Title: Observation of Unusual Homework Phenomenon
Disclaimer: If you didn't already know, you probably wouldn't be reading this
Summary: Annie wants to help Jeff, but she doesn't, but she does. UST
Spoilers: Could be some from any ep up until Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design
Notes: My first Community fic. This plot is almost definitely not original, but it came into my head and wanted me to write it. It's entertaining at least, I think.
Annie hikes her backpack higher on her shoulders as she walks through the halls of Greendale. In her head, she goes over the tasks she needs to complete in the half hour before the rest of the study group arrives: review the outline for her speech final, make flash cards for each important equation in this semester's physics notes, and design the holiday cake she's planning as a surprise for the group. She smiles as she imagines the ways she can incorporate the symbols to represent each person's religious beliefs. A cross next to the crescent moon and star. A circle with an A for atheism. Maybe a menorah rising out of a blooming lotus. Pierce may be part of a crazy cult, but at least the lotus will look pretty on the cake. She wishes Troy's religion had made it that easy on her. The only thing she could find for it online was a blue line that looks like the top of a chess piece. Wait, she thinks, instead of a menorah above the lotus, she could put a question mark to represent Jeff's agnosticism. Annie's eyes sparkle as she forms another idea: an upside down question mark that doubles as a nod back to their Spanish class! Annie almost giggles with glee. She can't wait to start arranging the cutouts she printed at home. Maybe she'll work on the cake design first.
Her head bouncing with ideas, and her steps keeping pace, Annie rounds the corner into the study room. She takes a single step through the door and halts as abruptly as if she's struck a force field.
The room isn't empty. Annie stares at the figure before her, sitting with his back to the door, hunched over open books spread across the table. She blinks and scans the room. He's the only person present.
His shoulders stiffen. Then, he tilts his head as he grunts a greeting before returning his attention to the objects on the table.
Annie slips her backpack off her shoulders and heads for her usual seat. She surveys the scene as she slides into her chair. A half dozen books. Binder with college ruled notebook paper. Jeff, pen in hand. Annie squints as if she might be looking at a mirage. To find Jeff in the study room earlier than the rest of the group is unusual. To find him there alone doing homework is well... alarming. Annie would have been less surprised to see Pierce's deity, whoever or whatever that was, in Jeff's seat.
“Jeff?”, she asks again.
He stops. His hand, tightly grasping his pen, makes a loud thud as it strikes the table. “What?”, he barks as he glares, wild-eyed at her.
She tenses and her back springs straight. “Um...” She forgets her intended question and attempts a nonchalant laugh. “Is everything okay?”
Jeff's expression softens, but he returns to scrawling in his notebook. “Fine. Why?”
Annie watches the pen scratch a haphazard string of words across the page as Jeff's eyes dart back and forth between the binder and books. Remembering her original query, she tries to keep the shock out of her voice as she asks, “Are you doing homework?”
Jeff glances up at her for a fraction of a second but doesn't answer. Annie spots a few sheets of letter sized printer paper near the center of the table. She immediately recognizes the contents of the top one as a class assignment. As she lifts the pages, she sees the other is a print out from eHow.com with the the title, “How to write an art history research paper”. Annie groans.
She sighs as she notices an image of the Vitruvian Man on the open pages of the book nearest Jeff. Of all the unimaginative, internet-provided research topics, Jeff clearly chose the easiest: Evaluate the career of Leonardo da Vinci and his contributions to the history of art. Annie decides she shouldn't be surprised.
Still, despite his lackadaisical efforts, as she watches him scribble away, Annie can't help but feel a little pleased that Jeff is actually at school early, doing his homework. She wonders if Jeff is finally starting to take school more seriously.
She returns her attention to Jeff's assignment sheet. His eight page paper is due tomorrow and is forty percent of Jeff's grade. Annie's eyes widen. Forty percent. There's no way Jeff is taking school that seriously. Either Jeff had no other alternatives to fill his curriculum requirements, or he hadn't known about the paper until after the date to drop the class and enroll in another. Although that's unlikely, since professors usually mention all the big assignments on the first day, Annie supposes he may have been asleep when it was mentioned. Jeff Winger would never voluntarily take a class which left him with only two options: an eight page essay or guaranteed failure.
Annie sets the sheet on the table. Poor Jeff. Maybe she should proofread for him or something. She smiles and does her best to sound cheery and helpful. “So what do you have left?”
He doesn't answer, so she stands up and leans across the table to peer over his forearm. She sees two paragraphs at the top of a mostly-empty page. Her over-achieving brain immediately assumes this must be the end of his report. Otherwise the page would obviously be filled. Then, she notices he's writing on the top sheet in the binder, so there can't possibly be any preceding content. Her eyes scan the table again for any sign of previous drafts. She finds none. Her jaw drops. “Are you just starting it?”
Jeff still doesn't look up. She can hear distress in his voice. “Unless you plan to write this for me, could you be quiet?”
With a frown, Annie sits down and crosses her arms. Wouldn't Jeff just love that? Her stuck writing his paper while he plays Pocket Frogs on his phone, goes off to hit on girls on the quad, or whatever else he thinks is more worthy of his time than academics. Even if it weren't cheating, Annie isn't even going to entertain the notion of letting Jeff Winger get by so easily.
Except, she does entertain it. The idea of a hastily slapped together research paper is torture. But the idea of Jeff failing is worse... even if it meant he might have to stay with the group at Greendale a bit longer before returning to his lawyer life. No, as much as Annie wishes the group to stay friends until they're all too old to remember who each other are, she's already learned her lesson about trying to force that outcome. Although... She bites her lip as she argues with herself. Letting Jeff fail of his own accord isn't ethically the same as sabotaging him by ratting out a fake teacher. Maybe Annie was right to begin with, er, the first time she changed her mind. Maybe Jeff needs to sink or swim in the ocean of Greendale academia on his own, without an Annie life raft.
She watches Jeff scribbling away, frown lines wrinkling his forehead. If she lets him fail, she wonders if she would be comfortable being with, rather being *friends* with, she corrects herself, a failure. Well, maybe failure is an exaggeration. It's just failing a class, right? Failing one community college class doesn't automatically make you a loser, destined for a life of failure, she reminds herself... twice, because she's not sure it sinks in the first time. Of course Annie could still be friends with Jeff even if he failed a class.
The word “fail” lingers in her brain, and Annie stops herself from reaching for the nearest book. Writing Jeff's paper would still be cheating, and maybe she's being just a teensy bit neurotic.
Jeff drops his pen. “Would you quit that?”, he demands.
Annie leans forward with a puzzled scowl. “Quit what?”
Jeff backs down, putting his palms to his face and muttering, “I don't know. Whatever you're doing. It's distracting.”
“Sorry,” Annie replies in a tone indicating she's anything but.
With a huff, she reaches into her backpack for her physics notes. As she places her notebook on the table, she glances at Jeff rising to his feet and stretching his long arms above his head. Realizing she's staring, she focuses her attention on opening her notebook. From the corner of her eye, she sees him pull a pack of gum from his pocket.
Annie beams at him and asks, “Ooh. Can I have a piece?”
“Sure,” Jeff responds. But as he begins to pull the stick from its sleeve, his eyes light up like he's just discovered its wrapped in a Willy Wanka golden ticket. He turns on the patented Jeff Winger smile. “If you help me write eight pages on art history.”
Annie rolls her eyes and folds her arms across her chest. “And by 'help' you mean if I write it.” The luminance of Jeff's smile increases just before his hopes are dashed and Annie finishes, “I don't think so.”
“Six pages?”, he begs.
“No way. That's cheating. You really don't ever learn, do you?”
“Never.” Jeff tosses the gum package in the direction of the trash can. It misses, but Jeff doesn't notice as he leans over the table and waives a single, wrapped stick in front of Annie. “Are you sure? Last piece.”
Annie grabs for it, but Jeff snaps it out of her reach and reclaims his seat.
“Really, Jeff? Bribery. Is there no limit to the depths you'll sink academically?”
Jeff leans back into his chair and laughs. “Bribe? It's a stick of gum, Annie. That would be the worst bribe in history.”
Annie groans. “But you expected it to work on me? Just how desperate do you think I am?” She's not sure why she says that last bit more forcefully than she intended.
Jeff puts his feet on the table, obviously still trying to work his charms, “I thought you might do it because you like me.”
“Hah!”, Annie practically shouts. She glares at Jeff. “I don't like you *that* much.”
Jeff shrugs. His artful smile fades into what Annie thinks might be a genuine, crestfallen frown as he removes his feet from the table. Whatever the expression was, it's gone shortly after it arrives.
“Suit yourself,” he grumbles as he unwraps the gum and pops it into his mouth.
Annie's jaw drops. He hadn't even split it. What kind of a jerk doesn't split the last piece of gum? Fine. She doesn't have to accept this treatment. If she's going to get what she wants from Jeff Winger, she's going to have to take it. Annie's eyes narrow an instant before she leaps across the table, sending his books sailing to the floor. Jeff jumps back as far as his chair will allow but doesn't escape Annie's grasp. She seizes his collar with her right hand and pulls his mouth to hers.
Jeff's hands leap to Annie's shoulders, trying to push her away. She strengthens her hold by fisting the fabric of his sweater with her free hand. Her ballet flats drag along the surface of the table as Jeff manages to inch his chair backward. He tries to speak, and Annie takes the opportunity to maneuver her tongue past his teeth. As her tongue touches his, Jeff's defenses drop enough for Annie to scramble off the table onto his lap without breaking her lip lock. He renews his attempts to disengage her as she wraps her arms around his neck, but she latches her hands around her wrists to secure her position.
Annie feels a wave of heat over her cheeks as she realizes Jeff's chest pressed against her own. Her eyes open to find Jeff's are closed when she feels his tongue glide across her own. His grip on her shoulders loosens, and his hands move hastily through her hair.
Her eyelids slide closed, and she allows herself to absorb the warmth Jeff's fingers generate across her skin. She relaxes her death grip as his hands slide down her back, and his fingers tighten around on her hips.
Annie freezes for an instant as she notices the gum Jeff so selfishly kept for himself has migrated into her own mouth. She smiles against Jeff's lips. Drawn back to the reality of the moment, Annie pushes herself to her feet, takes a deep breath and smooths her skirt. She runs her fingers through her tousled hair, willing herself to ignore the warmth she hopes isn't staining her cheeks pink. Exhaling slowly, she spins on her heel and attempts to look nonchalant as she strolls toward her chair. Back straight and head held high, she loudly smacks her minty prize as she takes her seat.
Jeff's face is slack-jawed and blank. He's staring at the table. Worry crosses Annie's face. She wonders if she ought to apologize as she watches Jeff's mouth form a stern line.
He looks in her direction, and she notices his eyes now sparkle with mischief. He pushes the remaining books off the table. Annie swallows. Her eyes fill with apprehension. She doesn't know what he might do, but she fears she might want him to do it.
“Jeff?”, Annie asks with unnaturally wide eyes.
His lips form a wicked grin as he creeps toward her. She inches her chair backward and her eyes dart to the door. “Jeff?”
Annie squeaks as Jeff's fingers wrap around her waist. She squeals, maybe out of fear, maybe in excitement. She grabs his shoulders to steady herself as he pulls her from her seat. She's kicking and squirming but barely invested in her attempts to escape. Conveniently, her struggles land her on the study room table, arms pinned and face to face with an unrestrained, mischievously grinning former lawyer.
Jeff's face hovers dangerously close to her own. “Annie.” The way he slowly says her name makes her shiver. “That's theft.”
She feels her cheeks flush as she wills her lips into an innocent, teasing pout.
Annie's body tenses, and she follows Jeff's gaze to the doorway. She locks eyes with Troy, who's staring with his mouth agape. Pierce is next to him with a goofy grin plastered to his face.
“Puttin' the ole table to good use again, Jeff?”, Pierce quips.
“Ew,” Annie shrieks. At the reminder of Jeff's previous activities with Britta, Annie pulls her arms free of Jeff's now-loosened grasp and gives him a shove. “That's gross.” She crosses her arms and spins into her seat, internally chastising herself for once again forgetting the one thing she should keep in mind to retain her sanity: Jeff Winger is gross.
“Whatever, nymphet,” Pierce replies before blowing his wheelchair nozzle and heading for his usual seat.
Annie gasps in offense.
“Uhhh... what were you guys doin'?”, Troys asks in a high pitched voice, which carries the implication that he already knows but is hoping to hear something plausible enough that he can pretend he doesn't.
“Relax,” Jeff responds with a deceptive calmness and air of believability that only he could pull off. “Annie was helping me study CPR for my health final.”
Troy looks at Annie for confirmation. She forces a smile and nods. Troys shrugs, and then strolls to his seat in his usual “I don't have a care in the world” manner.
Annie catches a glare between Pierce and Jeff, and then she hears Britta's voice.
Everyone says their hellos as Britta heads for her seat.
“What happened in here?”, she asks as she spots the floor full of scattered books.
“I don't know,” Annie lies, determined to play it cool like Jeff. She's not going to be the rejected, love-struck teeny bopper again. “Those books were all over the floor when I got here.”
“Well, is anybody going to pick them up?”, Britta asks as she sits.
They all shrug simultaneously and mutter incoherent responses.
Annie reaches into her backpack for her Anthropology notes. She's proud of herself at how aloof she's acting.
“Helloooo,” Shirley calls from the doorway on her way to her chair.
Annie hears the beginning of a question from Shirley, but the words stop registering when Annie realizes Jeff is watching her. He smiles, not his phony, manipulative smile or his sarcastic one. He smiles the soft, sweet smile, which, when Annie isn't trying to convince herself she needs to stop being immature, she believes he reserves only for her. Annie forgets she ought to consider Jeff Winger gross, and she smiles back.
“Hey, guys,” Abed's voice arrives from the door.
Britta is first to respond, “Hey, Abed.”
“Sorry I'm late. A few more sentences, and I wouldn't have made it into this fic.”