Chapter 1: Guess I'm A Bad Liar
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.”
Chapter 2: Coffee and Time
Engagement: Day 105
“Betty, my dear, it’s almost seven. Why are you still here?” Tomoko asked, her voice cutting through Betty’s train of thought.
Unsure of her meaning, Betty glanced up at her boss. “I’ve got another three writing samples to get through. I’ll have the top five on your desk before eight.
Tomoko tsked and leaned against the cubicle wall. “You’re young, hot, and single. This is how you spend Friday night? Reading through writing samples of interns who weren’t even born when Silence of the Lambs was published. What did they do to you at that newspaper?” Betty flushed and made another small mark on the page in front of her. “Seriously. It’s six forty-five. Why are you still here?”
Betty sighed and leaned back in her chair. She fiddled with her pen as she debated whether or not to admit that she was trying to avoid another night alone in her apartment. Veronica had been too caught up with a major lawsuit against Lodge Corporations and Kevin had found a boyfriend. Meanwhile, Archie had been non-existent now that his play was opening in a month, and it was still too early for her to feel comfortable with calling up Jughead without anyone else to break up the awkwardness between them. Tomoko raised an expectant eyebrow and Betty shrugged.
“I hate to leave a project unfinished. Especially with the interviews coming up next week. And I don’t have plans tonight so it’s really not a problem for me to stay late.”
“Look, Betty. You’re the hardest worker around here. And that includes me. But I still don’t get why you’d want to spend an extra minute in this hell-hole when you could be out there living your life. Now you have two minutes to get out of here before I make you take three days of paid vacation next week so you can go be a normal, irresponsible twenty-something,” Tomoko threatened.
“What?” Betty stared at her, startled. This was the first time anyone had tried to dissuade her from working late. At every job she’d had, they’d actively encouraged her work habits, heaping more and more on her when they got a chance.
“Ninety-nine, ninety-eight, ninety seven,” Tomoko counted down with a smile. “Come on Cooper, I need you bright-eyed and bushy tailed on Monday.” She stepped forward and shut down Betty’s monitor.
It didn’t take long for Betty to shove all of her personal effects into her purse, her phone already out and a text half sent by the time she left her cubicle. “See you on Monday,” she chirped as she jogged towards the elevator.
Tomoko smiled after the young woman. Reggie had been right for once. She did owe him big for sending Betty Cooper her way. That still didn’t mean she’d let him off the hook for sticking googly eyes all of her photos in college.
Engagement: Day 108
Wedding Countdown: Day 50
The entrance of a rowdy group in costumes pulled Betty’s attention away from the manuscript she’d been forcing her way through for the better half of an hour. She’d managed to grab a table at the coffee shop a few blocks from work and had been there for the better part of three hours. Now that it was nearing seven the shop was nearly deserted save for the occasional group loading up on caffeine in preparation for a late night. She’d already seen enough Halloween costumes that the groups’ Cabaret themed costumes didn’t faze her.
What did grab her attention was the pair of men that walked in after the rowdy group, one a stocky brunet and the other a far more familiar face. Her eyes met Jughead’s for a moment and confusion flashed across his face before recognition set in. The man he’d come in with caught the exchange and said something that made Jughead scowl. The brunet sent her a wink and shoved Jughead her way.
To her delight, Jughead kept his course towards her. “Hey, you,” he said with a shy smile. Betty glanced over his shoulder to the man he’d come in with and found him watching them shamelessly. “Harvey Kinkle. Guy from work.”
“He seems fun,” Betty said.
Jughead turned and Harvey tapped at his wrist where a watch would be. “He could be worse. His girlfriend works here so we get a discount.” He nodded to the platinum blonde girl behind the counter. Betty watched as they shamelessly flirted. When they kissed, Jughead rolled his eyes. “Pretty sure they’ve broken at least three health codes by now.”
“I think it’s cute. Have they been dating long?”
“Since high school,” he said. Betty fought the beginnings of a frown and Jughead ran a hand through his hair. He glanced at the stack of paperwork in front of her. “What are you up to?”
“Just finishing up some stuff,” Betty said with a shrug, not able to meet his eye.
“Jones. Black coffee, three shots of espresso,” Harvey said as he walked up to the table. Jughead took it with a thanks. Before he had a chance to introduce them, the man held out a hand that was almost as big as her laptop. “Harvey Kinkle. Let me offer you my deepest apologies for anything this man might have said or implied. Or, knowing him, anything he should have said or implied.”
“Relax, Harv. We’re old friends,” Jughead said. He rolled his eyes and Betty bit down a laugh as she shook Harvey’s hand.
“Betty Cooper. No Katy tonight?”
Jughead’s brows furrowed together at the question. Before he had a chance to speak, Harvey answered for him. “She’s meeting us later. Things are crazy downtown already, you would not believe the pictures Espinoza’s sent me already.” He pulled his phone out and began to scroll through it.
“They pulled us in for the overnight shift,” Jughead told her. “We’re going to be late, Harv. See you around, Betts.”
It wasn't the first time he'd used the nickname since they'd reconciled, but for some reason it made her smile. His face softened and he looked at her longer than usual, his face softening.
“Nice to meet you,” Harvey said, still scrolling through his phone and oblivious to the exchange in front of him. "You too," Betty said as they left.
Not even ten minutes later, Sabrina came by her table with a refill. “On the house,” she said with a wink as she leaned on the table next to Betty. “So, what did you think of Jug? Cute right? I’d totally go for him if I wasn’t so taken with Harvey.”
Betty’s mouth dropped and she had to fight back the sudden urge to laugh at the odd situation. Never in a million years did she think a complete stranger would be talking up Jughead to her. “We’ve met,” she said, unable to hide the humor in her voice.
“Well, if you want to know more, let me know,” Sabrina said with a wink.
Another stream of customers entered the store and Sabrina returned to the cash register. Betty shook her head and reached for her phone, eager to share the odd turn of events with Kevin.
Sorry for the delay in updates, but wow these two donuts want to make up way too quickly. I have an outline damnit!
We Were Happy Once - Anna Marina
“Today I caught a glimpse
Of you around the corner
I saw something I'd forgotten“
Wedding Countdown: Day 42
When Reggie texted Betty for dinner, she’d been hesitant to respond. But when his follow up text came through - ‘as friends, BROTP MANTLE AND COOPER RIDE AGAIN’ - she laughed and readily agreed. They’d gotten close in high school in their senior year and she still genuinely enjoyed hanging out with him despite his more trollish tendencies. To her surprise he’d taken her out dancing first at a hole in the wall club where the swing music was too loud and the dance floor too crowded, but she couldn’t remember a time in the last year when she’d had as much fun.
Two hours later and they were in a deli with barely enough seating for the two of them. It was tucked away from the main streets and free of the tourists that usually crowded the counter at this time of night. But as usual, Reggie had an in at the diner and a table was cleared off for them after they’d ordered.
“So, needlenose ever make his move?” Reggie asked through a mouthful of salami and ham.
“What?” Betty frowned, unsure of what he meant.
Reggie rolled his eyes and swallowed. “Come on, Cooper. You can’t deny he doesn’t still have a thing for you. Whatever happened to you two anyways? I always figured you’d end up in Riverdale with the requisite 2.5 kids and the soppy love story.”
Betty shrugged and picked at her sandwich. As nice as it was to spend time with Reggie, she didn’t feel comfortable explaining everything that had gone wrong between them. “We just didn’t work out.”
He nodded. “Long distance sucks. Weirdo’s still pining after you though.”
Betty glanced up, curious about what he meant. “Pining?”
Instead of answer, Reggie let out a loud laugh that drew irate stares from the older couple behind him. “You really can’t see it? I swear, he’s been holding onto a torch for you for years. I tried setting him up when he moved out here, do him a solid, but he only went out on one date and that’s because I dragged him to the bar with me. For a while there I thought he was, you know.” Reggie made a see-saw motion with his hand and Betty rolled her eyes at his immaturity. “I mean, the girl was nice enough, one hundred-percent into him, but he barely even looked at her all night. And she was banging, a rack like you wouldn’t believe.”
Betty shifted in her seat, still uncomfortable with the frat-boy side of Reggie. Normally she’d have told him off, but this time her curiosity got the better of her. To his credit, Reggie shifted gears when he realized her discomfort.
“I just meant he doesn’t ever seem to be interested in anyone.”
“Why are you telling me this?” she asked after a few moments of silence.
Reggie shrugged and stretched his arms out on the booth behind him. “Dunno. Just feels like something you should know.”
“I’m going to the restroom,” Betty said suddenly. She felt a desperate need to be alone, to process what his words would mean. There was a flicker of hope rising in her chest and she tamped it down, not wanting to think about what it might mean if he still liked her. If she still liked him.
On her way back to the table, Betty caught sight of a dark-haired man in an old leather jacket making his way out of the deli. Her heart jumped into her throat and Reggie’s words came rushing back at her. A moment later, logic caught up to her; in a city of almost 12 million people it was practically impossible for Jughead Jones to be here. Sure they’d bumped into each other a few times at the grocery store and the library, but this was thirty blocks away from where either of them lived.
Thankfully, when she returned to the table all talk of Jughead Jones and pining was dropped in favor of an argument about whether there really were alligators living in the sewers beneath them.
When Reggie dropped her off at her apartment a few hours later something shifted between them. The closer they’d gotten to her apartment, the quieter Reggie had gotten. His fingers drummed an erratic beat against the steering wheel and Betty tensed when he shut off the engine.
“I haven’t been completely honest with you, Betty.” He slid his hands along the steering wheel and stared at the building in front of them. “I wanted to talk to you about something.”
Betty’s hand tightened on the door handle and she held her breath, praying that whatever it was he wanted to talk about didn’t involve her.
“I think I’m in love with Polly.”
The tension left her shoulders and Betty relaxed against the seat. “Have you talked to her?”
He shook his head. “I know I need to. It’s just.” Reggie stopped and ran a hand through his hair, ruining the style she knew he’d spent at least an hour on. It struck her that this was the first time she’d seen him nervous about anything. “Does she ever talk about me?”
“I know she likes having you around. But she and I don’t really talk about those things anymore. Cheryl would know better.”
“Do you think I’m betraying Jason?” he asked suddenly. He turned to her, his eyes searching as if he wanted her approval. “Do you think he’d be okay with me asking her out?”
Betty laid a hand on his arm and gave him a gentle smile. “It’s been almost ten years, Reg. He was your best friend. I think he’d want you both to be happy. Even if he wouldn’t be, it doesn’t matter what he thinks. Polly makes her own decisions. The only thing you have to ask is if you’re okay with it?”
Reggie nodded, still looking lost, and her heart went out to him. She knew full well the complexity and anxiety involved in not knowing what step to take next. Or if a step should even be taken. “You won’t know unless you ask her.”
“Right. You’re right,” he muttered. Lost in his thoughts, he barely registered that Betty had stepped out onto the curb. “Thanks, Betty.”
“Anytime, Reg,” she said as she shut the door behind her.
Wow, it helps if you actually post the chapter instead of saving it to your drafts. Oops.
Chapter 4: Litttle Talks
Wedding Countdown: Day 42
‘Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to see you again. I have this image of me walking into the diner down the road and you’ll be there, a bright and happy spot against the dull greys and browns.’
We Were Happy Once - Anna Marina
“Sometimes I play a game
To see if I still love you
Pretend we never met
And I know nothing of you “
The last thing Jughead expected when he went into his regular deli was to see Betty Cooper. They’d been running into each other more lately, their habits still hauntingly similar to when they teenagers. Those meetings were often brief, one or both of them pressed for time, and he’d begun to look for her more often. This time it didn’t appear that Betty noticed him as she slipped away from the table towards the back.
When he lost sight of her he could breathe again. He kept an eye towards the back while he paid for his order. As he waited at the counter, wondering if he should wait for her to return, Reggie’s voice called out to him.
“Speak of the devil and he shall appear,” Reggie said. He lifted two fingers and saluted Jughead. “What brings you around these parts, Ichadbod?”
Jughead ground his teeth together; it seemed Reggie still hadn’t outgrown the ridiculous nicknames. “Reggie,” he said. He glanced back where Betty had left. Judging by the grin on Reggie’s face, that had been a bad decision.
“Cooper and I just got back from our date,” Reggie said. He smacked the ’t’ out of his mouth obnoxiously and Jughead barely kept from scoffing. Noticing his abrupt change in mood, Reggie leaned forward on the table and smirked. “What’s it to you, Forsythe? Jealous?”
Jughead swallowed back his anger at the word. Yes he was, in fact, jealous that he could barely be in the same room with Betty while someone like Reggie was able to easily spend a night out with her. It certainly wasn’t Reggie’s fault that they’d ended up the way they had, but Reggie certainly wasn’t helping Jughead parse out what to do about the situation. Betty was a single, grown woman more than capable of making her own decisions.
“Just, don’t hurt her,” Jughead said with a sigh. He ran a hand through his hair and stared at the counter.
Reggie smirked and leaned back against the booth, still the smug bastard he was in high school. “And if I did?”
Jughead narrowed his eyes at him, his fist clenching at the thought. “Just,” he paused and sighed. This was Reggie, the man who lived to irritate him. Yet not once had he ever done anything to Betty in their years growing up together. If anything, this was Reggie putting on a show for some reason. “Just, don’t. She doesn’t deserve that,” Jughead said.
He grabbed his order and stalked out of the restaurant before he did anything stupid. He tossed the takeout bag in Katy's lap when he got into the car waiting outside.
Thankfully, she knew better than to ask what had happened. "Where's yours?"
Jughead slouched into the seat, his shoulders hunched. "Lost my appetite," he muttered as he pulled into traffic.
Wedding Countdown: Day 36
“So, how big of an asshole was my brother when you two met? Again,” J.B. asked. She’d pulled herself up onto the counter in the kitchenette at the office and watched as Betty made another pot of coffee.
Betty shrugged as she rinsed out the pot. As happy as she was that J.B. had been hired part-time she hadn’t realized just how nosy she’d be about her personal life. “I wouldn’t say he was an asshole.”
“Come on, Betty,” J.B. whined. “I do speak to Archie on a regular basis. And Veronica. And on the bad days I have to talk to my brother.”
She made a face and Betty laughed at her childishness. The more time she spent with J.B., the more it struck her how different the two siblings were. Despite looking so similar, Jughead’s personality was almost the complete opposite of his sister’s. Where he was reserved and patient to a fault, J.B. was open and reckless with her words and actions. Both, however, were often blunt bordering on insensitive when it came to their curiosity. Especially if it had anything to do with the other’s personal life.
“I wasn’t much better,” Betty finally admitted. “We were both acting a bit like jerks. I’m surprised he doesn’t hate me with how I acted.”
Next to her J.B. Snorted. “He couldn't hate you if he tried. I think he’d spontaneously combust if he did. Hey, did you listen to that playlist I sent you? I still can’t believe the Madhouse Glads has a new singer. Again.”
Betty was barely listening to J.B., her mind still stuck on what she’d said about Jughead. She knew she’d held onto her anger far longer than he had; that had been apparent from their actions at the first few engagement parties. But he’d seemed to have forgiven her long ago, only letting his anger get the worst of him when he felt he was being wrongly accused of something. While J.B. ranted on about the changes to the indie-circuit band, Betty nodded politely as she tried not to read too heavily into her words. First Reggie, now J.B. But it didn’t matter now that Jughead was dating Katy.
“Hey, earth to Betty?” J.B. waved a hand in front of her face and Betty blinked.
“Sorry, lost in thought,” Betty said with an apologetic smile.
“Thinking about what you’re getting me for my birthday? We’re having a thing this weekend at the apartment. If you wanted to come,” J.B. said. “You’d probably have to hang out with Lord Byron unless you wanted to hang out with my friends. Archie’s being dragged off for ‘wedding plans,’ so I know Jug wouldn’t mind to have another adult there.”
“I’d love to,” Betty said, her mouth moving quicker than her brain could process. “Just tell me when and where.”
Wedding Countdown: 35
October 2: Text
’Happy birthday, Jug! I hope its better than last year’s. Things are still tense here, my parents are still crazy. Cheryl convinced Polly to move into an apartment with her. Fred was released from the hospital yesterday. Archie misses you. I think he’s lost without you sometimes.
Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men
There's an old voice in my head
That's holding me back
Well tell her that I miss our little talks
“J.B. invited me to her birthday party on Saturday,” Betty said when she met Archie for lunch the next day. “I said yes, but I’m not sure if I’d be welcome.”
Archie looked up at her from his salad, his expression indecipherable. After a moment, Betty dropped her gaze to the table and fiddled with a fork.
“Jughead and I are just starting to get used to being around each other again, and I don’t want to upset that. What if he doesn’t even want me there?”
Archie opened his mouth a few times to speak, but each time he seemed to think better of it. At his indecision, Betty pressed on.
“It really wouldn’t be a problem for me to skip it. I’ll see her on work on Monday.”
Archie shook his head and put his hand on hers to stop her from rearranging her silverware again. “I think it would be good if you went. I know it’s been weird for the two of you, but I know he misses you. Besides, it would help me out if Veronica wasn’t always worrying about whether you two are actually getting along.”
Betty nodded as a sense of relief flooded through her. On the surface she’d known she was overanalyzing things, but it was still comforting to hear Archie’s opinion on things. The rest of their lunch was spent talking about wedding preparations, mostly with how to get Veronica out of demanding that everything be perfect.
Chapter 5: Hollow Heart
Straight up, if you haven’t seen the Season 2 trailer, why are you here? Go watch that. OMG I am so psyched for this ridiculous gothic drama. (Group hugs all around! Hal in the background, looking utterly confused as to why he’s at the hospital. Will we see the friendships blossom, or unnecessary core four drama? Yay more Pop Tate. Cheryl, what did you doooo????)
“She tried to be calm, and leave things to take their course; and tried to dwell much on this argument of rational dependence- 'Surely, if there be constant attachment on each side, our hearts must understand each other ere long.” Chapter 22, Persuasion
Wedding Countdown: Day 33
“So, what’s this I hear about you going to Jughead’s apartment tomorrow?” Kevin asked when she steeped into his office on Friday.
“Please, Kev. You’re making it sound more scandalous than it really is. His sister invited me to a party is all.”
“A birthday party? ‘cause that went real well the last time you two went to one together,” he pointed out.
Betty rolled her eyes and sat down in the chair across from him. “I doubt Cheryl and Chuck will crash this one. Besides, Jughead and I have been getting along so far. I’ll just show up, say happy birthday, stay for an hour, then leave. What can happen in an hour?”
Kevin raised his eyebrows. “Do I need to remind you about the kegger Veronica dragged us to in college? Worst hour of my life.” He paused and stared at her for a moment. “Are you still stuck on him? It feels like you’re still stuck on him. Oh my god, you’re still stuck on Jughead Jones.”
Betty shushed him loudly and glanced through the open door beside her to see if anyone was listening. A few of the people closest to his office sent her curious looks, but she closed the door on them. “I might still be stuck on him,” she admitted. Kevin gasped, scandalized, and Betty picked at her cardigan. “Even if I am, it doesn’t matter. He and Katy have been together five years, it’s not -“
“Wait, wait. I’m sorry.” Kevin held up a hand and Betty glanced up at him. His mouth twitched into a smile. “You think Jughead. And Katy. Are dating?”
“Aren’t they? They go to everything together. He’s always talking about her. She’s always touching him and, well just look at her. Why wouldn’t he want to date her?”
Kevin snorted and jumped up from his chair. “That’s it. We’re having lunch with them today.”
“What? I can’t, I have to be back at work,” Betty argued. The last thing she wanted was to spend time watching Katy relentlessly flirt with a man she was, as Kevin put it, still stuck on.
“Trust me, you’ll thank me for this later,” he said as he pulled his jacket on. Before she could protest, Kevin was out the door and standing in front of Katy’s desk. He said something to her that drew out a surprised laugh.
Certain this was a bad idea, Betty made her way over to Katy’s desk. With a smile that would have looked natural on a shark, Katy leaned back in her chair and turned her head to Jughead. “We’re going to lunch, darling.”
Betty sent a glare at Kevin that went wholly ignored. Why he thought this was a good idea was beyond her.
“Have fun,” Jughead said, never looking from his paperwork.
Katy’s smile flipped into a frown. “We includes you, Jones,” she said. When he didn’t move she kicked the corner of his desk.
His head shot up and he scowled at her. The moment he saw Betty, though, his scowl dropped and confusion took it’s place. “Hey.” Jughead glanced between Katy and Betty. “It’s Friday,” he said, though it came out as more of a question.
“We’re going to lunch,” Katy repeated. She made a gesture that include all four of them.
Jughead caught Betty’s eye and she lifted an eyebrow and cast a glance at Kevin. In response, Jughead lifted his eyes to the ceiling and cut a look towards Katy.
“Quit that,” Kevin said.
Betty blinked and looked at him. “Quit what?”
“The eye conversation thing. It’s like we’re back in high school and you two are about to solve a murder. Again. Now can we go?”
“So, how’s the new job going?” Katy asked as Jughead left to pay the bill. She slipped around the both to sit by Betty, trapping the blonde between her and Kevin, and threw her arm on the booth behind them.
Try as she might, Betty couldn’t find it in herself to dislike the woman. Katy was intelligent, well-spoken, and seemed to genuinely care for her friends. Before Betty could answer, though, Kevin leaned forward. “Betty thinks you and Jughead are dating.”
Katy’s jaw dropped and for a moment she was too shocked to move. Her whole body began to shake with laughter and she shook her head. “Me and Jug? God no. Trust me, hun. Not my type.”
Betty sent a glare at Kevin, her face flushed red. He only grinned at her and stirred his drink with a straw. “No, Katy’s more of what you’d call someone who has no trouble paying her share.”
“I do pay my own way,” Katy said with a nod.
“But Jughead took the check,” Betty said. She glanced to where Jughead was standing at the til.
Katy snorted. “No, I mean that I’m an evening girl, fond of the twilight hours.”
Betty frowned. “There’s nothing wrong with that. Weren’t you on the night shift?”
This time, Katy and Kevin both stifled their laughter. “I was. I am also a confirmed bacholerette, one who prefers slacks.”
Betty slide a look to Kevin, who seemed entirely too amused by the conversation.
“Harold, they’re lesbians,” Jughead said as he returned to the table.
Katy pouted at him. “I still had at least another 8 euphemisms to go.”
Next to her, Betty flushed. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize -“ Katy laughed and waved away her apology.
“It helps if you ignore her. She can’t stand it,” Jughead suggested. He picked up the rest of his coffee and downed it.
Katy stuck her tongue out at him and slipped out of the booth. “You’re one to talk. Last time I ignored you my phone damn near blew up about some girl at a bar.”
Jughead scowled at her as a flush crawled across his skin. He followed her out of the restaurant as Betty and Kevin trailed behind.
“See, nothing to worry about,” Kevin whispered. He squeezed her hand.
“I’m fine, Kev,” she told him.
Really, she was. After all, it had been seven years. Yes, she was still attracted to him. But they were both free to date whoever they wanted. And if it was going to happen between them, it would.
Wedding Countdown: Day 32
Rita Mae Young - The Record Company
“Good morning, Rita, hope you're doing right
I couldn't give you what you wanted, but you stayed on my mind
Got a tired heart, and it's been too long”
Betty paused in the open doorway, hands full of tupperware and a wrapped book under one arm. Apparently J.B.’s idea of a small get together was the same as Cheryl’s; there were at least fifteen people in the small living room alone. They ranged from fresh out of high school to just graduating from college and Betty suddenly felt old in comparison. An overzealous pair almost took her out as they ran through the apartment, but they were gone before Betty could catch her balance. The kitchen was the only room that was quiet, devoid of any sign of life save for one tall, dark headed man at the stove.
Jughead shifted and Betty had to bite her lip to keep from laughing at the ridiculous Hello Kitty apron he was wearing. That had J.B. written all over it. She made her way into the kitchen, the tupperware and book long ago abandoned to a table in the living room.
“Need some help?” Betty offered.
Jughead started and spun around to look at her. He didn’t seem to do much more than stare at her, his mouth open as if she were a specter. Betty shifted, already planning an excuse to leave, but Jughead nodded.
He pointed behind her with the spatula. “The potatoes in the fridge need to be washed and cut. If you don’t mind.”
Betty rolled up her sleeves and went to work. There was a kind of peace working in the kitchen alongside Jughead, the silence punctuated by an occasional laugh or scream of delight.
“J.B. didn’t mention she’d invited you,” Jughead said after a time. “I’m glad she did, though.”
“I am too.” Betty snuck a glance over at Jughead and found a smile that hadn’t been there before. “I didn’t realize you cooked.”
Jughead shrugged, his concentration still on the pans in front of him as he moved the food onto the plates next to him. “Had to learn after Mom got sick.”
With a start, Betty realized just how little she knew about him. He’d mentioned in his letters that his mother hadn’t been doing well, but that had been years ago. Since then, she’d allowed herself to believe that it was easier on everyone’s existence that he didn’t exist. Now, though, she realized that had more to do with her own insecurities and the sting rejection had on her. And somehow, that realization struck her harder than it should have.
Before she could delve deeper, Jughead began talking again. “Thanks. For taking care of J.B. at work,” he said. He glanced over at her.
Betty gave him a soft smile and brought half of the cut potatoes over to him. “It’s really no trouble. She’s grown up to be a wonderful woman.”
“Still can’t figure out how we’re related,” he joked.
Jughead glanced at her, his smile a mirror to hers, and Betty felt something shift between them. Almost as if they were back to the start, back to when they were still kids who shared secrets and threw frogs at one another.
The moment was broken when a pack of J.B.’s filed into the kitchen, drawn by the smell of burgers and half cooked fries, and for the next hour they were caught up in feeding the wild bunch.
It wasn’t until Betty was about to leave that she managed to find a moment alone with Jughead again. He walked her to the door of the apartment and his eyes glanced between Betty and the room. When she turned to face him, he shoved his hands into his back pockets. “Do you think,” he paused, uncertain about something.
“I won’t bite, Jughead. I promise,” Betty said with a laugh.
He grinned at that. “Do you mind keeping an eye on J.B. Ever since mom died, she hasn’t had a lot of positive female influence.”
“I didn’t know your mom passed. I’m sorry to hear that.” She reached out an touched his arm lightly. Though she was curious, she didn’t pry. Jughead’s family was still a closed topic to most people, and Betty wasn’t sure whether questions would be appropriate.
“It’s been a while,” he said, his tone a clear sign the topic was finished.
“What about Katy?”
He shrugged. “I love her but she’s not the best influence on anyone. When she found out J.B.’s first boyfriend broke up with her, Katy’s first question was what his address was so she could go slash his tires.”
“Sure, I’d love to,” Betty said.
A corner of Jughead’s lips turned up into a lop-sided smile. “Thanks, Betts. I really do appreciate it.” He paused and cleared his throat. “And, if you wanted there’s a thing on Friday -“
Whatever Jughead was about to say was cut off as something cold and sticky landed on Betty back. Her eyes went wide and her entire body shuddered at the feel of something dripping down her back. A mumbled squeak of apology came from behind her and someone darted out the front door.
Not wasting a moment, Jughead ushered her to the bathroom down the hallway and returned a few moments later with a towel and clean shirt. She took both from him with a quick ‘thank you,’ and shut the door behind her. Betty stripped the shirt off quickly and wiped the liquid off of her back the best she could. When she reached for the shirt Jughead had given her, she almost dropped it in shock. It was one of his old, now threadbare, ’S’ shirts from highschool.
“You alright in there, Sunshine?” he asked from the other side of the door.
Betty’s heart fluttered at his use of the old nickname, one he hadn’t used since they were children. “I’m fine,” she called out once she’d calmed down. She quickly slipped the shirt over her head and tried not to think about how his clothes still smelled like he had in high school. “Just fine,” she said as she opened the door.
“Sorry about that. Some of J.B.’s friends can be a little wild,” Jughead said. He rubbed at the back of his neck.
“It’s just a shirt, no harm done,” Betty said as she stood there. She held the towel out to Jughead and watched as he took it. “I should probably head out now.”
He nodded and walked her back to the door, this time both on the lookout for anyone else. She was halfway down the hall when he called out her name. Betty turned and found him half out the doorway. Her heart began beating faster and she half-hoped that he’d come after her and ask her to stay.
“There’s a thing at the movie theatre on Wednesday. Cary Grant movie marathon,” he said. He looked at her with some strange mixture of hope and fear
At the hopeful note in his voice, the butterflies in Betty’s stomach came back in full force and a smile stretched its way onto her face. Something about the fact that he’d remembered her factor actor from the golden age of Hollywood, that she was standing in the hallway to his apartment in his shirt like a bad rom-com made her feel like she was a teenager all over again. Until that part of her that was becoming more and more like her mother reminded her she had other plans.
“I’d love to, Jug, but Veronica’s got us booked for a fitting,” she said. Both their faces fell and she hated to be the one to put that look on his face.
“Another time, maybe?”
Wow, things have gone drastically different from the original draft. Much happier version though. Downhill from here, just have to tighten up the next chapter. Wish me luck on getting that out before the end of today
Chapter 6: Still (Into You)
Wedding Countdown: Day 26
The next Saturday, Veronica took it upon herself to celebrate Betty’s new job, along with last minute wedding plans. When Betty had agreed to a late lunch, she hadn’t realized that Veronica would be late herself, leaving Betty, Jughead, and Archie alone at the restaurant for almost thirty minutes. The conversation came between them easily enough, but it was hard to ignore the curious looks that Archie gave them when Jughead returned her shirt to her.
It wasn’t until Veronica swooped in thirty minutes later, an exasperated Kevin following close behind, that Betty finally realized what today was: Veronica’s attempt to see if Betty and Jughead would be able to get along well enough by the time the wedding came around.
“You wouldn’t believe how much of an absolute disaster today has been already,” Veronica said as she sat in the booth next to Archie and pressed a kiss to his cheek. “First the caterer’s canceled for the rehearsal dinner. Then the florist calls and tries to tell me the flowers are going to cost twice as much as the quoted price, something about a strike in Columbia of all places. Then the dry cleaners practically ruined half of the dresses I’d sent them, some new hire who didn’t know the difference between steam press and low heat. Not to mention how much the quality there has slipped. Wire hangers if you can believe it,” Veronica said.
“No more wire hangers,” Jughead muttered when Veronica finally took a breath.
Betty snorted and hide her smile with her coffee cup. “Christina, bring the axe,” she said.
Jughead’s head shot up and he stared at her for a moment. They both grinned and did their best to ignore Veronica’s and Kevin’s confused stare.
“So, V. What about the flowers?” Betty asked.
Veronica rolled her eyes and went into another rant about how hard it was to plan one’s own wedding.
“So, how did you and Katy meet?” Betty asked once the conversation between Veronica and Kevin had turned into an argument about the pros and cons of using Josh Blackheart as a photographer for the wedding. Archie had long since left after a disastrous phone call from props.
Jughead shrugged and picked at the last of his burger. “You know how Veronica blew into Riverdale like a tornado and never left?”
Betty nodded, well aware of how explosive her friends’ sudden appearance had been. “It was a lot like that. Katy decided I was her partner in training and ever since then she’d refused to leave me alone.”
“Is she that bad?”
He chuckled and shook his head. “Not at all. Probably the best partner I could have had. Pulls my head out of my ass when I really need. And lately I’ve been needing it more than usual,” he said with a glance at her.
Something stirred in Betty’s stomach the longer she stared at Jughead. Thankfully, the moment was interrupted by Archie’s sudden return, and Betty was drawn back into Veronica’s list of concerns about the caterers. Unable to help herself, Betty kept an ear on Kevin and Jughead’s conversation.
“I still can’t believe Frankie and Trula broke up,” Kevin said. His face fell as he picked at his food, and Betty almost believed it had been his relationship that ended.
Across from him, Jughead scoffed. The little she knew through Kevin’s gossip was that their coworker, Frankie, had begun a whirlwind relationship with a waitress down the road, shortly after the woman he was engaged to died in a hit-and-run accident. The story had seemed tragic to Betty, but Kevin had fully invested himself in their story.
“What?” Kevin’s question was more like a challenge.
“Didn’t you think it was odd how quickly Frankie moved on after Maria’s death?”
Veronica mentioned something about meat free options, and Betty nodded absently, still caught on the conversation next to them.
Kevin shrugged. “So he moved on, what’s so surprising about that?”
Jughead leaned on the table between them, his eyes narrowed at Kevin’s question. “If you love somebody, really love somebody, you don’t just forget about them that quickly. You can’t throw away their memory like that,” he said with a scowl.
“No one’s saying he forgot her. And you can’t expect him to be in mourning forever.”
Veronica’s question about desert options pulled Betty away from the conversation, and Jughead’s answer was lost to her.
Still Into You - Paramore
“I should be over all the butterflies but I'm into you, I'm into you
And even baby our worst nights
I'm into you, I'm into you”
Four hours and three bars later, the group’s late lunch finally comes to a close as Veronica steers them back home.
“The subway? At this time of night?” Kevin lip curled at the thought. “Do you know how many robberies occur in this neighborhood during the day?”
Veronica smirked and slapped his arm. “C’mon Kev. Where’s your sense of adventure?” Archie laughed and clapped him on the shoulder as he brushed by, more than a little inebriated.
Kevin rolled his eyes and followed after the pair. “Excuse the hell out of me if I don’t want to be the next body in the river. Did you know they pulled up 300 bodies from the Hudson last year?”
“Nothing will happen, Kev,” Betty said. She slipped her arm through his and leaned into his side. “Besides, we have Veronica to protect us.”
Archie glanced back at them, a hurt look on his face. “What about me?”
“No offense, Arch, but between the two of you I’d put money on Veronica,” Jughead called out from behind them. Betty turned and found him ambling along behind them, his hands shoved deep into his pockets. “Have you seen her at a Macy’s day sale?”
Betty giggled, and Kevin shot her a look. She beamed up at him, happy to be with her friends again. “How many did you have again?” Kevin teased.
“Hush.” Try as she might, Betty couldn’t keep a stern face with one of her oldest friends. “I only had the one glass of champagne Veronica decided we all had to have.”
“And the glass of wine,” Kevin reminded her.
“You’re the one who split a half bottle with Veronica,” Betty shot back.
“I’m not drunk, you’re just blurry,” they both said at the same time. The pair dissolved into a fit of giggles as the group turned down the steps into the subway.
“You’re both drunk,” Jughead said as he caught up with them at the turnstile.
“I am not,” Betty said. She turned around and stuck her tongue out at him and he smiled at her ridiculous demeanor. When she missed a step, Betty straightened her posture and kept her eyes on her feet. “Tipsy, yes. Drunk, no. I thought they taught you the difference at cop school.”
Jughead chuckled and took it upon himself to guide her down the steps after the rest of the group. When she stumbled again, he placed a hand on the small of her back, the heat of it burning its way up her neck. Thankfully she’d worn her hair down today so he couldn’t see the effect he still had on her.
The unexpected gesture made her long for his touch again, and Betty stopped on the platform at the realization. Instead of pressing her forward to the rest of their group, he moved past her, his eyebrows raised in a question. Betty reached out and grabbed the lapel of his jacket, her impulse control nonexistent. Jughead didn’t move away from her like she’d feared, and she chanced a glance up at him. If anything he looked amused, and Betty took a step closer.
“I miss you. I miss this,” she murmured. She played with the zipper on his jacket as a blush spread across her cheeks at the admission.
Jughead gave her that soft smile, the one she remembered that he reserved for those few times when he was so utterly pleased with her. “Me too.”
Betty snickered, the alcohol making things more amusing than they should be. “You miss yourself?”
He chuckled low in his chest and tapped her forehead softly with a knuckle. “I am a stunning creature.”
She laughed and shook her head. “What am I going to do with you, Jughead?”
His eyes darkened, lips parting slightly and he shifted closer to her as the train pulled up.
They were pulled apart by the crowd departing, and Jughead placed his hand on Betty’s back, guiding her back onto the train and towards where their friends had taken up two rows. Veronica raised an eyebrow at Betty, a slight smirk on her face. She glanced over at Jughead and saw him shake his head once at Archie, who turned to look at her with his lips pursed in thought.
Chapter 7: Heart of Glass
Wedding Countdown: Day 23
Heart of Glass - Blondie
“Love is so confusing there's no peace of mind
If I fear I'm losing you it's just no good
You teasing like you do”
“New work for you Cooper,” Tomoko called out as Betty passed by her office on Tuesday. “Reggie dropped it off this morning. Claimed I’d love it despite holding on to it for a year.”
Betty stepped into the office and took the manuscript from her boss. ‘Death in a Small Town’ read the title. “The title needs work.”
“That’s why I’m paying you. Read through some of it and see if it’s worth anything,” Tomoko said. She turned to her computer and began typing, a clear signal she was done with the conversation.
Betty went back to her desk and began to read about thirty pages in. It took about fifteen pages for it to sink in that she’d lived this story. Quickly, she flipped to the second page. In black and white the words read, ‘For Juliet, the real Nancy Drew of this
story.’ Her heart began to race as she skimmed through the pages, but the more she read the more apparent it became that Jughead had finally finished his manuscript.
Once she was certain it was his (though she did have to scoff at the name ‘Jane Webb’, about as far from ‘Betty Cooper’ as he could get), Betty brought the manuscript back to Tomoko and set it on her desk.
“I’ve read this before,” she said.
Tomoko’s head whipped around to look at her. “Where?”
“In high school.”
“Is that another editing company?” Tomoko asked with a frown.
Betty shook her head. “No, I mean I read it when I was in high school.” She reached over and flipped to the dedication. “I’m Juliet.”
Tomoko laughed and clapped her hands together. “Perfect. For once a true crime retelling will be accurate. Well, as accurate as it can be while still managing to sell. Have a review back to me in a week.”
Wedding Countdown: Day 17
Now that her evenings were mostly free, Betty had spent more time outside of her apartment. In an effort to get to know her neighborhood better, she’d made it her mission to start shopping at the local businesses. Today found her at a corner bookstore while she waited to hear back from Reggie. He’d finally asked Polly out and, to no one’s surprise but his, she’d said yes. Now two months later, Polly was in town and Reggie had insisted on taking the two out to dinner despite the increasing chance of thunder storms.
A book on the history of women’s suffrage caught her eye and she picked it up. A figure passed the aisle she was in, only to backtrack and head her way.
“Betty? What are you doing here?”
She turned and found Jughead at the end of the aisle. He took a few steps towards her and she held up the book in her hand. “Reading.”
Jughead cleared his throat and looked at the books on the shelves. “Right. Bookstore,” he mumbled. “It’s pouring out there,” he said. He glanced between Betty and the book in her hand, unable to come up with anything else to say.
Betty nodded, amused that he was so tongue-tied. “Lucky I got here before the rain started.”
“Yeah, lucky thing.” He leaned his umbrella up against the bookcase between them. “Read anything good lately?”
“Actually, an interesting manuscript came across my desk the other day courtesy of Reggie,” Betty said. She turned back to the book in her hands and sent him a coy glance. “Apparently he’s been holding onto it for a while.”
He raised an eyebrow and stepped closer to her. “J.B. said you were being pretty secretive about it.”
Betty bit down a smile and flipped a page. “I wouldn’t use the term ‘secretive.’ I just wanted to read it through before I shared it.”
“What’s it about?”
She glanced up to find him watching her with open curiosity. “A murder investigation. In a small town. A town with pep,” she said. Jughead grinned as he finally realized she’d been talking about his manuscript.” At least, that’s what the author wants you to believe it’s about.”
“Is that right? What do you think it’s about?”
“I think it’s about the people. About how they never gave up on each other, no matter how hard it got or the misunderstandings that came between them.”
Jughead’s face softened and he took another step closer. “Or the time spent apart,” he added.
Betty nodded. “Exactly. I haven’t finished it though. So no spoilers. And Jane Webb? The name sounds so old-fashioned.”
He laughed. “Betty isn’t exactly a modern invention,” he pointed out.
“Neither’s ‘Jug Head,’” she teased.
“Let me know what you think about it when you’re done? I’m sure it could do with one of your many ‘suggestions.”
Betty nodded and set the book back on the shelf. Next to her, Jughead rand a hand through his hair and stared at the bookcase behind her. “This might be me reading into things, but there’s an art opening -“
“Cooper, there you are.” Reggie’s voice boomed in the space between them. Betty fought back a groan at his poor timing as he walked up behind her and drew her into a bear hug that lifted her off her feet.
Jughead’s face closed off almost instantly, a bored look taking its place. He took a step back and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Reggie.”
“Hey, needlenose, read anything morbid lately?” Reggie asked. He reached around Betty and held out his hand to Jughead who only glanced at it.
Jughead glanced at Betty once more before brushing by them and heading towards the front of the store.
“What’s his problem?” Reggie asked, offended by Jughead’s sudden cold-shoulder
Betty had an idea of what his problem was, but she didn’t trust her voice enough to say it.
“You about done here? Reservation’s at 7 and Polly’s already sent me about three texts asking where I am. Are you Cooper girls always this punctual?” Reggie teased.
“Drilled into us from a young age,” Betty said. She brushed by Reggie and made her way to the front of the store. Jughead had been right; it was pouring outside, which meant that the sidewalks were crowded with umbrellas and it was impossible to see where he’d gone.
“Well at least you brought your umbrella,” Reggie said as he came up behind her.
On their way to the restaurant, Betty kept replaying their conversation and how quickly Jughead’s demeanor had changed when Reggie appeared. The only conclusion was that he was jealous of Reggie. That realization shouldn’t have made her as happy as it did, but for the rest of the night she couldn’t keep the smile from her face.
Wedding Countdown: Day 14
Please Do Not Go - Violent Femmes
“Tell ya, man, I'm stuck on this lovely girl
Of course to me, she mean all t' world
But then she like another guy
I fall down dead, she never see the tears I cry”
“What’s wrong today, beanie baby?” Katy asked as she slipped onto the stool next to him. She ignored his scowl and ordered a coffee.
“She’s dating Reggie,” he said, turning his scowl to his coffee when it had no effect on her.
Katy quirked an eyebrow. “Betty told you this?”
Jughead shook his head and leaned his head on his arms. “She didn’t have to. They were together at the diner on a date, and he couldn’t keep his hands off her when I ran into them at the library. And she’s taken him to every one of these damn things we have to go to for the wedding.”
“So? We’re together all the time. And you’ve taken me to some of them,” she pointed out. Her coffee arrived and she blew on it before taking a sip. As the flavor hit her tongue she grimaced and reached for the creamer. “How the hell are you drinking this grease black?”
“Years of drinking Pop’s. And it’s different when I take you.”
Jughead shrugged. “You’re not Reggie. He was the biggest player in high school.”
“People change. Besides, why does it bother you if she is taking him?”
Jughead’s scowl deepened. “You know why.”
“Yes, but I want to hear you say it,” she said with a smirk. “Think of it as payback for leaving me with Svenson three weeks ago.”
“I had the flu.”
“Still not enough of an excuse to leave me with him. I spent six hours listening about how to make surstromming properly,” she said sourly. Katy nudged him when he didn’t move. “C’mon Jones, you’re holding out on me here.”
Jughead sighed. “I might have been lead to believe she might have still liked me.”
Katy cocked her head and stared at him. “Liked you liked you? Or liked you well enough to tolerate?”
He shot her a look, clearly wondering if they were still in junior high. Katy refused to take the low road and remind him that he was the one to cover Kinkle’s car in bubble wrap last week. “Liked me, liked me.”
Katy sighed and placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. He groaned and laid his head down on the counter. “I’m pathetic and hopeless, aren’t I?”
“Have been for years, doll. Besides, what makes you think she doesn’t like you like you?” He raised his head and gave her a flat look. “Oh, don’t look at me like that, Jones. And you still haven’t told me how you ‘know’ they’re dating. Are they kissing? Holding hands? Completely absorbed in each other?” He shook his head. “Then they’re probably not dating.
“I think I would know what dating looks like,” he said with a frown.
“And when was the last time you dated?” He huffed and looked away. “Exactly. Why don’t you just ask her instead of assuming?”
“Yeah, cause that’s exactly what you do with an ex. Walk up and say, ‘Hey I know we said we’d try out this friends thing, and we haven’t exactly hung out a bunch, but if you and Reggie aren’t dating do you think we could give it another go?’”
Katy grinned. “I did. Best sex of my life. Of course, we broke up three weeks later when I remembered exactly why I broke up with her in the first place.”
Jughead groaned and lay his head on the counter.
“Besides, so what if she’s with this Reggie guy? You wanted her back as a friend, right?”
Jughead nodded and picked at the linoleum. “Yeah.”
“So what’s the problem?”
“I’m still in love with her,” he groaned. He slumped over onto the counter and Katy patted his back. “This wedding bullshit is going to kill me.”
“If you die can I have your stereo system? I always wanted to know what Ariana Grande would sound like on it” Katy asked innocently. Jughead threw her empty creamer packets at her and she cackled.
Wedding Countdown: Day 2
Like most of Veronica’s engagement parties, this one was filled with socialites and snobs. This was the type of place someone who went by ‘Forsythe Pendleton Jones, III,’ would be comfortable in. It was definitely not, however, somewhere a name like ‘Jughead’ would be welcomed. Katy, however, was in her element and it was becoming more apparent that she had run in the same circles as Veronica before she gave up modeling.
He shifted uncomfortably next to her, his hand tugging at the tie that felt like a noose. Without missing a beat of conversation, Katy elbowed Jughead in the ribs. “If you don’t stop pulling at your tie I will strangle you with it,” she hissed before returning to the conversation with some photographer.
Jughead dropped his hands, only to shove them into his pockets a moment later. Bored with the conversation next to him he went back to people watching, but even that was subpar to the last party he’d been forced with, especially with such a clear view of Betty and Reggie across the room. Reggie said something that made Betty laugh, a sight that made Jughead’s jaw clench as something like jealous ran through him. He forced his attention back to where his best friend stood uncomfortably next to his future-father-in-law, the older man’s hand clenched like a vice on Archie’s shoulder.
A plate was shoved into his hands and he glanced over to find his sister holding a nearly identical plate to his, only without the shrimp skewers. Eventually Katy’s friend moved on and she watched the crowd with them. “They’re so not dating,” she said after a few minutes of observation.
“Who’s not dating?” J.B. asked. She stood up on her tip-toes to peer over the crowd, one hand on Jughead’s arm to steady herself.
“Betty and Reggie,” Katy said. J.B. made a face and Katy pointed across the room with one hand while she stole a cracker with the other. “And before you ask how I know, not once have either touched the other. No lingering gazes, no flirtatious looks.”
“So not dating. Look at where their feet are pointing,” J.B. said, her mouth full of cheese. She held up a cracker, smeared with pink paste. “What is this? It’s the best thing here?”
“Not to mention the three feet between them." All three watched as Veronica swept up to Betty and linked their arms together. To J.B., Katy said, “Fois gras. Pureed liver made from force feeding a goose.” J.B. blanched and spat out her mouthful into a napkin.
“Who are you? Dr. Ruth?” Jughead muttered as he picked at his plate.
Katy rolled her eyes. “Don’t try to act like you don’t know what we’re talking about.”
“There’s your chance, Jug,” J.B. said as Veronica dragged Betty out a back door. She nudged her brother. “Go sweep her off her feet.”
He glanced at Reggie, still caught up in the conversation with his friends.
“Give them a few minutes. The last thing you want to get involved with is a bride on a mission. Especially this close to the wedding,” Katy said. She turned to Jughead and plucked the plate from him. J.B. took the plate from her as Katy straightened his tie.
Jughead shifted on his feet for a few minutes before he headed after the women before he lost his resolve.
Ngl, kinda of love writing Katy.
Late update because I couldn’t decide how this chapter should go and then no internet. Then two scrapped and gutted chapters and wow I’d forgotten just how different the first draft was (read: angst angst and more angst). Now I'm posting this before I can fret over it anymore.
Chapter 9: Do I Wanna Know?
Stuck in a group Reggie and Veronica had known in college, Betty did her best to keep a smile on her face. This was not how she’d expected to spend tonight. Especially when Jughead alternated between scowling at Reggie from across the room and looking painfully bored next to Katy. At some point during Streaky’s story about how he got his name (a story she could have lived without ever hearing), Veronica appeared at her side.
“Hate to break up the party, but I need my gal here,” Veronica said as she slipped an arm through Betty’s. “Last minute wedding details, you understand.”
Betty gave the group a polite smile, never so grateful to be dragged away. “Duty calls. It was nice to meet you,” she said as she followed Veronica towards the back of the building.
They emerged in a small courtyard, alone save for a couple eating a late night dinner on the patio. Veronica dropped Betty’s arm and spun to face her, arms crossed. “Why didn’t you tell me about you and Jughead? I had to hear all of it from Kevin tonight.”
Betty’s brow furrowed in confusion. As far as she knew, there was nothing between her and Jughead. “What are you talking about?”
Frustrated, Veronica threw her hands in the air. “Jughead returned your shirt. That you left at his apartment. And you didn’t tell me?”
Betty laughed. “One of J.B.’s friends spilled soda on my shirt so I had to borrow one of his. Nothing happened between us, V. I promise.”
Veronica raised an eyebrow as she studied Betty. “Do you want something to happen between you?”
All at once, Betty was certain and unsure. She ran a hand up and down her arm as she thought about it. “I think so. But it’s been so long. Do I even know him anymore?”
“Please, that boy hasn’t changed a bit,” Veronica said as she rolled her eyes. “Eats like a trash compactor, has a sarcastic quip for everything, and can’t keep from quoting movies no one under the age of sixty has even heard of.” That drew a laugh from Betty. “How do you feel about him, B?”
“I know I still care for him. I might even still be in love with him,” Betty said. She glanced at Veronica for her reaction and let out a breath as the brunette squealed and clapped her hands at the admission.
“I knew it. Does he know?”
Betty shook her head. “I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it though. I wanted to tonight, but -“
“But Reggie has monopolized all of your time. Speaking of.” Veronica lowered her voice and glanced back towards the door they’d come from. “What about Reggie? Does he know about you and Jughead?”
“Reggie knows. At least, I’m pretty sure he does,” Betty said, confused about what her sister’s boyfriend had to do with anything.
Veronica looked scandalized for a moment before she gave Betty a cheshire grin. “Two men at once? I never thought you had it in you.”
It was Betty’s turn to look scandalized, her nose wrinkled at the suggestion. “Reggie and I aren’t together. He’s in love with Polly,” she said, emphasizing her sister’s name. “Reggie and I are just friends.”
“Oh thank god. For a moment I thought I was going to have to be your voice of morality,” Veronica said with a laugh.
“I can’t believe you thought Reggie and I were together.” Betty made a face at the thought. She was far too close to Reggie and the sharper edges of his personality to be anything more than superficially attracted to him. And even then that attraction had only lasted for ten minutes in middle school. At minute eleven, he’d opened his mouth to make fun of Midge’s diorama of Riverdale and any lingering attraction Betty might have had was swept away. “That would be like dating my brother. Or Moose.”
“True. Reggie and Polly balance each other out more. You’re a little -“ Veronica chewed on her lip as she tried to find a word.
“High-strung?” Betty offered with a smile.
“Well, yes. But I was trying to be nice about it." Veronica gave her a fond smile and nodded towards the restaurant. "Let’s head back in before Daddy drives Archie to run away before the wedding. Daddy had the poor thing convinced we’re connected with the Italian mafia by marriage. It took me three days to undo that one. I'd hate to think what he's told him tonight,” Veronica said with a shake of her head. She held the door open for Betty and swept in after her.
“Didn’t you want to talk about the wedding?”
“We did. After all, it’s important that the bride knows whether or not her Maid of Honor will be sleeping with the Best Man before or after the wedding. I’d hate for there to be any drama that’s not about me,” Veronica said with a smirk.
Do I Wanna Know - Arctic Monkeys
I don't know if you feel the same as I do
But we could be together, if you wanted to
As Jughead walked over to the back of the restaurant he spotted Reggie with his arms around a blonde who, despite being a Cooper, was decidedly not Betty. Before he could get over his shock Veronica slipped beside him, Betty in tow.
“Jughead, darling, how are you? Enjoying the party?” Veronica asked, a smirk on her lips. Jughead narrowed his eyes at her, immediately suspicious. In all of the years of their halting friendship she rarely, if ever, asked how she was. And not once in all of the wedding hell she’d put him through did she ask his opinion on anything. Before he could answer, Veronica continued on. “Be a doll and walk Betty home tonight, will you? I’m afraid tonight will run late and I’d rather not her go alone.” He opened his mouth but Veronica tutted at him. “Before you say no, remember it is your duty as a law-abiding officer to ensure the safety of it’s citizens.” With a wink at Betty, Veronica sauntered off to her next conversational victim.
Betty tucked a piece of hair behind her ear as she shot a glare at Veronica’s back. “If you don’t mind, that is.”
He shook his head and shoved his hands in his pockets to distract himself from the faint blush on Betty’s cheeks. “Not a problem. I just need to let J.B. know.” She gave him a grateful smile and he cleared his throat. “So, Reggie?”
Betty followed his gaze and to his surprise a soft smile came to her face. “They’re cute together, aren’t they.”
“You’re not bothered by it?” Jughead asked. He held his breath as Betty peered up at him, a curious expression on her face.
“Should I be? He’s great with the twins and he absolutely adores her.”
“Great, no it’s great. Good for them,” he stammered.
Jughead was unable to hide his smile at the news, even when Betty excused herself to greet a few of the other bridesmaids.
Not at all happy with this one, but it's getting posted so I can power through.
If anyone’s interested, I’ve made a tumblr under the same user name (SoyForRamen) so I can post the random snippets that are floating around my computer without a home. So many AU’s floating around in my head, so little time to write them all.
Chapter 10: How 'Bout Another
Another First Kiss - They Might Be Giants
“I want another first kiss like this How 'bout another first kiss?”
Long after midnight, Betty made her way towards the tables that had been set up along the back wall where Archie sat alone. Jughead and Kevin sat at the table behind him, but from the look on Kevin’s face and Jughead’s eye roll it didn’t appear to be a conversation Betty wanted any part of. Picking the lessor of two evils, Betty sat on the chair next to Archie and winced as she slipped off her heels.
Archie gave her a tired smile and placed the champagne bottle in front of her. She took it gratefully and the pair watched as Veronica danced with her father while Jughead and Kevin debated the role of Sophia Coppala in modern cinema behind them. If she closed her eyes, Betty could imagine that she was at her last high school dance the way it was meant to be.
“Never thought I’d be here, about to marry Veronica Lodge of all people,” Archie admitted after a while.
Betty smiled. “Not even in high school?”
“I never should have told you about that dream,” Archie groaned.
“At least you decided against the kilts,” she teased.
They watched as Reggie pulled Polly onto the dance floor, a smile on her face despite her half-hearted protests. “Didn’t expect to see Reggie and Polly together. Though that does explain why he’s been on his best behavior lately. I was beginning to wonder if he’d been body-snatched.”
“Hey, now. That’s my future brother-in-law you’re talking about there,” Betty said in mock anger as she prodded him with her toe.
Archie laughed and held up his hands. “No offense meant to the Cooper clan. Just that if you told me in high school this is where we’d all end up, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Betty’s gaze slipped behind them. Kevin leaned forward and tapped the table with his forefinger as he argued a point. Jughead caught her gaze and rolled his eyes as if to say he’d already won the conversation. When she glanced back at Archie, he was studying her, a thoughtful expression on his face. “I know exactly what you mean,” Betty said. “But Reggie makes her happy and wants to be there for her. What else can I ask for?”
“Nothing, really. I’m happy for them,” he said with a smile. “What about you, though? Are you happy?”
She stared at the champagne bottle and picked at the label, voicing her thoughts as they came to her. “I’m getting there. I like my new job, Polly and I are closer now that she’s been coming into the city more. And I’ve had more time to hang out with you guys.”
“And what about him?” Archie nodded to where Jughead and Kevin still sat behind them. “Do you think you two might ever get back together?”
“Is it weird if I do?”
He shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. You never really get over your first real love. And we all know I wasn’t that. Besides, you never got a chance to see how things would have turned out.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
The pair fell into a companionable silence that lasted until they parted ways for the night, Veronica and Archie heading uptown, Jughead and Betty heading east. The conversation on the walk back to her apartment stuck to safe topics, friends, family, movies, and it was all Betty could do to keep from asking whether he still felt anything for her. When they arrived he offered to follow her up to her floor, citing Veronica’s instructions to make sure Betty was delivered safely back home.
She paused at the door, her keys in hand. “This is me.”
“Guess this is goodnight then.”
Betty nodded as she played with the keys in her hand. “Juggie, I -“ Her voice faltered, the confidence she’d gained from talking to Veronica gone, and she was left in limbo between hope and uncertainty. She peeked up at him and found his eyes half-lidded and soft as he looked at her.
“I might be reading the past few weeks the entirely wrong way,” Jughead began. His hand hovered over her cheek a moment before it dropped back to his side. “If I am -“
“You’re not,” Betty breathed. She reached for his tie and tugged him down towards her.
Their lips crashed together and Jughead’s hands grasped her waist to steady himself. His touch was like fire and Betty drew closer to him, wanting nothing more than to make up for the time they’d lost. The kiss was tender and sweet, as if they were the only two people in the world.
All too quickly it ended. For a moment they stood there, looking at each other, a smile on both their faces.
“I’ll see you tomorrow?” Betty asked softly.
Jughead nodded. “Tomorrow,” he said, his smile bigger than before.
Betty watched as he walked down the hall, turning to look at her one last time before he headed into the elevators. She felt lighter than she had in a while, and try as she might she couldn't keep the smile from her face.
Apologies for taking so long with this one, but here it finally is!
Wedding: Day 0
“She had spoken it; but she trembled when it was done, conscious that her words were listened to, and daring not even to try to observe their effect.”
It was the day of the wedding, and Jughead still hadn’t managed to get more than three sentences into his best man’s speech. For someone who’d written all his life it was times like these he really hated the written word. A knock at the door drew his attention away from his scrawled notes. He glanced over at Archie, pacing the room and oblivious to anything except his own worry and anxiety about the wedding. Jughead set his notes aside and made his way to the door. He stopped only long enough to clap Archie on the shoulder.
When he opened the door, he was surprised to find Betty standing behind it. The shy smile that blossomed on her face chased away the worry that the other night had been a fluke. He can’t help but smile back, and he’s pretty sure that if anyone else were to see him now he’d be pegged as a love-struck goof.
“How is he?” Betty asked as she peered around him.
“He hasn’t been this wound up since he dinged Mr. Weatherbee’s car in fourth grade. How’s the bride-to-be?”
Betty sighed and patted her hair. “She’s been speaking Spanish since we got here, and my three years in Mr. Lingua’s class aren’t enough to be able to understand her. Can I come in?”
Jughead moved out from the doorway and followed her inside. He took up his spot by the window and began to pick at what little of a speech he had. While he continued the good fight against the English language (how was he supposed to contain humorous anecdotes, embarrassing incidents, and well wishes for the happy couple in only three pages?), he did his best to keep from listening in on his friends’ conversation. But with a room this small it was hard to keep his attention on his paper.
“I don’t know why you’re so nervous,” Betty told Archie.
“She’s too good for me. I’m not exactly -“ he stopped and ran his hand through his hair.
“Not exactly what, Arch? Some rich socialite? We both know that’s not what Ronnie wants. Or needs.”
“I know, I know.” He ran a hand down his face and started to pace once more. “She says she doesn’t care about any of that. But what if in five years she decides she wants someone who knows what all those forks are and knows what bitcoin is and holds charity dinners and -“
“And what if you two end up growing old together? What if you two are so happy together they write love songs about you?” She placed a hand on his arm and Archie stilled. “What’s really bothering you?”
He shoved his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels. “What if we end up like my parents? Living half a country away from each other and pretending everything’s okay between us, even if it’s not?”
“So what if you do?” Betty asked. Archie’s face crumpled, but before he could fall in on himself she tucked a finger under his chin and made him look at her. “The only thing that matters is how you both feel right now. No one knows where we’ll end up, and living your life by what-if’s and things you can’t control won’t help you live your life. I know. I did it to myself for too many years, and let me tell you, it’s not worth it.”
Archie looked at her, his eyes a silent plea for her to somehow make it better. “But what if I’m not enough for her?”
“You are good enough for her, Archie Andrews. And Veronica knows that, and she loves you and wants to marry you,” Betty said. Her voice was soft as she straightened Archie’s tie, and Jughead forced himself to write a few more lines to keep from staring. “That’s the thing people never seem to understand about love. Even if you’re irritated, even when you’ve been left behind, some part of you can’t help but love. Even if you’ve lost all hope that you’re still loved, even when there’s every indication you should just let go, sometimes you can’t help but love someone.”
The room suddenly grew ten times hotter, and Jughead felt his face flush. Hope grew in his chest that Betty was talking about whatever it was that was still between them, that she still loved him despite all the time that had elapsed between them. Despite everything that had town them apart. It took everything he had to keep from rushing to Betty and confessing every moment he’d spent missing her.
Oblivious to his best man, Archie pulled Betty into a hug and they stayed that way for a few moments. “I don’t know what I did to deserve a friend like you,” Archie said.
“If I remember correctly it involved a chocolate cookie and a juice box in first grade,” Betty said. She brushed tears off her cheek and laughed as she straightened his tie. “It’s your wedding day and we’re talking about subjects more suited to country songs and LifeTime moves. Now act like this is the happiest day of your life or we’ll both be in trouble.”
Archie laughed and pulled her into another hug. “I really am glad you stopped by. Jug’s only advice was to ‘suck it up’ and remind me how much the reception cost.”
“Unlike the Lodges, you still have student loans and credit cards to pay back,” Jughead said once he’d found his voice. While Betty and Archie talked about the upcoming reception and honeymoon, Jughead flipped through his papers to a blank page and began to write.
“Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”
As the night breeze blew through the reception hall, Betty was once again glad that Veronica had insisted on this particular venue. While the location wasn’t entirely up to Lodge standards it was a lovely, open space with high ceilings, dark wood, and a large balcony that overlooked the city. Champagne tulle and violet flowers broke up the darkness to create something people would be trying to imitate for the months to come.
Now, hours after the wedding had ended and minutes after the happy couple had been given their proper send off, the space had become something more casual and intimate. The crowd had long since thinned out, only the rest of the bridal party and a few of the more drunken revelers remaining. Out on the dance floor, Katy dipped Cheryl, only for both of them to end up on the floor giggling. Betty smiled and waved at a few of Veronica’s cousins as they air kissed their way out of the room.
Unable to help herself, Betty scanned the room for the only person she wanted to see before she left. She found him at a table near the back balcony caught in a debate with Dilton Doiley. Jughead caught her eye and rolled his, a clear indication they were arguing about something meaningless. Betty bit down a smile and made her way towards them. She sat down at the table next to them and slipped off her shoes. As much as she wanted to whisk Jughead away now that they had time to talk about what happened between them, she was in no mood to get involved in an argument with Dilton Doiley about the ramifications of whatever governmental conspiracy he was caught
up in now.
It didn’t take long for Reggie to find her and take the seat neat to her. She raised an eyebrow as he set some pink, fruity drink in front of her. He smirked and glanced over to where Jughead still sat. “What? This seat taken or something?”
She flushed and took a sip of the drink. “I thought you would have left long before now.”
“Nah. This much free booze and food? Only an idiot would give that up.” He raised his own glass in a toast and took a drink. “Hate to say this, but the Andrews-Lodge wedding turned out pretty good. Surprising considering Andrews was involved, but it seems like they’re off to a good start.”
Betty hummed and rested her chin on her hand. “Archie’s been planning this since college. He’d walk through fire for her if she asked.”
Reggie scoffed and loosened his tie. “He always was a hopeless romantic. Promise me you’ll get my head checked out if I start mooning over some girl like he does.”
“I’ll get you an appointment on Monday.” He stared at her. “I’ve seen you around Polly.”
“Yeah, well Polly’s a different story.” They sat in a companionable silence until Reggie spoke up. “You know, I always had the biggest crush on her in elementary school. But back then you didn’t get to admit you liked a girl and thought she was cool. By the time I finally got the nerve to do anything about it, she and Jason were a thing. Then he turned up dead and suddenly Polly was a single mom with two kids. After that it didn’t seem right to tell her how I’d felt all those years. Like she’d think I was taking pity on her or something.”
Betty placed her hand over his and he glanced at her. “She’ll always love him, Reg. He is the father of her kids. But she hasn’t been in love with him for years now.”
He stared at his drink, deep in thought. “I just don’t see how she could go from someone like Jason to me.”
“You don’t give yourself enough credit. Just because she was in love with Jason in high school doesn’t mean she can’t love you now. They were just kids back then. We all were,” she reminded him. “It’s easy enough to get stuck in the past, I know. But we’ll never move forward if we don’t forgive ourselves for what happened.”
At that Reggie looked up at her. “And what about you? Have you forgiven, forgotten, and moved on?” He glanced over his shoulder and Betty followed his gaze to Jughead.
“I -“ Betty couldn’t get the words out. Between the wedding, the new job, and the utter turmoil that had been the reappearance of Jughead Jones she hadn’t really been able to give it much reflection. “I don’t know if I could ever truly move on. I don’t know if anyone could. But there really wasn’t much to forgive, is there? The whole thing turned out to be a comedy of errors, and if it had happened to someone else I’d have thought they were replaying an Oscar Wilde novel.”
Reggie snorted. “Glad you got some use out of your English major.”
She stuck her tongue out at him. “Double English major, thank you.”
That drew a chuckle from him. “I do have to give you credit, Coop. I thought you would have moved on long ago, found some swell, standup guy to settle down with in some small town and raise the perfect nuclear family.”
Betty shifted in her seat. He sounded far too much like her own mother during the holidays. “Maybe in a different life time I would have. But something changed that summer, and that life was no longer enough for me. Now I don’t think I’d ever be satisfied with the life my mother had.”
“What about the life you want?” he asked.
Her gaze shifted to the table next to them, her eyes tracing Jughead’s profile. All the years lost between them and she still found herself feeling the same way. “I’m working on that. You don’t have a pen, do you?”
My apologies for how long this took for me to get another chapter out. But life and major self-doubt managed to hit hard the last few months. With any luck this chapter was worth the wait.
Only one more chapter to go!
Chapter 12: Half Agony, Half Hope
You have pierced my soul. I am half-agony, half-hope…. I have loved no one but you. Persuasion, Chapter 22
(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To - Weezer
If you're wondering if I want you to,
(I want you to) I want you to (I want you to)
I swear it's true (I swear it's true) without you,
My heart is blue
Out in the lobby, Betty paced the floor once again. She checked her phone, only five minutes since she’d last done so. It was far later than she’d ever meant to stay, but something about what she’d done, something about finally clearing the air between them, wouldn’t let her leave just yet. The doors to the hall opened behind her and she spun, only to find Katy and Cheryl taking their leave for the night. Betty waved as they left, only to return to her nervous pacing when they were out of sight.
Her note was an impulsive decision, one brought about by her conversation with Reggie and by her frustration with being unable to determine where she and Jughead’s relationship (acquaintance? friendship? nostalgic attempt to relive the past but ultimately futile in it’s infancy-ship?) stood. It was all too fitting, she’d decided, that she lay her soul bare in a letter, a call-back to Jughead’s own attempts to reach her all those years ago. Only now it wouldn’t end in another tragedy of errors. If he didn’t respond to her, well. At least she’d know where they stood.
That is, if he remembered to look at it.
Betty chewed on the side of her thumb. She’d never let herself be so exposed emotionally since she’d left Riverdale. The few times she’d even thought about doing so had ended in disaster. So to write it down was dreadful, exhilarating, and nerve-wracking all at once, like looking out on a canyon not knowing what lay at the bottom and still diving in headfirst with the reckless abandon that something, someone, would catch you at the bottom.
Tonight, she knew Jughead would catch her at the end of that jump. The only question was whether he’d let her down gently, or whether he’d free fall with her. But this was Jughead, she reminded herself. He’d never let her down before. This was the man who’d known her since they were kids, the one who wiped dirt off her nose when she fell in the playground and offered her half his sandwich. The one she’d solved a murder with, her own personal cheerleader when she didn’t even believe in herself.
And yet. He was also the man who up until a few months ago believed she’d broken his heart just as badly as she’d thought he’d broken hers. Their history was always there, lurking, whenever they were in the same room lately. No matter how tonight ended, they were inextricably tied together by history, by fate, by their own friends and family. And something had to be done to fix this between them. Something to clear up this uncertainty.
Reggie had been right. This was her life. She needed to take control and stop waiting around for someone else to make the first move, to stop waiting for the world to change around her. And so she’d written down what it was she couldn’t bring herself to say to him, what she needed him to know.
If nothing else came of it, she knew Jughead would appreciate this book end to this chapter of their story. Their separation had begun with his letters of devotion - his unopened, unreceived, unrealized letters - so it was only natural that it would, for better (hopefully, maybe, please) or for worse, with one final letter.
She glanced back towards the door. Surely he’d have read it by now. When she’d set it on the table, Dilton had raised an eyebrow without comment. But Jughead. Had he even seen it? If he had, did this mean he’d realized, finally after all these years, that she wasn’t worth it? That she -
Betty took a deep breath to recenter. Those thoughts weren’t helpful or necessary, and it wouldn’t do anything to worry about uncertainties. Years of long needed therapy had taught her that; getting her mind to believe it was an altogether different story.
With a sigh, she turned towards the doors. Whether he’d read it or not didn’t change the fact that it was now after 2 in the morning. Though the likelihood of being able to sleep after tonight was almost impossible, her own warm bed and pajamas would still be better than standing about in too-high heels like a love-struck fool on the off-chance he’d come through those doors after her.
Just as she reached the doors, the entry to the hall opened once more. Betty turned back, hoping against hope -
Only to find Reggie Mantle striding towards her. “Why the long face? Not handsome enough for you?”
Betty blew out a breath, shoulders slumped. “You’re not exactly who I want to see right now.”
He held a hand over his heart and pulled a hurt face. “You wound me Coop. After all this time, and here I was thinking we were friends.” He straightened his tie and
glanced around. “Still no needlenose?”
She shook her head.
“Well, they’re starting to pack up inside.” He looked over his shoulder. “Maybe he’ll be out soon.”
“Maybe.” She doubted it though. After this long he’d either slipped out the back or was still in an argument with Dilton over something trivial. Neither could leave without a victory, especially if it centered around pop culture.
Reggie bumped her with his shoulder. “Things’ll start looking up, Cooper. Besides, you deserve someone who knows your value and if he doesn’t I’ll make sure to set you up with all the hot, young bachelors I know.”
A lump lodged in her throat and she pulled him into a tight hug. Growing up, Reggie had always been the epitome of show, don’t tell when it came to his friends. Now it appeared that he’d almost come to terms with the fact that he was nothing but a mere mortal. “Who are you, and what have you done with my Reggie Mantle?”
“I think your sister’s already laid claim to me. Might be a little jealous if she heard you,” he joked. He pulled away from her, unable to meet her eyes. “Look, I know we don’t get along all the time, and I know you want to punch me on a good day. But if Jones doesn’t pull through this time,” he paused as he searched for the right words.
“We’ll get through it together, even if I have to get my nails painted and gain thirty pounds from binging ice cream and watching the Hallmark Channel.”
She smiled at him. Tears threatened to fall from his sincerity in looking out for her. “Thanks Reg.”
He nodded and walked her to the outside landing. He stopped at the top of the steps, and held up a hand. “Wait for me? We can split a cab.”
“Where are you going?”
Reggie grinned. “Forgot something inside.”
Gimme Little Sign - Breton Wood
Just gimme some kind of sign girl
Oh my baby
To show that you're mine girl
“And I still say O. O. Wellenmellen’s finest work in the twentieth century is his two season directorial comeback on ‘Between Two Milkshakes,” Dilton argued. He went so far as to punctuate his words by tapping the table with his fingers, much like a man signaling a refill of water to his waiter through morse code.
And much like the waiter, Jughead wasn’t moved. Instead, he crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. “And I still say you’re out of your mind. ’The Giant Tea Bash’ was a critical junction in the art house films moving to and becoming more accepted by mainstream culture and the Hollywood elite,” Jughead shot back.
Dilton scoffed. “If you’re going to bring that up, at least have the decency to use ‘I Remember Mummy’ as and example. That at least was a critical and commercial success, met with rave reviews -“
“So what if it was critically acclaimed? At least Tea Bash had more of an effect on Hollywood and it’s treatment of -“
“Hate to break up this nerd convention, but they’re shutting it down,” Reggie interrupted. He jerked his thumb towards the bar, the staff long ago packed up. Every now and they shot dirty looks at Jughead and Dilton.
Dilton turned towards Jughead, and in an ominous tone said, “To be continued.”
They shook hands. Jughead walked off while Dilton gathered up his things. Dilton called out to him before he’d gotten far. “Don’t forget your note.”
Jughead turned around, confused. Mrs. Andrews had taken his best man speech from him, tearfully promising to have it framed earlier in the night. “What note?”
“The one Betty left for you,” Dilton said. He brought it to Jughead and took his leave.
Jughead turned the note over in his hands as he made his way towards the lobby. It was nothing more than one of Veronica’s absurdly expensive linen napkins folded into quarters. On the front was his name in Betty’s neat script. And yet in light of what he’d heard tonight, in light of what he shouldn’t have tried so hard to he knew there was still something between them. Something that made him want to steal her away until they sorted it out.
“Thanks, Dilton. I’ll see you around,” he said, distracted by what felt like the weight of the world in his hands.
“You gonna read that, or keep staring?”
He stopped and looked up to find Reggie had kept pace with him. The innocent look on his face raised Jughead’s hackles. The only time Reggie Mantle looked innocent was when the fix was in - or worse - when he was in the know. “Why do you care?”
Reggie shrugged and held the door open to let Jughead pass in front of him. “Let’s call it mere curiosity about why anyone would write you a handwritten note in this fast-paced world of texting, Swiftagramming, and Grindr.”
Jughead glanced between the note and Reggie, his muscles tensing for the inevitable reveal. “What do you know about this?”
“Not a whole lot. Just that Betty was real anxious for you to read it.” Reggie paused and glanced towards the doors behind him. “I don’t think her taxi’s arrived just yet if you’re quick.”
Jughead narrowed his eyes, but Reggie grinned and walked towards a side hall. Dread, hope, and curiosity coursed through his veins as he turned it over again in his hands. “Get on with it, Jones,” he muttered as he unfolded the paper, only for Betty’s slant, delicate cursive greet him.
I hope you don’t mind I’m writing this on a cocktail napkin while listening to you argue with Dilton Doiley about the preservation of modern media. The entire conversation is so entirely you I’ve almost forgotten we aren’t at Pop’s on a Friday night.
But that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing because I don’t recall the last time I’ve been as happy as I was when you kissed, both our first kiss and our last. For all of Reggie’s talk about women leaving men behind (and yes, I know you were eavesdropping, you have your tells, though I can’t blame you entirely, I’d do the same in your place), I can only offer myself up as a counterargument to every one of his points.
I’m still as much in love with you as I ever was. Probably more now that I know what its like to live without you. I could never love anyone like I loved you.
I don’t know how to say this without sounding desperate, but you’ve never left my mind. No matter how badly I tried to forget, no matter how hard I denied, I always wondered what it would have been like if we hadn’t been interrupted.
But if I’m wrong (and I pray I’m not) and the other night was nothing more than a mistake, we can both pretend I never wrote this. That you spilled something and the ink ran through this. That the words ran together until it was nothing more than a mess for someone else to clean up. I know we agreed to be friends, and I still want that.
And as selfish as it might be, I also want something more. So please, give me some kind of sign that you’re as willing as I am to pick up where we left off.
Again and again his eyes flitted across the words as something close to elation rose up in his chest. She still loved him. With great care, he folded the napkin neatly and slipped it into his jacket pocket before he ran out of the lobby. He scanned the sidewalk for that brilliant flash of gold he’d remembered in his dreams, but saw nothing but late night bar-flies and tired graveyard shift employees.
Frustrated, he took the stairs two at a time.
Tear in My Heart - Twenty-One Pilots
She’s the tear in my heart
She’s the tear in my heart
I’m on fire
She’s the tear in my heart
Take me higher
Than I’ve ever been
Tucked against the wall, Betty shifted her weight to relieve some of the pressure from the balls of her feet. Reggie’s minute was long since up and he’d refused to answer any of her texts, instead leaving her on read. If it weren’t so late she’d leave him behind, but one too many strange cab rides had made her wary this late at night. She shot of another text as the doors above her slammed shut.
She walked towards the street, long since ready to leave, and tucked her phone back into her purse. “I thought you’d never make it out of there, I was about -“
Betty stopped when she realized it was Jughead standing on the steps behind her.
“I got your note,” he said. His eyes searched hers and she took a step towards him. “After I left, I thought -“ he paused to run a hand through his hair. “I thought you hated me, and I wondered if you’d ever really loved me.”
She opened her mouth to protest, but stopped when he shook his head. “Kevin told me you didn’t know about the letters I’d sent, that you were just as heartbroken as I was. I realize know Polly was only doing what she thought was best for you, but when you didn’t respond I went to a dark place. If I had known you wanted to hear from me just as badly as I wanted to hear from you, I’d never have given up on you.”
Just hearing those words brought forth a bubble of happiness in her chest that made her forget about her aching heels and tired limbs. A smile bloomed on her face as Jughead took the last few steps to met her.
“It’s crazy, isn’t it? To still love you after seven years? Even after everything that’s happened?”
He grinned and closed the gap that was still left between them. In another moment his hand was on the side of her face. “If it’s crazy, I’m right there beside you.” He was looking at her with that same intensity he had all those years ago when he’d first kissed her, when he’d first told her he’d loved her. “We can be crazy together.”
Betty laughed and kissed him lightly as she wound her arms around his waist.
Jughead sighed and rested his forehead against hers as the city moved around them. “It’s only ever been you, Bets.”
Chapter 13: Bonus - One Week
One last scene!
Bonus - One week later
“Forever Mine” - Andra Day
Looking for my head, can’t find it no more
You ransom my heart and I get the reward
Winning the crown like a Trojan horse
I come back, back, back every time
One week later found Betty humming to herself as she made coffee. When she’d woken up that morning, the last six months had felt like little more than a dream. Then she rolled over to find Jughead snoring softly beside her. Quietly, she’d slipped on the nearest shirt she could find - the shirt he’d worn last night she realized later - and made her way into the kitchen, too riled up by the reality of this to stay in bed much longer.
As she waited for the coffee to brew her phone lit up with an incoming call from Veronica. “Hey, V,” Betty said with a smile.
Veronica waved and flipped the camera around to show off the beachfront view. “Morning, B. It’s another beautiful day in paradise.”
Betty chuckled softly. “It looks exactly like a postcard.”
The camera flipped back around and Veronica hummed her agreement. “It’s absolutely gorgeous here. You must make the time to come out. You have a vacation coming up soon, don’t you?”
“I’m happy where I am right now,” Betty admitted with a smile. Her thoughts flickered back to the man sleeping in the next room. The coffee machine beeped and she leaned the phone against the counter as she reached for a mug. “What do you have planned for the rest of your honeymoon?”
Veronica stretched and leaned against the balcony. “Nothing but beaches and a few massages. We did the tourist thing for a few days and agreed we’d rather be relaxing on the beach. Though Daddy does keep trying to push us to come home early. Something about his only daughter being left alone on an island with her husband,” she said with a roll of her eyes.
“I thought he and Archie were getting along better.”
“They are,” Veronica sighed, “but I don’t know that Daddy will ever be happy with Archie. He always did want me to marry someone more connected.”
Betty clicked her tongue and sat down at the kitchen island. When she raised her coffee to drink, Veronica began to frown. Betty glanced down and blushed when she realized what had caught her best friend’s attention, in particular one of the infamous ’S’ shirts Jughead still insisted on wearing.
“Elizabeth Ann Cooper, what is that you’re wearing?” A sly smile crawled across her face. “No, no. Don’t tell me. We’ll talk it over after a few cappuccinos and cupcakes when I get back. I take it things are going well for you now?”
“Very well.” Betty didn’t try to fight the smile that came over her when Jughead came around the corner of her kitchen. He leaned against the doorframe and stared at her, a similar smile on his own face.
“Is that Cyrano de Begerac himself?” Veronica teased. Betty bit her lip and nodded. “Good. Turn the phone around, darling, I have something to say to him.”
Jughead quirked an eyebrow when the phone was turned to him.
“If you hurt her in any way I swear I will make sure you end up on the bottom of the Hudson where no one will find you. Not even that buddy cop of yours,” Veronica said in a stern tone.
Betty’s shoulders shook with humor at the toothless threat.
“Trust me, Veronica. You don’t have to worry about that,” he promised. He sent Betty a look that sent shivers down her spine and she flushed with the memory of last night.
“Turn me around again, Betty,” Veronica ordered. “I’m demanding all the details when I get back.”
This time Betty did laugh out loud. “I doubt you’d want all of them.” Jughead rolled his eyes and unfurled himself from the doorframe to pour a cup of coffee.
“True. Just the important ones then. Talk to you later, B. We’ve got a long day of lying about in the sun. Ta,” Veronica said with a wave.
The screen cut out and Jughead’s arms were around her. Betty closed her eyes and leaned into his touch. “I woke up and you weren’t there. I was afraid I’d imagined this past week,” he whispered in her ear. The closeness brought back the shivers and he pulled her closer.
“You have floral bedsheets?” she teased.
He nudged her ear with his nose to plant a kiss on her neck. “I’m not the most cognizant in the mornings.”
“Says the man who uses ‘cognizant’ five minutes after he woke up,” she muttered as she trailed her fingers down his arm. A thought stuck her and she shifted around to face him. “If I had tracked you down when you first moved here, would you have even talked to me?”
“You could have chopped my hand off and I’d still have begged to talk to you,” he admitted.
She pulled him closer and they stayed there until a rumble from Jughead’s stomach crept between them. “If you want breakfast you’ll have to let me go,” Betty mumbled.
“Never,” he said.
Betty cupped his face and kissed him hard. His hunger quickly forgotten, Jughead slid his hands down her side until they grazed her thighs. He pulled her closer to him and she took the invitation to wrap her legs around him. With little effort, Jughead lifted her onto the counter and peppered kiss down her neck. She sighed when he nipped at her collarbone.
A loud banging on the front door interrupted them, and Jughead spun around to face the kitchen entrance. Through the thin t-shirt she could feel his heart hammering in his chest.
“Surely not,” he muttered. “Your mother’s still in Riverdale, right?”
Betty snorted. He glanced back at her and they both laughed at the memory. “I’ll be right back,” she promised. She pressed a kiss to his check and slid off the counter. He mumbled something about interruptions and Betty heard the refrigerator door open.
She made her way to the front door and opened it just enough to see who it was only to find Kevin behind it holding a deli bag and a drink holder with two cups of coffee.
Kevin let out a frustrated groan. “You will not believe the week I’ve had. Mark still hasn’t called me back, and the casework has been backed up since Thursday. Everyone’s been pulling overtime with the election coming up. And that’s not even bringing up the fact that the dry cleaners ruined my good suit,” he paused when he realized Betty hadn’t opened the door any further. “Aren’t you going to let me in? I brought breakfast.”
“Did he bring enough for everyone?” Jughead called from the kitchen.
Kevin’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped. “You naughty girl,” he whispered.He handed her the bag and the coffee and winked at her. “Take this, I think you need it more than me. Call me with the deets or I’ll get them from Ronnie,” he ordered as he walked backwards down the hall, holding up his hand, thumb and pinky finger extended to mimic a phone as she closed the door behind her.