Actions

Work Header

He Hurt Her Most

Chapter Text

Hyde can’t believe she said yes. His whole body has gone numb.

“No Way” he thinks, “she would never marry Kelso, she knows better than that.”

 After all she, him, and Kelso have been through, he can’t fathom it. He had almost laughed when Kelso had dropped to his knee.

 

He had sneered in his mind “Fucking Idiot” 

 

He has become what he has always hated, he refuses to be honest about what is going on in his life. Here he is pissed that Kelso would have the balls to ask Jackie to marry him when merely months ago he and Jackie were still together, while he has a woman on his lap he calls wife.  

 

“Together” his heart briefly swells and a montage of their moments explode in his mind, and he bites his tongue to cause pain, he can’t think of her like that. 

 

“Focus on the pain, it’s how you live!” his brain chants. 

 

The bitter taste of blood in his mouth allows him to block her from his brain and come back to everyone cheering, hugging her and shaking Fucking Kelso’s hand like he won the lottery.

 

A soft voice, one he has been trying to kill since that night in Chicago whispers to him

 

“He did win the lottery. He got Jackie.”

 

He tries to shut that voice down with “I hate her. She is the one who left me.” 

 

 The voice taunts him “He got Jackie. He finally got Jackie and you married a stripper”

 

His wife sitting on his lap like a chain, claps her hands and looks back at him and innocently says 

 

“Isn't this great? Two of your best friends are getting married.”

 

Hyde’s mind rebels against the very idea that this is “great” this is his worst nightmare, him watching her with Kelso forever. This is his personal hell, him knowing he had her, and he fucked up like he predicted he would, dreaded and finally did. The bottom line when it comes to Jackie, Kelso and him is it must be all or nothing. It’s him or Kelso, and she has proved time after time she will never let go of him. Always saying to him they could be friends, never understanding that Kelso had no intention of just being friends, her refusing to give up on Kelso no matter what evidence is laid at her feet. 

 

Instead, she had given up on him. So Great ……… not the word he would use

 Fucking Kelso, the demise of him and Jackie. Kelso was the issue with the damn nurse, Kelso in Chicago and then when Sam rolled in the door, just as they were on the verge of working it out he had just left with her. He still doesn’t know where they went, only that they were gone, and he knew she would never forgive him for Sam. He literally can’t think about what Kelso could have been doing with her, what he will have the privilege to do for the rest of his life. 

 

He knows Jackie. He knows in the dark, at the bottom of a bottle that she would never cheat. When he can’t hide from the facts anymore he knows it is his fault; the nurse, Vegas, staying married to a stripper and the worst telling her to go to Chicago. His most grievous error was not making sure she knew that no matter what his foolish fears were and what comes out of his mouth when he is pissed, he would have never told her to leave and really mean it. He still can’t understand why this was the fight she just gave up. Why this time she didn’t fight back?

 

He has always laughed at stories about people saying their “life flashes before their eyes” in accidents, but his final moments with her come roaring back in full color.



Jackie is looking at him, hands on her hips, her eyes almost pleading and yelling at him at the same time, she demands of him

 

“I want to talk about the future. What if I want to go college? What if I got a job offer? 

 

He notices her tone changes. It gets softer, almost scared.

 

“Did You?” He asks.

 

She looks away. This is the first time she’s denied him her eyes in a long time. His heart is pounding. She won’t look at him. Jackie never looks away.

 

“Yes. I sent a tape to a studio in Chicago. I never thought they would take me seriously.”

 

He feels himself starting to panic She didn’t tell him any of this. She’s leaving him behind. So, he does what he always does when he is scared down to his bones… He explodes irrationally that she is keeping things from and what else is she hiding?

 

He is over the line pissed. “You didn’t tell me? ME!” 

 

Because jealousy always replaces good sense he yells out

 

“Did you tell Kelso?”

He watches her eyes slip away again and frigid fear because red hot rage

 

“YOU FUCKING TOLD KELSO BUT NOT ME!”

 

He sees utter pissed fill every ounce of her pixie sized body, and he is about to be reminded Jackie has just as a disastrous level temper as he does.

 

“Are you kidding me? If I even talk about the future, you treat me like I am crazy. I needed to talk to someone. I needed someone to listen to me without losing it. I knew if I told you and asked you how you pictured yourself fitting in my future on the off chance someone even cared about my damn tape, you would freak. Why don’t you get what I could be giving up for YOU? 

 

She didn’t mean it the way it came out, but where Hyde’s defense mechanism is to sound like an ass, Jackie’s is to go into snobby bitch mode.

 

Hyde felt the blow in his heart and a spotlight shone on his deepest insecurity, that he is all the things he knows he is, trash, a nobody, and the guy who would hold her back, and one day she finally recognized it. 

 

She finally figured out he isn’t worth it. 

 

“Well I wouldn’t someone like me to hold back you princess.” he growls

 

“Steven, I didn’t mean it like that.” She said angrily 

 

“Whatever” he retorts

 

Then an anger born from the rawest part of him spews four words he will regret his whole life, words he will never make up for

 

“Have a Nice Trip”

 

He opens his eyes, that one moment altered his life like a tornado had hit him. There is no drunk clarity right now, he is completely sober, so he relies on what has been saving him his whole life, black rage.  It is that rage that has always kept him safe and told him how to judge a blow about to come, kept him from falling apart when his fucking mom abandoned him, that gave him the will to live when Jackie tore his heart from his chest. That fury comes racing to the surface.  This is the ugliest part of him, but he clings to it. He needs it, or he won’t make it. If he is going to hurt until he dies over Jackie he sure as hell will take her with him. Even though he knows he is proving everyone right, that he is a complete and total bastard, she must hurt if he does. 

 

So Every…..

 

Bitch

Worst Mistake of my Life

She means nothing to me

Sam is the best thing that ever happened to him

I never loved you  

 

All of it is complete and total bullshit, but he is trying to break her, because he can’t be himself without her. He pushes down the sick and the love for Jackie and says loudly and cruelly

 

“It’s Kelso’s funeral. Glad I dodged that bullet.” 

 

His sneer is nasty and even Sam who is dumb as a box of rocks whispers

 

“Hyde! Stop. That was mean!”

 

He barely hears her because Jackie’s eyes swing to his and for the first time in a long time she is allowing him to read her, to see her eyes fully, to know her heart.  This is something they have been doing since they were young, they know each other and can see each other.  His heart catches, and he feels a moment of joy, because he has missed this, knowing her this way. Something that no one can do but him, Kelso can marry her, but he won’t ever have this. This is just for him and Jackie.

 

His joy evaporates quickly. Jackie’s eyes are pleading, almost scared, they scream

 

 “please don’t hurt me.” 

 

He feels bile raise in his throat because he realizes Jackie is scared of him, of the man he’s become. He the man who has always been her shelter is now what she wants to bolt from. He is her storm. Whatever is left of his heart snaps. Hurt  her……. Yes. Fear….. him was never what he wanted. At this moment he has never been so ashamed… Jackie scared of him, he didn’t think that was possible.

 

They both tear their eyes away and his stare falls on Kelso. The expression on his face is triumphant, and Hyde wants to pound that look off his face. Hyde watches Jackie turn for a minute and Kelso looks straight at him and mouths.

 

“Looks like I won”

 

He nearly dumps Sam off his lap, so he can get up and kill Kelso. The blackness that he craves is swarming up, that broken part of him that wants to destroy is coming off the leash but a soft voice burns it away.

 

“You are better than this Steven.”

 

“What the fuck do you know Jackie? He answers the voice he can’t mute in his soul.

 

She whispers “I know you.”

 

Every part of him wants to reject her words in what is left of his tattered ability to do the right thing, but he has no power against her belief in him, even if he merely imagines it now. Instead of beating Kelso to death, he keeps his face impassive and gently pushes Sam off his lap and makes sure Kelso is looking at him, and he throws his own arrow 

 

“She doesn’t love you.”

 

 He isn’t even sure why he says it other than he wants to believe it desperately, but witnessing Kelso go bone white is absolutely worth it. He slips out quietly, the room still chaotic with happiness. No one sees him go except the newly engaged couple whose eyes follow him out of the room. Jackie’s eyes are full of sorrow and regret. Kelso’s eyes are riddled with vengeance.

 

Jackie is unable to stop herself and the words tumble out before she can put them back in

 

“Where do you think he is going?”

 

Kelso is so startled by the question that for the first time in their history he grabs Jackie harshly and spins her to look at him

 

“Why does it matter Jackie?”

 

Kelso swears her face goes perfectly Zen, giving nothing away. He bitterly thinks Hyde would be proud of her and without a hint of anything in her voice, she says

 

“It doesn’t matter. I was just curious.”

 

She pulls her arm away from him and arches her eyebrow at him, challenging him to question her.

 

He searches her face, desperate to read her to see whatever the hell it is Hyde always sees, but he sees nothing but perfect calm.

He is confident that Jackie just lied to his face. 

Her name is called, and she moves away, and dread starts to form around his heart. He heads to the Forman’s bar. He needs a drink, hell maybe he will take a page out of Hyde’s book and drink the whole damn bottle. He needs to calm down, his plan isn't falling apart, Jackie won’t slip away. He needs to stop worry this perfectly serene and cardboard Jackie, isn’t settling for him. He needs to believe she loves him.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Hyde drives to his spot, their spot but he needs quiet and this is where he goes to face his demons and the reality of what his life has become. He looks at the stars and wishes it was cloudy to match his mood, instead the stars are blazing in the sky. It’s one of those perfect fall nights, where all you want to do is sit by a bonfire with friends, tip back a drink, and enjoy life. As he uncaps the bottle of Jack, he thinks to himself at least I have one out of three.  

 

Booze is the only thing that helps with the black hole that is his feelings for Jackie. Her echo is relentless. It never stops. It doesn’t matter if he’s cruel and heartless. It doesn’t matter he has a wife to shield him from the possibility of redemption. It doesn’t matter that she has stopped coming to the basement. Her absence is like a scream that bounces off the wall. Nothing stops her ghost, nothing stops Jackie.

 

He sees her when he lays next to a cheap bottle bought blond. He replaces Sam’s face with hers every time he and Sam have sex, or he wouldn’t even get it up. Sometimes he dreams he is still her hero and that she is still his Doll, his grasshopper, HIS. JUST HIS, but the dawn of each day is his tormentor, as soon as he opens his eyes reality comes slamming home. 

 

He does the only thing he can do to dull the pain…. He drinks. Every slug of whiskey, dulls Jackie. Every pull on the bottle makes loving her blurry, her laugh not easy to remember and by the time he is at the bottom for a brief moment he can forget she loved, believed, wanted, and most of all chose Him. 

 

He knows the drinking is out of hand, and the sad fact is it is Jackie who has found him and picked him up when the bar calls. He never means to, but it is her name he always gives when the bartender won’t pour anymore drinks. She always comes. It is heaven and hell simultaneously, he is near her but damn he is near her and wasn’t that what he was trying to drink the fuck away.

 

 He never says anything in these episodes and either does she. One night she found him fall down drunk walking in the rain she pulled over and pushed him in the car. That night was not silent and it wasn’t pretty.

 

“What the hell are you doing Steven?” Jackie yelled

 

“Walking home and minding my own damn business until you assaulted me and pushed me into your car.” He seethed

 

“FUCK!” she screamed

 

He remembered his head popping up and that one swear word sobering him up quite a bit. Jackie doesn't swear. Almost never, for some reason that just pissed him off more.

 

“Look who decided to use big girl words. Or was that an offer?” He snarked.

 

The expression she had leveled at him had been one of pure loathing and disappointment and it put a damper on his nasty attitude.

 

“If you are going to kill yourself, don’t call me. It’s not fair. Oh, and just to be clear…. I wouldn’t fuck you if you came with a diamond.”

 

 He takes another swig, he knows it is going to take more than this single bottle to silence the agony. He lets it burn down his throat, and he prays to whoever is listening that the pain will stop. He can’t believe she said yes.

 

His journey to hell is interrupted by a quiet sound coming out of the dark, There she is, his Doll. Simply seeing her in their spot, is painful, and he is so tired of hurting.

 

“Get out of here Jackie.” he says quietly

 

“Hyde……” She trails off. 

 

He winces and takes another drink, she has stopped calling him Steven another way to separate herself from him, another wall she has built to keep herself safe.

 

“What the fuck Jackie? What do you want? Did you come to rub it in?” He shoots out.

 

She crosses to him and takes his hands. He gasps, her touch is like fire and it causes the dead inside of him to want to come back to life. He refuses to crumble in front of her. She’s taken everything. He won’t let her take his pride, it’s all he has left. 

 

“Does your fiancee know you are here? God, Jackie you are the most faithless chick I've ever met.”

 

He is praying his words push her away, Instead he sees that fire that he loves come to life in her face, and she squares her shoulders. She reaches for him again.

 

This time she cups his face, and he looks into her eyes, and he is transfixed.

 

She whispers so softly that the wind almost takes her words away.

 

“Please stop this. Please stop drinking like this. I’m begging you.”

 

His gaze is stuck on hers. Those eyes are pleading with him to hear her, and he sees something else, but he has to ask

 

“Why do you care?” 

 

Her voice takes on a sharp tone and she says

 

 “Steven really look at me. Please I am begging you, really look.” 

 

Her eyes are bright with tears and she cries quietly

 

“You know why.”

 

He can recognize the answer etched in her gypsy gaze. He knows why, and he didn’t think he could hurt more, but this moment is a new death.

 

“If you ever loved me, if any part of that is still there, please stop. It kills me to see you like this. Please.”  She begs

 

He is hypnotized, He couldn’t move if he tried. She softly kisses his lips and moves away.

 

The spell is broken when his brain yells “This could be it. DO SOMETHING!”

 

“Jackie” he calls 

 

She stops not looking at him but staring into the blackness from which she came. He comes up from behind her, he can see her trembling, like her body was terribly aware of him. He digs something out of his pocket, he has been carry it since she left for Chicago. 

 

He sweeps her raven hair to the side and although he knows he shouldn't, he kisses her bare skin and the taste of her is intoxicating, and he wants so badly to consume all of her. 

 

Instead, he drops something around her neck and clasps it. She is shaking so bad, that she can barely stand. 

 

He whispers into her ear

 

“Take it back, it’s yours. You are and always will be my grasshopper.”

 

She presses back into him, and he quickly but briefly pulls her to him. He just wants this to be forever, but then she bolts forward into the night, and he is alone.

 

He looks back up at the stars and walks back to his car and grabs the whiskey. He looks at it and all he can see are her eyes and all he can hear is 

 

“You know why.”

 

 He will do this one last thing for her, he launches the whiskey into the air and it explodes into pieces. He can’t take his eyes off the stars and asks the question ravishing him 

 

“How can she have said yes?”

 

 Finally, for the first time he cries and lets it all out. He grieves losing Jackie.

Chapter Text

 

The Basement

“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”

 

Followed by 

 

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

 

“Yes.”

 

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.