A.N: So here we've come to the end of this story. I've been going back and forth on the idea of a sequel and can't decide if I should do it or not. I guess I'll let the readers make the call. If there's enough interest in a sequel then I'll do one. If not then I enjoyed this ride and will hide out until the potential zennie lynch mob grows tired of the search.
January 9th, 1981 7:23 pmForman's Basement
Hyde carried the case of beer into the basement, determined to drink until he either passed out or forgot everything about this horrible day. All daylong he had been trying to push it from his mind but nothing worked, not even several solo circles. It wasn't going to be easy. The challenge was another Everest for him, something that seemed impossible and daunting. But it needed to be conquered and fast. If he couldn't do it, he was probably going to lose what was left of his mind.
He sat in his chair and cracked open a beer. The first taste of it calmed his racing mind and he gulped more down eagerly. As soon as one can was empty, he opened another one. Every empty can was stacked into a pyramid, a useless endeavor that he only did because he couldn't sit still. By the eighth beer, he was frustrated. It wasn't having the desired effect. Instead of forgetting, every moment of their relationship, every burn and every time he made her cry kept replaying over in his head.
His hands made a rough pass over his face, a weak, meaningless attempt to wipe away the horrible images. Everything about her was burned into his memory though. The delicious scent of her hair and skin. Her trickling laughter. The feel of her supple lips against his. Her unique, mismatched eyes that could read him like no one else. The soft hands that used slide beneath his shirt. How her voice would hitch slightly on his name when they had sex.
The half-empty can of beer hit the wall before he realized that he had thrown it. He stared at the fizzing mess and pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to calm down and get control over his erratic breathing. But the fact that he could hear his gasping breaths and his lung burned clued him into the fact that it was an unattainable goal. Nothing ever worked out for him how it was supposed to and it never would. He should've accepted that a long time ago and stopped trying.
Despite his best attempts to drive her mind from mind with drugs and alcohol, it hadn't worked a year and a half ago and it wasn't going to work now. He was doomed to spend the rest of his life suffering with the knowledge that he failed her. That even though he told her that he'd do anything for her, he didn't. When things got tough, he did what he did best and walked away, not bothering to look back. Leaving her broken and alone when she was completely falling apart.
She deserved better than that, especially from him considering all the things she did to help him. But he was a jealous, angry asshole hell bent on pretending that he hated her, that there was never anything real between them. It was a lie but one made in the interest of self-protection. Because it would have hurt too much to be close friends with her but not be together. It killed him to not be able to touch or kiss her and have to suffer through watching her think that Fez was her perfect guy and then try to date new people when he made sure that fell through.
He should've tried to fix things between them, told her how he felt. His pride and ego got in the way and always stopped him though. The idea of her rejecting him prevented anything but scathing barbs to pass lips. Made him choose a whore he could never love over the woman whose unconditional love scared him. Stopped him from pulling her back from the edge of the cliff she'd fallen off of.
Pressure was building behind his eyes and he pulled in a deep breath, blinking forcefully to relieve it. The pent-up emotions he held onto for the past couple of years were screaming for release. He couldn't hold them back anymore and slammed his already bruised hand into the thick concrete wall. It stung like hell but he ignored the pain and drove his hand into it again, grunting hoarsely. Again and again, he hit the wall and felt his skin tear and the bones crack.
"Hey! Hey!" Eric's voice rang out and something grabbed him, tearing him away from the concrete he'd been assaulting it. Hands gripped his shoulders, surprisingly strong, and he looked into nervous eyes, not understanding why they were so blurry. "Stop man. The wall's had enough. And so hasn't the mess you call your hand."
"Let me go Forman." He wanted the command to sound fierce but it didn't. It had come out as a thin, pained whine.
Eric shook his head, "Not happening Hyde."
"Forman, I'm fine."
A chuckle followed that statement and the eyes of his best friend rolled toward the ceiling and stared up at it for a long moment, as if he was asking it what he was going to do then locked on his again. "You think Jackie would want to see you doing this? Think she'd be impressed by you losing it?"
"This had nothing to do with her."
"Sure, this little meltdown has nothing to do with the fact that she's lying in a hospital bed with no idea who she is and might never remember." Eric stated sarcastically, shaking him. "That she might never remember who you are or what you two had."
He swallowed thickly, around the massive lump in his throat. He blinked and some of the blurriness eased up. But his anger swelled at the annoying, knowing look on his best friend's face. "I let her go a long time ago."
"Oh yeah, sure, you moved on ages ago." He nodded slowly, sarcasm dripping from his words. "It's why you went to her hospital room today and did everything you could to try to get her to wake up."
"I was just sick of getting shit from everyone over her."
Another slow nod and more derision followed that statement. "That's why you told her if she didn't wake up by the time you walked out of the door you two were over."
"Whatever." He broke free of the hold and turned, walking back toward his room.
"You two aren't over."
Thos word froze him in his tracks and he turned to look at the closest thing to a brother that he had. "What are you talking about?"
"Jackie woke up before you left man." Eric shrugged at the confused, disbelieving look on his face. "Means there's still a chance for you two crazy kids, right? Unless your little confession about still loving her and the ultimatum were really just ploys to get her to wake up? Or maybe you said them because you didn't think she would wake up and just wanted to get everything off your chest."
He didn't respond, couldn't really because he didn't know the answer. Or maybe he did but wasn't going to admit it. His jaw clenched, a muscle twitching from the pressure.
"But if it was just a ploy or some form of a goodbye then why would you be crying and bashing a wall?"
"I'm not crying."
His eyebrows rose. "Hyde, man, you are."
He frowned and swiped at his eyes, feeling moisture coat his fingers. His gaze traveled to his wet fingers and he stared at them in shock. That explained why everything he looked at was blurry. But the fact that he had broken down and that someone witnessed it, pissed him off. Because he didn't cry, wasn't supposed to. It went against everything he stood for and his manhood would definitely be challenged over this.
Time to do damage control. He slipped into his customary mask of Zen and raised his eyebrows as if he thought Forman was an idiot. "My eyes are watering cause I'm going hand to hand with cement man. It doesn't exactly tickle."
"Ok, whatever you want to believe."
"It's the truth."
"No man, here's the truth. She's alive and in a hospital, probably scared out of her mind. Not knowing what happened to her or who anyone is. But you know what, it's still better than how things would have been if she died."
Hyde tensed at that but nodded, breathing heavily and feeling like his chest was going to explode. There was so much pressure there, like someone was sitting on him. It hurt to move or breathe.
"I know that everything is hard right now and seems bleak but she could remember everything someday. Even that despite the fact you've been an asshole to her for far too long, she still loves you." Eric said firmly, forcing his attention from his hands.
All he gave was a noncommittal grunt, trying to regain his composure and mentally kicking himself for showing emotion. Especially when it was about her. But of course it just backed him up on his theory that Jackie had the power to make men do dumb things and become completely stupid.
"Even if she doesn't remember, it doesn't mean that you two are over. All it means is that you two could start over. A clean slate. No pain. No anger. No Kelso, nurses or strippers to come between you anymore."
He snorted coldly at that, "Not true. I still have my memory and I don't forget."
"Good, at least one of you still remembers that you love each other."
"Want to know what I remember?" His tone was sharp and bitter as he snarled the question he had no intention of letting Forman answer. "I remember that being with her was a disaster. That it never should've of happened. That everyone was right when they said it was creepy and unnatural."
"Well, I remember how much happier you were with her. How good you two were for each other. The fact that even though you two drove each other crazy and bickered constantly, you were always there for each other."
A groan passed his lips and he shook his head. "Revisionist history."
"I'm not the one who's done the revising." Eric countered calmly, his expression as it could be in this situation. "You did and from what everyone told me, it all started after Chicago."
"I think your outlook on things would change too if you caught Donna in a hotel room with a moron in a towel after they obviously fucked."
He stared at him, disbelief etched on his face. "They didn't. Both of them said it. Yeah, he tried but he got turned down flat. So why can't you believe it?"
"Cause its bullshit man." He roared, eyes flashing dangerously. " I was gone for a month. It gave them plenty of time to work on their cover story. Not my fault that they couldn't come up with something better than that."
"Hyde, your voice is doing that cracking thing it does when you're trying to convince yourself of something." Eric pointed out quietly. "You know that nothing happened but you don't want to believe it because it would wipe out your excuse for pushing Jackie away."
"You trying to get me pissed?"
"No," A vehement shake of his head followed that. "But the fact that you are, is really interesting."
"You want to analyze someone? Become a shrink or something. But stay the hell out of my business."
"I'm sick of seeing you be this miserable, bitter asshole who does nothing but drink and smoke his life away because he's trying to mask the fact that he's in pain over the fact that he threw away the best thing in his life."
He chuckled at that, rolling his eyes. "Oh come on man. This is really getting desperate. You're sitting here, praising Jackie like you don't think that she'd the devil and the worst thing to ever walk into your basement just because of what happened."
"When she walked in here for the first time, she was the worst thing that happened and definitely Satan in a cheerleader's uniform. But that was years ago, before she grew up and changed. Why did she change? Because of you."
"Oh I get it." Hyde's eyebrow rose and a smirk curved his lips. "You're going above and beyond in the sap department to try to get to me because you think that deep down, I'm like you. Guess what Forman? I'm nothing like you and I never will be."
"That's obvious" Eric stated flatly, their gazes locked. "Because I'll always fight for Donna rather than just let her go because it's easier."
"You have to have something worth fighting for." But his words lacked the usual conviction.
"Jackie must of thought you did. She fought for your relationship everyday. Until she just couldn't take being pushed away anymore."
"If anyone pushed anyone away, it was her with that stupid fucking ultimatum." He shot back and crossed his arms over his chest. "Everything was fine until she started demanding that we get married."
"That's what you got from it?" Eric's voice cracked, betraying his disbelief. "That she wanted to get married right away?"
"Oh no, you really do deserve to wear the stupid helmet."
He tsk'd him sadly and shook his head. "Jackie wasn't trying to get you to pop the question right then man. All she wanted was to know that you wanted her in your life, that you saw a future with her. That someday it was possible you two could get married."
"No, this was just another one of her manipulations to get me to do what she wanted, like always. And I also fell for it. But then Don Juan El Tardo showed up in that towel and showed me how fucking stupid I was being for even considering…" He trailed off and ran a hand over his mouth.
"Shit, it all makes sense now!" Eric looked completely blown away. "You were going to propose! That's why you've been such an asshole to her ever since you came back."
His eyes widened and he shook his head frantically. "No, I wasn't."
"Yes, you were!"
"No, I wasn't!"
"Man, it's written all over your face." He snickered and had to add a burn. "Wow, I can't believe you were actually going to do it. Did you have a ring? A speech?"
A frustrated growl tore through the room. "No I didn't because I wasn't going to fucking propose."
"So why'd you go to Chicago then?"
"I was just in the neighborhood,"
"A damnable lie!" Eric cackled, pointing his finger. "You were here a few hours earlier, saying goodbye to me. So that means that to get to Chicago when you did, you took off the second the second the Vista Cruiser turned the corner and did about eighty all the way there!"
"How come you didn't just call her?"
Heaving a weighty sigh, he ran a hand through his 'fro. "I was bored, ok?"
"You don't just make a two hour drive out of boredom unless you have something really important to say or in this case, ask." Eric's amusement waned and his gaze turned studious, concerned. "That's why you took off and went to Vegas. And why you got drunk enough to marry the stripper. It's also why you refused to believe that nothing happened between Jackie and Kelso and why you wanted to hurt Jackie so much by staying with Sam."
"Whatever." Hyde was too exhausted, mentally and physically, to deal with this crap anymore tonight. He knew Forman well enough to know that since he had it all figured out, he was going to run and tell Donna, who'd probably storm over here early in the morning and shred him for it. Almost made it tempting not to wake up. "I'm done with this."
"Wait!" Eric called after his retreating form. "I never came down here to do what I was supposed to."
"And what was that reason? To annoy me? Make me want to break your jaw? Kill my buzz? Give me a headache?" He gave a cold smirk, striding over to his door. "Because if so then you definitely accomplished your mission."
"I came down to fill you in on what mom told us about Jackie."
His hand froze on the knob and he closed his eyes. Did he really want to know? Could he handle it? Or would the bad news just send him back to bashing in a concrete wall? Was it worth knowing?
"The hospital's going to keep her for a few days, to observe her behavior and run tests and stuff." Eric paused and the air in the basement became heavy and tense. "If she hasn't remembered anything after that, they have to send her to a place that deals with amnesia for a month or so."
That lump formed in his throat again and he swallowed thickly as the vision of his pretty little doll face, all alone in some crappy government owned hellhole crossed his mind. He pinched the bridge of his nose and expelled a tremulous breath, but said nothing. Just stood there waiting for the rest of the bad news to be announced because he knew from experience that once it started, it didn't stop.
"Uh, if she's still having trouble with her memory then my mother wants to be her here until she either remembers or can handle things on her own."
There was that paralyzing, crushing weight on his chest again. Because he knew his luck and it was bad, all bad. That meant that it was inevitable that Jackie wasn't going to remember and have to stay there. Mrs. Forman wouldn't let him ignore Jackie. No, she'd insist that he make an effort to help since, what did she always, they had such a special relationship. And if he was lucky enough to somehow convince Kitty that he should stay far away from her, he'd never be able to convince Red of that fact and would be forced to man up and do the right thing.
Damn it. Maybe hell really did exist and this was his punishment for doubting it. Because living in the same house as the only woman he ever loved and her not knowing who he was had to be it's own special layer of Hades. Or maybe there was such a thing as karma and this was how it decided to kick his ass. Whatever one it was, it wasn't going to be fun. No it was going to be the worst, most painful kind of torture there was.