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20 June 2008 @ 03:35 pm
All I Can Do (To Keep From Crying) [30 Rock; Jack/Liz]  
TITLE: All I Can Do (To Keep From Crying)
FANDOM: 30 Rock
PAIRING: Jack/Liz
SPOILERS: The season two spoilers (or what I thought they'd be back in January); as well as my own fic, Two Ears and a Heart
RATING: PG
SUMMARY:


*****

This time, moving seems like a pretty good idea. It seemed like a second chance at that happy life in Cleveland with Floyd that Liz kinda wanted last year but wasn't totally ready for. This year? After the pregnancy scare she just went through with Floyd (even though he didn't know about it)? Yeah, she figures she's ready.

Last year, she never would've been able to leave her job. This year her idiot staff has been driving her nuts moreso than usual and leaving them has actually been the easiest part of this whole thing. She knows it won't be easy to leave Pete or Jenna -- they've both known her for so long, but still. They'll get on without her. Pete's a great producer and can easily handle designating a head writer (or hiring one from outside since nobody there currently is capable).

Plus, Pete has his family -- his wife (who he's still having an affair with; he's actually subletting her apartment just so the affair can continue), and he has his kids. Jenna has... well, nightclubs and one-night stands. And she still has that entourage. She's seen Sasha and Patrice hanging around lately. Patrice still calls her Melissa.

So these people she's known for a decade will be totally fine. The hardest person to leave? For some reason, that's Jack. Liz can't figure this out. From the moment she turns in her two weeks notice and sees the devastated look on Jack's face (like someone just ran over a puppy or called Mitt Romney a nancy boy or something), Liz has to figure out why this part of the whole thing is so damn hard. She's known Jack for two years. A fifth of how long she's known Pete and Jenna.

Leaving Jack should be the second-easiest (the first still being leaving her idiot staff) part about this whole thing. Especially during that two-week "limbo" period between when she officially turned in the notice and when she's going to actually leave. During that two-week time, Jack gets unusually distant with her. He keeps their meetings short and doesn't try to rope her into attending weirdo celebrity events with him, nor does he try to mentor her. He's the boss, she the employee who's leaving. And she hates to admit it, but...

It hurts. It really hurts. How could he, right? After everything they've been through? In all both of these years? After he wrecked her show by making it popular again and set her up with a lesbian and tried to turn her into Julia Roberts at some creepy prince's party, at which she got attacked by his psycho ex. After he butted in to her relationship with Floyd the first time around to the point where Floyd felt he had to move away (okay, that part's not entirely true, but it helps to fuel her rage, so. It'll do). After he got engaged to someone he barely knew and continually asked her opinion, only to tease her when she pointed out that Phoebe was all wrong for him.

After the heart attack and that entire summer they spent apart in which she missed him and couldn't believe she missed him, when he carried her train and begrudgingly told her she looked pretty in a wedding dress. After Kenneth's party and that time he totally wrecked her family, and C.C. and that weird night they played mind games with each other during the MILF Island finale, and just... everything. How could he just go back to acting like he's only her annoying ultra-right-wing boss?

By the time Liz gets home on that second-to-last night, she's pretty pissed. And she's already writing some pretty good burns in her head, which she will most definitely say to him tomorrow. But only as she's about to go out the door. Because, well. A girl's gotta have the last word.

But then she flips on the TV, and sees a movie on cable she hasn't seen in a few years since Jenna dragged her to see it in the theater (and she wound up really really liking it): Two Weeks Notice. She's not much of a Hugh Grant fan (and still can't really get that hooker thing out of her head), but found it really hard to not love this movie. And it's only upon seeing it again that she kinda realizes... hey, the storyline's not that dissimilar to her and Jack.

Sandra Bullock works for this totally annoying rich guy that, once she's worked with him long enough, can't make a simple decision without her or do anything without her, really. And she kinda enjoys his company begrudgingly, and they sorta end up... falling for each other.

Liz's stomach drops. And instead of being pissed off with Jack, she's now pissed off at Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock for the rest of the night. Like this is what she needs right before she's about to uproot her entire life for Floyd (take two).

Anyway, Jack doesn't love her. No way. So the scene in which Hugh Grant goes to Sandra Bullock's new job and reads a speech that basically tells her how he feels, Liz balks while she chokes back the lump in her throat, because -- come on, that would never happen. Ever. And the whole thing about Sandra Bullock running after him? Yeah, Liz would never do that. Ever.

Then Jenna calls and asks Liz to go for a drink on her last night in town, and that sounds like a great idea. It'll get the stupid movie out of her head.


*****

"A drink" with Jenna turns out to be four, and Liz goes home at midnight pretty tipsy and in the mood to pack. She's finished with her carry-on suitcase by two and passes out until seven, at which point she heads over to 30 Rock to say goodbye. Jack is insisting he give her a ride to the airport, which isn't necessary because she can very easily take her carry-on onto the subway with her. Jack looks horribly offended by this notion and she hates that she's going to miss this about him.

After she's said goodbye to her staff, she goes up to Jack's office. He's called her up there anyway, mentioning something about her iPod. She really hopes he's not going to use her last few minutes as his employee to ask her how to browse iTunes, because seriously -- how many times does she have to show him?

"Jack?" She knocks on his door and steps inside slowly. "You wanted to see me?"

"Yes, Lemon, come in." She's pretty sure he checks her out for a second, and she might even miss that too. She wonders if he checks her out more now because she wears a lot more dresses -- he always seems to enjoy this. He's probably proud of himself, thinking that it's because of him that she doesn't wear a ton of jeans and navy blue shirts anymore. Well, he's only part of the reason. So hah. He can kinda partly suck it.

"You said something about my iPod. Did you... take it or something?"

"I did, Lemon, I apologize." He takes her iPod off his desk and unplugs it from his computer. "I never meant to keep it, I just... wanted to make sure you had something to listen to while waiting for the train to take you to Cleveland."

"Oh." Liz makes a face, wondering what the hell he put on there. So help her, if she finds some dumbass Bill O'Reilly book-on-tape or right-wing podcast, she is coming back from Cleveland just to chuck her iPod at Jack's head. "Uh... thanks."

"You're welcome, Lemon." He's looking at her in a weird way, like she has food in her hair or maybe like he thinks she's kinda pretty, she's not sure which. It's part amusement, part sadness, part reverance, and she really doesn't know what to do with herself. So she fiddles with her hands, clasping and unclasping them in front of her while she presses her lips together and looks around his office.

The office that she's become so comfortable in, despite how annoying she found its occupant early-on. The office she'll no longer set foot in unless she, for some reason, comes back to visit (which won't happen unless Jenna gets married or her show is about to completely tank, or... y'know, if her and Floyd don't work out).

She finally breaks the silence (tension?) and suggests that they go. Jack escorts her out with his hand on her back and Liz sucks in a breath, thinking of Two Weeks Notice and all she's going to be leaving behind and just hopes she's making the right decision.


*****

Jack takes her to the train station in his limousine and the ride is unusually quiet. Kiiiiinda awkward. She mainly looks out the window, and Jack straightens the impressive-looking glass bottles of alcohol (seriously, some of the bottles look fancy and ancient). He doesn't ask her about her trip, or whether Floyd's excited she's moving down there, and Liz can't figure out if he's just being a jerk or if maybe he's having a hard time figuring out how to say goodbye to her.

At Grand Central, she checks in and finds the way to her train with Jack's assistance. She stops in the middle of an atrium near her platform and turns to Jack, pulling her rolling carry-on suitcase up behind her. "So, I guess this is goodbye," she sighs.

Jack nods. "Yes. This is goodbye." He sounds matter-of-fact, and she still can't figure out if he's being a jerkface or just having a rough time with this.

Maybe she's having a rough time too. She's realizing, standing here in front of him, that in two years he's been in her life more consistently than people she's known for years. That for two years, she's spent most of her waking hours with him and that all of a sudden she's just not going to see him at all. But, she loves Floyd. Right? Doesn't she? A little bit?

Trouble is, she thinks she loves Jack too. But just in a different way. Floyd's like this really awesome boyfriend that she loves to be around even though he was stupid to leave her a first time, whereas Jack is this formerly-annoying guy that she's around constantly and never gets tired of.

But Floyd's the boyfriend, Jack's the friend. So. "Well... bye."

Jack smiles, and Liz feels her stomach do something weird. Not bad, just... weird. "Goodbye, Lemon."

Oh God, and nobody will call her Lemon in Cleveland, will they? She's been so accustomed to that. She'll miss that. Yeah, she'll miss Jack.

She steps toward him and holds out her arms. She doesn't really hug a lot, and she doesn't think she's ever seen Jack hug anybody, so... this is probably gonna be awkward. She starts to wrap her arms around his midsection and then rethinks it -- he's not a giant stuffed bear after all.

Eventually, her arms end up around his neck, and his hands are on the small of her back, and it feels... nice. Not awkward. Good maybe, even. It's weirdly comfortable. Dammit.

"I'll, um... I'll miss you, Jack." Wow, there's a lump in her throat. What the hell is happening here? Nobody's dying, she's just... never going to see Jack again.

Surprisingly, he returns, "I'll miss you too, Liz." And he used her first name, to boot.

When she pulls back, she impulsively kisses his cheek -- another thing she never does, but the moment seems to call for it. "I can, uh... I can call you when I get to Cleveland."

He nods, his voice soft... kinda docile. "That would be lovely." His blue eyes look extra wide and extra sad now, and for a split-second Liz doesn't wanna leave.

Her hands are on his shoulders and his are on her waist; anyone walking by would easily think they're about to kiss. It totally looks like one of those cinematic kiss poses. Jack smiles a little and Liz wonders if he's considering it (and then wonders why she's even considering that he'd consider it), then he kisses her forehead.

He runs a finger down her cheek and murmurs with his lips against her forehead, "Goodbye."

Well that does it. Now Liz really wants to cry. He's her friend, just like Pete and Jenna -- why is this so hard? When she pulls back, she thinks Jack looks surprised and it's probably because there are some definite tears in her eyes. Tears she is definitely not going to shed. It's just an emotional day, she'll calm down.

She whispers one more, "Bye," as she grabs her suitcase and heads off to wait for her train. She kinda feels like Jack is watching her, but she really doesn't want to think about that right now. So she busies herself finding somewhere to sit down, and pulls out her iPod.

After putting in her earbuds, she looks for the playlist Jack made for her. Not surprisingly, it's called 'Lemon,' and it makes her want to laugh and cry at the same time. She sets it to shuffle and hits play, closing her eyes and calming herself down -- tells herself to get over her New York life. She's going to be a model in Cleveland now. And live with a lawyer named Floyd that almost got her pregnant. Things will be great.

The first song on the playlist is one of those gut-bucket rock songs that she knows they play on Bill O'Reilly's little dog-and-pony (douchebag) show. So she clicks past it and shoves her iPod in her purse. The next one, she doesn't really recognize. The intro sounds kinda jungley, and Liz furrows her brows while she looks around the train station at the crowds.

So you're leaving in the morning, on the early train
But I could say everything's alright and I could pretend and say goodbye


Liz furrows her brows. Odd that it kinda matches the whole leaving-on-a-train thing. She keeps listening, waiting for the praise of Republicans or George Bush. It'll get there. Jack picked it, after all.

Got your ticket, got your suitcase, got your leaving smile
Oh I could say that's the way it goes, and I could pretend and you won't know that I was lying


Liz sighs and grabs a mint from her pocket, wondering if she had time to get something to eat, when the chorus comes in:

Because I can't stop loving you, no I can't stop loving you
No I won't stop loving you, why should I?


Her heart leaps into her throat and she almost chokes on her mint. This can't be a... love song, can it? She grabs her iPod from her purse and looks at the LCD screen. Sure enough, Phil Collins' name stares back at her, as well as the title of the song: "Can't Stop Loving You."

That lump in her throat comes back, as do the tears. Jack loves her? What the hell? He just, like... loves her and waits until now, until she's moving several states away, to tell her about it? And he tells her with a song? She turns around to look for him in the crowd but she can't see him. And people are lining up to board the train, so she has to follow as the song moves into the second verse.

We took a taxi to the station, not a word was said
And I saw you walk across the road for maybe the last time, I don't know
Feeling humble, heard a rumble on the railway track
And when I hear the whistle blow I'll walk away and you won't know that I'll be crying


Oh great. And now Liz is crying. And it's no longer because Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant have managed to draw parallels between her and her boss. It's because of Jack and Phil Collins, and Jack waiting until now to do something sweet, and... dammit, romantic... even though he knows they'll never see each other again.

Kinda like he wants to make sure she knows how he feels before she leaves, even if he can't say it to her face. So the second chorus plays about how he can't stop loving her and Liz is downright crying. The line is moving up and she's getting closer to boarding the train, and this whole thing -- Floyd, leaving New York (Jack) -- starts to feel like a really bad idea.

No I won't stop loving you, why should I even try
I'll always be here by your side, why why why
I never wanted to say goodbye


Liz wipes her nose on her coat sleeve.

I'm always here if you change, change your mind...

And that's exactly what Liz did: she changed her mind. So as the key of the song changed, she grabbed her suitcase and got out of line, making her way through the crowd again. The first verse repeated in the new key as she searched the crowd for Jack. She finally spotted him, walking away slowly with his hands in his pockets, like he was sad or something (was he? Did he really actually love her or was she reading too much into the song?).

Her heart jumped straight into her throat as she ran after him, like Lucy running after George, and she called his name. "Jack!" She watches him pause, like maybe he heard her, but then he just keeps going. She moves a little quicker. "Jack!"

He turns then, and looks more than surprised to see her there, chasing him through a train station like they're in a Hugh Grant movie. "Lemon?"

It's awkward trying to run with her suitcase, purse, and with her earbuds in her ears, but she'd do it again. It has to be done. Because this is starting to feel like the right decision. She stops in front of him and takes her earbuds from her ears, draping them around her neck as Jack asks her, "Are you alright?" and steps toward her.

No she's not. Her entire world has been continously changing directions for the past two years, and now he's finally succeeded in turning her stomach and heart upside down with it. She closes her eyes and more tears squeeze out, before she goes toe-to-toe with him. "You stupid idiot," she chuckles tearfully, and then she grabs his face and kisses him as the music from her earbuds swells into another chorus.

She can tell Jack is surprised, and hopes like hell she hasn't read way too much into that particular song choice before she feels his hands on her waist, holding her against him while she holds his face. She stretches up on tiptoe to get closer to him, still holding his face in her hands.

Phil Collins continues on about how Jack can't stop loving her, and Jack winds his arms around her waist. She, in turn, wraps her arms around his neck and lets him deepen the kiss. Slowly, his hands drift up her sides to her face, and his thumbs stroke across her cheekbones, wiping away the stray tears that have fallen.

Liz emits another tearful chuckle against his lips and breaks away, smacking him in the arm not even a moment later. "Why the hell didn't you say something?"

Jack smiles, and it's really cute. He seems pleased that she solved the little puzzle he left for her. "It wasn't my place to interfere with your happiness."

"And it didn't occur to you for even a second that maybe I wanted someone to give me a reason to stay? That maybe there was this weird part of me that wanted you to ask me to stay?" She supposes she can't be too upset with him on that account, though -- that hadn't even occurred to her until a couple minutes ago.

"Why, Lemon?" His eyes challenge her, in that fierce (non-Tyra Banks) way he has.

So she kisses him again, deeply; aggressively. Jack kisses back, matching her fervor until she gently shoves him away, her insides waging war with each other. She doesn't want to love him. But she kinda does. More than Floyd. "Because maybe there's this weird part of me, that... kinda can't keep from loving you, either." She pokes him in the chest. "And believe me buddy, I've tried."

At this, he chuckles. "Believe me, Lemon, I know how you feel." So they're on the same page with hating to love each other. That's good.

She smiles, and he looks like he wants to say something but she beats him to it. "So... what now?"

"Now, Lemon, you are left to make that decision between work and love."

Well Jack's wrong. She can have it all. They're both about to have it all. She grabs his face, "I just did," and kisses him again.

When they pull away this time, she looks down at the ticket in her hand and without thought, rips it in half. When she looks up at Jack, he looks amused. Maybe a little turned on. He smiles at her. "So, shall we head back toward Rockafeller Plaza?"

Liz bites down on her lip and when Jack leans in to kiss that lip quickly, she smiles. "Actually," she murmurs against him, breaking away, "Can we stop at Macy's or something first? Because all my stuff is on the way to Cleveland."

Jack chuckles and chivalrously takes the handle of her rolling suitcase while she grabs her purse again. He places his hand on the small of her back and keeps it there until they reach the limo. "Of course, Lemon. Of course."

Once they're in the limo, she looks down at her iPod and starts the song over, smiling down at the screen as she listens to it play from the earbuds still draped around her neck. Jack smiles over at her when he hears it too.

Damn him, he's not only gotten her to stay, but he's turned her into a Phil Collins fan too.



FIN



{x-posted to jack_liz and 30_rock}
 
 
 
stresseaterstresseater on June 21st, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
Hee. Lovely. They are MADE FOR EACH OTHER!

(But. Typos? Reverance. And Rockafeller Plaza.)
a.: jack; loves lizregalish on June 27th, 2008 05:20 am (UTC)
I concur! They are made for each other :)
stephen@charleneforever.com: 30 rock: jack/liz & i'll walk you outmichellek on June 21st, 2008 06:40 am (UTC)
I got kind of teary-eyed reading this even though I knew she was going to come back. I don't know why, even, outside of the fact that I'm apparently in a mood where the thought of Liz leaving Jack makes me irrationally sad. IDK. Anyway, this was lovely. And I do think Jack would be the hardest person for Liz to leave. Her need for him is canon, really.
a.: jack/liz; should've kissedregalish on June 27th, 2008 05:23 am (UTC)
Awww, thanks so much! The thought of Liz leaving Jack (or vice versa, really) makes me pretty darned sad right now too.

And I do think Jack would be the hardest person for Liz to leave. Her need for him is canon, really. YES. It SO is. If nothing else has established it before, Cooter definitely did.

Anyway! Thanks again :D
stephen@charleneforever.com: 30 rock: jack/liz & like a dreammichellek on June 28th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
YES. It SO is. If nothing else has established it before, Cooter definitely did.

Jack was the only one she wanted to talk to! She went into his office on instinct! She didn't even think to bring up the possible pregnancy to Pete or Jenna! I can not get over these things, still. Tina Fey is such a ship tease, y/y?
a.: jack/liz; smilesregalish on July 1st, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
Jack was the only one she wanted to talk to! She went into his office on instinct!

YES. OMG. That part SO killed me. It made me kinda want to go, "You suck, Tina Fey!" but in that joking way that business-drunk!Liz did, with the "You suck, Stan!" SUCH a ship tease.

And I just realized our manifesto is due in now just ten short days and I have done nothing with it. LOL. I'll ask for an extension.
stephen@charleneforever.com: 30 rock: jack & loves lizmichellek on July 2nd, 2008 05:10 am (UTC)
I was just going to ask about the ship manifesto, hand to God. It just sort of occurred to me, heeeeeey, isn't that due in a week or so, while I was thinking to myself that we should put in some pictorial evidence of Jack looking at her all dreamy-eyed. (Is there any rule on embedding clips? Because I think we could just put up the voicemail scene and just say, "There! He loves her. Case closed, manifesto over." Not literally but, you know. That scene is very good for the ship, even if Baldwin is the only one we see.)
a.: jack; loves lizregalish on July 2nd, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
Ha! So we still have the Jack/Liz-fan telepathy, good to know! ;D

We definitely will include pictorial evidence of Jack being all smitten with Liz. And... is there pictorial evidence for the other way around? Because we should have that too.

I don't think you can embed clips, unfortunately, but I'll double check the rules @ ship_manifesto. I just hope I don't have to sift through a ton of manga stuff, hahahaha. That community is overrun with it.

But yes. IF we can embed, that voicemail scene (and ensuing "Lemon, how are you? I just flew from New York to D.C. for you because I'm in love with you" scene) must be included :D And the end of MILF Island. And all of Succession, really.

I wonder if we could just post all of season two as our manifesto. *ponders*

ALSO: MILF ISLAND FIC. LOLOL. WHEN WILL WE EVER PICK THAT UP AGAIN.
The Mighty B: [30Rock] You told me alreadyrunawayblue on June 22nd, 2008 04:29 am (UTC)
I just wanna say; I read most of your fics a while back and they were just amazing. God, I am so happy to find a fandom with such amazing fic writers such as yourself!

And I also read both of these and they tugged at my little heartstrings so. You've done a fantastic job on all your fic, and I look forward to whatever else you come up with :>
a.: jack/liz; handsregalish on June 27th, 2008 05:25 am (UTC)
Wow, thank you so much! I'm so happy to hear that!

So glad you enjoyed this, and I definitely plan to do more fics in the future :D
(Deleted comment)
a.: liz; luffs jackregalish on June 27th, 2008 05:20 am (UTC)
Thank you very much, I'm glad you enjoyed it! :D
little perv princesschunkeymonkey81 on June 22nd, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
awww cuteness SQUARED!
a.: jack/liz; it was the cheese curlsregalish on June 27th, 2008 05:19 am (UTC)
Thanks much!! :)
a confederacy of idiotsabrokencompass on June 24th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
I know I've read this somewhere else, but I loved it just as much this time around. It was so perfect, and made me tear up, and I love how you acknowledged how movie-like it was while still making it seem real. Perfect!
a.: liz; learned the truth at seventeenregalish on June 27th, 2008 05:18 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you liked this one. As for it looking familiar, you may have read the first fic I did called "Two Ears and a Heart (Which is Currently Breaking)" which is from Jack's POV. This is the companion piece/follow-up from Liz's POV. :D
noie84noie84 on June 26th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
Aww, loves it! The whole thing was super adorable, but here's my fave part because I heart irrational Liz:
"She wonders if he checks her out more now because she wears a lot more dresses -- he always seems to enjoy this. He's probably proud of himself, thinking that it's because of him that she doesn't wear a ton of jeans and navy blue shirts anymore. Well, he's only part of the reason. So hah. He can kinda partly suck it."

a.: liz; is business!drunkregalish on June 27th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
Haha! Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I have a soft spot for irrational Liz too, hehehe.
csiAngel: 30 rock j/l elevatorcsiangel on September 4th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
My little heart skipped when I read this. I mean I knew what was going to happen cos I'd read the other one, but still, I enjoyed getting there again :-) This is great. I love the list of everything that's happened between them, and Liz blaming Jack for Floyd leaving even though it wasn't his fault. LOL!

I miss 30 Rock!!! Thank you for your fics to keep me going :-)
Amy: bondams87 on February 24th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
I know you posted this a while ago but I just got linked to it. Oh em gee. So good. Tears in eyes. Jack/Liz can never say goodbye. NEVER. Unless that happens then I'll allow it.

Gorgeous stuff.