Pairing: Jack/Liz

Spoilers: Takes place after the end of the season 6 finale

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Not mine. Everything belongs to Tina (as it should). Feedback and comments are highly encouraged!

I. Faith

The day starts off like any other. They are in his office discussing how to downplay Tracy's most recent inappropriate outburst (he barged into The Today Show's studio during a live taping, pronounced that he was both a Birther and a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. He ended his rant by saying "What do you think about that AMERICA?" America was not pleased.)

"So, you want to take a look at the apology I wrote for that idiot?" Liz asks, handing him a sheet of paper while lightly tracing the slight curve of her slightly swollen stomach.

Jack smiles and gives the apology a cursory glance. "You really should not bother yourself about this in your condition, Lemon. Let me handle it."

"Jack, just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I can't do my job. Jeez." She huffs while carefully sitting back down on the couch.

"Pete told me you were napping in your office yesterday, you're exhausted. Please go home and let me take care of this." He implores, ignoring her annoyance at his persistence.

"For the last freakin' time, I'm fi-" A sharp stabbing sensation in her abdomen interrupts her protest, and she cries out in pain while clutching her stomach. Jack's eyes widen in shock and he quickly rushes to her.

"Liz, are you okay?" He is crouching on the floor beside her, his hand is covering hers and Liz grasps his fingers with all her strength.

"I…I think I'm bleeding." She gasps quietly. Jack looks down and sees that Liz is correct; her jeans are soaked in blood.

He immediately scoops her up in his arms and ignores the blood that has destroyed his couch and clothes. "Let's go upstairs. I'll have a helicopter take you to the hospital."

"Can you call Criss? Please?" She whimpers, the pain in her side making it too difficult to speak.

"Of course."

"Jack?" He looks down at her while they are waiting for the elevator to take them to the roof. He tries to stay calm and strong for her, knowing that panicking will only make things worse.

"Yes, Lemon?"

"I'm going to be okay, right? The baby is going to be okay?"

"I have faith that everything will be fine." It is the only time he's ever lied to her.

II. Disappointment

Jack's urgent call to the chief of staff of the hospital has resulted in a team of the best nurses and doctors waiting for Liz upon her arrival. They gently lower her onto a wheelchair and Jack – refusing to let go of her hand- follows closely beside her. "Are you the father?" One of the doctors asks.

Jack doesn't hesitate, "Yes." He says it quietly, so Liz won't have the chance to overhear and correct his declaration. They then ask Jack a barrage of intimate questions regarding Liz's pregnancy - unsurprisingly, he's able to answer all of them.

When Liz is in the ER, he attempts to call Criss. Every single time, his call goes straight to voicemail. After the 20th missed call, Jack instructs his assistant to keep trying.

He paces back and forth while in the waiting room and can't imagine a time in his life where he has felt this anxious and useless. Criss's absence has only exacerbated matters and has caused him to seethe with unbridled anger. He can't fathom any excuse that would justify him not being present to support Liz through such an ordeal.

After Liz is in the operating room for an hour, her doctor calls him in.

"Is she okay?" He asks quickly.

"Ms. Lemon will be fine. I am sorry to say that she did lose the baby."

"I see." He's not quite sure if he ever felt such acute disappointment in his entire life.

"I'm very sorry. We do have excellent grievance counselors for couples in this situation." The doctor hands Jack a pamphlet, which he wordlessly takes. "Would you like to tell her? Most patients prefer to hear such devastating news from their partner."

Jack nods listlessly. "Yes. I will tell her. Thank you, doctor."

When Jack slowly opens the door to her room, Liz immediately knows what happened by the forced smile on his face. "Oh…" She says quietly, her voice cracking with grief.

"I'm so sorry, Liz." Jack crosses over to her and wraps his arms around her shoulders.

"Where's Criss?" Her eyes are brimming with tears when she looks up at him. For a moment, he considers covering for him, devising an excuse for his abandonment. But then realizes he's hardly worth that effort.

"I don't know, Lemon." It is then that Liz allows herself to really cry. Later, after her tears have dried and her breathing returns to normal, she drifts off to sleep in his arms.

"Mr. Donaghy?" He hears one of the nurses say as she apprehensively opens the door to her room. Jack carefully extracts his arm from behind Liz's neck and walks over to the nurse. "A gentleman has arrived claiming to be the father of Ms. Lemon's baby. My records, though, indicate that you are the father…"

"May I see him?" His asks, his jaw clenched.

"Yes, he's in the waiting room." The nurse seems slightly terrified of the quick change in his demeanor. "Under no circumstances is that man allowed to see her, do you understand?" He whispers harshly before purposefully marches in the direction of the waiting room.

"Jack! What the hell happened? I got here as soon –" Before Criss is barely able to finish his sentence, Jack walks right up to him and punches him squarely in the face. The surprise blow knocks Criss back a few feet and causes him to rub his jaw. "What the hell, Donaghy?"

"Get out. Or I swear to God I will do that again." Jack's hands are balled at his fits, eager to deal a second blow.

"My phone died. I didn't know anybody was trying to reach me…"

The excuse only seems to make Jack's blood boil even more. "You have a girlfriend, whom you purport to love, who was in the midst of a high-risk pregnancy and you don't have the fucking sense to charge your phone?" He barks, grabbing Criss by the collar.

"Was? We lost the baby?" To his credit, Criss looks crestfallen and Jack has the decency to loosen his death grip on Criss's clothing.

"Yes. I'm…sorry. For your loss." Jack mutters, finally calming down from the adrenaline rush he's been experiencing all morning. "But I don't think you should see her now. She is upset and very fragile. She'll call you tonight."

"But…"

"This is not a matter up for negotiation. Please leave, before I get security to do so by force." Knowing that fighting Jack Donaghy is usually a losing proposition, Criss nods dejectedly and leaves the hospital. Before his departure, he asks, "When she wakes up, can you please tell her I'm sorry and I love her?"

Jack nods, but neglects to convey the message.

III. Forgiveness

When Liz is discharged from the hospital, Jack insists she spend the night at his place. "It's more comfortable and I will be able to keep an eye on you to make sure you're okay." He explains to her when he instructs the driver to take them to his home. Liz is too weak to refuse his offer, so she finds herself acquiescing quite easily to Jack bringing her to his house, dressing her in his old Princeton t-shirt and tucking her into bed. After all, she figures once a guy has seen her hemorrhaging blood, seeing her partially clothed is not nearly as shocking.

The devastating sense of emptiness she feels has her tossing and turning all night. Despite being sore, and very weak, she manages to limp her way to the kitchen and make a cup of tea. She gingerly sits down at the kitchen table, staring at the now eerily vacant Upper West Side street down below and allows herself to come to terms with the fact that she will probably never be a mother.

"Lemon, what are you doing up? You should be sleeping." Jack's voice startles her and when she turns around to look at him, she finds herself smiling at his obvious concern.

"I can't sleep. I feel…I dunno…like I lost a part of me." She mumbles, staring down at the floor.

"That's to be expected, Liz. There's no use in beating yourself up over being upset."

"So I don't get the Jack Donaghy pep talk? That I'm better than this? That I shouldn't wallow?"

"No…I think in this situation, you should allow yourself to feel as sad as you want to be." On one level, she always expected for Jack to be a safe harbor when disaster strikes. But she never imagined he would be so empathetic and understanding over something so foreign to him. His sympathy for her causes her to look at him with such unadulterated affection. It is a look that hasn't passed between them for years – a look that seemed inappropriate after Avery entered his life and seemed totally uncalled for after Criss entered hers. But now, it seems very fitting. Jack's face visibly softens when he sees Liz gaze at him in such an unguarded way; he wraps his arms around her shoulders and gently kisses her forehead.

After a moment of silence, she asks, "I should forgive Criss, right? I mean, everybody make mistakes."

Jack bristles at her suggestion. "There's making a mistake and then there's complete disregard for your spouse."

"He didn't mean to deliberately ignore me."

"Lemon, when Avery was pregnant, I kept a separate phone just in case Avery called me with an emergency. And I wasn't half in love with Avery as Criss claims to be with you."

She murmurs quietly, "Jack, you know not all guys are like you. You're kinda one in a million."

"Well, I think you deserve someone who is that worried sick about you. Who can barely sleep at night because he's afraid something might happen to you and who does everything in his power to make sure you're okay. You're worth that kind of mental angst."

"Oh." Whenever she thought about relationships and desire and partnerships, she never quite phrased it that way. She can't deny that she likes the way it sounds.

"But I'm not going to tell you what to do." He sighs, "Give Criss a second chance if you feel he warrants it."

"I believe he does." She says evenly.

"Then I stand by your decision." His somber tone does not make Liz believe she is making the right choice, but she never had someone profess to love her as much as Criss does – so she decides to give him the benefit of the doubt and hopes she doesn't regret doing so. Jack, for his part, tries his best to hold his tongue.

IV. Desire

"I broke up with Criss." She announces a month later after barging into his office after hours. "I just…things were different after. You know, I tried to forgive. I really did. But I guess I was cold and distant because I always hold a grudge and think the worst of people."

"Lemon…"

"I mean, maybe it's for the best. I'm not the most loveable person in the world. Certainly not the easiest person to get along with. So he would have broken up with me eventually, right?"

While her news doesn't shock him – Liz has been a shell of her former self ever since the miscarriage and hasn't allowed herself to open up to anyone-Jack still rises from his desk and motions for her to join him on the couch.

"What he was going to do is immaterial. You needed to do what feels right."

"Which meant breaking up with the only guy who could tolerate me for more than six months. Awesome." She sighs and darkly chuckles at the pathetic state of her love life. "What's wrong with me, Jack?"

He doesn't answer her question. At least he doesn't answer her verbally. Instead he circles his fingers around her neck and he brushes his lips against her own. The sudden intimate contact makes her gasp in surprise, but she doesn't pull away. He continues to kiss her and touch her slowly, as if he is anticipating her imminent rejection. Instead, she stares at him wide-eyed while he hands continue to explore and caress her body.

"What is this, Jack?" She whispers, while his hand gently tugs at the straps of her camisole.

"You need to feel desired right now." He answers simply, his lips brushing against her temple. "So, I'm going to lock the door. And then go to the bathroom to retrieve a condom. And then we're going to have sex." "Um…"

"Unless you rather go down to your floor feeling sorry for yourself and be surrounded by idiots discussing the finer points of robot intercourse."

"The sex with you thing sounds better."

They share a smile and he brushes the hair out of her eyes, "Then I will be right back."

She'd be lying if she said she knew what they were doing, if she knew what this was, but she surrenders to the office sex idea because for once she is able to forget that she's alone. That she'll never be a mother. That she failed again at making a relationship last.

And, to her astonishment, it mostly works. It's probably the only time that sex has made her feel better.

V. Stay

The random, spontaneous bouts of intercourse continue for the next month. Sometimes, it happens when she doesn't feel remotely sexy and the conversation touches on topics that are mundane and banal at best. And then Jack will interrupt her, place his hand on her breast…and, yeah, the mood then takes a drastic turn.

One night, she is at his apartment – Liddy is away with Avery – and she is staring at the ceiling trying to catch her breath. "Jesus, Jack, I can't even imagine what sex would have been like with you 20 years ago. You probably would have killed me." She pants, her voice hoarse and ragged from previous activities.

"Lemon," he chuckles, "you have no idea."

"Not too bad for an old dude, though." She jokes, poking his stomach.

"And you're not too bad for a woman who derives her sex tips form Star Wars fan-fiction." Smirking, he turns to his side so he can look at her face. He is smiling at her, almost like he's completely smitten with her. However, since she still doesn't know what they hell they are doing (Are they dating? Are they fuck buddies? Is he still doing this to make her feel better about herself?) she discounts his affectionate glances as part of his post-sex afterglow.

"Well," she sighs, "I better get out of your hair." She attempts to get up, but Jack's hand on her shoulder stops her.

"Is there somewhere you need to be?"

"Well…no…"

"Then I'd prefer it if you stayed."

"For more sex?" She asks, rendered completely dumbfounded by his request.

"Yes. And sleep. Perhaps breakfast tomorrow morning." Well, this is new.

"Huh. Okay, then, mister." She lowers herself back onto the many pillows behind her and tries to avert her eyes when Jack looks at her like that again because those looks are making her objective of avoiding falling in love with him infinitely harder.

VI. New Beginnings

Two months into their confusing relationship, Jack goes away to Los Angeles for business. His daily phone calls to "check-in" makes her feel like maybe they're in a relationship. But they spoke everyday before he saw her naked, before he supported her through the worst experience of her life, so she supposes maybe he's just still concerned about her as a friend and as the lady he has sex with. She supposes she's fine with this scenario as well.

The day he's expected back in New York, Liz hears a knock on the door. When she opens it, she barely has a second to even mutter a hello before Jack has pinned her to the wall and his lips collide with hers. "Whoa, there. Slow down, buddy."

"Can't." He mumbles, while fumbling at the buttons of her jeans. "Missed you too damn much." The declaration makes Liz's heart flutter, but she does her best to once again push her emotions to the side.

"I missed you too." She allows herself to confess, while she pulls down his pants. She thinks Jack may have knocked on her door with his pants already unbuckled, because it seems like his pants hit the floor in a matter of milliseconds. He's pushing her against the wall and she realizes he must be angling for standing up wall sex. She is surprisingly okay with this. They can always move to the bed later.

To move things along, Liz sinks down to the floor and Jack smirks in response. "You really did miss me, Lemon."

"I'm not giving you a BJ, you perv!" She giggles and laughs even more when she sees the look of disappointment on his face. Her fingers hastily rummage through his pockets and she lets out a triumphant "Yes! Jackpot!" when she fishes out a condom from his pocket.

After efficiently ripping open the condom with her teeth (she discovers that using her teeth to open hundreds of bags of potato chips has turned out to be good for something) and is about to put it on him when he interrupts her.

"Liz?" He asks, quietly.

"Yeah?" She stares up at him, and gives him a warm smile while rubbing his thighs.

"Maybe…" He clears his throat, "we can forgo using those moving forward."

"I'm not on the pill." She says blankly.

"I know."

"So…" The look of confusion on her face makes him laugh quietly to himself and he tenderly drags Liz up from the floor so she's standing up and facing him (she is grateful for him doing so, because she assumes this is not a conversation you want to have while staring at a guy's junk).

"I thought maybe you're ready to try again. You seem so much better. Happier."

"Try again? To get pregnant?" Jack steps back when he realizes how utterly shocked she is.

"Why so incredulous? We love each other…"

"We never said we loved each other!" She gasps.

"Considering our history, I didn't think we needed to!" He snaps. "Wait, did you think this was…just sex?"

"You've had relationships based on meaningless sex before…"

"Not with a friend and someone I work with. Do you really think I'd sabotage what we have because I was horny?" The outrage and hurt in his voice makes Liz feel like a giant idiot.

"Oh God, I'm such a tool." Her hands fly up to her face in an attempt to hide how utterly embarrassed she is.

"Liz…" His anger dissipates when he realizes that years of insecurity has caused Liz to not recognize how utterly besotted he is with her. "Hey, stop that, come here." He brushes her hands away, and pulls her into his warm embrace. "I love you. I'm a fool for not thinking that you needed to hear that. Am I safe to assume that you love me too?"

"Uh-huh." She nods, her nose buried in his neck.

"'Uh-huh', I'm a fool or 'uh-huh' you love me?" He chuckles.

"Both." She mumbles petulantly against his neck, which causes his lips to twitch into a slight smile.

"Well, I know how much you want a child…and I want to make that happen for you." He pulls back to look at her, relieved that there's a smile on her face. "And, I was also going to ask you to marry me. I suppose I should have led with that."

"Ya think?" She asks, amused that the ever so suave Jack Donaghy was able to make such a mess out of a declaration of love.

"You can of course take time to think about this…"

"Yes." She answers quickly, her brain not even having enough time to stop her mouth from speaking.

"To the baby or the proposal?"

"I'm saying yes to both offers, Donaghy." And this time, when he gives her the amazing I-don't-know-what-I'd-do-without-you look, she knows it's because he's in love with her.

And, maybe, he always has been.