Jughead joined the Southside Serpents shortly after his sixteenth birthday. His father was the club’s president and it seemed only natural he would follow in his footsteps. He practically grew up in the Wyrm and considered the members to be family. Often times, they were more familial than his own flesh and blood.
FP Jones II, Jughead’s father, was in and out of trouble throughout Jughead’s young life. FP’s near constant state of intoxication was a side effect of a lifelong habit he had never been able to kick. His condition took its toll on Jughead’s family early on. His mom left, taking his sister with her, when he was only ten. The last eight years had been met with radio silence from them despite Jughead’s best attempts to reach out. As the years passed, without contact, Jughead grew despondent to the mother who walked out of his life. The despondence slowly permeated every aspect of his life as he grew up and when he finally joined the gang, his tough exterior had transformed from a façade to a deeply ingrained behavioral response.
Betty Cooper was the embodiment of perfection. Between her outstanding grades, involvement in an exorbitant amount of extracurriculars and her duties as a varsity River Vixen, appearances would suggest she had an ideal life. Betty gained early admittance to Columbia before the end of her first semester of senior year and found herself suddenly suffocated by the pressures that came with a pre-planned life.
Her mother’s overbearing tendencies resulted in Betty’s need to be the best at everything. Disappointment was a fate worse than death in the Cooper household and she did everything in her power to live up to her mother’s ever-increasing expectations.
When her admittance to Columbia came in the fall, Betty expected to feel elated. All of her hard work had finally paid off. What Betty didn’t expect, was the sense of melancholy she was met with upon opening the large admission package. She found herself at the end of a road.
Although she should have been ecstatic that the next phase in her life plan was falling into place, she couldn’t help but feel like she had missed out on her entire high school experience. All of her free time had always been allocated to something productive which meant Betty never indulged in the typical teenage behaviors.
She had never attended a single party in high school, never snuck out past curfew, never disobeyed her mother and she couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. So, when the captain of the River Vixens, Cheryl Blossom, announced there was a party at Thornhill immediately after the last football game for the season, Betty didn’t protest when it was deemed ‘mandatory’. She wanted to indulge in the typical high school experience she had missed out on thus far—if only for a night.
The party at Thornhill was already in full swing when Betty arrived arm in arm with her best friend Veronica Lodge. They found themselves in the extravagant kitchen filling red plastic solo cups with something from the keg. The irony of the setting and their current drinkware not lost on either party.
A while later they found themselves outside. Veronica had been looking for her boyfriend Archie Andrews. They expected to find him in the group of Letterman jackets by the pool but no beacon of red hair could be seen. Veronica wandered off in search and Archie was eventually located on the other side of the pool house—well on his way to drunk, surrounded by Reggie and Chuck.
Betty watched the boys’ antics wistfully. She envied their lighthearted exchanges and playful friendship. She was far too serious for an 18-year-old girl and found herself feeling more than twice her age on more than a few occasions. The pressures of the near constant strive for perfection weighed heavily on every move she made.
One of the perks of next to no social life for Betty was that she easily sidelined advances from guys. She wasn’t a complete prude, she had kissed a few guys, had a fling over the previous summer, and went on the occasional date. Betty didn’t, however, have any serious boyfriends in high school. There were plenty of opportunities for her to cross that line over the years with various willing suitors. Betty chose, instead, to focus on her future and save the embarrassment that would surely come with opening herself up to anyone.
Her mother’s overbearing nature was the least of her worries. The teen pregnancy stigma of her sister, the long-lost psychotic brother she found later in life, the crescent shaped scars on her palm, and the sham that was her parent’s marriage weren’t the greatest selection of topics for a first date. So, Betty chose to limit her interactions to strictly superficial and infrequent ones.
She had been standing off to the side of the patio, observing her classmates and their antics. Archie and Veronica were draped over each other, locked in a heated embrace that probably should have been in private. Their actions were an obvious statement of their love for one another and Betty felt her heart wrench in her chest a little.
Betty nursed a crush on Archie Andrews the majority of her childhood. They were next door neighbors and spend much of their free time together. In sophomore year, when Betty finally resolved to come clean about her feelings, the hurricane that was Veronica Lodge blew into town and captivated his attention.
Looking back at it now, Betty knew her and Archie were never meant to be. He would always envision her as the perfect girl next door with the pristine ponytail and spotless white Keds, walking to grade school swapping stories. Betty also now knew she was so much more than that.
Her exterior radiated sunshine and happiness, but the darkness that blossomed inside of her as she got older was only exasperated by the litany of dark events in her life. Veronica, on the other hand, suited Archie perfectly. He had been a known womanizer until her raven-haired friend’s abrupt intervention in their lives. As she watched them from afar, the envy she felt grew out of longing for interaction more so than jealousy.
Betty’s thoughts were interrupted when the door to the house swung open, intensifying the previously muted music blaring from the interior surround sound system.
She twisted her head and was met with a pair of icy blue eyes. Betty froze for a minute, stunned by the vision of the crystalline eyes and mess of inky black hair. He was devastatingly handsome. His hair was unruly, to say the least, poking out in every direction under a strange gray cap. It appeared to be a woolen beanie, vaguely shaped like a crown. Strands of his dark locks fell in front of his eyes and Betty realized she had been staring far longer than socially acceptable.
She quickly whipped around and felt a blush begin to stain her cheeks. She didn’t know if he saw her staring or simply looked past her, like most people did, in search of someone in the sprawling backyard.
Betty stayed rooted to her spot, hanging her head a bit lower and attempting to be as unnoticeable as possible as she tried to calm the warmth rising to her cheeks. By now, she was sure it had transformed from a slight blush to a full on flush - if the heat she felt on her cheeks was any indicator.
Jughead weaved through the crowd of people at Thornhill in search of Jason Blossom. Jason had been the Serpents distributor on the Northside for green roughly a year. The arrangement was always simple, he picked up the order at the Wyrm and returned the following day with payment. Everything had run smoothly up until about a week ago when Jason picked up and failed to return the next day.
They gave him the benefit of the doubt, unable to locate him for a few days. However, when Jughead heard Thornhill’s doors would be open to the public for a party that Friday through the grapevine at Southside High, he knew he needed to make an appearance. It was risky, sure, to come to Jason’s own home looking to shake him down for payment. But when he wandered into the doors, no one in the crowd attempted to bother him. Most opting to turn away, afraid to make eye contact.
The signature double headed snake insignia adorning the back of the heavy, black leather jacket practically screamed that he was not someone to be messed with.
When his quick scan of the interior turned up short, he ventured out the back door. As soon as the door swung open he saw her.
They locked eyes for half a second before she turned away from him just like the crowd inside.
An emerald green gaze was burned into his brain for a second, stilling his movements. She was stunning in every sense of the word. Her golden blonde hair fell loosely, framing her face and the captivating eyes. She wore a Riverdale High cheerleading uniform that was doing all kinds of things to him. The top was short and tight, revealing the thinnest sliver of smooth skin before the waistband of her skirt. The skirt was primarily blue with cut ins of yellow. He imagined, if she twirled, it would look equal parts blue and yellow, but as she stood; the majority blue cheerleading skirt came to an abrupt stop high on her thighs. Her legs were long and lean. Jughead felt his mouth water at the sight in front of him, unsure whether to call it sin or innocence. The door shut behind him and he was snapped out of his reverie.
He debated on his next move as a quick scan of the outside area turned up devoid of Jason Blossom. He could continue on in his search for the kid, immersing himself deeper in the crowd and searching each nook and cranny of the house. Or he could casually approach the vision in front of him. He opted for the latter, reasoning that even if Jason was at the party, he still had time to conduct a more in depth search.
He could have sworn he saw the faintest hint of blush on her cheeks when she realized she had been staring at him before she turned around.
Their eyes only locked for a second, but Jughead had been entranced by her gaze. With no one else around, he walked forward and leaned against the railing about a foot from her. He propped himself up on an elbow, trying to appear casual, and cleared his throat.
“Waiting for your boyfriend?”
She tilted her head in his direction and he caught sight of the previously questionable blush, he had been right.
“Nope.” She popped her mouth with the last syllable and he felt a smile tug at the corners of his lips. She wasn’t waiting for her boyfriend. Good to know.
“He didn’t feel like coming tonight?” He was dancing around the question he really wanted to ask and the way her lips quirked up on one side made him think she knew that.
“He doesn’t exist.” She replied simply.
Betty’s heart was thumping hard in her chest as she tried to maintain her calm exterior. She knew he had seen her staring. Only when he walked over did she notice the Southside Serpent emblem embroidered on the worn leather jacket. It looked heavy, as if it weighed the man down who wore it.
He couldn’t have been much older than her, though he didn’t look familiar in the least. She figured he was a student at Southside High and briefly wondered why he would be at a Northside party.
Betty quickly dismissed her snap judgements about him. She knew not all Southsiders were bad news, she even knew not all Serpents were bad news. Her friend Kevin once dated a Serpent and they got along very well, even at one point considering each other to be friends as well.
Betty’s own sister was involved with a Serpent, so her rash judgement was unfounded and she mentally kicked herself for the ingrained behavior.
When he started asking about a theoretical boyfriend, she just wanted to have a little fun—if only for tonight, she thought. He hadn’t out right asked her if she had a boyfriend. She was surprised he would have cared. Betty didn’t know why he was talking to her, whether it be sheer boredom or a byproduct of proximity, but she didn’t question it. She was instantly attracted to him visually and when he opened his mouth and jabbed playfully, she just couldn’t help herself—she had to play along.
“There’s no way I heard that right.” Jughead tilted his body towards hers as she did the same. They were both now fully facing each other with the crowds left to their peripherals.
“You, blondie, look like the type to be taken.” He saw her mouth transform into a lopsided smile before she captured her plump bottom lip between her teeth.
His gaze was set on the motion of her lip and he hadn’t seen her sneak a glance upward at him.
She knew he was looking at her mouth.
He shifted slightly closer, sliding his hand along the railing, framing her side as she turned further into him.
They were close enough for Betty to see the sparkling facets of his blue eyes.
“Betty Cooper, by the way.” She looked up at him, attempting to divert his attention to anything other than her lack of response to his previous statement.
“Jughead Jones. So, Betty Cooper, care to tell me why you’re standing out here all alone? Surely you have plenty of friends to mingle with.”
“I’d rather be alone than around them right now.” She spoke truthfully. Betty only considered three people her friends—Veronica, Archie, and Kevin.
Veronica and Archie were currently sucking face and she had played third wheel too many times in the past. She was happy they were so in love, but she didn’t need to have front row seats all the time. Kevin hadn’t come, sick at home from the flu. So, as Betty answered him, she realized that she would rather be alone than be with her friends. But, she might rather have company outside of them. His company certainly hadn’t been unwelcome.
“You sure you’d rather be alone?” He was baiting her, hoping she would respond the way he wanted her to
“Well, maybe not completely alone.” She looked down and he saw her lower lip trapped between her teeth. The sight alone drove him crazy and he knew he couldn’t deny her.
“So, Jughead Jones, tell me a little bit about yourself.”
“Well, Betty Cooper, I’m a Southside Serpent, I go to Southside High-”
Betty cut him off with a laugh and shook her head.
“No. I mean you. Not this.” She reached out and gripped a strip of leather between her fingers.
“I obviously know you’re a Serpent, just as you know I’m a cheerleader. But cheerleading isn’t who I am, it’s just something I do. I’m not even sure I like it.” She laughed a little and he was struck by the melodic sound. “I want to know who you are, not what the jacket means.” She released the strip of leather she had crushed between her fingers, leaving Jughead stunned by the sentiment.
They talked for a while, slowly inching closer and closer to each other with each shift. Every movement they made was slow, deliberately taking them deeper into the limited space between their bodies. Her shoulder was touching his and the tension between them rose to nearly unbearable heights.
Her eyes darted down to his lips and he found himself doing the same. He was captivated by her bottom lip, trapped between her teeth again. He leaned forward slightly and began to close the few inches between them when a flash of red hair broke him from his dazed state.
He abruptly pulled back and saw Jason Blossom coming out of the house. He was talking to someone, not paying attention to where he was going, clearly inebriated.
Jughead was conflicted—did he finish his business with Jason, pull him aside in a public section of the party. He knew that was the better option. It was the option that lead to a true resolution of his debt. Jason wouldn’t be able to escape without drawing attention to himself and he wouldn’t want to cause a scene.
The other option though, was so incredibly tempting.
He could turn his head once more and find out if Betty Cooper tasted as sweet as he thought.
She wasn’t just beautiful, Jughead learned over the course of their conversation, she was also extremely intelligent. Her quick wit and comebacks made him genuinely laugh and smile at points of the conversation in ways he hadn’t for years. But no matter how tempting Betty Cooper and her probably ridiculously sweet lips may have been, Jughead knew he needed to finish what he came here for.
“I have to go.” He said quickly before darting down the stairs. Jason had made his way down to the bottom of the stairs and onto the back lawn by the time Jughead caught up with him.
Betty’s eyes followed his back in disbelief. A few moments ago she had just been staring at the way his lips moved. He was so close she could smell him and the air between them was thick with tension.
All she had to do was lean in just a bit further to connect their lips, but she hadn’t. His attention snapped to something else and Betty was left standing there alone.
He said he had to go and chased after Jason Blossom.
Betty couldn’t fathom what just happened. She stood there, still, for a long time before venturing out into the yard on the opposite side from where Jughead and Jason were now engaged in conversation.
She found another keg and refilled her drink as she replayed the interaction in her mind. She thought they really connected. Bonding over their love of the writing and Netflix documentaries.
He surprised her with his charm and boyish mannerisms. She even found herself fond of the beanie on his head. Betty thought, more than once, during their conversation about reaching up and brushing that one curl that continually fell in front of his eye to the side. She refrained, kept her hands at her side, but eventually gravitated into his open arm on the railing.
She couldn’t pinpoint any obvious moments in the conversation where he had seemed anything less than interested.
Jughead knew instantly that Jason Blossom didn’t want any trouble when he approached him. He especially didn’t want any trouble at his parents’ empty house, surrounded by nearly his entire school, at a party he wasn’t supposed to have in the first place.
Jughead knew this had been the right course of action.
The matter of how long it took to collect was left up to his father, the president. Jughead was sent to collect the debt and deliver a message and he needed to confront Jason in order to collect.
He knew the Blossom’s had the money. It was just a matter of getting it from Jason.
Betty had been intoxicating. She caught him completely off guard and nearly derailed his attention entirely before Jason Blossom delivered himself to Jughead.
In the sprawling backyard, Jason promised to go in the house and get the money. Jughead didn’t trust his word and sent the friend Jason was walking with in his place.
Neither spoke while his friend was gone and Jughead spotted Betty descending the back stairs.
She briefly glanced in his direction before scurrying off to the other side of the yard. He watched her get a drink and sip on it as she appeared to be lost in thought.
Jason’s friend came back with cash in hand and paid the debt in full, plus the $50 Jughead charged him for the trouble.
Jughead told Jason the time and place to meet his father for the discussion and patted him on the back as he made his way across the lawn back towards the house.
Jughead had only taken a few steps when he saw a guy start talking to Betty. She didn’t appear to be outwardly interested but the way the boy gazed at her made Jughead clench his fists and pick up the pace. He had no right to the flare of jealousy coursing through his veins, but he was powerless to stop it.
He was a serpent. Hell, soon enough, when his dad retired, he would be the Serpent King. His earlier hesitations with the blonde were pushed aside as he made his way through the crowd. The jealousy that had been bubbling underneath the surface as he watched the football player obviously lay it on thick erupted as he stepped between them.
Chuck approached Betty and she rolled her eyes, earning her a chuckle from him in return. She wasn’t exactly unfriendly with Chuck; or anyone for that matter, thanks to Alice’s Cooper”s daunting lessons on manners and social acceptability. But she wouldn’t have considered them friends.
Betty had been turning down Chuck’s advances for years. He always tried to take her out and she always politely declined.
It came in waves, every few years Chuck would try again to woo her, despite his notoriously bad reputation with women. Betty figured it was about that time for her to shoot him down once again.
“You look hot tonight Betty! Those cheerleading uniforms do something to me.” He was biting his lip and Betty thought about how different his lips looked than Jugheads. Jughead’s lips looked soft, slightly chapped, but welcome, inviting. She shook her head, willing herself to forget the thoughts of Jughead’s lips before she saw him. The very lips in question were mere inches from her face. She didn’t even have a chance to breath before she felt them and knew exactly how accurate her assumptions had been.
A hushed ‘excuse me’ escaped his mouth before registering in his brain, his shoulder pushed her admirer out of the way and his lips sought purchase on her mouth. The pressure of his nose against her cheek pushed her back slightly, making room for him to slide fully between them before sliding his tongue roughly over her bottom lip, begging for entrance.
Betty wrapped her hand around his bicep and tugged him closer, still holding the forgotten drink in the plastic cup. He brought a hand up to cup her face, angling it to deepen the kiss as the other arm slid around her waist, pulling her body flush against his.
The contact of his body against hers caused a jolt of electricity to course through her. Her body felt like it was on fire from the tips of her hair to the tips of her toes and she was consumed by the sensation of his mouth moving against hers, his tongue darting in and out of her mouth and his hands buried in the waves of her hair.
She was even sweeter than he could have ever imagined, the taste of her strawberry lip gloss mixed with the smell of her vanilla body wash created a tantalizing combination.
Jughead forgot the earlier encounter with Jason, he forgot the juxtaposition of his leather jacket to her pressed cheerleading uniform, he forgot the guy he sidelined to get to her and he simply fixated on the feeling of her supple skin beneath his fingertips. His attention focused solely on the girl who was currently nipping at his lower lip.
She tilted her head to deepen the kiss further as he massaged her tongue with his own. They broke for air mere seconds at a time before finding each other again, relishing in the delicious pressure each time they reconnected.
They broke apart slowly, breathless, and Jughead couldn’t help but grin. He stared down at her and lightly pressed his forehead against Betty’s. They were still so close. Close enough that with each inhale of a breath, he caught her exhale and they shared the same oxygen for a long moment before either one of them spoke.
“I wanted to do that earlier.” He spoke softly.
“I wanted you to.” Her tone matched his own as their chests heaved in a synchronized dance.
Betty let herself absorb the moment. She let herself truly feel the excitement of something new, something totally unexpected. She didn’t know what it meant, if it was just for tonight of they would ever even see each other again. For once in her life, she didn’t let her thoughts run away from her. Instead, she soaked in the moment, appreciating his scent – a mix of smoke and soap—and she drank in the vision of his hair, mussed from her tugs and his lips swollen from her kisses. She smiled, no, she didn’t know what it meant, but she definitely wanted to find out.