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Till the End

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“Alright, Archie why have you summoned me here?” The beanie-clad boy asked, resting against the wall closest to the door. His eyes were dark and narrowed, clearly conveying his frustration, which her presence essentially brought out. He looked like he was ready to bolt any second. She took in his appearance for a quick moment, not having actually been in such close proximity with him since…the breakup. His hat sat perfectly, protecting his dark curls. His eye bags had gotten worse, his eyes bloodshot with annoyance and tiredness, she guessed. Annoyance at the world her. His brows furrowed with irritation and his arm crossed over his chest defensively. His leather jacket still looked good fitting around his arms: she reminded herself that he was an absolute prick.

She scoffed, rolling her eyes, “Typical.”

“Excuse me?” He retorted. They always had been quick with each other.

She narrowed her own eyes, “I said typical, that you, Forsythe Pendleton Jones the third would think the world revolves around you, when in all fairness, we were all ‘summoned’.” She enunciated every syllable of his name just to piss him off further.

He grimaced at the use of his full name, “Typical of you to feel the need to comment on that.” In his head he cringed at his lame comeback but truth be told, he couldn’t quite think straight with her hands on her hips, in that little outfit. He hated thinking about what she was doing now that he wasn’t holding her down; who she was doing.

Before Betty could reply, Veronica looked up from her phone asking for a charger. She had been quietly sitting in the corner desk, texting away. Betty lent her one and awaited Archie’s speech.

“So are you going to get to the point today, Archiekins?” The raven-haired girl sat with her legs crossed by the plug socket charging her phone, admiring her nails, “Because some of us don’t actually have all day.”

Jughead couldn’t help but feel that was a dig at him when she gave him a glare. He knew the two girls hated him, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t reciprocated. The faster Archie got to the point the quicker he would be able to exit their presence.

Archie seemed distracted observing Betty’s small actions, such as redoing her ponytail or pressing down the creases of her Vixen skirt. This bothered Jughead because, whilst he was his oldest friend and he knew his best friend would never intentionally hurt him, Archie had a weak spot when it came to girls. Jughead and Betty had…history, so to speak, but Archie was a forgetful boy, who would honestly not recognise the uncomfort he would cause for Jughead by making a move on his…ex.

The only term you can describe her with a possessive adjective. How depressing.

The redhead cleared his throat, “Right, yeah, sorry, my point…so basically…I think…I think I want to pursue a music career…like I want to work on that again…I know it kind of died last time I tried, because I got caught up with…well, stuff with my dad and all…but I seriously think I can do it now, like I have the time…I just…What do you guys think?”

The apprehension was so clear in his brown eyes it was actually painful.

Veronica burst out laughing.

Betty bit her grin back.

Jughead raised his eyebrows, expressing a hint of amusement.

“What? What’s so funny?” He immediately asked, getting defensive as his cheeks burned red.

“Nothing-it’s not-it’s not funny-that’s not why-“ Veronica managed to get out.

Betty put a hand on his shoulder, redirecting his attention, and Jughead couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy. She looked so soft with him, so careful, so sweet. And the way he responded…his features immediately calmed down a notch. She just had that effect. This is what he had lost.

Well maybe if it was so easy to lose, he never really had it?

“It isn’t funny. It’s just slightly…you called this meeting because of your new hobby, right? I think we were just expecting something a bit more…” she spoke carefully and gently, thinking about the right words.

She never had to think about what she said with Jughead.

“Serious,” Jughead blurted. She shot him a glare which he ignored.

Archie blushed even more, practically becoming a tomato, “I just wanted…I just wanted support. I wanted to see what you guys thought? Like if I could do it or not. If it’s stupid or…Well, I guess it is.”

Veronica straightened her face, and the atmosphere of the room changed, “You can do it, Arch. I know you can. You do have a beautiful voice. But be prepared for a lot of teasing, okay? A major Troy Bolton moment like this never goes unnoticed.”

“Thanks Ronnie,” he gave her a smile of gratitude before turning to Jughead.

The moody boy sighed, “She’s right about the teasing. Look, man, if it’s what you want to do, go for it. You know I’ll always support you.”

But you couldn’t support me, Betty thought to herself when she caught eye contact with the brooding boy. He seemed to read her mind as he averted his gaze.

Betty wanted to make a snide remark about what his ‘always’ meant but she bit her lip for the sake of her red headed friend.

“Thanks man,” the two did that man hug thing with the fist bump before the pats on the backs. He then turned to Betty.

She smiled at him and Jughead couldn’t help but wonder, was that how she used to smile at him? Or was it different? Was she just the definition of fake? How could she so easily replicate a look? Was it even a replicate? He had forgotten the way he used to make her smile and that alone tugged at his heartstrings.

He despised Betty Cooper and the way, even after their desastrous ending, she had an effect on him like no one else.

“Betty,” the nervous boy awaited her response, hope in his eyes.

She grinned, “Of course you can do it! I know you can, Arch. You’re going to be great.” She didn’t have to say much to make him rejoice. Jughead understood that, just her smile was enough.

She squealed when he lifted her off her feet for a big hug, before saying, “I do have one question though…”

“Shoot,” he put her down on her feet.

“Why was it so necessary for you to call this meeting in the middle of lunch? Like why not just tell us at the table or something?”

‘Us’.

That kind of stung.

Ever since Betty and Jughead’s split, Jughead hadn’t found the need to sit with them at lunch: he didn’t fancy sitting with the jocks like Reggie or mean girls like Cheryl. Besides he didn’t fit in. He knew that. But for her to distinctly say ‘us’ without acknowledging Jughead at all caused him to feel a sharp pain in his organ called the heart.

“Well, to be honest, I didn’t want to be laughed at straight away,” he shot a glare at Veronica who shot her hands up in defence, “and well, if you guys thought I couldn’t do it…well I don’t think I would pursue it and that would just be embarrassing. So basically I just wanted to see your opinions on it first.”

Betty gave him another encouraging smile before enveloping him in a hug.

Veronica wasnt exactly paying much attention to their PDA as she was currently texting, her girlfriend most likely, leaving Jughead standing awkwardly by himself. He didn’t really know where to look but they were just hugging.

They were still just hugging.

He shuffled his feet uncomfortably.

How long does a hug take?

Apparently 8 years 268 days and 15 hours by the looks of it.

Does he need to be here to watch?

Or can he just leave?

Have they just forgotten about his presence then?

Well, most people do.

Jughead didn’t know what she saw in him. To be honest, he didn’t even know what was going on between them. Archie would tell him if they were dating, right? Or would he get nervous it would get weird between him and Jughead then?

What did Betty see in him anyway? He was just a major player. Yes, he was his best friend, but when it came to girls he was careless. Betty, despite being ignorant and a pain in his ass, didn’t deserve that.

It didn’t help that they hadn’t actually reconciled after their breakup-it was still raw and recent. Jughead was still hurting, a lot, but apparently Betty was over it.

Maybe she was just like the other preppy, cheerleaders.

Jughead knew better than that but maybe trying to believe that would make it easier.

Betty pulled away and immediately caught eye contact with Jughead. She looked guilty when his own dark eyes peered into hers in that brief few seconds.

She swallowed and looked away.

Why was she looking guilty?

Archie had been talking but apparently no one was actually listening to him. Veronica was preoccupied and Betty was looking at the floor to the right of her, deep in thought. But Jughead caught onto the last of his little monologue as he joked, “Alright then guys, you are free to leave.”

Jughead did his best to hold in his exasperated sigh of relief as he turned round to face the door, only to nearly be hit in the face by it. The door swung open to reveal Reggie.

“Dude! Do you know what’s going on?” He exclaimed. Alarm was written across his face as he entered the room.

He was quickly followed by a trio of Kevin, Sweet Pea and Fangs. Betty raised her eyebrow at this odd grouping, “What-“

“Betty!” Kevin took her in a huge hug, out of relief. “I have no idea what’s going on, but it looks like a massive storm or something. But there are all these bugs and shit, I don’t know. Principal Weatherbee gave me a bunch of fliers to hand out, here’s one I have left.”

“Stay where you are.

We will come and find you to give you supplies.

Do not panic.

There has been a weather warning regarding an extreme effect of climate change over a short period of time. This included fires breaking out, floods, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and others. There has also been an outbreak of a certain toxic gas across the town. The source is unknown. There may also been unclassified insects free in the air. Stay indoors till further updates.

You will be seen to shortly.

Do not panic.”

Chapter Text

Panic struck across the room.

Everyone looked at each other, eyes filled with fear.

They were speechless.

Well, what could one possibly say to make this situation better? If not better, tolerable.

Archie felt the need to take charge, due to some sort of masculinity concept, but really everyone knew Betty was the leader.

She always had been.

When people needed guidance, they would turn to her. The gears in her head worked so quickly and so well you could practically see them turn. She was wise, not impulsive. She could read the room, situation and everyone in detail before making a quick judgment.

Everyone respected her. Veronica, being a snobby rich girl all the while, would listen to Betty and value her opinion because she knew she was right and always looking out for her best interest. Archie would always agree with his blonde beauty simply because she was Betty. Kevin was another loyal supporter, always coming to her side, even for the smallest of battles. Sweet Pea and Fangs had a certain, unspoken respect for the girl. She had always been kind to them, even when the other Northsiders were aggressive towards them. She would help out at their southside garage, even when Jughead and her had broken up, simply because she wouldn’t let that get in the way of who she could be friends with. She always asked them how they were, how their families were, not out of courtesy but because she was interested; because she cared.

She was an innocent girl who everyone seemed to adore. 

Both Northsiders and Southsiders had this one thing in common: loving Betty Cooper.

Jughead was also a bright spark, and with Betty he would have taken charge at her side in a heartbeat. But their situation prevented him. Besides it didn’t look like she needed him anyway.

She swallowed before hurrying to the other side of the room to look out of the windows. She immediately began closing the open ones, “Let’s close these all first. Quick!” The sky was becoming a darker shade of orange with grey, ominous clouds growing in intensity. Nature’s grumbles threatened something far worse than rain. What that was? No one knew. But they didn’t want to find out.

They watched the trees, the plants, everything, be hit by gusts of wind larger than Jughead’s appetite. Bricks were falling all over the place, and pieces of timber were rolling away from the nearby woods. Signposts were knocked down, bringing traffic lights and electricity wires with them. Trees were falling, blocking roads. Everything was falling apart, and quick.

“Okay now, let’s push these desks towards the back wall. This way we can create space on this side of the room, and we’ll be safer if the glass breaks,” she explained as they obeyed her. 

An alarm went off on the speaker: “This is Principal Weatherbee. I am calling all students to remain where they are. Lock the doors. Stay away from the windows. Remain calm. We are unsure of certain technicalities but we will update you. So far it looks like an extreme storm of some sort, which has been fuelled by a toxic gas explosion. To repeat, remain calm. Do not go outdoors.

They had all been so distracted focusing on his words that they hadn’t even noticed when he left.

Veronica yelled after him, who had opened the door and ran out. He walked through the corridor, ruffling his dark hair out of nervousness.

Betty and Archie stood in line with Veronica, Jughead and Sweet Pea just behind, and then Kevin and Fangs in the doorway.

They exclaimed, “Reggie! What are you doing? Where are you going?”

He looked back at them, swallowing, “Moose is out there. I have to go. I have to.”

“Don’t do this man, it isn’t safe,” Archie begged, shaking his head.

Reggie took a deep breathe.

“Reggie, this won’t end well,” Betty emphasised, hands out in front of her, desperately in need to feel something like hope become tangible for once.

“Moose might be gone, what then? You’ll be gone too. Think about this, Reggie,” Jughead tried to reason.

The impulsive brunette gave an apologetic shrug before taking Archie in a quick hug, “I’m sorry, bro. I can’t leave him behind.”

Archie continued calling out to him in desperate pleas but who can stop a determined, impulsive boy?

They helplessly watched him leave the building,  before returning to the room.

They shouldn’t have been in the corridor for that long, it wasn’t safe.

Nothing was.

The atmosphere in the room had changed from an active panic to a melconcholy depression. Everyone was thinking the same thing but no one dared to speak it.

Under Betty’s instruction they all sat, lined up, against the back wall, with the door, facing the widows. 

Kevin and Fangs were sitting in one corner, separated from the rest by the door. Archie sat on the other side of the door next to Betty. In the other corner sat Veronica, Sweet Pea and then Jughead, leaving Jughead sitting next to Betty by coincidence. 

Kevin and Fangs were…canoodling of sorts, making Betty let a bittersweet chuckle fall from her lips. They were making the most of these terrible circumstances, at least.

She looked over at a distraught Veronica. The power was out and she had lost cell service. Of course, she was worried about her girlfriend. Sweet Pea looked like he had dozed off. How he had managed to fall asleep so easily and so quickly in such a distressing time period, Betty would never know, but she would be lying if she said she didn’t respect him for it.

Jughead was just staring into space, on her left. She could read the worry in his face, despite his efforts to hide it. It made her heart ache to see the young man she once loved in pain like this, but that thought was quickly overruled when he caught her looking and she averted her gaze.

She tilted her head, sympathetically, seeing Archie mentally beat himself up about not stopping Reggie with enough force. 

She put her head on his shoulder, “It’s not your fault, Arch. You couldn’t have stopped him from doing what he wanted to.”

He frowned, “No, Betty, I could have. I should have.” His voice wavered, tears pooling in his eyes, “If he…If he…If he’s dead…”

She hung her mouth open at his dark thought being spoken aloud. 

No one knew what would happen to you if you entered the known ‘toxic’ atmosphere, but it was implied. 

But hearing it…hearing it from Archie, the world’s most innocent boy alive…put everything into perspective.

Reggie was not coming back.

“…I’ll never forgive myself, Betty,” he looked at her with those sad puppy eyes, despair clearer than a transparent window.

In a way, Archie had always been open like that. Quite the contrast to Jughead actually. But even open books have a chapter that they don’t read aloud.

At least he read some aloud to her. And didn’t push her out. And didn’t rip her heart out and stomp all over it…

She swallowed before hugging him tightly from the side. She couldn’t say anything else to make him feel better, she knew that. She could just be there for him.

Jughead felt his gut physically twist to make a knot at the sight before him.

Seriously, Betty?

She had to have known what she was doing.

He was literally sitting right next to her.

He grit his teeth silently cursing everything, everyone, this situation, his situation. But silently cursing things doesn’t get him anywhere.

Betty Cooper had the hots for Archie Andrews.

Or at least, she pretended to.

Because that’s what she’s good at, pretending. Being fake. Make-belief.

It’s all bullshit, that’s for sure.

Jughead tried unclenching his jaw but when she brushed the red hair out of his hair he sweared to God-

She used to do that for him.

It used to annoy the crap out of her when he had his black curls on his forehead. He didn’t know why but it just bothered her. She said it’s because she wanted to see his beautiful eyes but Jughead now fails to believe that…That wasn’t real. None of it was real.

Betty Cooper was the furthest thing from real.

So there Jughead sat, in the quiet room, thinking to himself as his best friend and ex girlfriend naïvely pushed the knife further into his back and he couldn’t say a thing.

***

Betty had long fallen asleep on Archie but he couldn’t bring himself to resting his own eyes. Sweet Pea and Veronica had dozed off, oddly enough in each other’s embraces. Kevin and Fangs were also cuddling, asleep. Jughead wouldn’t ever feel comfortable sleeping in public.

Archie needed to stretch his legs, so thinking Jughead had dozed off when really his eyes were just closed to avoid any conversation, he shifted Betty gently onto his torso.

Why she couldn’t just sleep with her back against the wall, he didn’t know.

Didn’t care, actually.

Archie got up and paced between the desks, worrying to himself before sitting on a desk.

Jughead wanted to get up and talk to him, calm him down but he also knew he couldn’t say anything to make this situation any better. Yet, he still felt like the bad best friend.

So here he was, a certain blonde beauty in his arms, his dream come true, but not under conscious awareness.

He had loved her. That was true. There is no denying that she made him feel thing…warm things…like love.

Or what he thought was love.

Why would something so pure, so warm, so comforting hurt so much?

It didn’t make sense. It never did.

He didn’t know anymore. He didn’t know anything. What was real, what wasn’t? He was already in a dark place but after being with her…he was deeper in that sinkhole than ever before. And it looked like he was never getting out.

Now…what was love had turned into hate.

He hated the way her hair looked so perfect sitting around her neck and shoulders. He hated the way she always smelt amazing. He hated the way she always felt warm and safe, like all the time. He hated the way she made him feel lightheaded just by taking in her appearance. He hated her so damn much.

Betty stirred mumbling something as she wrapped her arms tighter around Jughead’s torso, before burying her head in his chest once more and entangling her legs with his.

She’s asleep.

She doesn’t know what she’s doing.

Ignore the electricity that is currently running through your veins right now.

She’s not aware that she still hates your guts.

That means you don’t have to pretend to hate her either.

So enjoy this feeling…her in you arms again.

Because as soon as she wakes up, it’ll be gone. 

The broken-hearted boy rested his head on hers, allowing himself to inhale her sweet, strawberry-scented locks, and tightened his grip around her, pulling her impossibly closer. Despite them being in two very different places, here, right now, they were together. And they were warm.

Chapter Text

Betty shot up, knocking the heavy weight off her head. She registered where she was and who she was with when her eyes fluttered open to see his dark jeans and recognisable combat boots. She pulled her arms away quickly, as if she was coming into contact something extremely vile.

She swallowed as she straightened herself out, creasing down her Vixen uniform and retying her hair. Despite having woken him up in the process Betty didn’t actually feel guilty about it. If he was even sleeping, she didn’t know-he was one for pretend, after all.

He stretched his arms, smirking at her, “Good nap?”

She rolled her eyes, but instead of a quick-wit comeback she asked him “Where did Archie go?” knowing the immediate effect on him at her expression of concern for his best friend.

All smugness was wiped off his face. He covered the hurt with a defensive shield of annoyance and nonchalance, “He got up.”

She rolled her eyes once more at his flatness, “No shit. Is he okay?”

He rolled his own eyes, “Why are you asking me?”

“Well, you are his best friend, aren’t you?”

He huffed, “He’s still beating himself up, but I don’t know what there is to say.”

“You never know what to say,” she said under her breath.

He looked at her making her wonder if he heard her.

She repositioned herself next to him, sitting as she was before, head against the wall. They sat in silence until she said in a faint whisper, “How bad do you think it is? You know, realistically?”

She felt his eyes on her but she didn’t have the nerve to face him.

“I have no idea. It doesn’t sound good but I think it’s a lot worse than Weatherbee’s letting on.”

Obviously their principal wouldn’t tell them the whole truth, she bit her tongue.

“But like…you think people outside are…dying?” She grimaced at the word but it needed to be said. If anyone would tell them their honest opinion and be real with her that would be Jughead. Or so she used to think. Now this was the best she had.

“Yeah, I think so,” he gave her a brief introduction to the scientific concept behind it all but she doubted whether he really believed that; whether all this strangeness could be categorised under logic.

“So…if we die…”

“Betty-“he interrupted.

“No, Jughead, just listen. If…if we do die, I want you to know,” she looked over at him.

He breathed heavily after being captivated by her gorgeous, green orbs as she tried to speak to him without words. His own were filled with dread as he awaited her revelation.

But he never got one.

“Guys. Guys! Come here! Look at this!” Archie urged the duo over in a hushed exclaim, weary of waking up the others.

They stumbled to their feet rushing to the window.

The dark clouds had become a shade of red. Swarms of black could be seen from a distance, but it was unclear what they were made up of. The town looked even worse, with more trees and materials fallen to the ground. But what was really worrying, what was really breathtaking, what was really unnerving…was the faint buzz that could be heard. Where from? They had no idea. But Betty had a gut feeling the black swarms had something to do with it. After all, when has anyone ever heard of dark, shady, cloud-like, yet opaque, floating things being a good thing?

“Shit,” Jughead breathed, “that…is definitely not good.”

***

They had no other alternative than to pace, worry, think and worry some more. They tried to get in contact with their loved ones but the lack of cell service prevented any decent communication.

Just under an hour later there was a knock at the door.

Moose stood in the doorframe.

They all stared at him, wide-eyed, before turning their attention to Archie. The redhead’s face matched his hair. Anger boiled through his veins, evidently.

“Archie, no!” Jughead lunged across, tackling Archie to the ground as the redhead attempted to jump on Moose. Sweet Pea helped Jughead pin him down, and keep him that way as he yelled spiteful comments to the confused boy.

Betty took the cardboard box from his hands, thanking him in the process, whilst displaying her sympathy for him all the while.

“YOU SON OF A BITCH! It’s your fault. IT’S YOUR FAULT REGGIE’S GONE. HE’S DEAD. BECAUSE OF YOU! Get the fuck off me, Jughead.”

He had calmed down a minute or two later and got up, brushing himself, as he stood in front of Moose.

“What are you talking about? Where did Reggie go? Why is it my fault?”

“He thought you were out there,” he pointed to the storm outside, “and went out there, sacrificing himself, to save your sorry ass. He’s dead. He’s dead. All because of you.” He spat before walking away.

Moose looked like he was going to breakdown right then and there so Betty led him outside, “I’m sorry, Moose. He’s just obviously upset. We don’t know how Reggie is yet. I’m sorry I can’t talk much more, none of us can afford to be exposed. I’m sorry, again.”

She left the brunette boy with a look of shock painted across his face, one which no one could ever replicate.

Betty returned to the room to have Veronica and Jughead searching through the cardboard box they had been given, labelled ‘Supplies’.

Rummaging through it they found all sorts of things, including bottles of water, food, blankets, mobile chargers, etc. Veronica distributed the items amongst them as Betty returned to her space against the wall.

“Uhh, Betty, you should see this,” Veronica gave her a piece of paper.

Whoever is in this room, please send two people to my office ASAP. I will inform you of some details but I need to know who and where you are.

Principal Weatherbee

“I’ll go with you,” Archie immediately offered.

Betty’s gaze flickered between him, Veronica and Jughead. She was about to politely decline when Veronica stepped in, “I don’t think so, Archie, you’re a bit ‘compromised’ at the moment.” What she meant is that he wasn’t thinking straight and Betty needed to be accompanied by someone who was level-headed. The irony to this will become evident sooner or later. 

Archie looked insulted but accepted her reasoning.

Sweet Pea smirked, “I don’t think Ronnie should go either to be honest. You know, in case we have to repopulate the earth.”

She rolled her eyes, “I wasn’t volunteering, but B, I don’t mind if you want, I will go.”

Kevin said, “I’d volunteer but…” he looked over to a sleeping Fangs in his arms.

Betty still hadn’t spoken but was made speechless when the last person she wanted to volunteer boldly stated, “I’ll go.”

She tried to remain cool about it, but couldn’t help but ask, “What?”

“I’d like to know what’s going on firsthand. Besides I’m probably the only one who can actually understand it too,” smugness covered his face as he could see her think he just wanted to spend time with her. In reality, he hated her guts, andwanted to spend time with her. Plus he wanted to look out for her, himself: despite his hateful mind persisting, his heart dominated at the moment.

“Arrogance isn’t a good look on you, Jones,” she retorted.

“So, I have good looks?”

She rolled her eyes before hugging her friends and giving them a few helpful instructions which they swore to obey.

And with that, they left the classroom.

Chapter Text

The two walked alongside each other, ignoring the electric sparks they felt when their arms brushed. They had been in silence for 0.7 seconds before Betty piped up, “You didn’t need to come.” Of course, deep deep down she was glad he volunteered, flattered even, but this shield she was putting up to protect herself, wouldn’t tolerate her being nice to him: pleasant even.

He scoffed, “Once again, I didn’t come for you. Besides, you didn’t need to accept.” Obviously he came for her.

Scowling, she said, “When exactly did I agree? I never even volunteered myself.”

She had a point there.

“Oh, how gracious, Betty Cooper taking one for the team.”

“It’s not like that-”

“Well, how is it then? What, for Veronica? For Kevin? Archie?” 

He said the latter with more spite than he intereses. Archie and Betty’s friendship had always been one that put him on edge, mainly because of his vulnerability: he was the outsider, and they were the perfect, power couple. So it was about time he stepped out of the way…

“Not everyone does things for a person or a reason, Jughead. Sometimes people do nice things just for the sake of being nice.”

“Bullshit. Not Betty Cooper, not anyone.”

She grit her teeth, ignoring his comment, and increasing her pace towards the office.

She knew he was cynical but she had always had a part of her thinking that he saw her as different to everyone else-not just anyone. But hearing him make a point that there was no difference pierced her heart a little more.

He muttered something behind her but she did her best not to pay attention to it. Without knocking she entered the room, “Principal Weatherbee, there are 7 of us in room 12A. We have been given some supplies from Moose. But what the hell is going on?”

He looked a bit taken aback by this defiant girl standing before him but succumbed nonetheless, “We’re not sure. We know that the air outside is toxic and anyone who enters the presence of it has about 5 minutes to live…”

She exhaled, trying to focus on his words and not her fellow classmate’s fate.

“…and there also seems to be…a living ‘creature’ of some sort, in the air but we are unable to identify it. We urge you to remain in your classroom, where it should be safe, as the windows are well over glazed and bulletproof. Stay calm, and we will come get you when the storm has died down. If you can, get in contact with your parents and family members by do not leave the school premises. May I get the names of your fellow students?”

“Archie. Veronica. Sweet Pea. Kevin. Fangs.”

“That’s all?”

“Yes.”

He nodded dismissing them.

She took a deep breath before continuing back to their room.

“What do you think that creature thing is then?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do you think it’s more than one thing, like plural but it looks like one?”

“I don’t know.”

“Why are you being so blunt?”

She stopped in her tracks to face him, “Because, Jughead. Because, quite frankly, I don’t want to deal with your passive-aggressive comments towards me right now. I don’t want to deal with that at all. We’re in the middle of God-only-knows-what and you still can’t find it in your heart to step over all your hate towards me and just be civil, can you?”

He sighed, making her think her words had gotten to him.

“So you want me to act nice? Act normal? What? Just say it.”

“I want you to be civil,” she grit her teeth.

“Isn’t that what I am being?”

“No. No you’re not. You just…” She clenched her jaw and dragged him into a nearby classroom, “Alright, get it out.”

“What?” He looked at her quizzically. 

“Get it out of your system. Everything you have to say. Just say it.”

He gave a dry chuckle, “I thought you didn’t want to hear it.”

“I don’t. But I know I’m going to have to.”

“I don’t even know where to start.”

She crossed her arms, back to the door, “Fine. I’ll start. I hate you, Jones. And I don’t hate anyone. You are infuriatingly frustrating, in every way possible. You’re negative, sceptical, a pain in the ass, a know-it-all-”

“I hate you, Cooper. And I hate everyone. But you…you make my blood boil. You are, on the outside, a stuck up bitch, who thinks she’s better than anyone else, don’t you? You’re pretentious, condescending just with your demeanour. You’re self-destructive; I don’t know why maybe it’s for attention? What-you been living in Polly’s shadow or something? Second child problems? Or should I say middle child? You chase after things you either can’t get or you don’t actually want. Like Archie. You believe he’s so good for you, as you are him. You try to be perfect for him, right? But you’re not. And you never will be. Because you’re broken. You’re broken, Betty. Maybe you are trying to fill that void that was created when your parents split and your family disintegrated, I don’t know. Why do you even like him? I have no clue. He’s the biggest player on the pitch, you know that. And you know that if you were ever together he’d only hurt you. Maybe that’s what you want though? Because you’re self-sabotaging. But that isn’t your fault: your family is fucked up. Me? I have always had a broken home, and I grew up knowing that. You? You’re from a picture-perfect family, so it was unexpected. Well, actually, it should have been seen coming as nothing that perfect ever is. But you hate yourself for not being able to see that, don’t you? You beat yourself up about it, I bet. And you never let people see that side of you, the true you, because you don’t want to be defined that way. That’s fair enough, why would you want anyone to see the real you? Who would want to see that? What you want is to be seen as the perfect, pretty, good girl that you pretend to be. But really that’s all you know: pretend. The funny thing is, all this time I thought I was totally fucked up, but really…you’re not far from it. The worst thing is, I was stupid enough to believe that you were capable of showing the true you, when really you’re not real. You, Betty Cooper, are the furthest thing from real.”

By the end of his little speech the blonde girl’s bottom lip was trembling as she bit it to stop the tears from spilling. She was breathing heavily. The hurt was clear in her eyes.

She had given him the power and he had used it.

She had given him the knife to stab her heart and he had done it.

He immediately regretted everything. He didn’t even remember most of it, just heat of the moment. He never intended to hurt her. He didn’t really know what he intended. Obviously he was mad at her, but he didn’t actually think she was unreal like that; broken; wanting Archie, or any of it really. He knew better than that.

But for him…the one person, the one person who had an opinion about her that she actually cared for…to just confirm her worst fears about herself to be true…

That was the worst thing.

“Betty-”

She shook her head and turned round to open the door, rushing out. He sprinted after her and when he managed to catch up, he pulled her to face him. 

“Betty, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”

“Bullshit! Absolute bullshit, Jughead. I knew you hated me but what’s worse is how on point you are. You say you don’t know me? I’m not real? Whatever the hell that means. Tell me, Jughead, why am I not real? Did I lie to you or something?” She stepped closer to him, hitting his chest with her arms. He tried to get hold of them, but figured it was better he let her let it out. In that moment he realised that she really didn’t know…

“Or is it just that I don’t wallow in self-pity as a way of ‘accepting who I am’. Because if so, you’re damn straight I’m going to define who I am. Why should I let anyone else steal that away from me? I’m not. I definitely am not. And I sure as hell am not going to let you criticise me for that.” By this point her cries were broken up by gasps of air as she tried to catch her breath.

He wrapped his arms around her as she leant her head on his chest, catching her breath, muttering hateful comments that both of them knew she didn’t mean.

What he would kill to just be able to press his lips to her right now and tell her it would all be alright and how sorry he was.

“I hate you,” she whispered.

She also hated how she felt so warm, protected, safe in his arms. And how she wanted to rip his clothes off and have him right here, right now…

“Me too.”

She had calmed down to a steady breathing pace and looked up at him. The two stood in that corridor, just observing the depths of one another’s regretful eyes, mouths open a little, faces full of attempted understanding, until a certain redhead and pink haired girl interrupted, “Betty?! Jughead?!”

Chapter Text

“Hey, what are you guys doing here?” Betty spun around, stepping away from Jughead.

“We were just about to ask you the same thing.” Cheryl said.

“Quick, there’s no time to explain. Do you have a safe place?” Toni interjected.

“Yeah, we’re all in 12A.” Betty led them down the corridor, “And Cheryl, V has been worried sick about you.”

Toni’s eye roll did not go unnoticed by Betty but she didn’t have time to pry.

Cheryl exclaimed, “Veronica’s okay right? She’s in 12A?”

Betty just nodded before opening the door.

The redhead rushed over to her girlfriend, embracing her, “Ronnie!” They shared a long, sweet kiss and Toni went over to Sweet Pea, hugging her nonbiological brother.

The reunited caught up whilst Fangs worried in the corner, “Betty! Did you see Kevin on the way back?”

She shook her head confused.

“He went to the bathroom…”

She inhaled a short breathe but the look on her face did not ease the poor, lovesick boy.

“He’ll be back soon,” Jughead comforted his fellow serpent.

Fangs gave him a look of gratitude but the concern was etched into his face as it was his heart.

And everyone knows that true love, true love is the kind of love that makes heartache actually make your heart ache.

***

30 minutes later

Kevin still wasn’t back.

Veronica and Cheryl got some shuteye, cuddling in peace. Sweet Pea and Toni were playing with an old, ball they had found, trying to distract themselves. And Fangs was worrying his ass off.

Betty was slumped up against the wall next to a sleeping Archie. Jughead came to join her.

They didn’t say anything. The silence said enough.

But he wanted to.

His words were still ringing in her ears.

You chase after things you either can’t get or you don’t actually want.

She blinked the tears in her eyes away. She didn’t want to admit it but his words had a stronger effect on her than she thought they would.

Stuck up bitch.

She hadn’t realised how much she had hurt him. She wasn’t even confident on what she had done to hurt him, to be honest. But he was.

I hate you, Cooper.

A part of her wanted to ask him, what he thought she did. What she did? What she said? Why she was so unreal to him? How she hurt him so badly.

You never let people see that side of you, the true you.

But another part of her, a stronger part of her, was too terrified to find the answer.

I thought I was totally fucked up, but really…you’re not far from it.

It was a massive shock to see how his love for her had flicked so quickly to hate and resentment. How terrifying it is to hand someone your whole heart only for them to have the power to crush it.

You’re broken.

She thought they had had something real. Something true.

But really that’s all you know: pretend.

Something like the movies.

You make my blood boil.

She thought they were like Romeo and Juliet.

You’re self-destructive.

The exception not the rule.

You’re pretentious, condescending just with your demeanour.

The couple that exceeds all expectations. The couple that were made for one another.

You try to be perfect for him, right? But you’re not. And you never will be.

She thought they were soulmates.

You never will be.

Out of anyone in this whole, damn world, she only ever truly cared about what he thought of her. It was him. He was the only one that mattered.

Why would you want anyone to see the real you?

She wanted to know him, all of him.

She thought he wanted that too.

Who would want to see that?

She gripped the edges of her sleeves, trying her best to blink back tears. She didn’t want anyone to see her like this.

She felt Jughead’s eyes on her but she couldn’t bring herself to face him.

Not now.

Not after everything he had revealed to her.

She sighed gently, concerned for her bestfriend’s return. And as she tucked a loose hair behind her ear her phone rang.

Everyone turned to her as she picked up the phone hastily, “Hello?”

“Betty! P-pl-please…”

“Kevin?! Where are you?!”

Fangs jumped to his feet.

“Betts, I love you. Tell Fangs I love him too, more than anything in this world. And tell him I’m sorry. I’m so so sorry.”

Shock and fear painted her face as she held the phone out to Fangs. Her chest was heaving and she felt like the walls were closing in.

It was as if she had forgotten how to breathe.

Before blacking out she heard Fangs’ distraught voice, “Kev?! Kev?! Where are you?! I love you too. Please, Kev. Please, no!” and Archie calling her name as he caught her falling to the ground.

But the very last thing she remembered…

You, Betty Cooper, are the furthest thing from real.

Chapter Text

Betty regained consciousness faster than she thought she was. She knew as soon as she looked fully awake the attention would be shifted to her, but she didn’t want to be overwhelmed just yet, so she didn’t move. She could see Jughead hovering at her left side in conversation with the rest. Archie was on her right, and she couldn’t see much past them. But she could hear the conversation.

Archie: So, Mrs Cooper didn’t pick up, I’ll try my dad

She rested her eyes a little before zoning back in.

Jughead: What, so Hiram and Hermione are at the Penbrooke with Fred? What about my dad? Or Betty’s mom?

Cheryl: And Nana Rose?

Archie: Yeah, my dad said he’s there with Ronnie’s parents but he saw Alice and FP at Pop’s together earlier so they are probably still together

Jughead: Okay, so I’ll take Betty back to our trailer seeing as they can’t be in the Cooper house

Archie nodded.

Veronica: Cheryl, will you come to the Penbrooke with me?

Cheryl: Yeah, of course. Maybe I can call Nana Rose from there. But Toni you have to come too.

Toni: Not without Sweet Pea and Fangs

Veronica: Yes, that’s fine. The more the merrier.

Betty caught sight of Jughead’s eyeroll and she had to stifle a snort herself.

Sweet Pea: I like how Fangs and I are automatically decided for by you, Toni

Fangs: Well, it’s not like we’d agree against it

Sweet Pea: Yeah, true

Toni: It’s no secret that I have complete control over you two

Betty sat up, and she immediately felt the whole room’s eyes on her. She was right in thinking it would be overwhelming.

“Betty!”

“You’re up!”

“How are you feeling?”

But none of these concerned exclaims came from the one person she wanted to hear it from most.

Then again the look they shared said it all. She broke the gaze, smiling weakly, “I’m…” and then she remembered.

Kevin was dead.

She looked over at Fangs, who was clearly distraught.

She got up, much to Archie’s persistence, and sat next to him, pulling him in for a hug. The two just sat there, grieving for the boy who made them laugh till their sides hurt; cry happy tears; scrunch their noses when he made a cringeworthy statement; stand by them through all times, thick and thin; and had earned their whole respect for just being who he was.

***

Betty managed to shift Fangs’ sleeping body onto Sweet Pea’s, and get up for what felt like the first time in ages. Everyone in the room was asleep. Except for the boy who never slept in public.

She walked over to join him by the window. He felt her presence next to him. He so badly wanted to reach out and squeeze her probably warm hand with his own, larger, cooler one. He so desperately wanted to wrap his arms around her and nuzzle his head into the crook of her neck, telling her it would be okay.

He wanted to speak to her; to talk to her about it; to redeem himself; to fix things. But quite truthfully he didn’t feel like he deserved to. He didn’t have the right to try and talk to her. He had only hurt her.

And whilst he had hated her, he never, ever thought that he would ever hurt her in the way he did.

He thought he was better than that because he knew how much it hurt. And he never wanted to cause her the same pain.

Maybe it was also fear? The fear of her telling him to go fuck himself. The fear of her telling him that he was absolute bullshit and didn’t deserve to even fucking look at her.

Because right now, he felt that. He really did.

She broke the silence, “It looks better.”

“Yeah,” he croaked. He hadn’t talked out loud in a while, “It seems to have died down.”

The sky was lighter than before and the wind was less intense. The atmosphere was comparable to when a thunderstorm has passed and the air is humid and thick.

Perhaps that was the tension in the room, though.

“You haven’t slept,” she looked at him.

“I can’t sleep-“

“In public, I know. But it’s been…well, I don’t know how many hours but it has been way too many to go without sleep. Plus you’re going to need the energy when we have to leave this place.”

He chuckled.

“What?”

He brought himself to look at her, into her kind eyes, “It’s just that…you stillalways know what’s best for me.”

She gave him a small smile, but it was more for herself than anything else.

“I don’t think I can.”

She released a gentle sigh, “Come on.”

He turned to follow her, unaware of where she was leading with this.

She sat down in her spot and patted the place next to her, where he had previously sat.

He raised his eyebrows but obeyed.

She shifted uncomfortably before cautiously slinking her arm behind his torso and her other one across his front. She was warm. He felt as though a missing piece to him, a relatively large one, had been restored, even though he knew it was temporary.She buried her head into his chest, hiding the small smile that was coming across her face. He was glad she couldn’t see the bright one on his face now, too. She wrapped one leg over his and mumbled, “Now will you sleep?”

He gave a faint laugh before burying his own head into her sweet-smelling hair, “Like a rock.”

And he did.

***

Veronica woke up from a comfortable nap: Cheryl was still in her arms, lightly snoring. How adorable.

She scanned the room. Sweet Pea and Fangs spooning: a photo opp she gladly took. Betty and Jughead also cuddling, causing a raised eyebrow but not unexpected. Archie spread across the floor on a blanket, shirtless of course. And Toni…sitting upright…glaring daggers into her skull.

She gave her a small smile, slightly weary of the pink haired girl sitting at the opposite end of the room.

The girl gave a sarcastic smile back.

“What’s your problem?” Veronica was never one to shy away from a provoked bitch.

“I haven’t got a problem. What’s yours?” She feigned a sweet, innocent tone.

The raven-haired girl bit her lip but said it anyway, “I know you have a thing for my girlfriend.”

She looked a little surprised by her abrupt statement but infuriated too. Her nostrils flaired and eyes became darker. She was just about to open her mouth when Veronica continued, “Jealousy isn’t a good look on you. Maybe moving onis.

She rolled her eyes, “I don’t know what she sees in you, because I, just like anyone else, sees the uptight snobby New Yorker that’s just experimenting.”

Veronica looked like she had been stabbed, “Experimenting? How dare you, bitch?!” She was just about to raise her voice when she saw the sleeping beauty in her arms stirr.

Toni smirked, pleased with herself for getting under her skin.

“When she’s awake, I’m going to knock that smugness off your face,” Veronica threatened.

Toni let out a hushed laugh, “Yeah, right. The only thing you can knock out is all the boys and girls in the park because you’re fucking hot, bitch.”

Veronica looked flabbergasted, “Wait, what?”

“Yeah that’s right.”

“You…like me?”

“Well, I’m hot for both of you to be honest, but yeah, you’re the one that caught my eye,” Toni winked.

Veronica couldn’t help but blush, mainly because of her embarrassing mistake. But why was she so rude to her then?

“That’s um…flattering. But I’m really happy with Cheryl and-“

“Attention all Riverdale High Students. The storm outside has died down and it is safe to return to your homes. Please make your journeys as quick as possible as we do not know how trustworthy this forecast is. Thank you for your patience. Get home safely.”

Everyone was wide awake now, and packing their stuff together.

Betty had her things ready and walked over to Toni, “Hey, you okay?”

She nodded with a small smile, “I will be. It’s hard, you know,” she looked over at Veronica and Cheryl.

Betty frowned, pulling her friend into a hug, “I know. I’m really sorry.”

Toni gave a dry chuckle, “How very Betty Cooper of you: having just lost your best friend, you are asking me if I’m okay and you’re actually concerned too.”

Betty tried to lift the corners of her mouth but struggled.

She was trying to distract herself that was true. She couldn’t come to accepting it.

Toni looked at her sympathetically, “I am really sorry,” and gave her a light squeeze.

Sweet Pea was doing his best to handle a broken Fangs with care, “Dude, do you want me to take this?”

“No, it’s okay. I’ll wear it.”

Kevin’s jacket was one of the few things that still smelt like him.

***

“Betty, call me if anything goes wrong, okay? I’ll be ready, I will,” Archie gave her a tight hug, as if it would be the last one.

She laughed, “Yes, okay, dad,” but the worry was clear in her eyes. Archie hadn’t talked to her about Kevin because he knew that she would want to ignore it for as long as she could but he could tell she was hurting. He gave her a peck on the cheek and let her go.

“B! I love you I love you I love you. And Jughead, if you let her get hurt, I swear to God-“

“V, I’ll be fine, I promise. I love you tonnes,” she enveloped her into a tight hug.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

“Sweet Pea, I love you too, don’t forget that. Call me when you get there?”

He tackled her into a bear hug and he felt the warmth actually fill his chest. If warmth like that could radiate off any mourning girl that girl would be Betty. “Sure thing, Betts. I love you too.”

She let out an exhale of air as she embraced Fangs. They both did. They needed each other more than ever now. They had both loved the same young man. In different ways, sure, but still.

After everyone’s goodbyes Betty and Jughead left the school and hurried to the parking lot, where he gave her his leather jacket, despite her weak protests.

Chapter Text

By the time they had arrived to the trailer park, they were absolutely soaked. Nearly as soon as they had left the school it had began to pelt it down. They had tried to spend as little time possible exposed to the outside air, but it didn’t look as threatening as they predicted. It was surreal to believe that just earlier that day students had died because they were outside. The atmosphere looked so normal which was more scary as it was hard to tell how long they had to live.

Jughead planted his bike to a halt and Betty jumped off. He took her hand and ran with her through the rain, of what they only hoped was water, and to the trailer. He fumbled quickly with his keys and let her in. 

Bolting the door, they called out loud for their parents but it soon became evident that they were not here. Jughead managed to get in touch with the Sheriff who reported that both FP and Alice had gone with Fred after all to the Penbrooke. 

Whilst he was pleased that they were safe and together, a small, guilty part of him was also happy that Betty and him were alone. Maybe now, in the respects of privacy, he could redeem himself. 

When he had come out of the shower, she was standing by the window, coffee mug in hand, in his sweatpants and sweater. He missed that. His hair was still wet, and hers looked like it too, in that little bun. 

She mumbled a response to his informing her of her mother’s situation but she was focused on looking outside. He came to join her, just standing behind her. The sky was no longer just raining. The gusts of wind had returned and all sorts of things were being thrown about. Jughead tried not to think about his already damaged motorbike. 

“I’m sorry about your bike.”

He looked at her, with slight admiration: despite everything he had said to her, she was sorry. “It’s okay. Nothing lasts forever I guess. Well, nothing materialistic anyway.”

She turned around to face him, eyes full of curiosity.

Her mouth hung a little open and he could see she was battling herself on whether or not to say something. 

After what felt like too long, he blurted, “You can say it. Or ask it. Whatever it is.”

She gave a small smile, she had missed him being able to read her so easily: like a book he had memorised yet still full of surprises.

“I just…I just…” She sat down on the sofa, cross-legged and pulled a blanket over her legs. “What did I do? You know, to hurt you? I’m so confused.”

He sat down next to her, with an upturned bittersweet smile, “You seriously don’t know?”

She just shook her head. She had an idea, but she wanted to hear it from him.

“Reggie told me…he told me everything.”

She swallowed but remained silent, letting him continue.

“He told me that you…you were always nice to me, because you were nice to everyone. And so one day Cheryl dared you to…well, make me fall in love with you, for like a bet. And apparently you persisted, but they guaranteed that I deserved it because…well, I cut Penny Peabody. And so you thought that was justifiable then? Because I harmed an ex-Northsider or something? I don’t know. Maybe it was. But I just…I never thought that you would do something like that.”

Her eyes were filled with hurt, not remorse. She whispered, “I never took the bet.”

He looked at her wide-eyed, and shocked, “Wait, what? But-”

“I always had a tiny crush on you. Ever since you transferred here from Southside High. Maybe that was why I was especially nice to you, I don’t know. One day, yeah, Cheryl noticed and she tried to make a bet with me. But I’m not that kind of person. I said I wouldn’t do it and they backed off. Or so I thought. I guess after that, they managed to get to you. Now it makes sense. Reggie told you right? Yeah, I figure he told you to piss you off so that you would take the bet, which you did, didn’t you?”

Jughead’s expression changed from deep concentration to regret, “I’m…I’m so sorry Betty. I can’t believe I got played like that; that I allowed myself to do that. I’m…I’m so sorry. I know that doesn’t help or anything.”

She looked away. “What did you win?”

“Well, I didn’t win, did I? You never said that you loved me.”

She blinked. 

“Right, Betts?” He asked.

“Right, yeah.”

The two sat in an awfully uncomfortable silence until he spoke up, “Did you kiss Archie?”

She took in a sharp breath before looking at him, “I did. I’m sorry. When I found out.”

He just nodded, fair enough.

She placed her mug down on the coffee table and then she blessed him with the sweetest sound he had ever heard: she burst out into a fit of giggles.

“What is it?” Her smile was contagious.

“It’s just…It’s just…How ridiculous this all is. We broke up because of huge misunderstandings, right?” She lightly hit his arm, trying to regain her composure.

He chuckled, “Well, yeah. I did a stupid thing too because of that.”

She wiped the smile off her face, “I did too.”

He suddenly became aware of how much closer they were. “Look, Betty, I’m going to be apologising for it for the rest of my life, but I…”

She swallowed before making a decision she knew she wouldn’t regret. 

She cupped his jaw in one hand and pressed her lips to his. He took her into his arms, scooping her up. She pulled a leg over his lap, straddling him. They enjoyed the taste of one another, savouring it, just in case that was the last kiss they shared. 

It wasn’t.

Chapter Text

He pulled the sheet over them and pulled her closer to him. Her head lay on his chest and he had her arms around her. Her fingers ran up and down his forearm, as they regained their breath, contently. 

“That was…”

“Amazing.”

He kissed her cheek before dozing off.

She lay in his arms, wide awake. She thought she would have been more exhausted, but now she was more conscious of everything than ever. She wanted to say something but she had no idea what she could say. She wanted to tell him that she loved him but what if he didn’t reciprocate? Besides did she love him? Were they back together now? Did she want to be? Who knew?

***

“Jug?” She whispered.

“Hmm,” he mumbled.

“Are you hungry?”

He chuckled, “I thought I just ate.”

She smacked his chest lightly and he laughed, “Of course, Betts, I’m always hungry.”

She sat up pulling the sheet around her.

“You’re beautiful, you know that?” He said in almost a faint whisper.

She looked back at him, smiling to see his face glowing like she imagined her own was. She leant down and placed a kiss on his lips but sprang up just when he tried to deepen it. He groaned trying to pull her back down, “Bettyy…”

“Come on, Jug. Let’s get something to eat.” She pulled his shirt over her head and her panties on, before strutting into the kitchen. 

He pulled on his sweatpants and followed her. She grabbed a bunch of ingredients out of the cupboards, clearly not forgetting since the last time she was here. He leant on the doorframe, smiling stupidly as he admired her rushing around the kitchen, wearing his shirt, as if it was her own kitchen. It could be, but she deserved a lot better, he knew that. He knew he couldn’t provide for her the way she deserved but due to the certain dystopian situation they were in, that was the last thing on his mind. 

She caught his gaze, laughing, “What are you staring at? Come, help me. These pankcakes aren’t going to be made themselves.”

He laughed and gripped her hips, spinning her towards him, and placed a firm kiss on her lips. She pulled away, “Come on! I’m starving.”

He helped her make those pancakes, but not without having a flour fight with her, which led to her being placed on the countertop, running her hands through his hair as he kissed her deeply. He fed her the pancakes as they sat on the floor, against the cabinets under the sink and joked like old times. When they were both stuffed they migrated to the sofa where they sat opposite each other, knees touching and just talked. They talked and talked till the early hours in the morning. He learnt that she really did believe in all that wishy-washy zodiac nonsense, but maybe she could convince him someday. He learnt that she believed in star-crossed lovers and soulmates. She believed in the goodness of people because that’s what she wants to have faith in. She believed that every person can be forgiven. She believed in second chances. And she learnt that his favourite thing to do when he was younger was play pretended chef with his sister. His other favourite thing to do was play lego with her. He would have become a chef but he would end up eating all the ingredients. He loved playing with Lego so much that he took an oath to become an archaeologist, mistaking it for the role of an architect. He kept all his sister’s birthday cards that he couldn’t afford to post to her in a little box to give her when he saw her again. He believed he would be reunited with his sister once more, despite his logical thinking telling him that it was extremely naive of him to have faith in that. She learnt that he had an idealist side to him, and he learnt that she had a realist side to her, too. They shared the fondest of memories, most embarassing secrets, worst fears, truths they had told no one. For example, once in the fifth grade, Betty had taken Chuck Clayton’s second lollipop to give to Archie’ but ended up dropping her own, so she took Archie’s for herself. Archie got annoyed at Chuck for forgetting him and they got in a whole fight about it, lollipops included: it got very messy and Archie had to get a haircut. Mary was not happy about it.

They didn’t even realise how long they had been talking for, and when the sun came up, they admired it together, in each other’s embraces. They ignored the death and destruction that surrounded them and focused on the beautiful new beginning that was arising over the horizon. They ended up falling asleep like that, on the sofa, and only woke up when Betty’s mobile rang.

She untangled herself from his arms and stumbled around, trying to find her bearings. Her mobile was buzzing on the small, coffee table and she picked it up. Jughead groaned but remained fast asleep.

“Hello?” She whispered in a hush voice before going into Jughead’s room, so she wouldn’t wake him up.

“B! You’re alive!”

“Ronnie? Is everything okay? How are you guys? How are we both getting service? Is my mom okay?”

“Yes; we’re okay; no clue; yes, she’s asleep at the moment but she’s okay; worried about you, of course.”

Betty gave a sigh of relief, “Is everyone else okay, too?”

“Yeah, but no mention of…”

She felt her stomach twist into a knot at the indication of her best friend, “Oh.”

“So sorry about that Betts.”

“Thank you, V. Have you heard anything from the Sheriff Keller?”

“To be honest, B, he seems pretty confused. He can’t come up with an explanation, but I don’t exactly blame him. But he suggested that you come to the Penbrooke at around 11 if you want to make it here. That’s apparently the prime time. On another note, B, I just found out…well, Cheryl just overheard Sweet Pea talking to Fangs…”

“About what?”

“B, how do I say this?” Veronica sounded agitated on the other line.

The next 7 words made Betty’s stomach drop.

She started taking deep breaths, “Are…are y-you sure,V?”

“Yeah, I am. I’m so so sorry, B. I love you, okay? Try and contact me as soon as possible. Cheryl wants to call Nana Rose. I’m really sorry, okay?”

“Yeah, thanks, V. Love you too.”

She hung up the phone and tried to ignore the stinging in her eyes. She peered round the door to look at the peaceful Jughead.

He looked so content that you wouldn’t believe the world was falling apart just a few yards away from him.

How could he?

She felt so naïve and stupid for giving herself to him, fully, for him to lie to her and break her heart once more.

Betty knew she shouldn’t jump to conclusions, after all their miscommunication had led to their breakup, but she couldn’t help but wonder…

Veronica’s words repeatedly pierced her heart.

Jughead’s still taking part in the bet.

 

Chapter Text

Something’s wrong.

Something is definitely wrong.

Jughead couldn’t quite place his finger on what it was though.

He was doing his best to navigate his way through the dump of a town it was, but he couldn’t quite concentrate on anything other than Betty.

When he had woken up, she had showered and was ready to go. She was wearing his clothes simply because she knew it was more practical than her cheerleading uniform but something about her was different from last night.

He thought they had had such a beautiful night together: the best one of his whole life. But maybe she didn’t feel the same way? Maybe she didn’t love him like he did her? Maybe she didn’t want to be with him?

He wanted to talk to her about it but she had been short with him, and so he sensed that she wasn’t in the mood for a chat.

He had tried to kiss her but she was clearly avoiding him, moving her head to the side, as if she didn’t know he wanted to plant his lips on her so badly.

But the real indicator…the clearest sign was in her eyes. The warmth and the affection had disappeared from her beautiful, green eyes, to be replaced with a frozen over sense of tolerance. They were cold now.

So here they were, swerving quickly between piles of rubbish and broken pieces of buildings. Her arms wrapped around his torso, but she didn’t lean her head on his back like she used to. She didn’t stretch her hands against his torso like she used to. She didn’t smile at him when they got off, like she used to.

Maybe she was worried. She had just lost her best friend after all. Yes, that’s probably it.

He hurried behind her into the Penbrooke to be greeted by everyone in the lobby.

Betty engulfed her mother in a hug who was crying tears of relief. Then Veronica; Archie; Cheryl; Toni; Sweet Pea; Fangs. Jughead did his own round of embraces but didn’t lay his gaze off of her all the while. He tried to ignore the pang of jealousy he felt when she kissed Sweet Pea’s cheek. He knew he was being ridiculous, but she looked so happy with everyone else in contrast to how she had been with him this morning.

Maybe he should give up?

But when he caught sight of her smile so bright it lit up the whole room, he figured giving up would never be an option.

After everyone had resulted back to Hermione’s place, they sat sprawled across the room.

Cheryl, Toni and Sweet Pea were chatting, making the best of this disastrous situation. Mrs Cooper and FP were sleeping in each other’s embraces on a sofa. The Sheriff was on duty so left quickly. He liked so distraught but it was clear he was trying to distract himself from his son’s death by looking after the town as much as he could. Mary and Hermione were drinking coffee. Hiram was nowhere to be seen. Fred was talking to Archie. Veronica and Betty had disappeared. And Fangs was here trying to talk to a distracted Jughead.

“Dude, everyone thinks your still on it.”

“What?” Jughead snapped to reality.

“You know, the bet.”

Jughead let out a dry laugh, “You’re kidding right? People are dying and you think I’m still in that mess?”

He shrugged.

“No, I’m not in on it! Wait…”

Fangs looked at him blankly, “Oh.”

“Does Betty…?”

He nodded, “I think I heard Veronica telling her.”

Shit.

Well that explains everything.

But they had talked about it.

Jughead rushed into the room he thought they two girls were in. He scanned it to find Veronica at Betty’s side.

No tears.

When the raven-haired girl caught sight of him, she was fuming, “You fucking piece of shit, you are.” She didn’t shout, probably due to Betty’s request.

Jughead closed the door behind him, “Betty,” he ignored the defiant girl, trying to persuade Betty to hear him out.

“No, you don’t get to talk to her, you prick-“

“V, it’s okay,” she spoke to her furious friend in a hushed tone. The dark-browed girl’s face relaxed at the sight of Betty’s, and she frustratedly walked out of the room, hitting Jughead’s shoulder in the process.

“Betts-“

“Is it true?”

He closed his eyes at the thought of her thinking he had done something like that. Even worse than what she already thought of him.

“No, it’s not true. I swear.”

“How do I believe that?” She whispered, piercing him with the most hurt eyes he had ever seen.

He crumbled under he gaze, “You don’t. You can’t. There isn’t anything I’ve done to prove what you think of me to be wrong. But Betty, I love you. I do.” He stepped towards her. “I love you more than you know. I hate to see you hurt, especially because of me. So, I know I’m sorry, and I know an apology isn’t really enough. But…if you let me, I’ll make it up to you, I promise. I love you so much.”

He reached out to stroke her jaw and when she flinched away he felt his heart break into a thousand pieces.

“Betty,” he croaked, tears starting to sting his eyes.

She looked away, “How can I know you won’t hurt me?”

Her words stabbed at his heart.

“I give you my word. I won’t mess this up, Betty. I wouldn’t persist if I knew I didn’t need you, love you, and only you. Betty, you’re my lifeline. Please,” he begged.

She raised a hand to his face, brushing his tears away and pressed her lips to his.

All of a sudden she forgot about all the evil in this world. Everything wrong with it just…disappeared. She felt a warmth inside her spread, as he moved his soft lips against her, cradling her head in his smooth hands. She felt a tingle in her heart. When she pulled away, she found herself smiling. This was ridiculous. In such a time of grief, she was smiling. He was smiling.

They had managed to bring out true genuine smiles from one another.

That’s love.

Chapter Text

Betty scanned the room. Hermione had taken the other mothers to share her room. Fred and FP had taken to the sofa. Cheryl, Veronica, Sweet Pea and Toni were wrapped under a blanket on the other sofa. They looked so peaceful. Cheryl was content, with a small smile on her face as she dozed off with Veronica’s arms wrapped around her. Toni looked like she was in a deep sleep. But Sweet Pea looked the happiest. He always did when he was sleeping. So cute. Fangs had gone to sleep in the spare room, absolutely broken after losing Kevin. Betty felt for him, she really did. But she knew there was nothing she could say or do to make the situation better. All she could do was be there for him. Archie was awake, trying to get in contact with his current girlfriend, in the lobby. Jughead spooned Betty, head nuzzling into her hair, as he snored lightly adorably.

She looked at their hands. He had one around her and the other holding hers. His hand was so much bigger but slender all the while. She stroked the back of his hand with her’s, running her fingers over his veins. It sat well with her own. They fit rather perfectly. And yet she always felt a little tingle in her heart when they held hands. She turned it over to rub her forefinger over his palm, admiring all the little intricacies and lines.

He squeezed her hand and mumbled something into her hair. It sounded like an ‘I love you,’ bringing Betty back to their present situation which she attempted to ignore again.

He had one heavy leg over her’s, almost protecting her in a way. It wasn’t uncomfortably heavy but she knew it was there. And he held her in his arms like she was the most precious thing on Earth. He always made her feel that way. She never knew how. He just did. He looked at her with kind eyes. They were soft, behind the stormy blue exterior. He looked at everyone with the same dark eyes, even if he was comfortably laughing with his friends. It was almost as if he reserved this look of warmth and endearment for her. Only her.

Only you.

He had revealed something just a few hours ago. Something they both knew but were too anxious to say. Jughead was probably scared of scaring her off, possibly due to his abandonment issues. She was, maybe nervous about fully opening herself up to being loved as well as giving it; doing it wrong and imperfectly; committing to it.

They both had their issues, that was true, and the fact they had managed to find something as beautiful, as tender as their love was a miracle their miracle.

And when his midnight curls brushed over her forehead she had an enlightening moment.

She did.

And she wasn’t scared.

Maybe it was the acceptance of their fate? Maybe it was the possible doom that was to come?

It didn’t matter.

Betty Cooper loved this boy like she would never love anyone.

And what’s better was that she wanted to tell him.

She wanted to say it over and over again, just to reaffirm it’s truth. She wanted to tell him even if it was just once. And so she did. She whispered it whilst he held her close to him. She doubted that he even heard it. But that didn’t matter. She just needed to say it. Out loud.

But what she didn’t know was that a huge smile plastered across his face, so big it felt permanent, when he heard her.

Chapter Text

Betty woke up, cold and alone. Everyone was worried and stressed that was clear. She turned to Sweet Pea, who was sitting to her right, “Hey, where’s Jug?”

He looked at her with sympathy in his eyes and she immediately feared the worst.

“He got a call from his sister. She had come home to surprise him. But she’s lost and he’s gone out with his dad to go find him.”

She swallowed. Don’t think the worst. Don’t do it.

As if he could read her mind he engulfed her in a hug and whispered, “Don’t worry. He’ll be back in no time.”

Whilst she knew his words didn’t really have any truth in them she allowed herself to give into the reassurance and appreciated his warmth.

***

Betty and Sweet Pea were sitting on the sofa, in a comfortable silence with his arm around her. She had found out that Toni had also left to go get her grandfather.

Betty couldn’t do much other than wait for him. Her mother hadn’t woke up yet, probably for the better. Why worry her?

Ignorance really is bliss.

Sweet Pea had fallen into a light sleep, resting his head on hers. He honestly was the sweetest person she had the pleasure of building a friendship with. He always looked out for her, even when Jughead and her had broken up. She wished him the best, but the best was often hard to find in Riverdale. She had only been so lucky with Jug. She knew that true love doesn’t come easy, and sometimes it doesn’t come at all. She could only believe that Sweets would find his princess one day if when they made it out of this mess.

Betty sighed, catching Archie’s attention. He frowned at her and she returned it. Not a frown of a sadness, no, a frown of worry. Nervousness. That state of being unsettled. Tense. When your stomach muscles tighten. Your jaw clenches. Your toes involuntary curl. Maybe to grip something that’s not there. Maybe to hold onto something so that you don’t just float away into the same darkness that is sucking up everybody else. To stay grounded.

Cheryl also seemed to be awake. But not moving. She looked very comfortable being little spoon. She looked over to Betty, smirking, “Hot new couple?”

Betty accidentally snorted, miraculously not awaking Sweet Pea. “I think he’s drooling on my hair.”

Cheryl chuckled, “Maybe he thinks you’re food. Oh wait, that’s the other boyfriend’s addiction.”

Betty’s cheeks flushed at the mention of her boyfriend. But with happiness, dread soon started refilling her heart at the thought of him laying dead on the street, having suffocated to death.

It was taking everything in her not to chase after him.

She knew that wasn’t the clever decision and right now she had to think smart.

Ring.

Sweet Pea’s phone buzzed in his pocket, waking him up in the process. He wiped his mouth and answered the call. “Hello?” He said groggily.

Betty could just hear a desperate, female voice on the other side. Jellybean?

“SWEET PEA. HELP, I’M BEING ATTACKED BY THESE-PLEASE-HELP-NOOO-“

The line went dead.

His face went pale and his eyes widened with realisation. He tried calling her back multiple times but no answer.

He turned to Betty and croaked, “That was…that was Toni.”

***

“Elizabeth, please, think about this. Don’t go. Please,” her mother begged her.

Betty gripped her shoulders, “Mom, I’m sorry. I have to. And I’ll be extremely careful, I promise. I’ll wear the mask. I won’t get out of the car, I swear. Trust me, I’m going to be okay.”

Alice frowned but engulfed her daughter anyway, kissing her cheeks and smelling her hair in an effort to ingrain the scent in her memory. Just in case.

And with her goodbyes, Betty followed Archie and Fred out the door to the car.

The drive to the station was not a smooth one. Betty tried to ignore the howls of the wind and the colour changing sky as she sat in the back, hands in her lap. The same hands that were holding his just hours ago.

She observed the scene as they passed through it: the upper class area of the Northside all being obliterated. White fences skewered; small fires spreading too fast; clouds unevenly spread across the sky; windows broken; glass shattered; houses crumbled; trees fallen; plants crumpled. It really showed that no matter where you come from, who you are, how much you earn…everybody can be annihilated just as easily.

We’re all just human after all.

These concepts we create in our heads to prove our superiority such as using the colour of our skin as an advantage; the place we come from; the land we happen to live on…We never actually make these conscious decisions. We’re just blessed with what we’re given. Yet, so many of the human race have believed and continue to believe in entitlement.

“I’m from a more modern part of the world so I deserve…”

“The colour of my skin is…so I deserve…”

“I’ve been born into a wealthy family so I deserve…”

Utter nonsense.

All of it.

Betty came back to the present, and the anxiety kicked in. Where are you, Jug?

Chapter Text

All Jughead wanted was a happy future. In this life, he would be married to Betty, his one true love. He would have two or three beautiful kids who he could nurture and care for the way he always wanted to be looked after when he was a child: the way a child was meant to be looked after. He would provide them the very best in life, materialistically and physcologically. He’d take them on holiday, travel the world, see the sights, meet the people, try the food. He’d teach them how to love; how to be loved; how to look after one another as well as themselves; basic morals and ethics; whilst allowing them room to grow and develop, learn from their own mistakes, too. Betty would be beyond happy. She would be in a great place, job wise, if that’s what she wanted. She would be in a great place, literally, wherever they lived. She would be in a great place with her family and just in life in general.

All Jughead wanted was to 1) Betty happy and 2) To be with her forever.

And so when he rummaged his way through the heaps of destruction, sister on his dad’s back, he couldn’t help but think this was it. This was the end. It was all out of his control. At least, he’d die trying to get to Betty.

Jughead was lost. It was extremely hard to tell where they even were, especially with the sun having set.

He knew he couldn’t lose hope, for JB, for his dad, for Betty.

But it was not easy.

After what felt like hours, they were still trudging along an empty road, Jellybean having fallen asleep. FP and him weren’t talking much, trying to consume their energy. He had covered his mouth but the material wasn’t thick enough to truly protect him. The air was getting thicker but Jughead was still, remarkably able to breathe. He just wondered how much longer he would get to be so lucky.

And that’s when they saw him.

Blurry figures walking in the distance.

The headlights shone into their eyes, and the car immediately came to a halt before a fallen down tree trunk.

Yep, now this is how I’m going to die.

The back car door swung open and a person ran towards them despite the calls of disinclination from within the car itself.

Jughead squinted, his retinas recovering, to see this blonde beauty clearer. Relief washed over him. He recognised her just before she ran into his arms. Due to impact, he took a few steps backwards, smelling her hair. She pulled up the breathing mask to press her lips against his, wrapping her arms around his neck. He sunk into it, almost forgetting the unfortunate situation they were in. Reluctantly, he pulled away, “Let’s go.”

FP and JB we’re climbing into the car as Betty and Jughead ran towards it. Tumbling in, Fred locked the doors and turned around, speeding down the road. He dodged piles of all sorts of trash, in a desperate effort to get back to the Penbrooke as soon as possible. FP, JB and Jughead had been exposed to the air for way too long, and they needed to get to a safe place with water, clean air, etc. Jughead’s eyes were puffy and red, his face paler and it looked like he was getting a rash on his exposed skin. Internally, he felt like he had been punched in the gut a thousand times. He didn’t know why, but he felt like absolute shit. He wanted to throw up, but at the same time was just hungry. It felt as though his insides were pushing against his skin, wanting to explode.

He introduced Jellybean to everyone and she took a particular liking to Betty, apparently adoring her in every aspect of her being.

Betty nuzzled her face into the crook of his neck and he squeezed her hand tighter, “I love you so much.”

“Me too. So much. You have no idea how much, actually. To be honest, I probably don’t even know how much! That’s crazy,” Jughead tried to lighten the mood, but when she looked up at him with those knowing, sad eyes, he knew his dream for them was simply that.

Just a dream.

And that’s all it ever would be.

Chapter Text

Everyone was huddled on the floor. Most of the Penbrooke had been destroyed and came crashing down, but this basement was safe from the ruination. Or so they thought.

‘Why hadnt they thought of this earlier?’ you might ask. Well, in actual fact, Hermione had suggested it, but Hiram was supposedly the one who had the only remaining keys for it. So it really was a miracle when she managed to get her hands onto the dead janitor’s spare keys and rummaged through the pack to retrieve this specific set.

The air was officially classified now as ‘toxic’ ‘deadly’ and ‘poisonous’ and the conclusion was made: “anyone who is even exposed to this air at any point since the breakout, even if not showing symptoms, will die’. The other piece of knowledge that they held was that those ‘black things’ whirling away in the sky, were in fact insects of some sort, but not normal ones. No, these wore away at human flesh, and that’s most likely how Toni died.

Why was the world suddenly ending? Well, that was not clear. Theories expand from ‘Global Warming provoked it’ to ‘God had enough with mankind’ and really by this point who could blame Him?

The human race had showed terrible signs of self-destruction: racism and terrorism as a result of discrimination were at its peak; social injustice spread itself across the world, humans never taking responsibility; the do-gooders were outnumbered to the non-do-gooders; everyday people got into fights. Riverdale was, luckily, sheltered from most of these outside treacheries( but the town had its own problems, of course) hence this sudden end came as a shock to many.

Jughead never thought this is how he would die: with Betty in his arms, Jellybean, his dad and Mrs Cooper on his right. Archie being comforted by his own family; Veronica, Hermione and Cheryl bundled together; Sweet Pea and Fangs squeezing the life out of one another.

It truly was a devastating way to go.

Who would even find them when they died? Would their rotting bodies be left here and forgotten? What legacy did he leave behind? He hadn’t had enough time in this world; enough time to make the difference he needed to make; to start the life with Betty he so desperately desired.

He started gushing his love to Betty, putting a lock of hair behind her ear, telling her everything he ever wanted to tell her, everything he wanted in life with her, and what he loves about her and by how much. She started welling up before returning her own monologue.

But to be honest the words they spoke was not the only heartbreaking aspect to it all. The look in her eyes, her plump pink lips which he would never be able to kiss again, her golden cheekbones, beautiful eyelashes fluttering whenever she blushed. He whispered something into her ear making a rosy tint creep up onto her porcelain cheeks. He could still do that. He still had the power to make her blush even in such a time of crisis. He couldn’t stop looking at her as he tried to ingrain every intricacy, ever little detail of her shy smile, expressive face into his memory.

It was beautiful.

She was beautiful.

“I’m so glad I can still make you blush. You’re adorable, you know that?”

“I do, yeah,” she giggled.

His facial expression changed from amusement to sad when he apologised, “I’m sorry.”

She looked at him quizzically, “For what?”

“For everything. For hurting you. For not being with you-“

“Jug,” she pushed his hair out of his face delicately, “I’m just so glad you are here, with me, right now. So don’t be sorry, because it’s okay. I swear.”

He knew it wouldn’t sit right with him ever but she had accepted him, and so maybe he ought to try. He nodded, giving her a little smile before pressing his lips to hers, forcefully, desperate to taste her one last time. She softened as he moved his lips against her own, caressing his jaw with her hand. He wiped her tears from her cheeks, as she did him. She was trying not to sob more, it was clear, but she was so pure when she cried. He was sure his own eyes were red, but he didn’t care. He couldn’t care. His heart was breaking into a thousand tiny pieces as they awaited their fate but everything was made better with Betty by his side. When they broke apart he kissed her cheeks before pulling her back, even closer to him.

Resting his head on her’s, breathing heavily, taking in as much oxygen as they could get, he told her the last words she ever heard from him.

“I love you, Betty. I always will. I promise. Till the end.”

She looked up at him and winked, “See you in heaven, my love.”

Fin