Pairing/Character: Liz/Jenna, Liz/Gretchen?
Summary: People thought Liz was a lesbian all her life, and damn it, she wasn't going to accommodate them. Even if they might have been right.
Spoilers/Season/Episode etc : Spoilers for Season One, "Blind Date"
Note: I've seen all of Season Four so far, but other than that, I've only seen the first eight episodes of Season One. So this is my first 30 Rock fic.
Gretchen sighed as she waited for a taxicab to pull over. How had she allowed this to happen? Granted, it wasn't really Liz' fault. She'd gone into this wanting to be friends with Gretchen, had told Gretchen she was straight, had never suggested she wanted to be more than friends with Gretchen. If Liz had done anything wrong, it was being so fucking needy. It was obvious that she was starved for female friends, considering how many activities Liz had planned for them.
She wondered why Liz had so few close relationships. God knew, there had been a lot about her that attracted Gretchen to her - smart, funny, endearing - adorable really, hot as hell (especially in those glasses).
Maybe it was due to the fact that Liz was a total neurotic.
Which was why Gretchen was walking away. She couldn't allow herself to fall for some neurotic straight girl. She had no intention of becoming the romantic interest in Kissing Liz Lemon.
"Gretchen! Gretchen, wait!"
Oy. Now what?
"Look, I'm sorry about the cooking class," Gretchen said as Liz came running over. She must have had a heck of a metabolism, because Liz was clearly not the most athletic person in the world.
"No, it's not that," Liz said. "Although, you know, I had to buy a pot. How the hell am I going to fit that in my microwave? But look, just for the record, you said you couldn't be around me because you didn't want to fall for a straight girl." She looked up at Gretchen hopefully with an expression that reminded her of a puppy. "So, I mean, if I was gay, then you would have . . .?"
Yep, puppy dog eyes. Head writer of a prime-time TV show on a major network, and yet completely lacking in self-esteem when it came to her personal life. And yet Gretchen - "Yes, I would have pursued a relationship with you."
Liz was a bit of a fixer-upper, but it wasn't like she'd shared a bed with the same person two nights in a row during the last few years. And she wasn't twenty-three any more.
"Wow," Liz replied. "You really are the opposite of all my past boyfriends. Usually they leave because they're not interested any more. You're leaving because now you are."
"Maybe, I don't know, if I ever make a life-altering decision like the one you were hoping for, I could call you?"
That was never going to happen, so it was easy for Gretchen to avoid kicking the puppy and say that yes, Liz could call her in the event that happened.
She'd kick Jack instead.
Jenna returned from her three-day sickout, quite positive that everyone had missed her and that they would appreciate her now. Apparently, however, the only person who noticed she was back was Kenneth, and frankly he was just creepy enough that Jenna didn't want him noticing her comings and goings.
So work sucked and the empty home wasn't much better. She was almost starting to regret putting the cats down.
"Jenna. So nice you're feeling better."
Jenna whirled around. "Jack!" she gasped. Good God, Tracy could take ninja lessons from the man. Although it was nice that the big boss man had noticed.
"Hemorrhoids flaring up, I assume?" he asked.
She flinched. "It was just a virus!"
"I see. That would make sense, you're even paler than usual. Look, may I be blunt with you? That's a rhetorical question, Jenna, I just hope you know that I appreciate the fact that you've allowed yourself to become second fiddle to our new star," Jack told her, his words like a force of nature that you couldn't respond to until it had passed on.
Jenna smiled grudgingly. "Well, when you changed the name of the show, there wasn't much else I could do."
"You could have quit. There are other acting roles out there. I hear they're looking for new faces on Deal or No Deal."
"This studio is my home, Jack," she said, congratulating herself for not swallowing her own tongue.
"Quit, Jenna. In case I wasn't being blunt enough. It would be best for both of us," Jack replied.
She gaped at him. "How would quitting be best for me?"
"I can't fire you, because Liz has my promise in writing that I won't. But you still don't test well with males over 11. So I'll see to it that your number of lines is systematically reduced. In a couple months your only sketch will be your recurring 'cat lady' character, complete with live cats."
Jenna put a hand to her cheek instinctively. "It's not a recurring character."
"I can make it that way."
"But Liz won't - "
"Sure, Liz will fight it. Because you're her best friend, right? But friendships can only stretch so far. It's a cutthroat world we live in, Jenna. You're only as good as your last hit. Close friends can become friends, and friends can become casual acquaintances, and casual acquaintances don't really care that much when people start getting four minutes of screen time. Liz will break," Jack assured her. "I know it. It's not like you're sleeping with her or anything. Quit while you're still somewhat relevant."
Jenna supposed she should have been intimidated by this, but she wasn't. She was in fact outraged. She wouldn't be intimidated for at least another five minutes, when her knees would give way and she would send Kenneth out for a box of wine. "I won't quit, Jack," she promised. "I'll survive whatever you dish out. And when that happens, while Tracy is acting out some insane new idea, like putting park benches in the middle of Broadway, you'll know I deserve to be star of this show again."
And then she stormed off.
Jack watched her go. Phase One complete. Sorry Lemon, but I never go back and make changes to personnel files. That's why I write them in marker . . . and she might be onto something with that park bench idea.
"Jenna," Liz said, surprised. "What's going on?"
"May I come in?"
"Sure! Um, just give me a second." It was the first time there were two people in her apartment since Dennis, and frankly it was starting to show it.
"You're not one of those hoarders, are you?" Jenna asked doubtfully as she took in the mess.
"Ha. No," Liz replied. "I just haven't gotten around to throwing those TV dinner boxes out."
"In three weeks?"
"So!" Liz said brightly, if a bit desperately. "What brings you here?"
Jenna looked sympathetic, which immediately scared her. "I heard Gretchen broke up with you."
Liz stared at her, dumbfounded. "What - who said - I wasn't - we were just - "
"I'm worried about you, Liz," Jenna continued. "Let's face it, you have about as good a track record with straight guys as I do with gay guys. You're hurting and you're vulnerable, and the Dennises of the world will catch you on the rebound and take advantage of you."
"I'm not hurting, and Gretchen was only - "
"I think it's important that you have some kind of transition relationship," Jenna explained. "Something to help you land gently from this new breakup, instead of hitting the ground like a plane with no landing gear like you did with Dennis. You need to be with someone who actually cares about you, but who isn't expecting a long-term relationship."
"Look, Jenna," Liz began to say, although in truth she was touched that Jenna was expressing such concern for her. If also a little mortified at the way Jenna had described her love life.
"I'm here for you, Liz," Jenna said.
Liz was already too discombobulated to resist when Jenna grabbed her by the waist with both hands, pulled her closer, and kissed her on the lips.
Jenna was feeling mighty clever. Jack had been foolish enough to give her the answer himself. It's not like you're sleeping with her or anything. Maybe Liz could allow her best friend to be written off the show, but she couldn't let that happen to her girlfriend. And after she heard all about this Gretchen girl who showed up for Casino Night, Jenna had realized that it wouldn't be hard at all to seduce Liz.
Like she said, Liz was hurting, vulnerable, and on the rebound.
Hopefully the success of her plan would make up for the fact that the kiss wasn't doing anything for Jenna. She liked Liz and thought her attractive in a geeky, clueless kind of way, but it seemed there just wasn't a gay bone in Jenna's body. Liz had wimpy lips.
But she could fake it. She was a trained actress, after all.
"Okay, stop!" Liz finally burst out, pushing her away with both hands. Her face and neck were bright red, and she looked utterly poleaxed. "Just - uh - a second."
"A second kiss? Certainly," Jenna replied.
"No. I mean, give me a second." Liz ran a hand through her hair. "Jenna, I am very flattered, but I can't have a relationship with one of my employees. Plus, you're my friend, but I don't feel that way about you."
"Oh, but some engineer gets your motor running, is that it?!" Jenna was furious. She put everything she had into that kiss.
"Gretchen and I weren't dating, Jenna," Liz told her. "Got it?"
"And you're not gay?"
Jenna looked at her oddly. "And that kiss didn't do anything for you? At all?"
Liz just shook her head, even though the grin on her face made her look a bit like the village idiot.
"You little liar!" Jenna gasped, slapping Liz on the shoulder. "Look at yourself in the mirror! You are totally gay, Liz. Either that, or my sexuality was just too potent a weapon for you to handle."
Liz put her hands on both temples and shook her head.
"Either I'm a little bit gayer than I thought, or I was overcome by your sexuality. Frankly, I'm not sure which is bothering me more." Then her expression changed. "I have to go."
"Go? But wait, I - "
"I'm sorry, but I really need to figure this one out, and that's only going to happen if I kiss someone else," Liz said as she snatched her coat and her keys, than ran for the door, leaving Jenna speechless. "Oh, could you throw those boxes out for me? Thanks!"
"Yes, Lemon, what is it?"
"Jack, hey, I was wondering if you had Gretchen's address."
"You must have me confused with Jonathan. I'm your boss, not your Rolodex."
"Jack, give me a break, I really need to see her. Jenna came to see me at my apartment, and she did something totally unexpected, and now I'm very confused."
"Well, Lemon, confusion is generally the first phase when questioning one's sexual orientation."
" . . . Wait, how did you know that?"
"You need to see my very lesbian friend in the middle of the night, the one who you turned down because you thought you weren't gay."
"I'm not convinced that I am - "
"On the heels of a visit from Jenna. From what I've been told, when Jenna begins feeling panicked or paranoid, she uses her sex appeal as a weapon, kind of like when someone pulls a gun, and then drop it and shoot themselves in the leg. So she kissed you or touched you inappropriately, and you liked it."
"Why haven't I heard Jenna is feeling paranoid?!"
"There's a scurrilous rumor going around that I pressured Jenna to quit. Totally unfounded."
"Well, damn it, of course! I've told her I won't let her lose her job!"
"Of course. You'll go on protecting Jenna because you're her friend. And but for one, no bond is as unshakeable as friendship."
"Oh my God! You used your mind games to manipulate Jenna into trying to seduce me!"
"Don't be absurd, Lemon. Jenna doesn't have a mind."
"You are so dead when I see you tomorrow."
"Do you still want her address?"
Liz had her back to Gretchen's door while she waited, and the sound of her voice almost broke her nerve. "Gretchen, hey," she said, turning around.
"How did you get my address?"
Great. She probably thought Liz was stalking her. "Jack told me."
Gretchen sighed. "Of course he did. Do you ever get the feeling that the lives of everyone Jack knows are orchestrated by him to some extent?"
"Twice a day," Liz replied. "Usually because he tells me that's what he's doing."
"Is he doing it now?"
"Pretty much," Liz muttered.
"Liz, why are you here at eleven-thirty at night?" Gretchen asked resignedly.
"Well, there's a funny story to that," Liz said with a forced chuckle. "See, I kinda need you to kiss me."
Gretchen just looked at her. "And me kissing you is funny how?"
"I didn't mean it like that! I just meant that there was a series of events that led up to me coming here, which could be seen as slightly amusing from a specific point of view," Liz rambled.
"Could you trim these events down to the important parts?"
"Jenna kissed me, I liked it." Liz blinked. "Didn't mean to blurt it out like that."
"Jenna from the show?" Gretchen asked, bewildered.
"Jack tricked her into thinking that I'd let him fire her unless we were involved," Liz explained. "Now I'm worried that I liked it because it was Jenna."
"Are you attracted to her?"
Liz thought about it. "No, not really."
"Then it wasn't because she's Jenna. It was because she's a woman, Liz."
"Yeah, but I'd kinda like a little proof before I make any life-altering decisions."
She didn't realize the significance of her choice of phrasing until the words were out of her mouth. Liz had said the very same words the night she asked Gretchen if she'd still be available if Liz became a lesbian. Liz hadn't been thinking that far ahead when she went to Gretchen's apartment. Now that she was, though . . . Gretchen became less of a answer to a question, and more the solution to a problem. That problem being her lack of love life.
She doubted Gretchen had missed what she said either, and she had no idea what Gretchen thought about it.
Gretchen glanced over her shoulder, then shrugged. "Okay," she said. "Can't say I didn't want to at one point."
"At one - " Liz was about to ask if that meant Gretchen no longer wanted to, but then she was being kissed.
It lasted all of five seconds, but when it was over, Liz realized that five seconds of Gretchen was way better than thirty seconds of Jenna. "Hoo," Liz finally said. "My complete lack of faith in Jenna's sexuality has been restored."
Gretchen smirked a little. "I guess you liked it."
"I guess I liked it more. I guess it helps if you're attracted to the other person."
They both froze at that. Liz looked Gretchen in the eyes and waited for her to respond.
Gretchen looked unsure of herself suddenly. "You seem to be taking this pretty well, considering the whole 'hairy back' speech, Liz."
"I may have thought about that in the taxi, actually," Liz said.
Liz felt her cheeks turn pinker. "All my life people either thought I was a lesbian or a boy. Even when I was a child, I heard it. I didn't know what a lesbian was, but I knew I didn't like being mistaken for male, and when I did know, I liked that even less. So I think maybe, at some point I said screw it, they could say I was gay all they wanted, but I wasn't going to give them what they wanted. I was going to be a straight girl, so I could fling it in their faces."
"Liz, no offense, but if that's how you decide something as important as sexual orientation - by spite - then your love life makes a lot more sense now," Gretchen told her.
"I didn't say it made sense," Liz said. "It's just the only way I can explain the fact that I never once even considered the possibility that I was gay."
"How is Jack always right about these things anyway?" Liz asked.
"Hello? Market research?"
"Right," Liz said. Then she did something really bold (or stupid). "So, remember the night you left me?"
Gretchen suddenly paled, which didn't bode well for what Liz was planning to ask. "Yes," she said. "Hard to forget."
"You made me a promise," Liz continued gamely.
"Gretchen?! When are you coming back inside?!"
The voice had - obviously - come from inside Gretchen's place. The knowledge of that stunned Liz. Gretchen didn't look much better than she felt. "Liz - " she said.
"You never meant it," Liz said. "Right, why would you? A straight girl like me? You'd have died a nun." She paused. "I'm extra insightful tonight, aren't I? Too bad being insightful really sucks right now."
"Liz, I had no idea - "
"Still, did you have to move on so quickly?" Liz added plaintively.
"Liz, let me - "
"No, it's all right." Liz turned away. "Thanks for helping me with my little crisis. Maybe I'll find the right person now."
"Maybe you already did!" Gretchen burst out.
Liz stopped. "If the next word out of your mouth is 'Jenna', Gretchen - "
Gretchen came towards her and closed the door behind her. "Liz, I don't even know that woman's last name. I picked her up in a bar tonight. That - pretty much describes every relationship I've had with another woman in years. Except with you, that is. Other than the not-kissing part, you were the most successful relationship I've ever been in."
"Really?" Liz asked, feeling warmer now.
"Really," Gretchen said. "I'm sorry I didn't keep my promise to you, but I'll make you another one. If you're willing to give us a try, then as long as we're together there will never be another woman in my bedroom besides you."
Liz was undecided for just a moment. It had felt really good kissing Gretchen. Kissing her more would probably feel any better. And it wasn't like she could be any worse than her other relationships. Okay, not the most ringing endorsement, Liz. No, they'd spent a lot of time together before the break-up. She could be a lot better. "I'll hold you to it," she finally said softly.
Gretchen smiled and reached out for Liz' hand. Liz allowed her to pull her closer.
"My place or yours?" Gretchen asked.
"My place is a mess, but yours is a little crowded."
"Right, let me get rid - " Gretchen tried her doorknob experimentally. "Okay. Your place."
If Jenna was still there, Liz would fire her herself.