The year was 1982; the month, January. Donna and Eric were at college together, Hyde was running his record shop, and Jackie Burkhart had the perfect job as a news anchor, the perfect boyfriend, and the perfect life.
She came home that evening to find Fez and Kelso sitting next to each other on the coach.
"Michael!" Jackie said. "I didn't know you were coming in for a visit."
"Well actually… there's something Fez and I need to talk to you about," Kelso said. Fez looked nervous, and he just nodded.
Jackie took a seat across from them, mildly concerned. "Okay, what's up?"
"We've, uh…" Kelso trailed off. His hand was resting on Fez's knee.
Fez gulped. He looked guilty. "Kelso and I…"
Jackie stared at the both of them, confused and starting to get anxious.
Fez took a deep breath.
"Jackie, we have to break up."
"What are you talking about, Fez?"
He was silent. His hands were shaking. Kelso grabbed his hand and squeezed it.
Jackie looked between the two of them again.
"Wait a second are you two…" she trailed off, biting her lip. They nodded, silently.
Tear sparked to Jackie's eyes.
"You're cheating on me with my ex-boyfriend?"
Fez shook his head frantically. "No, no, Jackie, we haven't- we haven't done anything yet."
"No, Jackie, I would never cheat on you, but- but Kelso and I… we've talked about it, and we're in love."
Jackie nodded slowly, breathing shakily.
"I should have seen this coming. I'm such an idiot."
"No, Jackie, we didn't even know," Kelso said. "We only figured it out like, yesterday."
Jackie felt hollow, like everything was falling apart.
"I need to go," she said, standing hurriedly and grabbing her purse, putting on her jacket.
"Wait, Jackie, don't go!" Fez said, getting to his feet.
Her eyes were wide, and she looked between them again.
"I hope you're happy together, without me," she said bitterly, before striding out the door and slamming it behind her.
The next thing she knew, she was standing in front of the door to Hyde's record shop, her hands shaking inside the fur lined pockets of her jacket.
"What're you doing standing out here in the cold?" she suddenly heard a voice behind her say, and Jackie whipped around to find Hyde looking at her, his face unreadable.
"Oh, just, nothing," she said nervously, pushing open the door and going to sit on the couch. It was near closing time, and nobody else was in the store. Steven followed her inside and sat in the chair across from her.
He gave her a look. "You okay?"
"Yeah, yeah of course I am!" Jackie said, her pitch high. "Why wouldn't I be?"
He raised his eyebrows. "I heard about Fez and Kelso. They called me before you got here and told me what happened."
Jackie took a deep breath, nodding, and then promptly burst into tears, in the same moment leaping into his arms. He hugged her back. Just like old times, wasn't it? Jackie had always gone to him for comfort, even before everything had happened between them.
"No, no, I'm not okay, Steven," she said, as soon as the tears subsided enough for her to speak. She pulled away and sat back down on the coach, wiping her tears. "Although to be honest, I'm not sure I can really be surprised."
Hyde chuckled. "Yeah, I think all of us saw it coming a little bit."
Jackie laughed too. "Yeah. Guess Fez wasn't the perfect guy for me after all."
"Yeah, Donna told me all about that stupid list you made. You're Jackie Fucking Burkhart, you don't need a list to tell you who you want."
Jackie looked at him. "Well, I'd sorta done my best at that point to put the person I really wanted out of my mind."
Hyde's lips turned. "Oh yeah? Why's that?"
Jackie gave him a look. "Well, he'd gone and married a stripper out of nowhere after refusing multiple times to even tell me it was possible he might want to marry me one day, so, y'know," she said, shrugging her shoulders.
Hyde let out a breath of air. "Yeah, that was a pretty idiotic thing for him to have done, wasn't it?"
"Someone should have put their foot in his ass if you ask me."
Hyde laughed. "Yeah, well, he was pretty messed up after he saw the girl he really wanted to marry about to do it with the guy currently hooking up with Fez."
Jackie was about to laugh, but then her eyes went wide. "Wait- wait what did you just say, Steven?"
Hyde's smile went lower, and he swallowed. "You heard me."
"You mean you- you were gonna say yes?"
He shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe not."
Jackie rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, Steven, don't give me that bullshit."
Hyde sighed, and he spoke softly. It had been a long day. "Yeah. I was gonna say yes."
Jackie's heart beat harder in her chest.
"Holy shit, Steven."
"Don't you go hanging this over my head now, Jackie Burkhart."
She smirked. "You know you couldn't stop me if you tried."
He laughed and shook his head. "Yeah, I suppose not."
There was silence for a few moments, and Hyde considered the matter at hand. He'd put it out of his head as best he could for the last two years, but the truth was undeniable. He was still in love with her. He'd just kept his mouth shut because he didn't want to ruin her happiness. Fez had always put her first, and he had decided Fez was probably more capable than he ever would be of giving her the life she always wanted.
Hyde looked at his feet. "I'd still… consider it," he finally said, almost inaudibly.
Jackie, luckily, had good ears. Her breath caught. "You-you would?"
He gave her a little shrug, and swallowed, speaking louder. "Yeah. After I realized I had a wife, y'know, I tried to give me and Sam the best shot we could. So I just reminded myself of all the little things I hated about you, and I got in such a habit of it that after Sam turned out to be, y'know, already fucking married, I… I was used to acting like I still hated you. And then you and Fez happened and… I just couldn't let myself think about it. I had to move on."
Tears came to Jackie's eyes, which this time had nothing to do with her recent breakup.
She nodded. "Yeah, I get that. I was so mad at you for marrying somebody else, and I… I couldn't let myself be sad. It would have destroyed me. I did the same thing, just focused on all the little things I hate about you."
"I made a big mistake, getting with Fez."
"Well yeah, turns out he's in love with Kelso."
Jackie shook her head. "No, no, it's not that. Even if he had been as straight as can be… it was still a mistake. I think I was more in love with the idea of how perfect he and I could be than I ever was with him."
"Makes sense. And I should have immediately divorced Sam, regardless of her being married to some old dude."
There was silence once more. They stared at each other.
"Remember how secret and forbidden our love was at the beginning?" Jackie said suddenly, a smirk on her lips.
"Yeah, it was really hot," Hyde said, grinning back at her.
"I don't have anywhere to stay. I can't exactly live with Fez anymore."
"You can stay the record shop until you find yourself a new place. We've got extra blankets in the back."
"Of course. Anything for you, doll."
They smiled at each other.
"Thank you," she said, getting up to stand. He stood too, and she gave him a peck on the cheek.
"You want me to go with you to get your stuff from Fez's?" he asked.
"I'd like that," she said, and held out her hand.
Hyde took it. He squeezed it tightly, and he promised himself he'd never let go of it again.