Starlight Starbright

09 – Time is On Your Side

Chapter 09– Time is On Your Side

Eric went to sleep thinking about the tragedies of Midge and Bob and woke up to a tangle of arms and legs and baby breath on his cheek. He opened one eye to see little Harry smiling at him who promptly poked him in the cheek. "Da." He said quietly.

Eric regarded the little boy and without waking Jackie, pulled Harry up on to his chest. "Dude, I think it might be time to start potty training you."

Harry smiled and pointed at a sleeping Jackie. "Mommy."

Eric brushed the hair away from Jackie's face and confirmed the little boy's statement. "Yep. That's your mom." Eric tickled the little tummy. "Harry. You are Harry."

He smiled and leaned forward to leave a wet sloppy kiss on Eric's cheek. "Oh-kay…thank you for that wonderful but gross present. Let's go make some coffee and Eggos."

Harry clapped his hands and motioned that he wanted to get off the bed. Eric held his pudgy little hand as Harry slid down to the floor. Jackie groaned and put the pillow over her head, "He's cutting a new tooth….I was up all night

Well, that explained the extra drool and why there was a baby in bed! "I'll make coffee."

Jackie reached out a hand and grabbed his wrist, "Make it strong."

Harry was sitting in the high chair gnawing on a frozen waffle while Eric spooned sugar into his coffee. The weatherman predicted snow and more of it. When was he supposed to go to work? He was a teacher…okay….what school? It was time to start snooping into this Eric's life.

A 1989 calendar on the wall reminded him that Christmas Eve was on Sunday and this was the day after and it was only Tuesday so if he was a teacher he'd probably go back to work the next Monday. There should be something….a lesson plan….homework to grade…he opened and closed drawers in the kitchen and moved on into the den until he found what must have been this Eric Forman's work space.

There was a three-ring binder full of notes written in his own handwriting filled with class projects and schedules and upcoming parent teacher meetings – oh crap! The only parent he sorta knew was that Larry guy…..Minnie! This was something he'd have to really examine later in the week.

If he was still in this time zone!

"Hey baby, what are you doing?" A sleepy-eyed Jackie was framed in the doorway with a cup of hot coffee and pushing her bed hair out of her face. Why did that seem so sexy? Hell, because it was! He was a man dammit, and she was gorgeous. He nearly tripped over his tongue.

"I…I…forgot to check my lesson plans." He hoped that was a true statement.

Jackie smiled and walked over to the bookcase behind him. She pulled out a pile of Grade 3 Composition Books filled with notes. "I think you are introducing the little kiddies to James and the Giant Peach and continuing the Primary Mathematics 1A or so you said at dinner last week. Eric, I thought we agreed not to talk about work during the Christmas holiday."

Eric managed to look sheepish and joked feebly, "You know me….and my students."

Jackie smiled and squeezed his hand, "Yes I do and I do. Let's get breakfast going okay?"

Eric lost the chance he had to find out more about how he earned a living and did Jackie say she worked at the mall? That was true to form! He smiled and took her hand, pirouetting the brunette through the door and into the kitchen.

The day passed quickly. Eric was on the phone talking with his mother on the pretense that he needed some addresses for thank you cards when in reality, he just wanted to hear his mom's laugh. He missed her more than he thought was possible and if he only had just this last day…. he wanted to tell Kitty Forman that she was the best mother in the world.

While Jackie took little Harry to the grocery store, Eric called his office in Chicago to find out there was no, and never had been an Eric Forman employed there. It was a bit daunting to find his successes in journalism were never realized in this little piece of life. He wandered around the house looking at more pictures hoping to see him in something he recognized.

There was a tug on his shirt-tail. "Daddy….this makes you laugh."

Eric looked down to see Ben holding an armful of videocassettes. Eric knelt down, "What are these buddy?"

Ben smiled, "It's us."

Eric picked a cassette out of the pile and it had a handwritten title, "Ben's Third Birthday." Eric could feel his heart thumping – maybe there was something in there! The next movie was "Wedding Day – The Forman's." Well, that would hopefully explain a lot!

"C'mon Ben, let's watch movies!"

It turned out that this Eric Forman was one hell of a romantic guy! Where did he learn to Cha-Cha? Was Jackie Burkhart always that gorgeous and he just failed to acknowledge it? (Probably) The "…you may kiss the bride…" kiss was at least three minutes long and according to Eric's videoed face, it was a good one. Kelso, apparently the best man, was giving him two thumbs up and grinning.

Red was dancing a two-step with his mother which made Ben laugh. Brooke was drunk and leaning heavily on Hyde (Hyde was there?) who looked just as natural at a wedding reception as he did in the Forman basement.

Leo was dancing with one of Kelso's sisters, obviously the slutty one and Fez was trying to dip a cup in the chocolate fountain. Whoever was holding the camera gave a microphone to Pam Macy and she slurred, "I knew Jackie….Jackie got married? Where the hell was I?"

The mike was passed to Kitty who stopped and smiled, checked her lipstick and looked back at the camera. "Hello you two lovebirds! This was such a romantic wedding and if I have to lose my baby boy….well, there better be a couple of grandchildren to make up for it! Ahahahaha….Red…here, talk to the camera."

In the background, Eric could hear his dad, "I'm not talking to some damn camera." Suddenly, there was his dad's face with his little bits of hair and he was smiling. "Okay son I only have four words for you to have a perfect marriage. Don't. Be. A. Dumbass."

Off camera, Red groaned, "Are you happy now? It's an open bar and I need another drink."

Ben pointed excitedly at the fountain as Eric watched an open-mouthed Fez stick his entire head under the cascading chocolate. Ben laughed, "Ooompa Loompa!"

Eric chucked and felt a little bit of….what was this? Pride? Pride that Benjamin Forman knew what an Ooompa Loompa was and that was the perfect name for a chocolate covered Fez!

By the time Jackie returned from shopping, Eric learned a lot about the man he could have been. He did indeed help Jack Burkhart with the Habitat for Humanity building project but often suffered a banged up thumb or two! He also got frequent speeding tickets in his 280Z but this Eric did smile more.

He was loved by everyone and that included his sister who popped into a video after the wedding one with a four-year old in tow. Little doppelganger Laurie was adorable and she loved her uncle Eric. Fortunately there were no birthing videos, just some more tapes of Ben's major accomplishments: first tooth, sitting up by himself, first steps…saying dada and all the while, Eric smiled.

"Oh! You're watching home movies!" Jackie exclaimed. "Did you see the one of your surprise birthday?"

Eric frowned, "Uh…no? I only watched the ones Ben gave me."

Jackie patted his cheek, "Well….maybe because it's rated "R" if you know what I mean….I'll get it for you later."

She went back into the kitchen leaving Eric to ponder what would be rated "R" in the Point Place version of Eric Forman's life.

Must be pretty damn good if it was made into a video!

Eric spent the next day with Harry while Ben was visiting the pediatrician for his regularly scheduled appoints and immunizations. At first, Eric protested spending the morning with a baby (clearly he was unqualified) but Jackie assured him he was a great dad and there was nothing he couldn't handle.

Well it was true….at least until little Harry found and ate two orange crayons. That was not going to be pretty coming out! Harry was half walking-crawling and that kid could get around fast! Eric spent a lot of time playing hide-and-seek because the kid wouldn't stay in one place. Promises of cookies didn't seem to work – Harry Forman loved to play and when Eric bit the bullet and started acting like a kid himself…things just got better from there.

That's how Jackie found them. Both males were sitting on the kitchen floor banging on upturned pots with wooden spoons to the tune of….was that..Devo's Whip It? She giggled softly and watched as the two faces, so much alike was wailing away like rock stars.

The week seemed to fly by and suddenly it was Friday night and Eric was up to his elbows in bubbles giving Harry his bath. Jackie was helping Ben read "The Pokey Little Puppy" while he was snuggled in his pajamas when she heard a soft baritone voice singing Chicago's "You're my Inspiration".

Baby, you're the meaning in my life... You're the inspiration, You bring feeling to my life, You're the inspiration

Jackie leaned against Ben's doorway and watched Eric rocking their son to sleep. How many husbands were this sweet? When he discovered he'd been caught singing, Eric pressed a finger to his lips and pointed to the sleeping baby. Wordlessly, Jackie crossed the carpeted floor and kissed the side of his mouth. She pressed her lips to his ear and whispered," I love you too."

He still felt the press of cheek against his and wondered why it felt so real. So natural. It was true, they got along famously and in this moment, it did feel like he had known her forever and not just when she was younger or in this short crazy episode of his life. He actually liked be a dad and wondered if Red Forman ever had feelings like this. He was a part of a family and that was something he had always envisioned for himself. A family he had been working his ass off to afford when or if Donna decided to marry him.

Yet, this little family was his. In the here and now, they were his.

If he woke up here tomorrow, he would be a better husband.

Saturday began with the sun shining into the bedroom. Eric was spooned against the warm familiar body he'd become accustomed to over the last few days. As he fell asleep the night before, he had resigned himself that he would never go back to the Chicago penthouse and strangely enough, it didn't really bother him! The sounds of little green-eyed munchkins were filtering through the walls.

Eric kissed Jackie's cheek and laughed, "I know. Coffee…and lots of it!"

Eric had a feeling this was going to be a great Saturday!

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