Don't Stand so Close to Me. By Sooki. I own nothing.
Summary: A what if… Eric is back six months early to fix the wrongs in his friends lives. Set in season 8, which I've only watched once. Details might be off. I'm messing with the season 8 timeline. J/H and H/D with some K/B F/? Rated M for Language and Smut.
A/N If I had my way, season 8 would have ended with one of them waking up ala Newhart claiming it had been a terrible night mare. Or it would have been revealed they were all pod people. Don't Stand so Close to Me belongs to the Police.
One other thing. I am going on vacation tomorrow and won't be able to update. Half of this story is done already, so I'll post the first three chapters tonight. Please review!
Eric Forman believed in true love. He knew this was why he was considered to be girly, but he couldn't help it. He knew in his heart that good always prevailed over evil and that the hero always got the girl in the end. If it could happen with Luke and Leia, it could happen with anyone. Here he was, in Africa, trying to do what was right for his girl. He knew that she didn't understand, but it was something he had to do. He did the right thing when he broke up with her. She didn't need to be sitting around waiting for him. If they were meant to be together, they would be.
However, at this moment, he wasn't thinking of his Donna. He was thinking of Jackie, and the hurt she must have been going through. He never thought he would feel any sympathy for the girl he considered the devil, but the last time they had talked, she sounded so broken that he literally ached for her. For the last two months, they had started writing back and forth to each other. She would tell him about life in Point Place, of how Donna was seeing some new guy, how Fez was sleeping around, Kelso had moved to Chicago and back again, and how Hyde was treating her. He thought it was low that he had stayed with the stripper, but that was hardly the worst of it. He went out of his way to hurt her on a regular basis. Her letters were often tear stained, which is how he knew she wasn't exaggerating. In return, he wrote to her about his experiences in Africa, of how the bugs were too big, it was too hot, but the kids were eager to learn, so it made it worth it.
In Jackie's last letter, she told him how she was starting to develop feelings for Fez and it was this letter, and not any of the others, that broke his resolve to stay in Africa. He had stayed long enough to get a partial scholarship though, and it was enough to at least get him started when he went back home. Besides, it was time he made things right again.
He knew that everyone would be surprised when he showed up unannounced, but after given it careful consideration, he knew it was the only way to forward with his plan. Besides, he didn't feel like he could stand everyone making a big deal out of his return.
He sat next to an old woman who kept talking about her cats, each one named after someone in the Bible She showed him her pictures. "And this one is Elijah, and this one is Paul, and here is Mary Magdalene… as she was showing him the pictures one fell out of a little girl with dark brown hair.
"Who is this?" He asked her.
"Oh, that's my daughter. She's in her forty's now. We don't talk though, she's an alcoholic married to some no good council man. I do miss my grand daughter though."
Eric looked at the picture again. "Your granddaughters name wouldn't be Jackie Burkhart would it?" he asked her.
She looked surprised. "It is! This is my daughter Pamela!"
Eric smiled at Jackie's grandmother. "Jackie is a friend of mine. Wow, it really is a small world after all!"
"How is my Jacqueline?"
"She's okay. Her life hasn't been the best, but she has us."
Her grandmother smiled sadly. "Yeah, her parents aren't the best people. Do you think she would mind if I were to call her sometime?"
"She would love it." He told her.
He spent the rest of the flight catching her up on Jackie. She asked once if they were an item, so he showed her a picture of Donna.
"Oh, she's very pretty." She told him.
He could see the kitchen light was still on, which meant that someone was still up. He hoped it would be Hyde, he didn't know if he could take his mother's gushing at the moment. As he looked inside, he saw that he was right. His best friend was standing in front of the refrigerator, most likely looking for a quick midnight snack. Eric opened the door.
"Hey." Eric said, not wanting to scare his friend.
Hyde turned around, shocked at the familiar voice. "Forman!"
The two grinned at each other as Eric sat down at the kitchen table. Hyde opened up a pudding pack and started to eat.
"Man, is it good to see you again!" Hyde said as he sat down across from his best friend. "What are you doing back so soon?"
Eric shrugged, and replied honestly, "True love."
"Uh man, I don't know how to tell you this, but Donna is with some other guy now."
Eric again shrugged. "I know, and believe me, I'll figure that out later, but this time, I'm here for you."
Hyde looked at Forman as though he had grown two heads.
"Forman, what the hell are you talking about?"
With that, Eric started rumbling through his bag until he found what he was looking for. He dropped the huge stack of letters in front of his friend.
"Read these." I'm gonna go upstairs and get some sleep. With that, he left the kitchen.
Hyde stared at the letters in front of him. He could recognize the handwriting of his ex, and he couldn't help but wonder why she never told them that she had been writing to Forman. The letters were dated, and in chronological order. He picked up the first one and started to read.
How is Africa? I know you're probably wondering why I'm writing to you of all people, and honestly I'm not sure I know why. Maybe it's because I consider you a friend, even if you don't feel the same way. I miss you though, we all do.
I'm sure by now you have heard all about the Chicago incident. I can assure you, nothing happened. Michael was just being an idiot, as per usual. I can't say I'm surprised that Steven bailed, because that's what he does. I think it gave him the perfect excuse to get out of the relationship. He wasn't happy. I just wish he had talked to me about it like a man, instead of taking the coward's way out. Sorry Eric, but your best friend is a dill hole. How I wish I didn't love him.
He came back, married to some stripper. Oh, I'm not good enough for marriage but some stranger is? He even told me that marriage was okay when it was with the right person. What a bastard."
"No, Steven doesn't know I wrote to you. Fez knows, but that's it. I've started to work for Christine St. George as her assistant. She's a major bitch who threatens to fire me at least once a day. I'm thinking about making a voodoo doll. Hey, Africa has Voodoo dolls right? Want to send me one?"
"Tonight Donna invited me over to her house for a slumber party, guess who was there? That's right, Sam. Sam and I started to fight, and Donna took her side. I can't believe it, my best friend choosing some boyfriend stealing stripper over me? I know you think I'm the devil and all, but I'm not that bad am I?"
Hyde sighed and read the next letter.
"Why do I get myself into these situations? I went to a bar tonight, the seedy one that you guys went to that one time with the fake ids. The one where Steven's father worked at. I bought a bottle of expensive whiskey and whined about my problems to the poor bar keep. There was this man there. We danced a little, and I thought about doing it with him, but the thought of Steven stopped me. How sad is it that even though he's moved on I can't do it with someone because it feels like a betrayal?"
He couldn't believe it. He had wondered why she never went out with anyone, they all had. Jackie never seemed like the type to wallow. He was starting to feel like an ass. But there was an uncomfortable feeling in his chest at the thought of her being with someone else. He pushed it aside.
He continued reading.
"So apparently I'm a slutbag. Tell me Eric, do I look like Pam Macy or Laurie to you? I've been with two people! Two! I'm not the one who cheated! They did! Someone should get than man a dictionary."
Well, that explained the Webster's dictionary he had gotten from her as an early birthday present.
"It's a dictionary." He said, stating the obvious.
"Yeah, well, I thought your vocabulary could use a little refining. Make sure you look in the S's, that's my favorite letter." Her voice was dripping with sarcasm. Before he could reply though, she got up and left the basement.
Now that he knew what had brought that on, he couldn't help but laugh. She had a wicked sense of humor. He read the next letter in the stack.
"Today I went into the basement, and found only Sam there. I was about to leave but she stopped me, saying she wanted to talk." Hyde was surprised; Sam had never mentioned this to him. He read the letter, intrigued.
"I told her I'd rather talk to a chimpanzee, but she said that we had unfinished business. I don't know why she would say this. She laid into me, saying I was a bitch and that I deserved nothing but pain. I told her to shove it.
Now, I have two options. Either I tell him about the conversation and risk him saying she's right and burning me, or pretend I never talked to Sam and, as Styx says, carry on"
He couldn't believe it. He knew Sam was jealous of Jackie, but he had no idea that there had been a confrontation.
The next letter had another one stuck to it. He pulled them apart and saw that the handwriting was different. Hyde figured that it must have been one of Forman's.
Africa is sweet. There's this little girl who wants to be Princess Leia! How cool is that? You know, the more I hear about this Sam girl, the more I wish I could be there to help. Or at the very least, encourage you to beat the crap out of her. Why haven't you beaten the crap out of her? You did it with Laurie." Eric's letter was filled with Star Wars references, bad puns and wimpy diatribe about how he had faith in Jackie and Hyde, even though they didn't.
The next few letters were all about her new undying love for Fez. He had been surprised when she announced she was going to win Fez, but he hid his shock with heavy hitting burns.
In his hand, he had the last letter Jackie had sent to Eric. He looked at the date, three days ago.
Has Africa cooled down? That's what you get for not going to some place with air conditioning! I'll send you some bug spray next time I write.
I heard from Fez that Steven hated me the entire time we were together. Why be with someone if you hate them? I really don't believe him, but whatever. If it makes it easier for him to convince himself we were nothing all along, then okay. It hurts so much, Eric, you have no idea.
Except, I know you do. Even though Donna is with Randy, she still loves you. I can tell.
I think this might be my last letter for awhile. I have enjoyed our correspondence, but I think it's time I got up and proved the rest of the gang wrong. My parents leaving didn't break me; and Michael and Steven? They won't break me.
Fez and I are going out tomorrow night. I'm very excited. I know this means I'll have been with everyone but you, but he's good for me, maybe someday I'll love him the way I love Steven.
Hyde looked at the clock on the wall. It was already four thirty. He gathered up the letters and went downstairs to his room to try to sleep.