Author's Note: I've noticed there are way more Jeff/Annie shippers than Abed/Annie shippers writing stories and that makes me feel left out so I finally listened to the little voice in my head and decided to write a story of my very own. It's one the ways I can imagine Abed and Annie finding themselves in a relationship that's not so platonic. I hope it seems reasonable and not too OOC. I really enjoy the show and studying the characters. That, and I've read a few Dan Harmon interviews over the years so I hope I have an okay grasp on them by now.
This takes place after episode 309 but before episode 310 (after foosball, before glee Christmas). A word of warning to the kids: I am a grown woman. I write with a 28 year old's frame of mind. Sorry if there are adult themes here.
Much love to any potential readers and please give me a shout out if you like my story. I'll keep writing it if people are interested enough. Oh, another warning—it is heavy on the Jeff and Annie in the beginning. Sorry about that. Well, not so sorry seeing as how Joel McHale is H-O-T. But honestly, in this story, it's just a means to an end. So don't worry.
Chapter 1: A Healthy Dose of Naïveté
"So what are you up to the rest of the day?" I looked up from the stacks of index cards I was binding and then compartmentalizing into the hidden pockets of my backpack to meet Jeff Winger's sky-blue eyes.
"Not much. I was thinking of going to IKEA to pick up a new desk because my old one is falling apart. But seeing as how those two—" my eyes darted to Abed and Troy, who were in Inspector Spacetime costume and already out the study room door, "—are busy, I guess I'm gonna have to wait until this weekend."
I brushed some loose strands of hair to the side of my face and blew a tired breath. It had been a long day. The study group's first major biology exam was coming up fast and I was exhausted from all the prep work I had been doing in order to compensate for that F we'd received at the start of the semester. And now that it was almost four o'clock and I had dotted my I's and crossed my T's, all I wanted was to lie down and relax. But being Annie, a part of me really wanted to go and get that desk, too. I had marked it down as one my errands to be completed by the end of the week. That, and I had found it increasingly difficult to study out in the living room. There seemed to be a steady stream of Call of Duty that was hard to filter out, even with the help of my headphones and some ambient sound scapes.
"Why don't you ask one of the girls?"
"Shirley's taking her kid to the dentist. Britta's taking her cat to the optometrist. And I doubt either of them, even between the two of us, is strong enough to lug a seventy pound box of plywood up three floors."
"Box?" Jeff's forehead furrowed inquisitively.
"Oh, I forgot. You're not well versed in the ways of cheap furniture. IKEA is a place where broke college students, like me, go to get a futon for eighty bucks. Only catch is you've got to put it together yourself."
"It's actually quite stylish." I slung my backpack over my shoulders and gave Jeff a wan smile, uncaring of his skepticism.
"Did you ask Pierce? I mean, you are his favorite."
"Uggh, that's elder abuse, Jeff. Do you want Piece to throw out his back? The last thing we want to do is give him an excuse to start loading up on the painkillers again."
"Well, if you want…" Jeff trailed, his eyes lingering on the scoop of my neckline while I pretended not to notice, "we could go get it together."
"Seriously?" I stood up a bit straighter and my voice brightened. Was this the same Jeff Winger who had feigned the swine flu two years too late to get out of helping me move? "You'd be willing to do that?"
"Sure, why not?" He shrugged and rocked back on his heels, as if to suggest it was no big deal. "I've got nothing else going on right now."
"Let's go!" I was two steps ahead of him before he could retract the offer. Maybe if I was really nice, he might offer to help me assemble the damn thing!
"Best. Day. Ever!" I pranced on the tips of toes as I raced up the last few steps of stairs. "I really, really, appreciate this, Jeff. You have no idea."
I opened the door to my, Troy and Abed's apartment to let Jeff in and stepped aside.
"Ah, it was nothing," he huffed, setting the box down gingerly just inside the apartment. I couldn't help but notice that despite the fact that his biceps were practically bulging out of his sweater, Jeff seemed rather red in the face after that last flight of stairs. Biting my lip to keep from chuckling, I flipped the light switch.
"What can I get you?" I said eagerly, not wanting him to leave just yet. "Are you thirsty? Come on, you've got to be thirsty."
"I am, actually. What have you got?"
"All of the basics." We walked over to the kitchen and I opened the door to the fridge. "Orange juice. Mineral water. Special drink. Beer-"
"Beer?" He craned overhead to see proof of purchase. "You have beer? You're not even twenty-one yet."
I frowned at the note of disapproval in his voice, playful though it might be. Since when had he cared? I wasn't a baby, after all. And I absolutely hated it when Jeff talked down to me.
"Yeah, but Troy and Abed are."
"Someday somebody's gonna have to write a sitcom about the worst Jehovah's Witness and Muslim ever."
"Oh, they don't drink that often. It's mainly for me." I met Jeff's eyes in challenge as if to dare him to object. Holding our gazes steady for a beat, Jeff was the first to break.
"A beer would be great," he said breezily, swiveling around and walking out of the kitchen to take a good look at the apartment.
Perfect, I thought to myself. Now he'll want to stay a while. But I was no longer aiming for him to stay simply to put together my desk for me. In spite of how he'd just annoyed me, Jeff had actually been surprisingly sweet during our little trip to IKEA. He'd cracked jokes, asked lots of questions about my days of penny-pinching and slum-living, and had seemed genuinely interested in my responses. I forgot how nice he could be when he wanted to, and like so many other hapless gals, I was a sucker for that Winger charm. Jeff was a good friend. And we hadn't hung out much all by ourselves lately. And should this innocent hang out session lead to anything more, well, then that would be the icing on the cake…
"Here ya go!" I chirped, coming up behind him and handing him the beer bottle by its neck. I had another in my own hand. It was extra cold against the heel of my palm but I was already feeling sort of hot and flustered just having him here so it balanced me out.
"How is it living with those guys, anyway?" Jeff muttered, peering down at me with that sort of smoldering intensity he always seemed to affect, regardless of his demeanor.
"It's awesome," I told him, and I could say it without a moment's hesitation or even a trace of irony. "I mean I've never lived with anyone other than my parents before so maybe that's why it seems so great but it's been working out well. We all have our designated tasks. Story time: me. Adjusting the water pressure: Troy. Documenting each and every designated task: Abed. Oh, and we take turns cleaning. And cooking. Troy put aluminum foil in the microwave two weeks ago but aside from that it's been smooth sailing."
"You guys never fight over anything?"
"Not yet. And I don't see it happening unless it's something big. I mean Troy and Abed are not just my best friends, they're like the brothers I never had. And they treat me like a princess. Literally." I giggled. "The other night I was presented with an actual scepter and tiara before we played a few rounds of Mario Kart."
"Ah, Mario Kart." Jeff's voice sounded far off. "One of my fondest memories of living with Abed."
"See? You already know how great it is."
"Yeah, but that was just Abed. I've never had to deal with the two of them at the same time. They don't ever, uh, try your patience a little?" Jeff nudged me ever so slightly with his elbow. Even though he was grinning furtively and doing it in jest, the touch alone made me suck in my breath nervously.
"Sometimes," I sputtered, working hard to keep my voice relaxed. "But they're really good about realizing when they're doing it. We're all still figuring out how not to annoy each other."
Jeff must've noticed that bit of awkwardness on my part because he stepped back in order to take a healthy swig of his Newcastle.
"At least they're not trying to have you on Troy and Abed In the Morning yet."
"Actually I was on last Thursday," I said, sipping my own beer as I tried to gauge his body language.
"What did they interview you about?"
"Adderral. It was a public health episode."
He smirked. "Are you gonna be back?"
"Depends. Troy says he's preparing a list of 'girly-type' questions to ask me next time. I think he's getting ideas from Cosmo because I snuck a peak at the list and it read 'Ryan Gosling' plus 'bikini wax'. Also, they want me to bring in a bunny for show and tell."
"Are you going to have to pay for the little guy out of pocket?"
"Actually I was thinking of getting one myself," I confessed. "I sort of like the idea of it. Abed says it'll be like Chandler and Joey and their pet duck. Also, I was never allowed any pets growing up. Other than the semi-annual goldfish."
"Yeah, I always wanted a dog. But my hardass father said no and for some reason, my mom seemed to think his word was law even after he left, so…"
Jeff's voice grew quiet and he looked down at his feet. Observing him just then, I was reminded of the fact that even though he was fifteen years older than me, there were so many times that he looked like a lost little boy.
"I get that," I said, taking a tentative step forward. "After Dad left Mom she seemed to take on a lot of his hang-ups. She even stopped eating dairy and he was the one who was lactose-intolerant. Weird, huh?"
"Weird, all right." Jeff lowered his beer and stared at me intently for a few long seconds. The room seemed to darken and I licked my lips anxiously.
"So how often do you drink nowadays, Annie?" He leaned over and clinked his bottle against mine so gently that it was hardly audible. But the change in his voice was.
My mouth went dry from the way he was looking at me. "Oh, I don't know. Now and then."
"Still a lightweight?"
"I can hold my own." Jeff nodded almost imperceptibly, and in the moment, I swear I could see him come to a decision.
"So do you want me to put that box in your room, or what?"
"Yes," I said softly, feeling the air between us crackle with electricity. "Bedroom's fine."
We dropped all pretense. The butt of my beer bottle jutted against the mid of Jeff's back and his clacked my shoulder as I reached up and he reached down. People might think that a kiss between two people with such a disparity in height could prove to be mega-awkward but, let me tell you, with Jeff's warm hand cupping me beneath my miniskirt, well, I didn't even care.
After two and a half years of footsie and stolen glances and heaps of denial and this-n-that and back-n-forth Jeff Winger and Annie Edison were finally getting somewhere.
Jeff's strong arms were wrapped tightly around my small frame as our teeth clashed together in nothing short of fervor. It wasn't an elegant kiss, to be sure, but that didn't make it any less sexy. His five o'clock shadow was scratching my chin and I was all the way up on the tiptoes of my lavender ballet flats but no matter! Just a few clumsy steps backwards and we'd be in my bedroom, at long last. And it would be hot. And fierce. And everything I'd wanted it to be.
It would be perfect.
My mind was already racing with a heady mixture of arousal and expectation.
I'd be Jeff's girlfriend from now on. After this, how could I not be? And he'd stop sleeping around and worrying about all the pointless material things in his life because he'd realize that this is what was meant to happen. This was the reason he'd lost his job and had to go to Greendale. The reason why he'd landed in our oddball study group in the first place. And this was the reason why I'd been so unpopular in high school. Why I'd suffered so much and had become addicted to pills. Why I had lost my scholarship to the University of Colorado and wound up going to Greendale myself. The parallels were obvious. And it was all worth it. It would all be worth it if we could finally be together.
I would finally be the hot chick. With the cool older boyfriend. And Jeff would finally be in love and feel fulfilled. I could see the pieces of so many late-night fantasies coming together now.
Me, me, me. Us, us, us. Jeff, Jeff, Jeff!
I gasped into Jeff's open mouth as my free fingers dug against the scruff of his neck. God, he smelled good. And his hair was so soft and his skin so warm against my fingertips. I moaned. Groaning himself, Jeff wheeled us around, intending to back me up to my bedroom as I had predicted.
And then… he shoved me away.
I stumbled, a bit of beer spilling onto my cardigan as I tried to regain my footing. I looked down at my wet clothes and up at Jeff, furious and more than a little hurt when I saw that his head was turned.
I froze and my heart leapt into my throat as I heard the front door squawk open. Jeff looked panicked for all but one second before he put on a mask that just plain astonished me. He seemed cool as a cucumber. And I'm sure I was doing us all kinds of disservice because what I felt in that moment was equal parts wonder and horror.
"Hey, Jeff. Hey, Annie. What's up?" Abed closed the door behind him and stared at the two of us with wide unassuming eyes.
"Hey, Abed," I said. A little too quickly to be perceived as casual. "What are you doing back so early? Weren't you and Troy supposed to be filming 'til eight?"
"No, that's tomorrow. Troy has a late football practice tonight so we were just doing dress rehearsal."
Abed looked from me to Jeff, and then Jeff to me. And I knew, just knew, that even though he had learned enough tact not to say anything, Abed had already figured out exactly what had been going on before he came in.
He probably predicted it, the damn witch!
"I was just helping Annie out with her new desk." Jeff said evenly. Offering an explanation that Abed hadn't any need of.
"I can see that," Abed said, glancing down at the box and then up at us, his face as neutral as Switzerland. Maybe ten seconds passed with nobody saying anything, but for whatever reason, it felt like an eternity. "Yeah, well, I'm gonna go take a shower right now, kay?"
I swallowed hard. I had been living with the boys long enough to know that Abed usually showered in the mornings. He was playing oblivious and giving us a clear out and if I wasn't so worried about Jeff's reaction to the fact I would've hugged Abed then and there.
That's my boy, I thought affectionately, retracting the witch comment.
"Okay. We'll be right out here." I shot Abed a grateful smile and he nodded solemnly, making his passive way to the bathroom.
The door closed behind him and then Jeff and I were left all alone in a room of stark silence.