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broken like me

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These aren't my people
These aren't my friends
She grabbed my face and that's when she said

I like that you're broken
Broken like me
Maybe that makes me a fool
I like that you're lonely
Lonely like me
I could be lonely with you

***

“I can’t believe Veronica talked me into this,” Betty muttered to herself for perhaps the millionth time in her high school career.

As she crossed the threshold into Thornhill Manor, she took in the scene before her. What seemed like hundreds of people were packed into Cheryl Blossom’s massive home, dancing, laughing, and drinking to their heart’s content.

Another weekend, another massive blowout for absolutely no reason. Now in their senior year, Cheryl seemed to believe it was her duty to invite the entire student body over on a weekly basis. As a fellow River Vixen, Betty felt obligated to attend. But she was getting a little tired of the non-stop partying. If she was honest, she would much rather be at home reading or catching up on Netflix. Instead of her ideal Saturday evening, she found herself all but dragged to the Blossom mansion by her brunette bestie.

Sighing, Betty self-consciously tugged at her short party dress. Said dress, a shimmering dark green that complimented her eyes that came with the pair of towering heels, were courtesy of her best friend who was currently nowhere to be found. She quickly scanned the room but gave up almost immediately. It was impossible to find Veronica in this crowd.

“Betty!”

The blonde turned at the sound of her name and was relieved to see Kevin Keller headed her way. He thrust a red cup filled with a mysterious drink into her hand and gave her a quick hug, followed by kisses to each cheek. “I’ve been looking for you all over! Anyone who’s anyone is currently hanging out in the kitchen, we have to head there post haste!” he shouted as he grabbed her hand and dragged her behind him.

Betty could only laugh as she let him lead the way. Count on Kevin to never let her get in a word in. It was such a common occurence it was almost endearing.

Kevin expertly weaved through the throngs of classmates towards their destination. Upon reaching the threshold, Betty could see the usual suspects that made up the popular crowd at Riverdale High: the jocks, the cheerleaders, musicians like Josie and her pussycats, and a smattering of well-off theater kids. She had hoped that Veronica would have made her way to this fairly exclusive hangout, but she was nowhere to be found.

Someone to Betty’s left let out a low wolf whistle and she rolled her eyes before looking over the source of the sound: Reggie Mantle.

“Damn Betty, you are looking crazy hot tonight,” he grinned as he closed the space between them. She frowned deeply at him and moved away and back towards Kevin. “Not a chance in hell, Mantle,” she hissed at him.

Reggie let out a loud laugh and motioned to his fellow football players. “Check it out guys, this kitty’s got claws.”

Before she could respond again with a scathing comeback, Kevin gently directed her towards Cheryl and Josie. “He’s not worth it, B, you know that,” he whispered to her.

Betty sighed. She knew Reggie wasn’t worth the effort of a decent comeback, but she always begrudged the fact that he could say and do whatever he wanted and no one ever put him in his place. Just another benefit of being a jock , she thought bitterly.

“What a particularly daring outfit, dear cousin,” she heard Cheryl say.

Betty glanced down at the dress, feeling uncomfortable all over again. Whether or not Cheryl had meant it a compliment or a sly jab didn’t matter. A wave of self-consciousness fell over her and she found herself wishing for the hundredth time that she had stayed home.

Before Betty could respond, Josie sauntered over and slung an arm over Cheryl’s shoulders. “Come on, Cheryl,” she chastised before turning her attention to Betty. “B, you’re a total smokeshow. No wonder Mantle can’t stop staring at you.”

Betty smiled gratefully at Josie, although she didn’t need to be reminded that Reggie was burning a hole into her backside. “Thanks Josie, but this outfit is all Veronica. Have you seen her by the way?”

Josie shook her head. “Sorry Betty, I saw her for a split second before she disappeared with Archie.”

Betty sighed, trying to restrain herself from rolling her eyes. Of course the minute Veronica spotted her boyfriend, she left her to fend for herself. Typical.

“Hey! What the hell are you looking at?” Reggie’s sudden shouting shook her from her thoughts. “Who the hell invited Wednesday Addams?”

Betty turned to look through the kitchen doorway just in time to see a scowling Jughead Jones stalk away, refusing to engage Reggie. She was a little startled to see her fellow Blue & Gold editor and resident loner out and about amongst the “brainless masses”, to quote Jughead himself.

While they had been good friends since childhood, she had felt Jughead pull away from her when they started high school. She thought at first it was become she fell in with the so-called popular crowd, but his friendship with Archie remained perfectly intact. Betty try to remain friendly and engaging, but Jughead wasn’t having it. Even though they worked together on the Blue & Gold all throughout high school, they mainly engaged in civil chit chat in the newspaper office while he all but ignored her in the halls. She decided that she must have done or said something for him to end their friendship, but had never been brave enough to confront him about it. So she respected his unspoken wish and had left him alone, even though it had hurt to lose him like that.

As she watched the scene unfold before her, Betty almost felt compelled to follow him out into the crowd, but felt Kevin tug at her arm to get her attention and all thoughts of Jughead Jones were--at the moment--forgotten.

***

 

“I can’t believe Archie talked me into this,” Jughead complained to himself for perhaps the millionth time in his high school career.

Now that they were seniors, Archie had decided it was his sole mission to get Jughead to enjoy their final year of high school. It was a mostly a losing battle for the redhead, but that didn’t stop him from begging Jughead to attend every possible social gathering. Even now and then, Jughead gave in just to shut him up. This was one of those instances and something he found himself immediately regretting, especially since Archie had disappeared into the crowd approximately five seconds after they arrived.

He warily took in the scene before him, shoving his hands into the pockets of his dark sherpa jacket. Parties were not--and never have been--his scene. He didn’t enjoy being around his entire graduating class in the halls of their high school, much less when they were all completely wasted and stumbling around the halls of Thornhill.

Jughead wandered over to a keg and poured himself a lukewarm beer before he began wandering around. He would have left immediately if Archie hadn’t been his ride so he knew had to find a way to pass the time, which wouldn’t be too hard in Cheryl’s massive home. He figured he could sneak up to another floor and find some spooky library to pass the time in.

As he weaved through the crowd, Jughead was temporarily distracted by a distinct sound he knew all too well: Betty Cooper’s laugh. He found himself seeking her out and sure enough, found her standing amongst her fellow popular kids in the kitchen. She was flanked by Kevin, Josie, and Cheryl in the center of the room. He briefly hoped that Archie was around but saw the redhead was nowhere to be found.

He briefly entertained trying to go up to Betty before immediately deciding that was a terrible idea. Even though they worked at the Blue & Gold together nearly every day, they hardly spoke beyond editing articles together. Jughead winced at the thought, knowing that he had no one to blame but himself for that. He had come to the realization that his friendship with Betty couldn’t possibly survive her becoming a cheerleader, homecoming queen, and Riverdale’s overall golden girl. And it had hurt even more that when he then realized he was completely, totally in love with her and she was now completely, totally out of his league. So he made up his mind: the only way to protect himself was to slowly extract himself from her life. Although Betty originally persisted, most likely wondering why he had suddenly become so closed off, she eventually got the hint and gave up. That had hurt more than he thought it would.

“Hey! What the hell are you looking at?” Reggie shouted out. Jughead turned his narrowed gaze to the loudmouth jock, who was staring right at him and clearly ready to pick a fight.

“Who the hell invited Wednesday Addams?” Reggie continued, causing his fellow jock brethren to roar with laughter.

Although he had a scathing comeback, Jughead knew the last thing he wanted was to cross Reggie in front of Betty, who was starting to turn to look in his direction. No, he definitely didn’t want to see a look of pity on her face when she saw who Reggie was yelling at. Instead, he spun on his heel and stalked away, deciding it was now time for Operation: Kill Time Until Archie Appears.

Jughead quietly slipped up to the second floor of Thornhill, where the thumping music below was thankfully muffled. He was disappointed that there was a distinct lack of smoking rooms or libraries to be found. He wandered further down a hall before finding a palatial bathroom with a large clawed bathtub.

He sighed and shrugged to himself. It was a good a hiding place as any. Jughead slowly lowered himself into tub, still nursing his beer. As an added measure, he pull the large, dark shower curtain around the tub to obscure his presence.

Jughead pulled out his phone, estimating that his battery would last him another hour before dying and decided to use it sparingly just in case Archie texted him. He instead pulled out a small notebook that he always carried with him, along with a pen. This is was as a good a time as any to jot down some notes for his novel. He found himself strangely inspired by Betty’s laugh and begin scribbling in earnest.

**

While she had managed to enjoy herself a bit, Betty had been ready to call it a night. She always reached a point on nights like this where she couldn’t find the energy to fake it anymore. She looked around at the people she was hanging out with, suddenly feeling out of place. Everyone else looked like they were having the times of their lives and she just wanted to be anywhere else but there.

Betty was amazed that Veronica had been MIA the entire time and decided she was better off finding a ride home than waiting for her best friend to reappear. Her latest book and her bed were calling her name.

She zoned out of the conversation that Cheryl and Josie were having as she weighed her options. A split second later, she felt someone tumble into her hard, followed by cold liquid spilling over the front of her dress.

The scream was out of her mouth before she could stop it and Betty turned her glare on Reggie, who had drunkenly just spilled a entire solo cup’s worth of jungle juice on her.

“Reggie, what the HELL is your problem?” she shouted, shoving him against his shoulder. All he does is laugh at her obvious anger.

“Geez, come down Little Coop. It was an accident,” he slurred, stumbling slightly.

“I think you’ve had enough for tonight, Reginald,” Cheryl hissed at him, yanking the cup from his grasp and turning to Chuck. “Get him out of here,” she ordered.

Cheryl then turn to eye Betty and looked at her with what Betty thought might actually be a slight bit of sympathy. “Betty dearest, I think you should try to tidy up,” she said as she grasped Betty’s arm and tugged her out of the kitchen. “There’s a large bathroom upstairs, down the hall and to the left. It’s off-limits to my guests, so you won’t be bothered there.”

Betty sighed and nodded. “Right. Thanks Cheryl.” The redhead simply nodded in return as Betty turned and began to head upstairs.

As she reached the landing of the second floor, she kicked off her heels and scooped them up, sighing with relief now that they were off her feet. The hallway was dark save for a light in the direction of the bathroom. Considering that no one was allowed upstairs, Betty found it a bit odd but didn’t think too much of it.

She entered the bathroom, tossing her shoes on the floor and shutting the door behind her. Betty sighed deeply, taking her slightly disheveled appearance and stained dress. She rubbed her hands on her face even though she knew it would ruin her “oh so perfect smokey eye” as Veronica had said before they left.

“What are you doing here?” she murmured quietly to herself. Betty made eye contact with her reflection, staring herself down. “Why do you do this to yourself? You hate parties, you hate drinking, so why do you torture yourself like this?”

She laughed humorlessly. “God, get it together,” she whispered, shaking her head. As she looked away from the mirror, someone behind her said, “Geez Cooper, do you always talk to yourself this much?”

Betty whipped her head around towards the direction of the voice. To her complete surprise and horror, the large shower curtain around the tub was pushed aside to reveal one Jughead Jones, a mildly amused look on his face.

Betty clutched her hand to her chest, letting out a shaky laugh. “God Jughead, you scared the crap out of me.”

She quickly realized that she was not only talking to herself but definitely also looked like a mess, and wrapped her arms around her stomach self consciously. “What are you doing in here?” she asked.

Jughead smirked and waved around the red cup in his hand. “Enjoying what I will no doubt look back on as my glory days,” he deadpanned. Betty smiled weakly and waited for him to continue.

“If you really must know, I’m killing time until Archie magically appears so I can get the hell out of here,” he sighed.

This time Betty laughed, a sound that Jughead decided then and there he would never get tired of hearing. “Well we both might be out of luck. I’ve been waiting for Veronica for a while now and she has yet to reappear.”

Jughead groaned, knowing that if the brunette socialite was nowhere to be found, the same went for Archie. “Great,” he grumbled, looking down at his empty beer cup before looking back up at her. “Seriously though, are you okay Betty?” he asked softly.

His sincerity struck something in Betty and she felt her eyes begin to water. Maybe it was the alcohol in her system, the absolute opposite of a pep talk she just gave herself, or a combination of both. But when was the last time anyone had asked her if she was okay and actually meant it?

“I’m actually not sure,” she chuckled wetly. Do not cry in front of Jughead , she willed herself.

Jughead’s eyes widened at the sight of her eyes glistening, but said nothing. Betty sighed and sat down on the closed toilet seat, wrapping both arms around herself. “Juggie, do ever feel like you’re something you’re… not?” she asked.

Jughead watched her carefully, trying to think of a measured response. He wanted to tell her that he sometimes felt trapped in his “loner weirdo” status at school, that being a curmudgeon didn’t mean he didn’t have feelings. He wanted to say that despite how perfect Betty tried to portray herself at all times, he knew that underneath she was so much more.

But before he could even open his mouth and get a word out, Betty scoffed. “God, listen to me. You’re probably wondering what I even have to complain about. Poor perfect Betty Cooper,” she whispered. A shiver ran through her and she looked away, wiping at a tear that had managed to escape through the corner of her eye.

Jughead scrambled out of the bathtub and kneeled in front of her, taking one of her hands in his. “Betty, hey. I get it. You spend so much of your time trying to live up to other people’s expectations of you, you don’t actually get to be yourself. So of course you’re going to end up feeling a little.. lost sometimes,” he said, shaking his head slightly. Man, that was lame. You’re more eloquent than this.

Betty watched his face intently as he spoke, her expression softening with every word. She wordlessly leaned forward and wrapped her arms loosely around his shoulders in a slightly awkward hug. “Thank you, Jug,” she said softly.

She felt Jughead stiffen under her touch before he slowly returned her embrace. “Anytime, Betts,” he said, pulling back to smile encouragingly at her.

Betty looked like she was about to say something else as she shivered again, goosebumps appearing on her arms. “Are you cold?” he asked, standing and taking her hand to held her do the same.

She laughed a little. “Yeah, I guess I am. It doesn’t help that Reggie drunkenly dumped a very cold cup of jungle juice all over me,” she said gesturing to the still wet front of her dress.

As she spoke, Jughead had already begun to remove his jacket and before Betty could protest, he dropped it on her shoulders. “It’s not a big deal, I still have my flannel,” he said, effectively silencing her.

Betty smiled as she moved to slip her arms through the jacket sleeves. The combination of Jughead’s residual body heat and the sherpa wool gave her much needed warmth. She noticed that the jacket also smelled faintly of coffee and fresh pine, a combination she knew was unique to Jughead. What was new is how comforting she found the smell of it and hoped her blush wasn’t visible as she quietly thanked him.

“So, what do you say we stop waiting for our terrible excuses for best friends and get out of here?” he asked. Betty laughed and nodded. “Sounds like a great idea, Juggie.”

Jughead walked over to the bathroom door and tugged at the handle, only to find that it wouldn’t budge. He tried a few more times, hoping to somehow force the door open but to no avail. He turned to Betty, a concerned look on his face. “Um, I think we might be stuck in here.”

Betty frowned and also went to jiggle the door handle and tried to pull it open, with little success. She wordlessly turned to him as she pulled out her cell phone from her tiny purse, causing him to fish his own out of his pocket. She winced at the sight of 3% battery power, and quickly sent an SOS text message to Kevin, hoping he would see it before his own phone died as well. Jughead looked at his and grimaced. While his battery power was slightly better, he had approximately zero bars. “Sorry Betts, I don’t have any service in here.”

Betty sighed and nodded. “It’s okay. I just texted Kevin and if we’re lucky he’ll see it and come rescue us. Otherwise, we might be in here for a while since I doubt anyone is looking for us.”

Jughead chuckled at that. “Maybe not me, but you really don’t think Kevin will notice you’ve been gone for a while?”

She shrugged. “The more he drinks, the slightly less reliable he becomes. It’s kinda his M.O. when we go out,” she explained.

He nodded and hopped up on the expansive countertop surrounding the sink. “So,” he began. “Since we both would like to be anywhere but here, if you weren’t stuck at this party, what would you be doing?”

Betty grinned and primly perched herself across from him on the edge of the bathtub. “I would definitely kill to be in my pajamas right now, snuggled up in bed and finishing my latest crime novel,” she answered.

A woman after my own heart , Jughead thought. “Now you’re talking my language,” he said. “What have you been reading?”

***

Jughead was sure he had only spent an hour or so killing time on the second floor when he heard distinct footsteps coming down the hall and entering the bathroom. He froze, wondering who had stumbled upon his hiding spot. He was fairly certain that Cheryl had made it known to all party-goers that the second floor of her home was off limits and that no one (except himself of course) would dare cross her.

He couldn’t peek through the shower curtain without making his presence known, so he held his breath and hoped that whoever it was did their business and left before they could notice him.

“What are you doing here?” a soft voice asked. Jughead was stunned, as he immediately knew that said voice belonged to the one and only Betty Cooper. Had she seen him and was waiting for him to reveal himself?

But as she continued talking, he realized that she was actually talking to herself. His brow furrowed as she continued in a berating tone before telling herself to get it together.

Jughead knew he couldn’t in all good conscience sit there and say nothing. He knew no matter what he did, he would be surprising her and possibly embarrassing her, so he decided the safest route was to show himself through mildly self-deprecating humor.

Thankfully, it seemed to work and she didn’t seem too upset with him. What he didn’t expect to be comforting her approximately five minutes later, followed by handing her his jacket when he saw that she was cold. And he definitely didn’t think he would end up accidentally trapped in the bathroom with her for a couple of hours, effectively forcing them to spend more time together.

Jughead would have assumed they would have fallen into an uncomfortable silence at some point, but instead he found himself animatedly talking to Betty about their favorite books and films, about their possible college plans, and everything else in between. It was like no time had gone by and that they had always been the best of friends. He realized, with a pang in his chest, that they could had been had it not been for his selfish logic that insisted he push her away.

While they had started out sitting across from each other, they somehow had currently ended up sitting next to one another on the surprisingly large, plush bath mat next to the tub. Jughead leaned back against the cool porcelain and turned his head slightly to look at her, taking her in. Even in a stained party dress and smudged makeup, he still thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

He knew that keeping her at arms length the last few years had made it easier to deal with how he felt, but being all but forced to interact with her for only a couple of hours brought back the quiet, almost painful yearning he had felt in his heart since he was 14.

As they sat there and talked, he thought about telling her. What did he have to lose? He would never be able to recreate this moment again and even if she let him down gently (because Betty Cooper was nothing but kind-hearted), they would both be out of Riverdale soon enough. Granted, it sounded more and more like they would end up in the same city but New York was still much bigger than their hometown.

“Earth to Jughead, come in Jughead,” Betty giggled, waving her hand in front of his face. “Did I lose you there for a second?” Jughead blinked, realizing he zoned out for a minute while mulling over what to say and well, how to say it.

“Sorry Betty, I think I’m starting to come down with cabin fever,” he joked. “Not that you haven’t been great company.”

Betty grinned brightly and turned her body towards him, studying his face. The grin slowly faded away as she studied his face. Jughead suddenly felt nervous under her gaze, unable to sense what she was thinking.

“Juggie, why did we stop being friends?” she asked softly. He frowned at the question.

“What do you mean? We are friends. Here we are, being friendly,” he said as he gestured between the two of them.

Betty frowned at him. “I mean, we clearly get along really well--we always have--but we haven’t been actual friends since freshman year.” She looked down at her hands in her lap. “I could feel you pulling away and... I’ve always wondered, did I say or do something wrong?”

Jughead’s heart broke slightly at that. Of course Betty would assume it was her fault, not his. “No Betty, of course not,” he said quickly. “It’s just… look at you. And look at me. You’re beautiful and popular and run nearly every club in school while getting straight A’s. I’m the loner weirdo who lives in a trailer park with his deadbeat dad. There was no way our childhood friendship would survive high school. So, I guess I thought I would do us both a favor and put some distance between us.”

Okay, that was… almost the whole truth. Kinda forgot to mention the part where I was head over heels for her and did it for really selfish reasons , he thought.

Jughead panicked slightly as Betty’s frown deepened and abruptly stood up, standing over him. “Jughead… that is such BULLSHIT,” she declared as he gaped at her.

“What?” he mumbled, scrambling to stand up as well.

“You heard me, I said it’s bullshit,” she said angrily as she began to pace the length of the bathroom. “Do you really think that little of me? That becoming a cheerleader and homecoming queen and all these other things that don’t even matter would make me snub you? That it would make me think I was better than you? I would NEVER do that.”

“No, of course not, that’s not what I meant,” he said as he tried reach for her arm. Betty pulled away and glared at him, causing him to shrink back slightly.

“Well then what did you mean? Because despite the conclusions you came to, I spent the last three years thinking I had done something wrong since you could barely stand being around me outside of the Blue & Gold,” she said, crossing her arms against her chest protectively.

Man up and just tell her , Jughead thought. “It wasn’t just that, Betty,” he whispered, looking down at his feet.

Betty sighed as she uncrossed her arms, letting them fall to her sides. “Then what was it, Jughead? Why didn’t you want to be my friend anymore?”

He took a cautious step towards her. “I was protecting myself.”

She tilted her head, confusion apparent on her face. “Protecting yourself? From what?”

Jughead took another step forward, closing the space between them. It’s now or never, Jones .

“From you,” he said simply, looking into her eyes. “I was protecting myself from you. Because…”

He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t put into words everything he had ever felt for her. Maybe because words just didn’t feel like enough.

Betty waited a few beats before gently prodding him to finish. “Because what?” she asked. He continued to stare at her and for a split second, she could have sworn she saw him glance down at her lips. “What?” she asked again.

In that instant, Jughead knew he could only express himself by taking action. He threw caution to the wind, placed his hands on the sides of her face, and kissed her. She gasped slightly before immediately leaning into it, a tiny smile on her face.

They couldn’t have been kissing for seconds or minutes or even an hour, Jughead had no way of knowing. All he knew was that she wasn’t pulling away and he couldn’t quench the spark of hope that had come alight in his chest.

As they slowly came apart, he opened his eyes to see she still had her eyes closed, a smile on her lips. Betty opened her eyes and blurted out, “You think I’m beautiful!”

Jughead laughed, pressing his forehead against hers. “Really? That’s what you’re thinking about in the middle of our moment?”

Betty also laughed, placing her hands over his. “Jughead, I…”

Before she could finish her sentence, the bathroom door sprang open with a loud BANG. They quickly jumped apart and turned simultaneously to the source of the sound. In the doorway stood a wild-eyed, incredibly drunk Kevin, panting from whatever excursion it took to get the door open.

“BETTY!” he screamed, pulling her to him into a tight embrace. “OHMIGOD, I’m so, so, so, sorry! I saw your text like, TWO MINUTES AGO, I’m the WORST friend in WHOLE WORLD. Please don’t HATE ME, are you okaaaaay?” he wailed.

Betty did everything she could to keep from laughing and made eye contact with Jughead, who somehow managed to look both irritated and amused. She gently patted Kevin on the arm. “Kev, it’s fine. Thank you for coming to my rescue.”

It was at that moment that Kevin realized there was someone else in the room. He looked at Jughead, confusion all over his face. “Jughead Jones,” he said, squinting at him. “What are you doing here? Did you get trapped too?” Kevin stopped for a moment before a drunken grin broke out on his face. “Did you guys get trapped ON PURPOSE? Like 7 Minutes in Heaven, but like, in a bathroom?”

Before either one of got a chance to reply, several things happened at once. There was a loud commotion downstairs that sounded like what Jughead could only assume was a wildebeest stampede, sirens, shouting, and Archie and Veronica appearing behind Kevin from thin air.

As Archie clumsily tried to fix his shirt and hair, Veronica’s deep red lipstick still smudged all over his face, Veronica launched herself at Betty. “B! Oh my god, we have to get out here! Someone called the cops, so let’s make haste!” she declared as she grabbed Betty’s hand and yanked her out into the hallway, Kevin following closely behind.

Jughead turned to look at his best friend, who smiled sheepishly. “You heard Ronnie, we gotta get going,” Archie said as he ushered him in the same direction. Jughead sighed, pretending that Archie’s profuse apology for abandoning him all night was somehow implied.

The first floor of Thornhill had clearly descended into utter chaos in a matter of minutes, with teenagers scrambling everywhere and Cheryl standing on top of what looked like literal throne, screeching that she would make whoever called the cops on her pay dearly.

Veronica guided their small group out the back and towards the cars that had been parked on the perimeter of the property. Even though they were now out of sight from law enforcement, a handful of party-goers still ran around frantically trying to get home while others, including the popular kids, lounged by their cars.

Jughead found himself slowing down as Veronica steered the group towards the cheerleaders and jocks. He hoped Betty might notice he was missing from their ranks but it seemed like his sudden absence had gone unnoticed.

He watched from a few feet away as Veronica and Betty chatted animatedly with Josie, with Betty regaling them both the saga of being trapped in the bathroom for a couple of hours. Archie immediately went over to Moose and Trev, fistbumping them and getting a couple of high-fives, no doubt due to the obvious action he got while the party was going on. Kevin then stumbled towards Josie, where they embraced and both began to laugh hysterically. They seamlessly rejoined the other popular kids while Jughead felt himself once again standing on the outside, looking in.

And just like that, Jughead felt like he had been unceremoniously dropped back into reality. Whatever happened during those few precious hours in the bathroom now felt like an alternate universe. And in the real world, despite long talks and bonding over crime novels and one amazing kiss, Betty Cooper just wasn’t meant for him. He chuckled bitterly and shook his head. You idiot. What made you think for even a second you could get the girl?

A sharp gust of wind caused Jughead to shiver, realizing that Betty was still wearing his jacket. He tugged his flannel on, took a few steps backwards and then spun on his heel, wordlessly turned around and walked away.

***

Betty couldn’t have predicted that getting stuck in a bathroom with Jughead Jones would be the most fun she’s had in what felt like a long time. It reaffirmed everything she had already known (that she and Jughead had always gotten along amazingly well) and confirmed something that she didn’t (that Jughead had apparently been carrying a torch for her all these years). Confronting him about their dissolved friendship led to his admission, followed by a kiss that awoke something in Betty she never knew was there to begin with.

Before she could respond, Kevin had coming crashing in, followed by the magical reappearance of both Archie and Veronica. The next thing she knew, they were fleeing Thornhill as the cops descended upon Cheryl’s home. She felt like she was running on pure adrenaline, kicked off the kiss and everything that followed.

As they finally came to a stop, Veronica whirled her around and demanded details. “Did I hear Kevin correctly when he said that you were stuck in the bathroom with Riverdale’s own Holden Caulfield?” she demanded.

At this point, Josie turned around and joined in on the conversation, her interest peaked. “Wait, what happened?”

And so Betty regaled them with the story, laughing at the absurdity of the situation. As Kevin came over and distracted Josie, she turned to Veronica and whispered, “V, before you guys showed up, Jughead and I… kissed.”

Veronica gasped and squealed. “Oh my god, swoon! B, that boy has been so into you for forever, I was wondering if he was ever gonna make a move. What did you say?”

In that moment, Betty’s eyes widened as she remembered she had never gotten the words out. She whirled around quickly, looking for Jughead. She turned to Archie, who was standing nearby. “Arch, have you seen Jughead? He was here just a second ago.”

Archie looked around and shrugged. “He probably just left. You know who he is. If he feels out of place, he tends to take off.”

Betty frowned deeply, looking down at the sherpa jacket she was still wearing and tugging it tightly around her body. 

***

Jughead was slightly dreading going to school on Monday morning. He may have received a check-in text from Archie after his disappearing act, in addition to a handful of texts and phone calls from Betty that he ignored despite his overwhelming sense of guilt in doing so.

With large headphones securely over his ears, he strode into down the main hall and headed straight for his locker. With focus on his what was in front of him and music blasting into his ears, he failed to notice when Betty walked up next to him, waiting patiently for him to notice her.

As he closed the door to his locker, he finally realized that Betty was to his left, his sherpa jacket in her arms and looking fairly displeased. Jughead swallowed hard and tried his best to feign ignorance as he slowly pulled his headphones off.

“Hey Betty,” he said weakly. “Um, thanks for bringing back my jacket--”

“Jughead,” she said sharply. “Do you make it a habit of kissing girls, disappearing into the night, and not returning their calls?”

He sighed heavily and leaned against the row of lockers. “No, but come on Betty. Who are we kidding? One night trapped in a bathroom together doesn’t change anything. You’re still you and I’m still me. So, I can just go back to being invisible and hopefully finish high school relatively unscathed.”

Betty said nothing, staring at him with a frown on her face. He looked away and rubbed the back of his neck nervously. When he looked back up, Betty had closed the space between them. Jughead stood perfectly still as her gaze went from piercing to gentle. She placed both hands on the sides of his face and drew his lips down to hers. He had stop himself from gasping out loud. Betty was kissing him, at school . In front of everyone at school .

There was something about kissing Betty that made time stand completely still and again, Jughead found that he had no idea how much time had passed until she pulled away, that same small smile on her face that he saw the night of the party.

“You're not invisible. I see you, Jughead Jones,” she said in a endearing tone. “And I like what I see. Because I like you too.That’s what I wanted to say that night. And I know you’re convinced that this could never work but I might have spent the weekend putting together a presentation that says otherwise--”

Jughead leaned in and effectively silenced her with another kiss. When he pulled away, her eyes remained closed as he stroked her cheek with his thumb. “I’m sorry I left without saying anything,” he said softly. “And it seems like I should stop fighting the inevitable, mostly because it sounds like you’re not about to give up anytime soon.”

Betty grinned at him. “I rarely do,” she agreed. He pushed away from the lockers and his hand quickly found hers, their fingers interlocking. “Walk me to class?” she asked as they made their way down the hall.

He smiled at her and nodded. “Anything for you Betts.”

They only took a few more steps before Jughead paused, causing Betty to look up at him questioningly.

“Except parties,” he amended. “No more parties.”

She laughed and kissed his cheek. “No more parties.”