Three years ago.
It is just past eight on a Saturday morning when Jackie walks into the basement. She closes the door quickly behind her so as to not let in the frigid November chill. She tugs at her coat and walks over to the worn-out couch and pulls out a few books from her bag. She chooses a book of poems and begins flipping through it, stopping after a few pages to skim. After a hectic night, she hopes she can get lost in the pages of the books and distract her mind. She needs to put a stop, if only temporarily, to the thoughts that have been driving her insane during the last few hours. After a few moments, she kicks off her boots and lays back on the couch.
As she chooses a poem to read, she tries to focus but finds herself thinking about her life and how much of a routine it has become. Every day she finds herself doing the same things, hanging around the same people. Frankly, she is beginning to feel claustrophobic in Point Place. Although, truth be told, it isn't the town that suffocates her, but rather the memories attached to it. Every significant place hold some painful memory; the water tower, Fatso Burger, the Forman's. They all reminded her of every failed relationship in her life, from her parents to Fez and everything in between. The memories make the town stuffy, and she just needs something new.
She wonders whether or not she will ever have a true adventure in her life, one that will take her out of her comfort zone and provide her a life she is happier with. Perhaps one that will take her somewhere more eventful. The last time she came close to having an adventure, she ended up running after her ex-boyfriend to clear up a misunderstanding. She ended sacrificing everything, only to end up with nothing.
Jackie shudders at the memories of Chicago and everything that came after. The months that followed had been the worse for her. She had completely lose sight of who she was and let people make decisions for her. She became someone she didn't recognize, and that's what hurt most of all.
Now, just two years later, she has to admit that she is in a much better place. She is rekindling her romance with Hyde and the two have managed to have a more stable relationship. Of course they still disagreed from time to time, but that's just who they are.
Hyde walks out of his room and walks into the basement. As he takes the few steps to his usual seat, he notices his girlfriend sleeping on the couch, a book laying opened across her stomach. He watches as her chest rises and falls along with her even breathing. Hyde looks down at his watch and sees that it's only eleven o'clock. He frowns slightly and walks towards the couch. Standing over Jackie, he leans down a bit and shakes her gently. She shuffles and groans but does not wake up. Hyde lifts the book off her and places it on the table. He takes a seat at the edge of the couch.
"Jackie" he whispers in her ear. He leans back and smiles as he watches her eyes fluttering open.
"Hey" she replies softly, "what time is it?"
"Just after eleven, what time did you get here?" he asks her.
Jackie shrugs and sits up, rubbing her eyes as she does in an effort to adjust to the light. She finally looks at Hyde and notices his messy curls and lack of a t-shirt. She smiles and leans in to kiss him. "You look hot" she says while suppressing a yawn.
"Thanks" he responds sheepishly. "Jacks, not that I mind you being here, but what made you come so early? Aren't you supposed to be at Donna's?"
Jackie rolls her eyes and stands up to stretch. She makes a mental note to never sleep on that couch again. You would think that with all the time they spend in the basement, sitting on that couch, they could perhaps chip in and get a more comfortable one. Hell, it's not like they could get use out of it. Between their naps and make out sessions and who knows what else, a new couch would be an investment.
"I was but then Eric came over at six and it got too chaotic so I came here" she says.
"Chaotic?" Hyde asks curiously.
"Oh yeah, Eric proposed...again. Can you believe it? We're going to have to suffer through this one more time."
"He proposed? What an idiot, we all told him to wait" Hyde says. He shakes his head from side to side. Leave it to Forman to get anxious enough to propose so early in the morning.
"You knew he was going to do it?" asks Jackie.
Hyde simply nods his head. He stands up from the couch and walks back to his room. A few seconds later he returns, no longer half naked. He rummages through a box just outside his room and finds his sunglasses. He puts them on, then starts walking towards his chair. Jackie watches as he sits down and lifts his leg to the Ottoman.
"Why didn't you tell me?" she asks seriously.
"No offense babe, but you can't keep a secret. Forman made me swear not to tell you."
Jackie sighs and plops back down on the couch. She grabs the book of poems from the table and flips to a random page. She starts skimming the stanzas but can feel Hyde looking at her. She tries to ignore his gaze and flips the page. A few minutes of silence pass in which she has sighed three times, flipped about ten pages and shifted her posture countless times.
"Is something wrong?" Hyde gives in.
Jackie shoots him a questioning, but unconvincing, look. "No, why do you think something's wrong?" she asks.
"No reason." Hyde smiles as he sees her disappointment that he doesn't insist on finding out what is bothering her.
"Do you...Will they get married this time?" Jackie asks while looking down at the closed book. She can hear his exhale and from the corner of her eye catches him run his hands through his hair. She knows she's treading on thin ice and that it would probably be best not to mention anything marriage related, but she doesn't care. She can't keep being afraid to talk to him about things that bother her just because he might run for the hills again. If he can't handle a simple conversation about it, then they're no different than they were before.
"Jackie, I don't know. Who cares, it's not like they won't end up together eventually. They're Eric and Donna."
"Yeah, I guess they just have a different kind of relationship."
Jackie finds the courage to look up at Hyde and she immediately regrets it. She can see the glare through his sunglasses and his arms are crossed. She knows he is in the defense and that she should just drop it. The only problem is, she can't. Something inside of her is yelling at her to press on, to see how far they have actually come. After everything they endured and put each other through, something has had to change, right?
"I'm happy for them though, it must be nice to know they would eventually get there, you know? Although, I guess it was obvious. After being in a relationship that long it makes sense to get married." She continues to talk and watches him grind his teeth together and his eyes narrow even more than before.
"I know what you're doing," he starts through gritted teeth, "and I'm not going there." Hyde stands up from his chair and starts walking towards his room.
"Why can't you go there with me Steven?" Jackie yells and follows him to his room. Once there she sees him sitting on his bed rubbing his forehead. "Steven" she continues, "why can't we talk about this?"
"Damn it Jackie, are we back there again? Do you remember what happened last time we had this conversation? You ran off to Chicago and screwed Kelso."
"I did not have sex with Michael" she replies defensively.
"Almost, whatever. Jackie, I'm not talking about this."
"Yeah, well I am so I guess you're just going to have to listen" she responds and crosses her arms. He groans and lays down on the bed, staring up at the ceiling.
"I don't understand why it's so difficult for you to see yourself with me in the future. What is it about me that prevents you from wanting to build a life with me? After all we've been through, haven't I proven myself worthy? I come back every time and maybe it's stupid of me, but it shows how much I love you. Why can't you see that I'm not going anywhere? We have already gone through some awful, painful times, it can only get better from here. Why is it that you can't see that?"
"Jackie, enough okay? We just got back together and we're still trying to adjust to each other after everything. I'm not about to jump into something more serious than either of us can handle. I thought you were alright with us starting over from scratch." Hyde sits back up on the bed and presses his back against the wall. He sees her standing over by the door, her hands still crossed and her forehead furrowed.
"We're always starting from scratch Steven. Something always happens that pushes us back to the starting line and it's frustrating."
"I don't know what you want me to say Jackie, I really don't know what the right answer is here" Hyde answers. He removes his glasses and rubs his eyes. It's too early for this shit he thinks before looking up at her.
"I just want you to tell me if you can see yourself married to me? That's all I've ever wanted to know Steven." She walks over to his bed and takes a seat at the edge of it. Her eyes are pleading him for an answer.
"Honestly? I...I don't think we're good for each other Jackie" Hyde replies. He looks at her, sincerity in his eyes and it takes her by surprise. How can he think that? Everyone always says that they are happier when they are together and that the compliment each other so well. How can he possibly think otherwise?
"What do you mean?" she asks reluctantly, afraid of what else he can say.
"I really don't want to get into this. Let's just go back to bed and talk about it some other time okay?" says Hyde while laying back down.
"Not okay. You can't just say something like that and then not talk about it. Steven, why don't you think we're good for each other?"
"I didn't mean that we can't make this work Jackie. I just meant that on paper, we're not good together and sometimes it feels that way. Whenever we argue or something happens between us, I start to think that maybe being together isn't such a good idea." Hyde pulls the blanket over himself and closes his eyes. He knows that if he looks at her he will see the hurt and disappointment, and he is so tired of hurting her. No matter how much effort he puts into their relationship, he always ends up doing or saying the wrong thing. Now, specially, he wishes he could take the words back and just lay down comfortably with her. "Just forget I said anything and come to bed" he says.
"Every couple argues Steven, even Eric and Donna."
"Whatever Jackie just come to bed."
"Damn it Steven just talk to me!" Jackie demands. She takes several steps towards the bed and yanks the blankets off him and flings it across the room.
Hyde abruptly sits back up and gets on his feet. He grabs his sunglasses and puts them on. However, Jackie reached up to his face, snatched the glasses and flings them also. "What the hell Jackie, you're acting insane" he says.
"I'm not acting insane Steven. I am just so sick and tired of waiting around for you to give me what I want. I have given up so much to be with you and you don't even have the decency to do one thing for me."
"Are you serious? Jackie, I've gone to annoying discos and even a roller skating ring. I took you to a fancy restaurant and spent all day with you at the mall. Those are all things I did for you, because you wanted to do them. How do I not do things for you?"
Hyde can not believe they are having this conversation. He truly believed that during the few months since they got back together they had established a stronger relationship than the one they had before. He thought they had left all those issues in the past, but here they were, rearing their ugly heads and he isn't sure the relationship is worth fighting for anymore.
"You know what I mean" Jackie replies rolling her eyes.
"No, I don't and I really don't want to talk about this anymore." Hyde walks past her and out the door into the basement. He starts going up the stairs that lead to the living room and he can hear Jackie's footsteps behind him. Why the hell did he wake up early today? He should still be sleeping and not having this argument with his girlfriend.
"Steven...STEVEN" he hears Jackie calling after him but chooses to ignore it and keep walking straight towards the kitchen. Once there, he sees Eric sitting on one of the stools eating some breakfast. Hyde nods at him and Eric does the same while taking a bite of his pancake. Within seconds Jackie pushes past the swinging doors fuming.
"Do not ignore me!" she yells at Hyde causing Eric to look up in amusement.
"And here I thought my weekend would be boring" Eric exclaims, a small smile on his face.
"Shut up Forman" Hyde says. He grabs a glass from the cabinet and pours some juice in it. He puts the carton of juice back in the refrigerator, closes it and walks towards the round table near the sliding door.
"Why can't you just give me some sort of reassurance that we're actually going somewhere. We've been through so much together, it's only logical that we will eventually get married" Jackie urges on as she proceeds to take a seat on a chair opposite Hyde.
"Wait, didn't you guys just get back together?" asks Eric as he turns to look at the couple on the other side of the room. Hyde points towards Eric and nods. "Exactly" he says, thankful that his friend has backed up his own thoughts.
"Stay out of this Eric" growls Jackie. Eric shrugs his shoulders and turns back to face his plate.
"See, I'm not the only one who thinks it's too early to talk about marriage."
"Oh how would he know anything about timing? He waited years to propose to Donna and then didn't even show up to his rehearsal dinner" Jackie replies.
"Hey!" says Eric but before he can continue, he is silenced by Jackie's death glare. "Shutting up" he says and turns once again to face away from them.
"That's not the point Jackie. Talking about marriage just isn't logical for us."
"Isn't logical for us now or not logical period?" she asks, a slight sense of hope building within her.
"What's the difference?" Hyde asks before taking a sip of his juice.
"Well, if it's not logical now, then it means that we will eventually be able to talk about it which means that you see it happening. If it's not logical period, then..." her voice trails off and she can't bring herself to think of that possibility.
Hyde sighs and puts his glass down. How more frustrating can one person be? Of course he loves Jackie, but he wishes that she will drop the conversation and they can just go back to having the simple relationship they have been having. They're still so young, what the hell is the rush to get married? Hasn't she seen the way both their parent's marriages turned out? Why would she be so excited to get married after having those examples?
"Jackie, I don't know. I'm just taking this one day at a time, that's how I do things and you know that. I'm not going to propose to you just because you want me to."
"Oh, so you won't marry me, but there was absolutely no problem marrying a stripper?" she yells at him and as soon as the words leave her mouth, she catches herself and her breath hitches. She stares nervously at him and sees his body tense up. From the corner of her eye she sees Eric slowly turn to look at them, his fork hanging mid-air. She's gone too far and she knows it. Before getting together they had both agreed to leave those things in the past. They've done a good job avoiding any discussions about Sam, Chicago and Kelso...until now anyway.
Hyde glares at her and quickly rises from his seat and walks through the sliding door, into the backyard. Jackie turns to look at Eric for a moment and sees him shaking his head. She rolls her eyes and heads outside to catch up to Hyde.
Once outside, she sees him picking up the basketball from the garage and dribbling it a few times before taking a shot. He misses.
"Steven" she starts as she walks a few steps off the porch. He ignores her and takes another shot. He misses again and she hears him growl and now he's dribbling the ball harder than before.
"Steven I didn't mean to bring that up, it just slipped out" she says apologetically. She waits as he takes a third shot. He misses once more and she sighs.
"Steven please" she continues and as she takes a few more steps closer he turns abruptly.
"Stop. I'm just so tired of this Jackie" he says. He puts the ball down and kicks it to the garage where it hits the back bumper of Red's Toyota.
"Tired of what Steven?" Jackie asks, her voice barely audible.
"Tired of the same argument. No matter what happens, it always comes back to this. Neither of us can let go of what happened. We agreed not to talk about the past anymore, but you can't let it go can you?" Hyde asks as he leans back on the pole that supports the basket.
"No Steven, I can't. I try to forget it but I can't. It still hurts me that you were able to marry someone that you didn't even know but you can't promise me that one day we will get married."
"I was drunk when I married Sam, how many times do I have to tell you?"
"I know you were drunk, but then you kept her around and dangled her in front of my face. You mocked me every single day by kissing her and touching her the way you used to touch me. You have no idea how much that hurts."
Hyde looks down to the ground and shuffles his feet.
"Maybe it's about time you learn what it feels like, then maybe you will understand my position" Jackie states matter-of-factly. This forces Hyde to look back up at her. A questioning look dawns on his face.
"What do you mean?" he asks.
He watches as Jackie begins to pace back and forth. She twirls a strand of hair around her finger. "Jackie, what is that supposed to mean?" he repeats.
She paces a few more time and then stops. She takes a few steps closer to him, but makes sure that she isn't too close. She's been keeping this secret for so long now and every day it suffocates her more and more. Perhaps it's the secret that's been making her feel so claustrophobic. Maybe once she just tells him, she will stop feeling so stuffed all the time.
"Something happened, in Chicago...Before you got there-" Jackie starts.
Hyde pushes off the pole and narrows his eyes. "What happened?" he asks interrupting,
"It was a stupid thing to do and I wish it hadn't-" she says but is again interrupted.
"Jackie! What. Happened?" Hyde asks.
"In Chicago, before you got there, I...did sleep with Michael" she answers quickly, hoping that maybe he didn't catch the last part. From the horrified expression on his face, however, she knows better.
"You had sex with Kelso?" he asks after a few seconds of awkward silence.
"Yes and t was stupid, I know, but at that time I just wanted to do something, anything, that will hurt you as much as you hurt me when you didn't come. I'm sorry" she says.
"You were right Jackie" Hyde says. His expression is one she hasn't seen in a long time. It isn't his mad face, or even his sad face. Right now, Steven Hyde is as aloof as she has ever seen him, and that scares Jackie more than anything else he could have thrown her way. When Steven Hyde is aloof, Steven Hyde doesn't care.
"A-about what Steven?" she asks sadly.
"Now I know what it feels like" he responds and begins to walk past her.
"Steven, please. Look, now we both hurt each other, we're even. Let's just move on, please" Jackie says.
Hyde stops mid-stride and turns back to look at her. "We're not even Jackie. You won, you finally won."
As he opens the sliding door he hears her call out "fine, walk away again. I'm done Steven!"
Hyde rapidly shuts the doors behind her to drown out her voice. How could he have been so stupid? Of course something had to have happened between Jackie and Kelso in that room. Why did he believe her when she told him otherwise?
"Everything alright man?" asks Eric. Hyde looks up at his friend who is washing his plate by the sink. Damn Eric, his life is simple. He has a girlfriend who loves him and puts up with all his crap and his parents are normal, by Hyde's standards anyway. Hyde rolls his eyes, "shut up Forman" he says and walks past him.
"Shutting up" says Eric as he watches his best friend walking past him.
In the basement, Hyde plops down on the couch and stares down at his watch. He grunts when he sees it's only 12:27. As he sits there thinking of everything that has just happened, he wonders how long it will take Jackie to come back and apologize to him.
I'll give her an hour he thinks as he gets up from the couch and heads back to his room.
Author's Note: I apologize for not updating sooner, but I had an idea of what I wanted this chapter to turn into and I ended up not being able to figure out how to make it that (weird I know). Ultimately, this isn't exactly how I wanted to finish the story, but hopefully you all still enjoy it. I know some of you were hoping for a happy JH ending but it would seem a bit rushed/abrupt to it so I opted out of it. Also, there might be a possible one-shot sequel, though I'm still thinking about it. Finally, I want to thank everyone who read & reviewed this story, you all made it much more fun to write this. Until next time! (*back to my hiatus/reading other people's stories yay! lol)