neigedens: jeff and abed are hungover (jeff/abed)
Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear? ([personal profile] neigedens) wrote2010-10-08 12:20 pm

COMMUNITY FIC: Sometimes you want to go..., Jeff/Shirley, 5,300 words

You guys it is fall and do you know what that means? It means it's time for MORE COMMUNITY FIC YEAHHHHH.

Title: Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name
Rating: Teen, for language. No warnings.
Word Count: 5,300
Pairing: Jeff/Shirley
Notes: Set sort of nebulously in the second half of season 1, so no season 2 spoilers. Thanks to [personal profile] wordsatourbacks for the excellent beta job.
Summary: Jeff pretends to be Shirley's boyfriend. "You know, this is starting to be less like Cheers and more like Three's Company."

Shirley knew a lot about all of their lives because she naturally took an interest in others, but not in a creepy way. It wasn't even because she liked gossip (although that was undoubtedly part of the reason), since Britta could tell that Shirley honestly cared, which was why Britta was so upset when she realized that she knew next to nothing about Shirley's divorce.

"It makes me feel like a bad friend," said Britta. "I mean, how much do you know about me?"

"I don't know," said Shirley, obviously surprised that the conversation had taken such a personal turn. "Not that much."

This was not true; Shirley knew a lot about most of the men Britta had had sex with or had thought about having sex with in the past six months. Shirley knew Abed's favorite type of cookie, Annie's bra size, and one of Pierce's ex-wives, having been in a book club once with the unfortunate woman. Britta realized with horror that she didn't even know how long Shirley had been married.

"That is not true," said Britta. "You know a lot about me."

Shirley shrugged. "I suppose. Can I borrow your book?"

Britta handed it over to her, but she remained dissatisfied. "I don't even know your husband's name."

"Oh. It's Tony, but that's not really--"

"Your husband's name was Tony Bennett?"

"I don't see why--"

Britta threw back her head and laughed. "Come on, I would be perfectly willing to help you trash-talk your ex-husband." Britta was perhaps even more horrified when Shirley, who in normal circumstances could belittle and ridicule nearly everything and everyone on campus, refused to talk about her cheating douche of an ex-husband.

"It hasn't even been a year," said Shirley.

"Too soon?" asked Britta.

Shirley nodded and looked so oddly sad that Britta did what she and Shirley normally never did for anyone else and butted out. Britta forgot about it until the day Troy found the invitation to Shirley's high school reunion.

"You dropped this, Shirley," he told her when he picked it up in the library one morning.

Shirley barely spared it a glance and didn't take it from him. "I don't want it. I meant to throw it in the trash."

"So you were littering," said Abed as he sat down next to Troy.

"No!" said Shirley. "I just saw what it was and didn't really pay attention to where I threw it."

"Threw what?" asked Britta as she came in.

"Nothing--"

"It says it's from the Riverside High School Alumni Association," said Troy. "Dude, I didn't know you went to the same high school as me. I didn't think they'd been around that long."

"Well, it was a while ago," said Shirley, wincing. "Can we just--"

"Contrary to what you might think, Troy, the world did exist before 1990," said Jeff, leaning back in his chair.

"It's your twentieth high school reunion, right?" asked Abed. "You have to go."

"I don't think so," said Shirley, making a grab for the letter, but Britta was too quick and had already plucked it from Abed's hands.

"What a load of crap," said Britta, wrinkling her nose at the invitation.

"What is?" asked Pierce as he walked in. "Are you talking about Billy--"

"We are not talking about Billy Joel," said Jeff, grabbing the letter from Britta. "We're talking about high school reunions."

"That's nonsense," said Pierce. "High school reunions are how the American male shows his dominance over his former peers. It's how you prove, in my case, that you are still an alpha dog, or, in your case, Jeffrey--"

"It's not his, it's my reunion," said Shirley as Jeff tossed the letter back to her. She crumpled it in her fist. "And I'm not an alpha dog or any other kind of dog, and I'm not going, so why don't we just pretend Troy never stole my mail?"

"Hey, I didn't--"

"I think Pierce is right," said Abed. "Shirley, you're a recently divorced single mother without a college degree and you drive a minivan. It's important that you use your high school reunion to prove wrong all those who ever doubted you."

"Prove who wrong?

"Yeah!" said Britta. "Like your douchebag ex-husband. Didn't you go to high school together?"

"Yes--"

Jeff turned to Britta. "I thought high school reunions were, quote, a load of crap."

"Unquote," said Abed.

"They are," said Britta. "But what better way to stick it to someone like her cheating douchebag of an ex? Shirley needs to affirm herself."

Shirley shook her head. "I don't keep in touch with anyone from high school. The only people in the room that I would have spoken to in the past ten years would be my ex and his new girlfriend."

"You could be the alpha dog, Shirley," said Abed, looking her straight in the eye.

"Yeah!" said Annie. "You have to be assertive, Shirley! You're worth twenty of your ex-husbands and his girlfriends."

"Totally could be the alpha dog," said Britta. "If you wanted to."

"It's also a classic narrative trope," said Abed. "You need to symbolically wash yourself of the stain of your ex-husband by showing up at your high school reunion looking fabulous, with a new man."

"What?"

"Where I come in, obviously," said Pierce. "Shirley, obviously I would love to escort you--"

"What?" asked Shirley, now looking sick.

"It would be no hardship, and I only--"

"Pierce, you can't be Shirley's date for her high school reunion," said Jeff. "You have that thing to go to."

"I do?"

"Yeah. You remember, your really important thing that you were telling us about yesterday? Britta, you remember that thing."

"Oh, uh, yeah. Totally," said Britta, who had a horrible poker face.

Annie nodded, smiling knowingly at Jeff. "I remember!"

"What thing?" asked Abed, eyes darting to everyone's faces. "I don't remember any thing."

"Yeah, the thing," said Troy, raising his eyebrows at Abed.

"Ohhh. That thing," said Pierce, still looking mystified. "Sorry, Shirley, I guess I can't--if you'll excuse me." He took out his phone and started looking through the calendar, effectively removing him from the conversation while he was distracted.

Jeff caught Shirley's eye. She smiled at him and he winked at her before speaking. "Anyway, Abed, obviously Shirley has said that she doesn't want to go, so--"

"You should do it, Jeff," said Abed.

"What?"

"Oh, Abed," said Shirley.

"Why not?" asked Britta, turning to Jeff. "You pretended to be a lawyer for years, pretending to be Shirley's boyfriend should be a cinch."

"Oh, ha ha."

"She's right, Jeff," said Abed. "You're tall and attractive, plus your out-sized ego, your vanity about your personal appearance, your air of professionalism with a slightly seamy edge to it... they're all things that should make a favorable impression on the types of people who made Shirley's life miserable in high school."

"Abed, I don't think anyone made my life miserable in high school. You're being ridiculous. Jeff, tell him how ridiculous he's being."

"I don't know." Jeff's legs were up on the table and he was leaning back in his chair, staring pensively up at the opposite wall. "He might have a point, Shirley. You really think I have a seamy edge, Abed?"

"Definitely."

"Hmm." Jeff rocked slightly back and forward in his chair.

Shirley laughed nervously. "You're all being silly."

"Abed's appealing to his out-sized ego," Britta told her. "He might just do it."

Jeff sat up straight. "Forget about your classmates, Shirley. This could be an excellent way to get back at your husband and his awful girlfriend."

"Pretending to be a couple is another classic trope," Abed told her. "It'll probably end up strengthening the bonds of your friendship, unless of course you end up falling in love for real."

"Can that happen?" asked Troy.

"You tell me," said Abed, tilting his head and staring at Troy, who quickly looked away.

"Whatever, Abed," said Jeff. "Shirley, what do you say?"

Everyone was looking at her. "I--um--"

"I'll drive."

That decided it. "Oh, all right."



~


"You're really okay with this?" asked Shirley.

"Shirley, please believe me when I say that I have done far more sordid things in my life," said Jeff as he pulled the car into Riverside High's parking lot.

"Really," she said, glaring at him.

"Oh, don't give me that look. Cheer up! I was trying to make you feel better."

"I feel fine," said Shirley. "I feel very secure in myself." She took a deep breath and shuddered.

"I feel very secure in you, too," said Jeff, grinning at her. "You look really secure."

"Oh, come on, Jeff, don't you ever get nervous about high school things?"

"Shirley, I base much of my personal and professional success on the fact that I don't remember one blessed thing from my high school thing."

"Not a thing?"

"Nope. Not even my best friend. Not even the girl on the track team from Madagascar that I lost my virginity with."

"And that's the secret," said Shirley dubiously. "The secret to your success."

"Yeah, I--." He paused. "Such as it is. Wow. Um, OK, maybe that didn't always work out the greatest, but. Um."

"Are you all right?" she asked. His expression had become unusually sober. "Are you still sad about Professor what's-her-name dumping you? Do you need to cry? I have tissues--"

"I do not need to cry," he said as Shirley started digging in her purse. "No, my point was, Shirley, that at least I'm better off than you."

"Me?"

"Yeah. Since I effectively have no contact at all with my alma mater--whatever it may be called, I no longer remember--they have no idea where I live, unlike you, Shirley. You apparently let the Riverside Alumni Association know when you changed your address. You probably sent them a little card letting them know. "

"Is that bad?" she asked, her eyes widening.

"Well, it's how Abed peer-pressured you into making you come here and taking me with you!" Her face fell as Jeff slapped her on the back. "Now come on, we've been sitting here too long, it's starting to look weird. And cheer up," he told her as she followed him out of the car. "If I'm going to pretend to be your boyfriend--"

"That's another thing," said Shirley. "I've been thinking, and I don't think it's a good idea. Don't tell people you're my boyfriend."

"What! Shirley, that was the whole point of the ruse! Why not?"

She shook her head. "It's dishonest."

"It's not dishonest! There's nothing in the Bible against harmless ruses, is there?"

She glared at him.

"OK, it's a little dishonest."

She shook her head. "What were you even going to tell people when they asked how we met?"

"I actually had something pretty good thought up."

"Really."

"Well, as you can see from what I'm wearing, I'm an ex-Hollister model."

"Oh, really?"

"But I wasn't anymore. Exactly why we never figured out--"

"Maybe they found out your Hollister modeling degree was fake."

"Sure, why not. But then you and I met in chemistry class--chemistry is sexier than Spanish, that's why."

"Hmph."

"I can see you're unimpressed, but it was Abed's idea. He's going to be so disappointed if we don't go through with this."

"I'm sure you can make something up to tell him."

"Now who's being dishonest?"

"Jeff." She paused, feeling indecisive. "It's just--"

"Look, Shirley. I just want you to have a good time," Jeff said mildly. "I honestly don't care either way. It's just that one day Abed's going to have to learn that life isn't an episode of Saved by the Bell, and I didn't want today to be that day. That's all."

"Oh. Well, that's all right, then, I guess. So we'll leave before nine?"

"You got it. We can hit a Taco John's drive-through before we go home, how does that sound?"

"Magical," said Shirley, rolling her eyes.

As they approached the school, however, they stopped talking when they saw the welcome committee that awaited them.

"Leis?" said Jeff in disbelief. "You didn't say anything about leis."

"No," said Shirley. "They must have a Hawaiian theme. Didn't you read the invitation?"

"No!"

"Oh." She hadn't either, after she had crumpled it up in disgust. "Well, it can't be that bad."

With a noise of disbelief, Jeff followed her to the door where a redheaded woman even shorter than Shirley greeted them. "Shirley!"

"Hello!" said Shirley, her mind scrambling frantically for a name. "Cheryl," she added after catching sight of the name tag when the woman came forward to put a purple lei around Shirley's neck.

"You remembered!" said the woman with a kind, rather bland smile before she turned to look up at Jeff. "Tad!"

"Tad?" asked Jeff.

"I'm so happy you're here," she said, sounding genuinely thrilled. "I heard everyone talking about how you wouldn't show up because of some work thing."

"Ha!" said Jeff, nervously, casting a glance at Shirley, who looked as confused as he was.

Before either of them could protest, however, Cheryl had led them over to a table in the gym's lobby where all the name tags were laid out. "Here you go," she said, handing them each a name tag shaped like a coconut. "Don't worry about remembering people's names. I know not everyone has the knack for it. That's why I'm the welcome wagon. I never forget a name. Or a face," she said, winking at Jeff.

"I'm not--I mean--I don't--Look, I'm with her," said Jeff, pointing accusingly at Shirley.

"Oh," said Cheryl, giving the two of them a not very flattering glance, in Shirley's opinion. "Well, I'm sure that's an interesting story. You two get on to the gym, we can talk later."

"Yes, thank you," said Shirley, grabbing Jeff's arm and leading him away before he could say anything. "Jeffrey," she began in a lower voice as soon as they were out of Cheryl's earshot, "do you remember what you were saying earlier about dishonesty?"

"What the hell was that? Who the hell is--" He looked down at the name tag Cheryl had given him. "Tad McCruller?"

"Remember how you were saying that there's nothing in the Bible against minor ruses?" She took the name tag from his hands and pinned it on his shirtfront. "I need you to do me a favor."

"A favor," said Jeff. "Shirley, I'm pretty sure there's something in the Bible against identity theft. It's been a while since I've read the book of Deuteronomy, but I'm sure it's in there."

She shook her head. "Look, did you ever think that maybe things happen for a reason?"

"Like what? There's a reason you want me to pretend to be a guy named Tad?"

"Yes. There is," said Shirley.

"Shirley, I can't be a Tad. Look at my face! Tad is a douchebag name. If my name were Tad I would be perilously close to having a douchebag face."

"Oh, Jeff, you're not going to look like a douchebag. Not anymore than usual."

"Your faith in me is very refreshing, but--" He stopped. "Look, who is this guy? Why does he matter?"

"If I'm remembering correctly," said Shirley, "he was friends with Tony."

"Tony?"

"My ex-husband! They were on the track team. Or swimming. Maybe it was the golf team. Either way, they used to be friends, but they got into a huge fight before graduation about... something. Look, that's not important. The important thing is--"

"So we're back to this. You want me to pretend to be your boyfriend."

"Look, Jeff, sometimes things happen for a reason. Do you see?"

"So now not only does the Bible say it's okay that we do this, now God himself is telling us that we have to?"

"You do look an awful lot like him," said Shirley. "Except, good lord, he was a bit of a--a--"

"Douchebag?" She nodded. "You're not helping your case here, you know."

"Can you imagine Abed's face if we told him that we had let an opportunity like this slip through our fingers?"

"Opportunity?"

"I'm almost positive there was an episode of Cheers where something like this happened, Jeff. Think about it."

He sighed. "Well, I saw that episode too. I'll be your boyfriend, Shirley."

"Oh, good!" She beamed. "I won't let you down. Just lean down for a second, I can't quite reach the top of your head."

"What are you--look, I work really hard on my hair. I don't need--ow!" She plastered it down so that more of it covered his forehead. The entire effect was not flattering.

"There. Now you look like a total jerk. So jerky I don't even recognize you."

"Is that supposed to be a compliment? Because I'm taking it as a compliment."

"Come on, Tad," said Shirley, grabbing his arm.

"That's me. Tad McKinnon."

"McCruller."

"God, what a douche this guy must be." They went into the gym together.

~


At first Jeff had been nervous about being someone else, but after a while, pretending to be a man he knew nothing about except that his name was Tad McCruller was remarkably freeing. In a way, he had been pretending to be someone else as soon as he had enrolled at Greendale--or so he had been telling himself--so really what he was doing now was no different, except that there was a thin veneer of pretending to be a complete pretentious douche over all of it, and a different hairstyle.

Also, thanks to the open bar, he was really, really drunk. That helped a lot too. Shirley was only tipsy and very giggly but he was much farther along, which probably explained their enthusiasm for putting their arms around each other, calling each other "babe," and making up stories about how they'd met. Jeff had quickly decided that he wouldn't claim to be a community college student. Tad McCruller, he'd decided right from the start, was a go-getter.

"So I took him home after the party," said Shirley, "and made him an omelette."

"It was amazing," said Jeff. "And then I stepped on one of her kids' Hot Wheels and gave myself a concussion, and we've been together ever since."

"I looked to see how dilated his pupils were and I said to myself, 'This is love.' It was magical," said Shirley. She laughed, so Jeff laughed, and since Tad's arrival had attracted a bunch of old acquaintances and, apparently, hangers-on, everyone else laughed too.

A lot of people had come up to say hello to both of them, but with Jeff they all seemed to hang about and try to lure him into reminiscing about high school with them. He would nod along and then ask Shirley if she remembered too. She would shake her head and he would say how funny it was that some people remembered everything they'd done in high school and some people just couldn't be bothered to give a fuck.

"You know," he told her when the crowd around them had thinned out, "for a douchebag I'm pretty popular."

"I suppose," said Shirley, crawling under the table to find more booze. He couldn't be sure since he couldn't see her face, but he thought there was something oddly knowing in her voice.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"What's what supposed to mean?"

"Look, babe, this is no time to get coy." He crawled under the table with her. "What the hell are you looking for?"

"I thought I saw a bottle of something," she said. "And by the way, babe, there's no one around, so I don't think you have to call me babe."

"I do what I want, babe. Look, is your ex-husband still not here?"

Shirley peeked out. "No. Do we really want to have this discussion under a table? Babe?"

"Of course, babe. OK, now, you have to think: what was it that caused your ex and Tad McCruller to hate each other?"

Shirley bit her lip. "I don't remember."

"Babe." Jeff put his hands on her shoulders and attempted to stare deeply into her eyes. "Are you holding out on me here?"

"No!" She bit her lip again. "Honestly, Jeff, why does it matter?"

"Why does it matter? OK, first of all, don't call me Jeff. This is why we're sticking to the babes. That way you won't call me by the wrong name accidentally. Anyone could be listening, at any time."

"Then couldn't somebody be listening right now, after you just said that?"

"Don't try to distract me from my point because I--" He paused. "What was my point?"

"Nothing, babe. Let's get out from under here--"

"No, no," he said, grabbing her shoulder. "Look, if you don't tell me what happened between Tad and your ex then whenever he shows up is going to be super-awkward. For all of us."

"Trust me," she said, patting him on the cheek. "Nothing about this evening could get much more awkward. Come on, let's go."

He let her pull him out from under the table and wracked his brain for what possibly could have caused the falling-out between Tony and the man Jeff was pretending to be. "Let's see, they were jocks, right? Maybe they had a jock fight. What do jocks fight about? Beer. Money. Steroids. Women. Women! Shirley, was it you?"

"What?"

Jeff's eyes widened. "Shirley, did you crawl under a table looking for beer with the real Tad McCruller? You can tell me, I won't spill."

"Oh, honestly, of course I didn't, J--babe!" She swatted at him with her purse. "Don't you think I would remember that?"

"OK, OK. What else? Scholarships. Drugs. Hey, it was the eighties, what about drugs? Was it coke?"

"No, of course it wasn't! Would you stop it? People will stare."

"Let 'em. Look, Shir--babe, the way I see it...." He trailed off when he saw the suddenly stricken look on her face. "Something wrong?"

"You can call me by my name, babe," said Shirley faintly, but she still looked frozen in horror.

"Right, but--"

"That's him," she said. "Behind you."

Jeff spun around and saw the heavyset, rather pinch-faced man she was pointing at. "That's him?"

"Uh-huh."

Jeff looked from Tony to Shirley, then put his arm around her. "OK. Be cool."

"I'm cool."

"I know you are, ba--Shirley." They both paused and took in a big breath. "Let's do this."

Shirley was looking more and more nervous by the second. She was staring straight ahead, but when she caught a glimpse of Jeff out of the corner of her eye, she spoke to him exasperatedly. "Oh, Jeff, take your sunglasses off."

"Trust me," said Jeff as he ran into a chair. "I know what I'm doing. What's douchier than a guy who wears sunglasses at night?" When she continued to look dubious, he added, "It's so I can, so I can, keep track of the visions in my dreams."

Shirley didn't laugh, but her expression became less downcast and by the time they reached her ex and his girlfriend, she had affected a look of almost amused disdain. "Hello, Tony," she said.

Tony's bored-looking girlfriend nodded at the two of them first. Tony, who was leaning over the buffet table picking out shrimp, glanced at Shirley briefly. "Oh, hi, Shir--Tad?" he said, nearly dropping his cake in the cocktail sauce.

Jeff lowered his sunglasses just a little and looked over the rims at Tony. "Hey."

Tony looked from Jeff to Shirley and looked completely lost. "You're... here together?"

Shirley smiled. Jeff put his arm around her and chuckled under his breath.

Tony looked at both of them. Jeff thought it was a nastily suspicious look. He was disinclined to like Shirley's ex-husband on principle, and this look merely cemented matters. Jeff smirked and tried to look rakishly handsome, which, he reflected, was not hard for a swell guy like Tad McCruller and literally no problem at all for Jeffrey Winger.

Shirley cleared her throat nervously, and it occurred to Jeff that the whole encounter was probably nothing but incredibly awkward for her. He felt dimly sorry, but before he could say something sure to put everyone at ease, Tony spoke.

"I was surprised to hear you came, Tad. I heard you had gone...out of town."

Jeff shrugged. "I'm back, baby." Oh god, a part of him said--a part of him that would probably be giving him a look identical to the one Shirley was giving him now, if possible.

"Gone out of town... permanently," added Tony. He shared a look with his girlfriend, who didn't seem to notice.

Jeff shrugged again. "You hear anything about that, babe?" he asked Shirley.

She shook her head and grabbed his hand. "If you'll excuse me and... me and Tad. I need to show him something... in... the trophy room. Nice to see you, Nicki!" She grabbed Jeff's hand and dragged him out of the gym, waving a vague hand at her ex-husband's girlfriend as she did so.

"Shirley, do you realize what a double entendre that was right there? You have something to show me in the trophy room? I mean, come on." He smiled in what he assumed was a hilarious way. She did not laugh. "Also, why are you bothering to be civil to your ex-husband's girlfriend?"

Shirley shook her head. "It's a long story." They were in the trophy room now, which was dimly lit around the case. She started to explain to him how Nicki was a former lector at her church and touched briefly upon the Bible verse dealing with turning the other cheek, but by then Jeff had been distracted.

"Holy shit, Shirley, it's Troy!"

"What?"

He pointed. "I think it's a good picture of him."

The trophy case actually contained two photos of Troy: there was one picture with him in his shoulder pads and uniform that had been taken for his MVP award, and another one that was a team picture taken after their victory at the state championship. Troy seemed to lurk in the background, his arms in casts.

"Poor Troy," said Shirley. She shook her head. "That's not why I took you out here, Jeff."

"I know, babe," he said, and before he could really think much about it he was kissing her. She made a surprised noise but didn't pull away until he did. When he did, however, she stared at him as if stricken. "Sorry, is that not where you were going with that?"

She shook her head slowly, her eyes huge. "Um. No. It wasn't."

"Oh. Sor--"

"You don't have to apologize," she said quickly. She looked amazed more than anything, and when she spoke it was in a disbelieving tone. "Good lord, do you kiss everything?"

Jeff scratched his head. "Well, apparently Tad does." He nodded. Even through the haze of alcohol he felt a little embarrassed. A lot of things happened after Jeff Winger kissed women, but befuddlement had never been one of them. Shirley was confusing him about as much as he was confusing her. "Yeah, that's it. It must be a Tad McCruller thing."

Then, finally, she smiled. "Tad," she said, chuckling a little and shaking her head. "You're smoother than he ever was, at least," rubbing Jeff's shoulder soothingly, somehow knowing that it was exactly the thing to lift his spirits.

He smirked at her. "Did you ever make out with the real Tad McCruller? Sneak into the trophy room with him?" He still had his arms around her, and even though it was pretty hard to see her through his sunglasses in such a dark room, when she smiled and laughed it was bright and lovely.

"God, no. He was a complete jerk-off, Jeff, you have no idea."

"Oh, I probably have some idea, babe," he admitted before he kissed her again.

She laughed again, the same high, half-tipsy giggle from earlier that inspired him to push her towards the wall to the left of the trophy case, where Troy's woe-is-me expression wouldn't be watching them skeptically (or at least, so Jeff told himself.) He was laughing, too, or at least he was until all the lights suddenly came on.

"Are you Tad McCruller?" asked a stern voice from behind them, somewhere a long ways down the hall.

Jeff spun around. The light was so bright that even through his sunglasses, Jeff was blinking furiously. He looked around and saw, incredibly, a police officer accompanied by Shirley's ex-husband. "That's him, officer," Tony said, looking vindictive. At the sound of Tony's voice, Shirley peeked around the trophy case briefly and made a little eep! sound in the back of her throat.

"Jeff," she said, softly, "what I wanted to tell you before was that I remembered finally why Tony and Tad had their falling-out after high school."

"Is now really a good time for this?" he whispered.

"It was just after graduation," she said, ignoring him. "I think you--well, Tad, called the cops on one of the senior year parties."

"Did I? And just why is that relevant right now?" he hissed back at her as the officer approached them.

"Well, Tony was always pretty mad about it. I mean, he ended up spending graduation in a cell, and all because of Tad. It looks like he might have returned the favor," she said, as the officer told Jeff, "I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to come with me, sir. You're being taken into custody for willfully defrauding your investors and for evading arrest by leaving the country."

Jeff was so shocked he couldn't speak even as the officer handcuffed him. As he was led away, Shirley finally found her voice and called after them, "Oh wait! He didn't defraud anyone, he just faked a law degree! It's the wrong guy!"

"You know," said Jeff, still feeling (and sounding) pretty drunk, "this is staring to be less like Cheers and more like Three's Company." The officer rolled his eyes and took him out to the cruiser.

~

Tad McCruller, it seemed, had left the country two weeks earlier with most of the liquid assets of the company of which he was CEO and in the company of two strippers, and more power to him. He left Jeff to be revenged upon for the smaller wrong Tad had committed against Shirley's ex-husband in the twelfth grade. It was only after being presented with Jeff's driver's license, his health club membership card, and Shirley's repeated insistence on Jeff's true identity that the police finally released Jeff from custody. Cheryl from the welcome wagon was nice enough to give them a ride home from the police station.

"You're kidding," said Britta the following Monday, when they described what had happened, minus a few of the spicier parts in the trophy room. "Your fake-date with Shirley ended up in a police station."

"No kidding," said Jeff, who had been too drunk to drive home and had woken with a horrible hangover on Shirley's couch on Saturday morning. "I'm a new Jack Tripper for our times."

"He does know how to show a lady a nice time," was all Shirley would say.

Abed was almost visibly thrilled, first with the mistaken identity and then with the mistaken arrest. "And you're sure you don't feel any lingering sexual tension after all that?"

"Oh, Abed," was all Shirley could say, while Jeff leaned back in his chair again.

"Well, not really, what with the waking up with a splitting headache to the sounds of Shirley's kids watching Spongebob, after all was said and done," and he said it so airily that no one suspected anything when he led Shirley down a deserted hallway after study group was over. "Look, I know it was all kind of a blur last night, and I was drunk, but I wasn't that drunk, so..."

She arched her eyebrows at him, her expression neutral. "So what?"

"So... I apologize if this whole Tad persona thing got a little handsy." He paused and watched her expression. "We could never speak of it again, or we could..."

She nodded, finally, and smiled. "Speak of it a little."

"You got it, babe," he said, and smiled too.

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