For The Ages
Jughead is crazy nervous about the thing currently weighing down his pocket.
A/N: okay so I’ve been on a chick-flick spree which resulted in this cheese-filled one shot. Fair warning: this has copious amounts of fluff and zero smut. Thanks for reading!
“You okay, Jug?” Betty asked, eyeing her apparently too-nervous-for-words boyfriend as he shuffled on his feet, unable to stay still.
“Yeah, no, I’m fine. It’s just a bit chilly, wouldn’t you agree?” He asked and she shrugged, thankfully not asking for his jacket as they walked down the empty streets of Riverdale. It had been a while since they had come back here. After everything that had happened with Jason and Fred and Cheryl, Jughead and Betty couldn’t wait to get out of this small, once-perfect town. The only people they missed were their families – but Riverdale itself they were all too ready to bid goodbye to (well maybe except to Pop Tate).
“It’s weird being back here, isn’t it? Being alumni in Riverdale High and everything,” Jughead said, as they turned a corner. Betty’s smile was laced with nostalgia as she smiled at the empty streets. Riverdale had become even smaller since their leaving. It seemed most of the town had a similar idea about the safety of Riverdale following all the chaos that had happened.
“Yeah. I mean, I know this town wasn’t ever really safe but it still makes me feel… safe – is that weird?”
“It’s understandable,” Jughead said, slipping his hand into hers and intertwining their fingers. She smiled up at him.
“So, remind me why you wanted to come to Riverdale, again?”
“I told you! My dad wanted to see us.”
“Your dad wanted to see you.”
“Betty, by this point, I’m pretty sure he loves you more than he loves me. When you went to get the pie, he wouldn’t stop talking about you. It was actually borderline creepy,” Jughead said, rolling his eyes. Betty chuckled as they walked past the newly constructed mall, where the drive-in had once stood. They looked at it and sighed. It was so out of place in Riverdale. The fanciness of a mall was unnecessary and stood out as too glamorous in the quiet neighbourhood. The couple eyed it distastefully.
“I mean, I guess it adds a new layer…?”
“It’s hideous, Betty,” he replied matter-of-factly and Betty had to agree.
“It really is the nail in the coffin that is Riverdale, isn’t it?” She echoed his words back at him and he grinned at her.
“Don’t remind me, Cooper. It was a dark time for me,” Jughead said, although they both knew he had written almost too many articles about his beloved drive-in since. Of course, they had all remained on his laptop – god knows people in New York couldn’t give less of a shit about a tiny drive-in closing in Riverdale and the sentiments it awakened in one of the best investigative journalists in the city. Besides, publishing articles about the drive-in sort of went against the whole good riddance feeling.
Betty glanced at her watch:
10:00 p.m. it read and she frowned. Jughead wanted to go to see Pop Tate (apparently the drive-in wasn’t where the sentimentality ended) but surely he would know that the diner would be closed right now. After all, he had basically lived there for a major part of his life.
“Jug, are you sure Pop Tate’s going to be up this late?” She asked as they managed to tear their eyes away from the anomaly that was the mall and continue their stroll.
“I told him I was coming so yes, I think he’ll stay open. Especially since I gave him the most business he’s ever had,” he said, wearing this accomplishment like a badge of honour. Betty raised an eyebrow at this in amusement, flustering him.
“What? He told me. He even had my picture put up in the diner when we left,” he said, although his ears were turning a little red. His mentioning the day they left brought back a flood of memories to Betty. Jughead and her had managed to get into universities in New York while Veronica and Archie were separated by an ocean – Archie was going abroad to study music. But, in their case, distance did make the heart grow fonder, it seemed. Betty and Jughead soon found themselves to be academic rivals which somehow only seemed to make their relationship stronger.
They were the couple that wasn’t meant to last. The couple that was running on “borrowed time” (as Jughead so eloquently put it in a fit of anger). And yet, here they were, seven years later – walking hand-in-hand as if they’d just gotten together last week.
“Isn’t this what people like us – who have gone through what we’ve gone through – do?”
For the second time Jughead’s words echoed in Betty’s head. It made her smile to see where they were. Walking in the same place where they had started. It brought a smile to her face which Jughead noticed.
“What is it?”
“The last time we did this, there was a killer on the loose,” she replied and he laughed.
“I mean, statistically speaking, there is probably at least one right now, too.”
“Shut up. You know what I mean.”
“It’s nice,” he agreed and she smiled, adjusting her hand in his.
They approached the diner. It had somehow remained the only constant in Riverdale. The sign was still lit up and the warmth from within welcoming as they entered. The jukebox was already playing softly when they walked in and Betty sighed, allowing nostalgia and a real feeling of home wash over her as she inhaled the familiar scent of burgers and coffee. You had to look closely to see any changes – the booths were slightly more worn, the jukebox dustier, the floor holding a few more stains – but it remained more or less the same. Jughead hung back to shut the door behind them as Betty walked forward towards their regular booth.
“Where’s Pop Tate? In the–” she stopped short when she turned around to face Jughead. With both hands, he was holding a small black box. It was unassuming but Betty stood with bated breath.
Somehow she hadn’t seen this coming.
But now that she thought about it, it all made sense: the nervousness, the insistence on going to the diner, Jughead constantly feeling his pocket throughout the evening.
“Betty Cooper,” he began and then paused and Betty saw tears form in his eyes. She stood there frozen, waiting.
“Betty Cooper,” he began again after swallowing a few times, “you have been everything to me. For seven years, you have been my rock, my support system, and the only person who has believed in and stood by me through thick and thin. When I told you my dad wanted us to come to Riverdale that wasn’t strictly true. Well, actually it was true – he did badger me to come,” Betty let out a laugh at this and only then was aware of tears in her own eyes, “but I more wanted to meet your family. Not your dad – couldn’t care less about him – but I wanted to meet Polly. I wanted to meet Polly so I could ask her if I could–” he paused again, words apparently failing him. Betty took a step towards him, raising her eyebrows, asking him to continue.
He swallowed again.
“Not that I need anyone’s permission or that you’re anyone’s to give away. But I spoke to Archie who spoke to Veronica, who spoke to Kevin and they told me that I should talk to Polly. I know it’s old-fashioned but you know, it’s me – I’m an old soul. Sorry, I’m rambling,” he said, looking away and hastily wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. Betty gave another laugh at this.
“It’s just… I never thought I would ever get… well, this. I never thought I could ever be so lucky. I never thought I would be lucky enough to meet my soulmate. Good god, this sounds cheesy as hell, doesn’t it? Sorry. I guess what I’m saying is: Betty Cooper, I had been irrevocably in love with you for the last seven years of my life and they have, without doubt been the best seven years a man could possibly hope for. With that said, would you do me the absolute honour and privilege of being my wife?”
She slowly came closer and, placing her hands on his cheeks –
And she kissed him.
No matter how unexpected this had been, she realised, in that moment, that she didn’t even have to think about what her response was going to be. It had always been there – at the tip of her tongue just waiting to be said.
After all, their love was one for the ages.