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Betty is kidding when she lightly comments that a man's stomach is the way to his heart as she hands Jughead a box of brownies she baked to see him smile.

She doesn't expect him not to start scarfing down the brownies, much less what he actually does, which is to stare steadily at her and telling her that she already got to his.

She feels her heart fluttering madly under his steady gaze, something she had only expected to really feel and only had felt with Archie and she does the only thing that comes into her head as the (ir)rational thing to do: she runs.

At least she doesn't actually run, she consoles herself later when she is breathing heavily in her room - she managed to get some excuse past her lips about having to clean up a kitchen (not that she does since it's already clean but Jughead doesn't need to know that) before possibly breaking a record for fastest exit from the Jones' house.

To his credit, he lets her go.

***

It’s something she can’t even write about in her diary or confide in her mother or Veronica, so all she has is her mind and her bed to think, to consider, to remember

He had always been there, had always seen her happy with Archie and crying because of Archie. He had been one of her childhood friends; they've played together, they've sat in class together, even worked on the school paper together. He was always there, just as she was, two people sometimes ignored by those they cared about the most (and in their case, it was the same person that was ignoring them). He was as steady as she was, predictable about the things they cared about; they understood each other somehow without many words - even with their friendship so understated Betty had no complaints.

She would have never thought he'd suggest or hint, even feel that he'd want more.

***

He doesn't say anything the next day when they see each other at a gathering to open Reggie's new business, though he has a box tucked under his arm.

She refuses to wonder if Juggie's eyes are on hers, that curious feeling that someone is watching you, and she tries her best to keep her eyes from straying to him. She succeeds by sheer effort.

This constant introspection, her efforts not to pay him her (confused, unsure) attention is remarked upon in more general terms by her other friends, all wondering if she is well. At that point she looks up and his eyes catch hers, worry and an emotion Betty never thought she would see in his eyes directed at her until last night, and it takes an embarrassedly long time to compose herself enough to smile at her friends, hoping it doesn't crack.

She decides to excuse herself soon afterwards, feeling her head hurt, and Reggie thanks her for coming with a brief worried look on his face before he is borne away by others, and she tries her best to slip out. She wanders around a while – Riverdale is safe, at least the part both she and Reggie live in – but she can no more find any answers looking at the stars than from across a room from the one who had given her questions she had never expected to ask.

When she gets home there is a box on the table for her, dropped off by Jughead about ten minutes ago, her father says. Realizing this was the box he had brought with him to the gathering earlier, she curiously opened it, only to be overwhelmed with the chocolate-y smell of brownies. She gingerly took a bite and marveled at how moist it was, so much better than the brownies she has given him.

Her thoughts were halted. Had Juggie made these? She racked her brain to think if he had ever given anyone his home-cooked food if not for a benefit or contest but came up empty. She doubted even Archie would have been given any, given how private Jughead was about his own cooking skills and preferring usually to sample others' efforts.

She noted a piece of paper taped to the box's inside cover.

'Betty, I meant what I said. No pressure.-Jughead'

She blushed. She would have a lot to think about tonight, not least the possibility of someone who had been there with her all along versus someone she'd been chasing for almost all her life and didn't seem to be any closer to getting.

The brownies were lovely.