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Of Roses and Pastels

Chapter Text

Trigger warning: Self-harm

Elizabeth Cooper, more commonly known as Betty, stared down at her wrist. The once creamy, soft skin was marred by jagged cuts and blood as crimson red as sin. Inhaling shakily, she made another slice into her flesh, watching as the blood bubbled up to the surface before running down her arm gently. There were tear tracks on her face and she was annoyed with herself for never being able to not cry when doing this.

She wasn't sure if it was the pain from the metallic blade or the pain consuming her from the inside out. Whatever type of pain it was, however, always seemed able to trigger deep emotions in her. Where she had a stoic mask of indifference for the people in her life, she let her emotions course through her behind closed doors. It was the only way she was going to survive and she knew it.

Sighing, Betty eventually lowered the blade away from her wrist and placed it back in her makeup compact. Putting the compact back in it's place in her cabinet, she wet a towel and wrapped it around the markings on her wrist, holding it tightly to get the bleeding to stop. As she waited patiently for the blood to run dry, her mind thought about the next day.

It was the first day of her senior year and her mom had decided to move them to the small town of Riverdale. Alice Cooper had agreed with Betty's therapist and said life out of the busy city would do her some good. Betty couldn't say she disagreed. She knew her mom had always had her best interests at heart and this time was no different.

Eventually, the blood dried and Betty carefully wrapped her wrist with bandages before throwing away the trash. Then, she pulled her sweatshirt on and made her way out of her bathroom and into her bedroom. Looking around, she spotted a picture of her dad and Polly and felt her heart pang. The accident had happened two years ago now and she was still no closer to being able to process it.

Everyday was a day of grieving for her mom and herself. Yes, Alice Cooper was doing remarkably well compared to Betty but that did not mean Betty had any right to assume she was fine behind closed doors. The truth of the matter was this: Alice could be hurting just as bad as Betty was but could have better ways of dealing with her pain. A soft sigh escaped her lips, pushing a loose tendril of hair away from her face. Considering tomorrow was the first day of school, Betty knew she needed to be going to bed. As if to further reiterate her point, there was a knock at her door. Looking up, she spotted her mom peering around it slightly, soft smile adorning her features.

"Hi, mom," Betty said, returning the smile.

"Hello, my sweet girl," Alice replied. "May I come in?"

After a quick nod of assent her mom walked into the room and went and sat down on the bed next to her, tucking her hair behind her ear. "How are you doing, sweetheart?"

Betty thought about her mom's question for a moment before shrugging. "As good as to be expected considering I'm going to finish my last year of school in a new school."

Alice sighed.

"Try not to view it as a bad thing, darling," she said gently, and Betty nodded.

"I won't," she promised softly. After all, remembering the events that happened at her last school which caused the move in the first place, Betty knew this was the best thing that could happen to her and her mom. She didn't want to be stuck at a school where such awful people studied at. Betty knew she should consider herself lucky to be able to have had studied at the private school in the first place but without Polly there to help her navigate her way through vicious bullies, she was left feeling discombobulated.

"What are you thinking about?" Alice asked, and Betty sighed softly.

"Just wishing Pol was still here. And, dad," she muttered, and her mom patted her hand comfortingly.

"Oh, honey, I know it's hard," she said softly. "But you're making such good progress. Try and think of tomorrow as another chance to start fresh."

Betty knew her mom was referring to her untimely break down in the middle of her junior year. After spending a couple of months at a facility, they, along with Betty's therapist, had decided it would be best for Betty to finish out her school year from home and then move to a new school altogether. Betty hadn't put up much of a fight about that; she was too relieved to be away from the place that caused the source of her pain.

"I'm tired. I think I'm going to go to bed," Betty said, and Alice nodded. She patted her cheek in a motherly fashion before standing up from her bed.

"Goodnight, sweet girl," Alice said, and Betty smiled.

"Night, mom," she murmured. Once the door had been closed behind her mom, Betty got under her covers and pulled her journal towards her. She began writing the events of the day, leaving out a detail or two.

XXX

The next day dawned bright and early and too quickly for Betty. All too soon she was in the passenger seat of their car, watching as they passed through the neighborhood. Eventually, they reached Riverdale High and Betty found herself staring at the building. Students were hanging out everywhere. Some were talking to friends, others were sitting on the grass, reading books. Betty found herself realizing she'd fall into the latter category when it came to early mornings on campus.

"Remember, if it gets to be too much, you can call me," Alice said, and Betty nodded.

"Thanks, mom," she said softly, eyes still on the school. Inhaling shakily, she nodded her head. "I'm going to go inside."

"Give them hell," Alice grinned, and Betty laughed slightly before getting out of the car and making her way into the building. She glanced around, looking for some clue as to what she was supposed to be doing before a voice called out to her.

"Elizabeth Cooper?"

Glancing to the right of her, Betty found herself looking at girl with dark hair.

"Uhm, Betty," she corrected politely, and the girl smiled.

"Veronica Lodge but call me Ronnie," she replied, holding her hand out. Betty shook it, trying not to wince at the burning sensation in her cuts. She smiled politely at Ronnie.

"Hello, Ronnie. It's a pleasure meeting you," she said, and Ronnie grinned.

"Here I thought all New York City girls were bitches like me," she laughed, and Betty chuckled.

"You're from the city, too?" Betty asked, and Ronnie nodded.

"I was. Came here my sophomore year," she replied, and it was Betty's turn to nod. "So, now that we've got pleasantries out of the way, down to business. I'm your tour guide and buddy until you learn the ropes around here. Also, your new best friend."

Betty shook her head amusedly. She wasn't used to having best friends but Ronnie seemed nice enough and who was she to pass up on the opportunity for friendship?

"That sounds nice," she agreed, and Ronnie hummed.

"Right then. Let me show all that the school has to offer!"

XXX

By the time the morning had passed and lunch had arrived, Betty had already met all of Ronnie's friends and they all declared she was sitting with them at lunch. Feeling rather happy about being included, Betty followed Ronnie and her boyfriend, Archie, out into the courtyard where they went and sat down at a table. Sitting down next to a guy with a beanie and headphones on, Betty looked at him briefly, then to Ronnie.

"Our very own bad boy," Ronnie grinned, before throwing a fry at him.

"Why, yes Ronnie, I very much appreciated you throwing a fry at Hemingway," the boy said sarcastically and Betty couldn't help but smile slightly.

"Great author," she murmured, and the guy turned to look at her.

"That I can't disagree with," he said. "I'm Jughead, by the way."

Jughead? "Betty."

She found herself studying his oceanic irises for a moment before he said something else.

"You're new."

"Yes I am. Today's my first day."

"And how are you liking Riverdale Hell?" Jughead asked, and Betty laughed.

"I wouldn't quite call it that," she commented. "It's not bad."

"You're a newbie. You haven't seen it through our eyes, yet," he said wisely.

"Stop trying to scare her, Donnie Darko," Veronica piped up, and Jughead rolled his eyes.

"My apologies, Betty," he said absentmindedly, dipping a fry in ketchup as his eyes went back to Hemingway. Looking around at the small group she found herself in, Betty found herself reveling in the fact that maybe her senior year wouldn't be too bad after all.

Author's note: Prologue to my new story. Would love feedback. Enjoy! Xxx

Chapter Text

Trigger warning: Self-harm.

Author's note: Thank you so much for all the lovely reviews! This and my Chuck is a dickwad story are my babies. They give me life. I will always place trigger warnings at the beginning so you guys can know to read with caution. As always, reviews and kudos appreciated!

Betty enjoyed the rest of her day, albeit still with a bit of shyness but that was to be expected. By the time the last bell rang and they were dismissed for the day, Betty already knew where she was headed. Earlier that morning she had seen a position for a co-editor for the school's newspaper, the Blue and Gold. The one and only good thing about her last school was that she got to be editor of her paper. True, the girls who worked for her were vicious and played a part in her breakdown but this was a new school; a new chance for new opportunities. She wasn't going to blow it.

Tightening her ponytail, Betty made her way down the emptying hallways and towards the room that was pinned to the notice on the board. When she reached it, she hesitated slightly, before shaking her head. You can do this, Cooper. She knocked, entering when a familiar voice told her to come in. Looking around, she spotted Jughead from lunch.

"Hey, Betty," he greeted her in surprise, and she smiled, clasping her hands together primly in front of her.

"Hey, Jughead," she replied. He looked at her for a moment, then the door she had just shut, as if expecting someone else.

"Was there something you needed?" Jughead wondered, and Betty bit her lip, worried suddenly that he might make fun of her for even thinking she should be doing this.

"I, uhm, I'm here to see about the co-editor position," she mumbled. "But, you know what, it's fine. I'm not even that good of a writer, I'll just leave." As she turned to leave, Jughead called out to her.

"Wait. Do you have any of your work on you?" Jughead asked curiously, and she nodded before picking out her last piece she did for her paper at the private school. "May I?" Jughead held his hand out for it and she placed it in it, feeling nerves start crawling their way up her throat. She looked away from him as he read, not out of a sign of boredom, but because she always did feel scrutinized when she was watching people read her work.

After several moments had passed, Jughead whistled lowly. "Not a good writer my ass. This is fantastic."

Betty looked at him.

"Really?" Betty asked hopefully, and he nodded, shooting her a smile.

"Yes, really. I can only imagine how the girls at your school felt being busted in a test cheating ring," he chuckled.

"It was definitely a scandal for our student body," Betty agreed. That was one reason that the bullying and tormenting had gotten worse: because she exposed the truth of what was going on. But, if she wanted to be a great reporter, she had to get down in the mud and get dirty. So, she did.

"I hope you didn't face any backlash," he commented, a small amount of concern buried in his ocean-blue eyes.

Mind on her breakdown, she shook her head. "No more than to be expected."

He looked at her curiously but she pressed on. "So, is it good enough to get a position?"

Jughead nodded his head. "Welcome to the Blue and Gold, Betty."

She felt her nerves turn into something akin to triumph as she smiled. "Thanks, Jughead."

"You can call me Jug," he said. She nodded.

"Jug," she corrected herself and they shared a smile. "So, what's our first order of business?"

"Unfortunately, the Homecoming game," Jughead replied, pulling a face that had Betty chuckling.

"Covering a piece about a high school tradition? The audacity," she grinned, and he rolled his eyes.

"I think we're going to get along just fine," he said, eyes alight with amusement. Betty felt a small eruption of butterflies bursting free of their cocoons in her stomach when she traced his eyes. Not sure where that came from, she cleared her throat.

"Great. So, should we meet at the game on Friday?" Betty asked, accepting her paper back from him.

Jughead looked at her for a moment, before looking around room, hands in pockets. "Ever had Pop's?"

Betty shook her head in puzzlement. "No. What's that?"

"'What's that' she asks," Jughead sighed, closing his eyes. "Pop's is just the only place to eat at if you like good food."

"Oh, c'mon. I bet it's not the onl-," she began.

"Yes, it is," he interrupted her with a smirk and she shrugged.

"Okay. So before or after the game?" Betty asked.

"Before," Jughead replied. "I can meet you there at six?"

Betty nodded her head, knowing Pop's wouldn't be very hard to find in a town as small as Riverdale. "See you then, Jug."

"Bye, Cooper," he grinned at her.

She shook her head fondly and left the office, mind on a very important date with a metal blade she had.

XXX

Staring down at the sinful blood dripping from her cuts, Betty found herself wondering just how disappointed Polly must be in her.

"I'm so sorry, big sister," she whispered before carefully placing the razor back in it's hiding place. To this day she still felt a void that wasn't being filled due to the absence of her sister and father. The family had always been a close one and now that it was just half of them left, Betty wasn't sure how to keep moving forward. She marveled at the fact that her mom was able to. She just kept putting one foot in front of the other and marching on.

Betty really wanted her mom to get out there and date again but, on the other hand, she wasn't quite ready to say goodbye to her dad completely. And that's exactly what she was afraid she'd have to do if and when her mom met somebody new. She knew she couldn't be greedy and wish for her mother to be unhappy the rest of her life so she'd just have to face that day head on whenever it came. And, it was undoubtedly coming. She just had to prepare herself for when it did.

Author's note: Up next, Pop's with our favorite Bughead. Also, I love receiving ideas from you guys so if there's anything you'd like to see, just drop me a comment. Varchie coming up as well! Xxx

Chapter Text

Betty tightened her ponytail before applying a thin layer of lip gloss to complete her outfit. Giving herself a once over, she nodded in satisfaction. She'd have to do. She picked up her purse, checked her bandages, and made sure she had her debit card in her wallet before walking out of her bedroom and down the stairs to where her mom was. Smiling, she stopped in the kitchen.

"I'm getting ready to go to Pop's, mom," Betty said, and Alice Cooper looked up at her with a smile.

"Have fun tonight, dear. Do you need any cash?" Alice asked, but Betty shook her head.

"No, mom, I'm alright. Thanks," she replied.

"Okay, and you're meeting Jughead there, correct?" Alice asked.

"Yes. But he did say he'd walk me home after the game," Betty supplied, and Alice hummed approvingly.

"Sounds like a perfect first date," she remarked mischievously and Betty groaned.

"It's not a date, mom," she reminded her.

"Yet." Alice sang, and Betty laughed.

"You're ridiculous. I'm leaving now. I love you and don't wait up," Betty said, knowing full well her mom wouldn't listen to the last request.

Alice just smiled and went back to her cooking and Betty ducked out of the house and began to make the trek to the local diner. As she walked, she took in the fall evening. The air was crisp and the golden leaves crunched beneath her feet. She hadn't really had the opportunity to enjoy this in the city, not really; she was too busy navigating her way through the bullies who lived to torment her. Then, of course, the after effects of Polly and her fathers' deaths. No, with one thing or another, she was quite happy to be able to enjoy the vibrant colors of fall now.

Eventually, she reached the diner and looked at it. It was very retro considering the town it was located in. She decided then and there that this would be a place she would frequent often. Walking inside, she looked around and spotted Jughead typing away at his laptop in a booth in the corner and made her way towards him.

"Hey, Jug," she said, and he looked up, smile tugging at his lips.

"Betts," he greeted, and she wondered if the nickname was a slip of the tongue or if that was something he had planned to call her all along. Either way, she found herself liking it. She slid her purse off her shoulder and sat down in the seat across from him, before accepting the menu he slid her way.

"What's good here?" Betty asked, eyes flickering up to meet his.

"Everything, to be honest. But you can't go wrong with Pop's signature burger," Jughead replied.

Just then, an older man walked out from behind the bar and brought over a basket of onion rings, placing them in front of Jughead. "Here you go, Jughead."

"Thanks, Pop," Jughead commented, and Betty grinned.

"You own this diner?" Betty asked curiously, and the man named Pop grinned back at her.

"That I do. I'm Pop and am usually so good with remembering the names of all of my customers but I don't seem to know yours'," he replied and Betty nodded.

"I'm Betty Cooper. My mom and I just moved her about a week ago. This is my first time to Pop's," she admitted, and the man smile jovially.

"Well, welcome, Miss. Betty," Pop replied warmly. "First one is on the house."

Betty smiled at Pop. "Thank you."

The older man left with another smile and Betty soon found herself turning to face Jughead who had a shit eating grin across his lips.

"What?" Betty asked curiously.

"Oh, nothing. You just happened to become Pop's favorite if he offered you an entire free meal," he said. "You knocked me off the throne, Coop."

Cheeks heating, Betty looked at him in alarm, an apology already on her lips before she saw him grab an onion ring from the basket and then push it towards her.

"It's okay, I don't mind sharing," he said, and a heat bloomed in her chest for entirely different reasons. Ducking her head, she laughed bashfully as she dipped an onion ring in ketchup and took a bite. "That shade of green you're wearing matches your eyes."

Betty looked down at the sweater she was wearing, something akin to butterflies fluttering around in her stomach. She smiled softly.

"Thanks, Juggie," she murmured, surprised by the nickname that came out. "I mean…"

"No worries, Betts," he matched her smile and she dipped her head in appreciation before looking at him.

"Tell me a bit about yourself?" Betty asked.

"What do you want to know?" Jughead replied, albeit a bit cautiously. She shrugged.

"What's your favorite hobby?" There. Start with something simple.

He didn't miss a beat. "Writing."

She smiled softly. "Mine too."

"I believe it if your piece about the test cheating ring is anything to go by," he commented. "What drew you into writing, Betts?"

She took a moment to think about it, to really think about it, before answering. What did draw her into the tantalizing world where soft words on paper carried a thousand truths and whispers spoken through language manifested themselves into stories?

"I think I've always just been drawn to exposing the truth, you know? Getting the public to hear what's right. I mean, the honest to God solidified truth. There's a passion inside me that burns brighter than any star when I write and no one can hold a candle to it," she said, staring at him.

"You're something else, Cooper," he replied softly, tracing her eyes with his.

She didn't know what he meant by that but she didn't per sue the topic either. Just then, their burgers were placed in front of them.

"Thanks, Pop," Betty smiled warmly, with Jughead nodding is head at the aged man. He smiled back in kind at them.

"Enjoy kids," he replied before walking off to check on another table. After taking a bite of her burger, Betty winced slightly when her cuts rubbed against the fabric of her sweater. Swallowing down her discomfort, she looked at Jughead.

"So, who's the team we're playing tonight?" Betty asked.

"That'd be Greendale High," he sighed, and Betty chuckled at his disinterested tone.

"One game won't kill you," she said.

"Uh, yes it will and I'm too young to die," he replied, and she rolled her eyes.

"Flare for the dramatics, much?" Betty teased, surprised at how natural it came to her; to be able to sit here with this guy and just joke around with him.

"You wound me, Betts," he sighed, and she laughed.

"Moving on. Will Archie be staring tonight?" Betty asked, knowing the redhead was on the team. Jughead nodded.

"I think so. It's usually him and Mantle, Reggie, who star. They're both equally as good out on the field. Or, so I hear," he added, and she nodded. She knew that Archie was on the team, having heard it from Ronnie. She also knew Reggie was the other captain of the team and together, they made one hell of a team. Again, so she heard from Ronnie.

"Are you going to the dance tomorrow?" Jughead asked suddenly and Betty looked at him in surprise before quickly shaking her head.

"No, dances really aren't my thing. Are you?" Betty asked curiously.

"Dances sure as hell aren't my thing," he laughed. "Want to be the only two losers not going and hangout at Pop's tomorrow night?"

There was a hint of hopefulness to his tone and who was she to deny him that. She nodded.

"Sure," she replied happily.

"I'll even tell you about the Serpents," he grinned.

"The who?" Betty asked in confusion.

"Riverdale's very own motorcycle club. Which, I happen to be the leader of."

Well, things had definitely just gotten more interesting.

Chapter Text

Trigger warning: Self-harm

Riverdale high, as to be expected, won the game. Betty was cheering loudly with the rest of the stands as Jughead sat there, looking morose. She laughed gently at his expression, knowing that he was most likely, (definitely), wishing he was at Pop's, eating one of his greasy masterpieces instead of sitting in the stands with a bunch of loud kids screaming their heads off at the final touchdown of the night, scored by none other than Archie himself. When the screams slowly started to die down, Betty sat down next to Jughead and smiled at him. "Want to get out of here?"

He grinned appreciatively at her. "I thought you'd never ask. Pop's?"

Knowing they were going to be there the next night, she shook her head, watching as confusion flitted across his expression. "Show me another one of your favorite places, Juggie?"

He stared around them for a moment, seemingly in the thought, before grinning. "I have the perfect place."

XXX

The night was cool as they walked, the autumn air crisp as the leaves crunched beneath their feet. They chatted aimlessly as they walked, no real topic of discussion infused into the conversation. Betty looked at the town as they walked the quiet streets. It was quaint and homey; a place she could understand why families stayed for generations before and generations to come.

"So, you never did say why your mom moved you guys from the city to this place," Jughead said, looking at her. Betty let out a gust of air as she shoved her hands further into her coat pockets.

"Just needed a change of scenery, I suppose," she admitted as honestly as she could. And, she thought to herself, it was somewhat truthful: they had needed a change of scenery after her breakdown. The breakdown came a year after her dad and Polly's deaths, something that still caused her heartache to this day.

"And, what about your dad?" Jughead asked carefully, as if sensing it was a sensitive topic.

Betty sighed and pursed her lips together. She knew this part of the conversation would be inevitable. She had to tell him some time. Sighing again, she nodded her head slightly.

"My dad, along with my older sister Polly, have both passed," she murmured, eyes not quite contacting his. She heard his sharp inhalation before he placed a hand gently on her forearm, effectively stopping her walking.

"Betts," he said softly, eyes bearing a look of remorse. "I'm so sorry, honey."

The term of endearment didn't slip by unnoticed but by the look of his face, he didn't seem perturbed in the slightest that he used it. They were friends. Friends could use terms of endearments. She nodded, smiling tightly.

"Thanks, Juggie," she whispered. She watched as he dropped his hand from her forearm and place it on her wrist, gently squeezing. She knew the touch was meant to signify strength and unity but he had, unknowingly, squeezed a little too hard against one of her fresh cuts and she issued a low hiss, causing him to drop his fingers automatically as he looked at her worriedly.

"What is it?" Jughead asked and she could cry at the gentle tone he adopted but she wouldn't. She was stronger than that. So inhaling, she shook her head, plastering as much of a convincing smile on as she could.

"Nothing," she assured him. "I just banged my wrist into my door this morning and have a bruise there."

The lie seemed to do the trick because he shook his head fondly and asked, "Are you a klutz that I need to be worried about?"

And, in a mere matter of seconds, the tone went from serious to lighthearted as she bumped her shoulder along his, rolling her eyes.

XXX

Eventually, they made it to their destination and Betty took in the river, then the woods surrounding it, before looking curiously at Jughead. "Juggie, what is this place?"

Jughead smiled. "Welcome to Sweetwater River, Betts."

She looked at the river, shimmering underneath the moonlight's glow as if it were dancing. She smiled softly.

"It's beautiful, Jug," she murmured, soft voice getting lost somewhere in the expanse of the surrounding trees. She watched as he sat down on the soil, patting the space next to him. Folding her legs underneath her, she sat down beside him and breathed in the fresh air. "You definitely don't get air like this in the city."

"I'm sure there are things you miss about it, though?" Jughead asked. "The city, I mean."

She thought about it, before shrugging. "Not really. I left things behind in the city that I'd rather not have to face now, if ever."

"Like your dad and Polly?" Jughead asked quietly, and she felt, rather than heard, him scoot closer to her to the point their knees were brushing. She looked at the river, studying the gentle currents rippling through it as she thought. This was where the problem lied, she thought to herself. How much did she tell him? Did she share about the fact that she had been exposed to some of the meanest girls imaginable, who liked to torment her relentlessly just to prove a point? The point being that they could. Nodding, she began to speak.

"Them. My old school. Things in general," she muttered, shrugging her shoulders. She wasn't sure how to explain to him that she couldn't explain it. Not without it causing her a significant amount of pain. Pain she wasn't quite ready to face again. Not at the moment, at least.

"We all have our demons, Betts," he said seriously, eyes on the river in front of them. She wondered what his were but knew better than to ask, especially if she wasn't forthcoming about her own. She cleared her throat and changed the topic.

"You said something about a gang called the Serpents?" Betty recalled, looking at him inquisitively to make sure she had the name correct. He nodded to signal that she did.

"Yes, I did. They're, uh, a gang run by me," he said, rubbing a hand against the back of his neck before he clutched onto his crown beanie. She briefly wondered if he wore that as a security blanket before going back to the topic at hand.

"The gang is run by a seventeen-year-old?" Betty asked skeptically, and he laughed abashedly.

"Well, mainly my dad at the moment but he's prepping me for leadership after I graduate," he admitted, and Betty studied him.

"And, is that what you want?" Betty asked quietly. He looked at her as if her question caught him off guard.

"It doesn't matter," he mumbled, eyes on the river once more. She touched her hand to his forearm, much in the same way he had for her when she told him about Polly and her dad.

"It always matters, Jug," she replied softly, squeezing his arm gently. "What do you want to do after high school?"

"Ideally? Leave the Serpents behind and go to college," he muttered.

"So why can't you?" Betty asked quietly.

He blew out a breath of air. "It's not that simple, Betts. You don't know my father; my family. These people make up who I am."

"You make up who you are, Jug," she reminded him gently. "No one else."

He watched her, eyes tracing hers' and she kept her face impossibly open and sincere to show him she meant every word she had just uttered. Eventually he nodded a little.

"What about you?" Jughead asked, changing the topic once more. "What do you want?"

"After high school? To run my own newspaper," she admitted, blushing softly as she knew it might amount to nothing more than a pipe dream.

"I think you'd be great at that, Betty," he said quietly. "What does your mom think?"

"She's great," Betty smiled, thinking of the endless amount of support she got from her mom on a daily basis. "Since dad and Pol died –," the words got stuck in her throat as her chest constricted painfully. She made a sound somewhere between a gasp and a strangled cry that had Jughead reaching for her hand and squeezing gently.

"Hey, honey, it's okay. You don't have to," he assured her, but she shook her head. She could talk about this. She could. Inhaling shakily, she continued.

"When Pol and dad died, my mom really stepped up. It wasn't that she wasn't a good mother before – she was a terrific one. But she knew I was hurting and just went above and beyond her responsibilities. She has supported every decision I've ever made. The good, the bad, the ugly," she said. Her voice was stronger than before and the painful lump in the back of her throat seemed to have dislodged so she took it as a win.

"I think you're strong, Betts," he said quietly but firmly, and she smiled softly at him.

"Thanks, Jug."

They fell silent then and Betty thought about the harm she was causing to her body. In truth, she didn't feel strong. Not in the slightest. She felt weak at the fact that she couldn't seem to stop. Every night she did cut, she would always say to herself just one more. Then she'd be through. But, she never followed through with her promise. She had heard about people having addictions before but she never believed she'd be one of them. Never wanted to believe she'd be one of them. A soft sigh escaped and she watched as Jughead turned to face her.

"What is it?" Jughead asked curiously, and she shrugged.

"You ever feel like running away from it all?" Betty asked, wondering briefly if he'd understand what she meant.

"Run away from what?" Jughead asked, inclining his head towards hers' as he angled his body to face her better.

"The white noise. All of it. It's suffocating," she muttered, thinking longingly of the feel of the razor blade against her flesh.

"Every damn day," he said, surprising her so much that she looked up to make eye contact with him, noting nothing but sympathy swirling in his oceanic irises. "Every. Damn. Day."

She nodded, shuffling a little closer to him.

"Thank you," she whispered.

He didn't have to ask what she meant. He just knew. "Anytime."

Chapter Text

Trigger warning: Graphic depictions of violence and self-harm.

Betty wasn't aware of the fact that she was dreaming. All she knew was the fact that she was back in front of her tormenters; back in Hell. She stood before them, watching as their menacing smirks took up all of their faces. Everywhere she turned, she found herself staring at one of the girls who lived to torment her. It was like she was once more their personal punching doll. She studied their faces, trying to find even a modicum amount of sympathy but she just couldn't force something to exist in the first place. She looked down at her arms and gasped in surprise. Were they supposed to be bleeding this much?

Betty bit her lip. She, while an avid self-harmer, had always taken great caution to make sure she never cut so deeply the damage would be irreversible. She stared at her mutilated arms, horror-stricken at the thought that she was capable of losing this much blood. She hurriedly took her sweater off before wrapping it around her left arm that, by quick calculations, looked like it was losing more blood. Just then, there was cold laughter ringing in the room and she looked up at her main tormenter.

"Why try to stop it, Betty? Why not let it do what it's meant to and kill you?" Ashley asked, and Betty's stomach flipped as she glared at the girl.

"That's a low, Ashley. Even by your standards," Betty whispered, refusing to let her eyes smart. She wouldn't cry around these girls. Not ever again. Ashley smirked.

"Well, darling, don't you know when you don't belong?" Ashley matched her tone. Betty glared at her, wanting the floor to swallow her whole. However, she didn't have time to come back with a petty retort. She just simply turned on her heel, ready to leave the room. But. But they stopped her with their quick wit and hands and soon she was screaming at them to let her go.

"Please!" Betty shouted, pushing against the onslaught of tears that threatened to fall. She bit back the impending sob, tired of crying in front of these girls. Just then, she felt a hand shaking her shoulder. A gentler hand.

"Betty, sweetheart, wake up. You're just dreaming. I need you to wake up for me, darling."

Betty's eyes flew open as she stared around. She was back in Riverdale, far away from the city and the girls. Taking deep, lungful of air, she looked up to spot her mom sitting down her bed, staring at her in worry.

"I'll call the school today, tell them you're taking personal day," her mother's gentle voice washed over her like a safety blanket and Betty nodded.

"Thanks, mom," she whispered. Alice patted her cheek comfortingly before leaving her room, saying she was going into the office but she had a few phone calls to make first. Betty didn't think too much into it as she got out of bed and made her way to her bathroom. Picking up the razor blade, she made her usual cuts, gritting her teeth as she did so. Eventually, she dried up the blood, wrapped her arm, and washed her face. She wasn't in much of a mood to do anything besides get back in bed so when she was through, that's exactly what she did.

XXX

It was about an hour later that she heard light tapping on her window. Heart stopping, she slowly glanced up, wondering who it was. Blowing out a relieved sigh, she shook her head fondly when she saw that it was Jughead. Getting out of bed, she made her way to the window and opened it.

"Juggie, aren't you supposed to be at school?" Betty asked softly.

"So are you yet here you are, still in your pajamas. Are you going to let me in?" Jughead asked quietly and Betty nodded, scooting back to give him access to her room.

"How'd you even know where I lived?" Betty asked curiously.

"You think man of my ways wouldn't know how to find out where you lived? You wound me, Betts," he scoffed.

She raised an eyebrow. "So, you bribed the secretary into giving it to you."

He chuckled. "It's amazing what that woman will do for chocolate."

Betty laughed as she shut her window and sat down on her sill. "What are you doing here, Jug?"

"Well," he began, taking a seat. "To tell you the truth, biology really isn't my thing. Not unless you're in the class with me, which I noticed you weren't. Are you alright?"

No, I'm drowning. "I'm fine. Just feeling a bit under the weather today."

He nodded, pulling off his crown beanie and placing it on her head. "Here. This always makes me feel better when I'm under the weather."

He said it so sweetly, like he was hoping she'd let him in. She sighed. She knew she needed to tell him the truth.

"We're friends, right?" Betty asked.

"I hope so," he whispered sincerely.

"Then, can I tell you something? Or, rather show you something?" Betty asked quietly, watching as Jughead gave an empathetic nod.

Inhaling shakily, Betty slid her sleeves up to her elbows, exposing the bandaging. She knew he'd have no trouble understanding what said bandages were covering and by his sharp inhalation, she assumed she was right.

"Betts," he said softly, carefully. However, she held up a hand and he fell silent. Staring down at her arms, she began to speak.

"Remember when you asked if I faced any backlash by publishing the article about those girls in my school? Well, you're looking at it," she murmured, trying to smile but it came off as more of a grimace. She could feel his eyes tracing her arms and she couldn't quite believe she was sitting here, baring her soul. "But, I don't want you to think I'm looking for pity or to be saved or whatever else you might be thinking. I don't want any of it. I just wanted…. someone to know, you know?"

She could see Jughead nodding out of her peripheral.

"I understand," he said quietly, voice hoarse. He cleared it. "But, as of now, I'm personally going to help you. Whatever you need. Whatever that may look like. I'm here for you."

She nodded her head.

"Some of these look fresh. When's the most recent time you've done this?" Jughead asked quietly.

"This morning," she whispered, know he'd probably be disappointed in her. She couldn't look at him and it was only when she felt a gentle hand on her cheek did she look up.

"If you're looking for someone to reprimand you, you've come to the wrong place. We all have our ways of coping," he said quietly, holding up bruised and bloody knuckles.

"Juggie!" Betty gasped. "What happened?"

"I may have punched a guy's face in before school this morning," he whispered, head dipping in shame. She took a moment to let those words sink in before repeating his earlier actions and cupping his cheek, tilting his head so they were making eye contact.

"You're in a gang, Juggie," she murmured. "I think that sort of comes with the territory."

"You're not scared of me?" Jughead whispered, eyes searching hers'. Betty left her forest green eyes as open and honest as she could as she stared into his oceanic ones.

"No more than you are of me," she promised softly, placing a gentle kiss to his cheek.

"You're an enigma, Betty Cooper," he murmured in an awestruck voice. She laughed softly.

"I don't know about that, Jug. I just care about you. And believe you're the good guy I have the privilege to see," she said quietly. He stared at her and she smiled softly, knowing he was seeking the reassurance that he was doing something right. Eventually, he nodded a little.

"Thanks, Betty," he said softly, dipping his head towards her in appreciation. "And, I know you said you didn't want to be saved and I get that, I truly do. But, don't shut me out while you start to heal, okay? Let me help you."

She studied him, wondering how someone could see all of her and still want to be her friend.

"You got it wrong earlier, you know," she commented, watching his head tilt to the side curiously. "It's not me that's the enigma. It's you. You're this guy who runs a motorcycle gang and yet you read Hemingway and write for the school newspaper and want to make something of your life. That's the real passion I hear burning behind your words every time you speak. The desire to get out of this small town and make a name for yourself that hasn't been pre-planned or overshadowed by your father's. And, I think that's great, Juggie."

Jughead stared at her for a long moment before standing up and grabbing her hand. "C'mon, we're late, Cooper."

"For what?" Betty laughed, letting him pull her to her feet.

"Our adventure."

Author's note: Enjoy!

Chapter Text

Betty let herself be led out of her house after a quick, cursory glance downstairs that informed her Alice had already left. Once her and Jughead were outside, she spotted a motorcycle resting against their curb and she paused, eyeing it, then him, warily.

"Uh, Jughead?" Betty asked, looking at the motorcycle apprehensively.

"Do you trust me, Betty?" Jughead asked, and Betty suddenly felt like that was a loaded question. On the one hand, she trusted him enough to let her see the darkest part of her; on the other, the guy drove a motorcycle. A motorcycle. Exhaling a sigh as a puff of air, she wrapped her arms around her frame and nodded.

"Yeah, I do," she murmured, looking, not at his motorcycle but him this time. His smile was quite the sight to behold and she found her lips lifting a fraction, too.

"Then trust me when I say I wouldn't let anything hurt you on the back of my bike," he urged, and she bit her lip before nodding.

"Alright," she breathed out before following him to the bike. She paused when he did, watching him uncertainly as he popped the lid of his basket at the back of the bike. She sighed in relief when he produced two helmets, handing her one. She accepted it gratefully, eyeing the crown that was painted onto it and looked at him questioningly.

"It's uh," he said, pausing as he rubbed the back of his neck. "Kind of my trademark."

She nodded her head. Her scars were hers'.

"Thanks, Juggie," she said softly, securing the helmet on her head and tightening the straps firmly. He climbed onto the bike and then patted the remaining space behind him.

"Hop on, Coop," he encouraged with a smile. Taking a breath, she sat down behind him slowly, and really didn't know what to do with her arms. He remedied her dilemma shortly after by wrapping her arms around his waist. She tried not to inhale too sharply when he accidently pressed against her cuts from that morning and she smiled in victory when he didn't seem to hear the hiss she had issued.

"Hold on tight, okay?" Jughead asked, and she nodded, wrapping her arms more tightly around him to the point where she was snug against his back. She hesitantly pressed her face into the leather of his jacket and smiled when he hummed. "Keep your eyes open, Coop."

She didn't think she could have shut them, even if she wanted to. By the time he revved the engine and took off down the street, her eyes were wide open as she took in the scenery at the exhilarating speed. The houses flashed by in an array of colors; the trees danced in and out of her vision, shading everything in green. She laughed as he kicked it up a notch and his laughter soon followed hers'. She couldn't remember the last time she had laughed this loosely; this freely. It certainly wasn't at her old school.
Betty didn't know how long they were on his motorcycle for, but it was much quicker than she had anticipated that showed him slowing down. When they finally pulled to a stop and he kicked the kickstand down, she slowly unwrapped her arms from his waist, rubbing some relief into the-still tender scars.

"You okay, Betts?" Jughead's voice was soft, concerned, and she looked up to spot him looking at her wrists, then eyes, gently.

She smiled and she pulled her sleeves down to where they were resting against her knuckles, hiding the worse of the damage she inflicted upon herself.

"Yeah, I'm good," she replied, smile still evident. She didn't want him to worry about her; it wasn't his job to worry about her. She watched as he studied her, trying, she assumed, to discern if she was telling the truth or not. Her smile felt a little less stiff as she softened her expression. "Juggie. I'm fine."

He eventually matched her smile and nodded. "Okay, good." Then, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to him, he took her hand and began tugging her towards a building in the middle of an open field. She couldn't deny the butterflies that danced around and around in her belly, nor could she deny the pleasant feeling of his hand in hers, but she tried not to grin like a fucking idiot, either.

"What is this place, Jug?" Betty asked softly, eyeing the building.

"This used to be called The Drive-In," he replied in something akin to a wistful tone.

"Used to be?" Betty asked gently, sensing a story buried beneath his tone.

He sighed as he nodded. "Yeah, the theater that we would all watch movies at. I, ah, used to work here before they shut it down. Before I joined the Serpents."

His tone didn't leave much to the imagination.

"You loved it here," she surmised gently.

"It was a cool spot," he replied softly, and she nodded, sensing not to push him to talk about it more than he wanted to but she did place a gentle squeeze to his fingers to show him her nonverbal support. He seemed to appreciate it if his smile was anything to go by.

"What did you want to show me?" Betty asked curiously, and his grin grew exponentially.

"Just because I can't actually play a movie for you doesn't mean I can't show you how it's done properly," he said. "Come on." With a tug to her hand, Jughead had Betty following him in excitement. They climbed the stairs that led up to the empty building and, after shimmying the doorknob for a few moments, Jughead had the door opened and stepped to the side to let her go through first. Once she was inside the room that looked more like a projector room than anything else, she took in all the machines inside of it.

"Wow!" Betty breathed, eyes alight with excitement. "This projector looks like something straight out of the fifties!"

"That's because it probably is," Jughead laughed, and Betty grinned.

"This is so fucking cool," she exclaimed gleefully. She heard Jughead laugh and looked at him with a guilty grin. "Sorry that I'm pretty much in geek heaven right now."

"It's okay, Betts. It's nice to see you smile; I like it," he said unashamedly, and Betty looked down, feeling the familiar heat blooming in her chest; the heat that she started to associate with him being around her.

"Thanks," she whispered, head still ducked bashfully. Jughead must sense that she's not used to accepting compliments because he changes the topic only moments later.

"Let me show you the reel that goes through the projector to get the film playing," he suggested.

"Oh my god, there's still reel here even though The Drive-In has been shut down?" Betty asked excitedly, and he grinned again.

"Yep, sure is," he replied. "I hid some away when I found out they were shutting down my second favorite place."

"Your first being Pop's," Betty teased, and he chuckled.

"I can't survive without a burger a day. At least," he stressed, and Betty rolled her eyes fondly.

"I hate to think what your arteries look like," she sighed, and he just grinned at her even more widely.

"Okay, c'mon. Let me show you the reel," he said, and she matched his smile as she accepted the hand he held out to her. He wove his way throughout the many boxes housed in the building and she followed him to the best of her capabilities, careful to not trip over any of the boxes and ruin any of the fragile equipment. Jughead stopped when they reached the other side of the room and let go of her hand to fiddle around behind some boxes before emerging with his hands filled with honest to God reel. Betty's eyes lit up as she took the reel in.

"Okay, this is the coolest adventure I've ever been on," she admitted, fingers tracing the film material softly. It was wispy and film-like, smooth in her fingers.

"Mission accomplished," Jughead murmured, and she looked up to spot a soft look in his eyes as he watched her study the film. If she had to make an educated guess, she'd call the look tender, but she hadn't been around near enough tender people in her life to know for certain. So, she just smiled at him.

"Thanks for today, Juggie," she whispered. "Truly."

"The day has hardly begun, Coop," he said, and she quirked an eyebrow.

"What do you mean?" Betty questioned, and he gently took the reel out of her hands before lacing their fingers back together.

"Come on, you'll see," he replied and, even though she was confused, she followed him without question back to his bike, excited to see where else he was going to take her.

XXX

Jughead cut off the bike at Sweetwater River and she inhaled the crisp morning air, sighing happily. She had only been here twice now, but she already knew she would be coming quite often, even if it was just by herself. Betty unwrapped her arms from his waist for a second time, smiling inwardly when the movement didn't aggravate her cuts, and got off the back of his bike. She accepted the hand he offered to her without second thought and allowed him to lead her to the bank of grass they had sat on not a week prior. After they both folded their legs underneath them, Betty inhaled the morning air again, taking it in by the lungful as she found that nothing calmed her quite like this, except her blade, and she was trying to make a conscious effort to not think about that.

"I sometimes come out here when it's too much," Jughead said quietly. Opening her eyes, she found him studying her.

"When what's too much, Jug?" Betty asked softly.

"The white noise," he whispered, and she inhaled, remembering how she had uttered those very same words to him days before. She took his expression in, calculating him, and she smiled.

"I feel like this is a good place to come to if you want a respite," she murmured.

"If you ever feel you need a place where you're not suffocated or you need to scream to let out all the pent up energy and anger, you call me before you turn to the razor blade and I'll bring you here, alright?" Jughead asked sternly yet softly.

She felt her eyes smart. "Why are you putting so much energy into caring about me, Jug?"

She didn't want to know but she had to ask at the same time. She needed to know, deep down, if he viewed her as a project he could work on until she was fixed or some other bull shit. Betty heard his soft sigh escape with the wind as he rubbed his thumb against her knuckles, seemingly lost in thought. She wondered if it was even a conscious move on his part to touch some part of her. Eventually, he spoke up.

"I think," he began. "That you've been sad for a very long time, Betts. Too long. Since even before your dad and Polly passed."

She was quiet as she processed that information before speaking quietly. "And, what? You think it's your job to make me not sad?"

"No. I think only you can do that," he admitted honestly, and she was satisfied with that response. "But I do think it's my job to be your friend."

Again, she had to ask if not for anything but self-deprecation opportunities. "Why me?"

"Why not?" Jughead challenged, and she fell silent at that, not really having an answer to give. Not one, she thought, that he'd find remotely justifiable.

She asked a question in response to his question. "Does it ever stop?"

"Does what ever stop, Betts?" Jughead asked softly, thumb still stroking her knuckles continuously.

"The voices in my head," she exhaled shakily, hoping he wouldn't think she was completely mental. To her surprise, he chuckled gently.

"Yes," he replied.

"How do you know?" Betty whispered, eyes closing on the last word.

"Because," he said simply. "Mine did."

She opened her eyes and looked at him to spot such a sincere look on his features. So sincere, in fact, it gave her hope. She smiled hesitantly, lips stretching wider when he returned it.

"Thanks, Juggie," she murmured.

He pulled her into his arm and dusted a kiss to her temple. "Anytime, hon."

Not much was said after that, but Betty was content with the silence. For once, the voices of her bullies weren't screaming at her and she found relief in the stillness of just being.

Chapter Text

Betty was back at Riverdale High the following Monday after her day of adventure that past Friday with Jughead. While he knew about the cuts on her arms, she was nowhere near the realm of ready for any of her other friends to find them so had donned her longs sleeves, per usual. As she tightened her ponytail, there was a soft knock on her door that had her looking up to spot her mom smiling at her through her mirror's reflection.

"Hello, my sweet girl," Alice said. "May I come in?"

Betty nodded, happy to see her mom. When Alice was in her room, she sat down on her bed and looked up at her daughter.

"How was your day with Jughead?" Alice asked.

Betty's brow furrowed. "How did you know about that?"

Alice laughed gently. "Dear, you're forgetting about the man I was married to and the fact that we were both your age once, too."
The idea of her dad sparked a pain so intense inside of her chest it must have flashed across her face because her mom was quickly continuing.

"Anyways, I also saw Jughead's motorcycle coming down the street on Friday as I was leaving. I normally don't condone skipping school, but I was none the wiser that day," she said, eyes glinting mischievously, and Betty laughed.

"I don't know what you're talking about, mom," she replied.

"Of course, you don't, dear," she shook her head, smile quirking her lips. Betty laughed in return before looking at her clock on her nightstand.

"We better go before I'm late," she said.

"You're alright here, aren't you? You're happy?" Alice questioned suddenly, and Betty looked at her.

"Of course, I am," she said. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"I just want to make sure you like your friends here and they treat you right. Not like those girls at your old school…" her mom trailed off, nostrils flaring. Betty sighed.

"Oh mom, my friends are fine. Lovely, in fact," she assured her softly.

"And, Jughead?" Alice asked, and Betty tilted her head to the side.

"What about him?" Betty asked curiously. There was the mischievous glint back in her mother's eyes.

"Nothing, really. He just looks at you the way your father looked at me," Alice said.

"Mom," Betty groaned. "Can we not? Jughead is a good friend. My best friend here, in fact. Isn't that enough?"

"Sure dear," Alice said comfortingly before standing up from the bed. "Now come on, we don't want you to be late."

XXX

When Betty got to school, she waved her mom off with a final smile, saying she'd see her for dinner that night, before turning to look at the school. Yes, while she was doing better than she was at her private school in the city, schools still made her nervous in general. She was never sure with how her days would fare.

"You know, it won't bite you," came an amused voice she had no trouble recognizing.

"Hey, Juggie," she grinned at the familiar boy, taking in his crown beanie. She had given it back Friday evening, least of all it made her mom ask questions. But, it had made her sad to part with. It smelt like him and for some reason, that was oddly comforting.

"Hey, you still with me?" Jughead's voice broke through her thoughts and she blinked, looking up at him.

"Hmm? Oh, yeah. Yes. Sorry, just thinking," she replied, shaking her head slightly to clear it of the thoughts. She looked back at the building, tilting her head towards it. "We should get inside."

"Or, we can play hooky again," Jughead grinned, but she just shook her head fondly.

"I know that you don't skip as often as you're wanting me to believe. Not with the grades you make," she replied, and he huffed.

"You're no fun, Coop," he muttered.

"That's not what you were saying on Friday," she sing-songed. He rolled his eyes, laughing as he bumped his shoulder with hers'. They made their way up the stairs leading into the school and went to their lockers which, interestingly enough, were right next to each other.

"How are you doing?" Jughead asked quietly as Betty dialed in her combination.

"What?" Betty asked, focused on getting the numbers in the correct order. Once she had the combination dialed in accurately, she popped open her locker door and began getting out the books she'd need for her first few classes before shutting her locker and leaning against the door, peering at Jughead as he matched her movements.

"I mean, with what you told me on Friday?" Jughead asked softly, eyes flitting around the crowded hallway before flickering down to her covered arm. She sighed softly.

"Oh, Jug, I'm fine," she promised gently, squeezing his forearm gently. He took in her expression, studying her for a moment, before he smiled.

"Good, Coop. That's good," he said, dusting a kiss to her forehead before pulling back. "I'll see you later?"

Betty, too stunned from the feeling of his lips on her skin simply nodded, and he smirked his trademark smirk before turning on his heel and walking away.

XXX

By the time lunch rolled around, Betty was already tired, and the day was only halfway over. She sat down at the table her and the rest of the group she found herself in congregated at and sighed as she unwrapped her turkey sandwich. Taking a bite, she took a sip of her water before massaging her temples.

"Classes that rough this morning, Betty?" Veronica asked in sympathy, but she just shook her head. It wasn't the classes that were rough; it was the fact that she was dying to feel the blade against her skin. Knowing she would only cause shit to break loose if she resorted to that, she shook her head.

"No, the classes are fine. I just have a headache," she replied. It wasn't a lie.

Jughead sat down just then with his familiar burger and fries and looked at her.

"Well, you look like shit," he commented with a worried frown.

"Gee, Jug. What a great opening," Betty deadpanned, and he rolled his eyes.

"You know what I mean, Betts," he said softly, and she nodded. She did know what he meant. Betty could feel a pair of eyes on her and looked up to spot Veronica looking between
the two of them curiously. Before she could ask her what was wrong, Veronica stood up and smoothed down her dress.

"Shit. I just forgot I promised I'd tutor Reggie in English. I've got to go but you two enjoy lunch. I'll text you later, B," Veronica said before waving at the pair and departing. Jughead turned to look at Betty.

"You going to tell me what's wrong, Betts?" Jughead asked softly, and she sighed.

"It's just…I wish I could do something that I know I can't, nor do I need to be wishing I could do it," she admitted, knowing he would have next to no trouble filling in the blanks. His eyes widened for a moment before they drifted to her arms that were still covered by her long sleeves.

"And, you promise you haven't caved into the temptation and already done it?" Jughead asked, voice strained.

She squeezed his hand. "Jug, I swear."

He must have heard the burning honesty in her tone because he was nodding a moment later.

"Alright, I believe you," he assured her softly, and that caused her to relax a bit. "This is what we're going to do: we're going to get you through the rest of your day and then dinner with your mom tonight. Then, after that, you can text me until you literally can't keep your eyes open anymore from exhaustion."

She laughed. "What?"

"Oh yeah, I'll totally keep you company tonight. It'll be like a sleepover but in two different houses," he grinned.

"Dork," she mused, and he laughed. She thought about his offer for a moment before nodding her head. "I'd really like that."

It was his turn to squeeze her hand gently.

"So, would I," he said softly, and she looked at him.

"Yeah?" Betty asked hopefully, biting her lip.

He nodded. "Yes."

His tone left no room for doubt and suddenly, it was her turn to kiss him. Just a gentle kiss to his cheek.

"Thanks, Juggie," she whispered.

"Anytime."

Author's note: Enjoy! Xxx

Chapter Text

Jughead stuck true to his word. He got Betty through the rest of the day, making sure she had someone to talk to if the white noise became too much. By the time the final bell rang, he was offering her a ride home. Betty, while more comfortable with being on the back of his bike this time, accepted the helmet he was handing her with a smile. Putting it on her head, she swung her leg over the bike, wrapping her arms around his waist as she did so. Pressing her face into the back of his leather jacket, she inhaled the scent that was simply him, chuckling slightly as he smirked.

"Yeah, yeah," she mumbled, and it was his turn to chuckle.

"Hold on tight, Betts," he said softly, and she wrapped her arms more tightly around him as he took off. As he drove the somewhat familiar streets of Riverdale, Betty thought about how desperately she wanted her blade. To feel the familiar, soothe of the sting she always got from it. Clenching her fingers around his waist, Betty tried to push the longing out of her mind as she focused on the feel of Jughead's body pressed to hers'. It seemed to do the trick because soon enough, they were outside of her house and Jughead was loosening her fists.

"Betts?" Jughead asked softly, worriedly. She looked up to spot him looking down at her curled fingers in concern and sighed. She loosened them and let go of his jacket, looking away from him. A gentle hand tilted her cheek and soon, she found herself looking into his eyes. "What's wrong?"

Betty sighed, biting her lip as she looked away for a moment. How did she tell this wonderful boy, who had showed her nothing but kindness from the beginning, that she craved hurting herself? That she couldn't function without it. Sighing again, she nodded. She knew she owed it to him to at least try and explain her fucked up thoughts.

"I just…," she trailed off, frustrated that words couldn't seem to magically appear.

"You just what, hon?" Jughead asked softly, staring at her softly. She nodded again.

"I just wish I could make sense of why I do the things I do. Of why I prefer to hurt myself than let other people in," she mumbled, wrapping her arms around herself. She could feel Jughead's eyes on her, tracing her features, but she hadn't found the courage to look at him. Not yet.

"Hey, Betty," Jughead said quietly, tone gentle. She inhaled shakily and looked up at him. "I wish I could make sense of why I'm in a gang. Of why I let my father dictate what my future will look like. Sometimes, however, we just can't make sense of things. We just simply have to accept them and work on bettering ourselves."

She thought over his words, knowing that there was a degree of truth behind them. Biting her lip, she nodded.

"You're right," she whispered.

He dusted a kiss to her temple. "Come on, hon. Let's get you inside so you can have dinner with your mom and then we can have our sleepover."

"You mean our 'in separate houses' sleepover, Juggie?" Betty asked with a giggle.

He smirked. "Exactly."

XXX

Dinner was easier than she expected. Alice filled in all the silences, asking the right questions about school and her friends. Betty found herself able to not think about self-destructive tendencies throughout the course of the meal and soon enough, she was saying goodnight to her mom with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Making her way up to her bedroom, she changed into her pajamas, not looking at the wounds on her arms as she wrapped a sweater around her frame.

As soon as she got into bed, she shot off a text to Jughead. Moments later, there was a knock on her window. Blinking, she looked up. Jughead was perched on her window sill, much in the same way he had been on Friday, shy smile resting against his lips. She shook her head fondly as she went to open the window.

"What happened to having a sleepover in two different houses, Juggie?" Betty teased; eyebrow quirked.

He chuckled as he climbed into her room. "Well, after dropping you off, I realized that didn't sound as appealing as it once did so here I am."

She shook her head. "Here you are."

They stared at each other for a moment, her watching as his eyes dropped to her lips. An unfamiliar swarm of butterflies erupted in her stomach from the look he was giving her.

"Jughead, what?" Betty asked softly.

"Veronica said I'd never know unless I tried," he murmured. He made his way to her, cupping her face gently. Eyes on her, he silently asked for permission and she gave the barest of there nods, letting him know she didn't mind. Soon enough, his lips were brushing against hers' once, twice, three times and she was breathing in the intoxicating scent that was him. Yes, she thought. This is what it means to feel like you're home. They pulled apart a few moments later when the need for air became apparent, foreheads resting against each other.

"Juggie," she breathed into the still room. He placed a gentle kiss to the corner of her lips.

"Don't think about it, Coop," he murmured. "Just enjoy it."

She chuckled quietly.

"Okay," she whispered. It was her turn to lean in for a kiss. She savored the way his lips felt against hers'; rough and smooth. An oxymoron that so uniquely matched who they were as people it left her lightheaded. When they pulled apart this time, he laced their fingers together and led her to the bed.

"Why don't you get comfortable, Betts?" Jughead asked softly. She was crawling underneath her sheets before rationality caught up to her.

"My mom would kill me if she found out you spent the night," she muttered half-heartedly, not really caring about the potential punishment even she wouldn't avoid. Jughead chuckled.

"I'll be gone before she wakes up," he promised softly. That was good enough for Betty. She tucked herself under the covers, Jughead laying on top of them. After they were situated, he placed his beanie on her head, and she curled into his side. It was silent as she listened to the soft thrumming of his heart.

"We're do we go from here?" Betty asked eventually, first to break the silence.

"Forward, Betts," he replied, kissing her forehead. Then they were asleep.

XXX

Alice Cooper smiled gently at the sight she found in the morning. Betty tucked up underneath Jughead Jones' chin, his arms wrapped around her. She knew she should scold them but the look of peace on her daughter's face was enough to stop her. Shaking her head fondly, she closed the door, murmuring a quiet, "kids", under her breath.

Author's note: Reviews make me happy and gentle Alice also makes me happy. XXX