Engagement: Day 43
‘Sam didn’t say anything when I mentioned I’d been writing to you. But I know he wanted to. Probably to tell me off about putting my mother in danger again. That or tell me I’m delusional since I keep writing to you like this. I keep holding out hope that maybe these letters are sitting in the post office, shoved into some disgruntled employee’s desk because he hates his boss, and that maybe you’ll get them all at once. Or that maybe there’s a reason you haven’t written me back, one that doesn’t mean you’ve given up on me.’
Bad Liar - Selena Gomez
“With my feelings on fire
Guess I'm a bad liar”
As she got off the elevator, Betty paused on her way to Kevin’s office. She knew Kevin had worked with Jughead for a few years now, but this was the first time she’d actually seen him at the precinct. Then again, this was the first time in four months that she’d been able to eat lunch away from her desk. From where she stood, she could see that Kevin wasn’t in his office. Jughead hadn’t noticed her yet. If she were quick about it, she could slip into Kevin’s office without being spotted.
With a deep breath, Betty walked up to Jughead’s desk. “Hi.”
His head shot up and he stared at her as if she’d grown a second head. “Hi.”
She bit her lip as a silence stretched between them. They hadn’t seen each other since last Thursday when they’d agreed to at least make an effort to be friends again, and this hadn’t been how Betty had imagined their first conversation going.
“It’s Wednesday,” she blurted out. When she realized what she’d said, she fought back a groan.
Jughead nodded and gave her a concerned look. “Has been all day.”
“I usually have lunch with Kevin when I can make it. On Wednesdays, I mean.”
It occurred to her how ridiculous she must seem, walking up to him during work hours and telling him her schedule unprompted. Heat rose to her cheeks and Betty gave him a tight smile before walking towards Kevin’s office. Once safely out of view, Betty dropped into a chair and cursed her inability to be anything but awkward. Hadn’t she long ago promised herself that she felt nothing for him anymore? That they could be friends again, or at the very least friendly acquaintances?
So why was she trying so hard for him to like her?
Engagement: Day 50
The next Wednesday, Betty walked into the station and refused to look anywhere but Kevin’s office. She was determined to avoid anyone with dark hair or leather jackets in an effort to keep her pride intact this week. With production ramping up on Archie’s play and Veronica focused on the latest corporate take-over it, it appeared that Wednesdays were the only days she’d come into contact with Jughead. This was a fact she studiously tried to avoid, especially when she remembered how badly it had gone last week.
Luck was not on her side, however, as the very person she had been trying to avoid was seated in Kevin’s office with no Kevin in sight.
Betty gave him a polite smile in lieu of a greeting. Jughead stood suddenly and offered her the chair.
“Hi,” he said. He looked startled at her sudden appearance and Betty found herself pleased that he was just as unsure as she was. “It’s already Wednesday?”
“Has been all day,” she said.
They stared at each other for a moment before Jughead fled the room, claiming there was a report he needed to file. Betty let out a whine and dropped into the chair. Was it really that strange to be around her?
“Jughead again?” Kevin asked.
Betty nodded and leaned her head against the wall. “Why do I even care what he thinks about me? What’s wrong with me?”
Kevin grinned. “Do you want the long list or the short list?”
Engagement: Day 77
Jughead had actively avoided her the next three Wednesdays, ducking out of the room the minute she stepped off the elevator. At first, it stung that he was so adamant to keep from being in the same room with him. But once Kevin had mentioned Jughead was more embarrassed than her about their unplanned meeting last week, Betty made a game of it to see how long it took him to notice her and disappear. Whatever it was he was feeling about their agreement to be friends had little bearing on her, especially since he continued to avoid her.
It wasn’t until the next week when Betty brought Kevin cupcakes for his birthday that Jughead finally sought her out. She glanced at him as he came into the kitchen and smiled before she plated another cupcake.
“It’s Wednesday,” he said from where he leaned against the counters.
“Sure is.” Betty transferred the last of the cupcakes and wiped her hands off on a paper towel.
“Lunch with Kevin?”
She nodded, wondering where he was going with this. When she looked at him he ran a hand through his hair and glanced away, a nervous tic she’d always found endearing. “Do you want one?” Betty offered. She held it out to him.
As he took it, he gave her a shy grin in return. “Thanks. You always did make the best desserts.” Jughead opened his mouth to say something else when Kevin walked in the room. Jughead straightened from his slouch against the wall and gave Kevin a nod before he stalked out of the kitchen, cupcake still in hand.
“What was that about?” Kevin asked once Jughead was out of earshot.
“Cupcakes,” Betty said with a brilliant smile, in a far better mood than she had been.
Engagement: Day 91
Two weeks later Betty had finally worked up the nerve to visit Jughead at his desk again. Despite her assumptions that his presence would remind her of his letters, instead it had worked up a type of emotional callous. The more she was exposed to him the more her anxiety about what to do around him lessened. Now she didn’t dread the idea of spending time with him; instead it was something she was starting to look forward to.
This time she’d come prepared with an olive branch: a Tupperware full of double chocolate chunk cookies tucked under her arm. They’d always been his favorite and Betty wasn’t above using food to continue the easy tone that had come up between them.
“What’s that?” he asked when she set them down on the corner of his desk.
“Cookies. For your birthday last week.”
He glanced up at her, surprised she’d remembered. “Thanks,” he said. The look on his face made her look away before she could blush. “Hey, Betty, do you -“
“Betty Cooper, right?” the woman from the party asked as she walked up. “I don’t think we’ve officially met. I’m Katherine Keene,” she said, her hand extended.
“Jughead’s partner, right?” Betty asked as she took her hand. She glanced at Jughead and noticed he was frowning.
“When he’s not so surly,” Katy said lightly. She perched on top of his desk between them and ran a hand through his hair before resting it on his shoulder. He scowled at her when she mussed his hair, but the intimacy of the action gave Betty pause. Jughead had never been one to let anyone touch him unless there was a level of trust that took years to build up. Her eyes lingered on Katy’s hand as her stomach began tightening up.
“Where’d you get those shoes? They’re darling,” Katy said, dragging her eyes over Betty’s thrift store dress and flats.
Betty shifted, knowing she looked out of place among the darkly dressed office. “Veronica gave them to me when they went out of season,” she admitted.
“Katy wouldn’t know what season it was unless it was snowing,” Kevin said from behind her. The woman in question made a face at him, but Betty had never been so grateful for his inability to keep to himself. “Come on or we’ll be waiting outside for an hour.”
Betty smiled at the pair in front of her, a matched set of dark tones that looked better suited in the pages of Vogue than a New York police station. Far better matched than the picture of sunshine and shadow she and Jughead had made.
“Nice to meet you,” Betty said as she followed Kevin towards the elevators.
Katy watched as Betty walked away with Kevin chattering on beside her. She’d met her twice now and she still couldn’t get a read on her. “She’s a bit,” Katy trailed off.
Jughead had never been one to talk openly about himself, especially when surrounded by his coworkers. And despite the years, he still found himself oddly protective of Betty. “Too nice?” He bit his tongue before he could throw out any of the other adjectives that had been hurled at her as insults.
“Jealous is what I was going for,” Katy said as she reached for the Tupperware.
He stared at her for a moment. “You’re insane.”
“And you’re blind, Jones. She’s been trying to talk to you for the past month and you keep running away with your tail between your legs like a third-grader with a crush. Not to mention she couldn’t keep her eyes off you. Or should I say she couldn’t keep her eyes off where my hand was.” Katy popped one of the cookies Betty had left into her mouth and hummed in pleasure at the taste. “God, can I marry this girl since you’re too much of a wuss to talk to her?”
“Don’t think your her type,” Jughead muttered. He swiped at the container but Katie held it out of his reach.
“She is yours though. So get off your punk ass and tell her you’re still in love with her.”
Jughead rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair. “That would go over about as well as the Hindenburg. ‘Hey, Betts. You know how I thought you hated me until a few weeks ago and have been avoiding seeing you for the last four years? Well, funny story, but I’ve actually been hopelessly in love with you since we were twelve and haven’t managed an adult relationship since I left.’ As if that doesn’t scream restraining order,” he scoffed.
Katy gave him a deadpan look, never one for his sarcasm. “You’re an idiot, Jones.”
“You’re the third person to tell me that today.”
“Then maybe it’s a sign. And you don’t deserve these.” She snatched the container off his desk, quicker than he could react. “Tell her or I will,” Katy said in a sing-song voice.
Jughead groaned and laid his head down on the desk. He wondered what ancient diety he’d pissed off to get a partner like her.
“Hey, it’s Betty. Again. It’s 2 a.m. and the twins are screaming. I don’t know if I’ve had a full night’s sleep since they were born. I just called to say I missed you. I watched Citizen Kane today. You’ll probably say I’m committing some sort of cinematic sin, but I feel asleep during it. All that for a sled? Anyways, call me back. Please. I love you.”