Breaking Free

By: Ereye

Summary: Along the same lines as the current popular trend of "Jackie leaves and comes back years later," only I don't want them to have to wait so long. And she won't be pregnant. But there's heartache, growing up, angst and, eventually, mushiness. What more can people want?

Disclaimer: Don't own it.

Chapter 10: New beginnings

The ceremony was as beautiful as Kitty could've hoped. Donna was radiant; Eric didn't screw up once; Kelso didn't do anything idiotic.

Hyde didn't notice any of it.

He was on autopilot, offering the ring when his best man duties required it, but all he could really think about was last night – and the best kiss he ever had.

It was at the same time passionate and sweet, soft and deep. It was perfect – until she pushed him away.

Even now, the pain squeezed at his insides as he remembered her rushing back toward the house.

"Don't you love me anymore?" His voice was strangled with fear.

She stopped but wouldn't turn to look at him.

"Of course I do." Hyde could tell she was about to cry again. "I'll always love you."

"Then what is this about? Mark?"

"No." Jackie shook her head and reached up to swipe at her tears. "No, I'm not going to marry Mark."


"I can't!" she choked out. "I just can't. Don't you know it will always be you and me? There's no one else for me." She drew in a shaky breath. "I can't do this again. I couldn't handle it ending again."

She finally turned to look at him, tears streaming down her face and causing her mascara to darken her cheeks.

"I love you, Steven, but I'm scared. I'm scared that maybe we really aren't meant to be together."

He reached out and called her name, but she was already walking away from him. Again.

And now Hyde had to act – no, be – happy for his best friends. How come they were able to survive all their hardships and break-ups? Why was their love enough?

He risked a glance over at her, heart breaking and soaring as he watched her smile at Donna and Eric.

At least Mark wasn't here. Eric told him that Donna said Jackie sent him home the night before – with his engagement ring.

That thought didn't make him as happy as he thought it would. Maybe because he wanted her to be happy, even if he couldn't be the one.

But why couldn't he?

The reception was small but fun. Eric had been taking lessons from Kitty – and a little from Hyde, who still remembered his own dancing woes – and spun Donna around the floor.

Now, others joined them as the DJ chose a faster song. Jackie and Fez went out together, just as good now as they've always been, and Hyde envied the ease with which they moved together even after years of silence.

A slow song took over again, and Fez gathered Jackie into his arms. Hyde watched, not noticing the bride sidling up next to him.

"Don't give up yet," she whispered. He jumped and turned to look at her. She winked.

"She doesn't want to be with me, Donna."

"Of course, she does. She's just scared. You need to give her a reason not to be."

The blushing bride went in search of her husband, while Hyde's eyes snapped back to Jackie like a paperclip to a magnet.

He thought about her, about the last two years, about the future stretching out in front of him, about his parents and the Formans, of love and friendship. All his doubts and fears chased each other in his head until he felt dizzy.

But Jackie was his anchor – watching her grounded him, calmed his mind, quieted his fears and soothed his nausea.

He drifted toward her and Fez, weaving among dancers he didn't really see.

"Can I cut in?" Fez backed away a smile as Jackie looked at Hyde with panic in her eyes, but yet she came willingly into his arms. They started dancing.

He pulled her closer and put his mouth next to her ear. He heard her gasp and felt her tense as his breath tickled her neck hairs.

"I know you're scared, and I understand why. I'm sorry for the last couple years, and for the way I treated you. I'm sorry I was afraid to be the man you wanted. I don't know if I can be that man, but I want to try. I want to spend my life trying. I know we've hurt each other – too many times to count – but being without you hurts worse than that."

He pulled back to look her in the eyes again. "Will you marry me, Jackie?'

She smiled and then put her mouth to his ear. "I've been waiting a long time to hear that, Steven, and I can't believe I'm going to say this – but no, not yet. We're not ready for that yet."

Hyde sighed, even as he acknowledged she was right.

"But I'm willing to see if we could be ready for that someday."

He grinned so wide his cheeks ached, but he grew confused as her smile faded.

"However, I – my life – I mean."

He understood now and put a finger to her lips. "I'll make my life anywhere you want me to. I hear Minneapolis is … a lot like Wisconsin this time of year."

"You would do that?"

"You were going to do it for me. It's the least I could do."

Tears started falling from Jackie's eyes again. She couldn't count how many times she had cried on this trip, but for the first time they were tears of happiness. Hyde wiped one tear away with his thumb and pulled her in again for a kiss.

He realized that, unlike last night, this was the perfect kiss – one of love, forgiveness and promise.


Donna and Eric watched from the head table as their two best friends reunited.

"I knew those two crazy kids would end up together," Eric said in his "fatherly" voice as he slung his arm around his wife's shoulders.

"Yep," Donna said as she snuggled in. "All they needed was a little push."

The End

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