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“Are you sure you can’t come over to study?”

 

Jughead sighs noisily through the phone for what seems like the umpteenth time since their call started. Betty can almost picture him gripping the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger, as he does when he feels frustrated or annoyed.

 

She’s tried pleading with him in every tone of voice she can come up with, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

 

“Betts, I really don’t think I can tonight. There’s business with the Serpents that I –“

 

Betty doesn’t give him a chance to finish the sentence, her own frustration with how things are between them lately making her snap.

 

“Fine, do what you have to do.”

 

She’s sick of him being so involved with the Serpents lately, even if admitting to that makes her feel a little guilty. She knows why he’s doing it, even if they haven’t really talked about it. She knows he’s found a family in the Southside gang, a feeling of camaraderie that he hasn’t experienced before—not ever. Still, Betty can’t help but feel like she’s being downgraded from his priorities and it hurts.

 

“Betty—“he pleads, his voice strained. She can hear motorcycles roaring to life in the background, the unmistakable sound of Jughead’s fellow Serpents getting ready for a ride.

 

“It’s okay, Jughead,” she placates, her Cooper breeding kicking in even if she feels like hanging up the phone on him, to make him feel a sliver of the hurt she feels on the inside. ” I get it, or I’m trying to anyway. Just call me if you get the time to, okay?”

 

This time, she clicks off the call before he finishes saying “I love you”.

 

 

***

 

It’s way past midnight but Betty’s still wearing the sweater and jeans combo she chose for school that day as she lays over her floral duvet, staring at the ceiling. She’s done her homework for the remaining days of the week, as well as getting a head start on 2 projects that aren’t due until the end of the semester. She’s also checked her phone approximately a thousand times by now, only to find a blank screen staring mockingly back at her.

 

In the 7 months that Jughead and her have started to trade “I love yous” never once has either of them not said it back in one way or another. Sure, sometimes he says it and she responds with just a kiss, or she says it and gets the most heartwarming smile sent her way, but there’s always some sort of acknowledgement of it, big or small.

 

It might’ve been a low blow to hang up on him as he was saying it, even if her only intention had been to be a little cruel – she doesn’t want him to ever think she doesn’t love him. She can’t fathom there being any alternative reality where Betty Cooper isn’t in love with Jughead Jones, no matter the circumstances.

This is why, when she checks her phone for the thousand and one time and actually finds a text from Jughead, she leaps to her feet so fast that her phone falls out from her grasp. She’s crouching down to pick it up from where it fell under her bed when she hears a thud.

 

Immediately, she straightens up, her heart thumping in her chest rapidly as her eyes narrow against the dark night outside her window, trying to make out the figure. Of course, it’s Jughead, the only person who has ever used her dad’s old ladder to climb up to her room.

 

She pads her way to the window, unlocking it to reveal her beanie-less boyfriend, sans leather too. Instead, he’s wearing her favorite Sherpa jacket, the one that reminds her of late afternoons snuggled up in their booth at Pop’s. 

 

“Hi, Juliet,” he whispers sheepishly, grunting a little when she moves from the window to allow him to step through.

 

“Juggie, what are you doing here?” she asks once he’s settled in her room, dusting off his pants with a hand and scratching the back of his neck with the other, all the while displaying a pained expression.

 

“I had to see you, I just—you hung up on me and I just thought you were really –“he breathes out, his voice getting louder with each syllable.

 

“I love you,” Betty blurts out, her hand reaching forward to grasp his fingers. She figures the Serpent issue can wait a couple of minutes, all she needs right now is to make sure he knows how much she means her words.

 

“I—wait what?” he stammers out, his eyes darting from her hand to her face, where a smile is beginning to form.

 

“I said, I love you,” she enunciates out, doing her best not to giggle at how flustered he looks. She does, however, let her grin blossom to the point where she knows her cheeks will hurt later if she keeps it up.

 

“I love you too, babe,” he responds simply, a smile escaping his lips even as his face portrays confusion. He shakes his head and takes a step back, taking a deep breath. “But wait, can you stop being so freaking cute so I can concentrate? I came here with a speech prepared in my mind and you’re not making any sense.”

 

“Mmm, me telling you I love you doesn’t make sense?” she teases, inching closer to him, her arms darting forward to loop around his neck. He places his hands on her hips, eyes narrowed suspiciously at her.

 

“No, that part makes sense. I just figured you were mad at me for not coming over,” Jughead drawls out, tilting his head to the side to stare down at her.

 

“I wasn’t,” Betty reassures him, stroking the hairs at the back of his neck. “I was more…frustrated. I still am, a little. But that’s something we can figure out together. I just—I felt really bad after hanging up on you because no matter how hard it gets or how little we get to see each other, it doesn’t change the fact that I love you, Juggie. And I needed you to know that.”

 

His expression softens, and he dips his head in order to peck her lips lightly. “I love you too, Betty, so much. For what it’s worth, I really am sorry about this whole mess with the Serpents. I talked to my dad about it, and I think things are going to change from now on.”

 

She smiles at him at that, burrowing her nose in the warmth of his neck.

 

Jughead sighs in contentment against the top of her head, and they stand like that in silence before he chuckles. “And to think I sped all the way here with a speech running through my mind in order to beg for your forgiveness. I was prepared to get on my knees if I had to.”

 

Betty giggles, tilting her head slightly so that her words are mouthed against the skin of his neck.

 

“That won’t be necessary, Juggie. The getting on your knees part, though, that does sounds very interesting—“