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Butterflies

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“You idiot,” she cried. “get... off!”

He merely laughed, easily keeping her pinned beneath him. “You couldn’t push me off when you were three, you still can’t push me off now. Ask nicely.”

“Chic, please,”

“Please what, little sister?” Chic mocked, grinning. “Have you learned your lesson Betty? Maybe next time you’ll think twice about entering my room without permission.”

“You had my calculator,” Betty snapped. “You borrowed it last week, without asking. I needed it to study!”

“You are such a nerd,”

She was starting to feel suffocated. “Chic...”

“Charles,” a stern voice warned. “get off of your sister and go set the table.”

His grip on her arms faltered. “But mom, it’s Betty’s night to-”

“Now, Charles Edward,”

With a sigh, he stood, throwing a hand out to help her up too, ruining her perfect ponytail with an affectionate ruffle before sauntering off, mumbling obscenities under his breath that their mother chose to ignore.

Betty smiled at his defiance, wishing she could be just a little more like the brother she so openly idolized.

“My beautiful Elizabeth,” Alice carefully smoothed her hair back into formation. “it may have taken me three tries, but I finally got the perfect child.”

Her smile became a little less genuine. As much as she loved the woman, and she did love her as much as she possibly could, it always seemed that nothing was ever good enough for Alice Cooper. Her sister Polly was a junior at Harvard Law, consistently making the Dean’s list, Chic was the all American athlete with grades to match, and then there Betty, a dancer, never making below an A plus in school, ready to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a journalist, with dreams of attending NYU. While the rest of the world seemed to be impressed, Alice was not.

Polly could have made a stronger argument in her mock trial.

Chic could have scored another touch down Friday night if he had really wanted to.

Betty’s latest article needed something more, even after scouring the internet, the library and spending many hours that she could not get back interviewing the best sources she could find. She had spoken to the Mayor once, and he did not meet with anyone, but her mother still lectured her about the font she’d used.

Her words were also a reminder that in a completely honest world, Betty was not really hers, that Alice hadn’t come into the picture until she was almost four, just days before the big birthday party that had been promised to her. With two children of her own, she and Hal had made the picture perfect family. There were no evil step-parents or step-siblings; Betty’s father had adopted Polly and Chic, just as Alice had adopted Betty. Betty had been treated no differently from her siblings, raised under Alice Smith Cooper’s watchful eye. With every loving comment, a critiquing sentence had been quick to follow, making herself, Chic and Polly often second guess themselves, something Betty secretly believed her mother got some sort of pleasure or validation from, but no matter how condescending she could be at times, Alice was still her mother, and Betty had learned to love her. That didn’t stop her, however, from thinking about her real mother, her biological mother, the woman who had carried her, who had died when she was three.

Her father didn’t like to talk about her, leaving Betty to wonder if it hurt him too much, so she didn’t ask, deciding that Alice was right, maybe some things were just better left in the past.

Penny. It was the only thing she knew about her, and not because her father had told her, but because she remembered. She remembered running through the sprinklers, remembered climbing that old ladder to sit on their rickety roof to watch the stars in the middle of the night. She remembered the fights, harsh words thrown back and forth in front of her, and the hugs that had always come after them, the only thing that made her feel safe.

A sudden feeling of guilt flooded through her at the yearning for her biological mother. She had a home, two loving but hard to please parents and a brother and sister she loved with her whole heart. She was lucky, so lucky. She needed to count her blessings more often.

“Don’t worry Elizabeth,” Alice patted her arm. “Charles will also be doing the dishes for the way he treated you.”

“What the hell, mom? Are you kidding me?”

“Charles Edward Cooper, watch your language,”

Betty spoke against her better judgment. “He could have said worse... Crap.”

Alice’s cold stare returned to her.

“I was talking to your brother, Elizabeth Irene, but since you decided to insert yourself into the conversation, after dinner, you will go to your room and work on your American Literature essay. It’s due on Friday, as I’m sure you’re well aware.”

“I finished it last week,”

“The paper you wrote is hardly worth an A.

“...You read my essay?”

“Of course I did. I read all of your papers, I want to make sure you’re doing the absolute best you can, that you’re staying focused.”

“But how-”

“Oh honestly Elizabeth,” Alice sighed, starting towards the kitchen. “your computer password is your sister’s birthday. It wasn’t hard to figure it out.”

“Yeah Betty.”  Chick set the last plate onto the dining room table. It was just the three of them tonight, with Hal working late and Polly away at school. “Be more original, gosh.”

“Says the person whose password is password.” Betty quipped.

His eyes narrowed. “Stop going in my room!”

She smiled, opening her mouth to reply, but a heavy knock at the front door cut her off.

“Get the door, Elizabeth!” Alice demanded. “I’m taking the ham out of the oven.”

“Yes mom,”

Betty reached for the knob, ready to twist it open, but a heavy kick by a firm black boot opened it instead, a hand reaching out to grab her by the wrist.

She screamed.

Alice drooped the ham, the plate shattering, several more men descending on her, twisting her arms behind her back.

Chic started forward, nostrils flaring. “Get the fuck off my sister!”

Another man pushed her brother forward, baton pressed to his back to keep him down. “Easy, kid.”

He was pushed forward, a baton pressed to his back to keep him down. “Easy kid.”

“Chic,” Betty cried, trying and failing to free herself from his grasp, frightened tears pricking her crystal eyes. “Stop, please! Don’t hurt my brother!”

“Honey, honey,” a gentler voice tried to soothe, and she was surprised to find that the person speaking was the same one keeping her hostage in the foyer. “everything’s going to be okay, I promise. No one is going to get hurt. Let the boy up Randall, you’re scaring the kids.”

He relented and Chic scrambled to his feet, pulling Betty after him. She gripped the soft fabric of his t-shirt as he stood in front of her, shielding her from their view, his fingers curling around her forearms.

“Are you okay?” He asked anxiously. When she nodded, he whipped his head around to scowl at the men. “What the fuck is going on?”

“Listen kid-”

“Who the fuck are you?” Chic demanded. “What are you doing in my house, and why the fuck did you grab my little sister?”

Betty frowned at the word little. She was barely two years younger than him, and because she’d skipped a grade, he was only a year ahead of her in school.

“Chic-”

“Quiet,” he warned, in a tone she didn’t dare argue with. “it’s okay Betty, I’ve got this.”

“What’s going on?” Alice wailed, as three men carried her past Chic and Betty. “What’s going to happen to my children? Where are you taking me? I want to speak to a lawyer! I want to talk to my husband!”

“Mom!” Betty tried to race after them, but Chic held her in place behind him.

“Where are you taking our mom?”

“It’s all right,” he said again. “My name is Earl Pineda, I’m a Lieutenant with the Manhattan’s Special Victim’s Unit.”

“Special Victim’s...” Chic trailed off. “What does that have to do with us?”

“It has to do with her,” Lieutenant Pineda tried to glance around her brother’s rigid form. “Are you Elizabeth?”

She opened her mouth to respond.

Chic’s grip tightened, making her wince.

“You don’t have to answer that,”

“I know you’re scared honey,” he muttered, stepping towards her. “but it’s okay. You’re not in trouble, neither of you are in trouble.”

“Keep your mouth shut,” her brother cautioned.

“Is your name Elizabeth?”

If there was one thing Alice had taught her, it was how to be honest.

Timidly, she nodded.

“You look just like your picture,” Lieutenant Pineda told her, almost smiling. “Everything is going to be okay Elizabeth, you’re not in trouble and neither is your... brother. I’m just here to bring you home.”

Chic turned her towards him, holding her head to his shoulder. “What the hell are you talking about, asshole? She is home.”

Chapter Text


Has one mother’s nightmare finally come to an end?

She was just days shy of her fourth birthday when she disappeared from her front yard as her mother went inside to take a phone call.

The child in question is currently in the custody of the Manhatten Special Victim’s Unit.

...Police are still trying to determine if the suspect’s wife, Alice Smith, helped her husband abduct the child.

A DNA test has been ordered, but detectives are positive that the girl found inside the suburban residence is in fact...

Police have given no comment on when she will be returned to her home in Riverdale.

“Riverdale,” Chic sneered from the chair beside her. “what a stupid name for a town. It sounds like a place for motorcycles gangs and drug lords.”

Betty didn’t reply, reaching for the plastic cup of water in front of her only to put it down again seconds later. Her throat was dry, but she didn’t feel thirsty.

“I’ve never even heard of it,” he added, turning the TV off altogether.

There were in an interrogation room meant for interviewing children, toys and half-full coloring books surrounding them, under the ever watchful eye of Lieutenant Pineda.

Chic’s gaze shifted back to her. “You okay, B?”

Abducted.

Nightmare.

Mother.

This couldn’t be happening.

“Betty,” he waved a hand in front of her. “talk to me little sister, what’s going on in that over-active brain of yours?”

She didn’t hear him. This wasn’t right, it couldn’t be. Her father was tough, hard to please, but he’d tucked her in every night with a kiss to the forehead and her favorite story, taught her how to rebuild an engine and everything else he knew about cars when Chic showed little interest, had he really done the awful things they were trying to accuse him of?

Mommy doesn’t want you anymore. Your mommy is dead. Alice is going to be your mommy now, do you understand me, Lizzie?

I don’t wanna be called Lizzie, daddy.

It was something so awful, so cruel, the very thought of what could have happened, it made her stomach clench, her chest tightening in an unkind way.

“B,” he said again. “what’s wrong?”

“I’m going to be sick,” Betty whispered, darting for the nearest trash can.

Chic was at her side in an instant, holding her hair back, muttering her name or words of encouragement, but she couldn’t hear him, her mind going a hundred miles a minute.

They had accused her father of abducting her. She’d taken a DNA test to prove them wrong, or right, because she knew, just as her brother did.

He wrapped his arms around her.

If she wasn’t Betty Cooper, then who was she?

Lieutenant Pineda entered the room with a fresh glass of water and a manila envelope tucked in the crook of his elbow.

“I’m sorry Elizabeth, but it’s time to say goodbye to your... brother.”

“What?” His hold on her tightened. “Not a fucking chance! She’s not going anywhere!”

Pineda stepped forward to push them apart. “I’m sorry son. The DNA test has proven that she is in fact-”

“Fuck the DNA test,” Chic snarled. “She’s my sister, always has been. She belongs with me.”

He sighed, and with an impatient wave of his hand, she was pulled from her brother’s arms, the lieutenant leading her away with a firm grip on her elbow.

Chic fought against three strong armed officers to get to her.

“I love you,” Betty whispered, because she didn’t know when she would see him again.

“It’s not true B!” He bellowed as she met his gaze through a wall of desperate tears, Pineda’s grasp refusing to falter. “Don’t believe them for a fucking second! You are my sister, you’re ours! We’ll get you back, you hear me? We’ll get you back!”


“This is Sheriff Tom Keller,” Pineda said. “He was in charge of your case when you first went missing eleven years ago.”

Betty’s lifeless eyes flickered to the tall man, fully decked out in his tan uniform.

“He’s come to take you home.”

For a moment, home was the two story suburban she had grown up in with her father and mother, sharing a wall with Polly while Chic was just across the hall, but all too soon, reality came crashing down upon her all over again. Home was not in Westchester, but Riverdale, a place she had no memory of, where she did not want to go.

“Hello young lady,” Sheriff Keller rasped, stepping forward, looking almost misty-eyed. An apologetic look crossed his stubbly face. “You’ll have to forgive me, it’s just... The last time I saw you...”

He brought a hand down low to the ground, as if to indicate her height.

“You were this big.”

She blinked. Something about him was vaguely familiar, but not enough to put her finger on.

“You probably don’t remember,” he concluded, forcing a smile. “you and my son Kevin were as thick as thieves. You were his very first girlfriend.”

That was it.

She remembered two boys, or was it three? Two with brown eyes, the other green eyed, the color of jealously, something he'd worn well if she didn't give him enough attention, and she had tried. They were the Four Muskateers, one mischievous, one overly cautious, the other kind, protective, holding her hand as they ran through the woods playing hide and seek. She had kissed two of them at a birthday party, and when the only one left out had gotten mad, she’d chased him around the backyard, trying to kiss him too.

“I suppose we should get going. It’s a long drive.”

Wordlessly, she followed him at a snail’s pace, not bothering to spare anyone, even her brother a second glance, because if there was one thing Alice had taught her in her fifteen years, it was to never look back.


The ride was indeed long, but time was relative to her now. She stared out the window, grateful that Sheriff Keller seemed to respect her need for the silence, until they passed a sign welcoming them to Riverdale, the town with pep.

The town with pep? Get real.

A few people loitered by the sign, matching leather wrapped around their shoulders, but it was too dark for her to be able the writing stitched across the back. As she strained her neck to get a better look, the man standing front and center seemed to catch her eye, head lifting in a subtle nod.

Seconds later, they were being followed by several motorcycles.

Sheriff Keller gripped the steering wheel a little tighter.


Pulling up to the police station, she was escorted inside with a hand firmly grasping her wrist, taken to the very back of the old building, left alone in another interrogation room nowhere near as friendly as the one in Westchester had been.

“She’ll be here soon,” Sheriff Keller told her.

Betty didn’t have to ask who he meant.

Her mother, the woman she’d spent the last eleven years believing was dead because her father had told her so. Mommy doesn’t want you anymore.

She was about to meet her mother.

“Hey kid,”

Chapter Text


The door knob turned at an agonizingly slow pace.

Sheriff Keller returned, but he was not alone, at his side, a slender blonde haired woman wearing an eerily familiar leather jacket, her blue eyes an alarmingly similar shade to Betty’s own.

“You look like me,”

She flinched, recalling all the time family friends and strangers alike had told her just how much she resembled Alice and Polly. She’d never had the heart to tell them that there was no blood relation between them, only a court proceeding she had been too young to remember, issuing a document stating that Alice Smith Cooper was now her mother in the eyes of the state of New York, and she did favor them, with her blonde curls and crystal eyes, even her bone structure, but all along there was someone she’d resembled even more so, someone her father had inevitably taken her from.

“You looked like him when you were just a baby,” she continued, voice tight. “people tried to convince me otherwise of course, said you looked just like me... I never believed them till’ now.”

Sheriff Keller cleared his throat. “This... is your mother.”

Her mother fixed the man with a none too kind look, eyes darkening at the word.

“She’s not ready to call me that,” she hissed, causing Betty to shrink further away at her tone. There was something about the way she had spoken that was all too familiar, both angry and protective. “Son of a bitch made sure of it.”

Her heart sank at the realization that they were talking about her father.

Maybe she has a right to be mad, her subconscious nagged, and Betty tried to push the thought away, wanting to tell herself that her father wouldn’t have kidnapped her, that there had to be more to the story than she knew.

The woman turned back to Betty.

“Penny,” she said. “just call me Penny, kid. Now, Sheriff, can you give us the room please? I’d like to speak with my daughter.”

Her daughter. It sounded both wrong and right, making her wonder how that was even possible.

Sheriff Keller nodded, bowing out gracefully, calling over his shoulder to let him know personally if they needed anything, anything at all. Penny scoffed at the idea, kicking the door shut behind him, leaving them alone.

“You were his kid’s first kiss,”

Betty stared back at her, brows raising in confusion.

“Keller’s,” Penny told her, taking another step into the room. It still felt like they were a million miles apart. “Kevin, I think. You kissed him full on the mouth when you were three. The Sheriff always had a soft spot for you after that.”

She glanced Betty up and down, taking in her appearance with a twisted frown. Suddenly self-conscious, Betty tugged at the sleeve of the Alice Cooper approved baby blue sweater she’d thrown on that morning for school.

“God, they turned you into Marcia fuckin’ Brady, didn’t they?” She sneered.

Betty dropped her gaze to the floor, feeling shameful under the woman’s scrutinizing stare. She’d always known her style was a little prissy, preppy, but it’s what Alice preferred, the modest sweaters and blouses, skirts of the appropriate length, usually reaching to just below her knees. She’d longed to let her hair down, both figuratively and literally, the way she always kept it pulled back from her face giving her more than the occasional headache, but Alice would have complained about her hair being in her face, lessening the idea that Betty was the perfect child.

She thought about Polly, how she’d been held to the same impossible standards while Chic was able to dress any way he pleased. In an act of rebellion, the night they moved her into her dorm at Harvard, she’d bought several miniskirts and short dresses at the nearest mall to wear to a club she still frequented, information she had relayed to Betty over the phone late at night, whispering back and forth so Alice wouldn’t hear them. She dreamed about the having the same kind of freedom, and now it appeared that she had it, but she hadn’t wanted to achieve it this way.

“You don’t say much, do ya kid?”

Her chest tightened.

Here she was, home for the first time after eleven years, in Riverdale with her real mom and she couldn’t even bring herself to utter a simple hello?

Timidly, Betty met her gaze, her own eyes filling with unwanted tears.

Penny’s cold expression softened.

“Fuck,” she muttered. “my baby girl.”

She broke the distance between them, wrapping both arms around Betty’s shivering form, and she didn’t hesitate to hug her back. She smelled like tobacco and the perfume that always littered their two bedroom home. Penny used to smoke in the backyard, unable to quit, but not wanting her to be around the stench of cigarettes, she’d changed her clothes any time she lit another one up. She had gotten so used to the smell by the time she was three, it didn’t bother her anymore.

Penny suddenly smoothed Betty’s hair back, much like Alice had done earlier in the evening, but the gesture felt different coming from her, less contradicting somehow, not just for show. Pulling back, her palm lingered against her cheek for a second longer before she let it drop.

She jerked her thumb towards the door. “Let’s get outta here, huh?”


The reporters were still as hungry as ever.

“How does it feel to be home?”

“Do you remember your mother?”

“Will you be keeping any contact with the people who kidnapped you?”

“How do you feel about your father’s arrest?”

The last two questions seemed to aggravate Penny, her arm around Betty’s shoulders tightening to the point that it almost hurt. Sheriff Keller was on the other side of her, trying and failing to keep the bright lights of the camera and the people shouting at bay.

“We’ll escort you home,” he offered kindly.

“Thanks, but no thanks, Sheriff, I’ve got it covered.”

His jaw tightened.

Pulling her further into the crowd, they approached an old beat up Volkswagen Beetle that she could only guess was from the 60’s, depositing her into the passenger’s seat.

Her booster seat, blue not pink, wasn’t in the back anymore.

Penny slammed the door shut, flipped her middle finger to the cameras and slid behind the wheel, the car rumbling to life in no less than ten seconds, racing down the street well past the speed limit.


Watching trees and houses blur by, a single thought came to her.

“What’s my name?”

Penny looked startled by the sound of her voice, the first time she had managed to speak, but recovered quickly, glancing at her.

“Elizabeth,” she answered finally, holding the wheel so tightly, her knuckles turned white. “Elizabeth Reagan Peabody... Blossom.”

“Blossom? I have two last names?”

She rolled her eyes.  “Your father insisted. He was so pissed you got my last name too, and before his. He thought I did it just to spite him.”

“So, Blossom was-”

“Hal Blossom, a member of the richest family in town. Elizabeth was my mother’s name.”

Betty bit down on her lip, unsure of how to respond.

“She was a good woman,” she continued, sounding strained. “died a couple of months before you were born. We may have had our differences, but she was so excited to be a grandmother and she didn’t kick me out, so it seemed like the nice way to honor her, naming you after her.”

“Wait,” she blinked. “my middle name is Reagan?”

“Mhhm,”

“My dad,” Betty tried to swallow the lump in her throat at the world. “always told me that it was Irene.”

“That was his mother’s name,” Penny snorted. “Shit kid, I never would have named you after that bitch. Terrible, vindictive woman.”

“Is she dead?” Betty asked bluntly.

She laughed again. “Nope, hasn’t kicked the bucket yet, unfortunately.”

“He said... she died when I was two.”

“Well he lied a lot then,”

“Was the name Reagan for anyone special?”

“It was... after a friend.”

Betty waited, waiting for her to disclose more, but she didn’t, an awkward silence filling the car. It didn’t last though, the unmistakable sound of several motorcycle engines, both loud and soft, echoing off the metal walls of her mother’s Bug.

She whipped her head around, startled to find that the men she’d seen just past the city limits were following them again, the riders wore leather jackets very similar to the one her mother donned.

“Should we call the police?” Betty whispered.

Penny bit out another laugh, a single hand dropping to her knee like she was trying to be comforting.

“Kid, relax,” she advised, nodding to one as he zoomed past the car, taking the lead. “They’re not gonna hurt you, they’re family. And anyway, you’re mine. No one will ever be stupid enough to try and fuck with you again.”

Chapter Text


Her old swing-set still sat in the side yard, rusted, the chains that had once supported her weight and she flew back and forth through the air now broken, unlinked after years of neglect. A doll carriage with two missing wheels and a muddy sandbox stood nearby, a constant reminder of what she’d left behind, of what they had both lost. She remembered all of it, remembered Penny’s hand on her back as she pushed her on that swing, remembered going for walks with her favorite doll Angela on warmer nights, her mother always right beside her, keeping careful watch.

Glancing at the sagging front porch of that little yellow house, she wondered if it would still creak when she ascended the first step.

Penny pulled the keys from the ignition, staring ahead. “You must be tired.”

Betty shook her head.

“Hungry?”

Her stomach growled, as if on cue.

“A little,” she answered.

“I don’t have much,” her mother confessed, undoing her seat belt. “I wasn’t planning on...”

Betty snorted. “Finding me today?”

Penny didn’t seem fazed, reaching to grab the suitcase she had been instructed to pack by Pineda as they prepared to leave her Westchester residence. Even before the DNA test had been administered, they had been so sure she was the girl they were looking for, Elizabeth Peabody Blossom, not Elizabeth Cooper.

Never again would she get to be Betty Cooper, but then again, she wasn’t sure she wanted to be.

“How about some Mac n’ cheese?” She offered, exiting the car.

Betty stared out at her window, barely able to make out two small handprints. Penny let her do that when they had enough money to redo the driveway one summer. The same year she’d been pulled from her front yard by her father.

ERP.

Elizabeth Regan Peabody.

Penny had written her initials in between the indentations of her left and right palms with her own finger, giggling as the cement began to cling to their hands, hardening instantly. They’d tried to use the house to wash it off, playfully spraying one another instead, ending up soaked to the skin as a full blown water war erupted.

She remembered laughter, shrikes of happiness coming from her three=year-old self.

A wave of sadness washed over her.

Betty remembered her mother, of course she did, but the woman in front of her was not the mother she had been forced to leave behind that day. Her mother had such a wonder laugh, a contagious sound. Penny never even seemed to smile.

“Betty,” her door was pulled open. “Come on, it’s late.”

Her jaw fell.

“You called me Betty.”

“I’ve always called you Betty.”

“You? But dad...” Betty sputtered. “I thought that...”

“If your bastard of a father had it his way, we would have called you Lizzie,” her mother sneered, catching her arm, forcing her out of the car without much effort. “I hated that name, fought with him about it for weeks. You weren’t even four yet, kid, you don’t remember shit.”

She wanted to argue with her but decided against it, numbly following along behind her, waiting for her to unlock the front door. Penny gestured for her to enter first and timidly, she did so. It wasn’t bad, kept up fairly well, though nowhere near as immaculate as Diane kept her own home. Two leather couches took up the majority of the living room, a blanket strewn across an old arm chair, all facing the big screen TV.

The kitchen was off to the left.

“Sit down kid,” she instructed. “I’ll start dinner.”

Betty perched on the edge of the sofa, sitting in an awkward silence unsure of what to do. Yes, she was home for the first time in eleven years, but could she ever call this place home again?

With a sigh, Penny stalked past her, grabbing the remote and flipping the TV on.

“After eleven years, Elizabeth Peabody has been...”

“...Returned to her home in Riverdale...”

“The child in question had been living in Westchester, NY with her non-custodial father, Harold Blossom, living under the alias of Hal Cooper, for the last eleven years...”

“...Allegedly obtained illegal documents to change his name from Blossom to Cooper shortly after abducting his daughter.”

She shut the TV off just as quickly.

“Maybe silence is better,” Penny mumbled, glancing at her before heading into the kitchen to fill a pot with water. “Listen kid, this, all of it, it’ll blow over, okay? It’s gonna be fine.”

She blinked in response, wondering who Penny was really trying to convince, Betty or herself.

“It’ll be fine,” she said again, trying and failing to sound hopeful. “we just... need some time.”


After two steaming plates of mac n’ cheese, an old movie she had never seen before and little to no conversation with Penny, Betty dozed off, only to be awoken later by two hushed voices whispering back and forth.

Carefully, she sat up, using both elbows to support her weight. Her shoes had been pulled off, tossed carelessly to the floor. The blanket from the back of the arm chair was draped across her.

“Did he hurt you?”

“No,” a deeper voice replied. “I didn’t even see the bastard tonight.”

“Good,” she sighed. “I’m sorry Jonesy, I hate having you involved in this shit.”

“Don’t fuckin’ apologize to me Pen, you didn’t get me involved in anything, this was my choice, but if you would just give me an hour with the fucker...”

“Shh,” Penny snapped. “Keep your fucking voice down, would you?”

“Penny, he has the tapes. I can get them, I can get us both out of this-”

“As much as I appreciate your hero complex,” her mother didn’t sound amused. “you’ll get yourself killed tryin’ and you know it. I’m glad you’re safe Jonesy, I’d have cut him if he laid a finger on you, but I can’t do this right now.”

“Why not?”

“I just got my daughter back.”

“Right,” he snorted. “the little blonde angel passed out on your couch.”

“Watch it, Jughead.”

Jughead? Betty frowned, rubbing at her eyes. What a weird name.

“She’s a looker Pen, just as gorgeous as I remember.”

“Jonesy.”

“Shit Pen,” Jughead laughed. “I’m not gonna do anything, for fuck’s sake. You’ve had her for what, six hours and you’re already a mama bear? Never saw that coming from someone as ruthless as you.”

“Watch your fuckin’ mouth Jonesy, or I’ll cut you. You have no idea... you don’t remember what things were like back then, okay? You don’t know shit.”

“I remember plenty,” he said. “Archie always got us into trouble, I tried to keep her out of it, and I’ll still keep her out of it... Unless she’s joining the-”

“She’s not,” Penny replied bluntly.

“Seriously Pen? You’re her mother. She was born into this, it’s her legacy as much as it was mine, Jellybean’s and Toni’s.”

“You didn’t want Toni or Jellybean to-”

“Okay, fair point, but it was their choice, not mine, just like it’ll be her choice, not yours.”

“I know it’s her choice, of course it’s her choice,” she mumbled. “but she’s different than you, or me, or any of the rest of them. I don’t want this for her Jonesy, I never wanted this for her.”

“Then why the fuck would you bring her back here?”

“Because she’s mine,” she heard Penny whisper. “and I’ve already missed so much.”

The back door slid open.

She dove down, arranging the blanket over her before squeezing her eyes shut. Whatever they were talking about, it was clear that they hadn’t intended for her to hear.

“She really is beautiful,”

Her cheeks burned.

“Jones, I swear to god...”

“Jeez Pen, relax, I’m just saying...”

“Lay one finger on my kid and I’ll slice the snake off your arm myself. I’ll make sure the knife is nice and rusty. We clear?”

Betty was glad her face was halfway buried between the arm of the sagging couch and the deflating back cushion. They couldn’t see her grimace. By the way Jughead laughed, she figured her mother was joking. Mostly.

“Crystal,” He snorted.  “Why is she on the couch?”

“Because she fell asleep,”

“I’ve sat on that couch plenty of times before and it’s still as unforgiving as the day you bought it. She’s gotta be miserable. Don’t you think she’d be more comfortable in a bed?”

“She’s fine where she is,”

“Do you want help or something? I would be more than happy to-”

“Rusty knife, Jones, rusty knife.”

“You sure you don’t want me to move her?” He asked. “It’s not a big deal Penny, she looks like she weighs about as much as a piece of ply wood, and I’d hate for her to hurt her back sleeping on your bargain bin buy. Just let me help, let me move her. She still has a room here, right?”

“Of course she still has a room here.”

“Then why isn’t she in it... Oh fuckin’ hell Pen, don’t tell me you turned it into a shrine or somethin’. That’s so depressing.”

“It’s... You wouldn’t get it, Jonesy. Look, it’s late and I’m fucking exhausted, can we do this later?”

“Sure,” Jughead agreed. “and listen Penny, if you need anything...”

“Yeah boy, I know,” Penny no longer sounded angry or mock angry, just tired. “You’re one of the good ones Jughead Jones, but if you fuck with my daughter...”

“Trust me Pen, you are the last person I would ever cross,” He snickered, close to her ear as he leaned over her. Betty squeezed her eyes shut as his lips brushed the top of her hair. “Sweet dreams angel, welcome back.”

“Jughead...”

“What? She still owes me that kiss.”

“You ran away from her when she tried to...” Her mother laughed. “Get the fuck out of my house, Jonesy, I’m not doing this with you.”

He lowered his voice. “Penny, I’m serious, I’ll protect her. I’ll keep her out of trouble.”

“Yeah boy, I know you’ll try, it’s my goal too.”

Betty tuned out the rest of their conversation, her mind racing.

A room. She had a bedroom there, and she hadn’t considered that she would have a bedroom in the house she should have grown up in.

The door opened and shut again, Penny’s voice muffled. As the sound of a motorcycle engine filled the room, she rose and without hesitation reached for the door furthest to the right, twisting the knob and pushing it open.

The first thing she saw was white, a canopy bed, her name, E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H, spelled out across the far wall. Faux flowers had been twined around the posts of the bed, with a little white dressed and a closet full clothes she hadn’t gotten to wear.

It was the picture on top of the dresser that caused the first tear to fall. She saw herself as a gummy toothed toddler, being held up by Penny, her mother, her smile so big and genuine, Betty never would have doubted that she loved her, that she was the center of her mother’s universe.

Had been. Used to be. Was she still, or had too much time passed? Years stolen from both of them by the man that should have protected her.

Penny hadn’t smiled at her like that once.

“Betty?” She stepped into the room. “What are you doing up kid? Did we wake you?”

Her gaze didn’t falter from the photograph.

“You didn’t change it,” Betty whispered.

“Why would I,” Penny threw back, eyes sweeping over every single item that had belonged to Betty. “it was yours.”

She saw the butterflies plastered to the walls in careful order. Butterflies, she’d loved butterflies. The last time she went trick or treating with her mother, she had dressed up like a butterfly, with blue, orange and green wings. Her favorite colors. Not pink, never pink.

“Joanne’s Fabric,” she almost smiled. “do you remember how long we stayed there trying to pick out the perfect-”

Penny avoided her gaze. “Yeah kid, I remember, I remember everything, but it’s late and we’ve had a really long day. Go back to sleep, alright?”

Her face fell, but Penny didn’t seem to notice, impatiently beckoning her forward. Betty obediently curled up on the couch, blinking back tears.

They were both doomed to remember, even after eleven years apart, but it seemed like Penny only wanted to forget and Betty couldn’t say she blamed her.

Hal had ruined everything, for the both of them.

Chapter Text


“Hey kid, you’re up.”

Betty manages a grimace, meant to be a smile in response, stretching her arms above her head as she shifted back into a sitting position. After her awkward encounter with Penny the night before, she had brushed past her without another word, too numb and confused to anything other than curl back up on the couch in the tinniest ball she could manage.

The picture in her old room haunted her, the realization that once, she must have been the center of her mother’s world. No one had ever looked at her the way Penny looked at her in that photo, not even her father.

“Coffee?” Penny offered, sliding a glass across the dusty kitchen island.

“You’re going to let me drink coffee?”

She seemed surprised. “Why would I care?”

“My...” Betty trailed off, remembering that she couldn’t exactly call Alice mom anymore. “They didn’t believe in caffeine.”

Penny rolled her eyes. “Christ kid, I’ve been drinking this shit since I was your age and it never did a damn thing to me. Try some. If you don’t like it, have some water or juice or something.”

She glanced around the kitchen.

“Shit, I need to go shopping.”

“You don’t have much,” Betty agreed, before she could stop herself.
“Used to be I could go weeks without shopping,” she replied. “haven’t had another mouth to feed since...”

Penny flinched at her own words.

“Fuck kid,” her mother sighed. “I don’t mean to sound like I’m not happy you’re here, I am, I just...”
She hid her face with her hands.

“I don’t know how to do this... mom crap Betty,” Penny confessed. “I was eighteen when I had you, I didn’t know what I was doing then and I have no fuckin’ clue what I’m doing now.”

Yes you do, she suddenly wanted to argue, vividly recalling all the times Penny danced with her in that very kitchen, singing silly songs while Betty was in the bathtub and the stories she’d made up off the top of her head, never the same one twice, every night ending the same, with a kiss to her hair, a tight hug, her mother learning down to whisper that she was the best thing that could have ever possibly have happened to her, that she loved her more than anything.

Her dad hadn’t been around much back then and they had been just fine without him, so maybe they would be okay without him now too.

“We’ll figure this out,” Betty told her. “Together.”

“For fuck’s sake,” Penny laughed sadly, swiping at her eyes with the sleeve of her shirt. “you’re bringing out a new side to me and I’m not sure I like it. Drink your coffee before it gets cold.”

She took a tentative sip and then another, the warm liquid soothing her dry throat. It was one of the best things she’d ever tasted. Penny watched her in amusement.

“You like it,” she stated.

Betty nodded. “Can I have some more?”

“Let’s try a cup a day at first,” Penny said. “I don’t want you getting addicted to caffeine until you’re at least my age, Elizabeth.”

“Can you teach me how to make it?”

“Sure kid, whatever you want.”

An awkward silence filled the room and Betty sighed, wondering if it would ever get easier.

Time. Maybe they just needed some time.

“We’re probably gonna have to lay low for a few days.”

A pit settled in her stomach.

“The reporters are still out there, aren’t they?”

Penny reached for her hand. “I won’t let them touch you.”

“Knock-knock,” a new voice called, the back door swinging open before they could make contact. “Penny, you home?”

“What’s going on?” She demanded, sounding tired. “I told everyone I wouldn’t be available for the rest of the week.”

Two girls appeared, roughly around her age, one with an olive complexion, the other as pale as Betty was, arms filled with bags of groceries.

“Oh shit Toni, you didn’t have to-”

“We take care of our own Pen, you know that,” Toni replied. “and after everything you’ve been through, it was the least we could... Oh my god. Hi.”

“Hey,” Betty returned shyly.

Penny stepped forward, their shoulders almost touching. “This is Betty.”

“Hi,” Toni said again, awkwardly offering her a hand to shake. “I’m Toni Topaz and this is Jellybean.”

Jellybean. Another strange name.

“It’s JB now, Wednesday Adams,” the girl beside her snarked. “Stop calling me Jellybean T, you know I hate that.”

She shrugged. “Jug still calls you Jellybean.”

“Jughead and I have this conversation on a daily basis, as you and I do.”

Jughead, Betty thought. The boy from the night before. The one she hadn’t kissed.

“Girls,” Penny sighed, like she was used to their bickering.

“It’s nice to meet you JB,”

Jellybean smiled. “I like her. Hi Betty, great to meet you too, um... Welcome home?”

Toni snorted. “Nice Jel, real nice.”

“Shit I’m sorry, I just...”

“It’s okay-”

“No really, I didn’t mean to make it more awkward...”

“Jellybean,” Penny sighed again. “I don’t think it could get any more awkward, so why don’t you and Toni join us for breakfast?”

“We’d love to,” Toni answered.


Saying the kitchen was too small for one person, let alone four, Penny was quick to usher the three girls away, suggesting they go outside for some fresh air, issuing a stern warning aimed at Betty not to leave the back porch, telling them to be on the lookout for any onlookers with a camera or microphone.

Once outside in the cool morning air, Toni pulled out a pack of cigarettes, not bothering to ask Jellybean or Betty if they wanted one.

“Have you guys lived here long?” Betty asked, trying to make conversation, just as Alice had taught her, though she was nowhere near as graceful as the woman who’d raised her.

Toni nodded, exhaling after a long drag. “Born and raised. We used to play together Betty, you and I, I mean.”

“We did?”

“I don’t really remember it either,” she offered. “I’ve just seen pictures.”

Jellybean rolled her eyes. “Oh come on T, you two were best friends.”

“We weren’t even four, Jell,” Toni snapped. “I don’t remember and neither does Betty.”

It was strange, how being back in Riverdale could trigger memories she should have been too young to recall, but she did remember it, that Toni lived across the street, that her mother would watch them both of them while Penny attended her morning classes and worked a shift at a local bar in the afternoons, a young mother to provide for herself and her child. Toni never liked playing with dolls, so they’d played with cars and in the mud. Being nearly a year older had left the brown haired girl often feeling protective. In their preschool classs, she had socked a little boy after he pushed Betty off the swings.

“When did you dye your hair pink?” Betty asked.

Toni looked surprised, but snickered. “Around the same time I started preferring girls to boys.”

She laughed. “Fair enough.

“So you’ll probably be staring school soon, huh?”

“Oh um,” Betty bit her lip. “My um... Penny didn’t tell me. We haven’t had a chance to talk about it, I mean. Where do you go?”

Neither Toni nor Jellybean seemed to notice that she had called her mother by her first name. she didn’t know if she would ever feel comfortable calling Penny anything other than Penny, and even that felt strained. Mom, it was a precious word she no longer knew the meaning of.

“Riverdale High,” Jellybean answered. “It’s the better of the schools in Riverdale. We used to have Southside High, but it shut down after a “mysterious” fire and honestly, good riddance. Half the teachers were selling drugs on the side.”

Betty glanced at Toni in alarm.

“She’s kidding,” Toni cuffed her on the back of the head. “...For the most part, but you should still be careful. Riverdale, especially the Southside... isn’t always the safest place.”

“But we live here.”

“We do,” she agreed, nodding. “and because we live here, we have to look out for one another. That’s why it’s so great being part of the Serpents, you always have family to fall back on.”

Betty blinked. “The Serpents?”

“You...” Jellybean trailed off, looking surprised. “You don’t know about the Serpents?”

She shook her head, the word family on the tip of her tongue. She thought back to the car ride with Penny the night before, the motorcycles that accompanied them for the drive home, how she’d been told not to be afraid of them, how Toni had said they protected one another.

But what, exactly, were they?

“It’s a...”

“Does it have something to do with your jackets?” Betty questioned, realizing that both girl wore similar leather to the one she had seen her mother in the moment they were first reunited.

Toni nodded again. “It’s... Well, Betty, it’s a-”

“It’s a family, angel,” a familiar voice announced. “one you’re fucking lucky to be a part of.”

Chapter Text


“What the fuck are you doing here?”

“Language Forsythia,” he warned, casually strolling into the backyard.

Jellybean’s nostrils flared. “Don’t you dare put that on me, For-”

“Jellybean, you finish that sentence and it will be the last thing you do.”

It only took a single glance for Betty to guess that the two were related. There were vast differences with her brown hair, his as black as night, eyes to match while his were green, bright, but they resembled one another with the way they spoke, their mannerisms, even the dimples in their cheeks. This was the boy who had been in her home the night before, the one who’d kissed her head. Finally she could put a face to the name.

And what a handsome face it was.

Jughead Jones, the boy she’d chased about Archie Andrew’s backyard, trying to kiss him when she was only three years old. Trying to push the thought away, she returned her attention back to the ongoing conversation between the two siblings.

“I’ve heard worse Jug, from you, I might add,”

“You’re my little sister Jell, I don’t want to hear you talking like that.”

“May I remind you, I’m only a year younger than you?”

“May I remind you that I don’t give a shit?”

“Jesus Jug, can we not do this right now?”

Jughead raised a hand to cut her off. “Stay out of this T,”

“Don’t talk to her like that,” Jellybean snapped. “She’s as much your sister as I am, Jug, she’s allowed to join the argument.”

“Unfortunately,” Betty heard him mumble, and she couldn’t help the giggle that escaped, no excuse for why she’d found it funny in the first place.

Maybe it was to mask the sadness overhearing Jughead and Jellybean bicker, remembering several very similar conversations she’d had with Chic that ended the same way.

Chic.

Polly.

Her heart ached. What happened to them? Were they okay? Did they miss her as much as she missed them?

Or maybe they didn’t care anymore, because she wasn’t really the little sister they had both worked so hard to protect.

Toni excused the fight with a halfhearted shrug, smile tugging at the edges of her lips. “What are you doing here Jug? How’d you know where to find us?”

“You didn’t tell me where you were going,” he replied. “either of you, and it didn’t take a genius to figure it out. Serpent Law and all.”

“You were sleeping,” she told him. “you get so fucking grumpy when we wake you.”

“It’s called a text Toni, I don’t like waking up and not knowing where the fuck you two are.”

Jellybean spared Betty a sympathetic glance. “Be glad you don’t have an overprotective, overbearing brother.”

But I do. She thought, forcing a smile. Or I did.

She wasn’t Betty Cooper anymore. She didn’t know what she had.

“We just came to bring Penny some groceries,” Toni gestured to her. “You two haven’t met. Jug, this is Penny’s daughter Betty, Betty, this is Jughead, Jellybean’s brother and a major pain in my ass.”

“It’s JB, Diana Walter, not Jellybean,”

Jellybean was a fan of horror movies, so it seemed, and by the way Toni merely laughed off the nickname, so was she.

Jughead held out a hand that she took without hesitation.

“Welcome to Riverdale angel,” he said. “do you remember me?”

There was something about the words welcome to Riverdale that made a smile break out across her face, like he wasn’t expecting her to be who she was, at least not yet. Everyone else was saying welcome home.

“How could I forget the boy that took my favorite doll for a swim in Sweet Water River?” Betty blurted out.

Jughead blinked, clearly surprised, his grip on her hand unconsciously tightening.

“Wait,” she shook her head. “no, that’s not right, you fished her out for me and then you pushed him into the river.”

“Jughead Jones,” Penny drawled from the open doorway. “of course you’re here I swear boy, you can smell food from a mile away.”

“Three miles Pen,” he responded, finally letting her go. “sometimes four.”

She rolled her eyes, unimpressed. “Are you staying for breakfast or what?”

“I’d love to,” Jughead answered, never once looking away Betty.

“Then quit staring at my kid and get in here,” Penny ordered, stepping away to let them in. Betty started to follow, but a firm hand on her arm stopped her. “Kid?”

“Uh yeah?”

“We’ll talk later,” her mother said, pulling her inside.

Betty nodded in agreement. “Yes we will.”


“What did they tell you?”

Betty remained at the sink, the steaming water nearly scalding her hands. Penny hadn’t asked her to clear the table, not had she seemed to expect that she do the dishes, but after eleven years of living with Alice, it was hardwired into her.

She sighed, using her arm to brush a strand of hair from her eyes. “The Serpents, Penny? You’re in a gang?”

“The Southside Serpents,” Penny answered without skipping a beat. “I joined when I was about your age.”

“Why?” Betty demanded. Her mother was in a gang.

“My homelife was rough,” Penny reluctantly divulged. “My old man, your grandfather, was a drunk bastard who was always beatin’ up on my mama... But this isn’t a conversation to be having on your first day home.”

Home, she sighed, I don’t know what that means anymore.

“The Serpents took care of me,” she continued. “offered me a safe place, a family, even put me through college. Law school.”

Betty remembered the classes Penny had taken, how hard she’d studied, leaving her with Toni’s family when she wasn’t at daycare.

“Wait, you’re a-”

A lawyer. She knew that. Had never forgotten it. When she passed her bar exam, the Serpents had thrown a party. Penny had let her eat ice cream for dinner.

She was there that day, the day of her big test, waiting patiently with Toni’s mother as she played with a Barbie doll. She remembered the light in her mother’s eyes, the way she’d grabbed her from the bench, spinning her around, not caring if Betty’s laughter disturbed the others trying to do the exact same thing. Pass their final exam.

Penny had been so happy, so full of life, she’d asked Betty what she wanted most in that moment and Betty told her that she didn’t want to see her father that weekend. Both the courts and Penny had been happy to oblige by her wishes and Penny took her to a butterfly house instead.

Butterflies.

It’s what she had been doing that morning, chasing butterflies.

“Not everyone in the club is always on the right side of the law...”

Penny’s voice snapped her back.

Betty nodded. “It’s smart, having someone in their pocket.”

“I guess,” Penny sighed. “Leave the dishes kid, I’ll get to them later. Why don’t you go watch TV or somethin’.”

She didn’t move, paralyzed by her sudden thoughts. She only knew four of them, Jughead, Toni, Jellybean and her mother, people she thought she could easily trust, but Penny herself had just admitted that things were perhaps not as safe, as easy, as they seemed.

“Penny?”

She stopped.

“Are they dangerous?”

Her mother laughed, the same way she had the day she came home from her preschool class with the world’s unfunniest joke. Completely genuine.

When is a car not a car, mommy? When it turns into a driveway!

“Kiddo,” Penny sounded the most confident Betty had heard in the last twenty-four hours. “How many times do I have to say it? You’re mine. Trust me, no one is going to lay a finger on you. If they do, they’ll get fucked with plenty in return.”

Chapter Text


“Time to wake up,”

Betty grumbled in protest, pulling the old tweed blanket up to her chin. She didn’t smell bacon, which could only mean one thing. Her father was still on his business trip and Alice was only going to serve her a single piece of toast for breakfast, telling her that even a bowl of cereal would make her lose her girlish figure.

Chic, of course, could eat whatever he pleased.

“Wake up kid,”

“No,” she whined.

“Elizabeth Regan Peabody, get off your lazy butt.”

Her eyes snapped open. “Penny?”

She laughed. “Who else would it be, baby?”

Well, three days ago, I had an entirely different family, so... the possibilities are endless, mom.

Sighing, she swung up into a sitting position, twisting her sore neck, trying to get it to crack.

“This couch sucks,” Betty said bluntly.

“You chose to sleep there,” Penny shrugged. “if you don’t like it, there’s your old room, or... you could always sleep with me.”

She reached for the remote, flipping on the TV so she wouldn’t have to respond. Both of those options were too awkward to consider.

“Shut that off,” her mother ordered, snatching the remote away. “you have to get ready.”

“For what?”

“School.”

“School?”

“Yeah, you know, the place of higher education?” Penny tossed back. Betty couldn’t help but laugh at her tone, and she nearly smiled back. “Seriously kid, get up, get ready, we’re leaving in twenty.”

Obediently, she stood, but hesitated. “Didn’t you say something about laying low?”

“Trust me kid, if there’s one place you’ll be safe it’s Riverdale High,” she headed towards their tiny kitchenette, turning on the coffee pot. “nothing ever happens there.”

“But...”

“Get dressed Elizabeth,” Penny eyed the bathroom with a dismissive nod. “I might be new to this whole... parenting thing, but you’re going to do better than I ever did. Do you understand me?”

Betty nodded too.

“I asked you a question, Elizabeth,”

“Yes ma’am,”

Without another word, she did as she was told, pulling random articles of clothing from her open suitcase resting on the arm chair, boot leg jeans, a pink tank top and a cream colored sweater printed with hearts before shuffling into the bathroom to change. After washing her face, applying light touches of makeup to accentuate her features and tying her hair back tight into perfect formation, she stared at her reflection, again feeling lost.

Who was she?

It was hard not to think about what could have, and probably should have, been, what her life could have been like had her father not taken her from her mother. Today would have been just another day, not her first day, at Riverdale High, with close friends instead of very distant memories of the ones she had been forced to leave behind.


“This piece of shit...”

She had been trying for the last five minutes to get the Bug to start to no avail, much to her obvious frustration. Betty sat silently beside her, unsure of what to say.

“Fuck,” Penny side eyed her. “I gotta to start watching my language.”

Betty shrugged. “I’ve heard worse.”

Chic swore a lot, in the car on the way to school, when he pulled a muscle during his more rigorous workouts, when he got a bad grade on a test, whenever he felt like it. While Penny tried not to swear around her when she was younger, her father hadn’t seemed to care, dropping an F bomb when she was just two years old.

She’d repeated it to her daycare teacher. Penny was furious, though not at her, at him.

Penny opened her mouth to respond, but the sound of an approaching motorcycle made her jump out of the car, waving her arms above her head to try and signal the rider.

It worked.

Making a sharp turn, they pulled into the dirt driveway, legs bracketing the bike. It went silent again as the keys were pulled from the ignition, the helmet pulled away to reveal Jughead, looking annoyed.

“What?” He demanded. “I’m gonna be late.”

“If you left a little earlier...”

“Look who’s talking,” he snorted, not unkindly. “What the fuck do you want, Penny?”

“Can you take her?”

“Who? Angel?”

“No, Jellybean,” Penny snarked, eyes rolling. “Can you take her or not? My fucking car won’t start. Again.”

“I’ll come and pick it up later,” Jughead offered, reaching behind him to pick up another black helmet.

“You don’t mind?”

“Nah, not much,” his attention fell to her. “come on Blondie, I don’t have all day.”

“Uh,” Betty got out of the Beetle. “I’ve never...”

“It’s fine,” she waved her away. “Jughead’s not the worst driver, and anyway, you’ll be late if you don’t leave now.”

“Penny...”

“Get on the bike Elizabeth,”

“C’mon Blondie,” Jughead coaxed, beckoning her forward. “I’ve gotta get going.”

She took a step towards him.

“Betty wait,”

She was spun back around suddenly, arms wrapping around her in a surprising but not unwelcome embrace. Just like every other time they had said goodbye for the day.

“You got this baby,” Penny whispered in her ear. “Knock em’ dead. Have a great day.”

Just as quickly, she let her go.

Feeling conflicted, Betty took the helmet, placing it on her head and adjusting the straps as quickly as she could. Swinging a leg over the back of the bike, she placed her hands on his shoulders, only for Jughead to laugh, fingers locking around her wrists, forcing her arms to wrap around his torso, over his leather jacket.

Putting on his own helmet, he started the bike again. “Hang on tight angel, don't let go of me for a second.”

“Don’t let her out of your sight,” Penny shouted over the idling engine.

Jughead snorted. “Oh now you trust me?”

“I mean it Jonesy,” she called, a hint of finality to her tone. “don’t let anything happen to my kid.”

“She’s safe with me,” he promised, glancing back at her. “you’ll always be safe with me angel.”

Seconds later, they were racing down the street.

Chapter Text


Jughead had great abs. A six pack even, that she could easily feel under the thin fabric of his t-shirt, and even though was clearly blushing at the close contact with this boy she barely knew, she didn’t feel embarrassed.

If she wasn’t holding onto him so tight, she would have surely fallen. And Jughead didn’t seem to mind. At a spotlight, his arm covered hers, trying to warm her frozen hands with his larger one. Even after the bike came to a stop in the parking lot of Riverdale High, others around it, sharing the wide space usually meant for cars, her arms stayed locked around him.

“Easy angel,” Jughead chided teasingly. “I know I’m irresistible, but I still need to breathe.”

Betty glanced around, feeling eyes burning holes into her back, and now that the bike had stopped, she could hear bits and pieces of the hushed conversations coming from her new peers.

“Is that her?”

“Is has to be.”

“What’s her name again?”

“Why is she with Jughead?”

“Duh, haven’t you heard? She lives on the Southside!”

“Her mom’s a Serpent.”

“Wonder how long it will take for her to join.”

“Betty,” he whipped his head around to scowl at some passersby. “you okay?”

It was the first time he’d used her name, not one of his preferred nicknames and she found herself missing one term of endearment more so than the other. Angel. She wasn’t sure why he called her that, but she wasn’t complaining.

“Betty?”

“Hmm? Oh, yeah. Okay, I am okay.”

“Liar,” Jughead challenged.

Her eyes narrowed. “I’m not lying.”

“Okay,” he laughed, holding his hands up in surrender. “if you’re okay, then... do you think you can let go of me?”

“Oh!” A blush rose to her cheeks. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize... Here.”

She withdrew her arms.

Smirking, Jughead threw the kickstand down, offering her a hand to help her off the bike. Resting her helmet on the seat, she reached up to smooth her signature ponytail back, only to find it in complete disarray from the whipping winds.

Betty Cooper always wore her blonde tresses tied tightly back from her face, but Betty Peabody... Who knew what she could do?

She thought about her last name, the second one, deciding against using it. The last thing she wanted was to be associated with her father, only because she still didn’t know how to feel about him.

Did she love him? In a way, yes, did she forgive him? No, and she wasn’t sure she ever could.

Fingers trembling, she freed her hair, shaking it out, letting it spill across her shoulders in soft waves. Turning to face the school, she found Jughead staring at her, expression unreadable.

“What?” Betty demanded, suddenly self-conscious.

“Nothing,” he replied quickly. “it’s just... you look nice with your hair down. Good. Different.”

“I feel different,” she admitted, cheeks burning. “being here.”

“Good different?”

“Different different,” Betty said. “not bad, just...”

“Different,” Jughead grinned at her. “Gotcha.”

“We should probably...”

“Yeah,” his jaw clenched as more stares came her way. “Listen Betty, I... We... the Serpents, me, JB, Toni, we’ve got your back, okay?”

An immense wave of relief washed over her at his words. Somehow she knew that with Jughead, she would be safe.

“Thanks Jug,”

“You’re one of ours,” he said, even though she didn’t wear the Serpent’s jacket. “stay close to me, okay?”

“Of course,”

“Betty!”

“Hey Toni,” she called, eyeing the three approaching Serpents. “Hi JB.”

A boy nearly as tall as Jughead eyed her, hand wrapped around Jellybean’s. “This is Penny’s girl, huh? You’re... different.”

“Sweet Pea,”

“I mean, no offense doll, but your mom is so, typical biker babe, and you’re so... honestly, sugar, you’re a Princess.”

“Sweet Pea,” Toni echoed. “shut up.”

“She looks like she’s from the Northside,” he insisted, not unkindly. “I can’t be the only one seeing this. JB, back me up, baby.”

“She looks fine, asshole,” Jellybean snapped, smacking him in the stomach with her free hand. “Betty, this is my handsome, but incredibly dim witted and insensitive boyfriend, Sweet Pea. Please just ignore him, I always do.”

“Hey Jug!” A new voice called.

A red headed boy began to approach them, pulling a raven haired girl along behind him.

“My childhood pal, Archie Andrews,” Jughead told her, clapping him on the back. “and for reasons I can’t bring myself to understand, his girl, Veronica Lodge.”

Archie Andrews, the boy she’d kissed. The same boy that had thrown her favorite doll into Sweet Water River when they were there in early October with their parents. Jughead had dove in to get it, to stop her from crying, ending up with sopping clothes, chattering teeth and later, a cold, and she still hadn’t kissed him.

He was right, she owed him that kiss.

“You say the sweetest things to me Forsyth,” Veronica chirped.

Archie and Betty burst out laughing.

“I’m sorry,” she stammered, as Jughead’s glare shifted to her. “I forgot, I completely forgot that was your real name.”

“This is Betty,” Jughead hissed, hand gently clamping down on her shoulder.

“Betty Cooper,” Betty added, and then winced. It was a hard habit to break, but thankfully, no one seemed fazed by the slip.

"Welcome to Riverside,” Veronica offered, holding out a hand to her.

 Betty took it, smiling softly. “Thanks.”

“We should get you to the office,” he said, pulling her back to his side. “you need to get a class schedule.”

“I can show her,”

Jughead gently pushed her forward. “It’s okay, I’ve got her.”

“Jughead, it’s not a big deal-”

“Veronica, I said I’ve got it,” he snapped. “I’m not letting her out of my sight, so back off, okay?.”

“Jug,” Archie moved to her right. “I think you’ve got bigger things to worry about.”

Jughead groaned, turning her towards his chest before she could see. “Fuck.”

Chapter Text


“Fuck,” he said again.

They were as close to the front entrance as they could get, cameras poised, eager for a single shot of her.

“Shouldn’t it be written somewhere that these vultures can’t be on school property?” Jellybean demanded.

Toni scoffed. “Twenty bucks says Weatherbee invited them here himself.”

“Of course they’re here,” Veronica commented, studying her nails. “Betty’s abduction is the biggest thing to happen in Riverdale in, well, ever.”

“Shut up Veronica,” Jughead grumbled, arm across her back tightening. “I’m sorry Betty.”

“Who’s Weatherbee?” She whispered in response, eager for a quick distraction.

“Our principal,” he answered. “unfortunately.”

Toni snorted. “You just don’t like him because he always busts you for smoking on campus.”

“You smoke on school grounds too T,” Jughead scowled at her. “Don’t try and act all fucking high and mighty.”

“Yes, but unlike you, Jughead Jones, I’m smart enough not to get caught.”

“Toni-”

“We have more important things to worry about other than your pointless argument,” Jellybean stepped between them.

Jughead and Toni exchanged a brief look, and with a curt nod, suddenly, she was surrounded, a body on every side of her, shielding her from the prying eyes of hopeful reporters.

“This is your big protection plan, Jughead?” Veronica demanded, sounding less than impressed.

“Are you gonna help or not, Ronnie?” He threw back, dipping his head to whisper in Betty’s ear. “Remember what I said angel, okay? I’ve got you. We’ve got you.”

Timidly, she nodded.

Jughead and Archie sandwiched her between them, arms holding her tight. With Sweet Pea in front of her, Toni, Jellybean and Veronica taking up the rear, they created a protective barrier around her, neatly impenetrable as they moved past the sea of reporters. No one saw a thing.

Inside was a completely different story.

She couldn’t count how many of her new peers took pictures of her with their phones, and she didn’t want to know. She moved towards the office in a haze, the only thing she was aware of was Jughead’s arm, thrown across her shoulders, anchoring her to him.

“Fuckin’ Northsiders,” he grumbled under his breath, glancing back. “no offense Arch.”

Archie shrugged. “None taken. This isn’t right. Any of it.”

“You doing okay, angel?”

“Not really,” Betty confessed, sidling closer to him. “How much longer until I can go home?”

He glanced down at his watch-less wrist. “Only about eight hours or so.”

“Great,”

“Hey angel,” Jughead lifted her chin with a single finger, skin burning at his touch. “You’re gonna be fine, okay?”

She wanted to ask why he kept calling her angelBlondie was a given with her hair color, but angel... No one had ever had a nickname for her before. She liked it. She liked it a lot.

“Do you think they’re dating?”

“Maybe we should stop staring.”

“She’s nothing like I thought she’d be.”

“Look away heathens,” a new voice called. “nothing to see here.”

A girl with hair as red as Archie’s stepped forward, a single glare over her thin shoulder enough to disperse the crowd.

“Hi TT,” she greeted, pecking Toni on the cheek. “Hobo, Boy Wonder, ragamuffins, Frida Shallow, and hello dearest cousin, I’m pleased to see you again.”

“Again?” Betty repeated.

“Cher,” Toni sighed. “Give her a little time, would ya?”

She raised an eyebrow, still confused. “Cousin?”

“Cheryl Blossom,” Cheryl announced, offering Betty a hand. “Senior captain of the River Vixens, hell raiser, fellow Serpent.”

“And... my cousin.”

“Yes, darling cousin. It must have been so exciting for you, realizing you were a member of Riverdale royalty.”

Betty glanced at Jughead. “Um...”

“Of course, you’re also a Peabody, but fear not Cousin Betty, no one will hold that against you, or else, they’ll deal with me.”

“Cheryl is Toni’s girlfriend,” Jughead told her, sounding exhausted by the entire conversation. “She’s also a Serpent, when she’s not getting herself into trouble for doing some hell raising.”

“What’s fun without a little hell raising, Jones?” She quipped.

Toni wrapped an arm around her, shooting Betty a sympathetic glance. “We’re working on her sensitivity issues. Sorry, Betty.”

“Oh my god,”

“Kevin,” Veronica sang, grinning. “There you are! This is-”

“I think I would recognize my first love, V,” Kevin remarked, grasping her shoulders. “My first girlfriend... my only girlfriend, actually. Elizabeth Peabody, as I live and breathe.”

“Betty, this is-”

“Kevin Keller,” Betty said, managing a smile.

She glanced at Archie, and then Jughead before returning her gaze to the bronze haired boy.

“We used to play together,” she added, feeling self-conscious at the three blank expressions staring back at her. “The four of us, didn’t we?”

“Um yeah angel,” Jughead recovered first. “We played together, but... that was a long time ago.”

“You lived next door to me,” Archie blurted out.

Betty blinked. “I did?”

“Your dad did,” he corrected, frowning as Jughead delivered a not so subtle jab to his side with his elbow. “you stayed there sometimes.”

Only on the rare occasions her father qualified for his visitation.

She remembered so much more than she thought.

While Hal might have been a Blossom, a member of the richest family in Riverdale, that hadn’t mattered to a judge handling her parents custody dispute. Penny was only 20, nearly 21, an up and coming lawyer operating her services in the back of a tattoo shop, working behind the bar on the weekends to try and keep the lights on but she was still found to the more fit parent, and she had been. She was, whether she wanted to believe that or not.

“That’s right,” Betty muttered. “We would... play in your backyard. I convinced you to play Barbies with me, all of you, and when it was time to go... your dad always took Jughead and I home in his truck, taught us a bunch of old songs on the radio.”

She started to whistle the melody for Save the Last Dance for Me by The Drifters. Fred Andrew’s favorite.

Archie’s face twisted.

“We should really get you to the office,” Jughead’s arm came across her back, pulling her forward before she could protest. The others offered to accompany them, but he waved them away, quickening his pace.

“I’m coming,” Kevin declared, easily catching up to them.

He rolled his eyes. “Fine, whatever Kev, come on Betty.”

“Jug,” she squirmed in his grasp. “did I say something wrong?”

His gaze softened.

“No,” he said, letting her go. “well, yes, but it’s not your fault. You didn’t know.”

“Know what?”

“Fred Andrews...” Jughead sighed. “He died Betts, earlier this summer. He was hit by some asshole that left him on the side of the road to die.”

“Oh my god,” her heart hurt. “no... He was a good man.”

“He was,” he agreed grimly. “he was a great man, acted like a father to all of us.”

“I should go apologize to-”

“Honestly angel,” Jughead caught her by the hand. “it might be better just to let it go.”

She glanced at Kevin, who nodded in agreement.

“Change of subject,” he offered. “you look amazing Betty, even cuter than I remember. Don’t you think, Jughead?”

He looked away. “She was always pretty.”

A blush rose to her cheeks.

“Penny said I was your first kiss,” Betty teased.

Kevin nodded, laughing. “My father framed the photo, I’ll have you know. Listen Betty our relationship was fun, the baths we took together, and all those trips to the zoo and while you’ll always have a special place in my heart, I’ve met someone else, and I really, really like him. I hope we can still be friends.”

A giggle bubbled from her throat.

“A friend is exactly what I need right now.”


Angel,

Wait for me inside. Not sure if the vultures are still out there, but I’m not gonna take any chances when it comes to you. Don’t leave the building till I come find you.

-Jug.


“There you are,”

Betty blinked. “Veronica?”

“Come on,” she insisted, taking her by the hand, ignoring that her sudden movements nearly made Betty’s arm full of books spill across the floor. “the coast is clear for now but it won’t be for long. We’ve gotta go.”

“Where’s Jughead?”

She hadn’t been alone all day: if Jughead wasn’t with her, then Toni and Jellybean were, with Sweet Pea, Archie, Kevin and Veronica making brief appearances. Even Cheryl, once or twice, had accompanied her to class, growing kinder each time they spoke, though Betty knew it would take her some time to get used to her apparent cousin’s quips. Jughead told her to wait for him inside, but five minutes had turned into fifteen, and fifteen into twenty and he was still nowhere to be found.

“Betty,” Archie called, beckoning her forward.

Archie’s truck, Fred’s truck, that was, was the only one left in the lot, not a single camera in sight.

“Where’s Jughead?” Betty asked again, as Veronica tugged at her impatiently.

“This was his idea,” Archie replied, still waving her over. “Well his and some chick named Celeste.”

A pit settled in her stomach, wondering if the chick named Celeste was currently on the back of Jughead’s bike, arms wrapped around him, wearing her helmet.

Her helmet?

Betty snapped back, reminding herself that she had no right to feel jealous. Jughead. Wasn’t. hers.

“Come on,” Archie offered. “I’ll take you home.”

His smile was so easygoing and reassuring, she decided to trust him, moving to the passenger side. Veronica, now seated in the middle beside him, smiled, offering a hand to help pull her into the cab.

“He wanted to get the cameras off your back,” Archie told her, guessing her thoughts. “That’s all it was, Betty.”

Her jealously soothed.

“Jughead actually had a good idea,” Veronica agreed, shoulder touching Betty’s. “Who would have thought.”

“Ronnie,” Disapproval dripped from his tone.

“What? Archiekins, I was paying Forsyth a compliment. You should be happy.”

“Ronnie,” He said again, shaking his head.

“It’s interesting, really,”

“What’s interesting?” Betty asked.

“Ronnie.”

“How fond he seems of you,” she replied, looking thoughtful. “in the few years I’ve known Jughead Jones, I have never seen him even look at another girl, but then Betty comes along, and suddenly it’s his life mission to protect her.”


He pulled into her driveway, killing the engine.

“Thank you,” she said.

Archie smiled at her. “Any time.”

She liked Archie and Veronica. He was the all American boy next door, and she seemed a little spoiled, but they managed to make her laugh more than once during that short car ride, and within minutes, she felt completely at ease, like she had known them her entire life and maybe she would have, had things ended up differently, the way they were supposed to.

Swinging the door open, she paused. “Archie.”

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry,” Betty mumbled, avoiding his gaze. “about what I said earlier. I didn’t... I didn’t know Arch, and I’m really sorry.”

He reached around Veronica to touch her wrist with his large, warm hand.

“It’s okay,” Archie told her, as Veronica sidled a little closer to him. “You had no way of knowing, Betty, it’s not your fault.”

She tried to smile. “He was a good man.”

He nodded in agreement. “He looked for you, participated in the search parties I mean, when you first went missing. He helped FP and your mom organize them, put up posters, even kept a Missing Person’s flyer in his office for years.”

Her heart hurt a little more.

Fred Andrews had been a good man, a great man, and she would never forget him.

With the promise to see them the next day, and a surprising embrace from Veronica, Betty exited the truck, waving until they were out of sight. She tried to go inside, but found the door to be locked, Penny long gone. With nothing better to do, her attention turned to the Bug still stranded in the driveway, tools scattered across the yard.

Dare she?

Smiling genuinely for the first time all day, she tied her hair back, rolled her sleeves up and got to work.


She was so distracted by the purr of the engine as she turned the keys in the ignition, sounding smoother than it had the first time she rode in it, if she wasn’t being too overzealous, she didn’t notice the tow truck pulling in behind her, nor did she acknowledge the driver until a heavy hand landed on her shoulder. She jumped, whirling to face him.

“Wow, angel,” he called. “you are full of surprises.”

Chapter Text


“You’re really good with cars!”

“What?” She called back.

Jughead took a step closer to her. “How’d you fix it?”

“What?” Betty asked, a little louder this time.

“I said,” Jughead laughed, reaching around her to pull the keys from the ignition. “you’re pretty good with your hands, Blondie.”

She beamed at him. “Thanks.”

“Did not see that coming from you,” he confessed. “not when you cried over getting dirt on your dress.”

“My grandma bought me that dress,” Betty replied. “my dad flipped out when he saw the stain.”

Jughead blinked, confused. “You... remember that?”

She merely nodded.

He tossed her a spare rag from his pocket. “You’re a mess.”

Betty smiled gratefully, trying to wipe the grime and grease from her palms. “Thanks Jug.”

He shrugged. “You get home okay?”

“No,” she deadpanned. “I’m still at school.”

Jughead grinned. “Smart ass.”

“I learned from the best.”

“Betty, we were four.”

“I’m aware,” She handed the rag back. “So, how was your ride with Cecelia?”

“Celeste,” he corrected, grabbing her arm. “and hey, whoa, it’s not what you think, okay? Celeste is a Serpent that plays for Toni’s team, not mine. The only reason I took her for the ride was because you two have the same hair color. I put my jacket on her, had her lay her head on my shoulder. When her girlfriend came to pick her up, she punched me, told me I wouldn’t be allowed to borrow her girlfriend ever again, even if it was to help you out.”

Betty giggled. She couldn’t help it.

“She hit you?”

“Yeah,” Jughead laughed. “and pretty fucking hard.”

“Where’d you go, Jug?”

“Greendale,” he answered, stating the name of another town she’d never heard of. “it’s where I lost ‘em.”

“You didn’t have to do that-”

“Yeah,” Jughead said. “I did. I told you angel, I’ve got you.”

“Why do you keep calling me that?” Betty blurted out.

He grinned at her. “It fits, doesn’t it?”

“Um... I wouldn’t know.”

“Oh come on Betty, you really don’t see it?”

“Am I supposed to answer that honestly, or...”

“Christ,” he muttered, sounding annoyed. “do you want me to stop?”

Betty shook her head ponytail swinging from side to side.

“Good,”

Her cheeks burned as she returned her focus to the engine in front of them. “Did I do okay?”

His arm brushed against hers, examining her handiwork.

“Honestly Betty, this is one of the best jobs I’ve ever seen. Where did you learn how to do this?”

“My dad taught me,” she admitted, a pit settling in her stomach. “he wanted to teach my brother, but Chic was more interested in sports than cars.”

“Sounds like Archie,” Jughead quipped and Betty felt grateful that he didn’t press the issue of Chic or her father further. Most people probably would have wanted her to open up more, but not Jughead. “Speaking of, how was the ride home? Ronnie didn’t annoy you too much, did she?”

“You don’t like her much, do you?”

“I don’t dislike her,” he shrugged. “I just... She makes Archie happy, so she’s fine, I guess.”

“You don’t like her,”

“Not much, no.” Jughead admitted, laughing. “but Archie is my best friend, so I put up with her because he really believes they’re endgame.”

“...Did you really use the term endgame to describe a real relationship? I thought that was just something for TV and movie couples.”

He sighed. “I’ve been spending too much time with Kevin.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Jughead eyed her playfully. “You’re always had such a soft spot for Keller.”

“He was my first kiss,” Betty replied. “and my first boyfriend.”

“For all of five seconds, before you traded him in for Archie,” he teased. “and then you decided you wanted to be with Kev again. Shit Betty, the only one who didn’t get to have you as their girlfriend was me, and not for lack of trying.”

We could always try now, she thought, and blushing, tried to push it away.

“You ran away when I tried to kiss you,” she reminded him instead.

“Only because you kissed Kevin and Archie in rapid succession and I didn’t want their germs,” Jughead snorted. “I risked hypothermia to save your stupid doll, so don’t say I didn’t try, I would have done anything for you.”

Betty crossed her arms, feigning hurt. “Angela wasn’t stupid.”

Penny gave her to you, a familiar voice nagged. That’s why you loved her so much, because Penny gave her to her.

“You’ve got some competition,” he announced, voice snapping her back.

“I... What?”

“With Kev,” Jughead looked amused. “you’ve got some competition.”

“Oh um... we broke up today, for good, but you were there for that conversation.”

“Oh poor baby,” he sneered. “you must be so heartbroken.”

“A little bit,” Betty tried to hold back her laughter. “although he was cheating on me., the rascal Any idea who he’s been seeing on the side?”

“My buddy Joaquin,” Jughead admitted. “but don’t worry sweetness, he’s got nothing on you.”

Her cheeks burned at the latest term of endearment.

The sound of a motorcycle engine startled her as it pulled into the drive, and she instinctively took a step towards Jughead. Chuckling, he wrapped his arm around her for the second time that day, fingers lightly drumming against her shoulder.

“It’s okay,” he muttered. “it’s just Penny.”

“She rides a motorcycle too?”

“Most Serpents do.”

“Does Jellybean?”

“She’s only fifteen, like you,” he replied. “so I would certainly hope not.”

“Jug?”

“Yeah?”

“...Was I the youngest person in our preschool class?”

His forehead crinkled, like he was trying to remember, but then it seemed to hit him. “Um... yeah, you were. If you had started kindergarten with us, you would have only been four. You were just that smart.”

She beamed up at him.

“Hey Jonesy,” Penny called, dismounting. “get the car fixed?”

Her gaze turned to Betty, doing a double take.

“What the hell happened to you?”

“To answer your question,” Jughead let her go. “I didn’t fix the Bug, Betty did.”

Penny eyed her skeptically. “You know how to fix cars?”

Betty nodded.

“Let me guess,” her lips formed a thin line. “your father taught you, didn’t he?”

“How’d you know?”

“Because kid, it’s how we met.”

She dared to look hopeful, intrigued even.

“That’s a story for another day hon,” Penny waved her away. “I’ve got something more exciting anyway, well, two somethings.”

From the bag in her arms Betty had failed to notice earlier, she produced a knapsack, blue, decorated with flowers, and a brand new iPhone, still in its packaging.

“I realized I sent you off to school without either of these, so...”

She reached out to take them.

Penny pressed a house key into her palm instead. “Get yourself cleaned up first and keep that on you so you don’t get stuck out here again.”

Jughead sent Penny a knowing look.

“Not a word Jonesy,” she cautioned. “I’m new to this whole parenting shit.”

“But we’re going to figure this out,” Betty added. “together.”

“Together,” her mother nodded. “now seriously kid, go clean up, you’re fucking filthy. Don’t keep those clothes either, chuck them and I’ll get you some more.”

Sparing Jughead a final shy smile, she started towards the house.

“Listen, Penny, I was wondering...”


She unwound the towel from her still damp hair, standing in the doorway of her old bedroom, left completely untouched by her mother.

“You can decorate it anyway you want, you know. It’s still your room, kid.”

Betty shook her head. “It’s not that, it’s just... Can I ask you something?”

“If it’s about me and your father, then I’m sorry, but I’m just not ready to rehash all the shit we went through-”

“It’s not,” Betty promised, despite her growing curiosity

“Okay then, shoot.”

“Why’d you keep it?”

“I already told you, it was yours,” Penny answered, avoiding looking inside. “and...”

A moment of uneasy silence fell between them.

“Yeah?”

“Sometimes,” she sighed. “it was the only place I could go to feel close to you while you were gone.”

Betty’s heart ached at the thought of her mother, a woman coming across as tough as nails, breaking down in the last place that had belonged to the daughter she had lost, the daughter she had never really gotten to know.

“Why don’t we go look for some paint and furniture this weekend?”

Betty nodded numbly in agreement.

“Do you want me to make up the couch for you, kiddo?”

She glanced at the bed, only feet away from her, the room a mere remnant of the life she could have had, and if she was being truly honest, this was the life she should have had, here in Riverdale with Archie, and Veronica, with Kevin, with Toni and Jellybean, with Jughead, people a week ago, she hadn’t known, hadn’t remembered, but now she couldn’t imagine not having to survive this nightmare with. She should have been here, should have grown up here, with Penny, because maybe, just maybe, her mother wouldn’t be a shell of the woman she’d once been, young and carefree while still trying to provide a comfortable life for herself and her daughter, Betty her one true focus in the world.

“Kid?”

“No,”

She wanted to sleep here now, wanted to reclaim what she had lost, though she knew just how unrealistic that was. A single night in her toddler bed couldn’t erase thirteen years of damage inflicted on her by her father. She wanted to feel safe, and her old bedroom, knowing her mother was right next door, was what made her feel safe.

Penny seemed to understand, the upper corner of her mouth almost twitching into a smile. “Good night, then.”


She was three years old, supposed to be sleeping but how could she?

They were fighting again.

A glass broke, a lamp pushed off the table. More shouting.

“She doesn’t belong here and you know it.”


“N...No...”

She had only been asleep for a few hours when the door creaked, someone stepping into the room as quietly as they could.

She squeezed her eyes shut, embarrassed by the nightmare. The blanket was pulled up to her chin, and just as hesitantly, a kiss was pressed to the top of her head.

“It’s okay baby,” her mother whispered, smoothing her hair back before the door clicked shut again. “everything’s gonna be fine.”

Chapter Text


“So... What do you think?”

“I think,” Penny took another sip. “that I have a hard time believing you’ve never made coffee before, Elizabeth Peabody.”

Betty beamed, the use of her real name barely registering. “I did okay?”

“You did great baby,” she replied. “you’re a natural.”

Giggling, she downed her own cup, her second, not her first as Penny probably suspected as the familiar purr of a motorcycle engine bounced off the thin walls of their single story home, followed by a fist against the wood of the front door.

Penny’s eyes were glued to her phone. “Can you get that, kid?”

Betty nodded, twisting the knob.

“Morning angel,”

“Hey Jug,” She said, surprised. “What are you doing here?”

“Thought we’d chill for a bit,” Jughead laughed, dodging her hit. “What do you think? Get your stuff, we’re gonna be late.”

“You’re taking me to school again?”

“Is that okay? I mean, I can always leave you, but I’d feel kinda bad about it...”

“Idiot,” Betty rolled her eyes, going to hit him again. She picked up her knapsack, slinging it across her shoulders. “Of course it’s okay, I like you, Jug... I mean, I like riding with you...”

Jughead merely grinned, enjoying her flustered state.

“You’re not a terrible driver,” she corrected, blushing. “I’ve only ridden with you once... I’m going to shut up now.”

“Nah angel,” he nudged her, waggling his fingers at Penny in a mock goodbye. “keep talking. I like it.”

“Oh my god,” her face was on fire. “shut up. Now. Bye Penny.”

“Have a good day,” Penny called back, still staring at her phone. “See ya later. Oh, Betty, there’s a t-shirt on the table for you, don’t forget to grab it.”

“Uh...” She reached for it anyway. “Why-”

Jughead took her by the arm, pulling her through the front door. “Gonna be late, sweetness.”

“Hang on a minute,”

They froze on the front porch.

“Tomorrow morning you’ll only have one cup of coffee, Elizabeth Regan,” Penny’s eyes narrowed. “like we agreed.”

“How did you...”

“Kid, I’m your mom,” she laughed, letting the door slam shut. “I know everything you’re going to do before you do it.”

Even Jughead looked surprised, handing her the spare helmet as she climbed on after him.

“She’s my mom,” Betty shrugged. That was all the explanation they needed.

She was sure she caught the ghost of a smile on his face as he flipped his visor down, throwing the kick stand up.


“A lot of shopping has to be done online, unfortunately.” Veronica explained as they exited the school. “but there are some shops in town that will suffice. Maybe we could go this weekend.”

Betty bit her lip, not wanting to hurt her new friend’s feelings by declining the offer. “Oh um, actually Veronica...”

“There’s hordes of paparazzi trying to follow her every move Ronnie,” Jughead was perched on the seat of his bike, cigarette dangling between his full lips. “she’s supposed to be laying low, or did you forget that?”

It was a miracle they hadn’t camped out in front of the school, though Kevin promised her that his father was trying to make it safer for the places she could go. They never tried to find her at home, in the Southside, and she wondered if it was because of the Serpents.

“I was merely suggesting-”

“Veronica, if even a single photograph of her ends up in the papers before she’s ready, I will make you regret it.”

“Can you call off your guard dog, Betty?” Veronica rolled her eyes, exchanging a quick air kiss. “See you tomorrow.”

“Easy, guard dog,” Betty teased, taking her helmet. “She was just trying to help, Jug.”

“Pretty Girl, you are so naïve,” Jughead’s tone was teasing, but she sensed a further meaning behind his words. “Veronica Lodge is never helpful, not even to Archie. She wants to take you shopping so she can dress you up like her very own Betty doll.”

She laughed. “Jug, come on.”

“I’m serious Betty,” he sighed. “you’re the first girl that’s been able to tolerate Veronica Lodge for more than five minutes since she moved here two years ago. She’ll latch onto you know, like a fucking urchin.”

“Jug,” Betty repeated, still giggling. “You’re ridiculous.”

He caught her by the shoulders before she could straddle the bike.

“Betty,”

“...Jug?”

Jughead seemed to realize himself and let her go just as suddenly. “Fuck Betty, I’m sorry, I’m just... tryin’ to look out for you, I guess. If you wanna go shopping with Veronica then go... but don’t let her try to change you, alright?”

Her eyes softened.

“Don’t change for anyone, Betty,”

“I won’t,” She replied softly. “Thank you Jug.”

Jughead took another puff, blowing a smoke ring out over her head. “For what?”

She sidled closer to him. “For everything.”

“Don’t thank me angel,” Jughead snorted, throwing the remnants of his finished cigarette to the ground, destroying it with the heel of his steel toed work boot. “I didn’t do a damn thing.”

“Better hope Weatherbee doesn’t catch you,” she teased, deciding not to press the issue further.

“It’s a good thing he left early today then, isn’t it?” He sneered in response, glancing back at her with a grin. “Ready to go?”

“Yeah,” Betty pulled her helmet on, patting the front pockets of her jeans. “Damn it!”

“What’s wrong?”

“I left my key at home,” she grumbled. “and I have no idea what time Penny is going to be back.”

Jughead smirked. “What if I told you that I wasn’t talking you home?”

“I’d say that my luck is starting to turn around but... Where are you taking me?”

Still grinning, he gripped the handle bars, standing so she could mount the bike. “Still got that t-shirt Penny gave you?”

“Un huh,” it was in her backpack. “why?”

“You’re gonna need it Blondie.”

“Jughead,” Betty smiled despite herself. “where are we going?”

“Do you trust me?”

“Yes,” she answered, without hesitation.

“Then hold on tight, sweetness.” 


They pulled up to an old building, broken down cars and parts surrounding it. A sign out front advertised it as “The Shop.”

“A garage?” She called to Jughead, as he killed the engine.

He pulled the keys from the ignition, pocketing them. “Gee Blondie, what was your first clue?”

“You’re kind of an asshole, Jug.”

“Oh I’ve been told,” Jughead grinned, standing so she could get off. “Sorry sweetness, but I’m sure you’ll get used to it.”

Sharing a smile, they started towards the Shop, though a lone car driving too slowly down the street made her pause in suspicion. Both Penny and Jughead had mentioned laying low... Was this really the place to do it?

“Betts,” Jughead’s voice snapped her back. “still trust me?”

“Of course I do,”

“No one is gonna look for you here, okay? I promise. You’re safer on the Southside than anywhere else.”

I’m safer with you, she thought, cheeks burning.

“Thank you Jug.”

His fingers slid down her left arm, leaving a burning trail in their wake, wrapping around her hand in a long squeeze. “Any time sweetness. C’mon.”

Still blushing, she followed along behind him, making sure to keep close. Angel, Blondie, sweetness, and now Betts? She loved it.

“Will the nicknames ever end?” Betty teased, thinking aloud.

Jughead offered her a playful wink. “Guess you’re just gonna have to stick around to find out, Princess.”

Chapter Text


“’Bout time you showed up, asshole,” Sweet Pea grumbled, from underneath a classic Jeep Wrangler, only his long legs sticking out. “Oh hey doll, what are you doing here?”

Betty glanced at Jughead. “I have no idea.”

“She’s here to help,” he replied simply.

“Help?” Someone snorted. “Her? Right. Good one, Jones.”

“Because girls can’t be good at fixing cars?” Toni threw back. She was sitting behind a desk, paperwork spread out across it, a pair of wire-rimmed glasses perched on the end of her nose.

“They can be,” he said. “you just aren’t, and Blondie over there... I highly doubt it. I mean, fuck Topaz, fuckin’ look at her.”

“Betty, meet Fangs Fogarty, another Serpent, Fogarty, learn some fucking manners, leave my sister the hell alone when she’s trying to work, and say hello to Betty.”

“Penny’s girl,” Fangs dropped his rag to shake her hand. “nice to finally meet you, sweetheart.”

“He hasn’t been at school all week,” Jughead mumbled, close to her ear. “or else you would have met the asshole sooner.”

“Idiot put a stink bomb in the girls bathroom in the first floor.” Toni told her.

The dark haired boy sent her a sharp look. “I told you, Topaz, it wasn’t my idea.”

“And I told you that you don’t have to go along with every idea Joaquin has-”

“Heard my name,” Joaquin waltzed out of a back room. Spotting Betty, he grinned. “Ah, Penny’s girl. I was wondering when we’d meet.”

“Ah,” Betty mimicked, trying to remain straight faced as Jughead laughed beside her. “Joaquin, the boyfriend stealer.”

Toni met her gaze, eyes lighting up in amusement. She was still close enough to Jughead to feel his laughter as their arms touched. Even Joaquin looked amused.

“Guilty as charged,” he confessed, palm enclosing over her own, squeezing softly. “I’m sorry, really, I am, but Kev, he’s just so irresistible.”

“You two look good together,” she offered. “but don’t think I won’t hold a grudge.”

Joaquin held his hands up in mock surrender. “I’ll make it up to ya doll, I promise.”

Jughead rolled his eyes. “And how do you plan to do that, ‘Quin, huh? She was fuckin’ heartbroken.”

He pretended to think.

“I’ll protect you,” Joaquin said. “from Jones here, don’t you worry sugar. From now on, I’ve got your back.”

Jughead no longer looked amused. “I’m the last person she needs to be protected from. At least with Kevin and Archie in actual relationships, I might stand a chance this time.”

Her cheeks reddened.

Of course he had a chance, many chances that she secretly hoped he would take.

“Did you bring her to help Toni?” Fangs asked, ruining the moment.

“No,” he said. “I brought her because she’s a fucking amazing mechanic, the best one I’ve ever seen.”

“Fuck you Jug. No one’s better than me, and no offense sweetheart, but I sincerely doubt that a girl like Betty would know a thing about cars.”

“You wanna bet on that, Forgaty?”

“Twenty bucks says she can’t fix the Cosmo I’ve been struggling with all week.”

Jughead glanced at Betty, smirking. “Forty.”

“Sixty,” Fangs challenged.

“Eighty,”

“A hundred,”

Not breaking eye contact, he nodded. “Deal.”

“And this is where the protection comes in.” Joaquin muttered, fingers locking around her wrist, pulling her to his side. “Jones, Forgarty, you don’t bet on some poor girl, especially right in front of her.”

“Jug only made the bet because he has faith in her,” Toni defended. “you know that, right Betty?”

Betty nodded. “Oh, I know, and he’s going to win.”

“You’re cocky, Princess,” Fangs grinned. “real cocky, but I like it. Don’t worry, when Jones loses, I’ll still treat you to a milkshake at Pop’s.”

She turned to Jughead. “What’s Pop’s?”

“Where I’ll take you when the paparazzi finally gets it through their thick fuckin’ heads that they’re never going to get within an inch of you if we have anything to say about it,” he promised, gently pushing her towards the office. “now go get changed angel, I can’t wait to see the look on this prick’s face when he sees just how good you are.”


“Happy?”

He threw the kickstand down, laying his helmet on the seat before grabbing her in a surprising embrace, swinging her around.

She giggled.

“Ecstatic,” Jughead emphasized, returning her feet to the ground. “God Betts, you were fucking amazing. Easiest hundred bucks I’ve ever made, by far.”

Adjusting the strap of her knapsack against her shoulder, she stood in front of him, Jughead leaning against the bike, arms crossed, staring back at her in admiration.

“I’m gonna take you to Pop’s,” he vowed.

“Soon?”

“Real soon angel, any time you want. Just gotta wait it out a little longer.”

Betty sighed, casting a quick glance at the still deserted street. “Do you think they’ll ever stop?”

“Eventually,” Jughead pulled her attention back to him as he ran a hand up and down her right arm. “I told you Pretty Girl, no one is going to touch you when you’re with me.”

A blush rose to her cheeks.

“With us,” he corrected quickly. “when you’re with us.”

“I know, Jug.”

He squeezed her shoulder.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Anything.”

“Earlier, at the garage, when you called Toni your sister...”

Jughead exhaled through his nostrils. “Yeah?”

“She wasn’t your sister when we were kids.”

“She was always like a sister,” he shrugged. “Toni’s parents were killed in a car accident when we were seven. She has a grandfather, but his health isn’t great, so my parents adopted her.”

A pit settled in her stomach.

She remembered Toni’s parents, the cookies her mother would make, the smell of her perfume, her father’s loud laugh, the pipes he smoked outside and the silly faces he made when he caught them staring back at him through the window.

She didn’t live across the street anymore.

“You okay angel?”

Betty managed to nod. “Yeah, it’s just... so many tragedies for such a small town. Mr. Andrews, Mr. and Mrs. Topaz...”

He nodded. “It might not be fair, but that is life, Betts, and you’ve gotta make the most of it while you can. Toni never takes a single day for granted. I admire that about her.”

“Jughead Jones,” Betty smiled at him shyly. “you’re pretty deep.”

“Shut up,” Jughead snorted, shoving her gently. “Listen... You got plans this weekend?”

“Jug, I don’t have plans for any weekend.”

“Right, sorry,” he rubbed his neck with a single hand. “it’s just...”

He trailed off.

“What Jug? Tell me.”

“It’s easy to forget,” Jughead mumbled. “that you haven’t been here. Every time I talk to you, Betts, it’s like I’ve known you my whole life.”

He reached out, tucking a loose strand of her usually tightly tied back hair behind her ear. Betty leaned into his touch, his palm moving to cradle her cheek.

“So you’re free this weekend?” He murmured.

She merely nodded.

“Good,” Jughead broke away from her, swinging a leg over the bike. “I’ll see you tomorrow angel.”

“You’re taking me to school again?” Betty blinked. “Jug wait, what are we doing this weekend?”

It was his turn to nod, throwing his visor down only to lift it back up.

“Eight o’clock,” he told her. “I’ll pick you up.”

“Jughead!”

“Sweet dreams angel,”

He sped off.

Chapter Text


Penny glanced at her as she slid out of her beat up jacket, throwing it onto a nearby chair. “How was school, kid?”

Betty shrugged in response. Riverdale High was nothing like the school she had attended in New York, no AP classes, easy quizzes and even easier homework, leaving her feeling both bored, and underwhelmed, though it was also an immense relief no longer being under Alice’s watchful eye, destined to be perfect.

“I always felt the same way,” her mother laughed. “How about the garage? Hopefully that went a little better.”

She beamed. “I won Jughead a hundred bucks!”

“...Doing what, exactly?”

“Fixed a Cosmo,”

“Let me guess, Fangs said you couldn’t, right?”

Betty nodded.

“Damn kid is too cocky for his own good sometimes,” she grumbled. “so is Jones for that matter, but at least he knows talent when he sees it.”

“Can I go back tomorrow?”

“Sure baby,” Penny replied absentmindedly. “Whatever you want. I got you something.”

“Oh, Penny, you didn’t have to-”

“You’re my kid,” She insisted, tone firm. Betty briefly wondered if she should tell her that she sounded more like a mom every day, but decided against it. “I’d give you the world if I could, but for right now, here’s some paint samples.”

She handed her several sheets, colors varying.

“Um... Wow. You, uh, you really... Went all out.”

“We talked about painting,” Penny shrugged. “I don’t know what your favorite color is, so pick whatever you want.”

Scanning the rows, Betty found the different shades of pink and immediately winced, her reaction not going unnoticed by her mother.

“What?”

“What?” She echoed.

“You made a face. What’s wrong?”

“Oh, um... It’s nothing.”

“Kid,” Penny leveled her gaze at her. “that’s not gonna work with me. I can smell a lie a mile away, and if there’s one person you should never lie to, it’s your mother, so spit it out. Why are you upset?”

Betty her lip, wary of discussing anything having to do with Alice Cooper with her real mother, though Penny had asked, nearly demanded, not just because she was curious, but because deep down, Betty knew she cared.

“Alice,” she managed to grit out. “decorated my bedroom for me, she decorated all of our rooms, and mine was just so... Pink.”

She’d never liked that room much, and even after just a few days, she was happy to be free from it. Everything in that room had been handpicked by Alice, much like her clothes. Because of the woman that had raised her, she didn’t know what she liked, didn’t know what her own style was.

Her father had taken so much from her, giving her almost nothing in return.

Penny stared at her for a long moment.

“Do you remember your ballet lessons?”

She nodded timidly.

“You loved to dance,” Penny’s eyes were faraway. “loved the leotards, the tutus, the ballerina slippers... unless they were pink. Any time I tried to put you in anything pink, you threw a fit. Your dad tried to force you into all those frilly little dresses...”

She trailed off quickly.

“Penny...”

“No use getting lost in the past,” Penny shrugged. “You can have whatever you want. Nothing is too big or too small or too expensive. Anything you want baby, it’s yours. Now finish your homework and I’ll start dinner.”

Betty’s eyes filled with unexpected tears. Penny swore that she had no idea what she was doing when it came to being a mom, but Betty thought she was doing fine.

“Did Jughead talk to you about this weekend?”

“He said not to make plans...”

“It’s just a bonfire,” Penny told her. “an excuse for the Serpents to get together. You don’t have to come, but... I took you when you were little.”

She felt the pang of a memory, running through the crowds with Toni, making faces across the fire at Jughead, falling asleep on her mother’s shoulder.

“I’d like to go,” she said.

Penny smiled. “I was hoping you’d say that.” 


Later that night, in the safety of her bedroom, she pulled her phone out, dialing blindly.

“Are you stuck on your Trig homework too?”

“What? No, I finished that hours ago-”

“Help. Me.” She demanded with a whine. “I’m dying here.”

“Of course I’ll help,” Betty replied. “but I need your help first.”

There was a slight pause.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she smiled at the concern.

“Okay... What do you need? I’ll do anything.”

“Toni... What do you wear to a bonfire?”

Toni went silent.

“Really Betty?”

“What?”

“I’m the last person you should call for fashion advice!”

“But you’re the first person I could think of to call,”

“I’m flattered,” she said. “I am, but Jellybean calls me Wednesday Adams for a reason Betty.”

“That’s not helpful,”

“Wear something warm, we’ll be out most of the night.”

“Also not helpful Toni,” Betty said again. “Do you want help with your Trig homework or not?”

“You know I need the help.”

“You help me, I’ll help you,”

Toni sighed. “Fine,”

“Really?”

“I’ll come over after school on Friday,” she promised. “don’t worry girl, we’ll find something.”

Chapter Text


Kid,

Had some shit to deal with. Jonesy said he’d give you a ride (*cue the massive eyeroll*). If you’re worried about tonight... don’t be. The Serpents are a family, for better or for worse. You’re one of ours. No one’s gonna fuck with you.

See you tonight.

Penny.


“Toni,” Betty swung the door open before she could knock. “...and Cheryl?”

“I’m sorry,” Toni whispered, stepping inside. “she wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Cheryl entered after her, arms laden with every article of clothing imaginable; jeans, shorts, skirts, both leather and non-leather, tank tops, crop tops, long sleeved, short sleeved shirts, and shirts that were made to look like they were bras. Betty’s cheeks reddened, smiling at the thought that Alice would have rather set fire to every article she had ever written, along with her computer than see her dressed like a Serpent.

She would have given anything to see her face.

“I’ve been dying to do this since you first arrived, Cousin Betty,” Cheryl chirped.

Toni looked her up and down, taking in the pink skirt and white sweater she currently wore, her hair pulled back from her face in an impossibility tight ponytail.

“You know, what you’re wearing is totally-”

“Betty Cooper,” Betty finished, frowning. “what I’m wearing is totally Betty Cooper.”

“What’s wrong with-”

“No TT,” Cheryl said. “I completely understand what she’s saying.”

Toni raised an eye brow. “I’m glad you do, cause’ I sure as hell don’t. Betty, if you don’t want to look like... like her, then who do you want to look like?”

She stared at the floor, accepting the first article of clothing her red headed cousin handed her.

“Who I was supposed to be,” Betty answered.


“Fuck,”

“Jug, if you’re going to insult her...”

“I would never...” He trailed off, scowling at Toni. “Shit Betts, you look amazing, sweets, I just wasn’t...”

Betty flushed under his scrutinizing stare. They’d decided on a quarter length gray sweater, a pair of high waisted shorts, fishnet tights, and black combat boots. With her hair falling across her shoulders in soft curls, her makeup admittedly darker than usual, she felt even more out of place rather than that she belonged.

Her fingers inched towards the palms of her hands. No one else knew, not even Alice, who had driven her over the edge time and time again.

It was as if he could sense her doubt.

“Betts,” Jughead recaptured her attention. “you’re beautiful.”

She smiled shyly at him in return. “Thanks Jug.”

“But... what we talked about the other day...”

“It was my choice Juggie,” Betty told him.

“Okay,” He handed her the spare helmet, visibly relaxing. “Ready angel?”

Nodding, Betty straddled the bike, watching as Cheryl did the same with Toni’s, wrapping her arms tightly around his midsection.

“By the way, Jug,” she called, tone teasing over the loud purr of the engine. “I know it’s a bonfire.”

Glancing back at her, he smirked, flipping down his visor. “Ruin my fun, cutie.”

With a smirk of her own, she rested her head against his back, feeling less out of place, more found than ever.


“Hey,” he hand slid down her arm, fingers interlocking. “relax angel, I’ve got you.”

Merely nodding, she let them lead her further into the darkness, the thick trees and brush hiding the partygoers while the noise was a dead giveaway.

“Does anyone ever call the cops?” She asked.

Jughead snorted. “If they’re smart, they don’t.”

A chill ran down her spine.

“Jug,” Toni nudged him. “shut the fuck up. He’s kidding Betty, we know how to tone down a party if we have to.”

Betty smiled nervously in response.

“Blondie, I was jokin’,” his hold on her hand tightened. “relax. We really need to work on your sense of humor.”

She stuck her tongue out at him. Toni laughed.

“Now you’re getting it, Cousin Betty.”

Cheryl pulled Toni ahead of them, leaving her as Jughead’s responsibility, though he didn’t seem to mind, brushing his thumb across her knuckles.

“I’ve got you angel,” he said again.

Betty blushed. “I know you do, Jug.”

Even from a mile away, the massive fire warmed her skin, casting shadows amongst her new family members. Jughead squeezed her hand as she shifted, further hiding herself behind him.

“C’mon Pretty Girl,” he coaxed. “where’s your sense of adventure?”

“Must’ve left it at the garage,” Betty quipped.

Jughead’s lips twitched. “Better, cutie.”

“Jug,” a booming voice called, as a taller man, features eerily similar to Jughead’s, approached them.

FP Jones, Jughead’s father and the man that had led the way back to the Southside the night she was given back to Penny.

“Dad,” he said, gesturing to her, still staring like a deer caught in headlights beside him. “this is Betty.”

“Penny’s girl,” The man shook her hand, ignoring her burning cheeks. There was something about her that liked being known as Penny’s rather than Alice’s. “and the young lady that fixed the Cosmo I gave to Forgarty over a week ago. Pleased to meet you, sweetheart, I’m FP Jones, leader of the Serpents.”

“The Serpent King,” Jughead deadpanned, and his father mockingly slugged him.

“Hi,” Betty managed to choke out.

Grinning at her once more, he brought his fingers to his lips for a loud, piercing whistle.

“Listen up,” He demanded, catching everyone’s attention.

Jughead’s hands moved to her shoulders, holding her captive as FP stood front and center, the conversations that had been going on around them quickly coming to an end.

“Relax,” he insisted, close to her ear.

“There’s a reason we’re all here tonight,” FP’s tone was crystal clear. “a reason that’s twelve years in the making. One of our own has finally found her way back home.”

Eyes fell on her and Jughead pulled her back against his chest, holding onto her a little tighter.

“Let it be known right now that Elizabeth Peabody is one of ours, and every Serpent will gladly die to protect her.”

The Serpents began to cheer, and just as quickly as attention had been placed on her, it was gone again, leaving her with Jughead as her sole companion.

Grinning, he turned her to face him. “That wasn’t so bad, now was it, sweetness?” 


“Look at you, kid,”

Betty flinched as Penny glanced her up and down, expression unreadable.

“I... like it.” She defended warily.

Penny’s eyebrows shot up. “Did I say that I didn’t?”

“So it’s okay if I-”

“Jesus Christ Betty,” Penny snapped, looking both angered and alarmed, a confusing combination. “What the fuck did that bastard and his picture perfect bitch of a wife do to you that you think I’m gonna get mad at you for showing a little skin?”

She cast a timid look at the outfit her mother wore, her stretchy tank top tied in a knot just above her bellybutton, showing off her flat stomach.

“Elizabeth Regan Peabody, I asked you a question,”

She wasn’t asking as Penny, but as her mother, and clearly, she was expecting an answer.

“Whatever I wore,” Betty tried to swallow the lump in her throat. “it was never good enough, it was never perfect, I never looked perfect. If my... If she didn’t approve, she would make me change until she did. I was almost late every day when she expected perfect attendance.”

Alice would have killed her for revealing even an ounce of what had truly happened in the less than perfect Cooper household.

Good thing she didn’t have to answer to Alice anymore, because Alice wasn’t her mother.

“You’re not perfect, Betty,”

A finger landed under her chin, forcing her gaze upwards.

“No one is,” Penny added. “and I sure as hell don’t want you to be.”

It was the best thing Penny could have said to her.

“So... You wouldn’t mind if I dressed like this more often?”

Because she liked it, she really, really liked it.

Penny almost smiled. “Baby, I told you, whatever you want.”


“Hey angel,”

When he offered her a hand, she took it immediately, allowing him to pull her up into the bed of Sweet Pea’s ancient truck. Toni, Cheryl, Fangs and Jellybean were there too, along with a few other teenaged members of the Serpents Betty couldn’t have named if she tried, passing a flask back and forth.

“Cousin Betty, come sit with us!” Cheryl commanded, waggling her over with a single, perfectly painted nail.

Jughead shrugged, squeezing her hand before he let her go. “I’m right here if you need a rescue, Blondie.”

“My hero,” Betty quipped, making Toni laugh as she maneuvered over arms and legs to get to them. Patting the spot beside her, Toni offered her a sip from the flask in her hand. Not wanting to seem out of place amongst her new group of friends, she accepted, the bitter liquid burning her throat as she began to cough.

She’d never had alcohol of any kind before, but no one laughed at her.

Fangs swiped the flask for himself, merely grinning at her. Toni stayed close, their arms brushing as she and Cheryl argued over whether or not they should have put Betty in red, her cousin’s signature color, over gray. Sweet Pea and Jellybean didn’t seem to notice, too wrapped up in their own conversation.

“We’ll work on it, Cousin Betty,” Cheryl promised, when she coughed again. “we’ll work on it.”

Jughead whacked Sweet Pea on the back before he could even try and kiss Jellybean.

“Fuck you Jug, I wasn’t tryin’ to do anything,” he spluttered, surveying the rest of their friends. “Bonfire’s getting lame, anyone wanna hit Pop’s?”

Betty glanced at Jughead, looking hopeful.

“I said I’d take you there, didn’t I, angel?” He replied simply.

“What about the-”

“Sugar,” Sweet Pea leveled his gaze at her. “no one is gonna fuck with you when we’re around. Relax.”

“Why don’t you go find Penny,” Jughead suggested, taking her by the arms, lifting her down from the bed. “ask her if you can come along. We’ll wait for you.”


“You missed some jobs, Pen-slot,”

She froze.

“Got a fuckin’ teenager to cover for you?” He laughed. “That’s low, even for you.”

“I’ll find a way to get him out of this,” Penny’s tone was even. “I don’t care about your jobs anymore, Tall Boy, I’m done, and so is Jughead.”

Her heart stopped.

“And what makes you think either you have a choice, Pen-slot?”

She knew why his nickname was Tall Boy by the way he towered over her mother, but to Penny’s credit, she didn’t back down, even as the creep grew closer.

“I just got my kid back,” she hissed. “and your petty little drug deals are the last thing on my mind. I’m gonna do better, I actually have a reason to be now.”

“Oh right,” he sneered. “is Blondie gonna be a problem, Peabody?”

Betty flinched back in shock at his use of Jughead’s nickname for her.

“I know you’re not threatening my daughter,”

“What if I am?”

She took an unconscious step back, a twig snapping under her borrowed boots, immediately bringing both furious gazes to her. Hands grasped her upper arms, fingers indenting into her pale skin beneath the sweater as she was pulled protectively back against a hard, broad chest.

“You were always good at sneakin’ up on people, baby,” she mumbled, eyes dead.

“Pop’s,” Betty squeaked, trying and failing to free herself from Jughead’s grasp. “Can I go to Pop’s with everyone?”

“I’ll have her home in an hour,” Jughead offered from behind her.

Penny never broke her intense eye contact with Betty.

“Make it two,” she said. “maybe three, and for fuck’s sake Jughead, don’t let her out of your sight for even a second.”

Through hazy eyes, Betty saw her mother reach towards her back pocket, brandishing what looked like a very sharp knife.

She exhaled a shaky breath.

“Have a great time kid,” Penny crooned, turning back to a suddenly startled looking Tall Boy. “You’re going to love Pop’s. Jonesy, get her out of here.”

He listened immediately, pushing her ahead of him, back in the direction of Sweet Pea’s truck. When he felt they were safe, he swung her back to face him, cupping both cheeks.

“Are you okay?” Jughead demanded, eyes anxiously sweeping over her. “Fuck Betts, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I never would have sent you over there if I had known...”

Slowly, Betty retracted from his embrace.

“Betts, baby...”

“Everyone’s waiting,” she whispered.

“Baby,” he said again, reaching for her.

“Juggie please,” tears burned her eyes as he pulled her close, fisting the lapels of his unzipped jacket so tightly, her knuckles turned white. “just take me to Pop’s.”

Jughead’s jaw tightened, seemingly at war with himself, but then he gave a stiff nod, lacing his fingers through hers, not saying another word as he dragged her towards the truck.

Chapter Text


“Well this is just fuckin’ great,”

“Don’t look at them, idiot,” Jellybean chided, pulling him back from the window. “if they catch you staring, they’ll really know that Betty is here.”

“Speaking of,” Fangs mumbled. “Really Jug? That’s your great hiding place?”

They were on the floor, under the table his arms wrapped securely around her. Their few moments of fun, as much fun as she could have after finding out that her mother and childhood friend were selling drugs on the side, had been interrupted by the arriving vans, the accidental flash from a camera alerting them to the reporters parked outside.

“You got a better idea?” Jughead tossed back, harsh tone making her flinch under his arm. “Fuck Betts, I’m sorry.”

“I do.” Toni offered. “Pop, can we go out the back?”


“Do you trust me?”

Did she?

He could have been dangerous, he was certainly living the life style, just like Penny, but he had never given her a reason not to. Not when he drove to Greendale with another girl so she could get home safely, not when he dove into Sweet Water River to rescue her doll.

Not now, even when she knew the truth.

Betty nodded numbly.

“Betts,” Jughead coaxed, catching her chin before she could drop her gaze to the floor. “Say it, please. Do you trust me?”

“Yes,” she whispered.

“That’s my girl,” he almost smiled, shrugging out of his jacket. “I’ve got you, okay angel girl? Just don’t let go of me.”

Draping the heavy outer layer over her blonde tresses, the scent of tobacco and cologne filling her nostrils, one arm came under her knee, the other sliding across her back as her lifted her up, holding her close.

Betty let her head fall heavily against his shoulder. She trusted him. Even if she didn’t have a choice in the moment, she trusted him, because this was Jughead, and just like Penny, he’d always had her best interests at heart.

“We’ll talk,” he promised, guessing her thoughts. “I’ll tell you everything Betts, just not here.”

“We’d better,” Betty snapped, voice muffled.

Jughead slipped through the door being held by somebody else, carrying her outside. The truck’s rumbling engine filled her ears, only feet away.

“Forgarty,” he barked, and then she was being handed off, lifted higher into the air, Fangs holding her for only a moment before lowering her onto the bed.

There was a light thud, the familiar sound of Jughead’s work boots, and he gathered her in his arms again, his jacket still draped over her, hiding her from view, pulling her to rest between his legs as the truck sped off. His hand found hers, thumb drawing comforting circles across her knuckles. She didn’t dare let go.

“It’s the Serpents!”

“Where’s Betty Cooper? Is she with you?”

“The world has a right to know about what it was like living with Hal and Alice!”

When the shouts of reporters finally faded away, Betty revealed her face again, the late October breeze whipping her hair around. She tried to hand it back to Jughead, but he frowned, wrapping it around her shivering form instead.

“The world doesn’t need to know shit,” Toni grumbled.

“I wish they would get my fucking name right,” she added, earning a surprised glance from her pink haired friend.


“I wish I could pretend like tonight didn’t happen,”

“Me too,” he mumbled, perching on the seat of his bike. “but since we can’t, let’s talk Betts, give me your best.”

“Jug...”

“It’s not what you think, okay?”

“So Penny isn’t dealing drugs?”

“Okay, it’s a little like what you-”

“Are you helping her?” Betty cried.

His palm smacked over her mouth. “Watch it angel, you never know if people are listening.”

A chill ran down her spine at the thought. What if they weren’t alone?

“Shit Betts,” Jughead pulled her to him, arms wrapping around her. “I’m sorry sweets, I shouldn’t have said that. You’re safe. We’re safe.”

She sighed, meeting his gaze. “I want to believe you, Jug, but...”

“Jesus,” he breathed. “you don’t believe me, sweetheart? You’re safe Betty, I would die before I let anything happen to you.”

Betty stepped away from him in alarm. “Don’t say that.”

“Why? It’s the truth.”

“I know that the Serpents protect each other or whatever, Juggie, but I can’t stand the thought of anyone willing to die for me... Especially you.”

Jughead laughed. “I didn’t say that I would die for you because I’m a Serpent, Elizabeth,”

She scowled at the use of her first name. “Then why-”

“Oh you stubborn, stubborn girl,” he mumbled, looking both amused and exasperated. “Betty, have you been listening to a word I’ve said this entire week? I wasn’t teasing you about kissing Archie and Kevin and not kissing me. I wasn’t joking about missing my chance or asking you to give me another one. Baby, I said I would die for you because it’s how I feel. I said it because it’s the truth, I’ve known since the first time I saw you again, passed out on Penny’s couch, drooling a little, that I would do whatever it takes to keep you safe, and I intend to do that, Betts, I’m going to protect you from everything I can.”

Dear god, Betty thought, this boy is actually perfect.

Meeting his gaze, Betty stood on her tiptoes, bringing her lips to his. It was her first kiss, and she had no idea what she was doing, but Jughead didn’t seem to notice, bringing both arms to lock around her waist, anchoring her to him as his mouth worked feverishly against her own.

All too soon, air became a necessity.

“Jesus angel,” Jughead rasped, breaking away from her with a wide grin. “who are you tryin’ to kill here, huh?”

Betty giggled.

“We’re getting distracted, baby, not that I mind, but...”

She took his hand.

“Tell me Jug,” she said. “tell me everything.”


“It was supposed to be a favor, a one-time thing.”

“A favor?” Betty repeated, perched on his knee. “For who, Tall Boy?”

Jughead nodded, stone-faced. “It was a little over a year ago, right after I got my license. Business had slowed down for Penny a little, and she needed to pay her prick of a private investigator-”

“Investigator?”

“Baby, she never stopped looking for you,” he said, stroking her hair back. “Tall Boy loaned her the cash.”

“What did she have to do to pay him back?”

“Take some pancake mix to Greendale,” Jughead gritted out.

“And pancake mix is code for-”

He held up a hand to cut her off. “Trust me Betts, you don’t need to know.”

But she did.

“Jug-”

“No Betty,”

“But Jughead-”

“I’m protecting you,”

She rolled her eyes at the argument. “Fine. So Penny took some pancake mix to Greendale, big deal. Why is she still doing it now if it was supposed to be just a one-time thing?”

“Tall Boy has a lot of people working for him,” Jughead grumbled. “including assholes who know how to work a video camera.”

Betty gasped. “He recorded her?”

He nodded.

“Let it out angel, you know you wanna,”

Betty rose, too focused on her rage to be embarrassed over the fact that she had nearly been sitting on his lap when she had never so much as held hands with a boy prior to coming to Riverdale.

Things had changed.

“That son of a bitch,” Betty cried, nails inching towards her palms. “That bastard! That goddamned mother fucking bastard!”

“Okay,” Jughead stood too, snagging her around the waist. “that’s enough, baby.”

“How can he-”

“Betty,”

“I could kill him,” she insisted, struggling against his grip. “I should... I will!”

“Take a breath, sweetheart.”

His touch finally began to relax her, and she almost went limp in his arms, trusting him to support her weight.

“Tall Boy,” she managed to grit out. “has been blackmailing her so she’ll keep selling drugs to people in Greendale?”

Jughead nodded. “And now that you’re home, baby doll...”

“He thinks she has even more to lose...”

“And she does,” he sighed, kissing her hair. “so do I.”

Betty twisted around to peer up at him. “How did you get involved in this, Jug?”

“Penny got into a little fender bender and I went to help her out,” Jughead explained, shrugging. “I didn’t give her a choice. Someone had to protect your mom, Betts,”

Her arms slid around his neck, planting a soft, sweet kiss to his lips.

“I’m glad it was you,” she whispered. “Jug, have you told your dad?”

His grip tightened. “I can’t,”

“Why?”

“Because,” he replied, tone even.  “if he ever found out that I was involved, he would insist on saving me, and I won’t do that to him. I won’t let him take my place. He’s sacrificed enough for me Betts.”

Betty reached up, cradling his cheek with a single hand. He leaned into her touch, their noses brushing in a short nuzzle.

“Hey,” she said. “we’re gonna figure this out, okay? All of it.”

“I know,” he mumbled. “and we’ll do it together.”

She merely nodded as he pulled her close, burying her face into the soft fabric of his t-shirt. Too much had happened to talk any more about it tonight, and there was still one more person she needed to check on.

Her mother.

“Can you take me home, Juggie?”

“Sure baby,” he tugged her towards the bike. “you and Penny have a lot to talk about.”


There was a welt under her eye.

“Penny...” Betty let the door slam shut behind her.

“Hey, you should see the other guy,” her mother joked tiredly.

“You should ice it,” she said in response, heading for the fridge.

“Leave it alone kid,”

Betty ignored her.

“Elizabeth-”

“Penny,” she threw back. “just let me help you, okay?”

“Why the fuck would you wanna help me?” Penny demanded, jumping to her feet. “Why would you help me, Elizabeth?”

Did she really have to ask?

“Because you’re my-”

“But I’m not,” she hissed, and Betty’s eyes filled with unexpected tears. “Kid, I might have carried you, might have given birth to you, I might have even raised you on my own for the first three and a half years of your life, but I’m not your mom. I can’t be, Betty, I don’t know how.”

“Penny...”

“Who wants a mother that sells drugs on the side?” Penny let out a bitter laugh. “Alice Cooper might be a whackjob but maybe she was a better mother to you than I could ever be.”

Betty’s heart shattered at her words.

Alice Cooper was not a perfect mother, was not even a good mother. She was demanding, impulsive and pushy. She knew exactly what to say to get under someone’s skin, and seemed to get some sort of sick pleasure in doing so.

Alice could never be a perfect mother. There was no such thing.

But there was Penny. Undemanding, laid back but still not afraid to show emotion Penny. Her real mother.

“Alice Cooper,” Betty’s voice shook. “is a psycho bitch.”

They both burst out laughing, a much needed relief to erase all the built up tension.

“Thank the fucking lord you ended up so normal,” Penny muttered, brushing her arm over her own teary eyes.

Betty unclenched her fists, hiding the newest crescent marks against her palms.

“Mhhm,” she agreed.

“Listen kid,” her mother turned serious again. “forget about what you heard tonight, you got me?”

“What? But Penny-”

“I mean it Elizabeth,” her tone brokered no room for argument. “whatever you saw tonight, whatever you heard, forget about it. It’ll be better for you in the long run. I’m not gonna let you anywhere near that shit. Do you understand me? Stay away.”

“Okay,”

“Elizabeth Regan Peabody, I asked you a question. Do you understand me?”

Betty bit her lip, standing a little straighter. “Yes ma’am,”

“Well then...” Penny gave an awkward pat to her shoulder. “Goodnight, Betty,”

“Uh Penny, wait,”

Her mother deserved to know the truth. About everything.

She paused in the doorway of her own bedroom. “Yeah kid?”

“There’s something you should know...”

Penny groaned. “Why am I getting a feeling that I’m really not going to like whatever you’re about to say?”

A blush rose to her cheeks.

“Great. Spit it out then, kid, before my hair starts turning gray.”

“I...” Betty drew out, smiling shyly. “I might have kissed Jughead tonight.”

Chapter Text


"She’s with Jughead now,”

“Why doesn’t she just put on a leather jacket and call herself a Serpent?”

“I think they look good together.”

Betty sighed, feeling his grip tighten on her hand.

“Ignore them Princess,” Jughead mumbled, guessing her thoughts. “You’re the talk of the town now, but in a few months...”

“I’ll still be the talk of the town?”

He shrugged, throwing his bag down. “More than likely.”

“Thanks Jug,”

“Betty,” a single finger dipped under her chin, bringing her gaze to his. “I’ll never lie to you, even if it seems like I’m being an ass.”

“Which you are,” Archie offered, heading towards his truck, Veronica in tow. “ninety-nine perfect of the time.”

Jughead gave his friend the once over. “Archie.”

“What?”

“Come here.”

“Why?” He demanded, already changing course. “I was kidding Jug... mostly.”

“What happened to your chin?” Jughead asked, tilting his face away to get a better look.

Archie jerked away. “Don’t worry about it.”

He was missing skin, a scab just barely beginning to form.

“What happened?” He repeated, tucking Betty under his arm. “Is somebody fuckin’ with you, Andrews?”

“He took a hit to the jaw at the community center last night,” Veronica told him, pursing her lips. “Why the third degree, Forsyth?”

Jughead sent Betty a warning look before she could laugh. “Been lying to your girlfriend again I see, Arch.”

“Jug,” Archie stepped forward. “shut up.”

Betty waited, to see if Jughead would push him further, but several moments passed as the two boys stared at one another.

Finally, Archie gave a stiff nod and seized his girlfriend by the elbow, yanking her back.

“Be careful Betty,” he advised, over his shoulder. “Something you might not remember about Jug, he’ll always think you’re trying to pull one over on him.”

“Fuck off Arch,” Jughead snapped.

Archie’s tires left scorch marks against the school lot.

“Um, what was that all about?” Betty asked.

He sighed, shaking his head. “Never mind Betts.”

“Jug,” she nagged. “you just said you’d never lie to me.”

“It’s not a lie if we don’t talk about it, Betty,”

“It’s kind of a lie when you keep it to yourself,”

“You’re pulling at straws,” he told her, grinning. “okay fine. I think Archie’s up to something. That’s it.”

“Up to something?” Betty echoed.

“He runs a community center,” Jughead shrugged. “teaches kids how to box and some other self-defense moves. Only problem is, it’s closed on Thursday’s, just to give ‘em a break.”

“Hmm,” she tapped her chin. “could he have been sparring with someone?”

“It’s possible,” he agreed, swinging a leg over the bike. “I dunno Betts, I just feel like he’s lying to me. We usually spend Thursday’s playing video games, but he canceled on me, last minute, and that’s not like him.”

“You were with me yesterday,” Betty said, remembering how they’d spent the day cuddled up on his couch, under Penny’s ever watchful eye. “You didn’t say anything about having plans with Archie.”

Jughead shrugged again, tugging her towards him. “I would have just brought you with me, angel.”

Smiling, she leaned down to press the softest kiss to his lips. “This whole never letting me out of your sight thing is getting a little excessive.”

“Hey,” he held his hands up in surrender. “I’m just following your mother’s orders baby. Do you really mind it that much?”

Betty met his gaze. “I get a free ride to and from school every day on a sick bike operated by a leather jacket wearing, beanie bearing bad boy who risked hypothermia when he was four to save my favorite doll, who’s been protecting my mother from a control freak drug lord, and who happens to me an amazing kisser. What do you think?”

“I think,” a single arm wrapped around her waist. “that you need to get your cute little ass on the back of my sick bike before I give everyone left in this parking lot a little show.”

Her cheeks burned as she followed his command, pulling her helmet down over her head, arms wrapping around his midsection in a tight hold.

“Are we going to the garage again?”

Jughead glanced back at her, flipping his visor down. “Is that okay with you, sweet thing?”

“I love that you bring me there,” she confessed, resting her head against his back.

His hand settled over hers for a moment, squeezing softly. “And I love that my biker babe isn’t afraid to get down and dirty. Let’s get this show rolling baby.”


“Shit Jug, tell your girlfriend to stop showing off.”

“Hey girlfriend,” he called, lazily watching her from his workbench. “keep it up sweets, ‘cause you have no idea how fucking hot you look right now.”

She blushed. It had been a week since their kiss, and they hadn’t talked about getting together, they just were, unofficially official, though none of their friends seemed truly surprised. Cheryl swore she’d seen it coming, Toni and Jellybean had told her that she and Jughead suited one another, that they made sense. It was, however, the first time he had called her his girlfriend.

“Done!” Betty declared, tossing her wrench to the side.

Joaquin leaned through the open window of the corvette, twisting the keys in the ignition to test her handiwork. The engine purred as it came to life, not sputtering like it had previously, and he shut the car off, grinning.

“She does it again,” he drawled, looking at her with the upmost respect. “sweetheart, I don’t know how we survived without you.”

Arms wrapped around her waist from behind.

“I second that.” Jughead murmured in agreement, lips closing in on a sensitive spot against her neck, his breath tickling her skin, much to his apparent amusement. “Anyway sweetness, it’s about time we get going. Penny wants you home.”

Betty frowned. “She does?”

Penny had been pretty lenient with the times she was allowed to come and go, and Betty wondered if it was because she was still new to the whole parenting ordeal, or if Penny just trusted her judgment.

“Why?”

He shrugged. “Beats me baby, but I’m not going to risk getting on her bad side by keeping her waiting. Say your goodbyes, angel, cause we’re outta here.”


“Can I ask you something?”

“Anything,” his lips pressed to her temple in a quick, sweet kiss. “What’s on your mind, beautiful?”

Betty’s heart swooned at the nickname. “Jug, would you ever... let me go with you?”

Jughead’s eyes flashed in understanding.

“No,” he hissed. “absolutely not.”

“Juggie-”

“Baby, you knowing about this is bad enough,” Jughead sighed, tugging her closer. “I have to protect you Betts, and that means keeping you clean. If anything were to ever happen... I won’t let you go down with me.”

“Jug.”

“Angel, we’re done talking about this,” he lifted her chin with a single finger, lips teasingly only inches from her own. “The answer is no. Tell me you understand.”

“Jug,” Betty protested again.

“Tell me you understand Elizabeth,” Jughead pleaded, against the corner of her mouth. “Let me protect you Betts. Say it. C’mon.”

“Okay.” She whispered.

“That’s my girl,” he said, breaking the distance.


“Penny?”

The old wood floor was covered by dirty tarps.

“Wow Pen,” Jughead stepped in behind her, their fingers laced together. “You are full of surprises.”

“What do you say, kid?” Penny asked, paint roller in hand. “Wanna get started?”

Chapter Text


She ignored Jughead and Joaquin as they jostled the old frame into the hallway, ready to toss it into the bed of Sweet Pea’s truck. She decided to donate her old clothes and furniture, no longer needing items that would have only fit a two year old, but everything else had been carefully packed away for her to go through at a later date, so she could decide if there was anything from her misplaced childhood that she so desired to keep.

Betty rested a hand on the wall, where the letters spelling out her first name, E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H, had once been layered, and sighed.

“I think that’s the last of it,” Toni announced, picking up the final box. “are you ready to start... Betty, you okay?”

Betty didn’t reply.

She put the box down, moving to stand beside her. “What’s on your mind?”

“It’s weird,” Betty admitted

“What’s weird?”

This,” she gestured to the now empty space. “it just feels...”

“Weird?” Toni guessed.

Betty flashed her a smile. “Toni Topaz, mind reader.”

“Smart ass,” she threw back, grinning. “B, how long have you been home for?”

“Two... two weeks now.”

“Exactly,” Toni touched her arm. “It’s normal Betty, it’s completely normal. A fresh start is always scary, but just remember, you’re not in this by yourself.”

“A new start,” Betty recited. “that’s exactly what this feels like... Thank you Toni.”

Toni threw an arm around her shoulders, leading her from the room. “Any time Little Bit, now c’mon. Let’s show these idiots how it’s done.” 


“Whoops,” she said, grinning as the edge of her roller brushed across his plain black t-shirt.

Jughead’s eyes narrowed. “That didn’t look like an accident Elizabeth.”

“Sorry,” Betty drawled, not sounding sorry in the least bit. “but your wardrobe could use a little color, Juggie.”

“Funny,” he drawled, starting towards her. “you’re real funny angel. Sweet Pea, hold her.”

Large hands grasped her shoulders as she backed into him, not letting her budge an inch.

“Jug,” Betty cried, trying to hold in her laughter. “Don’t!”

“Don’t what, angel?” Jughead asked innocently, slowly dropping to his knees, rolling her shirt up to reveal only a flash of her flat stomach.

“Forsyth-”

“Payback’s a bitch, baby,” he replied, reaching for the can of paint beside him. “don’t let go of her man, she’s a slippery one.”

Betty indeed began to squirm as the feather light touches from the pad of his fingers tickled her skin.

“What the fuck is going on?” Jellybean demanded, entering the room with more paint.

“Language Forsythia.” Jughead chided, his free hand on her hip, further stilling her attempts to break free.

“What are you doing to Betty, Forsyth?”

He ignored his sister, finishing up his handiwork before she was finally released. Betty craned her neck, eager to see what, exactly, he had done. Across her stomach, he had drawn a heart, and within that heart, he had made three simple letters; two J’s to signify his initials, and a B, for her own.

A blush rose to her cheeks.

“You’re turning into a fucking sap.” Sweet Pea sneered.

“Only for my girl.” Jughead replied, straight faced. Turning to her, he cradled her jaw, brushing his thumb across her cheek, back and forth. “Only for you.”


“I like it, kid,”

The walls had been painted a calm, subtle shade of gray, her new double bed with the white headboard pushed up against the far wall, a wooden table right beside it. Jughead has tacked a map to the wall when she mentioned hopes of traveling someday, calling her a dreamer, his sweet little dreamer, and she had chosen to string Christmas lights around it. Above her bed sat an empty shelf she hoped to fill with books as time went on. A circular chair sat across from the bed, and she had barely been able to get Sweet Pea out of it, Jellybean’s boyfriend nearly falling asleep before the raven haired girl had decided to deliver a swift kick to his shin, startling him awake, and beside that, a wooden desk that had once belonged to her grandmother.

“I do too,” she confessed. “and you know what the best part is?”

“What’s that, baby?”

“No pink in sight.”

Penny snorted. “Yeah, you’re my kid alright.”

With a hesitant hand, she brushed Betty’s hair back.

“Penny, do you wanna-”

Her phone rang, cutting Betty off mid-sentence. An apologetic, but hardened look crossed her mother’s face as she read the message.

Penny sighed. “I’m sorry kid, I’ve gotta... duty calls. Stay here, you got me? Stay here, and for god’s sake, Elizabeth Regan Peabody, don’t open the door for anyone.” 


“I’m sorry baby,” Jughead muttered, cupping her cheeks like he wanted to wipe away her disappointment. “but I’ve got a shift at the Wyrm tonight.”

Betty’s eyebrows raised. “The Wyrm?”

“Serpent hangout,” he answered, kissing the top of her head. “I’ll take you next weekend. Consider it part one.”

“Part one?”

“Didn’t I tell you?” Jughead teased, against the corner of her mouth. “It’s our first date, angel.”


“Toni, wait,”

She paused, one arm in the sleeve of her jacket. “Yeah?”

“Do you...” Betty paused to blow a kiss to Jughead pulling out of the driveway. “Do you have any plans tonight?”

Toni’s lips twitched into a grin. “Cheryl’s sick, so JB offered to let me third wheel on her date with Sweet Pea, but I can only take watching so much face sucking when it comes to my little sister, so I was gonna go home. Why?”

Betty sighed, silently debating. She had never had any real friends before, had never even had a sleepover, all because of Alice, but she wasn’t “home” anymore. She didn’t belong to Alice, she wasn’t Betty Cooper.

She was Betty Peabody, and she could do this.

“Do you want to stay over?” She blurted out.

Toni smiled. “I’d love to.”


“Weird, ugly clown doll thing?”

Betty made a face. “My dad gave that to me... Give away!”

Mimicking her expression, Toni tossed the startling knick·knack towards the box marked donations. Maybe it was too soon, but Toni had offered to help, and truthfully, Betty was ready to rid herself of nearly everything she had once owned. At least everything connecting her to her father.

“Ballet slippers?”

Those were from Penny, that she knew.

“Keep,”

“Do you still dance?” Toni asked suddenly, startling her.

“Back in New York I did,” Betty answered, eyes narrowing. “four days a week, but how did you know about-”

“The slippers?” Her pink haired teased, playfully flinging them at her. “Well, that, and we took ballet together.”

“We did?”

“You were always the more graceful out of the two of us.”

“I just didn’t hate wearing the tutus, Toni,”

“...True.”

“When did your mom stop trying to turn you into a girly girl?”

“After our first recital, when I snuck off stage, and she found me in the dressing room, watching a wrestling match on TV and getting donut dust all over my two hundred dollar costume.”

The two girls laughed sadly.

“She made the best chocolate chip cookies,” Betty said.

Toni’s eyes shone. “You remember that?”

She nodded. “I think we ate our weight in them every time I came over.”

A heavy silence filled the room.

“Um, Betty... What else do you...”

“Remember?” Betty asked, continuing after Toni’s own nod. “Playing in the mud, jumping in puddles after it would rain, those amazing cookies, that show we both loved, with that creepy purple... thing. You were my best friend, played dolls with me when Kevin, Archie and Jug refused. Toni... why did you push Archie off the swings that day at school?”

“Actually, I did it for Jug,” Toni said, grinning. “Archie said the two of you would never end up together. Aren’t you glad he was wrong?”

Chapter Text


“J... Jug?”

“Well good morning Sleeping Beauty,” came his cheerful reply.

“Good morning?” Betty growled, ripping the phone away from her ear long enough to check the time. 1:24 AM.

She heard him chuckle on the other end of the line.

“Forsyth...”

“I’m sorry baby,” Jughead murmured, not sounding very sorry at all. “but I couldn’t sleep, and the only thing I wanted to do was hear your sweet voice.”

Her tone indeed softened at his words.

“Juggie...”

“Go back to bed, little angel,” he commanded gently. “there’s no reason for us to both be awake.”

“There’s no way I can go back to sleep now.” Betty laughed. “Unless...”

“Unless what, baby?”

“Sing me a lullaby, Juggie?”

Jughead snorted. “Now I know you’re delirious, angel, how ‘bout I read to you instead?”

“A classic?”

“Do I read anything else, Elizabeth?”

She used to hate her given name, the way Alice would sneer it out across the dinner table, even asking her to do the most simplest of tasks. Pass the peas please, Elizabeth, darling. But there was something about the way Jughead said it, only semi-serious, like he wanted to make her roll her eyes.

Penny spoke her name the way a mother should have, if that even made sense. She’d been devastated to lose Alice at first, but it was getting harder and harder to remember why.

“Did I lose ya already, angel of mine?”

Butterflies filled her stomach.

“Not at all, boyfriend,”

“Have I ever told you how happy it makes me to hear you say that?”

“Well you’re only been dreaming about it since you were four years old,” Betty teased.

“Oh way longer than that baby,” Jughead replied, and she knew without a doubt that he was smiling too. “You have no idea.”

“Tell me then, boyfriend,”

“Well girlfriend, I think it’s safe to say that I have had an unhealthy obsession with you since the day we met.”

“Uh Jug?” She laughed. “You came to visit me in the hospital the day I was born.”

A moment of silence passed.

“Betty,”

“Yeah?”

“How... How do you know that?”

“I’m... not sure,” Betty admitted, nose scrunching in annoyance. Sometimes, she had no way to turn it off. “Did I get it right?”

Jughead chuckled, his voice sounding deeper this time of night. “Yeah baby, you got it right.”

“So, you’ve liked me since I was a day old?”

“Less than,” he answered. “Betts, I had the biggest crush on you when we were kids. It pissed me off that you would kiss Kev and Archie, but not me.”

“When I tried to kiss you-”

“Listen shortcake, we’ve been over this already,” Jughead teased. “you know, that day I decided I was gonna make a move on you. I was gonna get my moment.”

A lump formed in her throat.

“Too bad you had to wait twelve years just to take your shot, huh?”

He sighed. “Baby, we can’t think about that.”

“It’s hard not to,” Betty argued. “Can I ask you something Juggie?”

“Anything angel, but you already knew that.”

“Did you ever...”

“Think about you?” He finished, and she nodded, momentarily forgetting that he couldn’t see her. “Well... yeah, sweet thing, all the time.”

Her heart was ready to beat outside her chest. “Really?”

“It was you, me, Kevin and Archie when we were little, Betts,” Jughead said. “Toni too, when she wasn’t being a stick in the mud, but it was mostly the four of us, or the three of us depending on Sheriff Keller’s schedule, and I’d be doing stuff with Kevin and Arch or with Toni, and I...”

He trailed off.

“Tell me Jug,” she whispered. “Please?”

“I’d wish you were right there along with us,”

What, she wondered, could she have ever possibly done in her short life to deserve such a beautiful boy?

“Juggie...” Betty closed her eyes. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Then don’t say anything,” he suggested, tone even. “just listen. I know you’re tired angel, I woke you up, so now it’s my responsibility to get you back to sleep.”

“What are we reading?”

She could practically hear the smile in his voice.

“Frankenstein.”

Betty giggled. “That hardly sounds like a bedtime story.”

“You’ve obviously never heard me give an oral presentation in class, puts Toni and Sweet Pea to sleep every time. I'll have you snoring in no time, pretty girl."


“Betts,”

She stifled a yawn. “Hmm?”

“Baby, you’re sleepy.”

“No... no I’m not.” Betty lied, trying and failing to sound convincing. “I’m... I’m... What am I, Juggie?”

She heard him chuckle.

“Angel, what’s the difference between a gasoline engine and a diesel engine?”

“Umm... Purple?” She guessed, eyes lulling shut.

Jughead laughed again. “Thanks for proving my point, sweetness, now go to bed, cause’ tomorrow is kind of a really important day.”

“Isn’t tomorrow actually today?”

“Your brain can still point that out, but you can’t answer a simple question about a car?”

“...What’s tomorrow? Today, I mean?”

“My sleepy girl,” he teased. “Baby, it’s our first date.”

She definitely wasn’t tired anymore.

“Betty?”

“Hmm?”

“Bed, baby.” Jughead commanded gently. “I’ll pick you up at six, okay? Sweet dreams, angel of mine.”

He clicked off before she could utter even a simple good night. Her first date with Jughead. It was a wonder she had ever been able to sleep at all.

Reaching for her phone again, she searched through her contacts blindly.

“You’d better be bleeding,” came the tired, irritated reply.

At least she’d answered on the first ring, proving that she was a loyal friend through and through.

“I... What?”

“You’d. Better. Be. Bleeding.” She gritted out, sounding more awake now. “You had better be in a parking lot somewhere, bleeding profusely, and you only called me because you know I can save you better than my idiot brother ever could. That is the only reason you could possibly have for waking me up.”

“Uh... not exactly.”

“Elizabeth Regan Peabody.” Toni whined. “is this about your date with Jughead today?”

“Thank you.” Betty muttered.

“What?”

“Never mind,” she sat up, stretching her arms above her head. “I don’t know what to wear.”

“Betty,” Toni sounded exasperated. “you can’t keep calling me for fashion advice.”

“I’ve only called you once...”

“B, I have no fashion sense!” She added, continuing on as if Betty hadn’t spoken. “Call Cheryl, call Veronica, hell, call Jellybean if you’re desperate, although that girl would live in Sweet Pea’s oversized sweatshirts if she could.”

“Toni...”

“I’m the last person you should be calling, Little Bit.”

“Toni!”

“What?” Toni demanded tiredly.

“Can I call all of you?”

Her friend let out a long sigh. “I’ll see you tomorrow at four.”

Chapter Text


“That top would look ridiculous on her Veronica Lodge. And you call yourself a fashion expert.”

“Not everyone wants to wear red, Cheryl,”

“What about-”

“Jellybean, Betty is not wearing one of Sweet Pea’s ratty old shirts on her first date with our brother!”

“I told you Wednesday Adams, it’s JB now and that’s not what I was going to suggest.”

Toni tossed a dress down onto Betty’s unmade bed. “How about I call you Forsythia?”

“Go ahead and try it, Antionette.”

“You’re both pretty,” Cheryl threw her hand up to calm them, stroking Toni’s cheek. “especially you, my beautiful girl.”

Jellybean rolled her eyes, pretending to look disgusted. “Way to play favorites Cher, oh, and if you could refrain from making out with my sister right in front of me, that would be great.”

Veronica returned from scouring her closet. “Betty, you’ve got some really cute stuff in here, you could always wear-”

“No,” Betty said, looking away in disgust. “I can’t.”

“Why not?” The raven haired girl pressed, sounding both curious and concerned.

Because every single outfit in there was hand-picked by Alice Cooper, she thought. everything was chosen to make me look perfectly perfect.

And I’m not. I never will be.

“Because my dearest cousin just had her entire world yanked out from under her, and she’s still trying to figure out who she is, Veronica,” Cheryl snapped, tone protective. “Stand down Eva Peron, and leave my cousin alone.”

“Why don’t we ask Betty what she wants to wear?” Toni offered.

“Good idea.” Veronica agreed. “B, what do you want to wear?”

Betty sighed.

“I don’t know.” She confessed, after a moment. “I don’t know what I want to wear, or do... Cheryl’s right, I don’t know what I want, or who I am, or... I just don’t know anything. About anything.”

Veronica wrapped an arm around her. “No one’s asking you to figure it out in a single night, Betty.”

Toni let go of Cheryl, crossing the room to offer her a hand. Withdrawing from Veronica’s embrace with a managing smile, she accepted it without hesitation.

“I told you Little Bit,” Toni pulled her to her feet. “we’re in this together. Now C’mon, you’ve got a hot date... even if it is with my brother.” 


She held a hand to her stomach, remembering the previous weekend in her bedroom, Jughead’s gentle fingers tickling paint across her skin. He’d given her a subtle reminder by not giving her a last name.

She couldn’t be Elizabeth Cooper anymore, but she wasn’t ready to be Elizabeth Peabody yet, and that was okay. All she had to be was Betty.

The familiar sound of a motorcycle engine pulling into the drive caused a grin to break out across her face. Tightening the jacket around her shoulders, she spun on her heel and ran for the door.


“Stop right there,”

She froze.

“Turn around,”

Slowly, she pivoted.

“Smile,”

“W-What?”

“Smile,” Penny repeated, before she was blinded by the flash of the camera on her mother’s phone. Studying it, she nodded. “Nice one kid.”

Betty blinked. “Um...”

“You look great,” she added, glancing out the window. “don’t keep your... boyfriend waiting, huh?”

She smiled at the mention of Jughead’s newest title, stalling by the door. “Penny, you’re... okay with this, right?”

There was a long pause.

“Yeah kid,” Penny said. “I’m okay with it. I’ll still cut him if he ever so much as looks at you in the wrong way but... if you’re happy, I’m happy.”

A soft smile tugged at the ends of her lips.

“Now seriously kid,” she laughed, making a grand gesture of sweeping her arm in the direction of the driveway. “go. Have a good time.”


“You’ve been wearing your hair down a lot angel,”

Her fingers inched towards her palm. “Do you not-”

“You really are an angel Elizabeth, I swear,” his hands settled on her hips. “I dunno how I got so lucky.”

Betty relaxed. “You’re the lucky one?”

“Affirmative,” Jughead pulled her to the bike. “ready to go, baby?”

Nodding, she accepted her helmet, swinging a leg over the seat, wrapping her arms tightly around him.

“Oh, and Jug?”

“Yeah, sweets?”

“The major difference between diesel and gasoline is that in a gasoline engine, fuel is mixed with air, compressed by pistons and ignited by sparks from spark plugs.” Betty told him, grinning. “In a diesel engine, the air is compressed first, and then the fuel is injected.”

Jughead shook his head, sharing her smile.

“My girl,” He kick-started the bike. “My beautiful, amazing, astonishing girl. You ready for our first date, baby?”

“More than I can say.”

“Well then, what are we waiting for?”

They sped off down the street.

Chapter Text


“You know Betts, any time you feel like wearing a leather, mine is always readily available.”

She blushed, pulling her helmet off, setting it on the seat. “I already have a jacket, Juggie.”

He grinned, catching her around the waist. “I only ever wanna see you in mine Princess.”

Betty matched his smile, fingers lacing together behind. “Possessive?”

His grip tightened.

“Completely.”

Butterflies stirred in her stomach.

“If I didn’t say it before, you look beautiful baby,” Jughead brought her hand up, brushing his lips across her knuckles. “Fuck, I’m the luckiest bastard alive.”

Her cheeks reddened. “Juggie...”

“Baby, you’re fucking gorgeous,” he shook his head in disbelief. “my own real life angel. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of looking at you.”

Betty giggled as he grasped both of her hands now, pulling her close. “It’s just a skirt.”

“It’s not the skirt,” Jughead mumbled, amused. “I mean, it’s not not the skirt, it’s just...”

She tugged at the neck of the cherry printed flutter-sleeve top from J.Crew, Cheryl had taken great pleasure in name dropping several different articles of clothing, she had borrowed from her cousin, tucked into a little black skirt that belonged to Veronica, the fishnets and Toni’s combat boots making another appearance, suddenly feeling self-conscious.

What, exactly was he trying to say?

His silence unnerved her, and the only thing she wanted to do was dig her nails into her palms to make the doubt disappear, but as she tried to pull her arms back, his grip tightened, keeping her captive.

“The pastel colors looked good on you too...” He frowned. “You surprise me Betts, that’s all. One minute you’re the girl next door, and then the next, you almost look like... one of us.”

“Jug-”

“It’s been three weeks baby,” he said, lips close to her ear. “and here you are, an entirely different person.”

Betty squirmed against him. “I’m still me, Jug.”

“No,” Jughead grinned down at her. “you’re more amazing than I could have ever hoped for, sweetness.”

Betty raised a single, perfectly plucked brow, thanks to Veronica, again trying to conclude where, exactly he was going with his point.

“Fuck,” Jughead nuzzled her nose. “You should know... I really suck when it comes to words, and sentences coming out right.”

“You can tell me anything, Jug.”

He grinned down her, his eyes daring. “You sure about that,  baby?”

“Yes.”

“Betts,” Jughead laughed. “what I’m trying to say is, whoever you wanna be, you’re gonna find her eventually, but... to me, you’re always going to be beautiful, kind, courageous...”

“I’m the furthest thing from brave, Juggie.”

“Is that really what you think?”

Betty merely nodded.

“I long for the day I get to meet the bitch who raised you.”

She bit down on her lip, wanting Alice to be the last thing they talked about. “Jughead-”

“Betts,” he sighed. “I get it, okay? I get that you’re not ready to open up to me yet. I mean, fuck, you just had the fuckin’ rug yanked out from under you, a whole new family, a whole new life, but... I see it, angel. I see the damage that picture perfect bitch did to you, even if you don’t, and I fucking hate it. I hate her, I hate them.”

A pit settled in her stomach.

He saw it?

He could see her struggling when she had tried so hard to hide it? Could he really see through the forced smile and laughter? Of course he knew the difference; around him, it was genuine, Jughead the only person who made her feel safe, normal even, despite everything she had been through so far.

“I don’t,” She confessed, without thinking.

“What?”

“I don’t,” Betty repeated, voice trembling. “hate them, I mean, my father or my mother.”

Jughead frowned at the word. “Penny’s your mother.”

“She is,” she agreed. “but Jug, three weeks ago, I thought Alice was my mother, and that’s... it’s not something I can just turn off, the way I feel about her or my dad.”

The second the words left her mouth, she knew there was more than just a sliver of truth to them. Her personal feelings for the woman aside, Alice had raised her for nearly thirteen years. She couldn’t just erase that.

“Did you think she had given birth to you?”

The question startled her. He hadn’t asked her anything personal since they’d met, the deepest conversations they had shared to date being the night of their first kiss, when she had discovered the dark secret he shared with her mother, and she couldn’t help but wonder why he had chosen to question her now, as they stood outside of the Whyte Wyrm, surrounded by drunken patrons both entering and exiting the establishment, though strangely, she didn’t mind, almost finding herself eager to let him in, even little by little.

“No,” she answered, meeting his gaze. “I thought she adopted me.”

Jughead only nodded, clenching his jaw.

“So,” Betty gestured to the bar, eager for a change of subject. “part one, right?”

Sniggering, he caught her hand in a vice grip. “Part one, baby, don’t leave my sight, got it?”

It was her turn to nod.

“Betts,” Jughead warned, eyes playful, voice cautious. “promise me.”

“I promise, Jughead.”

“I wanna hear you say it. You won’t leave my sight.”

“You’re so protective,” Betty chided playfully, patting his cheek.

“Betts.”

“Jug, I won’t leave your sight.”

He looked visibly relieved, much to her surprise, though his grip didn’t falter as he pulled her towards the entrance.

“Jug?”

“Yeah?”

“Why?”

“Because I told you, your mom and myself that I was going to keep you safe, and I meant it,” he divulged reluctantly. “Betty, I mean it, if I lose track of you for even a second tonight, I’m coming after you.”

Betty bit down her lip. “I thought you said I was safe with the Serpents.”

“You are,” Jughead promised, actively avoiding her gaze. “Some are just more trustworthy than others, and you’re safer with me over anybody else. Besides Penny, of course.”

She knew there was something he had yet to tell her, and the only thing she could do was guess.

“Is Tall Boy here?”

His jaw tightened. “It wouldn’t be out of character for him to make an appearance.”

“Okay, Jug,” Betty squeezed his hand. “I won’t leave your side.”

Chapter Text


“Well, if it isn’t the happy couple,” Toni teased as they approached the bar hand-in-hand. “I was wondering when you two love birds were. What can I get you?”

Jughead glanced at her. “Strawberry lemonade, and a coke for me.”

Betty looked surprised. “How did you-”

“I know my girl,” he replied with a smirk. “and it was what you ordered when we went to Pop’s.”

Giggling, Betty pecked him on the cheek. “Figures. I don’t even remember what I got... that entire night was a blur.”

Not just the paparazzi stalking her every move, or discovering that her mother had been dealing drugs, and that her boyfriend had joined in to protect her, but her first kiss with Jughead was what she remembered best, and she wanted to keep it that way.

“Next time I’m gonna make you try one of Pop’s famous milkshakes,” Jughead told her. “and I’ll make damn sure there are no fuckin’ cameras there either.”

She slid her arms around his neck. “My hero. Are the milkshakes good?”

“Best in Riverdale,”

“Hmm... I’ll be the judge of that, Jughead Jones,”

Sniggering, he pulled her close. “Oh I have no doubt about that, angel.”

“Is that part two of our date, then? Going to Pop’s for a milkshake?”

Jughead touched her cheek. “That’s a date baby, but not tonight, I’m afraid. I had to take the stalkerazi into account.”

Her face fell. “We’re still laying low.”

“Hey,” he lifted her chin with a single finger. “it’s not forever Betts, and anyway, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed when you see where I’m talking you.”

“And where are you taking me exactly, boyfriend?” She pressed.

“Nice try girlfriend,” he kissed the top of her head. “but no. You’re just gonna have to wait and see.”

Toni shrugged. “I could just tell her.”

“Yes!” Betty cried, spinning around to face her. “Toni, please tell me! Be my best friend, and tell me!”

Their expressions changed in a simultaneous instant; Toni looked happy while Jughead’s eyes darkened at something over her shoulder. She tried to twist again, to see what he saw, but he grabbed her upper arms, holding her hostage.

“Let’s dance Betts,” he said, pulling her towards the crowded floor.

“But... our drinks...”

“We’ll get them later,” Jughead cradled the back of her neck, keeping her gaze locked to his. “I love this song.”

“You hate this song,” Betty told him.

“I wanna dance with you,”

“You hate dancing.”

“Betty-”

She frowned. “You saw him, didn’t you.”

“Betts-”

“Jug, I get that you want to protect me or whatever, but if we’re gonna do this, I need you to be honest with me.”

Jughead sighed. “Betty-”

“Please,”

“Yes,” he answered. “I saw him, sweetness, and he was looking right at you. He’ll be lucky if he doesn’t leave here tonight with a broken jaw.”

“Jug,” her tone brokered no room for argument. “you can’t hurt him.”

Jughead laughed. “Wow, way to have confidence in your boyfriend, Betty.”

“What I meant was,” Betty shot him a hard look. “you won’t hurt him.”

“No offense baby, but I can do whatever the fuck I want, and if your safety is ever in question, I’m not gonna ask for permission to keep someone from trying to hurt you.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck, letting him spin her in the opposite direction. “And what if you got hurt, Jug?”

His jaw tightened. “I won’t.”

“Jughead-”

“Are you worried about me?” Jughead asked, brows raising in surprise. She nodded and he sighed. “I can take care of myself, Elizabeth.”

“You’re my boyfriend, Jughead,”

“And damned lucky to be,”

“Of course I’m gonna worry about you,” Betty said. “I’ve lost a lot of things lately Jug, I couldn’t stand it if I lost you too, so I need you to stay safe. Don’t go after him, at least not unprovoked... please Juggie.”

“Betts,” his voice softened, arms tightening around her. “baby shh. Hey, nothing’s ever gonna happen to me, okay?”

She wanted to believe him.

“Betty,” Jughead pushed her back enough to meet her eyes. “Look at me angel. I’m a man of my word, and I’m giving it to you now. I’m not going anywhere. Ever.”

“Jug...”

“I’m not going anywhere,” he repeated, more firmly this time. “not now that I have so many reasons to stay put.”


“Thank god,” Toni slid two glasses over as they again approached the bar. “If I had to endure the two of you sucking face for one more second...”

Betty laughed, accepting the drink. “You don’t have to feel like a third wheel Toni, it’s just me and Jughead. We won’t make out in front of you.”

“Says who?” He demanded, playfully kissing her shoulder.

“Thanks Little Bit,” Toni muttered, ignoring her brother. “but it’s too late for that.”

“What do you mean it’s too late?” Jughead asked, brows raising. “We weren’t-”

“You’re not the only ones trying to get lucky,” she told him.

His eyes darkened. “Where the fuck are they?”

Toni cocked her head in the direction of several old Pac-Man games.

“And you didn’t stop them because?”

“I’m working,” She tossed back. “and unlike you Jug, I don’t think Sweet Pea has ulterior motives for wanting to date our sister. They’re been together for almost a year, and she’s still a-”

Jughead threw a hand up to cut her off. “As good as it is to know that T, I really don’t want to know. Sugar, stay here, I need to have a little... chat with my baby sister and her boyfriend.”

“Jug-” Betty protested, trying to hold back her laughter.

“I’ll be right back angel. Don’t leave the bar,” he promised distractedly, already pushing through the crowd. “Sweet Pea, you’re dead!”

“Aww, c’mon Jones!” Sweet Pea whined in response, barely audible over the blaring music. “I just saw you mackin’ on your girl!”

“Mackin’?” Betty glanced at Toni. “Is that even a word?”

“It is if you’re Sweet Pea,” she replied.

A thought came to her.

“Toni, what’s Sweet Pea’s real name?”

Toni gave her a blank look. “Fuck if I know.”

“How long have you been friends?”

“Since we were five.”

“And you still don’t-”

“Everyone has secrets, Betty,” Toni said. “Sweet Pea’s just happens to be his name. I don’t think even Jellybean knows what it is.”

Betty took another swig of her lemonade.

“I’m going to find out,” she declared.

Her pink haired friend smiled. “While you’re at it, find out what Fangs’s is too. If he knew that we had that kind of power, he would never bother us again.”

They high fived.

“Betty,” Jellybean cried, grabbing her arm. “There you are! You gotta help me!”

“What’s going on?” She asked, already jumping to her feet.

“Your boyfriend has officially lost it!”

“...JB, he’s your brother.”

“You’re his girlfriend,” Jellybean insisted, tugging her further into the crowd. “he’s your responsibility now. Please don’t let him kill my boyfriend.”

“Okay, okay,” Betty agreed reluctantly. “where is he?”

She didn’t answer, merely leading the way through the swarming bodies packed onto the dance floor. Sweaty, gyrating bar goers pulsed around her, bumping into her, and before she knew it, she and Jellybean had been pulled apart, Betty falling to the cold, hard, sticky concrete ground as she was knocked into again.

“Ow.” She muttered, grasping her hurt elbow. Cheryl’s leather jacket had done little to protect her from the fall.

She could feel the blood beginning to bubble.

“Here,” a gruff voice said, a hand thrusting out to help her.

“Thank you,” Betty replied, feeling wounded, accepting it without hesitation.

He pulled her up without much effort. A timid smile graced her lips as she braved a glance at her rescuer.

His cold eyes made her take a step back, and then another, before he caught her wrist, yanking her back.

“Going somewhere, Blondie?”

“I...”

“Elizabeth Peabody,” Tall Boy drawled, sizing her up. “I was wondering when we'd finally meet."

Chapter Text


“Get off of me,” she hissed.

He laughed, tightening his grip on her arm. “You’ve got fire kid, I’ll give you that. Where’s your mommy, hmm?”

“Get off!” Betty cried, hoping and failing to attract attention to herself. The Wyrm was too crowded, too full of gang members, arguing and drinking.

“You didn’t answer my question,” Tall Boy sneered, forcing her closer. “Where the fuck is Penny?”

There was a healing scab on his neck, and she shivered when she came to the conclusion that the mark was the same size as the blade of the knife Penny had pulled on him the night Betty discovered her secret.

“Fuck if I know,” Betty spat at him. She knew enough not to betray her mother's location. “I haven’t seen her. I’ve been with Jug.”

“Look who found some backbone,” he taunted, dragging her further into the bar, away from prying ears. “I was wondering if you were gonna rely on your mommy and Jones to fight all your battles, Princess.”

“What do you want?” Betty demanded, raising her voice in hopes that someone, anyone would hear her.

“I told you,” Tall Boy hissed. “I wanna talk to your mommy.”

“I don’t know where she is!”

“Then you can be my delivery girl, doll face. You know our little secret now, gotta start you off someplace, right?”

The only thing she wanted to do was protect Jughead and her mother, the same way they had been protecting her, but both Penny and her boyfriend had made it clear that she was not to get involved. Joining Tall Boy’s little... operation, might have done more harm than good, putting the people she cared about on further danger.

“I’m not helping you!”

“That’s what you think,” Tall Boy barked out a laugh, the sound chilling her to the bone. “Now you make sure you tell your mommy-”

“If you have a message for Penny, give it to her yourself,” Jughead’s dark eyes narrowed into dangerous slits. Betty involuntarily gasped, not used to this side of him, truly a Serpent through and through, bringing his hardened gaze to her for only a moment at the sound of her sudden intake of breath. “don’t use my girlfriend to do your dirty work, scumbag.”

“Girlfriend?” Tall Boy’s brows raised in amusement. “Well there’s a new development. She’s Penny’s kid, ain’t she? Who better to get my... point across than her sweet little daughter?”

“Me,” Jughead offered, without hesitation, tone strained. “I’ll tell her whatever the fuck you want, asshole, just leave Betty out of it.”

“I finally found your soft underbelly Jones,” he taunted, glancing at her again. “She’s Penny’s too. Maybe Blondie will be more useful than I thought.”

He started forward, lips forming an impossibility thin line. “If you so much as lay a finger on her again...”

“Temper, temper Sunshine.”

“Let. Her. Go.”

The hand grasping her arm, fingers indenting into her pale skin, was flung away, finally freeing her, only to be replaced by that of her boyfriend’s as he pulled her back into the safety of his embrace.

“You tell Penny that I’m not playing games-”

“Problem here, Jug?” A deep voice boomed.

Timidly, Betty turned to face the Serpent King himself, FP Jones. Jughead’s grip tightened.

“Betty,” FP’s eyes swept over her stunned face. “you all right?”

“Fine,” Betty promised shakily. “I just...”

“The drunk idiot knocked her over,” Jughead piped in, amazing her at just how effortlessly he could lie. “I think it’s last call for Tall Boy, dad.”

“I think you’re right, Jug,” the older man jerked his thumb towards the exit. “time to go, Tall Boy, you’ve had enough.”

Tall Boy sneered at him, pretending to look respectful.

“Whatever you say, FP, whatever you say!” He called, pausing to clap the Serpent leader on the back, training his gaze on Jughead, grinning smugly. “You’ve got a good one, Jones, you know that? Your boy is just so... Loyal. We’ll talk later, sunshine, don’t you worry.”


“Juggie-”

“Don’t wait up dad,” Jughead mumbled, offering his father a curt nod as his hand found her own, pulling her after him.

“Jug,” Betty said again, only breaking free when they were outside, well away from prying ears.

“Are you okay?” He demanded anxiously, eyes raking over her face, searching for any signs of fear or discomfort.

She blinked, trying to process what, exactly, had just transpired.

“C’mon Betts, answer me.”

“I’m fine,” Betty told him, hands shaking. “I just... promise me something, Juggie.”

“Anything, angel.”

“Next time you wanna kill Sweet Pea... take me with you.”

He managed to laugh as his arms wrapped around her, cradling her to his chest.

“Definitely,”


The anger didn’t appear until they were on part two of the elaborate first date Jughead had planned.

“What the fuck, Betty?” He snapped, as she placed her helmet back onto the seat. “I told you to wait at the bar!”

“Jellybean thought you were going to hurt Sweet Pea,” Betty rambled, taking a step back from him. “and I...”

Jughead grabbed her wrist, dragging her back. “He put his fucking hands on you!”

“I’m okay, Jug,”

“Penny’s gonna kill him,” he muttered, ignoring her. “unless I get to the bastard first.”

“You can’t tell her.”

“Excuse me?”

“We can’t tell her,” Betty insisted, trying to remember that she was not alone anymore, that they were a team, for better or worse.

“Of course we’re telling her, Elizabeth,” he snarled. “If you don’t, I will.”

“You can’t.”

“Excuse me?”

“Jug, would you please stop saying-”

“She’s your mom Betts,” Jughead reminded her gravely. “she has more than a right to know.”

“It’s just going to make things worse.”

“Wait a fucking second,” he grabbed her by the shoulders, holding her at arm’s length, silently challenging her to a staring contest with his cold, calculated expression. “You... I know you’re not thinking that any of this is because of you, baby.”

The bottom lip trapped between her two front teeth gave him every answer he needed.

“Betty,” he scolded, letting go to rake a hand through his beanieless hair.

“Jug, I walked in on the middle of that conversation-”

“Baby, you were trying to ask Penny if you could come to Pop’s with us,” Jughead argued, pulling her to him again. “it was just shitty timing. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“You can’t tell her Jug,” Betty repeated, firmly this time. “You’re protecting me, right?”

“You know I am.”

“Then don’t tell her,”

“We’re not making a deal here, Betty,” disapproval dripped from his tone. “I guess I’m telling her, since you’re refusing.”

“It’s just going to make things worse,” she cradled his face, brushing his cheek with her thumb the way he so often did with her. “Jug, if you’re protecting Penny, then don’t tell her, don’t let Tall Boy use me against her more than he already has.”

“Betty,” Jughead sounded strained. “you don’t get it. He’s been using you against Penny, and with the way I just acted... Now, he’ll use you against me too.”

“Then let’s find a way to stop him,”

Jughead raked another hard through his dark tresses.

“What are you,” he demanded. “Nancy Drew?”

“Juggie-”

“Betty, I told you, you’re staying out of this.”

“Juggie,” she said again, holding his arms. “let me help you.”

Cradling her neck, he suddenly swooped down, pressing his lips to hers, swallowing her surprised gasp.

“You are helping me, baby,” he breathed, pinning his forehead to hers. “You... Betts, when I’m with you, I forget about all the bad stuff. You’re... the best thing that ever happened to me, Betty, but...”

A pit settled in her stomach. Whatever he was about to say, it couldn’t be good.

But.

Noting good ever came after the word but.

“Jug, don’t-”

“You would have been safe if you never came back here,” he muttered, dragging himself away from her. “If you had never met me... Maybe if we weren’t-”

Betty’s eyes filled with unshed tears. “Juggie, please...”

“It would be the smart thing to do,” Jughead said, refusing to look at her. “I could keep you safe, I promised that I would.”

“Don’t be smart then!” She snapped.

“Betty-”

“Don’t be smart,” Betty hissed, a hint of finality to her tone. “be stupid, be selfish, be something, Jughead Jones, just don’t break up with me, on our first date, Jug, please.”

She let the first tear fall.

“Betts.” Jughead reached for her, eyes widening in concern. She stepped away from him “Baby c’mon, let me hold you...”

“Did you know that you are the only person who makes me feel safe right now?” Betty asked, teeth clenched. “The only time I believe that I can survive any of this...”

She gestured to their current whereabouts, meaning to signify Riverdale, the Southside, her life with Penny and the Serpents.

“Is when you’re with me.”

Betty let him grab her this time, a single arm locking around her waist, his fingers knotted in her hair, almost tugging as his mouth worked feverishly against her own.

“Please,” Betty whimpered, when they broke apart for air. “don’t leave me, Jug, I really need you.”

“I won’t,” he promised, swiping at her cheek to brush the tears away. “I can’t... I... Fuck, Betts, I need you too, more than I can even fucking say.”

They kissed again, gentle, sweet, with Jughead impulsively picking her up, swinging her around, smiling against her lips as she laughed.

“Jug?” She panted, arms around his neck.

“Hmm?” He replied distractedly, tugging her jacket down to kiss her exposed shoulder.

“Where are we?”

“Part two baby,” Jughead answered, tucking a loose curl behind her ear. “Betts... I’m sorry.”

“I know,” her fingers locked around his wrist, stilling his hand, willing him to keep it there. “I know you are, you were just trying to protect me, it’s okay, Juggie, it’s okay.”

“I won’t tell Penny.”

“Wait, what?”

“I won’t tell Penny,” he offered. “but I want you to promise me that you’ll stay out of it. All of it. Promise me, angel, and tonight will be our secret.”

“I promise.” Betty vowed, without hesitation. “Now seriously, Jug, where are we?”

Chapter Text


“Welcome to Fox Forrest,”

She remembered talks about a camping trip, Archie, Kevin, Toni, herself and Jughead, but her father had refused.

Girls shouldn’t go camping Fred.

It’s not lady like.

Elizabeth already has an uncertain future with the way her mother has been raising her. I don’t want her camping in the woods with a bunch of hooligans.

Those are our boys you’re talkin’ about, asshole.

"Jug?"

"Yeah?"

"Can we go camping?"

"Uh.." Jughead seemed to realize what, exactly, she was talking about. "Not tonight baby, but when it gets a little warmer, sure, whatever you want."

"Our friends too?"

"Good luck tryin' to leave without 'em. They're fucking ruthless when they wanna be."

They shared a smile.

“Arch and I used to come here,” he explained, pointing further up the path. “See that old tree up there? When we were ten, he fell while climbing it and broke his arm. I had to carry him back to Riverdale, and our bikes got stolen. Never quite forgave him for that one.”

“Did you ever figure out what was going on with him?”

“No,” Jughead sighed, dropping down onto an old log, patting his jean covered thigh so she would sit too. “I didn’t. I haven’t, but I’m going to.”

“What do you think is going on?”

“Fuck if I know Betts,” he sighed again, arms wrapping around her waist. “He hasn’t been himself since Fred died, not that I blame him, but I am worried. I think he’s getting himself into something he won’t be able to get out of.”

Betty let more of her weight fall into him. “What are you gonna do?”

“What I always do,” Jughead replied, shrugging. “bail him out of it. Archie’s like my brother, I’d do anything for him.”

“You’re a good friend Jug,” she whispered. “and an even better boyfriend.”

“Oh am I?”

“Indubitably,”

“You and your words,” he teased, nuzzling her nose. “Betts?”

“Hmm?”

“Will you tell me about your mom?”

“Alice,” Betty corrected, grateful when he didn’t point out how indecisive she was. “Why do you want to know about her Jug? You said you hated her.”

“I do,” he admitted, lips twitching. “but I wanna know everything about you Betts, and, well, this qualifies.”

She bit down on her lip. “You don’t want to know everything about me Jug.”

“Yes I do,” he argued, grip tightening, refusing to let her squirm away from him. “Will you tell me something? Anything?”

“She was a great cook,” Betty answered, thinking of how strange it was to talk about Alice in a past tense when the woman was still alive, perhaps not well, but still alive, breathing somewhere in the world. She wondered if she was still in New York. “When we were little, she would make us pancakes every Sunday in the shape of our initials.”

“We?” Jughead questioned, lips moving to that ever so sensitive spot on her neck.

“M-My brother and sister,” she muttered, settling more comfortably against him. There was something about being with Jughead that left her feeling both relaxed and rushed, a strange, exciting, enticing combination.

Chic. Polly. Her eyes welled with tears.

“Betts? You okay?”

“I miss them so much,” Betty whispered.

Without a word, Jughead turned her, arms wrapping around her again. Burying her face into the crook of his neck, a sob escaped from the back of her throat.

“It’s okay, baby, don’t hold onto it, let it out.”

“I’m supposed to hate them,” She hiccupped. “Alice, my dad, and maybe I do hate them, I don’t know yet, but Chic and Polly... I’m so scared that I’ll never see them again, or that maybe, they won’t see me as their sister anymore...”

“Betts,” Jughead cradled her face, lifting her gaze back to his. “you don’t have to hate anyone, especially your siblings. They’re as innocent in this as you are, and as for not seeing you as their sister anymore... That’ll never happen.”

She sniffled. “How do you know?”

“I knew you when we were kids and I wanted you back,” he said. “I would have given anything to get you back. I know you know, I don’t want to imagine my life without you. Who wouldn’t want to know you, Betty?”

Laughing sadly, she turned her head, kissing him softly. It didn’t matter the situation, he always knew what to say.

“When this all blows over, you should talk to Penny,” Jughead told her. “she wouldn’t blame your brother and sister either.”

“Do you think it will? Blow over, I mean.”

His grip tightened.

“I don’t know,” he confessed, after a moment. “I hope so.”

Maybe he didn’t always know what to say, but at least he was honest, and expectant, something she couldn’t bring herself to be right then and there.

“Hey Betts?”

“Yeah Jug?”

“I don’t wanna sound cheesy but,” he trailed off, grinning. “just so you know... you’re not in this alone, okay? I’m not going anywhere.”

Betty blushed. “Even if I tried to push you away?”

“You couldn’t push me away if you tried, sweets.”

“Nice word play there, Juggie.”

“I work with what I’m given, baby.”

A comfortable silence fell between them. Wrapping her arms around him, she rested her head against his chest as his fingers absentmindedly twisted in her curls.

“So, pancakes huh?”

Betty snorted. “You and your obsession with food, Jughead Jones.”

“You haven’t seen anything yet, angel.” Jughead teased, kissing her hair. “Were they any good?”

“They were really good,” She admitted, her own mouth watering at the thought of just how good Alice’s cooking had been when Penny seemingly burned water. “the initial thing was always kind of annoying though.”

“What do you mean?”

“She called me Elizabeth,” Betty replied, frowning. “so mine was in the shape of an E instead of a B. She hated that I wanted to go by Betty, said it wasn’t proper.”

“But the name Betty suits you.” Jughead offered, nuzzling her neck.

“Penny was the one who started calling me Betty.” She said. “My dad wanted to...”

Her eyes widened.

“Your dad wanted to... what?” He echoed, though she barely heard him. “Betty?”

Betty pulled away from him abruptly, ignoring the shocked look on his face.

“Betty,” Jughead said again, slowly rising, cautiously reaching for her. “hey, Betty, angel, can you hear me?”

Lizzie, she thought. He wanted to call me Lizzie.


“D-Daddy?” She whispered, staring up at him through a desperate wall of tears.

“I thought you were gonna knock her out, Hal!”

“I had to grab her and run,” her father hissed, pinning her down to the hard floor of the car. It was a van, one she’d never seen before. “the bitch was about to come back. Can you believe it Al? She left my daughter, my three year old daughter outside alone. Penny can kiss her parent of the year award goodbye.”

Betty struggled in his grasp. “She was coming right back! She promised!”

His cold eyes cut to her. “Be quiet Lizzie.”

“Daddy,” she whined, finally breaking free. “Betty.”

“Lizzie-”

“Betty!” She insisted, stomping her foot. “Betty. Not Lizzie, Betty!”

Losing patience, he scooped her up, holding her to his shoulder. He looked like a father comforting his child after a tantrum, and he was, her father at least, even though she hadn’t seen him in months.

“Stop crying,” her father snapped. “Your name isn’t Betty anymore, it’s Lizzie, you got me?”

“No!” Betty cried. “It’s not!”

Her cheek burned, and then everything went dark.


“Fuck, Betty-”

A strangled sob escaped her throat, her legs giving out from under her. She didn’t see Jughead diving to catch her, but felt his arms, saving her from the fall.

“Baby,” he leaned over her, looking more than concerned. “Betty come on, focus, focus. Come back to me.”

“J...Jug...”

“Yeah,” Jughead said, fingers tangling in her hair. “What the hell just happened?”

“I... I don’t know,” Betty croaked. “I saw my dad.”

His jaw tightened. Gently lying her down, he stood, angling his body in a way that he could see in every direction.

“He’s not here, Juggie,” Betty sighed, struggling to sit up.

“Then why would you...” Jughead trailed off, understanding. Hooking one arm under her knees, the other sliding across her back, he picked her up, settling her back on his lap. “Betty, where did you go just now? What do you remember?”

She tried to swallow the lump in her throat. “I think... Alice might have been there.”

“The day he took you?”

Betty nodded.

“Fuck,” he mumbled. “That’s fucked up.”

“We can’t tell Alice,”  she said. “at least not yet,”

“Hey,” Jughead tilted her chin up with a single finger. “whatever you want baby, whenever you’re ready.”

“Thanks Jug,” Betty brushed a kiss to his chin, laughing sadly. “Some first date, huh?”

He snorted. “I know you’re being sarcastic, but this is the best date I’ve ever been on... actually, this is the only date I’ve ever been on, ergo, the best.”

She looked up at him, surprised. “You’ve never been on a date?”

“I mean,” he avoided her gaze. “I’ve dated, I guess, but that was mostly to fool around and I... I’m gonna shut up now.”

She wasn’t jealous. Really, she wasn’t. He had a life before her, just as she’d had a life before him, not that hers was anywhere near as exciting. It was a miracle, one she still didn’t quite understand, that they had been brought back together, and while it still hurt her heart to know that his life would have gone on even if she hadn’t returned, it was just the way things were.

“It’s okay Jug,” Betty told him. “I’m not gonna judge you. Ever.”

“Elizabeth Peabody,” Jughead declared, peppering kisses to her still exposed shoulder. “you are truly unlike any woman I have ever met.”

“God,” Betty muttered. “that sounds like someone else entirely.”

“It doesn’t have to,” Jughead offered. “No one’s trying to rush you Betts, you know that, right?”

“It’s who I want to be,” she confessed, surprising herself. Betty Cooper didn’t feel right anymore, but neither did Betty Peabody, at least not yet. “But...”

“You’re not ready,”

“Well, yeah,”

“Baby, that’s fine.” Jughead told her, arms sliding around her waist. “you’re fine. You’ve been home for less than a month. No one is expecting you to change your name, or to call Penny mom. You have to do that on your own time.”

She stared at him for a moment.

“What?” He demanded self-consciously. “Do I have something on my face?”

“No,” Betty laughed. “it’s just...”

“What sweets? You gotta tell me.”

“Why are you the only one who gets it?” She asked, head falling back against his chest.

Jughead sighed, drawing her in closer. “I don’t know if I get anything Betts, I just know what it feels like to have something you care about ripped away from you.”

She peered up at him expectantly, not wanting to pry, but still curious.

“My mom ran off a couple years ago,” he said, avoiding her gaze. “left no forwarding address. The only thing I wanted was for her to come back, took me a long time to realize that she didn’t really give a shit about me, Jellybean or Toni.”

“Juggie...”

Jughead shied away from her touch. “Betts, it’s fine, it was a long time ago. I’m over it. Honestly.”

Betty didn’t relent, palms on either side of his face, forcing his gaze to hers.

“Who could ever leave you?” She whispered.

His arm snaked around her waist, his jacket falling from her shoulders, landing on the ground with a soft thud as he kissed her, hard and fast, like she was the one who’d said the right thing.

“God baby,” he rasped, momentarily breaking away to catch his breath. “how did I get so lucky?”

Before she could respond, he kissed her again, bowing her back until she was laying down, his jacket protecting her from the dirt and dead grass. Holding his body over her own, his eyes darkened with desire, pupils dilating. Dipping his head, he pressed his lips to hers, a new urgency to their latest kiss, and Betty was more than happy to comply.

Her breath quickened, and she felt overheated, butterflies filling her stomach.

She wanted him, god, she wanted him.

Her hands got greedy, slipping from his shoulders, feeling the hard planes of his chest through his thin cotton t-shirt. It was only when she reached for his belt, ready to undo it, did he stall, gathering her wrists, holding them hostage above her head.

“Angel, we can’t.”

Betty bit down on her lip. “You don’t want to?”

“Fuck,” Jughead mumbled, kissing her again. “no baby, that’s not it. I want to, of course I want to, it’s just...”

“It’s a big deal.”

“Well... yeah,”

She blushed, feeling both flattered and slightly disappointed that he wasn’t ready to take their relationship to the next level.

“Juggie?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you a virgin?” Betty blurted out.

He started to laugh at her abrasiveness, though avoided her gaze, giving her the answer she had secretly been dreading.

“Who?” She asked, meaning for it to come out as more of a question than a demanded, failing miserably.

“You’re upset.” He noted, frowning. “Baby, I don’t wanna hurt your feelings. It was a one-time thing, and honestly, I didn’t enjoy myself that much.”

She brightened. “Really?”

“Yes baby.” Jughead confirmed, still laughing. “Oh, and Betts?”

“Yeah Juggie?”

“When we do have sex,” he muttered, lips close to her ear. “I know I’ll love every second of it.”

His laughter only grew at the sight of her burning face.

“Will it be soon, Jug?”

“As soon as we’re both ready,” he answered, smirking. “Can you be a good girl and wait for me, baby?”

“If you think you can resist me,” Betty returned cheekily.

Jughead’s brows raised in challenge. “You think that’s funny Betts? Just you wait, angel, one of these days, I’m going to get you so worked up, you’ll be begging for it.”

“Oh Juggie, my dear, sweet Juggie, I believe you’ll be the one who’s begging.”

Holding both wrists with a single hand, his fingers began moving leisurely up and down her sides.

“Juggie,” Betty squeaked, in a fit of breathless giggles. “Juggie, stop, please!”

“Take it back,” he commanded.

“N-No way!”

“Then suffer the consequences.”

“Okay!” She cried, as his grip tightened. “Okay, okay! I take it back! I’m sorry, Jug, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it! You win!”

Still keeping her arms pinned, he stilled his other hand, bringing it up to cup her cheek.

“Good girl.” He rasped, and she swore her heart skipped a beat. 


Penny was asleep on the couch when Jughead finally let her go inside, after a thousand just one more kiss requests from the both of them.

“H-Hey baby,” she mumbled tiredly, flipping on the light. “did you have fun?”

Betty nodded blissfully, her lips left feeling bruised after that last kiss goodnight. They might have only been dating for two weeks, but she wasn’t sure she could wait much longer.

“Oh god, I’ll kill him,”

Her heart began to pound. “Penny, we didn’t...”

“Then why,” her mother demanded, rising from the couch, studying her intently. “do you look so... dazed?”

This was the most awkward conversation she’d ever had.

“Elizabeth Regan Peabody,” Penny hissed. “did you, or did you not sleep with your boyfriend tonight?”

Betty burst out laughing, uncontrollably hiccupping for air.

“This is not a laughing matter, young lady,”

Her tone was so motherly, strictly concerned, that she sobered immediately.

“We didn’t,” Betty promised, meeting her gaze. “Well, we almost did, but... We didn’t. Jughead wants to wait.”

Penny sighed, silently debating.

“You’re going on the pill.”

“What?”

“I need you to be safe baby,” her mother said. “I’m not saying that I want you to have sex, but if you do... At least you’ll be safe.”

Betty remained silent, unsure of how to respond.

“I’ll make you an appointment with a doctor, okay?”

“Okay...”

“I’m hitting the sack,”

Penny started towards her bedroom, but then stopped, crossing the room to press a surprising kiss her on top of her head.

“Listen kid,” she sighed. “make smart choices, alright? You might have been the best thing that ever happened to me, but I am not ready to be a grandma yet. You’ve got the rest of your life ahead of you.”

A pit settled in her stomach. She was the best thing that had ever happened to her mother, but Penny had been robbed of thirteen years of her life. It wasn’t fair.

 “Penny?”

“Yeah kiddo?”

“Sorry if I was late,” Betty offered, even though Penny had never given her a specific time to be home by.

“It’s not even two o’clock Elizabeth,” Penny shrugged. “Kid, I trust you, now go to bed.”

Chapter Text


She could smell smoke.

Coughing, she threw her covers back, moving for the door in a blind panic, not bothering to grab shoes as she slid into the hallway, calling for her mother. “Penny-”

“For fuck’s sake,” Penny hissed, throwing the burning contraption from the pan into the sink, running cold water over the charred mess of food. She noticed Betty standing there and sighed. “Morning kid.”

“W...What are you doing?”

“Tap dancing,” she deadpanned. “I’m cooking. What does it look like I’m doing? It’s Saturday. I-”

“...Used to make pancakes,” Betty said. “every Saturday morning.”

Penny looked surprised. “You remember that?”

“Yeah,” she glanced down at the pan. “you’re a little out of practice.”

Her mother sighed. “I didn’t cook for twelve years, kid, a lot of my food was takeout, shit you can put in the microwave, grab and go.”

“Why don’t I make breakfast?” Betty offered.

“I’m supposed to be taking care of you, Elizabeth,” disapproval dripped from her tone. “not the other way around.”

“I’m fifteen Penny,” the reminder burned. “it’s okay to let me cook every once and a while.”

Penny sighed again. “Okay fine, but I’m still gonna brush up on my culinary skills.”

“Noted,” Betty laughed. “what sounds good?”

“Whatever you want, kid,”

“Hmm... How about eggs?”

“Sure. How do you like ‘em?”

“Scrambled,” she answered. “you?”

“Scrambled,” Penny’s lips threatened to twitch into a smile. “I taught you how to make those, you know.”

Betty blinked, remembering how she used to stand on one of the rickety old kitchen chairs to reach the stove, Penny always warning her not to get too close, spatula in hand as she waited to flip the eggs to the other side.

She turned to the sink, rinsing the pot under cold water, reaching for the frayed towel hanging over the handle of the stove. She thought Penny would leave her to work in silence, but she could feel her eyes burning holes into her back.

“Favorite flavor of ice cream?”

“Rocky-road,”

Penny nodded. “Sometimes... when I was in between paychecks, it was all we could afford to eat for dinner. You never complained though. Favorite color?”

“Not pink,”

She snorted. “The next time I see that bitch...”

A pit settled in her stomach.

“I shouldn’t have said that,”

Betty bit her lip. “It’s okay-”

“I never bashed your dad in front of you when you were little,” Penny folded her arms, letting the kitchen table support her weight. “I never wanted to be that kind of parent.”

“You never said anything bad about him,”

She shrugged. “A girl should think well of her father.”

“Even if their father is Hal Cooper?” Betty winced. “Blossom, sorry.”

“Call him whatever the fuck you want,” Penny said. “I don’t think you’ll be seeing him any time soon.”

She cracked an egg into the heated pan, and then another.

“Good,”

“Good?” She repeated.

“I don’t forgive him either.”

Slowly, she turned away from the stove to meet her mother’s surprised gaze.

“You don’t,” Penny stated.

“No,” Betty admitted. “It’s not fair. We should have had those years together, and because of my so called father, you and I both missed out in what could have been twelve really great years... I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like, what I could have had here with my friends, and the Serpents, and you...”

“Baby...”

She whipped the back of her hand across her eyes, brushing unshed tears away.

“I should have been here,”

 “Knock knock,” Jughead called, entering the house without giving them the common courtesy of a few simple taps against the wood of their front door. “How’s my... Shit Betts, is something burning?”

“The eggs, damn it!”

Before she could start towards the stove, Jughead darted in front of her, grabbing the pan and chucking the charred mess into the sink, battling the smoke with a stream of cold water.

“Guess we could both use some practice,” Betty shot Penny a sheepish look. “I can start over.”

“That’s okay kid,” Penny replied. “I’m not that hungry anyway.”

“Guess I came at the right time,” Jughead muttered, hooking an arm around her shoulders.

Penny scowled at him. “What the fuck are you doing here anyway Jonesy? It’s not even eight yet.”

“Ever heard of knocking?” Betty added teasingly.

Smirking, he kissed her temple. “It’s never too early to come see my girl. I was gonna ask Penny if you could come out with us today.”

Her mother sighed. “And where would you be taking her, exactly?”

“Eastdale.” He answered, and at Betty’s raised brows, he continued to explain. “It’s about a ninety minute drive from Riverdale. We were gonna grab some takeout from Pop’s for breakfast, meet with Gear and Grits for the parts my dad ordered, get something there for lunch, get back in time to go to the spot.”

“The spot?” Betty asked.

Jughead grinned down at her. “Later sweets.”

Penny frowned at his term of endearment, reminding Betty of their strained conversations the week before, the pill she now had to take once a day when she woke up.

“Do you wanna go?” He questioned. “I don’t think the stalkerazi will bother her there.”

She always wanted to go with him. Being with Jughead was when she felt most alive, but she and Penny had been in the middle of a pretty heavy conversation. How could she just leave now?

 “Will there be cops this time, Jonesy?”

Jughead snorted. “Not if we can help it.”

“Have fun kid,” Penny waved her off. “I’ve got shit to do anyway.”

She reached into the pocket of her leather, producing a wad of bills to hand to Betty.

“Is Toni going?”

“And Cheryl,” Jughead grumbled. “Jellybean too.”

“Eastdale has some good shops.” She said. “Get yourself some new clothes, stuff you like, baby.”

Wordlessly, Betty accepted the cash.

“Hey angel,” Jughead called her attention back to him. “as adorable as you look in your pjs, you might wanna change.”

She flushed, taking in her pajama shorts and oversized t-shirt. “Give me five minutes.”

“Sure,” he agreed, kissing the top of her head. “oh and pretty girl, If you wanna wear leather today, remember you’ll be wearing mine.”

Chapter Text


“Stay down Elizabeth,”

“Yes sir,” she taunted, eyes rolling at his over protective nature. There were no cameras in sight, but that hadn’t stopped him from insisting she slide down to the floor of littered truck. “Sweet Pea really needs to clean this thing out. It stinks.”

“I resent that, Peabody,”

“I wanna hear you say it Betts,” Jughead insisted, halfway through the open window. “Stay down. I mean it. I’m not takin’ any chances.”

“I heard you, sir,” Betty giggled.

“Oh god,” Toni mumbled from the backseat, and her cheeks reddened. She hadn’t meant to be so loud.

Stifling a groan, he reached down to gently pinch her thigh through her Alice Cooper approved jeans, no holes or tears in sight. When Cheryl had found out they were going shopping, a broad smile had broken out across her face. While Toni and Jellybean were less enthused, they had still agreed to come along.

Butterflies filled her stomach, awakening a new giddiness within her. She was going to make his jaw drop, she decided, more than once. He would be the one begging, not her.

“Promise me baby,”

“This is getting a little ridiculous Juggie,”

“I’m not leaving until you say it,” she could hear the smirk in his voice. “c’mon baby, I know you’re hungry.”

As if on cue, her stomach growled.

“Deny it,” Jughead teased.

“Alright fine!” Betty snapped. He could win, this time. “I’ll stay down, Jug, happy now?”

“Good girl,” he praised, as Toni groaned again. “That’s all I wanted to hear.”

He brushed a hand across her cheek.

“I’ll be back, baby,”

He walked off with Sweet Pea and Fangs.

“Little Bit?”

Betty rolled her eyes at the nickname. “Yeah Toni?”

“When you start having sex with our brother,” she said, making Jellybean break out in a nervous, uncontrollable laughter. “we really don’t need to know or hear about how you’re having sex with our brother, okay?”

Her face burned as she tried to come up with a good response. “And I really don’t need to know when you roll around the sheets with my cousin.”

“I assure you Cousin Betty, every time my precious TT and I have our little rendezvous, we are both left feeling extremely satisfied.”

“Oh god,” it was Jellybean’s turn to groan. “that’s my sister Cher, so spare all the gory details, please.”

“My cousin,” Betty agreed. “and my best friend. I really don’t want to know. Or need to know.”

There was a beat of silence. She had just called Toni her best friend, without hesitation, and she had meant it.

“I told you to stay down.” Jughead snapped, gently pushing against her shoulder to prove his point.

“I am down,”

“Not as far down as you should be,”

“...Am I the only one who thinks that sounds dirty?”

“Jellybean.”

“Would you chill, Jug?” Toni demanded. “She’s fine. We were keeping lookout.”

He sighed, throwing the door opening, the ancient truck creaking in protest under his added weight.

“I know.” Jughead muttered, grabbing her under the arms, pulling her up to sit on the seat beside him. “I just can’t stand the thought of those fucking bloodsuckers getting within an inch of her.”

Betty cupped his cheek, bringing his gaze to hers. “And they never will. Not when I have you to protect me.”

Grinning, he kissed her nose. “I’ll always protect you baby.”


“This... looks a lot like Riverdale.”

“So does Greendale,” Toni told her. “and Westdale, and Bridgedale, and-”

“I think she gets it T.” Jughead said, slinging his arm around Betty’s shoulders. “Listen angel, stay close, okay?”

“I thought you said I’d be safe here.”

“Just because you’re not in immediate danger, Cousin, doesn’t mean your boyfriend is going to loosen the reigns.”

Jughead threw the tailgate down, lifting her from the truck, setting her down beside him, arm wrapping around her again. “Call me overprotective, but-”

“I don’t mind,” Betty stated truthfully, because if there was one thing she trusted right now, it was Jughead and his promise to keep her safe. “really.”

As if guessing her thoughts, he kissed the top of her head.

“I’ve got you, angel,”

She entwined her fingers with the hand draped across her.

“I know you do.”

“God you two are gross,” Jellybean teased as Sweet Pea caught her around the waist.

“You’re one to talk,” Jughead threw back, scowling. “Paws off my little sister before I hurt you.” 


“What is this place?”

“What does it look like, Blondie?”

“Don’t be an ass Jug,” Betty warned, shooting him a hard look.

“I told you,” grinning smugly, he dipped his head to kiss her shoulder. “you’ll get used to it.”

She resisted the urge to moan in front of their friends.

“Patience,” he taunted, lips close to her ear. “remember cutie, good things come to those who wait.”

“I have tons of patience, Jughead Jones,” Betty replied nervously. “the question is, do you?”

His hand moved tauntingly down over her ass, just barely brushing across the skin tight jeans she wore.

“You wanna play with me, pretty girl?” Jughead whispered. “Bad idea.”

“And why is that, sir?”

His hand slipped into her back pocket, squeezing.

“Because Betts, I always win,”

“Maybe that was before I came along,” she stated boldly.

Grinning again, he pulled her to his side. “I don’t wanna remember life before you Betts. Those twelve years fucking sucked.”

“God you guys are disgusting,” Toni mumbled.

“Original question,” Betty said, cheeks burning. “what is this place?”

“A garage my cousin and uncle own,” Jughead answered, knocking against the door with his fist. “they fix cars, order parts, amongst other things.”

“Amongst other...” She trailed off, throwing him a hard look. “Jug.”

“Angel,” he lifted her gaze back to his with a single finger. “trust me, please?”

Betty only nodded.

Wrapping a single arm around her waist, he smiled, looking smug. “Good girl.”

Her thighs clenched together at the praise, and it didn’t go unnoticed by him.

“Just because I’m not gonna take you right here and now, baby,” he rasped, low enough for only her to hear. “doesn’t mean that aren’t... other ways to relieve some of the tension.”

Her face reddened. “R-Really?”

It was his turn to nod.

“When?” Betty managed to ask.

“After we go to the spot,” Jughead replied. “when we can finally be alone... if you can be my good girl and wait for me.”

“I... I...”

“C’mon Betts,” he coaxed, hand cradling the back of her neck. “say it. Say you’ll be a good girl for me.”

Spinning to face him, she stood on her tiptoes, kissing him hard and fast.

“Please Jug,” she whispered, desperation dripping from her tone.

“Say it,” he demanded.

He wouldn’t be the one begging, at least not this time. Resting her head against his chest, she nodded again compliantly.

“I’ll be a good girl,” Betty promised, smiling as he kissed her hair. “I will, Jug.”

“Oh sweets, I know you will,” smirking, he pounded on the door again, his free arm wrapping around her.


“Who the fuck is this?”

Jughead’s smile disappeared in an instant.

“My girlfriend,” he answered, pulling her closer. “Betty.”

The boy in front of her didn’t look much older than Jughead or the rest of their friends.

“Girlfriend?” He snorted. “You have a girlfriend?”

“Baby, this asshole is my cousin Gear,” Jughead introduced. “Now learn some fucking manners, you piece of shit, and say hello to my girl.”

Gear shook his head in disbelief. “Have you ever heard the expression, one of these things is not like the other? There’s no way this Sugarplum Princess is dating you, Jughead. Tell me honestly angel, are you here against your will?”

Betty frowned at his use of Jughead’s favorite nicknames for her.

“God, I’ve forgotten how much I don’t like you,” Toni grumbled, grabbing her by the hand. “Betty is one of us asswipe, insult her again, and you’ll have to deal with me. Jug, we’re out of here.”

Gear flinched at Toni’s hard gaze.

“Hang on,” Jughead caught her arm. “Baby stay with the girls and don’t wander off. I’ll come find you in a little bit.”

Betty nodded. “Okay Juggie.”

“Betts,” his grip tightened. “I mean it, no funny business. Just because we haven’t seen a camera yet doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there, eager to get a picture of you.”

“You’re an overprotective goof,” she told him, pecking him on the lips. “I’ll stay close Jug, I promise.”

“That’s my girl,” he pulled her close, dipping his head to whisper in her ear. “my beautiful, strong, good girl. You will be a good girl for me, baby, won’t you?”

Her cheeks were burning.

“How much longer until we’re alone?” She asked, low enough for only him to hear.

“Later tonight angel,” Jughead kissed her cheek. “later tonight. Hey, Betts?”

“Yeah, Jug?”

“Get what you want when you go shopping, okay?” He said, slipping his jacket off. “Not what Alice Cooper would pick. Here sweets, put this on.”

Betty reached for it suspiciously. “Why?”

“Because you get cold easily,” Jughead answered, tapping her playfully on the nose. “and, it doesn’t hurt for everyone to see that you’re mine.”

She was his.

Alice would have blanched at his claim of ownership, but Betty accepted it eagerly. Ever since she had been ripped from her Westchester colonial, since she had been dropped off in Riverdale with a mother and a life she remembered more than she let on, she had been struggling to find her footing again, desperate to belong to something or someone. Toni, Cheryl, the Serpents, even her own mother were close, but it was Jughead and what they had that made her sure that everything that had happened really was for the best. 


“Cheryl, I’m not going in there.”

Her cousin actually stamped her foot. “Yes you are, Elizabeth Peabody Blossom, even if I have to drag you in myself.”

Betty threw Toni a pleading look.

“Sorry Little Bit,” her pink haired friend muttered, and much to her credit, she did sound it. “but you may as well learn now... Cheryl always gets her way.”

“Always,” Jellybean echoed.

“But...” She stuttered, unsure of why she was feeling so embarrassed, knowing her nerves might have lessened had Jughead been with her instead. “I already have...”

“Oh Cousin,” Cheryl smirked, stepping towards her, playfully snapping the strap of her white cotton bra like they were in junior high. “my dear sweet Cousin Betty, your undergarments were worthy of Betty Cooper, whoever the hell she is, but nowhere near worthy enough for Betty Peabody Blossom, a true badass, and as the girlfriend of the future Serpent King, you need lingerie that will befit you. Just think, that hobo won’t be able to keep his eyes off of you when he sees you in-”

“Oh my god Cher,” Toni snapped, shutting her up with a kiss. “you’re making me uncomfortable. I don’t want to hear about my best friend fucking my brother any more than I wanna hear about my brother fucking my best friend.”

Her best friend. It was the second time within a few hours that someone dared to claim her as something she hadn’t been three weeks prior, and it felt so right. Toni had always been her friend, her best friend, even when she didn’t remember.

“I think we should go in.” Jellybean said.

Cheryl beamed at her girlfriend. “Thank you JB, did you wanna get something too?”

“I could use a new thong.”

Toni shot her a warning look. “That had better not be for Sweet Pea, Forsythia Paige.”

“No Antionette Marie,” she threw back. “I just happen to prefer them to boy shorts, unlike someone I know.”

“Why are you going through my underwear drawer?”

“We share a room Toni,” Jellybean reminded her. “that means we share a dresser.”

Toni shook her head, looking annoyed. “We have different drawers.”

“...And sometimes, I get bored.”

“Jellybean, I swear to god...”

“Let’s go in,” Betty echoed, grabbing Toni’s hand, pulling her along. “but Cher, I mean it. Absolutely no corsets.”

“Ruin my fun, Cousin Betty. Your body is perfect for such delicate things. If you don't see it now, you'll see it later.” 


“...I hate you.” Betty mumbled, accepting the bag from the woman behind the counter.

“You hate that I’m right.” Cheryl corrected, snapping her fingers to catch the nearest sale lady’s attention. “You, forty-year-old something hag wearing way too much makeup, my precious cousin has... plans with her boyfriend tonight, and she’d like to change into her purchase before we leave, so kindly show her to the fitting room.”

“Cher-”

“Oh my dear Elizabeth, you’ll thank me later,”


“Hey baby.” He said, eyes lighting up at the sight of her still wearing his jacket.

Betty blushed, stepping out of the store, Cheryl, Jellybean and Toni trailing along behind her. “What are you doing here?”

“I told you I was coming to get you after I handled my business,” Jughead glanced at the bag in her hand, looking suspicious. “Betts... What the hell did you just buy at Lace Escape?”

Chapter Text


“Wouldn’t you like to know?”

She wouldn’t be the only one begging tonight, not if she could help it, and by the look in his eyes, he wanted her just as badly.

“I would actually,” Jughead held out a hand, beckoning her forward. “C’mere and show me sweet thing.”

“Ask nicely,” Betty taunted.

He raised a single brow, an almost evil glint flashing in his eyes. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me,”

“Good things come to those who wait,” Jughead recited, making no moves to approach her.

“I could say the same thing to you, Juggie,”

“I’m not going to be nice about this, angel, come here and show me.”

She ran instead, adrenaline coursing through her veins as she glanced over her shoulder with a giggle, happy to see him chasing after her, quickly gaining.

He caught her easily, just as she rounded the corner, spinning her around with a simple grip on her arm. Gripping both wrists with a single hand, he pinned her to the side of the unmarked building.

“Drop the bag.”

She obliged.

“Tell me what’s inside, sweetness,” Jughead whispered. “now.”

Betty bit down on her lip. “I can’t.”

“What do you mean, you can’t? Betty, if Cheryl forced you into buying something you didn’t want, we’ll just take it back, I know how she can be, and if you feel that uncomfortable that you don’t want to tell me when you know you can tell me anything-”

“I can’t tell you,” Betty repeated, a blush rising to her cheeks. “but I can show you. Later, when we’re finally alone.”

His grip tightened.

“Fuck Betty,” Jughead rasped. “are you trying to kill me?”

“Not kill,” she smiled. “I just wanted to make sure you would want me just as much as I want you.”

Growling, his free hand fisted her hair, mouth closing over hers in a desperate kiss, pressing her further into the wall.

“If there’s one thing you’ll never have to worry about, Elizabeth,” he pulled away for air, freeing one hand, holding it over the bulge forming in his jeans. “it’s how much I want you.”

Betty giggled nervously, face turning red.

Catching her chin, he kissed her sweetly. “You know we don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for... fuck.”

Jughead caught her arm in a bruising grip, nearly yanking it out of socket as he pulled her further into the alley.

“Jug...”

“Shut up angel,” he snapped, and then shot her a regretful look. “damn it baby, I’m sorry, it’s not you, it’s them. I just need a second to think.”

“T-Them?”

The lump in her throat got bigger.

They’d found her. Again.

“How could this have happened?” Jughead demanded, palm sliding down her arm until he found her hand, interlacing their fingers. He sighed, tugging her around a vacant corner. “Baby, you trust me, right?”

Timidly, she nodded.

“I’m not gonna let them see you, okay?” His phone was already pressed to his ear. “Sweet Pea, we’ve got a situation.”

He squeezed her hand reassuringly, but the gesture did little to comfort her. She was just beginning to get used to her new life, her old life in some regard, just getting to the point where she felt like she didn’t have to always be looking over her shoulder, but that feeling of being safe, of finally, maybe being happy was dissipating rapidly.

She wasn’t ready for the world to know her yet.

“We’re right on the corner of...” Jughead squinted to read the street sign. “Dadford and Donford. No, they didn’t see her... Yes I’m sure you idiot, do you really think I’d let them get within a mile of my girl?”

Gently, he pushed her back against the wall, resting his palm flat against the brick, leaning over her.

“I’ve got a plan,” he said. “but you’d still better hurry the fuck up. I’m not risking her safety or her comfort level for anything.”

Hanging up, he shoved the phone into his back pocket, cradling her face with his free hand.

“I’m sorry Betty,” he muttered, ashamed. “I thought you’d be safe here.”

Betty gripped the lapels of his jacket, bringing him closer.

“I am safe,” she told him. “any time I’m with you.”

His mouth closed over her own in a bruising kiss. She locked her arms around his neck, his own hands settling on her hips.

“Jug,” Betty panted, breaking away. “I’m not complaining, I like this... actually, I love this, but... your plan. Shouldn’t we-”

Chuckling darkly, he held the back of her neck, pulling her towards him again. “You’re lookin’ at it Blondie.”


Their kisses got more sloppy.

“Are...”

He grinned, pulling away just enough to meet her eyes. “Cat got your tongue, sweetness?”

Betty pushed against his chest with no effort. “Are... we alone now?”

“No,” Sweet Pea called, rolling up. “you sure aren’t, sugar,”

Fangs, riding shotgun, cackled beside him.

“Shut it Forgaty,” Jughead warned, catching her hand, tugging her after him. “Step on it Sweet Pea. I wanna be past the city limits before they realize that we’re gone.”

“How did they even know we were here?” Toni asked, shooting Betty a worried look.

“My guess?” Jellybean shrugged. “The sales lady at Lace Escape Cheryl pissed off.”

Jughead scowled at her. “Really?”

“My cousin needed some new... outfits,” Cheryl replied. “you should be thanking me, Hobo, and perhaps you will, after you see what she’s got on under her Marcia Brady façade.”

Fangs, catching the end of Cheryl’s sentence, let out a playful wolf whistle, pretending to look her up and down.

“I’m gonna kick your ass,” Jughead growled.

He merely laughed, exchanging a high five with Sweet Pea.

“As much as I appreciate you taking my girl shopping,” he rolled his eyes. “from now on, the only people I want knowing what’s under anything are me and her.”

“Oh, “ Cheryl said. “don’t worry Cousin, TT and I took the liberty of retrieving the rest of your bags.”

She grabbed Jughead’s arm.

“What?” He asked, alarmed. “What’s wrong baby?”

“The bag,” Betty hissed, low enough for only him to hear. “the one you made me drop.”

“Fuck,” Jughead whispered back. “was there anything important in there?”

“No,” she sighed, thankful. “just...”

“What?”

“Never mind,”

“We don’t do secrets Betts,” he nagged, wrapping an arm around her.

“It had...” Betty sighed again, letting her head fall heavily against his shoulder. “my old underwear.”

A shit-eating grin spread across his face. “Were they sexy?”


“Juggie, where are we?”

The roar of loud engines cut him off before he could respond. The arm around her shoulders tightened instead, pulling her to his side.

“Any guesses?” He whispered in her ear.

Headlights blinded her.

“Street racing,” Betty answered, grinning. “This is so cool! The Serpents street race?”

“Only when the cops don’t show,” Jughead replied. “my brilliant girl.” 


His friendly demeanor disappeared the second they exited the truck, catching her hand in a vice grip.

“I’m with you,” Betty stated, before he could even open his mouth.

His lips threatened to twitch into that smile she knew and loved.

“That’s my girl.”

Jughead stepped forward, only to be stopped by Betty’s feet remaining firmly planted.

“Hey angel, you all right?”

“Jug... he’s not here, is he?”

“I don’t know,” he confessed, smile disappearing. “usually this is more of a teen scene, but he’s always watching...”

Jughead trailed off, glancing down at her, unamused.

“I wish I could be smart instead of selfish,” he admitted. “I wish I could do more to protect you, Betty, but I can’t. I can’t live without you now. I won’t. You’re mine, baby, and no one, especially a low life like Tall Boy is gonna try to use the way I feel about you against me.”

“I’m safer with you than without you,” Betty told him, framing his face with her hands.

“Betts...”

“Yeah Jug?”

“You know you’re the best thing in my life, right?”

She opened her mouth to respond, to tell him he was the best thing that had happened to her, ever, but arms wrapped around her in a friendly squeeze, pulling her back several steps before she could.

“Well hello there, pretty lady, how is my favorite girl?”

Jughead scowled, reaching for her again. “If I didn’t know any better Kev, I’d think you were trying to steal my girlfriend.”

“She was my girlfriend first,” Kevin teased, arm hooking around her neck. “I’m not going to let go of her that easily, Jughead.”

“That kiss meant nothing,”

Betty snorted. “And you cheated on me while I was gone.”

“Honey, I didn’t know if I was ever going to see you again. I had to move on with my life.”

A pit settled in her stomach.

Moving on.

She hadn’t thought about anyone, Kevin, Toni, Jughead, her mother, moving on. Jughead pulled her back to his side, like he could sense her discomfort.

“...Doesn’t mean I love you any less.”

“Aww Kev,” Betty managed to say. “I love you too.”

“Hey Jug,” Joaquin called, stepping forward. “Betty.”

“Hi ‘Quin.”

“Kevin,” she tried to sound insulted. “how could you do this? How could you bring him here? Did you think about how much it would hurt me?”

“Technically, he brought me here...”

“I can’t even look at you right now!”

“Well good,” Jughead grumbled, grasping her hips, spinning her in the opposite direction. “cause’ I’m done sharing you anyway. See you guys later.”

He led her away, her back pressed against his chest.

“Okay angel,” his hand slid into the back pocket of her jeans. “what happened back there?”


“It’s scary.” She said.

Jughead pinched her ass, making her squeak as a dangerous smirk formed across his face. “What is?”

“How well you know me,” Betty replied, struggling to regain her composure.

“Baby, you’re my girl, of course I know you, but even Kevin could see just how uncomfortable you were getting. What the fuck happened?”

“It’s nothing, Jug,”

“Oh no,” he pulled his hand from her pocket, grabbing her arms. “we’ll have none of that, Elizabeth.”

She tried to break free from his grasp. “Juggie, it’s stupid-”

“Nothing you say or do is stupid Betts,” Jughead told her, grip tightening each time she attempted to squirm away. “Now quit struggling and tell me what’s going on in that pretty little head of yours, or I might leave you feeling... frustrated tonight.”

Her eyes widened, thighs involuntarily clenching together at the thought. “You wouldn’t.”

“Start talking, sweet thing,”

“Do you think Penny would have...”

“Would have what, Betts? C’mon, keep talking.”

“...Moved on?”

“Moved on?” Jughead echoed, eyes narrowing in concern. “No, never. Why would you think that?”

“I guess I haven’t thought about what it would have been like if I hadn’t come back.”

Sighing, he pulled her close, arms wrapping around her. “Don’t think about it.”

“How can I not, Jug?” Betty demanded. “I would still be living with Alice, sure, but I would still have Chic and Polly at least.”

He didn’t reply.

“But... If I was still with Alice, if I hadn’t come back...”

Tears filled her eyes.

“Betts,” his hands came to cradle her face. “baby, don’t cry. Please.”

“I wouldn’t have Toni and Cheryl, or JB, or Kev, or any of our friends, but most of all...”

“Betty, angel...”

“I wouldn't have my mom,” Betty whispered. “I wouldn’t have you. God, Jug, I can’t imagine not having you now. I don’t want to.”

“Then don’t, baby.” Jughead said, swiping at her cheeks, drying her desperate tears with the calloused pad of his thumb. “You don’t have to, Betts, I don’t want you to.”

Moving to hold her at arm’s length again, he lifted her gaze to his with a single finger beneath her chin.

“This isn’t going to be easy, Betty,” he warned. “I wish I could tell you different. You’re going to have great days, other days are going to be really shitty, and eventually, you will break, because what you’re going through right now, finding out that you were abducted by your own father, being torn away from the family you grew up with, coming back here, with a mom you can’t remember, finding out that your mom and your boyfriend are in a gang, finding out that they’re being blackmailed into selling drugs, it’s enough to make even the strongest person break, and when you do, I’m going to be right here for you.”

Her lip trembled.

“I’m not going anywhere Betty,” Jughead vowed, pushing a loose strand of hair behind her left ear. “No matter what happens... Just... consider me the one thing you can count on if everything else gets shot to hell, okay?”

In his own way, he had just offered her the world.

“Jughead Jones,” Betty managed to smile. “you are so important to me.”

“You’re important to me too baby,” he replied, kissing her nose. “Oh, and Betts?”

“Yeah, Juggie?”

“Tonight isn’t just gonna about relieving our mutual... frustrations. It’s going to be about forgetting, even if it’s only for a little while.”

Her face felt flushed.

“Juggie, what... Uh, what exactly are you going to do to me?”

Jughead smirked, his fingers dancing down her left arm.

“Make you beg for it,” he divulged, still grinning like an idiot. “and then... who knows. Maybe you’ll come for me so many times, you won’t remember your own name, whatever it is right now.”

Her thighs clenched tighter together.

“You know, Betts, you ambushed me on our first date, and I was so surprised, I never got to ask you... Are you a virgin?”

“I... I...”

“Shh,” he instructed, pressing a finger to her lips. “Tell me tonight, baby... If you can still speak, that is.”

Betty’s jaw fell. “Juggie, please...”

“C’mon sweets,” he took her hand, pulling her after him. “we’re missing the show.”

Chapter Text


“Do you ever race?” She called to him.

He shrugged, grabbing her by the hips to set her precariously on the pulled down tailgate, standing between her legs. “Sometimes.”

Betty smiled, arms wrapping around his neck. “I wanna see you race.”

“Normally I’m not a showoff,” Jughead shrugged. “but if my girl’s watching...”

“Fucking sap,” Sweet Pea mumbled as he passed them, Jellybean at his side.

“Excuse me angel,” he started after them before she could protest, catching up to his friend in record time, getting him good with a single slug to his left shoulder.

Betty giggled, loving the playful version of Jughead just as much as his serious, brooding side. She couldn’t even think about the part of him, the one who seemed to like control when she had none, when she didn’t want any, the one she wanted to explore, full dark, no stars.

If Alice could only see her now.

“Hey there Blondie,”

Her smile disappeared.

A boy, tall, slim, with long, dark, curly brown hair piled on top of his head, sides and the back cut shorter leaned against Sweet Pea’s old truck. His shirt had been left unbuttoned shirts, and he was covered in body paint, creating an almost ghoulish appearance.

“Don’t think I’ve ever seen the likes of you here before,” he drawled, smiling in a way that was meant to be charming.

“You should keep walking,” Joaquin pulled away from Kevin, a hand on his shoulder to push him back, keep him in place.

“What’s it to you, Snake?”

“She’s taken,” he replied. “so back the fuck off.”

“By who?”

“By me.”

Suddenly Jughead was in front of her, stance protective in a way she knew all too well. Gripping the bed with shaking hands, she lowered herself down to stand beside him.

“Such a pretty girl,” the boy mocked, glancing around her boyfriend’s rigid body to get a better look at her. “shame she has to waste her potential on the Serpent Prince.”

“Fuck off,” Jughead snarked. “She’s mine.”

He shrugged. “She’s probably trash in the sack anyway.”

Jughead was on him in seconds.

“Sweet Pea,” Betty cried, covering her mouth with a single hand. “Fangs, Joaquin, someone... Stop him, please!”

Joaquin and Sweet Pea descended on him in seconds, forcing Jughead to his feet. Blood trickled from his lip, but the other boy was far worse for wear. He didn’t stir, even as Joaquin delivered a swift kick to his stomach.

“You okay?” Toni whispered, suddenly beside her.

Betty could only nod, stunned. She knew Jughead had a violent streak just by the way he talked, but he’d never so much as thrown a real punch in front of her.

“Hi name is Malachai Gonzales,” she said. “he’s part of a rival gang called the Ghoulies. He’s not someone you wanna fuck with.”

“Shit,” Jughead shrugged his friends off, slowly descending on her. “Betts...”

She had no idea what to do, how to feel, but as he reached for her, her feet moved of their own violation, arms wrapping around his waist in a tight hold.

“I shouldn’t have done that with you right there,” he mumbled, fingers knotting in her hair. “I’m sorry baby, I wasn’t... I wasn’t thinking.”

“You were protecting me,” Betty said, head against his chest.

“Always,” he replied, lifting her chin up with a single finger.

Sirens blared in the background.

“Damn it,” Jughead hoisted her over his shoulder without warning, jumping back into the truck.

Settling her between his legs, he sighed.

“So much for no one calling the cops,”

Betty laughed as Sweet Pea sped away.


“Where are we?” She questioned, gazing at the two story brick home as he pulled her from the bed of the truck, slowly lowering her feet to the ground.

“My place,” Jughead answered, and by his short reply, she knew she wasn’t the only one who was eager for some... release. “but we’re not staying. I’ll give you the grand tour some other time. We’re just here to get my bike.”

Nodding, she clutched his hand, following him to his motorcycle, parked halfway up the drive. As he steadied it, she put her helmet on, throwing a leg over the seat, wrapping her arms tightly around his torso.

“Don’t let go of me angel,”

He revved the engine once, and then they were racing down the street.


He took her back to the place his old bicycle had been stolen, the place they had almost given each other everything. Fox Forrest

Jughead produced a blanket and laid it across the dried leaves. Despite being well into October, it wasn’t terribly cold, but the predatory look in her boyfriend’s eyes had her shivering.

“Sit down,”

She obliged.

“Are you nervous?” He asked, kneeling down beside her, taking her hand in his.

“More like anxious,” Betty admitted, holding his gaze.

“You know I would never hurt you, right angel?”

“I know Juggie,”

“Do you trust me, Betts?”

“Juggie,” she cradled his face. “you’re about the only person I trust right now.”

He kissed her then, bowing her back until she was lying in a horizontal position, Jughead leering over here, already looking pleased.

“Do you want me?”

“Y-Yes...” She answered shakily.

His lips moved to her neck. “How badly?”

“Juggie...”

“Tell me,” Jughead insisted, lightly nipping at her skin.

“I... I... Oh my god...”

“C’mon baby,” he coaxed. “tell me.”

“I-I want you, Jughead, god, I want you.”

“Mhhhm, good girl,” Jughead praised, nuzzling her neck. “now answer my question from earlier.”

Her cheeks reddened as his hands slowly moved to the hem of her shirt.

“I...”

“Are you or aren’t you, baby?”

“You’re the first boy I ever kissed, Juggie,” Betty admitted reluctantly. “do you really think I would have done anything with anyone else?”

Her answer was rewarded with that smug smirk she loved.

“So no one,” teasingly, he tugged at the fabric, shifting it upwards, but only by an inch. “has ever seen you like this? Just me?”

“Just... Just you, Juggie. Only you. I only ever want it to be you.”

Her heart stopped. Was it too soon to say something like that? They had only been dating for less than a month

Then again, he had just claimed her as his.

Jughead paused, seemingly both pleased and in awe of her admission.

“I only ever want it to be me too baby,” he told her, eyes gleaming in the minimal light the night sky provided. “because you’re mine and I’m gonna fight like hell to make sure you stay that way.”

She wound her arms around his neck, the embrace lasting for only a moment before his fingers caught her wrists, pinning them down by her sides.

“Last question baby,” Jughead whispered in her ear. “What did you buy at Lace Escape?”

“If you let me take my shirt off, I’ll show you,” Betty replied bravely.

“Arms up,” he demanded, without skipping a beat, dragging her back into a kneeling position.

He tugged her Alice Cooper approved sweater over her head, revealing the dark lace corset Cheryl had pulled from the store mannequin herself.

His jaw fell.

“Fuck, Betty...”

His hand moved to the button of her tight jeans, fingers tauntingly dipping into the waist line.

“I really hope they match,” he muttered.

Betty nodded, but he didn’t seem to notice. Pushing on her shoulder, he laid her down on the blanket.

“Arms above your head,” he directed, and she obeyed. “that’s my good girl.”

Slowly, the button of the jeans she didn’t plan on wearing ever again, not with all the new clothing she had purchased, snapped open, Jughead tauntingly pulling them down her legs.

Catching sight of her new black lace panties, he met her gaze with another smirk.

“I was right,”

“Can’t have a mismatched set,” Betty responded.

Grinning, he leaned over her. “You look fucking amazing baby, for as long as I live, I’ll never forget this sight.”

Her nipples pebbled against the cool air, straining against the thin material of her corset, but her body was too flushed and overheated to feel cold.

“Are you all right?” He asked, lips moving to unforgivingly suck on the sensitive skin of her neck.

“Never better,” she whispered.

“If it gets to be too much...”

“Juggie, I want this,” Betty whimpered. “whatever this is. I need it, and I think you do too.”

She could feel him marking her, claiming her as his own, and she never wanted to forget this moment for as long as she lived.

Involuntarily, her hips began to rock.

Jughead pinned both wrists above her head with a single hand.

“Good girls stay still,” he growled. “until I say they can move. Or are you not going to be my good girl, Betts? Cause we can stop...”

Immediately, her movements stilled.

“P-Please, Juggie, I’ll be good,” Betty rasped through panted breaths. “I promise I’ll be good.”

Jughead kissed her nose. “Oh angel, I know you will.”

He paused again.

“If it ever gets to be too much...”

“Juggie, please.”

“Fuck, I love hearing you say my name,” he admitted cheekily. “you’re still wearing too much, baby.”

His hands crept behind her back, fingers deftly undoing the first clasp, and then the second, and the third, and she tried not to feel embarrassed over having to pull Cheryl into the dressing room after her earlier just to figure out how to get it on.

“You’re blushing sweets,” he taunted, undoing another one. “I like it when you blush.”

The blanket felt scratchy against her bare skin as he finally tugged the corset away from her body, revealing her heaving breasts to his hungry gaze.

“Fuck,” Jughead released his grip on her wrists, though a stern look was all it took to keep them crossed without restraint. “you are so fucking beautiful, Betty, I will never get tired of looking at you.”

He cupped her breasts with both hands, leaning down to close his mouth about her nipple, twisting the other between his thumb and forefinger until it almost hurt, but it felt so good.

Switching to the other nipple, his free hand gently traced along this sensitive curve of her breast, starting at the outer edge and slowly working his way around to the middle of her chest. Releasing her now hardened nipple with a pop, his tongue followed the path of his fingertips, feathering light kisses down her body.

“You’re doing so good baby,” he breathed. “but I need to make sure you stay still for this next part. Do you trust me?”

“Y-Yes.”

“Do you trust me, Betty?”

“Yes Juggie,” Betty whispered. How many times did he need to hear her say it?

Jughead pulled his belt from the loops of his jeans, lashing it around her still crossed wrists in a loop.

Her thighs clenched together, but he didn’t seem to notice.

“So fucking sexy,” he growled, teasingly pulling at the waistband of her panties.

He slipped his hand inside.

“Oh-Oh my god...”

“So fucking wet,” Jughead moved his mouth back to her neck, sinking his teeth into her skin. “god baby.”

“Jug... Juggie...”

“Hmmm, that’s it baby, moan my name for me. Be as loud as you want, it’s just you and me out here.”

He gathered her wetness, spreading it to her clit in a slow circle. Pressing a gentle kiss to her lips, he cradled her face with his free hand, his finger slipping lower, threatening to dip inside.

“You okay?”

“Make me forget,” Betty whispered.

“Happily,” he grumbled, withdrawing his hand to yank her panties down her legs. “Baby?”

“Y-Yeah?”

“I like these,” he said, gesturing to her lingerie, in a rumpled pile at the edge of the blanket. “I really like these baby, and I wanna see you in them again, but maybe next time you can wear something you don’t mind... ruining?”

A blush rose to her already reddened cheeks.

“W-Whatever you want, Juggie...”

“That’s my good girl,” Jughead rasped, slowly pulling her legs apart.

He kissed her inner thigh.

“Tell me what you want, sweets.”

“I... I...”

“C’mon angel.” The tip of his finger brushed across her already swollen lips, making her jump in anticipation. “Tell me.”

“I want... I need... Jughead, please, I need this.”

“You need what, baby?” Jughead pressed, feigning innocence. “I told you, you’re gonna have to do better than that.”

“Please,” Betty panted. “I need your mouth on me, Juggie, please-”

She was cut off by his tongue expertly moving against her sensitive bundle of nerves.

“Fuck.” He hissed, momentarily pulling away, grinning as she whined. “You taste so good, Betts. It won’t take long.”

“Won’t take long? What are you-Oh my god, Juggie, please... Please...”

Once again, he was right. A wave of warmth rose from her stomach, up to her chest, turning it into a whole-body experience as she began to tremble. Betty had never done this before, but she knew she was already close, and when she did go over the edge, she couldn't stop.

“Let go baby.” Jughead urged. “Give it to me, give me everything. Let me help you.”

Nothing else mattered in that moment, only her and him. Every concern, responsibility, every feeling of guilt went away. Jughead was the only person in her world, taking control when she couldn’t, making her want more, and relax.

In the minutes that followed, Betty let everything go.

“You are such a good girl,” he praised, as her body began to tingle again. “you want one more, baby?”

“I... I...”

“Use your words, Betty, I wanna hear you say it.”

“Please Juggie.” Betty whispered, blinking back tears. “Please, I need you.”

“Good girl.”

His tongue moved in a magical pattern, tracing vague shapes and lines until she finally realized what he was trying to spell.

A-L-W-A-Y-S.

All her nerves seemed to be standing at attention, and then suddenly, they relaxed as she exploded, coating her thighs, and the front of his shirt, her cheeks burning.

“You are so fucking incredible.” Jughead praised, wrapping her bound arms around his neck, pulling her naked and dazed body onto his lap. “I made you a promise, baby, tell me what your name is.”

Betty blinked in response, burying her face into the crook of his neck.

Her name? She had no idea.

“Betts?”

“I... I don’t know.”

Jughead laughed. “Five times was enough to make you forget your name... I wonder how many it would take to make you forget everything else.”

Slowly, reality came back to her.

“Is that a promise?” Betty whispered, flexing her wrists when he finally released her.

He wrapped the blanket around her, arms pulling her close, kissing the top of her head. “Of course it is. I told you, angel, any time you need me... I’ll always be here.”

“I know, Juggie.” Betty said. “Thank you.”

“Anything for you, baby.”

She sighed, snuggling closer to him. “I should probably start heading home...”

“Stay a little longer.” Jughead murmured, grip tightening. “I just wanna hold you right now.”


“Oh god,”

She froze in the doorway, still fazed by their final good night kiss.

“H-Hi Penny,” Betty stumbled.

“Just tell me the truth,” Penny sighed, not looking angry, but a little concerned and wary. “Did you do it tonight or not, Elizabeth?”

“N-No,” she said, cheeks burning. “I mean, we did some stuff, but...”

She bit her lip.

“Please don’t kill my boyfriend,”

“I’m not gonna kill your boyfriend kid,” her mother rolled her eyes. “I trust you, Elizabeth Peabody. You’ve been nothing but honest with me, and you’re smart. Smarter than I ever was.”

“So you’re okay if-”

“Yeah,” Penny sighed. “I’m okay with it, so long as you keep being smart.”

Chapter Text


“Betty,” he took the new copy of  Beloved  from her hand, setting it gently on the desk, careful not to lose her place. “what did you tell Penny?” 

Her cheeks burned, already knowing. “Um...” 

Jughead knelt down in front of her, hands on either side of her, kneading into the mattress. “And when were you gonna tell me that you were on the pill?” 

“I’m gonna kill Penny,” she groaned, ducking her chin to avoid his intense gaze. “What did she say to you? More importantly,  why were you with her?”  

“Had to make a run,” he admitted, and she was grateful for the honesty. “What  didn’t  she tell me, Betts? I’m glad you feel comfortable talking to your mom, but... can what  we  do stay between us?” 

Still blushing, she nodded. “I’m so sorry Juggie,” 

Meeting his eyes, they burst out laughing. 


“My god,” Toni said, hefting her bag over one shoulder. “Trig is gonna be the death of me.” 

“T you’re gonna ace that test,” Betty told her, cradling her Math book to her chest. 

“Thanks to you,” her friend sighed, glancing at the clock. “damn it, I’m gonna be late to meet Cher... Can you get home okay?” 

“Of course,” 

It had been almost two weeks since the incident in Eastdale, and the reporters hadn’t sniffed her way since then. She couldn’t help but wonder if Penny had something to do with it. She  was  a lawyer after all, and a pretty damn good one at that. Slapping a gag order on the vultures trying to prey on her daughter would have been child’s play. 

“Got a hot date?” Betty added, waggling her eyebrows. 

Toni shoved her playfully as they left the library, hiking her back up a little higher. “Something like that. How about you, Little Bit, are you and my brother gonna-” 

Her cheeks burned. 

“Prude,” she teased, studying her. “you know, you do look a little...  different.  Anything you wanna tell me, as your  best friend?”  

“Yes,” Betty replied. “you ask too many questions,  best friend.”  

“Oh my god, you did it,” Toni shuddered. “On second thought, I don’t need to know any of the gory details. He  is  my brother.” 

“We didn’t do it,” she giggled. “well, we did  some  stuff, but-” 

“Did you completely miss the part where I said  I don’t need to know?”  

“You’re my best friend T,” Betty pointed out. “Who else can I talk to about this kind of stuff?” 

“There’s always Veronica,” she teased. 

“V’s great,” her shoulders dropped in a shrug. “but she’s not you.” 

Uncharacteristically, Toni embraced her. 

Confused, Betty held onto her, happy with the contact. Since her return, Toni had been a good friend, but overly cautious, like she was afraid to venture too far. 

“I’m always here for you Little Bit,” Toni whispered. “even if it’s just to talk about your sexcapades with my brother.” 

Giggling, she pulled away. “Thanks T, but... don’t you have to meet Cheryl?” 

“Crap,” she took the steps two at a time. “thanks again for the study session, I’ll make it up to you! Get home safe!” 


The third day of November, barely past five, and it was nearly pitch black. 

She had less than a mile to go, but the dim streetlights made the walk seem even longer. The soles of her new combat boots made  thwacking  sounds against the sidewalk, loud enough to alert anyone of her presence, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being followed. 

She wanted to call Jughead. She couldn’t. he was working, his legit job, bartending at the Wyrm till nine. Calling Penny was out of the question too. She’d left a note on the table before she woke up, saying she would be in Greendale all day,  handling business , and the last thing she needed was to give Tall Boy more ammunition to use against her mother. 

A twig snapped. 

She quickened her pace. 

A hand caught her arm, throwing her against the wall of an abandoned building. With the wind knocked out of her, she couldn’t scream. 

“Hey there  princess,”  a man sneered. 

He reeked of alcohol. 

“Whatcha got here Billy?” One of his friends called. 

“Little girl lost,” Billy replied, reaching out to touch her cheek with a calloused hand. “ain’t she pretty?” 

“Prettiest girl I’ve seen all night,” 

Two more men moved closer, blocking her escape. Three against one. Not a very fair fight. 

“Back off,” Betty hissed, in the strongest voice she could muster. 

Billy ignored her, gripping the front of his shirt like he was about to tear it in two. “She’s so covered up... I can fix that.” 

Her nails dug into the soft part of her palms, drawing blood. 

Elizabeth Cooper would have sat back, let whatever happen, happen, but she wasn’t Elizabeth Cooper anymore. She was Elizabeth Peabody, the daughter of a Serpent, the girlfriend of the boy that would one day be her leader. 

No one was allowed to hurt her. Not again. 

Fingers still clenched, she swung at him, getting him in the eye. Groaning in pain, he let her go, and she scrambled off the wall, desperate to get away. 

Her freedom lasted for only a second. 

“Fucking bitch,” 

Billy shoved her to the ground, skinning her knees. 

“Oh yeah, we’re gonna have some fun with this one,” 

Betty squeezed her eyes shut, both senses of fight and flight leaving her body. 

“Stop.”  

The world around them fell silent. 

“This isn’t the first woman you’ve tried to harass,” a deep voice hissed. “but it will be the last.” 

Digging her nails a little deeper, she found enough courage to twist her head, peering behind her at the unfolding scene. 

A fourth man had joined the group but judging by the frozen faces of the ones that had attacked her, he was not with him. He wore a mask, dark clothing, only his eyes, a cold, hard blue, were visible. 

“H-Hey man,” Billy spluttered. “we found this bitch f-fair and square, so why don’t you g...get lost?” 

“The only ones leaving are you and your pathetic excuse for friends,” he replied, tone dark. 

He took a single step forward, and the three men tried to descend on him. 

It wasn’t a fair fight. For them. 

One by one, they were thrown to the street, knocked out. Clapping his hands together like he was simply brushing away the dirt and grime, he eyed her warily. 

“Are you hurt?” 

Timidly, she shook her head. 

He offered her a hand, yanking her to her feet when she took it. 

“Call your boyfriend,” he directed. “find out where he is and go there. Don’t walk home by yourself again.” 

Betty didn’t need to be told twice. 

She ran, ignoring the blood on her hands as she finally found her phone, blindly typing in her passcode, hitting his name, the very top of her recent calls. 

“Hey baby,” he answered on the first ring. “Great timing, I just went on break.” 

She tried to find her voice. 

“Betts? You there?” 

“J-Jug...” Betty squeaked. “I...” 

“Where are you?” Jughead demanded. 

“L... Less than a mile away from the Wyrm,” she whispered. “Juggie...” 

“Run angel,” he told her. “I’m coming to get you, but don’t stop till you see me. You understand me?” 

“Y-Yes,” 

“That’s my girl,” Jughead praised. “I can see you Betts. Run to me, I’m right here.” 

She didn’t remember ending the call, throwing the phone back into her bag. She could just make out a blurry vision of her boyfriend, arms open, ready to catch her. She crashed into him. 

“Baby,” he pulled away all too quickly, cradling her face, eyes frantically searching. “what happened? Why did you sound so scared...  Why is your shirt ripped?”  

She hadn’t even noticed in her haste to get away. 

Jughead unwound the always present flannel from around his waist, pulling her own jacket off and wrapping it around her. Voice low, he instructed her to slide her arms through the too long sleeves and she listened, watching as he did the buttons at a daft speed. 

“What happened?” He hissed. 

“I...” Betty tried to swallow the lump in her throat. “I was walking home...” 

“Alone?” 

“Y... Yes,” 

“Damn it Betty,” Jughead sighed, yanking a hand through his beanie-less hair. “You  can’t walk alone on the Southside.  Not at night, and if you absolutely have to, you  call someone.”  

He grabbed her up in a protective hug, her feet dangling just above the ground. 

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have yelled at you, I just... fuck Betty, I can’t have anything happen to you, do you understand me? I... I need you here.” 

Her arms around his neck tightened. “I need you too Juggie.” 

“I’ve got you angel,” Jughead muttered, pulling back to cradle her face. “Can you talk about it?” 

She managed a nod. “I was walking h-home, and these three guys jumped me, tri...tried to-” 

“I’ll kill them,” 

“You d-don’t have to,” 

“What?” His eyes cut to her. “What are you talking about?” 

“This man...” Betty swallowed. “He saved me, helped me up, told me to run.” 

“What did he look like?” Jughead asked, tucking a tangled piece of hair behind her ear. 

“I... I don’t know,” she confessed. “he was wearing all black. A mask... Juggie?” 

“What baby?” 

“He told me to find my boyfriend,” Betty frowned, peering up at him. “but how could he have known-” 

He tugged her into a side hug, kissing the top of her head. “I don’t know baby, but if you’re safe, here with me, I’m not gonna ask questions.” 

Jughead let her go, reaching for her hand. 

“Come on,” he said. “you’re staying with me for the rest of my... uh Betts, why are you bleeding?” 

Chapter Text


“Betty,”

“I...”

She stepped away from him, wrapping his flannel a little tighter around herself. This was it, she thought, the moment he would run and never look back.

“Betts,” Jughead followed her movements, hands finding her hips, gently pushing her back against the wall. He caged her in, crushing her hopes for a quick getaway. “Did... Did you do that to yourself?”

He sounded so naturally calm, like it was every day that he discovered his girlfriend’s favorite way of harming herself.

“Tell me Betts,” he said, still gentle. “please.”

Tears filling her eyes, Betty nodded.

“Have you done it before?”

She nodded again. If he only knew.

“Okay,” his arms dropped. “do you know why you’re doing this to yourself?”

She bit down on her lip hard enough to draw blood as she offered him a third, curt nod. He lifted her chin with a single finger, freeing the flesh trapped between her two front teeth with his thumb.

“You can talk to me angel,” Jughead told her. “I want you to talk to me... please?”

Slowly, Betty shook her head.

“Betts-”

“I can’t,” she whispered. “I can’t... I don’t want to scare you Juggie, I don’t wanna scare you away.”

“Scare me away?” He repeated. “Betty, I’m in a gang, I’m next in line to take over that gang. I sell drugs on a weekly basis, sometimes, I even carry a gun, and you’re worried about scaring me away?”

“Do you hurt yourself?” Betty cried, thrusting her blood crusted hands out for him to see. “Did you spend twelve years with a “mother” that expected, no, demanded perfection? Have you spent your entire life trying to conceal this... inner darkness? Doing this every time you were tempted to fight back against the bitch that is Alice Cooper?”

He reached out for her. “Betty-”

“No!” She shrank away. “I’m fucked up Jug, I’m so screwed up, I don’t... I don’t know if I can be fixed! So yeah, I am scared, I’m scared that I could lose everything, you, my mom, the Serpents, my home, everything, because I am fucked up!”

Tears streamed down her cheeks, and the only thing she wanted to do was dig her nails a little deeper.

But then a beautiful thing happened.

Jughead caught both her hands, threading their fingers together before she could even try to leave a mark. Pulling her close, his arms wrapped around her in a protective circle.

“You are not fucked up, Elizabeth Regan Peabody,” his voice was deep. “you are not screwed up, you are not fucked up, and you are not the daughter of Alice Cooper.”

A relieved sob escaped her throat.

“Juggie, the darkness...”

“I don’t mind a little darkness,” Jughead replied. “I’ve got some too. I can handle it Betts.”

“Jug-”

He moved to cage her in again, pinning his forehead to hers.

“I can handle it,”

She threw her arms around his neck, lips meeting in a desperate kiss. One arm looped under her thighs, legs bracketing his hips as he hoisted her up, back pressed against the brick wall.

Her phone buzzed.

“Fuck,” Jughead rasped, pulling away.

Got held up, won’t be home tonight. Can you stay with a friend or somethin?

What? Why? She typed back.

Do as I say Elizabeth. I don’t want you staying there by yourself.

“Why don’t you stay with us?” Jughead said, reading the text over her shoulder. “Toni has a double bed and JB doesn’t snore... much.”

I’ll stay at Jug’s.

Elizabeth Regan Peabody...

With TONI! I won’t spend the night in Jughead’s bed, I promise.

I trust you kid. I’ll see you tomorrow.

Her heart hammered inside her chest, wondering what business could have possibly kept her from coming home.

Be safe. Betty typed.

It’s not your job to worry about me, baby. Penny replied. I’m the parent here.

Her phone buzzed again.

I’ll be fine. I promise. Good night Betty.

Sighing, she shoved it back into her pocket.

“You didn’t tell her,” disapproval dripped from his tone.

“She has a lot going on,” Betty shrugged. “I’ll tell her tomorrow, okay? But Jug-”

He took her hands again, gently enclosing his own over hers, bringing them up to his mouth with a gentle kiss.

“This can stay our secret,” he mumbled. “for now. We’ll get through this baby, I promise you that.”

Threading his fingers through hers, he pulled her off the wall, tugging her back in the direction of the Wyrm.


“You’re late,” FP accused, his back to them as he stood behind the bar, filling a drink order. “Just for that, you’re not getting another smoke break tonight, boy... What the hell happened to you?”

Betty shrank back, grip tightening on Jughead’s hand.

“She was attacked,” he answered, tone dark. “on her way home. She called me, so I went to get her.”

“Damn it,” FP came to stand in front of them. “Did you walk home alone?”

Timidly, she nodded.

“Never again Betty,” he ordered, and she could hardly argue with his tone. “Have your sister get the first aid kit and then get back to work Jug. Betty will stay here at the bar until your shift’s through. Anything else I need to know?”

“Penny’s out,” Jughead told him. “asked if Betty could stay with us for the night.”

FP’s brows raised.

“With Toni and Jellybean, dad, we’re not stupid.”

“Any time you want,” the older man offered kindly, touching her shoulder. “you’re always welcome in the Jones house, kid.”

Betty managed a weak smile. “Thank you, Mr. Jones.”

“FP, Betty,” he corrected. “you’re family.”

Clapping his son on the back, he ventured further into rowdy crowd.

“Toni,” Jughead barked, lifting her into his arms. “Up you go, angel.”

Several Serpents vacated their seats for her. Sitting her down, he bent one of her bloody knees to a 90 degree angle, looking apologetic when she winced.

“What the hell happened to you?” Toni demanded, throwing the first aid kit onto the counter.

“She got jumped,” her boyfriend grumbled. “Weren’t you two studying?”

“Oh my god,” a hand grasped her arm. “Betty, I am so-”

“Do not blame this on her, Forsythe Pendleton Jones,” Betty warned. “It’s no one’s fault. It just happened.”

Loyalty was an easy thing. She’d almost always take Jughead’s side, unless it meant going up against her best friend.

Jughead sighed, raking a hand through his hair. “I’m sorry T, I just...”

“I know,” she gave his shoulder a mock slug. “and don’t worry Little Bit, whoever the creeps are, we’ll get them.”

“Might not have to worry about that,” he opened the first aid kid, retrieving bandages, gauze and Neosporin.

Toni frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Betty was saved,” Jughead answered, unscrewing the cap, applying some of the ointment to his index finger. “by some masked vigilante. This is gonna sting, baby.”

“Son of a bitch,” Betty hissed, the moment he touched her. “I don’t know who he was T, he showed up, saved my ass, told me to call my boyfriend and then I ran, didn’t really stop to ask questions.”

“Wait, how did he know you have a-”

“That’s what I’m wondering.”

“And we’ll figure it out,” he wound the gauze around one knee, letting it gently drop to dangle over the bar stool before he reached for her other leg, bending it in the same way. “but not tonight. Too much has happened.”

Knowing exactly what he was referring to, she leaned forward, resting her head against his shoulder. A single hand cemented to the middle of her back, making slow circles across the fabric of his flannel.

“Do you wanna go home?” Toni offered kindly.

“She’s staying with us tonight,” Jughead said, gently pulling away. “Sorry baby, but you’ve got some cuts on your face that I need to take care of.”

Betty winced, anticipating. “There’s no hiding this from Penny, is there?”

“Hide that her daughter, her only child, the one she just got back less than a month ago, was jumped on her way home?” Toni had the decency to find some humor in the situation. “Sorry Little Bit, but no dice.”

“Is she gonna be mad?”

“Not at you,” he swiped a finger across the scrape on her cheek.

“This could be what finally gets me grounded,” she mumbled.

“For what?” Jughead demanded, frowning. “How many times do I have to say it, Betty? You didn’t do anything wrong.”

“I walked home,” Betty argued. “alone, in the dark, by myself, on the Southside.”

“You haven’t lived here since you were three,” Toni pointed out. “back then, you couldn’t even cross the street without holding Penny’s hand. Jug’s right, you didn’t know, Betty, this wasn’t your fault.”

“I should have been smarter,”

“You are smart,” her boyfriend grumbled, grabbing the first aid kit as he stalked back behind the bar, stashing it under the counter. “you just... had a lapse in judgment.”

Her nose crinkled. “Thanks Jug,”

“I told ya baby, I’m always gonna be honest with you.”

“You know, a little white lie every once and a while wouldn’t kill our relationship.”

“Fine,” Jughead smiled darkly. “I’ll lie to you angel. I’m not gonna find out who those fuckers are, and I won’t remove their heads from their shoulders for trying to fuck with my girl.”

She wanted to believe that he was joking, mostly, but remembering the way he’d gone after Malachi that day at the street races, she shuddered instead.

“You had to know I was gonna go after them, Betts.”

“I know,” she answered shakily. “just don’t get yourself killed in the process, okay?”

Gently, his hand moved to wrap around the back of her neck, pulling her halfway across the bar to stamp a kiss to her mouth.

“We really gotta work on your faith in me Elizabeth,” Jughead growled playfully.

Toni sat beside her, calling out to Jughead to get both of them a Coke. “You okay?”

Betty shrugged. “I guess.”

“Why are your knuckles bruised?”

She hadn’t noticed, but flexing her fingers, a dull pain shot through her hand. “Ow.”

“Jug, can we get some ice?” Toni added, carefully inspecting the damage. “Well lucky for you, I don’t think anything’s broken, but what the hell happened?”

“What did happen?” Jughead took her hand, laying it flat onto the bar, covering it with a frayed towel, filled with ice. “Here baby.”

“I... might have hit one of them?” Betty confessed, wracking her brain. “I don’t remember, it’s all a blur.”

“Jug,” Toni grinned. “your girl is a bad ass.”

He looked at her fondly. “Yes she is,”

She blushed. “I’m hardly a bad ass... damn it, that hurts!”

“So you’re a bad ass we need to toughen up a bit,” her friend’s arm fell around her shoulders in a friendly squeeze. “don’t worry Little Bit, we’ll get you some street cred, no problem.”

“Absolutely not,”

“Jug-”

“Don’t ever try to change a thing about my girlfriend, Antionette,” Jughead warned. “I lo... like her exactly the way she is.”

Betty’s heart hammered deep inside her chest.

She wasn’t the only one wondering if it was too soon to say it.

“No offense,” Toni squeezed her arm. “but Betty doesn’t exactly know who she is. Again, no offense Little Bit.”

“None taken,” she replied, because it was true, she didn’t. At least not yet.

Jughead glanced at her again and shrugged. “She’ll figure it out.”

He sounded so sure, so confident that she had no choice but to believe him. She would find her way, herself, eventually.

“Jug,” FP barked, sauntering up to the bar. “Smokey and Bandit got into some trouble, and now I gotta ride up to Brookhaven to try and bail the fuckers out. Not sure what time I’ll be back, but it won’t be any time soon. Don’t stay up late and stay out of trouble. All of you.”

Clapping Jughead on the back again, his gaze softened at the sight of Toni and Betty. Kissing his adoptive daughter’s forehead, he pulled back, resting a heavy hand on Betty’s shoulder.

“We’ll get ‘em, kid,” he said. “don’t worry.”

His words were a welcome safety net that she gladly fell into.


“What time did you tell Toni and JB to be home by?” She asked.

“Eleven-thirty,” Jughead unlocked the door, pulling her in after him. “Why are you whispering?”

“Is anyone home?”

“No,” he snorted, letting go of her hand. “Betts, it’s a three hour ride to Brookhaven just to get there. He left at seven-thirty, I got off at eight-thirty, and it’s only eight-forty-five now. Trust me, we are completely alone.”

Letting out a relieved sigh, Betty slid an arm around his shoulders. “Juggie?”

“What baby?”

“Remember when you said you’d help me forget?”

Chapter Text


She laughed as he grabbed her, legs wrapping around her waist.

Instead of heading up the stairs, he went down, carrying her as if she didn’t weigh a thing.

“Your room’s in the basement?” Betty rasped, in between sloppy kisses.

“Mhhm,” he answered, swinging another door open, kicking it shut. “being the oldest has its perks.”

Pulling away from him, she glanced around. The floor was carpeted, walls painted gray. He had a double bed too, with black and white checkered sheets, a black comforter and several pillows. His laptop was there, a long, leather couch and a big screen TV, a pile of video games in a basket underneath it.

“Like what you see, angel?”

“It’s very Jughead,” Betty replied.

He dropped down onto the couch, settling her on his lap. “Is that good?”

“Mhhm,” she echoed, arms wrapping around his neck. “Juggie?”

“Yeah?”

“Do you... remember what you asked me the night we-”

Jughead sat up a little straighter. “Of course I do, but baby, isn’t this one of the new-”

“No,” she cut him off. “everything I bought with Toni, Cheryl and Jellybean is in the wash. I had no choice but to wear one of my Alice Cooper approved outfits, underwear and all, today.”

“Betts,” his hands settled on her hips. “are you sure about this?”

“My shirt’s already ripped,” Betty shrugged. “I can’t wear it again, and I really hate this skirt, so... why not ruin them a little further?”

He didn’t need to be told twice, peeling his flannel from her body and tossing it aside. Gripping her sweater with both hands, he hesitated, waiting till she met his gaze.

“You sure?” Jughead demanded.

“Make me forget,” she whispered. “take all the bad memories away Juggie, please.”

He yanked, the fabric easily splitting into two halves, exposing her plain, cotton bra.

“Still trust me?”

“Always,” Betty said.

Shifting her off his lap, he rid her of her ruined sweater, feeling in his back pocket for his knife.

“Trust me Betts?”

Betty ran a hand across his face, smiling bravely.

“Always.”

Flipping the blade open, he slipped it under one strap of the ugly ultra-supportive brazier, letting it snap gently back against her pale skin as it broke apart. Grinning, he moved to the other strap, cutting it away too.

“Okay?” He asked, stamping a kiss to her mouth.

“More than,” Betty panted, thighs clenching together. “Get rid of it.”

Jughead’s eyes gleamed. “Say please,”

“P...Please Juggie?”

“Good girl,” he rasped, settling the knife between her breasts, just beneath the thin layer of fabric holding the cups together.

With a flick of his wrist, it fell away, exposing her breasts to the cool temperatures of the basement.

“Fuck baby,” his lips locked around her nipple, puckered, begging for attention. “I will never get tired of looking at you.”

Her hips involuntarily rocked as he switched to her other breast, palming the first one with his large hand.

“Baby,” Jughead chuckled. “are you gonna have a hard time staying still for me?”

Wanting to bait him further, she nodded.

He grinned, touching her cheek again as he stood, heading towards the dresser across from his bed. Returning seconds later, he held up a long, silk black tie.

“Arms behind your back,” Jughead directed, and she quickly complied, feeling him secure her wrists together, loose enough that she had some wiggle room, but not enough to break free on her own. “You’re a vision, angel.”

“Juggie,” She got on her knees, nodding to the couch. When he sat, she stumbled over to him, resting her head against his jean clad thigh. “Can I do something for you?”

His brows rose. “Like what?”

“Like... something?”

Jughead inhaled sharply, like he knew exactly what she was getting at. “Betts, you don’t have to...”

Betty batted her eyes at him. “Don’t you want me to?”

“Well yeah, but-”

“Then let me,” she said. “I want to Jug, after everything you’ve done for me...”

“Betts,” he cradled her face, looking serious. “baby, don’t feel like you owe me, ever.”

“I don’t feel like I owe you,” Betty replied, even though she did. She owed him everything. “I want to do this, Jughead, I want to return the favor.”

“Betty-”

“Let me do this for you, Jug,”

“Okay,” Jughead agreed, breathing heavy.

“Um,” she blushed, tugging at her restraints. “you might have to help me out a little.”

Almost grinning, Jughead rose, undoing his belt, freeing himself from the confinements of his jeans and boxers.

Betty gulped. He was huge.

“Baby,” concern dripped from his tone. “you don’t have to-”

It wasn’t easy, standing with her hands still bound behind her, pushing him back down on the couch before dropping to her knees for the second time.

Taking a deep breath to try and calm her racing heart, she started with a long, slow lick from the top to the bottom, teasing him with her tongue on the head the same way he’d tormented her nearly a week earlier.

“Fuck Betts,” Jughead murmured, tone strained. “Where... where did you learn how to do this?”

Betty smiled to herself, not quite ready to reveal her sources. A lengthy Google search after she was sure Penny had gone to bed, deleting her search history afterwards to further hide her secret. Jughead had rocked her world five times in a single night, she hoped to be able to do the same even once.

“Betty... fuck.”

She held his gaze, recalling how one article had told her to “keep eye contact”, that it created a connection, as if they didn’t already have one. Pulling back, she swirled her tongue around the head of his cock before bringing the base back into her mouth, reaching down her throat.

“Fuck!”

Confidence growing, Betty changed the pace, shallow sucks one moment and deeper ones the next. A moan escaped her lips, cheeks burning in embarrassment, but she kept going.

One hand had moved to fist her loose hair into an even looser ponytail, and by the way Jughead had begun thrusting his hips, holding her head steady, quivering all at once, she knew he was close.

“Fuck,” he growled again, wrenching away from her.

She wondered if she had done something wrong, though watched with wide eyes as he fisted his own cock. It only took a few strokes for him to reach his climax.

“Jug,” Betty whimpered. “why didn’t you-”

He reached around her, plucking out a few tissues to wipe away his mess, tucking himself in. Dropping down onto the couch with an exhausted sigh, he grabbed her around the waist, setting her on his lap.

“Fuck Betts,” he muttered, dragging his fingers through her hair. “really angel, where the fuck did you learn to do that?”

“Jug,”

“Yeah baby?”

“I don’t feel like talking right now,” Betty whispered, batting her eyes at him.

“Well,” Jughead was already lowering her down onto the couch, hovering his body above hers. “it’s only fair that I make you lose your mind now.”


She stared at herself in the mirror.

Her hair was flat, still damp from her shower, ends drying in soft waves around her shoulders. Her knees were still bloodied, sore, and would need to be bandaged up again. The scrape on her cheek looked a little better, but a bruise was forming just above it, further proving Toni’s point that there was no hiding this from her mother.

Betty bit her lip, fearing Penny’s reaction.

Her hand was still killing her, hurting her to even move it.

“Baby?”

She smiled softly, tugging his t-shirt down a little more even though it fell well past her mid thighs.

“You okay in there, angel?”

“I’m done,” Betty called back.

The door swung open.

“T brought you some stuff to sleep in,” Jughead put a baggy t-shirt and a pair of shorts on the counter, hands settling on her hips, lifting her up there too. Reaching into the medicine cabinet, he produced another roll of gauze before helping her change. “As cute as you look in my shirt, and you do look cute baby, I’m not sure our parents would agree.”

Applying Neosporin to the cuts on her knees, she winced, and he frowned, cradling her cheek in apology.

“How are you feeling, baby?”

“I’m okay,”

“How’s the hand?”

“It... hurts.”

Jughead sighed, gently pressing down on her bruised skin, causing her to hiss out in pain. “Sorry sweet thing. If it still hurts like this tomorrow, I might have to take you to the doctor.”

“If Penny doesn’t beat you to it,” Betty mumbled.

“She’s not gonna be happy,” he admitted, hooking an arm under her knees, the other sliding across her back, carrying her out of the bathroom. “because you got hurt Betts, not because you did anything wrong.”

“I shouldn’t have walked home,” she said, head falling to his shoulder.

Jughead mumbled something under his breath, laying her down on the bed. “Jesus Christ Betty.”

Her heart hammered inside of her chest, nails inching closer to her already cut up palms. What had she done now?

“Damn it,” he was acutely aware of every move she made, grabbing her wrists, mindful of her injured hand, holding them above her head. “don’t fucking do that, Betty.”

Her lip quivered.

“Fuck,” Jughead pulled her onto his lap, arms wrapping around her in a tight hold. “Baby, I’m sorry, I’m so fucking sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped at you.”

“I’m sorry Jug-”

“For fuck’s sake,” he growled, clamping a hand over her mouth. “don’t even finish that sentence, do you understand me Elizabeth?”

She nodded.

“Good girl,” Jughead grumbled, making her thighs clench together. Slowly, he dropped his hand, depositing her back on the bed beside him. “We need to talk. Now.”

Betty chewed on her bottom lip. “About what, Juggie?”

“Look,” he sighed, dislodging his beanie. “I know we haven’t talked about this since our first date, because I haven’t wanted to push you, baby, but you need to tell me.”

“T...Tell you what?”

“What it was like,” Jughead held her in place with a single look. “living with Alice Cooper.”