I had such a difficult time with this chapter because I had it written once and hated it! So when I went back to rewrite and I got so lost…
But I am proud to say – here it is at last! This is the end and I am very happy I didn't take forever with making sure this story saw an end! Yaay me :D
I am even prouder to have the support and friendship of Hyde's Bride, who has kept me going with my writing and who has frankly been fun to talk to. It's finally here and thanks to you, Ashley!
BTW, it's been a few years since I've been down to the border so excuse any inaccuracies in my description!
Steven Hyde never could have imagined that life would ever turn out quite like this.
Hell, he didn't even know if he would have ever wanted to imagine it.
It was that crazy.
But it did and he had absolutely no say in how it all went down.
"How are we getting there?" Jackie asked her voice even higher than normal, as the trio drove further and further into the hot, sticky Texas night.
"Not the border?" Hyde piped in before Mrs. Lopez could answer.
The old woman shook her head and glanced briefly in the rearview mirror, "Oh, no. Too dangerous. I have another way."
Jackie looked nervous but her trust in the old woman did not falter. If anything her worry was more for her boyfriend who, though putting on a good front for her sake, was still grievously injured and for the tiny, fragile life of the child she carried in her womb.
The lighted booths and small, low slung buildings of the border shone out of the darkness. Stark white and blue light illuminated the figures of the U.S. and Mexican Border agents as they checked and rechecked visas and the insides of vehicles, trunks, and bags.
Mrs. Lopez appeared to be heading straight for them but barely 100 yards from the border that marked where the U.S. and Mexico separated she turned to the wheel of the large, white vehicle to the right and followed a small, dusty road that neither Jackie or Hyde would have noticed.
They followed the dirt road until the border buildings were nothing but a speck of light far behind them and the border's fence line became more gnarled and rusted.
"Who's that?" Jackie suddenly asked long after the lights of El Paso disappeared and they drove through the moonlit desert at a moderate speed. She was pointing out the back window.
Hyde looked around and he saw that they were being followed. At a distance perhaps but they were definitely being followed by another car. Dust was billowing up behind them and its headlights were off but the gleam that occasionally caught in the light of the moon showed that the car was steadily drawing closer.
"Never mind him," Mrs. Lopez said softly and soothingly, "He's been following us since we left."
"What?!" Hyde and Jackie said together, anxiety evident in both their voices.
"Detective Billy Mack," Mrs. Lopez said with a nod, "He's looking for you two."
"What?!" they said again.
But Mrs. Lopez said nothing more. Instead she turned the wheel of the car, pointing them directly at the degraded area of fence that separated Texas from the Mexican border, and parked the car.
Jackie began to panic, scrabbling her sharp nails over Hyde's arm as she literally pulled herself into his lap.
"Ow! Jackie, dammit! Calm down," he said as she clawed at him, blocking his view of their surroundings.
"Don't you tell me to calm down!" she shrieked and then she turned to face Mrs. Lopez, "Why are we stopping, Mrs. Lopez? I don't understand! I thought you were going to help us?" Her trust was being squeezed back by the fear that she may have been incorrect in her judgment of the older woman.
"Sweetie, of course I am going to help you," she replied, laying a reassuring hand on Jackie's arm and looking only slightly offended at Jackie's suspicion, "Please, you… you have to trust me. I know what I am doing."
Mrs. Lopez's eyes were open and honest and pleaded with them for trust and understanding.
Jackie relaxed slightly, she was pale and rubbing a hand over her belly. Her other arm was hooked around Hyde's neck and she was pressing herself so close to him it was as if she was trying to occupy his space.
"Blue…" he gasped, "My leg…"
"Oh! I'm sorry, baby," Jackie shifted, "But you can't expect me to be thinking about your bum leg right now!" she added crossly.
Hyde groaned and rolled his eyes.
"I need you two to get out and stay down behind the car," Mrs. Lopez said as she opened her door.
"Where are you going?" Jackie asked with a squeak, "He's getting closer!"
Abigail Lopez nodded with a serene smile, "Yes, I know. Now, please, get out and stay out of sight."
"Come on, Jackie," Hyde said, opening the passenger side door with a creak.
His uneasy feeling had increased ten fold but his mind was already whirring away that if anything he and Jackie could make a run for it now and hopefully lose anyone following them in the darkness, deep canyons, and the scrubby brush that grew thickly on the other side of the rusted fence.
Hyde pulled on Jackie's hand as they obeyed the old woman and crouched low near the front tire of the vehicle. Jackie was clinging tightly to his arm and his grip on the metal briefcase was ironclad. He chanced a peek over the side of the vehicle just as the dark vehicle that had been following them deeper into the desert had pulled up to Mrs. Lopez, who was standing by her open door facing the approaching vehicle.
It squeaked to a stop and the door opened, Hyde ducked his head back down before the man who exited could see him. He and Jackie both held their breath as they listened.
"I know they're with you, Abigail!" a man's voice shouted.
"Detective Mack, did you follow me all the way out here to be so vague? Or are you going to explain just exactly what you are talking about?" the old woman snarked and Hyde had to bite his lip to keep the snicker from escaping. Jackie tightened her grip on him in response to the slight shift in Hyde's posture. He turned his eyes on her own wide and frightened eyes, she was clutching Taffy, and digging her nails into his arm. It was the least of his pain at the moment but it helped distract from how badly his leg hurt in their cramped position, the painkillers Mrs. Lopez had provided him with earlier where wearing off.
"Come on out now, Jackie Burkhart and Steven Hyde!" Detective Mack was yelling, "I know you are in there! If you come out now, I promise nothing bad will happen to ya!"
They stayed put and heard the tinkling laughter of Mrs. Lopez.
"Is that what you told Carlos before you shot him?"
"He trusted you, Bill, and you betrayed him! For what? Getting to be the little rat that lives in the mayor's pocket? The money? Tell me what it was!"
Detective Mack hesitated, "The mayor- he is very persuasive, Abigail. He owns this town and everyone in it! He knows everything about everyone and he'll use anything he can against you. I had to do it."
"No, you didn't. You could have said 'no'."
A dry, bitter laugh, "And if I did, he would have just found someone else for the job and had me killed to boot. Jack Burkhart is not a stupid man, Abigail, you don't say 'no' to him and live."
"Yes, I know," she said softly.
"What are you protecting them for anyhow? Jack Burkhart just wants his girl back."
The old woman scoffed, "Please, Jack Burkhart cares for no one but himself. And what do I know about those kids anyway? I already told you I haven't seen them."
"Move out of the way now, Abigail. and no one gets hurt."
Jackie and Hyde both stared at each other in the darkness their eyes wide and understanding creeping in. And then they heard it.
The tiny but unmistakable click of a gun hammer being pulled back.
Jackie's nails deepen in the skin of Hyde's arm and he had been just about to pull her up and make a run into the darkness.
But another voice joined in at that moment making Hyde pause.
"Drop the gun, Mack."
This new development caused Hyde to chance another peek over the edge, though Jackie had tried to pull him back down.
A younger man, maybe in his early thirties, stood off to the right of Mrs. Lopez and Detective Mack. He wore a flack vest that had bold white letters printed across it: FBI. His gun was pulled and trained on Detective Mack who stood in the light of his car's headlights, his own gun pulled and pointed at Mrs. Lopez. The tiny old woman stood where she had started, looking unsurprised and not at all frightened to have a gun pointed at her.
Detective Mack froze, his eyes darting between the FBI agent and Mrs. Lopez, understanding dawned on his features. At this point, Jackie became curious enough to peek her head over the car next to Hyde's head.
"I said drop it, Mack. I wouldn't consider trying if I were you," the younger man warned.
The detective let out a small scoff, "Well played, Abigail."
She nodded, "I thought so."
Taking one last look at the gun trained on him, Detective Mack dropped his gun several feet in front of him and put his hands up.
The FBI agent moved quickly, kicking the gun even further away, and holstering his weapon so that he could place Detective Mack in hand cuffs.
With his face pressed against the hood of the car, Detective Mack spoke, "Burkhart will never give anything up. Even the FBI can't nail him."
The FBI agent smirked at Mrs. Lopez as she approached them, "Oh, I wouldn't say that."
He pointed to the ear piece and wire that disappeared under his collar and pulled a small tape recorder out of his pants pocket.
"My partner and I have been tailing you the past two days. She's parked a mile away and she heard everything… and this little baby?" he gestured to the black cassette recorder, "Just captured every word you said."
Detective Mack cursed loudly.
"If you're looking to cut a deal, I'd say you're chances look slim," the FBI agent said.
After Detective Mack was securely cuffed, the FBI agent spoke to his partner through their electronic link and proceeded to put the detective into the backseat of his own car, Mrs. Lopez approached the place where Hyde and Jackie were crouched down, both in utter disbelief at the turn of events.
They were both covered in dust and sitting with their backs to the tire. They looked up at Mrs. Lopez as she came around their side of the car.
She smiled widely at them, "It's over."
Both nodded mutely.
She held out the keys to the vehicle and Hyde was the first to get to his feet, though rather stiffly, and pulled Jackie up with him. Mrs. Lopez dropped the keys into Hyde's hand.
The FBI agent approached them, taking out his ear piece as he walked, Hyde and Jackie both looked apprehensive.
"I have back up on the way," he told Mrs. Lopez.
Jackie found her voice, "Are you with the FBI?" She directed her question at Mrs. Lopez.
"Me? Goodness, no, girl. This is William, my son," Mrs. Lopez put an arm around the young man's waist and gave him a squeeze.
Jackie's mouth went into an "o" of surprise and Hyde's eyebrows shot up.
"Yeah, we've been investigating Jack Burkhart for several years now, I understand he's your old man?" William asked Jackie.
Jackie nodded weakly.
"Tough break, kid. But with what we got on him tonight and Mack's testimony, we'll have more than enough to put him away for a very, very long time," he said.
"And us?" Hyde piped up.
"You?" William said, confused.
"Yeah… I, uh, I assume your mom told you about us… what we did…" he trailed off and Jackie looked fearful again.
William's eyes wandered down to the heavy metal briefcase Hyde still clutched, "Right… well, hey - I didn't see ya."
"The detective, he saw us," Hyde said.
"No, he didn't," Mrs. Lopez said, "He never actually saw you with me, it was very dark, he saw two people in my car. Friends of mine, sold them my car," she smiled, "And right now, William has him face down in the back of his own car."
Relief washed over the both of them and Mrs. Lopez smiled encouragingly at them.
Jackie looked like she was near tears again as she threw herself at both Mrs. Lopez and her son and hugged them tightly. They both "oofed" and shared a laugh with the tiny brunette.
"You know, I think my dad would have like you. You look a lot like my mom did when she was you're age and from what I hear act like her too, kind bratty? Bossy?" William smiled at his mom as she rolled her eyes and laughed. "Ya'll better get going." William advised, "I'd use the car as far as it takes you and then ditch it. Probably be a good idea to get as far south as you can as fast as you can. I don't expect Burkhart to retaliate but," he shrugged, "better safe than sorry."
Jackie was still clinging to Mrs. Lopez.
"I don't know how I can ever thank you," she said softly to the old woman who had been so kind to her in her most desperate moment.
Mrs. Lopez smiled and shook her head, "No thanks necessary, sweetie. Without knowing you were doing it you helped catch my husband's killer and for that I will always be grateful."
Jackie dissolved into tears and hugged Mrs. Lopez tightly. Soon, Hyde had to pull her off.
"We gotta get going, Blue."
William nodded to them, "Other agents will be here soon and I can't promise they won't remember seeing you."
Jackie had a thought, "What about the money? My dad, he'll tell about us robbing him."
William shook his head, "With all the trouble he's in, I doubt he'll admit to being robbed of cash he was stashing in his house, likely, money he wasn't supposed to have. No, I think you'll be okay… now, seriously, you two better go."
Hyde stepped forward and shook William's hand and allowed Mrs. Lopez to place a kiss on his cheek.
"Your wound should heal fine as long as you make sure to change the bandages and don't get it wet," she advised.
"More sponge baths of me," he said with a smirk and Jackie scoffed and smacked his arm.
Mrs. Lopez shook her head with a laugh, "You two take care and kiss that baby for me when he or she is born."
Jackie nodded through her tears and hugged Mrs. Lopez, her angel, one last time before Hyde led her to the car.
Hyde started the vehicle and drove it through the largest part of the fence that was missing. Jackie hung out the window waving at Mrs. Lopez and William, who waved back. Hyde found a dirt road that William had mentioned as Jackie was saying goodbye to Mrs. Lopez. It would skirt around to the very southern edge of Juarez and from there they would meet up with public roads that could go any number of ways.
Jackie continued to wave and watch as the pair faded into the darkness. When she could no longer see them even by squinting she sat back down fully, right next to Hyde, and laid back against the seat, letting out a long sigh of relief.
"You okay, Blue?" Hyde asked, glancing over at her.
"I can't believe… it's so…" she couldn't form a coherent thought, emotional exhaustion and the drop in her adrenaline level had wiped Jackie out and all she wanted now was to sleep and not think for several days.
Hyde nodded and gestured out to the dark Mexican desert in front of them, "Where are we going?"
Jackie had closed her eyes but cracked them open a bit, "Beach."
"Beach? Any particular one?"
"That's right; raise our kids in a house by the water."
Jackie smiled and nodded, "Yep."
"Get some rest, Blue. I'll keep going until we run out of gas, our adventure isn't quite over."
Jackie nodded, "An adventure, it certainly has been."
Hyde smiled as Jackie drifted to sleep, her hand on her belly and slight smile on her face.
What started out as a crazy, half-cocked idea had become the smartest thing Hyde had ever done. He definitely would not have expected for life to turn out the way it had for them and he certainly would not have planned it that way. Well, at least not out loud because it included all elements essential to Hyde: illegality, danger, and Jackie. His relief, though, was apparent and all his slightly crazy desires for danger seemed to be sated in him.
This part of their story was coming to a close but in reality he knew it was only a warm up to the challenges they still faced.
He reached over and put a hand over Jackie's as it rested over their baby.
This experience hadn't killed him so he was fairly sure that parenthood would. He hadn't time in all this craziness to consider what a child that was half him and half Jackie would be capable of.
He considered it now and laughed out loud.
Well, I hope you are ready for us, kiddo. We're ready for you now, he thought.
Being a dad didn't seem so scary with all of the things they had been through in the last couple of days. He leaned down and placed a kiss on Jackie's lips.
She pressed her lips back against his.
"I love you, Blue," he said.
She snuggled closer to him and smiled, her eyes still closed, "Love you, my Puddin' Pop."
The happiness that he felt at that moment stayed with him long after the sun rose.
Long after they ran out of gas and continued on foot to the first Mexican town they could reach before night fell.
Long after they hitched ride after ride to put more distance between the U.S. and themselves without stopping to take a break.
Long after they found a small motel and were properly rested, freshly showered and clothed, and made love in the peace and quiet of the sleepy town.
Long after he attempted to use his garbled Spanish and ending up finding a guide, later turned friend, who spoke perfect English.
Long after Jackie jumped up and down excitedly at the small, beautiful Costa Rican village their guide had led them to.
Long after they settled into a beautiful beach house facing the turquoise of the Caribbean, sitting on their front porch in the sultry night in the light of the flickering torches watching the stars twinkle down at them and listening to the soft whoosh of the waves.
Finally, the happiness of that moment was only rivaled by the happiness he felt when Jackie smiled up at him, sweaty and exhausted, a tiny person cradled in her arms, and he stared down into the face of his newborn son
Holy moley! I know I took forever to write this chapter but I kept hitting dead ends and blah blah blah. Anyway, I hope you all like it, please please review. I had planned on having an epilogue but I like the way it ended. So for now I'll see how you all like it!