Once again, the blue boy watched the golden girl from afar as he found himself doing more and more often as they sped into adolescence together. They had met as kids through their mutual friend Archie, who was now something more than just a friend to Betty, while the blue boy remained the same to her. Kind of. Her crush on Archie put a strain on their friendship because he . . . well . . . Let’s just say he felt more and more left out as her attentions bent more towards his friend. And he slowly became bluer and more withdrawn from both of them as time passed for more reasons than just that.
But she shined. Especially going into cheerleading tryouts her freshman year. She and her sister Polly had practiced relentlessly all summer out in her front yard. He and Archie would sometimes catch glimpses of them between bouts of gaming, especially when their yelling from across the street would become so loud it would cause Archie to lose concentration and get Jughead killed. Again.
“The Blue! And Gold!”
Massive monster growling and chomping noises followed by a loud explosion and then ‘Muahahaha! All your bases are belong to us.’
“Dude! Archie! What the fuck?”
“Sorry, bro. It’s just the girls, man.” Archie put down his controller and said excitedly, “Hey, let’s go check them out.”
Jughead just shook his head. “One track mind, bro. One track mind.”
But Archie was already at the window, peering down at the street below. He smiled and waved at the Cooper sisters. As Jughead peered over his shoulder he saw Betty wave back at the boy next door and noticed her left heel cock inwardly a little, as if she was nervous. His heart sank a little because he knew he would never elicit that kind of reaction from any girl by merely waving at her, and certainly not from a girl like her.
One day he found her crying at her locker after school. The place was deserted since classes had been let out hours ago.
“Betty? Are you okay?” he asked with concern, coming up to her and putting a comforting hand on her shoulder.
She couldn’t answer, only shook her head from side to side, all bleary-eyed.
“What happened?” he asked softly and stroked her shoulder a bit.
“Ch-Cheryl Blossom,” Betty choked out.
The blue boy groaned. He was more than familiar with the conniving ways of Riverdale High’s resident evil twin. “What did she do?”
“She won’t let me be a River Vixen because . . .” Betty stopped and pulled away from him, wrapping her arms about herself and looking down.
She mumbled something incoherent.
He leaned in. “What?”
She spoke again and he could only make out the word ‘fat’ just as that utterance turned into a sob and she lifted a shaking hand to her mouth.
“Oh, Betty,” he said softly and suddenly she was clinging to him, her long-time friend, with her golden pony tail draped over his shoulder and her mouth breathing hotly onto his neck with her sobs as her tears fell onto his collar. He didn’t know what to do at first because in that very moment he realized he had feelings for her and her sudden proximity was . . . gulp.
But he figured it out quickly and wrapped his arms around her, too. The whole story poured out of Betty as she clung to him. Cheryl had denied her a spot on the River Vixens cheerleading squad claiming she was too fat and made some quip about her looking like Fat Betty from Mad Men. She had humiliated her in front of everyone in the entire gym.
Jughead pulled Betty away from him, yet kept a firm grip on her shoulders. Looking her straight in the eye he said, “Betty, you’re not fat, okay? Don’t let Cheryl get to you like that. Besides, why would you want - ?”
Betty pulled fully away and wiped at her eyes, suddenly angry. “Oh, so now I’m going to get the lecture from you about how cheerleading is superficial and insignificant and not worth my time –“
“No,” he said patiently.
“No? Then what were you going to say?”
“Betty, I know how important cheerleading is to you. I don’t know why, but I know that it is. I saw you practicing all summer. You poured your heart and soul into it. I know how much you wanted this.”
She hiccupped – the beginning of another bout of tears.
“Come here,” he said, inviting her into his arms again. She slowly walked back over to him and let him hold her. “Cheryl’s just being Cheryl. A true Blossom. And I’m sorry it had to affect you this way – that in her spitefulness she took this away from you. But you’re not fat, Betty, and even if you were, it wouldn’t matter.”
“Of course it does,” she said, breathing hotly against his neck again. “Everyone judges me for it.”
She looked up at him.
“Everyone?” he asked.
“Yeah. Even my friends. Kevin thought Cheryl’s Season 5 Betty crack was the funniest thing ever. He was laughing louder than anyone. What does that tell you about what he thinks of me?”
“Betty, Kevin’s – “
“And Archie,” she buried her head in Jughead’s neck again and he held her tighter even though his heart sank at the mention of his best friend’s name. “Is this what he thinks of me? Is this why he doesn’t seem very interested sometimes? I try so hard . . .”
“Betty, you shouldn’t have to try. You’re perfect as you are.” Archie’s an idiot.
“That’s what I try for, Juggie. That’s what I try so hard to be.”