Disclaimer: Don't own.
Author's Note: The end at last! What a fun story this has been to write - I only regret that it took me so freaking long to finish it. I'm sorry for that. I really hope you've enjoyed it. Thank you to everyone who's read, and a special, extra-huggy thank you to those who've reviewed! I've had amazing reviews on this story, and they mean so very much to me. Just a note about the song titles and lyrics used in this chapter. I used two Lennon songs, Love and Woman. The lyrics for the sections where its Hyde's point of view are from Love, and for Jackie's point of view, from Woman. (Remember, Love is Jackie's favorite Lennon song, and Woman is the song that...you'll see. Hee.) The last section is a combined lyric for a combined point of view. I hope that Hyde's conclusion about his feelings for Jackie is satisfying for everyone!
I asked you to think about what story you'd like me to focus on next. Since then, I've been inspired to do a sequel to Choice of a Lifetime, so that's what I'm going to do. It should be a relatively short story, though, so I'd still like to know which story you'd like me to continue soonest. :)
Love b/w Woman
Love is feeling, feeling love
For the first time in Hyde's life, the circle wasn't working. He sat in his office with Leo, begging his head, his mind, to just let the stuff do its finest. But it did nothing. Didn't drive Jackie out of his mind. He could still hear her, see her, feel her touch.
Even the smoke looked like Jackie and he watched it. It fluttered around just like she always did. Then danced sexily, giving him that one smile that drove him insane. He shook his head and the smoke turned back into just smoke again. "Damn it," he muttered, looking down. That chick – hell, he was never going to get her out of his system. If even the circle couldn't do it, nothing else stood a chance.
Leo frowned at him. "What's the matter, man? You're mopey." His eyes lit up and he grinned. "You're in love with Loud Girl!"
Hyde glared at the man. "What in the hell are you talking about, Leo?"
Leo shrugged and took another hit. "Man, I don't know. Just came to me. You're always mopey when you have problems with Loud Girl." He gave a mellow nod and blinked his eyes slowly. "It was inspiration, man."
Hyde raised an eyebrow. "And here I thought you'd never remember that conversation."
Leo furrowed his brow. "What conversation? Hey, I thought Loud Girl went to Cairo. Did she come back?"
Hyde chuckled and looked down at the floor. "Yeah. She came back." He sighed and shook his head. Might as well spill his guts to Leo. Why the hell not? Chances were even better that he'd forget or mix it up later considering their activity. "The problem is that I don't know if I love her or not. I can't figure it out."
Leo nodded. "You know what I can't figure out? Jumbo shrimp." He shook his head. "Its shrimp, man, not jumbo. I mean, jumbo is, like, big, man, and I never seen a really big shrimp. Have you?"
"No." Hyde took the joint from Leo and took a hit, not that it was doing any good. He gave it back and grinned. "You spend a lot of time thinking about that?"
Leo smiled. "Yep." Then he frowned. "Why, don't you?"
Hyde sighed. Right. If only his biggest problem was the paradox of jumbo shrimp. "Kind of hard to, man," he said. "All I can think about is Jackie." Leo looked puzzled and Hyde rolled his eyes. "Loud Girl."
Leo pointed at Hyde. "That's your problem, man. You're thinking about it too much."
"So how else am I supposed to figure out what love is?"
Leo took a long hit. "Man, figuring out what love is is useless. Its like figuring out why the sky is blue. Water's blue, but the sky isn't water." He paused. "Is it?"
Hyde stifled a laugh. "No, man."
"So then, how is the sky blue. Does God use food coloring up there, or what?"
Hyde nodded. "Maybe."
Leo waved a hand. "But see, it doesn't matter, man. Whether you know what the sky is blue or not, its blue."
Hyde thought about it. Kind of made sense. He frowned. Holy shit, Leo was kind of making sense. Something was wrong, all right, but it was with him. Jackie had yet again poisoned him and now h e'd be dumb the rest of his life. She'd always made him stupid and now he was dumber than Leo with his fried brain. Probably dumber than Kelso, too, and that made him want to vomit. He swallowed hard. "Then how am I supposed to figure out if I love Jackie – Loud Girl – or not?"
Leo smiled again and handed him the joint. "You just feel, man. Just lay back and feel." He nodded, looking dreamy. "Yeah, man, feeling's great." He grinned. "Like jumbo shrimp."
Willow had told him something like that, about feeling, trust how you feel, some sort of crap like that. Hyde rubbed his temples. What the hell was with hippies and feeling?
Please remember my life is in your hands
"So, I just need to you to read this letter to Steven." Jackie licked her lips nervously, staring down at the words she'd written and praying to God they did the trick.
Donna sighed. "Jackie, why do I have to read it to him? Can't I just give it to him?"
Jackie shook her head and began pacing, brushing past her friend, then back again. Back again. And again. "No, you have to read it to him, Donna. Because I have to know for sure that he knows what I've said. And if you just give it to him, I don't know that he'll read it." She stopped walking just in front of Donna and let her right hand, the one holding the letter, fall to her side. Her eyes filled with tears. She let Donna see them. She had to. She had to do anything to ensure Donna do this for her.
It was probably her last chance.
"It might be my last chance with him, Donna," she said softly. Her heart tightened, and she tried not to cough. If she did, she'd start sobbing, just thinking of never having another shot to convince him. Of him moving on the way he'd tried to with Sam. The next time, he very well might succeed. "And I just..." Her voice broke; she looked down, closed her eyes. "I love him, Donna." She swallowed a sob. "I just love him."
She felt Donna's eyes on her, and she looked up. Donna had been looking irritated, and had been trying to convince her to just wait it out, but now the lumberjack's face had softened, the eyes shining with understanding and sympathy. Jackie held her breath.
And Donna gave her a slight smile. "Okay, midget. I'll do it."
Jackie hugged her like she hadn't hugged her best friend in a long time.
Love is knowing we can be
"You forget that we are both incredibly good looking, despite your scruff. And together, we put every other couple to shame and make them feel as bad as they should for not being as hot as we are. You forget that we both have amazing potential, and even more together. And you forget that we are both evil, and together we can put anyone in their proper place. That's probably the real reason Eric went to Africa. The prospect of us marrying and making his life eternal hell just by telling him the truth scared him all the way out of North America. Sorry, Donna, for being so powerful that it ruined your life."
Hyde sat on his cot while a rather uncomfortable looking Donna read Jackie's letter to him. He chuckled while she glared at him. Had to admit, the letter was good listening. Jackie'd varied telling him things she hated about him with things she loved about him. He crossed his arms and arched an eyebrow. "Go on, Big Red."
Donna rolled her eyes. "But most of all, Steven, you forget that we understand each other in a way no one else could." Her voice softened. "You know what it means when I make shallow, materialistic comments, like when I told Donna I couldn't live with her because she wasn't popular enough. And I know what you mean when you go Zen, every single time. You know I do, so don't make that face."
Donna looked up and laughed. "You are making a face!"
Hyde grimaced. "Shut the hell up and keep reading!"
"So, there. There's all of that, Steven, to show you that we love each other. Because if all of that isn't love..." Donna trailed off and looked up, now wearing her own strained smile. "She said I have to yell this part, but can I just read it normally?"
Hyde shook his head and grinned. "Nope. Better do it exactly like she said, or else it might not have the desired effect, and I'm sure she'll kick you." He shrugged. "Or at least throw Willow in your face."
Donna sighed. "Fine. If all of that isn't love to you, then YOU'RE AN ABSOLUTE IDIOT, STEVEN J. HYDE AND THE NEXT TIME I SEE YOU I'M GOING TO KICK BOTH YOUR SHINS AND BOTH YOUR KNEES!"
Hyde chuckled despite himself. Had to give Jackie credit. She told it like it was, at least how it was for her. And she was violent.
And funny - she'd made good points.
"By the way, Steven," Donna continued. "I know you've got a box of things that remind you of me hidden in your room. I also know that you threw away the poor, tacky, cheap, alleged clothing that your whore of an ex-wife left behind when she left. That means something, and you know it."
Hyde frowned. How in the hell did Jackie know about the box? Or the tube tops he'd wanted to burn but Red wouldn't let him so he'd made due with the trash can at the curb?
Donna looked up and winked. "She snooped and spied, Hyde, that's how she knows."
He nodded and gave a small smile. Yep. She was evil.
And he was proud of her. Underhanded, shady stuff that like, especially when she was the one doing it, impressed him. He supposed he'd have to add that to the list he'd started making.
"You may think that after everything, we can't be together, but Steven, I think we can. I think its all been leading to this fight. This has always been the issue. If you – we – figure it out, Steven, of course we can be together. Because I love you enough to forgive the past. Not forget. You know I won't. I don't forget anything, like I don't forget that you did ...." Donna cleared her throat. "SAY THAT YOU LOVED ME, YOU DUMBASS! NO TAKEBACKS!"
Later, after Donna finished and left, Hyde lay on his cot , the letter under his pillow. Maybe osmosis would work. He'd put the Double Fantasy album he'd bought in New York on, and now Lennon was singing a sappy love song about a woman, Yoko, he supposed.
How had a man as cool as Lennon done it? Written such a sappy song, a ball-reducing song, and still manage to be cool?
He closed his eyes.
You just feel, man. Just lay back and feel.
There she was.
And there it all was, the feeling. The feeling when she smiled, or cried. The feeling when she laughed or yelled. The feeling when she did something evil, or did something sweet. The feeling of her curled in his arms. The feeling when she walked away from him. The feeling when she said his name, moaned it, whispered it. Screamed it.
When she told him she loved him.
When she fought for him, like she did before Chicago. Like she did with the letter Donna read to him.
Like she hadn't when Sam showed up.
His head was spinning. His stomach tumbling. But it was the most real, most alive, he'd ever felt. Whatever effects of the pot he'd smoked an hour ago had completely disintegrated. He was thinking clearly for the first time in what felt like years. Probably actually was years in fact.
He wanted to be a better person for her, like Forman said. He could talk to her, about anything, and she didn't judge, like Donna said. He could be the guy that someone actually wanted to stay with, kind of like what Fez said. He fantasized about her even while with other chicks, kind of like what Kelso said. She made the damn crap only crap, like Red said.
He'd only ever wanted to hurt her after she hurt him. And she had. He admitted it. She'd hurt him. Like Kitty said.
She was the only one he ever got jealous over, and despite what that fruit-cake Shawn said, it meant something.
And he did feel. When he was with her. When he thought of her. When she breathed. Willow told him to trust that. Maybe he should. God knows he'd never felt anything like this for anyone else. Or anything else. Not even Zeppelin. Not even Camaros. Not even fries. Or beer. Or pot. Nothing.
Most of all, every little thing she did kept him there watching her. Needing...no, having to watch her as much as he had to breathe.
His eyes opened, and he sat up. "Damn it," he muttered. He stood up and started pacing. Now he had an entirely different problem to figure out.
How in the hell could he tell her that he loved her without becoming a total pussy like Forman?
John Lennon continued to sing.
I love you, yeah, yeah, now and forever....
I love you, yeah, yeah, now and forever....
He glanced at his record player and grinned.
And woman, I will try to express
The couch was so comfortable, and Jackie felt drousy. But she had to fight it. She tried to focus on the television, the people talking. She tried to understand what they were saying and what they meant. Surely Steven would be here soon and he'd have plenty to say. He'd better, anyway. She couldn't be sleepy. Though as her eyelids became too heavy to hold open, she had a fuzzy thought that two hours had passed since Donna called and told her she'd read the letter to Steven.
Two hours. Did he really need to think about it for two hours? Or...had it failed?
Pain began to give way to sleep, and with a sigh, she let it. Her eyes closed completely and the darkness was pretty.
There was a noise. The door? Who cares. She turned her face into the cushion.
Sounded like Steven's voice. So sexy...low...kind of gruff...Steven...
"Jackie, you sleeping?"
She sat straight up, sleep forgotten, and there he was. "Steven," she gasped. He smiled at her, that soft one, and her heart began to race. She could hardly breathe.
Then his smile faltered. "You feeling okay?"
And she remembered that she was sick, that she must look horrible. Her skin all blotchy, her nose red and runny, her eyes dull. So she stood and ran past him into her bedroom and dove into her bed. She pulled the covers over her head. Damn it, why hadn't she done something about how she looked? How could she have expected him to grovel if she looked like complete crap? How could she have forgotten that?
"Jackie, come on. Come out of there."
She pouted. "No." He sounded close, right next to her bed, and despite herself, she shivered. Steven next to her bed. God...
He chuckled. "You don't look bad." He paused. "Rudolph."
She threw off the covers and popped up, looking up into Steven's smirk. "What is that supposed to mean?"
He grinned and touched her nose. "Rudolph the red-nosed Jackie."
After glaring at him and his delightful sense of humor for a few satisfactory seconds, she burrowed back under the covers and flopped over so her back was to him. "I'm sick, Steven. Oh, and by the way, its YOUR fault!" She sniffled as tears filled her eyes. Like he gave a damn. He just came over to make fun of her, not to admit her undying love. Bastard! She coughed. And coughed. Coughed some more until she felt his hand on her back. He rubbed softly, and even through the comforter and blanket, his hand felt warm. Her coughing slowed, then stopped.
"I know, Jackie. That's why I brought you a present."
Again she flipped the covers off and sat up. "Present?" She noticed that he held a square package wrapped in newspaper, about the size of a record. She smiled. "Oh, Steven, for me?"
He grinned and held it out to her. "Its not shiny, but..." His smile disappeared and he swallowed. "Look. Just...there's a song I want you to listen to, okay? And then you'll know how I fe..." He coughed. "How I feel about you."
He wouldn't look at her now – his eyes dropped to the floor. She smiled and ran her fingers over the record. "Steven..."
"Just...Look, I gotta get back to the store. So just listen to it, and then...whatever."
Before she could stop him, he'd left, and Jackie sat still until she heard the front door of her aparment close. Within seconds, she'd opened the wrapping, read his note, gone to her record player and put on the track he'd told her to.
John Lennon started singing about a woman. He told her he'd try to tell her his feelings, his gratefulness. He told her she understood him. He told her his life was in her hands. He asked her to love him. He told her it – they – were written in the stars. He told her he never meant to hurt her.
He told her he loved her. Over and over.
She started to cry. She trembled. She was so warm, so alive, so amazed...and nothing else mattered but knowing that Steven loved her.
I love you, yeah yeah, now and forever
I love you, yeah yeah, now and forever
And not thinking, only feeling, Jackie ran out of her room. She had to get to Steven.
Love is you, you and me
Hyde stood in the doorway and waited. His foot tapped. His chest hurt, his stomach too. He wanted to pace, but couldn't seem to make himself move.
She came barrelling out but stopped instantly when she saw him. "Steven," she breathed, panting, her face flushed and tear shining both in her eyes and on her cheeks. "I thought...you..."
He lifted a shoulder and cleared his throat. "Yeah, I...I didn't leave."
Nothing like stating the obvious.
Jackie smiled slightly and put her hand over her heart. He wondered if it was pounding as hard as his was. Probably. And he wanted to feel it. She took a step towards him. "Did you mean it? Are you...are you really sure?"
He nodded and stepped, just once, towards her. "I'm sure. And I mean it."
The light in her eyes and the pink roses spreading through her cheeks made it all worth it, all the confusion, all the anger, all the damned ball-shrinking analysis of his damned feelings.
He took another step. "Look, I'm don't know how to explain it. And god only knows why the hell this happened. All I know is..." He took a deep breath. "All I know is that I do."
She took a few more steps to him, until she was only about two feet in front of him. She cocked her head and smiled sexily at him. "Do what?"
He rolled his eyes. "Can't you just take John Lennon's word for it?"
Damn it, the pout. Out went her lip, puppy went her eyes, and down went all his resistence to this chick.
He sighed. "Fine. I..." He stared at her. So beautiful. And evil.
And damn it, everything he needed. Everything he wanted.
He released another breath. Didn't take his eyes off hers. "I love you, Jackie."
She made some weird sort of squeal that sounded almost as good to him as Zeppelin and catapulted herself into his arms.
"How did you figure it out, Steven?"
He held her and grinned down at her. "Did the math. Unfortunately, it added up in your favor."
She swatted him, but then kissed him.
And kissed him more. More. More.
After a few long, hot, incredibe minutes of kissing, she pulled away, groaned and dropped her head to his shoulder. He rubbed her back. He supposed a declaration of love was worth it if this was what he got.
Hell yeah, it was.
"I don't feel well, Steven. You need to make me that chicken soup."
"Jackie, that stuff takes an hour to make."
But she pouted again, and in a few minutes, he was off to the store to get the stuff he needed to make her damned chicken soup. And the funny thing was, he didn't mind at all. He even smiled at the chick who rang up his groceries even though she'd screwed up three times and had to call a manager for help.
Yeah. It was love, alright.
However distant, don't keep us apart
It had been such a long time since Jackie had laid on a couch with her head in Steven's lap. She couldn't remember the last time he worked his fingers through her hair the way he did now, sometimes scratching with a light touch so surprising for someone so supposedly emotionless. And so now, she savored it. She let her eyes close occassionally, sighed softly off and on so he knew he was doing good. She was warm from the soup, warmer still from him, and she'd never felt as happy to be alive as she did this moment.
For his part, Steven didn't complain about the soap opera they watched. He did make repeated smart-ass comments. That was to be expected, and actually amused her.
But mostly, they just sat together, quiet.
She smiled and closed her eyes again as his fingers stroked her head. This should last forever. This should happen every night. If only this lasted forever, happened every night, she'd give up on all her materialistic desires.
Her eyes opened. Except the diamond ring. She couldn't give up on that. She just couldn't.
"Steven?" she asked without thinking.
She had to know.
Her heart caught. Baby. She loved it when he called her that. Surely she could ask him and he wouldn't get mad, wouldn't get paranoid and run off taking everything he'd said and done today back.
Then again, maybe he would. He was still Steven. He still waited two hours before coming to her. He was still an ass when he wanted to be.
She swallowed hard. "Nothing. Never mind."
He sighed and though she sensed his irritation, she pretended not to notice. Hoped he'd forget.
"Jackie, just..." He paused and it sounded like he took a deep breath. "Just ask me what you want to ask me, okay?"
She sat up. He wasn't glaring, wasn't making a face; just looking at her. She tried to smile and take his hand. "Okay," she said, deciding that he'd asked for it and if he ended up being an ass, he had noone to blame but himself.
She had to know.
"Now, look. I'm not asking you to propose right here and now, or even next week."
His eyebrow went up and she found herself speaking faster and faster.
"I just need to know if you can even...imagine being married to me, Steven. And I swear I won't ask you any more about it. I just need to know."
She gasped and covered her mouth with a shaking had. Was it too late to take it back? Had she really, really asked that? Why in the hell couldn't she just be satisfied with all that he'd done today? The song, the words, the soup, the holding, the love...WHY?
She wanted to scream.
And then he smirked. "I can imagine you feeling better so we can go do it the rest of the day."
She swatted his arm and pulled her hand out of his. "Steven!"
Instead of answering, he put his arm around her shoulder and drew her to him. She didn't fight, too tired to, and her head landed on his shoulder. She closed her eyes and tried to forget she'd asked. She tried to just enjoy the closeness. Steven's hand plunged into her hair and his gentle massage of her scalp made her sleepy again.
Just as she was dipping into sleep, he spoke. Softly, but loudly enough for her to hear him.
"I can imagine it, Jackie."
She shot up, instantly energized, and moved so she was sitting on his lap.
He could imagine marrying her!
She wanted to sing, to scream, to dance. Her heart beat so fast and so joyously, she could hardly breathe. But instead of spastically dancing around the room, she put her hands in his hair and gave him the sexiest smile she could muster. "Oh, Steven," she breathed. She licked her lips. "I feel better now, baby." Her hands slipped down to his chest and she rubbed. "So much better."
Two seconds later, he had her on his shoulder and headed towards her bedroom. She squealed , then laughed, then put her hands on his butt and told him to hurry.
Because he DEFINITELY deserved a reward for this, her cold be damned.
So let me tell you again and again and again love is real, real is love
"Once a month."
"Once every four hours."
"Once every other week."
"Once a day."
"Once a week."
"Once a day."
Hyde glared at his girlfriend. "Jackie, I'm not telling you once a day. Crap, you're lucky I offered once a week."
Jackie glared right back. "Steven..." And then she smiled and pulled herself closer to Steven in the bed. She started kissing his neck and pressed her chest and hips as near to him as she could. Planting little kisses up to his ear, she gave him a little lick just below his earlobe. "How about now, Steven?"
His eyes closed and he winced. "Uh...." She bit him lightly, and all he could feel was the blood leaving his head and heading south. His skin was erupting, and he couldn't think quite clearly. "Once every other day."
"HA!" She pulled back and gave Steven a triumphant smile. His expression immediately soured and she put her index finger in his face. "And you can't take it back. That was a bona fide offer, and your stuck with it!"
Hyde sighed, shook his head, and slapped her ass. "Damn it, Jackie," he said. Shaken down yet again, for the millionth time, by a 95 pound brunette with pink toenails.
"AND, you have to say it before we have sex."
He stared at her.
She gave him a sweet smile.
And then her hand slipped down.
"Damn it, Jackie, fine!"
He grabbed her hand and stilled it. She looked at him with those freaking wide, innocent eyes, but he kept his expression Zen. "But if I say it twice in one day, I'm off the hook for the next three days, even if we do have sex."
She pouted, but then smiled. Steven had given up an awful lot, and she'd better not push her luck. She kissed his lips softly. "Okay, Puddin' Pop. Deal." Then she giggled and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Oh, I'll have you actually wanting to say it before you know it!"
Hyde ignored her and planted a kiss on her.
And he tried to ignore as well the nagging suspcion in his mind that his chick was right about that.
Later, they lay in Jackie's bed listening to the album he'd given her.
"I read somewhere that John Lennon was really happy at the end," Jackie said sleepily, having been thoroughly loved. She lay on Steven's chest and rubbed her hand over his stomach. "I mean, he had Yoko, and their baby, and they were recording again." She lifted her head and looked at her sweet Steven. "So thats good at least, right?"
Hyde smiled and reached up to brush a few strands of sweaty hair off Jackie's forehead. "Yeah, that's good," he said.
And it was. Lennon found peace before he died. Hyde supposed one couldn't ask for much more than that. As he gazed up at his girlfriend, he smiled. Maybe he'd found that, too. In Jackie.
Oh, hell. He'd always appreciated irony.
Jackie gasped and put her hand to her heart. "Steven, I really AM your Yoko!" The thought brought tears to her eyes. She touched his cheek. "Aren't I? Your Yoko?"
She held her breath.
Hyde pulled her down until her still red nose touched his. "Yeah. You're my Yoko."
He shut her up with a kiss.
She made him yell for God. Repeatedly.
Jackie bet Yoko would be proud of her.
Hyde imagined wherever Lennon was, he was cheering him on.
And neither of them had ever been happier.