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you could love me (if i knew how to lie)

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Eric has been glumly sitting on the couch for a half-hour, clearly wanting to say something, but he doesn’t say anything till Kelso finally breaks and asks him what’s wrong. He lets out a long, dramatic sigh. “I finally asked Donna if she wanted to go out… and she said no.”

“Sorry man. That sucks.” Hyde isn’t great at comforting people, so he reaches out and pats Eric on the shoulder awkwardly.

Kelso’s even worse at it. “I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been rejected.” He stretches his arms out and grins.

“Well, it’s not like she rejected me, she just….” He sighs again, like what he wants to say is something earth-shattering. “She wants to, she just has this stupid agreement with Jackie…”

Kelso perks up when Jackie is mentioned. They haven’t spoken since she found out about him cheating on her with half the school, but Kelso still has some creepy obsession with knowing everything about her. “Jackie? She talked about her? How is she?”

If Hyde was close to him, he’d punch him in the arm for asking. His constant need to hear every possible thing about her is getting annoying, and weird, and even Fez is getting sick of it. “What agreement?” he asks, moving the conversation past Kelso’s stalking and back to Forman’s love life.

“Well… remember how Donna said she didn’t want to date and Jackie thought she could find Donna the perfect man? Apparently Donna finally agreed, but she’s only going out with someone once Jackie starts dating again.”

Hyde tries really hard not to laugh, but he can’t keep the grin off his face. “Forman, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Just say she rejected you, man, no one’s gonna judge.”

“I’m not lying!” Eric’s voice goes a little squeaky as he tries to defend himself. “That’s what she said! When Jackie dates, she will!”

Kelso stands up, puffs out his chest proudly. “Well, there's a very obvious solution to this problem.” When Hyde and Eric look at him with confusion, he scoffs as of it should have been obvious. “I’ll just start dating her again. She’s not over me, she’ll say yes.”

Hyde makes a face, feeling a weird surge of protectiveness when Kelso says that. It’s not that he likes Jackie- he can’t stand her most of the time- but it’s as if Kelso doesn’t know how to leave that poor chick alone, and Hyde feels bad for her. “So it wasn’t enough to cheat on her the first hundred times, you want to do it again?”

“It wasn’t a hundred! It was 5!” He sounds pleased, and he slyly adds, “She only knows about Laurie and Pam Macy, so do the others really count?”

“Yeah, that’s not something to be proud of, man.” Hyde really wants to punch him.

Eric sighs. “She’s not going to go out with Kelso again. Donna said Jackie made up some list of what her next boyfriend should be like, and the standards are crazy high. She says no one under 30 can meet them.”

Hyde grins. It sucks to see Eric get screwed over, but man, does he love seeing Kelso get shot down. “She’s not going to take you back. So I guess you’re screwed, Forman. Sorry, man.”

“Yeah… thanks.” Eric props his face in his hands, and it’s silent for a while until he jumps up, eyebrows raised- his idea face. “Wait, I just thought of something!” He turns towards Hyde, and he knows exactly where this is going. “She liked you for a while, right?”

“Yeah, right after she broke up with Kelso, but Forman, I’m not-”

“So we just need her to get that feeling back!” Eric sits back down on the couch, this time right next to his chair. “Hyde, I cannot believe I'm saying this, but please date Kelso’s ex-girlfriend.”

Hyde shakes his head, ready to protest, but Kelso beats him to it. “He can’t go out with Jackie! She was my girl! That’s, like, against friendship rules!”

“He’s right, man, I can't date a friend's ex. Too weird.”

“And they hate each other! How can they date!”

“That is also true. Forman, I’m not gonna take Jackie out just so you can get with Donna.” It’s probably the worst idea Hyde’s ever heard, but as Forman frantically rants and points and becomes unable to form a sentence, he almost wants to do it. Almost. Not enough to change his mind, though. “Not in a million years.”

Eric sputters protests of his own, arguing that of Hyde was a real friend he would do this, right as Fez walks in. “Oh, Eric is all red! What happened?”

Kelso, who’s been staring in disbelief, practically shouts, “Eric wants Hyde to date Jackie so he can get with Donna!”

Fez gasps. “Hyde and Jackie can’t date! They hate each other!”

“That’s what I said!” Kelso shouts, standing up and moving next to Fez. “And, she was my girlfriend! What kind of friend gets with his friend’s ex?”

“Um, Hyde! He will!” Eric exclaims, still trying to convince them that his plan will work. “Come on Hyde, what do I need to do to get you to go out with her for me?”

“Forman, I’m not dating Jackie. I’m sorry that you can’t get with Donna, but I’m not that sorry.”

Eric opens and closes his mouth, starting sentences before realizing they aren’t going anywhere, before he finally gives up and goes back to slouching on the couch, defeated.

Fez and Kelso sit as well, and Hyde is about ready to start a circle, but Eric’s face lights up again. “I’ll pay you!”

“What?” Hyde and Kelso say with disbelief at the same time.

“I’ll pay you to go out with her.”

“Yeah, no,” Hyde says, shaking his head and holding back a laugh. It’s one of Forman’s more ridiculous ideas, and it seems too close to scummy for Hyde to sink down to. He’d spent enough time watching his mom get treated like crap by her boyfriends, he wasn’t going to make girls feel that way. He’s not Kelso.

“I’ll do it!” Fez exclaims. Hyde’s surprised it took him this long to volunteer- he’s had a creepy crush on Jackie almost since they met, but he didn’t need the money. His host parents were very generous with the allowance.

Kelso practically squawks with anger. “Fez! Come on man, you can’t date my ex-girlfriend!” He gestures wildly towards Hyde. “And neither can he! I’ll win her back!”

Hyde pulls a face.

He’s not jealous. He just hates the idea of Jackie and Kelso getting back together. After they had broken up, and Jackie had spent her mourning period pining after Hyde, they’d become almost friends. It was hard not to, considering he took her to prom last year (out of pity- she wouldn’t stop crying!) and taught her how to be zen around Laurie (which didn’t work- but it was fun to see tiny Jackie beat up Forman’s sister). And in Jackie’s eyes, “almost friends” was close enough to friends that she had told him about not wanting to be with Kelso anymore. That Kelso was weirdly possessive for a cheating asshole, and that she didn’t like how she acted when they were together. She’d told Kelso as much too, but he just wouldn’t get the damn point. He kept practically stalking her, trying to hit on her whenever he could, and being just as awful as he was when they dated. “She doesn’t want you back, man, get over it. Besides, you’ve got Laurie, and pretty much any girl you want. So can you just leave her alone?”

Everyone looks at him in surprise- not at how he’s telling Kelso to pipe down, but how he’s defending Jackie.

“Wow Hyde,” Forman says with a laugh, “I didn’t know you cared that much about who Jackie dates.”

“I don’t care about who she dates,” he says, slouching lower in his chair. “But I spent a lot of time with her when she was trying to use me as her rebound. She told me she doesn’t want you, Kelso, and you acting like a weirdo stalker isn’t going to get her back.”

Kelso looks like he wants to get into an all-out fight, and Hyde would accept the challenge, but Forman breaks up the tension by talking about Donna again, and Fez turns on the TV, and Kelso stews in his lawn chair across from Hyde. “I could win her back. I know I could,” he mutters- not quietly enough to keep Hyde from hearing.

“You know what Forman? If it keeps this idiot’s paws off her, I’ll do it.”

Kelso doesn’t say anything. He just stomps out of the basement. Fez, loyal as always, goes after him.

“You will?” Eric grins, looking happier than he has in days. “Oh man, Hyde, I owe you….”

“Yeah, you do.” Hyde kicks his feet up on the table. “You owe me $50, and that’s just for me to try to convince her to let me take her out.”

Forman’s face goes white, and Hyde grins. There’s no guarantee he can even get Jackie to go out with him, but even if he doesn’t, he's still getting $50.

This will be fun.


Forman’s plan doesn’t seem to go any farther than “please date Jackie,” so it’s on Hyde to figure out how to make that happen. When Jackie was hanging all over him after she had broken up with Kelso the first time (and the second time), he hadn’t had to do any work to make her like him. In fact, he had done work to make her not like him, and it didn’t even work.

He couldn’t ask Kelso what Jackie liked in a guy- he’d kick Hyde’s ass. Couldn’t ask Fez either- his idea of impressing a girl was to just annoy her until she gave in, and it hasn’t worked for him yet. And Hyde’s never worked that hard to pick up a chick before- but he had only picked up easy chicks who wanted a one-off, same as him.

Eric forbid him from talking to Donna about the plan, but how else is he supposed to find out what makes Jackie tick? He figures as long as he makes it seem like he actually wants to get with Jackie, with no ulterior motives, he can ask her without getting into trouble with Eric. That's going to be the hardest part- acting like he actually likes her- but he’s a good liar. He has years of practice from lying about- and to- his mom.

But he’s also known Donna forever, and when he does his absolute best to act accidentally in love with someone he’s supposed to hate, she immediately calls him out for faking it. “Hyde, that's really screwed up. You know how much Kelso messed with her. Did Eric set this up?”

“Donna. I’m not faking it.” He sighs, cringing inwardly at what he’s about to say. “Look, remember last year, when I took her to prom?” Donna raises her eyebrows suspiciously, but nods. “I didn’t realize it until they were back together, but...”

“Oh my God…” She looks shocked, then happy, then worried. “And it was too late to make a move… I’m sorry, Hyde.”

He shrugs. “It’s whatever.”

“Wait-” she’s back to looking confused, and he knows she’s found a hole in his story. “If you’ve liked her for that long, why didn't you make a move when she was into you?”

Crap. he knew he forgot something. “Well, uh…” He scratches the back of his neck, trying frantically to think of an excuse. “She had just broken up with Kelso. She was vulnerable, and I didn’t want to, you know… take advantage of her.”

“That is… surprisingly noble of you,” she says with a teasing smile.

He knocks their shoulders together. “Shut up and help me.”

“Well, what do you want to know?”

Chapter Text

“Hey. Feet off my chair.” Hyde stands in front of the TV, staring lasers at Fez. He’s pissed off from school, and he just wants to sit down and scowl at the TV until he falls asleep or starts a circle.

Jackie chooses to enter right as he says it, the irritation clear in his voice. His tone definitely isn't helping his case, but maybe the cause will. “Woah, what’s with you, Steven?” she asks, caution tinging the edges of the laugh in her voice.

“Ah, he is just mad because he has quit smoking,” Fez says, still not moving his feet from Hyde’s chair and shaking his head sadly. “It has caused a depression in the basement.”

“I said feet off.” Hyde shoves Fez’s feet off, opening the popsicle he grabbed earlier. Finally, he sits down, eats his popsicle, but it doesn’t kick the craving for a cigarette.

“You quit smoking?” Jackie asks quietly. “Wow. I can’t believe you finally did it. I was always bugging you about it…”

Hyde sighs, trying to figure out how to make it seem like it was someone else’s idea, but Fez says it for him. “He’s trying to impress a girl.”

“Oh, my gosh, Steven has a crush?” Her face lights up, but he can see that her smile doesn’t quite meet her eyes, and she’s not as giggly and excited as she would have been last year. If Hyde didn’t know any better, he’d say she was jealous. “Who is it?” she asks as she sits down on the arm of the couch on the side closest to his chair.

“It’s no one. Just some girl,” Hyde says gruffly, shutting down any further questioning. “And it’s not a crush!”

“Do I know her?” She asks before gasping and practically shouting, “Oh, my god! Is it a cheerleader?”

Fez opens his mouth, probably to spill the beans, but Hyde speaks quickly before he can. “No, just a chick. You don’t know her.”

“Oh…” Jackie says. “Got it. So she’s one of your burnout friends, right?”

“Whatever.”

She huffs, mad at his non-answer, and turns back to face the TV. “As long as quitting smoking doesn’t mean quitting the circle. I don’t think any of us would survive if you weren’t still doing that.”

He laughs slightly. He knows they wouldn’t survive that- he’s barely drinking anymore either, and pot is the only stress reliever he has. “Circle is still on. Not in the mood to rack up a murder charge.”

Good!” That cheers her up slightly. “You know, I really hate cigarettes. I’m glad you finally stopped.”

He shrugs. “That’s cool.” She gets annoyed again, and really, what did she expect from him? He taught her to be zen, and now she’s mad that he‘s being zen. It’s how most of their interactions go. But as she stands up and sits in the lawn chair across from him, her face scrunched up with frustration, he realizes that zen isn’t the way to make her want to date him. Jackie’s a girl who needs attention and obvious interest, and Hyde’s bad at both of those. He’s going to have to get better at it- Donna said that Jackie’s ideal boyfriend would give her gifts and compliment her- but he figures he can go slow with it. If he randomly started giving her a stuffed animal every day, Jackie would know something was up. Quitting cigarettes is good enough for now.

The others show up a few minutes later, Donna and Eric walking in together, and Kelso stumbling in soon after. His goofy grin only gets wider when he realizes Jackie’s there, and as he says “Oh, hey Jackie,” dragging out her name, Hyde sees her tense up, her fists tightening and her jaw clenching. She looks like she’s about to bolt, but she puts on a brave face and relaxes, ignoring Kelso- and hopefully making him stop bugging her. Hyde’s almost grateful when Kelso sits on the couch next to him. If he says anything gross to Jackie- or about her- Hyde can easily slug him. And Donna’s on Kelso’s other side, so she’d probably help out. Jackie’s still looking uncomfortable, and it shows every time Kelso opens his mouth. He must be really bugging her if she was freaked out just from him just being in the room, and Hyde hates it. It’s that strange surge of protectiveness he felt for her, that she deserved to be helped, even when it was Hyde’s best friend hurting a cheerleader he could hardly stand most of the time.

A few minutes later, Kelso gives him a pretty good reason to hit him. “So, Jackie….” She doesn’t respond, just raises an eyebrow while continuing to watch Gilligan’s Island. “I broke up with Laurie.”

Jackie doesn’t respond, and Hyde’s impressed- the lessons in Zen must have stuck. Usually, she would have said something snarky, but now she’s just flat out ignoring him.

Sadly, Kelso doesn’t get the hint. “I mean, Laurie was a terrible girlfriend. You were great. So I was thinking-”

“We’re not getting back together, Michael.” Her tone is flat and neutral, but Hyde can see how upset she is as she crosses her arms and sits up a little bit straighter, looking ready to run out of the basement in an instant.

“Oh, come on, Jackie.” Kelso stands up, moving to sit on the side of the couch closest to her. “You know I love you.”

“Cut it out, man,” Hyde says. “She already said she doesn’t want to.”

“Yeah, but she doesn’t mean it…” he trails off before he looks to Jackie, raising his eyebrows. “You- you don’t mean it, right?” he asks nervously. Donna leans over and frogs him in the arm. “Damn, Donna! I just asked!”

But Hyde’s words and Donna’s defense don’t matter. Jackie’s fed up, and she wordlessly stands up and smooths her skirt before walking as fast as she can to the stairs, heading for the kitchen and out the house. Donna stands to follow her, but Hyde shakes his head and heads for the stairs. “I’ll talk to her. You beat sense into Kelso.”

 

He half expects her to be gone when he gets up to the kitchen, but she’s standing at the counter, holding onto the edge with white knuckles and taking deep breaths. Hyde clears his throat awkwardly, and she looks over her shoulder, relaxing her grip when she sees it’s him. “I, uh, I’m sorry about Kelso.” Jackie nods, not quite making eye contact. Her eyes are shiny, like she’s about to cry- and he doesn’t want to see her cry. He can’t deal with a crying chick. “Donna’s probably yelling at him right now.”

She gives him a weak smile. “Good. He deserves it.” A tear slips out, and he almost reaches out to brush it away- but he holds himself back, and Jackie wipes it away with the back of her hand.

He furrows his brow. “Are you okay?” She nods unconvincingly, not making eye contact and pulling at her sweater sleeve to dab at her eyes. “Seriously, man. We’ll make him stop bugging you if he makes you this uncomfortable.”

“It’s fine, really. I’ll just… I’ll just stop coming by the basement as much, I guess.” She sniffles slightly before putting on a fake smile and shrugging. “Well, I guess I should head out. I have a lot of… um… cheer stuff. That I need to practice. Yeah.”

He inwardly groans. If she stops hanging out in the basement, there’s no way he can get her to like him- she won’t be around him, and he wouldn’t even know where to find her outside of the group. “Jackie…” He reaches out and grabs her hand as she starts to head for the door. She looks at him, surprised. “Look, you can still hang out here. We’ll get him to knock it off. And if he doesn’t- well, Donna can probably make Forman kick him out.”

She starts to tear up again, but judging from the way her smile grows, they’re tears of joy. “Really? You’d kick Michael out for me?”

“Well- yeah.” he realizes he’s still holding her hand, but instead of letting go, he steps closer to her. “He’s being a creep to you, and it’s not gonna fly anymore. And, uh, I’m sorry we let it go on as long as it did.”

Jackie’s smile finally looks real, and she lets go of his hand to wrap her arms around him, pulling him into a hug. “Thank you, Steven,” she says as he wraps one arm loosely around her waist. “That means a lot.” As she pulls away, she kisses him on the cheek, so light he thinks it might have been an accident, and her big eyes are grateful and thankfully tearless. “I really should head out, but- I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“Yeah. tomorrow.” She walks out, turning to flash him one last grin before she leaves, and when she’s gone, he puts a hand to his cheek. The smudge of lipstick on his fingers when he pulls it away is the only proof he has of the kiss she gave him, but the feeling of her gently pressing her lips there still burns in his memory.

 

When he walks back down to the basement, Kelso and Fez are gone- Kelso probably driven out by Donna, and Fez loyally going with him- and Hyde sighs gratefully. He’s pissed at Kelso, and he doesn’t think he could have spent another minute with him without punching him. He sits back down on his chair and half pays attention to the I Love Lucy rerun, but Forman and Donna’s argument tears his attention away.

“Kicking him out of the basement is kind of… overreacting, Donna,” Forman says with a chuckle.

That’s the wrong thing to say, and Donna’s face starts to flush with anger. “Were you even listening to him? Or see how Jackie was reacting? He’s being a total dillhole, and you don’t even care!”

“It’s just Jackie . Does it really matter?”

“Yeah, it does,” Hyde interjects, “and you’re being just as bad as Kelso by excusing it.”

He doesn’t have a response to that.

Donna rolls her eyes and stands up. “Whatever. Call me if you decide to be nice to Jackie instead of excusing your creepy friends.”

“Oh, come on, Donna-” Forman starts, but she walks out the basement door, letting it slam shut behind her. “Oh, damn it.” He looks dejectedly towards Hyde. “Do you think she’s mad?”

Hyde snorts. “Yeah, you really screwed the pooch on this one, Forman.” He scratches his chin, turning his attention back to the TV.

“I mean, come on! It’s Jackie. I mean, we all complain about having her here.”

“Yeah, you’re making this worse. Just because she’s annoying doesn’t mean we should let Kelso bug her.”

“What, so you’re on her side?” He sounds angry, like he’s forgotten that he’s the one paying Hyde to take this girl out. “Come on, Hyde, she annoys you just as much as the rest of us.”

“Whatever, man. I’m just trying to convince her to go out with me- just like you wanted me to.”

“Oh, yeah, about that…” Hyde raises an eyebrow. “Do you think you could speed that up? I mean, it’s already been a week, and you haven’t done anything.”

He shakes his head. Unbelievable . “If I randomly ask her out, she’ll know somethings up. This is a process, Forman. Let me handle it.”

He sighs. “Fine.”

“Great.” Hyde stands up. “Now get out. I’m gonna take a nap.”

Forman groans, but gets up and heads up the stairs. “I’ll wake you up for dinner.”

Hyde doesn’t respond, just walks to his room. He takes off his boots and lies down on top of his sheet, interlocking his fingers behind his head and staring at the ceiling, thinking about what Forman said about Kelso- and Jackie.

Yeah, Jackie can be annoying, but she hasn’t been nearly as bitchy since she dumped Kelso- and even if she was, that’s no reason to let Kelso harass her, or make her cry in the Forman’s kitchen. And just because Kelso’s their friend doesn’t mean they shouldn’t hold him accountable. They didn’t all the times he cheated on her, and they haven’t the past few months, and they should have- Hyde should have. He can say whatever he wants about not wanting to push girls around the way his mom was by all his “uncles,” but letting Kelso push Jackie around makes him just as bad.

So he adds a new bullet point on his mental list: protect Jackie from Kelso (for completely unselfish reasons).


He hasn’t had a cigarette in three weeks- which surprises everyone- and even though his brain tells him it needs nicotine or he’s gonna lose it, he holds back. Besides, if this all goes to plan, he can be back to smoking by New Year’s.

Quitting was step one of dating Jackie. Step two is randomly complimenting her, step three is buying her roses and asking her out, and step four is annoying her into dumping him so there are no hurt feelings and everyone can hang out like normal. He’s been trying step two for a few days- something about her outfit when she walks into the basement, or that he likes how she did her hair- and judging by the way she blushes, it’s working. It’s also been a few days of Kelso trying to convince Jackie to get back together with him- which means it been a few days of Hyde frogging him in the arm and Jackie leaving before everyone else does.

It’s not helping Hyde and his mental list.

He can flirt with Jackie all he wants- but he has to actually ask her out for this to happen. If Kelso runs her out of the basement, he won’t even be able to try. Luckily, he hasn’t shown up today, and Fez is moping about it, and Jackie has been talking non stop about her cheerleader friends being slutty, and Hyde could do it right now- he could ask her now, get it over with-

Kelso walks in.

Jackie looks at him cautiously, but she doesn’t pause her story about Valerie sleeping with half the football team. Fez immediately starts talking to Kelso, and Donna flat out ignores his arrival, turning all her attention to Jackie’s story.

Hyde sits back and watches, but Kelso leaves Jackie alone, giving Fez crappy advice that is sure to backfire.

Jackie waits until Kelso’s shut up to loudly invite Donna to tomorrow’s football game- and Fez- and then she turns to Hyde. “And you too, Steven! You never go to football games.”

“Because they suck,” he scoffs.

“This one won’t!” She gives him puppy dog eyes, the way she did that day she convinced him to hang out with her and had given him new boots and tried to kiss him. “Come on, Steven, please? It’s my first game as head cheerleader… it would mean a lot if my friends would come to watch.”

“I’ll watch! I’ll go to the game, don’t worry about them!” Kelso springs up out of the lawn chair. “It’ll be like old times!”

Jackie wrinkles her nose, but ignores him and keeps looking pointedly at Hyde. “If you don’t want to… that’s okay. I would understand.”

“I don’t want to,” Hyde replies, and her shoulders slump. “But I will.”

She smiles, and it almost makes it worth sacrificing a Friday night to see her smile like that- and to see that she wants to spend time with him. “Oh, Steven, thank you!”

Kelso squawks indignantly. “Damn, Jackie, I’d go too if you asked!”

“Oh, Michael, that’s sweet.” she turns that megawatt cheerleader smile in Kelso’s direction, and he brightens up considerably until she adds, “I don’t want you to go.” It comes out in a mix of glee and haughtiness, and Hyde struggles to hold back a laugh. Donna smiles, and Fez mutters “Ah, burn,” and Kelso is speechless. Watching Jackie burn Kelso is the best Hyde’s felt since his last smoke- no, the best he’s felt since that moment in the kitchen with Jackie a few weeks ago- but the feeling is fleeting, gone as soon as she shakes her head and stands to leave. “You coming, Donna?” Donna shakes her head, and Jackie shrugs, picks up her purse from the table- and leans over to brush her lips against Hyde’s cheek, dangerously close to his lips, the way she has so many times before- and murmurs, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” before she’s out the basement door in a whirlwind.

“Ouch,” Donna says, still smiling. “That’s gotta hurt, huh Kelso?”

He slouches down in the lawn chair. “Whatever. She’ll want me there.”

“I think she wants Hyde there,” she shoots back at Kelso before glancing over at Hyde. “You have lipgloss on your cheek, by the way.”

“Shut up,” he mutters, but he wipes his cheek with the back of his hand. “Kelso, she’s over you, man. Leave it alone.”

“But she’s my-”

“Drop it,” Hyde warns him.

“Fine!” Kelso shouts. He stands up and stomps over to the deep freeze to grab a popsicle. “God, Hyde, I know you’re trying to get with her, but-”

“Kelso.”

“Fine! Damn!” He stays by the deep freeze, eating his popsicle with an angry face, but stays silent.

“So, are you going to the game, Hyde?” Fez asks, turning towards him. His tone sounds innocent, but the way his eyebrows are raised lets Hyde know there’s a burn in the works.

He shrugs. “I said I would.”

Fez pouts, unable to find a good burn for that, but Donna smiles. “I was going to skip it, but Hyde at a high school football game… that’s something I have to see.”

He just shakes his head. “Whatever, man.” There’s nothing that interesting about him going. It’s not a big deal. He’s trying to impress a girl so Forman can date Donna, but to his friends, it seems to be the funniest thing they’ve heard all day.

Kelso steps over the couch, sitting on the back and chewing on his popsicle stick like he’s deep in thought. “Yeah, I’m going too. She wants her friends to see her cheer, I want to see her in the uniform. We all win. Ow!” he exclaims when Donna slugs him, leaning down to rub his calf.

“Kelso, she doesn’t- you know what, he’s not going to listen.” She crosses her arms, exasperated. “He’s going to bother her wherever she goes.”

Fez nods, half distracted by Charlie’s Angels . “Yes, he’s very determined to win Jackie back. Look! Kris isn’t wearing a bra!” He and Kelso watch excitedly as Donna rolls her eyes, and the basement goes quiet for a few minutes as the Angels solve the crime and Donna flips through Hyde’s magazine.

When the show ends, and Kelso starts fiddling with the record player, Hyde asks, “Kelso, do you actually want her back, or are you just mad because I’m going after her?”

He scoffs indignantly, “I want her back!”

Hyde thinks for a second. He’s pretty sure Kelso’s lying, but the potential of Jackie turning him down in front of most of the school… “Yeah, she’s gonna yell at him if he goes to the game.” he stands, walks to Kelso, claps him on the shoulder. “See you there, man.” Kelso’s clueless grin only makes Hyde smile more, and he shares a look with Donna. Kelso’s going to get his ass handed to him tomorrow, and everyone’s going to watch it happen. “Yeah, tomorrow might be fun.”

Chapter Text

The more Kelso talks, the more Hyde realizes that ditching the pep rally was the right move. They only stayed for a few minutes, but it was long enough for Kelso to walk past Jackie twice, watch her do a high kick, and make comments about her for the rest of lunch. He’s sick of it, and if Kelso makes one more joke about Jackie’s flexibility…

“You know, watching her do that split really brought back some good memories,” Kelso says, grinning and staring into space. “She used to- Ow! Damn, Hyde!”

He had hit him the arm. “Shut up, man. No one wants to hear about you and Jackie’s sex life.”

“Can you still call it a sex life when it’s been dead for six months?” Donna chimes in, getting a laugh out of Forman and a huff out of Kelso.

I want to hear about it,” Fez says. “It makes me feel less lonely.”

Donna slides away from him.

Hyde shakes his head, smiling at his weird friends, and unwraps the sandwich Mrs. Forman packed him for lunch. It’s been months since he moved in with the Forman’s, but he still isn’t used to having someone care enough to make him lunch- he’s not even used to having lunch- and he’s grateful every day that he does now. Eric complains from the other side of the table about his sandwich, that there’s too much mayonnaise and not enough cheese, and Hyde holds himself back from telling Forman to can it. If you complained about Edna’s food, you got a cigarette burn and a fight. Forman’s complaints just remind Hyde that not everyone grew up those punishments, and he grimaces and eats his sandwich quickly.

The conversations around the table return to normal, and Kelso has stopped talking about Jackie finally, and it’s turning into a good day. Maybe Hyde will have time to get high before the game, make it a little bit more bearable.

His plans for the afternoon are disrupted as soon as he hears that familiar shrill voice coming up behind him. “Hey, guys!” Jackie says, excitement filling her voice as she drops her bag on the bench next to Hyde.

Everyone murmurs greetings back, and Hyde swings one leg over the side of the bench so he can look at her. “Hey, Jackie.”

“Hi, Steven,” she says, placing her hand on his shoulder and smiling down on him.

Without realizing it, Hyde starts to smile back, and he quickly reverts to his neutral expression. “What’s up? I thought you’d be with your cheer friends.”

“Oh, I was, but I just wanted to make sure everyone was still going to the game tonight,” she says, taking her hand off her shoulder and playing with her hair. She has it up in a high ponytail, and her cheer uniform has a skirt that’s slightly too short, and for some reason, it’s doing a number on Hyde’s thought process. “If you aren’t, that’s fine too.”

Hyde realizes she’s waiting for his answer, and he shakes off the skirt induced stupor. “Uh, yeah. Yeah, we’ll be there. Wouldn’t miss it.”

“Oh, yay! This is going to be so fun, you’ll see.” She claps her hands excitedly. “And we can go to the Hub after, with the rest of the squad!”

He grits his teeth and forces out a reluctant, “Great… hanging out with more cheerleaders.” Jackie looks down at him, sympathetic, and he forces himself to look more excited. It doesn’t really work, but it makes her giggle, and she covers her mouth with her hand. If Hyde didn’t know her, he would think it’s adorable. But he does know her, so it’s just mildly cute.

“Yeah, we’ll all be there, Jackie,” Kelso says with a dopey smile. “Can’t wait.”

Jackie freezes for a second but regains her composure. “That’s cool. See you tonight.”

She picks up her bag as the earlier conversations resume, and she starts to walk away until Hyde calls out, “Hey.” She turns around and walks back, eyebrows raised in question. “You sure it’s okay that Kelso’s going tonight?”

She thinks on it for a second and nods her head. “I mean… there’s not much I can do about it, so I’m not gonna fight it.” He furrows his brow, but nods. “I’m just glad he’s going with you. I mean, you usually keep him in check.”

“If by keeping him in check you mean slugging him every time he’s acting like a dillhole, then yeah, I usually do that.” She laughs again, and Hyde squints at her from behind his glasses. “Seriously, man, if you don’t want him to go, we won’t let him go.”

“It’s okay, I promise.” She runs a hand over her hair. “I’ll see you tonight.”

“Yeah,” Hyde says, watching as she turns to go back to the cheerleaders. “See you tonight.”


Ultimately, he decides against getting baked- but now he’s regretting it. Everyone’s piled in the Cruiser, and Donna and Forman are next to him complaining about going while Kelso and Fez sit in the backseat and talk about cheerleaders. Hyde knows Kelso’s lying about sleeping with all the girls he names- hell, Hyde had done it with half of them, and none of those girls did the stuff Kelso was saying he’d done with them- but he just rolls his eyes and stares out the window, dreading the rest of the night.

When they get there, Fez wants them to pile into the student section of the bleachers, where it’s packed with their screaming classmates, decked out in green and grey. Hyde and Forman vocally disagree- they agreed to go, but the student section is where they draw the line- and they lead the way towards the far end of the bleachers, weaving through sitting families with food and blankets scattered around them. They’re running late, and the only spots available are right up against the fenceline, near the student section but far enough away that they won’t be swept up in the crowd. People are packed all around them, and Hyde’s claustrophobia starts to kick in as people pack together, pushing Fez’s shoulder into Hyde, and Hyde’s shoulder into Donna. It’s too close for comfort, and he shoves Fez back so he can stand.

Hyde leans forward, crossing his arms and propping them on the metal pipe lining the top of the chainlink fence for balance, and scopes out the field. Point Place has the ball, and it’s fourth and 35 to go- and the quarterback fumbles the snap. Not surprising, considering last season ended 0 and 13, but Hyde still groans and shakes his head.

“You would think they’d get better,” Donna says, standing up next to him and bumping his shoulder with her own. “Or get a new coach or something.”

He snorts. “Forman could play better than these morons, and he was afraid of football until eighth grade.”

Donna laughs, but her next sentence is drowned out by Kelso shouting, “Here come the cheerleaders!”

Hyde looks down on the sidelines, and sure enough, the cheer squad, led by Jackie, are running into place in front of the bleachers and getting ready to lead a cheer. Jackie’s eyes scan the crowd, her brow furrowed, and Hyde wolf whistles and calls her name. She follows the sound, and when she finds them, her smile is a mile wide. She says something Hyde can’t make out, and in unison, the squad launches into a cheer, clapping their pom-poms together and stepping side to side. It repeats a few times, and when they stop, Jackie leads them into high kicks and whooping, ruffling her pom-poms and letting her eyes find her friends in the stands again. The smile on her face has turned more
teasing as she kicks one last time, and Hyde’s mouth goes dry.

All the cheerleaders he’s been with had been flexible, but he’d never really thought about why. Watching them out on the field- watching as Jackie’s kick slides into a split, his mind starts to wander. Jackie’s always been cute, but at some point a few months ago, she’d started registering as hot, and right now, it’s doing a number on him. She gets up, straightens her skirt, and runs back out of view. He breathes out a very quiet “Holy shit ,” before he’s snapped out of it by Kelso and Fez.

“Did you see Kat Peterson?” Kelso says loudly. “I mean, she’s no Jackie, but man, is she hot or what?”

Fez nods, the look on his face solemn and knowing. “Yes. Her legs were out to here,” he says, spreading out his arms to demonstrate. “I wonder if she would let me touch them…”

Hyde spits out a “You wish” at the same time Donna says “Not a chance,” and Eric busts up laughing at the hurt on Fez’s face.

“Oh, come on, if Hyde can get Kat Peterson, I’m sure Fez can,” Kelso says.

Hyde grits his teeth at the comparison. “Kelso, there are some pretty big differences between me and Fez. For example, one of us has actually been with girls, and the other grew up in a jungle.”

Fez scowls and huffs, standing up and climbing over the back of the bleachers. “Come on, Hyde, you know he’s sensitive about being a virgin!” Kelso says, flailing his arms and stomping off to follow Fez.

Eric shakes his head. “You know, if Kelso wasn’t so girl-crazy, I might think he has a crush on Fez.” When Donna rolls her eyes, he quickly backtracks, “Or, you know, they’re just really good friends.”

Donna still seems a little annoyed but is quickly distracted by screams from around them. They look back at the field as the scoreboard puts Point Place up by six points, and Jackie runs back on the field as the marching band frantically starts on the fight song. Jackie finds them in the stands again, and raises her eyebrows, looking at Hyde’s hands. He looks at Donna and Eric, who are clapping along to the song, and sighs before half-heartedly clapping. It’s lame, and incredibly Joe High School, and everything he hates, but Jackie smiles, and it’s almost sort of worth sacrificing his anti-school spirit beliefs.

 

The game lasts another hour, and if there wasn’t a snack bar Hyde wouldn’t have made it through. The food looks gross, but he buys a pop and some popcorn to hold him over until after the game. All his friends look uncomfortable, but they stand and sit when they’re supposed to, they clap to the fight song, and Donna even knows some of the cheers after hanging out with Jackie for so long. It’s kind of fun, but he’d never say it out loud.

When it’s finally over, and they lose 21 to 7, they stand out by the parking lot together waiting to congratulate Jackie. It’s way colder standing alone, without hundreds of people packed around them, and suddenly Hyde is glad Mrs. Forman made him bring a sweatshirt. He rubs his arms and catches Forman’s eye, looking worried and annoyed as Fez tells Donna how her hair smells good, and Forman quietly mouths Help me .

Hyde smiles, but before he can get Fez to lay off, he hears a shrill voice. “Oh my God, you guys came!” Jackie squeals as she runs up to them and launches herself into Hyde’s arms. He stiffens slightly when she wraps her arms around him, but relaxes and pats her on the back. She pulls back and smiles before hugging Donna. “I didn’t think you would.”

“I would have gone by myself to see you,” Kelso says with a dopey smile. “Remember how I used to come cheer you on?”

Jackie ignores him and turns her attention back to Hyde. “So, what did you think?”

“Uh…” Hyde scratches the back of his neck, trying to come up with something. “Well, you did a great job with the halftime show. Really cool.”

“Oh, thank you! It was so much work, especially since Anne Greenfeld refused to be a base for the pyramid, but I think we pulled it off.”

“I liked all the high kicks,” Kelso adds. “Especially Jackie’s.” He smirks at Hyde, and he resists the urge to punch him.

Instead, he nudges Jackie. “Do you have your car?” She nods slowly, her eyebrows raised in question. “Do you want to grab something to eat? The snack bar food looked like something Edna used to serve.”

“I’d love to,” she says softly. She looks through her bag for her keys and drops them in Hyde’s hand. “Let’s go.” They ignore the dirty looks from Kelso as he helps her into the passenger seat, and when he climbs in and starts the car, Jackie smiles at him gratefully before tuning the radio to a station playing Cheap Trick, kicking her feet up, and letting out a deep breath. “Fatso Burger?”

“Fatso Burger.”


The drive is quiet, only disturbed by Jackie humming along when a song she recognizes comes on, and Hyde’s fingers drumming on the steering wheel. He’s nervous. He hasn’t been alone with Jackie in weeks, and can’t come up with anything to say until he pulls into the drive-through line, and Jackie raises her eyebrows. “I thought maybe we could get stuff to go, and maybe go hang out on Mount Hump.”

Jackie goes still, scoffing to play off her discomfort. “Steven, I’m not going to Mount Hump with you,” she says in her bossy cheerleader voice.

He flushes, realizing what it sounded like. “Oh, crap, no. No, man, I meant just to sit and eat. We aren’t gonna- I wouldn’t-” He shakes his head. “I’m not freakin’ Kelso, Jackie. I’m not hanging out with you just to get with you.” She exhales, visibly relaxing. Hyde realizes he’s been looking at her the entire conversation while she’s stared ahead, and he gently adds, “We don’t have to go there if you don’t want. We can hang in the parking lot, or back at Forman’s.”

She quickly shakes her head. “No! No, we can go.” When he looks at her, concerned, she reaches out and pats his hand where it rests on the gear shift. “Really, Steven, it’s okay. I trust you.”

He snorts. “That was your first mistake, doll.” She laughs, and he smiles at her, but he feels a twinge of guilt at her comment. Her saying that- especially after everything she went through with Kelso- makes it harder for him to follow through on this plan, and he wants to go back on it. But he’s in too deep. It’s time to seal the deal.

They order way too much food, and Hyde insists on paying because damn it, chivalry isn’t dead and Forman gave him $50. Why not blow it on fast food and a hot chick? Jackie’s able to finagle a discount after she tells the employee that her daddy owns the place, and suddenly he’s only paying $15 instead of 29.50. Just for that, Hyde thinks he won’t mind going steady with Jackie.

But he can’t even let himself think about going with her if he doesn’t make a move. If she doesn’t let him make a move.

He’s reminded why he does flings, not relationships.

He blocks out the thoughts of trust and dating and one-offs as he drives, and instead lets Jackie’s chatter about choreography and who she doesn’t like on the squad wash over him. He pulls faces at mentions of girls he doesn’t like either, comments on the ones he knows a little too well, and tells her stories about failed dates with the girls she’s jealous of. Every time he responds, she smiles a little wider, talks more excitedly, and at one point even squeals in delight when he tells her that her rival for captain, Marie, was bad in bed. He doesn’t give many details, but it makes her smile before she goes on a rant about Marie’s inability to do a proper pom-pom waterfall. Her energy is infectious, and Hyde is actually enjoying gossiping back and forth with her.

They arrive too quickly, and Jackie quiets when they get out of the car and climbs up on the hood. Hyde rummages through the bags of food, dividing the mountains of fries and figuring out which burger has no onion before handing it to her. She digs in, wolfing down her fries. The burger goes soon after, and she eats half of his fries too. He chuckles, and she looks at him, embarrassed. “Oh my god. I should have asked.”

“It’s cool,” he responds, and surprisingly, its the truth. If it had been anyone else, Hyde would have slugged them, but its kind of adorable. “Must be hungry, huh?”

She groans. “You have no idea. I’ve only had vegetables all week, and cheer is hard, Steven. I needed this.”

“I believe you.” He shoves the tray of fries toward her. “Have as many as you want.” She smiles gratefully, and they go quiet again as they finish eating. Hyde leans back on his hands with a sigh. She’s finished too, tucking all the trash into the paper bags and taking the last sip of her pop before throwing that in too. She hops off the hood, tosses the bags in the back, and scrambles back on, her skirt riding up on her thighs as she sits. Jackie shivers and pulls her knees up to her chest, hugging her legs tightly. Hyde raises an eyebrow and nudges her with his elbow. “You cold?”

“I’m fine,” she says brightly, but she’s trembling. He sighs and pulls off his sweatshirt, draping it over her legs. She pulls it on quickly, and soon she’s relaxed, letting her legs swing off the hood and the sleeves of the sweatshirt covering her hands. She looks over at him and smiles, and Hyde realizes he’s been staring. He clears his throat and looks up at the starry sky, twisting his ring around as she swings her legs. They stay like that for a while, just enjoying each other’s company, until Jackie softly says, “Thanks for tonight, Steven.”

He wrinkles his brow. “What, for dinner? Man, I should be thanking you for that discount.”

She giggles and bumps his shoulder with hers. “Not that. I mean, not just for that.” she tucks her hair behind her ear, and her voice turns nervous. “Tonight was really special. I didn’t know if you would come to the game, and I’m really glad you did. Thank you.”

“I don’t like to break promises,” he responds simply, turning his head to look at her. She’s flushed, her long eyelashes brushing her cheeks as she looks down. She sniffles quietly, and he realizes she’s crying. “Oh, come on, doll, don’t cry. Hey,” he says quietly as he slides closer to her, their legs pressed together. “It’s no big deal.”

“It was for me.” She dabs under her eyes with the sweatshirt sleeves and rests her head on his shoulder. “And you always deal with Michael, and you made sure everyone came to watch me perform. It meant a lot.”

“I just wanted you to have a good game.” She lifts her head and nods. “I know you’ve been having a tough time. Wanted to do something to cheer you up.” He takes a deep breath and hooks his sunglasses on his shirt. Moment of truth. “Look, Jackie, I was wondering if you maybe wanted to go out sometime. Somewhere nicer than Fatso Burger and the woods, I promise.”

“Oh, Steven…” She looks at him, meeting his eyes. “I’m flattered, I really am. It’s just... I’m not really ready to start dating again, after Michael and everything.” He nods, feeling more disappointed than he expected. “It’s not personal, I promise, I just need time. I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t apologize.” He puts his glasses back on and absently scratches his chin. “I get it. But, you know. Just wanted you to know.” It goes quiet, and he hastily adds, “And I won’t push or anything. But if you ever feel ready…” he puts his hand over hers where it rests in between them and pats it gently. “I’ll be there.”

“That’s actually… really sweet.” She smiles at him, but its not the usual megawatt smile she saves for him. Its quiet, gentle. It's silent for a few minutes until she speaks again. “So, my dad got me a tutor a few years ago that taught me where the different constellations and stars and stuff are if you want to stargaze a while. Or we can head back if you want.” She adds the last bit quickly, but he shakes his head.

“Nah, nah. Stargazing sounds cool.” He lies back, linking his hands behind his head and using them as a pillow. “All I know is the Big Dipper.”

Chapter Text

Jackie squeezes her way in between Hyde and Donna for the third day in a row, setting down her lunchbox and immediately talking as if this is a normal occurrence, and Donna looks at him, eyebrows raised, for the third day in a row, knowing it isn’t. He sighs and shakes his head. Letting it happen is much easier than asking her why she isn’t with the cheerleaders.

Kelso’s sitting on his other side, but he doesn’t notice Jackie at all. It’s strange until Hyde notices him staring across the room at a cheerleader who would never give him the time of day. Hyde smirks and tunes back into Jackie and Donna’s conversation, which has turned towards diets and cheer. “I mean, look at this,” Donna’s saying as she pulls a plastic bag of carrots out of Jackie’s lunchbox. “That’s not a meal.”

Jackie quickly yanks the bag out of her hands and pulls a carrot out. “Whatever,” she mumbles as she takes a bite, tucking her hair behind her ear. “It’s just the two days before games. The rest of the week we can eat whatever we want.” Hyde snorts, remembering her eating half his fries after the football game. “What?” Jackie asks indignantly, turning to him.

“Nothing.” She smiles and raises her eyebrows, leaning her shoulder against his. She’s close enough he can smell her perfume- something limey and light and intoxicating- and he clears his throat slightly. “Just thinking about you eating all my fries on Friday.”

She gasps, faking upset, her eyes crinkling with a smile at the corners. “Okay, that is a lie and you know it!”

“Fine, half my fries.” She sticks her tongue out at him and goes back to her sad bag of carrots as he shakes his head, takes a Twinkie out of his lunch bag, and slips it in front of her. She doesn’t notice- she’s already turned back to Donna- and he knows she’s probably going to give it right back, but he knows how much she hates this phony diet. At least he’s given her an opportunity to cheat.

Kelso’s still staring at the cheerleader, and now she’s looking back, batting her eyelashes. “Man, Mallory is so hot,” Kelso says, cutting off whatever longwinded story Fez was in the middle of. “Do you think she puts out?”

“Oh, Kelso, that’s rude,” Fez responds, and Hyde almost has hope in his friends until he adds, “Can’t you see her necklace?”

“No…”

“It’s a crucifix,” Fez explains.

Kelso laughs stupidly. “What’s a crucifix?”

“She’s not putting out, Kelso,” Hyde says, clapping him on the shoulder.

“Damn!” But he’s still staring at her, and Mallory puts her hand over her mouth and turns away. Kelso scrambles to stand. “Be right back.”

Hyde shakes his head with a laugh and Fez sighs. “Where’s he off to?” Jackie asks as she opens Hyde’s Twinkie, delicately taking a bite before she twists the plastic shut and putting it in her lunchbox.

“Flirting with a cheerleader.” Hyde knocks his knee against hers gently. “Not gonna finish the Twinkie?”

She shakes her head absently as her eyes narrow and look towards the cheerleaders’ table. Hyde looks over with her, and sure enough, Kelso’s got one foot on the bench and ios leaning over Mallory, whos giggling and tucking her hair behind her ear. “Ugh, Mallory Bannigan?” Jackie says with a hint of disgust. “She doesn’t put out.”

“That’s what I said!” Fez huffs before slouching over and picking at his lunch.

“A woman’s worth isn’t determined by if she puts out or not,” Donna interjects.

“It is for Kelso.” Jackie sounds… not quite jealous, but bitter. Like she pities Mallory for having to put up with boys like Kelso.

It hits Hyde again, that he’s no better than Kelso. That he’s being just as manipulative to Jackie as Kelso was, that if he’s not careful he’ll hurt her just as bad. No matter how he’s planning on getting her to dump him.

His thoughts are interrupted by Jackie jostling him in her rush to stand, and she doesn’t even say goodbye before she dashes over to her cheer friends. Hyde can’t help but laugh as she shoves Kelso away and promptly sits next to Mallory, whispering in her ear. Probably warnings about Kelso. The girls are still whispering and giggling as the bell rings, and Kelso walks back to get his bag, cursing Jackie under his breath. “She ruined my chances! Again!” His anger quickly dissipates into a mischievous smile. “Hey, she keeps taking girls away from me. She definitely isn’t over me.” Hyde slams his fist into Kelso’s shoulder, causing Kelso to yelp and stumble into Fez. “Damn, Hyde!”

“She’s over you, man. Now you need to get over her.”

“I’m totally over her! God.”

“Good. Leave her alone, then.”

Donna breaks off first- her class is in the opposite direction- and Hyde is considering ditching his last two classes, but he’s pulled off to the side by Kelso randomly. He stumbles sideways slightly, looking up at Kelso’s worried eyes. “You mean she’s really over me?”

Hyde pauses for a second, trying to figure out Kelso’s motive. “Feels bad for every girl you touch. Wants nothing to do with you.”

Kelso sighs, his eyes darting to the floor. “Damn.”

“Sorry, man.”

“No, it’s fine… I just thought maybe....” Kelsoputs his hand on Hyde’s shoulder. “Well, in that case… I’m backing off. She’s all yours.”

“Sorry, what?” He can’t help the shock that seeps into his voice.

“I mean it. I won’t try to get in your way anymore.” Kelso makes a motion with his hands like a bird flying away. “That’s Jackie being set free.”

“Well, misogyny aside… that’s decent of you, Kelso.” Kelso nods, looking proud of himself, and Hyde narrows his eyes. “Wait- so you won’t flirt with her or try to trash me anymore? Or make weird comments about her?”

“No, Hyde, what part of letting her go don’t you get?” Kelso asks, rolling his eyes. “But, this only works if you treat her right. She already had one crappy boyfriend, she doesn’t need another.”

“Did you forget I’m being paid to date her?” Hyde asks dryly.

Kelso squawks with contempt. “No!” He pauses for a second. “Well, maybe. But she can’t find out, and you cant break her heart.”

“Yeah, I’ll do my best,” he scoffs, starting to shove past to walk to his car, but Kelso shoves him back in front of him.

“I mean it, Hyde. I know I hurt her pretty bad, but I’m pretty sure this would hurt her way more than me cheating on her all the time.”

“Kelso…” Hyde sighs, but it’s easier to explain it than to just ask for his trust that he’ll be better than Kelso ever was. “The plan is to annoy her into breaking up with me, okay? No cheating, or fighting, or anything from her relationship with you that hurt her. Just my special brand of pissant.”

Kelso considers it for a second before nodding solemnly and stepping aside, allowing Hyde to finally shove past him and dash out of the school. He needs a cigarette, but the closest he’ll get is a circle by himself.

Chapter Text

No one expects Jackie to come over this weekend- Donna’s busy helping her mom, and Kelso’s in Madison visiting family- but she shows up early Saturday morning, her steady stream of chatter and Kitty’s laugh slowly waking Hyde up. He forces himself out of bed, gets ready for the day, and heads into the main room. Jackie’s flipping through a magazine and still talking- something about Sonny and Cher- even as Mrs. Forman goes back upstairs, leaving Jackie talking to the air. 

She doesn’t look up when he walks in front of her, but she quiets when he flicks the TV on to watch Saturday morning cartoons and glances over when he sits next to her on the couch and kicks his feet up, his boots thudding dully against the table. Jackie raises her eyebrows slightly. “Good morning to you, too,” she says before going back to her magazine. “How’d you sleep?”

Hyde’s taken aback for a second- he always is when Jackie’s polite. Especially to him. “Okay. Until you woke me up.” 

She rolls her eyes. “Oh, please. I wasn’t talking that loudly.” She glances over at him. “Was I?”

He wants to tell her that yes, she was that loud, and she usually is, but when he meets her eyes, there’s a glint of insecurity in them, something he never thought he would see in her. The Jackie he knows isn’t insecure about anything, and for some reason, he can’t muster the words to tear her down. “Uh… no. Nah, it was a joke.” Jackie grins, pleased at his answer, and goes back to her magazine. She hums softly under her breath, and they stay quiet for a while. The silence is comfortable, and he could stay like this all day, but Forman and Fez come bounding down the stairs. Hyde can’t help but feel disappointed. It felt like he was finally making headway on the plan, but it’s hard to act like the guy Jackie wants when his friends are around, egging him on, getting him to do something stupid. 

Forman looks around, his face quickly falling. “Donna’s not here?”

“She told us she was busy, remember?” Fez says as he opens the deep freeze. He takes a second, looking through, before closing it with a sigh. “No Kelso either… and someone ate all the orange popsicles.” He huffs before sitting in the lawn chair, sulking.

“Well, I know, but I just thought…”  Forman shakes his head. “I thought maybe she would skip out.”

“Come on, man,” Hyde says. “She would have told you before she came in here.”

“He’s right,” Jackie adds in a sing-songy voice. “I mean, you’re totally her favorite.” She flips the page in her magazine and closes it, looking up at Forman with a judgemental gaze. “I don’t really get why.” 

Hyde can’t help but laugh, and Jackie looks proud of herself. Fez smiles slightly, but quickly starts pouting again, and Forman looks like he’s about to go on one of his “Kick Jackie Out of the Basement” campaigns. Instead, he picks up a Lego box and settles in on the floor in front of the TV. Even with Kelso and Donna gone, it feels like a normal Saturday, just quieter. More peaceful. The only thing missing is-

“Hey, you know what would make Legos more fun?” Fez says suddenly.

“Circle?” Jackie asks hopefully. Fez’s grin is wicked, and Jackie claps excitedly and pulls out the incense holder for Forman to light. She makes a move to turn on music before Hyde pulls her back. 

“No ABBA, no Captain & Tennille, none of that crap.”

Jackie groans. “Fine.” Hyde releases her hand, and Jackie stomps over to the records. She picks through while he gets his stash out of his room, and holds up a Grateful Dead album for approval when he comes back out. He nods, and she turns the volume down slightly before settling in right next to him. 

He lights up, takes a hit- and another- before passing it to Jackie. It’s cute, the way she smokes- she’s careful, taking a few tiny pulls before passing it on. Like she’s too delicate to take a big hit. 

Maybe she is too delicate. 

Forman frowns for a second before he takes a hit, and Fez does too, and when it gets back to Hyde he can see why. There’s a ring of pink lip gloss staining the rolling paper. “Jackie…” She looks over at him, her eyes wide and innocent but smiling like she knows what she did. “Come on, man, we told you. Wipe off your lipstick if you’re gonna smoke.”

“Oops,” she giggles, and he just sighs. 

They sit for a while, laughing as Jackie eats the middle out of the Oreos and passes the cookie part to Fez, and Forman fumbles with Lego pieces as his vision blurs, and Hyde attempts to explain why parents don’t like the Grateful Dead, and w hen he goes to pass to Jackie, for what she says is her last hit, she doesn’t take it out of his hand. She leans over and wraps her lips around the joint, just inches away from his fingers, and takes one of those tiny hits before she takes it from him. His mouth drops open in surprise, and Jackie’s bloodshot eyes look at him like she knows what she just did. 

She smiles and passes it to Forman, who’s been too busy talking about Donna to notice anything, and no one notices the way Hyde is still staring, dumbstruck, at Jackie’s lips.





Fez leaves soon after, and nothing is funnier than watching him stumble up the basement steps, trying not to fall, and Jackie gets bored of watching Eric struggle with his Legos and plops down on the floor to help. She’s sobering up much faster, and she clicks the pieces together quickly. At some point, Forman just sits back and watches her, and she’s almost completely silent. 

It’s weird. 

“Dinner’s ready!” Mrs. Forman calls down, startling Jackie out of her haze.”Oh, Jackie, are you staying?”

“It’s okay, I’m sure the housekeeper can make me something,” Jackie says, standing up to gather her things. 

“Oh, nonsense. You can eat with us!” Mrs. Forman laughs. “Everyone wash up!”

It’s a quiet dinner, mostly, except for Jackie complementing Kitty’s cooking, until Red starts talking about how the damn Toyota is acting up again. 

“Oh, Mr. Forman, if you want help with fixing it up, I can hold the flashlight for you,” Jackie exclaims suddenly.

“Well,” Red says, sounding surprised, “thank you, Jackie.”

Forman chokes. “Or, uh, I can help, Dad.”

“Eric, I can even see my own hands when you hold the flashlight,” Red says before turning to Jackie. “How about… after school on Monday?”

“I’ll be here,” Jackie promises, smiling, and Hyde is shocked, and a little proud, too, to see Jackie actually volunteering to do work instead of think to just take it into the shop. But it kind of makes sense. She likes to do stuff with her hands- makeup and magazines and Legos- working on cars falls under that. 

Forman sulks the rest of the meal, and Red seems happier now that he has a competent assistant, and before Hyde knows it, Kitty’s clearing the table as Jackie says her goodbyes. “It was great, Mrs. Forman, thank you.”

“Oh, anytime.” Kitty smiles. “It’s nice having you here. It’s like having Laurie around but much less…” she wiggles her fingers. “Worrisome.”

Jackie grins and heads to the basement. Hyde, for some reason, follows her, his feet moving faster than his brain. “Hey, did you drive?” he says as he follows her down the stairs. “I can give you a ride.”

She shakes her head and grabs her purse. “It’s okay, I drove over.” She looks up at him with big eyes. “But you can walk me to my car?”

“Yeah. Yeah, of course.” She smiles and heads for the basement door, letting Hyde open it for her and follow her up the steps. It’s not far, just down the street, but they both drag their feet slightly, the walk taking longer than usual. Jackie shivers, and Hyde automatically throws his arm around her shoulders, rubbing his hand up and down her arm to warm her up. She smiles gratefully, leans against him, and takes a deep breath. 

She pulls away when they get to her car. “I’ll see you tomorrow?” she asks hopefully. 

“You don’t have church?”

“I don’t really go if my parents are out of town,” she says mischievously. “Why, do you?” 

Her tone is teasing, but Hyde still bristles. “Hell no. Church is just a sorry excuse for a bunch of money hungry do-gooders to shove propaganda down your throat, and-” She laughs, and he stops talking just to listen to it- a disturbing new development. He shakes off the feeling creeping over him. “I mean. No, I don’t.”

“Great. See you in the morning.” she hops in her car and starts it, but rolls down her window just before she peels off to shout, “Be up early!”

Hyde just groans and heads back to the house. 




 

“Jackie get there alright?” Mrs. Forman asks the second he’s in the house. 

“Yeah. All good.” He scratches the back of his neck awkwardly.

“That’s good…” She trails off as she tries to get a piece of food off a plate. “So, is she your girlfriend yet?”

The ‘yet’ throws him for a loop- she can’t know about the deal, right? “I’m, uh, not sure what you mean, Mrs. F.”

She laughs slightly. “Well, honey, you’ve been pining after her for ages, haven’t you? I saw the way you were looking at her dinner. You weren’t exactly subtle.”

Hyde relaxes his shoulders slightly. Not the deal, just her being a romantic. He considers denying, but that would just create confusion when they do start dating. “Not yet. I’m working on it.”

“Oh, good.” She pulls off her gloves and dries her hands before she walks out of the kitchen. “I think you two would make a great pair.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Forman,” he responds with just a touch of dejection. He looks in the cupboard to see if there's any good late night snacks, and heads to the basement with a cookie wrapped in a napkin for later, thinking about the last thing Mrs. Forman had said. 

They wouldn’t make a great pair, Hyde knows that. They spent a year antagonizing each other, then a few months with Jackie being infatuated with him before finally getting over it, and now…. 

Now they have a strange sort of friendship, and Hyde doesn’t completely hate it. They still push each other's buttons constantly, still act like oil and water, but it's different. They know each other now. 

Maybe not a great pair. Maybe not a good pair. 

But they could make an explosive pair. 






Jackie wasn’t kidding when she said to be up early, and she’s grabbing his hand and pulling him out of bed to prove it. “Damn, Jackie, what’s the rush?” he says groggily, but he lets her pull him into sitting upright. 

“It’s already 9:30, Steven, and there’s so much to do?”

“Like… ?”




 

It's the wrong question to ask, because now he’s leaning grumpily against the wall at some fancy store while Jackie puts on a fashion show of sweaters and fancy jeans and dresses, showing each new outfit off to get approval from a saleslady. 

Okay, maybe he’s not that grumpy. 

She looks good in everything. Of course, she does. God, she could wear a potato sack and still glow. He watches her parade in and out of the dressing room, and finally, she calls out, “Okay, last one!” 

Hyde’s prepared to complain about how long it took, or that it's too many clothes, or that the store freaks him out, but the words dry up in his mouth. 

The last dress is short and flowy, a purple color that brings out the green in her eyes and the tan in her skin. It drapes suggestively around her bust, and there’s just so much skin . He doesn’t know where to look first- her legs or her chest or her neck or her eyes. 

“You like it?” Jackie asks, smiling like she knows exactly what he’s thinking.

Uh ….” He finally lets his gaze settle around her shoulders. “Yeah. Looks good. Let’s go.” The last phrase is said hastily as he turns around. “I’ll meet you out front.” He walks away as fast as he can, trying to get the image of Jackie in that dress out of his mind, but his thoughts quickly turn into how soon he can see it on her again. 

Jackie is, objectively, totally hot. He’s told her that. But he’d thought that her abrasiveness had worn off that shiny layer of hot cheerleader and left just an annoying girl. That dress put the layer back on, even thicker, and Hyde can almost imagine going on a date with Jackie for something real, for something important. 

It’s the dress, man. Snap out of it . He shakes his head and stares at passersby, waiting for Jackie to be ready. 

She walks out a few minutes later, handing a bag to Hyde and chattering about the trip. “I mean, can you believe that one woman told me to wear more green?” She scoffs. “Obviously, I have green undertones! I can’t walk around looking like a grape, or something!”

“More like an olive,” Hyde says, unlocking the car. “Too tan for a grape.” She laughs at that, and he smiles at her crookedly. “Back home?”

“Stop by my house first. I want to put these away.”



 

When they get back to the Forman’s, they sit quietly, drinking pop and watching a rerun of a show. Hyde makes fun of the characters, and Jackie hushes him, and it feels like they’ve done this before- hung out, no questions, no strings. Just friends. As far as Jackie is concerned, at least- she thinks that he’s into her, and just keeping them as friends respectfully. 

She sits close to him, and when she finishes her pop, she stretches and looks around. “TV is so boring on Sundays. It’s all news and shows my mom watches.” 

“What do you want to do instead?”

“Hmm…” She takes her time, scanning the basement for something. “Do you play chess?”

“Better than Forman,” Hyde says, oddly cocky, trying to show off.

“Want to teach me?” Hyde raises an eyebrow in question, and Jackie quickly adds, “My dad said he would teach me, but he never got around to it. Too busy. So?”

He lets out a mock annoyed sigh. “Alright. Do you know how to set up the board?” She shakes her head. “Okay. I’ll do that, you-” he points at the record player- “ Houses of the Holy. Led Zeppelin. Cover has a bunch of naked climbing people on it.” 

“Really? You listen to them constantly,” she complains, but she gets up and starts searching for it as Hyde pulls out the box with the chess pieces in it, letting them clatter as he puts them on the board one by one. ‘Song Remains the Same’ starts up, and she sits back on the couch, right next to the side table, as Hyde pulls his white chair closer. 

“White goes first.” He moves a pawn forward two spaces. “You can only move two on your first turn.” Jackie looks carefully, and slides one of her own forward. “All the pieces move differently. Pawns go straight forward, one square at a time. Knights-” 

“The horses, right?” She asks, picking one up. 

“Yeah, the… horses. They move like this.” He picks it out of her hand carefully and ignores how warm her fingers are as he demonstrates. “Has to be an L- two spaces up and one space out, or the other way around.” He passes it back to her, and picks up her bishop. “Diagonal only, as long as you want, but only empty squares. Rooks-” 

“Castle.” She hands him her piece.

“Yeah. Forward or sideways, as many empty spaces.” Sets it down and picks up her queen. “This is your most powerful player. The queen can move any direction, as many empty spaces as you want. And the King can move any direction, one space at a time.” 

“Of course the queen is more powerful than the king,” she says haughtily, fluffing up her hair. “Exactly like real life.”

Hyde chuckles and sets her pieces down. “So if I moved this pawn,” he says, trying to get Jackie’s mind back on the board, “I can now move another pawn, or my rook. See?” 

She nods, watches him slide his rook forward, and frowns down at her board. Her queen is open, and she slides forward another pawn, one in front of a bishop. “Good?”

“Yeah, that's good. Watch where my pieces go. Watch where yours go.” 

They go back and forth, Hyde coaching her as she goes and helping her with a few moves. The game is simple, and he doesn’t bring in any of the fancy rules, just lets Jackie find her bearings. She hums along to the music, and takes risks, and makes silly comments, but she gets it. Jackie’s smart. Not everyone realizes it- Hyde certainly didn’t for a while- but she picks up things quickly and can laser focus, and Hyde doesn’t get why she keeps talking about her horse when she’s so close to getting him in check. “You sure you’ve never played before?”

She shakes her head. “My mom always said it was a game for the men, and Michael wasn’t exactly known for his brain.” She looks up at him, eyes flashing. “Why? Am I doing okay?”

Hyde slides his bishop forward two spaces, so close to her king- but she’s got it well protected. “Yeah. Really good.”

“Must be my natural talent,” she says, laughing. But there’s a shake in it, and Hyde can tell she’s trying to play off her skill. 

“Seriously, Jackie,” He looks at her, taking off his sunglasses, “You’re really smart. You’re getting the hang of this quickly. Why are you playing dumb?”

She lets out a deep breath through her nose, biting her lip and looking away. “You’re gonna think it’s stupid.”

“No, I think someone who’s never played chess before beating me is stupid.” She giggles at that one, looking back up at him and smiling proudly. “Come on, doll. What’s up?”

“I guess… I mean, all cheerleaders are supposed to be beautiful, but not very bright, you know?” She tucks her hair behind her ear. “And my mother always told me boys don’t want girls who know more than them. And then I started dating Michael, and I always had to make things simple for him. I’m just used to it at this point.”

“Bullshit.” The word comes out of his mouth before he can stop it. “It’s bullshit that you gotta act like a moron to fit in,” he hastily finishes. 

She laughs nervously. “I think the proper term for pretty stupid women is ‘bimbo,’ actually,” she tries to joke, but it falls flat from her nerves. 

“Fine. You shouldn’t have to be a ‘bimbo’ to fit in with your stupid friends.” 

“God, Steven why do you even care this much?” Her voice has a hint of a challenge in it, and it’s making her just that much more attractive. 

He moves his knight and takes out one of her pawns; she moves her rook and captures his bishop, so close to the king. “Jackie, you gotta know you’re already hot without acting stupid.”  She flushes, that lock of hair falling in her face again. “But you should know,” he says, tucking it back behind her ear, “that I’m more into smart girls.” She takes a sharp little inhale, and Hyde can’t help but stare at her lips. 

He doesn’t move his hand from her face, even as she leans in, even as her lips start to part so slightly, and he would take this home now, he’d be fulfilling his end of the plan, he’d be kissing Jackie

Forman explodes down the stairs, yelling about how Donna kissed him on the cheek after church, and Jackie pulls away. Her face is red, and Hyde’s is so warm he knows it’s probably the same shade. “It was so… cool. And I think-” he stops, watching as Jackie fixes her hair and Hyde slides his glasses back on. “What’s going on down here?”

“Nothing,” they both say quickly, and Jackie abruptly stands and gets her purse. “I think I should head home,” she says loudly. “I had fun today Hyde. Thank you.”

He’s slightly dazed, but he nods and manages to say, “Want me to walk you to your car?” She shakes her head, leans down to kiss him on the cheek, and waves a quick goodbye to Forman before vanishing out the basement door and into the street.

He turns on Hyde the second she’s gone. “ Houses of the Holy ? Chess? Sunglasses off?” He smiles conspiratorially. “You were trying to seal the deal!”

Hyde grunts and starts cleaning up from the game. “I would have been able to if you hadn’t randomly burst in.” As he slides the box back under the table, he sees Jackie’s magazine, forgotten in her rush to escape. He carefully straightens it out on top of the coffee table so she can easily find it, and stands up, stretching.

“Wait a minute.” Forman looks at the magazine. “Did you just willingly put a tabloid on top of the coffee table? I thought that was reserved for Rolling Stone .”

“Whatever, man. It’s just so she can find it later.” But his eyes glance off to the wall, not looking directly at Forman.

“Hyde, man… I think you might actually like Jackie.” His tone is light and teasing. Hyde’s fist to his arm is not. “Ow! Come on, you really aren’t into her?”

“Forman, man,” he says, mimicking him. “It’s called acting. Ever heard of it?”

Forman rolls his eyes, clearly not believing him, and opens his mouth to respond, but his mom calls them for dinner and the words die in his mouth.  

They head up the stairs, and Hyde waits until Forman’s back is turned to him to press his fingertips to his cheek. To where Jackie gave him another one of those tantalizingly close kisses. It’s warm there, and it lets him know that he’s closer to finishing this stupid plan.

But he’s not sure he wants to be closer.