Note: Well, here it is, the final chapter. Enjoy.
Chapter Nine: The End
Despite being totally sober, everything went by for Hyde in a blur. He plead guilty and was sentenced to five years in a minimum security prison with mandatory drug counseling and no chance of parole until after four years. Everyone thought he got off easy. Including himself.
He had been in for about a month when he got his first visitor, Jackie.
"What are you doing here?" He spoke into the phone that connected to the one that Jackie held on the opposite side of the glass.
"I came to see you," she said softly.
"Well, I know, but…why?"
"I needed to confirm something."
"I need to know who raped me."
Hyde was very confused. "I don't…"
"Was it Steven, or Steven on drugs?"
Now he understood. "It was the drugs, I swear. I don't even remember….Jackie, I can't believe I hurt you. I'm sorry. That wasn't me."
"I think I knew that."
"That doesn't make it okay, Steven," Jackie reminded him solemnly. "I don't think I can ever…."
"What?" He hoped she wasn't going to say what he thought she might.
"I don't think I can ever forgive you."
Dammit. That's what he was hoping she wouldn't say. But if he was honest with himself, he didn't expect her to ever forgive him. "I don't expect you to."
Jackie only nodded. "Goodbye, Steven."
Eight Years Later
"I can't believe it's finally happening!"
"You better start believing, 'cause after the honeymoon, real life kicks in."
"Oh shut up, Donna! This is my day and I don't need you and your depression ruining it," Jackie scolded her maid of honor.
"What depression? I'm just telling you what's going to happen," Donna told her best friend as they stood in front of the mirror together all dressed and ready and waiting for the reception to start. "I mean, don't get me wrong. I love Chris, but sometimes married life just seems to get so insane."
"Okay, now you're really ruining it, Donna," Jackie said seriously as she looked at her friend's mirror image as if it was the real thing.
"Sorry," Donna said sheepishly.
"Oh Jackie! You look gorgeous!" Kitty gushed as she entered the room all dressed up.
"Thanks Mrs. Foreman," Jackie said smiling as she turned around.
"Well, come on, you two. The service is about to start," Kitty said, ushering the two younger girls out of the room and into the small hallway in the back of the church where they would wait until it was their turn to go.
They talked in hushed tones until the men who were escorting them arrived and the music started. First Donna and Chris's four-year-old daughter, Emma went as the flower girl and made her way to the front of the church throwing flower petals around just like she was told, smiling to whole time at the two men at the end of the row, the priest and the groom. Then Kitty went on the arm of Red following about five steps behind the little girl they considered their first grandchild. Next, Donna went with her husband Chris. After them, Brooke went with Fez, the best man.
Jackie was breathing methodically to try and calm her nerves.
"Don't worry. You're gonna do great," the man on her am who would be walking her down the aisle assured her.
"Thanks Michael," Jackie said smiling up at her him. Jackie's father was still in jail and so she had been left with no one to walk her down the aisle. Then Donna came up with the idea for Kelso to do it. It just seemed right, having her first love give her away to the man she was going to marry. The two old friends shared a smile and then began their walk to the groom.
When Jackie saw her future husband at the front of the church, waiting for her, smiling at her, her grin got ten times bigger and her whole face lit up.
Finally, Jackie was at the end of her walk down the aisle. She and Kelso exchanged kisses on the cheek, him whispering some last minute reassuring words to her, and then her hand was being held by the love of her life and the priest was in front of them smiling, ready to begin.
When Jackie was a little girl, she had always imagined her perfect wedding. Part of that perfect wedding was listening intently to everything the priest was saying, but as she stood their, holding hands with the man she fell in love with, the kind of love that towered over all of the other love she had ever felt, she couldn't hear a word that man was saying. She was too busy getting lost in the smile of her soon-to-be husband
It was three words that took her out of her trance.
"Do you, Jackie…"
When the priest was done, she said, "I do" without hesitation and smiled when the man across from her did the same.
"I now pronounce you man and wife…" Jackie's smile was so big her face nearly split in two.
"You may kiss the bride."
Jackie's now husband leaned down and rested his forehead momentarily against hers before capturing her lips in a kiss to end all kisses.
Everyone watching stood up and began cheering for them as they finished their first kiss as a married couple. Jackie looked out at all of her friends and then back at the man next to her.
"I love you, Eric," she said to her husband.
"I love you, too, Jackie," Eric responded.
The two were smiling brightly at each other when out of the corner of her eyes, Jackie noticed someone in the back of the church. She turned to look and her face softened when she saw whom it was. Steven.
Two made eye contact and shared a small nod.
Jackie had been unsure about sending him and invitation, so instead, she simply phoned him with Eric holding her hand, telling her it was okay to do so. She wasn't sure if he would come. She also wasn't sure whether or not she wanted him to come. As she saw him there, giving her a small smile, she was glad her did.
She also sighed, realizing she still hadn't forgiven him.
Note: I know, I know. Open ending. But really it isn't. The lovebirds got married and that makes you happy, right?
Get it. Got it. Good.