Hey guys! Thanks again for reading, here's the third chapter! : )

Annie and Eliza arrived at Thatcher's, a newer bar with delicious food, clean atmosphere, and a very laid-back vibe. Britta picked up some part-time shifts here and Jeff loved watching the Avalanche games there, so they were all fond of the place.

"This is nice." Eliza took her sunglasses off and looked around as the duo entered the bar. She followed Annie towards the back corner of the bar to a booth, where she assumed their group sat regularly.

"What do you want to drink? I'll go grab it!" Annie was so perked up. She wasn't even planning on having anymore to drink other than a beer with her food, but she was so excited to be out with the person she always looked at as "the cool older cousin", plus all of her friends. The social butterfly in her was living its best life.

"Vodka soda sounds great to me." And Annie was off to the bar.

While Eliza was waiting for her to return, she decided to check her phone.

Mum

Love you! So glad to hear u&Annie are bonding. Hope to see you when we get back, blessed be sweet one!

Kelli

Why are you such a bitch

Kelli

I tried to be civil and you have to ruin it

Kelli

Hope your new girl does that thing you like

She was going to have to block her number at this rate. Kelli has always been a little bit toxic, but when she decided to break up with Eliza her colors really showed. Apparently, she wanted to have her new relationship and keep in control of Eliza and her life. It wasn't working, so she was resorting to gaslighting, like always. She deleted the texting thread once again, ignoring the messages. It'll stop eventually, she thought.

Annie returned with the vodka soda for Eliza and a strawberry lemonade for herself.

"So Eliza, d-"

"How about you call me El, Annie? A lot of people at the university started calling me El and it stuck, plus I like it."

Annie smiled. "Of course! So, El, do you have any plans for tomorrow or how you're going to set up your classroom?"

El took a sip of her drink and shrugged. "I figure I'll come up with something once I'm there and can see it. Other than having my first day outfit picked out and a small box of things for my desk packed, no. I'll be speaking curriculum choices with the dean tomorrow, but nothing specific."

Annie was pretending to do something work related, shifting the conversation towards that; being in-charge of faculty meant she was responsible for making sure they did their jobs efficiently and her cousin nor Jeff were exceptions.

"Hey guys!" Abed slid into the booth, sitting next to Annie, and Britta slid in on the opposing side, leaving a large gap between her and El.

"Abed, Britta, this is my cousin and the new Greendale history professor, El. El, this is Abed and Britta." She motioned towards everyone individually as she spoke their names.

Before anyone could get a word in, Abed began.

"Jeff told me you like dead things and old things."

"Abed!" Annie shrieked. El laughed, remembering everything Annie had already told her about Abed.

"Yes, I do enjoy petrified and mummified things and I enjoy ancient artifacts, so yes, what Jeff said is true. My internship at the museum really got me interested in collectibles."

"So would you say you're fairly similar to Temperance of the show Bones despite your outward contradictions?"

"Sure!" Was the only suitable thing she could think to say.

"Cool, cool cool cool."

"So, I'm Britta." She extended her hand to shake El's moving attention away from Abed's TV-centered conversation.

El shook her hand. "Nice to meet you Britta. Would you like to go smoke weed with me later in my car?"

Britta was a little stunned but then just cracked up laughing. "Of course!"

Annie was glad to see they were all getting along so well, especially so quickly. They conversed with each other while waiting for Jeff, and potentially Frankie, to show up.

By the time Jeff and Frankie, oddly enough together, did show up, Britta and El were both on their third drink and doing a shot together, Abed had spent close to $15 on pinball, and Annie was trying to read through e-mails on her phone.

"Sorry guys," Frankie excused them for being late. "My girlfriend, well, ex-girlfriend, decided to bail on and break up with me last minute to be a hippie drifter and cross the United States. Jeff was nice enough to give me a ride here."

"I'll drink to girlfriends being bitches!" El said reactively as she and Britta downed the shot they had ordered. "Sorry," she wiped her mouth. "I'm El and I'm assuming you're Frankie. Thank you for hiring me, I'm sorry the first time we're meeting is in a bar."

And suddenly Annie was terrified of what Frankie would say about her choice for history professor. Was hiring her cousin a bad idea? Was she about to completely embarrass herself?

Frankie smiled and let out a small laugh. "It's nice to finally meet you, Annie has said a lot of nice things about you and Jeff told me how in love with your job and the field you are. And it seems you and I agree on girlfriends being bitches." El laughed to Frankie.

The group talked for a bit and everyone ordered more drinks, Frankie and Jeff included once they got situated. Annie and Abed both ordered entrée's and a beer to go with them, and El and Britta decided to order an appetizer that they agreed Frankie could have a few things from if she was hungry. Everyone was, surprisingly, having a good time. Oddly enough, Jeff hadn't said much to El since their initial hello when he arrived.

Five drinks and two shots in, El decided it was time for her and Britta to go smoke together in her car.

"Where are you guys going?" Jeff asked them as he got up so they could get out of the booth.

"We're gonna go smoke weed in El's car!" Britta laughed. She was like a sweet little giggly mess drunk.

Jeff looked at her like he always did when she said something he considered dumb.

"You do know the roof is a smoking area, cigars, cigarettes, or the ladder."

"Oh yeah!" Britta grabbed El's hand and ran up the staircase that was to the right of the bar. Jeff rolled his eyes watching them,

He grabbed his beer and stood up, "I'm gonna go make sure neither of them fall off of the roof." And he was following behind them.

There was the hurt again, the ping in her chest. The only person's attention she wanted, gone to give it to her own cousin and the girl she compared herself to one too many times. Breaking her concentration, she looked up at Frankie who was starting to look a little dull.

"Not feeling it tonight?" Annie asked her. Frankie hadn't even finished her first beer, it was nearly warm now and mostly foam. She shook her head.

"Just a little hurt over everything. I really wanted to come out and meet El but I'm just ready to go home."

Abed shoved the last French fry from his plate into his mouth and washed it down with the last sip of his one beer.

"I can give you a ride home, Frankie. Annie is sober and Jeff's only had two drinks. Britta can make it home." Annie nodded to him to let him know she thought that was a good idea. Frankie was so appreciative and took him up on the offer. He paid his bill and they left without saying goodbye to the trio upstairs. Annie sat at the table, alone, returning back to her e-mails.

"WOW." Britta was laying on a bench, staring up at the night sky. El was sitting on the ground, her back against the bench for support. The two were passing a joint back and forth. "It's like, you can't always notice how beautiful the stars are."

El hit the jointed and looked up to the sky for a brief second. Exhaling she laughed.

"I know what you mean. What I was laying in the desert for the first time, camped out for a dig, everything seemed so… big, and open, and magical. It's overwhelming almost. Then being back here, it's like grounding me back down." She passed the joint to Britta, who was sitting up.

"That's so cool."

"Are you two just going to sit up here and have stupid hippie talk all night?" Jeff interjected, joking with them.

"Probably." Britta fired back.

"We could change the conversation over to the development of ancient infrastructure within civilizations but I'm fairly certain you'd just argue the liability of it all so we'll stick to this." El loved people she could fire jokes at, and since she knew Jeff was a lawyer, she knew he had a good sense of humor.

"Har har har." He fake laughed. "I'm pretty sure whatever we talked about you'd try to put it, mummified, in a jar and convince everyone they were all just roommates."

El busted out laughing and shrugged her shoulders, attempting to take the last hit possible of the joint, the roommate thing really got her. "You're right though hahahhaah." She was laughing so hard at that point her jaw was starting to hurt. Luckily she calmed herself down and stood up, offering Britta a hand to help her up. She had been silent for the last few minutes and didn't look so well.

"You okay babe?" El asked, lifting Britta's chin to look at her. Britta shook her head and then lowered it back down.

"She's gonna hurl." Jeff said, knowing that exact face. "She's dizzy from smoking and she's gotta puke." Britta managed to point to Jeff, signaling that he was absolutely right. El and Jeff each grabbed onto one of her arms and helped her over to a garbage can, where she proceeded to vomit three times. Once she was done they helped her back down the steps where she then headed for the bathroom, assuring them she was fine and would be out in a minute.

El, who's shawl was now hanging part way off her arms, revealing her tattooed shoulders and chest, as well as more of her cleavage, made a stop at the bar to order another drink and shot for herself. Once they were in her hands she headed over to the booth, where Jeff was sitting and talking to a smiling Annie.

"Hey!" She greeted El, scooting over a little so she could sit down. "So Abed left and gave Frankie a ride home. Jeff was just letting me know that Britta was sick and I suggested I could use your car and she and I could go home as long as you didn't have an issue with that. Jeff said he was fine with giving you a ride home." El took her shot and washed it down with a sip of her drink, trying to process what Annie was saying. Once everything clicked she furiously nodded her head.

"Yeah that's fine as long as you can be at my place early to get me." She took another drink and stood up, feeling around for her car keys. "Just let me grab my bag out of the car." And she headed for the door. She wasn't stumbling or anything crazy, but Jeff decided to follow her out just to make sure she didn't get hit by a car or anything, her reaction time wasn't the best right now.

"I can hear you following me, Jeffffffffff!" She pranced to her car, Jeff taking long strides to close the small gap between them.

"Sorry, wanted to make sure you didn't get hit by a car or kidnapped."

El rolled her eyes as she opened the passenger side door of her car, grabbing her purse and the bag from the dispensary.

"I am a 33-year-old woman, I'm not a rookie. I promise I'm fine." She grabbed her things and shut the door, proceeding to lean up against the car. Her lips were feeling way too dry and she was positive she had a tube of Mango Smoothie flavored Chapstick in her purse. After finding it she applied a thin layer to her lips and threw it back into her purse, where it would be forgotten about for another two days.

Jeff was starting to feel warm; he didn't have a buzz yet but if he had one more drink it was certain he would. His inability to look away from El's lips as she applied her Chapstick was his giving him away to himself. And being the experienced woman El was, it was a giveaway for her too, she didn't miss those kinds of things.

"So either you'd like to borrow my Chapstick or you think my lips just look delicious, which is it?" He was a bit taken back by the question at first, but the little bit he had hung around El, it didn't surprise him that much. She seemed to be the type of woman who did exactly whatever it was she wanted to.

"Well, my lips are dry so I was hoping I could borrow some, but I know you already threw it into your purse and if being around females has taught me anything, it's that once you throw something in there it's lost for a while." El exhaled air, to express humor, just not enough for a true laugh. She stepped forward two steps, now face-to-face with Jeff, within each other's intimate bubble.

"I'd be very willing to share what I have on my lips if you really need some." And he didn't even need to think about that, his lips were just that chapped. At least that's what he told himself so he hadn't felt so desperate, crashing his lips against hers before she took a breath after her sentence. He felt like a part of him had lost control, he was resorting to primal tendencies, he wasn't thinking, he was feeling with every part of his body; electricity was coursing through him like he had touched an electrified fence, he felt like his feet were off the ground, levitating. This girl – woman, was dangerous, and he was just starting to realize that.

El pulled away first, cleaning up the mess that her lips now were. She brushed a piece of her hair behind her ear and pulled her shawl back up, as it had started to drift off of her arm even more.

"We should get back in before Annie thinks we both got hit by a car." And Jeff just turned on his heel to follow her, ending their conversation and first kiss as quickly as it began.

When they returned, Annie was sitting at the booth, things ready, sipping the melted down ice water from her drink. A drunken Britta was curled up in the fetal position next to her, barely awake. Annie, though just sitting there, looked restless but tired at the same time. Like she needed all of the sleep in the world, but something was holding her back from getting it.

"I got everything I needed." El slid into the booth on the opposite side, scooting over far enough that Jeff could also slide in. Annie smiled and stood up, grabbing her bag and El's keys. She shook Britta's leg and she instinctively sat up, like this was a routine she had been used to. She grabbed onto Annie's hand like a toddler afraid to get lost.

"Well I will see all of you bright and early. El, I'll be over in the morning to get you. Does 7:30 sounds okay?"

El thought for a second. "7. I'll need coffee." And Annie and Britta left, Jeff and El alone at the back booth to possibly discuss their brief moment outside, or at least Jeff was hoping.

"So," Jeff started to speak, but the sound of an empty glass hitting the table stopped him; El had helped herself to the last drink Britta wasn't able to finish.

"So here's the deal," El took charge, immediately letting Jeff know she would be making the rules and decisions in this situation. "I just got out of a super shitty, toxic, draining relationship with my cunt ex-girlfriend. I'm not looking for anything – and I mean anything – other than the promise of some decent sex and friendship; nothing more."

Jeff had never felt the urge to argue with a woman who had set such relaxed codes for them sleeping together; especially not when they've been so fast and straight forward about it. However, something in his head was making him want to say, "but why not more?" He wasn't sure why, but it was an urge he was using his better-sense to fight.

He finished his drink and shrugged. "Okay. So, my place or yours?" El playfully raised her eyebrow at him.

"I want to say mine because I think it takes me longer to get ready in the mornings, but after looking at your hair and skin I'm really not so sure." Jeff rolled his eyes so hard he nearly gave himself a headache.

"Your place it is. It doesn't take me that long to get ready in the mornings, plus everyone is used to me showing up fashionably late; sorry you've been sucked into the Annie-matrix where on-time means 30 minutes early."

El didn't mean to laugh as hard as she did, but she couldn't hold it back. Not because what he said was funny, but because she was the one who pounded that idea into Annie's head. She knew long before Annie was grown that she would face problems, mostly due to her Mother and her Father's lack of interference when it was needed. Knowing all of that, she tired to give Annie the best advice she could to make it through. Though that didn't save her from an Adderall addiction or a mental breakdown, it did stick with her and allow her to achieve sobriety and make it to where she is now. Annie may never tell El that, but she was the big sister she not only always wanted, but the one she always needed to guide her.

"Well, I hate to inform you, but Annie gets a lot of her attitude from the OG, me, myself, and I." She chuckled. "But that's fine. I just need you up and gone by 6:00 when my alarm goes off." She put her purse over her shoulder, abruptly standing up from the booth. She stood and looked at Jeff, waiting for him to get up so they can leave.

He was trying to think of something clever to say, but nothing. "Yes ma'am." Was all he could manage.

The two exited after El left a $100 bill on the bar as a tip for the evening, thanking the bartender. She was just ready to get home.