Title: He Let Her Go

Disclaimer: Don't own, ain't getting paid

Pairing: J/H

Summary: Set during and after the Season 7 episode "Don't Lie to Me" when J & H break up – what if Jackie had held strong to her convictions? Spoilerish regarding Eric in Chapter 6.

"Please, Steven, just give me some glimmer of hope that you think we could end up together," Jackie pleaded, eyes shiny with unshed tears.

Hyde felt an unfamiliar tightness in his throat at the pain he saw in her face but he could not give her what she wanted. How likely was it that he, Point Place's most badass delinquent would ever end up with the spoiled cheerleader Jackie Burkhart? "I don't know" he replied quietly. He braced himself for the inevitable argument and tear storm, which would inevitably end with either a slammed door and/or torrid make up sex.

However, Jackie's reaction unnerved him more than any tantrum ever could. She replied quietly "Then I can't be with you".

"Jackie, don't threaten me," Hyde retaliated. After all, this was just another one of her battle tactics to worm her way more completely and irrevocably into his life and his heart, right? She had already taken too much ground, putting him at serious risk of vulnerability but he would be damned if he would let his happiness depend on the smile in her mismatched eyes. He refused to admit that maybe he had lost that fight long ago.

"Steven, I'm not," Jackie choked. So this is what its like to have your heart and your dreams shatter simultaneously, she thought numbly. She looked sadly at the man she had loved, manipulated, fought with and learned from in the last two years and gathered together all the strength he had given her. "Well, at least now I know," she said, and there was some relief in finally facing the truth that he would never want the same things from life that she did. At least now she could stop putting her life on hold, waiting for him to change. Goodbye, she thought as she turned around and walked out the door.

Jackie tossed her green and yellow beanie onto her bureau with a tired sigh and raked a hand through her perfect tresses, a huge no-no to her hair regime but her distress trumped years of devotion to hair care. She had just returned from the football game which she had attended for the sole purpose of making Steven deeply regret ever letting her go and to demonstrate how completely indifferent she now was to him. After all, this was the proper course to follow when you broke up with someone and a sure-fire method of exorcising him from your heart. However, it had backfired badly on her; her studied nonchalance was no match for his laid-back zen. In fact, he had been most convincing at ignoring her – perhaps he truly was unaffected by their break up? Perhaps he had always considered a girl friend to be a useful accessory for when you wanted to make out or needed some company, but in the long run an expendable item. It would explain why he had refused to advance further than their teenage lust relationship, why he had resisted her prodding into a more mature relationship. Perhaps came an insecure voice inside of her you just aren't lovable. No, she countered forcefully, I'm Jackie Burkhart – everyone loves me. What about your parents? Even they never really loved you – they loved themselves a lot more replied that annoying inner voice.

Just then Jackie's phone rang and she leaped to answer it – this was one internal dialogue she did not want to have.

"Hello?"

"Jaclyn dear! How are you?" inquired a familiar elderly voice.

"Grandmother?" Jackie gasped.