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We Are Not Close Enough Friends For These To Be Benefits

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The thing about being Archie's best friend is that half the time, Archie's away on dates. Betty, Veronica, sometimes there's even the new girl of the week. Jughead's okay with this. When Archie's with Veronica, there's Betty. When Archie's with Betty, there's a slew of other people to hang out with and other things to do.

Like napping. Jughead had really been enjoying napping under this broad oak tree, just the perfect amount of shade and summer sun. At least, what was the perfect amount of shade before someone decided to cast his whole shadow over Jughead's position. If this were not enough, said someone decided to poke him awake with a stick.

Jughead opened an eye, though he already had a good idea, considering the stick. "What d'ya want, Reggie?"

"I see Cheryl's not around," Reggie observed.

"I already told you," Jughead groused. "We're just friends. I know Archie sets a bad example, but girls and guys can be friends."

"Hmmm," Reggie said noncommittally. "So you're saying you're free tonight?"

"I was sleeping," Jughead said pointedly.

"And now you're awake." Reggie's rakish smile may've worked on the girls, but Jughead was not impressed. He rolled over.

It was at this point Reggie sat on him. "So you're saying you're free tonight," Reggie repeated himself.

"Gerroff," Jughead mumbled, pushing at Reggie halfheartedly.

"You know, if Ethel were around, you'd be a lot more energetic."

"You can't threaten me with her. Veronica and Cheryl are at the mall making her over again."

Reggie gave a half-bounce as if he thought with a little effort he could inflict anything like the suffering Ethel did unintentionally. "So Archie's out with Betty?"

"As far as I know," Jughead wheezed out. Reggie was heavy. "So if you're looking for a date, you're out of luck."

"Am I?" Reggie suddenly grinned. "Guess what we're doing tonight!"

"Sleeping. I am sleeping the instant you let me go."

"Ah, you're far too optimistic in your chances," Reggie said. He stood and did his best to chivvy Jughead into an upright position, too. "Let's go, up and at 'em. We have places to see and people to do!"

"Things," Jughead said, reluctantly standing. "Things to do."

Reggie shook a finger at him. "You're not going to get anywhere with that attitude." He hooked an arm around Jughead's shoulder. "C'mon. I'm driving."

"You're buying, too," Jughead said.

Reggie's grin was like a shark. "Of course I am."

Jughead shook his head. "Fine. I guess it's not like I've got anything better to do."

"Anyone," Reggie said. "Anyone."

Jughead ignored him. When Reggie was like this, it was the only option.

--

"All the options are terrible," Jughead said flatly.

"It's not the movie," Reggie insisted, hand on Jughead's back and ushering him in, "it's the experience."

At this rate, Jughead thought as Reggie's hand accidentally dipped a little too low, he had definitely earned the extra large popcorn. In equal parts spite and hunger, he added an entire box of Milky Ways, daring Reggie to say anything.

As for the movie itself, the effects were subpar, the acting was terrible, and the plot practically nonexistent. To make matters worse, Reggie kept stealing his food. "You could've gotten your own tub," Jughead said as Reggie's hand bumped into his for the fourteenth time. "I could've put one or two of those Milky Ways back if it was really going to break the bank."

"That's very considerate," Reggie said, somehow sounding equal parts snide and touched. "You know, it's a little chilly in here today - " He stretched his arms.

"It's a million degrees outside," Jughead said.

"But - in here - "

"The only reason I agreed to a movie was the air-conditioning," Jughead said firmly, cutting off Reggie's attempt to exit the theater before he could voice it fully. There were free refills, and by God, Jughead was not leaving until he'd had his fill of popcorn.

"Oops," Reggie said as several stray kernels flew out of his hand and into Jughead's lap. "I'm a little clumsy today."

And now he was wasting it. "You are not allowed to hold the popcorn anymore," Jughead said.

"It's fine, I'll take care of it," Reggie said at the same time, shoving his hands into Jughead's lap.

"That is not popcorn," Jughead spoke in a high-pitched voice, arms flailing and making an even bigger mess.

The bucket landed on Reggie's head.

"Right," Jughead said. "Right. This movie is terrible. You were absolutely correct about leaving."

"What - "

Jughead retrieved the popcorn bucket from Reggie's head and marched determinedly to the lobby. Nothing was spoiling this for him.

Reggie arrived in the lobby in time to hear Jughead demand of the concessions stand, "What do you mean, you don't have free refills anymore?"

--

The date was not going as planned. Jughead wasn't even looking at Reggie, a far cry from falling in his arms in awe of his suave charm and handsome good looks. Reggie might not even get a second date, much less to second base, at this rate.

"So the movie was kind of awful," Reggie said, "and the popcorn thing was a bust - "

Jughead was muttering angrily to himself, clutching his box of Milky Ways close, which seemed to be his only consolation for the thus far terrible evening. Reggie, meanwhile, hadn't even managed to get in a single good grope before The Great Popcorn Disaster. Jughead had kicked him before Reggie could feel anything.

" - But we can turn it around. There's still," Reggie searched his mind, "Pop Tate's! I'll buy you a shake to make up for the popcorn mishap."

Jughead stared at Reggie with suspicion, like he was finally catching on to Reggie's grand plans for this summer - and, if Reggie was feeling optimistic, this evening. "Two milkshakes," Jughead said darkly.

"Two milkshakes," Reggie agreed.

"And you're buying one for yourself, this time," Jughead said.

Damn. But this was fine, perfectly fine. Reggie was a planner. He could work around this.

"Of course," Reggie said, placing his hand on Jughead's lower back again to help him into the car. "Wouldn't dream of doing anything else."

--

At some point in the last 24 hours, Reggie had forgotten all meaning of personal space. There was the sitting on him in the park, the inability to wait for Jughead to take his turn grabbing popcorn, the leading him everywhere as if he thought Jughead would lose his way without a hand on his ass - er, back, surely, Reggie was going for his back - but this. Jughead didn't even know what this was.

"There's another bench," Jughead said.

"So there is," Reggie agreed.

"Right over there," Jughead said.

"I see it."

"Reggie. Why are you on my side of the table?"

"Our side," Reggie said. "It's our side of the table."

"Why," Jughead gritted out, thighs pressed to Reggie's and absolutely determined not to blush, "does there need to be an our side?"

"But Jughead!" Reggie protested. "What if Archie and Betty came in? Wouldn't you want them to sit with us?"

It was, of course, at this point, that Archie and Betty walked in. For some reason, Reggie's head hit the table hard enough to slosh the lemons from their water glasses and the whipped cream from Reggie's shake. Jughead would be a little more irked, but as he was already holding his, it was only Reggie's that was wasted.

"Did you plan this?" Jughead asked, curious.

"Not. Not quite like this," Reggie's voice came out weakly.

"Jughead! Reggie!" Archie approached them with an arm wrapped around Betty's waist. "How's it going?"

"Mind if we sit here?" Betty asked.

"Reggie was saving it for you," Jughead said and gestured them in.

"This is almost like a double date," and for some reason, that sharp smile of Betty's was directed at Reggie's just lifting head.

"Almost," Reggie ruefully agreed.

Archie stared between the two of them, then turned that stare on Jughead, eyes wide. "You mean - "

"Shh," Betty shushed him. "Don't embarrass them."

"What - ?" Jughead started to ask, but Reggie popped out of his seat and dragged Jughead along with him.

"Sorry, hate to leave, but places to go! Time's a tickin'!" Reggie pulled Jughead right out of the restaurant, shake glasses still in hand.

"Uh. Is everything alright?" Jughead pointedly waved a glass in front of Reggie.

"You can return them later," Reggie said.

"And the bill?"

"Pop'll add it to my tab."

"Reggie - " To show he was serious, Jughead relinquished his delicious, delicious shakes to the summer heat, placing the glasses carefully down on the sidewalk to melt away. "You're looking kind of frazzled there."

Reggie ran a hand through his hair. He was - well - he was actually trembling a little. Jughead took off his cap, placed it by the shakes. He put a hand to his cheek and the other lightly against Reggie's. Yeah, no. No fever. Not sunstroke with the air-conditioned car and all the air-conditioned buildings.

Jughead was apparently a little clueless, but - he dropped his hands, brought their foreheads gently together - he wasn't stupid. He just hadn't realized he was in Reggie's dating pool until now. Reggie had mocked Jughead's bony ass and tendency to wear the same outfit every day of the week. Then again, he'd also been staring at same bony ass, so -

"Reggie," he said softly. "Next time you want to get my attention, you don't have to elbow me in the balls."

"I'm really, really sorry about that," Reggie said. Embarrassment was kind of a cute look on him.

"Yeah, well." Jughead gave a crooked smile, hoped Reggie found it even half as charming. He hooked his fingers into Reggie's belt loops. "Make it up to me."

(Reggie did.)