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dearly beloved we are gathered here today to witness the mutual pining of two lovestruck idiots pretending to be married

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“Explain it to me again - why do we need to pretend to be married?” Annie asked, raising an eyebrow. When Annie had walked into the study room to finalize the Family Day plans, getting ambushed by Jeff “proposing” to her was the last thing she thought would happen. Not that she wouldn’t mind being married to Jeff, but she knew this was leading somewhere bad.

“Because I told my mom that I’d met someone and that we’d gotten married,” Jeff quickly re-explained.

“You gonna help me or not?” Jeff was nearing desperation at this point. His mom would be there in 6 hours, and he really needed Annie to agree.

“Why me? Does it have to be me? Family Day already sucks for me, Jeff. And besides, I have so much planning to do, and I have to do damage control to make sure the Dean doesn’t destroy anything. Can’t you ask Britta? Or Shirley?”

“Britta, who literally said yesterday that ‘marriage is a sham made up by men to control women and treat them as objects’ or Shirley who always goes on about the sanctity of marriage and about how lying is a sin? And would it really be that bad if the Dean destroyed the school? I’d get paid leave, classes would be cancelled, and we wouldn’t have to see Chang or the Dean for a while. Come on, Annie. My mom will love you and treat you like the daughter she always wanted. Please?”

Annie hesitated, but eventually asked, “How did you even get away with this lie? Wouldn’t your mom have come to your wedding? And how has she not visited you since then? And didn’t she ask for pictures?” Annie asked, pointing at him, accusingly.

“Well, I, uh, kinda had Abed photoshop some pictures? And maybe edit some videos?”

Annie’s eyes grew wide with realization.

“Wait, is that why he wrote a wedding movie and asked me to be in it? Oh my god, Jeff!” Annie said, slapping his shoulder. “That’s so sneaky! I knew that script was weird, but I thought it was just Abed being Abed. But you never answered why you did it, and why she wouldn’t have been at the wedding.”

Jeff hesitated, showing sincerity that Annie rarely saw from him.

“Awhile ago, my mom, uh, she got sick. Cancer. She was terrified of leaving me alone and was focusing on that instead of getting better and her recovery, so I told her I’d found someone, and we’d had a small ceremony at a courthouse. I said that we kept it secret because we hadn’t dated for that long and that we knew people would judge our relationship,” Jeff stammered out. After taking a breath he continued.

“I know it was shitty, but I honestly thought she was gonna die, and I wanted her to think I’d be okay without her. Please, Annie. She’s in remission now, but it could come back. I’ll give you whatever you want if you do this.”

“Oh, Jeff, I’m so sorry. I’ll help you this time, but you’ll have to come clean at some point, okay? It’s not fair to your mom. How long would this last?”

“ Five days. I know I need to tell her, but I can’t disappoint her yet. She’s so excited for Family Day and meeting my wife. Thank you, Annie. I owe you one.”

“Okay, if we’re gonna pretend to be married, we need to set our stories straight,” Annie said, pulling out a notebook. “Do we live together? Or do we still live separately? Do I wear a ring? Do I even have a ring? Have we told our friends yet? Where exactly did we get married? When did we get married? I’m assuming the dress I wore in Abed’s video is the one she saw, as well as the flowers. Was anyone else there?”

“Yes, we live together, you have a ring but you wear it on a chain around your neck so you can hide it, we’ve told Abed, which means Troy and Britta know, but that’s it, the court house on Main Street, May 15th, yes it is, Abed was there to record the video. Does that answer everything?”

“Yes, I think-Oh, wait. Did we go on a honeymoon?”

“Yes, we spent a week in the mountains in a cabin.”

“Wow, you’ve actually put thought into this. Usually, you come up with your lies on the fly.”

“It’s my mom. I can’t disappoint her.”

“Aww, it’s so sweet how much you love her. Okay, so if we live together, I need to move some stuff there to make it look like I live there, and I need a ring. Do you have one, or do we need to find one? Also, how affectionate should we be around your mom?”

“I have one actually. My mom gave me my grandmother’s ring. It’s a tradition to pass it down. And as affectionate as you’re comfortable with. We can always say we’re private about our affection due to having to keep it hidden. Also…um, my mom is staying with me. The entire time. So, would you mind staying with me as well? Just to sell the lie!” Jeff, said, almost yelling the last part. Yeah, he was totally into Annie, and as much as he told himself he was only doing this to sell the lie to his mom, he knew there was more to it than that. That made him feel almost as guilty as lying to his mom, but the fear of disappointing his mom and the excitement of spending time with Annie pretending to be married outweighed the guilt.

Annie paused, considering this. Could she really handle spending five days pretending to be Jeff’s wife while she was in love with him? Logically, she knew this was the closest she’d ever get to actually being with him, but that would make it worse when it ended. She should say no, but this was an amazing opportunity and she’d like someone to treat her like family for once, even if it was a woman they were lying to.

“Okay, I’ll do it. But no funny business, mister! Or I’ll stage a fight and make you sleep on the couch!”

Jeff held up his hands in mock surrender.

“Whatever you want, wife,” Jeff said, ignoring how good it felt to call her his wife.

“Good answer, husband,” said Annie, also ignoring the rush of excitement from calling Jeff her husband.

“So when does she get here?”

“Uh, about six hours.”

“Six hours?!? That’s hardly any time to get things ready! Okay, we need to go to my apartment, grab some things to make it look like I live with you. Also, get Abed to bring the DVD and the pictures. I also need to know everything about your mom that a daughter-in-law would know. Oh God, I don’t even know her name! Okay, you can tell me everything in the car on the way to my apartment.”

“Annie, we both drove here separately, and I’m not leaving my car here.”

“Fine, we meet at my apartment and then we drive to your place. Should we have both cars at your apartment? We wouldn’t drive to Greendale together to keep up the ruse.”

As Annie started walking out the door to go to her car, still talking through all the details, Jeff smiled after her. Annie’s attention to detail would definitely make sure this would be a success. He only had to make sure she didn’t find out he was actually in love with her.