The cold metal feels smooth under his rough palms. For a mere second, he reconsiders. Maybe he should look at the pros and cons of the situation and layout some expert plan before diving into the storm. He scoffs. Heck with that.
Standing up straight, running his fingers through his loose hair, he remembers how just this morning he was deciding whether or not to gel back his hair- all the older men did it, and maybe it would appeal more. Now, he was happy he hadn't. One curl of his hair covers left eye and he constantly fiddles with that piece- twirling it between his fingers while he anxiously tapped his leg or even when he relaxed with his eyes closed and in deep thought.
Of course, there wasn't much of that these days.
Pushing open the door, he is greeted immediately by a strong blast of perfume that he associates with cologne and the bathroom refresheners that just seem to make everything worse.
Before he had time to collect himself, a deep voice filled his ears,
"The tables have turned, I see."
The voice was hard, but not of cruelity.
"Mr. Monte, I believe so. "
"So you're finally here- even after your sister joined The Shadows. I admire your savegery. So, you're here and quite aware of the responsibilites, I assume?"
"I wouldn't be here if I had even a slight doubt."
"Acceptable," Monte says, ruffling through his files.
"Is there anything specific I should be aware of?"
Monte stops shuffling and looks up, his dark eyes boring deep holes into the bright blue ones across from him.
" Quite so. You'll discover everything within the time of your task. There's a meeting this thursday- some of The Others will be there."
The stillness in the room reflects on the importance of the matter, and that there were no windows and the only sound was the ticking of the birch clock hanging in the corner.
"While with The Others, code names are used- so forget whatever the hell your name is, because I don't give a damn."
Monte sticks out his hand.
"Welcome to The Other Side, August."
When there's a breeze in the air, it usually helps people breathe better, especially after a day of tension and nervousness.
So ironically, Jughead Jones lights a cigarette.
Leaning over the banister of his hotel porch, he takes in the city lights that illuminate the night and the constant swarm of cars and taxis that seem never ending. He could sure get used to it- and he will, because while Jughead's stay in Chicago is temporary, it's a bit longer than a normal jaunt.
He walks over to the small table and chair in the corner where his crisp folder lies. Leaning over the table with furrowed brows, he gently opens the folder and takes out the first paper.
April 19, 2017
In compliance with The Other Side
He's read it over a thousand times and it still makes him shudder a little.
'August. August. August.' He says in his head.
"August," He tries, and the name feels foreign on his tongue.
Jughead doesn't know what compelled him to join The Others, besides for that it felt right.
Also, The Shadows were fools. If they thought they could overrun the system, let alone the government, their ideas were beyond ludicrous. Sneaking up and ambushing the government was a stupid way to seek revenge on what they did for the state and Riverdale. Jughead loathed them as much as they did, but for different reasons and would carry them out with entirely different ways.
He remembers the conversation he had with his sister, Jellybean- or 'JB'- and it was still fresh in his mind.
'Hmmm?' He had responded, grabbing a chip from his bag and flipping a page of the book he was reading.
'I need to tell you something.'
'Hmmmm?' Jughead said again, oblivious to the importance of the matter.
'JUG!' Jellybean had yelled, which made Jughead momentarily choke on his chip.
'Dude. No need to kill me off before you even tell me anything. I seriously could have died just now, and you-'
'I've joined The Shadows.' Jellybean cut him off.
Jughead scoffed. 'And I'm joining The Other side,' he mocked her, and laughed at the mere idea of it.
'I'm serious, Jughead. I'm actually joining the Shadows.'
Jughead was about to make some sarcastic comment involving the excellency of the government, but quickly shut his mouth when he saw the guilt on Jellybean's face and they way her pale hands trembled .
'Jelly, what in the actual hell were you thinking? And still are?' He had said in an even, cold tone.
'Please don't call me that. I'd perfer 'JB' ." Jughead sputtered. " I know what I'm doing, okay? I've always been interested in The Shadows and their motives ever since I heard of them. I was allured to them, and I researched and invested myself in them. When things got really bad here, and everywhere else in the state, I decided that I know what I have to do. And this is what I have to do.'
Jughead furrowed his eyebrows and shook his head.
' I won't allow this.'
'Well guess what, Forsythe,' she stressed his real name and stared back at her brother, "YOU won't be telling me what and what not to do, because I already made my desicion, and I'm going to meet with leader himself tomorrow.'
Jughead was baffled. How could his very own sister go against everything he stood for? The Shadows were absolutely ridiculous, and no one in their right mind would join them; but apparently his own sister would.
' Do you know how much danger your putting yourself in?' He seethed.
' I'm sorry, but when did life become easy? The shadows take risks. And if you don't shut the hell up your taking a huge one yourself, big brother.'
Strange, Jughead thinks. Just some time ago I was repelled by the idea of joining either side of the rebels, and here I am in The Others as a top recruit.
Jellybean had a point. What's life without risks?
Jughead looks at everyone and everything around him skeptically.
Again, like Mr. Monte's office, there were no windows and the room was seriously plain besides for another clock, this time oak, that doesn't stop making that annoying clicking sound that clocks do.
Eleven other people are sitting around the table, all with their files in front of them. One short Latina girl with sleek black hair and a neck of pearls sits straight and confident to his right, and to his left is a boy with a checker sweater on top of a blouse that doesn't stop clicking on his pen.
The door is swung open, and Mr. Monte strides in, scans the table, nods, and shuts the door behind him with a bang that makes the pen boy near Jughead jump.
"The long awaited day has come. My top recruits, all twelve of you, gathered here today with full awareness of what awaits you."
Latina nods her head vigerously.
"Excellent." He takes a seat. "All thirteen of us in this room will be cooperating in mission #325 – and each of you were given a name when assigned this job. Please use it while working on the mission."
Pen boy straightens out his collar.
" We all know that the idiots which are our government have put on us unthinkable hardships and dangers, which WILL NOT be ignored," Mr. Monte raises his voice.
"The 'Shadows' as they call themselves, think they know what their doing, when they damn well don't."
A few people nod their heads.
" There's obviously a master plan, but I want you all to be familiar with each other and your ideas, because you'll be working together constantly. I'm going to take care of something, so you all have time to 'socialize' as they call it."
Mr. Monte walks out, and the second he closes the door, a girl with long red hair and matching lips exclaimes, "Monte looking extremely dilf-y today, don't you think?"
After a few seconds, pen boy announces,
"I have to agree on that one, uhm..."
"March," she fills in, and Jughead could tell she had rehearsed that a few times.
"March? That's interesting. I'm November..." A ginger boy remarks while he taps his foot.
"It looks like all our code names are months of the year!" A blonde girl finishes off, her ponytail bouncing as she flashes her teeth to November. Damn, those teeth are white.
"That theory was devolped approximately 1.5 minutes ago," a guy with round glasses- Jughead sees his name is January, Dilton Doiley- says with his chin up.
Blonde blushes a deep red and mumbles something under her breath. Ginger rolls his eyes and lightly brushes her shoulder, "That makes a lot of sense, June! Do the months correspond to something?"
Jughead sees the way June's eyes light up and silently wishes he could ever be so easily comforted.
Some of the others stand up and get coffee from a table on the side, so he joins them and makes himself a black coffee. Returning to the table, he wish he hadn't, because it looked like some argument had broken out.
"I do not look 15!" Ginger sputtered, glaring at March.
"Let's face it, May. Your very cute, no doubt about that," at that pen boy nods, "but not everyone looks as good and fresh like Mr. lone wolf over there," she says, pointing at Jughead.
Before he knew what was happening, four pairs of eyes were staring at him, and March had a smug look on her face.
Jughead raises his eyebrows while he slowly stirs his coffee.
May has a frown on his face, while June quickly looks away– obviously thinking it was inappropriate to stare. Jughead smirks.
Man, was this going to be some life.
"Hey, where are you staying?"
Jughead spins around, and is suddenly face to face with May and June.
"The Gardile," he says, "over on 53rd Street. You guys are June and May...?"
"Please, don't call me that, I'm Betty." Another one of her now famous smiles.
"Archie," the ginger one grins as well, apparently over the incident from before.
"Jughead," he nods back– and gets the expected confused looks until they realize it's quite rude and recover.
"Dude, we're staying there too! Let's all walk. Then I can take 30 minutes off treadmill today!" Archie waves his hand and beckons him to join them.
Jughead slowly saunters behind them as they chatter away, and Jughead observes that they know each other previously. Suddenly Betty turns around and pulls him by the arm, which makes him trip over his feet a little.
"Catch up, Jughar!"
"It's Jughead– but closer then last victim."
She laughs and her luminous green eyes sparkle against the sun.
"So, what do you like doing? Besides being some super good looking person, of course," Archie jokes, referencing what March had said before.
"Writing, reading... the average boy-nerd, eh?" He smirks. "Also, to make me a little cooler, I'm a huge fan of the Yankees, but have no interest in pretty much any other sport."
"Dude, no way! I'm a Yankee fan too!"
And so for the rest of they walk they discuss the managing of Joe Girardi and how Gary Sanchez missed about twenty of the incoming balls which many times results in the loss of their team. Surprisingly, Betty adds in a comment here and there but for the most part observes the two.
"We're here," Betty announces, cutting off a heated argument of whether catchers interference can be used as a ploy to get to first.
Once they finish checking in, the three of them step into the elevator and some quirky elevator music fills their ears.
"Archie, you should send in your music as an elevator entertainment replacement," Betty smirks.
"Ha ha ha. Funny one." Archie scoffs, but there's a smile playing at his lips.
Oh, how Jughead wishes he had some good friends.
His serpent 'friends' from his childhood were more like users. Everything is favors. I give you this, and you'll give me that, it'll be an exchange. Of course, that would be much simpler if the favors hadn't been to deal drugs or shoot traitors.
The elevator dings and Archie walks out on the second floor and waves at them just as the door closes.
Jughead stuffs his hands in his pocket and nods at him.
"I'll be on the fourth floor," Betty sticks her hand out and gently brushes his arm as she passes, and the dining of the elevator makes her jump momentarily.
Jughead doesn't even bother correcting her.
"Have you been reading into the case? I've done a ton of research, and The Shadows are really just taking it too far now. It's quite intriguing, actually, the lines of defense they've put as a barrier. It's seriously pathetic, in my opinion, and nothing lasting or good will come out of it. Only real idiots would do some of the things they do. Have you seen anything, read?" She doesn't pause to wait for an answer. "Well, you would see that it's idiosy at it's most ludicrous. I mean, one of their recruits is a former governer of Greendale. Loyalty you can trust, of course."
Jughead watched how animated she gets when she speaks about something she's passionate about. She waves her hands and widens her eyes, and when she remembers something her eyebrows rise up to her forehead and she once again dives into a detailed argument, mostly with herself.
Betty Cooper was something to look at.