Week Nine:

"It was only a week! How did I forget this much in a week?" Jeff complained after class on Monday.

"Tell me about it," Troy agreed. "What was she even saying at the end of class? Though I'm not sure I want to know since I'm pretty sure it was something about writing a paper."

The group glanced at Annie. "We're supposed to write a 3-page paper on the life of a famous Deaf person. It's due next Friday."

"That's ridiculous. And since when does she give assignments in sign language, anyway? Seems a little risky."

"Maybe it's a way to assess how everyone is doing. You know, so if you're not really paying attention and applying yourself, you won't even know about the assignment. Thus, motivation for keeping up in the future."

"Man, that's kinda cold," Troy said.

"Well, I don't know why. It was just a guess."

Annie's theory was disproven on Wednesday when Ms. Granger handed out a sheet of paper detailing the assignment as well as a list of potential subjects. At study group that night, they discussed who they had chosen for the papers. (Annie had told them all in no uncertain times that they were to have someone picked out by then. And when Annie gets formidable, people tend to listen.)

"I went for classic and picked Beethoven," Annie started. "What about you, Shirley?"

"Helen Keller."


"Marlee Matlin. Abed showed me how to look her up on my podphone, and that one's definitely worth investigating, if you know what I mean."

"…Ohkayy. Anyway. Troy?"

"Lou Ferrigno. That guy was a badass."


"C.J. Jones."


"Laura C. Redden Searing."

"Jeff?" She did not look directly at him when she asked this, instead focusing on her notebook.

"Curtis Pride."

"Great choices, everyone!" Annie exclaimed with that bright smile of hers, and Jeff half expected her to whip out some gold star stickers from her backpack.

No, that wasn't sarcasm. She had actually done it just a few weeks before, when everyone had shown that they could each fingerspell their name in less than 5 seconds.

She really could be annoyingly endearing sometimes.

Week Ten:

Annie had been kind of icy toward him all of the last week, but it seemed she'd had a change of heart over the weekend. She seemed to be back to normal.

This was both good and bad.

Good because Jeff no longer felt like a pile of steaming dog crap when she was around.

Bad because he no longer felt like a pile of steaming dog crap, and instead went back to feeling things that were inappropriate because she was Annie and she was nineteen and he really needed to get some more reasons to add to this list.

Like the fact that her father would kill him.

The group would accuse him of taking advantage of her.

She was too young to know what she wanted. Really, how long did it take her to bounce from Troy to him?

It was just a passing infatuation, the lure of the forbidden. If they ever got into a real relationship, it would fizzle within a month. Cue intense awkwardness and impending break-up of the group. Break-up meaning that Jeff would find himself kicked to the curb as the group comforted the heartbroken Annie.

Now that Jeff had made the list, he expected some relief. There it was. He and Annie could never be together, and he had never been the pining type. Ergo, he should feel better.

Somehow, though, the stupid list just made him feel worse.

Week Eleven:

"Today, we are going to experience tactile sign language. I want you to pair up with your usual partner. Whoever's closest to me is a 1, the other a 2. Ones go first. While the twos hold out their dominant hand and close their eyes, you will sign the alphabet into the palm of their outstretched hand. Again "feelers", remember that your eyes need to be closed the entire time for the full effect. You may proceed."

Jeff really should be used to this whole 'partner' thing by now. He had even been so desperate enough to try to convince Ms. Granger to switch the partners around so he could be with someone else. She had refused. Thankfully, he had managed to talk her out of the two-page paper she had tried to force on him about manipulation and respecting your teachers after he'd asked. So at least he still had some lawyerly skills left in him.

Soon enough, they were starting the exercise. Jeff closed his eyes, felt Annie's hand cradle against his own with the beginning 'A'. They slid up farther as she transferred to 'B'.

The nerve endings in his palm felt alive like never before, exhilaratingly aware of her every movement.

Jeff waged in a quick mental battle. Give in to the urge to focus every bit of his attention on the delicate hand in his, or try like the devil to force his mind elsewhere.

Jeff thought that he should probably try to ignore her. He was responding so much already, he was not sure he would be able to control his actions. Just look at what happened during the debate kiss. Clearly, an audience did not factor in when Jeff Winger had a hormonal meltdown.

And the problem was that Jeff never seemed to have said meltdowns unless he was in the presence of one Annie Edison.

Jeff compromised and decided he would pay attention to her hand, but concentrate on trying to figure out where she was in the alphabet, rather than the sensations those movements were causing.

Seriously, where was she? Was that an 'O' already? Surely not.

Then, a few seconds later, she traced the unmistakable rounded loop of a 'J' into his palm, her pinkie nail scraping oh-so-delicately across his skin.

One clinched fist, two layers of teeth enamel ground to dust, and seven mental bottles of beer on the wall (that were taken down and passed around) later:


Jeff cleared his throat, keeping his eyes firmly shut. "Are you done?"

"Yep. Your turn! And you can open your eyes now; only the feeler has to have them shut."

"Right," Jeff said, pretending to be surprised. He let his eyes open, happy to see that Annie had already closed hers.

"Here we go," he said, unnecessarily, as she reached out blindly, groping for the hand he had not yet extended.

Taking a breath, he reached out and met her in the middle, palm to palm, not bothering with letters yet. He promptly shut his eyes again. If she was as affected by this as he had been, he sure as hell did not want to see the evidence of that. If he didn't see it, he could pretend it wasn't even there at all.

God, but her hands were tiny. The tips of her fingers barely reached his second knuckles.

Okay. Alphabet.

….Shit. What was 'A', again? He mentally flashed to Annie fingerspelling her name.


Get it together, Winger.

He made it through the rest of the alphabet without incident. Then, against all the flashing red WARNING signs and alarms going off in his head, Jeff sneaked a peak as he finally traced the zig-zag pattern of the 'Z' across her palm.

Annie was standing before him, arm outstretched. Her face was flushed a delicate shade of pink, and her lips were just barely parted. She was breathing deeply.

When she opened her eyes, her gaze was unfocused and smoky. Her tongue snaked out and ran along her lower lip.

His little Annie looked as if she had just been kissed. Thoroughly. It was easily one of the most erotic things he had ever seen.

Reactions ensued that had Jeff mumbling some excuse in a voice he had only heard himself use once before ("Oh, I can get another one!") and getting the hell out of that room.

A few minutes later, Jeff decided he was going to have to take some drastic measures to get her out of his head.

Avoidance, obviously, as much as possible.

And he really needed to get laid.

Week Twelve:

"Okay, group, join up with your normal partners! We're going to start today by having a completely unscripted five minute chat with your partner. I'll walk around the room, observe, and tell you when the time is up. Just act like I'm not here. And, go!"

Hi. Annie said, waving.


How are you today?

Good. How are you?

Fine, thank you. Annie returned, smiling up at him.

Right. The plan.

Tell the group I can't go with them tonight. Jeff signed, with only a couple awkward pauses.

Annie's eyebrows scrunched down. Why?


She seemed to draw into herself a little at that. O-H, she fingerspelled. Why me? Can't you?

…Good question.

I have D-E-N-T-I-S-T after class. (A lie.)


And, cue awkward lull.

Finally, she asked for his name, and they fake introduced themselves and had a textbook conversation until Ms. Granger said that time was up.

Week Thirteen:

"Oh, so now all of you appreciate my camcorder. I see how it is," Annie cheerfully teased the group as Jeff entered the room and lowered himself into his usual chair.

"Nice of you to join us," Britta said with raised eyebrows and a pointed glance at her watch.

"I had some stuff."


"Yep, stuff. So, are we going to get to studying or what?" Jeff glanced around, but avoided looking at Annie.

"We were just discussing the video part of the final," Britta replied. "You know, how we have to turn in a video of ourselves signing a short story next Friday?"


"Well, we decided we could do it during study group on Monday," Shirley jumped in. "You know, give each other pointers and feedback, then record all of them at the end. We were going to use Abed's film class equipment, but that's not allowed. So Annie volunteered her camcorder."

"Good idea." He glanced over and gave Annie a perfunctory smile, then immediately turned away.

"Okay, guys, we have a quiz over Unit 7 tomorrow, so we should probably go over the vocab list…"

Jeff went through the rest of the night on autopilot, ignoring Annie as much as possible. But still speaking to her on occasion so no one would notice anything wrong.

He noticed Abed staring at him, assessing, toward the end of the night.

Jeff would be glad when this particular study session was over

Week Fourteen:


Two minutes and thirty-eight seconds had gone by since he pressed Send.

Two minutes and thirty-seven seconds since he had let out a chain of expletives and smacked himself on the forehead and started a frantic search of the features on his iPhone, desperate for one of them to be "unsend" and no such luck.

'Can I come over to your place?' the text in his Inbox had read.

It was midnight on a Wednesday and study group had gotten out a little over three hours ago. Annie should have asleep in some twin sized powder pink bed with ruffles.

Instead, she was ostensibly as awake as he was, and he had just given her permission to come over. He had been staring at the television, half watching The Real Housewives of Greendale a monster truck rally.

This was not a good idea. In fact, this was the exact opposite: a very, very bad idea.

No shit, Sherlock.

This was not part of the plan.

Not that the plan had been such a rousing success, anyway. It hadn't worked the way it was supposed to. He had blown off his one date early. He still had feelings for Annie, and now he was just annoyed and snippy all the time and he was going back to the old Jeff and maybe he didn't like the old Jeff as much as the new Jeff, and most of all, he missed her. And not in an "I want to bang you" way. But in the way that she was actually his friend and he liked being around her, regardless of any inappropriate attraction he might be hiding. He didn't like avoiding her and trying to distance himself from her; frankly, it sucked.

When he opened the door ten minutes later, Jeff was surprised. Somehow, he had figured Annie would be wearing something resembling her usual outfits – skirt, flats, cardigan, little hair clippie. Instead, her hair was pulled back into a pony tail, and she was wearing dark sweatpants and a pink hoodie that said "Go, Human Beings!" across the front.


"Hi." Do not invite her in. Maybe she'll take the hint.

"Can I come in?"

"Sure." Idiot..

He opened the door wider, stepping to the side just in time to avoid bodily contact as she stepped through the doorway.

"I just thought I'd drop by," she started, as if it was perfectly normal for her to show up at his doorstep in the middle of the night.

"Any particular reason?"

"Of course, silly!" She laughed at him (albeit, a little awkwardly), continuing: "I brought your notecards for your presentation in the morning. Somehow they wound up in my backpack."

She held up said note cards after rummaging through her small handbag for a few seconds.

Jeff reached out and took them. "Thanks. You know you made a PowerPoint for me, though, so I don't actually need these, right?"

"That's not all." She said, rushed, looking at the ground.

"What is it? Are you okay?"

"Listen, Jeff. I-I know things have been a little weird between us lately. You seem…distant. And I didn't know if I had done something wrong and you were mad at me or if this was just payback for when I was mad at you after Thanksgiving, but that was a while ago, so that really didn't make sense. And I wanted to say sorry for that by the way, because you really did nothing wrong and I was just going through some things with my parents. So. Sorry."

Holy crap. She had rushed through that speech so quickly and clumsily that Jeff had to take a moment before he replied.

"Annie, I'm not mad at you. I've just been-" Jeff broke off. Okay, he could go one of three directions here.

a) Honesty: "-trying to keep my distance from you because I need to stop obsessing over this because you're too young. And all I ever want to do when I see you is pull you to the nearest janitor's closet and kiss you and do things to you that would make you moan and scream, and every day it gets harder to stay away from you."
b) Deception: "-the same as usual. Everything's fine!
c) Evasion: "-dealing with some personal issues. I didn't mean to make you worry."

As a) this was not a daytime soap opera, and b) Annie was an intelligent woman who understood him and would call him on his bullshit, Jeff went with option c).

She looked relieved, but still the smallest bit skeptical.

"Are you sure? I just want us to be friends. I don't want you to be mad at me."

"I want us to be friends, too, Annie. We are friends. As for being normal, I'm not sure that'll never happen as long as Pierce is around, but what can you do?"

She let out a small huff of laugher and looked up at him, a smile on her lips, those doe eyes of hers shining, and Jeff felt it like a punch in the gut.

(He should know. He'd taken one for her last year before winter break when the guy she'd taken on had gotten a little over zealous.)

Her eyes started to get that look and the alarm bells began clanging.

"So, was that all?" he asked, moving toward the door. Rude, maybe, but she did not need to get the idea that she was just welcome to drop by at any point in time.

"Yep. I'm glad we're good again, Jeff." Simultaneously, they stepped in for a hug – it just seemed like the perfect moment for it to finally work. Alas, it was not to be. They did that whole awkward dance thing and then stood hesitantly for a second.

Annie's mouth opened, and Jeff figured she'd say "Just pat me," in that endearing post-debate fashion. He raised his hand in preparation.

"Why are you the one who always gets to pat me?"

"What?" Jeff's hand paused half way up its (short) path to her head.

"I said, why do you get to do the patting? Because you're the guy? That's so misogynistic."

"I think you've been hanging out with Britta too much. It's because I'm older. And taller. Thus, the patting falls to me in both respects."

"Whatever, it's still not fair."

Jeff rolled his eyes. "You couldn't even reach the top of my head."

"I could, too. I'm not that short. I probably just look that way to you, Mr. Jolly Green Giant's Twin Brother."

"How tall are you?"

"Irrelevant." (Evasion, his lawyer's brain noticed.) "I could still reach the top of your head if I tried."

"Try me."

Suddenly, Annie seemed to be overwhelmed with embarrassment and determination, if the flush in her cheeks and the steely glint in her eyes were any indication.


She took a step forward and rose on tiptoe, stretching her right arm up as far as she could. Jeff caught a whiff of citrus again, and her hand rested on the side of his head. He could feel that the very tips of her fingers reached the top of his head while the heel of her hand pressed against his upper cheekbone. Sort of like a caress.

Danger, Will Robinson.

"Here, I'll make it easier for you," he said, trying for a light tone. Just hurry up and get this over with.

He bent down a few inches, inclining his head. Annie made one blindly optimistic movement where she stretched up and appeared to lengthen every muscle in her body, seemingly growing taller by sheer force of will. This movement bared a tantalizing inch of pale midriff as her hoodie rode up.

Jeff felt the breath tighten in his lungs.

Annie reached her goal, giving him a couple slow pats on the head. He waited for her to remove her arm. Slowly, she did, sliding her hand slowly down to where his shoulder and neck joined together, letting it rest there.

No, that was a caress.

Jeff looked at her. At those doe eyes, so wide and innocent, and he could tell she hadn't even meant this as a come-on in the beginning. But she didn't mind that it had turned into one.

Come to think of it, he didn't, either.

But he should.

"Annie." Christ, he sounded like he was hanging from a rope. He cleared his throat, deepening his voice for effect. "Let go."

"Okay." Her hand slid away obediently, but her feet stayed put.

She looked like she had on the night of the Tranny Dance. Seizing the moment, then waiting for his reaction. Waiting to see if he would kiss her, clearly wanting him to.

But he shouldn't. They shouldn't. It was wrongwrongwrongwrong-

The right side of her mouth turned up just the slightest bit, hopeful.

Oh, fuck it.

Jeff leaned down and captured her lips with his own.

Jeff Winger had never been a saint, never been a martyr. He had been notorious for his lack of self-sacrifice. So, really, he should be awarded some kind of medal for lasting this long.

As he moved his lips across hers and her hands came up to his torso, Jeff could feel that it was different this time. He had known it would be. Because this was not an action that could be blamed on something else and classified as a "tactic" resulting from a super-competitive streak and a desire to win a debate, or a "reaction" to emotional confusion from break-ups and sudden confessions of love.

This was just a kiss.

And God, but it was a good one.

She sighed into his mouth, something like finally, and he was moving closer, closer, closer still, until she was shoved up against the cushioned arm of his oversized couch. The hair tie was the first thing to go, flung off into the unknown as Jeff pushed his fingers through her thick, silky hair, cradling her head, angling her to just that place where they fit perfectly. He felt her body hum in approval, pressing against him in a way that no sexually repressed teenager should.

He felt her fingers inch up just underneath his shirt and lightly skim along his abdomen. Holy- He emitted something like a growl in response, deepening the kiss, his tongue delving through her lips to taste her. She was right there with him, shyly touching his tongue with her own. Somehow retaining a bit of sanity, Jeff reached down and moved her hands back up to his shoulders – if she kept pulling stunts like that, this was going to escalate a hell of a lot faster than was safe for either of them.

Jeff was drowning. He was drowning in her, and he didn't even care. He breathed in everything Annie, devoting himself to memorizing it all. The feel of her lips, the softness of her skin, the way her hair slid through his fingers, the incredible sounds she that she couldn't control when he did something that particularly affected her. When he reached down for her hips and pulled her to him, the soft moan she made in the back of her throat was so sexy he felt his reaction all the way down to his toes, not to mention other places in the southern vicinity of his body. Then she must have slid partially onto the couch because her right leg was hooked around his, and he hitched her a little farther up against him, and when she rocked the tiniest bit in response, Jeff felt like he was going to burst into flames.

When the need for oxygen became so intense that it transcended his need to feel Annie's lips beneath his own, Jeff broke the kiss and instead started kissing sporadically down her neck as he gasped air in and out like he had just run a marathon. He had a vision of her collarbone in that shirt on Thanksgiving and became obsessed with the need to see it, to taste it, to discover if it was as sensitive as it looked, and maybe she would pant or whisper his name, but her stupid hoodie was in the way, and he couldn't tug it down far enough.

He would have to pull it off.

This was the moment that reality came back into focus with a bang.


"Annie," he said, trying to sound rational and under control (when he was actually this close to tossing her down on the couch, consequences be damned), as he stepped back from her. "Annie, you should go. Shit. Sorry, I- . No, I mean-. God." He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to force some blood back up into his brain so he could formulate coherent thoughts. "It's just that-"

"I'm going," she interrupted, hopping down off his couch, grabbing her bag from where it landed on the floor, her hair tumbling down around her shoulders and framing her face. But this time, she didn't smile at him, "What do you think?", she avoided looking him at all as she beat a path to his door, mumbling "Night." as she pulled it shut behind her.

Shit., he thought again, collapsing onto the sofa.

He slapped his hand against his forehead, letting the momentum force his head back against the giant cushions, a gesture Abed had referred to before as a facepalm.

This was going to be a long night.

Week Fifteen:

"But you see, this way you'll be practicing both your ability to take in signs, as well as your ability to produce them!"

"Which is just a fancy way for saying 'more work.'"

They had pulled another "Mutual Avoidance" act, a la post-Tranny Dance, so things had been a little tense between them lately. Enough so to cause the group to comment on the issue.

So, they had come to the unspoken agreement to pretend to act normal. At least, Jeff was pretty sure they had. That had been his interpretation. So far, it seemed he'd been right.

"Jeff, this is the most efficient way to study. You don't want to flunk, do you? And retake the class on your own?"

OK. Fine.

Somehow it was a little easier to concede to her if he didn't actually say the words out loud.

Good, Annie signed back, then she moved on to the blonde at his right. You start.

Britta directed her gaze at Abed. Y-E-L-L-O-W.

Yellow., he signed back, his right hand forming a Y, then shaking a couple times.

Abed looked at Jeff. S-H-I-R-T.

Jeff signed Shirt back at him. He turned to Annie.


Dance. she signed back. H-U-G

Hug. S-T-O-P

Stop. W-H-Y

Why. Y-O-U-N-G

Young. K-I-S-S

Jeff paused. Then, Forget.





19., and as she performed the simple sign, her eyes flashed fire.


Shut up.




"Hello, you two?" Jeff was ripped out of this silent argument of sharp gestures and wire-tight tension. "Some of us haven't had a turn yet. We'd like to pass, too." Troy pointed out impatiently from the opposite end of the table.

"Yeah. Right. Sorry about that." Jeff cleared his throat, suddenly feeling the need to get out of this chair and go stretch his limbs. Go for a walk. Take a cold shower. Whatever. He needed to do something.

"What were you two saying, anyway? I got lost after 'young'," Shirley said.

"Me, too." ; "Same here." ; "I was streets behind, I'll admit it."

Abed just sat there silently. Jeff had the unfortunate feeling that he had caught every word.

Week Sixteen:

Annie cornered him an hour after the ASL final (which he felt pretty certain was high B material). She reminded him of the way she had looked commanding him to come to her La Danza De Los Muertos party the year before, all determination, failure not even a remote option.

"Jeff, we need to talk about this," she said, taking his arm and dragging him to a fairly secluded corner outside. It was cold, and Jeff watched as tiny flurries floating down from the sky and landed in her hair.

"I thought we agreed-"

"We didn't agree to anything. You decided that at avoidance would be the best option. As usual."

"You were avoiding me, too!"

"I was holding back. Seeing what you would do."

Jeff had nothing to say to that.

"So?" She waited, expectantly.

He sighed. "Have you ever seen To Catch a Predator?"

"No. But I've read Jane Eyre."

"Which was written in the time when arranged marriages were the norm. I don't think that's anything to go by."

She paused, changing tactics. "What is it that you want, Jeff?"

"For one, you to be old enough to legally visit a bar."

"What, so it's just because I'm not 21?"

"No, I-"

"Because I've been through more than almost anyone has by that age. I'm not a child."

Jeff looked at down at her, running a hand through his hair (Great, now he'd have to check it next time he walked by a mirror, damn those nervous habits, but hello, this was not what he should be focusing on right now). "I know. Trust me, I know."

"Then what's the problem?"

"Seriously? If I have to start reeling off the list then maybe you're a little more naïve than you think you are."

Annie shot him a look. "Of course I know there are issues. But is there any reason, any real reason, besides your ridiculous hang up about my age, that only involves us? Because no one else should factor into this."

Jeff prepared to go into his whole 'It's really just an infatuation, the lure of the forbidden, and it will fade quickly,' speech when he realized that he actually didn't believe any of it. Nor had he ever, really.

Instead, honesty spilled out. "…I don't want to hurt you."

"I'm a big girl, Jeff," she said quietly. "I know it's a risk. But that's a risk in any relationship. You weren't concerned about that with Slater."

"Slater was different."

She stared at him understandingly, her lips curling up in a soft smile. "Because Slater wasn't me?"

"You really should stop doing that. It's kind of scary."

"That I have this much insight into your brain?"


"Sorry about that."

"No, you're not."

The air was light between them, finally. No more unsaid feelings clouding the air with tension.

Only one question remained: What about the next step?

Jeff suddenly wasn't sure how to take it. He had asked dozens (and dozens) of women out before. This should be the easiest part.

But, as she had pointed out, other women were not Annie.

Jeff opened his mouth, then closed it. What should he say, exactly?

He caught a glimpse of Ms. Granger a few yards away, walking to her car.

And all at once, he knew what to do.

Do you want to go on a date with me tonight? Jeff signed. He even did the full-fledged eyebrow thing.

Annie grinned. Yes.

Maybe this didn't have to be so complicated after all.

December 23

Two weeks after the semester ended, the group got together at Pierce's, which had essentially become their default location outside of GCC.

They were in the middle of making fun of some movie with Tom Selleck and killer robotic spiders when Jeff suddenly stood, declaring that he needed more popcorn.

"I'll show you where it is," Annie remarked, hurrying after him.

"That was weird," Pierce said a moment later, holding up a half-full bag of popcorn. "I have more right here."

"Maybe he likes it fresh?" Shirley suggested.

Pierce opened his mouth to speak again, most likely to put a perverted twist on Shirley's words, but Abed beat him to it.

"You know, in season 5 of Friends, when Monica and Chandler disappeared for weird reasons, it was because they were actually sneaking around, having sex behind the other Friends' backs."

"Jeff and Annie," Troy laughed. "Riiight."

When the pair returned eighteen minutes later without any popcorn – Jeff caught Abed mumbling something about lack of continuity and being sloppy – the group accepted Jeff's hastily fabricated answer that he and Annie had gotten distracted by their own conversation and eaten all the popcorn before they realized how much time had passed.

Jeff and Annie sat back down in their respective places on the leather couch and watched Tom Selleck chase down the guy that controlled the bloodthirsty mechanical arachnids.

And maybe it was dark, so maybe his hand found its way to her thigh, and maybe they rushed out a little too soon after the movie was over.

But if asked later, Jeff would neither confirm nor deny these events.

Later that night

"Ouch!" Troy yelped.

"What's the matter?" Pierce asked, peering into the Plasma Room from the hallway.

"Oh, I tripped over Jeff and Annie's popcorn bowls..."

Troy stared at the bowls for a good five seconds, his brows lowering.



"If Jeff and Annie went to make popcorn, and didn't come back with any, why are their bowls still in here? Unless…do you think Abed was right?"

Pierce thought it over for a moment. "Way to go, Jeff!"

"Ooh, this is wrinkling my brain," Troy said, lowering himself to the recliner.

"Forget the wrinkles, this calls for the podphone," Pierce said as he whipped the object from his pocket and held it up to his mouth. "Call Shirley."

Three minutes (twenty-two "Call Shirley"s and one "For the love of God, Pierce, just use the buttons!") later, Shirley's ringtone – a classic version of "Little Drummer Boy" – filled the minivan as she pulled into her driveway.

She answered. Pierce spoke.

"Holy macaroni with pepperjack," she breathed.

"Britta, it's Shirley. You'll never guess what Pierce just told me…"

"I knew it!" Britta exclaimed, pounding the steering wheel.

Abed's phone was dead, so he missed out on the gossip chain. His thoughts revolved around the fact that he was definitely right to have upped the rating of his last film.

Jeff and Annie were both happily oblivious to their frantically buzzing phones in the living room, having already made it back to his bedroom and resumed their previous activities.

11 AM, The Next Morning

After breakfast, showering, dressing, and delaying the inevitable, Jeff finally checked his phone. "Thirteen missed calls. You?"

"Fourteen. My mom called once."

"I guess it's time to face the music, then." It was a statement, not a question.

"Guess so."

Silence reigned.

"Well, there's no time like the present, right?"

Jeff took a deep breath of preparation. "Absolutely. Off we go."

Annie grabbed her purse, and Jeff slid his wallet into his back pocket.

They met in front of the door.

"Milady," he said, offering his arm.

She took it with a smile. "Milord."

The End.