Title: For Your Consideration

Author: Mindy35

Rating: K+, adult concepts

Disclaimer: Not mine. No money etc

Spoilers: Nope.

Pairing: Jack/Liz only

Summary: They should be an option.

-x-x-x-

So.

She's made up her mind.

She's gonna take a breath. She's gonna lift her hand. She's gonna knock on his door. And when Jack calls out 'come in', Liz is gonna walk right in there and ask. No backing out this time. She's just gonna go for it. Because she's forty. Forty. And it's freaking her out. She's supposed to be married with kids by now, like any normal, sane person. That is what she wants, what she has always wanted. A normal, settled, happy life. Only she has yet to find one single person she can care about for a sustained period, one person she can stand to be around for more than a few months.

Except that…she has.

That's kind of the point. Because having recently realized this, she now needs to step up. She needs to be braver than she has been, more honest than she has been. She needs to be open and positive. Jack was the one who told her that, that she needs to open herself up to all opportunities. If she wants to have it all, then she can't afford to rule out anyone. She can't afford to rule out Jack.

That's what this is really about. That's the bottom line here. Because honestly - really and truly honestly - Jack should be an option for her. Jack should always have been an option. She knows it, she's always known it. She should have considered this ages ago. She should have admitted it years ago. And who knew, maybe Jack always knew this too, on some level. Maybe he has considered her in the same way she is now considering him. It's possible. And while the thought may have made her feel weird and nervous in the past, now…? Now it just makes her feel happy. And hopeful. Because however strange the idea of them as a real thing might have seemed initially - a very, very long time ago - it never entirely deserted her. It's always been there between them. This thing that they never properly acknowledged.

Until now. Now, she's gonna acknowledge it. She's ready to acknowledge it. She's gonna ignore all the silent rules they've set. She's gonna break through all those dumb barriers. She's gonna put it all out there. She's gonna go for it. With Jack. Finally. And she is so hoping he doesn't just laugh and shoot her down. Though for him to do that, she will actually have to find enough guts to get the words out this time. This is her third attempt at this. Third and final. Because she is absolutely going to do it this time. This is it. It's time. She's going to ask Jack out.

She is.

Probably.

Or…you know…as soon as she can manage to lift her hand and knock on the freaking door. Really shouldn't be that hard. She knocks on his door every day, pretty much. Except for the times she doesn't knock at all, which is a lot. Still, she should be able to do it now. Maybe she just needs another moment though, another looooooong, deeeeeeep breath. Or two. Or three…Before she is totally ready though, Jonathan swings the door open, shrieking like a little girl when he sees her just standing there, silently lurking. He puts a fluttery hand to his chest, breathing deeply to collect himself. Then he shoots her a squinty-eyed look and brushes by her, deliberately knocking her shoulder with his.

"Lemon." Jack spots her and waves her inside. "Come on in." He is standing in the middle of the room, dressed in a tux. Knowing Jack, it's just one in a whole battalion of similar looking monkey suits.

She enters, eyeing this get-up. "Is it after six already?"

Jack does the same to her, gaze running over her jeans and spaghetti-sauce red sweater, making her think that maybe she should've changed before coming up. "It is," he answers, tugging at the stiff, white cuffs encircling his wrists. "No plans tonight, Lemon? It's Saturday. I thought you'd decided to put yourself out there. Open yourself up to all offers."

"Uh huh. I did. I mean, I am."

"Glad to hear it."

Liz draws in a breath, opens her mouth to say more- then shuts again it as Jonathan hurries back in with a fancy box. He oh-so-carefully extracts a little flower from it, which he then begins to attach to Jack's lapel with meticulous love and care. Liz shakes her head at this pathetic display. She bets this is the best part of his whole day, like dressing up his own live Ken doll. This is the stuff of Jonathan's homoerotic dreams, she's sure of it.

"Well then?" Jack prompts, calling her back to their conversation. "What's the problem? What seems to be holding you back? Need I remind you that women your age-"

"You need not, "she huffs, hitching her butt on the arm of his couch and getting comfortable. She feels like enjoying one more minute of being around Jack before things get totally awkward. Which they're gonna do. Because she's gonna ask him out in under a minute and then all bets are off. "But, ah…the offers are not exactly pouring in, Jack."

Jack nods, chin tipped up as he patiently waits for Jonathan to finish adorning him. "Perhaps you will have to do the offering then. Perhaps you need to go out and find-" he glances over at her, waves a hand, "whatever it is you want."

Liz nods, unable to help a small smile. "See, I knew you'd say that."

Jonathan finishes, patting his boss' chest once before retreating. Jack just ignores him, buttoning his jacket and thereby making himself utterly perfect. At least, his assistant seems to think so. "So what can do for you, Lemon?"

"Oh-" She straightens, shaking her head. "It can…wait."

Jonathan shoots her another evil look. Because that's generally his cue to get lost and he knows it. Instead of retreating to his station like a good little dogsbody though, he goes to fix Jack a drink. Liz feels like sticking her tongue out at him. Because the weird little sibling rivalry thing he has with her is annoying on most days. But on this particular day, it's really getting in her way. She refrains from showing him her displeasure though. Because such behavior is not going to help her case. If she wants to date Jack - and she's pretty sure she does - she might have to modify her behavior a little to be the sort of lady he would actually consider dating. Not that Jack wouldn't already know what he was getting into. He would. He's well aware of her more juvenile tendencies. And she's not sure wearing a dress up here and being all nice to Jonathan would lead him to believe she'd suddenly reformed into what he's always said she should try to be.

She waves a hand at his tux, shoots him a smile. "Big night tonight, huh? Hot date?"

Jonathan snorts, no doubt thinking that she has the hots for Jack and always has done. Probably because he has the hots for Jack and always has done. He probably can't fathom anyone not being all into the great and powerful Jack Donaghy. Not that he is completely incorrect. She's not not attracted to Jack. Otherwise she would not be doing this. Not that she's done anything yet. Yet. She will. But she's got to get herself off Jonathan and onto Jack. Bad choice of words, but Liz shifts her attention to Jack, determined not to be distracted from her purpose by his hovering assistant.

"Actually, I'll be flying solo," Jack answers her. "There's going to be some important people attending tonight and I need to be free to circulate. Dates just tend to get in the way at this sort of thing."

Liz nods, recalling the launch party he mentioned that morning. And that's one more reason why she has to get up the guts to ask him out. Because until she does, it's all she can think about when she's in his company. She keeps drifting off, losing the thread of their conversations. Every time she sees him, it feels like a missed opportunity. It feels like she's hiding something or not saying something and Jack can always tell. She ends up making up lame excuses for her preoccupation like…her favourite hotdog vendor had a heart attack. This particular excuse, Jack managed to parlay into a lecture on her bad eating habits. Like his were any better. Point being…to do this already.

Jack accepts his drink from Jonathan then waves him away like an annoying gnat. Liz waits until she hears the door click shut behind him, leaving them alone. There is a brief silence, which to Jack probably seems insignificant. To her, it isn't. She takes a breath. She stands, straightening her shoulders.

"So. Jack."

Jack lowers his glass from his lips, seeming to sense something in her tone, in her stance. "Yes, Lemon?"

She lifts her hands to adjust her frames, then thinks dammit, should've taken them off. But no. No, this is better. She looks casual. She looks normal. And Jack knows what she looks like with and without her glasses. Surely that is not going to make a huge difference when he gives her his final answer on whether or not this is actually going to happen. Whether or not she has a hope in hell here.

"I did wanna ask you something actually," she says, and her voice sounds pretty normal, not too shaky. Which gives her the guts to take a step towards him. Just the one. No need to be rash.

Jack cocks his head. "Yes?"

She opens her mouth. "I…er…I, um…" Excellent start. Just say it, nerd!

Jack waits a moment, lifts a brow. "Is this about the sketch involving-"

"No," she interrupts, shaking her head. "No, it's not about that. It's- I- I wanted to ask you…I wanted to see if…"

She lifts her head to see Jack giving her a perplexed, impatient look. The one he usually gives her when he thinks she's behaving like a freak show and needs to pull it together. And suddenly, with that one look, she doesn't know what she's doing. She doesn't know what the hell she was thinking, why she ever thought she could or should do this. She doesn't want this. He won't want this. He won't even consider it. This is ridiculous. This is the dumbest idea ever. She should…find someone else to ask out, someone who doesn't think she's crazy. Someone who doesn't drive her crazy. Someone she's not completely crazy about.

Liz laughs nervously, waves a hand. "You know what? It's really nothing. It's not important. It-…don't worry about it."

"Are you sure?" he asks as she heads for the door, as fast as she can.

"Yes. Absolutely." She opens the door. But she can't make herself go through it. "Or…no." Liz closes it again, her eyes screwed shut. She takes a moment then turns back, faces him, heads determinedly toward him. But she diverts her course, heading for his alcohol stash instead. "Do you mind if I-?" She doesn't wait for an answer. She just pours one of whatever the hell he is having.

Jack takes a step towards her. "Ah, Lemon, you might not wish to-"

She downs the whole thing before he can stop her, choking as the liquid scorches its way down her throat. It makes her blood pump faster and her limbs go weak and her face feel hot. Jack moves over to her, patting her back as she coughs and splutters. He chuckles in sympathy, pouring her a water and lifting it to her lips. She gulps it gratefully, splutters some more then blurts out between coughs:

"Will you…go out…with me?"

Jack goes silent while she hacks away a bit more, her cheeks burning. "I beg your pardon?" he murmurs, moving back slightly to look at her.

Liz snatches the waterglass from him, swallows another mouthful of it. "I…I am asking…I'm asking if you'd…have dinner. With me. Some time. Some night. If you'd consider-"

"Do you mean like," he pauses, expression incredulous, "like a date?"

"Yes," she gulps. "Or no. Not like a date, but an actual date. A real thing. With you and-"

"Yes," he interjects.

She freezes in her hunched-over position, her eyes flicking up to meet his more steady gaze. She blinks at him with wet eyes. "You- I'm sorry…what?"

Jack just smiles at her. "You asked, Lemon. And I'm answering. I'm putting you out of your misery. I'm saying yes."

"You are?" She straightens. "You are. Oh…" She nods a few times, somewhat stunned. "O-kay…" She did it. She actually did it. She did what she came to do. And now she and Jack are going to go out. On a date. With each other. At a place. And, jeez…then what? She glances about the room, searching for a little guidance.

"Lemon, why do you look lost?" Jack asks, peering at her face.

"I just asked you out," she mutters haltingly.

"Yes, I know."

"And you said…yes."

"I know. I was there."

"Well…this is weird."

"I'm just as astonished as you seem."

"So…" she feels her brows creeping upwards. "Now what do I do?"

Jack laughs softly, takes the glass from her hand and paces it on the silver tray with its friends. "I believe you already have my number."

She nods. "Guess so, yeah."

"Well then…" He clears his throat, tilting a little closer to her, "Perhaps you could simply say that you will call me soon to set something up."

"Alright." She shuffles on the spot a moment. Then she tells him: "So I'm gonna call you to set something up then, Jack."

"Very well," he nods. "When should I expect your call?"

"Oh. Um…" she guesses the right answer would be: "Monday?"

"I'll look forward to it," he murmurs, eyeing her with barely concealed amusement and…something else she can't pinpoint.

Despite the weird, lingering look, Liz assumes this is the end of their conversation. After all, Jack has his fancy thing to get to and she has to get busy on mentally replaying every excruciating moment of the last few minutes until she wants to eat herself into a coma. That should take care of the rest of her weekend very nicely. The good news is that it's over now. The better news is, Jack said yes. Liz sends him a little smile, one that probably looks as pained as it feels, then she starts back towards the door.

Jack cocks his head to one side, watching her retreat. "See, Lemon, you just got yourself a date and a very impressive one, if I do say so myself. Now was that really so very difficult?"

"Uh, yes," she mutters, still backing away. "Yes, it was. That was awful and- just awful and I'm never doing it again. Ever."

Her back hits door and she frantically feels behind her back for the doorknob. When she finds it, she twists it and practically falls out the door, giving Jonathan another minor scare. He yelps from the safety of his chair, phone pressed to his ear. His beady little eyes track her as she heads for the outer door- then stops. Despite wanting nothing more than to go home and dig into some cheese and maybe down a few glasses of wine to ease her humiliation, Liz turns. She walks back, knocks on Jack's door and doesn't wait for a response before poking her head round the door.

"Hey…" Her eyes find him still standing by the drinks tray, fresh glass in hand. "Hey, Jack…you didn't say yes just to prove a point, did you? Just to…encourage me to ask out other dudes or…be better at dating or something? I mean…did you?"

Jack smiles, takes a few steps towards her. "No. I said yes only because I wanted to."

"Good. Well…good." She lets out a breath, looks down at her shoes. "That was all I- okay. Well, have fun at your thing then."

"I will," he murmurs, still smiling. "And Lemon. Don't forget-"

Liz glances back to see him make a fake phone with one hand and mouthe to her a smug: 'Call me.' She rolls her eyes and leaves.

TBC…