Title: Seven Minutes in Heavem
Word Count: 1,493
Spoilers: Up to Season 2: Reunion
Summary: What really went down in the closet at Liz's high school reunion?
The empty beer bottle lands on Liz, and Jack suppresses a smile. Had it been one of the other women, with their frizzy eighties 'dos and blue eyeshadow, he would have to endure an endless seven minutes in hell. But this is Lemon, with whom he can stand to be in an enclosed space with, despite her current status as the death of the party. At the very least, he can use the proximity as an excuse to check out her low-cut dress for a while.
Ignoring the 'boos', Liz ushers Jack into the supply closet and swiftly shuts the door. Placing her hands on her hips, she opens her mouth to speak, but he cuts her off.
"Just to be clear, Lemon, we're not making out. That would be social suicide."
She groans, and plops down on an overturned crate. Her skirt rides up a little, and Jack quickly averts his eyes.
"Ugh, I so don't wanna be here."
"Yeah, I'd rather you were that hot blond woman, to be honest." He doesn't really wish this, not that he would let her know that.
She glares at him for a moment, then makes a sound of distress.
"I meant at the reunion, not necessarily in this closet. I already get enough of being the most hated person in the room at work, Jack, and I really don't need it to follow me everywhere."
He dusts off a box across from her and sits down.
"Lemon, you know that's not true. After all, Obviously Gay Guy's wife has never met you before."
She ignores this. "I just expected it to be different, that's all. I certainly didn't think that I was a jerk in high school. Turns out I'm not the loveable nerd, I was the bully you hate."
"Everyone has flaws. Your problem is that every time you feel threatened, you attack. That's why you're almost 40 and still alone."
She swallows, and he's surprised at her reply. "You're right. I've never had a stable relationship. Dennis was an idiot, Conan was too weird, Floyd was obsessed with Cleveland…perhaps I shouldn't have said all of those things to their faces."
Jack smirks. "Perhaps."
"I have to be mean, though," she continues. "No one would listen if I were a pushover."
Liz is undoubtedly thinking of Tracy and Jenna, who seem to put a lot of effort into making her life hell.
"You can be firm without hiding behind insults, Lemon. I believe that's not really who you are, but if you don't do something about it, you'll find that there's no one left."
Liz crosses her arms, and he tries not to stare at her cleavage.
"In case you haven't noticed, Jack, the suitors haven't exactly been knocking down my door as it is."
"Well, you do have a fairly low tolerance for people."
"Fine. But how the hell am I supposed to change that?" she huffs.
He raises his eyebrows. "You could start by not biting my head off—I am your friend, after all."
"Yeah, for now," she mutters, and puts her hands over her face.
"Lemon…Liz," he says gently. "You have time to change, you know."
She lifts her head, and Jack can see the tears welling in her brown eyes.
"What do you mean?"
"Hmm…You could start by being nice. It's not too hard."
"I don't know how to be a nice person, Jack." She tucks a glossy chestnut curl behind one ear, and her face slips into a miserable look.
Jack pities her in this moment; it seems she really has no idea what to do. She looks wonderful tonight, maybe even a swan, but without her glasses and sweater to hide behind, Liz is also truly exposed. He considers her rocky emotional past for a few seconds, and decides that he will help her out. He is her mentor, after all, and he shouldn't let this vulnerability continue.
"Lemon, I think it's time to teach you how a real relationship works."
She raises her eyebrows. "O…kay. Want to explain that?"
He makes the decision in a split second. "I'm going to date you."
"Um. Excuse me?" She stares at him, completely shocked at this announcement.
"I'm aware that I may or may not have said some things in the past about your…flaws, but I don't think that the idea of 'us' is entirely outrageous. I'd treat you like a gentlemen should, and then perhaps you'll see that mature relationships exist."
Her mouth falls open at this. Apparently he is serious.
"So you're saying that in order for me to be a nice person, I have to…date you? Who, by the way, has definitely provoked me about a million times?"
"I realize that, and I'm sorry. I don't think it's hard to imagine, though. I am your closest friend and confidant, not to mention extremely handsome."
Her eyes drift over him of their own accord, and he does the same, admiring her bared legs.
"Whatever," she mumbles. He looks at her expectantly.
"But that's exactly why it wouldn't work, Jack. I don't want to blow my only friendship because I screw up yet another relationship." She pauses, considering. "Besides, this—" she gestures between them, "—is incredibly unbalanced, physically at least."
"How do you mean?"
"I date supermodels; acrobats," she imitates him, "Not women with shark eyes, Lemon."
He smirks at her impression of him, but his smile quickly wavers. "I know I said at least some of that, but sometimes I just say things, Lemon. And you're wrong, by the way."
"About us being on two opposite ends of the attractiveness spectrum? I don't think I am, Jack. Although I have had less lettuce in my hair lately. Probably because I've stopped eating salad," she frowns.
He shakes his head. "I've said this before, but you're a solid 8, Lemon. Maybe even a 9, depending on the clothing. Why don't you see that you really are beautiful?" The last part is said a bit urgently, and he finds that he's trying to apologize for never having told her.
She sucks in her breath, taken aback. "What are you doing, Jack? You don't say these things to me…it's not normal. It's weird; it's not how we work."
"I'm sorry for the way I've treated you. I regret that my actions have obviously contributed to your lack of self-esteem, and I want to make things better." He sighs; this would be harder than he thought. What had he gotten himself into?
"Tonight's not just about you, Lemon…this Geiss situation has me rather distressed, and I'm actually having fun tonight, being someone else. But I'd be mistaken if I didn't apologize for not having been around lately."
"You don't have to be sorry, Jack. It's different. You're Jack Donaghy, and you'll always have someone waiting to make you happy. I'm just Liz, and I don't want to be alone forever…but I also don't think I can…be with you." She winces, afraid of his reply.
He leans toward her, and lowers his voice.
"Can you honestly tell me that you've never felt anything towards me?" His eyes rake the smooth planes of her face, which is looking quite nervous at this point.
He inches towards her more, and her breathing speeds up. "I'm going to try something," he says. "Don't freak out, just let it happen."
Her eyes dart around, but she doesn't protest.
Suddenly, his mouth is on hers, and she tenses up for a moment, but then she's kissing him back. He tries to pour a lot into the motion; apology, reassurance…but he himself is surprised at how entirely right it feels. He allows the spark to take over, and soon his hands are grasping her waist, her arms around his neck.
He pulls away for air, and notes her wide eyes.
"What was that?" Liz says breathlessly.
Jack can only stare at her. He certainly wasn't expecting that to happen.
"This is unexpected," he says finally. "It appears that I…have feelings for you."
She nods. "Yeah, I got that when you attacked my mouth. As weird as it is, I kind of liked it, too."
She smiles sheepishly, and he grins back.
"It's all going to be alright, Lemon."
"I hope so," she sighs. "I just wish that those people out there would all disappear."
"Come on, we'll grab another drink, then get out of here. Let's hope that the hotel still has cable in this storm."
"Fine, I am so ready to leave."
"Now, let's go explain why we've been in here for…" he checks his watch, "…ah, 26 minutes."
She smirks. "Larry Braverman definitely got Lemoned."