Normally Jeff is used to the all-out weird that Greendale seems to have going for it. Like a last ditch attempt at self-preservation, he's learned to go with the flow. Chang living in the school's vent? You know what, no. Makes perfect sense. Paintball turning them psychotic? Cool. Totally normal.
Then Annie drags him around a hallway corner one day, pushes herself right up into his personal space with a conspiracy-filled flair, and blows open his whole world. He voices some complaints, because he does have an image to uphold, thank you, and being manhandled by an overachieving pipsqueak in front of - okay, in front of Garrett and Leonard, not the point - it doesn't exactly help his cred as Greendale elite, but it's also Annie. Who he has grown an enormous fond spot for. He almost responds by reverting back to his handy crutch of patting her on the head, maybe giving her a shoulder-thump of solidarity and friendship, but she pushes into him, bodily, while she peers around the corner. Instead he settles into a slouch and stares down at her. Possibly there is some smiling.
"Wow, so. Junior year is the year you turn into a paranoid weirdo. Good to know."
She glances at him just long enough to glare, but then she's got her attention back on whatever had her dragging him over here in the first place. "Hush," she does scold, though, with all the sting of a modern day schoolmarm. Which is to say, zero.
He breathes out a so it's come to this exhale and physically moves Annie so that he can see what she's seeing. And at first it's just Chang, which is creepy and something he figures he will judge her appropriately about later, but then. Britta is there, engaged in some toe-to-toe with Chang, locked in a stare-off.
"Weird, right?" Annie murmurs from beside him.
Weirdest ever, actually. Before he can voice an affirmation of that, Shirley's strolling up from the opposite end of the hall - she smiles real big when she sees Jeff and Annie, starts to call out, "Hu-llo you two!" in this voice that rises in pitch until it reaches a tone only Muppet pigs can understand, but Annie shooshes her. There's hand flapping and everything, which erases Shirley's good mood, sends it nose-diving into a bad one.
"Well, pardon me. You don't have to be so-"
"Shirley, you like to eavesdrop, don't you?" Jeff proposes, real fast.
She tugs her sweater close, holds her head nice and prim. There is some throat-clearing. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about."
"Look." Jeff and Annie part, revealing the Britta/Chang stare-off that's still happening. "There. That horrible sight."
Shirley's playing it holier-than-thou, though, refusing to so much as sneak a peek. "Like I said." And she gets so, so much more haughty. "As a decent person who just so happens to be a nice, Christian woman, I wouldn't think twice about-"
"It's Britta," dead pans Jeff.
"And Chang," adds Annie, in the same voice, albeit more scandalized.
"-move out of my way, people, MOVE OUT OF MY WAY."
Shirley pushes Jeff and Annie aside, taking over their spot. There is a maniacal glow in her eyes as she glimpses the scene before them. Britta and Chang are so much closer than toe-to-toe now.
"Dear Lord," Shirley murmurs worriedly. "Heaving bosoms. That is some heaving bosoms going on."
Jeff makes a face. "Chang's metabolism and fried everything. I'm not surprised."
Annie's eyes have gone wide; unfaltering, they stay locked on the horror around the corner. "Why is this happening?" she wonders out loud.
Just then, Troy and Abed enter the hallway from the library, shoulder-to-shoulder. As soon as Abed spots them, he exchanges a glance with Troy. "High stakes spy scene," he assesses pretty quick, which has him and Troy chest-tapping and high fiving their way closer.
"So. We're that group that stalks people," Troy decides to clarify. "Nah, that's cool. 'Cause I was hoping to NEVER DATE AGAIN."
"Troy," Annie admonishes, "worry about your personal life later. This is important."
"Says the girl whose personal life is a Twilight poster." He booms, "Edward Cullen burn!"
Annie gasps. Abed gasps too, then shakes his head and goes, "Bad movie. Bad, baaad movie."
Shirley starts doing a whole lot of motherly shooshing motions, swatting behind her to quiet Abed. It works, but only because Britta has circled around Chang, finally backing off. The group huddles together to watch as she futilely kicks at a water fountain.
"Oh no!" cries Shirley.
Chang shouts, "HEY," and then those two are back to another stare-off.
"Okay," Jeff heaves out. "That was the fastest weird-to-boring downfall since any one of the Kardashians." He starts to drop his attention to his phone, which he has pulled out to keep him nice and distracted, but Annie goes, "Wait, look-" because Chang is leaning in, lips first - they are horrifyingly puckered, a very NOT subtle cue that he is actually going to try and KISS Britta. Britta's not moving at all. In fact, she's rooted in place. Sure, her mouth is pulled into a tight line and she is practically vibrating with the stubborn refusal to budge, but she seriously cannot be playing chicken right now. Chang won't stop. Chang's INSANE. Chang will do disgusting things all over Britta's mouth -
Jeff looks away, mentally bleaching away the past thirty seconds.
"Oh," Shirley squeaks. "No no no no no-"
"Ew ew ew," cries Annie, and from the way she gets progressively more high-pitched, Jeff knows something awful has happened. That thought is only solidified when their entire group lets out this loud, collective sound of horror and disgust.
"She kissed him," Shirley reports soon after, crestfallen. "Britta really let that - that - GOBLIN- kiss her."
"Uh, guys?" Troy heaves, sounding slightly worried. "Has Britta been replaced by a sexbot that looks exactly like her, only it's wired to self-implode by boning Chang?"
"Troy!" Annie says around another one of her gasps. "That's gro-"
"Not been confirmed to be 1000% untrue," finishes Jeff. Annie thwaps him on the chest. "Hey! What the hell?"
"Don't be a pig."
"All I said was-"
"Don't start up with that cutesy bickering," Shirley snaps at them. "Not at a time when we need to be pooling all our prayers and good thoughts towards saving Britta's soul from the obvious depravity its lathering in."
"Jeff," Annie switches moods, aiming one of those I'm-putting-all-my-faith-in-you-do-not-let-me-down-OR-ELSE stares his way, "what are we going to do?"
"Intervention," is what Abed jumps in with.
"What is this, How I Met Your Mother?" Jeff scoffs. "We're not having an intervention."
Abed starts to mentally drift. He holds up a finger, lost internally to his movie/TV database. "No. You're right. This doesn't have that feeling."
Jeff tilts his head way back, eyes squeezed shut. "Great. Here we go."
Abed nods, just once, sagely. It's decided: "After school special."
Annie actually claps, quick and excited; Troy goes, "NICE" on this loud exhale; Shirley coos.
"Great," Jeff repeats.
Pierce slides into the booth beside Jeff, even though Jeff is already squeezed in beside Shirley and Abed.
"Got some news you newbies might want to know about," he comes right out with while he arranges his meal on the table in front of him. It's a plate of macaroni and cheese, only instead of noodles, it looks like sytrofoam packing peanuts. "You'll never guess who I saw Britta locking lips with. Spoiler alert: a penis was involved."
They all sound off noises of repulsion, automatically inching away like that might somehow soften their disgust.
"That's rancid," Shirley mutters. She pushes her milkshake aside, appetite ruined.
"Well, tiny penis. Half-penis, really, since he's Asian, and obviously lacking in that regard."
"And that's racist," Shirley says, this time with a dark, I-will-mess-you-up glower.
"Pierce," Annie scolds. "Must you?"'
"Science, Annie. Look it up."
Jeff goes the direct route. "We already know about Britta and Chang. As always, you just missed being relevant."
"Actually," Abed cuts in, before things dissolve into a fight, "we were planning an-"
"Intervention? Yeesh. What is this, How Some Guy Banged His Kid's Future Mother? YAWN."
Troy stares, long and hard and with a look of extreme judgment. "Pierce. There are things we butcher, and there are thing we do not. Shows that Bob Saget flawlessly does voiceovers for are THINGS WE DO NOT."
"I was going to say, after school special," Abed tells him.
"Because we do that now," Jeff drawls. "We're enablers. Of crazy," he adds, just in case that part was not obvious.
Like she can't believe he's not more enthused about redirecting Britta's misguided feelings away from an unstable man, one who might be clinically insane, Annie reminds him, "Britta kissed Chang," and she cringes a little, horrified by the memory.
He kicks back as much as he can, completely unworried. "Yeah, well. Obviously she's reeling."
"Oh-kay?" Annie passes a frown around the table, silently checking with her friends to make sure they're as lost by this new suggestion as she is, before looking back at Jeff. "From?"
Jeff points a finger at his face and smirks. In response, they boo and fling straw wrappers and balled up napkins at him.
"Dude, you have a 60/40 forehead-to-ego ratio," Troy bases him up.
Jeff lets out a good-natured laugh, genuinely amused by the group. "What? Guys, it makes perfect sense."
"Oh, sure! In the land of deluded delusioners, maybe," Annie shoots back.
"Kinda like Narnia," Troy clarifies. "Only not."
"Seriously, think about it. It's a long fall from top-of-the-line to the bottom of the barrel. Which Britta is now scraping," he tells them. "With Chang."
"Gross," whines Annie, while Troy says, "If ears could throw up-" and Shirley makes a face like she's sucking lemons, murmuring, "Crude, lewd, and seriously deranged."
"Maybe Chang's top-of-the-line," Pierce argues, "and you were the bottom of the barrel."
Jeff doesn't even bother defending himself because PLEASE. That's the talk of the really, really insanely stupidly old. Except no one else is jumping in to disagree - they are actually calming down and considering this.
"Wow," Jeff says, voice pitched high enough to reveal some stirrings of inner-crazy. "Awesome. Thank you."
"Classically," Abed says, being the expert of characterization that he is, "Britta's always been attracted to the Emotionally Damaged type."
"Again," Jeff says, heavier on the sarcasm, "a sincere thanks. My therapist is going to love this conversation."
Abed shrugs. "Three years of Greendale is a long commitment. Possibly the longest commitment of her life. It makes sense she'd want to branch out, get a taste for other flavors out there."
"Yeah, but Chang's not damaged, he's INSANE," Troy tells Abed. "Like, staring-into-space-and-NOT-picturing-himself-as-a-tiny-king-of-a-tiny-awesome-planet type crazy." Marveling, Troy shakes his head, like he can't believe that extreme type of crazy exists.
"Trust me," Shirley says, the maternal voice of logic and reason, "I've been there before. I know we like to pass each other around like sloppy seconds-" And this is directed at Jeff and Annie, with some serious you-shall-be-judged eyes, "but, nuh-uh, not Chang. We are not going to have that tiny, crazy little man taint this group like that."
"Which brings us to-" Abed's eyes gloss over; they've lost him to the fictional portion of his brain. "The After School Special."
Everyone leans in, starts listening as Abed plots it out for them.
"What's he saying?" Pierce complains, unable to distinguish Abed's murmurs from the rest of the cafeteria noises. "Is this one of those gay interventions?"
When Britta joins up with the study group, in their usual study room, there is a notebook at her spot on the table, a large, encompassing picture of Ryan Gosling taped on.
She barely even looks at it, just slides it Annie's way. "I think this belongs to you," she says, and Annie's eyes widen, the very (forced) picture of innocence.
"Nope, not me," she cheerfully sings out. Jeff glances at her, communicates via facial expression: dial it down, weirdo.
Britta sits, sliding the picture Troy's way.
"Uh," he laughs, defensive, "why would I have a notebook with America's new George Clooney on the cover?" Then he realizes how that sounds, and he leans back, murmurs, "That answered itself."
"Yeah," Abed agrees.
Britta shrugs, plopping her bag right on top of it. "Well, it's not mine."
Shirley and Annie both gasp a little at the mistreatment of the notebook, and how poorly things are working so far, before Shirley says, "Are you sure, Britta? Maybe take another look."
"Sure, I guess," Britta says, staring at the notebook once more. She reads from the printed out block of text that highlights not only Ryan Gosling's impressive career up to this point, but his more humble attributes: "Ryan Gooseling. Yeah. Not mine. Never heard of the guy before. I will say, though, there's definitely a douchebag vibe wafting from the direction of his face."
This time, Annie and Shirley's gasps are louder, with Troy joining them.
"It's Gosling," Annie tells Britta, hollow-sounding, like THAT'S what's important here, not their thus far failing attempts to mindtrick Britta using the non-damaged goods that is Ryan Gosling as a natural counter to Chang. The outcome hopefully being: once faced with someone of Ryan Gosling's caliber of handsomeness, they will be able to chip away at whatever psychological problem is currently gripping Britta and turning her Chang-crazy. There's an admitted lack of actual logic here, but Annie had the picture, Abed had control of the group's momentum, and together they became a force even Jeff couldn't deter.
First, they need to get an estimate at how far gone Britta is. Not being able to recognize Ryan Gosling as a legitimate person to objectify might mean they're too late, since it's universally known that he has an "objectifiable" rate of 100%. Afterward they will wrap up with a WE LOVE YOU, BRITTA speech that is driven home with a Ryan Gosling movie marathon, thereby dovetailing the theme.
"AND," Annie adds, just this side of bratty, "he used to be a big Disney star a long time ago, way back in the 90's." That's a forcefully spoken whisper, just so the gravity of how long ago it was can really be felt.
"Yeah, whoever. Gosling. Gooseling." She takes a closer look, eyes narrowing in scorn. "Seriously, what's up with the airbrushed abs? Is that a thing we have to do now as a society of egomaniacs? Project false images of sculpted muscles onto the pliable masses-"
"UGH," Jeff loudly breathes out, directed at both Britta and a malevolent higher power. "Preach to a choir that actually cares for once."
Troy cuts right to it: "On a scale of one to some homeless dude crying in a shelter because his three-legged dog just died of puppyitis, how badly would you say you want to do Ryan Gosling? Who is not Chang?"
"Wow," Jeff dead pans under his breath. "Subtle."
Britta grasps the notebook in her hand, eyes misting over. "His dog died?"
"THAT'S what you took away from that?" Jeff marvels. "Seriously?"
Annie jumps in, really quick, "Not him! Nope, he's perfectly normal. Well, perfect in general. Perfect in a very specific, superficial way." She laughs to herself, this girlish, flirty giggle. "With the face, and the hair, and how down-to-earth he always seems at charity events..." She's basically swooning by the end, which makes Pierce take hold of this runaway train.
"That Gosling nerd," he demands of Britta. "You want to pork him or not?"
"Holy schnikes," she scowls, pulling away from the notebook. "Gross much?"
"You're the one with pork-face for Chang," he jabs back. And then, ignoring the fact that he just derailed their entire plan, this giddy look takes over. "Pork! Chang! Get it? It's because he's-"
"We got it," Shirley darkly insists.
"Wait, what pork-face for Chang?" Britta asks, wary.
"We saw you kissing!" Troy blurts. "Trust me, I've TRIED to burn the memory, but it's unburnable, like accidentally watching anything on FOX."
"Britta," Annie says, 100% sincere, "if you need to talk, or throw up, or confess a drug problem that maybe alters your perception of people, we're herefor you."
"Guys. This is nuts."
"Yet true," Abed counters. "We think it's because, in an attempt to reclaim the youth that's been stifled by these potent Greendale walls, you're deviating from your usual arc, heading into some pretty dark territory."
"Changitory," Jeff says. Then, immediately, "I heard it. Shut up."
"Wait." Instead of happily welcoming their concern, Britta goes straight into resentment. "This was planned? The smarmy Gooseling photospread-"
"Gosling," Troy automatically corrects.
"Whatever!" She suddenly brandishes the notebook like a weapon, waving it around, completely on the crazy side now. "Take a good look, because this is the face of total injustice! Here are the chiseled abs of your abuse!" Pointedly, she slams it down, gets to her feet. "Oh, I'm sorry, I have to go now because I only associate with people who DON'T intervene behind my back."
"It's not an interven-" Abed starts.
"It's a lynching! Yeah, that's right. I said it. This is a public lynching, and I don't have to take it."
She storms off, and though half the group rises to follow her, Jeff flexes his magical fingers until all upward movement ceases and they sit back down.
"New plan," he says.
They corner Chang near the vent he enters most frequently.
"Whoa," he says, falling into this protective stance like he thinks they're there to overtake him. "What's with the uber-Changry glares?"
"Stop," Jeff bites out. "You pun again, that's voluntary consent for me to kill you."
Chang's hangs fly up into a placating, submissive pose. "I feel you, I feel you. Let's not get murderous here."
"Britta," Jeff grounds out, like it pains him to say it, "is someone we care about. A lot."
"She's a real sweet lady," Chang agrees, quick to please. "Knows all sorts of stuff about all sorts of stuff. A true gem of the gem-y variety."
Shirley makes a disgusted face, but carries on in Jeff's place. "And... if you... wanted to..."
"Bone," supplies Troy, with a cringe.
"A lesbian, and who wouldn't," Pierce joins in, which gets him SERIOUSLY, ARE YOU MENTALLY UNFIT stares. He sighs, rolls his eyes, and exhales, "Obviously I mean Britta. Yeesh."
Annie adds, with her hands clasped out in front of her, voice super-high pitched with the grossness of it all, "Well, then! You have our blessings!"
"No PDA allowed," Abed tacks on. "That's a deal breaker."
Chang's eyes widen. And then they widen some more, until he's basically lost all resemblance of a human being, becoming mostly this horrifying sight of TOO MUCH EYES. Then he throws his head back and starts cackling. Like, legit sounds of craziness are coming out of him, which worries and confuses the group because, uh, they JUST approved THIS for Britta?
"You think-" Chang says through his laughter, "that I want-" and then he screeches out, "BRITTA?" like it's the most hilarious thing.
"Uh. You kissed her, so. Yeah," Troy duhs. Then, like something's not adding up: "Don't you?"
"I was Changing with her mind!" Chang FYI's, then instinctively curls into himself when Jeff raises a fist.
Annie intercepts the inevitable violence by crying out, "WAIT." It effectively grabs their attention; slowly Chang uncurls. "You mean, you don'tlike Britta?"
"That's precious-talk for, you and Britta AREN'T doing it?" Troy clarifies.
"NO," Chang screeches again.
"But. The kissing."
"Mind-Chang," Chang says, and even though Jeff leans in, fist-first, Chang doesn't bat an eyelash. Now that he's worked out what they're here about, it's as if the power has shifted in his favor. "We got into a sexually heated battle of authority, no big deal yo. Happens all the time. Besides," he adds, hovering closer to the vent, way more territorial. "I'm seeing someone. A very leggy someone. I'm talking, an actual leg mannequin."
"Oh," Shirley says, trying and failing to see the bright side of this. "That's..."
"Somehow way more disturbing," Jeff fills in.
"Well, okay!" Annie chirps, big on the pep. She's slowly edging backwards. "I think we can all agree to sweep this hilarious misunderstanding under the proverbial rug. Right, guys?"
Which is when Chang starts up a low, foreboding laugh until it fills the halls.
"Ugh, I can't believe we have to clean out the whole venting system," Annie complains, "just to keep Chang quiet."
"If you're wondering why I'm not acting surprised," Pierce says, "it's because I'm not. After all, where he's from, sneaky's a-"
"Ugh, we get it. Insert outdated racist comment HERE," Jeff snarks, on the mean side.
Pierce shifts in his seat, that affronted. "Insert stupid comment with stupid hair HERE," he slings back.
"Yeah, but. It's a good thing, though," Troy starts to hope. "Right?"
"That Britta's not doing vile, unspeakable acts with that man?" Shirley asks. "I'll say." Then, much sweeter, and in a voice meant to soothingly guide them towards a more honest lifestyle: "Must be because prayers doc ome true."
Abed shakes his head. "Total mislead," he says. "The kiss meant nothing."
"Do you think Britta will ever forgive us?" Annie asks, lashes fluttering, such is the weight of her distraught emotions.
"We basically accused her of having sex with Chang," Jeff tells it like it is, on the self-deprecating side, "and then forced Ryan Gosling onto her. It's unforgivable. We're unforgivable."
"S'up, homeskillets," Britta greets, perfectly cued. Her arrival swings the group's attention her way, and once she has it, she comes up behind her chair. "So, okay, you guys thought I was having sex with Chang. Whatever. I've been hit with worse."
"Britta," Annie says, on the verge of tears, "we're so terrible."
"I hate us," Troy agrees.
"Don't get me wrong," she says, settling into her seat. They watch her, silently, like any sudden noise or movement might spook her off. "Using Ryan Gooseling propaganda against me was a pretty crappy violation that I might not ever be okay with."
"Gosling," Troy, Shirley, Annie and Abed all correct under their breaths, this synchronized murmur.
"BUT I'm not going to flush our friendship down the toilet over it. Duh-doy. That's stupid."
"More stupid than, say, pegging you as the type of person with a Chang fetish?" Jeff considers. "Seriously," he says, "we're sorry. In our defense, we might have been drugged."
Annie is quick to latch on to this tactic of denial, hemming and hawing over, "I heard there's still a black mold issue..."
"-someone put a mask over my face," Troy's saying, while Abed reenacts what that would look like, on board with the whole we-were-masked-and-drugged thing.
Shirley's muttering in low tones, "-think the Devil took over for a brief time before-"
Pierce says, "I saw you kiss Chang so naturally I assumed you two were porking."
There's a beat.
Jeff gets to his feet, slides his notebook towards him. "Hey, so. Buy you lunch? And then we never have to talk about this again? Ever?"
"Deal," she says, which signals everyone else to join them.
With a renewed sense of friendship and a greater ability to emotionally repress, they merrily exit the room, elbows knocking, smiles being shared.
They don't hear a low, keening wail from the vent, a very-Chang sounding voice wallowing, "Forever alone, just me and my leg."