Title: The Death of Thanksgiving (Complete)
Pairings/Characters: Britta/Jeff, ensemble. (Brief mentions of Britta/Troy and Jeff/Annie)
Summary: This is the story of how Britta might've caused the tragic demise of Thanksgiving. And if you're expecting some sort of neat resolution, clearly you've, like, got the wrong girl because everybody knows Britta is a horribly unreliable and shitty narrator. Like, seriously, she tripped up once on a knock-knock joke. But whatever. She'll try.
Rating: pg-13, for language.
Wordcount/Spoilers: 4k; general s3 spoilers.
Beta(s): Many thanks to ed_84, for lightning quick betaing.
Notes: For anr, who has displayed the patience of a saintin waiting for this story. Hope you like it, and again, so sorry that it took so long!
The phone rings at an obscenely early hour, jarring Britta out of what could be called, charitably, a state of comatose oblivion. Though being dead might actually be preferable to the condition she finds herself in, because, oh god, her head feels like it's playing a full twenty-piece symphony orchestra to a mariachi song. She faceplants into the pillow to muffle her groan, which is why, when a second later, the sound of a grunt seems so off. She pulls back slowly, blinking blearily – and to her shock (but not entirely her uttershock), Jeff is sleeping off his own hangover next to her.
Oh, fuck. She's really Britta'd this up again.
"Look, we can't keep doing this—"
"Agreed," Jeff replies quickly, reaching for his Snoopy briefs.
She's always wondered how a man so full of himself and high-and-mighty can essentially parade around in underwear with a cartoon pet beagle painted all across his ass; and if that isn't enough, how he always makes fun of her for wearing Hello, Kittypanties, because, yeah, hypocritical, much? But she's getting side-tracked here.
"Jeff, do we have to—I don't know, talk about this?"
Jeff looks appropriately freaked out. "God, no. Why?"
"I don't know. The fact that we keep finding ourselves naked and boinking like bunnies may demand closer scrutiny. I mean, jeeze, I thought we both agreed this phase of our non-relationship was over?"
They'd stuck to it too, ever since they agreed to end it last year about a week before Paintball Armageddon 2.0 hit. They'd managed an entire summer without hooking up, and even that first week or so of fall semester. But the first kegger party that Greendale hosted, Britta woke up the next morning to an all too familiar feeling of a raging hangover and Jeff's freakishly ginormous arm flung over her abdomen. And she could also mention something about his raging hard-on too, but that just seems crass.
Anyway, history repeating itself – over and over and, oh my god, over again.
"Just," Britta tries, "how do you feel about me?"
Jeff gets that panicky face again. "Look, I can't think of anyone I'd rather be in a dysfunctional relationship with, and I genuinely enjoy any activity in which you bend over, but I'm not sure how else to define our boundaries."
The phone rings before either of them can say anything else. She fumbles with it for a second before answering, "Hello."
And instantly winces when she hears Annie's hysterical screaming on the other end. And before even registering the words, before she can even get her braincells to connect and listen, there's this fucking ridiculous surge of panic or shame that overwhelms her because there's a not-so-small part of Britta that knows about Annie's Titanic-sized crush on Jeff, and Jeff's own whatever-the-hell-you-call-it feelings for Annie – but then she actually listens to Annie's diatribe.
"Thanksgiving is ruined!" Annie exclaims, revealing the source of her freak-out.
"Wait, what? Hold the phone," Britta says, while holding the phone. "What are you talking about?"
"Thanksgiving, Britta," Annie repeats, incredulously. "It's Thanksgiving today, remember? Everybody is coming over to our place at five?"
"Oh, yeah, that. Yeah, no, I totally remembered that!"
She hears Annie sigh. "Well, forget it. Troy and Abed discovered a rat infestation late last night and spent the entire morning refusing to set one foot back into the apartment. We can't do it here."
"Oh, erm," Britta tries for sympathy, "that sucks." And while Jeff is reaching for his pants, a sudden thought occurs to Britta. And let it be known now that it is a proven fact that no woman has ever had a single intelligent, high-quality thought while that man is half-naked. "We could host Thanksgiving over at my place?"
Okay, in her defense, she thinks she's only volunteering her apartment, not to like, actually, organize the thing. It was already settled that Shirley would be in charge of cooking and baking and stuff, and so Britta really doesn't think it's going to be that big of a deal to clear out her kitchen and living room space to make room for six of her closest friends. That is, of course, after she gets rid of any and all traces of evidence that she's had sex with one of those said close friends.
But before she can even kick Jeff out of her apartment, Shirley is ringing her doorbell. "Hello!" Shirley beams, standing in the doorway with two large grocery bags; Britta desperately hopes that Jeff has at least managed to get her bra down from where it was hanging off the ceiling fan. "Happy Thanksgiving!" She brushes past Britta without waiting for the invite. "And, oh, hello, Jeffrey. Good of you to help out. How nice!"
Without pausing for a response, or even for much of a breath, Shirley proceeds to give both of them a ten mile long list of instructions, including a trip to the store for some last minute items.
"I'll just make myself at home," Shirley insists, with a stiff smile as she casts a look about. "And clean up a little."
Britta writes down the grocery list in eyeliner because there's no pens around.
At the store, she tries to figure out how to pick a ripe melon while nursing a rather cruel hangover. And fuck, what the hell do they need melons for anyway? It's Thanksgiving. Fruit has never been on the menu at any of the family holiday dinners at the Perry household… but then again, maybe that isn't the best sample to select from. Thanksgiving dinner with her family basically meant KFC with her mom in front of the TV.
Jeff comes up to her. "A bushel of tomatoes is how many pounds?"
"Four," Britta answers, in a tone that pretty much implies the how the fuck would she know? "Do you know how to pick a ripe melon?"
"I'll refrain from turning that into a crude joke."
God, they're hopeless.
They get back to a stoned Shirley.
Let's repeat that for the audience: they get back to a stonedShirley.
In Britta's defense, she'd forgotten all about the brownies with the "special ingredients" that had been left out in her kitchen, and Shirley – being Shirley – just had to try them out so she could give Britta pointers on how to improve the recipe. "Y'know," Shirley tells them, serenely, "at first I thought this place was a mess, but there's an organization to it. You just have to step back and let it in. It's not so bad. It reminds me of that one neighbor I had, and I used to hate him. That's wrong, hating a man because of his messiness. One time he slipped and fell on the sidewalk and I laughed, but then I thought, no, wait. What if I were an ant on that sidewalk and he fell on me? Then it wouldn't be so funny. These are the type of moral lessons you have to keep with you."
Jeff and Britta both stare at her. "You know," Britta says, after a contemplating beat, "she's not actually acting all that different to her normal self."
"Oh, look," Shirley points out, waving her hand back and forth in front of them. "My hands are so big! I wonder why God gave us five fingers? We barely even use the pinky or the ring finger at all. And look at it as it moves! Oooohhhh."
"One of us has to keep an eye on her," Jeff says.
"Not it," Britta calls, before Jeff has the chance.
Britta tries cooking.
The emphasis is on try.
She takes a look at the instructions for stuffing a Turkey and thinks, you can't be serious. Admittedly she's a vegan and not on the up-and-up with everything when it comes to eating meat, but really? Really? What delusional sycophant looked at a Turkey's ass and thought it was an appetizing point of entry for food?
The mash potatoes are better. A little too much salt, and it isa unique green color that isn't in any of the pictures, but Britta is fairly sure it's editable. She loses the Band-Aid on her thumb at some point cooking the casserole, and when she tries to get the gravy all smooth and creamy, there are some weird lumps in it. Jeff has the brilliant idea to run it through a strainer to catch the lumps, but they forget the pan underneath and pretty much everything drains straight down the kitchen sink.
Abed, Troy and Annie arrive an hour later then they said they would, and look on at the mess of a kitchen and a hazed-out Shirley. "I do believe the weapons on this battle station are fully operational," Troy says, in this strange gravelly voice like he's doing a reference that Britta should know, 'cause otherwise she'd think it was code for an erection or something. "Need help?"
Britta tries to save face. "No, it's cool. I got it—"
"Ignore her," Jeff declares. "Battle stations, everyone."
They send Britta and Jeff back to the grocery store again because they need all new ingredients. Except, of course, the store has already closed early for the day because it's a holiday, and apparently that means that civilization has to shut. down. like fuckin' fort knox. Britta and Jeff stand outside the unmoving automatic doors, and she feels like maybe this is just the world mocking her because she hadn't planned on being the one in charge of Thanksgiving this year, but she sorta wanted to save the day for once; to pull through and prove everyone wrong that she is capable of throwing an awesome party, and having good food, and no one ending up in tears by the end of the night through some form of physical and/or emotional injury.
But who is she kidding? It's Thanksgiving, and she's Britta, and not only has she managed to create inedible food and a wacked-out Shirley on a day she likes to Thank God a lot more than normal, but now she's standing in front of a closed 24-hours grocery story.
"We can break in," Britta suggests, beginning to search nearby for a brick.
"Um, look," Jeff says, sensing an impending freak-out. "It's not that bad. We'll go find another place that's open. Let's not resort to breaking and entering just yet."
"Why not? Are you scared, Mr. Too Cool to Break the Law Except When I'm Practicing It, Lawyer Dude?"
"I'm not scared," Jeff defends, "I just don't want to go to jail for some potatoes and store-bought apple pie. You'll get thrown into the big house with a roomie named Bertha; think about that, Britta. Big Bertha. She'll have shoulders the width of a football player and she'll make you her bitch."
She deflates immediately because she sees his point; she has HBO, after all. "What's the point anyway? It's just going to end in another hilariously awkward disaster that always happens to me. I'm the bad news sadpanda of the world."
"You're over exaggerating."
"And your reality check has clearly bounced," she returns, sullenly. "You know everyone thinks I somehow manage to ruin every party! There's no two to tango here; I can disasterbate all by my lonesome self."
"Did I mention the part where I think you're over exaggerating?"
"I think your hair is over exaggerating!"
They end up having sex again. In her car.
She really isn't sure how that happens.
Pierce is the one to greet them at the door when they get back. "No food?" he asks.
"No food," Jeff confirms.
"Figured. I ordered from a Japanese restaurant that stays open all year long. We've ordered sushi and teriyaki chicken for everyone. Bonus tip: they also double as a massage place on weekends, but if we head back over there tonight, we might even get a group rate discount for a happy ending, if you know what I mean. And I think you do."
"Everybody knows what you mean, Pierce," Troy calls from over his shoulder.
Britta mopes in the corner without comment, because they're having sushi for Thanksgiving. Only on her watch would this happen.
"It's not so bad!" Annie tries, sounding forcefully cheerful like a chipmunk on speed. "We've got each other. That's all that matters!"
"Uh, guys," Troy speaks up. "Anyone seen Shirley?"
They make two search parties.
Jeff and Troy go with her, while Abed leads Annie and Pierce in the opposite direction. It's getting dark outside, so Britta carries a flashlight with her just in case Shirley ends up in the bushes or, god, the gutter or something – and the entire time Britta's lamenting over the fact that she's taken a Jesus-praying mother of three and turned her into a hobo.
She finds one of Shirley's earrings lying abandoned on the sidewalk, and bends over, staying on all fours for a beat to see if she can find anything else; when she turns back to show the others, Troy has obviously been checking her out and she can see Jeff's resulting scowl of annoyance.
"Uh," Britta begins, "Why don't you guys go check out the south corner? I'm gonna stay here and see if Shirley comes back for her earrings."
Jeff rolls his eyes, and Troy nods along, oblivious. They walk side-by-side down the road, and Britta looks on and thinks that maybe she just imagined that moment in her head. She has a habit of doing that, and besides, Jeff doesn't get jealous. (Well, actually, that's a fat lie. Jeff pretends like he doesn't get jealous, but Britta pretends like she doesn't notice because it'd just be awkward to acknowledge said jealously because what they're doing? The random hooking up? It means nothing. It meant nothing all throughout last year, and it continues to mean nothing now, especially since they've resolved to never do it again. Yet again.)
God, she wants to go home and eat a bucket of ice cream.
Britta gets a call a minute later. "Your friend has wandered onto our patio," a neighbor tells her. "And started singing in the rain."
"It's not raining," Britta replies, confused.
"No, no," her neighbor tells her. "She was singing, 'Singing in the Rain.'"
She finds Shirley sitting serenely on the corner bench two minutes later, and with a hearty thanks to her neighbor, Britta leads Shirley by the forearm back to her apartment. "Do you ever wonder why God gave man balls? It's seems like a silly thing to put there, so sensitive. I mean, really, why have them on the outside? Unless it's so women can kick them on occasion to inflict properly-justified anger."
"Preach it, Sistah," Britta returns.
She texts everyone so they know to return back to her apartment. Thirty minutes later, the sushi shows up. An hour after that, Shirley's kids show up with Andre – which is actually good because it looks like Shirley is finally coming down from her high.
At some point, Chang mysteriously shows up inside her bathroom, but barely anyone bats an eye. It's a little disconcerting, however, when Britta's new cat Mr. Rasputin takes a liking to him. "Felines like me," he explains, sending a creepy wolfish smile across the table towards Shirley. "Something about the animal sexual draw of the Chang pheromones." He makes a claw with his hand, scraping down. "Meow!"
They sit around her crummy table, barely big enough for half the numbers but somehow they make it work anyway. Jeff sits to her right, and Abed to her left, and she leans over to talk into Abed's ear over the ruckus that Shirley's kids are making in the back. "How're you doing, Abed?" Britta asks, concerned, because ever since last Christmas with the claymation disaster, she's always been a little motherly about him over any holidays. "I know this isn't what you expected for Thanksgiving."
Abed says, "This is actually the perfect Thanksgiving, encapsulating the turkey trauma tropes necessary to bring a ragtag group of mismatched friends together over a traditionally non-traditional meal. In the end we've all learned the valuable lesson that the trimmings of the meal aren't important. It's the people that surround us that define the success of a holiday."
"So no one is upset at me for ruining Thanksgiving?"
"To be honest, it was given we wouldn't have a normal meal as soon as Troy found the rats at our apartment last night. We appreciate you going through all the effort to try, though."
"Aww, thank you, Abed," she says, a little teared up. "That means a lot."
"Cool, cool, cool," Abed acknowledges.
At some point during dinner, underneath the table Jeff places his hand on her knee. She doesn't remove it. She tells herself that it's fine because whatever-the-fuck they're doing with each other is all about shits and giggles and orgasms, and it doesn't matter that she has worse self-control than when she was a teenager (and she was a really, really horny teenager). The point still stands: it means nothing.
So, they sex each other up a lot. Big deal. So they talk to each other about virtually everything. Doesn't mean it has to be something more than the closest friendship she's, like, ever had with anyone, ever. So they geteach other, and are comfortable, and she can just be herself, and he doesn't try to change her even though he makes fun of her like crazy; she makes just as much fun of him and she long ago gave up trying to change him. Everybody always claims they're these hopeless egomaniacs that have virtually no shot at happiness with other people because of the epic-ton of issues they carry around and, like… fuck. She doesn't even know what the hell she's saying, anymore. It's all excuses and rationalizations that don't even makes sense anymore, and usually Britta can convince herself of pretty much anything if she tries hard enough.
It's all getting hard to swallow, though.
That's what she said, Britta chortles to herself, amused.
They get drunk on wine, because that's how classy people get shitfaced. Everybody does, pretty much – except for Troy and Annie and Abed, who never drink or barely drink; and Shirley and Andre because they've got their kids around; and Pierce, because he claims he'll lose any chance at achieving Level Six Ascension with Laser-Eye Capability if he consumes any alcohol in the next two weeks.
So, really, it's just Britta, Jeff and Chang that get drunk.
Chang drinks himself unconscious in under two hours. "The Chinks have such little tolerance for alcohol and drugs," Pierce says with a disapproving frown.
Britta and Jeff? They get drunk and retreat into the bathroom to start making out, convinced by their epic stealthy behavior (that involves tripping over Abed's chair and giggling helplessly in unison on the way towards the bathroom) that no one will ever suspect what they're up to.
Halfway through removing their clothes, Britta stops them. "Hey, what's going on with you and Annie?"
Jeff stops, staring, then challenges, "What's going on with you and Troy?"
Britta pretends to try and suss out what he's implying, but mostly she's too drunk to play ignorant. Troy is nice; Troy is hot. Troy looks at her sometimes and Britta gets this warm, fuzzy feeling in her stomach like she's special or a hot snowflake or something; it's not the same as with Jeff. With Jeff, things are simple and complicated and just as maddening as they are familiar.
It takes her a beat to realize he's deflected her question. "I asked about Annie first!" she exclaims, poking him in the chest. His naked chest, which is ridiculously toned and she kinda hates how hot he looks without clothing on; even with it on, actually. "Fess up, dude. You can't bone me and still be getting your skeezy on with her. I'm not that kinda girl, for shizzle my nizzle."
She usedto be that type of girl, but Britta always endeavors to improve herself.
"Look," Jeff says, tipsy, and pointing back at her. "You're like, like my friend, okay? Annie's my friend too—"
"Oh my god, you're not fucking us both, are you?" Britta cries out, in an extremely loud voice, two feet from the bathroom door.
"You do realize we can hear everything you're saying, right?" comes Troy's voice from the other side of the door; Jeff and Britta both freeze for a moment before turning to the door with matching deer-caught-in-headlight looks. She can overhear Annie mutter, "I'm not sleeping with him!" in an indignant huff that only sounds slightly wounded; Shirley sighing the words, "Lord have mercy for that," and Britta can pretty much feel the unvocalized recrimination of everyone even through the wall.
She turns back to Jeff, and slurs, "I think they heard us, man."
The door opens to a hallway full of judging stares.
Britta fixes her shirt, Jeff stands awkwardly tall (like, god, how tall does he haveto be?), and the rest of the night is pretty much crappy for everyone involved.
Skipping past the unpleasantries, it all boils down to the fact that the group stands united in their outlook, i.e. Jeff and Britta continuing to hook up is bad for everyone involved, but most especially for people who are not either Jeff or Britta. She gets that; she really does. Doesn't take a genius to figure out their little group of misfits has a balance, and knocking that about with a shit-ton of sex rather than sexual tension is gonna unbalance everything. Abed keeps going on about Moonlighting, and Troy and Annie aren't really speaking to her, or to Jeff for that matter. Shirley keeps saying she's praying for their souls (which, just, creeps Britta out a bit, to be honest).
Pierce is pretty much neutral, and says, "Just remember to wear rubber!" Which Britta pretends not to hear, because ew, Pierce talking about her sex life is something that never, ever needs to be acknowledged.
Apparently, Britta iscapable of ruining Thanksgiving for everyone after all.
This story ends on Black Friday.
If you're expecting some sort of neat resolution, clearly you've, like, got the wrong girl because everybody knows Britta is a horribly unreliable and shitty narrator. Like, seriously, she tripped up once on a knock-knockjoke. But whatever. She'll try.
Anyway, the day after, she meets up with Jeff. "Look, we reallycan't do this anymore. The reasons are obvious."
"You're way too similar to me in all the wrong ways," Jeff says.
"I was going to go with you're a douchbag," Britta says flippantly, "but all right."
"Gee, thanks, Miss Congeniality."
Britta turns serious. "No, look, we can't keep having sex and then act like nothing is different about us when it's… y'know," she pauses, afraid, because she doesn't want to admit that they've been hedging into the more-than-just-friendship territory for some time now. It's too much, admitting that.
Thankfully, Jeff cuts in with a save. "Making everybody else in the group uncomfortable?" he says, awkwardly, with wide eyes.
Britta exhales in relief. "Exactly!"
Besides, Britta doesn't know what she'd do with Jeff if he suddenly declared that he wanted to date her, or something – because, god, who needs that type of complication? Plus, she just doesn't want the added headache of dealing with everyone else's hangups while she bones Jeff. It really takes the fun out of it. (Mostly.)
"So, we're agreed?" Jeff asks. "We're ending it?"
"Yeah," Britta says with a sharp nod. "It's over."
And as simple as that, they resolve to break it off, once and for all.
Spoiler alert: they hook back up again at Christmas.