Jeff groaned as he felt himself regain consciousness. He had no idea where he was, and opening his eyes seemed too tough to achieve at the moment. All he was aware of was that he had a pounding headache and his throat felt rough and sandpapery.
Summoning his strength he managed to force his eyes open, seeing that he was lying in bed still in his clothes from the night before. He had no idea what time it was, except that it was daytime due to the sunlight that was streaming through the blinds. He tried to piece together what had happened last night. He had gone out drinking with Alan after he was done with the last of his Friday classes. After a few rounds Alan managed to insult the bartender and was thrown out of the place. And then…
His thoughts were interrupted by a weird vibration against his thigh. Realizing it was his phone he pulled it out of his pants pocket, both seeing that it was 9:10am and that Annie was calling. "Hello."
"Jeff. Is everything ok? You sound terrible."
"I'm fine. Why are you calling?"
"Well…I was going to get some coffee and I found a cabinet on the side of the road. Aside from needing a new paint job it's perfect. I can keep school supplies in it, or Abed can use it to house some of his DVD collection. Anyway, I wanted to know if you can come help me get it home and lug it up here?"
Jeff pulled the phone away to groan, not bothering to cover the mouthpiece. "Why can't your actual housemates help you with this?"
"They're shooting footage for a movie over the extra long weekend and won't be back until Tuesday night. And I don't want to leave it in case someone else comes along and takes it. Jeff, please."
"Jeff, why can't you-."
"Annie, I'm not exactly alone here."
"Oh. Oh that's ok then. I'll call someone else. See you later Jeff."
Jeff hung up his phone, feeling bad that he had just lied to Annie. Especially since 1) this was one time he was actually waking up alone. And 2) he knew it wasn't the best thing to mention women he had hooked up with given how unresolved things were between them, especially if he was lying about it. But he knew if he said he was with someone she would drop the matter. If he told her he was hung over she'd either make him help her anyway or wait until he was feeling better. This way the matter was simply dropped.
The interesting thing was he did have a chance to not wake up alone last night. After Alan was thrown out of the bar Jeff ended up doing shots with a hot redhead in a silk blouse and REALLY tight leather pants. After five rounds of tequila and a game of billiards she suggested they go back to her place. But once she actually suggested what he had been working towards since he met her, he told her he didn't think it would be a good idea.
He had no idea why he had turned her down. She had reminded him a bit of the character Tess Mercer (yes, he was a superman fan and had seen Smallville.) She could drink, she was good as pool, and just from the look in her eyes he could tell she was wild in bed. So why had he turned her down when she gave him the go ahead? He was sure there was a reason; he just couldn't recall it at the moment. He just hoped Pierce never found out he turned a gorgeous woman down, if only to stop the barrage of 'Jeff is gay' jokes he would inevitably come up with.
Jeff got up and stumbled into the bathroom, downing a couple of Tylenol and a glass of water before falling back into bed and letting sleep take hold of him again.
A few hours later he was woken up by his phone ringing. Grudgingly he reached for it, expecting it to be Annie asking for his help again, or else someone to chastise him for not helping her in the first place. But when he looked at the phone he saw that an unfamiliar number was calling him.
"Is this Mr. Winger?"
"This is Marcus Miller. I'm an EMT at Saint Francis hospital. I'm calling because a woman you know was injured. Annie Edison."
Jeff sat up in bed, the color draining from his face. "What's wrong? What happened to her?"
"It appears she fell down a flight of stairs while trying to move a dresser, with the dresser falling on top of her. Her neighbors heard the fall and managed to get to her. You're listed as one of her emergency contacts, which is why we're calling you. We tried calling her other emergency contacts, Troy Barnes and Abed Nadir, but we're unable to reach them. "
"I'm coming over right away." Jeff jumped out of bed and ran out the door, not even bothering to shave or shower.
"She's going to be fine Mr. Winger. We performed a CT scan and couldn't find any traumatic brain injury and she's responsive and lucid, so there won't be any lasting effects from the concussion. And as long as she limits her movement to prevent further muscle strain her arm should be fine in a week or so."
Jeff nodded, only half listening to the doctor. He was too relieved to fully process anything he was hearing. The entire car ride over his brain kept imagining different scenarios, each one more horrible then the last. She broke her arm. She broke her leg. Her body was crushed. She's going to be horrible scared and deformed. She's paralyzed from the waist down. She's lost her memory of her entire life. There was brain damage and she's lost her intelligence. She was unknowingly pregnant and the fall caused her to lose the baby. There was massive internal bleeding and she's not going to make it. By the time Jeff finally got to the hospital they almost admitted him himself.
"Sir, are you listening?"
"Yes, thank you doctor."
"Are you sure you're ok sir? You look like you could use an examination yourself."
"I'm fine. It's just…she's important to me."
"Well as I just said, she's going to make a full recovery with no permanent injuries. We're keeping her overnight for observation and then Miss. Edison can leave in the morning."
"Can I see her?"
"Sure. She's in room 228. We have her medication for the pain, so she might be a little loopy from that and the concussion."
Jeff's eyes widened in fear at hearing this piece of news. "Wait, what did you give her? She has to be very careful with whatever she takes."
"Relax Mr. Winger. We're aware of her history with substance abuse from her chart and there are no cross-addiction possibilities with the painkillers we gave her."
Jeff still wasn't entirely convinced everything was fine. But he simply told the doctor he was going to see Annie and went up to room 228. When he got there he lightly knocked on the door and walked in. "Hey."
"Hhhheeeyyyyyy Jeeeeffff!" Annie said with a big smile. As Jeff walked closer to the bed he was relieved to see that she was awake and propped up against several pillows. He pulled an empty chair over and sat down next to the bed.
"How are you doing?"
"I'm fiiiiinnnneee. My head and arm still hurts, but it doesn't bother me." Jeff looked over and saw that her left arm was bandaged in purple gauze and in a sling. "I wanna go home."
"You have to stay here overnight Annie. But you can leave tomorrow morning."
"That's good. I don't like being here. I wanna be out doing stuff. I wish I was Britta. She travels and has seen the world. And she saves animals. I once tried to save a bird that flew into a window and it died in my hands."
"Well, I'm sure you did everything you could to save that bird. I once tried to save a bird that flew in our door when I was a kid and couldn't. So you're not alone there."
She nodded her head vigorously before she frowned. "I broke a cabinet." She said with complete sincerity. "Troy and Abed are gonna be mad when they see the mess. I just left a huge mess."
"Annie, they're not going to care about the mess. Trust me. All they'll care about is that you're all right."
"Thanks. You're such a good friend. You're my best friend."
Jeff's heart broke at hearing her declaration. He scooted over and reached over to her uninjured arm to take hold of her hand. She smiled and leaned back as he looked down. "I'm not a good friend Annie. I'm the reason you're here. I'm sorry I didn't help you. If I had you wouldn't have gotten hurt."
Jeff looked up, only to see that she had fallen asleep. He continued to hold her hand as he looked at her delicate peaceful face. He sat there for several hours before finally leaving, knowing what he had to do.
When Jeff got to her apartment building he saw the broken cabinet at the foot of the stairs. It appeared that whoever had called the ambulance had just left it in the lobby. Luckily he was able to jimmy open the supply closet in the lobby. He carried all the big pieces to the dumpster outside before sweeping up all the broken scraps. Once the cabinet was all thrown away he went upstairs and used the spare key Annie had given him to let himself in. He located the vacuum and pledge and set to work vacuuming and dusting the entire place. He was careful to only straighten up and put stuff away, and not throw anything out (he was well aware of Abed holding a grudge if someone threw something of his out, even if it was a accident). After the apartment was clean (it might not be Annie level clean, but it looked better than it did when he first came in) he went into Annie's room. He took her backpack and put a change of clothes in it, along with a toothbrush and toothpaste. Satisfied that he'd done everything he could do here until morning he locked up and left, hoping he could make it to the supermarket before it closed.
"I'm fine Jeff. My arm and head was hurt, not my legs."
Jeff opened her apartment door, keeping hold of her uninjured arm as they walked inside. He led her over to one of the lounge chairs. As she sat down he went over to the kitchen. "I got you some soup. I didn't know what you might want to I got you a variety. There's tomato, vegetable, Italian sausage and vegetable, chicken noodle, wild mushroom, French onion, clam chowder, chicken and sausage gumbo, split pea and ham, chicken and stars, baked potato with cheese, chicken and rice, cheddar and broccoli, beer barley, Salisbury steak and mushroom, rice and beans, and clear broth."
She stared at him, shocked at what she had just heard. "You got all that for me?"
"Yea well, I wanted to get you something you liked. And I wasn't sure what that was."
"Thanks. But that seems a little excessive. I wasn't expecting you getting me a supermarket's worth of soup. Or you to being me a change of clothes and my toothbrush without me asking." She looked around the apartment, noticing the state it was in. "Did you clean and vacuum?"
"I know how you like things clean. And I didn't want you to do it if you're hurt."
She looked at Jeff, unable to believe he was doing all this for her. "Why are you doing all of this?"
"Because we're friends."
"Yea. But this is above and beyond even your usual best effort."
Reluctantly Jeff walked over and sat down in the other recliner, knowing it was time to come clean on everything. "Annie, it's my fault you got hurt."
"Jeff, this isn't your fault."
"Yes it is. If I had gone to help you you wouldn't have tried to move that thing by yourself."
"Jeff, after you called I just decided to try and get the cabinet up here by myself. I could have called Shirley and Britta to come help me. Or Pierce. Or I could have asked one of my neighbors. But instead I thought I could handle it on my own. This is no one's fault but my own."
"I still should have come."
"You can't always rush in and be the hero. Besides, you couldn't come. You were occupied."
Jeff groaned deeply as he forced himself to tell her the truth. "Annie, I lied to you."
"What?" She narrowed her eyes at him. "What are you-?"
"When you called I wasn't in bed with a woman. I was by myself. I was hung over and didn't want to get out of bed. I didn't hook up with anyone the previous night. I actually turned a woman down."
"Wait, so you weren't with someone when you called?" Her eyes widened as he shook his head. "Why did you lie to me about that?"
"Because I felt like shit and didn't want to get out of bed. I thought if I said I was hung over you'd bug me until I helped you. If I said I had hooked up with some woman and she was still there I figured you'd drop it."
"Jeff, that was a mean thing to do."
"I know. And I feel really bad about it. I sorry that I lied to you. And that it caused you to get hurt."
He glanced over at her, seeing her face frowned in concentration. He could tell that the gears in her head were turning. "Wait. A woman wanted to sleep with you and you turned her down?"
Jeff groaned deeply, realizing he had revealed too much. "I didn't mean to let that fact out."
"Well you had to have a reason for telling me. Especially since it didn't have a real impact on your lie. Why did you feel the need to add that bit of information?"
"Annie, I really don't want to get into this with you."
She sat there for a moment pondering the turn of events in Jeff's private life. "Was she unpleasant?"
"Why is this so important for you to know?"
"It's just, it seems so unusual for you. I'm just trying to figure out what the reason is."
"I don't know, all right. She was a gorgeous feisty Tess Mercer doppelganger and at the end of the night all I could think about was…" He stopped himself at the last minute as the answer to his own question came roaring back to him. The reason he turned that gorgeous redhead down was because…
Annie looked at Jeff, frowning as she tried to decipher what he was trying to say. "What? You were thinking about?"
Jeff glanced down as he tried to gather his thoughts. His natural instinct was to back pedal and find a way out of it. Or simply avoid how he really felt. Or to tell her just enough truth to satisfy her curiosity, but not enough to reveal everything. But like always things fell apart because he couldn't own up to his feelings about her. If he had simply been honest a long time ago this whole mess could have easily been avoided.
"Jeff, if you don't want to answer you don't have-."
"I couldn't sleep with that woman because she wasn't you."
Annie stared at Jeff, her eyes so wide he thought they would fall out of her head. "Wait, what? What are you saying?"
"I'm saying, what I should have said a long time ago. What I think we've both known even if I've refused to acknowledge it. I care about you. In ways that go beyond friendship. And that sleeping with random woman isn't fun anymore, because every time I do all I can think about is the fact that they aren't you. And that this whole incident made me realize how precious you are to me and how I can't waste my life with meaningless woman when the one I want is sitting right in front of me."
Annie blinked rapidly as she looked at Jeff. Even though she clearly heard the Jeff Winger speech, she still couldn't believe he had actually said it. She opened her mouth to speak, and then closed it when no words came out. Everything she had wanted to hear, what she had hoped to hear since the Tranny dance and probably before that, had just been revealed to her in one fail swoop. It was almost overwhelming to hear.
She was so into her thoughts that she didn't notice Jeff get up and go over to her until she felt his lips connect with hers. She froze in surprise for a moment before she closed her eyes and melted into the kiss. It lasted several moments before she reluctantly felt him pull away. "If you tell me to go to hell or something along those lines I'd say I deserve it. I just had to do that one more time."
Annie smiled as she leaned forward and kissed him right back. He gently gripped her shoulders as his hands roamed up and down her back. They made out for several minutes before this time she was the one to pull away. "I didn't know you watched Smallville."
Jeff chuckled as she laughed at his fake nonchalant face. "I may have seen an episode here or there. Or maybe most of the series last summer when I was bored."
"You should have said something. Abed's been ordering it through Netflix. You could have come over and watched it with us and Troy. We just started watching the ninth season."
"I'll keep it in mind. But for right now there's only one person I'm interested in seeing."
As they kissed Annie was glad she had tried to handle that cabinet by herself. It started out terribly, but ended up leading to a very happy ending.