?

Log in

 
 
23 September 2008 @ 03:02 pm
You Must Love Me [30 Rock; Jack/Liz]  
TITLE: You Must Love Me
FANDOM: 30 Rock
PAIRING: Jack/Liz
SPOILERS: "Cooter"; my fics Frightened You'll Slip Away and Where Do We Go From Here?
RATING: PG
SUMMARY:


*****

On the opening night of Jenna's show, Liz couldn't control her nerves. Not about her upcoming date with Greg -- she'd met the guy and he seemed harmless. Ditzy in the way that made you want to pat him on the head (he was a thirty-five-year-old backup dancer after all), but harmless. And not about having to get dressed up as Pete seemed to think, because there was next to no chance of running into Bianca and getting her dress ripped off (or so she hoped). No, she was actually nervous about having to see Jack with his date at this play tonight.

Which really pissed her off. It shouldn't matter whether or not Jack was dating. But it did. Maybe because things still seemed so... unresolved between them. Jack told her he was in love with her, let her walk out on him, and then things were just awkward between them for a few weeks before she found out from Jenna that he was dating someone. He never even waited for her to come to a decision about how she felt or anything. Just two weeks of awkwardness and then bam. He moved on.

Was that all that she meant to him? She was only worth two weeks of pining and that was it?

Okay, granted there may have been more pining prior to him revealing how he felt. But seriously. He didn't even tell her he was dating. She'd hoped that even if nothing romantic would ever happen between them, that they could still remain "friendly" enough (to use his term) that he'd tell her he was dating. But nope, nothing. Not a casual heads-up as she was leaving his office, not a fifteen-second phone call, not a little note tied to a carrier pigeon (though even for Jack that might've been going overboard), nothing at all.

When they got to the little theatre (it wasn't so much on Broadway as it was in a theatre on a street that crossed Broadway), Liz was feeling more and more trepidatious about seeing Jack. It was obvious she was going to run into him. The theatre wasn't giant enough where she could easily hide behind a pillar or something or lose herself in the crowd. Nope, she would definitely have to see him. Him and his stupid volleyball-playing ditz. Maybe the two ditzes made a better pair -- Greg and whatever Jack's date's name was. Yeah, that worked. They could run off and be ditzy together and then she and Jack could--

Wait.

Why the hell was she even thinking this way? She and Jack weren't... anything. Right now she wasn't even sure whether or not they were friends. And she didn't have those kind of feelings for him.

She was pretty sure.

"Lemon? There you are," his trademark rasp snuck up behind her and almost startled her out of her skin.

She spun around and hung onto Greg, who was chewing some gum and nodding as if to the beat of some alt-rock song playing in his head. Liz plastered on a smile for her boss. "Oh! Jack, hey." She then gestured to her date. "This is Greg, my date. Greg, this is my boss, Jack Donaghy."

Greg shook Jack's hand and jerked his chin upward in a greeting of, "'Sup?"

Liz pressed her lips together and could practically feel the judgment as Jack replied, "Not very much, Greg, thank you. 'Sup with you?"

"Just chillin' at this play with my girl here. Hope this thing doesn't suck." Greg grinned over at her and grabbed her hand, and... he kinda reminded her of Dennis in a way.

She really had to stop dating Dennises.

It was then that Jack gestured to the fair-skinned, green-eyed brunette hanging off his arm. Liz couldn't help but eye her up. She had hair down to her waist (which was slender enough Liz could probably fit both hands around easily), legs up to her neck and boobs that could take an eye out. In short, she was exactly Jack's type. "Nadja Petrovski, I'd like you to meet my friend," he met Liz's eyes when he said this, like he was wounded she used the word 'boss' instead of 'friend,' "Liz Lemon, and her date Greg."

Liz couldn't stand her. She was worse than Phoebe.

Okay fine, maybe nobody was worse than Phoebe, but y'know... she was right up there.

Once pleasantries were exchanged (and Greg checked out Nadja enough times), the lights began to blink as signal for them to head inside. So Liz plastered on a smile, looped her arm through Greg's and told Jack, "See you in there."

Jack just smiled, all calm and smug-like, and nodded silently.

It was then that Liz thought maybe she should escape while she had a chance. Because maybe that smile made her heart skip just a little bit.

Dammit.


*****

Jenna apparently got Jack and Nadja an opera box too, because they were right across the stage from where Greg and Liz sat. Her eyes drifted over toward Jack as Greg helped her with her wrap; she noticed Jack was doing the same for Nadja, and she felt an unwanted pang hit her heart. Jack was her friend. She should be happy for him.

The curtain rose and the show began, and to her credit, Jenna actually did a great job as Evita this time around. The community-theater version she'd done years back hadn't been as tolerable. Liz actually fell asleep halfway through that one. This one seemed to actually move the audience. Little did Liz know, it was about to move her as well.

Jenna, onstage in her full Evita garb, began to sing, "Where do we go from here? This isn't where we intended to be..."

Liz lifted her eyes to the opera booth across the stage; to Jack.

"We had it all, you believed in me... I believed in you."

Jack met her eyes and as they held gaze, Liz felt a strange sensation come over her. Kind of like... she missed him. But he was right there in front of her. Kind of like she knew their relationship was supposed to head somewhere, but she had no clue where.

"Certainties disappear, what do we do for our dream to survive? How do we keep all our passions alive as we used to do?"

Nadja lightly tapping Jack to make a comment briefly drew his attention away and Liz took a breath for what felt like the first time since they locked eyes. The more she watched him and Nadja, the more she didn't like her. She was a volleyball player, so how much could she possibly have in common with Jack? Liz probably had more in common with Jack, so maybe she should date him.

Wait, what?

"Deep in my heart I'm concealing things that I'm longing to say. Scared to confess what I'm feeling, frightened you'll slip away - you must love me."

Oh, blerg! Was this really what it had come to? Jack confessing his feelings got her to realize her own? That didn't happen, did it? Sure, it was commonplace in Lifetime movies and soap operas, but... her life was neither of those things. If anything, her life was a sitcom. This was not a sitcom storyline, Jack falling in love with her and then her with him. No, she wasn't in love with him.

"You must love me..."

Jack's eyes met hers again during the instrumental solo and Liz felt herself tearing up. Sure, now she had to come to terms with his feelings and her own. Jack loved her. From the look on his face when her own started to contort in a sad frown... maybe he still loved her. Maybe him not talking to her for a few weeks was his own way of coping, of bandaging his wounds. She had to have hurt him.

That thought just made the lump in her throat swell further.

"Why are you at my side? How can I be any use to you now? Give me a chance and I'll let you see how nothing has changed."

Liz sniffled and reached down for her purse, for the spare couple of tissues she always carried with her in case of booger emergencies.

"Hey, are you okay?" Greg leaned over to ask.

Liz nodded just because she didn't trust her voice at this point. She finished wiping her nose and let her eyes drift toward Jack again, who was still watching her. He looked a cross between confused, calm, and distressed. It was a strange combination on him. And Nadja wasn't paying any attention to the fact that his eyes were on another woman; she was busy watching the show. As was Greg again now.

So Liz stole the opportunity to get up, grab her purse and rush out... the tumultuous emotions suddenly too much to take. She heard Greg calling after her, asking if she was okay but she kept going, not caring about him enough to tell him the truth.

"Deep in my heart I'm concealing things that I'm longing to say. Scared to confess what I'm feeling, frightened you'll slip away - you must love me."

And she didn't notice Jack watching her go.


*****

When she reached the lobby, she leaned against one of the marble pillars, wiping her nose one more time. After disposing of the kleenex, then, she took a seat on one of the benches by the door. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the pillar the bench sat against, willing the emotions away; willing the lump in her throat to disappear. It didn't work. She suddenly found herself crushing on her best friend while he was now dating somebody else.

Her life had officially become a Drew Barrymore movie. Blerg.

A couple more strains of "You must love me" floated out into the lobby before the song finished and the audience applauded. Liz blew out a puff of air through pursed lips and pressed her head further into the marble pillar, as if it could sink any further into it. She had to get control of her thoughts, and quick, before she had to see Jack again. How possible could it really be that she loved him back? They had next to nothing in common except for stress eating and a couple other minor traits. There was no way of sustaining a relationship based off of that, right?

It would end badly. She knew it would end badly. And she didn't want Jack to get hurt. She preferred not getting hurt in relationships either, but she had a feeling that in this case? Jack would be the one getting hurt.

"Lemon?"

Her spine straightened up in one quick snap, and she wiped at the tear she didn't know had begun to slip down her cheek. "Jack." She looked over at him, ambling slowly toward her with his hands in the pockets of his tux pants. "What are you doing out here?"

"I could ask the same of you."

"Oh, y'know," she sighed, "just... getting some fresh air."

His eyebrows quirked. "In a theatre lobby?"

Liz nodded. A bit too much. "Yeah. Y'know, less... freon. Out here."

"I see." He gestured to the empty space beside her on the bench. "Would you like some company?"

"Sure." No.

Jack took a seat beside her, glimpsing quick at her in his peripheral vision as she cleared her throat softly and looked down at her lap.

He was the first to break the silence. "So."

"So," she echoed. "Nadja seemed nice."

"Lemon, why don't we skip the part where you pretend to like my date while festering undue disdain which you won't confess to until I'm about to marry her, and instead how about you tell me what is truly bothering you."

Without preamble, she spit out, "I'm not in love with you."

She glanced slowly over at Jack to find his eyebrows slowly rising on his forehead. "And that's what caused you to flee in the middle of a show. You not being in love with me. It couldn't have been, perhaps, some latent jealousy?"

"Jack, stop."

"It's nothing to be ashamed of, Lemon. Given our situation just a few weeks ago, added to now seeing me with another woman when clearly you still had feelings of your own to sort through, it's only natural that you would--"

"Shut up, Jack!" Liz couldn't control herself anymore, and her hands raised like she wanted to strangle him (which she did, a little). "God, can you ever stop with your stupid analytical mentor crap for two seconds?"

"Lemon, I was merely pointing out--"

"I know what you were pointing out, Jack!" She jumped up from her spot, throwing her hands up. Closing her eyes, she shook her head. "Just... stop."

Jack's nod was slight, almost imperceptible. "Very well."

Liz sighed out her frustration and looked down at him, just looking back up at her, and she couldn't help but wonder when the hell things had to get so complicated between them. She could've been perfectly happy just thinking of him as the non-genius that took over her show, or as Mr. Donaghy, the VP she had been forced to work with. From the moment he suggested they become "friendly," things started to complicate. Slowly at first last year, but this year? Things between them seemed to move at warp speed. She'd gone from missing him a little over the summer break to needing to talk to him when any little thing went wrong in her life. And he went from being the most annoying guy in her life, to suddenly being the most important guy in her life.

Softly, she asked him, "Why didn't you tell me you'd started dating someone?" She sat down beside him again, angling her body to face him.

Jack followed suit. "To be perfectly honest, Lemon, I was under the belief that it wouldn't have mattered to you."

She furrowed her brows. "It wouldn't have mattered? Jack, you told me you were in love with me."

He nodded. "Yes, I vividly recall. I also vividly recall you walking out without much of a response."

"Well, you dropped a giant bomb in my lap!"

"Of poo, yes. So you said." His eyebrows flicked upward.

"Well... what did you expect me to say?"

Jack sighed and shook his head, glancing down at his lap. "I don't know, Lemon, I guess I wasn't thinking properly when I confessed my feelings for you. It was more of an impulse than anything else, but I had grown tired of holding it in any longer. Of pining. I refuse to pine for longer than three months."

Her eyes widened, just slightly. "You had a thing for me for three months before you told me?"

Jack pressed his lips together and cut his eyes to the side before he responded lowly, "Roughly."

Liz shook her head. "Then why did you start dating someone three weeks after you told me how you felt?"

"You hadn't said anything, so I took that to mean you didn't feel the same." He searched her eyes, his own narrowing contemplatively. "Do you feel the same, Liz?"

"What?" She made a face. "No!" Then shook her head. "Maybe." Covering her eyes, she practically whined, "Oh blerg, Jack, I don't know. I mean... maybe I could get there, but we haven't gone on a date or even kissed! I mean, how am I supposed to--"

Jack's lips on hers stopped the rest of her nervous ramble. And maybe part of her was expecting it, maybe not, but her hands went to his face immediately. And her heart skipped. And perhaps she scooted just a little closer, heart skipping again when their knees knocked together. Then Jack pulled away, taking one of her hands and stroking her knuckles as he smiled.

"There. I've just kissed you."

She chuckled, and covered her face with her free hand while she shook her head. When her hand dropped back to her lap, she tilted her head at him, unable to stop the smile. Her lips were still tingling, and her heart was still doing cartwheels. "Jack, that's not enough to--"

He kissed her once more, and this time Liz opened her lips under his, allowing him to deepen the kiss. When they pulled back from each other this time, Jack's arms were around her and her hands were on his shoulders. She leaned back just far enough to meet his gaze. "Alright, fine, maybe I feel... a little something." Off his smug smile, she clarified, "But I'm not in love with you."

Jack's smile never faltered, and he nodded. "Duly noted."

"And I still need more time to figure all of this out."

"Then I shall give you more time." He released her and stood up, then held a hand down to help her up. "I'm also going to stop seeing Nadja."

"Really?" She hadn't let go of his hand. Though she would've, had it not felt so... what was the word? Nice? Was that it?

Jack squeezed her hand a little and smiled.

Yes, nice.

"Really. I don't wish to date one woman while in love with anoth--"

She laid her fingers over his lips. "Jack. Please stop saying you're in love with me." Off his look, she tilted her head, gave a one-shouldered shrug and clarified with a small smile. "At least until I'm ready to say it back."

Jack was still smiling, just a little, and narrowing his eyes contemplatively at her. "Well how will I know once you've fallen in love with me?"

"When I let you see me eat a meatball sub." She poked his chest lightly. "Because that is love."

He chuckled. "Very well." Then, he held out his arm. "Well, what do you say, Lemon? Would you like to duck out of this play early with me and get some dinner?"

Liz smiled and looped her arm through his. "Sure. I don't think Jenna would care if I left." Pondering what she'd just said, she shrugged facially and amended, "Well okay, she will. But when I tell her it was to have dinner with you, then she won't care."

"I see."

As they walked down the short marble staircase toward the theatre doors, Liz asked Jack, "What did you have in mind for dinner?"

"Meatball subs."

And her laugh echoed through the lobby as she figured she may be ready for this sooner than she thought.



FIN



Like what you've read? Why don't you watch or join the community?

{x-posted to jack_liz and 30_rock}
 
 
 
haters to the left: tinaalecemmys1stamatina_rae on September 23rd, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, this was great! Just great.
a.: ab/tf; you win againregalish on September 26th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
noie84noie84 on September 24th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
Aw, this was lovely! Those two are too adorable for words. :)
a.: ab/tf; award-winning dream teamregalish on September 26th, 2008 02:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, I'm glad you liked it :D
paulachica07 on September 24th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
Awww that was AWESOME!! It made me so happy! Great job and I can't wait to see what story lines you'll come up with next!
a.: huddy; i need youregalish on September 26th, 2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
Aww, thanks much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! More to come soon :D
stresseater: loving tina feystresseater on September 24th, 2008 01:54 am (UTC)
Jack in the end! That was made of 100% WIN. Mems!
a.: jack/liz; two sides of the same coinregalish on September 26th, 2008 02:19 pm (UTC)
Hee! Thanks so much! :)
The Mighty B: [SNL] You're welcomerunawayblue on September 24th, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
Ach, that was beautiful. I loved the whole bit where she compared her life to sitcoms, etc. Haha fourth wall!

Also the last bit was brilliance.
Your fics are fantastic, great job!
a.: tina; shoot 'em up (palin style)regalish on September 26th, 2008 02:22 pm (UTC)
Hehe, thanks! I'm glad you liked that part. Gotta love the fourth wall ;D
Cross Word: [30R] Jack and Lizgoodtoast on September 24th, 2008 05:02 am (UTC)
Oh my gosh! I was actually worried that things were going to end sadly again! I love me the angst, but wow. The first two parts of this story ripped my heart out. I'm not sure I would have been able to deal with a third time.

I loved Jack here. After being blown off, he was able to settle down and become okay with his rejection. So his confidence comes through again, and well, that's just one of my favorite things about him : )
a.: jack/liz; handsregalish on September 26th, 2008 02:23 pm (UTC)
Heee! Nope, I knew I had to end things in a good way this time. Angst two times = good. Three times? Too brutal. I'd never do that to you guys, you're far too awesome :D

Thanks for reading, as always, I'm glad you liked the finale! :)
excellent conversationalist (with food): jack/lizmuic on September 24th, 2008 06:06 am (UTC)
That was such a sweet ending! And a very emotional build up to it. I love the meatball subs-love theory and how Jack totally knows Liz is in love with him but understands her need for time. I feel like a big pile of goo now.

Great read!
a.: ab/tf; you win againregalish on September 26th, 2008 02:26 pm (UTC)
Aww, thanks hon! Glad you liked this. I figured the meatball subs theory would be a Liz thing (I definitely won't let a guy see me REALLY pig out unless we've been dating for a bit, lol).

Thanks again! ♥
(Deleted comment)
a.: models; lips of an angelregalish on September 26th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
Hee, thanks! :)
Mrs. Hattersunday_luncheon on September 25th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
Awww! I loved this, really. Of course Liz would have to go and make things complicated, as usual. But the lovely ending made it worth the nail-biting you caused me in the first two parts. ;)

/i/"When I let you see me eat a meatball sub." She poked his chest lightly. "Because that is love."/end/

That was so perfectly Liz; I could so see her doing that.


a.: jack; accustomed to her faceregalish on September 26th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked it. And yes, Liz definitely has a way of complicating uncomplicated things, doesn't she? But that's why we love her so. :D

Thanks again for reading!
csiAngel: 30 rock Jack smittencsiangel on September 26th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
Aw yay! I loved this trilogy muchly. This is a lovely conclusion :-)
a.: jack; almost like being in loveregalish on September 28th, 2008 05:20 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, Jac my dear! Glad you liked the series :D
star_watcher81star_watcher81 on October 27th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)
Aww, yay! I'm late to this party, but that was adorable! I love the way you write the both of them. I like that Liz was the hold-out; it wouldn't surprise me if Jack were more open about his feelings. Yay! Great story!
(Deleted comment)