Veronica didn’t know how she ended up here. This town was nothing like New York. The modern yet classic vibe she knew was replaced with something right out of a John Hughes movie. Her mom had forced her out of sulking in her room and sent her out to meet people, see the town, do anything other than wallow. An early birthday had it’s perks, Veronica thought to herself as she started up her car to drive. She went the only place she knew- well, she didn’t know it yet, but this had been the only place her mom had mentioned- Pop’s. She got out of her car, not really knowing what to expect.
It was late, and there was only one other customer there. A teen that looked about her age, but with bags under his eyes and a crown shaped beanie perched on his head. He’d have to do. She slid into his booth across from him.
“Can I help you?,” Jughead sighed, not looking up from his computer screen.
“And I thought New Yorkers were unwelcoming. Veronica Lodge. I’m new here, and my mom is forcing me to make friends.” Veronica held out a hand. The boy didn’t reach out to shake it.
“Jughead Jones, the third. And this explains why you slid into my booth without asking because?”
“You’re the only other person here. What are you writing?”
“None of your business.”
“It could be. If you answer my question, I’ll answer one of yours. Trust me, I could hear you trying to analyze me from here.”
“Fine. Crime story. Probably wouldn’t interest you.”
“Are we talking In Cold Blood style or a neo-noir cinema influenced piece? You trying to be the Tarantino of the written world?”
“Not the reaction I would’ve expected. But if I remember properly, It’s my turn to ask a question. Why are you here?”
“I told you, my mom is making me make friends and you’re the only other person here.”
“No,” Jughead cut in, “why are you in Riverdale?”
“My dad is Hiram Lodge. This was the only place we had in my mom’s name.” Veronica looked down, the smile leaving her face. She forced a smirk and looked up at Jughead. “Now it’s your turn to answer my follow up question.”
Jughead smirked. “I agreed to one question. Anything more is gonna cost you. I’ll accept payment in burgers.”
“Order what you want, then answer my questions.”
“Pop, can I get my usual?” Jughead noticed the bare table in front of Veronica. “Make that two.”
“I could hardly stuff my face knowing the new girl hasn’t experienced the wonder that is Pop’s burgers yet,” the boy explained. “To answer your question- neither. It’s my own style, my own work. But I’m surprised a girl like you would jump to Tarantino. I figured you were more of a Nicholas Sparks girl.”
Pop set down double cheeseburgers and chocolate shakes in front of each of them. Veronica took a sip of the shake and her eyes opened wide.
“If it weren’t for that shake being the best thing I’ve ever consumed, I’d slap you for insinuating that I’m a Sparks fan.”
“Told you. And if you hate Sparks that much, we just might get along.”
The two finished their meals, discussing movies and books and music. Maybe they weren’t so different after all. It was late, and Veronica noticed that there were no other cars in the parking lot as she got up to pay.
“Do you want a ride home?,” she asked Jughead.
“No. I’ll probably be here for another couple of hours.” Jughead responded from his spot in the booth.
It was 12:30 am, and Veronica could see that the diner was closing in a half hour. She raised an eyebrow, but waved goodbye and walked out to her car. As she drove away, he glanced in her rearview mirror at the lights of the diner behind her. Maybe this town won’t be so bad, she thought to herself.
The next morning, Veronica got up for her first day at Riverdale High. The sense of dread that had previously consumed her had minimized itself, now that she knew someone at least. She left a half hour earlier than she would usually need to, as she was getting a tour of the school this morning. She expected the drab, cramped halls of the 40s-era building. What she didn’t expect was the kind, gorgeous blonde that arrived to give her the tour.
“You must be Veronica Lodge. I’m Betty Cooper.” The blonde girl said, holding out her hand in greeting.
Veronica reached out for the handshake. Betty’s hand was soft. Veronica knew she was a goner. “Yeah I’m Veronica.”
“I like to start my tours with a little bit of history…” Betty began, and Veronica looked at the girl next to her, listening intently as they walked.
The tour flew by. Veronica didn’t remember a single piece of information she was supposed to have learned, but she remembered Betty’s warm laugh, her presence, and how easy it was to be around her.
Veronica’s first few classes were anything but interesting, but she made it through. As she exited the lunch line, she saw Betty wave her over to the table she sat at with a redheaded boy, a boy with perfectly coiffed brown hair and- Jughead? She wouldn’t have expected that, but another familiar face was a welcome sight.
“Veronica, these are my friends Archie-” Betty said as she gestured to the redhead, “Kevin-”, now motioning to the other boy, “- and Jughead.”
“Nice to meet you, Archie and Kevin. Nice to see you again, Jughead.” Veronica greeted as she sat down.
“Wait- you two know each other?” Betty said, a little confused.
“Veronica came into Pop’s last night and pestered me until I told her what I was writing.” Jughead explained.
“That was after you extorted me for a burger and accused me of liking Nicholas Sparks movies.” Veronica retorted.
The two laughed, leaving everyone else a little confused. Veronica explained her night at Pop’s less cryptically and then easily fell into conversation with her new table. She became hyper-aware of Betty’s presence next to her. She began to notice how close Archie and Jughead were sitting, and the way Jughead’s eyes would find Archie’s face when he knew Archie wasn’t looking and laughed a little. She and Jughead really had more in common than she thought. Before the period ended, they had all made plans to meet at Pop’s later.
Veronica drove up to Pop’s to find Betty, Archie, Kevin, and Jughead already sitting in one of the corner booths. She slid in next to Betty and ordered a chocolate shake. It came out quickly, and she sipped it as she fell into the conversation. The night was a blur of laughter, phone number exchanges, and the beating of her own heart when Betty’s hand brushed against hers. As everyone left that night, she noticed Jughead stay behind. This time, she went back to the booth and sat down next to him after paying her bill.
“It’s late. Let me drive you home tonight.” Veronica said.
“Veronica it’s fine. I was planning on staying here for a few more hours anyway.”
“Jughead, we both know the diner closes soon. I noticed the times on the door last night. Why won’t you let me drive you home?”
“Veronica, I’m fine. Go home.”
“Not unless you let me drive you.”
“Fine. You can drop me at the drive-in. I have to pick up something I left during my last shift anyway.”
Thrilled, Veronica headed out to her car, making sure Jughead followed.
“So, are you and Archie like, a thing?” Veronica asked as she started the car.
“No...Why would you think that?” Jughead responded quickly.
“Jughead. I’ve only known you for a day now, but I can see the way you look at each other.”
“At each other?...what? Veronica, we’re just…”
“Come on, Juggie, I’ve seen you look at him when he looks away. And he does the same thing to you.”
“You really know how to start off a friendship.” Jughead said, his voice dripping in sarcasm.
“I’ll drop it. But only if you tell me if Betty’s seeing anyone.”
“I see how it is,” Jughead smirked, “and no, she’s not. But by the way she looked at you, I can tell she’d like to be.”
Veronica smiled, then put the car in park just outside the projection booth of the drive-in.
“See you tomorrow, Ronnie.” Jughead said as he exited the car.
“Wait!” Veronica got out to walk him to the door, “How are you gonna get home after this?”
Just then, as the door to the booth opened, she saw the cot against the wall of the booth.
“Jughead, are you living here?” Veronica asked as she stepped through the door herself.
“It’s just temporary, Veronica, it’s…”
“Jughead, come home with me. You can stay as long as you want. My apartment’s big and my mom won’t care, she’ll just be thrilled that I made a friend here. I’m not leaving until you agree to come with me.”
“One night.” Jughead sighed.