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Introduction to Amature Videography

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Shaky video footage progressing down a hallway. Jeff can be heard singing along to Don’t Stop Believing. The camera rounds a corner and Jeff can be seen standing at the kitchen counter, his back to the camera. He’s cutting vegetables, and something is sizzling on the stove. He dances slightly to the song, swaying from side to side. A giggle comes from behind the camera, Annie’s voice, and he turns, smiling and using the knife as a microphone in a way that is definitely unsafe. His smile fades as he sees the phone.

“Wait, are you videoing this?”

“No?”

“Stop it!” He sets the knife on the counter and advances toward Annie. “Give me that.”

“This is for posterity!” The camera backs up rapidly, but stays pointing at Jeff. “The children, Jeff, think of the children!”

“The children can go fuck themselves.”

The camera turns and shakes as though Annie is running. There’s a growl, a squeal, and a thump and the phone goes flying, landing facing up pointing at a portion of blank ceiling.

There’s the sound of laughter and scuffling off screen, then another squeak and a sigh, and for a few minutes the only sound is the next song on Jeff’s playlist coming on: Crash Into Me by Dave.

Then the shrill beep of a fire alarm fills the air.

“The chicken!” There’s a shuffle and thump, and Jeff’s voice swearing continuously, then Annie’s face, disheveled, flushed, and happy, comes into frame, and the video ends.

--

Video begins in a dimly lit bedroom. At first, nothing is visible, but the camera adjusts to the lighting, and a closeup of Jeff's face can be seen. He's lying on his stomach, the side of his face squashed against his pillow. His mouth is open slightly, relaxed in sleep, and he's breathing deeply.

"Crap." Annie's voice comes from behind the camera, and the video shakes. When it stills, Jeff's eyes are open.

"Are you videoing me again?" he asks groggily, his voice gravely with sleep.

"I was just trying to take a picture, but my phone was in video mode."

"Oh, good. I thought you were turning into Abed for a second."

"Abed videos you in bed? Now that's something I'd like to see."

"And to think you used to be the innocent one." He rolls onto his back, rubbing a hand across his face. "Why were you taking a picture?"

"You're cute when you're asleep."

"I think you mean 'devastatingly sexy all the time'." He smirks sideways at the camera, but the effect is slightly ruined by his bleary eyes and pillow lines on his cheek. He's shirtless under the blanket, which has fallen back to reveal his shoulders and a part of his chest.

"Nope, I mean cute. You're like an overgrown puppy."

He groans. "Please don't mention me and dogs in the same sentence. You'll summon the dean."

"Oh, yeah, don't want that. I'll promise to never do it again if you help me make pancakes for breakfast." Her voice rises hopefully at the end of the sentence.

"Deal."

"And if you eat at least one." She adds quickly.

He gives her a long-suffering look, but sighs. "Fine. But you know I'll have to do an extra set of crunches to work it off."

"Yay!" The camera shakes, and then the video ends.

--

Video of Jeff and Annie's kitchen. The angle suggests that the phone is propped up on a counter. Jeff is cutting up vegetables while Annie kneads a lump of bread dough. They're side by side, not speaking, but she bumps her shoulder against his (or, more accurately, against his arm) and he smiles down at her and bumps back. Then he notices the camera.

"You're filming again? Really?"

She just shrugs.

"Okay, Abed, why are you doing this, and what have you done with my girlfriend?"

"Oh come on, I just felt like recording this."

"That sounds like something Abed would say." He leans in close, examining her face. "Die Hard is stupid. The fourth Indiana Jones is the best one. American Inspector Spacetime is better than the original."

"Jeff!" She laughs and gently shoves at his shoulder.

"No, seriously. Is this some Freaky Friday BS again? Are you going to make Abed break up with me at Senor Kevin's?"

"No! I just... I'm going away for that assignment in a couple weeks, and I want something to remember you by."

"It's just 3 weeks, Annie. You'll be fine."

"I know. But it’s also... never mind." Annie turns away to spread the dough in a baking dish.

"What?"

"Nothing, it's stupid."

"Come on, you can tell me."

"Well, it's just... I've been thinking, lately about how men statistically die sooner than women, and you're already older than me, and... see, it's stupid. I'm worrying about nothing again."

"You're creating memories for yourself for after I die." He says quietly, putting the knife down. He rests his hands on the counter, bowing his head.

"Yeah, but that's dumb, I'm just overpreparing again. I mean, I could die in a car accident any day now, but there’s no use worrying about that."

His head whips up. "Don't even joke about that."

"Jeff..."

He turns away from the counter, pacing around the small kitchen. "Oh god, this was a bad idea. Why did I ever think this would work out?"

"I knew I shouldn't have said anything, I'm sorry, we're gonna be fine."

"No, no." he runs his hands through his hair agitatedly. "One way or another, I'm going to leave, and you'll end up hurt. Whether it's because I'm the same selfish idiot I've always been, or because of biology the outcome's always gonna be the same: I'm gone and you're paying the price. Why did we think this could work?"

She punches him on the shoulder.

"Ow!" He looks over at her, massaging the spot she hit.

"Shut up," she snaps, voice shaking slightly. "You are not breaking up with me because of your misplaced fear and self doubt. We've been down that path before, and I didn't like it at all. Yeah, it's going to hurt if, and that's a pretty big if, I have to watch you die. But you know what would hurt even more? Getting an invitation to your funeral 40 or 50 years down the line and regretting all the memories we could have had together if we weren't too afraid of getting hurt. Jeff, by hurting me now you're not sparing me any future pain, you're just taking away any chance of happiness to go along with it."

He tilts his head to the side, a hesitant smile tugging the edge of his mouth. "Did you just... Winger speech me?"

"Yeah, I guess you've rubbed off on me."

He lets out a breathless laugh and pulls her in, crushing her to his chest and burying his face in her hair. She winds her arms around his waist and fists her hands in the back of his shirt, and he doesn't even complain that she's wrinkling it. They stay like that for some time, just holding each other in the kitchen, and then he speaks.

"I'm sorry." His voice is barely audible. "You're right, I'm letting my worries get the better of me."

She looks up, resting her chin against his chest.

"And, I know that we can't control the future, but I think that we should make a plan anyway."

"What sort of plan?"

"How about this? I'll live until I'm extremely old and wrinkly and toothless, and I'll have to wear a diaper, and, oh god, I'll probably be bald by then," he pulls a disgusted face, and her shoulders shake in a silent laugh. "And you'll be slightly less old and wrinkly, but still absolutely gorgeous. And then, when we haven't had sex in a few years, we'll die holding hands in our matching hospital beds within a few minutes of each other, like we're in some sappy movie. Deal?"

"I have a counter offer. We become vampires and stay young and hot with amazing hair forever."

"Okay, I like your version better. Deal." He bends down to kiss her softly.

She smiles when he pulls back. "Come on, let's finish this focaccia bread."

--

A recording of a video call between Annie, Shirley, Troy, and Abed.

"Hey guys, I have some exciting news." She's grinning, and practically bouncing from excitement.

'"You got a promotion?" Troy guesses.

"You've finally watched the newest Inspector Spacetime movie?" Abed asks.

"Jeff finally proposed?" Shirley guesses, sounding hopeful, but resigned to the eventual negative answer.

"Yes!" Annie squeals, bouncing in her spot. "Not to the first two, but Jeff proposed! We're getting married!"

The call breaks into a pandemonium of excitement and good wishes. Annie holds her left hand up to the camera so Shirley can coo over her ring.

"But why isn't Britta here?" Shirley asks eventually. "Are you waiting to break the news to her separately because she and Jeff used to... you know."

"No, she was actually the first to know. She helped Jeff plan everything."

"And it wasn't a complete disaster?" Troy asks, half seriously.

"No! It was actually really sweet. There were candles and flowers and he got down on one knee..." She's smiling too hard to say anything else, and the other three awww in unison.

"Have you set a date yet?" Troy asks

"Not yet. But when we do, I'm expecting you all to be there."

"Of course!"

Abed nods thoughtfully. "This will be a good opportunity for a full reunion. We haven't all been together since Troy left."

They chat for a while longer, discussing venues and themes and the kind of wacky hijinks that can only happen at weddings, and then the call ends with another round of congratulations

---

Video of the living room of Jeff and Annie's apartment. All the furniture has been pushed back against the walls, leaving the middle empty. Annie's phone is propped against something at eye level, and she moves away after starting the video. She’s wearing leggings and a t-shirt, but has a pair of fancy heels on.

"Okay, take 27" She approaches Jeff, who's standing in the middle of the room, arms folded.

"Do we really have to do this again? That last try was damn near perfect."

"But not entirely perfect, Jeff, we messed up the footwork at the bridge, and this needs to be perfect."

"We still have two weeks to work out all the kinks."

"Yeah, only two weeks! And I still need to double check about the vegan options with the caterer, and I know Troy and Abed are planning something, but I haven’t been able to figure out what, and I still haven’t finished the seating chart, and we won't have as much time to practice and oh god, we're getting married in two weeks.” She’s visibly panicking, wringing her hands together

"Hey, hey.' He crosses the room quickly to stand in front of her, and grabs her shoulders in a way that he used to claim was platonic. "This wedding is going to be amazing. You know why? Because it's us: Jeff and Annie, and we make an amazing team, remember? And even if the caterer forgets the vegan options, or Troy and Abed disrupt the ceremony with some crazy hijinks, or we mess up the footwork during the bridge, it's still going to kick every other wedding's ass, because it's us, and we're awesome. Okay?"

"Okay." She smiles up at him, and he drops a kiss on her forehead.

"Great. Now, let's practice this sucker one last time, and even if we mess up the footwork again, you're going to bed and getting some real sleep after. "

"Deal."

Jeff cues up the music on his phone, Collide, by Howie Day, and they begin the choreography. She does stumble slightly during the bridge, but gets right back on track, and they end triumphantly, Jeff holding her in a deep dip. He bends to kiss her, and then they straighten up, smiling.

"I'd say that was pretty damn good.”

“Better than good,” she grins up at him, “good enough.”

He shakes his head. “I’ve corrupted you. Where’s the overachiever now?”

“Ready for bed." She offers her hand. "Milord?”

“Milady.” He takes it. They walk off screen, then Annie yelps “my phone!” and rushes back to turn off the video.

---

Video of Jeff. He’s on the couch, Annie’s foot in his lap, and he’s bent over it, concentrating on painting her toenails violet. The bottom of the frame is filled by the curve of Annie’s pregnant stomach.
Audio picks up Jeff’s voice mid sentence.

“-told me that the only reason I couldn’t understand the nonsensical pile of flaming garbage he called an essay was because my ‘IQ wasn’t as high as the people he normally spoke to’! Like, kid, you’re a high school dropout failing out of community college, I think you should have a look at your own IQ before coming after your professor who practiced law for seven years.”

“Some people.” Annie murmured sympathetically, sounding vaguely amused.

“I know! He’s convinced he’s some kind of misunderstood genius who’s just too smart for everyone around him, and that’s why he has no friends, but I’m friends with Abed, I know what misunderstood genius looks like and this kid-” He notices the phone and breaks off, giving her a flat look. “Really?”

“Yep.”

“Okay, but this is for your eyes only, got it?” He brandishes the tiny paintbrush at her. “If anyone else saw this, my reputation would be ruined.”

“You mean everyone would realize you’re actually a giant softie who’s madly in love with his beautiful wife, instead of the arrogant, misanthropic cynic you pretend to be?”

“Exactly. I’ve worked hard to cultivate that aloof persona, and I won’t let anyone wreck it, no matter how cute they might be.”

“Awww, you think I’m cute?”

“Sickeningly adorable. You’re like every Disney princess rolled up into one psychotically sweet, optimistic bundle.” He finishes painting her right foot and runs his finger along the sole, making her squirm.

“Ooh, now I want to watch Tangled.”

“Again?”

“Please? I’ll help you grade papers while we watch.”

He sighs heavily. “Fine, I’ll watch Tangled with you.”

“I love you!”

“Love you too.”

--

A hospital room. Annie’s sitting in bed, looking exhausted and disheveled but happy. There’s a bundle in her arms, but from this angle, nothing is visible but the blankets. Jeff sits on the edge of the bed next to her. He also looks exhausted: his hair is a mess, he has dark circles under his eyes, and there’s a coffee stain on the front of his sweater, but he’s staring at Annie like nothing else exists. Annie looks up at him, smiling.

“You should hold her.”

He hesitates, fear flashing across his face. “Annie, I don’t know…” He gestures helplessly at the tiny bundle.

“You’ll be great, Jeff. You’re her dad.”

The camera moves around to get a better angle from the front as Annie gently hands the sleeping baby to Jeff. He accepts her, cradling her with a sort of tender hesitancy, his eyes never leaving the tiny, red face. She looks so small in his arms.

“Hi Sylvie.” He whispers, gently stroking her cheek with one finger, and then he bows his head over her, hiding his face from the camera. His shoulders shake, and Annie sits up to wrap her arms around him, burying her face in the side of his neck.

The video ends.