American Sweetheart (Sweet Pea)
“Every snake has a soft underbelly…And she’s yours.”
What were supposed to wear to a biker bar? Especially one housing the deadliest gang in at least a 50 mile radius? According to your mom, environmentally safe, cruelty-free leather boots, black skinny jeans, and a dark flannel.
“I’m not gonna get shot am I?” You asked, climbing onto the back of Jughead’s motorcycle. You sent a silent thank you to your mom for making you wear a shirt long enough to tuck into your pants. You knew your bunny underwear would be on show for everyone to see if you hadn’t.
“Nah. As long as you stay with me, you’ll be okay.” Jughead promised before ripping out of the trailer park.
By the time you got to the Whyte Wyrm, you were conflicted. Part of you knew that Jughead wouldn’t let some Serpent kill you, but you were still nervous. You had never been in a bar before, let alone a Serpent bar. Or maybe the nerves were just a side effect of Jughead’s terrible driving.
As you approached the doors to the building, you had the sudden urge to back out. To turn around and go home far away from the Serpents.
“ Jug I just remembered I have a project for Phillips due tomorrow,” You nervously lied. Jughead shook his head, “You and I both know that’s a lie. Come on, I promise they won’t bite.”
You figured he had a point and trusted him, so you let him pull you into the Serpents’ Den. Unfortunately, by the end of the night you weren’t so sure.
The night had started out fine. You helped Toni wipe down the sticky bar and she told you all about what it was like being in the Serpents. You had actually begun to have a pretty good time…Until Sweet Pea came in. You could practically feel the rage radiating off of him. He was a bomb waiting to explode, and you could hear the countdown ticking. When his eyes landed on you, the countdown reach 00:00.
“Why the hell is this Northsider in our bar?” He growled out to Toni, glaring at you like you killed his dog. Though, you wouldn’t be surprised if he killed his own dog. He seemed like the type.
“Dhe came with Juggy, Sweet Pea. Chill out,” Toni replied, sliding a man across the bar another beer. Sweet Pea sneered.
“Why? So she can go run back to her little Bulldogs and tell them everything we have planned? Hell, maybe she’s planning to sell us to the Ghoulies. Is that your master scheme, Princess?” He growled out, leaning down so you were eye-to-eye. “Sell us to the Ghoulies for some money? Maybe even for protection? God knows it a little Northside Princess like you will need it around here.”
“That’s enough, Sweet Pea,” Jughead shot back at the angry boy. “She’s my friend and she wouldn’t do that. She’s going through some things so I figured it’d do her some good to get out of home for a couple hours. Now lay off.”
Sweet Pea scowled, something you noticed he did a lot of, before turning around and walking away to a pool table surrounded by some of the guys you saw him with around school.
“Jug, maybe I should head home,” You sighed, getting off of the stool you sat on. “Don’t let Pea run you off,” Toni sighed. “This whole Black Hood nonsense has everyone uptight. He may be in the Northside for now, but you never know if or when he’ll make his way down here. He’s not as bad as he seems, I promise.”
You gave her a small smile. “Thanks, Toni. I should still head home, my brothers will probably start blowing up my phone soon,” You lied, knowing good and well that your brothers were more than likely holed up in their rooms playing mindless video games for “education purposes”.
Toni frowned before scribbling number down onto a napkin, “Alright. But here, hit me up for some girl time soon, okay?”
You smiled and promised her you would before letting Jughead whisk you off onto his motorcycle for the second time that night.
After what felt like forever, Toni had convinced you to sit with the Serpents at lunch on the days you didn’t sit with your brothers. Travis and Donovan called it kidnapping, she called it shared custody. It was on one of the days Toni had stolen you away to a table outside that things seemed to get interesting.
Like usual when you were in the same area, you and Sweet Pea regarded each other upon sight with mutual disdainful looks. On this day though, he had a large bruise around his left eye. “Wow, nice black eye, Pea. What the hell happened to you?” Toni asked as you sat down beside her, giving a smile to Fangs, one of the Serpents that didn’t despise you like Sweet Pea did.
“Andrews.” Sweet Pea responded, turning his attention to some sort of blueprint the others all had their attention on. “We had a little rumble between us and that fucked up Red Circle kid. Serpents against Bulldogs. Red’s girl pulled a gun out. Now we’re getting revenge on those stuck-up Northsiders. No offense there, Princess,” He added on as a mocking afterthought with a smug smirk to you. He could never seem to miss an opportunity to mock you.
“Sweet Pea, why can’t you just call her by her name?” Toni sighed, shaking her head at the boy. Sweet Pea shrugged. “Princess, Babydoll, they’re basically the same. Proper, perfect, stuck up, privileged.”
“At least my name doesn’t make me sound like a rip off of My Little Pony,” You mumbled to yourself. Apparently you didn’t mumble quiet enough, seeing as the group surrounding you broke into snickers while Sweet Pea shot you a glare.
“Shut the hell up,” Sweet Pea hissed, silencing the group. Everyone was quiet, eyes on the blueprint before them…
“Friendship is magic…”
The My Little Pony line, whispered all too seriously by Fangs sent everyone into a fit of laughter, Toni spitting out a bit of her water on Fangs in the process.
Sweet Pea sent you a cold glare as if to say, “This is your fault.” You just gave him a slight grin in return.
After everyone had calmed down, Jughead finally made an appearance. Sweet Pea glanced up from where him and Fangs were discussing the plan for the apparent “Revenge Plot” when he spotted Jughead. He stood up to his full height, eyeing the boy. “Nice article your girlfriend’s mom wrote.”
“Yeah… I saw that,” Jughead replied. “Dilton Doiley said he was stabbed, and a bunch of you guys jumped him.”
“Idiot stabbed himself,” Fangs retorted. “With his own knife.” Wow, you thought to yourself. I always knew he was an idiot…But this? This is a whole new level of stupid.
“And we didn’t jump him,” Sweet Pea added. “There was a fight. Bulldogs versus Serpents. And you see this?” He pointed to the black eye you had noticed earlier angrily. “Your boy Andrews gave it to me. Just before his girlfriend shot a gun into the air.”
Jughead’s eyes widened in shock. “What happened?”
“And of course,” Sweet Pea continued, ignoring Jug’s question. “Northsiders get off scot-free. And the rest of us are hauled in by the police.”
“It’s payback time,” Fangs stated, jaw clenched tight.
“What are you guys talking about?” Jughead questioned, looking around until his eyes fell on the paper. “What is… What is that?” He demanded, eying the paper. “Is that a pipe bomb?” He looked down to you and Toni quickly, before returning his gaze to Sweet Pea and Fangs.
“Fogarty’s cousin served in the army. He’s gonna build us something.,” Sweet Pea informed him.
“We’ll do it after hours. We’re gonna shut the Riverdale Register down once and for all,” Fangs stated, nodding his head.
“You think blowing up a building is going to make things better?” Jughead exclaimed, looking as if he was ready to pop off.
“Can’t get any worse,” Sweet Pea seethed.
“Yeah, Sweet Pea, it can. Let me talk to Archie, let me figure this out, okay?”
“Man, that’s your answer for everything!” Sweet Pea snapped. “Talk and more talk! And we don’t even know who you stand with. Us? Or them.”
You watched as Sweet Pea leaned down against the table, palms flat on the tabletop. “You can’t be half a Serpent.” He glowered. He was leaned down close enough that you got a whiff of cologne mixed with cigarettes and exhaust. You’d be lying if you said it didn’t send chills down your spine.
He stood back up, tapping Fangs’ arm as they all walked off, leaving just you, Toni, and Jughead again.
“Great,” Jughead murmured as he sat down.. “So Archie started World War III.”
“Northside has been dumping on us for years,” Toni declared. “Your dad tried to keep the peace. Avoid the bloodshed. Now that he’s gone, idiots like Sweet Pea think there’s only one path and one solution. Violence.”
You looked down, imagining how that must have felt. To have other people judge you for no reason other than what side of the town you were born in. To have someone that kept an all out war from starting, only to get him ripped away from you for a crime he didn’t commit, then for whatever crimes they could pin on him.
No wonder they hated Northsiders…
That night, you were playing cards at the bar with Toni and Fangs when Jughead walked in, wearing the Southside Serpent jacket that he told you Tallboy had given him when his dad was arrested. You and Toni shared looks of shock when he announced he wanted to join the Serpents.
You were even more surprised when a day or two later, you were back at the Whyte Wyrm, this time on a favor from Jughead to be with him while he completed the next part of his initiation. You had to admit, if being a serpent meant you could keep Hot Dog, you would consider it an important option.
Sweet Pea was completely and utterly against you being there, claiming it was a “Serpents Only” event. After some persuading you were let in. Well, after they made it clear that if you told anyone what went on you would be severely punished.
You sat beside Toni the entire time, watching as Tallboy and Jughead shouted at each other. You chose to use that time to observe the Serpents in their main habitat. You had seen a good majority of the younger serpents in school at some point or another and they were always tense. Here, they were more relaxed. They knew that if they got attacked, their family would stick up for them.
Eventually, you gave up on observing the Serpents as a whole and decided to observe one particular Serpent with a neck tattoo that towered above over half of the other occupants. He was preoccupied watching Jughead recite the Serpent laws, so you allowed your eyes to wander over his face.
He was attractive, even you had to admit that. any girl attempting to rebel from her parents would certainly come to him first. But, you couldn’t help but wonder what lies beneath the dark, brooding surface. Was there a truth to the name Sweet Pea? Or was he the same asshole through and through?
Unfortunately for you, while you were debating if Sweet Pea really was the type that would eat popcorn and laugh while watching someone get murdered, Sweet Pea realized someone was watching him. His gaze travelled around the room as he moved away from the tank containing the snake and knife that Jughead was to retrieve.
His eyes met your own zoned out ones as he crossed his arms. Toni nudged you, whispering a “stop staring.” Pulled back into reality, your face flushed red as you realized you had been caught staring at Sweet Pea by both Toni and Sweet Pea himself. You quickly dropped your gaze from Sweet Pea onto Jughead, unable to hide your own embarrassment.
Sweet Pea took that opportunity to do his own little analysis of you. He found it strange that a Northside Princess like yourself could fit in so well with the Serpents without some sort of ulterior motive. Jughead trusted you, and he trusted Jughead well enough. He was their leader’s son after all. Still, it was strange seeing such an obvious Northsider surrounded by Southside Serpents all the time. Especially one that didn’t cower in their presence like the other Bulldogs did.
You usually keep quiet, but every now and again you’ll snap back at something he says, like comparing you to a Damsel in Distress, surrounded by a bunch of big bad dragons.
You were happy to remind him that he was a snake, not a dragon, and that most large snakes aren’t actually venomous, which is why the largest resort to constricting their prey.
He had to admit, you were pretty adorable when you talked back to him. In the same way a puppy is adorable playing with a big dog and thinking they’re winning when they’re not.
After Jughead’s hand was bandaged, you sat by the bar with him and Toni, listening to him complain about being bitten by a rattlesnake while Sweet Pea simultaneously informed him when his last task would be. Eventually, after five minutes of Toni insisting the snake had had its venom glands removed, Tallboy walked over.
“Good job, Jughead. I’m sure FP would be proud to see you following in our footsteps,” He praised, clasping him on the shoulder before turning to you. “So, Babydoll. You’ve been spending a lot of time with our younger Serpents. You thinking about joining too?” Your eyes widened, “I don’t think I’m cut out for the gang life,” You joked. “Nonsense. A gang is just a family. You don’t have to be a certain type of person to be part of a family. I’m sure Toni here would enjoy some company from another girl. Think about it, okay?”
Tallboy walked off as Toni turned to you. “I think you just got Tallboy’s blessing to join the Serpents. Should I go ahead and start up the tattoo machine now?” She joked. “Oh totally,” You replied with a laugh. “I want it right on my left wrist in pink and blue.”
“I mean, it wouldn’t really be a bad idea, Babydoll,” Jughead stated, tightening the bandage on his hand. “With that psycho Blackhood out on the streets it’d help for a tiny girl like you to have some protection. No offense.”
Toni nodded slightly. “And, you could help me boss Fangs around,” She laughed.
“No.” A voice declared, loud and serious. you all turned around to see who spoke, eyes landing on a serious-looking Sweet Pea.
“Relax, Pea. It’s just a joke,” Toni replied, rolling her eyes at the angry boy.
“I don’t care. Don’t even joke about that. She might actually start to think it’s a good idea. People like her don’t belong in the Serpents.”
You narrowed your eyes at him, crossing your arms over your chest. “People like me?”
“People like you. Privileged, spoiled little Northsiders that think you can just do whatever you want. Newsflash, just because you moved to the Southside doesn’t make you a Southsider. Or a Serpent. So don’t get any ideas, Princess.”
You gritted your teeth, barely refraining from yelling at Sweet Pea and telling him just where he could shove his attitude. Closing your eyes, you took a deep breath, forcing yourself to relax. “I’m going home. I’ll see you later, guys.”
Forgetting your hoodie on the counter, you pushed your way out of the Wyrm before Jughead or Toni could stop you.
Though life was much different on the Southside, there were some things that seemed better than on the Northside. One of those things was the stars. On nights that you couldn’t sleep, much like tonight, you could sit on the roof of your trailer and try to find as many constellations as possible.
The peaceful quiet of the trailer park also made it easier. You could concentrate more on your thoughts than wondering which idiot was getting arrested for underage drinking again (most of the time, it was Reggie Mantle). Occasionally, the roaring of motorcycle engines would temporarily cut through the silence and crickets, startling you enough to lose your train of thought. Thankfully, once the motorcycles had passed it would be easy to find where you had left off.
Unfortunately for you, the next motorcycle didn’t stop until it was right in front of your house. Peeking down from your spot cocooned in a blanket on the roof, you spotted the black Harley Davidson and its leather-clad rider. Furrowing your eyebrows, you climbed down from the roof, walking until you stood in front of the bike.
“What do you want?” You questioned, pulling the blanket around you tighter, hoping it would hide the embarrassing sheep pajamas you wore. Sweet Pea held up a familiar purple hoodie, the one you had forgotten at the bar. “Why didn’t Jug just bring it to me?” You asked, taking the hoodie from his outstretched hand.
“He’s staying out late. I was on my way by anyways,” He replied before pausing. “And Toni made it very clear if I didn’t apologize for what I said to you she would have my balls on a silver platter.”
“So, I’m sorry for what I said and… please forgive me,” the boy in front of you forced out, grimacing as if it hurt him to say those words to a Northsider.
You bit down on your bottom lip, processing his apology. “Okay… I’ll forgive you, on one condition.”
Sweet Pea sighed, running his hands down his face. “And what is that?”
“You have to buy me a milkshake. Then I’ll forgive you.”
He cocked an eyebrow, sitting back on his motorcycle. “A milkshake?” He asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Mhm. A banana milkshake from Pop’s.” You couldn’t let him off too easy. So what better than making him buy you something from a place on the Northside of Riverdale?
“Of course it has to be on the Northside,” He complained, rolling his eyes.
“Yep!” You replied happily. He revved the engine of his bike.
“What?” You asked, eyes widening slightly.
“I said get on. As in onto the motorcycle.”
“I can’t just go in my pajamas!” You exclaimed.
“Oh come on. They can’t be that bad,” He argued, pulling the blanket away from you enough to see your pink sheep pajamas. Once he saw them he busted out in laughter. Not even laughter. He was borderline cackling at your pajama choices.
“Shut up! I’m going to change.” You grumbled, stomping into your trailer.
About ten minutes later you emerged in lightwashed jeans, a V-neck, and black boots your brothers had bought you the previous year. Thankfully, Sweet Pea had stopped laughing by the time you walked out of the door, instead giving your new outfit a once-over. He apparently couldn’t find anything wrong with it, sliding forward silently and handing you a helmet with a mumbled “I don’t wear it anyways.”
“Hold on tight,” He called before speeding away from Sunnyside as your arms wrapped tightly around his middle. He smirked slightly at the death-grip you had on him, noticing how it tightened the faster he went. So he may have pushed the speed limit a lot on the way to the diner, but terrifying you was his version of payback for making him travel to the Northside diner.
While you drank his milkshake and Sweet Pea ate his burger, you frequently quizzed the Serpent about random things, him giving blunt answers in return. Eventually, all the questions came to the one question you had been curious about for a while now.
“Why did you join the serpents?” You questioned, stealing one of his fries.
Sweet Pea raised an eyebrow at you, contemplating his answer. “Well, I’m sure you’ve realized by now most of us don’t have very happy family lives. Drugs, alcohol, abuse, a lot of us deal with those problems. For me it was less initiation into a gang and more of coming home for the first time. The Serpents are the family most of us didn’t have growing up. It’s a place where no matter who or what you are, you’ll never be discriminated against. You’ll always be welcome.”
“Except for people that came from the Northside, right? Excluding those that have family in the serpents like Juggy.”
“Look, if this is about what I said we agreed I was forgiven if I bought you the milkshake so drop it,” He shot back. You opened your mouth to retort, only stopping when you saw the familiar car of Reggie Mantle pull into the parking lot.