06 - Time to Adjust
Chapter 06 – Time to Adjust
All Eric could say was it was the most satisfying quickie of his life. He didn't know a married couple could do that with such success! a while later, Jackie had rolled out of bed and was putting her hair into a ponytail and throwing on a Madison College sweatshirt. Eric pulled himself to a sitting position. "Hey where did you get that?"
She leaned over to pull on some anklets and replied,' Get what?"
Jackie smiled," You gave it to me silly. Okay, you let me borrow it but then you said it looked better on me and I just took it…why...do you want it back?"
Eric had to agree with his younger self – the fleece did look better on her slim frame that it had when he was in college. He patted the bed, "Come sit with me."
Jackie looked at him with a suspicious grin, "I'm NOT doing that again it that's what you're thinking of."
Eric didn't' know what THAT (she was referring to ) was, so he replied, "No….no, I just want to talk."
Pulling on some pants, Jackie laughed, "I have to cook dinner. The kids will be back anytime soon. Come in the kitchen and we'll talk."
Eric didn't want to get off the bed. He was relaxed and it was warm in here. Of course it was nothing like his other bedroom, but this place grew on him with its crazy beautiful colors and fat vanilla scented candles. He watched Jackie walk out of the room and wanted to think about all of his discoveries today but it just made his head ache all the more.
She was putting penne pasta into some boiling water and turned around with a bottle of Ragu. "Can you open the lid for me please?"
"What is it?" Curiously, Eric had never seen a jar of spaghetti sauce. His mom always made hers from fresh and it was already made when he and Donna ate at the little bistro. It opened with a *pop*
"I saw it on a commercial and thought we could try it. You know that leftover chicken from last night?"
Eric didn't, but nodded like he did. Jackie smiled, "Well, I'm making Chicken Cacciatore…sort of. The real recipe is too complicated. Sit and we can talk."
Eric certainly hoped that Chicken Cacciatore was nothing like Chicken Pinciotti! Still, he took a seat at the oak table next to the high chair. "Jackie….why did we get married?"
Jackie frowned, "You don't remember?"
Eric shrugged. "Pretend I'm a stranger and tell me about it." Jackie was silent as she stirred the jar of sauce into the pot. "It was about three months after I graduated Jr. College and I was working at the mall and I was really sad. It was my birthday and no one remembered. I mean I used to make such a big deal about getting presents and everything but it was my 24th birthday."
Eric watched as her tiny hands tore the leftover chicken and dropped it into the pot. "Anyways, I was working at J.C. Penny's putting up a display of sweaters and I turned around and there you stood holding a pink Hostess snowball cupcake with a candle in it." Her hand covered her heart. "I almost cried because of all the people in the world, it was you, Eric Forman, who remembered it was my birthday."
Even Eric couldn't believe he'd do such a corny thing for someone he never personally cared a lot about. "Well…..a birthday is a birthday." He replied glibly.
Jackie smiled at some old memory and spoke softly. "Well, Donna had gotten this really good job offer with the New York Times and you came back from Madison with your teaching degree….I was really impressed that you guys weren't sniping at each other anymore. Anyways, you would usually stop by the Food Court on the weekends and we'd talk about everything and sometimes nothing at all…."
"I'm a teacher." He said just to reaffirm what he had learned hours earlier.
Jackie nodded, "A good one too. We put your award over the fireplace. Your dad was so proud. Anyways, back to the Food Court…."
"Ah yeah…the Food Court….continue." he smiled.
"You asked me on a date."
She laughed, "You did. And the strange thing was that I said yes. It turned out that we both really had a lot in common and having gone to college and growing up made us much better people. We fell in love so easily that I didn't' think it was true and then you asked me to marry you and I knew it was real."
"Tell me about Ben."
Jackie pulled out a chair. "Ben was a surprise. I mean we wanted kids but later. We wanted to get a house and pay off the cars but that little boy….I think we were married for two months before I got pregnant. You have some strong swimmers!"
Eric could feel his face get hot. "So Ben was born. Didn't you ever want a girl?"
"What? Just so you could name her Leia?" Jackie laughed, "You are fortunate I let you name our first born after a Star Wars character at all!"
Strangely, Eric felt honored. "You did that? Why didn't we name him Luke?"
Jackie rolled her eyes, "Because Luke is the son of Darth and you decided to name him after Obi-Wan. Remember? From the first movie they called him Old Ben Kenobi?
That was pretty cool – Donna never would have named a child after a Star Wars character! "What about Harry?"
Jackie giggled, "I had this huge crush on Indiana Jones. Sometimes, some of us girls would sneak into the theater and watch The Temple of Doom from the back….Indy...was so handsome. Hence, Harrison Jackson, Jackson is after my dad…you know what? He called for you."
Eric almost choked. "Your dad called me from prison?"
"Don't make me laugh again. You know Daddy got out of prison a few years ago! You've been helping him with the Habitat for Humanity project in Kenosha and mom always makes you guys lunch which you always throw away."
Eric had to pause to digest this. He was a son-in-law to Jack and Pam Burkhart? Pam "I'm in Cancun" and Jack "The Embezzler" was out of prison? Fez took his kids to see Santa? What a wild and wacky day this was!
"Anyways, Daddy invited us over for a New Year's Eve party. His probation officer will be there and Betsy will babysit."
"Eric! Why are you acting all clueless! Of course Betsy. She comes over on our Date Night every month, how could you forget?"
Date Night – what an original concept. A guaranteed night for lovemaking. He was going to have to remember this conversation! "I'm sorry, I guess I got a lot on my mind."
Before he could apologize, there was a car horn honking in the driveway and Jackie was throwing a coat at him. "Let's go get the kids."
Jackie ran to the driver's side of the car and quickly unbuckled the car seat. "Thanks you guys….Eric came home late."
The door opened and Eric looked up to see Fez giving him a dirty look. "You ruined my Christmas Eve Eric. I will tell Red all about this!"
Eric blinked. That was Fez? A 30-year old Fez? But even more astonishing was his sister in the passenger seat. His mouth suddenly went dry. "La…Laurie? What are you doing here?"
Laurie stepped out of the silver Ford Tempo and smirked, "You are still number two little brother and what am I doing here? Taking your kids to see Santa Claus. Fezzie and I were going to take Farrah to see Sesame Street on Ice but NO, you couldn't get your lazy ass home in time. By the way, you owe my husband thirty bucks for the tickets."
"Farrah?" he said dumbly.
From the back seat, out popped a four foot tall, tanned version of Laurie when she was a kid. "Hi Uncle Eric. Grandpa says you're a dumbass but I don't think so!"
"Uh….thanks?" Eric was gobsmacked. Fez and Laurie had a daughter? Astonishingly, his sister looked good considering it had been over eleven years since he'd seen her. Impulsively, he stepped forward and gave Laurie a hug.
She shrugged it off complaining," You're not getting out of this Eric. If you want me and Farrah to forgive you there's going to be some groveling from you!" That certainly sounded familiar!
Fez was waiting with his hands on his hips. "Where's my hug you bastard?"
Eric laughed with pleasure and walked around the front of the car to give his old friend a hug. Fez whispered, "Don't forget this weekend….the fishing shack!"
Before Eric could ask what that was all about the little four year old gnome came running around the back of the car, "Daddy! Santa's gonna get me a bike!"
Jackie winked at Eric over the hood of Fez's car. Eric stooped and held the little boy by the shoulders, "A bike? Are you ready for such a big responsibility?"
Ben nodded his head excitedly, "Aunt Laurie is getting me train wheels so I don't tip over!"
Jackie came around holding a bundled up Harry in her arms. "Eric, let's go in the house so your sister and brother-in-law can take your niece home." She enunciated the words clearly so Eric wouldn't hold up the party. "We still have dinner."
She waved to Fez and Laurie, "See you guys tomorrow! Tell Kitty I'm bringing a casserole!"
Eric blinked. He was going to see his folks tomorrow? Shit, when was the last time he talked to them without bragging about his or Donna's accomplishments? This was going to be so awkward!
The stockings hung above the blazing fire. Harry fell asleep in Eric's arms midway through "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and it was oddly disconcerting how nice those little puffs of warm baby breath felt on his neck. Jackie leaned over and kissed Eric on the cheek. "I'm putting Ben to bed and then I'll come get Harry."
Christmas 1989 was over. Again. Eric was slightly saddened by the thought that when he woke up tomorrow, he wouldn't see his parents, he wouldn't be here to piss off Laurie and Fez and he wouldn't get sex again for a long time! He kinda liked this little domestic interlude. "Okay, I'll lock up."
Eric walking through each room, turning off lights and locking doors; as he made the rounds in each room there were tons of pictures of this little Forman family and they looked happy. Not just "smile for the camera" happy but actually in love kind of happy. There was pride in this Eric's eyes when he looked at his children and those arms around Jackie weren't just for show – they clearly cared about each other.
A sad shadow of his life since yesterday.
Eric turned off the kitchen light and by the time he made it to the bedroom, Jackie was fast asleep.
He felt a lump in his throat. Strangely enough, he was going to miss this too!