Being roommates with Betty is… interesting, to say the least. And not in a bad way. She’s tidy, she’s quiet, she pays her rent on time. They get along, have similar tastes in both film and food, and nothing is disastrous. For a random match roommate, Jughead could’ve been unluckier than Betty Cooper. All in all, it’s good.
Until one night, when everything changes.
A few days ago, she mentioned a party to him, one she wasn’t sure she wanted to go to. But then he offhandedly mentioned he’d go with her and she’d excitedly hugged him and Jughead really will do anything if it makes Betty Cooper happy. She made sure to ask him at least 14 times if he was sure, and every time, he replies with anything for you, Cooper, and an eye roll.
So on Friday evening, he gets dressed up in his best plaid shirt, and heads out to his first, and probably last, college house party.
When they arrive, he loses Betty almost immediately. She gets whisked away by who he assumes must be the one and only Veronica Lodge, leaving Jughead standing there with Veronica’s boyfriend and co-host for the evening, Archie Andrews.
Now, Jughead has met Archie before - they share psychology class and have been paired up a few times. He seems sweet enough, but none of their time spent together has ever been outside the walls of classroom 4b, so neither really knows what to say or do. It’s painfully awkward for both of them, and Jughead immediately regrets telling Betty he’d tag along.
He watches as Archie fiddles with his red cup, avoiding eye contact with him. A drink. That’d be a good idea, he thinks.
“I’m going to… get a drink,” he tells Archie, pointing vaguely in the direction of where he hopes is the kitchen.
“Oh! Let me show you, bro.”
Normally, Jughead would be quick to say no but tonight, he really does not want to be left alone at a party where he doesn’t think he knows anyone other than the man standing next to him and his own roommate, who he has no idea where she is. Therefore as an exception to his always say no to other people rule - the same rule he has already broken tonight by coming - he says, “Sure, man. Thanks,” in reply to Archie.
Archie weaves his way through what feels like hundreds of people towards the quieter kitchen. On the way, Jughead can’t help but look around in amazement at Veronica’s house. It’s everything and nothing like he expected from the few details Betty had told him about her. He knew that she’s rich, stupid rich, thanks to her parents, that she doesn’t live on campus like everyone else because Daddy bought her a house - this house - and that despite everything, she’s actually pretty nice. This is something Jughead has yet to agree or disagree on, and by the way things are going, he probably won’t get a chance to meet Veronica this evening. He also knows from Archie that they’ve been together since sophomore year of high school, and apparently, Betty is ‘the sister she never had’. So that’s… nice, Jughead thinks.
Archie points Jughead to the rather large collection of alcohol Veronica has no doubt ordered from the other side of the world just for a load of college students who are used to shitty $10 vodka. The bottles sit on a marble worktop in a three-toned grey kitchen bigger than the whole of Jughead’s childhood trailer. It’s amazing, but he can’t help but feel a pang of jealousy, mourning for something he never had growing up.
Archie’s voice cuts through his thoughts. “What would you like?” he asks politely, oblivious to Jughead’s internal monologue.
“Uh, is there any beer?”
Archie nods, blissfully unaware of Jughead’s almost blindingly tragic history with alcohol. He busies himself with collecting multiple bottles of beer from across the kitchen, leaving Jughead to stand watching him, mouth open slightly from the surprise that is Veronica Lodge and her extravagant ways.
“These are all the beers we have, take whatever you want,” Archie says casually. Jughead picks up one that he can see says 4%, deciding that staying as sober as possible is best for everyone, including himself.
He uses the shiny bottle opener Archie brought over to pop off the cap, pocketing it so he isn’t leaving a mess, and takes a sip. It tastes okay. Not great, but he’s realized over the years that alcohol never really tastes nice. This used to make him question why his dad ever started drinking in the first place, but since talking psychology, he knows addiction isn’t as straightforward as that.
“Thanks, man,” he tells Archie, trying to sound as light-hearted as possible.
Archie smiles. “What are you doing here anyway? I’ve never seen you at these kinds of things before.”
Usually, Jughead would feel the need to become defensive when someone insinuates something like that. Archie, though, seems to be one of life’s genuine people. From their shared classes, Jughead can see that he rarely means harm, and always has other people’s best interests in mind. Like Betty, he thinks. He can imagine them getting on very well. Both are kind beyond their means, both would do anything for those they love. In another world, he imagines they could’ve been childhood best friends turned sweethearts. Even with knowing just how much Archie loves Veronica, his blood boils at the thought.
“Betty wanted some company,” he shrugs. Simple and truthful.
Archie downs the rest of his drink, pouring himself another. He fills the cup halfway with Coca-Cola and the rest with vodka, making Jughead wonder how he’ll stomach such a strong drink. He sips his beer, deciding to stay away from the liquor, just like his past wants him to.
“Let’s try and find the girls,” Archie says, slurring his words slightly.
Jughead nods, trying to get the image of his drunken father out of his head. Archie isn’t like your father, he tells himself. Not every drunk person is like your father. He should’ve known it was a bad idea to come.
He follows Archie back out of the kitchen into what he thinks is an area completely designated to having house parties. It’s a huge room, mostly empty of furniture. A disco ball hangs down, becoming the central feature of the room. Colored lights dance across the floor, and a DJ station sits in the corner. On one wall, there’s a glass table covered in matching ceramic plates, filled with food. It’s Veronica Lodge so of course, it isn’t typical party food. Canapes and wait, is that caviar? Jughead is shocked. He’s never seen something so extortionate, especially for a bunch of college students. That’s Veronica, he supposes.
Archie obviously has a destination in mind as he carries on walking, not realizing that Jughead has stopped. He jogs to keep up, weaving through the dancing drunks. He’s led through the ‘party’ room and out the back of the house to the most magnificent garden. And of course, each sitting on what Jughead can only describe as hanging egg chairs is Veronica and Betty.
“Hey, babe,” Archie says, as he walks over to Veronica and plants a kiss on the top of her head.
“Archiekins! What are you doing out here? I told you we needed some private B and V time tonight.”
Jughead stands there awkwardly again, watching as Veronica and Archie engage in a slightly heated whisper discussion on what sounds like a previous agreement. Luckily, Betty is also there, seemingly feeling just as awkward as he is. He watches as she shifts around in her seat, eyes moving from the arguing pair to the ground to him. When her eyes get to him, he gives her a small smile. He can’t help but notice her blushing in response, and it makes him feel all fuzzy inside. Neither risk speaking though, instead somehow mutually deciding to wait until the pair beside them stop arguing.
They do. Eventually. Jughead hears a huff from Veronica and looks up to see her roll her eyes and fold her arms defiantly.
“Everything, uh, okay with you two?” Jughead questions, shifting from one foot to another.
“Yes. Everything’s fine,” Veronica insists.
“I’m going to-” Archie clears his throat, taking a sip of his overly strong drink. “Mingle with the guests,” he finishes. As he walks away, he gives the three of them a small wave. Jughead can’t quite figure out what just happened.
“So, you must be the famous Jughead,” Veronica says in an almost accusatory way.
Famous? The only way she’d know about him is through Betty, which suggests that… Oh. Betty must talk about him. A lot. He swallows. “Uh, yeah, that’s me.”
Veronica stares him up and down, leaning back slightly. He can tell that she’s judging everything about him, and it makes him feel terrible.
“Veronica, please leave Jughead alone,” Betty almost pleads with her.
“Don’t worry, Betty, I think I might…” He points behind him, back towards the house. He makes a split decision to quit while he’s ahead and just walks away without waiting for either of them to reply.
As he makes his way back towards the house, he hears Betty call after him. At the doors, he glances back to her and, seeing Veronica face away, he mouths see you later at Betty. She sends him a frown in reply, and then Veronica turns back and says something and she plasters on the trademarked Cooper fake smile, forcing her eyes away from him.
He feels a twinge of something as he walks away from Betty. Something he isn’t sure he’s ready to admit to himself. Something that the uncalled for jealousy from early may have stemmed from. Something he’s certain isn’t requited.
Walking back into the kitchen, Jughead passes a few drunk people. Everyone practically looks through him, and it makes him feel worthless. He’s spent most of his life feeling like this, but since living with Betty, since college, he’s felt better. She makes him feel appreciated, seen. But this environment, this party… He knew it was a bad idea.
With a sigh, he leans against the worktop that was probably more expensive than everything currently in his possession. He stares at the bottle of beer he’s only had a few sips of, and feels tears begin to build up in his eyes. Luckily, there’s no one in the room to see him cry, but regardless, he rapidly blinks to stop them. He can’t be the kid who cries at a house party, even if no one can see him.
Despite working for almost all of his teenage years on not becoming his father, the small amount of alcohol he’s had is making him believe that he’s already there. Deep down, he knows he isn’t, he’s nothing like his father. He got out of the gang that threatened to keep him in Riverdale for the rest of his life, he’s at college, he’s making a go of this thing they call life. But right now, everything feels like shit.
In an attempt to stop those thoughts, he storms over to the sink, angrily pouring the remainder of his bottle down it. He watches as it flows out of the bottle and spirals down the drain. It gives Jughead some comfort. It reminds him that he has the self-control that his father didn’t.
Once the bottle is empty, he slides it across the counter towards the rest of the empty ones. It hits two others, making a clattering sound. The noise makes him jump, even though he’s the one who made it.
He walks back over to the sink, turning on the cold tap. He lets the water flow for a moment, allowing it to get as cold as possible, before splashing some on his face. It’s a poor attempt at trying to pull himself together, which obviously fails. Of course, a splash of cold water isn’t going to magically make him feel better.
He turns the tap off, and sits on one of the barstools while he decides what to do. He leans his head forward into his hands and rubs his eyes until he sees stars. It does nothing in helping him feel better, but he does it anyway. He keeps his head in his hands when he hears footsteps and someone entering the room. Staying as still as possible like it will change if they see him, he focuses on evening out his breathing. He closes his eyes and counts. One, two, three, four…
In the background, he can hear the pouring of liquids. He assumes someone is making a drink, and that they won’t interact with him now. Then, he hears footsteps getting quieter, and he breathes a sigh of relief, removing his head from his hands. Glancing around quickly, his suspicions are confirmed when no one else is in the room.
A giant clock on one wall of the kitchen tells him that it’s only 10 pm, around an hour since he and Betty arrived. He promised Betty that he’d stay for at least 2 hours, and she promised him that after that time, she’d leave with him whenever he wanted. If he wanted to keep that promise and go home with Betty, he’s got at least another hour to wait it out. And he does.
Usually, a Jughead who is feeling okay and who knows there is free food in the other room would go and eat as much as he could. Today, though, Jughead does not want to eat any of the free food and definitely does not want to go into the main party room. So he stays in the kitchen, alone and upset.
He knows he could find Betty. She can usually say or do something that makes him feel slightly better. Or at least smile. And he knows that she’s somewhere in this house. Half of him says that she won’t mind, but the other half of him - the half who wins - doesn’t want to ruin her evening.
He doesn’t move, he doesn’t find Betty or Archie or anyone else who would be willing to talk to him. Instead, he thinks about Betty.
It’s weird, really, Jughead thinks. Considering he rarely talks to other people, Betty knows a lot about him. Somehow, he’s told her about his mother leaving when he was 10, being homeless for a while in high school, and being in a gang, and she never judged him for it. But he’s never had the courage to tell her about his father. It’s been the biggest issue in his life for years, and even though she’s been nothing but supportive since day one, he hasn’t managed to tell her yet. He thought coming here tonight might help him bury some of that baggage, but now he’s stuck wishing he could be at home sharing a blanket with Betty while they watch a horror film.
She’s told him things too. He thinks that’s part of the reason they get on so well: the mutual understanding of each other’s shitty lives. Plus the unconditional support they offer each other. It’s something he didn’t expect when starting college, to find such an amazing friend. That’s not what he set out to do. He’s a self-proclaimed loner, and all he ever aimed to do was get as far away from Riverdale as possible. He did that, but he just happened to find Betty Cooper along the way.
He knows what they have with their friendship is special. Starting off as random roommates, anything could’ve happened. But he’s been lucky. He was lucky to be paired with her, and he was lucky that she was persistent enough to get him to open up to her. She’s made this whole college thing a lot less daunting than it could’ve been, and he’ll forever be grateful to her. But stupidly, he wants more. He won’t explicitly admit his feelings to himself, but he can acknowledge that he’ll never be lucky enough to have Betty Cooper. He thinks she deserves better, better than a trailer park kid with multiple lifetimes worth of wounds.
A voice from behind him brings him back to reality, back to hiding in the kitchen at a house party of some girl he barely knows. All because he wants to make his roommate happy.
“Jughead. Reggie said there was a weirdo in my kitchen,” Veronica half-announces.
Jughead snaps his head around to look at her. “Uh, yeah, just taking a moment.”
“Never mind that,” she dismisses, walking over and sitting on the barstool next to him. “A little birdy told me that you may have something to tell Betty.”
“Who? What? No. I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he snaps, more defensively than strictly necessary. He knows what she’s suggesting, but he cannot work out how she’d possibly know. He won’t even fully admit it to himself, let alone anyone else. So how can Veronica know?
He tries to avoid her gaze, but her eyes don’t move off of his, even when she takes a sip of her drink. “Hm. Interesting,” she decides.
He sighs. “Veronica, what do you want?”
“Oh, Jughead, I just want my Betty to be happy.” She smiles sweetly, as if it’s so simple.
“And what does that have to do with me?”
“Archiekins has… mentioned a few things about you,” she says, poking him in the shoulder with a perfectly manicured nail.
Jughead stays silent, trying to work out what Archie possibly could’ve known in regards to any feelings he may or may not have towards his roommate. He thinks back to the few times they’ve been paired up, and the times afterward that they’ve sat together in class. He can’t, for the life of him, work it out. He tells her as much. “I have no idea what you’re on about.”
She chuckles. “For someone that doesn’t talk much, when you do, it sure is revealing.”
“What does that mean?” He can’t help but sound so defensive. It’s something he’s learned to do over the years.
“You talk about Betty. A lot.”
He lets out an empty laugh. “And? She’s my only friend, I don’t have anyone else to talk about.”
“You see, Archie and I seem to think you like Betty.”
Fuck. “Yes. As I said, she’s my friend.”
His attempts to crawl out of the hole he’s dug for himself fails, and Veronica sees right through him. “Like as more than a friend.”
He stares at a painting in the corner of the room, avoiding Veronica and her icy glare. He doesn’t reply. He can’t. If he does, he’ll dig himself further into this hole, so much so that he’ll never get out. Or he’ll tell her. But that would make it real. That would mean he’s admitted it to himself.
Noises of Veronica standing up forces him to look at her. She sends him a soft smile, something he wasn’t sure she had in her. Placing her hand on his shoulder, she says, “For the record, I think you should go for it,” as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. And with that, she’s gone without a trace.
Jughead stays sitting there for a moment, again feeling unsure of what’s just happened. He can hear the party drone on in the background, which doesn’t lend to the type of thinking and self-reflection Jughead needs to do right now, so he makes the split decision to leave. It probably makes him a bad friend to leave without Betty, but he can’t stay here any longer. Not in this environment, and especially after what Veronica just told him.
He jumps up out of his seat, carelessly leaving the stool in the way as he speeds out the kitchen on a mission. He enters the main party room, the spinning lights making him feel disoriented and dizzy. Pausing for a moment, he tries to ground himself. He looks down at his hands, wiggling his fingers, he notes the sound of the too-loud music, and takes a deep breath. In his eye line, he spots who he’s looking for.
“Archie!” he calls as he rushes towards him, weaving through the oblivious crowd.
Archie, who is now nursing a bottle instead of a red cup, looks mildly shocked when he turns to face Jughead. “Hey, man,” he says, unsure.
His uncertainty puts Jughead on edge. One of his hands finds its way up to fiddle with a strand of hair that’s fallen out of his beanie. It’s something he subconsciously does when he’s nervous. Betty’s called him out for it multiple times, reassuring him that it’s endearing, not weird like he insists. He catches himself doing it, and the thought of her makes him smile.
“Uh,” Archie says with a cough. “You okay, bro?”
Jughead drops his hand and drops his smile. “Yeah, sorry, man. Look, uh, I was meant to be waiting for Betty, but I’m going to have to get going now. So I was wondering if you could keep an eye on her, help her get home safe? That kind of stuff…”
“Of course,” Archie replies immediately, looking less puzzled.
He smiles. “Thank you. I’ll see you in class on Monday.”
“It was nice to see you, Jug.”
Jughead offers him another smile, and waves as he walks off and towards the door. He hopes that he seemed as appreciative as he is towards Archie - because Archie is a good person and he thinks that maybe he could call him a friend.
Pausing at the front door, he second-guesses himself for leaving Betty here, so as a way of making himself feel better for it, he texts her.
J: Didn’t want to disturb you and Veronica, but just letting you know I’m heading home now. Ring me if you need anything. Hope you enjoy the rest of the night. See you later, Betts.
He presses send, and leaves without looking back.
The walk from Veronica’s to his and Betty’s is only about 10 minutes. It’s quite cold out, a stark opposite from the heat of the party, but it’s pleasant. He tries not to think about the evening, instead walking fast, just wanting to get back to the comfort of his own space. He focuses on the few stars that are visible tonight, he focuses on the hum on the world, and he focuses on breathing.
He arrives home in record time, unlocking the door with slightly shaky, numb hands. He quickly shuts it behind him, and leans against it, taking a deep breath of relief. With that, he feels his phone start to vibrate in his pocket. Leaning his head back, he closes his eyes for a moment, before deciding he should at least see who it is.
Reluctantly, he pulls his phone out of his pocket and glances down at the screen.
Betty, the display says.
Jughead scrambles to answer it before it stops ringing, but his fingers won’t cooperate. He curses the cold and curses himself for not owning gloves, before finally, the touchscreen recognizes his touch and allows him to slide to answer.
“Betty?” he asks as if he didn’t know it was her. His voice is full of worry, and he is quick to regret leaving her alone at the stupid party.
“Juggie?” she replies, mirroring him.
He smiles, even though she can’t see him. “Hey, Betts. You okay?”
“Yes, well, kind of. I just got your text. Why did you leave?”
He’s surprised when she doesn’t sound drunk, or even tipsy, on the phone. Perhaps she’s good at hiding it, or perhaps she hasn’t been drinking. The thought makes him relax slightly, feeling less worried about her now he thinks she isn’t crazy-drunk.
“It, uh, it got a bit much for me,” he says, thinking the half-truth is better than completely lying to her. “I’m sorry for leaving you, Betty.”
She sighs. “It’s okay, Jug, I just wish you would’ve found me - I would’ve gone home with you.”
Of course she would’ve. Betty would do anything for him, he knows this, but that’s why he got Archie to tell her instead of doing it himself. She would’ve insisted she accompanied him home, and he wasn’t about to ruin her evening.
“I know you would’ve, I know…” he whispers. “But you deserve to have a nice evening with your friends without worrying about me.”
“Jug, you are my friend.” He can visualize the frown she most likely has on her face when saying this. It's the one he’s seen many times before whenever he says something self-deprecating. She doesn’t like it, so he tries not to, but sometimes it just slips out.
“Betty…” he breathes.
She’s quick to cut him off. “I want to come home now, anyway. I think Kevin said he would walk back with me.”
He smiles. He smiles so stupidly big at the thought of her coming home to him soon. “Okay. I’ll be waiting for you.”
“I’ll see you soon, Juggie.”
They exchange goodbye’s and she promises him to text once she’s managed to get away from Veronica so he knows she’s on the way. In reality, it’s so he knows when to expect her, so if she’s taking too long, he knows to go and look for her, but he won’t tell her that. He doesn’t want her thinking he’s too overprotective of her, although he is.
Jughead spends the next 10 minutes sitting on their shared sofa with some shitty Netflix film playing in the background. His phone is face up on his lap, and he spends most of the time not even pretending to watch the film, just staring at the black of his phone screen, waiting for that text.
After those 10 agonizing minutes, he manages to convince himself that she’s just gotten caught up with Veronica, and instead, he casts his mind to the events of the evening. Specifically, the little conversation he had with Veronica.
For the record, I think you should go for it.
That’s what she’d told him. Betty’s best friend. (Betty’s other best friend, he bitterly tells himself.) The person who knows Betty maybe even better than he does. And she told him that she wants Betty to be happy.
But he worries that he’s putting the two together and coming up with the wrong answer. He’s denied himself of feeling this something towards her since the day they got put together as roommates, always convincing himself that there’s no way she’d ever feel the same, and now faced with the possibility that she might, he has finally realized that he needs to stop denying himself.
Suddenly, he stands up, rushing to the bathroom. He stops at the mirror and stares at himself in it. He looks at his messy hair, mostly hidden under his security beanie, and tired eyes, and asks himself if he looks like someone Betty Cooper would deserve. Immediately, he thinks no, but he can see that same frown he visualized earlier. So he stops. He can’t do something that would make her unhappy, he just can’t.
Instead, he tells the truth.
“I’m falling for Betty,” he tells his reflection, uncertainty in his voice overpowering. “I have a crush on Betty. I really like Betty.”
He tells himself these things in different words over and over until the part of him that’s so stuck on denying it starts to listen and believe it.
He starts smiling as he says it, and he stops criticizing every part of him. He begins to be able to see that she might like him too, that he doesn't have to be scared.
When his phone vibrates, he’s more certain than ever before that he likes Betty Cooper, but more so, he’s certain that he’s going to tell her. Walking out of the bathroom with a slight spring in his step and an uncharacteristic smile on his face, he sinks down onto the sofa, and removes his phone from his pocket. As expected, a text from Betty awaits.
B: On the way home now - see you in 10!
Of course, his smile turns into a toothy grin, and he quickly sends her a few emojis he knows she’ll enjoy, before throwing his phone on the sofa next to him. He spends the next 10 minutes nervously fiddling with the blanket she keeps on the back of the sofa, and trying not to get excited to see her again. Failing, he feels like a teenage boy with a stupid crush, and that makes him think that if their childhoods had intertwined, he would’ve been a teenage boy with a stupid crush. But this way, he has a shot at not messing things up. As a teenager, there would’ve been no chance. Now, he has hope.
The sound of a key opening the door snaps him out of this trance, and nerves set in. He’s unsure of how he’s going to react to see her for the first time since accepting his feelings, but ultimately, he reminds himself that it’s just Betty - no different from any other day.
He hears her close the door with a sigh, watching the corridor, waiting for her to walk in.
“Hey, Jug!” she calls, footsteps echoing towards him.
As she enters their shared living room, Jughead almost swallows his tongue. He’d forgotten that she was dressed up in a long yellow dress that practically made her glow. Swallowing thickly, he manages to get out a hey.
“You okay?” she asks as she sits down next to him.
He blinks rapidly. “Yes, yeah, sorry. How was the party?”
They chat like normal for a few minutes about the party, and Jughead almost forgets about his promise to himself. It hits him like a ton of bricks that he almost accidentally tells her mid-conversation. When she excuses herself to the bathroom, he takes a moment to compose himself. Taking a deep breath, he removes his beanie, deciding that wherever their next conversation may go, he can’t wear the beanie from his childhood.
Hearing the bathroom door open, Betty comes into view. “Do you want anything while I’m up?” she asks, wandering around their small kitchen.
“No, thanks,” Jughead replies.
She pours herself a glass of water, placing it on the coffee table, before flopping down beside him. She ends up half-laying on him, head resting on his shoulder. Her close proximity makes his heart speed up, and he wants nothing more than to kiss her. But first, he has to face something else.
“Hey, Betts?” he asks, earning a hum in response. “I’m sorry for leaving the party early.”
She sits up, removing her head from his shoulder, and looks around at him. “It’s okay. I was just worried about you, that’s all.”
“I… The environment got a bit much for me.” He avoids her eyes, instead staring at a loose thread on the carpet.
“I’m sorry,” she sighs. “I know parties aren’t really your scene, I shouldn’t have let you come.”
He looks up to see her frowning, and he instantly feels bad, deciding that now would be the right time to tell her the truth. “No, no, it’s not that.” He stops, frowning himself.
“What is it, Juggie?” Her voice is full of concern, her eyes mirroring the same emotion.
“My dad’s an alcoholic,” he tells her in a quiet voice.
She doesn’t say anything yet, just watches him with sadness in her eyes, waiting for him to continue.
“When I was younger, I had to look after him when he passed out, made sure he wasn’t going to choke, that kind of thing. He was an angry drunk a lot of the time, and eventually, it forced me out of the trailer. That’s when I lived at school for a while.” He pauses, rubbing his face with his hands with a sigh. “That’s why I’m… hesitant, I suppose, around alcohol and people drinking.”
She rests her hand on his thigh in a comforting way - a distracting comfort - and looks at him. “I- I’m so sorry, Jug. I don’t know what to say…”
He smiles. “It’s okay, it really is. It’s just, it can sometimes still affect me, but luckily, he’s doing a lot better now. We have a lot of work to do to recover our relationship, but he’s trying, you know?”
“That’s really good to hear,” she says, smiling back at him.
He places his hand atop hers. “When I started college, I was so lost. I didn’t know how I was meant to get through it. But then you were here and I found my way. If it wasn’t for you, I’d still be so lost. I’m so glad we got put together as random roommates, Betty.”
The sentiment makes her eyes fill up with tears. She flips her hand around so she can thread their fingers together. “Jug, I’m so grateful for you. Maybe fate brought us together.”
He basically falls apart on the spot at her words, squeezing her hand as he tries not to cry. Deciding not to speak, he pulls her into a half-hug, planting a gentle kiss on the side of her head. He lets go of her hand so he can properly embrace her. She makes a small whine of disapproval but is quick to sigh contently when he wraps his arms around her.
I love you, he wants to tell her, I think I always have on some level. And I think I always will.
Nerves once again get the better of him and instead, he whispers “Do you want to watch a film?” in her ear.
She pulls back and he feels the loss more than he’d admit, but then she has a cheeky grin on her face and he finds himself smiling back. “My choice?” she asks, hopeful.
Jughead just rolls his eyes, nodding and gesturing towards the TV remote. She leans down, grabs it, and starts scrolling through Netflix. She stops on a Friends episode they’ve already seen, pressing play and leaning back to cuddle into him.
About 10 minutes into the episode, his mind starts to wander again. All he can focus on is the weight and warmth of Betty on him. One of his hands finds its way to her hair - loose from its usual ponytail - and he strokes it gently. The whole image of them cuddling in practically the middle of the night while watching a rerun of Friends is so domestic and it’s exactly what Jughead wants his future to look like. Only then, he will have finally admitting his feelings to her, so there’ll be kissing involved too.
That night, they fall asleep cuddled up on the sofa, the TV playing quietly in the background.
Early the following morning, Jughead wakes up confused. The sun is shining through the dusty curtains right into his eyes, Netflix is displaying a are you still watching? notice on the TV, and his left arm is dead as Betty is curled up still fast asleep. At first, he can’t work out where he is, but then he remembers the situation: they fell asleep late last night cuddling.
His face lights up with a smile when she lets out a small snore, unintentionally wiggling closer to him. Not wanting to disturb her, he manages to carefully extract the sofa blanket from behind them, draping it over them both. He’s warm and comfortable and just feels completely in love with Betty, so he savors the moment and allows himself to fall back asleep.
It’s two hours later when he wakes up again. Betty is still curled up next to him, but he can tell from her breathing that she’s no longer asleep. The TV has been turned off, and the blanket tucked up around his neck. He takes a moment to enjoy the situation, before making Betty aware of his awake status.
“Hey,” he croaks, voice still thick with sleep.
“Mmm, morning, Juggie,” she sighs contently, voice also thick with sleep.
He smiles even though she can’t see, and risks wrapping his arms around her, cuddling even tighter than last night. She allows it, closing her eyes with a content hum.
“You’re so cute when you’re half asleep like this,” he murmurs without realizing.
She doesn’t seem to mind his sleepy forwardness, whispering back, “And so are you, Juggie.”
They stay cuddling for a while, both in an equal state of sleepy haziness. Jughead lays in his bubble of love and affection, hopeful that this is something they can continue once he does tell her about these feelings. All he can do is hope.
Betty starts moving around, indicating that she wants to get up. Jughead holds her tighter, mumbling words of debate to her, trying to get her to stay with him. She does for a while, but eventually, she sits up, staring down at him.
“C’mon, lazy. It’s almost 11, we gotta get up.” She moves the usual strand of his hair from his eyes, looking at him with a look he can only describe as adoration.
“I promise we’ll get up properly soon,” he smiles, sitting up next to her, and rearranging the blanket over their laps. “But there’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”
She furrows her eyebrows. “What’s wrong, Jug?”
“Nothing, no, I just-” He swallows nervously, avoiding her eyes, and in a split-second decision, the words come tumbling out of his mouth. “I really like you, Betty. Like, in a more than just friends kind of way.”
Betty grins so hard her face almost splits in two. “I really like you, too.”
His eyes snap to hers. “Really?”
“Yes, really, Jug.”
Now his grin matches hers. “Betty, can I… can I kiss you?”
“Please,” she breathes.
That’s all the confirmation he needs to move forward and press his lips to hers. He cups her face, putting all of his emotions towards her in it, hoping he conveys his feelings. She kisses back with equal emotion, and it’s better than he’d ever allowed himself to imagine. Her hands hold onto his arms as they continue kissing, and Jughead never wants it to stop.
After a few minutes, they both pull back for air, unable to stop the grins that mirror each other.
“Wow,” he whispers, threading their fingers together.
“Wow indeed,” she replies, squeezing gently.
For the rest of the weekend, Betty and Jughead spend it enjoying their first moments as a couple. They cuddle in bed, they steal kisses when possible, but most importantly, they’re together.
Having Betty Cooper as a roommate is definitely a good thing.