Hyde lays back on his cot. One arm pillowed under his head and the other cradling Jackie. He listens to Jackie’s soft breathing and it is failing to do its magic. Normally listening to her soft breath and her heart beating on his chest is his favorite lullaby, but tonight his weary brain keeps circling around the word Truth . He is so tired of how his friends use it.
Truth . A curious word Hyde considers.
A word that means so many different things to so many people. His friends would laugh at that and ask if he was high or if this was his Zen crap. The truth is, he is smarter than all of them. He always has been, so he understands that truth is in the eye of the beholder. He knows that truth is about perspective and that sometimes we lie to ourselves and call it truth. He knows we all have a personal truth, and that truth isn’t accurate. More importantly, he knows there is a key difference between truth and honesty. No one ever wants to be honest, because honesty is unrelenting and unforgiving. There is no perspective. It is what it is and you can't hide from it in the middle of the night when you can’t turn your lie into truth anymore.
He lays looking at his dark ceiling staring honesty in the face, the unforgiving, painful, facts that can’t be excused anymore, his friends disappoint him.
Hyde knows their personal truths protect them from being honest, in recognizing that Kelso is a giant jerk. The stare it in the face reality is he isn’t shocked by Kelso’s behavior. He has always been a giant dick. They all know if they are being factual, which apparently no one is being but him, Kelso has always been far from harmless. Kelso grew up with 6 brothers. If he couldn’t plot, plan, and torture with the best of them, he wouldn’t have made it out of infancy. The disappointing fact is he had not thought about it too much because he had always deemed that Kelso kept his jackassry in normal range.
The honesty that burns harshly inside of him is he's more than weary, he is exhausted. He’s over the drama. He’s had it with his friends not understanding. He is simply done with the whole “creepy and unnatural” thing, and he can’t be held responsible for his reaction the next time he hears those words. Because the reality is they have no idea how perfectly natural Jackie and him are. The honest truth is, together they are the most obvious thing in the world.
The no getting around it he simply wants to be left alone to be with Jackie, it’s why he wanted to hide it. Not because he was ashamed, not because he was worried about hurting Kelso’s feelings (fuck, Kelso, he thinks), but because he didn’t want the world intruding in. He simply wants his friends to go away.
A soft sigh distracts him, and he looks down, and he is instantly soothed. There she is curled to him like he is her home. If he is honest and this appears to be the night for it this girl, he has never been able to understand what she does to him, but she makes him go out of his mind.
He sometimes wonders if Eric is accurate, not that she is the devil, but she is otherworldly, because he has never met someone who causes such an extreme reaction like Jackie does.
He quietly laughs to himself, even Red, the King of the Hard Asses, is not immune to Jackie. He has seen Red’s eyes soften when looking at her. She is the only one who Red has willingly ever invited into his garage. True, it helps Jackie has a natural affinity for cars, but despite the fact Red would deny it up and down, he has seen Red actual talk to Jackie, and she is the only one he ever asks about.
His face that looks like a glacier will crease and his gruff tone will demand
“Where’s the Loud One? Did you take the Loud One Home? I don’t want the Loud One walking home.”
He, Eric, Fez or whoever is closest has accompanied Jackie home without blinking. No one argues with Red.
He also knows the night Kelso blew town he witnessed Red holding Jackie in the garage, sobbing into his shirt. He’s known Eric almost his whole life, and he is positive, he has never held his real children like that. The indisputable honest reality is Red’s face was murderous and if Kelso had been near, he would have been a dead man.
For now, he decides, if the hardest man he knows can fall under the spell of Jackie, what chance did he ever have? His eyes caress her face, he doesn’t care he is under her spell. He wants Jackie. He needs Jackie.
His eyes clench tighter, and he pulls her to him because he needs to examine the two years apart from Jackie, and if he is going down that rabbit hole, he needs her as his anchor because that time was hell. The fight when they were in junior high was not because
“He was ashamed of her” she accused hotly
“That he was embarrassed to tell Kelso how they met! She stomped her feet and yelled.
Nor was it,
“She wasn’t important enough to meet the people he loved most.” She cried.
What he couldn’t say then because he was too proud was he didn’t want to introduce her to his friends because he didn’t want to share her. He wanted what he had with Jackie to just be his.
He had yelled if that was what she believed about him that she was fucking stupid and it went rapidly down hill from there. It ended with him stomping out of her house and her yelling
“I hate you and I never want to talk to you again”
Neither willing to back down or apologize even though they hated being apart.
If he is being sincere the two years he was separated from Jackie is when his most destructive behavior started. It’s when he got into more fights, stole more and when he found the joys of pot. Getting high, calmed his gnawing fear he had screwed up the most important thing in his life, because even then he knew Jackie was special. She made him feel like maybe he wasn’t the trash he knows deep down he is. He would never admit it because he hates to appear weak, but the beautiful truth is the day she marched into the basement was the greatest day of his life.
Hyde runs his fingers down her neck. He feels the distinct pleasure he is allowed to touch her like this now after craving it for so long. He picks up the silver chain that is a guided path to her breasts. He knows what sits there. A beautiful silver grasshopper. She hasn’t been without it since he put it around her neck.
He sighs a little, the necklace is a perfect example of the difference between truth and honesty.
The truth is yes he gave it to her because he knew she would love it.
The truth is he doesn’t have much, and he wanted to mark her some way on the outside as his.
The honest reason is he did it to piss Kelso off. To make sure that mother fucking rainbow necklace never appears on her neck again. He wants it evident to Kelso he has been replaced.
Hyde has never hated anything as much as the stupid plastic rainbow necklace. He knows Kelso gave it back to her, he noticed it one day when he put something away in her drawer by her bed. He knows that despite whatever Jackie says... her truth is, she will always forgive Kelso. He doesn’t understand it and it is the only thing they fight about. He has seen her forgive him a million times. Hasn’t he held her while she cried? Haven't they fought for years that she deserves better? Every damn time she softens. Despite, all the shit that happened in the basement not too long ago, he can recognize the forgiveness starting to appear in her eyes.
It kills him. It fuels his jealousy. It is what causes him to blow up and demand she stay the fuck away from Kelso.
Because his deepest HONEST fear is Jackie loves Kelso more than him and will leave him one day.
Because the honest truth is he loves Jackie with everything he has. She doesn't know it, but she owns him, mind, body and soul, and she has for years. He loved Jackie long before Kelso even began to understand his feelings for Jackie.
The bitter reality, and he knows it would hurt Jackie, is despite his love for her, he doesn’t trust her. She can make piss poor decisions and almost all of them involve the dillhole who has been blocking him from Jackie for years.
Hyde protects what matters to him. He does it without hesitation and without regard to his own wellbeing. All of them have benefited from that side of him. There is not a person in Point Place who fucks with Hyde’s people and if they do they never do it again. When you grow up with nothing and you are raised to believe you are worthless, and trained that every hit you got was your fault you hoard what is good. You protect it obsessively. He’s been over the top protective of Jackie since childhood. It sprang to life the day he picked her up and gave her a piggy back ride home.
He grimly remembers that fucker who tried to rape Jackie. He is alive only because she was screaming at him to stop. He would have crushed his head into the concrete without hesitation and without guilt. He shivers and pulls her close. That was the worst night of his life. He still has nightmares where he hears her screams, and he can’t get to her. His need and desire to protect Jackie overwhelms him sometimes. A world where she is hurt or no longer here is a hell that can never be, that he will never allow.
If he is honest with himself, his feelings are hurt, not that he would ever admit it out loud. He is hurt, his oldest friends would think he would throw away a lifetime of friendship for a piece of ass. Every one of them knows he has never had more than flings that were just about sex. He has never been in a serious relationship. How could he? He loves Jackie, and always has. It is hideous and unkind of him, but at least he never lied to any of those girls. He sure as hell didn’t let them cuddle up on his lap in front of his friends.
The honest life changing truth is the fight in the basement was altering for him. He would have said nothing would cause him to choose anyone or anything over a friendship with Eric. That is a truth that is now gone. He knows now he would choose Jackie over all of them. Now that she is fully his, he would leave it all behind and be with her. So for them to presume he would throw it all away just for sex, when he has been loyal and done anything and everything for them is incredibly painful.
This realization will matter later, when he must make a decision that will literally change everyone in the basement. Young 18 year old Hyde has no idea how vital that change in allegiance is, but tonight it is just a promise not yet fulfilled.
Hyde has been examining his friends since the blow out. Unlike his friends, he is plenty reflective, and he is aware of the best and the worst of himself and them.
Hyde likes Donna and would kill someone for her, but he thinks she is weak. No matter how mad he is at Eric right now, he feels anger on his behalf. Donna smashed Eric’s heart and her arrogant belief that she could just walk back into Eric’s life after she paraded around town with Casey Kelso of all people, pisses him off.
It fundamentally changed how he views her. Her behavior screams of Kelso. It is that selfish mentality
“I'm done hurting you so you must take me back.”
Eric for once grew a pair and said “No, I won’t be your second choice.”
She bolted with her best friend's boyfriend. Never a call, never an apology. Never an ounce of worry about the wreckage she was leaving behind. She and Kelso are identical. It’s okay to hurt someone or just blow everything up but it's a crime for someone to do it to them.
He has never been able to put his finger on it, but Donna has a strange fondness for Kelso, and he has never understood why because it goes against her so called “belief system” Despite her saying she is a feminist and all of her “treat women equal speeches” it doesn’t ever seem to apply to Jackie.
Donna never told Jackie that Kelso was cheating, never even hinted or tried to get him caught like he did. She claimed she didn’t want to hurt Jackie, but she was fine with Kelso screwing beach bimbos all summer and then yelled at him and Jackie for being together.
He hates hypocrites and currently Kelso and Donna are the reigning King and Queen. Being with Jackie out loud has burned away the excuses he has been fashioning for his friends for years. He is pulled from his musings by a faint click of the basement door. He looks over at his clock, it is about one am. He hears some shuffling and stumbling. He rolls his eyes, it sounds like Forman might be drunk. Red will kill him, and he doesn’t want Red down here, finding Jackie. He is confident, Red would end him on the spot. He gets up gently not wanting to disturb his girl. He covers Jackie, and steps out of his room.
He calls into the darkness,
“You drink too much with Donna and forget how to walk?
He is surprised when he hears
He flips the light and much to his shock there stands a grim looking Kelso. He stares at him. He won't start whatever this show is about to become.
Kelso takes a deep breath and asks
“Is Jackie here? If she is, I don’t want her part of this. I’m here this late so it can be me and you.”
He looks right at him and lies
He will not share any part of his intimacy with Jackie with Kelso.
‘Listen, I want to have it out. You over there, me here. No hitting.
He rolls his eyes
“Are you going to be a prick?
Kelso's grins, and Hyde can for just a second glimpse his old friend.
“Most Likely ”
He smirks back
“Then no promises”
Hell will freeze over before he speaks first. Kelso knows this so he blurts out
He is more than capable of being a bigger prick than Kelso, and Hyde won't make it easy.
He sees the instant pissed off fill Kelso’s eyes, and he watches his lip curl.
“Why did you steal my girl?”
All the tired. All the drama Hyde is sick of, all the falsified truth that has been eating at him flies to the surface.
“She’s not your damn girl Kelso. You left. She broke up with you.”
He doesn't know this Kelso. There is a darkness and ugliness about him.
“She is still mine. Jackie is mine. She belongs to me.”
He’s had enough of this bullshit.
“First off, she is not yours, mine or anyones. She a fucking person, Kelso. Not a toy on a shelf to play with.”
“Second, who the fuck do you think you are? Pam Macy, Laurie, Chick from Perpetual Sorrow, beach trash and whoever else you failed to mention you screwed while dating Jackie, it all stripped you of the claim to be righteous about anything.”
“NONE OF THAT MATTERS!” he yells.
Hyde is blown away by how childish Kelso is being, but he is in this now, so he blows up back.
“Of course it matters. It matters too Jackie!”
He sees an obsessive madness creep up over Kelso and out comes words that are so disturbing and foul he will try to drink them away, so he can forget they were ever said. He will never tell Jackie about them.
“Hyde, why couldn't you have just boned her and then given her back? She can only love me.”
It takes a lot to shock him but “alert the media” he thinks, it has been done. His shock is wiped away by raw rage. In two steps he is in front of Kelso and pushes him up against the wall and use his arm to press menacingly across Kelso’s windpipe.
“Let me be clear with you, you son of a bitch, You, Me, WE don’t own Jackie, and she isn't some slut to pass around until you get bored like your whore of the week. I will not bone her and give her back when I am done. She is not something to be given back you bastard.”
Hyde feels the black desire to crush Kelso’s windpipe, he feels a sing of satisfaction as he watches his face get redder and redder. It is that same feeling that came over him when that football player hurt Jackie. The crave to hurt is coursing through his veins, and he wants to give in to the feeling. He wants to kill him for being so fucking careless with his Doll. He knows his temper is foul and it is completely off the leash and the high of hurting someone he believes deserves it has him past the point of making an ethical decision
Because here is the dark honesty about himself. Right here is the worst of him. Hyde wants to destroy what hurts him. He will seek to cause pain to what is making him miserable. A lifetime of abuse, where he couldn't fight back, has taught him this response. Never again will he be so weak, so any hint of pain causes him to react with keen precision before it hurts him. He has a list of fuck ups he believes Kelso should pay for and in his mind it is time to pay the piper.
Yet, in his darkest place, he feels something on him. He turns his eyes slightly from Kelso’s face there in the shadow of the entry the way to his room is Jackie. Her hair is just waking up a mess and his Led Zeppelin tee shirt is skimming her thighs, with nothing underneath, and he sees the slight glint of her grasshopper in the dark light.
Their eyes meet and they speak. No one will ever understand this about them, and they will never explain, but they can and always have been able to talk without a word.
Her eyes yell
He can hear it in his head, her eyes are so loud.
His yells back with his gaze
“He deserves this.”
He sees her eyes soften. Her gaze pierces him with a soft but stern
“You are better than this.”
There it is, another fucking piece off can’t get around it honesty. Her belief in him. He needs it more than anything. He loves she believes he is good even if he knows he is not. Her steadfast, unwavering belief that he is not the piece of white trash, Keslo called him soothes, the most broken part of his soul, the part that agrees with Kelso. That look puts out his black hate out instantly.
He drops Kelso. He looks over quickly. He is positive, Jackie was spotted only by him, and he wants to compel her with a gaze to go back in his room, but she is gone, almost like she was never there. Kelso lays gasping on the ground, looking at him like he is a maniac. Like once again he has done nothing to provoke this reaction.
In his own madness Kelso can’t stop himself and still feels the compelling urge to prove to Hyde he is wrong. Panting and gasping for air with no understanding why one of his friends almost choked him to death, he gasps out
“I’ve known her longest. I pushed her on the swings. She’s my soul mate. I’ve known her since she was seven.”
Kelso watches a predatory satisfaction come over Hyde’s face.
Hyde crouches down and releases the secret that has been well guarded.
With supreme slyness he lets it all out
Meeting her when she was 6
The Skinned Knee
The Piggy Back Ride
The day Kelso brought her to the basement, and she waited for him to walk her home
All the times he disappeared and wasn't with Kelso or Eric he was with her.
He doesn’t give away their most private moments, those belonging to none but him and his doll, but he does shove the dagger all the way
“I’ve always known about you, but she never told you about me.”
He pushes the dagger again just, so he knows Kelso gets it
“If you count who she belongs to by length, then she’s mine and you better believe she always will be.”
Kelso pushes back and leaves, and he is again left with that tiredness he feels when he thinks about his friends.
He tumbles back to bed. Drained, ready to talk with Jackie, but he finds her asleep. He creases his brow in confusion. No way she went back to sleep. He is surprised she didn’t come hurrying out to break them up. He crouches down and rubs her cheek.
Her eyes flutter open and she whispers tiredly
He doesn’t understand why she is acting like he didn’t just try to kill Kelso in front of her.
“Jackie, I am sorry it got ugly. “I’m sorry baby. He just makes me crazy.”
Her face is filled with confusion. She is still pretty much asleep.
“Steven did you have a bad dream?”
He stumbles back a little. She has no idea what he is talking about. He quickly agrees
“Sure baby. Sorry, I woke you.”
She opens her arms and he falls into them. She presses herself into him and softly whispers
‘I’ll protect you just like you do me.”
Her words rock him, because he realizes he only saw her in his head. That is how far Jackie is in his heart and head. His honest truth is she is his north star, and he knows at this moment he can’t live without her. She is his sun, and her light saves him.
He will think again before he finally drifts to sleep that this is why he wishes no one knew. He simply wants this. To merely be with Jackie and know that he loved her first, and he will make sure he looves her last.
What his sleeping mind can’t know that all his thoughts tonight on honesty and truth will come back to haunt him, and he will forget the difference in a critical moment.
Hyde had no idea that Truth is something being pondered by all his friends tonight.
Because the Truth is Donna wants things to go back to the way they were and her false truth is Hyde and Jackie shouldn't be together.
Because the Truth is Fez, fears not having friends, and he will do what Kelso asks. Kelso is always his friend. He will shut down the voice that tells him it’s wrong, and hope they can all come out on the other end.
Because the Truth is Jackie has no idea how much Kelso upsets Steven, she has no freaking clue. She has no idea that he is deeply insecure. She lives in her blind truth that Steven knows how much she loves him. She says it, but she has no idea that he can’t bring himself to believe it.
Because the truth is Hyde in his own arrogance of truth versus honesty is blind to “as well as he knows his friends” they also know him. He is not quite the enigma he thinks he is.
Because the Truth is Kelso knows Hyde like the back of his hand. He has watched a lifetime of Hyde losing his temper. He is counting on Hyde’s weakness for overreacting. He knows Hyde believes he knows best and refuses to listen to explanations, certain that his brand of truth is 100% correct. He knows this without a shadow of a doubt, and he will use that to bring Hyde down.
Beyond the gray world of truth is a piece of sheer honesty, the basement gang has been underestimating Kelso for years. Hyde would never have predicted that Kelso will go to Donna to spill his guts, and he would never guess that when Kelso throws ups his vile plan to get Jackie back, Donna will agree and never look back.
Hyde can’t know that a day, months in the future, Kelso will ask Donna to make sure Jackie is alone on a day he knows that her and Hyde have plans. He knows their habits, so he listens while Jackie tells Hyde what time to swing over and pick her up at Donna’s. He will make sure that he is freaking out about a sex dream Fez has. Because Kelso does know Jackie, and he knows Jackie won’t stop herself from helping him. He knows she will hug him and cuddle him close. He knows he can get Fez to go along with it. HE KNOWS how to do this.
Kelso knows Hyde will flip out if he sees Jackie hugging him. He knows Hyde’s instant reaction will to be to assume the worst. He will know that Hyde works that night, and Kelso will pay a nurse to hit on Hyde.
Hyde will understand one day that yes, he ultimately was the one who made the fatal decision, but he will not know for a long time Kelso was the one who loaded the gun and aimed it.
This cruel plan will be a rip in Hyde’s and Jackie’s journey. A rip Kelso will use in the future to put his final plan into place, because he understands the idea of playing the long game. Working the Long Con. It might take a while, but Jackie will be his and Hyde will be sorry he ever messed with him.
None of this is true yet. It is all in the dark shadows of the future, but what Hyde doesn’t know, a truth he can’t comprehend with honesty is, He doesn’t know Kelso and Donna and Fez at all.