Barbara (htbthomas) wrote,

Fic: Strategic Friendship (Shirley, Community)

Title: Strategic Friendship
Author: htbthomas
Fandom: Community, Spoilers for 1.04, "Social Psychology" and 1.23, "Modern Warfare."
Characters: Shirley, Annie, Britta
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,647 words
Prompt:: "Friendship: Shirley & any other study group member, taking out the women of Shirley's former gossip group during the paintball ep."

Author's Notes: A missing scene from 1.23. For the Shirley Fanworks Meme. We need more people to prompt and write, too! *nudge*

"We have a variety of events at our Spring Fling this year..."

Dean Pelton's voice carried across the quad. Most people were barely paying attention as they talked and visited the various booths. Shirley stood politely, however, hands folded as she listened. It was the nice thing to do. She didn't have money to throw around at things like Kissing Booths, anyway.

Besides, the girls from her former 'gossip group' were at the Kissing Booth. The Lord only knew what they would say behind her back if she even showed interest in that little bit of harmless fun. She'd already seen one of them throw a haughty glance over her shoulder at Shirley. Even before they kicked her out of their group, they'd always thought they were too good for her. Shirley was a divorced homemaker, struggling to improve her life, and they were taking classes to kill time between shopping trips.

Shirley turned away from them, as if she hadn't seen them. She had new friends now, better friends who didn't mind her lot in life, or that she could sometimes be a 'Tattle-lina.' Annie and Britta stood just to her left, chatting about what to do next -- she could catch a word or two between pauses in the Dean's speech, something from Annie about "how cute" something was, and "what a waste of money" from Britta. Shirley focused back on the Dean.

"And now, we're about to begin the very special 'paintball contest' that we advertised. You'll notice members of the student spirit committee with carts of equipment to your right," he gestured dramatically, "and your left. Please feel free to use these paintball guns or your own equipment, if you came prepared."

Shirley turned her head to look at the cart nearest them. A few students began to wander over half-heartedly to select a gun, otherwise, people mostly remained where they were.

"I'm pleased to announce the prize..." The Dean pulled a piece of folded paper from his pocket and fiddled with it noisily against the microphone. "...I think you're gonna like this..." He finally got it open and read, "Priority registration for next fall's classes!"

Shirley froze in place. Priority registration? Wow. She could schedule her classes during the day so that she could spend more time with her boys... She came to her senses and took a few slow steps toward the paintball cart.

Gradually the talking around the quad came to a halt as others realized just what the Dean was offering.

The Dean seemed oblivious, as usual. "Last man standing rules apply, so get ready to start on my mark..."

Shirley never heard his next words. The crowd snapped like an old rubber band, roaring toward the carts with an almost inhuman collective scream.

Shirley's few extra steps saved her. She got there just enough ahead of the crowd to scoop an armful of paintball guns off of the cart and run. Her purse bounced against her back, almost unbalancing her. But she had once carried a diaper bag, two car seats, a screaming toddler and a baby by herself -- this was child's play.

She ran straight for the nearest building, and ducked behind a pillar before remembering Annie and Britta. Her heart sank. She couldn't let them fall to the wolves. What kind of friend would she be then?

She peeked around the pillar and was relieved to see them sprinting out of the quad. They each had managed to snag one gun a piece, and she couldn't see any paint on them yet... but the air was already bleeding color.

"Annie! Britta!" she shouted in her best, ear-piercing Mom voice. "Over here!"

Praise God Annie heard her. She snagged Britta by the sleeve and gestured to where Shirley was crouched. They changed direction and dropped beside her, breathing heavily.

"Damn, you made out." Britta pointed to Shirley's armful of guns.

"I'm not leaving this to chance," Shirley growled. She handed each of her friends an extra gun, and pointed the butt of one of her guns toward the building's entrance. "I figure, from this vantage point, we can take out anyone coming or going."

"Sounds like a plan," Annie agreed.

Britta frowned. "There's more than one exit from the building..."

"Hmm." Shirley's eyes narrowed in thought. "Then let's smoke the hive."

She jumped up and ran into the building, paintball pistol blazing. Annie and Britta followed, and the three of them took out anyone loitering in the halls.

They heard a shout from behind them. "Hey! What's going on?"

Shirley whipped around and shot Garrett dead center in the chest. "Paintball assassin. You're out."

He looked down at his paint-spattered chest. "That's not fair!" he whined. "I didn't even know we were playing!"

"Not our problem," Annie sneered and the girls turned away.

"But...!" Garrett tried again.

All three swiveled to pellet him with paint. He stumbled back against the wall and slumped slowly to the floor.

Their lioness pack hunted down everyone in the entire first-floor hallway, seizing paint cartridges when they could from the weak and the lame. After making a full circuit, they stopped just before the stairwell, ready to storm the next floor...

Quick footsteps coming from an unknown direction made them freeze. There was no telling how many people might be coming -- best to find an ambush point. Annie and Britta shared a quick glance, then looked to Shirley. Shirley jerked her head toward the ladies' bathroom across the way.

They slid through the door, alert to any unsuspecting occupants. The bathroom was deserted.

"We'll wait until the coast is clear," Shirley mouthed, pressing herself against the wall. The footsteps grew louder and the sound of female voices accompanied them. "Don't panic, girls. We have the high ground." Shirley gestured for the other two to take cover positions with a clear shot of the door.

A voice filtered through the heavy door. "Gloria, Denise, you take the bathroom. I'll go with Sherry and Rhonda to check the classrooms on either side." The voice sounded familiar, as well as the names... the girls from her former group--?

The door opened with a crash and two women entered the room, paintball guns blazing.

Not one shot connected.

Within moments, Shirley's troop rainbow-washed them in paint -- Annie popping up from behind the waistbin, Britta from behind a stall door, and Shirley from beside the wall.

Gloria and Denise dropped their guns in shock, recognizing their attacker. "Shirley?"

"Ladies," she acknowledged. "Time to go home." She warned them with a touch of her gun to her lips, "Quietly." She couldn't resist adding, "You'd better not 'tattle' on us."

Gloria grimaced slightly, but nodded. Denise slowly backed out into the hallway.

When they were gone, Shirley could only hold her breath. Despite being called the "Tattle-lina" of the group, the other women hadn't been much better.

"You know them?" Annie asked.

Shirley pressed her lips together. "Yes. Some former friends of mine."

"Do you really think they'll--" Britta began.

"Watch out, Toni!" Denise yelled out in the hall. "Shirley Bennett's in the bath--"

Shirley busted out of the bathroom then, firing blindly, Annie and Britta hot on her heels. By the grace of God, she managed to clip Rhonda on the shoulder, and Annie hit Sherry's knees. Toni gasped and jumped behind Rhonda, using her as a human shield.

"That's not gonna save you!" Annie trained a gun on Toni with a dismissive snap. "It's three against one, now."

"Oh, yeah?" Denise said, running to place her body in front of Toni as well. "We may be out of the game, but we can still be useful." The other women formed a phalanx around their leader.

Annie and Britta circled the knot of women, looking for an opening. Toni cowered, trying to protect herself.

"I think you underestimate how useful you can be." Shirley took a step forward, face impassive. "We've got a lot of paint, and we're not afraid to cover you with it." She took another step forward. "Sherry, I know how you like your designer purses. Think paint'll wash out of that Gucci?"

Sherry cringed and protected her handbag.

"And Rhonda, I bet you spent several hours in the salon on that weave. Be a shame to have to go back so soon."

She nodded at Gloria. "Don't think I'd want to get paint on my leather car seats." Then she pierced Denise with a cold stare. "Or on my Manolos."

Another moment, and they would break. Shirley opened her mouth to give them one more chance - - after all, they might be a bunch of haughty hens, but she was a nice person.

Just before Shirley could speak, Toni jumped in. "Don't listen to her, girls. She won't do it -- you remember, she's all talk."

Rage -- jukebox-smashing, water-hosing rage -- boiled up at Toni's words. Without another thought, she aimed and shot Toni right in the mouth.

Toni screamed in terror and pain, and the group broke apart, running in all directions.

Shirley felt a twinge of conscience. Toni was going to be hurting for a while. She would probably have a bruise there, too. But watching them flee felt even better.

Britta came up and put an arm around Shirley's shoulders. "Are you okay?"


Annie smiled and nudged Shirley with her shoulder. "That was pretty badass."

Shirley smiled back. "Oh, yeah."

Britta had been there the last time she snapped, and she wasn't judging. And Annie would always have Shirley's back. These were the kind of friends she needed.

"Where next?" Britta asked, alert to the next threat.

"The bathroom was a pretty good hiding place," Annie said. "Too bad we can only get the women that way."

Shirley chuckled, then gave each of her friends a wicked grin. "Oh, I wouldn't say that."
Tags: community, fanfiction

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