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Strawberry Wine

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Prologue:   

Betty looked out at the overgrown sunflower fields. She let the late September wind fill her lungs as her low pony swung gently at the base of her neck. She folded her arms and hugged her cardigan closer to her body. She sat against the dead grass and wiped her hands on her thighs. She hummed as her thermos met her lips and her throat filled with warmth from her apple cider.   

There wasn’t anything that time hadn’t touched, and she realized just how long it’d been since she’d been back to the farm. She thought back to a few of the memories she’d stored away through time. Betty tucked her bangs behind one of her ears. She buried herself in her writing and didn’t hear the light shuffle of horse hooves sneak up behind her.   

“Excuse me, Miss...” A husky voice caused her to jump. “This is private property-” Betty couldn’t believe the midnight blue eyes that were staring back at her as she slowly closed the journal in her lap. “Betty?”   

“Jughead...”   

 

Chapter 1:   Past- "The Summer That Started It All" 

Caught somewhere between a woman and a child, seventeen-year-old Betty Cooper was a growing wildflower. She’d just graduated high school and decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to spend the summer with her grandfather at his sunflower farm in Georgia. She hadn’t been in a few years and she’d forgotten just how different the small country town was from her usual rural Riverdale, New York.   

Betty threw herself back on the mattress held up by the rickety metal frame. The squeak ing caused her to cringe and she folded her hands together over her belly. The air surrounding her was so effortlessly quiet and she wasn't sure how her grandfather ever got used to it. It was peaceful, sure. But it also seemed so lonely and she thought that the silence might just swallow her up. A sudden knock at her bedroom door caused her to startle and she sat up quickly.   

“Breakfast is ready, dear.” Her grandfather said through the door.   

“Be right there, Pop.” Betty said as she planted her feet on the old oak floors. She looked at herself in the mirror for a moment, her pale-yellow sundress looked washed out by her pale skin and the morning sun that invaded the windows of the room. She pushed her blonde hair behind her ears and picked a piece of loose wallpaper.   

Betty was spunky and carefree. Some might even describe her as sassy. But wasn’t everyone that grew up in rural New York? City life seemed to suit her, yet she never shied away from her visits to the country. She was thankful that her sister and brother had decided to stay back home this time around. Although, Betty had always been her grandfather's favorite and even he'd admit that.   

She’d decided that she was going to use the summer with her grandfather to establish a plan for her future. She was supposed to attend college in the upcoming fall, but even the thought terrified her. She was nearly eighteen, but was it really practical to know exactly what you wanted to do with the rest of your life at that age? Her mother had been harping on her for the last few months prior to graduation and she thought she might explode. Even though Betty knew that her mother was right. Frankly, Betty had no idea what she wanted to do with her future and perhaps a couple relaxing months, alone, at her grandfather's farm was exactly what she needed.   

 

It was at breakfast that morning when she saw him for the first time. He’d been hauling hay from the bed o f an old picking truck. The morning sun illuminated his sweat glistening skin and when he pulled his tank top up to wipe his brow, he revealed the most beautiful set of abs that she’d ever seen. Not quite chiseled, but lean, nonetheless. She thought her mouth had to have gone slack. Betty wasn’t sure how she managed to hold on to the grape jelly covered toast in her left hand.   

“Umm, Pop?” Betty spoke incredulously  

“Yeah, dear?”   

“Who’s that?” She pointed sheepishly out the window and Pop seemed to let out a soft chuckle.   

“Hmm, I was wondering when you’d notice... That’s Jughead.” Pop told her, not meeting her eyes once.   

“I’m sorry, who?” Betty said with uneasy eyes. “Jug-head?” She pronounced each syllable separately  

“Jughead Jones... He goes to college two towns over. He put an ad out a couple of months ago stating that he was looking for summer work. Lately I’ve been needing some extra help around here- I just can’t keep up like I used to. So, I figured why not...” Pop shrugged before taking a bite of egg in his mouth. Betty glanced out the window once more and couldn’t help but drink him in. She’d never been one for country boys, but it might just be her new vice. “He’s living in the barn- pretty nice guy.”   

“He’s what? He lives here?” Betty almost choked on her orange juice at her grandfather ’s omission.   

“Through the summer sweetheart, yes.” Pop just shook his head with a laugh as Betty glanced out the window once more to examine Jughead.   

 

Jughead Jones, 20 and smoldering. He’d had a rough raising to say at best and honestly, he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do with his life. All he knew was he couldn’t stay with his father in small town in Ohio. So, when he started applying to colleges as a high school senior, he’d played it safe. He applied to local schools but decided to send some applications away just for fun- and when Millwood University in Georgia graciously accepted his application along with an academic scholarship, Jughead couldn’t think of anything other than fate must’ve intervened. Sure, he was smart, but he didn’t think his grade point average was scholarship worthy by any means. But he left on a flight from Ohio to Georgia a little over two years ago and he never looked back. Very rarely did he speak to his father. He tried to stay in Millwood as much as he could, but he needed work and all the jobs were pretty much taken for in the small college town, so he decided to put an ad out at some of the local stores. And when Pop Cooper had called him up, offered him work and a place to stay for the summer, Jughead thought he’d have to be mental not to accept it.   

 

Betty gathered some of her things from her bedroom and then made her way outside. The late June day was scolding, but lucky for her she’d always been one for the outdoors. It also gave her a good opportunity to kick start a tan before the Fourth. She rested herself against some of the large hay bales that leaned against the barn. She’d pulled back her hair in order to keep the wind at bay, but her ponytail still flickered in her peripheral vision with the breeze . Jughead was busy doing something with her granddad’s pickup truck. Bertha as the family had always called her. He was under the hood and she could see trace amounts motor oil streaked across the abdomen of his white tank. She had every intention of writing in the journal she held her lap. Along with the black pen that she basically held in a death grip in her right hand.   

It was almost as if Jughead could sense her watching him because although he didn’t seem to notice her walk out of the house and sit against the bales, he’d look up and back occasionally as she sat there. They’d catch eyes for a split second before Betty’s would snap her neck back into her lap. She swore she could see him smile every once in a while, but she also thought that it could all be in her head. She kept telling herself to snap out it. Jesus, he didn’t even know that she existed past the strange girl watching him get sweaty under the hood of a pickup truck. But something about him kept drawing her in, she couldn’t quite put her finger on it- and honestly, she didn’t know if she wanted to.   

 

Then, Jughead stood up straight. He wiped his brow and dirty hands with a towel that he’d had attached to his belt loop.  He looked back at her and she looked down quickly once more. She could hear him let out a small laugh and she couldn’t help but bite her bottom lip with a smile as well. She pushed some fly away hair behind her ear and snuck a look at him again. He was walking toward her and sudden butterflies seemed to abrupt in her belly. What the hell?   

“You must be the granddaughter that Pop’s been telling me so much about...” He muttered. His voice was much huskier than she imagined and when it invaded her ears goosebumps rose on her pale skin, regardless of the smoldering heat around them.   

“You uh- You call him Pop?” Betty questioned. She wasn’t quite sure what made her ask him that, but frankly she couldn’t think of anything else in the moment.   

“Per his request of course.” Jughead explained to her with a light laugh. He had gorgeous teeth as they flickered at her through his giggling grin.   

“Oh, of course...” Betty muttered back cheekily. There she was. Her personality was cheeky, she was cute, and she knew it- and used it.   

“I’m uh- I'm Jughead.” He held a slightly dirty hand out to her, and Betty looked at it and back to his blue eyes before she took it.   

“Betty.” She told him. She didn’t want to be cliché, but she wasn’t she what she felt when the skin of their hands touched. His rough with her soft, it was almost comforting  

“You write?” Jughead muttered, gesturing to the journal in her lap. Betty glance down to her lap before clasping the hard binding closer to her body. She jumped up from the hay bale she was sitting on, Jughead moving slightly to allow her to get down.   

“I do.” She nodded. “I love it actually.”   

“And I thoroughly enjoy that.” He muttered awkwardly. “Gives you a little bit of substance.”   

“Thank you?” Betty looked at him with uneasy and confused eyes, cocking her head to the left. He just laughed nervously, understanding that what he said is not what he meant. “What are you doing with Bertha?” Betty asked suddenly, needing to break the sudden built tension.   

“Ahh,” Jughead turned his heel up and shoved both of his hands in his pockets. He began walking toward the said truck. “Tune ups for now.” He said to her, looking at her as they walked closer. “Something is wrong with the rotors I think, I’m not sure yet...” Betty just nodded at him. “Pop said if I can get it running right, I can take it back to Millwood next semester.”   

“Oh, he did now?” Betty ran her hand along the rust stained teal painted metal on the hood. “Why would he do such a thing? He loves this truck. It’s been in our family for generations.”   

“He’s got that new one,” Jughead gestured toward the front of the farmhouse. “He said he’s not really using her anymore and if I can use it- it’s better than it growing more rust in the shed.” Jughead let out a small laugh and toyed with some bolt.   

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Betty shrugged. “Maybe I could help?”   

“You know about trucks?” Jughead asked her incredulously  

“Well...” Betty began. “No, I mean not really.” Her shoulders rose and she gave him a teeth clenched smile. Jughead just laughed and shook his head at her.   

Jughead seemed to look around and leaned down to pick up a wrench from the toolbox he had sitting on the ground next to the truck’s tire. He handed it to her, and Betty took it from him with an unsure smile.   

“I’m sure you know how to twist bolts...” He said to her. Betty rolled her eyes playfully at him before nodding. “You can work on taking the cover off that.” He gestured to a plastic piece under the hood and Betty bounced happily before leaning over. Jughead just shook his head with a laugh at her.   

“So...” Betty began. “You go to Millwood?”   

“I do.” He told her. “I think I’m studying business.”   

“You think?” Betty snickered, which made him laugh. “Aren’t you a second year?”   

“I’m not sure how I feel about a stranger knowing so much about me...” He quizzed her. He watched as the blush rose in her cheeks as she tried to continue wrenching off the bolts.   

“What can I say?” She shrugged without meeting his eyes. “Pop talks a lot...”   

“Now that,” Jughead returned to his work. “That we can agree on.” Betty laughed softly and glanced at him.   

Man , the boy was cute. She might even say that he was hot. He stood again wiping his hands, cocking his head to look at her.   

“Can I show you something?” He asked her. Betty looked at him with doe eyes and took a moment before she nodded at him. “Come on.” He muttered nodding his head in the direction of the stable barns.   

 

Betty followed him to the stables, her walk timid as they walked inside the open doors. Betty immediately recognized her old horse Pepper. Pop had gotten Pepper for her and Polly when they were just kids and Betty felt bad for not entirely remembering her. Pepper was jet black with a white neck and chest, she looked majestic and beautiful just as Betty had remembered. Pepper had her snout peeking out from the stable gates; Betty ran up to the gate past Jughead, muttering the horses name. She gasped as her hand met Pepper’s face.  

“That’s Beauty.” Jughead said as he met up next to Betty. There was the tiniest pony standing on wobbly legs next to Pepper. “ She’s only a week old.” Jughead rubbed a hand on Peppers side. Betty tried not to breathe as Jughead’s glistening skin was so close her senses. “P op told me about Pepper when I got her e , little did we know that the neighbor s stallion up the street had gotten out last summer and ole Pepper here was due any day.” Jughead said with a soft laugh.   

“Oh, my goodness,” Betty muttered, still petting Pepper’s snout. She didn’t realize how much she missed her horse. “She’s so cute.”   

Jughead reached up and unlatched the gate, pulling it open while Betty moved back. He stepped inside onto the hay covered floor as Beauty wobbled over to him, shaking her head through a snort. Betty cou ld tell that the foal had taken to Jughead on instinct and it was admirable. He rubbed a gentle hand over Beauty’s small neck. Betty stood there and watched him and Jughead looked back up at her and smiled.   

 He slipped a bottle into Beauty’s mouth as Betty just observed him. Beauty began to suck vigorously, and Betty let out a small laugh. Half amused and half out of unsureness what to do in the moment. “Here.” Jughead muttered softly after a moment with the nudge of his chin.  

“What?” His voice breaking Betty from her own stupor.   

“Come here.” He said once more. He took her hand; the stable was small and he guided her to switch him places. His hands on her skin made Betty hold her breath. His showed her where to put her arms and replaced his fingers with her own on Beauty’s bottle. He stepped away after a moment and just looked at her taking in the small foal. Betty brushed her hand down Beauty’s side and her other hand held the bottle that shook vigorously in Beauty’s mouth. Her eyes didn’t leave the pony and she pet her gently.   

“Doesn’t the mom usually feed them?” Betty asked him softly.   

“Usually...” He said as his hand stroked down Pepper’s side. “But it doesn’t hurt to give mama a break... It’s also pretty fun to feed her, right?” He ended in a small laugh.   

“She’s so tiny...” Betty looked over her. She appeared to be jet black just like her mother, but light brown seemed to peek above each of her feet, no doubt from her father . “Her legs look like they have little socks on them...” She said with a chuckle.   

“I know right...” Jughead laughed with her, glancing at Beauty’s legs. “Damn men.” He rolled his eyes playfully and Betty laughed again.   

His smile made her stomach flop like it full of swirling butterflies. He nerves were strangled in her throat and she couldn't what she was feeling, it was insane. S h e quickly un derstood that avoiding him was her only choice if she didn’t want to make a fool of herself.   

“Since you seem to think you know so much about me...” Jughead grabbed a bucket for himself and sat down outside the gate of the stall. “Tell me about you, Betty.”  

“What do you mean?” Betty asked him.   

“Exactly what I said...” he seemed to laugh.   

“Um, okay-” Betty muttered nervously. “I’m not sure what to say.” She shrugged at him.   

“You just graduated right?” He asked her. Betty looked up from Beauty and nodded to him. “Any plans for college?”   

“I uh, I’m supposed to be taking this summer to figure that out...”   

“Oh...”   

“But I think I’m leaning toward English Lit...”   

“Smart girl...” He told but in all honesty all he could think about was how hard it be for her to start a career with a degree like that.   

“I just...” Betty said, sounding slightly exasperated; as if she were about to get something off her chest. “ Never mind , it’s stupid.”   

“No, tell me...” Jughead prompted her, she nodded her head solemnly at him, wishing she’d never said anything. “Betty...” Her eyes slowly rose to meet his once more. “Nothing you say is stupid.”   

She felt palpable energy between them once more. Glints sparked in both of their eyes and Betty took a moment to clear her throat and break the sudden and unexpected tension.   

“Jughead...” Betty spoke softly, hating how her voice caught in her throat.   

“Betty!” Pop burst their bubble as they heard him yelling from the house. Betty glanced to the opening of the stable, startled in the moment. The bottle fell from Beauty’s mouth as she stood and looked back at Jughead.   

“Go,” he ushered her, standing himself. “I got it.” She nodded and made a step to move past him. Their proximity caused her chest to brush eve r so slightly against his and her breath caught in her throat. He placed a calloused hand on her shoulder to steady them and allow her to pass. She thought she might faint when his skin touched hers. The heaviness in the whole moment made her head spin and she wanted it to jus t swallow her up.   

 

“Woah...” She spoke as she walked back to the house. A shaky hand met her forehead in attempt to steady herself as she looked back at the stables.   

Who was this guy? And what was he doing to her?  

Chapter Text

“Just put it on my desk!” Betty nearly snapped. She threw her hands up in frustration, utterly exasperated. She felt like screaming. Her assistants were driving her utterly insane and the tension in her body felt like a vice grip. “God damnit.”  

“Betty?” Alison suddenly spoke over her.  

“What?” Betty hissed through clenched teeth, trying her hardest to maintain her composure.  

“Cheryl Blossom is waiting on line two- she said it’s important.” Alison muttered meekly. Betty knew that she couldn’t blow her best friend off any longer. She let out a loud sigh and took a deep breath.  

“I’m sorry Ally...” Betty muttered sincerely. “I’ll take it in my office- please see that I’m not interrupted.” Ally gave her a soft smile and nodded. Betty smoothed her hand down the front of her blazer, breathing through pursed lips before she walked into the office and shut the door behind her.  

Betty had worked for Klein Press Enterprises for just about four years. She had climbed the metaphorical food chain quickly and within just a year and a few unforeseen circumstances, Betty went from lead assistant to lead editor with two assistants. The job had its stressors, as did any. But KPE had given her so many opportunities and to be where she was at just 27, was a major life accomplishment that she prided herself with.  

Although a hard job meant less time. Her love life was basically nonexistent aside from the occasional hookup that she let herself partake in every once in a blue moon. She wasn’t ready for the earful she was about to receive from her best friend Cheryl Blossom. Ever since Betty had decided to ditch her longtime roommate for a place of her own, they barely saw each other, and Betty knew she was about to hear about it.  

Betty and Cheryl were college roommates. Cheryl was her polar opposite. She was a rich girl who wanted to defy daddy any chance that she got. At first Betty didn’t see in anyway how it could possibly work. She had even gone as far as to apply for a new roommate. But after Cheryl had gone through a bad breakup and Betty was the only one there to console her, they’d been stuck together ever since. They lived together for two years after college while they got on their feet and started their careers. Betty in journalism and publishing and Cheryl in design and marketing. Betty’s career had taken off and never stopped, Cheryl’s start was a bit rockier but her free spirit allowed her to be a little free willed. While Cheryl was wild and unpredictable, Betty was always the voice of reason with a little bit of spitfire. 

“Hello?” Betty flinched.  

“Elizabeth Ann Cooper!” Cheryl rang through the phone. Betty had to pull the phone away from her ear at her friend’s loud voice. “It’s about time you take my call...”  

“Hi to you too, Cher.”  

“Ohh no,” Cheryl muttered through three syllables. “I thought you might’ve died!”  

“Jesus, don’t be so dramatic.” Betty hissed back. She sat in her large desk chair and crossed her ankles on top of her desk.  

“What the hell happened to you?” Cheryl asked.  

“I’ve been working Cher... You know like most adults do.” Betty said as she twirled the phone curled black cord between her fingers.  

“Jesus, you need to get laid sis...”  

“Cheryl!” Betty clipped through the receiver.  

“You’re so wound up. I don’t know if I should be scolding you or thanking you for not answering my calls...” Cheryl told her.  

“You sound like my Goddamn mother.” Betty said as she held the phone with her shoulder, picking at one of her nails. “What do you want Cher?”  

“What do I always want?” Her best friend nagged her.  

“I can’t get drinks, Cher... Remember I told you that I’m going to Georgia this weekend and I’m swamped at work so I really can’t talk either.” Betty told with as little annoyance as she could muster. Her heels clicked against the top of her desk and she glanced out her offices’ large window.  

“You’re still going? I thought you would’ve bailed by now.”  

“I need to get away and I haven’t even been to the farm in a while, so I figured why not?” Betty shrugged.  

“I feel like it could be dangerous, B.” Cheryl told her.  

“Cheryl it’s my grandpas farm, I’ll be fine.” 

“But you don’t even know who owns it now-” 

“And I’m also staying at one of the hotels in town.” Betty cut her off. 

“So, you’re just going to show up? What if a serial killer lives there now? Am I supposed to look for your face on Dateline !? I swear to God B if Lester Holt knows your name-”  

“Oh my God Cheryl, don’t be ridiculous!” Betty stood and ushered a signal to Ally through her office door. “Drinks when I get back, okay?”  

“Betty Cooper don’t you dare hang up on me!”  

“Bye, Cher. Love you.” She hung up before it got to a point where Lester Holt might know her name. Cheryl Blossom was relentless, and Betty was sure she’d never hear the end of it.  

 

Cheryl was right it’d been too long since Betty had experienced a good wrestle in her sheets. No men really did it for her anymore, at least none she considered exploring. She got bored too easily, her complex mind to wrapped up in the beautiful literature that she’d grown up on. Frankly, nothing she’d had come close to what Austen or Morrison had offered. Well except the one summer love that she’d experienced ten years ago.  

Betty never let herself think about it. She was young and dumb and had no insight on what her future would one day become. She didn’t blame herself for their demise and she’d had relationships since then. But it didn’t mean that she ever forgot his name and that it didn’t tumbled from her lips anytime she did decide to indulge in a little personal time.   

Ally opened her office door on cue and Betty glanced up from the gaze she had fixed on her shoes. She gave Ally a soft smile before she spoke calmly, placing with her necklace between her forefinger and thumb.  

“Please cancel my meetings for the rest of the day... You and Greer can be done for the day as well.”  

“Uh, thank you Betty.”  

“I’ll be gone until Tuesday, please take any of my messages while I’m away... Enjoy your weekend Ally.”  

Betty swiped her purse from the coat hook it was on and looped it over her shoulder. She made sure she had her car keys and phone before leaving her office with another small smile for Ally. She said her goodbyes to Greer, her other assistant, and left KPE.  

 

She never wanted to think of herself as lonely. Sure, her apartment was always quiet but the noises from the New York city sounds offered contrast against the stark silence. She wasn’t sure why she’d decided to plan a trip to Georgia. She hadn’t been back since her grandfather's funeral, but she felt this odd draw to return and commemorate the man that she missed oh so much.  

 

It was later that night and Betty was folding some of her t-shirts and blouses and placing them into the suitcase that she’d laid out on her bed. Her phone range suddenly and she rolled her eyes when she saw the name that rolled through the top of the screen.  

“Hi, mom.” Betty answered the call with no emotion in her voice.  

“Now Elizabeth, that is no way to greet your mother.” Alice spoke in stereo through the line.  

“I’m sorry,” Betty began through grit teeth. “Hello mom, how are you?”  

“I’m calling because I hear you’re going to Georgia for the weekend...” Alice’s voice was almost cryptic. Betty winced and knew her sister was behind this. “Why on earth would you decide to do such a thing.”  

“Mom, I-”  

“You have no business going there Elizabeth! You have no business going to your grandfather’s farm.”  

“Grandad’s farm? It’s our farm mom- the family farm! And I’m not even going there-” 

“Good because it’s not our farm anymore Elizabeth and I’m sure that its new owners wouldn’t appreciate-”  

“Did you ever think,” Betty cut her mother off exasperated. “Did you ever think that maybe I’m going because I need a vacation? Because I miss grandad? Because frankly, Georgia- the farm, it’s the only place that has ever felt like home to me?” Betty snapped. She’d dealt with her mother’s badgering for far too long to take it anymore.  

“Betty I-” Alice attempted to speak.  

“Enough mom!” Betty yelled through the line. “And you know what? Go ahead and tell Polly that if she’s just going to tell you all of my business, we don’t need to talk anymore.” Betty grit her teeth. “I’m going to hang up now. I’ll call you when I get back from Georgia.” Betty pulled the phone away from her ear and ended the call. “Click.” She muttered.  

She threw her phone onto the bed dramatically and screamed into the air. Not loud enough for her neighbors to worry, but enough to release some of the tension that had built up in her body. It was moments like this that she realized that she had no one in her life. Her best friend- and any chance she had at other friends in her life- were all pushed away because of her job. She’d put her career first from very early on, her mother's words constantly echoing in the back of her head. Betty threw herself back against her duvet and ran her frustrated hands over her face. She wanted to cry, but the tears never came. They never came, it was almost as if she were void of any emotion except anger and regret.  

She pushed herself up and glanced to her on suite bathroom. Her clawfoot tub looked amazing in the moment and she thought that maybe a relaxing bath was exactly what she needed. Her flight was due to leave for Georgia in the morning, where she’d spend more time alone- but at least it’d be quiet time away from New York.  

Betty threaded her hands through the vanilla and patchouli scented bubbles. The comforting aroma invaded all her senses and the mirrors and window were quickly clouded by steam. The hot water was turning her muscles to mush but it felt amazing. She decided in the moment that she didn’t use the tub enough. She looked down at her palms and noticed the four very faint crescents that had formed there. They must’ve happened during the phone call with her mother. Betty shuddered and sunk deeper into the warm water. She hadn’t done it in years. It happened a lot when she was younger- being told by a therapist that it was her way of coping. She used to do it to the point where she would make herself bleed. They’d be sore for a few days and then heal within a week or two. Regret always blanketed her afterward, yet it didn’t stop her from doing it. What was scary was when she didn’t even realize when she was doing it. She always related it to stress and perhaps that’s why she never allowed herself to feel sadness. 

During college, she taught herself how to control it. It took a little while, but eventually she found herself not doing it at all. The marks she had now were faint, but nonetheless they were there, and it terrified her. She never wanted to be ashamed of it, but only one person had ever told her that it was okay- that she was okay and that the marks didn’t define her.  

 

Jughead Jones had been her saving grace at just seventeen years old. She fell for him so hard and fast that it made her head spin. For a while, just the thought of him was unbearable. The boy that had been her saving grace had broken her heart and she wasn’t sure that she ever forgave him for that. She’d certainly never forgotten about it no matter how far back she pushed it in her brain.  

Her hand slunk a little lower into the water as she found herself thinking admirably about him. Her fingers slid through her slick folds as she rubbed herself and squeezed her center between her fingers. She only always thought of him. His inky hair and his toned arms and abdomen. The way his hands felt on her skin as he held her. Once again, it was his name that tumbled from her lips as she brought herself to ecstasy as the water grew cold; blanketed by the guilt of him as she returned to earth.  

Betty pulled herself from the chilling water. She dressed herself in a light cotton robe and found a glass and a bottle of wine. She wasn’t sure why she was in a mood to reminisce, but she settled on the floor after pulling a paper box from her closet.  

She was sure that she could reiterate the words of each letter without looking. She opened each of them one by one, reading them for the umpteenth time as she sipped on her chardonnay. Her fingertips danced over the fragile pages as she took in all their tear streaked lines. There were twelve of them. He’d sent one to her each month for a year after he’d left her.  

Betty traced over the words I miss you and I love you, repeatedly. She knew that it wasn’t healthy. She knew that she should’ve gotten rid of the letters a long time ago. But she could never bring herself to do it. The connection that she felt for the first and only man she’d ever loved had utterly consumed her for the last ten years. She often thought that perhaps that is why she was still single, that Jughead Jones was the reason why she was often told that she’d incapable of love or being loved. She didn’t shed tears over the letters anymore, and she found herself pulling them out less and less often. But she still thought about Jughead every day and she often wondered if she’d ever get over a man that she was sure to never see again.   

The pictures were something that she’d learned to love to indulge in. Blurry faces and spotty browns and greens that flecked against the film of her grandad’s lake all those years ago. One of her favorites was the one of Archie jumping off the rope swing during their day at the swimming hole, his red hair was messy and vibrant against the fuzzy photo yet somehow still clear as day. It always made her laugh. She still remembers the day they’d met all those years ago, the day that her and Jughead had been stranded with a flat tire and Archie had saved them. It was paired with another shot just two seconds later of Archie's splash hitting Jughead after the most perfect cannonball. Betty still remembered the day like it was yesterday. The way her purple sundress had felt against her skin. The yellow polka dot bikini that she had worn underneath it. The way Jughead had rubbed sunscreen over her shoulders while he kissed behind her ear. The thought made her shudder as she quickly gathered everything off the floor, shoved it briskly back into the box and shut it, shoving into the dark under her bed.  

 

As Betty laid in bed that night, she tried to imagine the hermit couple that was probably now living at her grandad’s farm and what she was going to explain to them when she showed up on their doorstep. All she could think about was the memories that she’d left behind there. Only recently had the little ones begun to come back to her in a cascade. She did miss Georgia. She’d last gone back for her grandfather’s funeral, and only then had she been back for three days. She’d been in the middle of a large signing and needed to get back to her busy life in New York. She’d spent one afternoon at the farm for Pop’s wake. She wondered if her old room still looked the same. She wondered if the old wallpaper was still slowly chipping away like it had for as long as she could remember. Although she doubted it, no right-minded person with the ability to renovate would keep a house like Pop’s in the same condition.  

 

Betty got on her plane the next morning, giving herself every opportunity to back out. She didn’t know why but the thought of the whole trip made her a little uneasy. It should’ve been a sign, but nonetheless she was stubborn and there wasn’t a chance that she was backing out now. She checked in to the Sweetwater Inn and attempted to come up with a plan for how she was going to spend her long-deserved weekend in the Georgia heat.  

Chapter Text

“Betty , dear ? ” she heard her name coming from the kitchen as she sat on her bed writing in her journal. She’d sta r ted writing poems about Beauty an d couldn’t seem to put her pen down.   

“Yeah, Pop?” she yelled back.   

“Come dear...” Betty closed the journal in her lap and stood to find her grandfather.  “I need you to run to town for a few groceries...”   

“What ’s the occasion?” Betty asked him with a coy smile. She knew that his next trip to town for groceries wasn’t until the following week.   

“Well... I have a hankering for your grandmothers' lasagna, and it seems we’re missing a few ingredients, I thought you could make dinner was us tonight, perhaps invite Jughead in for the night. The boy deserves a good home cooked meal every once in a while, don’t you reckon?”  

She gave Pop her signature stink eye, knowing he was up to something. Yet she knew he’d never stop his meddling.   

“I suppose so...” Betty said slowly, Pop’s coy smile growing through his cheeks. “Write me a list and I’ll head in.” Betty told him before turning from the kitchen.    

“Dear-” Betty turned back toward him.   

“Yeah, Pop-”   

“I believe Jughead may have said something about needing to get feed, have him take you with him- perhaps he ha s Bertha up and running.”   

Okay he was definitely up to something.   

 

As Betty and Jughead rode into town, side by side in the old trucks box seat, Betty felt strangled. She practically waited for Jughead to ask about the blush in her cheeks. Which of course she was p repared to blame the Georgia summer heat and Bertha’s lack of air conditioning.   

“Pop wants you to come in for dinner tonight.” She told him. The silence was crippling her , and it was the first thin g that came to mind. She could see him turn his head to her in her peripheral, but she didn’t turn hers to meet his eyes.   

“Oh yeah? What’s the occasion?”   

“There isn’t one...” She told him with a short laugh. Her h an d met her head to push her hair back from her face. “I’m making lasagna.”   

“Well in that case, I’m definitely in.” He muttered cheekily and it made her smile.   

Her smile made his gut clench, man he enjoyed that smile.   

“Do you think he’s up to something?” Jughead questioned her.   

“What do you mean?” Betty propped her head in her hand and glanced at him.   

“Ahh, it’s nothing...” he shook his head at her. Seemingly thinking his thoughts were pointless.   

“Well, you might not want to talk about it...” She said as she glanced out her window before she turned her head to meet his and spoke once again. “But it’s not nothing.”   

Their eyes locked in a suddenly tensive moment as Betty sucked a tight breath into her lungs. A sudden loud pop and the just as sudden shift o f Jughead’s steering wheel caused her to gasp and Jughead to scramble.   

“Shit.” He cursed through a mutter. He held on to the wheel with a tight grip as he pulled over to the side of the road. “We got a flat.” He turned the key off in the ignition as he checked his side mirrors.   

His door shut with a loud rickety bang and Betty’s exhale finally went through her lips. He seemingly made his way around the old truck, inspecting it as he went. When he paused at the back-passenger Betty stuck half of her body out the window.   

“Is it salvageable ?” She asked him.   

“Nope.” Jughead grunted. “Toast.” He kicked it with a dull foot and seemed to growl in frustration. “It’ll be fine- I’ll change it and then we’ll be back on our way just stay in the... truck.” He finished with a laugh as she jumped from the cab and shut the truck door.   

How can I help?” She asked him cheerfully.   

“I asked you to stay in the truck...” He said through grit teeth as he made his way back to the bed and pulled down the tailgate.   

“Now do I look like a girl that does what she’s told?” She asked him cheekily.   

“Something tells me-” He muttered as he climbed into the pickup bed. “Not a chance.” She hummed in delight as he wiped his hands on his jeans to dry them from the hot and humid air.   

He rolled the spare he had to the end of the tailgate before he jumped down to catch it and place it on the ground. He made quick work to find a tire iron, but Betty watched as he got more frustrated and threw things around in the back of the bed.   

Damnit .” He suddenly spoke and stood still.   

“What?”   

“I must’ve taken the jack out from back here and not remembered to put it back...” He jumped from the bed and back to the ground.   

“What does that mean?”   

“Well unless you plan on lifting this truck up while I change out the tire, we can’t change the tire.” He ended with a scoff-laugh. Betty was delighted by his use of we.” She enjoyed thinking about the two of them as a team.  

“What are we gonna do?” She asked him through a heavy sigh. She ran both of her hands through her hair, the heat causing her skin to glisten.   

“Um...” Jughead squinted against the bright sun. “Well we’re about 7 to 8 miles from the farm- too far too walk and while we’re closer to town it’s still too far to manage in the heat.” H e said as he swiped over his brow. “I’ll ca l l a buddy of mine...” He told her. “He lives in town- I'll see if he can bring us a jack.” He ended the sentence as he lifted his tank up to wipe the moisture from his face. Betty was surprised she didn’t faint at the sight of his toned abdomen. She turned swiftly away from his view so she could chew on her bottom lip for a moment.   

 

Jughead grabbed his cell from the cab of the truck and made a quick call whi le Betty leaned against the side of it . She kept glancing from right to left but had no luck with any oncoming traffic. She knew that t hey were stuck on a service road , and as Jughead had said - too far from town or the farm. She knew that there was a slim to none chance of anyone finding them and saving them from being stranded.   

“Here.” Jughead muttered, breaking her from her internal stupor. He handed he r a bottle of water that she didn’t even know he had. She noticed that some of it was already missing, which meant his lips had already been against it. She scolded herself at the thought and shook herself figuratively as she too k it from him. “It’s all we have, so drink sparingly.” He made her laugh. “My buddy said he can get us a jack, but it could be an hour...” He said regretfully and she nodded at him. Betty took a drink before handing it back to him and running a hand over her face once more.   

“I’m sorry...” He began to speak again. “I know it’s hot.”   

“I don’t mind...” She shrugged at him. Of course , she did in fact mind - it was hot as shit , but she also understood that there was nothing he could do in their circumstance nor was it his fault. She could tell by his demeanor that he felt bad and was frustrated. But never did he take any of it out on her. Betty looked around once more. They were surrounded by trees and dry brush. The humid air could strangle them, and the smoldering sun was beating down on them and Betty was sure if she wasn’t careful, she’d be in for a good burn. Suddenly she spotted something through a tree clearing as she squinted against the sun. “No way!” She spoke loudly as she tilted her head in an attempt to see i t more clearly.   

“What?” He spoke attempting to see what she was seeing and leaned in closer to her. She grabbed his hand on instinct and pulled him across the road.  They made their way through the clearing and by the end of it she was giggling as Jughead held her hand even tighter and admired her smile.  

“I completely forg o t about this place...” She told his as they entered the clear and made their way to a loose gravel shoreline. She jumped onto a boating dock as he followed her. They looked over a small lake, the water beautifully calm with the sun reflecting off its top . “I used to come here with Pop when I was a little girl.”   

“It’s beautiful.” Jughead spoke simply.   

“I know right?” She said. “It’s like it’s in its own little world, all calm and peaceful out here by itself. ” She spoke with her hand shielding her eyes from the bright sun. Jughead crouched down and rested on his knees, he removed his phone from his pocket so it wouldn’t fall into the water if it had the chance. He leaned down over the dock to splash some water on his face. His tank top was soaked with sweat and practically transparent. Betty’s mouth was practically watering as her head swirled with playful ideas.   

While his eyes were closed as he wiped the cool water from them, Betty bent down swiftly to grab the phone from beside him. He shook the water from his wet locks and Betty chewed on her nail , thinking about her next move before she lost all her nerve.   

Betty gave him a soft shove and Jughead went flailing into the water with a loud yell. Betty burst into a deep belly laugh that she couldn’t seem to contain. He came up for air and started to cough vigorously for which Betty’s laughter changed to her apologizing vigorously.   

“Hey!” Jughead yelled once his coughing had subsided. His feet kicked strenuously below him so he could keep hi mself afloat.   

“I’m sorry, I am so sorry... I just thought it’d funny.” Betty continued to wince and apologize to him, not even noticing the large tooth grin that practically covered his entire face. It was funny, they both thought so. She covere d her eyes with her hands and shook her head at him. After a movement she moved her hands slightly to take a peek at him and they both burst out laughing once more.   

“So,” he began to speak once more. “Are you going to join me? The water’s great- super refreshing.” His t o ne had changed , and it hadn’t gone un n oticed to her. He was being playful. And she couldn’t lie, the thought of the cool water against her glistening hot skin was so nice.   

Betty bit her lip and thought about what she should do in the moment. She watched as Jughead’s feet kicked beneath him and. his arms paddled and pushed against the water. He threw his sopping shoes onto the dock. She knew she didn’t want her dress to get wet- she'd have nothing to wear once they got out. This only made her feel worse, realizing that now he was the one that had nothing dry once he got out of the water.   

“Stop thinking about it Betts,” He muttered softly. “Just get in.”   

Betts, that was a new one- and she definitely didn’t hate it.   

She thought for another moment before she finally gave in to his proposal. If they had to wait for the jack, she might as well be a little cooler while they waited.   

“Alright,” She caved and muttered softly. She watched as a coy smile grew through his cheeks, a smile that he seemed to now know he had. Because if he did in fact know, he was intentional ly making her swoon and that just wouldn’t do. “Turn around.”   

He seemed to place his hands up in surrender before he used his arm to paddle and turn his back to her. She slipped her arms car e fully from her sundress. It pooled onto the wooded floor of the dock at her feet.   

“I promise not to look.” He yelled into the air. She let out a soft laugh and shook her head. Parts of her we’re self-conscious in her pale pink bra and underwear, while other parts of her were reelin g - knowing full and well that Jughead was too far of a gentleman and would keep his promise of not looking at her. But why did she kind of want him to?    

She waited until the last second to slip off her sandals. She knew the wood of the dock would be scorching to the bottom of her feet. This also meant she’d have to jump, unable to sit and slip into the water grac e ful l y like she would like to.   

 

Betty gave in and took the plunge. Her dive took him by surprise, turning in her direction when he r splash entered his ears and littered his skin.   

“Hi.” He said when her head erupted from the water and she cleared the moisture from her face.  

“Hi.” She said simply, smiling softly at him. Man did her smile do things to him- and she didn’t even know it. His wet hair fe l l further down the front of his face and it was driving Betty crazy, her fingers itching to move it from his for e head with the delicate touch of her fingers.   

Their eyes locked in a heavy moment and Jughead watched as her chest rose against the still water, her nostrils blowing small ripples into the space between them... and then suddenly her expression changed. Jughead felt as her feet kicked heavily beneath her and she lifted her arms slightly to push a wave of hard water at his, leaving him sputtering once more for air. Her laugh enveloped his ear like a sweet song, and he wished the silence of the lake and deserted road would just overtake them.  

“Jesus, are you trying to drown me women!?” He asked through a laugh after he stopped coughing once more. This only made her laugh more and suddenly he realized that there weren’t many times she wasn’t laughing. Perhaps she was nervous, and laughing was her way of coping with the stress of her nerves. He loved her laugh; he’d never stop it if he could but it suddenly all made sense to him... he made Betty nervous.   

They swam on their own for a while. She watched from a far as Jughead attempted to float on the surface of the water. She imagined his ears filling with the water on the surface and the muffled sounds of the hot wind the blew through the trees an d the ripples of her feet kicking nearby that he must hear. He was right, the water felt amazing. Betty trie d to relax but it was no use. S h e couldn’t stop thinking about the last moment they’d shared in the barn or the way the brushes of his skin felt against hers. She couldn’t stop thinking about how he’d opened her door when they’d left the farm earlier that day or what he’d said about her grandfather in the truck.   

He must think that she’s too young and naïve, right? She felt a sudden stinging in her palms and stretched her fingers apart in the water. She scolded herself for allowing herself to go to that place and she couldn’t believe that it had happened again. She’d barely broken the skin this time. Not as bad as the last time. She thought. Regret blanketed her as she examined her palms, closing her hands into fists once she’d seen enough. She could feel her anxiety bubbling in her throat and then suddenly Jughead was near her.   

 

She hadn’t even realized that he’d swam over to her or maybe she was just too drawn up in her own little world that she hadnt heard him get so near. Their faces were merely inches from one another, and she could feel the current of the water from his feet pushing against her legs. If she leaned in just enough their noses would brush and just the thought had her reeling.  

Was he about to kiss her? Where was this coming from? She searched his eyes before flickering her own to his mouth and back again. Jughead made no attempt to move. He simply just paddled so close to her that Betty swore she could feel the heat from his body radiating into the water between them and back against her skin. Goosebumps grew across her flesh and up her neck. She felt the recognizable prinking tingles against her hairline and behind her ears. Her psychological response kicked in and she wanted nothing more than to flee from the boy that was causing her to feel this way. She was confus ed and knew that her face showed no emotion towards him either. Perhaps that was what he wanted. He was making an attempt to read her because even Betty knew that she didn’t give up too much easily.   

But then, he seemed to gasp into the space between them and his face sunk beneath the water. He swam away from her once more, h is feet kicking purposefully against the surface to soak her exposed head and neck in a he avy and violent splash.   

 

Betty wiped her eyes and blew the water from her mouth. She could hear him laughing from a distance as the heaviness from the moment left her bones. She watched as he climbed from the wate r and back onto the dock. He stripped himself of his sopping tank and her breath caught once more at the sight of his toned abdomen and chest . She watched as he rung the water from his shirt and his jeans had fallen further down his hips from the heaviness of the water that saturated them. His happy trail made her mouth water and she suddenly felt guilty for looking at him . She turned away when his hands met the button on his jeans. Apparently, he didn’t care what she saw.  

Betty...” She heard his voice in her ears.    

“Yeah?” She spoke innocently, her back still facing him and she paddled idly in th e water.   

“You can turn around.” He seemed to laugh. Betty felt the heat rise into her cheeks. Ge t ahold of yourself! She scolded herself.   

 

He’d hung his jeans on one of the posts of the dock and he sat on his tank against the edge. His legs we’re exposed and white against the bright sun. She felt wrong for surveying him, yet he’d given her an open invitation to do just that. They were so comfortable around each other and it was something that she- in the moment- understood that they both understood perfectly. Everything seemed to be so natural with him and she’d be lying if she said it didn’t scare her a little.  

“Come here.” He spoke softly with the gesture of his chin. Betty hesitated for a moment but swam to him eventually. His legs were long enough that he was able to kick them on the surface of the water.   

“I ’m sorry about your clothes.. .” She muttered softly. He was leaning back on his arms and he shook his head at her.   

“No worries, in this heat - they’ll dry in no time... Plus,” he leaned up on his arms for a moment. “The water felt great.”   

“Yeah it does.” She said with a softly and nervous laugh. Her arms spread in front of her and she swam softly around his feet. A part of her was nervous to be swimming so close to him. She tried to no t think about the fac t that she was swimming in her underwear. It was just like any of her bikini’s that she wore, yet she felt different. She felt playful as she watched him, observing him.   

Jughead looked around at the trees that surrounded them. The place was effortlessly beautiful. Just like her. He thought and then internally scolded himself for it. Then he felt it. Betty’s fingernail stroked the bottom of his foot- so lightly that he almost didn’t feel it. His head snapped back to her in the water and he saw her tongue stuck between her teeth, a cheeky smile playing on her lips. He almost wanted to dive in after her and grab her in his arms.   

“Can I ask you a question?” She asked him. Her voice was gentle, but he liked that she was genuinely speaking to him.   

“Do I have a choice?” He teased through a laugh.   

“What’s the thing you ca re about the most in the world?” She asked him curiously. His feet were still idly kicking in front of him on the surface of the water. Betty moved her hands to the tops of his feet and propped herself up with her elbo ws on his ankles. This allowed her to rest as he helped hold her up in the water.   

“Probably...” He began to speak while his gaze shifted from her to the blue sky above them. “My future?”   

His answer wasn’t calculated, but rather genuine and thoroughly thought through. Betty was beginning to realize that as though he looked it , Jughead wasn’t surface at all. He was a gentleman and caring, possibly even a little sensitive.   

“Did you have a girlfriend back at Millwood?” Betty asked him suddenly. It didn’t come out as judgmental , rather just curious and gentle.    

“Umm, no...” He spoke through a small laugh. “I uh, I’m kind of a hermit back at college.” He told her truthfully.   

“I don’t believe you.” Betty teased him coyly.   

“No, no it’s true...” Jughead told her. “Actu a lly uh, my buddy that’s bringing us a jack,” There he went with that us again. She thought. “His name s Archie , we go to Millwood together and his girlfriend Donna, actually made a move at me before she settled for him.” Jughead laughed nervously. This made Betty smile and she continued to look up at him. “That’s about as far as my girlfriend rep goes.”   

“No hometown girlfriends?” She asked him playfully.   

“Nope.” He spoke simply. “I grew up in small town Ohio and again- I was quite the hermit, so no girls tended to show any interest.”   

Literally how? S h e thought and she thought about asking him teasingly, but she refrained. But seriously, he seemed so gentle and kind with her and she just didn’t understand. Part of her hoped that it wasn’t all as act he was putting on because no one was ever around to call him out on it.   

“What about you?” He asked her then. “No boyfriends back in Riverdale?” The glint in his eye showed genuine curiosity, even if his tone was teasing enough.   

“Uh, no.” Betty told him, unsure of how to tell him that there had in fact never been a boy that mattered in her life. Well except her father and Pop, of course. “Help me out?” She asked him suddenly, deciding that she wanted to end the conversation. She let go of his feet and floundered into the deep water below, forgetting that her feet couldn’t touch. She came up and managed not to sputter, but nonetheless she’d embarrassed herself.  

You alright?” Jughead laughed. “ Come closer to the dock,” He moved to stand and nudged his head in the direction that he meant with his words. “It’s shallower over here.”   

She did as she was told and swam closer to him. Her feet barley met the bottom , but she was able to reach for his hands and kick off the lakebed with her toes . He was stronger than she thought and practically did all of the work as he pulled her onto the dock with him.   

 

And just like that, they stood face to face once more- but this time, on dry land. Betty’s breath caught in her throat as her skin began to dry quickly from the heat and a puddle began to form at their feet f rom the rest of her. His eye s were the stormiest shade of blue and this was all she could think about as she stared right into them. She knew that hers must be the prettiest shattered e merald green, they got like that in the sun- she loved when they did that. And by the way he seemed to be drinking her in, he loved it too. Suddenly she felt his fingers move up her forearm, chills following in its wake. Her eyes however never left his as his hand moved all the way up to her neck and his fingers found their way behind her ear. S h e closed her eyes then, simpering in the comfort of his touch. She wanted to reach out and touch his chest . She wondered if it felt as strong as it looked. It was then that she noticed a scar along the top of his left shoulder , and she wondered why she hadn t noticed it before that moment.   

When Betty met back at his eyes again, she thought that his might burn into her. His fingertips made lazy circles at the soft spot behind her ear- her spot. She didn’t even know that she had a sp ot , and yet... he did.   

It was then that any moment that could have been was interrupted by the loud ricochet of a car door. They both heard it and perhaps both decided to live in denial for a second longer before Jughead heard a voice that he swore was calling out his name. He knew tha t it must be Archie and he wanted to curse his best friend for interrupting the moment. Their moment.   

He stepped away from her and Betty moved for her dress, both of them avoiding the tense moment they’d just shared. Jughead called out for Archie and grabbed his jeans from the post he’d hung them on.   

“See? Practically dry.” He smiled at her. He pulled them on as Betty looped her arms into her dress. “Here let me help.” He said when she went to reach for the tie in the back.   

“Thanks.” She said, not meeting his eyes. She couldn’t. She thought that he was for sure going to kiss the breath out of her- and what was worse? She wanted him to.  

Damn Archie. Betty thoug ht. She hadn’t even met him yet and she already hated him.   

“Where’s your shirt?” Archie asked with an odd face when they’d almost reached the road.   

“We went for a swim.” Jughead said walking past his red headed friend and over to the tailgate of Archie’s truck.   

Archie, as she’d thought she ’d heard his name right, was tall. But, only slightly taller th a n Jughead. Leaner too, his muscles seemed to protrude more th a n Jughead’s did. In h onesty Betty found it a bit obnoxious and didn’t mind it at all. He had fiery red-orange hair and his jawline could probably cut paper.   

“You must be Betty,” Archie said with a soft smile. He had good teeth. She thought. “Jug mentioned you on the phone...” He held a handout and Betty took it awkwardly. “Archie Andrews.”  

“Betty Cooper.” She smiled softly at him.   

“Cooper? As in Earl Cooper?” Archie asked suddenly. He moved to help Jughead with the tire, both of them fiddling with the jack.   

“That’s my grandfather? You know him?” Betty walked over the Jughead’s tr u ck and grabbed the water bottle that they’d shared a drink out of earlier. She took a drink as Archie began to speak again.   

“Jug you didn’t say you were working for Earl Cooper...” He started. “Donna is obsessed with his sun flowers, makes me bring her one back every time I visit home.”   

“Well in my defense-” Jughead started. “He only lets me call him Pop.” This made Betty laugh as she handed Jughead the water bottle. “ Thanks.” He muttered taking it from her and taking a drink of his own. He winked at her and she blushed and looked at her sandals.   

This didn’t go unnoticed to Archie.  

“You’re from around here?” Betty asked him.   

“Archie here is why I put up flyer’s in town...”   

“Huh, small world.” Betty spoke after a scoff.   

“I guess.” Archie smiled before both the boys put their attention back on the task at hand.   

“Betts, can you hand me the tire iron...” Jughead mutter after a moment, his gaze shifting to the tailgate. Betty jumped up from her lean on the door. His use of Betts didn’t go unnoticed and this made her blush once more . She’d taken on her role as resident supervisor rather well as she watched the boys at work. She grabbed the tire iron and handed it to Archie after surveying it.   

“So, Jug do you have any plans for the Fourth?” Archie asked him. The Fou r th of July was in ju st a few days. Betty realized that she didn’t have plans, yet she suddenly hoped that they’d include Jughead. She listened closely all while pretending to be oblivious to their traveling looks while she picked at one of her n ails.   

“Um, no I hadn’t really thought about it ...” Jughead told him as he pulled the flat off and tossed it to the side with an audible thunk  

“Well me and Donna planned on going out to Chum’s...” Archie spoke. Betty knew he wasn’t lying about being local. Chum’s was a local's secret and even then, was still hardly known. It was the swimming hole that split apart the neighboring towns. It’s walls were fill ed with graffiti and while it was rather large, it was filled with an underwater cold spring which meant the water was cooler than anywhere around- and in the Georgia heat, that was cherished. “You and Betty should come.” He said nonchalantly before he looked at Betty. “Picnic, fireworks- the whole works.”   

“Well now I know you’re a local if you know about Chum’s...” Betty said with a laugh and this made both the boy’s smile.   

“Donna’s coming down?” Jughead asked wiping the dirt from his hands on his pant legs after he seemed to survey them.   

“Yeah, said the rents’ are driving her crazy...” Archie ended with a light laugh. Betty smiled softly and through reflex as she listened to them and looked the ground. “She’ll be here on Tuesday.”   

“Cool man.” Jughead said. He loosened the jack and the truck fell back to the ground with a slight bobbing. It made Betty jump as she held the locket that hung around her neck between her thumb and forefinger.   

“So?” Archie asked. “What do you say? I’m sure Donna would love another girl around...” Betty smiled pensively at his comment.   

“Betts?” Jughead broke her from her stupor.   

“Yeah?” She turned quickly back to him and he laughed softly shaking his head.   

“What do you think?” He asked.   

“Well I mean...” she began. “I don’t have any plans.” She shrugged as she spoke.   

“Great! It’s a date!” Archie spoke quickly. Betty watched as Jughead’s face twisted into a wince at his friends' choice of words. “Oh, Donna’s gonna be psyched. Listen kids I gotta head out, but look I’ll see y ou next weekend?” He pointed at Jughead as he walked back to his truck with the jack in his hand.   

“Yeah.” Jughead nodded. “ Thanks again for the jack, man.”   

With that Archie got back into his truck and drove back towards town. Jughead shut the tailgate with a loud bang after he loaded up the dead tire as Betty got back into the cab. The atmosphere was suddenly tense between them as Jughead got i n and started up the truck. Betty just looked out the window as she couldn’t seem to look a t his face.   

“Where are you going?” She suddenly spoke as Jughead made a U-turn and began to drive in the direction of the farm.   

“Well,” He said with a laugh. “I hate break it to you, but my sneakers are sopping and by pants are covered in grease. ” This made her smile softly. “I just need to change and then we can head for town.”   

“You know what-” Betty spoke after a moment, she sighed. “It’s getting late and I’m tired from the sun...” In honesty she knew she was only telling his this to avoid him. “I don’t think I want to go to town.” She shook her head at him.   

“You sure?” Jughead asked her, glancing at her before him gaze moved back to the road. Betty caught his frown in her peripheral and her heart seemed to twist in her chest. She was afraid her voice would get caught in throat so she just nodded and then she realized that he probably couldn’t see her.   

“Uh huh.” She knew she did in fact sound a little strangled and she cursed at herself internally. “I’m sure I can find something and whip it up for Pop.” She spoke again after she closed her eyes and took a deep breath to steady herself.   

She hated that he was able to do this to her- to make her feel this way.   

“Okay.” Jughead said simply. The disappointment clea n enough in his tone.   

They didn’t speak again until they reached the farm. Jughead parked the truck next to the barn and killed the engine , his hand s leaving the steering wheel to rest in his lap . They both stared through the windshield and sat amongst the silence for a moment.    

He finally turned his head to look at her . Betty caught the movement in her peripheral and met his gaze. Her face was somber as her stom a ch swirled with all of the butterflies in the world. But they weight didn’t feel like pretty butterflies. It felt like an angry beehive and she th ought she might be sick, her nerves causing her to be on edge. She tried to imagine just an hour or two ago when she felt so effortlessly comfortable around him that she could tell him anything. Where had that Betty gone? She thought. Suddenly she saw one of his hands move towards her and into the space between them on the box seat  

Once again Betty’s psychological response kicked in. Her flight or fight took full effect and as soon as she saw him move toward her, her hand gripped the door handle with whit e knuckles and pulled on it. She jumped from the cab in one swift motion and tried her hardest to stop any tears from welling in her eyes at her own fear.   

“Betty!” She heard his door shut just after hers and he called out her name as she walked quickly to the house. She didn’t turn back. But if she had she would have seen him run an aggravated hand through his hair . Something she’d wanted to do each time she’d seen him. He rested against the bum p er of the tailgate and cursed into the air as he watched her walk away from him and quickly into the house.   

Jughead knew that he’d messed up. He wasn’t sure what he was doing, Betty did things to him that he didn’t know what to do with - things that he didn’t even entirely understand. All he knew wa s that , as he sat against the bumper of his truck with so aking wet sneaker s and a soft sunburn quickly rearing its head against the tops of his shoulders - h e didn’t regret his day with her one bit, and he really hoped that she did n’t either.  

Chapter Text

“Elizabeth Cooper...” Betty heard a voice enter her ears as she walked through the lobby of the Sweetwater Inn .  

“Mr. Weatherbee...” She smiled softly once she saw his face. She wal k ed closer to the front desk and gave him a hug. She’d known his since she was a little girl , he owns Weatherbee’s Convenience Store in the downtown square and always used to give her candy when she’d come in with Pop. “I told you never to call me that!” S h e scolded playfully. “Betty, please.”   

“It’s just so beautiful, he can’t help himself.” A voice spoke as it came from behind a wall. Mabel Weatherbee snuck into her v ie w and Be tty practically jumped the counter to hug her as well.   

“Mabel!” Betty spoke. “How are you?”  

Mabel and Walden Weatherbee had been like second parents to Betty when she spent her summers in Georgia as a little girl. She’d never be able to repay them for how much they looked out for her growing up. Pop had never been much of a di sciplinary figure, but Betty knew she could always count of Mabel to keep her and Polly in line.   

“Well, we own the Inn now.” Mabel spoke simply, as if it wasn’t new news.   

“No way!” Betty said. “How’d that all come about?”   

“Well, the Bryant’s wanted to sell and as selfish as it is,” Mabel leaned in a little closer to Betty so she could speak softer. “We didn’t want new people coming in ruining it’s beauty- or w orse, tearing it down...” Mabel continued. “So, Walden and I discussed it-”   

“More like she had already talked to the bank and I simply needed to sign the papers ...” Walden cut in and Betty laughed.   

“Walden!” Mabel muttered after a gasp. “Now you know that’s not true!” This only made Betty laughed harder as she gave Mabel a set of eyes that caused the older women to confess. “Okay, it’s slightly true.”   

“How’s Rachel?” Betty asked, suddenly remembering their daughter. She was a couple years younger than Betty and they’d lost touch after so many years.   

“Oh she’s great, baby’s great.”   

“Baby?” Betty asked, slightly shocked.   

“Yes, dear...” Mabel said through a laugh. “He’s four months old now .” Mabel showed Betty a photo frame that they had set up at the front desk.   

“Aww, what’s his name?” Betty asked, swooning over the little boy’s picture.   

“Oliver.”  

“Oh, that’s so cute!”   

“Yeah, we like him a little.” Walden said with a shrug and sarcastic tone. Betty laughed softly and looked at some of the other picture that were set up. She wasn’t sure how she hadn’t noticed them when she walked in. It was one of her favorite parts of the Inn - all of its personal little touches.   

“This is Michael ,” Mabel spoke. “Rachel’s husband.”   

“Wow,” betty spoke examining the photo of Rachel in a beautiful wedding gown. “Little Rachel grew up .”   

“Oh, I know...” Mabel gasped dramatically . “I still can’t believe I’m a grandma.”   

Betty looked at the pictures for a few more moments and couldn't help but notice Mabel studying her and she walked around the lobby.   

“How long’s it been honey?” Mabel spoke softly.   

“Too long.” Betty spoke, somberly. “I miss it here.”   

“I saw your name on the check-in list and I couldn’t believe it.” Mabel told her. “I thought, there’s no way.”   

I know Mabel, it’s been way too long.    

“And I still see no ring on that their finger...” Mabel said crassly.   

“Mabel, leave the poor girl alone!” Walden yelled over them. This made Betty laugh softly.   

“Um no, unfortunately there’s nothing new in that department.” Betty told her honestly.  

“That’s the thing with those big cities...” Mabel said. “Too many people.”   

“I think it’s supposed the other way around Miss Mabel.” Betty said with a soft laugh. She missed this. She missed the lightness that Georgia used to fill her with. She could feel it creeping back into her bones again and if she wasn’t careful, she was sure that she’d go back to New York with a slight southern accent. It happened every time she came back from Georgia from the summer growing up.  

“And at your grandfather’s funeral you’d just started that knew job- how's that going?” Mabel asked. Betty felt something twist in her heart. In all the years it’d been since she’d seen the Weatherbee’s or even been to Georgia, they still remembered the smallest details of previous conversations and they cared about her. In the five minutes that she’d spoken to them, the Weatherbee’s knew more about her current life than her own mother did. They cared about her.  

“It’s going good! I just closed a big publishing contract, so I decided to come down for a visit.”   

“And what’s the occasion?” Mabel asked as she poured two cups of coffee.   

“Honestly? I’m not sure.” Betty admitted as she took the offered cup of joe. “Something was just calling me here...”   

“Calling you home, honey...” Mabel told her. Her tone serious and genuine and it made Betty slightly emotional, but she wasn’t sure why.   

“So...” Betty began once more. “What’s been going on around here? How’s the store?”   

Uhh , the store is great honey...” Mabel said , and Walden nodded in agreement. “You remember Rachel’s old friend Veronica ?” Betty nodded through a sip of coffee. “She’s been running it for us, while we get everything situated here at the Inn.”   

“That’s nice.” Betty said. “I’ll have to stop in and say hello.”   

“Oh yes dear, I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to see you...” Mabel nodded. “ How long did you plan your stay?”   

“I fly back to New York early Tuesday morning.” Betty smiled before taking another sip of her coffee.   

 

The two of them sat and chatted a little more. Although they both avoided the elephant in the room- the elephant being her grandfather's farm. Betty waited for Mabel to bring it up, but she never did. Perhaps the old women hadn’t realized Betty’s intentions or maybe she just didn’t care. Either way, Betty was curious as to whom held residence at her once favorite place to be.   

By the time Mabel decided that she should probably get back to work it was after noon. The Georgia heat was still as hot as she remembered as Betty walked through town. It was nearly October, right around the time when the nights were as angry as the days with their storms. Betty slightly hoped it would rain while she was there. She could almost smell the morning after a big storm, reminiscing on her memorie s once more.   

 

Betty sat in the lobby of the Inn for a little while longer. She’d tried to write. It was something she’d struggled with lately that she wanted to get back into. She wasn’t sure exactly why, but she knew it most likely had to do with the mental block she’d placed on herself when she buried herself in her job back home. She let her lungs fill with the light Georgia air before she decided that she wanted to take a walk through downtown. She stopped into the Weatherbee’s convenience store to see i f Veronica might want to grab a drink later that night.   

Veronica Lodge is that you?” she spoke cheekily as she made her way up to the counter.   

“Betty?” Veronica spoke incredulously. Her eyes went wide at the sight of the small blonde, the pen in her hand dropped onto the counter below her as she made her way around it to hug Betty.   

“Hi...” Betty laughed as she hugged the r aven -haired women.   

“What are you doing here? It’s been like forever!” Veronica said as she pulled away.   

“I’m staying at the Inn and Mabel mentioned that you we’re working here, I thought I should stop in and say hello.”   

“How are you? What are you doing in Georgia? Don’t tell me you’re leaving New York...”   

“Would that be such a bad thing?” Betty caught herself saying and Veronica just shrugged. “I just came back for a visit, I guess...”   

“Last time you were back was...”   

“Pop’s funeral, yeah.” Betty finished for Veronica . It seemed like such a touchy topic that everyone wanted to tiptoe around, though they didn’t need to. It made Betty sad that Pop was gone, but she still loved him and knew that he was in a better place now.   

“And how’s New York?” Veronica asked her.   

“It’s great, I’ve got a really nice publishing job up there...”   

“Boyfriend? Husband?” Veronica gave her a teasing look with her eyes, and it caused Betty to smile and blush softly.   

“Not quite...” Betty said, knowing she worked entirely too much. “What about you? I saw that Rachel got married and has a baby! It’s crazy...” Betty spoke her thoughts aloud. “It seems like just yesterday we we’re running the se streets as crazy teenagers...”   

“Oliver is the cutest I must say...” Veronica said smiling softly. “And as for me...” Veronica spoke before she slowly lifted her left hand into Betty’s eye view.   

“Oh, my goodness!” Betty gasped, grabbing Veronica’ s hand to examine her ring more closely. “It’s beautiful!”   

“I know right?” Veronica laughed. “My man's got good taste!”  

“And who’s the lucky guy?”   

“You remember Fred Andrew’s from Andrew’s Construction?” Veronica spoke gently, waiting for Betty’s brain to play catch-up.   

Betty nodded with confused eyes.   

“It’s his son, Ar-”   

“Archie?!” Betty finished for her. Realization hit her like a ton of bricks as her past came rushing back at her in waves.   

“Yeah, Betty...” Veronica laughed, watching Betty’s wide eyes fall back to normal.   

“But how? What happened to him and Donna, I thought for sure they we’re the real thing...” Betty thought back to almost a decade ago.   

“Oh,” Betty watched a s Veronica’s face fell at the mention of Donna’s name. “You didn’t hear?”   

Betty simply shook her head, once again looking at Veronica with confused eyes.   

“She passed away two years ago...” Veronica spoke, slightly solemn. “Car accident.”   

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.” Betty gasped, grabbing Veronica ’s hand on instinct. “Veronica I would never...”   

“No, no it’s okay really...” Veronica told her. “Everyone only has good memories of he r , and it happened so suddenly that-” Veronica rambled. “A n ywa y , her and Archie did stay together, they got married- and they had a d aughter...”   

This only made Betty’s heart break even more for her childhood friend. Not only did her fiancé lose his wife but his daughter lost her mother, the thought was crushing.   

“She’s four now and her name is Lucy...” Veronica said with a gentle smile. “She’s still young so she doesn’t remember much.”   

Oh, my goodness V, I couldn’t imagine...”   

What struck Betty the most was that she hadn’t heard about it. With as small of a town that she remembered she couldn’t believe that she hadn’t heard about it.   

“Yeah, um Archie took it really hard...” Veronica started once more. “He was falling apart between trying to hold it together enough for Lucy all while not knowing how to be a single dad to a toddler...” This made Betty smile softly because with Veronica’s reminiscing she was smiling too. “So, I showed up one day with a pan of lasagna I had made- just offer my condolences... It'd been a month or two since Donna’s accident and when I showed up-” Veronica stopped to laugh. “Poor Lucy’s hair was a disaster and her clothes didn’t match, I knew that the house was probably a mess as well, so I offered to help- and that was my intention at first, just to help him recover. So that day I gave Lucy a bath and I did her hair up with clips, put her in a nice dress. Then I began to pick up the house and Archie- poor Archie was exhausted you could see it on his face. So, I took Lucy with me for the day and let him get some rest and then when I brought her back that night Archie made a joke asking if I’d come back the next day...” Veronica stopped and gestured with her hands up on either side of her. “So, I did. I came back and at first it was harmless, I’d help him with Lucy or make dinner. But then one night...” Veronica spoke like she with in deep thought. Betty just looked at her intently, taking in every word. I brought Lucy back home and she was out like a light so I let myself in and put her to bed and I could have sworn that I heard crying... And me being Veronica I peeked into Archie’s room, I found him on the floor sobbing over I couldn’t even tell you what, but it was like the flood gates had finally opened up and he was letting go of everything that he had kept bottled up inside since Donna’s accident. So, I held him while he cried, he yelled at me to leave but I didn’t listen because well- I never listen.” Veronica smiled again. “And I think that was the night that I fell in love with him...” This made Betty smile.  

“So just like that huh? Who would’ve thought that you’d end up with Archie Andrews?” Betty said with a scoffed laugh.   

“Ugh I know right? Definitely not me.”   

“And now you're stuck here...” Betty joked.   

“Yeah but it’s not all bad, I get to be with the man that I love, and his beautiful daughter calls me Mom so I’m pretty happy with that...” This made Betty heart swoon and she realized that so much time had passed and everyone around her had grown up, herself included- she'd just never taken the time to realize that.   

“Okay. Enough of the sap talk...” Betty said, shaking herself. Veronica laughed at her, making her way back behind the front counter. “I actually came in to see if you wanted to get drinks while I was back ?”   

“Yeah, definitely!” Veronica said. “How long are you here?”   

“I fly back Tuesday morning.”   

Veronica grabbed her phone, Betty suspected that she was looking at her calendar  

“How about tonight?” Veronica offered with a light laugh.   

“That works. What time are you off?”   

“How about we meet at Kim’s, say 7 o’clock?”   

“Perfect!” Just then a chime at the door signaled that someone had entered the store. “I’ll let you get back to work, bye V.” Betty gave her a smile and Veronica smile at her, whispering her goodbye before speaking to the customer that ventured through the small store’s aisles.   

 

Betty left Weatherbee’s, thanking the man that had opened the door for her to exit. She didn’t meet the man’s eyes, but if she had she would've realized that she’d just expressed gratitude to a familiar stranger. A man who’s eyes she used to get lost in just a decade previous.   

 

Betty met Veronica at Kim’s Bar at 7 o’clock on the dot. After she’d gone to the store earlier that afternoon, Betty had gone back to the Inn and taken short nap before she got up and changed into some nicer clothes. She changed into some gray plaid printed tight jeans that cinched high at her waist with a cute bow , a cream-colored sweater that hung off her one shoulder and some white sneakers.   

“Oh my gosh, you look adorable!” Veronica said once she saw Betty walk into Kim’s.   

“Thank you, so do you!” Betty hugged Veronica and hung her shoulder bag on her chair. She ordered a cocktail with the bartender and sat next to Veronica. Veronica had on a pair of black jeans and a baggy graphic tee with a turtleneck beneath it. S h e had pulled her dark hair half-back with a clip and Be tty took a moment to realize just how effortlessly beautiful she was. “Archie didn’t want to come?” Betty asked before she took a sip from her gin and tonic.   

“He’s got Lucy tonight and plus I thought I deserved a girl's night.” Veronica said cheekily.   

“Oh definitely!” Betty said with a laugh and then took another drink.   

The girls talked about more of Betty’s life in New York and how Veronica had come back to Georgia after college didn’t work out. They talked about Rachel and Michael and other friends that Betty had forgotten about since she’d been wrapped up on her busy life in the big city. Yet again, neither o ne of them brought up the farm. Perhaps Betty thought it was pathetic to want to go visit her grandfather’s old farm and that’s why she never wanted to bring it up. And yet, perhaps it was irrelevant seeing as no one themselves had brought it up to her.   

It came to her that night, as she sa t having drinks at Kim’s with Veronica, she was going to visit the farm the next day. She’d go to the fields and try and write, hoping the familiar air would trigger the inspiration within her and she’d be able to create again.   

 

Betty slept in late the next morning. Thankful that she hadn’t been gifted with a hangover. She hadn’t stayed out too late with Veronica that previous night, but long enough to properly catch up and promise to keep in touch even after Betty went back to New York. She got up and went down to the lobby to eat some breakfast. She changed into some jeans and a light tank top and cardigan. It wasn’t supposed to be cold, but it was slightly windy and a little cloudy out. She had pulled her stringy hair back into a low ponytail and put on some light mascara and blush just to bring a little color to her face. Betty packed a bag with he r journal, extra pens, and some small snacks. A few granola bars, some pretzels and Mabel had even made her some of her famous apple cider and Betty made sure to fill a thermos before she took a cab out to the farm. It was about a ten-mile ride from the Inn and Betty wasn’t sure why , but she was slightly nervous.   

She still hadn’t decided if she was going actually go up the house and knock on the door- making herself known to the new owners. She’d thought about introducing herself and asking if she could just take a quick look around- as creepy as she kn ew that sounded. Her brain felt like that one Miranda Lambert song , but she couldn’t help but want to reminisce  

 

Betty looked out at the overgrown sunflower fields. She let the late September wind fill her lungs as her low pony swung gently at the base of her neck. She folded her arms and hugged her cardigan closer to her body. She sat against the dead grass and wiped her hands on her thighs. She hummed as her thermos met her lips and her throat filled with warmth from her apple cider.   

There wasn’t anything that time hadn’t touched, and she realized just how long it’d been since she’d been back to the farm. She thought back to a few of the memories she’d stored away through time. Betty tucked her bangs behind one of her ears. She buried herself in her writing and didn’t hear the light shuffle of horse hooves sneak up behind her.   

“Excuse me, Miss...” A husky voice caused her to jump. “This is private property-” Betty couldn’t believe the midnight blue eyes that were staring back at her as she slowly closed the journal in her lap. “Betty?”   

“Jughead...”  

Chapter Text

Betty practically ignored Jughead for the rest of the week. Any glance that could be shared or touch that could be given simply ... wasn’t. She’d catch him looking at her and she’d look away; she’d flee a scene before he had any opportunity to catch her. Now she laid length wise across her mattress . With a pencil in her hand and her notebook below her, she tried to write but nothing came. Nothing had come all week and it was driving her crazy. All that she could think about was him. His face, his eyes, his arms- how his fingers hand felt on her cheek. Betty sighed aggravated and flipped over to her back in a huff. She had on a pale purple sundress and her hair was pulled back into a fishtail braid, the end falling in-between her shoulder blades. She thought about how she was going to spend the Fourth alone. She’d tho ught about asking Pop to go to town for the parade but there wasn’t a chance that he’d agree. Betty couldn’t practically already hear his, “too many people, dear.” speech.   

Of course, this made her think about Jughead. She’d hadn’t been outside today, so she wasn’t sure what he was up to. Perhaps he would still go to the watering hole with his friends, but perhaps he’d stay back and finish painting the shed- the project he’d been working on the whole prior week.   

She wasn’t sure if she was hearing things, but she swore she heard Pop laughing, floorboards creaking and noises coming closer to her room. And almost as if the devil had been listening to her thoughts, as her head hung off the side of her bed. Jughead stood upside-down in the door frame to her room.   

 

Jughead finished off a laugh with Pop as he made his way through the farmhouse . He cursed at himself internally for knowing exactly which room was hers. He’d watch her window throughout the day and at night he’d wait and watch for her light go out as he sat in the barn. He caught v ie w of her before he made himself known. He wasn’t sure why it made him nervous to see her- well besides the fact that she’d been avoiding him all week.   

She looked beautiful. He laughed under his breath as he watched her hang off her bed upside-down and blow a piece of hair from between her eyes . He could tell that the sun had begun to bring out her freckles. The little dots had popped up all over her cheeks, nose and shoulders - only enhancing her already effortless beauty. Then her eyes seemed to drift as they caught his and for a moment time was still.   

“Jughead.” She muttered, startled. She quickly sat up and stared gawkily at him.  

“You ready?” He muttered.   

“Ready for what?”   

“Come on, we’re going to Chum’s...” He said with a slight nervous laugh.   

“We’re what?” She said softly, slightly shocked.   

“Don’t tell me you forgot.”   

“Um I-, I-” She fumbled.   

“Get your suit, meet me outside in ten minutes.” He said with a smile and pointed at her, shaking his head. He shoved his hands into his pockets and left the entrance of her room.   

 

Betty blinked after a moment. Had he really just avoided her all week and then acted as if everything was fin e? She’d avoided him too, and it wasn’t that she didn’t want to go to Chum’s because she definitely did , but man was he aggravating  

She jumped up after a moment, realizing that she’d sat in her own stupor simply staring at her door frame after he’d walked away for a little to o long. She rummaged through her top dresser drawer and picked out a yellow polka dotted bikini. It was cute and comfortable, but still sex y without showing too much. She left on her lavender sundress and slipped her feet into some white flip flop sandals. Luckily, she’d gotten a beach bag ready with a towel, sunscreen , and some water a couple days prior , so she grabbed it and made her way outside.   

Jughead was already waiting for her in the truck when she found him. She noticed a cooler in the flatbed and suddenly got excited. She wasn’t sure if she was excited to spend the day with him or meet his friends, but nonetheless she was excited.   

“Ready?” He asked her once she seemed settled in the passenger seat. She simply nodded, afraid of what her voice might sound like once it left her throat.   

As they made their way to town Betty noticed that Jughead didn’t take the turn for Chum’s like he should’ve. She wondered if maybe he was lost or perhaps , he was just taking another way that she didn’t known about. But her being her had to know what he was doing. She trusted him, but her trust only went so far.   

“Um, where are we going?” She asked after looking out the windows at her unsure surroundings.   

“Oh, uh they don’t want there to be too many cars out at Chum’s- just in case it looks suspicious. I didn’t want to have Archie have to drive out to the farm , so I told him we’d meet him and Donna in town and just drive out there together.”   

“Oh okay.” Betty said with a nod.   

“Sorry I probably should’ve mentioned something...”   

“No, no it’s fine I was just curious.” Betty mumbled nervously as she pushed a strand of hair behind her ear.   

“Well, since we’re exploring our curiosities...” Jughead began to speak after a moment. “Is there a reason I was avoided all week.” Betty looked at him then, the blush grew in her cheeks and she felt the anxiety ripple through her stomach and lodge itself in the bottom of her throat . “Relax Betts, I’m only kidding.” Her breath left through her lips rather thickly. Almost as if she’d had relaxed, she turned her head to look at him and Jughead turned his head and winked at her.   

“I like when you call me that...” She admitted. Her voice she quiet and he’d barely heard it. Jughead didn’t respond and part of her was glad he didn’t. All he did was reach his hand over and set it on her knee. He gripped it before relaxing his fingers and tra cing them softly against her skin. His touch was enough to let Betty relax, almost as if her body was longing for his touch and she didn’t even know it.   

 

Once they reached town Jughead pulled out his ph one to text Archie and let them know where they were. He jumped from the truck and walked around to open Betty’s door. He offered her his hand and she graciously took it and climbed from the cab. However, Jughead didn’t let go he simply twined their fingers together. This made Betty shiver and look down at th e conjoined hands between their hips. She looked up a t him after a moment and their eyes met just briefly enough. Her innocence and doe like quality was striking against his raging storms. Just then he pulled her hand up to his lips and kissed it softy , their eyes never leaving each other's . This made Betty warm inside and her stomach did a somersault once more.   

“Betty?” S h e suddenly heard her named get called out. Betty looked around for the source of the voice and pulled her hand out of Jughead’s and ran to her once she realized who it was.   

“Rachel Weatherbee! How are you?” Betty and Rachel hugged, both of them smiling from ear to ear.   

Rachel was fifteen and her father owned the town’s convenience store. Betty hadn’t even realized that Jughead had parked in front of it until she looked up at the sign.   

“I’m good...” Rachel said smiling. “How are you?”   

“Great! I’m back for the summer!”   

“I heard! Pop told my dad a couple weeks back; I wasn’t sure when you we’re getting in.” Rachel told her. She had radiating blue eyes and her brown hair swung in layers at her mid-back. She wore the cutest pale blue sundress and the thin straps were tied into bows on top of each her shoulders. “And this must be, Jughead?”   

Jughead looked up when he heard his name. He’d let the girl s have their moment and had stepped away, glancing aimlessly into the store window. He looked at Betty and raised an eyebrow.   

“Pop talks a lot...” Betty said between the two of them with a small laugh. “What are you doing today? You should come to Chum’s with us.” Betty grabbed Rachel’s hand as she spoke. Part of her just really wanted to have a familiar face around whi le she was nervous out of her mind.   

“Ugh, I wish...” Rachel rolled her eyes. “My dad’s having me work the store during the parade, y ou know since he’s part of i t and all.”   

 

A baby blue Cadillac convertible pulled up on the street behind them and a high-pitched whistle entered Betty’s ears, making her look back toward the car. She watched as Archie pushed himself to his knees in the driver's seat and yelled at Jughead. She smiled when she saw Donna laughing at the two boys' antics. From afar, Donna was gorgeous. She had chestnut brown hair that laid softly on both sides of her face. She rose in her seat enough for Betty to notice her baby blue bikini top. Its color matched that of the Cadillac. Both Rachel and Betty watched as Jughead carried the cooler from the back of Bertha’s tail to the trunk of the Ca d dy.   

“Are you and Jughead?” Rachel whispered close to Betty’s ear.   

“No.” Betty said quickly. “No, I mean he’s staying in Pop’s barn and-” Unsure of where the sentence was going, she paused. “We’re just friends .”     

“He’s cute.” Rachel said, shrugging at the blonde. Betty glanced back at Jughead who caught her gaze and winked at her before wiping his hands on the thighs of his shorts. Betty nervously pushed a stray strand of hair behind her ear and bit her lip  

“Ugh...” She finally sighed, looking back at Rachel. “I know, right?” She said and it caused Rachel to laugh. This caused Betty to laugh and lean into her.   

“Hey, Betts...” Jughead’s voice caught her attention and she looked at him. “You ready to go?” She nodded to him and looked at Rachel and hugged her, promising that they’d hang out together before the summer was over.   

 

Betty walked over to Archie’s Cadillac and Jughead opened the door for her to climb into the back seat.   

“Betty...” Archie began to speak as Jughead got into the back seat with her. “This is Donna, Donna this is Betty .”   

“Okay, Jughead told me you were pretty but my oh my- you are gorgeous!” Donna gushed , speaking like a true southern woman . Betty glanced at Jughead who blushed past his ears.   

“Jeez Donna let up...” Archie said, lightly.   

“Sorry, sorry but it’s true...” Donna laughed.   

“Well thank you.” Betty said, her cheeks already rosy. She turned her head to look at Jughead again while Archie put the car in drive and pushed on the gas. Betty watched as Veronica Lodge walked up to Rachel and it made her happy to see that the girls were still friends. They walked back into the convenience store together. She waved to Rachel and Veronica through the store window as they drove away.  

 

As they drove to Chum’s Betty let the light hair fill her lungs as its strength caused her hair to fly in all different directions. They were almost there when Betty realized that Jughead had put his hand on her knee. Seemingly unable to keep his hands off her. She grew en ough courage to finally take his hand in her own, lacing their fingers together. She swore that Donna was watching them from the rear-view mirror. Jughead caught her eyes and she laughed softly between them. He brought her hand up to his mouth and pressed the back of it against his lips. It made the butterflies swirl even harder than they already were, like they always did when she was around him.   

When the four of them reached the beach, they unloaded all their things. Donna and Archie went to say hello to some people they knew that we’re also spending their day at the swimming hole. Jughead made sure to never leave Betty’s side for too long. Perhaps he was scared to leave her by herself, knowing that she didn’t really know anyone but him- and even then, she didn’t really know him.  

“Can you get my back?” She asked him softly once she’d settled onto her towel on the shore. She handed him her bottle of sunscreen , which Jughead took willingly. He rubbed the lotion into her skin, gripping the tops of her shoulders as Betty writhed from side t o side with her eyes closed. She could suddenly fe e l his breath against the back of her neck , and it sent shivers down her spine. Goosebumps grew across her skin when she felt his lips brush against soft spot behind her ear. She wasn’t sure what had gotten into him, he was being more playful and sweeter with her- which she didn’t hate, but she couldn’t lie and say it wasn’t terrifying her. He did it again and Betty’s hand crept around o n the ground to find his. She bit into her bottom lip and gripped his fingers with hers.   

“Hey, Betty!” She suddenly heard her name be called and snapped out of her little bubble that she’d created.   

“Go,” Jughead muttered as he pressed his lips on her shoulder.   

Donna had called out from her. She was standing with a couple other girls across the swimming hole and it made Betty feel nice that Donna seemed to want to include her. She left Jughead with a smile and walked over to Donna.  

“Betty,” Donna spoke. She handed Betty a red solo cup and Betty looked inside to discover its contents. It was beer, not her favorite, but she felt guilted into sipping on it. Her neck still tingled from where Jughead had branded her with his lips. “This is Josie and Joan .”   

“Hi,” Betty smiled at them.   

“Girls, this is Betty. You know Earl’s Sunnies ?” Both Josie and Joan nodded profusely . “This is his granddaughter!” Donna said, her hand on Betty’s arm.   

“Oh my gosh,” Josie began to gush . “His flowers are beautiful!”   

“He tries...”  Betty laughed. “I’ll make sure I tell him . H e loves good reviews. Although he definitely doesn’t need his ego boosted anymore.” Betty ended with a laugh and the other girls joined in.   

“Josie and Joan go to Millwood with us...” Donna said. Betty nodded as she took a hesitant sip from her cup.   

Josie was wearing a stunning burnt orange strapless one piece, with a matching sarong that looked gorgeous against her dark skin tone . Betty knew that she had no intention of getting into the water. Joan was a little more reserved with a pale pink high waisted two piece that had some rouging . Sh e had stark black hair and was of course also stunning.   

“I’m just trying to figure out how none of us have ever met...” Betty muttered.   

“That’s because these girls are from Holling...” Betty recognized Jughead’s voice as i t entered her ears from behind. It made her smile and she was almost sure that the girls knew it too. Betty recognized Holling as the second town over. It was larger and had more resources and it made perfect sense as to why they’d all be from there.  

“Jughead...” Josie suddenly spoke. A little spiteful, Betty seemed to gather.   

“Josie...” Jughead nodded. “Joan.” He smiled softly. He rested a hand at the small of Betty’s back and the goosebumps started again.   

Oh yeah,” Donna spoke again. “Jughead’s with Betty...” Betty clammed then , shifting her feet against the rock below them . She thought that she might cru sh the plastic cup in her hands, before she clear ed her throat. Jughead’s hand rubbed up and down on her skin in an attempt to calm her.   

Donna let up , would you ? ” Jughead muttered, slightly angered. Josie and Joan just took sips from their own cups and raised their eyebrows, act ing oblivious to the suddenly tense surrounding  

“You being mischievous, babe?” Archie suddenly walked closer.   

 “You wanna go for a swim?” Jughead leaned in and muttered close to Betty’s ear. She turned her head and nodded, giving him a soft smile. He took her cup from her and tossed its contents into the grass, handing the empty back to Donna.  

“I- ” Donna started to speak but stopped as the two of them walked away.   

“Never feel like you need to impress them...” Jughead spoke quietly as they walked to the water. “I know they can be intimidating...” He spoke, seemingly speaking her thoughts aloud. “I’m sorry, I should’ve warned you.”   

“It’s okay.” She gave him a gentle smile.   

They crept into the water, allowing the cooling sensation against their skin to overwhelm them. It brought Betty back to their day at the lake and she smiled.   

“What are you smiling about?” Jughead asked her.   

“I’m just thinking about when we were stranded at the lake...” She said as she swam idly near him.   

“Oh...” Jughead started, smiling mischievously. “You mean when you did this!” He said as he splashed her, pushing waves of water in her direction. She gasped before they both began to laugh.   

Jughead grabbed her then, pulling her against him. His strong hands on her sides were causing her brain to turn to mush. The sun above them was hot and bright, she left her sunglasses on the shore and she was suddenly regretting it. In all honesty, she was thinking of anything to distract herself from being held against Jughead’s side underneath the water. She was so confused as to what it all meant. They’d avoided each other like the plague for an entire week, after sharing even the most minuscule moment at the lake. And then he’d kissed behind her ear, held her hand, and seemed to always have contact with some part of her skin and as good as it felt it always left her confused. Also, intimacy in large groups of people definitely wasn’t her style and even Jughead couldn’t change that.  

They swam for a while longer. They watched people jump, dive and cannonball into the water. They laughed and smiled as Betty tried to ignore Jughead’s hands on her body. It just seemed natural after a while; she began not to hate it as much as she thought. His thumbs stroking lazily on her sides underneath the lukewarm water was welcoming and comforting. When they catch a moment to get away, they take it.  

Betty lays on her towel on the shore to dry off and Jughead disappears . She suspects that Jughead has run off with his friends which is more than fine with her. It isn’t quiet by any means. But she’s able to get a little tan in amongst the chaos in her ears. She hears a bunch of people talking about the fireworks later in the night. S h e knows that they’ll be put on by the town and can’t believe that she ’d almost forgotten about them. The fireworks were always her favorite part of the fourth.   

“Betts...” She turned her head in the direction of the voice. She smiled when she opened her eyes and saw Jughead sitting beside her. The sun had shifted, and they were now completely in the shade. She pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head as she sat up beside him. Everyone that had been around them had seemingly scattered. Betty watched everyone else mingling across the swimming hole- wondering what it must look like to them with only her, Jughead and a few straggly towels across the shore. 

  Her bikini was entirely dry , and her skin broke out in small goosebumps, the wind blowing apart the branches above their heads. “Oh, here.” Jughead said suddenly.   

He handed her his t-shirt and she hadn't even realized that she’d wrapped her arms around herself instinctively. She knew that she very well could just slip on her own sundress, but she liked the warmth that slithered through her bones at the thought of wearing his shirt.   

“Thank you,” Betty quivered as the scent of him enveloped her. He turned his head to look at her and his eyes softened as they looked at her. “What?” She laughed nervously, biting into her bottom lip. She watched as his eyes flickered from her eyes to her lips and then back up again.  

“You’re really beautiful, you know that?” He spoke gently. So qui et between them that she knew it was only an intimate moment for the two of them. She blushed from the tips of her ears to the end of her toes. Her stomach tightened and she knew her cheeks had grown in two shades of crimson.   

Was this it? She thought to herself. She’d taken out her braid when they were swimming and her hair was almost d ry and frizzy around her. She lifted an instinctive hand to push some run away strands behind her ear.   

Suddenly Jughead’s face shifted and her caught her hand in his own. He opened her clenched fingers to reveal the crescents that laid there from their encounter at the lake the previous week.   

“What’s this?” He asked gently. His voice carried no judgement, but it didn’t change Betty’s face from turning a new red from embarrassment. She tried to rip her hand away from his grasp , but Jughead only held on harder to h er wrist.   

“Jug...” Betty squeaked, her voice quiet and meek. They were in the middle of such a good moment and she’d gone and ruined it with her own internal darkness.   

“Betts...” He muttered between them. “Talk to me.”   

After a moment Betty gave in and gave him her other hand to hold. He rubbed lazy and absent-minded circles agains t th e skin of her wrists while he held them, his eyes never leaving h ers  

“What- Wh -” He stuttered trying to gather his thoughts, afraid that he would say the wrong thing. Jughead noticed that the marks were almost healed, meaning they weren’t recent, but he also knew that there was a story there and he’d get it out of her even if it killed him. “When?” He finally spoke a single word.   

“Last week...” She looked down at the ground between them and sniffled, unable to meet his eyes. “At the lake.”   

“I made you do this?” He spoke softly, his voice heavy with guilt.   

“No!” She spoke suddenly, pulling her hands away from him once more. “No Jug, no...” Again, he didn’t let go of her hands. “I- I-”   

“Betty...” He spoke gently and caused her eyes to lift and soften against his. “I know a coping mechanism when I see one.”  

“Jug-”   

“You don’t talk about it, huh?” He asked and she shook her head.   

“It- It’s like this darkness just takes over me and I- I-” She stuttered. “It just happens... I try to stop it- but sometimes I can’t.” She shrugged to him.   

“Betty...” His eyes softened as they had a conversation with nothing but their irises. He held both of her h a nds in his, pressing them together before holding them tight. “This doesn’t define you.” He lifted them up to his mouth and pressed his lips gently against her fingers. She sniffled again, tears threatening her eyes. “But please...” He plead. “Never let me be the reason you do this...” He defined his point by tugging on both of her hands before kissing them again, closing his eyes to simper in the feel of her skin.   

“Hey, Jughead!” Someone yelled loud enough to capture their attention from across the water.   

“Come on,” Jughead said after a moment. He stood and wiped his hands on his swim shorts before offering them to her to help her up from the ground. “Let’s go get some food.”   

Betty smiled back at him and took his hands to stand. She held his t-shirt closer to her body before Jughead reached for her hand and they walked over to everyone else.   

 

Later that night they rode back into town for the fireworks. Donna fell asleep on Archie’s should er and it made Betty smile when he leaned over to kiss the top of her head. Her and Jughead sat hand in hand in the back of the convertible. A smile hadn’t left her face all day, and although she couldn’t deny that she was extremely sun tired, she had such a good day with him t hat she didn’t care. Her feelings for him were beginning to scare her. She didn’t know what they all meant or if he even felt the same way- not that she could describe what she was feeling anyway. She felt her head begin to bob and her eyes slowly getting heavier to open. Betty instinctively leaned into Jughead and she felt laughter bubble in his chest causing her to open her eyes slowly and look at him.   

“Rest...” He laughed softly. “I’ll wake you when we get back.” He whispered. Betty nodded haphazardly and closed her eyes once more, her heart growing with warmth when Jughead pulled her close and placed his lips against he r temple before allowing her to curl into his shoulder and side.   

 

“Should we wake them?” Archie muttered into the rearview mirror. Ju ghead looked up from his gaze on Betty, knowing he was quickly beginning to fight his own threat of slumber. He laughed softly at his redheaded best friend and looked at the girl sleeping soundly against his shoulder, her fingers still interlaced with his. They’d been sitting in a parking spot at the library for the last fifteen minutes, just watching the girls sleep. There was still an hour or so until nightfall but they both knew they shouldn’t let them sleep very much longer. Archie knew for sure that much like a toddler, Donna would have a nasty attitude if she slept too much yet not enough. “You really like her, huh?” Archie spoke softly after lifting his gaze from Donna.   

“Yeah man,” Jughead smiled softly. “I really do.” He looked up at Archie and shook his head. “It’s crazy though, right? I mean we can’t work , and I always said that I would never have a s ummer fling.”   

“I don’t think so...” Archie shook his head after a scoffed laugh. “I mean it could work; you never know.” He shrugged.   

“Yeah, I guess.”   

Jughead couldn’t lie and say that the thought of anything more than being friends with Betty utterly terrified him. He knew that he’d have to go back to Millwood in a few months and she’d go back to New York - and it just wouldn’t be good for either of them. Part of him also felt guilty for feeling the things he was feeling. His feelings had taken over him out of nowhere and he hadn’t even talked to her about it- and self-doubt always lives within , so he found himself wondering if he was only imagining that she might feel the same things that he was. He’d always been an emotional person; some might even label him as sensitive. Jughead often caught himself wondering why he felt things so deeply or if his feelings were invalid. But now, with Betty sleeping on his shoulder- the scent from his t-shirt still clinging to her skin, he didn’t care if it was wrong or if they’d even work. He knew it wasn’t smar t, but he was suddenly in the mo o d to be very very stupid.   

 

“Donna?” Archie shook Donna’s shoulder as he kissed her forehead to wake her. Jughead whispered Betty’s name in stereo and pushed some of the hair from her face as her eyes fluttered open to meet his. She smile d a half d rowsy smile at him , and he could practically feel his heart grow three sizes at the site of her.   

“Hi,” She whispered through a smile, her eyes reclosing to adjust to the intrusion of the half set sun.   

“Hi,” He echoed, smiling at her through a half laugh. They watched as Archie kissed Donna’s drowsy pout playfully and both laughed gently. Betty pushed a strand of hair behind her ear nervous and Jughead gasped her cheek in the palm of his hand. “You ready?” She smiled and nodded after a moment. She rose her hand to grip his fingers against her cheek. “Let’s go.”   

 

The four went to the towns baseball field and reserved a spot to sit and watch the show. Archie and Donna had brought flannel blankets to lay on the grass and Jughead had brought the cooler that had sandwiches and drinks. Betty had begun to notice that no matter the time, Jughead was always hungry. The sun setting was beautiful, and Betty honestly couldn’t beli e ve that she was there. She thought back to the times as a little girl when she’d come to town with her dad and Pop and watch the fireworks. The towns people would hand out glow sticks and she’d run around the grass with Polly getting eaten alive by mosquitos and laughing their heads off.   

The dark skies forming above them were clear and beginning to show the most beautiful stars. Betty wrapped her hands around her bare arms, a chill setting in against her skin as she glanced around at everyone.   

“Are you cold?” Jughead muttered next to her.   

“A little.” Betty surrendered to him.   

“I have a jacket in the truck. Weatherbee’s isn’t too far from here, I’ll go grab it.” He moved to stand, and Betty put a hand on his arm.   

“The show’s about to start Jug, I can go get it.”    

“Oh yeah , like he’s gonna let you go alone.” Donna spoke over them with a half laugh.   

“Come on, let’s go before the fireworks start.” Jughead said as he held a hand out for her. Betty took his hand and stood, and they walked quickly to the truck.   

 

The crowds got the best of them as Jughead pulled Betty along behind him. By the time them reached his truck the only light against the sky was the streetlights that were still lit on main street and they were laughing and smiling. Jughead opened the cab of the truck and handed Betty the jacket that he pulled out of the back seat.   

“Thanks...” She said as she moved her hair to the side and slipped her arms into the sleeves as Jughead held it out for her. She turned to look at him and her their eyes softened. His glance always hit a nerve within her that she never wanted to accept. It was like she was trying to deny their chemistry. She could call them friends- but they weren’t because friends didn’t act like that. “And Jug,”   

“Hmm?” He turned back on his heel with both of his hands in his pockets.   

“Thank you for today...” She said simply. “For everything.”   

Jughead walked back to her and held one of his hands out for her to grab. He seemingly shook his head with his tongue in his cheek and smiled. He leaned in and rested his forehead against hers, grabbing both of her hands with his. The street around them was empty and silent but he could feel her sigh as a heavy breath left her lips.   

“I meant what I said today Betts...” He spoke, deciding to throw all caution to the wind. “I hope you know how beautiful you are.”   

“Jug,” Betty could feel his breath against the skin of her face as he spoke so intimately close to her. “I don’t-”   

“Don’t say anything.” He let go of her hands to place both of his on her cheeks, holding her face. He hesitated for a moment, giving her a second to pull away if she wanted to. But she didn’t.   

Jughead leaned in and placed his lips softly against hers. He kissed her gently, holding her face and feeling her relax underneath his touch. He pulled away after a moment and leaned back enough to gla nce at her. Betty’s eyes fluttered open and her hands met instinctively at his forearms. She watched as his eyes flickered from her dilated eyes to her plush lips and then back again.   

Their lips met again, and Betty gripped his arms with her fingers, pouring herself into his mouth. A sudden loud pop erupted above them, and she jumped, pulling away from him. A vibrant starburst lit of the sky with shades of purple, green, and red before other simultaneous bangs filled their ears. They both looked up to watch the shades of color rain down of them in smoke and ash before loo king back at each other . Betty took a moment to examine his face against the bright contrast of the fireworks. She smiled big after a moment and bit into her bottom lip, launching herself softly at him and holding his face in her hands.   

They both got a mouthful of teeth before she kissed him again- not believing the cinematic moment that she got to share with him.   

Needless to say, they both knew what it meant. She definitely wasn’t just a friend.     

Chapter Text

“Excuse me, Miss...” A husky voice caused her to jump. “This is private property-” Betty couldn’t believe the midnight blue eyes that were staring back at her as she slowly closed the journal in her lap. “Betty?”  

“Jughead...” Betty took a moment to stand. She wiped her hands on her jeans but her shocked eyes never left his. “What are you-” She suddenly realized that the lite farmhouse was illuminated behind him and reality hit her like a truck. “Wait you own the farm?”  

Her voice broke at the end and Jughead’s eyes looked sad but glanced back at her gently. He took a moment get off his horse and stood a few feet away from her.  

“I haven’t seen you in...”  

“Ten years.” Betty spoke for him. Just then thunder rumbled loudly above them and Betty shook slightly.  

“What are you doing here?” He asked her. His voice was still as gentle with her as she remembered, and her stomach was swirling.  

“I- I,” Betty stuttered. The thunder rumbled above them once more just before the clouds started to rain down on them. “I’ll go.” Betty began to gather her things. Shoving her journal and pens back into her bag.  

“Betty!” Jughead yelled through the rain. “Betty!” He yelled once more when she didn’t acknowledge him. Lightening lit up the sky and Jughead knew that they we’re in for a nasty storm- both figuratively and literally. He knew that she wasn’t going to listen to him and the initial shock of seeing him must’ve rocked her to her core. He thought back to the previous afternoon when he could've sworn that she’d walked out of Weatherbee’s Convenience Store, but he thought that there had to be no way. There was no way that she’d come back. Not if what he’d heard about her was true.  

He walked closer to her and reached for her elbow. Betty jumped and looked back at him against the showers.  

“Come to the house...” He yelled at her.  

“No Jughead, it’s fine. I’m just gonna call a cab.” Jughead met her grasp on the ground and grabbed her bag before she could, growling into the air- frustrated that she was still as stubborn as he remembered.  

“God damnit Betty, come to the house!” He yelled once more. He watched her eyes as a sense of surrender seemed to enter them. Perhaps she knew that he was right and she most likely wouldn’t get a cab to come back out to the farm during a storm like this. Thunder rumbled again before she just looked at him and nodded. “We’ll have to walk- the thunder still spooks Beauty.” He gestured to the house.  

Betty recognized her then. Just the small foal she remembered was now large and beautiful. She still had white patches on the bottom of each leg just like Betty had remembered and it made her smile. “Come on girl.” Jughead muttered. He was still carrying Betty’s bag as he rubbed his hand down Beauty’s snout. Beauty shook her head at him and huffed out her nose as Jughead took her reigns and began to lead her back to the stables.  

 

They ran from the stables to the house, neither one of them said another word, by the time they got inside they were dripping wet and making puddles on the kitchen floor. Her chest was heaving as she looked at him in the low light. She looked around and noticed that the cabinets were different, without him needing to tell her she knew that he’d built them himself. Thunder continued to ripple through the sky outside, the clouds so dark that it seemed like nightfall.  

Jughead moved to the main room and put some wood in the fireplace, afraid that the rain would cause her to chill.  

“Jug,” She stuttered, her voice meek.  

“I’m going to grab to some dry clothes...” He walked to the hall and disappeared from her view.  

Her voice crippled him. He could sense her fear and the brokenness she was feeling because of him. He knew that he was the last one that she expected to see. As he wrestled through his clothes to find her one of his t-shirts, he couldn’t get her face out of his head. He hadn’t seen her in ten years, and she was just as beautiful as he remembered... Possibly even more? She had grown into a beautiful woman. Even as she stood soaking wet in his kitchen, her hair stuck to her cheeks and shivering. He quickly stripped himself of his own wet clothes as the thunder got so loud that he swore it could shake the house. He changed into a dry t-shirt and jeans, deciding that he couldn’t avoid her any longer.  

“I got-” He began to speak as he entered the kitchen again. But Betty wasn’t there, she’d definitely left behind a puddle, that was clear enough, but Betty was gone. He suddenly noticed a soft hue coming from the hallway on the opposite side of the house. It suddenly hit him, and he knew exactly where to find her. “Betts?” He spoke softly as he entered the hall and found her in her old bedroom.  

“It’s the same...” She said as she looked at him. His use of her old nickname pulled at the strings of her heart. She had her hand pressed against the wallpaper and she had tears in her eyes. “It’s the same.” She said again, nodding at him.  

“I couldn’t change it...” He spoke softly. He wanted to lie to her. Tell her that he just hadn’t gotten around to it or that it was next on his list, but he didn’t- he couldn’t.   

Jughead knew that she was holding back her tears. A part of him wanted to hold her, something had happened to her and he wanted to fix it. She lost it then. She continued to nod at his words when her nose and lips scrunched into her eyes and a sob escaped her throat. Jughead’s heart began to crumble to his feet, her tears crushing him, and they’d barely spoken three sentences to each other. He hadn’t spoken to her in so long that she very well could be a different person- and yet he still remembers every memory he shared with the girl he once loved.  

“I’m sorry...” She gasped after a moment, apologizing to him. Jughead wasn’t sure how he should respond so he just slowly walked to the bed and set down the clothes he’d gathered for her. He shut the door before he left and cursed at himself for leaving her crying in her childhood bedroom- alone.   

 

Jughead wasn’t sure how long it took before she joined him again. He added more wood to the growing fire and got a kettle going on the stove. The storm only continued to rage on outside and he feared for how his horses must be reacting in the stables. Eventually though, Betty’s quiet footsteps echoed into his ears and she joined him in the kitchen. At just the sight of her, he knew she was still cold. He’d given her one of his t-shirts and a pair of flannel pajama pants, but it didn’t seem to be enough.  

“There’s a blanket on the back of the couch.” He gestured towards the living room with his chin and Betty looked up at him, her eyes parting slightly. Perhaps she hadn't realized that he’d known she was cold. Or maybe it was surreal to her that he’d even taken notice.  

She grabbed it anyway, wrapping it around her shoulders, closing her eyes and simpering when the familiar scent of him entered her senses. Jughead poured them each a glass of hot tea. He found her in the living room and handed her one of the mugs. She thanked him and took a cautious sip, welcoming the hot liquid into her throat.  

Her hair was still very wet, and she knew that it was the cause for her chilling. So, she sat down on the floor in front of the fireplace- hoping that it would dry her hair, even just a little. They sat in silence for a little longer. Her gaze remained on the bright flickering flames and his remained on her as he sat on the sofa. They only sound that entered their ears was the rippling thunder outside.  

“Why’d you stop writing?” She spoke softly after a while. Her tone lacked any sense of emotion and she never moved her eyes to him, even as she spoke directly to him. She thought she could hear him scoff and it only made her roll her eyes.  

“Why’d you stop calling?” He retorted back after a moment. She shook her head into her lap with her tongue in her cheek before she spoke again.  

“You were supposed to come to New York...” She said as she used her hand to push herself around on the floor, turning herself around to face him.  

“You were supposed to come to Millwood.”  

What is this? A game of tit for tat? Arguing would prove nothing.  

“I- I’m sorry, you’re just the last person I expected to see...” She admitted.  

“I know.” He said as he leaned on his knees, facing her. Betty could feel the heat from the fire burning into her back, causing a tight and tingly feeling against her skin.  

“Why didn’t you come?” Betty asked him curiously. Her voice was meek and caught in her throat. “You changed your number, you stopped writing...” She sighed and ran a frustrated hand through her hair. She stood with an aggravated huff, ready to fight if he really wanted to.  

“Because you deserved better...” He spoke softly, his eyes never meeting hers. “And you did better!” He stood then, coming face to face with her. “You graduated college and got a job! An amazing job-”  

“You’ve kept tabs on me?” She asked. Her tone sounded slightly offended and he winced.  

“Betty...”  

“I waited for you!” She yelled then, catching his attention. He could see the tears in her eyes once more. “I waited at the airport for seven hours that day!” She continued to raise her voice.“I waited for you for five years!” She gasped. “I wondered if you were going to show up at my door or call one day out of the blue! When Archie came to Pop’s funeral and you didn’t, I was crushed, and I wasn’t even sure why because we hadn’t seen each other for over five years!” She began to gesture with her hands, a telltale sign that she was mad. “I needed you!” She continued to yell. “I waited for you to walk into this room at his wake...” Her voice catching once more as she pointed repeatedly at the wood floors beneath them. “And now you own his farm...”  

“Betty I-”  

“I expected some hermit couple- I thought I was going to have to come up with some elaborate story and try not to sound craz ier than I’m sure I would’ve... And it’s you .”  

They sat in silence for a moment, the anger raging within her as tears rolled down her pale cheeks.  

“You broke my heart...” Her voice cracking through a sniffle.  

“I don’t know what you want me to say...” He said, raising his voice more than he meant to.  

“Say anything...” Betty offered, she wiped one of her hands across her cheeks to catch her runaway tears. “Like how I had no idea that you now own the farm.”  

“I- I dropped out of school.” He said simply.  

“You what?”  

“I- I came back here to stay with Archie and I was here when I found out about Pop but I, I-”  

“You knew I’d be there, so you didn’t come.” Betty spoke the truth for him. Realizing his words before he even had to speak them into existence.  

“I’m sorry.” He said meekly.  

“You’re sorry?” Betty gasped incredulously. “You’re sorry?” She repeated.  

“You just, I know how things ended between us- I hurt you and I know that, and I knew that you didn’t deserve to be put through any more pain...”  

“You know what I think?” Betty muttered between them, rage beginning to boil in her veins. She didn’t give any chance to answer before she started to speak again. “I think that you were scared.”  

“Yeah?” Jughead muttered, his own voice traced with anger.  

“Yeah!” Betty yelled back at him. “Also, none of this explains why we’re standing in the living home of my childhood home... You honestly never thought I’d find out? Really Jug-”  

“Damnit, can you let me speak!?” His voice growing between in the dimly lit room. You could tell by the look on Betty’s face that his voice had startled her. She took a step back and hugged the blanket closer to her body. He sighed then; his face laced with apology as he ran an aggravated palm over it.  

“Unless...” Betty spoke softly, giving him a second to interrupt her if he wanted to.  

“Betts-”  

No... No, he doesn’t get to call me that anymore . She thought, her heart twisting in her chest.  

“Unless that’s what you wanted... You wanted me to find out that you bought the farm.” She spoke the words as a statement- a whispered statement. Jughead sighed loudly, his gaze falling to his feet as he shook his head.  

“So, what if I did?!” He said slightly raising his tone once more. “It- it doesn’t change anything.”  

“Okay, then do you want to explain how you know everything about my life?” She said with a half laugh, her hands coming up and then slapping back down to her sides audibly. She sniffled audibly, her frustration making itself known.  

“Seriously Betty? You grew up in this damn town. Everyone here knows you, it’s not that hard to get information around here.”  

“You- You asked about me?” She asked him.  

Jughead scoffed into the air once more and shook his head at her. He began to pace in front of the couch and pinched the bridge of his nose between his index finger and thumb.  

“You- You are impossible.” Jughead stuttered as he shook his and ran his hand over his mouth, with his other on his hip.  

 

Just then, as they stared at each other in silence, all the lights around them- although dim, we’re suddenly dark. The only light that illuminated the house and them was that of the fire in the living room. Betty glanced around at the darkness, her pulse quickening when lightning and thunder pounded against the house.  

“Damnit...” Jughead cursed against the darkness. “I have a flashlight in the kitchen, I’ll grab it.”  

Betty listened and could hear him shuffling and rummaging through drawers in the kitchen. He cursed again, dropping something that tumbled to the floor in a ricochet. She suddenly saw him silhouette in the doorway of the kitchen. 

“The batteries are dead, but I have lanterns in the stables...” He spoke through the darkness. “I’ll get them and check on Beauty and Cruze.” He reached for a jacket then.  

“Cruze?” Betty asked, softly.  

“My new mustang.” He said simply.  

“Oh.”  

“Stay here.” He demanded slipping on his boots.  

“Jug, I-”  

“For once,” His tone clipped and stern. “Please do what you’re told.”  

 

With that he gripped the door and yanked on it, the loud noises from the storm echoing through the house. The door slammed shut after him in the wind and it made Betty jump. She unconsciously played with the locket round her neck and chewed her bottom lip. She used to love storms but something inside of her felt eerie and it made her uneasy. She suddenly wanted him to come back, now.   

 

Jughead grunted into the bitter air as he walked to the stables. He had his hood up on his jacket, but it didn’t stop the heavy pour from soaking him entirely all over again. He walked the path to the stables from memory. Unable to make out any features in the land in the pitch black. He couldn’t stop his mind from narrowing in on Betty. She was here, standing in his living room, wrapped in his favorite blanket, and livid with him.  

He couldn’t help but picture her in his head. She was beautiful and she still wore the locket. He noticed that she still fiddled with it unconsciously, just like he remembered. He wondered why she still wore it- and then he thought that it must not represent what he thought it once did.  

 

Jughead opened the stables heavy doors and peered inside. He searched frantically for the lanterns he knew that he had, to give him some source of light. He could practically feel Cruze’s panic in his bones, let alone hear the mustang's anxiety. Jughead had feared that this would happen. He and Cruze were still a new pairing. He’d bought the stark black mustang at an auction a couple of months back, but never got around to properly training or bonding with him. He made the mistake of approaching the mustang.  

“Hey bud...” Jughead spoke gently. “It’s alright.”  

Jughead used his hand to stroke down Cruze’s snout. The mustang neighed loudly as lightening from outside illuminated his tight stall. He rose on his hind legs and Jughead began to yell over the thunder in an attempt to calm him, but Cruze bucked- kicking Jughead in the ribs and leaving him stumbling backward, trying to catch his breath. He staggered backward and got caught in the corner of the stall. Jughead fell into a fearful huff and Cruze neighed loudly again and bucked just right.  

The mustang’s shoe caught Jughead’s head and suddenly he was in darkness again. He felt numb as he fell into a deep slumber.  

 

Jughead had been gone long. Too long. Betty thought as she rested on his couch. She rested her head against the arm of it, still wrapped in his blanket, the fire warming her. She hadn’t known that she dozed off until a loud pop of thunder caused her to jump awake. She gasped and shot upward, unsure of her surroundings. She gripped the arm of the couch and glanced around the still dark house. Her skin grew goosebumps and she shuddered with fear. Where was he? What had happened? She went to the kitchen and tried to peer through the window, but it was no use, she couldn’t see a thing. Betty took a moment to think about what she should do. She knew that surely, she needed to go after him, but she was scared of what she’d find. Maybe he just couldn’t find that lanterns or perhaps he just needed a reason to avoid her a little more. But then her brain started to swirl with her memories of him as she chewed on her lip once more. There was no way that he’d leave her alone in the dark during a storm, it just wasn’t like him.  

She searched around for another one of his jackets. She tied on a pair of his much too large boots and attempted to search for an umbrella- a little hard in the dark so she surrendered and took a deep breath with her eyes closed before she opened the kitchen door and set out for her adventure.  

 

When she reached the stables, she called out for him. Her voice was echoed and dimmed by the falling rain. But she yelled and then yelled again. She looked around but didn’t spot him. But then she noticed a dim hue from one of the stalls. She creeped up on it carefully, quickly noticing that the horse contained within it was very distressed. She remembered what they used to do with Beauty when she was a foal and would get spooked during thunderstorms. Now the mustang was definitely five times the size of a foal, so she knew she needed to be careful. She closed the door of the stable barn, making sure it was secure before she went back to Cruze.  

As she came up to the door of the stall. She could see Jughead laying limp, slumped in the close corner and she gasped. He was only illuminated by the lantern that laid on its side nearby and her anxiety bubbled into her throat. Betty reached for the lock on the stall door and carefully positioned herself behind it as she opened it and let Cruze rush out, still contained within the walls but not within the stall.  

“Jug...” She gasped as she met at his side. Her hand swept over his brow and she noticed it was suddenly wet. Blood. She thought. She grabbed the lantern for light so she could closer examine him. He had blood streaked through his long hair and forehead. She didn’t realize but she was crying. She was overwhelmed and scared and unsure of what to do.  

“Jug!” She yelled again, shaking his shoulders in an attempt to wake him. “Wake up, Jug... Wake up!”  

He groaned groggily then. His chest rustling under her hands. He was drenched and she knew that she needed to get him back inside. But she couldn’t do it alone, so she knew she needed to get him awake.  

“Juggie!” Her hand stroked over his cheek. “Please wake up Jug,” She gasped. “Ugh,” She racked her brain with everything that she had. She wiped her tears away and suddenly had his blood on her face. He groaned again and Betty sighed. She slapped him then... hard. His eyes shot opened and she gasped, both of their chests heaving.  

“Betty,” His hands reached for her and hers still held his face.  

“Can you walk? We need to get you back inside...” She spoke quickly. “I’ll help you come on.”  

“What? What happened?” He spoke, confused.  

“He must’ve knocked you out... You're bleeding.” She said reaching for his forehead. Jughead’s fingers met her fingers at his brow and he hissed through his teeth. 

“Cruze,” Jughead spoke suddenly, obviously worried about the mustang.  

“He’s- he’s fine,” Betty calmed him. “I let him out, he’s roaming the stable, but he’s fine.” She soothed. “Give me your hands.” She told him.  

Jughead took her hands and she pulled him into a sitting position. She gave him a second, knowing he’d probably be dizzy. She noticed blood against the wooden wall and the hay that had been beneath him. She cursed below her breath when she raised the lantern to see it more clearly.  

“We’ll go slow... But we need to get back inside, can you manage?” He seemed to nod slowly, wincing. Betty helped him stand and looped a lazy arm over her shoulder. He was drowsy and groggy, and it was scaring her.  

“The back- the back door,” he managed to mumble. Betty lifted the lantern that she held in her hand and sought out the door that he kept mentioning. She found it after a second, his weight wearing on her as she held him to her side.  

“Jug,” She gasped as she reached the door and grasped its handle. “Jug- Jug, stay awake!” She said, panicky. She gripped his chin with on of her hands and moved it so his eyes would look at her. They opened slowly. “Stay awake! You hear me!”  

 

She was able to get him inside after much struggling to get him to drag his feet to the house. They reached the couch and he slumped down on it. Betty took a second to gain her barring's. She ran a hand over her mouth and another through her hair as she looked at him, collapsed on the sofa. Tears began to swell in her eyes again. She was overwhelmed once more and she cursed as his eyes closed slowly, gazing at her. She knew that the nearest hospital way two towns over and there wasn’t a chance that she was driving that far in a storm in the pitch dark, at night.  

That’s when she noticed the dried blood on her hands and she gasped, her breath catching in her throat. She rushed to the bathroom, engulfed in confusion and shock. Betty turned on the sink and frantically scrubbed her hands and forearms after stripping herself of Jughead’s soaked jacket. She ran cold water over her face, both to wash away the blood and perhaps help her gain some perspective. She looked at herself in the mirror as the water in the bowl washed away with streaks of rust and pale pink. She suddenly felt constricted and dirty. She needed new clothes again.   

When she found Jughead’s room, she didn’t give herself a moment to take any of it in. She quickly rummaged through his drawers. Pulling out two t-shirts, recognizing a few of them. She tried not to think about it as she continued to search through his drawers for shorts or pajama pants. She came up short on both so she settled for a pair of his boxer shorts and rejoined him in the living room. She striped from her own wet clothes and into more of his dry ones, not taking her eyes from him- ensuring that his chest was still rising and falling simultaneously. Suddenly the lights came back on and she looked around the room, the thunder still echoing outside.  

Betty looked at Jughead. She couldn’t completely tell, but she didn’t think that his head was bleeding anymore. She knew that she wasn’t going to be able to undress him herself, and he was in no shape to help. But it needed to be done. He was soaked through, bloody and covered in dirt. So she ran into the kitchen, she found the scissors and met back at his side.  

“I’m so sorry, Jug.” She gasped. She cut his t-shirt off and tried her best not to look at his bare chest and abdomen. He’d grown into an even more beautiful man than she remembered. It was then that she noticed the five o’clock shadow growing across his cheeks. His abdomen was leaner than she remembered, and then she remembered that he didn’t spend his summers just moving hay bales anymore. Betty gasped when she noticed the large bruise that was beginning to form against his ribs. It was gnarly looking, and he’d definitely feel it tomorrow. She grazed her fingertips over it and looked at his face. She moved to the legs of his jeans and shred through them, leaving his boxer briefs knowing that they’d dry in due time.  

He groaned and his eyes fluttered open slowly. He reached for her again and his hands met her sides. She tried to ignore the burn that she felt against her skin each time he touched her. 

“Your clothes were wet and dirty,” she tried to explain why he was nearly naked beneath her. He helped her enough to get the t-shirt over his head and down his back- not even attempting to bother with the pants. She grabbed a basin and some washcloths from the kitchen. Betty washed his hands and face, wiping away the blood and dirt. He was lucid enough to hiss when she reached the cut on his forehead. His hand gripped her thigh in an attempt to ease the pain and Betty tried not to focus on her stomach doing somersaults when his hands were on her. “I’m sorry...” She stuttered.  

Betty did her best to clean his hair, able to reveal the gashes that he’d endured. They weren’t as bad as she thought, remembering back to her college biology class- that head wounds bleed more than anywhere else on the body. He was still groggy and drowsy, and it scared her a little. He’d been knocked out pretty good so she thought that he must have a concussion. She wondered if he would even remember any of this tomorrow.  

 

Betty tapped on his cheek with her fingers and his eyes fluttered open once more.  

“Jughead...” She muttered.  

“My head,” He managed to stutter.  

“C’mon, let’s get you to bed.” Betty spoke. Jughead seemed to nod and Betty took his hands to help him stand. She looped her arm carefully around his side, carefully of his developing bruise. He hissed upon standing and Betty braced him with her own body. She wasn’t sure what they were going to do but getting his into bed seemed like the next best step.  

They managed to stumble their way to his bedroom. Jughead collapsed onto the bed, holding his side in pain. His face was twisted into a wince and it was slowly breaking Betty’s heart to see him in so much discomfort. He rested against the gray sheets of his unmade bed.  

“Sit up...” Betty spoke as Jughead tried to lay down. “Sit up Jug.” She helped him with her hand still on his back. “I’m going to get you some water.”  

 

Betty left him to find him some pain killers and water. She shook her hands out in order to calm herself while she paced in the kitchen for a few moments. Two hours ago, he was the last person she expected to see. Now he was lying hurt, in his bed- in the room that used to be her grandfathers. It was bizarre and yet now she was the one that was there take care of him. Part of her was glad she was there, although terrified, if she wasn’t, he’d be alone and who knows what would’ve happened.  

He had his eyes closed against the pillow when she got back to his room. She helped him with a sip of water and was thankful that he was able to get the pain killers down. She left him once more to get something frozen to place against his sore ribs. She managed to find a large bag of frozen veggies in his deep freeze and wrapped them in a light towel. Although it hurt her to see him hurting, part of her was glad that he was still lucid enough to wince when she touched him.  

 

Betty didn’t want to leave him alone. As much as she thought that he was out of the woods and just needed some rest, she was terrified. Terrified that if he fell asleep, he might not wake up- or worse if she fell asleep and wasn’t able to make sure that he was okay, and alive. She climbed hesitantly onto his bed and rested on her knees beside him. The silence strangled her then. The rain had stopped, as if time had stopped.  

It was silent.  

The very thing she cherished most during her summer trips to the small town was now crippling her. Her bottled up emotion quickly washed over her as if she’d held every feeling she’d had deep inside until she was able to finally let her shoulders relax.  

Betty hung her head as she held herself up with her straight forearms against his mattress. A lump was lodged in her throat and she suddenly gasped for air. Her tears ran down her face as her sobs racked through her entirely. It’d happened before when she had panic attacks in times of high adrenaline or crippling nerves. She knew then just what she’d done. She lifted her hands to wipe away her tears and could feel the blood across her cheeks. She looked down to see the four perfectly shaped crescents reforming old scars against the skin of her palms. Of course, this only made her begin to cry harder.  

She suddenly felt movement and a weight against her skin. Jughead had placed his hand heavy on her knee and followed it with a squeeze. She scrunched her face as she glanced from his hand on her knee, to his still closed eyes and then back again.  

“Don’t...” He managed to croak out against her sobs.  

 

Betty tried to calm herself, but she knew that it wasn’t their current situation causing the ripples of emotion to tear her to shreds. It wasn’t Jughead’s accident or even seeing him, that had caused this. It was the years and years of her mother's badgering, her own demise, her skyrocketed career, and her overall disregard for her own emotional needs that had caused this. Seeing him, had only caused the overflowing dam to finally break.  

Only this was worse... Because it shouldn’t be Jughead, couldn’t be Jughead .  

Because it was too late for them.  

Chapter Text

It been just over a month since Betty and Jughead had shared their first kiss under the fireworks on the Fourth of July. It was three weeks until Labor Day... three weeks until Jughead started his classes back at Millwood and Betty was due back in New York.   

The two cherished every moment that they spent together. The only one who knew the truth were Archie and Donna, the two couples hanging out often. Hiding their romance from Pop was quite a d o ozy, yet Betty and Jughead could both admit- a little fun. They’d sneak around and share time together at the swimming hole or sneaking away to the barn. Betty would read right next to Jughead as he worked. Seemingly always distracting him, which always led to Betty belly laughing at his tickling antics and he’d silence her with a kiss before Pop got suspicious.   

 

Betty turned off her bedroom light and quietly tiptoed into the hallway. She cursed under her breath when the old floorboards beneath her feet made the tiniest creak. She’d stop and take a second before stealthily walked again. She checked through a crack in Pop’s bedroom door, ensuring that he was in fact fast asleep. She made it through the kitchen and the foyer, not believing how quietly she shut the back door. Sneaking out to see Jughead was so exhilarating , she’d never been one to break the rules so that made it all new territory a s well.   

Betty ran to the barn giggling. The dark night and warm air enveloped her skin while the full moon shined down on her brightly. That hot July moon saw everything. She snuck into th e barn, opening the wooden door quietly. She turned to close it and suddenly felt Jughead’s hands strong on her sides and turning her back around to face him. She giggled and reached her hands out to hold his face. She pulled his mouth against hers and felt him smile against her lips.   

“Hi,” She muttered flesh against his pout.   

“Hi,” he echoed. She jumped then, her legs wrapping around his waist as he held her up.   

Betty felt his tongue stroke against her bottom lip and a noise left her throat that she didn’t recognize. She granted him access to the inside of her mouth and thought that he might’ve growled. He walked them to the middle of the barn and set her down.   

“I missed you today.” She smiled up at him. He held her to him with his arms laced around her sides as they swayed against the concrete floors.  

“I can tell,” He smirked and leaned down to peck her mouth. She frowned when he pulled away but sighed, closing her eyes, when he leaned in and pressed his lips against her forehead.  “I’m sorry, I was in town a lot later than I thought I’d be.”   

He had to go to town for feed and a meeting with someone from Millwood. He had mentioned something about a shadowing program he was set to do during the following school year and how the main guy had wanted to meet with him. Betty honestly really couldn’t remember much from the conversation, other than his lips against her neck when he’d told her- in order to cushion the blow. It was only a day, but they had to make every day count.   

They didn’t talk about one another leaving. It always made them sad and Jughead never wanted to see anything but a smile on her face- a smile that he made. Betty knew that they would need to talk about it eventually , but until he brought it up, she was determined not to.   

“Come on,” He muttered, shifting his head to gestured at the loft in the barn. It’s where he slept. Growing up, Betty had never thought of it being somewhere for someone to live, but Jughead had actually made it quite nice.   

He followed her up the ladder, taking full view of her ass as she climbed above him.   

“I like these...” He said once they’d reached the top, his fingers dancing through the lace on the side of her jean shorts.   

“I thought you might,” She muttered cheekily. Jughead grabbed her then, making her squeal and pulling her body against his once more. His hands gripped her ass and he squeezed softly.  

“Tease.” He whispered close to her skin before he kissed her mouth.   

 

As Betty laid her head against his chest, they laid on his bed looking out at the large moon and bright stars out his window. She traced her fingernail against the skin of his bare chest, his t-shirt getting shed rather quickly and laying somewhere on the floor, listening to his breathing in her ear.  

“What are you thinking about?” Jughead interrupted her internal wheels from spinning and she lifted her head slightly to look at him through her eyelashes. Jughead’s lips caught her temple and she simpered in the feel of them the re.   

“Do you think he knows about us?” Betty asked him suddenly.   

“Who? Pop?” Jughead’s chest bubbled. Betty nodded, her blonde hair brushing against his skin. “Nah.”   

“No?” She questioned.   

“Why? Do you think he knows?”   

“I- I mean, I guess I don’t know...” She shrugged.   

“Where is this coming from?” He laughed.   

“It’s nothing.” Betty shrugged him off with a nervous laugh.   

“No, not nothing.” Jughead muttered. “Tell me.”   

“Nowhere...” She said suddenly. “Just forget I said anything.” She twisted her head and kissed the skin o ver his ribs , before placing her cheek back against his chest.   

“Betts?” He leaned up on his forearm to look down at her.  

Betty pressed up from his chest and looked down at her lap. He stroked his fingers on her cheek and she gave him a soft smile before grabbing his hand to hold it against her skin. She wasn’t sure what shifted, but her emotions suddenly got the best of her. She couldn’t look at his eyes and hers began to brim with tears.   

“Betty,” Jughead realized that her lip was quivering. Her gripped his chin with his fingers and lifted her head and noticed the tears in her eyes. They caused her green to swirl and glisten against the light of the moon. “Baby...” He stuttered. “What’s this?” His thumb caught her first run away tear on her cheek. A sob left her throat and her faced scrunched as she dropped her chin to her lap again.   

“I- I don’t want you to leave...” Betty wrapped his arms around his neck , launching herself at him and bur ying her face in his throat.   

“Babe...” He wrapped his own arms around her sides and buried his nose into her hair, holding her. He ’d started calling her different pet names about a week ago and Betty never missed the way her heart twisted when he did it.   

“I keep telling myself not to bring it up, but each day passes, and it becomes more and more real... and I- I'm scared. ” She stuttered, her voice quivering. “You leave me in three weeks, Jug...”   

After a moment, Jughead leaned back and pulled her away from his neck, her tears saturating his skin. He used his hands to push the hair back from her face, tucking it behind both of her ears.   

“Well then I guess we better make every day count then, huh?” He whispered. His quiet voice making a small smile grow through her cheeks. She leaned in and pressed her lips against his, pouring her emotion into his mouth.   

 

Their feelings had catapulted into a whole different retrograde, utterly terrifying them both. Neither one of them saw them coming, but they’d come along and punched the both of them in the gut- no doubt leaving them with major scars when this was all over. Jughead kissed her hard. Willing to give her whatever she wanted in that moment. Her crying never failed to cripple him. But he knew that she was right, the time for them each other to leave was coming and there was nothing that he or she could do to stop it. Her tongue played at his bottom lip and he groaned, he loved how much they complimented each other. She was never afraid to ask for what she wanted and if he ever wanted to tell her what to do- if she didn’t want to do it herself... he didn’t stand a chance.  

He pulled their mouths apart in need of breath. He had the most amazing girl sitting in his lap and pouring her soul into him- he could never take her for granted.   

“I wanna take you out.” He said through heavy breaths.   

“What?” Betty asked, her voice slightly pitching as she held his face in both her hands. “Jug, you don’t have to do th -”   

“I want to.” He cut her off. I want to take you on a real date. We’ll go to town and-”   

“Woah, woah Jug...” Betty pressed her hand on his chest . “If we go to town then everyone will know...”   

“Is that such a bad thing?” Jughead asked her incredulously, cocking his head at her. “I don’t care,” He said slowly, his hand stroking her cheek. “I don’t care.”   

“Jug...” She placed her own hand on his face. His eyes overwhelmed her , and her insides beg an to swirl in the heaviness of the moment. “I guess I better tell Pop then, huh?”   

“I guess, yeah...”   

Betty leaned in and placed her lips onto his in a simple kiss. She pulled away after a moment and looked at his eyes. Jughead bit into his bottom lip and seemed to smile a Cheshire smile at her. Betty pulled her head back to look at him fully and cocked her head, knowing the look in his e ye meant that he was up to something.   

“What?” She asked him with a small laugh.   

“I have something for you...” He suddenly mumble d , moving to get up from the bed.   

“What?” Betty asked again, incredulously. “Jug...”   

“Do you remember last week when Pop asked me to clean out the shed?” Jughead asked her, moving toward a hutch that he had on the floor.   

“The day I went to Holling with Veronica and Rachel? Yeah, I remember...” She jumped up from the bed to follow him across the room. Jughead look back at her with a slightly aggravated smile, and she knew that she hit just the right nerve.   

“That’s all you remember?” He asked he coyly, pausing in his stride to the hutch. He heard her gentle chuckle enter his ears and it made him smile.   

“Hmm... yeah.” He knew that she nodded without even looking at her, and he bit the tip of his tongue between his teeth. Suddenly her hands slunk underneath his arms and onto hi s chest and he could feel her lips press against the skin of his shoulder blade where she kissed him.   

 

They both shar e d the vivid memory of that night when she got back from her day in Holling and found him in the shed sweaty and covered in old dust. It didn’t take much convincing before he’ d had her pressed against the thin wooded wall and practically begging for him. Their make out sessions we’re getting hotter and hotter each time, them simply never being able to g et enough of one another.   

“I wasn’t sure when I wanted to give you this, and I wanted to wait until our date, but I figured now is as good as ever, right?”   

“Jug...” Betty weaned again. “You didn’t have to get me anything.”   

“I didn’t...” He smirked at her and Betty looked at him confused. “But I talked to Pop and well- it's your’s...” He handed her a small jewel box, covered in crushed blue velvet. Betty gasped and a hand came over her mouth.   

“Jug...” Betty said looking up from box, to him, and then back down again at her hand. She opened it slowly and glanced at the golden locket that sat inside. “It’s beautiful.”   

“It was-” Jughead began, a bashful smile playing at his lips.   

“My grandmothers...” Betty spoke for him. Her heart filled with gratitude and love. She couldn’t believe that he’d even found it let alone wanted her to have it. The fact that he’d asked Pop if she could have made her stomach swirl. Betty would recognize it anywhere; she’d seen it around her grandmother’s neck in every picture she’d ever seen. She knew how much this locket had meant to her grandmother and she’d heard the story. “Pop gave this to my G randma Faye on their wedding night...” Betty told him, her fingertips tips dancing against the patterned gold of the necklace. She lifted the lip on the gold piece and gasped at the picture of her young grandparents on the bottom side, the left side still e mpty as she turned it to sho w to Jughead.   

“I know,” Jughead spoke, stepping closer to her. “Pop told me, it’s quite a story.” Betty chuckled softly , not taking her eyes off the locket, seemingly not believing that it was actually in her hands. “Here let me.”   

Jughead took the velvet box from her hand and pulled out the locket. Betty turned around so he could close the clasp around her neck. Betty pulled her hair to the side and hummed deep in her throat when Jughead pressed his lips at the base of her neck, then moving them up to the sweet spot behind her ear.   

“Thank you,” She said simply, turning back around to meet his front, twirling the locket between her fingers. Betty leaned in to kiss him and Jughead’s hands went to her hips, pulling her body flesh against hi m. “I should go.” She weaned and Jughead groaned with a frown.   

Betty pulled out of his grasp as his hands continued to reach for her. His frown made her laugh, he was being ridiculous. She giggled and met back at his mouth, kissing him once more. Her hands held his face, holding his lips to hers and savoring in the taste of him. Jughead pulled his mouth away and wretched for her neck making her giggle once more.   

“I have to go!” She said through a laugh. “I don’t want Pop to wake up and find me not in my room...”   

“Just stay.” Jughead told her. They had this argument every night that she snuck out to see him.   

“I can’t...” Betty pushed away from him once more and began to walk backward toward the ladder of the loft. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” She nodded.   

“Hmm, I don’t know- I kind of have plans.” He rose an eyebrow and ended with a smirk.  

“You do?” Betty couldn’t help the dip in her tone and the frown that came over her face, this only made Jughead laugh through a scoff.   

“Yeah I do...” He leaned back and rested against the frame of his bed, crossing his arms and ankles. “I was kinda hoping this girl I like would go on a date with me...” Betty couldn’t help but roll her eyes at him and his dorkiness.   

“Well if you’re lucky...” Betty started as she continued to back up to the ladder. “She might just say yes.”   

Betty turned with a giggle to find the ladder to the floor. It was an impulse decision , but she spotted one of his t-shirts hanging from the wooden chair and swooped it up, knowing he wouldn’t notice. She climbed down the ladder and jumped onto the floor once she reached the bottom. She ran back to the house and snuck back into the house quietly. Once she reache d her room, she shut the door behind her and leaned against it. She brought Jughead’s t-shirt up to her face and inhaled deeply and her eyes closed . His scent overwhelmed her as she held the cloth in both of her hands against her skin.   

Betty changed into some light cotton shorts and slipped his t-shirt over her head. Once she got into bed, she switched off her lamp and glanced out her window. In the distance she could see Jughead sprawled out on his bed, watching her. She knew that he waited every night for her to turn out her lights. She blew him a kiss and watched as the soft light that illuminated the loft of the barn went dark. Betty turned over, pulling the collar of his shirt close to her mouth, drifting asleep with him on her skin and against her sheets.   

 

 

It was Saturday night; Betty was wearing her favorite bright yellow sundress and her blonde hair billowed freely around her shoulders. She kept her makeup simple , some mascara and a little blush. Her freckles had come out in full force and lit up the skin of her cheeks in speckled constellations . She slipped her toes in a pair if white sandals and made sure to grab a light jacket from her closet door before she turned back to look in her mirror. She wasn’t sure why she felt nervous, it wasn’t like Jughead was a stranger. But it was their first official date together and she was happy. She was scared to go to town, sure people had been suspecting and they weren’t hiding their relationship for any certain reason. But to Betty, it had become a game and she was scared for the thrill to be gone.   

Betty grabbed her white satchel and made her way into the kitchen. She wore her grandmother's locket around her neck and fiddled with it between her fingers as she walked up to meet Pop who was sitting at the kitchen table.   

“Hey Pop...” She said, cursing internally when her voice came out timid.   

“Betty dear,” Pop smiled as he looked up from the newspaper that he held in his hands. “Well, dear you look beautiful.”   

“Thank you, Pop...” Betty couldn’t help the blush that fell onto her cheeks.   

“And I see that Jughead gave you your gift...” He smiled. Betty’s fingers instinctively gripped the locket as she smiled softly.   

“It’s beautiful Pop, thank you.”   

“Your grandmother would want you to have it...” Pop said. Betty nodded but continued to look at her sandals agains t the linoleum . “What it is dear? You look like you might be ill...” Pop ended his sentence with a light laugh and Betty echoed after him with one of her own.   

“I- I need to tell you something Pop...” Betty told him.   

“Well, go on dear... spit it out.”   

“Pop I- I...” Betty couldn’t find the words to tell her grandfather that she’d mistakenly fallen for the boy he’d hired strictly for summer work on the farm.   

“If this is about you and that Jones boy, don’t even bother dear...”   

“What?” Betty thought her face must’ve fallen white. “How do you-”   

“Well Jughead asked me dear, just after you got to Georgia- right before The Fourth if I’m remembering right... You know I’m not always the most there at my old age.”  

This made Betty laugh softly and hold the locket harder between her fingers. She couldn’t believe that Jughead would do that, or that he wouldn’t tell her and let her think that Pop didn’t know.   

“And when he asked me for the story about your grandmother’s locket after he found it in the shed and asked me if it’d be alright if he gifted it to you, I knew what I suspected to be true ...” Pop spoke, folding the newspaper and placing it on top of the table.   

“What’s that Pop?” Betty asked him, confused.  

“That boy is smitten for you dear... severely smitten.” Pop laughed at his granddaughters' naïve tone. “Much like I was for your Grandma Faye.”  

“He asked me out on a date...” Betty told Pop. “Tonight.”   

“Be safe,” Pop nodded. “And have fun, dear.”   

Just then a knock at the back door just off the kitchen caused her to jump and look in its direction. Jughead knocked again and Betty turned the old metal handle. Her heart swelled when she saw him. He had a boquet of Pop’s sunflowers in his left hand hanging by his hip. He had combed his hair and wore a clean white shirt and a pair of dark denim jeans. He looked so nice, so handsome.   

“Hi...” Betty said, a bright smile growing through her cheeks.   

“Hi,” Jughead exhaled, his eyes taking her in. “Wow, you look beautiful.”   

“Thanks,” Betty muttered. “You’re looking good yourself, handsome.”  

She could’ve sworn she saw the blush in his cheeks when he lifted up the flowers and handed them to her.   

“Here, these are for you...”   

“These are beautiful, thank you...” Betty said, smelling them instinctively. “Come in, I’m just going to get them in some water...”   

The yellow of the petals matched her dress. She noticed the tie around the stems and knew that he went all the way to town just to get her some of her own grandad’s sunflowers. She found a mason jar in one of the cupboards and filled it with water from the tap as Jughead and Pop made some small talk.   

“Now boy, please tell me you didn’t go all the way to town just to get some of the flowers I grow in the fields just over that hill there.” Pop said as he pointed out the window of the kitchen.   

“You earn your money Pop; it just wouldn’t be right.” Jughead told him, shoving both of his hands in his pockets.   

“Alright,” Pop surrendered after a scoff, “But never again son, ya hear?”   

“Alright Pop...” Jughead laughed lightly. “You ready, Betts?”   

Betty shimmed behind the kitchen table and kissed her grandfather on the cheek. She giggled and walked to Jughead, nodding with a smile. She left the mason jar in the center of the kitchen table, right in front of Pop. Jughead grabbed one of her hands and interlaced their fingers. They began to walk towards the back door just as Pop began to speak again. 

“And Betty dear-”   

“Yeah, Pop?”   

“If you’re going to sneak out to the barn every night, do me one better and just rejoin me in the morning for breakfast- in fact bring Jughead back with you. I really don’t enjoy being woken up in the mid dle of the night when you decide that you want sneak back in.”   

Betty face blushed with embarrassment and leaned into Jughead’s side, not believing her grandfather's playful tone. He squeezed her hand, knowing that she was mortified. She knew that Pop really liked Jughead and obviously approved if he was now telling his granddaughter to just stay with Jughead in the barn on the nights that she decides to sneak out to see him.  

“Will do, ” Jughead said, laughter tracing in his voice. “Sorry about that Pop...”   

“Yeah, yeah...” Pop laughed. Jughead opened the back door and allowed her through first. He shut it b ehind them, and Betty burst into laughter.   

“Oh my God...” She gasped, gripping his forearm and laughing into his side. Suddenly she remembered what Pop had told her and her laughter quickly turned to anger. She smacked his shoulder and he looked a t her with confused eyes as they continued in stride to the truck. “Why didn’t you tell me that you asked Pop if you could-”   

“Get to know you?” Jughead finished for her. “Because it was fun...” he muttered, stopping their stride and snaking an arm around her side to pull her to him. “Sneaking around- you being paranoid.” Betty giggled at his actions , his mouth muffling her bliss as he placed his lips onto hers. Be tty held his face in her gentle hands, holding his lips against hers until she was ready to let go. “Let’s go.” He muttered.   

Jughead kissed her nose playfully, Betty scrunching up her face before his lips landed briefly on her mouth once more. He moved to open her door and help her into the truck.   

 

Betty snuggled close to him on the box seat as they drove to town. She didn’t even care about the wind making a mess of her hair as they rode through the hot air with all the windows down on the truck. Jughead would turn his face to kiss her head every few minutes , savoring in the hum that left her throat each time he did it. Betty would move hers to catch his cheek and Jughead would scold her for distracting him while he was driving. Their lucky that they made it to town without crashing the truck or mauling one another.   

“So, what’s the plan?” Betty asked him after thanking him from helping her from the truck.   

“I asked you out- remember?” Jughead huffed. She always had to be in control, this he had learned rather quickly, and it was a habit of hers that he was hoping to break. “Come on.” Jughead reached for her hand and interlaced their fingers.   

 

The couple walked down main street and Betty waved at everyone she knew. She suddenly couldn’t remember why she’d been so nervous to go public with him. Those who knew him knew he was a good guy and those who didn’t, simply didn't care. They sat in a diner at the end of town closer to Holling. They ate burge rs and shared each other's milkshakes, laughing over inside jokes and sto ries of her childhood.   

Betty had taken notice that Jughead didn’t talk about his past much. He wouldn’t open up about his parents or his childhood. All Betty knew was that he grew up in Ohio, had a sister and that his mom left when he was just a kid. When he fished out his wallet to pay the bill Betty couldn’t help but notice the photo that was wedged within it. Betty reached out and pulled on its corner. It was worn and tattered from age. Jughead didn’t stop her from looking at it. Betty took in the picture-perfect family of four. Jughead’s sister Jellybean couldn’t have been more than two-years old and Jughead looked about the size of a preschooler.  

“It’s the only photo I have of her...” Jughead spoke suddenly. Betty looked up to glance at his eyes, the flecks of gold illuminated by the fluorescent red beams of the diner. “My uh- my mom...” He spoke softly again, reaching over to take the picture from Betty’s hand. “After she left, my dad went on a bender and burned any and everything that represented my mom ...” He said with a scoffed laugh . “Pictures, books, clothes - his wedding ring, even.”   

“Jug, I’m so sorry.”   

I found that picture under the couch when I was packing to come to Georgia- it had to have been under there for years, I told myself that he must have missed it that night so I took it- it's been in my wallet ever since.” Jughead told her. Betty reached over and touched his hand with her dainty fingers, holding them against his skin.   

“Tell me about your sister...” Betty asked him softly. “You never talk about her.”   

“Oh, Jelly?” Betty noticed the crack in his voice and her eyes softened as she nodded to him. “ Um... I don’t remember much but a couple years after my mom left , Jellybean had just started preschool. Me and my uh- my babysitter, Kate, we went to pick her up and the teacher told us that her mother had already come to get her.” Jughead scoffed. “My dad was too drunk to know much of anything, but when we got back to the tr ailer there a- there was a letter.”   

“Jug,”   

“My mom had come back and taken Jellybean. She had filed for a divorce from my father and a judge had granted her full custody of Jellybean...”   

“But not you?” Betty asked him. Her tone was gentle, understanding how delicate their conversation was in the moment.  

“But not me.” Jughead tried to laugh it off. “So, I stayed with my drunk of a father and I wrote to get through it and tried to channeled my feelings into something productive...”   

“And then you came here...”   

“And then I met you...” Betty blushed and looked down at her lap.   

“Okay Jug, that was cheesy.” They laughed together and Jughead grabbed both of her hands across the table to interlace them.   

“I haven’t been back home since I came to Georgia...” He admitted to her.   

Why’s that?”   

“I really haven’t had any desire to, I kind of ran away from my life in Ohio and I haven’t ever wanted to look back.”   

“Thank you for telling me that.” Betty told him, squeezing her fingers against his. “Thank you for telling me about your dad.”  

Jughead just looked at her and nodded, not saying anything but appreciating her for just being there.   

“I’m sorry that you had to grow up like that Jug... no one deserves that.”   

“What do you say we get out of here?” Jughead muttered. Betty smiled softly and simply nodded at him.   

 

They walked main street with ice cream cones in hand, mint chocolate chip for Betty and rocky road for Jughead. They were laughing against the growing sunset, orbs of yellow, purple, and orange surrounded them and warmed their skin as they walked. People watched them as they walked and laughed without a care in the world. They could've been right out a movie.  

When Jughead leaned over and asked for a lick of Betty’s pale green and speckled deliciousness, Betty didn’t hesitate to plop the cone right against his mouth and nose. Leaving hi s chin covered in sticky sweet ice cream.   

“Oh!” Jughead gasped as Betty giggled. He moved to pin her against a close wall. They laughed as he leaned in to nuzzle her face.   

Juggie !” Betty screeched . “Jug, no!”   

Jughead pulled back to look at her face. Her cheeks were rosy, and her ice cream cone had fallen into a pile on the cement. Betty's chest was heaving slightly, and she looked into Jughead’s eyes while she shook her head at him. She moved her head suddenly and licked the ice cream from the tip of his nose. She giggled at her own antics and swiped her tongue over his mouth and chin. She kissed his mouth then, tasting her own ice cream against his lips. Jughead lapped her bottom lip and nuzzled against her skin, laughing when her freckled skin mirrored his- sticky and sugary.   

 

They ended the night back at the farm, but they never made it out of the truck. It was late, all the lights were dark inside the house. Jughead killed the engine and sat facing forward, his hands dropping from the wheel and into his lap. Betty was looking out the window at the moon, her mind in utter bliss from their evening spent together. She turned her head then to look at him, his eyes glinting against the dark summer sky. Neither one of them spoke when she slid across the box seat to get closer to him.   

Betty placed her gentle hand on his thigh, feeling the rough denim of his jean on the tips of her splayed fingers. Her face slunk into his neck and she pressed her lips against his throat, feeling his pulse thumping against her plush and thin-skinned pout. Betty heard the sharp inhale pass through Jughead’s lips in her ear. She licked and sucked at the skin of his throat , growing bold when a growl escaped his mouth and her teeth grazed his chin.   

Jughead grabbed her then. He fisted his hands into the cotton of her dress  and pulled her into his lap. His hands moved her face and he devoured her mouth, a strangled moan leaving her lips as their to ngues tangoed.   

“Jug...” Betty gasped. She could feel him hard against her inner thigh and it accelerated the fire within her. “Please.”   

Mmm ,” Jughead moaned. “ Babe.”   

“Please, Jug...” Betty plead. Jughead stroked at her thighs, his fingers  caress the soft skin on the inside. She pulled away enough the search and wrestle with the hem of his t-shirt, pulling it up and over his head.   He nipped at her top lip with his teeth in a growl, applying just enough pressure that she’d feel a little bit of pain before he lapped it away  with the stroke of his tongue. Betty gasped and moaned.  The moment too hot and too heavy.  

She wanted him. She wanted him so bad that the nagging and ache between he r legs was quickly becoming unbearable . Betty tried to move against him in an attempt to relieve some of the throbbing   tenderness that rested in her most intimate parts. Betty made a sound of deep satisfaction and he smiled against her skin as he moved and rested her against the box seat. She could feel the soft fabric against her shoulder blades . Her head was close to the door and when she adjusted herself to move further down the single seat her center brushed against him and she gasped against his mouth.   

Her dress had ridden up and Jughead caressed the skin of her belly- soft and supple  beneath his fingers . He co uld hear Betty’s whimpers in his ears, egging him on as his fingers danced against the lace waistband of her panties.   

“Please, Jug...” Betty quivered against his mouth, still kissing him- savoring him.   

“Betts...” Jughead moved his head to speak against the skin of her cheek. “Are you sure that this is what you want?”   

“I want you.” She nodded profusely, their noses clashing.   

Jughead delved into her folds, spreading the damp flesh with his fingers. He flicked and rolled her throbbing n ub with his middle finger and thumb. Sweet sighs left her lips and landed against his. Delicate, like her. Her sounds were bound for his appreciation. Jughead wanted to give her more pleasure just so he could listen to the gasps and noises she made.  

He slid his finger lower, circling her entrance, marking a path around the outside with the pad of his finger. Betty bucked against him, a moan of contentment  bubbling from her chest and bouncing from the roof of the truck. In response, he plunged a finger inside of her, her walls convulsing and squeezing on him. Betty arched into him, burying her face in his neck to quiet her voice.  Jughead groaned into her and closed his eyes to savor in the feeling of Betty beneath him.   

“No,” She whimpered. “No, not yet.”   

Jughead opened his eyes to look at her. She’d thrown her head back, her blonde hair billowing over the seat. The muscles in her legs and groin twitched and spasmed, tremblin g under his expert touch. She was so close. Why did she want to stop?   

“Let go baby...” Jughead’s voice coaxed over her. “It’s okay... I've got you- let go.”   

Their chemistry was palpable. Betty writhed and arched, allowing ecstasy to overtake her. Jughead watched her eyes roll back into her head as his pants became extremely uncomfortable. Once she calmed, Jughead was able to coax her back to reality enough to get her out of truck and carry her into the barn on his hip.  

They climbed the ladder and collapsed onto his bed, kissing each other sweetly until they couldn’t think about anything else. After a while Betty reached between their bodies, her dainty fingers skimming over the front of his jeans. To her surprise, Jughead protested- reaching between them to grab her hand and pulled it up to rest on his chest.   

“Let me-” Betty whispered  

“That was for you, baby...” Jughead told her, moving his head to press his lips to her sweet spot. “I just want to be with you tonight.”   

“Jug...” Betty muttered, her voice getting stuck in her throat.   

“Stay with me...” He pressed him forehead against hers, both of their eyes closed as they held each other , simpering in the moment.   

“Okay.” Betty nodded, pressing her lips against his before nuzzling her head against his chest, wrapping her arms around him a nd listening to the hums from his chest while they watched the moon from his window.   

 

Three Weeks Later  

The day came for Jughead to go back to Millwood. Betty’s flight was due back to New York in two days. Jughead held her in his arms outside the barn. Pop had followed through on his promise and was letting Jughead take Bertha back to school. Betty was cryin g, her tears soaking into his t-shirt. She didn’t want him to go, she knew that the day was coming but it didn’t make it any less difficult.   

“Just think,” Jughead spoke against her hair. “You’ll be back out to see me in two months.”  

Betty had decided to attend the university in the town just outside of the city back in New York. Jughead had talked her into majoring in journalism and creative writing. It’s where she belonged, and he had finally helped her realize that. They made plan for her to come to Millwood in mid-November, right before Thanksgiving break.   

“And we’ll text, and call and video chat?” Betty asked him innocently.   

“Yes...” Jughead laughed. “And we’ll text and call and video chat.”   

“Do you think...”   

What babe?” Jughead looked down at her small frame in his arms as her voice trailed off.   

“Would you want to maybe... write letters?” Betty asked him. She’d been thinking about it and wondered what he thought. She wouldn’t doubt that calls and texts from him wouldn't make her day and yet the thought of something tangible to remember him by kindled something deep within her.  

“Like me write you letters?” Jughead asked her.   

“It’s stupid, just forget I said anything.” Betty shook her head and hugged him again. Jughead pushed her away to look at her face, Betty’s eyes uneasy as they looked back at him.   

“I’ll do it.”   Jughead said without hesitation. "As long as you write me back." 

“Jug...” He watched as Betty’s eyes lit up before him with admiration . A heavy breath left her lips and her irises fluttered from his eyes to his lips and back again. She grabbed his face then and pulled his lips down to hers, kissing him sweetly.   

“I have something for you...” Jughead told her then, muttering the words against her lips.   

“What?” Betty watched as Jughead reached into the back pocket of his jeans. He pulled out a small white envelope no bigger than a playing card and held it out for her to take. Betty wasn’t sure why her hands were shaking as she lifted the small flap to peer inside. She reached in and pulled out a tiny print. It was a picture of the two of them. Betty recognized it from one that Donna had taken a few weeks back. It was a candid of Jughead watching Betty  with a smile  while she laughed. She couldn’t remember what had been so funny, but it was no doubt something he had said. It was small and in the shape of an oval, Betty knew what it was for and her heart grew three sizes at the thought. “Juggie...”   

He moved to remove her locket, opening it and sliding the picture of them into the empty slot. He clasped the necklace back around her throat and leaned in to kiss her once more.   

“I love it...” Betty whispered, holding the locket in her hand. “Thank you.”   

“I need to go...” Jughead muttered, sadness laced in his tone. Betty hugged him and Jughead squeezed her, kissing her temple before he pulled away. Tears were falling silently down her cheeks as he moved from her grasp. “I’ll see you soon.”  

“You promise?” Betty’s voice caught in her throat.   

“I promise.” Jughead said with a half laugh before he opened his truck door and made the move to climb in.   

“Jug-” Betty stopped him. Her voice was blunt as Jughead turned his head back to look at her. Her heart hurt and her throat was burning, but she needed to tell him how she felt. Now, while she had the chance. Not over a video chat or a phone call. “I love you...”   

She watched as a smile grew through his cheeks and in two quick strides she was back in his arms. He held her against him and kissed her lips, swallowing her cries as they escaped her in the moment.   

“I love you too...” He echoed through her soft sobs. “Bye, Betts.”   

Chapter Text

Betty eventually calmed, Jughead’s grip relaxing but his hand never leaving her knee. She was utterly exhausted but couldn’t bring herself to sleep. She knew that she probably shouldn’t let Jughead sleep either, but she really didn’t feel like talking and she didn’t know what she could do to keep him awake.  

She eventually climbed from his sheets to replace the cool washcloth on his forehead and the frozen vegetables against his side. She cleaned herself up, wiping the dried blood from her face and hands. She found some salve in his medicine cabinet and applied it to her hands She dimmed his lights and left on a single light in his bedroom before searching for something to drink for herself.  

Betty adventured into the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water from the tap, smirking when she found his glasses in the same cabinet that Pop had kept them in. She wandered into the living room and added a log of wood to the dimming fire. She suddenly noticed Jughead’s large book selection and skimmed her dainty fingers over it. She scanned the shelves and smiled when she found her old yet familiar mentions of Morrison and Austen.  

He remembered. She thought.  

She pulled out the copy of Beloved and decided that’d she’d read while she kept an eye on him. A chill grew over her skin and she reached for the blanket on the sofa that she was once wrapped in. It was soaked and she realized that Jughead must’ve been laying upon it when they stumbled back into the house and she’d practically hurled him onto the old couch.  

“Damnit.” She muttered, tossing it back to the floor. Betty suddenly had the urge to clean up. Not too much, but their soaked clothes were tossed all over the room. She gathered all of them and the blanket and carried them into the laundry room, tossing them into the washing machine.  

She walked back into the living room. She chose not to deal with the mud that was scattered along the floor. She was still cold, Jughead’s t-shirt bringing back memories that she didn’t want to think about and not offering much warmth.  

You need him for that. She thought and then cursed at herself. 

“No, no.” She scolded herself. She paced and then pulled on the doorknob of the living room closet. She pulled the thin string for light that dangled in front of her face. She glanced inside the dark space and spotted a quilt on the top shelf.  

“Of course.” She muttered and rolled her eyes, pushing up on her tip toes in an attempt to reach for it. It was no use; she’d never been tall enough to reach the shelves in the closets. Curse Pop for being over six foot and building his own house.  

She used to admire it. The love that her grandfather had for her grandmother. Although she never really knew her father’s mother, Betty always felt like she had. Pop had told her enough stories about her Grandma Faye, that she felt like she knew everything about her. According to her father, it’s where Betty got all her beauty from too. After all, it was her grandmother’s gold locket that she wore around her neck every day. 

She jumped then. Pushing her toes hard against the wooden floorboards before her bare feet came down with the smallest thud. She missed and sighed an aggravated sigh. So, Betty tried again, working up enough momentum in her calves to jump just high enough to reach for the hem of the quilt. It tumbled down on to her and she caught it with a huff of audible relief.  

Betty tucked the thick fabric under her arm and reached up to pull the string from the light bulb in order to dim it once more. But when she looked up, she cocked her head at what remained on the shelf. She was curious as to why a patterned box was seemingly being hidden by the quilt that sat tucked under arm.  

 

Betty couldn’t help herself. She seemed to live by the saying, curiosity killed the cat and she should be dead nine times over by now. She knew that there wasn’t a chance that she’d be able to reach it on her own so she looked around the room in search of something she could stand on. She settled on a kitchen chair and attempted to be as quiet as she could, suddenly feeling sneaky.  

Betty climbed onto the seat of the chair, gripping the wood with her toes while she stood. She pulled the box from the shelf, securing it in her arm while she climbed down. She peeked into the hallway and found Jughead still propped against the pillows with his eyes closed like she'd left him.  

Betty tiptoed back to the living room, leaving the novel on the end tables and laying the quilt onto the floor in front of the fireplace. She settled onto her knees with the patterned box in front of her, staring at it for a moment. Her finger traced the lids edge, something deep inside of her telling her that she already knew what it contained. Betty closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  

She reached out and pulled the lid off gently. A sharp gasp left her throat and her hand came over her mouth when she proved herself right. She hadn’t expected to find herself so emotional. Betty ran her dainty fingers over the memories contained in that tiny box. She knew it was wrong to go through his things without his permission... but in a way they were hers too.  

 The pictures, the letters- her letters. She pulled them out. She counted twelve, all the letters that she’d sent him over ten years ago. The pages were tinged yellow , each of them still folded up and in their accompanied envelope. She settled randomly on the fourth one in the stack and pulled the letter out. Another gasp escaped her parted lips and her fingers danced over her mouth when she unfolded it. With the flickering fire behind it, the page sputtered with streaks of ink and discoloration- just like the ones she had stored under her bed at home.   

No doubt, he’d shed tears over these letters just like she had over hers. Her stomach filled with a sudden ache and guilt surged through her bones. She wasn’t sure what she was feeling guilty about, but she knew that feeling from anywhere and she was riddled with it. The moment suddenly felt intimate and forbidden. Her fingers traced through the stack of pictures that were stored in the box. Some of them she’d sent with her letters and some of them from the summer that they fell in love.  

The summer that she fell in love with him. The summer that started it all. She thought.  

Suddenly her gaze fell deeper into the box, the flicker from the flames dancing in shadows across her face and the walls that surrounded her. Betty reached in and pulled out a small velvet box. It was then that a single tear rolled down her cheek from the brim of her eye. She hadn’t even realized that tears had formed in her eyes until felt one fall from the tip of her chin and onto the skin of her thigh. She wiped them away and ran her thumb over the smooth crushed velvet of the box.  

She had recognized instantly. It was the box he’d given her all those years ago... the box that had once housed her grandmother's locket that hung around her neck in that very moment. She gripped the gold piece between her fingers. One side was cool against the air, the other side warm from where it rested against her skin. She replayed the moment in her head when he’d surprised her with it. It was such a special moment and she often wondered, why after everything they’d gone through- everything he’d put her through, she still wore the locket every day.  

She told herself that it was because it was her grandmother’s once upon a time, given to her by Pop- so that meant that it meant something to Betty. She told herself that it was because it was a constant reminder of her grandparents, but she couldn’t lie and say that there weren’t some late nights she found herself wondering if there was a different reason she still chose to accept the numerous compliments she got on the vintage jewelry almost every day.  

 

“Oh, Jug,” She said aloud, her voice shaking as she sniffled. She closed the empty velvet box and set it next to her knee on the floor. She thumbed through the pictures and smiled at the memories that they brought back. There was one of her at her first college party, a polaroid that she’s sent to him with one of her letters. Her smile was effortless, and you could tell she was having fun. She looked beautiful and free and, in that moment, she knew that she’d give anything to feel that way again.  

She noticed some of the same pictures that she had in her box- hidden underneath her bed at home. The one of Archie on the tire swing and Donna sitting in the front seat of the baby blue Cadillac that Betty suddenly missed- another tear coming to her eye at the thought of Donna being gone, they’d barely known each other a month and yet Betty couldn’t believe that she was gone.  

 

 

Betty read another letter after she added another log to the dimming fire. She wasn’t sure how long she sat there, but after a while she couldn’t ignore the nagging exhaustion that creeped into her bones. She placed everything back into the box and pressed her hands onto the quilt to stand.  

“Betts.” A voice snuck up behind her and her shoulders tensed. She jumped the rest of the way up to her feet and turned toward his voice. 

“Jug...” She spoke, cursing at the shake it her voice. She’d been caught red handed as she looked from the keepsake box at her feet and back to his silhouette in the hall.  

“I woke up and you weren’t there...” Jughead said quietly. “What are you doing?”  

“I- I...” Betty felt defeated, she wasn’t sure what to say to him.  

“So, you found my box.”  

“Yeah, I- I went to look for a blanket and I-” Betty tried to explain.  

“I’m not sure why I still have all of it, I meant to get rid of it years ago...” Jughead walked closer to her. “I just could never bring myself to actually do it.”  

He leaned down, bending his knees and crouching beside her. Betty’s eyes followed him as his fingers traced the edge of the box. He pushed up the lid and looked up at her. His eyes flickered with gold specks against the flickering flames of the fire beside them. She had to rip her eyes away from his to relax the clutch of her stomach.  

“You probably think I’m crazy to still have all this stuff.” He muttered with a half laugh.  

“I still have mine.” She said simply.  

“What?” Jughead asked incredulously. He stood to look at her, not believing her.  

“The letters...” She said, her voice almost inaudible. “All twelve of them- in a box under my bed back in New York.”  

“Betts...”  

“Don’t Jug,” Her voice cracked slightly.  

“Your locket...” He said, reaching out to caress the gold piece hanging from her neck. He was surprised when she didn’t flinch at his touch. “You still wear it.”  

“Everyday.” She told him simply. “It’s not-” She tried to speak, but Jughead used his thumb nail to open the locket and she watched as his face fell and realized that the picture of them no longer sat inside. On one side was a picture of her grandmother and on the other, where theirs used to be, rested a picture of Pop.  

“I bet you miss him...” Jughead said, staring at the black and white picture of Pop smiling.  

“Very much...” Betty said looking at the picture with him. Jughead closed the locket then, allowing it to drop and rest against her skin once more. “How’s your head?”  

“A little sore...” Jughead said. “But I’ll be okay.”  

“Good.”  

“Betty...”  

“Hmm,” Betty turned back to look at him.  

“Your hands...” He muttered softly stepping in a little closer to her. Her breath caught in her throat and she felt strangled. She was ashamed of her coping mechanism; she didn’t want it to define her and yet recently she found herself more and more unable to control it.  

“Juggie-” Her voice was meek, and her eyes had begun to fill with tears. Before she knew it, she was clutching her fists and his hands were reaching down to pull her fingers apart and her nails away from her skin. 

“Don’t.” He echoed himself from earlier in the night in his bed. He laced their finger’s together, their bodies so close that she could feel his heat radiating onto her skin. His palms against hers was such a familiar sensation and she welcomed it in entirely. Betty closed her eyes and let out a heavy breath through pursed lips, allowing Jughead’s presence to calm her like she had done so many times previous.  

 

But then she suddenly remembered everything that they’d been through. Everything that he’d put her through. Leaving her at the airport, not showing up in New York. Not returning her letters or her calls. Changing his number with no explanation. She had hated him for so long and until now she always thought that she had that right to do just that- hate him.   

No.” She whispered. “No, no.” She pulled her hands out of his and tried to walk away from him. Giving herself some distance to think. She swiped her fingers across her cheeks and under her eyes, to catch her tears. “You can’t be the one to fix me anymore Jughead!” She couldn’t help but raise her voice, her back to him. “I’m not yours to fix...”  

“Fix you?” Jughead muttered incredulously. “Betty I’m not trying to fix you! I’m trying to help you...”  

“I don’t need your help!” She didn’t mean to yell at him, but she was. She watched his face twist into a wince, and she knew that the pitch of her voice was worsening the pain in his head. “Don’t you get it?” She muttered, exasperated. “You can’t be the one to help me...”  

“Why not?” Jughead muttered. “Don’t shut me out, Betts...”  

“Just stop...” Betty scoffed, the hurt audible in her voice.  

“Why? Betty I-”  

“Because you hurt me Jughead!” Betty raised her voice once more, turning back to face him.  

“Then forgive me!” Jughead yelled back. “What’s stopping you from doing that? Forgive me- what harm can it do now?”  

“Jug...” Betty gasped. “I want to forgive you, I do- but I can’t...”  

“I was selfish...I know that Betts. But I- I thought it was for the best.”  

“Oh, that’s rich coming from you...” Betty scoffed.  

“My- my father passed away... I dropped out of school- I couldn’t burden you with that, I didn’t deserve to call you mine at that time in my life.”  Jughead unloaded after a moment.

“Jug, why didn’t you tell me?” Betty’s tone softened and she suddenly felt bad for out bursting on him.  

“I- I couldn’t do that to you.” Jughead told her sincerely. He collapsed onto the sofa, exasperated. “We saw each other over Thanksgiving-” 

“And we we’re fine!” She interrupted him, her tone laced with frustration as she tried to be gentle.  

“You were practically thriving at college, and when you called me to tell me that you couldn’t come down over your next break because of your Sorority's lock-in, it opened my eyes to just how much I was holding you back.”  

“Jug, that’s not true.”  

“And then I got word that my dad was sick... and my scholarship fell through and my loan debt started stacking up and I couldn’t afford the plane ticket to come to New York for Spring Break... I was ashamed.”  

“Why didn’t you tell me? I would’ve come up with the money-”  

“And I knew that you would say that!” He rose his voice slightly. “And you would’ve told me to go see my dying dad-”  

“I would’ve come back to Georgia, Jughead!”  

“And I couldn’t do that to you!” Jughead yelled back.  

“So, you what? You decided to just run away? Leave me with no answers...”  

“I thought it was for the best...”  

“And now?” Betty asked him meekly.  

“Now you have an amazing job in New York, you’re successful and, and you're-”  

“Without you...” She answered for him. “You got exactly what you wanted.” She couldn’t help the hurt that laced through her voice. Her eyes broken and glazy as they glanced at him.  

“Betty...” Jughead said, standing from the sofa to meet her gaze. “I promise you, I never meant to hurt you.”  

“But you did Jughead,” tears audible in her voice. She could feel his warm breath on her face and the tips of his fingers grazing slightly against hers. “Be honest with me now...” she plead. “Did you love me? I know it’s too late now, but did you really love me back then?”  

She needed to know if everything that she knew was a lie. She used to cover up her love for him with hatred, it was the only way she could get through those first days after she realized that he’d left her. When he changed his number and left her with no way of contacting him- she abandoned him, realizing that he had abandoned her. But on the days that her anxiety was too much, or her mother would leave her with the unbearable feeling of being unlovable she would remember him. He was the only one who ever made her feel worthy of love. Jughead Jones was her saving grace, as much as she didn’t want to admit it to this day it was still true.  

 

“It’s not too late.” Jughead stated simply, raising his hands to hold her trembling face. “It’s not too late.” He repeated with more emphasis.  

Jughead swallowed her gasp as his lips crashed into hers. Briefly their teeth clash and Betty lets out a hum as he pulls back to look at her eyes. Desire explodes within her and suddenly she’s pulling him back to her mouth. Kissing him back, matching his fervor, her hands gripping on the t-shirt he wore. Jughead groans into her mouth, a sound from the back of his throat that feeds the growing flame deep within her belly. His hands move down her body and stroke the top of her thighs to lift her. When her legs jump up to his sides Jughead winces and gasps into her mouth, forgetting about the forming bruise against his ribs. His fingers linger under the hem of the boxer shorts she’s wore, close to her ass and leaving her wanting more. Betty lifts a hand to push a strand of hair behind her ear. Her mouth not leaving his lips.  

Jughead licks into the deepest caverns of her mouth, savoring in what he’d been missing for all this time. Betty pours every ounce of angst and heartbreak into their kiss, binding herself to him when it hits her- he's doing the same ... in their moment of blinding passion- he feels the same.   

Jughead breaks their kiss, panting. His eye’s flicker with hunger, reflecting off the light of the dimming fire, triggering the already heated blood that was pounding in her ears. Betty’s mouth is slack as she tries to pull precious air into her lungs.  

“I’m sorry...” she whispers once her breath has returned. She wasn’t sure what she was apologizing for, but it felt like the right thing to say.  

“Do not.” Jughead mutters, still breathy. “Fucking apologize.”  

Another gasp left Betty’s lips and was swallowed by Jughead as he bruised her once more. He snaked an arm around her hip, his other hand on her ass to steady her as he walked them to the hallway. His kiss and touch were powerful and intoxicating- a weakness. He pinned her by her hips against the wall, kissing deep into her mouth once mouth.  

Jughead pulled away and noticed Betty’s groan of disappointment when he did. He watched her eyes as they flickered from his irises to his mouth and then back up again.  

“We shouldn’t do this...” She said in a hushed whisper, not entirely sure that she meant it.  

“We really shouldn’t do this.” Jughead retorted before reattaching his mouth to hers.  

Chapter Text

Jughead walks them into his room, setting her feet down on the hardwood floors, kissing her mouth the whole way there. Betty grips at the hem of his t-shirt and he let her pull it off, lifting his arms above his head. Her fingers grip his hips in a gently grasp as she bends over and places her lips flesh against his ribs- kissing the splotches of purple and deep blue against his skin. When her hair tickles his skin Jughead can’t help the goosebumps that follow in its wake. He leans in once she stands straight in front of him and kisses her neck. He presses his lips against her throat, licking against her carotid. Betty shivers, biting into her bottom lip when his mouth rises on her throat and on to the soft spot behind her ear.  

He remembers. Betty thought, her body quivering under his touch.  

Betty pulls Jughead away from her skin, placing her lips back over his. Euphoria was seeping through their veins as their lips pushed and pulled on each other.  

“Mmm, let me-” Jughead mutters against her mouth. “love you...”  

“Hmm,” Betty groans against him. “What?” she pulls her mouth away.  

“Let me love you, Betts...”  

Jughead looks down at Betty’s doe eyes. The moment stood still as he held her in his arms. She absentmindedly traces her nails over his taut chest. He watches as something shifts in her eyes and they fill with hunger.  

Betty reaches up, her hand coming around the back of his neck to pull his mouth back down to hers. Betty didn’t answer him, shifting her feet so that she could push him onto the bed. She was careful of his head, pinning him onto the mattress. She climbs over him, straddling his hips.  

Jughead didn’t know what to do. This wasn’t the innocent young women that he’d grown to love so many years ago. Betty was driven and sexy as hell. She was like his little minx, taking control of him. Betty kisses across his chest, marking her way up his neck and grazing her teeth across his chin. She could hear Jughead hiss through his teeth and she smirks against his skin. She sat up then, Jughead’s hands going instinctively to her hips. He stares up at her, his eyes ravenous and matching hers. Betty reaches down to the hem of his t-shirt that she wore, removing it in one swift motion. She’d taken off her bra and Jughead’s mouth watered at the site of her. She’d definitely filled out since the last time he’d seen her naked- he'd loved her body then, but now ... 

If she wanted to play captain that was fine, but Jughead had had enough. He sits up and holds her to him, sucking one of her nipples into his mouth. Betty’s gasp is quickly replaced with a moan, her fingers lacing into his luscious locks- holding his mouth against her. His arms covered her whole body as he holds her tiny frame. He kisses around her ribs, making his way back up to her mouth before flipping them and pinning her underneath him with is hips.  

“Jug...” Betty groans, moving her hips in an attempt relieve some of the tension that had settled there. Before she knew it, she’s pinned beneath him. Jughead forces his legs between hers, cradling her body with his own. She’d missed him more than words could describe. She missed his voice and his touch. She didn’t speak his name because it hurt too much. And all she could think about is how she had never moved on... because of him.   

 

Yet here she was, lying beneath him and as much as she wanted to simply call it sex- they both knew that it was more... it was so much more.  

 

Betty’s POV  

He kisses me, ravaging my mouth, our tongues intertwined- doing the most delicious tango. His hand trails up my inner thigh, over my hip, stroking my belly and squeezing my breast. My skin feels as though it’s on fire, burning against him. I groan and tilt my pelvis involuntarily against him. I groan in frustration at the agonizing annoyance the sears through my veins when I get no satisfaction from it. I yearn for gratification that isn’t being denied, yet isn't being rewarded either.  

Jughead suddenly stops kissing me and gazes down at my body, bemused and breathless. He flexes his hips and I can feel him hard against my inner thigh. He does it once more and his erection brushes so slightly against my pent-up center. Yes. Right there.   

I can feel the moan sitting in the back of my throat and I’m scared of the noise that might come out. My eyes flutter closed, and the cry escapes me as he does it again. But this time, I push back, finally seeking satisfaction. He moans his answer and kisses me again. I so badly want for him to touch me, his hands pressed against my sides. He continues the delectable torture- rubbing me, rubbing him. My pulse is thumping loudly in my ears and I close my eyes in an attempt to drown it out and just be in the moment with him. Suddenly all of my worries disappear, vanishing into the air like they never existed.  

My hands fist into his hair, holding him to my mouth, consuming him, my tongue licking into every corner. I feel his fingers tracing against my belly, my hands trialing down his arms and settling on his backside. My nails venture onto his waistband of his boxers, pushing my greedy hands ever so slightly inside- pleading him - urging him on. I’m forgetting everything... just us.  

“Forgive me...” He suddenly whispers so faintly against my lips. My mind goes blank, I almost don’t hear him. I want him, I can feel the bliss in my bones, and I want him.  

“Wh-What?” I feather. My mouth his slack, but I don’t remove my lips from his.  

Jughead pulls back, watching me and I can see the longing in his eyes- their blue making my stomach swirl. Chills dance up my spine. I feel like a teenager again, being held in his arms and feeling true acceptance.   

I close my eyes when he leans down and presses his forehead against mine, a welcomed pressure that I didn’t even know I had missed. I feel his breath against my lips, his heavy sighs warming my skin. My hands come up to hold his arms, cupping against his shoulder blades. The moment became the most welcome heavy, just feeling his weight against me.  

“Forgive me...” He mutters it so slow and so sweetly that I can feel my heart strings stretch. Tears almost spring to my eyes, but damn I’m so tired of crying over him. 

 

I can’t speak, scared of what might come out if I do. So, I pull him closer to me, our noses brush and after a moment I nod against him.   

“Let me love you...” His words echo in my ear from what he’d said earlier in the night. The moment had been so hot and heavy that it made my head spin and I hadn’t even completely processed it. “There’s never been anyone else...” He continues to speak in my ear.  

“Juggie...” I whimper. I want to cry because he’s right. There’s never been anyone else that I’ve been able to love because of him. Because I never fell out of love with him.  

 

Jughead’s POV  

I brush my nose against hers, feeling her tension relax beneath me. I understand that my words have struck a chord within her without her even telling me. That’s what makes her so special, I’ve been able to read her from the day we first met ten years ago.  

“What do you want, baby?” I mutter, nudging my nose against hers once more. I can feel her inhale deeply, her nipples brushing against the skin of my chest. I catch her lips on mine, unable to help myself as she exhales against them. Her hands move to my face and she holds my mouth against hers, a moan escaping my throat.  

Betty pulls her mouth away from mine, nodding profusely against the skin of my face- our foreheads and noses brushing. I could feel her surrender ripple between use, sensing the control slip from her grasp.  

“Make love to me, Jug...” She mutters, her voice pitching with a slight whisper.  

“What?” I can’t help but stutter, not believing my ears.  

“Love me.”  

 

I take our hands and thread our fingers together on the pillow under her head. My headache is completely forgotten, just wanting to be with her. I kiss a sweet path from the corner of her mouth to the soft spot behind her ear, trailing my tongue down her neck, finding her pulse hard and fluttering against my lips. I continue down her chest, pulling one of her pebbled peaks into my mouth. Betty holds me against her chest, a cry leaving her throat. She suddenly feels my hand trial down her stomach, my fingers skimming at the top of his boxer shorts that she wore.  

“Please Jug,” Betty’s voice feathers in my ear. The anticipation was killing her and to her surprise I reached both of my hands down to pull off her shorts. She lets out a heavy sigh, audible and weighted in the air that surrounded us. Betty flexed her toes, her eyes closing as I kiss along her hip bones. Betty bit into her bottom lip, her back bowing as I kiss her... there.  

 

Jughead tortures her with his tongue, giving her no reprieve. He holds her down with a palm on her belly as she eggs him on with her gasps and cries. Betty begins to tilt her hips to him, meeting and matching his rhythm- feeling utterly consumed.  

“Oh, Jug...” Betty moans.  

“Not yet...” Jughead whispers gently. Betty feels herself quicken just he pulls himself away and she whimpers at the loss of contact.  

“No.” she sniveled.  

 

Jughead trials kisses beck up her belly, his hands stroking up and down the inside of her thighs. When his thumbs reach close to her center, he uses one of them to push against her sensitive flesh.  

“Ah!” Betty cries out just as Jughead’s lips meet back at her mouth. He repeats agonizing circles with his thumb, Betty’s breath coming out in pants. She writhes beneath his touch, even kissing him she wanted to feel him within her- feeling him hard and heavy against her leg. “Juggie, please.”  

She reaches for the waist band of his boxers, pushing them down his legs in a rush. She grabs him in a gentle yet agonizing grip, he gasps in stereo against her ear.  

“Fu-fuck.” He feathers. She squeezes him and pulls on him with her small hands, her dainty fingers wrapped around him as he looks down to watch her.  

“I need you...” Betty whimpers. “Please, Jug...”  

Betty is desperate for him. On fire. Out of control. It’d been so long and suddenly she wanted to tell him just that.  

“It’s been so long, Jug...” She gasps, his mouth kissing the swell of her breast. He nips slightly at the plush flesh, causing her to yelp lightly into the dark air.  

“Oh, I know baby... I know.” He tells her, coming up to her mouth to kiss her. “It’s been awhile for me too.”  

Jughead kisses her lips, her cheeks, her eyes, her neck. Her chest was heaving beneath him as he watches her nipples continually brush over the skin of his chest, his erection becoming agonizingly painful between them.  

“Don’t go slow, Jug...” She suddenly gasps and he about loses it right there. “We can go slow later .”  

Her promise of later le aves him reeling, he feels his groin tighten and wonders if she’d even realized what she’d just said. Finally, finally , he positions himself between them- taking a moment to watch her face for any signs that he should retreat. He uses his free hand to stroke over her cheek, Betty turns her head to kiss the flesh of his palm and holds onto his wrist as Jughead sinks into her.  

He moves agonizingly slow, letting her get used to the feeling of him filling her. She’s so tight, and she hears him moan through grit teeth at the vice grip she held on him. He swallows her gasp into his mouth when he reaches the hilt, kissing her for a still moment. Her hands stretch over his tight and bunched muscles, holding him against and savoring in the feeling of their skin together.  

“Fuck, baby...” He hisses.  

“Move, Jug.” She commands with a gasp.  

He rocks his hips forward, quickly finding an easy rhythm. She knows that he’s trying to be gentle and tears spring at the corners of her eyes, feeling him as he filled her over and over again. Their bond seemed inexplainable to her and yet with every stroke, touch, kiss or caress she felt adored, revered, protected...  and loved by Jughead Jones.  

 

Jughead gazes down at her, his hands coming up to her cheeks and finding the loose tendrils of her hair damp from her runaway tears.  

“Betts,” He gasps. She feels him begin to still and she grips his skin with her nails.  

“No, don’t stop.” Betty gasps. There was such an odd mix of pressure, tenderness, and raw passion in the air that surrounded them, and she could see it etched all over his face. “Please don’t stop.”  

She reaches up to stroke his face, his eyes closing as her fingertips trace over his cheekbone. She wraps her legs around him, feeling him fall deeper within her core and he groans. Her heels dig into his tailbone, holding him against her at the dimple of his back. She can feel her release lurking, her groin tingling and tightening, a cry leaves her lips in the form of his name. She curls her hands around his neck, twisting her fingers into the hair at its nape.  

“Let go, baby...” He says, seemingly reading her body as she clung to him. “I’ve got you...” He whispers, pressing his lips sweetly against her lips. “I’ll catch you.”  

His hand slinks down to meet her sensitive flesh, with a single rub Betty lets out a sob. Her heart lurches at his tender words and she tumbles. Fresh tears begin to roll down her cheeks as every muscle in her body goes torturously rigid against him.  

“Holy fuck...” She briefly hears him curse against her hair. She is floating, weightless, cradled in his arms.  

Betty isn’t sure how long they lay there. He eventually stilled, still within her when she became aware of him murmuring soothing words against her ear. She hugged him to her. She loved the feeling of his weight against her, she could feel his heart beating wildly against her chest.  

Jughead leans up after a moment, kissing her lingeringly.  

“I didn’t hurt you, did I?” He asks her, concerned as to what had caused her to cry.  

“No!” She gasps and sniffled, bring a hand up to wipe at her cheek. “That was just...” Overwhelming. She thinks. “Amazing.”  

She caresses his hard jaw with her fingers and watches as a small smile come over his cheeks. He eases off of her, leaning in to kiss her as he does.  

“Stay right there.” He mutters.  

Jughead climbs from the sheets and Betty watches as he walks naked to the bathroom. She chuckles at the view of his toned ass, remembering how much she loves that ass. Betty closes her eyes and relives his love making. She feels fully sated and lays against his sheets with a warm, sleepy glow surrounding her. She feels so content and she briefly wonders just how long it will last.  

 

The bed dips again, as he gently spreads her legs and presses a warm cloth to her still quivering flesh. She wants to argue with him, a part of her feeling fully mortified. But she is suddenly too tired to fight him. She opens her eyes and sees him watching her. He gets up again to toss the washcloth back into the bathroom before climbing back into bed with her, pulling her back against his body.  

As they lay there, Jughead holds her in his arms. Betty doesn’t want to think about anything but him and the moment that they just shared together. She feels like utter bliss, boneless and happy. It’d been so long since she’d just felt happy.  

Jughead watches as her eyes grow heavy. He isn’t sure what she was thinking about as her nails trace up and down the skin of his side. Her eyes flutter before opening slowly again. She’s curled into his chest and he can feel her breathing slowing against his skin. He can’t help but chuckle softly and it startles her. Betty jumps slightly, her eyes shooting open and Jughead laughs again.  

“Jug...” She whispers, her hand stiffening against his skin. Jughead can’t help himself; his head in beginning to hurt once more and he knows that she is exhausted, he leans down and kisses her temple- watching her eyes fall closed once more.  

“Sleep, baby...” He murmurs. “Just sleep.”  

 

Betty seems to hum and nod, her hands coming around to rest on the warmth of his chest and her head buries itself in the crook of his neck. What they’d done certainly complicated things more than they already were, but in the moment he simply didn’t care. Jughead knew that his presence alone allowed Betty to let her walls down and be free with him. He wasn’t sure what it all meant, but he knew that he had nothing else to lose with her. So, he held her close and savored in the feeling of her skin against his... hoping that it wouldn’t be the last night that he ever spent with her.  

 

 

Betty’s POV  

I wasn’t sure what I expected to wake up to, but I certainly did not expect to be alone. I reach out to touch the sheet beside me, their still wrinkled and warm under my hand. I stretch, allowing the air stuck within my joints to release and pop audibly into the air. Jughead’s gone, but he hasn’t been gone long- that I know. My muscles feel fatigued, no doubt from carrying Jughead’s limp body in from the barn last night... and well after. The sun is shining brightly through the windows, last night's storm long forgotten. I can tell that it’s still early from the position that the sun beams have set to warm the floorboards.  

I suddenly hear the sound of running water in my ears. I find Jughead’s discarded t-shirt on the floor next to me. I swoop it up and pull it over my head, the air chilling my skin as I pull myself from his sheets. I spot myself in the mirror on his dresser. Jesus, I look a mess. My hair is frizzy and tangled around my face. I attempt to comb through it with my fingers but it’s no use. I spot a purplish splotch against the skin of my throat, running the tips of my fingers over it instinctively. I want to be angry with him for marking me, but the memories of how it got there are far too good for misplaced anger.    

I venture into the hallway, the sound of water growing louder as I get close to the bathroom. I pass the archway of the living room and my eyes land on Jug’s keepsake box still sitting on the floor close to the fireplace. I can feel my heart swell in my chest, warming a path through my toes. I smile, holding my locket between my fingers.  

The bathroom door is cracked, the smallest spew of steam spilling from its jam. I feel like I’m living on clouds and I oddly miss the feeling of his skin against mine. I step into the bathroom, seeing his figure outlined against the opaque shower door. I pull at the hem of his t-shirt, savoring in the scent of him as the cotton brushes against my mouth and nose. He still hasn’t noticed my presence in the small bathroom, the air still silent apart from the stream hitting hard against the tub’s acrylic floor.  

 

Carefully I push open the far glass door. Jughead has his back to me, his toned shoulders exposed, my eyes trialing down to his delicious ass. He’s running his hand through his hair, still oblivious to my company. I step inside cautiously, careful not to slip. I start to seriously worry about his perceptiveness when he startles and starts to turn toward me. My hand catches his arm and he stills.  

I feel him jump under my touch as my hands slink around his front, resting flat against his chest. His body relaxes once he realizes that it's me and I place my lips against his shoulder blade and close my eyes, simpering in the feeling of the hot water hitting my toes and forearms. I feel Jughead’s hand come up to mine and hold them against his chest. I watch as his head hangs and we simply stand under the hot stream, savoring each other's company.  

I shiver with a chill after a moment. Jughead seems to notice, taking his hands from mine to turn our bodies in the stream. The water beats against my back as Jughead moves to face my front.  

“Did I wake you?” He asks gently, his hand coming up to push a strand of hair behind my ear. I shake my head at him, leaning in to press my cheek against his skin, hugging him to me. My eyes trail down to his side, his bruise staring me angrily in the face.  

“Holy shit, Jug...” I gasp, my fingers slinking down to brush over it slowly. He’d been kicked really hard and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a broken rib under there. His skin was splotched with red, black and blue. I can hear him hiss through his teeth as my fingers gently stroke over it and I pull back, looking back at him with apologetic eyes.  

“It looks a lot worse than it feels,” He tells me. “I promise.”  

“Jesus, Jug...” I aver. “I knew I should’ve gone with you...” I lift my fingers to dance over his forehead and onto his eyebrow. It isn’t nearly as been as I thought it’d been in the dark, but he still has a pretty nice gouge in his skin. His eyes flutter closed as I do, but he doesn’t offer any signs of discomfort. I take his head in my hands and pull him down to me, pressing my lips ever so softly against the cut on his face and the bruise against his cheek bone. I can feel him sigh against my touch, his hands reaching for my sides and pulling me to him under the hot spray.  

“You were only doing what you were told.” He mutters before I place my lips over his. His words from the previous night replay in my head. I have never been one to do what I was told- he wasn’t wrong about that.  

“How’s your head?” I ask him, my voice even gentle in my own ears. “Any dizziness, headache?”  

“A little.” He murmurs, his forehead still against mine. My eyes are closed, so I can’t see his, but I don’t doubt that his are as well.  

“I think you got a concussion, Jug...” I attempt to tell him.  

“Probably.”  

“So why are we up at six in the morning?” I giggle softly. “You should be resting...” 

“You didn’t seem to think so last night...” He says with a coy smile on his face.  

“Mmm, hmm...” I hum. “So, you do remember?”  

“I guess my concussion must not be too bad then, huh?” He chuckles and squeezes me tighter. “I don’t think fucking with a concussion is exactly what the doctor would’ve ordered...” He says cheekily, raising an eyebrow.  

 

Before I can even respond, he leans down and places his lips hard against mine. I kiss him back, my hands cradling carefully at his sides. I can feel his tongue playing at my bottom lip, waiting for entry into my mouth. He pushes back leading me into the wall under the spray. As my back meets the slick plastic the pipe from the faucet lets out a loud shriek. Damn old houses. I can feel Jughead wince against my skin, his face twisting at the pain he must feel in his head.  

I know that we have a lot to talk about but the largest part of me just wants to make him feel good and pay him back for last night. I reach down, my fingers trailing over the V lines from his hips. His hands have moved up and are pressed against the wall on either side of my face. When he senses my fingers, he groans against my mouth.  

“Betts...”  

“Shhh...” I quiet him. In the small confines of the shower, I somehow manage to sink to my knees in front of him- feeling the rough of the tub floor beneath my skin and kissing my way down as I go.  

 

Jughead’s POV  

Warm water sluices down my back as I feel her take me in her hands. I can feel her hesitation through her grip, although I can’t see it on her face as I look down at her. She works me up and down with her fingers a couple times, our eyes locking when she leans in and places the smallest kiss at the tip.  

“Sh-shit.” I feather. My eyes close at the feeling of her lips on me- her mouth feels so fucking good wrapped around me. I turn my face into the spray of the water, feeling my core tighten under her touch. She reaches a hand around to grip my ass, her fingers squeezing the toned muscle. “Betts...” I stutter. I hear her groan deep in her throat, taking me into her mouth over and over again. One of my hands reaches down to wrap in her hair, holding her against me for a second before releasing her once more. She looks so beautiful on her knees before me, her mouth wrapped deliciously around me. I only remember her doing this for the first and only time when she’d come to visit me over Thanksgiving all those years ago. We’d had a lot of firsts that weekend, and I didn’t want to think about how-but Jesus she’d gotten so much better at it.  

I feel myself begin to tighten and a heavy moan leaves my lips, stemming from somewhere deep in my throat. Her tongue feels like soft velvet and watching her pleasure me feels like sin. I suck in a mouthful of air, groaning once more as she does something with her tongue.  

“Baby...” I groan. I reach down to pull her up, feeling my release rise in my stomach. She lets out the most disgruntled groan, tightening her grip on me and swatting my hand away. “Fu-fuck.”  

With two more jerks, I’m a goner. I feel her stiffen in surprise around me, pulling her mouth away to stroke me through it with her hand. Holy shit. Is the only thought I can process. I hang my head as my pulse pounds deep within my ears. I take a moment to recover before I step back to scoop her up to her feet. Her giggling fills my ears and I can see the blush through her cheeks as it reaches the tips of her ears.  

“Seriously?” I say through a laugh. I take her mouth in a heated kiss, tasting myself on her lips. I dive into her neck and I feel the shudder dance over her skin when I lick over her sweet spot behind her ear. I grin against it and do it again, earning myself the smallest whimper from her throat.  

“Where did you learn how to do that?” I ask her incredulously.  

“Porn.” She says with the utmost sincerity. “Lots of porn.”  

“What?” I say through a scoffed laugh, not believing the words that had just come from her mouth. She holds my biceps in her hands, and I try not to think about her ogling over my body for the almost hundredth time. I watch as droplets fall from her long eyelashes, the blue of her irises is intoxicating, and I notice that her lips look slightly bee stung.  

“I wasn’t lying last night...” She mutters, her voice suddenly quiet and muffled from the spray of the water against us. Her arms wrap around my neck and I lean down so she can press her forehead to mine. “It’s been a long time...” Betty whispers. “And well... I have... needs .”  

Her sudden shyness is like my kryptonite. I can’t help the bleat that leaves my lips as I reattach them to hers. I stroke my tongue against the roof of her mouth, kissing her passionately. Her ass fills my hands once I reach it, squeezing it and pushing her harder against me. My fingertips flutter at the small of her back and I listen as a whimper leaves her lips once more.  

“Jug...” Her voice feathers. “I- I need...”  

“What, baby?” I coax. I pull her close, walking backward so that her back meets the shower wall. She lets out a gasp when the cold tile strums against her shoulder blades.  

“I need you to touch me...” I hear her mutter shyly against the skin of my cheek. She doesn’t need to tell me twice, my fingers venturing down to the apex of her thighs. Betty lets out a small cry as my fingers stroke over her delicately. I suddenly long to taste her, not getting near enough last night and not realizing that I did in fact miss that taste. The delectable taste that is Betty Cooper. 

 

I kiss my way down her chest, paying close attention to each of her nipples and savoring in her writhes before I kiss down her belly, below her navel- my hands tracing softly up and down her thighs. I nuzzle between her folds, licking and teasing her. I feel her hand reaching into my hair, her fingers threading themselves there. She moans as I suck her tight little bud between my lips. I can feel the warm water beginning to chill as it still sprays against my back. I lap at her and I can feel her thighs begin to shake under my touch. Her ecstasy becomes almost unbearable at the sensations I’m able to send through her body. My hands slide around to grip her ass, deepening the assault with my tongue against her. Her grip tightens on my hair and I know she’s close as she pulls almost painfully on my locks.  

“Fuck, Jug.” She yells hoarsely as, finally, her release flashes behind her eyes. She holds me close as I lap at her, bringing her down. I look up and find her eyes closed, her head thrown back against the wall. She whimpers as I tongue at her sensitive flesh. 

 I reach behind her to turn off the water, it’s chill fully setting in against my skin. I know it’s reached her too as tiny goosebumps rise under my fingers. I stand in front of her and her legs wobble beneath her. I reach out grabbing her waist to steady her.  

“Good.” Is all she can mutter as I nudge her chin up with my finger. “So, good...”  

She cups my face in her hands and pulls me down to kiss me, humming at the taste of herself on my tongue. Our wet bodies meet, and she wraps her arms around me. I'm cold and I feel a shuddered dance over her whole body, brushing against me.  

“Come on, let’s get dry.” I tell her, pulling her from the shower.  

 

I wrap her in one of my large bath towels before grabbing one for myself. We dry ourselves before I tie mine into a knot around my hips. I see her lip quivering and she lets out a nervous laugh.  

“Is that my shirt?” I say, spotting it on the floor by her feet.  

“Yeah, I slipped it on when I woke up and you weren’t there...”  

“Sorry, you just looked so comfortable and I couldn’t sleep- so I figured a shower might help with my headache...”  

She opens her towel to hug me, her breasts pushing against my chest as I bend down to place my lips on hers once more. She hugs me and I kiss the top of her head. Suddenly her stomach growls and we both let out a giggle.  

“You hungry?” I laugh, pulling away to look down at her. She nods against my skin and I realize that she hasn’t eaten since yesterday morning and suddenly I feel like an asshole.  

“And cold...” She shivers once more.  

“Come on...” I mutter. “Let’s get you into some clothes and then I’ll make us some breakfast.”  

 

Jughead finds Betty another one of his t-shirts, slipping it over her head before kissing the pout against her lips. She watches as something seems to click in his brain- almost as if he’s just remembered something. She watches him leave the room in nothing, but a pair of boxer briefs he walks across the hall and comes back after a bunch of shuffling and the sounds of drawers opening and closing. He had a stack of women’s clothing in his hands, throwing it onto his bed sheets. Betty was suddenly taken aback and unsure of what to think.  

“Jug?” She questions.  

“Oh,” He mutters, understanding her headspace. “Um, so uh after my dad died- my uh, my sister reached out-”  

“Jellybean?” She interrupts, her voice coming out with a gasp.  

“Anyway, she uh- she comes to stay a couple times a year and last time she was here she left some clothes... it’s not a lot but, it’s something.” He shrugs at her.  

“Jug...” Her hand reaches out to stroke his arm. “That’s really great.” 

“Yeah, I was honestly shocked to hear from her, but we talk pretty regularly now.” 

“And your mom?” She asks him cautiously. She watches as his eyes seem to fall, distance entering them as she gazes at him. He simply shakes his head, answering her question loud and clear. “I’m sorry Jug, I didn’t-” she attempts to defend.  

“It’s okay,” Jughead reaches out to grip her shoulders. “Look through the clothes, if you can’t find anything feel free to take something of mine...” he smiles sincerely. “I’m gonna go get started on breakfast.” He kisses her sweetly and walks back to his doorway.  

 

Betty turns to look at the clothes he’d left behind from his sister.  

“Coffee?” He speaks suddenly and she turns back to him.  

“Yes, please...” She smiles softly at him and then he’s gone, disappeared past the doorway of the hallway.  

Betty found a pair of light gray cotton shorts and some baby pink nylon panties. They weren’t her typical lace which she suddenly remembered were still in his washing machine and would need to be washed again, but they also weren’t cotton and she didn’t want to go commando, so she slipped them on and then thread her legs through the shorts. They were a little big and she had rolls them at the waist and with Jughead’s t-shirt you honestly couldn’t even tell that she was wearing pants at all. There were a few of Jellybean’s t-shirt in the pile as well, but she couldn’t lie- Jughead's clothes against her skin just did something for her.  

She brushes out her wet and tangled locks with a brush she finds on Jughead’s dresser. Betty tucks her hair behinds her ears, looking at herself in his large mirror.  

I look different. She thinks.  

She’s not entirely sure what it is. But the warmth within her is all she can describe as happy. She doesn't want it to end and she wonders how long she can make it last. She remembers that it’s Sunday and she’s not due back to New York until Tuesday, her flight set to leave early that morning. She wonders how long Jughead will let her stay and how long they can avoid the elephant in the room, simply just taking some time to enjoy each other's company- all while absentmindedly twirling her locket between her fingers.  

 

Betty’s POV  

When I joined Jughead in the kitchen, it is almost unrecognizable now that sunlight is flooding the space and it isn’t under the heaviness of the fridge light and thunderstorm clouds. The cabinets he had built were beautiful stained wood and he’d replaced the countertops with dark granite. I smile when I realize the he’d set out a mug of coffee for me. I sit on a stool at the island, dropping two sugar cubes into my coffee before taking a cautious sip.  

“Jug, this is amazing!” I gush as the dark liquid hits my tongue.  

“I know right,” He laughs softly. “It’s from Paris.”  

“What?” I gasp, not believing him. He’s beating a bowl of eggs but looks up at me to watch the disbelief fill my dilating pupils.  

“Jellybean is there, studying her semester abroad for her master's- she sent me it a few weeks back.” He tells me, nonchalantly.  

“That’s amazing...” I say, trying not to sound breathless. He’d slipped into a pair of flannel pajama pants that sat deliciously low of his hips, but he was still shirtless of course and I was slightly worried about how that would work out with him cooking over an open flame. “What’s she studying.”  

“Arts management and business,” he tells me, reaching into one of the cabinets for a loaf of bread. “She’s wants to get into film.”  

“Like directing?”  

“Something like that...” He laughs.  

I can see pain etched through his forehead. His brow was furrowing, and I can almost feel the ache that his must feel within his muscles. We’d gone too hard and too fast, no matter how good it had felt.  

 

I stand from the stool walking toward him at the stove. I slink up next to him, my hands reaching for his bicep as my lips press against his shoulder.  

“What’s for breakfast?” I ask. I’m completely famished, and my stomach will not stop with its let out of moans and groans.  

“I just thought to keep it simple...” He tells me softly. “Eggs, toast...”  

“Bacon?” I ask teasingly.  

“Of course, bacon.” He laughs, reaching over the counter to pick up the package of fatty delicious meat.  

 

I want to tell him that he needs to put on a shirt, but a part of me doesn’t want him to. So, I reach for the whisk in his hand and he looks at me with confused eyes. I press up on my tip toes to catch his half open mouth in a kiss, pulling away just as quick.  

“Go. Sit.” I say. “Let me do the cooking.”  

“Betts.”  

“Go...” I shoo him away with my hands. “I’ll let you know when it’s done.”  

He snakes behind him, his arms wrapping around me to hold me and his mouth comes close to my ear.  

“Can I at least watch you cook?” He pleads through a hushed whisper. “Please...”  

“Jug...” I turn to look at him. He’s giving me the puppy dog eyes and he’s stuck his lip out to pout. I reach up and flick at his protruding lip with my finger, grabbing his arm to drag him back to his bedroom.  

“Betts?” He asks, unsure of what I’m trying to do.  

“Sit.” I command, pointing to his bed. I run to the bathroom and find him some pain killers. When I come back, I hand him the bottled water that sat on his bedside table and deposit the pills into his open hand. “Knock em’ back.” Jughead laughs but does as he’s told. I look around in search of his television remote and hand it to him. “Rest.” I say. “I’ll let you know when the food is ready.”  

“But, Betty-”  

“No but’s ,” I silence him. I get him settled against the pillows as he turns on the television. I push a strand of hair behind my ear and lean down to gently press my lips against his sore ribs.  

“The doctor order one right here too...” He mutters, placing his finger against his mouth with a coy grin. I roll my eyes but give him what he wants. I feel his hands come up to my sides and I pull away before he came pull me onto the bed with him. I hear him groan and I giggle. “Thanks nurse.”  

I hear him mumble as I reach the doorway. I don’t dare turnback because I know that if I do, there isn’t a chance of me making it past the threshold again.  

Chapter Text

Betty’s POV  

I set out on my search for a frying pan. I quickly wash my hands before I set it on the stove and turn up the heat. The bacon begins to cook, I take another sip of my delicious coffee and spot my bag hanging on the door of the mud room. I grab it and set it on the island. It’s surprisingly dry and everything within seems not to be too water damaged. I pull out my phone- it's dead of course. I quickly realize that I don’t have a charger, but I find one of Jughead’s plugged into the wall and I barrow it. I throw my thermos into the sink and find my meds. I quickly twist off the lid, throwing back the dose knowing I should still take them regardless of the lack of anxiety flowing through my body in the moment.  

I return to the bacon , flipping the strips in the pan and hissing when some of grease hits the skin of my arms. The burn is gone after a second and I pop four slices of bread into Jughead’s toaster. I find plates and set two of them out on the counter. I pour myself another mug of coffee from the pot and I find orange juice in the fridge for Jughead when I open it to put the egg car ton back. I’m shocked by how much actual food is inside . I would never peg him as the cook type but yet with the amount I always remembered him eating- he would need to be.   

I peek into the hall. I giggle when Jughead doesn’t notice me watching him. He’s resting just like I had ordered and seems to be watching some sort of document ary on the Investigative Discovery channel. Figures. I find myself back in the living room after a moment, picking up his keepsake box and bringing it with me into the kitchen. I go back to fold up the quilt that I had laid out on the floor, laying it over the couch and not bothering with the closet. I suddenly remember the washing machine and skip to the laundry room, smiling in admiration when I realize that Jughead has already restarted it.   

Everything about this morning feels so domestic . I wonder how long it will last. I set a paper towel out for the bacon to rest on and I pour the eggs into the hot pan with the leftover fat.   

 

“Breakfast is served.” I mutter with a smile, carrying both plates and his orange juice back into the bedroom.   

“Oh, looks great.” He sits up and takes one of the plates from me.   

 

He quickly eats all of his three eggs, two pieces of toast and I’m not even sure how much bacon. I give him the rest of mine once I’ve had enough and laugh at his garburator ways.   

“What?” He mutters as I watch him shove my last forkful into his mouth.   

“How do you stay so fit?” I ask, incredulously  

Well, I’m not just moving bales of hay anymore Betts...” He tells me with a cheeky grin. I had yet to ask him what his plans were for the farm, a question that had been eating at me. I reach out to run my fingers over his abdomen, the muscles contracting under my touch.   

“What are your plans for the farm Jug?” I ask him, simply ripping off the band aid . He turns to place my empty plate on top of his on his bedside table. I seriously can’t stand clutter or dirty dishes, so I push my knees up on his mattress and stand. I grab both of the plates and his empty glass and begin walking toward the kitchen.   

“Betts...” I can hear him groan. I know he’s following me, I set the plates into the well of the sink and turn to face him at island. “You don’t h ave to do that.” He nudges toward the sink.   

“Tell me about your plans Jug...” I say, avoiding his request. I watch him sigh and run a hand through his hair before I turn back to the sink and turn on the water.  

“Well...” He starts. “ When I got the farm, the fields hadn’t been kept up for years...” He explains . I already know this. Pop couldn’t hire the help and his Parkinson’s had gotten bad enough that he couldn’t drive the plow. “My goal was always to get the fields back together, and that’s still my plan but it’s changed a little bit.”   

“What do you mean?” I ask, turning my chin to catch his eyes for a brief moment.   

“I want to turn a portion of the fields into a vineyard...”   

“I’m sorry,” I mutter. “What?” I hear a soft laugh leave his throat and my belly clenches at the sound.   

“I have a buddy from college that I’m still in touch with,” He begins to tell me. I turn to face him, interested in his words, wiping my hands dry on a dish towel. “He’s about to open a winery in Holling. We’ve talked about a possible partnership.”   

“Wow, Jug that’s-”   

“It’s crazy I know.” He defends with his hands in front of him.   

But you know nothing about wine.” I laugh,   

“I wouldn’t be making the wine, just growing the product.” He tells me. “I’m thinking white grapes, peaches- of course , and maybe I don’t know...strawberries?”   

“Well, strawberry wine sounds pretty good me.” I shrug and smile.   

“The soil here is perfect and with the long summers that we’ve had the last few years it just seems right...” Jughead says. “What do you think?”   

“You want to know what I think?” I mutter, slightly taken aback.  

“Well yeah, Betts.”     

“I mean I- I don’t know enough about it.” I shrug. “Is there good money in running a vineyard?” I nervously chuckle.   

“Hell yeah.” He renders. “Think about farming and double it.”   

I have no idea what he means but his tone and passion tells me that it’s something he’s really considering.   

“If it’s something you really want, Jug-” I pause. “ Then yeah, I think you should go for it.”   

I watch as a large smile grows through his cheeks. I t ur n back to the sink full of water and I hear the stool scuff along the floor as he stands. I wait for his frame to come up behind me and I can’t help the giggle that escapes my throat when his arms come around my waist. He kisses the side of my head before turning my hips with his hands, forcing me to look at him.   

“What do you want to do today?” He suddenly asks and my mind goes blank.   

“I think I’m fine right here.” I mutter, leaning in to wrap my arms loosely around his large frame. I can’t help the yawn that suddenly escapes me, and I feel his chest bounce with a giggle against my cheek.   

“Nap it is.” He chuckles once more.   

Suddenly he bends down, his hands gripping against my thighs. My hands come around his neck and I catch his lips as he bends down. I can’t help but let out a giggle against his mouth at his antics. He picks me up and my legs go instinctively around his hips. I can feel his fingertips as they brush against the hem of the shorts I’m wearing, deliciously close to my ass. He squeezes lightly and begins to walk us toward his bedroom.   

 

Jughead drops me on the sheets , closing his curtain before coming back to the bed and crawling in beside me. I lay on the pillow and breathe in the scent of him as Jughead pulls me against him. I feel him kiss my hair and sigh.   

 

We lie in the quiet for a while, sleep suddenly evading me. I turn around and find Jughead with his eyes closed. I bring my fingers up to trace the features of his face. It doesn’t take but a moment and he’s smiling under my touch.   

“You’re supposed to be sleeping...” He mutters softly, his eyes still closed. I chuckle softly, the laughter coming out as a hum. He opens his eyes then and I think my breath must have skipped. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over their breathtaking shade of blue. They are swirled with a mix of sky and the Caribbean Sea with gold flecks of illuminated ash. My fingertips brush the h air from his forehead and his eyes close heavy again. Almost as if he’s never lost the ability to read me, he begins to speak once more. “What are you thinking about?”   

“You never told me how you got this...” I whisper, my nail dancing across the scar on his left shoulder . I run the pad of my thumb over it as I feel him tense and exhale against me.   

“A beer bottle.” He mutters simply and I can’t help the quiet gasp that leaves my throat knowing that he's talking about his alcoholic father.   

“Jug,”   

“It was a long time ago Betts, and it was an accident,” He soothes me with a gentle smile, his hand coming up to rub up and down my back. “I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”   

I feel his hand slither under the hem of my t-shirt and lay flat against my flesh, sparks moving their way up my spine. My eyes close when he leans in and places his lips against my forehead.   

“What is it, baby?” He mutters then, sensing that something is eating at me.   

“Did you...” I murmur. “Last night- did you mean what you said?”   

“Which part?” He chuckles softly, not loosening his grasp on me. “We both said a lot of things last night, Betts.”   

“The part...” I trail, hating how timid I sound. “The part where you said there’s never been anyone else?”   

His eyes soften and I hadn’t even realized that he had tensed. I feel his fingers stroke against my bare skin once more and I’m suddenly mortified with myself. I bury myself in his chest as the blush rises on my cheeks.   

“Betts,” He coaxes me. “Everything... that I said last night was the truth.”   

“How long, Jug?” I say. “How long has it been since you’ve been with someone?”   

“You really want to talk about this?” He mutters and suddenly I’m afraid of his answer, but I nod anyway. “Um,” He v oices nervously. “I don’t know, I guess almost two years.”   

“Oh.” I stutter. Seemingly it’s the only thing to stumble through my brain.   

“What about you?” He suddenly turns the table.   

“About the same.” I tell him sheepishly. He’s pulls me closer and I can’t help but press my lips against his chest.   

“Why are we talking about this? I really don’t want to think about you being with other people, Betts...” Jughead mumbles through a laugh, seemingly wanting to alleviate the awkwardness that has blanketed us.   

“It’s just last night- it's never been like that for me...” I confess. He leans in nuzzles himself against my nose and exhales deeply. The whole night had been so heavy an emotional- as I remember my heavy sobs as he made love to me.   

Nobody has ever made me feel the way that you do.”   

I can feel my heart swell and suddenly his lips are on mine. His kiss isn't heated or hurried. He takes his time to place his mouth on mine before I feel his tongue ever so slightly on my botto m lip. He strokes it softly against the roof of my mouth and just as I taste him, he pulls away, leaving me breathless.   

 

“Tell me about New York...” He suddenly speaks again.   

“Umm, what do you want to know?”   

“Exactly what I said .. .” He laughs and our memories coming rushing back at me. “If I recall right, we had a conversation just like this the day we met.”   

I can’t help myself, so I lean up to kiss him again, a surprised groan leaving his throat as I do. My hands push on his chest and he lays back on the pillows. My legs come over to straddle his hips, my knees imprinting the mattress on either side of him.   

“How’s New York ? ” He mutters against my mouth. I suddenly realize what he’s doing and for now, I’ll play along. “When do you have to go back?”   

“Big, busy... lonely.” I finish timidly. I feel him squeeze my sides as I lay back on his chest. “The day after tomorrow...”  

“And your job?” He asks.  

“It’s amazing Jug, I never thought that at twenty-seven I would have a lead editor position at a publishing company. It’s honestly crazy.” I tell him, in shock of my own success.   

“You didn’t think you could do it? Betty you’re an amazing writer.” He sits up then and I ’m sit ting in his lap. I can’t help but notice his wince as he forgets about his ribs. “When I said that I asked about you around town , I didn’t-”   

“It’s okay, Jug...” I silence him. “I know why you did it- and it’s okay.”   

“It’s only because I care about you Betty, my life went to shit after you and I don’t know what I would’ve done if yours did too.”   

“Jug...” I say through a hushed whisper. I feel as though our conversation should be heavy. We had practically screamed at each other the night before and yet for some reason I wasn’t angry with him. I didn’t even want to leave him.   

“Stay with me.” He whispers so softly, our foreheads pressed together. “I know that I hurt you Betts and I’ll be damned if I don’t regret it every God damn day, but I’m so so rry...” his head is writhing against mine, emotion practically seeping from his pores. “Just stay with me, tonight. ”   

I don’t argue. Because I don’t want to go. He’s asking me to stay with him... just for tonight, but it’s a risk that I’m willing to take. I don’t have anything else to lose. The man already ha s my heart. He’d stolen it ten years ago and never given it back.   

 

 

Jughead’s POV  

She looks so beautiful against my chest. I can feel her soft exhales against my skin and I still can’t believe that she’s sleeping in my arms. I look at the alarm clock on my bedside table. It’s just after one in the afternoon. I need to get out and check on the horses, but I don’t want to wake her or leave her here alone. Yet, I’d done that this morning and it had worked out in my favor.   

I want to ask her about her anxiety. But I don’t know if I have the right. I’m sure that I’ve caused her some pain and I never thought that she’d end up back here, in this room, i n my arms. I’m no t s ure how long it’ll l ast, yet why it even happened. It shouldn’t have happened. She shouldn’t be here. She should be in New York, away from me, making a life for herself like she deserves. And yet, I want to be selfish. For once in my life I want to take and no t give. Because, although I know she doesn’t see it like that, I gave her away by letting her go all those years ago. I did it for her, not me. But I guess some decisions are com plicated and confusing because by giving her the life she deserved - I left her, I hurt her, and now I selfishly want her back and I need to figure out a way to keep her.   

 

“Betts...” I leaned down and whisper, my lips brushing against her brow. I her in softly gru m ble through her chest and her nose scrunched into a frown as she began to stretch. I laugh and kiss her forehead once more. “Wake up, sleepy head...”   

“No.” She groans, burying herself closer to my skin as if it were even possible.   

“Yes...” I chuckle. “Or you’ll never sleep tonight.”   

“Who said anything about sleeping tonight ? ” She mumbled, cheekily. Even though she still had her eyes closed I knew what she went by it and my insides began to twitch. I put my tongue in to my cheek with a scoffed laugh just as she opens a single eye to peek up at me.    

Ohoho , no...” I stutter. “Don’t start that now or we’ll never leave this bed.”     

“I mean, I’m okay with that.” She presses up to wrap her arms around my neck, pressing my back into my pillow. Suddenly her lips are on mine and I groan, my hands going to her sides. I kiss her back, just enough to tease her and sate her.   

“I didn’t want to wake you,” I mumble as I pull away. I quickly peck the frown from her lips. “I need to go check on the horses... Do you want to come with me?”   

A warm smile grows through her cheeks after a moment. I hug her tighter and she kiss es me once more. Eventually I have to lift her off me, laughing as she grum bles. I throw her shorts at her from the floor, that at some point had come off. I give her a weird look as she catches them in a single hand, a frown still playing on her lips  

“I don’t like to sleep with pants on,” She shrugs.   

“Jesus, Betts...” Quickly I’m hovering back over her on bed as she bursts into a fit of giggles.  

I kiss her hard before jumping back up to zip and button my jeans. I quickly pull a stray t-shirt over my head and Betty walks over to me. I pull her close, leaning down to kiss her. I hadn’t even realized how much I missed ou r height difference.   

“How’s your head?” She suddenly asks as she reaches a hand up to stroke the cut on my cheek.   

“I’ll be okay, Betts.”   

“I don’t know even want to think about what would’ve happened if I wasn’t here.” She tells me and I feel a weird warmth enter my chest.   

“I’m glad you were.” I say as I pull her closer in a hug.   

“Me too...” She admits through a whisper. I feel her nuzzle and kiss my chest- I love how she’s always doing that. “Can you kiss me?” She suddenly asks.   

“You never have to ask me for that,” I laugh, pressing my lips to hers. I pull away and she chases me with hers, kissing me again.   

“Take me to see the horsey , Jug.” I laugh at her demand as she turns away from me. I can’t help myself as a reach a hand out to playfully smack her ass. S he yelps and runs from me to the bathroom  

 

 

We find Cruze rooming the open floor, just as she ’d left him. I’m not sure what made her think to that and then I remember that I used to let Beauty roam the stables as a foal. I see Beauty eating in her stall as Betty walks around aimlessly, just taking everything in. I pet down Cruze’s snout, glad to see that he’s calmed down.   

“Before you say that I’m an idiot-” I begin to speak, and Betty turns towards me. “Yes, I know it was stupid for me to go into his stall, but I really didn’t think that anything ba d would happen.”   

“I wasn’t gonna say anything.” She s hakes her head, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear.   

“Okay sure, but you were thinking it.”   

“Something really bad could’ve happened y’ know?”   

“Yes, I know Betts.” I confess, nodding.   

“Promise me you won’t do anything stupid like that again.”   

“Betts I-”   

“Promise me.” She demands, cutting me off. I think I see her stomp her fo ot and a grin begin to pull at the corner of my mouth. “Because next time I won’t be here to help you.”   

I notice her tone change and watch as her face begins to fall. I know that she has to go back to New York, and she does too. Is she saying a part of her wishes she could stay? No, there’s no way . I walk towards her , pulling her into my arms and kissing her hair.   

“Thank you for saving me...” I tell her. “I’m not sure what persuaded you to come here, but I-”   

“I really thought it’d be some hermit couple.” She admits. “I never in a million years thought I’d be here... with you.”   

“I know Betts.” I say . “But I’m so glad you are.”   

“Me too.”   

I feel my heart swell at her confession . I don’t know what it all means. But I don’t think either of us really wants to find out. We are just simply taking the moment as it is. Here. Now. And for now, that’s enough.   

 

 

“Can I ask you something?” Jughead asks her as they brush over Cruze. They’d just finished giving the horses a bath which had end up with them laughing and more water on their skin than the horses.   

“Of course.” Betty nods at him.   

“How’s your hands?” He asks her timidly, understanding that he was treading i n rocky territory  

“Jug,”   

“We don’t have to talk about it... it’s just last night-”   

“I know.” She says simply. She throws the brush from Beauty into a nearby bucket, wiping her hands together. “It just started again.”   

“What do you mean?” He asks her. Jughead walks over to her and takes her hands in his.   

“Remember when you told me to never let you be the reason, I did this...” She emphasizes her words by jerking her hands. Jughead simply nods, bringing her fingers up to his mouth to kiss them. “So , I made you t he reason I - I didn’t...”   

“What?” He mutters breathlessly.   

“Anytime I felt myself getting to that point, I thought about you...” She confessed. “And eventually I just stopped doing it, but then- the night before I left to come here my mom called and I- I...”   

“Hey,” Jughead stopped her. He watched as she worked herself up and then took a settling deep breath. “You’re okay... I’ve got you.”   

She gave him a shaky smile and nod s  

“It’s just my mom... she’s always badgering me about my career and my life, telling me I should be married by now and I just-”  

“Since when do you listen to your mother?” He laugh s at her. “I thought we both decided that that was bad idea.”   

He th inks back to fall break during her freshman year. Alice Cooper had done everything in her power to keep Betty from going to see him in Georgia - i n the end failing and now h e was su r e that she h ad a permanent hatred for him for hurting her daughter.   

“Thank you.” Betty mutters simply.   

“For what?” He glanced at her confused.   

“For bringing me back to earth.”   

“Anytime, baby...” He leans down to kiss her, holding her shoulders in both of his hands. “Let’s try not to do this again though, okay?” He holds her hands and strokes his fingertips over her palms. Betty simply nods and smiles up at him.   

“Okay, let’s get these horses done, get cleaned up and I’ll make us some lunch- I'm starving.” He reaches for the bucket on the ground and begin to clean up as Betty watches him.   

“You’re always hungry.” She tells him.   

“Always.” He sends back a wink at her and Betty knows that he doesn’t mean for food. It makes her stomach flip, but she rolls her eyes and wipes a hand over her forehead. Grabbing the towel from Beauty’s neck , she finishe s wiping her off, simply shaking her head in disbelief that she was standing outside the barn, at her grandfather’s old farm, with none other than Jughead Jones.   

 

Jughead secures the horses in their pins, turning back to Betty. She's planted herself against a large stack of hay. He strips his shirt, fisting it in his hands as he watches her- it’s soaked in water and sweat. He can’t help but notice her eyes devour him as she leans against the hay next to the large stable door.   

“Like what you see?” He mutters teasingly, walking closer to her.   

“You have no idea.” She shakes her head. He hears her gasp as his hands meet her sides and he swoops her into his arms.   

“Oh yeah ? ” He leans in enough to nudge his nose against hers and watches as she draws her bottom lips between her teeth. He feels his groin twitch as she does it and groans as he bruises her lips in a hard kiss.   

Jughead was reeling, he'd never met a women like Betty. He didn't know what it was, but she was so perceptive to his every touch- practically begging him for every kiss. He couldn't get enough of her. 

“Fuck me, Jug.” Betty simply demands. She’s breathless and pulls away from his kiss to reach for the front of his jeans. “Here. Now.”   

“Here?” Jughead mumbles confused and groans a guttural groan when she grips the front of his jeans.   

“No one will see.” She kisses his baffled face, not believing the words coming from her lips. “Well, except the horses.” She giggles.   

“Who are you?” He asks her incredulously . Jughead reattaches his mouth to hers and feels her hands reach and find his button and zipper. She quickly has him in her grasps, and he groans against her lips.  A loud moan leaves him when he feels her tongue slip into his mouth, and suddenly the house seems too far away.   

“I need you.” She practically begs. There in an ache within her bones that she knew only he could soothe. She ’d needed him then. She needed him even more now.   

He kisses her back with matched fervor, his fingers fisting and twisting into her blonde hair. Their tongues entwine, passion and avidity emitting between them. She tastes amazing, like the familiar coconut chap stick he recognize d from all those years ago mixed with hints of his own mouth. Quickly his own hands are inside of her shorts, pulling them down and pulling her against him in a straddle on his hips.   

“Are we seriously about to fuck on a hay bale?” He mutters and notices her scoff laugh.   

“I hope so.”   

Suddenly his fingers are stroking over her as his lips catch the gasp that leaves her lips. He kisses the top of her chest, not bothering to take off her tank top . He grabs her thighs, lifting her.   

“Wrap your legs around me, baby.” Jughead mumbles, his voice drawn and grave. "This is gonna be fast." Betty does what he say s , also wrapping her arms around his neck. Jughead moves quickly, sharply, suddenly filling her  

“Ah!” Betty cries out. He gasps and she moans. He holds her ass, his fingers digging deliciously into her soft flesh. He begins to move. Slowly at first, and Betty begins to mumble his name and a couple curses echo around stable before they reach his ears. But she watches as his control unravels and he begins to rock into her... faster and faster. Betty tips her head back, suddenly feeling Jughead’s mouth on the skin of her throat- licking and sucking.  

She tries to savor in the pleasure and pressure- concentrating on the heavenly sensation invading her... pushing her, pulling him... So g ood!  

She feels herself begin to float upward... higher and higher - her nerve ending s straining and screaming at her. And when she can't take anymore, she shatters around him- spiraling into an intense, all-consuming e cstasy  

Jughead lets out a deep growl, burying himself within her, finding his own release in the sweaty skin of her throat. He groans loudly mumbling incoherently as he finds his own bliss . His breathing is erratic, but he eventually finds her lips, kissing her tenderly. He’s not moving, and still inside her. Betty blinks , finding him in her dazed eyes. As he comes into focus, he pulls out of her, holding her steady as he places her feet on the dirt floor  

“Holy shit, Betts.” He mumbles, pressing his forehead against hers.   

“Thanks cowboy.” She mutters cheekily, drawing her bottom lip into her teeth once more.   

 

They quickly find their clothes after Jughead cleans them with his discarded t-shirt. He makes sure to lock up the stables and walks with her- hand in hand- back to the house, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.   

 

Chapter Text

Four Years Ago,  

Jughead stood outside the door. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to knock or what he was even doing there. Archie had talked him into going and he suddenly wanted to strangle his best friend. He suddenly heard the creak come from the old wooden door as it began to open slowly.  

“You must be Jughead, Earl said he was expecting you.” A middle-aged woman stood before him. She had short black hair and dark skin and she wore a pair of maroon nurses' scrubs. “I’m Jackie, please come in.”  

Jughead gave her an uneasy smile but open the screen door and walked past the threshold. He followed Jackie into the kitchen and wiped his hands down to front of his jeans.  

“I’m just finishing his dinner, he’s just through there-” She nudged to the living room.  

Jughead gave her a thankful nod and continued his stride into the next room. He could feel his pulse beating hard against his neck and his hands were so sweaty. He wasn’t sure why he was so nervous; he didn’t need to be. And yet here he was, standing in Pop Cooper’s living room for God knows what reason... oh yeah, because Pop- after over five years, had suddenly wanted to see him.  

Other than the handful of times he’d seen the old man out in town, Jughead hadn’t kept up with Pop. The man always wanted to talk about Betty and for Jughead, that was the sorest subject he had in his repertoire.   

 

“Pop?” Jughead spoke as he came up on the old man sitting in an armchair facing away from him.  

“Jughead? Is that you?” Pop asked suddenly. “Please, please come in son.”  

“How you doing, Pop?” Jughead asked him once he was facing him. Jughead barely recognized the man sitting in front of him. He’d lost nearly all his hair. His skin was dry and pale and the sight of him just looked frail. Jughead watched as he attempted to slowly raise a shaky arm and point, his fingers not able to fully extend as they jerked.  

“I’ve been better,” Pop muttered with a half laugh. “Sit down now, boy.” Jughead sat on the edge of the ottoman that rested on the floor in front of Pop’s chair. He’d heard that Pop had gotten sick- Parkinson's if he could remember right. A nasty and debilitating disease it was.  

“My buddy Archie told me that you wanted to see me...”  

“Oh, yes. That Andrews company... You know son, ever since that boy took over his father’s business, he’s gotten a bit big headed- don't you think?” Pop asked Jughead. This made him laugh, nodding at the old man’s observation.  

“Yeah, Pop...” Jughead mumbled. “So, what’s going on Pop? 

“Can I get you anything, sir? Water? A beer?” Jackie suddenly popped her head in and spoke over them.  

“Uh, no I’m fine. Thank you though, Jackie.” The nurse nodded and returned to the kitchen. Jughead turned back to Pop, who seemed to take a shaky breath before he could continue talking.  

“Son, I called you hear because I need to ask you something...” 

“Sure, Pop- anything.” Jughead muttered, suddenly very interest in what the old man had to say. “What is it, Pop?”  

“Have... Have you spoken to my granddaughter recently?” Jughead watched as Pop struggled with his words. As if he knew this conversation would be difficult for them both.  

“Betty?” Jughead spoke in an almost whisper.  

It hurt him to say her name- physically burning his lips as the syllable left his throat. His mouth suddenly felt like sandpaper, scratchy and dry. He was so confused. Why was Pop asking him about Betty? Had something happened to her? Jughead quickly thought the worst.  

“Pop, what’s going on? Did something happen to Betty?” He spoke quickly.  

“No, son.” Pop shook his head. “She called me, she got that job in New York... the publishing one, you remember?”  

“That’s great, Pop.”  

“You need to go to her, Jughead...” Pop told him.  

“What? Pop, what are you talking about?” Jughead asked him, utterly confused by this man's revelation.  

“That boy she’s been seeing... um, Brad or something-”  

“Bret.” Jughead corrected him.  

“Yes. Well, he’s left her. So, you see- this is your chance.”  

“Pop,” Jughead began after a heavy sigh. “We’ve talked about this. I can’t just-”  

“Now that’s bullshit, boy!” Pop suddenly raised his voice. “You know just as much as I do that you still love her. I’ve known since the moment you two laid your eyes on each other that you would have a love story like me and my Faye.” Pop told him. “So, you dropped out of college because your deadbeat of a father died.” Pop spoke harshly.  

“Mr. Cooper!” Jackie spoke over him.  

“Don’t you understand, Pop? Everything I did... It wasn’t to hurt her... I- I thought it would help her.” Jughead tried to explain.  

“So, you made a mistake?” Pop muttered for him. “Fix it.”  

“I can’t.”  

“Why not?” Pop asked him incredulously. “The way I see it, nothing is holding you down here in Georgia, and you’re a smart man you can figure something out.”  

“It’s not that simple Pop.” Jughead seemed to surrender.  

“It is that simple.” Pop said. “You’re just searching for excuses, son.”  

“Is this why you called me here? To try and convince me to go to New York again?” Jughead questioned him. “Pop, you don’t understand. I don’t know what Betty has told you, but I assure you it’s not as simple as you’re making it sound. She hates my guts! I hurt her, I left her with no answers, and I don’t deserve to get her back... or ask for her forgiveness.”  

“You’re scared, son.” Pop told him. “But no, I didn’t call you here to try and get you to go to her...”  

“I don’t understand.” Jughead shook his head, his brow furrowed.  

“Jackie, dear.” Pop suddenly called out. The nurse suddenly popper her head back into the room and looked at him with her eyebrows raised in question. “Can you please fetch the chest from my wardrobe.”  

“Certainly, sir.” Jackie nodded, quickly shuffling her feet into the hallway and then to his bedroom.  

“What? She doesn’t get to call you Pop?” Jughead joked with him and a shaky grin pulled at Pop’s lips.  

“Doesn’t feel right,” Pop shrugged before continuing in a hushed whisper. “You know she has to help me wipe my ass? I can’t even wipe my own ass anymore, how pathetic is that?”  

Jughead can’t help the huffed chuckle that comes from his throat. He lifted his hand to pat Pop on the shoulder, shaking his head at the old man's confession.  

“Hear you go, sir.” Jackie returned and hands Pop a wooden box.  

“Thank you, dear.”  

Jughead looked at the box in Pop’s lap. It looks like an old jewelry box of sorts, he’s really not sure. Jackie left them again and Pop looked back up at Jughead.  

“Open it for me, would you...” Pop said after a moment.  

Jughead pressed up on his hands to readjust himself in the seat. His fingers opened the metal latch and he pushed up on the lid. 

“That box, there.” Pop nudged with his chin. Jughead pointed to a small velvet box and Pop nodded to him. Jughead took it in his hands and carefully opened it- a gorgeous rose gold band with a single teardrop diamond ring stared back at him. It was beautiful. The large gem in the center was surrounded by a border of smaller ones. The jewelry looked vintage and well worn, suddenly Jughead understood what he was holding in his hands.  

“Pop? Is this?” Jughead spoke, incredulously.  

“My Faye’s wedding ring.” Pop muttered with the utmost admiration of his late wife. Jughead watched as the man expression changed when he thought about her. “We’d only known each other for three months when I gave her that.” 

“Why am I holding it?” Jughead asked him suddenly.  

“Oh boy don’t be so dense,” Pop scolded. “I’m giving it to you.”  

“Oh no, it’s beautiful Pop. But I- I can’t...” Jughead muttered fast, closing the ring box and trying to give it back to Pop. “Why? Why are you giving this to me?”  

“Because who else am I going to give it to?” Pop asked him as if the answer was simple.  

“I don’t know, literally anyone but me.”  

“I want you to have it Jughead.” Pop told him simply.  

“Why?”  

“Because you are going to give that ring to my granddaughter one day...” Pop muttered. “I just know it.”  

“Pop-”  

“And if not,” Pop cut him off. “You can still have it to remember me by... It’s a beautiful ring, no sense in having it waste away in this here house long after I’m gone.”  

“I- I don’t know what to say.” Jughead shook his head. “I can’t take this Pop. It's not right.”  

“Who say’s? You are a great man Jughead Jones.” Pop paused. “So, you made a mistake, so what? Do you know how many times Faye threw me out of this house? I built this house!” Jughead laughed. “But I loved her, and she loved me. And we knew that our love could conquer anything- three sons, twelve grandchildren! Now talk about a challenge.” Pop trailed into a soft chuckle. “And then cancer... the one thing that finally managed to take her way from me.”  

“I’m sorry, Pop.” Jughead said, reaching a hand out to the old man. “I’m sorry you’re sick.”  

“Oh, no.” Pop muttered. “I’m lucky... because I know that when I get to where I’m going, I’ll get to see my Faye again, and that gives me peace.”  

Jughead feels the tears pull at his eyes, but he doesn’t surrender to them.  

“You’re sure you want me to have this, Pop?” Jughead asked.  

“Yes, son.” Pop gave him a shaky smile. “I’m sure.”  

 

Just three weeks later Pop finally got his wish. He left to go be with some angels and the love of his life once more.  

 

Present  

“Are you sure you’re okay with taking me to town? I mean, I can just call a cab Jug...” Betty tells him.  

“Are you kidding? I can take you to town Betts... I have some stuff that I need to get anyway.” He shrugs, pulling on his shoes.  

 

They’d spent the previous night cuddled on the couch watching old movies. But not before they had a food fight while making pizza in his kitchen. Betty’s great idea- that ended with the two of them with more flour on their skin and clothes than in the dough. It concluded with them together once more in his shower, struggling not to give in to the others urges.  

Jughead had then taken her sleeping body to his bed. She’d fallen asleep against him during their third movie and he couldn’t bear to wake her. But just as he laid her against his pillow, he was a goner. Betty had pulled him over her, kissing him for as long as she could before he worshiped her body three times over with his own. They savored in what they both hadn’t had in so long and what they both knew they wouldn’t get again for a very long time.  

If Jughead thought he’d been able to ever get over her before, he’d definitely never be able to now. He didn’t want to leave. He wanted Betty Cooper to be stretched against his skin, warm and soft, every morning when he woke. He told himself he could never see her again and yet here they were, neither of them willing to speak of the inevitable and neither of them wanting talk about what the last two days had meant.  

 

Betty cuddled in next to him in the truck. Jughead interlocked their hands and turned his head so he could press his lips to her hair. His anxiety was wrestling within him. He wasn’t sure what would happen when they got back to town. Should he ask for her number? Jesus, he felt like a teenager again. Betty was sad, that he knew. Her mood had changed and been off all morning. They decided that they would get lunch before he took her back to the Inn.  

“Do you wanna go to the diner?” Jughead asks her cautiously.  

“Jug,” Betty lifts her head to look at him, her eyes singling in on his- understanding what he meant. 

“We don’t have to, I just- I just thought...”  

“No, let’s go.” Betty nodded, smiling softly at him.  

 

He drove them through town. The diner was still on the far side of town, through another patch of far country road and closer to Holling. It was where they had shared their first date and the nostalgia of it all had Betty reeling.  

There is no one in the diner when they arrive. Just one waitress and the visible line cook. Jughead opens the door for her and Betty has to wait for her eyes to adjust from the sun as she walks through.  

“Hey there, kids.” The waitress calls out to them. She’s an older woman with red hair that’s pulled into a messy bun. Betty looks around and notices that the diner hasn’t changed a bit in the ten years since she’d been there. It still had old red vinyl booths and bright neon signs, although she was sure they were covered in a layer of dust. She suddenly felt Jughead’s hand at the small of her back and it brought her back to earth. “Sit wherever you’d like.”  

“Thanks, Barb.” Jughead smiles. He leads the to a far booth in a window, each of them sliding into one of the sides.  

“You come here a lot?” Betty asks him with a small laugh. Jughead puts his hands up in surrender and smiles at her.  

“They’ve got the best burgers in town.” He tells her.  

“Now I don’t believe my eyes- Betty Cooper?” Barb suddenly voices over them.  

“Hi, Barb.”  Betty smiles at her. She hadn’t seen the older woman in years, they didn’t know each other very well and Betty wasn’t even sure how she had remembered her. 

“Back for a visit, I see.”  

“Yes, Ma’am.” Betty nods, glancing at Jughead before looking back at Barb.  

“Alright well, Coke for Jughead,” Barb says, sitting a plastic cup down in front of him. “And for the lady?”  

“I’ll take one as well, thank you.”  

“And two burgers?” Jughead twists his voice into that of a question, his eyebrow raised at Betty.  

“Sounds great.” Betty nods.  

“Great, I’ll get em’ started.”  

“Thanks Barb.” Jughead mutters.  

Barb’s wink at Jughead as she walks away doesn’t go unnoticed. Betty finally realizes that Jughead is right. In this town, everyone knows everyone. She just hoped that them being together at the diner wouldn’t be the talk of the town. Barb brought her a soda, Betty’s knee nudging Jughead’s absentmindedly under the table. Their energy had shifted, and it was slowly suffocating her. She could feel the tense grip around her throat growing stronger by the second. There was something about actually being in town that made what they were doing even more real and confusing. She couldn’t hide away with him in the confines of the farm where it was just the two of them and no one had to know about her entertaining her desires. She had her gaze locked on the lightly strobing jukebox in the corner behind their booth. All she really wanted in the moment was to be back at the farm with him- away from everyone else. She didn’t want to go back to New York, in fact she wished New York didn’t exist at all. Betty just wanted everything to be... simpler.  

“You okay, Betts?” Jughead mutters, his knee knocking gently against hers, breaking her from her stupor.  

“Do you have a quarter?” She quirks her eyebrow, jutting her chin out slightly when she meets his eyes.  

“Uh... y-yeah,” Jughead takes a second to process her sudden and odd request before he digs into the left front pocket of his jeans. He digs around for a moment but produces a quarter for her.  

Betty takes it from him and climbs from her seat in the booth. She has to pull her dress from the static on the back of her legs. She’d barrowed it from the pile of Jellybean’s clothes. It is black gingham printed cotton and cuts off at her midthigh. The spaghetti straps tied into bows at the tops of her tan shoulders. It was straight cut, so it didn’t billow outward around her- she wasn’t that southern.  

She stands in front of the jukebox, feeding it the quarter before her fingers land on the keypad. Jughead stands from the booth and comes up behind her. His left-hand rests against her hip as she looks through the song selection.  

“What are you doing?” Jughead mumbles before he presses his lips against the top of her shoulder, kissing her there.  

“I wanna play a song.” Betty tells him. Her skin feels warm with him against her. She shivers, but it isn't because the air in the diner holds a chill. Jughead moves his lips up her shoulder, nuzzling her neck with a hum. He presses his lips against the sweet spot behind her ear before making his way back down to her shoulder. He bites his teeth playfully into her skin and Betty giggles making her song selection. A steady melody begins to surround them from the speakers around the diner. 

 “Dance with me.” Jughead coaxes her.  

“What?” Betty mutters incredulously as she turns around to face him.  

“Dance with me...” Jughead reaches down to grab her hands, threading their fingers together. He pulls her a few feet away from the jukebox and she gives him uneasy eyes.  

“You don’t dance.”  

“Says who?” Jughead asks her, a slight humor in his voice. He holds her hands as their feet begin to move. It’s no waltz, just a typical middle school stand and sway. Betty leans in, placing her cheek against his chest. Her eyes close as her breathing calms and she loses herself in him and the music.  

“I- I wish I didn’t have to go back to New York...”  

“I wish you didn’t have to go back to New York.”  

“What are we doing?” Betty asks him, her breath strangling itself in her throat.  

“I don’t know, Betts...” Jughead says truthfully. “I don’t know.” He kisses her crown.  

 

Betty’s POV  

“That was great, thank you Jug.” I mutter as he opens my door to the truck. It had seemed like we’d eaten our food very slowly, simply not wanting to leave each other's company. It was about a fifteen-minute drive back to the Inn so when he climbs back into the driver's seat, I snuggle into his side, inhaling his scent into my nose. I wrap my hands around his forearm. He has it resting in his lap with his left hand on the wheel as he pulls out of the parking lot. I feel him turn his face to kiss the top of my head. I love how he’s always doing that.  

We drive for a minute or two in silence. The radio is playing some kind of old rock tune, I’m not really paying attention to anything but him- savoring in every last moment I might get with him. Suddenly his right-hand moves, gripping the skin just below my left knee. He strokes it upward, his fingers grazing over my kneecap and thigh. My legs are slightly parted, and I glance from his face to his hand and then back again, his eyes not moving from the road. I watch as a smirk pulls at the corner of his mouth and I feel his hand move higher, his fingers stroking at the skin of my inner thigh.  

“Jug...” I barely manage the stutter that leaves my lips. Its barely heard by my own ears as it bounces off the windshield. I have to stifle my gasp of surprise when his fingers touch me there. Oh God.  

I close my eyes as his fingers begin to explore. Surely this isn't safe to do while he’s driving, but then again, the pleasure is all mine as he simply just has to feel all while keeping his eyes on the road. Soon he hooks himself under the right seam of my panties, his fingers dipping inside gently. Jesus, here? Now?  

I focus on every little move he makes with his fingers. Circling, moving forward, moving down, pausing and then make a full swipe down my center. I gasp, my voice coming out in a quiver. I use my hands to grip the hem of his t-shirt, grounding myself, my forehead pressed into his bicep. He slips a finger inside me. I squirm and gasp once more against him. I’m hot. Flushed and wanting. His finger slides in and out of me, again and again. I know that I’m panting, my breathing echoing in my own ears. I sag into him, tightening my grip on his shirt. Subtly I find the strength to grind against his hand.  

“Ah!” Suddenly I feel him ease a second finger into me and a loud groan leaves my throat.  

“Don’t come.” My eyes flutter closed again just as the sound of a clicking turn signal enters my ears. Next thing I know he’s turning, the truck coming to a slow halt against a bed of gravel. I look around. We’re surrounded by tall trees and off some old service road if I had to guess. His fingers are still moving inside me when I just as quickly click our seat belts out of their buckles and I’m straddling him. I’m breathless and I can feel the steering wheel digging into my back. I attach my mouth to his, catching his groan of surprise on my lips. I feel his hands go to my hips, gripping hard against my skin. He grants me access, my tongue brushing against his bottom lip. He tastes like cola and my coconut chap stick- this makes me groan.  

I can feel him hard between us, my dress having ridden up and now sitting against my hips. I fist my hands into his hair, twisting my fingers at the ends. I apply the smallest amount of pull at his roots and gain myself a hungry moan from his throat. I move his mouth to my neck. His lips immediately go to the soft spot behind my ear and I shudder around him, my chest writhing. I move my hands and push them under the hem of his t-shirt, my nails yearning to touch his warm skin. Suddenly I feel his hands on my chest, all of his fingers palming both my breasts. I feel his thumbs skim over my nipples, finding them straining and braless. And then his mouth is back on mine, gulping down my groans and choppy sighs. My small fingers reach down for the button on his jeans, taking extra attention to stroke over him.  

“Shit.” He hisses. “Betts...”  

“Please, Jug.” I all but beg.  

“Baby...” An involuntary bucking takes over my hips, wanting him- needing him. “F-fuck.” He feathers.  

“You started this...” I begin to mutter, my tone strangled and dripping with need- I almost don’t recognize it. “You’re damn well going to finish it.”  

“Jesus.” He grumbles. Suddenly both of his hands come up to grip my neck. He tips my chin with his thumbs and dives into my throat.  

My fingers fidget and fiddle with the button and zipper of his jeans. I pull him out, stroking him down in two hard strokes. I catch his surprised gasp with my mouth, his hands squeezing both of my breasts in an agonizing grip. I register that we literally both have all our clothes on, who knew it could get this hot and we aren't even slightly naked.  

“Take me Betty...” he coaxes. His hands are suddenly on my hips, lifting my over him. “Let me in, baby.” I can't help but groan at his voice in my ears. I reach down, moving my panties to the side before I slid down onto him. “Fuck,” he curses, my unconscious bucking abruptly moves through his body, causing me to bounce and groan in stereo.  

I press my knees into the seat on either side of him, my straddle getting deliciously wide. I never realized how tiny I am until I’m pressed against him. All of the sudden Jughead lurches forward, bruising my lips in hard kiss. It sends agonizing bursts of bliss through my groin, my insides burning. I need to move.   

I grip the door armrest with my right hand and Jughead’s shoulder with my left. I begin to move, finding my own selfish rhythm. I am taking everything that I want, and I’m not about to apologize for it.   

“Holy shit.” I suddenly gasp, my eyes fluttering closed. I can feel him pushing me harder into the steering column. He’s matching me, his hips grinding against mine.  

“That’s it, baby...” he hisses.  

“Touch me...” I plead. “Please.” My voice pitches and he notices, one of his arms wrapping around my hips to hold me against him. I can feel my release simmering through my veins and a sudden cry escapes me, surprising even me. I swear I’m not usually loud, but Jughead just does something to me. “I’m close.” I tell him.  

“I know, baby... it’s okay.” I wonder if he can feel the quivering that starting in my legs. And then I realize that I can’t see him. I open my eyes and I find him watching me, the swirl of his baby blue irises causes my gut to clench. “You’re so beautiful.”  

“Fuck, Jug.” I lean forward, pressing my forehead into the top of his shoulder.  I feel him slink a hand between us, pressing his fingers against me. I quake, the fingers of my left-hand threading into his hair once more. I use my hand to turn his head, pressing his forehead into my cheek as I feel myself quicken. He’s like putty in my grasp, allowing me to take whatever I need.  

“Come down, Betts-” Jughead starts, his mouth is so close to the shell of my ear. 

“No!” I stop him, my voice twinging into a small cry. “Not without you...” 

“Baby...” His voice is so quiet, so soft and so sweet. “Let go.”  

And like a lever, I snap. I feel my blood scorching through my veins as I call out his name. I feel him pick up his own rhythm and I revel in it. Suddenly a loud groan leaves his throat but I’m still up on cloud nine.  

 

My legs are still wrapped around me and he’s still inside me. I’m not sure how long we sit there, willing my breath to come down. I can’t seem to believe what has just happened and yet I feel oh so good.   

"That was..." I stutter after some time. 

"Holy shit." 

“Stay with me...” I echo his words from yesterday before I know better.  

“What?” He mutters, his voice plump with confusion. “Betty I-”  

“I know, okay... I know that I have to leave. But I- I just...” My voice begins to trail as I realize that I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say. “I need you, Jug.”  

“Betts...” Jughead pushes the hair back from my face, bring my eyes to meet his. “We have a lot to talk about Betts...”  

I simply nod into his grasp on my cheeks. I know that he’s right, so I don’t argue. Whatever this is, is so confusing and it’s throwing my head for a loop.  

“Why don’t we go to the Inn... and talk?” He asks me. I’m glad he’s got his head on and is thinking rationally for the both of us. All I can do is nod again, so I lean in to kiss his lips sweetly.  

 

We don’t speak for the rest of the drive back to the Inn. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to react. I know that we need to talk but a big part of me doesn’t want to. We need to establish what was happening and what was going to happen after I left. Was it stupid to think that we could work? Was I stupid to even think like that?  

By the time I break from my stupor he’s pulled the truck outside of the Inn, climbing from the driver seat to open my door. He helps me from the truck, but I don’t give him my hand. The air around us is full of tension and thick as I breathe it into my lungs.  

“Can I- Do you want me to come in?” He suddenly asks me. I turn my head to catch his eyes. I know that mine are wide and glassy. I nod to him after a moment and then continue my stride to the front door.  

 

“Well if I-” Mabel begins to speak as I turn my head to the sound of her voice. She’s sitting in one of the chairs in the lobby. “I feel like I’m watching a movie...” I can’t help the blush that begin to rise in my cheeks and suddenly I feel Jughead’s hand at the small of my back. My anxiety begins to ripple through me and then I feel Jughead’s hand move from my back to my hand, lacing our fingers together to separate my nails from my palm. I hadn’t even realized... I look up at him and he only gives me a gentle smile, squeezing my hand with his. “Walden, dear.” Mabel calls out.  

“Hi, Miss Mabel...” Jughead smiles at her, pulling me further into the lobby.  

“Jughead Jones, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Jughead leans in to kiss Mabel on the cheek. “It seems you found him, dear...” She raises her eyebrows at me.  

“It appears I did.” I say meekly, peering at Jughead again. Little did I know that everyone in the town knew about his presence, but me. Suddenly Walden appears behind the front counter.  

“I believe that means I win dear,” he says nonchalantly to his wife.  

“Oh shush, honey!” Mabel scolds him, her head wiping around with a furrowed brow. I can feel Jughead tense beside me as he lets out a nervous laugh.  

“Alright, alright... We’ll let you crazy kids get back to work.” Jughead mutters. He pulls me forward toward the stairs. I hear Mabel begin to fight through whispers with her husband and I can't help but muffle a chuckle. Jughead’s cheeks are beet red and it takes me a second to tell him which room is mine.  

“Well that was mortifying.” I mumble as he shuts the door to my room. I sit on the bed in a huff, running a hand over my forehead. He takes a second but eventually sits beside me on the duvet, both of us not saying a word or making a move towards each other.  

“Do I-” He exhales sharply after a moment. “Should I apologize? I’m not really sure how this works.”  

“Why did everyone in this town know that you were here, but me?” I ask him, I’m not sure why but my tone comes out defensive and I instantly regret it. “I mean, is this just me overreacting? Am I spiraling?”  

“I’m sorry.” He mutters.  

“Jug...”  

“I’m sorry.” He nods. “I am sorry.” I quiet him by placing my lips on his. I’m suddenly in his lap, kissing him and comforting him... comforting me.  

“Stop apologizing...” I wrap my arms around his neck, hugging him. I hug him so tight that I think I might suffocate him and yet I don’t want to let go. I want to cling to him. I haven't felt so calm and so free in so long- and it’s him, only Jughead can make me feel this way. He knows when to calm me, when to talk me down, when to love me ... so why? Everything is so complicated.  

For years I had to tell myself every day to stop thinking about him. He had left me, told me didn’t want me. Yet now he’s telling me that he did it for me... I used to call him selfish for abandoning me. Had I really been wrong to do that?  

He uses both of his hands to rub up and down my back, soothing me once more. He knows that I’m circling the drain and I love the way his face feels pressed against my throat. I bet that he feels guilty. He feels guilty and yet he’s comforting me... this man.  

 

Suddenly I’m crying. I’m so overwhelmed by everything- his voice, his hands, his presence. Sobs escape me out of nowhere, my throat clamping down.  

“Betts...” I hear the strain and confusion in his voice, but he doesn’t let go. 

 “What- what do I have to say to make you stay?” I gasp, leaning back frantically I take his face in my hands.  

“Wh-What?” He feathers.  

“I know that I have to go back to New York- and every single rational cell in my body is telling me to leave, to go- to forget that these last two days never happened... but I can’t,” my voice cracks. “Because they did.”  

“Betts-”  

“I want- I don’t know what I want.” My voice cuts him off as my eyes clench closed. “I’m afraid to get hurt again, because I did get hurt- you hurt me Jughead and I still don’t know if I’ve fully forgiven you.” Another heavy sob catches in my throat and I let it out because I can’t contain it. I know that he’s trying his best to comfort me, but I need this- he needs to know. “But I know that these last two days have felt way too damn good for me to just pretend that they never happened.”  

He leans in and presses his forehead against mine as I will my body to calm down.  

“We’ll figure it out Betts... Okay? We’ll figure something out.”  

“You- you have to promise me that you won’t lie again, okay? You can’t do that to me...” I stutter, my voice quivering as bad as my body.  

“Fuck, Betty,” I hear him curse as he grabs me and smashes me against him. It’s as if I’ve struck a chord within him, his strong arms holding me so tight. “I won’t baby, I promise I won’t.”  

“Stay...” I whisper. “Please just stay... I know that it won’t change anything- I know that I’m still leaving tomorrow, you’ll be here, and I’ll be in New York but just stay with me tonight.”  

“This isn’t a good idea...” He tells me.  

“I know.” I cry. “I know but I don’t care.” I shake my head.  

“You’re going to get hurt...” His voice is strained with unwanted warning, I can tell, I’m listening, but I can’t look at him. “I- I’m going to get hurt.”  

I lean back and hold his face in my hands. I don’t care that it seems like the entire world is against us, but I don’t know if I can be without him.  

I don’t want him to speak so I just kiss him. I kiss his lips, his cheeks, his eyes- holding his face in my grasp as I plant frantic kisses all over it. I just want to be selfish- just this once. Suddenly my tears are back, and my skin feels warm. The sun is setting and is illuminating us perfectly through my window. I can feel his thumbs stroke up and down my sides over my dress. His skin is golden beneath my touch, our bodies so beautiful together.  

“Betts...” He whispers through my soft cries. I can’t contain it. I’m not sure why but I know it’s a hurt only he can fix. I need him to patch up all of the holes that I’ve punched into myself over the last ten years.  

“Shhh...” I quiet him. I don’t want to hear his voice, it hurts- and yet I can’t push him away.  

Jughead suddenly stands, holding me against his hips. He turns and suddenly I’m lying on the mattress with him hovering over me. He kisses me and I savor his taste. His hips are pining me, and my hands find the hem of his shirt. I pull it up and over his head, my fingernails skimming over his rigid abdomen. He sucks at the skin of my throat before peppering kisses down to my chest. His fingers find the zipper at my side and pull it down. It offers me enough slack that I’m able to pull it over my head.  

Suddenly his soft hands cradle my head. He presses his lips to my left cheek after a moment. My eyes scrunch and I’m crying again. Jesus, I’ve been such an emotional bitch on this trip. He’s shushing me and then his mouth meets mine. I can taste my salty tears on his tongue. His fingers on splayed on my ribs, caressing me sweetly.  

“Give me control...” He suddenly coaxes over me. I open my eyes to look at him. The sun has made the gold flecks in his even more dominant and I feel my stomach clench at the sight. I feel like he’s speaking to the most intimate parts of me. He’d broken me from my permanent state of verbatim in just two days. Everything is so heavy-  I feel so heavy. And I’m exhausted. “Give me another chance.”  

He presses his forehead against mine and I gulp a gasp of air into my lungs. I can't process anything that he's saying. Give him another chance? I want to- God I want to... but I’m scared.   

“Can... Can you-”  

“What, Betts?” He mutters sweetly over me.  

“H-hold me, Juggie...” I whisper, my voice quivering. “Please- just hold me.”  

“Okay...” He tells me, his voice quiet and soothing. "Okay, baby.” His arms wrap around me, squeezing me, clutching me.  

 

Jughead isn’t sure when she falls asleep, but eventually he can feel the hums from her chest slow. She’s curled into his chest, her hands balled under her chin. He watches the sun for a while and the room eventually chills from the lack of sun. Once he’s sure that she’s out, he climbs from the sheets so he can take off his jeans. He closes the curtains before he lays back down again. He pulls her back into his arms and pulls the duvet over them. He knows that whatever was happening between them still hung heavy in the air. He hadn’t gotten any answers from her and frankly, it was all up to her. There was nothing he could do or say to keep her in Georgia with him and he couldn’t say that she even wanted to.  

Sure, she’d asked him to stay, but just for the night. And he knew that he couldn’t blame her if she wanted to be selfish and use him. She was breathing so sweetly in his arms and he still couldn’t believe that he was holding her. He fell asleep to the feeling of her exhales on the skin of his chest. He hadn’t slept so well in his entire life and he knew it was her.  

 

Jughead wasn’t sure what he expected wake up to, but he definitely hadn’t expected to wake up alone. The sheet beside him was cold and the room was dark, except for the smallest peek of sunrise from the slit in the drawn curtains. He suddenly feared that she’d missed her flight. Anxiety slowly crept into his bones, fear racking within him. 

“Betts?” He whispered, his voice was hoarse and stuck in his throat. He looked around the room but didn't find a single trace of her- and it hit him.

He wonders if this how she must’ve felt... all those years ago when he never showed up at the airport.  

Because now, he was alone, and she was gone... 

Chapter Text

Betty’s POV  

I’m not sure when I fall asleep. But when I wake again the room is pitch dark. Jughead is sound asleep beside me. Our legs are tangled, and he has a heavy hand thrown over my stomach. I can hear his soft sighs in my ear, and I know it must be really early in the morning. I feel very uneasy and suddenly I realize how stupid I’ve been. I feel nauseous and I have to clench my eyes closed so I can take a deep breath, my lips pursed. I glance back at him and run my fingertips over his cheek. He doesn’t even stir, and I know he’s out cold. I’m able to turn my head enough to grab my phone from the bedside table. It’s nearly five in the morning, I’ll need to leave for my flight soon.  

There’s a couple of missed calls and a text from my mother, my stomach churns but I open it anyway. I feel my throat go dry, it’s like I’m swallowing sandpaper. I’m able to sit up, taking his arm carefully from my belly. I hear him grumble, but he doesn’t open his eyes.  

Mom: Susan called. You’re seeing Jughead? Elizabeth, how foolish can you be!? 

 

I have to go. I have to leave. My guilt is crippling me, and I was stupid to think that we could make anything work. I need to use this to get over him. For good. I can’t spend time wondering what if anymore. I need to move on. I have a great life in New York- a great job, good friends. Jughead will be here, in Georgia, and I’ll be in New York- and that has to be okay.  

I climb from the sheets and quickly use the bathroom. I use my phone to order a cab and very quietly gather up the rest of my stuff. I hadn’t unpacked most of it so gathering it all didn’t take long.  

I take one last look at him sleeping soundly in the bed. The sheets are laying at his hips, his torso on full display. He’s beautiful, he’s the only man I’ve ever fallen in love with, and he’s beautiful. I can’t bear to look at him anymore, it hurts too much.  

How had he done this to me? How could he do this? I’m not even gone, and I feel like I’m falling apart. I don’t understand.  

 

Three Days Later  

I’ve survived three days post Georgia. My first day back at work had been easier than I thought it’d be. It was a welcome distraction to the stormy ocean crashing around inside my body.  

“I’ll be off Betty, if that’s okay?” Ally is suddenly peeking her head into my office. I manage to curl my lips into a small smile, looking up at her.  

“Of course.” I sigh. “Thanks Ally, see you tomorrow.”  

“Um actually, Betty it’s Friday...” Ally quirks with a small laugh. I glance back to her, my eyes confused. Each day feels like it’s blended into the next one. I’ve lost track of which day of the week it is.  

“Right... Right.” I nod. “I uh, I’ll see you on Monday.”  

“Greer and I were just going to head across the street for a drink, Humphrey’s? You can join us if you want...” Ally shrugs. I see Greer smile at me behind her and I somehow manage another smile back.  

“Uh thanks Ally, but I think I’m just going to turn in...” I start to clean up my desk. I stand and stack some folders as I speak. “Still getting over some jetlag.” I joke.  

“Oh okay, have a good weekend Betty.”  

“You too, Ally. Goodnight.”  

The office is empty, I’m sure it’s dark out by now but I’ve kept my blinds shut all day. Collecting my bag, I shrug on my coat. The New York air has grown a chill and it makes me think back to just a few days ago when I wore strappy sundresses and sandals- now in jeans, a sweater, and a petty coat. I head for the door; I take a deep breath of the thick city air into my lungs. It doesn’t even begin to fill the emptiness that I feel in my chest. I feel hallow. It's been that way since Tuesday morning, a painful reminder of what I lost.  

I find my car, but I have to watch the street before I am able to shut my door. An old pickup truck speeds past me and I catch myself with a blank stare in my eyes. No. Don’t think about him. I can’t think about him. I don’t want to start crying again- not out on the street.  

My apartment is empty. Painstakingly empty. I miss Cheryl. She keeps calling, both my cell and at my office but I haven’t answered her. I know that I need to, but I know that she’s going to ask me about Georgia, but I just can’t talk about it- I can’t talk about him.  

I turn on my television so that there’s noise to fill the quiet void that surrounds me. But I can’t listen or watch. I just sit on my couch, my legs crossed into my lap, staring blankly at the far wall of my apartment. I am numb. I feel nothing but the pain that I caused myself. How long do I have to endure this? How did he endure this?  

Him leaving me was easier. I had had someone to blame then. I could blame him. But now... Now it was own fault, I had no one to blame but myself.  

 

A pattern has developed. Wake, work, cry, sleep. Well try to sleep. I can’t escape him even in my dreams, which by now have only turned to nightmares. His eyes, his hair, his arms, his voice. The way he held me, the way he looked at me- it's all I see when I close my eyes. I haven’t spoken to anyone, not even my mo ther. I’ve become my own skeleton state. I don’t have the capacity for torpid conversation right now. What have I done?  

I know that I must look terrible. I’m sure my hair is flat, my eyes sunken in, my cheeks extra rosy and patchy. I see it when Ally and Greer look at me. They haven’t said anything, but I know.  

 

I can barely find it in me to eat. By Thursday at lunch I had managed to eat a cup of mixed fruit. It was the first time I’d eaten anything since Monday. I wonder why I don’t even feel hunger. My stomach doesn’t grumble or growl, my fridge is empty. I have yet to go to the market since I’ve been back, so the only thing that takes residence is a couple of half empty dressing bottles and a jar of grape jelly. I’ve found a newfound tolerance for black coffee and iced tea. I’m surviving strictly on caffeine, but it’s makes me anxious. So, I wear sweaters that are two sizes too big. The sleeves are extra-long so I’m able to use my nails to pull the cotton over my palms so I’m not able to dig them into my flesh.  

 

My door buzzer startles me, and I jump. My heart skips a beat. Who could that possibly be? I press the intercom.  

“H-hello?” I manage to squeak out. I hate how strangled my voice sounds in my ears. My throat is scratchy, so I clear it and ask again. "Hello?”   

“Holy shit. You’re alive.” A sarcastic disembodied voice comes over the com. Disappointment, that I didn’t even know I had, crashes through me. I hate it.   

But I recognize the voice instantly. I know that I have no choice but to buzz her up, so I do. I unlock my door and go back to the couch, curling into my still warm blanket. I calculate the time in my head that it takes for her to ride the elevator up to my floor, walk down my hall, and twist open my door handle.  

“Betty?” Her voice comes out as a whisper when she opens my door. We’ve always had an open-door policy, ever since college. She takes one look at me and rushes over to the couch, her arms going around me. I think she has a grocery bag, but she sets it on floor. Her red hair droops into my line of vision. I’ve always been jealous of her hair. “What’s wrong? What happened?”  

“Oh, Cher...” I shake my head her. Her hand reaches up to stroke my face. It stings when fingertips stroke against my skin and I wince.  

“You’ve been crying.” She says softly. “You don’t cry.”  

She pulls me upward and we sit.  

“You look like shit, B.”  

Despite my poignant misery. I laugh. She pulls my forehead in and kisses it. I have the sudden overwhelming urge to cry. A crippling desolation takes over me, gripping my heart. I sink into myself on the cushions.  

“Oh, B...” Cheryl murmurs. Her arms wrap harder around me, squeezing me. I clutch onto her arms. “Oh, babe... I brought wine.”  

I manage a scoffed laugh and look at her, my eyes glazy.  

“That sounds so great right now.” I mutter. Cheryl laughs softly. She reaches down and I hear the ruffle and crinkle of the plastic bag. She pulls out a bottle of white wine, it’s our favorite. I manage a half smile and she turns the twistable cap.  

“Glass?” She raises an eyebrow at me. I look back at her with a scrunched forehead, my brow furrowed. I reach out and grab the bottle from her grasp by the neck. I swallow a couple hard gulps, but I know that I need to be careful since I virtually have nothing in my stomach. I give her back the bottle at the neck after a moment. I swipe the back of my hand over my mouth. “Better?”  

I nod and close my eyes so I can sigh heavily, my lips pursed. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I feel some of the edge fall off.  

 

“What’s wrong? Did something happen at work?” Cheryl asks me after taking a sip of her own. A shaky laugh leaves my lips once I process her voice.  

“No, no... nothing like that.” I rush. She hands me the bottle again and I hold it by the neck, taking a small sip.  

“What’s going on, B?”  

I’m not sure how I can tell her about Georgia, or the farm, or him . I can’t say his name out loud, but Cheryl is smart. She’ll figure me out, she always does.  

 

I take another gulp of wine. I’ll need it for this. I throw the blanket off my lap and lift the bottle by its neck into the air before I hand it back to her. I stand from the sofa; Cheryl just looks at me confused. I walk over to my bed. I crouch down to my knees and reach underneath my bed frame, pushing a strand of hair behind my ear. I pull out my keepsake box. I haven't touched it since before I left for Georgia, I didn’t want to see it.  

I walk back over to the couch and sit down. Cheryl puts the bottle of wine on my end table after she takes one last drink. The box is in my lap and I let Cheryl take the lid off.  

“B? What is all of this stuff?” She asks me. Her hands take out a few of the letters. She knows about Georgia and Jughead, but I’d only ever talked poorly about him. She knew him as the asshole that broke my heart.  

“I...” I try to speak. “Ooh,” I take a calming breath. “I saw him.”  

“Who?” Cheryl glances up at me, I can see the confusion in her eyes. She unfolds one of the letters, she doesn’t read it, but I follow her eyes to the signature at the bottom. She registers the name and the letter drops into her lap with her hands, audible in the air as her arms and her fingers meet the skin of her pale thighs. “Holy shit, Betty.”  

“I know.” I gasp, trying to steady my breath so that I don’t cry again. “I know.”  

“I don’t understand... How?”  

“He bought my grandad’s farm.” I tell her, my voice so quiet and meek.  

“Jughead?” I can’t help the subtle wince that shudders through me when she says his name. “What?” Her voice is breathy and barely audible.  

I can only nod, afraid of what my voice will sound like if I open my mouth.  

“Okay well, what do you mean – you saw him ?” 

“I uh,” I sniffle. “I went to the farm when I was in Georgia, I didn’t know that he- that he would be there... I had no idea.”  

“Shit.”  

“It uh, it started to storm so we went to the house...” I have to pause a couple of times. I feel so stupid for getting so worked up. “The power went out.”  

 

I continued to tell her everything. How he’d gotten knocked out in the stables. How I’d found him and helped nurse him back to health. I told her how he had kept his letters in a box just like mine and how I had found it by accident.  

“You slept with him, didn’t you?” By the guilt in my eyes and the way I take a moment to nod she knows that I did- and more than once.  

“Yeah Cher, I did...”  

“Jesus. Betty...” She scolds. “When I said that you needed to get laid- I didn’t mean by the man that broke your heart!” My face scrunches into a wince and I feel the tears in my eyes.  

She’s right. She’s so right that it hurts.  

“This is messy, sis.” She pulls me into her grasp, pushing the box in my lap to the floor.  

“I left him Cher.” I rush. “He was asleep, and I just left.”  

“B...”  

“How did he do it?” I ask her incredulously. “He left me, he hurt me. And for years I couldn’t move on because of him. So how? How could he do that to me? I feel like I’m falling apart...” I am sobbing by the end of my rant. I’m so angry. Angry with him, with myself.  

“Oh honey...” Cheryl soothes over me. “It’ll be okay.”  

 

Her arms are around me, holding me, calming and consoling me. I let her hold me until I’m able to calm myself down. I’m sure that I look pathetic, I certainly feel it. I just wish that I could turn it all off. Because even as I sit in the arms of my best friend, sobbing into my couch... I wish that it was Jughead’s arms that were wrapped around me.  

 

I’m not sure how long we sit there. Cheryl holds me for quite some time. I feel her hands rubbing up and down my back. There’s some old Marvel movie playing on the television, I’m not watching it, but I can hear it muffled in my ears. I’m exhausted. I want nothing more than a couple good hours of uninterrupted sleep. But whenever I close my eyes, I only see his face, so I’ve begun evading sleep all together. 

Eventually Cheryl is able to coax me into a shower. The water is so hot that I know my skin is beat red, but I feel numb. I breathe the thick steam into my lungs. I blink away the beaded water in my eyelashes. I have enough energy left to wash my hair. I use the shampooing massage of my fingers as a distraction from my never-ending cogwheel of emotions. I wash my face and put on my robe and some panties. Cheryl picks up my apartment while I shower, I’m so thankful for her. I hadn’t realized how much I missed her.  

She forces me to eat something. We settle on pizza and it’s there when I’m done in the bathroom. It really hits her when the sunken in features of my face and my baggy clothes are illuminated by the lights of my kitchen.  

Once she’s satisfied that I’ve choked down two slices, minus the crust, she surrenders. We watch a movie, staying away from any romcom’s or dramas. I let her choose and she decides on Girls Trip. It’s one of our favorites but I know she’s just looking for any reason not to leave me alone.  

 

“You should go home...” I mutter. The credits have rolled and she’s cleaning up my end table. “I’ll be okay, Cher.”  

“Betty-”  

“I promise, okay?” I manage a soft smile. “I’m really tired and I just want to go to bed.”  

“You sure you’re gonna be okay?” She asks me.  

“Yes.” I nod and stand to mirror her. “I promise... And I’ll call you in the morning, okay?”  

“You better.” She points her well-manicured finger at me.  

“I will.”  

“And if you need anything, just text me.”  

“Okay.” I nod and manage a shaky half smile at her.  

 

She gathers her things. I know that she’s worried about me, but I really just want to be alone. After she’s gone, I turn up the thermostat. My apartment suddenly feels cold with just me in it. I still haven’t unpacked from Georgia, my suitcase staring at from the floor next to my bed. I need sleep, but I don’t want my dreams to swallow me. So I use what strength I have left to lift the bag onto my bed.  

I should burn it. That’s the first thing that goes through my head. Why had I taken it? It’s torture to know that it’s the only thing that can soothe me, and I feel guilty, but the thought of actual rest sounds so wonderful... so I give in.  

I reach out and pull the cotton into a ball in my hand. I take a shaky breath before I lift it to my face, cradling it with both my hands. It smells like him and I inhale deeply. I’m not sure how, but I manage not to cry. I uncinch my robe, letting the pink plush fall to my feet. I slip it over my head and hug myself. The hem brushes against my thighs, his scent enveloping my skin. It the most welcoming feeling I’ve felt since I left Georgia.  

I move my suitcase to the floor once more. I feel like I can’t keep my eyes open. Everything feels heavy. I collapse onto my cold sheets, not even bothering with my kitchen light. I pull the neck up to my nose and inhale deeply once more. Turning to my side, I hug my pillow. I’m filled with selfish thoughts, guilt, and sadness. Thoughts of him plague my soul until I can no longer manage to keep my eyelids open. I fall into an exhausted sleep, with Jughead’s t-shirt against my skin.  

 

The Next Morning  

It’s loud. My head hurts. I feel pounding. I hear... pounding? Knocking? What the hell?   

I squint at my alarm clock; it reads just after eleven in the morning. Holy crap, I never sleep this late. It’s hot- and then I remember that my heat is on. The knocking it getting louder as I start to wake up. I sit up. Okay someone is definitely knocking, Who the hell?   

Maybe it’s Mrs. Wilson from next door... It wouldn’t be the first time she’s needed to borrow an egg or a stick of butter. She’s always baking and she’s always sure to send some over to repay me. I crawl from my bed, throwing back the covers. I remove the chain lock and twist the dead bolt. I open the door without a second thought.  

 

Shit.  

He’s here. Jughead is staring me dead in the face and all of my blood rushes to my feet. I watch his eyes change when he sees me. My dark eyes my cheeks protruding- I can tell by his gaze that he notices.  

But what the hell is he doing here- in New York? He shouldn’t be here. He can’t be here. I see his body start to move forward towards my door, his right foot lifting upward towards me.  

“Betts,” His voice enters my ears and I see his hand begin to reach up toward me.  

“No.”  

He stops. I barely recognize my own voice. I realize that I’m standing in the open doorway of my apartment in nothing but his t-shirt, that falls at my midthigh, and a pair of panties. I take a second, just looking at him. His eyes look sullen and full of regret. I still haven’t registered that he’s here, but I surrender and step aside. He takes the signal and steps inside. I cross my arms subconsciously over my chest and stare blankly at the floor, unable to meet his eyes.  

“H-how are you here?” I manage to mutter. “What are you doing here?”  

“I got your address from The Weatherbee’s...”  

“What?” I gasp at him, not believing what he’s telling me.  

“Don’t be mad.” He knows how to rile me. I have to take a deep breath before I can open my mouth again. I hate how gorgeous he looks; I hate that he can still make me feel this way.  

“Don’t be mad?” I question him. “While I’m pretty sure that’s illegal I can't-”  

“Is that my shirt?” His voice cuts me off.  

“What?” I look at him incredulously.  

My brow is furrowed, confused, and then suddenly he grabs me. I gasp and his mouth swoops down. His lips are on mine in a hungry kiss. I start to kiss him back and he hums against my mouth. His arms are holding me, and I feel his fingers dig into the top of my thighs. My skin is burning. Hy hands are in his hair, pulling, and he groans.  

In this moment of blinding passion, my brain is cloudy. I wonder if I’m still half asleep. This is wrong. I can’t do this. Why is he here? It feels so good, but no- no, we can’t.  

“No, Jug.” I gasp. I use my hands to push against his abdomen and shove him away. “No.”  

“I love you...” His voice is strained, and I feel a twinge in my heart.  

“No.” I say again, my head shaking. I can feel the tears at the corners of my eyes. My voice is barely a whisper.  

“I do, Betts...” He tells me. “I love you; I always have.”  

Me too. God, me too. That’s what I want to say. But I can’t. I feel like my heart is breaking all over again... This isn’t real. 

“Dammit, Jug...” I hold back my tears; he doesn’t get to see me cry.  

“Betty, I-”  

“You can’t promise me forever, you told me you loved me ten years ago and then you abandoned me... So no, you don’t get to say that you love me- how can you say that you love me?” I almost sobbing by the end, my voice is breathy and catching in my throat.  

“Then I love you now...” He rushes. "I'll love you right now because I do- I love you Betty. I never stopped loving you and I don’t think I ever will.” His words strike a chord within me and I know I’m going to cry. No.   

“Oh, baby, no.”  

Next thing I know I’m in his arms again. He tugs me to him, his arms wrapped around me. I want to struggle out of his grasp, maintain some distance so that I can think. His nose is in my hair and he’s holding me to his chest. I feel myself melt.  

“You took my heart with you ten years ago Jughead Jones, and you never gave it back.” I mumble through heavy tears. 

He’s warm and he smells like clean linen and his body wash. I relish in his scent transferring back into his t-shirt that I’m wearing. This is home. This is where I want to be.  

“You’ll never believe the look on Mabel’s face when I asked to borrow one of Walden’s shirts.” He mutters. His tone is light, and I feel a small laugh bubble through my chest. “Luckily, they had some luggage that had been left behind and I was able to rummage through it for a t-shirt.”  

“Jug...”  

“Shhh.”  

“No,” I mutter, the syllable burning my tongue. “We can’t.”  

He uses his arms to lift me before I can fight him and carries me over to the couch. His thumbs are stroking at the skin of my thighs and suddenly I’m sitting in his lap. He kisses my forehead and I try my hardest not to let my tears take over me again. I don’t want to think about how good he makes me feel because he was right, we’ll get hurt.  

“Do you remember that day that we found lake and Archie had to bring us a jack?” I nod gently after a second. “And you asked me what was most important in my life…”  

I look at him confused. I’ve replayed every moment of that day at the lake over and over again. There were days at the beginning that I couldn’t go a night without dreaming about that day with him.  

“And you told me it was your future.” I look at him straight in the eyes for the first time since I opened the door. “Which it should be Jug- I think the vineyard is a- “ 

“And it will be… if you’re in it.” He reaches up and his hand is on my face. I can’t help myself when I nuzzle softly against it.  

“Jug...”  

“Because you are the most important thing in my life Betty.” 

Jughead doesn’t stutter in his words and I’m so confused. He has his left thumb grazing the skin of my thigh and his right is holding my face. What is he talking about?  

“I want to wake up next you and fall asleep at night with you in my arms. I want to argue with you just so you can tell me that I’m being an ass and I’ll already know it- but the way your nose crinkles every time you curse makes me laugh.” I hear the whimper escape my throat. “I want to count the freckles on your face when I can’t sleep, because I know they’ll always show up in the summer. And for once, I want to know that we’re watching the same moon because you’re with me and not thousands of miles away- here, in New York.”  

“I-” I stutter after a moment. I don’t know what to say and I can’t really process that words that are coming from his mouth. I just want him to hold me, I want to feel at home.  

“Someone once told me that love is about the little things and that when you are around your soulmate, you’re not supposed to feel nervous… You’re supposed to feel calm just by their presence and I know that it’s true now... and I know that you feel it too and I love you Betty.” I can hear the struggle in his voice, and I notice that his eyes look heavy. It’s almost as if he hasn’t slept like me. I left him... and yet he’s not angry. He came here, to New York- to pour his heart out on my sofa.  

“The most important thing to me is my future, because you are my future Betty Cooper.” 

He leans closer to me; I can feel his breath on my face. His lips are so close to mine, but he doesn’t touch me. I feel like my skin is on fire and he’s not even touching me. But then his forehead is gently pressed into mine and I feel our noses brush.  

“Jug,” I whimper through the smallest whisper. “We can’t do this…”  

He nudges my head up with his nose and I feel his hand grip my hips, ever so gently. His mouth is over my ear, but I can’t see him because my eyes are closed. 

“Say it…” He mutters and then I feel his lips at the soft spot behind my ear.  

“Fuck you.” I whimper, a sob growing in my throat.  

“Say... it.” He pauses between each syllable.  

“I love you, too.” I feel myself relax and a tear falls down my sore cheek. 

He cups my chin in his hands, his mouth hovering over mine. I watch as his eyes close and he runs a trail of soft kisses from the underneath of my eye, over my cheek and onto my lips. The sting of my raw skin is suddenly soothed by the kiss of his lips.  

A small moan escapes my mouth and my insides begin to soften and unravel. I feel like I can taste his relief, his pining. His Adam's apple bobs in his throat, solace over coming him. His tongue licks at the roof my mouth in a gentle stroke and I catch his bottom lip between my teeth- earning myself a groan from his belly. I turn my leg so that I’m straddling him, holding his face in both of my hands.  

“Fuck, I missed you so much.” He whispers before he hurriedly kisses my chin and neck. I moan, words escaping my grasp. My sorrow is gone, he’s swallowing it- taking it from me. He has both of his arms wrapped around my torso, holding me flush against him. He holds me tighter, still kissing my mouth, and he stands.  

He walks us over to my bed and lays me down against the sheets. I pull his head back down, kissing him fervently. His lips are firm and slow as he kisses me back. I moan, my tongue tentatively meeting his. I grip his upper arms and I feel his hands at my waist.  

He gently inches up my t-shirt by the hem, his fingertips brushing against my skin. I moan once more and try to control my too-heavy breathing. I find the bottom of his shirt and pull. He helps me and we tug it over his head, shedding it to my bedroom floor. 

 I feel blood begin to pool deep in my belly. I’m hot. He leans down and his lips press against my stomach- and then my pelvic bone. He peppers kisses across me- hip to hip, and I feel his fingers stroke ever so slightly against the skin of my inner thigh. He presses his thumb against me through my panties, I writhe, bowing off my mattress.  

“Argh,” I groan. His mouth catches mine again in a slow and through kiss. “Please, Jug.”  

He brushes his nose against mine and I feel him sigh heavily against me. The tips of his fingers dance of the waistband of my panties. I take a moment and calm myself through a deep breath before I nod against him. He pulls down the flimsy lace and I reach down so I can pull my t-shirt over my head.  

I trace my nails over the divots in his abdomen. He kisses me again before he sinks to his knees. Oh yes. I groan when I feel his lips on the soft and pale skin of my inner thigh. He already knows to thread the fingers of his left hand within mine and our hands lay at the bottom of my stomach. I feel him press a soft kiss against my sensitive flesh and I can’t help the pattern of breath gasps that passes through my lips. His tongue flutters so gently against me and I fist the duvet with my free hand. I squeeze onto his fingers, grounding myself, and he squeezes back.  

He hums then, and it radiates from deep in his throat into ripples through my belly. I can’t help but groan, my free hand leaving my sheets to thread through his inky hair.  

“Argh...” A loud cry escapes me when he dances his tongue over me. Next thing I know he pops up and covers my mouth with his own in a quick kiss. He swallows my gasp of surprise and I quickly replace it with a moan, barely tasting myself against his lips.  

“Shh,” He quiets me, a coy smile playing on his lips. “Neighbors.”  

I roll my eyes at his reminder. He begins to sink down my body again, biting into the swell of my breast as he does. I can’t help the buck of my hips when his mouth meets back at my center, his tongue barely flicking against me.  

“Oh shit.” I murmur. I’m so wound it hurts and he knows it. He’s lapping at me and I feel my legs begin to shake. He laces both of his hands with mine, I’m close- his tongue tracing a torturous path around my entrance. Fuck.  

He leaves me then, peppering kisses from the juncture of my leg and torso through the center of my inner thigh. I groan in disappointment and can’t help the whole-body arch that takes over me when he latches back onto me, my thighs clenching around his head.  

I manage to feather his name and then he’s kissing his way back up my trembling body, my release rippling through me. I’m covered in a sheen of sweat and God , I love this man.   

I reach down when he places his mouth on mine. I hum against his lips and find the button on his jeans. Why does he still have these on? He groans when my fingers stroke over the front of his boxers. He helps me, kicking off the denim.  

“I love you,” I confess, unable to help myself. “Fuck, I love you...” 

 

I take his face in my hands, holding our foreheads together. I just need a second. A second to savor him, here- with me. 

“I can’t believe you’re here.” I tell him, my voice quivers- I can’t help it.  

“I’m here, baby...” He’s writhing his forehead against mine and I open my eyes only to find that his are closed. His arms come around my waist to hold me close. “I’m here.”  

“Say it again...” I gasp. “Please, just tell me again.”  

“I love you...” He murmurs without hesitation, giving my lips a quick peck. “I love you so much.”  

I take his mouth in a hard kiss, a weighted groan fleeing his throat, but he returns it eagerly. He’s hovering over me, but I can feel him hard against my thigh. Our kiss is intense and longing. They reminded me of our ones at the farm, we had missed each other so much and this was no different... except now we could admit that we still loved each other.  

“Please Jug,” I almost cry. “I need you.”  

As soon as I reach down to touch him, he jerks, his hips dipping down toward me. I catch his mouth again, swallowing his surprise. My breath is heaving, and I know that his every muscle is straining, begging for me. He lifts again and I feel his thumb stroke over my cheekbone. I turn toward his touch. He presses his cheek against mine so I can turn my mouth into his skin when he sinks into me- muffling me.  

“God, you’re so beautiful.” He mutters, still within me- my body sucking him in like a vice grip.  

“Move, Jug.” I practically beg.  

He does. I feel my insides begin to swirl and tighten. I’m filled with overwhelming emotion, disbelief and cherish. And then my face is wet. Fuck, I’m crying again - what the hell?   

“Baby,” Jughead notices my tears and begins to slow.  

“No.” I gasp, gripping his forearm. “I’m okay.” I tell him, but I don’t sound at all convincing and I don’t even believe my own voice.  

“Betts...” His forehead is on mine again, calming me. I love him so much, it’s whole being consuming love, and I’m scared. Jesus, I’m terrified.  

I feel emotionally manipulated but I know that it’s just masked by a sheet of fear and uncertainty. I reach my hands into his hair and hold his face against mine. He kisses me sweetly, beginning to move again. Everything is so heavy, but it’s the most welcome weight.  

“Come with me...” He whispers after a few moments, coaxing over me with his teeth with a slight grit. “Come with me, love.”  

 

He is my other half, the second part that makes me whole. I’d felt a part of me was hallow for the last ten years and here he is... filling it. It is like the utter euphoria that jumps through the tips of your fingers when you press the last piece of the puzzle in and form the whole seamless picture. He’s my puzzle piece. It won’t be easy- this I know. I’ll make mistakes and so will he, but I’m done being without him.  

 

My insides tighten and a new wave of tears washes over me, I’m not sure how I have any left. I feel my eyes begin to roll back, my eyelashes on my cheeks. I arch into him and feel his mouth on my neck. His heavy groan vibrates against the skin of my throat as we come together, a bond forming between our bodies in the moment... I’m never leaving him again.  

Chapter Text

Betty’s POV  

“Hey,” he says gently over me. “What’s this?”  

His voice is so gentle and soothing in my ears. I feel his thumb come up and wipe away the dampness from my cheek. He pulls out of me, swiping up a towel from the floor next to my bed.  

How do I explain the depravity of what I’m feeling? It’s something that I don’t even fully understand. I try to look away, swiping my own fingers at my tears, but he doesn’t let me. He catches my face in his hand and leans down to kiss my sensitive cheek once more. He’s so sweet, I can’t handle it. He can’t be real. How is he real?  

“Betty?” His voice is laced with concern which only makes me feel even more inane.  

“I’m okay.” I manage to choke out.  

“Are you-”  

“I’ve never been more okay...” I confess softly, cutting him off. “I love you...”  

“I love you, too.”  

 

I wake up to my phone buzzing loudly on my nightstand. Jughead is sound asleep beside me. I don’t even remember falling asleep. But I can tell by the height of the sun in the sky and the heat that has filled my apartment that it’s sometime in the late afternoon.  

Shit.   

It’s Cheryl, I was supposed to call her this morning. She’s probably losing it. I don’t answer it, instead shooting her a simple text telling her that I’m fine-just tired. She doesn’t need to know the real reason why I’m not picking up the phone. It’s not that I don’t want her to know- or anyone for that matter. I just want him with me, us- in our own little world just for a little bit longer.  

I run to the bathroom really quick to pee, slipping his t-shirt on before I go. There’s something about being bare skinned walking through my apartment that’s different from being naked and pressed against his skin. The clock on my stove tells me that it’s just before five, like I’d suspected. I turn of my heat before I slip back into bed. I watch as his chest rises gently and then softly falls, he looks so peaceful. It’s quite evident that we both needed sleep.  

I can’t help myself and I skim my fingertip over his cheek before I reach for the strand of hair from his forehead. He's so beautiful and I can’t believe that he’s here, in my bed.  

I lean forward and kiss his drowsy lips. He doesn’t stir at first and it’s not my intention to wake him, I just wanted to kiss him. I nuzzle my head into his chest as he begins to wake. I can tell that he’s startled at first, by his unfamiliar surroundings. But then he seems to relax again when he notices me in his arms. I can’t help the small smile that spreads through my cheeks when he turns his head to kiss my forehead. I nuzzle more into his skin and squeeze my arms around his waist.  

“Mhm, hi.” he murmurs. I turn my neck so that I can look up at him. I can see the sleep still clouding his eyes and I can’t help myself, so I lean up and kiss his mouth once more.  

“Hi,” I say against his lips and gain myself a soft chuckle from his chest.  

He pulls me fully on top of him and I kiss him harder, savoring in the pressure of his lips against mine. I feel his arms squeeze tight around my sides and I press my pout to his chin. My fingers stroke over his face. The cuts on his brow and cheek have scabbed over, the bruises only light shades of yellow and brown now. I run my thumbs under the soft patches of his eyes. They’ve lost some of their bluish tint, sleep being the only remedy.  

“How long can you stay?” I ask him, only slightly terrified of his answer. I feel him sigh so I snuggle into his chest once more, my head under his chin.  

“A couple of days...” He mutters. “I have Archie looking after the farm for me.”  

“And what happens in a couple days?” I mutter fearfully. He can sense the worry in my tone, and I feel him start to sit up.  

“Betts,” He starts.  

“Seriously Jug,” I pause and glance down at my fidgeting hands. “As much as I don’t want to wreck this... what are we doing? I mean, long term-  

“Hey,” He reaches a hand out and it strokes my cheek. I can’t help but nuzzle in closer to it. “We’ll figure it out.”  

His voice is so soft and gentle, I feel myself ease just at the sound of his voice.  

“What if we can’t?” I ask, my chin beginning to tremble.  

“We will.” 

His voice is one of promise, a promise that he’s so quick to keep.  

“If you think I’m letting you go again, you’re crazy.” He holds my face and runs his rough thumbs over my soft bottom lip. He pulls it down gently, drinking in the look of my eyes.  He leans in and presses his lips tenderly against mine. It’s a sign of endearment and affection. “We have a few days to talk...” He tells me. “We don’t have to decide everything tonight.”  

I kiss him again, understanding his point. I swipe my tongue ever so slightly at his top lip, granting myself the smallest groan. I know what he wants, he doesn’t want to talk about anymore of this tonight.   

“I love you...” I whisper as I pull away.  

“I know.”  

“I’m sorry that I left.”  

“Hey, hey... no, no more of that.” He holds my face in both of his hands. “Please baby, no more of that.”  

“Okay...”  

“I love you, too.” He whispers, pressing his forehead against mine- our noses brushing.  

“I know.” I mutter cheekily, echoing his previous words.  

“I’m hungry.” 

I can’t help the soft laugh that escapes me, but I’m trying my hardest to stem my grumbling belly. It seems my appetite has come back, no doubt thanks to him. I pull his face back to mine, playfully, kissing him hard before letting his go with an audible pop.  

“Make me food, wench.” He almost sings as he throws himself back against my pillows. I smack his chest and can’t help the insulted chuckle that bubbles from my lungs. I crawl from the sheets, Jughead smacking my ass playfully.  

 

 

We spent the next two days curled up in my sheets, hardly leaving my bed. We cooked together and walked my neighborhood the previous day, hitting the farmer’s market at the end of the block. I was due back to work tomorrow and Jughead was due back to Georgia tomorrow afternoon. I didn’t want him to go and we hadn’t talked anymore about what we were going to do. We both knew that there wasn’t a chance in hell they’d we’d go too long without seeing each other. But I knew that I couldn't leave New York and I also knew that he couldn’t afford flights back and forth from Georgia. I also know that it isn’t practical or fair to ask him to move here, with me- and I’m really not crazy about anyone else owning my grandad’s farm.  

 

Now we sit together in my tub. Each of us on either side, facing each other- my feet resting on top of his thighs. His feet are only slightly brushing against the outside of my legs, his toes at my waist. The weight of the air around us is suffocating. I was hoping this would help me relax, but it’s in fact doing the very opposite.  

“Are you ready to go back to work tomorrow?” He asks, pulling my left foot into his hand. I feel his fingers start to work methodical circles into my arch and heel.  

It’s late, I turn my head to look at the dark skyline peering in through my windows. It’s also raining, and I can hear the water pelting on the glass. It’s late but neither of us wants to sleep. I want to be with him for as long as I can and the fact that we haven't talked about what we're going to do after he leaves is eating me alive.  

I know that he sees my face fall. His fingers move upward and stroke my calf.  

“Babe?”  

“Please don’t ask me about work.” I pale, my gaze not returning to him. I can barely hear my own voice, but I know he does because his movements still against my skin. I’m filled with uncertainty and self-loathing. I don’t want to ruin our last night together, but the air around us feels so heavy- I can feel the weight on my shoulders.  

I feel him lean forward, the water swirling around his waist. A ripple reaches me and laps over my chin but then he has a thumb under my jaw, lifting my eyes back to him. I know that my chin is quivering, and he takes his thumb to pull down on my bottom lip. I hadn’t even realized that it was stuck between my teeth.  

Then he reaches for me, pulling my body towards him. The water sloshes and rises precariously close to the sides of the tub. Ungainly I use my knees to meet him, suddenly wanting nothing more than to be pressed flesh against his skin as I straddle him.  

He’s holding me, kissing my chest in frantic kisses. My breasts clear the level of the bubbles, directly in his line of view as he peppers kisses all over my skin. He holds me firmly against him, his arms wrapped tightly around my waist, our wet bodies jointed together.  

I feel his jaw and then his cheek swipe over the side of my breast and when his lips meet my nipple, he takes it gently between his teeth and I can’t help the ragged moan that comes over me. It only makes him suckle harder, knowing it’s going to drive me insane.  

I can't help but shudder and wiggle against him, my top have is covered in goosebumps- partly due to the chill of the air against my once wet and drying skin and partly due to his mouth on me. Fuck.   

His skin is slippery in my hands, I hadn’t even realized that my fingers were in his hair- holding him to me. His right-hand trails down in between our bodies, the water ripples between my legs and I moan once more. I feel his fingers at the juncture of my thighs, and I have to bite into the skin of his shoulder once I feel his fingers stroke over my sensitive flesh. It’s hard and greedy, flicking over me deliciously. I know my nails are pushing viciously into his back, but I don’t care.  

“Jug...” I gasp, pulling his mouth up from my nipple to my mouth. I kiss him hungrily, all of my tension pouring from my lips and into him. I’m shivering. I feel one of his fingers dip inside me, pushing, building up the pressure. I can’t help myself and I start to ride his fingers.  

“Fuck, baby...” I hear his voice in my ears.  

“I want you, Jug...” I whisper, taking his face in my hands again- brushing our lips. “I- I don’t...”  

“What? What do you want, Betts?”  

“I don’t want this...” I say even as I continue to ride his fingers. “I want my bed... You in my bed.” My speech isn’t making any sense, this I know. I can't help the whimper that falters from my throat. He pushes his fingers deeper and I feel myself quake.  

“Oh, baby... You will, but you can enjoy this. Let me do this for you baby and then we’ll talk.”  

“Okay...” I nod profusely and I hear him chuckle. His kisses my neck and I ground downward, cupping his head in my hands. I feel him nip at my throat before his lips kiss over the soft spot behind my ear. I shiver and a jolt a pleasure shoots straight through my groin. He notices, his words mumbled against my neck nearly make me melt.  

“I know you like that...” approval is thick in his voice.  

“Only you.” I croak out.  

“What?” his tone is laced with confusion.  

“You.” I say again. “You’re the only one that’s ever found that.”  

I know he’s grinning when he kisses my throat again. I feel his tongue stick out and trace my skin up to my ear once more. He sucks gently at the soft spot and I cry out. My release rips through me and suddenly he presses harder into me and I ground down on him. Holy shit.   

“That’s it, baby...” I hear his voice coax over and I collapse onto his slippery skin. “Breathe, Betts...” 

He holds me against him, our bodies molding into one another. I am breathless, my release hitting me so fast that it made my head spin. My it was because the moment was so heavy or maybe it was just him.  

“Let’s get you out, you’re getting cold...”  

“Mhm,” I hum. “Okay.”  

 

He eases me off him, I feel the water lap up on my chest- rewarming my chilled skin. I can’t help my smile when he climbs from the tub to grab a towel. His ass is on glorious display before me and it’s no secret that I love that ass. I watch as he wraps the towel around his waist before he reaches out for my hand. He wraps another towel around me, holding me to him to envelop me in warmth.  

“I love you,” I mutter.  

“I love you, too...”  

“Can we nap?” I ask. I only need a few hours, I’m sated, for now, and a little sore from the last two days. “I wanna cuddle.” I press my lips to his chest, and I feel his against my hair.  

“Okay...” he mumbles through a soft laugh. “Come on, baby.”  

 

We don’t bother with clothes, colliding naked with the sheets and just holding each other. My apartment is pitch dark, sleep suddenly evading me. I climb up his body silently after a couple of moments. I begin to kiss him languidly. I want to kiss him forever, never allow our lips to part.  

“Jug...” I whisper, pulling away. His fingers are stroking listlessly up and down my sides.  

“Hmm?” he hums his reply.  

“Don’t go.” I say.  

“Betts, you know I have to...”  

“I know.” I mutter, defeated.  

“We’ll figure something out Betty... I’m not leaving you again.”  

“Promise me that you’ll come back.” I tilt my head up, his eyelashes are peeking out from his cheeks and illuminate by the hue of the New York sky.  

“I promise,” I feel his arms squeeze me tight. “We’ll see each other again.”  

“We’ll make this work?”  

“Yes, Betts...”  

“And you love me?”  

“And I love you,” he laughs, “Betty-”  

“How Jughead?” I feel my chin quiver and I can’t help the tears that threaten to fall. “I can’t leave my job and you can’t leave Georgia...” 

“Hey, hey...” He holds me to him. “We’ll figure it out, okay? It’s still early and I-”  

“You keep saying that!” I can’t help the shrill in my voice. “You keep saying that but where’s my choice Jughead?” I’m spiraling. “We haven’t talked... We’ve yelled at each other and had a lot of great sex, which don’t get me wrong is great- and I needed it, but I want to talk Jug... about our future.”  

I can’t help but let my tears fall. I feel strangled and trapped. I’m trapped, here- away from him. I’ve given my life to my job, which granted is an amazing job, but it’s taken everything from me. My life, my friends... and now it’s threatening to take away Jughead. That can’t happen, I won't let it happen... Not again.  

“Baby please don’t cry...” He holds my face. “Don’t cry.”  

“I’ll come to Georgia.” I burst.  

“Betty.” His voice is a warning, but I cut him off.  

“I’ll leave New York, the only thing keeping me here is my job and I’m willing to leave it behind if it means I get to be with you.”  

“Baby I can’t ask you to do that... you’ve worked too hard.” His hands are gripping hard on my cheeks, reach up to grab his fingers, squeezing.  

“You aren’t asking... I’m telling. I’ll find a job, start over. We can be together, Jug.”  

“You’re serious?”  

“It’ll take some time to figure out, but yes baby I’m serious...” I don’t normally use terms of endearment and he knows it. I watch as his eyes soften, his thumbs skimming my cheeks.  

“You’d do that for me?” his voice is so gentle, so strained. I can’t sense a sob heavy stuck in the back of his throat. I shake my head at him, because he’s wrong. He’s so wrong.  

“I’d do it for us , Jug...” I tell him. “I’d do anything to be with you... for us to be together because I can’t lose you again. I won't.”  

“I love you, Betty...”  

“And I love you, Jughead.” My tears fall but they aren’t from sadness, their cries of happiness and relief.  

 

The Next Morning  

It’s early, I’m stretched over Jughead’s body, our legs tangled together. We’ve barely slept. I’m using every possible minute until I have to get out of bed and get ready for work. I wish that I could just call in, but with my recent trip south, that’s simply not an option that I have right now. I feel Jughead kiss my forehead and I hum against his skin. We’d decided that I would give my notice to KPE at the end of the quarter. It gave us three months to figure things out in Georgia and if all goes to plan, I’d be down there for good by Christmas. I turn my head up to look at him, reaching my fingers out to fondle his chin.  

“You’re beautiful, you know that?” I ask. I watch as blush rises in his cheeks. I still will never understand how he has the ability to blush, he seriously has nothing to be self-conscious about. 

“I’m gonna marry you some day, you know that?” His voice echoes after mine and I can’t help but giggle.  

“Is this your way of proposing?” I joke.  

“No...” He shakes his head through a soft laugh. “I don’t have the ring here.” He says it so flippantly that I know he doesn’t understand what has just come out of his mouth. I sit up in a rush, looking at him. My eyes are wide, and I watch as his cloud with confusion.  

“What?” he chuckles.  

“I uh-” I stutter my eyes pinching closed. “Okay, this is going to sound crazy but I-”  

“Betty, what are you talking about?”  

“You just said that you don’t have the ring here ...” I cut him off, speaking slowly. “Does that mean that you have a ring?”  

“Betts...”  

“Jughead.” I say, my voice full of a heedful warning. He’s gone pale, his chin dips into his lap. “Do you already have a ring?”  

“Betty...”  

“Jughead, do you have a ring?” I ask him again.  

“I think it’s about time for you to shower, right? Don’t want you to be late for work.”  

He plants a swift peck on my slightly parted lips before he jumps up from the sheets. I watch as he walks causally to the kitchen and reaches into my cabinet for the bag of coffee.  

This is how he wants to play?  

“If you go now, I’ll have breakfast ready when you're done.” He smiles gently, only meeting my eyes for a millisecond.  

“Jughead.” My voice is thick with caveat, probing at him. “You aren’t saying no.”  

I watch as he looks up at me. He has both of his hands pressed against the countertop and his tongue is in his cheek. He’s thinking. I watch as surrender dances through his guise before it’s just as quickly gone again. His expression is laced with a mixture of frustration, malice, and dilemma. I jump up from the bed and I’m halfway to the kitchen before he starts to walk toward me.  

“For once in your life, just let something end in surprise.” He mutters.  

“But I hate surprises.”  

“I know.” He laughs. “But this one, you’re just going to have to deal with.”  

I raise an eyebrow at him and cross my arms over my chest- my signature moves when he knows I’m about to cop an attitude. I have the mad urge to tap my foot, but I refrain. I want to scoff at him, but my throat is as dry as the Sahara. What the fuck? He has a ring?    

He leans in, his lips nearly touching mine when he begins to speak again.  

“Spoil sport.”  

I feel the words barely brush from his lips onto mine, a shivering coursing through me. I can’t help the large exhale that pushes out from my lungs as he steps away. I hadn’t even realized that I was holding my breath.  

No. My brain screams at me. No.   

He’s already turned away, his bare back now the only thing in my vision. I see the faint imprints that my nails had left in the tops of his shoulders. My head is swirling with delicious memories. I lift my foot and reach for him. My hand catches his forearm, yanking him back toward me. I take his mouth in a heavy kiss, pulling his head down to my mouth and swallowing his groan of surprise.  

“Shower.” He mumbles. “Now.”  

“You’re coming with.” I stutter, yanking on both of his arms by his biceps and pulling with me into my too small for one-person shower.  

It was a glorious shower indeed.  

 

I’m not thrilled about returning to an empty apartment after work. Jughead’s flight should be just about to land in Georgia. I’m still surprised that I managed not to cry when I left him this morning. I already miss him but knowing that I’m promised to see him again soon offers me hope so I don’t feel so hallow. He’d put his number in my phone himself, cracking jokes about how I wouldn’t get away this time.  

Work didn’t feel the same knowing that I would leaving for good very soon and that I missed Jughead desperately. I was being pulled in two directions and I was learning very quickly what it was like to be Raggedy Ann.  

Leaving New York is something I need to do; I’m going to be selfish for once in what I want. I’m scared to tell my mother. It’s not a secret that she won’t be impressed. I’m not so worried about Cheryl though, she’s always told me to follow my heart and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  

I turn my key in the lock, but when I walk into my apartment, I don’t feel dark and hallow. It’s warm and Jughead had left the stove light on for me. My heart swells when I see a beautiful mason jar full of sunflowers staring at me from my kitchen counter. They look just like the ones he’d given me on our first date and the sentimate of it all has me reeling.  

But then my gaze sets on my bed. He’d left three of his t-shirts folded up and stacked on top of my duvet. I drop my purse to the floor and halfway sprint to my bed after the shock wears off. I pull the top one into my grasp and lift it to my nose, deeply inhaling his scent. Quickly I strip from my chunky sweater and jeans. I grab a pain of light cotton shorts from the nearby laundry basket, pulling them on and then the t-shirt.  

I lay down on my bed, lifting my phone to snap a quick picture of myself in his t-shirt. I send it to him with a cheeky smile, happiness slinking through my veins as I type out a quick message.  

Thank you.  

 

 

One Year & Six Months Later 

“Jug!” I yell out our back door off the kitchen. I suspect he’s in the shed doing God knows what. “Dinner!”  

I take off my apron as the light wooden frame slamming loudly behind me. I pour us each a glass of red wine before I smooth my hands over my sun dress. He's supposed to break ground on the vineyard next week. We had decided on Jones & Earl Vineyard s , much to my own protest. But Jughead had insisted on honoring Pop and it was just another one of the reasons why I loved him. He’s been stressed and I wanted to do something nice for him.  

I also want to talk to him. It’s been eating me alive and I know that he’s starting to notice. 

I look over the lit candles that I’d set up on the island. I made his favorite, my famous sausage stew with honey cornbread. I try to calm my nerves. My grandmothers ring glistens against the light from my finger. It’s so beautiful. I still can’t believe that Jughead had managed to keep it a secret from me. But the night I moved to Georgia I’d found him in the barn. I remember every moment in detail. He'd worn black slacks and a light gray dress shirt. Lanterns hung around him from the ceiling and he was surrounded by our closest friends. Archie, Veronica, Mabel and Walden. I got to meet Lucy and Rachel was even there with her husband Michael and baby Oliver. I still wasn’t there how he had managed it, but even Cheryl was there.  

Of course, I cried and Jughead had the hardest time actually getting the ring onto my finger because I was shaking so bad. This meant that I spent most of my first week in Georgia in complete shock. Jughead told me the story about how my grandfather had called on him for a visit just a few weeks before he had passed and gave him the ring. It held a special place in my heart to know that Pop supported us.  

We had tied the knot at town hall not too long after out engagement. Neither of us cared to have a large ceremony and we’d waited so long to be together that I didn’t want to waste a day without being able to call him my husband.  

I convinced the mayor to let me start up the town’s newspaper, The Peach , again. I used my savings to buy out the old building for a good price and I was thriving. We sold prints to three of the surrounding towns and although it wasn’t a publishing house it was what I had always seen myself doing, journalism.  

The move from New York to Georgia wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I wasn’t as irreplaceable at KPE as I thought, and I still spoke with Ally and Greer frequently. Of course, I missed Cheryl, but we had plans for her to come out for a few weeks over the next year. She met someone; a woman, named Toni Topaz. It was a shock at first, but I met the women with pink streaked locks over a Facetime call and she seems to make Cheryl very happy- and that makes me happy.  

I haven’t spoken to my mother in over a year. I broke the news that I was moving to Georgia along with my reasoning why a month after Jughead and I had decided that I’d leave in December. I thought she might have a heart attack on the phone. There’d been a lot of screaming and arguing. She told me that she would never forgive me and that if I left New York to be a lousy man I was sure to amount to nothing more than a miserable housewife.  

I found out that Jughead had called my father to ask for my hand. My dad being a little more forgiving but still not reaching out very often. I got to meet Jellybean over Jughead and I’s first Easter together. She was literally a mirror female image of her brother, so it’s safe to say that we get along pretty nicely and do a very good job at driving her brother crazy.  

 

My first New Year’s spent with Jughead had been my favorite. I was still new to living in Georgia full time and my anxiety was still high. We had spent Christmas at the Inn with Mabel and Walden. It was the first time I’d spent the holidays without my family. Jughead knew this and had surprised me with a new plate for my locket. It was a picture of us from the night that he proposed. I wasn’t exactly sure who had taken it, but nonetheless it was able to sit inside my existing locket. All three of my biggest loves being right next to my heart at all times.  

 

“Hi baby,” I hear him open the screen door. “Wow you look nice...” He looks over the romantic place settings that I had set out. “What did I do to deserve this?”  

“You married me.” I smile cheekily at him when he leans in for a quick kiss.  

“That I did my beautiful wife.”  

“I made your favorite.” 

He kisses me again and I can’t help the warmth that washes over my cheeks.  

“Let me change, I’m covered in dirt and sweat.”  

“Sexy.” I mutter coyly. “Here, let me.”  

I reach for the hem of his t-shirt, pulling it over his head before he can offer any protest. I skim my nails over the hard planes of his abdomen before I step in closer and pull him toward me. My hands go to his ass, palming and squeezing him through his jeans.  

“Shit, Betts...” He mumbles. “Start that and we’ll never make it to dinner.”  

“Go change,” I smack him on the ass. I grab my glass of wine and take a sip, watching the smile on his face. He leans in and kisses my forehead, holding his lips against my skin for a couple extra moments. 

“I’ll be right back.” He tells me before he walks toward the living room and to our bedroom.  

I love this man. Is the only thought in my head.  

 

Jughead dives viciously into his dinner. No surprise there. I can only manage a couple of bites before I’m pushing it around my bowl. I’m sick to my stomach. I twist my ring on my finger, a nervous habit that I’ve picked up over the last year. There is a never-ending cogwheel turning in my head, practically eating me alive. I stare at my cornbread muffin and reach for my wine glass. But I don’t pick it up I simply begin to tap my ring against the glass absentmindedly.  

“Betts?” I suddenly hear his gentle voice invade my ears, breaking me from my dazed stupor.  

“Hmm?” I can’t help the slight jump the traces over my skin.  

“What’s going on?” I can hear the nervousness in his soft laugh.  

“What?” I begin to sit up straighter, my head finally turning to meet his eyes.  

I watch as he sets down his spoon and turns himself on the stool so that he’s facing me. He reaches for my hands and turns me so that his knee is pressed against my outer thigh.    

H ere goes nothing...  

“Hi honey...” he says, the tone in his voice causes me to soften my hardened exterior just a little bit.  

“Hi,” I echo, sighing with a deep and thorough breath.  

“You okay?”  

He searches for my eyes; they’ve bobbed into my lap before I even notice.  

“Yeah, Jug... Everything’s fine.”  

“Okay... then why aren’t you eating your dinner and why does your face look like you’ve done something that you aren’t telling me,” His voice is tender and sweet as it enters my ears. “What’s going on, baby?”  

I feel him squeeze my hands and I slowly lift my head to meet his eyes once more.  

“I know that I’ve been MIA these last couple of weeks, but you know that I’ve been busy with the fields and getting everything ready to break ground next week... Look Betts, I know that I haven’t been the best husband lately. I’ve barely been home at night before I collapse into bed from exhaustion, and if I did something to upset you I-”  

“No, Jug...” I stop his rambling. He thinks that he did something? What did I ever do to deserve this man? I reach out a hand to his face, cradling his cheek.  

“Then what baby?” He coaxes over me. “What is it?”  

I stand, jumping down from the stool- distancing myself from his body. I pace a couple of steps and shake out my hands. He’s watching me and I can see the worry furrow deeper and deeper into his brow. His eyes are clouded with confusion and I catch him standing in my peripheral so I pause.  

He stands in front of me, but his frame is surprising relaxed. I look deeply into his eyes and I’m sure that I almost reach his soul. I’ve bent my fingers bent and I’m biting into my bottom lip. I’m literally being so stupid, but I’m scared of what he’s going to say.  

“Come here...” he mutters between us. 

He’s just as quickly stepping toward me, reaching an arm out to wrap around my waist and pull me into a hug. I feel myself relax almost instantly in the comfort of his arms around me. A heavy exhale escapes my lungs and I close my eyes, holding myself against him.  

“Betts...” He whispers. “You’re scaring me... Just tell me.”  

I step back after a moment. My hands reach up for his face and I pull him down to me, pressing our foreheads together. His hands meet my waist, pressing into me. Great, I’ve thoroughly freaked him out.  

“I- I want to have a baby...”  

My voice is barely a whisper, but I feel myself completely relax through a heavy breath, as if I’ve just confessed something to him. He’s still against me. We’ve talked about kids before and both decided that we did want them. But I’m nearly twenty-nine and he’s thirty-two. We aren’t getting any younger and I’m ready. We’re ready, I just know it.  

“Baby I know that life is crazy right now with us just about to break ground on the vineyard and me running the paper, and I know that it’s been a while since we’ve talked about it but I- I...”  

I know that I’m justifying by rambling and I think I hear a soft chuckle fall from his lips. His hands squeeze once more at my sides and if I’d had my eyes open, I would’ve seen a smile through his cheeks.  

“I want to have your baby, Jughead.”  

“Okay.” He says it so simply after a few moments of heavy silence that I don’t believe my ears.  

“What?” I pull back, still holding his face in my hands. He laughs at my slight shock, knowing I obviously didn’t expect him to cave so easily. “You want to have a baby? You think we’re ready...”  

“Do you think we’re ready?” He asks me, as if he was waiting for me to ask- as if I were the one missing in this equation.  

“Oh, Jug...” I lurch forward, throwing my arms around his neck. “Yes, yes...”  

“Betts, were you really scared to ask me that?”  

“I- Well I just, everything has been super hectic with my job and the vineyard and I just-”  

“Betty I’ve been waiting...”  

“What?” I pull back looking, at him incredulously.  

“I’ll give you however many babies you want, Betts.”  

I hug him again, tears threatening my eyes. I pull back again and hold his face, kissing him with everything that I have left in me. I’m smiling against his mouth, kissing his teeth while soft laughs and relief ripple out from our lungs. I can’t help my giddy squeal when I feel him reach down for my thighs. He pulls me into a straddle on his hips and suddenly we’re walkway towards the hallway.  

“What are you doing?” I giggle against his mouth.  

“We’re already late in the game Betts... so we’d better get started now.”  

I haven’t told him that I’ve gone off my birth control. My last doctor's appointment was the previous Tuesday, when I’d made the decision to remove my implant. With him working on the fields and design plans literally all day every day, it’s been nearly a week since we’ve had sex. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and I knew that if I got my birth control removed- I'd be forced to have this conversation with him without the ability to back out.  

I kiss him hard as he rests me gently against the sheets of our bed.  

“So, you want a baby?” I gasp, simply not being able to process the last twenty minutes of our lives.  

“Yes, baby...” He wipes some hair away from my face and stills, looking deep into my eyes. “I want a little you or me running around this house, I want to turn your childhood bedroom into a nursery, I want to make you happy every day for the rest of our lives.”  

“I hope we have a boy, and he looks just like you...” I mutter softly. I trace my finger over his cheek, before it dances over his lower lip and pulls it down ever so slightly.  

“I hope we have a girl, with your smart mouth and beauty.”  

“Well we can’t have both.” I laugh at him. “And we also don’t get to choose.”  

“Then we’ll just try again... until we get at least one of each.” He simply shrugs and I look at him in awe.  

“You better give me lots of babies, Jughead Jones...”  

“I want nothing more, my beautiful wife.”  

 

Eleven months later we welcome the most beautiful little girl. She has Jughead’s dark hair and my vibrant green eyes. Jughead’s lips and my button nose. She’s the most perfect combination of the best parts of us and by the time we leave the hospital we’ve already decided to try for another one whenever we decide that we’re ready.  

We name her Emma Faye Jones, after my late grandmother. She’s the women that I never got to meet and yet her existence controlled my entire destiny all because she chose to love my grandfather.  

She gave me my family, and as I sit reading my two-year-old daughter the letters I wrote to her daddy when I was eighteen years old, her baby brother in my round belly-just days away from making his appearance into the world, I can’t be anymore grateful for what my crazy life has become.