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When Jeff's alarm goes off at eight o'clock that morning, the rhythmic beeping startling him from sleep, he reaches out and smacks it off the nightstand in a haze of confusion. "It's Saturday," he mumbles as he rolls over, reaching for Annie. But his hands only come up with an empty expanse of cool sheets. He blinks a couple times, a muscle in his jaw twitching, and then growls and shoves his pillow over his head.
They had been up late into the middle of the night, floating lazily around the pool and drifting easily between long silences and too much talking. Jeff rolls his shoulders back at the sense memory of her wrapped around him, locking into him such a sense of security that the words had just poured out of him. Unstructured sentences tumbling from his mouth for no purpose other than to just talk. To her.
The mattress shifts and Jeff peeks out from under the comforting darkness of his pillow to see Annie sitting next to him and leaning over to pick the alarm clock off the ground. Her hair is pulled into a neat ponytail and she's already dressed in a t-shirt, yoga pants and pair of pink Converse.
"Britta and Shirley are going to be here in a few minutes and I want to get an early start before it gets too hot. I set your alarm for you," she answers in response to his unasked question.
"Remind me not to thank you." He flops over onto his back, flinging his arm over his face overdramatically.
"Don't be a baby." Annie slides her hand over his bare chest, scratching lightly, and then rests her palm on the mattress so she's leaning over him. "Jeff," she whispers close to his ear so that he shivers and reaches blindly for her.
"Call them and tell them we need an hour. Or two." His arms circle around her to make her stay and for a moment she relaxes and peppers a few soft kisses along the curve of his shoulder, but then she pats his hip and shrugs away. Jeff's arms drop to his side.
"C'mon. If you don't get up I'll send Shirley in to sing her 'Rise and Shine' song. I know how much you loooooooove that," Annie sing-songs out the door.
Jeff mutters a few choice obscenities under his breath as he watches the space she's disappeared from in the doorway.
Under the threat of a cheerful and God-loving Shirley he manages to drag himself out to the living room a few minutes later, yawning widely and tugging on his jeans but leaving them unzipped and low on his hips. He has his shirt in one hand and he's about to pull it over his head when he stops short. The pile of boxes containing Annie's belongings has migrated toward the front door, stacked neatly and all of them closed tight with packing tape. The now empty corner they had taken up space in all summer by his television looks strangely bare.
"How long have you been up?"
"Since about five-thirty. I couldn't sleep," Annie calls from the kitchen.
Jeff fidgets with the shirt in his hands. Three months ago he hadn't even been looking for a roommate, had been perfectly content on his own because other people just got in the way and made a mess of everything. But now that she's leaving, everything packed up so neatly, it's starting to hit him with an alarming clarity that makes his chest ache, how large a space she's actually leaving behind.
It makes him feels small, like he doesn't fit here anymore either.
He scrubs one hand over his hair and casts a frown at the empty corner before locking himself in the bathroom.
The counter has been cleared of all her toiletries and it's not until he's patting his face dry, water still dripping off his chin, that he notices Annie's left her toothbrush sitting next to his in the cup by the sink. He glances toward the shower and even though her shampoo and conditioner are gone there's a pink razor sitting at the edge of the bathtub.
"You're an idiot," he tells his reflection.
Annie's sitting on the counter in the kitchen holding a mug of coffee in one hand, thumbing at her phone with the other. I made-" she starts, but Jeff cuts her off, stepping between her legs and taking the coffee from her hand as he curls his fingers against her neck and leans in to kiss her with a demanding urgency. She makes a high pitched squeak in her throat but fists her hands in his shirt and tilts her head up to meet him with equal pressure.
He releases her a moment later, hands sliding down to her hips and over her thighs. Annie blinks up at him questioningly and touches the back of her neck like she's not sure what to do with her hands.
"I hope you're not expecting to ever use my shampoo," Jeff adds as he reaches around to grab a piece of toast off her plate. "That shit's expensive."
Annie starts to frown but her eyes flicker toward the bathroom and her cheeks go slightly pink as her face relaxes into understanding. She nods once at him and then sighs loudly and bats at his hand.
"Get your own breakfast."
"You're not even going to feed me today?" he asks with an indignation that is belied by his wide grin as he hands her coffee back and leans over to pour himself a cup. Annie watches him, an affectionate softening in her eyes. Her lips part as if she's going to say something but instead she reaches up to fix an errant piece of hair over his ear, fingers lingering and feathering down the side of his neck.
They're quiet for a long moment until someone knocks loudly at the door and Jeff tilts his head back with a groan. "Please tell me those are the surprise movers you've hired in order to avoid subjecting your friends to a Saturday of manual labor."
"Don't whine." Annie slips away from him and out of the kitchen and Jeff follows after, scowling into his mug.
"Finally. You better have coffee," Britta bursts into the apartment before Annie even has a chance to open the door all the way, her words garbled around the blueberry muffin she's shoved in her mouth. She grabs the mug out of Jeff's hand as she passes him.
Shirley remains in the doorway, her eyes a little dark. "I made muffins."
"So I see from the trail of crumbs Little Red Robin Hood just sprayed all over my carpet." Jeff looks up from frowning at his now empty hand.
"That was Hansel and Gretel, dummy," Britta calls from the kitchen.
Annie smiles in thanks at Shirley and waves her in, taking the platter of muffins from her hands. Jeff pauses, looking caught, and then scoffs. "Whatever. Different stories, same shitty kids learning pointless life lessons."
Shirley and Annie eye each with similar looks of exasperation.
"This is going to be a long day," Shirley mutters.
After a thorough search of all the apartments to rent in the larger Greendale area it had been decided that they wouldn't be able to afford a three-bedroom apartment, much to Abed and Troy's dismay. There had been discussion about fashioning a blanket fort into another room but Annie had shut down that idea immediately with what Troy deemed her "scary eyes." In the end she compromised and gave them free reign of the walk-in linen closet along with an offhanded remark about size not mattering when imagination was involved.
Abed had narrowed his eyes at that, knowing she was bullshitting, but when they arrive at the apartment that morning he had goes directly to the closet, scans it like he's taking mental measurements and then proclaims it perfect. He and Troy step inside and shut the door behind them.
"I knew it." Shirley shakes her head with a sigh and a pleading look heavenward.
"Oh, no. Count me out. The last time I played Seven Minutes in Heaven I got puke down my shirt and my hair stuck in a bicycle spoke."
Everyone stares at Britta and she holds up her hands in a defensive motion.
"It wasn't my puke."
It takes four cars, Andre's borrowed truck, and two trips to the storage unit Annie's been renting all summer to get everything to the new apartment. Troy and Abed come with minimal baggage – clothes, a vast DVD collection, two bean bag chairs, the new bunk bed they won't stop talking about, a wide screen TV, and a assortment of homemade costumes the Dean would be jealous of – but Annie has enough to outfit an apartment entirely on her own. By the time the majority of her furniture is moved in to the third floor apartment everyone is exhausted and grouchy and covered in a thin sheen of sweat.
Her mattress is the last thing that needs to be carried up and Jeff and Troy are left in charge of wrestling it out of the truck and up the stairs as everyone else begins to unpack boxes in the apartment. They make it to the landing of the second floor and are starting up the next flight of stairs, Troy at the head and Jeff at the back, his shoulder braced against the mattress.
"Troy," Jeff grunts. "Lift and pull."
He's met with a pitiful whimpering. "I can't. My arms aren't listening to my brain anymore."
"Just…" Jeff tries to move forward a little, his own arms feeling weak and jelly-like. "Fuck it. Put it down." Troy obeys without question and they both let the mattress fall out of their hands. It hits the floor with a thud, wobbles unsteadily on its side and then flops forward to the ground. The ensuing noise echoes up the stairwell.
Troy leans heavily against the wall. "I feel dizzy. I can't feel my feet." His eyes widen as he looks down and sighs in relief. "Oh good, they're still there."
"Troy. Shut up." Jeff drops to the mattress and stretches out on top of it and Troy practically melts down next to him, planting face first and letting out a muffled moan.
A few moments later they hear someone call out from the top of the stairs. "Jeff? Are you guys okay?" Neither of them answers and Annie peeks her head around the corner, eyes narrowing when she spots them.
"Ew. You guys. The floor's dirty."
"And that's why we're laying on the mattress," Jeff says without opening his eyes.
Troy lifts his head and cranes his neck back to look at her. "Sorry, Annie." His face is flushed, sweat beading his hairline, and his eyes are glazed over. Annie watches him warily.
"You're not going to throw up, are you?"
"Don't worry about me, Annie. I'll be fine," Troy lets out a long-suffering sigh and rests his head back down.
Jeff scoffs. "She's not worried about you. She's worried about the mattress."
Annie huffs, fists clenched at her sides as she winds herself up to tell him off but Jeff lifts himself up to lean back on his elbows and shoot a perfectly arched eyebrow raise in her direction. She glares at him and the corner of his mouth lifts into a crooked smile that means he's about to enter lawyer mode.
"Annie. It's nearly a hundred degrees outside. Over the last few hours we have carried up two of your absurdly heavy dressers, no less than twenty boxes of what appear to be every schoolbook you've used since Kindergarten, and enough clothes to outfit an entire Banana Republic. We're tired."
Troy chooses that moment to roll over onto his back, arms splayed out at his sides. "This is worse than two-a-day football practices when the coach wouldn't let us take water breaks."
"But," Annie scrunches up her nose. "You guys are all sweaty."
"Hey, if your mattress doesn't have a little bit of sweat on it then you're using it wrong. Amiright?" Jeff grins down at Troy, who nods knowingly, and then back up at Annie. He waggles his eyebrows and she lets out an exasperated sigh before turning around and flouncing back up the stairs.
Jeff's almost positive though that he can see the hint of a smile twitching at her lips before she disappears.
A moment later two water bottles come tumbling and rolling down the stairs toward them, and Troy has to duck and roll away as one flies towards his face and crashes into the opposite wall.
"Thank you!" Jeff yells into the stairwell, trying to school the laughter out of his voice.
They eventually get the mattress all the way up the stairs and into the apartment and Jeff goes to work setting up the bed frame while Troy slips back into the linen closet, from which a series of odd hammering and electric power drill noises emanate sporadically for the rest of the morning.
Britta sets up her ipod to play while she and Shirley begin to unpack boxes in the living room and Annie hums along to the steady stream of classic rock as she goes to work on the kitchen, unwrapping her mix-matched assortment of thrift store purchased dishes from their carefully packaged boxes.
"Your bed is assembled, Milady," Jeff drawls as he drapes himself into the doorway of the tiny kitchen. Annie smiles and pauses in what she's doing to grab a bottle of water from the fridge.
"You sure you don't want to throw it at my head again?" His fingers brush purposefully against her wrist as he takes it from her.
"I didn't throw it at your head. I tossed it. Gently. Milord," she adds with an extra bite that makes Jeff grin.
He gulps down about half the bottle, his eyes darting over towards the noise in the living room where Shirley and Britta are bickering over music selection. Jeff notes that only Shirley's visible from where he's standing and takes a step further into the kitchen out of view. Annie's returned to her task and has her back to him and she jolts in surprise when he crowds her further into the counter.
"Jeff," she murmurs warningly.
He sets down his water bottle and circles an arm around her to press his palm low on her stomach. "Don't care," he whispers as he leans in to brush a kiss at her neck.
Annie tilts her head to the side for a moment, closing her eyes and relaxing into him and it's only when Britta starts singing loudly to the music that Jeff pulls away reluctantly.
"No!" he shouts towards the living room and leans back against the opposite counter with his arms folded over his chest.
Annie looks over her shoulder at him and shakes her head disapprovingly.
"You could make yourself useful."
"You know, I seem to remember some kind of deal at the beginning of the summer about me not helping in any kind of moving process."
"You offered this time."
"No. You assumed."
"Well you didn't not offer."
Jeff smirks. "Just like you didn't not-" He jerks away as Annie cuts him off with a backhanded swat to his stomach. "… NOT enjoy the comforts of my apartment all summer. And this is how you reward me."
"I thought you were going to say something dirty."
He tsks. "Wow. You really need to get your mind out of the gutter."
Annie only raises a skeptical eyebrow and turns away from him with a little hum. Jeff watches her for a moment as she kneels down to open a box at her feet, then groans dramatically and pushes away from the counter to help. She hands him up a dish and he sets it on one of the cupboard shelves.
"What's the rush to unpack? It's not like the apartment's going anywhere."
"I'm tired of living out of boxes." Annie spreads out her hands in front of her, appraising the kitchen from her vantage point with a nod of satisfaction "And it'll be nice to be in a place that really feels like mine."
Jeff nods slowly, considering as he takes another dish from her. "You could have," he trails off. There's a flush of embarrassed warmth up his neck and from the corner of his eye he can see Annie watching him. He shrugs, "You could have used my closet. Or dresser. You could have asked. I mighthave said yes."
"Might have?" she asks softly and he still refuses to look at her until she pokes him and walks her fingers up his leg, tickling lightly when they slip under his shirt. He jerks and grabs her hand, pulling her up to her feet and tugging her close, trying to look mad and failing helplessly. Annie grins back.
"Besides," Jeff clears his throat as he releases her. "You commandeered the rest of the apartment pretty fast."
"I did not!"
"You rearranged my kitchen without even asking."
Annie waves her hands dismissively. "I just moved a few things around. I couldn't reach anything before."
"Oh. So, this is going to be a problem then?" Jeff's eyes widen with a mischievous glint as he bites at his lower lip and points at the cupboard where's he's placed all the dishes on the highest shelf that Annie wouldn't be able to reach even on tip toes.
"Jeff. Put them back."
"Hey. You didn't not tell me to put them there."
"How old are you?"
Jeff raises an eyebrow and then quickly darts toward her to lift her up with his hands under her arms so that she's eye level with the top shelf, her legs dangling a foot off the ground. She yelps and squirms in his arms but he holds her steady.
"Guess you'll have to keep me around. Or we could just get you a footstool."
Annie's face warms pleasantly as laughter bubbles out of her. "You'll just look for any excuse to work out your biceps."
Jeff spins around, dropping Annie back to her feet as he goes to find Britta and Shirley standing on the other side of the counter, each wearing a varying array of judgment and amusement on her face. He coughs and points at the cabinet. "I was just helping Annie unpack."
"I'm sure you were," Shirley intones doubtfully as Annie busies herself stuffing all the loose packing paper back into the empty boxes and Jeff just continues standing awkwardly in the middle of the kitchen with his arms at his sides.
Britta rolls her eyes. "Whatever. We're going to go pick up some food."
"Oh great!" Annie chirps without turning around. "Thanks guys!"
Jeff waves them off, managing to plaster a large smile on his face when Shirley throws a stern backwards glance at him over her shoulder and as the door shuts behind them he lets out a long breath.
"They're going to kill me."
"Aw," Annie reaches up and touches his cheek. "Don't worry, I'll protect you."
"And what makes you think they won't be after you, too?"
She only laughs in response.
A few moments later as Jeff is moving all the dishes to a lower shelf Troy emerges from the linen closet, walking with stiff, jerky movements. He has a tie looped around his head and he's covered head to toe in boxes – smaller boxes open on both ends around his arms and legs, his feet encased in shoe boxes, and one large box around his torso that he's cut holes in for his arms and legs and filled to the brim with packing peanuts so that his head looks like it's floating on a sea of styrofoam.
He looks like a giant cardboard robot.
Annie and Jeff both stare at him.
"Did I hear someone say they were going to get food? I'm starving."
"What… is that?" Jeff manages.
Troy looks down and grins. "I'm Robo-Geisha."
"Giesha?" Annie wrinkles her nose in confusion.
"Like a ninja." Troy makes a karate chopping motion that sends a handful of packing peanuts cascading towards the floor.
"That's not what a…" Annie starts hesitantly, but Jeff shakes his head at her, his eyes alight with potential amusement. He leans back against the counter and assesses Troy with a mocking seriousness.
"So what are your powers? If it fits it ships?"
"Do you offer overnight delivery?" Annie joins in with a giggle.
Troy's eyes narrow. "What are your powers? Pooping all over parties?"
Jeff snorts and Annie can tell from the look on his face that he's about to say something that has the power to make Troy cry so she settles her hand on his arm, squeezing lightly.
"Sooooooo, who's looking forward to school starting next week?" She does a little shimmy of excitement but Troy and Jeff both stare at her, incredulous. She backs away from Jeff slightly. "Wrong audience."
Troy shrugs. "The History of Ice Cream should be cool." His face goes a little dreamy. "Apparently you start each day chanting, 'I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream', the midterm is test to see how much ice cream you can eat without getting a brain freeze, and the final is a public debate about the best flavor."
"Cookies and cream," Jeff and Annie both say at the same time, their eyes darting toward each other in amusement.
"Uh, pretty sure it's Rocky Road, dummies."
At that moment Abed comes bursting out of the linen closet, wrapped up to his neck in brown packing tape, a tape dispenser in each hand. There's a tinfoil mask covering half his face. "Ah-ha! Robo-Geisha. It is I, your nemesis, Stickpuncher. You're about to find yourself in a… sticky situation." He punches one of the dispensers in Troy's direction.
"Jeff and Annie ruined it," Troy sulks and Abed lets down his guard and pulls his mask off with a frown.
"You guys are wasting all my tape," Annie whines and then gasps as she finally notices the words "bedding and pillows" written in her handwriting on the back of the box around Troy's torso. "Are those my boxes?"
Abed nods. "We ran out." As Annie's eyes get continually wider he adds quickly, "Don't worry. We left everything on your bedroom floor."
Annie's fists clench at her sides as she draws herself up and squares her shoulders. Everyone backs up away from her to a safe distance. Jeff shakes his head at Troy and Abed.
"Man, someone didn't read the Roommate manual."
"Maybe if someone had filled out their questionnaire," Troy hisses out of the corner of his mouth.
"It's okay." Annie's taking deep breaths. "It'll just help me unpack faster. But." She points at Troy and Abed in turn. "We will be having a conversation about boundaries in the near future."
Troy and Abed both look suitably chagrined but just then the front door slams open and Pierce appears in the hallway wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt, a puka shell necklace and a deep orange tan. He spreads his arms wide. "I'm back, bitches."
"Pierce!" Annie greets him happily.
"Pierce," Jeff grumbles as he follows her out of the kitchen.
There's a tall woman behind Pierce wearing turquoise leggings, a gauzy black blouse and a line of bracelets up each arm that jangle whenever she moves. The only picture they'd seen of her previously had been blurry so it's surprising to see the lines around her eyes and the spattering of gray in the strawberry blonde hair she's pulled back into a butterfly clip.
Pierce drapes his arm around her. "Everyone, this is my wife, Connie.
Connie clasps her hands together, her long manicured nails clacking against each other "And of course you all don't need any introduction. Pierce has already told me everything about you."
"Yeah, but how much of it was right," Jeff mumbles under his breath.
"You must be Ay-bed. And Annie." Connie pauses and points between them. "Look at that. We're one step closer to peace in the Middle East right here."
Annie and Abed look at each other in confusion but Connie barrels on, grabbing Annie's hand and holding it to her chest. "And Annie, I know you think of Pierce as a dad. I want you to feel free to think of me as a mom." She laughs. "A cool mom, of course. That goes out clubbing with you, and buys you drugs, and gets mistaken for your slightly older sister."
Annie's eyes are wide. "Okay."
"And Troy, Pierce's African American friend." Connie's smile becomes exuberant. "I can't tell you how excited I am to meet you."
"You can just call me Troy," he says slowly as he shakes her hand.
"It all makes so much sense now," Jeff says quietly, continuing his commentary from behind Annie despite the dirty look she throws over her shoulder. Connie takes notice of him and looks him up and down with an appreciative leer.
"Well aren't you a tall drink of water?" She touches his bicep lightly, and then firmer when she feels the muscle there. "He's even better looking than you described him, Pierce."
Pierce clears his throat. "Jeff, keep your hands to yourself."
Jeff sinks into a corner of the couch that's been set up against the wall near the window to the fire escape and stretches out his legs to prop them up on one of the boxes Abed and Troy haven't gotten to yet. He drapes one arm over the back of the couch and watches with a faint smile as Annie and Shirley spin around each other singing along loudly to a Police song he's always hated. After pizza and several rounds of beers everyone is in much higher spirits and even Annie had gladly put a hold on more unpacking in favor of turning the rest of the day into an impromptu party.
Britta and Connie are chatting in the entrance of the kitchen as Shirley and Annie dance around them and Britta's eyes are a little apprehensive as she nods slowly in agreement to whatever Connie's saying. Pierce leans into their conversation at one point, interrupting his argument with Troy and Abed over the last slice of pizza and a moment later Britta yells, "Pierce, that's offensive" while Connie just laughs and bops Pierce on the nose with her finger. Abed and Troy use the disruption as an opportunity to quickly tear the debated slice of pizza in half and shove it in their mouths.
The song changes to something more mellow and Jeff takes a long pull of his beer and closes his eyes. A moment later he feels someone settle next to him and a smile tugs at his lips.
"How did you know it was me?" she whispers and he opens his eyes with a grin. She's leaning into his side under his arm with her legs tucked up under her. Her face is flushed pink from the alcohol and dancing and Jeff clutches at his beer bottle tighter to keep from reaching up and running his thumb along her jaw line.
"Well, it was either you or Troy, but he's usually not so cuddly in front of people."
Annie laughs and looks over her shoulder at the rest of the group before coming in closer so their faces are only inches apart. There's a challenging gleam in her eyes and for a split second as her gaze flickers down to his lips he thinks she's going to kiss him. He raises an eyebrow in curiosity, but then she just sighs and backs away.
"I don't like having to share you," she says with a slight pout. She doesn't look at him, but scratches her nail lightly over a faded spot on his jeans. Jeff swallows hard, unsure of what to say to that other than he's been feeling the same exact way all day. He reaches up and flicks at her ponytail.
"We could run away."
She looks up, smiling. "Where would we go?"
"Hmmm." He squints at her in thought. "Somewhere warm. So you could wear a bikini." He almost expects an eye-roll or the harmless smack of her tiny hand against his chest but she only hums like the idea appeals to her and presses her body closer to his.
"Annie," Troy calls from the kitchen. "Where did you put the bottle opener?"
"In the-" Annie pats Jeff on the leg and pops back up to her feet. "Hold on, I'll get it for you." She crosses Pierce on her way back to the kitchen and Jeff considers getting up to follow her before resigning to the inevitable and settling back into his corner of the couch. Pierce eases down next to him.
"Finally. I thought she'd never leave. I want to talk to you, Jeff."
"Is it my birthday?" Jeff asks dryly before chugging down the rest of his beer.
Pierce laughs and barrels on. "I know me getting married has been difficult for you."
"Not at all."
"You've lost your wingman. Your Goose… Actually." Pierce rubs his hands together as he thinks. "You're probably Goose. I have more of that Tom Cruise charisma the ladies love."
Jeff nods. "You know, what? I'm going to allow it."
"You don't have to thank me. I know I upped your game. But now the late nights drinking scotch surrounded by an all-you-can-eat buffet of redheads with long legs and fake boobs are over."
"We never did that. Thank. God."
"So I know exactly what you're thinking. How could Pierce go and marry someone and give up such an awesome bachelor lifestyle?"
"Not in that order of words."
"Well, I'm going to let you in on a little secret." Pierce slings his arm around Jeff's shoulders and leans in close. "Sometimes, when you meet the right woman, you realize that you've been overpaying for the buffet."
"Pierce." Jeff tries to shrug him off but then something clicks and he blinks into the middle distance, trying to wrap his head around what Pierce is saying. "Wait, what?"
"There's a great big world out there, Jeffrey. And we tell ourselves that we need to see the entire thing, but the truth is, there's not really much point to it if there's no one to come home to at the end of the day."
"That… actually makes sense."
"You should come to me for advice more often."
"I wouldn't go that far."
"Don't worry," Pierce claps him on the back. "You'll find it some day. I've been lucky enough to find it eight times."
Jeff eyes him curiously. "You really did care about all of them, didn't you?"
"Of course! I can't say the same for them. I know some of them just married me for the money. I'm not stupid. But they were willing to put up with my crap for awhile so why should I complain?"
Pierce shrugs as if it's no big deal and Jeff huffs out a laugh, feeling an unexpected surge of fondness for the man next to him. He nods over towards the kitchen where Annie has joined Britta and Connie's conversation.
"Well, Connie seems great."
"That she is. I really lucked out this time." Pierce leans in close. "She's a former gymnast. She can do this thing in bed-"
Jeff purses his lips and starts shaking his head, "Nope. Now it's ruined." He stands up before Pierce can continue and is headed to the kitchen for another beer when he notices the man standing in the hallway near the front door. He squints in recognition.
Everyone turns to look at the new arrival and he holds up his hand in greeting.
"Uh hey, guys. I knocked, but…"
"Martin!" Britta yelps and darts forward to meet him, tripping slightly and stumbling into him in her haste. He reaches out to hold her steady, hands curling around her upper arms.
Annie's eyes widen in realization and delight. "Secret boyfriend," she breathes out.
"You guys remember Martin? From the Model UN?"
"Are you guys dating? Don't you hate the United Nations, Britta?" Abed's brow creases in confusion as he tries to piece together this new information and Britta laughs and shakes her head.
"I don't hate it."
"But you staged a protest."
"It was just a tiny, nothing-"
"Didn't you get tased by Chang?" Jeff supplies helpfully with a grin that only deepens when Annie turns around with a glare of disapproval.
"His hair is very long, isn't it?" Connie murmurs in the midst of the conversation, as if she's not sure if she's turned on or repulsed.
Britta huffs and holds up her hands. "Okay, no. I don't support unchecked power for elitist organizations that embrace narrow-minded viewpoints and hold up moral relativism like a shield-" She pauses to let the others groan their annoyance. "But that doesn't mean that Martin and I can't move past that and remember what's really important."
Everyone stares at Troy for a beat and then decides to ignore him.
Martin takes up where Britta left off. "Freedom. It's what makes this country great." He crosses his arms over his chest, his eyes going dreamy. "The system only works when there are still people to tell us that the system doesn't work. As the great Henry David Thoreau once wrote, disobedience is the true foundation of liberty."
Britta beams up at him and both Annie and Shirley coo their approval.
"Huh." Jeff nods. "Well, mazel tov. And don't forget to fill out paperwork with the Dean. Spoiler alert: there are no right answers to number three. Also, don't give him your cell phone number."
Britta scowls but Martin smiles at him in recognition. "Uruguay, right?"
"Only to my closet friends."
Pierce raises an eyebrow at Connie and she nods with an understanding "Ooooooh" and then leans in toward Jeff.
"I'm very supportive of the gays," she says with an encouraging smile.
Jeff stares at her. "Thanks," he finally mutters before dropping back to the couch.
The party starts to wind down as Britta and Martin take off and Shirley follows soon after to get home to her family. Pierce starts to make noise about how he and Connie need to get home too and after a few exaggerated winks at Jeff and Troy that make both of them cringe and Connie giggle Annie manages to scoot them out the door with promises to invite them back for dinner 'some time soon.'
Troy's mouth is turned down as if he's tasted something foul. "I guess it's cool that old people still have sex, but it's also wrong, you know?" He makes a motion with his hands like he's trying to figure out how it would even work but Jeff stops him with a shake of his head.
"As fun a conversation as this could turn into, I think I'm going to take off too, kiddos." He grabs his keys off the counter and flips them around his fingers. Abed barely acknowledges him from where he's organizing his DVD's and Troy's still looks deep in the middle of a mental tailspin.
"Bye, Jeff. Thanks for your help today." Annie gives him a one armed hug on her way back to the kitchen with a leftover box of pizza, waving him away casually. The door shuts behind him, sounding louder in her head than in reality and she has to pause in front of the fridge to let out a deep breath.
She's felt off kilter all day watching real life bleed into the sanctuary of their summer and it's been this internal fight to keep from holding on too tight, from missing something that's not even really gone. Moving in with Troy and Abed and giving her relationship with Jeff a chance to breathe feels like the right, logical, thing to do, but when Jeff had mentioned running away earlier everything illogical inside her had been screaming to grab his hand and sprint towards the door as fast as possible.
Annie spends the next ten minutes absentmindedly straightening and rearranging things on the kitchen counter before walking back out to the living room, yawning loudly and stretching her arms over her head.
"Wow. It's been a really long day. You guys must be exhausted."
Troy and Abed look at each other and shrug.
"With all the unpacking and carrying things all the way up the stairs." Annie yawns again and it catches and Abed yawns with her. "And it must have taken a lot of hard work to put together that Robo-Geisha costume."
"It was kind of hard to wear, too," Troy agrees.
"I bet! I'm surprised you can even keep your eyes open." Annie continues on about how much work there still is left to do in the morning and how nice it'll be for them to sleep in their new beds tonight until Troy and Abed are getting up, both yawning widely and heading into their room.
"I don't feel tired though" she hears Troy murmur as they shut the door behind them.
Annie goes to her room and closes the door loud enough that they'll hear it, waits a moment, and then slowly eases it back open just a crack so she can peer through the opening. With her nose pressed into the doorframe she steadies her breathing so she can hear any noises they might make. Everything is quiet so she slips out of the room again and tiptoes in bare feet past the kitchen to the front door.
Jeff is leaning back against the opposite wall in the hallway outside, one ankle crossed in front of the other. He's thumbing at his phone and when she opens the door he raises his eyes to hers with a look of impatience. Annie shushes him with a wave of her hand before he can even say anything and grabs his wrist to yank him back into the apartment. As she locks everything back up, he slips an arm around her waist and nuzzles his nose against the back of her neck.
"That took forever," he murmurs.
Annie nods silently and spins around into him, pushing him backwards towards her room. They're halfway there when Troy's laugh rings out, muffled through the wall, and they both freeze for a split second and then dart into her room, stifling laughter as she quietly shuts and locks the door behind them.
"You just had to move in with them, didn't you?"
She answers him by launching herself toward him, knocking him back onto the bed and not wasting a moment before climbing over him and kissing him messily. Jeff steadies her, curling his hand around the back of her neck to thread his fingers through her hair and loosen her ponytail.
"It was a terrible idea," Annie manages to get out a few moments later as she bites and licks her way down his neck, her heart pounding at the frenzied need to drink in as much of him as possible. Jeff's deep answering groan buzzes out against her lips.
"The worst," he agrees, tugging her back up for another kiss.
Their hurried energy starts to melt into a slow lazy makeout and Annie sinks into his warmth, pausing to tuck her head under his chin and take a breath. His arms wrap tight around her, keeping her close.
"You think you're going to like it here, though?" he asks after a moment.
Annie nods against him. "I'm just happy I'm not going to have to deal with two am blue light special announcements and a transient who tries to pee on my shoes when I walk by every morning."
Jeff blinks up at the ceiling and shakes his head, choosing to let it go. "Yeah, but how are you going to handle Wally and the Beaver constantly getting into trouble?"
Annie leans up, her nose scrunched up in confusion and Jeff scowls.
"Okay, if this is going to work you're going to have to at least pretend to know my references."
She giggles and rearranges herself to straddle his hips and sit up with her palms resting against his chest. "I don't know Jeff, this is my place and if you're going to be hanging around we're going to have to set some ground rules. I can't have you bringing your landlines and classic rock and outdated-"
Jeff cuts her off by grabbing her waist and tickling up her ribs with a dark grin and she shrieks and tries to squirm away from him.
At the loud burst of noise he quickly flips them over and claps a hand over her mouth. Annie's eyes widen in realization.
"I know it's hard to be quiet with me, baby. But you're gonna have to try."
Annie puffs out a sigh of exasperation against his hand and yanks him back down to kiss him. He starts trying to say something else against her lips but she holds firm until he relaxes into her, pressing more of his weight against her. She skims her hands down his back and then under his shirt, pushing it up but not bothering to pull it off over his head before sliding her hands back down and into his jeans. Jeff groans loudly and arches his hips into hers.
She brushes her mouth across his cheek and down his neck where she sucks at the delicate skin under his ear, "You're gonna have to try to be quiet, baby," she whispers with a smirk.
Jeff snorts and turns his head to peck a kiss to her lips and brush his nose against hers before leaning up on his knees to pull his shirt over his head and toss it aside. Underneath him Annie wiggles out of her shorts and then together they tug her shirt off and meet for another kiss, more desperate this time as Jeff reaches behind her and starts shoving pillows off her bed so that they go knocking into the nightstand and send a lamp toppling over the edge with a crash.
Annie gasps and fists her hands up at her mouth as Jeff freezes with his eyes clenched shut. They both wait in silence but no one comes to investigate the noise.
"We should have just gone back home." Jeff mutters as he rolls off her and onto his back.
"This is my first night living here, Jeff. I have to…" Annie pauses to think of the right word as she leans over the side of the bed to pick up the lamp and set it back on the nightstand. "… actually live here."
Jeff makes a noise of discontent, but curls his arm around her as she slides down and settles against his side. They lie quietly, Annie trailing her fingers over Jeff's chest in random patterns and occasionally scratching lightly in spots she knows he likes, making him shiver from her touch. She smiles, ducking her head against him, constantly overwhelmed at the effect she has on him.
There's a slight breeze blowing in through the window she had opened earlier, cool against their skin and when Jeff shivers again Annie sits up reaches for one of the blankets that are still folded in a pile by her nightstand. At her movement Jeff lifts his head and looks down his body to where his feet are hanging several inches off the end of the bed.
"There's something wrong with your bed. There's no way this is regulation sized."
"You're not regulation sized."
Jeff raises an eyebrow, "I haven't heard you complaining. Unless you've been saving that for cocktails with Carrie and Miranda."
Annie snorts as she unfurls a blanket to drape over them. "Right. That's going to happen. I think my Carrie and Miranda would prefer I save that for my diary."
"Diary, huh? Is that around here somewhere?" Jeff reaches an arm toward her nightstand. "I'd like to take a look at that."
"Jeff! No!" Annie quickly tackles him back down to the bed, straddling his hips and pinning his hands to the mattress.
"Dear Diary," he continues in a falsetto. "Jeff is too good at sex. Sometimes I'm afraid the orgasms are going to actually make me lose my mind."
Annie scoffs. "Dear Diary, I was too busy fishing for compliments to make out with my awesome girlfriend." She eyes him darkly. "That was you."
Jeff grins. "Yeah, I got that." He leans up, breaking Annie's hold on him, to kiss her softly and run his thumb along her jaw. Annie slings her arms around his neck and tilts her head to the side as she regards him with a soft gaze that makes his cheeks go faintly pink. He shakes his head at her, trying to school his features into an indifferent smirk.
There's a knock at the door then and they both go still, eyes sliding toward the door.
"Annie." It's Troy, whispering loudly. "Are you awake?"
Jeff and Annie communicate silently with widened eyes and it takes Annie a moment to compose herself and answer calmly, "Yeah?"
"Oh good. Abed and I were thinking about making pancakes tomorrow. Is that okay?"
Jeff rolls his eyes and Annie's shoulders relax in relief. "That's fine."
"Cool. Um. Do you know how to make pancakes?"
"Yes Troy," Annie responds patiently.
"Good. Jeff, you can stay for breakfast too if you want."
Annie's mouth drops open. "How?" she mouths to Jeff who just presses his lips together and nods because of course this was never going to stay secret for long.
"Thanks, Troy," he says finally.
"Night!" Troy practically sings, laughter in his voice as he walks away from the door.
Jeff makes a makes a tsking noise. "This is your fault."
"All that eye sex you were throwing at me. I felt naked all day."
Annie frowns and then nods as if she's agreeing. "Okay, then we probably don't need to be naked right now." She starts to pull away from him but he grips at her waist to keep her still.
"I didn't say I minded. Besides, it might. Have been a little my fault too."
"Yeah, especially with all the," Annie widens her eyes and pouts out her lips.
"What is that? Stop doing that. I don't look like that. "
"Around me you do," she says gleefully.
Jeff groans and pulls her in closer, presses a kiss to the side of her neck. "I'm so screwed."
Annie sighs and tilts her head to the side. "Yup."
His stubble scrapes rough along her skin, but she can feel his lips curl up into a smile against her as she pushes him slowly back to the bed.