Disclaimer: That '70s Show copyright The Carsey-Werner Company, LLC and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, LLC.
Author's Note 1: Takes place after season 7. No Sam. Eric did not go to Africa but to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside with red-haired Donna.
Author's Note 2: Inspired by Carol (twiniitowers)'s Seinfeld challenge.
A PETRIFYING PROPOSAL
October 13, 1979
Point Place, Wisconsin
"Freaky French fries?" Eric said and gestured for Fez to glance up. Written on the chalkboard above The Hub's order counter was a special October menu. "Spooky shakes ... horrible hamburgers? Yeah, they might want to try a different marketing strategy."
Fez's eyes widened with terror. "What if the cook adds ground toenails to the hamburger meat?"
"At least it would be interesting." Eric's shoulders slumped as the girl ahead of him received her order. Her haunted hot dog resembled a regular hot dog. The ketchup didn't even drip over the bun like blood. He ordered his own haunted hot dog at the counter, but October at The Hub signified just how lame Halloween had become: cotton spiderwebs on the windows, a string of orange lights, and cartoony cut-outs taped to the wall. Far scarier was the old chewing gum stuck to the tables.
Minutes later, Eric and Fez joined their friends at their tables, but no one commented on the bats printed on the napkins. The bats were smiling so benignly they wouldn't frighten a mango. They didn't even have fangs, and Eric hid his napkin beneath his tray.
"This sucks," he said before biting into his haunted hot dog. It tasted fine, but going to college, starting careers, having a kid—life was growing heavy, as if adulthood had dumped five-hundred pounds of dirt on it.
And his friends weren't putting up a fight.
They squeezed cackling ketchup onto their plates without any humor. Even Hyde failed to make his annual Halloween remark that they were "about to eat blood, man." Eric didn't make it for him, either. He sipped his spooky shake, and his stomach churned at his friends' complacency. This Halloween was going be another one with substandard frights. Watching Night of the Living Dead for the eighth year in a row would probably be enough for them.
"Hey, guys, check it out." Kelso pointed to three women across The Hub. His other hand dipped absently into his fries, covering his knuckles in ketchup."Look at the chick with the dark red lips."
"And?" Eric said, but even sitting, the woman was statuesque. She kept her shoulders back and neck straight. Her thick brown hair and makeup seemed perfect, and she picked at her French fries daintily.
"She was my teller this morning," Kelso said. He licked the ketchup from his fingers and angled his chair out from the table. His pointing hand now groped for his shrieking soda,and Donna shoved the cup into his grasp before he could spill it. ""Her name's Tilly, and I asked if that was short for Matilda, which I totally hoped was wrong 'cause that's a grandma's name, y'know?"
"So what?" Hyde said. He and Jackie were sitting in the booth seat together, and his arm was draped around her shoulders. "You do it with her in the bank vault or something?"
"Well, she took my deposit—"
Fez gasped in mid-bite of his horrible hamburger. "Oh, you beautiful sonuvabitch!"
"No, Fez," Kelso said. "She took my wad of—"
"Oh, my God!" Fez gripped Kelso's arm. "Don't say it..." His voice grew hushed. "Okay, say it."
"Money," Kelso said, and Fez shoved Kelso's arm away. "But that was all. Never even told me her full first name." Kelso's chair was still angled outward, and his gaze remained in Tilly's direction. "I don't get it. A chick like that should be all over me. We're both hot!"
"Life's full of disappointments, my friend," Eric said. "Like, it's almost Halloween again, and look at this place!" He gestured to the walls. "How are paper pumpkins supposed to be scary?"
Hyde smirked. "Yeah, for you, they should've put out a bunch of playground balls. We all know how they give you nightmares."
"Or a jar with a spider in it," Jackie said. "Remember the time Steven chased you around with one?"
Eric's throat grew tight at the memory. "At least that was scary! How are possessed pizza and rubber bats scary?"
"You know what's scary?" Kelso said. "A hot bank teller turning me down!"
"Oh, whatever." Donna ran a hand through her hair, exposing one of her ears. Dirty, tingly-in-the-pants thoughts rushed through Eric's mind. The sweet, fleshy bulb of her lobe fit so well between his lips, and teasing her skin with his teeth always made her breath catch. But sweeping his arm across the tables, clearing them of food, and taking Donna in front of all their friends … it probably wasn't a good idea.
"Donna, this is serious," Kelso said. "If she doesn't sleep with me..." He glanced at his watch. "Crap. It's already 1:30. I might go without sex a whole afternoon!"
"Come on!" Donna said, laughing. "Are you telling me you can't handle going without sex for a few hours?"
"He can't," Jackie said and clasped Hyde's hand by her shoulder. She always seemed to give him some kind of physical reassurance these days, especially when talking about Kelso.. "Why do you think he kept cheating on me?"
Donna smiled that quirky half-smile of hers, and the bat napkins bothered him slightly less. He snaked his arm around her back. She scooted closer to him on her chair, giving him some perspective. Any month he could spend with her was a good one, even if Halloween was mostly dead, and he said, "Kelso, I bet you couldn't keep it in your pants a week."
"I ... could ... too!"
"Yeah, right." Hyde chuckled. "You wouldn't last a day."
"Well, neither would you," Kelso said. "Fez is the only one who'd have any chance. He's used to not getting any action."
"Ai..." Fez looked down at his right hand. "It's true. I haven't touched a woman in months."
"Look, guys like us," Kelso said and traced a circle around Hyde, Eric, and himself, "we get it all the time. Doin' it—well, it's like breathing."
"I'd last a helluva lot longer not fucking than you, man," Hyde said.
Kelso stared at Jackie, and her face grew pink. "Don't you dare say it, Michael—"
"Burn!" he shouted, flushing her face even pinker.
She smacked Hyde's arm. "See what you did, Steven? Now everyone thinks you can resist me. I'm Jackie Burkhart. No man can resist me."
Hyde arched an eyebrow. "Wanna bet?"
She let out a strangled gasp. Then she crossed her arms over her chest and turned away from him. "Oh, yeah? Well, I can resist you, too."
"Right..." His hand slipped below the table, but he withdrew it quickly. Nail marks were cut in his skin, red and curved like frowns.
"Okay, as fun as all this sex, no-sex talk is," Eric said, "what are we doing for Halloween? I want the shit scared out of me this year."
"Just walk in on your parents screwing each other," Hyde said. "That should do it."
"I want to be scared, Hyde. Not scarred for life." Eric chewed the last bit of his hot dog hard as memories of his parents' bare asses flashed behind his eyes. "But thanks."
Donna finished her chilling chicken fingers, and her warm hand glided over his knee. "I'm gonna get some dastardly dessert," she said.
She left their tables, and her butt looked amazingly squeezable in the jeans she wore. Eric ached to rip them off her, but society had rules. Being caught by the cops once during sex was one time too many.
When Donna returned, she had an ice cream sundae and a mischievous grin. "I totally know how to make this Halloween scary," she said. "For all of us."
"And how's that, m'lady?" Eric said.
"We have a contest to see who can go without sex the longest."
A glob of ice cream dribbled over the edge of her plastic bowl, and he caught it with his thumb. "Sure, Donna. Nice Joke," he said, but Kelso was shaking his head, as if genuinely frightened.
A strange silence settled over their tables. Hyde drummed his fingers on his cheek. Jackie stared at the ceiling. Kelso's chest rose and fell with short breaths, and Eric must have appeared uncomfortable, too. Visions of Star Wars models were floating behind his eyes, thousands of plastic X-Wings flooding the basement while he drowned in his own horniness.
Donna, that suggester of this horrible, horrible abomination, focused on her sundae, scraping the surface meticulously, keeping it an even plane. If she were happy, she wasn't showing it.
Fez was the only one who acted unfazed. His head bobbed cheerfully to the Bee Gees song playing on the jukebox.
"I'm in," Hyde said, breaking the thick quiet. "I'll even put up twenty bucks."
"What?" Jackie blinked and shook her head frantically. "Steven, you can't be serious."
"Oh, I'm serious, man." He gestured to both Eric and Kelso. "They'll both be out before the night's over, and we'll make some easy cash."
Her hand covered her heart. "We?"
"Yup." He touched the underside of her chin, prompting her to lean in for a kiss.
"Wait, who said I'm putting up any money?" Kelso said.
"Hey," Eric said, "who said we're even doing this crazy contest?Because it's crazy."
Donna put down her sundae and wiped her fingers on a napkin. "You know what? I'll go in for twenty dollars."
"No, you have to put up fifty," Jackie said. "All you've got to resist is Eric, and how hard can that be?"
"You have no idea," Donna whispered, "believe me," and she picked up her sundae again. "Twenty dollars is totally fair."
"B-b-but, Donna!" Panic exploded in Eric's chest. "If you go in, that means I'm in." She raised her eyebrows at him, and panic-shrapnel lodged in the rest of his body. "Well—fine! I might as well get something out of this. I'm in for twenty, too."
Hyde snickered, and that seemed to spur Kelso into action. He stuck his hand into his pocket and slammed twenty dollars on the table. "That's it! We are so on!"
"Cool," Hyde said, "but why're you carrying around twenty bucks? Didn't you just put cash into the bank?"
Kelso nodded over to Tilly, the statuesque bank teller. "Oh, after I deposited my check, I made a withdrawal. Gave me another chance to—"
"Get her pregnant?" Hyde said and grabbed Kelso's twenty. "This dough's as good as ours," he said to Jackie. "How's dinner at The Vineyard sound?"
Eric snatched the twenty from Hyde's overconfident fingers. "You haven't won yet,." he said and returned the twenty to Kelso. "Everyone should hold onto their own money until you're out."
Fez presented his open palm. "I am in, too. You may give me your money now."
"Oh, no, no, no," Kelso said. "You're not allowed in this contest."
"But—but—!" Fez inhaled sharply. Kelso glanced at Hyde, who glanced at Eric. The three of them must've shared the same thought: for once, Fez had too unfair an advantage.
Donna, though, narrowed her eyes, and her nose crinkled. She was calculating. "We'll just have to adjust the contest rules," she said, and Eric's face heated up. "No sex and no satisfying yourself yourself. That way, Fez can take part."
Jackie tilted her head, like she hadn't quite heard what Donna said. "Excuse me?"
"You mean we can't..." Kelso curled his fist and jerked it in the air.
Hyde shifted in the booth seat and didn't speak. His lips pressed tightly together, and he peered over at the restrooms. But, eventually, he said a taut, "Fine."
Eric's cheeks were burning. He felt adrift in a vast desert, the naked sun drilling him into the coarse sand. "Well, Donna," he said and patted her arm, "you've officially done it."
"Done what?" she said.
"You've scared the shit out of me."