You have stumbled upon a forbidden ship. It was never explored on the show, which is probably best since yo-yoing characters isn't a good idea on any TV show, but I felt like trying something different. There are numerous continuity issues here (nothing earth shattering), mainly in part with the fact that I stopped watching the show in the middle of season eight. There could be the odd hint to the later episodes, but they're few and far between. Please enjoy, for there is already twenty more chapters written and ready to be posted if you so wish to read them. This takes place two years after Eric left, so some things have changed, but don't worry, all will be thoroughly explained.
I tend to ramble, so to understand a little more you can visit my profile page if you so wish.
The heated night caused his pours to open, sweat dripping from his forehead as he stepped onto one of the many sidewalks of Green Bay. It was unseasonably warm for May, but in his mind it was of no consequence. Truth was, he had become accustomed to the heat and had come to prefer it rather than the cold of home. It was somewhat depressing that he wasn't blasted with the familiar fresh midnight air of Wisconsin in late spring, but he knew the weather tended to fluctuate rapidly after warm nights. Knowing that such heat in the middle of the night signaled the likelihood of a gathering storm, he did up the zipper on his coat and extended a hand to hail a cab.
There was no plan to his return, not even a mention of it in his letters to home. Having been gone for almost two years, Eric Forman, the once scrawny and meek doormat from Point Place, was now a man. It brought a smile to his lips to think that at one time he had been everything his father said he was, but there would be no dissatisfaction from his father, for he knew Red would be proud of him. Much like his father, he had left the country armed with nothing but his clothes on his back and a confidence that bordered on the pathetic. His father had gone to war, but in his mind he had faced a similar foe in Africa. The living conditions were deplorable, inevitably hardening him to the surroundings and allowing him to open his eyes to what was going on around him. His life had forever been changed, yet there was still a part of him that nothing could rob him of. Home.
As a yellow cab began to slow down and park along the sidewalk of the airport, the brakes squealing loudly, he reached down and picked up the luggage. Two years ago he would have had trouble with the weight of such a ridiculously large piece of storage, but his newfound matured body was stronger than it ever had been. It could be said that he had matured later than others, but in his mind it was the experience of life that had toughened him.
Setting the luggage into the trunk and closing the top soundly, he slipped around and into the backseat. As he instructed the cabbie to his destination, he couldn't help but grin. Things had worked out better than he could have expected. Sure, he had lost Donna, but in the back of his mind, on the day he had left for Africa, he knew that it was a possibility that he'd have to accept. He didn't resent her for voicing her frustration on the phone some many months ago; in fact he had welcomed it with a heavy sigh of relief. A long distance relationship was taxing, not only on his heart, but on his mind too. The mutual separation had been beneficial to both of them in the end, and he was a little happy to hear that Donna had actually found another to make her happy.
A year ago he would have been furious and jealous that Donna had found another man, but with his newfound outlook on the condition known as life, it all seemed trivial in the broad spectrum. The selfishness and antagonizing pain of his teen years seemed like a distant memory, memories that he knew were better left forgotten in the recesses of his mind. There would be a time and place to one day sit back and reflect on everything that had happened and would yet to happen, but for the moment he was caught up with the idea of home.
As the car began to steadily pick up speed, its destination the suburb of Point Place, Eric checked his watch. It was a quarter past midnight, the moon having disappeared behind the dark clouds of the impending storm. Through the front window of the cab he could see the lights of the city streets illuminating the way, pointing him to a destination that always brought a smile to his face. His mother would be more than happy to see him, and even though he knew his father would scowl and mutter something inane and disrespectful, he also knew it was Red's way of saying he was proud of him.
A lot of things had changed, much for the better and much for the worst it seemed. From the letters he received, to the monthly phone call home, he had learned that not everything had stayed the same. Hyde was no longer a burnt out teenager with a penchant for smoking a nefarious and illegal drug, although it wouldn't surprise Eric if his best friend had a stash somewhere just in case of an emergency. He was also married, which surprised him, but he couldn't judge his best friend without meeting his wife. Kelso had also matured, although, according to Fez, the one time babe hound had still found a way to act immature. Thinking about Kelso in any other way than running around and chasing stray dogs seemed foreign, but he also knew that his friend had taken on the responsibility of his daughter and Brooke.
The oft time bumbling idiot had taken his share of bruises and ill advised paths, but Eric knew for a fact that when things came to a head and hard choices had to be made, Kelso would always do the right thing. Learning that the knucklehead was now in fact engaged to the one time librarian and Point Place High graduate was surprisingly invigorating. Happiness comes in all forms, he thought to himself as the lights sped by at an alarming rate. A few seconds later the rain began to fall, signaling the end to the heat and bathing the city in a cool and refreshing mist. As the distance between home and the cab continued to evaporate, he looked out the window and entwined his fingers in-between his legs.
The draw of home had been too much to endure, and even though he knew he could stay away longer, he had felt it was the right time to return. His leaving for Africa was more about finding himself than it was about earning experience among the teaching profession, but he was glad to have found a calling to herald as his own. Now that he was home he knew that he'd have to find a job, but with the population always on the rise, the need for teachers would be increasing alongside. Reaching into his coat pocket, he retrieved a folded piece of paper and unfolded it slowly. He read it over once again for good measure, this specific letter the final straw to stamp his decision to move home. Well, not really.
The letter explained much of what had happened in the past months and he felt as if he had been losing touch with those he had known so well. Fez was touring around the country as a backup dancer with a well known band, but he couldn't remember the name. It was the eighties, but to him it had been as if time had stopped, the new decade seemingly the same as the last. Maybe it was the slow progression of Africa, or his ignorance to the outside world that he had accidentally developed, but he couldn't help but begin to feel unprepared. He had spent two years without a television, a newspaper, and even proper toilet paper. Now he was starting over again, but at least it was at home with people who cared about him.
Things would be different, he knew that, but somewhere inside him he also knew that not everything changed. According to the letter that he held in his hand, Jackie was still as shallow and as mean as ever. Her dream of being a weather reporter for the local news had come true, giving her a confidence that his mother could only describe as overly abrasive. The over ambitious little spitfire was never someone he would have thought he'd miss, but she was one of the group, even though he tried not to admit it. In all, he missed everyone too much to be apart from them any longer.
The rain began to fall in droves, soaking his hair and dampening his jacket as he stepped out of the stopped cab. Leaving the door open, he turned and leaned his arms on the wet roof of the vehicle. There it was; the small dwelling where he had spent most his life, where all his memories were, whether good or bad. He handed over the exact cash to the driver and went around to the trunk. A second later he was moving towards the back of the house, the sound of the car disappearing into the distance as it was droned out by the steadily falling rain. Stepping under the small protection of the tiny porch, he reached into his pocket and withdrew his key. The light by the sliding door was off, but the alley lamps were enough for him to accurately put the key into the lock. With a quick flick of his wrist the lock snapped over and he opened the door a little.
Shaking his head at how his father never took the time to change the locks, his old stubborn ways no more evident, Eric slid the door open all the way, revealing a dark room with almost no complexion to it. Sliding his hand over in the dark, he found the light switch and flipped it up. The kitchen quickly lit up, causing him to squint suddenly and let his eyes adjust. Once they did, he kicked out of his shoes and set his luggage by the table. He closed the door behind him and locked it. Nothing had changed he realized, the disco style wallpaper and cheese grater lights still present. In his socks, he slipped his coat off and hung it on the hook. The oven and the fridge hadn't changed either, both the same size and color as when he had left.
Realizing that he was still smiling, he went to the fridge and opened it. Once again he was shocked to realize that nothing inside the thing had changed either. The contents were still the same, but the eggs now white instead of brown. He remembered what his father used to say about white eggs and how brown were better, and Eric couldn't help but laugh a little as he thought of how his mother had convinced Red that white were just as good as brown. Looking specifically for something to drink, he reached into he back and found a can of beer. In the hot atmosphere of Africa he had acquired a shrewd taste for alcohol. The local beer had been quite bitter and warm, but each brew had its own original taste that he enjoyed. He knew his father would have something to say, but Red's anger seemed more bearable now that he was certain his father's anger was just his way of expressing his true feelings.
Not standing around to dwell on the complexity known as his father, he opened the can and took a sip. Sighing in appreciation, he walked over to the table and took a seat on the cushioned chair closest to the back wall. With the beer nestled in both his hands, he looked around at the room and said, "It's good to be home."
He was only halfway through the can when the sliding door opened up and the sound of rain hitting pavement filled his ears. Deciding to be quiet, thinking it might be best not to wake everyone, he watched as a woman with long blonde hair and a lithe body closed an umbrella. It wasn't Laurie, for he knew his sister was somewhere in New York City, modeling for some agency he had never heard of. No, the woman before him was tall, maybe even as tall as Donna, but slender, and wore only a pair of pink hot pants and a tight yellow tank tee. As the woman continued to present her back to him, he took a calm drink and waited for her to turn around. Instead of facing him, she seemed not to notice his presence and walked into the kitchen after slipping off her sandals. "Who are you?" he asked, catching her attention.
The woman spun around, a small croak escaping her throat as her eyes bulged out in surprise. She seemed not to register who he was, so he simply asked her again. "Who are you?" When the woman began to scrutinize him, as if she was trying to place his face, he took another drink and stared back. In the light, she was even more beautiful than he could have guessed, her face doing justice to the body he had seen only a second ago.
"Ah, Hyde's wife," he exclaimed as if relieved.
"And you are?" she asked as he took another drink.
"Eric," he replied, not taking his eye of her for a second. First impressions were never really his forte, but over the past few years he had learned not to let what others thought about him affect his own emotions. He now understood what his father meant when he claimed everyone was a dumb-ass.
"Red and Kitty's son?"
He frowned slightly at her question. He knew Hyde had good taste in women, but this one seemed a little light headed for even his own taste. The question seemed somewhat rhetorical, but it unnerved him none the less. Who the hell else would he be?
When he nodded, she relaxed a little and slung her purse over her shoulder. "I've seen pictures of you around here, but I can't say that any of them really resemble you."
Eric nodded and finished his beer. "Two years in Africa tends to have that affect on people." His voice was complacent and unwavering. In the past he would have been nervous around such a stunningly beautiful woman, but he had spoken the truth. He had changed. "So," he said as her rocked the empty tin can back and forth on the table, his eyes never leaving her, "does Hyde know you're out this late?" It was a Thursday night after all.
Frowning, her face becoming a mere image of the man's in font of her, she said, "Did Hyde never tell you what I do?"
Shaking his head, his eyebrows furrowing even deeper, he realized that his best friend had never said anything about what his wife did. "No, he never told me."
"Well," she began, dropping her purse on the counter, "I strip downtown." The man's eyebrows rose slightly at her statement, but instead of the usual open mouthed amazement that she received from her husband's other friends, Eric seemed almost stoic. "You know, Kelso had a lot to say when Hyde told him I was a stripper."
"I'm sure he did," Eric replied with a nod. He got up a second later and walked past her.
"Are you not in the least bit curious or excited? Fez was fascinated just about as much as Kelso was."
Eric shrugged and dropped the beer can in the trash. "When you've seen the things I have, and watched people die for no particular reason at all, it humbles you. I guess that what I used find shocking isn't as important anymore."
Sam watched him intently. Unlike Kelso, Fez, and even Hyde, the Forman's son was calm and collective around her. Often times she had been ogled by men, and even though she had caught Eric staring at her, the familiar anger that accompanied those glances never emerged. He seemed to scrutinize her, stare into her soul and judge her. It was unsettling to say the least, and it was the last thing she had expected. Hyde had always said that Forman was a goof, an unsure sack of grain with a brain. Her husband was certainly in for a surprise when he would be reunited with his old friend.
"Does anyone else know you're here?" she asked.
Shaking his head, Eric said, "No, and truth is I'm tired as hell and I think the reunion could best be held off until tomorrow."
"Well, I know for a fact that your mother hasn't changed a thing in your room." When he smiled slightly, she swore she could see the boy he once might have been.
"I guess I'll see you in the morning then," Eric stated as he went for the swinging door to the living room.
Sam continued to frown as she watched Eric disappear through the door, only to see him slowly go up the stairs as the door swung back to reveal the living room. One day she knew she'd meet Eric Forman, and from what she had heard from his friends, his mother, and even his father, she had expected something entirely different.
Being a sociable person, she often got along with everyone and could read them instantly. She had known from the first instant that she met Kelso and Fez that they were both immature men who were still caught up in high school. Donna was smart and thoughtful, never one to offend another, and Jackie was abrasive and loud. But Eric, something about the young man made her shiver. There was an edge to him, yet when he smiled he looked as if he couldn't hurt a fly.
A dancer by trade, it allowed her to scrutinize the patrons that ogled her on stage. There were two types. Most men stared upon her with open lust, their eyes following her every movement, while others would stare with a hunger that often scared her. Those were the nights when she'd call Steven and ask him to pick her up from work. It wasn't often she did so, for those men were few and far between. But in-between those two types was Eric. She could tell he had been a little fascinated by her clothing and body, but somewhere in his eyes laid a somber thoughtfulness that she could only describe as pity.
A mysterious man was always an interesting one, but from Eric's tone of voice and hard eyes, she knew that she likely wouldn't want to find out what lay behind. From the family photos of Eric, his sister and his parents, there looked to be a warmth about him. But after just meeting him, she couldn't help but shake the feeling that she had just spoken to a drastically changed man. Relenting to speaking to Hyde about it in the morning, she picked up her purse and headed downstairs, knowing that sleep would be hard to come by as she could still feel his icy gaze upon her.
Eric slipped past his parent's door and opened his own. Too tired to turn on the light to look around, he let the street lights guide him to his bed. Within seconds he had his clothes in a heap on the floor and was crawling under familiar blankets. It was good to be home, but he couldn't shake the feeling that others might not recognize their once boyish friend. He knew he had changed, and even if Hyde's wife had never met him before, he could tell she was scared of him. If anyone said to him he was his father's son, he'd be inclined to believe them, but never did he think the day would come that he found himself so alike to the man who had treated him like an old shoe his whole life. Deep down he hated it, but he also knew he'd have to live with it, for it was who he was. His father would accept it, but he hoped the others would too.