A.N. Here it is, the final chapter at last! I want to send a shout out to my most loyal reviewers, Hyde's Bride, Sooki, Ultrawoman, Jaded Angel and sometimestheycallmejackie. The anticipation of reading your comments has made writing this story a true pleasure.
There comes an end to all things.
- Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
"I can't believe Donna and Fez didn't wait for you," Hyde muttered as he sped along the dark country road.
"Saw your car in the parking lot – knew you'd take me home," Jackie grunted around the pain.
"That's no excuse," Hyde said, casting a worried look at Jackie. The baby may have taken all day to get itself ready but now that it was coming, it was in a hurry. He cursed himself for letting his depression over Jackie's rejections cause him to relax his hovering vigilance over her. He should have been by her side back home, not playing putt putt 20 miles outside of Point Place. But then he never expected her to come looking for him.
"Why do you never do what I think you're going to do?" he asked irritably. "Girls like you should come with a manual. Yeah, that's what this world needs. Someone should put a warning sticker on you reading 'Danger – will take crazy notions into head and act in unpredictable ways'."
"Steven, you really want to pick a fight with me when I'm in labour with your child? Is that your brilliant plan? Because I swear I will tear you to pieces without breaking a nail!"
Perhaps it was the bickering that distracted Hyde, or the darkness that had settled along the unlit back road. Whatever the reason, the result was he missed the third right from the golf course that led back to town and took the fourth right instead. It was a good twenty minutes before he started getting that uneasy sinking feeling when you wonder if you took a wrong turn but there are no signposts or landmarks to tell you one way or the other.
"Now Jackie," he said cautiously, looking uneasily at the huffing and puffing brunette writhing next to him, "I don't want you to panic – "
"What?" she cried. "How can you start off a sentence like that and not expect me to panic? What's wrong?"
"There is a very small – miniscule – possibility that we could be… lost."
Hyde winced at Jackie's loud and abusive reaction to this update.
"Don't worry, I'm sure we're heading in the right direction. It just might take us a little longer than I planned. But hey, labour takes forever, right? Like, at least 8 hours – and you're so small, it'll probably take you at least twice that."
"Try right now," Jackie said in seething tones.
"What?" Hyde yelped.
"Yeah, so you'd better find me a 5 star hospital right now, buddy. Oh, and I'm not forgetting you just wished 16 hours of excruciating pain on me, either!"
"Jackie, you're exaggerating, right? It's not really coming…" the howl of pain from his girlfriend cut off his question, convincing him that she knew of what she spoke. Think, Hyde, he thought desperately. Jackie will never forgive you if she has to give birth in the flatbed of a Camino. Then his headlights picked up a winding driveway. At last, a link with civilization! He headed the car up to a rambling country farmhouse and helped Jackie up to the porch.
"Hey, let us in," he yelled as he hammered on the door. "It's an emergency! Pregnant woman about to burst out here!" But there was no movement in the house or sign of life within.
"Well, are you just going to stand there all night or are you going to jimmy the window open?" Jackie asked in exasperation. "You'd think being knocked up by a petty felon would have some benefits!"
"Petty? I don't think so," Hyde scoffed as he pulled a lock pick out of his pocket. Within 5 seconds that door was open. Hyde made a move to lift Jackie up with some vague notion of carrying her over the threshold but she slapped his hands away impatiently and made a beeline for the couch.
"Don't worry, Jacks. As soon as I find the phone I'll get an ambulance and a doctor and Mrs Forman out here before you know it," Hyde promised as he quickly paced through the rooms of the empty house, searching for the telephone. "Then we'll get that baby out of you and we'll have a beautiful daughter and you can go back to wearing those tight jeans we both miss so much… just as soon as I find… where the hell is the frickin' phone?"
"Don't tell me," Jackie moaned as another contraction tore through her.
"Unbelievable!" Hyde shouted. "How can anyone in this day and age not have a phone? You know what I'm going to do when we get out of here? I'm going to invent a phone that doesn't need cords or lines and is so small you can carry it in your pocket. Yeah, that's what I'll do! Then whenever there's an emergency you can always call for help. It will be totally mobile so you can take it anywhere – I'll call it the take-anywhere phone."
"Steven, will you back-burner your crazy science-fiction fantasies and come over here," Jackie ordered. Hyde immediately knelt down beside the couch Jackie was reclining on. He squeezed her hand reassuringly as he stroked the hair back from her forehead.
"Don't worry, Jackie," he said as he gazed into her frightened face. "I'm not going to let anything bad happen to you – I promise."
"I'm so scared, Steven," she whispered. "I'm sorry for being so bitchy."
"What? You? Bitchy? Get out of here." He kissed her lips softly. "No-one talks about my girl like that."
Jackie smiled shakily. "I can't wait to meet our baby. We are going to be such good parents, Steven."
"Yeah, I know."
"Well, between our crappy family histories we know exactly what not to do when it comes to child-rearing. The rest of it we can pick up from the Formans." As another contraction hit Jackie, Hyde remarked with some concern "It looks like our baby can't wait to meet you, either."
"What are we going to do?" Jackie asked, biting on her bottom lip nervously.
"Look, if it comes down to it I'll deliver the baby myself," Hyde said with what he hoped sounded like confidence.
"You?" Jackie squeaked.
"Sure. I read through all those childbirth chapters in your books – I know the protocol. Women were doing this before hospitals were invented. It's just a simple procedure, like changing a tire." Hyde rubbed his hands together. "Let me just go and sterilize a knife for the cord cutting and we'll be good to go."
"You really think you can do this?" Jackie asked.
"Of course," Hyde said breezily. Just then they heard the unmistakeable sound of someone coming down the stairs. Into the living room crept a middle aged couple in their night clothes, looking very much on the apprehensive side at the sight of their unexpected visitors. In the age-old fashion of farmers, they had gone early to bed in preparation for the early to rise part.
"What is going on here?" the man asked.
"Oh my," his wife exclaimed, "that girl is fit to give birth, Jonas."
"We're sorry, we didn't think anyone was home and my girlfriend is in labour and it looks like the baby is coming soon," Hyde explained in a rush. "I don't suppose either of you have a medical degree on you?" he finished, as though he was asking if either of them had change for a dollar.
"Don't you fret, young man. I've had plenty of experience helpin' along pregnant females," the farmers wife said competently.
"YES! Thank you, God," Hyde shouted in relief, punching a fist in the air. Jackie looked at him with knowing eyes. "I mean, that's cool, even though I could have done it myself if I had to."
"Yeah, right," Jackie replied. "As if I'd let you anywhere near my naughty places with a knife."
"You're in luck, little lady, Susannah just delivered a whole mess of piglets over at Cal West's farm the other day so she's all warmed up and ready to go," the farmer said as his wife made her way purposefully over to Jackie.
"Piglets?" Jackie squealed (much like a piglet). "My baby is not a porker! How would she ever overcome the shame of being delivered by a pig's midwife?"
"If it's any comfort, I've helped along my fair share of cows as well," Susannah said. This further reference did not reassure. Jackie looked imploringly at Hyde.
"Look, are there any doctors or nurses who deal with actual human babies anywhere around here?" Hyde asked desperately.
Jonas rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Well now, that young doctor from the hospital lives close by. I guess I could call him and ask him to lend a hand."
"Call him? You mean you do have a telephone?" Hyde asked hopefully.
"The kids have been after me to get one hooked up but I haven't got around to it yet," Jonas said in his unhurried drawl which was playing on the young couple's last nerve.
"Then how are you going to call him?" Jackie shouted. Jonas blinked, then walked over to the back window and pushed it open.
"HEY, DOC!" he yelled in a booming voice. "Pregnant girl in full whelp!" After a few seconds, they heard a distant reply "Be right there!" Jackie and Hyde looked at the farmer in amazement. "I told you he lived close by. Boards over at the McCallen's farm."
"Come on, honey," Susannah said as she helped Jackie to her feet. "Let's put you to bed." Hyde said nothing but picked Jackie up and carried her up the stairs to his host's spare bedroom. This time Jackie did not slap his hands away but rested her head against his shoulder, letting her mind skim over Gone With the Wind comparisons. Jackie was no sooner settled when Hyde heard a knocking on the front door.
"That must be the doctor," he said, giving Jackie's hand a reassuring squeeze. "It looks like something is finally going our way."
"Hurry back," Jackie replied, casting an uneasy glance at Susannah who seemed to be measuring Jackie with the eye of one whose services though previously rejected would not hold a grudge and was ready to renew the offer at any time.
Hyde ran down the stairs and reached for the door handle. "Oh man, I can't tell you how glad I am to see – you!"
Roger stepped through the door, trying to place the vaguely familiar man who was staring goggle-eyed at him. "I understand someone needs my help?" he prompted.
"Uh… yeah. Sure. It's my girlfriend," Hyde said as he lead the way. "She's in labour and it seems like the baby is in a big hurry to get out of there."
"Don't worry, giving birth is a completely natural experience," Roger soothed. "I've called for an ambulance just in case but I'm sure there won't be any surpri – Jackie?"
"Roger?" Jackie cried, raising herself up on her elbows to gawk at her former suitor.
"Small world, isn't it?" Hyde said sarcastically, taking a proprietary position on the bed next to Jackie.
"So… uh… I suppose we should pop the hood, so to speak, and see what's happening."
"Oh, you'd like that, wouldn't you?" Hyde growled. "What, you're not even going to buy her a sandwich first?" Jackie's howl of pain cut short his remarks and he made no further objection as the young doctor assessed Jackie's condition.
"You weren't exaggerating, this baby is really storming the barricades." Roger opened his medical bag and started pulling out instruments while issuing instructions to Jonas and Susannah regarding towels, sponges and ice chips.
"What do I do?" Hyde queried nervously.
"Your job is to keep Jackie calm and help her through this. It's too late to use drugs so I'm afraid she's in for a rough ride. Can you be there for her?"
Hyde held Jackie's eyes, sending her a silent promise. "Yes," he said firmly. Jackie smiled at the man she loved as tears filled her eyes. And during the next hour as her body went through the greatest ordeal of her young life, she drew on his strength and will. When she thought she couldn't push any more, he made her believe that she could. When the pain seemed unbearable, he distracted her from it with corny jokes. They worked together as one, finding in their crisis a bedrock of trust which, underneath the ultimatums and strippers and well-meaning lies, had always been there just waiting to be discovered.
"Okay, Jackie, we're almost there," Roger encouraged. "One more good push and we're done."
"That's what you said the last time," Jackie protested, close to weeping. "This is why it would never have worked out between us, Roger. Because you're a lying liar who lies!"
"But, Jackie – "
"I said, liar!"
"C'mon, Jacks, just one more," Hyde coaxed. "Where's that annoying cheerleader who never gives up until she gets what she wants?"
Apparently those were the magic words because before too long a baby's cry filled the little farmhouse bedroom. The sound seemed to bring new energy to Jackie and soon she was demanding to see her daughter. A look crossed Roger's face which gave Hyde an idea of what was coming next."
"Actually," Roger said hesitantly, eyeing one of the most terrifying labouring women he had ever attended, "now, don't get upset, but…"
Jackie narrowed her eyes at the hapless young doctor. "What did you do?" she asked ominously.
Hyde walked over to see for himself what the damage was. He grinned widely. "It's a boy, Jacks!"
"What! It can't be! That wasn't part of the plan! I'm only mentally prepared for a girl," Jackie wailed.
"You could always think of him as a girl but with a spare part," Roger suggested helpfully.
Jackie pouted, ready to lodge another protest, until Hyde carried their son to her and placed him in her arms. As she stared into his milky blue eyes, her expression softened and a smile slowly blossomed.
"Hey, you," she said softly. The baby gurgled, a response which so enchanted the young mother that she forgot she had ever wanted any other child than the utterly perfect one in her arms.
"I can't believe I missed being there for you when you gave birth," Donna complained as she cuddled the tiny little Hyde in her arms. The whole gang with Mr & Mrs Forman and WB were crowding out Jackie's hospital room, all jostling in line to get a glimpse of the newest member of their small community. Once it was safe to move Jackie, the ambulance Roger had called had shuttled the threesome to the hospital which had a more enlightened view on the subject of telephones than the farming couple so Hyde was finally able to get in touch with his unusual extended family.
"You were lucky," Jackie said. "If I could have, I would have missed it too."
"Oh, and by the way, Jackie," Kelso said, "On the subject of you having a boy – burn!"
"We should have expected it," Hyde said, full of smug male pride. "After all, they say the guy's sperm has the deciding vote on the sex. I guess I was just too much man for you, Jacks."
"Yeah, we'll see about that next time," Jackie replied as she swatted his arm. "You still owe me twin girls, you know."
"So what are you going to name the little guy?" Red asked as he took the baby from Donna. The little fellow was passing through the crowd like a pass the parcel but, much like his mother, he was thriving on all the attention.
"Ooh, you should name him Michael," Kelso volunteered.
"Why would they want to name the baby after you?"
"Uh - because I'm the first guy Jackie ever did it with, Eric?" Kelso said, rolling his eyes. "Don't you know anything about tradition? Ow! Hyde!"
"If we're talking namesakes, we should name him for the people who took us in when we were lost in the middle of nowhere," Hyde said. "He might not be here today if it weren't for them."
"Steven, it's a nice thought but, Jonas?" Jackie said. "I'm not naming my precious baby boy Jonas!"
"No, I meant their surname – Connor. I looked it up and it means strong-willed, which seems about right for a cross between you and me."
"Connor Hyde," Jackie mulled this over. "I like it. It's a good name both for a president or a rockstar." She reached up and pulled Hyde's head closer to hers for a kiss and he gladly returned the favour.
The rest of visiting hours flew by too quickly so that before they knew it, the newly minted mother and father were alone with their small son. Hyde sat behind Jackie's back as Connor nursed in her arms, fitting together like a set of Russian nesting dolls.
"So," he said as he watched his child set to work on dinner with admirable vigour, "are we there yet?"
"Are we where?"
"You know – the golf course – the castle – you said we weren't quite there yet."
"Did I say that?" Jackie asked with innocent eyes.
"You did," Hyde replied. "Dashing my hopes yet again."
"Ohh, poor Steven," Jackie cooed, stroking his face with her palm. "How you have suffered."
"Quit it, Jacks. If you don't put me out of my misery soon I'm not going to give you your present."
"Withholding a present from me?" Jackie cried. "That's extortion."
"A man does what he has to," Hyde responded, nipping lightly on her neck.
"Well, if a present is at stake, then yes, I think after all we have been through in the last 48 hours, we have now crossed the 'there yet' line." The love that lit her blue and green eyes belied the teasing note in her voice.
"Alright then," was Hyde's answer and he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small velvet box. Jackie gasped as a premonition hit her of what was to come. With a flip of his thumbnail the box opened to reveal the most beautiful engagement ring Jackie had ever seen."
"I know this is kind of a backwards way of doing things – having the baby first and then the marriage. But then from the beginning our love affair has always pulled things up from the wrong end." Jackie nodded, remembering that summer when what had begun as a physical pleasure to escape boredom had become something much deeper than either had been looking for. "But through all of the dramas and mistakes of this last year, one thing has become so obvious to me that I just wish I could of known it back when you first asked me if I saw a future with you, Jackie; I wish I'd had this feeling of absolute certainty then so we could have avoided all the heartache that came after. But maybe it doesn't work that way – maybe I never would have known what you mean to me until I lost you. And if that's the case then I don't regret what's happened because I know now that I'm never going to let you go again. I just – I couldn't survive it, Jackie."
"Me either," she agreed as happy tears spilled from her eyes.
"So, I guess what I'm saying is, if you say you'll – you know – marry me – then I swear I'm going to spend the rest of my life making that the smartest decision of your life. I'll work harder at making you happy than I've ever worked for anything, because your happiness is mine as well. Does this make sense?"
"Yes, Steven," Jackie answered. "Yes to everything – to learning from the past, to understanding what you mean, to marrying you. Yes, yes, yes!"
"Yes?" Hyde looked incredulous at her ready agreement so Jackie drove the point home by kissing him as enthusiastically as she could while holding an infant. When they finally pulled away from each other to catch their breath, she said, "I love you, Steven Jekyll Hyde – I love you for the knight in shining armour that I have always seen behind your sunglasses and sideburns. I love you for sticking with me even when I'm more trouble than I'm worth. I love you, body and soul, for good and bad until our time on this big old planet is up and then some." Hyde sighed, a sound of relief and an emotion that threatened to overturn his zen for good and all. He drew back from his fiancé, looked lovingly into her eyes and said those three special words.
"Good to know."
A.N. And there we have it - a fitting end for our favourite couple. I was intending to make their baby a girl, only because they had a boy in my last story, but then I imagined Jackie's reaction if she was expecting a girl and got a boy instead and I couldn't resist. I hope you all enjoyed reading this story as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I have a couple of new story ideas but I should really work on Crossover Crazy a bit more before I publish anything new. Thanks for reading and, as always, please review!