Disclaimer: I don't own.
Author's Note: I had to start this one, just couldn't help myself. I'll be continuing Frames; actually, working on two stories is better for me, because sometimes I need a break, you know? So look for one chapter of each per week, maybe more if I'm particularly productive. About this one: This takes place (after the prologue) at the end of Season 8. I'm making up my own timelie, since it was so screwed up on the actual show, so bear that in mind. The prologue begins a few days after Season 7 ends. I'm not going to rehash Season 8, so there won't be any actual clips from the show. I'm just, hopefully, putting a twist on it. This, of course, is J/H. Thanks for reading, and I hope I've captured your interest!
Warning: Language is nasty at times. ::shaking head::
For Her Sake
Prologue – The End
Bright Lights, Big City
April 12, 1979
Bright lights. Shining lights. All the colors of the rainbow, promising the fulfillment of all an angry man could want. Booze, money, whores. A place that man could lose himself in; a place he could lose money, sexual innocence, life, everything.
Las Vegas. The city made famous by hedonistic men and shameless women. The playground of self-indulgent perversity.
Steven Hyde sat alone at a table in the front of the club he was currently visiting and smirked up at the stripper dancing seemingly especially for him. She was cheap looking, of course, but well built and close to being naked enough for his taste. He took a swig of beer, his eyes never leaving the chick. The way she teased the edges of her top, he knew it was only a matter of seconds before that top landed on the stage, temptingly close enough for him to reach out and grab.
He'd been in town about a month, and had no desire to go back to the place he reluctantly called home, Point Place, Wisconsin. His eyes narrowed, and he took another draught of his favorite beverage. Even the thought of that town, that place, those people, her, infuriated him, and he was in Vegas. He was supposed to be enjoying himself. Forgetting himself.
Forgetting the biggest god damn mistake he'd ever made in his life.
That betraying bitch of a girlfriend. Or rather, ex-girlfriend.
Not that she'd ever really mattered that much to him, of course. No. She hadn't. He could take her or leave her. And now he was leaving her.
He managed to catch the attention of a waitress and lifted his drained beer bottle towards her. "Another one." The girl nodded with a smile he hardly noticed, and he turned back to the stripper. Blonde. Tall. Long legs. Not such a gorgeous face, but pleasant enough. Good body. Nice rack.
He smiled. The top was off.
Very nice rack.
He leaned back in his chair and watched her move, studying each sway of her hips, each stretch of her leg, arch of her back. His fresh beer arrived; he hardly noticed. She was much different, the polar opposite of her. Good thing.
Ahhh, yes. This was the life. Sitting in a dark club, the majority of the lights colored and focused on naked women. Loud music, currently "Black Velvet", screaming through the joint. Cigarette smoke swirling, tumbling with the slight scented haze of marijuana. Free flowing booze. Naked women. Naked, loose women.
Yep. The life of his dreams.
Bright lights and a big city, without the slightest reminder of her anywhere in it.
An hour later
"That's him." A dark haired, dark skinned man, his face covered with a light growth of dark hair, his eyes covered by even darker sunglasses, elbowed his compainion and pointed in front of him.
The other man lowered his equally dark sunglasses on the bridge of his nose and looked in that direction. "You sure? Lemme see that picture."
The first man smirked slyly and handed his pal a photo. "No doubt about it. Look at the hair, its gotta be the same dude." He nodded. "Steven Hyde." He glared at his partner, who was making a slightly confused face as he looked back and forth between the picture and the man in question. "Gimme that, Sammy, Jesus! It's him." He grabbed the picture and shook his head.
Sammy shrugged his broad shoulders sheepishly. "Just wanna be sure. We don't wanna screw this up, Carl. Too much money riding on it."
"We're not gonna screw it up, okay? Will you just relax?" Carl turned his gaze towards the young man and studied him. "Seems he's got an eye for that one." He quickly pointed at the stripper. "Go find out her name."
"Already did. Her name is Samantha. They call her Sam, like me." He smiled goofily, until he felt the weight of Carl's guarded eyes on him. Another embarrassed shrug, and he cleared his throat nervously. "Should…should we go get the guy?"
Carl shook his head, still carefully appraising their target. He looked capable of defending himself, strong, just as nastily disposed as the boss had predicted he'd be. Not a good dresser, the ratty tee shirt and torn jeans might as well have been on one of the bums in the alley behind the club. "No. We'll wait for him outside the back door. It'll be easier to…" He smirked. "Convince him to go with us." He looked at Sammy, a bulking rock of a man, the bulk behind his brains. "Talk to the bouncer. Get him to kick our friend out. We told the boss we'd have him there by midnight."
Fifteen minutes later
Hyde stumbled backwards and rather drunkenly out the back door of Club Pleasure, glaring fire at the oversized bouncer who'd pushed him on his way. "Yeah, well fuck you!" he yelled. "There are a hundred other lousy strip clubs I can go to! I don't fucking need this one!" He turned around and nearly plummeted to the dark ground because of the tangle his feet formed. His arms instinctively extended, his head bowed, gaze on the ground, to steady himself.
Hyde looked up. The voice, cold and smug, had come from the small, pursed mouth of a stranger, a man shorter and stockier than him. Hyde furrowed his brow in confusion, and tried to stabilize his vision enough to find recognition. It didn't work. "Do I know you?"
The stranger smiled and took steps towards him, slow and smooth steps that suggested a hidden and pleasurable secret, at least to the holder. "No. But you will. We're going to…" Another smile, revealing the hint of dimples in his otherwise unremarkable cheeks. "We're going to get to know each other. Right now."
Hyde swatted his hand at the stranger and chuckled. "Whatever, man." He started to walk again, still dizzily, until a hand pounded his chest. His head snapped up. "Get the hell out of my way!"
The man smiled and shook his head, his hand firmly placed against Hyde's chest. "No." The man's free arm, the right, rose.
Hyde's eyes, unencumbered by his usual sunglasses and uncontrolled because of his inebriation, widened. The barrel of a gun faced him with an empty gaze, a deadly glare. Before he could react, the barrel moved, lowered and drew closer to him until he felt the hollow circle, cold through his thin tee shirt, in the center of his chest.
"You're coming with me and my friend here, Steven Hyde."
Another gun pressed against his back, and Hyde's body jerked in shock. He looked over his shoulder, but could only see a partial form of another, taller man. "What the hell, man? You want my money? Take my fucking money!"
"We don't want your money."
The barrel of one gun found the bridge of his nose, the other, the back of his head. He swallowed hard, and the stranger holding the gun to his face cocked he barrel. His heart punched violently and rapidly against his ribs.
Oh, Jesus, don't let this happen to me…God, why can't I move?
"We just want you to come with us. We got a friend who wants a few words with you."
The stranger smiled again, a crooked, half-lipped one that seemed ripped from a Mafia murder movie.
"Come on. We've got a nice Cadillac waiting for you. Won't that be exciting? Probably the first time you've ever seen a car this snazzy."
A strong hand that felt as big as three of Hyde's own roughly grasped his shoulder from behind. As the gun in front retreated, the gun behind his head moved to the right side of his neck and pressed a frigid kiss to his skin. Again, but this time not out of his own volition or because of his drunkenness but because of a push, he stumbled forward.
Jesus Christ, why can't I fight?
Where Are You?
Point Place, Wisconsin
Jackie Burkhart sat in her best friend's tackily decorated bedroom, on the cot, hardly wider than her slender body that had served as her bed for the past two years. She stared at the shirt her fingers clung to, a black one that still smelled faintly masculine, of him. Black as night, black as death; black as the endless pain inside of her.
The door opened, and Jackie turned. "Donna," she said, scrambling off her bed with the shirt still in hand, and rushing towards her friend. She fought the sob in her chest and threw herself against the lumberjack-sized girl. "God, Donna, I don't know what I'm gonna do! Steven's gone, and I just went to see my father, but he was released on parole and he didn't bother to tell me…" Donna didn't hug her back, actually let out an impatient sounding sigh. Jackie pulled back and glared up at her. "What, am I interfering with your plans for the night?"
Donna rolled her eyes and lightly pushed Jackie away. She turned and walked to her bed, flopping down on it with a grimace. Her eyes bored into the ceiling. "Look, Jackie, I know I always let you ruin my sweaters with your tears, but I'm just not up for it right now, okay?"
Jackie shook her head. "Are you still moping about Eric? God, get over it!"
Donna sat up, and her eyes flared fire, almost heated enough to make Jackie shiver. "Get over it? Jackie, Eric is in Africa, which is like, a million miles away. For a year. I'm supposed to just get over it?"
Jackie rolled her eyes. "He'll be back before then, Donna. He'll never last that long. Besides…" She tried to catch her breath; the words in her head rebuilt the lump in her chest. "At least you know he still loves you." She walked over to the window and stared out. Dark. So very dark. She put her hand on the window and the coolness of it seemed fitting. "I don't even know if Steven still cares about me at all. He might…he probably…"
"Maybe you should have thought of that before you had Kelso in your hotel room in nothing but a towel."
Jackie whirled around, her eyes latching onto her alleged friend, filling with about the seventh round of tears this day alone. Betrayal tightened in her stomach. "How can you say that to me, Donna? You know that I..." Her voice broke. "I love him, and I didn't…I thought I'd lost him…I just…" She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, summoning her bitchiness. Her mother had taught her well. Her eyes opened in a glare directed at Donna. "God, Donna, you're so selfish!"
Donna sat up and smiled rather incredulously. "I'm selfish? I'm selfish?"
"Yes! Donna, Eric's gonna come back, and the two of you are gonna get back together, because you're the golden couple! You'll always get back together!" Her breath sped, and the tears began to fall. She suddenly felt broken, and stumbled back to her cot. Her knees buckled forward, and she fell to her seat. She looked at the shirt she was still holding so tightly her knuckles were white. "I'm not so sure about me and Steven." Her shoulders lifted and fell wearily. "And my dad…he didn't even call me to tell me he was being released…I love them both so much and neither of them...I don't even know where they are!" She shook her head. Had to stop this before she became completely hysterical. Had to stop being so damn emotional and needy.
Had to find the Zen. Had to remember what Steven had taught her.
Steven. Where are you?
Donna's expression softened. "Jackie, look, I'm sorry, it's just been a really bad day…"
"No. Forget it." Fueled by anger, bitterness, and the deep need for escape, Jackie stood, both hands fisting her precious shirt. She hardly looked at Donna as she flounced towards the door. "Just….whatever!"
She left, slamming the door behind her, and rushed down the stairs. Before she knew it, and just in time for her tears to turn into a watershed, she was outside, on the Forman driveway, staring at the empty space where Steven's El Camino should be.
Should be, but wasn't.
Jackie lifted her shirt to her face, and buried her nose in it, hoping to inhale any essence of him lingering in the cotton. There wasn't enough, and fear that there never would be any again curdled her stomach, twisted her body into wracking sobs.
As she cried, she lifted her head. She looked around her, seeing nothing of him, then looked up into the dark sky. Endless night. Endless pain.
"Steven," she whispered. Her eyes attempted to penetrate that darkness, to find any sign. "Steven…"
There was a piercing sensation in her chest that brought chills to her skin.
"Where are you?"
Jacqueline Beulah Burkhart
Las vegas, Nevada
Hyde was sober, thanks to the several cups of coffee his captors, whoever the hell they were, had given him. He sat in a dark and smoky room, in front of a poker table littered with discarded cards, cigar butts, empty glasses that reeked of booze. One guy, the smaller one who had done all the talking, sat directly across the table. He glared at the guy, whose smirk was infuriating him. "Are you gonna tell me what the hell you want from me? 'Cause if you're not…" He quickly scanned the room. The door was only fifteen feet away, and he wasn't being restrained in anyway. "I'm out of here." He stood.
The guy's smirk didn't move, not even a twitch. "Oh, I think you'll stay."
Hyde shook his head. "Whatever." He turned and took a few steps, only to be stopped by the other thug, the big one, and another self-satisfied smile. He grimaced and tried to breath down the anger. "Get the hell out of my way." The thug met his eyes straight on, almost daringly.
Hyde took the dare and began to step around the hulk.
"Jacqueline Beulah Burkhart."
Instantly, Hyde stopped, mid-step. His blood seemed to stop its flow, his heart stopped beating, his breath caught where that heart, though he liked to deny it, lived in his chest. His eyes focused on the guy in front of him, but his attention was on the voice of the man at the table.
And her name echoed in his mind.
Jacqueline Beulah Burkhart.
"Do you know her? Gotta tell you, she is one hot chick."
Hyde slowly regained motion, and he turned around. He swallowed, and his hands involuntarily clenched into fists. His abductor's smile broadened, and Hyde did his best to keep the Zen. Keep his cool. Other than the fact that he didn't understand why or how this guy knew Jackie's name, he didn't give a rat's ass. All he felt now was hate, and soon even that would fade into apathy. She was nothing to him. Nothing at all. Not after that crap with Kelso. He shrugged. "She's nothing to me."
"Oh, no?" The guy picked up a picture, a large one, about 8 by 10, and showed it to Hyde. It was her, smiling brightly, as beautiful as always. Hyde could almost see those eyes, two different colored jewels, sparkling with the considerable vibrancy her tiny body contained. "Not even now?"
Hyde's Zen faltered, his lips pursing, his jaw clenching, when the man picked up his gun and almost lovingly caressed the side of Jackie's face with the business end of his gun.
Instinctively, his eyes closed.
She became real, not just a picture, standing in front of him. Her eyes widened with fear, her pink lips parted, mouthed his name. She lifted a delicate hand to her chest to clutch her shirt with pink fingernails. Her slight shoulders shook, and her long eyelashes brushed her olive, oh-so-smooth and soft skin when her eyes closed. The gun pressed into her temple.
It was so real, right there, on the screen of his closed lids.
Shit, is she in danger? How? Who IS this asshole? How does he know Jackie? What in the hell did she do to get messed up with these freaks?
His eyes opened, and he looked angrily at the bastard. "What in the hell is this about?"
This time, his voice was quiet.
The man chuckled. "Sit down, Steven. There's someone I'd like you to meet."