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Endgame

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“I guess that makes this…” He wanted to say something concrete. To admit he’d always liked her. To tell her he’d always felt like he paled in comparison to Archie. To explain how nervous he was, that he believed she deserved so more than he had to offer but by god, he wanted to try his best and be his best for her. He’d never felt that before. It had to mean something more than he could express.

He was a writer damn it! How could words escape him now when he needed them most? He’d always had a response at the tip of his tongue, waiting for the right opportunity. But now, so many thoughts flew around his skull that he had trouble concentrating on just one. Is this what it felt like to be young and in love?

Jughead was suddenly glad he was at a loss for words if for no other reason that it prevented him from saying something so obnoxiously clichéd out loud. Young and in love? The serpents would laugh him out of the Southside if they knew he was this soft.

Besides, life was for writing. His articles were what mattered. He had no time to live and love. Yet here he was, stood with the girl next door who had plagued his dreams.

“Us.” The blonde offered softly.

Despite the whirlwind tearing up his mind, she managed to ground him with one word. As if his awkward inability to give them some kind of labelled distinction didn’t matter to her. There really was something specially about the girl they claimed to be a girl-next-door. She was anything but.

Jughead’s eyebrows rose in surprise despite himself. It was as if he couldn’t really believe that she had melted his doubt so succinctly. “Really?”

It was Betty’s turn to be bashful. She clutched her left arm, that hung limply at her side nervously. It was well known that she had loved Archie from a young age. That they had been ‘endgame’. Maybe Jughead only wanted to be her friend. That he felt awkward playing second fiddle to Archie. Maybe she wasn’t enough for him- Maybe she should just ask him for clarification. She shook off the mental tirade and chose to ask him.

“If you want..?”

“Yes I do.” He responded before she finished her question. “Very much actually.” He said with a confidence that erased any fears Betty had. Her eyes lit up and she smiled and everything seemed like it might be alright for a moment.

“I don’t think your mother will approve.”

“She doesn’t approve of anything.” Betty replied, pulling at her pale pink sweater. She hung her head low and stared at her white socks. They still had a small filigree cuff around the ankle, just like the ones her schoolmates used to wear when they were little. Jughead stepped forward and tilted her chin up softly.

“It’s ok you know.” He mirrored her earlier comment, a smirk pulling the corner of his lips up.

“It will be.” Betty replied with a warm smile, her hand reaching up to meet his.