Author's Notes: Things I should have been doing instead of writing this fic:
3. Cleaning my room.
But hey. Who needs real life when you have fic?
romantic expressionism, or, this is why orgies get so weird so fast
"They walked in thoughtful silence," Abed says thoughtfully with his special voice-over tone.
Troy puts his keys in the door. He's not sure what he's thinking, but he can acutely feel every inch of Abed standing behind him, lounging against the wall. "Troy fumbled with his keys, afraid of crossing this line and afraid of not crossing it."
"It's not thoughtful silence if you're talking," Troy grumbles, glad not for the first time that no one could tell that he was blushing.
"He found himself falling back on his old coping mechanism: sarcasm. It fortified the walls around his heart and kept him from being hurt."
Troy turns around. Abed's got his hands folded in front of him like the frame of a camera. His expression is flat except for slightly raised eyebrows. "I'm fortifying my walls," Troy says. "My walls don't need fortifying. They're silver-bronze-gold-titanium walls that are resistant to bullets. And lasers. And nuclear bombs."
Abed's hand zooms in on his eyes. "He wasn't sure if he was ready to surrender himself to anyone. He wasn't sure if he could take the risk with his best friend. How would it effect their business partnership?"
Troy gets it: Abed is joking. Sometimes he misses it, since Abed joking and Abed being serious is only separated by half a degree.
"Abed," Troy laughs exasperatedly, batting Abed's hand away from his face. "What did we talk about, with the voice overs thing? Save it for Kick Puncher III."
They go inside and don't make out. Troy blames the weird moment on Jeff. And on Abed's wiggly eyebrows.
Pierce emails her three times between the Group Sex Talk and dinner. She lets herself read them, if only out of morbid curiosity, and finds out that he wasn't kidding about being oddly specific.
It's odd because he's being specific about her feet.
Shirley hasn't given much thought to her feet over the years, but as she reads the three separate missives on the beauty and glory of them, she finds herself kind of smiling.
Then she gets to the post-script at the end of the third, where he outlines how he wants to shove cookie dough between her toes and then lick it out, and promptly sends him to the Trash where he belongs.
Annie shares a car with the rest of her family, because back when she first got addicted to Adderol she crashed the Honda that her grandmother had given her for her sixteenth birthday. Sometimes her Mom has to stay at work late, so usually Annie kills time in the library reading or studying or sometimes doodling pictures of flowers on the inside flap of her notebooks.
It's a beautiful day, though, which Annie notices because Vaughn has been teaching her to really see nature, so she sits outside on the curb instead.
"Need a lift?"
Annie looks up: Britta has one arm hanging out the window, a cigarette dangling loosely from her fingers, and there's low, angry music playing softly on the radio. It's probably Alanis Morisette, but that's just because she's the angriest singer Annie knows. Annie doesn't really like angry music; she prefers music that makes you smile.
And okay, she kind of has a secret love for Demi Lovato, because she's far more talented then Miley Cyrus and Miley Cyrus still gets all the fame. Which is totally unfair. Annie's well aware of how badly she would get teased if people knew she liked Disney Channel Stars, but they bring wholesome joy to the world, and anyway, it's the only kind of music her mother allows in the house, besides Beethoven, because she thinks it corrupts.
Annie's not sure about that, but then again, she did get herself addicted to Adderol, so maybe she isn't the expert on corrupting influences.
Annie swivels her head reflexively, looking for the other, cooler person that Britta is probably talking to, and when she realizes that it's her, she can't help but beam. Annie has never been good at hiding her emotions.
"Yeah! That would be great!"
She sits in the backseat out of habit and is grateful when Britta doesn't say anything, though she's pretty sure she can see her smiling in the rearview mirror.
When they get to her house, Britta gets out of the car and pulls Annie into a kind of awkward, but well-meaning, hug. Annie secretly hopes that someone can see them, because it's totally good for Annie's image to be seen with someone as angry as Britta. "I'm sorry about the Vaughn thing."
They're standing too close, and Britta smells like raspberries. She's like all the girls in high school who went to parties and dated football players. And got pregnant. And wrote Annie Adderol on bathroom stalls.
"It's okay," Annie says with a nervous laugh. "I'm sorry too."
Britta's hand kind of hovers on her arm and then she shrugs, lighting up another cigarette and getting back into the car. Annie's pretty sure that she watches her walk to the front door, but when she turns around the car is pulling away.
"I'm just saying," Abed tells him matter-of-factly over a bag of Kettlecorn and some Peanut M&Ms, "if I were into dudes and you didn't look so much like Ryan Seacrest, I'd be totally into you."
Jeff keeps his eyes pinned on the television. He'd like to say this is the weirdest conversation he's ever bad, but, well. He goes to Greendale.
He's not quite sure how to respond, but he finally settles on, "That… means a lot, Abed," and takes a sip of soda.
"And if Troy weren't my best friend, you'd be the runner-up candidate," Abed adds thoughtfully. He pats Jeff's arm consolingly. "You have the makings of a great friend and lover, Jeff. We're just in different places right now."
Jeff is … weirdly comforted by this.
A couple of weeks after the whole Vaughn fiasco, Annie sits down across from him in the cafeteria, leans over, and whispers furtively, "Do you really think my kisses are joyless?"
He chokes on his Christmas Tree-shaped cookie. "What?"
"I just want to know," she says hurriedly, "because Vaughn and I are sort of getting serious and I don't want to suck the joy out of him. I mean, I want to make him joyful, not joyless, and you've kissed a lot of people, so I - I want to know how I … um … rate."
He raises his eyebrows. "Are you calling me a slut?"
It says a lot about how much Annie's changed that she reaches across the table and pats his arm, rather than squealing and throwing her hands over her ears are the word 'slut'. "Not in a hurtful way," she says sincerely. Her hand stays on his arm.
It's then that Jeff realizes how close their faces are, and the way that Annie's mouth sort of… curls when she smiles, the flush pink of it bright against her pale skin. And her hair is soft, that is, it looks soft, and shiny, and she's been wearing it down more and more since the debate. He likes it.
He likes that she knows he likes it and sometimes smiles shyly at him and asks if he still thinks it looks better this way, and please be honest, and she's worried it makes her head look square.
He shakes his head and sits back against his chair. He might be going to hell for having these kind of thoughts about an eighteen-year-old. He never bothered reading Dante, but he Spark Noted it once so he knows there's special circles for the freaks.
Annie blinks at her with those doe eyes. The expression on her face should be illegal: even if Jeff hated her with ever fiber of his being, he's pretty sure he wouldn't be able to hurt her feelings when she's looking at him like that.
"Annie," he says sincerely, "kissing you made my day."
It's a little heavy on the cheese, but Annie's naive enough not to notice and flushes a bright, pleased red. She pats her hair self-consciously and smiles, so brightly that Jeff's actually sure that the room gets lighter.
"Thanks," she mumbles, and then leans back against her chair and sits with him until he's finished eating.
He breaks apart his cookie and gives her half.