Liz looked at the tickets in his hand as if she thought they might bite her. "You're – seriously? I mean . . . seriously?"
He gave the tickets a little shake. "Come on, Lemon, you can't tell me this isn't right up your lonely middle-aged single girl alley."
"I'm not middle-aged," she sulked in the direction of his belt buckle. "Anyway, I've seen it."
"How many times?"
She rolled her head from side to side in concession. "Three." Looking up in time to see his expression, she hastily added, "But they were all more than two years ago! I'm over it, because I'm not the kind of girl who needs to sit in the dark and brood on how no guy will ever realize that smart is pretty even though she has a pretty friend, and – you know, I am over it."
Being Jack, he didn't even acknowledge this. Instead he waved the tickets under her nose. "These are VIP, Lemon. Front and center."
She rolled her eyes and made a shpff noise. "Front and center are the lottery tickets, Jack."
He snapped the tickets at her. "Okay, they're fifth row and center. All you can see from the first four rows are their shoes anyway. You really don't want to come?" He put on an especially charming smile. "I'll buy you a drink at intermission."
She tried to keep her face firm, but one hand was already reaching for the tickets. "Well . . ."
He pulled the tickets back and put them in his inside jacket pocket. "Uh-uh. I'm hanging onto these. Because if you show up in costume, I'm leaving you on the street and picking a teenager in pink glitter out of the lottery line."
"You suck." She crossed her arms and glared. "Fine."
"Don't wear the green dress," he said over his shoulder as he left.
"Really?" she called. "I thought –"
"Nerts," she muttered to herself.
Still, she showed up at the theater in a plain black dress. Her purse had green beads on it, but she was pretty sure accessories were beneath Jack's notice. He gave her a cursory once-over before handing over her ticket and saying, "If you cry, I swear to God I don't know you."
At the end of the first act, while she was still beaming fervently at the stage and clapping until her palms hurt, he turned to her and said, "You know, I almost invested in this."
"Why didn't you?" she asked as the people around them began to stand up and the lights slowly came on.
"Because I'm not a woman," he said. "Come on, let's drink."
While he was knocking back a scotch and she was sipping at a green cocktail, he said, "You know, the blonde does have two things I appreciate."
"And I'm pretty sure they're even real," Liz said into the shiny green surface of her drink.
"Get your mind out of the gutter, Lemon. I was talking about her singing and her comedy skills."
"Uh-uh." Liz slurped a huge, fortifying swallow of her drink to combat the sudden onset of lightheadedness. "You absolutely cannot. Jenna would set the building on fire. Again."
"Just as a guest –"
"Seriously, Jack, it would be like 'Nam."
He took another drink of scotch. "How about the ugly one, then? Maybe for Halloween."
"You understand she's not really ugly, right?"
The lobby lights blinked and he threw back the rest of his drink. "Remember what I told you. Keep that sappy middle-aged soul under wraps."
She glanced over and caught him dancing in his seat during the Wizard's solo, which was awesome enough, but when the two heroines launched into their heartwrenching farewell duet, she raised a finger to wipe her eye as if she merely needed to adjust her glasses, and heard a quiet sniffle from beside her. Somehow in the dark he heard her opening her mouth, and said as he reached for his handkerchief, "Shut up, Lemon. Don't you have a heart?"
She managed not to make fun of him as they left their seats, but he grabbed her arm as she was about to head for Broadway. "You're actually going to take me home?" she asked.
"No, you're on your own," he said. "But first we're going backstage."
"No way," she said as he dragged her toward the alley.
"Way," he said. He pulled a camera from his pocket and waggled it at her. "And you are getting your picture taken with Elphaba."
"You are the best boss ever," she said fervently.