Although there are no ratings I will say that this is based on two of the teasers for season 4, one concerning a developing relationship and one concerning a big decision regarding graduation. If you have no idea what that means and wish to remain ignorant until October 19th don't read this fic. Also, my fic is only tied to those two teasers but does not adhere to anything else that may have been previewed. If anything remotely similar happens in the show it's because I'm actually Abed.
Lyrics are taken from "At Least It Was Here" by The 88.
"Intervention? Intervention? Intervention? Intervention? Intervention? Great!"
Pierce, Shirley, Abed and Troy all sat around the table at 303 as Annie outlined her plan. Jeff was absent, which was the reason for the proposed intervention. Since telling them about his plans to graduate early the previous afternoon he had been avoiding them, unable to face their glares of disappointment and confusion.
A short while later the remaining study group members, having finalised their plan, were making the necessary preparations. Abed had pulled out the caper kit and was checking through the items with Annie. The others had been despatched to retrieve and make ready the other components of the plan.
"Sure, you never know when it could come in handy."
"Erm, if they make you more comfortable, sure"
Annie's eyes lit up. "Definitely."
"I'm not sure we need..."
"I meant would you like some raisinettes?"
"Oh yeah, thanks. Give me some."
At that moment Troy entered carrying a large bag from the hardware store.
"Rope?" he announced, proudly holding up his purchase.
"Perfect!" exclaimed Annie, eying it up before packing it in the holdall.
It was dark as Jeff was returning from his evening run. He'd gone further than usual in an attempt to clear his head. He was upset at the lack of support his friends were showing him in deciding to get his life back on track, though he couldn't say he was surprised at their reaction. They really were like clingy kids sometimes. Most of the time. Hell, pretty much all of the time. Sighing, he rounded the last corner and was in sight of his building, so intent on his running and his inner dialogue he didn't notice the minivan parked up until the passenger door opened right in front of him, knocking him to the ground.
"Ohmigodjeff! I'm sooooo sorry! Are you okay?"
Jeff looked up to see Annie peering around the door at him.
"What the hell Annie? Are you that crazy that you'd rather see me dead than graduate early?"
Angrily pulling himself to his feet, he glared at Annie before looking around to see five concerned faces peering out of Shirley's van.
"Oh, you're all here. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. So is this the intervention where you all convince me not to graduate early because you all think that the second I leave Greendale I'll just forget all about you? Well no thanks. I'm hot and sweaty and bruised so I'm gonna go home and have a shower, then sit on my couch and NOT think about you guys. You can all return to your homes and badmouth me as much as you want, as long as you do it somewhere away from me." At that Jeff started to walk purposefully back to his apartment.
"Huh, gay." muttered Pierce from the back seat.
Annie looked desperately at the group, who as one leapt from the van and ran to intercept Jeff's retreat.
"Jeff, we can't let you do that." Abed stated, as the six of them thronged around the taller man.
"And you're gonna stop me how?" Jeff sneered, raising his eyebrow skeptically.
"Well if you look carefully you'll see that Annie is brandishing a bottle of chloroform and Britta may have borrowed one of the tasers from the security office. We don't really want to use them but Britta has assured me that she would feel no guilt in "tasing your balls" and we already know that Annie has a scary affinity with chloroform after the whole lawyer party fiasco. So really it's probably best if you just go along with our plans. The last thing we need is for Annie to start using chloroform to get people to tidy the flat again."
"Seriously? Ugh, fine" Jeff raised his hands in apparent surrender and turned back towards the van, before breaking suddenly and sprinting... three paces before the taser hit him between the shoulder blades and he collapsed to the sidewalk.
"Aaargh! Ok! OK! Please stop before I have to peeee."
Britta had stopped before Jeff had to pee. He had meekly climbed into Shirley's van, sandwiched in the middle between Britta and Annie, both still armed and ready to use their respective weapons.
"What is you hope to achieve by kidnapping me?" Jeff asked wearily.
"We're not kidnapping you, we're staging an intervention so you'll realise you need to stay in Greendale and graduate with the rest of us." said Annie brightly.
"I think this may have more to do your needs than mine. And taking someone against their will is kidnapping every day of the week. I should know, I used to be - and am soon to be again - a lawyer."
"We should blindfold him so if he escapes he won't know how to get home." Abed piped up from the back seat. Beside him Troy pulled out the blindfold and snapped it over Jeff's eyes.
"Guys, I know we're going to your apartment. We're nearly there." protested Jeff, but he made no move to remove the blindfold, knowing it would make Abed and Troy happy to be doing things according to the script.
"Maybe we just want you to think that to disorient you," Britta responded.
"Whatever. I hope this isn't gonna take all night". Luckily Jeff couldn't see the uneasy glance that passed between the rest of the group.
They got Jeff, still blindfolded, up to 303 without major incident, although they had forgotten to remind him to step over the new brick (Troy couldn't bear to leave the $60 brick in the hall anymore, it now adorned his bookshelf, which was devoid of books). So cursing his friends and his stubbed toe Jeff stumbled into the casa. Annie immediately took control.
"Ok Jeff. First things first, you really smell. Do you want a shower? We've already checked that you're too big to fit through the window and we've removed all sharp and pointy objects from the bathroom. Also, here are some of your clothes. We couldn't get your toiletries though cos they were in your safe, but you can use mine."
"My, what gracious hosts. Going so far to make me feel at home as to break into MY home and steal my stuff." Jeff grumbled while pulling off the stupid blindfold, but grabbed the towel Abed was holding and disappeared into the bathroom.
"Pierce, stand guard outside the bathroom. I don't think Jeff will try anything, but you never know. Ok guys, you know what to do."
Quickly the group cleared the living area, pushing the table and chairs to one side and setting one of the recliners to face the now vacant space. As they finished up Jeff emerged from the bathroom, dressed now in his own sweat pants, an 'All 5 Dances' tee and his paintball hoody. His damp hair was flopped over his head in a very uncharacteristic way.
"I'm guessing that as my wardrobe appears to have been picked for comfort rather than presentability that I'm not leaving here any time soon, so let's get on with this. Where do you want me?" he said resignedly.
Jeff was soon settled in the recliner, and his friends disappeared into the blanket fort, though Jeff noticed that they had deadlocked the apartment door, and Britta still had a suspiciously taser-shaped bulge in her jacket pocket. On another occasion he might have made a crude joke, but he was feeling pretty stiff and achy from his two encounters with the sidewalk, and, if he allowed himself to recognise it, possessed a morbid curiosity about what the group had planned. He was willing to bet it would be sentimentally sound, if not a little misguided, and deep down he knew that they were doing it out of love. It didn't make it any less annoying though.
For the next few hours Jeff watched his friends perform a number of 'viable scenarios', as Abed called them, about his absence during the final year using a variety of props and flash cards. It started off fairly innocuously with the group returning from Winter break, only to recall that Jeff was now working full time as a lawyer. The group then started to argue about Christmas and religion, only without Jeff there to talk reason and provide a target for the inevitable paper balls they ended up storming off to their first classes without talking to each other.
As the term progressed the group ended up spending less and less time together, with the exception of Britta and Troy, who seemed to be paired in most scenarios. This put strain on Abed and Troy's relationship, and although Britta and Troy seemed to be connecting on another level, neither of them acknowledged it. Britta appeared to feel she was too old for Troy and he became annoyed at her distancing herself from him. Abed refused to comment on it or give Troy advice through some misguided concept that he would either force the relationship off the cliff edge and onto the rocks below or that the relationship would become unstable and cause the implosion of the group. Partly it seemed that he couldn't bear to spend less time with Troy but in his apparent apathy was actually pushing him away.
Jeff turned up occasionally in the scenarios, played by various members of the group. However, when he did turn up, like to the Valentine's Day Dance, he was always overly late and tired from working big cases. By the time he arrived the group had already become maudlin and started infighting. He would arrive to find them either dispersed in angry silence or causing a scene in the centre of the dance floor. In either instance he was ill equipped to help the situation as his prolonged absence from the group meant he had no idea what the issues affecting the group were. His presence did at least bring the group back together while he was present but the atmosphere was terse at best, and no one could be said to be enjoying themselves.
Throughout the year Annie was the only one who really attempted to keep in touch with Jeff, sending him text messages and emails full of emoticons. "Hey Jeff [Monkey face]. Hope u r having fun work. 2day Shirley slapped Pierce & Abed started wailing the microwave [Frown face]. Hope u can still come out on Friday. A x. [Unicorn] [Rainbow] [Smiley face]" However the texts became less frequent as the group became more strained. Annie also seemed to lose her way, asking guys on dates seemingly at random and asking Shirley and Britta what they thought of Pavel, or Rich, or Chang. She didn't seem to care when she got a B+ on an assignment, and instead of freaking out just gave a small sigh and shrugged. She only seemed to brighten on the occasions where Jeff actually made it to one of their social gatherings.
The year ended finally, a few weeks prior to Graduation the tension between Shirley and Pierce over the sandwich shop escalated to critical mass without Jeff around to intervene. The scene ended with Shirley stabbing Pierce in the leg with a bread knife, Britta knocking over a baggel wrapper into a stove and the cafeteria burning down. Troy swallowed a burning baggel to save Britta and lost his voice box, Pierce died, Shirley drank through her guilt, Annie went nuts and Abed stuck on a felt goatee. Despite the ludicrous nature of the piece, Jeff could envisage the scenario playing through. Something about it made him feel strangely uncomfortable, and for some reason he had to keep touching his right arm, as if to reassure himself it was still there.
After a brief respite during which the group reset the stage area, they resumed with the scenarios, but this time from Jeff's perspective. It started with Jeff arriving to work at his new offices, looking like a beige David Beckham. He was greeted by receptionist Annie, who said, "Ah, Mr Winger. I have your welcome pack. Your office is here, with the other interns." Beige Jeff followed her to a room full of other interns, all of whom looked really bored as they typed up notes for cases. Jeff was seated at a desk and given a case to research. "Something easy for your first day," smiled receptionist Annie. Jeff sighed and started to research. Just as he settled to typing his phone beeped. He pulled it out a read the message from Annie. "Dear Jeff, just 2 say we all wish you a gr8 1st day in ur new job as a hotshot lawyer. Love the Study Group x [Birthday cake] [Unicorn] [Rooster]". Smiling fondly and looking slightly guilty beige Jeff was interrupted by the cute blonde intern next to him, "Pst - no phones out - the boss catches you you'll be for it." Sighing again, Jeff returned to his notes.
"I hope you don't have any plans Winger," said the hotshot lawyer with the awesome springy hair who was now Jeff's boss. "We got the Cackowski case coming up on Monday - I need you to pull up everything we can on him. We gotta make this cop out to be the dirtiest SOB that ever walked the streets of Greendale if we want our guy to walk."
"I kinda do have plans actually. It's Valentine's Day." said cute blonde Jeff.
"Not for you buddy. Not if you want to stay on this case."
"Yeah, about that... I actually know the cop in question so I'm not sure..."
"Perfect - you should have no problem finding the good stuff then!"
"No, what I meant was I know him, and I don't want to ruin his reputation just so our sleazeball client can worm his way out of a DUI."
"Really. I thought you had balls. Guess you don't have what it takes to make it in this profession. Tell you what, you leave nice and quiet and I won't have security come down here and throw your ass on the street."
"Whatever, you jag! I mean sure, whatever man" said blonde Jeff, grabbing his stuff and leaving the office.
When Jeff - now wearing glasses and with notably less hair - arrived at the Valentine's Day Dance he found his friends arguing in the middle of the dance floor surrounded by a ring of glaring, swaying couples. Sighing - he seemed to do that a lot - he walked up to the group.
"Jeff!" exclaimed Annie, "Thank goodness you're here. At least we can now prove that at least one of us can function in the real world. How's work? They seem to be keeping you busy. I hope you're not working too hard!"
"No, it's ok. I'm just pretty busy working cases and looking for a boyfriend. ("Pierce!") I haven't lost my job or anything yadda yadda."
"Oh-kayyy. So, now you're here, Jeff, maybe you can help Abed to understand why lying to us about who sent who Valentine's Day cards is not a chance for character development or furthering a story arc..."
Jeff had managed to get a new job at one of the few remaining law firms in the area, having shot down his chances with his former company by pissing off Alan and then getting kicked out of the previous job for having, well, feelings - something that was really hindering his progress in the harsh world of law. Unfortunately he was again an intern, on even lower pay and working longer hours. This meant he found little time to see the group, and when he did he was often distant and tired. Plus their bizarre relationship issues seemed to get harder and harder for him to comprehend, which made him feel even worse about the fact he'd graduated early. The fact that he didn't know what was going on meant that he couldn't fix it, and it turned out Winger speeches, while effective for the short term, couldn't be used as cement to hold the group together in his absence. Not to mention the fact that he was finding it harder and harder to inspire himself, let alone his study group. And yeah, he still thought of them as his study group, despite the fact that they barely studied together anymore, and never with him. Eventually the piece culminated with Jeff, once again bespectacled and balding, visiting confirming the identity of the corpse under the blanket as one Pierce Hawthorne, signing Annie into a mental hospital and finally sitting down at a table with Britta, who was wearing a blue wig, Abed with his goatee, Troy and his plastic voice box and Shirley, clutching a bottle.
"And fade to black..." finished Abed.
Jeff rubbed his face. "Abed, are you saying that these things are going to happen if I graduate early? Because I know you have a good track record with the Community College Chronicles and all, but we know there's margin for error there. I mean, Shirley, have you even seen a werewolf?"
Shirley looked around and discretely crossed herself before replying angrily, "Why'd you have to bring that up? I'd forgotten about it til now."
"Jeff's right Shirley, there are times when I get it wrong. Like that time with Annie in the Dreamatorium. Except you guys probably don't know about that. Damn. I shouldn't have mentioned it and ruined my mystique. Besides, the werewolf was to illustrate the point that not everything I put in my films comes to pass. But in answer to your question Jeff, this is a plausible scenario. In fact it's quite likely. There are a few places where the plot could vary a bit, but the end result is that your leaving is likely to force us into the darkest of timelines."
"Oh, not the timelines again! Abed, I thought we were done with this. Guys, I thought we agreed to shut down the timeline thing. And now you're actively encouraging it? This whole thing is crazy. You're all crazy. And I'm the craziest of all for allowing you to go through with it. If that's the best you can come up with you're gonna have to think up some actual reasons I should stay, rather than Abed's crazy timeline baloney, and your apparent inability to function without me. I hate to break it to you, but we can't stay at Greendale forever. At some point we're going to have to learn to cope with the real world for ourselves. Independently. And it won't mean we break up as a group, or Troy will lose his larynx, or Britta will dye her hair. Well, actually she might, but that doesn't prove anything. Pierce isn't going to die and Annie won't go crazy town banana pants and I won't mysteriously lose my arm. We are going to be fine."
"It's okay Jeff. I realised that you would go for instant denial. You just need some time and the correct emotional trigger to reach your conclusion. It's interesting you mentioned losing an arm though. That came out as a probability in three of the darker timelines, though it seemed so improbable that I decided not to include it in our re-enactment. I recommend you get some sleep ready for your emotional breakthrough tomorrow."
"That's the most sensible thing you've said all evening Abed. The bit about sleep I mean. The rest was crazy town banana pants with clown shoes and custard. Argh, even I'm sounding crazy town banana pants now! If someone could be kind enough to drop me back at my apartment I'll ready myself for my "emotional breakthrough" and finally get some ice on these bruises," said Jeff, his hands still raised from his air quotes.
"Oh, you're not going anywhere, mister," said Annie, poking him in the chest. "Abed said that the beginning of the emotional breakthrough could occur at any point and that it had the best chance of succeeding if you're in our company. You can sleep in the bunk bed."
"Oh, come on! Besides, where's Troy gonna sleep?"
"Troy's new bed arrived yesterday. Although the potential for humour was obvious, if this thing between him and Britta is going to pan out it made sense for him to get a double," explained Abed, oblivious to the embarrassed glances being cast around him.
"Oh-kay, well I'm going to go. Andre has been with the kids all evening. Jeff, sweet dreams. Don't come to the conclusion without me!" said Shirley, before kissing Jeff on the forehead and heading for the door. Jeff looked like he might try to follow her but Britta pulled the taser out and he subsided. Pierce also left. He'd barely been awake since the show had finished so Shirley agreed to drive him home.
"Jeff, do you need to use the bathroom before you go to bed?" Annie asked politely.
"No mom. I'm a big boy now, if I need to go to the bathroom, I'll go."
"Okay then. You're in the bottom bunk. Troy, have you got the rope?" said Annie, not quite managing to hide a slightly wicked grin.
"What the hell?" exclaimed Jeff, from where he now sat on the bottom bunk. However, with Britta looming over him brandishing the taser again he didn't struggle as Troy bound him expertly but not uncomfortably to the bed. He continued to complain though. "Seriously guys, where do you think I'm going to go? I don't have my car or my wallet, and Annie has my phone..."
"Sorry Jeff, but even with your 'character developmen't, we simply don't trust you to stay here of your own volition. Besides, it's now so late it's early and we all want to get some sleep, which means leaving you unguarded. Given that temptation you would definitely attempt to escape. Abed worked out the probabilities and in pretty much all of them you run."
"Yeah, and in the one you didn't, it's cos you and A - ugh!" Troy was abruptly silenced by an elbow from Britta.
"Guys, you don't have to tie me to..." Jeff was silenced by Annie's finger pushing to his lips.
"Dream sweetly Jeff. If you need anything Abed is in the bunk above you. See you in the morning." She too kissed him on the forehead, before disappearing into her room. Jeff glared after her before redirecting his stare at Britta and Troy, who were watching him with a mixture of humour and affection. Troy hovered for a second, clearly thinking, before he gave Jeff a quick peck on the forehead.
"I always wanted to do that. It's just so big! Like a giant marshmallow. Night Jeff."
"Don't let the bedbugs bite your ass again, Winger," grinned Britta before following Troy to his room.
"Night Abed. Hey, Abed? Will it hurt, when I have my emotional breakthrough?" asked Jeff quietly. But he was answered only by Abed's gentle snores.
Jeff's dreams were far from sweet. Abed had unknowingly - well, probably knowingly in all honestly - hit upon a major issue in that Jeff was having serious difficulty finding a job in the area. He would prefer to stay close by, because in spite of everything he really felt that he belonged to this lovable group of misfits, and this sense of family wasn't something he was willing to give up. Alan had been as good as his word - huh, first time for everything - and blocked a number of potential employment opportunities not just at his former employers but at a number of the other large law firms in the area. Jeff knew this because the smug son-of-a-bee had left him a voicemail telling him as much. He had genuinely started applying for internships, figuring that once he had his foot in the door and made a good impression he could worm his way back to his former level of glory. But Abed's scenarios were doing their job. Jeff realised that he wasn't going to be able to be the smug, aloof jackass he was before he came to this crazy school. No longer would he be able to celebrate one of his rich, arrogant clients avoiding yet another charge of dangerous driving, or DUI, or kerb-crawling. For better or worse he now possessed feelings. He cared about the way his actions affected those around him. Especially the six people that he now the regarded as his family, his community. What if one of his clients went back on the road and hit someone. What if that someone were Pierce? Or Abed? Or - no. Some thoughts were too terrible to contemplate.
As for the group, Jeff could see that they genuinely were scared of him leaving them. And that was odd. Before Greendale and the study group no one had ever cared enough about how he made them feel to worry about whether he would be there when they woke up the next morning or not. And the thing that really worried, no, scared him, terrified him, was the possibility of losing any one of them. Or worse still, all of them. He couldn't be who he had become without the support of his six kidnappers. And if he was being completely honest with himself, which he was for the first time in a long time, he was scared of reverting back to the Jeff Winger of old. And that guy was such a jackass. Jeff couldn't begin to reconcile himself to the Jeff Winger that had walked into Greendale Community College three years ago. The only worthwhile thing that guy had done was to set up the study group, and even that he had only done to literally get in Britta's pants. Yeah, that guy was gone, and he wasn't welcome back.
These thoughts and more swirled around Jeff's head, keeping him from sleeping. There was no escaping them either, because there was no escaping the ropes that secured him to the bed. Normally he would probably have gone for a run and lost himself in the pounding of his feet on the pavement and the rushing of blood, the rhythm of his breathing. Or sat on his couch with just the television, a six pack and a bottle of Macallan. And he would have found an escape to all these doubts and questions. But Troy's knots held - he really had picked up sailing surprisingly well. Even if rafting was still beyond him. And there it was again. The group. They'd been through so much together. It wasn't only him that had changed. They had all grown so much from their time together, in a way that separately none of them could. And by cutting out early who knew what he would miss out on? How much more they would grow? Would they grow out of this mysterious affection they had for him? Was it worth the risk?
Finally Jeff drifted into a fitful sleep. Above him, Abed opened his eyes and grinned briefly, breathing a tiny "Pew" before falling back to sleep.
Jeff awoke to the smell of breakfast cooking. Without being able to see out of the blanket fort he assumed this heralded the return of Shirley, as the food was definitely cooking rather than burning. He peered around as much as he could to see if anyone was about, but could see no one.
"Guys? Is anyone there? ARGH!" he shrieked as three heads appeared from above. Annie, Abed and Britta gave him an upside-down grin.
"Morning sleepy head. How are you feeling?"
"Like I might have just had a heart attack! Seriously! Now I definitely have to pee. I assume that's allowed?"
Annie and Abed hopped down from the bunk and started to untie the ropes as Troy, Pierce and Shirley poked their heads into the fort.
"Good morning Jeff-rey. I hope you're hungry. I'm making breakfast omelettes - no yolks," said Shirley.
"Why would you joke about breakfast?" muttered Pierce, retreating.
As the last of the ropes fell away Jeff got up - stiffly - and hurried to the bathroom.
"How did we do, Abed? Did it work?" asked Annie.
"I calculate that our chances of success are about 89%. As long as nothing happens this morning to cause any sort of reversion I think we will pull it off."
"What sort of 'thing' could cause submersion?" wondered Britta.
"At this point it's hard to know. It depends on what conclusions Jeff came to last night and how he arrived there. Without knowing more any attempt to avoid any possible trigger could well be a trigger in itself. I propose we all act as we would normally so as not to spook him."
When Jeff returned from the bathroom the group had moved to the table and Shirley was dishing out the delicious breakfast. She put a pale looking omelette on Jeff's plate and bacon, egg and grits on everyone else's, apart from Britta, who also had an omelette - with yolks. There was little talk as the group shovelled down their food, beyond requests to pass the coffee/cream/sugar. When the forks came to a rest on the plates Jeff became aware of the furtive - and not so furtive - glances in his direction.
"Guys, I know you don't want to hear this, but I just need a little more time to think this through. And even though you kidnapped me, subjected me to amateur dramatics and then tied me to a bed, I appreciate it. Because no matter what I decide, you guys are my family." Jeff continued over Shirley's and Annie's "Awww," "But that works both ways. Because families support each other, no matter what. And so if I do decide that I want to graduate early, I need you guys to support me in that. I need to know that I can still turn to you, that you won't hold it against me if I decide this is something I have to do. Because I'm not going anywhere. I'm not leaving Greendale. Even if I'm not at college I'll still be here. And I need you guys to be here too. Because you guys are what inspire me. I'm not trying to impress anyone anymore. I'm just trying not to disappoint anyone. I don't want to disappoint you guys. You're all the validation I need. You give me the hope that I can be more than the shallow douche who started this study group. You've made me realise that even if I try at something and fail, the main thing is that I tried. With you guys behind me I'll always try. Because there might be free Caesar salad out there. Because maybe we can get Firefly back on the air. Because we are the locomotive that runs on us, our love is the steam that drives the engine. And so I will keep trying, because you guys, well you give me the hope to run out of steam. But now I really need to go home and think about this thing. But I'll see you all tomorrow morning. And I'll have your answer."
The group nodded appreciatively, Shirley and Annie discretely wiping away tears while Britta and Abed consoled Troy, who was weeping openly. Annie stood and handed Jeff his keys and phone. "Jeff, do you want a lift?" asked Shirley.
"No, thanks. I'm gonna jog. It helps me to think. I'll see you all tomorrow."
The following morning the group met in Study Room F. They were all there apart from Jeff. No one spoke, they just exchanged nervous glances between themselves and the door. After Jeff had left they had had a brief discussion where they acknowledged that perhaps they should have been more supportive of Jeff. In all his scenarios, Abed hadn't started a single one with the idea that they would actively encourage Jeff in pursuing his chosen career. And so when Jeff finally entered the study room there was a certain amount of hanging of heads before Annie finally worked up the nerves to say what they were all thinking.
"Jeff, we're sorry we treated you like the villain for wanting to get your life back on track. We never stopped to think that it wouldn't have been an easy decision for you, and instead of being pleased for you we just kidnapped you like you were the one being irrational. I mean, that's crazy town banana pants! So, we just want you to know, that if you do decide to graduate early, we're all behind you." The group all murmured their assent, uttering apologies as Jeff moved from the door to the table, putting down his books and phone but remaining standing.
"Thanks guys. That means a lot to me. And it makes this next part much easier." The faces around the table fell. "Okay, yesterday I thought a lot. And I realised that maybe I might be missing something important. I don't think that many people have a group of friends who will literally taser them and tie them to a bed to help them to make what could turn out to be major life decision. And I think they're missing out. Well, maybe not with the actual tasing, but with the sentiment behind it. So the fact that I have this amazing gift isn't something I should take lightly." Jeff paused to look around the table. Without exception he had their full attention, and he looked briefly into each of their rapt gazes before continuing.
"Three years ago, if somebody said we could be here, together, in this room now having been through the crap we've been through, I wouldn't have believed them. And in a sense I would have been right. Because none of us are the people we were three years ago. We're all better, and the reason we're better is because we're a we. We're not seven me's anymore, and we never will be again. But we're still learning. The events of yesterday prove that. I was maybe a little insensitive about the way I told you guys how I planned to graduate early, and although you guys were concerned for me, you kinda were more concerned about yourselves. But that's okay. We're all allowed to have selfish thoughts. The hard part is realising when they're the thoughts we're acting on. And I guess that although I had some reasons to graduate early, a lot of them were my reasons - the ones that only apply to me. And as to the other reasons, well, I can't count the reasons I should stay. And against them the selfish reasons disappear, one by one. They all just fade away." Looking around the table now Jeff could see hope in the eyes of his friends. And love. Though maybe that was there all along.
"I guess what I'm saying here is that I realise that we're not done yet. I don't think any of us are really ready for the real world. Maybe we never will be. But the best way to deal with that is to face it together. So I'm going to stay. And face the real world with you guys at the end of the year. Because who knows where we'll end up or who we might become. But I know that I don't want to miss finding out. Because you guys are my family and because, well, I love you guys, more than words can say."
Give me some rope
Tie me to dream
Gimme the hope
To run out of steam
It could be here
We could be roped up, tied up
Dead in a year
I can't count the reasons I should stay
One by one they all just fade away
Oh I love you more than words can say
Okay. This is the first time a story has literally written itself in my head, as opposed to me teasing it out. It started off as an idea that I would incorporate the lyrics of the theme - "At Least It Was Here" by The 88 - into a short funny fic. The thought stuck in my head and it stopped me writing my other fic, Anthropology: Extra Credit. So I thought, "What the hell, write the damn story so you can get on with your other fic." And then I realised I had to write it before the season restarts, because it's based on one of the teasers and once I knew what was going to happen I knew I would lose this story. But given that it was only gonna be about a thousand words that was no biggy. Yeah, right. So, this is it. I was going to call it "At Least It Was Here", but then remembered that nyclove3 already has an ongoing fic of that name. And then I realised that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get the line "We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year" to fit comfortably into the story without it feeling really forced, and I was already worried that some of the other lyrics have been shoe-horned in. So there it is, in the title. Oh, and that last line, that's in the full version of the song. Parts of this are directly influenced by scioscribes "The Tigers of Peace" over on ao3. If you recognise anything from anyone else, think of it as an homage. Thanks for reading.