Note for this chapter: Flashbacks start going backwards. Yeah, that's right, I'm mixing things up, LOST style. If there was a sixth part I'd start making Flash Sideways. Or not.

Also, if you haven't seen Some Kind of Wonderful, well first, go remedy that, and second, there maybe some references that don't make sense. Sorry about that. But seriously, watch it. John Hughes baby.

Shutting up…

Part V
yes, I am home


April 18, 2013

It had been three weeks since David's failed proposal turned teary breakup and Annie had been spending an inordinate amount of time curled up in bed, eating ice cream and watching old movies. There was something so movie-cliché "I just got my heart broken" about it that sometimes she almost thought she was enjoying herself too much.

There were still those moments though - when she was making dinner and eating it at an empty kitchen table that she was completely overwhelmed by this new hole in her life.

It didn't help that all of Annie's university friends had actually been David's friends first and humiliating him during a marriage proposal in a crowded restaurant hadn't really endeared her to any of them very much. So this David shaped hole kept growing by increments until her crying into a pint of Ben and Jerry's "breakup routine" turned into "I really just don't have anything better to do."

"My mom called again."

"How many times today?"

"Twice. Once to tell me she remembered how sweet it was that David sent her Mother's Day flowers last year."

"Maybe you should stop answering your phone when she calls. That's how I deal with it."

"I've considered it. Maybe I like being tortured by it a little bit."


Annie rolled her eyes and settled back against the pillows, situating the phone so that it was balanced on top her knee.

Jeff's voice floated out disembodied from the speaker, "Okay, seriously, how does a high school student get into the Hollywood Bowl during off hours like this?"

Annie smiled and watched as Lea Thompson and Eric Stoltz argued onscreen. "You're just jealous you didn't think of it."

"And who gives diamond earrings to someone they've been on one date with? You're supposed to hold out until she actually starts demanding crap like that."

She laughed again. "Stop it. You're ruining this for me."

Jeff fell silent, save for a few derisive snorts every now and then.

A few minutes later though Annie suddenly blurted out, "I got a job in Boulder."

There was a beat before Jeff spoke, "What?"

"At a newspaper. I'll pretty much be doing the same thing I'd be doing here but… at least I'll be at home."


"Yeah, Boulder's only like a half an hour drive from Greendale. I figured I could live there, just commute in every day. Or, well, even if I live in Boulder I… I'll at least be closer, right?"

"Wow. Yeah."

On the other side of the line Jeff stared blankly at the television screen, the laundry he had been folding sitting forgotten in front of him.

It had been three weeks since she had called him one morning to tell him about the proposal and subsequent breakup but it was still hard to wrap his mind around the idea that she was just Annie now – and of course she was always been just Annie but for a year and a half he had trained himself to constantly tack on this "with David" to the end of who she was like it was this really important thing to remember.

And of course there was going to be a proposal. Part of him had always just half expected to log into Facebook one day to see one of those "Guess what?" status updates followed by a picture of a diamond ring.

But now here she was, just Annie, talking about coming home.

"That's what you want?"

She sighed, "Yes. It's stupid, I know. I should want to go somewhere like New York and live in the city and drink… what do they drink is the city? Martinis? Whatever. And just be scandalous for awhile. But."

Jeff laughed loudly at this, "I'd like to see that."

Annie smiled, "Can't you picture it? Me, traipsing down the streets of New York in six inch heels and a fur coat?"

"I love that that's your idea of scandalous."

"Well there would be lots of sex too."

Jeff coughed and choked out a strangled laugh as Annie flushed furiously and sank back down against her pillow in embarrassment. After a beat though, she felt a weird rush of empowerment.

They watched the rest of the movie in silence until the credits started rolling.

"Do you think he ever regretted letting go of Amanda Jones?"

"Did they ever actually refer to her without using her last name? Who in real life does that?"

"Jeff, answer the question."

He sighed, "I don't know. Probably not. But I don't think that's the point."


The screen changed as the opening music for the next movie started playing.

When we danced he held me tight
and when he walked me home that night
all the stars were shining bright
and then he kissed me.

"You know, I think Abed's on to something, Britta does look a little bit like Elizabeth Shue."

Jeff squinted at the television, "Huh. Maybe."


Jeff stands in the middle of his hotel room, staring blankly at the wall. He's not sure how long ago it was that he made some lame excuse and left everyone at the bar, not sure how long he's even been standing here, unsure of what to do with himself.

He's waiting.

Earlier in the restaurant, as Annie folded her hand into his under the table and continued holding onto him until the food came, he had felt some strange electrical shock to his system that hadn't really gone away in the following hours - as they left the restaurant, said good bye to Annie's parents, made their way back to the hotel bar – it's this new constant company and it's driving him to the kind of distraction that not even scotch and the chatter of five friends can numb.

He's not even sure he wants it to.

So now he's waiting.

There's a quiet knock at the door and he opens it without really even thinking, to find Annie standing there, biting her lip. When she looks up at him through her eyelashes Jeff fingers curl into the palm of his hand and he has to take a deep steadying breath.



He waves her into the room and she steps in, looking around like she's never been there before, like she's expecting something to have changed. Maid service had been there earlier so the bed's made and her eyes sweep across it before she turns back around to look at him.

"Jeff, you're my best friend." Her hands twist nervously behind her back.

He gives her a half smile, but as she opens her mouth to say more he suddenly moves forward, his hands dropping to her waist to pull her toward him. She makes a noise of surprise as she collides into him but he's leaning down and kissing her hard, drawing her up so that her feet almost leave the ground.

Everything goes sort of foggy and dark for a second but then her hands are sliding up his chest as she starts to kiss him back with an almost frantic urgency. Jeff's arms wrap completely around her, crushing her to him as she clutches at his shirt collar, his shoulders, the back of his neck, and they both moan as his tongue sweeps into her mouth.

She tastes so completely like Annie, with the tangy hint of vodka cranberry, and when his lower lip gets caught between her teeth and she pulls on it gently he groans, one of his hands moving up to tangle in her hair, cup the back of her head and angle her closer.

They don't even realize they're moving until Jeff's legs bump up against the bed and he stumbles back against it, pulling her down on top of him. They both laugh as she braces herself, then pushes back up on her knees so that she's straddling his hips. Jeff sits up with her, his hands settling on her hips. Their foreheads rest together.

"Fuck," he mutters softly. She pulls back to look at him, concern creasing her brow.

"No. It's not…" He smiles, tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, then twirls the soft ends around his finger. "I don't think I realized how much wanted to do that."

Annie relaxes. She cups the back of his neck, stroking her fingers across the skin there. "Jeff, I was serious before. You're my best friend."

He nods, "And do you think that this," his eyebrow goes up, "changes that?"

She shakes her head slowly. His hands are smoothing up and down her arms, then around, brushing her hair aside to run fingertips across the bare skin of her back above her dress. Annie's eyes flutter closed as she shifts against him, leans in to capture his lips again.

"Hmm. Jeff. This morning," she whispers between kisses, "I wanted."

"Me too." One of his hands slides back down to her thigh, then lower to her knee.

"And. At Pierce's party."

"I know."

Her lips trail down his jaw line to the spot under his ear and when her teeth nip at the skin there he groans low in his throat. She pulls back with a self-satisfied smirk but the hand at her knee is sliding back up to just under the edge of her dress, fingers pressing into soft skin and she shivers and drops her head back down the crook of his neck.

"Jeff." She says his name in a whispered sigh and he smiles, reveling in the way her body warms against him.

He nudges her head back up and her eyes are closed, lips parted slightly as she breathes, the rise and fall of her ribcage against his. He tugs her closer, pressing a hand against her low back as he moves in to hover his lips just above hers, "I love you," he breathes against her.

Annie doesn't open her eyes, but he can feel the way her lips curl softly into a smile, the way she hitches herself around him, into him, and it suddenly feels insane that they haven't been doing this forever.

"I love you," she whispers back.


Summer 2012

Annie fumbled along in the dark, brushing her hand along the side of the wall, searching for a light switch. She just knew there would end up being a step somewhere that she'd end up tripping over, falling on her face and waking an entire houseful of people because she needed to be taken to the emergency room with a broken limb of some sort.

Pierce's lake house was enormous (ten bedrooms, eight bathrooms and even a supposed hidden passage that Troy and Abed would spend the next two days trying to find), which was nice when there were fifteen people packed into it, but mildly dangerous when she was trying to stumble around in the dark.

She rounded the corner and breathed a sigh of relief that at the end of the hall the kitchen light was on so that she could make her way less blind. At the doorway to the kitchen she stopped short though when she saw that she apparently wasn't the only one having a sleepless night.

"Midnight snack?"

Jeff peered out from behind the refrigerator door and smiled, "Cereal. Want some?"

"Sure." She shuffled in as he set a carton of milk on the counter next to a box of Frosted Flakes.

She feigned shock. "Jeff, you're eating carbs now?"

"Summer's almost over. Don't have to worry about that bathing suit body as much anymore. I can live dangerously." He patted his stomach to make his point.

Annie rolled her eyes and hopped up onto the counter as he handed her a bowl and a spoon.

"Couldn't sleep?"

She nodded, "Britta snores."

"Ahh. Yes. That she does. Like a chainsaw if I remember correctly."

"How did you put up with that?"

"Well, obviously that's why we broke up."

Annie smiled at him, held out her bowl as he poured in a generous helping of cereal and milk.

She had been spending most of the summer trying to log overtime at the paper so it was actually the first time she had seen him since his midnight visit back in May. It was almost strange to just walk into a kitchen and find him there – but mostly because there was such a normalcy to it.

"So, this party tomorrow. Should I be worried?"

Jeff nodded. "You saw the invitation."

She grimaced. "Don't remind me."

He laughed. "Actually, it sounds like it might be, dare I say, classy?"

Annie swallowed a bite of cereal and gasped in exaggerated shock, "Pierce?"

Jeff nodded, his eyes wide and then they fell silent as they ate, the kitchen echoing with the sounds of their spoons scraping the bottoms of the plastic bowls.

"Do you think Pierce is happy?" Annie asked suddenly.

Jeff chewed thoughtfully and then shrugged, "I don't know. Cluelessly happy maybe."

"I mean, when he's at home alone at night, do you think….?"

He leaned back against the counter next to her, "Honestly, I prefer to not spend my time thinking about Pierce being home alone."

She frowned at him.

"I'm serious Annie. If I'm sitting around thinking about Pierce being alone, doesn't that make me just as pathetic?" He looked down and scuffed his toe against the tiled floor.

Annie set down her bowl on the counter and leaned forward a little, "Jeff, are you happy?"

Jeff looked up at the tone in her voice, surprised to see something like fear flash in her eyes.

"Annie, I'm not… Yes, I'm happy. I am." He tilted his head toward her in assurance. "I'm not going to go jump off a bridge or something. Really. I wouldn't want to deprive the world of my brand of awesome."

She scoffs but looks away to hide the blush that is slowly spreading up her cheeks. Maybe she had been worried about him, somehow afraid that she was the only one that knew how the breakup really affected him and that he would keep it all bottled up until it was this huge ugly thing that never went away.

It made her feel responsible enough for his emotional well-being that she had started texting him randomly with stupid little things to try to make him laugh in a "hey buddy I'm here for you" kind of way. But then he would inevitably come back with something that would make her laugh or smile. And suddenly, "here's a joke I thought you might enjoy" became "I'm bored at the DMV, what are you doing?" and fifteen-minute back and forth conversations.

"Maybe I just don't want to think about the fact that one day I'll be him," Jeff was saying.

Annie sighed, "Jeff, you will never be Pierce."

He turned to face her and his hand landed on her knee.

"You sure about that?"

She nodded. "Well, for one thing, you've never been married."


She could feel the warmth of his fingers through the soft material of her pajama pants and her eyes flickered up to his.

Jeff watched her for a moment and she didn't think that she was imagining the fact that he was leaning in closer. There was this magnetic pull in his eyes or lips or just the fact that this was Jeff and it was only at the last moment that she dipped her head down so that his lips only came in contact with her forehead.

"I should-" She rested her hand on his shoulder and she meant to push him away but then her fingers were curling into the material of the shirt there and holding on.

"Yeah," he whispered, his lips still warm on her skin, at her hairline, lips moving in tiny almost imperceptible kisses that made her breath hitch.

Suddenly she just wanted to sob, curl up against him and cry her eyes out and she didn't even know why.

"Bed. I should go to bed," she finally said and he was stepping away, looking up at the ceiling, out the window, anywhere but at her.

Annie slid off the counter and walked toward the doorway feeling dazed.

"Hey Annie."

She froze for a moment, her eyes squeezed shut, before turning to find him looking at her guiltily, one hand braced on the counter. He offered her a little half-smile which she returned with a nod.

"I'll see you in the morning."


She shuffled back toward her bedroom, feeling her way along the wall for guidance.


"Greendale's not going to know what to do when the entire female population takes a sudden interest in Poly Sci."

Jeff laughs and rolls to face her where she's lying on her stomach, head pillowed on her arms. Sunlight pours in through the open window she had gotten up and pulled the curtains away from earlier.

"Jealous?" He reaches over and scoops her hair into a makeshift ponytail in his hand, then lets it cascade over to one side. His thumb runs along the shape of her shoulder blade before he leans down to kiss over the same spot.

"No. I'm sure Dean Pelton will be there to make sure no one does anything untoward. He'll probably even audit your class. Just to make sure none of the girls get too unruly."

"Hmm." His hand continues skimming down the curve of her back at her spine.

Annie inhales deeply and sinks further into the mattress. She unfolds one of her arms and reaches her hand up to curl her fingers against his cheek. He kisses her palm and scoots in closer.

"What time is its?" she murmurs.

As if to answer, there is a sudden knocking at the door. A sudden, incessant, continual, knock, knock, knock, knocking. Annie shoots up and wraps the sheet around herself as Jeff rolls off the other side of the bed and grabs his boxers off the ground.

"Crap," he mutters, stumbling and catching himself on the table.

Annie scrambles off the bed, looks at him with wide eyes and then turns and flees into the bathroom without a sound, grabbing her dress off the ground on the way.

"Annie," he hisses after her, yanking his shirt over his head. "Shit."

He pauses to run a hand through his hair before throwing the lock and opening the door to reveal Britta, her face turned up in a scowl.

Jeff leans into the door frame, trying to look casual, "What's up?"

"What's up? Do you have any idea what time it is?"

"Um." He doesn't actually.

"It's 11:30. We have to checkout by 12:00."

"Right. Yeah. I'm… definitely on that."

Britta narrows her eyes and peers around him, takes in the comforter and pillows scattered around the floor. Her scowl suddenly changes to something more smug.

"So where did you go last night? We were worried. You just disappeared."

"Oh, you know, I wasn't feeling good. Must have been something I ate. Came back here and went to sleep."

"Huh. And Annie?"

He freezes, his eyes wide. "What?"

"She disappeared too. Kind of around the same time you did actually."

Jeff purses his lips and shakes his head, "Weird."

"Uh-huh." Britta doesn't move but she looks around him again toward the bathroom door. The second a smirk starts to spread across her features, Jeff knows what's about to happen. He grimaces.

"Hey Annie?" she calls.

There's no answer but Britta continues to smile.

"Annie, we're going to be leaving soon. It would be nice if we could say goodbye."

There's another pause. Then quietly from behind the door, "Okay."

Britta looks back at Jeff. The smirk slips a little and it's replaced briefly by something more wistful. He tilts his head at her and shrugs. She nods in return and then turns down the hallway.

After he shuts the door behind her Jeff lets out a deep breath of air.

The bathroom door cracks open and Annie peers out, still wrapped in the sheet.

"How did she know?"

"I'm not completely sure but I think she may have figured it out before we did."

Annie's forehead creases in worry.

"Hey, don't worry about it."

"I don't want her to-"

"Really. Don't." He moves into the doorway next to her and runs his hand down her arm, takes in the sheet she's tugged around her body, the tousled hair and smudged eye makeup. "I should probably shower before I leave."

"Oh, okay, I'll-" She moves to skirt around him but he grabs her by the waist and pushes her further into the bathroom.

"Jeff!" But she's laughing as he kicks the door closed behind him.


August 27th 2011

Jeff had just made eye contact with the gorgeous blonde across the bar when his phone vibrated in his pocket. He nodded at her and flashed the patented Jeff Winger smile as he discretely pulled the phone from his pocket. The text was from Annie.

"hey what are you doing?"

He narrowed his eyes and quickly typed a response.

"nothing why?"

"can you meet me for coffee?"

He stared at the phone for a second, a little confused, a little concerned because she didn't normally text him at such a late hour to just randomly ask to meet up, and usually it was just reminders about events she was planning and admonitions that he needed to study more.

He looked over at the blonde again and she held up her half empty glass and gestured for him to come over. Jeff glanced back down at the phone.


"joes in twenty?"

He sent an apologetic glance across the bar but the blonde only looked mildly annoyed and began making eyes at the guy three seats down.

Jeff got to the café before Annie so he went ahead and ordered two coffees and then settled into a table in the corner. Since leaving the bar he'd been running over reasons she would ask to meet him out so late, the night before she was leaving for school and the possible answers had ranged all the way from "she'd decided not to go" to "she'd decided to make good on the living in the moment thing and start making phone calls of B.C.I. nature."

This last one gave him pause and he wondered what he would do if Annie actually tried to make a move. The last time she had kissed him… well, he hadn't exactly resisted.

The bell above the door chimed and she bounded in all smiles.

Jeff held up the coffee. "Decaf?"

She laughed, "How did you know?"

"I just figured."

She slid down across from him and leaned forward. Sniffed the air. "Jeff, have you been drinking? Did you drive here?"

"Relax Greendale 911, I walked. I was just down the street."

She narrowed her eyes but seemed to accept this and leaned back in her seat.


"Jeff, I'm leaving tomorrow."

"I'm aware of this. I think Shirley's somewhere making you enough brownies to last the entire school year."

This was apparently the wrong thing to say because Annie's eyes filled with sudden tears.

Jeff set his coffee back down.

"What's up? Because, if you called me here to talk you out of leaving then you're talking to the wrong person. I say run. Run as far and as fast as you possibly can from this place."

"No." She twisted her hands nervously in front of her. "I was sitting at home, looking at all these boxes and I just didn't want to be there anymore. So I called you."

She looked up and winced, "It was stupid. I'm sorry. You were probably." She gestured in the vague direction of the bar. "You can go. It's okay. I'll just-"

Jeff reached over and rested his hand over hers. Smiled.

"It's okay." He shook his head. "Anyway, it was a pretty boring night for me too."


He shrugged and took a sip of his coffee. "You know, you're going to be okay? Right? And we're all going to be friends and we'll still see each other and you'll make new friends and keep the old and when one door closes another one opens and … do I have to keep going with this?"

Annie laughed and shook her head. "No. I know. Sometimes it's all just a little overwhelming. But thanks for the pep talk."

"It wasn't my best."

"Do you want to give it another shot?"

"Okay." He leaned back and cracked his knuckles. "Annie. You're standing here tonight on the precipice of this new life you're about to jump into. And the storms you've already weathered."

She laughed and threw her stir straw at him. "Boo. Cheesy."

"Okay, okay."

"Any real advice?"

He thought about it, "Well… just don't take it too seriously Annie." He looked at her pointedly. "Have fun. Although, not too much fun because otherwise you'll end up here again. Like me. But you're you so I don't think it will be a problem."

"Have fun. Got it." She considered it further, "I'll try."

Jeff nodded, imagining Annie going home and making a typed, bullet point list of ways to not take things so seriously.

"Oh and hey, just." He stared into his coffee. "Stay away from douchebags. You know, cause if something happens we'll have to send Britta and Shirley up there to kick some ass and they'll end up throwing someone through a jukebox and then I'll have to defend them in court and that interferes with my plan to do as little as possible for the next two years."

Annie was smiling brightly, "Okay, stay away from… douchebags." Her voice came out thickly and Jeff looked up to catch her gaze. They watched each other for a moment before Annie looked down, "So, these douchebags, how will I know them when I see them?"

"Well, good rule of thumb is to stay away from guys who don't wear shoes or who shave shapes into their faces."

She snorted "Jeff."

"Oh, and the ones who sit in dark corners twirling their mustaches, they're probably up to no good either."

"Twirling mustaches? Will they be wearing capes too?"

"Most likely."

They ended up staying at the café until it closed and then she drove him back to his car at the bar. Neither of them seemed to be in much of a hurry though and they sat there together in her car, listening to the sounds of Motown straining softly through the speakers.

"No Backstreet Boys?"

She rolled her eyes, "My parents only let me listen to the oldies station when I was growing up. It was all I knew for awhile. Now it just reminds me of home."

He nodded, leaned his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes.

Sittin' in the mornin' sun
I'll be sittin' when the evenin' come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch 'em roll away again, yeah

Before he got out of the car she leaned over and pressed a lingering kiss to his cheek.

"Thanks Jeff."

As she started to pull back he turned his head slightly, curled his hand around her neck and brought her closer again, his mouth moving over hers. She inhaled sharply against him, then relaxed and her lips were just starting to part when he pulled away. Her eyes were still closed when she felt his lips again, lightly on her forehead.

"I'll see you tomorrow?" he murmured.

"Uh-huh." Her eyes fluttered open. He was smiling. "Tomorrow."

When she crawled into bed that night she wasn't thinking about the kiss. Or even the way he looked sprawled back in his chair when she saw him through the window of the café. She was thinking about decaf coffee and Shirley's brownies and 150 miles of open road of ahead of her.


By the time Jeff checks out and they make it out to the parking lot everyone is standing around the van looking impatient and annoyed.

Annie's hair is damp and hanging loose around her shoulders and she's wearing the dress she wore to graduation, a point that almost made her try and sneak out the back door of the hotel.

"Jeff, if I'm wearing the same thing I wore yesterday then they'll know."

"Trust me, if Britta knows, then they know. We're past secret keeping here."

Her face is still flushed scarlet though when they reach their friends. There's an awkward pause before Abed speaks, "I saw this coming actually. It was one of several possible outcomes."

"I think we all saw this coming," Britta chimes in.

"We did?" Troy looks doubtful and she smacks his chest with a laugh.

"Pay attention."

"I try to. But usually I just wait for Abed to tell me what's going on."

Abed nods thoughtfully, "I was afraid I was becoming too much of a spoiler alert. I didn't want to ruin any possible surprises for anyone."

Shirley looks toward Jeff with a raised eyebrow and a pointed finger, "Jeff, you're a good man but I swear, if you hurt this girl."

He holds up his hands in surrender, "Okay. Okay." He looks at them all pointedly before turning his gaze to Annie, "I won't."

Annie just beams until Pierce taps the hood of the car, "Alright, let's get this show on the road.

Jeff clears his throat, "I think I'm actually going to stick around here for a couple days. You know, just to avoid another road trip with you people. I didn't get through four years just to murder one of you now."

Abed holds up a finger, "Ah ha. There it is." He turns to Troy, "This is Jeff's way of saying he loves us."

"Aww, man." Troy looks at the ground bashfully, scuffing his shoe along the asphalt, "We love you too."

Pierce snorts, "Gay."

"Pierce." Britta says his name slowly and gives him a pointed look, as if she's reprimanding a small child.

"Oh, sorry. Should I have said homo-"

"Ughh." Britta interrupts him and covers her face with her hands, 'Nevermind."

Pierce looks confused but then shakes it off and yells "Shotgun!" as he races to open the passenger side door.

Shirley looks heavenward and sighs, "Fine, but I'm telling you, I won't think twice about shoving a grown man out the car door while going full speed down the highway. And don't you even think about touching that radio."

Annie reaches for Britta's arm before she climbs into the van. "Britta, I just wanted to-" she holds her palms up and shrugs wordlessly.

Britta smiles, "Hey, we're cool. Really. Besides-" She looks between the two, "It kinda makes sense. Just don't make out in front of me for awhile okay?"

Annie nods, "Deal."

The two women hug warmly. When Britta pulls away she reaches into her bag and pulls out a water bottle of clear liquid. "Now, if you excuse me, I have a road trip I need to try and survive." She winks and hops into the van with the help of Abed's proffered hand.

"Okay, be good you two!" Shirley gives them one last pointed look before starting the engine.

"Drive safe!"

"We'll see you soon!"

Annie and Jeff stand and wave as the van pulls from the parking lot and turns down the street into the distance.


They turn and watch each other until Annie ducks her head. "My car's over here."

Jeff follows her quietly, squinting into the too bright sunlight.

At her car she fumbles with her keys, trying to open the trunk, like she's nervous, like she hasn't just spend the entire night talking and laughing and touching this man, her best friend.


"Have you ever been to Europe?" she asks suddenly. The trunk pops open.

"Uh. No."

"We should go." She nods decisively as she shoves his bag into the car and slams the trunk closed again.

"Okay." He smiles at her bemusedly. "How about now?"

"What?" She looks up at him sharply, "Jeff, I don't even have a passport. And where would we stay? And what cities or countries do we even want to see and-"

"Hey." He laughs and steps closer to cup her face in his hands. "I was kidding."

"Oh." She looks chagrined and Jeff shakes his head at her while bending and kissing her forehead.

"Living in the moment, my ass."

"Hey! It's not that easy. I." She shrugs, "I'm trying."

He smiles, "Me too."

She sinks into him and nuzzles her nose against his chest, "I'm not sure what's going to happen now."

"Well." He presses his lips to the top of her head. "How about we go to breakfast and get some coffee, then go back to your place and stay in bed for three days?"

Annie flushes deeply.

"And we'll talk about Europe. Or New York. Or Rancho Cucamonga. Wherever."

She pulls away and laughs, "Rancho Cucamonga?"

"I don't know. Have you ever been there?"

"No. I don't even know where that is." They get into the car and Annie starts the engine.

"We'll MapQuest it. It sounds exotic right? Come on Watts, think crazy."

"Um, I'm sorry but you are totally Watts in this situation."

"Uh. No. I am clearly Eric Stoltz."

She rolls her eyes and pulls the car onto the road. "Please."

Jeff smiles and leans back with his arm resting against the open window. "Are you doubting my ability to be as cool as the 80's Brat Pack?"

Annie only laughs, the warm summer breeze rustling the hair around her face and shoulders as she presses down on the gas pedal and accelerates onto the highway.


May 20, 2010

Jeff pulled her into his arms and kissed her hard, feeling her quick indrawn breath, the way she was suddenly clutching at him and kissing him back. He cradled her head as her fingertips pressed against his neck, then slid into his hair and he couldn't help but groan and hold her tighter.

She started to pull away but he held her there a moment longer, lips just pressed against hers and she sighed into his mouth, over his tongue. They parted slightly, noses brushing together, breathing against each other until she stepped back and looked at him with a stunned expression.

Then she covered her face with her hands and let out a high pitched, "I'm so sorry."

Jeff stared for a moment before huffing out a shaky laugh, "Why are you apologizing?"

Annie peered at him between two fingers, "I don't know. I shouldn't have done that."

He swallowed, looked up, "Well." And then he laughed again and scrubbed his hands over his face. "This night."

There was a bit of incredulity in his voice and Annie finally dropped her hands to look up at him.

"There's an entire gym full of people and men in Dalmatian costume waiting to see if I'm going to chose Britta or Slater and I come out here and…" he trailed off.

Annie bit her lip, "I'm not declaring my love for you."

Jeff raised his eyebrow, "What?"

She flushed, "I'm not in love with you." Her words were slow and measured but Jeff was smiling.

"No. I know." He waved his hand in the direction of the gym. "Neither are they. But you have to admit, weird night for me, right?"

She nodded, "I was on my way to Delaware with my boyfriend and now I'm back here. With no boyfriend."

"So pretty much, weird night all around."

There was an awkward pause and then Annie tilted her head, "Did you say, 'men in Dalmatian costume'?"

Jeff's eyes widened "Oh. Yeah. Did I not tell you about that? Apparently the Dean swings in three directions."

Annie looked a little horrified but she laughed and tugged on his hand, "I have to see this."

"Oh, I'm not going back in there."

"Come on Jeff, you have to face this sooner or later."

"I vote later. Much, much later. Maybe in the fall. Maybe never."

She stared him down, tugging again on his hand.

He sighed, "Fine. But I hate you."

"I know. I can live with that." She curled her hand against his arm and together they made their way slowly back to the cafeteria.