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Beautiful Believer

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Jughead Jones was inspired. The words were flowing out of him. Across the room, Archie was in a similar position- legs stretched out, notebook (or laptop) in lap, writing away- both boys quiet. They had both agreed that tonight they would put aside their homework and work on their passions.

He heard his best friend start to hum a tune, and then pause, scribble something down, and then he would stare at it, hum again and move on. Jughead couldn’t help but chuckle, he knew that when Archie got to this stage in the writing process, he would soon be privy to the words meeting guitar, and that was always interesting.

Jughead himself was on a writing binge. He hadn’t written this much in awhile. he knew why he was on a binge of course. Betty Cooper. She was his muse. Whenever he was with her a million ideas tended to float into his head, and would stay there until he got to write them down. Needless to say, the book was coming along.

Sure they had solved Jason’s murder, and Archie and Betty had vanquished the Black Hood, but that was not the whole book. The book was him, Betty, Archie, Veronica, Kevin, The Serpents, Riverdale and what was occurring there. It may have started as a book about Jason, but it had grown into something much more.

As I had once told my dad, before the Black Hood, before my Serpent initiation, it wasn’t a question of who done it, but a question of is Riverdale good or bad, and the answer seems to be leaning more and more to the bad- at least in my perspective. Jason Blossom’s death at the hands of his father changed Riverdale, it made the wound that the darkness was now seeping out of.

He himself had felt that darkness first hand, long before some of his friends, but now? Now they all felt it, and all were dealing with it in a different way.

Things between me and my Riverdale friends was finally better, not great, but better. I had Betty back, I had my best friend back, and we were finally getting somewhere together. My Serpent friends were slowly getting used to them- at least Archie and Betty- some days even I have to re-adjust to Veronica Lodge.

Veronica, it was clear to see, was Archie’s muse. I was staying with him tonight, and we had both come home from Pop’s with the girls and known we weren’t going to get anything else done until we had sufficiently utilized the inspirations they gave us. It was still new, this sharing my creative space, my creative habits with Archie, but it was nice.

I was adjusting to my life, my new life, much better than I had at first. I still hated school, still hated how much this town hated the Serpents (and seemed to forget about the Ghoulies) and how hard some people had it while others had it easy. The integration of Riverdale High and Southside High had brought this Civil War to the kids of Riverdale, and it was not pretty, but slowly my friends and I, on both sides of the line, were mending that rift for this generation.

If Archie Andrews could now sit and talk with the Serpent who punched him and stabbed Dilton Doiley, then meatheads like Reggie Mantle were a leg down on their “holy” quest to avenge the Bulldogs. Cheryl Blossom had been slowly brought under the influence of her own Serpent, and was slowly coming around- as much as she ever would. Change was happening and it was a beautiful thing. Some days it even felt calm in Riverdale, which hasn’t happened since before July 4th.

I was brought from this reverie and paused my writing when I heard the strumming start and Archie begin to perfect his latest song. The first thing I latched onto were the words, and its seemed like the sound itself had almost written itself out in his head this time, as there was very little pausing and tweaking before he would continue.

Rode into town at only 18 my girl beside me and her baby in a car seat

Everybody called me crazy

That was fine as long as I knew

She believed

Not a nickel to our name

Cheep motel east side of town just south of Main

Songs I wrote for change

And one day I’d be headlining the stage

She always keeps me hanging on when I feel I’ve lost my way

 She gives me strength when mine’s all gone

 

The lyrics of this song immediately brought Betty Cooper to my mind. As he paused and scribbled some things out in his sheet music book I reflected on my own Beautiful Believer.

Betty Cooper, the All-American girl next door, my girlfriend, one of my best friends, and my biggest support system.

The words first brought me back to that fateful night when Archie discovered my dad’s dark secret- my secret- and Betty first meet the infamous FP Jones. We had left the explosive baby shower hosted by the Lodge women to meet my father, and to ask him about Jason. After he revealed that the Serpents had given Jason the drugs, but claimed that he hadn’t killed him, we left him sitting in front of the TV, no doubt about to become more drunk.

She stopped me in the middle of my rundown trailer park, under one of the only working street lights and asked if I believed my father. I had responded that I did, and asked the same of her. She had blown me away many times before that moment, but it was the first time- aside from our first kiss- that I truly was at a loss for words.

“I believe you, Jughead.”

That was the first time in a very long time that I felt like I had someone in my corner. The first time she put to words how much she trusted me, how much she believed me and believed in me. It wouldn’t be the last. We had shared a similar moment a few days prior when I had felt something similar, granted it was buried below a healthy amount of fear. I had been brought in and held for questioning about Jason’s murder and thought I was going to be another falsely accused teen.

Then she had come into that terrible white room, taken my hand and said, “I was with you, I know who you are,” and then her and Archie’s dad had whisked me out, and she had seen how truly awful my father could be under the influence- and she still stuck around.

She then proceeded to become an integral part of my life. She defended me, saved my father from a long life in prison, and defended both of the Jones men, even when it was probably not safe to do so. She fought for us, when no else in Riverdale seemed to want to.

She had truly shocked me again, when after we solved the murder and Veronica and Archie once more came clean about their relationship and she just smiled serenely and said, “I’m with Jughead now.” It was in that moment I finally let myself believe that she truly was mine, and that would only be cemented the night of the Jubilee.

She not only defended me and my father in front of the whole town in her speech but then she told me she loved me when we were alone in my father’s trailer on the Southside. That moment, no matter what interrupted it later, is to this day, one of the best nights of my life.

Archie once again, after perfecting whatever he had written and the notes, moved onto the next section, and once again I couldn’t help but listen. My friend was very good, and this song was making me remember some of the lighter times with Betty, rather than the bad we had both been forced to remember quite often these last few weeks.

I just got the news today

You know that song I wrote for you has made its way

then oh so much has changed

You know the one thing that has always stayed the same

 

She gives me strength

when mine’s all gone

She always keeps me hanging on

When I feel I’ve lost my way

She leads me home

She doesn’t know how much I need her

A beautiful believer

 

I knew that Veronica had helped Archie through the mess that was his father getting shot more than I ever did. I had been swept into the beginnings of the path that lead to becoming a Serpent. That path would bring me pain, heartache, and danger; but it also gave me strength, friends that understood my childhood, and the ability to defend myself. The first time the Serpents and Betty clashed had cause some tension, but she would remedy that.

Betty had been helping me learn what real love looked like, but I don't think there was ever a sweeter moment between us than that night outside the hospital, after we learned that Fred would be okay, and she had denied a ride home on the bike. She stopped my leaving and told me that she supported me, whatever I needed to do, or explore. She was talking about the Serpents.

The whole reason I considered joining in the first place was because they offered me something that i felt I sorely lacked. I lacked a family. I hadn’t realized that I had a family in Betty. In Archie, even in Veronica Lodge and Kevin Keller. I was dealing with the final loss (or so I thought) of my father, and I had already lost a mother and a sister, I decided to join another family- a link to the father that was about to go to prison. When I was handed that cut that night of the Jubilee, I felt what I wondered if my dad felt. Power and safety. Two things that until I joined the Serpents, I had never really had.

She gave me the okay to be open about my thoughts and ideas regarding the Serpents and my possible initiation. I didn’t handle it well, but her saying she supported me meant the world. She was invested in me, in the things I cared about, and the things I believed in.

I had no idea until after the night she planned for Pop’s that she was so invested in saving it, not just for herself and our friends, but me especially because of the things I had already lost. She saved a home of mine; a place I felt I could be truly myself; because she understood more than anyone else how influx the rest of my life was.

So much has changed since our early days. I am a Serpent now. Betty and I have fought, broken up, gotten back together and pushed each other away, only to come back stronger but even when we were apart, she never gave up on me; not completely.

She helped me, when I drag raced Malachi. I was so angry, at her, at Archie, at the world; and yet Betty Cooper got me a car, fixed said car to help me win, and told me she didn’t think she could ever stop loving me. She has no idea, to this day, what those words did to me- then and now. Then it was twisted with anger and grief. I thought she was rubbing salt in an incredibly fresh wound. Now? Now it shows me exactly how much I mean to her. She would reinforce her belief, her support, so many times after (and had before) that race, but that day stands out.

She not only fixed the car, gave me racing tips, but she also jumped into a car being chased by the police to ensure that I got away. That alone was a statement, one that should have triggered some realizations (as her statement about loving me should have) but I was so wrapped up in my own shit that I didn’t notice her own problems, her own demons. But her and Archie were able to vanquish the demon she was trying to protect me and so many others from.

Archie picked up the guitar once more, and played the next verse and chorus through to the end, not knowing the thoughts it was invoking. Totally wrapped up in his own thoughts, and no doubt memories, of the Raven haired heiress.

Beautiful Believer

Every time I doubt myself

before I even ask for help

She’s right there next to me

A Beautiful Believer

 

Every night I close my eyes

Just knowing that she’s by my side

That’s all I really need

She gives me strength

when mine’s all gone

She always keeps me hanging on

When I feel I’ve lost my way

She leads me home

She doesn’t know how much I need her

A beautiful believer

 

She doesn’t know how much I need her

A beautiful believer

 

Betty Cooper was my beautiful believer. I know, especially now, that with her on my side I could get through anything. I could get through this probation with the serpents. I could get through (and help her get through) what her mom, her brother, my dad, and the pair of us had done. I could get through this Civil War and anything else Riverdale would throw at us because I had her.

After telling her some of the darkest moments of my young life; what I had done to Penny, what I had done with Toni; she gave me all of her. I gave her all of myself because in that moment on that godawful couch my mom bought for three bucks at a garage sale, I realized that I didn’t want to do anything else, go through anything else, without being able to say that Betty Cooper was my girlfriend, that she loved me.

Giving her all of myself, in a moment so different from the night of FP’s party, cemented my belief that she was the one for me. I was done pushing her away for her safety. I was done giving up on myself, and on us. When she accepted my plea to stay, I knew she was forgiving me, or at least starting to forgive me, for all the pain I had put us through.

Through all of it, even when we were apart, she was always there for me. But Betty Cooper was a beautiful believer for more than me.

She was a believer in Archie and his dreams, in Veronica and her quest to become something better than her parents (especially now that she knew the truth), a believer in my father and his long road to sobriety. Hell, she believed that Riverdale could come back from everything it had seen and done.

I wasn’t to sure about that, but if she believed it, I was inclined to believe that it's true. Betty may have her own problems, her own battles and demons to conquer, but she was above all else, a believer in the best of oneself, and the best of people.

Like Archies song says- she gives me (and others) strength to do the things I have to do, the things I want to do regardless of what other people think. She gives me (and others) hope when I have lost my own. She leads me home; home to her, to my father, to our friends. Hell, at this point she is home for me. She is my muse. She is my everything.

When I’m with her, I am my best self. Together we will get through this war, get through high school, get through any serpent drama, because together we make a hell of a team.

“So what do you think Jug? Is it any good? Do you think Ronnie will like it?” I grinned at my best friend, “It’s great Arch, I think Veronica will love it.” His easy smile appeared and he began playing the song through from the top and I just leaned back, watching him get lost in it once more.

The writing was no longer flowing, but as I closed my eyes and listened to him, I had the slideshow of Betty and I, our best and worst moments, all playing in my head. All I could do was smile and remember, and hope, that she would always be my beautiful believer.

A Beautiful Believer.

That is what Betty Cooper is for Jughead Jones.

That is what Veronica Lodge is for Archie Andrews.