Chapter 1: Lodge House
Originally posted: November 2018
"I'm being thrown out?"
Betty Cooper tried hard to keep her expression passive. Though her lip was trembling, her eyes stinging with tears. Normally she would be able to steel herself and keep stoic. But for some reason, today was the day her life crumbled. Normally, her life always seemed to go to plan. Perfect. Just like her; the girl next door with willowy blonde hair and cornflour coloured eyes. Elizabeth Cooper had spent most of her life competing to get into her desired college.
Now she was here, Betty was past the hard part. But college life, it seemed, wasn't as easy as she had initially thought. So then began her terrible, terrible, very bad day. Which started with her waking up to a prickling pain in the back of her head which progressed into a stabbing slash in her skull. So of course she had ignored her seven alarms and gone back to sleep before waking up at quarter past nine.
Betty had never been late in her life. She had always been punctual, even if she felt like throwing up her lungs. But that morning, the pain had been too intense. After forcing herself awake and stumbling to class, hair unbrushed, clothes inside out, Betty realised she looked a complete mess. Strands of her hair were still sticking to her cheeks. In a girl's compact she'd caught a flash of her reflection; a pale girl who looked seconds away from death. Well fuck. Perfect girl Betty wasn't as perfect after all. Then it seemed like a the world was crashing down on her. She ended up missing an assessment in English. At lunch she'd dropped mystery meat all over herself, becoming the clown of the cafeteria. The butt of Cheryl Blossom's cruel jokes.
Keeping optimistic, Betty had prayed for a better afternoon. Except no. Her mind had blanked during Journalism, and after being asked to explain something so simple- even a five year old could perfect it- Betty had ended up choking out a string of gibberish that amused the class to no end. She was normally at the top of her game in Journalism. But not today. Today, for some reason, was cursed. The world was out to get Betty Cooper.
Her bad luck continued. After class she had traipsed up fifteen floors to her dorm room, ready to have a screaming fit into her pillow and sleep for three days. But a slip of red paper was waiting for her, taped to the number plate on her door. Red automatically meant bad. But her mind was already fleeting elsewhere; a party invite? The journalism club were having a party on Friday night. Maybe Kevin had gone against her wishes and stuck the invite on her door to piss her off. But the more Betty frowned at it, she couldn't see Keller's fancy calligraphy, or the bright colours usually on his snazzy invites.
It wasn't an invitation to a party. Her mind spun. Bile burning in the back of her throat. Fuck. It was an eviction notice.
At first Betty thought she was hallucinating. After all, she could barely keep her eyes open. It was possible that her mind was playing tricks on her, fabricating the worst scenario feasible. After the nightmare day she'd had, it would be the cherry on the cake.
But after blinking several times she had reached out and tugged the slip of paper from the lame strip of tape it hung from. It was real. The paper slipped through her fingers when she nearly dropped it. Betty stared down at the message. It was easy to hallucinate something hanging from her door. But not the bolded and heavily underlined message jumping out at her. Betty re-read the message five times, but it wasn't registering in her foggy mind, still reeling from making a fool out of herself all day. The words were firm and to-the-point. No sugar coating: "URGENT." Betty flinched at the string of exclamation marks. Did they really need that many? Her eyes went funny, blurring around the edges when her gaze flickered to the words printed underneath.
"IMMEDIATE EVICTION NOTICE FOR ROOM 17."
Below that, in the smallest font possible; "Please visit the downstairs office to arrange alternative housing. If you want to appeal your notice, please ring the admin office, open Mondays/Fridays - 9:00 -5:00 or ring: 202-555-0131 for more information.
So that's where she had landed. Standing awkwardly in the admin office, trying not to break apart. Sure, it wasn't particularly smart of her to barge in without knocking, spitting out, "You kicked me out?" but at that moment, it had seemed right. The words had came out like word vomit, and almost felt like a relief; a day worth of pent up anger and frustration finally seeping out of her. The admin office was cosy. Indigo walls dotted with ancient paintings and bookshelves overflowing with any book she could think of. Miss Berkhall, a middle aged woman with greying hair and a liking for knitted cardigans peered at her through thick framed glasses. She had had been sitting with a dog eared book in her lap when Betty had pushed through the door. The receptionist's gaze flickered from the curled pages of her book, to Betty. Before shutting the book a little more violently than needed and setting it back on her desk.
Clearly Betty had disrupted reading time.
"Excuse me, young lady," she straightened up with a pointed glare. The woman had a strong southern accent Betty couldn't ignore. "Can I help you?"
Nodding, Betty could only take a few shaky steps forwards. God, she was tired. It felt the very floor she was standing on was candyfloss. She took a deep breath.
"I- uh, I received an eviction notice, and I'm not sure why?" she yanked irritably at her blonde ponytail, strands of golden hair falling in her wide-set eyes. The eviction slip was still in her shaking hands as she held it up. "I think there's been a mistake."
Betty's voice was shaking, but she didn't care. If anything it was a good thing. The woman was still frowning at her, waiting for- she wasn't sure. "Oh no, there's no mistake Miss Cooper," the woman cleared her throat and smiled at her widely. But Betty knew the smile lied. Miss Berkhall glanced at the ancient computer on her desktop looking almost proud to call her out. "You've been accused of stealing from the girls in your dorm."
"What?" Betty felt like laughing. But it would be the absolutely worst time. Miss Berkhall nodded with a patronising smile, her icy blue eyes never leaving the computer screen. "We had a complaint this morning from a Miss Cheryl Blossom," the woman finally looked at her, curling her lip. "She accused you of stealing her belongings."
Spluttering, Betty tried to defend herself. But at the back of her mind she knew there was no point. Cheryl Blossom was the daughter of the Owner of the University. She had the misfortune of sharing a dorm with the girl. Betty had kept her head down, avoiding the red-head who strutted around like she owned the place. Well, she kind of did. But for reasons unknown to Betty, Cheryl despised her. Always pushing past her on the hallways, dumping her mail in the trash. The Crimson Horror (Betty's nickname for her) and even gone as far as hiding the majority of Betty's laundry and throwing it out of the window.
So it was no real surprise to Betty that Cheryl was the culprit for the notice. She half expected the girl to stride in with her usual puckered scarlet lips, that vindictive gleam in her eye. Betty clenched her fists. "I didn't steal anything." she whispered.
Miss Berkhall nodded, but her decision was already on her pursed lips.
"Right. Well Miss Blossom has threatened to bring in her father, so unfortunately until the matter is dealt with, you'll no longer be able to use your room due to the accusations put forward."
"But..." Betty struggled to coerce words. "How-" she swallowed, licking her lips. If her mother found out she'd been kicked out of the dorm, Alice Cooper would be dragging her back home by the ear before she could even explain the situation.
The thought of ringing her mother and asking to come and collect her felt like admitting defeat. Alice Cooper had never wanted her to go to Blossom University. It was a long way from home. But it was Betty's dream college. She had been fantasising about attending since she was thirteen.
Miss Berkhall must have seen the turmoil on her face, because she sighed and pushed what looked like an overflowing folder over to her. "Have a look in 'ere, sweetheart."
Betty took it, managing a nod. "I'll bring it back." she whispered, her eyes already scanning the front cover of the folder. The overflowing pages were curled and browning with age. The receptionist shook her head. "No need." she gestured to the pile of them on her desk. "We've got plenty." when Betty hovered for a moment, clutching the folder to her chest, she tutted. "Is that all you need or is there anything else?"
Shaking her head, Betty forced a smile and mouthed 'thank you' before backing out of the office, and then out of the girl's dorm, into the crisp October air. The sky was darkening, orangeade streaks blurred across the horizon. The quad was empty apart from straying kids making their way back from classes. Betty slumped down on a bench and opened up the folder on her lap. All around her trees were turning golden, shedding leaves across the walk. Any other day she'd snap a picture, but her phone was on 20% and she was temporarily homeless. Betty wondered if it would reach the point of calling her mother. Or was she going to be stubborn and sleep on a campus bench? It was mid October so chances of her freezing to death were high, considering Toledo's erratic weather.
Flipping through the folder, most of the adverts went back years. Kids were asking for anything from bottles of Coke to laptop chargers. Finally she reached room lettings and scanned the page that were literal clippings of notices from the campus newspaper. Her gaze glided over the ones that went way beyond her price range. Betty was looking for one, maybe two or three nights. Most of them were asking for three months rent upfront.
Finally, after what felt like hours of searching, one advert in particular caught her eye. It looked recent. Printed a few days ago.
WANTED: MALE/FEMALE ROOMMATE TO ROOM WITH THREE OTHERS - $500 PER MONTH.
The description: We are three lovely HUMANS currently renting out Lodge house, just off campus. We're walking distance from college, have WIFI and air conditioning, TV and games console. Four rooms. All fancy with double beds and an en suite.
MUST: be able to deal with shitty guitar covers, arguing over cereal, long nights of Mario Kart and at least be able to cook pasta. Because we can't.
For information about the room, call us on: 202-555-0166 (before 6pm. Afterwords we're like, too lazy to answer the phone)
It was worth a shot. These kids sounded pretty insane, but it was just for a few nights so she could sort her head out and avoid going to her mother. Glancing up, she realised it was dark. The sky was an inky black, a half crescent moon sitting in the middle, casting an eerie glow. The only sound was her chattering teeth as a biting breeze played with her hair. Blossom University's quad was now completely empty, apart from her, sitting alone in the dark. Betty wanted to cry. Her eyes were stinging, but just in case anyone happened to be observing her pathetic breakdown, she stayed stoic.
One look at the clock on her phone sent Betty’s heart racing,
Shit. She was running out of time. Shoving the folder off of her lap, Betty pulled her phone out, dialling the number. Her hands were shaking, slipping on the screen as she tapped each digit, stabbing CALL.
Why was she doing this? Her mind wondered. Was she really too stubborn to ring her mother? Going home seemed appealing right now. Especially when she was freezing to death. Her room in her mother’s house was so comfy with its pastel walls and thick blankets on her bed. But she had moved out. Going back home felt wrong. She didn’t belong there anymore.
Betty pressed her phone to her ear and held her breath while her heart felt like it was about to explode, aggressively slamming into her chest.
The dialling tone sounded, before a click. "Hey!" a male voice exploded from the speaker, making her wince. "You've reached the voicemail of Lodge House! We're not available to take your call right now, because it's past six and we don't answer the phone."
"Because Jughead plugs it out." another male said, chuckling. There was what sounded like some kind of scuffle, before the main voice was back.
"Anyyyywayyyy, if you're calling about the room, feel free to pay us a visit! We're number twenty three, Greystone Street. It's just straight down the road from the college. We're the one with the bright red fence." a pause. "Okay, how do I end it?"
"You're an idiot." a girl's voice trilled. More laughter, before the answer phone clicked. "Please leave your message after the tone." the automatic response drawled.
Betty opened her mouth to speak, but her tongue felt bloated.
"I'm uh- I'm calling about the..um...the room?" she took a deep breath. "my- my name is Betty Cooper and I'm looking for a temporary room for the next, uh week? I'm not sure yet, I-"
There was another click that startled her, before the robotic response: "Message sent."
She didn't even get to finish speaking. Betty shoved her phone in her pocket and let out a sigh.
So it was either sleeping on a bench, surrendering to her over-protective mother, or going to some random stranger's house and paying for a few nights. The latter seemed like the best decision. She stood up, shoving her hands in her pockets. Her breath came out in wisps of white. If her whole body wasn't freezing up, she might have thought it was beautiful. As Betty walked past the girl's dorm, she took a moment to glance at her room on the very top floor. The window was dark. She half expected Cheryl Blossom to be standing there, grinning at her. Her silhouette basking in the darkness.
Luckily, Betty had memorised Lodge House's address. It wasn't a long walk away. The streets were strewn with autumn leaves, and Betty kicked through them as she walked. The same pain that had racked her head this morning came back with a vengeance. She had found herself daydreaming, her gaze on the mounds of leaves she was kicking through, when her phone vibrated. She pulled it out quickly. There was a text from her mom lit up on the notifications bar. Followed by a missed call.
Mom: 6:15pm: Elizabeth, have you eaten?
Betty frowned at the message. The last thing she had eaten was the remnants of mystery meat and mash potato, half of which ended up on the floor. Apart from that, she hadn't eaten. But telling her mother the truth would be like a death sentence. Betty let out a soft breath, tapped on the message and quickly texted back 'Yep!" before shoving her phone back in her pocket. She couldn't be bothered to add details, but as long as her mother knew she was eating, she could continue to hide under the facade that everything was fine, when in actuality, Betty felt like her life was falling apart.
Soon enough, Betty came to be standing in front of number twenty three. The advert was right. It was fancy. The house looked old. Victorian perhaps. But it had aged well with a red brick structure, slanting roof and huge, wide windows bathed in warm golden light. A worn red fence surrounded the property, cutting the little house from the rest of the neighbourhood. There was no garden, except from a small patch of grass which looked like it had seen better days. Betty took tentative steps down the path to the front door, trying to ignore the ache in her chest and the pain curling in the pit of her stomach.
What if they turned her away? Said no? Their desirable idea of a roommate was still running through her head. Betty had never played Mario Kart and had grown up with elder siblings, so she could deal with domestic arguments. Betty ended up standing there for at least ten minutes, weighing the negatives and positives. She had found herself so deep in an imaginary conversation with the occupants, when the door finally opened, she nearly jumped out of her skin. A boy around her age stuck his head out. Through the crack in the door spilling cosy golden light, Betty caught a whiff of something burning. She fought back a cough.
The boy was tall and pale with mousy red hair sticking out from a knitted beanie, amused eyes taking her in, one eyebrow cocked.
He leaned against the door frame with his arms folded across a Van Halen shirt, eyeing her quizzically. "You've been standing on our doorstep for nearly ten minutes," his lips curled into a smirk when Betty felt her cheeks blaze scarlet. "Are you okay?"
Her eyes started to sting. They had been watching her?
Thinking about the residents watching and probably laughing at her talk to herself for ten minutes made her feel sick.
Betty could have cried.
But she wasn't going to break down in front of a complete stranger. "Yeah." choking out the word, Betty cleared her throat. "I'm here about the room?" when the redhead's eyebrows pushed together in confusion, Betty went hot all over. Was the advert a joke?
"The room?" she whispered. Suddenly her voice was quivering, on the edge of breaking again. "You, uh- you put up an advert?"
The redhead's eyes lit up. "Oh!" his lips stretched into a grin. "Oh, cool! You're here for the room!" he chuckled. "Shit, sorry. I was miles away. My classes were cancelled today so I've been playing video games all day."
Betty managed a nod. Unable to resist a sigh of relief. The boy straightened up, gesturing inside. "Why don't you come in?" he screwed his face up, covering his nose. "Don't worry about the burning smell. That's just Veronica burning our kitchen down."
"Okay?" Betty found herself actually laughing. The boy's smile was warm. "Yeah. It's a daily occurrence in the Lodge-Jones-Andrews household. You'll get used to it. He eyed her warily, his lip curling into a smile. "I don't suppose you can cook?"
Betty didn't know if he was joking. He looked around eighteen, maybe nineteen. Though the longer he stared at her, his brown eyes wide and hopeful, she realised he was being serious.
"I guess?" she shrugged.
The boy was bouncing on his heels. "You may be our saviour." he opened the door wider, so she could step inside. "Madame."
Nodding, Betty followed him through the door. The moment she stepped inside, it felt like the house itself had wrapped its arms around her in a gentle caress. The hallway looked cosy. There were piles of shoes on a worn out welcome mat. She slipped out of her converse and put them neatly next to a fancy pair of heels.
"This is the, uh- the hallway," the boy pointed to the spoiled paperwork and bits of newspaper stuck to the floor. He chuckled. "We still need to decorate down here." he frowned at the ceiling covered in cobwebs before snapping his gaze back to her.
"I'm Archie by the way." he smiled brightly before gesturing down the hall. Archie was attractive for a redhead. The boy had thick shoulders, bulging arms, and she could just about glimpse a sign of intense work-out through the boy's shirt.
"Betty Cooper." she introduced herself, frowning at a small spider scuttling its way up the wall.
"Pleasure to meet you, Betty Cooper!"
Archie led her down a long winding hall, reminding her of the hallway from The Shining, eventually leading to an ancient staircase, bits of carpet hanging off each step. Archie saw her face and grinned. "It's nicer upstairs, don't worry." he winked, and Betty nodded, following him up the stairs. Archie took two steps at a time. "So, what's your story, Betty?" he asked, as Betty stared at the pale green carpet only just clinging to the wooden floorboards. There were rusting nails sticking out of the steps, and she watched her feet, careful not to catch her foot on one. That wouldn't be a good impression.
"I was kicked out of my dorm." she replied. Lying seemed like too much work. Plus, Archie didn't seem the judgemental type.
To her surprise, Archie didn't question why. He only nodded in understanding. Betty pulled herself up the last few steps and finally, Lodge House finally looked like it was described in the advert. Instead of dusty ceilings, spoiled paintwork and a ratty carpet like downstairs, the walls were painted a light indigo colour. In place of carpet, Betty found herself standing on smooth grey wooden flooring. Archie cleared his throat with a grin. "I guess I'm your tour guide?" he took slow steps down the hall, and Betty followed, looking around in awe. It felt like they had walked into a completely different house. The hallway was lit up with fancy lights all the way down.
"This is where you'll find me most of the time." Archie pointed to a small white door. There was an A4 ratty bit of paper stuck to the front which read; "MUSIC ROOM." in black marker pen. Archie allowed her a peek. Though it was just a mostly empty room, apart from a piano, a chair and a guitar leaning against it. Archie smiled like a proud father. "Since I've been banned from playing in the lounge, I moved my stuff in here."
"Oh right," Betty nodded politely. "You play?" she gestured to the guitar, and he scratched the back of his head. "Sort of?"
After the music room, Archie turned into a real tour guide, showing her a glimpse of each room, introducing her to the two bathrooms. They were both spacious with ocean blue tiles and flooring. The bath looked more like a swimming pool. Archie saw her grin. "I wouldn't get too hopeful," he rolled his eyes. "Veronica is always in the damn thing. I've never had chance. Me and Jug just use the shower and leave her the bath."
When Archie finished explaining, he led her back out onto the hallway.
"There's a downstairs bathroom, but nobody really uses it." he said. "Which leads us to the lounge!" Betty followed the redhead into a dimly lit room with the only light coming from a flat screen TV pinned to dark blue walls.
The screen was frozen on what looked like a video game. The colours were bright and childish. It looked like a platformer with a little character mid-jump through computer generated grassy fields. The words RESUME, OPTIONS and QUIT GAME displayed in green bubble writing.
"Why are the lights off?" Archie let out a loud, exaggerated sigh, pawing the walls for the light switch. Betty blinked in the blinding allure. The lounge seemed to come to life, the walls much more stand out, a calm purple colour matching the paintwork in the hallway. There was a glass table in front of the TV and sofa, covered with comics, magazines and stained coffee mugs. "Feel free to sit down." Archie pointed to the sofa and chuckled, jerking his head towards the TV screen. "I don't suppose you know how to get past the third boss on Crash Bandicoot?"
Betty didn't move. Though sitting down did seem appealing. She opened her mouth to answer, when Archie cut her off, wandering over to cream coloured curtains framing the windows and pulling them shut. Betty couldn't help feeling right at home. Everything from the coffee mugs littering the table and the comfy looking sofa screamed perfect. She sat down, nearly planting her butt on a Macbook sitting on a cushion with its screen time out.
"Oooh, that's Jughead's. Can you put it on the table?" Archie rolled his eyes with a grin. "I keep telling him to stop leaving it everywhere."
Betty nodded. But then felt ridiculous. She was barely speaking. But Archie didn't seem to mind. He didn't lose his bright, almost infectious smile. She picked up the laptop and set it on the glass top. The laptop, she noticed, was covered in stickers ranging from dancing skeletons to glittery purple hearts and stars. She figured the hearts were someone else's doing, or Archie's roommate had a thing for all things glitter.
"I'll go and grab Veronica and Jughead," Archie said, and Betty felt herself stiffen. Archie seemed nice, but what about the others? The all-too familiar feeling of dread started to eat her up inside, and Archie seemed to notice her distaste. "Or maybe you can come with me? do you want something to drink?" he sniffed and rolled his eyes. "If you're hungry you're welcome to some of Veronica's famous cremated Mac 'N cheese."
Macaroni and cheese did sound good. Even if it had been burned. Betty idly played with her hair. "a hot cocoa would be cool." she said, a little louder. Archie beamed.
"Oooh, that's my speciality. I hope you like whipped cream." rubbing his hands together, the boy backed out of the lounge, back onto the hallway. "The kitchen is just next door." Betty jumped up, her legs suddenly wobbling. The idea of meeting Archie's roommates and the other kids she was going to be staying with made her feel nauseous. She followed the boy through the door next to the lounge, walking straight into a cloud of smoke.
The kitchen wasn't what she'd imagined. Instead of being huge, like the other rooms, it was small and box-like. There was a refrigerator, oven and dishwasher packed underneath a marble counter top cluttered with dirty mugs, dishes and pans, and a small table with three chairs tucked underneath. There was a small girl with her back to Betty with raven hair pulled into a ponytail, scraping what she guessed were the remnants of Mac 'N Cheese into the trash. "Archie, finally," she murmured, tackling cremated cheese with a fork. "Who was at the door?"
Betty struggled not to choke and splutter in the smoke. But it barely seemed to faze Archie. She wondered if this was a daily occurrence, and felt giddy. If these guys were comfortable with each other, so much they didn't have breakdowns when the others nearly burned down the kitchen, then hell, she was suddenly sure she was going to like it here.
Archie chuckled, striding over to the sink, standing on his tiptoes above three cupboards. He stretched for the top one, grabbing two clean mugs. Betty noticed he had Harry Potter socks. "Veronica Lodge," Archie said as he messed around, pouring milk and scooping hot chocolate. The boy was already making a mess, and Betty's inner perfectionist was screaming at how much cocoa powder he was spilling all over the worktop.
“I'd like you to meet Betty, our new housemate." Betty stood in the doorway, frozen. She wasn't sure what to do. So she watched Archie fail at making hot cocoa. Veronica stopped vigorously attacking melted cheese stuck to a pan.
"What?" the girl spun around, and Betty finally saw her face. She was pretty. Very pretty. Holy shit, she was gorgeous. Her dark hair framed a heart shaped face, mocha skin shining in the fluorescent kitchen lighting. She wore a tight black dress and tights. The girl swiped at bits of cheese stuck to her cheeks, her lips curling into a scowl. "Archie, why would you bring her in here when I look like this?"
Archie looked pleased with himself. Betty could tell he was laughing, his head bobbing up and down as he stirred the cocoa. The clink, clink clink sounds made Betty feel warm inside. She was used to her mother making her hot cocoa. The aroma tingled in her nose, and her eyes started stinging again. Sniffing, she wiped at them quickly.
Veronica grabbed a towel and scrubbed at her face before smiling kindly at Betty. "Hi, it's nice to meet you!" the girl's cheeks had gone crimson. "Sorry for the mess, I uh-" she gestured to what looked like a Kitchen Nightmare disaster with pained eyes.
"She can't cook to save her life." Archie said, laughing loudly when Veronica grabbed another towel and whacked him with it.
"Chill, Ronnie!" he held up two steaming mugs of cocoa. "Unlike you, I'm making Betty feel at home."
The girl scoffed. "Per-lease," she rolled her eyes again, socking him with the towel. Archie side-stepped away from the girl, handing Betty a mug. The boy had added nearly half a can of whipped cream, but it smelt amazing. She took it with a thankful smile.
Archie took a sip of his own. "Where's Jughead?"
Veronica shrugged. "Beats me." she murmured. "Wasn't he playing on the PS4 with you earlier?"
The redhead nodded. "Yeah, but he's not in the lounge. His laptop is though."
Veronica's lip curled. "He's probably hiding," she giggled, her gaze flitting to Betty. She cocked her head thoughtfully. "You look tired." her brown eyes were suddenly wide with concern. "Do you want Archie to show you to your room? You can go and get some rest if you want." she smiled warmly. "The house is usually quiet at this time, so you should have no problem getting to sleep."
Betty found herself nodding gratefully. Archie set his drink down, wiping at a build up of cream on his upper lip. "Cool, I'll show you."
After bidding goodbye to Veronica, Archie led her to the final room at the end of the hallway. He opened the door for her, and she slipped inside. The room was bigger than her dorm room. With light blue walls and matching carpet. There was a double bed, dresser and table for study, as well as an en suite. She walked over to the window, which showed off the beauty of the New York skyline lit up in the distance. Archie stood in the doorway.
"You like?" he whistled appreciatively, and she turned to grin at him. "It's perfect!" Betty couldn't stop smiling. Archie beamed. "Sweet. I'll leave you to rest, alright? we can go over all the boring stuff, like payments in the morning." he started to back out. "I'm sure you'll meet Jug at breakfast," he said. "He's always first one up." the boy grimaced, scratching his head. "eating my fucking cereal."
With a final "Night." Archie shut the door, leaving Betty alone, and the first thing she did was kick off her shoes, and collapse onto the double bed. The bedding was warm, the pillows smelling of fresh lavender. Betty buried her head in them. Maybe moving in permanently would be a good idea. The house was beautiful, and her room was perfect. Archie and Veronica had done everything in their power to make her feel at home. Betty thought about the girls dorm back on campus. She could tolerate all the girl's in there, apart from Cheryl. None of them paid much attention to her, and she had spent most of her time in her room.
At Lodge House, the kids seemed so much more livelier and kinder.
Curling into herself, Betty slowly begin to drift. She was so comfortable. So warm. Her stomach hurt at the thought of meeting the final housemate, but it's not like she could avoid him. She was part-way through worrying about bumping into him and not knowing what to say, when her mind went blank, and she allowed herself to drift into a peaceful slumber.
The sky was still dark when Betty woke up. For a moment she was confused, staring at an unfamiliar ceiling, before everything came back to her in flashes, like a rewinding VCR. Being kicked out of the dorm room, Lodge House, and Veronica and Archie. After gathering herself, Betty jumped out of bed, pawing for her phone in her jeans. It was 2am. There were new messages, mostly from her mom. But when she went to click on them, the screen went black. Dead. She'd left her charger back at the dorm, so that meant awkwardly asking her new roommates if they had one. Betty had glimpsed an iPhone on the marble counter-top earlier in the kitchen, so she was hopeful. When she straightened up, yawning, her stomach rumbled. Her throat was dry, in desperate need of a cool glass of water.
Betty half remembered the way to the kitchen. Thank god for an almost-photographic memory. She was still in her clothes from yesterday; a sweater and leggings, her hair a tangled mess in her face. If she was to finally meet the third mystery housemate, she would die of embarrassment. Her plan was to dash to the kitchen, grab a drink and a bite to eat, and then go on the hunt for a charger. Betty left her door open, walking into an abyss of darkness. The house was silent. She took careful footsteps, wincing every time the floorboards underneath her creaked. Eventually her eyes adjusted to the dark, so she could clearly see each door. Earlier Archie had said his and Veronica's rooms were opposite the music room, and Betty's was next door to the third housemate- Jughead.
As Betty neared the kitchen, she heard voices and froze. They were still up? She could faintly hear Archie, and another guy laughing. Her stomach started dancing with nerves again, but Betty forced herself to keep walking. Even when the voices grew louder. She wondered if they were playing a game. Back at the girls dorm she had regularly walked in on heated games of Cards Against Humanity. Her chest clenched. If they were playing something, why hadn't they invited her? granted, she had been exhausted. Maybe they had knocked on her door and not gotten an answer.
Betty felt her breathing get more shallow as she took tentative steps towards the door. The kitchen was right at the end of the hallway. She wished she didn't know that. She half wondered if she could sneak into the lounge, grab a charger and make a run for it back to her room. Surely the bathroom in her room had drinking water. But the more Betty tried to convince herself to head back, the faster her steps were. Until she was standing in front of the kitchen, her heart hammering. Their voices were clear now. Archie, Veronica- and the third housemate sounded like they were having a great time. Betty grabbed the handle, wincing at how cold it was.
She psyched herself up. Just go in, politely introduce yourself to the boy you don't know, grab a glass of water- and make a break for it. Taking a deep breath, Betty nodded to herself and pushed the door open. The voices faded out, and Betty blindly took a step inside. At first she didn't see anything out of the ordinary. The kitchen looked different at night- like she had stepped into another world. She was right. They were playing a game. There were three sets of cards spread out on the counter top, and three glasses filled to the brim with what looked like Coke.
But her house mates weren't sitting at the small communal table. Betty lost her breath. Archie and Veronica were on their knees on the floor, their faces splattered scarlet. The two of them were gaping at her in horror, but their faces were like from a nightmare. Archie's eyes were red, his lips pulled back in a frightening snarl with glistening white teeth which looked ready to tear her apart. "Shit!" the boy growled, jumping up and covering his mouth. Betty was petrified to the spot. There was a body of a girl lying on the floor, red hair spilling around her like a crimson halo. Her skin was pale, a white dress clinging to her frame.
The girl’s eyes were still open, staring dazedly at the ceiling. It took a few seconds for Betty's brain to register who it was.
The third housemate was still bent over the girl. At first Betty wondered if he was checking to see if she was alive. But when the boy lifted his head, him too letting out a snarl of frustration, all hope flew out of the window. The boy may have been beautiful, if his lips weren't smeared scarlet, fangs out on show. He had tousled black hair sticking to a perspired forehead. "Betty!" Veronica looked flustered, her hand still clamped over her mouth. "Oh god, it's not- it's really not what it looks like."
Betty couldn't breathe. Her chest felt like it was on fire. It looked like her new roommates were draining the life out of Cheryl Blossom. She was dreaming, she had to be. This couldn't be real. Blinking once, twice, and a third time lucky- the floor didn't fall from her feet, and she didn't wake up gasping for breath. She stayed glued to the spot, her gaze stuck to the the trickle of scarlet dripping down Archie's lips. He licked them quickly, rubbing his eyes, as if he too was disgusted at what he and the others were doing. The boy stumbled away from Cheryl, backing into the table with Veronica.
"We were just-" his eyes were flickering, going from brown to red- settling on brown. But his fangs were still very real, protruding from his mouth like an animal. The points were stained scarlet. The boy wiped his mouth, looking guilty. "Would you believe us if we said all of this was ketchup?”
"Archie, don't be an idiot. Of course it’s not ketchup.”
Betty winced when the third housemate laughed, lifting his head up. The sound of his teeth retracting from the girl's neck caused bile to burn at the back of her throat. Betty swallowed. There was so much blood. But somehow, Cheryl was still alive. Her chest rose and fell, her blue eyes blinking every so often. But her lips stayed parted, as if the girl was about to scream. But she couldn't.
"So this is Betty, huh?" Betty felt her blood run cold when the dark haired boy turned to her, his eyes still blazing, fangs out. To her surprise, he smiled and held out his hand, which looked like he'd dipped it in a bucket of paint. Betty stared as blood pooled from his palms, dripping on the floor.
"Nice to meet you Betty!" The boy grinned. "The name's Jughead Jones," he cleared his throat, wiping his mouth. Archie and Veronica smiled at her too, as if they were embarrassed. "Sorry about the mess."
Chapter 2: Bound
If Jughead Jones could change one thing about the night he died, he would change the fact that he had cried over a fucking movie.
He'd told himself he wouldn't cry. He promised himself he wouldn’t; sworn to every God he knew, real or fictional. But no matter how hard he tried to suppress the sobs aching in his chest and the times he wiped his raw eyes, there was no way he could hide that he was in fact crying his eyes out. Jughead wanted to hit himself. But all he could do was stare down at the floor, tracing his eyes at the colourful patterns on the carpet of the movie theatre reception until his feet landed on solid concrete. Looking up, he realised they had made it outside. Rain lashed down from the sky, and Jughead almost felt relieved. The weather matched his mood. It was easier to hide in the rain.
Tears were still stinging in his eyes, trickling down his cheeks. But there was something about the cool air bathing his face that made him feel a little better. Just a little bit.
"Jug." Archie's voice felt a million miles away. Jughead managed a small nod. He'd yanked his beanie over his eyes to hide the fact that he was currently breaking apart. Jughead's beanie was part of him. He hadn't bothered brushing his hair, so it fell in awkward straggly locks.
"Hey, Jug," Archie's voice turned teasing. The redhead was hand in hand with Veronica, as she dragged the three of them through the shower. Admittedly, it felt good to be soaked. All he wanted to do was tip his head back and let himself cry, truly break down. So the rain could disguise the stupid tears free-falling down his olive cheeks. Ignoring Archie's irritating prods to the arm, Jughead continued to stare hard at the sidewalk, watching his converse crunch through mounds of leaves. If he didn't blink, he wouldn't cry. And if he didn't open his mouth, his voice wouldn't crack.
He wouldn't cry. Fuck, he would not fucking cry. Except the longer he told himself, tried to convince himself he wasn't crying, Jughead most definitely felt hot tears slipping down his cheeks again. Crying sucked. He wish there was a way to get rid of it, once and for all. He hated having emotions. Especially emotions over fictional characters.
The one thing that bugged him about being a Lodge House resident was that privacy was a foreign concept. Apparently Archie Andrews and Veronica Lodge hadn't heard of the term, because they didn't leave him to wallow in silent misery. The two of them nudged him playfully, and when that hadn't worked, they started calling his name at the tops of their voices, loud and sing-song. It was Friday night, a little before midnight, and the three of them had just emerged from the premiere of the third Avengers movie. Since Jughead was a huge fan of the comics and the movies, he had been waiting for the film since the announcement. Now that he had seen it, there was a hollow feeling in his gut. He still wasn't sure if he had liked it or not. Well yeah, he fucking loved it. Right up to the ending. Which was, of course, the reason for his tear stained cheeks and raw eyes. If he could just keep his head down all the way back to the house, and dash to his room the second they stepped over the threshold, he might just be able to escape looking like an idiot.
"Jug, are you crying?"
The words made him freeze. Opening his mouth caused his eyes to start stinging again, and he managed to shake his head. "No," he said. But his voice splintered. Turning to Archie was the hardest thing he had ever done. It was hard for him to show his emotions. Even to his closest friends. Archie peered at him through his ginger fringe plastered to his forehead. His brown eyes wide with concern, his lip curled.
"Dude," Archie chuckled, nudging him. "I didn't think it would hit you that hard."
"It was a dumb ending," he whispered, and Archie laughed, throwing his arm around him. Which made his chest ache even more. “Archie,” he mumbled, trying to push the boy away. But Archie stayed, refusing to let go. Jughead eventually gave up with an irritated sigh.
“Come on Jug,” the boy murmured. “Let it all out.” He paused. “Though if you want tissues, I only have, like damp bus tickets and class notes.”
“You’re an idiot,” Jughead said softly. But he leaned into the boy with a defeated groan. “Everything about it Archie,” he hiccuped. “When they all just disappeared? I mean, the ending?”
Archie chuckled. "Just the ending? Dude, I had no clue what was happening throughout the whole film."
“Because you were eating your weight in popcorn.” Jughead rolled his eyes at the boy, who grinned back.
“Hey, I’ll have you know I have a favourite character.”
“Which is?” Jughead challenged and cocked his brow, unable to stop smiling. Dammit Archie.
The redhead ran a hand through his damp curls. “What was the plant thing called again?”
“Yeah, him!” Archie sighed. “Why’d the little guy have to die, man?”
"I liked the ending," Veronica spoke up. Until then she been huddled with them, complaining of the cold. But then she was skipping ahead, her heels clacking on the concrete.
“But, like, is that it?" she let out a loud, exaggerated sigh. "Why did they have to kill off Tom Holland?"
Jughead spluttered out a laugh. Which must have been the raven haired girl's plan all along, because she elbowed him playfully, turning to him, her lips stretched into a grin. Veronica Lodge had been his first proper friend. In college at least. After realising his dorm mates were all frat boys, Jughead had looked for shared accommodation, and stumbled across Veronica's ad in the college newspaper.
His first impressions of her had been that she was a spoiled rich girl looking for friends to stay with her in this huge Victorian house. He had been pleasantly surprised through. Sure, she was still a rich girl. But Veronica Lodge seemed to glow, practically emitting positivity. She was the type who he strayed away from. But Veronica Lodge was like a hurricane. Before he could shut her out, before he could try and avoid his new house mate, she had been in his face with her sweet smile, bright blue eyes, and sometimes overbearing personality. It turned out the two of them shared a liking for the same film director, and ended up having movie nights watching classics. They also had things in common. They both couldn't cook. On Jughead's first night she had claimed she loved cooking. Long story short, Jughead ended up spending the rest of the night fanning the kitchen out and scraping cremated pizza from the oven.
It was a weird friendship. They bonded over strange Japanese directors and classical books, and had heated debates over which book/film/artist was better. In the end, Veronica Lodge, the human version of a migraine, became Jughead's sort-of-a-sister.
Then Archie had arrived. From first glance, he had looked like the boys that Jughead had been running away from. But from the very second the redhead had dropped his suitcase down the stairs, before nearly tumbling down himself, he knew they were going to be friends, and he was right. Archie Andrews was a clumsy, lovable idiot. Maybe in high school they would have been polar opposites. The jock and the loner. But there was something about Archie. Perhaps it was the playful gleam in his eye, his ridiculous sense of humour, or his shared inability to cook. The three of them just… clicked. Somehow.
Jughead liked to think of Veronica and Archie as his new family. He had never allowed himself to get attached to anyone, in fear of being hurt. But Veronica and Archie managed to tear down his walls, and fully storm into his heart.
It was all love though, in the end. Jughead hated that he cared so much about them. He hated that he had even tried to hide the fact that he was crying from them. But most of all, he hated that Veronica had spent two hours calling Peter Parker "Tom Holland".
He had thrown popcorn at her, all in good spirits. But if he had to, he was most definitely staging an intervention. Veronica and Archie were going to watch all the Marvel movies. Maybe during Christmas break or Thanksgiving.
Jughead let out a breath, which thankfully wasn't a sob. The three of them huddled together under Veronica's umbrella as rain pulverised the pavement.
“They probably killed off Peter Parker because he isn’t an original Avenger,” Jughead finally said. His voice was a little stronger, thank God.
“Who’re the original Avengers?” Archie asked, genuinely curious.
“Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow,” he answered as they turned around a corner.
“Which one’s which?”
“Are you—” Jughead took a deep breath to compose himself. He shot Archie a small smile, and he obliviously smiled back. “You know what? Let’s talk about something else.”
“I still don’t get why they have to kill of so many people,” Veronica grumbled to herself. Jughead decided to ignore that statement. “Hey, is there, like, a shortcut we can take to get home earlier? My heels are not going to survive in the rain.”
Cold water seeped into Jughead’s socks and he shivered uncomfortably. He could feel the damp fabric of his socks under him and he wanted to fling himself off a cliff. “We can grab a taxi,” he suggested.
“We didn’t bring enough money.” Archie murmured. "Cab fair is expensive."
“Sometimes when I go to the cafe I pass through this one alleyway,” the redhead suggested. “It’s like, a block away from our house. We could go through there.”
Veronica stayed quiet as she thought about the option. Jughead, on the other hand, looked at Archie like he was crazy. "Arch, did Infinity War knock out your remaining brain cells? You want to walk down a creepy alleyway in the middle of the night?"
Archie scoffed. "You watch too many horror movies, Jug."
“I'm gonna have to go with Archie on this one. Sorry Jug," Veronica concluded with a sweet smile at Archie. “I think my toes will fall off if we stay in the rain for this long.”
Jughead smirked. "You always go along with Archie's suggestions. Remember pizza night?"
Veronica giggled. "It is not my fault you can't take your jalapenos." she wrapped her arms around herself, over exaggerating the cold. "Let's just get a move on."
“Let’s not?” Jughead said, incredulous. “Seriously. It’s raining and it’s dark. We could get mugged or beaten up. I’d rather not risk it.”
“You’re just being paranoid, dude,” Archie teased, lightly punching his shoulder. Jughead didn’t react at all. “I go through it all the time, and nothing happened to me. Plus it’s not really rough around these parts of the city. We’ll be fine, Jug. We’ll be careful.”
“It’s also getting really cold and I don’t want to die from hypothermia on some sidewalk near the theatre,” Veronica said dramatically. “Seriously. I can’t feel my toes or my fingers.”
“I’d rather die on a sidewalk than in some dank alleyway,” Jughead commented lowly, rolling his eyes. “Fine. Where is it?”
“Just across the street,” Archie said. He pointed at a gap between two buildings and Jughead sneered. “Let’s cross while there aren't any cars yet.”
They quickly ran across the road, splashing against puddles and grimacing when they feel the water hit their clothing. Although he protested against the idea of them cutting through a suspicious alleyway, Jughead had to agree with Veronica. His beanie was nearly soaked, and his socks are uncomfortably wet. He wanted to get home early. Just lock himself in his room and cry about the unfortunate deaths in Infinity War and curse at the purple raisin thumb while his clothes are tumbling in the washer.
They began trudging through the alleyway. It wasn’t as bad as Jughead thought it would be. He could clearly see the other end of the alley straight ahead, the light of the streetlamp glowing a dull white. Fire escapes glimmered from the rain and there were clotheslines hanging above them. Rain dripped from the rooftops and slid down on metal pipes. It was dark and wet and ugly, and a little smelly because of the dumpsters standing by the walls. It’s a damn alleyway. What do you expect?
“I need to stop watching these types of movies,” Jughead admitted in defeat.
“I told you so.” Archie shook his head and snuggled closer to Veronica. He wrapped an arm around her waist and smiled at Jughead. “You need to learn to trust me every now and then.”
Jughead swore that he heard another set of footsteps trailing behind them. Maybe Archie was right. Maybe he was just being paranoid. But he had a good reason to do so. Walking through a dark alleyway during a rainy evening with only the street lamps providing light was a perfectly good reason to be afraid and aware of your surroundings. Archie and Veronica chatted amongst themselves as they neared the other end of the alley.
“Put your hands in the air!”
An unknown voice cut through Jughead’s thoughts and the three of them turned around in shock and confusion. Two masked men pointed their pistols at the trio, and out of instinct, Archie shielded Veronica, forcing her to hide behind the two boys. Veronica rested her hands on Jughead’s shoulders, trembling from the cold as she stared at the two men before them.
“We don’t want any trouble,” Jughead said slowly, casting a side glance at Archie. The redhead met his eyes; his were wide and alarmed.
“Just give us the money and we won’t shoot,” one of the robbers said, taking a step closer. He didn’t lower the gun. It stayed pointed at Archie’s chest.
“We don’t have any money,” Archie said, standing guard.
The robber nodded his head at his watch. “The watch,” he said. “And the princess’ necklace.”
Archie immediately began tugging his watch from his wrist, however Veronica clutched her pearls, frowning. Jughead couldn’t believe what was happening around them. This was exactly what he feared. They knew that her necklace was a gift from her mother, who lived hours away, and how important it was to the girl. It held emotional value, and Jughead knew that the blue eyed girl wouldn’t let go of it easily, even if it was a life or death situation. It was an idiotic move for her.
“Archie, give them my bag,” Veronica hissed, shoving her expensive purse to his chest. The redhead nodded clumsily and tossed his watch towards the robber, who caught it with ease. Then he threw the bag to the ground, and the other robber quickly grabbed the leather handles before rummaging through its contents.
“No necklace,” the robber with the bag stated.
“I’m not giving you my necklace,” Veronica snarled, tugging on the said object.
“Just give him the fucking necklace!” Jughead hissed desperately, his cheeks twitching. One of Veronica Lodge's many flaws was her stubbornness.
“We’ll shoot,” the robber with the watch said, motioning his gun. “Give us the necklace.”
With great hesitation, the girl slowly undid the clasps of her pearls and gave them one last feel before handing them to Archie. He frowned sympathetically at Veronica before tossing the necklace towards the robbers. Jughead could hear the robber chuckle as he bent over to pick it up. He closely inspected the necklace before handing it off to the other robber, who shoved it in her former purse.
The tension was thick and heavy around them. Rain continued to pour down from the sky as the trio stared at the robbers expectantly. They did not twitch or attempted to make a run towards safety. The gun in his hand stayed pointed at them, a finger placed coolly on the trigger, waiting for its call. Jughead, Archie, and Veronica stood silently, glaring at the thieves, wet clothes and cold feet forgotten. Jughead felt like he was stuck in a nightmare. He couldn't move. No matter how hard he tried, his feet were glued to the ground. Like he was stuck in maple syrup. He wanted to cry out, senselessly attack the robber's himself. But he wasn't anything special. Sure, he knew how to throw a punch. But that was it. If he tried to defend himself and the others, he'd end up dead.
Archie was shaking. Teeth gritted, the red-haired boy cleared his throat. "You got what you wanted," he said, his voice breaking. "Let us go."
One of the robber's chuckled. "You kids sure are naive, huh?"
"What?" Jughead whispered. "No. No you-you said..." His voice was trembling now. He reached out and grabbed Archie's arm, yanking him back before the boy could do something impulsive and stupid. "You said if we gave you our money, you'd let us go!"
Both of the robbers cackled. "But you didn't give us your money did you, little boy?" he murmured, taking a step forward. Jughead took one back, dragging the others with him.
Move, he commanded his legs. Run! His own voice rung out in his head, trying to kick-start his foggy mind into gear. Jughead watched his breath swirl in the air in wisps of white, dancing, pirouetting, in the bitter cold. His eyes stung.
The realisation hit him like the icy, lashing wind on his cheeks. He let out a soft breath. The robber's never intended to let them go. They were doomed from the start.
The amount of times he had joked about wanting to die was ridiculous since that was the joke spreading throughout his generation like wildfire. But now, when he was staring into the barrel of a gun, his life in some evil bastard's hands, Jughead took back every time he'd begged for death. Because he loved his life. No matter how hard it was, how much it got him down sometimes. He had a family. For the first time in his life he had people he cared about, people he loved. And he didn't want to lose them. He didn't want to lose himself.
"Please," Archie said softly. The boy turned to Jughead with a small reassuring smile, and Jughead already knew what was going to happen. The look in Archie's eyes was determination. The selfless need to protect his friends. It had been evident since he met Archie that the boy would walk in front of a bullet for him and Veronica. But he had always thought of it metaphorically. Surely… surely Archie wouldn't…
"Archie," his voice cracked. But he couldn't spit out the rest. His lips felt swollen, his throat was dry. The words were choked at the back of his throat.
"It's cool, Jug," Archie murmured. "Stay behind me, okay? Ronnie, you too." he took another daring step towards the robber's. "I'll give you anything you want, okay? Just let the others-"
Archie's daring speech was suddenly drowned out by a startling BANG that ricocheted around Jughead's skull. Suddenly it seemed like the world has slowed down. There was a screech ringing out in his ears, deafening him. The fire round seemed to float through the fragile air, taking its time. Almost as if the bullet itself was trying to steer itself from its intended target. Jughead was glued to the spot. Before time sped up once more, and he realised with startling clarity, that the scream in his ears, slamming into his brain, twisting his stomach. It was neither Archie nor Veronica's scream.
It was his own.
And then Jughead's world exploded. Everything imploded at exactly the same time, leaving him to stare, helplessly, at flashes. Like someone was snapping pictures.
Archie sinking to his knees with a mouthful of blood, Veronica falling on top of him. Her mouth was open, and Jughead was sure- absolutely sure- she was screaming too. But he couldn't hear it. Only his own. His own cry ripping through him like the bullet that penetrated Archie's chest. Jughead felt himself hit the ground too, throwing his body over his friends. But two more shot's rattled in the air. Veronica, who had been bent over Archie, shaking him and cradling his head, trying to stifle the blood. But there was so much of it. So much blood. All at once the girl stopped crying. She went limp, like her puppet strings had been severed, slumping onto the ground. It took a disorienting second for Jughead to realise that she too had been shot. Straight through the back.
Jughead felt his lips part open into an O. The word “no” wouldn't choke out of his mouth, but it was battering his brain as he slid next to his two friends. Archie's eyes were still open, but his face was so pale. His lips were crimson. Every time he parted them, blood dribbled down his chin. Veronica—oh god, she wasn't moving. The two of them lay in a growing pool of darkness which spread around their bodies, diffusing the sodden concrete around them. The robber's were retreating, their feet splashing back down the alleyway.
But the last round of the gun. His mind spun. Had they missed? Jughead's head swam when he tried to straighten up. He bent over Veronica and Archie, who were still quivering, holding onto life. Jughead reached out to grab Archie's hand and hold it, squeeze it. Tell him everything was going to be okay. Then he would stroke Veronica's head and delicately kiss her forehead. They were going to be okay. They- they had to be. But something was wrong. When he grabbed for Archie's hand, his own was already slick with scarlet. His breath came out in short gasps. But there was no pain. Jughead pressed his palm against his chest, glimpsing the stain spreading across his shirt. No. Helpless tears slipped down his cheeks as his body seemed to give up. He flopped next to Archie, sucking in desperate gasps of oxygen. There was no pain! He wanted to scream, he wanted to cry, but the bitter taste of iron was on his tongue, slipping from his lips.
He had been shot in the chest. But there was no pain. There was only a sickly sense of fading. Choking out a breath, he managed to roll himself onto his back. The alleyway was silent, apart from his own laboured breaths riddled with sobs. Blinking hard, he stared at the sky. The stars twinkling down at him. The world seemed to be perfectly happy to go on without him, the stars in the sky, the half crescent moon peeking out from the clouds. It had stopped raining. The air felt refreshing, playing with tangles of his hair.
I don't want to die, he thought, tears slipping down his cheeks, mixing with the blood on his lips. "Help!" his voice was a hoarse squeak. "Please, somebody help!"
"Archie," he managed. "Ronnie?" The deathly silence that followed broke his heart. He started to panic as his thoughts grew slow, almost like his mind had turned into molasses. No, no, no. It wasn't his time! They weren't supposed to die like this! He-he was meant to become an amateur writer and find someone. Fuck, he'd never had a partner. Always been too scared to ask someone who made his heart flutter out for a drink.
This wasn't fair. This wasn't fucking fair! Why him? Why them?!
Jughead waited for his eyes to shut. He waited for the darkness. He waited for oblivion to swallow him up. He wanted to be a writer. Jughead hadn't even finished the stupid idea he'd had for a story. His notepad was still at home, and fuck, he'd never see it again.
Time seemed to pass slowly, and it got progressively harder to breathe. But there was still no pain. Jughead let his eyes flicker shut as his breaths get more shallow, before a sudden noise startled him. The click, clack of high heels on concrete. But it couldn't be Veronica. Because Veronica… she was… Oh god, Veronica. Veronica and Archie were—
The loud clicking noises got louder, until he sensed someone standing over him. But opening his eyes was too much effort. When he bothered opening his mouth to whimper for help, more blood seeped from his lips. Whoever was standing over him let out a soft sigh. They dropped down next to him.
"Dear god, what has humanity come to?"
It was a girl. She tutted, and Jughead shivered when he felt her hands brushing across his face.
"Oh you poor sweetie," she murmured.
Help, he wanted to say. But he was already being pulled back by a force no man would fight. Yanked into the darkness. The girl's voice was familiar, but her name was lost to him. She let out a soft sigh. "Jughead Jones, Archie Andrews and Veronica Lodge." she murmured. "Murdered by senseless thugs."
"Help them!" Jughead tried to scream in frustration. But every time he tried to speak, his lips were tainted iron.
The girl didn't ring for help, or even scream. She seemed remarkably calm. With his last strength, and possibly his last breath, he managed to crack an eyelid open. His vision was blurry, but he could just make out a girl with pale skin, red hair cascading down her back. She was smiling down at him. Her eyes looked strange. Maybe he was seeing things, since his mind had been reduced to slush, but her eyes- oh man, her eyes. They looked like they were on fire.
"Well hello there," she said softly. The girl was sitting on her knees, in a short red dress, a beaten black jacket slung over the top.
Cheryl Blossom. The daughter of the owner of the university. She cocked her head, her eyes still a crackling inferno. Jughead blinked, but the fire didn't disperse.
"You're still clinging on, aren't you?" she murmured. She went to stroke his face again, but then her eyes widened, her lips curling into a grin. Jughead could only stare back wordlessly. "Oh, I couldn't." she said softly, to herself. But then her gaze was flicking back to him, back to Veronica and Archie. She bit her lip before leaning in so close. The girl was cold. So, so cold. When she spoke, he didn't feel her breath tickle his cheeks. "Okay hobo," Cheryl murmured. "If I do this, it means you guys are mine, okay? And I mean it. You're bound to me until someone sticks a stake through one of us."
What was she talking about? Jughead only managed a spluttered cough. He was getting almost bored of waiting to die. Cheryl glared down at him. "Say it, Jones," she hissed.
Jughead only stared at her. She was fucking crazy. But he found himself jerking his head slowly in what he hoped was a nod. Anything to shut her up.
The girl's crimson lips stretched into a grin.
"Great!" she squeaked, her eyes on fire. No matter how many times he blinked it didn't disappear. "Jughead Jones, you've sworn yourself and your friends to me," she said. "You need to understand that you can't feed from anybody else. Every day, Jughead. It has to be every day, or you'll revert to an animal and tear our lovely town apart. And we can't have that now, can we?"
Cheryl grabbed his arm, and he winced. Frowning at her through flickering lashes, the girl seemed to be studying it. Fuck, what is she doing? "Alright Jones." She patted his head, before pulling his beanie off and throwing it over her shoulder. Her hands stroked through his hair. "This is going to hurt, okay?" she murmured. But the girl looked ecstatic, her grin lighting up her whole face. Jughead didn't have the energy to roll his eyes. He thought the girl was finally going to leave him alone, but instead she pulled her jacket off.
"You'll thank me for this later," she said. Suddenly her mouth seemed to be splitting apart. No, not her mouth. Her teeth. Cheryl's smile became one of an animal as vicious glistening spikes retracted from her gums.
Jughead didn't have enough time to question what the girl was doing, because she was tearing into her own arm, ripping into it, a vicious waterfall of claret spurting from the wound. Cheryl turned back to him, her teeth stained scarlet, her eyes… oh God, her eyes. They were real. They were really burning a bright orange. Jughead would have moved, would have tried to crawl away. But he couldn't move. His body had given up a while ago. He was completely powerless. "Open your mouth," she ordered. When he didn't, or rather couldn't, she sighed, before forcing it open herself. "Drink deep, Jughead.”
Jughead didn't understand what was happening, before he felt it. He felt it seeping down his throat, burning on his tongue, rivulets of the stuff running down his chin. It tasted foreign, like nothing he'd ever tasted. It was dark chocolate mixed with tangy orange and the sickly taste of his own blood. His stomach revolted automatically, but he kept drinking, and he wasn't sure why. Even when his body begged him to stop.
The logical part of his mind screamed for him to stop, momentarily snapping him out of it.
Eurgh! Jughead tried to spit it out, tried to pull away, but Cheryl groaned, grabbing the back of his head harshly. "Drink!" she ordered. "God, is it that hard?"
Drink. The girl's words echoed in his mind, and he finally complied. The bitter taste seemed to disperse, before turning sugary. It was suddenly sweetened sugar running down his throat, and he gulped greedily. Cheryl chuckled. "That's right. Every last drop."
Yes. Logic evaporated, and nothing but Cheryl's blood mattered. It stained his lips, his teeth, hitting the back of his throat, and he relished in it, begged for more. When the flow started to falter, he let out a soft moan, his teeth nipping at the skin of her arm. More. He wanted more. Fuck, he wanted more! Something deep rumbled in his throat, and he clamped his teeth around the girl's arm. Cheryl moaned softly. She was enjoying it, her lips shaped in an O. She removed her arm from his mouth, and Jughead noticed he was no longer fading. He was wide awake, staring at the girl with confused eyes.
Cheryl looked like she was steeling herself. Her cheeks were bright pink, her burning eyes still flickering. She let out a breath, quickly becoming a whine, like an animal. Her orange eyes settled on him.
Jughead nodded. But he still couldn't speak. He was still staring at the girl's arm hopefully. Even when the voice at the back of his head begged him to stop. Cheryl sighed.
"Jughead, you're gonna hate me." She wiped her own mouth. "But after this, you can drink as much as you like. I promise."
After what? The question was on his lips, and he was sure he was going to say it, but before he could, the girl was lunging forwards in a blur of scarlet. She straddled him, giggling, her tongue scathing across the skin of his neck. Before something sharp stabbed him in the throat. Then again. Harder. Jughead surprised himself with a gasp of precious air, but his arms were dead by his side. He felt the girl drinking from him, nipping the skin of his neck with her razor sharp teeth. And then he finally felt pain. But not from the gunshot wound. The pain came in waves. First, it was a stinging sensation that struck through him like an electric shock. He felt her teeth leaving him, and the girl rolled off him. The clack of her heels as she wandered over to Archie and Veronica.
"Fuck," she murmured. Her voice sounded strange in his mind. Suddenly it was wind chimes getting louder and louder, crashing into his skull. "Sorry Jughead," she called. "Looks like it's venom straight to the heart with these two."
He couldn't reply. Couldn't open his mouth. Couldn't even breathe. Because the pain had entered its second, and then third wave. Burning. He felt it surging through him, zipping through his veins. It was unstoppable, a force he couldn't suppress. There was no way to escape it. When Jughead tried to scream, tried to squirm, his body was motionless, his eyes wide and unfocused on the sky. There was something inside him, taking him over. He felt it in every staggered breath. His chest was burning, his heart was an inferno, his limbs were tingling, the oddest sensations coming over him. His throat was suddenly on fire, a thirst that became overwhelming. It was killing him. The burning, the thirst that made no sense. His tangled thoughts and brain that had imploded, his senses falling from underneath him. "How are you doing, Jughead?" Cheryl called over. Her voice was loud, far too loud. Jughead felt every syllable slipping from her lips, sensed every word.
At some point, his eyes had flickered shut, and he was plunged into a darkness that was worse than sleep. Worse than death itself. Because he was still conscious.
How much time had passed? He wasn't sure. It could have been hours, seconds, minutes. Days. Weeks. Years. Jughead was trapped, burning away in his own personal hell.
After a while of begging and begging, praying for the grim reaper to sweep down and claim him, Jughead could move again. But not by his demand. Instead he was rattling, shaking, like he was having a seizure. But he didn't fall. He stayed conscious while he burned, begging for death to take him. He was lost, pulled into a darkness that wasn't quite slumber. Time slowed down, and within those painful seconds, Jughead's body stopped shaking. The burning, the never ending inferno, began to dull. But the fire in his throat only got worse. A strange smell lingered in his nose, while every sound, every small noise hit his ears. He could hear footsteps. Chatter from a stranger. A baby's crying.
It was never going to end. In his mind he screeched for mercy, forced his phantom fist into his own chest and yanked out his heart.
It was just burning.
Until...until it wasn't.
Something snapped inside of him, and everything came to a dizzying halt.
Finally, Jughead Jones relaxed. The fear that had eaten away at him, stopped him from defending himself from two masked robbers. It seemed ridiculous, almost laughable.
Picturing the two of them now: Robber One and Robber Two. He would hunt them down, snap their necks in a matter of seconds before ripping their throats open. And then, oh man… Oh man, he'd drink until they were a pile of skin, teeth and hair. He wouldn't stop drinking. Drinking, drinking, drinking. The thought sent sparks of pleasure running up and down his spine. The idea was delicious. It spiked something inside him, chasing away the dull burning, the pain that held him in a vice. He felt his own heartbeat, a slow ba-bump, which was stuttering, coming to an abrupt halt. Jughead waited for it to start up again, an agonising strained beat. But it didn't. His body felt- dead. His chest no longer rose and fell, and the burning subsided, making way for complete numbness.
What was that smell? The thought struck him. He then became aware of the fact that his senses were back, his body- even if it felt stone cold- could move on his command.
Then his eyes shot open, and Jughead was peering into the night, like a curious child.
He was grinning, unable to stop himself. The sky was still dark, a pool of midnight scattered with stars. But something was different. When he moved, his head of curls scraping on the concrete, he saw every individual drop of rain slide down the side of the building in front of him, heard the scrape of a spiders tiny legs as it scuttled in its web. Jughead sat up and turned his head, frowning. The smell was driving him mad. What was it? It smelled divine. He was on his feet in seconds, his gaze hyper vigilant.
Turning around, Jughead was hit with the intoxicating smell once again. Fuck, it smelt amazing. His nose flared, the grin never leaving his lips.
Whatever it was, he was going to get it. His mouth watered, the blaze in his throat kick-starting his new instincts. Jughead didn't need to squint. He could see in almost perfect clarity. A few feet away, Cheryl Blossom was bent over two slumped figures.
No. Not slumped. Not dead. His lip twitched. Alive. He could smell the stink of them, and it only drove him crazier.
Jughead cocked his head. Just one drink. Just to quench the burning. He was taking long strides before he could stop himself. Veronica and Archie. He thought. They were alive and they smelled amazing. He could taste all of them; their shallow breath, blood staining every inch of them. When he got closer, Cheryl had tore her arm open once again. This time she was forcing Archie to drink. The boy was, albeit weakly, lapping up the claret stream dripping down her arm. Archie was lying on her lap, his head tipped back, brown eyes wide and unseeing, as his gulps became more desperate, more wanting.
Jughead curled his lip. What the fuck did Archie think he was doing? He had drank from Cheryl, tasted her, savoured her. It was only fair that he got to keep her to himself.
His throat was grumbling again. Taking another step forwards, Jughead snarled at the boy.
"Jughead, stop." Cheryl jumped up, blocking his way. When Cheryl's arm slipped from the redhead's mouth, Archie's lips were smeared crimson, his eyes half-lidded and unfocused when they fell on Jughead, before popping open in confusion.
Cheryl hissed at Jughead, and something pricked in his mind: threat. Cheryl was a threat. Jughead glared at her, running his tongue over two sharp points sticking from his incisors. He took another blind step, before the girl was directly in front of him. Her eyes were blazing. But he only smiled at her. "Move it," he growled.
Cheryl's eyes went skyward. "News flash, Hobo. It's not them you can smell," she gestured to Archie, still frowning at him, his lip curled. Archie Andrews was paler. His skin looking more like sculpted marble, lips a bright cherry red. "That heavenly scent you guys are going crazy over? It's me."
Archie blinked, and Jughead swore his chocolate brown eyes swirled with fire, the same shade engulfing Cheryl's. At the corner of his eye, Veronica sat up, newborn eyes glinting in the darkness. She too was noticeably paler. But apart from a lighter skin tone, she looked the same.
Cheryl noticed and sighed. "Alright bozos, listen up," she said. And they did. Jughead couldn't help it. Cheryl Blossom's voice was enchanting. The three of them crowded around her. Jughead couldn't tear his gaze from her neck. Cheryl cleared her throat, and Jughead wondered what it would be like to drink from not just her arm, but from her jugular. His head began to spin with possibilities. His tongue tingled with just the thought of tasting the girl again, swallowing her greedily until the last drop.
"I turned the three of you, and my blood is the only thing that can keep you like this," Cheryl announced.
"Like what?" Archie murmured. He was still glaring at Jughead, his jaw clenched. Jughead glared back. There was no way he was sharing Cheryl.
"Human," Cheryl replied. "As long as you feed from me every day and night, you'll stay yourselves. But if you don't?"
Her eyes darkened. She took another chunk out of her arm, and Jughead watched the girl's blood drip down smooth, pale skin. Veronica stared at the girl, her blue eyes glued to the streaks of scarlet seeping down her wrist.
Jughead's mouth watered again. One look from Archie told him to not even try it. Except the smell was pricking, an enticing stink dragging him forwards. He was on his knees in front of the girl before he could blink, trying really, really fucking hard not to go straight for the kill.
Cheryl let out a dramatic sigh. "You'll go full Nosferatu."
Chapter 3: Kevin The Vampire Slayer
Vampires. Her mind whispered, almost teasingly. A hysterical bubble of laughter climbed up her throat. Vampires weren't real. But they were standing right in front of her. Archie, Jughead and Veronica were vampires. Creatures from folklore. Novels. Films. Betty had read the Twilight series when she was younger. Sure, she thought Edward Cullen was kind of hot. But this was real life. This was happening right now.
There were vampires standing in front of her, and Betty Cooper didn't know what to do. Did she scream? Cry? Beg for mercy?
"Well this is awkward." Jughead took a step back, retracting his bloody hand. He was still smiling, despite everything. If his fangs hadn't been on show, Betty might have seen his smile as friendly. But this boy was anything but. Practically the opposite.
Betty stared at him. She was sure she was about to faint. Her head was spinning erratically, as if she was on an out of control carousel. But no matter how hard she tried- she couldn't take her eyes off of the three monsters in front of her. They loomed over Cheryl Blossom like wild animals. Veronica was wiping telltale traces of crimson from her bottom lip, while Archie began to slowly lower himself back into a crouch. He was blinking rapidly, as if to try and hide his blazing red eyes. But he wasn't doing a good job. The boy's eyes were glued to Cheryl Blossom's perfectly sculpted neck, rivulets of ruby red already running down creamy, slender skin. It looked like they'd already started feeding. Judging from the blood still running down Archie's chin.
The boy gave up trying to act human. With a low growl, his fangs flashed once again. Two tiny sharp points. When he caught her eye, Archie grinned. "It's rude to stare."
Betty swallowed. But she still didn't move. She was frozen in the doorway, her hands gripping the door. Her knuckles were very quickly turning white.
"Alright, you got us," Veronica sighed, tipping her head back. "Betty knows our dirty secret, can we feed now?" she hit the floor knees first, following in the redhead's wake. They really were like animals, ready to prey on their victim, who was Cheryl Blossom, laying in a pool of crimson. "Come on guys, she was going to find out eventually."
Archie nodded, smirking at her suggestively. "Now I wonder how she's going to take it."
Jughead chuckled when she whimpered softly. Her legs felt heavy, like they were going to give-way at any moment. But she couldn't move. Every chance she got, it felt like she was standing in thick molasses. Trapped. All she could do was watch, waiting for one of them to get bored and lunge at her. From the look on his face, she expected it to be Archie. She supposed the boy wore the 'sweet and kind roommate' face like a mask. Underneath it, the boy was a monster. Like Jughead and Veronica. It hit Betty then, like a wave of icy water, that, fuck, they were probably going to kill her. It was only a matter of time.
Jughead seemed to be enjoying every moment of this. He licked at the tips of his fingers, his tongue sweeping across the blood pooling on his palms. "Mmmm." he moaned, giggling, never taking his eyes off Betty. "Delicious."
Archie growled. "Hey, that's not fair. We're supposed to feed together." the redhead's eyes flicked to Betty for a second. "Or- I mean, Veronica and I could have a taste of Little Miss Sunshine?"
"Now now, Archie," Jughead rolled his eyes and shot the boy a look. "What did we all agree on?"
Archie sighed. The boy was inching closer to Cheryl, his striking red eyes glued to the girl's neck. "No murdering our new roommate?"
"Archie Andrews, I'm disappointed." the voice came from the floor. When Betty stared down at what she thought was the surprisingly beautiful corpse of Cheryl Blossom drained dry by her bloodthirsty monster's of house mates. Though now Betty knew why the so-called 'corpse' of the scarlet rich bitch looked so immaculate; flawless skin, blood red lips and a perfect figure. It was because Cheryl Blossom wasn't alive at all. Or dead. She nearly jumped back but managed to steel herself when the girl sat up with a sigh.
Betty should have been surprised when the girl's eyes fluttered open, revealing blood red iris' glaring back at her. But funnily enough, she wasn't. It all made a sick kind of sense in her foggy mind. Cheryl Blossom's beauty had confused Betty since she had met the girl. Everything had. The fact that she never got sick, always looked stunning, and never ate or drank in front of Betty. She strictly remembered the girl delicately picking at a piece of toast at breakfast in her old flat. But the girl never actually ate it.
And now Betty knew why. Like her roommates, Cheryl was a fucking vampire.
"Elizabeth Cooper." the girl hummed, eyeing her with a frown. "Didn't I just get rid of you?"
She couldn't reply. Betty was scared if she did, she'd scream. And she wouldn't stop screaming until her throat was raw, her heart stampeding from her chest. Luckily, the girl turned her attention to the other three bloodsuckers.
"You think with your stomach," Cheryl was glaring at Archie.
"Lets just ignore the fact that if you feed from a human, you will turn into a 21st century nosferatu-" when Archie opened his mouth to speak, the girl groaned. "What I mean by that is you'll lose your souls. You'll become full vampires and rip apart any human standing in your way." the girl sat up on her elbows, eyeing the three of them as if they were her children. "Plus! You'll be newborn, so your thirst will be ten times worse."
"Doesn't seem that bad." Archie muttered. Veronica scoffed, elbowing him.
Cheryl rolled her eyes. "Basically!" she settled the others with a bright smile. "Don't eat humans!" the girl cocked her head when Archie and Veronica stared at her, the two of them both adapting looks of immense confusion. "What?" Cheryl groaned. "Did half dying kill all of your brain cells?" Betty flinched when the girl pointed a scarlet fingernail at her. "No bitey or bad shit will happen. Is that straight forward enough for you?"
Veronica growled at her. "We get it." she muttered. But her predatory gaze strayed on Betty. "She smells so good though."
Archie hummed in agreement. "That mug I made her hot chocolate in?" he moaned softly, licking his lips. "I practically got high off the scent she left on the handle."
Jughead's lip quirked. "That's not weird at all."
Archie's eyes darkened. "Don't play the good guy, Jug. You've been dying to sneak into her room and suck her dry all night."
Jughead snarled. "At least I didn't inhale her fucking coffee mug for half an hour."
"Boys." Cheryl interjected. "As much as it would thrill me to see the two of you rip Betty Cooper limb from limb, you know what will happen if you feed from a human." the girl's gaze landed on her once again. "Are we done here, Cooper, or are you staying?" she sunk back on the floor, stretching out, her crimson hair spreading over the tiles in a bloody halo. Betty still didn't move. She was pretty sure she was paralysed. Cheryl's lip curved into a smile. "You might want to watch, sweetie. Having three fledglings feed from you is the equivalent of the best orgasm you'll ever have in your life."
Betty felt a blush spread over her cheeks and Cheryl cackled. "Aww, bless your little virginal heart," the girl giggled, turning to the redheaded fledgling whose gaze was stuck to Betty, his head cocked to the side like a confused puppy.
"Archie, sweetie, you haven't drunk enough." Cheryl reached out with scarlet fingernails and grabbed him by his collar, yanking the boy closer to her. He didn't pull back or try and get away, though Betty didn't expect him to. Archie's eyes flickered shut and he moaned softly, slipping into her, his teeth grazing her neck. The two enveloped together, him straddling her blood spattered legs. "Can we have Betty as seconds?" he murmured," his teeth splitting apart once again, tracing her throat. "God, she smells so good."
Run. Betty managed to stumble into the door frame. The boy's words were slamming into her, sending her heart into a frenzy.
Cheryl closed her eyes, whining softly. "If you ask one more time, Andrews, I'm jamming a stake in your heart-" she trailed off, her annoyed hiss softening into a moan when the redhead's teeth ripped into her. Betty slammed her hand over her mouth when blood spurted from the girl's jugular, dripping down pale skin. Veronica and Jughead watched the two, a mixture of lust and hunger burning in their eyes. "Jughead." Cheryl spoke like a demanding parent. "My dear fledgling, Betty Cooper is irrelevant. You need to feed."
The boy was still staring at her, Betty realized. His eyes were a crackling inferno, his fangs on show. But the boy didn't look like he wanted to kill her- not yet. He cocked his head, his smile widening. "I've never come across a human who smells as good as you before," he murmured. When Betty didn't, or rather couldn't say anything back, he sucked in a breath and let out a soft whine. The boy was clearly fighting every instinct in his body, forcing himself not to join his vampire pal's feast. He gestured to the floor, holding out his blood stained hand once again. "Care to join?"
"Jones." Cheryl snarled. "Leave the human alone. That's your last warning."
Jughead's lip twitched with irritation. "You're not my mother," he grumbled back, his eyes still drinking Betty in. "Who knows? She might be into it."
"Jones, I swear to god..." Cheryl's mouth opened, but no sound came out. She rocked back and forth as Archie drunk deep. The girl was in complete ecstasy, moaning softly. "Archie, fuck, save some...save...." she trailed off into another soft keen, and the redhead chuckled, going to puncture her chest. "Does that feel good, Cheryl?"
"Fuck you." the girl hissed, before sighing.
Betty felt herself take another step back. She was nearly halfway out of the kitchen. Jughead shrugged before giving her another fanged grin. "Suit yourself," he muttered, before turning and dropping to his knees beside Archie. She watched the boy shove the redhead out of the way, before going in for the kill himself. Except Archie wasn't one to back down. "Hey," the boy snarled, retracting his fangs from the girl for a moment. He sat back, his eyes half lidded. The boy's words were slurred. Betty wondered if it was possible for vampires to get drunk from blood. The redhead snarled at Jughead. But before he could attack, Cheryl let out another warning hiss. He backed down almost instantly, glaring daggers at his roommate. Betty shivered. If looks could kill...
"She said we could share, asshole."
"I always get the neck," Jughead retorted matter of factly. The boy looked up and caught Betty's eye, a grin lighting up his lips, smeared scarlet. He was showing off.
"That's not fair," Archie growled. "Cheryl, you said we could both have the neck!"
"Stop acting like children," Cheryl chastised the two boys. "There's plenty to go around."
"Snooze ya lose, Andrews," was Jughead's muffled reply as his fangs sprung, two sharp spikes. Betty watched him lean into the girl slowly, nuzzling her chest, then her neck. It was like watching the beginning of an orgy. The third roommate took his place with practised precision, baring his teeth over the girl's jugular before tearing into the girl, Cheryl letting out a yelp, quickly morphing into a low keen of pleasure.
The boy took slow sips turning to hungry progressive gulps that Betty could hear in clarity. Archie, snarling with jealous rage, dove in again, this time biting into Cheryl’s arm, drawing a squeak from the Blossom girl. Archie flashed her a crimson grin. "Sorry," he mumbled, between thirsty gulps. Veronica stood by and watched, looking uneasy.
When Betty caught her gaze, the girl sighed. "Boys." she rolled her eyes. When Betty didn't reply, the girl smiled brightly. "You seem like a nice girl Betty," she murmured. "And if I wasn't an undead creature of the night I'm sure we'd be great friends." Veronica’s eyes flashed. "But damn, Jughead was right. You smell good."
The next few seconds were a confusing whirlwind. Veronica's beautiful face breaking apart, transforming into a monster. Her eyes burned scarlet, her smile morphing into a fanged grin. Betty was well aware of the scream ripping from her throat. But she didn't hear her teasing laugh, or see Veronica's expression crumple when the girl realised she was terrified. "Betty, hey, hey listen to me!" the girl grabbed for her, but Betty shrunk back, still screaming. Her only thought was to get out. To get out NOW.
"Hey," Veronica held up her hands in surrender, stumbling back. The girl blinked, human brown eyes blurring back into view. "Dude I'm messing-"
Before Veronica could finish, Betty was spinning on her heel and making a break for it. Her body was free of the impenetrable fog it had been trapped in, locking her limbs. Adrenaline zipped through her as she catapulted herself into the pitch black hallway. She expected Veronica to follow her, maybe the others, deciding to kill her after all. But all she heard was Archie.The boy's voice was still slurred. "Hey, Betty!"
"Betty, come back! Veronica was joking!"
Betty didn't listen, slamming her hands over her ears. She stumbled down the hallway that had seemed so innocent, past the lounge spilling warm golden light and Archie's music room. The human Archie she'd met at first glance seemed like a stranger now compared to the monster in the kitchen. Lodge House was where she wanted to call home. Now Betty knew the truth. Her roommates were bloodthirsty beasts of the night.
The lights were off, but Betty had memorized the way out. She threw herself into a run, diving down the old, rickety stairs before yanking the front door open and tumbling out into the bitter October chill. She was halfway down the street, choking on sobs, when she realised she was barefoot. When Betty lifted her head she felt something cold slither down her back. Rain. She almost laughed. Rain seemed to mundane, so human. Betty almost wanted to dance in it. There were tears running down her cheeks, her chest was aching, the urge to vomit still burning in the back of her throat. The cold, wet walkway was almost a relief on her bare feet. After walking for a while Betty realised she had left most of her belongings at Lodge House. She inwardly groaned. There was no way she was going back. The kids she had trusted and actually started to like, were vampires.
Vampires. The look on Veronica's face still haunted the back of her mind, ever pressing. Betty was staring down at the sidewalk, frowning at her bare feet trudging through leaves when the heavens opened. She looked up at her sky, blinking back freezing cold rain from her eyelashes. The sky was an endless stretch of black. She estimated the time to be around 3am. Which meant she had been standing, paralysed, in her roommates kitchen watching them drain Cheryl Blossom for an hour. It felt like only seconds had gone by.
Gritting her teeth against the bitter chill, Betty wrapped her arms around herself. The rain glued her thin, cotton t-shirt and jeans to her skin. Perhaps it was time to give up, she thought. Admit defeat and allow her mother to come and take her home. If getting thrown out of her dorm room was bad enough, she'd ended up accidentally finding out her supposedly sweet and down to earth roommates were actually 21st Century bloodsuckers. Maybe Blossom University wasn't cut out for her. She'd been expecting a relatively feasible work-load and dorm parties every night. Except she had no friends, the only party's she'd been invited to were hosted by the journalism club, and the sudden existence of vampires. Betty couldn't help wonder. Were Cheryl and the others the only ones, or was this place teeming with the undead? She shivered. Had Blossom University been a modern day Dracula tale all this time and she hadn't even noticed?
Eventually Betty found herself shivering in front of Kevin's dorm. The security guard had been fast asleep at reception, so she had easily gotten past. Kevin Keller lived in the dorms opposite hers. The Harrison building, the cheaper and less fancier version of the one she'd been kicked out of. The Harrison building reception had stunk of mold when she'd entered; rough blue carpet grazing her soles as she crept past the admin office. There were two boys passed out on beanbags, a vending machine turned over onto its side. No wonder her mother chosen the other dorm, Gladwell. Which smelt of air freshener the second you walked in. The reception had resembled a posh dentist surgery with white marble flooring and bright sunshine yellow walls. Harrison looked like a bomb site.
After climbing up seven flights of steps, Betty was ready to collapse. She still didn't understand why Kevin's dorm didn't have an elevator. There were nearly twenty floors. Every single one stinking of weed. The halls weren't that much better than reception. Each floor was identical; a mahogany door bearing each flat's number. The walls were a sickly looking green, most of them covered in graffiti. Kevin's floor thankfully wasn't. It didn't smell of weed, but there was the lingering aroma of something burning.
Veronica's cooking popped into her mind and she shook her head. The girl had seemed so sweet at first glance; scraping cremated cheese into the trash. Betty wished she was still oblivious of them being vampires. At least she'd have a place to stay. Though Archie's words relayed in her mind like a broken record.
"Don't act like the good guy, Jug, you've been dying to sneak into her room and drain her dry all night."
Alright, maybe not. Perhaps she'd dodged a bullet after all.
Betty easily found room 202 and knocked three times. She was a mess, but Kevin was never one to judge. Betty frowned at herself in the reflective number plate. Her hair was a damp, straggly mess hanging in her face. She had wiped her eyes, but was she was sure they looked bloodshot. After leaving Lodge house she had sobbed until her chest was aching, her throat burning. Her clothes were uncomfortably stuck to her skin and her bare feet were dirty. Betty waited in tense silence, her lungs squeezing. When the door finally opened, she was verging on the edge of a panic attack. "Betty?" a girl with toffee coloured skin and long pink hair tied into pigtails stood in shorts and t-shirt, a battered black jacket slung over the top. Betty frowned. Toni Topaz, one of Kevin's three roommates. The girl was blinking at her, wide eyed. It was 3am and the girl looked like she'd just come out of the rain. Betty could still see raindrops glistening on the collar of her jacket. "What are you doing here?" the girl's tone softened when she saw Betty's bare feet. Betty opened her mouth to speak, but the girl was already opening the door wider, gesturing her inside. "Dude, come in!" Toni ushered her in. "You're freezing!"
"Thanks Toni." she managed. "Is Kevin awake?"
"Yeah, he's in the lounge." Toni was wearing knee-high rainbow socks she kept tugging at. The socks clashed with the leather but damn, Toni could pull off any outfit.
Kevin's dorm was cosy, Betty had to admit that. She'd been around countless times. But never at 3am. The walls were still the generic dorm-room sickly yellow, but Kevin and his roommates had done their best to personalize the walls. Down the hallway, posters were dotted across the paintwork. "I'll get Kevin, why don't you go and get yourself a drink?" Toni disappeared down the hallway and Betty nodded, heading towards the kitchen. There was a chair in front of the door, holding it open. Fluorescent lights blinded her when she rushed in to grab a glass of water. Kevin's dorm kitchen was similar to hers; a refrigerator, oven and dishwasher packed underneath a curved marble countertop. There was a communal table surrounded by four chairs, what looked like an abandoned game of Cards Against Humanity and four empty shot glasses spread over dark mahogany wood.
Betty let out a breath and glugged her water. It tasted amazing running down her throat. She was frowning at a bottle of vodka looking dangerously close to falling off the table when Kevin finally appeared. "Betty, what happened?" Much like his roommate, Kevin Keller didn't look like he'd been asleep. He was fully dressed in a white shirt and jeans, a black jacket over the top. He too looked like he'd been outside, his dark hair hanging damp in wide set green eyes, almost narrowed at her. Betty couldn't help staring. This wasn't the Kevin she knew. Her best friend wore sweater vests and chino's. Betty had known Kevin since her freshman year of high school, back in Riverdale. This was some weird alternate version of the boy. Blinking, Betty wondered if she was still asleep. Dreaming. It would explain why Archie, Veronica and Jughead were fucking vampires.
Betty set the glass of water down. The floor didn't fall from her feet, and Kevin didn't grow a second head. So she wasn't dreaming. "I'm fine," she lied. Suddenly it was so hard to keep everything in. The words 'My roommates are vampires' were in the back of her throat, but something told her Kevin wouldn't believe her. Sure, the boy was a nerd and into all things fictional. But the boy wouldn't suspend his belief that far. She bit her lip instead, nodding at his outfit and quirked a brow. "What have you been doing?"
Kevin waved dismissively. "Playing Fortnite," he muttered. The boy looked distracted. Betty knew he was lying. Unless he was doing some weird kind of roleplay thing, which she knew her best friend wasn't a stranger to. Leaning against the countertop, Kevin folded his arms. "Betty, why do you look like you've been through literal hell?"
"I was kicked out of my dorm," she ended up saying. Which was the watered down version. Kevin shook his head. "Shit, that sucks," he muttered. "How?"
Betty bit her lip. "Cheryl Blossom." she said softly. Kevin rolled his eyes. "I always knew she had it out for you, but getting you kicked out of your dorm? That's cold." the boy sighed. It was the perfect time to say it, she thought. Just four words. They were tangled on her tongue. My. Roommates. Are. Vampires. "Kevin, there's something else," she said quickly. Word vomit. Kevin's eyes widened. "What is it?" his expression darkened.
"Did somebody hurt you?" before she could reply, Kevin was straightening up, swiping his fringe out of his eyes. "We can go to my room and talk, I'll grab you some of Toni's clothes from the lounge."
Betty managed a nod and followed the boy out of the kitchen, into the lounge opposite. The room was dimly lit with cosy brown walls and purple carpet. There was a leather couch in front of a flat screen TV hooked up to a games console. Though the television wasn't on. Betty found her gaze going to paper strewn across the small coffee table, coffee mugs and empty glasses sitting on top. Kevin's other two roommates were sitting on the couch when she walked in, the two of them hurriedly gathering up what looked like blueprints. Toni had resumed her position on the floor, her laptop on her knees. It looked like the four of them had been having a study session. Betty spied Kevin's laptop sitting on the floor next to a pile of notebooks and paper. Though something was nagging at her mind. Why did the boy lie and say he was playing on the games console which clearly wasn't on?
"Sup Betty!" one of the boys looked up, shooting her a smile. The other saluted her, before slumping back down on the couch, reaching for his laptop.
Michael Peabody and Finn Fogarty. Though most people just called them Sweet Pea and Fangs. The two boys weren't brothers, but they could fool anyone; both brandishing the same inky black hair and honey coloured skin. Like Kevin and Toni, they too were in the same battered leathers jackets. Kevin hurried over to a pile of laundry and picked out a pair of sweatpants and a pink long sleeved shirt. "Toni, can Betty borrow these?"
Toni glanced up from her manic typing and nodded at Betty with a smile. "Sure," her eyes were kind. "Keller, try and be quick, okay? We need you for the-"
"Study group." Sweet Pea interjected. He put his feet up on the coffee table and leaned back with a sigh. "It's due tomorrow Kev," he murmured. "Remember that."
"I hear ya loud and clear, Sweets." Kevin chuckled, rolling his eyes. He turned to go, but Toni was standing up, still holding her laptop. "Kevin," she said softly. She looked like she was about to say something before her gaze landed on Betty and she decided against it. The pinkette let out a sigh before dumping her laptop down.
"Alright, I'm sick of studying," the girl wandered over to the Playstation, flicking it on with a manicured nail. She grabbed one of the controllers on the floor, turning to Sweet Pea and Fangs. "Mario Kart?" her smile was teasing. "I can beat your ass at it again, Michael."
Sweets grabbed a screwed up bit of paper and threw it at the girl, who laughed loudly. "Call me that again and I refuse to cook dinner tomorrow."
Fangs cleared his throat loudly, tipping his head back. He had a Serpent tattoo on the back of his neck. "You can't use your cooking skills against us dude. Not cool."
Betty couldn't help smiling. Kevin scoffed. "This is normal," he said, "Don't worry, they'll work out their differences and end up playing fifty rounds of Mario Kart."
Sweets was already grabbing the other controller. "You're on, Topaz."
Before long, Betty was out of her filthy, damp clothes and dressed in the best pajamas available; a long sleeved shirt and sweatpants, courtesy of Toni. She sat cross legged on Kevin's bed, the boy sitting opposite her, sipping from a bright purple mug. He'd changed into his pajama's too which was a welcome comfort. Betty couldn't take him seriously in the battered leather. Kevin's room was homely; black walls covered in posters and a double bed with enough comforters and pillows to build a fort. The boy proudly showed off his comic book collection in piles on the floor, amongst strewn bits of clothing and old chip packets. It was the same unkempt mess it had been the last time she'd visited.
Betty blinked in the warm allure of the lamp on the boy's night stand, sitting next to a text books and his backpack. The light was distracting, but she knew of the boy's secret fear of the dark. Even now, at nearly nineteen years old, Kevin Keller was still terrified of the dark. Kevin cleared his throat. He looked exhausted. He absently rubbed at his eyes and yawned. There were dark sleep circles underlining his eyes.
"Okay, tell me everything," he said, and Betty was flustered for a moment. When she spluttered, the boy smirked. "Come on, we've known each other since we were little kids," he grinned. "I can tell you're hiding something."
Betty held her breath. Maybe she could tell Kevin a version of the truth without mythical creatures. "I found a new place," leaning forward she dragged a hand through her still-damp hair. The hairdryer had died halfway through drying it. It hung in her face in clumpy strands. "Have you heard of Lodge House?"
Kevin shook his head. "It doesn't ring a bell," he muttered. "Why? is that where you're staying?"
Betty nodded. "My roommates are..." she trailed off, and Kevin's eyes widened. He cocked his head. "Are what?"
"Weird." she ended up choking out. If she started ranting about vampires he'll think she's lost it. Though the boy looked far too interested. She noticed his expression had lit up, his tired eyes suddenly looking alert. "Weird how?"
Shrugging, she tried to laugh. "They just freaked me out," she said. Which was the truth. She expected Kevin to drop it, maybe suggest getting some sleep. But the boy was suddenly in her face, his green eyes hard. "Betty," he spoke softly. But she caught the catch in his throat, the wild look in his eyes. "What did they do to freak you out?"
Betty stared hard at the boy, weighing the positives and negatives of telling him the truth. "They just scared me," she whispered. "I dunno, they didn't speak much, and one of the boy's was pretty weird, the other one barely spoke," she lied. It was getting easier and easier to spin this web. "I just didn't feel comfortable living there." Lies. Betty felt like she finally belonged, with kids who actually cared about her, until she'd walked in on them having a vampire orgy with her mortal enemy Cheryl Blossom, who they were apparently now bound to. Betty didn't understand much of what the redhead had explained to her roommates, but she could just about fathom that she was in their alpha. There was a word for it, back when she read Twilight. Jacob Black had gotten close to vampire Bella's daughter. What was the damn word? It was on the tip of her tongue.
Cheryl Blossom had imprinted on her roommates, since they were her fledglings. Did that mean the girl had turned them?
"They just creeped me out, Kev," she said in finality. "I didn't want to stay longer, so I left in the middle of the night, and..." she trailed off. Veronica's wide eyes popped into her mind. The look of regret on her face when she realized that Betty was screaming, her fangs still gleaming scarlet.
"Dude, I was messing-"
"You left your stuff there," Kevin finished. "I get that, Betts. But why didn't you bother with shoes? Toni said you looked like you'd been dragged through a drainpipe."
"Thanks." Betty tried to laugh, but her head was starting to pound with pressure from the lamp. "I had a panic attack," she said. Which was technically true. Seeing Archie and Jughead tear into Cheryl Blossom had set her heart into a frenzy, she felt like she was going to suffocate.
Kevin hummed. "Next time you feel like that, just call me okay?"
"So these kids were just weirdo's?" Kevin leaned back, pulling the duvet over his head with a sigh. Betty slipped into bed too, curling up on her side. "Yeah," she murmured. Another lie. The Lodge House residents were past weird. They were fictional creatures for god's sake. If Betty so much has uttered the V weird she'd be labelled insane. Her eyes grew heavy. Kevin's bed was so warm, so cosy. But she almost missed how comfortable her bed had been at Lodge House. A thought struck; her bag, phone and most of what she owned were still there. There was no way she was going back. Veronica might have been joking, but her fangs were real. Her blood thirst was legit and all three of them had admitted that she smelled good. "Betty," Kevin murmured. He was half asleep, but she entertained the thought of speaking to him. It was better than thinking about Jughead's fanged grin, his bright, friendly eyes. But he was a vampire. She wasn't a potential friend, she was a meal. A shiver tingled down her spine and she shook her head, swallowing hard.
"Mmm?" Betty shut her eyes and breathed slowly. Everything was going to be okay. She was going to go to class tomorrow like normal and ring her mom at lunch, admitting defeat. Alice Cooper has been right. She couldn't handle Blossom University.
"The kids you were staying with," Kevin mumbled with a yawn. "What are their names?"
Betty bit her lip. "Archie, Veronica and Jughead." she finally said, before she could bite her tongue. "Why?"
Kevin didn't answer. He'd probably fallen asleep. After a moment of laying awake and staring at the ceiling, trying not to think about Jughead draining the life out of her Dracula style, Betty buried her head in warm pillows that smelt like lavender, and finally drifted off.
Betty dreamed she was sitting in the middle of a frozen forest; trees shedding their leaves, glinting with the sparkle of frost and freshly fallen snow. the woods around her were beautiful, reminding her of childhood memories. Her twelve year old self hiking with her elder sister Polly during Christmas break. They'd build a fire, roast marshmallows and tell spooky Christmas tales that admittedly used to terrify her. Especially the story of Krampus. Looking down at herself, Betty realised she was wearing a long white dress that spread around her. She didn't feel the chill of the frozen ground digging into her knees or the icy air whipping blonde strands of her hair from her cheeks.
There was no feeling. Reaching forwards she grabbed a rock and sliced her finger on the pointed end. Betty watched a single drop of blood appear. But there was no pain. The familiar stinging sensation of her nerve endings on fire was none existent. For a moment she stared at her bloody finger, before sticking it in her mouth like she usually did.
"Betty?" she turned at the sudden voice, slowly rising to her feet. The dress felt heavy on her, weighing her down. When Betty looked down, her feet were bare and dirty. A second glimpse at the dress, the white garment was stained a revealing scarlet, the bodice splattered crimson. The voice was familiar, but her dream self couldn't recognise it.
"Hey, Betty!" there it was again. She began to move slowly towards the voice. It echoed in her mind, bouncing around her skull. Her bare soles moved delicately through leaves and bracken. It felt like she was walking on air. The voice got louder the closer she got, pushing her way through trees. "Betty!" there was urgency in the voice suddenly, a squeak of alarm. Betty felt herself move faster, flitting through the trees, as silent as the breeze coursing through her hair. Finally she came to a clearing.
There was body on the ground. She noticed it automatically. It lay in wildflowers. She saw blonde hair spread out in a golden halo, caught in the roots. When Betty edged closer, her breath caught in her throat. It was a girl. She lay in a bed of flowers. Her skin was the colour of the snow covering the ground. The closer she got, the harder it got to breathe. She couldn't see the girl's face, for it was hidden drooping roses and blossoming lavender. Polly. Her sister's name was tangled in her throat. She wanted to scream, but no matter how hard she tried, the girl's face was lost in the wildlife.
Before Betty could try and edge forwards to see if the girl was Polly, figures were appearing out of the darkness; four to be exact. Though she knew exactly who they were.
The first figure turned around and Betty recognised the flash of long red hair cascading automatically. Cheryl Blossom. The girl was standing over the body of the blonde. Cheryl wore a snowy white dress, much like Betty's. But unlike Betty's, the soft white material was immaculate. Betty took a shaky step forwards and shivered. Snow began to fall. She watched flakes dance in front of her, spiralling, pirouetting, in the chill.
But again, she couldn't feel it. Cheryl wasn't wearing one of her usual spiteful smirks, instead the girl looked sympathetic. Her blue eyes were wide, a small smile painted on her ruby lips. "Come on," the girl said softly, reaching out for Betty's hand.
Betty didn't know why, but her dream self took it. Cheryl's pale hand felt strangely right entwined with her own. She stumbled forwards, tripping over her dress. But when she looked down to try and straighten it out, it was torn at the seams, ripped and clawed at.
"My dress..." her dream self whispered. She sounded different. Her voice was softer, more mellow. It sounded like wind chimes. Cheryl giggled, but didn't say anything, pulling her closer to the blonde girl laying in the flowers. "I'm sorry," the redhead murmured. "Really, I should have kept them under control. This is all my fault Betty."
Betty's dream self cocked her head in confusion. "What do you mean?" she decided to see for herself, diving into the flowers, she fell to her knees beside the blonde girl. But it wasn't Polly. When Betty leaned forward to look, she caught her own blue eyes staring lifelessly up at her. Her lips were open in what looked like a scream, and there were two puncture wounds in her neck, crimson staining her pale skin. The dead girl was her. But Betty didn't cry or scream. She only stared at herself, a low melancholic whine keening in her throat.
"I couldn't control them," Cheryl moaned softly. "I'm sorry they did this to you Betty."
"Did...did what?" she whispered. But the answer already covered her dress. When she blinked, Cheryl was gone and Jughead stood in her place, his fangs stained scarlet. This time he held out his hand for her to take.
Like Cheryl's, the boy's hand felt right in her own. He wasn't cold. Nothing was cold, because Betty couldn't feel. She was completely numb.
"Care to join?" Jughead's voice echoed again in her mind. The boy pulled her dream self towards her own dead body. The two of them fell to their knees. Veronica and Archie appeared, already tearing into her body. But she felt their claws, their teeth, ripping into every inch of her. Their laughter rode on the wind, but she joined in with Jughead as they feasted on her own flesh. It was a symphony of snarls and growling, the snapping of bones and blood dripping down her own throat. It tasted like melted sugar.
Her dream self loved it. The hunger grew inside of her as she grew more violent, plunging her hand into her own chest and ripping out her heart. It looked strangely beautiful in contrast to the snow all around them. She held it up, grinning at it, blood pooling down her chin Before she opened her mouth, her own fangs appearing. They felt right, springing from her gums, before she, like the others, went straight for the kill.
It was just a dream. That what Betty kept telling herself throughout the next morning. But it wasn't like her usual nightmares. They genuinely weren't real. Child catchers with the faces of demons? she could easily brush that off as fantasy, and she'd be able to shake off the nightmare. But this time her dream had elements of truth to it. Archie, Veronica and Jughead were real vampires. Betty woke up late, managing to make herself look semi-presentable with more of Toni's clothes. She picked out a black sweater, leggings and boots. Her hair was a mess whether she brushed it or not, so she borrowed Kevin's baseball cap hidden under all the clutter on his floor. Her entire wardrobe was back at Lodge House, but the thought of going back there turned her stomach.
Betty made it to her first class, jittery from the two coffee's she'd gulped down, scolding her tongue. Though it felt good to feel. Betty revelled in the bitter October chill biting at her cheeks, playing with strands of her hair. She wondered if her roommates or Cheryl had proper feeling. Could they feel pain or the cold? In her dream she had been turned, and had began feasting on her own body. The thought made her feel nauseous.
Home. As soon as lunch arrived, Betty would borrow the phone in Blossom's University's office and tell her mom to come and pick her up. Riverdale Univeristy wasn't bad, she could get in there easily. Plus, Midge Klump an old classmate from High School went there. But she'd be leaving Kevin, completely oblivious in the lion's den.
The dream was still in the back of her mind, relaying throughout her journalism teacher's lecture on getting a good angle for an article. Betty found a seat at the back of class and leaned on her closed laptop, shading her eyes with the baseball cap. The meagre four hours of sleep she'd managed to get were slowly creeping up on her. Anything the lecturer said sounded like gibberish. His powerpoint might as well have been written in hieroglyphics. Betty was too tired to take notes, or even acknowledge the powerpoint flickering on the wall.
Looking around her class she wondered if any of the kids dotted around the lecture hall were vampires. After all, they could hide in plain site. Though none of her classmates looked enthusiastic enough to be blooduckers. They looked like they'd just rolled out of bed, which they probably had. The majority of them were slumped in their seats still in their pajamas or sweats, their eyes were on the lecturer, but their minds were elsewhere, probably somewhere interesting. Yep. Definitely not vampires.
Betty spotted a girl sitting in front of her with blonde pigtails and olive skin. What was her name again- Kate? she vaguely remembered working on a project with the girl at the beginning of freshman year. Kate's eyes were glued to her laptop screen, playing what looked like an episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine. The subtitles were on, so Betty focused her attention on the girl's laptop. The story was easy enough to understand. Plus, she'd binged the first three season's with Kevin over Thanksgiving. The show was gold.
But even the lighthearted humour of a police sitcom couldn't settle her raging mind. By the time the episode had finished, so had class. The lights were flashing on across the lecture hall, blinding her and kids jumped from their seats, grabbing their laptops and books. Betty followed suite, stuffing her laptop into her bag and shouldering it.
She was on her way to the door, eyeing Kate. Maybe she'd strike a conversation with the girl. It was a distraction from her vampire roommates and Cheryl Blossom. Plus, Kate seemed like a nice girl. Betty joined the line of kids slowly moving down the stairs to the exit. Kate's pigtails were getting further and further away, disappearing in the crowd. When she finally made it out of the hall, Kate was nowhere to be seen.
Her stomach rumbled. Betty had managed to scarf down a cereal bar before class. Sweet Pea had made offered her a plate of eggs, but she was already late. Now she was starving. Betty followed the crowd of kids heading to the cafeteria and study areas. She was glaring at the ground, trying to conjure up an excuse for dropping out of Blossom University, when someone tapped her on the shoulder.
"Betty, hey!" the all-too familiar voice sent shivers down her spine. When she turned around, Archie was standing there with his usual friendly smile, brown eyes crinkled around the edges. His red hair was a curly mess, poking from a knitted beanie. He wore a plaid shirt and skinny jeans, a stripy backpack slung over his shoulders unzipped, spilling books. In his hand was a to-go cup of hot chocolate. "Morning!" he said brightly, before shoving the cup in her face. "Uh, this is for you," he said, ruffling a hand through his hair. Unbelievably, the boy was blushing. Betty couldn't help wonder how the boy was capable of that. "consider it an apology for the teensy tiny misunderstanding last night." when Betty glared at him, Archie sighed. "C'mon dude, just take the hot chocolate." he wrinkled his nose. "I had to wait in line for this cup of poison."
Betty was still mad at him. More mad than she had ever been in her entire life. But the boy was holding fresh hot chocolate, and she couldn't say no to a warm beverage. She took the drink. "Misunderstanding?" she hissed. "Are you going to tell me that you're not a vampire, and everything I saw was some vivid hallucination from smoke inhalation?"
Archie smirked. "Smoke inhalation? I might actually use that," when he chuckled, Betty turned to leave. Her chest was aching. But the boy matched her pace. "Look," the boy said quickly. "We're all really torn over what happened last night, we didn't mean to scare you," he said. Betty couldn't help scoffing. She walked faster, keeping her gaze on her converse. The hot chocolate was no longer appetizing. "You're a vampire!" she whispe-shouted, turning on the boy. Her cheeks were scarlet. Archie looked shaken for a moment, before his eyes darkened. "Fledgling," he corrected. "Betty, we're not full vampires, we don't drink human blood. If we could, you'd already be dead. Hey- hey, where are you going?"
Betty kept walking, accelerating her pace. Her legs were aching, but she managed to mechanically shift them forwards by sheer force of will.
Archie ran after her, lowering his voice. "Look, I was high on the blood lust Betty, that wasn't me. I really am sorry." the boy actually sounded sincere, but that didn't change the fact that he was a vampire. "Can you come back to Lodge House, we really want to give it another shot," Archie smiled hopefully. "Veronica can make you pizza?"
"You eat?" she found herself scoffing. The boy looked hurt for a moment, before shrugging. "Well, no. Human food is kinda gross," he scratched the back of his head. "But you do!" Archie's lip curled. "We promise we won't burn it this time. Pinky swear?"
Sometimes Betty wondered if Archie was really a six year old trapped in the body of a nineteen year old vampire. When he held out his pinky, she rolled her eyes.
Betty took a moment to take the boy in. Archie looked perfectly human. His eyes were still mocha brown, a clumsy smile on lips that weren't pulled back in a animalistic snarl like last night. She couldn't glimpse the monster that had terrified her, but that made her feel uneasy. Archie wore a mask; a human mask over his monstrous face.
"I need to get to class," she lied. Her classes were over for the day, but Archie didn't know that. The boy, to her disdain stuck by her side. "Sweet, we'll walk you. Veronica is waiting by the entrance, we can go back to Lodge House if you'd like? We owe you an explanation, and, hell it's kinda lengthy because I'm got gonna lie, my death did kinda suck, but it had its pro's y'know. For instance-" Archie stopped babbling when she reached the girl's bathroom. Finally. Somewhere he wouldn't follow her.
"I'm gonna be a while," Betty muttered. She didn't wait for the boy to answer. But the gleam in his eye told her he was happy joining her inside. She spun around to glare at Archie. "Don't follow me." her tone surprised her. Cold, splintered ice. Archie nodded with another smile. "Hey, it's cool!" his gaze found the ground before he backed away, waving shyly. "Come back to Lodge House, okay? We really do want you back."
Betty bit her lip and didn't reply, pushing her way into the girl's bathroom.
She didn't look back.
Luckily, Toni had loose change in her jeans. Just enough to by a to-go cup of ramen and much needed coffee. Betty was nursing a caramel macchiato, standing outside Kevin's last class of the day when the third Lodge House roommate showed up. The late October chill played with her hair, lashing it across her cheeks. But the coffee did wonders.
"Hey." the voice startled her. She nearly dropped the hot drink.
Betty nearly lost her breath when Archie's roommate appeared seemingly of nowhere. He, like the redhead was doing a pretty good job of acting human. She still remembered him from last night; blood stained teeth grinning at her, eyes burning red. The boy nodded at her but he wasn't smiling. His hair was an unkempt mess hanging in very human-green eyes. The blood splatters were gone, of course they were. He looked completely different from last night. Perhaps Jughead too had been high from the blood lust like Archie said.
The boy wore a white shirt and jeans, a red and black jacket that looked miles too big for him hanging over the top. He regarded Betty with a smile. The boy cocked his head, "Can we talk?" he pulled out a twenty dollar bill. "Fancy another coffee? My treat."
Betty shook her head, pulling her coffee closer. "I'm good." she murmured, trying not to make eye contact with the boy. Jughead sighed. "Okay, I'm just gonna say it," he muttered, moving to stand by her side. Betty flinched, but she didn't move away. Jughead shoved his hands in his pockets
"We were careless last night," he admitted. "Veronica and Archie are really shaken up over what happened. Ronnie's sorry she scared you, and they want you to come back." he offered her a smile and rolled his eyes. "And I guess..." Jughead trailed off with another exaggerated sigh. "I guess I want you to come back too."
"You guess." she nearly choked on her coffee. "Good to know."
"You really hurt Archie and Ronnie's feelings." he said, after a moment. "It's been a while since we've been able to act properly human. With you in the house, they finally got the chance."
The boy's words made her chest ache. "You're vampire's," she whispered, and the boy scoffed. "Fledglings, for the thousandth time."
"Does it matter?" Betty found herself hissing, and Jughead laughed. "Yeah, it kind of does? Vampires drink human blood and go on murderous rampages. Arch, Ronnie and I are fledglings. Meaning we survive off Cheryl Blossom's blood. We don't go on murderous rampages, unless it's Friday night. Which is Mario Kart night."
Betty found herself smiling. She couldn't help it. "Vampire Mario Kart?"
The boy grinned. "It's more fun than it sounds. Last time I threw Archie out of the window when he distracted me during rainbow road." the boy winced at the memory. "Alcohol still affects us but it takes a lot to get us completely wasted. Which is a ride."
Betty scoffed. "You can't lure me back with Mario Kart."
Jughead was silent for a moment. He was staring hard at the ground, playing with his hands in his lap. "It's like being possessed," he muttered. "When I drink blood, I'm not...myself," the boy cleared his throat loudly and lifted his head. "Just so you know."
Betty sipped her coffee. It was lukewarm now, dribbling down her throat. "I'm going home," she blurted. Tucking straying strands of hair behind her ear, Betty shrugged when the boy's eyes widened. "Back to Riverdale, I mean. I'm dropping out."
Jughead nodded after a moment. "Alright, we deserve that," he muttered. The look in his eyes was playing with Betty's heart, and it was driving her mad. The boy bowed his head. "At least come back and get your stuff? Veronica wants to give you a formal apology."
Betty chewed her lip. She did need her stuff back. "I'll think about it," she mumbled into her coffee. Jughead whistled. "Alright." he turned to go, before frowning at her. "One last thing," he murmured. "Why do you always look at me like that?"
Betty felt her heartbeat quicken. "Like what?"
The boy quirked a brow. "You look like a startled deer that's terrified of the hungry wolf," his lip curled into a smirk. "This isn't Twilight, I don't like you like that sweetheart."
"Excuse me?" she squeaked, her cheeks blazing. Jughead was walking away before she could yell something back at him. "Veronica's making you pizza!" he shouted over his shoulder, his voice whipping in the bitter breeze. "Think about it, Betty Cooper!"
A few hours later, Betty had made her mind up. She was standing in front of Lodge House once again. The Victorian red brick structure looked different in the daylight. Her legs shook as she walked up the path, shivering. It had began to snow, flakes settled in her hair, twirling around her. Sure, Betty loved snow when she was little. But now she found it anything but. She kicked through snow covered leaves covering the path.
The red door loomed in front of her and she stared at it, willing it to open on its own so she could sneak in grab her stuff without bumping into its undead residents. But Betty wasn't special. She didn't have supernatural powers capable of making the door fly open, and she wasn't an undead bloodsucker. Betty was just human. Which she was perfectly fine with. Sucking in a breath she lifted her hands to knock, jumping back in surprise when the door flew open before her fist made contact. The smell of burning hit her almost automatically, and a plume of smoke flew in her face. Followed by the unmistakable smell of cremated cheese. Jughead's voice came loudly from inside. "Veronica! If you think I'm spending my night scraping cheese from every surface in this damn kitchen-"
"Bite me, Jones!"
"Betty! Oh, thank god!"
Before she could breathe, a whirlwind of velvet black hair smothered her. Veronica Lodge wrapped her arms around Betty, hugging her tightly. "I am so sorry about last night, I was crazy high from the blood, I meant no harm I swear!" the girl finally pulled away, and Betty understood what Archie meant earlier about the girl being torn up. Veronica's green eyes were bloodshot, there was no sign of her fangs, and her hair was an unbrushed mess. She was still wearing her clothes from last night. Her olive cheeks were smeared with soot, and there were bits of cheese hanging off the seams of her dress.
Betty managed to smile at the girl, but couldn't quite make her mouth work. Veronica's eye's brightened and she grabbed her arm with a squeal. "Are you here permanently now? I made pizza, but I left it in for far too long. Do you like burnt cheese?"
The girl was dragging her inside before Betty could fight back. But there was something about the homely golden light spilling from upstairs that settled her racing heart. They headed upstairs, Veronica practically bursting from excitement. "So Archie can do this really cool thing when sometimes he sees the future," Betty nearly tripped up the stairs.
Veronica grinned at her. "Basically, he saw you coming," her green eyes twinkled. "Cool, right?"
Betty found herself once again in the Lodge House Kitchen. It stunk of smoke, and she could spy bits of melted cheese stuck to the counter top. But Cheryl Blossom was gone, so were the blood splatters. The place looked more or less the same; everything still where it was, except sitting at the communal table were Archie and Jughead, looking enthralled in a game of cards. There was a family sized pizza sitting between them. Veronica grabbed a seat, yanking Betty down with her. "We weren't sure what type of pizza you liked, so we guessed."
Archie glanced up, a smile curving on his lips. "Knew you couldn't stay away from us."
Jughead raised his eyebrows at her. He shuffled his cards, laying them out on the table. Veronica happily watched the two of them, her smile contagious. "Don't get too excited, Arch. We don't know if she's staying for good."
Betty had a funny feeling Archie already knew what choice she'd made. No matter how many times her brain screamed that this was wrong, that her roommates were perfectly capable of tearing her limb from limb, she couldn't resist either of them. She ended up eating nearly half a pizza, joining in the game of cards. And it felt so...normal. There were no fangs, no talk of drinking blood or Cheryl Blossom. She won two games and came to realize that Jughead Jones was a sore loser. He also had a laugh that made her feel warm, feel safe.
Betty finally relaxed. Veronica disappeared for a second, while Archie was dealing another game. The girl was back in a blink of an eye. She held Betty's phone.
"We charged it up for you," the girl handed her the phone with another gleaming smile and Betty took it gratefully, scanning the screen for texts from her mom. But instead, her notifications were filled with messages from Kevin. The last text sent shivers skittering down her spine. It had come through seconds ago.
Now: Kevin: 4:37pm
Betty, I know you think I'm crazy, but I think Sweets is onto something. Cheryl Blossom is a vampire, and she turned three college kids a few months ago. We think they're your roommates. GET OUT OF THERE.
Chapter 4: Doppelganger
Jughead had never had sex. Granted, he hadn't made friends or even communicated with kids his age enough to get intimate. His human self was anxious, constantly conscious of his body. He wasn't exactly big boned, but that didn't stop the anxiety curling in his stomach every time he took his shirt off. He never went swimming, fearful of kids laughing at his body. But there was never anything wrong with it. The anxiety disorder that had haunted him since his freshman year of High School twisted his image in the mirror when he dared look at his reflection. Disgusting. The ever-pressing voice had muttered at the back of mind. You're disgusting, it laughed. The voice was like a different side of him, a monster hiding in his consciousness, hurling venomous threats.
Except when he came a vampire there was no teasing voice at the back of his head, no pangs in his stomach or aching in his chest. When Jughead became a half vampire, a fledgling, everything he hated about himself dispersed along with his pulse.
Now everything had changed. For one, he was no longer human. Which meant the anxiety that had plagued him for most of his mundane life was gone. It had bled away with most of his fears, rational and irrational. His heartbeat had come to a staggering halt, and he no longer needed to breathe. Which was weird, but he was getting used to it. Another side effect of becoming a fledgling was his limited appetite. He only had a taste for Cheryl Blossom's blood, and he could just about tolerate coffee and pizza. If his taste buds were in a good mood. Most of the time, human foods made him gag. He no longer had a taste for burgers and fries. If he was honest with himself, he wasn't the same kid as he was a few weeks ago. In his human life he had hidden away for most of it, afraid of the world, afraid of making attachments, friends and lovers he'd inevitably lose because of his fear of rejection. If he had hated himself, despised his own existence, why would anyone bother loving him? Heartbreak was something he was sure he wouldn't be able to deal with.
But then again, he'd been positive it would never get to that point. That level of intimacy before someone got bored and dumped him for someone better. More attractive. In his human life, Jughead Jones had been a pessimist. As ar as he was concerned, nothing ever went right in his life, and would ever get better. He was stuck in his shitty, boring existence until he no doubt died of old age or shoved a pistol in his mouth and ended it all. Though that, of course, had been before Lodge House. Before those blissful few months with Veronica Lodge and Archie Andrews. If they were in High School, they would be the Cheerleader and Football Player, while he'd be the weirdo. They didn't fit, but they also did. In the best way possible. Veronica and Archie were kids he hadn't realized he'd needed in his life. They made it better. Archie's laugh, Veronica's teasing grin. With their personalities, they brought excitement, a friendship he had been sure would last forever. But it turned out, all three of them lost their lives at eighteen.
Jughead remembered his death in far too much detail, recalled his transformation into a vampire in absolute clarity. The inferno in his veins and the fire in his blood. His death sucked. No pun intended. But if anything, it turned out to be more of a rebirth. Where his human self died, as did the crappy sides of him, the pieces he wished he could cut away. Every flaw, every blemish that made him cringe, like his ridiculously narrow and pointed nose and the freckles on his chin, were smoothed over. Jughead's skin was polished marble, his hair a mess of chocolate curls he occasionally found himself running his hands through. His new self, the vampire part of him was so much better. The only thing Jughead missed about being completely human was the food. God, he fucking missed burgers. But it was hard to keep one down. In the days after his initial awakening, he'd tried two mouthfuls of hamburger, throwing it back up after struggling to swallow.
The burger had tasted like dog shit. Worse than dog shit. Like someone had directly shit in his mouth. Where was the spice of the onions and ketchup? The juiciness of the burger? And alas, the patty. The best part. Soft bread lightly toasted to perfection. As a human, it was his favourite meal. The Heart Attack special from the college's cafeteria. Except now there was no flavour. There was nothing. It was like chewing on shitty cardboard.
Though his lamented taste buds and appetite seemed like nothing, a vague notion at the back of his mind, when he was feeding. Jughead felt like he was dreaming, like all of this was happening inside of his head. Running his tongue over his newly pointed teeth, Jughead winced. They were tender after feeding. He was still getting used to having fangs. They were intrusive in his mouth, sometimes springing without warning when the faintest scent of a human being hit him. But he could still taste Cheryl on his teeth, staining his lips and chin. She was like a drug he couldn't get enough of. Once he was drinking from her, he wanted more. Copious amounts of the girl just for him. God, sometimes he just wanted to rip her throat out. But a fledgling imprint worked mutually.
While Cheryl saw him, Archie and Veronica as Hers; Her fledgling offspring bound to her for all of eternity, Jughead was in a way, forced to see the girl as some kind of god, a queen he should bow down to. It wasn't her fault. Once her blood was running in his veins, it was hard for him to resist her. Cheryl's voice was a sweet song in his mind and her blood was the only thing keeping him and his friends alive. It was like an invisible ribbon tying the three of them to the heiress. And he was fucking entangled in it.
It sucked that he had to share Cheryl, though. And it sucked just that little bit more, that he was sharing the girl with Archie and Veronica. He wanted the girl to himself. He wanted to taste her without being conscious of Archie's jealous eyes burning into his back. Jughead and Archie were best friends. Until feeding time. When Cheryl dragged the teeth of her knife across her throat and the smell hit him, it was like a switch had been pulled in both of them. Something ravenous, monstrous awakened inside him, and Jughead couldn't suppress it. If ripping Archie's head off meant draining the Blossom girl dry, in his vampire state of mind, he wouldn't even hesitate. And that terrified him.
His one fear. The only one that had lingered, like spoiled milk, was his fear of losing control. Because all it took was one drop of human blood running down his throat. Then it would be over. Everything he'd held onto after dying would mean nothing, and he'd be taken over by the beast inside him. The vicious demon Cheryl's blood was stifling.He'd lose his humanity. The tiny piece of him clinging onto life, onto a reality he could still live. As a fledgling, he could still go to college and pursue his dreams of becoming a writer. Hell, if it wasn't for the girl, he'd be six feet under the ground, stuck in endless oblivion. If he drank human blood, Jughead would turn into a monster.
If his lungs still worked, he was sure he'd be panicking now. His heart slamming into his ribcage. Jughead shook away the thought. He'd stake himself if he ever went full vamp.
"Jug." Cheryl's sweet, melodic voice snapped him out of it. Jughead was sure she didn't normally sound like that. Like windchimes gracing against his ears, an energy he couldn't explain caressing his mind. He was still high from the feed, his brain might as well have been candyfloss. The girl let out a deep sigh. "What are you thinking about?"
"Hmm?" he mumbled. It wasn't the best response. But he couldn't be bothered speaking.
Jughead had never been in such a provocative position, especially with others. When he was human he normally slept with a pajama shirt and shorts. It didn't feel right to expose himself. But now he was sprawled on Cheryl Blossom's huge double bed, silk red sheets covering his mostly naked body. Very American Beauty. Cheryl Blossom curled up next to him, while Archie and Veronica lay in a tangled mess, their legs entwined with his. It was the perfect moment. He didn't need to breathe, but it felt good to gasp for breath, coming down from ecstasy. The four of them were stained scarlet, their bodies clashing together. But it felt right. It was like sex. Except Jughead knew Cheryl had no inclination to partake in a threesome. At least not yet. Jughead wouldn't mind one, since feeding was so intimate. They started fully clothed, the three of them prowling over Cheryl like wild animals while her throat spilled scarlet. The smell was enticing, a sharp pull in his senses that drove him wild. Just like that, Jughead was Hers.
Somewhere along the way, the three of them had collapsed onto the bed, instincts taking over. He vaguely remembered Veronica nuzzling his chest, mumbling something incoherent, before Archie nibbled at his neck, the boy's icy breath sending him into euphoria. The three of them began to feed, at first slowly, and when their hormones kicked in, Archie was pulling off his own shirt, before clawing at Jughead's. Veronica was straddling Cheryl, giggling, her teeth scathing the girl's throat. It wasn't long before Jughead's jeans came off too, Archie dragging him back to feed. Everything went by in a blur; moans of pleasure turned to snarls, and before he knew it, Archie was ragging him away from their meal, daring him with piercing red eyes to just try and come near his territory.
But Jughead loved a fight. He also loved almost having sex with his roommates.
It wasn't until he'd finished feeding, wiping his lips, satisfied, when he realised he was completely naked underneath the soft silk blankets. He, Archie and Veronica were sprawled on top of Cheryl, and once he'd came down from his high, Cheryl's blood igniting him, he didn't jump away or get embarrassed. Instead, he lay back, comfortable, letting Archie play with tangles of his hair. "Jug, I'm talking to you." Cheryl mumbled. The girl's voice pricked with irritation, and he couldn't resist rolling his eyes.
"What?" Jughead frowned at the ceiling. He could hear the familiar scuttle of a spider's legs in the corner. Cheryl's room was nothing special. The walls were pale blue, and there was nothing to look at, except from a bookshelf and a dresser. The carpet was pale pink, a mixture of the foursome's clothes strewn across a sheepskin rug.
"Are you deaf?" Cheryl groaned. "I asked you what you were thinking about, hobo."
"Nothing much." Lies. Jughead figured telling the girl that he was constantly afraid of losing control and biting a human, was a bit of a mood killer. After all, he was a goddamn vampire. Well, half of one. He shouldn't be scared of anything. "Thanks for the feast." he licked his lips, stifling the moan in his throat. God, it tasted good.
"I second that." Archie mumbled, pausing in running his fingers through Jughead's hair. "Though next time, can we like, go all the way?"
If he could blush, Jughead was sure his cheeks would be burning scarlet. Veronica hummed in agreement.
"Maybe next time." Cheryl murmured. That was good enough for him.
Jughead closed his eyes, snuggling into Archie and Veronica. He couldn't sleep anymore, but he could pretend he could. He'd only gone a few seconds before the bed springs groaned, the body pressed into his left side shifting. Opening his eyes, Jughead watched Archie sit up, a lazy smile stretched across his lips. His eyes were slowly dulling back to human brown, but traces of fire still circled his iris. "Shit, I gotta get to class." the redhead quickly untangled himself from Veronica and shuffled out of bed.
"Nice ass." the raven haired girl sat up on her elbows, smirking at the boy. Archie grinned back, winking at her, before fumbling around for his boxers and jeans.
"Andrews, where do you think you're going?" Cheryl didn't move. But her voice had hardened. Archie pulled on his boxers, running a hand through his red curls. "Class," he said. "Mr Quinton said if I miss one more assignment, he's booting me out."
Cheryl sat up, and Jughead reluctantly followed. So much for pretending to sleep. The Blossom girl was scowling, her red hair hanging in her face. She was still wearing the dress from earlier, but it was hiked up her thigh. She settled Archie with a scowl.
"Are you serious?" Cheryl hissed. "In case you haven't noticed, Andrews, you're-"
"A fledgling vampire." Archie cut in. "Yeah, I get that. But I also gotta go to class."
"With humans?" the girl scoffed. "You wouldn't last two minutes. Even I can't deal with the stink of them. I can barely deal with living in dorms." Cheryl's ruby lips twisted with disgust. "One girl in particular reeks. I'm high-key trying to hint to her that she should move out, but the insufferable dimwit isn't getting the memo."
Archie rolled his eyes at her. "What's stopping you from moving out?" he chuckled when her eyes turned murderous. "Cheryl, I've told you. I can stay in control." When he grabbed for his shirt, Cheryl lunged forwards, yanking it off him. Archie groaned, sitting back on the bed. Veronica reached to wrap her arms around his waist, pulling him to her chest. "You can't keep us in here forever," he said. "We're not children."
The scarlet haired girl glared back. "On contrary, Andrews. The second your heart stopped beating you became a child of Satan. A newborn Blossom."
"You're kidding, right?" Veronica spluttered, resting her chin on Archie's shoulder. "Wait, are we in your creepy vamp family now?"
Cheryl sighed, sitting up properly. "Gather around, fledglings," she said softly. Jughead cringed at the girl's words. When he was sober and not high on her blood, her vocabulary made his head hurt. Veronica propped herself up on the mountain of pillows, and he sat up, peering at the girl, intrigued. Archie drew his knees to his chest, leaning against Veronica. He instantly gave up getting changed. Jughead had an overwhelming urge to snuggle up to the boy again. Post feeding, the redhead was one hell of a pillow. But Archie looked distracted. "What's going on?" he nodded at Cheryl to continue.
"Alright, since Blossom blood now runs in your veins," Cheryl hesitated, playing with her hands in her lap. Jughead had never seen the girl looked so nervous. Could fully fledged vampires like Cheryl even get nervous? "There's something you need to know."
"Which is?" Jughead shuffled uncomfortably. He was still hungry. But feeding could wait. He waited for the girl to speak, but Cheryl seemed to be having difficulty. The girl growled softly. "Alright, I'm just going to tell you," she said quickly, scrunching her face up. "I've been stalling telling you for a while, but now it's inevitable you're going to find out anyway-" Veronica cut the girl off with a chuckle. "Cheryl, just tell us," her her lips curved into a teasing smile. "Besides, how bad could it be?"
Cheryl suddenly found the hem of her dress incredibly interesting. "Bad." she muttered, playing with a straying thread. Jughead groaned. In his human life, he'd wait awkwardly for someone to speak. But as a fledgling, his patience had thinned. "Come on," he pressed. "Tell us."
The girl looked up and rolled her eyes. "What do you think I'm doing, Bat Brain?" she hissed. Then she sighed. "Sorry. I haven't fed today, so I'm a little on edge." the girl cleared her throat and settled the three of them with a sharp look. "Okay, so once a human becomes a fledgling," she plays with her fingers, tangling them in her lap. "lets say, a...copy of you is made. Like a- I don't know, a doppelgänger."
"Doppelgänger?" Archie repeated. "Oh god, I don't like this."
Cheryl dragged a hand through her hair. "Trust me, you won't. Anyway, basically the transformation from a human to a vampire should go smoothly. You should only be a fledgling for a few hours at best. So you can get used to drinking blood, and your body can have time to acclimate." the girl looked uncomfortable. "You three were never supposed to become fledglings at all. That night, I wanted to save you. I pitied you. Neither of you deserved to die like that. Plus, Jughead's screaming was irritating. The only way to shut him up was turn you." Cheryl tried to smile, but it fell short. "And because I took a stupid attachment to you.." she drifted off. "Seriously, it's like a motherly bond. It's gross. I've imprinted on you three no matter how much I hate it."
Veronica smiled sweetly at the girl. "We love you too, Cheryl," she said, and Cheryl's eyes went skyward. "Anyway...because of my stupidity keeping you fledglings, and letting you retain your souls, neither of you have completed the transformation. And that's not good at all."
"Oh god," Archie moaned. "We're going to die, aren't we?"
"I'm getting there, Ginger Judas," Cheryl muttered. "Okay, so going back to the copies. Basically, if a fledgling fails to become a vampire in a certain amount of days, I think it's a few months," the girl shrugged. "The inner vampire inside of you, the part that you never embraced, it embodies your face. It takes your shape, your voice..." the girl continued to pull at the hem of her dress. "Without sounding ridiculously cliche, it's your evil twin." Cheryl's expression darkened. "And they will hunt you, tempt you with human blood and drive you insane, until you give in and drink from a human."
"And then what?" Veronica was no longer smiling. Archie had buried his face in the crook of her neck. "Fuck, it's like vampire Freaky Friday," he groaned.
"There's more." Cheryl said quietly. "Once you drink human blood and give in, your bad side will merge with you. If you're strong enough, you can fight them off. But I've never known a fledgling who could. Once you merge, you'll lose your soul, everything human about you will cease to exist, and you'll be reborn as a fully fledged vampire."
"A monster." Jughead muttered. Cheryl nodded. "That's why I don't want you to go to class," she glanced at Archie. "They're not supposed to appear for a while. After all, you've only been fledglings for a few weeks. But they could come at any time."
"What about you?" Archie straightened up. Jughead eyed the boy, suddenly really wanting to lay his head in his friend's lap. "Aren't you a full vampire?" the boy questioned. "No offence, Cheryl, but you seem like you have a soul."
The girl grabbed a pillow and flung it at him. "That's because I was born a vampire, you idiot," she smiled a little. "I was born into The Blossom family. One of the oldest vampire families. Pure vampires maintain their souls. It's only humans who are tainted by our blood, who lose theirs." she sighed. "I guess that's why newborn vampires are so ravenous, so bloodthirsty. They're not supposed to be bloodsuckers."
"What about your family?" Jughead couldn't help ask. "Do they know you turned us?"
Cheryl laughed. "Mumsy and daddy? Good lord, no. If they found out, they'd take pleasure in turning you fully fledged." the girl adapted a look in her eye. Jughead thought he saw a glimmer of sadness. But she blinked it away. "I'll keep you safe from them."
Archie nodded with a small smile. "Damn," he tried to laugh, but Jughead could sense the boy was scared. And that never happened. Not anymore- anyway. Archie used to be scared of a lot of things, as a human. But as a vampire, he was invincible. "we have evil twins? So there's three maniacs walking around with our faces." he lay back down on the bed. Cheryl nodded. "Yeah. They exist in a universe where you gave in to the temptation of human blood. They can't hurt you, but can create illusions that look very real." she explained. "If you ever come to face to face, don't trust anything you see."
"Got it." Veronica murmured. The girl sprawled across Archie's chest. "I could beat my twin," she said. "Can't be that hard, right?"
Cheryl shook her head. "You can't. You're still more human than vampire. You guys have no chance. That's why I want you three to be vigilant. Do you understand me?" when neither of them answered, Cheryl hissed. "I said, do you understand me?"
"Mmm." Jughead murmured in acknowledgement. Archie and Veronica nodded. Though he couldn't stop thinking about what Cheryl had told them. An evil version of him? he wanted to laugh. Sure. But that didn't stop shivers skittering down his spine. If it came to facing his doppelgänger, would he reign victorious, or give in to temptation?
Jughead shivered. He'd rather not think about that. So he didn't. After a moment of silence, and Jughead was seriously considering asking if he could have seconds, Archie looked up. Catching Jughead's gaze, the redhead's lip quirked. Jughead automatically understood and shuffled across the bed, joining he and Veronica. The boy continued to run his fingers through his hair, and Jughead closed his eyes. Bliss. He thought. But the new development was still running through his mind. Meeting his twin would be surreal as hell. Would that side of him really be that strong? That scary? He'd never considered himself as scary. Even as a fledgling. So surely his vampire twin couldn't be that frightening. Still. Cheryl seemed shaken, and Cheryl never got emotional.
"Wait, do you have to die to become a fully fledged vampire?" Archie spoke up, after a moment. Jughead's eyes flickered open. The girl was still sat upright, frowning at the three of them. Jughead could sense how protective the girl was, and he was thankful.
Cheryl shook her head. "The venom kills you regardless," she rolled her eyes at the boy. "You're dead anyway, Andrews."
"Huh." the boy looked thoughtful.
Cheryl cocked her head. "Why?"
"Nothing." Archie shrugged. "Just, in The Vampire's Assistant, when Darren became a vamp, he had to physically die to complete the change."
Cheryl pursed her lips. "Please refrain from basing precious vampire history on books and films," she said. "They're an embarrassment. They even had the audacity to spell it wrong."
"Spell what wrong?" Veronica's eyes widened. "Wait, seriously?"
The girl nodded. "Yep. We're called Vampyre's," she said. "With a Y. Your ancestors are morons." Cheryl exhaled.
"Moving on from fiction, I know it's scary," she murmured. "And trust me, if I had to face another me, I'd freak out too. But I promise I'll protect you, okay?" she sounded determined. "You guys are staying human for as long as possible." she said. There's no way I'm letting you become fully fledged freaks. I can put protection on your house, and you guys can stay over when my dear parents go on a cross country hunt."
"What do we do in the meantime?" Archie murmured. "We can't just hide in the shadows, Cheryl. At some point we've got to face them."
The girl snarled softly. Jughead recognised it. It was territorial. She was marking them, ordering them around like they really were her children. "Stay inside. Only go to classes if absolutely necessary. You need to maintain the facade that you're still human. There's a wolf pack at the university, but they're in cahoots with my parents. If they find out you're vampire's-"
"We get it." Archie muttered. "Everybody is after us, so we gotta keep out of the way."
"Basically." Cheryl scoffed. "You three shouldn't exist. At least in my world. So let's keep it that way, okay?"
"And what happens when Freaky Friday comes to bite us on the ass?" Archie asked. "Can you protect us from our literal evil selves?"
"Yes." Cheryl said softly. But she didn't look any of them in the eye.
Common Grounds was homely. Betty had never been inside before, and instantly felt comfortable when she slumped down on expensive, plush leather seats. The place was mostly empty, with lingering students typing away on laptops, getting their annual dose of late night caffeine. She chose a table near the window, overlooking the town square lit up in golden light. There was a pop song crackling on the radio, and she breathed in the smell of crushed coffee beans. She had ordered a caramel macchiato and was nervously tapping on mahogany table. Kevin's last message was still lit up on her notifications, and she kept glancing at it, her chest aching. It had been sent ten minutes ago, and since then, she had mentally gone through all the possibilities of telling Kevin the truth. All of them ended up with him either being crumpled on the floor of Lodge House, his neck torn out, or blinking at her with dangerous red eyes, fangs protruding from his mouth. Shivering, she pushed the image of out of her head. There was no way she was getting Kevin caught up in all of this. Betty glanced at her phone screen again, anticipating another message. But the same one was there, topping a bunch of Instagram likes and a missed call from her mom.
Kevin: 4:55pm: Meet me at Common Grounds. It's a coffee shop outside college. We'll talk.
After she'd received the text, Betty had left Lodge House, insisting to a worried looking Jughead, that she was going to speak to a friend. Jughead had never looked worried before, at least since she'd met him. After not much convincing, she'd left the three vampire's playing cards and looking sickly at the half eaten pizza still on the table.
Her main issue right now, was Kevin.
He wanted to talk about her roommates, no doubt. Who happened to be mythical creatures. Betty shook her head, dragging her fingers through her hair. She didn't look the best. It had been a long day. She was still in Toni's clothes, the baseball cap settled over her unbrushed blonde hair. It was raining outside, and she followed drops sliding down the glass of the window. Outside, the late evening commute were hurrying around, mostly kids and students, laughing in groups, splashing through puddles. Betty found her gaze straying on them. They looked so normal. So mundane. She shivered. So oblivious of the existence of vampire's. Who lived among them. Probably walked past them on the street. But Archie, Veronica and Jughead weren't monsters. She'd discovered that, after spending an evening with them. Betty's fingers tapped rhythmically on the edge of the table. She just had to get that through to Kevin that what he thought was complete bullshit, and the Lodge House residents were as human as first perceived. She bit her lip.
Something told her Kevin wasn't likely to believe her. The boy was convinced.
"Betty Cooper?" She snapped her head up, blinking in the bright allure of the coffee shop. There was a boy around her age with shaggy blonde hair and pale skin. He wore a blue polo shirt, a tag with "Ben" clipped to his chest. He was holding a tray, no doubt with her coffee. She smiled and nodded. He set it down, before straightening up, his gaze piercing hers. He had bright blue eyes. Betty smiled politely, though her heart started to stammer. "Thanks." she nodded at him, and the boy blinked, as if coming out of a trance. "You're welcome," he muttered, before turning and walking away.
Betty stared after him. What was that all about? She took a sip of her drink, before spotting a familiar mop of dark brown hair through the window. Kevin. He looked like he'd just rolled out of bed, strands of his hair sticking up everywhere. He was rushing through the rain, squeezing his leather jacket around himself. Betty watched him rush through the swinging door. She waved awkwardly, and he headed over, before sliding into the seat opposite her. Kevin's hair was soaking. He shook his head, spraying her with rain water. But she barely flinched. "Vampires." he said in a breathy laugh. From the expression on his face, Betty already knew there was no way he was letting it go.
"Keep it down!" she hissed, before she could stop herself. But Kevin only rolled his eyes. "Relax, the worst someone could think is that we're Twilight fans." the boy's eyes sparkled. "Speaking of which, have The Cullen's tried to eat you yet?"
Betty stared at the boy. In his text it seemed like he was angry. But the boy looked excited. There was a sparkle in his eyes, and he couldn't seem to be able to sit still. "No." she rolled her eyes. "Kevin, look, it's- it's not what you think-"
The boy tipped his head back with a groan. "I know you're lying," he teased, when she spluttered. "You can't look me in the eye. I figured that out when were little kids."
"Kev-" she started, but the boy cut her off once again.
"I can't believe we were right!" he hissed, his lips curling into a grin. When she gave him a questioning look, he smirked. "You have no idea how long we've been trying to prove their existence, and they're right fucking here!" he hissed. "In our little town!"
Betty nursed her coffee. There was no point denying it anymore. She swallowed hard.
"We?" she prompted, taking another sip of lukewarm coffee. Kevin nodded. "Sweets, Fangs, Toni and I." at her expression, he chuckled. "Relax, we're just fascinated by them, alright? It used to be just a fan thing. We binged The Vampire Diaries for fun, but then we started to notice weird things going on. Kids disappearing and then turning up drained of blood," Kevin pulled a face. "The authorities have been covering the murders up for a while, it's weird." Betty nodded, pressing him to continue. "So it's obvious the Blossom's are vamps, right? Have you seen their skin complexion? I mean damn-"
"Kev." Betty muttered impatiently.
"Anywhooo, we've had suspicions Cheryl Blossom is a vampire for a while, and Sweets was convinced she'd turned a kid in his psychology class." before she could ask who, Kevin quirked a brow. "Archie Andrews. Sweets said he had this weird look in his eye, and often studied the class like he was, I dunno," the boy shrugged. "Like a lion stalking a herd of deer," Kevin leaned closer. "It was weird, because Archie was always kinda sweet y'know? always smiling at everyone, helping out when could. Sweets said one day he just came to class, different. His nose kept wrinkling, like he could constantly smell something bad. Then a few months ago he saw Archie's eyes change colour. Just for a second. It was a blink and you'll miss it moment, but Sweets swore he saw it."
Betty could only nod, and Kevin's eyes twinkled. "Well?" he whispered. Ben brought his coffee, and he muttered a thanks. "Well what?" Betty mumbled. But she couldn't keep it back anymore. Kevin already knew, and there was no way she could fool him.
Kevin lowered his voice. "Is Archie Andrews a vampire?" he murmured, and when Betty avoided his gaze and stared hard at the table, he let out a little whoop of excitement. "Veronica Lodge, Archie Andrews AND Jughead Jones?" he hissed. "That weirdo with the hat?" the boy's words stung a little. Jughead most definitely wasn't "a weirdo with a hat" perhaps if he was still human, then sure. But even then, there was something about his intense green eyes and raven black hair, that smirk, those teasing eyes, that made her stomach flutter. Kevin cleared his throat. "Hello?" waving a hand in her face, he chuckled. "Earth to Betty? Are you going to tell me what's really going on?"
Betty sighed in defeat. "Yes. They're all vampires." she whispered, and when Kevin looked like he was about to throw his coffee in the air in glee, she grabbed his arm. "You can't tell anyone, do you understand me?" she hissed. "Kevin, this is deadly serious."
Kevin nodded, pressing his lips together. "Holy shit," he let out a breath. "What's it like? do they have a refrigerator of blood? OH MY GOD, DO THEY HAVE COFFINS?" Betty had to slam her hand over the boy's mouth. "Kevin," she said slowly. "Calm down." removing her hand, she smiled a little. "They're normal," she said. Deciding against telling Kevin about the Kitchen Incident, Betty leaned back in her chair. "First of all, they're not vampires," she explained. "They don't drink human blood," she rolled her eyes at the boy. "They're not textbook Dracula bloodsuckers, they even have a reflection."
She was confident she was right. Jughead had dragged her into the bathroom earlier, and proudly stood in front of the mirror. "What do you see?" he'd murmured, after a few moments of confusion. Betty had frowned at herself and the dark haired boy standing in front of the mirror. She hadn't said anything, only nodding with a soft smile. "It sounds cringy, but Cheryl told us as long as we have a reflection, we have a soul. We're still human."
When she'd nodded in understanding, his lips had pricked into a smirk. "See, Betty Cooper. I'm not so terrifying now, am I?"
Her cheeks reddened at the memory. "They're fledglings, Kevin."
Kevin frowned. "Wait, like a baby bird?"
Betty nodded. "Sort of. They explained everything earlier. They haven't fed on a human yet, so they get to stay like this. Half human and half vampire."
"Yet?" Kevin raised a brow, and Betty felt her heart drop into her stomach. "Are they planning on becoming full vampires?" the boy hummed. "This is nothing like the movies and TV show’s, y'know? So, wait, they're still technically human? They're not like Elena, right? They don't have to die to become fully fledged?"
Betty frowned, unable to stop herself from smiling stupidly. "Can you say anything without adding a vampire reference?" she wondered how long Kevin had kept his obsession from her. Now she knew, he wasn't holding back. Archie, Jughead and Veronica hadn't exactly caught up with the lore, but she nodded. Kevin crossed his arms. "Fledglings." he chuckled. "It's sounds kinda cute. Like they're Cheryl's little baby chicks."
"Sure," she laughed. "Incredibly attractive, bloodsucking chicks."
Betty expected Kevin to laugh, but the boy drew in a single breath. She glanced up, at Kevin, and then at the figure suddenly looming over their table. Jughead. The boy looked- different. He must have changed. He wore a low cut short sleeved black shirt and jeans. His hair was its usual tousled mess, but his skin looked paler, lips cherry red, as if he'd just fed. Though the strangest thing about him, was the fact that he was wearing raybans. "Evening." his lips curled into a smile. "Do you two mind me interrupting this riveting conversation about me and my flat mates, and steal Ms Cooper for a while?"
Betty lost her breath. There was something about his voice. Silky smooth, like melted chocolate. Was Jughead putting on an act for Kevin? The way he spoke, everything about him, seemed remarkably different. Nobody had called her "Ms Cooper" except from her doctor, who spoke to her like she was a grown twenty five year old woman.
"Uhh..." Kevin smiled politely at the boy. "We're actually in the middle of something, so if you don't mind-" he trailed off when Jughead slipped off his raybans, and Betty caught a glimpse of his eyes. Orange. Burning Orange. Not like last time. She had been sure Jughead's eyes had been red. But now they were colour of burnt flame, just like Cheryl's.
"Go away." Jughead muttered, glaring daggers at Kevin, who blinked slowly, before his expression fell flat. "I've gotta go," he said, grabbing his coffee. "I'll see you later, okay?" Kevin was jumping up and rushing off before Betty had a chance to speak.
"Jug, what's going on?" Betty stared hard at the boy. "What did you do to Kevin, because he wouldn't just abandon me like that." the smell of dark chocolate mixed with spices drifted in her nose. She sniffed. Did he spritz himself with cologne?
The raven haired boy cocked his head. "Just simple compulsion," he muttered, looking bored. "Are you mad that I sent your little friend away?"
"No." Betty said, before she could hesitate. Jughead grinned widely. "Awesome. Shall we?" he held out his arm, and she took it after a moment. They walked past the counter, Betty stumbling along. Jughead took swift steps towards the door. It took her a few seconds to realise the boy wasn't wearing shoes. He was completely barefoot.
"Wait." she turned, surprised, to see Ben standing awkwardly. He was holding an empty coffee cup. The boy's blue eyes were hard. "Do you guys want another drink?" he asked, his tone hopeful. "It's on the house."
Betty shook her head. "I'm good, thanks," she said. Ben opened his mouth to say something, but Jughead was already dragging her out into the downpour. Betty shivered. "Where are we going?" she asked. Jughead tightened his grip around her arm, and she bit back a squeak. "I need your help with something," he replied coolly. Betty nodded. "Okay, but- but what with?" she stopped, startled, when the two of them passed a store, the windows projecting a glistening projection of the town square. She saw herself stumbling along, looking like a drowned rat, her blonde hair hanging in damp tangles in her face But that's all she saw. Betty was holding hands with thin air.
Shivers slid down her spine. "Jug," her voice trembled. She tried to stop, but he persisted. "Why don't you have a reflection? I thought-"
The boy chuckled, not turning around. "Not my name, sweetheart," he murmured, pulling her down the street. She could barely breathe. "What?" Betty rasped out. "What are you talking about?"
Finally, the boy turned to her, burning orange eyes twisting her gut into knots. "I need you, Betty Cooper," he murmured. "Jughead Jones' precious little blood bag." the boy grinned, flashing his fangs. Before she could struggle or cry out, he was dragging her down an alleyway, away from civilisation. "Observe, Elizabeth Cooper," he gestured to the cavern of darkness around them. "The very place your little friends lost their lives."
"Meaning?" Betty had to stall. Her voice was shaking. But the boy took pleasure in giving her the answers. "You see, a few months ago, Jughead Jones was happily walking down here, without a care in the world. Before, oh no," the boy laughed maniacally. "He was shot in the chest, along with the other two. It's sad, right?" he leaned close to her, his fangs way too sharp, way too close. She flinched. The boy wrapped his arms around her, squeezing the breath from her lungs. "Why are you telling me this?" Betty whimpered. This wasn't Jughead. If she could believe in the existence of vampires, then surely there was a way of replicating a person. Or in Jughead's case, a fledgling vampire.
"Because you need to know," the boy growled. "that Cheryl Blossom poisoned them with her blood. With every intention to turn them into vampires, but what happened?" he choked out a laugh. "They decided to stay human! They wanted to keep their souls. It's all very melancholic and sad, sad, sad, but..." Betty winced when she felt his breath on the her neck. "No matter," he murmured. "They'll change their minds soon enough."
Jughead, or the imposter, pulled away from her, before yanking up the sleeve of her jacket. "What are you-" she gasped out, and the boy rolled his eyes. "Stop bleating." he studied her arm, running his long fingernails up and down, tracing her veins.
"You're gonna scream for me, got it?" the vampire hissed. "This is what he should have became!" he inhaled deeply, his lips curling into a fanged grin. "Scream Betty," he said. "Scream as loud as you can."
She shook her head, squeezing her lips together. She was bait. The boy who looked like Jughead wanted the real thing. The vampire sighed. "Fine." he grumbled. "Have it your way." before she could pull away, or at least try to, the boy was lunging at her arm, tearing into her. Betty choked on her words, a scream erupting from her lungs, and the boy spat laughed loudly. "That's it!" she dropped to her knees, but in a blur, he was dragging her back to her feet. There was so much blood. It gushed from her arm, and Betty screamed louder, while his iron grip returned, clamping around her chest.
"Hey Jughead!" The vampire yelled, his voice synchronizing with her screech. "Come and get her!" Betty felt faint. Through fraying lashes, she glimpsed a blur of scarlet. But there was no pain, only the blood, dripping down her jacket, staining her hands.
The boy let out a frustrated hiss. "Where is he?" he growled, eyes blazing. "Do I have to bite you again, sweetheart?"
"Betty!" a voice startled her, and the vampire's head snapped up. Jughead. The real Jughead. Her chest clenched. "Finally!" the imposter straightened up, and Betty could only make out three figures stalking towards them. She managed to sit up, nursing her blood arm. Jughead, Archie and Veronica were a few feet away. Though they'd stopped, the three of them freezing in place, when they saw the state of her.
"I'm okay!" she managed to hiss out. Panic struck in her chest when Jughead's lip curled, Archie wincing. The two boys staggered back, pulling Veronica with them. Betty tried her best to wipe away the blood, but it came gushing from her arm, a vicious fountain. The perfect feast.
The imposter chuckled. "C'mon guys, can you really resist her?" he was yanking her up by her hair. Jughead shook his head, but his eyes were swirling red, his fangs out in a predatory snarl. "Keep back," he hissed at Archie and Veronica, who were having trouble doing just that. In a blink of an eye, two more figures were appearing, grabbing hold them. They were replicas of them. Except Archie's hair was a lot brighter, his skin porcelain white. The boy wore the same as Jughead, while Veronica's double sported a tight black dress.
"Come on Archie!" the boy's redheaded double grinned widely. "Can't you smell her? You smell fucking amazing, darlin'," he smirked at Betty. She squirmed breathlessly.
"Let's keep this short," the vampire with Jughead's face spoke up. "Feed from her. Isn't that what you've been wanting to do since you met?" the boy dropped her, and she she fell in a crumpled heap. Though Archie started forwards. At first hesitant. Anything remotely human had been wiped from his face. Instead he looked like a wild animal. Betty struggled to stand, but she couldn't move. The boy prowled towards her, cocking his head.
"Archie!" Jughead sprung forwards, but Archie's double yanked him back. "Archie, don't you fucking dare!"
"See, this is how it was supposed to be," Jughead's double forced Betty onto her back, gently inclining her neck so her throat was exposed.
There was something holding her down, pinning her arms to her sides. He smiled down at her, dragging Archie over. "We can be one big happy family, including blondie," he murmured. "all it takes is one drop."
"One droppppp!" The Archie double sang, grappling with Jughead. Veronica wasn't struggling. She stood, paralysed, her orange eyes stuck to rivulets of ruby red pooling in Betty’s palm.
"Archie!" Jughead cried. "Don't! do you have any idea-" his words morphed into muffled gibberish when the Archie double slammed his hand over the boy's mouth.
Archie blinked slowly, his eyes going from human brown to a flickering inferno. "I'm sorry," he said softly. And his words were so human. The boy's expression was pained. Betty screamed. But the boy was already straddling her, his fangs scathing her throat. Jughead's double groaned. "Less of the theatrics, red," he said. "Drain her."
"Andrews!" Cheryl Blossom's voice was piercing through her mind. Betty's eyes shot open, and there the girl was, a blur of red. She stood over them, her arms folded, teeth gritted. "It's not real! Do you understand me? Look at her! Snap out of it!"
Not real? Betty held her breath. Not real, not real, not real. The world around her seemed to blur, and she blinked. There was no blood. The gash in her arm was gone. Archie drew back with a sharp cry, blinking rapidly. "What?" he whimpered, jumping to his feet.
"Fuck." Jughead's double chuckled, his gaze traveling to Cheryl. "Why ruin the fun, Blossom?"
The girl growled. "Alright bozo's," she spat at the fledglings. "Meet The Rowdy Three." Jughead and Veronica rushed forwards. Betty stood up shakily, her gaze glued to her arm. "Also, the vampire doppelgänger sides of you that I've been warning you about."
Archie's double snarled. "We have names, Red." but he looked wary of Cheryl.
The girl shook her head. "I don't care. Get out of here, and crawl back to whatever crevice you popped out of. You only exist when these slugs for brains dimwits drink human blood." she waved a hand dismissively. "Which is never going to happen."
Veronica's double shrugged. "You can't hide from us forever," she smiled sweetly at Veronica. "We are you." she joined the other doppelgänger's, and the three of them turned to go. "Wait," Jughead's double nodded at Betty, his lips curving into a smirk. "What do ya say, Blondie? One last surprise before our grand departure?"
"Betty, I swear to god," Cheryl hissed. "Do you have baked beans for brains? Whatever he shows you is an illusion! Don't give into them!"
Betty squeezed her eyes shut. "I'm not, I'm not going to look," she whispered. But the temptation was strong, a soft voice murmuring in her ear. Before she could stop herself she was opening her eyes, and her gaze found - herself. The girl seemed to materialise in the rain, dripping into existence. The girl's hair was a mess of blonde curls, her pale face illuminating the darkness, lips tainted scarlet. The girl was in shorts and t-shirt, her pale legs a revealing red, her bare soles sinking into wet gravel.
"That's- that's impossible," Jughead spluttered. "Betty's not even a fledgling! She's-" he swallowed hard. "She's human."
Betty stared, speechless, at her own vampire double. The girl's eyes were orange. Fully fledged. She flashed a fanged smile. "Elizabeth Cooper," her replica murmured, grabbing Jughead's double's hand, entangling their fingers.
"How does it feel to glimpse into your future?"
"Betty," Jughead's voice cut into her mind. "She's not real."
But her replica seemed as real as the rain cascading from the sky, soaking them. "Do you want to know?" the girl leaned forward, her voice a hushed whisper. Betty shivered.
"Do you want to know who did it?"
Chapter 5: Nephilim
He started off as just that. A he. Nothing. Nobody. Just the reflection of a fledgling boy. But the weaker Jughead Jones became, refusing to feed from a human and embrace the monster inside him, he got stronger. Which meant He went from nothing to Something.
Once he gained the ability to speak, and then move freely, he broke through the mirror holding him captive. No longer an apparition or a nightmare in the back of Jughead Jones' mind, he slowly siphoned his human twin's strength. It wasn't easy. At first, he could barely do that. He was just an illusion. An idea given human characteristics.
But then, he was so much more. Stepping through into the human world, into Jughead's reality, it was a whole new playground. Suddenly, he wasn't just the boy's reflection anymore. He was a darker, twisted version; dark hair and porcelain skin, blood red lips and fully fledged vampire fangs. He got to test new senses; could smell street meat being sold to strangers, the aroma of peach and mango perfume spiralling in the air from a young blonde with a much younger version of herself. It was called a baby. The young child smelt wonderful. The perfect meal. But he couldn't really attack. Only create the illusion that he was attacking, tearing both the girl and her child, limb from limb. But that was no fun. All he could do was scare people. Not kill them. But killing was the whole point of him. He was the side of the Jones boy that didn't just want human blood to survive. No, he wanted to hunt. Kill. He wanted to see the fear in his victim's eyes, tease them with mercy, before drinking them dry. What was the point of being a killer, if he couldn't kill? hell, he couldn't even touch people. Even after he'd broken through the mirror, there was still a barrier stopping him from ripping humanity apart.
So he couldn't kill. And that fucking sucked.
Along with phantom smell, there was taste. Since He was still an illusion, a shadow, prancing around in a new world, he couldn't taste. Because he lacked taste buds. But he did crave something. It was a vicious burning in his throat, an inferno he'd never quench because he didn't exist. Not like Jughead. With his family, and friends. The ability to drink blood when he pleased and feel pleasure. Lust. Pain. All of which He couldn't. And the stronger he became, he began to wonder if he should give himself a name.
"Why are we here again?" Archie's double cleared his throat. He had been the first of the three to acquire a name, and it had been purely accidental. In the early days of their awakening, when the three of them had emerged from the mirror world, Archie's double had passed a boy on the street. There had been nothing special about him, but the redhead had taken a liking to his accent. Kiwi. The broad New Zealand accent. Since then, he had easily mimicked the intonation, and even picked out a name for himself; KJ. The redhead was the spitting image of the Andrews boy; curly red hair spilling over a pale forehead and mocha coloured eyes. except where Archie's bore warmth and kindness, his were only hungry. Constantly hungry for the electrifying taste of human blood. Out of the three of them, KJ looked the most human. Even if he was the silhouette of Archie Andrews, the boy still stood out on a particularly sunny day, in casual jeans and t-shirt.
"To cause trouble." He replied simply, and Archie's double chuckled.
Veronica's double had chosen to be called Camila. She had been called many names before, undecided on each one. Mara. She liked that one. Also Rosa. But Camila felt better. It felt like she could really call herself human with that name. In her words, it was a pretty name, like her. She was so incredibly beautiful just like Veronica Lodge herself. Camila had the same raven black hair cascading perfectly down her back and toffee coloured skin. Just like he and KJ, she was wearing a copy of the human girl's clothes; a tight black dress. It was strange, being out in broad daylight. They were only visible to those they chose to see them. Across the street, there was a human girl talking on a strange rectangular device. A phone, his mind, gathering more knowledge, supplied. She was nothing like Elizabeth Cooper who was the girl his twin secretly craved. Which made her like a drug to him. Like Novocaine he wanted to inject into his own system.
Elizabeth Cooper would soon be his. For now, though, he concentrated on the girl opposite them.
"I know mom," the girl looked like she'd just rolled out of bed, in a crumpled sweatshirt and jeans. She had skin the colour of honey, and wide blue eyes, dark hair framing a heart shaped face, spilling from her hood. When she looked up, a scarlet blush was spreading across her cheeks. T
The girl was...sad. It was his first experience seeing the emotion. She was leaking water from her eyes - just like Betty, when he'd bitten into her imaginary arm. Tears. They kept coming, dripping from her lips, warm and salty. "Can we wait?" she whimpered, tracing circles on the cracked sidewalk with the heel of her converse. "Please, mom, I know he's going to pull through. He- he always does!"
She stopped talking abruptly, and if he wanted to, he'd bother listening to the girl's mother. But he was only interested in the girl. Her name was- Kaia. At least, that's what her mother was crying, over and over again. He winced. Another emotion hit him. Annoyance. Irritation. Unlike sadness, he was all too familiar with it. Cheryl Blossom had ruined his plans to tempt his twin into feeding from a human. Even better; feeding from Betty. A constant thought his twin had been suppressing for a while now. " No, mom, he deserves to come home!" Kaia sobbed. And if he had listened more intently, he might have realised that the girl was talking about a dog. An eighteen year old German Shepherd. But he was instead focusing on the name.
"Cole," Kaia ducked her head, tears streaming down her cheeks. "he should come home. I haven't said goodbye to him properly-"
The girl gasped a little, lifting her head. It seemed like her mother had put the phone down. With bloodshot eyes, Kaia swiped at her nose and sniffled, shoving her phone in her pocket before walking away, a stumble in her step. He didn't feel anything for the girl. But he did like the name of her dog. Cole. The name felt- right. Better. Human. Cole. He thought to himself, swirling the name around his mind. His lips curved into a smile. Yes. He liked that name.
Names were weird. In 21st Century America, there were so many to choose from. He picked them out as he explored, rolling them around his new mouth like a new food. Daniel. He liked that name. But then again, he also liked the names James, Liam, Nicholas and Issac. When he tricked Betty Cooper into thinking he was Jughead, he was nameless. But it didn't sit right. He wanted to be real. To exist. And if he wanted a place in this human world, even as Jughead Jones' shadow, he deserved his own identity. With a name he was happy with. Cole was perfect. There was no need for a second name. Jones was good enough,
After failing to capture Betty and force his human counterpart to drink from her, he'd found himself on Penelope Blossom's doorstep.
Well, sort of.
The Blossom mansion loomed proudly behind creaky iron gates, flanked by rows of skeletal trees crowned in crimson, swaying gently to the chilly autumn wind. At its threshold stood a delicate marble fountain, the soft gurgling of the clear water melodic as it resonated in the surrounding silence. He stood there for a moment, with his partners in crime, who were yet to speak. There was in intercom, and when he pressed the small red button, there was a burst of static, followed by a steely female voice.
"What is it?" she spat.
Cole smiled to himself and took a deep breath of air that he didn't need, hugging himself. For this to work- he had to look weak. He had to look like a thirsty fledgling, barely clinging onto life. "Hi Miss Blossom, my name is Jughead Jones," he said, channelling politeness. "I was recently turned by your daughter-"
He jumped a little when the gates slowly began to open, and the intercom went dead. He took a hesitant step forwards, unable to keep the smile off his face.
Piece of cake.
Betty didn't sleep well that night. It might have had something to do with her impending doom and inevitable fate as an undead freak. She woke up with a panicked flinch, biting back a cry in her throat. Jughead's creepy double was still haunting her, playing with her mind. Even if he was no more than an illusion, a phantom who could do nothing but scare her, she still couldn't get him out of her head. Last night had been a confusing blur. The four of them had arrived home with Cheryl, who insisted her fledglings had to feed. Jughead had suggested ordering pizza, so she wouldn't feel left out, but Cheryl shook her head, grabbing the boy and dragging him upstairs, Archie and Veronica stumbling after them. Betty resigned to her room. Though there hadn't been much to do. Especially when she could...hear them. It was hard not to hear them. Not even blasting music through her headphones and burying her head in her pillows could block out the moans and snarls. Eventually though, she had managed to fall asleep, dreaming of Jughead's double once again. He stood in her childhood bedroom with his back to her. It was one of those dreams she had as a kid. The big bad wolf slowly turning around, flashing sharp teeth ready to tear her apart. But the dream Jughead had simply turned and smiled at her. His green eyes had been warm, his smile sweet. She could almost believe it really was Jughead, before his smile got wider, becoming a manic grin, showing off deadly incisors. Before he could reach her, sinking his teeth into her neck, she had woken up, choking on a sob.
The house was quiet except for the creaky, creepy noises houses made at night. The window was open, the curtains gently swaying side to side. Outside, wind rattled the dry leaves on the trees, and Betty heard music coming from down the hall. Maybe the others were chilling in the lounge, listening to Jughead's record player. After feeding, it seemed likely. Veronica had mentioned that they liked to listen to 80's songs as they slowly came down from their high. The idea of disturbing them sent pangs in her chest. Was she jealous? Surely not. Sliding out of bed, Betty hugged herself, wandering over to the window and sliding it shut. The music was slow and warm and contemplative, kind of guitar alternative, getting progressively louder. Betty found herself swaying to the slow beat, twirling on her tip-toes across the fluffy carpet. The music filled her, relaxing her muscles, every fear in her mind bleeding from her ears. It was almost hypnotising. After pulling on her jacket, Betty wandered into the en suite, flicking on the light. It was warm and welcoming. The tiles were ocean blue, matching the floor.
The sight of her reflection made her jump slightly. Especially after earlier. But this was no evil vampire double. She was simply staring at herself. Betty's skin was pale- though it always had been pale. Her blonde hair was a tangled mess in her squinting eyes, a serious case of bed-head, and there were bruises scattering her cheeks. She groaned, prodding them with her fingers. Her scowling lips were split. Betty did her best to tame her locks, tucking strands behind her ears.
She cocked her head, eyeing her reflection. She looked ragged, beaten, half dead, and kinda homeless. Toni's clothes were still hanging off her, damp from the rain. Betty couldn't resist a look at her arm, but it was as the same as it had always been. There were no bloody gashes, or teeth marks. No blood gushing down pale skin, a scarlet waterfall. It was just her arm. Betty turned her attention back to her face. The bruises on her cheeks definitely needed covering up. If her mom made a surprise visit, and Betty knew Alice Cooper wasn't a stranger to them, she'd have a fit. Vampires or not, if she found out her daughter was living with two guys, Betty was in for it. She made a mental note to borrow some foundation from Veronica. She had always worn next to makeup, since it irritated her skin. But maybe some concealer and a splash of foundation wouldn't hurt. She looked like the living dead.
Speaking of the living dead...
Betty took a deep breath and opened her door, slipping out into the hall. The lights were on, warm and glowing gold. The music followed her as she crept silently, trying to make as little noise as possible. She checked a clock on the wall. It was just past midnight. She's slept for nearly six hours. It had still been daylight when she'd passed out, early evening perhaps. She had been so tired, so freaked out, she'd just let herself fall into darkness, uncaring what time it was. Besides, she didn't want to listen to the vampire orgy. When Betty found herself at the threshold to the lounge, the door was open, the room dark. She peeked in, switching on the light. But there was nobody in there. She checked the kitchen, expecting a crimson horror all over the floor like last time. But the room was undisturbed. The pizza from last night coagulating on the communal table, along with four empty glasses. Betty considered grabbing a bite to eat. Her stomach growled. But checking the refrigerator wasn't particularly appealing. Her vampire roommates almost definitely stored Cheryl Blossom's blood. Betty had caught Veronica numerous times drinking from a flask. She swallowed. Food could wait till morning.
The music was coming from the last room at the end of the hallway. Betty frowned at a familiar piece of paper taped to the wood; "MUSIC ROOM" it proclaimed in bold black marker. "KEEP OUT." then in brackets: UNLESS YOU'RE BRINGING FOOD/DRINK.
That sign must have been made before the three of them were turned into fledglings.
Betty had neither of those things, but she still found herself drawn to the music seeping through the door. When she pressed her ear against mahogany, there was singing- a sweet, melodic voice making her heart flutter. Before she could help it, Betty was slowly pushing the door open. When she stepped inside, she felt like she was floating on a cloud. Mainly because of the music. Archie was sitting in the middle of the room on a stool, bent over a guitar. She watched him, frozen, because he didn't acknowledge her; it was just him and the guitar and the music, and if she had to put a name to what she could see on his face, it would be something poetic, like longing. His red hair was a mess, splayed across a ghostly white face. Betty swallowed hard. It was the first time since meeting him that Archie looked human again. His eyes weren't glowing, and he didn't have that shark grin splitting his mouth apart. The boy just looked like an average eighteen year old. Betty could almost believe it, if she suppressed the memories from earlier where he'd been inches from bleeding her dry at the order of his evil double.
Archie's shirt was off, the boy sitting in sweat pants, gently bobbing his head as he strummed a low melody. There was a can of beer unopened in front of him. When Betty shut the door behind her, taking an unsure step inside, Archie stopped playing, reaching for the beer. He cracked it open before knocking the can back, taking a long drink. "Urgh," the boy made a face, spitting it out automatically. Betty tried not to look disgusted, but the boy just shook his head. "I thought I could still drink beer," he murmured, plopping the can back down. "Obviously not." he straightened up before sending her a questioning smile. His forehead was glistening with perspiration, eyes a very human brown, which settled the knot in her gut. "You're up late," he remarked, and Betty nodded. "So are you."
"I can't sleep anymore. Well, I can. But it's only rarely, when I'm drained of strength. If I don't feed, I sleep like a log."
The boy curled his lip and Betty suddenly knew what he was thinking. Her own cheeks burned bright.
"Oh fuck, did we wake you up? Were we too loud?" it was then when she noticed a trace of red staining Archie's bottom lip. Her heart somersaulted.
"Too loud?" Betty pretended not to understand what he was talking about, but apparently there were no boundaries in Lodge House. Everyone told everyone everything, even if it was the type of thing Betty would rather die than hear in vivid detail. But Archie didn't notice her discomfort.
"When we were feeding, we tend to make a lot of noise," he cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable. "I mean, we did more than feed, but that's besides the point. I have told Jug to soundproof the bedroom, but Veronica gets a creepy kick out of people hearing us, like I'm not that loud, but the girls?" Archie trailed off, and she noticed a rosy blush beginning to spread across his cheeks. "You don't care do you?"
"I'm good on the gory details." she said quickly, managing a smile. Betty quickly changed the subject, gesturing to the guitar still resting in his lap. "I heard you playing," she said smoothly. "You're good. I'm confused why they kicked you out of the lounge."
Archie smiled. "Thanks. I've been playing since I was a kid." He traced his fingers over the sleek wood, tangling his fingers in the strings. "Ever since I died and became a fledgling, my life's been pretty crazy. But playing music sort of chills me out, y'know?"
Betty nodded. Archie noticed her standing awkwardly and laughed. It was a good laugh. Human. "Dude, sit down. I'm not going to eat you." he winked. Though then his eyes widened slightly, and before she could breathe, the boy was standing directly in front of her, gently probing the bruises on her cheeks with his fingers.
"Yikes," he cocked his head, frowning. "The Rowdy Three really did a number on you, didn't they?"
Betty let out a breath. Archie's touch was warm, almost soothing. "I don't suppose you have healing powers," she joked. The boy rolled his eyes. "How many more times, Cooper? I'm a fledgling. We don't have much of anything vampires are capable of."
Betty dropped down onto a wooden chair, crossing her legs and the redhead sat back down on his own chair, picking up the guitar and strumming it softly.
Walking in on Archie was purely coincidental, but now she was here with him alone, questions were burning in her mind, demanding to be answered. "Archie," she played with her hands in her lap, twisting her fingers. "You can see the future, right? Veronica told me-"
He stopped playing, lifting his head. The boy's brown eyes were amused. "You want to know if I saw you become a vampire, don't you?"
Betty swallowed hard. "Yes." she said, and the boy shrugged. "I don't see what I want to see," he murmured. "I can't control my vision's, or whatever they're called. For example, I saw you." he looked up at her with a smile. "Well, I didn't see you exactly, but I did see a blurry whirlwind of blonde standing in front of our door. Jughead had already put out an advert asking for a roommate ," he gave her a half smile and began playing again, his words falling in sync with the music.
"We were lonely, Betty. We wanted to act human. So we asked for a human roommate."
Betty nodded. She could vaguely recognise the tune the boy was playing. It was an old song her mother used to sing when she was a kid.
"You saw me before I arrived," she said. "And you knew I was going to come back."
Archie nodded. "That's what I see. I see glimpses," he laughed. "Damn, if I saw in clarity, I'd be a hell of a lot more excited about it. But unfortunately, it's just flashes. So to answer your question, Betty Cooper, It's a no. I haven't seen a future vampire version of you." he smiled reassuringly and continued playing, and Betty lost herself in the familiar tune, raking her mind for a name and artist. Though she couldn't resist feeling relief, a heavy weight being lifted from her chest. Jughead's double was playing with her, surely. Being a vampire was her worst nightmare, and he was the literal embodiment of a nightmare. Her future bloodsucking self had been nothing more than an illusion. But she still couldn't seem to stop thinking about it. Her own double had seemed- close to Jughead's doppelganger. She could recall it in clarity; her evil reflection grabbing his hands, squeezing them tightly. Betty felt a pang in her chest.
Were they together? It was a ridiculous thought, since everything she was seeing was an apparition, nothing more than a ghostly vision created by Jughead's demonic self. But it looked real. They looked real. Like they were truly in love. The smiles on their faces, the way he looked at her. Fuck. Betty felt her heart flip over. Was that her future? Even if she wasn't going to turn into a vampire, was she going to fall for Jughead?
"Do you want to know who did it?" Her doppelganger's words haunted her mind, a shrill whisper still alive in her ears, playing over and over again like a broken record.
No. Betty clenched her fists, digging half moons into the flesh of her palms. But it didn't sting. When she stared down at her hands, there were no marks.
"You're still worried, aren't you?" Archie said after a while, and Betty found herself fiercely glaring at her lap. She was still wearing Toni's damp sweatpants. They felt like they were glued to her legs. A shower would be good right now, she thought. But being with Archie felt right. Comfortable.
She stretched out her legs, trying not to think about how dirty her bare feet were. It was only yesterday when she'd mindlessly ran from Lodge House without shoes, and ended up traipsing barefoot through leaves and bracken. Betty could still feel the rough gravel cutting into her bare soles.
"I'm not worried." she said stubbornly. "I just want to know if what I saw is going to happen."
"It's not, don't worry." Archie murmured. He fingered a loose curl slipping down his forehead. "You're just human, Betty Cooper. You don't crave blood, or have super speed or strength or agility. You're just Betty Cooper, and that's what we love about you."
"And my scent?" she blurted, and he grinned.
"You do smell pretty fucking amazing. I wasn't joking when I said I practically inhaled that coffee mug you drank out of."
She found herself laughing easily. "I'm still weirded out by that."
For a while it was just the two of them; Archie lost in his music, and Betty revelling in it. When the boy lifted his head, his eyes were shut, his lips curled into a soft smile. Betty couldn't resist her own. She was nodding her head sleepily to the song, when he sighed, his eyes flickering open. Archie adapted a sudden look of sadness on his face.
"I miss food." he mumbled. When Betty frowned at him, his grin was crooked.
"What? Do you think I like bleeding Cheryl Blossom dry every night? Hell, I'd kill to eat a cheese burger right now."
Betty winced, and the boy shook his head. "Figuratively. I don't drink human blood."
She still shivered. "What's it like?" the words came out so easily, slipping through her lips. "Being a fledgling I mean. How different is it to being human?"
Archie shrugged. "It's hard at first," he admitted. The redhead gently set the guitar down, folding his arms across his toned chest. "Cheryl Blossom saved us from dying, and it just sort of happened." when she nodded at him to continue Archie ran a hand through his hair.
"Damn, you really want to know?" he chuckled. "Are you that sleep deprived?"
Betty nodded. "I don't know much about you guys, so it would be nice if you clued me in."
He curled his lip. "It's a pretty tragic backstory. Think you can handle it?"
She shrugged. "I literally live with three bloodthirsty vampires."
"Fledglings," Archie corrected. "We're fledglings, Betty. Not vampires. There's a huuggeee difference."
Betty shivered. "Don't you ever crave it?" she said, after hesitating.
"Human blood?" Archie gave her a half shrug. "I guess? Cheryl's blood helps though, with the craving I mean. If Cheryl wasn't here, the three of us would be newborns by now."
That wasn't a great thought. Betty drew in a long breath.
"I still don't understand the differences though," she conceded.
"Huh. Alright. Well I guess I'll start from the beginning." Leaning back in his chair, Archie sighed. "Jug, Ronnie and I were walking back home from the movies, and we were attacked." He said it so abruptly, she was waiting for some kind of build up. Archie struck her as a storyteller. She felt a shiver fly down her spine. Suddenly it was hard to make eye contact with the boy. "Attacked?" Betty managed to say, and the boy nodded gravely.
"Mmm. Two armed guys came out of nowhere, completely surrounding us," he grimaced, and she caught a flash of his fangs for a moment. They were suddenly there, and she was reminded that the boy was an undead monster. No matter how hard she tried to think past it, try and see his mocha coloured eyes and kind smile- it didn't change the fact that he could smell her scent, already sense the beat of her heart. Betty dug her feet into the ground, forcing herself not to react. But as quick as his eyes ignited red, they quickly clouded back to brown. He ducked his head with a sigh.
"They asked for cash, but we didn't have any." Betty noticed the boy's voice was no longer a murmur. It was a low growl, edging on going full vamp. "Those bastards weren't going to leave us alone, Betty," he said. "We were dead the second they turned up, and Ronnie?" Archie choked on the girl's name.
"I don't say it a lot, but I love her. There was no way I was going to let them hurt her. She and Jug are all I have."
Archie sent her a small smile. "I didn't have much friends when I came to college, and I don't know, I didn't want to end up a stereotypical frat boy," Archie shuffled uncomfortably. Betty could tell he was struggling to talk about his life pre- Cheryl Blossom. "Then I saw Ronnie's advert for a roommate, and the rest is history."
Betty nodded. "Are you guys...?" she trailed off, and he shook his head.
"I wish!" he laughed. "To be honest, I don't know. We've been intimate, but that's during feeding with Jug and Cheryl."
She couldn't help herself. "And you guys..."
Archie choked out a laugh. "If you mean sex, then yes." his eyebrows furrowed. "Sort of."
"It's hard to explain," he said quickly.
"Anyway, I love Veronica. Jughead too. And hell, I wasn't going to let those bastards take either of them away from me. So when the asshole pulled the trigger, I saw red. I just jumped in front of them, and it didn't-" Archie's voice broke into a sob, and Betty hadn't been expecting it. She had been ignorant to think vampires couldn't cry. Archie swiped at his eyes angrily, sniffling. "It didn't matter because as soon as they'd finished with me, they shot them too."
"They killed you?" Betty whispered, and the boy nodded. "Basically. All I remember is Jughead screaming, then a pain in my chest. It felt like someone was ripping my heart to pieces. I passed out tasting my own blood, knowing I was going to die, knowing Jug and Ronnie were next to me, and there was nothing I could do." Archie stared down at his lap, pausing for a moment. Betty's stomach was twisted, her chest aching. She could almost feel the boy's pain, his agony and sorrow and anger, streaming through him. "Archie, it's okay," she said softly. "You don't have to tell me any more."
He jerked his head up. "No, I want to." he said. "I want to tell you everything, because I can't even discuss it with Jug and Ronnie. It hurts them too much."
The boy let out a shaky breath before continuing. "The next thing I knew Cheryl Blossom was cradling me on her knee, my head was spinning, there's this raging burning in my throat, and I'd never been so fucking thirsty in my entire life. When I opened my eyes, everything was suddenly in Ultra HD. I could see everything, Betty. I could see rain drops sliding down the old piping in the alleyway. My senses were a mess. This smell was driving me crazy and I remember thinking I'd kill for it. Just to taste a drop."
Betty nodded. "The smell was Cheryl," Archie murmured, sucking in a breath. "I can't explain it, but I feel drawn to her. Connected to her." his eyes darkened.
"In those first few moments as a fledgling, she was what I wanted. All I craved. I wanted to taste her, drink from her and never stop. Hell, I wanted to keep her to myself. I was territorial at first, attacking Ronnie or Jug is they so much as looked at her. Cheryl told us she had imprinted on us, meaning we're bound to her forever."
He scoffed. "Well, until someone puts a stake in our hearts."
She couldn't resist a quiet laugh. "Of all people it had to be Cheryl Blossom." the girl had been her personal nightmare, ever since meeting her. Cheryl had made it her mission to ruin Betty's life whether it was hiding her laundry or locking her out of the flat. It had been Cheryl's fault that she'd been kicked out of her room. She pulled a face, unable to stop herself from scoffing. "You're bound to HER for all eternity."
Archie chuckled. "Hey, she's not that bad," he rolled his eyes. "She has that effect on us. When I was human I might have thought she was hot, but now we're connected to her, through blood, it's like I see her in a whole new light. To you, she might be a typical teenage rich bitch. But to us she's like a god, and I can't help my feelings for her. I know the others can't either. The passion is there whether we like it or not. The constant need to protect to her, keep her from harm. Cheryl Blossom is..." The redhead shuddered, swallowing. "She's like a drug." Betty cocked her head. So many questions were ready to roll from her tongue now the boy was being open with her. "Can you resist her?"
Archie flashed her a fanged grin, but she didn't flinch. She wasn't scared of him anymore.
Just like Veronica and Jughead. For a moment she relaxed, but Jughead's double seeped back into her mind like spoiled milk. "What about your doubles?" she asked quietly, and the smile was cleanly wiped from his lips. Archie tipped his head back, his gaze flitting across the ceiling. Betty followed it, and realised he was following the path of a spider. "You mean those assholes who attacked you?"
She nodded. "They looked exactly like you," she divulged. Archie hummed. "Basically."
"Cheryl said they're the demonic versions of us," he explained. "As cliche as it sounds, they're pretty much our vampire counterparts, the evil sides that we never merged with."
"Yeah. When Cheryl bit us, we became fledglings, which is only supposed to be temporary. But she felt sorry for us, and let us keep our souls. The doppelganger that kidnapped you? He was Jughead without a soul. He's an illusion, sure. But he's pretty much a vision of what Jughead could be if he gave into the craving," Archie frowned at the floor, his lip curling. "The doppelganger is a fully fledged newborn vampire with full vampire abilities and a taste for human blood. If you think Jughead was bad when you first saw he was a vamp, that dude is crazy. He's purely driven by the craving for blood, and he's even crazier now it's out of reach. The only way for him to survive is through Jughead."
His gaze flicked to her. "If Jug ever drank human blood. Hell, if any of us did, we'd cease to exist. Since really, we're the logical parts of this body. The soul, that still thinks, still loves. Still has a filter. It’s what makes us fledglings, and the difference between a vampire and a fledgling is that we still have souls."
Betty thought back to when Jughead showed her his reflection. She'd caught his smile, that gleam in his eye that still looked human. She bit her lip. "And that's who they are." she said softly, ice flooding her veins. "They're you, but without a soul?"
He nodded grimly. "And without our souls we're monsters." Archie gave a mirthless laugh. "But we'll survive. Me, Jug and Ronnie." his eyes twinkled, and she wondered if he really was drunk on not even half a can of beer. "Betty Cooper, you're officially a member of Lodge House, so we'll protect you." when she could only frown at him, struggling to deal with his sudden burst of optimism, he reached for the beer can and took another sip, screwing his face up. This time he didn't spit. When she gave him an inquisitive look, he chuckled. "I'm starting to tolerate it." he said, when she raised her eyebrows.
"Are you sure?" Betty found herself grinning. His smiles were contagious. Archie's story was tragic, and underneath the kind smiles and warm eyes he was a monster trying his upmost to stay human, to stay thinking. Loving. Feeling. Having a soul meant everything to him and the others. And he was totally, irrevocably in love with Veronica Lodge. Betty knew it from first meeting him. The way he teased her, looked at her. The guy was googly eyes for the girl, and the only means of intimacy they had was shared with others.
Archie smirked at her. "Is that a challenge, Betty?"
She ran a hand through tangles of her hair. "Jughead said you guys can't eat human food or drink," she nodded at the can. "I'm guessing that includes beer?"
"Are you kidding? Jug and I have been trying to keep human food and drink down, and I swear I'm getting somewhere!" Archie jumped up, raising the can. "Observe." he shook the can. It sounded half full. "I bet you I can down this whole thing without throwing up."
"Done." Betty found herself saying. She could hardly believe that this was her life. Challenging a vampire or 'fledgling' to a drinking bet.
Archie took another gulp of beer, but this time he spluttered, spitting it everywhere. Betty rolled her eyes.
"Urgh, it's too much," Archie dropped the can, grimacing.
"So you admit it?"
"You can't tolerate beer." the redhead almost like the younger brother she'd never had. Well, there had been Chic. But he moved away with her father when she eight years old. Betty had never gotten chance to properly meet him. Though strangely, she finally felt like she was having sibling rivalry with her undead roommate. Archie pulled a face.
"Why don't you try it? It's strong stuff."
Betty rubbed her eyes. Damn, she was tired. After talking with Archie, her nightmare was buried deep in the crevices of her mind, and losing herself in slumber was suddenly appealing. "I'm good, thanks." she managed a smile, and Archie grinned.
"Oh sure, you laugh when I can't keep it down, yet you won't step up to the challenge?"
"Maybe another time." Betty said quickly, jumping up. She was about to bid goodnight to the redhead before the door opened, a sleepy looking Jughead peeking his head through. The boy was in pyjama pants and nothing else, his raven dark hair sticking up everywhere.
Betty felt her cheeks redden slightly. Jughead looked good. More than good. She found herself staring wide-eyed at his toned chest, post sex/feeding hair she suddenly wanted to run her hands through. She thought back to the noises from last night, and her cheeks burned brighter. Jughead frowned at the redhead, squinting through fraying lashes. "Arch, why'd you leave us?" the boy's voice was a whine, and Betty couldn't help thinking it was adorable.
"You know how uncomfortable I get when you're not there."
Archie smiled apologetically. "Sorry Jug, I got restless and wanted to clear my head."
Jughead looked confused, blinking rapidly, before his gaze found Betty. Then the can of beer turned over on the floor, spilling ruby coloured liquid.
"Oh." Jughead cleared his throat, grogginess and childlike confusion making way for amusement.
When Betty risked glancing at him, her cheeks still a smouldering inferno, he was grinning. "What's going on here?" Jughead nodded at Archie teasingly, folding his arms across his chest. "Have you managed to deafen our new roommate yet?"
Archie shot the boy the middle finger. "Please. I brought music to her ears."
Jughead leaned into the door-frame casually. "See, this is why we kicked him out out the lounge, Betty," he rolled his eyes at the redhead. "He won't stop going on about how good he is, and always plays depressing songs." Jughead smirked. "Which kinda dampens the mood."
"I play uplifting songs!" Archie argued. "Remember last week?"
The raven-head scoffed. He was playing with a loose curl trickling in his eye, twining it around his finger. "You played Coldplay!"
"Coldplay aren't a depressing band!"
Jughead was enjoying himself. He never took his eyes off her, and it reminded Betty of when she'd first caught him feeding on the kitchen floor.
It was obvious the boy liked to show off. "Betty," he smirked at her. She wondered if he could sense her frenzied heart beat.
What about her thoughts? Was there a way to shut her thoughts up? "Do you think Coldplay are a depressing band?"
Betty frowned at the two boys. Both of them looked determined to prove the other wrong.
She gave a dismissive wave of her hand. "They're mixed, I think?" Betty smiled easily at her roommates. Looking at them now, she wouldn't even guess they were vampires. "They play uplifting and depressing songs." she curled her lip into a smile. "So you're both right."
Jughead smiled in agreement. "Thank you Betty, the voice of reason." his gaze lingered on her, and Archie sent the boy a teasing smile.
"You love my singing, really."
"Debatable." Jughead rolled his eyes. "Anyway, Cheryl's here."
Archie's eyes widened. "She is? But didn't we just feed?" Betty must have looked confused. She assumed Cheryl was still upstairs, but clearly not.
Jughead shrugged. "She went home to sort something out. I don't know what it is, she never tells us anything."
The sound of the door flying open downstairs made all three of them jump. Before Archie or Jughead could move, she was already making her way downstairs, taking two steps at a time. Cheryl was standing at the bottom, glaring at her in usual Cheryl fashion. The girl was dressed in jeans and a tight red t shirt, a bound black jacket slung over the top. Her red hair was pulled into a ponytail, trickling down her back.
Betty forced a smile. "Hi, Betty Cooper," she waved at the girl, who looked taken aback.
"Look, I might not have glowing eyes and a taste for human blood, but I'm a member of Lodge House too okay?"
Cheryl curled her lip. "Are you a fledgling, Betty Cooper?" she growled.
Betty frowned. "No, didn't I just say-"
"Well get out of my way then!" Cheryl pushed past her, starting towards the stairs. But the others appeared almost instantly.
Veronica was in a robe, her dark hair a fluffy mess in her eyes. "Cheryl?" the girl cocked her head. "Didn't we just feed?"
Cheryl shook her head. "That's not why I'm here," she said quickly. "Look, The Rowdy Three must have told my mother about you, and I'm sorry, I can't do anything about it." her voice broke, and Betty wondered if the girl was actually going to cry. "Listen to me," Cheryl started to say. "My mother is impossible-" she trailed off when the door to Lodge House opened once more, a tall woman with short red hair in a pixie cut and beautiful features strode across the threshold. She wore a fur coat twisted around a long black dress tailing behind her. The woman reminded Betty of Cruella de Vil.
"Children of night!" the woman cooed, her eyes on Archie, Jughead and Veronica. The three of them didn't move.
When neither of them spoke, she smiled at them. "My name is Penelope Blossom, I'm Cheryl's mother. Is there a room we can sit and have a chat?"
After a small beat of silence, Veronica nodded, and led the woman upstairs and into the lounge. Cheryl's mother took a seat on the couch, politely declining a cup of tea. Jughead, Veronica and Archie stood in front of her, while Betty and Cheryl leaned against the far wall. "You look different than when I last saw you," the woman remarked, eyeing Jughead. The boy was frowning at her warily, his arms folded.
"No." Cheryl glared at her mother. "How many times do I have to tell you? It was their doppelgangers who came to see you, and they're MY fledglings."
The woman's expression hardened. "I do believe they share your blood, which is Blossom. Which makes them Blossom's and in fact, my new children."
Jughead choked out a laugh. "Look, we're not anyone's children, okay?" his gaze was on Cheryl's mother. "We appreciate you wanting to take us in, or whatever, but we prefer living here as fledglings." he said. "We have no interest in becoming vampires."
Cheryl's mother cocked her head. "Oh, but you're so malnourished!" she squeaked. "Look at you, you're skin and bones!" Betty might have been seeing things, but Cheryl's mother actually looked worried for them. She stood up and walked over to Jughead, pinching his cheeks. The boy pulled away, snarling softly. "See! Look how pale you are!"
Cheryl's mother sat back down. "I think my daughter has misunderstood. Fledglings only have a small life-span. It depends on what they drink as a substitute to human blood, but you three cannot live off of my daughter's blood. It's simply impossible."
Jughead rubbed his cheek, rolling his eyes. "I feel fine." he muttered. "We fed a few hours go, and I feel like I could run a marathon."
Penelope studied him, her eyes dark. "You're lying." she murmured. "You're in the last days of your fledgling life, you should be barely able to stand."
"Well I'm standing aren't I?"
"Jug, shut up," Veronica whispered. Her dark eyes were on Penelope. Betty noticed the girl was leaning into Archie, and the redhead was stiff. "What do you mean?"
Cheryl's mother chuckled. "What I mean, child, is that if you do not drink human blood, you will die. Simple as that. If your vampire counterparts have already appeared, that means you don't have much time. They're a sign that your body is unable to live without proper sustenance. Your doppelgangers are part of you and you can't turn them away. You can either feed from a human and merge with them naturally, or you'll die for real." the woman's smile made Betty's stomach twist into knots.
"And trust me, a fledgling's death it most unpleasant. Your bodies will reject the change, and you'll purge your organs."
Cheryl went pale. Clearly she didn't know what her mother was saying. The three fledglings looked disgusted and afraid, which seemed to delight the woman further. "Might I add," Penelope cleared her throat. Her smile was smug. "The three of you are Blossom's now, and I won't have freshly turned children of night reduced to tacky fledglings."
Jughead shook his head. "I don't care," he said softly. "I'm not becoming a monster." his gaze settled on Betty, and she saw true fear light up his expression. Her heart pounded.
"I'm not becoming him."
Penelope sighed. "You want to keep your souls," she murmured, and the three of them nodded eagerly. Cheryl scoffed. "Oh, please! Don't give them false hope."
"Do be quiet Cheryl," the woman rolled her eyes. "Hmm, there is one way." her gaze landed on Betty, and Penelope's lips stretched into a smile. "Oh, you already have a snack." She could only stare back helplessly. Cheryl sighed. "She's their friend, mother."
Penelope nodded. "Right. Fair enough. Well, there is one way to keep your souls and still become a vampire," she said.
Jughead's eyes lit up. "How?" he demanded. Archie nodded, pulling Veronica close. "We'll do anything, Miss Blossom."
Cheryl's mother nodded. "That's to be expected, young man." she drew in a breath.
"Nephilim blood should do the trick."
"What?" Cheryl hissed. "Are you serious, mom-"
"Cheryl, I won't tell you again," Penelope warned her daughter. She smiled brightly at the three fledglings. "Just like vampires, there are another supernatural race of beings who live among us," she explained. "They're called Nephilim. Half Angel and half human." the woman smiled widely. "They are beautiful beings, the result of humans drinking the blood of Azazel. Nephilim and vampires have lived in harmony for centuries."
"How can they save us?" Jughead asked, his voice bordering on a growl. His eyes had softened, and Betty suddenly wanted to grab hold of his hand, squeezing for dear life. The way Cheryl's mother was speaking, it seemed like the boy didn't have much time, and she wanted to go to him, try and reassure him that everything was going to be okay. His expression was playing with her heart strings. There must be a way to save his, Archie and Veronica's souls.
Penelope straightened up. "It's said that a Nephilim's blood can act as an alternative to human blood. One whiff of it can send a vampire crazy. It's a thousand times more addictive than that of a human," she nodded at Jughead. "You'd still complete the change and become full vampires, but the Nephilim blood inside you should be able to keep your soul intact. Therefore, you'll be fully vampires, as well a smidge Nephilim."
Cheryl sucked in a breath. The girl looked like was about to say something, her cheeks burning scarlet, before Penelope continued. "If you drink from a human, though?" her gaze swivelled to Betty, and she flinched. "I'm afraid you'll lose yourselves"
"Betty is off the cards," Cheryl growled. "Like I said, she's their friend, or whatever."
Penelope cackled. "Oh no, not the blonde." she cocked her head at Betty, her green eyes shining with glee. "They need pure human blood, after all."
Something inside Betty twisted. Her heart stammered.
Cheryl glanced at her, before frowning at her mother. "What? Mom, what are you trying to say?"
Suddenly the woman was standing up, towering over the five of them. "I know your game, child," she hissed at Betty. "Hide in plain sight and surprise them, am I right?" if Betty had been looking at Cheryl, she might have seen the look of surprise cross the girl's face, quickly clouded with fear.
"What?" Betty managed to choke out.
But she wasn't looking at Cheryl. Instead, her gaze was on Penelope, who had pulled out a vial of vermilion liquid. It reminded her of red wine. Jughead's eyes widened, and everything seemed to blur together in fast motion. Betty saw Penelope remove the stopper in the vial, and Cheryl's shriek deafened her.
It was a pained screech quickly morphing into a snarl of anger. "Mom, that's human!" the girl dived forwards, but Penelope easily shoved her daughter back, Cheryl flying into the wall, crumpling into a heap.
Betty couldn't move. She was frozen. Archie and Veronica were edging towards Cheryl, whining softly. Archie was right. Even if one of their own was in danger, they'd always protect Cheryl. The redhead managed to jump up, baring her teeth at her mother.
"Nephilim blood!" Penelope was laughing, grabbing Jughead in a choke hold. The boy struggled wildly, his eyes flashing red, fangs sticking out in a predatory snarl, but the woman held on. "Nephilim blood is the stuff of legends! Fairy tales! Honestly, you kids believe everything these days. Do you know how rare Nephilim are these days? I haven't seen one until today!" she giggled manically.
“Did you really think I'd allow you to drink from a Nephilim when I have three potential newborn Blossom's? Oh you're sorely mistaken." Before Jughead could squirm from her grip, she was forcing the vial between his lips. At first he shook his head with a strangled yell. "No!" but she forced it in again. Betty felt her heart stop when the first splashes of ruby liquid pooled on his lip. The fight went from his eyes, and he relaxed in the woman's grip. "That's it..." Penelope crooned. "Drink, sweetheart. You must be ravenous."
He did. He drank deep, spluttering, growling, whining for more. Penelope pulled out a second and third vial, removing the stoppers and pouring them on the floor. Jughead fell to his knees, his eyes ignited, lapping up the scarlet pool. Archie followed, his eyes vacant. The warmth, the kindness in his eyes, had been drowned by a look of greed, of hunger that was eating the boy up. The three of them fell over each other, slipping and sliding. Betty couldn't look away. But it was like watching a car crash in slow motion.
"Betty," Cheryl turned to her, snarling. The girl's voice broke into a sob. "Get the hell out of here."
"I can't..." Betty whispered. She swallowed hard.
"Betty, whoever they were, they're gone." Cheryl said, gritting her teeth. "Do you want them to tear you apart?" Betty didn't answer. She only watched Jughead press his face into the floor, mindlessly slurping the growing pool of red. She half expected him to look up, a smile curving on his lips. "Scared, Betty Cooper?" he'd grin.
But he paid no attention to her. Cheryl's mother watched the three of them with a proud smile. "Now," Penelope turned to Betty, her eyes flashing, smiling widely. "As for the young-"
Cheryl pulled her out of the lounge before the woman could finish her sentence. The two girls stumbled downstairs. Betty's head was spinning. She felt like she was riding a carousel. All she could think about was Jughead. She'd lost him. The boy he had been, the smiling kind-eyed fledgling who teased her. He was gone, replaced by the monster who had kidnapped her. "Maybe- maybe they're still them?" she gasped out.
"Bullshit," Cheryl sounded like she was pain. "The connection I had with them, it's severing," the girl let out a soft gasp.
"We need to find somewhere to go," Cheryl was breathless. "If my mother doesn't catch us, they will. They'll track your scent." they pushed through the front door, out into the cool night air. It was still dark. Betty stumbled over to Archie's car. She had a vague memory of the boy tossing her his keys when they got back last night. When she shoved her hand in her pocket, she felt them and pulled them out. "What do you mean they'll track my scent?" she managed to choke out, sticking the key in the door. But her hands were shaking. "It's not- it's not opening!"
"Because it's locked, you moron!"
Cheryl punched the window, sticking her arm through and jimmying the lock from the inside. Betty jumped into the drivers seat, and Cheryl crawled into the back, still moaning softly, sobbing into her arms. "I need blood," she rasped.
Betty held her breath before pulling up her sleeve. "I'll only turn if we exchange blood, right? Take mine."
The girl groaned, lifting her head up. Her cheeks were tear stained. "Are you serious? Ew! I'm not drinking from you, even if you were my last food source. Besides, I can't drink from you, it would..." the girl hesitated. "Complicate things."
The car thankfully started up when she twisted the keys in the ignition. "Complicate things how?" Betty managed to set the car into motion, while keeping a close eye on Cheryl, who was growing paler and paler by the minute. "It just will," the girl pressed her face into the leather seats. "Betty, I need human blood now. Once a fledgling connection is cut, it's agony," the girl whispered. strands of her scarlet hair were stuck to pale cheeks. "Please, just get me some human blood."
"Cheryl, I’m human!" Betty hissed through gritted teeth, making a turn. It was getting progressively harder to tolerate the girl’s attitude. Especially in a life’s or death situation. The streets weren't too crowded. In her foggy mind, Kevin's flat wasn't that far away. It was just by the college. She risked a glance in the car's mirror. "Why aren't they following us?" she demanded.
Cheryl mumbled into her arms. "They'll nap after feasting," she whimpered. "Then when they wake up they'll go on a hunt."
"For me." Betty said softly, and the girl scoffed. "Don't be so full of yourself, not just you. They're mindless newborns without souls, they'll leap on anyone."
When Betty turned to frown at her, Cheryl sighed. "But, yes. Mainly you. You heard my mother, Nephilim blood makes us go crazy. Which is why I can't feed from you even if I wanted to. I'd lose it and drain you dry."
The girl's words didn't make any sense. Betty gripped the steering wheel, blinking back tears. This was too much.
"I'm not- I'm not a Nephilim!" she whispered, and Cheryl rolled her eyes. "Why do you think I tried to get you kicked out of the flat? Your scent was driving me up the wall. I wasn't sure until my mother confirmed it. You don't exactly strike me as a half angel, I mean look at you. You're just a boring mundane."
"I can't be!" Betty gasped out. She couldn't be. Her family was squeaky clean with a boring history. There had been no mention of angels, or special powers.
"Suck it up, Cooper. Besides, don't Supernatural's attract other Supernatural's? In this case, Lodge House is a beacon for them."
Betty spluttered. "Are you crazy? Cheryl, I think I'd know if-" her words were cut off when something hit the car roof, and she couldn't resist a scream hurtling from her lips. Cheryl sat bolt upright, her eyes glowing amber. "They're here," she muttered. "I can smell them."
Both girls sat in silence. Betty pressed her hand over her nose and mouth to stifle her gasps for breath. Cheryl let out a soft breath.
"I'm too weak to fight them," she hissed. "I'm sorry, Betty. I might hate you, but I really didn't want to see you torn apart."
Thanks. She thought sourly.
After a while of sitting in silence, half waiting for the car itself to be lifted into the air, Betty jumped when a figure appeared in the passenger window. She recognised him automatically. Jughead. How could she not?
His mouth and chin were smeared scarlet, the boy’s eyes glowing newborn amber.
Run. She thought desperately.
Or in this case... drive.
But Betty could only stare at him, paralyzed, trying to find his kind eyes. The smile she had quickly learned to love. Her palms were glued to the steering wheel, but she couldn’t bring herself to step on the gas. It felt like lightyears had gone by, before he tapped on the window, pressing his face against the glass. “Betty Cooper!" his voice was different, more husky. Dangerous. He grinned widely, flashing his fangs and cocking his head. "Can we talk?"
Chapter 6: Aureola
10 Years Ago.
No matter how hard the small boy knocked on the girl's bathroom door, eight year old Elizabeth Cooper made no move towards it. Her mother had always taught her to be brave, but she was struggling not to cry out. Instead she stayed planted in front of the mirrors stretched across white marble walls. In the basin in front of her were scarlet tinged feathers floating in warm water. Elizabeth had done her best to try and stop them, but they kept coming, one after the other, more and more bloodied as they came, covered in red paint. At least she told herself that. It was paint. What splattered the feathers and covered her from head to toe was paint. But then there were the feathers, and they hurt. They hurt so much, she wanted to scream. She swallowed, squeaking softly when that same stabbing pain climbed its way up her back as another scarlet feather dropped to the floor. She watched it fall, following its descent before landing on her pink flats.
Her reflection was as frightened as her. A small blonde girl with pigtails and blue eyes, tears staining pale cheeks. Her favourite pink dress was torn. Elizabeth held her breath. "Go away." she whimpered, squeezing her eyes shut. The dress she loved was ruined. Trembling, Elizabeth turned around so she could see her back, see the twin slits sticking from her spine. She traced her fingers over the indentations in her pale skin, her eyes widening in horror when she felt her own warm blood slide down her fingertips.
"No," she whimpered softly, grabbing toilet paper with scarlet hands, trying to turn on the faucet. But her scarlet fingers just slipped on the metal, making an even bigger mess. Elizabeth swallowed hard. She had seen fairy princesses on TV, watched them fly around, swoop and twirl in a bright, cornflower coloured sky. But this was different. Her favourite princesses had sparkling wings that were different colours. The tiny appendages that were sticking out of her back were too sharp to touch, their edges like razors. These couldn't be wings. Her very own wings. Elizabeth did have a vivid imagination and liked to imagine herself with the powers of a fairy princess, but she knew that they weren't real. Even at eight years of age, she knew there was no such thing.
So how could this be possible? Elizabeth stared, unblinking at herself. Then at the gathering of white and grey feathers tinged with blood in the sink and on the floor. She longed to call for a teacher, but surely she would get in trouble for making a mess, as well as the state of her dress that had been torn when knives had sprung through her back. That's what they were. Elizabeth clenched her fists. They weren't wings, they were knives. She risked touching them again, delicately stroking them with the tip of her finger. "Ow!" she pressed her hand over her mouth, fighting back another scream. The knives were hurting her. They were hurting so much, and she couldn't stop them. Because when Elizabeth tried to push them back in, they pricked her, like the needle the doctor used to give her a shot when she was sick. Her hands were bloody from trying, and yet they kept growing, expanding like monsters slowly burrowing from inside her.
The boy knocked again, then again- more violently. "Did you have an accident?"
Elizabeth's cheeks burned bright. She clutched her bloody dress, tears welling in her eyes. The feathers were still floating around her in a bloody whirlwind, after she'd panicked, trying to forcefully pull them out of the bleeding gashes. "No!" she squeaked. "I said I'm okay! Just leave me alone!" she expected him to give up, but the boy just giggled. His face was muffled, as if he was pressing it against the wood of the door.
"Hey, you've been in there a really long time," Elizabeth didn't know the boy very well. Elizabeth had been happily drawing flowers before the sudden stabbing pains in her back, drawing the breath from her lungs. She`d had ran out of the classroom and locked herself in the girl's bathroom just before they appeared; knives in the shape of feathers slicing through her dress. "I said go away!" she yelled, gripping the marble counter. It wasn't just the bathroom that was a mess. There were smears of red all over her cheeks and lips, as if she'd used herself as a canvas for finger painting. Her dress was ripped at the back, and she'd torn at her pigtails with her fingernails, strands of gold straying in her eyes. If the boy was to come in, he'd definitely tell Miss Grundy on her.
There was a pause, before; "I'm telling Miss Grundy." his voice was smug, and Elizabeth felt like throwing balled up toilet paper at him. Instead she sunk to the floor and pulled her knees to her chest. "Please don't!" she managed to choke out, pressing her face into her lap. There was an exaggerated sigh on the other side of the door. The small girl started to cry again, gulping down sobs racking her chest. If they told her mom, she'd get mad. Alice Cooper got mad if she played in the dirt, what would she do if she saw the state of her dress? Elizabeth cried harder. "I'm okay, I swear!" she gasped.
"What's wrong with you?" the boy asked. "You looked very sick back in class. Are you sick?"
Elizabeth wiped her eyes, flinching when she smeared her bloody hands over her eyes. She wiped them on her dress quickly. "There are-" she bit her lip. "There are things growing out of my back," she whimpered. "and I don't- I don't know what to do."
"Really?" the boy said excitedly. "Like wings?"
Elizabeth shook her head, swallowing sobs. They weren't wings. They couldn't be. But despite her frenzied thoughts a little piece of her wished they were. "No, they're hurting me," she whispered. "They hurt so much, and I'm - I'm scared." her fingernails dripped claret when she irritably scratched at her back once more.
A pause, before; "Can I come in?" his voice was soft now. "I promise I won't tell the teacher. I want to help."
"No." she shook her head, blonde curls whipping her cheeks. "No, it's too scary."
"Elizabeth, I'm not scared of anything," the boy sounded like he was grinning. "I watched a scary film with my dad at Christmas and I found it funny."
"Please," she managed to say. "Just stay out." Elizabeth paused, crinkling her brow. "But keep speaking to me. I don't want you to go."
"Fine. But you've gotta let me in Lizzie." Elizabeth frowned at the nickname. She lifted her head, blowing strands of hair from her eyes. The pain had dulled slightly, but the ever pressing feeling of the knives protruding from her spine only got worse. "My name isn't Lizzie," she said, with an edge to her tone. "It's Elizabeth."
He giggled. "It's a nickname, silly. Just like my name is a nickname."
"What's your name?" she asked, curious. The boy always drew pictures with her. They would sit in peaceful silence and create their own masterpieces with crayon and felt tip pen, only speaking to each other when it was absolutely necessary. Elizabeth had never properly spoken to him, or even acknowledged his name. All she knew was that he liked to draw scary pictures; skulls and monsters crawling out from under a scribbled bed. He drew vampires and demon snowmen while she liked to draw flowers and glittering rainbows.
"My name is Forsythe." he said proudly. "Forsythe Pendleton Jones."
Elizabeth couldn't help giggling. "That's a funny name," she said. The pain was dulling, and when she gingerly touched her back, the knifes had stopped growing. She could feel them awkwardly sticking out of her; two tatty feathery appendages that looked very much liked wings. But they were too sharp to touch. The wings furled around the little girl, almost looking like they were protecting her. "Are you okay now?" Forsythe asked.
She shook her head. "I don't know what's happening to me, Forsythe," she whimpered, burrowing into herself. Every time she moved there was a stabbing pain that rattled down her spine, coercing another scream from her dry lips. "It hurts," she swallowed a sob.
"Don't worry Elizabeth. I'll stay with you," a pause. "Are you sure you don't want me to come in?"
"Yes," she mumbled after a moment. "I- I mean yes, you can come in Forsythe."
The door opened almost as soon as she had uttered the words, and Elizabeth shrunk into herself. There were soft footsteps, followed by a gasp.
"Oh." she looked up to see Forythe. He was a small stocky boy with golden skin and a mess of brown curls sticking from a knitted beanie. His cheeks were flushed red, green eyes wide with excitement. But he didn't look scared. A grin spread across his lips. He froze for a moment, taking in the sight in front of him; Elizabeth Cooper sitting on tiles splattered with red, fluffy feathers gathered around her. He wasn't looking at her blood stained, torn dress, or her terrified blue eyes welled with tears when she looked up to meet his gaze. He was looking at the things sprouting from her back. The girl looked disgusted, refusing to acknowledge them. But they had taken Forsythe's breath away. They were beautiful; pearly white wings stained shades of crimson, furled around her.
Forsythe let out a soft breath. "Wow," he giggled, and Elizabeth narrowed her eyes at him. "It's not funny!" she squeaked. "It hurts!"
"But you're-" he struggled to say the word. "Elizabeth, you're an angel!" he clapped his hands excitedly, bouncing up and down. But the girl shook her head. "No, they're not-" she trailed off when the boy started laughing. "Stop laughing!"
Forsythe grinned. "Sorry," he giggled. "I've just never seen a real angel before." he shrugged. "My dad says mom became an angel when she got sick."
It took a second for Elizabeth to understand what the boy meant. "Oh." she said softly, playing with her hands in her lap. She didn't dare move, in fear of the pain worsening.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled. "I'm sure your mommy is a pretty angel."
Forsythe's lip curled. "Like you." his cheeks had gone a light rosy, and Elizabeth found herself smiling. The boy came to kneel in front of her. "Can I touch them?" he whispered.
She shook her head. "No, they're too spiky." she said. She held out her cut up hands to show him, but gasped softly, when she saw the smears of red decorating her fingers, as well as the scary cuts in her palms, were gone. Her hands were back to normal. Elizabeth stared down at them, confusion riddling her mind. Forsythe cocked his head, raising his brow. "I don't understand," he took her hands, smiling brightly. "Is there something I should be looking at?"
"Yes," she said softly. "My hands..." she trailed off when the door flew open once more. Forsythe jumped to his feet, his eyes growing wide. But it wasn't Miss Grundy or the principal. Elizabeth let out a breath of relief. Polly. Her older sister. She went to Riverdale High, a few blocks from the kindergarten. A teenage girl hurried through, shadowed by a boy of the same age with flaming red hair and pale skin. "Betty!" the girl had the same golden hair, this time held in a ponytail. She wore a bright yellow blouse and pale blue jeans. Forsythe stared at the strange girl, his mouth dropping open. "Are you an angel too?" he whispered excitedly. For a moment, Polly Cooper looked startled at the state of her sister, but quickly shook her head, snapping out of it. The teenage blonde dropped down to her knees in front of the Elizabeth, wrapping her arms around the eight year old. "Polly." Elizabeth whimpered. "What's happening to me?"
Polly pulled away from Betty, before turning to Forsythe, who was frowning at her, his head cocked. "Sweetie, could you go back to class?" the girl murmured, and when the boy shook his head stubbornly, she sighed. "Jay, can you take care of him?"
The redheaded boy nodded, walking over to Forsythe. The boy didn't try and run away or protest. He only stared, wide-eyed as the teenage boy stopped in front of him before pressing his fingers to his temples. "You didn't see anything," the boy murmured. "Go back to class, and forget about Betty Cooper. Forget everything you saw."
"Wait!" Elizabeth squeaked. She didn't want him to forget her! But the damage had already been done. Forythe blinked when the boy removed his fingers from his temples, before turning and leaving without a word. Polly nodded a thanks to the redhead before turning her attention back to Betty. She wiped away the girl's tears with her thumb before cradling her cheeks. "Betty, sweetheart, you're going to be brave for me, okay?"
Elizabeth swallowed hard. "What's happening?" she whispered. "Polly, I don't understand."
Polly smiled. "It's just your wings," she said. "They're blossoming early, and there's nothing to be afraid of, sweetie. I went through it too."
Elizabeth stared at her sister, baffled. "You have wings too?" she squeaked, and Polly grinned. "Of course I do!" she chuckled. "Trust me, it might seem scary now, but when you get older, it'll seem like the best thing ever, I promise."
She shook her head. "I'm ugly," the girl whispered. "I don't know how to make them go away, and they hurt, Polly," Elizabeth choked on a sob. "They hurt so much."
Polly nodded. "I know they do," she said softly. "But you're not ugly, they're just coming through early." Polly's lips curved into a smile. "You're beautiful, Elizabeth. And look what you'll be able to do." she closed her eyes, before letting them flicker open. Though they weren't their usual pale blue, this time golden light circled her iris. But it wasn't just her eyes. Betty stared, baffled, as the light seemed to fill her sister. The tips of her hair glowed bright, a warm aura beginning to grow around her. It was beautiful, almost hypnotising. Polly lifted up a glowing hand, and after hesitating, Betty pressed her own hand against it. The light seemed to glow brighter around the girl, until it swamped the bathroom, bathing everything in the same heavenly allure. Elizabeth couldn't help giggling. The pain was gone, and she wasn't hurting anymore.
"What is it?" she whispered excitedly, her blue eyes wide.
Polly smiled. "It's called an aureola," she said, and when Elizabeth only looked more confused, she laughed. "It's our halo. With practise, you can control it."
Elizabeth pouted. "I don't have an Oreo," she mumbled. She was half hoping if she too closed her eyes, she could create the light just like her sister. Polly cleared her throat and the light flashed out of existence, fading from her eyes. All that was left were glittering sparks Elizabeth watched flit around the girl's iris. "Aureloa," she corrected, with a smile. "Yours won't manifest until you're older," she explained. The girl's expression darkened. "Elizabeth, you blossomed early, which is..." the girl shrugged. "There's no way of sugar-coating it, I'm afraid. Young Nephilim won't be able to deal with the growth of wings, or their newly found halo, and..." she took her sister's hands and squeezed them tightly. "There are bad people out there who want to steal our grace, and will do anything in their power to get what they want."
Elizabeth nodded slowly, a frown creasing her expression. "People want to hurt us?"
"Yes," Polly said. "Bad people, Elizabeth. That's why you need to hide your wings for as long as possible. It's too dangerous to blossom now."
The small girl nodded. "And mommy?" she whispered. "What about mommy?"
"Mom can never know," Polly said, her tone hardening. "She's human, and has no idea about any of this. We need to keep it that way, and that's why we're going to make you forget."
"Make me forget?" Elizabeth's eyes widened, but Polly held her gently. "This is Jason," she gestured to the boy, who waved awkwardly. "He's going to help you, sweetie."
The redheaded boy came over, joining the two on the floor. He had warm, gentle brown eyes, but his skin was so pale. Like a ghost. "Hello Betty," he smiled, and he had incredibly sharp teeth. "I'm going to make the pain go away, alright?"
"Your teeth are scary," she said, and Jason chuckled. "I get that a lot," he nudged Polly, who rolled her eyes. "Jason has a very special power," she said, smiling reassuringly. "How long do you think it'll be until she blossom's again?" Polly asked Jason, who shrugged. He was frowning at her, a certain gleam in his eyes that she didn't like. "My best bet is her late teens, early twenties. I can only suppress it a certain amount of time, before my abilities won't work on her anymore."
Polly hummed. "It needs to be as far back as possible," she said. "I want her to live a normal life, at least for her teenage years."
He quirked a brow. "You do realise that's impossible, right Pol? I can mask her scent from my kind, and sure it'll work for a few years, but one day, like I said, she'll fully manifest, wings and all, and it'll be out of my hands."
Elizabeth didn't understand what her sister and Jason were talking about, but she didn't like it. The girl leaned back, flinching. "Will it hurt?" she couldn't stop staring at his teeth. They reminded him of the monster Forsythe had been drawing with black and purple crayons, adding red dripping from scary zig-zag teeth. "Nah, it'll just feel like falling asleep," he said, flashing her another grin. Elizabeth whimpered softly.
"Jay, you're scaring her," Polly muttered. "Elizabeth, it's okay. You can trust him."
Jason nodded. "Don't worry about my teeth, they're just naturally spiky," he winked, and after hesitating, she let him press his fingers into her temples. They were so cold. She fought against pulling away, instead peering at him curiously. "You'll make them go away?" she whispered. "The- the knives in my back, you'll make them disappear?"
Jason smiled. "That's right, kid. Just like they never existed."
"And the feathers?" she said shakily, her gaze going to Polly, who suddenly looked sad. Betty wanted to speak, but suddenly she felt so incredibly tired.
"And the feathers." Jason's voice echoed in her ears, before a warm feeling spread over her, filling her up. She was only half conscious of Polly's soft sob, before she fell. But it was a graceful fall, almost as if she had proper wings, that weren't made of knives. This time they were white and fluffy, streaked bright pink and purple.
Ten minutes later, Elizabeth returned to class, eagerly jumping back into her seat to finish her drawing. Forsythe didn't look up from his work, and she felt no need to speak to him. When she glanced at what he was drawing, she felt a tug in her chest.
The boy was drawing an angel. She had long golden blonde hair, and a sparkling halo above her head. The angel had a huge smile, but there were smudges of red all over her wings. She smiled politely. "That's pretty." she said. But what's the red supposed to be?"
Forsythe looked up. "Thanks," he sent her a toothy smile. "It's my mom," he dropped the red crayon he'd been using, as if he'd just realised what he was doing, his eyes widening. Elizabeth watched the crayon roll across the table before dropping on the floor. The boy made no move to grab it, instead frowning at the drawing of his mother intently, his eyebrows creasing. "I don't know," he mumbled before turning to her, his green eyes wide with confusion. "I don't remember using the red crayon."
A year later, Forsythe moved away. And she never spoke to him again.
Chapter 7: Hybrid
"Elizabeth Cooper," Jughead, or the thing with Jughead's face, said smoothly. His eyes were no longer striking green, warm and kind. Instead they were a burning inferno, fire circling his iris. Betty avoided the boy's gaze, her grip tightening on the steering wheel. Cheryl had gone silent in the backseat. She could almost feel the girl's pain; white hot agony running through her, igniting her veins. It was like the ribbon connecting Cheryl with her fledglings had been savagely cut, and she was left dangling, wallowing in the ghosts of their pain. But Jughead, or the demon with his face, seemed barely fazed. His gaze was on Betty, and no matter how hard she tried to avoid them, she found herself sinking into his eyes, into the raging fire. "How could I have missed that you were Nephilim?" when he leaned forward, she stiffened, shivers sliding how her spine.
The boy's words sent prickles through her, as if she was rolling in needles. She squeezed her eyes shut, swallowing a sob. "I'm not...I'm not Nephilim," she whispered, tears sliding down her cheeks. Jughead was so close. He could attack at any moment, and she was too scared to move, to stamp on the gas. "I'm human." she choked out. But Cheryl was convinced. The look Penelope had given her back at Lodge House made her gut twist. "I'm- I'm human." she said it again, as if reassuring herself. She had to be, right? Up until college, Betty had a completely normal life. Everything was ridiculously mundane. In her hometown of Riverdale, nothing ever happened. She grew up with a chip on her shoulder, the promise of college motivating her to become a teacher's pet, the perfect student.
There were no angels. No wings, no super powers. Her mother hadn't sat her down when she twelve years old and told her she was half fucking angel. Betty was human. Like Archie had said, there was nothing special about her. She was wonderfully mundane.
There was a pause and she risked opening her eyes, to be met with his fanged grin. She flinched, but didn't jump back. "Oh, but you are," his voice was like melted chocolate, dripping from his tongue. "Y'know, for an intelligent girl, you are docile aren't you?" when she tried draw back, he grabbed and pulled her back. Betty bit back a scream.
I can smell it on you, the stink of angel blood, it's like a drug to us," he boy chuckled, and she sat, rid in her seat when he leaned forward, his teeth grazing her neck. But he didn't bite. He couldn't bite. If she really was Nephilim, then Betty's blood was the only way to bring Jughead back. If Penelope Blossom wasn't lying, her blood could be what could bring her roommates back. But a thought struck her; what if it was too late? They had ingested human blood. Were they permanently newborns now? Betty wanted to look into the boy's eyes, really look at them. Was Jughead still there? Behind the raging fire, the demon that had possessed him, purged every good part of him that had been clinging on. She thought seeing him at his worst was over, catching him draining Cheryl Blossom dry on the kitchen floor. But this, oh god, this was so much worse.
The boy growled softly, his lips moving to her ear, voice an icy hiss. "You're annoyingly quiet, Betty. No wonder Jughead found you irresistible. I was there in the back of his head, waiting for him to drink you dry, little girl," when he laughed, she got the overwhelming urge to stamp on the gas, and drive. But Betty couldn't move. Her hands were clammy, stuck to the steering wheel. When Betty didn't, or rather couldn't reply, Cheryl whimpering softly in the back, the boy sprung back with an exaggerated sigh. He ran a hand through his hair, grimacing. "Anyway, that's enough of that. You may be everything I've ever craved, as well as my pathetic human counterpart, but one drop of your blood will send me back into the void, and I'm sure you can understand that I don't want that."
The vampire held out his hand for her to shake, and Betty was reminded of the first time she'd met Jughead. Except back then his eyes had been warm, amused. Teasing. The monster in front of her just looked hungry. Starving. His hand was still stained crimson, along with most of his face. The boy wasn't Jughead Jones anymore, and that fact was killing her. "I don't think I've formally introduced myself," he said, waving with another grin. "Hi, I'm Cole. Please forgive what happened earlier. I was slightly unhinged."
"Cole?" Betty couldn't help whispering. She tightened her grip on the steering wheel, sucking in a breath, and he nodded. "Yep. I named myself after a German Shepherd. I'm still figuring out names, but this one seemed ideal," he shrugged. "Besides, do you really think I want to go around referring to myself as 'Jughead'?" Cole chuckled. "I can see into the poor kid's mind. He hated his name. Before lil Juggie died, he wanted to change it when he left college," Betty flinched when his fingers curled over the broken window. He was teasing her, getting closer and closer. "His father is proud of the name, so maybe he was waiting for daddy Jones to kick it. Which I can understand."
"Betty," Cheryl growled, forcing herself into a sitting position. She was barely conscious, her red hair trickling in her face. She managed to grab hold of the seat, keeping her balance. She peered at Betty drunkenly, blinking rapidly. "In case you've gone both blind and deaf, he's not Jughead anymore," she slurred. The girl wouldn't look at him. Betty half wondered if it physically pained her to do so. Cheryl let out a shaky breath. "The idiots drank human blood, and lost their souls, and now they're my mother's newborn freaks to toy with. Get the fuck over it." she spat, and Betty had a hard time registering the girl's words. There was a roaring in her ears. Any minute. She thought, dizzily. The psycho could attack at any minute and she'd be dead. She braced herself for the attack, but it never came. The boy folded his arms, rolling his eyes.
"Says the girl who's visibly crying over them." Cole smirked at Cheryl, and the girl just sat back, gasping softly. Her eyes were flickering, agony still evident in her expression. Tears were rolling down her cheeks, and Betty felt every one. The girl was breaking apart, and Betty didn't know what to do. If Cheryl didn't drink human blood soon, she was in danger of passing out. Which, god, Betty didn't need. It was one thing being trapped in a car with a newborn vampire leaning into the window so casually, smiling at her like she was dinner. At least Cheryl was there, even if the girl looked like she was about to fall forwards. If she passed out, Betty would be alone- with the monster with her roommates face. And there was only one outcome playing out in her mind. He was going to kill her, senselessly rip into her without a second thought.
Cole just rolled his eyes. "Stop moaning over the loss of your puppies," he muttered. "Honestly, you're a Blossom princess, part of the strongest clans in the world and you're blubbering over some pathetic college students you imprinted on."
The girl groaned, sniffling. "If i didn't feel like I'd been ran over by a steamroller and buried into the ground, I would have yanked your head off by now."
Cole grinned. "Looking forward to it." he turned his attention to Betty, and she resisted against shrinking back. Drive. She told herself. Her instincts were screaming at her. "Okay, so I have a proposition," the vampire leaned casually on the window. "You either come with me and let me rip your throat out, and hey, I'll make it as painless as possible, " his eyes flashed. "or you try and run, and I'll make it a hunt."
Cole tilted his head. "Well?" his lip quirked. "What's it going to be Nephilim?"
Betty held her breath, glancing at Cheryl. The girl was still teetering onto consciousness, swaying softly in her seat. So, she was going to be no help. Her mind spun. A distraction. She needed a distraction. Staying paralysed, she allowed her gaze to explore the car, seeking out anything. Something to take him off guard or startle him. Archie's glove box was teeming with chip packets, empty bottles of Coke, and what she presumed were used scraps of tissues. When she glanced back at Cole, he was tapping his fingers on the splintered glass. “C’mon sweetheart, I haven’t got all night."
"Please," Betty swallowed back a frustrated cry. "Please leave us alone."
She only got a smirk. "Not gonna happen Betty."
The steering wheel felt sticky in her hands, but she couldn't peel her hands away. Cole's words were whirring in her mind; Surrender to him, or run, and make it some kind of sickening hunt. Betty knew if she tried to drive, if she stamped on the gas and bypassed the speeding limit, he'd still catch up. Cheryl was the only one who could save them, and she was barely awake. The girl had tipped over on the seat, resting her head in her arms. Desperation thrumming through her, Betty searched the car for anything- anything. When something caught her eye. It was on the ground by her foot; a rectangular glass bottle jutting out. It took Betty a moment to realise it was cologne. It must have been Archie’s. Slowly, she ran her hands over the leather seats, reaching towards the bottle.
At the corner of her eye, Cole was still rapping on the window, growing progressively more impatient. His eyes were on Cheryl, on her flitting eyelids that were struggling to stay open. She was rolling around. Biting her lip, Betty managed to grab the bottle, wrapping her fingers around the glass bottom, getting a a good grip. She felt around for the nozzle, hovering her index finger over the top. Betty didn't hesitate. If she did, she was dead. Choking back the fear climbing up her throat, she spun around, ready to spritz the boy in the face. But he was quick, easily knocking it out of her hand. When the vampire lunged towards her, she leapt into the passenger seat, pushing the door open and tumbling out. Betty hit the asphalt knees first, but barely felt anything. She jumped up, her breath in her throat. Kevin. Bile burned in her throat. She had to get to Kevin.
She started to run, forcing her legs into a sprint, but cold hands suddenly wrapped around her neck, and Betty let out a strangled breath. "No!" she squeaked, but he was already lifting her into the air, and she couldn't breathe. Couldn't scream. Before she could cry out, she was hitting a brick wall, and her head spun. All the breath was knocked from her lungs, and she was left to stare helplessly into his eyes.
"Betty, you idiot!" Cheryl yelled. Betty was only aware of a streak of scarlet, a blurred red figure zipping towards them. The girl snarled, diving on the vampire's back, but Jughead, or Cole, easily pushed her back with one hand, the other still squeezing the gutter of Betty's throat. Cheryl hit the ground with enough momentum to shake the earth. Betty dangled in the boy's grasp, fighting for her life, her gaze stuck to the girl, waiting for her to jump to her feet again, but Cheryl was motionless.
Cole looked barely fazed. He turned his attention back to Betty. "Nice choice," grinned widely, orange eyes glittering. "I would have chosen to hunt you too." when Betty could only gasp for oxygen, kicking her legs, the boy's grip around her throat, his fingers trailing over her cheeks, her lips. He played with strands of her hair, and she only whimpered. "Did you really think it would be that easy?" he chuckled, and she blinked rapidly, trying to peer through fluttering lashes. Her lungs were screaming, and there was nothing she could do. The vampire cocked his head, chuckling. "Sorry," when he let up the tiniest amount of pressure to her neck, Betty took her chance to suck in precious gulps of air. "Aren't you going to blast me to oblivion, Nephilim?" he teased. His fingernails dug into her throat. "Come on!" he shook her like a ragdoll.
"You shouldn't be choking, Betty. A nephilim should be able to fight their way out of my grasp," he studied her, his orange eyes narrowing. "Why are you not fighting back?"
Betty found her voice. Fight back? The best means of defence she had were her arms, but they were nothing compared to him. Her legs were useless, and she'd dropped Archie's cologne back in the car. There was no way she could fight him. "You're...you're crazy," she squeaked. "I'm not anything, just let me go!" she kicked him, but he was unperturbed. His lips twisted into a scowl. "You're the daughter of one of the most powerful beings in all of human history, and look at you," he looked disgusted. "Sorry, it’s just- you’re kinda pathetic, aren’t you? The child of an angel, and you’re powerless.”
The vampire's words hurt. Compared to Cheryl and the others, she was pathetic. But Betty had embraced her humanity, secretly revelled in being normal. But right now, her humanity was killing her. Before she could stop them, hot tears slid down her cheeks, and he rolled his eyes. "Seriously? I'm barely touching you." he peered at her, confusion riddling his expression. "Show me what you can do," he murmured. "Because you reek of angel blood, trust me. You are one, your blood is like a fucking beacon. But I find it hard to believe a puny, pathetic human like you has that kind of ability."
"I told you," Betty gritted out, struggling to squirm from his impenetrable grasp. "I'm human."
Cole frowned at her for a moment, his forehead wrinkling. "Do you want to live, Betty?"
It was a trick question. It must have been. When she didn't move or speak, he applied more pressure to her throat. It felt like the life was being sucked from her, draining down a plughole, along with her breath, her sanity. Unbelievably, this was her life now. She would give anything to go back to her old dorm, to Lucy and Gemma her roommates- even if they ignored her most of the time. Back to being completely oblivious of the existence of vampires and supernatural beings. She let out a strangled sob. Black spots invaded her vision. "Yes!" she shrieked, trying to force his leech like fingers from her neck.
"Yes!" she cried again, when he narrowed his eyes. "Yes, I- I want to live."
The smile that twisted his lips sent her heart hammering. His grip grew progressively more slack, and he leaned forward, his nostrils flaring. "You should see yourself," he smiled, and she was caught of guard for a moment. It wasn't a fanged grin, it was almost human- almost Jughead again. "You're bathing in heavenly light, sweetie," he chuckled. "Your aura is blinding. You have no idea what you're capable of, Betty Cooper."
"I don't understand," she whispered, and his smile grew, fangs sticking out once more. She shivered. For a moment, he had almost been hypnotised by her, baffled by whatever light he could see. It was bullshit. She didn't see any light. "You think we just like the taste of your blood, Nephilim?" he murmured. "Everything about you; your blood, your grace, it's like cocaine to us. One sip of your grace can send us into an endless ecstasy. Do you know how long it's been since the last Nephilim was sighted?
Betty couldn't help herself. She shook her head, and he inclined his head. "Centuries." he murmured. "The Blossom family used them as blood bags, forcing them into an eternity of slavery," he shrugged. "Some of them escape, but most go crazy. Without their grace, they're just humans, cursed with wings that will never grow. Penelope Blossom has been hunting them down ever since. She wants pure Nephilim, sweetheart, and you're all of that and more. Do you understand why I can't leave you alone?"
"You're not going to kill me," Betty growled. "You're going to hand me over to her."
Cole's eyes widened. "Oh no, I'm keeping you to myself. I don't owe you to anyone."
She stared at him, biting back a scream. "But- but you said-"
"I said I'll let you live. Yes I did." his fingers flexed around her throat. "So how about this? We both get what we want. How about I give you a choice?
She knew there was a catch, but didn't say anything.
"If I make you immortal, Elizabeth Cooper, your nephilim side will be tainted, and I'll be able to drink your blood and grace as I please, without killing you or letting Jughead Jones take over once more. We'll all be happy," he shrugged. "Except Miss Blossom of course, but I very much doubt you liked the wrinkly old bag in the first place."
Betty couldn't speak. She avoided his steely gaze, that terrifying gleam in his eyes. He was starving. Cheryl still didn't move, and Betty's gut twisted. Was she dead? Cheryl Blossom had been a thorn in her side since she moved to Blossom University. But now the girl was more of an ally, or maybe even a friend. Through the connection she had with her fledglings, Betty had been caught up in it. Betty wanted to cry out her name, try and coax Cheryl from whatever pitless vampire purgatory she'd fallen into.
But she couldn't move. She could barely even breathe.
"Well?" the boy prompted. "What's it going to be?" tilting his head, his gaze was studious, calcating. But the bastard was still smiling. "I can either turn you right here, and you'll never look back, at your humanity or Nephilim side. We can go back to Lodge House and crack open a can of beer and celebrate your fall from grace."
Never. Betty thought. She would never become something Jughead had tried to run away from, a monster Archie and Veronica were determined not to become.
"Or..." Cole seemed to enjoy her discomfort. "I can bleed you dry, and we both kick it," he leaned closer to her, his icy breath tickling her cheeks. "Trust me Betty, you might want to go with the first one. Hey, I don't mind going out with a rush of bliss. Your blood is still a drug to us, and whatever happens, I'll be tasting you."
Something ignited inside her; a cocktail of fire and ice striking through her veins. Betty gritted her teeth. "Neither." she spat. "Now let me go, asshole."
He did the opposite, squeezing her throat tighter. "Call me that again, and I'll break your windpipe," he murmured, so calmly. But his eyes were murderous. "Clear?"
"Go to Hell." she whimpered, squeaking when he lifted her a little higher, his lips brushing her neck. "I said, are we clear?"
Betty could only nod, tears streaming down her cheeks. The boy grinned. "Good! Nice to know you're on board." he released pressure once again, and Betty let herself breathe.
Cole's lip curled. "What's so bad about becoming a vampire anyway? It's a guaranteed eternity." he hummed softly. "Isn't that what you'd like? A whole eternity with your roommates?" when Betty spat at him, he sighed. "Look, I'm not much different from Jughead, I'm just what he should have been in the first place."
Betty couldn't help herself. The words were slipping from her lips before she could stop them; "You kill people!" she hissed, and Cole raised his eyebrows. "You were happy being friends with Archie and Veronica before they succumbed to thirst like every normal fledgling," he said, eyes darkening. "Trust me when I say this, Elizabeth. Your friends were dying inside. They either drank human blood or purged their organs."
Thinking back to the talk with Archie, her heart ached. "They weren't given a choice!" she whimpered, trying to ignore the boy's fangs scathing the flesh of her neck. He was teasing her. When she tried to pull away, his grip grew tighter. She let out a frustrated breath and the boy just laughed. "Jughead said he'd rather die than become you."
He scoffed. "Jughead was a coward. He tried to run away from me, and I caught up. Simple." his glare sharpened. "Anything else you want to say about your pathetic fledgling friend? Or are we done here?"
"He didn't want to die." she whispered. "You felt him, right? You knew what he was like, that he wanted to stay at least part human. He wanted to keep his soul, and you took that away from him." she tightened her fists. "You're a parasite."
Something changed in the boy's expression. His eyes went from teasing, to something entirely else. "Alright, times up." he muttered, and Betty's chest tightened, but before she could try and scream, the boy was pulling the sleeve of Jughead's jacket down, before ripping into his own flesh. Betty watched blood drip down his arm, a scarlet, glistening river running in rivulets. She watched it, tantalised. The boy let her go, abruptly, and she dropped to the ground. But she barely felt the pain. Her body was ignited by adrenaline. Something struck her, her instincts screaming at her to run, to get away from the monster. But he was straddling her before she could move, pinning her squirming arms, his fingernails digging into her. Cole glared down at her, fangs dripping claret.
"You chose this, Nephilim," he growled. His arm was oozing, and she could only stare up at him, a scream choked in the back of her throat. "Please." she managed to get out. "Don't." but the vampire held no remorse or mercy on his expression. Cole grinned, blood running down his chin. "I'll miss this," he murmured, reaching out to brush strands of her hair out of her eyes. "Plus you smell really fucking good. It's the angel blood, man. It's driving me a little crazy. "Do you know how long I've waited for this?"
Betty screamed. She screamed as loud as she could; a guttural cry, a banshee wail.
"Don't do that," he murmured, placing his hand over her mouth, gagging her cry. "Your scream is literally the equivalent of a cat being strangled. If you scream again, I'll forget our little deal and rip you open myself. Do you understand me?"
Betty whimpered into his hand, and he removed it, his smile widening. "Jughead Jones really was a lucky guy, wasn't he?" he chuckled, trailing his fingers over her cheeks, her lips. "He had no idea he was lusting after a Nephilim child, something so rare. So beautiful." Cole adapted a look of mock sadness when he leaned forward, cocking his head like a child. "It really does suck that I have to turn you, Betty. But it's the only way I can drink you without being banished to the back of this idiot's mind."
Betty opened her mouth to try and protest, try and scream for Cheryl, but the boy forced his bleeding arm between her lips. "Drink." he growled, glaring down at her. When the first drops hit her tongue, her stomach revolted. When she gagged, the boy hissed, forcing her mouth open. "Drink!" he snarled. "God, is it really that hard?"
"No!" when she spluttered, he pinched her nose, so she had no choice. Betty panicked, letting his blood hit the back of her throat. It was like swallowing quarters, hundreds of them pouring down her throat, before the taste changed abruptly. Betty felt her body relax, her struggling arms fell to her sides. Now it was sweetened chocolate, hot and thick. Before she could stop herself she was gulping it down, cravings spiking in the back of her throat. The taste of chocolate dulled the screams in the back of her mind, awakening something else inside of her. "That's it..." Cole's soft murmur was fading, her vision clouding. She was vaguely aware of burning rings around his iris, but they didn't bother her. "See, that wasn't so hard was it?" he murmured, leaning forwards.
There was a voice in the back of her head, so low she could barely hear it. But it was there, pushing her to stop. To fight back. But she ignored it. There was only Cole's voice, an echo in her mind. So beautiful. His voice was like wind-chimes, a sweet melody only she could hear. "Betty," he said. "Do you want more?"
Betty nodded. There was something wrong with her head. Her thoughts were clumsy, like someone had reached into her skull and stirred them with a spoon. It felt like- like she was floating on a cloud, like her body was weightless. She could only splutter on the boy's blood, continuing to drink. Suddenly, it was everything she'd ever wanted. All she wanted to do was drink. To drink and never, ever stop. The taste was heavenly. It was like a Pops milkshake times a thousand, or even a million. She felt drunk on the taste, delirious from the smells suddenly invading her nostrils. They hit her one after the other, like bolts of lightning. Smells so wonderful she wanted to seek them out.
More. Something rumbled in her throat, and Betty found herself nipping at the skin of his arm, her tongue lapped up every stray drop, her teeth piercing his skin for more. "Easy there," Cole laughed, pulling his arm away. Betty stopped drinking, lurching her head. Something burned in the back of her throat, and she curled her lip. The word "more" was in her throat, but her lips were numb. She couldn't say it. The words were tangled together. Though now she thought about it, everything was numb. Her legs, her arms. It felt like every piece of her was breaking away, crumbling into nothing.
"Before I give you more, I have to bite you to complete the transformation."
Betty nodded, dazedly. She could feel blood staining her lips, her chin, her neck. She peered up at him through glassy eyes, but the boy was an outline, a confusing figure bleeding into the night. Everything was spinning, but it was oh- so relaxing. She was flying, really properly flying. There was a burst of warmth spreading through her and she welcomed it. She let the boy lay her down gently, and felt the tingle of his fangs across her throat. "This will hurt, Betty. But trust me, the burning will subside-"
Whatever the boy had meant to say was cut off, and he let out a snarl. The weight off his body rolled off of her, and for a moment- there was nothing. Only a confusing mash of noises hitting her ears; territorial snarls and followed by a loud bang. Before someone was kneeling in front of her. "Betty!" the voice was familiar, breaking through the barrier of fog in her mind. Betty shook her head, blinking rapidly. Her only thought was...him. Where did he go? Peering into the night, she glimpsed a blur of red in front of her, sitting on her legs. Her body was rattling, but Betty was pretty sure that was because the stranger was shaking her like a rag-doll. "Betty! Snap out of it!"
Something hit her cheek, and it fucking stung. She snapped her head up, finding Cheryl Blossom's scowl inches from her face. The girl's eyes were lit up, her fangs on show, which were smeared scarlet. The girl had managed to feed, which made sense, since she was back to her usual, scowling self. "What did he do to you?" Cheryl yelled. "Betty!" her voice was shaking, and Betty couldn't help giggling. it came out whether she liked it or not. She felt- drunk. Really, fucking drunk. Since when did Cheryl care about her?
"Did you drink from him?" Cheryl's voice sounded a million miles away, her words being whipped away by a weird whistling noise in her ears.
"I'm fine," Betty managed to coerce the words through numb lips. But her eyes weren't on Cheryl, they were scanning the darkness, scouting out- him.
"Where did Jughead go?" she mumbled, the words rolling off her tongue before she could stop them. "Cheryl, where did he- where did he go?"
"Hey!" Cheryl slapped her again, and Betty blinked rapidly, trying to shake the fog from her vision. She cocked her head, frowning at the girl. "What?" she moaned. The girl's voice sounded like nails clawing a chalkboard. "Your voice is so loud," she covered her ears, tipping her head back and staring at the sky. Betty swallowed. She could taste the blood climbing its way back up her throat. "Cheryl, everything is spinning," she peered at the Blossom girl, waiting for the world to stop palpitating. "What's wrong with me?"
Cheryl sighed. "That's normal, you idiot." the girl nudged her, in what might have been a reassuring gesture. "You need to listen to me, okay? You've ingested the blood of a vampire, you're just going to feel a little weird- okay?" Cheryl's voice morphed into a confusing whirr of white noise in her ears, and Betty let her eyes wander again, desperately seeking him out. She found Cole lying on his front a few feet away. Kevin Keller was sitting on his legs, wrapping something around his wrists. When he caught her eye, the boy gave her a sickly grin. "You weren't answering your phone, so I presumed your vampire roommates had eaten you." he pulled a face, tightening the plastic ties around Cole's wrists. Betty sat up, blinking at the boy. "Kev?" her lips felt dry, encrusted with blood. She choked on a mouthful of bloody saliva, spitting it out. Her gut lurched with the urge to vomit again, but she swallowed it. "How did you find us?"
The boy shrugged. "That isn't important." There was something wrong with his arm. It looked like- Cole's. When he'd ripped into it, before forcing her to drink from him. Kevin's arm was still dripping glistening crimson, pooling in his palms. There was a bite mark just below his elbow. Kevin saw her stare, and she must have looked horrified, because he chuckled. "Relax, I had to help your friend, or none of you were getting out of here alive," he pulled the sleeve of his sweater down, but Betty couldn't tear her eyes from the smudges of deep scarlet decorating the baby blue material.
Betty twisted back to Cheryl. "You bit Kevin?" she whimpered, sobering up.
Cheryl rolled her eyes. "He was my only food source. If he hadn't have arrived, you would be a newborn by now, and I'd be dead," Cheryl scowled. "So suck it up, Cooper. Yes I did drink from your friend, and he tasted like shit. Any more questions?"
"I'm right here you know." Kevin called. "And don't bullshit, Cheryl, you were moaning."
"In pain," the girl snapped. "Because I've just lost my fledglings."
"Speaking of," Kevin pulled Cole to a sitting position. His head hung. "We have one out of three." he pulled out a sharpened looking stick, and Betty's chest tightened.
"Is that...?" Betty could barely get the words out, her heart dropping into her stomach, and the boy nodded. "A stake? Hell yeah it is!" he grinned, throwing it in the air and catching it. "But I didn't use it. Cheryl was the one who managed to knock the bastard off you." he grimaced. "Perfect timing too. I'm pretty sure he was about to eat your face, like in season one of Vampire Diaries, when Damon was like, totally evil."
"Oh god, no wonder you offered your blood to me," Cheryl groaned. "You're one of them freaks who idolises us because of the plague of embarrassing TV shows and movies."
Kevin flashed the girl a smile, unbothered. "A thank you would suffice for saving your life and stopping Betty from getting literally eaten by wannabe Dracula."
The girl growled. "Stop talking in TV metaphors, I don't care about whatever you're referencing," she snapped. "Jughead was going to change her, you overgrown toenail. Now get him into the car. Vampires don't stay knocked out for long, though I'm guessing you already know that." the girl rolled her eyes before turning back to Betty, her expression softening. "Are you okay?"
Betty sucked in a breath. She was wondering that herself. Her head had stopped spinning, and the urge to vomit had faded, replaced with a craving for something greasy and fried. It felt like a dream- drinking from the vampire. The momentary pleasure that ignited her from the inside. Cole's blood had tasted amazing, and yet now, when she ran her tongue over her teeth, she only tasted rusty quarters once again. But she couldn't shove the feeling of a connection blossoming inside of her. She wanted to be near him. Jughead. Or his demonic counterpart, the vampire she had drunk from. When she'd seen Kevin's stake, a feeling had come over her, a burst of- she wasn't sure. It had stabbed her in the chest, tugged at her gut. She didn't want Kevin to hurt him. Cole, the monster who had tried to kill her, tried to turn her into a vampire. The psycho who had taken over her roommates body. Yet something was drawing her to him, a thread she had been tangled in whether she liked it or not. "I think so," Betty mumbled to Cheryl's question. "My head just feels kinda light, and my stomach hurts." Understatement of the century. Betty gingerly touched her temples, then her throat. She winced when her fingertips grazed fingernail indentations still covering her skin. Swallowing, she managed to smile reassuringly.
Cheryl hummed. "That should go away," she said, before leaning forward. There was a flicker of something- Worry? in the girl's eyes. Her hair trickled in Betty's face and she fought back a sneeze. "Betty, whatever you do, you can't let a vampire bite you. Do you understand me? If you do, you'll start to change and I won't be able to stop it."
Cheryl's words were still ringing in Betty's ears an hour later when they finally arrived at Kevin's flat, with Kevin and Cheryl carrying the unconscious Cole. The sun was beginning to rise, and Betty secretly mourned another night of missed sleep. The sky at dawn made her feel happy to be alive; colourful streaks of Violet mixing with orangeade blurs as the sun struggled to emerge from the thick partition of clouds. The car ride had been mostly silent, with Betty trying hard not to sleep, while her knocked out roommate lay sprawled out on her lap, tied up. She didn't even want to think what would happen if they got pulled over. Three college students with a bound and unconscious boy laying across the backseat. It was a wonder Cole didn't wake up the entire ten minute drive.
Sweet Pea didn't say anything when he opened the door. The boy was in his pyjamas, sleepy eyes squinting at them. He regarded them with an inquisitive look, glancing from Kevin, to Betty- and then to the knocked out vampire in Cheryl's arms. "No questions, Sweets," Kevin said hurriedly, helping Cheryl drag Cole inside. Betty expected the boy to demand what was happening, but he only nodded silently. The boy cleared the lounge and brought in a wooden chair, setting it down in the middle of the room. Toni and Fangs stood by and watched with wide eyes. Betty couldn't tell if they were horrified by the gaping wound on Kevin's arm, which he still hadn't tended to, or mystified by it. The two of them watched while Cheryl did her best to try and explain everything in a rushed hiss.
Betty sat on one of the arm chairs. Her whole body was aching, and her stomach was rumbling. She could still taste the bitter tinge of rust in her throat, even after Kevin had stopped at a Mcdonalds drive through and grabbed her a burger and Coke to settle her hunger pangs. Luckily, she wasn't craving blood. Part of her knew that was impossible, since she hadn't properly exchanged blood with a vampire. But she still expected to at least find the food gross. Except the burger was perfect. She'd eaten it in two bites and then downed the drink. But even after food, she was exhausted, and the urge to sleep was appealing. The last proper night of sleep she'd had was days ago. Since then, she'd spent more time trying to keep up with her immortal roommates. But no matter how hard she tried, Betty couldn't seem tear her gaze away from the boy tied to the chair. His head drooped, eyes shut. His mouth and chin were still splattered crimson, but it didn't faze her. Instead, she found it almost mesmerising. The contrast, congealed red sticking to his olive skin, it was some kind of beautiful. But it was a beautiful she couldn't understand. Cole, or Jughead, was a hell of a lot better when he was knocked out.
Sweet pea brought her some coffee, and she took it gratefully, taking a sip. The tea was perfect. It burned her throat, and she revelled in it.
"You're really not having the best week, are you?" the boy smiled kindly at her, his voice teasing, before slumping down on the couch opposite.
"So let me get this completely straight," Kevin pulled out another coil of zip wire, pulling it apart before dipping it in holy water. Betty didn't want to know why he miraculously happened to have some in storage. The more she thought about Kevin, and the stake he'd pulled out, his knowledge of how to put down a vampire. It was leaving a bad taste in her mouth. Kevin had suggested using zip ties soaked with holy water, since the vampire would easily be able to get out of restraints. Betty was still sceptical, considering how powerful the boy actually was. If he wanted to, he could slaughter all of them, including Cheryl, without even breaking a sweat. Cole had said she was a Nephilim, and so had Penelope Blossom. So why was it so easy for him to force her to drink his blood? If she did have abilities, surely they would have been triggered. But they hadn't. She had been completely helpless. Betty gripped her cup of coffee tightly, taking another scorching sip. Her hands were still trembling. Kevin sucked in a breath.
"So, your roommates were fledglings, and they were okay and not trying to kill you, but then Penelope Blossom comes along and turns them into newborns, and now, what? They're trying to hunt you down?"
"Congratulations, you understand something," Cheryl said. "But yes. Archie, Veronica and Jughead are extremely dangerous. Everything they were-" her voice cracked a little, but she promptly hid it with a cough. "Everything they were is gone, since they lost their souls. They turned their emotions off, which means they'll kill anyone in their way."
"But Veronica is so sweet?" Fangs was sitting on the floor, his laptop on his knees. He frowned at Cheryl, his eyebrows furrowed. "She's in my health class, and we talk sometimes, I can't imagine someone like her being some blood crazed monster."
Cheryl glared at the boy. "Were you dropped on the head as a baby?" she spat. "I just said she's lost her soul. Which means, shockingly; she's. lost. her. soul."
Fangs folded his arms. The boy looked like he might protest, but instead he sighed, running a hand through his thick dark curls. He turned to Betty. "So wait, Jughead, or whatever his name is, he attacked you?"
"Basically." Betty said softly. "He tried to turn me, because I'm..." she trailed off, frowning at her lap. She took a deep breath, staring down at the hot drink. "I've been told that I'm a Nephilim, but I feel human. I haven't got any powers, or abilities," she shook her head, blinking back tears. "I couldn't stop him from forcing me to-"
"To drink from him." Fangs finished, pulling a face. "Man, that's fucked up."
"Holy shit," Kevin stood up to admire his handiwork. He'd tied the vampire's hands behind his back, his legs to the stools, and just in case the holy water didn't work, he'd taken precautions, using rope to wrap around the boy's torso. Cole looked like he was wrapped as gift. "Wait, so my best friend is a literal half angel, and I had no idea?"
"Oh trust me, she had no idea either." Cheryl rolled her eyes. "I'm convinced that Betty's powers have been suppressed by someone, and the only species I know that can mess with memories and suppress abilities are fully fledged vampires who were born as a Child Of Night." the girl cocked her head, frowning at Betty. "In which case, Betty, that means you've met a vampire before Lodge House, before meeting my fled-" Cheryl bit her lip, trailing off with a frustrated hiss. "Before meeting Archie, Ronnie and Jug."
She had nicknames for them. Which was kind of cute. Cheryl Blossom tried to hide behind a facade of being a bitch, but with her fledglings, she had truly cared about them.
"That's impossible." Betty muttered. "I don't remember meeting anyone strange. My life has been sheltered. My mom made sure of that." she couldn't help smiling a little. For most of her life, her mother had constantly been on her back, never letting her go anywhere or do anything. She was trapped in the confines of her bedroom for four years, with only Kevin for company. But thinking back, she'd do anything to have that life again. It was a bad idea for her to come here. Her mom had been right all along.
"Isn't that the purpose of memory loss?" Sweet Pea spoke up, partially hiding behind his own coffee. "Betty, someone must have stifled whatever power you have, and then wiped your memory so you didn't remember it."
That seemed most likely. But Betty didn't feel- special. If she was a so-called Nephilim, she would have been able to defend herself against the demon inside Jughead. She only nodded, nursing her mug. There was still an accute pain arching across the back of her head. It felt like someone was slamming a brick into her skull.
"So Betty is half angel? I can dig that." Kevin murmured. "What's all this about you being able to save Mr No Soul?" Kevin stood with his arms folded, watching Cole with dark eyes. Betty tried to smile at the boy. "According to Cheryl's mom, my blood should bring Jughead back." when she only got a confused frown, Betty sighed. "Penelope said that drinking the blood of a Nephilim can help a vampire keep their soul, and..." she played with her hands in her lap. "I guess I'm hoping they go back to normal."
Cheryl stood up. "I still don't know if my darling mother was bullshitting, but I guess we'll see." the girl's gaze landed on Toni. "Hey you, do any of you own a syringe?"
Toni curled her lip. Betty had known the girl for a while, ever since she and Kevin had joined Blossom University. It had taken her a while to get to know Toni, since the girl had looked like a bitch at first glance. But peel back the layers and get to know her, and she was the sweetest girl Betty had ever met. With a wicked attitude. She had single handedly shut down a misogynistic club started by some assholes in second year, and was well known to be in open relationships with both guys and girls.
"It's Toni." she replied coolly, smiling at Cheryl. The girl leaned forward, resting her elbow on her knee. "My name is Toni Topaz, and I don't care if you're an undead creature of the night, or Blossom University's princess, you don't speak to me like that."
Cheryl's expression softened. Betty was expecting her to attack the pink haired girl, but the girl only adapted a look of curiosity. "So you're not as braindead as your other roomies then? That's a relief." Cheryl shrugged and sat back, folding her arms across her chest. "Fine." her lips curled into what might be the first genuine smile Betty had ever seen on Cheryl's face. "Toni Topaz, do you guys own a syringe?"
Toni nodded. "As a matter of fact, we do. We should have one in our med box in the kitchen." she jumped up quickly, hurrying into the kitchen to retrieve it.
"Syringe?" Kevin's eyes widened. "Wait, are you going to make him drink Betty's blood?"
Toni came back holding a needle, and Betty flinched slightly. She had been scared of needles when she was a kid. Just staring at the point made her go into hysterics. But now she mostly ignored it, yanking up the sleeve of her sweater. A little piece of her wished she truly was Nephilim, so she could bring her roommates back, drag their souls from the underworld and force them back into their undead bodies. But she didn't feel any different, even after being forced to drink vampire blood. She still felt human.
Wasn't that a good thing? Yes. She decided. Her roommates had wanted to cling onto humanity to prove to her that they weren't monsters. If she too was some kind of, what? Half angel? Would she have to prove that she wasn't dangerous to them? That was if she manged to bring them back. Archie, Jughead and Veronica seemed so far away, practically unreachable. Betty's impression of them had been tainted by Penelope Blossom. Seeing them slide around like animals, falling over each other, snarling over spilt human blood, changing them in seconds flat. The scene still haunted the back of her mind.
"Alright, so we've got the needle," Toni held it up, eyeing Sweet Pea. "Mikey, didn't you do a health and safety course at camp after you graduated?"
"It's Sweet Pea," Sweets growled, rolling his eyes. He leaned forward, clutching his coffee mug. "Yeah, but I was giving the Heimlich remover to mannequins," he chuckled, his lips curving into a smirk. "Shockingly enough there were no vampire transfusions."
"I'll do it," Cheryl offered her hand, and Toni, after hesitating, pressed it into the girl's hand. "How exactly is this going to work?" she asked. "You're going to force feed a vampire Betty's magical angel blood and pray for a miracle?"
Cheryl nodded. "Betty's a Nephilim, so regardless of her being completely powerless-" the girl shot Betty an apologetic look. "No offence Betty, but you're the most pitiful angel I've ever met." she removed the plastic stopper and Betty took that as her cue to sit up, holding out her arm. The girl's words stung, but she was right. So was Cole. She had no abilities, but that was good. That made her more human. And that was all she wanted to be- human. Just boring, mundane Betty. She didn't fit in the supernatural world. Cheryl squatted in front her wide eyes. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Betty tried to smile. "No." she admitted softly, glancing at Jughead, or Cole. The boy was still out of it. Which was strange, considering the boy was undead. How could he still be out of it? She peered at Cheryl, curious. "How did you knock him out?"
The girl shrugged, her lip curling with distaste. No matter how many times Cheryl tried to act like she was over her fledglings, it grew painfully obvious that she wasn't.
"I slammed his head into the car hood a few times. I've gotta admit, he's strong. A hell of a lot stronger than Jug. No real damage though since he's a vampire. If he was human, his skull would have punctured his brain and he'd die instantly."
"Oh." Betty felt her gut twist into uncomfortable knots. She wanted to see if he was awake, wait for his eyes to open. Something about the burnt orange igniting his iris made her heart thump. It wasn't- right. She hadn't felt like this before. Sure, there had been something- the tiniest crush, maybe a flutter of butterflies when she caught his eye. But even if there was a hint of something, it wasn't just for Jughead. Betty was pretty sure the second she had met her roommates, she had fallen for all three of them.
But this was different. This was a wanting, a need, a painful urge clenching her chest to be near him. Her blood felt poisoned, even if he hadn't bitten her. Betty stared down at her lap. She tried not to wince when Cheryl's nails prodded her arm for a vein.
Toni loomed over Cheryl, frowning. "Have you even used a needle before?"
Cheryl scoffed. "Does it matter? How hard could it be? All you do is stick it in her arm and pull up the plunger." she pulled off the rubber cap, smiling smugly.
Betty caught the look of amusement flash in Toni's eyes. "I think I should do it," she grabbed the syringe from the vampire's hands. Cheryl straightened up, her expression darkening. But she didn't snarl. Instead, she rolled her eyes. "Show off."
Toni was gentle, her fingers sliding down Betty's arm. "It's basic medical knowledge," she murmured, fiddling with the syringe, pushing air into the needle and pinching Betty's skin between her fingertips before sticking the needle in. Betty watched it pierce her skin, but she barely felt the pain. Toni smiled reassuringly. "Hang in there, okay?"
She managed to nod. "Cheryl, How much do you need?"
Cheryl pinched the bridge of her nose. "My reprobate of a mother said a few drops should suffice." when Toni was done, Betty felt dizzy, but jumped up, despite feeling like she was wading through thick molasses. She followed the two girls on shaky legs towards the vampire, still bent over in the chair. Kevin stood guard, frowning at Cole. "He shouldn't still be out of it, are you sure we haven't killed him?" the boy grimaced. "Again."
There was a quiet chuckle, and Betty's heart jumped. Her gaze went from Kevin, to the previously knocked out vampire, who was slowly lifting his head. "Did you really think I was out for that long?" when he caught her eye, his lips quirked into a smile, his orange eyes blazing. But he didn't say anything. Instead he addressed the others.
"Are you guys stupid?" Cole cocked his head, pouting. "I mean I thought humans were thick, but you're on a whole other level, aren't you?" before anyone could reply, the vampire straightened up, squirming in the bindings. Though something flashed across his face, and his expression darkened. "Holy water." he muttered. "Alright, you got me." the boy rolled his eyes. "You're still the worst kidnappers in human history, I mean you took a newborn from his pack? You do realise the others can sniff me out right?"
"Pack?" Kevin parroted. "Isn't that werewolves?"
"Good." Cheryl snarled, ignoring Kevin's question and stepped forward, the needle in her hands. Betty noticed she was shaking. "If they come to us, it'll be better." she smiled brightly at the boy, but Betty could sense something else in her; desperation creasing her lips, slightly crazy eyes. She wanted her fledglings back, and was willing to try anything. "That means we won't have to go after them," the girl got closer to him. "Besides, you're a newborn, sweetie, you haven't fed yet. You're weak."
Cole blinked at her, never losing his unnerving grin. "She has though," he jutted his head towards Betty, and shivers zipped up and down her spine. "Betty's had more than enough," Cole's gaze flickered to her. "Isn't that right Betty?"
"Don't speak to her." Cheryl snapped. "The point is, Jughead, that you're not as strong as you think. So don't bother trying anything, troglodyte. We've got the upperhand here."
Cole laughed, his gaze trailing over each of them. "A vampire princess softened by her attachment to her precious puppies, a Nephilim with no abilities and four defenceless humans." he scoffed. "I'm shaking. Look at me, I'm fucking terrified."
Cheryl raised the syringe and the boy flinched. "Open up."
His lip twitched. Fear. Betty swallowed. It was the first time she'd seen a tinge of humanity flash in his expression, and her heart fluttered. Cole leaned back, grimacing.
"Get that away from me!" he hissed, yelping when he struggled against the bindings, still drenched in holy water. His eyes turned red, his fangs protruding from his lips, but he was trying to fight it, ducking his head, shaking it rapidly. Betty knew he smell it. Her blood. It was supposed to drive vampires crazy. She tried not to look at him, but the boy was suffering, crying out when his bare flesh was scorched by the holy water.
Cheryl feigned confusion. "Get what away from you?" she knelt in front of him, and his eyes widened. "Do you really think a drop of angel blood is going to bring your friend back?" he sputtered out a laugh, but it was strained. He wrinkled his nose when Cheryl dangled the needle in front of him. "Your fledglings are gone, get over it!" when Betty caught the look of fright light up in his eyes, she swallowed a scream of protest. Why did she care? They were bringing back Jughead, so why was she suddenly sympathetic of the monster? She stared at the floor, her stomach twisting.
When Cheryl struck, forcing the needle into mouth, Betty couldn't look away. Even when she wanted to. He was- hurting. He was scared. And she wanted nothing more than to rush over, knock the syringe out of Cheryl's hands, and untie him. But she didn't. She stood her ground, watching the boy splutter on her blood, trying to spit it out, before the look on his face flitted from anger and pain, to hunger. Not even that. Pure starvation. An animalistic thirst that sent her stumbling back, swallowing a shriek.
Betty had seen it before- when Jughead had first drank human blood. Cheryl didn't seem fazed. She crushed the needle in her fist, letting the blood trickle into his mouth. He had stopped struggling and yelping, and now simply tipped his head back, gulping it down greedily. She jumped when someone grabbed her hand, and found Sweet Pea standing next to her, his eyes wide, lips curled with disgust. His grip was tight, but it felt good to hold onto something. Even if it was Kevin's roommate's clammy hand.
"Do you think it will work?" his voice was hoarse.
The word "maybe" was on her lips, but she couldn't speak, only staring as the vampire moaned softly, lapping blood from Cheryl's hand. She was getting flashbacks to The Kitchen Incident. But at that point, Jughead was still partially human. After a dragged out minute, the vampire stopped feeding, stopped snarling like a wild animal. Betty watched, her heart hammering, as his eyes rolled back, and he fell limp, his head hitting his chest. Cheryl let out a breath after a moment. "I think we're okay."
Toni joined the girl, her voice shaking. "So, wait, he should go back to normal?"
Cheryl shook her head. "Not exactly," she murmured. "No matter how much I hate to say it, Jughead is gone. The human fledgling died when he drank human blood. There's no way of getting him back," she swallowed. "But- Betty's blood should give him his soul back, which means when he wakes up he should be Jughead, but..." the girl shrugged, folding her arms across her chest. "I guess what I'm trying to say is he'll be different."
"And what exactly is he now?" Kevin was circling the boy. He was still wary. Betty wouldn't be surprised if he was still carrying a stake.
"He ingested Nephilim blood," Cheryl said softly, her gaze stuck to the unconscious boy. "Jughead Jones is a full vampire, as well as Nephilim. Which makes him-"
"A hybrid." Kevin's eyes lit up, his lips quirking into a smile. "Holy shit, this is better than any TV show I've ever seen. I'm literally living my fantasy."
"Not the time, dude." Fangs muttered.
Betty joined Cheryl. "He's going to be okay?" she said softly, and the girl nodded, turning to her. "He should be," Cheryl smirked a little. "If he isn't, I'll be happy to bash his brains in again. Betty winced, and Cheryl, noticing her discomfort and sighed. "I'm kidding. No matter how much I hate the little shit, he's..." the girl tapped her chin, looking thoughtful. "I guess he's special to me. All three of them are.
When Betty didn't reply, Cheryl cleared her throat. "You do realise he needs your blood now, right? It's like with mine. If he doesn't drink it, he'll revert back to a soulless asshole."
Betty's chest clenched. "My blood?" she pulled a face. But Cheryl was smiling, rolling her eyes. "Just for the meantime, Cooper. I'm sure we'll find a Nephilim in hiding, willing to offer herself or himself, for a price of course."
It was 9AM when the group started to disperse. Sweet Pea and Fangs headed off to class, and Toni announced she was going to grab groceries. That left Cheryl, Kevin and Betty, and a knocked out hybrid vampire/Nephilim.
Kevin had conked out on the couch, and Cheryl's gaze never strayed from Cole. Sunlight streamed through the blinds, bathing the boy in warm golden light. Betty was sitting cross legged on the floor, trying to fight back sleep. She drifted in and out of slumber, dreaming of nothing. When her jeans vibrated, she shot up, blinking rapidly. The lounge was quiet. Cole was still out of it, but there was something- different about him. Maybe it wasn't the sun after all. It might have been a factor of sleep deprivation for the past couple of nights, but Betty swore the ends of his chocolate curls were glowing in the same allure that seemed to emanate from him. It was like the boy had an aura. And it was beautiful; tendrils of heavenly light bathing him, drowning his body. Before she could stop herself she was taking slow steps towards him, reaching out to tangle her fingers in the mellow light. Betty frowned at him for a moment, and wondered- for a second if- if... She shook her her head, snapping herself out it it. No, she was losing it. All her blood was doing, hopefully, was giving him his soul back.
Kevin was still passed out. Betty considered waking him up, because the unearthly light was definitely something he'd freak out over. She contemplated it, before her pants vibrated again. After a moment of fumbling around, Betty pulled out her phone.
"Mom?" she managed to choke out, her voice a sleepy croak. Betty's heart skipped a little when she glimpsed the plethora of missed calls on the screen.
"You're living with boys?!"
It took a second for her to register her mom's words. Betty wanted to bury herself into the ground.
"Yes. No. Sort of?" she managed to splutter out, dragging a hand through her hair.
"It's complicated," she mumbled. "How did you find out?" suddenly it was hard to keep everything in. Betty wanted to tell her mother about vampires, and angel's, and the fact that her roommates were immortal. That the college town she was living in was teeming with the undead. But she pressed her lips together, swallowing a sob. "I've missed you, mom," she whispered. Betty swiped her eyes, steeling herself. After everything that had happened, would this be the moment she finally broke down?
"Oh honey, I've missed you too! Are you looking after yourself?"
She had to choke back a laugh. "Sort of."
Alice Cooper let out a sigh. "I decided to pay you a surprise visit, and your dorms told me you moved out a few days ago," she said. "Betty, why didn't you tell me?"
So many reasons. Betty rubbed her eyes. "I dunno mom, I didn't want to worry you."
A pause, before; "Right. Well normally I'd disapprove, but I must say I love the house. It's a lot bigger than I expected. Your roommate is a charming young man."
"What?" Betty nearly dropped the phone. Her mouth went dry. "You've...you've met my roommates?"
Alice laughed. "Of course I have! Your old dorms gave me your new address. I've brought you guys some fresh cakes and pie. Elizabeth, you never told me you were friends with an Australian! I must say, he's incredibly dashing. He's given me a cup of coffee while I wait for you."
"Australian? Mom, what are you-" she trailed off, her heart plummeting.
Archie. The mess with Jughead had made her forget about her other roommate turned bloodthirsty newborn. Veronica was out there too.
"I'll be right there." she said weakly, shoving her phone back in her pocket before her mother could reply. When she looked up, Cheryl was looming over her.
"What's wrong?" the girl frowned. "You look more dishevelled than normal."
Betty gritted her teeth. She was striding over to the mirror on the wall before she could think about what she was doing. Grabbing her jacket, she dragged her fingers through her hair, untaming unruly curls. Her reflection peered back at her; a stocky blonde girl with pale skin, and sleepy blue eyes. She let out a sigh of relief. There were no everlasting marks on her face after last night. She looked like a regular college student, dishevelled clothes and unbrushed hair. Betty was a shadow of her other self. Oblivious Elizabeth with her bright smile, her perfect wardrobe. She was barely recognisable. "Betty?" Cheryl clapped her hands in front of her eyes. "What's going on?"
She didn't realise she was shaking. Betty shoved her hands in her pocket. "Archie," she hissed out. "or whoever the hell he is now, he's- oh god, Cheryl, he's got my mom." tears pricked in her eyes, but she swiped them away. It felt like she was suffocating, being dragged down, down, down to the bottomless ocean.
"I need to go."
Cheryl's eyes widened. The girl nodded. "Shit. I'll come with you."
"No, you need to stay here and look after him," Betty gestured to the boy still tied up in the middle of the room. She glanced at Kevin, who had rolled onto his stomach on the sofa. The boy was snoring softly, mumbling incoherently to himself in his sleep.
Cheryl met her eye, her lip twisting. "You're kidding," she muttered, and when Betty didn't reply, the girl snarled. "I'm not babysitting the human!"
"I owe you one Cheryl." Betty tried to smile at the girl, before rushing out of Kevin's dorm room, her heart ready to burst out of her chest.
Betty wasn't sure what she was expecting when she bound into Lodge House's kitchen five minutes later, ready to scream at her mother to run. The last time she had seen Archie, he'd been crawling over Jughead with ignited eyes, snarling like a wild animal, desperate to lap up the pooling blood on the floor in the lounge. But when Betty stumbled over the threshold, she only found normalcy. Someone had cleaned the kitchen, clearing away the mess from last night. The lights were on, bathing the room in warm light. Archie was leaning against the counter, sipping from a mug in his hands. He looked noticeably dishevelled. His hair was sticking up everywhere and his cheeks were paler, lips blood red, as if he'd just fed. The only thing distinctly different about him was the fact that he was wearing black ray bans. Which made sense, hiding his newborn eyes. Archie had changed into fresh clothes and was no longer covered in blood, instead in a white shirt and creased jeans. He looked- normal. Which was playing with Betty's head. She hadn't been hallucinating. It wasn't just Jughead who had turned into a raging newborn. Veronica and Archie had too. So it confused her more, when the boy only offered her a small smile, lifting his mug up in greeting. The boy nodded at her, his smile splitting into a grin, and she caught the all too familiar flash of fangs protruding from his gums.
Sitting on the communal table with a bright smile, also holding a cup of what looked like coffee, was her mother. Betty's eyes stung. It had been so long since she had seen her mom, and so much had happened. Alice Cooper was practically glowing; blonde hair pulled into a neat ponytail, kind blue eyes squinting at her, as if she didn't recognise her own daughter. Alice was wearing what she always did; a pastel pink dress and knitted blue cardigan over the top. Betty forced a smile. Even when her heart was pounding, when the breath was being sucked from her lungs from sprinting like a maniac to Lodge House.
"Elizabeth!" Alice's eyes widened. "Goodness, is that you?"
Betty's hands automatically went to her mess of blonde curls. She knew she was a mess. She was still in Toni's damp clothes, her hair a tangled, frizzy mess in her face. Well at least she looked like an average college student. "Hi mom." she could only choke out, trying to smooth down Toni's sweater to no avail. "I, uh- I slept over at Kevin's dorm."
Alice frowned. "What on earth are you wearing? What were you doing at Kevin's? Studying?"
"A party." she managed to whisper. "I went to a party, mom."
"But you're filthy!"
Betty swallowed the urge to tell her mother the truth. No matter how crazy she sounded. Instead, she forced a smile. "Mom, I didn't know you'd be coming. You should have told me in advance so we could..." she trailed off, finding the sparkling marble countertop and piles of washed dishes sitting on the draining rack. The floor looked brand new, and the table looked like it had been polished to perfection. Had Archie cleaned up?
"So we could all meet you," she ended up smiling, and her mother sighed. "Oh Elizabeth, you know I don't like it when you mumble," Betty's cheeks burned, but instead of lecturing her on pronunciation skills, just like when she was a kid, Alice smiled softly, taking another sip of coffee. "I came to surprise you! I've brought some of your stuff from home, because I figured you might feel a little homesick." the woman paused to sip her blow her coffee. "Imagine my surprise when I was told you'd moved out of Gladwell!"
"I was kicked out of my dorm." Betty felt five years old again, ducking her head. But it felt weirdly good to be reprimanded by her mother. It was as close to normal she'd felt in days. After being exposed to the secret world of Vampires and half Angel's.
Alice hummed. "Sweetie, you should have told me," she murmured, before her gaze went to Archie, her eyes twinkling. Betty wouldn't be surprised if her mother called the boy handsome. "Normally I'd disapprove of living with older kids, but I must say, this young fellow has been lovely! He offered me coffee and unloaded my car for me."
Betty nodded stiffly. "That's Archie," she bit out. "He's always looking to help people."
The boy straightened up, taking long, exaggerated gulps from his imaginary coffee. She wasn't expecting him to speak, so when he did, her stomach twisted into knots. "Betty, I've just been telling your mother how hungry I am," chuckling lightly, his gaze flickered to a smiling, completely oblivious Alice. "I'm famished, Miss Cooper."
The boy's words sent pangs of panic through her, but at that moment all she could focus on was his voice. There was something wrong with it; a whole new accent had taken over Archie's usual American drawl. She recognised it automatically. Australian, or maybe even Kiwi. That's why her mother had asked her on the phone if she had an Aussie friend. For some reason, this was funny to her. Jughead's transformation into a newborn had turned him into a psycho, and Archie's? Archie had turned into a fucking Australian. Betty didn't smile back. The boy looked so casual, taking long sips from a mug she was sure was empty. His red hair had a darker hue to it, contrasting his skin almost perfectly.
"Archie?" Alice cocked a brow at the redhead, confusion riddling her expression. "Honey, I thought your name was-"
"KJ." Archie smiled brightly. He cocked his head at Betty, his lips quirking into a smirk. He slid off his sunglasses, and Betty glimpsed burning red eyes slowly clouding into dark human brown. She lost her breath. "Did you forget my name Betty?"
"Of course not," she tried to keep her voice from shaking, but to her horror, it quivered, and she sounded like a child. "N- no. I- I'm just tired."
Alice chuckled. "It's a lovely name, KJ. Very exotic. Elizabeth, are you two close?"
"No." Betty said, at the same time as he said; "Sort of."
That seemed to thrill Alice. Her eyes lit up, and Betty rolled her eyes. When she was in High school, her mother was always trying to set her up with church boys and the sons of women from her book club. But they had all been pretentious assholes. "Betty, you should have told me you were dating an Australian, I would have been delighted!"
She swallowed a groan. "No, mom, we're not dating," Betty said quickly, but KJ laughed, casually leaning back against the counter. "Are we not?" he tilted his head, feigning confusion. "Hey, I thought all of us were together in this house."
Alice looked taken aback. "Excuse me?"
Betty could feel her cheeks blossoming scarlet. "No mom, what he means is-" she raked her mind for some kind of excuse. KJ obviously meant the connection he'd had with Jughead and Veronica when they were fledglings, when they happily had orgies night after night while bleeding Cheryl Blossom dry. That was definitely not what her mom wanted to hear.
"They're polyamory," Betty rushed out, catching KJ's grin. He was loving this. She could see him laughing behind the cup he held strategically in front of his face, while she struggled. "Mom, my roommates are, uh, they're..." she couldn't get the words out.
"Dating each other." the boy finished for her, and seeing Alice's slightly horrified expression, KJ smiled reassuringly. "Don't worry, Betty has no part in it. She prefers to stay in her room and study," he winked at her. "But if she was ever interested-"
"Right!" Alice cut him off with a choked laugh. Betty was sure her cheeks were burning red. "Well that's quite enough of that," her mom said, standing up. "I'm going to get the rest of the stuff from the car. KJ, could you be a dear and make me another coffee? I have some cake I brought for Betty." Alice grabbed her bag and headed to the door before turning to them, shaking her head. "I think from the state of both of you-" she must have meant KJ's pale, gaunt cheeks, and the fact that her daughter looked like she hadn't slept in a millennia. "You both look like you're in dire need of some sugar."
"Sounds good!" KJ saluted with a smile. Alice stopped at the door frame and fanned herself teasingly.
"You are incredibly handsome, young man. she chuckled. "Oh, and two sugars please."
"On it, Miss Cooper." KJ grabbed a mug out of the sink and set it on the counter. Alice grinned widely at Betty. "Sweetie, I can't wait to meet your other roommates!"
No you don't. Betty managed to stop herself saying that. You really don't.
When Alice was gone, Betty wondered if this was it. If she was going to die. KJ continued making the drink. But he grew progressively less interested, until he dropped the mug all together. It hit the floor with a loud bang, but she didn't flinch. Betty stood silently, her heart hammering. The boy didn't turn around.
"It's funny," he murmured, after an uncomfortable silence. "It's getting harder and harder to resist you Betty Cooper. And here I am, holding it together.”
Betty sucked in a breath. "Leave my mom alone." she said softly. "Whatever this is, it's between-" she squeaked, stumbling back, when the boy appeared right in front of her. She hit the wall, trapped. When she tried to shove past him, he stepped in front of her, burning eyes challenging her to take another step.
"Sup!" he flicked her forehead, his smile teasing, eyes darkening. "Sorry, what were you saying about your mom?"
She gritted her teeth. "Please, just don't let my mom see this."
KJ's lip quirked. "Relax, I compelled her to go on a long walk around the city. She should be back in an hour or so."
Betty found her breath. "Leave her out of this." she whispered. The whole interaction reminded Betty of when Archie had prodded her bruised cheek, his warm brown eyes worried, lips twisted with distaste. But the redhead's newborn self just looked hungry. He smiled down at her, not a flicker of emotion in his eyes. His nose flared, fingers trailed over her cheek. "Your mother is lovely," he chuckled. "I'm sure she'll make a good dessert." KJ cocked his head. "But she doesn't seem to share the same blood as you, which is strange. Your mother appears to be human. How does that work out Nephilim?"
"I don't know." Betty said softly, trying to keep her voice steady. "But- but you can't bite me," she swallowed a cry when the boy's hand curled around her throat. If he bit her, she'd turn. Cheryl's words echoed in her mind. She'd turn into a monster, lose her self control. Her humanity. Everything Archie, Jughead and Veronica had been running away from, she would become. She'd hurt her loved ones, hurt herself. Senselessly kill to dull an ever-growing craving in her throat.
"Why not?" he murmured. His voice was almost childlike. "You smell so good."
Betty let out a breath. "I'm Nephilim," she hissed out. "If you- if you drink my blood-" her voice rose to a frightened cry, her lungs bursting. The words were muddled on her tongue, and she couldn't breathe. His fingernails were digging into her skin.
"Please!" she gasped out, tears stinging her eyes. "Listen to me, if you d- do this, you'll-"
He tightened his grip, and she choked on her breath. "If I drink your blood, my pathetic human twin comes back," he rolled his eyes. "So what? If I can drain you, and then leave sweet Archie to pick up the pieces.." he trailed off, and she bit back a scream when his teeth grazed the skin of her neck. He was teasing her, waiting for the right moment. His voice was a rough growl. "I dunno about you, darlin, but that sounds amazing."
Suddenly, it was like the world blurred, and she was hitting the ground, screeching words that erupted from her throat. All the air was knocked from her lungs, and Betty was only aware of ice cold breath in her face, his hand his squeezing the gutter of her throat. For one glorious moment she thought the boy had changed his mind, and had mercy for her. But then something sharp, something- a knife? stabbed her in the throat. Then again, an initial wave of uncomfortable throbbing stretching across her throat. Betty heard her breath escape her lips. But she didn't scream. It wasn't that type of pain. Then it came again, and again.
Slashes of pain, like razor blades sliding across her throat. Her head spun, and her body grew numb, a feeling of - cold. All she could describe was cold. It streamed through her, shocking her heart into a frenzy. There was a strangled cry that wasn't hers, before she felt the boy roll off her, before hitting the ground at her feet, whining like an animal. He didn't jump back up, eager to finish her off. The boy didn't move, and her heart dropped into her gut.
"Archie?" Betty's voice was hoarse, a barely audible croak. Despite the pain, the ice enveloping her body, thawing her from the inside out, Betty managed to sit up, her numb hand going to her neck. Her fingers brushed wet- something wet and warm, running down her neck, dripping on her clothes. When she stared down at her fingers, they were scarlet. When she ran them over her skin, she felt two deep intrusions, leaking rivulets of crimson.
Bleeding. It took a second for her thoughts to register.
She was bleeding out.
Her body felt all wrong. Like she wasn't even controlling it. It shook, trembled, quivered, as she crawled over to the redhead, who was lying on his back, his eyelids flickering. But apart from his twitching lashes, the boy was motionless.
"Archie?" Betty said again, her voice stronger. The freezing cold feeling was quickly replaced with- fire. It erupted inside of her before she knew was happening; a growing inferno. When Betty tried to shuffle closer to the boy her body gave up, crashing down. Suddenly she was staring at the ceiling, her vision blurring around the edges. Burning. Her body was burning. It felt like someone had injected molten lava into her bloodstream. It shot through her, When she tried to open her mouth, her lips were numb, her tongue was swollen. Every thought was caught in a cloud of confusion drowning her brain.
Then, there was nothing. Well, what felt like nothing. Betty didn't remember closing her eyes, but she was suddenly pulled into- darkness. While the fire continued to spread through her, a demon flooding her veins. It was pain like she'd never felt before, and Betty wondered if she wasn't the only one wallowing in it. Was Archie going through the same thing? Though...no. Of course he wasn't. He was already a vampire.
Her thoughts grew more distant, reality twisting itself into a new shape. Betty forgot names and faces, their names disappearing inside a cavern that split open in her mind. Images flashes in front of her eyes, but she didn't recognise any of them. There was a young girl with long blonde hair, staring at herself in front of a mirror. But there was something...wrong with the little girl. Her pale face was splattered crimson, and her small hands were covered in scratches and cuts. There was something furled around the girl, as if protecting her. What were they? Why was the girl covered in blood?
"My name is Forsythe," a squeaky voice lit up in her mind, and Betty tried to grasp for the memory, but it slipped away before she could reach out.
"Betty?" the voice spiked in her ears, but she didn't move. It felt like not time had passed, but it was weird. Betty was in two places at once. Her body was still on Lodge House's kitchen floor, and her soul was drowning in liquid fire. She couldn't move. All she could was bathe in the fire, which was turning her inside out. Her body was shaking, rattling, and she was screaming through lips that were numb. The voice was so familiar. It was a girl. She was yelling, in some other time, some other alternate realm.
But for Betty, there was only the burning. The endless inferno ripping her apart.
"She didn't-" the girl was shouting, quickly turning into sobs. "She can't!" she was shrieking, over and over again. "Someone help her!"
"Cheryl, calm down." another voice. Male. Betty revelled in his voice. Her best friend. The boy who had been through everything with her since they were little kids.
"Now, there is one way. And don't fucking hold this to me, because I know next to nothing about Nephilim, but in here, it says her heart needs to stop."
The boy let out a frustrated hiss. "Listen to me, Cheryl. Jughead forced her to drink his blood, and it looks like Archie just took a chunk of her neck. If we don't do something she'd going to turn, so you need to chill the fuck out, okay?"
The girl whined. "Fine! What does your dumb book say?"
"I just told you! Her heart-" the boy's voice shook. "It says that to awaken a Nephilim's suppressed powers, you have to stop their heart. Nephilim can heal, so I figured-"
"She can reverse the transformation," The girl said quickly. "Once her powers blossom, she should be able to do anything. Healing a vampire bite should be easy. What do I do?"
It felt like the voices were bouncing around her skull. By now the burning had taken her body too, leaching inside, sizzling hell fire scorching her veins. Betty could do nothing but burn, and wait to die, listening to the strangers inside her skull.
"We need to be quick," The boy hissed. "You need to stop her heart, Cheryl."
"Right." the girl swore loudly. "No, I can do this. It's Betty Cooper for fuck's sake, she might be part angel, but she'll still the vein of my existence." Betty felt someone's cold hands suddenly brush her shirt, then her bare chest. Something clamped down on her heart.
"Wait, how exactly are you going to do this?" the boy asked.
"Venom straight to the heart." the girl replied. "It should stop it just long enough for her abilities to crawl back from wherever they've been all this time."
"And if this doesn't work?" the boy's voice grew closer. It sounded like he was looming over her, warm breath tickling her cheeks. "What happens if she doesn't manifest?"
The girl laughed. "It means I'll have another fledgling to look after. Kevin, there's a chance of her wings manifesting, as well as her completing the transformation."
He let out a breath, and Betty could swear that she could- sense it. His heartbeat, the pulsing in his neck, a rhythm she wanted to lose herself in. Something hit her nostrils, an aroma so sweet- so tantalising. She wanted to reach out for it, but she had no body, no arms. She simply hung suspended in the dark.
"Wouldn't that make her like them?" The boy said, after a dragged out pause. "A hybrid?"
He laughed nervously. "Right. So no pressure."
The girl's voice was suddenly ringing out, slamming into her ears. It deafened her, reverberating around her skull.
"Betty, you're gonna be brave for me, okay? And I swear to fucking god, if I imprint on you, I'm killing both of us."
There was a pause, before another stabbing pain. This time it was in her chest. Her heart was splintering, breaking apart. She felt every pieces of it shatter.
No! She pleaded with the voice. No, just let me die!
No. She managed to mentally whimper. Gathering disjointed pieces of her thoughts, Betty screamed into the inferno. She wanted to die.
She wanted to die.
Please. She begged.
Please kill me. Please.
After an eternity of burning, there was- warmth. Not fire. It felt lighter, like it was picking her up, filling inside of her, chasing away the flames.
Betty wasn't able to appreciate the sensation. But she felt it pushing away the fire, and pulling her further and further into something entirely else.
A white light. But she'd seen it before. Where had she seen it?
Which she happily walked into.
Okay so full disclosure, I want to continue this, but I need to know you’re reading. So if you are - even if you’re a ghost, please tell me you’re still here lmao. I feel ridiculous for posting again, but I can’t let go of this fic. Even if it seems like the universe wants to delete it from existence?? Or LB. regardless of circumstances. Hopefully something good will come out of this? Though idk what??? Gah. Onwards and upwards right? 🌷
Love you guys! And have a lovely day/night 💗🦋
Chapter 9: Hunger
I am so sorry for such a delay! But aHH it's here now!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Consciousness came slowly, gentle, almost like she was swimming, taking her time to break the surface. The sheets were warm and comforting, her head nestled against what felt like feathers. It was almost like an in-between place, that calming place between wake and sleep, where it was her decision, her choice whether or not she wanted to become fully awake. But the mere thought of waking up meant relinquishing her warmth and security under the blankets, and Betty didn’t want to do that. It was only when she was seconds from slipping back under the surface did all of the details come back to her, slamming into her with a force that had her gasping awake, her heart thudding against her chest. She could still feel Archie's fangs grazing her neck, teasing, playing, before taking a chunk out of her. It had burned. That's all she remembered; a vicious lightning storm lighting up her body, igniting her blood, her bones, everything inside her. She'd been trapped inside her own mind, screaming and begging to die, for death himself, or herself, to engulf her in their arms and take the pain away. Because Betty would rather die.
At that moment in time, Betty had wanted nothing but to rip out her own heart. If it meant stopping the pain. If it meant dying, then so be it. She would rather lose herself, lose her life, than let the inferno carry on, raging across her body, taking no cell mercy. Betty had read Twilight. And admittedly, the fiction wasn't that far away from the real experience. Bella had burned. And she had too. But Bella hadn't been half Nephilim. Bella had already intentionally fucked up her life by screwing a vampire.
Betty was the opposite. If she had the ability to turn back time, so it meant never knowing the existence of Angel's and Vampire's, she would in a heartbeat. But that would mean she would never have met Jughead, Archie and Veronica. Her roommates, originally human, then becoming fledglings and then unwillingly blood thirsty newborns before something entirely else. Would she really risk losing the memory of them, for some sense of normality? Her life back? That depended on who, or rather what they were now. Penelope Blossom, the catalyst for this whole mess had told them that Nephilim blood could give a vampire their soul back. If that was true, and she could get her roommates back- the originals. Then - no. Betty wouldn't turn her back on her new life. No matter how crazy and screwed up it was. At least she had the residents of Lodge House by her side. Sort of. Even if they weren't exactly human or, hell, not even fledglings anymore.
What had Cheryl called them? Hybrids. Part vampire and equal part Nephilim. That seemed to trigger her mind.
The onslaught of memories hit her like a tidal wave when she finally managed to break through the sleepy fog that had wrapped her up like a safety blanket.
The first thing Betty was acutely aware of was that she was no longer burning. Instead, her body felt- light. Impossibly light, as if she was floating on a cloud. Vampire. The word hit her thoughts like a tumultuous wave.
She should be a vampire. Panicking, she ran her dry tongue over her teeth, searching for a sharp point. But her teeth felt the same. There was no craving for blood burning in her throat, and she didn't feel transformed. But Archie had bitten her. The memory was so clear. Archie, or rather his evil counterpart's teeth ripping into her throat, and the blood- oh god, the blood. The burning. She had tossed and turned, trapped in her mind, before Cheryl Blossom had plunged vampire venom into her heart, inevitably changing her.
That's the only way she was alive, right?
But Betty didn't feel like a Vampire. She still felt like herself. her normal, impossibly mundane self. Betty inhaled, and- yes. She could still suck in breaths of air, and her lungs, as far as she was concerned, were still working as normal.
She went down a mental check list. Vampire's didn't need to breathe. When she held her breath, the all too familiar craving to suck in air came over her, and she was overcome with relief. It came fast, flooding through her, a swarm of warmth chasing away the venom which had scorched her insides, turning her whole body into a vicious inferno.
The first thing Betty glimpsed when she pried her eyes open, was the late Autumn sun filtering through the blinds swaying in front of the window in her room. And then with a thud of her heart, she noticed the figure, a silhouette standing in the window, bathed in warm golden light. Betty sat up a little straighter, suddenly feeling heavier. If that was possible. Shuffling back into the headboard, Betty took steady breaths, attempting to calm her racing pulse. It took her several seconds to realize the streams of vanilla light weren't coming from the sun. Instead, unbelievably, it was coming from the figure.
For some reason, she felt like she'd see this before. And she had. Back at Kevin's dorm when Cole had been tied to the chair, knocked out. He'd been ignited with golden light, the very same thing she was seeing now. But there was also something there, something nagging at the back of her mind. That wasn't the first time Betty had seen the light. It came from a memory long since suppressed, but gently grazing the back of her brain.
Betty squinted. She wasn't hallucinating. Her sleep deprived mind, and post death state had nothing to do with her perception. The light was beautiful, emanating from the figure, filling the room, and her. She felt...warm. Warm and safe. Reaching out a shaky hand, Betty entangled her fingers in the allure that swamped the room, like fairy dust.
She never thought she'd see real fairy dust. It was like Tinkerbell herself had flitted around her room, leaving a trail of gold in her wake. It was breath taking. She was momentarily enraptured by it, hypnotized by the heavenly glow. It made her feel giddy. When Betty reached over to clasp her fingers around the light, she felt something weighty- something hefty tipping her back against the mountain of pillows. But right then, that wasn't her concern. Instead, she focused on the figure, and let herself be enveloped by the light, squinting to try and catch their identity.
Jughead. Betty sucked in a breath. The boy seemed to bleed through the light, becoming less of silhouette, a shadow. Her heart stammered and for one second, one crazy, heart rending second, she thought he was dead. It would make sense, right? He'd died for the second time when Cheryl had force fed him her blood. What if he hadn't survived the second transformation? What if he was well and truly dead? Surrounded by a golden aura, a ghostly light forming gentle hands, coaxing him into some sort of afterlife. Just like the movies. As if Jughead had read her mind, he stepped out of the light which seemed to fade slightly, as if it had been a product of her own wild imagination. The boy looked- different. That's the only word Betty could conjure up in her muddle of thoughts.
Betty could only stare at him. His expression resembled that of an excited toddler. The boy wore a white shirt and jeans, and the white- it contrasted his chocolate curls hanging over his forehead perfectly, those liquid gold eyes burning into her own. She was breathless. He blinked once, then twice, showing off his ability to switch the colours of his eyes. "Cool right?" Jughead's grin was unnerving to say the least, especially when his eyes looked like they were unsure on what colour they wanted to be, flashing from a mesmerizing gold, to a blood red. It was almost like the Nephilim and Vampire parts of him were battling each other. Betty couldn't take her eyes off him.
“Jughead.” She murmured, an acute pain in the back of her head striking across her skull.
His lip curled into a smile. “You know me so well, sweetheart.”
There was something about the way he said that, the tone of his voice, that made her jerk slightly. Why exactly, she didn’t know. But Jughead was here. He was alive. The boy laughed, and Betty realized she’d never heard him properly laugh.
"Who says I’m dead?" His voice sounded smooth, sweet- like wind chimes. And she swore, he sounded- off. There was a certain tone in his voice that unsettled her. "Though I like that's where your mind went.” Jughead leaned against the wall casually, folding his arms. “Speaking of. How are you doing? Archie took a pretty fatal bite out of your neck, so how exactly are you standing here, Betty Cooper?”
Betty stared at him, her gut twisting. The joy, the swarm of butterflies that had filled her at seeing the boy alive, dispersed into nothing and made way for a slither of dread which crept down her spine. “I’m not a-” she almost choked on the word “vampire” but the corners of his lips curved slightly.
“A vampire?” he cocked his brow, and suddenly the light in the room dimmed, leaving Jughead the only source, practically emitting it.
He looked like he was glowing, bathed in golden tendrils of light that she so badly wanted to reach out and touch. Betty had wanted to touch him ever since he forced her to drink from him, since his blood, which tasted like liquid chocolate, ran down her throat. “How do you know that?”
She lost her breath. “I’m breathing,” she choked. “I have a heartbeat.”
At that moment, she couldn’t move. She couldn’t reach her heart with her hand. Because her body was frozen. Jughead didn’t seem fazed. He hummed softly, still with that eerie smile. “Are you sure you’re breathing, Betty?”
“Yes.” She whispered. But she hadn’t…checked. She was so used to doing such a simple action, would she ever realise that she’d stopped? When she sucked in a breath, it felt wrong. Her chest felt like it was swelling up, her lungs refusing to take in oxygen.
He smiled knowingly. “You okay there?”
“Stop it.” Betty swallowed, tears prickling in her eyes. “Please. I’m alive. I’m human. I have a heartbeat.”
Jughead chuckled. “Do you, though?” In a blink of an eye he was standing directly in front of her, his smile growing exponentially. He reached out and took her hand, leading it to her chest. “Listen.” He murmured, leaning in. “Do you hear anything, Betty?”
No. No she didn’t.
“I do.” Tears were slipping down her cheeks now.
She didn’t. Oh god, she couldn’t sense anything. Even when she pressed harder and inhaled, there was nothing. Betty didn’t feel or hear a heartbeat. Jughead cocked his brow. “So, you’re not breathing, and you don’t have a heartbeat. Does that seem human to you, Betty? Because I for one have never met a human who didn’t have a pulse or no longer craved the need to breathe air into their lungs.”
It almost felt like liquid fire was drowning her all over again. Or maybe it had never stopped. Perhaps the splintered pieces of her were still stuck in her mind, engulfed in flames. Trapped. She couldn’t answer. Betty wanted to laugh it off and insist that yes, she did have a beating heart and yes, she was breathing. But she couldn’t, because her chest hadn’t expanded like it was supposed to. She didn’t feel the need to breathe, to inhale and exhale like normal. She felt dead. Lifeless.
“And the penny drops.” Jughead removed his hand from her chest and moved closer, cradling her face. She wanted to back away from him, she wanted to run. But he was too strong. Too fast. He knew all of her moves before she even considered them. Betty’s mind was starting to fail, like an engine that turns over and over, never kicking into action. She couldn't formulate a thought. Betty couldn’t help letting out a soft gasp at his touch, and the boy’s smile widened. “Come on Betty. You know you’re not human anymore,” he giggled. It was so childish, so playful, and all too familiar. If she had a heart in this plane of existence, wherever the hell she was, it would have beaten right out of her chest.
She recognised that titter, and the bottom fell out of her. His name burned her tongue, but it wouldn’t come out. The worst thing was that he was right. She wasn’t human anymore, was she? Betty had died on Lodge’s house’s living room floor beside her killer. Archie Andrews, her fledgling roommate turned full vampire by Riverdale’s own Cruella Deville, Penelope Blossom. The images of him stalking towards her flickered across her memory; blood red eyes, fangs curled in a predatory snarl, before his teeth had ripped into her, sucking the breath from her lungs. White hot agony. Fire. Ice. The pain had ravaged through her, striking through her like lightning bolts. She had managed to get up, but blood was pooling from her neck, it was stuck to her hands, caked to the carpet. She was bleeding out. As the memories hit, her knees hit the floor. Of course. She hadn’t woken up. She had no heartbeat. She wasn’t breathing. Betty squeezed her eyes shut.
She was dead.
Then where was she? Why did everything look so real, when in fact not? Her room in Lodge house looked the same. The same violet curtains and cream carpet, her suit cases and bags, piles of clothes still littering the floor. Everything looked the same, just how she'd left it. Betty ducked her head, tears slipping down her cheeks. It was cruel to place her in what had been her place of comfort, where she always felt safe.
“Open your eyes.”
His voice was soft, but there were harsh undertones. She blinked one eye open, then the other. “That’s it.” Jughead spoke softly. It became painfully obvious that it wasn’t Jughead in front of her. The thing had his face, but that was it. He slowly sat on his knees in front of the trembling blonde, reaching towards Betty and cradling her face, swiping hot tears that trickled down her cheeks. She shivered, unable to pull away.
“Don’t cry, sweetheart.”
The nickname brought back memories which hit her like a wave, threatening to bring Betty to her knees. The boy wasn’t Jughead. It was his doppelganger. Betty knew she should have felt fear striking her from all directions, ice sliding up and down her spine. But instead she felt nothing. Numb. She glared at him, forcing herself to stay calm. Even if she didn’t have to breathe, she forced an inhale. He tilted his head, his eyes hardening. “Why are you trying to force breath into your lungs?” He mused. The boy looked genuinely curious. “Elizabeth, you don’t need to breathe here.”
“Get away from me.” She spat out. “Where...where am I?”
“Let’s play a different game,” he murmured, taking a step towards her. “Who am I? Guess right, and I’ll tell you all you need to know.” He held up his pinkie, fangs flashing. “Pinkie swear?”
None-existent breath caught in her throat.
“You’re his…you’re the other side of him.” She began to tremble, wrapping her arms around herself for comfort. “You took over him like a parasite.”
The words rolled from her tongue before she could stop them, but he just looked amused, scoffing. “Get over yourself, Blondie. I’m the better parts of him. You know that.”
His eyes twinkled, and she could taste his blood in the back of her throat once more. Liquid chocolate running through her, igniting her, changing her. Betty remembered how much she wanted to continue, to drink until she had savoured every last drop of him. Until she couldn't drink anymore, until she had drained him, and he was nothing but skin and bone, the shell of a monster. She wanted to kill him, make him suffer for what he'd done. That thought didn't feel natural, but it came to her, seeping into her mind like spoiled milk. But Betty didn't push it away, like she usually shoved bad thoughts to the back of her mind. She embraced it. She wanted to feed from him like he was the last thing, her last source of food. Her last...her last....as quick as it had come, the thought dissolved, and she was left trying to grab for it. It was poison drowning her mind, eating away at her. Shaking her head rapidly, Betty fought to stay calm.
But it wasn’t just his blood that she wanted. Even when Cheryl and Kevin had managed to knock Cole out, she felt something towards him. It was like a pull she couldn’t yank herself away from, the feeling of loss if she didn’t get close to him. And when Cheryl had force fed him Nephilim blood, it almost felt like his pain was affecting her, pushing her to help him, save him from the monstrous humans who were trying to force him from Jughead's body. It had been hard to look away from him, trapped in his eyes, drowning in a sea of blazing red. But she recalled not wanting to look away. While Cheryl had wrestled with the boy, pouring nephilim blood into his mouth, she had been paralysed, every inch of her wanting to lunge forwards and rag Cheryl away from him.
Once again, the thought sprung into her mind without warning. She shook her head, an accute pain striking across her temples. “Get out of my head.”
The boy held his hands up. “Hey, that’s all you, Elizabeth. I’m not making you think or feel anything," his eyes seemed to brighten. The raven haired boy waggled his eyebrows. "Are you getting hunger pangs? Did you enjoy drinking from me, sweetheart?"
Part of her did. At least the animal that had been let loose inside of her when he had forced his blood down her throat. She didn't reply. It couldn't be hunger pangs. Cheryl had saved her, right? Brushing her tongue against her teeth, there were no spikes, no hidden fangs ready to spring. She couldn't be a vampire. The fledglings turned newborns, and then hybrids, had told her about their awakening. Archie said he felt empty, like nothing, no food or drink in the world could satisfy him. His mouth had watered, his body feeling light as a feather, senses alleviated. Archie could see perfectly, glimpse every fibre in front of him, every spectre on the colour scale- as well as being able to hear a conversation three blocks away. It was overwhelming, Archie had said, like being hit in the face with so many sensations, human and supernatural emotions swamping him like a tidal wave. As for the blood thirst, it had only truly hit him when he'd gotten a whiff of Cheryl Blossom's blood, which had turned him, twisting him into a monster. But Betty didn't feel like a monster. Her vision hadn't changed, except from being slightly feathered around the edges. She could still hear normally. Nothing had changed.
So why did she feel like she had?
"You won't know here." he murmured, cutting her thoughts off. "This place is just a reflection."
Betty swallowed hard. "A reflection?"
Cole nodded. "Sort of. Like a mirror image." His eyes flashed playfully. "Think Alice In Wonderland, but better." he waited for her to reply, but wouldn't give him the satisfaction. "Anyway, you still haven't played my game," his voice was sing-song, whimsical, chilling her to the bone. What's my name, sweetheart? You get two guesses."
Betty narrowed her eyes. "I know who you are," she gritted out. "Tell me how to get back."
His eyes darkened. "Not until you tell me my name."
Betty bit her lip. Playing his game would just allow the vampire to mess with her further, but she had to find a way to get out. If the boy was serious, there might be a way to find her way back. She didn't move, forcing herself to stop shaking. "Your name is Cole," she said flatly. "You took over the body of Jughead, and tried to kill me multiple times before Cheryl sent you back to whatever crevice you came from."
Cole chuckled. "Bingo." he said. "And hey, I was victimised. I'm not even supposed to exist. I only do because your idiot boyfriend wanted to stay a fledgling, he wanted to stay human," he pulled a face, rolling his eyes. Jughead Jones actually thought he could push me, the best parts of him away. His true vampiric side. Which is so fucking sweet, don't you think? Man, I thought Jug had some kind of strength? But the second he sniffed out human blood, he let me in so easily! It was cute, though." Cole winked. "I admire his pathetic obsession with staying mortal. Your roommates are quite extraordinary, avoiding us for as long as they did."
"You're a leech." Betty managed to choke out, her lip curling. "You can't survive without your other half, so you take over him instead."
His smile disappeared. "Enough about me," he said. "You want to know where you are, and what exactly you are, so let me enlighten you." Cole leaned close, his breath tickling her cheeks. She tried to pull back, but he grabbed her chin, forcing her to look directly at him. His was almost melancholic. "First of all, shockingly; “You're dead."
“Well, obviously.” Betty spat, her gaze bouncing around the room, seeking a way out. Where was there to run? The room seemed to be getting narrower, closing in on her from all four corners. Forcing her gaze back to Cole, she swallowed. “What happened to me?”
He shrugged, adapting a look of boredom. “You had your throat ripped out by that bloodthirsty roommate of yours who was on a serious blood binge, and then Princess Blossom forced vampire venom into your heart, killing you instantly." he tightened his grip on her, claw-like nails digging into her flesh. "But you know this, Betty. You remember lying on the floor, Cheryl hanging over you. You remember her plunging venom into your heart. You remember Kevin's voice, and the pain. The pain you thought was going to rip you apart." as he spoke, his smile grew progressively wider, eyes flittering from blood red, to blinding gold. Even Cole had been effected by Jughead's transformation. The boy was his doppelganger, the evil side of him. Of course he too would become part Nephilim. But Betty knew which side dominated him. His smile was cruel, dark eyes gleaming. "You remember Archie draining the life out of you, and my blood which was still dormant in your system slowly coming back to life inside your veins, changing you."
Betty bit back a sob. "I'm not a vampire."
He laughed. "Well, sure. You're not a vampire. But you're not human, either. So, the million dollar question is, what exactly are you now?"
"Let me go," she whimpered.
Cole regarded her with amused eyes, lips twisted in disgust. "You're just as pathetic as him," he hissed.
"Having all the power in the world and throwing it away for a boring mortal existence. You disgust me. Both of you. I wish I could bleed dear Jughead dry, but there would be complications. Obviously I can't kill myself, but I can torture him. He might think he's won, Betty. But I'm always at the back of his mind, urging him to hunt, to drink from humans. And when he lets his guard down, I'll slip back into rightful place." His expression turned smug. "You'd like that though, right? After all, it's my blood you guzzled down your throat, babe. Not his."
His words were like daggers in her spine. Betty wouldn't lose her sanity for the sake of satisfying him. "I said let me go!"
Cole shrugged, tipping his head back, his eyes switching from red, to brown to gold. "I mean I could, but then how would you learn to fight, huh?" he curled his lip. "You're Nephilim, Betty. The daughter of an angel and mortal, a being made solely to piss of vampires. You are the literal fucking embodiment of light." He snarled, "So, where are those wings you've been teasing me with, hm?"
She couldn't help it, the words came out like word vomit, despite her predicament. "You know Jughead is partially Nephilim now, right? Which means so are you." Betty choked out a hysterical laugh, which bounced around the room, reverberating from the walls. Her vision blurred for a moment, and she blinked rapidly, trying to wrench away. She was filled with sudden confidence, a fiery urge to fight back. "You're the demonic replica of my friend, a hellish being bent on destroying him. But you are him!" she tried kicking him, but he growled, shoving her harder against the wall. Betty bit back a squeak.
"Where...where are yours?" She was stammering over her words. "You're a copy of him, so you...you should have wings too!" she shrieked, trying to tear herself from him once more. But he had her in a throttlehold, his fingers like clamps around her neck. "Get off me!"
Cole's eyes grew turbulent. "You'd be wrong there, sweetheart," before her brain could snap into full awareness so she could make a run for it, he grabbed her by the throat, pressing, closing, until she finally felt the overwhelming urge to suck in oxygen. Betty could have cried, thriving on the fact that she still needed to breathe. But her delight was over-shadowed by the sudden need to gasp for air, blocked by his fingers which were digging into her flesh. Betty tried clawing at him, tried to peel his fingers from her neck, but he only grinned, tightening his grip. This had happened before, she could remember the exact same sensations running through her. The inability to breathe, the sharp pain rocketing through her chest and panic engulfing her brain, setting off fight or flight. Cole looked triumphant, his pleasant smile slowly widened, grew, till it wasn't a smile at all but a contortion of teeth, exposed and glistening.
"Sweet little Betty, you might be Nephilim, but you have the brains of a neanderthal," he cackled, nibbling the flesh of her neck. "As a matter of fact, myself and my human twin are quite different. I am simply a reflection of him until we merge. All he has to do is drink human blood, and we become one once again." he let out a dramatic sigh. "I'm afraid I don't get the wings, dude. As much as I'd love them, of course."
"I'm not anything," Betty whispered through the gutter of her throat. "I'm just-"
"Human." Cole finished in a soft murmur. He let go of her and she slipped to the ground, gasping for breath. Part of her wanted to lunge up and attack him, with phantom senses suddenly taking her over, drowning logic. But the rest of her stayed glued to the floor. He loomed over her with calculating eyes. "Why not look in the mirror?"
Betty stared up at the vampire, her expression crumpling. "What?"
He shrugged. "You heard me. Look in the mirror, and then tell me you're human."
In the blink of an eye, Betty was standing again. But this time, there was a mirror in front of her. The looking glass that she found herself staring into was fully sized, showing her reflection. It was wall-mounted; encircled by a frame of threadlike strands of silver, interlaced together in a mock-liana arrangement. She was looking at herself, who of course looked a mess. The first thing she took notice of was her bloody clothes, her neck caked cardinal, blonde hair hanging in rats tails. Betty risked a step forwards, getting a better look. She glimpsed hard blue eyes just about peeking though her hair, cheeks drained of colour. Slowly, she ran her hand down her blood spattered face, then her neck, cringing when flakes of blood stuck to her nails. "So? What do you think?"
She nearly jumped out of her skin when Cole appeared, with his usual smirk. The vampire stood behind her. "Still think you're human?"
Betty's gaze never left the mirror. "I don't understand," her voice shook. "How does this dictate if I'm human or not?"
He chuckled. "Look closer."
And she did, moving almost as if she was in a trance. Betty didn't stop until she was nose to nose with her reflection. Until the image of herself in the glass blurred, before disappearing completely. She was there, and then she was gone. Betty stayed still, staring at the empty glass, willing her reflection to come back, before she bled back into existence. But this time she wasn't staring at herself. At least not her current self. The girl was familiar, and it came back to her in snap shots. It was her own double who had bled into reality from the rain; a pale, smiling girl with blood red lips, golden curls illuminating the dark. Before, she had been translucent, practically a ghost seeping into the real world. A reflection.
But this time the girl looked more prominent, more real. She shared Betty's reflection, but with key attributes. Her cheeks were porcelain white, lips smeared crimson. The girl wore a short red dress that perfectly fit her, bare feet caked in dirt. She studied Betty for a moment, dark eyes cloudy red, before her lips broke out into a fanged smile. "It's been so long," the girl murmured, cocking her head in a childish manner. "Can I come out now? I've been in so much pain."
Betty swallowed, beginning to back away. But Cole grabbed her, shoving her forwards. "What kind of pain?" he addressed the girl in the mirror.
"Hunger." Her reflection moaned. "I'm so hungry." she pressed her hands against the glass, her expression growing forlorn. Betty noticed there was a slight crack, a spider web of splintered glass. The girl tapped it gingerly, her eyes flashing.
"Please let me out. I'm... oh god, I'm so hungry."
"What does it feel like, Elizabeth?" The vampire addressed the girl, before winking at Betty. "I haven't thought of a name for her yet. Though I have ideas."
"Like I'm being ripped apart!" the girl threw herself against the glass, snarling, her fangs curling, eyes turning into pools of black. "Please! Please, let me out!"
"In due time," Cole murmured. There was something in his eyes that she had never seen before. Sympathy. Only the tiniest amount, barely even visible. But she still saw it, seeping from him. It was for the girl. "Hold on, okay?" He turned back to Betty with questioning eyes. "Do you want to know why you're stuck here? I mean I could be a total dick and let you figure it out on your own, but you drank my blood, Sweetheart," he wrinkled his nose. "Even if you turned Jughead into a hybrid, I can't seem to hate you."
His dark eyes assessed her with interest. The irises were nearly black, just a hint of ruby around the edges. Thirsty.
Betty was frozen. Her gaze flittered from her vampire twin still tapping on the glass, to Cole's dark expression. "Why?" she held his gaze. "Why am I here?"
The vampire rolled his eyes. "I think you know why you're here," he started to circle her, practically dancing around her. "Lets say not all vampires are as lucky as your friends. When transformed, they come here and have a choice, which is fairly easy. They look at two versions of themselves. Their human self and their vampiric self. And they choose. Obviously they don't choose human, because their human selves are dead," he stopped hopping around her like a hyperactive toddler, stopping inches from her.
Betty bit her lip against a frustrated cry. "Stay back."
The boy smiled coyly. "If only you had a way to make me, Sweetheart."
Her cheeks burned, which only set him off chuckling again. "Annyyywayyy," he continued. "It happens during the transformation, during the burning. So when humans think they're drowning in hell fire, they're actually here," seeing her expression, Cole blew a raspberry. "Jughead was well overdue, so I took over anyway, regardless of what he wanted. But you? Betty Cooper, you don't choose whether you're vampire or human."
Betty already knew what he was going to say, her lips mouthing his words as he said them.
"I choose whether I'm Vampire or Nephilim."
Cole grinned. "Bingo."
She swallowed hard. "But-"
"It's a confusing situation with Jughead. He and the others ran away from their vampiric nature so we broke out of the mirror and chased them." he shrugged, flashing a grin. "If you think about it, there's not really a choice. It's vampire or death. Jughead is a peculiar. He and the others are the very first hybrids ever made, so I can assure you they won't last long," Cole hummed, his eyes going skyward. "The need to consume human blood will overpower Nephilim blood, no matter how so-called powerful angel essence is. After all, you can't tame a vampire, Sweetheart. Your boy won't be able to resist himself," his gaze fell back to her, a sly smile pricking his lips. "And besides, he'll find he's got a little bit of me inside of him. So won't that be fun?"
Betty ignored him, even when the thought of Jughead mixed with Cole made her feel queasy.
Another mirror appeared. An exact replica next to her vampire counterpart. This time when she looked into it, another version of her appeared. Again, she looked the same. But there was no blood, no fangs. The girl was bathed in a golden aura, like the one she'd seen around Jughead when he became a hybrid. Her hair looked almost alive, like physical tendrils of light stuck to her scalp. She wore a small smile, blue eyes flecked with gold burning into her own. It didn't take Betty long to spot them. Wings. They were nearly as tall as her body, arcing off her back like a concave reflection. Each long, narrow feather was ratty and grey, every inch of her bleeding that wonderful golden light.
Betty looked between the two, her mind racing into several directions before her gaze seemed to settle on the version of herself with razor sharp teeth and blood staining her chin and fingertips. There was something compelling, captivating about this doppelgänger, something almost powerful that had her stepping towards it without thinking.
What the hell was she doing?
Cole scoffed behind her. "It's tantalising, isn't it?" he murmured. "It's not just the bloodthirst that pulls you in, Betty. It's that you'll be carefree. Emotions won't matter to you, and you can switch them off whenever it suits you." the boy's breath tickled her ear and she shivered, her gaze stuck to her reflection. "You'll be strong, Betty. Confident. Haven't you always wanted to fit into Lodge House? Don't you feel left out being the only human?" He cleared his throat. "Wait, sorry. I mean the Nephilim girl without wings. C'mon sweetheart, don't you want to live eternally with Jughead Jones?"
Yes. The realization shocked her. Betty had spent so much time despising the idea of becoming a vampire, she had never considered the possibility of living forever with Archie, Veronica and Jughead. The four of them, eighteen years old forever.
"That's more like it!"
The boy's voice was quickly becoming a buzz of white noise in her ears. Betty was quickening her pace until she was directly in front of her monstrous self. She was reaching, pressing her hand against the glass. It was almost hypnotizing, the pull that came over her mind, drowning logic, drowning coherent thought and yanking her further into the mirror. It was so easy. Just a little more, and no more overthinking. No more worrying about everyone but herself. She would be totally at peace with herself.
She'll hurt her loved ones.
Each postulation hit her one by one, seemingly snapping her out of it. Images of her friends turned blood-crazed beasts filled her mind; Jughead grinning at her, empty eyes, blood pooling from his chin. Archie blinking at her rapidly, Cheryl Blossom staining his his fingers. Even Cheryl herself- the Blossom princess. The way she'd attacked Cole with impossible speed, her scarlet hands wrapped around his neck, trying to dislodge his head.
She wouldn't turn into a monster.
Betty jerked away from the mirror with a sharp gasp, regaining control of her limbs, her brain kicking into gear. Before she could hesitate and second guess herself, she was backing away. There were two separate entities inside of her battling for dominance. She cried out when icy hands gripped her shoulders, yanking her back. Cole wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her close, his lips nipping her ear. "You're cute, Betty. Really. You and Jughead really are made for each other." the vampire snarled. "But like I said, no matter how hard you try, you'll never escape who you truly are. Who you want to be. Because you can't deny it anymore, can you? The hunger is driving you insane."
"Wrong," she spat. Even when he was right. There was something there, right in the pit of her gut, and all it wanted to do was devour every living, breathing thing in its path.
Betty couldn't speak, everything she wanted to say was twisted in the back of her throat, alphabet soup scrambled in her brain. She squirmed out of his grasp, managing to shove her elbows into his gut. To her surprise, he let her go with a choked laugh before backing away, shaking his head. "I almost pity you, Betty. You can't hide behind your wings forever. Especially when you know, deep down, what you want to be."
She pressed her hands over her ears, and he laughed. "Hey, I'm just speaking your thoughts. Give Jughead my regards," he chuckled. "I'm sure we'll see each other soon."
"What?" the word spluttered from her lips, just as the vampire oozed out of existence, his smirk still lighting up the din.
The vampires words pricked the back of her mind, but she couldn't think about them right now. The mirrors were still there, both reflections staring at her with wide eyes.
Betty had made her choice. She wouldn't hurt people.
When Cole was gone, Betty strode towards her nephilim self. Her reflection smiled back at her, blue eyes flickering with golden light. She looked around the room once again, the fake projection of her room at Lodge House. The room looked to be slowly falling apart, fading into nothing. Nephilim Betty held out her hand, pale fingers grasping for hers, her smile reassuring. This time she didn't hesitate. Betty wrapped her hand around her reflections wrist, allowing the winged girl to pull her into the mirror. Ignoring Jughead's Doppelgangers final words which were still stuck to the back of her mind, Betty allowed herself to be enveloped in nothing. It was like wading into warm water, sinking under a gentle current that rocked her into slumber, while familiar warmth bled into her.
But as she fell, careening into comfortable darkness, the unmistakable sound of splintered glass shattered her ears.
"Betty! Shit, wake up!!
The voice was familiar, sending a rush of both fear and warmth shooting inside of her. It didn't take long for Betty to slide back to consciousness. The first thing she noticed, apart from the voice, was how light she felt. It almost felt like she was floating in shallow water, submerged in the ocean. The memories hit her in a tidal wave; the burning, phantom hands tearing into her body and liquid fire igniting her veins. The memory was fading but she remembered the dim lit room, and two mirrors. She remembered Jughead's doppelganger's icy breath in her ear, his teeth grazing the curve of her throat.
"Betty?" The voice grew desperate, and her gut twisted. Archie. Or maybe it was his evil counterpart. Her eyes flickered, peels of light slowly beginning to filter through her lashes. The thought of the monster looming over her, grinning manically, sent her heart into her throat. That was impossible though. The vampire had bitten her, his psycho twin drank deep, ingesting Nephilim blood. Shivering at the memory, Betty sucked in a breath, revelling in the feeling. She could breathe again. When she lifted her arm up and pressed it gingerly to her chest, there was a heartbeat. She sat up, blinking her eyes open, her vision blurring before bleeding into high definition. It was disorienting, sending her thoughts into a whirlwind. Lodge House's living room came into focus around her, but it was much brighter. The windows were dark. She cocked her head. How much time had passed?
For a moment, Betty was confused. Her head was pounding, and every memory that battered her skull was inebriating, muddling her brain. Betty felt light, but also heavy. Her back was itching, stabbing pains shooting up and down her spine. When she held out her hand and waved it experimentally, her skin was snow white. When she stared for long enough, she could almost make out a dim golden light writhing between her fingertips. Everything was so overwhelming, plunging her into confusing mind fog. It was like someone had placed a filter over her eyes, amplifying her senses to the point of seeing and hearing things she couldn't. If Archie had heartbeat, she'd hear it. But she only heard her own.
"Betty?" Archie's voice sounded different. Though she couldn't put her finger on it. It sounded lighter. Right now, she couldn't focus on him. Everything was springing out at her, things she had never noticed before. Looking down, she glimpsed each individual strand, every fiber which made up the sheep skin rug she was sitting on. It was a favourite of Veronica's and had been ruined, splattered with blood as she'd bled out all over it. It was strange. She was definitely back in the real world, but right then, it felt like she was floating. But Betty felt the floor beneath her. She placed her hands palms down on the wooden floor, just to make sure. She definitely wasn't floating.
Lodge House hadn't changed, though she wasn't sure why she expected it to. The living room was still homely, and she already felt the house's gentle caress greeting her back from the dark. Betty frowned at the coffee table strewn with comics and coffee mugs. Every cover in each comic jumped out at her, the illustrations in perfect clarity, varying in genres and series. Though whatever was happening, she couldn't control it.]
Suddenly, everything was interesting. Everyday objects that she hadn't looked twice at before. Every coffee cup, the stickers on Jughead's laptop and the leftover pizza coagulating on the floor from that very first night. Her mouth watered at the thought of eating it. But the hunger felt different. Normally, she could control it until she grabbed some ramen or cooked herself something. But as soon as her gaze was on the pizza, counting each individual piece of moldy bacon, a gnawing feeling took over, freezing her into place. She wanted to lunge for it. She wanted to rip it apart, demolishing each individual piece. The intrusive thought made her feel sick. She was losing it.
No, she wasn't. Betty assured herself. She had chosen her Nephilim side.
But she knew these feelings. Every single one of them was a sign of vampire transformation. But heart was still beating. She was still human.
Betty focused on the comics, wrinkling her brows and forcing the thought to the back of her mind.
Guardians Of The Galaxy - Special Edition.
Spider Man - "The Amazing Spider-man"
The Walking Dead- Issue 67
The Walking Dead- Issue 68
The Walking Dead - Issue 1
Twisting around, Betty blinked rapidly. Archie Andrews was kneeling in front of her, and she felt her heart stutter. She had no doubt it wasn't Archie; wearing his usual boyish smile, mocha eyes crinkled around the edges with worry. His red hair was a curly mess, sticking up everywhere. She could almost pretend, just for a second, that he was human again. If it wasn't for her blood smearing his lips and chin. It seemed to trail down him, staining his neck and the white dress shirt. But she couldn't deny that there was something different about him. His skin was still pale, practically translucent, but there was colour to his cheeks, like strawberries dipped in yogurt. The same aura buzzing around her fingers seemed to be fleeting around him as if it was alive, bathing him in heavenly light that magnified his features. She couldn't help staring. The residents of Lodge House had always been beautiful. But now the boy looked almost angelic.
A hybrid, Betty thought dizzily. He was half Nephilim now.
"Dude!" The vampire snapped his fingers in front of Betty's face and she drew back, swallowing a cry. When she sized him up, her lip curling, Archie gave her a sheepish smile. "Hey, so uh- we've got a problem." he rushed out in a breath, his expression frenzied. “And I know I just technically ripped out your throat, which definitely goes down as a douche bag move,." He pulled a face. "If you're still pissed off with me, I give you permission to drive a stake through my heart. Hell, I'll even move out if you're uncomfortable living here. But right now? You need to listen to me."
Betty felt irritation prickle through her.
"I need to listen to you?" she bit back a hiss, finding her words. "You killed me!"
Archie cocked his head. "No, I didn't! Well, I guess I did. But, I mean..." he trailed off, before letting out a frustrated breath. "You look pretty alive to me?"
She could have punched him.
And then driven a damn stake through his heart.
"Jug and Ronnie," she gasped out. "Where are they?"
He shrugged. "My guess is as good as yours."
Betty couldn't help it. She sat up properly, glaring the vampire down. "Are you even you?" she demanded, despite already knowing. There was no way his other self would be able to control himself being so close to her.
Archie ran a hand through his hair, letting out a sigh. "Of course it's me. Look, we can talk about my psychotic ass of a doppelganger later. But for now?" he lowered his voice. "Your mom is here."
The vampires words sent shivers rippling up and down her spine. "What?" she bit back a squeak, suddenly conscious of the state of herself. "My mom?"
Archie nodded grimly. He jumped up, offering his hand. Betty grabbed it, letting the vampire pull her to unsteady feet. Her head spun, and she blinked back stars. Archie clawed his fingernails down his face. "I woke up to her screaming, and panicked," he groaned. I'm not strong enough to compel her, so I've been telling her to make coffees."
Betty actually laughed. "What?"
He eyed her, his lip curling. "It's not funny. I can only influence her mind slightly, so I've been distracting her from asking questions by telling her to make coffee."
Betty's gaze snapped to the plethora of coffee mugs littering the table. "Right," she murmured. Archie hummed, his nostrils flaring. "Yep. Jug is going to kill me for using all the coffee. It's the only thing we can drink without wanting to vomit."
Betty was momentarily taken off guard. "But you're a full vampire now."
He cocked his brow. "So? We've always been able to drink coffee. It's like a vampires comfort drink."
Whatever she was going to say was choked at the back of her throat when her mother stepped into the lounge, holding two steaming cups. She set down the mugs, before straightening up with a tight smile. "Elizabeth." she said calmly, her blue eyes glazed over. "When were you planning on telling me you were living with vampires?"
Betty was tongue tied. Every time she looked her mom in the eye, her stomach twisted, her throat burned, and all Betty could think about was the phantom aroma in her nose, pushing her to get closer to her mother. It was her perfume, it must have been. But the scent didn't even have a smell. At least it wasn't one that she could make out.
Tears sprung to her eyes. Betty kept her distance. "Mom, I-"
Alice's eyes hardened. She took a step forwards, and Betty couldn't resist one back, choking on the smell that flooded her nose. "Boys, too! Bloodsucking, polygon boys!"
"Polyamory." Betty said quietly.
Her mother's narrowed eyes flashed to Archie. "Tell me, KJ. How long have you been a vampire?"
Archie's expression was nonchalant. "I'm not a vampire, Miss C," he said calmly. "And my name is Archie."
She scoffed. "Don't be ridiculous! My daughter's blood is all over your mouth!"
Archie cursed under his breath before slowly walking over to the bristling woman, keeping his steps slow. Alice didn't back away. "Miss Cooper, I'm actually pretty thirsty right now. Do you mind making us some coffee?" He lay his hands on her shoulders, maintaining eye contact. "Be real slow about it too, alright? I'm gonna need five cups."
Alice looked like she might argue, her lip trembling, before her expression relaxed.
"Of course, Archie." Betty watched, baffled, as her mother turned and walked back into the kitchen. When the door shut quietly behind her, the redhead twisted around to Betty, brown eyes wide. "You need to let me bite you," he hissed. "It's either I drink, like a smidge of your blood, or your crazy mother reveals the existence of vampires."
"She's not crazy!"
"This is her a little compelled! Do you want to see what she's like free of influence?"
Betty didn't. "Okay," she said quickly. "What's your plan?"
The redhead sighed. "I need to feed from you to get my energy back."
She couldn't help her snark. "What's stopping you from bleeding me dry?"
Archie looked hurt. "You know I'd never hurt you," he said sincerely. "Obviously, except from when I'm possessed by an evil entity hell bent on taking over my body. But seriously, Betty. You can trust me." The boy's smile was gentle, and she could almost forget how terrifying, monstrous, his doppelganger had acted. Even if the thing had his face, it wasn't Archie. She swallowed with a shaky nod. "Okay."
"Sure?" the boy looked uncertain.
Betty shrugged. "What other choice do we have?" She felt a curl of nausea in the pit of her stomach, but as much as she hated the idea of the boy biting her again, he was right. If her mother wasn't compelled, they were in trouble. She held her breath and pulled up her sweater sleeve, slithers of regret already creeping into her head.
"Just do it."
Archie nodded. "Right. But not here. Your mom will a have a goddamn aneurysm if she sees me feeding from you."
The vampire led her upstairs, pulling her gently into his music room. She sat down on the wooden chair by the piano and held out her arm, squeezing her eyes shut. But after a few seconds of nothing, she opened her eyes, peering at the redhead who stood over her looking uncomfortable. It was the first time the boy looked vulnerable. Warm browns found her gaze. "It was a shitty thing I did, Betty. I know it wasn't actually me, but I can still..." he scrunched his face up, lips curling. "I can see what he did to you."
Betty felt a pang in her chest. "It wasn't you." she said, her voice breaking slightly.
Archie shook his head. "It still feels like it was. I can see everything in vivid detail, how he..." the boy bit his lip and shook his head. He dropped to his knees beside her, heaving out a breath. "Anyway, we should get this over with."
Betty nodded, offering him her arm. "Knock yourself out." she sent him a small smile, but Archie Andrews already had a tight grip on her arm, human features dripping away, his expression twisting, eyes flashing crimson. He could already smell her, his nostrils flaring as Archie sniffed the air, a whine escaping his lips. "Fuck," he sent her an apologetic smile, which broke into a stretch of glistening needle points stained crimson. It took everything inside her not to reel back, retracting her arm and yanking it away.
"Are you sure you're okay with this?"
"No," she gritted out. "Can you just get it over with?"
With a deep breath, as though he was trying to steel himself, Archie sank his teeth into the soft flesh of her inner arm, the pain sharp enough to cause Betty to hiss out, but she remained still. Not, of course, that she'd be able to yank herself free - Archie had a vice-like grip on her arm now that he could taste her blood, and Betty willed herself not to let her mind wander back to that horrible afternoon in the kitchen, where he pinned her and killed her.
To his credit, she did believe Archie was trying to be gentle. She could feel his tongue along her flesh, his hot breath ghosting along her arm, and it was yet another added combination to focus her attention on. He was breathing heavily as he drank, his shoulders risen, nails digging in, as though he was afraid she'd pull away. Betty wondered exactly what Archie was tasting in her blood, what had him moaning as he sucked the scarlet tendrils that down her pale skin.
It didn't take long before she felt the tell-tale pangs of dizziness, the fogginess that came with blood-loss. Betty gave Archie a few more moments before she lifted her hand and, after a moment's hesitation, carded it through his hair. He didn't even seem to notice. "Archie, that's enough now," she said softly, slowly jostling her arm, trying to get his attention. It got his attention, all right, but all for the wrong reasons, because the second she started moving her arm, the grip he had tightened exponentially. Betty's heart spiked. "Archie, you've had enough. Let go." A primitive growl escaped his lips, teeth -- if possible -- sinking deeper into the soft flesh of her arm. The panic driving her only caused her heart to beat faster, and that wasn't good; a faster beating heart meant blood racing through her veins, which meant more blood for Archie, which would result in her losing more and growing weaker. She tried to pull her arm away, trying to stem away the accelerating fear. Her fingers shook as they moved from Archie's hair to his shoulders. "You're hurting me, Archie. Let me go!"
It took another moment -- a moment that stretched into what felt like hours, her vision flickering slightly, her body almost weightless -- but then she felt Archie tensing all over before he was ripping himself away from her. In the span of one blink and the next, Betty found her eyes slowly moving around the room until she found him in the corner, the piano between them. He was panting, a hand over his mouth, chest heaving. His fangs were still visible, his eyes slowly returning to their normal brown. He looked shaken, fearful, but in control. His tongue flicked out, lapping excess blood, before he must have caught her expression. The boy pressed a shaking hand over his mouth.
"I'm sorry," the vampire whined. "Fuck. I couldn't stop. I couldn't...I couldn't stop," his eyes widened with worry. "Are you okay?"
She couldn't help a hysterical laugh. "I guess? I mean, you didn't kill me this time."
He scoffed. "Because I'm teeming with angel blood. Like Jug and Ronnie. If I wasn't, I would have bled you dry."
Betty shivered. "But you didn't, Archie. You had control"
The boy ignored her, whimpering softly.
Blowing out a deep breath, Betty slowly braced her hands on the chair, willing the dizziness away. "What about you?"
His hand was still over his mouth. Archie turned away from her, snarling. He was trying to hide the predatory growls, but she could definitely hear them muffled between his lips and the flesh of his hand. "Fine. Just- fuck, give me a minute."
Betty nodded. She kept her distance, allowing the boy to calm himself down, before he finally stood up, swiping his chin. Betty jumped up too, automatically regretting the sudden jolting movement when her head spun once again, stars blinking in her vision.
Archie looked human again. "Pretty much." he frowned at her arm. "Though you might want to roll your sleeve down," he wrinkled his nose, averting his eyes.
Betty followed his gaze. The vampire had of course left bloody teeth marks just below her elbow. But before she could comment on it, she watched the skin slowly begin to knit itself back together, pink flesh spreading across the trauma.
She poked at the mending wound gingerly, before pulling the sleeve of her sweater down. Without the burning in her throat and the...the hunger, the carnivorous hole eating her from the inside, Betty might nave guessed that was her Nephilim powers kicking in.
And yet Cole's words were still haunting her.
"Betty?" Archie was at the door. She nodded, bounding over to him. They hurried downstairs, finding Alice standing with a tray of coffee.
"You two have got a lot of explaining to do," she said sternly. But Archie was already striding over, placing his hands on the woman's shoulders. Betty followed, though at a distance. She was terrified of catching her mothers scent once again.
"Alright," Archie cracked his knuckles. "Second time lucky, right?" he flashed a smile at Betty, before capturing her mothers gaze. "Okay Miss Cooper, you've got it all wrong. We're drama students doing a production of Dracula. My roommate Jug went slightly overboard with the fake blood, so that's why we're covered in it," he gestured to Betty. "Betty is of course helping us rehearse, playing the part of Lucy Westenra." the boy was out of breath, high on her blood no doubt. "Right, Betty?"
She nodded, biting her lip. "That's right, mom."
Alice blinked slowly, her blue eyes clouding with confusion. "Oh!" her lips parted, eyebrows wrinkling. "But it looks so realistic!"
The redhead nodded. He flashed a smile, razor points glinting. "See!" he poked at his teeth, stabbing them with his index. "Plastic."
Alice nodded eagerly. "Of course. I'm sorry, you scared me quite a bit!" she grinned at Betty. "Anyway! I should get going," she waved at Archie. "It was lovely to meet you, young man. Elizabeth, I'll see myself out. I left some of your belongings in your room and I've filled up the refrigerator with home-made meals if you kids get hungry."
"Thanks mom." Betty said weakly. She wanted to run to her mother, to throw her arms around her. But not when she was... different. "I love you."
Alice hurried to the door. "Don't be silly, sweetie. I love you too." she sent Betty one last smile, before hurrying off. "I'll call you!"
Betty didn't reply. Instead, she stared hard at the floor until she was sure she wasn't going to break down.
Archie was bustling around the living room, changing his shirt and pulling on a jacket. "Okay, we're heading out. Cheryl and your weird human friend have Jug and Veronica."
She supposed the "weird human friend" was Kevin.
Sniffling, Betty nodded, turning to the vampire. "Do you know where they are?" the thought of seeing Jughead again made her heart stutter. Especially when he was a hybrid now, especially when he could have parts of Cole, part of the monster who tormented her.
Archie threw her one of Veronica's blouses's and a clean pair of jeans. He held up a sticky note, and despite him being halfway across the room, she saw the message perfectly; "I'm at the human's apartment with Jughead. Get here when you wake up, and NEVER give me babysitting duty again."
Cheryl. She recognized the girl's cursive handwriting.
"Dude, you need to get changed," Archie chuckled, straightening himself out. "You're straight up looking like a saw victim."
No thanks to you. She thought like saying back, but swallowed it down.
Instead, Betty nodded and ducked into the downstairs bathroom, changing quickly. She washed her face and neck of blood, tying her bedhead into a ponytail. Archie was waiting for her in the hall, fidgeting with his car keys. She approached him, hugging herself. The redhead had thrown on a beanie, strands of crimson hair poking out.
"You're pale." Archie murmured, his eyebrows furrowing. "Jump on my back."
Betty frowned at him. "You're kidding, right?"
The corner's of his lips curved into a mischievous smirk. He held up his car keys. "Of course I'm kidding."
you are not ready for the new Jughead ;)
Hope you enjoyed! Please make sure to let me know you're still reading! I really hope you guys are still here jfjksjka I'm officially back from a sort of hiatus, and I'll be primarily focusing on this fic and Little Blossoms. Expect this next update in the coming days :D It's all written up, i just need to edit it. I was going to publish it with the rest today, but that would make it nearly 15K and jesus,,,, lmao
quick question! If I happened to be thinking of making Toni a Supernatural (a witch) would ya'll be cool with that? or do you prefer the vampire/human dynamic with Cheryl and Toni?
Let me know! :D and please let me know you're still reading <3 this girl needs reassurance lmao
Yo! Like most of my fics, this one is also being updated! I just need to edit lmao. I just want to know if ya’ll are still reading! I am the worst writer when it comes to updating regularly :( I’m working on it! 😂🙈 so yeah, if you’re still reading, let me know! Just put a “.” 👀
love you guys! 🌸♥️🦋