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Escaping the Friend Zone

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Jackie opened the door to her house unsure if the boy behind her would follow her in. When he did she was surprised, but happy. She did wonder if his mom would worry about where he was. As the night progressed, she was feeling less and less uncomfortable around Hyde and she was excited to have the company.

Hyde let out a low whistle, “Nice digs.”

“Thanks,” Jackie said as she lead him into the large living room.

They both took a seat on the couch. Jackie sat close to the edge and Hyde sat in the middle of the couch leaving a comfortable distance between them.

“Do you want something to drink?” Jackie asked.

“Beer?” Hyde asked wondering how trusting her parents were.

“My dad only drinks whisky,” Jackie said. “Other than that we have water, milk and juice.”

“I’m okay,” Hyde said only briefly taking note that her parents apparently left their liquor cabinet open to her. “Is that the color tv?”

“Yeah.”

“You want to watch?” Hyde asked. “SNL will be on soon.”

“Sure,” Jackie said. She didn’t like SNL, but she thought it would at least give them something to talk about.

“I’m going to go change out of this dress real fast,” Jackie said. “It may look great, but it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world.”

“Whatever,” Hyde said flipping on the tv.

When she made it up the stairs, she immediately started taking out the flowers in her hair and letting the updo down. She then pulled off her dress and changed into her pink flannel pajamas. She wanted to be comfortable and cute, but she also didn’t want to seem suggestive to Hyde. The oversized pajamas were definitely not suggestive, but after staring in the mirror she decided to leave the top three buttons undone just to add a little sexy into the cute.

While she was gone, Hyde took of his jacket, pulled off his tie, untucked his shirt and rolled up the sleeves. He sat back down and waited for her to return.

When Jackie walked back into the living room Hyde was already watching SNL. She took her seat back on the coach. Hyde was a little surprised she had changed into pajamas, but didn’t say anything about it.

“I hate John Belushi,” Jackie said.

“How could you hate John Belushi?” Hyde asked. “He’s hilarious.”

The two feel into a comfortable silence finishing up the episode of SNL. When the show ended Hyde switched the tv channel to a gameshow.

“Jackie,” Hyde asked after a few minutes.

“Hum?” Jackie asked still watching the tv screen.

“Where are you parents?” Hyde asked. Jackie looked at him for a second unsure how to answer. In the car she had already told him more of the truth then she would have usually told anyone. She didn’t see any point in lying now.

“My mom is somewhere in Europe,” Jackie said looking Hyde in the eye. “And my dad is in a politically ‘important’ state. Probably Ohio.”

“How long have they been gone?” Hyde asked.

“My mom’s been gone for almost a month,” Jackie said. “My dad has been gone a week.”

“When are they getting back?” Hyde asked. He wasn’t sure how many of his questions she would answer, but he was going to keep asking until she stopped him.

“I don’t know for my mom,” Jackie said. “I think my dad said he’d be back on Wednesday.”

“You’re able to handle yourself alone and stuff,” Hyde said not really sure if it was a question or a statement.

“Whatever,” Jackie said with a shrug and a sly smile to Hyde.

“Whatever,” Hyde said smiling back.

They went back to watching the tv show in silence. That’s the way they stayed until Jackie started falling asleep. Hyde looked over and saw that she had slumped down so her head was resting on the arm of the couch. It was almost two in the morning and he was surprised she had even stayed up that late. She looked so cute curled up in her oversized pink flannel pajamas. When she wasn’t speaking it was way easier for him to see how attractive she was especially when those cute pajamas were cut very low on her chest. He didn’t want to wake her up, but he figured she should make it up to her room.

Hyde shook her shoulder a little to wake her up. She moaned in her sleep and slowly opened her eyes.

“You’re still here,” she mumbled.

“Yeah,” Hyde said. “You should probably go up to bed.”

“Ummm,” Jackie groaned and rolled over slightly. “Are you leaving?”

“I was actually thinking of crashing on your coach,” Hyde said nervous about how she would respond.

“Okay,” Jackie said rolling back over and closing her eyes again.

“Jackie,” Hyde said. “You should go upstairs.”

“I’m already asleep here,” Jackie said with her eyes still closed.

“Fine, but I don’t want you kicking me all night,” Hyde said as he kicked off his boots and shed his purple button up leaving him in only a wife beater.

“Blankets in the cabinet,” Jackie said pointing to a cabinet on the other side of the room.

“Of course your highness,” Hyde said getting up to grab them both blankets.

“Umm,” Jackie said with a moan and smile. “Princess Jackie.”

Hyde just shook his head and grabbed two blankets. When he made it back to the couch, he threw one over Jackie and then laid down on the opposite side of the coach. He leaned his head against the arm rest and pulled the blanket around himself. The Burkharts had a large couch, but his legs still brushed against hers. She wiggled a bit in her sleep and pushed her legs into his.

“Yeah okay,” Hyde mumbled as he drifted to sleep.


 Sunday passed quickly. Jackie had woken up before Hyde and made coffee and breakfast for them both. She was in a better mood than she normally woke up in. She had a feeling that good mood was only partially because she had gotten a full night’s sleep for the first time in over a week and partially because Hyde had actually stayed.

When Hyde wondered into the kitchen he was surprised by the eggs she handed him. She had been sitting at the table quietly doing her homework still in her flannel pajamas.

They stayed that way, Jackie studying and Hyde sipping on coffee until Jackie closed her books. After breakfast, Jackie changed and Hyde put his button up back on.

When Hyde saw the chess board and challenged Jackie to a game they got caught playing the game for over an hour. Jackie won every time, and even though Hyde claimed he let her they both knew the truth.

They didn’t bother touching on heavy issues and they didn’t mention their friends or Kelso. Instead they transitioned from a comfortable silence to unimportant chatter and then back to silence all day.

Neither mentioned the kiss from the night before. Instead, they just stayed a comfortable distance and enjoyed the other’s company.

Jackie found herself leaning in closer to him every time he rambled about one of his conspiracy theories. And Hyde’s eyes kept dropping to her lips, but by the time it was getting dark neither had stepped over the line.

When the sun had completely fallen and it was dark outside. They decided it was time for Hyde to leave. Jackie never worked up the courage to ask Hyde how he was able to stay out for more than 24 hours, but she promised herself she would eventually ask him. Jackie wanted to drive Hyde home, but he insisted on walking.

When she closed the door behind him, she couldn’t keep the smile off her face. She did a little dance and then ran up to her room. When she flopped onto her bed she tried to keep her mind of a certain curly haired, blue eyed boy, but she failed miserably. She had never clicked with someone so much. She didn’t have many friends. Sure, she had the cheerleading squad but they weren’t true friends. And even Donna didn’t know her as well as she thought she did. It was hard for Jackie to open up to people. She didn’t like talking about things that really bothered her so she talked about everything else. But for some reason with Hyde she felt different. He asked her questions no one had ever thought to ask her and he actually listened to what she had to say.

On his walk home, Hyde was suffering a similar problem to Jackie, couldn’t stop smiling. He had to walk about an hour to make it home, but he didn’t mind. He felt ridicules with his frilly, purple shirt blowing in the breeze and his coat sling over his arm and the goofy smile on his face. Very few things in his life made him smile, but Jackie had kept him smiling for the past 24 hours. She was so unapologetically herself. She said what she wanted and didn’t care if anyone thought she was a bitch. She went for what she wanted. But if she didn’t have anything to say she was so happy sitting in the quiet with him and he really liked that. His hour-long walk home went quickly. When he walked up to his house his face fell. Back to reality. The first thing Hyde saw when he walked through the front door was his mom. She was passed out on the couch and the bottle on the ground was enough evidence of what had happened. He picked it up and put it on the kitchen counter. He then picked her up and took her to her room.

“Steve,” Hyde’s mom mumbled, “You’re home early.”

“It’s almost midnight on a Sunday mom,” Hyde said realizing she hadn’t even notice he had been gone for over a day or that he was in the same clothes he left in.

She just groaned and feel back asleep. Hyde set her down and shut the door as he left her room.


The next day at school Jackie got there early to check in with the gang. Only Donna and Eric had arrived and were hanging out by Eric’s vista cruiser. Jackie was toeing a thin line of wanting to see Hyde, but also wanting to avoid Kelso.

“Hey devil,” Eric said when he saw Jackie walk up. “I thought we’d stop seeing you around after you ended things with Kelso.”

“You wish,” Jackie said taking her place next to Donna leaning up against the Vista Cruiser.

Eric looked at Donna and rolled his eyes at Jackie’s presence. Jackie pretended not to notice. They all sat in silence until Kelso came up. He stopped at the sight of Jackie leaning up against the car, but as soon as he saw her he continued on only pumping out his chest just a little more.

“Well, well, well,” Kelso said. “Come to get me back already?”

Kelso walked in front of Jackie and leaned down into her. She immediately pushed back against the car to shoot herself away from him.

“No,” Jackie said. “We’re over. I told you that.”

“Jackie,” Kelso said. “Why else would you be hanging out with my friends if it wasn’t to get me back.”

“They’re my friends too Michael,” Jackie said.

“No we’re not,” Eric said earning him a glare from Jackie.

“I guess I kind of am,” Donna said.

“See?” Jackie said pointing to Donna.

“I don’t buy it for a second,” Kelso said. “You want me.”

“I really don’t,” Jackie said. Hyde still hadn’t shown up yet. Kelso was annoying her and the bell was about to ring anyway. “I’m leaving.”

With that Jackie left walking towards her locker. She didn’t turn around to see Hyde walk up to the group only a few seconds later.

Hyde was surprised to see Jackie walking away from the gang. He hoped she didn’t get back with Kelso. She had seemed pretty secure in her decision over the weekend, but a little part of him still worried she would go back to him.

“Was that Jackie?” Hyde asked when he made it to the group.

“Yep,” Kelso said. “She wants me.”

“Yeah,” Donna said. “That was obvious by her total rejection of you.”

“She said she was coming by to see us because ‘we’re her friends too.’” Eric said still baffled by the idea.

“That’s true,” Hyde said without thinking.

“What?” Eric asked. “She’s the devil.”

“Yeah, but I’ve heard hell’s pretty sweet,” Hyde said laughing trying to play it cool and hoping no one would notice his slip.

“What?” the whole gang said in unison.

Hyde quickly realized his mistake. He continued to try to fix his error, “I mean she’s a bitch and shallow as hell, but…we hung out a bit after prom it wasn’t bad.”

“What?” the gang repeated again.

“This ‘hang out’ means to do it, yes?” asked Fez.

“No!” Kelso exclaimed.

“No,” Hyde said much calmer. “It just means we hung out. It’s not a big deal.”

The whole gang was staring at him. Eric and Kelso with their mouths open. Donna with a look of concern. And Fez with a look of pride still thinking Hyde and Jackie had done it. Hyde lit a cigarette as a way to get out of the conversation. 

Luckily, the bell rang and everyone but Hyde started hurrying in. It was normal for Hyde to show up late, so he didn’t mind prioritizing his cigarette over a timely attendance in class. He took another five minutes to finish his smoke and think about the conversation and subject of the conversation. Finally, with a sigh he threw the bud on the ground stomped on it and headed to his first class.

 


“So Jackie,” asked Claire, the head cheerleader. “You sure did take off early from prom the other night with Hyde.”

Jackie looked over at Claire as they sat on the ground stretching for practice. Claire was the biggest gossip on the team, but she was also a senior and her opinion mattered for staying on the squad. Jackie knew it was a trap. Hyde was fine to be with a few times to get a little adventure, but nothing more for the cheerleaders.

“Yeah, well the gym can only hold my interest for so long even when it’s covered in streamers,” Jackie said.

“What did you do after?” Claire asked gaining the attention of a few other girls who were stretching nearby.

“Nothing,” Jackie said. She didn’t plan on telling anyone about Hyde taking her to the water tower and she certainly wasn’t going to tell people about him sleeping over, especially to the gossipy cheerleaders.

“Sure,” Claire said. “Just be careful with him. I heard he smokes illegal substances.

Jackie had to restrain herself from rolling her eyes. Everyone knew Hyde smoked pot and she had been around when it happened because of Kelso. The whole gang smoked it wasn’t a big deal, but she wasn’t about to tell the cheerleaders that. They would assume she smoked too and they would definitely have a problem with that.

“I heard he was in jail,” Another girl added.

Jackie actually did roll her eyes this time. Sure he had been in jail for a few hours for a misunderstanding and again the whole gang, with the exception of Donna, was there too. These girls didn’t know the first thing about Hyde. She was starting to realize how well she had gotten to know him this weekend, and it put a small smile on her face

“It just makes him that much more mysterious,” Another girl, Julie, said. “And sexy.”

Jackie’s smile immediately fell.

“Sara,” Julie continued. “You went out with him right? Is he as much of a fox as he seems?”

Jackie looked between Julie and Sara in horror. She hadn’t thought that Hyde had actually gone on dates with these girls. She hadn’t thought Hyde even dated. The idea of him with any of her friends made her queasy.

“Yeah, we went out once,” Sara said. “Nothing serious. You’re right about the mysterious thing though. He said he doesn’t do anything long term, but we hooked up a few times. He’s amazing in bed. Well, not so much a bed as the backseat of my dad’s car.”

All the girls giggled, but Jackie just felt sick. Hyde didn’t even want to kiss her, but he slept with Sara. Jackie knew she was a total slut. She started to wonder how many of the other cheerleaders Hyde had slept with.

“Do you agree Jackie?” Claire asked.

“What?” Jackie asked because she had gotten lost in her thoughts trying to remember every time Hyde had ever talked to a cheerleader. In all her time in the basement, he never mentioned it. She had heard a few of the cheerleaders talking about him and heard rumors, but she had never given it much thought, but know it’s all she could think about.

“Would you recommend Steven Hyde Point Place’s local bad boy?” Claire elaborated her question.

“Ugh, I already told you nothing happened,” Jackie said. “I just ended things with Michael. Ste –Hyde is his friend and he’s my friend too.”

“I get why you were with Michael he’s gorgeous,” Claire said. “But be careful with Hyde he can get you messed up in the wrong crowd. Sleeping with him is one thing, but if you start hanging out with him and picking up his…habits…we might have something to worry about.”

Jackie understood Claire’s underlying threat. She hadn’t meant to mention the fact that they were friends, but it had just slipped out. She had been too focused on her own train of thought to decipher Claire’s hidden agenda in the question. Still, she wasn’t too worried. The only reason she wasn’t on top was because she wasn’t a senior she had nothing to worry about.

Hyde and her were friends. It wasn’t a big deal and none of his “habits” were going to hurt her. And it didn’t matter who he slept with because they were just friends. She just had to keep reminding herself of that last part.