HTH - THE FINALE

Chapter 26: The End (part II)/ Danny's Last Chance

A/N: I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who read and reviewed, especially those of you who stuck with me to the end. It's been a blast hanging out with you guys this summer. For this chapter I decided to use dates, but I did the research and came to the conclusion that the episode "Winter" happened in December 1980, so I went with that. I know it'll be a little hard to accept but it's not our fault that the creators had no forethought. This is a really, really long chapter and I almost split it up but I decided just to end it. So go potty. Thank you for reading. Muah! You guys rock!

And so here it is, the finale to Highway through Hell (and yeah, I went there...)...

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Point Place, Wisconsin: Forman Basement - Hyde's Room

Christmas Eve 1980

"Steven, you have to get up!" Hyde opened his eyes to find a girl with frizzy white hair and glittering cheekbones pressing her forehead flush against his. She stared at him with wide eyes as she wiggled her nose. "Boo." Then, she giggled at the sight of Hyde jumping back against his dresser, knocking everything on top to the floor.

"Holy crap lady!"

The girl rocked back and forth, hugging herself as she laughed hysterically. "Oh. I love that part!"

Hyde settled into his new position against his dresser, confused as his eyes looked this girl up and down. She looked like Cinderella on a five day coke bender. Then he relaxed, realizing what was going on. "Oh, yeah. Hey, Kelso's not here. He left already."

The twitchy girl bounced toward Hyde, flipping her fluffy white dress up around her waist as she sat down next to him. "Oh, I'm not here to see Michael, I'm here to see you, silly."

Hyde sized her up once again. "I don't know, you don't look skanky enough to be one of Laurie's friends."

She pooched out her bottom lip and cooed. "Oh, thank you Steven."

"You're welcome," Hyde said, suspicious in tone. She reminded him of someone. "Are you one of Jackie's dizzy cheerleader friends? Did she send you here?"

"No. But I am here about Jackie."

"I knew it."

She gave him a playful slap on the leg and Hyde inched away. "You probably shouldn't be doing that."

"Why not?"

"Because I have a girlfr.."

"A girlfriend?" she interrupted. "No you don't. And do you know why? Because you're an inconsiderate, selfish, stripper loving ass!"

Hyde frowned at her sudden tone. "Hey I don't know who the fuck you think.."

"Oh no no no. I do the talking now! I've been watching you screw up my work for long enough and now I speak! Do you know how many times we have been through this? I mean we have never personally met but I've done everything in my power to make this right. I sent Michael to California with Donna, I kept him back, I kept Eric back, Oh, I even sent that letter from your mother, and you know what, I thought I had gotten it right this time. I mean, nothing could seem bad after the whole Las Vegas stripper incident..."

"Uh huh," Hyde slowly stood as the frizzy haired girl rambled on about road trips, nurses, and skanks in leather jackets. "Sure, oh yeah, nurses are scum," he said, placating her as he nonchalantly pushed her toward the door. She continued her incessant rambling as Hyde gave her a few more 'uh huh's and finally pushed her out the door, and slammed it in her face.

Hyde rubbed his tired eyes with one hand, using the other to lean himself up against the door. He was either going to have to kill Kelso, Laurie or Jackie in the morning for sending that annoying broad his direction. He couldn't imagine, though, that Jackie would send such a cute girl to his room, so it had to be Kelso trying to burn him by getting him busted with Jackie. "Fucking Kelso," Hyde murmured as he spun around to head back to his bed.

And there she was again. "Oh! Crap! God! Quit doing that!" Hyde was fed up. "WHO ARE YOU?"

She folded her arms, livid with him as well. "My name is Glenda and I'm done playing. I don't have time for this."

Hyde chuckled. "Glenda? Like as in the 'good witch?' That was the best you and Kelso could up with? Whatever," he said, pushing past her. "You wanna sit here while I go to sleep then go ahead." He laid down and Glenda continued pacing and talking as if they had never missed a beat.

"Ok. So here's the deal. This is our last chance. We've changed the scenario three times and well, we're out of chances, and I have no choice. So, Steven Hyde, consider me your Christmas past tonight. The others will come for you later. Now.. We have exactly.."

Hyde sighed and rolled his eyes as Glenda nervously looked at her watch. Who the hell did he piss off to deserve this? Or ..maybe, he was already asleep and dreaming this whole thing. Yeah, that had to be it. He had watched one too many Christmas specials about cosmic interventions tonight, although, he didn't remember watching the Wizard of Oz. Huh. Whatever, he was sure this couldn't last much longer. "So uh, angels have to use watches?" Hyde said, smirking like the grade A smart that he was.

She lifted her eyes up long enough to throw him a dirty look and then returned to her watch. "..til ten o'clock tomorrow morning, so that leaves us less than 12 hours to fix this mess that you've created."

"What happens in twelve hours?"

"Well, not to sound too apocalyptic but someone is going to lose their life if you don't come to your senses and stop being so stubborn. You need to get back with Jackie, Steven. Not just because you're supposed to be but because the things you do affect other people's lives, too, and well, fate can only do so much. Seems we can't interfere with free will and that's where the problem lies. With you. You're the only fixed variable in every scenario. It's always you who won't change, although, you came really close this time and I have to admit I'm a little proud of you. But you're slipping back into your old habits and I don't know what else to do, so..." Glenda closed her eyes and grabbed Hyde's arm tightly. "So you are going to change whether you like it or not...

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Christmas Eve 1959

Hyde blinked and found himself standing dead center in the kitchen of his childhood home. The memory of this place was just as vivid as the vision before him and he looked at the girl who made it happen. "How did you do that?"

Glenda smiled. "That's not important. Just watch."

While he was still soaking in the sounds and smells of his childhood home, Hyde felt a subtle breeze brush past him as a young woman swept into the kitchen with two large plates. "I'll get them," she sang, placing the plates down on the counter. The sound of her voice and the smell of her perfume brought him all the way home. But Hyde took a step forward to be sure, studying her profile carefully. Then awe struck him. Yep, she was definitely his mother, except her hair was a little longer and her skin a little younger. She couldn't have been more than, he added in his head, twenty. His age now. So that was it. Time hadn't yet cast its spell on her.

She bit back her bottom lip as she swung open a cabinet door and stretched her arm up using her tippy toes. "Hey Bud, where's those plates your mom gave us, with the snowmen on them?"

Hyde's father came rushing in past him. "Edna! Stop. You shouldn't be reaching like that. That book says it's not good for the baby." Edna turned around and smiled, and Hyde couldn't get over how happy she looked. Her eyes had a sparkle about them and her skin glowed, and it was at that moment that he noticed the bump around her mid-section. It was a baby bump. It was him.

Edna gently stroked Bud's cheek, teasing him charmingly. "Oh Bud, you're sweet, but I think that only matters when you're very, very pregnant. I'm barely six months along."

Bud was adamant. "No. It said no reaching at all. No lifting. Nothing." His hands stroked at her belly as he kissed her gently. "Promise me, Edna. You'll take it easy?"

Hyde watched his father kiss his mother, a virgin sight for his eyes. He'd seen his mother kiss tons of men, Chet, Larry, Carl, Hot Tub Johnny, etc, the list could go on. But never his dad. Not that he could remember anyway. "Huh, they were actually happy once."

"Of course they were Steven. They made you, didn't they?"

Edna smiled. "Ok, I promise." She sealed the promise with another soft kiss and added, "But you need to tell this little brute to take it easy on me and quit punching me in my ribs."

Hyde grinned and elbowed Glenda in the ribs, "Hey, Kelso just said that exact same thing yesterday." She glared at him and rubbed her sides as Hyde returned his attention to his parents.

Bud bent down and spoke to Edna's small round belly. "Hey, in there. Be nice to your mom. She gave up her water skiing career for you!" He smiled up at her. "I think that should do it."

"Oh!" Edna giggled. "I don't think he likes being told what to do."

Hyde nodded his head, "That's true. I don't." Glenda rolled her eyes and had to laugh.

"Alright Steven, it's time to go."

Hyde sighed. "Yeah, ok." Glenda intertwined her fingers with his and led him toward the blackness of the hallway door. "So, what was the point of this anyway? What does this have to do with Jackie?"

"This, Steven, was just for you." Glenda stopped and turned around. "I wanted you to see this, so when you see what I have to show you next, you'll know that you were at least made out of love. Ok?" She patted his hand and continued to lead him into the dark. "We're almost there."

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Christmas Eve 1964

Hyde and his heavenly companion stepped out of the dark and back into the Hyde household. "What the hell, man. We're just back where we started." But, when he took a closer look, he realized the house was in shambles. It wasn't dirty, so much as it was messy. Certainly though, it was not the same house in which he had just left, not in spirit anyway.

"Fuck you, Bud! You're the one who's the lush around here! Not me! Jesus, I don't even know why you bothered coming home!" Edna stormed out of the kitchen and into the living room.

Bud followed. "You know, I don't know either! I guess I figured it was Christmas and maybe you'd take the day off for once from being a nagging bitch!"

Hyde shook his head. He was pissed with his so called angel. He turned to her, angry. "Why the hell did you bring me here? Like I haven't seen enough of this crap from them?"

"Steven, don't be upset..."

"Don't call me that! It's Hyde." Hyde tried to retreat into the hallway but saw only plaster wall where a doorway had once been. "What the.." He shot a rapid and menacing look at Glenda. His frustration sent him into abandon mode. "Man, forget this." He pushed past the kitchen door and headed into the room to which his quarreling parents had disappeared to.

"Stev.. Hyde," Glenda huffed and followed him out into the living room. "I'm not here to argue with you! But we're NOT leaving until you see someone!"

"Who? Who the hell is there to see, my drunk mother or my loser dad?" He stopped and turned around and closed in on Glenda. "Why did you bring me here? I hate this place!"

Suddenly Hyde's parents re-entered the room, still screaming obscenities at each other. "I'm so sick of this fucken shit!"

"Good! Cause I'm fucking sick of you coming and going as you please, leaving me with the god damn kid all the time."

Shaking his head in disgust, Hyde turned around to make his escape through the front door, but his feet stopped cold when he heard the soft cries of a child. Down to his left was the source of the tiny sobs. Clothed in only Mighty Mouse pajama pants and sitting in the recliner in front of him was a little boy of about four. His soft blond curls shook slightly as he quietly cried for his "Gramma."

Hyde froze. All the years of smoking dope in an attempt to reach some higher level of self awareness, and all he needed was this moment. He watched the child climb down off the chair and run past him. "Gramma!" His blue eyes followed the boy's path straight into the open arms of an older woman of about fifty. She picked him up and tucked his head against her shoulder, fluffing through his curly locks with her gentle fingers.

"Shh. It's okay, sweetheart," she whispered. The woman's eyes shifted toward her loser son and his drunk floozy of a wife. "What is the matter with the two of you? You've got your son listening to you two fighting. It's Christmas, can't you at least act like parents for one night?" She lightly bounced the boy in her arms and walked away, softening her tone. "Shh. Hey, look what I put on the tree for you. Look."

As his parents moved their argument into the confines of the kitchen, Hyde watched, amazed, as the older woman carry his younger counterpart over to the Christmas tree. He following and listened to the innocent conversation between grandmother and grandson. "You see this one? Your daddy made this when he was four like you." She returned the hand crafted ornament to its place near the top of the tree. "Which one's your favorite?"

A tiny finger pointed high on the tree. "That one," the tiny voice said.

She reached up and pulled down a small snowman ornament, handing it to him. "I think that one's my favorite too." She took a seat on a recliner near the tree and cradled her precocious little grandchild in her arms. "Steven, you don't wanna do that or its head will come off. You don't want that to happen, do you?" He shook his head. "I didn't think so."

Edna and Bud's argument was escalating in the kitchen and Hyde watched his grandmother cover his young ear as she deliberately pressed his head to her chest. "Try to go to sleep so Santa can come." She started to sing softly as she rocked him and combed through his hair.

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light"

"From now on our troubles will be out of sight"

"So she's Bud's mom?"

"Yes. Carol Hyde. Nice Lady. She really loved you."

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, make the yule-tide gay"

"From now on our troubles will be miles away"

"So then what happened to her?"

"Well, she died six hours later from a stroke. That's probably why you don't remember her."

Hyde stared at his grandmother as she rocked his tiny form. "I remember."

"Here we are as in olden days. Happy golden days of yore"

"Faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us, once more"

Hyde walked over to the recliner and squatted down in from of his own tiny body and the leftover essence of the only person who ever made him feel loved as child. He remembered her. He had fallen on some rocks and skinned his knee and she had comforted him. Just like this. The sentimentality of the moment could not be ignored so Hyde chose his other method of escape. "Damn it. Let's go."

"Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow"

"Hang a shining star upon the highest bow"

He stood up and walked around to the side of the chair and leaned down near her ear. He hesitated briefly before whispering in her ear, "Thank you." Motioning Glenda to follow, he headed toward the hallway. "Can I go home now."

"And have yourself, a merry little Christmas now" Four year old Steven sat up in his grandmother's lap.

"Can we sing another one?" Hyde stopped and turned around at the sound of his own innocent voice. He couldn't help but grin at how small he sounded. What a trip.

"Well, what did you have in mind?"

"My sunshine. That's my favorite."

"Oh, it's my favorite, too. You ready?" Little Hyde's delicate curls bobbed as he smiled and nodded. So, they sang together. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray..." Their voices echoed and his childhood home disappeared into the distance as the space around Hyde faded to black.

Then as quickly as it left, the light returned.

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Christmas Eve 1965

Suddenly Hyde stood the middle of another home from the past, but certainly not his past. The house was fancier than any he had seen in as a child. It was late at night, he figured. The lights were out, except for the familiar glow of a Christmas tree. But this tree was enormous and extravagantly decorated and that vase in the corner looked... "Wait a second, this is Jackie's house."

Glenda smiled sarcastically. "Gee, Sherlock, it only took you like what, ten minutes to figure that out?" Hyde tossed her a dirty look.

"Shut up."

"Hey, Steven. Look," she said pointing to a small dark haired little girl who laid tummy down on the floor next to the tree. Little hands cupped her rosy cheeks as her bare feet swung back and forth behind her. "..there she is." The brightly lit tree obviously intrigued the child since she could not seem to take her large, round eyes from it. Hyde tilted his head when the realization came that he was looking at Jackie at three years old, maybe four. She was dressed in a fancy red and white nightgown, all ready for Santa Claus to come.

Hyde walked up behind her and watched the young girl reach up and shake the tree mischievously, knocking a few ornaments to the floor. She giggled and Hyde smiled. "Yep, that's my girl." Hyde looked around. "So uh, where's Pam and her dad?"

"Oh, them." Glenda sighed and flipped her eyes. "Pam is in Cozumel for the holidays and Richard Burkhart is in New York City with his Wall Street pals."

Hyde pointed to the tiny girl on the floor. "So then who's watching her?" As if on cue, Jackie shook the tree again, sending the top angel crashing down over her head. Jackie grabbed her head and burst out into a silent, lingering gasp. Hyde bent down over her. "Oh my god. Breathe!"

"She can't hear you."

Sound finally escaped Jackie's mouth as she took in a breath and screamed bloody murder. Glenda stuck her finger deep in her ear and shook it violently. "Can hear her though."

"Shut up. That thing hit her hard, man." Hyde moved toward her but before he could get close, her nimble body left the floor and darted toward the staircase.

"Weesa," she cried.

A pretty young Hispanic woman came trotting down the stairs to meet up with Jackie. "Oh, pobrecita! What happened baby girl?" She lifted her up and Jackie pointed directly at Hyde, or so he thought.

"What the hell?"

Glenda sighed and walked over to Hyde. He was staring at Jackie as she, seemingly, stared back and Glenda took the opportunity to flick Hyde in the forehead. "She can't see you! How many times do we have to go over this?"

"Ow. You know, you're pretty violent for a guardian angel!"

"Well, I'm not your guardian angel, so I can be however I want to you." Glenda said, with a flip of her hair.

Jackie continued to cry as the woman tried to sooth her. "I w-want my m-mommy."

"I know. I know. Sh. Hey, how about some more eggnog?" Jackie shook her head no. "With cinnamon," the woman sang. Jackie's tears began to slow and she nodded. "Ok, but first..." She pulled out a Kleenex from her pocket and put it to Jackie's nose. "..blow." Jackie did and the woman smiled as she brushed Jackie's hair to the side. "Who's the prettiest girl in the whole world?"

"Me."

"That's right," she said while she carried Jackie into the kitchen for her Jell-O.

"Who was she?"

"Oh, that was Louisa. The maid. Nice lady. She really became attached to Jackie and vice-versa. As you can see, they spent a lot of time together."

Hyde's face turned sour with irritation. "They left her with the maid, on Christmas?" Glenda nodded and he sighed. "So, what happened to her? Did she die, too?"

"Oh no, not at all. She was fired two weeks later for subordination. Yeah, she told Pam off for never being around for her daughter. So, Pam fired her."

"Well, this was just one Christmas, right? They didn't leave her alone like this all the time, right? Did they?"

"What do you think?"

Hyde scoffed. "Fuck."

"Come on, let's go. We have one more stop before you meet him," she said, giggling.

"Wait, who's hi.."

Everything faded to black.

"Uh, hello! Angel broad! Where'd you go? I can't see."

"You need to open your eyes, Steven."

"They are open."

"Yes. Your eyes may be open but that doesn't mean you see."

"What? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Just turn the lights on!"

"Ok."

Instantly several strands of multi-colored Christmas lights lit up and revealed Hyde's basement bedroom. "Alright! I can go back to bed and you can hit the road." Before he made a move toward his bed, something caught his eye. "Hey. Where's my goose down duvet?" He rushed to his old cot and lifted his crappy green blanket from years before. "Man, what the hell!" He looked around at the dingy grey color of his room, instantly realizing that he wasn't home yet.

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Christmas Eve 1978

Looking around, and feeling a little bummed, Hyde plopped onto his old cot. "Man, she was right. It did look like a prison cell."

"..Oh! Like last week when Chachi gave Joanie his bandana! Thank you."

Sometimes Jackie's voice made him cringe, especially when it became raspy and incredibly high-pitched, but there were other times in which her voice was the most soothing sound that ever entered his ears. It usually came out with her nurturing side or when they were alone. And tonight, he heard that same soothing voice, sliding in from the darkness.

In the center of the room, a Christmas tree finally lit up a night that he remembered. One of the good ones.

"Oh, here they are," Glenda said, smiling down at the young couple seated on the floor, a miniature Christmas tree between them.

"Jackie."

"I'm sorry. What baby?"

"I love you."

Jackie smiled. "You do?"

Hyde's head remained low as he nodded slightly.

Then, to the observing Hyde's surprise, he blinked and found himself sitting on the other side of the Christmas tree from Jackie, a place he sat once before. He couldn't move, he couldn't speak, he could only re-live.

Curious, his eyes slowly made their way up to find her smiling face. She was now looking directly at him. This felt real. After sliding the Christmas tree to the side, Jackie climbed onto his lap and placed her lips to his as she spoke. He could feel her warm breath tickle his lips. She felt real. "Steven, I love you, too." A soft peck followed and Hyde's mind finally released all the fear and panic that he had felt only moments before. Her open mouth gently sealed over his and he seized it hungrily, something he hadn't done in months. Then, without warning, she was gone and he was back on the other side of the room with Glenda.

Hyde's eyes went wide as he looked at her. "Holy Shit!"

"Yeah, sorry. I probably should've warned you about that."

Hyde touched his fingers to his lips. "She just kissed me. Like, like really just.. literally kissed my mouth. I can still feel it. She was on my lap..." Hyde looked over to find that the tree, Jackie, the whole scene was gone and smiled, still feeling the tingle of where her lips had touched his. "Man, that was... crazy."

Glenda smiled, grateful to see that Jackie's kiss still made his nerve ends tingle. She sighed. "It's time for me to go, Steven. But I don't want you to forget what I said, Steven. This entire night is about something bigger than you. So be careful, Steven. Please, be careful. This is my last chance to help you. I'm not allowed to interfere anymore."

"What the hell are you talking about? Will you just tell me."

"I can't. You have to come to the decision on your own."

"What decision? To be with Jackie? I can't do anything about that. I already.." Hyde yawned. "..told you." Feeling more exhausted than he had ever felt in his entire life, Hyde laid down on his bed. "She left me. I didn't leave her. It was over ...anyway.. I'm really ... tired."

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Christmas Eve 1980 - the present.

The soft pink glow of his ceiling was the first hint of light that seeped through Hyde's eyes. A smile crept over his face, and never so happy to see so much god damned pink in his life, Hyde leapt off his bed and looked around. Goose down duvet, sex pistols poster, lavender scented candle, yep, it was all here. One final thing though, Hyde reached behind his table and picked up the busted out picture of Jackie, letting the loose glass fall to the floor. He was home. "Thank God."

"Hey, I helped," said a deep, yet curiously effeminate, voice.

Hyde turned around and stepped back nervously. "Who the... wait, Fenton?"

"Guilty," Fenton said, giggling slightly.

"Uh, yeah. What are doing in my room, man?"

"Oh, I'm not really Fenton. I'm the ghost of Christmas present. You see, my real appearance terrifies people so I always just choose the appearance of someone in each person's life. Isn't he fabulous," he said, with a twirl.

"So you chose this guy? I can't stand that guy."

"Yeah, well maybe he can't stand you either!" He quickly calmed down. "I'm really sorry, unfortunately the emotions come with the package."

Hyde grimaced, slightly afraid for himself. "I wanna go back to bed."

"Well, you can't. Glenda has me on a schedule. She's a cute girl but really a ball buster if you know what I mean. Ouch." He laughed nervously as he watched Hyde's unflinching expression. "Oh forget it, let's go."

"No way," Hyde said, shaking his head. "I'm not going anywhere with you."

"Oh yes, you are, mister. Jackie's a hot number, and that bitchy little tight-assed foreigner is going to snatch her away if you don't hurry!" He smiled, a little embarrassed. "Again, sorry."

"What?" Hyde's face turned sour. "Fez? Jackie would never go with him."

"If I were you I wouldn't under estimate the power of Old Spice and stretch polyester. He listens to her."

"What the hell are you talking about? You' know you're starting piss me off!"

"Good, get pissed. Get something Steven, before you lose her."

"I already did."

"Men! I don't just don't get any of you. Do you know what Glenda has been through trying to fix this? The begging, the pleading, getting rid of the stripper that you chose over Jackie.."

"Why would I choose a stripper over Jackie?"

"THANK YOU!" Fenton sang. "We've all been wondering that very same thing for a while now!" He sashayed up to Hyde, who took one giant step back. "Look, I don't have time to hold your precious little hand through all of this. So you're coming with me, right now.."

A blink later and Hyde sighed, annoyed, once again, to find himself somewhere else, somewhere other than home. It didn't take long to figure out where he was, though, when he saw the crib and heard Betsy cooing to the Big Bird mobile floating above her head. Just then Kelso and Brooke walked in.

"Michael, for the last time, babies can't read minds."

"Well, not if they're foreign, duh." Kelso walked over to Betsy's crib and kneeled down to see her through the wooden slats. "Hey baby. You ready for Santa?" He tried to squeeze his head in between the slats with no luck. "You know, they should make these wider so that grown ups can fit their heads in to see the baby."

"Then she would fall out of the crib, Michael."

"Not if my head was there to block her like a goalie, Brooke."

Brooke sighed and leaned into the crib to rub her daughter's cheek. "Good night, sweetheart. Merry first Christmas."

Kelso stood up and placed his arm around Brooke, repeating the Christmas wish to his daughter and giving her mother a kiss on the cheek. "This is nice." Brooke agreed and they both left, leaving only Betsy, Hyde and his ghost.

Hyde walked over and leaned in, frowning as Betsy smiled up at him. "She can see me."

"Probably," Fenton said, pushing back his cuticles, looking rather bored.

"Why are we here?"

"Oh, I just wanted to see the smiling face of the child whose life you will be destroying if you don't pull you head out of your," Fenton took a look at Hyde's backside and smiled. "..ass."

Hyde pulled back his fist threateningly. "I swear to god, man."

"Easy, Steven. Can't I admire?"

"No!" He turned back to Betsy, slightly concerned. "So how will I be ruining..."

"Destroying."

Hyde made a face, displaying his irritation. "..destroying her life? She's just a baby."

"Someone she loves will lose their life in..." He looked at his watch. "Eight hours. But you already knew that. Hm, Steven?"

"Why don't you stop being such a woman and just tell me who dies? Is it me? Who is it?" Hyde made the mistake of blinking again, and ended up somewhere new. "Damn it! Quit doing that!"

Fenton grinned, ignoring Hyde's tantrum, and pointed at Donna and Eric as they sat together next to her mic. "Ah. The red head and the skinny one. Mm-hm. Here we are."

Donna smiled at Eric and placed the back of her hand to his cheek, brushing it softly. "I'm so glad we waited, Eric."

He closed his eyes at her delicate touch and put his hand to hers, placing it back to his cheek. "Me, too," he said softly kissing it. "I'm even gladder that you said yes."

"You pulled me out of bed to watch these two get all gooey with each other. Yeah. Ok. So what! I get it. He proposed, she accepted. The whole fucking universe is back in alignment. Can we go now?"

Fenton sighed. "Don't you think proposing was an awfully hard thing for him to do after being turned down once tonight?" Hyde shrugged. "So you think that he shouldn't have asked her?" Hyde repeated his apathetic shrug. "Ok. So you're done talking to me now?" Fenton smiled, suddenly all knowing. "Oh my god, you're jealous!"

Hyde grimaced. "Get bent, ghost. I am NOT jealous. I could have had this. I just didn't want it! Relying on somebody else to be happy, it's bullshit, man. Jackie and I were just too..." Hyde sighed. "Whatever, man. Let's just go."

"Too close? Too happy? Too good-lookin'? What?"

"What's the matter, Eric?"

"I don't know. I'm a little worried about Hyde. I know he likes to pretend he doesn't care about anything. But he just flat out acted as if nothing were wrong tonight, even though I know better, and then we all just left him there, alone, you know on Christmas Eve. He usually spends it with Jackie. I don't know, I just feel bad, I guess."

"Oh. You're such a good guy, Eric. But honestly, I don't feel bad for Hyde at all. He's been acting like a complete ass to her lately and now he acts like he doesn't care? All that girl did was cry over him in the end. You know what, he doesn't deserve her. I'm glad she dumped him and I hope he's miserable. The bastard."

"Well, merry Christmas to you, too, Donna. See," Hyde said, addressing his ghost, "..all Jackie did was cry when she was with me." He gave one final shrug. "We're better off apart."

"You don't believe that."

"Why do you people ...ghosts ... gay sale clerks ... even care anyway?"

Fenton's face turned red. "PRODUCT MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATE!"

Hyde got into his red face. "BITE ME!"

It was a longer less necessary blink and Hyde found himself in the guest bedroom of Fez and Maggie's small, but festive, apartment. His annoyance, mostly felt for his rather bitchy travel companion, disappeared when he realized who he had bought him to see, the focus of this entire night's events. Jackie.

She laid prone on a fluffy white comforter, facing Fez, sobbing her heart out. Curious, Hyde walked around the bed to get a better look at her red, puffy, wet eyes as they peeked though her tear matted hair. "Why is she crying?"

Fenton shook his head. "And you're supposed to be the smart one."

Fez delicately pulled Jackie's hair away from her face. "I'm so sorry, Jackie. I'm sure he didn't mean it."

"Yes, h-he-he did. I thought h-he loved m-me," Jackie sputtered out through gasping tears.

"Jackie, you need to take a deep breathe," Fez insisted. "I'm sure he does."

Jackie did, and it seemed to work, for a while. "No Fez, if he did, he would've come over here. Michael came here to get Brooke, you came for Maggie, and Eric..." She lost it again and sobbed into Fez's shoulder. "Eric proposed! God! I'm so freakin' happy for Donna!"

Fez patted Jackie's back, completely unsure of what to say. It wasn't as if she were too far off track. Hyde had showed no interest in seeing Jackie, and had told him earlier that Jackie had done him a favor by leaving. And Fez, feeling that she needed to know, had told her. But he soon came to regret the decision. "I'm sorry," was all he could muster. "I'm so sorry."

Eventually, when Jackie's tears began to slow, she found enough breathe to continue. Pulling away from Fez, she put on her best smile, which only ended up looking like her saddest. "We've always spent Christmas together Fez," she said, once again falling prey to her own sadness. She began to cry again. "Now I have to spend Christmas alone. God, I miss him so much," she said, returning to his shoulder. "I love him so much!"

Fez finally asked what he'd been wondering for a while. "Is your family even home tonight, Jackie?"

"No."

Fez shook his head, nearly livid with the situation. "I'll be right back."

He left the room to let Maggie know that Jackie would be staying the night. Hyde and her family may have been willing to leave her alone on Christmas, but he was not. It wasn't right and Maggie agreed.

Hyde had observed the entire conversation. "Is this really what's happening right now?"

"Word for word. Told you that sassy foreign boy knew how to talk to her."

"Stop startin' shit! That would never happen! They're just friends and anyway, he has a girlfriend."

"Whatever you say, Steven."

As Jackie continued to sob into her pillow, Hyde sat down next to her on the bed. He wanted to comfort her but knew that for so many reasons, he couldn't. So instead, he stared at her momentarily and then allowed himself to go cold. "She chose this, not me."

'Fenton' shook his head. This was almost hopeless. Something about Steven Hyde made him feel the need to bury all of his feelings and therefore bury himself. Self-destructive natures rarely fixed themselves, in any universe, for any reason. "Do you love her, Steven?"

"Quit calling me that," he muttered before answering the question. "I did." It was at those words that Jackie's sobs seemed to get louder and more hysterical, until she finally sobbed his name out. Guilt quickly overwhelmed him and Hyde realized that her tears were undeniably his responsibility. He revised his statement. "Fine. Maybe I still do," he confessed as he continued to watch her shaking form. "But it wasn't enough. Not for her and not for me." Hyde stood up and stood securely in front of his ghost. "Take me home."

"We're not finished,"

"Oh no. See, I say we are. Because now," Hyde grinned, mockingly. "I can walk home."

Fez came back into the room. "Ok. You're staying here tonight." He handed Jackie a cup of hot cocoa and told her that everything would be ok, putting a smile on her face.

"Aw, thanks Fez. I love you." She grabbed her cocoa and let the steam warm her face, before taking a cautious sip. "Mm, it's good. So where's Maggie?"

"In bed." Jackie nodded. "Hey, Jackie. Hyde doesn't know how great he had it with you. If you had been my girlfriend, I would've... well, you know."

"I know. Thanks, Fez."

"Are you sure you are going to be ok, here?"

Jackie nodded at first, but the realization that she would be spending this night alone finally struck her hard, and those persistent tears returned. Fez moved toward her. "No, Fez. I'm sorry. I'm just being a big crybaby. I'll be fine," Jackie said wiping her eyes, a futile attempt since the tears only seemed to flow faster than she could clean them away. Fez sat down next to her and brought her head to his chest and let her cry.

"He doesn't deserve you, Jackie."

"Man, fuck this!" Hyde yelled, as he kicked the bottom drawer of the side table next to Fez, causing Jackie and him to look at it and then at each other, strangely. "That's the second time someone's said that tonight! I'm outta here! She can stay here and get felt up by Fez all night for all I fucking care!" Hyde pointed sternly at Fenton. "And don't follow me," he said as he stormed out of the apartment, alone.

He was halfway home when he realized that walking home in an undershirt and sweat pants, barefoot, in a snowstorm, probably wasn't one of his better ideas. Being forced to watch Fez snuggle up with his girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend, was beginning to sound better and better as each foot disappeared into the soft, freezing, snow beneath him. At least the pain in his body, caused by the bitter cold, seemed to be confusing the pain that he felt in his chest. Yeah, he could admit to himself at least, he liked to pretend he didn't care, and maybe it was stupid to lie to his ghost, but... Hyde shook his head, forcing a few snowflakes from his hair, what the hell was he saying? His ghost? Get a grip, man. There was no such thing as ghosts or angels or do overs. All of this was a dream, a very bad, uber-fucked-up, dream. But there did seem to be a nagging problem with that theory, he wondered, how the hell did he get outside? Because if this wicked chill that ran through his body didn't convince him that he was very much awake and alive, then what would? Hyde squeezed his eyes shut. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Then, half expecting to be in his room, he re-opened his eyes, only to find whiteout instead. He was still cold, still alone and more confused than ever.

"Damn it."

Hyde hopped up and sat on a public mail box to get his frozen feet out of the snow. Quickly tucking them beneath his body, he balanced and fought through the pain. "Well this sucks." He blew his hot breathe into his hands. The plan was to warm his feet and then haul ass home, but after a quick glance up, Hyde quickly understood that the universe had different plans for him. So, instead of asking dumb questions or panicking, Hyde just nodded. "Yeah, hey. I was waiting for you."

The dark figure nodded.

Hyde could see no face, only a vacant black hole buried in more blackness, which actually comforted him. Flippy mouthed cheerleader types and gay sales clerks, product management associates, only served to annoy him tonight. Death, or something like it, seemed a welcome sight. At least death knew how to shut the fuck up. "If you're here to take me to hell, then make it snappy cause I'm freezing my nads off here," Hyde said, hopping back into the snow. He stood still and instinctively closed his eyes, holding them closed until he felt warm again. He re-opened them with a pleased smile. "Alright! It worked." He was home, back in the basement. "Thanks," he said sincerely to his silent new best friend.

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

Christmas Eve 1984

While making an immediate beeline for his room, Hyde noticed that something was different. He stopped and sighed. Of course it wouldn't be that simple. This dream was obviously determined to play itself out. "Alright, I've seen the movie. What year is it supposed to be?" The Reaper pointed a long, skinny, pale finger at the wagon wheel coffee table. "Oh!" Hyde picked up a copy of Hustler that sat precariously on the edge of the table and smiled at his new friend. "You like this huh? Yeah, see, I would've guessed that hell has all the whores, so stuff like this would be redundant," He said, with a chuckle. "December, 1984." He looked around and stuck out his bottom lip, looking somewhat impressed by the news. "Huh. So where's all the cameras and government surveillance equipment?"

The dark figure shrugged.

Hyde nodded, knowingly. "Oh that's right, I forgot, you're on their side."

"Hyde!" Hyde whipped his head over toward the sound of his name being called. "Hyde," the female voice yelled again, slightly more irritated in tone than the first time. Thumping down the stairs came and older and more provocatively dressed than ever, Pam Macy. Hyde was horrified.

"Why is she.." If Hyde thought he was surprised at the sight of Pam Macy, he was mortified at the sight of himself, older and hairier with a perfectly combed...

"Porn mustache! I have a porn mustache?" Hyde asked the Reaper, who only nodded. "God, now I gotta kick my own ass. This is a first."

Pam walked with a spring in her stripper heeled step over to the older Hyde. "Hey baby. I gotta get to work but don't forget to pick me up at two," She said, offering him a fat kiss.

He took the kiss and scowled at her. "Hey, why can't you just get a ride with one of your skanky friends? Or call a cab." A smirk formed as he began the next sentence. "You can shove a few of your dollar bills into the cabbie's pants and give him a merry Christmas."

The observing Hyde grimaced. "I'm dating Pam Macy? A stripping, skankier version of Pam Macy? Is that even possible?"

The dark figure nodded.

Pam smacked Hyde's chest. "God, Hyde! Can't you just act like a decent boyfriend for one night?"

"No." he said, cracking open a beer and sitting in his usual chair. "And I'm not your boyfriend."

"Whatever, you big grumpy goo," she said, offering him a second kiss before bouncing out the door. "I'll just get Carrie to give me a ride home."

"There you go."

"So I'm, what, 24 here?" The observing Hyde sat down on the couch and studied himself in this possible future. The mustache definitely had to go. Pam, too. A future full of daily penicillin doses and strange oozing rashes didn't exactly spell out happiness. But whatever, to each his own. He was obviously still living in the basement, which was no good. But life didn't seem all together that miserable. He was still ...breathing and there was still beer.

The more aged Hyde sighed and looked at his watch. He got up from his chair and lowered the volume to the television, eventually making his way over to the stereo. At the flip of a switch, the tuning lights glowed and on came a song unfamiliar to the younger of the two. Hyde returned to his seat.

Since you've gone I been lost without a trace
I dream at night I can only see your face
I look around but it's you I can't replace
I keep crying baby, baby please

Hyde looked at his silent "friend," a little concerned. "So where is everybody?" Nothing. "So your not gonna freakin' answer me now? Fine." He stood up and paced. "What the hell's the point of all this? So what, so I have a slutty girlfriend, that can't be that bad right? I can shave the mustache, and I can move. He looks happy enough for me! All's you showed me was that I don't need Jackie to be happy." He looked around at the empty basement. "Obviously I don't need anyone. I mean, look I got beer, a tv, pretty good music, this ain't bad, and peace and fucking quiet."

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I'll be watching you

Hyde plopped himself down on the couch, frustrated with the whole situation. Death wouldn't talk to him. His porno self wouldn't move. He only sat there, staring at the ceiling, and as much as Hyde willed it too be true, it wasn't. Twenty-four year old Hyde didn't look happy. Not in the least. He looked miserable and lonely ...and pathetic. "I'm not happy am I?" Hyde asked death, solemnly. "I mean, but so what, right? I knew I never would be. It's not that big of deal." Hyde told himself that but he wasn't convinced that he meant it. He'd only been here for little over five minutes and he was already depressed…and lonely.

"And that was the Police with 'Every breathe you take' off of their album Synchronicity. I'm Hot Donna and you're listening to WROQ - Chicago's only station for today's rock. It's five minutes to four and I'm almost outta here so if you guys are listening, this is for Hyde, Fez, Jackie and Kelso. Eric and I REALLY miss you guys. Merry Christmas! We wish you were here, it's Pink Floyd..."

"Forman and Donna live in Chicago?"Hyde shrugged. "That's cool. At least they got out."

When the music started, Hyde groaned. Why were they doing this to him? Floyd, it was a cruel trick. This song always brought him back to that day. No matter where he was or what he was doing, driving in his car, sitting in the cold, dank basement in the deep depths of winter, it always took him to that warm day on that California beach.

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skies from pain.

He closed his eyes and saw her, cupping his cheeks as he hovered above her in the hot sand. "Kiss me then," she said, smiling up at him.

Steven.

Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

He felt the smile brush over the corners of his mouth and felt the words leave his lips, "Sounds like a fair trade." Below him, she nodded and he could feel each muscle move as he leaned down to kiss her sweet mouth. Feeling every inch of her full lips, he gasped slightly, sending the sound out into the abyss of time.

Jackie.

And did they get you to trade
Your heros for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?

When he opened his eyes, he was no longer inside the basement, no longer on the beach, but inside of an unfamiliar apartment. Although death wasn't his number one choice for a travel companion, Hyde was grateful to see that he/she/it had come along. He had no idea where he was and was a little nervous to find out. "Where are we?"

Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

His dark friend nudged him hard toward the kitchen counter. "Alright!" There he found a Cosmopolitan magazine. This had to be Jackie's place. It smelled really good like her place would, but the place was uncharacteristically messy. He found the confirmation he needed on the front cover ... December 1984, Jackie Burkhart 165 Benwood St Apt 12, Point Place, Wisconsin. Yep, Jackie. "Huh," Hyde looked around and noticed that something was missing. A Christmas tree. "Same night?"

The Reaper nodded.

Coming from the bathroom and sounding off through crystal clear acoustics, was the same Pink Floyd tune. Someone was in there listening to Donna's station. "Jackie." Hyde walked over to the bathroom and, having little regard for the closed door, walked inside. The music rang louder though his ears and the closed shower curtain soon became his focus. "Jackie?"

"Steven?"

"Yeah, it's me." He started to pull it open cautiously. "Hey, I'm gonna open the curtain, ok." Half-expecting to find her with Kelso, due to a million dreams with this same scenario, Hyde braced himself. Jackie was there, but she was alone, thankfully. She was a few years older, still utterly amazing, but pale, deathly pale. Her chin rested just above the waterline. "Jackie, are you sick? Why are you in pajamas in..." He heard her bath water trickle softly as she moved, and his next breathe caught in his throat. He hadn't noticed it at first, but the water around her face was pink. And as he pulled the curtain further, the red water further down her body quickly exposed itself. "Oh my god, Jackie!" He ripped the flimsy curtain down and dipped his arms below the water and around her body, lifting her up a few inches above the waterline. She was covered in diluted blood from her chest down. "What the hell did you do, baby?"

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,

The gaze from her nearly dead eyes ripped though him. Once mis-matched, they now matched each other with the pale blue color of lifelessness. "Jackie, why would you do this?"

She gave him a disturbing smile, one that should never come from someone whose entire supply of blood had already left them. "I love you so much, Steven."

Running over the same old ground.What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

"Wait, you did this because of me? That's fucking crazy, Jackie! I'm not worth this!"

"No, baby," her weak voice muttered. Crossing her arm past his chest and down to the floor, Jackie picked up a half-wet, folded up, piece of paper. "He was right," she said regretfully. "I'm so sorry. I blew it for us Steven? Can you forgive me?"

Hyde couldn't believe what he was hearing. She thought it was her fault. "Jackie, it wasn't your fault. It was mine." Jackie took in a deep breath and stared at him briefly, before closing her eyes to sleep. "Jackie. Jackie, look at me. Shit." Hyde slipped her body back down into the water. This isn't real. He quickly left the bathroom, halfway out of his mind. "This isn't real. Jackie would never do that," he muttered to himself as he paced. "Is that why you're here?" he asked the Reaper. "For her?" After a few laps around her couch, Hyde took a seat in an attempt to placate himself and noticed the piece of paper still gripped in his left hand. The music continued as he unfolded the letter. Thank god, too, he thought, because silence might have sent him over the edge, if he hadn't already gone. A few nervous blinks later, he read the letter...

Jackie, I know it is terrible to telling you this in a letter but I just don't think I can do this anymore. I know I told you that I would be ok with never having children. And at first I thought I would be. I told you we could adopt, I know, but I really want children of my own someday. And I know that sounds selfish but I think it would be more selfish to keep up the lie and pretend like it doesn't bother me that you can't have kids. Because it does bother me. I do not know how to say this so I guess I'll just say it. I met someone else and she's pregnant. I'm so sorry, Jackie. But it is not like you loved me anyway. You still love him, I'm not stupid. You and I both know that this was just a marriage made out of loneliness. Well, I'm not lonely anymore, and neither is he and you shouldn't be either. And I can't save you anymore from him, Jackie. I need to be happy and so do you. And I promise, one day you will be happy and hopefully on that day, you'll thank me. God, I hope so. I love you, Fez.

"Fez? You married Fez?" He wanted to be angry, but he couldn't be. His mustache laden counterpart was sitting somewhere close by with carnal knowledge of Pam Macy. He had apparently abandoned Jackie for trash. Of course she would run to someone who cared about her. He just couldn't believe that she would run to Fez, or that he would fucking abandon her like this. But then again ...Pam fucking Macy. Hyde stood up and hesitantly returned to the bathroom.

After kneeling down in front of the tub, Hyde lifted Jackie's lifeless hand out of the water and rubbed his thumb along the soft skin next the deep slit down her wrist. He accepted, without care or worry, the pools of water that collected just above his lower eyelids. His voice was barely audible, but it didn't matter because no one was listening. "Why would you do this, Jackie? Was I being that much of a tool that you couldn't come to me? God, what happened to us?" He kissed her hand and placed it carefully back into the water.

Nearly spent of life himself, Hyde wiped his eyes and turned around to lean his back up against the tub. "You know what I think, Jackie? I think it's this place. This town. Someone told me tonight that we keep hurting each other no matter what they do to help us. And I'm not really sure what that meant but I don't wanna do it anymore. We should've been a team, you and me. An orphaned, cot-owning, best friend mooching team." Hyde chuckled softly and cleared the moisture from his eyes as two small, healthy hands slid around his shoulders and came to rest on his chest. Jackie hooked her chin on his shoulder. "Hey."

"Hey," Hyde said, softly. "I'm really sorry, Jackie."

She kissed his shoulder and sighed, placing her cheek down. "I know, baby."

Hyde lifted his hands up to touch her arms and closed his eyes while she rocked his body gently from side to side, "You're gonna be ok, Steven. In between all the madness stands the people who love you, and I'm one of them," she said, with a smile that radiated through her voice and into him.

"I know," he said.

"We're gonna be okay, Steven."

"I know."

"But you need to hurry, baby. You've only got one hour left. So hurry, Steven. Hurry. Hurry, baby. Please hurry. ...

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

Christmas Morning, 1980

Panting and in a cold sweat, Hyde sat up in his bed. Desperate for air, he threw his covers off, flew out of bed and paced back and forth trying to collect his breath while he sifted through every thought in his mind. He had never woken up with such a clear memory of a dream before. The words and images quickly skipped across his mind like stones on water and if it weren't for his overwhelming drive to find Jackie, he might have settled himself with a joint. But there was no time. He had one hour, or did he? His clock radio told him it was 9:03 a.m. Was it ten he had until? What the hell was going to happen at ten o'clock? Damn it. Hyde quickly slipped on his boots over his sweat pants and grabbed his jacket. Without looking, he ran out of his room only to run smack into Eric.

"Hey man, what's up? She said yes!"

Hyde grabbed Eric by the shoulders and shifted him aside and out of his way. "Yeah, I know. That's great man."

"Wait. How'd you know? Did Jackie tell you?"

"No, but..." Hyde smiled at Eric and then hugged him tightly with the typical male, rough pat on the back. "..congratulations man, I really gotta go."

As Hyde rushed across the basement toward the door, he put his coat on. "Hey, have you talked to Fez? Do you know if Jackie's still there?"

"Um, no. But I do know that Santa came last night and there's some awfully shapely presents underneath the tree," Eric said, giddy as a child on ...well, Christmas morning.

"Yeah, about those. Give 'em to those poor kids we stole from."

"What! But man, I peeked and you know what my momm...Santa got me? That's right. The Vertibird Air Police Helicopter with landing platform and official Vertibird pro aviator button. I'll practically be licensed to fly and I ain't sharing that with no poor kid! I've been waiting 7 years for that thing," he whined.

"Ok. Forman. Calm down, man. I didn't tell you to get rid of yours. I said to get rid of mine."

"Yeah, but you're getting the Electronic Airborne Rescue Vertibird, or EARV for short."

"Really?" Hyde imagined all the fun they could have.. "No. No. This is what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to like, be giving or something so that I don't end up growing a bad porn mustache and nailing a certain blond stripper in your basement."

Eric thoughtfully considered Hyde's statement. "Yeah?" Eric said, trying to figure out what that meant. He shrugged. "Ok. They're gone."

"Good. Hey, tell you're mom I'll be back for second unwrapping," he said, finally making it out the basement door. "Oh, and call Fez! Tell him not to let Jackie leave!"

"Right-O!"

The el Camino had never taken such a beating before this morning. Dirty snow and ice covered her wheels while Hyde ripped through the streets of Point Place. Something was going down at ten o'clock, he was sure of it. He might have excused it all as a dream but considering the single spilled drop of blood on his white tank top was still there, he would give the universe the benefit of the doubt. He just hoped he wasn't go late. "Fuck. Move your ass, lady!"

Creating a new parking space in front of Fez's building, Hyde threw the el Camino in park and flew up the stairs in twos. Once at the top and out of breath, he banged repeatedly on the front door. "Fez! Maggie! Jackie! Come on, open up."

"Hyde!" Fez said, opening the front door with a candy cane in hand. He held it out. "Merry Christmas, little buddy!"

Hyde absentmindedly took it as he passed through the doorway. "Thanks man. Where's Jackie?"

Fez followed his friend through the house. "Oh, she's in the shower. She's been in it all damn morning. We're beginning to think she might have keeled over in there," he said, snickering, joking.

Hyde's face fell. "Oh my god."

"I'm kidding," Fez said, as he followed Hyde toward the bathroom. They both stopped at the door. "We would have heard a thud."

Hyde glared at Fez as he knocked. "Jackie, open up." But nothing, except the hissing of shower water escaped through the flimsy door. So, he knocked again, a littler harder this time. "Jackie, I'm serious. Answer me, now." Nothing again. "Fez, I'm gonna give you three seconds to give me a key to this door or it's getting knocked down."

Fez provided a thin metal key, barely fatter than a needle, only seconds later and Hyde used it to unlock the door. The click of the lock sent a chill down his spine, this all seemed too familiar. His hand gripped the knob and he hesitated briefly before finally opening the door. "Jackie," he said, cautiously as he stepped inside.

Still nothing.

He shut the door and approached the shower curtain with such fear that his nose stung and heart raced from the overwhelming anticipation. Please be okay. His hand gripped the curtain and he closed his eyes while took the time to say a quick prayer to a God he barely believed in. Then he pushed it aside slowly to find Jackie rinsing her hair underneath the steaming shower water. Hyde closed the curtain and smiled in pure relief. Thank you.

Hyde finally released the breath he was holding and took in a fresh one. "Jackie." She still wasn't answering and Hyde rolled his eyes. What the hell, was she going deaf? "JACKIE!"

"Steven?"

Hyde let his body fall back against the wall and slide down in further relief. "Yeah babe, it's just me."

"Yeah, well, I'm taking a shower and you can't be in here."

Hyde chuckled. Yeah right. "Jackie, I am so NOT leaving so just…don't even bother." He stood up. "In fact," he said, removing his shirt. "..I'll be right in. Here." He found a towel lying on the counter top and threw it over the shower rod.

It landed directly on her head. "Steven! What are you doing?"

Hyde slipped off his boots and sweat pants, leaving only his boxers shorts. "I'm coming in, so I'll give you ten seconds to get that towel around you."

Jackie frantically wrapped the now soaked towel around her body and tucked it in above her breasts, holding it securely in place. "You know, you only had shower privileges..." He stepped inside as she spoke. "...when we were together."

"Oh, well, then I guess we better get back together."

Jackie squinted her eyes at him. Did he seriously just walk in here and assume that he was gonna charm his way into her pants, or towel rather? "Steven..."

"Jackie," Hyde said interrupting her, with the amiable grin she hadn't seen in months. "I'm so glad you're ok."

"Why wouldn't I be?"

Hyde's hands moved over the sides of her towel and pulled her toward him until their torsos met. He spoke deliberately. "Jackie, I'm really sorry I left you alone. It will never happen again. I swear."

Jackie was angry at herself for starting to cry already but was grateful that her wet face would mask it. Although nothing could mask the pain and anger spread across her face as she spoke. "You told them I did you a favor. I spent the entire night wondering what I did to make you hate me."

"You didn't do anything, baby, and I don't hate you. I love you."

"Don't call me baby and start telling me you love me now. You had your chance last night. Now I want you to get out and just leave me alone, Steven." Jackie turned around. "Go, Steven. You're too late."

"I'm not going anywhere Jackie. Not anymore. C'mere," Hyde hugged her waist and pulled her down to the shower floor, seating her between his legs. He swept her hair aside and placed his chin down on her shoulder. "Now, look. I'm not proud of how I treated you. I know I was…I was such a dick to you. But I'm still asking for another chance. Jackie. Don't you love me?"

"Of course I do. You were the one acting like you didn't love me anymore."

"I know, and I think I was just... I don't know, scared maybe..." He bridged the thought with a deep breath. "...and I don't know why. Ok. But I do know that I'm not anymore."

"And if you get scared again?"

"I'm not gonna lie, Jackie. I probably will, but at least I know now that you're not the one I'm scared of. It's me."

Jackie turned around and straddled his lap, taking the opportunity to look him in the eye. "Well, I'm not scared of you, Steven. I'm mad at you. You made me cry for three months. I had to replace my freakin' mascara tube like five times. That's a lot of mascara, Steven."

Hyde was slightly confused. "Well, so you want me to buy you mascara? I don't..."

"No. If you want me back, you need to promise me that we have a future together."

Hyde thought about it for a brief moment and stopped fighting the smile that wanted to come. He had to admit to himself, it was nice to be able to make her a promise that he actually intended to keep. He nodded his slightly, "Ok," and watched her face light up.

"Oh my god, Steven!" Jackie grabbed his face and laid a hard kiss on his lips. "So you mean one day you might want to marry me and have kids and the house and everything?" She hugged him and squealed, and although, he should have been smiling too, his face fell instead. He knew, or possibly knew, things that he wished he didn't. But he would keep those things to himself; she would find out soon enough.

"Someday, Jackie."

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

Nineteen minutes later - 9:39 a.m.

"..Yeah, Brooke. Can you please just humor us? Ok. Yeah. I know. I know he is, Brooke. Look, just keep him in the house and away from the tub. Oh, and anything electric."

Hyde leaned in close to the receiver, "Oh, and tell him that the only way for him to stay completely safe is to stand still in the living room on one foot, at least until noon!"

"Yeah, ok. Bye." Jackie hung up the phone. "There, that's everybody, they're all safe. I don't understand why you're freaking out, Steven. And you could have just told Michael, Eric and Fez to wait it out on their couches."

"Yeah, but how would that be funny, Jackie?" Jackie simply shrugged as Hyde moved in closer to her with a devious grin. "Now, what to do while we wait. Hm?" Jackie smiled as Hyde kissed her lips with wide open eyes that bore into hers. He softly pecked her lips over and over as he coaxed her down onto her back and hovered over her. While one arm held him up, the other worked its way down her body until his hands found the ties of her robe. "I think this robe should go too. It's too dangerous, you could accidentally get strangled by this belt thingy," he said as he pulled the ties apart, and exposed her naked flesh. "Much better."

"Steven, Fez and Maggie are in the next room."

"So what," he muttered, burying his face deep against her neck and giving her tiny kisses on her scrumptiously clean skin. "Fez is on one foot and Maggie's sitting there laughing at him. Anyway, I locked the door."

Jackie smiled at the feel of his lips on the delicate bend of her neck. It had been a month since his lips had touched her so intimately and they were just as soft as she remembered them to be. "Oh god, Steven. I missed you so much."

"I missed you, too."

"I love you."

"I love you, too, Steven."

The ten o'clock hour came and went with little fanfare except for the private party going on behind the locked door of Fez and Maggie's guest bedroom.

"That son of a bitch burned us!"

Maggie laughed even harder than she had been for the past twenty minutes. "Well, why do you fall for it every time?"

Fez stomped his pained foot. "I don't know, damn!"

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

The Forman Residence - Christmas night. 6:37 p.m.

Everyone is sitting around the living room talking and laughing. As Kitty and Brooke pick up leftover wrapping paper, all the boys, including Red, have a beer chugging contest by the bar. Jackie is on the floor playing with Betsy.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
Let your heart be light,
From now on our troubles
Will be out of sight.

Hyde threw arms up in the air after winning the contest, beating Red out for the 'least pussy here' award. "And that's how you do it!" he gloated, slamming down his empty can of Lowenbrau.

Red smiled menacingly as he wiped his mouth. "Fine, so you're the least pussy here...but I'll still kick your ass."

"Red!" Kitty scolded.

Hyde nodded. "Understood."

Red nodded. "As long as you understand."

Hyde patted Red in the back and made his way over to Jackie. "Hey," he said, sitting down next to her and the baby.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on our troubles
Will be miles away.

"Hey. Don't you just love her?" Jackie gave Betsy a smile brighter than the Christmas tree behind her, causing Betsy to return one in kind. "I can't wait until we have a baby of our own."

"Jackie..."

"I know. I know. I'm just saying."

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore,
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Hyde worried for Jackie's possible future. But the only thought that he chose to hold onto was that his maybe "dream" had been just that, a dream. Nothing had happened at ten o'clock or any hour after. Well that wasn't entirely true, Kelso had apparently glued a AAA battery to his chin around 10:15, but other than that, nothing worth mentioning. Hyde felt a little stupid but thankfully everyone simply wrote it off as a clever Christmas morning burn, sure to soon become tradition if he knew his friends.

Jackie leaned her body in close to his until he could feel her breathe and lips on his ear. "I love you."

Through the years
We all will be together
If the Fates allow

Glenda smiled from the corner of the room. Unseen, she slowly made her way through the crowd and over to Jackie. She made a quick glance at her two helpers, Christmas present and future, both looking quite angelic in their normal appearances. When she reached Jackie, she knelt down before her and placed a hand on her tummy to make sure of one little thing. Closing her eyes, until a grateful smile washed over her face, Glenda gave a nod in the affirmative to her companions. They had accomplished what they had come here to do. The little guy had finally made it through, after nearly disappearing into non-existence.

Hang a shining star
On the highest bough,

Glenda's next stop after leaving Jackie's side was her charge, Betsy. "You're welcome," she said almost flippantly to the baby girl before kissing her gently on the head and, having fulfilled her silent promise to the child, she finally returned home.

"Hey, Jackie," Hyde whispered in her ear, "Come on, let's get everybody and hit the circle."

Glenda reappeared instantly. "Oh, no no no no no." She quickly whispered something in Jackie's ear before disappearing again.

"Eh, I don't really feel like it."

And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now

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June 28, 1982 - Santa Monica, California (18 months later)

It is a perfect, 82 degree, California afternoon. Eric, Donna, Donna's aunt, Kelso, Brooke, Fez, Maggie, Red, Kitty, Jackie and Hyde are relaxed on blankets and under umbrellas, enjoying the California sun and the sight of two children playing in the soft sand.

Jackie smacked a large glob of sun block on Hyde's back. "Ah! Damn it, Jackie! That's freezing."

She laughed at him. "Well if you weren't so white."

"Not as white as we thought," Hyde reminded her.

"Oh, you're white, baby. Look at him, that's all you," Jackie gestured with her head to their nine month old son who sat only feet away in the sand, next to Betsy. The baby sat, with chubby legs outstretched before a half buried Kelso, wearing a fisherman's cap on his head and a scowl on his face.

Kelso stared back at the baby, suspiciously. "Hyde, your son's staring at me again like he wants to kick my ass."

"He probably does."

Kitty reached over. "Oh Michael, just put his sunglasses on him if he's bothering you," she said, slipping tiny sunglasses, similar to Hyde's, on the small chubby cheeked face. Kitty giggled and clapped as the baby looked around through his new shades. "Oh! Look at him! He's so...cool," she said with a wiggle.

Hyde tried to get his son's attention while Jackie continued to douse his back and legs with sun block. "Hey, Danny, over here. Remember what I taught you about uncle Kelso. What does he like?"

Danny looked at his father and then at uncle Kelso, giving him a big smack on the head. "Ow! Thanks a lot Hyde!"

Hyde about fell over into the sand laughing. "That's my boy."

Fez laughed along with Hyde. "Burn by baby. Nice thinking, Hyde."

"Thank you."

"Steven! Sit still. I'm not done yet."

"Jackie, why do I need so much sun block anyway? That's the second bottle you've used on us today."

"Because. I will refuse to marry you tomorrow if you show up looking like a lobster in a tuxedo. I love you, Steven, but marriage lasts what? 20-30 years? Hot pictures of us will last forever."

"Ow! Hyde, make him stop!" The baby boy laughed hysterically as he continued to smack Kelso mercilessly. So Kelso turned to his sidekick, 2 year old Betsy, for support. "Come on, baby. Dig daddy out." Betsy smacked him instead and burst out into laughter too at the sound of her father's yelp. "Oh, that's REAL NICE, HYDE! I'm gonna kick your ass when I get outta here!"

"God Michael, your constant complaining is making me freakin' crazy," Jackie said, angrily, taking out her aggression on Hyde's back, making him cringe.

"I think you might've been a little crazy before," Kelso muttered under his breath.

"Shut up Michael!"

"Why don't you all just shut up!" Red said, standing up. "Now, I'm going to get a beer from the house, and when I get back, I expect to take a quiet nap on the beach. Is that clear?"

"Yes," everyone groaned, in unison.

"Red, I'm not finished putting sun block on you!"

"Kitty, sun block is for girls and men who have no longer have possession of their own balls, like Steven here." He smiled at Hyde, who sulked as Jackie smacked more block on him.

"Damn it, Jackie! I knew this stuff was for girls!" He said, as he frustratingly batted her hand away.

"So you think it's manly to walk around crying about your sunburn?"

"I didn't cry."

"Yes you did," Fez said, matter-of-factly.

Kelso yelled. "Yeah, you did!"

Eric nodded. "You did, man. We were all there."

"Shut up." Hyde turned to Jackie. "That's it, we're eloping!" He started to stand up before being pulled back down by Jackie.

"Oh no, we're not!"

Kelso suddenly laughed, unaffected by the sand the two children were pouring over his head. "Hey Hyde, I just realized that after tomorrow, I'll be able to say that I've done it with your wife instead of just the mother of your child. Awesome."

Jackie rubbed in the last of Hyde's sun block and gave him a kiss on the lips and a pat on the butt as he finally got up. "He's all yours."

"Thank you," Hyde said, leaning down and giving her another quick kiss. He sighed and smiled at her. "And now, it's time to make Kelso pretty," he said, tongue out, grinning as he grabbed her make-up bag.

Jackie returned the smile. "Have fun, baby."

"I will. Fez! Forman!" After waving his friends over, Hyde stood over Kelso with a menacing smirk.

"You can't do nothing to me, Hyde! One, I've got two babies next to me and if you mess with me, I might become frantic and accidentally get sand in their eyes. And two," he said, with a big grin. "..I did it with your wife."

Hyde smirked, his eyes plotting behind his shades. "Forman, move Betsy out of the way."

"I'm on it," Eric said, lifting her tiny body awkwardly out of the sand, causing her to cry and reach out for her little friend. "Oh, man. Tiny ...person ...making ...noise."

"I got her," Donna said, taking her and seating her in between Brooke and Jackie under the umbrella.

Hyde picked up his son, as he gnawed on his own tiny fist, and carried him over to Jackie. "Hey, nice job pissing off Kelso, man," he said, giving him a quick kiss.

Jackie took the baby. "Don't curse at him, Steven. He'll end up a degenerate."

"I think he already is one!" Kelso yelled. "He's already violent, like Hyde!"

Jackie sat Danny down next to Betsy, who squealed, obviously thrilled to see the boy whose last name she would one day take. "Steven, don't get all dirty playing with Michael. We have the rehearsal dinner in five hours."

Donna frowned at Jackie. "So are you guys really gonna stay here?"

"Yeah," Jackie said, looking around. "We like it here and plus W.B. already bought the space for Steven's store. We're gonna be rich!"

Donna nodded as she pondered whether or not to ask the question that everyone had been avoiding all day. "So, Jackie. What did the doctor say? I mean, if you don't wanna tell me, it's ok."

"No, it's fine. Um, he just confirmed what the other doctors thought. The cysts are obstructing the release of my eggs so...I just can't have anymore kids. But hey, I look at it this way, no more periods, right?" Jackie said, with a feigned enthusiasm.

"I'm sorry, Jackie."

Brooke was confused. "Well, obviously one egg got through, you two made him," she said, pointing to the baby.

"Yeah, my doctor said that he was probably my last egg," Jackie said, chuckling. "Wouldn't that be crazy if that were true?"

"Hey," Donna said. "I always said Hyde had great timing."

Hyde smirked at Kelso before kneeling down next to Eric and Fez, completing the circle around the floating, squirming head and shoulders in the sand. Fez lifted an eyebrow. "Eric, eye shadow."

Eric raised his eyebrow even more melodramatically than Fez and handed Hyde a small container of Cosmic Blue eye shadow out of Jackie's makeup bag. "Eye shadow."

Hyde grinned wickedly and passed the container over to Fez. "Eye shadow."

Kelso shook his head frantically. "I hate you, guys!"

"As you should you sexy little minx." Fez said, rubbing eye shadow sloppily across Kelso's eyelids.

Kelso twisted and bucked his head, so Hyde held in stationary. "Sit still, Kelso!"

"NO! OW! MY EYE!"

A short time later, and after making Kelso pretty, Hyde returned to the blanket next to Jackie. She had the baby on his tummy, nearly asleep as she rubbed his bare back. "Hey," he said settling down on his side to face her, the baby in between them. "What's goin' on?"

"Nothing much," she said, with a narrow smile. "Steven?"

"Hm?"

"Are you sure you wanna marry me? I mean, I know we haven't really discussed it, but what if you want more kids of your own someday."

"Eh, I'll just knock up my mistress then," he said, jokingly but after seeing the look on her face, he realized that it was a really bad joke. "Jackie, I'm kidding. C'mere." Careful not to crush his son, Hyde leaned over and kissed Jackie amorously, making sure she understood her place in his life. "Everyone I want and need is right here."

"I know but..."

"No. No more worrying. It could be so much worse, Jackie," he said, with a smile that quickly turned into an inward chuckle. "Trust me." Another kiss settled her, and they laid together in the shade, taking in the sounds of the ocean, the light breaths of their sleeping son and the laughter drawn from their own lungs as passers by whistled at the pretty girl buried in the warm California sand.

The End.

Jackie Burkhart + Steven Hyde, Forever. ;)

Thanks for reading!

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A/N 2: I would like to invite everyone check out my new story in collaboration with Gah-linda, author of Hyde bags Jackie! We've been scheming this one up for a little while now and just posted it today. It's under the pen name: gah-luvcali (clever, huh) The story is called "Do you think it's alright?" and it's in the M section. A Wedding Dress! Smut! Drama! Betrayal! True Love! Male Strippers! Fluffy Cakes? I PROMISE, this will truly be the most original, one of a kind, edge of your seat, J/H story you will ever read! That is a guarantee, my friends! So please, please check it out!

Finally: Thanks for reading my story... You guys are awesome! Please make one final review, I would totally appreciate it. Take Care.