Title: Spice It Up
Rating: T?, not totally innocent...
Disclaimer: Tina's etc.
Spoilers: nothing major
Summary: Jack knows the secret password.
A funny thing happens when he's telling Lemon about the dinner he had the night before. Not funny ha-ha, but funny strange. Very strange indeed. It's certainly never happened before during their almost daily discussions, many of which diverge onto the topic of mouth pleasures. While Liz's excitement is mostly sparked by the newest food to come ready-made, in over-sized portions to be heated in her Funcooker, Jack's tastebuds are generally stimulated by the best cuisine on offer in their fine, diverse city. On this morning, he is mid-sentence, describing the amazing dessert he'd liberally partaken of at New York's newest dining hotspot, when - without any warning or apparent reason - Liz's face goes blank. She rises to her feet, hands moving to the hem of her shirt. She lifts it, right up over her head, then drops it at her feet. Then she stands there, in the middle of his office. Totally still, absolutely silent, staring dead ahead, breath calm, clad in only her jeans and bra.
Understandably, Jack is rendered speechless. This is odd behaviour. And from a woman whose oddest behaviours have ceased to stun him. But this is remarkably odd and unprecedented behaviour for Liz Lemon, the last of the juvenile prudes. She's probably the only woman in New York who doesn't own a bra that isn't black, white or beige. The one she is wearing currently is white and plain and one strap looks dangerously close to snapping loose. Also, the material cupping her has worn quite noticeably thin. Something that Jack happens to note simply because he is in the habit of noting minor details. He rises from his chair, opposite the sofa where Liz was seated until a moment prior, and casts a look around his office. He's not sure why because they are alone. And this is not the sort of practical joke Lemon would take part in, so he's fairly certain there are no hidden cameras capturing the moment.
He peers at her blank face, calls her name a few times, both of them. When he receives no response, he steps closer, clicking his fingers in front of her eyes. But Liz just stands there, breathing deeply, seemingly spellbound. Which is when Jack recalls her mentioning something about a trip to an R-Rated hypnotist with her staff. It was meant as a team-bonding activity of some sort. Jack did not go, as it was hardly his idea of entertainment. He certainly had no wish to see that group of unkempt miscreants she ruled over getting naked and tonguing each other while in a dreamlike state. The only thing he recalls about it is Lemon telling him the morning after what a waste of time and money it had been because the dude didn't do squat. She didn't believe in hypnotism anyway, she'd told him as they'd squeezed onto the crowded elevator. And even if she did, she didn't believe her mind was as susceptible to suggestion as others might be, she didn't think herself capable of allowing someone to have control over her like that. Jack had only been half listening at the time, his mind on more pressing matters.
She certainly had his full attention now though.
It's hardly the first time Jack has seen Liz Lemon partially undressed. Far from it. There was the Six Sigma conference, first of all. But she was way over the other side of the room then, a room filled with aghast strangers. And she'd been busy saving his ass, so that's what he was more focused on. Her act of bravery, her act of loyalty and her undeniably atrocious dancing moves. Not that he didn't notice…other things. Because he did. There have been other minor instances too, where he walked into her office after she pulled an all-nighter and found her changing her wrinkled, food-stained shirt for a fresh one. Or found her freshening up after a long flight in more inventive ways.
This is different though. For one thing, they are completely alone in his office. His office that she always complains about being too cold. As it is this morning- causing the obvious effect on her barely concealed flesh. For another, this is not a fleeting, accidental glimpse. She's not dancing either, atrociously or otherwise. This is Liz, topless and complaint under his gaze. Jack turns away a moment, to think. He considers giving Jonathan a call but he doubts his assistant was present at the staff bonding ritual either. He could call downstairs to one of her staff, see what they remembered of the night's antics. But he's not sure how to do that without revealing his predicament and he'd like to save her that embarrassment if possible. He's sure he can figure this out on his own anyway. He'll give it a shot at least. There's no way he's less smart than a cheap, crude carney.
Jack turns back, decided, determined. Liz hasn't moved a muscle. And he can't help thinking that this would be a whole lot easier if she was wearing her glasses. Well…a little easier. But for whatever reason, this morning she is not. Liz is glasses-less as well as shirtless. But he will not be distracted, he is not…distracted. At all. From what he knows of hypnotism there's usually a trigger. A word. Something innocuous sounding. Jack mentally retraces what he'd been saying just prior to her rising and disrobing, searching for something that might have triggered her reaction. He selects particular words that stand out to him and repeats them aloud, some more than once. Nothing happens though, not until he gets to the dessert course. Nothing happens until he says:
Then, her body jolts, her hands lift, slowly reaching around in back of her.
When Jack realizes what she's about to do, he leaps forward. "Whoa, whoa, whoa!" His hands cover hers, capture them, stopping her from proceeding any further.
Liz fights him, she can't help it, her face contorting, though her eyes remain glazed. After a moment or two, she relaxes back into her trance, forgetting the urge to strip, hands lowering back to her sides. Jack releases a breath. He re-fastens the bra clasp, trying not to notice how her small breasts are now brushing his suited chest. And how her breath has increased with their mini struggle. And how her hair smells. And that the skin of her shoulder goosebumps with the brush of his breath. He takes a steps back, clears his throat.
Right. So. Now he knows what not to say. He just has to figure out the antidote. Possibly best to steer clear of all spices, flavors and foods. So what would be the opposite? Animal, mineral, vegetable. Animal…? Something about this rings a bell. She mentioned that, the morning on the elevator, he's sure of it. The screen above his fireplace happens to be showcasing an oil painting of a magnificent stallion, so Jack decides to start there. He stands to one side of the statue of Liz and says clearly:
Not a thing. Not even a twitch.
Still nothing. This might take awhile.
Jack takes a deep breath. "Ah…Cowboy."
Liz sighs. Softly. Barely. He takes this as encouragement. He takes it as a clue that he is on the right track. He peels his eyes off her and begins to pace. But as he does, he spots her shirt on the rug, at her feet. He's not sure why he didn't think of it before, but what would Lemon think if she came to missing that rather pivotal piece of clothing? Especially since she seemed so adamant that nothing or nobody could have this kind of effect on her? Jack picks up the shirt, still warm from her skin. He unbuttons it, then dresses her like a doll, weaving one limp arm into it, then the other, then sealing her up.
He begins to pace again, walking up and down the carpet and tossing out any word that comes to mind. He sticks fairly closely to the horse theme, although he's never realized before how intensely sexual many of the words associated with horses and riding are. He dismisses this random notion and continues on. But after a good few minutes of trying, Liz remains in her trance. Jack stops where he is, behind the sofa, staring at her back. Then he tosses out:
Something happens. He can't see her face. But he can tell. He can see the change in her body. He can see her come back to herself. Her shoulders slump. Her face turns one way, then the other. Then she faces him, eyes finding him, blinking at him confusedly. She pouts, looking like she's lost something. She glances behind herself as if the answer to her confusion is back there. Then her mouth opens, one hand lifts to touch her chest.
"Was I…saying something?" she asks uncertainly.
Jack just stares at her, oddly pleased to hear her voice.
"No…" she answers herself, frowning. "Were you…were you saying something…just now?"
Jack clears his throat, gathers his wits. "I was telling you about dinner last night."
"Right," she nods, catching up. "Yeah. You, ah…you went to that new Indian joint."
"With some lady who doesn't eat."
"And had some spicy dessert thing."
"Gulab Jamun," he tells her. "It was…very tempting."
Liz makes a face and seems to dismiss her temporary memory lapse. "Sounds weird to me." She starts to head to the door, dragging her feet. "Spices should stay were they belong. Like on lamb chops. And in moussaka. They shouldn't be in desserts. Only sugar. And cream. And chocolate. And lots of it."
Jack steps over to the door, opening it for her. "Well, Lemon, some spices can be quite sweet." His gaze drops to the 'v' of her blouse of its own accord. "Surprisingly…sweet…"
She glances down, brushes a hand over herself as if ridding herself of errant crumbs. "No, Jack. Spices are spicy. That's why they're called spices. Name me one spice that's sweet."
Jack resists a smile, tries like hell to resist her question. "One?"
She nods then crosses her arms over her chest, making her loose blouse pull tight over her bosom. "Come on. Gimme one."
Jack stalls. He should tell her, he should absolutely tell her. Like, now. This is not information he should have. It's not fair that he should hold this power over her. Because he can't trust himself not to use it. He should not use it. He should not want to. But she looks so damn defiant and over something so typically petty that it can't be entirely his fault that he considers wielding his secret power. Just the once. And he'll make it up to her. He'll tell her gently, maybe take her to dinner, somewhere nice. Just not anywhere spicy, obviously.
Liz tips up her chin. "So…?"
Jack closes the door again. He smiles. And answers: "Nutmeg?"