The Princess and the Angel.
Two years had passed. Two of the worst years of Eric Forman's life.
After the funeral, every memory was sketchy. The scars on his fingertips were the only way he believed what his friends and family told him was real.
He had started with acid pills from Leo; no one seemed to notice. That was until Hyde talked to Leo who spilled the beans and then forced Eric to confess. He had promised he'd stop the acid; but that wouldn't stop him from using. He quit buying from Leo and met a hard dealer at Charlies; small world that everyone lived in, the guy turned out to be one of Hyde's "uncles." The man gave him amphetamines and opiates- heroin and meth. Every day he would shoot up, every night he'd snort. For six months. Until someone placed a call to the Forman's house about possession of illegal drugs. He remembered being pinned tot he floor by Kelso and Hyde, who handcuffed him and then raided every last corner of his room until they found the syringes and bags of powder.
Then his father disowned him until he got his act together. He broke his mother's heart when Kelso dragged him out of the door to the Madison rehab facility. The withdrawals were the worst; Eric was put in isolation and sometimes the nurses had to tie him to the bed while he fought off the torturous effects of the drugs. His body itched and ached, and the hunger was unbearable; no matter how much he ate, he was always hungry and it wasn't like the munchies.
Hyde had visited him after the first week in the rehab center. He remembered how loud Hyde had screamed at him for being so irresponsible and that he wasn't the one who was supposed to turn out like this. That Donna would be so upset with him as everyone else was. That day was the first time Eric had seen Hyde cry. He then apologized for not getting him help after the funeral and that they had been through too much for it to end like this.
Six more months passed. His friends took him to meetings, support groups, and tried their best to help him as much as he could. His mom had forced him to go to counseling, which turned out to not be as bad as he thought it would be. Doing that and proving to Red that he had truly changed helped him forgive his son for what he had done; although Eric was now trying to repair the broken relationship they had. Hyde had allowed him to work with him until he earned enough money to pay for an apartment on his own and start a new life teaching once more.
Without his friends, Eric realized he would be dead. He would have gone off without anyone knowing and somehow died. But they had been there for him, they had helped him more than anyone, and he was eternally grateful.
Jackie had introduced him to something he would never think about doing until now. They sat for hours filling out the paper work, and all of the meetings he had gone to, she had tagged along. Since the funeral and Hyde helping him (by allowing him to live with them) Jackie and Eric had developed a strong friendship, like brother and sister. Once the paperwork was finalized, Eric realized this was real life, that this was actually happening. Other than marrying Donna, he felt that this was the best decision he had ever made in his life.
"Where we going?" A tiny chipmunk voice asked chipperly in the backseat of Jackie and Hyde's car. Eric turned to look at the little girl with straight black hair and smiled sadly.
"You know the pictures at home?" Eric asked, and Jess nodded. "That's my wife, who was an amazing and wonderful woman," and the little girl gasped.
"Was she a princess?" Eric smiled and nodded.
"Yes Jess, she was a princess, she was my princess. Her name was Donna." He watched as Jess's brown eyes lit up in awe, and nodded vigorously for him to continue.
"But one day, the angels took her from me, she had to go to heaven," Jackie turned around now and smiled at Eric with tears in her eyes.
"Why?" Eric stared at his young adopted daughter and shook his head. He didn't even know the answer to that himself.
"That's easy," Hyde piped up as he stopped at the stoplight. Eric glanced up and caught Hyde's wink, "Princess Donna had to go rule all of the other princesses." Eric sighed with relief; he had to get used to the fact that Hyde was actually a good father. The years of his sarcastic comments and careless mannerisms had caused Eric to believe he'd never be a father, and if he would be, he'd be blunt and tell them the honest truth. But they all proved wrong when Jackie announced her pregnancy three months after Donna's death. Their two year old was now sleeping on the other side of Eric.
"Will I meet her?" Jess asked innocently, Eric hesitated before nodding his head.
"Of course, hon, just not for a long time." At that, his daughter's face fell and he ruffled her hair. She stuck her tongue out at him then giggled when he mocked tears.
"Daddy I didn't mean to!" She cried in between her fits of hysterics. Eric slowly peeked between his hands and then quickly planted a kiss on the little girl's forehead. Jess squealed and kissed Eric's cheek. "You never told me," She finally announced.
"What?" Eric asked, tilting his head in curiosity.
"I asked where we going?" Eric nodded and sighed heavily.
"Today was the day Princess Donna went to heaven, and we're going to go visit her."
"But you said she's in heaven!" Eric turned to the couple in the front seat who were just as quiet as him. Finally Jackie turned around.
"Jess, when you go to heaven, it's like you're a butterfly. You leave the body you're in but the one you have in heaven is so much more beautiful."
"So we're callerpillars?"
"Caterpillars, and no."
"Forman, lighten up; let her say 'callerpillar'. Hey Jessi, did your dad ever tell you about the time I made him eat a callerpillar?"
Twenty minutes later, Eric shut the car door and took a deep breath. He hadn't been here for awhile and this was his first time taking Jess. Nervous was an understatement. It was almost as if standing even in the cemetery, Donna was watching him, yelling at him, crying, and forgiving him for all that he did in the past two years. He had been a mess then and now... now he had a life to take care of, a reason to live.
Jess tugged on his shirt and he sighed softly. Bending down, he wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her in his arms. She giggled and nuzzled her head on his shoulder and he smiled.
"I hear your heart," she chirped, he smiled and nodded.
"That's good," Eric replied, gently tickling her sides. As she laughed, he walked slowly up to where Jackie and Hyde had met with his parents.
"There's my little girl!" Kitty cried with happiness as Eric finally caught up to the gathered group. Jess squealed and outstretched her arms to Kitty, who quickly scooped her up and planted kisses all over her face. Eric glanced at his father and smiled softly, and Red nodded back.
"Nana!" A sad cry was heard below and Eric saw the curly haired brunette that was clinging to Hyde's leg fall on the ground in a tantrum. Eric chuckled as his brother rolled his eyes and knelt on the ground, and had the "daddy/daughter talk of jealousy." Jackie watched with a gleam in her eye and Eric sighed happily.
If he had heard that he'd be smiling and laughing two years ago, he would has laughed in someone's face. The death of Donna had consumed him and withered him away to a nothing and he didn't want a part of this life. But if he had died, if he had given up on everything and everyone, he wouldn't be able to experience this day, this moment, with a smile on his face... with the ones he loved.
And he knew deep down that Donna was watching, guiding him. Even if it was subconsciously, he knew she was there. The nights when he felt alone and the tears almost fell, he could almost hear he say that she loved him. Whenever he looks at pictures of her and him that were placed through the apartment, he'd remember the moments. The happy and the sad. And eventually, the pain had left him. There were times where he felt the pang of loneliness and missed Donna, but that was only natural. Jackie had been right; he was happier to have had her and lost her than never have had her at all.
"Katy," he heard Hyde's gruff voice, now more stern. "You know nana loves you more than anything. She just has an equal love for Jess-"
"But that not fair!"
"I don't like your tone," Hyde pouted his lower lip and closed his eyes. Eric watched as Katy snickered then hit her dad's mouth. While Hyde laughed, Jackie gasped.
"Kathryn Dawn!" Jackie barked, making both Hyde and Katy turn to face her. "Do you want a time out?" Katy started to cry once again and Hyde sighed heavily as she burrowed into him.
Another set of car doors slammed and the five adults turned their attention to the parking lot. Kelso came bounding up wearing a grin on his face and waving his arms.
"Where's my god daughter?" Kelso cried, panting as he slowed to a halt next to Eric. Jess giggled and waved at Kelso who beamed at the small child still nuzzled in Kitty's arms.
"Dad, you're so weird," six-year-old Betsy grumbled as she walked up with her mother. Brooke smiled apologetically at her husband who shrugged his shoulders; they all knew he was weird.
"It's to counter act your mom's smarts, Bets," he replied, earning a confused look from his daughter. "Fez will be here in a few minutes with Tina. Valerie isn't coming because of the snowstorm in Milwaukee." Kelso informed the group.
After the funeral, Tina and Fez had stayed together, two years later they were happily engaged. Valerie had moved to Milwaukee with her boyfriend and no one heard much from her. Bob moved to California with Midge because he couldn't handle living in the house Donna had had her fist steps in. He called occasionally, but no one knew much about him anymore.
"So... do we want to go up or wait for Fez and Tina?" Eric asked suddenly to break the silence. Everyone glanced at each other, unsure of what to say.
"We'll wait for Fez and Tina, Eric, but if you want to go up..." Kitty trailed off, Eric nodded and waved goodbye to Jess who was silent.
As Eric walked up the hill by himself, he felt his stomach squirm. A part of him wanted to run back to the car and wait until his friends and family had visited, but another, much stronger part of him told him to continue up the hill. Taking a deep breath, Eric pocketed his hands and slowly made his way through the snow-covered cemetery.
It wasn't difficult for him to find Donna's grave at all, he had the spot memorized. Even two years later there was still the mound of dirt from the burial; the grass hadn't grown over yet, and the snow just piled on top of it. The marble shone brightly in the sunny January day and appeared far brighter than any of the other tombstones. Eric's heart thudded rapidly in his chest and his hands twitched with nervousness.
As he stared at the small headstone, Eric sighed heavily. For the first time, tears hadn't welled in his eyes and he was actually rather happy today.
"Donna... I hope you can hear me," Eric murmured, kneeling next to the marble stone. "I'm always afraid you can't, but you said you'll always be with me... so I figure you can hear me. I know the last time I came was bad... and I'm sure you were so angry at me. But things have gotten better now... a lot better. And I know that you're watching over me because if you weren't I wouldn't be standing here today. I would be buried right next to you. And... I remember when I wanted that. But now I have Jess, and she... she's my life. I have a reason now, and you said I would. I know you helped me find Jess and God, Donna, thank you so much. I miss you so much though, not a day goes by that I don't think about you... but it doesn't hurt so bad anymore. I've been teaching since September, and I got an apartment in Kenosha for now... but I'm looking to move back to Point Place, funny, huh?" Eric chuckled, then turned his head when he heard soft talking. He coughed as he saw his family and closest friends slowly making their way towards him; like they were intentionally walking slow. They always did that. "Donna... I know you're still with me, and I love you, so much. I always will... and I can't wait to see you... but I'm not looking to do that any time soon. You showed me that I have a reason to live, that I have a life. With mom and dad, and Kelso, Hyde, and Jackie helping me as much as they did... you were right. Then you helped find Jess, and... she's perfect. But I couldn't do it without you, hon. I have a beautiful angel up there watching me, and a precious angel down here showing me how to live each day, and I am so glad to be alive."