Here's a little Community ficlet written for Shirley week. shan21non, apologies, but this didn't go quite like I expected when I read your awesome prompt: Friendship: Shirley&Jeff, at Annie's insistence, they attend one of Vaughn's hacky sack tournaments together and are MERCILESS. I hope you enjoy it anyway!
Jeff eyed the daisy choker circling Annie’s neck with loathing, soul soothed a little bit by the curl of Shirley’s lip as she, too, took in the offending article. It was good to know not everyone in their little group had gone over to the dark side and taken Annie’s plea for autonomy seriously - not if her proof of independence was a baffling desire to throw herself into the unwashed arms of a tiny-nippled freak whose hair was fluttering in the breeze like he was Prince Valiant or something.
He wondered for a moment how Annie had inveigled Shirley into attending this event, if the meaning of the word could be stretched that far. He knew the Little Mermaid eyes worked on him - he made a mental note to call up the carwash redhead and discover her feelings about clamshell bras and the name Ariel (he already knew how highly she regarded aquatic activities) - but he’d thought Shirley was made of sterner stuff than that. He leaned down, got his mouth past her shining halo of hair, and muttered in her ear, “How’d she -”
“Guilt,” Shirley said, not letting her eyes wander for a moment from Vaughn’s dirt-encrusted body, narrowing them as he reached out to pull Annie close for another surely unhygienic makeout session. “She said she couldn’t get in touch with any of Vaughn’s family, and he deserved to be seen doing what he does best.”
“Seeing him wander around grubby and shirtless is hardly something they could miss, even if they tried,” Jeff pointed out, before the true horror of Annie’s reasoning hit him. “Wait, are you saying that she got us to act as Vaughn’s parents?!?”
A full-body shudder worked its way through Shirley. “No child of mine would ever be allowed in public looking like that, you better believe.” She sighed. “Might as well settle in,” she said, practically, pulling a picnic blanket, a bottle of water, and a Tupperware full of brownies out of her bottomless bag.
Jeff sprawled on the blanket, stretching out his legs, and gave Shirley a commiserating smile. He was sinking his teeth into his second brownie - the peanut butter topping made it less gooey but richer tasting - and batting away the napkin she was fluttering in front of his face, both of them laughing and managing to enjoy the sunshine and the company and forget the cloud of dirt that surrounded the contestants of today’s tournament.
“Hi, you guys!” Annie chirped as she came over, dragging her pet Neanderthal by the hand. “Thanks so much for coming!”
Just behind her he could make out the rest of Vaughn’s cohort, shambling over like zombies, lured in by the siren call of Shirley’s brownies. “There’s no pot in these brownies!” he shouted. “And they’re for me anyway!” They halted, milled around for a few seconds, and then headed back the way they came.
“Don’t confuse the less fortunate,” Shirley chided gently, but the smile wavered when Vaughn sat on her blanket without permission. Or a shirt.
“Hey, what’s up, how’re you doin’? Mountain Flower tells me you guys are really into the sack,” Vaughn said, leaning back, presumably to show off his micro-nipples and - Jeff instantly wished for blindness - a hickey that could only have been left by the dewy lips of one barely legal Annie Edison. Then he wished for deafness, if only to block out whatever Vaughn was going to come up with next, if he started off with the sack.
“Oh, yeah!” Annie said, before either he or Shirley could articulate, point by point, the extent of their devastating indifference to the so-called sport of kicking around a small leather bag while grinning like a demented ape and encouraging nearby women to stink up the great outdoors with the scent of patchouli. “They’re way into footbag!”
“Yes,” said Shirley, God bless her, being a nice person like Jeff sometimes vaguely wished he was capable of, “we’re looking forward to your stalls, bag daggers, lifts, loops, ham spalts, and milk tosses.” Sure, she was reading off a crib sheet concealed by the folds of her skirt, but Jeff was just impressed she’d bothered to make one.
“Right on!” Vaughn said, stretching out his fist to bump Shirley’s. “That was totally solid!”
Jeff pantomimed what she was supposed to do, and after gingerly tapping Vaughn’s fist with her own, Shirley shot a pleading look at him. “You should probably get going, buddy,” he said, hustling Vaughn along, and possibly letting Shirley wrap an arm around Annie’s shoulders - anything to avoid seeing another goodbye as heartfelt as if the hippie was running off to war. Or, more likely, to Canada to avoid war at all costs.
“So long, see ya, lates!” Vaughn grinned, one farewell for each of them, pointing in turn. Jeff tried not to read any grim promise into the fact that he got “see ya.” Not if he could help it - and definitely not when he knew Shirley was by his side, watching his back, like he was watching hers.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.