Fandom: 30 Rock
Summary: The Donaghy’s move next door to the Lemon’s when Liz is barley five.
Disclaimer: I do not own 30 Rock.
A/N: Written for portions_forfox, who wanted ‘childhood friends and the evolution of that friendship’. This isn’t so much childhood friends as neighborhood friends, but I hope you still like it.
The Donaghy’s move next door to the Lemon’s when Liz is barley five.
They say they’ve come from the roughest part of Boston, a fact that seems to both scare and excite her parents (“Oh, they seem like such lovely, eccentric folks. Very ethnic), and which causes a very young Liz Lemon to develop a temporary Boston accent in a failed attempt to impress Patricia and Katherine Catherine. Both girls end up laughing in her face, but whatever; today she has an awesome and accurate Boston accent, so who’s laughing now?
(The answer is still Patricia and Katherine Catherine, but Liz likes to think that it’s gotten to the point where they’re laughing with her.)
In general, they’re not very nice people. The boys can often be found in the alleyways smoking cigarettes, devising business plans. The girls, only a couple years older than Liz, like to manipulate all that are younger then themselves, getting the children of White Haven into all kinds of terrifying situations.
The only one who is even remotely civil is Jack.
(Of course it’s him.)
Seventeen to her five, he becomes Liz’s regular babysitter from practically the moment he moves in, charming her parent with the tip of his unusually attractive head and driving away all the preteen girls who used to fight for the Lemon’s cash. It’s a wonder to her parents why a young man like himself would want the job of an underpaid babysitter, but Liz more or less gets it; he’s not like his family, so large and crass and uninterested in truly bettering themselves. He seems to have an understanding of his potential in a way that they are simply incapable of – like he knows that he is one of them, but doesn’t really want to admit it.
(Liz doesn’t ever question why she can get all this at only five, but deducts that it is merely proof of her superior people skills.)
He only has the job for about a year, before he goes off to college and enters the company of other smart, ambitious people, but it’s enough for him to make more of an impression than anyone else who looks after her.
It’s also enough to cement a life-long non-related-brother-sister-relationship.
So there’s that.
He doesn’t come home often, though in his defense it can be agreed upon by pretty much everyone in the universe that he doesn’t have much to come home to.
When he does come, Jack spends most of his time in the Lemon house-hold, discussing his life plans and helping Liz with her homework (later college applications and essays – these visits more or less make up her childhood.) Liz can tell that he feels more comfortable here, and as time passes, begins to view him less as a neighbor and more as a brother-type.
Liz finds that she likes this older brother more than her actual one.
In 1987, he gets her an interview at Princeton University. She goes to Maryland instead.
During her first year of college, they don’t see much of each other, though he does drop by her parents place once and a while. Liz attributes this absence to her not living at home anymore and Jack’s recent marriage to Bianca (her Dad is in the wedding. Liz thinks it’s alright, though the cake could be better.)
This changes in 1989. Liz is nineteen. Jack is thirty-one.
He naturally shows up drunk on her doorstep.
“She’s left me,” he moans into a bottle of something (Liz hasn’t had a long relationship with alcohol at this point). “Bianca’s decided that I’m not good enough for her.
“Well, is this really such a bad thing,” Liz asks, dragging him into her dorm room and silently apologizing to her roommate. “I mean, she did insult your business-time skills in her wedding speech.”
He starts crying into her arm.
For the next ten years, their relationship pretty much works like the Separate but Equal doctrine. (Well, not really at all actually. The name just sounds appropriate.)
Their lives are separate. They do different things and have different friends and generally have plans to have very different lives.
But they still equally care about each other. They see each other on Holidays and occasionally make visits to wherever the other one is living. She’s like the sister he never wanted to kill. He’s like the brother who didn’t lose his memory in a skiing accident.
They both like having someone, a fellow adult to care about. They’re nothing alike, but they know each other. They like having each other to care for.
So yeah, it goes on like this for ten years.
Then in 1999, he calls her up late on a Saturday night.
He calls her up late on a Saturday night in 1999.
“What are you doing these days, Lemon?”
She looks around her apartment. Jenna is crying, trying to get out of washing the dishes. Liz is staring at a job offer to teach elders improve on cruise ships.
“Nothing, really. Just trying to get by.”
“They just made me Vice President of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming at GE. The old bastard died prematurely and I got the job.” He pauses for a moment, clearly thinking. Then, “How would you feel about working for NBC?”