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Something In Between That (Jeff/Britta, Community, T)
community, britta perry
Title: Something In Between That
Characters/Ships: Jeff Winger/Britta Perry,
Rating: T
Word Count: ~2500
Summary: “What we did wasn’t dating.” Next to their shared daddy issues, relationship definitions and post-coital conversation are the hardest things for them.
Notes: First fic I've written in two years. I'm super inexperienced, but if you think I've screwed up majorly with the characters/plot/etc, please tell me. I really love constructive criticism and there's no way to go but up.

"Are we dating? Are we fucking? Are we best friends? Or something in between that?"
 - Childish Gambino "Heartbeat"
November 2010
“Seriously, what kind of a name is Gwynnifer?” Britta walks over to the hand-carved Italian coffee table. She holds a mug of tea close to her chest, which is covered by Jeff’s lopsidedly buttoned shirt. “What am I? A stripper in a fantasy novel? How very progressive of you.”
“Well, you were also supposed to be a catch,” Jeff jokes. He’s splayed on the couch in all his shirtless glory, hand rubbing the crick of his neck that was left from six hours of slumber on his Chang-sized sofa.
The blonde rolls her eyes and sits, crossed-legged, against the monochromatic walls of his apartment. “Says the man-child whose idea of a date is seven minutes in the backseat of your Lexus and no energy to actually open the sacred doors to the Winger Bedroom of Eternal Bachelorhood.”
“Yesterday, we called a pen a ‘principle.’ I think that screwed around enough with my terminology,” Jeff shrugs. “A date requires actually trying to fake being a nice person and paying for the check” – she scoffs at this – “and really, aren’t my charms enough to get me any girl that I wanted in under ten minutes?”
Britta snorts. “Well, I’m here, so obviously not.”
“Yeah, but you’re….”
It takes a second before Britta narrows her eyebrows and tilts her head in confusion. “What?”
Jeff snaps out of his reverie and lets out a low whistle. “You’re different,” he finally says. When she eyes him, wanting clarification, he sighs and continues, “What I mean is that you’re just my good-looking, completely platonic acquaintance whose talents in bed I appreciate and would preferably like to see more of.”
“Same,” Britta affirms. It’s a statement that sounds almost ridiculous aloud, but both of them believe it. At the moment, at least. Britta sets her finished teacup on the coffee table with ease.
“Hey, d’you mind making a cup for me?” Jeff asks, getting up and scooting to one side of his tiny couch. “None of your weird herbal stuff, but a small, black coffee?”
“Fine,” Britta sighs, picking herself up and heading in the direction of the kitchen. “But you’re making your crappy organic muesli for breakfast. Don’t think I’m just another domestic housewife here.”
Jeff smiles to himself, casting a fleeting glance towards the ground. He had never thought about it (Nope! Not at all, a voice in his head insists), but if he were to actually put some effort into taking her out on a date. Well, the woman was a hurricane, how bad could it be?
“And button my shirt properly. You’re stretching it!” He calls after her.
“I know!” She replies good-naturedly, with a defiant toss of her hair.
On the other hand, their relationship was fine right where it was.

December 2010
“I’m worried about Abed,” Britta muses from the sofa. The fashion seasons of Jeff Winger have changed and instead of a collared shirt, all Britta wears now is a pricey sweater from Ralph Lauren.
Jeff walks up behind the couch and hands her the usual mug of green tea. “Didn’t we just deal with that yesterday? Unless I had a drug trip and we weren’t actually singing stupid songs about the meaning of Christmas to break our friend’s catatonia.” He shakes his head at the thought. “Man, I’ve never said that out loud before.”
“I know,” Britta bites her lip and takes a hearty sip of her tea. “But the reason all of that happened was because of his mom. And I just think he needs a strong, powerful female figure in his life right now.”
“Please tell me you’re not suggesting what you tried to do last year. I’m pretty sure he manipulated you into playing the role of his mother,” Jeff warns his ever-impulsive bedmate, “He did that to me too. And I was a lawyer, I lied for a living!”
She leans her head on the back of the sofa, humming quietly. “But aren’t we supposed to be his Greendale parents? Shouldn’t we at least offer him guidance and therapy?”
“Britta,” Jeff sighs, “You’re not a therapist. And Abed’s an adult, if he wanted help from you, he’d ask you.”
She tries to reason with him using her ever-expressive eyebrows, but he simply replies with the same rational look that he always gives her. “Fine,” she relents and throws her hands up in surrender.
Jeff nods in response, not particularly caring that this was a good ‘I told you so moment’.  It wasn’t appropriate anyways, seeing as Britta wasn’t just making snarky small talk. Not to mention, the littlest part of his heart was afraid of what she would do to his sweater. There’s a part of him that feels guilt and a greater part that feels the need to straighten out his conscience.
“But,” he reassures her, “You’re doing a good job being Mama Greendale. Completely unnecessary, but good nonetheless.”
“That’s like a compliment and an insult at the same time.”
“What can I say? I’m a man of many talents.”
“Except for the fact that you’re a pretty apathetic so-called ‘Daddy Greendale,’” Britta reminds him, smiling. “Forget society, it’s pretty clear that in this case, the mom in the scenario works infinitely harder than the dad.”
Jeff rolls his eyes and answers hoarsely, “I can’t imagine how anyone with you as a wife would react differently.”
There’s a slight moment of friction between the two of them, and boy, is it awkward. Britta excuses herself from the table, with an improvised, “I’m just going to go and change. Like I always do … after casual discourse, I mean, intercourse between friends. Yeah. That.”
Clad only in Jeff’s top, Britta walks over towards the open bathroom door, bending to open a small drawer. She takes out a pair of cheap, ripped jeans and hopped into them, haphazardly pulling them up by the belt loops. Part of Jeff wants to watch as she, in all her accidental beauty, fumbles over the zipper and tries to stomach in the pain of the tight denim.
But the other part of his mind wills that away, because it just makes things more awkward. You don’t watch friends change. You don’t notice the way your friend’s blonde waves bounce and curl with every fragile movement. And you certainly don’t think about how that’s actually somewhat cute.
Yeah, we’re just friends, occasional fuck buddies, Jeff tells himself mentally over again to the point where the urge to check her buzzing phone (New Message From Marcus, it screams in blinding LED) slowly just disappears.

March 2011
“So, I just met up with Marcus,” Britta randomly blurts as rolls off the bunk, landing on the floor with a ceremonious thud. “In case you don’t remember anything in that big, egotistical forehead of yours, Marcus is my nephew.”
“Yes, Britta. I do remember every single detail of your personal life.” Jeff rolls his eyes, but he’s still smiling. He gets up, slides down the side of the bunk, and reaches for his jeans, still wet from the morning’s escapades, lying on the ground.
“He’s a good kid,” she marches on with her words, “Really shy though. He kept staring at the ground and didn’t talk much. But when he did talk, he asked me how my boyfriend Jeff was doing.”
“This was the same Marcus that saw the drug awareness skit? Maybe he just remembered my excellent performance as a dead cat,” Jeff throws in a quick, albeit sloppy save.
“Okay, so I did meet him that day and our conversation may have veered into the topic of your love life,” Jeff replies vaguely, while the blonde bites her lip, testing him. He heaves a sigh. “And I may have said that I was more or less your boyfriend.”
Britta’s face dawns with realization and for a second, Jeff is afraid of her response. To his surprise, she simply shrugs and says, “Well, I don’t mind.”
If he had a drink in his hand, he’d probably have spat it out at that very moment.
“I mean, a bit of dilly-dallying with a guy that committed genocide a couple days ago was enough to remind me that one, men suck,” Britta remarks, completely ignoring Jeff’s expression of horror, “and two, I’m thirty goddamn years old and not everything’s going to be about washboard abs and tailored jeans.”
“Um, hello?” Jeff replies mock-offended. Whether it was directed towards the first or the second point, even he didn’t know.
She sighs, “You know what I mean.”
“But,” Britta continues, “We can try the normalcy thing. I mean, we’d have to keep it a secret from the group, of course.”
It’s a clumsy offer because the lines that delineated their relationship are more confusing than their own tangled histories and Jeff isn’t sure if she’s just stating a fact or excusing his impulsive silver tongue or asking him out. He just looks down into her uncertain grey eyes and for a brief moment, he smiles.
It’s not the fake Winger grin that won court cases and bimbos. It’s not the small closed smile of satisfaction that came after passing an exam. It’s embarrassed, it’s reckless, and it has no idea what to do, but somehow it makes him feel like he can do anything.
The door opens.
“Abed!” Jeff exclaims, while Britta immediately grabs a blanket off the top bunk, quickly draping it over them. There are times of improvisation where Jeff knows how he earned his handcrafted faucets, and then there are times that show quite clearly that he didn’t get his pre-law degree. This is one of them. “A leprechaun took our clothes?”
Abed stands in the doorway. He gives both Jeff and Britta careful, methodical nods, processing this information. He frowns, looked at the ground, then turned around and walked away.
“So,” Jeff begins, eyes still wide with shock.
“Maybe we should make his bed.”
Britta lets out a breath. “Yeah,” she says, somewhat relieved, “It’s the least we can do.”
The traces of an unfinished conversation still hang in the air, but it’s too late to go back. At least, that’s what Jeff believes and he tells himself that he probably wasn’t ready for it all anyways. He never had an excellent track record for rushing into things.
Right now, at least he had the best partner-in-crime he could ask for. The added bonus was that she was insanely hot. But dating? Boyfriend/girlfriend drama? Please.

December 2012
It’s been a year and a half since Britta’s slept over at his place and when he moves into his new condo, Jeff throws away the old couch. Bad enough that Chang already slept there, the next thing Jeff needed was old memories while Britta was being all lovey-dovey with Troy.
It wasn’t that he was jealous. Jeff couldn’t find a single thing to be jealous of. Troy was a great guy. The only part, that didn’t bother Jeff at all, was that he somehow managed to end up with a girlfriend that was probably the most amazingly interesting person in the whole school. A girl that he had accidentally let go and now she was with the new Vaughn, and things were complicated.
It was better, he realized after a semester of unbearable PDA, to just pretend nothing had ever happened between him and Britta. His friendships with her and Troy wouldn’t be affected, but most of all, he just wouldn’t feel as bad.
At least, Jeff still had Shirley to confide in. She was perhaps the only one more vocal about the pitfalls of Troy and Britta’s relationship than he was. And Lord knew, she loved a good gossip.
His Christmas party flies by faster than it started and at the end he feels contented, not only with a C+, but because he’s finally done. Now all he had to do is dress up in a swanky suit (that was easy enough), walk across a stage, get his diploma, and then he didn’t have to worry about finals or papers or having to pay student parking ever again.
Britta stays long after even Annie finishes cleaning up, which ever-understanding Troy doesn’t mind. Her excuse is personally washing every single glass of wine that she drank, but Jeff’s told much better lies than that.
They’re standing in his kitchen, and her back is bent over the sink. Her soap-laden thumb carefully rubs over the glass, and it seems like she’s rubbing the same spot over and over.
He leans against the refrigerator just waiting for her to talk.
“What did you mean earlier?” She finally says.
“Britta, I talk more in an hour than an average human does in a day. What are you referring to?” He replies, and then winces because beating around the bush is not something he wants to do. But it’s self-preservation through and through.
She stops the tap and turns to face him, arms crossed. “Earlier when Cornwallis was talking about me and Troy. ‘What we did wasn’t dating.’ What the hell was it then?”
“That’s easy. Two friends having sex. A lot.”
“Cut the crap, Winger,” Britta pulls her sour face on him. “I’m not just another one of your nameless girls in your contact list. And we know each other better than having to talk and explain every little detail. So, regardless of whether or not we actually had the cheesy, overdone Talk, at some point in time, we were in a relationship.”
Jeff feels tired and he doesn’t want to listen to her words. All he actually craves right now is more alcohol and the comfort of his luxuriant Swedish mattress. With all the energy he has left, he simply responds, “Is that all you stayed after to say?”
Britta falters. She looks down at the wine glass, wiping it slowly with a towel. “Jeff, if someone didn’t ask you about me. If they asked you about … let’s just say, Slater. What’s your response?”
“That was a mistake.”
“See, that’s exactly it,” she mutters, leaning against the kitchen counter. “Relationships aren’t mistakes. They’re like lessons that influence our subconscious and motivate every thing we do. And I’m not just talking as a therapist here. This is what our whole history class was about. You don’t just erase history, Jeff. And sometimes, you can’t recreate it for the future.”
Delicately setting the gleaming wine glass on the countertop, Britta quietly thanks him for the party, wishes a merry Christmas, and leaves.
Left in his solitude, Jeff has no need for words. Instead, he reaches for the glass that she left and pours himself a drink.


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