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through the lonely nights

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Donna has perfected the art of the Angry Walk. The trick is all in the stomp: too little, and people won't understand the depths of the frustration you're attempting to convey. Too much, and you just look like a cheerleader overcome with pep. And Donna cannot, repeat, cannot, have anything to do with cheerleaders in any way, shape, or form─especially the one who is the cause of her Angry Walk into the Forman's kitchen. Hyde stands conveniently at the fridge, pulling out a cold beer, no idea of the danger of the situation he has placed himself in. 

"Hyde, your girlfriend is driving me insane." Donna throws herself onto the stool at the kitchen counter and buries her head in her arms. 

"You and me both." Hyde snickers at his own joke, popping open his drink. Mrs. Forman and Red must not be home, otherwise he would have been respectful and done it in secret. 

"Oh? Oh really?" Donna rises up on her seat, leaning towards him. "Has she kept you up all night blasting music that makes you feel like your brain is turning into jelly? Is your room so covered in all her random junk that you can't even find your textbooks? Are your shoes filled with perfect, tiny doll shoes that make you feel like a self-conscious giant like seriously how the hell are her feet so small?" Her voice steadily rises until she's shouting in Hyde's face. 

He blinks. "Calm down, Paul Bunyan."

Donna grabs two fistfuls of his shirt and yanks him forwards. "I will beat your ass, and you won't be able to stop it because you won't hit a girl."

When he laughs, unfazed by her threat, Donna reluctantly lets go. Seriously though, one more giant comment and she's giving him a black eye. 

"I don't know what you expected, man. It's Jackie." Hyde shrugs. "She's not even living with me anymore and I still have her crap all over my room."

Donna sits up, a light dawning on her. "That's right, you lived with her. How did you take it?"

"Well I don't have much stuff of my own in my room so it didn't really matter to me if she brought her shoes and shit," he says casually. "And I also don't have textbooks, so...."

"But the music? How could you sleep with the music?" Donna slams her palms against the kitchen counter to emphasize her words. "I'm so tired, this morning I actually fell asleep while Eric and I were making out. Oh, and that's another thing─" She ignores his snort of amusement at her admission. "The making out. On my bed! I don't feel comfortable sleeping there anymore thinking about what you two have done on it. Or... in it." She shudders.

In answer, he just smirks and takes a sip of his drink. "I don't kiss and tell, Donna."

"Just promise me you'll change the sheets." She pauses, placing a hand on her chest as an acidic taste fills her mouth. "I think I just threw up a little."

Thankfully, every time she's walked in on them so far they've both been fully clothed, because she doesn't think she could ever look at Hyde the same way if she walked in on them doing it. And yeah, it's better than if Jackie was still dating Kelso, because at least Hyde doesn't kiss her like he's a dog trying to lick her entire face. But still. She has heard sounds that she never needed to hear come out of Jackie's mouth.

And Eric wonders why she's having a hard time getting into the mood.

She pulls her mind severely off that train of thought and remembers, "You didn't answer my other question."

"Huh?" Hyde frowns.

"The music. She blasts it all night long, and I have to wait until she's asleep to go and turn it off. But, if I go too soon, before she's deeply asleep, she wakes up and throws something at me and then I have to start the cycle all over again." She slumps with exhaustion. "I'm turning into a mom─no sleep, no sex, no sanity."

He sets his beer down. "Look, just give her some time to adjust. She got used to it when she was sleeping alone. Made her feel like the house wasn't empty."

Donna groans. "How long did it take for her to stop doing it when she was sleeping here?"

There's a strange pause before he answers her, and when he speaks, his voice is strange. Clipped. "She didn't do it here."

Is it her imagination, or is Hyde avoiding looking at her? It's hard to tell behind his sunglasses.

Donna narrows her eyes. "You mean like, she asked you and you said no?"

"I don't know man, she just didn't do it here," he says, way too abrasively. He's uncomfortable.

But what's different between the Formans' and her house? They both have a lot of people in it, they're roughly the same size. The only difference is...

Donna claps her hand over her mouth. "Holy shit."

"Stop," he warns.

"She doesn't need it because of you!" Her whole face is taken over by an ear-to-ear grin. She uses the mushy, lovey-dovey voice that she knows Hyde can't stand. "You make her feel safe."

"No!" he protests, the tips of his ears turning red. It's a subtle flush, but one that Donna has picked up on over the many years she's known him. 

"Aw look at you, your ears are going all red!" She leans forward, pinching his cheeks, and he swats her back like a fly.

"Whatever, man," he snaps. "I was trying to help you."

She just laughs at him. "I've been living with Jackie for two days and I can't stand her, but you lived with her for weeks and you didn't even hate it. You must really love her!"

"Shut the hell up," he growls. 

"Awwww, are you gonna marry her, Hyde?" She wiggles her butt in her seat, doing a little dance as she sings, "Hyde and Jackie, sittin' in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then come the babies in the baby carriage!"

He's left the kitchen before she's even finished the first verse.

 

 

 -

 

 

She sneaks over to Eric's room that night, and while he thinks his plan of sleeping in the nude has finally paid off, she's out like a light as soon as her head hits the pillow. Being the good fiance that he is, he hardly even complains. But a little after three in the morning, he shakes her awake and whispers that she'd better get back to her house, because Red wakes up at crazy hours and Eric doesn't need another foot in the ass.

Reluctantly, and with a long kiss for being sweet enough to just let her sleep, Donna leaves his bed to climb out his window and make the journey back to her house. Her dad is a heavy sleeper, so he doesn't hear her opening the front door and going upstairs. She's only half-conscious when she gets to her room, already bracing herself for the blast of music, but instead she's greeted by the strangest thing.

Silence.

Without the full capacities of her brain, Donna is unable to think of a good explanation for this, and so she just sends a quick prayer of gratitude up to heaven and collapses on her bed. However, when she turns over to face Jackie's side of the room, the moonlight coming through her window illuminates the cot and it all makes sense. 

Hyde lies next to Jackie, her back pressed against his chest, both of them fast asleep. One of his arms is wrapped around her upper body, held fast there by her own arm, their hands laced together. It's such an innocent, and yet intimate position that Donna feels almost wrong being witness to it.

For the past few months, even as she'd gradually gotten used to thinking of them as "together", she had been right there with Kelso; just waiting for the other shoe to drop. They were too mismatched, too abrasive to last very long. She'd given them a year tops before they broke up and everyone just sort of forgot it ever happened. But for the first time, looking at them like that, she considers the possibility that they might go the distance. 

She thinks of Hyde's red ears and wonders when this strange fling turned into something so serious. 

And then she just smiles and closes her eyes because hey, if it means she gets to sleep, Hyde can hold Jackie every damn night as far as Donna's concerned.