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Escaping the Friend Zone

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Jackie took a few days off from going to the basement. By the end of the week, she was starting to miss the ratty coach and bad lighting. Plus, she hadn’t had a real conversation with Donna in over a week, so that Friday almost a full week after prom she decided to stop by the Forman’s.

She was nervous, but she wasn’t sure if it was because of Kelso or Hyde. Jackie didn’t want Kelso hitting on her or thinking that they were going to get back together. And she didn’t know where she stood with Hyde. They were friends now, but was that only when no one else was around or could they be friends in the gang too. She wasn’t sure and the only way to figure it out would be to hang out in the basement.

When Jackie arrived everyone was in their usual seat. She casually walked through the door. She had her head held high and didn’t let her eyes meet anyone’s. She noticed the empty spot on the coach next to Donna, so she went took the seat. Jackie did take note of Kelso’s eyes following her from his spot on the lawn chair. Eric was next to Donna, Fez was up getting a popsicle, and Hyde was in his usual chair.

Hyde’s attention was completely on Jackie. As soon as she had walked through the door he tried to meet her eye. He hadn’t seen her in almost a week since he left her house that past Sunday. He felt like she was mad at him, but he couldn’t imagine why. And even worse he didn’t know why he cared. He didn’t want to think about why he cared.

When Jackie had taken her seat, and she hadn’t said anything for a moment Hyde decided to make the first move.

“Hey,” he said.

Everyone looked over at him, but he was looking directly into Jackie’s eyes. She couldn’t believe he said something. She was giddy and a smile was on her face just from the one brief word.

“Hey,” she said back.

“You haven’t been around in a while,” Hyde continued.

“I was busy with cheer,” Jackie said with a shrug. It wasn’t a complete lie, but it also wasn’t really why she had avoided the basement.

“Wow,” Eric said while making a large motion with his hands. “You’re doing it again.”

Hyde rolled his eyes, but Jackie decided to be a bit more vocal, “What being a decent human being and acknowledging my presence?”

“Yes!” Eric shouted.

This time both Jackie and Hyde rolled their eyes.

“So Jackie,” Kelso said. “Want to go see the new Star Wars movie?”

“No,” Jackie said. She wasn’t looking towards Keslo so she didn’t see his reaction, but she did see Hyde chuckle. “I don’t like space.”

“You’d like it in this movie Jackie,” Kelso said.

“Look Michael,” Jackie said. “It’s not about space. We’re over, so I don’t want to go to the movies with you.”

“Damn Jackie,” Kelso said and ran upstairs.

The gang sat in silence watching the television for a while until someone finally pulled out the monopoly board and they played a game. Kelso never returned downstairs, and the afternoon passed pleasantly. Fez eventually had to leave so he could make it home before his host parents made it back form bible study.

“Well it sure is getting late,” Eric said looking towards his watch.

“It’s 8:30,” Hyde deadpanned.

“Yeah…” Eric said trying to think of an excuse. “But we’ve had a long day. You’re probably going to want to be getting home.”

“What so you and Donna can make out?” Hyde asked.

“Be cool man,” Eric whispered to Hyde, but Donna and Jackie could clearly hear.

“Whatever,” Hyde said getting up.

Jackie hesitated not sure if she should follow or just leave on her own. Before she figured it out, Hyde had made the decision for her.

“Come on Jackie,” Hyde said. “We can chill somewhere else.”

“Sure, sure,” Eric said. “I don’t even care if you’re buddy buddy with Jackie just don’t do it here.”

“Bye Donna,” Jackie said getting up and walking to Hyde who was waiting patiently by the door.

When they made it safely outside they walked up the stairs to the driveway. Without Eric they didn’t have a car or a basement to hang out in. Jackie and Hyde were both unsure about what to do next.

Finally, Jackie broke the silence, “Want to go see Star Wars?”

“I thought you didn’t like space?” Hyde asked with a smirk.

Jackie just shrugged. She didn’t care much about Star Wars either way, but she didn’t want to see any movie with Kelso and she would see anything with Hyde.

“Fine, but you’re buying the popcorn,” Hyde said. 


“Thanks for helping me with my home ec project, Mrs. Forman.”

Jackie and Kitty Forman were standing in the Forman’s kitchen. They were both in aprons and had tons of ingredients on the counter in front of them. Jackie hated baking. She could cook if it was to feed herself, but that was it. And even than she survived mostly on scrambled eggs and easy salads. Her mother had never taught her how to cook and when her parents were home they were usually hosting or attending dinner parties and for that they brought in a professional chef.

“Jackie, have you ever made a pie before?” Mrs. Forman asked.

“No I just plan to get by on my looks,” Jackie responded embarrassed to explain why she had never really learned to cook or bake, so playing it off as cockiness.

At that exact moment Hyde walked in. He looked at Jackie and raised an eyebrow. Jackie blushed but raised her head and smirked daring him to say something. Mrs. Forman had her head in the fridge and hadn’t even noticed Hyde walk in.

When Mrs. Forman came up from the fridge holding eggs. She smiled at Hyde, “Good morning, Steven! How are you doing?”

Hyde decided to prolong his visit in the kitchen to see how this ‘Jackie in an apron’ situation played out. He had never seen Jackie cook and he would love the opportunity to make fun of her for it. He had a feeling based on the eggs she had made for him a few weeks ago after prom that she wasn’t too experienced in the kitchen. Hyde took a seat on the high stool at the counter.

“I’m good. Just got a new Rolling Stone,” he said holding up the magazine. “I think I might just sit here and read it as long as you guys don’t mind.”

“Of course not!” Mrs. Forman responded before Jackie could tell him to get lost. She was embarrassed enough having to beg Mrs. Forman for help, she didn’t need Hyde watching her sad attempt at baking too.

What was only supposed to take an hour was quickly turning into an all-day project. Jackie kept messing up. It took four batches just for them to be able to put something into the oven. First, she mixed up the salt and sugar, then she cracked the egg wrong and got almost the whole shell in the batch, then she accidently spilt way too much milk, and then she misread teaspoons and tablespoons. She just couldn’t get it right, but finally on attempt number five with Mrs. Forman’s watchful eye she got it. They put it in the oven. Mrs. Forman told her to take it out in 45 minutes and then she left to do a bit of household cleaning.

Hyde had remained silent through the whole affair. He didn’t make one joke or laugh once. He had wanted too many times, but it was obvious Jackie was frustrated and after the second attempt he actually felt bad for her. And based on how her eyes kept darting to him at the counter, he had a feeling she would have lashed out if he said something.

When Mrs. Forman left the kitchen. Jackie immediately went and took a seat at the table. She had floor all over her and she was exhausted. How did people do this all the time? She hated cooking it took forever and only for other people to enjoy the food. She may not have been a good cook, but she certainly was dedicated to her school work and she wasn’t about to give up on her home ec project, but she knew she would never bake a pie again.

Jackie was all too aware of Hyde sitting at the counter. She usually wouldn’t have minded his presence, but she wished he wasn’t witnessing her fail so horribly.

Uncomfortable with the silence, Jackie finally spoke up, “Why can’t you read that anywhere else?”

“With all the entertainment here why would I leave?” Hyde couldn’t help but give her a little bit of grief for her horrible cooking skills. He got up from his spot on the counter and walked over.

“Like you would do any better? Jackie said.

Hyde just shrugged. He was actually a great cook, but he knew that information in her hands would do more harm than letting her win this battle.

Hyde went back to his magazine and Jackie walked over to her bag and grabbed a Cosmo. They sat in silence reading the magazine at the kitchen table for about thirty minutes. Finally, Jackie laughed. Hyde looked up at the noise. He couldn’t help but smile at what he saw. She looked so happy sitting in the Forman’s kitchen laughing at her magazine covered in flour and wearing an apron. It was such a contrast with what she portrayed at school and in her everyday life. He wondered if anyone else saw her like this.

“What’s so funny?” Hyde asked.

Jackie looked up still smiling, “It’s a write-in piece about most embarrassing beach experiences. This one girl lost her top in the ocean and had to stay in the water for hours before her friends came to find out what was wrong.”

Hyde’s eyes immediately dropped to her chest and his mind went to imagining her in the ocean without her bathing suit top. He shook his head slightly and started laughing along with her. Jackie, for her part, pretended she didn’t notice.

“Guess Cosmo isn’t entirely a waste of time,” Hyde said.

“Nothing I do is,” Jackie said with a hair flip.

Hyde just shook his head and smiled. They were sitting in adjacent chairs at the small table. Close enough that Hyde could see the little bit of flour that was on her check. Instinctually, he reached out and brushed his thumb against the spot. He got the flour off easily, but his hand moved slowly. Tracing his thumb across her check and letting his other fingers press against her jaw and hairline. Even after the flour was gone he rubbed his thumb a few more times.

Jackie looked up at Hyde surprised by the sudden contact. She leaned into his hand and didn’t question it when he moved his hand lower down to her neck his thumb rubbing slowly back and forth the whole way. She knew she didn’t have flour all over her face and neck. He had no reason for doing it. Her mind went to the cheerleaders. She wondered if he had ever touched any of them like this slowly and intimately.

Hyde pulled his hand away, but maintained the eye contact, “You had a bit of flour.”

They stayed silent for a full minute. Neither knowing what to say. Finally, when Jackie was about to say thank you or just reach out and kiss him, she wasn’t sure which, she remembered her pie. She smelled the air and it smelt burnt.

“My pie!” Jackie said jumping up.

She stood unsure of what to do. She walked over to the oven and saw that it was filling with smoke. She opened the oven, but didn’t know what to do next. She didn’t see any oven gloves anywhere.

“How long has it been?” Jackie asked. “Mrs. Forman said 45 minutes!”

At seeing the smoke, Hyde jumped up and helped her look for the oven gloves. They both searched the kitchen frantically until Hyde finally found them. He immediately grabbed the pie and pulled it out. It was burnt to a crisp. At that exact moment, Mrs. Forman walked into the kitchen and shook her head.

“Jackie I think you might need to just go buy a pie,” she said poking the burnt pie with a fork.

“But that’s cheating I’ll fail!” Jackie said. Hyde smirked surprised she cared so much about her grades.

“Fine,” Mrs. Forman said. She started grabbing all the ingredients out from the counter again. “This time I’ll make the filing and the crust,” Mrs. Forman said clearly very frustrated.

“What will I make?” Jackie said furrowing her brow.

“You’ll go make me a drink,” Mrs. Forman said. Jackie was a little upset, but she knew this was the best she was going to do so she nodded and went to get Mrs. Forman’s drink. Hyde just sat back down and continued reading his magazine.

“What are you smiling about?” Mrs. Forman asked Hyde.

“Just excited for some pie,” Hyde said. 


Unlike most trips in the Vista Cruiser, when the gang was headed to the amusement park the group was buzzing in their seats. With an actual destination, and an exciting one at that, they were all smiles.

Even Hyde had a small smirk. It had taken Hyde three days turning in cans and searching coach cushions to come up with the change for admissions, but when he looked over at Jackie he knew it was worth it.

Jackie had been vocal in her opposition to the amusement park. The crying children and ugly teenagers were bad enough but she also hated the rides. She didn't say that of course because they would all only make it ten times worse.

Hyde had a feeling she was nervous about the rides based on how she kept pulling her shirt down and averting her eyes whenever it was mentioned. The more time they spent together the better he was getting to know her, and he couldn't help but wonder if it was a skill that she had acquired as well.  

Either way one thing they did have in common was their reasons for going to the amusement park. For Jackie, she didn't want to seem like a wimp to any of the gang but especially Hyde. Plus, she figured that with the large group she would get at least a few rides with Hyde. She knew that he wasn’t interested and that the cheerleaders had told her to stay away, but she didn’t care she liked spending time with him. For Hyde, he was just hoping to see her squirm and maybe even squirm a little into him if she was really scared.

"Are we almost there?" Kelso asked from the back.

"Just another 10 minutes," Eric said.

"In the meantime," Donna said turning around to face Kelso. "You need to stay with us Kelso you can't get lost this time."

"I'm not going to get lost," Kelso said folding his arms. Hyde and Fez who were sitting on either side of Kelso looked at each other and smirked knowing that was probably a lie.

From the front passenger seat Jackie rolled her eyes and turned around, "You get lost every time."

"That's true," Kelso said. "But not this time!"

"We better set up a meeting time just in case because we're not spending the whole day looking for you," Donna said.

"Fine," Kelso said.

"Fine," Eric said. "If any of us get lost, Kelso, we'll meet at the giant fountain near the entrance."

The car was silent and everyone waited for Kelso to respond. Jackie made eye contact with Hyde and he smiled.

When they pulled up to the amusement park everyone pulled out of the car. They got in and made a point of pointing out the meeting spot for Kelso.
After they started going on rides starting on a few small thrills, but then Kelso pulled them in front of a roller coaster. It wasn't the biggest in the park but the large drop had them all looking at the wooden frames skeptically.

"Lets go!" Kelso screamed before getting into the line. With a shrug from most members, the gang followed him into line. Jackie hung back so she was the last to enter. Just when she was about to bail. She felt a hand brush against hers. She didn't have to look down to know it was Hyde.

He didn't know why he let the back of his hand brush against hers. He just knew she looked worried and he wanted to help.

The pair started walking just a little slower letting their friends put distance between them.

"You okay?" Hyde asked.

"I think I'm going to skip this one," Jackie said.

"You'll be fine," Hyde said. "It looks scarier than it is."

"I don't know..." Jackie said.

"How about this," Hyde said. "You go on this one and I'll go on anyone you want after?"

"Any ride?" Jackie asked.

"Yeah," Hyde said. He knew he had made a mistake as soon as he saw her eyes light up with mischief.

"Okay!" Jackie said. Their friends had stopped walking ahead of them patiently waiting in line. There were only two groups in front of them so it wasn't going to be a long wait.

"What took you guys so long?" Donna asked.

"Nothin'" Hyde said.

At the exact same time Jackie squealed, "We made an agreement!"

"Jackie," Hyde said begging her to stop.

"For every ride Hyde gets to pick, I get to pick the next one."

"We said one ride!" Hyde said. He had noticed that she used Hyde as opposed to Steven. He wondered if she did it on purpose.  

Jack just looked up at him with big eyes. He finally gave up. How bad could her choice of rides be?

"Whatever," Hyde said. Jackie smiled happy to have her way. Plus, the whole interaction had gotten her mind of the scary ride.

When it was their turn, the group naturally paired off leaving Jackie and Hyde to take the last car. They got strapped in and started moving. The ride started with a climb up and then a large drop.

As the roller coaster started going up with the drop off not too far away, Jackie started to get a bit nervous again. She scooted closer to Hyde. He put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer letting his arm be like another seat belt.

"You scared?" He said goading her on.

"No!" Jackie said. They were only a few feet away and would probably drop in a few seconds. Jackie closed her eyes in preparation.

Hyde looked at Jackie with her eyes all scrunched up and her hands white knuckled on the handle bar she looked terrified, so he pulled her a bit closer for good measure.

When they hit the top, Hyde looked out at the view. It was almost like the water tower. He could see everything around them.

When the ride started dropping he felt Jackie's arms loop around his middle and her face burry into his chest. She was screaming and squeezing him almost too tight for comfort.

Hyde threw up the arm that wasn't wrapped around Jackie and laughed. He couldn't believe she actually went on the ride. After the first drop, the ride went pretty fast and with the exception of the speed it was relatively mellow. Still, Jackie clung to him the whole time, but she did stop screaming for which Hyde was grateful.

Jackie kept her head in Hyde’s chest for the whole ride. She considered lifting it but if she had to get on another ride she knew she didn't have it in her. She was regretting that deal they made as soon as the ride started. And she was the one that took it a step further by saying it wasn't just a one-time agreement.

Jackie felt Hyde moving his arm and turn towards her.

"Jackie," Hyde said with a small laugh. "The rides over."

Jackie slowly pulled away but not fast enough. Their their friends had already gotten off the ride and saw them intertwined.

"Scared Jackie?" Eric asked.

"She was terrified, man." Hyde said getting out of the car after Jackie.

"Shut up," Jackie said hitting Hyde lightly in the stomach. "No I wasn't."

They started walking towards another ride but Jackie pulled Hyde away from the group.

"I do believe it's my turn to pick a ride for us," Jackie said.

"What did you have in mind?" Hyde asked.

"Tea cups," Jackie said with a glint in her eyes knowing he would hate it.

"Jackie," Hyde said.

"You said I could pick anything," Jackie said. The tea cups were her favorite because they were so colorful and decorated so pretty with flowers and lights. Plus, she wouldn’t tell Hyde, but she had always thought they were so romantic.

"But that's full of kids and squares," Hyde said. "And they don't even let you spin that fast."

Jackie broke out her pout, "Please."

"Fine," Hyde grumbled knowing he wasn't going to get out of it.

"Thank you!" Jackie said.

The group had finally noticed that they had fallen behind again. Hyde called up to them.

"We’re going to check out a few rides back there," he said indicating to the way they had come from. Hyde got a few raised eyebrows but thankfully no one said anything.

Jackie led them happily to the tea cups and Hyde followed mopping behind.

On the ride, he tried his hardest to make it go just a little bit faster and spin, but there was no way to make it more fun. Jackie giggled through the whole thing, which did make it a bit more entertaining for Hyde.

By the end of the day they had gone on 6 thrill rides and 6 tea cup rides. When they realized it was getting dark and they had no idea where their friends were they headed for the fountain near the entrance.

When they came up their friends were already waiting. They all looked annoyed except for Kelso who looked happy to see them showing up.

"There you guys are," Donna said. "We've been waiting an hour. The parks about to close."

"Yeah you seriously weren't the people we were worried about getting lost," Eric said.

"Ha!" Kelso exclaimed. "It wasn't me."

Hyde and Jackie just rolled their eyes. Hyde shrugged and they all walked out of the amusement park.