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You’re the white swan in my photograph

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In the months leading to Archie and Veronica’s wedding, she’s managed to help plan the wedding from afar, telling her best friend that work had been keeping her busy and there was a case that was having her pull all nighters, which wasn’t necessarily a lie but if she really wanted to, she could’ve found the time to fulfill her maid of honor duties with her complete dedication. Obviously she had helped. With the dress, picking flowers, finding a band besides Archie’s friends from college. She had helped with the things Veronica had deemed mandatory. Surprisingly, Veronica wasn’t that hard to work with. She’d half expected her to turn into bridezilla, but she’d been relatively relaxed.

So now here she was, driving to the airport for Veronica’s bachelorette weekend in Vegas. Of course it had to be Vegas. She wouldn’t have expected anything else from her best friend.

Veronica’s life after Riverdale was fairly surprising and even more spectacular than anyone would’ve expected. Hiram Lodge had been arrested. Lodge Industries had been left to Hermione who wanted nothing to do with it. Veronica took over. She went to college and proceeded to elevate the family company to a new realm. Now free of its not-so-legal activities, Lodge Industries was one of the biggest and most successful companies in America, all to due to Veronica and her team of associates.

Another fact that was strangely surprising to her and to everyone was that Archie and Veronica had stayed strong and were the first ones to get married out of all people in their group. She knew people had expected her and Jughead to be married by now or better yet people had expected them to stay together. High school sweethearts and all that bullshit. The King and Queen of the Serpents had fled off to New York for college and then...

Then...

Ah fuck, she didn’t need to be reminded of why they broke up, why she had sold off their apartment after he moved out, why it was so painful to even think about him, how he broke her to pieces, how she broke him, how it broke them.

And now, after five years, she was going to see him. The beanie wearing boy that had climbed through her window with a beautiful smile on his face to kiss her. The boy she fell in love with. The boy that had asked her to be his queen. There had once been a ring on her finger, a promise ring that held the promise of forever. Now that ring was somewhere in a box of memories of the love of her life.

“Betty!” Veronica’s voice makes her smile as she walks closer to her. In a few seconds, she’s wrapped up in a hug.

“Hey, Ronnie.” She laughs softly at her excitement.

“This is gonna be the best weekend ever! Come I was just waiting for you, apparently the busiest woman on this planet, huh?” Veronica smirks, nudging her and Betty laughs softly.

“Don’t worry, V. I’m all yours for the next few days.”

There’s something incredibly strange about seeing people you haven’t seen in years. Since high school to be more precise. She hadn’t really kept touch with anyone other than Veronica and Cheryl. Cheryl was practically family, scratch that, she was family. Juniper and Dagwood had two aunts who loved them very much and two aunts that became very very good friends after all that had happened in that godforsaken town called Riverdale. What she wasn’t expecting was Toni to be there for Ronnie’s bachelorette party, especially after her breakup with Cheryl when they were still in high school. After a few bitter and heartbreaking months, they decided to be friends. Betty knew that it wasn’t all they were but they were just having fun with each other. It was frustrating that they both neglected they loved each other. Now it’s been years and they’re still dancing around the subject, Cheryl saying it’s too complicated to call it a relationship. So it was a surprise when Veronica told her Toni was coming with them.

For a while, in her last year of high school, her and Toni had been friends. Mostly through Jughead but also, they became allies in a gang of men. When her and Jughead moved to New York, they kept in touch, Toni visiting a few times, having dinner at their apartment. Then her and Jughead broke up. And Betty just couldn’t handle talking with one of Jughead’s best friends.

Toni’s different. The pink hair is still there and so is the leather jacket minus the Serpent but she’s different. Her and a Cheryl had teamed up to start a foundation for the community, they helped people get a restart in life, financially and socially, helping Serpents in a life out of crime, helping kids suffering from abuse. It had even started to expand. Not just Riverdale, but other cities too.

If ten years ago you would’ve told Betty that Cheryl Blossom would be doing charitable work, she would’ve laughed but so much had happened since those innocent days of crushes on Archie and milkshakes at Pop’s. Now the class of 2018 was a little bit all over the country, leading different lives, the past now a small shadow of who they used to be, of dreams, of nightmares that were far too many.

“So, imagine what I felt like when the venue calls and tells me they made a mistake booking the dates and that we have no venue. But the B to my V came through with her contacts and got us another even better place. A true angel!” Veronica gushes and Betty smiles softly, taking a sip of her champagne.

“I bet representing some of New York’s richest people gets you juicy secrets. Don’t you represent celebrities and stuff?” One of Veronica’s college friends, Hailey, asks with an excited look on her face.

“A few. But I don’t divulge any information about my clients. And anything they say to me is fully confidential.” She tells the girl. It wasn’t the first time the topic of her job had come up. People were incredibly interested in scandals and in the lives of celebrities and business men and women, Veronica included. “Sorry.” She adds with a small smile.

“I guess some things never change. Still the same Betty, right?” The comment Toni adds with a grin takes her aback, a bit stunned at the direct contact with her.

“I guess they don’t.” She offers Toni a small smile. Veronica eyes Betty carefully, like she’s afraid seeing Toni might trigger something in her best friend. And it’s not a misplaced concern, it does evoke memories of him, of them. But Betty can take it. She doesn’t need Toni to think about Jughead. She does that all by herself. Especially when she returns to her empty apartment, sleeps alone in her bed. It doesn’t matter where she goes, it doesn’t matter that she buries it all in a box, it still haunts her. She knew when she fell for him. Jughead Jones had cemented himself in every inch of her body and no matter how hard she tried, there was nothing that could be done to undo it.

“Anyway how’s Archie dealing with nerves?” Betty questions, knowing her childhood friend must be a nerve wreck. She remembers how he called her before proposing, a nervous mess. She had helped him pick out the ring and had given him the pep talk on the phone before he popped the question. Archie had tendency to get nervous before big things, like when he performed a song he wrote in front of the whole school for the first time.

“We made the decision to not talk to each other these last two days before the wedding but my sources tell me he’s okay, nervous but a good kind of nervous.” Veronica answers. “Thank god we’re going to Vegas, that way we’re away from them. I don’t think I’d be able to control myself.” She sighs dramatically causing the girls to laugh.

“Don’t worry, V. One night and we’ll be on our way to the wedding.” Betty tells her.

The conversation continues. Topics flowing easily, as the girls catch up on each other’s lives. Betty’s mind keeps thinking about Jughead. She’d tried to avoid any thoughts about him during the last few weeks, but now, two days away from the wedding, it’s all she can think about. It’s been years since she’d last seen him, since the day they gave up on each other. And it’s also been 5 years and three months since what brought them down happened. She thinks about it everyday, as she lies awake in her bed at night, it’s all she can think about. She’s not sure it’s something that will ever go away, the pain that twists her heart, she isn’t sure if it got better with time, if the emptiness she’d felt that day was less now than it was then. She doesn’t know how to answer.

Now she’ll see him. The love of her life. She’s not sure if she can take that either.

The rooms are nice. Veronica had rented a villa for them, Betty thinks that maybe it isn’t so bad at all. She’s happy for her best friend. Incredibly so. Her and Archie make an amazing couple, they’re amazing together, strong, supportive. It almost makes her feel guilty for how jealous she is. Because Archie and Veronica made it through high school, Archie and Veronica made it through college, through life after college and Jughead and Betty didn’t. It feels like for the last five years she’s been watching her life through a window. She watches herself live without really feeling anything, she feels so little nowadays, watching her life is like watching a really shitty movie, the kind you just sit passively watching without really paying attention when there’s nothing else on TV.

“Hey, Cooper.” She hears someone come sit beside her on the lounge, she glances their way and it’s Toni.

“Hey, where’s everyone?” She smiles softly.

“They’re drinking champagne in V’s room. Shouldn’t the maid of honor be there?”

Betty laughs softly. “The maid of honor needs to send a few emails before she’s fully free for the next few days.”

“Workaholic, huh?” Toni raises an eyebrow causing Betty to roll her eyes.

“I’m just busy. There’s this case that’s driving me nuts.” She shakes her head. “My client is suffering from domestic violence from both his parents. His father’s an alcoholic and his mother is barely home and when she is, she beats him up. But because they’re rich assholes, they might get away with it. It’s fucking ridiculous.”

“It’s a kid?”

“Teenager. Sixteen years old.”

“The world’s a fucked up place. And he can pay you?” She questions.

“He’s not paying me. I’m doing it pro bono.” Betty answers. She doesn’t tell Toni the real reason why she took the case. She doesn’t tell Toni that her client reminds her of Jughead’s life, that the kid reminds her of him and she drilled into her head that she had to do it, that she had to save him, to help him in every way she can.

“Well, I hope it goes well.” Toni says gently.

“Thanks.” She nods, as shuts her laptop. She makes no effort to stand up, just looking out at the city in front of them. “How are you?”

“I’m good.” Toni smiles. “Cheryl and I decided to give us another shot.”

Betty grins. “It was about damn time, Toni.” She nudges her. They go back to being silent. “I kinda missed you, you know?” She confesses quietly and Toni looks at her.

“I missed you too, Cooper. Even your tight ass ponytail.” Toni jokes and they laugh together. “But it’s okay. I know why you had to stop talking to me. I understand.”

“I...” Betty sighs. “I’m sorry.”

“No, no, no, Betty. You of all people have nothing to be sorry about.” Toni shakes her head.

“But I do. About him, at least.” If Toni’s surprised that she mentions Jughead, she doesn’t show it, she just lets Betty keep talking. “I pushed him away. I could barely look at him without breaking down, Toni.”

“Betty, it was complicated. People deal with things in different ways. You guys just forgot to do it together.”

“It destroyed us. Both of us.” Betty’s voice cracks and the tears that had welled up in her eyes, start rolling down her cheeks.

“I think what happened to you guys would destroy anyone, Betty.” Toni is gentle in the way she says things, almost as if no time had passed, there’s a protective nature that Toni has that Betty has always valued, a comforting kind. She’s kind in the same way Jughead has always been, life hadn’t always been kind to her but she that didn’t turn her cold, it just made want to make people’s worlds a little better so they would’ve have to go through what she did. “I think maybe it’s time for you guys to talk. About everything.”

Betty doesn’t say anything for a moment and then she sniffles, wiping her tears. “I don’t know if I can. Maybe it’ll just break me all over again.”

“Or maybe it’ll be as close to closure as you can get.”

Chapter Text

The thumping bass line of whatever song is playing with mix of the blinding strobe makes her head ache. She’s never been much for clubbing or partying of any sort. In the first few years of college, she had gone to too many parties Veronica had dragged them to. And she’s not much of a drinker either, preferring to nurse a drink for the night, no need to get drunk. The only time she ever really drank and got actually drunk was in high school and still, then she hadn’t been wasted. She thinks it’s about control. There’s something about waking up one morning with no recollected of what happened the night before that scares her. She likes to be in control of her actions, she likes to have the filter that prevents her from saying things she wouldn’t say when she’s sober. Betty’s also seen what alcohol does to people, not just the person drinking but the people around that person. She spent too much time aching with Jughead’s pain, relapse after relapse, FP was now clean from what Betty knows, but she saw Jughead crying, she held him in her arms. What had happened for most part of his life left too many scars. So she didn’t drink apart from a glass of wine or a cocktail at once. 

 

Veronica, however, seemed to be enjoying the rounds of shots. The bride herself had put it best: “I’m gonna get fucked up like I’m in college tonight!”. And so she did. Betty couldn’t help but laugh at her best friend. Veronica was very cuddly when she was drunk, half the time she was hugging you and telling you she loves you and then she was partying, dancing on top of the speakers. In college, on one particular crazy night, her and Veronica had gone out. The night ended with Betty removing Veronica from a founding and then at the last bar they went to, stopped her from letting everybody do body shots of her. Her and Archie had been on a break. She had flirted with nearly every guy that had looked her way. Veronica regretted it the morning after, as Betty held her hair while she puked her guts out. ‘She’ll regret tonight too’, Betty thinks. 

 

Toni and Cheryl are making out in one of the VIP booths, things getting a little R-rated. And Betty smiles to herself, the image although she had only glanced at them for a second, had reminded her of them in high school, young and feisty and dramatic. She was happy they had finally decided to be with each other again. Cheryl deserved it, so did Toni. Dancing around feelings only gets people hurt. 

 

Veronica’s college friends, one of them her friend too, were worse than Veronica herself. It was always hard to believe whenever they told her that Veronica was the least crazy of them. But looking at them all together, she gets it. She’s pretty sure Zita, her friend, was about to go full on topless in the club if Veronica hadn’t pulled her down. Last time she had been next to Hailey and Veronica, Hailey was asking for drinks at the DJ booth. She’s given up on trying to see where all of them are so she focuses on Zita and Veronica. 

 

“Bettsy! Betty! Elizabeth!” Veronica squeals, pulling her in for a hug. “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m getting married!” 

 

“Zip it, Cooper.” Zita adds, pointing a finger at her, as she dances. 

 

“You are, huh? How about we go back to the hotel room? We can finish off the night there, V.” She tells her carefully and Veronica narrows her eyes at her.

 

“You tryna seduce me, Elizabeth? There’s a ring on my finger, you sly dog.” Veronica smirks. 

 

Betty laughs softly, shaking her head. “Yup, time to go.” 

 

After gathering up the troops, Betty with the help of Toni and Cheryl, who were mostly high off each other, managed to get them out of the club and walking or wobbling on the way to the hotel room. 

 

“B, can you believe that I’m gonna be someone’s wife?” “My children will probably have red hair. That’d be cute as fuck, right?” “Archie’s so hot, Betty. And he’s a god in bed.” 

 

Veronica’s monologue continues throughout the way and as they reach the hotel lobby, Betty sees the mop of red hair in an unbuttoned shirt, holding on to a friend. It takes her a few seconds to process who the friend is. 

 

Jughead. 

 

Jughead. 

 

It’s Jughead. 

 

Veronica interrupts her train of thought when she takes of running. 

 

“Archie!” She screams and Archie’s already grinning when he wraps his arms around her. “Baby, What are you doing here?” 

 

“It’s my bachelor party, Ronnie.” He drags out the words with a lazy grin on his face. 

 

“Did you go to a strip club?” She asks and Archie looks like deer caught in headlights. “Cause I wanted to be cliche and go to one.” 

 

“We were going now, baby. Wanna be cliche together?” 

 

Jughead’s staring at Betty, his heart frozen in his chest. She supposes he is as unprepared for this as she is. She hates that she can read him like a book still. Hates that she knows that he doesn’t know what to do. She knows he’s battling with wether to approach or not. And suddenly she’s replaying their last night. The lost look on his face, both of them crying on the floor, backs against the wall. She remembers pushing herself off the wall, she remembers telling him that she couldn’t handle it anymore. She remembers his broken voice saying he couldn’t handle it too. She feels the pain she felt as she watched him leave, packed suitcases. She feels the cold kitchen floor on her back as cried herself to sleep there. 

 

“Betty...” She hears Toni’s soft call from beside her but she cannot tear her eyes away from him. He’s not wearing a beanie and she feels her legs go weak because she recognizes the shirt he’s wearing. A dark red polo, which she had bought for him. She tells herself it’s not the same one, that he bought another one. She focuses everything on the dark red polo shirt. She creates about a million different stories about him buying a dark red polo shirt because for the life of her, she doesn’t want to think about him keeping a shirt she had bought for him, she doesn’t  want to think about his smile when she gave him the shirt. (“I think it’s dark enough so it doesn’t mess with your aesthetic, Juggie.”) At least it lets her busy herself with something other than their ending. Her heart is drumming in her chest. 

 

“TO THE STRIP CLUB!” Veronica yells and Betty looks away from him to look at her. “LET’S MOVE, LADIES!” 

 

 

She’s in a bathroom stall, face buried in her hand. It smells awful and it feels gross to be in there. But she needs a second to breathe. She’s been there for over ten minutes. 

 

“Betty?” It’s Toni because of course, why wouldn’t she be there? As one of the people who knew what happened, she would know Betty would be feeling like absolute shit right now. 

 

She unlocks the door and gets out. Toni smiles sympathetically, reaching for her hand. 

 

“I thought I could do it, Toni. But it just feels like I’m getting three steps behind from what I’ve worked for in these past five years. I’m doing better. It’s going to ruin it.”

 

“Stop lying to yourself, Betty.” Toni shakes her head and reaches to wipe a tear from Betty’s cheek. “If seeing him is causing this to happen, then maybe you aren’t doing better. Maybe you need to do this.” 

 

She leans against the wall, sighing as she rubs her face. There’s a few seconds of silence, Toni coming to place herself beside Betty. 

 

“How is he?” Her voice is small, Toni has a hard time hearing her because of the loud music. But she hears her question. And it makes her heart ache. She knows Betty cares for the people she loves, sometimes more than she really should. Even in her pain, she’s asking about his. 

 

“I’d say you’re on the same boat except he really wants to talk to you.” Toni tells her and she nods. “He’s been seeing a therapist for a while. He needs that to move on, to heal better.” 

 

“That’s what my therapist says.” Betty murmurs. “Maybe I have to, right? It’ll help me to talk about it with him.” 

 

“I think it will, Betty.” Toni reassured her. “Come on, let’s go back out there. Veronica and Archie are getting a joint lap dance.” 

 

Betty chuckles softly. “It’s going to be such a lovely morning.” 

 

“I’m getting war flashbacks.” Toni rolls her eyes. 

 

They walk together out there and she spots Jughead immediately. With a sudden courageous feeling cursing through her body she crosses the room to him. And in seconds, they’re face to face, closer than they’ve been in five years. He looks a little older, no beanie on his head, hair trimmed, his eyes stare back at hers with the same gentleness they always have. 

 

“Hi.” She can’t hear him, but she reads the words that fall out of his lips. She takes a deep breath as he leans closer. “Do you want to talk?” He says in her ear. She nods her answer and Jughead offers her a small smile, then gestures with his head towards the door. He grabs his jacket from the chair and there’s a million unspoken words in his eyes as he looks at her again. And it feels so strange, because of how simple it looks. A simple question, an easy smile and a hand on her back as he lets her go in front of him. 

 

The door opens and they step out into the cold air. 

 

Don’t run.  

Chapter Text

 

“I love you.” He mumbles against her back, pressing a soft kiss to her skin. He feels her back shake with laughter, music to his ears. “I’ll love you forever, baby.” 

 

“Forever.” She mumbles and he turns her to face him, laying between her legs. He grins down at her. “What?” 

 

“I still can’t believe we’re doing this.” He whispers, kissing her lips slowly. “In New York. Just you and me. Away from Riverdale. There’s not a day I don’t think about how lucky I am.” 

 

“I know, Jug.” She smiles. “It feels like a dream. I once thought I’d never get out of that town. Now we’ve been here for three years and it keeps getting better.” 

 

“We’ve got our whole lives to make it even better, babe.” He grins. “But first, breakfast. I’ll be right back.” He pecks her lips before climbing out of bed. He glances back at her with a grin on his face. 

 

“Don’t take too long, handsome.” 

 

He makes his way towards the kitchen with a happy smile on his face. And he thinks that this is what being happy really feels like. It’s calm, it’s waking up beside her every day and feeling her skin on his, it’s falling asleep with her, it’s coming home to her, exhausted but so content because it’s home. Being with her feels like being home, even if he never had one to begin with. This is real happiness and it’s the small things, it’s having no place else you’d rather be. And he wants to do it forever because there’s no one else besides her. 

 

He busies himself with breakfast, brewing the coffee and making two omelettes. And it’s been three years since they moved into the apartment to start their new lives. He can’t help but marvel at the memories they had made in this place. 

 

Dancing barefoot in the kitchen to an old song, the kind Veronica made fun of them for listening to, telling him they’re an old married couple before they’re even married, but it’s Nat King Cole and he thinks maybe, maybe that’s the song that will play at their wedding as their first dance. He had never thought about marriage before her, and it isn’t scary anymore, how she changed many of his thoughts and decisions, how suddenly they were a unit. But marriage seems right, not at that moment but after college maybe. It used to make him think of his parents, of Betty’s parents and how most marriages he knew closely had broke one way or the other. He can’t imagine that happening to them. There’s nothing that can break them, whatever it was. They took on serial killers, gang wars, mob bosses. Jughead believes they’ve had more hardships in their short life than most people in their lifetimes, so now it’s smooth sailing, whatever happens, they can figure it out together. 

 

The memories the apartment holds are good, all of them. He can’t really think of bad memories other than days when school sucked and they were exhausted and moody, even then the best part of those days was coming home. He thinks of all the dinner parties with Archie and Veronica. Veronica who had become not only Betty’s best friend, but his true friend as well. He thinks of Archie playing guitar on their couch on Betty’s birthday, all of them singing along to the song. He thinks of his birthday, the one day he hated so much and how they had turned it around. Now his birthday meant Betty baking his favorite cake and a trip to his favorite bookshop/coffeehouse, then dinner with Archie and Veronica. And he can’t remember being this happy ever and he never wants it to change. 

 

He pours coffee down their respective mugs and places the omelettes on two plates, placing all of it on a tray before grabbing it and making his way back to their bedroom. He smiles at the pictures they have up on the walls. 

 

Walking in, he’s confused at the sight in front of him. Betty’s dressed in her running attire, tying up her shoelaces as she sits on the edge of their bed. 

 

“Hey, what happened to breakfast in bed?” His voice seems to startle her and she looks up at him with a forced smile. 

 

“Just really need a run. I’ll be back soon.” She stand up too quickly and that kind of smile isn’t meant for him. He hates it, because every time she’s smiled like that, things were very wrong. 

 

“Betty-“ 

 

She pecks his cheek and walks quickly out of the bedroom. He’s stunned for a moment before he snaps out and places the tray down on the bed, running after her. But she’s already out the door. 

 

She’s been gone for two hours. 

 

Two whole hours and he’s been sitting on the couch, going through a mental checklist of what could have been wrong. And he comes to the conclusion that he has nothing. Because she was fine this morning until he went to make breakfast and there’s too few things that can happen in the space of fifteen minutes. At least things that would change her demeanor that much. He calls Veronica.

 

“Ron, Betty hasn’t come by, has she?” He asks. 

 

“No.” She tells him. “Why? Is everything okay?” 

 

Jughead sighs. “I don’t know, Ron. One minute, she was great then I went to make breakfast and she was just rigid. Fake smiled at me before leaving for a run. It’s been two hours.” 

 

“Have you tried calling her?” You can hear the concern in Veronica’s voice. 

 

“A millions times. She doesn’t pick up. I don’t know what happened. I’m going crazy, Ron.” He groans and just then he hears her fumbling with her keys. “She’s here. I’ll call you back.” He mumbles quickly into the phone, standing up. 

 

Her eyes are bloodshot. And she looks so upset his heart aches. It seems as if the sight of him makes her cry again and he crosses the room to her, wrapping his arms around her and she hugs him back just as tightly. 

 

“Jesus, I was so worried.” He mumbles into her hair. “Talk to me, baby. What’s going on?” 

 

“I think we should sit, Jug.” She murmurs softly and he furrows his brows, growing more concerned by the second, she takes his hand and leads him to the couch. He sits down, she sits beside him, legs on him as she buries her face in his neck. 

 

“You’re worrying me.” He tells her, squeezing her hand. 

 

“I got a call this morning.” 

 

 

It feels strange. She doesn’t know how to start the conversation and they sit on a bench outside for a while, people stumbling on the sidewalk behind them, cursing loudly. The cars go by and it’s Vegas, it’s loud and it’s messy and Betty thinks maybe they don’t deserve to have this conversation at five in the morning outside a strip club. They deserve to sit in a nice coffee shop or have this conversation privately, his place, her place, her hotel room would be better than this. 

 

“I don’t know how to do this.” He speaks up, glancing at her. 

 

She lets out a breath. “This is torture, Jug.” And he chuckles, but it’s pained, choked out and she hates every moment of it. 

 

“How are you doing?” His question comes out so softly and she knows what he means, knows he’s not asking her about her job and her daily life. This isn’t the chit chat she had with girls on the place to Vegas, it’s not meant for that. She wonders how long they can go without mentioning it or acknowledging it. The big it. Him. 

 

“I’m better.” She answers simply. Because she’s not okay but she is better. She can live, breathe a little better now but there’s not a day in her life where she doesn’t think about it. “You?” 

 

“I’m living.” He mumbles and she nods. 

 

“They were wrong.” She tells him. 

 

“What?” 

 

“When they told us it’d get better eventually. The pain would subside. It hasn’t.” She shakes her head. 

 

He sighs. “Yeah, it hasn’t.” He rubs his face and she looks at him, now no longer under the red light of the strip club. The bags under his eyes are still prominent, but not as much as they were back then. She’s glad he’s better, however that works. She hopes he’s sleeping better, she hopes he’s finding things in life that make him happy. 

 

“I’m sorry.” She says. “We needed each other and I locked you out.” 

 

“And I didn’t fight enough.” He turns to look at her. “I let it happen. I was just...so lost, Betts. I was so lost. And I couldn’t reach you. I’m so sorry.” 

 

She sniffles. “We should’ve been together.” 

 

“But we weren’t.” 

 

“I need you to understand-“ 

 

“You can’t keep pushing me-“ 

 

“That I can’t-“ 

 

“Away. You have to talk to me so-“ 

 

“I can’t handle this anymore!” 

 

There’s a defeating silence that follows after. And just when Jughead’s sure his heart can’t break anymore, she does it all over again. And it feels like someone’s gripping his heart, crushing it with their bare hands. This can’t be it. But he can feel it, deep down. He can’t do it anymore either. 

 

He’s not sure how long they sit there, in that broken room. The wooden crib broken in the middle of them as they sit on opposite sides, backs against the baby blue walls. And they’re crying, silently and there’s nothing quite as painful as the look on her face, she’s a ghost of the girl he loves and he’s a ghost of the man who loves her. And it’s changed everything. The crib is as broken as they are. And he knows that maybe this is irreparable, just like the crib that was never used. The one he broke because the door was open and he saw it and he was angry at everything. Because it’s unfair. It’s so fucking unfair. So he wrecked it and she hated him for it. Yelling at him for breaking it. He yelled at her. He told her it didn’t matter anymore. But it wasn’t about the crib. He blew up. She exploded. All the things inside of them had been a ticking time bomb and now they’re sitting amongst the rubbles. 

 

“I can’t handle this anymore, Jughead.” And it breaks his heart again because he feels the same. He can’t stand to hear her crying to sleep, ignoring him everyday. He can’t stand to walk by the nursery everyday. He doesn’t even recognize himself, Archie had been going on and on about how maybe they should move out of the apartment and go live somewhere else, somewhere that doesn’t remind them of him. Jughead’s not sure it’s the apartment anymore. It’s them. They’re destroying themselves. 

 

“I can’t handle it anymore either.” His voice is hoarse from yelling and he feels exhausted. 

 

“You have to go.” She forces herself to say. “Or I will. Whatever you feel is best.” 

 

He nods and he feels like screaming. He doesn’t want to leave her. He wants to hold her but he can’t. He needs an out. He needs to leave the room. 

 

“I’ll go.” He whispers. “I-“ He doesn’t say what he wants to say but she doesn’t seem to notice, her eyes are fixated on the blue teddy bear on the other side of the room. He wants to ban all teddy bears from this earth and it’s such a stupid thing  to think. Because they’re running from the pain. And his legs are failing, he’s about to collapse, just as they are.

 

Betty knows they already have. And she doesn’t think they can stand back up. 

 

 

 

“I regret it.” She confesses. “Telling you to go. But I also know that back then I thought it was the right thing to do. Because we were destroying each other when we were trying to heal from losing...” There’s a lump in her throat. The image is suddenly too clear, it knocks the air right out of her lungs. She can see him. His face forever in her memory. She never wants to forget. He’s so perfect in her mind, so real. “I haven’t talked about it in so long.” She sobs and she feels the urge to reach for him, hold him to her. “It’s been five years and it still hurts so much, Jug.” He pulls her into his arms and it feels like being home, wrapped up in him, his smell. “It was so unfair.” She chokes out. 

 

“I know, I know.” He mumbles, rubbing her back. “I’m right here. I’m here.” 

 

“I was just so wrapped up in the guilt.” She wills herself to tell him. “Before he- before he died, I was so scared. I kept thinking about how hard it would be to raise him when we were both trying to make ends meet. I was finishing up law school, keeping up with my internship and I was so determined and focused. Next thing I know I’m being told I’m pregnant. And I wished for it not to happen for a while cause we had so much to do before that part of our life together. But I came to terms with it, having him. I fell in love with him, Jug. It was so real.” 

 

“I know. It would’ve been hard but we would’ve made it.” His tears start pouring out. And he’s rocking her, trying to comfort her and himself at the same time. She missed him, it felt so unnatural to live without him, she only truly realized it when he touched her again. It hurts to have him, to see him, to be reminded of what she lost. But it’s worse to be without him. “I know we would’ve, Betts. It’s not your fault that we lost him, the universe just seems to have an obsession with fucking up our lives.”

 

She smiles sadly. “He was beautiful.” And Jughead looks at her, their eyes meeting in a deeper way than they ever had and he tilts his head, before placing a hand on her cheek. “He was the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. Our boy.” 

 

“Yeah...” He nods, sniffling, tears streaming down his face. “He took after his mom.” 

Chapter Text

She doesn’t know how long they stay there, holding each other, sitting on a bench outside a strip club. But it’s warm in  his embrace and he’s talking to her, telling her everything he felt. He tells her about how powerless he felt when she was rushed into the hospital, how looking at their baby with no hope of him getting better broke him, how hearing her at night after that day, nightmare after nightmare left him with no sleep for months. He even tells her about what happened after they broke up. He woke up each night reaching for her, found himself awake plagued with thought of her, plagued with the image of of their baby’s hand wrapped around his finger and plagued with dreams of what could’ve been. In a day, he had lost everything. First his son and then the love of his life, slowly at first and then all at once. He had watched the light fade from her eyes the moment the doctor told them their baby boy wouldn’t make it. Through everything they had been through, he thought he had seen her darkest moment, but this beat everything. She didn’t say anything to him until they sat in front of the incubator, the baby hooked to machines, small and fragile.

 

He’s perfect. She had always hated that word and he knows that but he can’t think of any other word to describe their baby. His small body lying there, still breathing but not for long. 

 

An anomaly. A fucking anomaly that hadn’t been detected during her pregnancy. She had found out she was pregnant late, because she was stressed with school to notice that she was carrying their baby, their baby had grown inside her in an unusual way so her stomach hadn’t really started expanding except for the last month. They only had one appointment, only heard his heartbeat once, two pictures of his sonogram. He has a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy. His heart is weak, enlarged, unable to pump blood, that’s what he registered when the doctor told them. Too fragile to get a heart transplant. 

 

“Hi, baby.” He hears her whisper but he can’t look at her when their baby’s right there. “I love you.” She’s rubbing his cheek gently. They can’t hold him because that would only decrease his numbered hours. “I’m sorry.” She cries and he feels paralyzed, can’t even think to pull her into his arms to comfort her. He can’t really think of anything else besides the fact that their baby is inside a box, struggling to stay alive even for a few hours. 

 

“He has your lips, Betts.” He whispers. “He looks like you.” He tells her and she chokes back a sob. 

 

“He deserves a name.” Betty says and he nods. She reaches for his hand and they lace their fingers together. “I always liked Oliver.” 

 

The last month had been filled with baby books and furniture catalogues. They had a list of names and Oliver had always been one of Betty’s top choices. It had all been so scary, figuring out how they were going juggle everything together to raise him. Now all of those concerns were meaningless. None of that mattered, because they wouldn’t get to figure it out. they would’ve made it work. If they had the chance, they would’ve made it work. He’d have a good life because they would make sure of it. Now it’s hopeless, just waiting, hoping for more time with him. 

 

“Oliver Cooper-Jones.” He testes it out. It’s a great name. But there’s a bitter taste in his mouth. His son will never grow up to call him dad. His son will never write his name on a school paper. His son will never grow up, there won’t be birthdays and Christmases with him, he’ll never hear his voice, his cries and the pain is so strong, it’s paralyzing, his whole body hurts. But he doesn’t show it, he locks it inside of him, willing himself to push through a few more hours. “I like it. It’s a good name.” 

 

“Yeah...” She breathes out, eyes trailing back to their baby. “It was always my favorite name.” 

 

Every word they say is painful to voice, it’s like with every moment he’s trying not to break down, to take it in while he can, while Oliver is still breathing. But with each minute, all he can hear is the ticking of the clock in his head. Their time is numbered, his baby’s hours are numbered and he never thought this much pain and love at the same time was possible. 

 

 

“You’re scaring me, Betts.” He murmurs, eyes looking into hers with concern etched across his features. 

 

She takes a deep breath. “It was the doctors office.” Jughead’s eyes widen and she can almost see the possibilities running through his mind so she’s quick to continue. “I had some tests done a few weeks ago and the results came back. It was just a regular check-up but they found something.” 

 

“Are you sick? Betty, what did they find? What is it? What’s wrong?” In any other occasion, she’d find his rapid words funny but this time she couldn’t. 

 

“I’m pregnant.” Then it’s all so as soon as the words are out there. She watches his expression change from concern to surprise to shock. “Jug?” She calls out, reaching for his hand when he didn’t respond. 

 

“Betts...” He breathes out. “I thought you were going to tell me you were sick.” He presses a kiss to her head and she can feel the relief radiating from him and she pulls away to look at him. 

 

“Did you hear what I just said, Jughead? I’m pregnant. We’re having a baby.” She tells him, placing her hands on both sides of his face. 

 

“Baby, that’s better than any outcome I was conjuring inside my head.” He says and she looks at him, incredulously. 

 

“Do you understand what’s about to happen? How can you be so nonchalant about this, Jughead?” She jumps off his lap, standing on her feet. 

 

“I’m with you!” He grabs her hand, standing up as well. “I’m right here! We can do this! That is if you want to keep it.” 

 

Betty hesitates for second, but deep down she knows her answer. “I do. I want to keep it.” 

 

“Then we can figure this out, okay? It’s a little earlier than we were planning on having kids but c’mon,” He smiles. “It’s not a bad thing. It’s just a surprise.” 

 

“You hate surprises.” She lets herself smile up at him. 

 

“Yeah, well, I love this one.” He wraps his arms around her waist. “You’re gonna wreck all those soccer moms when they realize you’re the hottest mom ever. Can you imagine the jealously they’ll feel when you stroll through the park with your hot boyfriend and your gorgeous baby? They’ll be fuming.” 

 

She’s laughing loudly and her heart’s fluttering at his cute face as he tries to make her feel better and it works, she feels a little lighter as he jokes around with her. Her heart flutters and for the first time since the phone call, she allows herself to look at it from different perspective 

 

“You’re an idiot, Jug.” She shakes her head. “Start working on those dad jokes, please.” She pats his chest and he chuckles, pressing a kiss to her lips and then her expression turns serious again. “This is a real thing, Jug. Like an actual baby is inside me right now.” 

 

He just grins. “And it’s gonna be the most gorgeous baby ever.” Jughead murmurs against her lips, pecking them once before smiling at her again. “We can do this, Betts. I know we can. We’ve survived too much, this is a piece of cake now.” 

 

“It’s a piece of cake that will last for the rest of our lives. No return policy.”

 

“And it’s gonna be the best cake ever, just you wait.” 

 

She decides that she likes this Jughead better than she likes the boy she fell in love with back in high school. He’s lighter now, his darkness left behind in that sleepy little town. They’ve had their share of pain, too many things went wrong. They had become stronger, together through all of it. Jughead was happy now, he had her and if their future was coming a little earlier than expected, so be it. As long as he had her, they’d be fine. 

 

 

“You know, I bought something when you were pregnant.” He murmurs. “It was this music box thing, you could have it custom made so it played whatever song you wanted. It played that song we used to dance around the apartment and the ultrasound picture was inside. I still have it. I go to his grave every day and play it then I...read to him.” It’s like a slap in face. This man was the most wonderful person she had ever met, so giving and kind. Always had been and now he’d been going to their son’s grave everyday, trying to keep the memory of him alive, despite how fleeting their time had been. “It helps.” 

 

“I go every week.” She murmurs. “When I can. I’m surprised we never saw each other.” 

 

“I saw you once.” He confesses and she lifts her head off his shoulder. “I didn’t have the courage to come up to you so I just waited.” 

 

She sighs softly, looking down at their hand, intertwined ever since he pulled her into his arms. “I don’t know if I would’ve been ready to talk to you then. I probably would’ve just bolted, Jug.” She looks at him, noticing the tears streaming down his face as he stares at the cars passing by. She reaches up, her hand wiping his tears gently and as soon as she touches him, he returns the same intensity that’s clear in her eyes. 

 

“Sometimes I- I think it’s worse that we got to see him alive, that we got to see him breathing, moving. He was right there, with us, alive and then he just-“ A painful sob escapes his mouth and the look on his face breaks her heart all over again. 

 

“Jug-“ She pulls him even closer and he wraps himself around her, his head on her chest as he cries. 

 

“Our baby, Betts. He was our baby and he got ripped away from us.” He says between sobs and it hits her, she hadn’t seen Jughead crying like this. It hits her that she hadn’t noticed his pain when she was so wrapped up in her own. Even at Oliver’s funeral, even when he passed away at the hospital, he had just held her with tears streaming down his face while she screamed. She had selfishly pushed him away when he had lost his son too. 

 

They hadn’t cried together. They cried alone, separately, they hadn’t grieved with each other. He didn’t hold her, during that time. He never knew that much distance was possible when you lived in the same place. They didn’t know how to do it, how to go back to how it used to be before. They couldn’t. It was impossible because everything had changed, in a single phone call their worlds had turned upside down. First, because they would be having a baby. And then, because their baby died. The reality they had been setting themselves up for had been snatched away from them before they could even figure out what to do about it and there was so much pain, they couldn’t take it. 

 

It had taken five years to get here. Betty knew for certain in her mind, that she wanted him back in her life because just his arms around her again was enough to lessen the pain. 

 

 

The morning after, Betty feels just as exhausted as Veronica. She’s in the lounge and all the girls are still sleeping but she can’t, having woken up after only four hours of sleep, the usual amount she got. It’s a beautiful day outside and the night before feels like a distant dream, it doesn’t feel real, but there’s a missing weight on her chest. They had told each other everything as if no time had passed, they went back to the same place of trust in seconds and Betty’s scared of what the daylight will bring. The night is safer, in between the hours of most of the world’s lives. The awake part of life is much harder and it’s much more real than the night. But she feels something that she hadn’t felt in a long time. She wants to see him again, wants him to hold her like he did the night before. 

 

Surprisingly, Veronica is the first to wake up but Betty already has the things she usually needs set up for. Thank god for VIP room service. She spent too much time with college Veronica, she knows the drill. So when Veronica emerges from her room, she doesn’t even say anything, just points at the table and she can almost see the hint of smile on Veronica’s face. She chuckles quietly to herself, it’s hangover Veronica has always been amusing but she hasn’t really seen her in a long time. 

 

“I feel like death. Like death had sex with torture and their offspring is an evil Annabelle doll screaming inside my head.” Veronica groans as she flops down on the couch, cupcake in her hand. 

 

“That makes absolutely no sense.” Betty says, with an amused smile on her face. “We have to be at the airport at ten. I texted Archie and their jet leaves at eleven. He said, and I quote because it’s too cliche not to, ‘I’ll meet you at the alter.’” 

 

Veronica’s eyes open and she gasps. “Holy shit, Archie!” She groans again. “We saw him last night.” 

 

“I’d say you did a little more than seeing him.” She smirked, taking a sip of her coffee. 

 

“So much for not talking before the wedding.” Veronica sighs. “Oh my god, Betty!” She startles her, Betty nearly dropping her coffee. “Jughead. He was there.” Betty sets her coffee down at the table as Veronica looks at her concerned. “Are you okay?” 

 

Betty smiles softly at her friend. “We talked.” 

 

“You did?” 

 

She nods. “We’re working through things. There were a lot of tears but we did what we should’ve done years ago, we talked to each other and we covered pretty much everything.” 

 

“You talked about...” She trails off. 

 

“You can say his name, Ronnie.” Betty tells her and Veronica seems to be searching her face for anything that tells her she’s not okay. “And we did. We talked about Oliver and what we were feeling at the time and what we feel now.” 

 

“And you’re okay?” 

 

“I am.” She nods. “And obviously, it’s not as though everything is magically fixed but it’s a start. The first step at least, so we can heal.” 

 

Veronica smiles softly, her hand reaching for hers. “That’s good. I want you to be happy, B. And I know you haven’t been, for the past five years. And neither has Jughead. I truly hope that this is a beginning for the two of you, maybe not as a couple for now or ever depending on what you want but I hope you keep talking, as friends or as whatever you wish to be. You went through something horrible and I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like, to lose your baby like that but you have keep on going and not in the way you have for the past five years. It’s not as though you’re dishonoring Oliver’s memory by being happy. Happiness should be the way to honor him. I think he’d like that, seeing his parents happy again, right? Still as in love with him as when they first saw that little blob on a screen.” 

 

“You’re right.” Betty says and she doesn’t even know how she can still cry after crying so much the night before. “I never thanked you. For everything you did for me. Everything you’ve done.” 

 

“Betty, you don’t have to. You would’ve done the same for me. I know that. And if you really want to thank me, just be happy please.” Betty pulls Veronica into a hug, holding her friend tightly against her. 

 

“I love you, V.” 

 

“Love you too, B.” 

 

Chapter Text

He can’t really pin point when he fell in love with Betty Cooper. It has always been something that was there from the beginning. Even when Betty was crushing on Archie thinking it was love. Jughead had always been around, happy when she paid attention to him even for a few seconds when he was younger. When they got older, he was used to Betty being in love with Archie, he was used to his love for her being his secret. When his life went downhill and his mom left, Betty had been there with a smile and cookies. And if he hadn’t been so wrecked inside, he might’ve gotten butterflies in his stomach when she held his hand and hugged him. He thinks maybe that was when he fell in love with her, sure she would never feel the same way. But then again, he feels as though he’s loved Betty Cooper his whole life. He loved her when she invited him over to her house because she knew he wasn’t feeling okay when he was ten. His dad hadn’t been home in two days and him and his mom had found him outside the Wyrm. He loved her when she told Cheryl off when they were eight because she made fun off of his clothes. He loved her when Archie was mad at him because he didn’t want to play football and she had stayed with him so they could read a book together. They were twelve. And he knows with certainty that he loved her with his whole being when she believed him, even when no one else had when they were sixteen.

He’s loved Betty Cooper his whole life. And he’ll love her for the rest of it too. He doesn’t know how to stop. Five years without talking to her and he’s still as in love with her. He can’t go another five years without her. So he decided as soon as he closed his door, when he got to the hotel room the night they talked, that he would never let her slip away from him again. If she ever tells him to leave again, he won’t move unless it’s towards her.

“Are you okay?” Archie asks. Most of the guys are asleep so it’s just them. They’re on the jet on the way to New York and Jughead’s kept mostly to himself. He’s been in his head and Archie has been watching him silently while talking to everyone else. He knows when to give his best friend space so he did and waited until it was quiet to ask him about the previous night. “Jug?”

Jughead offers him a soft smile, as Archie sits beside him on the empty seat. “Yeah, man. I’m good.”

“You’ve been quieter than usual today, I just...I wanted to check.” Archie’s face is filled with concern, the concern of someone who was there to see him hit rock bottom. Archie had watched his two childhood best friends as they were in the worst place they had ever been in and he watched them break down. At Oliver’s funeral, they both looked unrecognizable, in a way he had never seen them. He had thought he’d seen their worst, when they were in high school but he had never seen them so destroyed. Betty couldn’t speak and Jughead just stared blankly, such a lost look on his face, Archie couldn’t think of comforting words. Archie and Veronica had been the only ones who knew what happened at the time, they had been the first people Betty and Jughead had told about the pregnancy in the first place. And Archie could remember how happy Jughead had been then. He knew Betty was excited and scared, but Jughead, despite the circumstances, had been radiating happiness. Even Archie himself had felt a little excited at the prospect of having a little one added to their group. And this baby would’ve been his and Veronica’s godchild. It all sounded so special, the idea of life happening. It was heartbreaking when all that was taken away from them in such a horrifying way.

“Betty and I talked last night.” Jughead says. “I’m just processing.”

“Yeah, I vaguely remember it.”

Jughead chuckles. “Yeah, you were too busy getting a lap dance to notice we were gone.”

Archie grins, laughing softly. “I can’t believe I actually got a joint lap dance with my future wife.” They laugh quietly, Jughead shaking his head. And then Archie turns serious again. “You talked about everything?”

Jughead nods. “We did.”

“And that’s a good thing, right? That you’re talking?”

“It is, yeah. It’s progress.” He tells him. “I want her back. I can’t do it without her anymore, Arch. Talking with her just made me realize how we were both just running from our feelings, from everything that happened without really dealing with it.” He pauses. “I miss her. She’s always been the one for me and it’s hard to believe I spent five years thinking I had lost her forever.”

Archie smiles softly. “Then you go get her, Jug. Just be careful, please. You guys love each other so much and I don’t think what you guys have will ever disappear, but what you went through was awful and you both need time to heal.”

“When did you get smart, Archibald?” Jughead smirks, judging his friends.

“I think I just grew up.” Archie says, with the same boyish grin on his face he’s always had. “I think we all did.”

“You’re a good friend, Archie.” Jughead tells him, sincerely. “Thank you for everything.”

“We’re family, Jug. I’ll always be here.”

Her mind is replaying all their memories together. Everything she had tried to suppress over the last five years seems to pop up and play in her mind over and over again, like a broken record. Their time in Riverdale had been filled with teenage promises and reckless thinking and passion but it hadn’t made their love any less real or true, it just meant that they used to act differently back then, overwhelmed with how they felt with each other, when danger seemed to appear out of nowhere, it was instinctive protectiveness. They were always on edge in that town, the only moments they felt safe was when they were with each other. And it had been unfair. They were just kids trying to figure themselves out and suddenly they had to grow up, one thing after the other, the next one worse than the last and whoever wanted to call them puppy love, couldn’t, because they had been through things no kids should have to go through. High school should’ve been about football games, the Blue and Gold, stupid parties and SATs. Instead, it was filled with fear and pain, from a psychotic serial killer to a blown out gang war to Hiram Lodge becoming the Pseudo-Godfather of Riverdale. She wasn’t even sure how they all managed to get to college.

And college had been what they wanted. Normal, frustrating classes and a job at a library, new friends who were normal, people with normal lives, people that complained about how the water in the dorm rooms wasn’t working and how the food in the cafeteria tasted terrible. They had laughed at their new friends, in the way of someone who knew what was worth wasting time complaining about, and they engaged in a normal conversation and there weren’t any murderers for them to catch and they didn’t need a leather jacket with a Serpent on the back. They didn’t have many complaints, the sun hit the window in their bedroom just at the right time so they could watch the sunset, the kitchen was big enough to dance to the sound of the old record player Betty insisted on buying, their neighbor was a wonderful man called Victor, who told them stories about his wife because they were the only ones who truly smiled at him when they said good morning. The pace they built up in New York was just right after Riverdale. It was life, a normal one.

Her mind keeps traveling back to the image of a boy in a grey beanie, smiling at her as he climbed up to her window. In the middle of everything that was starting to go wrong, he was a beacon of hope. His smile, a comforting hand on her shoulder. Falling in love with him had been so easy, so right. There was no way to stop the freight train she had found herself on. She had never stopped loving him. It’s physically impossible, he is carved in her skin, in her body and soul, he is buried in every memory she holds close to her heart.

She cries during the wedding. Veronica speaks about Archie in a way that’s so pure and beautiful, she’s not sure what to do but cry. From a girl who couldn’t even say ‘I love you’ to a woman eloquently speaking at her wedding, staring at the eyes of her lover. She promises him forever and Betty can’t help but dart her eyes over to Jughead only to find him looking right back at her.

They hadn’t talked since that night, the wedding keeping them both busy and apart. But she hadn’t stopped thinking about him. She wanted to talk more, she wanted to just have him beside her, in her life again. She didn’t care how. It had never really registered in her mind how much she had missed him until she got a taste of what it felt like to have him again. As much as she hated how fast it happened in her heart, talking to him felt like coming home, the same she always felt with him, the pull between them making her always feel as if they belonged together. She just needed him to feel the same way.

“Dance with me?” Betty hears from behind her as she’s staring out into the ocean, standing on the porch.

When they had been inside at the reception, they had exchanged few words, not comfortable speaking in front of all those people but their eyes had spoken for them, soft smiles thrown at each other, knowing smiles when each made their speech as maid of honor and best man. The stories told known by both.

“You don’t like dancing in public places, Jug.” She teases.

He smiles, extending his hand. “I do when it’s with you. Always.” She takes his hand and takes a step towards him. His arm wraps around her waist and she sighs softly. “They look happy.” He murmurs and she follows his eye line to where he’s looking at Archie and Veronica slow dancing just as they are. “Who would’ve thought, huh? Archie and Veronica married.”

Betty looks at the way Veronica laughs at something Archie’s whispering in her ear. “They deserve it. Every bit of it.” He nods.

“They do.” He says quietly and she looks back at him. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay.” She answers quietly.

“I thought a lot about us since we talked.” He tells her, as they sway to the sound of the music coming from inside the building. “Five years was too long to go without you, Betts.”

Betty smiles. “I know.” She pauses for a second, looking into his eyes. “I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t pretend you’re a stranger or that you aren’t the man I grew up with, who I lived my life with. I can’t pretend you aren’t the person who knows every bit of me, Jug.”

“What are you saying?” He asks.

She takes a deep breath and stares into his eyes. “I’m saying that five years was too long. And I don’t wanna waste any more time.” They stop swaying to the music. His eyes search hers for any uncertainty but he doesn’t find it, he finds her vulnerable and strong and determined. “Ronnie said something to me yesterday. And she’s right.” Betty lets go of his hand so she can grab his face. “We should honor Oliver by being happy. He deserves that at least. We’ll never forget him. He is and he will always be our baby. But we don’t have to be miserable forever. And for the past five years, I’ve been numb. And when we talked, it made realize how much I want you in my life. You’re my best friend and you always have been. Five years without you was the worst especially after Oliver. I need you.”

Her heart rate slows down when he pulls her closer, placing his forehead on hers. “I never want to leave you again. I never want to live in a world I can’t talk to you or hold you. I love you. I’ll never stop loving you. No amount of time can get me to stop. I love you, Betty Cooper.”

She smiles, her eyes tearing up. “Jughead Jones...I love you.”

Toni’s the first to notice they’re gone. She’s been on the dance floor with Cheryl the whole when she goes back to the table without finding them neither of them in the building. She looks around the room to check one more time before smiling to herself. They deserve to have each other, they belong together. She doesn’t really say anything to anyone about them being gone, she waits until Veronica catches on.

As soon as Veronica notices they aren’t anywhere to be found, her and Archie share a knowing look before Veronica looks over at Toni who smiles back at her. “Do you think they’ll be happy now?”

Veronica turns to look at her husband. “I hope so. I don’t think I could go any longer with them being that miserable. I want my core four back together.” Archie chuckles, kissing her cheek.

Toni and Cheryl walk up to them, hand in hand. “You guys think they’ll ever figure out we set them up?” Toni asks as they sit down at the table.

Veronica takes a sip of her champagne. “If this works, we’ll tell them at their wedding.”

Chapter Text

His lips carve sweet words on her body, as they trail down her skin, just as they’ve done a million times before. Only now it’s different. She feels a new sort of fire inside of her as his lips crush against hers, he ignites her soul, beyond her body. He takes his time, savoring each moment his skin touches hers and it feels otherworldly, to be with each other after so long.

Wrapped up in his arms, she revels in the feeling of warmth, of safety. It was now nearly four am, they had left the party at around one. Rediscovering each other’s bodies, moving together as one had been better than she remembered. Perhaps it was because it had been so long since they had been together, perhaps her heart was so happy, anything with him would have sufficed but she knows sex with Jughead has always been amazing. Sure, teenage sex had been what it was and even though he made her feel good then, it didn’t compare to what he made her feel as they started to grow up. Discovering what the other liked, figuring out what worked best for both of them had been everything. And as they started experimenting more and more, their sex life had been incredible. But this...this had been something else entirely on its own.

There’s a song playing on the speaker, something from Jughead’s playlist and she recognizes it although she can’t name. It’s a slow hum in the background as they lie together. And she remembers their Saturday mornings, lying in bed, too wrapped up in each other to ever leave each other’s arms. She thinks of breakfast in bed, with his smile and his omelettes, with her green eyes filled with happiness and the comfort of their bed in their small New York apartment. And it was perfect, so perfect to lie there.

When she was pregnant, she used to dream of Saturday mornings with their baby, the sound of little feet running to their door and the sound of laughter echoing throughout the house. She hadn’t thought of that in forever, of the image of their future that once could’ve been. When Oliver had been in the safety of her womb, the promise of happiness had been clear in her mind, despite all her worries and knowledge of how hard it would’ve been. There had been a future filled with chaos and laughter and diapers and a baby boy with his eyes and her blonde hair. All of that had vanished into nothingness. And it felt so empty. She felt empty. Void of anything that mattered.

In Jughead’s arms now, she finds that she feels alive again. Some pieces that had disappeared return back to their rightful place and she feels warm and safe again. With each time he kisses her, the numbness begins to fade and it’s replaced with happiness. And she feels calm, there’s no noise in her mind, there’s only him beside her. She wishes she had never told him to go. She wishes he had never made the decision to walk out the door.

She wishes for many things. She wishes to go back in time. Five years ago. She wishes that she had found out she was pregnant sooner, that maybe if she had, her baby would’ve been five by now, with words falling off his lips and a smile just like Jughead. She wishes things had been different.

She wishes for many things. None of those things but one can truly happen.

She wishes to be happy. For once, just happy and content. She wants her problems to be simple, like working too much or not having time to go to the grocery store, like a stupid cold or anything. She’d be happy with small problems. She can handle those problems people make a big deal out of. Those are the easy ones.

“Do you ever think we were too young back then?” She asks, her head rested on his bare chest as they lie there together.

He presses his lips to her head. “I know I’ve always loved you, Betty. No matter how old I was, I know it was real.”

“No, not like that. I mean, we were in love we just never really knew what to do with all of it.”

He stills his hand, the one that’s been running up and down her back. He’s thinking, she can feel it even with her eyes closed. It takes a few seconds for him to gather his thoughts and she likes that. She’s always liked the fact that he listens to what she actually says. She had spent most of her life having her decisions made by her, but Jughead stopped, listened and told her his thoughts. It was always one of the things she loves most about him.

“I think I’ve always known and felt right about us. Always, never a doubt in my mind. It wasn’t love that tore us apart. It pain, plain and simple. We didn’t know what to do with the pain and we didn’t realize that the solution was right there in front of us.” He murmures and then moves her carefully, flipping them over so she’s lying on her back. “We wasted time, Betts. But our kind of love doesn’t disappear, it didn’t. Right now, I just I want to be with you, I want to make up for all the time we lost.” He presses his lips to hers and she smiles, tracing finger across his jaw.

“I think it’s a soul thing, you know?”

He lets out a soft laugh. “A soul thing?”

“Yeah, I mean our souls never stopped being with each other for the last five years, just our bodies and our minds. When our bodies caught up to the distance of our souls, it just made sense in our minds.”

“Are you being cheesy?” He smirks. “Cause that gives me permission to go full on lame, like romantic comedy level lame.” He raises his eyebrows and she laughs, shaking her head.

“Please don’t, it’s too painful, Jug.” She grins and he smiles back at her. There’s a shift in the air when he looks at her, his smile softening, his eyes burning into hers. “What?” She questions, noticing.

He breathes out. “I missed you so much.”

There’s a lump in her throat because of the way he’s looking at her. It’s been so long since he’s looked at her that way, in a happy way, a loving gaze. Those three months after Oliver was gone, he hadn’t looked at her like the boy he used to be. It was a sad look, there was so much pain in his eyes, in their eyes. She wondered what they had looked like to anyone from the outside, two parents with no child, filled with loss and pain and suppressed screams inside. She wondered if they had looked the way they were feeling at that time. It was something she never really talked about with Archie and Veronica. About Oliver, about him dying. Especially Archie.

She couldn’t remember ever talking to Archie about Oliver. Her and Ronnie had, vaguely, because her therapist had strongly advised her to do it with someone and she didn’t know how to do it with Archie. Archie had always been there, not one moment did she ever feel as though Archie hadn’t supported her, them. But there was always something that stopped her from talking to him about it. She could imagine the look on his face perfectly and she hated that pained look, she hated it on Archie. She liked Archie better with his smile and his bear hugs. Archie had never been really good at comforting people, he always got this lost look on his face whenever she cried. He never really understood that just standing by her side was enough. So she didn’t talk about Oliver to Archie. She wondered if Jughead did.

“I missed you too, Jug. So much.” She whispers, as he presses his forehead against hers. “I never want to be without you again.”

“You won’t be. No matter what happens from now on, I’m never getting out the door like I did.”

“I’ll never tell you to go again.”

She’s alive again.

She dreads the moment they part. She has work as soon as she’s in New York and she knows that once she’s there, it’s all systems go. She’s a busy woman in an exhausting job she loves and he’s working at a magazine he hates, but ultimately has to live by with it. He’s still trying to get his book published, he had told her, but things weren’t really working on that front. He has two jobs, not out of necessity but because he needed to do something he actually liked otherwise he’d go crazy. The one at the magazine offers him a nice enough salary for his small studio and the one he loves, which was the library on his street. The owner is an old woman, his neighbor, she had asked for his help since he always talked about books with her and he couldn’t say no. Besides he felt less lonely with books around him. And it gave him time to write.

It’s nine when they leave her hotel room. They make love one last time before eventually taking a shower together and leaving. He goes to get his things from his room and she waits for him in the lobby. They’re scheduled on the same flight, they’re the only people who had requested the earliest flight because they had work.

It feels strange, if she’s being honest. Being with him is as strange as it is familiar. They hold hands as they walk through the airport and it’s like no time has passed, it all happens naturally, they don’t really think about it and Betty’s scared. She’s so utterly terrified of ever losing him again, she has to remind herself constantly that she has him now. That’s what matters. There’s nothing stopping them from being together. But there’s always that nagging voice in the back of her mind. Telling her that they aren’t the same people they used to be and as much as they love each other, sometimes love isn’t enough. It isn’t enough most of the time.

His smile tells her differently and it sends a feeling of warmth through her, as he squeezes her hand softly when they’re waiting for the plane. She leans into him when he lets go of her hand to wrap an arm around her shoulders. It makes her forget every single doubt she has going forward.

“Will you go on a date with me?” His questions catches her off guard and she laughs softly, looking up at him.

“We have been on dates, Jug. It’s not like we’re starting from scratch.”

“We have. But it’s been more than five years since our last one. I want to take you on a nice date, Cooper. Pretend we’re broke and in college and I saved up enough money to take you to that nice Italian place you love.” He turns her body to his so his hands are placed on her hips and she smiles.

“Broke, but happy, remember that?”

He smiles in recognition. Obviously, scholarships only did so much for you. And they struggled to make ends meet back then. It had been one of her main concerns when she had found out she was pregnant. They struggled with just the two of them, adding a kid to that mix would’ve been chaotic. She thinks she’d rather have had the kid and the chaos.

“At least now we can be financially secure and happy.” He teases and she grins, pecking his lips.

“I want to be happy.” She murmurs and he sighs softly, rubbing her cheek.

“I promise we will be, Betts. We deserve it.”

Betty has her head stuck in paperwork the minute she steps inside the office. She was currently working on four cases at the same time. Two the usual kind of complicated, one easily solvable and one that was driving her crazy. She was trying to go through it methodically as always but her personal phone had been buzzing with sweet and funny messages from Jughead all morning and she had tried to answer each of them but she was wrapped up in work, with two meetings with her team in the span of an hour and then another meeting after lunch with a client. All the prep for each meeting was taking her longer since she hadn’t been able to work at home because she came straight from the airport. And although she likes the chaos, because she usually manages to get it under control easily, today, she’s distracted. And she can’t even be mad because the reason she’s distracted is good. It’s a wonderful, beautiful reason that puts a smile on her face.

“Sierra, can you to send me the file from the Carter case as soon as possible. I have that meeting with her after-“ She cuts herself off when catches sight of the dark haired man who she’s been in love with since she was sixteen. He’s wearing that same grin on his face as he leaves the elevator and spots her.

“Ms. Cooper?” Sierra, her secretary calls out and Betty looks back at her.

“Yes. The file. Send it to me, please.” She answers shortly and then walks towards him as he walks towards her. She ignores Sierra’s smirk when she sees Jughead and smiles at him.

“What are you doing here?” She questions, pecking his lips quickly.

“Lunch.” He shows her the brows bag he’s holding and it’s from a diner they used to go to in New York, the only one which had burgers that tasted remotely like Pop’s. She hadn’t been there in years. “You mentioned you had too much work to actually go out to lunch so hi, I’m lunch.” He grins.

“You didn’t have to, Jug.” She shakes her head.

“I worry about you when you say you have no time to eat so this is for my own peace of mind.” He says.

“Come on, let’s go in my office.” She takes his hand, leading him.

“Ms. Cooper, the Carter file should be in your email, I’m going to get my lunch and I’ll be back in twenty.” Sierra says when they pass her desk.

“Thank you and you can take a longer break if you want. I won’t need you until the meeting.” Betty says with a smile.

They enter her office and Betty shuts the door behind them. Jughead looks around, a bit surprised at how nice everything is. Betty’s really at the top of her game and there’s a pang of pain in his chest when he realizes he wasn’t there to watch it happen. Her office has an amazing view of New York and it suits her, the whole thing is so her. Powerful, yet contained.

“You really do work at the fancy building, huh?” Jughead grins at her, his pride overpowering his pain over not being there.

“Did you ask Archie where I work?” Betty rolls her eyes. “He always says it like that.”

Jughead laughs as he sets their lunch down on her desk. “I did, yeah. Did you just send your secretary to a longer lunch break? You do know secretaries are supposed to ease your load, Betts.”

“I like to do things a certain way. Sierra is great but some things are mine and mine alone, I have to figure a couple of things out about a case.” She sighs, as she comes to stand beside him by the window. He wraps an arm around her shoulders and she melts into his embrace.

“You sure you’re a lawyer and not a detective, Cooper?” He teases, kissing her head.

“It’s close to it.” She laughs softly. “Come on, let’s eat.” She says and they sit at her desk, after she clears every file that’s on top.

“Ronnie’s right, you know? You work too much.” He tells her softly, as he takes a bite of his burger once they’re sitting down.

She rolls her eyes. “I’ll take a break sometime. I aim to win, Jones.”

“Oh I know that, baby. I wouldn’t expect anything else from you.” He chuckles. “Anything I can help you with? This may not be a murderer, but we’ve always been a pretty great team.”

“You’re right, but I’d probably get fired if I showed you any of these files.” She says with a smile. “It’s fine though, I’ve won worse cases.”

He smiles softly at her, eating his burger and she remembers him at seventeen. They’re sitting in a booth at Pop’s and everything’s going wrong. Archie’s in jail, Veronica can’t go five minutes without snapping at someone, the Ghoulies are winning, Hiram Lodge is powering through everything they can think of to stop him and Betty’s mom and sister are in a cult. Serpent King and Queen, on their last year of High School and it’s so wrong. They sit, eating in silence and Jughead looks so tired, but he smiles at her, sitting beside her and she feels like crying when he laces their fingers together.

There had been so much noise then, the silence was a much better companion than any words any of them could’ve thought of.

“Hey...” She scoots closer to him.

“Mmmh?”

“I love you.”

He pulls her in, pressing his lips against hers. “I love you so much. And I’m so happy I get to do this with you again, Betts.”

“I promise we can do it for the rest of our lives.”

“The rest of our lives?” He asks softly, with a grin.

She nods and then adds with a smirk. “It’s in the contract.”

“You mean the marriage one?”

She chokes on her coke and he laughs loudly. “Hold your horses, honey. I may love you till do us apart and all that shit, but with the amount of divorce cases I’ve had this past year, you’ll propose and I’ll probably say no.”

He smirks. “We’ll see.”

“It hasn’t even been twenty four hours since we got officially back together, Jug.”

“Eh,” he shrugs. “I’ve loved you my whole life. And I’m just as sure as I was five years ago that you’re the love of my life. No rush, I’ve got forever to change your mind.”

Chapter Text

Mom, it’s me.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile like that. Like you do when you’re with dad. You look beautiful.

I’ve been watching you since I left, mom. You didn’t smile again until you and daddy talked. I’m glad you do now.

You’ve forgotten many things, mom. You forgot about how my legs grew, my arms, even my heart became huge, mom. I was with you for seven months and I loved you, your safety, your warmth. The memory of me is painful, I know, and our love is unhappy and you feel like you’re drowning when you think of me sometimes. All because I couldn’t stay long enough to smile back at you. All because the coldness of the outside has hardened your skin.

Maybe if you remember what it felt like when dad rubbed your stomach when I was inside, maybe then you wouldn’t fill your nights with nightmares. Maybe then your tired eyes would be filled with joy. I wish I could still feel your happiness, mom. The same kind of happiness you felt when you heard my heartbeat. Or when dad kissed you after you picked the color of my room. If only you knew how I love the color blue.

Look, do you want to hear me?
I’m still the boy that fell asleep before your eyes. I’m still the boy who wrapped his hand around your finger, who you felt inside you. I still remember the way it feels like to hear your heartbeat. And I hold you so close to my heart.

But you know that the night is long and I can’t return to your arms like you wish I would. I can’t hold your hand and I can’t tell you I love you.

I haven’t forgotten anything, mom.
I keep your voice inside of me.
And I leave you my love.

Goodnight. I’ll sleep in your heart forever.

•••

It’s a beautiful day out. It almost makes her feel a bit bitter, because of the memory the day holds but she focuses on Jughead. His hands on the steering wheel, his glances at her every five seconds, his easy smile making her feel a little bit at peace, his lips pressing against her skin as they step outside, hand in hand. He looks beautiful in the sunlight for someone who always preferred the darkness. She always figured it was that way because in the past he didn’t have any other choice

She feels as though she knows everything all too well. It’s been five years of visits but it doesn’t really hurt any less than it did the first time. She doesn’t make it past fifteen minutes without crying. It’s different this time though. Jughead’s holding her hand now, it keeps her steady, just as it keeps him. It’s there as a reminder that maybe things will be okay somehow. She knows the pain will never really go away but maybe it can get better, maybe they can make it okay for one another.

She doesn’t remember Oliver’s funeral. It’s a strange blur in her memory. She knows there were only four people there. Archie, Veronica, Jughead and herself. They were the only people that truly mattered, the ones who had experienced the joy of finding out that a new life was walking into theirs, the ones who experienced the heartbreak of having it taken away in such a cruel way.

She remembers coming home. That was the worst part. Coming home and having nothing there. The apartment almost looked dark as if the air had decided it had lost something too. Oliver’s nursery was still set up in what used to be the office. They had painted the walls, built the crib, bought everything they would’ve needed. And the door had been left wide open when they left to go to the hospital. As if it was waiting for their baby, waiting for the sleepless nights with their baby boy in the crib, wide open as if it was some kind of joke. She thinks she remembers Jughead slamming the door shut when she was in bed.

He hadn’t slept that night. She hadn’t either but he hadn’t even made it to the bedroom. He had sat on their couch the whole night in the dark as she lied in their bed. They should’ve held each other on that first night and every other painful night that followed.

Jughead knows there’s something about her today that feels different. She’s been too quiet since he picked her up from her place. She’s holding his hand a little tighter, almost as tight as his chest feels as he drives up to the cemetery. There’s a faraway look on her face. He hadn’t expected anything else really. He felt out of it too. It was the first time since Oliver died that he was with her on his birthday. He usually went two times. His birthday and the anniversary of his death which was two days later. He knew Betty only went on his birthday, she had told him so.

Being with her on this day felt right. Their boy would’ve been five by now. It felt right to talk to him. His mom and dad together as it should’ve always been.

She likes the way the soft breeze brushes past the trees, Jughead’s holding flowers with one hand and holding her hand with the other. They don’t really talk today, but she likes that, it makes her feel calm. She feels a bit out of breath when they finally make it to Oliver’s grave. And it hurts. So bad. It’s been five years and it still hurts so bad that on what was to be the best day of her life she got the worst news possible. It’s not fair that she didn’t get to see her baby grow up.

It’s been a month since they’ve been back together and things have been good. They go on dates, they stay at each other’s houses, they smile more and it’s so good. It feels right, like it was supposed to be. They talk about Oliver. A lot more than either of them did before. They feel a lot better now when they say his name.

“You wanna go first?” Betty asks, shakily and Jughead nods, squeezing her hand.

He takes a deep breath, crouching down. “Hey, Buddy. Happy birthday.” He murmurs. “Mom and I are here. It’s different now, buddy. Like I told you. We’re back together and we are... healing. And we want to be happy. I don’t think you would’ve wanted us to be miserable forever.” He pauses, his throat tightening. He sniffles. “I wish you were here. Five years old and causing chaos. Making your mom and I crazy. I’d give anything to have you, buddy.” Jughead sits on the floor and Betty follows, throwing her legs over him as he wraps his arms around her. He presses his lips to her hair. “We have to move on. Keep on living. In a real way. You weren’t the end our story, you were the longest chapter and the most painful one. But you also showed how much love you can have for someone, the extent to which your heart goes. The kind of love I still feel for you will forever be cemented in me. Forever.”

Betty’s sitting silently against him, face buried in his neck. Jughead keeps talking, but Betty can’t bring herself to say a word just yet. She likes to listen to Jughead telling their baby about how his parents got together. He talks about Riverdale, their childhoods, their summers by Sweetwater River, their nights sitting on a booth at Pop’s and there’s so much love in his voice, Betty can’t help but smile a little as she takes in every word he says.

“Your mom was, still is, the smartest person I know. And she’s beautiful, you took after her on that front.” Jughead presses a kiss to her forehead and she shakes her head.

“You took after your dad.” She murmurs. “You had his lips, Ollie. And his nose. You were the most beautiful baby ever. I wish you could’ve had your daddy’s smile.”

“And I wish you would’ve had your mother’s eyes.”

They place the flowers on his grave. And they don’t say anything else. They sit there, absorbing everything. It feels different this time around. It feels like a page has turned and Betty’s heart grows wide with hope for the future. They will always remember what they lost, but they have so many brighter days ahead.

They leave with one last look at headstone.

‘Oliver Cooper-Jones’
2023
Our little angel

It’s Thanksgiving. And as usual, Alice, Polly and the twins are spending it in Mew York with Betty. At some point, Riverdale became something Betty ran from. She hadn’t really been back since Christmas three years ago, which was when she bought the new apartment. It was big enough for all of them, after all, it was just them. The kids did make it a little chaotic with their shenanigans but Betty enjoyed it. It was better than the heavy silence that slept permanently in her life.

She had told her mother about Jughead. About how they were back together. She had never, however, told her mother about Oliver. Her mother never really asked why her and Jughead broke up. After years of controlling Betty’s life, after high school, Alice had mellowed out and she didn’t push Betty about anything, she just let her decide wether or not she wanted to talk about it, there was no pressure to be perfect, no pressure to be the way Alice wanted Betty to be. For years, Betty pushed the Jughead topic as further away as she possibly could. Alice had tentatively tried to ask about it once but was shut down immediately.

Jughead is joining them for Thanksgiving. He’s spending Christmas with Jellybean in New York. His dad used to come around but now, he just stays in Riverdale with his new girlfriend. Jughead visits him sometimes, but his relationship with his dad had always been rocky and it hasn’t been that good in a while. So for Thanksgiving, he’s with Betty. It seems right, she’s at the top of the list of the things he’s thankful for this year.

He’s sleeping beside her. And he looks so peaceful, she feels a sense of calm take over her. Some days, she’s overwhelmed by how much she loves him. How much she’s loved him since she was sixteen. She’s spent so long loving him, it’s become a second skin. And just when she thinks she can’t love him anymore, he smiles at her and she fall all over again. She’ll love him forever, she knows. They can’t be apart ever again. Damn the universe, they belong together.

“You’re staring.” He murmurs, his lips stretching into a small smile.

“I can’t help it.” She whispers as he opens his eyes. “Morning.”

“Morning, baby.” He leans in to press a soft kiss onto her lips. “You ready for today?”

“You ready to see two energetic nine year olds?” Betty smirks.

“I don’t know how Polly does it.” Jughead chuckles.

“She’s a pro, to be honest. And she has James now, so a pair of extra hands now.”

“His name really had to start with a J, huh?” Jughead raises his eye brow with a teasing grin on his face.

Betty’s eyes widen and she hits his bare chest. “Oh my god, Jug! What the fuck?” She tries not to laugh, but fails miserably. “God, we’re awful...” She shakes her head as their laugher dies down.

“Nah, we’re amazing.” He tells her with a smile. “Dark humor and all.” He adds and then pulls her closer. “I love you.”

“I love you, baby but we really need to get up. They’re arriving at eleven.”

“I really hope you’re right about Alice.” He groans and she laughs.

“You’ll be surprised, babe. Trust me.”

Jughead’s jaw drops and he’s growing more and more surprised with each moment he spends with Alice Cooper. There’s an unfamiliar softness to her and no matter how many times Betty had told him she had changed, he had never quite believed it. But now, sitting on Betty’s couch, watching Alice with Juni by her side, the little girl cuddling with her grandma, as Alice talks to Betty, Jughead is filled with the feeling of warmth. He could have never imagined Alice Cooper, the woman he knew since he was a kid, with such kindness and openness. Betty isn’t tense around her mother like she used to be. She was right. He was surprised and he has never liked surprises better because his girlfriend can finally find comfort in her family.

Juniper and Dagwood are nine year olds and he finds it crazy. And they call him uncle Jug the same way they call Betty, aunt Betty. Which has Betty whipping her head to them because it’s been five years and five years ago, they were four, so sure maybe kids remember stuff, but what’s the actual probability of nine year olds remembering Jughead that way. Jughead doesn’t seem to mind, though. He seems utterly content when Dag throws an ‘uncle Jug’ in the middle of a sentence about video games. She’ll have to talk to Polly about it, because surely, her sister had said something to the twins. And it’s not that she’s panicked, maybe just a bit because it’s been a couple of months of being back together with the love of her life, but because Jughead’s part of the family, in a glimpse, he was back in like he never left.

“Do you need help, honey?” Alice questions when Betty gets up to make dinner. Betty nods, with a smile and they move to the kitchen.

There’s a look on her mother’s face and she knows there’s something on her mind when they’re chopping vegetables and the carrots turn out a bit sloppy.

“You okay?” Betty asks, glancing at her mother.

Alice doesn’t say anything for a few seconds before she drops the knife to look at her. “You look happy.” She says gently. “At peace. I haven’t seen you like this in so long, sweetie.” There are tears in her mother’s eyes which sends tears to hers.

“Mom.” She chokes out.

“I missed you like this. Smiling like this. And it’s him. He’s a good one. Always has been and sometimes I was too stubborn to actually admit it. But you’re so happy when you’re with him. I’m glad you’re happy again. I know you tried to hide it from us, but I saw you, Betty and you’re happy now.” She pulls Betty in for a hug, holding her tightly against her.

“Mom?”

“Yes, honey?”

“I want to tell you why Jug and I broke up.” She says. “I never told you why and I think I should. Because it broke me, mom. And now I’ve finally started healing.”

“Are you sure?” Alice questions cautiously, squeezing Betty’s hand.

Betty nods and then takes a deep breath, finally meeting her mother’s gaze. “Five years ago, I...was-I was...” She gulps down the lump that forms in her throat. “I was pregnant. And Jug and I had the baby. I found out I was pregnant late and a month later I went into labour. It was so scary. And painful.”

“Oh Betty...” Alice covers her mouth with her hand, a sob threatening to escape her.

“He was so beautiful, mom. My son was so beautiful.” Betty sniffles. “But he was sick. His heart was too big and it couldn’t pump blood so his little body started failing.” She has to pause, wiping her tears away. “He was with us for three days before he passed away. Juggie and I...we couldn’t be together anymore, we pushed each other away and it...broke us.” She finishes and her mother’s very quiet, her hand still clasped around hers. “Mom?”

“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I ever made you feel like you couldn’t tell me something like this.” Alice holds Betty’s face, crying. “I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Both of you. It’s not fair after everything you’ve been through. You deserve to be happy.”

Betty lets out a sigh as she lets herself get wrapped up in her mother’s arms. “Thank you...” She whispers.

Jughead, for some reason he’s still trying to figure out, can’t sleep. Perhaps it’s the events that had happened throughout the day, the exhausting energy the twins had, the unfamiliar energy surrounding Alice and the strange feeling of being with family after not seeing people for years. There’s too much noise on his mind. Even looking at Betty, as she sleeps, he can’t seem to quiet down. It happens less than it used to and he sleeps better than he used to but every now and again, he’s too anxious or he can’t sleep no matter how exhausted he is. Today seems to be one of those nights.

He gets out of bed, navigating to the living room. He likes the light in Betty’s apartment, he’s learned. But he likes the nights too. He likes sitting by the window seat in the living room, watching the cars go by, the hum of the city below him. That’s maybe what he loves about the city, that he finds calm in the chaos, as he tries to find that same calm in his head.

He feels so strange about the fact that he fits in. Everything about it is so easy, how Alice launches into a conversation about his job, the strange notion that she knows about the magazine he works at hits him when he least expects it, when he’s settled comfortably talking to her and he’s having an actual good time. Dagwood talks about video games with him for a whole hour and he likes the Lord of The Rings despite its age, he connects with a ten year old easily and Dag has memories of him, as surprising as it is. And Juniper...my god...she reminds him of Betty. Determined, smart and funny. The kid is so funny, he finds himself clutching his belly from laughing so hard. She tells him easily about school, about her interest in writing and how her mom had mentioned he was a writer. She likes reading, but she also likes sports. Jughead takes note of everything he figures out about them (for future reference, because he plans on getting them both Christmas gifts). And Polly is as sweet as she’s always been, less naive now, a super mom, he tells himself and she cares about Betty so much, he sees it in her eyes when she looks at her sister. And he likes being there. He likes their dinner, the laughs and the way Betty smiles at him, at peace. He wants it that way forever.

“Jughead?” He hears a voice ask in the dark and he’s a bit startled. It takes him a second to recognize it. It’s Alice.

“Alice, hey, couldn’t sleep?” She’s on the window seat and he takes a few steps further.

“Betty...she told me about...Oliver.” The air is knocked out of his lungs. “I can’t stop thinking about it.”

“Oh...” He clears his throat, sitting and leaning against the opposite wall from her. “I’m sorry we didn’t tell you.” He murmurs.

“You didn’t have to, Jughead.” Alice shakes her head. “I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve to go through that. Losing a child...it’s the most brutal thing in the world.”

He doesn’t know what to say so he stays silent, looking out into the city.

“I don’t even know what else to say to you, Jughead. I know it seemed like I didn’t like you all those years ago, but I did. You’re a good man and you’ve made Betty the happiest I’ve seen her. That would be enough but you’re good. Kind and life has thrown you both too many curveballs. I just hope that you get a chance at happiness this time around, forever. I truly do.”

Jughead smiles softly. “She’s getting better.” He tells her.

“Huh?”

“Betty.” He looks at Alice. “About Oliver. She didn’t really talk about him ever since he passed away. But she’s doing it now. He may be gone but he showed us how much we could love someone.”

“You would’ve made wonderful parents.” Alice says and it’s so genuine, he feels a pang in his chest.

“Betty would’ve been a brilliant mother. Not sure about me. I never had the greatest examples.” He shrugs

Alice shakes her head. “Neither did Betty. I know that much. You both know what not to do.” She says. “You would’ve made a great dad.”

“Maybe. We’ll never know.” He sighs. Silence takes over and they sit there before Alice says something.

“It’s not too late to try again. I know losing him must have you scared. But if you want a baby, then you can try again.”

Jughead smiles gently. “I don’t think Betty would want that. It broke her. She carried him, she pushed him out into the world. I don’t think she can do it again. I don’t think she would even want to try.”

“Do you?”

“Maybe.” He murmurs. “But I’m happy with having her. I’ll be happy the rest of my life if it means having her, no matter what comes next.”

Chapter Text

“Uncle Jug?” 

 

“Yeah, June?” He asks with a grin. They’re through the park, hand in hand. Betty’s got Dagwood and he’s got Juniper by his side. They had left Alice, Polly and James alone in Betty’s apartment to have a day with the twins, they were taking them to the zoo. They had never been despite having been to New York several times, so Betty and Jughead decided that they couldn’t go any longer without going. 

 

“Why didn’t you see us for so long?” Juniper’s green eyes look up at him and she’s so pure, his heart nearly collapses. She looks like Polly and Betty when they were younger, he sees it perfectly. If it weren’t for the Blossom red hair, he would’ve thought Polly had cloned herself. 

 

He sighs softly, looking down at her. “Well, your aunt Betty and I were separated for a while and I just wasn’t around.” 

 

“Why?” 

 

“It’s complicated. Something happened that made us both very unhappy and we hurt each other, so we thought it was best to break up, so we could figure some things out.” He figures Juniper probably doesn’t understand but she’s a bit quiet afterwards and doesn’t ask anymore questions, instead she smiles up at him. 

 

“I hope you’re happy now.” She tells him and Jughead feels like crying at how precious she is, she’s impossibly sweet and he wants her to stay that way forever. He glances back at Betty and she’s a bit far behind. Her and Dagwood are laughing loudly about something. And he loves seeing her laughing, his heart is warmer when she does. Seeing her happy is enough to keep him happy. 

 

He nods. Yeah, we’re happy now. 

 

Betty’s sitting beside him as the kids are looking at the monkeys, Dagwood’s favorite animal ever. 

 

Ever since him and Alice had spoken, all he thought about was having another baby with Betty . And it was slowly eating at him, because he was sure, so sure that she would be fully against it, but the sight of her with Dagwood and Juniper or with a baby at a restaurant the other day was driving him insane. Betty would make an amazing mother, even in the short few days with Oliver, she had been the most caring mother he had ever seen. And he wanted it. He wanted everything with her, but he knew that she was scared, he knew that the thought of risking her heart all over again was too much. He knew that she understood, rationally, that it was a one time thing, unlikely to happen if they were to have another baby, but he also remembered Oliver’s little body in an incubator, too fragile to survive. 

 

They hadn’t talked about it, about the possibility of having kids, of trying for a baby. And he knew that it hadn’t been that long since they got together, it was months old but they were both sure that this was it, they’d make sure of it this time around. But still, he was aware of how life changing a baby could be. God knows Oliver changed everything the second Betty found out she was pregnant. 

 

“Whatcha thinking about?” Betty’s voice snaps him out of his reverie. 

 

“It’s nothing.” He shrugs and she raises her eyebrows, watching him. “It’s stupid, Betts.” 

 

“I don’t care. Tell me.” She insists and he sighs, glancing at her, concerned etched across her features. He grabs her hand, looking at Dagwood and Juniper laughing together. 

 

“Do you ever...” He clears his throat. “Do you ever-I mean-do you ever think about having a baby again?” She freezes beside him, breath caught in her throat as she looks at his face. And he regrets it immediately, cursing himself for telling her.  “You know what? Just forget I said anything-“ 

 

“Stop.” She grabs his face and there are tears in her eyes, as she throws her legs over his lap, joining their foreheads together. “It’s okay.” She whispers and he closes his eyes for a second before opening them into hers again. 

 

Taking a deep breath, he speaks in a low voice. “What happened with Oliver was rare. We could try for a baby, planned this time, controlled, Betts. I’ve been thinking about it and...” He breathes out, smiling gently. “Maybe we could do it.” 

 

“I don’t-I don’t think I can, Jug.” She murmurs. “I can’t give you what you want. I can’t go through any of it again.” His heart drops. Despite expecting her response, he had always hoped he was wrong, that Betty could see the happiness that could potentially be ahead. 

 

“I know you’re scared, babe, I know, I am too, but it won’t be like Oliver. He was sick, and it wasn’t any of our faults, it just happened, Betty.” He tells her. 

 

She shakes her head, pulling away from him for a second. “What if it’s me? What if I can’t do it? What if I can’t carry it, Jug? I can’t lose another child, I won’t. I’m sorry.”  

 

Jughead looks into her eyes with such intensity, she feels inclined to look away. “It’s not you, Betty. You remember what the doctors said, there was nothing that could’ve been done. And there was nothing we did that got him that way.” 

 

“There was something I could’ve done, if I had found out I was pregnant sooner.” 

 

“No.” He says firmly. “You are not blaming yourself for his death. It was not your fault and it wasn’t mine.” 

 

Betty looks at Juniper and Dagwood for a second. “Maybe.” She whispers. She imagines Oliver with his cousins, looking at the monkeys with them and she loves that image, she’d give anything for it. And if was fully honest, if fear didn’t cloud her mind, maybe she would admit that deep inside was the wish for another baby. With Jughead’s eyes and her hair, with dreams and hopes and laughter. But equally as strong, stood her fear. She had had those dreams once, she had touched hope with her finger, she had imagined each laugh when she held a sonogram picture in her hand and it had all been destroyed in Oliver’s first and last breath. She couldn’t do it all over again. Her heart has just begun healing. 

 

“Aunt Betty, we wanna see the lions now!” 

 

 

They don’t mention their conversation for a week afterwards. And it’s been fine, except for the elephant in the room. But they go back to normal, continue living as though the topic never came up. It doesn’t stop the constant images that pop up in Jughead’s mind or the dreams he has of her and what he assumes is their baby. 

 

Veronica and Archie are over at Betty’s apartment for dinner and Jughead feels at home. For a second, he feels more relaxed as Archie jokes around with him, he teases Veronica and Betty’s leaning against him. He can pretend there’s nothing wrong tonight. He can pretend that he’s fine with what Betty wants, that it doesn’t affect him. He can pretend his heart isn’t broken for the girl who dreamed of baby boys and girls with dark hair and green eyes, that the future Betty had told him she dreamed of was gone, just as Oliver. 

 

He notices Archie’s nervous look towards Veronica and he feels himself tense up, what could possibly ruin this nice evening? Betty’s getting a refill of her Diet Coke and when she returns back to her seat beside him, Archie grabs Veronica’s hand. 

 

He can almost count down the seconds in his head as he watches the scene unfold. Veronica’s smiling softly and Archie’s sweating a little. There’s a clear energy he hadn’t noticed before between the two of them and he curses himself for not seeing it hours ago. 

 

“Hey, guys?” Veronica calls out and Betty smiles at her. “We wanted to tell you something.” She says nervously, looking at Archie for support. He nods, grinning softly. 

 

“What is it, V? Are you okay?” Betty asks and Jughead guesses before she says the words. Her hand is resting on her stomach subtly. 

 

“I’m pregnant.” 

 

Jughead’s heart drops and there’s a fraction of a second that he worries about Betty’s reaction, but then her face breaks out into a huge grin. “Oh my god, V!” Betty’s throws her arms around her friend. “I’m so happy for you!” 

 

He smiles at Archie, standing up to give him a hug. He holds one of his oldest friends tightly in his arms, the notion that their childhood was past present on his mind. He wondered if this was how Archie felt when him and Betty had told them she was pregnant. Just happiness. That’s what he felt, the faces of his friends made him so happy. Archie will make an amazing dad and if Veronica is anything to go by, his kid will have him wrapped around their finger. 

 

Betty’s excited, talking to Veronica about the baby and if he wasn’t paying attention, he wouldn’t have noticed the slight falter when Veronica isn’t looking. She’s happy for them, he knows, but he assumes the feeling she has is much like his. Yes, she’s happy for their best friends, but there’s that little pain in the back of their minds. They remember being on the other side of things, telling Archie and Veronica that they were having a baby. 

 

 

Jughead’s making dinner when Betty walks in the kitchen with a grin on her face. She wraps her arms around him from behind and he smiles, leaning into her embrace. “Need any help, babe?” She questions. 

 

“Nah, you go sit, I got this.” He says. “You ready for tonight?” 

 

“You mean telling Arch and V about the baby? I’m more than ready, it’s hard to keep a secret from V.” Betty chuckles. 

 

“I know, right? I’ve been avoiding talking to her for the past week.” Jughead tells her. “You good?” 

 

“Yeah, we’re good.” She presses a kiss to his cheek before releasing him. “This kid will have Archie wrapped around his finger, you know?” 

 

Jughead grins back at her. “You just said his. We’re having a boy now, huh? Thought you were betting on girl, babe.” 

 

“Oh shut up, I’m tired.” She rolls her eyes. He laughs loudly, looking back at her as she makes her way out of the kitchen. 

 

It’s about an hour later and they’re sitting, eating dinner with their two closest friends. Betty loves everything about the evening and if it wasn’t for the baby inside her, she would have gotten through it without worrying about a thing. She’s not really concerned about her friends’ reactions. She knows they’ll be supportive as they always have been through everything. It’s just that having them know makes everything real. It’s between her and Jughead, the little secret growing in her belly. She hadn’t fully taken it in yet and it was still crazy to believe that they were going to have a child. Jughead was so painfully sweet about it, the way he talked about their baby with so much love in his voice. She was scared, understandably so. They were so young, in college, living in a crappy apartment. But she was excited too. Sure, it was a chapter in their story that had been written sooner than expected, but she wanted this with him and the thought of them as family, of a little boy or girl with a smile on their faces was enough to put a smile on hers. 

 

“Ronnie, Arch...” Jughead looks at Betty. “We have a present for you.” He says, with a grin while Betty chuckles lightly at their friends’ confused faces. “Do the honors, babe?” 

 

Betty stands up to get the two ultrasound pictures they had printed out. She grins widely, handing Archie and Veronica an envelope each. On the front, it read: ‘To Uncle Archie’ and ‘To Aunt Veronica’. 

 

“Um, guys, I don’t have any nieces or nephews. Is this another weird use of words like daddy?” Archie asks, a confused look on his face and then it takes a second for him to get it. “No...am I uncle Archie?” Jughead laughs at his best friend. 

 

“You’re pregnant?!” Veronica squeals. “Oh my god!” She stands up, wrapping Betty up in a hug. “A baby, B. You’re having a baby. You’re gonna be a mom!” 

 

After all the celebrations, Archie proclaiming he’s about to become the world’s best uncle and Veronica promising to spoil their baby like it’s her job, they sit on the couch, the core four plus their little one, with huge smiles on their faces and Betty thinks to herself: ‘It’s going to be okay. We have each other and we always will.’ 

 

 

Betty’s distant. And he can’t figure out why. They’re sitting on the couch at her apartment, the latest episode of their current favorite TV show is on but she’s not paying attention. She’s snuggled up beside him, head on his chest and he can feel her mind racing, there’s an energy that he hasn’t seen in Betty in quite a while. He doesn’t say anything. And she’s not really up for talking either, she stays silent throughout the episode and when it ends, she doesn’t seem to notice until Jughead moves beside her. She snaps out of her daze, glancing at him for a second. 

 

“Wanna go to bed?” He murmurs and she nods. 

 

It’s all too silent and it’s so clear that something’s wrong, Jughead gets an anxious feeling in his chest, his heart beat getting faster, as he watches her go into the bathroom. He sits on the bed as she brushes her teeth, not even looking at him when she gets in bed. The lamp on his unspoken side of bed is still on when she whispers an ‘I love you’.

 

“I love you too.” 

 

He tells himself she’s probably stressed about work. They’re on the verge of winning a case and she’s been working hard at it, so she’s probably anxious. That’s all it is, she’s stressed and anxious and there’s nothing wrong besides that. She wraps herself around him when he lies down and he finds a little peace in her warmth, he allows himself to fall asleep. 

 

He dreams of her. Sweet dreams of her smile, by Sweetwater River at seventeen years old. Wrapped up in his arms. He dreams of the times he made love to her by the river of their youth, when everything was going wrong and they found comfort in each other, a safe haven in the chaos. She looked beautiful with her hair down, the sun reflecting on her golden locks, the picture of an angel and he had once written it down on paper. He knew that whatever he wrote would never quite do her justice, how could it? How do you describe gods? He decided long ago that the way to describe Betty’s beauty was through how he felt when he looked at her. He always felt a bit overwhelmed, in disbelief that Betty had chosen him and he felt so lucky that he had the chance to love her forever. Betty wasn’t just beautiful, there was something else about her entirely. It was in the way she carried herself, the way she treated other people and how she loved in such a fierce way. 

 

He knows she’s not asleep by the time it’s three and he can hear her breathing, uneven, almost as though with every new thought that pops into her head, she jumps out of her skin, the weight of her thoughts too heavy. He woke up when she turned away from him, tossing and turning for minutes after. 

 

“Betts?” 

 

She stills at the sounds of his voice and seems to wait, as though it was a figment of her imagination. 

 

“Want to go get a burger?” He says and she turns to face him, with a small smile on her lips. Her cold hands, touch his chest and he hears her soft chuckle. 

 

“We don’t have Pop’s here, Jug.” He knows what she means. There’s no safe haven like Pop’s in New York. There’s no Pop Tate serving a strawberry milkshake and a burger. There’s no favorite booth in a diner. There is however, something close to it. 

 

“No, but we do have that place on the corner of our old neighborhood.” Jughead murmurs. 

 

“I haven’t been there in years.” 

 

“Then let’s go, Betts.” He says with a grin. 

 

Twenty minutes later, they’re sitting on one of the booths in the diner down the street from their old apartment. She hasn’t said much and he hadn’t expected her to. She will when she’s ready. 

 

“I missed this place.” She says softly. 

 

“Yeah, me too.” He tells her, smiling at her. She returns his smile and he relaxes at the fact that it’s a genuine one. So he asks the question he’s been trying to avoid. “Are you okay, Betts?” 

 

She sighs softly, looking out the window for a second before facing him again. “I am, it’s just...” She murmurs, her eyes  trained on his. “I’ve been thinking about something.” 

 

“What is it?” He questions, reaching for her hand. She squeezes his, keeping herself grounded. And he smiles softly, encouraging her. 

 

“I’ve been thinking about what you said.” She looks down at their hands. “About having a baby...” 

 

“Betts, you don’t have to-“ 

 

“Let me finish, please.” She says, her green seemingly even more green when filled with emotion. “I’m scared. Rationally, I know it’s unlikely that what happened to Oliver will happen again, but it still hurts so much to think about him. I hate that the last image I have of our son is him in an incubator too weak to even open his eyes.” She seems to get wrapped up in that image, the same image he has of Oliver in his last moments. But she snaps out of it, looking into Jughead’s eyes. “What I’m saying is, I’m not ready to try for a baby but maybe I will be in the future. I’m not promising you anything, but I’m also not destroying the possibility. For now, it’s you and I. But maybe someday, we can have a baby.” She tells him. “I just need you to wait for me, okay?” 

 

Jughead smiles. “Okay.” 

Chapter Text

She’s singing in the shower. He’s still in bed, didn’t wake up when she did. He wishes he had, that way he could’ve pulled her back into his arms. They had gotten back to her apartment really late, Cheryl and Toni were in town for the weekend and they had gone out for dinner. This morning, they were having brunch with them along with Archie and Veronica. He curses the fact that they can’t stay in bed all day, but he’s missed Toni and Cheryl. They would have to convince them to move to New York to have the whole gang back together in one place. Which was unlikely, if he really thought it through, they had just bought a new place together in Riverdale. And him and Betty had promised to visit them. 

 

Her voice is something ethereal to him. She’s never given herself much credit for her voice, but he’s told her multiple times he’d listen to her sing every minute of every day for the rest of his life. When she was pregnant, she used to sing to her stomach, Oliver safe in the warmth of her womb. And when he was born, she sang to him one time before he passed away. He doesn’t remember the song, he’s not even sure he had heard it then, he’d been paying more attention to their baby, but he remembers her hums as a background to the image of Oliver. He’s glad he does, their baby deserved the choir of angels singing to him forever, his mom was as close to an angel on earth as it gets. 

 

He’s smiling, his eyes closed as he listens to her. He doesn’t recognize the song, but it doesn’t matter at all. She could sing the worst song ever made and he’d sit and listen any time. 

 

They had been smooth sailing since their conversation. It was peaceful, there was no pressure for anything to happen, they were living life in a sort of day by day way. And it was working. They were happy. Jughead hadn’t felt truly happy in so long. 

 

He hears her turn the water off and it doesn’t take long for her to open the door. Her face lights up when she sees him awake. 

 

“Hey, you’re up.” She grins at him, making her way to him. She leans down to press a listo his lips, holding the towel around her body. 

 

“It would’ve been a better morning if you were with me when I woke up.” He says, pulling her down to him. 

 

She chuckles. “I had to work a little and before you say I work too much, it was just some emails. I only woke up an hour ago.” She tells him, kissing him again. 

 

“You know, babe, that shower wasn’t a very good idea.” His eyes darken and he slides her towel off her body. “How do you expect me to resist you when you look like this?” 

 

“We’re going to be late...” She smirks, hands gripping his hair when his lips find her neck. 

 

“It’s for a good reason.” He hums against her skin. 

 

They are late. Fifteen minutes but their friends just smile at them when they sit down at the table. Jughead loves these people with everything he has. They had been through so much together. For him, Archie and Betty, their childhoods had been spent together, with the vague memory of Cheryl and Toni somewhere through time. Middle school, birthdays, summers together. Then high school and all that came with it. So much pain, so much suffering that damned town had brought to them and the new addition to their group, Veronica. It was too much, way too many things that destroyed them but they had won. They were the living proof, they had made it out that hellhole alive and they were happy now, truly. Living fully normal lives. Getting married and having kids and having brunch on a Saturday morning, with steady jobs and responsibilities like any adult in the world, no gang wars and no murder mysteries to solve. 

 

“You two need to come to Riverdale. It’s been so long since you were there.” Toni says to them both and they smile softly. 

 

“We know. It’s just...” Jughead trails off. Betty glances at him, placing her hand on his thigh. 

 

Toni nods. “Yeah, but maybe you’ll move past it. All of it if you face it again. It would surprise you how different the whole place.” She says as they stand up from their table. They’re already outside when Archie steps closer to him. 

 

Archie nods his head at Jughead. “Toni’s  right. Despite everything that happened in that town, we grew up there. We do have an awful lot of bad memories but there’s also many good ones, you guys. You can’t tell me there isn’t.” Archie steps forward to hug Jughead. “I’ll see you tomorrow, man.” He lets go before smiling at Betty. “Bye, Betts.” He says. 

 

“I’m waiting for my sonogram picture, guys.” Betty grins softly as she gives Veronica a quick hug. 

 

Veronica laughs. “You will have it, babe.” She says. “See you guys.” They watch them walk away with Toni and Cheryl by their side talking about something Fangs had done the previous week. He misses Fangs and Sweet Pea, but he doesn’t miss Riverdale. He likes New York and he likes being with Betty in New York. 

 

Later that day when they’re getting ready for bed, Betty’s staring at him with a soft smile playing on her lips as he places his t shirt on the chair. She’s already below the covers. His brows furrow when he catches her looking his way. “You know it’s rude to stare, Betts.” He says with a small laugh. She pats his spot on the bed, urging him to come closer and he obliges happily and lays down beside her. She snuggles close to him, sighing softly at the warmth of his body. 

 

“Jug?” She murmurs, pressing a kiss to his chest, lifting her head up to look at him. 

 

“Yeah?” He opens his eyes into her green ones, smiling softly. 

 

“Move in with me.” She grins. “I wanna do this every night, I wanna go back to living with you.” 

 

Jughead laughs, flipping them over so he’s on top of her. “I love you so much.” He presses his lips against her. 

 

“Was that a yes?” 

 

“Fuck yeah, that was a yes.” 

 

 

Betty’s aware of Toni’s eyes on her as she moves across the room towards the bathroom. 

 

It’s Toni and Cheryl’s wedding reception. A small one, just their friends plus Toni’s grandfather. The wedding had been extremely sentimental and sweet and Betty cried, just as she did in Veronica’s grandiose wedding. She doesn’t think she’s ever seen Cheryl so open, from the girl who could be just outright insensitive, she was softer now. They all were. But you could see it most in Cheryl, the contrast between who was and who she is is unbelievable. And she loves her, for the path she had chosen to take. And she was never more grateful that her, Veronica, Jughead and Archie got to her on time all those years ago on Sweetwater River, during that cold winter that was cold in every way. 

 

She bursts through the bathroom door, shutting behind her. She throws some water on her face, hoping that will make her feel better. It doesn’t at all. She hears the door open and looks to her left to see Toni standing there worriedly. Toni rushes in when she sees her pale face, closing the door and locking it. 

 

“Hey, you okay?” Toni reaches for her. 

 

“Yeah, I’m okay. You should go back out there, it’s your day after all, Toni.” Betty smiles softly and Toni tilts her head, am unconvinced look on her face. “Seriously-“ She grows paler and runs to the toilet, hunching over it and throws up the contents of her stomach. Toni rushes to hold back her hair. When she’s done, she leans against the wall, Toni handing her a towel to wipe her mouth. “I guess I’m not okay.” She murmurs. 

 

Toni’s looking at her carefully, as Betty’s face begins to gain back some color. Betty groans, head leaning back against the cold wall. 

 

“How long have you been feeling like this?” Toni asks, moving so she’s sitting beside her. 

 

“Since this morning mostly, I woke up nauseous. Jug and I had late night ice cream so it’s probably it.” She smiles weakly. And it’s silent for a second. “That’s a lie.” 

 

Toni furrows her brows. “What?” 

 

“I’ve been feeling like this for the past three days and I’m late by a week.” She rushes it out, heart beating out of her chest. “I got nauseous because of chocolate cake. Fucking chocolate cake, Toni! I love chocolate cake!” She confesses and Toni chuckles softly, but as quickly as it comes, it goes when she takes in Betty’s panicked face. 

 

“Have you taken a test?” She questions, gently. 

 

Tears well up in Betty’s eyes. “No.” She whispers. 

 

“Does Jug know?” 

 

The blonde sighs. “God, no. Telling him would just make everything more real.” She trails off. 

 

“You gotta tell him, Betty.” Toni advises, reaching for her friend’s hand. “I’m serious. You’re not alone in this.” 

 

Betty stays quiet. Breathing unevenly and Toni just sits beside her, holding her hand. The sounds of people partying outside and the chaos inside Betty’s mind match. She’s not ready for this at all. And she’s so scared. Scared because Jughead wants this and she can’t bear the thought of losing a baby again. Can’t fathom going through again. 

 

“Jughead wants a baby.” She murmurs. 

 

Toni nods. “And you?” 

 

“I’m not ready for this to happen. Not after Oliver.” Her voice cracks. 

 

Toni frowns. “But do you want a baby?” 

 

“I- I can’t. I can’t do it. Toni, I can’t have a baby.” She shakes her head. She’s sobbing now, so Toni pulls her in for a hug. “Jug will be happy but what if I hurt this baby? What if it dies just like Oliver? What if-?” 

 

“Hey, hey, listen to me! You don’t know if you’re pregnant yet, okay? And if you are, none of those things will happen. None of it. Oliver’s case was rare, Betty. It’s going to happen again. You’re scared and you have every right to be. But this is a good thing. If you’re pregnant, it’s a good thing, okay?” 

 

She lets Betty calm down, until her breathing becomes normal and she becomes less tense in her arms. “You and I in a bathroom always means something big is happening, huh?” Betty smiles weakly. 

 

Toni laughs. “Yeah, I guess it does.” She says. “Tell Jug. That man knows you better than anyone, he’ll go crazy wondering what’s wrong.” 

 

 

She buys a pregnancy test when Jughead is at work. They’re back in New York after being in Riverdale for the weekend. And their friends had been right. Their sleepy little town felt different now. And it was good to be back at Pop’s, although the man himself had stepped down, letting his kids run the place after Veronica had gave it up to them. It felt amazing to sit in a booth at Pop’s with everyone, felt right. It felt right to see Pop’s face when they walked in the diner. It felt right to walk through those streets with a feeling of having made it out. And it felt like freedom to walk into the Cooper household, a house that held so many ghosts, with a smile on their faces. 

 

She has the day off. 

 

It feels nerve wrecking when the cashier smile at her, handing her the three boxes. She doesn’t even question the smile, she just takes the boxes and rushes to the apartment. 

 

She’s reading the instructions carefully. And she’s annoyingly aware of how different it is from Oliver. She didn’t go through the wondering part. She didn’t spend hours agonizing the outcome. With Oliver, there was a phone call. There were no three minutes. There were no pregnancy tests on the bathroom sink. There was a person on the other side of the line telling her she was pregnant. That she was going to have a baby. 

 

The timer blares and it’s so loud, it echoes in her head. 

 

Two line means pregnant. One line means not pregnant. 

 

A plus is a positive. A line is negative. 

 

Pregnant. Not pregnant. 

 

She takes a deep breath and turns the tests over. 

 

The silence become deafening. 

 

“Oh...” She whispers. 

 

One line. One line. Not pregnant. 

 

“Okay.” She breathes out. And she feels disappointed. “I’m not pregnant.” 

 

The feeling sets in her chest. And she feels sad. It’s not happening. She had been setting herself up for a positive result and now it wasn’t happening. Three negative tests laid out in front of her. 

 

She looks at herself in the mirror, wiping her tears away before grabbing the tests and throwing it in the bin before exiting the bathroom. 

 

 

Jughead’s already home when she gets there. “Jug, baby?” She sets her purse on the table with her keys and removes her shoes before making her way to the living room. “Jughead?” 

 

He pops up from the kitchen, grinning at her. He makes his way towards her, arms wrapping around her before pressing his lips against. “Hey” He grins. 

 

“Hi.” She smiles back at him.

 

“How was work?” 

 

“It went well, surprisingly. You?” She asks. He’s got this excited look on his face and she furrows her brows. “What happened?” 

 

“I got a call at lunch.” He says, smirking. “My book got published, Betts.” 

 

Her eyes widen. “Oh my god!” She squeals wrapping her arms around him. He spins her around, laughing. “I’m so proud of you, Jug. So proud.” She smiles widely, her finger caressing his chin. 

 

“Thank you, baby.” He chuckles, pecking her lips. “Now, come on, I made dinner.” He grabs her hand, leading her to dining room. 

 

They have a nice dinner. Talking about their days and about whatever topic seems to come up in between. Jughead’s smiling so much, Betty’s heart feels warm inside her chest. Throughout her day, her mind had been plagued by the negative tests she had taken four days ago. The disappointment had grown into desire. And she felt herself slowly wanting a baby again, despite all those fears and doubts. Now, sitting in front of him, she’s even more sure of her decision. And she can already picture the look on his face. She had seen it once before. 

 

They finish dinner and Betty goes to sit on the couch while Jughead goes to the bathroom. She selects the movie they were planning to watch and waits for him, wrapped up in a warm blanket.   

 

“Betts?” She hears his soft voice and turns her head to look at him. He’s holding the pregnancy tests she had thrown a way. “When were you planning on telling me?” 

 

“Jug-“ 

 

“Are you-“ He motions to her stomach, walking towards her. 

 

She shakes her head. “Juggie, it was negative. The test, it was negative.” Her voice wavers. 

 

“Oh...” he whispers, setting the test down on the coffee table. And it’s silent again and she needs to tell him. Needs him to know that they’re on the same page again. That she’s ready. 

 

“Jug?” He looks at her. “I was so scared when I took the test. I really thought I was pregnant. And all that anxiety came back again. But I took the test and when it turned out to be negative...I-I felt disappointed, Jug.” There’s a flicker of hope in his eyes and she places her hand on his cheek. “I’m ready. I’m ready for us to try for a baby. I want this. I want a baby.” She smiles at him. He tackles her down on the couch, pressing kisses to her face as she laughs. He trails down, lifting her shirt up. “Jug, you understand I’m not pregnant yet, right?” 

 

He grins up at her. “Good luck kisses.” He tells her, as he presses his lips to her stomach. 

 

She smirks. “Wanna start trying?” 

 

“Oh, I’m gonna put a baby in you, woman.” 

 

She laughs loudly as he lifts her off the couch, legs wrapped around his waist and carried her to their bedroom. 

 

Let the waves, darling, carry us to somewhere new

Somewhere magical and beautiful 

Where all our dreams come true