Britta's never been that girl. Britta was a high school dropout and a foot model and lived in New York, but Britta's never been that girl.

So.

One day she walks into the library and all she can picture is Jeff naked, stretched out bare on the table while her black dress lies on the floor.

"You seem pretty experienced putting on panties one-handed while holding a gun," he had said, and then she had pulled it on him.

He had tasted like salt and sweat and man and smelled like expensive body wash and stale paint.

"You smell like cinnamon," he had said, and then buried himself in the curve of her neck and her shoulder and kissed her until her mind spun like a mobile.

She ached the next morning. She was angry and she didn't know why.

Her television lights up the room the way candles are supposed to. Blue and red light spills out of it and Rob Lowe talks about how his friend isn't a hooker but a high-priced call girl and there's a difference between the two that should be respected.

Britta watches The West Wing when she's drunk. She has a bottle of overpriced red wine and a plate of pasta she cooked herself because she is a confident independent women sitting next to her on her little eco-friendly coffee table that she put together from a kit. She has a bottle of champagne in her refrigerator and a bottle of vodka in the freezer and she's wondering which one to break out next. Which one gets to join the party because whoop-de-fucking do it's going to be a goddamn fiesta once she gets herself started on this little kick.

She changes the disc in the player and suddenly someone's been shot on her tv screen. Over the opening credits, she picks up her cell phone like she has something to decide and then doesn't call anybody. On her tv, they're in the emergency room of George Washington and nobody knows what the hell's going on because the President's been shot.

"I'm trying to think about things," she says to her anarchist friend when they're sitting and drinking in her living room right before she drunk-dials Jeff. "I'm going to totally figure stuff out this time and it's going to be great. You know?"

Sometimes in her worse moments Britta thinks that nothing in her life has gone the way she wanted it to.

Jeff Winger used to be a lawyer, in case you didn't know. He used to be something as a lawyer and the way it is said implies that it should be capitalized. Jeff used to be a criminal defense lawyer who danced circles around the courtroom , the prosecutor, the written law and even sometimes the United States Constitution, and now he's a student at a community college.

"It's kind of funny," Britta had said one time and he hadn't laughed with her at all because this isn't the way it was supposed to go for him. He was supposed to do a lot of things he didn't do and hasn't done and now he's stuck. Scientists call it inertia and that has got to be right because he hasn't moved forwards or backwards one bit.

He tells himself that he can hold on three more years, that he survived one and came out more or less okay. He considers how much he lies to himself, how it's like, pathological, then laughs loud and long like he's drunk.

One day Jeff picks up his phone and calls Britta.

"I'm mad at you," she says. Her voice is a little thick and a little huskier than usual, and he can hear the television in the background. "I'm mad at you, and it's not going to stop anytime soon," she murmurs. It's not going to stop in spite of you is what she doesn't say. Britta's kind of good at leaving things unsaid and then hinting around them in confusing little circles.

"Okay," Jeff says, and exhales.

Britta puts on her lacy black underwear and a tight black dress and comes over anyways. It isn't the same dress from the paintball game, but it could be.

"Fuck," Jeff says when he sees her, and then he says it again when she pulls off her dress in one silky-smooth motion, and Britta allows herself a tiny little smile like she's won.

When Britta lets herself think about it, Annie is so that girl.

She wakes up the next morning on a motel bedspread that is slippery and sticks to the backs of her thighs at the same time, and realizes that Jeff is holding onto her way too tightly. It's unexpected and she wants to squirm out of his arms and slide her way right out of this bed.

People make mistakes. Britta knows this because she's made a lot of mistakes herself. She answered that phone call when she could have pressed a button that would cut that connection for the rest of the summer, and she put on a tight dress and her good underwear and the heels that make her legs look long as hell. She put on lipstick and mascara and pouted in the mirror to gear herself up and then she got in her car and drove over.

She isn't mad that he called her since he couldn't call Annie, because if Jeff simply wanted to talk to someone he could have bought her a drink and taken her out to dinner (and look at that, it's Britta who's legal to go into a bar and tease him about his taste in scotch and Annie- Annie fucking isn't) or maybe he could have ordered in pizza because they used to be able to talk to each other just fine.

The feeling in the pit of her stomach isn't anger; she's just unsettled.

She debates if she should leave before he wakes up.

She stays, because she doesn't want to be tacky.

Once upon a time, Britta was certain that it was going to be her who was going to save the world.

Once upon a time she smoked a lot of pot, too, and it's possible that the things are related but maybe it's something about her character as well. Maybe she just wants to save people. Maybe that isn't so bad.

When Britta gets home the morning after paintball she doesn't sleep or have green tea or anything. She hides the Spring Fling dress in the back of her closet. She puts it next to her junior prom dress and the homecoming dress she wore when she lost her virginity to that guy, that guy who probably turned out to be just like Jeff, which she would find out if she were to go to any of her high-school reunions.

She kicks the boots in there as well. One of these days she's definitely going to get rid of all these clothes that she doesn't need.

Jeff berates himself a lot. You're a fuckup, he tells himself when he can't sleep and when the ceiling doesn't interest him anymore. You've really screwed up this time and this has got to be the last time or else you're done.

If he told Britta she would probably tell him that he was right. If he told Annie he would get sympathy or empathy and doe eyes he wouldn't really deserve.

Maybe it's because he's used to being on top but when you're on top there's a really long way to tumble down. Congratulations, you've succeeded, says his imaginary Britta.

It doesn't take Jeff very long to wake up. Maybe it's because he's holding on to her so tightly, like it would hurt him if he let her go, or maybe it's because when she's shifting around to get comfortable she elbows him in the throat, whatever, but he wakes up and lets go of her like she's on fire.

Britta pulls the sheet up to cover her boobs and then stops halfway cause yeah, it's nothing he hasn't seen before.

Her nice underwear is on the floor somewhere.

"Fuck," Jeff says, and it's different than before. Britta kind of shrugs. His eyes move over her, like she's the last woman he's ever going to see and he's going to absorb every goddamn detail he can before it's too late.

"I should probably get going," Britta says after an appreciable pause, like, let's smooth over this awkwardness and continue forward as we were going to before.

Instead of saying okay, Jeff says "you don't have to do that," and he surprises her a little.

"I should," Britta says and this time Jeff doesn't respond with a yes or a no.

She breathes out, like fuck all this subtlety and messing around with body language, and asks him if he wants her to stay.

Jeff looks like he wants to say yes, and Britta wonders why he doesn't just say it. It's because it means he has to decide, she reasons, like decide between the cynical girl who he can relate to or the wide-eyed girl who's playing at being a grown-up with him playing at being her older, wiser boyfriend who's going to teach her things about the world. And that's just shit, because he called the cynical girl, not the one with the Disney face, and Britta was the one who came over last night and fucked him until his eyes rolled back in his head on a cheap duvet.

Britta wants to say something about how if he wants to change he needs to decide what he wants to happen, who he wants to be, all of that stuff she's really good at saying to other people to get them thinking, going, whatever, but suddenly Jeff mans up and tells her that she doesn't have to go.

"What do you want to do then, watch the morning shows?" Britta asks. "You must get some of them on your television." Jeff shrugs, and she could totally get dressed and get herself out that door right now. Even though he said that she should stay leaving is what a smart girl would do, someone who has common sense and doesn't create potholes of mistakes for herself.

She's sitting really close to him, and she's topless and the room is kind of cold, and she wants to pull the sheet up over herself all of the sudden to get away from his eyes.

"Screw it," he says, like he's made a decision, and he leans forward and kisses her hard.

Britta's first thought is okay, this again, and she might want to look up something in her psychology textbook about intimacy issues, or attention deficit disorder, or maybe she should just find some paragraph in her pysch book that says that Jeff should get himself into therapy but good.

Why is she thinking about her pysch text right now. Why is she thinking about Jeff's gross emotional problems when she should be focusing on kissing him back.

If this were last night she could have said "we'll deal with this in the morning" but right now it's the morning and there's no later to push it to.

He breaks off the kiss kind of abruptly and this would probably be the perfect time for her to blurt something out that would good and end this thing they've got going on, or even something that would transition it a little bit, or even she could tell him to take a shower and even though he'd probably sarcastically laugh and get her to join in through a cunning use of whatever, it would break this weird feeling that's going on.

Instead she pushes him back down onto the bed and climbs onto him, then leans down and kisses him back as harshly as she can. And that's something, right, something that implies this isn't going to be all love and daisies and unicorns or whatever it is they draw in picture books for children.

Jeff doesn't seem to care about unicorns and daises because he flips them over, and that is so on par because it's like he has this stupid need to be on top of everything, but he flips them over and suddenly they're both really close to each other. Closer than before, like she could count his eyelashes if she wanted to, but Britta wouldn't do anything stupid like that because this isn't like time for romance. Instead it's that there's Jeff, who has this bizarre need to always be on top and Britta, who has this bizarre need to win, so she what she does is she angles and presses her torso up onto him tit-for-tat, just like all the wanton girls on the cover of romance novels do because now if anything is the time to be wanton.

It's probably a need to win what gets her in trouble in the first place. Or she has something wrong with her as a result of being the youngest child. One or the other.

Jeff makes this kind of catching noise in his throat and kisses her again, and if she was a little bit more of a masochist, Britta might be dumb enough to get used to this.

Sometimes Britta sings stupid pop songs in the shower, and sometimes she tap-dances around her living room like she's the girliest girl that ever lived. Sometimes she paints her toenails a soft, delicate pink and flat-irons her hair in front of the mirror. She never broke out of the habit of playing dress-up, but now it just feels like she's just putting on someone else's clothes.

When she was six, she wanted to be a ballet dancer. She was good at it, too, that's what she's never really told anyone. If she had told some of her friends back in New York they would have talked about how it was such a conformity and such a role she would be playing and it would be hell anyways, and if she told anyone who worked in the foot-modeling industry (and god does that sound ridiculous) they would talk about how it would wreck her feet and play havoc with her arches and she's really lucky that she doesn't get blisters easily.

What Britta is never told anyone is that she danced until she was sixteen for no other reason that it was the one thing she was good at, and it was the one thing where she never had to stand in the back.

What she's absolutely never going to tell anyone ever is that her favorite thing about ballet was being lifted. And her anarchist-feminist friends would probably say something derogatory about being lifted by a man and then link it to the 1950s, but it was one of the best things about ballet, feeling like she could fly. And it was doing arabesques that she felt that she could do any one freaking thing in the world.

When she takes dance classes at Greendale she does tap, because everyone always told her it was like the red-headed stepchild of ballet and it wasn't worth her time. It isn't exactly surprising that she's good at it because her body remembers how to dance even if her mind doesn't want to it, but for a moment she wishes that she was bad at tap and that she would skid and trip and fall over because that would make things a hell of a lot easier.

Jeff wanted to be a fireman when he was six, although astronaut would have been a close second if you had kept asking.

When he was seven he wanted to be a tyrannosaurus rex.

Almost thirty years later he's still a little disappointed about that.

"You're going to call me again," Britta states when they're done, lying next to each other and not touching, not like before. "Aren't you?"

Jeff could lie and say no, but it would just make it a little harder the next time he picks up his phone, so he says yes and tells her the truth.

"You want me to take you out for breakfast or something?" Jeff asks.

"Are you saying that because you actually want me to go out to breakfast with you, or are you saying that because it's what you think you should say?" Britta asks, like she hasn't just made world salad out of her sentence. Jeff blinks and tries to decipher and figure out if she's speaking a foreign language or what.

"I'll pay," he offers finally, and look at this, it's like he's taking the steps until he becomes a real boy or something, like Pinocchio and Gepetto, but screw it all because Britta's always really hated Disney anyways.

"Do you really want to take me out to breakfast," she finally asks and Jeff sort of- slides closer to her? Or something, anyways, because suddenly they're touching, like skin-on-skin, and she can feel the sheen of sweat that covers him and thinks, I did that.

"Yeah. Why not," he says and smiles over at her, and their faces are so close she can see all the tiny lines in his forehead from frowning and all of the little lines that swing out of the ends of his eyes from fake smiles and laughs.

He can probably see all her pores and all the little bumps she has on her forehead that won't go away despite her extensive use of expensive skin scrubs and acne medicine that really just dries her skin out and exacerbates the problem.

"Goddammit," Britta finally says and Jeff brushes a hand over her stomach in this weird tender way. Her breasts are hanging out in the open again but that seems to keep happening today so she should just let go of her hang-ups about sheets and modesty and shit like that she didn't really think that she had in her. Jeff certainly seems to have a healthy body image anyways. Good for him.

"Did I say something wrong?" he asks, concerned-ish, and Britta honestly doesn't know if he's faking. If he is, he's got to be like the best, most advanced model of a robot designed to take over the human race that there ever was.

"No. You didn't," she says. "I don't have anything to wear. That's all. I'm going to look like a slut if I come out in what I had on last night."

"I liked it," Jeff says. "It was a good look for you."

She's always dealt well with the short and tight. That's gotta be some points in her favor.

He continues. "There's no room service here, so if you want breakfast-"

Britta swings her legs out of the bed and the rest of her body soon follows, one thing after another. "Yeah, I got it," she says. "Let's go to the diner anyways and get some coffee."

She never really made the change to green tea.

Once upon a time there was a boy who met a girl, and then he lost her. But then he found her again, and everything turned out alright in the end.

This isn't quite like that, Britta knows. This is different.

It would be so much easier if it wasn't.

It turns out that Britta's much better at saying I love you than she thought she was.

That's kind of a bad thing though. Considering.

Britta was expecting her summer to go much differently than this. She was expecting to spend her summer doing something else, something that would involve helping children or walking her cat or something. She wonders if you can take a cat jogging and then wonders why she's wondering that.

The point is that she never expected this.

Shirley had told her that Jeff and Annie kissed with all of the pomp and circumstance there would be if she was saying that someone had just gotten engaged or married or betrothed, whatever, and Britta is like, why should I care about this even? That's how she has to think about it, because if she doesn't think about it any other way she's not going to be able to compartmentalize and she has to do compartmentalize the kissing because otherwise it's more than possible that she's going to cry.

So she thinks about it in terms of beating Slater and getting the prize, and goddamn Annie, because that girl has crossed two lines twice. Annie might not have been the girl who steals boyfriends and backstabs her friend in high school when she was addicted to Adderall and had bad acne but now that she's gotten past that she sure as hell is that girl now.

Britta has always prided herself on never being that girl, but Britta's also always prided herself on being the girl who doesn't lose boys like she's just shedding an old skin. And Vaughn was one thing, because Vaughn was a hippie and someone she liked but was the type of guy she's had before. Vaughn was nothing new, he wasn't even anything special because there were a dozen less fit copies of him over by the stoner tree. But Jeff is someone else. He's in a class of his own and that's both a good and a bad thing.

So yeah, Britta was expecting her summer to go much differently than this. She wasn't expecting to go around being hurt.

And then Jeff calls her, and god help her she turns into entirely something else.

He texts her two days later and says that he wants to take her out for dinner. And Britta is initially scoffing, is thinking 'please, that only works once' but before she knows it she's in a nice pair of jeans and a blue camisole shirt and high-heeled sandals (and these are grown-up clothes that she wears) and it turns out that sooner rather than later in the course of the night he's at her house and they're both making out on the couch. Back at the restaurant, they had opted to skip dessert.

She thinks again about how he smells and she thinks again about how he tastes and feels and how his hair is crispy under her fingers and she tells herself that she has to stop thinking about this, and she needs to get this dude off her couch and her shirt needs to go back on. And probably she should have worn a bra as well, while she's going over the decisions she's made recently that she regrets.

Thing is, she doesn't want to say that she doesn't want him. And there's the double negative, and there's the fucking thing because she wants him bad. She's straddling Jeff and he's messing with the button on her jeans which is apparently hard to open or he's just all lust-addled, and about fifty percent of her brain is going 'lady, you should have worn a skirt' but the other half is saying that she can only make this mistake a certain amount of times, because soon it's going to be that they're sleeping together all the time now. Or it's going to be that her barriers are going to break down and she's going to do something stupid like make declarations of love again and look how that always goes.

"I'm really bad at this," is what Britta should not have said out loud, but she does.

"I think that you're really good at this," Jeff says, with an almost quizzical look on his face as she helps him out of his shirt. His eyes are focused on her lips and they have that look in them too, the look that means that the only thing in the world he wants right now is her. She doesn't want to be okay with that, she wants to get the fuck off him and ask what the hell they're doing, but hell, Britta's bad with feelings.

"Whatever," she says, and shimmies her underwear down her legs.

Jeff came to terms long ago with the fact that he's kind of an asshole, and that a hell of a lot of people think that he's kind of a douche. If he wasn't he wouldn't have been such a good lawyer and his success rate would have been a lot lower.

You're not a lawyer anymore, Britta had said, and what she hadn't said is that means he needs to start being a nice person now and that he has to live in a world with all sorts of other people in it. And the bad thing is that he can't remember the last time he tried to do nice and didn't freak any one person out, including himself.

This is your chance, the Britta inside his head says, but the Britta who is on top of him is naked and that one's going to be taking priority until he can- stop depending on her or something and actually come to self-realization.

That's going to need to be soon says head-Britta and Jeff grabs actual-Britta's waist and bucks up into her and tries to focus on the feel of her and the reality of her alone.

They fall asleep on the couch with him holding onto her again.

He hugs to her his chest, which is sweaty and yick but at the same time it isn't, not really, and she definitely needs to look in her pysch book and see if that's a thing.

"I'm not over it," Britta says to Jeff while they're lying there together on the couch. "Just in case you were wondering."

"I wasn't," he says.

"And don't think I'm doing all this- this with you just because it's the next best thing and it's what I can have."

"I wasn't," he says, and honestly that thought never came across his head.

"The fact is that I could have someone else who I liked more and who isn't such a waste of my time-"

"I'm a waste of your time?" he asks and okay, maybe that comes out a little more plaintive then he was expecting but it isn't like he was really prepared for this conversation here and now.

"Sometimes. A little." Britta responds. "You're a waste of my emotions, and you're a waste of my heart, and sometimes I want you to get the fuck out of my head, Jeff Winger."

Jeff laughs harshly, just a little bit because he has the exact same thought. But the Britta in his head is going to be in there a lot and she probably isn't going to get the fuck out anytime soon.

When she met Jeff at the beginning of the school year, she didn't expect that less than a year later they would be regularly hooking up all over the place.

If Britta believed in hell, that's probably where she would be headed.

Jeff decides that he's got to call Annie, because if he doesn't he's probably a worse human being than he thought he could ever be and he needs to clear the air of whatever was between them. The thing is that he doesn't really want to tell Annie that's he's spent a large part of the last week sleeping with Britta and holding onto Britta and having his life filled with general Britta-ness, because Annie probably has this picture in his head where in four years they get engaged and married and have kids and a dog and he goes back to being a lawyer, but for the good side this time, despite him only answering her texts occasionally and non-specifically.

And the marriage thing. Isn't going to happen. So.

If Jeff were a better man he wouldn't have kissed Annie at all, but he remembers her and he remembers being shit-scared and wanting out, and Annie was there and she looked like a grown-up, not the way Britta does, but Annie looked like a legit adult who had just come into her adult-ness, and her eyes said something, something that wasn't 'I'm a nineteen year old kid who's actually a freshman in college and you're a weirdo' and Jeff just- went for it. And yeah, he knows that excuse wouldn't hold up in a court of law.

But anyways. He needs to call Annie. He's going to call Annie. He just needs to clear some stuff up with her, and then everything, everything's going to be fine goddamnit, because it has to be.

So it turns out that Annie calls Britta after Jeff calls her, because Jeff kind of failed to mention that he's brought his Britta-sex count up since school ended by a larger number than he ever would have thought, and boy does the shit ever hit the fan.

Britta calls him after Annie calls her, and he can just imagine her with her asskicking face on, her legs crossed and her arms crossed and her entire body prepared to uncoil and kill something.

It turns out that Annie just let loose and cried to Britta about how she had all these hopes for Jeff and how she wanted things to go after the dance and the kiss, and he had basically just pissed all over everything by saying that he couldn't, in all good conscience, be with her.

"I was trying to be gentle," Jeff attempts to defend himself, and Britta huffs out in agitation.

"I need to yell at you in person," she says. "I'll see you in twenty minutes." And then she hangs up.

When she arrives at his door, yeah, she looks pretty much exactly like he had pictured, asskicking face and all.

"What were you thinking?" She yells at him, getting all up in his face. "Seriously, what on earth possessed you to call her? We'll leave out your questionable moral objectivity or whatever you were getting off with kissing her because god knows I've analyzed that enough already. But calling her and telling her that you can't be with her like she might have hoped- and I know you thought that you were trying to do the right thing but sometimes not doing the right thing is better!- and then not mentioning my name?"

"I'd thought that leaving you out of it would be better for both of you-" Jeff protests, and Britta rolls her eyes.

"Yeah, except if you had said 'I can't be with you because I've been sleeping with Britta and I don't want to cheat on whatever thing we've got going on'- which is what I've heard you said except you didn't say Britta, but if you had told her it was me then she could have just called me to be mad at me already, and then I could be mad at her and it would be so much better! Goddammit Jeff, it would be so much easier if she was mad at me!"

"Because then you could be mad at her?" Jeff asks, and he'll be damned because he has no clue what's going on inside of Britta's head right now.

"Yes!" Britta hisses.

"I don't get why you want to be mad at her," he says. "Aren't you two best friends?" It is a very good thing that he's managing to keep his voice down right now, because it makes him seem calm and rational.

"We are!" Britta says, "which is why I can't be mad at her! And I need to be mad at her right now, I really do. I took her hiccupping apologies and put up with it because we're friends but I can't deal with being friends and not being able to be mad at her right now!"

"I still don't understand-" and yep, there's Britta trying to skewer him with her laser eyebeams of you-are-so-wrong-now-it-is-your-doom.

"Annie is a horrible friend," Britta spits out. "I don't know if you understand it, because you're a guy and maybe guys don't see things this way, but Annie is the very definition of a bad friend! First she starts dating Vaughn right after he breaks up with me, and that was one thing and I dealt with it, but then she goes and dumps him and grabs onto you, under the worst available circumstances. I'm not cool with any of it, and I dealt with it by myself but the fact is that I'm mad at Annie and I have every right to be and god, Jeff, I don't get why you don't see this."

He doesn't see it, he really doesn't, but he can kind of try and fumble around. "You're mad at Annie because she's a bad friend? You're not mad at me?"

"Oh no, I'm furious with you," Britta informs him. "But you didn't steal two guys I liked. Though in your case it would be stealing chicks- not that I'm- whatever, this is stupid."

"So you're not mad at me for calling her?" Jeff asks, and Britta sighs like all the fight has left her.

"I don't know," she says. "I'm just mad right now. At Annie and at you and at everything, so I'm just going to go, okay. I need to go."

He feels like he should hug her or make a gesture or even apologize for something, but Britta just walks back to her car and gets in it. She drives away, and while he could have shouted or he could have run after her and made her stop, he doesn't do anything. He goes back into his room and shuts the door, and then Jeff lies on the bed in the dark to stare at the ceiling like the lame kind of loser kid he always told himself that he wasn't.

Britta sends him a text once she's cleared her head a little.

I didn't mean to be that girl, she says.

He wants to tell her that he feels like shit, he wants to tell her that she should be mad at him, that she has everything right to be mad at him (and Annie too, even) but he still can't bring himself to write it down.

You're not, is what he sends back instead, and that will just have to do for now.

He drives over to her place so he can try to tell her instead.

It's raining.

It would really dramatic if he was walking in slo-mo through the rain, and then he would get wet and it would turn into a momentous moment, or something worthy of a movie with a song playing in the background, but instead he just turns on his windshield wipers and watches the water flick away instead of watching the road.

He gets wet walking from his car to Britta's door, so that's got to be worth something on the romance scale.

Jeff walks up to the door, and he's lingering on the doorstep giving himself a mental pep talk (and say whatever you want about that it's so totally not lame) and convincing himself that he should ring the doorbell, he should knock on the door, but then Britta sees him through the window and takes that decision out of his hands.

She yanks open the door and he's still expecting her to be mad, because come on this is Britta, but instead her face crumples a little, her nose scrunches up and she looks like he's just beat up her puppy which hits him right in the gut.

She makes this noise that's like a choke and a gasp and a sob all rolled into one, and Jeff realizes that she cares for him, like she really seriously cares for him and if she didn't a week ago she does now, so he takes a step forward and envelopes her in his arms before he realizes that he's soaking wet.

Britta fits nicely under his chin though, and he doesn't mind that at all.

"I'm sorry that I was an asshole," Jeff says, and holds her a little bit tighter. He's definitely got a thing, because now he's thinking about how good she smells in addition to how good she feels.

"I'm sorry I was taking my feelings out on you the one time it wasn't appropriate," Britta says, and laughs a little and she brings her head up to look at him. "Hey. You're all wet."

"Oh- yeah. I am. Look at that," Jeff says.

"You should come in," Britta smiles at him, and it's a little bit more hesitant than he might have thought it would be, but it's still there. "We can get you out of all those wet clothes."

He raises his eyebrows, because the implication is right there dangling (thank god) and follows her inside.

After a month of things going really well (like, they have sex way more than they fight and Jeff's pretty sure that Britta's not mad at him anymore) he realizes that most of his stuff is at her place. Like, his toothbrush is right next to hers on the top of the sink and sometimes he mixes them up and doesn't mind, his favorite shirts are in the giant walk-in closet Britta's lucky enough to have, and he's stopped getting grossed out by the box of tampons under the sink.

This should freak him out. It doesn't.

By the end of the next month, he's given up his motel room and moved in with Britta. He makes her breakfast in the morning and she tries to convert him to vegetarian hot dogs, and he buys a lot of organic vegetables because she makes some truly excellent stir-fry dishes. He's even moved beyond picking out the pieces of tofu.

They just sort of work in this situation, where they can talk (they've always been good at talking to each other) and have sex (they're also very good at this) and there's no pressure from anyone else, no pressure to get married or define anything or be anything other than them.

Britta gets kind of softer, too, like she smiles at him more often and some of the harsh edges that have always defined her get fuzzier, and you know what, Jeff really likes sitting on the couch with her watching The Daily Show and True Blood (they're both, like, ridiculously addicted to that show, seriously) and he doesn't want it to end. At all, or possibly ever, whichever.

But of course real life's a bitch and gets in the way and they have to go back to school.

"Fuck," Britta says looking at him when there's a week left, her brow creased identically to his. "Fuckfuckfuck."

"Yeah," Jeff agrees. "I don't feel like facing them."

"God, the study group." Britta moans. "Abed's going to be Abed, and shit, Annie, and ShirleyTroyPierce, ugh."

"Yeah," Jeff repeats, because that kind of says it all. Britta's shoulders are practically bunched up around her ears because she so tense, and Jeff shakes his head a little.

"You don't want to tell them?" He guesses accurately, while Britta nods.

"It'll become a thing," she explains, her hands spread wide. "Not a good thing but a bad thing, and it'll be all overwhelming and I like how we are now, I don't want to deal with everything else."

"Me neither," Jeff admits. Sometimes there's nothing wrong with the coward's way out, and this way he gets to hold onto Britta and stay with her in this little bubble of breakfasts and not-fighting they've formed for themselves.

"We just won't tell them," Britta's struck by this idea. "We'll just continue as we were and nothing will have changed."

Jeff agrees.

Britta doesn't want to tell the study group because she likes the idea of Jeff-and-her, she doesn't want it to be Jeff-and-her against the study group and the world and everything. And maybe she has this sickening feeling inside like if there's drama and exclamations and Annie-Shirley-Troy-Abed-Pierce they won't be in sync anymore. And not being in sync would be really bad.

And even though it would be really hard for him to cut and run, his name's on her lease for god's sake and when her option to buy the house comes up eventually she has a feeling like that conversation might go really well, there's still that feeling, nagging her until she wants to throw up.

Because it's Jeff, but on the other hand it's Jeff. And god, Jeff, okay, she never thought she would feel this way about him but she does and it's good.

So. Nothing gained, nothing lost, inertia. They'll stay as they were and hope everything will be fine.

The first day of sophomore year is surprisingly normal.

They all walk into the study room and hug, reunite, bond, okay, and then when they sit at their regular places- Jeff's right next to her, just like normal- Britta looks over at him with this little smile.

He looks at her back, like "we got this" and they do this time, they really , really do.

Abed's eyebrow raises, like it's some sort of sensor or something, but Britta heads him off with a question about how his summer went, and did he and Troy have fun on their road trip to the East Coast (very much so, and next summer they're going to try to make it up all the way to Maine).

After the reunion slash meeting though, Abed finds Britta and says "congratulations" to her.

She blinks and wonders if she should deny it, but instead Britta pulls Abed into a giant hug. He pats her on the back and promises that he won't tell anyone.

When the option to buy on the house comes up, they decide to take it and whoa, look at this they have a mortgage and they're suddenly both adults now, like for real.

Jeff still makes her breakfast, and he's stopped complaining about the vegetarian hot dogs, mostly, and this is it: they work this way and they pulled it off.

(The study group finds out when Shirley comes over to take Britta shopping and finds Jeff in the kitchen attempting to fry eggs while Britta frantically searches for her wallet. Shirley goes for her phone to text people and that's it, the secret's out, but there's really no commotion and Britta realizes that maybe things do have a happy ending after all.)