Title: Remember Me?
Timeline: Post season-6 finale.
Summary: When Liz wakes up in the hospital having lost three years of memory, she’s about to find out just how much things have changed. Inspired by Sophie Kinsella’s novel of the same name. All belongs to her and Tina; I own nothing!Pairing: Jack/Liz
“Yes, the amnesia reaches to right after Criss left,” Liz confirms, and Jack clears his throat to compose himself.
“I see. This must be difficult for you,” he says slowly, unsure of where to tread next.
She nods gloomily, but he doesn’t pursue the train of thought. In search of a topic, Liz looks around the room at all of his hanging recognitions and plaques, then turns back to face him.
“Looks like you got everything you wanted.” She smiles genuinely. “Congratulations, Jack.”
He meets her gaze for just a second too long before looking away, and he decides that he can’t lie to her. It would be easy, to make her believe that things are peachy between them, but it would not be fair.
“Not everything,” he mutters.
Liz is used to his constant murmuring, so she hears his words easily.
“Oh, really?” she demands, hands finding her hips. “What could you possibly be missing?”
For god’s sake, the man is never satisfied, and she’s just about sick of it.
But he brushes it off. “Never mind, Liz.”
She fixes him with a frustrated stare, finding a new bothersome detail to cling to. “Why are you doing that?” she asks in irritation. “You never call me that.”
He frowns back with confusion in his blue eyes. “It’s your name,” he says plainly.
“I know it’s my name. I wanna know why you’ve suddenly conformed to what everyone else calls me.”
“You asked me to refrain from using your last name a few years ago, out of a desire to keep things professional between us,” he admits.
She’s confused again. “Why would I do that? We are friends; I wouldn’t have cared,” Liz says, cocking her head to one side. Jack looks at her for an endless moment, and she’s about had it with his standoffish behavior when he opens his mouth again.
“Were,” he corrects.
And her stomach jumps into her throat, his reply dragging her to the verge of having a breakdown. It can’t be. He’s lying—he has to be lying. He is all she had…
“What happened?” she asks in a small voice, deathly afraid of the explanation. Jack doesn’t answer for a minute, leaving her to dream up the worst-case scenarios (she’s always been good at that) while he walks to his liquor stash to pour them drinks. Liz takes a seat on the leather couch, which seems much stiffer than her memory serves, and he hands her a glass.
“Please understand that anything I say next is not meant to upset you,” he begins. “I only wish to explain our circumstances, and of course I will answer any questions you may have,” Jack adds.
“O…okay,” she stammers. “Go ahead.”
It must be really bad if he’s breaking it down for her like this. Liz sets down the untouched drink and curls her hands into fists at her sides, hoping that they can work out whatever is going on.
“About three years ago—which is why this is such an odd coincidence, that you’ve lost exactly that much memory—Criss walked out on the greatest woman he’d ever been with,” Jack says bitterly. Liz winces at the reminder, and then can’t help smiling a little at the sureness in his voice.
“Thanks, Jack,” she says, thinking of his promise to only say as much once a decade. But even Jack has exceptions to his rules.
“Yes, anyways, moving on. It crushed you—it really did. You ignored my, and anyone else’s, attempts at communication for nearly a week, and I was about to make a visit in person when I was alerted that you had showed up at Kenneth’s party.”
Liz grimaces at the foggy memory, feeling positive that she was a total mess that night.
“I arrived at his…event, and upon assessing your pathetic state, I promptly urged you to return with me in the town car. Obviously, you insisted on taking a cab. I called one, which is when you slipped in a puddle. After you regained consciousness, there was no way I wasn’t accompanying you home, and I made sure that you returned safely.”
She vaguely remembers Jack showing up at the party, though of course it all went blank after she fell. She hopes that she didn’t throw up on him or anything.
“Thanks,” she says. “I owe you one.”
He shakes his head. “It’s all in the past. But there’s more to the story,” Jack continues.
Oh, god. This is when he tells her that she did something stupid out of grief.
“A few nights after the party, you showed up at my door absolutely hysterical with crying. You seemed ready to talk, so I welcomed you in. After mostly rambling on about shattered dreams, you calmed down.”
Well, good. So she regained her sanity after all.
“Then you kissed me,” he says, effectively contradicting her last thought.
Liz thinks he must be joking, until she sees that his face is deadly serious—he really isn’t kidding.
“You were quite sober, I believe.”
She doesn’t know how to reply to this. “Wow.”
“It was impulsive; you admitted as much. But it was equally my fault that I didn’t resist for the next few hours.”
“Hours?” she says in horror.
“Don’t worry. We…were not completely intimate that night, after each coming to our own realizations.”
“You were quite distressed, I remember. You were upset at the mistake you had made. Your words, not mine,” he says quietly.
Liz doesn’t miss that he has left out what his “realization” was, although it was probably the same as hers. Right?
But he isn’t done.
“There was more crying, and you left my apartment with little ceremony. I had been planning to tell you that night that I had been named CEO the day before, but never got the chance. I assume that you read the company email, because the following Monday you were in my office inquiring after the job as vice president,” he says thoughtfully.
He lands on another one of her major issues, and she perks up. Anything to distract from the last tidbit of information he’s bestowed upon her.
“Just like that, I was fine? Jack, I’m trying to put the pieces of my life together…and it doesn’t make sense. Why did I become all hard and ambitious overnight? Why did I want your job all of a sudden? I don’t get it.”
Jack seems relieved that she isn’t pressing him on the romantic ordeal, and he looks pensive.
“You didn’t specify exactly, only insisting that you were driven and capable. I believe you used the phrase ‘natural career advancement’. I was confused at the time, but proud at your decision.”
“Ugh, I really said that? What a load of crap.”
“Yes, you said that. More importantly, you called it quits on TGS, ending the show. Shortly after I recommended you, you got the VP job. After that, things were…tense between us. We never discussed that night, and over time you—sorry, we—distanced ourselves from each other,” he says carefully.
“We aren’t friends?” she asks sadly.
“We’re on excellent terms, professionally,” he says a little too earnestly. “It’s nothing to be bothered about.”
(She can tell that he doesn’t really mean this.)
“Why, though? Do you have any idea what changed…in me?” she asks softly.
“I like to think that I know you. Or knew you, once. Since you never went into detail, I could only guess, and I assumed that Criss leaving simply broke you somehow. You’ve been through a lot for one person,” he says honestly. “I don’t think you really recovered from that.”
“And now we’re strangers,” Liz replies, close to tears. He wouldn’t say it aloud, but it’s true.
Jack doesn’t comment, and she digests the rest of his speech for while. “I’m sorry,” Liz says finally. “I want to try to fix things. I want us to be friends,” she adds firmly.
He considers her for a minute, and she’s afraid that he’s going to disagree, and push her out the door with a sorry, but co-workers only is our new rule and a businesslike handshake.
But when a promising smile spreads across his face, she think that there may be hope for them yet.
“Welcome back, Lemon.”
Despite its main definition, her surname has never sounded so sweet.
When she returns to Jack’s old office, Liz quickly finishes off the cookies she’d left behind, and spends the remainder of the afternoon splayed across the couch on her back.
It can’t be true. She can’t have dumped Jack.
She gazes straight at the ceiling, breathing evenly in and out. Her theory is that if she lies still enough, maybe the maelstrom of her mind will calm down and everything will fall neatly into place.
So far it’s turning out to be a pretty crappy theory.
Every time she replays the conversation between her and Jack, she feels dizzy. He hadn’t revealed much about his feelings—which he is excellent at—but had certainly implied that she’d broke his heart. Or something.
She wonders what it was like kissing Jack. She bets his lips are kinda soft, but not too soft. That would be weird.
After shaking that particularly disturbing line of thought, Liz sits up on the (obviously expensive) couch to give herself a pep talk about all the crap that’s showering down on her. First of all, Jack was probably exaggerating. TGS was going to be cancelled anyways; she wouldn’t purposefully put a bunch of people out of jobs just so she could get a bigger office. As for her personal problems, three years isn’t that much to not be friends with someone; soon everything will be back to normal with Jack like she never left—
Oh, god. The problem with giving yourself a pep talk is that deep down you know it’s all bullshit.
There’s a knocking on the door. Liz hurries over to the desk, picks up a random piece of paper, and starts perusing it with a serious-looking frown. She’s still rattled from her little reunion with Jack, but she has to at least act like she knows what she’s doing around here.
In slinks the one and only Devon Banks. Liz stops her mouth from falling open just in time.
“Liz, sweetie,” Devon greets, his voice dripping with fake sympathy. “I heard about the accident. How are you?”
“Fine. Great. Thanks,” she says, avoiding multi-syllable words from fear that she’ll say something stupid. (That ship may have sailed already. She’s not gonna dwell on it.)
Devon has always spoken to her as if she is a total moron, though it occurs to her that he probably treats everyone the same. Fortunately, she is aware that he, too, is an absolute idiot, and she wonders what he could possibly want with her.
His eye is running over the pile of papers on her desk.
“Back at it already, I see.”
“Not really,” she smiles, but he doesn’t return it.
“Have you decided what to do about Van Huesen’s west coast deal? Because the guys in Accounts were all over me yesterday,” Devon says in his weird voice rasp, fixing her with a beady stare.
Yeah, she bets they were all over him.
“Well…” Liz hesitates. “Actually, I don’t really…I’m not…” she swallows, feeling color sweep through her face. Devon’s presence is creeping her out, which is not helping her already shaky confidence. “The thing is, I’ve had amnesia since my accident, and…” she trails off, clenching the paper tighter.
A paper that she hopes is not too important, because it is rapidly dampening from her sweat. The thought of working with Devon Banks—which apparently she has over the last few years—is enough to make her panic.
Devon’s face suddenly snaps in comprehension. “God,” he says after surveying her for a moment. “You don’t know who Van Huesen is, do you?”
“I, um, well…no. But if you could just remind me…?”
Devon ignores her. He inches closer to her, like he used to do to Jack, his overly tanned forehead creased in an appraising frown.
“Let me get this straight,” he says slowly. “You don’t remember anything?”
All of her instincts are prickling. He’s like a cat prodding a mouse, working out exactly how weak its prey is.
He wants her job.
Liz feels like an idiot for not realizing it sooner. Of course he wants her job. She leapfrogged over him, and he’s probably still after the position of CEO. Jack told her once that you have to be approved by the board, and even then, only higher-level executives qualify.
Jack may be CEO for now, but Liz hates to think of the lengths Devon will go to in order to get what he wants. She knows that he has to move up first, so he’s obviously trying to go through her—the weakest link.
With that, she meets his gaze with as much steel as she can muster. “I’m sure I’ll be back to normal very soon,” she says brusquely.
He gives an irritating laugh, which makes her want to punch him hard enough to rattle his bonded teeth.
“Right, good luck,” he scoffs. “I give you three days, tops. Enjoy the view while you can, Liz.” He then gives a little chest thrust, as if working with him is the so-called ‘view’.
“Ew,” she tells him. Liz then proceeds to threaten to call security if he doesn’t leave now, because can’t he see that she is very busy running a company?
Devon saunters out of the office with the promise that she ‘hasn’t seen the last of him’, to which she sticks her tongue out at his receding backside.
Two can play at this game.
There’s only one way to go. And that’s to get really, really drunk. An hour after Devon’s visit Liz is slumped at the bar of a nearby hotel, finishing her third mojito. Already the world has turned a little blurry—but that’s fine by her. Just as long as she can keep her balance on the bar stool.
“Hi.” She lifts her hand to get the attention of the bartender. “I’d like another one, please.”
The youngish guy raises his eyebrows very slightly, and then says, “Of course.”
She watches him a touch resentfully as he gets out the mint. Isn’t he going to ask her why she wants another one? Isn’t he going to offer her some legendary bartender wisdom?
He puts the cocktail on a coaster and adds a bowl of pretzels, which Liz pushes aside scornfully. She doesn’t want anything soaking up the alcohol. She wants it right in her bloodstream.
“Can I get you anything else? An appetizer, perhaps?”
He gestures at the small menu, but Liz ignores it and takes a deep gulp of the mojito. It’s cold and tangy and limey and perfect.
“Do I look like I’m alone in life?” she asks. “Be honest.”
“A beautiful woman like you? No.” The barman smiles.
“Well, I am, apparently.” She takes another sip of the drink. “I learned today that I have zero friends. Plenty of enemies, of course.”
“I’m sure you have friends.”
“I used to.” Liz puts her cocktail down and stares at it morosely. “I don’t know where my life went wrong.”
She sounds slurred, even to her own ears.
“That’s what they all say.” A guy sitting at the end of the bar looks up from his Times. He has an Irish accent and dark, receding hair. “No one knows where it went wrong.”
“No, but I really don’t know.” Liz lifts a finger impressively. “I have a car crash…and bam! I wake up and I’m trapped in the body of a lonesome alien.”
“Looks like you’re trapped in the body of a babe to me.” The Irish dude edges along to the next bar stool, a smile on his face. “I wouldn’t trade that body for anything.”
She gazes at him in puzzlement for a moment—until realization dawns.
“Gross,” she says, lingering on the ‘o’. “Not interested, buddy.”
He shrugs, and turns back to his paper.
There’s a muffled snort from the bartender. Liz looks up suspiciously, but his face is straight. She takes another gulp from her drink and feels the alcohol kicking in, dancing around her head. Her ears are buzzing and the room is starting to sway.
Which is a good thing. Rooms should sway.
“You know, I’m not drinking to forget,” she says conversationally to the bartender. “I already forgot everything.” This strikes her as being so funny, she starts giggling uncontrollably. “I had one bang on the head and I forgot everything.” She’s clutching her stomach. “I even forgot that I made out with my best friend and he probably hates me now. But I did, and he does!”
“Uh-huh.” The barman is exchanging glances with the Irish guy.
“And they said there isn’t a cure. But you know, doctors can be wrong, can’t they?” she appeals to the bar. Quite a few people seem to be listening now, and a couple of them nod.
“Doctors are always wrong,” says a lady sympathetically. “Yeah, they’re all assholes,” the Irish man pipes in.
“Exactly!” She swivels to him. “You are so right! Okay.” Liz turns back to the bartender. “Can I ask you a small favor? Can you take that cocktail shaker thingie and hit me over the head with it? They said it wouldn’t work, but what do they know?”
The bartender smiles, as if he thinks she’s joking.
“Great.” Liz sighs impatiently. “I’ll have to do it myself.” She grabs for the shaker, and the bartender holds her back with little effort as he dials for a taxi.