“Today, we’ll be having a little fun,” Mr. Hofstedter was a large man, about six feet tall and then some, with a broad chest and wide shoulders. His white walrus mustache seemed to sprout from his flaring nostrils and hid his upper lip. Hyde was pretty sure the man participated in any and every war he could, until he injured his leg. He walked with a serious limp and a matching grim expression.
He was not a man of ‘fun’.
“Since school will be letting out soon, I know none of you will hear anything I had originally planned for the day,” he picked up a stack of name tags from his desk, slapping them against his opposite open palm. “Instead, we’ll be acting out a battle from the second World War. Honestly, I don’t expect much from any of you, so it’s not going to be a specific battle. And I don’t wanna hear any whining, so just nut up and be thankful I’m being lenient today!”
He walked around the room, passing out sticky-backed name tags with force, clearly rushing through the motions. Hyde wondered if he had something better to do than teach a bunch of dumb kids, because it certainly seemed like it.
“Steven Hyde,” Mr. Hofstedter stood before the young man and his casual akimbo stance, glaring down on the rebellious outsider with dull blue eyes. He had never cared for Hyde’s snark and sarcasm. Almost no adult did. “Let me guess, Switzerland, neutral?"
“Actually, I’m a conscientious objector,” Hyde smirked, locking his hands over his belt buckle; Hofstedter’s white hair was tinted burnt orange through his sunglasses. The older man gave him a placid smile, all coffee-stained teeth and no pleasure. He slapped a tag on Hyde’s chest with enough force to knock the boy back a few paces.
“Just for that, Nazi,” he growled, moving on.
Hyde’s lips wrinkled in displeasure as he looked down at the sticker proclaiming his nationality and allegiance. “This is bullshit.”
“I find this insulting to my people!” Fez declared, sulking. His tag read ‘Thailand, neutral/Axis’. Hyde wondered if all the neutrals had Axis tied to them as well, simply out of Hofstedter's disdain for what he considered to be cowardliness.
“Damn, Hyde! You’re a Nazi?” Kelso, ‘American, Allies’, pointed clasped hands and outstretched index fingers - clearly imitating a gun - towards his friend. The big goof laughed at Hyde’s irritated expression. “Should’ve known you’d be evil!”
“Death before dishonor!” Forman, 'Canada, Allies', was already hunched behind a desk for cover, throwing paper balls ripped from his notebook at the pair of them. Some hit, most didn't. The dork's grin was spread from ear to ear. He was enjoying this far too much. “Die, Nazi scum!” Clearly Forman thought he was Captain America or something, and Hyde would make a joke about role-playing, if he thought of one fast enough.
The scrawny boy was more camp kid, sidekick Bucky Barnes than Steve Rogers.
“You’re all idiots,” Donna rolled her eyes, arms crossed over her chest, covering her tag. Her attitude summed up Hyde’s feelings on the whole matter. Didn’t surprise him. They usually ended up being on the same side of group arguments anyhow.
“So, who’re you, Big Red?” Hyde leaned up against the wall beside her, glancing down at the corner of the white card peeking out above one jacket sleeve.
She uncrossed her arms, revealing ‘Italy, Axis’ for just a second before folding them back up again. Obviously, she didn't want to be part of this war either, although Hyde had a feeling she was more upset about her involuntary choice of nationality and political side. As historically, and genetically, accurate as it was.
“Sweet,” he held up a hand for a high-five. She reluctantly met it, seeing as this was nothing to really be pleased about. She took things far too seriously. “We’ll destroy them this time.”
“No, Donna!” Eric cried out with theatric dismay, desperately reaching out one arm as though across a gaping chasm, to his girlfriend. “You can’t join the Dark side! Return to the ways of the Jedi!” Hyde picked up one of the many paper ball ‘grenades’ tossed towards them and beaned Eric in the forehead with it. Donna and Kelso cracked up laughing as Eric faked a ridiculous and soap opera-worthy performance of death. Fez, meanwhile, began dramatically weeping over his friend's 'corpse'.
“Avenge me, Fez!” he gurgled, letting out a final gasp before collapsing on the puke-colored rug. His tongue lolled out, his eyes stared off unblinking at the wall, and he even managed to keep his breathing to a minimum.
"Why, you sunnuvabitch cruel God, why?!" Fez screamed up at the ceiling, grabbing his collar as though about to rip his shirt in two. He certainly wasn't strong enough, even if he tried.
"He was a brave soldier," Kelso wiped fake tears from his eyes, unable to stop from laughing, however. This took away some of the gravitas of the situation.
Donna grinned, shaking her long red hair and pale head, and returned to her conversation with Hyde, “You know we’re supposed to follow historical accuracy, right?”
Hyde snorted, because that ship had long sailed past the harbor and sunk to Davy Jones' locker in a flurry of cannonfire, “Believe me, if they were representing the Allied forces, we’d all be speaking German.”
“Good thing we're just messing around, then,” she punched him in the upper arm lightly, still smiling, but looking at their dorky friends now.
Hyde retrained his focus on their particular group of idiots, now pelting each other with whatever they could find, utilizing textbooks as shields, and charging into the other’s ‘forts’. The desks were overturned for shelter. Eric was alive again, and, similarly, death didn’t stick for long to anyone else. All fighting was regardless of historical alliances and sides, and the room was, obviously, plunged into chaos. Hofstedter had stepped out. This only encouraged further madness, as students wrestled and flung pencils, jeers called out in taunting fashion. Friends and foe alike fought with playful vengeance.
So, your typical Tuesday afternoon when the kettleheads were in charge.
Hyde smiled. This, this he liked.
Nazi or no.
“Come on, Big Red. Can’t let the morons have all the fun,” he picked up a ruler and charged Fez with a warring battle cry. The foreign boy returned the attack with high-pitched screaming as he ran to dodge Hyde's blows, both boys giggling like children by the second lap of the classroom. Kelso and Eric chased from behind, whacking each other in the sides with their book bags, laughing like maniacs.
“They’re all insane,” Donna sighed to herself, chuckling, before throwing herself into the rumble. Like she wasn’t crazy too. She had to be, to be friends with these boys.