It's awkward, having Britta at her apartment. That's right, Annie Edison has her very own grown-up apartment now. After her whole "living in the moment" revelation, it didn't feel right to go back to her parents' house. She was a Grown-Up Person now, and it was time for her to strike out on her own. Luckily, she had been saving her pennies since her Bat mitzvah, and she had a ton of money still set aside for the private Ivy League college she thought she'd be attending by now, so affording the rent for her small one-bedroom wasn't a problem. Of course, it was also nice to have her own place now that she was one half of a secret relationship.
After their spontaneous make out session at the Tranny Dance, Jeff and Annie awkwardly excused each other and then spent the next week trying to convince themselves it didn't happen. Annie broke down first, sending Jeff a text that read, simply, 'Can we talk?' They met at his (downgraded) condo, and spent about five minutes agreeing that the kiss was just a mistake and the next thirty minutes making out on Jeff's couch.
So, they decided that the kiss was clearly not a mistake and agreed to give things a shot, but only in secret. If it turned out to be a disaster, no one had to know and they could begin year two at Greendale with no one the wiser, no awkward conversations with exes, no inappropriate comments from Pierce. If it worked out, well, then they had a few months to come up with the most delicate way to inform Britta and the others.
In any case, Annie had spent all afternoon de-Wingering her apartment to prepare for that evening. The jacket and sneakers he left at her place that one time were tucked away in the back corner of the hall closet. His toothbrush, razor, and various skin and hair products (of which there was an obscene amount) went into the back of the vanity. All things clearly un-Annie—assorted DVDs (Die Hard), books (crime novels), and food items (does scotch count as a food?)—were packed away in a storage bin.
Why the need for the de-Wingering? Because today was Shirley's birthday (August 6th), and she didn't have too many friends left after the divorce so Annie and Britta came to the rescue. When asked what she wanted to do for her birthday, Shirley decided on something college-y: a girls' slumber party. It was decided that the party should happen at Annie's place, because Shirley's sister was watching the kids at her house and Britta claimed that her place was too much of a mess to fit more than one person and still meet fire codes.
Britta arrived a half-hour before Shirley to help Annie set things up. Britta being Britta, she brought along with her a half a dozen bottles of liquor and an 18-pack of Sam Adams. Annie being Annie, there were handmade decorations to be hung everywhere and a three-layer cake to frost. Annie managed to deflect Britta's friendly questions about what she'd been up to this summer with vague answers like, "Oh, it's been really laid back" and "You know, just fixing up the apartment."
Shirley arrived right on time, oohing and ahhing appropriately over the décor. They did some catching up, ate some dinner, enjoyed the cake. Britta kept her cynical comments to a minimum when they did face peels and pedicures. She even watched the first Sex and the City movie without too many remarks on the faux feminist messages of the film. Then came the alcohol. Britta taught them the rules to several drinking games, some of which Annie believed she made up on the spot. Shirley agreed to turn off her mom-reflex for the evening and ignore the fact that Annie was underage.
It was nearly one in the morning when Shirley decided that they couldn't go to sleep before they engaged in one more sleepover tradition.
"Truth or Dare? Really?" Britta asked.
Annie shot Britta a warning look.
"I mean, Truth or Dare! Sounds great!" she amended.
Shirley clapped excitedly. The girls settled themselves into their makeshift beds (all three were sleeping in the living room tonight) and Shirley laid out the rules.
"When it's your turn, you can pick anyone you'd like and they choose truth or dare. If they choose dare, then you can give them any challenge that doesn't involve leaving this apartment building. If they choose truth, then you can ask them anything, nothing is off limits. If you catch them lying, or at least not giving the whole truth, then they have to accept two dares as punishment."
She seemed especially gleeful about that last bit, which made Annie a little uneasy. In her experience, slumber party games were nothing more than an excuse for the popular girls to embarrass you in front of the boys you like and put your underwear in the freezer.
"I'll go first!" Shirley chirped. "Britta! Truth or dare?"
"Truth," she replied fearlessly.
An unsettling smirk crept onto Shirley's face.
"What was sex with Jeff like?"
Annie made a very quiet but very high pitched involuntary noise. It was somewhere between a gasp and a tiny, tiny scream. The girls stared at her, alarmed.
"Oh, Annie, if this type of question shocks you, you're really in for it!" Shirley giggled.
"No, I'm fine. I just got a chill," Annie replied lamely.
This seemed to be enough for the girls, because they quickly turned back to the game.
"All right, the truth?" Britta asked.
"Of course. With details, please," Shirley insisted.
"Well, it wasn't exactly soft and romantic; it was more of an in and out sort of situation," she said, smirking back.
"Well, aren't they all, when you think about it?" she quipped.
Annie suddenly felt ill. After dating for two months, seeing each other every day, she and Jeff had finally taken the big plunge, so to speak, last week. Jeff had been so patient, so careful not to rush her into anything. Occasionally, on nights he stayed over, she heard him groan when he had to pull away from her and slide over to his side of the bed, but he never complained, never pressured her.
On their two-month anniversary, Annie told him that she was ready. He didn't do cartwheels or call his buddies to share the good news or write a celebratory song (that last one had happened to her before. Guess who?). Instead he reached out, took her hands in his, and asked, "Are you sure?"
That night was soft and romantic. It was beautiful and unrushed and it meant everything. It still left wonderful fluttery feelings in her stomach when she thought back to it, and she didn't need visions of his rough paintball sex with Britta mixing in there and screwing things up!
Shirley, unaware of Annie's inner turmoil, 'Oh!'ed and motioned for Britta to continue.
"Well, he's definitely not a 'wham bam thank you ma'am' kind of guy. He was generous," Britta said, her cheeks coloring the tiniest bit.
"It was fun. It was the kind of sex that you can laugh during without the guy getting all paranoid about the size of his dong," she added, rolling her eyes.
"Speaking of?" Shirley prompted.
"Oh, no complaints there," Britta assured her with a laugh.
"So whose turn is it to pick next? Mine or Britta's?" Annie blurted out.
"Um, mine I think?" Britta ventured.
Shirley seemed a little put out that she wouldn't be getting any more details, but nodded.
"Okayyyy, Annie! Truth or dare?" Britta asked.
There was a pause as Britta contemplated her question.
"Any new love interests in your life since your breakup with Vaughn?"
Annie felt the color drain from her face, but did her best to mask it immediately.
"Um, I'm not really looking for anything right now," she hedged.
"Reeeeally? I find it very hard to believe that you use 'Degree Men Ultra Clear' deodorant. Care to explain why that's in your medicine cabinet?" Britt asked.
Annie felt her stomach drop to her toes. She'd been so meticulous in her de-Wingering! How could she forget his deodorant?
"And we both know that Vaughn only uses deodorant that he makes himself from cornstarch and baking soda, because he says that the aluminum in commercial deodorants is a neurotoxin that will kill you. So it's not leftover from him," Britta continued.
"Care to adjust your answer?" Shirley offered, grinning from ear to ear.
"What were you doing in my medicine cabinet?" Annie whined.
Britta threw her hands up into the air.
"I'm a snoop; so sue me. Answer the question."
Annie paused. Then her shoulders slumped.
"Give me my dares," she muttered.
"Wow. So this is a secret relationship," Britta teased, intrigued.
Shirley giggled, but they let it go. The girls promised to let Annie keep her secret so that if she chose truth again, she would not be forced to answer the same question, and gave her an appropriate punishment.
And that was how Annie flashed a group of drunk college kids passing in front of her window and downed a shot of maple syrup from the fridge.
The game became considerably less tense after a rocky start. It helped that they began the tradition of doing a shot after each round.
Round Two: Britta was dared to recreate her teapot tap dance, to the delight of Annie and Shirley. Shirley shared that she was sixteen for her first kiss and when the boy tried to stick his tongue in her mouth, she bit him. Annie admitted to cheating on a math test in the third grade.
(shot of Jack Daniels)
Round Three: Britta made an obscene phone call to Dean Pelton that involved the phrase, 'I want you to lick my spots while I wag my tail.' Shirley admitted that the worst CD in her music collection was Milli Vanilli. Annie confessed that she only waited two weeks to have sex with Vaughn after he wrote her "Annie's Song" and it was about a million times better than it was with her first boyfriend.
(shot of apricot Schnapps)
Round Four: Britta took off her bra and snapped it around her chin to wear as a hat. Shirley ran down to the lobby, accosted a random stranger, told him that he was the man she'd been waiting for, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Annie made out with a pillow for sixty seconds.
(shot of Southern Comfort):
Round Five: Britta admitted to having attended not one, but two Backstreet Boys concerts. Shirley did a surprisingly good Kickpuncher impersonation, complete with a dramatic death scene. Annie sang a Ke$ha at the top of her lungs, with Britta and Shirley collapsing in giggles when she got to, 'Po-po shut us dowwwwn.'
(shot of tequila)
They were beginning Round Six. It was Shirley's turn to choose again.
"Britta. Truth or dare."
"Truth," Britta said boldly.
"Have you talked to Jeff since you told him you loved him?" she asked, somewhat solemnly.
Britta seemed taken aback by the serious question. She put down her beer and looked down at her hands for a moment.
"You can just take two dares," Annie murmured kindly.
"No, s'all right," Britta assured them, her words mixing together only slightly. "I feel like that whole night happened in some kind of bizarro world. Like no one was really being themselves, but especially me. I mean, I got all dolled up and tried to win a sash that said 'Tranny Queen' for god's sake! And then Slater just had me so twisted up in knots and when I saw Jeff kissing her I just snapped and went, like, a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction."
She paused, taking a deep breath.
"I mean, I care for Jeff, and I always sort of thought that maybe, in a few years, once he had grown up a little more, maybe we could have something real. But paintball sex sort of prematurely fast-forwarded things and I guess that maybe I didn't really love him so much as I didn't want to eliminate the possibility of something in the future. But then Slater was there about to ruin it all and I just panicked."
"But in any case, no. Jeff never called and I certainly wasn't going to break down and call him. So he's basically the biggest douche bag on the planet, because even though I acted like a crazy person, we're still friends and he owes me at least a cup of coffee and an apology for the 'I'm flattered' comment."
And as hard as it was to take someone wearing a bra for a hat seriously, Annie felt her heart sink. She and Jeff had talked about how to broach the subject with Britta, but he seemed to feel like avoiding her completely was the best possible tactic. He believed, much as Britta had just admitted, that Britta would regret her declaration and that she hadn't really meant it, and that the entire situation would be easier to laugh off without a big, serious talk.
"All right. Annie, truth or dare?"
Annie snapped out of her reverie and turned to Britta.
"Dare," she decided.
"Okay, we need to get Jeff back. I want you to call him, right now, on speakerphone, and tell him that you love him," Britta schemed.
"What?" Annie squealed. She was drunk at this point, sure, but not too drunk to realize that this was a bad idea.
"Come on! Solidarity, sister! We need to freak him out! Have one more girl randomly declare her love for him and see if he panics like a little girl again," Britta urged.
Annie turned her begging eyes on Shirley, who would certainly exercise some understanding in this case.
"You guys, I don't think—"
"Come on, Edison. We have a man to torment!" Shirley ordered.
Then Annie realized that Shirley's wounded-ex-wife persona had come out to play and there was no salvation there.
Her heart was pounding. Her fingertips were suddenly numb and useless when she attempted to pull her cell phone from her pocket. This was such a bad, bad, horrible, awful decision, but in her alcohol-addled brain, Annie could come up with no alternative. A dare was a dare. There was no way out.
Speakerphone activated, she pressed speed dial number 2 and tried to keep herself from hyperventilating.
"Hello?" came a very gruff voice.
"Jeff?" Annie asked.
"Do you have any idea what time it is?"
He sounded bewildered.
"Um… two a.m.?" she guessed.
"Try four," he corrected, starting to sound a little more human.
There was a pause.
"You're druuuuunk," he said in a singsong voice. She could tell he was smiling.
"Jus' a little," Annie slurred.
"Right. And I'm just a little handsome," he replied.
Britta let out an irritated huff of air, and Shirley shhhed her.
"How's the birthday bash going? Anyone's panties get put in the freezer yet? Pillow fights that turn into more? I need to know. Pierce has a Twitter feed to update."
Annie blushed. Britta rolled her eyes. Shirley held up a finger indicating for Annie to wait and started scribbling frantically on the back of a J. Crew catalogue. She held it up for Annie to read.
"Um, no. The girls had to go home early. There was a problem with Shirley's sitter," she read.
"Such a disappointment," he concluded.
"Hey, listen. I need to tell you something," Annie said.
Her heart was literally going to puncture a hole in her rib cage and escape. She was certain to be a case for the medical journals. Britta and Shirley had to contain their squeals of anticipation. They grinned at each other.
"Okay," he said, still with a hint of a smile in his voice.
"Jeff, I..." she trailed off nervously.
"What is it?" he asked, this time with a note of concern.
Annie pulled the phone away and turned desperately to the girls.
"No, wait, I can't do this. Seriously, I can't do this," she repeated.
"Shhh!" they commanded, motioning for her to go back to the call.
"Annie, what's going on?" Jeff called out.
"There are things you don't know. And this would mess it all up. And I'm all for solidarity, but not this," Annie pleaded.
The girls shook their heads. Britta mouthed, 'It's not a big deal.' Shirley mouthed, 'Just do it! Quick like a band-aid!'
"Annie, are you okay?" Jeff shouted.
"I'm fine," she said miserably, pulling the phone closer again.
"Um… Jeff. I love you," she blurted out.
"What?" he asked.
He sounded completely shocked.
Britta and Shirley barely covered their squeals this time.
"I'm in love with you," Annie said, firmly this time.
Annie felt sick. Britta grabbed the J. Crew catalogue and scribbled something of her own. She held it up.
"And this isn't just a drunk dial, or BCI, or whatever. This is real," Annie read dejectedly.
She heard him exhale deeply.
"I really wish you weren't slurring your words while you were telling me this," he said.
She bit her lip. She could feel the tears forming in the corners of her eyes. This was all wrong.
"Me too," she whispered.
Britta and Shirley paused in their merriment, confused at the shift in tone.
"Okay," Jeff started, taking another deep breath. "You're not going to remember this in the morning, so we can both take consolation in the fact that we'll be able to redo this later, but… I love you too."
"You do?" Annie asked anxiously, desperation and relief mixing into one as she tried to process everything that was happening.
Britta and Shirley were now staring, open-mouthed at the cell phone, as if it was Jeff himself.
"Yeah. Don't freak out," he said.
Annie, oblivious now to anything but Jeff, continued.
"Is it just because we finally had sex?" she asked uncertainly.
"What? NO. Of course not!" Jeff insisted.
"WHAT?" Britta shouted.
Shirley fell off the couch.
"Who was that?" Jeff asked.
Annie suddenly remembered her surroundings.
"Oh crap. Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no," she ranted mindlessly.
"What's wrong? Annie? Are you okay?" Jeff asked.
Annie looked helplessly at Britta, then at Shirley.
"Please don't be mad at me! Don't put my head through a jukebox!"
"What the hell's going on? Why would I be mad at you?" Jeff asked franticly.
Panicked, Annie clicked, 'End' and snapped her phone shut.
"The deodorant," Britta uttered, still in shock.
"When did this happen? Why? HOW?" Shirley demanded, righting herself.
Annie was trying desperately to breath and it took her a few tries before she could form a reply.
"After the Tranny Dance when Vaughn dropped me back off at school… Jeff and I sort of kissed," she squeaked.
"WHAT?" the other two ladies chorused.
"And then we tried to move on from it and pretend it didn't happen, but it just didn't work. We're sort of been seeing each other for a while," Annie said quickly, hoping to get it all over with as soon as possible.
"Rewind, girl scout, did you just say that you made out with Jeff right after I told him I loved him?" Britta asked.
"Did I mention I'm sorry?" Annie attempted.
"Oh, Annie. First Vaughn and now Jeff?" Shirley gently scolded.
"Didn't Britta just say she doesn't really love Jeff?" Annie pointed out.
"Do not try to get out of this one, Gidget," Britta snapped. "Annie, let me tell you a little something about the sisterhood…"
Britta started ranting sociologically about the nature of female solidarity and conflict over men, but Annie completely tuned out. All she could think about was Jeff and how horrible she'd been to do that to him, and how disappointed he was going to be in her. Britta was halfway through a metaphor involving bonobo monkeys when Annie burst forth with a pathetic moan.
"I can't believe that's how I told him I loved him. He's gonna hate me!" she wailed.
Shirley seemed surprised by the outburst. Britta merely looked annoyed.
"Clearly not. He told you he loved you," she said impatiently.
"And then I hung up on him," Annie groaned. "And when he finds out it was on a dare, it won't even matter that it's…"
She stopped talking, preferring to curl up in a little ball of angst on her comforter and bury her face in her pillow.
"It's true? You really love him?" Shirley asked softly.
Annie nodded into the pillow.
"I don't know what I'll do if he breaks up with me!" she cried, but it was mostly muffled by down stuffing.
Shirley looked at Britta and gave her the saddest face possible, complete with trembling big lip. Britta mouthed, 'Absolutely not!' and mimed Annie and Jeff making out with a disgusting amount of tongue. Shirley tried again, pointing to Annie and mouthing, 'She's in love!' Britta scowled, but looked at Annie. She scrunched her eyes shut and gritted her teeth. Then, letting out an aggravated grunt, she spoke.
"Okay, I'm going to be the bigger person here, but if you start dating my next ex-boyfriend, Annie, I swear to god…"
She trailed off without finishing her statement, and Annie looked up at her, eyes red, skin blotchy, expression absolutely miserable.
"Thanks, Britta," she whimpered.
Britta sighed and nodded.
Away went the alcohol, and the girls all crowded onto Annie's sofa, Annie in the middle as she cried and told them all about the last two months with Jeff. Shirley gently shifted so that Annie's head was on her shoulder and began to stroke her hair. Britta clasped her left hand while supplying her right hand with tissues as needed. It was one way to sober up really quickly.
"I'm so sorry I ruined your birthday, Shirley!" Annie said, once the tears had finally stopped flowing.
Shirley patted her on the arm.
"Don't be silly. I wanted a typical college-y slumber party, and I'm pretty sure that girls fighting over the same man followed by tears fits the bill."
Annie laughed, but it sounded almost like a sob. Britta peeked at Shirley over Annie's head and arched an eyebrow. Shirley shook her head, but Britta nodded determinedly.
"Annie, I hate to state the obvious here, but Jeff is like… at least fifteen years older than you," she said pointedly.
Annie sniffled and sat up, lifting her head from Shirley's shoulder.
"Vaughn was ten years older than me, and my mom hated him. She likes Jeff," Annie countered.
"Wait, Jeff has met your parents? Just how secret is this secret relationship?" Britta asked.
Annie swallowed hard, but didn't reply.
"This is serious," Shirley said, the realization dawning on her suddenly.
"Wow. I wonder if Abed saw this coming," Britta mused.
There was a noise. Someone was fiddling with the front door. They heard it swing open, and then—
"Annie? Are you here? Are you okay?"
It was Jeff. Annie's eyes grew to the size of saucers as she realized what he was about to walk in on.
"Yes! Jeff, hold on. I have to tell you—"
She struggled to her feet and rushed toward the hallway, but just as she got up, he rounded the corner. It would have been comical, if not for the events of earlier that night. His mouth fell open and his eyes matched Annie's.
"Whoa, hello!" he exclaimed.
He smiled nervously at Shirley and Britta and bumbled for an explanation.
"This, me coming over at four-thirty in the morning, may seem odd, but Annie told me she's an early riser and she needed some help with her… plumbing! So I was just coming over to take a—hey, Annie, where did you say that leaky pipe was? In the kitchen? I'll just show myself…"
He puttered off to the kitchen, but Britta's voice stopped him.
"Jeff, we know," she said flatly.
"Know… about the plumbing?" he attempted. "Good, maybe you can lend a hand later. Shirley, glad to see you got that whole sitter problem taken care of. Party on, ladies! I'll just be doing manly things in the kitchen."
He took another step when Shirley spoke.
"We know about you and Annie."
Jeff froze. For a few seconds, he did nothing. Then, slowly, he turned towards Annie, asking with his eyes if it was true. Annie mouthed, 'I'm sorry' and nodded sadly.
"Uh huh. And?" Jeff asked cautiously.
"We've accepted it," Britta said matter-of-factly.
Jeff gave her a skeptical look.
Britta scowled at him. Shirley followed suit. They unleashed their fury at the exact same moment.
"But you're still the biggest jerk on the—"
"I can't believe you took up with a nineteen-year—"
"You never even called—"
"You better not be doing any acts that aren't condoned in—"
"And then you're sucking face with one of my best friends immediately after—"
"Guys! Guys, please don't yell at Jeff!" Annie entreated, stepping in between her boyfriend and his attackers.
"I thought you'd accepted it!" Jeff yelped.
"We accept Annie's part in all of this. You're not off the hook yet," Britta snapped.
"Okay. Look, I totally get it. I acted like a huge ass, and I will gladly take the wrath of Khan and Khan's friend, but… can it be another day? Annie and I sort of have something to talk about," Jeff implored them.
"Oh! Oh sure! Of course," Shirley said, abruptly getting up from the couch.
Britta was still seated, glaring determinedly at Jeff. Shirley cleared her throat, and gave Britta's arm a little tug. With a noise that sounded suspiciously like a growl, Britta acquiesced.
"We'll just come by for our things tomorrow, Annie," Shirley said, still pulling Britta along beside her.
They paused in the hallway to slip on their shoes, and Annie approached them, Jeff trailing behind her.
"Thanks for coming you guys. I'm sorry things took such a bad turn," she said sincerely.
"Like I said, don't worry about it, sweetie," Shirley reassured her.
"Oh, by the way, happy birthday, Shirley," Jeff remarked.
"Thanks!" Shirley replied.
"Britta? I'm sorry," Jeff said.
Britta grunted noncommittally.
"Also," Jeff added. "Nice hat."
Eyes wide, Britta reached up to her scalp, which was still covered by her bra. She snatched it from her head squeezed her eyes shut.
"Damn it. I'm never playing Truth or Dare again," she muttered.
Shirley turned and gave Annie one last wave and the two headed down the hall and out the door. As the door slid shut, Jeff turned to Annie.
"Truth or dare?" he asked.
Annie rushed to clear things up.
"Is that what that was? A dare?" he interrupted, confused and hurt at the same time.
"No!" Annie insisted. "I mean yes, but I meant it."
Jeff sighed. He shook his head slightly.
Annie grabbed hold of his hands and he fell silent.
"No, don't do this," she demanded. "Don't say that I'm too young and immature and I don't know what love really is and you have to break up with me. Don't."
Jeff opened his mouth, then closed it again, unable to come up with a reply.
"I've felt it for a long time, but I was too afraid to say it because I thought it would freak you out. And then I was drunk and there was this pressure, and I just did it. But I meant it, Jeff," she continued, an edge of desperation in her voice.
She gave him an uncertain look.
"Did you mean it?" she asked.
He looked at her with an expression she couldn't completely identify. Then, without saying a word, he took her face into his hands and kissed her. She was confused for all of two seconds. Then overwhelming relief rushed through her whole body and she melted into the kiss. His hands were buried in her hair and hers were clutching at his shoulders, dragging him closer.
When they broke apart for air he inhaled deeply.
"Yeah, I meant it," he said.
She couldn't help the huge smile that spread across her face or the tears the gathered in her eyes. She slipped her arms around him again, but instead of going in for another kiss, she just rested her head on his chest and sighed. He brought his arms around her and gently stroked her back. She contented herself with listening to his breathing. They stood like that for a couple of minutes.
"So you're sure there were no sexy pillow fights?" he asked.
She felt his voice rumbling against his chest, and she smiled into his shirt.
"No, but that can be arranged now, if you'd like," she offered.
His arms tightened around her.
"Let's just skip the pillow fight part, okay?" he suggested.
She snorted, and he slipped his arms down so that he hands were on her hips. Suddenly she was hoisted up and over his shoulder in a fireman's hold. She guffawed as he ran them down the hall to her bedroom. The giggles didn't stop when he plopped her down on the bed. When he kissed her again, however, she fell silent, but smiled against his lips.
He pulled back and looked down at her, and Annie had no doubt in her mind that this was a man in love.
"Truth or dare?" he asked softly.
She squinted up at him, a small smile still quirked in the corner of her mouth.
His eyes lit up. He smiled and kissed her again.