The Megillah of Annie, Chapter 3

by Kass

Written for Purimgifts 2013.

"This is a special announcement from the Dean's Office." The voice on the PA is Leonard's. "So listen up, suckers."

"Uh-oh," Shirley says, glancing around the study group table. Annie feels as worried as Shirley looks.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," Troy mutters darkly.

"Star Wars reference; nice." Abed's voice is warm with approval. He and Troy reach out and tap-clap-handshake without even looking at each other.

"Starting tomorrow, all non-official study groups at Greendale will be disbanded."

Shirley gasps.

Britta drops her pencil. "What? They can't do that!" She's putting on her righteous indignation face. "What do they think they're--"

"Shh," Annie says, because Leonard's still talking.

"...will be required to apply to the Dean's Office for a permit to hold a study group." Leonard's smugness is practically oozing through the wires. "Anyone holding a non-approved study group will be suspended."

"Now, wait a minute," the Dean says in the background. "That's a little harsh. I thought I said--"

"Stuff it," Leonard snaps, and the Dean's voice disappears. "Dean's office out," Leonard grates, and the PA goes silent.

So does their study group.

"Does that mean this is the end?" Shirley's voice quavers. "I don't want to say goodbye, but suspension--"

"They can't do that," Britta blusters. "We'll protest. I'll organize a sit-in!"

"Also, why does Leonard have PA privileges?" Jeff sounds as steamed about that as he is about the content of the announcement. "I thought you told the Dean about his poker shenanigans."

Pierce snickers. "He said shenanigans," he repeats to no one in particular.

Annie buries her head in her hands. This is all her fault. It's because she told the Dean what Leonard and his cronies were going to do. She should have kept her head down. Now she'll never get the GPA boost.

Annie feels a hand on her shoulder and looks up. It's Abed, kneeling on the floor beside her chair. "It's up to you," he says quietly. "You have to go to the Dean."

"Abed, no!" Annie can't help wailing, and everyone else in the room stops their frantic chattering, turning to the two of them expectantly. She can feel everyone's attention shift to them, as though a camera lens had just zoomed in for a tight focus. "I've already caused enough trouble."

"On the contrary," Abed says, his eyes sparking, "I think you haven't caused nearly enough."

"Abed, she doesn't want to do it," Britta argues. "Leave her alone."

"And besides," Abed continues, "maybe this is why you got into the Dean's internship program in the first place."

Annie sniffs. "I got in beacuse my application was perfect."

"Of course it was," Abed agrees. "But maybe there's a Reason why things worked out this way." She can hear the capital letter in his portentous tones.

"Abed's right," Shirley says suddenly. "I see the hand of God at work."

"Oh, come on," Pierce grouses. "This isn't divine providence, it's just Annie."

For some reason, hearing Pierce say that that is what makes Annie change her mind.

There's more to Annie Edison than Pierce thinks there is. In fact, there's more to Annie than any of them know. Except for maybe Abed. He's looking at her as though he knows exactly what she's made of, and he knows she can do this. And she knows it, too.

"Shirley's right," she says. "And so is Abed. Okay. I'll do it. Stay here and --" she pauses for a minute, because asking them to pray for her is obviously what the moment demands, but it sounds weird. Do Jewish people talk like that? She isn't sure. "--think good thoughts for me," she finishes lamely.

"We'll do it," Shirley promises.

"You rock," Britta offers.

"You're a better man than I," Jeff says, earnestly. "You go, girl."

The hallway to the Dean's office seems to stretch forever, but Annie makes it there on wobbly legs. Sure enough, Leonard is in there, sitting on a cushy chair next to the Dean. There's an open bottle of Johnny Walker Red with a ribbon on it, next to a "#1 Dean" coffee mug. Obviously Leonard's bringing bribes. Well, that explains why he's back in the Dean's good graces. Annie's anger rises, but she keeps her sweetest face on.

"Dean! Hi!"

"Why, hello, Annie," the Dean says, smiling.

"There's something I have to tell you," Annie says, and takes a deep breath, and straightens her posture. Both men look at her expectantly.

"Where did you get those tights?" the Dean asks, looking fascinated. "Because they are fab-u-lous."

"Sock dreams. But that's not important. What's important is: I'm..."

Leonard glares at her. For an instant she falters. And then she pulls it together and bravely forges on.

"You know I'm in an unofficial study group. And I'm proud of it. Okay, we don't make the best grades of anyone on campus, but we're -- we're kind to each other. We help each other. And we're all different: we're different ages and different races and different religions. But we're family."

The Dean, apparently mesmerized, reaches for a tissue and surreptitiously wipes his eyes.

"And if you disband all of the unofficial study groups, you'll be hurting me -- and you'll be hurting Abed Nadir, and he's the one who overheard Leonard talking about trashing your office with one of his stupid poker parties!"

Leonard gasps. "I knew it! You meddling kids--"

"So if you really think it's right to penalize people for taking the initative to form their own student groups, you have to do what you think is best, but I just wanted you to know that if you implement this new policy, it's going to hurt a lot of people. Including me," Annie finishes, and clasps her hands together, and waits.

There's a pause.

And then the Dean bursts into ostentatious sobs. "Wah-ah-ah-ah," he wails. "I'm so sorry! You guys -- you're --" he sniffles, "--like the family I never had! I couldn't do that to you."

Annie can't resist sticking her tongue out at Leonard, just for a second. He glowers back.

The Dean reaches for the PA system and mashes down the button. "Attention Greendale," he wibbles. "Disregard the former announcement. Unofficial study groups are encouraged! You be good to each other out there!" And then he bursts into tears again and lets the PA button go.

From outside the Dean's office, Annie can hear cheers.

"You'll regret this, you little--" Leonard begins, but the Dean stands up with his hands on his hips and that silences Leonard.

"Chang," the Dean calls shrilly. His office door opens and Security Guard Chang enters, twirling his baton.

"You called?" Chang says, giving Annie an exaggerated wink. The wink is kind of appalling -- it screws up his whole face -- but Annie smiles back.

"Take back Leonard's key to the outer office," the Dean says, "and Annie, log into the grades database and drop his GPA by a point."

"What?!" Leonard howls, but Chang's got him in a half-nelson and he can't break free. "You can't do this to me!"

"Actually you'll find I can," the Dean says sweetly. "But I'll keep the scotch, thanks."

"I -- wow, thank you," Annie says, feeling overwhelmed with elation. She did it! She saved the study group!

"And while you're in the files," the Dean says, "Give your own GPA a boost. A point and a half."

"Aye aye, sir!" Annie gives the Dean a crisp naval salute. Or at least, what she imagines a naval salute would look like. He salutes back, his tears apparently forgotten.

Annie makes her way back to the library in a haze of happiness. Just as she's re-entering the room where her friends are clustered around the table grinning, the PA comes on one last time.

"Attention Greendale! I'm proclaiming today to be a special holiday for students in official non-official study groups," the Dean says. "If that's you, take the day off. And maybe have a nip of scotch. Dean out!"

"Way to go," Jeff says.

"Nice work," Pierce agrees.

"You da man," Troy chimes in.

"I'm so proud of you," Shirley gushes.

"I knew you could do it," Britta encourages.

"And from this day onward, today, Monday, February 25th, will be a holiday for all unofficial study groups," Abed intones, his voice going sonorous and stentorian. "A day of light and gladness, joy and honor, for all time."

"...What?" everyone says together.

"Oh, nothing," Abed says, his voice returning to normal. "I was just doing the closing voiceover."

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The End