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Neon Moon

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Truth be told, Betty wants to go home. She’s had enough of everything around her and she really just wants to go home and sit with Caramel curled up next to her on the couch. The dress is way too tight, her feet hurt, and this party is getting exceedingly worse by the second. Veronica is nowhere to be found, she knows about four people out of everyone there and they’re all pretty wasted. She wants to call an Uber and leave, but she knows she’ll wake up to a very angry text message from Veronica if she leaves without saying goodbye.

She looks around for a little bit before finding an open window to the balcony. It’s cold out, so no one’s really outside which is something she’s thankful for. Veronica had gotten her out of the apartment for the first time in a couple of weeks. She had been preparing for a role and hadn’t taken a break in a while and as much as she was thankful for Veronica, she really didn’t feel like partying. It was something she rarely ever felt like doing, her partying days were over. If she were twenty-one, she’d probably end up like some of her friends, passed out on someone’s couch or worse, the very balcony she was standing on. She’s twenty-six now and had long tired of that kind of life. For someone like her, who had been in the business since she was a child, that kind of life, at the time, seemed inevitable and she had been sucked into that world for a couple of years. Fortunately, there was no way she’d walked back into it again.

Her schedule lately has been a little hectic. Before actually taking a break to focus on her new movie, she had been promoting two movies that were coming out at the same time and next week she would start filming. But she’ll leave tomorrow for the European premiere in London and then fly back to Vancouver the same night to start shooting at five in the morning.

She was planning to cut back projects in the year to come. It had become too crazy and she had been through the same kind of crazy a few years back to know she needed a break. That was the plan, do this next movie and then work on a few other projects, mainly as a director and screenwriter. She was planning to leave New York while she worked on a script she had started idealizing.

It would be nice to get away for a bit, just disappear for little while in a town where nobody recognized her. To be alone for a little while to work out where she wanted to go, what she needed to do. To be alone.

“Penny for thoughts, Betty Cooper?” She hears a voice coming from behind her. Glancing back, she finds Jughead Jones, globally known as J.P.Jones, legally Forsythe Pendleton Jones the third. Someone she vaguely knows and someone she holds quite a strange relationship with. She’s known him for almost five years now and they’ve always seen each other at award shows and parties and Veronica’s Yacht in Cannes one time. Still, she can’t say she actually knows him or that he knows her. When they do have conversations, they tend to fall into the spectrum of playful banter and sometimes flirty banter. And while he was attractive, no doubt there, it had never ventured any further than that. She only has his number because Veronica had been really drunk one time and trying to find her, but she had no phone. Jughead had been the closest person around so Veronica used his phone. They’ve maintained this relationship of sorts, over the years, all while knowing basically nothing about each other.

“You’ll have to pay more than penny, I have higher offers on the table.” She smirks and he laughs, stepping closer to wrap his arms around her as greeting.

“It’s nice to see you, Betty.” He says easily, as he pulls away. “You’ve been missing.” He notes, lighting up a cigarette, coming to stand beside her by the railings.

“Yeah, promoting and I’m about to start shooting so...” She trails off. He nods understandingly. “I haven’t seen much of you either. Aside from that last show in the city.”

He smiles at that. “It was nice to see you there, by the way. Thanks for coming. I didn’t expect it.” Jughead confesses, bumping shoulders with her.

She chuckles softly. “It was a good show you put on.” She compliments.

“Thanks.” He grins. “I’m on a break now. I might escape somewhere.” He tells her. “Wanna come with? We could fall hopelessly in love on some deserted island.”

“Sorry, I don’t wanna have an album written about me, honey. I have to keep up my mysterious persona.”

He places a hand on his chest. “You wound me, Cooper. I’d write one song at best, baby.”

“One night with me and you’ll change your mind about that.”

“Is that an offer?” He turns to her, leaning closer and she laughs. He places a kiss to her cheek and then pulls away with a grin on his face. “I’ve missed this.”

“Yeah?”

He nods his head. “Of course. I have to ask, though, what’s a pretty girl like you doing out here all alone?” He questions teasingly.

She rolls her eyes. “If you must know, I was just taking break before looking for V. I wanna say goodbye before I go.”

“Aww, Cooper, you’re leaving already?” He pouts.

“I didn’t really wanna come anyway. Veronica dragged me.” Betty explains.

He chuckles. “I used to know a version of you that wouldn’t miss a party.”

“Yeah, well, I like this version a lot more.” She knows that he somehow understands her point. Because she also remembers a version of him that wouldn’t be talking to her on a balcony, fully sober. She used to know a version of him that slurred every word he spoke, at all times of the day. A version of him where daylight was his night and nighttime was his day.

“I like her too.” He murmurs. “I was just about to go myself. Want a ride?”

“Are you on your bike?” She raises an eyebrow.

“I know you wish you could hold me the whole way to your apartment, but no. I brought the car tonight.” He answers.

A few minutes later, after finally finding Veronica and saying goodbye, she meets Jughead in front of the house and they walk together to his car.

As they get inside and he starts the engine, she looks at him with a smile. He looks good, healthy and the bags under his eyes are less heavy. Although they aren’t necessarily friends or close, she’s seen a lot of his low moments, along with the whole world and she knows that he’s doing better now, that he’s okay.

“I think you’re the only rockstar I know that doesn’t have a driver.” She comments and he glances at her. Something serious crosses his face and she wonders if this is one of those conversations they rarely have. And as always, when they do happen, it’s usually at this hour.

His eyes turn back to the road in front of them. “It gives me a sense of control. Normalcy, if you will. Kind of like one of the things that remind of before...” He pauses. “Before all this craziness started happening and I could walk down the street like any normal human being.”

Betty sighs, leaning her head against the window. “I wouldn’t know what that’s like. The only time I remember being normal is probably when I was eight.”

“I’m sorry.” He murmurs.

“What for?” She furrows her brows.

“That you couldn’t have that. A normal life from the beginning.” He tells her sincerely.

“It’s given me everything I have today. And I’m thankful for that, but...yeah, I sometimes wish that I could’ve been normal.” She shrugs. “Then again, maybe it’s worse, you know? To know what’s it’s like to be normal and then having that destroyed.”

“Maybe but at that point, you know it comes with the territory. I want people to listen to my music, I wanna share it the same way you want people to see your movies.”

“I just wish that was it, I guess. That my life wasn’t so interesting to everyone. That my art mattered more than my life.” He’s an easy person to talk to because he understands, as someone who’s been famous since he was a teenager. “But at least I get to do what I love.”

He smiles at her. “I get it. As shitty as it is, there’s always something that makes you think of how amazing it all is.”

“I need a break though.” She laughs. “And I will, after I’m done with this movie.”

He agrees and the rest of the ride is spent in a silence, the radio turned on and as she always notices, they’re comfortable with silence the same way they are when they talk to each other. She’s always found it odd, how despite all that they are to each other, it’s very easy to be with him. And it’s always nice to know there’s someone who understands. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s thought of it, actually pursuing something with Jughead, going after whatever connection they have with each other. Most of the times, she’s thought of it, she’s always figured it wasn’t worth it. Either he wasn’t living in New York or he was off on tour or she was filming or promoting or not in the right headspace. Their relationship is more of a companionship, forged of mutual understanding and coincidences, of sarcastic humor and cheesy pick up lines and a mutual tiredness of the party life. And she’s long realized that’s all they’ll ever be.

As he stops his car in front of her apartment, she leans over to give him a hug. “It was good to see you, Jughead.” She smiles.

“It’s always a pleasure, Cooper.” He smirks, pressing a kiss to her cheek. “I’ll see you around, yeah?”

“Always.” She grins before exiting the car.

Chapter Text

“Jughead, you in there, dude?” Archie’s voice booms throughout the apartment.

“In the office!” Jughead calls out and he hears Archie’s footsteps. It’s a nice day to read. One of the main reasons he had bought the apartment had been the office. The light brought something out of him when he was in there and he had written most of the basis for his last album in the office. He loves it, he had meticulously chosen every bit of furniture in the place but as of late, he felt like he needed a change of scenery. He couldn’t write, mostly because he had nothing to write about. His last year had been chaos. He had been on tour the whole year, doing little to nothing that didn’t have to do with work and he was a bit stuck creatively. And he had tried to write, but it all just sounded void of any feeling, of anything truly real and authentic, like his past songs had been rich of.

“Hey, man!” Archie walks in, big smile on his face as always, red hair spiking all over the place. His read headed best friend of ten years, one he cherished very much, a vital part of his recovery and a vital part of his life. The one guy he knew would be there no matter what.

“Hey, what’s up?” Jughead greets as Archie takes a seat beside him on the couch.

“When did you become so boring, Forsythe?” Archie teases, as he takes the book from Jughead’s hands, inspecting it himself and ultimately deciding he’d be bored by it, he places it on the coffee table beside him.

“Archibald, you’re the predictable one in this friendship. That’s boring to me.” Jughead deadpans, rolling his eyes, with a laugh.

“I’m predictable?” Archie scoffs.

“Oh yes, all American, hunky jock, who got a scholarship because of football, from a small town makes it big? You’re a literal cliche, man.”

“Remind me why I’m friends with you?” His red headed friend shakes his head, Jughead shrugs with a smile. “Anyway, I’m here to invite you to the annual Mexico trip the crew is taking.”

Jughead sighs. “I already have plans.”

Archie lights up, a smirk covering his face. “Oooh, did you meet a girl?”

He snorts. “No, Arch. It’s more of a me myself and I kind of thing.”

“Oh come on,” Archie whines. “It’s Mexico and it’s been years since the last time you went!”

“Does the reason why ever occur to you?”

Archie frowns. “I’m sorry, yeah, I just...we won’t drink too much. And you’ve been to parties and everything and you’re doing really good. It’s been a few years, right?”

“Yeah, but I have no interest in being around very drunk jocks and dumb ass movie stars.”

“You used to love those guys.”

Jughead laughs. “Yeah until I met them sober.”

Archie huffs, leaning back against the couch. “Where are you going?”

“Canada.”

“You’re really doing this?” Veronica questions, as Betty packs everything into the car, inside the garage. “Going on some weird retreat for a month?”

Betty laughs. “It’s not a weird retreat, Ronnie. It’s a very nice cabin in Canada.” She argues, looking back at her friend. “Listen, I need this, okay? These last few years have been crazy and I need some time alone. To just be, with no added pressure of anything. And I’m gonna get some writing done, which I haven’t had the time to do. I’ll be fine.”

Veronica sighs and then wraps her arms around Betty, pulling her in for a hug. She smiles, hugging her back. “I’ll miss you, B.”

“I’ll miss you too.” She murmurs. “But I’ll be back in no time, okay?”

“Alright. Get going then, on your “me” journey.” The dark haired girl smirks, teasing and Betty laughs. “I hope you’re okay, B.”

Betty nods. “I am. I know what I have to do, Ronnie.”

As she starts the car and pulls out of the garage, she rewinds all that she had done in the year that had passed. And she knows for a fact that she had worked harder than she had in her whole life. All that she had built since she was a child kept growing larger and brighter. For a long time, she had felt guilty for being unhappy, guilty for dreading the life she led, but she had learnt better. She knew she deserved this. A time for herself, even if it’s just for a short period of time. A time for her mind to rest.

“So I’m to pick you up in a month, right?” Archie questions, as he parks the car. Jughead glances out, at the whole place, it looks as beautiful as it did in the pictures. “And you’ll be here, alone, writing your sad songs or whatever while I’ll be in Mexico, on a beach. And you could go too yet you’re choosing to stay here, in the middle of nowhere?”

Jughead grins back at him. “As it is, my answer isn’t any different than it was in the last three conversations we had about this, Arch. I’m just gonna focus on my music for a while.”

Archie pauses for a second, face serious as he looks to his friend. “Take care of yourself. Don’t stay in your head too much.” Archie tells him sincerely and Jughead leans over to hug him, pulling the red head into his arms.

“Have fun in Mexico, Arch.” He grins as he steps out of the car. He goes around to get all his suitcases and his guitar from the trunk. He stops for a second at the car window to say goodbye to Archie one last time before watching him speed off, fading in the distance.

He’s hit with how quiet the whole place is and it reminds him of Riverdale. Of summer days by Sweetwater River, of walking through the woods in the fall just to be alone. Taking a deep breath, he walks up to what he assumes is his cabin. There’s another one, a little further away but nobody seems to be around. Smiling to himself, he opens the door to the place and walks in.

He got settled, figuring out all the spots inside where he would write. When he had seen the pictures online, he knew right away that he wanted to stay in the cabin. It looked perfect for the kind of break he wanted and he figured that something had to come out of something so beautiful. Maybe it would inspire him, he had a feeling it would, a feeling he couldn’t explain.

It’s close dinner time when he hears a car. Jumping up from the couch where he had been strumming his guitar, hoping to find some melody in its strings, he walks over to the window. Outside, parked by the other house, is a car. A very nice one at that but he wouldn’t expect anything else, the cabin hadn’t been cheap. He had been guaranteed privacy and the best commodities, which were nothing short of lavish. The Jughead from the past would have never dreamed of living this life, he never would’ve guessed that the songs he had written in his bedroom in a trailer park would one day be sung by millions of people around the world, screamed back at him every time he played a show. It had all happened so fast, he had a hard time catching up.

It’s a girl. She steps out of the car. A blonde girl. His eyes widen when he realizes who it is and he laughs to himself. He hadn’t seen her in a couple of months, save for her face on billboards around the city and interviews of her on TV. Life did have a funny way of placing him at the right place at the right time.

He doesn’t hesitate in getting out and making his way across to get to her. He jogs but he knows she doesn’t hear him, when he walks up to her. She’s taking her baggage out of the trunk if the car, back turned to him, probably not expecting anyone.

“Howdy, neighbor!” He greets, teasingly, a smirk covering his face.

She screams, jumping up and turning around. “Oh my god!” A hand placed on her chest, mouth open in shock, her big green eyes widen as she recognizes him. “Fuck me...” She breathe out.

“Gladly.” He grins.

“Jughead!” She slaps his chest. “Oh my god, what are you doing here?” Then she hugs him, placing her arms around him, laughing. He hugs her back, placing a kiss on her cheek.

“I wasn’t kidding when I said I was taking a break, a couple of months ago.” He answered with a smile. “I’m guessing we had the same idea.”

Betty smiles. “Great minds think alike.”

“That they do.” He murmurs. “You know, I don’t think we’ve ever seen each other in broad daylight.” He notes. And it’s entirely true. They hadn’t seen each other on a day like this, with the sun still up, no one else around, and no one with alcohol in their system, no balconies

“Yeah...that might be true, Jones.” She nods her head. “It’s...strange.”

“People do say my eyes are beautiful in the sunlight.” He jokes, signature smirk on his face. He looks down at her bags. “You need help with that?”

“You don’t have to. I can do it.” She waves him off.

“No, let me. I promise I have nothing better to do.”

Jughead helps her with the bags, taking them inside her cabin and when they’re done, she smiles the smile that had conquered the world on the big screen. Betty Cooper was without a shadow of doubt, an ethereal woman. She was beautiful, smart and funny and talented. And in their limbo, the way their relationship came and went always made him wonder what if. What if they ever went for it. He knew her heart, even if only from long conversation at three in the morning, just as she knew his. And he always found himself wanting to uncover more of her. Peel the layers of her mind to find what thoughts circle inside, look into the green of her eyes a little closer. There had always been something to stop him, but maybe...maybe not right now. Maybe not in a secluded location, in Canada, with a beautiful lake in front of them with all the time in the world. Not nights that end with mornings and flights and shows. Only the next day, with all its hours and all its minutes. Maybe.

Maybe. Jughead smiles. “So...” He trails off. “I was just about a make dinner, so maybe if you weren’t going for complete isolation, you could come by my place and have dinner with me?” He asks. “Not to brag but I’m a pretty good cook.” He winks.

Her eye brows raise in surprise. “I’ll believe it when I see it.” She tells him. “Just give me some time to get settled and I’ll meet you there in, say, an hour?”

“Deal.”

“I’m shocked, Forsythe.” Betty’s eyes widen, mocking him as she places her fork down on the table. “You can cook.” She chuckles.

He rolls his eyes. “There are many things I can do, Cooper, you just don’t know about them yet.”

She smirks. “Yet?”

“Oh yes! In case you haven’t noticed, we’re here all by ourselves so we might as well get to know each other.” He tells her, leaning forward, with a smile on his face. She likes that, he has a nice smile and all she knows for sure, is that she wouldn’t be able to stop herself if they kept being what they’ve always been around each other.

“I know some of your darkest times.” She murmurs.”

“Yet you didn’t know I could cook.”

She smiles. “Touché.”

“The little things, Elizabeth, they’re quite important in life.” Jughead shrugs and then he looks at her, really looks. She looks relaxed, content right in front of them. And good lord, if she isn’t one of the most beautiful women he’s ever seen. “Tell me something I don’t know about you.”

She can’t force herself to look away from him. He’s gazing at her, his full attention on her, lips curled into a smile and she can’t pull away no matter the intensity in his gaze.

“I figure you can find anything online.”

Jughead shakes his head. “There’s always some part of you no one knows about. I know there’s many parts of me I don’t exactly let go out into the world.” He insists, leaning forward. “So, Betty Cooper, tell me something no one else knows about you?”

Betty decides right then and there, to throw all caution to the wind. “I can sing.”

He’s surprised, she can tell and then his mouth stretches into a huge smile. “Oh, you are not getting away with this one, Cooper.”

“Jughead, no.” She tells him firmly.

“Oh come on, there is nothing to be scared of and besides, I bet there is nothing you’re bad at, Betts.”

“Jughead, I’d literally rather be naked than have to sing to someone.” She tells him terrified.

“We can always be naked, why didn’t you say so?”

“Jug...” She sighs.

“One song?”

“Please? It will never leave this place, my lips are sealed. Just let me fall in love with you a little more.” He teases her.

“You’re a jerk.” She whines and he grins.

Standing up, he offers her a hand. “Now, my love, would prefer the piano or the guitar?”

She chooses the piano and asks him what songs he can play. They eventually settle on ‘Strange Fruit’, apparently a common favorite.

“You know, I might have to do the sax with my mouth.”

“Don’t say that to a lady, Jones.” She nudges him and he laughs, as he starts playing the piano. She’s sat beside him on the piano bench, close, their bodies touching.

The music fills the room and she closes her eyes, letting herself relax. It’s almost too easy, the way her voice comes out, without a tremble as if it knew exactly who was in the room. It’s okay. With him. It’s okay.

He’s entranced, he doesn’t know how he manages to not mess up the notes on the piano. Betty Cooper is otherworldly, eyes closed, singing to him as if she were an angel who had come to earth to bless him with her voice. He could go down like this. If anything were to ever destroy him, he’d want it to be her, singing into his ear. His eyes never leave her face, not even glancing at the piano as he listens to her voice.

When she does open her eyes, he can only whisper with the most sincere, amazed look on his face: “You’re amazing...”

She lets out a soft laugh. “Stop...”

“I did fall in love with you even more.” He smirks. He doesn’t know if he’s joking anymore.

“Alright, since I sang, I think it’s only fair if you sing.” She proposes and he laughs softly. “Please?”

“Fine, any suggestions?”

“One of your songs, actually, from the last album, the piano one? I can’t remember its name.”

“You.” He murmurs and she smiles, recognizing its title. “Maybe the cheesiest song I’ve ever written.”

“It is not cheesy! It’s...falling in love, that’s what I like about it, it’s honest, in that feeling of falling.”

Jughead chuckles, playing the opening chords. And he sings to her, directly to her, looking into her eyes and her heart drums in her chest. It’s electric, the look in his eyes, the way he’s singing to her, the smile on his face. She doesn’t quite know what to do but sit and listen. She doesn’t trust herself enough not to press her lips to his.

He’s close to her, close enough that if he leans forward a little, he can kiss her. Betty glances down at his lips and he can feel the pull between them, the way her breath hitches and her eyes switch between his own and his lips and she leans, just enough so her breath fans against his lips.

It all ends just as suddenly as it begins. She clears her throat, pulling back, as if catching herself. And his stomach drops. She gulps down. “Well, it’s late, I should go. I’m kinda tired from the trip so um, yeah...” She stands up.

“Oh, Yeah!” He stands up as well, following her to the door. “So I guess I’ll see you tomorrow?”

She smiles at him, nodding. “Thank you...for dinner and for the songs.”

“Anytime.” He smiles back at her and then presses a kiss to her cheek, lingering for moment. “Bye, Betts.”

“Bye, Jug.”

That night, for the first time in months, he writes a song.

And he knows right away, that all those years of playful banter have amounted to this very moment in time. And he’s in so much trouble.

Chapter Text

He takes it upon himself to teach her how to play piano, when he learns that she’s always wanted to play. It comes up as easily as anything else between them. They’re just talking about music, about how he had started to play guitar when he was six. She learns that his dad used to play guitar when he was younger and a dusty old guitar had always sat on the corner of the living room, untouched, ever since he could remember. So he had asked his dad to teach him. Piano had come a little later when he was fourteen and began to write his own music. He tells her he’s completely mortified of what he had written at that time, but he’s grateful. It had been his outlet, his way to express himself so openly. He had never really believed it could become other people’s savior, even if it had been his. But he was grateful it had.

She likes hearing stories of his childhood. Likes the fact that once upon a time, he had been anonymous to the world. When she had been a child star, beloved by America, he had been riding bikes and scraping knees in the Sunnyside playground. She likes their differences, just as she likes their similarities. Her heart aches for him, when he tells her that despite having two parents who loved him, money had always been a problem. Some days, they barely had enough for food. During the winter, there was no heater because they couldn’t afford it. The first thing Jughead had done when he had enough money was buying them a house and setting up a college fund for Jellybean, who Betty learns is his sister. And who, Betty’s surprised to know, loves her movies.

In return, Betty tells him about her childhood. How it had molded every part of her being. She couldn’t remember being anonymous, wether because of who her mother was or because of her own fame. Jughead doesn’t know much about her mother, he just knew that she used to be a renowned journalist, but had given her career up for Betty, to be with her for auditions and filming and everything else that had come along. She tells him that she used to feel guilty for feeling as if she had missed out on a real childhood, for every time she got sucked into the bad part of fame, of having her privacy taken at such a young age.

As they’re sitting on the rocks by the lake, he tells her that she has every right to feel the way she does. Betty has been learning, improving on excluding guilt from her mind when it came to her life. She’s learning that it’s okay to not be happy, even if life has given you everything you need to be happy.

“I am grateful, you know? For all of this. There’s a day that goes by that I’m not grateful. But...as wonderful, beautiful and as worthwhile as this life is, it also destroys you, a part of you. You have to sacrifice so much.”

“I know.” He nods.

“It was my choice though.” Betty pauses and he waits for her as she looks out at the lake, a serene look on her face. “As a kid, I was always around my mom at the studio and I saw her on TV and I wanted that, I liked the cameras, acting and so my mom brought me to auditions and I was in, in the blink of an eye.” She smiles softly. “Suddenly I’m the face of so many kid’s childhood while losing my own.”

Jughead chuckles softly, silence taking over for a bit of time as they take in the view. “You know, I promised my dad, I’d be the first Jones to go to college.” He confesses. “I didn’t go but I did everything to make sure JB did. And she’s brilliant too. Intelligent and brave and a bit of a smart ass too.”

“Is she in college now?”

He nods, lighting up with pride. She notices it always does when he talks about his sister. “She is. She’s gonna be a vet. Ever since she was little, she wanted to care of animals, even the scary ones.”

Betty smiles. “You love her a lot, don’t you?”

“With everything I’ve got.” Jughead affirms and Betty doesn’t doubt for a second. “I did everything I could to give her the life she has now. When my parents couldn’t. I worked two jobs by the time I was fifteen and part time gigs here and there to set aside money I knew my parents couldn’t, to put her through college.”

Betty covers his hand with hers. “You’re an incredible person, Jug.” He looks away from her, shrugging with a soft laugh but she pulls him back, forcing him to look at her when she places her hand on his chin. “I mean it. Please don’t.”

“What?” He murmurs.

“Don’t shrug it off. Don’t tell yourself not to believe it.”

“Betty...”

“I’ve done it too many times to know. Believe me. Please.”

He’s not sure how, but he’s sure he’d believe anything if she looked at him like that again.

For what it’s worth, Betty Cooper is a fast learner. And as an actress, it is a desirable quality to have and it has earned her many roles in the past. Jughead is surprised at how easily she picks it up. She’s not the greatest but it’s definitely a great start. She laughs at the little papers attached onto each key, indicating every note and her heart flutters at the effort he’s putting in everything. She has to remind herself that they’re playing a very dangerous game. Playing on the edge of the cliff, close to free falling right into the abyss. She feels herself gravitating towards the very last bit of land as his hand brushed hers, smile on his face as he teaches her.

In a matter of days, he looks different to her. She notices things. The blue in his eyes is that of the ocean, they offer her a feeling of comfort and they’re soft when he looks at her. His hands, though calloused, are gentle when he brushes his fingers against hers and when he takes her hand. He has a beautiful smile, and of course she knew that already, but it’s something else when she’s the one who puts it there, when it’s so genuine and kind, she can’t help but smile back. His voice sends shivers down her spine, when he’s singing and when it’s not, she likes it when his voice is a low hum beside her, she likes how deep it gets when night falls and the dark calls for quiet, making him lean closer, his scent overpowering her senses and his lips clouding her judgement making her want to kiss him with each second that passes.

It’s a dangerous game. To notice him. To be so aware of the effect he has on her. To want to know more. To want to know everything. She’s close to throwing caution to wind and say without a care, fuck it, she wants him. She wants him, in the deepest part of her, she wants all of him. Her skin tingles with longing for his touch. And she wishes that it was just physical attraction, one powered by lust and desire but deep down, she knows with certainty, it’s not. She wants his lips on hers, but she also wants to know his greatest fear. She wants him to pick her up, legs wrapped around his waist and she wants to know his deepest thoughts. She wants him to carry her to bed, she wants him to strip her off her clothes and she wants him to bury himself inside her, and then she wants to lie in his arms afterwards, she wants him to smile at her the way he smiles at music. She wants to have breakfast with him in the morning and she wants to dance during the night, by the refrigerator light as they laugh together.

And all of that, is so much more terrifying. Because she’ll tell him her secrets, the her she doesn’t broadcast to the world, she’ll show him her scars. Her heart knows him. Like some cosmic happenstance, the stars conspiring to get them, her heart knows his. Perhaps it has always known and it feels terrifying, feeling as though you’re close to something happening, perhaps something that was meant to happen.

Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, her and Jughead were a matter of time. And now, in the right place, at the right time, she’s thinking seriously about takingthe risk.

“Betts?”

She snaps out of her daze to smile at him.

“You okay?” He questions and her heart aches for the look of concern that crosses his face. “Lost you there for a second.”

“Can we take a little break, maybe continue tomorrow?”

“Am I terrible teacher?” He asks, with a laugh.

“No, God, no, you’re...” She smiles, her eyes piercing into his. “Amazing. I just...we have time, right?”

“Of course.” He nods.

“So maybe we could go for a walk? It’s a nice day out.” She suggests a grin on her face.

“Okay, 2015, Oscars after party at Fangs’ place, you found me in the library, which is shocking because no one would guess that Fangs has a library.”

Betty laughs. “And we spent the whole night talking about the book you were reading-“

“-re-reading!”

“In Cold Blood! Your favorite!” She tells him with an excited look on her face.

“You remember that?”

“Oh please, Jones, I spent an entire night listening to you babble on and on about it. You literally analyzed every sentence of it to prove that it was the best book ever written!”

“I never said it was the best book ever written! But it revolutionized a whole genre and all while being brutally honest and real! It’s not a made up story, it’s real and to me that’s what’s so interesting about it.” His eyes light up and she laughs at his excitement. “If I do recall correctly, your favorite book is ‘Beloved’.”

“Toni Morrison.” She nods with a smile on her lips. “I actually met her, at this fund raiser a few years ago. She’s an incredible woman, wise. We had a nice conversation.” She tells him and then she judges him as they’re walking. “You remembered that.”

“Yeah, I might’ve read it after you mentioned it.”

Her heart flutters without permission and her heart stops for millisecond when he takes her hand. He laces their fingers together and the way he looks at her tells her that he knows exactly what’s happening. He feels it just as she does. He can see the timer the same way she does and by the looks of it, he wants to cut the wires. Shorten the waiting game.

“Your hands are cold.” He murmurs.

She gulps down. “Yeah, they usually are.”

“Wanna sit? Watch Canadian birds do their thing?” He throws a glance at the bench and she laughs softly.

He doesn’t let go of her hand when they sit. She sighs beside, her eyes closing as takes a breath. He takes this opportunity to steal a glance at her, the sunlight on her face. And he smiles to himself, knowing he’s absolutely screwed. He looks down at their hands, rubbing his thumb against her palm. He notices little indentations on her skin, spaces where they shouldn’t be and furrows his brows. Betty opens her eyes to watch him. He sees her scars when he turns her hand to him. And she just watches him.

She has never consciously hidden the scars and they’re quite faint if you aren’t really looking for them. The little crescent moons on her palms, her scars, they’re her battle wounds, they meant she had survived the war with herself. And now they were there, as a silent reminder that cracking her armor wasn’t worth the pain, that there was more to life than her pain.

He doesn’t say anything as he traces her skin, he just stares at both hands, when she turns the one that’s left for him to see and then he wraps them with his own, bringing them to his lips.

And at that moment, the chance of them being just friends is completely thrown out by how she feels for him at that moment. As his gentle lips touch her skin.

“I don’t do it anymore.” She whispers and he looks up at her. “I used to whenever it got a little too much. It started when I was kid and then I just kept doing it, until a few years back when I got therapy. I...have other to feel cope now, healthy ways.”

He nods. “What do you do?”

“I have a list. Of all the good things that have happened to me and then I make a list about good things that happened to me in the last week. And I repeat it in my head. And if it gets really bad then I call Ronnie and we drive somewhere, just the two of us.” She answers, her voice low as he sits close to her. “But I haven’t had to in a while. I haven’t felt the need to.” She adds.

“That’s good.” He murmurs.

“Jughead, it’s okay, I’m fine.”

“I know.” He smiles softly. “I just hate that you ever felt the need to do this.” She ignores the feeling his words bring for the time being.

“Look at you, going all soft on me.” She teases, nudging him.

“I do have to uphold my reputation as a sensible guy. Girls around the world don’t love my lyrics for nothing.” He grins back at her. There’s a second of silence as he smiles at her and she can’t quite believe she’s never seen him this way before. She can’t believe she’s never seen him. “Should we head back?”

She nods. “Yeah, I’m still going to write for a bit.”

She remembers where she was when she heard his last album. Spain. In Barcelona, to be exact. It’s an odd thing to remember but she’d been filming when it came out, so she had played it absentmindedly while she was in her trailer. And as she hears him sing her favorite song off the album, as he indulges her wish one more time, this time with a guitar on his lap, she can’t help but think of how fitting it is.

In an interview, J.P Jones had said: “‘You’ is essentially about falling in love or the moments before you actually do. It’s about vulnerability. The strange and magnificent limbo in which we find ourselves in when starting a real relationship with someone. When suddenly the other person isn’t just another person and you see them in a different light. And you’re scared because you’re about to carve their name on your heart. And it’s every bit as terrifying as it is exhilarating. And you can’t stop it from happening.”

Yes...how fitting. She doesn’t know how to stop freight train that’s coming right at her. And she wants to kiss him. Wants his eyes to close, wants him to think of her. She wants that exact minute of bliss with no consequence of what comes next. A minute, she’ll be fine with just a minute, sixty seconds of their worlds crashing, of tides changing.

And as he sets his guitar down, talking about playing that song for a crowd, the feeling of it. She pictures scooting closer to him, she sees herself placing a hand on his cheek and she sees herself placing her lips on his.

And yes, no doubt in her mind, she wants it.

And fuck anything else during those sixty seconds.

She doesn’t want to just picture it anymore.

Chapter Text

There was a party in LA that he remembers. It’s foggy at best, loose memories of a night he couldn’t remember the end of. It must’ve been five years ago, when he was twenty two. He remembers Betty. He realizes it’s the clearest memory of the night. He remembers, hanging onto her because he couldn’t stand on his own. His friends had been more blacked out than he’d been back then. And she’d been there with him. She wasn’t fully sober either, she was tipsy and maybe a little high but she had helped him, had splashed cold water on his face, had rubbed his back when he was throwing up. Had helped him get home. He doesn’t remember much of the rest of the night. Neither its beginning or its end. But he remembers her. He knows they had been talking about something rather trivial and of no importance before he got a little too out of it. The mix of alcohol and drugs. The ultimate downfall that had begun so easily. But in the midst of all the haziness, he sees her clearly in his mind. Younger, different clothes, different hairstyle. But he sees her.

He remembers many moments between them. Moments he used to believe were normal, every meeting just a happenstance and their connection just a simple one. He was wrong. It’s so much more complex than he could ever have imagined, so delicate at the same time. He hates very word he’s been using in his mind. Fate. Their souls connecting in a way that is almost tangible.

It had always been there. Dormant perhaps. A low hum in both their hearts. Just waiting to be ignited in full blown out wildfire. They were seconds away from the blast, he could feel it. He knew she felt it too.

He’s talking about the stars, something he used to be interested as a kid and Betty...she’s staring. At him. At his lips. The way they move when he talks. His smile. And how genuine it is. And he knows.

And she does too.

“I think we’re fucked.”

He laughs softly. “Why is that?”

“What’s the probability of you wanting to kiss me at this very moment?”

She’s laying the cards right out on the table. Glorious in all the inevitability of the pull between. She’s the one driving the freight train, no intention of stopping it now. The train that used to be running its course towards her, she’s now fully on board, whisking him away for the ride.

“100%.” He breathes out. She gulps down, eyes casting down to his lips and then back up at his eyes. “And if you don’t quit looking at me like that, then I’ll raise it to 200%.”

“300%.” She whispers. And he places his hands on each side of her waist, bringing her closer to him. She closes the distance, placing her forehead on his. “We shouldn’t, right?”

“Just kiss me, Cooper.” He smirks. “Or I will-“

She crashes her lips onto his before he has the chance to say anything else, hands on his cheeks as their lips move together. He pulls her even closer and her mind is completely caught up on how his lips feel on hers. Every thought just demolished by the feeling of him pressed up against her.

In his head, he’s telling himself to remember the feeling of kissing her for the first time. Like the feeling you got when you first watched your favorite movie and you wish you could feel it again. He wants to bottle the feeling, the softness of her lips, the smell of her shampoo, his hands on her cheeks.

He pulls back for a second to look at her with a smile and she misses him already. “I always wondered what that’d be like.”

“Did I live up to your expectations?” She smirks.

“Don’t know, I need another taste.” He presses his lips to hers again and she laughs into his mouth, arms wrapped around his neck. She throws one leg over him, pulling herself up on his lap, hands locked into his dark hair. His lips leave her mouth to travel to her neck and she loses all train of thought. He’s infatuated, taken by the goddess that had perched herself up on his lap.

“Jug...” She breathes out a sigh.

“You’re heaven, Betty Cooper.” He murmurs against her skin and then he looks up at her. And it all stops as he gazes up at her, smile on his lips. “I hope you know, that I can’t go back to before now.” Her fingers trace his eyebrows, down to his jaw. “Not when I know what it’s like to kiss you.”

She smiles, kissing him delicately. “Good, cause I don’t want you to.”

“If I’d known it would be like this, I would’ve had you so long ago.”

“I don’t think it would’ve been right.” She shakes her head. “Besides, I quite like this setting a lot more than any others we’ve been in.”

He kisses her again, hands running down her back, grasping for any way to get even closer, as close as possible to the one thing he never knew he’d wanted so bad. And it’s every bit crazier than he had imagined. Having her in his arms, having privilege to kiss her lips is beyond his wildest dreams.

She pulls away. “I want this. I want you.” She whispers, almost as a whine, forehead pressed up against his, ragged breaths, heart accelerated. “Jug-“

“Shut up.” He teases, hoisting her up in his arms, standing up from the couch. She laughs against his lips, as he carries her across the cabin to the bedroom. He lays her down on the bed, hovering over her with a smile on his lips. His fingers trace the hem of her shirt. “May I?” He whispers and she nods. “God you’re beautiful.” The look in his eyes send shivers down her spine. It only makes her pull him closer, his fingers now caressing her bare skin. She tugs her skirt down, leaving her only in her underwear.

“I think you’re overdressed, Jones.” With a grin o n her face, she pulls his shirt off, taking note of a body she had never seen. He had never been closer to her. There’s a tattoo of a Serpent on his arm and a tattoo on his chest she couldn’t quite figure out. She traces her fingers across it. “What’s this?” She whispers.

“The sound wave of ‘Oceans’. I’d say it’s one of the most important songs I’ve written.” He answers back.

She smiles. “That’s nice.” She murmurs, letting her hands travel down his stomach. Though he wasn’t ripped, he was handsome, toned and Betty’s mind overdrives on the feeling as he leans down to press a kiss to her lips and then wanders down. Across her neck, to the valley of her breasts. She flips them, so she’s on top of him. He smirks up at her as she removes her bra, throwing it somewhere across the room. She fumbles with the button of his pants and then tugs them down.

“Hey, Betts?”

“Mmmh?”

“You don’t happen to have a condom, do you?”

“I don’t-“ She freezes. “No. You have to be kidding me. I’m taking a break from pill.” She groans.

“Then we have a problem. I wasn’t exactly planning on having sex while staying here so I don’t have condoms. You don’t have condoms so...”

“Oh fuck me.”

“I would, sweetheart, but...”

“Shut up.”

“Well, there are other ways.” He smirks. “I’m gonna take care of you, sweetheart. I can’t have you naked in my bed and not do anything about it.” He travels south, placing kisses across her skin as he does.

He makes pancakes for her at three in the morning. They explore each other’s bodies well enough and the image of Betty unraveling on his tongue will forever be etched across his memory as the hottest thing he’s seen in his life. It’s fun but he’d like to be buried inside her and she’d like that very much so they make plans for a very awkward phone call to security, but a very necessary one.

But it’s three in the morning and Betty’s wearing his shirt, sat on the counter of the kitchen with a lazy smile on her lips and he thinks that maybe he doesn’t ever wanna leave. His mind is already working up lyrics to describe the softness of her skin and the feeling of her tongue. He’s already thinking about using the beat of her heart to whatever song he’ll cook up. And he knows for a fact that whatever songs he’ll write from now on are hers.

“I hate the fact that you’re a good cook. You’re gonna get me out of shape.” Betty mumbles, taking a bite of her pancakes.

“I know ways to burn the calories.” He smirks at her as he places a short kiss to her lips.

“I really wish we could burn them. But I’m really not into having children at the moment.” She rolls her eyes, laughing softly.

“Right, definitely, in a couple of years maybe? Could definitely see you popping a little Jughead out.”

“We don’t need another cheesy rockstar out in the world.” She bites back.

“I thought you liked my songs?” He gasps,in mock offense. “And anyway, was that your way of telling me you want a girl?”

“Jesus Christ, you’re anxiety inducing, Jones.”

“I can also be orgasm inducing.”

There’s a pause. “That was terrible. True but very bad.”

“I can definitely make up for it with my mouth.” He grins at her.

“Please do.” Laughing, he grabs her chin, leaning forward to catch her lips.

“You know, it’s our time of the night?” He murmurs, pulling away for a second.

She furrows her brows, smile on her lips. “What? Three in the morning?”

“The AM. That’s ours. Always has been.” He tells her, running his finger across her cheek.

“With an addition, of course.” With a smirk on her face, she pecks his lips.

“What’s that?”

“I know what you look like when you come.”

He’ll repeat it again and again. Elizabeth Cooper was going to kill him eventually. And he’ll happily go down like this. Watching her laugh at his expense as he attempts to row a boat. He has never been particularly athletic and truthfully the experience he had rowing a boat had been somewhere around fifth grade when everyone had gonna to camp. The sportiest he ever gotten had been when he got sober and started running everyday.

“Elizabeth, if you keep laughing at me and not helping, I will tip this boat.” He threatens but she keeps laughing.

“I’m sorry but this is brilliant. How do you even play piano, your coordination is terrible?” She laughs, throwing her head back.

“I’m good with my fingers.”

“Oh, I know that.” She smirks at him.

“Are you in need of a cold shower? I can arrange that, Cooper.” He says as he leans down, getting a handful of water and splashing it towards her.

“Jughead!” She gasps and then narrows her eyes at himself splashes water back at him and she knows she’s made a mistake by the mischievous gleam in his eyes. He tackles her, pulling her with off the boat and into the water. He laughs loudly as she comes up the surface, splashing water at him and cursing him for ruining her clothes. “You Asshole!” She hits him, pushing him away but he only pulls her to him, wrapping his arms around her.

He presses his lips to hers, in a slow kiss, shutting her up, as he wraps his arms even tighter around, her hands on both sides of his cheeks.

He’s glad their easy banter and general comfort around each other hasn’t changed a bit since embarking on the journey of trying their relationship out. If anything it’s only become better, more open now that they know where the other’s at. And to touch her, to feel her skin on his is one of the best things he’s ever experienced. And he wants to keep her, without a single doubt.

The walk back to the cabins has them in a comfortable silence, hand in hand and Jughead thinks he likes the way she smiles. He can’t help but notice how real it seems and if he is even a small part of its cause, he’s happy about it. She looks calm, in a way he has never seen her before and he vows to keep it that way, at least for next month.

“I’ll meet you for dinner, yeah?” She asks softly as they stand in front of their cabins.

He smiles. “Yeah, Betts.” He presses his lips to hers, in a soft kiss. And when he pulls away, she’s smiling at him. “See you at seven.”

“At seven.” She nods.

He watches her go in the cabin and then turns around to go to his. He felt happy, in the most genuine and real way, he felt happy. So when he gets inside the cabin, he makes a bee line for the guitar, the lyrics already forming in his mind, as he begins to strum the strings.

Writing is easy when it’s real. And she’s as real as it gets. And the words come easier than they’ve been lately. It feels right. And he hates that he’s thinking of it so soon, but it feels as though she’s the missing piece, everything he’s been missing for the past few years. Trying to write the album without inspiration had been impossible but he was sure he had found it in her. In her eyes, in her lips, on her skin. He’s intoxicated by the feeling he gets when he’s with her, cursing through his vein, heart slowing at the sight of her. He’s gone for her, no stopping it now, the way the melody falls from his lips as he plays tells him enough. She’s the melody, he’d write a song about her eyes alone. In fact, he already has, stored in a voice memo on his phone. Emerald, he had called it. He never knew it could be so easy to write about the color green but then her eyes stared into his, in the middle of the night, cheeks flushed, lips swollen from kissing him. Then he had her in his arms, looking up at him as the sun set over the horizon. And when he sang to her, her eyes spoke a thousand words he knew she didn’t know how to voice. The color green was beginning to become his favorite color.

Give him that smile on her face and that look in her eyes he’s learning and memorizing in his head and he’ll give you a million songs.

She likes the stars. Says that they make her feel small. A tiny spec in the whole universe, just a minuscule particle in the vast void of space and time, a bleep in history, a face on a screen and a whole lot of everything to him.

Betty likes to compare her problems to those of the universe. What’s her problems compared to a supernova somewhere in the universe, something so massive and beautiful, a star dying in all its grandeur. She’s small, she’s just Betty compared to the universe. And she likes that, she likes to be Betty. And nothing else that being Betty means to the whole world.

It was her idea, to watch the stars. After dinner, she had looked outside and it looked so magnificent. So that’s how they wound up lying on a blanket looking up at the sky. More often than not, he’ll get distracted by her beauty or by the sound of her voice.

“It’s late, right?” She whispers. He hums, nodding his head lightly and he listens, to her breathing, the inhale, as she shifts a little closer, wrapped around him. “Can I tell you something I don’t really talk about with many people?”

He doesn’t hesitate. “Of course.” He murmurs, against her head and he can feel her heart drumming in her chest.

The pause that follows, the way her hand is tracing patters on his chest through his shirt tells him this is a vulnerable moment for her. And he knows because they’ve had moments like this, of complete honesty and openness, laid bare but he’s had enough moments with her to know that it’s something more, a place in her heart that’s undiscovered by his touch, by his thoughts, by his voice.

“I tried to kill myself.” She tells him, quietly. “Six years ago. When I pulled away from the spotlight, that’s what happened.” She continues and he doesn’t say anything, just lets her talk, tell him of her darkest hour. “I took pills. And...Ronnie found me before it was too late. Right on time, just to check on me because I seemed strange on the phone when she talked to me. She saved me. And she helped me get through recovery, treating myself.”

He pulls her a little tighter against him, eyes closing for a moment, heart aching for her but he doesn’t quite know what to say yet. But she keeps talking.

“I wish I could be like those people who talk about their struggles to help others, but I’ve never...I just don’t know how. And I’ve gotten better at that, the whole talking about it thing but I can’t broadcast it to the world. And I know I don’t have to. The truth is I’m depressed. And that will always be with me one way or the other. And I’m still working on not feeling embarrassed about it or guilty because I have everything I could ever want. I’m still working on me, on getting better.”

Jughead is looking at her, soaking in every word she’s saying, gazing with an intensity she can feel without even looking. His voice is low when he speaks into the night. “I had this...life changing moment when I got sent to rehab.” He gulps, pausing. “This guy just sat next to me on the second day, this forty year old guy, I think he was writer or something and he told me that alcoholism is a disease. Sure, it’s your fault that you started drinking a little too much to numb everything but your addiction is a disease and you have to fight it like people fight cancer. And you have to hold on to the bright things, the light, those things that bring you light and you hold on and you pull through. And I did.”

She runs a finger across his jaw, smiling softly. “What was your light?”

He chuckles. “Music. I just wrote a brunch of songs when I was in there, I kept playing and writing and I read a million books and I thought about seeing my little sister again. And I wanted her to see me healthy and happy. But I started wanting things for myself and not just for everybody else, you know?”

“You forget about yourself sometimes, right? When they want everything from you, you give too much away.” She murmurs, snuggling closer to him.

He sighs softly. “Yeah...I lost myself when I was on tour and I felt so fucking alone, playing for thousands of people and meeting fans and being surrounded by people everyday and still just lonely as shit. Then I tried to talk to people around, saying I just couldn’t do it anymore and they just asked for more albums and interviews and I wanted it to stop. And with each drink, I started forgetting the pain and I wanted that, so I never wanted to be sober. And at a certain a point, shows were just shows that I don’t remember, people are just blurs in a room and I’m just there. Not really living, not even surviving, just slowly destroying myself.”

“I get that.” She whispers.

He places a kiss to her head. “I know you do. And I’m glad we can talk.”

She offers him a smile as she looks up at him. She looks at him for a few seconds, as he stared up at the sky holding her against him. “What made you stop? Get help?”

He breathes out. “I woke up on a sidewalk Amsterdam, with a broken arm and my face all beat up. JB and my manager found me. I saw myself in the mirror and I couldn’t see me. I saw the way JB looked at me as if I was monster. So I got on a plane and checked myself in LA’s finest rehab facility.”

Silence takes over and they just lie there in each other arms. The quiet night providing the background to all their thoughts. Betty’s the one to break it, murmuring against the skin on his neck. “Thank you.”

“For what?” He chuckles.

“For these last few weeks. And for always sharing with me, never making me feel...like I’m a screw up.”

He glances at her lips then back up to her eyes, so struck by the green. “Can I kiss you?”

She grins. “By all means, Jones. Go ahead.” And he places his lips on hers. She deepens the kiss, pulling him closer to her. And he pulls back, to look at her.

“I want you.” He murmurs.

She only nods and he kisses her hungrily, pulling her on top of him. “Please tell me security stopped by.” She mumbles, pulling away for a second. He laughs, nodding. “Then take me to bed, Jones.”

“With pleasure.”

Chapter Text

There was a place she used to go as a child with her father. Just the two of them, a father daughter time that usually went uninterrupted. Back in her first home town, the two of them would go to her dad’s garage on the other side of town. There were two cars that they were restoring. Her beloved 78’ Corvette that she still has and a Mustang, their first project. 

 

Her father used to race, but due to an accident, had been left unable to race anymore. He couldn’t drive as his hands trembled too much; the accident had affected his motor abilities. It had left him a heartbroken man because he couldn’t do what he loved, as much as he wanted to. Betty remembers that the only place she had felt him truly happy, with a smile on his face was in that garage, teaching her, even at sixteen years old, a child star, the world at her feet. She liked being there, with him, doing the things he couldn’t. It had been his life project to restore the Mustang. And they had finished it. 

 

She had learned to drive in that Mustang. And that Mustang had taken everything. Her father had crashed it, taking his own life when she was twenty. His condition had gotten worse and he couldn’t do it. She never blamed him, despite the way her sister called him a coward. He had left them, but she had seen him. His pain, the way he hid it and she couldn’t blame him. Ever. Polly had never seen him in that garage, hands covered in oil, teaching her how to work on an engine. She hadn’t seen his smile, as she drove the car.

 

The 78’ Corvette was restored by her, alone, a few years later on the road to recovery of her own.  

 

As she finishes telling Jughead the story, she loves the way his eyes stare her down. She tells stories of her father with a smile on her face now, because despite everything she understands him, better than anyone in her family. She knows what it’s like to want everything to end. But unlike her father, she had ways to get better, she could still do what she loved, she just hadn’t realized a way out. 

 

“He sounds like a great guy.” Jughead murmurs, pressing a kiss to her forehead. 

 

“He was. The best.” Betty nods, smiling. “I miss him.” 

 

“I know I say this a lot, but I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Everything. You’re so strong, Betts.” He tells her. 

 

She presses her lips to his. “You’re so good, Jug.” And he falls a little more for the color of her eyes in that moment. And his heart is running from him into her, not even step by step, just speeding towards her and she’s there with open arms and open heart and he never wants this to stop for a second. He doesn’t want to sleep or he’ll miss a piece of his history.

 

She’s never been so vulnerable before. He knows things about her she never talks about. About her dad, her mom, her life. And he’s always so honest and open about his own struggles. She knows he understands. And that’s why it’s so easy with him, it’s never been like this with anyone else. 

 

“I didn’t process it before, but did you tell me you own a Corvette?” Jughead questions a while a later as they lie in silence. 

 

“I do.” She grins.

 

“That’s hot.” He groans.

 

“How old are you? Sixteen?!” She snorts. He laughs, hovering over her. “So, you going to get started on those pancakes I was promised or what?” 

 

“Don’t you think our pancake consumption is becoming a little too much, sweetheart?” 

 

“Baby, did you just hear yourself?” She gasps dramatically. “If I do remember correctly, you’re the one who said that it wouldn’t matter. We’ll burn the calories, right?” With a smirk on her lips, she kisses him. “Now go!”

 

“Impatient much?”

 

“Well, I’m hungry, you wore me out.”

 

“I see what you’re doing and I’m not going to stop you.” He grins as he gets off the bed. 

 

 

“Dance with me.” He whispers in her ear, Georgia On My Mind is playing on the record player. And they’re barefoot in the middle of the living room, she’s wearing his t-shirt and there’s no place he’d rather be than with her, the lights dimmed, swaying to an old tune, singing it into her ear. 

 

He spins her, laughing with her, as she comes closer to him, pressing her lips to his in a soft kiss. “I never thought you’d be like this.” 

 

“Like what?” 

 

“This romantic.” She grins, pecking his lips. “I like it, it’s sweet. You’re sweet.” He laughs, shaking his head, as they sway. “I don’t think I’ve ever done this this way.” 

 

He furrows his brows. “What do you mean, Betts?” 

 

She shrugs. “Usually whenever I start anything with anyone, there’s always something happening, either a party or we’re shooting and there’s always a million things to think about, to circle around, you know? You can’t exactly go out to dinner wherever you want in LA or in New York without being seen.” A soft sigh escapes her and he presses a kiss to her forehead. She places a hand on his cheek, looking up at him. “I’ve never had anything that was close to what other people do when they date, a normal thing or as close to it as I can get. I don’t have to plan with you, things just happen. And that’s a first for me.” 

 

“I want to keep us that way.” He murmurs.

 

Something crosses her eyes that he can’t put a finger on. But his question is answered the moment she speaks. “Are we moving too fast?” She whispers, as if voicing it out loud would make the world crumble around them. 

 

“I don’t know.” He answers honestly.

 

“I’m scared, Jug...” She pauses, breathing out. “I don’t want us to implode. I don’t want us to crash and burn before we even get the chance to enjoy the ride. I want the ride, Jug. So bad.” 

 

He joins their foreheads together, closing his eyes. “I want us to have it. I think...I think we deserve that. But...I don’t know how slow I can go.” 

 

She chuckles softly, a little shaky as she caresses the hair on the back of his neck. “Maybe the reason this feels so fast is because we both wanted it long before being here. We’ve always wondered, right?” 

 

He nods his head as the record playing starts playing its last notes. They stay silently in each other’s arms for a while, until he opens his eyes, gazing at her for a few seconds before eventually speaking into the silence that had settled between them. “Can you do something for me?” 

 

“What?” She whispers. 

 

“Write me a list of all the things you’ve always wanted to do but you never could because of who you are. Even the most mundane things you can think of.” 

 

“And what? You’ll make it all come true?” She smirks. 

 

“Don’t underestimate me, Cooper. I’ve got moves you’ll never see coming.” 

 

She smiles and then nods her head. “Okay. Yeah, I’ll write that list.” 

 

A few seconds pass as the song plays on. “Oh, by the way, any chance we can go for a ride on the Corvette of yours?” He smirks. “I’ll make a list of my own starting with that.” 

 

 

Betty’s writing, so he’s left with his guitar and his songs and a million different thoughts cursing through his brain. He might actually love this girl. It had hit him as he wrote a song. Like an avalanche just knocking him off his feet. He might love her. And it had all happened so quickly yet slowly. Maybe he had loved her for years before ever really knowing and perhaps now he was ready to be overwhelmed with his love for her. 

 

He calls Archie. One of the only people who can probably talk some sense into him for loving a girl after so little time. And because if he can show Archie all that he’s felt, maybe his best friend wouldn’t have to talk any sense into him. Because maybe, just maybe, it makes all the sense in the world. To love her. 

 

“Are you telling me you think you’re in love?” Archie questions. On his side of the phone, he’s looking out at the ocean, his crew somewhere in the background, partying. Even Archie’s a bit sick of it all by now and when he got Jughead’s call, he just sort of left the party without hesitation. 

 

“Arch...I’ve never felt this way about anyone, there’s just something about her... I don’t know what, I can’t stop what’s happening and I think I’m in love with her, it’s like some sort of out of body experience whenever I’m with her.” 

 

“Look, man, you usually have a flare for the dramatic.” Archie says and Jughead laughs softly. “Maybe you’re infatuated, I just don’t want you to jump into anything like that, man. How do you even know this girl?” 

 

Jughead grins, his mind traveling to the beauty on the cabin next to his. “It’s Betty, Arch.” 

 

“The Betty? Cooper? That Betty?” He questions. 

 

“The one and only.” 

 

There’s a pause and then Archie laughs a little. “So it’s finally happened, huh? You always did say there was something there.” 

 

“But it’s so much more than that, Archie. It’s not something, it’s everything.” 

 

Archie sighs. “Well, I was going to say you barely knew this girl, but you’ve known her for a long time.” 

 

“And I’ve written, Archie. Words come so easily, easier than ever when I’m with her.” He tells his best friend. “I...I really do think I love her.” 

 

“Okay. I just... I don’t want you to get hurt.” His best friend confesses. “Be careful, please.” 

 

Jughead rolls his eyes. “Come on, I-“ 

 

“No. Be careful.” Archie tells him sternly. “When you love someone, you them give everything you have. Save something for yourself, Jug. I know you.” 

 

Jughead closes his eyes for a second breathing in. “If this is about Sabrina, I want you to know it’s different.” He murmurs into the phone and Archie doesn’t say anything back so he continues. “It’s so different. In reality, I know this is fast, right? We’ve kissed like two weeks ago for the first time. But Betty and I we’ve...we’ve always been something. The timing was just never right. And now...I think it is.” 

 

“The shit that went down with Sabrina went up in flames in two months because you loved her with everything you had and she didn’t.”  

 

“Sabrina was also a manipulative woman. Betty’s...Betty. I know her. I’ve known her for years. And I want her for as long as she’ll have me.” Jughead tries to explain, but he can’t quite put it into words. Of course it’s different from Sabrina. He was young and stupid with her, she was older and she manipulated him and she hurt him. With Betty, she had always been there in the corner of his mind as a maybe. Betty had always been Betty. Beautiful, intelligent and an enigma. He had gotten pieces of her over the years and he had gotten most of the puzzle in the last few weeks. And there was still so much more to find out. To love. 

 

“Then...you do that. And I’d love to meet her sometime. You’ve always talked about Betty and if she makes you happy, then I’m happy for you, Jug.” 

 

Jughead smiles. “Thanks, Arch. I love you, man.” 

 

“I love you too, bro.” Archie answers back. “And by the way, Josie and I hooked up again.” 

 

Jughead groans. “You guys can never stay away for too long, can you?” 

 

“Yeah, well, we have our fun. Unlike you, some people actually need time to fall in love.” 

 

“Oh shut up!” 

 

“Bye, man. I’ll catch you later!” 

 

“Bye, Arch!” 

 

 

She gives him the list exactly a week before he’s scheduled to leave. They are scheduled to leave their own little safe haven that had blossomed into so much and the truth is, he’s scared. Because they were going out into the real world, full of commitments and people and so many things that could possibly destroy them. But then, he knows his fear will never stop him from loving her. From being with her. 

 

And Betty...she chooses not to think about what will happen after the week ends. She avoids the topic like it’s the plague. Any time he brings it up, she ends up changing the subject. And he wishes he could read her mind. It’s not that she’s distancing herself, but there’s something wrong about her denial of them leaving in a week. 

 

All he knows for sure is that he loves her. And he wants to make her happy, the way that she deserves to be. And he still doesn’t know enough about her to figure out what’s really going on. He just wants to make sure that what they are, doesn’t change. 

 

But then, he makes a mistake. The truth slips from his lips as he comes undone at their hour of the night. Burying his face in her neck, he whispers ‘I love you’ into her skin. 

 

He notices immediately how the whole atmosphere changes, whatever chemicals were flowing through them have suddenly shifted. And she’s frozen beneath him, eyes wide open. 

 

“Betty?” He murmurs, lifting his head up to look at him, but she doesn’t respond. She pushes him off of her, climbing out of bed. “Wait, Betty!” He calls out as she starts putting her clothes on. He comes up to her. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, okay? Talk to me, please!” Jughead tries. 

 

“Please let me go.” She sounds so small that he has no choice but to let her go. His heart aches as he follows her to the door. And she leaves without saying a word. 

 

Nothing’s ever felt so wrong. 

 

The truth has never been so bitter on his tongue. 

 

I love you, Betty Cooper 

Chapter Text

“Betty, please, I just- “He chases her as she takes the suitcases down to the car, as quickly as she can. She can’t do it. Can’t have him say it again. He had seen her from his window, his heart racing as he realized what she was doing. “I know it’s fast and I didn’t mean to spring it on you like that and I get it, okay, it scared the shit out of me too, but can we talk, please? Just let me- Betty?”

She turns to him. “I’m sorry.” She tells him, voice cracking. “I just need some time. I need some space.” Without waiting for an answer, not wanting him to make her stay, she makes a bee line for the front of the car, getting in before has any time to react.

“Betty!” He calls after her, but she just starts the car, driving away.

Watching him get smaller and smaller in the review mirror, she allows herself to cry. Sobbing as he fades into the distance and she only has the road ahead to leave him behind after the best month of her life. And it’s all her fault but she feels as if she’s suffocating and leaving seems like the best option. It always does.

It feels as though someone’s physically crushing his heart as he watches her drive away. An empty feeling inside him, he doesn’t know how long he stands in the middle of the road trying to work out how they had gotten there. All he knows is that it feels wrong and heartbreaking and he loves her so much. Letting her go doesn’t feel right. But maybe she’s right. She needs time and right now, he needs time to atone to how he feels about everything.

*

Alice can tell something’s very wrong by the time Betty calls her, telling her she’s coming over. Besides the fact that she was supposed to be in Canada for one more week, the way she spoke was all Alice needed, to know that she wasn’t okay. For a while, Betty had been pretty good at hiding her feelings from her mother and the truth, as much as Alice hated it, was that sometimes she had been too distracted by her own grief, by her own demons to really notice what was happening with her daughter, after Hal died. Now, there is never a thing that escapes her since Betty tried to take her own life. Everything mattered, every single second of every phone call and FaceTime was telling of whatever was going on in her daughter’s head.

Betty’s quiet, and as she enters the house, she lingers in her mother’s embrace for a while longer than she usually does. So, Alice bakes her favorite cookies and they sit on the porch with a cup of tea each and they don’t talk about what’s wrong. Betty tells her she’s almost finished with the script and Bailey, her mother’s Labrador cuddles up at her feet and looks up at her as if he knows that she needs it. And it’s silent again. And Betty remembers playing tag with her sister in the backyard and she remembers riding on her father’s shoulders, her mother’s “Be careful!” in the back of her mind. She remembers summers and springs and winters and fall and bruised knees and laughter. Remembering the good things makes her forget the bad things for a few seconds.

She left him. Like a coward. She listened to the voice in her mind that tells her she’s not enough. She had never expected to fall for him this hard, this fast. She had never anticipated that she’d be offering her heart and she had never anticipated that she’d be the one to break it. As always, fear got the best of her. As always, her fear overpowered every other thought. Fear had overpowered the feeling his ‘I love you’ had sent through her.

She hurt him. She knew she had. And maybe that was for the best. Maybe cutting it off sooner would spare her the pain.

He didn’t have to make it real. She’s not used to letting people in and when she does, without even putting up a fight, he falls in love with her? Damn him and his voice and his lips and his eyes and the way he made her fall for him too. She’s so scared, of letting herself fall completely. Of letting him love her. He doesn’t deserve the burden of her life. He doesn’t deserve her troubled mind. And oh god, she loves him so much. And she had blown it. As always. Whenever a good thing happens, she short circuits and she destroys it.

“So, you wanna talk about it?” Alice questions, as Betty talks about a TV show she’s watching. Anything but the real problem.

“We’re talking.” Betty murmurs, focusing on the bottom of her tea cup.

“Oh, please, Elizabeth.” Alice shakes her head with a smile. “Talk to me.”

“Mom, there’s nothing wrong.” There’s a lump in her throat she’s trying desperately to swallow.

“Be honest with me, please.” Alice places her hand on her daughter’s and Betty looks at her. “I know something’s wrong and if you really don’t want to talk about it then we won’t. But let me in, honey. I need you to.”

Betty looks away, biting her lip and trying to keep the unwanted tears at bay. “Mom…do you…do you remember falling in love with dad?”

Alice looks surprised at her daughter’s question, but she can’t help but smile. Hal, despite being gone, still puts a smile on her face. “I do.” She nods. “I was the reporter at the race, just gotten a job and your dad was the big shot racer. He was brilliant. Behind the wheel, you could he loved it and he was great at it too.” She’s lost in her memories, eyes faraway, a soft smile playing on her lips. “So, I interviewed him after he won. And…there was just something that drew me to him. He was charming and handsome, sure but I could never explain how and why I felt that way. There was this pull. And on that same day, after the camera was off, he asked me out. It didn’t take long to fall in love with him. We just went head in. There was no stopping us then.” Alice chuckles.

“Weren’t you scared?”

The older woman furrows her brows. “Of what, honey?”

“Getting hurt. Being vulnerable, I guess.”

She shrugs in response. “I was bit too carefree back then to care.”

Betty nods, then breathes out, leaning back against her chair. “I’m in love with someone.” Alice’s eyes widen slightly. “Jesus, don’t look so surprised.” Betty lets out a light laugh.

“Do I know him or her?”

“I think so.” Betty murmurs. “Jughead? JP Jones?”

“The musician?”

“Yeah…” She sighs.

“He’s handsome.” Alice quips. Her daughter rolls her eyes. “So, what exactly is the problem?”

“He told me he loved me, and I bailed.”

“Oh honey…” Alice sighs. “Why?”
“You know me.” Betty answers.

“You’re scared, that he’ll hurt you? That you’ll hurt him?” The blonde looks at her hands, biting her lip. “Elizabeth, I know that no matter how many times I say it, you probably won’t believe me. But you’re enough. You’re strong and talented and you’re good. Probably kind to a fault sometimes. And you deserve to be loved.”

“He doesn’t deserve my baggage.”

“Elizabeth, quite frankly, that’s his choice to make, not yours. This man loves you and you love him. Will you honestly be able to move on if you don’t see this through?”

“What if hurt him?”

Alice tilts her head, disappointed. “I think you already have.” Betty lets the tears fall and her mother places a hand on her cheek. “But you can still fix it.”

“You’d like him.” Betty tells her mother quietly.

“Well, then you fix this so I can meet him.”

She stays over for the night, trying to figure out what she’s going to say once she’s face to face with him. She hopes and prays that he hasn’t left Canada because he’s not picking up the phone. And she knows it’s likely not because of that, but she hopes the reason he hasn’t picked up is because of bad cell reception. She hopes to find him in their little bubble, the one she had burst open.

God, she loves him. She doesn’t think she’s felt like this ever and perhaps that’s why this scares her so much, because of how real and true it is. How every second of them knowing each other seemed to amount to Canada. For so long, they had been lost from each other, always chasing something else, their jobs and different cities and different people, vaguely aware of their connection to each other and then, Canada came along, and all the pieces seemed to fall into place as if they always belonged them and she had taken a swing at what they built. She hopes it hasn’t shattered.

*

Jughead had sent his producer a total of ten voice memos, the last one being a very heartbreaking about one Elizabeth Cooper, which was even more soul crushing when every single song before detailed every moment of falling in love with her. He feels as though it’s a few of the best songs he’s ever written and he kind of hates the situation even more. If he had just kept his mouth shut, if he hadn’t said he loved her then it would all be fine.

He’s kind of pissed at her too. They had been so vulnerable with each other, so open and then because he loves her, she shuts him out? That is some twisted logic. Isn’t it supposed to be a good thing? Love, of all things? A pure feeling? Born out of who they are. He knows how she has a hard time with herself, of how she views who she is, and he wishes she could see herself through his eyes. That she’s deserving of every bit of love and adoration he has for her, maybe if she heard the songs, she’d realize it.

Maybe time will tell. It hasn’t even been two days and he’s already missing her like crazy. He’s supposed to leave two days and although every corner reminds him of her, he wants to stay. He doesn’t want to get over her or forget her, he wants to wallow in memories of her, he wants the image of her smile to embrace him and give him back the peace he’d felt, even just for a moment.

The piano is his best friend. He’s always channeled his feelings through music and inspiration is all he has at the moment other than thoughts of her and a broken heart. The keys whisper melodies in his ears and her name etched across his heart and he supposes it won’t leave him for a while. Her name on his lips. He remembers vividly how his name sounded on hers, whispered in the quiet of the night, moaned as he sunk inside her, his name spoken by her, trapped between both their lips.

The cabin’s landline interrupts his recollection of the last month and he doesn’t remember where he’s put his phone, he hadn’t used it much, since reception was terrible. He answers the landline.

“Hello?” It’s security.

“Mr. Jones, I have an Archie Andrews on the phone for you. He said he hasn’t been able to contact you.”

“Oh! Please put him on!” He tells them.

“Jug? Dude?”

“Hey, what’s up? I don’t know where my phone is.”

“No worries, listen, I’m gonna have to come pick you up earlier. Tomorrow actually. I have a work thing in LA, on the day I was supposed to come get you. Is that okay or…?”

Jughead shrugs to him, maybe it’s for the best. “It’s alright, Arch. I’ve done what I came here to do.”

“The hell? You okay, Jug?”

“I don’t really wanna talk right now, but tomorrow, okay?”

“Yeah, Jug. I’ll let you go, and um…we’ll talk tomorrow.” Archie tells him, worried for his friend. “Don’t stay in your head too much, yeah?”

He smiles softly. “I’ll try.”

The new day brings a new light and the same sorrow, but telling Archie makes him feel a little better. Talking about it felt good. He had never been too great at feelings and bottling them up had partly caused his addiction, so now, he’s better at organizing his thoughts and processing his feelings, talking about them. And Archie, despite what may appear, is actually a great listener.

He doesn’t tell Archie of her struggles, but he tells her that much like him, love scares her. Being vulnerable scares her. He tells his best friend everything about her, every bit of her that made him fall for her, their time spent in Canada and all the time they spent together before.

Jughead wants to memorize every moment he has with her so he can remember in his mind, played like a movie how beautiful everything was. And he wants to hope for what it could be, but he’s scared too. Because maybe, he can give some credit to himself now, enough to know that he deserves someone who can love him back unconditionally. And maybe she can and maybe she does. Maybe she never will. And still, despite all that, he loves her, and it would be easier to let her go if he didn’t care so much. Because he understands her, he understands fear and how paralyzing it can be, how fear makes you lose your mind, how if you’re not careful it can tear you apart.

As they drive past the gates, Jughead murmurs a silent goodbye to the place that had seen their love grow from a spark into a flame. The place that had heard their secrets, that had seen the smiles on both their faces. And despite the fact that hope often brings you misery, he hopes to come back with her someday. He doesn’t know how ready he is about it all. But time will tell.

And as they turn the music up on the radio, in a way that reminds Jughead of old times, he’s hopeful for the future, because there is no way their story ends here. And he knows that they’re a damn good one. Just like before, they’ll somehow find each other.

*

As every good sappy romantic story, she supposes this is the exact moment of the story’s climax, after the good parts and the falling in love montages and the falling out bits, now’s the time for the big speech. Where she runs dramatically into the rain, tells him she loves him, and they kiss passionately while a beautiful orchestra plays in the background. Truthfully, though, there is no rain and she’s always thought standing under a thunderstorm to be dangerous and uncomfortable.

The security guard comes up to her car as she stops in front of the gates.

“Good evening, Ms. Cooper, everything alright?” He greets her with a warm smile.

“I – yes…I just- is Jughead still here?”

He furrows his brows. “Mr. Jones? Well, he was supposed to only check tomorrow but you just missed him actually.”

Betty’s eyes widen. “He just left?” The guard nods. “Do you think I can still catch him?”

“If you go fast enough you will, they went for the longer route, so that way!”

“Okay, okay, thank you!” She waves him goodbye, reverses the car and speeds off in the direction where the guard pointed at.

“Everything for young love…Even getting you people condoms.” The guard mumbles under his breath, shaking his head and returning back to his post.

“Please, please, please.” She’s driving a little too fast but all she can think about is that she needs to fix this. She needs to tell him she loves him. She wants to be happy with him. Badly, more than anything in the whole goddamn world. She wants him and the whole way over to the cabins, she’d been going over everything and the more she thought about it, the more she realized that she wants his love and she wants to make him as happy as he made, whatever it takes. So, she’ll be damned if she doesn’t drive over the speed limit to get to him faster.

*

“I have most of the album ready.” Jughead tells Archie. “I just have to get in the studio. I know what I want.”

Archie glances at him. “You happy with it?”

Jughead shrugs. “It’s about her.”

“Of course, it is. You haven’t shut up about her. You love Betty Cooper.” Archie grins. “And in my humble opinion, I don’t think it’s over between you.”

Jughead smiles at his best friend. “Let’s hope not.”

Then comes the cark honking. “What the fuck?” Archie mumbles under his breath, looking at the rearview mirror. “Who the hell is this lunatic? Did one of your fans follow you or something? They’re speeding at us. Holy shit!” The car behind them quickly comes up to the side of Archie’s car. “No fucking way!” Betty Cooper drove beside them, on a two-way road, trying to get their attention and succeeding.

“Is she crazy? This is dangerous! Pull over, Archie!”

Archie pulls the car over, as Betty does the same in front of them. Jughead storms out of the car. “Are you out of your damn mind? That was reckless!”

“Hi.” Betty winces.

“Jesus, you gave me a heart attack, Betts.” Jughead breathes out.

“I’m sorry. I don’t want to screw this up any more. I didn’t mean to scare you.” She apologizes, coming closer. “I need you to hear me out. This is the big rom com moment, okay?” Jughead furrows his brows as she takes a deep breath, a little amused at her behavior. “Let’s say you and I don’t work. You know, either logistically or because I’ll hurt like I did back there, and there’s a chance that we will just burst into flames and burn out.” She pauses, gulping. “You’re a brilliant, charismatic, amazing guy and I suck at relationships. I suck at this whole relationship thing because most of the time I’m scared, and I never think it’s worth the risk, and I end up bailing. And every time I get close one, I always think I’m a burden. I don’t think anyone should carry my baggage.” Sighing, she looks up at him. “But you...you’re making me think everything over. Because I’ve told you things, things I’ve never told anyone. Because I trust you. I trust and I…love you.” She tells him the words he’d whispered to her that night surer than ever. “Which the worst combination. And I’m scared to death about it but if there’s one chance, one slim chance that we could make this work then I want to do it. And if I end up with my heart broken, then so be it. Cause if we don’t try, I know I’ll regret it for the rest of my life, so, I just…” She trails off.

“Are you done?” He questions.
“Well, I guess, I-“

“You hurt me.” He says and her eyes well up with tears, as she pauses, throat clenching painfully.

“I know.” She looks down, guilty. “I’m sorry I walked out. I shouldn’t have. Ever.”

Jughead steps closer, placing his hands on both sides of her face to make her look at him, pulling her closer. “Please don’t walk out like that ever again.”

She nods, as he joins their foreheads together. “I promise, Jug. I promise. Please forgive me.”

“You did just almost get yourself killed for me. It’s gotta be worth something, Betts.” There’s his signature playful smirk on his face that she adores, and she laughs softly.

“I love you, Jug.” He leans closer, pressing his lips to hers.

He pulls away for a second. “Also please don’t ever drive like that again.”

She chuckles. “Even if it’s in the Corvette?”

“Well, the Corvette is saved for other purposes in my list. Much more exciting ones.” She snorts, shaking her head as he pulls her closer, pressing another kiss to her lips. “We’re gonna finish the list, Betts. I promise.”

She grins, closing her eyes and leaning into him, whispering ‘I love you’ against his lips, just as she should have when he told her loved her.

“Um, guys? You do know I’m still here, right?”

Chapter Text

They’re in a small town in the state of New York and no one has recognized them. It’s mostly older people, from an older generation so they likely won’t bother them. Either way, Betty reckons that at this point, she’s just so enamored by Jughead for keeping his word and trying to complete her list, that she really wouldn’t care much. This is just the first one. The first one of his promises and so far, it’s been perfect. He had promised her the realest, most normal date in the world. Dinner and a movie and then he’d walk her home, in this case to the hotel door and he’d kiss her, softly as any real first date kiss and then he’d kiss her again because one kiss is never enough after the first. He’d insisted on letting her get ready on her own, leaving their hotel room, telling her he’d pick her up at seven.

And at seven, there he is. The knock on the door brings a smile to her face as she checks herself in the mirror one last time. She had picked out a simple outfit, a nice classy black jumpsuit, nothing too fancy and she didn’t really feel like putting on a dress since it’s a bit chilly out.

Making her way to the door, she finds it odd how giddy she’s feeling about the whole thing. And when she opens the door to find his grinning face, a calm feeling settles in her chest along with her joy.

“Hi.” She whispers.

He smiles, leaning over to kiss her cheek. “Hey. You look beautiful, Betty.”

She glances at his outfit, a simple white button up and black pants. He looks handsome, with a beautiful smile on his lips and his soothing voice and she loves him. And he loves her. And she doesn’t think about her fears because the now is so much better to live in.

“Shall we?” She smirks.

“My lady?” He extends his hand and she chuckles, taking it. She laces their fingers together and they head towards the elevator. Jughead’s got an easy smile on his lips, as he pulls her a little closer and Betty loves him, with no doubts and no hesitations, a little more every day. Every time he smiles at her, every time she wakes up to guitar strums or to breakfast in bed, every time she gets to know more of him.

The restaurant he’d picked out is nice. An Italian restaurant with a nice view and good food. So far, everything was perfect. A normal date, where no one takes pictures of them, where they walk hand in hand and she’s never been so relaxed on a public date before.

He’s telling her a story about high school. And she’s never known that reality. Panicking for exams, sitting in a classroom, having crushes on boys and hoping to be asked for prom. He tells her he used to write for the school paper. Jughead Jones, the editor-in-chief of the Blue and Gold. And in she dreams awake of them meeting in High School. She dreams of a normal life. Which as much as she loves the life he leads, at times, she knows she missed out on so much. So, she dreams with him.

“Do you think we would’ve dated? Had we met in high school?” She questions with a grin.

Jughead laughs. “I don’t know. Were you into moody, angsty boys when you were a teenager?”

She shrugs, with a smirk on her face. “Maybe. You have layers.”

He shakes his head, chuckling. “Well, had we met in high school, I think we’d be a little different.”

She hums. “So, angsty teenager, writer, musician meets…?”

“You’d be a cheerleader.” He teases.

“Fair enough.” She nods. “I’d probably join the school paper.”

“We’d meet there.”

“And you’d be moody and angsty and you’d sing at like a school talent show, and I’d probably have a crush on you.”

Jughead scoffs. “No way. I’d pine for you for every hellish year of high school. And then maybe by our last year, we’d be good friends, enough that I’d work up to courage to tell you.”

She disagrees. “I like think I’d speed things up for you. Probably kiss you while we’re editing an article on the football team.”

“Oh, come on, give me a story about exposing political figures in our town or murders, something we can really bond over.” She pauses, smiling softly at him. He furrows his brows. “What?”

“I just…I like to think that somehow in any reality, we’d find each other.” He grabs her hand. “I love you, Jug.”

“I love you too.”

Later that night, he walks her to the hotel door and kisses her goodnight, upholding the promise of any real date. She’s the one that pulls him inside, before he has the chance to finish the act. And she makes sure to show him just how much she loves every bit of him.

*

When they’ve been together for three months, she’s found things that annoy her about him. Whenever he sleeps over and showers, his towel ends up on the bathroom floor. It annoys her. He’s a fairly tidy person. She’s been in his apartment countless times and it’s always organized and clean, he likes it that way. But the damn towel always ends up on the floor, even in his own apartment, which she just doesn’t get. It’s a simple task, really, you either hang it up or you put it in the hamper, so why the hell does he always leave it on the damn floor? She casually mentions it sometimes, a simple call for attention to the issue but he forgets about it easily.

So naturally, she’s a bit frustrated and one day, she’s tired because she had been in meetings all day. The producers liked the script and now that they gave her the get go, there were production decisions needed to be made so the meetings were long and tiring and in particular, on this day, there were problems popping up everywhere. She gets home and he’s on her couch, guitar on his lap, as he sings softly. Jughead had spent the night over and she had left him in her apartment, it looked like he hadn’t left.

“Hey,” She murmurs softly as she comes closer after putting her things down. He stops strumming the guitar, smiling when he looks back at her. Leaning down to press a soft kiss to his lips, she blows out a sigh.

“You okay?” He questions, his adorable concerned face making her feel a little better.

“Yeah, just stressed. I’m gonna have a bath and I’ll come back. Pick a movie?” He nods, squeezing her hand in his as she moves, making her way to the hallway.

As she enters the bathroom, her mind running with every little stressful thing that had happened in the meeting, there it is. The fucking towel, on the floor. “For fuck’s sake, how hard is it?” She mutters as she picks it up and throws it in the hamper before leaving the bathroom and her bedroom, heading towards the living room. “How many times have I told you not to leave the goddamn towel on the bathroom floor?” She huffs and his head snaps up at her.

“Oh yeah, sorry. I left it, you’re right. My bad.” He winces.

“How fucking hard is it to just throw it in the hamper or I don’t know, hang it up?!”

He opens his mouth, surprised at her outburst. “I’m sorry, okay? I’ll try to remember next time.”

“I’m not here to pick up after your shit, Jughead.”

He stands up, his eyes widening. “Woah, hey! This isn’t a big deal, alright? I won’t do it again.”

“No! Every time you leave the damn towel on the floor, I ask you politely not to do again, but apparently that doesn’t fucking work because guess what? I just wanted to have a fucking relaxing bath and not have to worry about shit and your fucking towel is on the floor, as always! Why is it so hard?” Her voice raises and Jughead realizes indeed, that their first escalated fight is going to be about an actual towel.

He breathes out, knowing that she’s stressed and tired and him talking back will only make her more aggravated. So, he tries the careful approach. “Sweetheart, I’m sorry I left the towel on the floor, I didn’t realize it bothered you this much.” He takes a tentative step forward when she doesn’t respond, only sighing and looking away from him. “I’m very sorry. Look at me, Betts.” He pleads. “We don’t have to fight. I promise that from now on, there won’t be any towels on the floor. And to make up for every towel in our relationship, I will be at your disposal tonight.” He smiles at her. “And probably every night after.”

She’s quiet for a bit of time and then she buries herself in his chest, arms wrapping around him. “I’m sorry. I overreacted, even though the towel thing does bother me, for real. But I shouldn’t have yelled. I’m just…tired.” She murmurs.

“Well good news, sweetheart, is if every fight we have is solved this quickly then we’ll be fine.”

Betty chuckles, looking up at him. “So, since you are at my disposal, have a bath with me?”

“Thought you’d never ask.” He places a tender kiss on her lips, and she melts into him.

*

“I’m excited, like embarrassingly so.” He grins at her as they stand in front of her garage.

With a laugh, she extends the remote and he looks as giddy as a little boy. “Would you like to do the honors?”

“Oh my, the dreams I’ve had of you in this car are about to come true.” He takes a dramatic deep breath and then he presses the button and watches in anticipation as it reveals the slick black car inside. It’s gorgeous and every bit of his imagination and more. “I think I might actually pass out.”

“Idiot.” She rolls her eyes, tugging him on as she takes a step forward. “Come on, let’s go for a ride.”

“God, I love you.” He sighs dramatically, following her into the car.

They settle into the car and Betty places the key in the ignition, smirking at him. “Now, just hear this, baby.” She starts the car, the engine roaring in all its glory. “Off we go.”

They end up driving to his apartment, taking the long route. From her apartment, in Manhattan to Jughead’s in Brooklyn. She likes his apartment, almost as much as she likes hers, but maybe it’s because she’s spent so much time in it in the last couple of months. She likes to read, in his apartment, sitting by the window, the New York skyline in her eyeline, while Jughead strums away or plays the piano in the living room. She finds that she enjoys the silence with him as much as she enjoys talking, she enjoys the moments where they are together but there’s no need to say anything. It’s nice to just be with him, to feel his presence, hear him play while she reads or works. The quiet moments are always welcome, it calms her mind to sit on the couch at two in the morning, listening to his heartbeat, reminding her that it’s all real and alive, that this is her life now, that sometimes she doesn’t go to her apartment two or three days in a row because there’s a part of his closet reserved for her.

It’s not as though they’re attached by the hip, but she likes to go back to him after having been working all day or hanging out with friends. At the end of the day, she’d like his arms around her, lulling her into sleep. So, truthfully, what had been happening, was that they’d been splitting time between her and his apartment, a few days here and a few days there. Because, just like her, Jughead felt the same way. He was growing used to having dinner with her and breakfast, to wishing her a good day when she went out the door, of asking ‘my place or yours?’ at the end of the day. The idea of her, etched so permanently into his everyday life, was as easy as coming home.

She’s not ready to move in together in any capacity, give them time. She feels like, despite considering it a few times, it feels like too big a step, even if they split the time between apartments, there’s still a sense that if they have a fight (which happened rarely) and she was pissed, she could just drive home or send him back to his own. But still, she entertains the idea of living with him and she likes it. But all in its due time, she decides.

“So, how’d you like it?” She smirks, the car coming to a halt, inside his garage.
“That was hot.” He grins back at her. “And I feel like I wanna do things to you not fit for the cameras in this garage.”

“Then let’s go upstairs, Jones.”

“Yes, please.”

*

“You’ve lived in New York for most of your life and you’ve never seen the ball drop? How?” He questions, in disbelief. “I went the first year I was here. The party, the whole sparkly things everywhere, never?”

“Okay, this is on the list because most years I wasn’t in New York because of work and when I was, I was advised not to go by my security detail. So, yes, I could’ve gone but I didn’t.” She pauses, a grin on her face as she pecks his cheek. “I get to do it with you.”

Jughead smiles. It’s still a few weeks away, New year. There are still a few things to check off her list because of Christmas, and New York, the very city she’s known for most of her life and a place she hasn’t been able to go roam around for long before somebody recognized her.

“You know, I haven’t been in a while, though. I didn’t want to be around parties.” He confesses.

Her gaze softens. “Jug…we don’t have to go, if you’re not up for it.”

He shakes his head. “I want to. I’m good, Betts.”

At midnight, in the middle of Times Square, two security guys making sure they’re safe, she presses her lips to his, ringing in the new year, with the man she loves and she makes a new year resolution: to live life as fully as possible with him by her side.

*

The drive to her hometown is pretty calm. There’s no traffic in the early hours of the morning and Betty’s smile makes him think there’s no place he’d rather be than driving upstate to her family for Thanksgiving. If there is one thing, he’s thankful for, more than anything this year, is her. His life has gotten so much brighter with her in it, the world seems less complicated, the harmonies sound better in the most practical way, his songs, the ones he’d written about her were taking the place of the best he’s written, the music he’s written is alive and it’s because of her. There is no question in his mind, and it doesn’t scare him the way it used to that Betty Cooper is it for him.
The car ride is filled with songs she sings and stories she tells and his smile and his heart finding its home in her. She’s not untouchable, in some god like manner, he’s always known. Betty is there, close to touch and real and it is home. The green in her eyes in the morning, a soft smile on her lips as she comes into his kitchen, wearing his shirt and her arms wrap around him, she places a kiss against his bare back. Jughead wants all his days to start and end with her.

“Hey,” He murmurs, glancing at her, interrupting the comfortable silence that had settled. She squeezes his hand as she looks back, returning his smile. “I wanna show you something.”

“What?” She questions.

“Listen.” He says before pressing play on his phone.

Betty can’t explain the feeling that curses through her the moment his voice comes in. The song is soft, only an acoustic guitar and his voice and his lyrics. And it doesn’t take long for her to realize it’s about her. Those beautiful words and melodies inspired by their love story and it overwhelms her. She can’t help but tear up while listening to this song her love had written about her. The true language of his love. His art that he pours his heart into. She should have expected it at some point, but she never thought of what it’d feel like to have him be so open and bare in a song, so vulnerable, his feelings on the table so clearly.

When the last note echoes, she takes his hand up to her lips and presses a kiss to his skin and then laughs. “You made me cry, you idiot.” She sniffles. “That was beautiful, and I love you. Thank you.” He holds her hand tighter in his, smiling at her.

“I wrote that song the first week we were in Canada.” He confesses.

“The first week? You felt all of that the first week?”

“Betty, I love you.” He takes his eyes off the road to look at her. “Maybe I always have.”

By the time they get to Betty’s mom’s house, Betty’s home, Jughead is enamored by every little comment she makes as they pass each street, it’s filled memories. A little bubble away from everything that’s always been her life. A place he’s never been to, a place safe from the outside world and now he’s here. Fully merging his life with hers and he can’t wait to take her to his home, to who he was before.

“Ready?” She grins at him.

“I am.” He nods. “I plan on sticking around so I better make a good impression. Impressing the mother and sister-in-law.”

Betty rolls her eyes. “Future mother and sister-in-law. Don’t get ahead of yourself.” She corrects him and he smirks.

“Good to know we’re on the same page about marriage, sweetheart.” He pecks her lips, before stepping out of the car.

“Goddamn you, Jughead.” She mutters under her breath and opens the car door and exits. “You’re going to give a heart attack.” She tells him as she helps him get their suitcases out of the trunk.

“Does marriage scare you that much, Betts?” He teases. "It’s alright, we’ve got time.”

*

Juniper and Dagwood love Jughead. Betty watches as Jughead plays with them, making the kids laugh loudly, the sound echoing throughout the house. Her sister sends her a few looks and there’s a comment about how he’s quite the catch. And Betty’s mind is conjuring up images she knows are too soon to conjure. The image of a little boy with curly dark hair and green eyes makes her heart race, her mind travelling to what their future could be. It’s a nice thought, as overwhelming as it is. The fact that she’s even thinking about it is crazy enough. She’s never felt like this about anyone, not with absolute certainty, as nothing is certain but with a hope and a willingness to fight for them, to work their way to that point. To a future, a real one, a future and a promise of a life. It’s all very real, almost palpable, she can imagine him and her huddled by a cradle whispering soft nothings to their baby, she can imagine their little girl having him wrapped around her finger and she can imagine the songs sung to their children, his voice soft and sweet and a smile on his lips. She’s never felt like this about anyone, not with absolute certainty, as nothing is certain but with a hope and a willingness to fight for them, to work their way to that point.

He smiles at her from where he’s playing with the kids and she smiles back at him, her heart fluttering. She thinks that maybe, after everything, this is what life is about. Just pure happiness and giddiness because she can live, like this, with him and if she’s lucky, she can do it forever. She deserves it. They both do.

“He’s a good one.” Her mother murmurs beside her with a knowing smile.

Betty smiles, glancing back at her mom. “He is, isn’t he?”

“And handsome too.” Alice winks making Betty laugh. “You’re happy.”

“He makes me happy. I think...I want him to be the one for me, as cheesy as that is.” Betty laughs softly, glancing at her mom. “I want him for as long as I can. It’s probably too soon for this, right?” She questions, frowning softly.

Alice shrugs. “Honey, sometimes you just know. There’s no use explaining. And I think he feels the same about you so just go at whatever speed you’re going. Trust me when I say that those are the type of things you can’t control.”

Betty nods, smiling softly. “They love him.”

Alice looks back at Jughead, with a fond smile on her lips. “Something tells me he’s not hard to love.”

“He isn’t. Not all at.”

Chapter Text

He watches her, leaning against the wall, as she directs the actors on the scene they’re shooting. He has never seen her work before and it’s quite clear that she’s fully in her element, knowing exactly what to say. He can see the passion swimming in her eyes as she speaks and he watches the two actors fully immersed in what she’s saying, soaking it in. The scene is breathtaking, incredibly moving, that’s all he can think about when the cameras start rolling. The product of those months of writing the script had come to this. She’d been shooting for a month now and he missed her terribly, but he’d been busy, recording the album and she’d been busy with her film, her directorial debut. They hadn’t seen much of each other, other than the weekend she had flown in to New York. Being without her was hard, phone calls and FaceTime wasn’t enough, it’d never be enough, would never compare to having her in his arms.

 

“And that’s a wrap on today!”

 

When she turns around, her face lights up when she realizes he’s standing there. Walking towards him, she smiles her perfect smile, enveloping him in the warmth he’d been missing. Once she gets close enough, he pulls her into his arms. “I missed you.” He murmurs into her shoulder.

 

She pulls back to smile at him, placing her forehead on his. “I missed you.” She kisses his lips, softly, aware of everybody watching and then gets a good look at him. “I really did miss you. I’m not used to this.” She runs a hand through his hair.

 

“Well, it’s just a couple of weeks until you’re home.” He tells her, arms still wrapped around her. “You all done for today?”

 

“Yeah, just give me a few minutes to go over some things for tomorrow with the producer and I’ll be right back.” She pecks his lips quickly before walking away. He looks around thinking that the script she had written a year and half ago had come to this. He had no doubt it’d be brilliant; he’d never underestimate the woman he loved, she was pure fire, and nothing would stop her. He was damn lucky to have her. Now that he was almost done recording the album, about her, he was more than sure, even more so after dating her for more than a year that he was meant to be with her for the rest of his life. There is no one he’d love more, maybe their children. His mind was fascinated with every fantasy he’d come up with about their future. God, she’d be the most wonderful mother and although he knew it’d be a while before any of that happened, he now indulged himself, imagining what it’d be like. And it was quite the image.

 

“So, how was the studio session last night?” She questions, as they get out of the building, her hand holding his.

 

“It went really well. I think we’re done. Jake’s gonna send me the final version and if there’s something missing, we’ll go back but I think we’re done. At last!” He breathes out a laugh.

 

“I’m so proud of you.” Betty says, a soft look on her face as she looks at him.

“Yeah?” He grins. “And I’m proud of you, director!” He wraps an arm, bringing her closer to place a kiss to her lips. They hear a camera going off up front. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.” He groans. When they were dating for six months, they had gone public, for real. People knew they were dating; they hadn’t really done much to hide it anyway, but they were fairly private people and weren’t on board with broadcasting something so precious that would be under scrutiny in no time. They lead their lives normally and paparazzi did what paparazzi do, they ‘caught’ them kissing. They hadn’t made a big deal out of it, their reps sent statements and then they had made one public appearance at an award show where they were both nominated. It had sent people into a frenzy. Betty and Jughead, though, had returned to their normal life together and there was nothing but a rare post on social media every now and then. Jughead had always hated paparazzi, it was a brutal invasion of one’s privacy and it was dangerous, they were followed at times, it could end tragically, and he hated the fact that they were allowed to.

 

“Let’s just go back to my apartment, the driver’s right there.” She points to few feet ahead and they ignore the questions the paparazzi throws at them. “Hey, it’s ok, calm down, babe.” He lets her hold his hand, as he tries to calm down, but he just can’t, he hates how much he lets it affect him sometimes. It’s a little worse when he’s with her, they’re so stupidly disrespectful towards her, he has to stop himself from doing things he’ll regret.

 

They walk up quietly to the apartment she had rented while filming and she can tell he’s upset. Once they’re inside, she wraps her arms around him, pulling him into her. “Jug, you can’t let them get to you. It wasn’t that bad, alright? It was just one guy.”

 

“They say shit about you that’s fucked, Betty! Your whole life, you’ve been harassed by these idiots that aren’t classified as stalkers because their job is to take pictures of people. It’s twisted.”

 

“I know.” Betty sighs. “But it’s what it is, Jug. There’s not much we can do to change it. We can...”

 

“What? Get security, everywhere we go? We’re not even in the city. We have security in city. Out here? I thought it was okay.”

 

“It sucks, okay, it does. But we can’t let that affect us like this every time it happens.”

 

Jughead shakes his head, pacing around the room. “What happens when we have kids, huh? And these assholes force their way into their lives like this.”

She stares him down. “Then we’ll get security, permanent. They’ll be safe.” She tells him firmly. “Jug, please, don’t let some asshole who doesn’t know us get to you. It’s just white noise, okay?”

 

He sighs. “I want you to be safe. That’s all I want.”

 

“I know. And I love you for it but please, don’t let it get to you.” She caresses him cheek. “Now, I need to show you just how much I missed you.” She moves closer to him, smirking. “And since we’re talking about kids, we can start practicing all those baby making sessions we’ll have in the future.”

 

“God, you’ll kill me, Betts.”

 

*

JP Jones opens the door to his New York apartment with a grin on his face. It’s not the first time I’ve interviewed him, and he greets me by name and invites me in. The last interview I’d done with him had been quite different. In a busy restaurant in downtown LA, he was 23 and had just released his second album. You could say that a lot has changed. The kid from a small town 90% of people have never heard of had grown into a worldwide phenomenon, with plenty of awards under his belt and best-selling albums. After a two-year hiatus with no new music, he’s getting ready to release his fifth album.

 

It isn’t hard to understand the appeal of JP Jones. The once teen heartthrob had the looks of a bad boy paired with a charismatic personality and heart wrenching, electric rock songs. It was and still is enough to make teenage girls and grown women swoon. But looks isn’t what makes him brilliant, obviously. It was refreshing when his first single came out and you felt like you were listening to a rock classic, mixed with something new that you couldn’t describe. It came out of left field and felt right, when the music industry was turning in one direction, JP Jones had turned it around and he was the only one on it. He had been catapulted to worldwide success in the blink of an eye.

 

Now, on his fifth album, the plan of action was a bit different from his previous music. He notes that the decision had been fairly simple. “I couldn’t write in a studio anymore. I needed something else.” That something else had been a cabin in Canada. “Well, I wouldn’t call it a cabin, it has everything you’d need. It even had a piano.” He laughs. He says he hadn’t even used his phone. I imagine it must’ve been a relief for someone like him, having ultimate privacy for an entire month. I ask him if he finished the whole album there. He says he did apart from four songs, that he had written over the course of the last year.

 

“It felt very liberating.” He mentions as we sit on the balcony overlooking New York City. “I hadn’t felt inspired to write songs in a while. It all felt very wrong and inorganic when I tried to.” I ask him what changed. If it was being isolated from the whole world. “Partly, yes. It felt a little like going back to my bedroom, back home. Just me, a guitar and a piano.” It feels like there’s more to the story, but Jones is careful with his words and as someone that is clearly private and has always been, I respect his choice.

 

He recounts the events that had led to his decision of isolation, coffee cup in hand, as we sit, the sounds of New York City a little far away, up in his penthouse. “I guess half-way through the last tour, it popped into my head. When you’re on tour, you’re always moving around, and it doesn’t feel like you ever stop. The plan for the tour was actually a lot longer but we cut it short.” He explains. “I was risking overexposure, really, apart from being exhausted and feeling like I wasn’t doing my best at the shows. When you’re doing the same songs back to back and you can’t create something new then you need to stop. So, I did.”

 

After a friend recommends the nameless cabin, JP Jones sets off to Canada, getting dropped off by his best friend and football star, Archie Andrews. “It was a surprising experience and it was inspiring, that whole month changed everything.” There’s a faraway look on his face that feels like maybe there’s something very specific about said cabin, but I just hope to hear about it in the album, as the rest of the world.

 

“I wanted to be very honest.” He says. “That’s always what I’ve wanted to do with my music. And the last album was a little less real, still fun to make, but it was a very loud album. This one is more intimate. Last album was histrionic, this is much simpler and truer. It’s a story. A love story.”

 

He plays me the album on the house speakers, once we head inside. His statement proves to be the truth. It is a love story. Quite a happy one at that. It isn’t hard to assume who it’s about. Jones has been linked to actress Betty Cooper, having made their first official public appearance at the Oscars red carpet, just shy of a year ago. They were both nominated, Jones for Best Original Song, Cooper for her brilliant role in ‘Justly’, a supporting role but nonetheless brilliant. The couple, individually, appears to be quite busy. Cooper is currently directing her first film, written by her alone. So, it’s fair to say, the internet is right when they say they’re power couple.

 

The songs range from delicately intimate (“I Can Only Hope”) to provocatively sexual (“Take it”, which Jones admits having been inspired sonically by Prince’s ‘Darling Nikki’, one would say it’s definitely less explicit, but the theme is there) to simple acoustic songs about what anyone would assume to be about Betty Cooper (there’s really not that many “blue eyed angels” in Jones’ life). There’s a standout song about musings of a future called “I Hope it’s You”, if it wasn’t clear by this point, Jones is very much in love.

 

“Love can surprise you.” He muses. “I think sometimes it can always be there only for you to notice it later on.” It’s quite the statement, considering Jones and Cooper have known each other for quite a while, having been spotted at parties at times and Cooper having been to many of his concerts. “That sounds quite cheesy.” He laughs lightheartedly. “I hope the songs sound less lame than that.”

 

I assure him that they do. The songs are sweet and sincere, I tell him, and Jones says that they’re a hundred percent his feelings right now. I tell him openly that it’s clear who they’re about and he laughs. “I’m a lucky guy.” There’s a look of pride on his face and you can see a change in his demeanor, lighter. “It’s rare to find people who understand you and who love you so fiercely. And it’s also rare to find someone as incredible as her.” I talk about her latest project as a director and how I’m excited to see what will come out of it. He doesn’t say much, but there’s smile on his face when he tells me: “She’s amazing!”.

 

The next morning, we drive to a diner near Jones’ apartment building and the waiter greets him like an old friend. He’s been a regular ever since he moved into his place, mostly because there aren’t many people around and because from right where we sit, in a booth in the far corner, no one can really see us.

 

“It’s a matter of control.” He answers when I question him about his privacy. “If you give people stuff to talk about, they’ll always talk, whether that’s my relationship or my family. So, it’s better for me to compartmentalize, my people and then my career, in that order. If you give them nothing, then they won’t talk for long. The media rarely mentions my relationship nowadays unless we’re public about it. We’re able to escape that pressure.” You can tell he’s very serious about the private side of his life and he tells me it’s something he’s learned over the years and in a rare opening into his relationship, he says that she’s also very private because she’s been in the business for most of her life and that she handles it a lot better than he does. “But I get it, you know? Attention is part of the job.”

 

When I question him further on the diner, he laughs. “There’s a diner, just like this, back home. It’s a lot more neon Americana but this one’s close to it.”

 

JP Jones was born Forsythe (he hates the name) Pendleton Jones the Third, in Riverdale (“The town with Pep!” he jokes). It’s an obnoxious name for an equally obnoxious town. There’s been two serial killers reported in Riverdale, in the last few years and there may or may not be a gang. Jones jokes that there might be something in the waters. “It’s quieted down now. It’s a strange little town.”

 

He tells me he was very loved by his family, but he confesses it’s not all sunshine. His family struggled to put food on the table, to sustain their family. “It was complicated. I worked two jobs when I was sixteen to help. It’s part of why I appreciate my life so much now. I never want to take this for granted. You never know what can happen. But love was never missing in my life.”

 

His first guitar was one that belonged to his father, although its original owner never played much. It was with that guitar that he had started writing his own music. “I still keep it. It’s in Riverdale, in my parents’ house.” He speaks of it with fondness, remembering the time before he became JP Jones but although there’s some nostalgia, Jones is certain that he wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

 

“I recorded the whole album in New York, but I wrote all of it in Canada.” We’ve moved on to a studio, right in the heart of New York City, where he’s recorded most of the album. “There was only one song that we recorded in LA.” He explains as we sit on the couch. Rick Rubin greets him with a hug when we walk through the door. On his team, there’s two producers in total. He tells me he enjoys keeping it a small group and he’s worked with the two his whole career. Rick Rubin was the sole producer on Jones’ debut album. An absolute legend, perhaps even more so than the people he works with, he has worked with just about anyone you can name and has made every single record he’s touched pure gold. “This is the guy that makes everything I do sound good.” Jones jokes. There is another frequent collaborator and it’s a surprising one. Jack Antonoff has been a producer on his team since his previous album. “The thing about Jack is that he’s a genius and we work really well together. His sound is brilliant, so I called him for a song on my last album and we ended up doing three.”

 

I question him if he’s nervous about releasing the album and he confesses there’s always a bit of nervousness when releasing anything but he’s very proud of what he’s releasing. You’d think this is anything but a rock’n’roll attitude but that’s the thing about Jones, he’s never not cared and that’s what makes him interesting. He doesn’t give that much of himself away and with this album it feels as if we’re knowing another side to him and his craft and maybe that’s the true rock’n’roll attitude. When the world is filled with pretentious people, jaded by their own material, Jones cares about every aspect of his career. “I’ve learned a lot over the years. I don’t want to look bored. It’s not fun and it’s definitely not ‘cool’ so sure, I want people to enjoy my music. I’ve always wanted to tell stories, as complex as every human being on this planet, especially about love. And I’m very much in love with my life now and I want to share it.”

 

“Do you know what I want people to know about this album and where I’m at?” He questions me as we’re about to depart. “It feels right.”

 

Joseph Carter, Rolling Stone

 

*

 

“Alright, so there’s thing…” He trails off, exiting the bathroom and entering the bedroom. As of now, they were staying at her place, had been staying there for the last few nights for no particular reason but after a dinner party at Veronica’s, they’d stayed the night since it was closer and just opted to stay there.

 

Betty takes her eyes off the book to look up at her boyfriend, who was leaning against the doorframe with a smile on his lips. “What thing?” She questions, placing down the book when he climbs on the bed towards her. He hovers over her, taking her glasses off and pecking her lips.

 

“I kind of have a high school reunion coming up in Riverdale.” He tells her. “And I was wondering, since we’re both free for next month, if you’d like to go?”

 

Betty grins. “To your high school reunion?” He nods, as she brushes his hair.

 

“I know it’s you know, a weird thing maybe, I don’t know?” Jughead chuckles softly.

 

“No, it’s not, Jug.” She frowns. “It’s sweet and I’d like that. A little trip down to your past and to your roots sounds absolutely perfect to me. And I finally get to see Riverdale. And go to your parents’ house.”

 

“You’ve met them, though.” He smiles.

 

“Yeah, but not in their home. That’s different.”

 

“It’s really not.”

 

“Do you want me to go or not?” She laughs and he joins in, burying his face in her shoulder. “I want to, Jug.”

 

He looks up at her. “Yeah?”

 

“No doubt.”

 

Two weeks later, they arrive in Riverdale, in his car. As they pass down the sign that says “Riverdale! The town with Pep!”, Betty laughs loudly claiming she couldn’t believe it was actually real. The town itself is picture perfect. The American Dream picket fence houses lined up in beautifully organized streets and neighborhoods, the small-town businesses and the lack of commotion. It was very picturesque, and Betty’s mind could already make up stories about it all. Jughead smiles softly at her as they pass what used to be the border between the Northside and the Southside. It’s noticeable still, even if it had changed so much. Jughead had played the biggest role in changing it, donating money to the less fortunate part of town and rebuilding the trailer park he used to call home. He had basically rebuilt everything and with help, of course, changed a few minds. There was less of a divide now and it was pretty clear.

 

“Betty!”

 

What’s also pretty clear is that his mom loves his girlfriend. As soon as they’re out of the car, the front door opens and Gladys comes out, grinning with open arms. Gladys is a bit rock n’ roll and wild and fun, and incredibly caring. That same nurturing nature of hers had welcomed Betty straight into the family once she met her. They hit it off, specifically about movies. Jughead could still remember the times his mother had sneaked him into the movie theatre she once worked with so they could watch movies together. Gladys had always loved that. So much so that once Betty noticed that love, she had brought her to set, so she could see the ins and outs of movie making and if Gladys didn’t love her then, she would have. They had also gone to Betty’s favorite old Hollywood movie theatre in New York. Just the two of them and Jughead had never felt that kind of glee as he watched the two get along.

 

His mother hugs his girlfriend tightly. “It’s so good to see you, sweets.” Betty laughs hugging her back.

 

“You really do love her more, don’t you?” Jughead shakes his head as his father walks out of the house, calmer, as he’s always been, even when everything was falling apart, even when he himself was breaking.

 

“Come here, baby.” Gladys grins at him, letting go of Betty to wrap her arms around her son.

 

“Hey, FP.” Betty offers her (almost) father-in-law a hug and he smiles.

 

“That one wouldn’t stop moving, she was so excited to have you guys over.” FP mentions, amusement on his face.

 

“We were excited too.” Betty nods, smiling.

 

“Let’s go inside! Your dad baked cake!” Gladys tells them.

 

Jughead snaps his at her as she turns to walk up the pathway and into the house. “He did what now?”

His dad green sheepishly. “Yeah, new hobby.”

 

“I’m shocked.” Jughead mumbles a while later as they catch up over a slice of chocolate cake. Everyone laughs. “This is good, dad.” Betty chuckles at the surprised face on her boyfriend’s face and the sheepish look on FP’s face, the whole scene is quite endearing.

 

“I’ve been bored.” FP jokes.

 

“Oh, Betty! The movie!” Gladys gasps. “It was beautiful, I cried at least five times during the whole thing. You did so good!”

 

“Thank you and I’m so sorry you guys couldn’t make it to the premiere.” Betty frowns. “Thank you for going to see it anyway.”

 

“Are you kidding?” Gladys scoffs. “We wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

 

“She’s right.” FP smiles. “It was a great movie, Betty.”

 

Jughead sits next to her proudly, looking at her like she’s heaven on earth. He had been so proud when he was watching the movie she had directed. He was practically beaming. It was amazing, everything about it and he could very clearly feel her stamp on it. He had never felt prouder and now, the movie was getting an Oscar buzz, although Betty usually waved him off whenever he mentioned it. She felt proud of herself and the work everyone had done on the film. She had poured heart and soul into the project and the response everywhere had been wonderful.

 

The high school reunion is the following day, so they take the opportunity for Jughead to show Betty around his hometown until they have dinner with his parents at Pop’s, an absolute necessity according to Jughead. He takes her down by Sweetwater River and she’s instantly in love with how beautiful it all is. He tells her about how he used to come here all the time to clear his head, most of the time alone and sometimes with Archie or a couple of friends in high school. He had lost touch with most of them, except Archie. That was life, he supposed. He had gotten so busy with his career and they had gotten busy with college and drifted apart. He was a little excited to see everyone again.

 

“It’s gorgeous.” Betty murmurs against his neck, as they sit on a bench overlooking the river. “Kinda reminds me of Canada.”

 

He grins. “Yeah? We should go back sometime, same cabin this time?”

 

“I’d like that.” She nods. “Hey?”

 

“Mmmh?”

 

“I love you like crazy.” There’s adoration present in her eyes as she looks up at him. He holds her a little tighter as she goes on. “And I can’t imagine my life without you, and it doesn’t scare me anymore.” He places his lips on hers, in a slow kiss, holding her close to him. Pulling away, foreheads connected, he feels overwhelmed at the way she’s looking at him. “One day, I’m gonna grow old with you and I know I’ll be sure that with you, I lived a life full of love. It’s you, Jug. This is it. Every day, I’m surer than before. And it will never change.”

 

“I think you’re going to make me cry.” He laughs softly, as she caresses his cheek. “I love you so much.”

 

*

 

It’s strange for Betty. She had only been in a high school once and it had been for a fundraising event. Now, she was here for a high school reunion, in her boyfriend’s high school, walking the halls he had once, no doubt, been a broody sixteen-year-old with a dream of playing music for the world. The feeling of walking the floors of his past was something that made her proud, because now she knew of his past with images so much clearer than before. She knows of his past and she knows his future, so much closer today, had her in it.

 

“What do you think?” Jughead questions as they walk across the hall towards the gym.

 

“I can’t wait to find a picture of you somewhere.” She teases, bumping her hip with his.

 

“I might sneak you into the Blue and Gold later, I’ll let you find it.” He says, with a grin, just as they get to the reception and suddenly, he feels like he’s at a school dance.

 

“Jughead?” The girl at the desk looks surprised.

 

“Ethel!” Jughead smiles. “How are you?”

 

“I’m great. Can’t believe you made it!” Ethel laughs. “It’s good to see you.”

 

“This is my girlfriend, Betty. Betty, this is Ethel Muggs, used to be one of the writers at the Blue and Gold.” Ethel looks a bit flustered, star struck as she looks up at Betty, but his girlfriend doesn’t seem to mind the reaction, she just smiles warmly and extends her hand.

 

“It’s nice to meet you, Ethel.”

 

“How’s the party looking?” Jughead questions.

 

“Pretty well, I think. Cheryl planned it.” Ethel tells him, amusedly.

 

Jughead laughs. “Well then, I’ll go in. Thanks, Ethel. We’ll catch up later.”

 

Betty smiles at the woman and they walk into the gym. Betty feels like she did on set of one of her early films, set in high school where they had built a set prom. It’s the same thing, except that it’s real and she feels a bit giddy at the prospect.

 

“Jones?!” A voice comes from their right and they both look in that direction to find a pink haired girl.

 

“Toni?!” Jughead laughs loudly, getting closer so he can hug the girl. “It’s been a while, huh?” Toni grins, shaking her head. Jughead looks at Betty with a smile. She had heard about Toni, one of Jughead’s good friends in high school, one of his only real friends, truth be told. She had grown up in the trailer park, although they hadn’t properly met until high school “This is Betty. My girlfriend.”

 

“Ah, so you’re the one that has to put up with this guy’s broodiness.” Toni jokes, like no time had passed and Jughead’s thankful for it.

 

“I think I can take it.” Betty smiles affectionately. “Something tells me he was way worse when he was walking these halls.”

 

“Oh, for sure, he was the worst. Teenage angst all the way with this one.” Toni tells her.

 

“Did I come all this way to get roasted, Topaz?” Jughead sighs dramatically. They laugh together, Betty wrapping an arm around Jughead with a smile, almost like second nature.

 

“It’s good to see you, Jones. Almost decade too long.”

 

“What have you been up to?”

 

Toni glances across the room at Cheryl before smiling. “I may have gotten married to that girl over there.” She points towards her and Jughead’s eyes widened. “There’s a lot to her than meets the eye.”

 

“You must’ve dug deep, huh?” Jughead teases.

 

Betty’s content watching the people she once imagined when Jughead spoke of his time in high school appear before her. She loves this, getting to know his past, the people of his youth.

 

“We’re actually adopting a kid.” Toni mentions, her expression one of pure pride.

 

“Congratulations!” Betty grins widely.

 

“Thank you!” Toni says sincerely. “You? Any of that coming up?” Betty laughs, looking at her boyfriend.

 

“Not just yet.” Betty answers. “But soon, maybe.” Jughead looks like he wants to say something, but something tells her this isn’t the place or time. And he’s then swept away again by some old classmates and Betty’s left speaking with Toni. She learns that Toni is a social worker and she works mostly with the kids on the Southside. Betty feels like Toni is an incredible woman, she definitely seems like and she meets everything Jughead had described her as. Funny, smart, kind.

 

“Mind if I steal this one?” Jughead comes up, after a while, a slow song coming.

 

“No problem, Jones. I’ll go find my wife. Slow songs are her thing.” Toni smiles, standing up from the table.

 

“Care to dance, my love?” Jughead offers her his hand and stands up to kiss his lips as they move to the dance floor. He wraps his arms around her waist as hers go on his shoulders. “So, how’s tonight been so far?”

 

“I’m loving it.” She tells him honestly. “I feel like a normal human being. Everyone’s been sweet and I get to hear stories about you.”

 

“I’m glad, sweetheart.” He grins, pecking her lips. They dance in silence, enjoying the feel of being with each other, swaying to the music. She leans her head on his shoulder, smiling to herself, her mind traveling back to something she’d been thinking about. She lifts her head up from his shoulder to look at him. “What?”

 

“I wanna marry you.” She tells him and he stills, staring at her. “Marry me, Jug.”

 

“Are you being serious?” He asks, in disbelief. “Are you proposing, right now?” 

 

“Yes.” She murmurs, placing her forehead on his. “So, what’s your answer, Jughead Jones, will marry me?”

 

He laughs, holding her closer. “Without a fucking doubt, Betts. Yes, I’ll marry you.”

Chapter Text

“Should we just stay here forever?” Jughead mumbles into her skin, face pressed against her neck.

Betty laughs softly. “I have work to do, so maybe not.”

“But we’re celebrating.” Her fiancé says.

“Jug, we’ve been celebrating for a whole week. We have to leave the bed at some point.” She tells him, running a hand through his hair.

“Do we really?” He smirks, lifting his head up to look at her. He presses his lips to hers and then tickles her, laughing loudly. They hear a meow, from the side of the bed, Caramel, Betty’s cat is sitting in all of her pomposity. “Your daughter probably wants food.”

“I think you’re qualified as her father now, so you can go feed her and make breakfast while I go have a shower.” Betty grins and he buries his face into her neck again. “Come on, my love. We haven’t even told anyone we’re engaged yet and it’s been a week. I’m having lunch with Ronnie and you’re having lunch with Arch. And we’re both going to be productive today.”

Jughead sighs. “Fine.” Moving to lie beside her to let her leave the bed. She kisses him, softly and slowly before climbing off the bed, making her way to the bathroom.

He makes his way to the kitchen, Caramel trailing behind him. He fills her bowl with food and then moves on to make some omeletes for breakfast. Looking down, he finds the chain with his engagement ring, a simple band, inscribed with ‘B.C to JJ, forever yours’. She had gotten it for him the day they returned to New York. He smiles, fiddling with it as he waits for the omelet to cook.

His plan for the day was to get her an engagement ring. He loved that she proposed to him. For him, it had been absolutely perfect that the woman he loved had proposed to him in the middle of his high school reunion, struck by the fact that she wanted to know all about his past, she wanted to live her present with him and she wanted to be his future. That was perfect, in his book. But he also wanted her to have a beautiful diamond ring, just as his silver band dangled across his heart, the heart she had claimed as hers. It would be a simple ring, he knew that would be her choice. Simple, not extravagant, just as their love. Just a simple promise of what’s to come. A symbol to look upon when they found themselves away from each other.

Feeling arms wrap around his shoulders, his lips stretch into a smile. She rests her shin on his shoulder, placing a soft kiss on his skin. “Sweetheart.” He turns on the stool so she’s between his legs and she grins. “I’m so glad I get to do this for the rest of my life.” He says, looking up at the love of his life.

“You sure you won’t get tired of me? When I’m old and wrinkly?” She teases, running a hand through his hair.

“Never.” He shakes his head. “We’ll be old and wrinkly together, on a porch, somewhere sunny and I’ll love you even more. I can’t wait to keep living with you, my love.” She grins, placing her forehead against his. Kissing him is something she’ll never tire of and just as he had wished, she can’t wait to live her life beside him.

They eat breakfast together and then she leaves, kissing him goodbye. So, Jughead gets ready, setting the plan in motion to get her a ring. He knew her favorite store so that was the first goal of the day and if that store was a bust then he’d have to keep looking. He was having lunch with Archie and was going to tell him that he was engaged to be married to the girl who had made the two pull over in Canada two years ago.

“Would you mind if I take a look at that row in particular?” Jughead points through the glass, questioning the sales associate with a smile. She smiles and nods, getting the rings out and placing them in front of Jughead.

“According to what you want, these might be these best ones we have. There is nothing over the top, it’s classic, really. It was first introduced more than a hundred years old, this design. It’s timeless.” The sales associate explains and he grins looking at the rings.

“I think this might be it.” He breathes out, looking at the ring he was holding. He felt as though it really was perfect for Betty.

“Anything you want engraved?” The sales associate questions, with a smile.

He nods. “Yes, it’s right here.” He hands her the piece of paper. Written on it, in his messy handwriting, is ‘To my Beloved’.

“There’s just been some drama with another player.” Archie rolls his eyes, explaining the events that had been occurring over the past week. There had been a fight between Archie and a guy on the opposing team at a game. The guy had definitely started it, not that it mattered, but it had happened, causing the media to fuss about it immensely. The other guy wasn’t helping, calling Archie out on Twitter and Archie, had mostly stayed out of it other than a brief statement. “I mean, this guy, Jug, I’m telling you, he’s a world class asshole. And he punched me in the face.” He groans. “At least we won the game.”

“Those boxing days do you any good?” Jughead teases with a smirk on his face.

“My riverdale boxing days are over, but I can still pack a mean punch.” Archie grins. “Remember that one time you joined me?”

“My scrawny ass was forced by you, Andrews.” He rolls his eyes and then laughs softly. “You should’ve been at the high school reunion, man.” Jughead mentions, his smiles growing bigger at the thought of that night.

“I wish I could’ve but it was a game night.” Archie frowns for a second, but as it happens most of the time, his boyish grin replaces it. “How did Betty like our little town?”

Jughead can’t help but think back to their short days in Riverdale, between Pop’s and Sweetwater River and a surprising proposal, it was an amazing few days, perhaps some of his favorite days he spent in his hometown. “She loved it actually.” He nods. “And she met everybody, at the school.”

“Shit, really?” Archie laughs. “That’s strange, right? Most of time I separate Riverdale and the rest of the world as if they’re two different realities.” He shakes his head. “It’s weird to see two things crashing. This world we’re apart of and our past.” The red head muses.

Jughead smiles. Archie can be, no matter how many times he teases him for being the other way around, surprising. In rare moments of full wisdom, he says things that Jughead wholeheartedly believes in, like this. The past and the future and those elements crashing, like Betty and Toni hugging goodbye at the end of the high school reunion and seeing the love of his life, his future wife, by Sweetwater River, with flashbacks of him alone in that same place. And he can’t help but feel the present is much more colorful than his memories.

“I know what you mean.” Jughead nods. “It was weird to see everybody. I mean, Toni married Cheryl.”

Archie gasps. “Cheryl? Good lord, what in the world happened?”

“Hey, I always believed Bombshell had a heart. Maybe, you know, like deep down.”

“Really fucking deep, let me tell you, Toni probably got lost.” They laugh. “That’s really strange.”

“Cheryl’s a lot different.” Jughead notes. “She’s actually kind of...nice?”

“Surprising, but people change, I guess.” Archie shrugs. “I mean, we all did, right?”

He nods. “We did. You’re playing football on one of the biggest teams in the country, I’m still singing my songs but to stadiums, I’m getting married.”

There’s a pause, in which Archie says nothing but then his eyes widen. “Excuse me?” Archie questions loudly. “Am I missing something? You’re getting married?”

Jughead grins. “I am.”

“When the hell did you propose? Why didn’t you tell me?” Archie questions rapidly.

“Cause I didn’t.” He chuckles. “Betty proposed to me.”

The red head laughs. “Seems about right.” His laughter dies down and he smiles at his friend. “Who knew Canada would come to this? My best friend getting married to Betty Cooper. Remember when Ethel had posters of her as a kid in her bedroom?” Archie shakes his head. “The world is a strange place, Jug.”

“Yeah, it is.” He nods.

Archie stares at him for a second with a soft smile on his lips. “You’re getting married.” He says, proudly. “I’m glad you’re marrying her. She’s good for you. You’re good for each other, really.”

“Thanks, Arch.”

Archie then shakes his head, letting out a chuckle. “It’s so freaking weird, dude. Remember all those years ago when you talked about there being some sort of connection between you two, every time you saw her. At a party, at a show, you always said that there was something between you that you couldn’t figure out. And now you’re getting married. How weird is that? Might actually have me believing in love all over again, Jug.”

“I guess it was fate.” Jughead grins.

“Hey?” She murmurs, as they sit on the couch, her with a book and him softly playing the guitar. She loves these nights of quiet and she figures she always will, for the rest of their lives. “I was thinking…”

“What?” He smiles softly, putting the guitar down so he can crawl over to her.

“I want us to move in together. Officially.” She tells him. “We have been basically living together for the longest time, but we don’t really have a permanent residence, our place. It’s my apartment and then yours, but not ours.” She explains.

He nods his head. “I’ve been thinking about it too, even more so now that we’re going to get married.” He says, placing a kiss on her lips. “So, what’s the plan? Do we choose one of our apartments or do we get a new one?”

“Well, both of our apartments only have two bedrooms.” Betty notes, caressing his cheek. His eyes soften. “I think…we should be looking at something a little bigger to start our life together.”

“How many bedrooms were we thinking, Ms. Cooper?” He smirks.

“Mmmh, three maybe, plus an office? Keep a few guest bedrooms, we do have many good friends who stay over sometimes.”

“We sure do, but what will we do when they’re empty, just us two living in three-bedroom apartment?”

“I can think of a couple of things we could do.” She wraps her legs around his waist, pulling him closer to her as he laughs, placing his lips on hers. “Maybe we could practice.”

“Practice for what?” He teases and she rolls her eyes, kissing him a little harder, hungrily. “I can’t wait for the game.” He tells her, pulling away for a second, the most beautiful sincere look on his face that kind of makes her want to make a baby with him right there. They don’t, just yet, but practice is always fun.

The next day, Betty reaches out to her real estate agent that had gotten her her apartment in New York and he sends her a list of apartments. Jughead is in a studio working on his next album, she has a few meetings about a movie she’s starring in, but she sends him the apartment list anyway. He texts her during his lunch break, telling her to schedule the house tours for the next week since he’s free. So, she does.

The next week is filled with apartment visits and a lot of no’s. There isn’t one that really has them loving it, imagining it as the place they’d live in, their home. But then they get to the last two and Betty falls in love with the home office and Jughead falls in love with a built-in studio, the penthouse having belonged to a Rockstar previously. They wouldn’t admit it, but what had really sold it had been the bedroom right next to the master one. The realtor had mentioned briefly that it was perfect for a nursery, that it was exactly that, with the previous owner and the look on Betty’s face was enough to make Jughead sign the deal right then, but they’d sleep on it. The light in the apartment felt just right and everything felt right about it. The location, the apartment itself and the decision to spend their life together.

“It was perfect, right? I didn’t imagine that?” Betty murmurs as they settle into bed that same night.

“I don’t think you did.” He smiles softly. “It was pretty perfect.”

“I guess it’s settled then?” She grins up at him and he places a kiss to her lips. “We’re buying a home.”

“That sounds nice. Home.”

Betty’s eyes soften, sinking into him. “Can you believe that we’ve known each other for so long and yet we never went for each other?”

“Well, sweetheart, I’m a very strong believer that you and I were supposed to be together at a specific point in time and that maybe all those years ago we weren’t ready for each other, for this kind of love.” He tells her.

“We are now.”

He nods. “Forever, Betty.”

*

A month later they are fully settled into their new home and it already feels exactly that. A home. Betty feels more at peace than she’s ever felt before. And there is something about living in a place that is theirs that makes everything feel a thousand times greater. A life together. They had argued about couches and how many pillows should on it and the color palette of the whole living room and their room and the guest bedrooms and the office and it had been interesting to see how both of their personalities had come into play to make the place feel like their home.

Now, after a whole month, it was. Their lives hadn’t changed all that much, truth be told. The routine was mostly the same as it was, and it was the life they loved ever since they were really together. So, it was perfect. All that they had never expected had swept them away in a month in Canada and now they were engaged to be married, saving a room for a potential child.

Betty expected that these life altering moments to make her anxious, scared of losing everything, of making mistake and burning everything to the ground but with Jughead, life seemed to be simply settling into its place, easily and naturally, nothing was forced. For so long, she had been so scared when things were going well for too long, sure that it would end, career wise, in her personal life, all of it. She hasn’t been scared in a while. Now she was so happy. She had a wonderful fiancé, a beautiful home, a job that she had always wanted, directing, writing and acting in various movies and TV shows, successful, critically acclaimed. It was all a life she never imagined she’d have, so stable and happy, a life that had you asked her at 21 if it were possible for her, she’d laugh at your face.

“Sweetheart?” She looks up from the computer to look at her fiancé. “It’s pretty late.” She had been writing a script, was actually almost finishing if she didn’t get stuck somewhere. She glances at the clock on her screen, wincing when she sees that it’s two A.M. “Come to bed. You need to get some rest. You were up early today.” He tells her, leaning against the door frame.

“I know.” She frowns. “Give me ten minutes to finish this idea and I’ll be all yours, okay?”

He smiles softly. “I’ll be waiting.” He exits the room, disappearing into the darkness of the hallway and she smiles to herself, the image of him with messy hair and sleepy eyes making her heart slow down, her love for him so easy. She finishes up, saving everything before shutting her computer off and leaving the office. She glances at the window, catching a glimpse of the New York night, thinking how lucky she was to be living this life with the most wonderful soulmate.

“Veronica hasn’t stopped harassing me about wedding planning.” Betty tells him once they’re settled in bed. He laughs softly.

“Do we even want a big wedding? Do you, I mean?” He questions, rubbing her back.

“Not really.” She smirks. “Just kinda looking forward to marrying you.”

“Would it be awful if we just eloped? Get a license and just do it?” He asks.

“Do you mean that?” She murmurs, looking up at him.

He furrows his brows. “Is that a real question?”

She grins softly. “Maybe. Kind of exciting. Just go to City Hall and get a license, get someone to officiate it and get married. I’d have nice vows, promise.” He stills for a second, stomach fluttering. And pulls himself up so he’s hovering over her, leaning to turn on the bedside table lamp to look at her properly. “What?”

“Do you wanna do that?”

“Like tomorrow?” He breathes out when he hears her answer, his heart beating a little faster at the thought.

“Do you think Veronica and Archie would be down for that? Be our witnesses?” He asks. “On a whim?” She nods, her eyes lighting. “Holy shit?”

“You’re a hundred percent sure you wanna do this?” Betty questions, grabbing his face in both her hands. “I’ll be your wife tomorrow?”

“Betts, I feel like I’ve waited my whole life for you. If I get to call you my wife tomorrow, if I have the privilege of being your husband tomorrow, I’m so down for a City Hall wedding.” The look on his face brings tears to her eyes and she pulls him in, pressing her lips to his. “So, we getting married tomorrow?”

*

“You’re getting married.” Veronica whispers as she braids Betty’s hair. Getting a phone call from your best friend to tell you that she’s decided to get married the day of was definitely a shock. When Betty was younger, Veronica remembers of how Betty wanted a huge wedding, if she were to get married, but she used to dream of the dress, the location and guest list. Veronica is silently glad, and she had realized long ago that what her best friend wanted was just the simplicity of loving Jughead and having that be a promise, a symbolization of their love on their left hands.

“At least we had the decency to let you do all of this.” Betty smiles at Veronica through the mirror.

“You’re welcome by the way.” She smirks. “I’ve always wanted to plan your wedding, so when you go shotgun, I call in favors from wherever I can.”

Veronica Lodge had essentially set up a small wedding, on the rooftop of her own home and had convinced Betty and Jughead to not get married in City Hall, but by sundown. They had trusted her, so Veronica had whisked Betty away for a spa date so they could get ready for the wedding, finding a simple white dress for Betty and, as the overachiever that she is, had literally made Alice, FP and Gladys and even JB fly in to New York in record time. There was a photographer ready, a small catering service and a beautiful spot, a small gazebo brought in for the occasion, with fairy lights and rose petals. What was supposed to be a City Hall wedding had turned into a full-on event, simple yet in record time. They had called their friends at eight AM, sending Veronica in action to plan a wedding in ten hours.

“Thank you, V.” Betty turns around to hug her best friend. “For saving me.” She whispers. “For this and for being the best friend I could ever ask for. You’ve never given up on me.”

Veronica holds back the tears. “I could never.” She murmurs. “But quit trying to make me cry.” She laughs. “Jughead is waiting. I’ll go out there and call Alice in.” Alice was the one walking Betty down the aisle, the memory of her father ever present and she knew that the only one to do it would be her mother.

“Go, I need to marry that man.” She chuckles and Veronica hugs her one last time before parting and getting out of the room. She has a few seconds alone, before Alice comes in, already crying at the sight of her daughter. Granted she didn’t have a wedding dress, but the very thought that it was happening had her emotional.

“Oh, honey.” Alice breathes out, stepping closer. “I’m so happy. I’m so happy you went back for Jughead all those years ago.”

Betty grins. “Me too, mom.”

She places a hand on her daughter’s cheek. “Your father would’ve been proud.”

“I wish he could’ve been here.”

“He is.” Alice murmurs. “He always will be.” She presses a kiss to Betty’s forehead. “Now, let’s go. Your future husband is getting a little restless.”

“Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Jughead. I don’t think words could ever describe how my love for you changed everything. 

 

I’ve known you since I was twenty. And though, the memories of those times are often hazy, I do remember you. I always have. It’s a strange thing, our history. Throughout the years we’ve known each other, I used to wonder...what if? What if we lived in the same city? What if you weren’t on tour? What if I wasn’t shooting a movie halfway across the world? What if, for once, our paths crossed longer than 2 am conversations at parties we no longer wanted to be at? 

 

You’ve always understood me, in a way not a lot of people do. And our conversations always made me want more. More time. More than what we had. More than whatever limbo we used to find ourselves in of should I go for this? 

 

And then I was Canada, in a cabin and you were next door. The memories of that month with you is one of the things I hold most dearly to my heart. And that’s just ours and no one else’s. Our love story. 

 

I always did believe that you and I could be something. And you told me that we were supposed to get together at the right time and any other time before that would be wrong. 

 

We fell head into this love of ours. And I got scared and I almost made the biggest mistake of my life walking out on you. But I didn’t. I came back and now I never want to live in a world that doesn’t have you as my soulmate, the love of my life. 

 

I vow to love you for the rest of my days, even more than I do today. I vow to make you happy and to take care of you, I vow we to grow old with you, in that dream of front porch, somewhere sunny. 

 

And I know life won’t always be the happiest of places and there will hard times and we’ll get angry and frustrated and sad, but I hope that your safe haven is with me just as I know mine is with you. I hope that for all the bad times we might share, the good will always outweigh the bad, in this life we’ll start to build. 

 

I can’t wait to start the rest of my life with you. And I can’t wait to live by your side. Forever. In sickness and in health and for richer or for poorer, I’m with you. My heart belongs to you. 

 

 

Folding the piece of paper, struggling to fight the tears, she looks up at her love, heart filled with so much joy she could barely breathe. To think that years ago, she had tried to take her own life, had almost lost the opportunity to fall for this man, to have this happy life with beautiful friends and family, to think she could’ve missed the quietness of her mind in his arms, in dinner tables and in life. What a waste it would’ve been. She thought she couldn’t be strong enough to carry on. 

 

He breathes in deeply, as the minister tells him to say his vows. Reaching a hand to her cheek to wipe a stray tear, he smiles at her. “So, since this really is a shotgun wedding, I couldn’t figure out a way to write my vows down, so I thought I’d just try to tell you. And despite me being a song writer, I’ve never been too good with speeches or writing them so bear with me.” He laughs, rubbing her hand, as she stares at him with eyes glazed with tears. “I was trying to figure out what to say and I started thinking of houses. How they’re built. And I think...for the longest time, I’ve had the house but not the home. What makes a house a home? Well, a house is bricks and structure and the ground it’s built on, it’s windows and door frames and flooring and walls which are all important things, otherwise the house will fall apart.” He says, pause to breathe in, gulping down the lump in his throat. “What you put in the house, though, that’s what makes it a home. The couch you will sit on every day and the bed and the photographs on the walls and the cat’s litter box.” Betty laughs softly. “The notes on the fridge and the shopping list and all the little things that make a house lived in, the feeling of warmth, of recognizing the sound of someone’s footsteps outside the door. And when I think back to Canada, to us falling in love, I had the foundation of the house laid down. I was sober for years, my career was great, I had a great apartment, great friends, great family and then there you were. All of sudden it’s like my brain clicked and I just saw you there, an open slot to love you and I saw a future and I saw the shopping lists and the photographs and the shoes in the hall and the keys on the coffee table. A whole life that just fit. I saw a home in you. I felt at home with you. I still do. And I always will. And I want that front porch you talked about, the sun and the house, the home. I want everything with you, so I promise that I will love you and I will thank you every day for the rest of my days for building me a home within yourself and for loving me so fiercely, I can only hope I get to love you forever.”

 

They both look back at the man officiating their wedding and the man laughs at their eagerness. “By the power vested in me by the state of New York, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now- you got that covered.” He chuckles as Jughead dives in pressing his lips to his wife’s. 

 

She laughs against his lips, body flush against him. “Mrs. Cooper-Jones.” He murmurs, grinning. 

 

“Mr. Cooper-Jones.” She pecks his lips before turning back to their family’s waiting arms. Alice leaps forward to wrap her arms around her daughter, basically sobbing. 

 

“You’re married.” Alice murmurs, caressing her cheek. “My baby is married.” Betty laughs, overwhelmed by emotion, holding her mother close. Alice lets go of her only to wrap Jughead up in a hug. “I’m so happy you two found each other.” She pats his cheek, pulling back with a grin on his face.

 

And as Jughead looks back at his wife, he knows that this was the best late-night idea he’d ever had, to marry this woman the next day with the people they love, and the memory is cemented in his brain forever. Of her green eyes, in the sunset light and her golden hair and her words, her vows promising a forever. Only theirs and no one else’s.

 

*

 

He writes a song on their second day of their honeymoon. It had been a blissful couple of days. Scratch that. It had been a blissful couple of weeks of her being his wife. Since, schedule wise, a honeymoon had been a littler harder to plan right away, they had waited a couple of weeks. And here they were, in Mexico, in a beautiful beach, husband and wife. It still sends shivers down his spine to think they were actually married. The ring on his finger still felt a little foreign, but it was forging its way into his skin, as part of him, a symbol, a promise. But it was still shiny and new, a reminder of the life they have ahead. He can’t wait for life to make it a little less shiny, he can’t wait for what life will bring them.

 

The song is fairly simple. A guitar. Five chords. His voice, maybe some harmonies when he has time to record it. The lyrics are about the house he spoke of in his vows, about her and about their love. All he ever seems to write about nowadays is them, her. And he knows he’ll never run out of things to write about as time goes.

 

“Are you ever going to get out bed, Mr. Jones?” Betty smirks emerging from the balcony, leaning against the window frame. Sun kissed skin, green eyes even greener, legs tempting him to grab her and make her join him in bed and never leave.

 

“Maybe you could join me, Mrs. Jones.” He smiles. “We have all the time in the world.”

 

“No, I want to go down to beach.”

 

He groans. “Just a little bit?”

 

“There’s breakfast in the balcony.” She grins.

 

He sits up comically straight in a second. “Say no more, my dearest wife.” She laughs loudly as he climbs out of bed, walking to her. He wraps his arms around her, placing his lips on her in a slow kiss.

 

When she pulls away, she has an amused look her face. “I really do hope our kids don’t inherit your appetite, my love.”

 

“Mmmh, well I sure hope they inherit your eyes.” He smiles, face genuine and full of bliss.

 

Her heart flutters. “Your heart.”

 

“Your kindness.” He murmurs.

 

She leans her head against his chest. “I’m gonna love them so hard they won’t know what hit them.” He laughs softly. They stay there, in each other’s embrace for a bit before Jughead’s stomach rumbles causing them both to laughs, letting go of each other to get to the breakfast table. “Hey?”

“Mmmh?”

 

“I love you.”

 

She chuckles. “I love you.”

 

“I like this place.” He murmurs, leaning back against his chair. “We should come back sometime.”

 

“Yeah.” She nods. “We should.”

 

Their morning is spent on the beach, reading their books, reading each other’s lips, soaking in the sun in a small slice of paradise. And Jughead can’t remember feeling so blissful, so simply happy and full of love and joy and all of her in his arms. He can’t quite believe that he’ll have her forever.

*

 

She wants to stay in this blissful moment for all of the time she has left on this earth. Sitting at the same piano where she and Jughead once sat at, falling in love, as she sang to him, as they sang to each other, is Jughead and a little girl. Charlotte Cooper-Jones. Their beautiful, precious daughter. With sandy blonde hair to match her mother and blue eyes to match her father, Charlie is sat beside her father, as he teaches her how to play. She’s six years old. A chatter box, a ball of energy and the sweetest girl. She had changed everything; Betty’s heart had doubled in size when she held her baby in her arms for the first time. Her flesh and blood, half Jughead, half her, all theirs.

 

“Daddy, can you sing me my song?” She smiles up at him. Betty laughs softly, her heart warm and happy. “Pretty please?”

 

“Well, of course.” He places a kiss to her head before focusing on the piano keys. The song, written when Charlie was still inside her, brings her back to the past, the past wonderful six years that she had been with them and how amazing their life had turned out since they’re shotgun wedding. They had found out she was pregnant a couple of months into their marriage and it had been a surprise, not an unwelcome one at all. She remembers the feeling of sitting in their bathroom, waiting for the result of the tests, wishing they were positive. The look on her husband’s when he had gotten home that day.

 

She had put the pieces together during lunch. She had been working on a script for a few months now, so she was mostly at home, apart from a few meetings. It was almost complete, save for little tweaks she wanted to make. When lunch time came around and the smell of the leftovers from her favorite homemade lasagna Jughead usually makes, causes nausea, she finds it odd. The day before, she had been devouring it and now its smell has her running to the bathroom. When she returned to kitchen, set on making something else or ordering in, her eyes freeze on the calendar on the fridge.

 

“Shit.” She mumbles as she steps closer, checking the date and realizing that she was indeed late. A couple of weeks. “Shit. Fuck. Shit.” She lets out a laugh, then scolds herself for getting so excited. The next thing she does is, knowing that Jughead is supposed to be home in a couple of hours, is call him. She very well does not need someone seeing her buy a pregnancy test and have end up on a magazine cover.

 

“Hey, honey.” Jughead greets when he answers the phone. “Everything ok? I’ll be home soon.”

 

“I know.” She closes her eyes, willing her heart to stop beating so fast. “I need you to get something for me.”

 

“The eggs, right? You told me that this morning. Do we need anything else?” He says somewhat absentmindedly, probably busy. “Betty?” He calls out when she doesn’t answer straight away.

 

“I need you to get someone to buy a couple of pregnancy tests.”

 

“What?”

 

“Pregnancy-“

 

“Oh my god!” He gasps. “I’m going home now! I’ll get the driver to go to the store, okay? Sit tight, sweetheart!”

“Jug, calm down! We don’t know yet, it could be a fluke okay?”

 

“If you’re not, then we’re trying for real.” He says, rushed, sounding like he’s walking fast somewhere. And it makes her giddy and she can’t help but feel as excited as she wants to feel.

 

“Okay.” She breathes out. “Okay.”

 

It takes him 45 minutes to get the tests and to get home. She’s been busying herself with some dumb TV show, but her stomach appears to be distraction. All she can think about is if there really is a life forming inside her and she knew that if the tests were negative, she’d be disappointed but she also knew that this, if it was happening, wasn’t planned, they weren’t trying and if she wasn’t pregnant, then they’d try for real.

 

When the front door opens, she leaps off the couch, meeting him as he walks into the living room. He wraps his arms around her tightly, a paper bag in his hand. He pulls back to look at her. “Shit, you could be pregnant.”

 

She laughs, kissing. “Give me this. I’ve been drinking orange juice ever since I called you and I’m dying to pee.”

 

“I can’t wait to know what your pee tells us.”

 

She grins. “I love you.”

 

“I love you.”

 

In the seven minutes it takes for the results to appear, Jughead sits with Betty on the floor of their bathroom, wrapped up in each other’s arms quietly. And he can picture her belly round with their baby. Their baby. God, he loves every bit of it already, without even knowing it’s actually real.

 

“If you’re pregnant-“

 

“I know.” She breathes out and the timer goes off. “Together?”

 

“Always.” He squeezes her hand before helping her up, then walking to the vanity where the tests are laid out. “Do we look now?”

 

“Yeah.” They look away from each other and then down at the tests. The word ‘pregnant’ stares back at them. “Oh my god!” She cries, burying her face in his shoulder. “Juggie, a baby.”

 

“We’re having a baby.” He laughs, sniffling. “You’re pregnant, Betts. Our baby’s growing inside of you, sweetheart.” He sinks to his knees, lifting up her shirt to press his lips to her bare stomach, still no sign of the life forming inside of it, but the very notion of knowing it is right there. Their son or daughter. It sends him into a crying mess and the future he once imagined is slowing coming together.

 

“Mommy, sing too!” Charlie looks back at her and she stand up, sitting on the piano bench, Charlie pulling herself onto her lap, leaning into her.

 

May have blue eyes, like mine

Baby mine, I’ll love you so

Don’t know the color of your hair

But I’ve never loved like this before

 

Baby mine, I’ll hold you close

The seasons will change

But our hearts won’t

 

You’re swimming inside your mother

And I’m sorry for the world outside

It’ll be cold and sometimes blue

Baby mine, know it’ll be alright

 

Baby mine, I’ll hold you close

I’ll love you so,

I’ll love you so.

 

*

 

Charlotte Cooper-Jones is born on a Friday morning, the sun is shining bright and Jughead falls even more in love with his wife after seeing just how strong she is. Charlotte is placed in his arms and he cries as he stares at his baby. His daughter. Their daughter.  

 

“Jug.” Betty whispers, reaching to stroke their baby’s soft head. “We have a daughter.”

 

“Isn’t that crazy?” He laughs softly. “How is it possible not to burst with how much you love someone?”

 

“I don’t know…” She murmurs. “It’s like having your heart on the outside of your body, isn’t it?” Betty’s exhausted, sore and in need of sleep but she finds that she doesn’t want to miss a moment of this. Of their little family of three. That kind of love was just otherworldly, unlike any other feeling in the world. “Can you believe that one day she’ll be a moody teenager?” Betty jokes, as they gaze down at their precious angel, sleeping soundly in her father’s arms. “I hope the life we give her is the happiest of lives.”

 

“We’ll make sure of it, Betts.”

 

*

 

“You sound so pretty, momma.” Charlotte, murmurs.

 

“Thanks, baby.” Betty smiles, running her hand through her daughter’s blonde locks.

 

“Should we go outside? Take a walk? We can feed the ducks by the lake, Charlie?”

 

Their daughter’s eyes light up. “Can we?”

 

“Sure, go put your shoes on, princess.” Charlie jumps off them, running to her room in the cabin.

 

Betty smiles at her husband, reaching to place a hand on his cheek. “We made that ball of energy.”

 

He laughs, melting into her, shifting closer so he can pull her into his lap. “Can’t wait to know what this one will be like.” He places his hand on her stomach. She’s not showing yet but there is a little on growing inside her. They had tried for a long time for a second baby. It had been a long and hard journey. They had decided to try for another baby when Charlie was four and they had trouble conceiving and then a year after trying, they had gotten pregnant, only to have that ripped away from them.

 

*

 

She had woken up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Exhausted, between Charlotte being sick and morning sickness. She hadn’t been sleeping well. When she turns on the lights in the bathroom and moves to the toilet to push her pajama pants down, she’s not expecting the red stain of blood. Her hands start shaking, she pales. She knows what’s happening, knows she’s losing their baby, she’s losing Charlie’s brother or sister.

 

As always, Jughead wakes when she leaves their bed and notices she’s taking longer than usual so he climbs out of bed, walks to the bathroom and finds his wife frozen in her spot, notices the stain and his heart sinks to his feet. “Oh, god…”

 

“Jug…” She looks up at him, eyes glazed with tears, a hand on her stomach.

 

“We need to go to the hospital, now.” He says, rushing to her. “I’ll call Veronica, she’s in town, right? She can stay with Charlie. Sweetheart, come on, we have to go, okay?”

 

“I lost it.”

 

“We don’t know that, okay? Let’s go, come on. I’ll call the doc on the way.”

 

They did lose the baby. Jughead barely registers their doctor’s words, all he can do is hold Betty’s hand as it goes limp in his. He hates the blank stare in her eyes, he wants her to scream, to cry, to breakdown. He hates not being able to read her. On the way home, with the same vacant look in her eyes, he thinks it’s all to clinical, the whole process, of losing someone that is going to be washed away with the pills in Betty’s lap. You lose the baby and you just go home after a couple of hours.

 

He thanks Veronica when they arrive and Betty doesn’t really acknowledge Veronica’s hug, she walks straight to their bedroom when Veronica lets go of her. And the pain in Jughead’s chest only grows stronger, making it harder for him to breathe.

 

“I’m so sorry, Jug.” Veronica tells him. “I didn’t even know you guys were having-”

 

“We didn’t wanna tell anyone in case-” He chokes out and Veronica hugs him and he cries and it hurts because they were so thrilled, after having tried for so long, and now it was all gone. “I’m gonna go check on her.”

 

“Yeah. I’ll see myself out.”

 

“Thank you again, Ronnie.”

 

She waves him off. “Always. You guys know that.”

 

He walks to their bedroom and doesn’t find her there. Instead, he finds her in Charlie’s room, sat on the floor by the bed, looking her their daughter. She doesn’t look up at him, when he opens the door wider. He goes to sit beside her, pulling her closer to him. Charlie looks like a little angel, as always.

 

“We’re gonna be okay.” Jughead whispers, pressing a kiss to her head she suppresses a sob. “We’re gonna be okay.”

 

*

 

“It’s nice to be back here.” Betty murmurs, as they walk together. “To this place, our place.” She smiles, nudging him. Charlotte is running in front of them, her endless energy spreading through.

 

“Feels right, doesn’t it?” He squeezes her hand. “As a family now? Being back where we fell in love?”

 

“It really does.” She nods, leaning against him. “Should we sit?”

 

“Yeah, let me get the fireball to feed the ducks.” He laughs. “Charlie?” She comes running to them, giggles escaping her. “I think the ducks are hungry.”

 

“We can’t have that, daddy. I’ll take care of them.” Charlie says as Jughead hands her a small bag of corn. She runs off as her parents sit on the same bench where they had they first kiss. They watch their daughter in silence, snapping a few pictures of her giggles.

 

“Hey?” Jughead nudges his wife. She looks back at him, tearing her eyes away from their daughter. “You still think we’re fucked?”

 

She laughs, throwing her head back. “For life, my love.” She smiles. “100%?”

 

“200, 500%. Statistically, I’m all in.” He places his forehead on hers and then kisses her. And there is the picture of the past with the intrusion of the future. Two young lovers sitting in a bench in Canada, falling in love and the vision of their future, right in front of them, laughing a little like her mother with a smile just like her father’s.