Jackie sighed and drummed her hot pink nails against her tummy. She couldn't stop a single tear from dripping down her cheek, but she wiped it away as soon as it had exited her tearduct. She didn't want to ruin her mascara.
But what came next? She could never tell her boyfriend about this. Michael Kelso wouldn't know how to handle it. He wasn't good in situations like this. She started to think about all her cheerleader friends. No way could she tell them either -- the news would spread around school so fast that her reputation would be ruined by morning. No, she had to go to the one place that she had once hated more than anything. She was going to Eric Forman's house.
She knocked on the basement door. She wasn't really sure why she was did it. Everyone always just came in and made themselves at home. But Jackie still felt uncomfortable there. It wasn't her place. Her place was with the popular kids. And in Eric's basement, she wasn't one of those popular kids. At least not yet. So she knocked, pulling her coat tighter around her, to hide something that no one could even see.
The door swung open after a minute. "Jackie?" Eric asked, looking puzzled. "Um, Kelso's not here."
"No, I know he isn't," she said, interrupting him. She bit her lip. She looked so pathetic that Eric stepped aside.
"Uh, come in," he said nervously. For once he didn't seem like he had a sarcastic comment to make. "So, what's with the sad face?" he asked as Jackie settled onto the couch and removed her coat. She immediately folded her arms over her chest, hunching down to cover her stomach. "Did they run out of Osh Kosh jeans at the mall or something?"
Jackie sighed. It wouldn't be Eric without a stupid comment like that. "No, Eric, it's much more serious than that." Her voice was soft and small. Eric had never heard it like that before.
"Wow, Jackie," he said, taking a seat beside her. "You sound like something horrible just happened. Do you want me to call Donna?" He looked around anxiously, as if he wasn't sure what to do or say.
Jackie shook her head. "No, don't. Eric, I need to tell you something. But you have to swear you won't tell another soul about it, okay?" Eric's face remained scared looking. "Not even your G.I. Joes," Jackie added, hoping to lighten the mood. The more he stared at her like that, the more nervous she felt.
"Damn it," he cursed, letting out a little laugh to relieve the tension.
Jackie offered a small smile, and then her face flickered back to serious. "Eric, I'm pregnant." There. She had said it. She let out a deep breath and looked over at his expression.
"What?!" he demanded. "Th-th... that's impossible!" he said. He looked over at Jackie's sheepish expression. "You mean, Kelso... Kelso knocked you u- I mean, Kelso got you pregnant?" Jackie nodded. "Jackie, holy crap. I don't know what to say."
"Don't say anything," she warned. "Look, I just need someone to talk to."
"And you chose me?" he asked, still trying to process the heaviness of the news she had just laid on him.
"Well, yeah," she said. "You're kind of like a girl, you know? Only with not as big of a mouth."
"Thanks," he replied sarcastically.
"So," Jackie said, looking over at him. "I'm pregnant," she repeated, saying it more to herself than to Eric. "I'm pregnant," she said, and suddenly all her emotions that she had been pushing away came flooding through. She burst out into tears. "I don't know what I'm going to do." She fell onto Eric's chest, sobs coming out of her small body.
Eric looked down at the tiny girl, crying helplessly on his lap. He shifted awkwardly and finally rested a hand on her back. "Hey, it's okay," he told her softly. "It's going to be okay."
"How?" she asked through tears. "Eric, I'm only a sophomore. I'm fifteen. I can't have a baby."
Eric didn't know what to say to that. He patted her back gently. "It's alright, Jackie. You're going to be okay."
She finally rose up from his lap, wiping her puffy eyes. Eric reached over and grabbed a tissue from a Kleenex box. He passed it to her, waving it in front of her face.
"Are you offering me a white flag?" Jackie asked with a small smile, still letting out small hiccups from her crying.
"Well, I was thinking more about you drying your eyes, but take your pick," he said with a laugh. He handed the tissue to her, and his hand brushed up against hers slightly as she took it. She looked up at him with her big greenish blue eyes. For a moment she felt connected to him somehow, but he broke the gaze and looked away nervously. She blotted her eyes with the tissue, still feeling the spark of his touch on her fingers.
"It's getting kinda late," Eric mentioned.
"Yeah," she replied.
"Do you want to go home?" he asked, in a genuinely curious tone.
"Not really," she said with a sigh. "But I guess I probably should."
"You can stay here if you want," he offered. "There's a cot in the next room over."
"Why would I do that?" she asked.
"Well... you, uh... you said you didn't want to go home." Eric had stood up by now and was running his fingers nervously through his hair at that point.
Jackie sniffled and sat back onto the couch, crossing her legs daintily. "It's just that my parents are away for the weekend on a business trip," she admitted, a faraway look in her eyes. She turned to Eric. "You know, my parents are always pretty busy. They have important jobs."
Eric shrugged. "Well, they make a lot of money. That's always a good thing. I mean, my dad bitches and moans all the time about money. At least you never have to hear any of that from your folks."
"Yeah, I guess so," Jackie said. "At least my baby won't be poor," she said in a cold voice that didn't sound like hers. She shook her head and then stood up, grabbing her coat as she did so. "Thanks for the offer Eric," she said with a smile. "It was very sweet. But I think I'll go home. I just want to listen to some Peter Frampton and call it a night."
"Yeah, have fun with that," he said, rolling his eyes at her reference to Frampton. He began to turn to go upstairs.
"Oh, and Eric?" she said.
He turned around. "Yeah?"
"Thanks for listening," she replied, her lips turning up into a small smile.
"No problem, Jackie," he said, smiling back. The feeling of their gaze hung heavy in the air, until Jackie finally turned to go. Eric stood for a moment in the basement before ascending the steps.