Well this it. Never before have I been sadder about the end of a story before, but like all good things… But just remember, there will be a sequel. It will deal with Jackie's recovery and her relationship with Hyde, Donna and the rest of the gang. We also haven't seen the last of the fairytale world either.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported this story. I personally think this story is rather self- indulgent on my part, so the fact that so many of you like it means a lot to me.
Song: Why Can't I Fall in Love by Ivan Neville. You can find the song on You Tube. Also, Wash it Away by Black Lab. I wasn't able to find it on You Tube, but if you have I Tunes or some other music subscription service and can find it, listen to it because it's Jackie's theme song for this chapter.
Hyde closed the door to Jackie's room, and flicked the light off, on the basis that some conversations are better done in the dark. He walked over to the chair next to Jackie's bed sat down and put his hands on the edge of the bed. Hyde went to grab her hand but quickly pulled it away, unsure if he should touch her or not. Looking around to make sure he was truly alone with her, he took a deep breath.
"I've got a lot to say, so uh, it's probably a good thing you can't talk." He tried to laugh at his bad attempt at a joke. "You know I never got why you were with me. I always thought you were just biding your time until you got back together with Kelso, and so when I saw you two in Chicago, I just assumed that was it. I never meant to hurt you… no that's a lie, I did mean to hurt you, but not like this. You gotta believe me Jackie, there's nothing more I would like to do more than go back and take it all back. All of it Jackie."
Hyde started to unconsciously draw designs into her skin with his finger as he talked. Spirals and lines that spelled out I love you into her fair flesh.
"I never wanted to be your prince or knight or whatever it was you thought I was. I told you I wasn't that guy, and I'm sorry but I can't just kiss you and make everything better. That's not the way it works." He crossed his arms and looked at her stubbornly. "Besides the next time I kiss you, you're going to be fully awake, and you're going to remember every detail about it. You're going to feel my hands in your hair, pulling you closer to me, you're going to make those soft mewing sounds in your throat that drive me crazy, making me want to kiss you deeper and longer and then when it's over, you're going to pull back, looking flushed and confused, and you'll ask why I did that, and I'm just going to grin, pull you back and do it again. I'm going to keep kissing you, because it's been too long since I could, and I have to make up for lost time, but it won't happen until you wake up."
He looked at the monitor and then back at her. "Fine, you want to play that game, we can." He leaned in close to her, so that their lips were almost touching. "I suppose you need a reminder." He closed the distance between them and glided his lips across hers.
Donna stared at the door to Jackie's room, wondering what Hyde was saying to her. Maybe it was an apology for everything that happened, maybe he was telling her to wake up or else or maybe just maybe he was confessing his darkest secrets to the sleeping beauty.
Or maybe he wasn't saying anything at all. Maybe he was just sitting in the dark, waiting for Jackie to make the first move. That always seemed to be the case when it came to Hyde and Jackie.
"How long do you think we should give him?" Fez asked no one in particular.
"As long as he needs." Red answered.
"Can you give me a moment alone with her?" The Prince asked.
Not! Eric looked suspiciously at the Prince.
"Fine." He acquiesced before taking a step back from the prince and Jackie. "I'll be over there." He said pointing to the far side of the room. The Prince nodded in thanks before turning his attention back to Jackie.
Not! Eric walked over to the other side of the room and pretended not to hear what the Prince as telling his princess.
"There is something very wicked going on here Jackie, I could feel it when I was in that dungeon and I feel it now. It's like something is trying to take me over, but I'm trying not to let it, yet I think it might have, because how else could I have lost you?"
Not! Eric shook his head to himself as the Prince continued to talk to the princess. He wasn't sure why he was trying to explain himself to someone who couldn't hear him. If it had been him, he would have waited until after the woman was awake to talk to her. He shook his head again and walked further away from them, unable to listen to the Prince's confession anymore. The Gnome walked back into the room, carrying a large marble vase.
"What do you think this will get me?" He asked Not! Eric.
Not! Eric glanced at the item, "Probably nothing." He answered honestly.
The Gnome nodded in agreement and sat the vase on the ground. "I think Cinderella took all the gold and silver."
Not! Eric repressed a bitter laugh. He could just imagine the queen ordering her servants to take all the valuables with them as they fled the kingdom.
"Where do you think they went?" The Gnome asked.
"Into the woods, I suspect." Not! Eric answered. The Gnome was about to ask another question when they heard a scream.
Both turned quickly, drawing out their swords. The Prince was standing next to the bed, which was now empty. They ran to him.
"What happened?" Not! Eric yelled, "Where did the princess go?"
"I don't know!" The Prince yelled back in panic, "She was just here!"
They both looked at the Gnome in question, but he shrugged in response, "Don't look at me!"
"Search the entire castle!" Not! Eric commanded, running out of the room, followed by the Prince and the Gnome who went off in different directions.
Hyde looked over at the monitor; the lines where increasing, something was going on inside Jackie's head. Maybe it was like the doctor had said, and she was dreaming or maybe it was that she was finally coming around to him.
"So I was thinking, when you get out of here, the two of us could go on a date, since we haven't actually you know, done that."
"Or we can stay in, watch some TV, and talk… because we're not too good at that either." He shrugged, "Whichever, it's all good with me."
He clutched her hand. "So um, about that kiss… I know you're in a coma and can't really feel anything… or can you? I don't know how comas work really, but uh, anyway, I felt something. I've always felt something when it comes to kissing you." He leaned over and put another kiss on the side of her mouth.
"Damn, I love you."
Eric was sitting next to the Formans when Donna returned from the restroom.
"Hey!" He smiled at her. Donna walked over to them. She wanted to ask what he was doing there, where Jasmine was, why he hadn't left yet, but the words got stuck in her throat.
"Wanna go for a walk?" He asked, standing up from his chair.
"Uh, sure." Donna said before her conscience could correct her.
Not! Eric ran through the castle, sword in hand as he searched for the missing princess. He had no way of knowing she was still in the castle, but his gut told him that she hadn't gone far. It wasn't even a question of who took her. He knew instinctively that it had been Cinderella. She never would have left with her work unfinished. It was just a matter of finding them both.
He could hear soft laughter coming from up the stairs to the west tower. Slowly, he made his way up the spiral staircase. He clutched his sword tightly in his hand as he rushed the distance. Standing at the top of the stairs was a servant. Instantly, the guide felt repulsed by the smell coming from the servant. The servant didn't appear to notice Not! Eric was there and continued to laugh.
He stared at the servant who was guarding the doorway.
"What are you doing here?" He asked.
"What my lady wants, my lady gets." The servant answered. It didn't appear that he was even talking to Not! Eric.
"Is the princess in there?" He asked again.
"You're lying." He accused.
"I would never lie." The servant sounded appalled at the accusation.
"You would for your queen." He replied. Quickly, he asked for forgiveness, and then struck the servant in the heart.
"Jasmine took the earlier flight back." Eric informed her as they walked through the park across the street from the hospital.
"Oh." She replied, not sure what to say.
"She has all our luggage too, so that I could stay here as long as I need to, without having to worry about… all that." He gestured lamely.
Donna nodded at Eric and continued to walk. She looked up at the dark clouds heading their way and sighed to herself.
"How much time do you have?" She suddenly asked Eric.
"That depends, are you willing to drive me to the airport?" He smiled.
Donna hugged herself and nodded, "Yeah."
They found Cinderella sitting on her throne, her hand resting on the arm of the throne beside her. She stood up, looking regal and dominant over everyone else in the room, except for the prince.
"So you finally escaped." She gave a fake laugh.
The Prince stood still for a moment staring blankly at the evil queen. He remembered when she was beautiful and kind, but heart ache and rejection had finally caught up to Cinderella. The Prince was amazed to find that he actually felt pity for her.
With one breath, he spun around towards her and withdrew his sword from his side. Cinderella laughed haughtily as the Prince advanced on her. She made no effort to move, as though she wasn't truly expecting him to harm her.
"Tell me where she is." The Prince demanded as he stood with the tip of his sword at the enchantress's neck.
"You're too late! She's already dead." Cinderella taunted.
No. This was no right. She wasn't dead. He'd be able to feel it if she were.
"Where. Is. She?"
Cinderella didn't answer. She just looked up at the Prince with nothing but malice and scorn in her eyes. It didn't take him very long to make his decision. With one long stroke, he sliced his blade through the queen's neck, severing her head from her body without even flinching as the head rolled towards the stairway.
"Finally, you decided to be helpful." The Prince stepped over the body and walked towards the stairwell.
The Gnome bent over and picked the head up. "This should get me something." He closed the eyes with his thumb and stuck the head into his knapsack.
Hyde sat in silence in the hospital room, trying to come up with the nerve for what he was about to say next.
"The night before we went to the state fair, I had an epiphany. I was looking at myself in the mirror, shaving, and I cut myself. Well I went to get some tissue to stop the bleeding, and I found one of your necklaces. When I went to pick it up, it was like a huge rush of memories, and well… I realized how badly I fucked up. The next day… getting drunk was all I could do, because here I was, twenty years old and already on my way to becoming Bud. I had to drink you out of my head, so that I could go back to my life and not… care."
Hyde took a pause, because he knew it was only about to get worse.
"But Fez lost the ring and we were in the woods and all Donna could think of was being with Randy…and Fez got lost and you and I were left together and the only way I could deal with you was just to put you out of my mind, and forget you were with me. And then you fell in and I laughed." His voice hitched for a moment as he attempted to collect himself. "I guess I thought it was good that you fell in…cause then…. It would mean I wouldn't have to deal with… and you… but if I had been sober, there's no way I would have…I would have gone after you in a second. I'd have dived right in with you. I might not have been able to catch you, but you dying… you leaving my life… Even if you went on hating me for the rest of my God damned life, you'd be here. I would have been swept up in the current with you."
Hyde looked out the window. It was getting dark.
It was time.
Donna lead Eric through the woods to the place they found Jackie. She wasn't sure what was drawing her back to that spot, but something inside her needed to be there.
"Is this it?" He asked. The rain had washed away all traces that Jackie had been there.
"I just remember running… screaming her name…I don't think I've screamed so much in my life." She felt Eric's arms go around her, pulling her in as she cried.
"Jackie's strong." Eric reminded Donna.
Donna sniffed and pulled back. "We should go."
The Prince ran up to Jackie who was lying on the floor. He bent down beside her and picked her up into his arms, cradling her small body near his chest. Into her hair he wept, thinking he was too late to save her.
"I'm so sorry." He muttered over and over, his eyes closed and unaware that the princess was slowly waking up.
She blinked once and then once more, eye to eye with the Prince's tunic.
"Ow." She muttered, catching the Prince's attention.
"You're awake!" He exclaimed, pulling back from her slightly to make sure she was okay.
Jackie smiled up at the Prince. "I knew you'd rescue me."
"I had help." He answered honestly.
Jackie smiled again and then frowned, "What happened, where are we?"
"You were poisoned, Cinderella… she's dead now."
"Oh." Jackie replied, not truly understanding the situation.
"As for where we are, we're in her castle."
Jackie nodded un-surely, "Does this mean we can go home now?"
"I'm worried about our kids, Red." Kitty told her husband as they waited with Fez in the waiting room.
Red didn't say anything, but the truth was, he was worried too. Both of his sons had run off when things got too tough instead of facing life head on. He was disappointed in both of them. For one, it took near tragedy to make him accept he made a mistake, but to tell the truth, it was his other son, Eric who he was most worried about. It seemed that he was still running, still avoiding the problem. Sure, he was out right now with Donna, but he wasn't going to put any bets on whether or not they were actually talking about their relationship or lack there of. For someone who had been so adamant about his love for the girl who lived next door, he had a funny way of showing it.
"And no one has been able to get a hold of Pam. I know Bob has been trying to call her…" It took Red a minute to realize his wife was still speaking. He shook his head at the whole situation. Of course they couldn't get a hold of Pam. She was probably sipping tequila with guys named Raul and Paulo on a beach somewhere, not giving a second thought to her daughter or her well being.
"At least she's no longer alone in that house." Kitty claimed, "And Steven and Michael wonder why she wants so badly to get married."
Red turned and raised his eyebrow inquisitively at Kitty indicating to her that he wished she would explain.
"Well think about it Red, even before her father went to prison her parents were never home, instead they threw money and presents at her instead of love and affection. In some ways she's a lot like Steven, except… better off."
Red nodded his agreement with Kitty. He wondered if it had even occurred to Steven to look at the similarities between Jackie and himself.
Donna felt awkward standing in the middle of the airport. She couldn't help but recall the last time she had been there. She had nearly begged Eric not to go to Africa, and had chosen instead to remain emotionally distant from him, in order to make it easier on herself when he walked through the gate. If she had known he would thrown everything they had away in a letter, she… well she wasn't sure what she would have done.
"So…" Eric agreed.
"I guess you should go." Donna gestured.
Eric nodded, "Yeah."
Donna took a step forward, "I'm really going to miss you Eric."
Eric took a step towards Donna. "I'm gonna miss you too."
Donna leaned up and kissed Eric gently on his lips. It was meant to be a kiss goodbye, in all senses of the word, ending before it could ever begin.
"Take care of yourself and Jasmine."
"I will, and you… there's more to you than Point Place, don't forget that."
Donna laughed, "I won't." She pushed him playfully, "Now go."
"Fine!" He exclaimed, holding up his hands. "I'm gone."
She watched him walk away and as he turned the corner, leaving her sight, she smiled to herself, took a deep breath and started to walk away.
"You can't go home yet." Not! Eric interrupted the lover's reunion.
"Why not?" Jackie asked.
Not! Eric walked over to Jackie and leaned beside her and the Prince. "Because you haven't chosen yet."
"What's to choose?" She asked, confused.
"Give me your hand" Her guide instructed. Slowly, Jackie complied and the next thing she knew, she was standing unnoticed in a hospital waiting room. In front of her, a red headed Donna sat next to Fez, his head resting on her shoulder. Red and Kitty Forman were sitting caddy corner to them, Red's arm was around his wife.
"Your friends have all been here since you fell, waiting for you to wake up."
Jackie walked up to take a closer look at Donna. "She looks tired."
"She hasn't really slept since that night in the woods." The guide answered. "She's spent all of her free time here, with you, same goes for the rest of your friends."
Jackie nodded and turned back to Not! Eric. "Where is…"
"Steven?" He asked, making the door open with a point of his finger, "Go in."
Jackie did as she was told, entering the dark room. She watched as Hyde sat beside her body. Instantly, she felt light headed.
"What's he doing?" Jackie asked quietly.
"Praying." The guide answered simply.
"But Steven doesn't believe in God." Jackie stated.
"I think he'll believe in just about anything if you were to wake up."
"He really hurt me." Jackie stated to herself. Yet, she couldn't help but think that maybe it wasn't entirely his fault, that maybe he was just as cursed as she was.
"I'm not telling you what you should do." Not! Eric informed her, "If you want to never wake up and stay in the woods that is up to you, but you would be in a coma for the rest of your life, and you would never be able to return here."
Jackie looked up abruptly at the threat. "So you're saying I would be stuck in that horrible hospital gown for the rest of my life?"
"Until you die."
Jackie shook her head. "Do… do you think the Prince would forgive me if I stayed here?"
Not! Eric smiled knowingly, "Yes, so… you forgive him?"
Jackie closed her eyes. "I do." She said sincerely. When she opened her eyes, she was staring up at a white ceiling, only visible by the moonlight coming through the window. With some effort, she turned her head to look at the man sitting next to her.
"Hey." She whispered softly.
He nearly broke the chair as he jumped out of it and then back. "Jackie!"
Jackie closed her eyes and smiled at him. "Steven."
"Jackie!" He exclaimed again. "I should go get a doctor!"
"No." She said, holding out her hand to him. "Stay."
"Someone needs to make sure you're okay."
"I'm fine." She answered curtly.
Hyde looked disbelievingly at her, but walked back to her bedside none the less.
"So…" She started to speak but a cough caught in her throat.
"Oh here." He said, holding out a small cup of water to her. "You should probably take small sips."
Jackie complied and then leaned back in the bed. "Why does my head hurt?"
"You hit it on a rock." Hyde told her.
"Oh." Jackie replied, "I bet your really sorry now." It was meant as a joke but Hyde stared at her with a serious expression.
Jackie opened her eyes again and stared back at him. "It's okay."
Hyde disagreed with her. It wasn't okay, she had been in a coma for a week, had technically died, it was as far from okay as it could possibly get.
"I'm going to go find that doctor." He told her, placing a small kiss on her forehead before leaving.
"Jackie just woke up!" He informed the group, who all stood up and rushed to him.
"Nurse Bennett!" Kitty yelled, "Go find Doctor Perry!" She looked back at the group who were hugging each other in celebration.
"Do you think we should go in?" Eric asked his mom.
"I'll go check on her." Kitty informed them. "You wait here for the doctor."
Kitty walked into Jackie's room and switched on the light.
"Hi Mrs. Forman." Jackie said softly.
Kitty smiled widely in response. "Oh Jackie, how do you feel?" She asked as she proceeded to check Jackie's vitals.
"Okay, my head is killing me though."
Kitty nodded succinctly. "I'll have Dr. Perry get you something for that."
Jackie gave a grim smile and closed her eyes. "How long was I out? Steven didn't say."
Kitty sighed to herself before answering. "A week."
Jackie gasped softly. "A week?" When Kitty nodded that Jackie had heard right, Jackie continued. "I thought I was just asleep for a couple days."
The door opened again and the doctor and a team of nurses followed in.
"I checked her vitals, Dr. Perry." Kitty pulled him aside to tell him so that Jackie wouldn't overhear. "She seems to be doing okay, but her heart-rate is a little fast and she is complaining about a headache."
The doctor nodded, indicating that he understood Kitty's concerns and shared them. Then he stepped away from her to go look at his patient himself.
"I'm Dr. Perry." He introduced himself. "You've become quite the attraction here."
Jackie smiled, "Of course I am, look at me."
Dr. Perry took the seat Hyde had just vacated minutes before as he and the nurses laughed at Jackie's joke.
"I'm going to ask you a few questions, okay?"
"Can you tell me your name?"
"Do you know what year it is?"
"How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Two, nice bunny ears."
"Damn, I was going for a peace sign." Dr. Perry and Jackie shared a smile.
The doctor smiled as he looked down at Jackie's chart. "Well, it looks like your memory is intact, but we're still going to want to do some other tests on you. Nurse Forman informs me that you have a bit of a head ache?"
Jackie nodded tearfully, "Yeah, right here." She pointed to the same spot she hit. The doctor sighed inwardly.
"We'll take a look at that and get you something for the pain, I promise. You've been through quite an ordeal Miss Burkhart; it's going to take your body time to heal." He stood up and smiled kindly at her.
"Now do you want to see your friends who I think are about to bust the door down, or do you want to get some rest?" He asked, knowing full well which Jackie would choose.
He nodded is okay, "Ten minutes though, and then I want you to get some rest, I'm going to go order those tests and something for the headache." He, Kitty and the other nurses followed him out the door.
He was instantly cornered by the gang.
"Well, how is she?"
"Can we see her?"
"Is she going to be bionic now?"
The group all looked over at Kelso who had just returned from Chicago. "What?" He asked, "The bionic woman is hot!"
Dr. Perry ignored Kelso's comment. "She's okay." He held up his hand before the gang could respond, "I mean she's just okay, not great. We had to wait till she woke up before we could fully assess her injuries, and I'm sure Dr. Reiner is going to want to see her when he gets in, but in the mean time, she's asking for you all." He looked sternly at the group, "Keep it quiet, and try not to be long. I want Jackie to get some sleep."
Donna took it upon herself to be the voice of the group, "We will." She promised him before they walked into Jackie's room.
Jackie opened her eyes to see all five of her friends.
"Hi." She said, "Donna, your hair!"
Donna laughed as she bent down to give Jackie a light hug.
"Where's Randy?" Jackie asked her.
"He's gone." Donna answered, "We broke up."
Jackie could tell that there was something Donna wasn't saying, but she let it go for the time being. Instead, she turned to Fez and Kelso. The former was glaring tearfully at her, and the other was looking around the room at all the flowers.
"Don't you ever do that again!" Fez reprimanded Jackie.
"Fez." Eric admonished him.
"I won't." Jackie knew it was an empty promise to make, but she did so anyway. She closed her eyes again. She felt like she had just been through a terrible battle. She noticed that Hyde was being quiet.
"Steven?" She asked.
Suddenly it was like they were the only two people in the room. It was as though the rest of their friends had just vanished from existence and the only two people that mattered anymore were her and Hyde even though he was clear on the other side of the room.
"Would you come over here?" She tried to be as bossy as possible.
"We're gonna go." Donna said, pulling the other three guys away. "We'll be back in the morning." One by one they walked out until Hyde and Jackie were alone.
Hyde sighed and walked over to Jackie's bed.
"I'm here, happy now?"
Jackie smiled, "Yes." She felt safer with him around.
"So… Sam's gone."
Jackie stared at her ex for a minute. "Why?"
Hyde looked sharply at Jackie. Clearly it wasn't the response he was expecting.
"I'll tell you the whole story tomorrow." He promised, "But suffice it to say, she just wasn't the girl for me."
Jackie nodded, remembering what not! Eric had told her. "And who is the girl for you?"
"I'm not sure." He joked, "Got any suggestions?"
Jackie shook her head, "Not really, you're too complicated."
"You're the complicated one." He said, "The neurologist guy said you've been dreaming all this time."
Dreaming? She had been dreaming? It had all been a dream? Jackie closed her eyes and counted to ten to try to calm her emotions. When she opened them, for a split second she thought she saw something or someone standing behind Hyde.
"Hey, are you okay?" Hyde asked concerned.
"Yeah." Jackie lied, "Do… do you think you can stay the night?"
Hyde nodded and then went to turn out the light. When he went to sit down Jackie shook her head.
"No." She said, "With me."
Hyde climbed into the bed along side Jackie. "It's been a while since we did this."
Jackie smiled, "Yeah." She put her head on Hyde's shoulder and closed her eyes.
A few minutes later, Jackie fell asleep. Hyde soon followed suit, tired from spending the day pouring his heart out to Jackie. A few minutes later, Jackie opened her eyes again and looked up at him. She leaned up and gave him a soft kiss on the side of his mouth. He crooked his lips in a smile at her.
Jackie closed her eyes again, 'And she lived happily ever after.' She thought before finally drifting off to sleep.
The Gnome looked over at Not! Eric as they returned from Jackie's world to their own.
"You miss her, don't you?" He accused.
"No." The guide denied, "She's just one of a long line of girls who need assistance."
The Gnome shook his head, clearly disbelieving. "Whatever you say."
They continued to walk together, the gnome carrying his knapsack, the guide staring off into the distance.
"Speaking of princesses," Not! Eric began, "Did you sell Cinderella's head yet?"
The Gnome shook his head, "I've got a buyer out west who wants it, what do you say you and I pay them a visit and I get this thing off my back?"
Not! Eric thought about it for a moment, "It has been a while since I've been out west."
"Good." The Gnome cheered, "It's settled then."
The guide smiled, "But before that, I want to go to Quigley's, I'm having a craving for onion soup." He grinned at his companion as he walked away.
The gnome stood alone for a minute, glaring at Not! Eric's backside. "I'll get you for this." He sighed and hurried to catch up with his friend.
I know I left some things unresolved, but that's because I need them for the sequel, speaking of which, I'm going to have a contest. Whoever can come up with a good name for the sequel will get a prize! It'll probably just be a special mention, but still!
I want to give special thanks to all those who read, reviewed, put this on their alerts and favorites lists. Thank you all for your support!