In for a Penny. Jack/Liz, NC-17, 6800 words. "We're both unlovable workaholics, Jack, and maybe we can't have it all. But we can probably have most of it. So let's suck it up and make a baby." Spoilers through the s4 finale!
It was ten o'clock on a Monday morning and Jack was already halfway through a platter of cold-cuts and his emergency stash of Nutella. A box of assorted pastries was wedged between his computer and phone, and Jonathan was still apologizing for his oversight on the bearclaw front.
"It won't happen again, sir. I can run back to the bakery and get you some right now. I'll pay for the cab, or you can dock the value of them from my paycheck—"
"Lemon," Jack said, downing half a cheese danish in one mouthful. "For the love of God, Jonathan, just get me Lemon."
All in all it had been a good summer; GE successfully reinvented the crockpot, which meant record sales and a particularly chipper Liz Lemon ("It cooks food for you while you're not home, Jack! Real food!"). Things with Avery were going smoothly, and the Jenna Maroney Wears Dog Fur scandal had been neutralized by some fancy footwork with a wingnut animal rights organization.
The Donaghy empire had never been better, which made it that much worse when, in the space of one week, Avery discovered she wasn't actually pregnant and ran off with her prenatal nutritionist, Tracy Jordan was photographed leaving a Church's Chicken with a sixteen-year-old prostitute, and GE's new Crockowave was recalled due to wiring issues that led to house fires.
When Liz arrived, it was with a sizable box of doughnuts under one arm.
"You too, huh?" she said, plopping down in front of his desk.
"Something wrong?" Jack said.
Liz leaned over and assessed the spread of food. "Not anymore. Is that ham?"
"Help yourself, just—" He made a beckoning gesture at the doughnuts, and Liz set them on the desk.
"It turns out my renter's insurance doesn't cover crockpot-related fires," she said, rolling up two slices of meat. She shoved both of them in her mouth, tucking them in her cheek as she spoke. "So now my entire apartment smells like smoke and singed hair—" she pointed at a recently trimmed section at the side of her face, "—and I'm out a few grand in remodeling."
"It's barely noticeable," Jack lied, reaching for a Boston crème.
"Uh-huh. What's your deal? Is Colleen coming to town or something?"
"Our profit margin is down, thanks to the hacks in our legal department, and I'm newly single. Not that I mind, of course – there are other, younger fish in the sea – but losing two women I felt very deeply for in the space of three months causes one to reflect."
"Bummer." Liz took a bite of a cruller and chased it with two slices of provolone. "I'm sorry to hear that."
Jack eyed her, torn between disgust and begrudging respect.
"How is it you can eat like a Midwestern grease monkey with a mortgage and three kids, yet still be relatively attractive?"
Liz shot him a dark look and stuffed the rest of her doughnut in her mouth.
"High metabolism," she mumbled.
"Charming," Jack said, spreading Nutella on his croissant.
"I don't get it. I thought Avery was, you know—" She made a vague hand motion over her body that looked like sign language for Santa Claus.
"So did I, Lemon. Turns out the severe hormone fluctuations induced in the last month of the Dodecacil cycle mimic pregnancy. They also generate inhuman levels of oxytocin, so once she was stabilized it became clear that she did not, in fact, want to start a family."
"Oh, man. I'm really sorry, Jack."
"Yes, well. It also causes hair loss and long-term osteoarthritis, which I find strangely comforting right now."
Liz shook her head and picked up another pastry. "You sure can pick 'em."
"How are things with your gentleman caller, the pilot? I thought he seemed promising."
"Don't even get me started," she said. "I need to just accept the fact that I can't ever have a relationship with another human being. It's all fun and games until they start telling you about the medical marijuana license they got on a drunken layover in California."
Jack paused with his croissant halfway to his mouth. "A hippie?"
"He owned a bong, Jack." They both shuddered and simultaneously reached for the meat platter. "I'm never going to have a kid, am I? Every man in New York is either married or defective. And not in the cool ways, just in the really sad ones."
"I'm going to let that remark slide because you brought food, but don't think I didn't hear it." He paused and studied a blueberry muffin. "I was oddly intrigued by the idea of having children. It's a mark of success once a man reaches a certain age. You need progeny, someone to carry your good looks and hereditary heart disease into a new era."
"If you're just looking to spread your DNA around, go be a sperm donor. You get twenty bucks out of the deal, so it's basically a win-win."
"It's more than that," he said, taking a bite and savoring the sweetness of slightly over-cooked blueberries. "I want to pass on my ideals. Be the emotionally distant but financially secure father I never had."
Liz raised her eyebrows. "I'm sure you can find some woman in the city who's desperate enough to be a surrogate for you. Try Craigslist."
Jack glanced over at her, watching as she blew her bangs away from her face and piled various cold cuts into a makeshift croissant sandwich. Her hands, though unmanicured and smudged with pencil lead, were still well-formed. Her hips were broad, but suitable for bearing children; her breasts were small but functional.
Jack put his muffin down.
"Why would I do that when I have you right here?"
Liz licked jelly filling off her thumb and looked over at him. "Huh?"
"Think about it. You want a child, I want a child. We've already established that we're a good business team. And while our combined genetic cocktail isn't ideal, I'm sure..." He tilted his head to the side. "...whatever's going on with your nose is a recessive trait."
Liz raised a self-conscious hand to her face and scowled.
"Raising a kid is not like running a business, Jack. It's poopy diapers, and parent-teacher conferences, and hormonal rebellion and resentment. You can't just sell the kid to a start-up in China if it's not as profitable as you wanted it to be."
"That's why we'd be a team," he said. He could see the possibility take shape as the words came out. It all made a sick kind of sense; he was surprised he never occurred to him before. "You can live out your pre-menopausal fantasies of motherhood by dealing with all of that, and when he or she reaches a suitable age I can mold him—"
"—mold him into a hard-working, highly educated, functional member of society."
"You mean mold him into a smaller version of you? Yeah, no thanks, Jack. You're crazy."
Liz shook her head, but Jack didn't miss the appraising look she gave him as she picked at something in her teeth.
"And you're considering it. Your weird oral fixation only comes out when you're deliberating."
She snatched her hand away from her mouth.
"Look, you're upset right now. You thought Avery was the one, and she wasn't, and it sucks. But you can't just rebound into fatherhood. You're not thinking straight. I mean, come on. You're asking me of all people to mother your child. Me, Jack." She waved her hands in front of his face. "You spend most of your time criticizing me and trying to correct my life choices."
"Oh, I wouldn't say that. I respect you, Lemon. We're not so different." He paused, watching distractedly as she resumed picking at something wedged in her gums. "Well, all right, we're extremely different, but we have a few key things in common. We both clawed our way up from hopelessly mundane upbringings. We both try and repeatedly fail to strike a balance between our obsessive devotion to our careers and our fairytale ideas about normal life. We're both extremely successful on paper, and yet, in a city of over eight million people, we end up spending the vast majority of our time engaged in platonic banter with a coworker."
"Gosh, I don't know if I should be flattered or offended right now."
"Always be flattered when a superior draws comparisons between your life and theirs."
"Even when the comparisons are offensive?"
Liz picked up another doughnut and squeezed it, causing red jelly to ooze out one side. Apparently satisfied with this demonstration, she took a bite.
"You know, this is why we instituted Mental Health Day in my studio," she said. "You should go home, Jack. Get some rest and sort through all of this."
"I don't want to go home, Lemon. Somehow that's even more depressing than whatever is going on right here."
"You want to talk about depressing? When I go downstairs I have to decide if I want to risk Lutz attempting suicide again, or actually air his Krumping Baby sketch. It's bad, man. Those mental images last for a lifetime."
"Dear God, what is krumping? Is it as disgusting as it sounds?"
Liz snorted with laughter, nearly spraying crumbs across his desk.
"No way, you missed krumping?"
Before Jack could stop her, she lunged for his computer and pulled up YouTube.
"Bzuh, nope, shut up," she said, lifting her elbow to block his access to the keyboard. "You need this."
Jack rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair, watching as she pulled up a video and nodded smugly.
"What am I looking at?" he said flatly.
"The greatest cultural movement of our time. Grown men dressing as clowns and hip-hop dancing."
She grinned her particularly goofy, lopsided grin, gazing at the screen with rapt attention.
"You're right, Lemon. We should never, ever procreate."
"What's that?" she said, pumping her arms in the vaguest possible approximation of actual dance moves. She shook her head as she shimmied around his desk. "I can't hear you, I'm in the zone. I'm becoming one with the beat."
In spite of everything, Jack found himself cracking a smile.
Jack Donaghy was no stranger to adversity. He put himself through Princeton, climbed the corporate ranks of GE, and single-handedly defied a legacy of male pattern baldness. One hiccough in his personal life – married with a profound hiccough in his professional life – was not enough to stop him for long.
When Liz sailed into the elevator two days later, he met her dour expression with folded arms and a cool nod.
"How are things, Jack?" she said, juggling a bag of Sabor de Soledad and her woebegone tote bag. By the time she got it hooked over her shoulder, Jack had already punched the button for her floor.
"Good, Lemon. Good. I think we've successfully played off this Crockowave disaster by utilizing one of our shadow companies. They'll launch a line of meal-in-a-bag items to cater to our new-found consumer demographic, while we focus on re-marketing the classic microwave. Simple. Elegant. Flame-retardant."
"Smart move." Liz tossed a cheese puff in the air; it bounced off her glasses and landed in her mouth, and she threw up a victory fist. "My meals almost exclusively come in bags."
Jack eyed the Sabor de Soledad.
"I thought you kicked that habit."
"I don't know," she said, "I think my body has adjusted to all the weird hormones. I went a couple weeks without them, and it was... bad." She shoved a handful into her mouth and held the bag out to him. "'oo wan' thum?"
Jack held up a hand. "No, thank you. I don't think essence of bull semen would sit well with me at the moment, and I'm more or less out of the woods on the stress eating front."
"Really? No more midlife crisis baby-crazies?" Liz swallowed and waggled her eyebrows. "Did I call that, or what?"
"Not as much, no. I'm weaning myself off the idea by watching reruns of 16 and Pregnant."
"No way! Did you see the one last night with Whitney and Weston? The girl's mother is pregnant too—"
"—and the young couple bakes a cake for Whitney's grandmother before moving out, because she's the only one in the family who supports them—"
"—and they find out later the baby has that messed up genetic disorder," Liz finished, clutching her chest.
They both fell silent and looked in opposite directions, as though the severity of the situation dawned on them at the same time.
"Yikes," Liz said.
She looked down at her cheese puffs and offered them to him again. Jack sighed, shut his eyes, and reached into the bag.
It was almost a full week later when Liz burst into Jack's office, leaving a horrified looking Jonathan making jazz-hands outside his door.
"Okay, fine, you win."
"I beg your pardon?"
"You win, Jack." She put one hand on her hip and threw the other in the air. "You're right, I concede, so spare me your whole gloating, 'I knew you'd come around, Lemon,' routine."
"Believe it or not, I'm right about nearly everything," he said, motioning to Jonathan to shut the door. "You'll need to be more specific."
"Aw, don't make me say it." Jack raised his eyebrows and Liz stomped her foot. "The kid thing! I keep holding out for something and expecting my life to change, but it's never going to happen. I thought Carol was the one, just like I thought Floyd was the one, and Dennis was... a human being. We're both unlovable workaholics, Jack, and maybe we can't have it all. But we can probably have most of it. So let's suck it up and make a baby."
"Oh, that." Jack folded his hands and leaned back in his chair. "I'm glad to hear you've come around."
"Shmeh," she said, deflating into an armchair.
"Can I ask what prompted this sudden change? Let me guess, another choking incident? Oh, wait, no." He held up a finger, willing it to come to him. "You had the sudden realization that your relationship with the delivery boy from the Vietnamese restaurant on the corner is the longest you've ever had with a man."
"For your information, what Chong-Duy and I have is pure and beautiful."
Jack waved a careless hand. "Whatever the reason, I'm delighted to hear you've reconsidered."
"Yeah, well, not so fast. If we're actually going to do this thing, we need to have some ground rules."
"Of course. That's what lawyers are for."
"I don't want all the goobers around here knowing about this, so we need to keep it on the down-down-down low."
"As far as I'm concerned, no one needs to know this child is mine until much further down the road. I'll require visits for ball games, golf outings, and Young Illuminati of America meetings, but the rest is all you."
"Great. And I don't like hyphenated last names, so the kid is getting mine."
"Agreed. A Lemon-Donaghy sounds like a broken down American automobile. Naturally I'd prefer the child take my name, but for discretion's sake that's out of the question. What else?"
"That's all I could think of on the way up here," she said. "Is there anything you want to add?"
"I'll have to insist that this child gets adequate socialization and proper extracurricular activities. We're not going to raise a mouth-breathing Trekkie whose only marketable skill is a command of sarcasm developed to cope with rejection and personal failures."
"Oh, right, because growing up as an emotionally stunted, money-worshipping WASP has worked out so well for your personal life." Jack perked his eyebrows and said nothing. Liz sighed and rolled her eyes. "Fine."
"We need a clause making it clear that in the unlikely event one or both of us enters a long-term monogamous relationship, the terms of our agreement won't change. We both have stock in this child's mental and emotional well-being, and we will have to treat it like the offspring of a former marriage."
"Bitterness and years of therapy, check."
"I'll also need to sign off on first and middle names. Nothing against your judgment, but the margin for error with a surname like Lemon is vast."
"I was thinking Orange Marmalade for a girl, and Dill Pickle if it's a boy."
"It's good to know you're taking this seriously," Jack said, rising to pour himself two fingers of scotch. He sloshed some in a glass for Liz and handed it off to her. "I'll make an appointment with Dr. Spaceman tomorrow. Once we have a better idea of the specifics, I'll have my private lawyer draw up a contract."
"Wow," she said, grinning and pulling her shoulders up around her ears. "Secret babies and clandestine contracts. If only Kathy Geiss could see us now."
Before he could fight it off, one of Jack's eyelids dropped in a full-on facial tic.
"Sorry," Liz said. "Too soon?"
Jack pinched the bridge of his nose and nodded.
It took two weeks for the blood work to get back to Dr. Spaceman, and another twenty minutes into their second appointment for him to finish using them as a word jumble.
"Well," he finally said, capping his pen and looking at each of them in turn. "The good news is that you're both completely healthy and capable of having children."
Liz glanced over at Jack when Leo didn't continue. "So what's the bad news?"
"Let me be frank, Ms. Lemon. The medical procedure you're interested in is both unreliable and extremely gross."
"Gross?" Jack repeated.
"Well, the first step involves you ejaculating into a cup, Jack," he said, folding his hands. "And I should warn you, I like to watch. That sample is then sent to our laboratory until the time of fertilization. After all the budget cuts around here, we share our laboratory with a fantastic veterinary hospital, so... I'm not saying it will happen, but provided it even takes, there's always a chance Liz here will get fertilized with a sample from a stud horse and give birth to a centaur."
"That sounds... wrong," Jack said slowly.
"I think the word you're looking for is 'unnatural', Jack," Leo chuckled. "Completely against God's plan."
"Oh boy," Liz said, getting to her feet.
Leo frowned as the door slammed shut behind her. "Is she on Dodecacil?"
By the time Jack caught up with Liz, she was already on the street and hailing a cab.
"For God's sake, Lemon, stop acting like a hobo," he said, gripping her elbow and steering her to the limo idling by the curb. She tugged her arm away, but once she slid in next to him her obvious interest seemed to override her irritation.
"Wow," she said. "These are bigger inside than they look."
"Don't tell me you've never been in a limousine."
"Not exactly. I dated a guy in college who worked for one of those Cuisine Limousine food delivery places, but it was really just a black sedan that smelled like pizza."
Jack poured himself a drink as they pulled away from the curb, not quite ready to dignify that with a response. Liz sighed and gazed out the tinted window.
"I can't keep doing this, Jack. Getting my hopes up about baby stuff over and over. When I think about the future with a kid, I become, like, 35% more functional. I start thinking about how I need to eat better, and I pick out color swatches for the awesome nursery I want to have. And then for whatever reason it's just like, oh, never mind, back to spending my nights ordering infomercial junk and eating off-brand rocky road ice cream."
Jack winced. Somehow the truth of her day to day existence outside the office was always far worse than what he imagined. It was hard to fathom how anyone could be content settling for so little when their raw potential was so great.
"You're taking 'no' for an answer, Lemon. That's your first mistake. We just have to reassess, readapt and find another way to do it."
"Do it?" Liz turned to look at him, furrowing her eyebrows in a way that creased her forehead unattractively.
"Do it," he repeated. "I assume you understand the basic functions of human biology. When a man and a woman—"
"Yeah, thank you, I've had the sex talk. We were all fifteen once." She squirmed, the line between her eyebrows deepening. "You're saying you want to actually do it?"
"Remember Button Classic? Sometimes it doesn't help to over-think these things. If we're comfortable using one another's genetic material to conceive a child, we should be capable of having intercourse."
"Ugh, gross, don't use that word," she said. "Having a kid together is one thing, but that's just – I mean, we have to work together. You're still my boss. How am I supposed to look you in the eye and complain about Jenna and Tracy once you've... once I've... once that's happened?"
"Perseverance is all about how you mentally frame a situation. Did I have reservations about blackmailing the head of microwave programming into early retirement? Of course I did. But once I reframed it as an opportunity for him to reunite with his secret family in Uruguay, it was easy."
"I don't know, Jack." She wrinkled her nose. "Sex is... eugh."
"Eugh as it may be, I don't see many options. I'm not saying it will be the most pleasant experience for either of us, or that there won't be a fair amount of liquor involved on my end, but if we're committed to this idea, it's our only course of action."
"The horse baby might not be so bad, right?" she said hopefully. "He could be on the track team! And he'd never ask to borrow the car."
"Yeah, okay. Come over tomorrow at nine. You should know I don't like foreplay, massages, or dirty-talk."
Jack lifted his drink in a toast before knocking it back.
"I can hardly wait."
Engaging in sexual congress with Liz Lemon was not a project one could take lightly. It required the kind of mental and emotional preparation a man underwent before shipping out to war. He had to be ready for anything, expect nothing, and hope he lived in a time of miracles.
When Jack arrived at Liz's apartment the next night, it was after a fortifying amount of whiskey, soul-searching, and time with his most reliable naughty librarian fantasies.
Nothing, though, could prepare him for the sight of her flannel pajamas, freshly scrubbed face and sleep socks.
"This was a mistake," he said, turning on his heel.
"Aw, come on, Jack," she said. "I can be sexy! Ish!"
He waved over his shoulder as headed toward the elevator. "Shut it down!"
"This is why you aren't already a baby-daddy," she said, her voice rising as he retreated further down the hall. "Your expectations are too high! Come on, I'm ovulating! I waxed for this! Oh, hi, Mrs. Fitzgerald. No, you don't need to call the police."
"Good night, Lemon," he called, opting to take the stairs.
It took her fifteen minutes to arrive when Jack had Jonathan call her into his office the next day.
"As much as I enjoy our pow-wows, can we not do this right now? I was up till midnight because of our little 'domestic disturbance'." She made exaggerated air quotes around the words. "I had to convince the crazy lady next door that you weren't another lousy boyfriend, and then sit through three hours of stories about her husband who died in Korea."
"I figured it out," Jack announced, getting to his feet. "Honestly, I don't know why it didn't occur to me sooner."
"Figured what out?"
"The answer to our little problem last night."
"You mean your problem? 'Cause I didn't have a problem, Jack. I was ready. It was gross and potentially emotionally scarring, but I was ready for you to get up on this." She gestured at her chest and nodded in a smug way. "So, yeah. Just... think about that."
"Stop it. No, our problem. Doing this conventionally isn't going to work because we're not conventional people. If either of us is going to get through the this whole process, we need to do it in a way that caters to the peculiar nature of our relationship."
"What does that even mean?"
"Lean over the desk, Lemon."
"Huh what now?"
"Lean over the desk," he repeated, gesturing at it and reaching for his belt buckle. "We're doing this here."
"Oh, no," she said, holding up both hands. "No, no, no. This is way too weird, and that's saying something, because the baby thing is pretty much the World Cup of weird."
Jack looked up at the ceiling for a moment.
"We can do this your way – you dismiss me out of hand, go off to discuss it with your subordinates using thinly-veiled hypotheticals that clue all of them into the specifics of the situation, then come bursting in here admitting defeat – or we can skip past all of that and just do it my way."
"This is ridiculous, Jack. I'm not going to boink you in your office. Jonathan is right outside! And I have a ton of work to do. And you have that painting with the creepy eyes that always follow you."
She glanced over at the portrait of Don Geiss and shifted to the left, as though testing it.
"Think about it," he said, rounding the desk. "You're married to your job, so what better place to conceive a child? You like to pretend you hate the stress and daily humiliation, but secretly there's nothing you like better than needing to be in two places at once. You thrive on the responsibility and impossible demands because the more you do here, the more you can justify indulging your couch potato tendencies at the end of the day."
"I don't – what?"
"Right now there are thirty employees downstairs slacking off. Two actors are involved in unspeakable and undoubtedly public fiascos. Someone has convinced Kenneth that his laughable job description includes things only Thai hookers get paid to do. It's your responsibility to put out all of those fires, and on top of that, you need to get knocked up." He inched closer, backing her against the edge of his desk. "There's only so much time in a day. What's it going to be? Which responsibility are you going to neglect?"
"None of them!" she blurted. "I'm good at my job! I can do it all!"
"Of course you can. You always do. That's why everyone looks to you to solve their problems. You always pick up the slack they thrust on you, over and over again." He didn't miss the way her breaths started to quicken, her eyes widening behind her glasses. "You knuckle down and take it, take all of it, and give them what they need. You run a tight ship because you're a well-oiled machine."
"I'm kind of turned on right now," she muttered.
"I know. Me too. So lean over this desk and start working."
Liz turned on the spot, placing her hands at either side of his name plate and shifting her legs apart.
"How do you do that?" she panted.
"Do what?" Jack said, sliding his hand up the back of her leg and under the hem of her dress. "Push your buttons? Don't you remember what I told you the first time we met?"
Liz gasped as he hooked his fingers around the leg of her practical cotton panties and yanked them to the side.
"My shoes were bicurious?"
"I know you, Lemon," he hissed against her ear, leaning over her as he slid two fingers in. She was wet already, but he had already guessed that. "I know you like no one else does. They all expect things of you, want you to be something you're not. Sure, I push you—" he twisted his fingers, thumbing at her clit, "—but only in the ways you need to be pushed. I know what you're capable of."
"Jack—" She squirmed, her fingers curling against the wood of the desk.
"Shh. You're capable of this, aren't you?"
"Yeah," she groaned. "Oh, brother."
Jack unbuckled his belt with one hand, tugging down his zipper. He bit his lip as he grabbed his cock and pulled it free from his boxers. She was still fully clothed, her hair pulled back and her glasses on. The noises she made as he fucked his fingers into her were high-pitched and undignified. She was every bit the Lemon he always knew, the kind of woman who never shaved above the knee, but he was hard. He wanted this, in some messed up, repressed, Mommy issue kind of way.
Jack sucked in a sharp breath as he pulled his fingers out and slid his cock into her. She tensed around him, bracing herself against the desk and leaning back into it.
"Oh, God," she huffed. "This is so—"
"Unprofessional," he finished, bottoming out and shutting his eyes. She was hot inside, and for a moment he let himself savor it, enjoying it for exactly what it was.
"Jack," she said again. He gripped her hips and rocked out and back in, moving with short, deliberate strokes. He could smell her practical, cheap shampoo – undoubtedly something with the phrase frizz control in the name – when he turned his face against the side of her neck.
"Say it, Lemon," he whispered, driving into her so hard she leaned forward on her palms. "Say you can have it all."
"I can – sheez, I can have it all."
"You're good at your job," he encouraged, sliding a hand down to rub her clit. "You're a manager."
"I'm a – manager," she repeated. "Oh, I manage."
"That's it," he murmured, grazing his teeth over her throat as his other hand crept up to grip one of her breasts. Either she had invested in a push-up bra or her usual cardigans were deceptive, because it was a surprisingly firm handful. "You're the one in charge. You know what you want and you take it."
"I take it," she said, tensing around him.
"Yes," he said. "That's it. What do you want?"
"Harder," she said breathlessly. "Do me – harder. That's a thing, right?"
"You tell me," Jack said. She groaned as he picked up speed, rocking her up on her toes as he drove into her.
"Oh my God," she huffed, knocking her head back against his shoulder. "Oh my God, I think I'm—"
"Do it, Lemon." He yanked down the front of her dress, plucking at a nipple. "Get yours. Be the executive."
Her chest shuddered with the force of it when she came, grinding herself back and forth between his cock and his fingers. His thrusts got smoother, sharper, as she soaked her panties.
"Sweet jiminy Christmas fuck," she blurted out, gripping the edge of his desk and knocking his pen holder to the floor. "It's so—"
"Good?" He rubbed circles around her clit knowingly, caught up in the bizarre rush of endorphins that came every time he saw her succeed. It translated into arousal surprisingly well. "I know."
"Keep doing that. I think there's another – yep, oh God—"
Her spine stiffened and she clenched around him just before the intercom on Jack's phone came on.
"I've just been told there's an emergency on floor six," Jonathan said, his voice high and panicky. "It involves Mr. Jordan and a parakeet. Liz is needed there immediately."
"Nerds," she panted.
Maybe it was the shock of the interruption, or maybe it was that ridiculous exclamation she always used, but Jack lost it – thrusting in one last time and coming with a hard, barely suppressed groan.
He kept one hand on her back as he snapped her panties back into place and tucked himself in. She stayed there, propped up against the desk even when he let go to buckle his belt.
"You can turn around now, Lemon," he said, amused.
She did so a little reluctantly, not quite meeting his gaze.
"Wow. So that was weird, right?" she said, adjusting her dress. "Was that some kind of Six Sigma mentoring technique?"
"Yes, actually. It's only revealed when you reach level R-14." Jack crossed the room to pick up his glass of scotch. It was tempting to give in to the post-coital lethargy stealing over him, but years of training had taught him to fight it off.
"Right. Well, uh. I should go deal with—" She waved a hand at the door. "Tracy and household pets are not a good combination, so."
"You're the manager," Jack said, pointing at her. Liz let out a high, nervous laugh, and Jack rolled his eyes. "For God's sake, be an adult. We've found an effective and mutually beneficial way to achieve our goal. This is no time to succumb to your crippling awkwardness."
Liz cleared her throat and stood up straighter, looking at him directly. "It was a pleasure doing business with you, Jack. I look forward to our next collaboration."
"There you go," Jack said. He knocked back his scotch and watched as she squared her shoulders and walked out the door.
Liz did an impressive job of avoiding him the next few days.
Jack tried to not push the issue, confident that she would come around in her own time. On Tuesday he had a gourmet cheese platter delivered to her office, which garnered no response. When Thursday rolled around and he hadn't heard so much as a peep about the TGS drama of the week, he finally gave up and went looking for her.
"It's just not fair," Jenna was bellowing when Jack got to Liz's office. "I should have that guest spot on Glee! Don't you think I'm prettier than her?"
"Of course," Liz said patiently. "But you're also, like, twenty-mumble years older than her."
Jenna stiffened. "You don't think I can act like a child? Because I can act like a child, Liz."
"Sorry to interrupt," Jack said, stepping into the room. "May I have a word?"
"I don't think this is a good time," Liz said, looking at Jenna rather than Jack. "This is a pretty big deal, so—"
"Don't be silly," Jenna said. Her entire demeanor seemed to shift as she stood up, patting her hair and eyeing him with a wide smile. "It can wait."
"No, Jenna, I really think—" Liz craned around, looking past Jack, and only gave up when Jenna winked at him and shut the door.
"Subtle," he said, unbuttoning his jacket and taking the seat she vacated.
Liz sighed and folded her hands on the desk. She looked good, in her own Lemony way. Her hair was pulled away from her face, the dark circles under her eyes were less pronounced than usual, and although she looked both cornered and resigned, she was meeting the situation head-on.
"I see you got my cheese platter," he said, spotting the pile of wrappers and peeled wax by her mouse pad. "I hope it was to your liking."
"Yeah, actually, that was pretty awesome," she said, following his gaze. "There were cheeses in there I didn't even know existed, which is weird, because I spend a surprising amount of time reading about them on Wiki—"
"You're avoiding me, Lemon," Jack interrupted, cutting to the chase. "It's a classic power play. Make the other person come to you. Well done."
"It wasn't a power play. I was just avoiding this conversation. And, you know, I do have other stuff to do. Tracy's pet lizard died—"
"Yasmine died? I'm sorry to hear that."
"—and now I have this situation with Jenna and Glee—"
"You should have come to me about that. I know people. You might say I have Fox & Friends with benefits."
"Ew. Wait, what does that even mean?"
"Gretchen Carlson and I have a colorful past."
Liz shook her head a little, as though she were trying to rattle those mental images loose.
"What's the problem here, Lemon? You seemed to enjoy yourself the other day."
"That is the problem! We weren't supposed to like it!" She leaned forward, her voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper. "And I did. It was very... grot."
"Grot," she said, waving a hand dismissively. "It's something Jenna came up with for situations that are simultaneously gross and hot."
"Oh. Then yes, that's exactly what it was. I admit that was an unexpected turn of events, but I don't see why it should be unwelcome."
"This is what I was afraid of, Jack. We have a good relationship here. I come to you with my crazy work problems, you come to me with your crazy real person problems. When you're stressed out we share a mutual love of food. There's a system! And I need the system. Because, you know what? This sucks. I forgot what it was like trying to corral these freaks by myself. It hasn't even been one full week and I'm ready to take a hostage."
"Never take hostages. No one negotiates with terrorists, even in the workplace."
"See? That's what I'm talking about! I don't know how to function without your weird pearls of wisdom that sound like they come from a Sri Lanka business training boot camp."
"Why do you assume that these two relationships need to be mutually exclusive? That this can't be part of the system, and that it hasn't always been?" Jack crossed his legs and studied her. "Believe it or not, Lemon, men and women are incapable of just being friends. There's always a certain amount of sexual tension at work, whether or not it's reciprocated or acknowledged."
"That's not true," she scoffed. "That's just a myth perpetuated by horny losers. Pete and I have been friends for years, and—"
Jack lifted his eyebrows.
"And he stays at your place every time he's having marital problems, has repeatedly passed out drunkenly on your doorstep, and is the only person in this office other than me who remembers your birthday. You know who in this office remembers my birthday, Lemon? You and—"
"Jonathan," she said, furrowing her eyebrows over at her computer. "Oh my God, does Pete have a thing for me?"
"Sexual tension, neither reciprocated nor acknowledged."
"But we don't – I mean, you and I don't – we make jokes about that stuff."
"You make jokes," he said. "Which is your time-honored method of repressing and denying serious issues. It's the same reason Irish Catholics drink, and Kenneth laughs nervously. You can make your badger face all you want, but you know I'm right. You would never have agreed to have a child with Pete, or any other male coworker."
"Uh, yeah, because they're all crazy."
"I'm not saying it makes sense, Lemon, but there's chemistry here. Reciprocated and acknowledged."
Liz scratched at her neck and screwed her face up in a way that usually preceded a semi-abashed, semi-delighted story about how many eggrolls she ate the night before.
"It was the most fun sex I've had since I got Floyd to wear a Jedi robe."
"I'm going to repress and deny that," Jack said. "So do we have an understanding?"
"Man, I don't know. What are we supposed to do now? Have weird sex around the office until we have a secret baby? Do we keep having the weird sex after we have the secret baby?"
"This development might require some changes to the intimacy clause of our secret baby contract, but I see no reason why these mutually acceptable sexual encounters should end, if and when said secret baby is conceived." Liz lifted her hands and shook her head at him. Jack adjusted his suit jacket. "Yes, that's what we're supposed to do now."
She pulled the corners of her mouth down thoughtfully. "I guess I'm cool with that."
"Good," Jack said, leaning forward. "Because if that deplorable display with Jenna was anything to go by, your managerial skills need some serious work."
Liz smirked and folded her arms.
"You don't know the half of it. I let Lutz and Toofer go home early today." She narrowed her eyes, going in for the kill. "Before Jenna came in, I was working on their rewrites."
"God, Lemon, I could spank you right now."
She slid her glasses off and stood up, perching on the edge of her desk. The look on her face was equal parts come-hither and the smug amusement of a shared secret.
For some reason, it worked for him.
"Let's do this," she said, raising an eyebrow.
It was more than a little weird, and definitely somewhat grot, but Jack could tell the Donaghy empire had righted itself again. And it just might get an heir.