Title: This is Gonna Hurt Like Hell
Disclaimers: See part one.
Summary: Some things are temporary.
"Am I in heaven here or am I in hell?"
Jack wants to take her out of the city for the summer. She can't travel far, so he takes her home. They rent a little cottage in White Haven and spend most of their time with her family. Liz and Mitch play every board game known to man whilst Dick and he watch golf and football on television. Margaret flutters about, endlessly trailed by Champy, taking care of everyone and revelling in it.
For the most part, it feels like a regular family vacation. Not that Jack's ever had a regular family vacation. But it feels like what he imagined it would feel like. Except for the fact that the love of his life must carry various pills around in her purse and barely goes a day without barfing her meals away. Or that she still won't take her headscarf off when they're making love. Or that he can't tell sometimes whether she really is fine and having fun or just pretending to be fine and having fun. Liz assures him it's the former.
One morning, as they are waking up together, happily entwined, the birds outside singing and the sun already high in the sky, Jack thinks it's the perfect time to suggest they get married. Liz thinks he's joking and continues dozing. But when he mentions the idea to Margaret, she squeals with delight, and eagerly offers for them to have the ceremony in Liz's childhood backyard. Then she rushes up the stairs to get her own wedding dress from the back of her closet. Sitting on the floor, playing Monopoly with Mitch and patting Champy, Liz shakes her head at him and still thinks he's joking.
She ceases to think he's joking when he starts inviting all their friends from New York to the event. At which point, she performs a minor meltdown that Jack resolves by kissing her. This seems effective, but she adamantly refuses to be married in her mother's wedding dress, which is fine by Jack. Cerie collects and brings her ham napkin from New York. But when it arrives, it no longer fits her, something that Liz shrugs off. She says she can't get married in her backyard in a four thousand dollar gown anyway.
The night before they marry, Liz comes to bed without her headscarf on. He's seen her without it before, but she tells him she wants him to be aware of what he is getting hitched to. Jack tells her he is aware. He removes her nightie. Kisses her between the legs until her body experiences bliss. And then tries, like he always does, not to think it's the last time when he makes love to her.
She wears a simple sundress and a wide-brimmed hat. He doesn't even wear a jacket or tie for them to exchange their vows. The day is mercilessly hot but clear and cloudless. Champy keeps humping Jenna's leg and there aren't many seats, so some of their friends have to stand in the shade of the trees Liz climbed as a kid. There is no walking down the aisle as there is no aisle. And the Justice of the Peace is late so they just gather around once he arrives. Unfortunately, he refers to her once as 'Lez' but it's a mere slip of the tongue. Mitch does his part and remembers the rings. It's at this point that both Margaret and Dick begin to cry. No else allows themselves to.
For their honeymoon, they go to the hospital.
When TGS returns for the subsequent season, Liz doesn't return with it. After their marriage, Jack had all her belongings packed up and moved into his apartment, which is where she now spends most of her time. She still watches the show and occasionally, she will call or email Pete with a sketch idea. One of the most successful to make it to air is set in a hospital ward. Which is where she spends the remainder of her time.
Jack tells her he loves her everyday before he goes to work. And she tells him everyday that she's feeling better. This, he wants to believe. When people at work ask how she is doing, he always tells them that Liz is 'better everyday'. His faith – and hers – is validated when he meets her for lunch one day after her doctor's appointment. She's wearing her purple hat and a small, happy smile when he arrives. It's the first time either of them has even mentioned the word remission.
Jack can't help surging to his feet, pulling her into a hug, right in the middle of the over-crowded bistro. If it were a bar he would've shouted everyone drinks. But it's not, so everyone gets a bagel on him, whatever kind they want, even blueberry. He doesn't care, he'll buy the whole blessed city a bagel of their choosing. Because at last, his wife is well.
Liz is back at work by the end of the season. They watch the finale together. From the studio floor, this time. He doesn't even care that the show isn't that funny. He laughs anyway, rather loudly as Jenna, Josh and Tracy do what they do best. Act like unbridled idiots. Off to one side, towards the back, he stands with Liz, her back against his front and his arms wrapped around her.
His hands rest on the stomach that soon he wants to fill with a child. Liz's doctor has given them every possible assurance that the debilitating disease that had taken such a hold on her, that threatened to take her from him, was itself only a temporary thing and shouldn't return. As such, he has given them the go ahead, so they've officially started trying. Since going into remission, her body has filled out some and her hair has already started to grow back, darker and curlier than before. In her eyes also, there is the rare gleam of someone who has been to the brink and come back with an altered view of life. A life that now includes him, at her side and in her heart.
As Jenna sings them out for another year, Liz turns in his arms, smiling up at him in the dark. He smiles back as her arms snake around his neck and she pulls him down for a kiss. He kisses her with all the passion he held back in those uncertain months, grips her tight, as if he'll never let go. And he never will. Hopefully, he'll never have to. At least, not for a very long time. Not until they've lived their life.
Before the post-show chaos and celebration erupts, Liz pulls back and asks if he wants to get out of there. Jack knows this is her way of suggesting they go home and make love for the rest of the night. Or as long as they'll both last. He takes her hand and instantly heads for the exit.
Moments later, the cheering and farewelling commences.
As they walk down the corridor, hand in hand, Liz asks: "We are coming back next season. Right, Jack?"
Jack looks over at her and smiles. "Absolutely."