way than through a drink, or two, hell, maybe even a bottle was a match for a night like this. So he grabbed one. Taking his decanter of MacCallen while still playing along with the pretense of a glass as well, he sat back down and began to pour.
It was right at that moment of whispered drizzling - the kind that muted the world and already worked its way on settling his nerves with promise of reward - his favorite moment in a shitty day, that his pensive self-reflection was interrupted by abrupt and crisp knocking. The three raps on his door tore him from his reverie before a brief silence ensued. He said nothing and headed for the door as the knock returned, softer and shyer than before.
The timid knock gave way as Jeff undid the lock. He opened the door and Annie stood before him looking positively dumbfounded. Her eyes were wide, alert and almost pleading, her brow scrunched as her mouth parted ever so slightly as if she was trying to remember how to speak. Jeff saw no real fear in her eyes and found her state to be endearing. "I…" She offered.
He smiled and shook his head with a humored laziness. The motion had a surprisingly calming effect on her. "Tomorrow…?" He replied, earning a fervent nod from her. "Come on in." He stepped back, giving her space. She entered with a grateful sigh. "You look like you could really use a drink."
She nodded again and sat down. "I've gone over every little thing 5 times each and now I feel like I'm about to explode."
Jeff's hearty laugh from the kitchen reached her and the heavy, rich sound soothed something deep inside her panicked shell. He searched throughout his fridge, finding some orange juice and began assembling a Screwdriver for her.
His glass of single malt scotch waited on the coffee table, and underneath the table rested its bottle. It was good that she had come, accidentally saving him from a night of wallowing; silent, manly, tough wallowing, of course. It seemed weird to drink with the cause of his anguish, and subsequent 'liquid therapy', but 'it's better than drinking alone.' He thought with a wry grin.
"I doubt you forgot anything, Annie. You're going to do great."
"No, I know." She said with no sense of arrogance, more distractedly than anything else.
He walked over to her and placed the drink in her unprepared but upward facing palms. Her eyes finally focused as she looked into his and smiled warmly. "Thank you."
The warmth soaked his attitude at the brief touch. He sat across from her. She shook her head, embarrassed. "I'm sorry to impose. I didn't even give you a heads up. You're probably…"
"Busy doing absolutely nothing… How'd you guess?" He grinned, took a sip of his drink, and then inspected the glass. "No, it's nice that you stopped by. After all, you're leaving tomorrow." He looked up and their eyes met for a suspended second.
Annie felt her cheeks heat and looked away. "I didn't mean to come and bother you. I just needed a distraction." The second the words left her mouth, she could feel the embarrassment trickling through her veins and could guess that the expression showed.
"I guess I'll take that as a compliment." He grinned cheekily.
"It's just," she tried again, giving herself a deep breath, although it was hard to focus when simply Jeff's presence was leaving her frazzled. They hadn't been alone together since that night in the Study Room. "Britta's working late and Abed's spending his last night at his dad's, so it was just me sitting at home, overthinking, losing my nerve…" She breathed heavily, not sure if she had finished her thought.
"How flattering! So you're saying I was your last resort?" He said theatrically with playful hurt, all the while ignoring the very real sting.
"No, I," she quickly rebutted. Jeff tried to jokingly butt in the pause, but she continued quieter and more earnest. "I feel like I've said my goodbye's to everyone, but you." In truth, she'd been stalling towards this moment.
Jeff couldn't ignore or hide from the sting this time around. Did this mean it really was goodbye?
Their eyes met and the silence stretched as they both remembered that night in the Study Room. Jeff had no idea what to say and let the silence hold him captive for one second too long when he felt the world and the air in his lungs expand to the size of an over-inflated balloon just before it popped. "So," he said a little louder than he meant to, trying to interrupt his own thoughts. "You have everything set up for when you get there?" He took a sip, finishing his drink. Setting the glass down, he decided to wait before refilling at least to keep up with the façade of being somewhat undisturbed.
Annie smiled shyly and nodded. "Yeah. They kind of have an in-house program, so although the internship pays next to nothing, room and board won't really be a problem." She fidgeted. "Could we talk about something else?" Her face scrunched up as if she was embarrassed by the topic.
"Right. I guess I'm no good at catering to your request of 'distraction'." He shrugged charmingly and Annie's eyes softened for a second. "So, I talked to Troy today."
"You did?" Both the volume and disposition of her voice brightened.
"Yeah, he said there was some crazy kind of run-in with pirates that threw them off course and off schedule." She tensed at the news. "But supposedly, they've righted themselves and he thinks the expedition should be finished in the next few months."
Annie's smile sagged and her eyes lost their vivacity. "He won't be coming home to the same Greendale that he left behind."
Jeff looked away and quickly decided it was time to pour that second and not-so-accidentally larger drink. He ignored the wary stare he could feel prickling his skin out of the corner of his eye. "That's for sure." He took an exaggeratedly slow sip. "I wouldn't be surprised though if he only visits briefly and moves on to be with Abed in California." He still hadn't met her gaze again. "It's astonishing that the distance hasn't forced them towards divorcing one another." His tone attempted to lather his patented form of syrupy sarcasm, but failed noticeably.
"You know, it's-"
Jeff couldn't stand the softness of her voice, it sent off warning bells in his head and strangling shivers in his chest, so he interrupted the gentle cadence before she could finish. "No big deal, is what it is. Most study groups don't even make it to graduation, but we did, fully intact, I might add." He finally looked back at her to show her he was okay. For all the pretending in the world though, Annie knew better, she knew Jeff. She had been subjected to witness this 'emotional allergy' before, but this time she didn't have it in her to press him. "And then after graduation, we continued on, one member shy." His voice halted as they both remembered their most troublesome and contrasting friend. "It's not as if we ever expected it to last forever." He took another sip.
"That doesn't mean it won't." Her voice attempted a cheeriness that Jeff almost found infectious. "We are always going to be friends, but we just have our own separate paths."
The infectiousness of her positivity fell short and Jeff nodded. "I feel like now I need a distraction from this conversation." His velvety mockery now hit its mark and Annie laughed, sipping her drink.
"Well, my mind is only filled with the internship right now." That was a lie, but Annie couldn't very well admit the only other thing consuming her thoughts, as it sat across from her sipping scotch.
"I guess I failed then." Jeff offered her a small smirk that could have easily doubled as a lip twitch. He had to tear his eyes away from her pleasant and content smile. "I can't believe you're actually going to intern for the FBI, I mean, I can, because you'll probably be running it in the next 10 years, but it's still so huge."
Annie blushed and looked at her drink before taking a large gulp. "Yeah, Abed made a joke about it being the perfect kind of big news to leave people on tenterhooks for a season finale." She laughed nervously, almost devoid of humor.
"He's partially right." Jeff tapped his index finger on his glass. "It is a perfect ending." There was an uncomfortable but brief silence as he paused. "But it's more of a series finale, if anything." He swallowed the last few sips in a dissatisfied and bitter gulp. "Abed said so himself, we don't get a season 7."
Annie shrugged and looked down at the glass in her hands and felt the tension stretching her gut until her breathing felt labored. "It looks that way." She said noncommittally, immediately realizing that coming here probably wasn't the best idea. She was feeling too much and it seemed she wasn't alone in the intellectual and semi-nostalgic self-torture. She finished her drink and went into the kitchen to rinse her glass.
Despite the ache in his gut Jeff spoke good-humoredly. "Annie, you really don't have to do that. It's fine."
She washed the glass a little longer and more forceful than necessary. "No, it's the least I can do. I just barge in and you were kind enough to make me a drink…" She finished her task and exited the kitchen, leaning against the counter beside the bar stools. "I really appreciate it."
"What? My failed attempt at distraction?"
"More the fact that you even bothered attempting." She grinned and made a show of looking at her watch. "I'm sorry that I came over and bothered you. I should probably go home. Big day tomorrow." She shrugged.
"Is it?" He said seemingly self-satisfied and snarky. "This is my first time hearing it."
"Ha." She tucked a stray hair behind her ear. "Where else am I going to experience such charm?"
"I should think just about everywhere in DC. What are politicians most known for?"
"Sex scandals?" She said playfully.
He gave her a cheeky grin. "Well, that too. I was going to say charm and corruption. Two virtues I have an abundant supply of."
"And the aforementioned?" She inquired with a raised brow, as if she could really imagine the possibility of Jeff caught up in a juicy sex scandal.
"None worth mentioning, although I guess I'll have to start aspiring before it's time for re-election." He finished, letting out a soft bark of laughter.
"I should…" She walked back in his direction, grabbing her phone from the chair and placing it in her pocket.
"Head back?" He offered gently.
She nodded and walked towards the door. Jeff rose quickly, feeling his head swim briefly at the rushed movement before following her. He opened the door and Annie hesitated on the threshold, looking back at him and wondering if his heart was thrashing in his chest like hers was. "Well, goodnight."
Before she could fully turn around, Jeff let out a sound clearing his throat. "So," he said simply as if she hadn't been about to leave. "We never asked you what yours was."
"Your season 7 pitch?" He said with a light smile that creased his eyes ever so slightly.
Their gazes connected and Annie didn't have time to second guess herself until she was leaning into his personal space and pulling his shirt down in one quick movement before sealing her lips over his. The kiss was both soft and passionate and ended all too soon. Her gut was a flaming pit and slowly she searched into his eyes. They regarded her tenderly and the hint of a grin contorted his expression in a way that quickly taught her what the physical manifestation of pining was. "Mine too," was all he said and she knew that right then, she wanted him more than anything. She leaned back in and their lips came together as he shut the door beside them.