dollsome: (angel ♦ almost forgot to brood!)
[personal profile] dollsome
Between rewatching season three and being very excited about the existence of season six, I got a little overwhelmed by my own Jeff/Annie emotions -- ergo my first Community fic in a long, long while!

Alternative Baking 101 (and Advanced Emotional Concealment) - Community ; Jeff/Annie ; 2,000 words ; Part 1 of 2. In which Annie grapples with making gluten-free cupcakes for the Greendale bake sale, and Jeff grapples with the Annie of it all.

1. Late Night

“What are you doing?” Annie demands at 1:42 in the morning. She and Jeff are standing in the kitchen of her apartment. They’re also the last men standing, so to speak. Abed and Britta passed out on the couch about an hour ago, and Frankie bowed out at 10, spouting some excuse about not feeling comfortable hanging out with Greendale students and faculty off campus in the late night hours, lest things get inappropriate.

(“What, do you think that once 10:30 hits, this just becomes a massive orgy?” Jeff scoffed.

Frankie stayed quiet. That kind of quiet that meant ‘That’s exactly what I think.’

“Well ... it won’t!” Jeff said indignantly. “This is a strictly platonic task force.”

“Except for how Jeff and Britta used to hook up,” Abed said. So helpfully. “And Jeff and Annie used to kiss on pretty random occasions.”

“Yeah,” Frankie said, “I’m going to go now.”

“Seriously, Frankie,” Britta said. “Don’t worry about it. Before you start panicking about getting inducted into the Jeff Winger Harem, let me lay down some truth facts for you about this guy’s prowess: it will in no way lastingly affect your relationship. Jeff and I are still totally platonic. Or. Well. Is there a word that’s like platonic, but it’s specifically used for sex so underwhelming that once you stop having it, you literally forget their junk exists and start seeing them as someone who’s flat and smooth as a Ken doll down there?”

“... No,” Frankie said.

“Oh. Well. Platonic works, then!” Britta spun around and jabbed a finger in Jeff’s direction. “And how dare you call us your harem? WE ARE NOT DEFINED BY YOUR PENIS.”

You said harem!” Jeff pointed out.

“Well, you implied it,” said Britta haughtily, “with your penis. Which I no longer acknowledge.”

Frankie took that as a cue to get the hell out. Jeff couldn’t really blame her. He glanced at Annie. She was in the kitchen, frowning at a recipe on her phone and – as far as he could tell – ignoring them.

Or was she ignoring them a little too carefully?

“For the record,” he said, turning around to face Abed, “I am not bad at sex. It’s called lack of chemistry, and just happens sometimes. Especially when one of the people doing it—” Jeff shot a significant look Britta’s way. “—is ridiculous and, oh yeah, crazy.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Abed asked. “Frankie’s gone, so if you’re interested in her—”

“I’m not interested in her.”

“—saying that now won’t do anything to fix your sexual credibility in her eyes. And you don’t need to convince me. I don’t think of you in that way, so it doesn’t matter to me if you’re bad in bed.”

“Not bad,” Britta says, “just. You know. Meh!”

“Unless,” Abed said, raising an epiphany finger, “you wanted someone else to overhear you clearing your name, like An—”


So now here they are almost four hours later, making some cupcakes.

Actually, let’s rephrase that: getting their asses kicked by cupcakes.

Gluten-free cupcakes, to be exact.

Annie, being Annie, refuses to give up. Her hair is pulled back in a messy bun and streaked with flour. The streaked-with-flour look must be really in right now for beautiful overachievers, because her face and clothes are covered in it too. The sight of her KISS THE COOK! apron has, at this point, become tinged with existential despair. Jeff will never think about kissing cooks again without jumping right to: But what does it really matter, because everything’s futile and we’re all going to die someday.

Jeff guesses he must not look much better. They’ve been fighting this battle for so long he almost can’t remember what it’s like on the outside. The only difference is that his apron says I EAT BLORGONS FOR BREAKFAST. (Thanks, Abed.)

“I said,” Annie reiterates, swooping over to where he’s commandeered her laptop, “what are you doing??”

“I’m buying a ticket,” Jeff says, glancing up from the screen, “for Shirley to fly here and bake us something.”

“Jeff, the bake sale starts in seven hours! Shirley isn’t going to make it in time. And also,” she adds belatedly, “she has a life and a family and a job and a grumpy detective and she can’t just put all that on hold to walk us through something that any self-respecting adult woman with two brain cells should be able to do.”

(The speech is pretty much word-for-word what Shirley threw at them hours ago before she logged off of Skype to go to bed. Ergo the pesky appeal to traditional gender roles.)

Or,” Annie adds, before Jeff can lawyer his way into that loophole, “adult man!”

“Well, you already rejected my buy-something-from-the-store-and-put-it-on-a-plate idea—”

“That would be cheating!”

“Annie. You can’t cheat at a BAKE SALE.”

“No. I can’t. I have too much integrity. Unlike Jeff Winger, who cheats at EVERYTHING!”

“I still don’t know what xanthan gum is,” Jeff snarls, snatching the bottle of mystery powder off the counter, “but I am going to throw it IN YOUR DUMB PRETTY FACE!”

“It’s a thickening agent!” Annie cries, her eyes flashing angrily as she comes closer to him in a full-on Edison rage. “God, you’re so—”

“SHUT IT, HOOLIGANS!” Britta shouts, then drops her head back onto Abed’s shoulder with a snore.

Jeff and Annie glare at each other in furious silence. Then Annie snatches the xanthan gum out of Jeff’s hand, her fingers brushing his. Like fingers do, when one person takes something from another person.

Jeff is starting to enter that stage of tired when he’s extra aware of everything around him.

It is a really inconvenient time to be around Annie.

“What I want to know,” he says, sighing, “is why you had to offer to bring the gluten-free cupcakes.”

“If Greendale is going to be taken seriously as a legitimate school, then we have to be considerate of peoples’ dietary needs!”

“Are you kidding? Those people will eat anything. I once saw Leonard cover a bowl of old shoelaces in ketchup and call it spaghetti.”

“You’re just making these up at this point, aren’t you?” Annie says discerningly, folding her arms.

Damn it, Jeff thinks.

“The point is,” he moves on smoothly, “why bother going above and beyond when there’s no one there to appreciate it?”

“We have to be the change we want to see in the world,” she says earnestly.

“And far be it from me to argue with that bumper sticker,” Jeff says, “but why, exactly, do you want to see a world where cupcakes taste less like fluffy cakey goodness and more like drowning slowly in quicksand throat-first?”

“It’s possible to make a good gluten-free cupcake,” Annie says, her voice starting to go frantic. “It must be possible. Shirley’s done it!”

“Shirley is some kind of culinary sorceress. The rest of us need to face the fact that we’re meek, pathetic mortals who need gluten to prosper.”

They stare around the kitchen. At this point, almost every surface is covered in rejected cupcakes. Burnt cupcakes. Deformed cupcakes. Cupcakes that just plain taste like filthy garbage.

“Oh, fine,” Annie concedes, frowning. “Just get something at the store in the morning. Make sure you don’t leave any labels on. If we’re going to be big fat lying cheaters, we might as well do it right.”

She looks so defeated.

... Aw, crap.

“Get some sleep,” Jeff says, the words rising up unbidden from the stupid Annie-shaped tumor in his heart. “I’ll do it.”

“Do what?” Annie says wearily.

“I’ll figure it out. I’ll bake something edible.”

The glumness falls off of her face, replaced by a look that he likes way better. She looks around the kitchen of cupcakey failure. “Jeff ...”

“I mean it. You’ve worked hard enough on this. You work harder than anybody else to make the pit of crazy that is Greendale an actual place worth being. So ... just let me pick up the slack for a little while.”

“Really?” Annie says, all dazed and hopeful.

“Would I ever lie?” he teases.

She smiles brilliantly. Even with the flour streaks and the circles under her eyes, she’s just about as beautiful as it gets. Suddenly, her apron seems to be rocking some really good advice.

(Maybe not suddenly. Maybe it’s a thought that’s been bugging him for awhile now. You know what’s a waste of time? his brain keeps telling him lately, no matter how often he orders it to shut the hell up. Not kissing Annie.)

She comes in close and stands on tiptoe, pressing her lips to his cheek. He closes his eyes without meaning to.

“Thanks, Jeff,” she says softly.

“Um,” he says, “sure.”

She pulls away, her hands still resting on his shoulders, and for a second he wonders if she’s thinking what he’s—

But then she pats his shoulder, a more affectionate version of her usual swatting-the-crap-out-of-him routine.

“’Night,” she says, lips curving in a sleepy little smile.

“Yeah,” he says, “’Night,” and watches her walk away.


He spends about an hour devouring cooking blogs with sickeningly cutesy gluten-themed names. (Gluten-Free: Yippie! Barf.) By the end of his research period, there’s a part of him that wants nothing more than to start a rival blog and just call it Hey, Gluten: Screw You.

But he does figure it out eventually. The key is blending different types of flours, rather than trying to use just one. And what brings it all together is—damn it—xanthan gum. He isn’t proud that he knows that, but hey. At least Shirley will be.

(At least Annie will be.

Or. You know. Whatever.)

When he finally finishes up at four in the morning, he has four dozen vanilla cupcakes, frosted and covered in sprinkles. He tries one and doesn’t want to cry out for the sweet release of death’s embrace; in fact, it’s pretty damn good.

And here’s one thing he will never understand: why hard work doesn’t always feel like the worst thing ever anymore. Technically, he shouldn’t be proud that he lost a whole night’s sleep making dumb cupcakes for yet another dumb Greendale event. And yet.

He finishes eating the cupcake and throws the wrapper away. The fact that it takes him about five minutes to master the art of putting something in the garbage can under the sink makes him realize that he’s probably not in the best shape to drive home right now.

Which means sleeping here.

Briefly, he thinks about passing out on the other side of Annie’s bed, but his common sense shuts that idea down pretty quick. She’s been through enough tonight, courtesy of the fact that something called xanthan gum exists. The last thing she needs is to wake up and find some middle aged weirdo she used to have a crush on curled up next to her (no matter how dashingly handsome he is). Maybe once upon a time waking up in bed with him would have been Annie approved – and Jeff definitely isn’t going to wander down that mental path – but the fact is that that was a long time ago. Annie is older and wiser now. Probably too wise to waste her time on a guy who’s taken like seven years to ‘fess up to what he actually feels about her.

And even then, only in his own head, and only when he’s too sleep-deprived to muster up his usual levels of hardcore denial.

He sighs and goes over to the couch, shoving Abed over so he can claim a tiny sliver of sofa for himself.

“Unresolved sexual cupcakes,” Abed mumbles in his sleep.

“You’re telling me,” Jeff mutters grimly, and passes out.

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