Betty sat crying in the closet, knees pulled up to her chest, the denim of her jeans jamming into her cheeks as her tears soaked them. Her longest dresses kept batting into the back of her head while she rocked. She tried to be quiet - she didn't want Jughead to hear. It wasn't his fault . . .
That first time he had responded to physical stimulation it was bad times. They had just been innocently cuddling on the couch, watching TV at their new place, finally free of their parents. They were adults now and they were reveling in the thrill of making it on their own – together.
He had his arms around her as she lay on top of him, and they shared the softest of kisses, which was no longer an uncommon occurrence. It had taken years before he had even been comfortable kissing her . . . but he was happy they could now, glad they could share that one intimacy.
But then something happened. He knew she felt it too, lying on top of him like that. He started to panic. "Betty, get off me!"
She was too slow. Too close. He didn't want to be touched. He almost shoved her off of him.
"Jug, are you okay?" her eyes were frantic as she reached for him.
"No!" he yelled and quickly backed away from her. He started pacing in front of the TV, agitatedly running his hands through his hair.
"Juggie, it's okay, it happens."
"No," he said as his chin started to quiver. "Not to me. This can't happen to me."
And then the tears started coming.
"Jug," Betty reached out for him and helped break his fall to the floor as he dropped to his knees. He wailed in her arms as she held him, rocked him, cradled his head. "Shhh . . . Juggie. Someday it will be alright. Someday it will be okay.."
"I . . . I can't," he said, sounding strangled. "I can't go back there. I can't do it!"
"You don't have to," Betty said quietly.
"But when this happened before . . ." he gulped before continuing. "She told me I wanted it, Betty. That I wanted her and her disgusting . . . "
"I didn't want it," he balled up his fists and slammed them into his sides. "I didn't want it. I don't ever want it. Please don't make me."
"Jug," Betty said, making him look at her, running a thumb along his cheek to wipe away the tears. "I'll NEVER make you. Ever."
That just brought more tears and he hugged her fiercely. Whispering into her hair he asked, "Promise?"
"Yeah, Juggie, I promise. You don't ever have to do that again. No matter how your body responds."
And now here they were, many months later. Almost a year in fact. With Betty crying in the closet. She felt so unloved. She knew why Jughead would turn away at the slightest inkling of getting too close – if he got excited at all he was a wreck – but it still hurt like hell to be rejected over and over and over again.
Innocent kisses were interrupted and he would abruptly shove her away. If she hugged him too close, in the wrong way – which she was still trying to figure out what that even was – he would promptly disengage. He wasn't even excited when these things would happen. She wasn't even really sure he COULD get excited most of the time - he was just afraid of the possibility. Terrified.
But it made her feel so alone, so disconnected from him. Sure, their brains connected and they could talk about anything. He would tell her he loved her, and he supported her, he defended her. But a huge piece was missing. There were times she ached to get closer to him. To feel him touch her in ways that were more than platonic, more than just gentle kissing.
He passed by their room on the way to the bathroom and heard the quiet sobbing. He poked his head in and didn't see her.
But then he heard it, from behind the closet door. Another sob.
"Betty?" he said, and walked in to their room.
"Go away!" she screeched.
"Betty? Are you - ?"
"Go the fuck away, Jughead I mean it!" She sobbed loudly before continuing. "I want to be alone. Just leave me the fuck alone!"
"Okay," he said softly, but he didn't mean it. He sat down on the floor and leaned back against the wall nearest the closet door. He just sat there silently and waited - deciding to stay until she was all cried out. He had no intention of leaving her alone like this.
Warning: You guys are NOT going to like where this chapter goes … but don't worry, Betty & Jughead will figure it out. Please bear with me and keep reading.
"Betty, I think maybe you should have an affair."
"Excuse me?" she asked, flabbergasted.
"Just a sexual one." Jughead looked at her a little sheepishly. "I think you need to find someone who can provide you with what I can't. I want you to be happy, Betty. Satisfied."
"Are you kidding me?" she practically yelled. "No!"
"Betty, listen to me. You obviously have needs – "
She interrupted him. "Oh my God . . . Just the fact you're even saying that shows you don't even really understand."
"My 'needs' are for YOU, Jughead."
He blanched, so she continued carefully.
"I'm sorry if that makes you uncomfortable, but YOU turn me on, Jug. Because you love me – because I love you. Because our hearts are connected."
He gulped as she took his hand tentatively.
"I want you to understand that I only want to have sex with YOU." She saw the panic in his eyes. "Which we won't, don't worry. But I only want this because we have a bond. A bond that I wish we could strengthen through intimacy even though I know that's the last thing you want. I'm sorry, but I can't help how I feel."
She cried a little and he squeezed her hand back.
"What if you have a bond with someone else?" Jughead asked after a little bit.
"What do you mean?"
"Betty, I don't want you to remain a virgin just because you've chosen to be with damaged ol' me. Don't you want to experience it? If you have a bond – even a slight one – with someone else – maybe you can have sex with them."
"No." Betty stood up and walked away from him. "I can't believe you're even suggesting that."
But Jughead wouldn't let it go. And somehow, he eventually managed to convince her to try it. So, during the nights when she would lie in bed with him, riled up from some truncated hug or kiss and his sweet words of love, she would seriously consider the possibilities. Maybe she could close her eyes and imagine she was with him.
One name kept coming to mind over and over. Archie. Her first love . . . er, puppy love.
He was recently single again . . .
He knew when she left that night that she was leaving to have that affair that they had discussed. She hadn't said a word, but he knew. He gave her a hug that lingered before she walked out that door - he didn't want it to end. He knew he was losing a piece of her, but he had to let her go. He didn't want to be the one to hold her back because of his own fucked up problems – and the guilt had been eating him up.
She was gone for HOURS. He was restless. TV, no book, no writing, no video games. Ugh. He threw the controller down and ran his hands through his hair. He hoped she was with Archie. Out of all of the possibilities he knew his best friend was the only one who might actually treat her well. Please God, let her be with Archie.
But then certain images came to mind . . . Red hair falling onto her skin, her forehead, their sweat mingling. Oh God, would they kiss? No, he couldn't bear to envision it. Back to video games.
When he heard her car pull up, he didn't greet her. Just stayed in bed with his laptop, pretending to look busy. It didn't matter though. She didn't come to the bedroom. She went straight to the bathroom and turned on the shower.
And remained in there way too long . . .
Betty hiccuped and turned the key in the ignition off. She stumbled out of the car and lurched a bit as she made her way inside. She purposefully did not seek out Jughead, instead making a beeline for the bathroom. She managed to turn the shower on before she vomited. Thank God. She didn't want him to hear that. She had drunk WAY too much. She had needed to drink . . . to get through.
"You sure you want to do this?" Archie had asked. "And that Jug's okay with it?"
"Yeah," Betty said, a little sadly. "It was his suggestion actually. Because – you know."
"Yeah, I get it. But you don't sound okay with it."
"I think Jug's right." Betty shrugged. "This is something I should experience. And I'd like to experience it with you."
"Okay, then. How should we do this?"
Betty took another huge gulp of her drink and handed the empty tumbler to Archie. "Refill?"
When he brought back her freshened drink she said, "We should probably start like normal people do, Archie. With kissing."
"Okay." He leaned in to kiss her and it didn't feel like the kiss of her dreams, the one she would lay in bed and think about for what felt like half her youth. It was just lips. And they weren't Jughead's.
She tried to get her head in the game. Okay, she used to like Archie that way, and she still cared about him. There had to be something here she could work with. She realized that she didn't want to fantasize about Jughead to get through – that felt like a violation. She broke from the kiss and downed her second drink. Then she held out the tumbler to Archie. "More please."
She peeled off her clothes and uncharacteristically just left them in a pile on the linoleum floor of the bathroom. She slowly took off each of her earrings, and took a good look at herself in the mirror. She was ashamed.
She stepped into the shower and turned it up as hot as it would go, scalding herself. She squeezed her hands into fists and dug into her palms, drawing blood. She couldn't believe she had let Jughead talk her into this. She couldn't believe she let Archie go so far . . .
She stood there with clenched fists and let the tears pour down, mingling with the shower spray. She didn't even hear Jughead come in. She was too lost in thought and shivering in the now cold water.
She had finally gotten drunk enough to let Archie go farther than just kissing. His lips were on her neck, trailing down her chest . . . he finally unbuttoned her blouse and freed her breasts from her bra as he ground against her. She felt him through his pants, wishing he was Jughead, but she tried hard not to think about that.
Archie had kept asking if it was okay to keep going the entire time, ever the gentleman. But suddenly, as his hand moved over her now exposed breast, it just wasn't. She sat up and told him no. They had already gone too far . . . and she felt sick with regret.
She ran out drunk into the night. And drove home that way.
"Betty?" Jughead asked. And without meaning to, he startled her. Through the glass of the shower, he could see that she had jumped back at the sound of his voice. Something was wrong. Without even thinking he rushed to her and held her to him. He could smell the overpowering stench of alcohol that filled the small space from her breath alone. He stood under the shower head with her, fully dressed, getting soaking wet. She was naked in his arms, shivering, crying.
And it started . . .
"No," she cried out when she felt it, grasping onto him. "Please don't pull away."
"Betty – "
Her tears came down in earnest. "I need you right now. Please don't reject me, Juggie. Please. I don't think I could take it."
His heart was racing. He was trying to hold down the panic. For her. Trying to be okay with what his body was doing. He managed to keep his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. "Okay, I won't."
"Please don't push me away anymore, Jug," she pleaded. "It's okay. You've got to know I would never hurt you. I would never make you do something you didn't want to."
"Okay," he said and he believed her. They clung to each other in that shower until her tears finally subsided. He gently toweled her off, and ran a comb through her hair.
After he tucked her into bed and joined her on the other side, she told him about what had happened with Archie. He was relieved that they hadn't gone very far - relieved for her because she seemed really upset. He couldn't imagine what would have happened if they had gone all the way.
"I can't believe you made me do that, Juggie."
He gulped as the guilt overwhelmed him. The way he had found her in the shower she had looked almost . . . violated. Had he really done that to her? She had been so good with him . . . So patient . . .
"I'm sorry," he whispered. "Never again. I'll never ask you to do something like that ever again."
"Never again. I'll never ask you to do something like that ever again."
Jughead tried to stay silent on the kissing thing – he knew it wasn't Betty's fault – but one night it just all came to a head.
"Just like you, I can't help my feelings," he seethed. "It pisses me off that you and Archie kissed. I know he was your first love."
"He was not - you were!" Betty protested. "Besides Jug, it already happened. I can't change the past. If it helps at all, the whole time I only wanted to be kissing you. . ."
"Oh. So, you were thinking of me while you were kissing HIM?"
"Jug it wasn't like that."
"What was it like, huh?"
"His lips weren't yours." She frowned, fidgeted, and looked down. "It was a huge disappointment."
"Oh," the angry wind fell out of his sails. And then quietly, insecurely he asked, "Really?"
She nodded. "Yeah."
"C'mere," he said as he took her into his arms. He kissed her for the first time since that night in the shower. When the kiss broke, so did his voice as he said, "Please save this for me. It's the only intimacy I can give you."
"I will," she said softly as they touched noses and swayed in each other's arms. "I promise."
They were eventually able to find a bit of a rhythm between them that helped Betty to not feel so rejected. Sometimes, like Betty, he would want to linger when they would touch and other times it was out of his comfort zone, but he no longer pushed her away in panic from a kiss or a hug that would seemingly go on too long. But then there was that rare occasion when he would unexpectedly get excited, and when that would happen, it tended to go down like it had the first time.
"Keep holding me Jug, please. I'm not going to hurt you."
"Okay," he gulped and looked up at the ceiling, trying to steady his breathing.
She touched his face softly. "I will never make you do anything you don't want to - no matter what. It's okay. You're safe with me."
He hated being betrayed by his own body like this. He definitely wasn't in the mood – he was never in the mood - so why did this happen?
Slowly but surely, he got through enough of these episodes to realize that he really was safe with Betty. She would never force him. Ever. She truly understood that he didn't want to have sex. But after a while he began to think . . . didn't she still want sex? Even though everything had gone so terribly wrong with Archie . . .
"Don't you ever . . . you know?"
"You're a grown woman . . . don't you want more than just hugs and kisses?"
"Not if it means I can't have you," she replied without hesitation.
"But don't you still want that . . . connection you spoke about?"
"With you, yes. But that's not on the table for us." She pouted a little but looked down in an effort to hide it, trying not to look sad.
"I'm sorry I can't give that to you, Betty."
"Look, Jughead, we've been over this. You give me what you can and I accept it. I love you. I can make that sacrifice for you."
He groaned. "But I don't want you to have to sacrifice."
"Well, I do." She shrugged. "I'm not going to sleep with someone else. Especially after that debacle with Archie –"
"I'm not asking you to. I just –"
"Don't worry about it, Jug. This is who we are. This is where we are at. There's not much we can do about it."
He had an idea. It involved a computer, some research, and a delivery. He was over the moon when the package arrived. He hoped he had chosen something she liked. He put it under their bed.
"You're grinning ear to ear." She smiled when she got home. "What's up?"
"I want to connect with you," he said, taking her hand.
"Wha -?" She let him drag her down the hallway to their bedroom.
"Now," he said seriously as he sat down with her on the bed. "I want to be very clear. This is not going to lead to sex – and please don't touch me first – let me take the lead."
"Okay," she said carefully.
"I need to be in control and you can't touch me there no matter what."
"I understand completely," she said and nodded solemnly.
"I just want to give you some of the connection you've been wanting." He paused, looking into her beautiful eyes as he trailed his fingers along her hairline for a second before settling them on her cheek. "I love you and I'm going to try to get through this for you. You shouldn't be the only one making a sacrifice."
And with that he caught her lips in a kiss that was harder than their usual gentle ones and moved his hand up her back slowly. He felt her shudder beneath him. He moved his lips to her neck and she moaned.
"Juggie . . . are you sure?"
"About this," she practically whined. "You're making me really excited."
"Yes. That's the point." He laughed a little before biting into her neck.
"Oh. My. God."
His hand trailed over her breast and down to her waist. She whimpered, arched against him, and then his lips were back on hers as his hand came up to her cheek.
"Hold that thought," he said suddenly and reached under the bed, pulling out what he had bought for her. He was grinning like a fool when he presented it to her.
"Jug, ah . . . is that a vibrator?"
"Yes!" he said ecstatically and then rattled off all of its features, emphasizing which ones the online reviews had seemed to like best, and why he specifically picked out this one for her.
"Well, it is pink," she said as she took it from his hands. "And I do like pink."
"There was a purple one, too. I thought you'd prefer the pink one."
"I do, Juggie, but I don't know what to say."
"Just, well," he blushed a little. "Think of me, okay?"
And apparently, she did. Jughead could hear her all the way from the living room screaming out, "Yes! Juggie yes! Oh my God. YES!"
He grinned, happy he could finally satisfy her.