And as I gently sip this drink,
I think about my lack of future
"You don't remember? We got married!"
Hyde had been a lot of things in his life that he'd never expected to be. A cheerleader's boyfriend. Part of a real family. An honest, and marginally successful, businessman. In fact, it seemed like every time his life had taken one of its frequent yet unforeseen turns, it had worked out for the best.
But this ... the announcement that echoed in his head, the words he knew were true but somehow couldn't believe ... he had no idea how it could possibly turn into something good. He was married. To a stripper whose last name was as much of a mystery to him as how he'd ended up her husband.
He didn't remember his own wedding. He couldn't even fathom how he'd gone from bitterly toasting Jackie's infidelity at every bar along the Strip to saying 'I do' to a complete stranger.
And now she was here. Standing on the doorstep with a suitcase and a smile, invading a life she knew nothing about, barging into his home as if she were actually wanted. Wonder-freakin'-ful.
The entire room had been stunned into silence for all of two seconds before Jackie's trademark "Oh, my God!" snapped them all back into action. Wincing, both Hyde and Kitty braced themselves for the imminent explosion while Sam looked on unsuspectingly.
Knowing that everyone was waiting for the blowup, Jackie kept her mouth stubbornly clamped shut. No way was she going to give Steven Hyde the satisfaction of breaking down in front of him. Instead, she hurried out of the house, careful to keep her nose in the air as she bushed past him.
Hyde stood, rooted in place, as Jackie beat her hasty retreat. He wanted nothing more than to reach out and touch her shoulder, make her turn around and see that this was all just a terrible misunderstanding. But the sinking feeling in his gut told him that making her see reason would be damn near impossible, especially with his wife - his wife - standing two feet away.
Luckily for him, Kitty recovered with admirable speed. Ever the welcoming housewife, she clicked off her tape recorder, introduced herself, and ushered Sam into the kitchen with the promise of milk and cookies. Hyde, for his part, retreated to the basement to process this new turn of events and hid there uninterrupted for so long that he'd almost convinced himself Sam's arrival had been a dream, some messed up combination of drugs and lack of sleep.
"Steven?" So much for that theory, he thought grimly, as the very problem he'd been avoiding appeared before him in a short skirt that got a whole lot shorter when she perched on the coffee table and crossed her legs. "Kitty said you'd be down here. She's a kick, huh? You were lucky to have a mom like her while you were growing up."
"She's not my mom," he said, but the denial felt wrong somehow. "I mean, she kind of is, but ... I didn't have a mom. When I was younger. I mean, I did, obviously, but ..."
This was hard. There was a reason Hyde had never sought out any new relationships in all his years of knowing the gang. Why go through the trouble of explaining yourself to people when you could stick with the ones who already knew you inside and out?
"Anyway," he ended his own rambling and cleared his throat, wishing he could do the same to his head. "You found me. Here. In Point Place. Why?"
"Baby!" She laughed heartily, which did nice things for her already excellent rack. "We're married. Married people live together. Besides, the scene in Vegas slows way down this time of year. I needed a change of pace."
"I see. Man, I can't believe we're really married." Hyde shook his head, peering at her over his sunglasses. "Do you remember whose idea it was?"
"I think it was the priest's," she brushed off with a shrug. "He probably just needed the business. Do you have anything to drink around here?"
"Beer's in the cooler," he directed, motioning vaguely with his hand. To his surprise, she sauntered back with two and popped both tabs before handing one to him. "Thanks."
"No problem, hubby," she said with a wink, and stretched out on the couch in a very flexible position. "That's what I'm here for."
And even though her voice was filled with promise, Hyde didn't feel any better. Sitting in the basement with someone so unfamiliar, all of his other friends scattered across the map, Jackie - his one constant over the past couple years - nowhere to be found, felt wrong, like an ending. His whole world was changing again, the future he'd envisioned for himself rapidly dissolving.
Life as he knew it was over.
Jackie didn't know what to do with herself. She'd been crying for a record three hours straight - huge, body-wracking sobs that actually hurt. But she couldn't seem to stop. Every time she started to regain some control, the words slammed into her head again with the force of a sledgehammer.
"You don't remember? We got married!"
The meaning of those words, the heavy weight of them on her shoulders, had yet to fully sink in. Steven was married. Her Steven. The one who had shaved his beloved beard just to make her smile, who'd taught her Zen, who was smart and sarcastic and, underneath the ratty band t-shirts, everything she'd ever dreamed of.
"Jackie?" Donna's voice was low, subdued. Her arms were filled with a box of pizza and a case of beer. It was obvious she'd heard the news. "How're you doing?"
"I'm just peachy, Donna," she responded, angry at the way her voice cracked on the last syllable. "I take it you've seen the happy couple?"
Donna exhaled heavily and cleared a space amidst the stuffed animals so that she could sink onto the mattress beside her friend. "I stopped by the Forman's to pick up some stuff Eric wanted. Kitty told me. It's like something out of the Twilight Zone, huh?"
"It's like everything's backwards now," Jackie agreed, still sniffling. "I mean, stupid, immature Kelso's off in Chicago raising a kid. Eric, who was always so scared of everything, is in Africa, of all places. Steven's married. Steven. Who can't even commit to daylight without the added protection of his sunglasses. I mean, even you, Donna - you're blonde now. Why, by the way?"
"You don't like it?" One hand raised automatically to the newly colored coif. "Is it too much?"
Jackie shrugged listlessly. "No, it's fine, it looks fine."
Donna paused. That wasn't a good sign. Jackie being indifferent to a new style meant something was severely wrong. On any normal day, she would either exclaim delightedly about Donna finally showing signs of being a girl or belittle her mercilessly for a botched attempt. "Jackie ... I know it's crazy, and sudden, and ... wrong, in an awful lot of ways. But maybe this thing with Hyde is for the better. I mean, now you can go to Chicago, take that dream job of yours."
"Ha!" Jackie spat out bitterly. "Don't you get it, Donna? There's no more job. I gave it up. Quit to come back here and work things out with Steven. Good thing, too, huh? If I hadn't, he might've done something really stupid. He might've really screwed up any chance we had of getting back together."
She was crying again, try as she might to hold it in, and she wasn't even bothering to hide her mascara-streaked face. Donna bit her lip. This was serious. It called for ... beer. And lots of it. "Okay, here, have this, you need it" she instructed, handing Jackie a cold can and racked her brain for what else she could do.
"I can't -" Jackie hiccupped, sniffled, and started again. "I can't open it. My nails."
Donna bit back a sigh of relief. There was the Jackie she knew. "Here, lemme do it," she griped, popping the tab and offering it again.
Jackie stared at the can, her eyes filling with new tears. "Steven always used to do it for me," she managed to explain before they spilled over and they were right back where they'd started.
"Jackie, calm down, breathe, okay?" Donna was officially at a loss. Who'd ever heard of anyone going into hysterics over a soda can? "It's gonna be fine."
"No! No, it's not gonna be fine, Donna," Jackie glared. "My entire life is ruined. Can't you get that? I thought ... I thought that since Hyde went to Chicago to propose to me, there was still hope. I thought we'd work everything out, the whole mess with Kelso and everything else. I thought we'd be happy.
"And now ..." she sighed heavily, a defeated sound that Donna had never heard Jackie utter in all their years of friendship. "Now it's all over, I guess. I've got no boyfriend, no job, and no future. I'm doomed."
Her life - the one she'd worked so hard for, the one she'd been so blessed with - was over.