Eric clutched his bag in one hand and Jasmine's in the other as he weaved through the crowded airport
I'm so sorry about not getting this out sooner. I just haven't been in a writing mood lately.
I don't own That 70's Show, or any sort of religious literature that might be referenced in this tale. It's a tribute, nothing more, nothing less.
Bound by Fate
Eric clutched his bag in one hand and Jasmine's in the other as he weaved through the crowded airport. He had told his mother that he would catch a cab and head straight for the hospital. He knew his palms were sweating and he clutched the bag in his hand to keep it from slipping out of his grasp. Finally, he found the doors to the cab area and pulled Jasmine along to the curb. She raised an eyebrow at him as he gestured for one of the cabs to come.
"You have cash on you?" she asked.
"Yep." He had been speaking in short sentences all day.
As soon as the cab pulled up and the driver hopped out to help them with their luggage, he opened the back door for Jasmine.
They got into the cab and Eric informed the cabbie of their destination. The man gave a short nod, said alright and then started to drive out of the lot. It wasn't until they were on the highway that Eric sat back and began to relax.
Jasmine took his hand and squeezed it lightly. Eric gave her a crooked grin in appreciation of her support.
"Uh, I need to talk to you about something." He said after awhile.
"Okay." Jasmine replied.
Eric took a deep breath, "I need you to do something for me."
"Anything." Jasmine said, and Eric knew that she meant it.
"I need you to be my fiancé." Eric blurted out.
The cabbie laughed. "That's no way to propose to a girl, especially not one as pretty as her."
They both ignored him. "Why?" Jasmine asked.
Eric sighed, "Because I need an excuse…and I don't think I can't be with you because I'm supposed to be training how to be some bad ass protector whose going to someday save your life is going to fly over too well with her."
Jasmine was silent for a moment but eventually nodded her consent. "If that's what you need."
Eric nodded, "So uh, I was thinking that we could tell them I proposed to you on the plane."
Jasmine winced, "The plane? Who does that?"
"I would, I'm that guy!" It was sad, but was the truth.
Jasmine shook her head, "Are you sure they're going to buy this?"
Eric stopped himself from laughing, "That I'd be able to score a hot girl like you? Oh they'll believe me."
Eric looked out of the window and saw the hospital looming ahead. He turned back to Jasmine, "And could you please not tell them about the cricket?"
Jasmine only laughed in response as the cab stopped at the hospital's curb. "I make no promises."
They walked into the hospital. It was late and hardly anyone was there. Jasmine gave Eric a quick kiss on the cheek. "I'm gonna use the restroom, I'll find you." Eric nodded and walked up to the nurses' station.
"We're here to see Jackie Burkhart."
"Eric?" He turned as he heard Donna's voice behind him
"Donna?" He squeaked. He wasn't ready for this, especially after looking at her. Her hair was back to its normal red, but she looked defeated, which made him want to hold her. She walked to him and he said the first thing that popped into his head.
"Your hair!" He pointed to her red tresses and laughed.
"You're… tan!" Eric wanted to laugh at the awkwardness. Instead he turned around to see if Jasmine was on her way. He needed her for her support.
"Waiting on someone?" Donna asked.
"Oh yeah." Eric said, trying to be as flippant as possible. "Uh, so… where is…"
Donna gestured towards Jackie's room. "She's still in surgery though."
"Surgery?" Eric asked surprised. "What for?" oh god, was he too late?
Donna shrugged. "I'm not really sure to be honest with you." Eric looked behind his shoulder again. Where was she?
Knowing that he needed to tell Donna about Jasmine before she came, he turned back to her. "Donna… there's something you need to know." She wasn't paying him any attention as they walked to Jackie's room.
"Look what I found." Donna interrupted Eric mid speech as she opened the door to Jackie's ICU room.
The next thing Eric knew, he was being hugged by his mother and Fez. He had to admit that he had missed both of them, especially his mom. As he awkwardly patted Fez on the back he heard Jasmine's voice.
"Am I interrupting something?"
Fez instantly let go of Eric and Eric took the opportunity to walk over to her. He glanced at Donna who was staring unabashedly at her. Eric clutched Jasmine's hand.
"Everyone, this is Jasmine, my fiancé."
He watched as Jasmine greeted the gang with her usual exuberance. Truthfully after he had found out what she really was, he had been afraid that he didn't know who she was anymore, but the fears had been quickly dissuaded. She was still the same girl he had grown close to his first three months in Africa. He let his mind wander for a minute until he heard his father speak to him.
"She's French?" Red was glaring at him and he couldn't help but wince. He should have realized that was going to be an issue.
"Libyan." Jasmine corrected. "I was born and raised in Libya, but if it makes you feel better, my father fought for the Free French in the war."
Red stared Eric's new fiancé down. "You don't take crap from no one do you?"
"And you're polite." Red nodded. "Eric, I like her."
Eric smiled widely and put his arm around his closest ally. He kissed the top of her head and whispered thank you in her ear before turning to Hyde. He didn't know what to say to him. He looked; well bad didn't really cover it.
"So, when do I get to meet Mrs. Hyde?" Eric asked teasingly. Underneath the teasing was the real question, who are you and what have you done with my friend?
Soon, it was almost like he hadn't left. The gang informed Eric of their latest hijinx and he had to admit he felt a little jealous. They were stealing clowns while he was getting lectured by seventy year old shaman women and teaching children the difference between adverbs and verbs. Then Jasmine did the unexpected and asked about Jackie. Eric wondered what Jasmine's plan was, but said nothing. He had noticed the tension between Donna and Hyde and didn't know if this was the best time to bring up the elephant in the room.
"You're saying I'm an elephant?" Eric could hear Jackie's shrill voice in his head and made a mental apology to the girl in a coma.
Then Hyde declared that Jackie was perfect and Eric could only close his eyes and wait for the explosion.
"So perfect that you had to kill her?" Donna said, slowly rising from her chair. Eric did the only thing he could think of and tried to grab her hand to calm her down, but she pulled away. Eric winced inwardly, he should have known better. Instead, all he could do was watch as they fought.
"She was dead and all you could do was laugh!" Eric recalled the vision of Hyde laughing as Jackie fell into the creek. Damn, had he done it that whole night?
Hyde stood up and yelled in Donna's face. "I didn't know!" "I thought she had gone home without us!" So that answered that question. No, it didn't answer anything. Eric shook his head.
"Like that matters!" Donna screamed. The rest of the gang could only watch as the two most important people in Jackie's life squared off.
"You really want to blame me?" Hyde asked. "You knew how drunk I was, and yet all you could think about was being alone with Randy!"
"Randy?" Eric asked, pretty sure he already knew.
"Boyfriend." Fez answered.
"Ex boyfriend." Donna quipped, not taking her eyes off of Hyde.
"It's your fault she fell in as much as it is mine." Hyde accused.
Donna nodded. "You're right." She agreed. "We all did this." Eric felt the brunt of what she was saying.
"So what do we do?" he heard Kelso ask.
"How about you guys start at the beginning." Eric requested.
Fez nodded. "It was a dark and stormy night…" The group all listened as Fez and Donna told their sides of the night in question. No one took their eyes off of Jackie as the vision of her cascading down the creek, body slamming against the rocks as the current swept her downstream engulfed them all. They were lucky she was even alive.
"So tell us what you've been doing in Africa." Hyde said, changing the subject for the sake of everyone's sanity. Eric had never been more grateful in his life. Soon he and Jasmine were telling the group about his time in Africa, the kids, the unbearable heat, the scary animals, everything except what truly mattered. Umi, Jasmine not being human, what he was really doing in Africa.
"And he was all 'get it off, get it off!" Jasmine waved her hands in the air and did her best Eric impersonation. Everyone except Eric and Donna laughed.
"It was huge!" Eric said defensively.
"It was a cricket!" Jasmine teased. "Anyway, I rescued him from the big bad cricket." The two of them looked at each other lovingly. Eric laughed inside; he was a better actor than he thought.
Soon enough, a nurse poked her head inside the room and informed them that visiting hours were over and they needed to leave. Eric wasn't surprised they ended up in the basement. There wasn't a lot of places to sit, but Eric didn't care. He was home.
Except home didn't really feel like home anymore. It was missing something.
It was missing someone.
"So, you're a teacher?" Fez asked.
Jasmine shook her head. "No, I'm not allowed near children, I have a tendency of letting them misbehave." She grinned wickedly. "I run the supplies to all the different camps."
"Supplies?" Fez queried.
"Food, bandages, books, bottled water, pornography, all the necessities." Jasmine answered with a devilish grin.
"How did he propose?" Donna asked.
"Donna." Eric stated warningly. She didn't need to hear this; he didn't need to hear this, even if it had been his idea.
"No, I want to know." Donna told him. "Tell us all about it."
Jasmine and Eric looked at each other in silent conversation. He could tell that Jasmine didn't want to lie, but he begged with his eyes, just this once.
"He proposed to me on the plane ride here." Jasmine answered after a minute.
"On the plane?" Hyde finally spoke for the first time since they had left the hospital. "Harsh man."
"I was going to do it next week, on Jasmine's birthday." Eric replied. "But we got the call about Jackie and Jasmine offered to come with me and it just felt right." He grinned widely, "And, I got a sign on the plane."
"A sign?" Fez asked.
"Oh yes, tell them what the sign was." Jasmine laughed.
"The in flight movie was Star Wars."
Everyone except Eric and Jasmine groaned.
"Damn Forman." Kelso said.
Jasmine was smiling widely at Eric. Hyde shook his head at both of them.
"You encourage this?" Hyde asked her. Jasmine nodded in response.
"It's only the best movie ever made." Jasmine replied matter of fact.
Eric knew he was going to have to talk to Donna alone soon. He hadn't wanted to come back so soon, under such dire circumstances and just add onto the misery that she was already feeling over Jackie. It was a shitty thing for him to do, as both an ex boyfriend and a friend, because there was no question in his mind that he was still head over heals in love with Donna and she was being fooled into believing that he had moved on. She deserved an explanation.
After Kelso had left for the night and Jasmine whispered in his ear that she was going to go upstairs to talk with his parents, Hyde, Donna and himself were alone until Donna announced that she was going to go home for the night and that she would see everyone at the hospital in the morning, Eric knew this was probably his only opportunity to talk to Donna.
"I'll walk you home." Eric told her as both of them stood up.
"I think I can manage walking six feet." Donna glared at him.
"They say that most accidents occur six feet away from the home." Eric quipped.
Donna sighed. "Fine," She turned to Hyde with her hand on the doorknob. "Hyde?"
Hyde looked up at her. "Yeah?"
"I'm really sorry for what I said before."
Hyde stared at Donna for a moment. "We'll talk in the morning."
Donna nodded her agreement. The three of them knew that Hyde was accepting her gesture of peace.
Eric and Donna walked out of the basement and up the stairs and towards her house.
"It's a nice night." Donna stated.
Eric wasn't paying attention to the sky up above. He only had eyes for the red head next to him.
"What are you thinking?" Eric asked.
Donna blinked back her tears. "That I wish Jackie were here."
Eric nodded. "I bet."
Donna looked over at Eric. "You're going to talk to him right?"
Eric sighed. "To Hyde, yeah, he's next on the list."
He heard Donna laugh, but knew she didn't mean it. "Donna, I'm so sorry." Eric said. "For Jackie, for Hyde, for making you find out about Jasmine this way, I just want you know that when I broke up with you it wasn't because of her, I didn't even know her when that happened, I just, we were drifting apart, even before I left, you said it yourself remember?" It was a lie, a terrible, awful lie that he knew he would be punishing himself over for years to come.
"I remember." Donna replied curtly. "It doesn't make it hurt less though."
Eric nodded. "I know."
Donna stood up from the table after she finished her beer. "Go talk to Hyde."
Eric stood up and walked to the door and opened it before turning around to Donna who was standing in the doorway from the kitchen to the living room.
"She's going to be okay." Eric said, sounding positive. "She's the toughest of all of us, if anyone can make it, it's her."
Donna didn't reply, nor did she need to.
"I see you're listening to country music again." Hyde looked up to see Eric had returned.
"Hey, Forman." Hyde said. "How did it go with Donna?"
Eric sat down next to Hyde. "It went."
"What's your secret man? How do you get all the hot chicks?"
Eric laughed. "Not all of them."
"True enough." Hyde responded. "There's definitely one that you could never get."
"Speaking of Jackie, you wanna talk about it?"
Hyde looked at Eric. "Is this one of those times when you ask me if I want to talk about something like I have a choice but you drag it out of me anyway?"
"Possibly." Eric smiled.
Hyde sighed to himself and then shrugged his shoulders. "After you left for Africa, I decided to go see Jackie in Chicago."
An hour later, Hyde had given Eric the abridged version of events that had transpired after his departure from Point Place. Part of Hyde felt better, as though he had unleashed a terrible burden that he had been carrying for years, but the other part knew that the only way his burden would truly be uplifted was if he were granted a reprieve.
Which brought him back to the question, how do you gain forgiveness from someone unable to forgive?
"Hey, I got a question for you." Hyde said after a moment. "If you had been here when Sam had shown up, what would you have done?"
Eric thought about it for a minute. "I don't it matters what I would have done, the question is, do you think you did the right thing?"
"Staying with Sam?" Hyde clarified.
Hyde shrugged. "I thought I did, but now, you know I've barely even thought about Sam since she left for Cincinnati? Hell, I haven't even thought about her at all since…"
"Since the love of your life drowned because of your drunken negligence." Eric finished for him.
Eric smiled as they listened to the song in the background. "I think it's time you do what Johnny says and walk the line." With that he patted Hyde on the back and walked upstairs, leaving Hyde alone with Johnny, George and Hank. He wasn't sure if he had done his job, but at least Hyde had made the first step.
Eric and Jasmine sat in a forest somewhere in Wisconsin, staring at the fire Jasmine had made with a wave of her hand. He had told everyone that they were going to Kenosha, but the reality was Jasmine had insisted the night before that they needed to go somewhere secluded.
"Shouldn't I be here?" He asked. "It's going to look bad when I tell them that I can't be there for my friends because I want to show my fiancé the city. They're going to think I'm a dillhole."
Jasmine walked over to Eric and took his chin into her hand, forcing him to look into her eyes. "You have done all you can."
"I haven't done anything! And what about Jackie huh? You saw her right?"
"I saw." Jasmine replied. "But what happens to Jackie now is up to her."
Eric turned away and stared out of the hotel window. "Where is she?"
Jasmine sat on the bed behind Eric. "In the place of in between."
"Purgatory." Eric supplied. "You know I tried reading Dante once, but I couldn't get through it."
"You should try again." Jasmine suggested. "I found it to be very helpful."
Something about that made Eric laugh. "So where are we going?"
Jasmine stood up and took Eric's hand. "You'll see."
Eric threw a twig into the fire. "I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be doing."
"You're supposed to be sitting." Jasmine answered. "And not talking."
"I can't help it." Eric whined. "I'm tired, I'm cold, I'm worried."
"What are you worried about?"
Eric stared at Jasmine. "You really need me to answer that?" he asked incredulously.
She shrugged. "Worrying will get you nowhere. Besides it's no use worrying about what is when you should be worrying about what's to be."
"That's exactly what I'm worried about. What's going to happen?"
"And the sky turned black as fire rained down from the heavens and the earth began to quake. Mountains crumbled, rivers flooded and there was no escape." Jasmine answered. "In short, complete and total chaos."
"Really?" Eric knew right then that he was way in over his head.
"Well, no. At least not for you and your friends, but if you don't succeed, then it will."
Nothing Jasmine said made Eric feel better. He sighed heavily as Jasmine's words seeped into his soul. Never mind that he didn't know what it was he was supposed to do, but what if he wasn't able to do it? He could practically see the destruction that would follow.
"I think you might have chosen the wrong guy." He said, almost pleadingly.
Jasmine seemed to see right through him. "You don't know how valuable you are, do you?"
Eric looked up, confused by Jasmine's question. "What?"
"You are…you are glue."
She nodded. "Yes, glue. You held your friends together. Without you, they fell apart."
"So what?" Eric said, upset. "And if I go back everyone will be magically mended again. I thought you said I couldn't stay."
"I keep telling you, now is not important."
Eric jumped up, infuriated. "Yes, yes it is! I don't know if you noticed this or not, but one of my friends is in a coma, my best friend and my ex girlfriend are practically comatose with guilt, and you're telling me that it doesn't matter? It's like you already know how this is going to end. So what, Jackie will wake up and that will be it? She'll forgive Hyde and…" Eric stopped mid sentence and faced Jasmine. "I'll be back."
"Where are you going?" She asked.
"To find something." It was all h could tell her as he turned to venture deeper into the woods.
The truth was he wasn't entirely sure what he was looking for. It was though an invisible force was pushing him further and further into the darkness, but the moment he saw the lone tombstone he knew that he had found what he was looking for.
"Alright, Forman; time to be a man and dig yourself up a grave." He said to himself as he walked closer to the grave.
"You need a shovel?" Jasmine asked from behind him.
"You followed me?" Eric asked angrily.
"I got worried about you when you didn't return after an hour." Jasmine explained. Eric hadn't realized he had been gone for that long. Suddenly his anger shifted into gratitude.
"Yeah, I could use a shovel." Eric admitted. Jasmine handed him the tool and took the torch from his hand.
"I'll hold this, you dig."
Eric nodded and began digging. "We're never telling anyone about this, got it?"
"Tell them what?" Jasmine asked nicely. "That I brought you to the middle of no where Wisconsin so that you could dig up a grave of one of my brethren?"
Eric stopped mid dig and turned to Jasmine. "You mean an Angel is buried here?"
"Fallen, if you want to be technical." Jasmine replied flippantly. "But don't worry; he's nothing more than bone now."
"Yeah, well, I saw that movie, and if something happens and he comes back…"
"He won't." Jasmine promised. "Now start digging. It's almost morning."
Eric finally touched the casket as the sun came up.
"Hurry." Jasmine ordered.
Eric threw the shovel to the side and jumped into the hole. "Why, are you worried we're going to get caught?"
"No." Jasmine answered. "I'm hungry and want one of those egg mcmuffin things you keep telling me about."
Eric laughed. "Come help me open this and then I'll buy you all the egg mcmuffins you want."
They opened the casket and stared down at the remains of the fallen angel. To Eric's surprise, it was much smaller than he had expected.
"I expected him to be taller." Eric admitted.
"Well, he was only seven." Jasmine shrugged as she knelt down. "Help me move him."
"He was just a kid?" Eric asked in shock.
"If it helps, he was a very bad kid." Jasmine said tiredly. "Now I'm going to move demon boy here and you're going to get what you came here for."
Eric nodded, knowing that Jasmine was right. Whatever questions he had about the young fallen angel could wait. He knelt down as Jasmine lifted the skeleton to reveal a small hand mirror.
"I came here for a mirror?" Eric asked, slightly dismayed. He had been expecting something cool like a sword or a gun or even an ancient scroll that explained what the hell was going on, but no, it was a stupid mirror. He picked it up and looked at it, trying to figure out why he had come all this way for it.
Jasmine dropped the skeleton and both of them ignored the sound of cracking bones. "That mirror is very special."
"I bet." Eric replied. "You never know when you might need to look at yourself."
Jasmine chuckled. "Move your fingers."
Eric looked up and saw that Jasmine was about to close the lid. He quickly moved out of the way and the lid slammed shut. They climbed out of the grave, mirror in tow. He sat the mirror carefully on the ground. Even though he wasn't sure what its importance was, he knew he needed to be careful with it. The two of them worked together to fill the grave back up. By the time they were done, both of their stomachs were grumbling.
"Come on." Jasmine said, taking Eric's hand. "Let's go get breakfast "
Eric paid for their breakfast and they took their trays to a secluded corner of the local McDonalds.
"I can't believe you ordered seven." Eric shook his head as Jasmine began to devour her breakfast.
"You're one to talk." Jasmine said with her mouth slightly full. She swallowed and wiped her mouth with her hand. "You ordered just as many, and you got those potato things. What are those?"
"Hashbrowns." Eric explained. "Want one?"
Jasmine nodded and took a hashbrown of Eric's tray. She took a bite of the fried potato and smiled. "Oh that's good."
"I told you." Eric replied. "Just wait till you have a Big Mac."
"That's the burger right?" Jasmine asked. "When are you going to take me to the Hub for one of those chili dogs you keep yapping about?"
"I do not yap." Eric argued.
"Oh please." Jasmine laughed. "You practically drool every time the subject comes up."
Eric shrugged. "So you promised me you'd tell me about the mirror." The object was currently wrapped up in Eric's sweat shirt in his duffle bag, locked safely in the Vista Cruiser.
Jasmine sat her third sandwich down and took a sip of her orange juice. "There's heaven, hell and the place in between."
"Right." Eric nodded in understanding. "That's where Jackie is."
"Exactly." Jasmine nodded. "My people would call it purgatory, but it goes by many different names. Those who are near death go there to decide their fate."
"I would have thought God would be the one to decide that."
"No." Jasmine answered. "God wants everyone to have free will, even Angels."
"This is why some of them disagreed with him, and separated themselves from his love." Eric assumed.
"Which is what hell is." Jasmine finished Eric's train of thought. "When a person goes to the place in between, they have to go through a number of trials and given the situation, are usually forced to face what brought them there in the first place. In the case of your friend, she will have to face all the hurt that your other friends put her through. It is not an easy journey and sometimes people don't get through it, but if they do, they are given the chance to forgive."
"So she has to decide if she forgives Hyde?" Eric asked. "So if she does, she'll wake up?" He asked hopefully.
"No, she will then be given the choice as to whether she wants to live or stay where she is."
"You mean die?"
"No, she would alive so long as her body was."
Eric choked on his breakfast. "You mean as long she would be in a coma forever?"
"Yes." Jasmine answered as she handed Eric his orange juice.
"So tell me about this place." Eric requested.
"It is the place…you want to know what it looks like." Jasmine guessed.
"Don't you know?"
Jasmine shook her head. "No." She said honestly. "Because it changes, people change it. If you were to go, you would be somewhere that meant something to you, but it wouldn't be the same for anyone else. I'm told it's usually not what people expect though."
"Let me guess, half of the journey is figuring out why the place is important."
"Yeah." Jasmine replied.
Eric could only hope that Jackie was somewhere she could understand the importance of, and that she was strong enough to deal with what was in store for her. The thought of his future self being there brought only a small amount of comfort. Both Jasmine and Umi had explained his role as guide, but that was all he was. In the end, it would be up to Jackie to decide her fate.
Which brought him to the question, what if she chose to stay?
"Tell me about the mirror." Eric said after taking his last bite.
"You know, I like these." Jasmine said. "Although I don't think eggs should be square."
"You get used to it." Eric retorted. "Now tell me about the mirror."
Jasmine sighed. "Fine." She stood up. "I want a coke."
Eric sighed and handed Jasmine some money out of his wallet. "Get me one too."
Jasmine nodded and walked away from the table. Eric could sense that Jasmine was stalling, but if a minute or two was what she needed to collect her thoughts, then that's what he would give her.
Five minutes later, she hadn't returned. Thinking she had gone to the restroom, he closed his eyes and continued to wait.
Ten minutes later, he was asking a woman with a small kid if there was anyone in the restroom. The woman shook her head and Eric ran outside. He looked around and quickly found her standing at the edge of the sidewalk.
"You're going to get run over." Eric yelled at the angel.
Jasmine turned around. "I saw him."
Eric ran up to the woman. "You saw who?"
"Him." Jasmine's voice was laced in fear. "He was walking this way. He is here, Eric."
"Who?" Eric asked, confused.
"The last of the fallen." Jasmine whispered. "I could feel it deep in my core, it was him."
"You think he's looking for the mirror?" Eric asked worriedly. "Well, I say we get as far away from him as possible. Let's go." He pulled Jasmine away from the street towards his car.
"I'm assuming that I need to be scared of this guy?" Eric asked as the moment they were on the highway back to Point Place.
"He is the only being who has ever terrified me." Jasmine admitted. "He will stop at nothing until he gets what he wants."
"What does he want?" Eric was almost afraid to ask.
Eric almost laughed but caught himself. "He wants a what?"
"A bride." Jasmine repeated herself. "With a bride, he'll be able to father a child, again."
"You mean that angel back there was that guy's kid?" Eric asked. Jasmine only nodded.
"Right." Eric said to himself. "The guy wants a family, because the family that destroys the world together stays together."
"He will realize that his son's grave has been disturbed, and he will want retribution."
"You mean I have a millennium old demon after me now?" Eric asked, nervously. "Because of a mirror, which by the by, you still haven't told me what it's for!"
"I don't know!" Jasmine yelled, causing Eric to swerve in the road.
"What do you mean, you don't know?" Eric yelled back. "I thought you knew!"
"No." Jasmine admitted. "All I knew was that I needed to bring you there and that something was inside the grave, but I didn't know what. I'm as confused about that thing as you are."
"Great." Eric huffed.
Jasmine leaned back. "I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it." Eric replied. "But I don't think it's safe for you here."
Jasmine looked at Eric sharply. "What about you?"
"I'll be okay." Eric said. "I doubt that guy, what's his name by the way?"
"He goes by Warrick."
Eric nodded. "Figures, anyway, I doubt Warrick knows to look for me, so I'll be okay and I can come back to Africa and then we'll double up on my training."
"What about the mirror?"
"I'll keep it safe." Eric promised the angel.
"That mirror might be the only defense against him and his army." Jasmine informed Eric.
"I figured as much." Eric said as they reached the Point Place hospital. "We're going to go in there and act like nothing is wrong, got it?"
"Understood." Jasmine saluted Eric and then placed a kiss on his cheek before getting out of the car.
Eric smiled and then picked up the duffle bag. It would never leave his sight again.
"So you weren't really married?" Hyde had filled him in on what he had missed.
"So not only do I miss the wedding and the marriage but I missed the break up as well? That sucks." Eric pouted.
"You also missed Donna kicking Sam's ass." Fez told him.
"Man, I miss everything." Eric whined. If they only knew.
Hyde and Eric sat in the hospital cafeteria drinking their cokes in silence. Eric was doing his best not to upset Hyde. He didn't want him going off like he had before.
Finally, Hyde spoke. "Have you ever had one of those moments where you don't feel like yourself?"
Eric nodded, "Once or twice, yeah."
"Well, that's the way I've felt all year. I just keep saying and doing these things that I'm pretty sure I'd never do."
"So you're like possessed?" Eric asked, slightly confused by Hyde's meaning.
Hyde gave Eric a glance, "No man, it's more of the opposite."
There was more silence as both contemplated Hyde's words.
"Do you love her?" Hyde asked, referring to Jasmine.
Eric was taken aback. "Of course I do. I mean, it's different than what I had with Donna sure, which takes some getting used to." He lied through his teeth.
"So, you're not sure." Hyde said.
"No, I'm sure. Why wouldn't I be sure?" He was anything but sure. He loved Jasmine as a friend, as a teacher, but not in the way a man should love a woman, not in the way he loved Donna.
Hyde just shrugged and stood up. "I'm going back up stairs, you coming with?"
"Yeah, I just… I think I'm gonna go to the chapel for a minute." Eric said as he followed Hyde out of the cafeteria.
Hyde nodded and shrugged. "I think Bob's there, so you'll have someone to sit with."
The chapel was empty as Eric entered it. He sat in the front pew and looked up at the cross.
"Well, you know by now why I'm here, so I'm not going to bother with introducing myself, or explaining why I'm here, I just have one question. Why me? Why us? Alright, so that's two questions, but it doesn't matter. I can feel it, what's to come, and I can honestly say I'm scared shitless and I want nothing more than to crawl into my bed and suckle my thumb while my mommy tells me everything will be alright, but it's past that time. I've got to go learn how to be a man." Eric stood up from the pew and looked into the flame of one of the two candles on the altar. Inside it he saw his past, his present and future all at once. He walked up to the flame and closed his hand around it.
Eric opened his palm and breathed a sigh of both relief and shock when he saw that he wasn't burned. What did this mean? Was he already changing? Had Jasmine or Umi put a spell of protection around him? He would have to ask them when he returned.
After Jackie's battle with the grim reaper and seeing Jasmine off and a little bit of teasing from his friends, Eric wanted nothing more than to spend some time with the woman who held his heart.
"Wanna go for a walk?" He asked, standing up from his chair after Donna returned from the restroom.
"Uh, sure." Donna said with only a slight hint of hesitation.
"Jasmine took the earlier flight back." Eric informed her as they walked through the park across the street from the hospital.
"Oh." She replied.
"She has our luggage too, so that I could stay here as long as I need to, without having to worry about… all that." He gestured lamely. "Except for my trusty bag."
Donna nodded at Eric and continued to walk. She looked up at the dark clouds heading their way and sighed to herself.
"How much time do you have?" She suddenly asked Eric.
"That depends, are you willing to drive me to the airport?" He smiled.
Donna hugged herself and nodded, "Yeah."
Donna led Eric through the woods to the place they found Jackie. She wasn't sure what was drawing her back to that spot, but something inside her needed to be there.
"Is this it?" He asked. The rain had washed away all traces that Jackie had been there.
"I just remember running… screaming her name…I don't think I've screamed so much in my life." Eric put his arms go around her, pulling her in as she cried.
"Jackie's strong." Eric reminded Donna and himself.
Donna sniffed and pulled back. "We should go."
His flight number was being called and Eric wanted nothing more than to stay, but he had a job that he needed to do, for her. He only hoped that someday he would be able to make her understand.
"So…" Eric agreed.
"I guess you should go." Donna gestured.
Eric nodded, "Yeah."
Donna took a step forward, "I'm really going to miss you Eric."
Eric took a step towards Donna. "I'm gonna miss you too."
Donna leaned up and kissed Eric gently on his lips.
"Take care of yourself and Jasmine."
"I will, and you… there's more to you than Point Place, don't forget that." He knew she didn't understand what he was really telling her. Get far away from this place, from that man, as you can. Donna was smart though, she'd know what to do.
Donna laughed, "I won't." She pushed him playfully, "Now go."
"Fine!" He exclaimed, holding up his hands. "I'm gone."
Eric watched Point Place disappear into the distance. The moment it was nothing more than a tiny speck, he turned back in his seat and opened his book.
"Okay Atlas, show me what you've got."
I'm a quarter of the way finished with the next chapter in which Eric returns, and the one after that, which is Donna centric. There will be plenty of JH in the next couple chapters, don't worry!