All Aboard the Friendship!
Notes: PG. Just a bit of fun I had when I was into Jackie/Hyde, but thought Eric and Jackie had great potential for chemistry within their friendship.
"Eric, I… something's wrong."
It was two o'clock in the morning, and Eric was recovering from five hours of dehydration, an unfortunate side effect of getting too stoned to walk straight and eating a pound of plain salted crackers. His head was pounding, the pitcher of water beside his bed was empty and he banged his hand on the corner of the desk as he attempted to answer the phone. Even with all that suffering, he still hadn't gotten any action. None! Instead of pitying his drug-induced plight, Donna had smacked him over the head, threatened to kick his ass later and stormed off. It took him a full ten minutes to realise his offering to lick her toes hadn't gone down so well. So, to sum up, Eric was tired, frustrated, thirsty and was in no mood to take phone calls from breathy-voiced weirdos at two o'clock in the morning.
"What? Who is this? What?"
Eric blinked, rubbing one eye with the palm of his hand and yawning, "Sorry, bad reception, who is this?"
"Jackie!" she said desperately.
"Eric! Quit being such a moron!"
"Why are you under some kind of delusion that I enjoy getting phone calls from you at two in the morning… on second thoughts, why are you under the delusion that I enjoy getting phone calls from you… ever?"
"God, you're even obnoxious when you're half-asleep!" she said shrilly, hurting his ears.
"Listen, Jackie," he snapped, annoyed, "either become naked Donna, tell me what you want, or go away!"
"Eric, ew! You're such a pig!"
"No, I'm… I'm lost," she said finally, her voice small.
"…" he answered inarticulately, furrowing his brow.
"Sorry, you're lost? Like… metaphorically?" he said slowly, now rubbing his temple.
"No, doofus, I'm actually lost! As in, I don't know where I am, as in…"
"Where?" he asked stupidly, regretting the question instantly, then regretting it even more as she began to cry. "Aw, c'mon Jackie, it wasn't that dumb a thing to say."
"I'm not crying 'cause you're a loser Eric!" she said thickly, "I'm crying 'cause I'm lost and it's dark and I don't know where I am!"
"Okay, feel around a bit. If your hand comes into contact with something soft, you're probably in the closet again."
"Ugghh! Why can't you be nice to me for once? I've just found out Hyde is an asshole, my car was towed and I'm too scared to leave this phone box!"
A pang of guilt hit Eric unexpectedly hard in the chest. He'd forgotten the whole Hyde-cheating-on-Jackie thing.
"Well, Donna's… ooh, d'you think she'll be mad?"
"Nah," he said sarcastically, "why would she? I mean, you only LOST HER CAR!"
"Eric," she answered condescendingly, "I didn't lose her car, it got towed. Remember?"
"How could I forget?" he moaned, leaning back and covering his eyes with his arm.
"Can you pick me up?" she asked abruptly, her voice shaking again.
"Why me?" he said, asking God rather than Jackie.
"I… don't really know anyone else who can drive…"
"I have Donna's car," Jackie interrupted, "I would rather throw my pink cashmere sweater in a puddle of mud than ask Michael, and I would rather die than… ask Ste-Hyde anything."
He noticed the slip but didn't comment on it, even thought various 'great' burns entered his head, such as: 'Steehyde? Who the hell is Steehyde?' He almost laughed at his own wit.
"Jackie… how can I pick you up if *you* don't know where you are?"
She let out a sigh of relief, but her voice was steady, "All I can see is… Magda's Home Cooking…"
Crap. "It wouldn't happen to have 'oday's secial, roast bef' written underneath in big, black letters, would it?"
"Uh…" she paused, "yeah! It does! Is that a good thing?" she finished eagerly, and he let out a long breath of air between his teeth, "Eric?"
"You so owe me. I'll be there in about two hours, go inside and sit down, but whatever you do, do *not* go to the bathroom."
"But Eric," she whined, "there's really *bad* music coming out of there! And there are serious crimes against flannel going on! And…"
"You so owe me," he repeated, hanging up.
The last thing Eric expected to see when he walked into the diner was Jackie doing a rather appalling rendition of Stairway to Heaven. Luckily, she was just finishing, so he took a stool by the dilapidated kareoke stage and put his hands casually over his ears.
"…And she's buuying a stairway… to heav-en…" she finished dramatically, tossing her hair over her shoulder. Jackie beamed as tremulous applause broke out from the table of bikers, who catcalled and whistled. She preened under the attention, bowing and laughing like a princess. It made Eric sick.
He approached the stage, "Jackie, come on…"
"Eric!" she said brightly, as if she wasn't stranded in the middle of nowhere where the sanest person in the room was an eighty-year-old woman called Magda who served food cooked in dog hairs.
"Let's go, Jackie, get off the stage."
"No Eric, I wanna do one more…"
"Jackie," he said warningly. He was severely pissed off right now, and she really wasn't helping.
"Oh pleeeease! I'll just do a Beatles song, those are short."
"If you don't get off the stage right now, I'm leaving," he snapped, fighting off fatigue to put anger in his voice.
"Fine!" she huffed, "Casey and Moose said they could take me home anyway!" She pointed in the direction of two heavy built bikers who nodded at him in greeting. His eyes widened.
"Man, you're stupid," he said in awe, watching as she raised her chin and began to sing.
"It's been a haard day's ni—" Thankfully, she was cut off by her own gasp of shock and he grinned happily.
"Eric!" she screeched, "put me down!"
He'd thrown her, caveman style, over his shoulder, "No. Eric sad. Eric take Jackie home then beat to pulp," he said gruffly, carrying her towards the exit.
She pummelled his back with tiny fists, making an exaggerated noise of frustration, "You… you… FREAK! Put me down! I was singing! PUT. ME. DOWWN!"
Jackie ranted and wiggled, but Eric kept walking. He found it odd, though not very, that nobody was even attempting to help the young, innocent girl who was obviously being dragged out of there against her will. But he shrugged to himself and Jackie punched him extra hard in the coccyx.
"Doofus! Why'd you shoulder me in the stomach, that hurt!" And, sensing a weakness, she punched the same spot again.
"Ungrateful wench," he muttered, his step faltering a bit as he reached the car. He pulled the door open and dumped her inside. Instead of dodging round him and making a dash for the painfully cliché diner as he expected, and half-hoped she would, she just crossed her arms and huffed, letting him slam the door with only a slight flinch.
Jackie tried the silent treatment for awhile, which was totally fine by him, but she got bored with that and tried her much more effective yelling tactic. "Why did you *have* to do that," she said in a very pissed-off voice, "you totally embarrassed me in there!"
"Oh, yeah, I'm sure Killer and Mad Dog will never look at you the same way again!"
"Casey and Moose!" she corrected.
"Don't try that crap on me, Fordman, I worked with the best."
"Listen, are you mentally challenged or something? Those guys were not interested in giving you a ride home, they were only interested in giving you a ride period."
Eric felt the temperature drop. "What is that supposed to mean?"
He shifted nervously, "You know what I… I don't need this crap, alright? In case you're forgetting, I came out here for you, I'm doing you a favour, and if this is the way you show gratitude, remind me never to do you a favour again."
"Fine! I will!" she retorted lamely, "next time I need help I'll ask…"
"No!" she bit her lip, "I'll ask…"
"Who?" he demanded.
"I'll ask… nobody," she finished, then burst out crying.
"Ah, crap," he said, pulling over on the dirt track and stopping the engine. "Jackie, I'm… no wait, I'm not… well, I'm sorry I came, specifically to avoid moments like these actually… but, see the point is…" He shook his head, realising he didn't have a point.
She buried her face in her hands and started crying harder, "Ohhh, Eric. It hurts so bad. It was sooo much easier with Michael 'cause he could afford to buy me stuff, and, like, wasn't poor and… I expected stuff like that from him," choke, sob, "but Steven was nicer, and he had prettier eyes and I liked him better… and I feel so stupid, 'cause I keep getting this urge to go to him 'cause that's where I always go when things get bad. But now he's not good any more and he made me…"
"Shh," he said softly, "shut up now, yeah, it's okay, you can shut up…"
"Oh, Eric!" she said, throwing herself into his arms, "I still love Steven!"
Woah, what? "Woah, what? He said you said you didn't love him any more."
"I did," she said miserably, her voice muffled, "I didn't mean it, I just wanted him to… follow me, chase me…"
"He didn't," Eric said knowingly, patting her awkwardly on the back.
"He didn't," she agreed, "I think he just sat there… I waited for him in the hallway for about five minutes, though."
"Oh, burn," he said gently with no force behind it.
"Yeah, I thought so."
He rolled his eyes at what he was about to do, "Look, Jackie… this may not seem much, coming from me, but I think… he really cares about you, loves you even…"
She scoffed angrily, "Yeah, right. Whatever."
"I'm serious, Jackie. See Hyde… he has an inferiority complex, kinda. It's like a callous… no, no, just listen… it's like a callous, put heaps of pain on it, and it gets hard, nothing can penetrate it, yeah? But you did, Jackie, and Hyde wasn't expecting that. So he let it go on," his voice became darker, "deeper and deeper, driving into him, then BAM!" Jackie jumped, "something's stabbing him (still you by the way), so he puts a bandaid on it, a.k.a the hot nurse, and doesn't even bothertrying to take it out, y'know? But by then it's too late, he keeps putting bandaids on and taking painkillers, but the blood keeps gushing out and…"
"So," Jackie interrupted, "am I a knife or a scab?"
"A knife in the scab."
"Ah… and Steven sleeps around with lots of… bandaids."
He nodded, "I'm afraid so."
"But the bandaids…they just sit on the outside, yeah? Covering up wounds and stuff."
"But Eric," she said excitedly, sitting up on his lap, "I'm the knife! I'm the one that got through!"
"Jackie, I can honestly say that Hyde loves you more than a knife in his scab."
"Thank you, Eric!" she squealed, throwing her arms around him and hugging him.
"Um, yeah, okay, do you know what would be fun? Sitting in our own seats, yeah, whoo!"
"Of course…" she said, once again treating him like he was infectious and almost leaping off him. "Um, Eric? Thanks for coming."
"Oh, and… don't tell Steven this. I want to give him a chance to try get me back. It'd be better than me saying, 'I choose you,' or whatever."
"Scout's honour," he said, turning to her, "are you read to go?"
She wiped away a few remaining tears, "yeah… I'm ready."
They smiled at each other as Eric turned the key in the ignition. The engine choked, he turned it again, it screamed in protest, he turned it for longer and it continued to judder and splutter before dying completely.
"Hey, so, yeah, do you think Casey and Moose will give us a ride home?"