The Choice of a Lifetime

Epilogue – The Life

Happy Hideaway Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, 1978

He stood in the doorway, holding loosely to the towel that he'd just inadvertently pulled off his best friend. His heart felt disintegrated, and thank god for his sunglasses or else the girl he stared at, the girl who'd supposedly loved him, would see the hurt. Would see that she'd broken him. He dropped the towel, ignoring the small clucking sounds from her throat, and turned to leave.

"Steven, no! Wait!"

A small hand on his elbow stopped him with a tug harder than she should be capable of. He stopped.

Couldn't help it. Despite himself, this girl…he loved her.

She held onto his arm, digging her fingers into him so he couldn't escape. "Nothing…" Her voice was thick, too thick to speak clearly through, and she coughed. "Nothing happened, Steven. Michael is just…well, he's being Michael. He was trying to seduce me, but I swear to you, Steven, I SWEAR that I wasn't gonna…." She broke down and let go of his arm, her head bowing and the tears falling. "I love you so much, Steven, I would never do that to you…I swear!"

He whirled around, his face turning red, and pointed at her. "Damn it, Jackie, if you love me, then why in the hell was he here?"

"Because I thought you didn't want me, Steven! When I told you I was leaving, you didn't care! You just told me to have a nice trip! I thought you didn't love me!" Her voice was loud, and she moved her tiny body close to his. She poked him in the chest. "I thought you didn't love me, Steven!"

Steven Hyde stared at her for a long moment, then swallowed hard and looked down towards the floor, though what his eyes picked up on was her hand on his chest. "I guess I can see why you thought that." He tried to breathe. Every instinct in him told him to run, to go back home, and forget this chick. To forget he'd ever had the impulse to ask her to marry him. To forget he'd loved her. To forget that he'd realized that he always would.

Something kept him in the hotel room. Some stupid shred of hope.

He grimaced. Hope. Sure. He knew what was coming. Might as well give her an ultimatum. See how she liked it. See how she dealt with it. He stepped away from her touch, then stalked around her into the hotel room, pacing tiny circles on the floor.

"You have to choose, Jackie, me or Kelso. You can't say you love me then go running off to him every time I don't do what you want me to. 'Cause if that's what you want, then I'm out of here, Jackie. I mean it."

Jackie smiled. She felt strength returning to her body, her soul. There was still hope…he wasn't slamming the door on her. He's not running off to Vegas to marry a random stripper. She frowned, her brow furrowing. What in the hell kind of thought was that? Where had it come from? Whatever. She shook her head and again smiled, moving to him and putting her hands on his chest. "Steven," she said. She looked up, reached up and took his sunglasses off. She hooked it on his shirt, and to her surprise, he removed them and tossed them behind him onto the bed. "Steven, I chose you a long time ago. Sometimes I think…" She flushed. "Sometimes I think I chose you even before I was born. I just…I didn't wait for your answer because I was so scared." She looked down. "I love you so much that it really scares me sometimes, Steven."

She leaned into him, her forehead resting on his chest, and Hyde closed his eyes. God, he still wanted to just run. This shit was too hard, too frustrating.

But she was still here. She loved him.

And she was the thing keeping him here. Or rather, the fact that he loved her was the thing keeping him here.

"Yeah, I uh…I guess I get that."

She looked up, smiling in surprise, and when their eyes met, her smile only grew. "I scare you, too, don't I Steven?"

He rolled his eyes and looked away, but his hands lightly held her waist.

"You get scared of losing me, too!"

He smiled slightly. Couldn't help it. This chick…she was something. That damned excitement and passion in her voice. "Whatever," he muttered.

For a long moment, they stood together, touching slightly.

"I…Jackie, I…"

Jackie looked up at Steven. "Yeah, Steven?"

Their eyes met, and for the first time, he ignored the warning voices in the back of his mind that told him he wasn't good enough for her, that she'd leave him for someone else, that he'd lose her. For the first time, he allowed himself to follow what he wanted instead of what the fear wanted. "Look, I don't know about marriage or anything." He cleared his throat. "But I know that…I know that I want you to come home with me. I know that I wanna be with you."

"Oh, Steven!" She beamed, and a few sprinkling tears of joy fell from her lower lashes. "That's all I wanted to know!"

She jumped up into his arms, and their lips crashed together in a scalding kiss. He stumbled blindly towards the bed and pushed her down, never taking his lips off hers.

Later on, they lay naked underneath the covers on the bed. Jackie gingerly held up the broken sunglasses and gave Steven a shy smile. "I uh…I think I fell on these."

Hyde shrugged and took the twisted frames from her. He tossed them to the floor and grinned. "It's cool. I can always get another pair." He stared at her, her beautiful face, still glowing with the sweat from the heat and passion they'd just shared. His arm was around her shoulders, and he drew her closer. "Guess I probably couldn't get another you, though."

Jackie sat straight up, her hand flying to her bare breasts. "Oh my god, Steven, that was probably the sweetest thing you've ever said to me! I KNEW that you…oh, I just…You're so…Oh Steven…"

He laughed, too hopped up on the afterglow of amazing sex and the relief of being with this goofy chick again to be angry with himself for being so Forman-like. "Jackie," he said, turning to her and taking her face in his hands. "God, just shut your piehole!"

And he forced her too, with yet another electrifying kiss.

A little later, after their third round, she sat on top of him, smiling down at him as she panted and tried to come down. She brushed back a few damp curls from his forehead. "I love you so much, Steven," she whispered. She lowered her self to him, brushed his lips, then buried her face in the crook of his neck.

Hyde held her, his hands roaming her back and rear end. He tried to catch his breath, all the while knowing it wasn't going to be much longer until he had to have her again. As he lay there, holding her, for the first time in a long, long time, he felt peace. He felt sure. This girl was his. Her heart pounding in perfect time with his told him that. "Jackie," he said quietly, huskily. "There's, uh, there's something else I know. You know, beside the fact that I want you to come home with me."

She lifted up. "Yeah? What's that?"

He brushed a strand of black and silken hair out of her eyes, tucking it behind her ears. And he smiled. "I know that I love you."

The sun seemed to burst in her eyes, and for a moment, she couldn't say a word.

And then, the love and happiness in those unmatched eyes took on a wicked gleam. She pressed her chest into his. "Oh, Steven," she purred, lowering her lips to just above his. "You are gonna get SO much sex tonight!" He grinned and started to say something, but she shook her head. "Shut your piehole!"

She kissed him, and he did as he was told.

Somewhere above the earth, deep in the blue of the sky, among the clouds, an angel smiled. He walked away from the sweet scene. "Oh, Love, there will definitely be a wedding," he said to himself. He sighed happily. Vetri and Love, probably the two UBS he'd enjoyed guiding more than any other. Together because they'd chosen one another.

Soulmates. Quite literally.

He walked on, knowing he had another UBS waiting for him.

"I hope they name their first son Paul."

He laughed. Knowing Love, she'd probably insist upon it, and poor Vetri wouldn't stand a chance. Just as they'd chosen it to be.

Our End...their beginning