Jeff was going to kill Abed.
First, Abed and Troy had talked him into spending an entire weekend watching Twin Peaks on DVD. Jeff had vaguely recalled the show from when he was in high school, but hadn't ever watched it or paid enough attention to it at the time. So, having nothing better to do, he'd reluctantly agreed.
By the third episode, he was hooked, and three long and grimy days spent in Abed's dorm later, they'd finished the too-short series (and movie), leaving Jeff with too many questions and too few answers.
Then, Abed had casually mentioned a themed party the next weekend that Troy couldn't attend. The theme was famous duos in entertainment. Jeff had – again reluctantly – agreed to go with Abed as Special Agent Dale Cooper, to Abed's Sheriff Harry Truman. After all, he reasoned, he'd get to wear a suit. Plus Abed had dug up a voice recorder for him to use. A little temporary dark hair dye and a coffee cup, and Jeff was ready to meet Abed there.
It wasn't until the third thing, however, that Jeff decided to seek revenge. Because the third thing was standing in the middle of the party, dancing sinuously in a sweater and skirt combo, her hair pinned up to look like a bob, eyebrows thickened and darkened mysteriously, and the left one punctuated with a beauty mark. Yes, Abed had constructed this entire scenario, just to get Jeff and Annie to dress as Cooper and Audrey Horne. And for that, Jeff was going to make him pay.
Hitting the appropriate button, Jeff lifted the recorder. "Diane, remind me to find and exploit Abed's weakness."
Annie turned, and Jeff could see the exact moment she recognized him. Smiling, she started his way, and a voice in the back of his mind was whispering, Oh, shit, she doesn't know what Abed did and I should have paid more attention when Abed started talking about aborted romantic arcs. "Hi, Jeff!"
"Annie." Jeff surveyed her costume. She had done something smudgy to her eyes to make them appear not quite as Disney-princess-like, but she still looked as wholesome and naïve as ever. He tried to smile, but was afraid it came out more like a grimace. "Do you have any idea who you're dressed as?"
"Not really," she confessed. "Abed just asked me to dress like this as a favor and showed me some pictures of this actress from Twin Peaks, and told me it would all make sense later." She grinned up at him, pointing to his hair. "I almost didn't recognize you with the dark hair, especially combed neatly. You look so distinguished."
Jeff feigned affront at that. "Don't I always look distinguished?" When she just laughed, he grinned back, then sobered. "And have you seen our friend Mr. Nadir yet tonight?"
She shook her head, and took in his outfit again. "Really, Jeff, who are you supposed to be?"
"Special Agent Dale Cooper, at your service, Ms. Horne."
"Ms. Horne?" Annie shook her head. "What are you talking about?"
"Abed set it up so that I would dress like Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks. Audrey Horne, the character you're dressed as, was the original love interest of Coop." When she still looked mystified, he sighed. "There was a… significant age difference between the two characters, since Cooper was an FBI agent, and Audrey was a high school senior."
"Oh. Oh." Annie tapped a finger to her lips. "Hmmm."
"Yep." Jeff let the moment hang for a few minutes, then lifted the recorder again. "Diane, I am standing in awkward silence with Annie-slash-Audrey in the middle of the party and beginning to formulate my revenge. I'll need to come up with some suitable alibi."
"Who is Diane?"
Annie looked mystified, and Jeff sat down his mug, pocketed the recorder, and led her out onto the dance floor. "There's so much I have to teach you."
A few songs later, Annie leaned back from Jeff's hold and stared at him in astonishment. "Come on, really? Then what happens?"
Jeff laughed a little. "You'll have to watch in and find out! I'm not going to tell you every detail of it."
"Jeff! Jeff, you can't just stop!" Annie was burning with curiosity. She had to get her hands on that series and watch it and know who had killed Laura Palmer! But Jeff kept telling her no, so she blew out an exasperated breath. "Alright, if you won't tell me that, maybe you can tell me why Abed tricked us into showing up at this party this way. Why not just tell us that he wanted us to dress like Cooper and Audrey?"
He winced. "I may have unwittingly compared our situation to that one."
"Our… situation?" Annie repeated carefully.
"You know, the chemistry, the attraction, the age difference. I told him that Twin Peaks was just proof that a relationship with ages that disparate wasn't acceptable." Jeff slowed to a near stop. "No matter how compelling it may be, a thirty-something man should know better than to get involved with a young girl."
Annie looked away, disheartened. "So why did he feel the need to put us – me – through this again? I've already had it drilled in my head that I'm too young. By more than just you. This seems… cruel. And Abed isn't cruel."
"Who knows?" Jeff started walking off the dance floor, and Annie followed him. "Abed probably thinks this is going to teach us some important lesson that's important to our 'character development'."
They paused on the fringes of the celebration, staring at one another, stuck at the same roadblock they always hit. Until someone bumped into Annie from behind and she took a step closer to Jeff.
"Oh, how cute!" The woman who had knocked into Annie gave them a thrilled smile. "I always loved Cooper and Audrey together. I'm so glad you two went outside the box and came up with something really unique."
Another couple dressed as (a much older) Jim and Pam from the Office turned at that. The man chuckled a little. "Man, did I ever have a crush on Sherrilyn Fenn back in those days! You look just like her, sweetie. Doesn't she, Terry?"
His wife agreed, and added, "You two bring back a lot of sweet memories of those days. It broke my heart that Audrey and Cooper weren't together when they pulled the plug on that show."
There was a general consensus from the couples surrounding them as they all started reminiscing about the series, and Cooper and Audrey.
Annie looked up at Jeff. "So… I'm guessing our duo don't get their happy ever after?"
Jeff was frowning a little. "Not even close. Cooper has his own demons to face and Audrey-"
"Is too young, I know." Looking around, Annie started to realize why Abed probably set this up. "If only Cooper had realized how eagerly people could look beyond their age difference, and see that they were meant to be, then he could have faced his demons with Audrey as a partner."
Jeff was quiet for too long, so Annie glanced up at him again. He was staring at her bemusedly, but he glanced away as soon as their eyes connected. "Too bad for Cooper," he said lightly. After another minute of silence, he cleared his throat. "I think I'm going to take off."
Annie wanted to groan in dismay, but settled for forcing her lips into a smile. "I guess I'll go, too. There's no point in only one half of the duo sticking around."
Like a gentleman, Jeff walked her out to her car, but hesitated before letting her climb in. "Do you want to come over to my place and watch a few episodes? It's still pretty early."
Her breath caught. "I'd like that," she managed to answer calmly.
So she followed him over to his apartment, ignoring the butterflies in her stomach as they took the elevator up to his floor.
As they settled onto his futon, Annie perched precariously on the cushion while the impossibly long (albeit beautiful) opening credits rolled. By the end of the pilot, however, she and Jeff had found a comfortable position leaning up against one another.
To her surprise, she found the sensation of relaxing with Jeff, of just settling in and enjoying the show, very… normal. One episode after another played, and they rotated spots a few times, her leaning on his arm, his feet in her lap, her feet in his lap, him on the floor with his head against her knee.
As she started getting drowsy, they were on the seventh episode and she was leaning against Jeff's chest. He had long ago pulled a blanket over them. He had been restful for a while.
Just before nodding off, she could have sworn she heard him grab that silly recorder again and whisper, "Diane, I owe Abed big time."