Disclaimer: I don't own. Never will, unfortunately.
Author's Note: Since I'm wrapping up FHS, it's time to start a new story. This is my tribute to John Lennon, a man of incredible talent. I don't necessarily agree with all of his beliefs, but I have an enormous amout of respect and admiration for him. I love his music. I'm saying that for a reason, and I think you'll understand by the end of the story. You might even understand right away. :) The titles of the chapters are John Lennon songs, the subtitles are lyrics from that chapter's title. I hope I'm going to hook you again!
I'll be posting this story on Sunday nights.
Watching the Wheels
I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall… December 8, 1980 The Forman basement hadn't always been this cold, or this quiet. Sometimes, when no one else was around, Steven Hyde almost heard, literally, how it used to be, the voices of his friends, laughter, tears, screams, even sweet, slight smacking kisses. And often when he closed his eyes to sleep, just as he drifted off, images flooded the screen of his mind. Images of the group. Images of good times. Images of her, most of all.
I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall…
December 8, 1980
The Forman basement hadn't always been this cold, or this quiet. Sometimes, when no one else was around, Steven Hyde almost heard, literally, how it used to be, the voices of his friends, laughter, tears, screams, even sweet, slight smacking kisses. And often when he closed his eyes to sleep, just as he drifted off, images flooded the screen of his mind. Images of the group. Images of good times. Images of her, most of all.
He always felt himself wince when her dark hair suddenly lightened, her olive skin lightened, her tiny body stretched into a tall and willowy form that taunted him with words he couldn't quite make out. It seemed like every time that happened, when he woke up all the covers were off his bed, crumpled on the floor.
So many images of stuff that was all basically gone. Present in shadow only.
The gang was back together. All six of them, no interlopers. As it should be, or supposedly should be.
Hyde sat on his chair, a white armless one he'd been sitting in for years. He looked around from behind his shades. It was like sitting in a hospital waiting room with strangers rather than in a much-loved, much-used hangout.
1979 had been one brutal year. 1980 wasn't proving much better.
Forman had come back at the beginning of the year. Kelso, too. Hadn't made a difference. Forman was different, no longer the sarcastic, self-deprecating do-gooder he'd left as. No, Africa had gifted him with assertiveness.
Hyde's eyes settled on Forman and Donna sitting on the couch. Not touching. With space between them. He noticed Donna rolling her eyes nearly every time Forman spoke. He'd noticed that a lot lately. Someone didn't appreciate the changes in her boyfriend. Go figure, now that Forman had decided he was, in fact, worthy of Donna Pinciotti and wasn't so apt to bend over backwards to appease her.
His eyes slid past Donna, to Kelso. Good old Michael Kelso. His idiocy had only grown. Only problem was, no one had much patience for it anymore.
Fez stood behind Kelso. Ah, Fez. Hyde blinked rapidly. Still wasn't sure what to make of that whole situation. Fez hadn't brought his new friend around yet, though he'd told the gang about Terry. The man who'd changed the foreigner's life. Hyde sometimes wondered if he owned a candy store, or porn shop, maybe some freaky sex club, and Fez had made up the "I always suspected, but meeting Terry made me sure" story up to seem just a little less perverted and weird. They'd all suspected, but somehow, never really thought it. Guess they should have.
He didn't want to look at the lawn chair directly across the table from him.
And so, he didn't.
But he saw her, damned peripheral vision. Quiet and pale, like she'd been so often lately. Still beautiful. Still infuriatingly beautiful. Still stealing quick looks his way, for some goddamn reason.
He closed his eyes. Should have never let her cry on his shoulder after her talk with Fez. That night at the watertower, those tears of hers. Oddly, she'd offered to leave. Probably for the first time, she'd offered him a way out instead of forcing him in. He'd been the one to keep here there.
Now she was going to get all moony over him again. She'd try to get his attention, try to slither into him. Try to hold his hand and skip him down some yellow brick road she'd dreamed up. One lined with roses and shiny presents and constant "I love you's." She'd try to make him love her. She'd try to force him to let her love him.
What in the hell was love, anyway? Just a word with a meaning that varied from person to person…so no real meaning at all. No concrete definition. He had no clue if he'd ever felt it. Sure, he'd told her he loved her, back in the day. He'd told Sam he loved her, too, though he was pretty sure when he told Sam, he was lying and drunk and high. But who the hell knew. Maybe even with Jackie it had only been lust. A mild liking. Love? How could he have felt it if he still to this day couldn't define it?
Stupid, freaking road. A road made of fool's gold. Tricking everyone that stepped on it.
They'd been down that road one too many times. It wasn't an option anymore. It couldn't be, because inevitably, at the end of it, was steep cliff they'd both tumble over. Hell, he still was climbing back up from the last time.
She was too. And stumbling, as far as he could tell.
He turned his attention back to the television. Monday night football. Nothing else was on. Donna had insisted they spend the evening together, and now hardly anyone was saying anything. Not even the circle they'd had a few minutes…or hours…ago had been particularly entertaining.
He sighed and crossed his arms, watching as men pummeled one another in the name of a game, and a slight smile crossed his lips. He didn't care much. He was content to just sit here and watch. Watch whatever happened to happen. Maybe someone's wheels would start turning and set something, anything in motion. He'd just watch those wheels turn round and round until something, anything happened.
Turned out, that someone was Howard Cosell.
The wheel was a shocking announcement.
John Lennon was dead. Shot in New York City, shot five times. Dead. Killed by some lunatic.
The cold, the quiet of the basement didn't matter anymore.
I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round…
The football game continued, Howard Cosell resumed his play call, but Jackie Burkhart didn't notice. She did notice that none of the others noticed, either, though all of them stared at the television set, each mouth open.
John Lennon was dead. Forty years old and dead.
She looked at Steven, her heart thickening. She watched him take his glasses off. She watched those glasses slip from his fingers, fall to the floor. His fingers moved as if searching for them, but his face, now pale, kept still but for the twitching in his jaw.
"Oh my god…"
Jackie didn't look at Donna, though she'd been the first one to speak. Didn't look at Michael, or Eric when they talked, either. She watched Steven. She knew he was reeling, and that inside him, an impulse was rising fast.
"What the hell? This can't be true. Is it April Fool's day or something?"
"Change the channel. Turn it to seven. See if there's anything on the news."
"No. Turn on the radio."
Someone did, and the dj repeated the story. John Lennon was shot to death outside the Dakota, his apartment building, in Manhattan. Yoko had been with him, but was unharmed. The shooter had been arrested immediately. The doctors tried to save him, but were unable to. Too much blood lost. Too much damage.
Jackie closed her eyes, bowed her head. Tears began to well. Pain spread through her chest. Sobs, soft but rising in waves, came from somewhere, didn't seem like from her, but maybe so.
"Why are you so upset, Jackie? Do you even know who John Lennon is?"
She lifted her head and looked at Donna, the tall girl's eyes already swollen, already bright with the stain of tears. "I…of course I do, Donna," she said, with only a hint of a snap. "I'm not…I'm not an idiot." She looked away, again closing her aching eyelids.
No one knew. They all thought she only listened to Donny Osmond and ABBA, or other music like that. She couldn't really blame Donna for the slight attack.
Funny, she'd just listened to that album the other day. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. No one knew she owned it. Steven owned it. Love. Her favorite song on it. John Lennon had believed in love. It was in so many of his songs.
And now he was dead.
Her eyes opened. Steven had stood up, his eyes still locked on the television. She wasn't sure whom he was speaking to, or if he even knew that he was. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Eric take a few steps towards Steven.
The questions brought Steven focus, and he lifted his chin. She smiled, slightly. His defiance. His rebellion.
"To New York. I wanna…"
She wanted to go to him. Despite everything, she wanted to comfort him the way he had, yet again, only a few months ago, comforted her.
"I wanna be there. I have to be there." He stared at Donna. "You coming with me?"
It stung, and Jackie pursed her lips. Of course he asked Donna to go. The two of them shared a love of music, the same type of music. He figured she out of all of them understood how he felt. And besides, it wasn't as if they were together anymore. He wasn't going to ask her to go anywhere. They were friends, only friends, and hardly even that at times.
"I can't just go to New York, Hyde. I've got a job. You know, one that wasn't given to me by my daddy."
"Whatever. I'm going."
Jackie wanted to punch Donna for saying such a bitchy thing, and in fact, her right hand clenched into a fist. But as the others settled back into their seats, stunned expressions, as Steven stalked off towards his room in the back of the basement, as Eric told Donna to her face that she'd just been a total bitch, Jackie stood. No one noticed her.
She followed Steven's path and crept quietly, nervously into his room. "Steven?"
He didn't look up, continued shoving clothes into his dingy bag. "What?"
She took a few more steps. "Are you really going to New York?"
He looked up, and met her eyes. "Yeah. I am." He took a deep breath. "I just…I just have to be there. I mean, John Lennon, man. I just…Jackie, I gotta be there."
She nodded. "I know." A deep breath didn't calm her nerves, but she ignored the butterflies. Said a silent prayer that he wouldn't burst out laughing. "I want to go with you."
He didn't laugh, to her relief, but he stared. "What? Why?"
She shrugged. It was an impulse. And she wasn't sure why. At all. "I don't know. It's just…I've never been to New York, and I could really use some time away from Point Place…"
He turned his back on her. "I'm not going for a vacation, Jackie, so if that's what you're after, go to Madison or something." He snorted. "Or Chicago, maybe."
She put her hand on his shoulder. He tensed, but didn't pull away. "Steven, please. Look, I know that you love John Lennon, and you might not believe me, but I do too." He didn't turn, didn't say anything, and she sighed. Her hand slipped from his body, though his heat felt so good to the fingertips that had been cold for so long now. "I just…I wanna go with you." She lifted a shoulder. "Maybe you shouldn't go alone. I mean, New York."
He turned then, and again, his eyes locked on hers. She tried not to let him see the shiver that ruptured her body. She bit her lip. He was going to say no. Of course he was. Why would he want to go anywhere with her? He never even wanted to go to the Hub with her. That night at the watertower…that had been just a fluke. Ever since then, he'd basically been avoiding her.
Finally, he sighed and shook his head, his eyes dark and brooding, but the corners of his lips, to her surprise, lifting just a tad. "Fine. But it's not a vacation, Jackie, and we're not going shopping or anything like that, you got it?"
She nodded quickly.
I just had to let it go…
Hyde grimaced even as the smile Jackie gave him made his heart flip over. What in the hell was he thinking? Telling her she could go with him? Was he just asking for hell?
And yet, he didn't rescind. Possibly because she was so fricking hot…damn it, why couldn't she get fat or something? Plus, he was intrigued. Since when did she love John Lennon? Hell, she didn't even like anything by the Beatles after Rubber Soul. She said they got weird.
A grinding in his stomach tried to remind him that this is how it all started. He'd been intrigued by her. Curious. What would her tongue taste like…how would her breasts feel…And look where that had gotten him. On that road.
Watch out for that road, man. Fuck. Just let it go. She knows her place. I've treated her crappy enough. If she doesn't, then she's an idiot. And if she gets her feelings hurt, its her own damn fault.
He did, however, growl demands at her. "You're gonna pay for your own plane ticket, and you're not gonna bring a million suitcases." He pointed at her. "We're going over to your apartment and you get fifteen minutes to pack."
She opened her mouth to protest.
He held up a hand. "That's the deal, Jackie. So if you really wanna go…"
"Fine! So…we're flying?"
"Yep. Driving to Milwaukee and catching the first plane to New York." She nodded, and he finished stuffing his stuff into the duffel. "Lets go."
As they started to leave, a thought occurred to him, and he grabbed her arm. She turned, looked up at him with those eyes…damn, those eyes…and cemented his need to give her a warning. He raised his eyebrows. "And Jackie. I'm telling you now before we even leave that we're not getting back together. No matter what."
She gave him that innocent as a rose look, batting her eyelashes not enough to be flirtatious, but enough to suggest ulterior motives. Then she rolled her eyes. "Oh, please, Steven. Like I would ever want to get back together with you."
With her trademark hair flip, she turned and flaunted away, her backside swaying.
And damn it if his heart didn't turn literal cartwheels.
He followed her, his eyes latched on her ass.
Maybe they could have a little sex. Just a little. Comfort sex. Didn't have to mean a fricking thing. After all, she was a bitch, but she was damned hot. And he hadn't gotten any in awhile. Too long.
Fuck, why was he thinking about sex? He shook his head, losing the smile, averting his eyes from that sexy….No. No. This trip wasn't about that. It was about the death of a great man who'd been taken far too soon, and so senselessly. So violently, when all he'd sought, all he'd imagined, was peace.
His throat thickened as he got into the Camino, ignoring Jackie though he felt her eyes on him.
The radio droned on, the same stuff. John Lennon dead. Shot five times. The killer arrested at the scene, clutching a copy of The Catcher In the Rye.
John Lennon dead. He was forty years old. He leaves behind a wife and two children. Again, John Lennon dead at the age of forty.