Jeff had just leaned back against the couch, exhaling a deep breath, when his phone vibrated. He took another deep breath before reaching over to pick it up, wondering who was texting him now. The entire study group plus Andre had gone out to dinner as a pre-New Year’s Eve celebration. He had begged off, giving the appropriate excuses and promising that he would be at Pierce’s for the New Year’s Eve party by 10PM, 11PM at the latest. Troy and Abed, the latter eyeing him placidly, assured him they would live tweet the group’s dinner and keep him updated via text. He unlocked his phone without looking, before straightening to read it.
From Annie Edison: I love you more than champagne and correct grammar.
The unexpected text message startled a laugh out of Jeff. He somehow doubted that Annie was totally sober. Annie’s 21st birthday, just a few weeks prior, had been a classy affair at a hotel bar with all of them dressed up and drinking wine and cocktails. The birthday girl had had a great time and developed a taste for wine, all in all a successful night. Clearly, the study group had decided to pre-drink during dinner. Jeff paused for a moment, considering the obvious romantic subtext in the message, but smiled again. Annie wasn’t all that shy about admitting she cared about people, though her admission that she loved him more than correct grammar probably was significant. It was more than likely, so much so that he’d put money on it, that Annie had told the entire group that she loved each and every one of them and didn’t want him to feel left out. He couldn’t help but think smugly to himself that she probably didn’t love anyone else more than correct grammar.
He took his time composing a response text, still smiling to himself. Jeff really should have figured Annie for a drunk texter, correct spelling and proper punctuation included. He finished typing out his message and lingered on the send button, wondering if he should bother. He would be seeing Annie in about an hour but this was both amusing and heartwarming, in a way that only things related to Greendale could be. Besides, as much as he loved his study group, he was almost completely certain that none of them was sober and if Annie had wandered away to text in peace, well, he wanted to be sure she was safe.
From Jeff Winger : It’s the Winger guarantee, babe : ) You okay?
Shaking his head bemusedly, Jeff forced himself off the couch. His previous melancholy had faded, shelved in the face of Annie’s surprise text. He had been contemplating the passing of another year and he had known he needed some time alone before he met up with the study group. A drunk and morose Jeff wasn’t meant for company. In the face of his renewed vigour, he was suddenly glad that he had woken up late that morning with the perfect bedhead. It saved him a couple of minutes (okay, maybe a couple of hours) of prep time. He angled himself in the mirror as soon as he entered the bathroom, assessing whether he needed to shave or not but his 5 o’clock shadow was just dark enough to look attractive-dangerous, not yet venturing into the handsome hobo territory of 2009. He was about to start brushing his teeth when his phone buzzed again.
From Annie Edison : I’m good, Jeff : ) We had better see you in an hour, mister!
Jeff started brushing his teeth and then proceeded to floss. Oral hygiene was important, especially on New Year’s Eve. Jeff never quite knew how his mouth would end up occupied at the stroke of midnight but New Year’s Eve, of all nights, usually meant his tonsils would be welcoming a visitor or two, so… And, yeah, maybe he already had an idea (more of an unspoken hope, really) of who his minty fresh breath would be benefiting but it was the polite thing to do on New Year’s Eve regardless. He entered his room and got dressed, donning a shirt and jacket, contemplating a tie before deciding that was a shade too formal. Jeff stood in front of the full length mirror, checking himself over, before his phone caught his eye again. It had been about fifteen minutes since Annie’s last text and he knew that she probably didn’t expect a response but he felt she deserved one.
From Jeff Winger : You will, and Annie… Love you too.
TFLN, (262): You get drunk and try to bury your girlfriend in the sand JUST ONCE and all hell breaks loose
A/N: The second in my TFLN series. Not gonna lie, I have one that's already mostly written and, assuming it all takes place in the same universe (which is not necessarily the case), it should really be published first, but... These are taking me forever and they're going to be out of order. Sorry.
Annie’s phone vibrated for the eighth time. She glanced at it, sniffed dismissively, and turned back to her book, purposefully ignoring it. Again. Jeff’s head fell back against the recliner and he groaned silently. Everytime he opened his mouth to talk, he thought better of it and settled back into uncomfortable silence. Shirley had already taken Annie’s side and had warned Jeff, firmly and with grave seriousness, that he had better fix things or she would be very unhappy with him. With that threat hanging over his head, Jeff had been sitting there, in his living room, alternately watching the clock and texting Annie. No such luck so far.
He glanced down at his phone in his hands. Though he was loathe to admit it, it was time for an outside consultation. He sat up, leaned forward, and began typing. He pressed send and then flopped back, resigned to waiting out the silent treatment he was currently receiving.
From Jeff Winger: You get drunk and try to bury your girlfriend in the sand JUST ONCE and all hell breaks loose.
Britta read the message and then snorted. Jeff was an idiot. Yes, Annie was upset that he had gotten drunk and tried to bury her but he was a complete jag if he didn’t realize that was far from the only reason she was angry. Annie would be far too irritated to explain it to Jeff right now and Jeff was probably still too hammered to remember all the details. Yet again, Britta to the rescue! She rolled her eyes, wondering how Jeff would cope if he was ever left to his own devices and then shuddered, recalling how easily he had slid back into his bromance with Alan. Best not to contemplate it, she decided, and considered charging for the spot-on relationship repair work she did on a regular basis for Jeff.
From Britta Perry: She’s not mad because of that, you stupid wad of gel and egotism! She’s mad because you buried her in the sand, and when those busty bimbos hit on you, WHILE SHE WAS BURIED IN THE SAND IN FRONT OF YOU, you flexed and preened. Like a peacock. A really drunk and vain peacock.
Jeff’s mouth dropped open and he breathed out a mostly silent ‘fuck’. He realized he’d been pretty drunk earlier and his memory was still hazy enough that he didn’t recall what Britta was talking about in detail but it was plausible enough to be the truth. It didn’t seem likely that Britta would lie, either, given that everyone had known exactly how angry Annie was by the time they had left the beach. The idea that he had reveled in women admiring his physique was not particularly novel to Annie but to do it while she was buried in the sand and probably looked like his teenage sister... That explained the cold shoulder a lot more.
Jeff and Annie hadn’t actually gotten that many strange looks when they had started dating, despite Jeff’s worries over their age difference. Annie had long outgrown any desire to be seen as the baby of the group a while back and it tended to grate on her when she wasn’t taken seriously. It had led to her carrying herself with a lot more confidence and maturity such that people rarely, if ever, questioned their relationship. Jeff doubted that she cared that anyone had cast an admiring glance his way. No, it was far more believable that she hated being dismissed as potential competition by the random beach bunnies passing by and hated that Jeff had been complicit in the dismissal with his drunken desire to have his own ego stroked. He sighed and squared his shoulders.
“Annie? Babe? Babe?” Jeff rose and walked over to the couch, sitting down gingerly on the edge of the cushion closest to Annie’s outstretched legs. “I’m sorry. I was a jerk.” He watched her carefully for any sign of a reaction, any direction for how to proceed. “Sometimes my vanity gets the best of me and I forget that I don’t need anyone else to appreciate how I look when I have the most beautiful woman willing to be with me.” Annie put the magazine down, crossed her arms, and looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
“And put up with my bullshit.” He tried a smile. “Annie, c’mon, I know I was an idiot. Shirley told me. Britta told me. Even Troy told me! I am fully willing to acknowledge my own idiocy and I’m fully willing to get down on my knees and beg for forgiveness.” He eyed her cautiously. “Am I on the right track?” The hopeful note in the question dragged a sigh out of Annie.
“Jeff, you get why I’m irritated, right? I don’t care if people look at you, I know how much work you put into your body and I know the gigantic size of your ego – I don’t think I could offer you all of the validation you want! But I don’t appreciate you ignoring me, especially when I’m… When I’m buried in the sand! And then you pose and flirt with your admirers in front of me… It felt really insulting. And it made me feel like I wasn’t your girlfriend, like you could forget about me at the slightest bit of attention from a scantily clad woman.” Anger deflated, Annie sat on the couch, knees now pulled up to her chest with her arms wrapped around them, chin resting on top. Jeff sidled closer, until he was pressed against her legs.
“Annie, I am a complete and utter idiot sometimes. I’m pretty sure Britta once said I had an ego the size of Texas, or some other really big state, and was lowballing it. I never forget about you, ever. But sometimes, my ego and my desire to know that I’m still attractive… It gets in the way. I know you love me but,” Jeff paused, knowing he wouldn’t be saying any of this if he was actually sober, “other people have said they loved me and still left. And sometimes I need to know that I still have my fallbacks. But that doesn’t mean that what I did was right.” Jeff’s arms were looped around Annie’s legs, under her knees, and he was momentarily scared when she broke his grip. His heart resumed its normal rhythm when she interlocked their fingers, and pulled herself up, so she was kneeling on the couch cushion beside him.
“No, it doesn’t make it okay, but… I get it. Sometimes we do stupid things when we’re drunk and can’t control our insecurities. I get that. Remember the Stripper Pole Incident of 2012?” Annie’s head nodded sagely and Jeff buried his face in her stomach, body shaking with laughter.
“If I managed to install a stripper pole in here, think you could recreate that without the booze and tears?” He looked up and smiled at her, wishing he could adequately express how much he appreciated her willingness to hear him out.
“Jeff, you flirted with other women, in bikinis, in front of me, while I was buried in the sand.” The expression on her face was disbelieving and Jeff experienced a resurgence of his earlier fear. Annie pushed him away from her, on to his back, and settled her a knee on either side of him, running her hands up his chest as she leaned down, voice dropping to a whisper, “There might not be stripper pole involved but ask me again in a week and if you’re really nice about it, I might be willing to show you what we’re learning in my Coyote Ugly class.” Jeff was suddenly glad that Annie hadn’t bothered to change out of her bikini and cover-up in her anger. It made things considerably more convenient, he decided, as their mouths met.
TFLN, (440): I woke up to find his roommate face down on the couch with no pants on, with a sticky note that said "was lost but now am found"
The third in my TFLN series. These are taking me forever and they're going to be out of order, assuming any exist in the same universe, which they may or may not. Sorry. And this isn't my best work... *sigh* I have about ten stories in the works, I swear, but man, life got busy! I haven't had the time or energy to write in weeks so I very much apologize if anyone cares...
Annie wandered out of Jeff’s room still in her pajamas, or rather, would have. There was a hitch in her step as she realized she wasn’t actually wearing her pjs. What that meant, Annie realized, was that she was walking around in nothing but her panties and one of Jeff’s old t-shirts that was left falling half off her shoulder and hung to mid-thigh. Britta’s words about being ‘loosey goosey’ echoed in her head and as she absently rubbed at a red mark on her thigh, the question of her pjs left her head beyond the muted feeling that walking around au naturel must be so uncomfortable. Annie shook her head and continued her shuffle toward the kitchen, still half-asleep.
She was brought to an abrupt stop, however, upon reaching Jeff’s living room. Someone was lying face down on his couch. Just laying there. Letting out a quiet squeak, Annie paused in surprise, hoping the potential serial killer hadn’t been woken by any noise she had made. She stayed frozen even as her gaze swept from one end of the apartment to the other and back again. It took fifteen seconds of shallow breathing but Annie regained a semblance of calm and decided, quite suddenly, that she could handle the situation by herself. Creeping closer, she carefully, cautiously, approached the couch. Annie was brought to a standstill, once more, when she recognized the unconscious man.
Ben Chang, Jeff’s unofficial and heartily unwelcome former roommate, lay there, without pants, a note stuck to his red-speedo clad bottom. She shuddered, just once, before leaning in to examine the note. It was purely instinctive to slap a hand over her mouth as she struggled not to laugh. It was beyond anything she might have imagined to find a sleeping Chang in her (Annie didn’t know what to label the thing between her and Jeff so, you know, she just didn’t) friend’s apartment. She shook her head and smiled, goodwill (and good taste) causing her to extend a hand and start pulling the blanket draped over the back of the couch to cover Chang. Before it drifted down, Annie stopped and considered the sight before her. Yes, it was early in the morning. Yes, the sight wasn’t what most people would call pretty but why should she suffer alone?
Adjusting her grip on the blanket, Annie maneuvered her phone so she could take a quick picture. She idly thumbed through her contacts unsure who exactly she should send it to. Abed was the only one really aware of her thing with Jeff, or rather; was the only one aware of how far they had gone. Annie nodded, her decision made. Typing a quick message, she attached the photo and sent it to Abed.
From Annie Edison : I woke up to find his roommate face down on the couch with no pants on, with a sticky note that said "was lost but now am found."
Annie shook out the blanket and let it drift down around Chang and remembering her original reason in leaving Jeff’s cozy bed, moved toward the kitchen with a renewed sense of purpose. Upon reaching the kitchen, she swiped a glass out of the cabinet, rising to her tip-toes to reach the shelf that was probably perfectly level for Jeff. It was the unexpected feel of hands grasping her midsection and pulling her against a firm body that caused her to drop the long-coveted glass. And to shriek. How Jeff managed to catch the glass was a mystery but as she raised one hand to her racing heart, Annie swatted blindly at his side.
She felt Jeff shaking slightly against her back as he laughed and she huffed, attempting to calm herself despite the overflow of adrenaline. A moment later, she felt his frame go rigid and a malicious smirk crossed her face as she heard Chang’s whine ring out.
“Huh? Whazzat? Wha…” He trailed off as the drowsiness and whatever else was in his system took effect once more. Annie twisted slightly, neck craned to look up at Jeff, smirk still in place.
“Annie. What was that?”
“That, Jeff, was your darling ex-roommate. Wanna see the picture I texted Abed?” Jeff hung his head back before taking a deep breath and nodding. Annie showed him the text and, fortuitously, Abed texted her back moments later.
From Abed Nadir: Spoiler alert: Chang learns that Jeff and Annie’s budding romance has crossed the sexual meridian line and attempts to blackmail the two lovebirds into helping him join their group in ‘Chang’s Rising II’
TFLN, (310): Quick question, when did I develop feelings, and how can I make them go away? (626): That's two questions.
Potential trigger warning because there is some pretty gross behaviour and misogynistic language in this.
The fourth in my TFLN series. These are taking me forever and they're going to be out of order, assuming any exist in the same universe, which they may or may not. Sorry.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
If anyone were to ask Jeff (nobody would, thankfully), he would tell them that he knew he was a goner the night he gave up no-strings pity sex with Slater. In a quiet, deep, tiny place somewhere inside his subconscious mind, Jeff could admit to himself that the very first study group meeting was the beginning of the end. There were chances to save himself, of course, after that but really, there’s no denying it; that first fake study session is when it began.
As he sits, arms around a sobbing Annie, his impulse control is taking a dive because all Jeff can think about is taking off his Gucci sweater (because there are some sacrifices even he won’t make) and beating the crap out of the smug jerk who made Annie cry. Still, Jeff perseveres because yeah, hitting that guy until his own knuckles are raw and the other guy’s face is bloody might be the answer to his rage in the moment but there are some things (Annie) that are more important. Right now, Annie needs him more because if he leaves her to make that idiot bro-dude hurt as much as Annie is, that leaves her all by herself. And yeah, okay, Britta, Annie is strong and can take care of herself but sometimes, maybe, you know, on occasion, a hug helps. And if Jeff is there and he’s not wearing Armani, he’s cool with providing the hugs.
But let’s rewind.
Jeff can see Annie standing at her locker, halfway down the hall and since Duncan hasn’t replied in Words With Friends, he’s got nothing better to do but bother his study buddy. He’s heading her way and he can’t help but witness the inevitable car crash, this dude - that looks like a walking Ken Doll and, yeah, that’s as creepy as it sounds – is approaching Annie and Jeff picks up his pace while actively trying to look like he’s not picking up his pace. It’s harder than it sounds, okay? He’s about three feet away and he knows Annie has seen him and, more importantly, he can tell Annie isn’t interested. Still, Jeff is sort of content to let the guy get shot down on his own because it’s not like Annie is his (desperately wanting her to beisn’t the same thing after all) even if it occasionally feels that way.
“Would you be interested in grabbing lunch sometime? I’ve been watching you in class for a while and you’re so smart. I had to ask you out before the semester ended. It’s not often you see a girl who’s so pretty and so intelligent, you know?” Jeff can see the blush on Annie’s cheeks and the pleased laugh that escapes her makes his gut clench painfully for just a second.
“Oh, well, thank you, I… That’s really sweet. But,” She meets Jeff’s eyes over Loser McLoserson’s shoulder briefly, “I’m pretty busy. A bunch of us are making the semester up and… I just don’t really have the time. But I really appreciate the offer, its-“ Loser McLoserson cuts her off then.
“God, you girls are all the same, aren’t you? Just jerking nice guys around. What? You thought I didn’t see you making eyes at that other guy outside of class last week?” He gestures, without looking, back toward their shared class. “Seriously, I thought I’d give you the benefit of the doubt, but you’re just as much a whore as the rest of them!” Jeff is about to haul off and kill the guy but Annie’s face is hard and calm and, honestly, a little scary.
“Excuse me? I don’t know you and I don’t owe you anything. I’m going to ask you, politely, to leave me alone now. I don’t want to talk to you ever again.”
“Why do you uppity bitches think you get to make the rules? You think ‘cause you’re halfway decent-looking now, you get to tell me what to do? I know all about how you’re damaged goods! Used to be a fat chick, addict… Yeah, you’re a real catch. I was doing you a favour, sweetheart. And you’re too good for me? What a fucking joke. Forget it, okay? I was trying to do my good deed for the day… It didn’t work out, that’s cool. But you should’ve taken me up on the offer while you had the chance. Nobody else is going to want to go there, just so you know.” His voice is getting louder and more aggressive but Annie is standing there, looking unimpressed and still scary, and Jeff is blown away by how strong she is right then.
“The only favour I ever want you to do for me is to leave me alone. I’m not interested in anything else you have to,” Here she lets out a disdainful sniff, “Offer.” She crosses her arms against her chest, puts her formidable face on, and stares the guy down. It’s pretty clear at this point that people are watching and nobody is cheering for Loser McLoserson. He huffs and glances around before storming off and Annie spins around on her heel to face her locker. Jeff slowly approaches and leans against the lockers beside and waits for a moment, trying to think of how to start.
“Wanna go to lunch?” He’s not entirely sure if he’s asking if she still feels like eating or if she wants to go somewhere private or what. He decides that the choice is hers and he’ll just follow along with whatever she does. She looks up at him and she seems pretty steady when she nods but as soon as she’s done closing her locker, he offers her his arm anyway.
“Milady?” She merely smiles as she takes it. Minutes later, they’ve grabbed coffee instead of food and rather than finding a table, they’re heading to a more secluded area of the library. Jeff is both astonished and not at all surprised, strangely enough, to find his arms full of a sobbing Annie shortly thereafter. He mostly just pats her back and hugs her as tight as he can but he finds himself wishing that he could do more, wishing he had intervened instead of just standing there and watching.
It feels like hours but really, it’s over within moments.
“Thank you.” Annie is fishing through her bag, looking for tissues, and alternately wiping tears off her cheeks. She looks up at him and smiles shyly. “I mean, thank you for letting me cry but… Thank you for letting me handle it. That guy was being stupid, I know, but I’m glad I stuck up for myself.” Jeff processes that for a moment, still trying to calm his murderous rage.
“You’re welcome. But you don’t have to thank me for… Not helping you. I wanted to. But, I thought you could handle it yourself. And you did. That guy was a jerk. You deserve to be treated better.” It’s only in his head that he tells her ‘you deserve better’ and thinks for the first time, honestly, that he’s referring to himself.
“I know. But I wasn’t sure you realized how important that was to me. Anyway, thank you for being a good friend, Jeff.” She smiles a real, full smile and he’s dazzled for a second. “I’m sorry I kidnapped you during lunch. At least it’s not chicken fingers today?” He smiles back at her and shakes his head.
“You’re going to owe me food next time, Annie.” She laughs, as intended, and agrees solemnly. He glances at his watch and curses. “Shit, we’ve both got class in fifteen minutes. And you have to go to the building over.” She grimaces. “Want me to walk you there?”
“No, it’s okay.” She leans in and hugs him again. “Thank you, Jeff.” She places a quick kiss on his cheek and then she’s gone. He sits there, contemplatively, finally feeling the anger recede, before pulling out his phone. He fires off a quick text as he stands up.
From Jeff Winger: Quick question, when did I develop feelings and how can I make them go away?
He receives a response four minutes later just as he arrives, fashionably late, at the door of his next class and he can’t help the chuckle that escapes.
From Abed Nadir: That’s two questions.
I really, really don't know how I ended up this fic out of the prompts. I was stalled on it for a while and then I started writing and most of this came out... And then I stalled again. I don't know. It's not very upbeat but... Let me know what you think.