Title: Under Her
Rating: K+ / PG
Disclaimer: I do not own 30 Rock, but I do love it lots.
Season: 4. Set a couple of weeks after episode 4x10, Black Light Attack!
Summary: Apparently there is one lie Jack just won't tell…
A/N: I actually started this fic in January after seeing the episode. I'm so pleased to have finished it. Hope you enjoy.
Dedication: To Caroline: Thank you for posting your fic :)
"Jack, you have to tell Danny that you're over me," Liz proclaims as she walks into Jack's office unannounced.
If she had been paying attention, she might have noticed that Jonathan was not at his desk and therefore was probably in the inner office. But she wasn't really in a 'thinking things through' mood.
The younger man's eyes widen at her demand and he looks between Liz and his boss with an expression of pained shock. Jack receives puppy dog-eyed pouts, while each turn towards Liz is a gradually more intense glare.
Jack is just looking at her with a bemused frown, paying no attention to the puzzle-solvers at work in Jonathan's mind.
Liz does her best to also ignore the infatuated assistant, but can't help shooting a couple of smug smirks in his direction. She can practically see his mind on overdrive behind his eyes, frantically trying to figure out when Jack was 'under' her.
Eventually Jonathan leaves because he gets none of the attention he desires, and Liz and Jack are left alone. He sits down at his desk as he casually remarks, "I don't have to do anything, Lemon."
"Oh come on, Jack! Why not? You're over him. You guys haven't been anywhere in weeks."
"I can't believe that you want to start that up again --"
"I don't want to 'start that up again', Jack. But I bumped into a guy outside the building earlier. He was tall, dark, helped me up from the floor, and we were smiling and flirting…"
Jack's expression is telling her that he very much doubts that was as positive as she is making it sound, but she ignores him and continues.
"… and he was just about to hand me his card when Danny appeared, whispered to him, and he quickly withdrew the card and practically ran away."
"I don't see how Danny thinking that I am over you would have changed that."
"He pointed up to your office while he was whispering, Jack. He's warning every man I meet off me."
"Lemon, that one incident is hardly proof of that. And if men can be scared away that easily then they are not worth your time."
Hearing that from Jack momentarily throws Liz and she loses track of her side of the argument. Jack usually points out all her faults; makes her see that she is the reason she is still single. But that actually sounded like he was… complimenting her.
She frowns at him and he frowns back, as if wondering why she is silent. She shakes her head to clear it of all thoughts that anything has changed between them.
"It… It wasn't just that one incident," she insists, recalling the other evidence she has brought with her. "Last week, when we were all at that new club…"
Jack nods, apparently remembering the evening.
"…Every man who came near me, Danny would swoop in, whisper, point or nod towards you then disappear again. And the men went too… I didn't really realise what was going on until this morning - when he definitely pointed at your office."
"I still think you are imagining --"
"No, Jack, I'm not imagining it. I was chatting to this really handsome guy on the elevator yesterday and he was just about to give me his number when Danny darted forward knocking him into the wall!"
"Lemon, that sounds like it's Danny who needs to be over you, not me," Jack commented, narrowing his eyes at her.
"Danny whispered to him as he helped him back to his feet, and then unnamed handsome man didn't want to know… Please, Jack," she implored, "Tell him you're over me."
Jack stares at her again. She can tell by the slight crease between his eyebrows and the narrowing of his eyes that he is thinking; she hopes he is thinking about her request.
A few seconds of this silence soon has Liz impatient. Jack's eyes are studying her intensely, but she cannot deduce what his thoughts are.
She's about to tell him to forget that she said anything, hoping to escape the ridicule that must be coming, when he breaks the eye contact, sighing heavily as he casts his gaze down towards his desk.
"I can't tell Danny that I'm over you, Lemon," he says, dejectedly.
Though she has been expecting those words, she had not expected the deflated tone that he speaks them in. She doesn't have time to process that though, before he continues, "I'm not prepared to lie."
Liz rolls her eyes at his lame excuse. "You had no problem lying when you told him you were in love with me. And that was when the two of you were having your bromance!"
"I didn't lie, Lemon."
"Fine, bending the truth or whatever you want to call it. Do that again… Just fix it, Jack. Please? Otherwise I will be alone for the rest of my life and I assure you I will spend all that free time hounding you because it will be your fault!" she threatens him, resting her fists on his desk and leaning towards him, menacingly (though he no doubt isn't at all intimidated by her. For a start, he isn't even looking at her.). "Is that what you want? Me, there, practically every minute of every day for the rest of your life?"
Jack raises his eyes to meet hers again and she is startled by what she sees in them. She convinces herself she must be misreading them, because, for a brief moment, she thinks he actually considers answering her question. And it looks like the answer would be 'yes'.
The surprise and confusion steals her words and she is left with nothing to do but stare right back at him. And it is as she does this that she realises that she didn't misunderstand what she saw. His look now is telling her that he knows that she knows. And he doesn't know what to say.
If he's relying on her to speak first then she's pretty sure they could be there all day. What is she supposed to say? Jack won't tell Danny that he's over her, because he isn't; because he was being truthful when he said he's in love with her; because he does want her there practically every minute of every day for the rest of his life. How is she supposed to respond to that?
She is frozen in place, leaning over the desk, and Jack seems just as trapped, looking up at her. Now would be a good time for Jonathan to barge in with a fictional emergency as an excuse to see what is going on. But Liz can't help but think that, this time, he might stay away for fear of discovering Jack literally under Liz.
It is when she experiences a rush of anticipation at the thought of Jack being literally under her that Liz is snapped out of the moment and stands up. "I'm gonna go," she declares with a nod full of feigned confidence. "Pete's out, so no doubt Jenna and Tracey have destroyed something by now," she rambles, nervously, as she finds herself hovering by the desk instead of actually moving to leave. Is she waiting to see if he'll stop her?
"You really shouldn't leave them unsupervised," Jack comments, but it lacks his usual patronising, reprimanding tone, as if he's saying it just for something to say.
It is getting too weird now but Liz just can't seem to leave. Though she is standing straight now, and he has sat back in his seat, their eyes have never left each other. It is like they are having one spoken conversation about nothing of importance, and another far more important unspoken one. The problem being that neither one of them is willing to be the first to acknowledge what they are 'unspeaking' about so that they can talk about it.
Liz shrugs. "Well how boring would our weeks be if they didn't get chance to cause serious trouble once in a while?" she quips, confirming that it won't be her that changes the subject.
Jack seems disappointed and, after a moment's silence, informs her, "If you want me to lie for you, Lemon, I will."
Surprised by that sudden switch, Liz feels her heart sink a little at his offer. She knows he is saying that he will let her go to find another man. And, as quickly as he brought this out in the open, she realises that she doesn't want any other man.
It isn't an easy revelation to handle. He's her boss; her mentor; her friend. He can be patronising and judgemental, but also (and often in the same sentence) supportive, protective and sweet. He is forever telling her that she needs to dress better, or eat better, or have less food in her hair, but, even as he says it, he looks like he adores her. He spends more time with her than he probably needs to; has her join him on business trips that she probably doesn't need to go on; and worries about her more than is necessary. He is always there whenever she needs him - whether it is personal or professional; he'll pick her up when her poor choice in men lets her down… And he will wait, patiently watching her, while she realises that the positive soon outweighs the negative; and while it occurs to her that he experienced all of these epiphanies a while ago.
He smiles, as her lips form an, "Oh," but no sound comes out.
"Welcome to my page, Lemon," he says, softly.
There is an understanding, and sparkle of anticipation, in their eyes when they hold each other's gaze now and Liz clears her throat before telling him, "I don't think I'll need you to lie to Danny."
Jack nods, a smile tugging at his lips.
Liz feels her cheeks blush as she smiles back. Her stomach somersaults with pleasurable anxiety. "I probably should go and check on Tracey and Jenna though," she says, conscious that a major incident would not be the best memory of the beginning of… this. Also, she knows that they should talk, but thinks she needs some time to absorb it all and convince herself that it really is happening.
Jack nods again, his eyes almost hypnotising with the way they hold her attention.
So Liz nods and allows her attention to be held for a few more seconds. And then she forces herself to break their eye contact and turn away. She can feel Jack's gaze on her back as she moves across the room and can sense his contended grin.
With her hand on the door, she hesitates before opening it, needing to know that this isn't all some illusion that will shatter once she leaves this room. She slowly turns back and, leaning against the door for support, says, "And we probably should have dinner later."
Jack just nods again and Liz thinks that 'infuriating' should have been on her list of the negative things about Jack. She remembers that one more negative wouldn't make a difference though.
"Together," she clarifies, making sure that they're still on the same page.
Jack lets out a soft chuckle now. "Of course. I'll make a reservation. Somewhere not too classy."
The look of absolute adoration that accompanies his teasing conclusion to that statement is almost overwhelming. Liz isn't sure if anyone has ever looked at her like that before.
"Okay then," she agrees, and feels her lips curve into the widest smile as she watches Jack's do the same.
When she finally does open the door and leave the room, her ecstatically happy self finds Jonathan seated behind his desk, and glaring straight at her. She gets the feeling that he has been sitting like that since he returned to his post.
She cannot resist keeping her smile in place and bidding him a "Good afternoon," in a chirpy sing song voice as she departs.
'Unnamed handsome man' is in the elevator again when she walks in. He shuffles back into the far corner when he sees her and she finds that she likes that her boyfriend is so powerful that other men will hide in corners to avoid his wrath.
Jack Donaghy is (very soon to be, officially) her boyfriend.
It isn't exactly a title that suits him: But she certainly likes the concept.