Summary:Jeff and Annie have been hiding something from the study group. But the study group have been hiding something from Jeff and Annie, too.
Disclaimer: I don't own Community. And even if I did, I wouldn't tell you.
"Jeff, how long have you and Annie been dating?"
Admittedly, Jeff could have handled the situation better. He had just walked into the study room, fashionably late as always (although the study group would concede that for the last few months he hadn't been showing up as late), and his ass had just hit seat when Abed had hit him with the completely unexpected question. He sprang back up, sending the chair tipping over behind him with a thud as his eyes darted around the room to each of his friends before settling on Annie's empty chair. He was thankful that she was at a doctor's appointment and would be late. At least she wouldn't have to put up with these accusations for now.
Jeff took a brief second to consider his options. He couldn't play it cool or shrug it off with a dismissive joke; not when he still had to turn around and pick his chair up off the floor. Righteous anger was always a possibility, but that could lead to a "me thinks thou doth protest too much" reaction, which he needed to avoid. He discarded that choice, and settled instead on confused indignation.
"Abed, what on earth would make you think that Annie and I are dating?" Abed shrugged.
"It seemed the most likely way to explain this." That's when Jeff noticed Abed had his laptop in front of him, and felt dread slowly crawl up his spine as Abed opened it and pressed play on the video he had ready to go.
It was a short video, only a minute long. It was filmed through the small window in a stairwell door. Through the window, the hallway of Jeff's apartment building was visible. The hall was empty for a moment, and then Annie stepped into view. From her location, Jeff knew she had just gotten off the elevator. She turned to her right, away from the camera, and headed down toward the end of the hall. There she paused to straighten her skirt before knocking on a door. It swung open almost instantly, and Jeff stood in the doorway. The camera zoomed in close enough to see Jeff's wide grin while he spoke with Annie, and then Annie's shriek of laughter loud enough for the camera to pick up as Jeff lifted her by the waist and pulled her into a deep kiss, which she eagerly returned. Annie hitched her legs around Jeff and they stumbled back into his apartment, the door banging shut behind them.
Abed closed his laptop as Jeff sat there. On the outside he was completely still, but his mind was racing frantically, trying to find anything to say. Somehow he doubted the study group would buy "It's not like it looks like."
"Abed, were you following Annie? Do you have any idea how creepy and wrong that is?" Jeff kept his voice low and menacing, desperate to pull the attention of the study group away from him and Annie and towards whatever it was that Abed had been doing. In truth, Jeff was sure that Abed had a reasonable explanation for the footage, but in a situation such as this Jeff considered throwing a friend under the bus in order to buy himself some time to think a necessary tactic. Abed was unfazed by the accusation in Jeff's voice, however.
"Actually, I was doing location scouting for my next film project and I thought that the exterior of your apartment building would be perfect. I was doing test shots when I saw Annie arrive and I knew there was something strange going on, since she had mentioned earlier that afternoon that she was going to the library to study and wouldn't be back 'til late."
"You guys…it's not what it looks like?" Jeff hadn't intended for that to sound so much like a question, but was unable to prevent the rise in his voice. And yeah, he had decided less than a minute ago that the group would never buy that excuse, but he really didn't have anything better to offer at this point, so what the hell, right?
"Really?" Britta said. "Cause it looks like either you and Annie are dating, or you have some sort of 'friends with benefits' arrangement with each other, which seems unlikely, given that A – this is Annie we're talking about, and B – even you're not a big enough jerk to do that to her."
"Now Jeffrey, we're not mad. We just want the truth. How long have you and Annie been dating?"
"You know, you say you're not mad at me, but you still look like you're about three seconds away from beating me to death with your gigantic purse." Shirley sighed but put her bag down on the floor.
"Now will you talk to us?"
"No, because there's nothing to say. If there is anything going on between me and Annie – and that is not an admission of guilt– but if there is, the only two people that it concerns are me and Annie."
"Fine. But we will be asking Annie about this next time we see her, and you know that she'll crack eventually." Shirley said in her sweetest voice, and Jeff knew she was serious. He also knew that she was right. He groaned.
"Yes, Annie and I are dating. We have been for a while now."
"How long?" Pierce asked.
Jeff squirmed in his seat. This was the part that he and Annie had dreaded whenever they talked about telling the group. He imagined the fact that they had hid this for so long was not going to be easy to take, and he couldn't blame them, even if it had been for a good reason in the beginning. They just wanted some time to themselves, to make sure that they could work without the added pressure of the group watching their every move. A little time without the group's certain disapproval hanging over their heads would give them the chance to figure out what they had. But even after they realized it was something serious, they continued to hide, unable to find the right time to tell them, and now it was way too late to pretend like it wasn't a big deal. He briefly reconsidered his decision to protect Annie; not for his sake but he knew they would take the news better coming from her than they ever would from him.
"It's been about four months now."
The room grew still as everyone processed this information. Jeff just sat in his chair, confusion gnawing at the back of his mind. He hadn't expected such a subdued reaction. He was ready for shouts and cursing; quite possibly threats (mostly from Britta). But the quiet was somehow even more unnerving. When someone finally spoke, it was Britta, but what she said surprised him.
"No. We need to know exactly how long this has been going on."
"Why? What the hell is going on here?"
"Answer the question, Jeffrey." Jeff still wanted to know why they cared so much, but when Shirley asked him in her most mothering tone, he couldn't resist. It was unbelievable she could guilt him with that voice better than his own mother ever could.
"Uh…our first date was the Friday after we came back to school, so…the seventh, I guess?" His friends once again fell quiet. Troy broke the silence with a question Jeff did not expect.
"So, who won the pool?"
Chapter 2 (the final chapter) will be up soon.