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Just The Way Things Are

Chapter Text

Betty was sitting in her world history class when the teacher announced a project that they would need a partner for. The room erupted in excited chatter, everyone looking around to find their friends before their enthusiasm was quickly doused by the teacher following up her statement by saying she had assigned them each a partner, so they wouldn't get to chose their own. Everyone quickly deflated as she started listing pairs of names.

"Veronica Lodge and Cheryl Blossom." Betty heard and she grimaced as she gave Veronica a sympathetic look. The teacher would be lucky if they didn't kill each other before they completed the project.

"Archie Andrews and Reggie Mantle." The project was likely to not get finished at all, or be hastily thrown together at the last minute. She loved Archie, he was her best friend, but he wasn't the best student and neither was Reggie. She perked up when she heard her own name after a few more pairs were rattled off.

"Betty Cooper and Jughead Jones." Betty glanced at the boy in the back corner of the room. They had been friends when they were kids, but had grown apart sometime in middle school. She knew he was smart, but she also knew that he tended to miss school on a regular basis and she wasn't looking froward to completing most of the project on her own, but she stood and moved to sit next to him after the teacher had finished. He glanced at her with a cautious look on his face like he expected her to insult him at any moment, but instead she gave him a friendly smile before looking back to the front of the room as the teacher explained the project.

It seemed simple enough. Pick your favorite era of history, in any part of the world and write an essay with an accompanying power point on the issues in that era. Betty made a note of the instructions in her notebook so that she wouldn't accidently forget to do a part of it. The teacher finished explaining the project before she allowed them to begin talking amongst themselves and she turned her attention back to Jughead. He was twirling his pencil between his fingers and staring at the desk in front of him.

Betty took a moment to observe him while he wasn't paying attention. He had dark circles under his eyes, like he hadn't had a good nights sleep in a while, and he held tension in his brow. He seemed on edge, anxious almost and she found herself wanting to ask if he was okay, but she knew he'd probably just glare at her before snapping something snarky. She cleared her throat, unintentionally gaining his attention as he turned to look at her with a raised eyebrow. She sighed and bit her lip.

"So, what's your favorite era of history?" She asked. He shrugged and snorted.

"They all sucked for one group of people or another. It's human nature to cause conflict." He said and she sighed again.

"Right, but that doesn't really help us decide what to write about for the project." She said. He scoffed as he looked at her.

"Worried I'm going to ruin your perfect 4.0 princess?" He snarked and she rolled her eyes before flipping her book open.

"Fine. I'll decide, and you can help when you decide to stop being an asshole." She said. She saw his eyebrows raise as an expression of surprise covered his face.

"Betty Cooper, what would your mother say if she heard you talking like that." He said and Betty resisted the urge to hit him. They'd been working together for less than ten minutes and she was already annoyed. Maybe it would be her and Jughead who would kill each other before the project was over instead of Cheryl and Veronica. Their teacher had literally put together the worst pairs in history, and Betty was sure she would regret it by the end of this.

"I'm not that stupid little girl you used to know Jughead." She snapped as she skimmed the book with her eyes.

"Good. She was boring." He said and Betty gritted her teeth and refused to respond as she searched for a topic. She heard Jughead sigh before his voice came again, more serious this time. "We could do the sixties."

"Why the sixties?" She said, glancing at him in surprise. He shrugged.

"A lot happened in the sixties. The Vietnam War, fighting for gay rights, hippies, a variety of things to write about." He said. She studied his face for a moment, wondering if he was just messing around, but he seemed serious about it and she shrugged.

"The sixties could be fun." She agreed cautiously and he smiled, a small one, but she could tell it was a real one. She returned the smile before she made her way to the front of the room to grab a laptop and bring it back to their desks, which were now pushed together.

They spent the rest of class researching things for their essay, with Betty taking notes as Jughead scrolled through and picked out the important things, as well as some interesting trivia they'd found that she figured they could fit into the project somehow. Right before the bell rang, they made plans to meet up over the weekend to work on it. Jughead told her he'd call her when he was free, and they could meet up at Pop's, which she agreed to.

Betty left the class feeling slightly better about being partnered with Jughead and Veronica met her outside the classroom and quickly grabbed her arm to drag her down the hall toward the cafeteria. They were quiet as they went through the line and got their food but the moment they sat down at their regular table, where Archie and Kevin were already sitting, Veronica turned to her.

"I swear to God, I am going to end up in jail before this project is over for strangling Cheryl with her own hair." She snapped and Betty snorted at her dramatic antics while Kevin piped up next to her.

"Inventive." He quipped.

"I thought so." Veronica said and Betty glanced between them before meeting Archie's eyes.

"How are you doing with your partner Archie?" She asked and he shrugged.

"Fine. Reg and I will get it done, eventually." He said and Veronica rolled her eyes.

"You better. Both of you need to pass the class or they won't allow you to play football anymore." She said looking at him. "You have to have good grades to participate in extracurriculars, remember?"

"We'll get it done." Archie insisted. Betty and Veronica shared a look with Kevin but they all let it go, and didn't comment on it any further as Veronica looked at her.

"What about you B?" She asked. "Jughead Jones."

"He's fine, V. We used to be friends so I'm sure we can get this project done without any major drama." She said and Veronica seemed to perk up.

"Used to be friends?" She asked. Betty shrugged.

"When we were young, Archie, Jughead and I used to spend a lot of time together. We were good friends." She explained and Veronica raised an eyebrow.

"Why aren't you friend's anymore?" She asked.

"It's not some big dramatic story, we just....grew apart I guess." She said, glancing across the cafeteria to where the boy was sitting by himself. She noticed him wrapping up his sandwich and stuffing it into his bag, presumably to take home with him. "He lives on the south side, we live on the north side. Things just changed."

"He seems....sad." Veronica said, following her gaze.

"Maybe we should invite him to sit with us." Archie said quietly and they looked at him.

"I don't know if he'd accept the invitation Arch." Kevin said next to him. "He's kind of a loner. Besides, I think he'd take it as a pity thing, and be pissed off at us."

"Well this project is going to take a few weeks, so maybe I can get him to loosen up around me at least." Betty said, picking at the muffin on her plate. "Maybe then he'll realize that it isn't pity."

"Isn't it though?" Kevin asked and Betty's eyes snapped up to his.

"No, Kev, it isn't pity. We used to be friends and I want that back. He's a good guy, he deserves for someone to be his friend." She said. Kevin had the decency to look sheepish.

"Sorry." He muttered. Veronica raised an eyebrow as she watched Jughead stand and leave the cafeteria.

"I'll say one thing, he's not bad to look at." She said. Betty gave her a look.

"Hey!" Archie exclaimed and Veronica grinned at him.

"I love you Archiekins, but that doesn't mean I've suddenly gone blind and can't appreciate a nice face." She said and Betty rolled her eyes.

"Can you please not objectify my project partner?" She said and Veronica rolled her eyes.

"Fine. I'll be nice." She said.

Not long after the bell rang, signalling the end of lunch, sending them all back to classes. Betty took meticulous notes in each one that she would later copy onto another page, this time color coding it like she did with most things. By the end of the day she was ready to go home and begin more in depth research for the project, but first she had practice in the gym. She and Veronica had become River Vixens together in their sophomore year, which Betty had been thoroughly excited about, but now leading into their senior year she was kind of over it. The only reason she stayed on the team, was because she knew her mother hated it and she wanted to do something to spite her.

So she spent an hour after school listening to Cheryl bark orders at them, before she finally released them. As she and Veronica made their way through the halls of the school and out to the parking lot, she let her mind wander to the list of things she needed to complete, compiling a list in her head. She agreed to give Veronica a ride home since Archie practice was running long, and the moment she started the car Veronica turned the station to some mindless pop music, which they promptly began singing at the top of their lungs. Betty knew that as she drove down the street, that they must seem obnoxious to the people they passed but she had decided recently that she wasn't going to let other peoples opinions affect her, so she joined her friend.

They were laughing by the time they made it to the Pembrooke, mainly because of the look they'd received from an old lady in the car next to them at the stop light. Veronica leaned over to hug her before climbing out and waving before she walked into the building. Betty waited until she saw her go through the doors before she pulled out and started driving toward her own house. She pulled the car into the garage and quickly grabbed her bag before going inside. Her mother and father were sitting at the dinner table already, with Polly sitting at the side. They shared a look before she rushed upstairs to drop off her school things before bounding back downstairs to join them. As soon as she scooted her chair in her mother turned to her.

"We can finally start dinner. Thanks so much for gracing us with your presence, Elizabeth." She said sarcastically. Betty resisted the urge to roll her eyes knowing that it would only make things worse.

"I had to drop Veronica off." She explained and her mother scoffed.

"I'm sure she could have called a car to pick her up. You know we were waiting for you." She said and Betty sighed.

:You could have started without me." She said. Her mother glared at her for a moment, everyone around the table silent and waiting on her next move, before she snatched the bowl of potatoes off the table and began serving them.

"Next time we will." She snapped.

Betty endured an awkward dinner and small talk with her family until she was able to escape to her room and begin her research. She delved deep and took notes as she went for an hour, before she closed the laptop and redid the rest of her notes before placing them in her binder neatly. By the time she was done she was yawning so she put all of her things away before changing into her PJ's and brushing her teeth. She flipped off all the lights and climbed into her bed early. She was asleep before ten minutes had gone by, strange fuzzy images of the sixties floating through her dreams.