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
Once they are inside the bistro (Liz is glad she went with the black dress), Jack is still chuckling as their reservations are checked.
“Stop laughing at me,” she grumbles. “I don’t see what the big deal is.
Upon seeing her expression, Jack composes himself.
"I'm sorry. It's just that you're usually more…" he frowns, "Coordinated."
Liz raises her eyebrows. "Yeah, okay," she says. In the dictionary, the word "coordinated" is definitely listed as an antonym under the phrase "Liz Lemon".
Meanwhile, a tiny pang runs through her body. This Jack remembers her as a different person. This Jack probably has expectations about her behavior and personality that she can't even pretend to know about.
So there's nothing to do but move on.
"Let's just sit down," she mumbles before he can answer.
Once they are seated, Liz glances around the restaurant. It strikes her as being very familiar, though she can't remember ever having set foot in the place. When they first walked in, she chalked it up to it merely resembling other fancy restaurants that she's gone to (usually with Jack) over the years. But she can't put her finger on why her déjà vu is startlingly strong.
"Hey, Jack, have I been here before?"
"Have you been here before?" he repeats, once again realizing that she doesn't know about them; has no earthly idea.
"Yeah, I mean, I feel like I have, but I know I haven't, so I was wondering if this is a place that I went during, you know, the last few years or whatever, and I just thought…" she babbles, trailing off when she sees his face.
He looks at her, his eyes intense and questioning…and sad. "You really, really don't remember anything?"
Liz remembers a few days ago, when she had congratulated him on his life. Not everything, he'd replied. Is he about to let her in on what that meant?
"No," she says wearily. "For the millionth time, I don't remember anything."
His face is only inches away now, and he studies hers, searching for something. "All of the things we said, that we did…there has to be something to trigger your memory." He taps his fingers on the glossy surface of the table, frowning. "Does 'rosemary risotto' mean anything to you?"
Rat-a-tat. Rat-a-tat. Her eyes drift to his hand as she racks her brain. Risotto. Risotto. Didn't she…
No, it's gone.
"Nothing," she says at last, and Jack nods slightly. "I mean, I like risotto, but…?"
"It's what you usually order here," he informs her, his tone a little too casual.
"I see," she mumbles. She shrugs apologetically, uncomfortable from both his comment (mainly the use of the word "usually") and his watchful gaze.
He's so close she can feel his breath on her skin. Then his face changes, and she recognizes the look he gets when he's just had an idea. Uh, oh.
"Does this mean anything to you?" His hand has stopped drumming on the table, and he's moved it up to her face, where he gently cradles one cheek. Her eyes widen in alarm, partly because his thumb is now doing things to her cheek; things that feel…
"Hm?" He prods.
She swallows. "No."
"This?" He leans in and brushes a kiss against her neck. This turns her brain back on, and she can't believe what an ass he's being. The nerve—!
"Stop it," she says feebly, but can barely get the words out. And besides, she doesn't mean them. Her breathing is getting shorter and shorter. She's forgotten about everything else. She wants to kiss him. She wants to kiss him in a way she didn't want to kiss Criss.
And then it's happening—his mouth is on hers and her entire body's telling her this is the right thing to do. He smells right. He tastes right. She can feel his hands grasping her arms, and her eyes close…
Then they pop open as she jerks herself away, and it is very cold all of a sudden.
"What the hell, Jack?" she whisper-screeches.
He simply looks thoughtful. (It won't last long, because she plans to tear him a new one.)
"Is there something you want to tell me, Jack?" she says slowly. Liz hates that she's so flustered.
He clears his throat, and looks conflicted. "Alright, so I wasn't entirely honest about, ah, that night. About it being our only encounter," he admits. "I stretched the truth a bit."
Liz flips the switch in her head from "confused and peeved" to "confused and enraged". It seems to work, as Jack visibly recoils from her stare.
"You lied to me?" she grounds out.
"Lemon, don't be like that," he recovers. "I just didn't want to attack you with it all at once. And I'll admit, I'm not sure I was ready to bring it all up again."
Liz crosses her arms. This is entirely unacceptable.
"This is entirely unacceptable," she says out loud. Liz hates being lied to even more than she hates uncomfortable shoes. Tonight is turning out to be real awesome.
"I know, I know. I'm sorry," Jack adds.
Liz allows herself a few seconds of sullen silence, and when the red begins to disperse, she realizes that a deep sadness is surfacing. She no longer wants to pound his foot with her heel, because her heart is taking enough of a beating for the both of them.
"I just want the truth," she says tiredly. "Don't I deserve that?"
Jack mentally kicks himself when he sees the defeat all over her face. This was not how this was supposed to go.
"Of course! I was going to explain more—tonight, actually," he says urgently. Liz uncrosses her arms, but says nothing. She's listening.
"Look, the real story, if you will, barely differs from what I said the other day. You broke up with Criss…"
He pauses, gauging her reaction, but she doesn't move a muscle. That wound is no longer fresh.
"You broke up with Criss, and I brought you home from the party. That much is true. But when you showed up at my apartment a few days later, and we kissed, it became clear to the both of us that it was time."
"Time for what?" Liz asks, though she already has an idea. "And how do I know you're telling the truth, now?"
"Please, just trust me. It was time for us to try at something more than friendship. My chances at becoming the next CEO were increasing, you were working on the final season of TGS—it was time to take the last step, for us to further our personal lives."
Liz takes this in. As rational as he is making it sound, she's still finding him hard to believe. "Then what happened?"
"We had six blissful months, and then Colleen died."
She gasps, forgetting her rage. "Oh, Jack, I'm so sorry."
"No, it's fine. You were wonderful, during that time. I don't think I would have gotten through it without your help," he says, certainly sounding genuine.
"Anyways, a few weeks later…I proposed," he continues, so softly that Liz finds herself leaning in.
"I'm sorry?" she asks, unsure that she heard correctly. Liz is positive that there isn't a ring lying around her apartment, and she most definitely isn't wearing one.
Jack watches as she sneaks a glance at her hand, just in case. "You said no," he states matter-of-factly.
Well, that does sound like her.
"Then you completely broke down. I don't mean to accuse you," he says hastily. "It's just what happened. At first, I was confused as to why. It was only later that I understood why you were scared, why you felt trapped and smothered. It was my fault, really."
"Let me finish. It was because of my fear, Lemon. Fear that you didn't love me the way I loved you and that I could not—would never be able to—change your mind. Fear that not just our romantic relationship, but also our friendship, vital for my survival…though I'd never said those exact words out loud…was at risk. Fear that I was damaged and that I would damage you."
Liz bites back her smart remark at that once. She has never seen Jack with such angered passion in his eyes, and of course the confession of love is a new one. Then again, he had used the past tense. Loved.
"You saw it all, and finally, disgusted, pushed me away. You looked hurt and sad, and the waterworks arrived before I could say anything. And then the door was slamming behind you."
He swallows, and she has to believe him. It's too elaborate to fabricate, even for him.
"The next day, I tried to see you in person to apologize. But when you came, you were clearly facing an internal battle, one that I couldn't help with. You moved out that day, and I didn't get the chance to share the news that I'd been named CEO. The rest that followed is still true."
"You recommended me for the VP job, and we grew apart," she finishes with a hollow feeling.
"Yes. I regret it daily, but I had to let you move on."
"That's why didn't you just try to talk to me? Because you thought I was moving on?"
Jack frowns. "It seemed that way."
"I'm sure I was just wallowing in self-pity for a while. I probably got over it," Liz shrugs. But the sick feeling in her stomach tells her that this isn't true.
"No, and that was my fault. I should have moved offices, or something…"
Liz studies his features, which are carefully arranged into calm acceptance. She isn't buying it.
"I'm sorry, Jack. I mean it, I really do—you didn't, you don't, deserve any of that. I can't tell you why I said no, because I have no idea, but it wasn't fair for me to hurt you like that."
"You don't have to apologize."
"I do, though. Because even if I don't remember what our relationship was like, I can see your sadness now, and I hate it."
"I have no reason to be," he mutters. "I'm honestly happy to have you back," Jack says a little louder. There is real joy in his voice, and she can't help but agree with him. Business Liz clearly scares them both.
"I'm here because I want to be," she reminds him, gesturing around the dim room. "I came for answers, but I'm staying because I want to fix it," she says.
He is quiet for a while.
"Lemon, is there any chance that we don't have to regress to the very beginning? That we can…be more than?" He takes her hand then, emphasizing his point.
Liz shakes her head sadly. "Jack, you know why I can't do that. I want to give us another chance, I really do…but it has to be as friends. It's what I remember. I'm sorry."
Is it what she wants, though? Liz ignores the bells going off inside her head. Shut up, brain.
"I can live with that," Jack says, with a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes.
Mother of Thor, must she ruin everything? But no, she has to stand firm.
"Again, I'm sorry. I've lost too much time…it would be too weird."
Jack nods. He understands. There's nothing left to do but order dinner, and pray that one day her memories return. He is notoriously impatient, but this time all he can do is wait.
Liz reaches for a menu at last, and changes the subject.
"So…the risotto, huh? How big are the portions here?"
"The portions?" He repeats, amused.
"Yeah, it's not as if I remember," she says only half-sarcastically, tapping her head with one finger. Jack smirks at this, and a bubble of hope swells inside her. They're going to be all right.
She can feel it.