by jennickels (aka Jen Connelly)
That 70s Show
Twenty years ago Hyde left Point Place without so much as a look back. What happens when he suddenly finds himself back in town and trying to restart his life? Will his friends take him back?don't own... wish I did, but I don't. No infringement intended.
Chapter 1: The Prodigal Son Returns
Twenty years had passed since he had left Wisconsin, twenty years since he swore he'd never set foot there again. But he was. His ex-wife got the crazy idea to move back to her home town and he had followed her. She had left two months ago. It only took him three weeks to realize he couldn't stand to be that far from his kids and three days to pack-up. After a few weeks of tying up loose ends at work he was on his way home. That was how Steven Hyde found himself crossing into the Point Place city limits for the first time in twenty years. They say time heals all wounds but Hyde didn't feel all that healed. He felt-claustrophobic. Point Place was just as small and confining as he remembered from his youth. He had spent most of his childhood planning his escape and finally left when he was 19. There had been a brief time after he graduated that he had considered staying but… He shook the thought from his head.
There had been a couple of times he had almost come back but something always stopped him. He didn't let it bother him much except for four years ago when he got word that Red Forman had died.
"He really liked you, Steven. You were always like a second son to him," Mrs. Forman had said through sobs. He had called as soon as he had heard. It had been the first and only contact he had made with anyone from his past. "I wish you could have come home just once to see him." Hyde did too but he didn't say that. They chatted a few more minutes then she said she had some more family to call. Hyde liked that he was included in the family category. He went out that night and drank a cold one in Red's memory.
A few weeks later he got a letter from Donna. She wrote him a couple times a year even though Hyde never wrote back. She had been mad and he could hear her voice yelling at him through the paper. Mrs. Forman was heartbroken that he never made an effort to visit when Donna had informed him Red was sick months earlier. Another regret to add to his list, he thought.
Hyde wasn't sure why Donna kept writing all these years. He had been shocked to get the first one a year and half after he left. She had wrote a lot about Forman getting back from Africa and Laurie getting pregnant. Hyde smiled and laughed remembering his friends. He never knew how Donna had found him but after that he looked forward to the letters and Christmas cards. He kept all the photos she sent. AT first they were of Forman and Donna or Red and Kitty. After a couple of years pictures of babies replaced the adults. The backs always said, "to Uncle Hyde." Hyde hung every one on his fridge. The pictures kept coming and the kids kept looking older.
"They grow so fast," Donna would write. By then Hyde knew the feeling first hand. Four years after he left he watched his first daughter, Kelly be born and a year later came Karrie. At first he was disappointed he didn't get a boy but he fell in love with his girls and spoiled them rotten. Being a father was the hardest most satisfying job he ever had. That was why he couldn't stand it when his ex moved away.
He had fallen for Sarah Ryan right away. It wasn't exactly love at first sight but it was as close as Hyde had ever come. She was a tall, slightly pudgy girl that took an internship at his store. She had blond hair that she braided so that it could dangle through the back of her Cardinal's cap. HE had found out they were the same age-22 and the internship was the last credit she needed before graduating.
Hyde had been lonely for so long he was taken by her. When she showed up a week after her job ended he asked her out. She confessed later that she had come back hoping for that very thing. They were both surprised to find out they grew up in the same small town, except that Sarah had moved when she was ten. What were the odds that they would find each other 600 miles away. Kelly was born a year later and Hyde married Sarah a couple months after that. Things were fine for awhile but like the rest of his life, Hyde watched as this fell apart, too. He and Sarah divorced in '91-seven years after getting married. Kelly and been 7 ½ and Karrie was almost six. They both took it hard when Hyde moved out but he had the girls over every other weekend for awhile. But as they got older they wanted to spend less and less time with him. Soon they were complaining they'd rather hang out with their friends then stay at his place. He just let them go. But he couldn't just let them go this time.
Hyde had thought about all of that stuff on his drive from St. Louis. It was amazing how much time twenty years really was. He was almost 40 and felt it more and more these days. His curly hair had started to thin and recede so he kept it cut short and he noticed gray creeping into his beard and sideburns.
Sitting at a train crossing a half mile from his destination with nothing to do Hyde started opening his mail. He had grabbed on his way out last night and threw it in the seat next to him. Bills, bills and more bills, he thought as he flipped through the envelopes. He smiled when he saw a letter post marked "Point Place, WI." Sure enough, the return address said Donna and Eric Forman. He always chuckled seeing Donna's name first-he knew who was in charge in that family. Hyde checked to see how much train was left. The thing went on forever and was moving slow as shit. He opened it and read-
I just got your letter today and I'm shocked. 1. I had no idea you had been married and 2. YOU WROTE BACK! The first letter I get from you ever and you tell me your coming home AND you want to stay with us awhile. I just don't know what to say. I'm in shock.
Of course you can come stay. Eric is cleaning out your old room as I write. I'm not kidding. I thought he would explode with excitement when I told him-he can be such a girl sometimes.
Well, I guess I better start getting stuff ready. I hope you get this letter before you leave otherwise I'll see you next week. I hope you didn't forget your way.
P.S. Here's a picture of all the kids together. We had a 70s theme dance at the radio station. I thought you might get a kick out of it."
Hyde pulled the picture from the envelope. It was a copy from a newspaper with the names of the kids underneath. The picture was like a flashback to high school. Seven smiling kids, arms around each other dressed in bell bottoms and hideous shirts with big collars and one boy, on the end had a ratty old Rolling Stones t-shirt on and sunglasses. Hyde rubbed his eyes, not believing what he just saw in the picture.
A horn honked and he realized the train had passed. He shifted to car back in gear and drove a block before pulling over. He squinted at the small, blurry type at the bottom.
"l. to r. Kate Forman (14), Taylor Kelso (15), Skylar Austin (15), Shawn Forman (16), Mike Kelso (16), Betsy Kelso (20) and Steve Burkhart (19)."
Hyde stared at the name and then back at the scrawny, curly haired kid on the end. All of a sudden he felt like he couldn't breath.
"Burkhardt," he said out loud. "Steve Burkhardt." He almost hit another car as he sped off down the street. Two minutes and three "almost" accidents later he found himself pulling into a familiar driveway. The house didn't look much different from when he was a kid, just older and a little run down. Donna came running from the side door.
"Hyde," she yelled and hugged him before he even got all the way out of the car. He was pleased to see her hair was back to it's original red. He, personally, had always thought she looked better as a red head. She looked about the same as the last time he saw her except she had put on a little weight. But who hadn't, Hyde thought making a mental note to find the nearest gym.
"It is so great to see you," Donna said then frogged his arm.
Hyde rubbed it. "What was that for?"
"How could you disappear and not write for twenty gosh darn years.?"
Hyde smiled at her. His nerves started to settle already. Maybe being home wouldn't be so bad.