Peaceful Easy Feeling*

post-ep tag for "Bye-Bye Basement", season four

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Hyde was slouched on the old sofa disinterestedly watching television when the basement door opened. He glanced toward it, shook his head, and turned back to the program.

"Kelso isn't here," he said. He was a little surprised when Jackie proceeded to sit down on the sofa beside him anyway. Though he knew from experience that ignoring her wouldn't be of any use, he tried to pretend that she wasn't there. Out of the corner of his eye he could already see her giving him *that* look - the one that made him want to bash his head against a wall, the one that made him ill, the one that meant she was going to try to save him again. "Dammit," he swore irritably. "Foreman blabbers like a girl."

"So they really did abandon you again?" The girl was all tact, Hyde thought as he rolled his eyes.

"That's the story," he replied.

"Doesn't it bother you?"

He shrugged. "It's cool."

"But this is the second time they've both done this to you," she persisted. "Aren't you even a little mad or something? Anything?"

"Whatever," he shrugged again. He immediately regretted the habitual words as he realized that out of all of his friends, Jackie would be the one person who knew what they really meant. He cringed in anticipation of her gushing pity... and was oddly disappointed when it didn't come. Instead, the girl looked at him thoughtfully for a moment then leaned back on the sofa. Soon she seemed to be absorbed in whatever was on the television. Deciding to be grateful that he wouldn't have to deal with her stupid sympathy after all, he looked back at the tv as well.

"You're not gonna bug me about this?" he couldn't help asking though.

"Nope." Jackie continued to stare resolutely at the screen.

"Well... that's cool."

"Whatever." She glanced up at him then, a small hesitant smile on her lips. He snorted and rolled his eyes, but a crooked grin tugged one corner of his mouth upward. He was startled when one of her small hands wrapped around his arm and she leaned her head lightly against his shoulder.

"Get off," he told her half-heartedly as he tried to shake her grip. She merely leaned away from him until he stopped flapping and leaned back when he was still again. He sighed in resignation and let her stay. As long as she kept her mouth shut, he told himself. One peep of pity and she'd be out of there. He rested his chin absently on the top of her head.

"Midget," he muttered.

"Dope head," she replied, folding her other hand around his arm as well.

Yeah, he thought. One word about feeling sorry for him and she'd definitely have to go.

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*Peaceful Easy Feeling, the Eagles 1972