Since Community starts in a week, I decided to write a story to fill the pause between Season 2 and Season 3 since a couple of spoilers motivated me to come up with a plot bunny. I wouldn't want to ruin anyone's fun so don't read this part, unless you want to be spoiled, but apparently the Jeff and Annie romance will take full-centre again and the renewed bond is apparently made obvious by something having taken place during the summer. So this is my humble version of what that could have been. This is all guessing of course, Season 3 might turn out to be very different after all, so this scene might not make any sense in the long run, but I hope you like it as a separate entity anyhow.
Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think:)
"Just take a left here, we're almost there," Annie informed him, as the car veered into a suspicious looking alley. The kind where people stopped in panic and stuffed their hands in their pockets, to feel covered.
"I remember. We've driven you home before," Jeff replied, staring at the bleak surroundings with a heavy heart.
Annie didn't know how to approach the 'we' part, since it wasn't exactly accurate.
"Well, Troy actually, once," she corrected him, "it was still your car, but he was driving."
Jeff almost winced. He remembered that night all too vividly; another one of his self-destructive bouts, involving Britta, voyeur Abed, and trying to prove a point.
"Yeah, I seem to recall that, but I mean, I've probably driven you home before. This can't be the first time," he said.
For a brief moment, Annie actually frowned in doubt, wondering if this really was the case and whether she had somehow forgotten the occasion, but she was quite sure she would have remembered a thing like that since she seemed to have an unhealthy weakness for him.
"Nope, I'm pretty sure this is a first, unless there was another time and I was unconscious or intoxicated and I'm usually neither," Annie replied, smiling awkwardly.
"Are you trying to say that the only time you'd see it happening is if you were high or drunk?" Jeff asked.
Annie paled slightly as she realized she had probably been slightly offending.
"No, of course not Jeff, that was far from my meaning, you misunderstood me, I was only implying I would have to be in a different state to – " she began frantically.
"Wow, Annie, relax, I was only teasing," he said quickly, laughing uneasily.
"Oh. Right, teasing, your thing, duh," she said clumsily, waving her hand.
"But honestly, you don't have to mask it with a joke, if I in any way made you feel that – " she began again, just as animated as before.
Jeff shook his head and smiled.
"Let's just enjoy our first 'driving you to your house', Annie."
"Well, flat actually, not house. And it's no big deal, but I guess we could enjoy the few minutes or seconds left," she mumbled, checking her phone for the time.
"It's close to midnight," he informed her.
"Oh, I thought it was a lot later, actually. I mean that party felt like forever, no offense to Shirley. But I'm not really into Religious Karaoke. And 'Jesus, Take The Wheel' seemed eternal to me," Annie confessed.
Jeff chuckled. "Trust Shirley to turn Jesus into American Idol."
"It was a nice birthday party though, even if it wasn't such a great party. One doesn't necessarily cancel the other one out," Annie affirmed.
"The jury's out on that, since even little Annie can't be bothered to defend it," he commented slyly.
"That's not my defining trait; defending everything, that is. My defining trait is fair argumentation and that's exactly what I did here," she corrected boldly.
"Someone's being modest."
"Shut up, I get to boast a little since I did break up Britta's fight with Shirley on the subject of euthanasia."
Jeff grimaced slightly, shifting in his seat.
"We're already on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Annie," he said, pointing at the view around them, "no need to make it any cheerier."
"Sorry, I guess my neighbourhood is not to your liking, or anyone else's. But I'm still in one piece, so it's not all that bad, it just looks bad, but I've grown used to it," she said, shrugging her shoulders in a way that meant she was preparing for an internal and external battle once she was out of the car.
Jeff stared at her with a mixture of sadness and pity and something else which he couldn't exactly figure out; something like remorse.
He suddenly stopped in front of one of the blocks close to Annie's building.
"It's a little bit further," Annie told him, looking out the window.
"You should find a new place. Soon," he said quietly.
She refused to look at him, keeping her eyes glued to the window.
"You can't keep living here. I know you think you can handle it, but it's been two years, isn't it time to...try and contact your parents again?"
Annie lowered her head in sadness.
"Can we not talk about this right now? I'm already feeling down," she muttered.
Jeff frowned. "Care to elaborate?"
"I can't exactly. It's just a feeling that will go away once I go to bed or wake up, or sometime in between. Don't you ever get sad for no reason and you feel you don't even need to know why you're sad?" she asked, turning to him this time and staring with her dark, blue eyes.
Jeff was arrested by those two clear, yet somehow muddled pools of light, tearing up the darkness around them and still making it more real and frightening. He had never heard anything resembling the truth before, but he felt she had come pretty close.
He shrugged, trying to make the feel of her words fade away.
"No, never," he lied through his teeth.
The light broke in half and it was never full again as Annie looked down.
He felt like kicking himself hard. A pang of guilt shot through him like a splitting headache and he realized he had blown his one chance of saying something honest.
"You're lucky," she mumbled.
"But – but it might be happening," he said quickly, trying to amend his mistake, his gaze resting on her dark hair. "You're contagious like that."
"Yes, yes, disappointing a mermaid with a bike chain...Oh, wait, no it was, choking a mermaid with disappointment, no, the other way around..." she babbled.
"Annie, we're probably not going to have this chance again since this is one of the rare times we are actually alone – " he began formally.
"Actually, first time alone since the end of school," she added meekly.
" – so I need to say this before people scream at me again and you punch the shit out of me, deservedly... I'm really, really, really sorry for doing what I did."
"Jeff, it's been a year..."
"I'm still sorry. I feel more awful than usual. I've never felt this bad since I was a kid. Which sounds pathetic, I know, but it's the unbearable truth."
Annie sighed in her all-knowing fashion, as if this was old news to her.
"I know, Jeff, you've already apologized, it's not necessary..." she trailed off tiredly.
"No, I haven't, not really, not enough. That was then – I may be a giant asshole all the time, but I can't let that hurt you."
"Sure you can, it's not like you control your effect on people, no matter how protective you try to be, it's going to happen at one point," Annie argued.
"It's not about being protective, I don't like being the dad of the group all the time. It's about kissing you and blowing you off like some random girl with no name from my phone list," he explained.
"Let me guess, because I am so much more than that?" she asked.
"Yes. And no. I mean you are, but not in the way that - Damn it, I'm trying to apologize for real and it's not working."
Annie shook her head slightly amused.
"What could you have done, Jeff? Maybe I needed that, I mean, you couldn't have let me down easily, that would have been worse and I would have resented you. And you couldn't have just constantly led me on with mixed signals either, because that would be equally wrong..." she trailed off again.
The hint was too obvious to miss, even the tone of her voice, even the unassuming words.
"But I have...Shit, I really have," he confirmed.
"Once again, you can't control your effect on... people. You said it yourself, you have chemistry with everyone," she joked.
"First time I really regret it," he commented bitterly. He ran a hand through his perfectly combed hair. Messy hair was equally attractive anyhow.
"I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I guess it means you're changing. I don't get it though."
Jeff looked up questioningly.
"Why now? Why the sudden change?" she asked.
"What do you mean?"
"When I told you something was going on between us, you refused to accept the idea, so why are you suddenly seeing it now?"
Jeff felt the sweat trickling down his back and the heat in his chest rising to his head.
"It's not that I see it now, it's that I acknowledge the fact that I could have been a lot more careful and not kept playing with you or given you false hope. I should have just laid it out straight."
"You did, in the beginning. And then you got side-tracked."
"I lost focus of what was important. And I'm sorry again for letting you believe something stupid. You don't deserve that."
Annie clenched her fists slightly, trying to hide her growing irritation.
"Right, something stupid. Well, having put all this information together, it would seem you feel sorry for kissing me and then for making me think you wanted to kiss me."
"That's not exactly – "
"But it's close to how you feel, right?" Annie asked, staring him down.
Jeff closed his eyes in frustration.
"How can you be so childish one moment and then turn into my mother the next? You're too old for your age and still, you're so young, it's scary," he ranted.
Annie grabbed her backpack tightly, almost as a sign of defiance, and opened the door.
"I should probably go now, before I ruin your apology. I'll talk to you, later, Jeff," she said, meaning to get out.
He suddenly pulled her hand down and she fell into her seat again with a slight thump.
"It was Abed actually."
"What?" she asked confused.
"Me accepting the fact that I was...not being entirely objective with you. I sort of came to grips with that after I heard you kissed Abed."
Annie's face broke into complete disconcertment.
"How could that - ?"
"There aren't many times when I can relate to Abed, so this is actually important, I guess. I just knew what would happen. I could already see it. You two kissed, but he's emotionally unavailable, so he'd blow you off and you'd get the short end of the stick...again. And he would do it unconsciously because he is...Abed. But when I did it, I did it because it was too complicated and I didn't want to feel responsible, I was lazy and I just – I was a huge, dumb kid, okay? "
Annie smiled sadly.
"So that made me realize that maybe I was not exactly over that kiss and that I was...more or less preventing you from getting over it too," he finished.
"Yeah, big oh. Draw any conclusion you feel is necessary."
Annie put her chin in her hand pensively.
"I can't, I can't even make sense of any of this. We both want something, but it's not each other, but it has a lot to do with each other, but it's too complex and hard, so we don't even try to explore it. Then again, maybe it doesn't involve exploring after all. Maybe it's just that I'm young and you're...older. But it can't be just that, I mean not after everything that happened which is still in no way conclusive. God, what a mess."
"No, I think you actually summed it up pretty well," Jeff said, giving her a crooked, tired smile.
Annie leaned into him slightly, trying to take the burden off her shoulders. Her head collided with his arm and she tried to say something that would somehow make things clear. Her efforts didn't amount to anything more than a loud, overly dramatic sigh.
Jeff looked down at the tiny girl thinking hard into his shoulder, biting her lip in frustration.
She looked up suddenly and noticed his stare.
He seemed to take this as an invisible cue and he lowered his head towards her with a goofy smile on his face, as if this was just another making-out moment in the string of many others, his lips hovering expectantly over hers.
"What are you doing?" she suddenly asked, jumping up, her eyes wide and glassy.
He sighed, trying very hard to push his thoughts away.
"Might as well just go with it now, Annie," he said in resignation and closed his mouth over hers once more.
She didn't jump this time.
After a couple of minutes, they got out of his car and he walked her to her apartment door, not trusting to leave her out front with those kinds of people lurking about.
The silence between them was pregnant but not uneasy. It was as if something had been sealed and shut. Fait accompli. Like there was nothing they could do about it anymore.
They liked each other a little more than they should have and they had not gone into it at all; they had cowardly avoided the much needed analysis of their relationship and had gone straight for physical reconciliation.
This time though, come autumn, they would probably have a hard time going back to square one.
And by the look Annie gave Jeff when she shut the door and the way he stared back even when she was gone, they wouldn't have to.