“I planned it. I planned all of it. Every Step” he mutters to a confused Eric
He’s drunk. He hasn’t been this drunk in years. Booze is generally not his poison of choice but as much as he hates to agree with Hyde about anything…… getting blind drunk has its value. When you are fucked up drunk, you can drown out Donna saying……
“She didn’t answer Kelso, I’m sure she is just resting.”
Or Fez chirping
“Don’t worry about it, she never answers when she has a migraine.”
He knows better, he knows Jackie, and he knows his friends don’t believe their flimsy excuses either.
He knows he is seriously drunk because he keeps hearing his mother in his head, and he tuned her out when he was about 7, so he believes this an excellent indication of being completely sloshed.
“Oh what a tangle web you weave when you first deceive Michael”
You reap what you sow Michael, my sweet boy, and you may not like what you harvest.”
He mumbles softly “Shut up Mom”
“What’s that Buddy?” Eric asks
Eric has been drinking with him but keeping it pretty light. He knows Eric is waiting for Hyde to come back. Who the fuck knows how Hyde will roll through the door and even blitzed he knows Eric is worried about what state Hyde will be in.
Oh shit. He thinks now he is hearing his dad. Damn this was more trippy than being high.
“What do they say? His dad likes to quote “Children and Drunks always tell the truth?”
He mentally salutes his dad, because he is both, or he knows he can be a child. What he didn’t know was that his brand of drunk would compel him to face things he has been pushing down. He is seeing things with a clearness he doesn't enjoy.
He can’t deny that his oldest friend in the world is slowing drinking himself to death with Jack Daniels because of the woman he just got engaged too. A woman who he is pretty sure loves "said oldest friend" and that she is settling for his sorry ass. Even scarier is this is his own doing, he is the one who pushed Hyde, Jackie, all of them to destruction.
“Kelso!” Eric shakes him “Are you okay? Maybe you should stop.”
He was so down the rabbit hole of booze and his parents mentally scolding him he forgot he had not finished his thoughts.
“Jesus, he thinks wearily How does Hyde do this nightly?”
No one will ever believe him based on the shit he has done, but he does have a guilty conscience. It is why he always ratted himself out for cheating to his friends, he has this very childish belief that if he tells someone it means he is not lying.
“Kelso!” Eric yells
He’s drifted again. He pours himself a shot, he throws it back and feels the burn slosh down his throat.
He looks at Eric straight in the eye and finally tells the truth.
“I planned it. All of it. The nurse, making it look like Jackie and I slept together, telling her to leave before clearing the air with Hyde. …...I worked every step of the way to make it happen.”
He watches Eric’s face go white, but he keeps going.
“Did I know Hyde would marry a stripper? Hell No, but it was like the universe handed me a grand fucking slam.”
Now that it is out, he wants to crow, he can’t help himself
“Those two. They are so easy. So damn stubborn. Always sure they are right, and I have a lifetime of knowledge to know how to manipulate them both and I had two secret weapons, one is I’m Hyde’s Kyrponite and I had an angle no one, not even saw me coming”
Eric skitters back from his friend, repulsed and hoping this is a stupid and out of his mind Kelso.”
‘What hell are you talking about?”
“The Nurse, I set it up, made sure Hyde saw me hugging and cuddling with Jackie, and all it took was his irrational anger and I paid someone to hit on him when he was already convinced Jackie had cheated.”
It’s all coming out now, he can’t stop
“I have years of experience of getting Jackie to forgive me. Underneath the Bitch shell, she has a heart of gold. Her desire to look out and take care of the people she cares for is overwhelming. It’s one of the of the reasons I love her. She’s fucking amazing. Give it time and her and I are friends again. Drives Hyde out of his damn mind.
He begins to list all the things he did to shove wedges in between them……
Giving her presents
Asking her for advice on other girls, so she would think they were just friends
A million little things that were minor but all with an agenda
He leans his head back and closes his eyes and remembers when the final piece fell into his lap.
“Those two can’t fight without it sounding like an explosion and one day on the way to the basement they were going at each other.”
He lets his mind drift…
He stood like a stone. Listening, knowing instinctively Jackie would come racing out.
She did straight into his arms, and he heard the classic “FUCK!” from Hyde and the sound of him punching something and the slamming of his room door.
He takes a sobbing Jackie to Donna’s, where they both pet her and calm her until she sleeps, and they begin to plot the final demise of a couple both believe should have never happened
Donna will convince her to go. Jackie will fight it and want to at least say goodbye.
Donna will lovingly tell her that maybe taking a stand and going is what is needed to be done, that she can call him when she gets there.
Jackie will stubbornly believe Hyde will come to her and Hyde will believe the same thing.
When a day passes… . Donna will look at Jackie and say
“He isn’t coming. I talked Eric. Hyde is really pissed. Just go. Call him when you get there. It’s the right thing to do.”
Donna will know that there were elements of truth in what she said. Yes, Hyde was pissed and Yes she talked to Eric, but she leaves out the part that Hyde is hurt, knowing Jackie will not abandon a hurt Hyde.
Kelso will offer to drive her, he will put out on the routine of his life. Telling her that he doesn’t want her driving herself and as her friend he is going with.
He will think Fate, is literally giving him Jackie.
Donna will tell Hyde Jackie has left. She will poke, prod and flat out suggest that maybe it is time to completely let Jackie go.
“God Hyde! She didn’t even say goodbye let it just be over.”
For once in Hyde’s damn life he decides to go after her. He won’t do the two years they did again in Junior High. He tells Donna he is going, and he is going to propose.
Donna calls the hotel and talks to Kelso and tells him that Hyde is on his way and that he better come up with something fast.
Kelso falls back on the one thing he KNOWS will work, he will make it look like he slept with Jackie.
It works and Hyde delivers him last stay of execution by running away and marry a stripper.
What he underestimated was Jackie’s love for Hyde. Her ability to want to be with him. He worries he is fucked when Jackie demands to go home. He can picture his plans evaporating every week Hyde is gone. Jackie is worried sick and her anger has been replaced with the desire to just know Hyde is okay.
He thought he was done when Hyde came back, and they were starting to work things out and then the doorbell rang…. Enter Sam.
He will never forget the look on Jackie’s face…. Utter heart break. The way she stared at Hyde before fleeing from the room could have broken the toughest man, and it did. It did break the toughest man, and that man delivers Kelso a weapon he never knew he had.
He has a very pissed off and protective Red Foreman.
For once his in life he has a moment of perfect shrewdness, he knows that Red will be his last stand. After a few days of sobbing and crying Kelso goes to Red, telling him how worried he is for Jackie, and he thinks she needs to get away.
Red loves Jackie. She is daughter he wanted and never had. She is how he deals with the disappointment of the train wreck that is Laurie. Red has a come to Jesus talk with Jackie, and tells her it's time to take care of herself, and he sends her away for a few weeks to as only Red can say
“You need to get your shit together.”
He arranges and pays for Jackie to go stay with an old friend of his in Florida. He doesn’t want her on the plane by herself, so he suggests Donna going with but Donna claims work won’t let her go. His options are Kelso or Fez and no part of Red would trust his girl with the foreign kid. So Kelso is very happily elected to go with to help her heal. Red does tell him if he so much as touches her, he will kill him. He is smarter than that. This is all about making sure Jackie believes he is putting her first and Red scares the hell out of him.
Red being pissed at Hyde for breaking Jackie and bringing a stripper into the house is not inclined to tell him where she is. The longer she is gone and the longer he has no answers, Hyde goes from frantic to bitter.
“The rest they say is History” He concludes.
He looks at Eric who looks like he finally realizes his world is a fraud.
In his child like simplicity he says as if it will make it all better
“Don’t worry I am getting my punishment.”
Eric is sickened. Who are these people he calls friends who have played puppet master with each others lives. He looks at Kelso and sneers
“PUNISHMENT? She said yes. Doesn’t appear like a punishment to me!”
Eric watches Kelso’s eyes go cold stone sober in that minute. Kelso stares at Eric and says
“Where’s my fiancee? Not with me. Not making love to celebrate. She watched him walk out. She asked me where I thought he was going? I asked her why it mattered and she looked me directly in the face and said it didn’t. Her face was so Zen as Hyde would say and that's how I know she lied. Zen is what Hyde taught her to cover herself.”
“Then twenty minutes later she gets a migraine and goes back to her apartment.”
He can't stop the fear pouring out of him.
“Jackie who loves attention. Who loves anything to do with Weddings….WENT HOME ON THE NIGHT OF HER OWN ENGAGEMENT!”
“I KNOW SHE WENT TO HIM. SHE SAID YES AND WENT TO HIM.”
He reaches for another drink, confessing is thirsty work. He’s had way too much to drink to understand what’s coming.
Eric smashes the battle to the floor and the smell of cheap bourbon fills the air.
“No more! No more for you! How could you Kelso?”
Even after all this time he is holding onto his pathetic justification
“She’s my girl. He stole her. I was just stealing her back!”
He closes his eyes against the accusation and disbelief in Eric’s stare.
HE KNOWS what he did was wrong, but he clings to the life raft of his excuses or it was him that was the iceberg that sank so many loves.
A voice he’s never heard before comes out of Eric and falls harshly on his ears.
“I finally get it. All those years that Hyde said you were a bastard. We all defend you. He was right. You are selfish. You do truly only care about yourself. You don’t give two fucks about how Jackie feels and what she wants. Jackie isn’t yours Kelso…. You don’t own her .”
He flies out of the chair, propelling it backwards and smacking against it the wall that Hyde once tried to choke him to death on.
He stares at Eric, he is drunk, sober, and unglued all at the same time but unable to stop himself from saying it all, even if it means another tie severed.
“Do you know what he mouthed before he left?” He Said, She doesn't love you?”
“She’s mine forever. I win. I beat Hyde.” He roars
Eric’s rage goes cold and an aging weariness comes upon him. He’s so incredibly sorry for every harsh word he said to Jackie and Hyde. He’s so damn sorry.
He looks at Kelso and says tiredly
“God Kelso! Is this what this is? You are still trying to beat Hyde? She might have said yes, but he won her years ago. He’s drinking himself to death over her. He will kill himself over losing her and you are sitting here talking about winning.”
Kelso falls onto the couch. All his sins out but the taste of honesty is bitter and the darkness he has been trying to burn away is still present, and it has hollowed out the victory of her saying yes.
Eric starts to head for the stairs but looks back as an overwhelming curiosity comes over him about the lengths these two men who he has known since preschool have gone for this one woman.
“Is she worth this? Is Jackie worth sacrificing everything for?
He looks back and after all this time and everything that has happened his answer is the same
He knows if he could redo it, he wouldn’t change anything, because she said yes and now she will be his forever.
Later Eric hears Hyde crash through the door. He goes downstairs, so he can make sure Hyde doesn’t pass out and drown in his own vomit. He is terrified that one day Hyde will achieve his goal and drink until he can’t feel anything anymore, and not feeling will mean he is dead.
He comes down the stairs to see his best friend on the couch with his face pressed into his hands and his body shaking. Hyde is not giving off any of the clues he normally does when he is drunk. He knows somehow that Hyde is crying. Eric can’t bring himself to see it. He can’t stand to see his friend broken like this. His brother in his heart. He takes the coward’s way out and stands behind the couch. He has seen enough destruction on his friends’ faces for a lifetime. He is however struck again by the same curiosity he had with Kelso.
“Is she worth this?”
Silence answers him back. He should know better. Hyde isn’t going to tell him how he feels. He is almost all the way upstairs when Hyde answers
“She’s the fucking sun. I’m not sure I can live without her.”
A determination comes over him, and he walks into the kitchen to observe his dad waiting at the table by the dim light of the oven.
Red looks at him and says gruffly but with concern
“Is he okay?”
Eric looks his dad dead in the eye and takes a deep breath
“No, but Dad I need to tell you something”
He tells him everything and this time it’s not Kelso who begins to plan…. It’s Eric.
His brother can’t live without the sun, so he sure as hell is going to make sure he gets the light he needs to live by.