Skin to Skin
Jughead Jones doesn’t know how the crimson crescents ended up on his palms.
Betty Cooper is clueless when it comes to the messages on her arms.
Soulmate AU where all the little marks and injuries belonging to Betty and Jughead start finding themselves on each other’s skin.
A/N: I’m always a sucker for AUs! Hope you enjoy this!
Jughead Jones is almost done with an incredibly important meeting when it first happens.
Jason Baltimore, the editor of the Long Island Publishing House, is sitting across him, fiddling with a ballpoint pen as he addresses Jughead. They’ve been in this windowless room for about two hours now, and Jughead can’t help but curse whoever designed this building. Hidden away in the streets of Manhattan, this place took an arduous amount of effort to find, and the sort-of dingy exterior almost made Jughead do a one-eighty and turn back. Sure, this is the first publishing house that liked my book, but I’m sure I can find another. He’d thought, but he’d shaken his head and made his way in.
“Mr. Jones, are you listening?”
Jughead’s head snapped up, blue-green eyes meeting brown. “Sorry, yes, it’s just a bit stuffy here.” He said.
“Well, I’m sorry, Mr. Jones, but we’ll have to conduct the rest of our meeting here.” Mr. Baltimore says, visible sweat stains peeking out from under his armpits.
Jughead nodded and fiddled with his watch. “Yeah, that’s okay. I’ll manage.”
“So we’ve got two problems.” The blonde, slightly chubby man, says. “One, your name is Jughead.”
Jughead raises his hands defensively. “So what?”
“You’re going to risk ridiculing yourself. People will end up laughing at your name on the cover instead of noticing the title.”
“Or,” Jughead says, leaning forward, “I’ll take them by surprise. ’The Anatomy of a Murder’ will be all the more unique, considering the fact that its content is so serious.”
Mr. Baltimore mimics his movement, resting his elbows on the desk between them. “At the acquisitions meeting, this issue was brought up, Mr. Jones.”
“So I will convince them.” Jughead Jones was a stubborn man.
Mr. Baltimore wipes away a droplet of sweat. “Let’s say you don’t succeed. Would you, maybe, consider an alternative? I don’t suppose your real name is Jughead.”
Oh, no. No way was ‘Forsythe Jones’ going to be put on the cover of his first book; there was a reason he preferred ‘Jughead’ over that ridiculous name. (Ironic, considering the fact the Jughead was pretty ridiculous, too.)
Jughead shakes his head. “Let’s just say my real name is worse.” He eyes the editor in front of him. “It looks fine on paychecks and insurance forms, but not on a novel.”
“Perhaps a pseudonym, then?”
Jughead sets his mouth into a thin line.
“No, then.” Mr. Baltimore says, gauging his reaction. “Mr. Jones, I advise you to think this over, and get back to me on Wednesday.”
He flips open his laptop. “Now, the next issue I want to discuss… well, it’s not an issue, but something I would like you to know…” He turns the laptop face towards Jughead. “You’re twenty two years old. You’re a senior at NYU. Probably the youngest among a huge community of authors.”
Jughead nods. “I’m well aware of that.”
“Mr. Jones, your style is unique, and your writing is brilliant, but generally, books by younger authors don’t tend to be as successful as others, and I hope you’re prepared for such a situation.”
Jughead bites his lip. “I know, Mr. Baltimore. I hardly expected this book to get picked up by a publisher in the first place, and I’m thankful to you, I am. But, I think that the masses will like it. I truly do.”
“I am hopeful, too, Mr. Jones- can I call you Jughead, by the way?”
“I am hopeful too. Just preparing you. Moving on,” Mr. Baltimore says, fanning himself with Jughead’s manuscript. “Oh, for God’s sake- someone get the Air Conditioner working!” He yells after stalking to the door and sticking his head out.
Thank you, Jughead thinks, because he doesn’t feel too comfortable about the fact that his manuscript is now a makeshift fan. Plus, the need for fresh air is only increasing.
“Now,” Mr. Baltimore says, once he’s settled in his chair again, “You need to create accounts on social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Reddit if you want to discuss theories with your readers, and all the likes.”
Jughead internally groans at the Twitter and Instagram part, but he knows it’s necessary. The Tumblr and Reddit part he’s fine with, though. He’s been on those sites for years now.
“Could I borrow a pen?” Jughead asks. He needs a reminder, and writing on his forearm is a habit he’s had for many years. Once he Mr. Baltimore gives him one, he jots down a sentence onto his pale skin- Remember to succumb to the true giants of social media.
“And finally, Jughead, we’re assigning you an agent. Though you won’t need him as much if your book, well, doesn’t gain popularity, it’s still better to have one at hand. I’m giving you his number, shall I text it to you or will you write it down?”
Jughead’s phone is currently at a repair shop- it’s an iPhone 3, he’s been able to survive with that archaic thing for years now, but finding a store that actually fixed them was a huge task. But his screen had cracked badly, and Jughead has too many notes on it to buy another one without recovering stuff from this one.
“I’ll write it down.” He grabs the pen, once again, and etches the set of numbers Mr. Baltimore dictates to him.
“Well, Jughead, I’ll see you on Wednesday. This meeting was a pleasure, and I’m glad that I’ve decided to publish your book. But, think the name over.”
Jughead smiles, blushing ever so slightly. “Thank you, Mr. Baltimore.”
He grabs his bag and shrugs his leather jacket (courtesy JB) onto his shoulders and stands up. He has a shift at Barnes and Nobles’, and then a paper to write for his film study course, so he needs to hurry.
That’s when it happens. His palm suddenly stings, like it’s been cut, and Jughead winces with surprise. He opens his hands, palms up, looks at them, and sees that they’re bleeding. His fingernails have cut open the skin of his palm, and smears of blood marr the white skin.