Author's Note: Originally written for Yuletide 2009, for myrifique who wanted Jeff/Annie and/or Jeff/Britta and the girls being friends.
"Hello, Greendale!" The dean's voice came out of the speakers that were peppered liberally around campus. "Just a reminder, next week is Valentine's Day."
Annie looked up from her notebook and eyed the speaker with disdain. "Why do they have a speaker in the library anyway? Isn't this supposed to be a quiet study area?"
The other members of the study group looked around at each other and offered a chorus of shrugs and head shakes. No one was quite sure as to the true answer behind Annie's question. "Design fluke," Jeff said, after a period of uncomfortable silence, "it has to be."
"And to celebrate Valentine's Day, Greendale will be hosting a special Valentine's Day festival – so bring the person you love – or the person that you wish you were in love with, for that matter – and spend the night partying here at Greendale!"
"Yeah, like this is really where I'd take a girl on Valentine's Day," Troy said, slamming his textbook shut, startling Shirley in the process. "Anyway, I'm out of here." He stood up and walked out.
"Wait, we're not yet…" Annie said, looking dejected and trailing off as he walked out the door, "nevermind, then."
Later that evening, Jeff looked down at his phone, his fingers hovering over the keys. Ever since Britta had convinced him to start thinking of people's names instead of just a short description, he had made a considerable effort to edit the phone book as it stood – though he didn't have it entirely switched over to this new system.
The dean's announcement from earlier that day stuck in his mind. It wasn't a secret that he had been interested in Britta for some time. Maybe she'd be up to going to the festival with him. It couldn't hurt asking.
He took a deep breath, and moved the indicator as to where it was hovering over Britta's name. "Here goes nothing."
From somewhere inside her purse, Britta heard the tell-tale vibration of her cell phone. Well then, she had forgotten to turn the volume on after Spanish. She fished it out and flipped open the phone without looking at it. "Hello?"
"Yes, uh, hi Britta."
"Jeff? Is that you?" She looked at the screen. Question answered. It was him, all right.
"I was wondering if you had plans to go to the festival next week."
She scrunched up her nose and released a breath. So that's what this was about, asking her out. A part of her wondered why he couldn't have cornered her after class or after a study session. "Not currently," she replied.
"Do you want to go with me?"
And there was the question. "I have plans that night with some of my friends." It was true – her friends and she did have the yearly tradition of a Singles' Awareness Day dinner, and she wasn't intending to be the first one to miss it. "Sorry."
"Oh, okay." She could almost hear him exhaling sadly over the receiver. "See you in class tomorrow?"
"Yeah, see you in class," she said, ending the call and flopping backward onto her bed. Even if she had wanted to, it wasn't something she was interested in doing.
"Well, that went well," Jeff said, glaring at his phone, before making a snap decision and dialing another number.
"'ello?" a tired female voice sounded from over the line.
"Annie, did I wake you up?"
"Yeah." He could almost hear her rubbing her eyes over the phone. "Whaddya want?"
"I'll talk to you before class tomorrow – you go back to sleep."
"No, what do you want? You want to talk?"
"It's not important, Annie."
"If you're calling at," there was a brief pause, presumably so she could stare blearily at a clock, "midnight on a school night, there has to be a reason."
"I was wondering if you're going to the Valentine's Day festival next week."
"Was thinking about it," she mumbled, almost incoherently. He had to strain to hear her.
"You want to go with me?"
"No. 'Night, Jeff."
"Good night, Annie."
He couldn't believe it. Neither of them had accepted his invitation? At least Britta had plans with her friends. Who knew why Annie had decided to blow him off.
It was sometime between the end of Spanish and the beginning of their study session the next day when a frantic Annie, disheveled and in tears, ran up to Jeff in the hallway. "He's…another girl…" she said as her voice rose higher and higher in tone, nearly falling over in a heap at one point, "I'll be honored to go with you to the festival." She threw her arms around Jeff's neck and grinned despite herself.
Score one for him.
As they walked out of the building later that day, Annie shrinking to the back of the group, almost to the point where she wasn't even a part of it, nearly a splinter – Jeff noticed that she had been pointedly avoiding Troy all day – Britta turned to him. "Those friends of mine?" she said, whispering, "It turns out they all have dates for Valentine's Day. Bitches."
"So," she said, raising her eyebrow in a near-perfect arch, "what better way to enjoy myself than a night at a community college festival celebrating the commercialization of a basic human emotion, with a member of the opposite sex? Specifically, one who invited me just last night to go with him?"
"Are you asking me to go to the festival with you since I asked you?"
"Yeah, you could put it that way."
"It's a date, then."
"I never said it was a date, I just said I'd go with you."
"Then it's a friendship-date."
The festival was quickly approaching, and both Annie and Britta had dropped not-so-subtle hints to Jeff – out of earshot of everyone else, of course – about how excited they were. Inwardly, he was sweating a little bit. How was he going to balance having two dates - especially since he had basically resigned himself to not having any?
It would be a bridge he'd cross when he got to it. In the highly metaphorical sense, of course.
Britta was still not getting used to the dynamics of this whole gossiping-in-the-women's-bathroom thing, but at least it was a way to keep in the loop with things. So when Annie, in a fit of earnest energy, blurted out that Jeff was taking her to the Valentine's Day festival, and smiled that infuriately gleaming grin of hers, she arched her eyebrow and turned back to furiously applying generous amounts of soap to her hands. So, Jeff was taking Annie, was he?
"Annie, when did Jeff ask you?" she asked, keeping her voice calm and collected. Maybe she was his second choice all along.
"Oh, it was last Monday," Annie replied, "he called me really late at night and then I said 'no' and then when Troy told me that day that he was taking Marcia from his speech class, I went and told Jeff that I'd be happy to go!" She furiously muttered some words under her breath that Britta implied she probably wasn't meant to hear.
"Why? Why is that 'interesting'?" Annie used her fingers in little air-quotes.
"Oh, because Jeff asked me last Monday, and I said that I'd go with him."
"You're lying," Annie said, "you have to be lying." When Britta's expression stayed the same, and no rebuttal on her lying liar ways came out, Annie bit her lip. This was not good. Not good at all. "So, he's taking both of us – without the other knowing?"
Britta nodded her head slowly. "Yup."
Annie's eyes gleamed in the fluorescent lights. "Let's get revenge."
It didn't take much to convince Shirley to play a role in their revenge plot. In fact, Britta and Annie were almost inclined to believe it was too easy. But with a wink and a discreet laugh, they had her in on their plans – for better, or for worse.
So it wasn't all that surprising to either of them when they saw Shirley siding up next to Jeff the next day. "So, Jeff," she said, raising her voice slightly as she said his name, "what are your plans for Valentine's Day?" She threw a wink over at Annie and Britta, who had to quickly stifle a matching set of the giggles.
He glanced down at his textbook and cleared his throat. "Plans with a girl."
"Ooo!" she exclaimed. "Do I know her?"
Jeff let out a pained grunt. "Not now, Shirley." And even though the subject of the conversation was quickly diverted to much less dramatic topics by an oblivious Troy, the girls knew that someone was going to be getting a surprise on Valentine's Day.
The courtyard sparkled with innumerable small lights – presumably left over from decorating from the holiday season, as they appeared to be stolen from a Christmas tree. Way to stretch the usage, Britta thought, pulling her coat tighter around her. Her and Jeff had agreed to meet right here half an hour ago, and he was late. The lights twinkled merrily – almost taunting her. He was either genuinely running late, or had met up with Annie. She wasn't sure.
Annie, on the other hand, was sitting on the other end of the courtyard, periodically casting glances over at Troy and Marcia as they moved through the crowd, laughing and making conversation. Yes, Jeff was paying good amounts of attention to her, but it felt like his mind was a million miles away. "Jeff, you in there?" she said, waving her hand in front of his face.
"I'm right here," he said, slightly miffed. "I'm going to go get something to drink; you want anything while I'm up?"
"No, thanks," she replied, watching as he got up and ran across the courtyard. A part of her wondered how long it would take for him to get back, and if he'd even have any of his drink left when he did. If there was a drink in the first place, that is. Somehow, she suspected that if Britta had been telling the truth – and a good portion of her believed her – she'd be seeing Jeff before he'd be seeing her.
"Sorry, Britta, I was running late," Jeff said, running up to her and panting slightly, "car problems."
"Oh, that's okay," she said, smiling despite herself, "you're here now." Out of the line of Jeff's vision, Britta threw up her thumb, and Shirley, standing in the bushes nearby, caught the signal. She darted out from behind the bushes and speed-walked over to where Annie was standing.
"They're talking right now," Shirley said, lowering her voice as to not allow anyone aside from Annie to hear her, "Britta should be meeting up with us any time."
No more than five minutes later, by Shirley's estimation, Britta showed up, a smirk crossing her face. "He's got both of us wrapped around his finger, Annie. Ready?"
"Ready," Annie and Shirley said in unison.
"Let's do this."
If anyone had managed to tear their eyes away from their dates long enough to people-watch that night, they would have seen three women marching across the courtyard, a particularly determined aura around all three. They would have also seen the three women circle one man – the unwitting prey, not knowing that his fate was soon to change for the worse.
"So, Jeff, when were you going to tell me that you were here with Britta?" Annie said, her hands firmly planted on her hips.
"Yeah, when were you going to tell me about Annie?" Britta said with her mouth set in a firm line.
"Yeah!" Shirley chimed in.
"I - I don't know what to say," Jeff stammered. He hadn't expected either of them to pick up on it. Not yet at least. Maybe if they had both encountered each other while powdering their noses or something – or whatever it was that women did while in the restroom together. But not this soon.
"I don't want to see you any time soon," Britta continued. "You could have said no to one of us, and nothing would be the matter. This was low and you know it."
"I'm sorry for that?"
"Sorry isn't good enough, Jeff," Annie said in reply. "I don't want to see you either."
The three of them marched off, arm in arm. "So, is there anything to do this time of night?" Annie asked.
"There's a diner near campus," Britta said. "Let's go. All three of us. Right now. My treat."