17 May 1980
The Davenport Hotel
JACKIE AWOKE WITH the sensation that something wasn't quite right. She blinked repeatedly to clear her eyes, her fingers curling into her knotted hair with a grimace. She was acutely aware that she was hungover. Her vision was blurry, her mouth felt like it was full of cotton, and she had one hell of a headache.
She untangled her fingers from her hair and tried to sit up, but the pain in her head cautioned her to take her time. After a few more dry, with dry, clicking blinks, she attempted to propel herself upright again and winced at the sound of gentle knocking on the partitioned door.
"Jackie, you decent?"
She made a whining noise and the door creaked opened. Hyde peeked his head inside, seeing that she was still in bed but awake, and carefully stepped inside. When he saw that she was completely covered up with the comforter, his shoulders relaxed and he entered more freely into the room, holding out two cups of coffee.
"Mornin'." He had his aviators off for once, and his morning blue eyes were winking in the morning light. "How're you feeling?"
"Muh," she muttered, snaking a hand out from underneath the covers to rub at her tired eyes. Why was it so bright in the room?
He set her coffee on the nightstand and took a seat on the chair at the table. It was then that Jackie noticed his hair was wet and slicked back, like he had just taken a shower. She frowned. He was already dressed and looked a hell of a lot more alert than she felt. What time was it anyway?
"You wanna get some breakfast before we check-out?" He took a sip of his coffee, and she fell back down onto the mattress.
"Does that mean yes or no?"
Jackie whined petulantly in answer, covering her face with her thin arms. It was too damn bright. Her eyelids felt like sandpaper. Eventually, she sat up and glanced at the large alarm clock on the nightstand. It was twenty to eleven. They'd have to check-out soon. Could she shower that quickly?
"Why does the inside of my mouth tastes like vomit?" she asked, as she smacked her lips in distaste.
"Well, you did drink a lot of bourbon last night."
"Bourbon?" She unhooked the plastic tab on the lid of her coffee and took a sip, washing the bitter taste of bile out of her mouth. "Ugh, right, I'm not supposed to drink."
"Nothin'." She shook her head and dug the sleep out of eyes with a yawn. "I just shouldn't drink that much, y'know, being as tiny as I am." She blinked wide brown eyes at him and lightly shook her cup. "Was I fed coffee or something as a child?"
"Coffee," she repeated, taking another languid sip. "I read somewhere that it stunts your growth."
"Right," he drawled, holding up his own cup and frowning. "So no to breakfast, then?"
"I could try some toast—" she set down her drink with a grimace "—and half a bottle of Percocet."
"Okay." Hyde stood up with a grunt and walked back over to the door. "You wash up and I'll grab us some food. Don't forget your stuff is in the other room. I'll leave the door open. Oh, and I extended our check-out time to 11:30."
He briefly left the room, only to return with her duffel bag, which she retrieved her Percocet bottle from. The coffee cup he held before was replaced with a clear plastic cup filled with tap water. He handed it to her and she took it with a nod of thanks, swallowing back the pills.
"I'll be back in a bit," he said.
Once he left, Jackie showered quickly, or as quickly as she could while still basking under the hot spray of water. She had just finished getting dressed when he returned to her room with breakfast. Pulling her damp hair into a messy bun, Jackie sat barefoot at the table, taking nibbling bites of the toast.
"I got you some gum," he said, sliding a pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit across the table.
She smiled. "Thanks."
The two ate in silence, and Jackie was only able to eat the one slice of toast. Once done, she excused herself and went into the other room to pack her things. Luckily she hadn't been that messy. She was done packing in minutes.
When she walked back into Hyde's room, she was surprised to find him standing in front of the window. His aviators were back on and he was looking out over the city, his lips pursed in a frown.
"I'm all ready," she announced.
She dragged in her two suitcases and set her duffel bag down on the unmade bed before fishing the pack of gum out of her pocket. She offered him a stick, which he took with thanks, and unwrapped her own piece. She popped it in her mouth and chewed with deliberation, sitting down on the edge of the bed with a sigh. She'd have to fill an empty Coke bottle with water to take along on the trip.
"So what happened last night?" she asked. "Things seem kinda awkward between us right now."
"Huh?" He turned away from the window and dug his hands into his pockets. "Nah, not awkward, just..." He paused, tilting his head inquisitively. "Are you saying you don't remember last night?"
She shrugged. "I remember the beginning of it. We checked in, got something to eat in the bar downstairs, and then we, uh, played poker?"
"Yup." A sly grin angled across his lips. "You cleaned house."
She rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly. "Everything after that is a lil hazy." A look of unease flitted across Hyde's face and her brow wrinkled. "We didn't do anything together, did we? Like, together-together?"
He shook his head. "No."
"Oh, okay. Cool. Not that I would have minded if we did something. I just prefer being awake for stuff like that."
"Hey, I'd never—"
"I know, I know." She waved a hand at him. "Well, I don't really know, but I get that vibe from you—a good one. I can trust you, I think."
His right eyebrow quirked and he crossed his arms over his chest. "Well, that's reassuring."
Jackie smiled apologetically. "Sorry, I'm just feeling weird today."
"No worries." He picked up his own bag before grabbing her two suitcases. "You ready to hit the road?"
She looped the strap of her duffel bag over her shoulder and jumped up to her feet. "I call shot-gun!"
He chuckled. "Well, you sure as hell ain't driving."
A MID-AFTERNOON THUNDERSTORM had moved through the state an hour earlier, leaving raindrops like strung crystal beads on the windows of the El Camino. They had taken a taxi to the garage to pick up the truck and had been on the road ever since, stopping only once for lunch at a small rest-stop off the highway.
The music was playing low and Jackie had her head rested against the window, slipping in and out of sleep. Random thoughts popped into her head; most she shook off, but a few lingered, plaguing her mind with self-doubt. She was beginning to suspect that Hyde was keeping something from her; nothing malicious, but she still couldn't shake the feeling.
Of course she had amnesia, so he was probably holding onto a lot of secrets, and some of them could be traumatic for her. It wasn't like she could judge him since she was keeping secrets of her own. However, she was almost certain that the awkward silence that had settled between them was a result of something that had happened last night; something he was now keeping from her.
Did I make a pass at him?
You know, talking to yourself is the first sign of madness.
Jackie stiffened in her seat. It was that damn voice again. She eyed Hyde with her peripheral vision, but his attention was fixed on the road. He obviously hadn't heard the voice. Was it in her head? Was she crazy?
Yeah, and the second sign is replying, she answered inside her head, deciding to tempt fate. Might as well direct me to the nearest bedlam.
Bedlam? Stop making up words!
You seriously can't be this stupid. I couldn't have been this stupid.
Stupid? I'm brilliant. You're the stupid one!
Wow, I felt the heat on that burn.
Why does my outer voice insist on being such a sarcastic, opinionated jerk?
Why does my inner voice insist on being such a loud, obnoxious brat?
You know, you may be pretty and you may be me, sorta, but I don't like you.
Feeling's mutual, doll.
Doll? Did you just call me 'doll'? Oh God, you're becoming more and more like him every day. Soon you'll start wearing dirty band tees and aviators.
Why wait? I'm gonna start right now!
I hate you!
"Yeah? I hate you, too!"
Her heart was beating wildly in her chest and her hands were shaking so badly that she had to ball them into fists at her sides. Irrational anger coursed through her like venom bent on destruction. She had no idea why she was so upset, but before she could begin to rationalise it, she saw that Hyde was blatantly staring at her with a look of concern.
"Yeah?" She blinked, nonplussed. Oh, wait—had she yelled that aloud? "Yeah, I think I was having a daydream, or I stroked off for a minute."
"What was it about?" he pressed curiously.
"I don't really remember," she lied, and then felt guilty about lying. She supposed she could tell him half-truths. "It was really brief and weird, sorta like a daydream. I think I was talking to someone. Maybe it was a memory?"
Hyde frowned thoughtfully. "Well, whoever you were talking to, you clearly didn't like 'em."
"Yeah..." Jackie paused, feeling slightly uncomfortable. She really didn't want to discuss this anymore, lest she slipped the fact that she talking to herself like a bona fide mental patient. "I must have been chatting with Kelso," she said with a chuckle, and he looked at her funny. "What?"
"Nothing." He shrugged, keeping his gaze purposely fixed on the road. "Just weird hearing you call him Kelso."
"That's his name, isn't it?"
"Yeah, but I'm so used to you calling him Michael," he said with a pitched, screechy voice.
She scowled at him. "Did I really sound like that?"
"Yeah... Well, maybe you sounded a bit more feminine," he admitted with a slight smirk.
"Only a bit?" She folded her arms beneath her breasts with a scoff. "I have a feeling that's your voice for all women."
She tried to shake off the grin inevitably creeping on her lips. "So is it too weird that I call him Kelso? Should I call him Michael instead?"
"Nah. Unless you want to," he added hastily.
She pursed her lips thoughtfully and shook her head. "I'd rather not."
A few minutes later they pulled into a Mobil station hung with gaudy bunting. The signs out front read UNLEADED .79¢ and GOD BLESS AMERICA, and there was a boarded-up chip wagon with the sign OLE MISS CHIPS.
While Hyde pumped gas, Jackie got out of the truck to stretch her legs. A cool breeze wafted through the station and she shivered. With no shelter from tall buildings or trees, she was almost bowled over by the force of the wind. She wished she had brought her jacket with her as she wrapped her thin arms around herself for warmth.
She considered going back to the truck when she spotted a payphone off the side of the building and impulsively decided to give Penny and Chloe a call. She slipped between the blue divides and picked up the receiver. She punched in zero and then had to stop. Her hands were shaking uncontrollably.
Swallowing back her panic, she cradled the receiver between her ear and shoulder, leaving both hands free. She grasped her right wrist with her left hand to hold it steady, or as steady as possible. Using her forefinger, she punched at the buttons with slow and horrible deliberation. A female operator came on the line, asking Jackie what number she wished to dial, and she was about to give the name of Breitenbush when Hyde waved at her from the truck.
She muttered a quick apology and turned her back to him so that he couldn't see her hands shake as she hung up the phone. However, Hyde was already waiting inside the El Camino, so she brought her hands up to her face to inspect them. The trembling had subsided substantially, but her fingers still twitched. Frowning, she shoved them into her pockets and trotted over to the truck.
When she reached the El Camino, she wondered how she was going to open the door, but Hyde had already reached over and opened it for her. She sat inside and mumbled a thanks before using both hands to shut the door. Thankfully her hands had steadied out enough for her to pull the door shut.
"All set?" he asked, turning over the ignition.
"Yup." She offered him a thin smile and threw on her jacket, stuffing her hands into the pockets.
Why did everything in her life always have to go wrong?
BY EARLY EVENING, grey clouds had begun to build up in the west, and by dark it had commenced thundering. The storm had managed to hold off for another hour and a half, and thankfully by then they had managed to locate a motel.
Jackie was already in bed asleep in the other room when Hyde stepped outside onto the balcony for a smoke. He watched the rain fall and listened to the wind talk. He tried not to think about last night and about what he and Jackie had almost done, but it played like a movie reel in his mind. He had learnt long ago that if your mind insisted on returning to a topic, no matter how you hard tried to divert it, it was best to let it return and run its course. Only obsessives worried about obsession.
So Hyde let his mind wander, inevitably drifting back to thoughts of Jackie. A part of him was disgusted with himself for letting things almost get out of hand, and for refusing to tell her about it the next day, but a bigger part of himself knew that it was best to drop it. Leave it alone. She didn't need to be reminded or embarrassed by a moment of drunken inhibition. He was more worried about what her impression of him would be when all things were said and done—or rather what he hadn't said or done.
Hyde didn't like to lie; for one thing, he was horrible at it. Keeping silent was in his nature, but keeping truths wasn't. Honestly, he wasn't sure what to say to Jackie. What should he tell her about their relationship? She had told him not to bother, but the guilt of passing the buck gnawed at his conscience.
The doctors had said to gradually reintroduce her to her past but not traumatise her, so that left out the last few months of their relationship. It wasn't like he wanted to reveal every sordid detail, but he didn't exactly feel right acting chummy with someone he had hurt so badly. Although, oddly enough, Hyde had found himself wanting to become friends with Jackie.
There was no set dynamic to their relationship anymore, yet Hyde felt more or less at ease around Jackie now. He was less likely to do or say something that he'd later regret, and also less likely to be reminded of his sins of the past. He felt an undeserved sense of freedom around her, mixed with a sense of familiarity. In other words, it was complicated.
He had always found it an oddment that despite their vast catalogue of differences, it had been their similarities that had first drawn them together. Both of them had been abandoned by their parents; both were prideful and stubborn, refusing to show any chinks in their armour. Yet they were vulnerable in their own ways, and it was this vulnerability hidden beneath the surface that had compelled him to her, ever playing her reluctant knight in shining armour.
But this new Jackie—or Ruby, as she called herself—didn't want or need a saviour. She could take care of herself. Yet Hyde couldn't seem to help playing the hero, whether he wanted to or not. He saw the stiffness in her smiles, the sharp edges to her stares and the little bit of darkness lurking behind her eyes. She was alone and trying to be strong about it; however, unlike his Jackie, Ruby could very well lose herself to that darkness, and he couldn't have that.
Contrary to his original protests, Hyde really didn't feel like quitting Jackie just yet. What that meant, he wasn't exactly sure yet. What he did know was that she was hiding something from him. He had a feeling her little sojourn in Oregon wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. Something had happened, and though it wasn't in his nature to pry, he figured she'd let something slip eventually. But would he be able to do anything to help her?
Hyde flicked his spent cigarette onto the wet pavement with a grimace. He didn't have the right to question what Jackie did or what she hid from him, but the niggling feeling at the back of his mind told him that something wasn't quite right. Whatever she was keeping to herself was big, and he felt a strong desire to protect and shelter her, not unlike the feelings that had always been there hidden beneath the surface.
First thing was first: they were going to have to have a talk soon. Things couldn't go on the way they were—or at least they couldn't for him. He had to come clean about their past together, eventually. He just didn't know where start. How could he tell her the things he had done to her? What could he say to make her understand what he had done when he didn't even understand himself?
Have a talk? Hyde palmed his face with a sigh. God, he sounded like a girl, or worse: Forman.
IT RAINED STEADILY the rest of the trip home. The skies were a perpetual dismal grey, as if a portent of things to come. Just before they had stopped for lunch, the news on the radio announced the eruption of Mount St Helens. Over twenty people were dead, and the death-toll was still rising.
They greeted the news with shocked disbelief at first. They had almost gone there to visit, but Jackie had declined. She even had friends who lived and were visiting in Portland, which wasn't that far from the mountain. After calling the resort from a rest-stop and finding out from Penny that they were okay, and giving her Mandy and Tiffany's hotel number in Portland, the reality of the situation had finally sunk in.
She didn't even know that Mount St Helens was still active.
The rest of the trip home was quiet, listening to the news until they were too depressed and had to find a station playing music. They had made excellent time, arriving in Point Place just after six that evening. Hyde pulled the El Camino into the Formans' driveway and Jackie ran her damp palms up and down her jeaned-thighs, swallowing back her anxiety.
She shouldn't have been nervous. She had been here before and she liked the Formans, but a part of her still wasn't ready for this reunion. She had become anti-social as of late. Maybe it was road-trip fatigue or maybe she was just upset.
Hyde pulled the key out of the ignition and turned to look at her, giving her a brief nod of encouragement. "You ready?"
She nodded silently and got out of the truck.
Hyde was already out the door and had retrieved her bags from the back, handing her the duffel bag while he carried her two suitcases and his own bag. They had decided to enter through the basement first rather than lugging everything around the front or get yelled at by Red for trekking dirt through the kitchen.
Jackie made it down the stairs first, holding the door open for Hyde. She had expected to see Donna and Eric, but the basement was empty and the TV was turned off. Hyde set her things down on the floor and threw his bag on the sofa while she clutched at hers like it was her lifeline.
"They must be upstairs," he muttered, and that was when she heard voices coming from above as the basement door opened.
"What's with the wing-tips?" Eric asked Fez as he came down the stairs. "You're welcoming Jackie home, not Nixon vacationing at the beach."
"I'll have you know that I have a date tonight!" the foreigner spat indignantly.
Donna snorted behind him. "Is the date with your hand?"
Eric's choked laughter was cut off when he saw Jackie and Hyde standing in front of the sofa. "Jackie? Hyde?"
"Jackie!" Fez and Donna cried in unison, pushing Eric aside as they scrambled down the rest of the stairs to greet the brunette.
"My goddess has returned!" Fez threw his arms around Jackie's neck, but Donna managed to shove him off and hugged the petite girl lightly.
"Jackie! We didn't expect you to be home until later. Someone didn't call." She shot Hyde a dirty look and he just shrugged. "C'mon upstairs—but not through the basement."
"Why can't I go up through the basement?"
Donna shared a look with Eric, who shrugged with a guilty tilt of his head.
Hyde smirked. "Mrs Forman has a surprise welcome-back party planned, doesn't she?"
"You know my mom," Eric said with a lift of his hands.
Jackie frowned. "A surprise?"
"Don't worry," Donna reassured her. "It's just us and Eric's parents."
"Yeah, we figured you wouldn't want people here you haven't re-met yet," Eric said.
Jackie smiled gratefully. "Thanks, Kid."
"You're using it!" he squealed excitedly, looking back at Fez and Donna. "She's using it!"
Donna just rolled her eyes and looped an arm through Jackie's. "So you have to tell me all about your trip. What did you do? What's a holistic retreat like?"
Jackie tried to field what questions she could as the blonde led her back outside with Hyde reluctantly trailing behind. When the three came in through the front door, Jackie noticed a welcome-back sign and Red seated at his green chair, watching the news.
He glanced up at Hyde with a scowl. "You didn't call. Kitty's been in a tizzy all day. She's baked enough food to feed an army."
"Sorry," Hyde said. "We were making good time and I didn't want to stop."
Red grunted in reply and gave a cautious look at the kitchen door before pointing to Jackie and Hyde. "You two go wait outside. If you're not surprised, Kitty'll be upset for the rest of the night."
Jackie and Hyde quickly followed orders and went back outside to wait. They could hear Red yell and Kitty whooping and hollering. After a minute, everything was a hushed quiet. When they saw the lights click off and what sounded like Red clearing his throat in an annoyed fashion, Hyde opened the door and they stepped inside.
"Surprise!" everyone yelled, as Donna turned on the lights with a grin.
Eric and Fez were upstairs now, and there was a big cake set on the coffee table. Mrs Forman had popped some confetti with a tittering laugh while Red remained seated in his green chair, scowling petulantly at the noise.
"Ah, wow, thanks," Jackie said, pointing up at the banner. "Nice touch."
Kitty smiled and pulled the petite brunette into a hug. "We missed you, dear."
"Thanks, Mrs Forman." She closed her eyes and allowed herself to briefly enjoy the hug before pulling back. "Oh, I got you something." She fished out a box and handed it to the older woman.
"You shouldn't have," Kitty said, opening the box to reveal a pair of gold loop earrings. She gasped. "Jackie, they're beautiful!" She held an earring up to her ear before folding the brunette into another hug. "Thank you, dear."
Jackie just nodded, almost shyly, before pulling out another box and handing it to Red. "I got you something too, Mr Forman."
"Is it a pair of earrings?" he asked, suspiciously eyeing the small box. "Men should never be given gifts in small boxes, unless it's a key to a car."
"No, it's not earrings, or the key to a car." She grinned and then waved her hands. "It's really not that big of a deal. I found it at a flea market and I thought of you."
Red raised a sceptical eyebrow at this but opened the box, revealing a 1918 USCE Taylor Compass.
"Hey now," he said, sitting up with a little smile on his face. "My father had one of these—a USCE compass. He brought it back with him after the war. Marty lost it when we were kids." Red fingered the compass almost lovingly before nodding. "Thank you, Jackie."
She fidgeted slightly but smiled. "You're welcome."
"What about me?" Fez asked eagerly. "Do I get a present, too?"
Eric and Donna both nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, I got you all something, but the stuff's in my suitcase." She went to go downstairs to retrieve them, but Kitty stopped her.
"Wait! You need to have a slice of cake first."
Jackie relented, and they all sat down to some cake. They were currently stuffing their faces when pictures of the eruption came up on the news.
"Wow, that's so unreal," Donna said, licking some chocolate icing off her thumb. "I can't believe a volcano erupted on this continent."
"We almost went there before we left," Hyde commented casually, and the blonde's eyes bugged out.
Jackie nodded absently, transfixed by the television screen, and Hyde cleared his throat.
"Last we heard on the radio, it was thirty-six dead."
"Forty now," Red said gravely. "There was a crop-dusting plane that got hit."
"Was it close at all to where your retreat was?" Donna asked Jackie, and she shook her head.
"No, but I have some friends who are staying in Portland, which is fairly close to the mountain."
"Do you want to call them and make sure they're okay?" Kitty asked, concern lacing her voice.
Jackie paused. "Well, I... Yeah, I should probably check in on them."
She got up and made her way into the kitchen, fishing out the slip of paper with Mandy and Tiffany's hotel number on it. Hyde came in behind her, heading to the fridge for a soda. She ignored him and reached for the receiver when her hands started to shake.
She considered waiting until he left to attempt to dial, but he still had his head in the fridge. Turning her back to him so he couldn't see, she attempted to pick up the receiver only to knock it out of its cradle. She cursed softly to herself and grabbed a hold of the dangling phone with both hands, carefully slipping it back into its cradle with violently trembling hands.
"I forgot the number in my bag," she muttered, crushing the slip of paper in her shaking hand.
She went back into the living room, feeling Hyde's eyes upon her as she left. Only home a few minutes and already nothing was going her way.
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