A/N: I, like many Zennies, am disappointed with this final season. I haven't been watching, but I have been keeping up with spoilers. So this fiction contains spoilers through that season. Hope I make you other Zennies proud!
Disclaimer: I own nothing. NOTHING.
Running away from problems usually doesn't solve anything. But for Jackie Burkhart, it seemed to solve everything. After she graduated from high school, she took a year off that was pretty horrible. For one thing, she didn't have the glorious job she wanted. For another, she wasn't getting along with her mother, which wasn't new. And most of all, she was in love with a married man. And it was all her fault.
She and Steven Hyde were very much in love, but their relationship was tumultuous. When it was good, it was really really good, but when it was bad… It was very hard to deal with it. They were kids, and they were both extremely stubborn. Her worst mistake was assuming he didn't want to marry her. Because as it turned out, he did, he just didn't know how to admit it. Again, stubborn. And she had hurt him, even though she didn't go through with what it was that hurt. Long story short, he married a stripper in Vegas. Not his true love, and Jackie was crushed. But instead of talking about it like two adults, they fought like cats and dogs. She had tried so hard to be civil, to try and forgive him and remain his friend, but it didn't work. Sure, she had other friends, but it eventually got too hard to stay in Point Place. The breaking point was a terse exchange between her and Steven at Kitty Foreman's 1979 Christmas party.
Jackie had been hanging out with Donna, Fez, and Eric that night, and Steven and Sam (his quasi wife) were being pretty grabby in a corner of the room. It was especially obnoxious because Sam had LEFT but come back. Her first husband had come to get her, and she left willingly… But then she came back for some unknown reason. And Jackie and Fez had tried going out for a little bit, but it didn't work out. She still had feelings for Hyde. So at the party, Sam and Hyde were having a nice 'reunion' makeout session. Jackie did her best to ignore it, but Kitty's eggnog was hard eggnog, and liquor never helped angry feelings. Jackie wasn't the one who started it. It was Kitty, who in a tipsy state, said something about how she wished Jackie had been living in the house instead of 'that stripper from Vegas'. And that set off resentment that Hyde couldn't take out on Kitty, so he took it out on Jackie instead. He accused her of manipulating people into hating Sam, because she was jealous and spiteful, and immature. In front of everyone. She yelled back saying that she had nothing to do with any of it, and that he shouldn't blame her. And then he said something that cut her to the core.
'You're still just that pathetic cheerleader who expects people to do things for her! When will you just grow up?'
'Steven, how can you say that! You're the one who told Fez to dye my hair GREEN! You never used to be this horrible to me, even when we hated each other when I was with Michael! Why does it change now? Doesn't the fact that we used to love each other change your nastiness!'
'Jackie, it hasn't changed, because I never loved you!'
'…. That's not true.'
'Sorry, doll, but it is true. You were the lay I needed. When you got uppity, I moved on. I. Never. Loved you.' Though the words knocked the wind out of her, she had enough strength to slap him across the face, and left the party, feeling less than merry. Donna had followed.
'Jackie, wait up! Come on, are you going to walk home?' she called, and Jackie kept walking through the snow. Donna caught up (damn her long legs). 'Jackie, let's talk about this.'
'I don't want to talk about it! I am through being humiliated and having my heart ripped up into tiny pieces while everyone sits by idly and acts like nothing happened!' she exclaimed. 'I just want to be left alone! Let me have one Christmas where I can just be left alone!'
'I want all of you to leave me alone!' she exclaimed, trudging and crying. She was sick of being seen as the little naïve princess, when her life was pretty hard too. She was sick of everyone in town knowing about her humiliation. Sick of everyone pitying her because of her Dad's time in prison, and her reckless Mom. She was sick of Point Place. And that night, she made a decision.
She had started that decision process earlier that winter. She applied for a few schools around the country, seeing where she could get in, just for giggles and an ego boost. But now it seemed like the only choice. She was going to college. She never thought she'd go to college, she was always the girl who was going to find a husband and live a life of quiet happiness. But she didn't want that anymore. She wanted to prove all of them wrong. She was not that cheerleader anymore, and if she was, she wouldn't be for long. But just going to Madison wouldn't be enough. She applied to New York University. She loved New York City, and she had the grades and the schmoozing skills to get in. And she had a grandfather who went there, and if they heard that William Burkhart's granddaughter wanted to go, she knew that they would accept her. He was, after all, a huge donor to NYU.
The time she waited to hear from NYU was hard. She had moved out of Fez's apartment and back home with her mother, trying to get away from her friends. If she could even call them friends anymore. She still talked to Donna, and sometimes Eric, but it was weird because it was never in the basement anymore. And resented it. And when Jackie got the acceptance letter, she was so excited that she was going to show all of them that Jackie Burkhart could be more than they ever expected.