A/N : When I finished my first ever That 70s Show fic I did say I'd try writing another one soon. Well, a couple of one-shots not withstanding, this is my latest attempt at a J/H fanfic. Here's hoping it doesn't suck!
Title : Something Better Than This
Rating : PG
Summary : AU Season 4. When Michael's lack of care leads to Jackie kissing the tiny cheese guy, Todd, it is Hyde that catches her in the act. The reactions of those involved lead to surprises for all concerned, in a tale of love, betrayal, and cheese!
Disclaimer : All recognisable characters from That 70s Show belong to important people that aren't me!
Chapter 1 - Kiss & Tell
"Jackie, you clocked out half an hour ago" Todd said looking bemused as she came rushing back into the Cheese Palace, "Did you come back to tell me something?" he checked hopefully, "because I feel the same way" he told her, though Jackie didn't notice at all. She was too busy pounding on the phone, dialling Michael's number and ranting about how he'd left her standing outside waiting for him for the third time this week. It was bad enough the day he'd been late because he needed to see how the Jetsons ended, but this was it now, she was seriously mad at him!
"I just don't know what's happening to us" she said, anger giving way it sadness somewhat as she hugged herself and looked down at the ground.
"Jackie, you need to cheer up" her boss told her as he stepped toward her, "and the first step to cheering up is giving Todd a hug" he smiled, holding out his arms to her. Grateful for any offer of comfort right now, Jackie stepped into Todd's arms, a little stunned when he pulled her tight to him and crushed his lips to hers. For a moment she was too surprised to react and when she pulled away she almost wished she hadn't as she looked into the surprised face of Steven Hyde.
"Huh" was his reaction to the situation he found himself in.
He'd only come to the mall to find some kind of acceptable birthday present for Mr Forman, after all the family put a roof over his head and everything, he had a little cash saved from his job at the Fotohut. His mind rambled away from where it ought to be before his eyes focused back on the sight of Jackie in her boss' arms, looking startled and embarrassed. She was cheating on Kelso? With this guy? That was just pathetic!
"What should I do?" the scrawny cheese man asked and Jackie instructed him to run, which he did, impressively fast.
"Steven, hi" Jackie smiled, as if nothing had happened, "Is that a new T-shirt, cos the colour is great on you, really brings out the colour of your eyes" she rambled, "At least it will when you're not wearing your glasses, obviously" she laughed too loudly and Hyde shook his head.
"Save it, Jackie" he told her, "I saw what you did, man! I saw tongue" he told her, pointing a finger at her and making her shift uncomfortably.
"Okay, yes, I know" she said, her fingers lacing and unlacing as she panicked, "But, y'know, we don't have to tell Michael about this right, cos y'know he cheated on me, and this, it barely even counts, it was just a kiss I..."
"You what, Jackie?" Hyde asked her interestedly, "You lost your tiny mind somewhere amongst the gouda samples?" he checked.
"Hey, it's not like I did anything so terrible" she protested at his holier-than-thou attitude, "Michael cheated on me with Pam Macy, with Laurie, with God knows who else!" she reminded him, counting the girls off on her fingers as she named them.
"Yeah, but at least he cheated with hot chicks!" Hyde pointed out, "That guy's the best you could do?" he asked in astonishment, "I'm ashamed of you, man, if you wanted to cheat you could've at least picked someone worth cheating for. Even I'd be a cooler choice than him"
"What? You want me to cheat with you?" she asked, getting up in his face.
The strangest intense moment passed between them then as they stood eye to eye and toe to toe, memories of last year flooding back into their minds, her supposed love for him, their first and only date, sitting on the front of her Daddy's car, leaning in close for that kiss...
"In your dreams, doll" Hyde said suddenly pulling back, feeling weird.
Of course she'd got it wrong, he hadn't meant that he wanted to be the guy she cheated on Kelso with, that was just ridiculous, although as he'd told her once before, given half the chance he wouldn't object to doing it with her, she was hot after all, when she wasn't wearing the cheese maiden's uniform.
"Look, Steven" Jackie sighed, looking at the floor and then back up at him, "You won't tell Michael about this will you? Please?"
"Kelso's my friend, Jackie, it'd be dishonourable not to tell him what I know" Hyde told her with a shake of his head, "Of course, I don't actually care about honour, and it'll be more fun to torture you with this information until I'm bored" he said with a laugh that didn't please Jackie at all. This was like a living nightmare!
Hyde was worried. This he realised as he sat in the basement, surrounded by his friends, all of them staring at the TV on which some crappy show was playing. Hyde couldn't have identified what it was if asked since he really wasn't paying attention at all, just sitting there contemplating something, mostly the fact he might be becoming mentally unstable.
Maybe it was too many years of participating in the Circle, one too many times he'd got a little too 'relaxed'. There really was very few rational explanations of his recent behaviour and it bothered him a great deal to realise it. His friends hadn't noticed any change in him the past twenty four hours, he knew since they happily would have told him he was being weird if they thought so.
Still Steven Hyde had quite decided by now he must be going nuts. After all, he was the only one to know that Jackie had cheated on Kelso with the cheese guy, and yet, he hadn't breathed a word to anyone. He hadn't even been going out of his way to make life miserable for the little princess, which he'd quite promised her he would. He was sure it was unnerving her, the fact he was doing nothing, and what was even more worrying was that Hyde felt bad about that too!
'I do not care about Jackie' he intoned to himself inside his head, arms folded across his chest as he stared at the TV still and got quite angry with himself. He should be using the information he had to his advantage, and yet here he was worrying about whether he should or not, and how the whole thing was hurting Jackie!
As if on cue, the very girl he was arguing with himself over burst into the basement with a fake smile painted on her face. Of course no-one else was smart enough or paid enough attention to know that the grin on her lips was as fake as Mr Pinciotti's hair, nobody but Hyde anyway.
"Michael, sweetie, you were supposed to meet me at The Hub an hour ago" she complained, still smiling and trying not to sound to mad.
Hyde frowned at that. Just because she kissed some other guy, she so should not let herself get treated like a doormat by Kelso. That made her even more pathetic in his eyes, and that and the fight that had been going on in his head for the past hour or more, led him to his first attack since the cheese-guy-kissing incident.
"Y'know Jackie, you should stay here" he said, to everyone else's surprise, "We're just gonna hang out and fool around, and we all know how much you like to fool around" he said, giving her a look and a smile that she didn't appreciate.
"Thanks, Steven, but Michael and I want to be alone... at The Hub" she said, reaching for her boyfriends hand, but he shied away.
"No way, I wanna stay here and fool around" he grinned like the idiot he was and Hyde glanced away. He was going to let it go then, though he didn't really know why. He told himself it wasn't because Jackie looked so pained when he made jokes at her expense like that, but he couldn't help thinking it had something to do with it.
"So Jackie" it was Donna that spoke next, having grown bored of the TV by now, "How's it going down at the Cheese shop?" she asked, trying to be friendly.
"Yeah, y'know you must be so tired from giving it away at the mall" Hyde couldn't resist another jibe since it was pretty much just lying there. Jackie looked at him with sad eyes as she grabbed Michael's arm and pulled hard.
"C'mon Michael, lets go!" she urged him, but he was having none of it.
"No, you should stay" Fez enthused, "We could play Monopoly" he said with a happy smile, clapping his hands together like a small child.
"Oh, but that wouldn't be much fun since we all know that Jackie cheats" Hyde went in for the kill and expected an outburst from the little brunette. What he didn't expect was for her to let out a sob and bolt for the door, leaving Kelso staring after her.
"Well, that's just silly" he shook his head, laughing, "There's no need for her to get all worked up about it, we all know she cheats at every board game"
The others agreed, all looking at each other for some explanation of that little outburst, all except Hyde who knew what her problem was. He kept his eyes glued to the uninteresting TV screen, hating himself just a little bit more than he was comfortable with for what he'd done.
When the gang started actually playing Monopoly, Hyde decided he wanted out. Fez was bound to start losing and flip the board, and until then he'd have to endure Eric and Donna sniping at each other, and Kelso being annoying as usual.
Right now all he could think about was Jackie and how upset she'd been. It hadn't even occurred to her boyfriend to bother going after her, and though Donna had considered it, Eric had told her it was probably best to leave Jackie be til she calmed down - the red-head took very little persuasion.
When Hyde said he should go grab something to eat before his shift at the Fotohut no-one really batted an eye and he was soon pulling on his jacket and hurrying up the stairs with his keys in his hand. He was surprised when he came into the kitchen to find Jackie at the table with her head in her hands.
"Oh, it's you" she said, glancing up at the sound of foot steps on the hard floor, "I'm sorry, is the basement not fun enough for you when I'm not there to make a fool of?" she asked, wiping her face with the back of her hand, wishing she wasn't being so lame as to cry in front of him. Of course it was far from the first time she'd been in tears in the presence of Steven Hyde, there had been at least three times she could recall without hardly trying, but this was different. He had done this to her, made her want to sit here sobbing like a child. That particular fact hit home with both of them, and Hyde felt terribly guilty once again.
"Jackie" he sighed, getting closer to her, hesitating a little before crouching down beside her chair and putting an arm around her shoulders, "Hey, c'mon man, don't cry"
"Why do you care, Steven?" she snapped, shrugging his arm away, "I thought you wanted to hurt me, to make me feel bad? Well, I do, okay? I feel awful" she admitted, her face awash with tears a she stood up and stared up at him.
"Jackie, I wasn't..." he began, hating the fact he even cared that he'd upset her, but he did.
Maybe a couple of years ago in the beginning he'd have felt differently. When Jackie and Kelso had first started dating, Hyde really had hated her. Sure, he always knew she was hot, he wasn't blind after all, but her annoyingness far out-weighed that back then. Since she'd been hanging with the gang in the basement Jackie had changed. He'd taught her Zen once upon a time, though you wouldn't know it now, she'd even fancied herself to be in love with him and for an insane moment he'd almost felt the same. Now, he just felt so bad for having caused the mess that stood before him, this little girl's tears were all his doing, and he hated it.
"Jackie" he said awkwardly, not knowing how best to handle the situation, "Y'know if I realised you were gonna turn on the waterworks I wouldn't've said anything, okay? This is, it's just me, man, you know that"
"Not always" she shook her head sadly, "I remember you being nicer to me" she told him, "I remember when we were almost friends" she said, her voice quivering with emotion still.
Hyde remembered too, all too well, how close they'd gotten when Jackie and Kelso broke up, when he'd taught her to be Zen and she'd fallen for charms he barely knew he had. It was like she'd read his mind a few moments ago since he'd been thinking of these very things.
As she looked at him now, eyes still watering a little, all he wanted to do was make it better. Without a word he cleared the space between them in three strides and pulled her into his arms. This time she didn't shrug away or push him off, she let herself be held, wrapping her own arms around his waist as she sobbed into his chest. He brought her comfort when times were tough, he always had since ever since they started hanging out. Sure he'd hurt her today, but like he said, that was just his way. Now she had to feel guilty for kissing Todd behind Kelso's back, and one other thing. She had to feel bad for loving the way Steven's arms felt around her body, how much better this felt than when Michael held her.
To Be Continued...