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What You Deserved

Chapter Text

The ride back from the penitentiary was over two hours, Betty and Jughead had fallen asleep about an hour into the drive, Bettys head resting neatly on Jugheads lap as his was lolled against the window.

Alice kept her hands tight on the steering wheel, when the kids were awake the car was full of talking, Betty and Jughead interacting with FP, and Alice only speaking when it was necessary.

But now they were asleep, the silence was almost deafening.

“So.. Ace” FP started speaking “Why’d you tag along with the pick-up crew?”

Alice visibly flinched at the nickname, something FP noticed and smiled at “We left at 6am, I didn’t want the kids getting a cab that early in the morning, plus some cabbies can be weird about that and might not have wanted you in there”

FP nodded and bit his lip “Could have asked Hal”

Alice laughed “It’ll be a cold day in hell when Hal agrees to do something for you” He shoulders felt looser.

“That’s true. How are you and Hal by the way?” He watched as her knuckles when white on the steering wheel.

“We’re managing” She lied unconvincingly. “You and Gladys?”

FP sharply inhaled “We’re getting divorced.”

Alice looked over to him “I’m sorry to hear, What about Sythia?”

“She prefers JB now, and I knew it was coming. We haven’t lived together for almost three years now, haven’t seen each other in about two, I don’t know if she’s gonna let me anywhere near Jellybean after this. I called from inside and she wouldn’t even let me speak to her, and the awful thing is,” FP turned to look into the back seat, checking his son hadn’t woken. “She doesn’t want Jug.”

Alice slowed the car down and turned her head briefly “What do you mean, how can she not want her son?”

He rubbed his face “Apparently Jug called her not long ago saying he was going to come down and see her, and she doesn’t want that right now. She’s been talking to Mary whose undoubtedly been spinning lies about the town in her ear and apparently she doesn’t want JB exposed to any of it, and that includes Jug.”

Alice scoffed “Mary Andrews. God. I’ve hated her since high school. It was a nightmare when she moved in next door and I had to pretend we were old friends.”

Now it was FPs turn to laugh “I remember, the nights us four spent down in Freds dads basement, you and her were so sour, what even happened between you two?”

Alice waved her hand “It’s not important”

“C’mon Ace,” he pushed “It’s been years”

Alice squinted at him “You’re right, itn has been years. Stop calling me Ace. and it’s stupid, really.”

“I wanna hear it” He’d missed talking to Alice like this.

Alice contemplated, glancing her eyes up to the rearview mirror, both kids seemingly still asleep. She sighed and gave in.

“She had a crush on you.” she said fast.

Forsythe Pendleton Jones II laughed, loud. Alice almost span the car trying to get him to shut up, she looked back at the kids, still somehow sound asleep.

“Shut up FP!” She whisper-yelled “They need the sleep!”

FP wiped his eyes and stopped laughing, looking back at the kids “They’re fine. I wanna hear more about this, you didn’t like Mary, and still don’t like her to this day, because she had a crush on me?”

Alice “When you put it like that it sounds stupider than it was. I knew you wouldn’t have cheated on me with her, but she always acted like she could steal you away, and well, Mary was beautiful, hasn’t aged well though.” She said smugly.

“Now now Ace, don’t be rude”

She sighed again, stopping at some traffic lights and turned to him “I was a jealous, insecure, scared teen who was afraid of losing the boy she loved to some hopped up northside rich girl”

FP was silent, not used to the raw honesty laced in Alice’s tone. “Yet, somehow, I was the one to lose you.”

They both sat in silence, staring at each other, the green light illuminated the side of JPs face and Alice turned away, starting up the car and moving off. After another ten minutes of silence, Alice spoke up again. “You didn’t have to lose me. You could have fought”

“I would have lost” FP quipped back, harshly.

“You don’t know that” the words scratched on her throat.

FP turned to face her, her eyes glued to the road as he studied her, knuckles once again white against the steering wheel, chest puffed out holding a breath she probably didn’t know was in there.

“I do know that” He replied “I know that I’m the exact opposite of what you wanted out of life, it was fine when we were younger, in line to be the leaders of the Serpents, but you grew up Alice. You grew up beautiful, talented, smart. I couldn’t offer you the life you deserved. I wasn’t about to fight Hal for you when he was everything you needed to succeed in life, to get out of the serpents and the southside.”

“I never told you that was what I wanted” Alice kept her gaze on the road “Maybe I wanted something different from what I deserved.”

FP scoffed “We’ve known each other our whole lives Alice, we practically grew up side-by-side in the Whyte Wyrm, I knew you inside and out.” Figuratively and literally, he almost added “You may have been happy with your life, but as soon as we started at Riverdale High, I saw you Alice. You fit like a glove in that world, and as soon as Cooper started noticing you, I knew he was your way out.”

Alice almost slammed on the breaks before remembering that their children were in the back. “Is that why you broke up with me? To give me this life. The reason you said those things that day?” She was almost crying, but stopped herself. She didn’t want to show him how much he still affected her. “You broke my heart that day.”

FP “It was the intention. The desired outcome, no matter how much I didn’t want it.”

“That wasn’t your choice to make FP.” She was angry. “I loved you so much.”

“I loved you too” I still do, he almost added again. “But without that, you wouldn’t have Betty or Polly.”

Alice glanced back to Betty in the back seat. “But I would still have our son.” she said quietly.

“What?” FP froze “What did you just say?”

Betty stirred in the back seat.

“Nothing.” Alice replied.

“What do you mean, our son?” FP said angrily.

Alice looked in the mirror to see Betty and Jughead beginning to wake up in the back seat of the station wagon. “We can’t do this now.”

“Goddamn it Alice” FP spat, but even he wasn’t an idiot, he knew in front of their kids was not the place to hash this out. “We’re talking about this later. Today.”

Alice nodded, not looking forward it at all.

Chapter Text

Later came a lot sooner than she had expected, She'd spent last night at the Wyrm avoiding FP in fear he might make her talk about what she had said, but he didn't even speak to her, in fact it seemed like he was also actively avoiding her.

Maybe he had more important things on his mind.

It was lunch time on sunday at the Cooper house when a knock came to the door, Hal offered to get it which nobody challenged him on, until FP appeared in their kitchen

“Alice, FP here wants to talk to you” Hal said, not even hiding the disdain in his voice.

She sighed and wiped her mouth. “Finish without me, We'll be gone a while.”

Alice stood up and walked over to FP “I need to get some things, I'll meet you at the Wyrm.”

“Seriously Alice, the Wyrm?” Hal exclaimed from the doorway ”What possible business do you have with him that takes you back to that dump?”

FP glared at Hal and grumbled a reply to Alice before making his exit, Alice turned to Hal “I’ll be a couple hours. Max. There's some legal papers I have to sort through at the Wyrm” she lied easily.

“After 25 years you still have a stake in that place?” Hal huffed “Just give him your damn shares”

Alice's eyes went dark “It was my fathers bar, I'm not giving it up” and that's not even the issue, she thought. She glanced over to Betty who was sat silently, clearly in shock that the Wyrm had at some point belonged to her mom. “I'll be back for dinner”

Alice went upstairs to grab the “documents”, she came down with a manila folder and said her goodbyes, to Hal and Betty the documents in the folder were that of ownership, but to Alice, they were documentation of her sons birth.

She pulled up at the Wyrm 25 minutes later, her attire completely different from that of the night before, she greeted Tall Boy at the entrance who was shocked to see her back again after bumping into her the night before, he looked her up and down “I definitely prefer last nights outfit over this one” he smirked.

Alice rolled her eyes and pushed past him, entering the bar. A lot of eyes were on her from the second she walked in, ignoring them she scanned the booths and tables for FP before the bartender, Shackal, spoke up.

“He's upstairs, Ace”

“Alice” she corrected, though she knew her actions last night were everything but the actions of ‘Alice’.

“Ace” he insisted. “Door to the left, I'm sure you remember the way.”

“I lived there for Seventeen years, Shack. I know the way” she retorted before turning on her heels and stalking towards the stairs, she wasn't used to the creaking beneath her feet on every stair, the wallpaper she’d put up with her father when she was young was flaking off, age had hit this place hard.

She approached the door and took a sharp intake of breath, not sure what to expect out of the home she used to know so well.

Alice pushed the door open, it wasn't fully shut, and took the first look in 25 years at the place she grew in.

“God” she felt like she could barely breathe, nothing much had changed at all.... The furniture was mostly the same, weatherd and older, but still familiar. The couch was different indicating someone had probably been been living up here, which made sense as she moved out 25 years ago. She took more steps into the apartment and froze as she came face to face with a wall of pictures. Tears filled her eyes as old family photos graced them, her parents, her younger self, memories she’d not shared in her new life as they were so clearly from a different world.

She approached a specific picture: Three people, two adults, one child, all with their backs to the camera. The girl was Alice, maybe 6 or seven, wearing an oversized Serpent jacket, matching the ones her parents wore. She remembered that day, her mom and dad presented her with the jacket and she was so happy, they had told her she wasn't allowed to wear it until she was older, but little Ace refused their rules and didn't take it off until the day she left.

Alice raised her hand to touch the photo as someone cleared their throat behind her. She span fast, suddenly feeling like a stranger in a hostile environment. She locked eyes with FP and exhaled in relief.

“Sorry, I just” why was she apologizing? They were her photos.

FP raised his hand to stop her before gesturing to the sofa. “We’re here to talk about our son” he said as he sat down.

Alice nodded and took the manila folder out of her bag, handing it to FP. He took it and began to undo the string.

“Before you open it” Alice stopped him by putting her hand on his “as far as I'm aware, he's fine. I just changed the adoption agreement a few years in. Originally it was an open adoption, well not so open that I know his name or his location, but they’d send me photos every year. After four years it was too hard so I closed the adoption,” she removed his hand from his “so that's why there's only some photographs.”

FP nodded, opening the folder and pulling out the first thing, a birth certificate.

CHIC JONES
DATE OF BIRTH: 5/23/93
PLACE OF BIRTH: GREENDALE GENERAL HOSPITAL
SEX: MALE
MOTHER: ALICE ELIZABETH SMITH
FATHER: FORSYTHE PENDLETON JONES II

“My names on the certificate” He said in shock “I was expecting Hals”

Alice looked away from him “Hal asked to be named, but I figured if anything ever happened to me and he somehow wanted to find his birth parents, I wanted his real fathers name on there”

FP nodded “Why Chic?”

She laughed “It's what I called him, in my stomach. My little Chick, they asked what to put on the birth certificate. I didn't want to name him because giving him away was already hard enough, but Baby Boy Jones seemed so impersonal, like we didn’t love him, so I went with Chic… I thought it looked cooler without the K”

FP smiled a bit “It does.”

He tipped the envelope up, pictures pouring out, more than he expected. On the top if the pile was a polaroid of Alice, younger, in a hospital bed with a baby in her arms.

“Wow..” FP breathed “This was?”

“About an hour after he was born. I had a sympathetic midwife who snuck in her camera for me” Alice grabbed another picture, a close up of a small baby with not alot of hair.

FP took the photo from her gently, trying to hold back the tears forming in his eyes. Alice had already noticed he is eyes getting wet, but pretended to ignore it for his dignity.

FP turned to Alice “Can I have copies of the pictures?”

Alice chewed on her bottom lip before nodding “I’ll have them made tomorrow and bring them to you”

FP smiled, taking another photo from the table, he seemed to have jumped into the future, a small happy baby smiled for the camera, dirty blonde hair all over his face

Alice smiled “One of my favorites, I got it a few weeks after his first birthday, that and the ones of him up until that point, whoever his parents are were kind, the rules of the adoption was one photo each year sent to the agency to send to me, but on his birthday they sent twelve, one from each month.”

FP nodded as he looked through the photos, stopping on the one where the boy was the oldest, four.

He gasped and a tear fell. In the photo the boy was sat on a man's knee, they didn't know who the man was as his face wasn't in the photo, but he was securely holding him posed on an old antique motorcycle at what looked to be a museum.

His eyes were bright blue, like Alice's, but what hurt the most out of everything in the photo was the oversized leather jacket they’d put on him for the pose. FP could clearly see the costume box in the picture, but it made him feel sick.

He put the photo down like it had burned him. He couldn't understand why it made him so queasy, he’d taken lots of photos over the years of Jug and Jellybean on or near his bike, but the image of Chic on one made him feel sick.

“I saw that and stopped asking” Alice said quietly “I know it's just a museum or something, but it hurt to look at. All I could think was, that could have been you, showing him the ropes, even though the thought if him on a bike kills me”

So thats why it hurt, FP thought. “I get that. Breaks my heart now that Jug’s riding one.” Alice looked away as FP wiped his eyes. “Why’d you never tell me about Chic, Alice?”

Taking a deep breath, Alice stood up from the sofa. “Has anyone lived here since I left?”

FP furrowed his eyebrows “Stop avoiding the question”

“I’m not,” She looked over to the door that used to lead to her bedroom “Answer the question, it will help answer yours.”

“No” FP looked at her “Nobody lived here, I stayed up here for a few months after me and Gladys split before i bought the trailer, just bought a new couch to crash on though, the old one was falling apart.”

Alice nodded and stalked off to her old bedroom, emerging moments later with a piece of paper in her hands. “I wrote this. To you.” she held it closer to herself “It was sort of a rough script of how I was going to tell you I was pregnant.”

She handed it to him “I came downstairs one day, a few weeks before I went to the sisterhood, to pull you to one side and tell you… but you were with someone else and you looked happy,” He rubbed his hand over his beard as she continued “Gladys. You and her were smiling and kissing and my heart broke, and I thought ‘Oh, he’s moved on, he must have really meant what he said’ so I decided not to tell you because I thought I’d make things worse between us. I was 17 I won’t pretend it was the right decision, but back then I remember it felt like this would have destroyed your life.”

FP looked at her. “I don’t blame you. What I said… it was shit”

Alice laughed “I don’t think shit even begins to cover it FP” She sat back down beside him “I told Hal instead, he knew it was yours, we hadn’t even slept together at that point and he knew I wasn’t the type to sleep around. His parents gave me money to abort out son, but I refused it.”

FP felt himself beginning to get very angry “Typical Coopers, no offence.” he mumbled.

“None taken. He tried to do the same thing to Polly, so I kicked him out.”

FP clenched his jaw and locked eyes with her. “Have you thought about trying to find Chic?”

“Every damn day. It’s worse on his birthdays.” she replies truthfully.

“Why don’t we try then?”

Chapter Text

Driving home, Alice thought back to the conversation they’d had in the Wyrm weeks ago, gripping the steering wheel as hard as she’d done the day she’d picked him up from prison. Looking at the man beside her, she wondered if what they were doing was right, or selfish.

“Have you thought about trying to find Chic?”

“Every damn day. It’s worse on his birthdays.”

“Why don’t we try then?”

“You have gotta be kidding me, Forsythe.” she breathed out. “He’d be 23. He doesn’t need us coming into his life now, if he wanted to know us he’d have looked by now.” She went to stand up when his hand stopped her, pulling her back towards him.

“I’m being serious, Alice. I want to meet him, even if you don’t want to.”

“You think I don't want to?” she looked into his eyes as hers began to reach the brim with tears “I’ve wanted to find him ever since the second the social worker left my hospital room, I wanted to scream at her to stop and bring him back. But I couldn’t because he didn’t deserve the life I would have given him. Every minute of every day I remember him, when I gave birth to Polly I refused to hold her for two days because I was guilty for giving Chic away and keeping her. I had postnatal depression with both of my girls and it all stemmed from having to give him up” tears were running down her face.

FP raised his had up and wiped her cheeks “I’m sorry.” he whispered as he cupped her face, catching each tear as it fell.

Alice squeezed her eyes shut in effort to pull back the tears and dragged his hands off of her face “Don’t” she said, barely a whisper.

FP shuffled back, he almost forgot they were no longer teenagers. “Sorry…”

“Don’t be” Alice wiped her face, not caring for the makeup she was smudging. “It’s easy to fall back into old ways but… I can't do that to Hal.”

“No, I get it” he said standing up “I’m going downstairs”

“FP…” She tried to stop him a little too late. Wiping her face again she gathered all of Chics documents into the folder and followed him down into the bar.

Alice felt the eyes on her as she descended the stairs minutes after FP had, scanning the bar before taking the last step, she spotted FP talking to Tall Boy near the pool table.

She approached them slowly, Tall Boy nudged FP making him turn. “You leaving?”

“We’re not done. My answer is yes.”

“Yes?”

“I want to find him.”

FP stumbled back, a quick moment of vulnerability before stepping forward “You’re serious?”

Alice nodded. He grabbed her and hugged her. Now everyone was staring and talking in hushed tones, but she didn’t care as she hugged him back. They pulled away after what seemed like way too long for a friendly hug.

“I’ll come by the register tomorrow for the pictures.”

Alice nodded “Come between 2 and 3, Hals out on a business errand at that time, I’m going to tell him about out plans if anything comes from our search, but for now it’s just between us”

FP agreed, letting go of her shoulder. “See you tomorrow”

Alice left the bar and walked fast to her car, getting in and slamming the door before collapsing onto the steering wheel, sobbing.

She snapped back into reality as FP leant over and grabbed the wheel, swerving the car to miss a child crossing in the street. “Dammit, Alice.” He mumbled as he helped her get the car back on course “Where’s your head at?”

“Just thinking about this, are we being selfish FP?” She chewed on her lip and stopped at a light. FP put is hand on hers.

“Of course we are” he breathed “But that doesn’t change the face we’re doing it.”

Alice released her lip and moved the car on, turning left into the trailer park. She parked the car not far from his trailer and turned off the lights, the darkness of the evening encroaching on them. FP released her hand and moved his to her cheek, turning her head as he leant across to put a soft kiss on her lips, which she returned. He pulled his lips away but lent his forehead on hers, breathing her in.

“This is so selfish” She whispered, eyes squeezed shut “How are we ever going to explain this if we find him.”

FP laughed and wove his fingers through her hair “Something along the lines of: Hey, we’re your biological parents, no we’re not married to each other but are participating in an extra-marital affair, you have three half sisters and one half brother. Welcome to the dysfunction. Also I lead a gang.”

Alice pulled away and hit his shoulder “You are NOT telling him about the serpents right away”

“Oh? The rest of it was fine though?” He smirked.

She rolled her eyes and turned on the engine “Get outta my car.”

FP put his hands up as if to say ‘don’t shoot!’ before leaning forward fast and pecking her cheek, rushing out of the car before she could make any further objections.