Author: Greta Garbo
Word Count: 2335
Disclaimer: I always say something like, "If I owned them, Jeff and Annie would be kissing all the time." But now.. they kind of are. So maybe I do own them?
Notes: Yay! Yet another fic by me for the What Happens Next challenge. I'm pretty much writing fic for every scenario that pops into my head.
It’s the Britta sounding “Oh!” that makes Jeff and Annie spring apart from their kiss.
It’s the annoyed-and-arrogant-so-clearly-Slater sounding, “You have got to be kidding me,” that comes a second later that makes them spin back toward the doors. Britta is standing there, looking shocked, confused, and maybe a little hurt. Slater is right behind her, looking irritated beyond belief.
“Yeah, this just got too weird,” Slater declares, throwing her hands up in the air. “I’m out.” And with that, she’s gone.
Jeff can’t say he feels too sorry to see her go.
Except now it’s just him, Annie, and Britta standing here, in this strange awkward triangle.
So you’ve traded one uncomfortable triangle for another uncomfortable triangle. Good work, Winger.
He looks between the two women. The hurt part of Britta’s expression is starting to turn a little angry, and Jeff instinctively moves a little bit in front of Annie (to do what exactly? Protect her from the beams of anger radiating from Britta’s face?) before he realizes the anger is directed pretty much entirely at him.
Annie is a different story all together. Everything in her face is directed at Britta, and it’s a face full of so much guilt and shame that he might be offended if the situation didn’t already suck so much.
And now he just hates himself. The Slater/Britta thing was awful because it was so very awkward and bizarre, but he was willing to just let it ride out to its natural conclusion. (In all fairness, he had no idea the natural conclusion would be two very public declarations of love). But this is Annie. The last thing in the world he wanted to do was drag her into a mess like this.
A lot of time has passed without anyone saying anything, and Jeff figures that it’s probably his job to say… something. But before he can even think of anything, Annie finds her voice for long enough to say, “I…. I have to go.” before taking off running, leaving her bags where she’d dropped them before he kissed her.
A part of him wants to scream at her for leaving him her to deal with Britta because, really? That kiss took two people and they both deserved equal whatever. But most of him is just glad she isn’t going to be here for this. Because this might get ugly.
“What the hell, Jeff?” Britta eventually says, sounding more indignant than anything else.
All Jeff can get out is, “Ummm…”
“Seriously, what the hell? I tell you I love you and the first thing you do is run out here and kiss Annie? What is wrong with you?”
Something inside of Jeff snaps. Maybe it was being stuck in the middle of this weird girl thing that was totally not about him, maybe it was being put on the spot in front of the whole school, or maybe it was just that the one moment of his night that made sense had been way, way too brief. But now he’s mad.
“What’s wrong with me?” he practically screams at Britta, whose face morphs from angry to confused. “What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you, Britta? You tell me you love me in front of a billion people, and what do you expect me to do? That’s why when someone gets proposed to on the Jumbo Screen at the Yankees game they always say yes. Because they don’t want to be the asshole that said no and humiliated the person who asked them.”
Britta gapes at him for an almost uncomfortably long amount of time before adopting a completely unreadable expression. “So you’re saying you don’t love me, then.”
A part of Jeff is telling him he should calm down and have this conversation with Britta in a rational way, but he’s still mad because, damn it, five minutes ago he was kissing Annie and now he’s not. “No, Britta, I don’t love you. And you don’t love me. You know you don’t love me. I saw it on your face the second after the words left your mouth that you didn’t mean it. You just didn’t want to lose.”
“I didn’t want to lose you,” she counters.
“That might have been part of it, but you didn’t even care until Slater started showing an interest again.”
Britta can’t meet his eyes. She looks around uncomfortably. “You and Slater were doing battle and I was little more than the prize. Do you know how many times I’ve tried flirting with you since the paintball game? There were so many moments that I tried, and you just shut me out. And I just had this perfect moment with Annie, and it was so easy and uncomplicated and you and I have never once had a moment like that.”
Britta looks down at her shoes and crosses her arms. After a painfully long stretch of silence she quietly says, “I care about you.”
Jeff deflates as most of the anger and righteous indignation drain out of him and now he feels kind of bad. “I care about you, too,” he says. “But I don’t think it’s supposed to be this hard.” Britta doesn’t looks up at him, so he continues. “And now that Slater’s out of the picture can you honestly say you care that much about being with me?”
She doesn’t say anything, but the look on her face says it all.
“You’re still one of my best friends,” he says. “Being friends with you… that’s easy.”
Britta nods. “I’m sorry,” she finally says.
“I’m sorry, too,” he responds. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”
“No, you should have. I totally deserved it.”
He hugs her, and it feels right. It feels easy. It’s a perfect moment. As friends.
An hour later he’s standing outside Annie’s house with a handful of small rocks trying to decide which window is hers. The last thing Jeff wants right now is the throw a rock at a window only to have Annie’s father appear there. With a gun.
He eventually settles on the corner window and winds up, ready to throw the pebble at the window when, two windows down, he sees a light turn on and Annie passing by. She sits down at the desk positioned in front of the window, and Jeff thanks the God he’s not sure is up there that he didn’t throw rocks at the wrong window.
He watches her, sitting there, flipping through her day planner, no doubt trying to figure out how to fill in the summer days that are empty now that she’s decided not to go away with Vaughn. She looks miserable, and Jeff knows that’s his fault.
Jeff throws the first rock and it makes contact with the bottom of Annie’s window. He allows himself a moment of “Yeah, I’m awesome.” Annie jumps about a mile out of her seat and looks around frantically. He throws another one, hitting the window right in the middle.
When Annie finally looks out the window to see Jeff standing in her yard, her face goes from nervous and confused right back to sad and upset. She just stares at him while he gazes up at her imploringly. Eventually she disappears from the window and Jeff spends and agonizing twenty seconds praying that she’s coming outside and that she hasn’t just decided to go watch television and ignore him.
Relief floods through him when he sees the door open. Annie walks through it slowly, looking at him with suspicion.
“Did you really just throw rocks at my window?” she asks, and Jeff is grateful that she opened with that instead of “Why did you kiss me when two women had just declared their love for you?”
He shrugs. “Abed would probably approve.”
“Abed would probably tell you that if you had really put any effort into it you would have shown up with a boom box an a Peter Gabriel song.”
“Well, it’s midnight. I don’t think your neighbors would appreciate that. Plus, I was more concerned with getting over here as fast as I possibly could to actually plan the grand romantic gesture.”
“So the grand romantic gesture is just you showing up.”
For a second Jeff wishes that he had planned some big, over the top romantic gesture. If anyone deserves it, it’s Annie.
She shivers, and for the first time Jeff notices that she’s in her pajamas, which is just a pair of sweats and a tank top. And even though it’s May and the days are warm, it’s still cold at night and Annie’s rubbing her hands over her arms trying to stay warm.
Without saying anything Jeff takes off his suit coat and drapes it over her shoulders. He does it without even thinking. And now he’s standing almost impossibly close to Annie, his hands lingering on her arms. She’s gazing up at him with her big eyes and her soft lips and it’s like there’s a string attached to their lips that’s pulling them together and then he’s kissing her again and it’s just as perfect as is was the last time.
“Perfect moment,” he mutters as they separate.
“Huh?” Annie asks looking up at him half-dazed from the kiss and half-confused by what he said.
“What? Oh, nothing. It was… just a thing.” He wants to kiss her again, but Annie’s look is becoming less dazed and a little bit frustrated and angry.
“You have to stop doing that,” she says, pushing him away. Not roughly, but with enough force that he moves back a few steps.
“Kissing me to avoid having to deal with the other two women in your life!” She sounds so upset right now that all he really wants to do is just gather her up and hold her and not let her go until she believes that everything is going to be okay. But he knows he can’t do that. Not yet, at least. There are things that need to be said first.
“I’ve dealt with all that.”
She looks at him skeptically. “You have? In less than an hour you’ve settled the entire issue of having two women in love with you.”
“Well, first of all, I don’t think either of them are actually in love with me,” he says. She’s still at least looking at him, so he takes that as a good sign. “Slater took off. I guess it stopped being fun for her when there were two women to compete with.”
“What about Britta?”
“We decided we’re better as friends.”
She’s looking at him like she wants to believe him but doesn’t. “We talked about it. And the thing is… Britta and I have these moments where we’re totally on the same page and completely in sync. As friends. Like when we were fighting with those high schoolers. But when it comes to connecting… romantically… we just can’t get to the same place.”
“How do you know that?”
“We know because we tried.” He takes a deep breath. He has to tell her to one thing he really didn’t want to tell her, but he knows it’s the only way he can convince her that he really means what he’s saying. “Britta and I slept together during the paintball game.”
It’s the worst thing he’s ever had to say to her. Worse than the verbal assault he gave her after she ratted out Chang. Worse than when they argued about Troy joining the football team. She looks like somebody hit her in the stomach. She looks like somebody just broke her heart.
“Why did you tell me that?” she chokes out, trying to fight back tears.
“Because I didn’t want to start this out by lying to you. And because you need to know that understand why Britta and I don’t work. After that I really did try with her. I tried to flirt, I tried to make passes, but I got shut down at every turn, whether she realized she was doing it or not.”
He studies her face, and she doesn’t look quite as upset as she did, so he continues. “But with you… I don’t even have to try. Kissing you… that was a perfect moment. When we talked we just… we get each other, Annie. You understood exactly what I was talking about, and kissing you after that… it just felt like the most natural thing in the world.
The hurt is entirely gone from Annie’s face, and Jeff’s pretty sure he’s succeeded. “And when I kissed you… I’ve never felt that way before. Not even when I slept with Britta.” He takes a deep breath and decides to take the final plunge. “I want you, Annie.”
And then he holds his breath. He has never poured his heart out like that before. He’s never been completely honest about how he feels. But Annie… she’s worth it. But the waiting, watching Annie as she watches him, is agony. If she rejects him, he’s pretty sure his life will be over.
But then she’s walking toward him and then she’s kissing him, standing on the tips of her bare feet. Jeff wraps his arms around her and lifts her off the ground so that her feet are dangling. He thanks all the possible deities that there’s nobody there to interrupt them, because this time he’s going to make sure Annie Edison is good and thoroughly kissed.
When the lack of oxygen becomes an issue they pull away from each other, but just barely. He’s still holding her against him, slightly off the ground. Her arms are around his neck, her hands in his hair. She’s smiling softly, but the look in her eyes makes it the biggest smile she’s ever had.
“Perfect moment?” she murmurs, and their faces are still close enough that when she talks her lips brush against his.
“Better than perfect,” he says, and he kisses her again.