Title: 5 Clichés That Didn't Lead To A Kiss and 1 That Did (6/6)
Genre: Romance, humor, slight angst, shameless cheesiness
Summary: The end of the title says it all.
Disclaimer: I don't own Community and I make no money off of it.
A/N: This is it, folks. I can't keep putting it off any longer. Thanks to everyone reading this. Hope you enjoy it! :)
"That's... no, left a little. Almost there. There! Smack it!"
Jeff swung the pillowcase at the camera, tossing Annie a bemused look. "I'm not knocking it down, just blocking it. And I'm only doing that because of your paranoia." Satisfied that the black cloth would do the job well enough, he stepped down from the stool, looking around them. "I can't believe I'm doing this. The things we won't do for Abed."
Annie, still focused intently on the camera, probably mentally knocking it down with a baseball bat, nodded slowly. "Are you sure we shouldn't just-"
"I'm sure, Annie. I'm not going to add vandalism to the evening's events." He stretched out on the bed closest to him with a sigh-it had the best mattress, great for his back-folding his hands behind his head. "You know, old-me is cringing right now."
"What, you mean lawyer-Jeff didn't do things like this?" She sat on the other side of the bed, gesturing around the department store.
He snorted and closed his eyes. "If you mean, did old-me go on zany, madcap adventures and sanity-lacking capers, then, no. Dinners, meetings in gentlemen's clubs, strip clubs, and exclusive clubs that I'm pretty sure had membership rules from before the civil war, yes, but overnight trips to stores to recreate movie scenes? No."
"Hm." She shifted beside him on the bed. "Old Jeff was a stick in the mud. I think I like the new Jeff better."
He opened his eyes, turning his head toward her. She didn't remember their conversation the night she'd gotten her stitches. The night she'd curled up against him and then fallen asleep. The night he'd realized he cared more about her than he had a right to. No. More than he wanted to.
The night he'd given in and lain beside her for a brief time before springing out of bed out and sitting on the couch.
Two weeks had passed and he still expected her to accuse him of perversion in the first degree. But, so far, there'd been nothing except surprise that he was still there the next morning.
And his own surprise at how much his walls were crumbling and his protestations were diminishing.
"What about Annie?" he asked, trying to get his mind off of his recent back and forth of feelings. He wanted her, he couldn't have her, he could have her, but he shouldn't. He would have her, but he- and there he began to lose steam and flounder for reasoning.
His feelings had no business making him think of them now, not in the mattress section of a store with beds surrounding them.
"Old Annie would've had a fit." She smiled a little, eyes far away. "She was all rules and regulations and study, study, study. But, since I let my hair down, metaphorically-"
"And physically," he reminded her, darting his eyes up to the ceiling, trying not to remember that study session.
"-and physically, I've loosened up a bit. I like to think so anyway. Old Annie would never do this." She gestured around them. "Or this!" She climbed on the bed and bounced a few times before dropping down again; hair wild, face flushed, eyes bright.
She was breathtaking.
Jeff felt his heartbeat double as he watched her. She made him feel young and free and as wild as her grin as she breathlessly chuckled.
Lying beside him, breathing a little heavier from her sudden attack of the bounces, she rested her hands on her stomach and stared at the ceiling.
"Old Annie would be appalled by the new Annie."
"Well, then, I like new Annie," he murmured, eyes on her lips. Inviting. Parted and waiting.
"She likes you too." There was an awkward silence as their eyes locked. They both looked away at the same time. "So, why isn't Britta your Kim Catrall?"
Startled from his trance, he darted his eyes back to hers. "Because I purposely made it sound as bad as possible so she wouldn't want to come."
She laughed and turned on her side, facing him with her head propped in her hand. "What did you do that for?" Her hair fell over her shoulder and his fingers itched to brush it back, but she beat him to it.
"Uh, because she's Britta? Vacuous and mannequin-ish, yes, but I didn't want to spend hours alone in a department store with the buzzkill."
"So, I got to be Emmy and Britta gets to be Thelma to Shirley's Louise?" She frowned. "I'm not sure I got the better deal here."
He silently huffed.
"And Abed and Troy are carrying Pierce around for a Weekend At Bernie's. Jeff, do you ever think we have extremely weird lives?"
"All the time."
She smiled, a pleased sound leaving her lips as she lay back again. "I should find something to wear. Or did you want to do something specific? Ooo, like a theme!"
Jeff rose up on one arm, gazing down at her. The lighting in the store was dim, but the moonlight was shining through the front windows, their final destination for the night. He hadn't thought too hard on what they'd wear, but he knew he wanted something in a suit and Annie in an evening gown. Beyond that... "We'll figure it out."
She turned a concerned look his way. "We shouldn't put it off. What if we can't find anything we like? What if- are you sure your friend is okay with us doing this?" She eyed the camera, which was dead and covered up thanks to her paranoia.
"It's fine." He settled back again. "George owes me. I got him out of a ticket a few years ago."
"Oh. That was nice of you."
"He paid me, Annie."
"Still. Hey, what about something sporty? Or, oh, you could be a pilot and-"
"We're in a small department store in Greendale, the best they have here is cheap Halloween costumes, which are gone because it's well past the New Year. I was thinking evening wear."
A grin curled her lips and she nodded, eyes brightening. "How very streets ahead of you."
"No," he warned, smile tugging at his own lips. "If you begin quoting Pierce, I'm leaving you behind to face the police alone."
She sat up quickly. "What? Jeff! I thought you said it was safe, that George-"
"Relax, Annie. I'm kidding."
Settling back on the bed so slowly that he counted to 22 before she was lying down again, she watched him warily as if she expected him to call her a sucker and make a run for it at any second.
His lips curved up again, chest lightening. "Gullible," he murmured, and before he realized what he was doing, his hand was on her cheek. When had she gotten so close? Her smile melted away as his lips hovered over hers. He shouldn't. Wouldn't.
Couldn't stop himself.
Closing the distance between them, he opened his mouth on hers. She met him halfway. It was a slow, lazy kiss, so different from all the others. He didn't feel that same sense of urgency he always felt with her, or the surprise that each kiss brought. He just felt comfortable and warm.
He slowed it down even more, then pressed his lips to hers once, twice, then a third time.
She smiled against his mouth. "What are you doing?"
"Pretty sure it's called kissing."
She pressed her lips lightly to his and then drew back a little ways, breath ghosting over his face. "Really, Jilly?"
"Lame." He wanted to kiss her again, but he was afraid that, if he did, he wouldn't be able to stop. And he really didn't want to stop.
He was weary. Tired of fighting this thing between them. Tired of constantly being aware of where his eyes or hands were in relation to Annie.
Rubbing his thumb along her jaw, he decided that he was done. He breathed a little easier for the first time in what felt like years. "I don't want to do this anymore." Before she could do more than stiffen beside him, he traced her cheek, so soft and warm, and continued. "I'm tired of pretending I don't want you. That this isn't something that I think about on an average of 30 times a day. Aren't you?"
She nodded, brow lowering, mouth turning down. "It's kind of exhausting." Her hand fidgeted with his shirt hem, eyes raising to his. "I'm not even sure why we're doing it."
Sliding his hand down her shoulder and arm, he drew in a breath. "You're young, and I'm... not."
"I don't care."
He nodded, because, at that moment, he didn't care either. Her hands fisted in his shirt, big eyes watching him, waiting for his next move. Letting him dictate their relationship. Instead of kissing her again or pulling away, he closed his eyes. "What do you want to do?"
The bed shifted as she shrugged against him. "I don't know, this seems like a really good idea right now." They were pressed leg-to-leg, shoulder to arms. And it felt awesome.
"And later?" Damn his newborn sense of morality, rearing its ugly, baby-sized head. It'd be nice if he could just take what he wanted from Annie without his conscience bothering him. When had he gotten one of those anyway? Smoothing his palm down her bare arm, he inhaled her scent; strawberries and Annie.
"It seems like a really good idea later, too. Mr. Magoo." She grinned against his lips before coaxing his open for another slow, wet kiss.
One that started his blood boiling, in a languid way.
"Now, you're just Britta-ing."
"Is that a thing? Really?" With a shrug, she cuddled into him. "Okay, I'm Britta-ing. So, sue me, Lucy Liu... ee." She giggled, and the lighthearted sound released something in his chest. Had he heard that sound over the past year?
Not as free and open as that. It was a beautiful sound.
"You need to laugh more often."
She smiled and closed the hairsbreadth between them, lips moving slowly over his, no urgency, no raging hormonal passion driving them to tear at one another, just a nice, lazy kiss that turned into mild petting.
Which turned into harsh breaths and exploring hands.
Jeff drew back, staring at Annie, trying to catch his breath and ignore the hand she'd slid inside his shirt. Her fingers were half under his jeans, tickling his stomach. "Did you leave your oven on?"
"No. I-" She glanced pointedly down at his hand, which was cupped around her breast, under her blouse. He didn't remove it. "We have to get dressed before they get here." She nodded to the clock on the wall.
Jeff stretched atop her, peering over his shoulder at the clock. Shit. They'd been making out 40 minutes. He jumped up, freeing her hand from his jeans, though it almost pained him to do so. He was fully aroused, but ignored it for the time being. Later... later they would address this and many other things.
For now, evening wear.
Annie darted up, straightening her clothes and smoothing her hair with little looks tossed his way.
Annie found a black dress that drew his eyes to all of her assets, which were actually pretty well-covered, but hot, too.
She beamed under his admiration and gave a tiny curtsy. "This old thing?"
He frowned, thinking she needed a hat. A glittery hat. With- ah. He wrapped his hand around hers and drew her back to the women's section, grazing through rack after rack for what he wanted. The lights were mostly off, so he was going by moonlight and streetlamps through the windows, and a couple of emergency lights here and there.
Annie huffed out an annoyed, "Jeff, I can dress myself."
"Trust me." He handed her a hat. "This'll blow Abed's mind." He tilted the hat to one side, admiring his work. Close. "Jewelry."
"No, we shouldn't touch that. Aren't there alarms or something?"
"We'll use the fake plastic crap." He headed toward the jewelry counter, spinning the displays, on the lookout for anything that looked like what he needed. "No. No. No- why do so many of these things say 'slut', 'bitch', and 'princess'? Doesn't this send the wrong- ah, found something." Pulling the small, plastic-tagged, fake-diamond encrusted necklace free, he handed it to Annie.
"Trust me." He spun the display, finding a pair of large earrings that were as close to what he needed as possible considering how much fashion had changed since the 80s. "These too."
She looked at them. "Fine, I'm trusting you, but they're kind of ugly and old lady like."
"On." He tilted the hat again, frowning. "This isn't working."
"Oh, good." She tossed the earrings to the glass counter case and took off the hat.
"I meant because of your hair. You need to do something with it. I'll get the guns while you curl your hair. What you need is over that way." He pointed behind her and to the right. "Aisle three."
"You do know you're getting into a really weird sort of micro-managing thing here, right? Also, guns?"
He leaned forward, pressing his lips lightly to hers, but then found that he couldn't pull away right away. Moving closer, he plastered his body against hers, pushing her back until she hit the display case.
She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Couldn't we just do this instead?"
Breathing a little heavier than before, he found the strength to pull back, found the part of him that hated himself and forced it to take over and deny him something he truly, truly wanted. So very much. "No." Forehead resting against hers, he squeezed her waist and stepped back. "When we're done here, we'll do lots of this instead. But for now, go that way and do that thing I said because I don't remember-"
"-guns, right. I'll be getting guns." He couldn't resist one last, quick kiss to her smiling lips. And then he headed off to the toy department.
"How should I curl it?" she called, heading in the opposite direction. "Also, you're quite cushy with where the hair products are."
"I've been known to shop here. And just do... big curls? Waves? I don't know. Think noir, but with an 80s twist."
"And that narrows it down," she muttered.
Jeff chuckled and left her to it, heading across the store to the toy aisle. His hormones, so firmly in check for the entire time he'd found himself attracted to Annie, had suddenly fallen by the wayside, dropping to the ground like rotting apples. He could hardly control himself now. He needed to get that control back.
But it was nice to let go for once. To let himself have the thing he'd been denying himself for a year and a half.
"Am I allowed to know who I'm being or is that a super secret thing between you and Abed?"
He made a few last second adjustments to her hat and necklace before turning her to the mirror. He stood in front of her, blocking her view, pressing a soft kiss to her lips, reveling in the fact that he could, whenever he felt like it. It was nice and pleasant, and who was he kidding? It was awesome.
"If you don't get this, fair warning, there'll be no more of this." He kissed her again and moved out of her way.
She slapped lightly at his arm before straightening and gazing into the mirror. After a good 20 seconds, a smile slid up her lips, turning into a full-fledged Annie-grin. Beautiful. "Oh, my god." She clapped her hands over her mouth, and gave a little hop, wide eyes shining brightly. "I can't believe I didn't realize... I've seen this movie only a dozen times. My dad and I used to watch old 80s movies on the weekend. He said that my life wouldn't be complete without them, even the cheesy ones. Ooo, where's my gun?"
Jeff handed Annie the toy Uzi he'd found. "Can we please place a moratorium on how I remind you of your dad?"
"You don't," she said absently, posing with the gun. Fluffing her hair a little, she turned and leaned against him kissing him lightly. "You're nothing like my dad, Jeff. Nothing like him. You look nothing alike, you sound nothing alike; you are nothing alike. Really."
Nodding, he wrapped an arm around her waist. "Just so we're clear, because nothing deflates an intimate moment faster than being told you're like the parent of the woman whose pants you're trying to get into."
He tipped his hat, holding up his own Uzi.
"And, how is that outfit Jonathon Swisher? Oh! You could dress as Santa and we could be Reggie and Star Trek guy."
"You're 80s movie knowledge is still appallingly lacking. Abed would shed a tear."
Annie smiled at him in the mirror, her eyes so soft and fond that he wanted to look away. He didn't. This was part of what they were now and he wasn't going to hide from it. "Abed's lucky to have a friend like you, Jeff. I mean, the Pulp Fiction thing for his birthday was awesome. And this, just because one of his shows was put on a few month's hiatus."
He shifted a little, uncomfortable under her scrutiny. "Hey, it's something we all agreed to do."
Pressing a light kiss to his cheek, she returned her attention to their reflections. "You're just a big ole softy. You can hide it and pretend all you want, but you're a marshmallow under all the bluster." She fiddled with her hair some more, watching him in the mirror between fluffs. Shifting her hat, she shrugged a little. "Maybe a little burnt around the edges with a crispy exterior, but-"
"No, I'm not, Annie. I'm a cruel, cynical old... er man who hurts people. I hurt people and I like it-"
Turning, she leaned against him with her hands flat on his chest, smiling against his lips. "But you don't mean to."
He went still, wondering if she remembered him telling her that the other night at her apartment. Did she remember any of it? Did it matter? This was what he'd wanted; Annie. Whenever he wanted to touch her, whenever he wanted to make love to her, and whenever he wanted to...
Sighing, he caught her chin in his hand. "You know I care about you, right?"
His chest tightened when she twisted her lips up and hesitated before nodding, wide eyes watching him, but not with trust. Maybe that was best.
Maybe it wasn't, because it hurt.
It broke his non-existent heart.
"I've hurt you, Annie. How many times now?" Setting the toy gun on one of the shoe displays, he brushed off her denials with a hard kiss. "I'll do it again. I can't stop hurting people. But I don't want to hurt you, and that's one reason that I didn't want this-" he pointed between them, "to happen." He stopped, shaking his head, staring into the darkened distance behind her. "Actually, that's not true. I always wanted this to happen. I just didn't let it."
Annie stared at him blankly for a moment before bursting out laughing. "God, Jeff. Have you not met me? Or Britta or Troy or the rest of us? We're not un-crazy. In fact, I'm pretty sure we're certifiable to some degree. We're dysfunctional. We hurt one another." She shrugged, sobering with a teasing smile still lingering on her lips. "I smashed your head into a table, punched you in the nose, tried to mace you-"
"Did I ever mention how adorable you looked when you apologized? The mascara smudges were especially endearing."
She grinned. "Shut up." Snuggling into him, she wrapped her arms around his waist, and his own arms automatically went around her. " I'm sure we're going to hurt each other-I'll probably end up shooting you at some point-but is that any reason not to give this a try? Just because of bad things in the past?"
Feeling his chest lighten again, he suppressed his smile. "Being shot? Bonus. Will it be a purple, glitter-covered bullet?"
Rolling her eyes, she drew back. "Ignoring your dig at my awesome taste in décor... finish getting dressed and let's get this freak show on the road, because we have lots of insteads to do." She smacked his ass and grabbed her gun, posing with her head raised to the side, gaze on the ceiling. "I'm going to rock this thing like Steve McQueen."
"Yeah, you are, Jones comma Star."
"You bring out the best in me." Maybe it wasn't all sorted out, and maybe it would end badly, but he was in it now, and could no longer find it in him to regret the decision for a single second.
They were going to be epic.
Jeff ended up changing into a beige suit that didn't look anything like an 80s suit, but with the hat and his gun-something Annie had insisted on-he thought that if Abed squinted he'd see it. "Next time, we bring our own clothes instead of scrounging for whatever we can find."
He posed with the gun in his arms, trying to look like a g-man with an 80s bent. Really it was just an oddball mix of genres and movies.
"But it's more fun like this; like a treasure hunt!" She glanced back at him, dropping the curtain from the doorway. "I can see them coming. They parked really far away."
"Probably to raise the anticipation."
"Right. Ooo, I like that pose. Very handsome." She kissed him and stayed pressed against him. Their lips languidly explored one another's mouths. He couldn't seem to keep his hands or his lips to himself now that he didn't have to.
Thankfully, she had the same problem.
"We should get into position."
"Yeah, we should," he enthused, pushing her back against the doorjamb, letting her feel every inch of him that he could. Every inch of him that strained to come into contact with her. Every inch of him that wanted nothing more than to lay her on one of the beds and worship her body.
After having her a few times to get the immediate passion out of their systems. He had his limits.
She giggled, tearing her mouth breathlessly from his. "In the window, Jeff."
"You wanna do it in the window? Well, well, well." He leered suggestively and began walking her that way.
That cooled his ardor a little. "Right. Window." He drew away, breathing heavily, but trying valiantly to mask it. He was so used to pretending around her, that it took him a few seconds to remember that he didn't need to hide her affect on him anymore.
Peering through the curtain, she gasped.
"They're here!" Clapping her hands, she jumped and ran to her position, stilling in her pose; one knee bent, head tilted up to the side, gun in her hands.
"Shh! Get into position."
He heaved a sigh and stood beside her, gun aimed straight at the window, but just before he pushed the button to send the curtains sliding open, he turned to face her. Her eyes shifted his way, but her head stayed as it was. A smile fluttered around her lips before disappearing behind a mask of stillness.
Dropping his suit jacket to the floor along with his gun, he quickly repositioned himself, settling his hand on Annie's neck, thumb raised along her jaw, mouth hovering over hers. There was no faking the intensity of his gaze.
He pressed the button, which sent the curtains sliding open.
Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Abed and the others gathered in front of the window. Abed stared at them for a second, and then another, while Jeff's anticipation amped up a few notches. He really wanted Abed to like it.
Because he was, officially, a Greendale Pansy; trademarked, copyrighted, stick a fork in him, he was done.
"Jeff," Annie stage-whispered, lips unmoving. "I can only she 'iercshe, and he'sh ashleep in a 'eelchair. Doesh A-ed like it?"
Abed's eyes widened and he nodded, clearly saying, "Niiiiiiiice." Grabbing one of the cameras around his neck, he flashed a few pictures, then picked up his camcorder and began filming them from different angles.
"He likes it," Jeff whispered back, interrupted by a sudden knock on the glass.
"Hey, Jeff," Abed said faintly, yelling to be heard, "is that from Gone With the Wind or Star Wars: Episode V?"
Offended, Jeff broke the pose and turned toward Abed, arms out. "First of all, Gone With the Wind? Really? Second of all, it's The Empire Strikes Back. I don't acknowledge the prequels."
"Not acknowledging what came before doesn't make them any less important or relevant."
Jeff glanced at Annie. It was true. Even after everything they'd been through; the punch in the nose, the macing, the head slam, and all the things he'd said to Annie just to hurt her and keep her at a distance, had led to this moment. His distancing techniques hadn't worked, and he couldn't have been happier.
Still, on principle, he wasn't in the mood for deep, tv-themed lessons. "They came after, Abed. And they sucked."
Abed stared at him, unblinking, then, "Can you get back into position?"
Sighing, giving Annie an annoyed look when she snickered at him, he moved back into position. Annie's eyes shifted to his, and he felt like the heat had been turned up by a gazillion degrees.
"Too bad there aren't any zombies stalking you."
"Ohhh," Troy squealed, hopping up and down with a grin. "That'd be awesome. Can I be a zombie? Please, please, let me be a zombie, Abed!"
Jeff barely heard the excited voices of their friends; barely acknowledged Britta's satisfied smirk aimed their way. Didn't notice the way Shirley was avoiding looking at them, and hardly saw Pierce's approving leer. Troy and Abed talked about a zombie/Star Wars crossover film with a Gone With the Wind tilt to it, but Jeff tuned them out.
Annie's eyes stayed on his and he found his mouth lowering to hers.
As their lips met, he decided that friends and lovers could, sometimes, mesh into something awesome.
He'd have to thank the dean someday. If not for him, Jeff wouldn't have wanted to hide. He wouldn't have taken Annie with him. Wouldn't have gotten caught, wouldn't have gotten sick. Wouldn't have happened upon Annie being flattened by Chang, and wouldn't have realized he loved her while watching over her as she slept off a drunken stupor.
If the dean hadn't blackmailed him into doing the dunk tank to keep Annie from flunking a class... they'd probably still be fighting this. Still be watching one another through lust-colored glasses, but doing nothing to slake that lust.
"It's all your fault," he murmured softly against her lips.
She grinned. "I accept full blame."
So. I'm sorry if you were expecting big sweeping music and an epic kiss to rule them all. I had to buck that cliché, too.
Here's a short list of Things You Might Not Have Gotten:
- the movie they originally went there to pose as was Mannequin, starring Kim Catrall and Andrew McCarthy.
- the movie Annie ended up being from/talking about was Night of the Comet. She was Reggie from the scene at the mall.
- the Santa dude from Night of the Comet was Robert Beltram, who also played Chakotay in Star Trek Voyager.
- the pose Jeff and Annie were in from The Empire Strikes Back. (can't link in here, so Google The Empire Strikes Back kiss)
- the pose Jeff and Annie weren't in from Gone With the Wind. (can't link in here, so Google Gone With the Wind kiss)