[personal profile] applepips
Title: let sleeping dogs lie, for now
Author: [livejournal.com profile] applepips16
 Spoilers: Set after Paradigms of Human Memory but before the Finale. 
Rating/Warnings: T
Word Count: 3236
Disclaimer: My possessions can fit into a suitcase. No space for Community in there cause Dan Harmon already put it in his suitcase. Um, Sleepover Club is not mine either. Also Batman and Disney aren’t mine either.
Pairing : Study Group with a Jeff/Annie slant.

A/N - First community fic ever and dear god am I nervous about it being terribly OOC (CAUSE IT PROBABLY IS) and what not. I did try really hard to keep in characters but then again, I’m not one of the writers and nor do I own their special brand of awesomeness. Should you feel so inclined to leave it, feedback would be really appreciated. 

--

The evidence is blatantly obvious, Jeff notes with an irrational amount of annoyance as Annie scurries into the classroom and slides into her seat in an effort to not draw any attention.

Like that is ever possible with their group who seem to be way too invested in each other’s lives.

Judging from the few strands of hair out of place, the flushed cheeks, the ridiculously pink lips and most obvious sign, the misaligned button on the cardigan, Jeff can conclude that Annie Edison has just emerged from a make-out session that didn’t skimp on either the hot or the heavy.

The lateness doesn’t go unnoticed by the group. At the best of times, they are nice, kindly people and at the worst of times, they are a bunch of secret whores. They all smile at her, in that knowing fashion which Jeff considers very irritating. He has no wish to know anything at all. Really.

Pierce cuts straight to the chase.

“You’ve been banging someone, haven’t you?”

Shirley is outraged and Annie gasps out an offended ‘Pierce’!

“I think what Pierce means to say is that,” Britta looks around for the right word and finally hazards, “you have a boyfriend?”

“No, I meant what I said. Have you been banging someone?”

Cue the outraged gasps again. 
 
“Someone has to commit that man,” Britta mutters as she glares at Pierce and simultaneously smiles at Annie.

“Never mind him Annie, you tell us all about your new beau. And he better not be leading you down the rocky path to hell.” Shirley does that thing where she switches moods from sweet to down right scary as effectively as a TV changing channels.

To her credit, Annie doesn’t look very offended. However, it’s hard to stay offended you are bursting with news of the romantic kind, so she launches into her story, complete with the butterfly voice and excited hand gestures.

And everyone listens, except Jeff.
 
Because Jeff doesn’t care.

He is self obsessed and self involved and he doesn’t care who(Annie) made out with whom( Ryan) where( in the janitor’s closet) and why(because he wrote her a love song that actually sounded like one)and how long they’ve been going out( for two months now.)

And yes, he still doesn’t care but he knows that the closet is the scene of the crime even though Annie didn’t say anything because the smell of cleaning fluid always lingers. It has a tendency to. He should know of course. Along with Professor Slater, he’s conducted a thorough study of all the nooks, crannies and empty closets of Greendale.

“He sounds amazing Annie. Do we get to see him anytime soon?” Shirley beams at her and waits expectantly.

Annie’s gaze wavers. Quiet silence fills the room and Jeff inwardly swallows a smirk. Ha, there’s no way she likes that guy. Otherwise she would have no issues showing him off. And Jeff thinks, he can now sit back and relax. Because he’s definitely not going to be subjected to any sickening shows of affection.

“Well, I was going to bring him along but I didn’t want to make things awkward around us and I wanted to check with you guys first. But now that you all want to see him, I’ll go get him right now!” Annie beams and jumps out of her chair and practically skips out of the room.
 
Jeff begins sulking once more.

“Aww, our little girl is all grown up,” Britta coos.

The group looks at her askance.

“I’m capable of feeling mother-y once in a while. You guys are the worst for doubting my feelings. I have cats and they foster the spirit of parental love.” 
 
The group still looks at her askance.

“Okay, not motherly exactly but I can feel fond feelings.”

The group relaxes and Britta slinks further down into her chair. She’s been trying to be more, supportive and not buzz kill like. And you’d think her friends would want to further her character development but apparently, not.

“Abed, have we seen this fellow before?” Troy questions.

“I believe I might have. I can’t say the same for you all though.”

“No shit Sherlock. Well, how does he look?”

“Are you messing with me? Cause that’s so over-rated.”

Troy blinks.

And then the waterworks begin.

“Why are you so mean to me? You know I can’t understand sarcasm!” Troy wails.

Abed sighs.

“I was just messing with you.”

“Oh yeah, I totally knew that. I was um…messing around too.” Troy concludes shiftily. “Practicing for drama club,” he adds. “Cause um real men don’t cry.”

Jeff has kind of reached the end of this tether. This whole Annie business is jangling his nerves. And Troy’s melodrama isn’t helping things either.

“You know what? Call me when this week’s edition of the Sleepover Club is over so that we can get some real studying done.” 

And just like that Jeff is gone.

“It’s interesting that he mentions the Sleepover Club. It’s not normally something I would associate with a main lead like Jeff  watching but I guess we all have our quirks.” Abed mentions, gazing at Jeff’s empty chair thoughtfully.

“Is Sleepover Club a name for something else like how Pierce calls his gym a dungeon?” Troy questions, the waterworks all gone now that he is interested in something that sounds like porn movie.

“It’s just a gym,” Pierce assures the group at large. “Nothing kinky going on there. I’m not a freak. I don’t enjoy pain and sexual pleasure together.”

The group nods politely, letting the obvious slide for now.

“So, this Sleepover Club thing, does it involve hot chicks in very little clothing?”

“No it doesn’t. But it’s a good show and I’ll explain this later Troy.” Abed assures Troy and then turns to Britta waiting expectantly.

“What?”

“Don’t you have a sarcastic question regarding his hasty exit?”

“Oh yes, thanks Abed. What’s gotten his panties in a bunch, huh?” Britta questions the group at large, amused at his hasty and abrupt exit. “Or should I say stripey tighties?” She waits for the resulting laughter.

“I made a joke you guys!”

“Yeah, not funny Britta,” Troy says shrugging his shoulders, matter of fact.

“I think he finally realized he was gay,” Pierce offers sagely. “Hearing about Annie’s escapades has made him confront his own feelings and now he’s going to do it with the Dean in his office.

The group reacts collectively with expressions of disgust.

“Good god, you guys will never be streets ahead of anything. You all are so lame.” Pierce grouses. This time, nobody pays attention though.

“I’m thinking Jeff is dealing with some issues,” Abed offers in a grave monotone. More monotonous than is his usual style, which means Abed is talking serious business.

“Then I’d better show him the path to God, it will definitely solve all of his problems.” Shirley trills at the prospect of bringing someone new to her church.

“I don’t think God can solve those problems Shirley.”

“His problems are bigger than God?” Shirley looks like she wants to pray for his soul or something like that.

“I wouldn’t phrase it that way, but I suppose you can say that.”

“Is Jeff dying?” Troy whimpers, eyes huge and lips quivering.

What? No, he isn’t.” Britta retorts. “Wait, is he?”

"He's not dying."

“Oh cool then.” Troy grins, fears all assuaged.

“He’s old and he probably wishes he had my stamina and fantastic good health.” Pierce crows to once again, no one in particular. 
 
“I imagine our group to be more perceptive than this sometimes,” Abed laments. He’s about to launch into the specifics and quell mindless guessing but then he is cut short.

Annie appears, blushing and smiling, Ryan in tow.

--

And unknown to everyone, except Abed, Jeff watches Ryan pensively from a distance outside the study room.

There is nothing really to dislike about that kid.

He’s decent looking, he wears a shirt as well as shoes and he looks washed and clean. More importantly, he seems to like Annie just as much as she likes him.

And that is what Jeff dislikes.

--

“Shirley, where did Jeff go?” Annie questions, when she finally is done with all the introductions. The group has banded together and seems to be subtly interrogating him or in the case of Pierce, unsubtly. For the most part, they do seem to like him though.

Ryan is so perfect in that he seems to be getting along with everyone. He’s able to talk issues with Britta, he’s able to exchange references with Abed and he’s able to trade typical jock talk with Troy. He bonds with Shirley over baking and he’s even able to get along with Pierce. Well somewhat. Because even Ryan is not a saint to be able to handle Pierce effectively.

“Abed said he had some issues that were bigger than God,” Shirley shares in a worried whisper.

“Abed said Jeff had issues bigger than God?” Annie parrots confused. “But what issues can Jeff Winger possibly have?”

“I don’t know. I’m very worried for his soul.” Shirley replies, looking appropriately concerned.

And Annie thinks, maybe the right person to talk to about this is Abed. If there is anyone who knows them better than themselves, it has got be Abed. 

--

After the study group is done for the day, Annie hangs back a little and falls into step beside Abed.

“Hey Abed, can I talk to you?”

“Sure thing Annie. What can I do for you?”

“What is wrong with Jeff? He left today before I could introduce him to Ryan. I mean, I thought things were fine between us but now he seems angry. He didn’t even talk to me today after I came to the room.” Annie’s voice sounds small and hurt and more than worried, she’s sad about the fact that she may have done something to mess up the dynamic between them. And even worse, she can’t figure out what it is that went wrong between them. She and Jeff seem to tread on paper thin glass nowadays and it’s uncomfortable because they went from being good friends to awkward friends.

“I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong Annie,” Abed responds as kindly as he can.

“Then what is it?”

“The problem lies with Jeff himself. He’s living a little bit in denial and coming to terms with that - cause today it basically kicked him hard in the face - is proving to be very hard for him.”

“What is he in denial about?” Annie questions confused. She would not be lying if she did let on that she has a vague idea but she really has no wish for it to be shot down ruthlessly without so much as even a thought for her feelings regarding the whole thing. That is hurtful contrary to popular belief.

But maybe it’s not what she thinks it is. Because Jeff said there was nothing between them. And she is going to din that into her head so that no more awkwardness crops up between them. She pushes her self to think of other things that could be bothering him. Maybe he’s in denial about the fact that he’s growing old or that he’d ever work in a law firm again? The latter does seem plausible. And while the issue did come out of left field, some issues do come out of left field primarily for the reason that they want to wreck your brain.

“I have a good idea about it but I don’t think I can reveal it.” Abed says it as carefully as he can, taking care to let no inflexion enter his voice. But really, he’s sure even Annie has an idea about the issue. She’s not stupid at all. Jeff cannot hide his frustration over things very well. At the same time, Abed has no wish to hurt Annie. Moving on is good for her.

“Well, if you can talk to him about it and make it alright, that would be really cool Abed.” Annie smiles up at him and Abed smiles back ever so slightly.

“If you don’t have anywhere to be, would you like to come back and watch a movie in my room? I’m pretty sure Shirley, Troy and Britta are already there and in the process of driving out Pierce. It will be fun.” 

“I would love that Abed.”

Annie hooks an arm through his as they walk down the hallways and towards the dorms.

--

Abed looks up at the name of the bar before stepping inside and letting the smell of alcohol hit him like a wave. He does not enjoy the things alcohol does to your brain. It does bad bad unspeakable things. But he’s on a mission here. Sort of like Batman. He has to save the day and then go back to his ordinary life.

He spies Jeff sitting at the bar with a bottle next to him and knocking back spirits like they are water. Abed knows this situation like he knows every other situation.

Here the hero is literally trying to drown himself in his sorrows. But since this is serious business, Abed is not going to tropeify this. Some things in real life are bigger than tropes, like a friend in denial and distress. And Abed gets that.

He sits down next to Jeff and just to make himself fit in with the scene, he asks for a Bud Lite and takes a sip gingerly before turning to Jeff.

“How drunk are you Jeff?”

“Hey Abed. You just…you just appeared. Magic.” Jeff slurs, looking at him cross-eyed.

Abed doesn’t need an answer to know how drunk Jeff is. On a scale of one to ten, Jeff has crossed over to eleven.

“Any reason you –“ Abed doesn’t know how to say it so he just points at the already empty bottle, the second half empty one and the empty glass surrounded by a few splotches of alcohol on the bar top which got spilled when eye to hand co-ordination became a bit of a problem.

“No reason at all. Peachy. Cream.” Jeff answers but then blinks in confusion.

“I have a feeling it’s not cream.”

“Indeed. It’s keen.”

“I’m peachy cream keen.”

Abed sighs. He might as well cut to the chase.

“Look Jeff, I know why you are trying to overburden your liver. You are in denial and you have issues regarding your feelings for a certain someone.”

“Huh?” The effort it takes for Jeff to turn his head and process the words alone tells Abed he needs to dumb it down.

“You are jealous of Annie’s new boyfriend.” He says impatiently.

“What? Noooooooooooo.” Jeff draws out the no and then stops, takes a big gulp from his now refilled glass and prepares to carry on.

“Save it Jeff. I know that while you are constantly denying the existence of anything between you and Annie, there is something between of you that matters enough to you for you to be jealous of her boyfriend. You have feelings for her but you are scared of admitting them so you deny them instead. But when she moves on, you are jealous because even though you deny them, the feelings are every real and you cannot come to terms with the fact that you cannot move on as easily as she is able to. It seems to suggest that your feelings for her seem to run at a deeper level. At least that’s what I think it is. ”

Abed tilts his head to one side and considers what he said for a moment.

“Yep. I think that is it.”

“Are you inside my head? Jeff questions suspiciously.

“Okay, you’ve had enough. Bartender!” Abed somehow extricates Jeff’s wallet from his pocket, throws down a few bills which he feels should cover the tab and begins the arduous task of hauling Jeff to the car.

Getting him into the vehicle is not much of an issue and Abed drives around for a bit before Jeff looks sufficiently sobered up. At least as sober as a drunken man can get before the hangover of doom that will hit him the next morning.

Abed knows Jeff will talk soon. Even that much alcohol cannot drown feelings. They have a nasty habit of coming back up as soon as they can.

And Jeff does.

“She gets to me you know?” Right here.” He points at his heart. “And she’s always trying to make me do good things. She’s like the hot conscience I never had. When she’s looking at me with those big Disney eyes, I feel like I’m getting lost in there but I don’t mind you know cause she makes me feel really good about myself when I do what she says and she smiles like I’m a hero. But you don’t mess with your conscience, no matter how hot she is. What if I ruin her? Cause I’m the guy who ruins consciences. I’m a mean lawyer. Lawyers don’t like consciences. And if I ruin her, then I won’t even have a hot conscience friend. And that, that will make me very sad.” Jeff concludes quietly before looking out of the window, his gaze weary and wistful.

And Abed gets this. He gets this and he understands why. Not all love stories have happy endings. Bittersweet ones are very much a part of TV and reality too.

“She feels like you don’t like her anymore. That you don’t want to be friends. She feels it’s her fault.”

“What? When did I say that? I never did. Did I say it?”

“You implied it today when you left before you meet her boyfriend. And you didn’t even interact with her today.”

“Yeah, today. Today was not nice.” Jeff grimaces as today replays it’s self in his head with a clarity that he wishes didn’t exist.

“But I can never not like her you know? She’s Annie.” He says it simply, like it explains everything. And Abed has to agree. Annie is a lot of things but somehow, she endears herself to you. 
 
“Well you should tell her that. Troy tells me that girls like knowing about stuff like that.” Jeff doesn’t respond to this and Abed thinks that after this, he cannot force things anymore. He’s done his bit. His time as Batman is over and the rest is up to Jeff.

So he drives Jeff home, leads Jeff to his bedroom and before he goes, he leaves two Alka Seltzers and a bottle of water on the nightstand next to Jeff’s bed to soften the blow of tomorrow blindsiding headache.

On the way out, he passes Chang curled up on the sofa with a ten gallon hat on and decides that one day; he’s going to document an entire day in the life of Benjamin Chang. The possibilities and adventures are and will be numerous.

--

The next day, Abed doesn’t get a chance to talk to Annie. But he does see that Jeff consciously goes out of his way to make a sincere apology to Annie who accepts it happily and mouths a thank you to him, all the way across from her seat in Anthropology.

Abed accepts it with a nod and then turns in his seat to face the front and Professor Duncan’s ineptitude.

Maybe all love stories needn’t end on a bittersweet. All a few of them need is a little bit of time before they can blossom into happy endings.

--
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