Title: Dangling Kisses (1/1)
Genre: Slight angst
Summary: Written from tilie12's prompt over on milady_milord's Ficcy Friday post on LiveJournal.
mistletoe prompt: When the gang catches Jeff and Annie in the middle of a mistletoe lip lock Annie claims that it was just because of the mistletoe/in the authenticity and spirit of Christmas. Jeff realizes that he wanted the kiss to mean more than just a casual mistletoe smooch
Disclaimer: I don't own Community and I make no money from it.
A/N:The fic turned out a little different than what the prompt called for.
Christmas really wasn't a favorite time for Jeff. There were too many memories of him and his mom, and one extra stocking hanging on the wall. They'd never had a fireplace.
Every year, she'd hang the stockings with a cheerful glance at Jeff. Every year, she'd take his dad's down with a forced smile.
Jeff was glad his father hadn't come home; his mom might've chosen to forget the misery they'd suffered through, but Jeff hadn't.
So, every year, when Greendale was lit up with lights and tinsel and the flow of good cheer that only appeared for a few weeks in December, Jeff got extra cranky. Shirley had softened him somewhat their first year. And Abed's breakdown had made him rally around his friend. But, in general, Jeff hated Christmas.
The glee club certainly had done nothing but help those feelings along this year.
As weird, awkward, and not Annie as the whole situation had been, she'd given him new, pleasant memories of the holidays. He'd simply imagine Annie more like herself when he remembered her display... and he would definitely be remembering it a lot.
For now, the glee club was disbanded and back to being just a study group.
After the concert, he headed into the study room for one, last look around before leaving for the break.
Annie was there, turning to leave just as he got there. "Jeff!"
He was sure that most of that was the awkwardness that was now between them rather than the surprise of seeing him.
Jeff just wanted them past this awkward stage they were now in, but it was going to take some time. And space. Christmas break couldn't have come at a better time. "Annie-"
Her eyes darted up and she stepped back with wide eyes.
Afraid something-Chang-was about to fall on him, he moved further into the room and looked up. A sigh of relief left him along with a small shudder of anticipation. Had she hung the mistletoe? It hadn't been there earlier.
"The dean's hanging them everywhere." She grinned, eyes bright. "He's probably looking for you as we speak."
"Too bad for him. He's definitely not my type."
"Are you sure? Kiss From A Rose?"
Jeff groaned, humiliated and embarrassed anew. "I'm never going to live that down, am I?"
"Nope!" Her smile was infectious and carefree for a moment until she remembered the awkward and let it slip away. That was what it was like now. Hopefully, after they got back from break, after some time had passed, it'd be pushed behind them like so many other things they'd managed to get past.
"Why'd you do it?" he asked at the same time as she stepped forward and apologized.
"I'm sorry. There's this weird thing between us now and I don't know how to fix it." She stopped with a sharp exhale, sounding annoyed with herself. "Stupid Glee Club! I don't know what to do, Jeff. Can't we just go back to how it used to be?"
You mean with slightly less awkwardness and a hell of a lot of pretending? he wanted to say, but didn't. "Why'd you do... that?" he asked instead, needing to know. "What were you thinking when you came up with the... everything?"
"Other than the brainwashing thing?" She shrugged, looking slightly ashamed. "I... I thought it was what you wanted."
He stared at her incredulously. "Baby talk and the brains of a five-year-old? That's just insulting."
"Well! Look at the women you 'date'... I mean, Quendra with a freaking QU? I have Theatrical History with her; she's no rocket scientist. The dean's assistant. Pierce's step-daughter!"
"Professor Slater. Britta. You!"
They both fell silent, staring at one another.
"You're not dating me," she finally told him quietly.
Ignoring the near-accusation in her voice, he rubbed the back of his neck. "I didn't date Quendra either. I only used her to keep Rich from getting into the group."
"I know. We all knew. But, Jeff, you're so dang confusing! I know you say relationships are complicated-and they are-but I don't know what to do. Every time I try to... not do this, you get jealous."
He didn't even try to deny it. They both knew it was true. "So, you cheapen yourself to appeal to my baser instincts?"
"I didn't think that far ahead. I just did it." She didn't look ashamed, and he felt proud of her. Little Annie Edison was coming into her own. But then she followed up with, "Did it work?"
A scoff left him before he could halt it. "Well, yeah, the outfit did. The rest?" He shook his head. "It lost its appeal almost immediately."
She sighed, moving closer, looking like she wanted to say something, but then stopped herself. She opened her mouth again, and the words were sad. "I don't want to do this anymore. Can you just... stop?"
Jeff was pretty sure she wasn't just asking him to stop projecting his jealousies onto every man she hinted at being interested in. There was also the underlying desperation of a question she needed answered. Wanting to say yes, but unable to, her remained silent. He couldn't guarantee that he wouldn't attack the next guy she introduced them to. And he couldn't just stop his feelings for her.
Losing her patience, she threw her arms out to the side, then smacked them on her thighs. "Jeff! You go out and... and have sex all the time, but if I even think of finding someone else, you turn into a raging asshole."
Startled at the insult and slightly impressed that she'd gotten it out without stuttering, he silently agreed with her. "I know." It was true that he went out a lot, and had sex a lot, but he wondered what she'd think if she found out that nearly all the women he'd been with for the past six months bore an uncanny resemblance to her.
He liked to think she'd be flattered, but he was pretty sure she'd think it was gross.
Startling him, she darted forward, pressing her lips to his in a soft, firm kiss.
One of his hands immediately went around her waist, hauling her to him, while the other pressed to the back of her head. Just like all of their other kisses, this one made him lose all thought. When Annie was in his arms, when she was kissing him, all he could do was feel. The press of her lips, the sweep of her tongue, the way her chest rose and fell against his.
He wanted to stay like this forever, getting the best of both worlds; kissing and feeling her like he always wanted to, but not going any further or needing to make decisions about where it was all going.
Hands filled with warm, willing Annie.
She tasted of candy canes and promises. This time, he wasn't bringing the kiss to an end, not right away.
He wasn't going to see her for a few weeks unless they got together, which wasn't acceptable. So, he was getting his Annie fix.
Unfortunately, she drew back with a shaky breath that burst over his face. She hovered there, balanced in his arms, just breathing. "Goodbye, Jeff." She pulled back and he realized that he was the only one who needed to disentangle himself after the kiss. Her hand, the only part touching him, lingered on his jaw for a second before it fell away.
Her eyes were heavy, sad, full of lost hope. Her goodbye was for more than the winter break.
It hit him with a suddenness that landed square in his gut. This was a final goodbye to them.
She took one step, then stopped, staring at the doorway.
Jeff turned to find the rest of the group in various states of disappointment and disapproval. He sighed, about to diffuse the situation, but Annie beat him to the punch.
"Relax, guys. Mistletoe?" She pointed up, then glanced his way. "It didn't mean anything."
Jeff exhaled as if he'd been punched.