11 – Time Revolves
Chapter 11 – Time Revolves
Eric had one more question.
"Guys?" He said on the exhale, "Humor me. What happened to Hyde?"
Kelso looked at Fez, "He must have hit his head or something. Dude, how can you not remember this?"
Eric shrugged. "I don't know."
Kelso popped the top of a beer can and settled back on his bench. "Around the time you and Donna were at college, W.B. starting getting sick. Nobody knew what was wrong with him. Sometimes he'd be great and then there was weeks when he couldn't get out of bed. A butt load of doctors gave him tests but they didn't know what was wrong."
Fez corroborated Kelso's story and continued. "It was sad, W.B. was always tired and the doctors thought he might have an illness or maybe a stroke (Fez is laughing at the word *stroke*) but they weren't sure. Angie called in a specialist from California and he was diagnosed with something called Lou Reed Syndrome."
Eric frowned. "What the hell is that?"
Kelso rolled his eyes. "It's named after that baseball player." He glared at Fez who was happily playing "Let's Go Out to The Ballgame" in his head. "Eric, its called Lou Gehrig Disease. Angie explained it that her dad couldn't swallow real good and he was losing muscle control in his hands and feet. She had to hire a nurse to help him get dressed and you know… personal stuff like that." Kelso paused to almost boast. "I have Brooke to do that for me."
Eric wanted to know more, "Carry on man."
Kelso rubbed his hands together, "Okay, so while W.B. was getting weaker,and this didn't happen over night...he told Angie and Hyde they needed to run his company. The specialist said W.B. would do better in a warmer climate so the whole business was moved to Los Angeles. Hyde and Angie are seriously famous dude – it's AWESOME!"
"How can having a dad with Lou Gehrig's be awesome Kelso? Really."
Kelso sobered a bit, "Well, not for W.B. I mean, but Angie and her brother are making music videos. You know that one with Michael Jackson that came out last year? If you look in the background, you'll see Hyde's hair! They couldn't cut it out so our buddy is in a music video."
Fez held up a finger, "Don't forget the one with Whitney Houston – they did that one too! Awwww…..Whitney…you are so lovely…" Fez crooned. "...and Bon Jovi...I love their hair..."
"But what happened to W.B." Eric still wanted to know.
Stretching his arms and folding them behind his head, Kelso shrugged. "He must be hanging in here. I know he's got an oxygen tank hooked to his wheelchair. Hyde says that he can still hear and taste and see really good….he just is…like…paralyzed…by his own body."
Eric made a mental note to call Steven Hyde and make contact with his old friend. It was ridiculous how out of touch he was with all his old buddies. Fez was right. Money can buy friends – not make them. Sounds like you were lonely. Well, that was going to end right there. He needed his friends and he needed contact with his parents and his kids. And Jackie.
His kids. Were they really his kids? Was this some fantasy that would never be realized? And Jackie. He needed her too in ways he didn't understand. In his other life, he didn't feel this…grounded….for lack of a better word. Having her at the house or doing domestic shit while he played with the kids – that was real. This was life. What he had in Chicago must have been the dream and he was suffering from a bad case of amnesia right now.
"Guys. I need to go home."
Ben was helping Jackie make a snow fort. Although it was late afternoon, the sun was still shining and it wasn't the bitter cold it had been earlier in the week. The fort was pathetic looking to the odd pedestrian, but for Benjamin Forman, it was the most brilliant piece of architecture in the world.
The silver Tempo pulled into the driveway and Eric nearly stumbled in his haste to get out of the car. He thanked Fez for the ride and the foreigner, who was now his brother-in-law, flung dirty gray snow as he reversed out of the drive. "Later Eric!"
Eric watched the Tempo leave and turned towards the walkway. Maybe he would try his hand at making this new little family of his dinner tonight. However, all thoughts fled his mind as an icy cold blast of snow smacked him right on the cheek. The flung snowball, was followed by some uproarious giggling and shushing from somewhere in the front yard.
Ben looked at his mom who was holding a finger to her lips, "Quiet." She said softly.
Ben nodded and wadded up another snowball in his mittened hands. Suddenly, both snow-ballers where hauled to their feet with an, "I gotcha!"
Jackie squealed with laughter and Ben was tucked under a strong arm and carried over and deposited into a fresh pile of snow. "So who was the wise guy that threw the first snowball?" Eric pretended to be annoyed.
Jackie pointed at Ben who pointed at his mother and they both laughed. Eric put his hands on his hips, "That's what I thought!" He scooped up a handful of snow and held it above Jackie's head. "Oh no! No. No. No!" She was half giggling and half begging, but that didn't stop the small bit of snow from being dropped down the back of her jacket.
Ben's eyes were huge as he watched his mom and dad play in the snow and laughing with pleasure. It must have been fun so he lobbed two snowballs at his parents. Jackie was sputtering and wiping her blouse. "Ben! I'm one of the good guys!" She complained good-naturedly.
Eric pulled Jackie to her feet and helped her brush off the remnant snow. Just one look into those huge luminous eyes and he felt a pitch in his stomach - she was so pretty and why oh why did he ever take her for granted? Jackie looked up at him with a twinkle in her eye, "Fishing was good?"
He smiled softly, "Not as good as being here with you and the boys."
That earned him a huge smile and a welcome home kiss. "I'm going to change clothes. Bring Ben in after you dig him out of that hole?"
Eric nodded and dived headlong into the same pile of snow to wrap his arms around the giggling four year old. "So, you think its baseball season or something young man?"
The little boy was squirming and squealing and trying to run, but Eric was holding the back of his jacket so those little legs were pumping in earnest but going nowhere. He wrapped his arms around the small boy in a hug and said, "Ben, you are going to be so cool when you grow up."
Ben stopped trying to get away and turned over to straddle Eric's chest. "I'm cool? What's that?"
Eric re-zipped part of the insulated jacket. "You are smart. You have a great sense of humor and you just know things. You are going to have a lot of girlfriends."
"Eww….girls…." Ben stuck out his tongue.
Eric laughed, "You say that now…."
Ben leaned down until his was nose to nose with Eric. Those bright green eyes were looking intently and then a pudgy finger was touching his face. "Dad."
"What is it Ben?"
The four-year old smiled. "You came home daddy."
The baths were done and the kids were tucked in for the night and Jackie was sitting in front of the fireplace wearing her flannel pajamas. Two hot cups Suisse Mocha were sitting on the coffee table. Jackie smiled when Eric entered wearing some much worn sweat pants and a soft tee shirt.
"How is it that you three men went fishing and I get a grouper from Piggly Wiggly?" Jackie teased.
Eric flopped down on the couch beside her. "Fez. It was his idea…we really just sat around and smoked a bit."
Jackie scooted on the sofa until she was under his arm and against his ribs, "I know. Did you think you could hide something like that from us girls?"
Eric was aghast. "You knew this whole time?"
She laughed, "Brooke knows….Laurie….we all know you guys need to blow off some steam and that Steven sends you special packages once in a while….it's okay to have fun."
He gave her a hug and was rewarded with the scent of vanilla and lavender. "The guys told me about W.B. I don't think I ever really understood what happened."
Jackie tried to shrug it off. "He became such a private person…he didn't want anyone to know he was getting sick and when Angie and Steven started the business in a big way…well, he was proud. They don't expect him to last to the end of this year, but they said that last year, so you know….we need to save up for a flight. Angie and Steven…they are our friends and they'll need us there – especially your parents."
Again, this was something Donna would have never considered. Unless of course there was a story in it! Eric dropped a kiss on her nose. "You are the best."
She turned her face up for a kiss. "Of course! " She smiled and whispered, "Say it."
Eric squeezed her hands, "You are perfect."
She smiled. "Sorry….wrong again." Pushing off of the cushions, Jackie took her cup into the kitchen leaving Eric to wonder what he said wrong for the second time.
Eric folded his pillow in half and rolled on his side to look at Jackie. She pretended to be asleep but he could tell by her uneven breathing that it was a ruse. Whatever he said apparently wasn't what she wanted to hear. He needed to make this right.
"Hey faker." He whispered.
She turned her head to the side and sighed. "What."
Eric reached out and touched the satiny skin on her cheek. "Tell me again why we got married."
Jackie rolled on her side and poked him in the chest. "Because we are soul mates. You were the one that told me the story. And I believed you."
This was definitely something Eric didn't remember. "Tell me again? I mean from a girl's perspective….like if Farrah asked you."
Jackie smiled softly and rose up on an elbow. "You told me about Plato and basically his version about how people used to have four arms and four legs and one head. Yeah, I was confused about that too. You said that the men were children of the sun and the girls were children of the earth and then Zeus decided to split the humans in half as punishment for having great strength."
Eric was impressed. "You really listened to me?"
Jackie nodded in the dim light. "I always listen to you. Anyways, Apollo sewed the people back up land said that when the two halves found each other again, there would be an unspoken understanding of one another and they would feel unified and would know great joy. Thus…soul mates."
Eric moved a lock of curly brunette hair back over her shoulder, "Soul mates." It felt good on his tongue when he said it. She rolled over next to him and put his arm around her waist. "Anyways, even if you made it up, I still believe it."
Eric was still smiling over the revelation:… "I always listen to you" She loved this version of Eric Forman – the world's luckiest guy. "Can I kiss you?"
Jackie rolled back, "Do you have to ask?"
He smiled, "Just want to make sure."
Her hands framed his face, "Eric, we are a family and this is what love is. Get used to it." And she punctuated the statement by a kiss so hot that his ears burned and left no doubt that this was real. Really really real.
He whispered, "I love you."
Jackie smiled then. The most brilliant smile he had even seen. "You said it." She whispered.
He frowned. "I did?"
Jackie threw her head back and laughed. "Yes! You did and I didn't have to ask. See babe? That wasn't so hard was it?"
Eric held her slim form and laughed, "No…it was easy and I'm sorry if I didn't say it often enough."
She kissed his nose, "I forgive you. I know Donna hurt you all those years ago, but you should know me well enough that I will always love you."
Eric closed his eyes as those words touched his heart. Donna had always hurt him in some way despite his love for her. But this Jackie – his wife – she loved him and forgave him.
What a lovely sentiment.