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Aftershocks

Chapter Text

 

Where are you going?

……

To be with Jason.

 

Grief was such an ugly, pedantic emotion. It was for sniveling commoners, for the less fortunate, because anyone who knew the Blossom family knew they had an uncanny way of coming out on top; one might say they were even skilled in escaping death itself. Yet, there were no shortage of funerals for the maple syrup moguls, not lately. The shadow that had been cast over Riverdale – murder, deceit, trickery, suicide – it was too much to keep in the rear view mirror. All their attempts at carefully crafted damage control were calculated, but the application somehow never stuck.

 

After Jason Blossom’s death, the whispers crept all the way to Thornhill Mansion like a dense fog. It was stagnant, putrid as their family’s deep, dark secrets. Perhaps they were not as untouchable as the others all thought – perhaps they were mortal, after all. Their blood was as red as the burning embers that perched atop their heads like a warning sign to anyone who dared cross them. Cheryl Blossom did her best to keep her head high, to square her shoulders and douse the fire with ice in her veins, keep herself steeled and poised; dignified, even when the world was reduced to ashes around her. Her reply was simple: she had a more acidic tongue than usual and used it as a scythe to cut the people who dared mention her beloved brother’s name and those horrible rumors down like wheat.

 

Until she couldn’t escape those, either.

 

When Betty Cooper – her dear, meddling cousin – and Jughead Jones unearthed the truth behind Jason’s death with their little gang of do-gooders, she felt her last shreds of dignity torn from her like a child’s security blanket. She understood the intention behind it; after all, what wouldn’t she do to save her own family? Jughead wanted to clear FP’s name, and his own familial pride gave him the wherewithal to do whatever it took, no matter the cost. That fact didn’t ease her heartache or make Cheryl sleep better at night. It didn’t make anything easier. It didn’t stop the bile from rising in the redhead’s throat whenever she saw someone – one of the lesser students who attended her school look at her with pity.

 

Because pity was even more than grief. It was an insult, it was a threat, and it was enough to pull at the last shreds that kept Cheryl Blossom together like the carefully woven tapestry of refinement and tenacity she had always been: a Blossom, through and through. They hadn’t prepared her for this, hadn’t taught her how to retain diplomacy when everything they had built, every stone of their empire and every ounce of superiority came crumbling down like the fabled walls of Jericho.

 

Cheryl Blossom, who had previously lived her life in a limitless fashion, throwing caution to the wind and sky and damning anyone who tried to stop her, had enough. She had hit rock bottom. It was all too much.

 

And so, she succumbed to her grief. Her miserable, human grief.

 

Jason was her everything.

 

Her surname was her identity and her legacy, but within that mantle, they were two against the world.

 

Since they were red-faced infants, watching the world around them with amber-colored eyes that held so much wisdom despite the fact that they were still too young to understand anything the world had to offer, much less the world they were born into, they were inseparable. Jason and Cheryl’s first word was the same: mine. Nobody knew if it was influenced by the other, and when asked a few years down the road, both children feigned innocence, a sure sign that neither would ever tell. They shared many secrets, all of the other’s secrets, and it was when Jason stopped telling Cheryl his secrets that a path was cleared for his demise.

 

She wanted to be angry. She wanted to hate him, but from the second Sheriff Keller’s men pulled his cold, lifeless body from Sweetwater River, there was only one thing Cheryl truly desired. She wanted to be with her brother again. She wanted to see her JJ’s smile, hear his laugh, shrug her shoulders at his teasing antics, and sob in his arms when the world got to be too much, when their crowns became too heavy to wear.

 

Cheryl was dressed like a bride-to-be at an elaborate wedding as she made her way down to banks of Sweetwater River. Her hair spilled fire down her shoulders and she shivered, feeling the icy mist sting her skin as she tentatively placed a foot onto the thin ice and made her way toward the middle. The cold didn’t bother her, she’d been cold since the day she felt Jason’s life slip away, before she even knew her brother was gone. Twins knew, instinctively, she surmised. They’d taken their first breaths so close to one another, they had shared a womb; if anything, she felt the sting of guilt in her heart more than anything, more than the frozen earth and ice around her because she’d kept him waiting this long for her return. She had a reputation of being fashionably late, but she hated keeping Jason waiting. Now, now she knew he had to be in Heaven, watching down on her, waiting for her to join him so they could spend the rest of eternity together, as they’d always planned.

 

There was no point in living without him.

 

And so, she’d attend her own icy funeral while the heavens watched and the angels wept, but she knew somewhere, her brother was smiling with an arm outstretched. She could hear his whispered promises on the breeze: “It’s okay, sis, I’ve got you.”

 

Cheryl gave a sigh and turned her eyes skyward, feeling the chill burn as teardrops threatened to fall down ivory cheeks. She’d spent so many tears, it was a relief to know she’d never cry again. She’d be at peace. Finally. She’d be home again. Born again, with Jason. The rumbling of ice creaking beneath her feet snapped her to attention. There was a flicker of concern, regret, even fear that panged through her like the hunger they both had once had to survive. Her family were natural-born survivors, unafraid to use others as stepping stones to achieve their desired outcome, and they were ruthless in getting what they wanted. Now, Cheryl thought, it was more rewarding to find sweet relief in letting go, in breathing her last where Jason would have been buried if they hadn’t pulled his body out.

 

She wondered if Sheriff Keller would find her body, too.

 

Would Riverdale mourn her as they mourned her brother?

 

The ice creaked again, louder this time, and Cheryl felt it bow beneath her feet. The water bellowed below, a deep, tremulous roar and then there was pitch blackness enveloping her and pulling her body all the way to the bottom of Sweetwater River.  

 

Forgiveness.

 

Home.

 

Peace.

 

Silence.