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o brave new world

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He's careful to keep as many people as possible between himself and Annie when midnight hits. As a result, he gets the world's heartiest cheek smooch from Dean Pelton. And yes, there is licking involved. He tries to determine where this ranks on the inappropriate scale next to Makeouts with Annie. He can't really reach a definitive conclusion, because he's too busy yearning for brain bleach. Or alcohol, which he's found over years is an acceptable substitute.

Annie kisses Britta, which isn't a thing a guy needs brain bleach for. It's your standard chaste corner-of-the-mouth 'Oh hey, Aunt Mildred!' deal, but still.

"Check you out," he says when she flounces over to him at like 12:02, drinks in hand, "embracing lesbianism for the New Year. Edison, I applaud you."

She swats him adorably on the chest. "Shut up, Queer Eye for the Bald Guy."

"Wow, what a hilarious, clever, and totally non-dated reference."

"Thank you!" She hands him champagne, then keeps going to town on that sparkling cider. You can tell it's sparkling cider because the plastic flute has 'FOR UNDERAGE LAME-OS' scrawled on it in black Sharpie. (It is, indisputably, the work of Chang. Except for the gold star under the insulting label, which Jeff does not doubt is the work of Annie.)

Why am I HERE, he thinks, but it's with a little less zest than he's used to, and the Dollar Store champagne is almost palatable. This place is warping him. It's warping him bad. It's hard to care so much anymore.

"Got any resolutions?" he asks as they clink their 'glasses' together. It doesn't really make a noise, because, y'know. Plastic.

"Be better," she replies chirpily, like this is somehow a simple, attainable thing rather than vague as all hell. "But, you know. In a way where I still figure out how to let loose and have fun."

"Well, you rang in the new year locking lips with a chick," he points out. "Even if it was Britta. I say you're on your way to loose."

"Thanks," she says, like she's actually touched by him essentially calling her a floozy. Her eyes do that thing where they actually honest to God light up, very little metaphor involved, and she's so utterly and simply and sweetly pretty that it makes him think in small woodland animals and Disney songs that he doesn't even know. His brainwaves can roughly be translated Adorable chipmunk, adorable chipmunk, bluebird, fairy, fairy, A whole new wooooorld!

Annie friggin' Edison, ladies and gentlemen.

"I think," Jeff says, "you're gonna be able to achieve anything you want to. But 'better' is kind of a tall order."

"Oh yeah?" she asks, smiling.

"Yeah," he says. Smiling back, God help him. "You're already pretty damn okay."

She gives him that look that comes out to play once in awhile, where it's like he's done something right and she's proud or whatever. It is a look that has absolutely no power over him, just for the record.

Then she stands up on tiptoe and she kisses him.

It's a quick, nice, no-tongues kind of kiss. A friend kiss, if you will.


"What was that for?" he asks, trying to frown.

"It's New Year's," she replies with an innocent shrug.

"It's--" He consults his watch. "12:09."

"Close enough," she says, giving him one last radiant smile. Then she takes off across the room towards Shirley and Britta.

He totally doesn't watch her go, and decides to spend the rest of the night stealthily throwing chips at Professor Duncan's head. Priorities.