Title: Already Gone?

Author: Hafthand

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I do not own Community

Summary: Annie says goodbye. She is already gone. Is it too late?

Author's Note: First ever Community fanfic. A milestone for me really. Been years since I have written a fanfic but Community Jeff/Annie is just too delicious to pass up! I hope you all enjoy. _

Annie stared down at the table below her palms. The urge to caress the wood was too strong and she snatched her hands away before turning her back on the painful object. The table was laden with memories. Memories of seven lives thrown together by chance. Memories of years of trials, tribulations, joy, deep sadness, grace, balance, humour...the list was endless. As she took the final steps out of the study room, she felt a small piece of her break inside and she knew that she would never be able to fix it. She placed that piece of her next to the piece she broke all those years ago when she took that first pill. The collection was small but always seemed to grow. How long before so much of her was broken that she would be permanently unsalvageable?

She passed the threshold and continued on until she reached the doors leading to the outside world. The urge to glance back one last time threatened to overwhelm her; but she had overcome addiction once, she could face leaving behind an addiction of another kind. She took a deep breath and pushed the door open. The sound of the rain and the taste of humidity hit her immediately and the suffocating feeling she experienced a second ago in the library rushed out of her with such force she stumbled for a few steps.

She watched the rain cover the deserted campus around her and felt her tears mingle with the rain covering her face. Goodbye was never supposed to be easy. It was never supposed to be this hard either. The sadness threatened to take over again and she audibly choked out a sob and tried to swallow the pain down. She forced her feet to take one step and then another.

Step.

Step.

Step.

Step.

134 steps later she had reached her car and saw him leaning against the hood. His clothes were soaked from the rain but for once he didn't seem to care about his appearance. She watched his spine straighten slightly when his gaze reached her. She stopped 2 steps away from him and she noticed the exact moment he noticed the wet on her face were tears and not raindrops.

'Oh, Annie,' he whispered hoarsely, his hand reaching up to lightly caress her cheek. She felt the warmth present in his fingertips and she tried to draw what strength from them she could. When she continued only to stare at him, he dropped his hand and slumped against her car even more.

After an eternity of silence, she felt her throat constrict in preparation for her words, words she couldn't keep in any longer. 'I survived a pill addiction. I survived rehab. I survived having nothing. I survived, Jeff. I survived,' the last part came out as a shrill whisper.

'You are strong, Annie. You are a survivor,' Jeff whispered, his eyes cast onto the asphalt between them.

'Then why does it feel like I won't survive this?' Annie choked out the question that had been weighing her down for what seemed like forever. Her face crumbled as the blackness reared up and tried to swallow her whole.

Jeff suddenly pushed away from the car and reached out to her enveloping Annie in his long, hard frame. His heat enveloped her and made her wish she could take a drug like him everyday just to feel alive. His hands ran in small but firm circles along her back and she clutched his shirt beneath tear stained cheek. She felt his strong heartbeat beneath her hands and head and caught her breath as she breathed in time with his heart. She let it guide her back to peace.

'Annie,' Jeff whispered into her hair, 'this isn't the end. You know that. It is hard now, but it will be easier in time.'

She pulled her head back so she was forced to tilt her face up to meet his too close gaze staring down at her with pain and comfort in his striking eyes. 'I asked no one to come here today, Jeff. Why did you come?' she asked softly, the rain running down his face and dripping onto her lips. She fought the urge to lick the raindrops from her mouth in hopes of catching whatever essence of him had transferred to her. He continued to stare down at her intensely and in silence. She began to think she had not asked the question out loud. She felt his arms around her tighten and felt his body shift where it was pressed against her. 'Why did you come here, Jeff?' she asked again, more firmly.

'Annie,' he whispered hoarsely his eyes darkening, his head tilting slightly.

'I asked no one to come, Jeff. I wanted to say goodbye alone. Seeing you all here would have made it too hard. Why did you come?' she asked in earnest, her hands gripping tighter to his shirt.

'How could I stay away, Annie.' It was a statement and it knocked the breath from her momentarily. He sensed her shift in emotion and held her tighter in fear that she would run. 'Annie, you do realize this is as hard on us as it is you. This was your decision. I can't lie and say we didn't expect it, but it is hurting all of us. You asking us to stay away, too not get to say goodbye...you expected us to listen? You expected me to listen?'

Annie studied his face as he explained himself to her. She heard his words and felt the intensity radiating from him, but she would not allow herself to read too much into them. She had followed that path before and it only led to pain. She was in enough pain as it was having to leave the life she knew, she refused to add to it by thinking that Jeff Winger was making any sort of profession.

Except...it kind of seemed like he was.

'Jeff,' Annie managed to stutter out before she tried to disengage herself from the comfort and strength of his embrace. He fought her gently and managed to keep his grip on her. 'Jeff, please let me go,' Annie begged, the pleading entering her voice.

'No, Annie. No,' Jeff replied softly.

Annie felt the tears start anew and was thankful for the rain. 'Jeff, please don't. Don't do this now. You cannot do this to me now. This is hard enough,' Annie sobbed, her eyes holding his.

'Do what, Annie? What is it you think I am doing?' He asked her firmly.

'You get your out,' Annie stated. At his curious gaze, she continued. 'You get your easy out. No more having to worry about fragile little Annie. No more worrying that if you touch me the wrong way or look at me the wrong way that people will judge you or I will become besotted with you. With me leaving you get to have one last moment guilt free. You'll kiss me, make me feel alive, and then say goodbye. No consequences to deal with tomorrow.'

Silence thundered between them blocking out the rain, his heartbeat and her rapid breathing. Silence stretched between them and he stared into her eyes, his face inches from hers as her words washed over him. As upset as Annie was, she still noticed that she seemed to have wounded him with her statement.
She watched as he let his head drop and rest against her forehead, his eyes falling shut. He let out a deep sigh and she felt his breath tickle her face, his nose brushing hers.

'Annie,' he whispered and the utter honesty in the way he said her name made her knees grow weak. His eyes shot open and stared straight into hers. He was close. Far too close. She felt as though she was suffocating. 'Annie, I am not here to toy with you and then walk away with no consequences. I came here today because I knew saying goodbye to Greendale would be difficult for you. I came here today because I knew that as much as you want this, leaving us and leaving Greendale is the hardest thing you have ever done.

'I came here today because you don't let the person you love go through that much pain alone,' Jeff stated, his hands coming up to brush the strands of her wet hair stuck to her cheeks off of her face.

'Jeff?' Annie asked, her heading falling back in order to better take in his expression. She heard his words, but she didn't understand.

'Annie, I am so proud of you. You have scraped together a life from nothing. You have managed to transfer into an amazing university and you have managed to get the scholarships you need to make that happen. And you did it all on your own. But you don't have to do the rest of this on your own,' Jeff said.

'I...I don't understand, Jeff,' Annie said, unable to stop the hope beginning to blossom in her chest.

She felt him chuckle beneath her. His hands reached up to cup her face gently. 'Little Annie Adderall grew up to be the strongest, most single minded, amazing woman I know. How stupid would I be to not want to see what you'll do next?'

Her eyes widened at his implication, and before she could respond, he dipped his head and captured her lips in a soft kiss. She felt her eyes close and her body melted into his as she relished the feel of his lips. They were even better than she remembered. Her arms snaked up to wrap around his neck pulling his head closer. She felt his hands leave her face and trail down her sides before grasping her hips and holding her tightly. He deepened the kiss when he felt her acceptance and for a few minutes they desperately clung to each other in the rain. Nothing else mattered. The pain that had been consuming her eased a little as she lost herself in a kiss she had been dreaming about for two years.

He slowed the kiss and finally pulled away ever so slightly. Annie looked at him, her eyes glazed slightly, and a smile threatening to appear on her lips.

'So, Mr. Winger, aren't you afraid of the consequences of that action?' Annie asked innocently, her big eyes watching him with amusement.

A slow smile spread its way onto his mouth and he leaned down and kissed her nose delicately. 'If dealing with consequences means I get to keep kissing you, Annie Edison, then bring them on.'

'Why now, Jeff?' Annie asked quietly, afraid to break the moment, but needing to know.

Jeff let out a breath and ran a finger down her cheek. 'You are leaving, Annie. It's really that simple. The thought of you leaving killed me.'

'That simple, huh?' Annie chuckled. She shifted her body against his and wondered how she could fit so perfectly against someone so tall. 'I am leaving tomorrow, Jeff. Leaving to go to a school six hours away.'

'I know,' he stated, the smile never leaving his face.

'You know?' Annie asked, stunned at his flippancy.

'What? It's not that difficult a situation really. We'll make it work. Give it some time, see how you settle in up there, and then...well eventually...I mean they have a pretty decent community college over there near you. In time, when you're ready for me, I don't see why I couldn't find a place in another Greendale-like school.'

Annie just stared at him in shock. This was more than she had ever hoped for and the reality of it was overwhelming. 'You mean it?'

'Annie, I wasn't ready before, and neither were you. I am ready now and I'll be damned if I don't try my hardest to make this work.'

Annie reached up and brought his head down for a crushing kiss. The rain started to fall even harder but for several long minutes, neither one of them noticed. Finally needing air, Jeff pulled away and noticed her makeup starting to run. He laughed and brushed his fingers beneath her eyes.

'Come on. Let's go before you start to look like a panda,' Jeff said.

'Jeff!' Annie shrieked and slapped him on the chest. 'Way to ruin a moment.'

Jeff chuckled and nuzzled her nose with his before stepping away from her fully. He reached out his hand to her and said, 'Now, there are a few people in the cafeteria that would like to spend some time with you before you go.'

Annie felt her eyes welling up again in happiness that her friends had all ignored her pleas for them to keep their distance. 'Really?'

'Really,' Jeff replied with a smile. She took his hand and let him lead her back towards campus. 'But we aren't staying long. I mean to make the most of your last night in town,' he said, his eyebrows bobbing in a somewhat leering fashion.

Annie laughed out loud and allowed the bubble of happiness to spread over her. She felt the strength of Jeff's hand in hers and could hear the mutters of the others as she approached the doors. A smile found its way to her lips and she realized that this goodbye was not the end of something. It was the beginning of the next phase. This goodbye was not forever. These people had become her family and it would take more than distance to keep them apart.

Jeff turned to her as they reached the door. He leaned over and gave her a quick kiss before holding the door open for her and whispering, 'Milady.'

Annie paused to stare at the man before her. No matter what the future held, she was excited to see where it would take them. Annie bowed her head slightly to him and replied, 'Milord,' before walking into the warm glow of Greendale's cafeteria.

The End.

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