Author: _wolfish_/R. Winter
Word Count: 8,071
Summary: Jeff's first summer at Greendale. Jeff is both trying to find a way for the South to win in their mandatory civil war reenactment and to patch things up with Annie, who is awkward and avoidant. This includes not killing her new crush with his plastic Bowie knife.
Author's Note: The prompt was Jealous!Jeff, set post finale (season 2 or summer), and Troy and Abed in ridiculous costumes. She did not want Jeff and Annie to already be in a relationship. And believe me, I did not originally intend for the story to be 8,000+ words, but it had to take its course! I thoroughly enjoyed writing this and loved the prompt for Jealous!Jeff.
It took Jeff about three days to decide that he needed out of Greendale and out fast. What was with all of these character building experiences? Jeff did not want to be a better person. He wanted to be petty and cheap and manipulative. The executive decision to skip college and all this ‘finding yourself’ crap had unquestioningly been the right one. So, he loaded up on summer courses, and it was painful indeed to voluntarily sign up for U.S. history, both 101 and 102, four hours every day for five weeks. He didn’t even want to spend that much time with himself, let alone with twenty other of Greendale’s brightest and finest.
Sure, maybe he’d had other plans for the summer. Like staring at $125 dollar bottles of wine in the liquor store, experiencing two parts deepest self-loathing, one part bitter nostalgia, and then purchasing enough cases of beer to put away a herd of oxen. And not the good kind of beer, the kind that advertises its calories as a selling point. But that had all changed. There would be no dressing up like he was still a lawyer and picking up chicks in the shoe department of Sak’s Fifth Avenue. There would only be his eyes glazing over forty-seven times a day at every mention of the words ‘date’ and ‘historical figure.’ It seemed so wrong that he had to spend MORE time here to get out faster. He was Jeff Winger, for Christ’s sake, he should be able to find a loophole. There had to be clause somewhere.
Jeff slumped down the hallway towards his class, brown aviators on, black coffee in hand. He stopped writing the room numbers down long ago, how many were there here anyway? Fourteen? One circular route of the building pretty much always yielded a success.
“Hey there,” Abed said, virtually materializing out of nowhere, causing Jeff to jump.
After recovering, Jeff asked, “What, are you taking a course this summer too?”
“Abed, it’s 8 AM, what are you doing here?”
“I always take this walk in the morning. It’s nice to start the day with a sense of—”
“I’m sorry, that explanation is already too long for my hangover.”
“Hangover? You’re back to treating your problems with substance abuse? I thought we were passed that. This is like a step backwards, I don’t understand.”
“And I’m not going to explain it to you.”
Abed shrugged and they walked the length of the next few classrooms in silence. Jeff stopped in front of the only room he could hear people in, sighed despondently, and started to walk in. He stopped dead.
There Chang and Annie were, laughing and giggling like a pair of pre-teen girls at a stuffed animal tea party. He pursed his lips as they both looked up. Jeff opened his mouth, but Chang beat him to it.
“Yes, Winger, I am the T.A.,” he said, standing with his hands on his hips. “I’m taking over for Professor Hammond. He’s taken deathly ill, some talk of having been poisoned.” He laughed softly to himself, looked a bit awkwardly around the room, then added, “But I wouldn’t know anything about that.”
Jeff started to speak again.
“Yes, it is past the deadline to drop this class.”
“No, it is not refundable. Sit down.” Chang got up from the edge of the desk neighboring Annie’s, grabbed a piece of chalk, and began to draw something completely indecipherable on the chalkboard.
Jeff gritted his teeth, mentally preparing himself for what lie ahead. Annie had taken a fervent interest in her blank notebook page.
“Wow, there it is again.” Abed said before Jeff had moved.
“What?” Jeff responded distractedly.
“I thought I smelled sexual tension when I woke up this morning, but we got that all out at the dance. But there it is again.” He turned and continued walking down the hallway, audibly mumbling to himself and asking questions to no one.
Jeff swallowed as he watched Abed leave and took his seat behind and over from Annie’s. As he tried not to watch her every slight movement, he painfully wished he had spiked his coffee with Kahlua. Was that also a coffee on her desk? He felt this was a prime moment to make some psychoactive stimulant joke but didn’t feel it would adequately be appreciated.
Speaking of uppers and downers, Jeff himself had never been so rollercoaster emotion-wise. He felt like a fifty-year old woman going through menopause, hot flashes, hormonal imbalance, and all. And over what? A kiss. Alright it was a make out, but he had gotten farther under his high school bleachers and hadn’t felt so much as a stomach fluttering. After she’d pulled away, he might’ve actually blushed. Blushed. His hands were still in her hair, her sweet-smelling hair, and he was blushing like they were experimental sorority girls. And then, there it was, the look of total horror, the look he should have expected to come if he’d had any kind of foresight a single day in his life. She’d sputtered something incomprehensible that sounded like “Britta” and “have to get home”. Like “Brihavehoma.” He could understand her feelings of guilt, if that’s what they were, but to be honest, he’d felt nothing like that at the time. He was kind of hurt. And it had been two weeks ago. The very idea that emotions could endure for longer than 15 seconds before instant repression was alien to him.
As students started filing in, he looked for Britta. He actually thought she would’ve been the one he’d be awkwardly avoiding at this point, but she’d called immediately and they’d managed to hash everything out. The gist: she got carried away trying to beat Slater. Her words: “Jeff, I was standing there in a sash and a tiara, fighting over a MAN at a community college dance. Do you really think I was myself?” Fair enough. They’d signed up for this class together, agreeing that Greendale had a bad influence on all parties involved.
Everyone was seated. Still no Britta, but at least Chang’s picture had taken a definitive shape. Or at least Jeff thought it had. It looked like two dinosaurs biting giant chunks out of the Earth.
“U.S. History!” Chang exclaimed, gesturing at the board, and then throwing his chalk at an unsuspecting student.
Britta shot through the door just as Chang had kicked up the stopper, trying as ever to be unsuccessfully subtle.
“Ten points from Hufflepuff!” Chang yelled without even acknowledging her.
Britta looked affronted, mouthing ‘Hufflepuff?’ to herself as she threw her bag over the back of her desk.
Chang started doing some impromptu gun shot noises and explosions, his hands thrown hugely in the air, his face contorted into enormously obnoxious expressions.
“Violence, upheaval, throwing useless British beverages off of boats and calling that a war. This is what the United States is founded on. You, with the hat,” Chang said pointing at a kid with a Yankees hat on. “A true American would wear a Red Sox hat. Get out.”
The kid froze. “Get out, get out, get out, get out,” Chang said, shooing him out the room. He threw himself into Hammond’s desk, propping his feet up. “What an arrogant team.”
He leaned over the edge of the desk, looking serious and dangerous.
“America is based on a history of being true to ideals. A real class would have come together and kicked that dissenter out, not relied on their world weary, brutal dictator to do the dirty work for them. A democracy is about doing the dirty work yourself, and then writing a proclamation about it. Group project due next week as a punishment.”
A young kid in the back raised his hand. Bold, Jeff thought.
“What is it, Paul Revere?”
“Do we get to pick our partners?”
Chang crossed the room to stand over his desk, as looming and threatening as a 5’6 man can be.
“Does the Statue of Liberty stand for justice?”
Britta leaned over and whispered to Jeff, “I thought it stood for liberty, you know, freedom.”
“Pick your partners,” Chang said with a flighty hand gesture. “Two each. Your project is on…” he pondered thoughtfully. Jeff wondered if he ever actually used a curriculum. “The birth of our nation,” he added with serious gravity. He meandered over to the teacher’s desk and flipped open a Twilight novel.
“Let’s be partners,” Britta said, her head on the table, not looking up. He turned to her, remembering how he couldn’t pay her a year ago to be his partner. How the tables had turned.
“Was there some kind of BYOB feminist rally last night?”
“Shut up,” she said. “I would kill for a coffee right now.”
“Would you kill an endangered panda for one?”
She lifted her head, glaring at him. Annie, seemingly having caught the end of their conversation, turned brightly towards Britta, extending a long arm over.
“Here, Britta, take mine,” she said, walking a fine line between sincerity and over-enthusiasm.
Britta looked at her as if she were offering her first born. “Seriously, take it. I’m still trying to get a taste for coffee, I might just stick with diet Coke.”
“Thanks so much, Annie,” Britta said with genuine gratitude.
And in his periphery, like a shark coming up from the depths, he saw the kid from earlier making a beeline for them. For Annie. Annie caught Jeff’s gaze and followed it to The New Kid.
“Hi,” he said to her. He glanced nervously to Jeff and Britta. Jeff had to quell a particularly strong desire to mock him.
“I was wondering if you had a partner yet?” Wow, he was quick out of the gate. Seabiscuit couldn’t have beat him to Annie.
“Oh,” she said. “No, not yet.”
“My name is Shawn, do you want to partner up?”
“Sure,” Annie responded with the tiniest of curtsies. Oh my God, she was giddy and nervous. Jeff noticed for the first time that the Backstreet Boy was actually pretty attractive. He readjusted himself in his seat, sitting up a little straighter. Annie waved at Britta, gathering her things, and went to sit with Shawn. She had not even looked at him.
Britta was smiling at them. “Just out of a relationship, and she’s already got a new prospect. She certainly doesn’t have to wait around for guys. I bet a lot of work is going to get done in that group.”
Jeff made kind of a snort, kind of a ridiculing laugh. It was mostly an embarrassing sound.
“Whatever,” he said as a cover. “You need to get on doing my part of the project for me.”
One week had passed. Their group project was almost due, and because of this, Annie had sat by ‘Shawn’ the entire time, laughing, discussing things in secret, basically being incredibly annoying. Annie was so distracted sometimes she even forgot to answer every question Chang proposed, causing innocent students to answer incorrectly and be forced to stand in a corner for the remainder of class.
“Hey chatty Cathy, yeah, I mean you Revere,” Chang said. Shawn snapped away from whispering something to Annie.
“What amendment abolished slavery?”
“The .. thirteenth?”
“Great job! Now you can ride on out of here for disturbing my classroom.”
Jeff smirked again. Shawn gathered his books solemnly and walked out of the room. Chang made obscenely repulsive crying noises.
“The british are coming, the british ARE COMING!” Shawn hurried out.
“Anyways, what was I saying? Right. Why didn’t Edward and the Cullens just kill Hitler?”
Four hours of this hell later, class finally ended. Jeff shot out of the room so fast he practically broke the sound barrier.
“The thirteenth?” Jeff said in his most impressively mocking voice. He could hardly contain himself, he’d been maintaining a façade of maturity for far too long.
“I don’t know,” Britta said, struggling to keep up as they walked towards the cafeteria hall. Abed hung in the rear critically inspecting posters and other miscellaneous flyers on the wall. “I like him.”
“Oh God, you too?”
“I think he’s great for Annie. You don’t think he’s an improvement over Vaughn?”
“He is more age appropriate,” Abed suggested. Jeff bristled.
“Please, listening to the new Justin Bieber album at full volume in his used Honda doesn’t make him a better match for Annie.”
Abed looked at him acutely. Jeff ignored him.
“You could always take him under your wing and show him the ropes of wearing women’s leather pants,” Britta said smiling.
“You’re just happy he’s not your ex-boyfriend.”
“That I am.”
“So, you guys are okay?” Abed said as they entered the cafeteria line and began to peruse the various, indistinguishable food items.
“Hm?” Britta asked, making a face at the juicy red, far too rare hamburger meat.
“Things seem like they’re back to normal between you too. I mean, it wasn’t that long ago you were making public proclamations of love.”
“Yes, Abed,” she said, her teeth gritted. “We’re fine. Jeff and I are just friends.”
“I’ve heard that one before,” he said, filling a plate with only string beans and walking off to a table. Britta rolled her eyes.
“How long do you think we’re going to have to deal with that?”
“I don’t know, the next four years at this place,” Jeff offered. “And if Shirley has anything to do with it, I’ll probably be hearing about this at my son’s bar mitzvah.”
“Bar mitzvah? Are you Jewish?”
Britta looked confused. Jeff darted into the booth with Abed. Troy saved him from having to answer by sliding into the seat next to Abed. He looked at Britta and Jeff.
“Oh, so you picked Britta.”
Britta’s eyes were practically stuck in the back of her head.
He smiled at Jeff. “I’m happy for you man,” and then turned suddenly intense. “But Britta’s a good dancer. Don’t you dare douse the fire inside her.”
“Troy,” Britta said in a very forced calm, her palms pressed flat against the table top. “Jeff and I—”
Jeff turned to look at Annie. Her hair was so perfect and put together. He thought he could almost smell it. Snapping out of it, he realized the close quarters he and Britta were in. After all, they were sitting with Troy and Abed at a four person table. It practically looked like they were double dating. Did Annie think they were together?
Annie had approached on Jeff’s side, but immediately (and most awkwardly) routed around to Britta’s, her quick, flustered steps betraying her nervousness.
“I brought this for you,” she said, offering Britta a plate of something that looked absolutely horrible. “It’s a slice of tofu cake. I saw it at the café and, well, I thought you might enjoy it.”
“Wow, thanks Annie. Anybody want some?”
The entire table leaned back in their seats.
“Oh come on! You all would trample each other for cake made up of more fake chemicals and toxins than Paris Hilton, but a taste of something pure and natural is disgusting to you?”
“Cake,” Troy said, shaking his head longingly. He’d obviously stopped listening at that part.
Annie smiled timidly, pulling on her fingers, leaning slightly on her left foot with that flawless posture of hers. Her eyes flickered briefly between Jeff and Britta.
“Well,” she said. “Bye guys!” And with the fastest wave in human history, she departed to her table with Bieber.
“Hey look,” Troy said, motioning across the cafeteria with his giant smoothie cup. “There’s Team Slater.” Britta turned in her chair so fast she could’ve broken her neck from the whiplash.
Maybe it was because Jeff didn’t even so much as react, maybe it was because he was still gazing over at Annie’s table. But Abed looked quickly between him and Annie’s table and then gasped as if he’d just seen Steven Spielberg vegetable shopping.
“Slater! A red herring!”
Jeff snapped to attention and raised his index finger to Abed in an uncannily accurate portrait of Clinton denying his relations with ‘that woman.’
“What?” Troy asked.
Taking Jeff’s cue, Abed shook his head. “Oh. Outside. I just saw one.” Jeff diverted his pointed finger from Abed to pointing out the window.
“Oh man!” Troy shot up, grabbing his backpack. “I need a picture of that for my bird watching collection!”
Britta, who was beating Slater down with a killer glare, had not noticed. Abed and Jeff stared at each other, two gunslingers at dawn.
Britta made a disgusted noise. “I’m out of here,” she said, slinging that ridiculously hipster purse over her shoulder.
This left them alone at the table.
“What happened after the dance, Jeff?” Abed said in that curiously deadpan voice of his.
“Nothing happened,” Jeff replied, turning sulky and combative.
“It makes sense now, at least. I think she’d be a lot happier at a real university, I didn’t understand why she’d want to stay here.”
“Well¸ she’s not staying for me,” he said, pushing his uneaten food aside and standing up.
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”
Jeff rounded the booth, walking past Annie’s table towards the exit. She resolutely kept her eyes glued to her milk carton. Inanimate objects became so interesting every time he was around now. He was going to have to do something about this.
Chang walked into the classroom, dressed from head to toe in a green military uniform with a giant red sash on the arm sleeve.
“Yankees cap,” he said pointing at the kid who had long since learned not to wear that hat, but who would forever be remembered as such. “What am I?”
The poor guy looked terrified. “A … communist?”
“How. Dare. You,” Chang said, closing in on the kid’s desk.
“You think just because I’m dressed like this and look like this,” he said, pointing to his eyes, and doing that horrible Chinese Man impression, “that that makes me a COMMUNIST? Get out.”
He pulled him out of the chair, Yankees hat didn’t even bother resisting this time. “Why don’t you go black ball some more innocents and make McCarthy proud!”
Chang slammed the door.
“Yes, mi amigos, this is a Chinese communist uniform. We will be doing a reenactment of the civil war to commemorate the 4th of July, and this is the type of realism I expect in your costumes.”
“Why would we be doing the civil war for the 4th of July? Wouldn’t that be the British— ?” Annie started to say.
“Zip it, hot lips.”
Britta raised her hand.
“Yes, all women will be disguised as men to maintain the integrity of the reenactment.”
She looked outraged.
“This is your midterm, people. If I don’t see some gruesome and disturbing deaths on our football field next Thursday, you’re all getting F’s.”
Then he started numbering people out, “Confederate, confederate, Union, union, wow, clearly a confederate (to Britta), yankee, yankee, confederate,” and so on.
Annie smiled at Shawn. They were both in the union. He and Britta were confederates. Jeff knew there’d be at least one person he’d enjoy fake killing.
“I can’t believe we have to fight on the side of slavery, Jeff,” Britta said as they walked towards the study room.
“Please henceforth refer to me as Robert E. Lee.”
They sat down in their respective places at the study room table. Abed entered shortly after with a stack of boxes in his hands.
“Alright, so this is all the theater department has. My google research says it’s pretty authentic but we’re probably going to have to add a little personal flavor to them.”
“Wait, are you in our class?”
“No, but it’s the middle of the summer. I’ve got nothing better to do. Plus, I’ve always wanted to direct a death scene.”
“I hope I’m the first to be offed, I’ve got better ways to spend my Thursday.”
Then he heard it. The one sound that had quickly become the most unbearable sound in all of Greendale. And that’s topping Dean Pelton’s voice over the intercom, which is truly saying something.
“Oh my gosh, Shawn, you really are so funny,” Annie said, as she entered the study room laughing. It was strange, he used to like that laugh, even miss it when it wasn’t there. Now he hated it, hated it reverberating down the 14-classroom halls, not ever once directed at something he said.
“Oh,” she said, stopping short. “We can find somewhere else.”
“It looks like the rest are taken,” Shawn said, craning his neck outside the door.
“Don’t be silly, you two can study with us,” Britta said patting the table.
Annie stared at the study table with an overt discomfort. Fantastic. The gospel of Shirley had reached yet more deaf ears. Her inner struggle was obvious; create yet another awkward scene that might continue to draw attention to her total weirdness or just sit at the table. The table on which Jeff and Britta had consummated their definitely-not-in-the-aftermath-of-the-T
With footsteps that looked like they were desperate for another solution, she took her typical seat. She did not place her books on the surface, but continued to search the table-top as if she might somehow get microvision and see the germs themselves. Troy walked in at that moment, high fived Abed, and then stared at Shawn like the total outsider he was.
“Hey Random Kid,” he said pointing to the empty seat he was about to sit in to Annie’s right. “That’s Shirley’s seat.”
He moved one over.
He got up again, starting to look a bit uncomfortable. He continued around the table.
Finally, he went full circle and chose to the chair to Annie’s left, the one directly next to Jeff. He looked hopefully back at Troy.
“Yeah, that one is open,” Troy said with a big smile. “Welcome to the group, I’m Troy.”
As they shook hands, Jeff glanced at the kid who was not one foot from him. His face could not have been a tighter mask of thinly veiled anger. Then Shawn turned to Jeff.
“Hi, I’ve seen you in class, but I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Shawn,” he said holding his hand out.
He sighed. He could put this misguided sense of jealousy behind him, right?
He got up, shaking his hand. “I’m Jeff. I think we’ll know each other a lot better next week when I’m putting a calvary saber into your stomach,” he said, laughing like (he might as well admit it) a crazy person.
“Jeff,” Britta warned.
“Oh, I’m just joshin’. Historically accurate, though, am I right?”
“Troy, what are you even doing here?” Jeff interrupted, shifting the attention. “I thought you were living with Pierce.”
“I have to keep coming up here to do some weird lab tests. Something about needing my DNA to create the perfect person, but I keep telling them. My ears are weirdly shaped,” he said, pulling an ear out for the group to see.
As usual, no one knew what to say.
“Let’s try the costumes on.” Thank God for Abed.
Britta pulled the male costume out. She put the overcoat on Jeff, brushing off the dust.
“Well, don’t you look dashing?”
“I’ll be right back,” Annie said. “I need to go to the bathroom.” Gone at the speed of light.
“You guys need a slave? I can make a mean chicken casserole.”
“Troy. That is wrong on so many levels.”
“Whatever you say, massa.”
“You can even use me as a meat shield on the battlefield.” He was getting more and more excited by the second.
“There was a hobo costume in there,” Abed proposed.
“Yes!” Troy squealed, pumping his fist.
Shawn leaned over to him. Great, one of his trademarked ‘hilarious comments.’
“Your study group isn’t like other study groups, is it?”
Jeff acted as if he’d seen an incredible piece of lint on his pant leg.
Britta glanced down at her phone. “Oh, I’m late for a haircut.”
“You mean you don’t cut it yourself?” Jeff asked.
“I used to until—” but she stopped as she looked up, seeing the smug expression on his face.
“Whatever, you take care of this. You owe me one for the last project I did completely by myself the night before.”
“Fine. Peace sister,” he said holding up a hand that did not get high-fived.
Abed was inspecting the second costume. It was nice that being Jeff meant he never had to do any work.
“Where’d .. Britta go?” Annie said slowly as she stepped back in the room.
This could be Annie’s first question that was addressed ambiguously, not pointedly excluding Jeff. Wow, their very first convo Post-Kiss. If only he had the twitter app. He had to celebrate. So, in his best Southern accent, “Look for her in books, for she is no more than a dream remembered. She is gone with the wind.”
Abed looked like he might pee himself. “Good one, Jeff.”
Her cheeks flushed ever so slightly. Jeff mentally noted, ‘Likes Southern Accent.’
“Oh, that’s a shame,” she said pulling something ghastly out of her bag and sitting down. “I was going to give her this cat sweater I made. Yeah, I know, it’s not very good. Well, look at me, you think I’d be good at knitting but I’m just not.”
She did have the hands for it.
“Ugh, I have to go pee in a cup again,” Troy said, stamping his feet. “I’ll be back later,” and he left in Jeff’s confederate stamped hat.
“Let’s go to the costume department, too, Shawn!” Annie said, leaping up.
“You always have the best ideas, Annie.”
They left. Jeff felt like a leper.
“God, is he going to be waiting on her doorstep with a cup of warm milk for her later?”
“Jealousy isn’t very becoming of you, Jeff,” Abed pointed out. Jeff made a face. Typical Winger.
“You know what you need to do? You need to look at her and say,” he paused, standing. Then, he transformed into character.
“Scarlett! Look at me! I've loved you more than I've ever loved any woman and I've waited for you longer than I've ever waited for any woman.”
Oh, what monster had Jeff created?
“Here's a soldier of the South who loves you, Scarlett. Wants to feel your arms around him, wants to carry the memory of your kisses into battle with him. Never mind about loving me, you're a woman sending a soldier to his death with a beautiful memory. Scarlett! Kiss me! Kiss me!”
There was only one thing Jeff could say.
“I'm very drunk and I intend on getting still drunker before this evening's over.”
There may or may not have been a small crowd amassed outside the study room watching the scene.
Jeff could sport a confederate uniform like he’d lived on a cotton farm his entire life. Maybe he’d been born in the wrong era. He wasn’t meant to lie to juries and blur the truth. He was meant to lie to armies and incite unnecessary wars.
Britta looked miserable, her hair stuffed under what was not an attractive cap circa the early 1800s.
“I thought you’d be happy showing that women can be just as good at being soldiers as men.”
“Yeah, Jeff, because faking my death on the Greendale football field is really going to make a statement about women in the military.”
Jeff put on his hat, slung his fake musket over his back, and, at 6’4, he felt he was a pretty imposing force to be reckoned with. The battle/football field was actually pretty impressive. A huge fortification of sand bags had been built on their side of the field (home side, the irony) and a makeshift fence had been built all around it, so he couldn’t even see what lie in the middle. Dean Pelton was to their right instructing a worker to keep moving a sand bag back and forth.
“No, just an inch to the right, little bit to the left.” The man was bent over, the Dean just behind him. “Yes, that’s looking good, little bit over, yeah, that’s looking verrry good.. Oh!” The Dean had caught his eye.
“Yes, yes, that’s fine,” he said, shooting over. “Hello everyone! I hope you enjoy today’s battle. We put quite a budget behind all of you to lose, so don’t disappoint. With any luck, we’ll be in tomorrow’s paper! The penny ads, I mean, not the real one.”
An awkward silence.
“Anywayyys, please avoid damaging the grass, we have a practice game on Saturday. Toodle-loo!”
Jeff looked at Britta, barely able to contain himself.
“I’m feeling pretty good about this. What happens if we win?”
“We can’t win, Jeff, it’s a reenactment. We have to stick to what happened.”
“Nah, I don’t like that. I think we should secede this time around. I don’t like a nation that refuses to accept my fake undergraduate diploma. This could be our chance to rewrite history.”
“I think you’re taking this a little too seriously.”
“Ain’t we going to get this show on da road or what, missus?!” Troy said, a smile far too big on his face for both a.) the outfit he was wearing and b.) the sentence that just came out of his mouth.
Britta’s mouth fell open.
Abed came up behind him, looking just as dashing as Jeff in his uniform.
“If only your father could see you now,” Jeff said taking in his brilliantly detailed costume.
“Oh, this,” Abed said looking down. “The southerners always get a bad rap, but I personally like all the charm and gentility. Plus, they were underarmed, undermanned, and pretty unsupported. You guys need all the help you can get.”
He opened a huge duffle bag. “Here are your blood balloons.” He handed them all little bags they could easily attach to their belts, filled with miniature balloons containing a dark, murky substance.
“What?” he and Britta said at the same time, taking them.
“Abed! This is awesome!” Troy said and started to through one at Abed.
“No! The South has to stick together,” he said gravely. “Plus, if Chang doesn’t see this fake blood on your clothes, he’ll fail you for being a deserter.”
Troy nodded compliantly.
“The big ones have firecrackers in them. They’ll explode. Use them like grenades.”
“I feel like we’re going to win already,” Jeff said haughtily in his southern accent.
“Oh no, I gave the North a case of these too. More in fact, bigger and better. They did have industrialism on their side.”
“Jeff, you’re fighting for your homeland, for your way of life. Did you think this would be easy?”
“This is getting a little too intense for me,” Britta said looking at her blood balloons.
“Look, Perry, you’ve left men and women behind, your brothers and sisters, sick and dying in the blood splattered hills and meadows of this messy war. You’re not giving up now, not ever. They’re trying to take something no Southerner can stand to lose; your pride. Now we’re walking onto that battlefield, side by side, and showing those damn Yankees what we’re made of.” Abed put his arm out like they might waltz onto to the football field.
Britta seemed stirred by the speech and hooked arms with him.
“Reinforcements, reinforcements!” Garrett screeched like a lunatic, bursting around the edge of the fortification. He doubled over, panting, his confederate uniform approximately 16 sizes too small.
They all looked at him expectantly as a few dozen students filed in behind him.
“Chang is giving anyone willing to participate in battle a 100 to replace an existing exam score, an 85 if you pick the side of ‘traitors.’”
“How many classes is he TA’ing for??”
“I’ve got him for English,” Garrett said.
“I’m taking Philosophy and Physics with him,” a random kid said.
Britta rolled her eyes.
“Why did you guys come over here? You don’t want 100’s?” she asked.
“The union side is full.”
“How many students is full?”
Abed started handing everyone fake muskets that were manifesting mysteriously out of a giant black trunk. When those ran out, he handed them little hand guns and plastic Bowie knives. Then, he stood on top of a box and addressed the crowd.
“We fight for men and women whose poetry is not yet written but which will presently be as enviable and as renowned as any. When you attack, you must hold nothing back. We are adrift here in a sea of blood, and I want it to end. I want this to be the final battle. Southerners! For your land - for your homes - for your sweethearts - for your wives - for the South! Forward... march!”
There was a five second pause then everyone burst into applause, even the Dean.
As they rushed onto the battlefield, Jeff asked Abed, “Did you make all of that up?”
“No. Little bit of Glory, little bit of Gettysburg. I’m not going to get a good death out of Britta if she’s not into it.”
The field was huge and shaped incredibly like a maze. Somehow he didn’t think this was what the civil war was like.
Jeff lost everyone he was within about 4 seconds flat, and crouched behind one of several hundred huge columns, clutching his plastic musket. Given the complexity of this battlefield/laser tag arena, he wondered if the drama club (who HAD to have built this) was not finally getting their revenge for Paintball Assassin.
He tried to gather his thoughts. He needed to fake kill a few people for an A, at least. Chang was probably standing on platform somewhere or in the stands chewing popcorn and grading their determination to kill and die effectively. But you know what would be even better than that? Seeing Annie’s face when he blood balloon grenaded Shawn.
Jeff slid up the wall and ducked around the corner. He could hear muted screams and shouts (attack orders from Abed?) as he moved quickly down the narrow row. There was a giant crash behind one of the partitions to his right. He picked up the pace, rounding several corners, making his way closer to the noises and howls. As he spun around another corner, he quite unexpectedly found himself in the middle of a huge battle area. There were two crossed flags at the center, a confederate and American flag. Did they not have a Union flag? Was there a Union flag?
A blood balloon exploded a few feet to his left as he practically fell over himself to find cover. Good lord, where was his meat shield?
Another person was behind the giant sand bags with him. It was Garrett. His confederate hat was practically soaked through with sweat.
“This is crazy,” Jeff hissed.
“There’s been a change of rules,” he gasped. “All we have to do is kill the general to win.”
“Who’s the general?” Jeff demanded. He didn’t know why, but he liked the idea of the South winning the civil war during a Greendale reenactment.
“Some kid, looks kind of like that singer. ‘I’mma tell you one time.’”
“You know that song?”
“No. Do you?”
“No.” They looked at each other skeptically.
Jeff scrambled inside his blood bag, pulling out a ‘grenade.’ Garrett’s eyes were huge.
“I’m on it.”
And in a perfect lob he tossed the balloon over his shoulder, watching it arc in a textbook parabola, and fall right behind the Union’s enemy lines. People popped out and started running for their fake lives. He nailed several before the balloon exploded in a deafening firecracker pop.
“Holy crap!” Jeff yelled, barely managing to get out of the splash zone.
He could feel a few flecks hit his face as he ducked back down by Garrett. When he heard no movement, he glanced back over and saw several students strewn about the area, still and lifeless. But then one student, who had pretended to be dead, shot up and leaped around a wall. Jeff threw a tiny blood balloon but missed her by a few inches.
“Bravo!” A keenly annoying, former Spanish teacher’s voice boomed from somewhere. Did he have a megaphone?
Abed burst out from behind another set of sand bags and gave Jeff a hand up.
“You cleared the area, but it looks like a scout is going to make it back to General Shawn. My sources say he’s not far.”
“Who is our general?”
Abed looked at him solemnly.
“But you’re not even in our class!”
“Chang said he liked my style.”
“You could get killed at any second, why are you out here on the field?”
“A real general fights with his troops, Jeff. If we take a covered route to the north there,” he said, pointing with a plastic Bowie knife. “We should be able—”
“I’ve got a better plan, sir.”
“What is it, colonel?
That was pretty high ranking, right? Cool.
“How are you going to get them?”
Jeff looked deliberately at the ‘dead’ Union soldiers on the ground. Abed nodded, understanding.
Jeff ran down a lane in his new Union’s uniform. It had not been easy to procure it off of Starburns, who had badly wanted to keep his clothes despite being dead. Finally, a loud voice had blared, “Give him the outfit or you fail, Starburns!” Where the hell WAS Chang?
He passed four Union soldiers on the way, who all nodded at him respectfully, but he didn’t kill them. He whistled four short bursts. Abed would take care of them. He could hear her voice, he thought. He was getting excited, nervous even. He peaked around the edge of what had to be the last constructed wall. There were only a few guarding him and Annie. They stood on a raised platform looking down a huge map.
“Marissa says he was just seen here, we should probably send a few to capture, not kill. This could still end in a peaceful resolution.”
Jeff rolled his eyes as Annie made her long cooing ‘Oooohh’ sound. Wow, he should just kill himself now.
He only had a little ammunition left, he’d given to rest of his to Abed and Britta, but he knew what to do. He tossed a balloon grenade into the center of the guards.
“Get down!” Shawn yelled, dragging Annie behind the podium. It went off, splattering everyone in sight. Jeff lurched out from behind his cover, jumping up to the podium. He scooped Annie up in his arms, she was remarkably light, and looked down at a surprised and disheveled Shawn.
“If you want to see her alive again, you’ll meet at the flags in 15 minutes.”
He took off. Shawn yelled, “There’s a SPY! THERE’S A SPY! Get him!”
It was not as easy running with a girl in your arms who was wriggling very desperately to be free. He was whistling like crazy as he dodged countless students. He started to really think he might not make it. He threw himself backwards into a cubby hole stacked with sand bags, Annie crashing with him. He saw a grenade, it had to be Abed’s last, roll in front of the approaching Union feet, directly in front of their cubby hole. His hands were tied up with, you know, the black haired girl he’d abducted. He bear hugged her because this was the end. At the last second, Annie grabbed two sand bags and blocked the explosion.
Then all was quiet.
Annie struggled to get out of his hold and bounced up. He went after her, but she stopped short. They both peered around the edge, his head right above hers.
A few feet away, Abed knelt over Britta, propping her up in his arms.
“You took the bullet for me,” he said, brows furrowed.
She coughed a few times. He put his hand to her cheek, brushing the hair and fake blood away.
“We smoked some of those Yanks, right?” she said in a startlingly good Georgia accent.
“Yeah, we got ’em,” he said. She put her hand over his.
“Tell my mom I wasn’t afraid.”
She coughed a few more times (a bit melodramatic, Jeff thought) then her head went limp. Abed laid her down, kissed her forehead, and put his hands over her eyes.
He walked towards them.
“What about the plan?”
“It’s personal now,” Abed said.
“But she’s dead.”
“If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever. The Crow.” He continued walking, slow and purposeful.
Annie looked at Jeff, a softness and vulnerability in her eyes. He started to reach for her hair.
“Don’t you dare!” she said, suddenly remembering their situation.
She started beating him, hard, her palm repeatedly pummeling his chest.
“I should’ve died rather than negotiate with a terrorist!”
“All is fair in love and war,” he said, grabbing her hand and pulling her down the passage towards Abed.
“I. Am. Not. Going. With. You,” she said between sharp breaths. Finally, she managed to use his momentum against him, tripping him, and breaking free. She scrambled up. He jumped to his feet behind her as she started running away.
“I guess I could just kill you,” he said, blood balloon in hand.
She stopped dead. “You wouldn’t,” she said, turning to face him. He closed the gap between them in a few long steps.
“You know, I’m a bit surprised. I thought you’d be dying to get back to your little Napoleon boyfriend.”
“What? Is that what this is about? You took me hostage so you could kill Shawn?”
“No, this is about winning a war.”
“It’s just a class, Jeff.”
“Is it? Because I’ve taken a lot of classes with you, and you always sit in the first row, third seat over.”
She looked surprised that he knew that.
“It’s not just any class. You like that guy.”
She looked like she might take the high road and just walk away from him. But, no, she couldn’t. He could see the anger rising to boiling point.
“Oh please, who cares if I like him? You don’t! Like you’re not palling around with Britta every chance you get. I’m ‘a bit surprised’ you guys don’t have friendship bracelets by now.”
“Really? Maybe you could KNIT us some?”
“How dare you, my knitting is good!”
She said, taking a step closer. He could practically smell her breath (it smelled good.)
“You know what’s better than your knitting? How you’ve been going out of your way to give Britta presents and jumping at her every wish. ‘Here’s some tofu cake Britta, here’s a cat sweater, Britta.’ What is that all about?”
“Maybe I want to be a GOOD friend.”
“A good friend? A good friend doesn’t ignore another good friend, acting like nothing ever happened between that friend and the second friend. And treating all the other friends like everyone’s just friends and…” Alright, he lost himself in the hypothetical friend analogy.
She put her hands up her hips. This accented her waist, he took a shallow breath.
“You’re just jealous.”
“You’re just immature.”
“Baby.” She gasped.
She slapped him. He kissed her, wrapping his arms tightly around her waist. She responded with vigor, her hands immediately around his neck, her lips pressing hard and eagerly against his. He had missed her taste. He pushed her backwards against the wall, his hand going up the small of her back (his favorite part) when he heard a pop. He looked down at the red blood on his chest. He looked at her with blatant indignation.
“All is fair in love and war,” she said with satisfaction.
He put his hand in the blood substance and wiped it all over her face. Her mouth opened in that shocked, classically Disney surprise face as he dragged the red stained finger down to the base of her neck. She put her palm in his and rubbed the rest that remained on his chest all over his face. Then they kissed, both passionately and absurdly again.
“You be fraternizin’ with the enemy, massa!”
They sprung apart, and there Troy was in all his hobo/slave outfit glory.
“Mmmm, the missus is not going to be liking this.”
“Troy, drop it, this is serious. You can’t tell—”
“Alright, alright” he said with a huge sigh. “I was killed 2 hours ago anyway,” he turned around showing a big blood stain on his back.
“Were you running away?”
“NO. Chang figured out I wasn’t in any of his classes and put me on the front line.” He rolled his eyes. “Racist,” he added, walking out of sight.
Jeff turned back to Annie.
“Team Annie!” Troy said, popping out from behind a paper machete column.
“Get out of here!” Jeff shouted.
“Gosh, so huffy,” he said, disappearing back behind the column.
Annie stared at him.
“Were you going to say, ‘You can’t tell anyone?’”
She grabbed his confederate flag-stamped hat and threw it on the ground, stomping on it several times with her size 7 shoes. She looked at him like this was very meaningful and walked off.
Abed ended up signing a peaceful declaration with Shawn, and the North and the South came together to form one nation under God. Boring.
Jeff was changing back into his normal clothes, the sun dipping behind the horizon.
“That stuff with Abed was so weird,” Britta said laughing nervously behind him, giving him the distinct impression that she’d perhaps been waiting there some time trying to think what to say. “Did you see all that? Totally was just in character. I was just trying to get an A.”
“Sure,” he said, throwing her a bone.
She looked down at her shoes. “I hate this place,” she said, crossing the football field that was now being dismantled.
“There’s supposed to be fireworks in a little bit,” he called after her. She gave the sky the finger. He shrugged and made his way into the bleachers.
He threw himself over two rows and waited. Chang came up next to him.
“Nice work out there, bro. You get a 98 because of the secret rendezvous scene with the other side.” Well, now it certainly wouldn’t be secret for long. As he departed, Chang winked at him. It was disturbing.
When he looked back, Abed was sitting next to him opening a package of poptarts. Jeff followed Abed’s gaze to Britta’s retreating figure. He and Jeff exchanged a knowing glance, and Jeff understood why Abed would never tell anyone about Annie.
He heard a nervous scuffle to his left.
“Hi,” Annie said, looking apologetic. “Is .. anyone sitting here?”
“No,” Jeff responded, surprised. She smiled.
“Shawn’s getting sparklers,” she said excitedly, though he certainly didn’t ask or care.
“Look, I’m sorry about earlier.”
“No, no. We both got carried away,” Jeff said, trying not to think how it had almost gotten carried away in a good way.
“Good.” She seemed relieved. “I really hope they have the multi-colored fireworks, I love those.”
Jeff didn’t care what kind of fireworks there would be and, knowing Greendale, they’d probably just be two duds. He was just happy she was sitting next to him. He was happy to have his friend back. That would be enough. For now.
Abed and Troy in the backseat, Garrett in the front passenger, and Jeff driving his black Lexus. Justin Bieber blasting full volume.
Troy and Abed are pumping their fists at the same time. “And girl you're my one love, my one heart, my one life fo’ sho!” they sing together.
Jeff has a hand on his chest, Garrett bounces up and down. “Let me tell you one time,” with Garrett doing the ‘that I love you’s.’ “I’ma tell you one time!” Jeff sings, hardly on key.
They all join in together. “And I'ma be your one guy, you'll be my #1 girl. Always making time for you. I'ma tell you one time!!!!”