Notes: Thanks to Emily, my awesome beta reader, for going through this and fixing my many, many grammar mistakes.
Britta admits that she was caught off guard by the whole Jeff/Professor Hotstuff thing; not because she suddenly had some kind of realization that she was in love with Jeff or anything, but because it seemed that Jeff's shift from "Mr. One Night Stand" to "Mr. Relationship" happened really fast, faster than she could wrap her head around it.
She knows she's "over" him or whatever during that epic stare down during the study group.
The past few weeks have been a weird emotional rollercoaster of uncertainty and jealousy. First, there was the aforementioned thing with Jeff and Professor Slater (is it weird that Britta has a hard time referring to teachers who aren't that much older than her— and who are sleeping with her friends— by their first names?). And then there was Vaughn hooking up with Annie. She tried to act cool about it, tried not to care, tried to pretend that the reason she was scheming with Jeff really was because she was worried about Annie, and not because she was jealous.
She kind of can't believe the words as they come out of her mouth, because this is so not the person she wants to be. She wants to be laid back and not care that her ex-boyfriend is dating one of her best friends. But all of a sudden she's got some kind of verbal diarrhea and she can't unsay the things she's saying and she's so embarrassed.
So she turns it around on Jeff.
Honestly, Britta hadn't thought too much about Jeff's motivations in trying to break up Annie and Vaughn because she was way too busy trying to stifle her own, but she did have a tiny, flickering suspicion that he was doing all of it out of jealousy.
She's actually really surprised at the exchange that occurs between Jeff and Annie.
"What are you insinuating? I took that kiss for the team!"
"What!?" And then, "Yeah, that kiss was strategic and joyless."
"What!?" And then, "Yeah."
The facial expressions, the vocal inflections and the eye contact… it's all just… weird.
And then there's the group stare exchange.
Once she's finished her bizarre shared glance with Annie (which totally means absolutely nothing, even if Britta's grandmother always did say that all women are at least a little bit gay), she turns her gaze to Jeff, expecting to see him looking back at her with a rude and disgustingly suggestive look on his face.
But he's already looking at Annie. Who isn't looking at him.
And the look on his face isn't gross and inappropriate and suggestive of all sorts of things that Annie probably wouldn't understand and wouldn't want explained. It's just this soft, gentle look, and Britta's pretty sure he doesn't even realize it's there. It's kind of… adoring.
And then Annie looks at him.
And he smiles.
And Britta knows she's so completely over whatever it was she had for Jeff because she's not mad, or upset, or at all jealous. There are a lot of feelings going through her, but none are negative, and none are really for herself.
There's a sort of excitement that runs through her at the thought that she might be the only one who witnessed this small but incredible moment between Jeff and Annie, and that she may be the only person in the room who actually understands what happened.
There's a shamefully girly flutter in her stomach over the fact that she just experienced a simple, yet incredibly romantic moment that happens rarely, and usually only in the movies.
And then… she thinks she might feel a little… sorry for Jeff? Yeah, she thinks she is. Because despite the fact that Annie's brief look at Jeff was packed with… something… she's pretty sure that, at least at this point, Jeff is way more into Annie than Annie is into Jeff.
That's really not the way she would have expected it to be. Annie is the sweet, naïve, adorably annoying young girl and Jeff is the incredibly cool, aloof but really caring older guy. Annie is the one who's supposed to be hung up on him. Not the other way around.
So Annie completely and unexpectedly knocked Jeff on his ass. Huh. That's so weird. And really sweet.
There's a lot going on in Britta's head when the group leaves the building to find Vaughn and his guitar, there to serenade Annie. She tells Annie to date Vaughn because Annie looks happy, and because she really doesn't think she's jealous any more, and because this thing with Jeff and Annie is just too new and bizarre to really worry about.
But as the day goes on, Britta starts to think she maybe did the wrong thing. But what was she supposed to do? Should she have said, "No, Annie, because I saw the look you and Jeff shared and he's so totally into you, and despite the fact that you're both probably in denial about it, AND despite the fact that you're both in relationships with other people, I'm going to completely call you out on this thing in front of everyone and tell you guys to go for it!"
Yeah, that wouldn't have gone well at all.
But it's all Britta can think about for the rest of the day. The look on Jeff's face as he watched Annie… she's NEVER seen him look at his Girlfriend Professor that way. Sure, Jeff and Britta haven't had many heart-to-hearts about his relationship, but as far as Britta can tell, sex is the driving force there; and there isn't much else. There's already so much more to Jeff's relationship with Annie.
And she has to say that she's not crazy about the way Annie's just changing all these things about herself to fit into Vaughn's world. And, having already had a relationship with Vaughn, Britta can say that he is not good enough for Annie. Annie is this smart, put-together girl and Vaughn… he's really dumb. And childish. And emotional.
She's starting to get that feeling she gets when she reads about whale poachers in the paper or when she sees women being discriminated against. She feels the need to do something.
But she needs to think about this. The last time Britta decided to meddle in her friends' business… well, it led to the creepy argument in the study group which led to the line of thought she's having right now. But, her meddling hasn't always ended badly. She helped Abed's dad to understand where he was coming from. Kind of. She had a part in that. A bit. Maybe indirectly.
Calculus and Media Studies take a backseat to the tug of war going on in her mind. She goes back and forth on the matter. Just when she decides that no, Annie and Jeff are both in relationships and that they both seem reasonably happy— so she should stay out of it— she remembers the way Jeff's face looked, and her heart does this little flutter thing and she kind of wants to cry.
The deciding moment is when she's walking to her car at the end of the day and she sees Jeff just sitting on the bench, gazing at something several yards away. And he's wearing the look.
Britta follows his eyes to where Annie and Vaughn are sitting together on the grass, watching the sunset. She looks back at Jeff and notices that the look is tinged with a little bit of sadness.
And the idiot probably doesn't even realize it. That's it. Britta decides that her friends are too stupid to allow themselves to be truly happy, and that she has to do something about it. She has to scheme.
Britta doesn't know how to scheme.
She doesn't think of herself as some kind of angel. She's done plenty of bad things in her life. But intentionally plotting to sabotage people she cares about is not something she understands how to do. As badly as the scheming went last time, at least she had Jeff, master manipulator, to help.
She's not really sure how to do it by herself.
Maybe it would be easier if Jeff and Annie weren't involved with other people. Then it would just be gently nudging together two people who should be together anyway. But doing it this way means that there are going to be hurt feelings. And it means that there's going to be a plan with stages.
Britta's so not a planner. So the idea of a plan with stages in intimidating. She thinks about writing it all down, to keep her thoughts organized, but realizes that it would be a bad idea to leave a paper trail. It's all going to have to stay in her head.
Since Jeff is clearly more into Annie, he's logically the first step. If she can get Jeff on board with the idea that he should be with Annie, then Jeff can woo Annie. So she needs to first get Professor Slater out of the way.
Step 1: Remove Professor Slater from the equation
Step 2: Convince Jeff he belongs with Annie
That's enough for now. She'll deal with the Annie stuff later.
Britta's actually kind of proud of the plan she comes up with. There needs to be a reason for Jeff and his professor to break up; and she'll give them one.
She writes a ridiculously goopy love note and sticks it in one of Jeff's books.
Naturally, Professor Slater will find it, a fight will ensue wherein she accuses Jeff of cheating on her, and then they break up.
Britta Perry, Evil Genius.
She's seriously proud of herself. Maybe she's better at the game of manipulation than she thought.
She's sitting in the library, leaning back in her chair, her hands steepled in front of her face, an evil smirk on her lips, when the entire Evil Genius thing comes crashing down on top of her.
"Uh… hey, Britta," Jeff says as he leans awkwardly into the door.
"Hello, Jeff," she responds coolly.
"So…um…here's an awkward conversation starter. Why are you leaving me love notes in my text books?"
"I didn't leave you any love note," she lies, but she's almost busting inside over how awesome her plan is.
"Really?" he asks, sitting down at the table and grabbing her notebook. He flips it open to a random page, and then looks down at the note in his hand. "Yeah, that's what I thought."
Britta drops her hands as her confidence begins to deflate. "What?"
"Britta, when you want to leave anonymous love notes, try to disguise your writing," he says, holding the letter up next to the notebook to show her exactly how identical the writing is.
"Oh, man…" Britta says to herself.
"Yeah." Jeff puts down both items and looks down at his hands uncomfortably.
"Is there something we need to talk about?"
"Britta, you left a love note in my Biology text book."
"Yeah, but…. Oh! Oh no. No, no, no. It's so not what you think."
"Okay, because I'm seeing Michelle now, and—"
"STOP! Oh my god, no. I'm not— it isn't…. It's totally not that."
"Really?" Jeff asks, his eyebrows almost reaching his hairline.
"Yes, really. Seriously. It's so not that."
"So what is it?"
"Well…um…" Okay, so the first plan failed. She's not the master manipulator she thought she was. But, maybe this is a good thing. An avenue of discussion has been opened. Maybe she can just say, "Hey, I know how you feel about Annie." And this whole thing will be so much easier.
But she thinks back over the conversation and hears "… because I'm seeing Michelle now" and the logical part of her brain tells her it's not going to be that easy.
"Was it a joke?" Jeff asks.
"Yes. Yes, it was a joke. I thought it would be funny," Britta answers unconvincingly.
Jeff gives her a look that screams "I so don't believe you", but he just says, "Your sense of humor needs some work, Squirrel."
Britta realizes how incredibly stupid and poorly thought-out her second plan is the second after she puts it into action.
When Jeff gets up to get a cookie during lunch, Britta quickly grabs his phone and changes Professor Slater's name to "Sexy But Annoying Teacher" and her name to "Hote Blond from Applebee's Bathroom Last Week."
The scenario plays out this way in her mind: When Jeff and Professor Slater are alone sometime later in the evening, Britta will call Jeff's phone. For some reason, Jeff will be out of the room and Professor Slater will pick the phone up. Professor Slater will be so upset by the name that appears on the phone that she'll scroll through Jeff's contact list to find herself listed as something almost as insulting.
Yeah. She realizes how stupid the plan is the second she puts the phone down and Jeff walks back to the table. She can almost feel "I'm a moron" stamped across her forehead. She's so mortified she leaves her food at the table and bolts.
She's halfway to her car when Jeff catches up with her.
Clearly, idiotic scheme + guiltily fleeing the scene = incredibly suspicious behavior, and Jeff has decided to follow her.
"Britta!" he shouts as he tries to catch up with her. She just walks fast, hoping to reach her car before his freakishly long legs catch up with her.
No such luck. Jeff steps in front of her, cutting off her way to the parking lot. "What the hell is going on?"
"What do you mean? Nothing's going on. I'm just going to my car. Why do you think something is going on?" Why can't she make the words stop coming out of her mouth?
"Yeah, except that the second I came back you bolted from the table looking guiltier than a kid who just got caught stealing his little brother's Ritalin."
"Guilty?" Britta says. "Who's guilty? I'm not guilty."
"Yeah, and then my phone rang, and I'm wondering who Sexy But Annoying Teacher is, and then I realize that I never put any such person in my phone," he says accusingly.
"Maybe you were drunk," Britta says lamely.
Jeff just gives her an 'are you kidding' look before taking her by the arm and pulling her over to a secluded area by the side of a building.
"Britta, seriously, what is going on?"
"I can't tell you."
"Look, you made it abundantly clear that you weren't interested. So I moved on. What is it, now that I'm in an actual relationship you're regretting your decision or something?"
"No! Absolutely not!"
"Because, I'm sorry, but I just don't feel that way about you—"
"Jeff, please shut up!"
"Are you seriously going to pretend that you aren't trying to sabotage my relationship with Michelle?"
"But it's not for the reason you think!"
Jeff eyes her warily. "Are you having a nervous breakdown?"
She hits him in the arm. He doesn't even have the decency to act like it hurts.
"I am trying to sabotage your relationship—"
"And you're doing a terrible job of it."
"—but it's not for me."
Raising an eyebrow in disbelief, Jeff asks, "Then who's it for?"
Britta sighs. She's already screwed it up this much. It's not like she can make it any worse. "Annie."
Various confused expressions cross over Jeff's face as he tries to figure out what Britta is telling him. "Annie is with Vaughn," he says carefully.
"Yes, I realize this."
"But she asked you to destroy my relationship anyway?"
"Okay," he says, taking a deep breath. "I think my brain might be imploding, and I think you might need to find a padded cell somewhere."
"Would you just shut up and listen to me, please?" Britta says. "Look, I know how you feel about her."
Jeff pauses as… something passes over his features. "Annie and I are friends."
"Yes, of course, because you're in so much denial right now."
Jeff closes his eyes and allows his frustration to show on his face for a brief moment. "Do you even hear the way you sound right now?"
"Jeff, I saw the way you looked at her, okay? The other day, after your whole 'sexual prospects' speech. I was watching you looking at her. You may not realize it, but I do. I saw it."
All the confusion and anger and frustration inside of Jeff stops and he suddenly looks very vulnerable. "How was I looking at her?"
"Like she was nice cars and expensive suits and Italian faucets all rolled into one perfect girl that you're completely crazy about. Jeff, the way you were looking at her… I've never seen anyone look at another person that way outside of the movies."
Jeff suddenly deflates, running his hand through his hair and leaning against a wall. He looks like a man who's finally decided to stop fighting. "And what am I supposed to do about it?"
Britta looks down at her hands. She hadn't actually reached that part of her planning yet. Luckily, it doesn't seem like Jeff is talking to her.
"I mean, she's… Annie," he continues on. "She's sweet, and she's young… she's so young. And she's with that dirty, no-nipple having, no-shirt wearing, bad-song writing hippie."
Smirking, Britta looks up at Jeff, "I so knew you were jealous."
Jeff shoots her a half-hearted glare. "Enjoy the I-told-you-so's while you can."
"So… now that I've successfully knocked down that wall," Britta says, patting herself on the back even though she might not entirely deserve it, "…. what are you going to do?"
"What am I supposed to do? What did you think I was going to do once your brilliant plan succeeded? Did you think I was just going to dump Michelle so I could go chasing after an 18-year-old girl who already has a boyfriend?"
"Well… yeah. Kind of."
"Why would I do that?"
Britta leans up against the wall next to him, considering her words carefully. "Because I think if you don't, everyone is going to end up pretty unhappy in the long run."
Jeff looks down at his feet, kicking at invisible rocks while he thinks. "You know I'm probably way more into her than she's into me."
"Oh, you definitely are."
He smirks at her. "How do you suppose that happened."
"I'm not sure. That debate kiss was kind of a sneak attack."
"Yeah. She's like a romance ninja."
They stand in silence for what seems like an eternity before Jeff finally looks up and says, "So, what now?"
Britta just smiles. "We need to hatch a scheme."