Annie has a point to make. And dammit, she's going to make it.
She sat down to make a list of the best May/December romances in literature and film, but after an hour she only had Jane and Mr. Rochester and Marianne and Colonel Brandon. She figured she could use the help of an expert.
Abed seemed pretty psyched (well, as psyched as Abed could get) to have, as he put it, another storyline with her. Annie hardly thinks a few minutes of sitting in the library while he lists movies with May/December romances would count as a storyline, but if it makes him happy, she'll just go with it.
Annie places her pen to her notebook and gets into note taking position. She glances up as Abed, who's looking at her with a hint of suspicion in his eyes. "What is this for?"
Crap. "Ummmm…." Annie was never great at thinking on her feet. She kind of can't believe that she didn't even bother to think up an excuse as to why she needed a list of May/December romances. She should have known Abed would ask. He is creepily perceptive.
Luckily, now all Annie has to do is think back to the debate, to how good she was at thinking on her feet in that moment, and she comes up with a pretty decent excuse. "It's a project for my literature class."
"You could have used the internet."
She'd thought about that, but anyone could access the history on her internet browser and find out what she was looking for, and that would be evidence. Of course, a living, breathing person was evidence, too. So maybe she should do something to silence Abed. Like kill him. Or tear his tongue out. Annie tells her brain to shut up. Shut up now.
She puts a sweet smile on her face. "But it's more fun talking to you."
He still looks a little suspicious. Creepy bastard.
But he either decides her explanation is plausible enough (unlikely) or that he just doesn't care enough to proceed and further with this line of questioning (more likely).
So they move forward with Annie's "project", and she's writing down all the titles coming out of Abed's mouth, and few of them she hasn't heard of, so she has to make him stop to describe the plot.
She only has to stop him with a firm "No" twice.
The first time is Harold and Maude.
"I'm really just sticking to May/December stories where the man is the older party. Just to… you know… keep it simple."
The second time is Lolita.
"That would absolutely not be helpful to my project."
"But it's one of the most famous depictions of a relationship between an older man and a younger woman."
"Yes, but… my project is more in support of the May/December relationship, so…"
"What class did you say this was for?" His eyes narrow just a teeny, tiny bit.
"No you didn't. You said it was for literature."
Annie's mouth drops open. She does a pretty decent imitation of a fish, opening and closing her mouth a few times before she finally gets words to come out. "Abed, did you trick me?"
He just nods calmly. "Yes. Yes, I did."
Annie closes her notebook and shoves it into her bag quickly, because she has to get out of her she has to get out of here RIGHT NOW because Abed knows and he's giving her that creepy "I know" look and it's freaking her out and she's starting to panic so she needs to leave rightnowrightthissecond.
"That's not nice!" She all but yells as she stands from the table. "Friends just don't do that to each other." She picks up her bag and darts toward the door, because that was a pretty good line to close on, and hopefully he'll feel guilty enough not to tell anyone anything.
His voice follows her out of the room. "You're right. Sorry, Chandler."
Despite the eerie disaster that was working with Abed, Annie did manage to get a few good titles out of the whole thing, so she feels pretty confident about her ability to make this particular point. She just needs to get the backbone to do it.
It's moments like these that she almost misses the pills. Overall, when she looks back, she hates all the things they made her do and made her feel, but as horrible as it sounds she could chalk up one positive for the awful things. They gave her the backbone to do things she wouldn't do normally. Okay, so maybe it wasn't so much a backbone as it was that she just wasn't sober enough to realize that not everything is a REALLYAWESOMEIDEA!!! Sometimes she ended up doing some okay things with that feeling, and sometimes she ended up doing some really, really bad things with that feeling. But this, right now, this isn't just an okay thing. She's pretty sure it's a really, REALLY good thing. A legitimately REALLYAWESOMEIDEA!!!. And she wishes she had a little more courage to do it, even if it wasn't real courage.
It takes about a week to gather up some courage, and she excuses it by saying she just needs to narrow down the list. Watch some movies, re-read some books, and choose only the absolute best examples.
Everyday she says to herself she's going to do it. And then Jeff walks into the library and her breath catches in her throat and she can barely even look at him for the rest of the day, much less talk to him.
And every day when Jeff walks in the room, Abed gives her a little smile. Which, at first, creeps her out, but then she realizes that it's a supportive smile. So, yeah, he knows and everything, but at least he supports it.
She spends most of the study sessions wondering if everyone else in the group would support it, too. She figures Shirley might, once she knows it's not some creepy thing on Jeff's part, and that it's something Annie really wants. Pierce would probably just make some kind of obscene comment and not care either way. Troy… well, Troy is completely oblivious to everything Annie does most of the time anyway, so this probably wouldn't be any different. Britta… Britta's the one that might be the problem. Because Britta would go all rampage-y "THIS IS SO WRONG!" like she always does just because of the age difference. And also because there's the whole Jeff/Britta thing and yeah Britta says she doesn't like him but she was definitely jealous of the hot teacher on Halloween and maybe Jeff still likes Britta too and oh my god she can't breath anymore and everyone at the table is looking at her because of it.
Before anyone can ask what's wrong, she simply excuses herself from the table and heads to the bathroom to CHILL THE HELL OUT. Once she's finally calmed down, she decides to spend a little bit of time wondering how concerned Jeff looked back there as she fled from the library. She supposes she can ask Abed later.
It's Friday before she finally gets the nerve to go through with it. It's thanks to Abed, really, and his films. She opens up a link in her email on Thursday night, from Abed, and it's his latest "Community College Chronicles". Annie's pretty perplexed, because Abed doesn't usually put these up on the site until Monday, and he's never sent her one personally before. So she watches it, and then she gets it. His little series has always been oddly prophetic, and in this installment Fake Annie confesses her love to Fake Jeff, and Fake Jeff returns her feelings. Of course, she knows that Abed did this one on purpose, but it's the thought that counts and thought is giving her a lot more strength than she'd had a few minutes ago.
Abed's the only one in the library when she walks in the next day. She kind of wants to hug him, but she settles for just smiling at him as she settles into her seat, saying, "Thanks, Abed."
Abed just shrugs his shoulders. "It kind of messes up the storyline for the rest of the season, but I'm okay with that."
So Annie decides that this is going to be a self-fulfilling prophesy, and she resolves to tell Jeff by the end of the day. She's so giddy about it that instead of blushing and looking away when Jeff walks in the room, she smiles at him happily, and he just gives her a weird look before looking back at his cell phone. But she keeps smiling at him, and he keeps looking more and more uncomfortable.
Oh yeah. She's going to get the guy.
It's the combination of not having a class with him for the entire second half of the day and her general insecurity that makes her chicken out by the end of the day. She's sitting in the gymnasium, feeling sorry for herself, watching everyone else dance around having fun. It's the school's secular, non-denominational, all encompassing holiday party, and the gym is decorated in a bizarre combination of holiday decorations, and for some reason the trying-so-hard-not-to-be-offensive vibe of the event is making her even more depressed.
And then she sees Jeff. She kind of can't believe he's here. Because despite all the times he's made a big deal about not wanting to go school functions and then showing up at said functions, he really seemed like he wasn't going to show up at this one. And he's staring at her in that "I'm not staring at you" way. And Annie knows that this is the universe telling her exactly what she needs to do.
She takes a few deep breaths to brace herself and then crosses the gym to where Jeff is standing. She stops in front of him. And forgets everything she wants to say. And Jeff is looking at her expectantly and she really wishes she had made note cards or something.
In the background she can hear Vaughn's band playing. He's moved on from Pierce to another object of disdain, someone named Tony, but he's still big on calling people "B"s. Annie thinks that Vaughn shows an awful lot of hatred for a hippie who doesn't usually bathe.
Jeff is still looking at her expectantly, and Annie is desperately trying to remember her list. She takes a few more deep breaths, centers herself, and allows herself to start.
"I really love Little Women." He doesn't say anything. "You know, the book and movie. Little Women. Capital L and W. Not lower case L and W. I do not like little women in general."
And she's babbling, and freaking out a little, and he's giving her a look that's definitely amused and maybe (hopefully not in her head) affectionate.
"You know, how Jo falls in love with her professor. An older man."
"If you're asking for my blessing for you to go after Professor Whitman, I say seize that day," Jeff retorts easily, and Annie wants to stomp and possibly throw a tantrum at his difficultness.
"Jane and Mr. Rochester!" she shouts unreasonably.
"Professor Whitman is Mr. Rochester?"
"NO! You're Mr. Rochester!"
"I'm way better looking than Mr. Rochester."
This time Annie does stomp her foot, and she lets out a little huff. Leave it to Jeff to make a confession of affection so damn difficult. And that kind of makes her want him more.
"Jeff! Why are you making this so difficult? I'm trying to... express something here!"
He has the sense to look chastised. And then he looks really uncomfortable. "Annie..."
"No! I'm going to finish! I have a point to make, dammit. And I'm going to make it. So just shut up and listen!"
His eyes widen a bit, but his mouth snaps shut. Annie makes a mental note to do a victory dance later over how she was successfully formidable and got Jeff to shut up without using tears.
She swallows, and tries to find a facial expression somewhere between formidable and affectionate. She's not sure what the face she lands on looks like, but it feels okay, so she's just going to go with it. "Jeff, some of the greatest love stories ever told are of the May/December nature. An older man and a younger woman. As we've already previously discussed, Little Women and Jane Eyre. Also, Sense and Sensibility and My Fair Lady. These love stories work. So, I guess my point is... why shouldn't we?"
It wasn't as eloquent or as climactic a speech as she had planned in her head throughout the day. She didn't even use half of her examples on her list. But overall, she was pretty happy with it. Until Jeff said:
"First of all, those are all works of fiction. They work because somebody made them up. Second, they all take place a century ago."
Annie deflates. She hadn't really prepared for a rebuttal. She'd pretty much just assumed that once she proved her point, Jeff would agree, and then they'd get married. Or something. She hadn't really thought too much past the "Jeff agreeing" part.
But she's determined, and she wants this. She really wants this. Maybe more than she's ever wanted anything. And so, without the benefit of additional preparation, her mind takes over, and she's suddenly arguing things she hadn't planned at all. "Well, what about Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart? The age different between them was so much bigger than the one between us. And Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas. They seem really happy. And he's older than her father."
Jeff looks down at his feet. "Just because we kissed once doesn't mean we have to be together."
"I don't think that we have to be together. I want to be together." Annie then decides that yes, she has the balls to say it. "And I think you do, too."
Jeff looks away and doesn't answer, and Annie's no student of human behavior, but she thinks that's a good sign. So she soldiers forward. "I know you think it's a big deal, that you've lived more years than I have. But I've had just as much drama and disappointment in my life as you have. Maybe even more. Sure, you were a lawyer and you lived a fancy life and you lost that. But I had a drug problem. I went to rehab, for heaven's sake. The amount of horrible life I've lived more than matches the amount of horrible life you've lived. I'm only 18 in years, Jeff. I want you. Don't you want me?"
He looks up at her for a brief moment and then looks away. After a long moment, he finally says, "Britta's probably going to beat me up."
Annie smiles. Hard. "But you'll take it for me, won't you?"
Looking at the ceiling he groans dramatically. "God, you're so demanding!"
Annie giggles, and Jeff looks down at her like he wants to kiss her, and she wonders why he doesn't. Then she realizes that they're standing in the middle of the gym, during the "Greendale Secular Holiday Party!' (yes, with the exclamation mark) and that the five sets of eyes belonging to their fellow Spanish study group members are on them, very interested in what they're doing. Annie has an image in her head of a very public kiss, with everyone in the room oohing and awwing, and the music swelling, and she almost tries to goad him into it by telling him he'd probably get extra credit from Professor Whitman for not just seizing the day, but seizing the holiday. But she realizes that she wants to belong to her, just her. And Jeff, too of course. So she smiles, and this time she offers her arm first and says, "Milord."
Jeff smiles bigger and wider than she's ever seen him smile before as he takes her arm. "Milady."
They exit the party together, arm in arm. They'll worry about their friends tomorrow.