A/N: Thanks to everyone who's reviewed. Two posts in two days! Yay!
OK, I want to make sure we're all on the same page because, you know, I think we aren't. Remember the title…
Eric Clapton fell totally, completely, crazily, self-destructively in love with Pattie Boyd while she was married to George Harrison, and wrote 'Layla' (named after a Persian story about a man who falls desperately, crazily in unrequited love with a woman named Layla) with her in mind. (I bet you knew that part just from knowing the song, and if you don't know it, for the love of GOD listen to the song. Totally one of my all time favorites. Especially that piano solo by Jim Gordon, who later killed his mother with a hammer.) Well, several years later, Pattie kicked a cheating George to the curb and took up with Clapton with no hard feelings any way about it (at least openly). She was his muse, he wrote songs dedicated to her, and he stayed friends with George Harrison. After being married for a relatively short time (a shorter time than he had sadly, crazily, self-destructively pined for her) Clapton cheated. Repeatedly. Knocked up two different women. No shit. All those years of love came to nothing but the memories… They split up, Pattie swore she would never marry again, and life went on.
Ok…so what I said about seeing a similarity between Boyd/Clapton and J/H... Please don't hate me. If a happy ending is super important to you, I understand that you might not want to read this. But still…leave me a review and let me know if you don't hate me. And thank you to luvcali for putting up (and helping) with my crap about sad stories and last lines. :)
Bell Bottom Blues
January 1, 1980, 1:23am
The rest of the gang cleared the basement, leaving Hyde and Jackie alone and contemplating the new decade. He sat in his chair, openly staring at her as she lounged on the couch, deep in thought. Her gently curled hair, her fuller figure, her peaceful expression all justified what he had thought so many years ago…she only got more gorgeous as she got older. A stab of self-loathing shot through him at that thought...if he had just been a little more reasonable and a little less stupid, he would still have her. Too caught up in gazing at the way her body had changed in the past months, he failed to notice that she had opened her eyes and was now staring back.
"What?" she asked, rather irritated to find her ex-boyfriend leering at her.
"Nothing," he responded, picking a magazine up and burying his face in it, even as he continued to glance at her. God, to think Fez was the one who got to touch her, now. This must be how Kelso felt when he came back from California, Hyde thought to himself.
"HYDE," she screeched, clearly already uncomfortable from being alone in the room with him, "what the hell is wrong that you keep looking at me like that!"
"I never knew you were so fuckin' shy about being looked at," he mumbled to himself.
"Oh, I have no problem with being admired, Steven Hyde, but I would rather not be ogled by a stupid pig with a butt ugly mustache who threw me overboard for a stripper!"
Stroking his mustache self-consciously, he thought about Sam. "Come on, Jackie, what was I supposed to do when she showed up? Just…abandon her?" Jackie screeched as she turned to face him.
"That's the problem, Steven!" Her voice was filled with pain and anger, and she blinked her eyes several times, obviously willing herself not to cry as she stared into the eyes of the man she had loved. "I would have done anything for you…I sacrificed my chance to be a star for you! I loved you, Steven! And you…you… When you had to choose between me and a blonde whore you hardly knew…you chose her. And it wasn't just you…it was…" Jackie's anger turned into sadness as she sat back on the couch, unable to stop a few tears that leaked down her cheeks. "What I'll never understand, you know, is how you…Steven Hyde…the guy who barely even believes in marriage, saw a fake Vegas marriage as being so damn important! After so long together…why did I mean so little to you?" Shaking her head sadly, Jackie wiped away her tears.
"You did mean something to me! You meant…" Hyde felt his own eyes sting with tears he wouldn't shed as he remembered the situation he had been in when Sam arrived. "So, what, you're telling me that you would have forgiven me for marrying Sam," he noticed Jackie's violent shudder on that name, "if I had just divorced her right away?" She looked at him like he imagined she would look at a child who had just asked the stupidest thing ever.
"Yes, Steven," she sighed, "I would have forgiven you for her just like I forgave you for the nurse, if you had only done something to show me that you loved me and you wanted me. That's all I ever wanted from you, you know? It wasn't grand gestures and marriage proposals; it was the little things where you failed me." She lowered her eyes to her lap as her tears stopped. "I could have forgiven you…"
"But you can't forgive me anymore?" he asked quietly, betraying too much of himself as he met her eyes. Jackie stared at him in shock.
"Are you telling me you want to be forgiven?"
"Yes," he mumbled, "I never wanted to hurt you." Instead of pacifying her, though, it only seemed to reignite her anger.
"Oh, you never wanted to hurt me…you just…didn't mind it so much when it happened, is that it?" He shook his head in the negative but didn't have time to answer before she charged on. "You are so full of shit, Steven Hyde! You never loved me at all! You never looked at me as anything but a pest or a tumor!"
"I did love you!" Hyde shouted at the top of his lungs, barely surprised by the sudden passionate rage it stirred.
"No, Steven," she sighed in defeat. "If you had loved me, we wouldn't be where we are now. You wouldn't have been so stupid and insecure about everything. You wouldn't have cheated on me…you wouldn't have married that whore…you wouldn't have ignored me since you got back from Vegas."
"But I was insecure because I loved you! You were always running back to Kelso, and I was so scared that I was gonna lose you…"
"When was I always running back to Michael? WHEN? I was done with him by the time we were together, Steven. And if you had loved me, you would have…"
"I fucking loved you before you noticed me as anything but the loser in the basement! I had to fucking watch you run back to him again and again…"
Jackie's eyes widened in shock. "Wh-what?"
"Since Junior fucking Prom, Jackie, when you were still with Kelso, I…" Her mouth fell open dumbly as he stood from his chair and sat next to her on the couch, laying a gentle hand on her arm. They hadn't touched in so long that the contact made them both a little dizzy.
"Why didn't you act on it?" she asked after several long minutes of looking into his eyes, seeing the truth of his words, remembering the few small moments they had shared together, the touches and even kisses that she had eventually dismissed because…well, it was Hyde.
"I tried." He shrugged his shoulders. "You always wanted him…that never changed." A defeated look crossed his face and Jackie shook her head sadly.
"No…that's not true. Don't you remember when I liked you…" She trailed off, remembering the massive crush she had harbored. "I tried, too, you know. On multiple occasions. You always pushed me away."
"Yeah, like on our first date," he grumbled, remembering the sharp sting of rejection as she told him she felt nothing.
"What, exactly, was I supposed to do?" They stared hard at each other. "Just say, 'Gee, Steven, I really like you and all, but I don't want to become the next slut you nail on my car…'?"
"You really think that's all I wanted from you?" Hyde was shocked at the idea, and the stab of guilt he felt at Jackie's clear sincerity angered him.
"Well, what was I supposed to think? You ignore me forever, you write a freakin' Haiku about what a pest I am, you avoid me after every time anything happened between us…and then suddenly you want to take me out to Inspiration Point?"
"Maybe you were supposed to think that I wanted to try…"
"Try what, Steven?" She looked at him pointedly, reading the same blank shock she expected. His 'I don't know' face. "You wanted a relationship? You wanted a girlfriend?" Hyde was startled by those questions. After so long of telling himself that he and Jackie had missed out after that date… Had he wanted Jackie for a girlfriend? Hell, he was barely ready for that when she really had become his girlfriend…there was no way it would have worked back then. "You just wanted someone to have sex with! You didn't want me at all!"
"That's not true," Hyde firmly denied that charge. "I did want you." The honest truth of that statement was obvious, but Jackie just shook her head.
"So what, then? You wanted me to just put out and be, what, your little fuck buddy?" She spat the words at him, and Hyde blanched at the accusation in her eyes. "And you think that might have…what? Turned into a real relationship? Turned into a better relationship that the shitty one we got where you ran around screwing nurses and strippers? That sounds like some stupid, horny fantasy." She paused to glare at him. "No, Steven. If I'm glad for any part of our relationship, it's that we didn't do anything back then. Whatever might have happened, I bet it would have been even worse than what we got." He quietly absorbed the harsh descriptions of their relationship, knowing in his heart that it was anger and hurt that had erased all the good from her mind. But then, he had always been a little guarded, a little aloof, a little removed.
"So did you really feel nothing?" Hyde asked, brushing back more serious questions in favor of the one that had always plagued the back of his mind.
Jackie laughed derisively. "That's really bothered you, hasn't it?" She shook her head at him before continuing. "I don't know what I felt, Steven," Jackie confessed. "I was scared…too scared to…" Jackie shrugged her shoulders, letting him fill in the blanks. "Besides, you said the same thing."
"I was scared, too," he admitted. "You and Kelso…"
"'Me and Kelso' WHAT, Steven?"
"You were always…"
"Why did you always have to make such a big deal about Michael?!"
"Well, did it ever occur to you that I didn't want to stand in the way of true love?" he asked, rolling his eyes to cover up the hurt. The sharp slap on his cheek shocked him.
"Michael and I were never anything close to true love, and you know it! You know it! You just kept feeding yourself that stupid crap as an excuse to push me away back in my sophomore year and you used it to ruin our relationship!" Hyde paled at the truth of her accusation, at the way he had always made Kelso into something he wasn't. "What you and I had, Steven…" She trailed off, squeezing her eyes closed against her tears.
Staring at Jackie as she sat on the couch brought to mind the summer they had bonded over television and secret makeouts. "Why were you so willing to do things without a relationship when we finally got together, then?"
"Because we did have a relationship, Steven, even if you didn't want to admit it. You didn't see anyone else…you were always happy to see me…you even took me on dates." Hyde smiled at the memory of their trips to the Hub.
"That's basically what we had back on Veteran's Day," Hyde offered, "except you were…you know… with Kelso…"
"FINE, Steven!" Her eyes flared with anger as she responded. "I wasn't over Michael back in my Sophomore year. Fine. I was still half in love with the dufus before you and I started dating, therefore it's my fault you slept with a nurse and married a whore. Is that it?"
"No, Jackie. It was all me. I know that, okay? I know you tried. I was scared, and that wasn't your fault. You were the first person that made me feel…" Hyde didn't finish his sentence, instead letting his gaze fall over Jackie's small body, so close to his on the sofa. He was flooded with memories of how much he had felt for her, how scared he had been of losing her, how good he had felt when he was with her… As if by a magnetic pull, his mouth lowered to hers.
"Jackie," he groaned lightly as his lips brushed over hers. The fireworks he remembered from each time he had kissed her were still there, exploding behind his eyes, so he deepened the kiss, pushing her backwards on the couch and sliding his body on top of hers. His hands worked over her, relearning the delicate curves that he hadn't been able to touch in so long. "Jackie, I've missed you so much," he whispered into her mouth, not letting their lips part. Their tongues tangled together passionately before Jackie pulled away enough to speak.
"Steven, I…" Instead of saying the words he longed to hear, though, she jumped up from the couch, pushing him away from her in horror. "NO!" She wiped her mouth and tried to steady her shaking hands as she stared at him. "I can't love you anymore, Steven. Maybe if you had kicked out the stripper, maybe if you had trusted me a little, maybe if you had gotten it through your stupid head that I didn't love Michael anymore, maybe if you hadn't slept with that nurse…" She shook her head sadly at all the memories. "I tried to forgive you for a lot, Steven. I tried to love you despite the fact that you almost never did anything to show me that you loved me. I tried to always stand by you…"
"I'm so sorry, baby," he whispered, still seated on the couch. Being presented with the list of unforgivable things that she had forgiven him for cut him to the bone. How had he managed to overlook how good she was? He had always been too concerned with protecting his heart to notice that he was just setting himself, and her, up for heartbreak. Every horrible thing he had done to her…they all came back to his own insecurities; the same insecurities, in fact, that Jackie had tried to reassure him about on Veteran's Day.
"It's too late," Jackie shook her head sadly. "You really…you really hurt me." Hyde nodded, finally accepting what she was saying. "You killed a part of me, Steven. And I just can't…" Shaking her head sadly, she seemed to remember something. "And I'm with Fez, now."
"Oh, come on Jackie, anyone can just by looking at you two that you don't love Fez." Jackie nodded her head, not rejecting the accusation.
"Did it ever occur to you that maybe I don't want love anymore? I had love with Michael and I had love with you…and together, you two made up most of the bad things in my life. I don't want that again, St-" She paused. "I don't want that again, Hyde."
"So, what, you're just giving up?" he asked, confused by the un-Jackie sentiment. Jackie was the one person he had known in his life that never seemed to give up on anything. She shrugged her shoulders with resignation, but not sadness. Tremendous guilt wracked his body...he had never imagined that Kelso had been so correct in his assessment that they had ruined her.
"You gave up when you stayed married to that whore. Michael gave up when he moved away. Eric and Donna gave up. Why am I the only one that's not allowed to give up, Hyde? Why do I have to keep trying to put things back together when my friends are perfectly happy to watch everything go to hell?" She shook her head sadly, but her eyes reflected a hardness he had never imagined in the girl he had loved. "I just want to feel safe. I just want to know that I'm not leaving my heart in the hands of a person who doesn't care what happens to it. And clearly…I'm the only one that cares." She shrugged her shoulders, simply stating the obvious and not looking to hurt her former lover.
"Jackie, I'm so sorry." He lowered his head in defeat. The utter irony, he thought, was that he was supposed to be the asshole with trust issues, but he was the one wearing his heart on his sleeve and getting rejected by the most trusting person he had ever met. That person…the Jackie that trusted him with her heart…she was gone.
"I forgive you, Steven. I forgave you a long time ago. But…it doesn't mean we can be together." Hyde nodded sadly, really accepting for the first time that things were over with Jackie, and that he had been the one that ended it. The woman standing in front of him wasn't the girl he remembered…wasn't the girl he had loved.
Slowly, he rose from the couch and pulled her small frame into his arms. For one moment, he was several years younger, holding onto Kelso's girl, their whole future ahead of them. In the next, he was older, letting go of Fez's woman, and accepting that their 'future' was now in the past. One last, lingering squeeze, and he released her into a world that didn't include him and to a man he could never be. 'The more things change,' he thought to himself as he grabbed his coat and headed out into the new decade.
A/N: Please review. Please. PLEASE. I'm gonna be pulling my hair out over this, so please let me know what you think. I hope maybe it gave you the same kind of closure it gave me.
PS. If you haven't already, check out my Christmas Fic. It's got a happier ending. :)