Title: The Secret Life of Liz Lemon
Summary: What’s she hiding?
Timeline: Post-season 5 finale.
I don’t even question the stuff that comes out of my brain anymore; it’s 100 degrees out and I want a Popsicle but there aren’t any around.
“How was your summer break, Lemon?”
“Awesome. I picked up trash for two months and got off early for good behavior. Then I spent the rest of the time—”
“—watching Storage Wars and trying every Ben & Jerry’s flavor?” he interrupts (with usual accuracy).
Liz grins. She doesn’t even look offended.
“Late Night Snack is really, really good,” she says earnestly.
Liz’s cheerful mood is infectious, if unusual, and Jack smiles at her with only mild disapproval.
“Noted,” he nods.
“I thought potato chips on a sandwich were it, but I was wrong, Jack. They’re even—”
“—better in ice cream,” they say at the same time.
“Ha, ha,” she rolls her eyes. “How did you know I was gonna say that?”
“I would argue that I know you better than you know yourself.”
She looks good. Slightly tan, and even a little toned. He wonders if she found a way to the beach after all.
“So what did you do all summer?” Liz asks as the elevator arrives. He punches the button for their floors, and braces for the familiar lurch.
“Oh, a little of this, a little of that.”
She nods sagely. “Ah, yes. The markets, and such. I, um, know them well.”
“Really, Lemon? Have you finally put your ridiculous notions aside and invested in something worthwhile?”
The elevator stops at Six, and Liz gets off.
“Something like that.”
She winks, and the doors close before he can reply.
He gets wrapped up in work and it’s days later when he sees her again. Or, rather, he sees the back of her.
“Hold it, Lemon. Where are you off to?”
She halts in the area in front of the elevators, and turns to face him somewhat sheepishly. Almost as if she has been caught at something. “Oh, hey, Jack. I was just on my way out.”
“It’s barely six. I must say this is unlike you.”
She shrugs. “I have some errands to run, and I’m pretty much done for the day, so…”
Suddenly her face goes blank, and he narrows his eyes suspiciously. “I see.”
“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” she says innocently, and she gives a little wave as the doors slide shut.
She is up to something. He always finds out; it is only a matter of time. He almost forgets to feel hurt that she’s keeping him out of the loop.
As the days roll by, Jack’s nagging feeling grows. Not once has she barged into his office with some issue or another, and it bothers him.
So when he catches Liz skipping out for the third time in as many weeks, he decides to get to the bottom of it. As she steps into a waiting elevator, she spots him. Smiles politely. He keeps his face neutral as he nods once, but does not join her. After he sends off a quick text to Jonathon that he is unavailable until further notice, he slips into the next elevator to…stalk his prey.
It nearly kills him to ride the subway, but he manages. She doesn’t even look in his direction (the car is crowded, and there is no way he would ever ride the subway), and he successfully follows her to Riverside Drive. He watches as she slips into her building, and frowns. Why would she leave early, only to return home? He calls his town car with plans to reevaluate his actions, and while he waits, he puzzles over the situation. If she wished to shorten her work hours, why wouldn’t she discuss it with him first?
His car arrives, and just as he closes the door behind him, a figure emerges from the apartment building. He barely glimpses her face before her backside is retreating towards the end of the sidewalk block, but he is almost positive that it’s Lemon. He watches as the woman walks a few more feet, and pauses next to a large black motorcycle. When she turns, he can see from the profile that it is indeed his best friend, and he continues to stare with raised eyebrows as she arranges her hair into a secure topknot before tugging on a dark helmet. With a tug of her sleeves, she zippers the leather jacket up and climbs over the seat to straddle the bike. She kicks once, and sets off down the street.
Jack yells a little too loudly at his driver to follow her at once.
As they speed down the highway out of the city, Jack attempts to make sense of it all. She has a motorcycle. She has clearly ridden plenty of times before. (He can tell by the way she tied up her locks—obviously familiar with helmet hair—and the unusual dexterity with which she zipped up her jacket). He can see that she rides well, which fascinates him, because as far as he knows she hasn’t had a license of any sort since the early 90’s. He is at once surprised, impressed, and insulted at her secret.
How could she hide this from him?
A few hours later, Jack is startled out of his thoughts when her bike signals to pull off at an exit. He realizes that they are somewhere upstate, not that he has been paying attention to signs. His driver has been careful to keep his distance, and he is confident that Lemon is unaware that a black car has been trailing her.
As the day fades into cool twilight, she pulls off the state road at what looks like a converted barn. A small sign boasts the words ‘Dancing Cat Saloon’, and Jack instructs his driver to travel a little further before circling back as to not appear obvious. Satisfied with his plan, he thinks over what he will say when he confronts Biker Lemon. He looks out the window, and thinks of how he has almost forgotten what stars look like.
She sits at the bar, drinking something unmistakably darker than her usual white wine and Sprite. Without a word, he claims the stool next to her and orders a hard scotch from the middle-aged woman behind the bar. He immediately feels her notice him, and he can practically hear her narrowed eyes.
“What are you doing here, Jack?”
Before he turns, Jack carefully schools his features into a stoic expression.
This turns out to be harder than he’d planned, because while Liz is indeed glowering at him, he has never experienced her wrath like this. Her eyes are infinitely brown and rimmed with black kohl, and the effect is smoldering. He clears his throat.
“Yes, took me long enough; I’m aware.”
She just looks at him.
Jack continues, “Not that I haven’t noticed these past weeks. I’ve just been waiting for the proper moment.”
“I can’t believe you followed me.” In the next beat, she seethes, “Actually, yes, I can.”
“I was curious,” is all he can come up with.
Her anger fades into something else. Liz barely shakes her head, and her small smile is tinged with sadness.
“The man who knows me better than myself,” she says dryly.
He tries to look away and fails. He can’t get over it. Since when does Lemon know what eyeliner is?
“Why hide it?” he says instead.
She takes a sip of her drink, and blows a stray hair from her face. He waits while she seems to consider her words.
“It’s hard to explain, Jack. Just that…this isn’t a part of who I am, I guess. It’s not something that makes sense in the real Liz Lemon world.”
He can’t help but raise his eyebrows. “The ‘real world’?”
“Yeah, you know. Like, I go to work. I go home. I eat. I watch TV. Liz Lemon isn’t reckless. She doesn’t do dangerous things…” she trails off, and he wonders if she is aware of her slip into third person. He finds it interesting, this doppelganger of sorts; this escape she has cultivated because behaving this way in the city would be unacceptable. He can hardly imagine the chaos that would ensue, and he starts to understand a little more, though he is still unsure as to why she chose this outlet as means of relaxing. Jack is at a loss for how to approach this side of her.
While he searches for a response, he notes to himself that she looks quite attractive in the black leather jacket. Actually, it’s unsettling.
The bar is fairly packed, for a Thursday, with a small band jamming in one corner. The clientele is decades older than Jack is used to, and he tries (and fails) to think of the last time he was able to simply walk into a nightlife venue without bribery, a reservation, or knowing someone important. He wonders if she’s ever had a turn at the microphone, or how many of these men she’s danced with. He stops the train of thought before he considers exactly how far she may have gone with any of them.
“What exactly do you do here?” he asks.
She is still faintly pissed off. Avoids his question. “Jack, you shouldn’t be here.”
With a start, he realizes the truth of this statement—that in his expensive suit and custom tie, it is he who does not belong.
The bartender interrupts their exchange. “Another one, Liz?”
“No, thanks, Pat,” she says, pushing her empty class away. She seems tired to Jack, and he suddenly feels as if he has intruded on her. He feels other things, too…his own exhaustion; hurt that she didn’t share this with him. Lust.
Good god, where did that one come from?
Yet…he doesn’t want to fight it. Perhaps here, in this parallel universe, he doesn’t have to.
She closes her eyes for a long moment, and he steals the opportunity to study her face. Her lashes are so dark…and there are her lips, looking softer by the minute. He nearly loses it when he sees that she is unconsciously biting the bottom one.
“I’m sorry, Lemon,” he says lowly.
Upon his apology, she looks at him with the shadow of a frown.
“I kinda always figured you’d find out. If not, I probably would have told you eventually.”
“Really,” he says, and watches her face soften. He makes his decision.
“Well, yeah. I just wanted to have this one to myself for a while, you know?”
He moves in closer, and somehow she doesn’t look upset or even confused. Maybe it’s too soon to give her credit, because it’s possible she has no idea what he’s doing.
“I understand,” Jack says, thinking of his cookie jars.
He pushes an escaped strand of chestnut hair back into its bun, and Liz swallows once.
“Jack…?” Her lips part. She finally has the modesty to look unsure.
He looks at her silently, and eventually, understanding washes over her face.
“Are you sure?” she barely whispers.
“After what I’ve seen today, Lemon, there’s no way that I cannot.”
As usual, she interferes with all of his plans and closes the distance between them before he can.
Her lips taste like alcohol and he doesn’t mind one bit. Against him she is as soft as he’d guessed, and somehow cold. Refreshing. He tastes her, drinks her; devours her. She can’t breathe and he doesn’t try to.
When Jack pulls away, she exhales audibly. There is excitement crackling, but also acceptance; resolve.
Here, in the middle of nowhere, she is not who she usually is. Jack knows he has followed, for he felt the beginning of it the second they got off the freeway. Now, they simply are counterparts of their normal selves; matching in every way, except that their spirits are uninhibited. It is incredibly freeing.