A/N: Just so we're clear, this story has nothing to do with the Katy Perry Song "The One That Got Away", other than the title being a play-on-words of the song title. Also, this story is based around the events of the season 6 episode Squeezebox, where Pam Burkhart is moving in with Bob, Donna, and Jackie. Enjoy!
Point Place, Wisconsin
Location: Donna Pinciotti's House
Jackie pulled the piece of wood from under the break in the ceiling, sending the attic stairs flying out in the hallways. Stunned, the beauty queen jumped back, as dust accumulated around her, filling her lungs and causing her body to send out a cough—a loud cough.
Great, she thought. Just great.
It was too early in the morning, she'd argued. Besides, her mom could care less if the house was clean or not.
If has to be perfect, because she's perfect, was Bob Pinciotti's answer.
Jackie couldn't argue, she didn't know what to say to that. Even if she wanted to, Bob didn't give her a chance to answer before he pushed her up the stairs.
And that, in short, is how at seven thirty in the morning, Jackie Burkhart had been forced to drag herself out of bed and clean the Pinciotti's home.
Wait—Jackie Burkhart, clean a house? Those words could never be used in the same sentence, unless the word "doesn't" was in between them. But here she was, climbing up the stairs into the attic.
She didn't get it, not one bit. Why did her mother—Pam—have to be with Bob? It was creepy, disturbing, unpleasant, to name a few. She'd been used to her mom having weird live-in boyfriends, but why Bob? Why did her mother have to date her best friend's father? Why did she have to be with him right across the hall from where she was trying to sleep?
It was probably the weirdest place she could be cleaning, the attic. After all, her mom could care less what it looked like. There were better places she could be more of a help in, like arranging the clothes in Donna's closet by color, article of clothing, material, and its scale on the hot factor. There was more of a chance her mother would look there than in the attic. But Donna wouldn't allow anyone to touch anything in her closet—at least, on her side of it. Donna had taken out all of her clothes and turned it into wedding central, and Bob would be damned if he'd made his little girl clean. Kitty was cleaning the kitchen for him, as well as the living room since Red was too stubborn to clean it and opted to help bring in Pam's stuff later with Hyde. He himself couldn't even believe he'd agreed to do anything to help Bob, but he attributed it to knowing that with Pam around more, Bob would stop annoying him and soon he'd be out of his life for good
So that left the attic—a large room of darkness, nothingness that Jackie was left to explore. Donna had insisted Jackie still had some of her junk in the attic, even though Jackie knew she would never store her precious things in such a rotten place like that. Well, except for…
The attic was stuffy and dark, you couldn't see anything. She'd been here before so many times before, it was one of the few places she and Hyde could escape to and they knew they'd be alone—who would check the attic? Surely this lovely girl wouldn't go up there.
Slowly, Jackie felt her away around the room. She stepped two feet away from the ladder, there was the ratty, old couch she and Hyde would… lay on. Then the broken side table with Hyde's ultra secret stash followed by boxes upon boxes of Christmas decorations. Old baby toys and clothes were stacked all the way in one corner of the room and random items were strewn across the rest of the floor.
So much for there not being anything up here, Jackie thought.
She picked up a flashlight off the couch where Hyde had left if the last time they snuck up into the room. Obviously, she was just going to waste time up here to avoid helping out anymore, but there was something she wanted to find, something she'd hidden away so long ago…
Jackie made her way into one of the corners of the surprisingly large attic, falling down to her knees, careful to pick a spot that wouldn't ruin her satin pajamas. There was a tiny hole in the wall, a hole where the secrets of the past no one wanted anyone to find out could hide. But, for now, only an old jewelry box, with the initials JBB inscribed in script, was hidden in the tiny place. Reaching in, Jackie took it out and carried it to the shabby couch. She ran her fingers over its top, blowing off the dust and then proceeded to unlock it, the contents spilling out.
There were no gold or silver necklaces, nor bracelets or earrings, inside of the jewelry box, only pieces of paper where Jackie had concealed her secrets so long ago. Secrets of past loves, of heartache, of lessons learned, of sad endings and of new beginnings. Secrets she'd hidden in a box, in her best friend's attic, so no one would ever know them besides her. Unless she wanted them to. But if she wanted anyone to know her secrets, she'd decided, she'd write them in a diary and it out in the open for anyone to read like Donna did.
The first "secret" she lifted out of the box was a poem she'd written in her junior year of high school. It was a poem she used to bid farewell to a past that she used to think would lead into a future. It was a poem that earned her an A+ in English class that year, one that would make even Donna proud… if she ever read it. It gave Jackie closure for something she'd never wanted to end, but she'd already found out that summer that a bigger, brighter future was waiting for her… waiting for her in Eric's basement, with a beer can in his hand, a Rolling Stones T-Shirt, and love she was yet to experience.
Goodbye by Jacqueline Burkhart.
Goodbye to the person I once loved so much…
I thought that first night we spent together meant something to you
To both of us
I thought it meant we'd be together forever
I thought you were as committed as I was
I was just a foolish girl, following you and your every need and command
But now I must say goodbye
You ruined it all
You were there one day and gone the next
You were loving and caring, then rude and deceitful
But I still believed you
I still wanted you
I still needed you
I said goodbye to us first,
Because of a mistake that we both made
And I was idiotic to think we could get back together,
But you hadn't said goodbye to your old ways just yet
I wanted something you didn't, and that's how it finally ended
With just a quick goodbye
And now I have someone else,
Someone that will always be loving and caring, never rude and deceitful like you will always be
Now all of my past dreams are just distant memories now
I have someone better on my side now,
He will never say goodbye to me
Someone who will treat me the way I deserve to be treated
So goodbye forever,
Though I know part of my heart will never be able to say goodbye,
Goodbye to the person I once wanted to spend forever with
Whoa, she thought. The letter had caught her off guard. Jackie could barely even remember writing it and… was that a tear coming from her eye? No, she brushed it away, it couldn't be. She had to be tough. She had no reason to be crying, none at all.
But, then again, maybe she did. Jackie hadn't thought about her relationship with Kelso in such a long time (well… maybe not that long), but he was out of her life for good now… wasn't he? She'd written in that letter that she had someone better with her now, that Michael Kelso and Jackie Burkhart weren't two things to be grouped together anymore.
Jackie picked up the next piece of paper with the hopes of finding a happier memory, it was another poem. One where she'd written everything she'd learned in life, from past relationships, from best friends, from growing up…
I've learned that being patient is one of the hardest things to do,
But it's also one of the easiest.
I've learned you need to be prepared for whatever life throws out at you.
I've learned that taking a risk may hurt you,
But it might just be the best solution to some things.
I've learned that it's easiest to endure life when you have someone by your side through it all.
I've learned that sometimes you just need to forgive and forget,
Even though it's hard to do.
I've learned life isn't anything like it is in movies,
Even though that would be amazing.
I've learned that, as much as you want them to, not everyone is going to love you,
Especially in the way you want them to.
I've learned that it's okay to cry every once in a while.
I've learned that you can't make yourself fall in love with someone,
And you can't make anyone else fall in love with you.
I've learned that when you find the one you love, you should never let them go.
I've learned to love someone for all they are,
Not what they aren't or never will be.
I've learned that sometimes the people who say I love you don't mean it,
And sometimes the ones that don't really do.
I've learned it's not about what you do,
But what's going to happen when you do it.
I've learned that friends are the ones who see your faults and love you anyway.
I've learned that everyone is responsible for their own future,
And others may be responsible for your past.
I've learned you need to be honest to earn respect,
But earning respect isn't so easy to do.
I've learned that being yourself is hard to embrace.
I've learned to appreciate what I have now,
It might be gone tomorrow.
Jackie couldn't read anymore, she just couldn't. She looked down at the box in her lap, it was stuffed with scraps of paper, with past thoughts she needed to read. There was one in particular that she wanted to read. It was a mushy letter, but one of her favorites. Jackie had started it out by writing it about one thing, one person, and it turned out to be about someone completely different. It was one that she'd written from her heart, deep down to where her true feelings were…
I love you more than anyone else will know and it's still weird that I do. When I'm with you, everything feels right; you're there to protect me, forever and always. When I think of you, I catch myself because it's really hard to believe I do love you. I'm extremely grateful that I'm yours, even if it might only be just for now. If I was never with you, I would have missed out on someone so amazing and you've touched my life so much more than anyone else. I've never met anyone as perfect as you. I've never met anyone I can just lay with and have the stupidest conversations with, and then walk away knowing that I have learned something, who needs me as much as I need him, who gets me so much but doesn't fully know that he does. You're kind, understanding, and patient with me when you need to be, and tough and outspoken only when it's necessary. You know exactly how to make me feel better, especially when I don't feel I deserve anyone, anything. I know that you annoy me and I know that being patient for something farther than a relationship isn't exactly getting me anywhere fast, but I've become a better person because I've known you, and that's all I could ever ask for. I used to wonder, with every guy that came along, if they would be my Prince Charming that I've been dreaming about my entire life, and I've finally found him: you. Though you're not exactly the princely type to others, you are to me because you treat me like the princess I am and deserve to be treated as. It used to be fun just to drift away from reality and into my dreams, but now the dreams I once thought would never happen are my reality and I can put my past thoughts behind me. I don't care what our friends say, I don't care that our relationship shouldn't have really happened in the first place, I don't care that I wasn't the first person you ever fully gave yourself to or vice versa. All I know is that I'm in love with you and I'm always going to be in love with you, Steven Hyde. Forever and always.
Oh, it was mushy alright. But reading this letter actually did give her closure, someone did love her. There was a reason for coming up the stairs. Jackie hadn't been looking for anything, she hadn't expected to have a feeling intervention and she hadn't felt sorrowful before this, but this letter gave her hope. Hope for a life of dreams come true, of wonder, of full-out love.
"Jackie!" Donna's loud voice called up the stairs. "Are you coming down into reality any time soon?"
Jackie nearly jumped out of her skin. She did need to come back into reality because this grimy attic with whatever secrets it did hold wasn't going to be a safe haven forever. Quickly, she stashed the box back into its corner, waiting for her the next time she needed a way to escape the life that was dominating her, to forget all the ones that got away.
"Yeah," she yelled back, descending back down the stairs ever-so carefully. "I'll be right there."