Summary: The moment when Jughead can’t take his dad’s drunken stupors anymore and decides to leave.
The slam of the door.
The whoosh of the fridge door opening.
The telltale clink of the bottle cap being removed.
Jughead knew these sounds all too well, and didn’t even bother checking to confirm his suspicions.
“Your old man’s had a rough day, Jug. I need this.”
Jughead ignored his internal dread as he watched his father plonk down in front of the box television, drowning out his troubles one swig at a time.
While he understood why his dad sought out alcohol every night, once the lights had been dimmed and curtains shut; he didn’t agree with his method of coping.
Jughead’s eyes followed his father as the older man got up and limped to the fridge, opening it and grabbing another beer.
He bit his lip, contemplating whether to bring this second one up, and let his gaze meet FP Jones’s, as he limped back to the chair in front of the TV.
He must’ve already had something before coming home; his eyes were unfocused and red.
“Um, how was your day, Jug?” His father mumbled.
Jughead looked back down at the macbook in his lap. The cursor of the next chapter in his book blinked before him, like it was uncertain; it mirrored Jughead’s thoughts.
“Fine, dad. I got an A+ on an English essay.” He said, his eyes following the upward motion of the brown bottle as FP Jones took another sip.
“Good, good.” The older man turned his attention to the TV set in front of him, slouching downwards, swiveling the chair from side to side.
The next few minutes passed in silence. Jughead tried to focus on his writing, but continued to keep an eye on his dad.
In all honesty, he was afraid. FP Jones had gotten drunk the last night, and the one before that, and countless times before. His mom wasn’t here to chastise him (not like it helped anyway) and Jellybean wasn’t here to let her innocent gaze guilt their father into putting that dreaded liquor down.
He let his mind wander to three weeks ago- the day his mom had decided she’d had enough, packed up her suitcases, made Jellybean do so too, and stormed off to her parent’s house. Jughead was meant to go with them, but some part of him forced him to stay and look after his dad.
It wasn’t like he was succeeding, anyway.
His thoughts were interrupted when his dad stood up once again, albeit unsteadily, lopsidedly stalking to the fridge.
Jughead set his laptop aside and stood up. “Hey dad, it’s late.”
“Then go to sleep, Jug.”
“Dad, I mean-”
Jughead walked forward and grabbed the bottle in his dad’s shaky palms. “Dad, that’s enough, please-”
“What are you gonna do, huh? Jug? You don’t understand. Go to your room.”
“Dad, please, stop-”
Jughead’s dad took a step forward. Jughead took one back, skin paling.
“Listen, Jug. You love me, yeah?”
Jughead pursed his lips and nodded.
“Then go and sleep.”
“Dad, I can’t, if you keep downing one beer after another.”
FP Jones placed a threatening palm on his son’s chest.
“You don’t know what it’s like. Your wife hasn’t left you. You haven’t lost your job. You haven’t been forced to do ungodly things just for some cash, just so I can sustain you. You didn’t have to give up half your savings for hospital bills. You didn’t-”
He broke down, putting his head in his trembling hands.
Jughead’s heart broke, unused to seeing his father so fragile and open. He took a step forward, reaching out to comfort his dad, but stopped midway when his dad shot up and flipped a table over.
Jughead’s eyes widened in fear. “Dad, stop-”
Forsythe Pendleton Jones the Second paid no heed to his son, dragging his hand across the small kitchen’s counter, sending condiments, empty beer bottles and papers to the floor. He slammed the cabinet doors, his scream of frustration mingling with its noise.
Jughead moved in front of his dad, throwing caution to the wind.
“STOP!” He yelled, wincing when his dad’s hand came down and struck him on the cheek.
Everything stilled. Time froze. Both men stared at each other, one with surprised wide eyes and the other with bloodshot ones.
Yes, Jughead had watched his dad fall into a multitude of drunken stupors, but not once did his dad ever raise his hand against him. Not even when the whole family lived under the same roof.
But now, things had obviously changed. An alarm blared inside Jughead’s mind, telling him to leave immediately, before it gets worse.
Jughead stepped away, arms in front of him, incase the stockier man decided to take things further.
The latter was the the first to break the silence. “Jughead, I didn’t mean that-”
“I know you didn’t, dad.” Jughead’s voice came out soft and broken. He stepped away and gathered whatever belongings he could see.
“Jughead, I’m sorry, please stay…”
Jughead looked up at his dad. The man was strong, years of working at a construction site had ensured that, and Jughead’s cheekbone ached. Hopefully, a bruise wouldn’t form.
“I need to get away for a while, dad. Only temporarily.”
“No, Juggie, don’t-”
“Temporarily, dad.” Jughead said, not meeting his eyes. He didn’t know if the words coming out of his mouth were true. “I’ll call you.” That included. His dad clamoured after him, begging him to stay, but Jughead couldn’t bring himself to give in.
After ensuring that he took some spare clothes and the bare necessities, he opened the door of their less-than-adequate trailer and spared a look back at his dad.
“I’m sorry, dad.”
And then he shut the door behind him.
Little did he know that it would be the start of the worst period of his life till date- misery and loneliness awaited him, but Jughead remained oblivious as he walked away from the pleas of his father, gritting his teeth and planning his next course of action.