Title: His Brother's Keeper
Rating: M, sexy stuff...
Disclaimer: Tina's etc.
Pairing: Liz/Other, Jack/Liz.
Spoilers: "Black Tie", "Funcooker" and "The Natural Order" onwards.
Summary: Jack never thought his brother would fall for Liz.
Jack never thought his brother would fall for Lemon. Nor did he imagine that Lemon would fall for his brother. When he'd introduced them, immediately he had noticed the look that passed between them. He'd been involved in plenty of those sparkling, surreptitious looks in his day. He was not, however, used to being the superfluous party in such a situation.
Lemon was free to like and date and sleep with whomever she chose, of course. As was his brother. And, if she had chosen to date one of the vast and always growing mob of Donaghys, scattered throughout the US of A and fumbling their way through various stormy relationships, Jack might have had cause to be concerned. He might also have been a little disturbed by the prospect of her becoming his sister-in-law and joining such a disastrous genepool. None of his Donaghy brothers had ever amounted to much in any department, including the marriage department. They simply weren't equipped to maintain a relationship with any woman who was either halfway sane or sober for at least part of the day.
But it was not one of Jimmy Donaghy's sons that Lemon was involved with. It was one of Milton Greene's. Milton, much it seemed like everyone in his life who met Liz Lemon, took to her immediately and strongly. He gave the relationship, which seemed to bloom and become serious overnight, his elated blessing. And from then on, Billy and Liz seemed to become somewhat synonymous with one another. Jack couldn't hear one name without the other following it, like those couples who become irrevocably joined at the hip. Which meant that every time Jack wanted to have dinner with his father, it somehow became a family event, with Billy and Liz joining them.
On such occasions, Jack found that he became the quietest person at the table. Milton, Billy and Liz all shared the same political views, enjoyed the same food and even were fans of the same movies. Their chatter was sharp and spirited, interspersed with jokes that Jack laughed at but seldom understood. Lemon was different around them too. Always appearing in rare and adorable form. Freer than usual, sexier than usual, happier than usual, her smile wide and confident. Even Jack, when he saw her in that light, had to admit to being surprised at just how irresistible she could be when not trying so hard.
More odd than that though, was the sight of Liz leaning across the table to kiss a man who could've been him fifteen years before. Billy was not that much younger than him, but Jack had to note, he was in much better shape. He certainly had a few less pounds on him and maybe a few inches of extra height as well. His dark hair, without a single trace of grey, flopped over his forehead in a way that made Liz sweep it away from his eyes periodically, which would prompt Billy to kiss her fingers.
Indeed everything about Billy B. Greene exuded ease and self-assurance and likeability and an endless enjoyment of life. He ate well, talked well, drank very little and had never been married, disastrously or otherwise. He was a wrestler, a footballer, a skier and even a pilot. He and Liz had taken to jogging together, playing tennis and even golf on weekends, which suddenly were far more important to her.
She no longer spent her weekends and spare time at 30 Rock, finding things to do if necessary. She no longer came to his office after a difficult day for a glass of her favourite wine, though he still stocked it. She no longer kept him on the phone for hours talking about everything from Tracy's latest caper to her new retainer. She no longer called him from her bathtub where she liked to cook ham sandwiches in her Funcooker, still thrilled by the fact that he'd used her idea.
Jack considered himself any man's equal. He was not a man who was easily or typically threatened. He had it all, and he'd risen above his no-good family to prove it. And he'd thought, he'd really thought that he'd had all his bases covered. There were few things in his life he truly cherished. And whatever he did wish to preserve or treasure, whatever riches he'd acquired in his brilliant ascent were well guarded, fully insured or locked safely away. Nothing had been left exposed. Including his heart.
There was one thing, however, he couldn't keep under lock and key. One thing he couldn't guard against or take out a policy on. There was one precious thing that suddenly, he felt very close to losing.
The morning after Liz first slept with Billy, he sought her out deliberately, locating her in Wardrobe. Before the event, she'd confided in him, confessed her typical trepidation. A conversation that was by no means uncommon for them. What was less common was her also haltingly confessing her desire. Her strong attraction to this man, the way he made her feel and her burn to pursue that sensation further. As she spoke, her shy words brought to Jack's mind one very explicit, very intense, very potent image. An image too tangible, too transient, he couldn't put it into words even if he tried. And one which he hadn't been able to shake for the rest of the day. Or night. Or for several nights after that either.
He'd never actually thought about a man sleeping with his best friend before. And by 'sleeping' he did mean touching her and seeing her, lying with her and joining with her. It had happened, of course, he knew that intellectually. It had happened both before and after he'd known her because they'd discussed it, in that vague way that friends do. But picturing it, however unintentionally, was very different. Especially when the face of her lover was so like his own. Especially when he could just imagine her impatient little hands tearing at his clothes. Especially when he could imagine her head tipped back and her neck straining and her eyes shut and her flesh quivering. Most especially when he could picture her like that so lucidly that he could practically taste her on his tongue.
Liz hadn't changed overnight. When he found her that morning in Wardrobe, she still looked harassed as she bickered over costume changes for the dancers. There was no residual flush in her cheek or telltale spring in her step. Her clothes were no different either, she had not transformed all at once into a sexpot. She wore her same jeans and buttoned-down shirt and glasses, making his unbidden imaginings from the night prior seem rather ridiculous. In fact, to someone who knew her less, everything about Liz was exactly the same. To Jack, who knew her better than anyone, something had shifted just a little.
When he got her alone and, quite casually, asked her how her evening had gone, Liz said as little as possible and did not meet his eyes. Something inside him withered just a little. Because if it had been bad, he knows she would've told him so without hesitation. So the only question in Jack mind was just how good it really was.
A week and countless unchecked fantasies later, his suspicions were confirmed when they were sharing a glass of wine at the bar while waiting for Billy and Milton to join them. Liz was wearing red, a deep shade of it he'd never seen on her before, when she leaned in very close, lips curving up as she admitted that she finally got what all the fuss was about. Jack hadn't had the chance to reply before they were interrupted.
Liz initiated the kiss. He watched her hop down off her stool, her arms weaving fearlessly around Billy's shoulders as she planted her mouth over his. Billy muttered something about missing his 'baby' before he slid both hands down her back and kissed her a second time. The pair of them acting like they were the only two people in the entire room. Milton patted Jack's back, beaming as he looked on also. He'd said something about 'young love' to which Jack had answered something equally inane.
Milton led the way to their table, one arm around Billy's shoulders and one around Liz's. Jack followed behind with his drink in hand, listening to Milton ribbing his son about being such a lucky guy. Billy chuckled, ducking his handsome head and agreeing that Liz was definitely 'a keeper'. Liz cast a glance over her shoulder, over Milton's arm, to Jack. Her eyes twinkled with amusement as she mouthed the words: 'I'm a keeper' to him. Jack couldn't help but smile.
It was at that dinner that his competitive streak came out. He challenged Billy on everything, including his choice of dessert. He picked to pieces his new business idea and laughed when he got Liz's alma mater wrong. While Liz kicked him under the table, Milton settled each dispute like they were ten year olds, chuckling good-humouredly at what he perceived to be their banter. In truth, Billy wasn't even entering into the conflict. He was merely lobbing the ball back into his court each time with an immunity that was infuriatingly effortless.
Later, as Jack sat alone at the bar after the others had left, he realized there was no real need for Billy to compete with him. After all, he'd already won the prize.
Billy's new business scheme -- not, as it turned out, as foolish as Jack had predicted -- took him to Tokyo. And slowly, things seemed to revert to normal. Lemon worked late, didn't wear red, ate sandwiches at her desk and lost sleep -- although Jack wasn't sure whether she was losing sleep over the show or her absentee boyfriend. They went out to dinner a couple of times, just the two of them, and one time, he even persuaded her to dance with him, but only to a fast song. Another night, she called him from the bathtub to say she was microwaving donuts in her Funcooker and that it was still her most favourite thing in the whole wide world. He almost questioned her on that, but refrained.
The only thing that stopped Jack enjoying his half-brother's lengthening absence was the fact that every other conversation he had with Lemon tended to be interrupted by a phone call from 'baby' – a word he'd never imagined falling from her lips. And that every so often, he'd catch her looking at him, furtive eyes running over his face like there was something vaguely disappointing about it. He assumed at those times she was wishing he was someone else. Someone who was going to kiss her and love her and take her to bed. And if he thought there was any chance that she actually wanted him to do so, he would've. But she always turned away, averted her eyes before he could catch his breath enough to say something.
Billy retuned briefly -- initiating a whirlwind of hearty congratulations from Milton and presumably, steamy reunion sex with Lemon – but he was gone again before the New Year. So Liz and he decided unanimously to attend the Sheinhardt's New Year's Bash together. Since it was a costume ball, he had to talk her out of dressing as Princess Leia, simply because a grown man of his stature couldn't be seen in a Han Solo ensemble, no matter what the occasion. He was so relieved when she acquiesced that he agreed to her second choice without question. Which turned out well enough because he didn't need to do much but wear a suit and slick down his hair to resemble Ricky Ricardo, and the 1950's garb showcased Liz's figure rather beautifully.
She didn't don a red wig, but had her hair piled up in Lucille-Ball-like curls and painted a few freckles across her nose. He was very pleasantly surprised by the effect when she joined him in the limo, her lean legs bared to above the knee. He was also rather pleasantly surprised when he offered her his arm at the staircase and she took it, joking that if she fell she would take him with her. Jack's brain responded that he'd already fallen, but his lips merely smiled.
In fact, he couldn't recall an evening where he'd smiled so much or so readily. And not just because Liz regaled him with gags and commentary on the various costumes and couples, but because she danced with him -- not only once either. She let him hold her, dance after dance after dance, even for the slow ones. She let him draw her progressively closer til their hands were clasped over his heart and her cheek was resting on his shoulder. She danced with him even when the lyrics of the song made her retch. She danced with him even when the lobster tails were served. She danced with him even though her feet hurt and her head spun with champagne giddiness. And when someone cut in and stole her away, she deliberately creeped him out with who knows what kind of prattle so that she could be delivered back into his arms with an impish smile.
At around ten, Jack began counting down the minutes. Once, when Liz asked for the time, she got an agitated look on her face and he feared that she would cut their evening short, go home to call 'baby' and blow kisses down the phone. A moment later though, she grabbed another champagne glass from a passing waiter and winked a fake eyelash at him as she downed half of it.
At around eleven, they'd found themselves in a circle of pleasant folk, Liz deeply involved in the rowdy conversation. Another night, Jack would be interested or amused, but on this night, he was far more concerned with getting Liz alone when the clock ticked closer towards midnight. He wasn't planning on kissing her. He wasn't planning on not kissing her either. He simply wanted there to be the opportunity for it to spontaneously occur. He didn't wish to arrange it. But, by the same token, he didn't wish to miss out on it either.
At ten minutes to midnight, Jack couldn't find her. He'd lost track of her. She'd disappeared to the bathroom at some point and he got caught up in a conversation with Don Geiss who'd congratulated him on his choice of date. Don slapped him on the back, cackling that one day he was going to have to come clean and marry that batty brunette. Jack smiled, nodded and quickly excused himself.
He found her on the terrace, pulling the false eyelashes off her eyes. She swiped at her cheeks with the back of her hand and when she looked over at him, Jack couldn't tell if the wetness there was due to the extra attachments or to actual emotion. Either way, he felt the insane urge to touch her again, hold her close to his body. Music was drifting out from the ballroom and some borrowed light slanted across the stone towards them. The night air was chilly making mist puff from Lemon's lips.
He held out a hand, asking her dance once more. She shrank back against the railing though, hugging her arms about her and smiling apologetically. Jack stepped closer, silently taking off his jacket and putting it about her shoulders. She clutched the jacket closer about her, leaning back on the railing as her head tipped back to gaze up at the winter stars. He stood beside her, faced the opposite way, looking out over the city with his hands jammed in pockets. After a few minutes of silence, Auld Lang Syne began to play inside.
Jack wasn't sure who kissed who. Perhaps it was simultaneous. Perhaps it was mutual. Perhaps…not. All he knew was he gave her plenty of chances to back out, and she didn't.
They fled the party like fugitives, three minutes into the New Year.
It began to snow as their limo crept through the heavy New York traffic. Inside it was warm though, the windows fogged as Jack's fingers massaged the petals between her legs. The leather creaked and car horns blared outside in celebration as he nipped at her wide open lips, encouraged her cries and whispered his love against her hair. Her hand clamped around his wrist, her body buckling once in joy and angst and pleasure -- an image from his fantasies come vividly to life.
When she asked him why he wanted to go to her place and not his, he didn't tell the truth. He told her it was closer. But the real reason he wanted to make love to Liz in her own bed -- if they made it that far -- was that he didn't want her to be able to escape from this, or forget it, or dismiss it. If they went to his place, them sleeping together would occur in a place she rarely went to and wouldn't necessarily have to return to. He wanted her to live with the memory, he wanted her to be reminded. On some level, he wanted to reclaim her. Then plant himself in her reality so deeply, so irrevocably that she couldn't deny him. In much the same way that she'd planted herself in his life and he couldn't deny her place in his heart.
They didn't make it to her bed, as it turned out. Not the first time anyhow. Frankly, he was surprised they even made it to her apartment in time. Her panties had come off in the car while she was flat on her back, her feet on his chest. His shirt was unbuttoned by her trembling fingers in the elevator, his palms pressed into the wall behind her and their mouths fused. At her door, one step from paradise, he managed to simultaneously steal the keys from her fumbling hands, unlock the door and unzip himself, all with his eyes closed, her arms round his neck and her tongue in his mouth.
He was inside her before the door to her apartment had even clicked closed. And he'd never made a woman come from just a single, deep thrust. She was as shocked by that as he was – more probably, judging by the heated awe with which she repeated his name, her face buried in his shoulder. They stood still for a moment in the dark entryway -- breathing, entwined, joined -- whatever had been in their hands dropped to the floor, her leg lifted high on his hip, his hand clasped round her thigh. Then he lifted her, put her back against the door. She raised her head as he began to move, his throat expelling a bone-deep groan. He didn't get to enjoy her for very long though, that first time. Within a few short minutes he was wordlessly asking her permission and she was nodding, her eyes shining pinpricks of light in the dark. Jack came like he'd never come before in his life.
He needn't have worried himself about their night together being memorable. He should've known being with her would surpass any previous sexual experience he'd ever had. Not simply because of the incredible attraction that until recently had lain dormant, but because of the genuine affection that existed between them. That was something impossible to simulate or create overnight.
There was no way either of them would be able to escape the memory of their night together, or pretend it never happened. And whatever his latent motive had been, Jack still enjoyed being in her bed – when they finally got there -- being surrounded by all her Liz things and Liz smells and, afterwards, her Liz food. In the wee small hours of the new morning, they found some very interesting ways to enhance her enjoyment of diet chocolate mousse. And he was pretty sure she'd never eat cantaloupe in the same way again.
In fact, the next time Jack saw her, Liz was standing over a fruit platter at the food station outside the studio, staring and blushing profusely. She jumped when he said her name. Then let out a breath as she turned to face him. She couldn't quite meet his eyes as they exchanged a few pleasantries. And when he asked her to join him for dinner that night, at his home, she hesitated and told him she'd get back to him. Then she grabbed a can of coke and practically ran into rehearsal.
Dinner at his house turned into Liz on his table with her legs spread. Him sitting in his usual chair, making a meal of her. He'd never enjoyed dinner at home so much. Especially when she started calling his name as she came. Halfway through her second orgasm, her phone began to trill in the pocket of her jacket, slung over the chair she'd vacated. Her eyes popped open, a gasp escaping her mouth. Her body tensed for a moment, and not in a good way. Jack redoubled his efforts, sliding his hands up under her red dress and bringing her closer to his mouth. Within seconds the only name her lips were concerned with were his.
He wanted to make love to her in his bed. Because now, he wanted to be reminded. He didn't want to be haunted by images of her pleasure or phantom sounds in the back of his mind. He wanted to know it happened. He wanted evidence. He wanted to smell her on his sheets, just as he could smell her on his fingers. He wanted to remember what she looked like layed out against his pillows, the way her eyes and hips and breasts would respond to him. He wanted to keep that close, make it real. Even if it ultimately brought him pain, he wanted wake up with the memory of her and never be able to escape it.
The next morning, he woke up with the memory of her moans and touches and kisses. And the reality of her asleep in his arms. Her hair was a mess, her eye make-up smudged and her fingers were knit with his on her stomach. She breathed deeply, peacefully, her back curved into his chest and her legs tangled round his beneath the covers.
There was nothing about that moment Jack wanted to change. Nothing. But something human inside him had to push for more. He placed a kiss on her temple, whispering her name. She sighed and shifted onto her back, the sheet slipping down to reveal one breast, the nipple soft and plump, not puckered tight, like the night before. There was not much about that moment that was in need of improvement either. He almost didn't want that nipple to tighten in arousal. So instead of taking it gently between his lips like he had many times the previous night, he simply lowered his face to her breast and breathed against the little pink orb, his head rising and falling with her deep breaths. His other hand remained splayed on her stomach, beneath the sheets, his pinkie finger brushing the upper edge of her curls.
He could tell without raising his face when she opened her eyes. Her arm curled around his head, her fingers beginning to play with the ends of his spiked hair. Her movement exposed her other breast to his sight, and again, he found he had to push for more than that perfection. He moved on top of her, her limbs lax and her skin warm. Her eyes sparkled as she laughed at the state of his hair. She had a pretty impressive case of sex-head herself, but to Jack, she'd never looked more radiant. He smiled and leaned down to capture her mouth in a kiss. A kiss that ebbed and flowed and birthed itself anew. A kiss that went on and on and could've lasted all morning if not for their need of oxygen. A kiss that made his chest ache for completion, for certainty.
Sun was streaming through the windows as their hands roamed lazily, freely, revisiting all the secret spots they'd already discovered. Liz was straining beneath him, her head lifted off the pillow and her back arched. Jack rolled obligingly, feeling her stretch out on top of him, then rise above him with her hands on his stomach. She tucked her hair behind her ear before reaching down to guide him inside her. For a moment she just sat on him, dark eyes staring down at him as his hands roved her body, unable to pick a favourite place to linger.
Everything changed after that morning. Liz disappeared from work that afternoon. Then Milton called to invite him to dinner with him and 'Billy-and-Liz'. He seemed to infer rather delightedly that Billy was getting close to popping the question. Actually, he did more than infer. He suggested that Jack, knowing Liz so well, might be able to help his brother pick out a ring in a style she would appreciate. Jack had mumbled something unintelligible and accepted the invitation.
He'd accepted chiefly because if Liz and Billy were to be reunited, he wanted to be there to see it. If she was going to hold the man's hand and kiss him and murmur things in his ear like nothing had changed, he wasn't going to make it easy. He was going to do everything in his power to prevent their smooth reunion. And he didn't know whether that made him a bad brother, a bad friend, a bad son or a bad person. But he was reacting on pure instinct. Instinct not motivated by love, though he did love her, but by territoriality. Which made him feel far more entitled and enraged.
By the time evening rolled around though, all that animosity had dissipated. And in the end, Love won out. Not just his feelings for Liz either, who he certainly didn't wish to embarrass. But his genuine affection and esteem for the two men who'd let him catch a glimpse of a different kind of family life.
Even so, never had he sat through a more uncomfortable dinner. Milton smiled genially at the three of them, declaring himself the luckiest man on earth. Lemon asked countless questions about Billy's lucrative business dealings and Jack ate. It was the only thing to do. The one thing he could find to be grateful about the situation was that Liz had the sense and foresight not to wear red. Actually, she wore so much concealing black she rather looked like a nun. Not that that stopped Billy from feeling her up throughout the meal, in a way that would've been entirely appropriate a short time ago. Now, it made Liz squirm in her seat, to the point that she had to excuse herself to the bathroom numerous times.
The fourth time she did so, Jack faked a phone call and excused himself also. Once out of sight, he headed for the ladies room, loitering behind a pot plant, waiting for her to emerge. She took so long that he feared she might've made a quick getaway through the window. But eventually, reluctantly it seemed, she pushed through the door, out into the dim hall, one hand smoothing down her dress. From behind the plant, Jack captured her arm and tugged her toward him. She gasped her surprise, glancing behind as a group of ladies came out the bathroom door.
He took her further down the hall, his hand on her elbow. There was no resistance in her body as they moved as far from prying eyes as they could get. He stopped and put her against the fire escape door, the red exit light illuminating her face. She blinked up at him, hands at her sides. Now that he had her alone, he didn't know what to do, what to say. It hardly seemed real that just that morning they'd woken up together, pressed into each other's nakedness. It seemed like another life that they'd kissed one another breathless and gazed into each other's eyes as they climaxed.
Jack lifted his hands to her waist, his touch tentative as he dropped his forehead against hers. Her breath bathed his face as she lifted her hands to his cheeks. They stood like that wordlessly, for a timeless time. Then Lemon ran a thumb over his bottom lip and leaned in to kiss him, a kiss that was meant to be brief. Perhaps it was meant to say goodbye. But it ignited something altogether different. Something long hidden, now exposed and incapable of being withheld.
His hands tightened on her body. Her tongue traced his lips. And when she breathed his name -- his and no one else's -- into his open mouth, he couldn't stop himself from responding. Both hands moved round to her ass and began to bunch the skirt of her dress up into his hands. One of her hands stole between them, moving down his body, over his chest and stomach. His hips pressed against her, inviting her touch lower. Underneath her dress and panties her buttocks were warm and soft as he cupped her lovingly. And when her hand dove further down and started stroking him through his pants, her name fell from his lips like an invocation. Growing feverish, his mouth began to kiss its way down her neck, causing Liz to stifle a moan and throw back her head. And if she hadn't lent back at that precise moment and accidentally set off the fire alarm, nothing might have otherwise stopped them.
When Jack returned to the table, Liz was seated again next to Billy, her hands in her lap, her cheeks red. He excused himself, saying that the phone call had been about an urgent matter of business which needed his immediate attention. He shook hands with Milton then Billy, gave Liz a silent nod before he headed out of the restaurant and home.
Liz showed up at midnight and hit him as soon as he opened the door. She entered without being asked, ranting about him leaving her alone with the Greenes as she cast off her coat and flung it at him. She looked tired, drained, scared. Especially when she faced him, hands on hips as she told him that the Greenes had started talking about wedding plans after he left. She threw her hands up in the air, beginning to pace his living room, her voice shaking.
Jack dropped her coat on a nearby chair, moving towards her in his pyjamas. After a minute or two of watching her rant and pace, he placed himself in her path so that when she turned, she ran right into him, her balled up fists trapped against his chest. She looked up at him, blinking in shock. Then taking a breath, she admitted she had to tell Billy the truth right in front of his father, that it was awful.
"And what is the truth?" Jack asked, watching her eyes well up with tears.
Liz bit down on her lip so hard it turned white. "I'm in love with his brother," she replied eventually, gaze lowered.
Jack leant closer, a small smile on his lips. "And did you happen to also mention that he's in love with you?"
Liz let out a half-laugh, half-sob, wiping her cheek with the back of her hand: "No. I didn't want to rub it in-- and I wasn't really sure-- and he's your brother!"
"Half-brother," Jack corrected calmly, hand smoothing over her shoulder: "and he will forgive, in due time. That's what families do."
Her hands loosened from their tight balls, resting flat on his chest. "Do you always know everything about everything?" she sighed.
His arms secured round her, hands resting at the small of her back as he murmured: "With any luck, you'll get the rest of our lives together to figure that out. Let's…leave a little mystery, shall we?"
She smiled and hiccupped, eyes sliding up to his: "Okay." Then she arched up to kiss him with salty lips, muttering: "I love you."
He lapped the fallen tears from her mouth, kissing her deeper as she began to climb up his body. With his assistance, her legs and arms managed to encircle him. And only when she lifted her head to change the angle of their kiss, did he start to carry her towards the bedroom, her words echoing in his ears.
Jack never thought he would fall for Liz. Not half as hard as he did. Nor did he imagine that Liz would fall for him. She was free to love and date and sleep with whomever she chose, of course.
Luckily, Liz chose him.