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01 January 2014 @ 09:25 pm
fic: This Will Be Our Favorite Song (2/2)  
Title: This Will Be Our Favorite Song
Author: [info]monroeslittle
Fandom: Community
Characters/Pairings: Jeff/Annie
Word Count: ~15,000
Rating: M
Summary: It's impossible not to kiss her. post-4x13.
A/N: This fic ignores spoilers for the fifth season. I was determined to post before the season started, and one day before is the best I could do! Title and lyrics from the Goo Goo Doll's "Come to Me." :)


They've been together for a year when she texts that her throat hurts.

He grabs ice cream for her after work.

But when he shows up at her apartment, he realizes she is sick for real, the gross, pasty sick. She glares miserably at him from the couch. "Tonsillitis," she says. "Again." Her voice is funny, and her face is puffy from tears, and this is going to be worse than when Troy had the chicken pocks.

It's a week before she is better.

Three weeks after that, he takes her to the hospital for surgery to remove her tonsils.

She is hilarious when doped up, insisting that she feels lighter without tonsils, walking into walls, explaining to Jeff how she loves that carrots are crisp; he takes fifteen videos on his phone.

The doctor explains that she needs to take meds for the pain every four or five hours, which means she needs to remember to take a dose at night, or she'll wake up in horrible, horrible pain.

But she isn't listening to the warning, and Jeff knows that one is on him.

His phone beeps to wake him. She doesn't stir, but he stumbles from the bed to fetch the syrup, and she mumbles sleepily when he turns on the light. He returns with the medicine to find her burrowed under the blankets. "Come on, babe," he murmurs, pulling back the sheets, and he coaxes her to sit up. As soon as he spoons the stuff into her mouth, she sinks back into the sheets.

"Gross," she whispers.

He stares at her. She smacks her lips softly in her sleep, and he is in love with her.

---

There is a soft, polite knock on the door. "Is everything okay in there, sir?" she asks, concerned, plain, pointed heels are visible through the six inches the dressing room door rises from the floor.

"Fine," he breathes, and Annie smirks, gazing up at him with her big, wide Disney eyes, his cock in her mouth. He clears his throat. "I'm fine!" he says, but Annie drags her pretty pink tongue along his cock, her head bobbing forward to take him deeper, and he groans through gritted teeth.

Her cheeks hollow, sucking.

"Do you need something in another size, sir?"

"Really, I'm great," he says, "I don't need —" but his words end on a high, strangled note when his cock hits her throat, and Annie holds his hips while he comes; he pushes his fingers into her hair, is able to feel her swallowing, and her glossy pink mouth sucks his cock until he is finished.

She tugs his briefs up, tucking him away before she rises to her feet.

She wipes her hand with her mouth, pleased as punch, and he tugs her to his chest, squeezes her ass, kisses the laughter off her lips. They leave the dressing room before he is able to sink to his own knees, but he decides not to buy the jeans that she convinced him looked better on the floor.

He wraps his arm around her shoulders, nodding at the wide-eyed woman in plain, pointed heels.

---

In the end, things come to a head when they're forced to. In March, she hears back from schools. Two rejections, and four acceptances. Abed volunteers to devise a few simulations to help her pick a school, and they're in the Dreamatorium for hours. It's eleven when she shows up at Jeff's.

"How'd it go?" he asks, clicking off the TV.

She stomps the snow off her boots. "I realized something I didn't want to admit," she says, and she looks sadly at him, her nose a shiny pink from the cold, her fluffy red earmuffs on, snow melting in her hair. She takes a deep breath. "I haven't wanted to, but we need to talk. About us."

He picks at the peeling label on his beer. "I know."

"I've thought about this a lot in the last year," she says, tugging off her coat, her boots, her earmuffs. She smoothes her skirt needlessly, tucks her hair behind her ear. "I know what I want."

He nods.

"I want to go to Boston. It's an amazing program, and I loved the city when I visited a few years ago. It's a whole new start, and I want it." She pauses. "I thought about staying. My career has always been important, but my relationships are, too, and I — I don't want to leave. You. I don't want to leave you. But I have to go, Jeff, I have to. This is something I've wanted my whole life."

He takes a deep breath, but she doesn't give him the chance to respond.

"If I'd gone away for college, the situation might be different," she starts. "But I —"

"Didn't go away for college," he says. "I get it. Seriously, I do." He smiles. "I know how hard you've worked for this, and you deserve to go to whatever school you want. The truth is I've actually thought about this, too. About what happens with us. And here's the thing. I'm a lawyer."

He pauses, and she starts to nod, but, "I don't know what that means," she says.

"They need lawyers in Boston." In fact, he might have a better shot at a job he likes in Boston.

But she blinks at him. "Are you — are you saying that you'll move to Boston with me?"

"Yeah. Yes." He nods. "That's exactly what I'm saying." He smiles, but she hasn't responded yet, her mouth slack in surprise as she stares at him, and he starts to panic. "When you started applying to schools, it got me thinking. I realized that I didn't want to lose you, but you deserved to have everything you wanted. This is the answer. If you want to go to Boston, I'll go with you."

"Jeff," she says, stunned. But she doesn't go on, doesn't respond, and he is left to wait.

He needs her to respond, to say she wants him to come. He is in love with her. He wants to do this, to move with her. But for the first time, he realizes that Annie might not be in love with him.

It's not like she's told him she is. She might not want him to move to Boston with her.

"Well, what do you think?" he pushes. "The silence isn't really working for me."

"Is this for real?" she asks, the barest trace of a smile on her lips.

He nods, and he stands. "This is for real. I want to do this. I'm ready to do this."

Her smile comes to life, and "I love you," she breathes, bright eyed.

For a moment, he is stunned, but —

"Good," he says. He grins. "Good, 'cause I, ah, I love you, too," he says, and she laughs softly, breathlessly, clapping a hand to her mouth. "I love you, and I'm going to go to Boston with you."

She launches herself at him.

He laughs, dipping his head to kiss her. But she ends the kiss a moment later, unable to taper her smile, peppering his face with a dozen happy, hurried kisses. "I love you," she says, over and over, and he draws her in closer, slips a hand into her hair, catches her lips in a proper kiss at last.

She pushes her palms flat against his shoulders, and he hoists her up obediently; her arms wrap around his neck, her legs around his waist. "I'm such a good boyfriend," he says, and she laughs.

---

They invite the group to his apartment for dinner. Annie orders a sheet cake from Food Lion for the occasion, and the words We are moving to Boston! is written in purple frosting on top. But the group doesn't meet up as regularly as they once did, and she stalls on the cake, on the reveal.

"Bullshit," Britta crows. "Bull. Shit, Winger." She sits back in her seat. "Pick up that pile. Pick it up. Ooh, ooh," she sings, dancing dumbly in her seat while he gathers up the cards in the middle.

"One four," Annie says. Jeff makes a face at how cheery she is. She sticks her tongue out at him.

"Four fives," Pierce says.

"Baloney!" Annie cries, delighted, and Pierce sighs.

"This game is stupid." He takes the cards she hands him.

"I told you not to say you have four unless you have four," Chang says. "Honestly, you guys are horrible at this game. Two sixes." He glares around the table, daring somebody to challenge him.

"Three sevens," Abed says.

"Bulldean!" the Dean trills.

"Again, I have to ask," Jeff says. "It's clear to you which word you're replacing, right?"

The Dean chuckles, stroking Jeff on the chest, and Abed reveals that he did, in fact, have three sevens. "Oh, phooey," the Dean says, sighing. Shirley puts down two eights, and Chang announces that he needs to go numero dos, amigos, which means the game is officially on pause.

"So. What is this shindig about?" Britta asks. "One nine."

"We just wanted to hang out with our friends!" Annie says.

"One ten," Jeff says. "Actually, there is something we wanted to tell you."

He looks at Annie, who deflates. But she nods, taking a deep breath. "I think it might be time for cake," she announces, rising to her feet. Shirley smiles sweetly, saying that she would've been happy to bring a cake had she known they wanted to enjoy a cake, and "Chang!" Annie exclaims.

Chang runs suddenly from the kitchen, Annie on his heels.

Jeff frowns. "I thought you had to go to the bathroom," he says.

Chang swipes at the icing on his cheek. "I was hungry, and you had cake that you didn't want to share with your guests! But now I know your Changret! Threaten me, and I'll reveal everything!"

Exasperated, Annie crosses her arms over her chest. "Nobody is going to threaten you."

"THEY'RE MOVING TO BOSTON!" Chang shouts, brandishing an accusatory finger at them.

In the stunned, awkward silence that follows, nobody knows what to do. "Surprise," Annie tries, smiling weakly at them, and the dam breaks in two seconds flat; everybody starts to talk at once.

But Jeff hasn't lost his touch. One gesture, and the group is silent. "Okay. Here's the deal."

He explains that he wants to try his luck at law in Boston, which is, coincidentally, where Annie wants to go to school. Again, there is silence. "Well." Annie musters a big, bright smile. "Who wants some vanilla cake?" She glances hopefully from face to face. "Vanilla cake? Vanilla cake?"

"It's actually quite delicious," Chang adds. "I really enjoyed it." The Dean bursts into tears.

---

It isn't the best idea they've had to move in the summer, but they do, and the humidity is awful.

The apartment they find is older than he is, and the whole place smells faintly like Italian food from the restaurant two floors below, but the windows are huge, Annie is in love with the molding in the bedroom, and they each have their own walk-in closet. Plus, the price was right.

They're low on cash, but Annie is crafty where money is involved; she cuts coupon like a pro, makes the curtains with fabric she found on sale, pays $40 for a dresser from Goodwill that she paints black to cover the weird, circular burn on top. She is crafty, and she is detailed; receipts for everything are put in a three-ringed binder while the budget is kept on an Excel spreadsheet.

Jeff decides they need to reward their frugality with a splurge.

He buys a 54" television for the main room, and they watch Shark Week to celebrate their move.

She paints her toenails a sparkly blue while they watch, her feet propped up on his thigh. When the shark on screen attacks a dolphin, Annie claps her hand to her eyes. He squeezes her calf, amused when she peeks through her fingers to spy on the bloodshed. "I hate sharks," she mutters.

"We don't have to watch," he says.

But she insists that she wants to watch. She sidles up to him, tucking herself under his arm. His sleeves are rolled up, and her nails run absently along his arm. He wasn't familiar with sweet, absent touches before her, didn't know how much he liked to be touched like that, to be cared for.

---

He isn't able to find a job for weeks, and he remembers why he avoided relationships in the past.

His job in Greendale was the worst, but it was a job. He was an idiot to leave without a thought. Annie gives him a soft, sympathetic smile, and she says that a job is around the corner, that he needs to be positive. But he is moody, miserable, and mean, needling her until they're in a fight.

She cries to Britta on the phone for three hours about what a jerk he is.

They've squabbled, but this isn't like their fights in the past.

This isn't about how bad the young, idealistic teenage girl makes him feel, or about how to repair his friendship with her. The stakes are higher. This is about his relationship with her, and he remembers why he kept to the easy stuff for years, why he refused to commit like he has to her.

But he is committed to her, and he grabs the phone from her hand, hanging up on Britta. "Jeff!" she cries, indignant. He tosses the phone onto the bed behind her, and he takes a deep breath.

She doesn't give him the change to apologize. Instead, her arms are suddenly around him, her cheek pressed to his chest, and she says that she knows he'll find a job, and he can't give up yet.

Slowly, he wraps his arms around her. "I'm sorry I'm a jerk."

She nods. "Me, too. That you're a jerk, I mean." She pauses. "Thank you for hanging up on Britta, though. She wanted to talk about what my decision to be in a relationship with an emotionally unavailable, man-child with daddy issues says about my neurosis and self-worth."

He chuckles, and she props her chin on his chest to look at him when he murmurs that he might have a few ideas why she is in a relationship with a rugged, ridiculously attractive man like him.

"I know, I know," she says, sighing. "I'm as shallow as you are." He opens his mouth to retort, but she kisses him, pushing him back towards the bed, and "shut up," she mumbles into his grin.

(They don't fight a lot, but there are spats over the years. One about money, one about his father, one after she buys them plots in a cemetery. But he doesn't really remember how most end, because they always end the same way. She loves him, and he loves her. They're in this for good.

He told her once that he'd break a light sweat for her.

It wasn't the truth. It never is. The effort she rates is always, always off the charts.)

Three weeks later, he walks into an interview only to come face to face with Nick Santos. "Jeff Winger, my man!" Nick says, clapping Jeff on the shoulder, and he precedes to explain to everybody at the firm how he went to law school with this balding, old bastard, and Jeff Winger is the best in the business. "I swear to God, this guy could charm the habit off a nun!" he crows.

As it turns out, his good, old buddy Nick is a partner at the firm. Jeff walks away with a job.

---

They stay in Boston for the holidays that year. He puts up a tree that Annie decorates with tiny silver menorahs, and she hangs stockings on the wall, insisting that they open them on Hanukkah. He is stunned at the new Clarisonic skin cleansing system that she stuffed into his.

He drags her underwear down her legs, trailing kisses up in thanks; when she comes against his tongue, the tiny blue lights that twinkle on the tree make shadowy patterns on her flushed cheeks.

(It's weird, celebrating the holidays without the group. But things have changed a lot. Britta lives in Chicago with a reedy, mustached man she met at Whole Foods, and Abed is in L.A. for his career, and the group hasn't really been a group in a long, long time. Honestly, Jeff misses them.

But they haven't lost touch, and they'll find the time to visit each other.

In the end, the group doesn't have to be a group; they're a family, and family is for keeps.)

His job with a reputable, successful firm means that Jeff isn't forced to buy cheap, tacky presents for everybody, and he gives in to the temptation to splurge on gifts for Annie. He buys her the book she heard about on NPR, and the perfume from Macy's that she likes, and earrings, too, with a necklace to match. But those earrings don't go with the dress she bought for the party at his firm, which means he needs to buy her a pair that do, and he buys a bracelet to go with those.

"This is too much," she says, fingering the pink pearl that hangs on the necklace.

"I like to buy nice things," he says. "And I like you." She drags her gaze from the jewelry to look at him when he leans in. "And I'll like how you'll look in bed with nothing but that necklace on."

He grins, and she smiles slowly back at him in that way that undoes him. Her teeth drag across her shiny pink bottom lip, and she tilts her head at him, her smile widening, and he forces his eyes up from her mouth to meet his gaze. She tastes like strawberry lip gloss when he kisses her.

Fireworks are visible from their apartment on New Year's Eve that year.

They stay in, and she clinks her appletini against his scotch when the fireworks go off.

---

When they go to the grocery store, he parks next to a dented, green volvo. It's a mistake, because there is a dog in the volvo, and the windows aren't cracked, and Annie is gutted at the realization.

"Look at him! Jeff, his tongue lolling like that is bad! He is dehydrated!"

It's a poodle, the big kind, and it presses its nose to the window, tongue swiping at them.

"The owner probably ran into the store for a second, and he'll be right back," Jeff says, steering Annie away. But when they return half an hour later, the car hasn't left, and the poodle stares dolefully at them. Annie drops her bags in dismay; Jeff winces as the egg carton hits the ground.

"What do we do?" Annie asks, eyes wide with horror.

He opens the trunk to his car, starting to load the groceries. "There is nothing to do."

"I need to call 911," she says, nodding at her own words.

"No, you don't," he says. But her phone is in her hands, her fingers fumbling over the screen, and he grabs it away from her. "I'll call them," he says. "I'll call." Reluctantly, she nods, and her attention is drawn back to the poodle. She presses her hand to the window, and Jeff dials nobody.

He talks to his own voicemail, explaining the situation.

Unfortunately, he doesn't pay as much attention to Annie as he should, and he doesn't know how she manages to extract the hammer she keeps in her car "to break the window in an emergency!" but he sees what is about to happen right before it happens. She shatters the window in one blow.

In an instant, the door is unlocked, and the poodle is in her arms. Dammit.

"Oh, sweetheart!" she exclaims. "Jeff, quickly! He needs to hydrate!"

Jeff buys a water from the vending machine, and the poodle laps up every drop from his cupped hands as Annie looks on. It's the position they're in when a man with a straggly goatee stalks towards them. "The fuck?" he cries. "What the hell is your problem? What'd you do to my car?!"

Annie straightens, shoulders back. "I saved a life, that's what!"

"Are you ready to tell that to the police?" the man says, glaring at her.

"Okay, okay," Jeff says, stepping in. "Look, she was worried about your dog. It isn't a big deal; it's not a reason to involve the police. I'll pay for the window." He gives the man a calming smile.

Annie isn't as calm.

"It is a big deal!" she yells. "If I hadn't broken into your car, this poor little boy could've died, you horrible man! It is over seventy degrees today, which means inside your car it is an inferno!"

"It's my fucking dog, lady, and my fucking car!" He looks at Jeff. "Man, you better pay for it!"

"I don't think you deserve to be a pet owner!" Annie blusters, her cheeks flushed. "Which is why I'm taking him! I'm taking your dog. He's mine! I'm taking him!" She clutches the poodle closer.

"Whoa, whoa," Jeff says, "I think we've reached the crazy quota for the day, babe. Let's —"

But no one bothers to listen to him, naturally, and things escalate quickly after that; the man yanks his phone from his pocket, Annie starts to lecture him, he reaches for his poodle, and Annie punches him in the face. She punches him, and Jeff gapes as the man stumbles away from her, clutching his bloody nose. "Shit, you broke my nose!" he shouts. "Shit! Motherfucker! Shit!"

Annie glares at him, her chin trembling for a moment. "It's what you deserve!"

The man glares back, taking a menacing step towards her. "The fuck it is, bitch!"

Okay, no.

Jeff moves in, cutting off his path to Annie. "Hey, back off. This is finished. I'm sorry about your car. And about your nose. But you did lock your dog in your car for an hour, and that's a pretty douche move. Understandably, my girlfriend was pretty upset, and your face attacked her fist —"

"Dude, your girlfriend is a crazy bitch!" the guy shouts. "And —"

Jeff punches him. The guy howls in pain. "Want to repeat that, bitch?" Jeff spits.

The scene devolves into chaos. They have an audience, and somebody must've called the police, because there are sirens in the distance, and the douche steps on glass from his broken window that cuts into his flip-flop at the same time that the poodle pees on Annie. It's basically a disaster.

In the end, Jeff pays for the window, and the guy doesn't press charges.

When they manage to escape the parking lot at last, the car is quiet. The light turns red, and Jeff slows to a stop. He glances at Annie to find her gaze on him, and she smiles slowly. "Do you realize you fought a man to defend my honor?" she asks, this pleased, preening look on her face.

He raises his eyebrows at her. "Did I?"

"As soon as he said I was crazy, you punched him." She smirks at him.

"Well, you are crazy," Jeff says. "But I enjoy the crazy. Clearly, the pimply, white trash punk with poor personal hygiene doesn't treasure that personality quirk like I happen to. Guy was a dick."

She hums in agreement, but she isn't able to taper her smile.

The light is green, and somebody honks at him; he focuses back on the road. But he reaches for her hand, brings her fingers to his mouth, and she giggles when he kisses her knuckles. She intertwines their fingers, and their hands settle on her leg. He knows how to drive with one hand.

(He gives her a puppy for her birthday two years later; mostly, it's a pre-emptive strike, because he knows she bookmarked the SPCA on her computer, and he isn't about to shack up with a three-legged dog that pees on the carpet because Annie is a softie. He has a client who breeds Border Collies, and he picks the fluffiest in the bunch, one with floppy ears and big brown eyes.

"Look at her sweet, floppy ears!" Annie says, cooing, and Jeff gives himself a pat on the back.)

---

She drags Jeff around Boston that summer. He is taken to a Red Socks game, on a ghost tour, to the Franklin Park Zoo. She claims her favorite thing is the giraffes at the zoo. Personally, Jeff likes when a guy in black leather pants decides to sing I Believe in a Thing Called Love to Annie.

They're on the subway, and the car is packed when the guy rises from his seat. His voice starts at a low, soft hush, rises at the chorus, and is a wail when he drops to his knees, singing to Annie, who backs into Jeff, and the whole thing is pretty much the greatest thing to happen in the world.

"It was harassment!" Annie exclaims.

"There was a song in his heart, babe," Jeff says. "He believes in a thing called love."

He teases her for a few days. But her classes start the next week, he takes on a case at work that bumps his hours up to sixty hours a week, and they're like ships in the night. She is stressed about how difficult her classes are this semester, too, and he walks in with Chinese food on a Thursday a week into September to discover that she is about to have a meltdown in the kitchen.

He decides to sing to her.

She isn't impressed, but "Just listen to the rhythm of my heart!" he sings, dodging the pencil she throws at him while he circles the table. The moment she stands up to chase him, he grabs her around the waist, hoisting her into the air, and sings as obnoxiously as he can. She tries to escape, to push his face away, and he sings into her ear, "touching you, god, you're touching me!"

She laughs at last when he attempts to sing the guitar solo, and he releases his hold on her.

When her feet hit the ground, she turns, and he tries to sing into her mouth, but she bites his lip, and her hands tug at his shirt. He kisses her, and she pushes him back onto the bed. "Shut up."

He grins, and he pulls shirt over his head while she works on his belt.

But when she sinks onto him, he isn't able to resist.

"Annie, babe," he whispers, one hand on her hip, the other at her breast, rolling a nipple between his fingers. He rises to meet her, and she gasps at the change, but her arms circle his neck. "Hey."

"What?" she asks.

"Can't explain," he says, and her brow wrinkles, "all the feelings that you're making me feel."

"Sweetie, no," she says, realizing.

"My heart's in overdrive, Annie, and you're behind the steering wheel." She slaps a hand over his mouth, but he shifts away to break into song, falling back onto the bed. "Touching you, touching me, touching you, god, you're touching meeeeee!" He laughs when she smacks his chest, but he doesn't stop. She starts to laugh, too, pausing above him when his voice rises impossibly in pitch.

"Shut up!" she says, trying not to laugh. He quiets, and she resumes her slow, steady pace on him. She leans in, her hands on his chest to steady herself. But she eyes him. Her cheek trembles.

He grins slowly at her, and "I wanna kiss you every minute, every hour, every day!" he sings.

She loses it.

She gasps for breath through her laugher, unable to carry on atop him, and she pitches forward, shaking with laughter against his chest, and he sighs dramatically. "Don't! It's your fault!" she pants, laughing, and he rolls them over, runs his hands up the backs of her thighs, and hoists her legs up before he pushes back into her. Her hands slide against his cheeks, and she smiles at him.

"I'm good, I'm good," she claims.

But her eyes meet his, and her lips twitch, and she dissolves into laughter under him at the same moment he trills, "I believe in a thing called love, ooh!" His rhythm falters, but he picks up the pace, thrusting wildly into her, and her laughter gives way to a gasp when she arches off the bed.

She comes apart on him, collapsing in tearful, breathless giggles, and she tries to sing, "touching you, touching me!" with him. His voice cracks on a long, high note, and she surges up to kiss him, grinning into his mouth. Her fingers press into his shoulder blades, and she clenches her walls purposefully around him. "Come on, baby," she whispers, and he jerks his release into her.

---

It isn't seven in the morning yet, and it's Monday, and he knows the moment he sees her.

He wants to marry her.

Three years together, and marriage was never really a thought. But.

She doesn't notice him as she sings along to the lame nineties song on the radio, and he watches her moonwalk her way from the counter to the fridge. She wiggles her butt stupidly, twirls around with the milk in hand, singing, "all the things I used to know," and he wants to marry her.

---

They're in Colorado for a week at Christmas that year, and he meets Shirley for lunch.

"I need your help," he says. "It's about Annie."

Shirley smiles. "Ooh, did she get that job she wanted?" She brightens at the thought. "Do you want to surprise her with a celebration? Oh, Jeffrey! How nice! I'm happy to bake a cake for her."

"Actually, it's —" His stomach tightens suddenly, nervously, and he doesn't know why. But he hasn't said the words yet, and Shirley stares, waiting, confused. "She hasn't heard about the promotion," he hedges. "Actually, um." He sighs. And says it. "I want to ask Annie to marry me."

"Jeffrey!" Shirley cries, delighted.

He chuckles. "Yeah." This stupid, inadvertent smile tugs insistently on his mouth. He is going to ask Annie to marry him. This is real. "And I need to buy a ring, but I don't know where to start."

The waiter arrives with their salad, and Shirley beams at Jeff as she assures him that she is happy to help, because she knows men are useless at jewelry, and she knows Annie likes yellow gold, and, "I always knew you two would end up together," she gushes. She leans in, lowering her voice as she adds, "I prayed for it." She hums happily to herself, drowning her salad in dressing.

Jeff shrugs. "Well, looks like prayer works."

"After living in sin for four years, it's about time," Shirley says, but she doesn't wait for a reply. She is back on the ring, on diamonds, on opals, what about this cut, or that cut, the classiest kind.

---

He takes her to the bistro where the napkins are folded on the plates like swans.

"Do you know what we haven't talked about?" he asks.

She twirls the cake on her fork in the sauce that decorates her plate in large, loopy swirls, and she smiles at him with chocolate on her lip. "What?" The tacky, beaded pin that Britta gave her glitters in her hair, and he realizes that he hasn't told her that he likes her purple, ruffly dress yet.

He clears his throat. "The future. Our future." He pauses. "Did you want to get married?"

She blinks. "I thought you didn't believe in marriage," she says.

"I didn't. Or at least I wasn't interested in it. If I hadn't met you, I doubt I'd ever have considered it. But I did meet you." He shrugs. "My problem was that I always thought that marriage wasn't real, that it didn't last. But I met you, and I love you in a way that I didn't used to think was real."

She eyes him. "Are you saying that you'd like to marry me?" she asks. Her lips twitch.

"I might be convinced to."

She laughs. "Romantic." She tilts her head. "I love you, Jeff. I want to be with you, and I'd like to marry you. Eventually, I mean." She bites her lip. "But I decided a long time ago that I didn't need to be married to you in order to spend my life with you. I'm happy with how things are. Honestly, you don't have to worry that I'm unhappy, or that I'm about to give you an ultimatum."

He reaches for her hand across the table. "I know. This isn't about that."

"Okay. What is this about?" she asks.

"It's about the fact that I might like to marry you," he says.

She smiles softly at him, and she nods. "I might like to marry you, too." Her cheeks are flushed.

"Good to know," he says, and she laughs, rising up. He meets her for a kiss over the table.

But when she sits back, her hand slips from his, and she picks up her fork. He swallows thickly, pushing back his chair, and buttons his jacket while he rises to his feet. She glances at him in surprise. He circles the table, reaching into his pocket, and she breathes in sharply, her eyes wide.

She claps a hand to her mouth when he gets down on one knee.

Suddenly, his heart is in everything at once. Lodged in his throat, pounding in his ear, swooping in his stomach. He releases a shaky breath. "I love you. This is what I want, and I think you admitted about five seconds ago that this is what you want, too." He fumbles with the small box.

Her hands graze his, and she opens the box for him.

He looks at her. "Will you marry me?"

"Yes." The word is a whisper, but she nods. "Yes," she says, breathless. "Yes, Jeff, yes, yes!"

The people around them have started to cheer, but his whole world in that moment is Annie. She laughs at the way his hands shake, and he laughs with her. This is real. Her hands touch his shoulders, touch his face. He kisses her palm, taking her hand in his to put the ring on her finger.

They stare at her hand for a moment before she tugs on his jacket to pull him up.

The ring presses against his cheek when she cups his face, and he laughs into her mouth.

---

She asks when they're snowed in at the apartment. "Do you want to have kids?"

"What?" His gaze snaps to her.

The television is on, and she started the puzzle on the table yesterday, but she turns to face him on the sofa, curling her legs. "I realized that I don't actually know where you land on that. It's something else that we've never talked about. I mean, all I know is that your mom wants you to."

He chuckles. "Right. Um. Honestly, I never figured I would."

"But you never figured that you'd want to get married," she says, searching.

"I don't — I don't think I'd really be a good dad," he says. "Kids were never really my thing."

She stares at him. "Oh. Okay." She sits back. "I guess I'd be a pretty crappy mom. I was never great with kids. I mean, Ben proved that I'm not a baby whisper like Britta." She stares at the TV.

"But you want a kid," he says. He knows she does.

"Well, I always figured I'd have kids," she says. "Do you really not want a kid?" She looks at him like she doesn't know how not to, and her eyes are wide. "Not ten, or something. Just two. One."

"I'd be an old dad," he says.

"Not that old," she argues. He sighs, and she winces. "I'm sorry. I don't want to make you say that you'll have kids when you don't want to. And we don't have to have kids. It isn't a deal breaker for me. I think I'd like them, but I'd rather have you. If I had to choose, I'd choose you."

He smiles a little. "Good to know."

"Okay. No kids." She looks back at the TV. "I should check on my roast."

She disappears into the kitchen before he is able to stop her. He doesn't think he'd be a great dad, and he'd definitely be an old one. But she'd be a good mom. And he doesn't like kids, but he'd like their kid.

He follows her into the kitchen, coming to stand behind her. She straightens against him.

"One," he says. She glances at him, and he holds up a single finger. "One kid."

Slowly, she smiles. "Okay." He grins, and she squeals suddenly, loudly, making him laugh whens she turns in his arms. "One kid," she says. "In a few years, or whenever you're ready. Just one." She kisses him, and he squeezes her hip. "I love you," she breathes, hugging him. "So, so much."

(Their son isn't a year old when Annie starts to talk about how she wishes that she'd had a sibling as a kid. How she was lonely after her father died, how there was nobody to talk to when her mother worked constantly, how Annie was without friends, and a sibling would've been somebody to be friends with, to talk to, to count on. Doesn't he think he would've liked a sibling?

"I don't suppose you'd like another kid," he says. They have another kid.)

---

"Do you know I was married for twelve years?" Pierce asks. "I mean, to one wife."

"Actually, I didn't," Jeff says, surprised.

Pierce nods. "My second wife, Muriel. Twelve years. My first wife, well, that lasted about two months." He chuckles. "But when I met Muriel, my whole life changed. She was the most beautiful woman I'd ever met. Actually, she was a lot like Annie. Smart. Sweet. Always believed the best in people. She was the first person to make me feel like I really mattered. Next to Mom."

He pauses when the barber asks him to face to the left.

"What happened?" Jeff asks.

"Aneurysm. One day in the shower. Couldn't be helped." He shrugs. "She died."

Jeff doesn't know what to say. "I'm sorry," he tries. "I had no idea."

Pierce waves a hand dismissively at him. "It isn't something I like to talk about. Here's the thing, though. I loved that woman more than life itself. But I was young. Stupid. I didn't give her everything she wanted, and I wish I had. God, I wish I had. I wish I'd given her the world." He sighs, turning in his chair to look at Jeff. "Annie is a good one. Like Muriel. Give her the world."

"I will." He clears his throat. "I will, Pierce."

Sitting back, Pierce nods. "Good. Also, remember. All you have to do is picture a dainty, girlish man. Like Gene Kelly. Or Ay-bed! That'll get it up for you, and Annie'll never know." He winks.

---

The wedding is in September, and they plan for a small, quiet weekend at a resort.

Naturally, things kick off with a monkey lost in the hotel.

But Troy finds Annie's Boobs, Jr., and the ceremony on Sunday is oddly without incident. The place looks like a fairytale after Britta is finished, and they ask Chang to be the usher, which means that guests are seated in an orderly, efficient manner. Annie is terrified that she'll trip when she walks down the aisle, but Troy is on her right, Abed on her left, their arms hooked with hers.

She laughs at something that Troy whispers, and she is the most beautiful thing in the world.

He takes her hand. "Milady."

"Milord." Her eyes shine with tears, this bright, breathless smile on her face, and he grins back at her before they turn to face the Dean. It was Abed's idea to have Craig officiate the ceremony in order to mirror his role at Greendale, and it isn't the worst idea in the world; he pauses a few times to wipe away his tears, once to blow his nose, but he gives a speech that makes Shirley cry.

They say their vows, and they are married.

Troy sings Wind Beneath My Wings to Annie at the reception. Jeff dances with his mother after Annie dances with Pierce, and he dances with Shirley, too, with the Dean, and with Britta, who teases him about how lucky he is that she is hot, "or you wouldn't have met your wife," she says.

He smirks. "Don't worry, Britta. I appreciate how hot you are."

Annie kicks off her shoes at some point, and she leans heavily against Jeff while they dance the last few songs. He toys lazily with the curls that have escaped from the pins to curl at her neck. "You can't take this back," she says, and she glances at him with a smug, sleepy look on her face.

"I thought that's what divorce was," he says.

"Nope." She kisses the cotton that covers his chest. "Never." He chuckles, squeezing her hip. She rises up to meet him for a kiss, only to laugh against his lips when Chang starts to play his keytar.

fin.

---

Today's the day I'll make you mine,
So get me to the church on time.
Take my hand in this empty room,
You're my girl, and I'm your groom.



part 1.
 
 
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
oneofthemuses: pic#114927969oneofthemuses on January 2nd, 2014 03:02 am (UTC)
It is worthy of saying again that I love this and will cling to this fic no matter what happens in [looks-to-be-a-return-to-form] season five!
monroeslittle: Little Victormonroeslittle on January 2nd, 2014 07:48 pm (UTC)
Thanks! And thanks for recommending that I post it on Milady/Milord! :)
oneofthemuses: pic#114927969oneofthemuses on January 3rd, 2014 03:42 am (UTC)
So welcome! I admit, though, it was a bit selfish since I'm a mod there - every time I see great fics, I encourage them to post at the comm. We love new members and we love new fic!
Robertdoc1984: pic#115530891iknowitsbutters on January 2nd, 2014 03:38 am (UTC)
I favored this the second I finished on ff net - it's just the pre-Community present we all need. And one I imagine I'll keep unwrapping throughout S5 when things are down - and even if/when they aren't.
monroeslittle: Little Victormonroeslittle on January 2nd, 2014 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it. Based on spoilers, we're definitely going to need fanfic to keep us going throughout season 5!
Rashka the Demon (wolf in the cave): Katara/Zuko bright imperious linerashaka on January 3rd, 2014 12:50 am (UTC)
headcanon unlocked

basically me right now:

allison laughing_color
monroeslittle: Little Victormonroeslittle on January 3rd, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC)
Haha, thank you so, so much! I'm glad you liked it! :D
desiringpirates: sweet Anniedesiringpirates on January 3rd, 2014 03:49 pm (UTC)
Beautiful! I loved it all!
monroeslittle: Little Victormonroeslittle on January 3rd, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much! :)
nyclove3: Jeff smilenyclove3 on January 3rd, 2014 06:38 pm (UTC)
Bringing over the comment love! I already commented over at ff.net but this is deserving of two, I loved it that much. There's so many little things I could pick out but what I loved most was how effortlessly you wrote 5 years of their relationship. I didn't need all the little details in between those years, it just fell into place perfectly. I was smiling throughout the whole thing. Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to whatever J/A you have planned in future. Hopefully. Right? RIGHT?! ;D
monroeslittle: Little Victormonroeslittle on January 4th, 2014 05:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you thought it all fit even though I did try to cover a lot of ground! Haha, I actually have a ton of ideas for more J/A fic--they're so addictive! :D
fangirl_101: J/A B&W finalefangirl_101 on January 4th, 2014 02:38 am (UTC)
This is everything. Sweet, romantic, sexy, funny, happy, touching, tender, moving. Just everything! I hope you write more J/A!
monroeslittle: Little Victormonroeslittle on January 4th, 2014 05:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I definitely plan to! :)
Christmas Pterodactyl: Garrus Vakarian esq.xmaspterodactyl on January 5th, 2014 10:59 am (UTC)
Totally dug this. Very nicely done.
monroeslittle: Little Victormonroeslittle on January 6th, 2014 04:06 am (UTC)
Thanks! :)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )