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Somewhere Along the Way

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Eric

Somewhere along the way, a raven haired, 98 pound devil kicking cheerleader became my best friend. I sit here, studying her head, in my lap sleeping. Don’t get ideas, I would sooner jump off a bridge than like her. She drives me nuts, and when I look at her all I see is the little girl, who followed me home from school one day after a bully was trying to kick my ass. I will never forget it, I was about to get pounded, praying Hyde was somewhere when this tiny blur came and kicked this kid asshole so hard in the shins, he fell like a ton of bricks. I remember looking around and not seeing anyone and then looking down and there standing was a slip of a girl. She had eyed me and with the snobbiest tone possible said

 

“You should learn to do something about this guy, I can’t be everywhere” 

 

I had said ‘thanks” and started walking home, she literally followed me, talking the whole time. In my whole life, I’ve never met anyone who talks as much as she does, she came in with me and my mom fed her cookies and milk, and you could say the rest is History, Jackie Burkhart became a central figure in my life. So, here I sit with her head in my lap after she cried herself to sleep, and I’m still rubbing her arm to comfort her. 

 

I look down at her and my heartbreaks, God, she just sets herself up to get hurt, she absolutely loves with all her heart. I notice her stir and shudder, I know what’s coming, because it’s what she kept saying as she cried herself to sleep

 

“I just love him so much, it hurts so bad.”

 

I stroke her hair “I know Devil, I know” I call her that because Jesus, this girl has a temper and will attack with no warning. Getting kicked by Jackie, is its own painful hell.

 

I take a deep breath and try to find calm and think to myself as I listen to her sob again brokenheartedly “Steven Hyde is a dead man”



Hyde

Somewhere along the way, against my will, better judgment and all that is right with the world, I fell in love with the most annoying cheerleader in the universe. She never shuts up, can be a total snob, shallow, but simultaneously is beautiful, strong, big-hearted and simply the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I fucked it up. I’ve been up at the water tower for hours, not wanting to go back to the basement, because I know she is there. I know right now her head is in fucking Eric’s lap, and she is sobbing. How do I know this? Because I’ve watched that show a million times, when she can’t take it anymore, she curls up with Eric.  When lost…. Jackie finds Eric, Jackie Burkhart, the Queen of Popularity is best friends with a complete and total geek, and besides me, he is unfailing loyal to her. More, than Kelso, More than Fez, even more than Donna. Those two are thick as thieves, and it has annoyed the shit out of me for years, and that is why I’m in this fucking mess, because I am fucking jealous of Eric Forman. 

 

I know. I know there is nothing between Eric and Jackie, God……. They fight like Cats and Dogs, he gets kicked by her the most, second only to Kelso… He is not even going to think about Kelso, that’s a whole other problem with Jackie, Fucking Kelso, but this time it wasn’t Kelso who sent him over the edge it was Eric. 

 

He knows Eric has been in love with Donna since he was five, Good God wasn’t Jackie the person a few years ago, that smacked him upside the head and said 

 

“Eric, I am tired of hearing you whine about Donna, either ask her out, or I am telling her you like someone else.”

 

I’ve asked Donna if Eric and Jackie being close bothers her, and she always sighs and says the same thing

 

“Sometimes, but I know Eric loves me, and Jackie loves me too and I know she would never ever cheat on any boyfriend and I know she wouldn’t do that to me. She is loyal down to those painful tipped toes. Jackie loves Eric,  but not the way I do, and not the way she loves you.”

 

I sigh, that is what I hate…. I don’t want her to love Eric, I don’t want her to have a soft spot for Kelso, I want to know that I’m first because I fear if push came to shove she would pick Eric over me. 

 

I press my fingers to my eyes, I have fucked up big time and I know it is time to face it head on.

 

The drive back in my Camino is agonizing, is she going to be in the basement waiting for me, is she with Donna now, or is she curled up with Eric like I suspect? I don’t want to walk in and discover that.

 

I pause outside the basement door, I’ve never been a coward but I’ve never broken Jackie’s heart before and nothing scares me more than that. I push in and find it empty expect Eric.

 

“Hey” I mutter, having no idea what to say

 

He looks at me, he’s pissed. I’ve never seen him this mad. He doesn't say anything back. 

 

I take a deep breath “Where is she?”

 

I see it. For the first time in our friendship which fucking predates him and Jackie, I see a burning hate, and it surprises me, but also flares up my own pissed off…. Looks like not only would Jackie pick him over me, but he would pick her as well and it  pisses me off. Those two… God Damn it.

 

“Why do you care?” he spits out, glaring at me.

 

I’m starting to lose focus and get mad again. “Don’t start with me, Forman. Where is she?”

 

He blows first, and for the very first time in his life, he unwisely decides to take me on, and shoves me as hard as he can (which I might add, is not much), it’s all I need, to take all my frustrations and shame out on him.

 

I shove him back as hard as I can “You want to take me on Forman? I don’t think you want to go there.”

 

He glares back “Yeah, I fucking do.” and dives at me and the next thing I know for the first time I am physically fighting with Eric. I’ve kicked Kelso’s ass more times than can be counted, but the most I’ve ever done is frog Eric in the arm. 

 

I am kicking the shit out of him, but he won’t stop, finally I pin him 

 

“Knock it off Forman. This isn’t going to solve anything and you know she’s going to freak when she sees us.”

 

I feel the fight go out of him, and again I get that burn inside of me, he will stop for her. It clouds my thinking and I tell myself it's not true. Jackie doesn't want Eric. I get off of him, and he pops up, I can see he wants to hit me again, but he lets his arms drop.

 

‘Where is she?” I ask softly

 

Eric

God, I hurt everywhere. I lost my mind, what in the name of God possessed me to attempt to fight with Hyde. I know better, he is a 150 pound kicking ass machine. You would never know it, but Hyde takes really good care of himself, outside of the pot and getting trashed. He works out, does weights in the basement and does all sorts of weird crap I couldn’t do on my best day. I didn’t have a chance in hell, what possessed me? I know the answer, it’s the same thing that always makes me do shit completely out of my character or out of my own desire…… freaking Jackie. Damn her, no one causes people to lose their damn minds like she does, no one more than my jack ass other best friend…. Hyde.

 

She has been pushing him over the edge since she waltzed in my life, I can’t think of a time he didn’t have an extreme reaction to her…..Extreme annoyance, pride when she kicked Laurie’s ass, protectiveness, and want. As much as he thinks he hides it, Hyde has been watching Jackie for years, if you don’t know him as well as I do, you would miss it, but the bottom line is if he really didn’t like Jackie, he would have ignored her existence, it's just how he operates. Instead, he’s been reacting to her for years, he’s the dumb ass…. He’s been in love with her this whole time and completely too stupid to realize it. 

 

“Why should I tell? You cheated on her Hyde! She fucking cried for hours. HOURS! If you can’t love her the way she loves you….. Just leave her the fuck alone!”

 

I recognize the pissed come raging back and know this is about to get ugly.

 

“She’s my girlfriend Forman! I need to talk to her, you think I don’t know I fucked up. You think I don’t know that Jackie wasn’t crying her fucking eyes out in your lap. You think I don’t know that she went straight to fucking you like she always does. She’s MY girlfriend Forman, MINE!”

 

“Why did you do it? What conceivable reason could you have for cheating on Jackie!”

 

He explodes “WHAT THE HELL WAS I SUPPOSE TO THINK, WHEN I WALK IN THE BASEMENT AND SHE IS HALF UNDRESSED, WITH YOU TOUCHING HER DAMN BACK!”

 

He doesn’t get it. That it is just as insulting to me as it is fucking wrong what he did to Jackie and I’ve had enough

 

“You are supposed to know that you and I are brothers and I would never screw your girlfriend. You are supposed to know that Jackie would die before cheating on you after what Kelso did and the way her tramp mom acts. You are supposed to know her better than that. You are supposed to know me better than that. Why can’t you for once just ask, instead of freaking out?

 

He just looks at me blankly, his even gaze unreadable even to me, and I barrel on this time more exhausted and sad

 

“She was hurting Hyde, I could tell by the way she was carrying herself that something was wrong. She was being weird about it, I told her if she didn’t show me or tell me then I was getting my mom, so she unzipped the back of her blouse. I was touching the bruise and scratches, and I was trying to figure how the hell this happened.”

 

I watch him close his eyes “I know that now, I just……”

 

“You just assumed two people who love you would betray you, and what gave you the sudden clarity that I am not screwing Jackie.”

 

I watch him take a weary sigh “I ran into Donna who was worried about Jackie, and told me about you making her show her bruises and scratches to you, and that Jackie was being super weird about it.”

 

He looks away, won't make eye contact with me anymore, which means he’s really upset and doesn’t want me to recognize it and asks

 

“Did she tell you how she got hurt?”

 

In all what had happened in the last 24 hours, I had forgotten to focus on that part, and that worry came back

 

‘No, she refused and just said she fell, then you blew in the room and all hell broke loose.”

 

“Okay” he whispers

 

As pissed as I am, I can’t bring myself to torture him anymore

 

“She asleep in your room, I put her on your cot.” 

 

He immediately turns and heads to his room, but I say his name

 

“Hyde, don’t screw this up.”

 

He looks at with the worst face, I’ve ever seen, complete and total regret are etched into every line on his face and says

 

“I already did”

 

I watch him push into his room, to face the consequences of his actions, and all I can think is 

 

“No one causes people to lose their damn minds like Jackie.”

Chapter Text

 

Hyde

 

I step into my room and the light by my bed is burning softly, and I cringe. Jackie is scared of the dark, no matter where she sleeps, she always leaves a light burning. She always says the dark holds the monsters and gets a faraway look and snuggles up to me, she will only sleep with the light out if I am with her. I look down, and she is curled up in a ball on my cot, at some point she must have changed because she has on my Zeppelin Tee and her cheer shorts. I hope to sweet Jesus that Eric didn’t change her, because I don’t give a damn what he says, Jackie’s body is fucking incredible, and there is no way he wouldn’t appreciate getting a chance to view her body and I don’t want him to see it. I can’t deal with the thought that  Kelso every touched her, I don’t need to think about Eric knowing what is under her clothes, or I am going to lose my damn mind.

 

She hiccups and I see tissue clutched in her hand and I feel like such a bastard. I know she cried herself to sleep. I kneel down and just watch her. Sleeping Jackie is something from a fairytale, her lips are rosy, her skin perfect and her hair is the color of midnight. She  looks like she is waiting for her prince to kiss her. I close my eyes, I am far from a prince, I’m the either the villain or the poor stable boy no one gives a damn about. 

 

I start to reach out to stroke her cheek when I notice my tee shirt has fallen off her shoulder and I see a huge bruise and a scratch. I’ve had the shit kicked out of me as a kid and I’ve been in a million fights, I know what the bruise is, that’s a fist mark. I can almost see the finger impressions on her delicate skin, and it is surrounded by scratches. I would bet my stash, that those marks are from her falling on the ground or her being scraped up against something. All my sins are briefly blown out of my mind by the cruel sludge of anger curling up in me and I yell out and shake her

 

“Jackie! Who hit you?” 

 

She comes flying awake and I glimpse pure fear before she sees it's me, and then she yanks her shirt up, curls up and scoots away from me. She isn’t saying anything, she just is staring at me with an expression of agony. I can’t bring myself to address that yet, so I focus on what started all this

 

“Tell me now, I’m not fucking around Jackie, who hit you?”

 

Jackie when it is important is world’s worst liar, sure she can lie to your face about where Donna is or why Kelso is super glued to something but when it’s serious and important she cracks, so when she looks away, I know she’s going to lie.

 

‘I’m not sure why you care but I only fell, I don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal about this.”

 

Now I’m really pissed, does she really think that just because I’m a fucking idiot and cheated on her that I don’t care what happens to her?

 

“Damn it Jackie, you now I care about you, now who hit you?”

 

 Her head whips to me and I know it’s coming. There is no bracing for the storm that is Jackie

 

“You CARE! YOU CARE ABOUT ME! Well color me surprised, considering you fucked a nurse last night, because you assumed I was screwing Eric. ERIC! Who has never so much has kissed my cheek.”

 

She has temporarily distracted me by that complete bullshit line about Eric, and I’ve lost my ability to be rational again. I will spend my life trying to figure out why dealing with Jackie makes me go nuts.

 

“Oh Bullshit Jackie, never has so much as kissed your cheek…. I bet my life that tonight you laid your head in his lap and that he stroked your hair! I bet he rubbed your arm, kissed your forehead and you know how I know that…. Because I’ve seen the Eric and Jackie show almost my whole damn life. He touches you all the damn time! You ever see me touch Donna like that? I’ve been friends with her just as long and the most I’ve ever done was kind of kiss her that one time I lost my damn mind. YOU and ERIC AREN’T NORMAL.”

 

I can see it, I view the fucking pissed roll over her

 

 “So it’s my fault you screwed the nurse? It’s my fault, that I have one person who gives a damn about me? Because Kelso never did other than to get some, Donna’s friends with me through Eric, and you spent most of your life hating me.  So you can go to hell, Eric’s all I have. He’s the only one who actually gives a damn about me.”

 

Nothing she could have said to me, could have hurt more, that Eric is the only who cares about her, that their relationship is more special than what her and I have.

 

I’m hurt and I can’t keep it out my voice

 

 “You know that’s not true, I care about you. You are just too busy basking in Eric to notice that I do.You have me.You have me, Jackie.”

 

I’ve seen her wicked mad, I’ve seen her kick and fight pissed but this is raw and it’s like watching winter take her over, and I am almost scared of what she is going to say next, and then she takes an ice shard and shoves into my heart

 

“I don’t have you, because you don’t have me. You stopped having me the minute you decided I would bang your oldest friend, you stopped having me when you slept with a random nurse just to hurt me. We are done.”

 

She starts to blow by me but I won’t have it, I refuse for this to be done, I reach out to grab her and I get her shoulder, and she yelps and the bruise comes storming back into my mind.

 

I pull her to me and hiss

 

 “You can hate me. You can break up with me, but you are going to tell me who hit you, because I know a fist mark when I see one. So who the fuck hit you Jackie?”

 

She starts to struggle and yell ‘Let me go. Let me go Hyde.” 

 

Her use of my last name startles me, and I let go, and she kicks me so violently that I stumble. She’s out  past Eric and out the door.  I attempt to recover from her hellish kicks and go after her but I hear the Lincoln roar to life, and she’s gone.

 

I hit the basement door as hard as I can and yell “FUCK” I turn on Eric and seethe

 

‘Who the hell would hit Jackie?”

Chapter Text

Runaway Train

Jackie

Somewhere along the way, I let myself believe Steven loved me, that I mattered, that I wasn’t just the girl he screwed for a whole summer. Somewhere, I forget that is not how things work out for me. I can’t stop crying, it hurts, like nothing has ever before, even more than when Kelso cheated. God…… why doesn't he get it? I’ve been using Michael for years, and that makes me a total crap person. I’ve been in love with Steven since we were kids, and I’ve spent pretty much my whole life thinking I didn’t have a chance in hell, and well there was Michael, to distract me.

I did love Michael. I care about him, and it did hurt when he cheated, but he was just my way of trying to not stare at Steven and be pathetic. When he kissed me this summer, it was like my most secret hope was realized. Why can’t he appreciate I never told Eric all summer we were together?  One of the three secrets I’ve ever kept from Eric….

  1. I love Steven, always have
  2. Where the bruises come from
  3. That Steven and I have kissed before

I have secrets, lots of them and now not only has Steven broken my heart but I know he won’t let the bruise go. He knows what it is, I know he does. Abused recognizes Abused. Most of the time, I can pass off bruises and scratches from cheerleading, this time I can’t.  Eric, who has never been hurt in his life, could stare at the bruise all day and not know what it is, it’s why I didn’t want his mom to see it. Mrs. Forman is a nurse, I'm sure she has dealt with bruises like this before.

If he had not screwed the nurse, I wouldn’t have let Steven touch me for days, because I didn't have a story other than I fell, and Steven isn’t stupid, he knows a fist mark when he sees one. 

I lay my head on the steering wheel and just cry. The man I love more than life, slept with someone else, and I’m scared to death of what is happening to me. I don’t know how to stop it. 

 

Go On Believe Her When She Tells You Nothing Is Wrong

Eric

I stare at Hyde, not knowing what to say, and thinking perhaps it is foolish to go after Jackie, this one time. He doesn’t know how to make Hyde understand Jackie is only his friend, can only ever be his friend, and he feels deep resentment that he should ever have to explain. Hyde is just standing there, staring at nothing, the silence is starting to get uncomfortable, I’m not sure how to even answer his question 

 

“Hit Jackie? What the hell are you talking about?

 

Hyde looks at me like I’m an idiot and growls

“That’s not only a fucking bruise Forman, it’s a fist mark. Someone hit her hurt as hard as they could, and I bet you my life, she either fell to the ground or she was thrown up against something to cause the scratches.”

 

I’m shocked, and for now the cheating falls to the wayside.  I’m still baffled by what Hyde is saying

“Are you sure? I mean, how do you know that is what made the mark?”

 

Hyde looks at me like I’ve forgotten something, something vital.

 

“Jesus Forman, how do you think I know what that mark is? Think about it. Think about what we never talk about.” 

He says it with a deep weariness and his eyes are briefly unmasked, and I see years of abuse flash across his face.

 

I feel sick and I look away, I know exactly how he knows, and he is correct, we’ve never talked about it. Hyde has virtually ignored the topic our entire friendship.

 

He keeps talking, but he won’t make eye contact

 “She’s had other bruises, but she has always said they were from cheerleading. God, I’m a fucking idiot, long sleeves in the summer, jumpy, I’ve noticed her step back when we fight, FUCK Forman, that is what someone does when they get hit.”

 

I’m watching him come unglued, as he blames himself for not catching on. I can’t believe I never noticed, never delved into why she gets so hurt at cheerleading. Jackie is a master of switching gears away from what she doesn’t want to talk about. What the hell is wrong with me? You think I wouldn’t fall for it with Zen Boy as a best friend, but it never even occurred to me.

 

Hyde’s breathing is heavy, I can see it, he is going to lose it and spits out

“How long? You are the damn best friend, when did you start to notice?”

 

“I don’t know Hyde, I guess I’ve never paid attention, she’s always been quick to blame cheerleading, which is plausible. I mean you’ve seen her tumble, she falls a lot when she practices.”

 

I watch his eyes, they are tracking every time he wanted to ask and let it go. Every time he has been suspicious but didn’t want to go there, or believe anyone could be hurting her. I notice the guilt of not knowing and the nurse, but even after years of watching him lose it, I am unprepared for what happens next.

 

Hyde screams “FUCK!” and punches the glass out of the basement door. 

 

Trust I seek and find In You

Hyde

It takes me over, that anger I try so hard to keep inside, the anger of being hurt by your parents, being abandoned, near starving, knowing no one loves you best and for knowing it will mark me my whole life. 

 

I do it almost without thinking, it is like an out-of-body experience, I just want something to be destroyed like me. I punch as hard as I can at the glass, and my fist goes all the way through it.. Instant blood and pain, I want the pain, it’s what makes me feel. I hide my deepest hurts, so I don’t have to deal with the worst parts of my life. I need the pain, because this is the only way for me to let out the destructive monster who I fight everyday.

 

 I hurt myself, so I don’t hurt anyone else…….. Like stupid Forman, who has never had to worry about a damn thing in his whole life.

 

“Hyde! What the HELL?!” Eric yells

 

I turn on him, glass everywhere and blood, dripping from my hand

‘Don’t. Don’t even start with me.” I say harshly.

 

Apparently Eric is not on board with that plan, because he barrels on. He is totally ranting and raving. Then he says something he will never be able to take back

 

“Dude! What are you doing? You can’t keep hitting shit, just because you're mad or hurt! God Hyde, what happens one day when you are fighting with Jackie, are you going to hit her?"

 

Every fiber of my being freezes, did my oldest friend just suggest I would hit Jackie? I am stunned, I actually feel my stomach clutch. 

 

“Hyde….. I…..” Eric starts to say and I explode

 

“Oh, this is FUCKING RICH! Didn’t you just sit out here and scream at me that I should know you wouldn’t “screw Jackie?” Didn’t you stand here all fucking “I’m the king of the nice guys” and make me feel like shit because I assumed the worst? WELL FUCK YOU! I can’t believe you would even suggest I would touch her. I’ve never hurt any of you other than Kelso being an asshole or tonight. If you think I would ever put my hands on Jackie, then you don’t know me at all.”

 

I watch his face pale and instant regret come over him

“Hyde, I don’t know what to say, it just came out in the heat of the moment. I overreacted. You know I care about Jackie, it made me say something stupid.”

 

I start to laugh bitterly, I can’t stop. The irony in his words is entirely too good to let go without rebuttal

“Oh, you mean like I overreacted when I saw you caressing my girlfriend’s naked back. Yeah, I was wrong, and I’m paying the price, but don’t you dare stand in front of me and pretend you just didn’t the same FUCKING THING.”

 

I watch his chest heave, his eyes are shooting a plea at me to let this one go, and he tries to sweep it away

“Hyde, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean it.”

 

A part of my heart that I never imagined could go cold, is frozen. I never thought I would ever feel burning hate for someone I consider a brother.

 

Jackie would have recognized the look in his eyes, it was the same one he had the night when they got in a fight about “Get off my boyfriend”, biting, unyielding and unmovable. 

 

“Somethings you can’t take back Forman, and yeah…. You did mean it”

 

With blood drippy from my hand, and pain in my heart, I stomp out of the basement and thinking

 

Fuck Forman

Chapter Text

Lie to Me

Eric

Somewhere along the way I started to believe the lie I’ve been telling myself for years. Until I could stare at anyone without a hint of genuine deception and say

“I don’t like Jackie. We are just best friends.”

I can’t help but reflect on how I got here, and when I forgot the difference between the act I was putting on and the truth. You can make yourself believe anything when you need to survive. You hold that lie like a gospel truth because you love a girl who lays her head on your lap and weeps for another man. 

 

You lie to yourself until you believe it because you are best friends with one of the most perceptive people on earth, who has been watching what he calls the “Jackie and Eric Show” for years. You chant that lie until you can look your best friend in the eye and discount his suspicions. 

 

I fall on the couch, head back, thinking of all the things I’ve really screwed up in the last hour and wonder if Hyde knows what I just realized…..

“I love Jackie”

 

I love that stubborn, pain in the ass, drives me insane but never lets me down Jackie. I don’t want to love her, because I know without a doubt she has never loved me that way. She would do anything for me. She has been an incredible friend, but when you are a girl’s secret keeper, then you know her heart. 

She’s been in love with Hyde since Junior High and after Prom, it was a done deal. No one knows like I do how shallow her feelings for Kelso were. She’s followed Hyde around like a disgruntled puppy for a long time, so it was easy to lie to myself because I don’t have a shot in hell.

I have wrapped myself so tightly in the untruth that she was only my friend, that I didn’t grasp that much of tonight was about me, being pissed Hyde has Jackie, and he screwed up. I actually feel tears sting my eyes, I can’t believe I said what I did, because I do know… he would sooner die than hit Jackie.

 

How many times have I watched him pull his temper back with her……

Close his eyes and physically force himself to relax

Turn from her, so she can’t comprehend it

Walk out and not come back until he is cooled down

 I know he would never hit her like I know tomorrow the sun will come up.

 

I know I said it because in the heat of the moment my lie couldn’t hold up against the truth, the truth that I love Jackie. It makes me feel like crap, because I do love Donna. I want to be with Donna and I don’t want to give her up, but it’s moments like this I forget I’ve been keeping a secret about my feelings exactly as long as Jackie has for Hyde. I sit not knowing what to do next, there is no Jackie to comfort and no Hyde to try to calm down. I am paralyzed by all the events that have taken place. Just like Hyde, I feel like shit that it never crossed my mind to ask her about the bruises. What did Hyde say

 

“How long? You are the damn best friend, when did you start to notice?”

 

If I am really being honest, I lied to Hyde tonight about the bruises, I have only noticed them in the vaguest sense. I don’t even think I’ve asked her that many times about them. I feel a deep shame in not thinking about her stories and even wondering if there could be a pattern. 

I hear a voice in my head, one that says “No one is here, don’t keep lying to yourself.” I close my eyes and force myself to look at the ugliest truth of the night, there was something more going on.

 

Yesterday, when I asked her to show me her back because she was holding herself so oddly, I forgot who I was I forgot I was Eric Forman, best friend Extraordinaire , and in a moment of pure insanity I thought I could be Hyde. 

“Jackie, you are either going to show me, or I am getting my mom, so stop being a brat.” I say to her sternly

 

“Fine! This is idiotic, but your mom is going to make a big deal out of it and it’s not.” she turned around  facing the other way, that way I could look at her back.

 “You are going to need to unzip the back of my shirt.”

 

I reach for the zipper as I pull it down her exotic skin is exposed to me. My breath catches, Jackie is a stunning woman, and I can’t help but brush my fingers on her skin, while pushing the shoulder down to observe the giant bruise and scratches. I run my fingers over purple and menacing greens, staining her skin, glared with angry scratches.

 

“Jackie, what happened? This looks awful.”

 

She practically purrs her answer “Had a tough fall from the Cheer Pyramid, Kat Peterson swatted a bee, and we all fell on the track.”

 

I let her story wash over me, and I accept it instantly because I want to look at her skin and I want to trace my fingers over it with the excuse of testing for pain. What Jackie doesn't know is immediately before the knife of obscenities filled the air, I was leaning into the base of her neck where those wispy curls had wandered from her ponytail, dancing on that entrancing skin. Just once I wanted to taste her, just once.

 

“WHAT THE MOTHER FUCK IS GOING ON?” 

Both Jackie and I had snap around to a furious Hyde. Jackie popped up, her top sliding off even further, and his gaze went gone glacial. He pushed past her out the door.

 

I open my eyes and look around me, and tell myself that I can fix it, all of it. I am going to just tell myself that lie until I believe it.

Chapter Text

“Take me into your darkest hour”

Hyde

Somewhere along the way Forman forgot that I’m not Kelso, and that I’m not oblivious. He can say whatever he wants, but we've been friends since I kicked Jake Bradley’s ass for picking on him in kindergarten. I know him.  Forman thinks he is a master of hiding how he feels, he might fool other people, but not me. I can read him like a book, and that boy loves Jackie, always has and always will. 

When he is with her, everything about him changes, his eyes get sharper, he’s softer with her than I’ve ever seen him be with Donna, and like every other damn guy in the basement, his eyes follow her when he thinks no one else is watching. He is much more careful when Donna is around, but when it is just us, his face is an open book.

I’ve witnessed him watch her with longing every time she sauntered out of the basement with Kelso.

 I’ve studied his desperate need to pull her closer when she is curled up to him for comfort.

 I’ve watched him lean into her touch when she is teasing him, blissfully unaware that I can read the emotion that cross his face.

 

The one that screams and burns me the most...... is when he hugs her…. his eyes close and he inhales her soft scent.

 

Until a day ago the smelling her was the worst but coming down the damn stairs and watching him sweep his fingers over her soft skin and lean in to kiss her neck, that blows all the other shit out of the water. I just wish, I was smart enough to know that just because Eric is a fool doesn’t mean Jackie was cheating on me.

 

It’s not hard to identify what you yourself,  crave, want, and watch.  I’ve wanted and fucking loved Jackie for years but I had no desire to play second fiddle to Kelso or fight Eric for her. Unlike Eric, Jackie is a mystery to me in many ways. She can be both naked with emotion or shielded completely.  I’ve watched her for a long time waiting for the flip to switch and see if Eric would one day be more than her best guy friend. It has been so hard to tell, but then she made it abundantly clear she was interested in me when she climbed up in my lap and kissed me breathless.

 

That Summer

I feel like I am trapped in some terrible repeated hell, that I probably earned but want to break free from. Forman pretty much stays in his room every day, being stupid about Donna, which I don’t understand. He broke up with her, and then he went nuts when she started dating Casey and then rejected her straight out of hand when she came to him.  I find it hilarious, as if there isn’t someone else lurking in his heart, so why all the drama?  I guess that is what I’m agitated about. Is he upstairs about Donna, or is he freaking out that he is free and his beloved Jackie is untangled from Kelso and this might be his chance?

 

I judge scornfully to myself, “I’m not buying it Forman, you want her, you just don’t have the balls to do anything about it.”

I shake my head, it’s not like I do either, but he can be such a baby.

 

Jackie….

I can’t get her out of my mind. She is like something scrapping in my boot. I can feel it every moment of the day, and I can’t get comfortable.  She’s acting the exact opposite of her normal “ My world is ending, I broke up with Kelso” routine, she’s quiet, distracted and never comments on anything. Day after day, she just comes and hangs out, she hasn’t asked about Eri c once. 

 

I hate I’m watching the minutes tick by waiting for her to appear at her normal time, she arrives and leaves like clockwork. I’ve got about five more minutes before………….and then five minutes early, she blows in like a hurricane. It’s the most energy I’ve glimpsed out of her since Kelso and Donna blew town. It startles me and I stammer out

 

“Jackie, are you okay?”

 

Her eyes are almost wild, and she is breathing heavy, and then she makes eye contact with me and my world tilts. Those mismatched eyes are full of unbridled want and I’m pretty sure it’s aimed at me. She floors me again when she marches her cute little ass over to me, straddles my lap and grabs my face.

 

I’m fucking stunned, “Jackie, what the….”

 

I never get the last word out of my mouth because she cuts me off with a deep and passionate kiss and my world burst into color.

 

Her bedroom

I hear a noise that brings me back to the ominous present, a time when I don’t have Jackie, a time someone is hurting her, and a time she is fucking missing because she obviously didn’t come home after she stormed out. I climbed up the tree by her room and have been waiting for over an hour.  She might think she’s done with me, but I’m far from being done with her, and she’s going to tell me what is going on even if I have to have a knock down, drag out, might be the total end of us fight. 

 

I hear clicking footsteps, a sound I have memorized, she is here. I watch the door knob turn and my throat goes dry, this is it, and I’m not leaving until I have answers, because I don’t give a shit what Forman thinks she can push me right over the edge and I’ll never touch her.

 

The door opens and I say in an effort to not startle her 

“Jackie”

It doesn’t work, she lets out a blood-curdling scream.

 

Jackie

Somewhere along the way I forgot what it was like to feel safe. I’m always waiting, watching and trying to anticipate the next thing that might hurt me. Will it be Kelso cheating? Steven screwing some random nurse? Steven never loving me as much as I love him or my own quiet hell…. where will the next blow come from? All those questions followed by how much will it hurt this time and will I be able to hide it? 

My heart and a scream slam to my throat when I walk into my dark room and I hear my name

 

“Jackie?”

 

I hate the dark. Painful things happen in the black, and I don’t have light to guide my way or Steven to cuddle me close. I start to stumble back, prepared to escape, when the lamp by my bed flips on and there lays a pretty rumpled Steven, which is saying something because he isn’t neatly pressed on a good day. 

 

My heart slows from terror but spikes with anger “GOD STEVEN! You almost gave me a heart attack. What are you doing here?”

 

He glares at me, which I find hilarious because he is in my room uninvited, lurking in the dark.

 

“Don’t you glare at me! This is my house, I don’t want you here.” I shout

 

He strides towards me, and I am waiting for him to touch me and I’m going to kick him so violently, he won’t walk for a week. Instead, he goes past me, shuts my door, and leans on it. All 150 pounds of pure immovable muscle pressed up against my only exit. I am 100 percent trapped. He takes off his sunglasses, and he speaks softly

 

“Jackie, I’m not leaving until you tell me who hit you? You can scream, kick, and tell me that you hate me and never want to see me again but you are out of your god damn cheerleader mind if you think I’m ignoring a man’s fist print on your back.”

 

I close my eyes. This is my worst fear realized, this isn’t Kelso who believes whatever you tell him or Eric who never searches too far below the surface because what does he know about living in terror, this is Steven Hyde, a man who knows life can be hell.  

 

I’m honestly surprised I’ve gotten away with it this long. I knew the minute he had access to my body in ways that he didn’t have before, I was living on borrowed time, but I’m a professional at living in denial. I’ve witnessed him study the marks and watch concern fill his eyes, I’ve felt his fingers trace a bruise and known his mind was suspicious but I imagine he believed two factors, I wouldn’t lie to him and I would tell him if someone was hurting me. 

 

“Jackie, look at me.” He says it so tenderly, I can’t resist him. My eyes flutter to his stormy ocean eyes, and I try to stand strong.

 

“Steven, please… can you let it go? I’ll even forgive you for the nurse and I will pretend nothing ever happened, if you never bring this up again.” I know it's pathetic, but I am grasping at straws.

 

I watch his eyes get dark and his face could be fashioned out of marble. His voice is serious with a tone which suggests I shouldn’t repeat what I just said

 

“I don’t want you to forget it. I fucked up in every way, and I’m willing to do anything and everything to get you back but not at the price of allowing someone to hurt you. Now take your damn shirt off Jackie. Do it now or I’m calling Red Forman. Deal with me or deal with him. Which one is it going to be?”

 

I glare at him, he knows me too well, and this was a low blow. I throw myself at him, I’m known for kicking but I’ve never been one to hit people. I’m desperately trying to prove some point by hitting him, I don’t even know what. I positively know that my fear of the truth has finally pushed me over the edge.

 

He grabs me tightly, pinning my arms in his chest. I kick him as hard I can, hoping that will work.

 

“Fuck Jackie” he yells when I connect with his shin, but he won’t let go. Then he breaks me, right down to the most vulnerable part of my heart

 

“Stop Doll, no more. Let me help you”, he croons in my ear

I can’t do it anymore. I collapse against him. He slides down the door, and pulls me into his lap, and I began to tell my story with tears rather than words. I can’t say it, he must ask. I am waiting for the question I never wanted to answer.

 

He lets my sobs slow down, the whole time his hand gently caresses my back, I can sense him purposely, avoiding the area I’m hurt. I feel him take a deep breath and I know it is finally here, I can’t hide it anymore

 

“Jackie, who is it? Your mom or dad?”

 

My heart squeezes and I burrow my head into his neck, just wanting to never leave, I feel his body tense, his patience is gone.

 

“Answer me Jackie, Which one?”

 

I close my eyes tight and try to bring myself even closer to him, and I whisper my deepest secret

 

‘It’s my dad”

I let out every hit in sobs. He stands up and pulls me into his arms and lays us in bed. He holds me so tight and I need it. I need him, but if I had been watching I would have observed......

 

Death in his eyes

Chapter Text

Eric - Brothers in Arms

I haven’t left the couch since Hyde stormed out. I am not moving until he comes back. Hyde is more than my best friend, he’s my brother. I have to make it right with Hyde. We can deal with the other shit later, but I can’t have him thinking I actually believe he would hit her. I might have to tell him the truth about how I feel about Jackie. I don’t want to, but honesty may be the only thing that can repair this. Yes, I’m hurt that he thinks I would sleep with Jackie, but I wasn't exactly acting like “just a friend” when I was touching her back. My biggest fear is he will throw it all away for her, he didn’t think twice about risking his friendship with Kelso. When it comes to Jackie, Hyde is all or nothing and I don’t want to be the nothing.

 

I look at the clock it is after 2 AM, I am starting to get worried. Hyde has disappeared before, but he is upset about Jackie, the nurse, the bruise, and me, I love him, but he can be destructive when he is upset. Who the hell knows how he is dealing with all this?  I’m giving him 20 more minutes, and I am going to go look for him

I think to myself “Don’t do anything stupid Hyde, that’s what got us in trouble in the first place.”

On that thought, the basement door comes flying open with a kick, and the sounds of a very pissed off Jackie come flying in. 

 

“Put me down! You can’t just throw me over your shoulder and take me out of my house.” 

Hyde walks in with a Jackie over his shoulder, who is nailing him pretty hard with her fists, like it is a normal day, not like it is 2:45 in the morning and a few hours ago, a shit ton of hurt went down. 

 

I lock eyes with Hyde, and for once I can read them perfectly, something is bad really bad, and it involves Jackie. I have no doubt that Hyde got out of Jackie who hit her and that he isn’t leaving her alone. 

 

“Hyde?” I ask

His eyes are still winter blue but there is something else there and it scares me. He’s on a mission and nothing is going to stop him. He dumps Jackie on me and spits out

 

‘Do whatever it is, you do to get her to calm the fuck down. You know as her “best friend”

 

 I watch his lips curl into a snarl when he says best friend and know that our problems are not in the clear.

 

Jackie is squirming and yelling at Hyde

“You are such a bastard. I should have never told you, you promised me we could stay there. You waited until I fell asleep and tried to get away with stealing me out of the house….. You kidnapper.”

 

Hyde leans over and grabs her by the chin and harshly says

“You can call me a bastard, you can hate me, you can hit me as hard as you want, but if you think I am letting you spend one more night there or ever… You never knew me Jackie and you are out of your God Damn Mind.”

 

He starts to stride up the stairs and then he calls my name…..

‘Forman?”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t you dare let her leave this house. I’m getting Red.”

 

I feel Jackie’s whole body tense “You said if I told you, that you wouldn’t tell him” 

 

Her voice is a plea and for one minute I see him waver, because it is nearly impossible to not give in to Jackie when she sounds like this. When her voice becomes soft and trembles, she sounds like a scared little girl. You want to give her want ever she wants to make it stop.

 

He takes a deep breath, looks at her, and says

 “I lied”

 

 He  heads up the stairs to bring my father who I know is not going to be thrilled to be woken up at 2:45 into our miniature Shakespearean tragedy.  Jackie is shaking, her anger is gone, her body is limp like a birthday balloon that is a week old. Hyde is right, I do know how to deal with this, he might hate it but I could write the book on soothing Jackie.

 

“Come on Devil, Lay your head down on my lap, tell me what’s going on before Red comes down here. I can’t help you if I don’t know what I’m about to fight.” 

Her big doe eyes look at mine, and my heart breaks. She is scared to death, and I can spot her desire to flee. I watch her think she can but I stop her cold

 

“Jackie, I’m not letting you go. First because something serious is going down and Second Hyde will actually kill me.”

 

I watch her slump and she finally puts her head into my lap. I start to rub her arm and stroke her hair like I have a million times before

“Come on Jackie, we have minutes. Tell me what is coming our way, let me help you. Because if Hyde is willing to tangle with Red this early in the morning, they are going to come down here as an immovable force.”

 

She says nothing for a minute and then she tells me the worst 

“It’s my dad. He hits me, that is where the bruise came from.”

 

I close my eyes and understand the determination, the thing I saw in Hyde's gaze it  was his protect Jackie at all costs stare. I know that nothing is going to stop Hyde from keeping her safe and for once I more than willing to go on this trip to hell with him. 

 

Hyde- Nothing Else Matters

God Damn Jackie could drive a saint to commit murder, I think as I stomp up the stairs. Has she lost her damn mind? I can’t believe she would even think for a minute I was going to lay there all night, get up in the morning and go on with my life. I stretch my back, for someone so tiny, Jackie is like a miniature tornado. When she hits, it hurts, almost like her life depends on it, I stop cold in my tracks. Maybe her life has depended on it? Maybe that is how she escapes getting the crap beat of her? New rage fills my mind and I stop caring about being quiet, stride up the stairs and pound on the Red and KItty’s door. There is no one on earth more than Red Forman that I trust to do the right thing. Normally I hate to ask for help but I know I need Red. Because no one messes with him, and I will kill Jack Burkhart before he ever touches my girl again.

 

The door flies open with a bang and Red looks none too pleased to see me 

“Someone better be dead or it’s your funeral we will be going to dumbass.”

 

Red Forman-Man of his Word

I know two things: 

  1. A pounding on my bedroom door at 3 o’clock in the morning is not good 
  2. It for sure involves one of the dumbasses

I stalk out of the bed before it wakes Kitty, the woman could sleep through the world ending, but this pounding on the door is making the whole room shake. 

 

I rip open the door preparing for some jackassery, Eric and the dumbass crew have gotten into but instead there stands Steven.

I go with instinct and deadpan 

 

“Someone better be dead or it’s your funeral we will be going to dumbass.”

 

I know something is terribly wrong, because out of all the idiots Steven is the least likely to ask for help or get me involved for something minor. I recognize much of myself in Steven, if I hadn’t gone into the Army I don’t know what would have happened to me. I was young, hot headed, and pissed off at the cards life had handed me. That is the real reason I brought Steven home, someone had to give the boy a chance. I know for sure Kitty, saved me from a life of bitterness after what I experienced as a kid and the horrors of Korea. Steven is a born survivor and people like Steven and I rarely ask for help.

 

I watch Steven steady himself, like he is going to drop a grenade into our lives and needs a second before he pulls the pin, but Steven has never been a coward, he gets right to it

 

“Red, I need you. I’ve got Jackie downstairs. Her dad beats the shit out of her, and if you don’t help me, my answer is to find him and beat him to death. Let’s see how well he does with someone who can fight back.”

 

I don’t know what I thought Steven was going to say but it wasn’t that. I quickly read the boy’s face. He’s serious and I know Steven cares deeply about Jackie, we all do. I would never admit it out loud, but Jackie is like a daughter to me.”

 

“Excuse me?” I mutter out, caught by surprise.

 

I watch Steven’s face get harder 

‘Listen, I don’t have time for this, she’s going to bolt if I don’t get you down there. I pretty much have Eric holding her in place. You and I both know that if Jackie wants to run, she can kick the crap out of Eric.”

 

I close my eyes, so Steven won’t identify my rage, because the last thing Steven needs is someone feeding his fuel to hurt someone. He needs someone to be calm and rational, and I know that is why he is at my door. He’s counting on me to do the right thing, despite that I have the same monster of rage living inside of me.

 

“Go downstairs, bring her up to the kitchen, let me put some clothes on.” 

 

I start to go in but I swing back and say to Steven’s retreating form

 

“No one will touch her again, Steven I promise. I am a man of my word.”

 

Hyde didn’t turn around but said into the black and silent hallway.

“I know, I’m counting on it.”

Chapter Text

Hyde- No Matter How Much It Hurts

 

I’ve had a million thoughts tonight, but the one that keeps floating back is that Jackie and I are exactly the same. The whole time we’ve known her, she has put on a persona to keep people away from what her real life is, keeping herself going, and never wanting people to know her life is hell. No one in my group understands that better than I do, and I bought into for years. I only saw the perky and annoying cheerleader. I who touts himself as the King of Judgement and being able to read people never looked below the surface. I am appalled at myself, what I did to Jackie is what I hate that people have always done to me…. that boy is trouble, parents are white trash so he must be as well and my personal favorite that I’m stupid because I’m a burn out. I saw a cheerleader and I stopped looking, and the thing is now that I am looking back there where big glaring signs. Signs that you could find in my own life…...

 

She never asks us to her house, not even Eric

She spends as much time as away from home as possible

She clings to the Formans’ who are good, and can be a safe place to land.

 

And how did I miss the excuses for the bruises, the long sleeves, and the jumpiness. I rub my face, I am sick with my idiocy.  I chose not to see the bright red flags, because I’ve always been uncomfortable with how Jackie makes me feel.  

 

“How long has this been going on?” I can’t help but think as I trudge down to the basement. I know without a doubt that Jackie is a master of deflection and hiding. I am going to need to remember that, because I am positive, she is going to come out swinging.

 

I walk down the stairs and observe what I didn’t want to witness earlier, Jackie with her head laying on Eric’s lap, and him stroking her hair. I want to rip her off of him, and tell him to stop touching my damn girlfriend, that it is not normal, and in what Universe would I ever do this with Donna? I don’t because everything else must take a backseat to the fact that Jackie is getting abused.

 

I watch her, approaching like I am walking towards a cornered animal, because Jackie is going to react the same way. I have to remember how she reacts is not about me, but is born from fear.

 

I amble around the couch to notice her not moving, I look at Eric

 

“She’s asleep. I finally got her calmed down, and she drifted off.” he says


“We have to wake her up, she needs to go upstairs and talk to Red.” I reply

 

Eric gets a stubborn look on his face and I know he is going to argue with me, and while I am more than willing to be patient with whatever comes out of Jackie’s mouth, that privilege is not currently extended to Eric.

 

“Listen Hyde, I think we should wait until she wakes up. What harm can it cause?”

 

I am done with this, he didn’t even question the damn bruise, he was too busy getting off on touching her damn skin. 

 

“Oh, you think that is what best? Waiting until Jack comes looking for her, not getting as much information to the people who can protect her as soon as possible? She’s fucking 16 Eric! I have technically kidnapped her. Her parents can just come get her, if we don’t do something. He’s going to notice his fucking daughter is gone! Don’t tell me what you think is best!” 

 

He only blinks at me, his face getting red with embarrassment, I know I am being harsher than I should with him, but I don’t have time for this crap. 

 

“Please stop yelling”, Jackie's voice raises to my ears.

 

I drop to my knees in front of her, I gaze into her huge, desperate eyes. She is pleading one more time with me. I can see it, and it is killing me. Despite the hard time I give Jackie, it is almost impossible for me to not give her what she wants.  She dosen’t even need to say it out loud

 

I reach out and stroke her hair and try to make her understand

 

“I can’t Jackie, not this time. I won’t leave you to live that life. I will not allow anyone to hurt you now that I know it is happening. You can’t ask that of me, because I’m going to do whatever I have to protect you, even if it makes you hate me.”

 

I watch a single one single tear slide down her face, and I want to kill Jack even more. I can feel my desire to hurt him almost overwhelm me. I close my eyes so Jackie won’t recognize it. She brings me back with a slight touch on my hand

 

“Please don’t be mad at me. I’m sorry.” she chokes out. 

 

I thought my heart was broken before but now, it's fucking shattered. I lean my head into her forehand

 

“Baby, I could never be mad at you for this. You haven’t done anything wrong.”

 

I can recognize the panic building, she just wants it to go away, and whether she means it or not her next statement is razor sharp and slices deep. I have to remind myself again that she is scared and I can’t take what she says personally

 

“You promised Steven, You promised you wouldn’t tell Red. You promised you wouldn’t cheat and you did. Why do you keep breaking promises to me?

 

Before, I can even respond, Eric finally stops being mute

 

“Jackie!” he says harsher than I have ever him sound “Enough! That wasn’t fair.”

 

I look at him in the eye, thanking him. He nods, for a minute the wall that got built today cracks open.

 

I stroke her cheek and tell her the only thing I can say and that is the truth. There are a lot of things you can say about me. Yes I can be a complete asshole, I can be careless and I know my temper is nasty but I do not lie, even when I know it would be easier to do  than tell the truth.

 

“Jackie, I know I did. I know I broke my promise about cheating, and we can talk about that later but you can’t possibly think I would keep secret about this. I have to Doll Face. Now come on, you need to come up stairs with me.”

 

She sits up and sighs heavily and starts walking upstairs with me. Leaving Eric still sitting on the couch, staring straight ahead.  She stops at the top, and I see her take a deep breath to steady herself. She looks back me and takes me hand and whispers so quietly that I almost can’t hear her

 

“Together?”

 

My eyes start to fill and I blink tears back and roughly say 

 

“Always Baby Doll, Always”

Chapter Text

Jackie- What Hurts the Most

 

Somewhere along the way I forgot that there is no fighting Steven. He is the most stubborn person I have ever met, and when he wants to protect someone, he is immovable. Even when he could barely stand to be in the same room as me, he was the first to defend me if Kelso went over the line. Being a friend of Steven Hyde’s is like walking around in a bubble in Point Place. You have an invisible force field around you that shouts,  “He will come for you.”  There is no standing against him when his need to protect is activated, and I need that stubbornness. I need it right now desperately, I need him to push me.

 

I can feel Hyde’s hand pressed tightly in my mine as I turn the knob into the kitchen, a place that has always been warm, inviting, and safe, but it is about to become a place that I will be stripped naked of my defenses. I tremble and stop, I can’t do it. Steven pulls me close for a minute, kisses my head and takes my place in front. He opens the door and guides us into the kitchen. I see Red, with a steaming cup of coffee with a Whiskey bottle standing next to it. 

 

“Jackie, sit down. Sounds like we have lots to talk about”, Mr. Forman says.

 

Steven drags me to the table and I start to sit in my own seat, but before I can he pulls me on his lap and wraps his strong arm around my waist. I don’t know if it is to keep me from bolting or to comfort me, I am guessing it is probably both. Mr. Forman slides a coffee mug at Steven and pours some whiskey in it and cracks,

 

“You tell Mrs. Forman, I made your coffee Irish, I will put my foot in your ass. Jackie, you need some of this?”

 

I shake my head, I just want to get this done and over with it, but how do you start telling people your life is a nightmare. How do you tell people who are so good that the people who gave you life are Monsters?

 

Steven tenses behind me and I think he senses my inability to know where to start, so he takes the lead

 

“Jacks, how long has this been going on?”

 

My eyes drop to the table, the utter shame of it fills me, and I sit mutely. You can’t undo a lifetime in silence in mere seconds. I notice Steven pressing my waist again, but this time Mr. Forman marches forward, he says it sternly but not harshly,

 

“Jackie, answer the question. I know this painful, but I’m going to need you to be the girl who works under the car with me. The girl, who is unstoppable, digs deep because I need to know and I need now.”

 

I take a deep breath and begin my tale of misery

 

“It has been happening on and off my whole life, he used to mainly hit my mom and ignore my presence. I can remember the first time I heard him hit her like it was just two hours ago”

 

She was six and hiding in her closet with her hands over her ears, she was tiny she could curl herself up into a ball and almost disappear in the dark closet. She would use this technique to hide for years to come, but tonight was the first time. She could hear her Mom and Dad screaming at each other, Her Dad calling her mom nasty names, her Mom saying,

 

 “Maybe if you ever came home, I wouldn’t need to find someone else to play with.”  

 

Then she had heard a slap and her mother sobbing and running up the stairs.”

 

Jackie came back to kitchen and said,

 

“He rarely hit me when I was young, because he had my mom to keep “in line” and I was such a Daddy’s girl, that I did anything to please him. I already knew that I needed to keep him happy, so I did everything to make sure he was never disappointed. 

 

When I hit Jr. High, and I started to like boys, he got a little more aggressive, but he still had his favorite target…. my mother. Then in the 8th grade, she left for the first time for a long period. She was gone for months, and nothing I could do made him happy, and he started to hit me regularly. My mom is home no more than a week at a time and it is always when my dad is gone, she times it perfectly.”

 

I sigh deeply in my heart, my mother leaving me to get hit, wounds me deeper than any punch I’ve ever received. It is a hurt that makes me want to curl up into a ball. My mom left me, she knows what is happening, and she does nothing to stop it. I’ve begged her to take me with her, and she always has an excuse. She will look at me and toss her hair and laugh that tinkling empty laugh and say

 

 It’s an adult trip

You have school

Your father simply can’t live without you

 

It is hard for me to think of the day I finally realized my mother didn't  give a damn. Who wants to come to the cold reality that your mother is fine with leaving you to be abused. She doesn’t want to get hit herself but she isn’t willing to do anything to interrupt her life style. Thinking of that night, makes me sick….

 

Mom, you have to take me with you. I’m scared of Daddy! He hits me just like he did you. Please don’t leave me again.”

 

“Jacqueline, I’m sure you are simply overreacting, I’m an adult, it’s my privilege to go on these trips.”

 

“HOW CAN YOU LEAVE ME? WHAT KIND OF MOTHER LEAVES HER CHILD WITH SOMEONE WHO HITS HER?”

 

She will remember for the rest of her life the expression on her mother's face, it was one of pure selfishness

 

‘Darling, if I take you with, he will come looking for me, and I am just not willing to do that. You are just going to have to figure it out like I did.”

 

Red pulls me back with another question “What happened that caused Steven to get involved?”

 

I burrow my face in Steven’s shoulder  “I can’t Steven. Please….”

 

Before Steven can even answer, Mr. Forman says, 

 

“Jackie, it’s enough. Tell me what the hell happened?”

 

I take a deep breath and know that I might be destroying Steven and I forever, even more than the nurse,

 

“I had been on a date with Steven, I forgot I was supposed to go with Daddy, to one of his social functions. I got confused about the date, I thought it was next week. When I came home, he was already there waiting for me. He pounced as soon as I walked in the door, screaming at me about, 

Embarrassing him and was I stupid?

Why couldn’t I even remember something as uncomplicated as the day of the week?

 

 He seemed to be calming down, but then he asked me where I was? I told him I was with Steven, and he threw me up against the wall. He started calling me a “slut like my mother.” That at least my mother had the good taste to whore around with people with money, I was being a whore to white trash. I saw his fist coming, and I turned my body, and he hit my shoulder. Then I ran upstairs and locked myself in my room.”

 

I feel Steven lay his head on my back,

 

 “Jackie, God I’m sorry. I’m so sorry” and that is when I watched Mr. Forman lose it for the first time in my life.

 

“STEVEN HYDE!” Mr. Forman shouted “You will not be sorry for a man who is a fucker. You are no more to blame than Jackie. I will not tolerate either of you thinking otherwise.”

 

I am stunned, I’ve heard Mr. Forman yell and I’ve heard him call us dumbasses, but this was something else. This was an unspeakable rage, and the fact is I knew, without a doubt he wouldn't hurt me. I didn’t even flinch. Because Mr. Forman is a good man, and I wish he was my dad.

 

Mr. Forman looks at me and says,  “Jackie, I want you to go lay down for a while and try to get some rest. I am going to call the police and let them know what is going on, so your father can’t report you as missing. You are going to have to this conversation again, and they will ask you tough questions. I think it is best if you try to get some sleep.”

 

I can only nod, I start to get up and feel wobbly. I am so tired. Before I can take another step, Steven picks me up in his arms and whispers,

 

“Let me take care of you this one last time… Please” 

 

I bury myself into his neck and reply softly 

 

“Okay”

 

He carries me upstairs, opens the door to Laurie’s room, and places me gently on the bed.

 

“Come on Jacks, get under the covers and close those eyes.”

 

I scoot back and slide under the comforter, I stare at him,

 

 “Lay with me. I need someone to hold me.”

 

I am pleaded with my eyes to understand that I mean him, that I need him. I want him to know that without asking, it’s him. There is more to me asking than what is going on with my dad. I silently pray he gets subtext.

 

His eyes are transfixed with mine, I see so many things swirling and true to form, he says nothing, but climbs into bed with me. He pulls me close and buries his head into my hair and whispers so softly that I almost didn’t hear him,

 

“I’m so sorry Jackie. For it all. I’m just so God Damn Sorry.”




Hyde- I need you to need me

 

“I’m so sorry Jackie. For it all. I’m just so God Damn Sorry.”

 

I feel her tense, and hear her start to talk but I cut her off quickly,

“No, Jackie. I need you to just listen. When we get through the rest of this shit, you can tell me whatever you want. I am asking you to promise to truly listen. Can you do that?”

 

Her voice carries in the dark room “Yes, I promise”

 

I close my eyes again, and bury my face deeper into her soft hair, even though there is no one else in the room, I just want her to hear it, no mistaking what I am saying,

 

“Baby, I can’t make up for it. Any of it. I never can. If I could go back in time and see everything again, I would. I would realize you are better than Eric, Kelso and so much better than me. I would have remembered you’ve never been the type of person to hurt someone you love. If I could go back, I would do anything to ask you about the bruises, to stop being an asshole and understand you do the same things I do to protect myself. Jackie, I’m sorry for all of it, and I know that is meaningless but I am…. I am so God Damn Sorry. I get blinded by the thing I want most,I want you to need me. I want to be the place you run… and seeing you with Eric kills me. I’m wrong Jackie, I am. I know it but baby…. It is hard for me to share you. I’m sorry for not knowing you enough to comprehend your heart. I’m sorry for not knowing you enough to save you.”

 

It is against my nature to share how I feel, but I feel like I at least owe her this, even if it makes me feel like my skin has been stripped bare. I feel her tense, I feel her take a breath and I squeeze her tight for a minute, and keep going

 

“No, Jackie, not tonight. I just need you to know how sorry I am, even if it fixes nothing. Close your eyes now.  I’ll help you fall asleep.”

 

I hear her give a heavy and frustrated sigh, but she says nothing. She does snuggle back closer and grab the arm that is around her and brings it closer to her chest. She takes my hand, and I feel her lay it flat against her skin. I can feel her heart beating, and then she says quietly

 

“It beats just for you”

 

My eyes immediately sting with tears, I’ve done nothing to deserve her. If I was a good guy, I would let her go and encourage her and Eric to be together.  Eric is a better man than I will ever be, but there is no way I can let her go.  I know she’s not currently mine anymore but I’m going to fight like hell to get her back and I will die before one more finger is laid on her.

 

I softly start singing Tiny Dancer to her while playing with her hair, she rolls over, lays hers head on my chest, so I can rub her back. I know that is what she wants, and I also know she wants to play with my hair, she says it puts her to sleep. I let her play, and continue to murmur the words to our song to her. I feel her body soften into mine, her hand falls away from my hair, and it rests on my neck. I feel a huge wave of exhaustion fall over me, and I tell myself I will only close my eyes for a few minutes, but before I know it I am with Jackie, gone from this world.

 

I don’t know if it was seconds, minutes, or hours but I bolt straight up when I hear the scariest voice I’ve ever heard in my life,

 

“You cross that doorstep, and it will be the last thing you ever do.”

 

I know that is Red Forman and I have a pretty good guess who he is talking to.

Chapter Text

 

Red- Tomorrow Always Comes

 

I watch morning approach, the sun starting to burn the dark away. I’ve done this many times in my life, watch the dark and light go to war for dominance. I find comfort in the certainty, no matter how stupid we are as humans nothing stops the next day from coming. The only thing that stops the sun from bring the future is death, but even that doesn't  keep it from coming for others. I know all about death, I’ve watched it, fought it, and caused it. It does something to you, taking a life, even when it is to protect yourself, your buddy or your way of life. It marks you, ever life you take strips a bit of your soul. I would never say it out loud, but humans are not meant to kill each other, it damages us. I know it damaged me, not that I was ever  innocent or carefree, but what idealism I had was lost in Korea. That is why I can sit here with stillness and patience waiting for the enemy to come to me. I know that he will come. He will demand, command and try to push his way into my house, but Jack Burkhart is no match for someone who has seen the worst that humanity can offer.I know what is coming, this a man who will throw his influence in my face, yelling

 

 “ Don’t I know who he is? Don’t I know he can own my house? My Job? if I don’t give him what he wants” 

 

Men like Jack don’t understand that men like me don’t give a fuck. He can take nothing from me because I’m not scared to die to protect what I love. There is nothing like war to help you evaluate what is important and a tiny brunette upstairs, crying herself to sleep, is important to three men in this house. He can't take what I view as precious.  The dumb asses believe I don’t know what is going on in my own home. Their youthful obliviousness allows them to live in assured confidence that their actions pass unnoticed. They really are a bunch of idiots sometimes, because  I know that…

 

Eric loves Donna but is in love with Jackie

 

Jackie loves Eric but is in love with Steven

 

Steven is over the cliff, madly in love with Jackie, and it drives him to rash decisions

 

I also know that Steven is more like me than my own son. He has battled abuse, struggled to survive on his own, and he understands too young the world just doesn't give a damn. I watched his eyes tonight, he is the one I am worried about the most, I’ve got to keep him on the leash. He will strike out to hurt who has ever hurt Jackie, even if it means hurting himself. I know about the nurse, I know why Steven did it, and I know he sliced he Jackie in half. When this is settled, him and I are going to talk about it.  I love the Loud One, and I am less than pleased he has fucked up. 

 

I sit here watching the clock, letting my fury for a man abusing his child and wife keep my blood blistering, nerves sharp, and my body wide awake. I called the Point Place PD to be here at 8:00 AM, but I know he will come earlier, he won’t be able to  help himself. He won’t go and report her missing right away, he won’t want to be embarrassed. This is a battle, in an obscene war, and I consider myself an expert in warfare. What does a man like Jack know about battle when it counts? I am not disappointed when there is a pounding on my front door.

 

I feel my lip snarl, that familiar black rage curl up into my brain, and the desire to fight come to life in my fists. Steven would laugh, but he has nothing on me when it comes to what he calls “Zen”  life has taught me how to be unreadable, which is what you want when you face your opponent.

 

I open my door casually and with my trademark rudeness I bark out,

 

 “What do you want? It is awfully early for a visit. I thought you rich people had better manners.”

 

This is why I understand Steven so well, I was Steven. I know what is to goad your enemy, to push them for sport, to watch their hate flame to life while you just grin.

 

Jack Burkart studied the man in front of him. He hated Red Forman. He hated everything about him. He hated that everyone in town knew him, respected him, and was cautiously fearful of the man. He didn’t have money, he didn’t have status, he was virtually a nobody, but Red Forman’s shadow was one that commanded respect.  Jack hated that Red didn’t have to bully, bribe, or threaten to get his way. He stared at the man in front of him who shouldn’t strike fear in anyone, least of all him, but there was no denying his mere presence struck a cord of discomfort.

 

“I want my daughter. That rabble you keep in your basement, must have her. I want Jackie up here and I want her now.” he snarled with impatience.

 

If this wasn’t so serious, I would have fun with this bastard but I have a tiny loud mouth upstairs to protect, so I waste no time

 

“No.”

 

This one word was not something Jack Burkart was used to hearing, a matter of fact that simple two letter word, enraged him more than anything. He didn’t like to be denied, and a harsh "no" from this man infuriated him,

 

“What do you mean no? Go get her now. I didn’t give her permission to whore around all night with a piece of trash. She’s my daughter, she belongs to me, and I want her now.”

 

I know what he is going to do, he thinks he is going to push into my home, well this jack ass thinks wrong, he is the one who has no idea who he is fucking with,

 

“You cross that doorstep, and it will be the last thing you ever do.”

 

I watch his face pale. I can’t help but get a sick satisfaction from it. This man hits women, and he needs to be reminded what it is like to pick on someone who can fight back.

 

Good sense in moments of temper is not Jack’s strong point, and for a minute he forgets he isn’t dealing with a 16-year old girl or the willowy woman he calls his wife,

 

“Who do you think you are?” he growls out as he tries to push by me, it’s all I need to let the monster out I push him heavily out into the yard, 

 

“Who do I think you are? I think you are the mother fucker who hits his wife and child.”

 

 I push again harder this time, he stumbles and I’m on him in an instant. I grab him by the neck and slam him up against his car, I continue telling him who I think he is,

 

 “I KNOW you are someone who picks on people who can’t fight you back. You wanna fight Jack, fight me, because the fucking world is going to end before you touch your daughter again.”

 

I lift my fist, to start pounding the shit out of this bastard when I hear,

 

“Holy Shit! Red!” 

 

Jack, nearly choking on fury, embarrassment, and fear of this man who has nailed up against the car, looks over his shoulder to see the boy who his worthless daughter can’t seem to get enough of and gasps out, 

 

“Oh look it's the piece of trash my daughter is spreading her legs for.” 

 

I hear Steven growl behind me, and I know this is about to get seven different shades of ugly.

Chapter Text

Everyone

“Somewhere along the way everything got fucking out of control”

 

Hyde

I tried hard to stay out of it. I did. I swear, I did. Red warned me that losing my cool would help no one, least of all Jackie, but when I heard Red’s voice harsh and unyielding say

 

“You cross that doorstep, and it will be the last thing you ever do.”

 

I figured I should go to the top of the stairs to keep an eye on things. What if Red needed back up? This was a mistake, I am apparently incapable of keeping my Zen when Jackie is involved. I know this, she has been causing me to lose my mind for years, I don’t know why I thought this time would be different. Things were heating up between Jack and Red it was bad ass listening to Red slice the bastard to ribbons. I tensed when Mr. Burkart attempted to move around Red, I was instantly ready to fight because if that bastard thought he was getting near Jackie, then he had another thing coming to him. I shouldn’t have doubted Red, because he shoved him heavily into the yard. I pounded down the stairs, so I could continue to watch, this was another gigantic error. Listening to that son of a bitch call me trash, barely made a dent. I can handle his predictable diatribe of 

 

Rabble (who, the fuck says that, pretentious bastard)

 

Trash, nothing I haven’t heard before even though it pisses me off. 

 

I sense my control to start to break when he calls Jackie a whore. Even stupid pissed off about the Eric/Nurse situation, I would never dream of calling her such a terrible name. 

 

Then that Mother Fucker notices me hovering in the doorway and says something about Jackie that causes the worst part of me to come flying to life. I hear him snarl

 

“Oh look it's the piece of trash my daughter is spreading her legs for.” 

 

I was out the door in a second, somewhere in the back of my mind a microscopic voice whispered, “Red is going to kick your ass” 

 

I don’t listen to that voice, and that explosive rage Eric and I got in a fight about earlier takes me over.

 

“What the Fuck did you just say about Jackie?”

 

I charge at Jackie’s father. That bastard is going to understand how much it hurts to get beat. 




Eric

I am beyond exhausted. I’ve been sitting down here in the basement trying to understand my place in this drama. I’ve been frozen since Hyde took Jackie upstairs. The part of me that is her best friend wants to be up there with her, comforting her, but there is a part of me, a part I am ashamed of that simply can’t cope with it. What can I possibly say to her? 

 

“I’m sorry my whole life has been untroubled, so I never noticed anything was up with you?”

 

or 

 

“I’m not comfortable having that nightmare in my head even though you actually live it?”

 

My friends have teased me about being weak and bolting at the first sign of trouble, but it was always in jest, but sadly they are correct. Here I sit immobilized by the terrible reality of Jackie’s life. A deep shame pierces me that I am jealous of Hyde being able to step in and know exactly what to do. We both hoard our roles with Jackie, if I can’t love her out loud, then at least I have the best friend card. Now he has taken the only thing I have with her, by stepping in and being her shoulder. The worst part is, I'm more focused on him taking my place in a crisis than her getting abused. If there is a Best Friend Hell, I am going there for sucking so much.

 

I hear my dad yelling at Jack Burkhart, I guess showtime has arrived. This whole night, I have had no assigned role in this drama but something tells me to get up and figure it out. I am confident it is my deep knowledge and years of experience of watching Hyde lose his shit, that tells me he won’t hold it together.

 

I trudge out the side basement door ready to head up the stairs. I hear my dad and Mr. Burkhart exchanging heated words. Words that are vile and obscene, words about Jackie that make my stomach sick. 

 

What type of dad calls his daughter a whore? I quicken my pace, I can mentally visualize my oldest friend’s face before he explodes, and then I hear

 

“Oh look it's the piece of trash my daughter is spreading her legs for.” 

 

I start to run



Jackie

 I am mostly still sleeping, but my body knows something is missing. Whatever it is has caused me to begin to wake. My eyes blink against the morning light that is dancing through the curtains. A soft breeze is coming in from the window, and lightly tickling my face which causes me to absently think to myself “It is going to be a beautiful day” 

I roll over to find what has caused me to leave the escape that is dreaming, Steven is gone. I close my eyes again, and think of him holding me. His eyes dark and full of regret, him asking me

 

“Let me take care of you one last time.”



I start to cry, I don’t want it to be the last time. I want him to take care of me forever. I want to care of his stubborn, jump to conclusions, loses his shit ass forever. Why did he have to screw it up? Damn him to hell……

 

Damn him for not trusting me

 

Damn him for not knowing my heart

 

Damn him for screwing that nurse

 

Damn him for making me want forget what he did

 

Damn him for being the only man I’ve ever wanted and loved

 

I squeeze my eyes shut, and try to clear my head. I have bigger problems right now than Steven being stupid with jealousy. I need to concentrate on the fact that my father is going to come for me. I need to focus on the possibility of being homeless after today. I am desperate to fall back into sleep, where my world was lighter. This is impossible due to voices starting to rise. I would know the harsh imperious voice anywhere, it is my father, who is furious. He is loud enough, that his words carry up through the open window. I can hear Mr. Forman’s voice getting sharp with a dagger of a statement

 

“You cross that doorstep, and it will be the last thing you ever do.”

 

I experience a moment of warmth knowing he wants to protect him. The voices become clearer, I realize they are in the yard. I hear things that make me want to crawl in a hole and die, but part of me wants to roll my eyes, my father is so predictable.



“I want my daughter. That rabble you keep in your basement, must have her. I want Jackie up here and I want her now.”

 

 Of course, he is going to start with insulting Steven, he must make sure everyone knows the Burkharts are the best.

 

I know what is coming next, I’ve heard him yell it at my mother my whole life, I am confident he is going to call me a whore.

 

“What do you mean no? Go get her now. I didn’t give her permission to whore around all night with a piece of trash. She’s my daughter, she belongs to me, and I want her now.”

 

I bitterly chuckle in my head “Right on time Dad, I’m a whore and Steven’s trash.”

 

What I didn’t expect was “Oh look it's the piece of trash my daughter is spreading her legs for.”

 

I knew as soon as it floated to my ears what was coming next

 

“What the Fuck did you just say about Jackie?”

 

As I jump out of bed to rush down the stairs, I hear Eric and Red scream simultaneously

 

“Hyde don’t”









Chapter Text

Donna

Somewhere along the way, I think I missed something because I wasn’t excepting to be woken up at 6:30 AM by swearing, screaming, and the sounds of a complete brawl from the Forman’s house. 

I thought I was dreaming when I first heard the yell. I sat straight up in bed to the unmistakable screech of Jackie. It is a sound that could be heard in space, though admittedly I never expected that screech to be followed by

 

“STEVEN NO! MR. FORMAN STOP! ERIC WATCH OUT!”

 

Hearing “Eric Watch Out” causes me to jump up out of bed and in my confusion I do a lap around my room. I have a weird thought as I shoot down the hallway of my house. I don’t know why, but I think to myself “Jackie is going to have a cow if she seems me in these ratty PJs”

 

I’m out the door, rounding the corner, just in time to watch Mrs. Forman turn the hose on a bundle of men beating the crap out of each other, with a horrified Jackie looking on.

 

Yeah,…. I’m certain I missed something

 

Eric

 

My heart is pounding as I run to my front yard, excepting the absolute worst case scenario. I stutter to a stop to discover Hyde running at Mr. Burkhart like a mad man. I know this Hyde, this version of Hyde has lost his mind and is a match for no one. I can see my dad’s face go white, and for a minute my father and I are on the same page, and we both yell

 

“Hyde Don’t”

 

I don’t know what made me think that was going to work, but it was all I had at the moment. Some part of me was remembering that I’ve witnessed Jackie yell at Hyde to “stop” a couple of times when guys were trying to mess with her, and it was like her voice could break through the spell. I’m fairly sure that I don’t have the same power, neither does my dad because Hyde is like a train off its track. I watch my dad put himself between Hyde and Mr. Burkart. I know what he is trying to do, the goal is putting the asshole in jail for hurting Jackie, not for Hyde to go to prison for beating him to death. 

 

I’m rushing forward to help my dad get Hyde under control, when Burkhart shoves my dad forcefully from behind which causes him to fall forward into Hyde. He steps around them, and is moving towards the front door, where Jackie is standing frozen. I know instantly what he is going to try to do, he is going to grab Jackie. For the first time in my life, I take instant action. I’ve let Jackie down in so many ways, but I’m not going to this time. I run like a bat out of hell, and tackle Mr. Burkhart from behind. I had the assumption that because he hits women, he wasn’t that tough. I’m 100% percent wrong, he punches me violently in the face. I hear my dad yell 

 

“Did you just hit my son?” followed by “You are going down you Mother Fucker!” from Hyde.

 

Our front yard has become an episode of WWF wrestling, all three of us a clump of fists and elbows. I lost complete track of what was going on, the primal need to positively hurt someone has overtaken me. That was until all of a sudden a powerful stream of sharp, icy water hits my face.

 

I fall off the pack of dueling flesh to see my mother hosing us down, a crying Jackie wrapped in the arms of Donna who looks shocked.

 

For a minute I am disorientated, that is until I see Jackie falling back hard on the ground. My last rational thought before jumping back into the fight is

 

“I hope my mom has the hose ready.”

 

Kitty

I wake to absolute chaos, my front yard is an explosion of swearing. I look out my bedroom window to see my husband, my son, the boy I call my son….. and….. is that Jackie’s Dad? rolling around like children, having a schoolyard fight. I grab my robe, scramble down the stairs, fly outside to find Jackie standing there in complete shock. I sigh, and think to myself “I don’t know what the heck is going on, but acting like children in the sandbox isn’t the answer.”

 

First, I try to yell at my husband “Reginald John Forman, you stop it right now.” The man doesn’t even pop his head up. I roll my eyes, I’m not the least bit surprised. I met the man after he punched someone out for me. You would never know it anymore, but the man loves a fight.

 

I have faith that Eric will have common sense and listen to his mother, “Eric Forman, stop it. You come here” nope, not even a blink in my direction. I’ve never witnessed Eric like this, he is a mirror image at this moment of his father. 

 

I know it’s a long shot but Steven has always been a good boy, and has a soft spot for me. 

“Steven! You stop it” I am briefly pleased when I see his head pop up for a second. Then his eyes shoot quickly to Jackie, and he is back in the game.

 

I do the only thing you can when you have a group of idiots  fighting on your lawn. I turn on the hose, and spray them down.

 

It is hysterical, they fly apart from the shock. All of them wet, sputtering, and completely disorientated to what is going on. I want to laugh, because leave it to a woman to take care of a problem. 

 

I am just about to ask what the heck is going on, when I notice Jackie moving towards Steven almost like she is in a trance. The person she loves his hurt, and she can’t help herself from going  to  him. Steven is bleeding profusely from a cut by his eye, I can tell it's mostly bluster, but to the untrained eye it looks like he is dying.

 

She kneels down beside him, completely ignoring that her father has been beaten to a bloody pulp. I watch her start to reach for Steven when her father grabs her hard and pulls her away. Steven’s face goes black, and he dives at Jack Burkhart. 

 

Jackie falls back heavily on her wrist, and a soft cry escapes her lips. I hear Donna next to me say “Oh Shit” 

 

I want to tell her not to use that language but as I watch my husband and son jump back into the fight only to be followed up by the piercing sounds of a police car flying up in front of our house, I guess her language is perfectly appropriate. 

 

I close my eyes as the cops start to break them up and I  mutter “Oh Shit” right along with Donna.



Chapter Text

Hyde

Somewhere along the way in my life, I always thought I would end up in jail. I never had much hope I wouldn’t fuck up and spend my life in a cage. I never in a million years thought I would be sitting behind bars with Red and Eric Forman. Better yet, next door in the other cell is Jackie’s bastard father, having a fit no one cares who the hell he is. If this wasn’t so fucked up, I would be laughing my ass off, because waiting with Red Forman to get bailed out is a trip. Both Eric and I keep making eye contact, but not saying a damn word, because I wasn’t the least bit scared of the dillhole next door to us, Red is a different story. Crashing waves of pissed are slamming over his face, each pushing him closer to him, losing his shit on us. 

 

I am both sorry and unapologetic simultaneously for the confrontation descending into madness. I’m sorry that I landed us here by going after that dick that Jackie calls Daddy, but I’m not sorry he got to experience what it is like to have someone stronger and meaner kick the living shit out of him. 

 

I watch Red get up and start to pace. I know it is a cliche, but he looks like a tiger at the zoo. I’ve always found the big cats at zoos fascinating, particularly tigers. They are beautiful but the perfect predator, just waiting to put to use the skills that nature gave them. That is what Red looks like at this particular moment, and Eric and I are in the same cage. It is both terrifying and inspiring at the same time. I’m waiting to get my ass chewed,I’m waiting for him to tell me I fucked up royally and all I have done is make things worse for Jackie.

 

Jackie

 

Simply thinking her name makes me close my eyes and let my head fall back to rest on the gray concrete wall. Her name inspires a million things inside of me,

 

How fiercely I love her

 

How loving her has caused me to lose my everlasting mind

 

That I’m the biggest idiot in the country for cheating on her

 

That I’m not sorry I punched the hell out of her dad

 

Her face when she kneeled down next to me, her love for me just burning out of her

 

The sheer panic that crossed her face when her dad grabbed her

 

That recollection brings the black back up and before I know it I jump up and start yelling

 

“I’m not sorry I hit him. I’m not sorry he got the beat down of his life. I don’t have one fucking part of me that wouldn’t do it again. I know I shouldn't have done it. I know I should have left it to the cops, but just once I wanted him to be held accountable by him getting what he deserves, not what the fucked up justice system that can be bought dishes out. I am sorry that you two are in here with me, and that you are in trouble because I couldn’t keep it together, but I wouldn’t take back one punch, so if you want to kick my ass Red, then do it but I’ll never be sorry.”

Red comes to a dead stop, both him and Eric stare at me like they recently realized they were in a jail cell with a crazy person. Red’s eyes are mixed with understanding and anger 

 

“Sit down and shut up you, dumb ass, I will deal with you and your idiot sidekick, I call my son later. I have to think about what we are going to do next, now that assault charges are likely coming our way.”

Anyone who knows me  would have laughed if they had witnessed me, drop back down on the bench like a 5-year old told by his teacher to take a seat. Red is the only person on earth that strikes fear in my heart other than a 95 pound pixie who has no idea how scared of her I am.

 

 I’m so damn tired of fucking up, I wonder if there ever will be a time, I will think before I lose it. There are times I have my temper and feelings leashed, but when it comes to her, I feel out of control. I hate that, I hate she has power over my emotions. The last time someone had that type of power over me, they abused me. It is my instinct to push back against anything that will hurt me, and my greatest fear is I will let Jackie in, and she will crush me. I don’t know that she hasn't already. I don’t know that I can live without her.

 

My private musings are interrupted by Forman, who stuns me speechless as he begins to mutter quietly to me so Red doesn’t hear him

“I'm never going to have you in a place that you can't walk away again, so I'm using this jail cell to tell you something that needs to be said.  She loves you Hyde, she has since we were in junior high school. When a girl is your best friend, you hear about every crush, heartbreak, and about the cute boy in gym class. I’ve been Jackie’s secret keeper for years. She never told me a word about the abuse but the desires of her heart, I’ve heard them all. You are all she has ever wanted, Kelso, he was a placeholder for you. You were never Kelso’s replacement, he was yours. She cried for two weeks after Prom, she desperately wanted you to ask her out, but she knew you didn’t like her. Every tear about him cheating on her was sincere, but what hurt Jackie most was your complete disdain for her. Do you know how many times she has asked me 

 

“Why doesn’t he like me?”

 

I was pissed you guys hooked up because I was confident at some point you would crush her heart. You two are like opposing forces in the area of emotions, Jackie is desperate for someone to love her best, and you don’t trust anyone even when you have people who love you without reservation. I know there is a lot more to say between us, between you and her, but I want you to think about one thing, when we were all laying there wet and bleeding she didn’t run to me. She came straight to you without hesitation. You need to hear it Hyde, although I don’t think you deserve it, she is always going to pick you. She’s been picking you for years, you just never bothered to notice.”

 

I watch Eric get up and walk across the room and plop down on the bench. He allows his head to sink into his hands. I regret I am at odds with a friend I call a brother. However, he is right, we still have things to work out, things I’ve done, things he has done, and how both wreaked havoc on Jackie. Despite that, I can’t but smile a little at his last comment

 

“She’s been picking you for years.”

 

My smile slips when a cop comes and takes Jack out of his cell, the prick yelling the whole time 

 

“It is about time I was released from this dump, I want my lawyer! I will be pressing charges. I was attacked just trying to pick up my daughter, who I might add was kidnapped by the scummy one. I will expect that to be addressed as well. A man should be able to come looking for his daughter and not be brutally assaulted.”

 

I’m up off in the bench, heading to the bars to remind that son of a bitch exactly why I beat the hell out of him. Red is in front of me in the matter of seconds and slams me back down on the bench.

 

“You move Steven, you won’t have to worry about what the cops will do to you, because I’m going to put my foot so far up your ass, they won’t have anything left to question.”

 

Before I can answer or Red can continue to threaten me, the world takes a spin in the opposite direction

 

“Mr. Burkhart, you aren’t being released, charges have been filed against you for abuse and assault. We need to question you, your lawyer will be here soon.” The nameless officer says with a voice of weariness.

 

I can see Jackie’s dad getting ready to explode. I silently pray he will lose it, and pop the cop in the face, but I get something even better. 

 

“You are going to believe these assholes who attacked me and kidnapped my daughter over me? A City Councilman?”

 

I watch through the bars an expression of pleasure cross the face of the cop, a look of he knows he is about to drop a bomb

 

“Perhaps not them, but they didn’t ask for charges to be brought against you, your daughter did.”

 

I quietly sigh “That’s my girl”

 

Jackie

 

I find myself to be a weird contradiction. Most people would tell you that I am a whirlwind when I am pissed or that I can be ruthless. Both of those terms would be a fair assessment, I can be lethal when hurt or angry. I’ve stood up to bullies, I’ve kicked every one of those jack asses in the basement until they yelped in pain, and I’ve eviscerated backstabbing bitches who I call my fellow cheerleaders. Every one of these factors is who I am down to my core, so I ask myself frequently why I let myself be abused? Why didn’t I do something to escape? Where was the girl who took shit from no one?

 

I don’t have the answer, except that when it is your parent it is a deep manipulation of your mind. Your parents are supposed to love you best, they are supposed to protect you, take care of you and be there for you. Merely the neglect of being left unnoticed and being left with nannies or maids messed me up. Easy by the time I was 10, I thought I was doing something wrong, and that is why my parents were never around. I have perfect grades, I’m the most popular girl in school, and I never look anything but my best. All that, was for no other reason than I wanted my parents to love me enough to stay home. 

 

Abuse isn’t just physical and I’ve learned along the way it does not start with the punch. It begins with breaking down your spirit, and causes you to question if you deserve it. For me, it was sheer embarrassment and humiliation. Because I’ve never been able to let go of the little girl who wanted her parents home for Christmas. I didn’t want to admit my parents not only didn’t love me enough to be around, but both my parents abused me. My father with his fists, and my mother’s utter neglect. 

 

However, as I sit in the waiting room of the Point Police Department, what my parents, Kelso, Donna, Eric, and even Steven forget, is that I should not be under estimated. I knew if one day I had to fight my parents on this subject, I would need something that would shut my father down before he got his chance to spin his bullshit story. I have always known when it all finally came out, I would have to act  before he used the Burkart charm. I use it all the time, it makes people give me what I want. It keeps them at arm's length because truth is intimate and my truth hurts. 

 

So I sit here with three leather bound books, that I am confident will save me, but more importantly it will save the people who are truly my family. I won’t let him hurt them, he is about to find out how much I am his daughter in every fucking way.

Jack Burkhart

 

Somewhere along the way my daughter decided middle class trash was more important than her family. I always thought Jackie had a chance to be more than her slut mother, she has always been so mindful of being proper and making sure she represented herself in a manner befitting the Burkhart name. I can’t believe I am sitting in an interrogation room, my hand cuffed being asked questions about hitting my child. I don’t understand how it is any of their damn business how I manage my family. I am concerned about one thing, the police appeared to have precise questions about hitting Jackie and her fucking mother. They can give details on events that happened years ago, there is no way Jackie could remember some of those things clearly with so much depth. If that worthless child is helping them, the repercussions will be painful for embarrassing me like this. If she thinks I won’t destroy that piece of trash boyfriend of hers for beating me up, then she is as stupid as her mother. She will pay for pressing charges against me. Who the hell does that child think she is? 

 

The door opens, I’m ready for another round with these local idiots who think because they have a badge they can do something to me. Surprise catches me when my daughter walks in. I can’t help but briefly admire how beautiful she is, and how much potential she wastes. It infuriates me, that she doesn't properly appreciate what has been given to her.

 

“Jacqueline I don’t who you think you are, but you will pay for this embarrassment. You will go back in there and tell them you lied, or you will suffer serious consequences.” 

 

I watch her face go hard, and her tone is one I recognize, it’s "my don’t fuck with me" voice

 

“I know exactly who I am, I am Jack Burkhart’s daughter, which means you always plan ahead. Isn’t that what you taught me when I was little? Always have a way out of a bad deal, while I have my out.”

 

I smirk “You think you telling them I hit you will save you from going home with me. All, I have to say to them is you are a spoiled brat having a fit. Who do you think they will believe?”

 

Her face becomes triumphant, I can see myself in her at this moment, and it causes me to get nervous

 

“Oh Daddy, do you think I am that stupid? I have years of journals in vivid detail of what you did to mom and I. Everyone single one dated, even down to the time, besides Daddy I have this.”

 

She raises a leather bound book, I know what it is immediately and if it wasn’t something that would destroy me, I would be proud of how ruthless my daughter is.

 

“I know what this is, Daddy, It is a record of every dollar you ever stole and where you filtered it to clean the money up. I won’t save you from abusing me, you are going down for that but if you want to stay out of Federal prison for money laundering you will shut your mouth and not press even a whisper of a charge against Steven and the Formans.”

 

She is my daughter down to her tippy toes, she knows she won, and she is going in for the kill, and she is doing it with not only glee but leverage to save what matters most to her. 

 

“I can’t believe you would do this to me, your own father.”

 

Her eyes spark “I can’t believe you think abusing your daughter is okay, if you didn’t want me to be like this, then you should have raised me different. Because, I am Jack Burkhart’s daughter and if you don’t think I won’t destroy you, then you under estimate how much what you have done to me, shaped who I am.” 

 

I watch her turn and walk out. I know I am screwed because she won't hesitate to win and you know how I know, because I wouldn't and after all she is my daughter.

Chapter Text

Eric

 

Well, I can say in all honesty that I’m not shocked to be in a jail cell with Hyde. Been there, done that, always figured, there would be a repeat at some point, but in no world did I ever think I would be sitting here with my dad and Hyde. I can’t keep my eyes off Hyde and my dad, they are having their own little jail house melodrama. Hyde is sitting on one of the benches with his arms crossed with my father standing directly in front of him. My dad hasn’t moved since he slammed Hyde back down when he tried to go through the bars at Mr. Burkhart. Every time Hyde tries to get up, my dad pushes him down and says,

 

 “You keep your ass on the bench, or I’m ending you.”

 

If I had known all I needed was my dad to keep Hyde in line when he was off the leash, I would have called him in years ago. I’ve never seen anyone put Hyde in his place so effortless. Leave it to Red to be the guy who can do it. 

 

I’m not unsympathetic to Hyde’s cause at the moment. It’s been strained since the cop said Jackie was pressing charges. Every tick of the clock, without the return of Burkhart to his cell, sharpens the tension. The worst, is the unspoken worry that might as well be screaming in the bitter silence. Everyone of us is thinking about Jackie, I can see it vibrating off of Hyde, Red keeps glancing out of the corner of his eye at the door;  and I am twisted up. She’s my best friend and the secret love of my fucking life, I’m entitled to give a damn about where she is. I stare at Hyde, a wealth of bitterness clouds my heart. I don’t understand why he imagines he is the only who gets to care and worry about her. 

 

I’ve never met someone as possessive as Hyde. If he claims you in some fashion, then his claim on you trumps anything else. The minute Hyde and Jackie crossed the line, in his mind their relationship stood above anyone else’s with her. I know he doesn't do it on purpose, I KNOW it is years of instinct to protect what is his, but right now it is bleach on a fresh wound. 

 

I care about Jackie, no matter how I feel about her in the deepest part of my heart, she is my best friend. I just want her to be okay, and I want this to be over. I desperately want to be back on an even playing field with Hyde, despite being bitter at him. I can’t deal with him hating me. I close my eyes, feeling every ache in my body. I’m not Hyde, getting into a fight is a new experience and I hurt like hell. The voice of an agitated cop wakes me from my thoughts,

 

“You three are free to go. I suggest the next time you three call the police instead of starting a brawl. You are lucky charges were not pressed, I have a feeling they would have stuck. Get your stuff from the front desk. There is a slew of people waiting for you, I don’t know who the brown haired one belongs to, but she sure has a mouth on her.”

 

I watch Hyde get up and move by the cop, he mutters to him

 

“She doesn’t belong to anyone anymore.”

Hyde

My heart is beating like crazy. I just need to see her, I need to see that she is okay. I desperately want to know what is going on. She pressed charges? What does that mean? If her dad is in jail where will she live? Will he get out on bail?  That last thought, causes my heart to beat faster. If he is out then he is a danger to my Doll. My breath gets shallow, any calm I had achieved while sitting in that stupid cell is gone. What if he hurts her? My thoughts are scattered when I experience a smack up against the back of my head.

 

“Calm the hell down dumb ass. You being a wreck won’t help anything.” Red barks. 

 

Apparently, I am not the king of Zen at the moment. I don’t know how I could possibly be, I lost my ability to be rational, the day freaking Jackie Burkhart walked into my life. Nothing and no one cracks my Zen like Jackie. 

 

I reach the door leading out of the jail, into the family or whoever the hell is bailing you out area, to find Mrs. Forman, Donna, but no Jackie. I didn’t realize that I had stopped in the doorway, 

 

“Keep moving Dumb Ass, I want my coffee, my paper, and some fucking sleep.” Red mutters from behind me.

 

I step further out and I look Donna straight in the eyes, she looks away immediately. She knows what I am asking, and now my heart is in my throat. I turn back to look at Forman who is also scanning the area for the brunette we are both in love with. I’m about to ask where the hell she is when Red beats me to it,

 

“Where’s the Loud One? She still talking to the cops?”

 

Mrs. Forman looks at all of us and then looks away, “No, she called Kelso to come pick her up, he just left with her.”

 

At the exact same time Forman and I yell “Kelso!”




The Princess and The Idiot

 

Kelso

Somewhere along the way Jackie because something in my life that was necessary. I think people would be surprised to know that Jackie and I are actually good friends, when I’m not screwing around on her, and she isn’t driving me nuts. There is just something about Jackie when it is just you and her, you feel like the damn sun is focused on you and only you. Public Jackie and Private Jackie are completely different entities, and what is even cooler is each person has their own version of Private Jackie. That is why I am so pissed at Hyde, I love my Private Jackie and I never in a million years thought I might have to give it up. I figured she would always be there. I mean Jackie and Kelso, Kelso and Jackie, it is weird to me to not think about our names not together in a sentence. What did surprise me is when she called me from the Point Place Police Department and asked me to come get her.  I don’t usually put in the same sentence “Jackie and the Police”, that is unless she is bailing me out because I’m an idiot and I got busted.

 

I’m not entirely sure what the hell is going on, but she asked me to come. I got there, and Donna and Mrs. Forman are standing next to Jackie like they might shank someone if they got too close to her.

 

He had gone into the Police Department to get Jackie. He had no idea what to expect or why she would call him. He knew he wasn’t first choice, even when they were dating. If she had been in trouble she would have called Eric, and strangely even though they claimed to hate each other she would have called Hyde second. He had always been weirdly protective of Jackie, and she had always gone to him when he had pissed her off. They had a bizarre relationship pre getting together, so it did cause worry that she was calling him.

 

He pulled open the doors and there he found them, Donna, Mrs. Forman and a distraught Jackie. To say that Donna and Mrs. Forman were surprised to see him would be an understatement.

 

Donna had raised her eyebrows, shock filling her eyes “What the hell Kelso? Why are you here?”

 

No matter the situation he was still a smart ass, “Why are you here?’

 

Before the banter continued, Jackie stopped it cold “I called him to come and get me. Michael, can we just go. I’ll explain later.”

 

He had instinctively grabbed her hand, and began to pull her out. For once, he caught the seriousness of the moment. Jackie was shaking, all sorts of emotions crossing her face, he had never seen her so close to falling apart. 

 

As he pulled her away, Donna had grabbed Jackie by her hand, and whispered harshly,

 

“What are you doing? Eric, Mr. Forman, and Hyde are going to be out any minute. They are going to want to know what is going on with you. You can’t just go.”

 

Something flashed across Jackie, it was dark and it was fierce, she wasn’t having it.

 

“Yes, I can. I can go where ever I want.” 

 

She had looked at him and said, “Please Michael, let’s just go” and for the lack of a better plan, he drove to the water tower .

 

They had been sitting silently for a long time, and as much he didn’t want to mess with her when she was agitated, he thought perhaps he should push a little.

 

“Come on Jackie, talk to me. You called me to pick you up at the Cop Shop, with our friends in a cell, Mrs. Forman and Donna looking freaked out, and you looking ready to shatter. What the hell is going on?”

 

She looks up at me, and I remember why I fell so hard for her. Those eyes, enormous, trembling, and full of something. I’ve never been able to read Jackie, it’s the mystery of those eyes for me. I want to know the something, find it, or be turned on by it. One single tear falls, there is nothing more heartbreaking than one tear falling down a woman's cheek, I think to myself.

 

“Michael, I just need you to listen. I don’t need you to save me or even talk. Can you do that?”

 

I shake my head yes, she grabs my hand fiercely,lays her head on my shoulder and tells me everything.

Her dad hitting her

Eric finding the bruise

Hyde, seeing Eric touching her back

Hyde cheating with a nurse 

Hyde forcing her to tell the truth

Red getting involved

Her dad coming for her

The brawl that led to everyone getting arrested, and finally her calling me, so she didn’t have to deal with the aftermath. 

 

I keep my promise, and don’t say a word, despite all the feelings I have about her getting hurt, me never knowing, and how miserable she is about Hyde fucking up. 

 

“Jackie, I’m going to say something. I promise it is not about your dad or the fight. For once, I’m not an idiot and I know you don’t want to talk about it with me, not really. That’s why you called me. You knew I wouldn’t push you, I’ve always given you what you wanted. This time won’t be any different but I need to say one thing.”

 

I watch her nod with permission, and I plow forward

 

“You love him, Jackie, more than you ever did me, even my stupid ass can comprehend that.  I don’t know when the change started, but you are the only I’ve ever seen him crack for.  He would never admit it to me but I would bet a million burns, he loves you. It doesn’t mean what he did was right, but Jackie, he won’t give up. You have two choices, you either need to tell him there is no way in hell you two will get back together or that you are willing to work on forgiving him. He won’t ever stop fighting for you, because I’m guessing you are the only person he has thought was worth fighting for. What we had Jackie, it wasn’t worth all the forgiveness you gave me. I didn’t deserve it and I didn’t deserve you, but Hyde does. More importantly, you deserve Hyde, a man who would beat the shit out of your dad, a guy who has gone to jail for you twice, and I guarantee is a wreck right now about where you are. It’s just my dumb opinion but I think you should forgive him.”

 

I feel tears hitting my shirt. I can’t help myself, I kiss the top of her head lightly, and whisper into the night 

“I’m sorry Jackie.”

 

She grabs my hand even harder, and with her voice cracking terribly, she whispers

 

“Thanks for coming to get me Michael.”

 

I close my eyes, lean my head on hers, and whisper my own absolute truth,

 

“I’ll always come and get you Jackie.”

 

I hear her sniff, take a steadying breath, and pull herself back in

 

“I think it is time for me to go back to the Forman’s”

Chapter Text

It’s been hours since Jackie left with Kelso. I can’t even begin to understand why she called that idiot to pick her up. I’m laying here on my cot, trying not to worry about her, and what it means she called for Kelso. No matter, how dumb he is sometimes, I know she is physically safe. Kelso would sooner die than let someone hurt Jackie, unless it is him screwing her over. Bitterness wells up inside of me, what position am I in anymore to judge Kelso? I did the exact same thing to her, I cheated. I hate it. I hate I am now on the same level as Kelso in Jackie’s mind. It actually makes me sick to think that we are comparable in any way, especially this one. Everything with Jackie’s dad has allowed me to push down what started the descent into this nightmare, and that is me being a fool. 

 

I close my eyes, and try to shake the image of her staring at me like every dream she had was dead. Now that I know Jackie’s dad is not anywhere he can hurt her, I can’t drown out the other screams in my heart, “You lost Jackie” and “Your best friend loves the same woman you love”

 

I sigh quietly to myself, he and Forman had not exchanged a word since the lobby of the Police Department, if you could even call yelling “Kelso” together speaking. I’m confident Forman is taking her running off with Kelso worse than I am. I could see it, he feels replaced. His place as Jackie’s soft place to land has always been concrete, and now there are cracks in the foundation. As soon as we walked into the kitchen, Mrs. Forman yelled at us, cleaned up our battle wounds, and then sent us to bed. I found it mortifying but it was extended to Red as well that took some of the sting out of it. I would bet my stash, Forman is upstairs having the same issue I am, he can’t stop thinking about Jackie. 

 

I continue to study the bleak gray walls of my current prison. I am pretty sure I know where Kelso and Jackie are, it’s the place we all go to think. I am confident they are at the water tower. I had thought about going there and…….. Do what?  I think to myself. I’ve lost the privilege to pull her out of Kelso’s arms into mine. She’s entitled to be wherever she wants and be with who she wants, and I don’t get a damn say in it. I also don’t want to push her anymore. I’ve backed her into a corner the last 24 hours in the name of her safety, so even though I hate it, I am going to leave her be. 

 

I don’t want to give her up. I refuse to give her up. I’m willing to do anything to get her back. She is worth fighting and working for. I fucked up, and I am going to fix it. The last 48 hours of distrust, broken hearts, fighting and loss is finally getting to me. My eyes start to give into the pure exhaustion that is my body and mind. My last thought before the minimal peace that comes with sleep is “Be safe Doll, I love you.”



My eyes fly open, it could have been seconds, minutes or hours, it is hard to tell when you sleep in a room with no windows. I’m not sure what woke me up, but then I roll to my side to see Jackie staring at me in the dark. I’m confused, I’m not sure that I might not be dreaming,

 

“Jackie? Baby is that you?”

 

She nods and then softly says “I know we aren’t together anymore, but will you just hold me?”

 

My heart shatters at the statement “I know we aren’t together anymore.” Even though it hurts like hell to hear her say it, I open my arms without a word. She crawls into them, tucks her head under my chin, and clings to my chest. I wrap my arms tightly around the best thing that has ever happened to me, and pray this won’t be the last time she lets me hold her.

 

I am brought back to the surface by raised voices, I know instantly, Jackie is gone. I don’t even need to open my eyes. I can feel the emptiness. I  also don’t need to wonder where she is, because one of the voices raised is hers. Jackie, especially pissed Jackie, has a very distinct tone. A tone you want to watch carefully, her temper is just as quick as mine. Her temper flashes quickly like a wildfire, it burns hot, it burns wildly, and man you don’t want to be in the path. The second voice is Eric, using a tone that you normally don’t hear form him; extreme bitterness with a dash of pissed. I hop up out of bed, ready to know what is going on when Jackie stops me cold with a snarl,

 

“Who the hell do you think you are Eric?”

 

I don’t know what stops me, but I decide to listen instead of bust in. Ha! Look at me showing restraint.  Just as I finish congratulating myself, Eric tells Jackie exactly who he thinks he is,

 

“I’m your best friend Jackie. I’m the guy who you’ve cried on for years. I’m the guy you’ve laughed with and fought with. I’m the guy you’ve made most of your childhood memories with. I think that entitles me to know a few things. I think it entitles me to know why you were stepping out of Hyde’s room first thing in the morning, especially after you disappeared with Kelso. I think I am entitled to know where the hell you were, after all my dad and I fought like hell to keep you safe. I want to know what the hell is going on?”

 

I lean on the door to my room, and pray he doesn't cross the line, and go somewhere with Jackie he can’t come back from. I’m not sure what started this fight, but they are at each other. I’ve heard them fight a thousand times, but this is ugly. I’ve never heard Eric get hostile with her, pissed…. yes, annoyed beyond belief, more times than I will ever be able to count, but this is something else. I’m tempted to intervene because I have a feeling this will not end well. 

 

“You are entitled? Is that what you said Eric? Are you telling me I owe you something for you being friends with me?” I hear Jackie’s voice seethe out. 

 

I hold my breath, willing Eric not to say what I think he is going to say. No matter my current issues with Jackie and him, I don’t want him to burn his friendship to the ground with her. It seems  today is Eric’s day to be a stupid ass with Jackie because he barrels on,

 

“Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. I deserve an explanation after everything I’ve gone through for you the last 24 hours. Now where the hell were you and why were you in Hyde's room?”

 

I’m not even out there, but I can feel the temperature in the whole basement drop to bitter cold. There is a sick part of me that is enjoying listening to Forman dig is own grave, after him lecturing me about how I don’t think before I say shit. Well welcome to the Jackie Causes Temporary Insanity Club . I’m not only a card carrying member, but I’m the damn president. He can kiss my ass because I know my Doll, and she is going to fucking explode. I’m not wrong, because the fury, that is Jackie, is coming down like the wrath of God on Forman. 

 

“You are such a fucking selfish bastard” I blink , Jackie never swears, that means she is beyond choosing her words carefully. “What you went through? Are you stupid? You got in a fist fight and put in a cell, BOO FUCKING HOO ERIC! My world is ripped apart, and has been for years, you are simply walking in on the final chapter. My father has been hitting me my whole, and you want to talk about what you’ve been through? Did you have to spill your darkest secrets to a man who is not your father? Did you have to watch the three most important men in your life rip apart a man who should love you best? Did you have to press charges against your own father? I’ll ask you again, what the hell is wrong with you, Eric?”

 

The room is silent, but I can hear the heartbeat of pain slashing at the quiet. I can imagine them just staring each other down. I can picture Jackie’s chest heaving in frustration, and I know Eric’s fists are clenched, with his face stop sign red. I start to pull the door open, when Eric drops the match on the trail of gasoline

 

“You know that’s not what I mean. Don’t try to turn this around on me. I asked you a simple question and you started yelling! I want to know why you are coming out of Hyde’s room? How can you be that stupid after what he did to you? Jesus, Jackie, what is it about you and men who treat you like crap? Who do you call to pick you up… The guy who cheated on you countless times without thinking twice!  Then this morning I find you walking out of the room the guy who nailed a nurse not only 48 hours ago, and I’m the bad guy! Damn it Jackie, I’ve been worried sick about you and you go to the two men who couldn’t deserve you less.”

 

I am frozen in my doorway, unbelievably hurt by the words Forman used like a sword. I sense a harsh winter well up in my body, causing my heart to stutter. I’m so surprised by his outburst that I can’t find the fierce anger I use to fight a situation that hurts like hell. Who knew it would be Forman that would kneecap me?

 

Neither of them has noticed I’m in the room they are enraptured with their fight. The world could be burning down and neither of them would take notice. From my shadowed hiding spot, I wait for what is coming, I start to count in my head 1,2,3 and then Jackie goes super sonic,

 

“Fine! You want to know why I called Kelso? Because I knew he would give me what I needed, which was simplicity. He let me lay my head on his shoulder without either of us having to worry about tomorrow or yesterday. He didn’t badger me with questions and for once in his life was clever enough to just leave me be. Something that I would expect you as my best friend would understand. I needed to call someone who wasn’t part of the disaster, that is my life. I needed Michael. He gave me the chance to settle myself without a barrage of questions.  As for Steven, I don’t owe you shit, but I will tell you why, because I needed to feel safe. I know his arms are the safest place on earth and after the day I had I wanted to feel protected. Maybe if you ever looked below the surface Eric, you would see things other than your preconceived notions about Michael, Hyde and I. Maybe you wouldn’t have missed some crucial things going on in my life.” 

 

I hiss in my heart, and even though I want to pound Eric into the ground, what Jackie is implying is low. I know why she is doing it, and Eric is no match for her when she is like this. She is hurting, and he has pushed buttons that increase the pain. Jackie is going to cut him off at the knees. I see Eric’s face go white and his voice trembles out,

 

“Jackie” A thousand cuts are in the single utterance of her name “Are you saying that I should have known about your dad? That isn’t fair, none of us knew. Not even Hyde! I can’t imagine you would say this to him.” 

 

“Of course I wouldn't say it to him, I always knew he would figure it out….Oh! look he did, and then he did everything he could to protect me.” 

 

I’ve had enough, she is totally lashing out and Eric doesn’t deserve this. 

 

“Jackie, you need to stop before you say something you can’t take back.” I say seriously from my vantage point of this exchange. The both whirl around to finally discover my presence in the room. The both are nervous at my appearance, blunt discomfort clouding their faces. I can see they are hoping I heard only the last bit of their exchange. 

 

I walk over to Jackie and pull her tightly to me, and I whisper sternly into her ear,

 

“He doesn't deserve that Jackie. Don’t destroy him because you don’t know how to deal with the last 24 hours. Don’t set him on fire because you are mad at me, it is not fair. He is not at fault for not knowing. I know you know in your mind, heart and soul that Forman would do anything for you. Be mad at him for being an ass. Be mad at him for being a dillhole who is yelling at you for the wrong things at the  wrong moment. You can kick his ass for being selfish about his feelings, but don’t blame him for not knowing. You can’t do that to him.”

 

I feel her stiffen, but she stays close to me. This gives me the chance to say one more thing, 

 

“Caring and Loving Jackie Burkhart can induce the calmest of men to lose their minds. Give him a pass on this Doll.”

 

Despite my desperate need to have it out with Forman about our own dance of problems, I’m going to take the first step into fixing what I broke. I’m going to leave them alone to work it out, and I am going to do everything I can to not let it bother me.

 

I hug her tightly, and say one last thing in her ear “Fix it grasshopper”

 

I release her, and start walking towards the basement door.  I pull it open and before I close the door behind me, I see her and Forman staring each other down like two gun fighters about to draw. I see her wavier and finally she flings herself into Eric’s arms. 

 

Deep pools of remorse, relief, and exhaustion shake out of Jackie, as Eric’s arms tighten around her. I watch him put his head in her hair, and take a deep breath as he inhales her in. His whole body relaxes as he rubs her back.  I wait for him to open his eyes and look at me, I want to see it. I watch him pull her closer, and his eyes flutter open to find my stare. I’ve left my eyes bare and I make sure he can understand what I want him to comprehend.

 

 I want him to know that I know he loves Jackie, that he isn’t fooling anyone, especially not me.

Chapter Text

Kelso

I don’t know what to say other than this day keeps getting stranger. There I was minding my own business trying to work out in my head what Jackie I talked about today, when I heard a pinging sound on my window. I can’t say having rocks thrown at my window is a new experience  but it has been awhile. So imagine my surprise to find Hyde down in my yard in the middle of the night.  I throw open my window and hiss out

 

“What the hell Hyde?”

 

In the guy world you don’t need to say more than that. We don’t need lengthy explanations. He looks like hell. We don’t have the type of relationship where I would say this out loud but seeing him like this, it legit worries me. I would never tell him that because it would only piss him off epically. I’ve been hit by Hyde more times than anyone else. His punches hurt like hell.

 

“Kelso, I need a place to crash. Can I stay here for a few hours and sleep?”

 

I can count how many times I’ve heard Hyde ask for help. Let's all count together…. Oh, wait, it is zero. I’ve been friends with him since kindergarten, and he has never asked for any form of support. Even when his mom left, he refused to tell anyone or go to the Formans for assistance.

 

 No one on earth is more stubborn than Hyde, so imagine my surprise to hear him ask for help, and from me of all people. Listen, I love Hyde. We are friends until the end, but our friendship, took a turn towards frosty when he started hooking up with Jackie. It doesn’t matter that I screwed the pooch with her, I didn’t want to watch Hyde take my place. 

 

Wanna know why? Because long before they were together they seemed strangely bonded. Since the minute she walked into the basement all those years ago with Eric, there has been an unnameable energy between them. I’m dumb but I’m not blind. I could see something lurking between Jackie and Hyde, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Who the hell knew "that something" would be love, the real fucking deal type of love

 

“Damn it Kelso! Are you going to answer?” he yells breaking me out of my amazement.

 

I look down again, and yell back “Climb up.” I have a very convenient tree outside my room. Every break out and sneaking back in has been assisted by this tree. You could say I’m awfully fond of it.

 

I watch Hyde monkey up. For a guy who is built like a stone wall he is surprisingly agile. He climbs from limb to window and hops in. I look at him and say nothing. I only raise my eyebrow at him. For once, he can talk first, I didn’t show up at his window in the middle of the night.

I watch him sigh,

 

“It was either beat the crap out of Eric and set what might be left of Jackie and I on fire or get out and find somewhere to crash. I elected you.”

 

I’m on a roll of brilliance these last 12 hours, just like with Jackie, I can tell that Hyde has no desire to provide more detail than what he gave me. No amount of annoyance at Hyde would cause me to bail on him when I know he is close to the edge. I know without a doubt he would do the same for me despite the many events that have occurred between us.

 

“Old sleeping bag is in the closet. Grab one of my extra pillows” I say quietly

 

I watch him grab the bag, unroll it, and snatch one of my pillows. He looks like a man who has been to war, and came home with wounds no one can see but him. I glimpse something that is  rare, an unguarded Hyde. His face his etched with Jackie. His love for her, his worry, and his desperate regret.

 

He falls on the bag, scrunches up the pillow and closes his eyes. He says nothing to me. I don’t know why I am shocked by that. Only Hyde would come to your house in the middle of the night, ask to crash, and say nothing more. 

 

My own exhaustion is creepy over me. I know I didn’t participate in the hell that went down this morning but soothing a miserable Jackie, is its own special torture. I’m about out when Hyde breaks the silence,

 

“Thanks Kelso, it means a lot.”

 

This day just keeps getting more bizarre, Hyde thanking me or expressing emotion is making me wonder if I’m living in a bizarro world. The shitty part of me has a thousand burns ready to snap out, but for once I’m just going to be a good  friend.

 

“No problem man”

 

The silence is heavy, I have a feeling that he isn’t finished talking. I continue my streak today of being dead on.

 

“Where were you guys? Was it the water tower?” I’m not sure why that is his starter question, but it’s Hyde so there is no unlocking the mystery of his reasoning.

 

 “Yeah, we just hung out and talked. She needed someone who would just leave her be. You know I’ve never been able to not give her what she wants.” 

 

The silence falls back as Hyde digests the information, I wait for the question he really wants to ask. I can feel it killing him that he has to ask me of all people what he is desperate to know.

 

“Kelso?” I reply back “Yeah?”

 

I actually hear him swallow. He’s nervous, this is something I’ve never witnessed. Chalk up another mark in the box of new experiences for me today.  His voice which is softer than I have ever heard before says,

 

“Is she okay?”

 

Never has there been a question more loaded than those three simple words. I brace myself for what is about to be an uncomfortable conversation,

 

“Yes and No. Is she falling apart about her  Dad…. No, but she certainly isn’t okay. It’s Jackie, she will get her fire back. She already has with that horror story, but I’m not comfortable telling you Hyde. I can’t screw her over this time. This one time, I need to respect the promise I made to her.”

 

I hear him exhale heavily, “I understand. I won’t push you on it but Kelso……” He trails off. 

 

If I didn’t know better, I would think he was scared to ask the next question. Hell, maybe he is, Jackie has always caused Hyde to react in ways that are the exact opposite to his nature.

 

“What about the rest of it?” he asks.

 

 I know what he is talking about. The part of me that is still pissed at him wants to torture him by refusing to answer, but Jackie’s face floats to my mind. She loves the bastard, and he may not want to admit it, but he loves her. If he is willing to incinerate his friendship with Eric over a girl, then she is the only girl who will ever matter to him. I decide to ease his misery.

 

“No, she isn’t okay. Nothing I ever did to her, hurt her as much as what you did with the nurse. As much as it sucks to admit it, Hyde…. What she felt for me is a fucking shadow compared to how she feels about you. You fucked up Hyde, but I am going to tell you what I told her even though I don’t want to. I told her I think she should forgive you, because no one is going to love her like you do. I told her that I knew you were going to fight like hell to make it up to her.”

 

It stabs at my own heart to help him, because I love her too. It’s impossible not to love Jackie, but to be loved back by her is to have all your dark burned away. Jackie’s love for Hyde has been a blaze of fire, purifying the darkest parts of him. I wish she had, had that fire for me, but she didn’t, and I was serious before… I don’t deserve her, but he does. 

 

 We both fall into silence, it goes on long enough that I assume he fell asleep.

 

He interrupts the dark one more time, “Thanks Kelso.”

 

I utter out, “Don’t make me regret it, Hyde, Go the Hell to asleep.”

Chapter Text

Somewhere along the way, I got roped into having a basement full of additional children. I don’t know when or how but I became responsible for helping shape them into decent humans. I blame Kitty, she collects children like some people collect stamps. Even after all these years, I still can’t tell her no. If I am being honest, a few of those dumbasses mean quite a bit to me. That is why I am sitting here waiting for Steven in the kitchen. On his own he is a worthy young man, but he needs guidance in dealing with circumstances no kid should ever have to know, before the hurt ruins him.

 

  Sometimes you just fuck up, you get it 100% all the way wrong. There is no excuse, and you need to man up and just say it. To me that is what being a man is. You take responsibility for your actions. You stand up and take the consequences. I believe this to my core. I believe in being honest even when it hurts, and I am about to be all sorts of honest with my second son. Because that boy has screwed up in everyway possible, and it involves the elfin girl who has lived in my heart since she wandered into the kitchen acting like she owned the place.

 

The Basement Idiots have no idea how loud they are. I know Steven cheated on Jackie. I’ve been able to piece together that Eric had something to do with it, and in the middle of that cross fire is Jackie. That bullshit is going to stop, or they are all going to get a foot in the ass. 



I think of Jackie has my daughter. Yes, I have Laurie. Yes, I love her, but she is the greatest heart break of my life. I don’t know how Kitty and I raised such a spoiled, selfish, and completely devoid of values child. I blame myself for being too soft with her, but she was still held to the same standard of right or wrong as Eric. I know it isn’t right, but slowly over the years Jackie came to replace Laurie in my heart, and I don’t think Steven realizes it, but I’m a level of pissed he has never seen.

 

To add to my anger over what he did to Jackie is his complete inability to hold is shit together with how he feels about her. I understand the rage. I understand the desire to destroy what hurts and haunts you. Even, more I get it down to my bones, the want to kill someone who is hurting the person you love best, but he must learn to control it or it will destroy him. He is on the path of letting his dark consume him. So, here I sit waiting for him to blow in from wherever he took off too. I’ve got Jackie sleeping in Laurie’s room, and I’ve told Eric if he moves from his room before I tell him to he will die on the spot.

 

As I’ve said before I can wait, but every minute that ticks by with the boy out in the wind, my temper slides closer to the edge. I hope he gets here before Kitty notices he is gone and goes nuclear because that will ruin my plans to kick his sorry ass. My wish is answered. He pulls the kitchen screen door open slowly, his head is down and his face is unguarded. His face screams exhausted. He looks drained of hope and like he has hit the wall. 

 

“Where they hell have you been dumb ass?” I growl at him from my chair.

 

 His head snaps up, and we make eye contact. He sees it, the anger, the disappointment, how ridiculous he was and that he is going to hear about it, from the one person he can’t argue with….. Me.  I might be the only person on earth except my girl upstairs who can bring Steven to heel. The fact is Jackie doesn’t know she has that type of power, and it scares Steven shitless that she could own him if she wanted to.

 

I have to admire the courage he has  to look at me and say, “Do you think we could do this later? I’ve only had a few hours of sleep.” He has the nerve to sound put out and like I’m being over dramatic. It is sheer bravado on his part, but I don’t find it amusing. I’m done waiting and my own control has slipped, so  frost falls over my tone.

 

“Sit your ass down or I’m going to make what happen in my front yard yesterday seem like happy fun time when I’m down kicking the shit out of you.” 

 

The boy has balls of brass because he glares at me. I can see the sneer in his eyes that even those stupid glasses can’t hide. The sneer plainly says,

 

  “You wanna try Old Man?” 

 

“What’s your choice going to be Steven?” I say with stone in my voice. I’m not fucking around with him, and he must realize it because he falls heavily into the chair. He plops his head into his hands and whispers,

 

 “Just Get it Over with”

 

I don’t know why that pisses me off more, but it does. As if this conversation is something, he just has to endure to get to what he wants. That sly amount of disrespect unleashes my own malevolence.

 

“You raise your fucking head and you look at me.” I watch his head snap up, shock dancing across his face. After I see his eyes on me, I let him have it.

 

“I am telling you right now Steven if you even fucking blink while I am talking to you, I’m throwing you out. You are going to hear what I have to say and then you are going to fix what you broke. You are lucky, I don’t take you out back and show you how much more dangerous than you, I am. I told you to stay the fuck out of it with Burkhart. You came to me to take care of it  and then did the exact opposite of what you were supposed to do. I don’t know what Jackie did or how she pulled it off but the only reason your ass isn’t still sitting in a cell is because of her.”

 

I see knowledge wave over his face, and I can tell he wants to ask, but the boy is not stupid. He keeps his mouth shut, and his vision unwavering, I still see defiance dancing in his gaze. That is what I am going to break, he must stop fighting the wrong people. He has to stop lashing out on the people who love him most. I know this boy. I know him inside and out. I was this boy. I won’t let him go off track.

 

“I know you want to protect Jackie. I know the mere idea her father could say the shit he did about her is enraging. I know you wanted him to suffer every hit, tear, and moment of fear he caused Jackie. I know that, but you can’t hand out your own justice. You have to stop being judge, jury and executioner. The bottom line is you suck at it. You decided that Jackie was cheating on you. You delivered a judgment, prosecuted it in your own mind, and you pulled the trigger on your relationship.”

 

I see his face lose what color was left and shame damper the final flames of deifance. He speaks for the first time since I told him to raise his head.

 

“You know about that?” He wants to look away, I know he does, but he holds my gaze. I make sure my eyes don’t waver. He needs to hear this all and comprehend it. 

 

“Yes, I know. You idiots think you are living some secret life down there, but first of all you are too fucking loud for anything to be a secret, and Jackie isn’t exactly shy about telling me how she feels. I’m going to say this to you one time and one time only. You can either accept that some people love you and won't betray you or you can spend your life waiting for someone to screw you over. That is a fucked up way to live. You can either have people who love you or you can be the guy who hurts people before they hurt you, only to find out they never intended to hurt you in the first place. You fucked up. There is a lot that needs to be fixed and you will fix it. If she never takes you back, then that is the consequence for being stupid and not trusting the best thing that ever happened to you. You better learn how to tell her how you feel and you better learn how to do it quick or you are going to watch her walk straight out of your life.”

 

His eyes break away from mine, and he growls out “You think I don’t know that I fucked up? How can you think I’m over here oblivious that I threw a match on what was the best thing in my shitty life? How can you imagine I don’t know what a complete and total bastard I’ve been to her? How can you…….” his voice trails off 

 

I watch him set his jaw and look back at me “I know Mr. Forman. I know I ruined the one person whose only mistake was to love me. I love her. I love her to the point of insanity, she fucking owns me. How do I make up for the one thing I swore I would never do? I was supposed to be better than Kelso, her dad, and her mom. I was supposed to be the guy who never screwed her over. I’m just another notch on the belt of disappointments in Jackie’s life. Believe me, I know exactly how badly I messed up.”

 

His voice is raw, with the pain of his heart being scraped over the gravel of his mistakes.  I sigh at the sight of him. He is hurting and beating himself up over this, and though he was a jack ass for what he did, him hating himself won’t fix the problem.

 

I take a deep breath and lay it on the line “Somewhere along the way Steven, Jackie Burkart became your world and you never knew it. If you love her like you say you do, then you need to fight for her the way you did to protect her.” Steven isn't the last person who is going to get his ass kicked today, but before I move on to dumb ass number one, I need some inside knowledge.  I pause because this is the area that is most delicate but I need to see his reaction.

 

“Don’t make Jackie choose between you or Eric, because I don’t anticipate you will like her answer.”

I watch a whole movie of emotions cross his face, before he can shut it down, but in that short film I see fear, hurt, and betrayal. 

I get ready to step back from my comment when he growls out "I already know the answer." I watch him stand up and slam out of the room down to the basement. 

I feel dread well up in my jaded heart and wonder if two friends who call each other brother will ever be the same again.

Chapter Text

 

Jackie

I’m laying on Steven’s cot waiting for him to come home. I love Mr. Foreman, and he is like a dad to me but if he thought I would stay in Laurie’s room… he underestimates my desire to have my own way. As soon as I heard him walk back downstairs, I went into Eric’s room and climbed out his window. I didn’t even bother to acknowledge his “What the hell Jackie?”

In a strange twist of fortune, everyone in this group of friends has a tree conveniently placed outside their bedroom window. We’ve been sneaking in and out of each others’ houses for years. In some glorious gift of comedic irony, Kelso, who has fallen off the water tower more times than you would imagine being humanly possible, has never fallen out of one of our trees. It makes me smile to think about it. It lightens my heart briefly. I need a few moments of laughter because the last 72 hours has felt like a tsunami hit my life. 

 

I blackmailed my father into making sure he didn’t go after the Formans and Steven, had a breakdown with Kelso, tried to find peace in the man who broke my heart, and then went to war with my best friend. I’ve run the course of emotions, but I keep circling back to the moment when Steven came bursting out of his room. I wonder how much he heard. If he heard what Eric said he will be hurt in a way that I fear can’t be repaired. More so, I can’t get his words out of my head and heart.

 

“He doesn't deserve that Jackie. Don’t destroy him because you don’t know how to deal with the last 24 hours. Don’t set him on fire because you are mad at me, it is not fair. He is not at fault for not knowing. I know you know in your mind, heart and soul that Forman would do anything for you. Be mad at him for being an ass. Be mad at him for being a dillhole who is yelling at you for the wrong things at the moment. You can kick his ass for being selfish about his feelings, but don’t blame him for not knowing. You can’t do that to him.”

 

When Steven is thinking clearly he is a deeply principled man. I know he is hurt and angry with Eric, some of it ridiculous and other parts of it is justified. Despite his hurt, he came out to make sure I didn’t kill a relationship vital to my life. At that moment my heart started to forgive Steven. His willingness to stop me from hurting Eric and leave me with him to work things out, started to soothe my troubled heart.  I wanted to hurt Eric for pushing unnecessarily and being such an arrogant fool. I could have brought Eric to his knees. I had all the weapons and skill to shred him. I would have done it and then regretted it.  Steven put his feelings to the side, and stepped in front of Eric. He softly but sternly brought me back in line.

 

After Steven left, and I calmed down, Eric and I talked. It was brutal but honest, and I believe healing for both of us. Still, there is something Eric is holding back, but I don’t anticipate he will tell me. Somethings are between brothers, and I’m pretty sure I will not be invited into that conversation. This one time I don’t think I want to know, something tells me it might change things in a way I’m not prepared for. While I wait for him to reappear, I allow myself to drift back to my conversation with Eric.

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The Basement

The door slammed behind Steven, and she jerked back out of Eric’s arms. The slam seemed to take away the moment of forgiveness out of Jackie. She was hurt. Her life had been blown apart and Eric wanted to talk about what was owed to him. She wanted to scream at him. The urge was overwhelming, but Steven’s words were wrapping around her heart and whispering in her ear. She took a ragged breath and gazed at the boy, who had always been her safe harbor, but all of a sudden it felt like the dock was unsteady.

 

“I’m sorry Eric. I shouldn’t have implied in any way that you should have known or guessed what was happening to me. That being said, I’m not the least bit sorry about the rest of it. I didn’t know our friendship was based on what I owe you.”

 

The words came out harsher then she meant them to, but her will to soften anything was dead. She watched Eric take his own unsteady breath, close his eyes for a minute, and square his shoulders.

 

“For you to imply that I should have known and that I was somehow a worthless friend because I didn’t know….. Jackie, that felt like you cut my heart out of my chest.” 

 

Eric watched her eyes, and he could see that she was sorry, but she was still angry. Her eyes were swirling. The heaviness of how crucial this moment was to their friendship was near breaking his body. He knew that if either of them messed it up, they may never go back. He hated that the two friendships he cherished most were pulling apart at the seams. He had to find steadier ground with Jackie, otherwise he wouldn’t survive the inevitable showdown with Hyde. He hates all this. He hates that Jackie and him are wobbly. 

 

Most of all he hates that…..

He is confident Hyde heard everything. 

 Hyde knows his deepest secret.

He recognized the look in Hyde eyes, and it told him his friendship may be dead.

Hyde could have flamed the fury that was Jackie but instead he had made sure that she didn’t slice him in half.  

Hyde still willingly put his feelings first when he knew all Hyde wanted to do was bare knuckle have it out with him. The guilt is eating him alive.

He hates it all and wants life to go back to the fantasy of normal.

 

“Is that all you have to say Eric?” She didn’t know what he was staring at and was pissed, that was all he seemed to be addressing.

Her voice shakes him away from his worries about Hyde and back to the immediate mountain that need to be climbed.

 

“No, it isn’t Jackie. Can we sit? For a minute before the door slammed you were willing to let me hug you, now you are back to facing me down like the enemy. I don’t want to talk to you like this.”

 

She heard all the hurt and remorse in his voice. She heard the weariness in his words, and she could see the defeat in his body. She could never hold on to anger when someone she loved was hurting. She fell onto the couch. She watched him visibly relax, and he dropped next to her.

 

“Jackie, I’m sorry that I forgot that all this was because you have been living in hell. I’m sorry that all this fighting is around you having your heartbroken. I will be sorry until I died, I was oblivious to what was happening to you, and I’m even more sorry that I was jealous that Hyde knew what that mark was instantly. It makes me deeply ashamed that I even think that because he knows it from it happening to him. I’m sorry that I forgot it was you standing in the middle of the chaos.”

Jackie winced at every word. It hurt her to hear how raw Eric sounded, and she was unsure how to feel about his last comment about Steven. She tucked that away for now. She couldn’t hold out against him, no matter how much she wanted to, the petite girl who stood up for him all those years ago couldn’t stand to witness him beat up, even if he was doing it to himself. Her need to protect was just as fierce as Stevens. She simply expressed it in different ways. So her heart cracked open, and she did what she knew he needed. She laid her head in his lap, so he could fine solace in a ritual of comfort for them both.

 

As soon as her head hit his lap he felt both lighter and like cement. This was her version of forgiveness. This was her saying I still trust you. This was her way of saying I’m sorry because she knew even if he never said it that he found his own comfort in this act. Jackie laying her head in his lap was her way of erasing the harsh words between them, but he couldn’t get out Hyde’s words out of his head

“In what world would I do that with Donna?”

“I’ve been watching the Jackie and Eric show for years.”

“You two aren’t normal. She’s my girlfriend.”

 

Jackie once again was unsure at his silence and brought him back to the present. 

 

“Eric, you are wrong about Steven. I know he cheated on me, and that is something him and I will have to either work through or go our separate ways but for you to say he doesn’t deserve me was wrong. I’m pretty sure he heard you and I know you are made at him for what he did. I get it. I appreciate it. I love you for it  but I’m going to tell you the same thing he said to me

 

“Don’t burn him to the ground”

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I open my eyes and feel tears start to fall again. I don’t think I can live with Steven and Eric losing each other over me. Because I know I stand between them, and I know that Steven believes I would pick Eric over him in a second, but he is blind to the fact that I’ve been choosing him for years.

Steven’s smell and the memories of some of our softest moments cause me to finally relax.  I drift off waiting for the man I love to come back, to see if we can save who we are together or if I am going to have to start learning to live without him.  

Chapter Text

Hyde

I’ve gotten nothing left. Nothing. On my very best day dealing with my emotions is hell, and the last 72 hours have been less than my finest hour. I need to regroup and find my way back to even ground. I just want to stop feeling for a while. I want it to all go away, I think as I stomp down the stairs after my confrontation with Red. I am mad, embarrassed and ashamed of the things Red said to me. I know it all. I know I’m a fuck up. I know my whole heart is the hand of a tiny woman who would be within her right to crush it to the ground. I would. I did. Isn’t that what I did to her? I thought she had betrayed me, so I turned around and made sure that I destroyed her. I lean on the edge of the doorway to my room, and contemplate for the uncountable time,

 

“What the fuck is wrong with me?”

 

I push into my room, surprised to be once again greeted by the soft light from the small lamp above by my bed. I inhale sharply at the sight before me. It’s almost like I’ve gone back in time. There she is laying on my cot curled up in a ball, just like she was two days ago. I feel my lungs gasp for air, as I finally let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding.

 

I think to myself, “I guess that the whole stop feeling things plan is going to have to be put on pause.”

 

It takes everything I have to not touch her, but I call on my willpower. I should be an expert on not touching Jackie. Had I not been stopping myself purely on sheer will for pretty much our whole lives together? I’ve had slip ups. When I taught her Zen, I found it impossible not to brush her hair out of her face. I gave the lamest excuse that I needed to see her eyes. I’ve hugged her back when she would throw herself in my arms, and I’ve never been able to not squeeze her a little tighter than necessary. However, not once did I initiate a hug with her. I always pretended to be disgusted by it but I loved it when she hugged me.

 

 I found myself over time unconsciously directing her by putting my hand on her back. Donna pointed it out once and I made sure never to do it again. So, I get Eric’s need to touch her, smell her soft scent and want to be near her. Jackie is the ultimate siren, but there can be death on the rocks if you screw it up. That being said, I never crossed the line like Eric did, and I get angry again just thinking about him skimming his hands down her naked back, watching him sweep her hair to the side intimately and black rage fills me when I think of him leaning in to kiss her neck.  

 

I push down those feelings and fall quietly into the chair across from my cot. I close my eyes and let the sound of her peaceful breathing comfort me. I don’t know why she is in here. I am still confused by her seeking me out last night. What I do know is it is keeping a tiny spark of hope alive that she will forgive me. It is helping me cling to a life raft , she won’t hate me for the rest of her life and that I didn’t destroy the best thing that ever happened to me.

 

Gazing at her is my favorite thing to do, and I’ve been doing it secretly for a long time. Everything about her has always annoyed, rubbed me the wrong way and completely fascinated me. I rake my eyes over her body, and again I see the bruise. This time, instead of anger, I only detect an unfathomable heartbreak. I feel cut down to size that I didn’t push when I saw the signs. I am horrified by buying into her deflections when it was so obvious now she was doing the same thing I’ve always done. I could have helped stop this years ago, but I let my preconceived notions block me from seeing the truth, and I will never forgive myself for it. 

 

A low but stern voice yanks me out of my life sentence of  interminable shame.

 

“Stop It Steven”

 

I startle at her voice and my eyes swiftly move to hers . Her eyes have long been my window to her soul, and this time is no different. They are stern, but fiercely loving.

 

“Steven, you have to stop. I can see it all over your face. Nothing that happened to me was your fault. I know you suspected. I could see it in your eyes, and baby I did everything I could to deflect you. If you had asked me flat out about what was going on…. I would have lied to you and fought you the whole way. Who wants to admit their life is hell? Please don’t do this to yourself, it only hurts me more to see you like this.”

 

My heart clenches at her words, and I can’t accept them. There are too many ifs in my heart. I lean to stroke her hair, and her eyes close immediately, and I recognize a softness come over her, and that stabs at me as well. I don’t deserve her, giving me a pass on not knowing, and I sure as hell don’t deserve her forgiving me for the nurse. My voice is raw and the most unguarded it has ever been.

 

“Baby, I’m sorry. I can’t ever be sorry enough for all of it. For not pushing you, accepting your bullshit answers, and I won’t ever forgive, I didn’t do something about which I am a fucking expert in.”

 

Jackie starts to interrupt me “Steven, you can’t do this to yourself….”

 

I cut her off quickly “No, please listen. I’m sorry Jackie. I'm a level of sorry that actually hurts. I am deeply ashamed of what I did to you. Being with that nurse…..” 

 

I swallow heavily, I’m nearly choking on the words. 

 

“Sleeping with that nurse was the worst thing I’ve ever done. If you had done that to me, I would refuse to  have this conversation, but I am a selfish man, Jackie. I am begging you to forgive my sorry ass. I am begging you for grace, and for you to  believe my promise I will never do it again. I will always trust you first. I can’t not be with you. I simply can’t”

 

I watch tears stream down her face and whatever was left of my fucked up heart crumples into dust. I reach out and brush the tears off her checks. I yearn to take her in my arms, but I won't do anything she doesn't start first. I've lost the privilege. Just like I always predicted I would, I'm the one that caused us to implode. I can’t look at her and say this part. I can’t, because the pain I feel is overwhelming. I take a deep ragged breath and whisper out,

 

“If you can’t forgive me, I understand. As much as I hate it, as much as it burns me, Jackie, Eric is right. I don’t deserve you. I never did and I never will. I love you, Jackie. I’m not saying that to get out of trouble, but if we are over, I owe you the truth. You are my fucking everything.”

 

My chest hurts and I do something, I haven’t done since I was little, I feel tears begin to slide down my face. 

 

Jackie

 

I feel myself physically recoil as I watch the strongest person I know start to cry. I’m near sick at the sight of him in tears, and no amount of hurt remaining can hold out against him in such searing pain. I don’t even hesitate, I launch myself at him. I catch him by surprise because he falls back against the chair, but as always he wraps me tightly to prevent me from falling to the floor, showing his protective nature.

 

I grab him as tight as I can. I feel him burying his face in my neck, and his hot tears burn my skin. This man undoes me. 

 

“Steven, Baby please.” I whisper into his ear. 

 

His grief for hurting me and what he sees as a failure for not protecting me is a wave after wave of torture. I hold him close, and I run my fingers through his curls which I know it is soothing to him.

 

I feel his body starting to relax, so I pull his face out of my shoulder and grasp it tightly, so he must stare at me.

 

“Steven, I beg of you, PLEASE don’t torture yourself over what my mom and dad did to me. What is the difference to what happened to you? Do you blame me for not knowing? Not doing something to protect you?”

 

I watch his eyes fill with horror “Of course I don’t blame you. It isn’t the same at all.”

 

I bristle at such a ridiculous notion. I know what he is thinking. It is because I’m a girl. I will have none of that. I tighten my grip on his chin, 

 

“Steven, stop it! It is exactly the same. I need you to put this away. Please, it only increases the horror I feel about what happened.” 

 

I can see his eyes get stubborn but I also observe him trying to shutter down his feelings on the subject. I have a feeling we will have to talk about this again, but for now he appears to be willing to let  it go. 

 

He tightens his grip on me and I can guess what is coming and now my own pain is flying to the surface.

 

“Jackie, I don’t know what else to say but I’m sorry about the nurse. It feels so cheap and worthless to say words. I swear to you that I will never doubt you again. I will do anything. We can start over. We can go slow. I won’t do anything you aren't ready for. Just, please let me try to fix it.”

 

My own grief begins to pour out of my heart. I don’t have words at the moment. I cling to him and cry into his shoulder. I know it is backwards that I find comfort in the arms of the person who broke us, but I don’t want to be anywhere else. He rocks me back and forth, quietly repeating over and over again as he rubs my back

 

“Baby, I’m so sorry.”

 

I am often described as heedless and reckless, and I suppose if I am being honest I am. I love without hesitation even when it is against what is good for me or what makes sense. Which is why I have spent a good portion of my life loving a boy who I always knew would be a dangerous ride. I plunge headfirst into things, and worry about how I will land later. I’ve never been able to deny my heart and that is what he is. 

 

He is and always has been what I wanted. So, here I stand on the edge of the cliff, stepping back and letting Steven go is what would be safe and responsible decision. I can actually visualize myself standing on the lip of a beautiful cliff above the sea. The water is vast and it calls to my heart, the solid rock behind me is where I should stand but   want desperately to be in the waves. The surf beating on the shore crashing out his name in a rhythm that matches my heart beat. I can’t pull away from the sound and I don’t want to. So I jump, without promise of safe landing or that I won’t drown but I would rather risk it than never have him again. 

 

I murmur into his neck the only word I can think to say “Okay.”

 

I detect the confusion swirling up in his body, he pulls me back “Okay, what?” He is unsure of what I am driving at. 

 

“Okay, I want us to do this. Okay, I want us to figure this out. Okay, I forgive you. Okay, I don’t want to be without you, Steven.”

 

He always says my eyes shine brightly and it could light anyone's way, but the way his beautiful blue eyes fire to life like the hottest flame is almost blinding. This time he cups my face, gently but with hope, and uses his thumbs to stroke my face, as he croons out

 

“Are you sure?” 

 

“Yes, I love you. Where we love, we forgive Steven.”

 

He slowly lowers his lips to mine, giving me a chance to pull away, and when I don’t he brushes them across the mine.

 

“Thank You, Doll, I’ll never make you regret it. I love you.”

 

My heart is bursting and I feel my the pieces mending back together, but a little voice whispers 

 

“He said he will never doubt you again, but he didn’t say the same thing about Eric.”




Chapter Text

I Need You Part 2
Jackie
“He said he will never doubt you again, but he didn’t say the same thing about Eric.”

Steven is looking at me strangely. He has just told me that he loves me, we are on steadier ground, and yet I’m staring at him frozen. The concern about Eric bouncing around my heart like shrapnel from a bullet.

“Jackie? What is it?”

I can hear the panic starting to build in his tone, whatever relaxation his body had found is lost to uncertainty. I don’t want to bring it up, and ruin the healing that is starting between us, because what I need to ask is going to slice one of our wounds wide open.

As I continue to be silent, Steven’s eyes fill with concern, his confidence in us being okay is beginning to falter, and I sense his unease.

He sweeps my hair gently to the side and caresses my check softly with his rough fingertips. I want to lean into them and forget what I am thinking, but he is still Steven, and he must have his way.

“Talk to me Doll? I meant what I said, I’ll do anything. Don’t hold back. I don’t want anything between us left unsaid.”

I sigh heavily, “What about Eric?”

I guess I was wrong, Steven could get more tense. I watch his whole body bunch. The warmth drains out of his eyes, and every inch of gentle that had softened his face has gone unyielding. The openness in his gaze is instantly lockdown, leaving not a trace of the Steven that was present seconds before. His lips curl and his voice is dripping with disdain,

“What about him?” He stands up quickly and puts me on the cot and shoves his hands in his pockets. His stance defensive and combative. It pisses me off.

“Don’t even start Steven. You just said you would do anything. You totally begged for a second chance. You claim you trust me, but as soon as I ask about Eric, you shut down and start acting like an ass. It has been a whole five minutes since you said you can’t be without me, and you are already separating yourself. You better reign in whatever your problem is, or the last 20 minutes of laying it out here was a waste of our time.”

I lower my eyes and watch him from under my lashes. He can be such a pain in the ass, and I can see he wants to fight with me. It is rolling off of him. I don’t know that Steven will ever be able to curb the habit of wanting to saddle up when he wants to take out an opponent. I don’t want this. I refuse for us to take a step backwards. I grab his hand forcefully, and pull him to me,

“Steven, pick what is important to you. Being with me and talking about Eric or being mad. Ask yourself, if being right is worth giving me up and losing Eric.”

I gasp, as his stormy eyes start to burn. I identify in his penetrating gaze that there is more between him and Eric, than his mistaken belief that Eric and I had been together. I sensed Eric was holding something back when we talked and I had been immediately cautious, but I can’t seem to let it go with Steven. I am not even really sure I want to know. Whatever was lurking in Steven’s eyes was something there would be no stepping back from.

The heavy silence is broken but his frustrated tone, “Don’t make me do this Jackie. You won’t like it, and once I say it I can’t take it back.”

I don’t know what is wrong with me, I can see he is serious. He isn’t hesitating to be a jerk, there is a valid reason why he is holding back. I can even identify the desire to say whatever it is he is keeping locked inside of him. There is a shimmer of cruel glee in his gaze, telling me that if he wanted to he could get revenge on Eric. Because he is an incredible man who is a loyal friend, I observe him pull the glee forcefully back.

“You and I having this conversation…. Will lead to nothing good for any of us. For once in your damn life, can you actually listen when someone tells you something.”

He says it grumpily and it gets under my skin,

“Fine Steven, I understand how this is going to go, you are going to say things like I love you and I want us to be okay, and then pull back when I ask things that are hard.”

The better angels in my head are screaming at me “YOU DON’T WANT THIS! STEP BACK!”

Those Angels are drowned out by the part of me that is still hurt by his actions. They are suffocated to silence, by my desire for him to prove he is willing to do anything. When you lay it on the line, I am just as impulsive as Steven when angry.

I cross my arms, caution gone and I snip at him “You said anything Steven.”

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

Hyde
I love Jackie. I want her and need her more than I need oxygen, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that she could drive a saint straight to hell. All of us have joked, “what is it about Jackie, that can drive a person insane?”

One of the many ways she can drive a sober man to drink is that waspish expression on her face, the one that demands her way, even though you are trying to protect her. I want to throttle her. I actually want to shake her stubborn, pain in the ass pixie sized body. I am torn in several painful directions. I do want to show Jackie I am willing to do anything. I don’t want to tell her because I also don’t want her to make “prove it” a game to punish me. I want to tell her because I want to show her I won’t let my temper win. I don’t want to tell her because despite the fact, that I currently still want to beat Eric into the ground, I can’t do this to him. It would make me the lowest of friends.

“Steven are you going to answer me?”

I sigh, “Jackie, you are right, I don’t trust Eric right now. I am responsible for my behavior. No matter what angered me, I should have never punished you by sleeping with that nurse. I should have trusted you. I should have asked questions. Even if I had done the right thing, there would still be an issue between Eric and I. Further, more after you bolted from my room that night, him and I exchanged words."

I watch her roll her eyes, and blow out a frustrated breath “Steven, I think I can handle it.”

I call on every bit of patience I have. A considerable portion of me wants to just give in and make my life easier, but Kelso, Eric and I made a pact that goes all the way back to a broken car window of a Brand New Vista Cruiser.

We had been messing around with the basketball, Kelso threw the ball as hard as he could at Forman. He knew he couldn’t catch it. Sports and Forman have never worked together well in the same sentence. Kelso being the dumbass he is didn’t even notice where Eric was standing. For once in his nerdy life he was quick on his feet, and he ducked. The ball went right through the window on the back of the Cruiser.

Red had come out instantly and started yelling, “Who did this? Eric was this you?”

We all looked at each other, seven years old and complete understanding passed between us. No one said a word. Which I might add this only pissed Red off more, but our scared down to our toes 7 year old asses held it together.

We all got in trouble, sentenced to doing chores for Red for months, but we all knew it was better to not throw someone under the bus. After the jail sentence of chores was completed, we all made a pact to never rat each other out. We even did the blood promise. I run my finger over the scar where we used a pocket knife to seal our pact.

Not one of us has ever broken it, even when one of us has deserved it. Yeah that’s me looking at you Kelso, I yell in my head. I have a moment of anger again how badly I wanted to tell Jackie he was fucking around on her. Even Eric, who would do anything for her, held firm. We did everything we could to get him caught, but we never told. Hell, Eric and I even discussed that maybe it was worth breaking the pact over. I know it was, he knew it was, but we stood by it, as awful as that is.
Even if we are pissed at each other, we don’t rat. I picked a chick over my friend, even if they were broke up, I should have been up front with Kelso. I can’t break this code….. not even for her. I do the only thing I can do. I step in front of him again. She can’t know that Forman was so over the line when he was gazing at the bruise he lost sight of who he was. Jackie must stay oblivious to..............

The way he glided his fingers on her soft skin

The look of pleasure on his face as he touched her

How he started to lean in to kiss her tempting neck

She can’t know that he is in love with her.

Her knowing the truth will truly be the bomb that breaks up the band not Jackie and I being together.

It will change how they interact

It will likely hurt Kelso, he is sensitive that way

Jackie won’t be able to hide it from Donna

I don’t want Donna hurt.

I don’t want Eric to lose Donna

Most of all I know Eric would be truly devastated if I told a secret that he has barely admitted to himself, let alone to me.

 

He fucking owes me. This could very likely cost me Jackie, I am giving up what I need to breathe to protect him. There is a filthy and dark part of me that doesn't believe he is worth it after what he said to me and the things I overheard. He and I will deal with each other, friend to friend, man to man, brother to brother, and we will see if we can salvage us, it isn’t any of Jackie’s damn business.

She stomps her foot and huffs impatiently “Earth to Steven! I’m waiting.”

I can’t help but smile a little. Her petulance is secretly one of the things I love about her.

I step forward and take her chin firmly and pull down the shield guarding my eyes. I want her to comprehend my sincerity.

“Jackie, I am going to say this to you again. Don’t Burn Eric to the ground, because if I tell you what the problem it is, you are going to hurt him. I keep getting told by everyone don’t make you choose between me and Eric. Well Jackie, please don’t make me pick between you and him.”

I take a deep breathe. I am about to gamble on the riskiest decision of my life. I throw out what could be the end of Jackie and I.

“I won’t do this to him. If that means, I won’t do anything for you then I am just going to have learn to deal with loving you and not having you. Even if Eric and I stopped talking tomorrow, I wouldn’t tell you what it is between us. I refuse to hurt him no matter how mad I am at him. So, really Jackie. It’s up to you…. Will you trust me that this has to be between Forman and I or does this prove to you that I’m not worth forgiving.”

I notice a surge of feelings tornado in her storytelling eyes. The windows into who she is find their calm but she stays silent. As the room remains wordless, I feel myself start to choke up again. I pull her to me, and lay my forehead on hers.

“Doll, I love you with everything I am, but I can’t do it. He’s my best friend too”

She reaches up and strokes my face and softly says “I trust you. I’m sorry I asked.”

I am overcome with happiness, I am confident that we can get through me fucking up, the pain she has experienced and the uphill road she still must travel.

I can’t stop myself. As her words hit my heart, I crush my lips to hers.

 

My heart is beating my truth "I love, need, and I won't screw up my second chance with her."

Chapter Text

Eric

Red told me to go to my room and that if I moved until he came to get me, he would kick my ass. I know he says it a lot, but this time there was something there. A cadence to his words that left no room for argument. He has been oddly quiet with me during this hellish adventure. I excepted to get my ass handed to me while sitting in a jail cell with him. I was bracing myself for the ultimate smack down when we first got home from jail, but nothing. Strangely, until Jackie and I came upstairs from having it out in the basement, he had said nothing to me. When he caught sight of us, he looked at us both and gave two explicit orders

 

“Jackie, go to Laurie’s room and get some damn sleep.”

 

“You, go to your room and don’t leave it until I come and get you. I will kick your ass Eric, if you don’t follow my direction”

 

I was actually thrilled to be threatened, because I’m going to be brutally honest, him saying nothing scares me more than him yelling at me. I heard him telling Hyde off earlier. I close my eyes thinking about what I heard. I did the opposite of what Red told me and listened from the top of the stairs by the kitchen. I wanted to hear Hyde get his ass handed to him. I wanted to hear Red knock someone besides me to the ground. I wanted to listen to Hyde get shamed for what he did to Jackie. I got what I wanted, Red unapologetically told Hyde he fucked up with Jackie in more ways than one. However, the prophecy my mother always used to chide me with about spying on people came to fruition. I can hear her plainly in my head saying

 

 “ People who listen at keyholes don’t always like what they hear” 

 

Did I get to hear Red bring down the wrath of God……. Yes

 

Did I get to hear Red give no room for excuse for hurting Jackie……. Yes

 

Did I love hearing that there is at least one person on earth, Hyde must bend to…. You bet your ass, I loved it.

 

And then…….I heard my dad say,

“Don’t make Jackie choose between you or Eric, because I don’t anticipate you will like her answer."

 

For a minute, I felt sick joy my father was confident Jackie would pick me over Hyde. I had closed my eyes relishing that the man whose judgment is regarded as almost flawless had delivered his sentence. Jackie would pick me. For a moment, I was dancing on a wave of satisfaction. Then it all came crashing down on me, when I heard Hyde reply,

"I already know the answer." 

I lay here near sick thinking about the bitterness laced in those five words.

 

I had jumped up from the landing and went quickly back to my room. I’m a shit friend, because there have been many moments in the last 72 hours that Hyde could have kicked my ass, let me self-destruct my friendship with Jackie, or let her rip my heart out. She had been well on her way to doing just that, before he came out of his room and told her to stop. Jackie was ripping me to shreds, which Hyde should have loved, but he put an end to the argument. I’m never going to forget the look in his eyes as I gathered Jackie close. That stony blue stare delivered a clear message.

He heard every word that Jackie and I exchanged

He observed more than I thought he did when he came down the stairs to find Jackie’s blouse unzipped

The worst and most terrifying thing of all………..

He knows I am in love with Jackie.

 

I am completely screwed. I was caressing his girlfriend’s back. I was completely turned on by it. The worst….. I was going to kiss her neck. He was wrong about Jackie’s part in it, but my righteous indignation towards him was to help me continue to live in denial.  I didn’t want to admit to myself that I love Jackie.

 

My father’s stern and pissed off voice pulls me back to reality

 

“I hope listening to your best friend getting his ass chewed was worth it, because I told you not to leave this fucking room.”

 

Red

 I have a special brand of pissed off for Eric. It’s time that boy understands some undeniable truths, and I’m not stepping out of his room until he is preaching the gospel of what I am about to say to him from the mountain tops. 

 

I push in his room and start with just his plain fucking disobedience,

 

“I hope listening to your best friend getting his ass chewed was worth it, because I told you not to leave this fucking room.”

 

I watch his face go white, God I’m tried of these kids thinking I’m stupid and I don’t know what the hell is going on in my house.

“You knew I was listening.” he says with awe and wonder. For some reason that is the final straw and I unload on my son.

 

“Damn it Eric! Why do you and your dumbass friends insist on believing I am not aware of what happens in my home. MY HOME! I am responsible for you and somewhere along the damn way I became responsible for the band of morons you call friends.”

 

Eric stares at me shocked, and for once in his life he keeps his smart mouth shut.

 

I take a deep breath, grab the chair at his desk, and I sit down facing him. This conversation is going to be ten times more uncomfortable than the talk I had with Steven. I would actually prefer to never talk about this with him, but it must be said.

 

“Eric, how long have you been in love with Jackie?

 

I watch his mouth drop open in utter shock and panic flood his face. He tries to compose his expression in a desperate attempt to hide his secret. He stutters out,

 

“Dad…. I don’t love Jackie.”

 

I level him with a stare, “Cut the crap Eric. If you can’t be honest with me, how are you going to survive your talk with Steven?”

 

He drops his head, and I say the same thing I said to Steven when we had our little chat,

 

“You raise your fucking head and you look at me.” 

 

Eric’s head flies up as well. It is almost comical. I yell at all of them on a regular basis, I don’t ever go at them like this. 

 

“Eric, you are in love with Jackie. I know it. You know it, and I guarantee Steven knows it. There is zero excuse for cheating on Jackie. God help him if he does it again, I’ll kill him and bury his body before he knows what hit him. Steven is rash, and he makes judgments quickly that are often unfair. This time something, or I am betting someone, pushed him off the cliff. I have a feeling that Jackie is the only one in this sob story that is innocent. What did you do?”

 

“Dad, I didn’t do anything.” Eric denies, lying straight to my face.

 

At least Steven owns up to the shit he fucks up. Nothing pisses me off more than being lied to.  I’m not letting my son be that breed of man who doesn’t own up to his mistakes. He is going to step up or by God…… I really am going to kick his ass. 

 

I stare at him dead in the eye “Bullshit Eric. Don’t lie to me. Your oldest friend in the world made the decision you and Jackie were sleeping together because he witnessed nothing?”

 

I fall silent, waiting for Eric to say something, but he remains silent and his eyes slip from mine. 

 

“Eric! Look at me! I’m going to say this one more time and if you don’t answer, I’m going to leave you to completely get the shit kicked out of you by Steven. What happened?"

 

I watch something come over Eric, an expression I see in the mirror daily but have never glimpsed in my son. I recognize rage waiting to be released. I can see him battle with the desire to scream. I wait for him to make the conscious choice to give into the fire inside of him. He explodes with frustrated anger, “What do you want me to say Dad? What the hell hasn’t gone down between Hyde and I the last few days? 

 

Do you want me to tell you that………...

We got in our first physical fight when he came back from realizing he had screwed a nurse for no reason? 

He put his fist through the glass on our basement door? 

I asked what happens one day when he hits Jackie?

Hyde looked like a punched him in the face when I said that?

Hyde heard me tell Jackie that he didn’t deserve her? 

He walked in on me breaking every code between brothers there is.  

He witnessed me rubbing my fingers down Jackie's back, not because I was worried about the bruise but because I was finally getting to touch her.

I  was about to kiss her neck 

After all that he stood in front of me and stopped Jackie from ripping my heart out. I know that Jackie will press him hard to tell her what is going on between him and I. I know without a doubt he won’t tell her. No matter how mad he is at me, he won’t break the promise we made all those years ago.”

I look at my son’s face that is weary and looks like he has aged ten years in the last 5 minutes.

“Jesus, Dad, what do you want me to say? That I’m in love with Jackie? Fine I love Jackie. I fucking love a woman I can never have and a woman my brother can’t live without.”

He falls heavily back on his bed. He drops his head into his hands, and speaks softly

 

“Hyde messed up big time but I let him down in every conceivable way. He might get over what he saw, but I don’t believe he will ever forgive me for saying he would hit Jackie. Even worse, it will eat at him that I think he doesn’t deserve her. It’s his weakest point, his belief that Jackie is too good for him. It won’t matter that I tell him different. None of it will matter, because he won’t forget any of it. The one person who might get him to let it go is the person who can never know what the problem is.”

I sigh heavily. It hurts to see Eric this way. Eric and Steven have been near inseparable since Kindergarten. Even before they were old enough to understand what brotherhood meant, they were completely loyal to each other. This is a major frisson in their friendship. I came in here with the idea that I would yell him into doing what is right, but there is more here than a mistake with a buddy’s girl. This is about the bond of friendship, and I find myself hurting for them both. 

He raises his head at him, and he looks like he is five years old again and believes I have all the answers. It’s been a long time since he has looked at me like that, it makes my heart clutch.

His eyes cloud and I can see he is desperately trying to hold back tears. His voice is rough with sadness as he gasps out,

 

“Am I going to lose my brother?”

 

I want to look away from that question but I’ve never been one to blink when harsh facts stare you in the face.

 

“Eric, I don’t believe Steven could ever turn away from you. Loyalty is important to him, and he won’t throw that away. He could have already torched your friendship by telling Jackie everything and if what you say is true, he won't do that. I don’t imagine even for Jackie he will let your friendship die. He is more sensible than that.”

 

Eric starts to laugh bitterly, “Then you don’t understand Hyde and how he reacts to Jackie. If push comes to shove, he will burn anyone or anything in his way if it involves his need for her."

 

He bows his head and begins to cry, heartbreaking sobs of regret. He cries out to me “Dad I really screwed up.”

 

I do the only thing I can, I sit on the bed, grab my son and hold him tight.




Chapter Text

Eric

 Somewhere along the way I never noticed how oppressive the silence in the basement can be. I am being suffocated by a room that until 3 days ago was my sanctuary. Now it holds memories I don’t want inside my head or heart. This room that could tell you a thousand stories of my friends and I growing up is now filled with heartbreaking consequences. I am sitting here waiting for Hyde. I know he knows I am here. Hyde took Jackie over to Kelso’s. I was surprised he was willing to do that. Hyde has never been fond of acknowledging Kelso and Jackie’s past relationship, but he needs someone to distract her. Kelso will do it for him easily. Neither of us said anything about having it out, but when Hyde came out of his room this morning, he looked at me and said,

 

“I’m taking Jackie to Kelso’s after breakfast. He is going to take the girls and Fez up to Kenosha for the day.” He just stared at me with that inscrutable face of his and trusted I knew what he was after.  I had immediately gone upstairs and asked Red to take my mother out of the house. I want no one here, and I know Hyde doesn't either. I both want him to hurry up but take his time getting back from dropping Jackie off. I want Hyde and I okay, but I don’t have a fucking clue what I am going to say to him. Where do I even start? Do I start with what he observed?

“Hey Hyde, sorry about the whole trying to kiss your girlfriend’s neck incident.”

or maybe I could open up with

“Listen, I know I said if you didn’t get your shit together, that you might hit Jackie but maybe we could just let that go.”

 

Or I guess I could just grow a pair and say

 

“I love your girlfriend.”

 

Being at odds with Hyde is worse than being at odds with Jackie. Hyde is my brother in every way but one, and that is blood. I love and care about him more than I do my own sister. It hurts to fight with Jackie. I loathe fighting with her. The fight the other night,  is one of two real fights we have actually had. Wouldn't you know it, both times we have gotten into it, we’ve fought about Hyde. I close my eyes thinking of the first fight. I should have realized then that I was in love with Jackie. Red’s right, I am a dumb ass.

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The Summer That Started It All

Jackie Beulah Burkhart is going to get her ass kicked is all I can think. I would add Hyde to the threat in my head but I know better than to even go there with him. If I say one word to him, about him and Jackie sneaking around all summer, he will kick my ass. Hyde may not have to explain himself to me, but Jackie sure as hell is going to. Jackie is like the sunrise, you can set your clock on her. She is going to waltz in the basement any moment.  As soon as the door opens to the basement I pounce. She isn’t even all the way in the door when I assault her with words.

 

“WHAT THE HELL JACKIE? You and Hyde? Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

I watch her eyes narrow, her cheeks redden and those pouty lips curl. 

 

“Hello to you to Jackass!” She snarls at me.

 

“Don’t start Jackie.  All summer you’ve been lying to me. All summer you’ve been messing around behind my back with Hyde. I want an explanation.” I snap at her angrily.

 

She walks up to me swiftly and kicks me as hard as she can.

 

“Damn it Jackie! What was that for?” I yell as I fall back on the couch in agony. I swear she has cement in her shoes. How does she kick that sharply for the love of God? 

 

“I don’t owe you a damn thing! What is going on between Steven and I is none of your damn business. If I wanted you to know I would have told you.”

 

Her casual dismissal of our friendship stings. I let her hear the hurt in my voice. “So now we don’t tell each other things? We keep secrets from each other? Why didn’t you tell me Jackie?”

 

I watch the fight go out of her. She plops next to me on the couch and sighs heavily.

 

“I didn’t tell you because I just wanted some time with him without all the drama. Eric, it won't matter that Kelso ran away from me and that we broke up. He is going to care that I’m with Steven. I didn’t want to hear your lectures. He’s all I’ve ever wanted. You know that.”

I do know that. She’s been in love with him since we were kids. As long as she’s been in love with him, she has been terrified to do anything about it. The one time she got the nerve, he rebuffed her pretty harshly. If Kelso believed he had Jackie’s whole heart then he really is the King of Stupid. He has been sharing space with Hyde for years, and that is why she always forgave him for cheating. She felt terrible because she believed she was unfaithful in her heart. If Hyde had given Jackie even a hint, she would have abandoned Kelso without a second thought. 

 

“I know that Jackie. I also know that you are in love with him. This is Hyde we are talking about. He doesn't date, he has flings. Are you prepared if he doesn't want anything serious? Hyde is my best friend and I love him like a brother, so I say this not to be a jerk but as someone who knows him better than anyone else…. He is going to break your heart, Jackie. He doesn’t love you.”

 

I watch her face go white, and her eyes start to fill. “Then you don’t know him as well as you imagine. You don’t know how he is with me when none of you dumbasses are watching.”

I sigh. “Devil….I don’t want to see him break you.”

 

“It’s my heart to risk Eric. For him, I’ll risk anything.”

 

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Now

I am shaken from the past by the basement door opening, and there he is. For a guy who claims to be Zen and simple, he is incredibly complicated, and I’m about to find out how deep that complication goes. 

It’s finally just us, but unseen is the spectator of Jackie. Through this whole hellish nightmare, there has been one recurring theme, who would Jackie pick if push came to shove “Him or me.” I don’t know the answer but as I look into those grim and barren eyes, I do know one thing…… He would pick Jackie over any of us. The depth of his feelings for her are more than I gave him credit for, and he won’t give her up. He was a fool. He knows it, but Hyde has always been a brawler and I know he will destroy anyone who is in his way when it comes to Jackie. I can only pray I’m not someone he thinks he needs to destroy to get to her….. Ever. 

 

Hyde can be such a dick and this time is no different. He won’t start this conversation. He could stand here all day and stare me down. It’s up to me to be the bigger person. A Hyde who thinks he has been wronged cannot be budged. I take a steadying breath and think to myself “Here we go.”

 

“Jackie, told me you refused to tell her what the problem was between us. Even at the price of her possibly not taking you back. Before anything else gets said, I want to tell you how much I appreciate you not telling her and getting her to back off the other night” 

 

I watch him take in the words. I am surprised they appear to piss him off. I guess I thought if I acknowledged what he was willing to give up for me and how much it meant, we could start on a more positive note. I was one hundred percent wrong. The expression on his face is one of anger and hurt. I’m not surprised when he finally opens his mouth that his tone and words are harsh.

 

“That’s what you are going to start with? Are you fucking kidding me? Hyde snarls

 

I am a pretty even tempered person, but the disdain dripping in his voice puts me on edge. This is a quality I have always found annoying in Hyde. He can make himself the person wronged faster than anyone I know, even if he started whatever the issue is. 

 

“What the Hell is that supposed to mean? You aren’t innocent in this parade of shit. How would you have liked me to start?” I bark back.

 

His face is constructed of stone, but his eyes are blazing and my comment merely dumps gasoline on the fire. He lets go of the tenuous control on his temper without hesitation and explodes.

 

“How about you are sorry for fucking feeling up my girlfriend? How about Hey Hyde , I lost my Goddamn Mind and traced my fingers down your girl’s back like a lover? Or I know you saw me about to kiss the woman you want more than anything in the world on the most intimate part of her neck? PERHAPS YOU COULD FUCKING START WITH THAT!”

 

His words wash over me like shards of glass being raked over my skin. Each raging question of contempt can’t be denied. I did all those things. I didn’t think of our friendship. All I thought about in that moment was getting the chance to finally touch Jackie. 

 

“I fucked up Eric. I screwed up in the worst way possible. I can’t ever take back cheating on Jackie. I can’t ever make right letting you and your so OVER THE LINE ACTIONS with my girlfriend drive me to not trust her, but I wasn’t totally wrong. You weren’t touching her like you were due to the bruise and you sure as hell weren’t going to kiss her neck because of it either. Even worse, you had the nerve to lecture me about not trusting you. You betrayed me Forman.”

 

I’m struggling with the reality of my actions, that not only did I break a huge boundary with Hyde, I broke one with Jackie. She just doesn't know it, and Hyde will never be able to really explain his reaction without giving me up. He could give me up. It would solve many of his problems. I’m about to ask him why he didn’t throw me under the bus when he continues on his tirade.

 

“I don’t know what pisses me off more. You being so far over the line that you don’t even remember what the line looks like or the fact that you think I would hit Jackie. Or that you think I don’t deserve Jackie. You never have and you never will. Don’t even bother to deny it.”

 

“Damn it Hyde. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for it all. I don’t believe you would hit Jackie. I was mad. I was mad you screwed someone else. I was mad Jackie was heartbroken. Damn it Hyde, if this had been Kelso and Jackie you would have been seething. On top of all that you scare the crap out of me when you lose your temper. I don’t want you to do something that you can’t take back one day.”

 

I watch his eyes start to flare again. I can see he assumes I mean hurting her. 

 

“I don’t mean hit her, but that doesn't mean you won’t scare the hell out of her or end up in jail because you killed someone in a fit of rage. Your temper is out of control and you are unreasonable when it comes to Jackie.”

 

He says nothing. His eyes and face are completely shut down. All I can see is frozen fury. Before he can interrupt the silence, I break it myself.

 

“If I am that shit of a friend, why didn’t you tell Jackie everything? You could make sure she never talked to me again. Why? You’ve stepped in front of me twice now……. I don’t understand.”

 

His face cracks briefly and I understand why.  I recognize the pact we made long ago. We don’t nark. We don’t take one of us down to save ourselves. None of us have ever broken the pact. Not Kelso. Not Me and even at his own peril, Not Hyde.  

 

Steven Hyde is many things, but he is loyal. I’ve wondered a million times if his years of aloofness with Jackie was his way of keeping her at a distance while she was with Kelso. We gave him a ton of shit for being with Jackie after Kelso left, but the truth of the matter is he didn’t do anything wrong.

 

I realize he hasn’t answered. I ask again. “You could have said screw the pact. You could have gotten the perfect revenge. Why Hyde?”

 

Just when I think this can’t get more uncomfortable Hyde decides to actually be open with his feelings.  “Do you think so little of me? Fuck You Forman. I would never tell Jackie how you feel when you barely know it yourself. As much as I loathe your no boundaries friendship, I won’t take it away from her. If she knew all this, it would ruin her comfort level with you. No matter how mad I am at you. I wouldn’t do it. I’ll never do it. Besides, we made a pact.”

 

 I can’t look at him. I shut my eyes tightly. All I can hear in my head is “How you feel.”   I knew he knew, but I was holding desperately to the fraying string of denial that he might not. There is no side stepping it anymore.

 

“How long have you known?”

 

Without a trace of emotion in his voice he replies, “I’ve known for years.”

 

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Hyde

 

“How long have you known?”

 

My heart is pounding. “How long have you known?” A hundred moments of proof rush through my head.

 

The way he closes his eyes when he hugs her

The way he touches her, with reverence and want.

The way he inhales her scent when she is close to him

 

My voice is dead when I reply, “I’ve known for years.” Forman's face goes pale and his eyes slide away. 

 

“How could you know something that I finally just admitted to myself?”

 

I roll my eyes at him. “Come on Forman, we’ve been friends forever. How you are with Jackie isn’t normal. I don’t know how Donna stands it. Besides, it is not hard to recognize what I feel myself. You aren’t the only one who has loved her for years. It took everything I am not to cross the line when she was with Kelso. More than that, I didn’t want to get in the way if she wanted you.”

 

I watch a bitterness wash over him as he quietly whispers out, “You never had to worry about that. She’s wanted you for years. She has been in love with you since Jr. High and then when Prom happened she was lost completely to you.”

 

I can’t help but soak in his words. I experience something breaking open inside of me. To know she has loved me just as long as I’ve loved her makes me feel like a million bucks. He interrupts my momentary joy with a whiplash of bitterness.

 

“You think it is intolerable to watch me be in love with her. Well, try listening to her cry over you for years, hope for you, and have her heart broken time and time again. That wasn’t a picnic either.”

 

Whatever rage was dissipated by the revelation that Jackie has loved me for years evaporates instantly at his words. 

 

“Are you kidding me? You are pissed Jackie loves me and you have to listen to it? You could have made a move anytime. I sure as hell wasn’t stopping you. It’s not the same thing. I’m not letting you shift this on me. I would have never done what you did to me. I can’t ever tell Jackie why I got so mad without ruining your relationship. More so, what type of brother says the things you said about me to Jackie?”

 

“Hyde, you of all people should understand saying things in the heat of the moment. Yes, I said you didn’t deserve her. I know I implied she was stupid for taking you back, but damn it Hyde, cut me some slack… I was worried sick about her. She had gone through hell with her parents and you, then she up and disappears with Kelso. To top it off I find her strolling out of your room in the middle of the damn night. I was out of my mind.”

 

I’m done with this bullshit. He is completely ignoring the cornerstone of the issue. God! At least I can admit how fucking stupid I was. 

 

“Are you going to actually apologize at any point for what started all this or are you going to continue to ignore the fact that you were caressing my girlfriend and getting off on it? Forman you were going to kiss her in a way that I do. The rest of it is secondary to watching a man I call my brother touching the woman I love.”

 

His face pales. I recognize the regret. I truly don’t know if he is sorry that he did it or sorry he got caught.  I don’t know what else there is to say, but I want to make one thing clear. Something he better take as gospel truth, or he will regret it until he dies.

 

“You are right, I don’t deserve her. None of us deserve Jackie, least of all me. I know it, but you better understand this… I don’t care. She’s mine and I’m never giving her up. If I ever see you touch her like that again….. I’ll kill you. Are we clear?”

 

I’ve stunned him. His face is horrified by my threat. The fact is, it is not a threat, it is a promise. We have solved nothing with this conversation. I don’t know what I was hoping for, but all this did was kick up more dust. I’m exhausted. I don’t want to fight with him, but I feel like there is an abyss between us and I don’t know how to cross it. We stare at each other for a long time, but finally he breaks.

 

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. For a second, I forgot that it was impossible and I wanted so badly to touch her one time. I don’t want to love Jackie, Hyde. I would give anything to not want her. Who wants to love a woman who will never feel the same? I was wrong. I broke every code there is between brothers. There was nothing innocent about it. I’m right there with you in the fucked up column. Just like you cheating….. I’ll never be able to take it back. I screwed up. I’m sorry.”

 

It doesn’t fix anything, but I can hear he really is sorry. I don’t know what to say. True to my nature I give him a nod in acknowledgement but then I decide that is dickish even for me.

 

“Thank You. I don’t know if it fixes anything, but I appreciate the apology. I don't know what else to say, maybe we should just leave the rest for now.” I start to walk away to my room. I need to process this all before I can consider the next step.

 

“Hyde?” I don’t turn around but I do reply “Yeah?” 

 

“It’s not true what I said, you do deserve her. What you did for her….the action you took to save her….. It was impressive. You didn’t let anything stop you from protecting her. You could have made sure that Jackie was never totally herself with me again. You could have won but you didn’t. You put yourself in front of me for the millionth time. You are and always will be the better man. You deserve every part of Jackie, and I’ll be sorry till I die for what I did.”

 

I’m shocked. My heart wants to explode. All this is too much for me. For a guy who has spent most of his life repressing his emotions in public, these last few days have been hellish. To hear that he thinks I’m the better man starts to soothe the hurt, but I won’t lie to him.

 

Without turning around, I say back “I appreciate that. We aren’t okay right now, but Forman…… we will be.” With that I step into my room and close the door.