Title: Quid Pro Quo

Author: Mindy

Rating: K+ sexual innuendo

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Pairing: Jack/Liz

Spoilers: "Cutbacks."

Summary: Post-ep. Liz and Jack both get what they want.

-x-x-x-

"Just out of interest," Jack murmurs, leafing through the TGS budget: "exactly how far would you have been willing to go?"

He raises his eyes to Liz, who is pacing in front of his desk, hands knitted in front of her. He thinks her apparent anxiety has less to do with her budget review though, and more to do with a particularly bad or particularly big caffeine hit. Or perhaps she is simply eager to get back downstairs to see what messes have been created in her absence.

She looks over at him then continues pacing. "What're we talking about here?"

"Exchanging favours for special attention," Jack clarifies, watching her pace. "Just how far would you have gone with that complete stranger for the sake of your fledgling show? And I ask you this not merely as a concerned friend and colleague, but, more importantly, as the man currently in the firing line."

She stops in place and faces him with a bemused little smile on her lips. "You're not….worried I'm gonna try and… seduce you. Are you?"

His eyes drop thoughtfully over the sensible black dress and tall brown boots she chose to wear to this meeting. "Worried, no," he replies carefully: "Intrigued…a little."

She snorts, shifting on the spot: "You make me sound like a circus freak, Jack. I don't have scales or anything, you know."

"Care to back up that assertion?" he murmurs.

"Very funny," she rolls her eyes and continues pacing: "And if you're asking me if I would've gone all the way--"

"I was."

"Then the answer is no."

"I'm relieved to hear it."

"I mean, you know…" she shrugs, turns on her heel and walks in the opposite direction: "unless I had really, really liked the guy."

Jack's gaze narrows: "You're…kidding."

"Yeah, I am."

"So, then," he persists: "you didn't? Like him?"

"I didn't not like him," she replies on route: "Honestly, I kinda felt sorry for him. For once, I didn't feel like the most pathetic person on the date."

"Is that why you offered him top-front?" he asks, eyebrows arched.

"No. Uh-uh," she answers unequivocally: "I don't do pity-sex. Or, you know, pity-making out. Especially with people I even slightly like."

"So…let me see if I understand this," he muses, leaning back in his chair and wondering if it is the excessive coffee or simply Lemon's standard irrationality that is making this difficult to follow: "You liked this guy--?"

"Correct. Sort of."

"And that made you not want to make out with him?"

"Correct. Or more accurately," she says in a caffeine-assisted rush: "it made me not want to make out with him in order to exploit him. They're called principles, Jack."

He hums slightly: "I'll remind you of that when next year's budget needs reviewing."

She stops again in the middle of the floor, peering at him from the corners of her eyes. "Why're you so interested?"

Jack shrugs, dropping eye contact. "I suppose I assumed that that kind of carnal bargaining was not something you would feel comfortable with."

She frowns deeply at him. "Well, you were right, as it turned out. It's hardly the proudest moment of my career. But…it really did seem like the right thing to do at the time."

"It did?" he says, incredulous.

"I was feeling desperate," she shrugs: "And noble."

"A dangerous combination in any woman." He shakes his head, muttering confusedly: "I must admit I was surprised by it, Lemon. I simply can't imagine you going through with it. It's not something I can picture you doing."

She makes a face, hands going to her hips: "Odd as this may sound, Jack, I actually don't want to have a conversation about you picturing me topless. But…" she ducks her head momentarily: "if it means we can move on and forget this, then I will tell you that…no, Holster did not get," she waves a hand over herself: "the full Lemon experience. He didn't even get the half Lemon experience. Okay?"

"Is that so?"

"That is so. In fact, he only managed to get my dress down to here --" she makes a little chopping motion to the middle of her chest, then looks down, placing her hand slightly lower: "well….about here, actually."

Jack peers at her chest: 'Where?"

"Never mind," she huffs, waving both hands: "The point is, it was all just too weird. He didn't see…my quadrants -- neither of them. And not because he backed out from sheer disappointment with them, like you might think." She drops her hands at her sides, adding quietly: "I stopped it."

Jack nods. "Because?"

She gives a shrug: "He said one too many dirty things to me. I have a very strict policy on how much sex talk I will allow."

"For a woman who talks so much," he remarks: "I find that not just inconsistent, but strangely disappointing."

"That stuff creeps me out. I'm not good at being all…into someone." She shakes her head, stepping a little closer: "So I wouldn't worry about me coming onto you 'cause…I'm obviously not that good at it. And seriously, I wouldn't even know where to begin seducing you."

"If you did, though, Lemon – if you did and I acquiesced," he perseveres, without wondering why: "Keeping in mind that I hold far more sway than Brad Holster did; and that you know me much better; and also that I am far better-looking than he could even hope to be, hypothetically…how many quadrants would I get?"

She cocks her head to one side. "How many would you want, Jack?" she counters cagily: "I mean, I know top-front wouldn't interest you--"

"Perhaps, I spoke too hastily before," he interrupts, waving a hand up and down her: "I really shouldn't judge any of your quadrants until I've viewed them properly."

"That sounds awfully preemptive," she mutters.

"True," he admits, then goes on with: "But I have never had trouble gaining access to whatever quadrants I desired."

"I'm sure," she muses, eyeing him askance. A moment later, she seems to dismiss any insinuation he might have made – either that, or her coffee kicks in again – because she holds up one finger and starts towards the door: "Fortunately for you, though, Jack, I have learnt my lesson. No more harassment," she announces, stalking across his office in her boots: "no more sexual bartering. I swear."

"That is a pity," he sighs.

She turns at the door. "What?"

"I said, glad to hear it," he answers, loud and clear: "Glad to hear it."

"Yeah…" she murmurs, not quite buying his response: "Okay then..." She regards him for an extra moment, brows drawn together, before walking out the door. A moment later, she backs back into the frame: "Which--?"

"Back-bottom," he responds immediately.

"Uh huh."

"It's generally my favourite."

"Uh huh."

"Although," he adds, more than a little rasp in his voice: "I have been known to enjoy other quadrants."

She pauses, narrows her eyes behind her specs and points a finger vaguely: "Were you just--?"

"…What?"

Her lips curl up slightly. "Were you just…checkin' out my ass, like, a second ago?"

Jack is silent a long moment. He turns a few pages before telling her evenly: "Lemon…I am just about to approve your entire budget, without question or negotiation."

He raises his eyebrows at her. Liz swallows. Then nods a few times slowly.

"Fair enough, I s'pose," she says eventually. "And I guess that answers Cheryl's question."

"Pardon?"

"Nothing." She doesn't move from the doorway, her face showing mild shock and confusion.

"In fact…." Jack goes on, taking his chance while he sees one: "Lemon, could you come back in here and walk out again? Slowly?"

Her mouth drops open slightly: "What?" She half-laughs, half-scoffs: "You want me to--?"

"Yes," he nods. "Just once will suffice."

She blinks at him a moment, before dropping her gaze. She hesitates, then draws in a breath and starts toward him. "Boy, I'll tell ya," she mutters, wagging her head at the floor: "The things I do for this show." She makes her way back to the desk but stops a little short.

Jack beckons her closer, curling two fingers in the air. "All the way please."

She looks uncomfortable but she steps right up to the desk, so that her thighs are against the edge. Then she bends down and plants both hands on the tabletop, giving him a lovely, unhindered view of another of his favored quadrants. He really shouldn't have disparaged it as he did -- even without first-hand knowledge, he's sure it's a lovely quadrant. It may have been mere jealousy that made him say otherwise. And while he does not entirely approve of Lemon's outlandish behaviour, her breasts have never done anything but please him. What's more, he'd hate for her to go and cover them up in reaction to his careless comment.

"You better enjoy this, Jack," she murmurs, dark eyes glinting down at him: "Because I'm not doing it again."

"You walk in and out of here everyday, Lemon," he points out smoothly. But he refrains from telling her how much he enjoys it each and every time.

For a moment, she struggles to come up with a reply, perhaps understanding for the first time, that he's been checking her out all along and will continue to do so, with ever-growing relish. "Yes," she says, straightening: "but this is the only time you have my permission to watch me do it."

Jack simply smirks and makes a little circling action with one finger.

Liz sucks in a breath, throws back her shoulders and mutters under her breath: "This…is for Sid." Then she turns and begins to walk.

"Slower," Jack orders: "Please."

He sees her fists ball tightly at her sides. She complies though, planting one foot in front of the other like she's walking a high wire. He is pleased to see she doesn't try to swing her hips any more than she normally would. Nor does she try to disguise that girlish little bob that invades her step, and that he so adores.

His eyes slide lazily down her spine to the part of Liz Lemon he's always secretly admired. About every other part of her -- her inwardly turning knees and toes, her flailing arms, even the small mounds on her chest she seems to view as strange anomalies on her frame, despite being way past puberty – about all these attributes Jack has always observed a sort of fragile unease, a strained awkwardness. Which is appealing in it's own way too. There's a curious sweetness to the way she carries herself, a frank humility.

But when it comes to Lemon's bottom – and it is a bottom, in the old-fashioned sense of the word, not an ass or a trunk or a butt or a behind – there is something else entirely going on. Lemon's bottom, whether she realizes it or not, is unapologetically womanly.

For the most part -- not always (this day being one rare exception) – she tries to hide it under cleverly cut jeans and long cardigans, probably not aware that what she's concealing is, in Jack's opinion anyway, her finest feature. A more observant woman would notice that on the days she does not conceal herself so well, choosing instead to wear dresses or skirts, he cannot help paying close, very special attention to the ripe, lazy curve of her, the gentle, pear-shaped heft of her. He knows it isn't the aesthetic that is popular by modern day standards. But it's always been an aesthetic that pleased him, mesmerised him.

In that all-important quadrant, Liz is shaped, as if lovingly carved, like an ancient Greek goddess. Lush and full, curvaceous and sensuous. He can only imagine – and he has to admit he has, on more than one occasion – what all that soft woman flesh might look like, feel like, pressed insistently into two warm and appreciative male palms.

He hears her clear her throat. And reluctantly raises his eyes.

She's standing at the door, looking over her shoulder at him, a slight blush on her face: "I am at the door."

Jack makes some sounds in his throat too, adjusts himself in his seat and gives a short nod. "Congratulations, Lemon," he says lowly. He flicks to the final page of her budget and signs off on it. "You have just earned straws for yourself and your crew for the next financial year. And incidentally--" he tells her with a half-smile: "those boots did not hurt your case."

She holds up a little fist: "Yay, straws!" then leans in to grasp the doorhandle. "By the way, Jack?" she adds, a little twinkle in her eye: "I totally wore the boots on purpose."

She swings the door shut, her chin held high and Jack's surprised chuckle fills the empty room. He puts the bulky budget folder to one side, eagerly anticipating the following year's round of budget renewals. And for the second time in under a week, he has the irrational urge to mumble rather fondly, rather proudly and rather delightedly:

"That's my girl."

END.