“Aaaaaah!” Annie screamed as she took a run up to Jeff.
“Oh my god!” Britta cried as Annie’s fist connected squarely with Jeff’s nose.
“You slept with her and then you kissed me ?” Annie wailed, caressing her sore fist.
“ What?! ” Everybody else in the room cried.
Jeff’s hand automatically went to his face to check his nose was still in one piece, only for it to come away bloody. As he looked down in disbelief at the redness, something snapped inside of him.
“No Annie,” he hissed at the petite brunette. “ You kissed me remember?”
“ What?! ” The rest of the study group screamed again, this time looking at Annie.
“Eeee-” Annie gasped speechlessly, distracted by the pain in her hand.
Jeff turned to face her and pressed home his point. “It was just after I told you Britta had said she loved me and I need to go sort things out, remember?”
“ How long did it take you to kiss Jeff after you found out I told him I loved him? First Vaughn, now Jeff!” It was Britta’s turn to confront Annie. “Maybe I’ll smile at Leonard so we can watch you French him too!”
“Hey, why not-”
“Shut up, Pierce!” Britta hissed.
Annie’s gaze flicked between Britta and Jeff like a deer caught in the headlights. Her mouth opened but nothing came out. Before she could respond -
“ Now they're in so deep
You know she's such a fool for him.
She has a ring around her finger
And Abed hired an Irish singer -
Britta's marrying, Britta's marrying,
Britta's marrying Jeffrey Winger… ”
Abed had arrived with a bizarre procession of extras and props.
“Abed, what the hell-” Jeff turned, his concentration broken.
“It’s a wedding episode Jeff.”
“There is no wedding.” Jeff snapped back.
“Ooh! Plot twist!” Abed actually managed to look excited. “What happened?”
“Annie made out with Jeff.” Troy looked as though he couldn’t decide who to be more shocked by.
“Right after I said I loved him!” Britta added heatedly.
“Hey!” Annie had finally found her voice. “It-it’s not like he didn’t kiss me right back!”
“Jeffrey! What were you thinking of?!” Shirley was starting to feel a little left out of the argument.
“Thinking, Shirley?” Jeff turned round to face her, striding up to the table and leaning over it while visibly struggling to control his temper. “I wasn’t thinking at all! A hot girl who I like had launched herself at my face-”
“ You like me?” Nobody noticed Annie’s shocked squeak.
“-and I responded instinctively!” Jeff continued, visibly approaching the end of his tether. “Here’s the thing those crappy paperbacks with Fabio on the cover that you devour don’t tell you, Shirley - men are monsters! Throw willing flesh at us and we devour it!”
“You’re a pig, Winger-”
Jeff pivoted on the spot to face Britta before she could get any further. “But at least we have the decency to keep it a secret,” he snarled at the blonde. “Instead of blurting ‘I love you’ to everyone who sleeps with us!”
“Oh, please-” Britta started.
“No!” Jeff yelled. “Enough of this game!” With an expression like thunder on his face, he turned towards the door and strode out, forcing Britta’s fan club to scatter to make way for him.
“ You’re walking out on me?! ” Britta yelled in her most dramatic voice before turning to her fans for support as the rest of the study group erupted in chaos.
“...hey, where did Annie go?” Troy said when the yelling died down a little.
Jeff had stormed over to his car fully intending to blow Greendale for the time being, but when he got there he found he had a problem - his nose was still bleeding and he had no desire to get blood over the leather trim of the car that was one of the few remaining traces of his former life. Instead, he was leaning against it dabbing futilely at the dripping blood when he saw an approaching reflection in the glass.
“What do you want?” He said harshly, without turning around.
“Can we talk?” Annie said softly.
Jeff groaned inwardly - of all the people he didn’t want to talk to right now the girl who was the reason he was leaning against his car getting blood on a handkerchief (hand woven Irish linen, monogrammed) instead of sitting inside it and heading to the nearest bar was pretty near the top of the list. He turned sharply around fully expecting to unleash the full force of his pent up rage and sarcasm on her, but the expression on her face - soft, timid and more than a little bit worried - drained it from him. Absurdly, a sudden memory of yelling She’s the Ark of the Covenant! At Abed flashed through his head, forced him to suppress a sudden smirk and enabled him to reply relatively calmly instead.
“About what Annie?” He said, waving a bloody handkerchief in emphasis. Okay, so I’m entitled to a little snark, he thought dryly.
Annie paled at the sight, then broke eye contact as she scrambled to get something out of her backpack. “Ohmigosh Jeff! Let me help, I’ve got a first aid kit -”
Of course you do, Jeff thought to himself. “Annie, relax.” He said out loud. “It’s pretty much stopped now anyway,” he sighed as the scared looking girl looked up.
Annie lowered her backpack and approached a couple of steps closer to get a better view. “I’m really sorry I hit you,” she said after a moment, a note of rueful concern in her voice.
Jeff was never a fan of unnecessary effort, and the effort needed to stay angry at Annie was feeling increasingly unnecessary. The last time she looked at me with eyes like that we ended up kissing - he hastily banished that thought, and instead concentrated on pasting a smirk on his face.
“Heck, it’s not the first time I’ve been punched in the face,” he paused for a moment to ensure he had her full attention. “But I think it is the first time somebody took a running start for maximum effect,” he added dryly.
“I really am sorry,” Annie repeated, but a smile was starting to replace her earlier worried expression as she registered he was no longer angry.
Jeff sighed slightly, the last shreds of his rage disappearing. “Oh heck, I’m sorry too Annie.”
Her eyes widened with surprise. “What for -”
But Jeff didn’t let her finish. “All through today’s madness, when I was trying to beat Britta at her crazy game, you were the only one of my so-called friends to unconditionally stand by me - Shirley and Pierce didn’t want anything to do with either of us, Abed was presumably off setting up his ‘wedding episode’-” he made air-quote gestures “-stunt, and Troy was too worried about staying popular with the hot girls. You stuck by me and I completely ignored you, so yes - I’m sorry Annie.” He smiled apologetically at her.
Annie blushed slightly at his apology and looked down, breaking eye contact. “Soooo, you and Britta…” she said softly. You said you liked me… but she couldn’t bring herself to say that out loud.
“Oh please,” Jeff snorted. “There is no me and Britta. There never was a me and Britta.”
Annie looked stunned. “Then what - what was today all about??” Her voice rose several octaves towards the end.
Jeff’s face went grim. “She was trying to climb out of the hole she dug for herself by pushing me in it. I couldn’t let her do that,” he said. “I thought if I kept raising the stakes until she was forced to admit she didn’t love me then she wouldn’t be able to play the heartbroken innocent any more and I’d be off the hook.”
Annie grinned at him. “Well, I think you lost that game when you stormed out.”
Jeff’s expression turned grim. “Oh no, I’ll think of something -”
No! Don’t go back there! Annie thought desperately to herself. We were just starting to - suddenly an idea flashed across her brain. “Apologise to her,” she blurted out.
“ What ?” Jeff blurted out. “You can’t be serious! This is all her-”
“Think about it, Jeff!” Annie was getting excited as she sought to flesh out her moment of inspiration. “Right now you’re a Grade-A jackass-”
“Gee thanks Annie,” Jeff grumbled. She ignored him.
“-But if you’re the first to apologise you become the one who tried to fix it!” Annie’s eyes were shining with enthusiasm now. “You’ll have the high ground and if she tries to keep it going everybody outside her fan club will be on your side!”
“Oh please - like they’ll last beyond the first time she tries to organise a picket outside a sushi bar in protest at Japanese whaling,” but Jeff’s expression was distracted - that really isn’t the worst idea in the world, he thought with sudden respect tinged with fond amusement at the sight of Annie practically vibrating with excitement.
“And there’s one other thing,” Annie’s voice had turned soft and serious. Jeff raised an inquisitive eyebrow when she paused for a moment.
“If you stop and think about it for a while, you might realise you owe her a genuine apology. See you tomorrow Jeff,” and with that Annie pivoted on one heel and started walking across the car park in the direction of her battered Honda. Jeff watched her go, a thoughtful expression on his face.