Okay guys, for the sake of my delicate ego :) I would first like to set the record straight… I am a hardcore Jackie/Hyde shipper but I have to be honest and say that Jackie/Eric is my second favourite. And while I would like more than anything for people to read my story I totally understand if you don't want to. I can't stop you from flaming me but if you are totally against the idea of Jackie and Eric together, why would you be reading this in the first place??
I also would like to point out that while some characters may seem OOC I really feel like I am writing them in a way that is more grown up than what they might have presented as before. And I don't want to spend half the story justifying the fact that they have grown up a lot, so I hope anyone reading this understands why I did it this way.
Anyway, I hope those of you who are willing to give this story a chance enjoy it!
NOVEMBER 1981- SOMEWHERE IN SOUTH AFRICA
Home is where the heart is….
Or so that's what they say and God knows he had heard the cute little phrase from his mother often enough, especially when she was desperately trying to coerce any of the children who lived, or practically lived, in her house to stay at home.
The annoying little adage lodged itself into the mind of Eric Forman who, at this moment, was standing in an airport in the middle of South Africa, trying to make decide if the saying really made sense.
The truth was home may be where the heart is for most people, but in his case home and his heart had been two separate things for a long, long time.
When he had first embarked on this African adventure he had left with the illusion that his heart was with the girl he loved all his life. After all he was doing this for her, for them, so that they could have a future.
At least that is what he thought when he left for Africa in April of 1979.
He had been filled with the conviction that he was going off to do something worthwhile and that when all was said and done that he would be going back to her, to begin their life together.
He had imagined since they were children that they would always be together, that they WERE the happily ever after you always read about in fairytales. He supposed that because of everything that they had been through he genuinely believed that they would always be… Eric and Donna, Donna and Eric, Donneric Formciotti…
He shook his head at the memory, because that is all that he had of her anymore, memories.
And he didn't really know how he felt about that.
Eric sighed and rubbed his face with his hands.
Something had changed during his tenure in Africa. He had gone to Africa with the notion that it would bridge the gap between where he had been and the rest of his life. He hadn't anticipated that by going to Africa that he would unknowingly already begin the rest of his life.
He had changed, mentally and emotionally, he was different person than the naïve young man from Wisconsin.
He had left that life and everyone in it behind.
He was a much calmer person now, not… quite… so twitchy, and he was a much more realistic person. His expectations, goals, and dreams had changed.
Africa had its beauty and it had its horrors, he had seen and experienced both. These things helped to mold him and he had come to like himself better for it.
It didn't take long for him to realize that when he decided to teach in Africa that he was doing it for himself.
Not for Donna.
Not for a dream of what they might one day become. He had spent so much of his life trying to make other people happy that doing something that made him happy was a foreign concept.
That is what Africa was, his chance to do something that made him happy.
He loved to teach. He loved to see the looks on the faces of the children who otherwise might never have had a chance if not for people like him who came here to make a difference. And that made him feel proud of himself, something he had never felt.
He felt free for the first time in his life and found himself thinking about her less and less as the days went on.
He forgot to write, to call, and finally the day came when without even planning on doing it, he sat down and wrote her a letter, the letter that would forever separate them.
His contract to stay in Africa allowed him to leave at the end of 1979 if he so chose. He'd have the chance to go back and be with his friends to ring in the New Year, but at the last minute he had decided not to go.
He watched as the plane, the plane he was supposed to be on, taxied away from the terminal. He didn't know why, but he knew he wasn't ready to go back there yet. So he had signed on to teach for another year. And then another.
His mother was heartbroken that he hadn't come home and of course Red was pissed that his mother was upset because he didn't come back. Hyde was disappointed but he had his own life to be getting on with. The rest of his friends just hoped they would see him again one day soon.
Everyone was careful not to discuss with him how Donna handled his decision.
The Formans had decided they would go through with the move to Florida after all and arrived there in May of 1980, Eric continued to get updates on the gang from his mother via tape recorder:
Hyde had stayed married to the Las Vegas stripper and bought a house in Point Place. WB had given full ownership of the Point Place Grooves to him. He seemed to be doing well though Kitty often had scathing remarks to make about Sam.
Donna was, well… from what his mother had related to him, she had certainly moved on with her life….
Fez and Laurie had "worked things out" somehow (much to Red's immense annoyance, but at least his heart held strong) and were married and living in Florida in the same neighborhood as the Formans.
Kelso and Brooke had eloped and moved into a house in a Chicago suburb, Kelso had made it all the way up to captain in the Chicago Police Department. Kitty had informed him that they were expecting another baby.
That left Jackie, the youngest of the group, not one Eric would ever really call a friend but all the same his mother said she was living in Chicago as well, going to school and working as a paralegal in a law office.
Eric couldn't explain why but he guessed he always felt kind of sorry for Jackie.
He had thought about her a lot ever since Kitty had told him about Hyde running off and marrying a stripper. He guessed he could relate to her situation and that in itself was weird.
He missed everyone in one way or another, or rather he missed the way they were. Once… a long time ago. When they were all just kids messing around in his parent's basement.
But as it happens people grow up and grow apart and things don't stay the same.
It was a hard truth, but a truth all the same.
The days of the basement were gone and while he would never forget the people and experiences that one simple room held, he didn't mourn its loss.
Shaking his head again, Eric brought himself back to the present.
He was still standing in the middle of a busy airport, with no idea where he was going or what he would do when he got there. He knew he was ready to leave Africa but he didn't know where he wanted to go.
Home is where the heart is.
Well, then he supposed there was no home to go to. His heart had vacated him and so could not guide him home.
He sure as hell wasn't going back to Point Place, he didn't know if he ever would. He didn't want to go to Florida just yet, the thought of his mother fawning all over him filled him with a sense of dread, so that really left one other option.
He picked up his suitcase and adjusted the knapsack on his shoulder as he headed for the ticket counter.
"May I help you?" the man asked in a South African accent.
"One ticket to Chicago please."