Title: Things We Do for Love (2/5)
Spoilers: Specifically 1x25, 2x12. Little details through 2x17.
Word Count: ~ 3000
Disclaimer: You know how this works. Don’t sue me
Notes: Ficcy Friday prompt from tilie12. Sequel to Things We Do For Money.
Summary: Greendale holds a bachelorette auction.
When Jeff enters the school gym, the first person -- or thing -- he encounters is the genderless Greendale Human Being wearing a frilly pink skirt. As it hands him a flier describing the auction, Jeff wonders if the skirt is supposed to signify that it’s female, and if so, why its new wardrobe doesn’t include a shirt. He also wonders with some degree of revulsion whether its going to be auctioned off, and which of the desperate men of Greendale would be pathetic enough to bid on it. Jeff’s money is on Pierce.
The usual stage, set up at the center of the gym, is surrounded by numerous Greendale students. Jeff scans the room for his friends but comes up empty. Muttering to himself what he’ll do to the others if he’s the only one to show, Jeff makes his way through the crowd toward the refreshment table. As he crosses the room, he spots a woman with wavy brunette hair setting out a stack of napkins and arranging snack trays. Jeff’s eyes skim over her green halter dress, noting how it hugs her hips and flows down to just above her calves. As one piece of Jeff’s brain reaches into his now rarely-used repertoire of pick-ups, another section wonders when the dean hired a new assistant.
She looks up, and Jeff halts, nearly staggering backward. Staring back at him is the face of a woman he hasn’t seen since she refused to give him her name or number months ago. How had the waitress he’d met while intoxicated ended up at Greendale?
Partly ecstatic, partly petrified, Jeff’s stomach flips. She’s watching him with concern etched on her brow. He smiles and raises his hand in a brief wave.
She smiles back then waves him over and goes back to arranging the trays as if encountering him again is no big deal. Jeff stares, dumbfounded as he slowly crosses the remaining distance.
Rich comes up behind her carrying a tray of cookies and places it into a newly cleared space on the table. Jeff’s eyes narrow when he sees her touch his elbow as though they know each other well. They exchange smiles and words Jeff can’t hear. He feels a pang of suspicion and jealousy as Rich walks away.
She turns back toward Jeff, bouncing and excitedly waving him over with both arms in a manner that screams “Annie”. Jeff studies her face from his closer vantage point and quickly realizes that the woman at the refreshment table is none other than the youngest member of his study group.
Jeff shakes his head and runs his fingers through his hair as he laughs at himself. Annie must have gone home after class to change clothes and get made up for the auction. Her hair is different, and she’s wearing more eye make-up than usual. She looks incredible.
Jeff exhales a deep breath. Until now, he’d forgotten about that particular drunk delusion. He hadn’t even thought about the woman who resembled Annie in several weeks. Annie would kill him if she knew he’d just mistaken her for a waitress he’d slept with.
“You have to try these cookies!” Annie exclaims when he reaches the table.
He takes the napkin she extends to him. “Let me guess. Rich made them,” Jeff says flatly, still a bit distracted by both the mistaken identity and the potential flirting between the doctor and Annie.
“Yeah. They’re amazing!” When Jeff fails to respond, she insists, “Come on. Eat it.”
Unsuccessfully trying to block out his thoughts about Annie’s dress, he takes a bite. It’s like chocolate caramel heaven in his mouth. “Not bad.” He swallows and sets the rest of the cookie on the table. A strange, lingering feeling remains in his gut from the sight of Annie and Rich looking so close. “You and Rich seem pretty friendly again.”
Her eyelashes flutter before she tilts her head and lifts one shoulder. “He turned me down for a date. He didn’t poison my hypothetical dog.” She’s as bubbly as ever as she reaches under the table and pulls out a stack of plastic cups. “He’s still a great guy. I’m not so petty that I can’t forgive and forget.”
Jeff nods, telling himself to ignore the adoration in her voice. He has no place being jealous. Annie can -- and should -- have feelings for anyone she likes. Rich, Vaughn, Mark Ruffalo. It’s none of Jeff’s business.
As she separates the cups to arrange them in a neat line of smaller stacks, she leans over and inadvertently reveals an intriguing amount of skin. Jeff swallows and directs his eyes to the punch bowl.
She continues, “Stop pretending you don’t like him. I noticed you two were pretty chummy for awhile.”
He casts his gaze back at her and laughs. “Chummy?”
“Yes, chummy.” Her lips curve upward, and she challenges him with her eyes. “People still use that word.”
Jeff smirks, “Uh huh.”
“Whatever,” she responds, obviously trying to stifle a grin. “Quit distracting from the point.”
He shrugs. “I briefly thought he had his winning points, but I can’t get past how annoying he is.”
Annie lets a laugh escape. “He’s not that bad.”
He knows he should come up with a witty retort to illustrate Rich’s obnoxiousness, but watching Annie smiling at him in that dress, Jeff can’t seem to formulate a reply. Instead, he says the thing that’s been plaguing his mind since he saw her. “You look beautiful.”
She freezes. Her cheeks take on a pinkish hue as her eyes dart downward. “Thank you.” She fusses with her neck line. “My aunt gave me this dress. I never had the guts to wear it--” She stops as if she just realized what she’s saying, and she focuses on Jeff. “You look...”
“Under-dressed compared to you,” he finishes, looking down at his jeans and grey button down shirt.
“Well, no one is bidding on you. So considering... you look great.”
“Thanks,” he replies as he watches her pull out a box of sporks. He only half-heartedly attempts to avoid catching a glimpse of her cleavage. “Do you need help?”
She tears the top off the box and sets it in an empty spot exactly its size. “Nope all done,” she says, gesturing at the entire spread.
As Annie beams at him, Jeff’s lips curl upward. He feels the urge to reach over the table and pull her mouth to his. However, the moment is interrupted by the sound of someone blowing into a microphone.
Jeff takes a last look at Annie before he turns toward the stage. She comes around the table to stand next to him.
“Hello, students of Greendale!” Dean Pelton announces. “Welcome to our bachelorette auction. I’d like to thank everyone for coming. Before we start, I have a brief announcement. I’m glad to see so many of you carrying fistfuls of what we referred to until now as greenbacks, however, I was recently informed that ‘greenback’ is offensive to the Irish.”
In response to the collective confusion of the crowd, the dean replies, “I know. Can you believe it? I had no idea either.”
Jeff looks down at Annie, who shares Jeff’s confused expression.
The dean continues, “We've also been getting a lot of feedback that we don't cater to our students from India and of Indian descent. So after extensive Wikipedia research, in which I discovered they prefer to be called Native Americans, we've decided to rename Greendale’s currency in honor of this neglected segment of our student body.”
“Oh geez,” Jeff mutters.
“So get your wampum ready!” Dean Pelton shouts. “The bidding starts in five minutes.”
Annie looks up at Jeff. “Wampum? Is that word offensive?”
He shakes his head. “After this long at Greendale, I don’t even know.”
As the dean attempts to step away from the microphone, it becomes apparent he’s managed to get tangled in the cable. Jeff watches the dean unravel himself, and he remembers the rest of his wacky band of misfits is still missing.
“Where is everybody?”
Annie watches the dean stumbling around the stage as she answers, “Britta and Shirley are getting ready in the bathroom. Troy and Abed are editing their movie. Pierce is probably with them, still trying to get Abed to give him a role.” She nods toward the door Rich had exited earlier. “Rich went to get them.”
Jeff casts his eyes toward Annie as he notices the warmth of her shoulder against his arm. He smiles as he allows himself to remember kissing her after an event not that different from this one. Momentarily, he wishes the two of them were alone, and he could do anything he wanted with no consequences to his actions.
But they aren’t, and there are always consequences, so instead, he stuffs the thought away and asks, “Make any decisions about Vaughn?”
She shakes her head. “Not really. One on hand, we had a good relationship. On the other, if we were right together, why didn’t I go to Delaware with him?” She’s silent for a few seconds then sighs. “Maybe I never loved him enough to make it last.”
Jeff nods and feels a wave of relief involuntarily pass over him.
His solace is short-lived as Annie continues, “It’s hard to just turn him down though. He’s really sweet, writing me songs and sending me flowers.” She giggles fondly. “He sent me gifts in every one of my classes today. I had to ask him to stop and give me some space to think about things.”
Jeff’s stomach twists. He has a fleeting impulse to shake Annie and insist she banish any thought of getting back with Vaughn from her head. Yet he knows if he even made a slight implication that he disapproved of their relationship, Annie would demand he explain himself. She would see right through him, and unless he’s finally willing to give her the relationship she deserves, she would be furious with Jeff for once again selfishly interfering.
Not for the first time, Jeff wonders whether the greater of two evils is to watch Annie with another man or to risk hurting her by subjecting her to the likes of Jeff Winger. As Jeff continues his internal debate, the dean interrupts his thoughts.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to start the auction. Get ready for our first bachelorette!”
“Oh no! I’m supposed to be in line,” Annie exclaims as she rushes off, leaving Jeff to silently wonder if he’d just missed the perfect opportunity to ask Annie to forget about Vaughn and give him a second chance instead.
Jeff turns to see Abed and Troy arrive, both with green slips of paper in their hands. “Hey,” he answers, noticing Troy already has food in his mouth.
“These cookies are amazing!” Troy exclaims through a mouthful.
Jeff nods as he watches the first bachelorette climb on stage. “How’s the movie going?”
“Almost finished.” Changing topics, Abed states, “Rich has quite a pile of these greenbacks.”
“The dean is calling them wampum now,” Jeff corrects.
“Hm. Is that offensive?”
“It is if you heard the whole announcement,” Jeff informs as he notices Britta and Shirley next to each other, near the front of the line of bachelorettes.
“Sounds scary,” Troys says with a cookie sticking out of his mouth, counting his handful of lime green paper.
“Rich has a lot.” Abed repeats. “He’s planning to buy a certain member of our study group.”
“Hm,” Jeff mutters as his eyes move from the stage to Annie, standing in the back half of the line. When Abed’s words finally register, Jeff whips his head around. “What? Did he say that?”
“Yep. His exact words.”
Jeff looks to Troy for confirmation, but he receives only cookie-muffled mumbles.
“Why?” He searches the crowd for Rich. “That doesn’t make sense.”
Abed shrugs as the dean pronounces the blonde sold for fifteen hundred wampum.
Jeff struggles to figure out Rich’s game. Maybe Mr. Perfect isn’t so perfect after all. Maybe he changed his mind when he saw how beautiful and well... frankly, how sexy Annie looks in that green dress. Maybe Rich is just a sadist who’s trying to mess with the poor girl’s head. Whatever the reason, Jeff won’t let Rich get away with it. Jeff clenches his jaw and stares at the stage.
“I need money.”
From beside him, Abed declares, “Get your own.”
* * *
Jeff walks into the empty hallway and heads toward the banner that once read “greenbacks”, but with the aide of a magic marker, now reads “wampum”. Jeff groans when he sees a certain, overly enthusiastic, day-seizing professor standing behind the table.
As Jeff approaches, Professor Whitman calls, “Jeff Winger! Excellent to see you! Have you purchased yourself a lovely lady this evening?”
Jeff forces a smile. “That’s exactly what I’m here to see you about.” The professor’s eyebrows raise, and Jeff explains, “I need some auction money.”
“No problem! That’s what I’m here for.” He holds his hand out toward Jeff. “Just pass me your voucher, and I’ll have you bidding in a jiffy.”
“Yeah.” Jeff stuffs his hands into his jeans pockets and looks around to make sure they’re alone. “Here’s the problem. I don’t have a voucher.”
Whitman’s eyes pop open in surprise. “They didn’t give you a voucher for your volunteer work?”
“Here’s the other problem." Jeff takes a step forward. “I didn’t do any.”
The professor’s back straightens and his eyes narrow. “Then why are you here?”
Jeff leans in as he prepares to use his rusty powers of manipulation. “I need a favor. Your initial impulse is going to be to say no, but before you respond, I want you to take a moment and consider seizing this opportunity to help a fellow human being in need.”
“Jeffrey, what are you asking?”
His face remains serious as he declares, “I’ll give you fifty bucks for ten thousand of those things.”
Whitman’s mouth drops open. “Jeffrey!”
Professor Whitman lowers his voice. “I can’t do that. That is dishonest, and frankly, I’m appalled.”
“Gah,” Jeff utters and plants his face in his palms. He takes a deep breath and decides on another tactic. “Fine. I promise to clean chalkboards and erase penises from textbooks later.”
Whitman crosses his arms over his chest. “That would hardly be fair to everyone else who had to finish their charity work first.”
Jeff tosses his head back and glares at the ceiling. “There is no charity. Stop saying it’s for charity!”
Whitman takes a step back. “Well somebody is quite the sour puss.”
Jeff scrubs his face with one hand. “Professor, please just give me the stupid fake money.”
“You mean wampum.”
Jeff slams his hands on the table. “I am not calling it that!”
Whitman jumps. “Jeffrey, what has gotten into you?”
Jeff sighs and his shoulders slump. “I need to buy someone.”
“Ooh! Does infamous ladies man, Jeff Winger have an unrequited crush?”
“Yes. No!” Jeff hangs his head as he leans against the table. “It’s not like that. I just need to keep her from being bought by a jerk and getting hurt again.”
Whitman smiles. “Now why didn’t you say so in the first place. I’d have to be a heartless monster not to help with such a noble cause.” He reaches into a small metal box and pulls out two short stacks of bills. “Here, I can spare two thousand without the dean noticing. It’ll cost you twenty hours of work,” Whitman leans in and whispers, “but you can do it later.”
* * *
Jeff walks into the gym, stuffing his freshly acquired bills into his back pocket as the dean pronounces another bachelorette sold.
As Dean Pelton guides the newly purchased female toward the steps at the front of the stage, he declares, “By the way, you slackers are taking too long to pay up. So you now have a time limit of sixty seconds to make your way to the fulfillment table or the next highest bidder wins. Not that we don’t trust you--” He looks toward the professor sitting at the table to the right of the stage before correcting, “Oh, I’m sorry. It is that we don’t trust you.”
“You just missed it,” Abed states as Jeff steps next to him.
Abed nods toward the stage. “Rich’s bid. He won.”
“What!?” Jeff’s eyes dart to the line. Annie is still there. His eyebrows knit as he glares at Abed.
“Yeah. He bought Britta,” Troy explains. “He bid six thousand right off the bat. Nobody else could even bid. It was gangster.”
Jeff stares at the stage. As he processes Troy’s words, his shoulders relax. He almost laughs at his own mistake.
Abed tilts his head as he says, “You don’t seem upset. The way you reacted earlier, I thought you’d be more bothered by the news.”
Grinning, Jeff replies, “Yeah. I um...”
“You didn’t realize I was talking about Britta,” Abed finishes. He tilts his head and seems to scrutinized Jeff. “Rich made it pretty clear he was interested in her. He said she reminded him of his mother. Did I not accurately convey that message?”
Jeff stares at Abed, wondering if the younger man had misled him on purpose.
“You thought I meant Annie,” Abed declares.
Jeff’s face freezes before he scoffs. “No, I didn’t.”