orange streaks

shakespeare aesthetics

romeo and juliet: suburban july. scraped knees, bruised knuckles, blood in your teeth. bare feet on hot concrete. restlessness. your high school’s empty parking lot. love poems in your diary. a window open to coax in a breeze. burning inside. an ill-fitting party dress, a t-shirt you cut up yourself, the time you tried to give yourself bangs. biking to your friend’s house. bubble gum. gas station ice. the feeling that you’ve met before. rebellion. a car radio playing down the street. cheap fireworks. a heart drawn on the inside of your wrist with sharpie. switchblades. red solo cups. dancing in your bedroom. screaming yourself hoarse. running out of options. the forlorn-looking basketball hoop at the end of the cul-de-sac. climbing onto your roof at night while your parents are asleep. flip-flops. a eulogy written on looseleaf. the merciless noontime sun.

hamlet: speaking in a whisper. holding your breath. a browning garden. a half-remembered story. furniture covered with sheets. fog at dawn, mist at twilight. losing touch. the ethereal space between winter and spring. the soft skin at your temple. the crack in the hallway mirror. things you’d say if you knew the words. uncombed hair. books with writing in the margins, books with cracked spines, books with lines scratched out. prayers on all souls’ day. a chipped ceramic bathtub. a cold stone floor. uncomfortable awareness of your own heartbeat. the sparrow that got in your house. shadows. the creek you played in as a child. a dirty night gown. a big black t-shirt. a collection of your favorite words. soil under your nails. ghost stories. the strangeness of your own name in your mouth. deep silence. exhaustion. a cliff with a long, long drop down.

twelfth night: wicker deck furniture. new england summer. big dark sunglasses and a blonde bob. a storm over the ocean, patio umbrellas flapping in the wind. chlorine smell. muffled laughter. sarcasm. starched cuffs. day drinking. bay windows. the idea of love, love for the idea of love, love for love’s sake. hangovers. wandering over the sand dunes. a vagabond with a guitar, a crab fisherman with tattoos, a pretty boy with a slackened tie. a light house. growing too close. boat shoes. feeling yourself change. finger guns. big floppy sun hats. double-speak. a song you keep listening to. turning red under their gaze. margaritas drunk on an inflatable pool lounger. string lights on a balmy night. sleepy june days. fights you’re unprepared for, hope you weren’t expecting, pranks that go too far. bad poetry. pining. pool noodles. becoming less of a stranger.

macbeth: the space where your grief used to be. a bird that’s lost an eye. old blood stains. heavy blinds. the smell of sweat, the stillness after battle. a fake smile. a curse. the taste of metal at the back of your tongue. your house, unfamiliar in the dark. a dusty crib. a sulfur smell. an orange pill bottle. streaks in the sink. a black cocktail dress. your hand on the doorknob, shaking. chilly breeze. crunching from the gravel driveway on a moonless night. clenched hands. a rusty swing set. a flashing digital clock stuck on 12:00. a snake that crosses your path, an owl that watches you, a dog that runs when you approach. red smoke. dark clouds. cool steel. tile floors. footsteps in the hallway late at night. a baggy suit that used to fit before. visions. insomnia headaches. nursery rhymes. being too far in to go back now. 

much ado about nothing: the high drama of small towns. a pickup truck, military supply duffel bags in the hall, hugs all around. tulip bulbs. a wraparound porch, a pitcher of iced tea. barbecue. a rubber halloween mask. someone on your level. indian summer. ill-timed proclamations. stomach-clutching laughter. rushing in. not minding your business. crepe paper. white lies. secrets written down and thrown away. southern hospitality. homemade curtains in the kitchen, a sink full of roses. hiding in the bushes. old friends. the wedding dress your grandma wore, and her mama before her. a dog-eared rhyming dictionary. camomile with honey. the intimacy of big parties. lawn flamingos. gossip. a crowded church. friendly rivalries. unfriendly rivalries. shit getting real. love at five hundredth sight. not realizing you have a home until you’re there. 

king lear: cement block buildings. power lines that birds never perch on. the end of the world. useless words. rainless thunder, heat lightning, a too-big sky. arthritic knuckles. broken glass. chalk cliffs. the pulsing red-black behind closed eyes. something you learned too late. wet mud that sucks up your shoes while you walk. a cold stare. empty picture frames. empty prayers. the obscenity of seeing your parents cry. a treeless landscape. bloody rags. grappling in the dark with reaching hands. the sharpness at the tips of your teeth. the blown-out windows of skeletal houses. decay. jokes that aren’t jokes, shutting up, holding your tongue. prophecies. aching muscles, tired feet. stinging rain. invoking the gods, wondering if the gods are listening, wondering if the gods are dead. white noise. shivers. numbness. the unequivocal feeling of ending.

a midsummer night’s dream: wet soil/dead leaves smell. listening to music on headphones with your eyes closed. wildflowers. the distant sparkle of lightning bugs. a pill somebody slipped you. fear that turns to excitement, excitement that turns to frenzy. mossy tree trunks. a pair of yellow eyes in the darkness. night swimming. moonlight through the leaves. a bass beat in your chest. a butterfly landing on your nose. a kiss from a stranger. a dark hollow in an old tree. glow-in-the-dark paint. drinking on an empty stomach. a twig breaking behind you. spinning until you’re dizzy. finding glitter on your body and not remembering where it came from. an overgrown path through the woods. cool dew on your skin. a dream that fades with waking. moths drawn to the light. giving yourself over, completely. afterglow. the long, loving, velvety night.

Celebrating 17 Years of NASA’s ‘Little Earth Satellite That Could’

The satellite was little— the size of a small refrigerator; it was only supposed to last one year and constructed and operated on a shoestring budget — yet it persisted.

After 17 years of operation, more than 1,500 research papers generated and 180,000 images captured, one of NASA’s pathfinder Earth satellites for testing new satellite technologies and concepts comes to an end on March 30, 2017. The Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite will be powered off on that date but will not enter Earth’s atmosphere until 2056. 

“The Earth Observing-1 satellite is like The Little Engine That Could,” said Betsy Middleton, project scientist for the satellite at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 

To celebrate the mission, we’re highlighting some of EO-1’s notable contributions to scientific research, spaceflight advancements and society. 

Scientists Learn More About Earth in Fine Detail

This animation shifts between an image showing flooding that occurred at the Arkansas and Mississippi rivers on January 12, 2016, captured by ALI and the rivers at normal levels on February 14, 2015 taken by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8. Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory  

EO-1 carried the Advanced Land Imager that improved observations of forest cover, crops, coastal waters and small particles in the air known as aerosols. These improvements allowed researchers to identify smaller features on a local scale such as floods and landslides, which were especially useful for disaster support. 

On the night of Sept. 6, 2014, EO-1’s Hyperion observed the ongoing eruption at Holuhraun, Iceland as shown in the above image. Partially covered by clouds, this scene shows the extent of the lava flows that had been erupting.

EO-1’s other key instrument Hyperion provided an even greater level of detail in measuring the chemical constituents of Earth’s surface— akin to going from a black and white television of the 1940s to the high-definition color televisions of today. Hyperion’s level of sophistication doesn’t just show that plants are present, but can actually differentiate between corn, sorghum and many other species and ecosystems. Scientists and forest managers used these data, for instance, to explore remote terrain or to take stock of smoke and other chemical constituents during volcanic eruptions, and how they change through time.  

Crowdsourced Satellite Images of Disasters   

EO-1 was one of the first satellites to capture the scene after the World Trade Center attacks (pictured above) and the flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. EO-1 also observed the toxic sludge in western Hungary in October 2010 and a large methane leak in southern California in October 2015. All of these scenes, which EO-1 provided quick, high-quality satellite imagery of the event, were covered in major news outlets. All of these scenes were also captured because of user requests. EO-1 had the capability of being user-driven, meaning the public could submit a request to the team for where they wanted the satellite to gather data along its fixed orbits. 

This image shows toxic sludge (red-orange streak) running west from an aluminum oxide plant in western Hungary after a wall broke allowing the sludge to spill from the factory on October 4, 2010. This image was taken by EO-1’s Advanced Land Imager on October 9, 2010. Credit: NASA’s Earth Observatory

 Artificial Intelligence Enables More Efficient Satellite Collaboration

This image of volcanic activity on Antarctica’s Mount Erebus on May 7, 2004 was taken by EO-1’s Advanced Land Imager after sensing thermal emissions from the volcano. The satellite gave itself new orders to take another image several hours later. Credit: Earth Observatory

EO-1 was among the first satellites to be programmed with a form of artificial intelligence software, allowing the satellite to make decisions based on the data it collects. For instance, if a scientist commanded EO-1 to take a picture of an erupting volcano, the software could decide to automatically take a follow-up image the next time it passed overhead. The Autonomous Sciencecraft Experiment software was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and was uploaded to EO-1 three years after it launched. 

This image of Nassau Bahamas was taken by EO-1’s Advanced Land Imager on Oct 8, 2016, shortly after Hurricane Matthew hit. European, Japanese, Canadian, and Italian Space Agency members of the international coalition Committee on Earth Observation Satellites used their respective satellites to take images over the Caribbean islands and the U.S. Southeast coastline during Hurricane Matthew. Images were used to make flood maps in response to requests from disaster management agencies in Haiti, Dominican Republic, St. Martin, Bahamas, and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The artificial intelligence software also allows a group of satellites and ground sensors to communicate and coordinate with one another with no manual prompting. Called a “sensor web”, if a satellite viewed an interesting scene, it could alert other satellites on the network to collect data during their passes over the same area. Together, they more quickly observe and downlink data from the scene than waiting for human orders. NASA’s SensorWeb software reduces the wait time for data from weeks to days or hours, which is especially helpful for emergency responders. 

Laying the Foundation for ‘Formation Flying’

This animation shows the Rodeo-Chediski fire on July 7, 2002, that were taken one minute apart by Landsat 7 (burned areas in red) and EO-1 (burned areas in purple). This precision formation flying allowed EO-1 to directly compare the data and performance from its land imager and the Landsat 7 ETM+. EO-1’s most important technology goal was to test ALI for future Landsat satellites, which was accomplished on Landsat 8. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

EO-1 was a pioneer in precision “formation flying” that kept it orbiting Earth exactly one minute behind the Landsat 7 satellite, already in orbit. Before EO-1, no satellite had flown that close to another satellite in the same orbit. EO-1 used formation flying to do a side-by-side comparison of its onboard ALI with Landsat 7’s operational imager to compare the products from the two imagers. Today, many satellites that measure different characteristics of Earth, including the five satellites in NASA’s A Train, are positioned within seconds to minutes of one another to make observations on the surface near-simultaneously.

For more information on EO-1’s major accomplishments, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/celebrating-17-years-of-nasa-s-little-earth-satellite-that-could

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com/.

“Haskins Point Painted Pink”

I was late for this sunset, just getting set up as the last bit of colour was fading away.
I only shot 88 photos, so there’s not a lot of movement in this time stack, but I think the colours are interesting.

how each dad proposes to you
(tell me if you want me to stop with these ‘all dad’ things)

⛪Joseph: during a grill get together with all the neighbours around, before he fires up to start cooking, he calls everybody’s attention and thanks them all for coming before moving onto how grateful he is for the people in his life, and then how blessed he is to have you, etc. and proposes in front of all your close friends.

💪Craig: during an early morning jog, on your route down the main street, across the park and beside the lake. you both stop by the bench you do your mid run stretches, he knows your habit to stretch and stare across the lake with its still water, watching the sun start to kiss the surface and the dew on the grass, he gets on a knee behind you and calls softly to you ‘bro’.

🔪Robert: he’s a private man, he takes you out to the lookout, you whittle as per normal, he whittles a ring which you find odd but robert can be odd, you sneak a peak at his handiwork and can’t stop yourself before commenting how nice it is, he pauses, then with a voice gruffer than usual asks ‘how about this one’ and pulls a velvet box from out of his inner pocket, flipping it open with a thumb to show a simple silver band with a thin band of onyx running around the centre.

🎣Brian: he can be upfront about a LOT of things…basically ALL things if he wants, but this is something he got very bashful over. it was while you were both out for a walk at the park with Maxwell and Daisy, you had noticed he had been fiddling with Maxwell before you’d all left but had brushed it off until Maxwell is out running and Brian calls him back before making a random comment of ‘what does he have..’ and you noticed something dark dangling alongside his handkerchief, so he kneel to check and tell Brian it’s some sort of satin pouch with something hard inside?? He tells you to open it, where you find a box and the ring and through your stunned silence, he is stammering, all confidence blown away with the wind, asking if you’d be willing to marry lil’ ol’ him and you have to put him out of his misery with a kiss and a ‘yes’.

🦇Damien: he is traditional. you already know this. he writes a letter to Amanda at college, asking for her blessing which she eagerly gives. one day while you’re both at his house, he invites you to walk through his garden and you assume another flower is in full bloom, but it’s not a flower, it’s his affections for you reaching their utmost peak. the sun is setting and the sky is a canvas of streaked orange and pinks and purples on the horizon which is a very complimentary backdrop for the flowers. he takes your hands in his at the end of the walk among the most in season flowers, and recalls meeting you and every moment in between, how you have brought nothing but a sense of peace and love into his life and how he would like nothing more than for that to continue forever more.

☕Mat: he sure as hell wouldn’t be able to do this in front of a bunch of people. he’s had the ring for weeks, constantly waiting for the Right Moment and it comes after a gig you’d both attended of one of your favourite bands. You’d both just arrived back at his, the walk home having cooled off the sweat from the enclosed area and pressed bodies, these moments make you feel young until you both sit down and feel the relief in your feet and knees..but as you sit, Mat doesn’t join you..he gets on both knees in front of you, resting his chin on his crossed forearms on top of your knees and looks at you with a Soft Smile, asking if you had a good time, after you answer, he shuffles and grabs the box from his pocket and asks if you’d be up for having many more good times with him.

💯Hugo: he’s also a traditional man, gets Amanda’s blessing, takes you out to dinner to a small private restaurant you have been to once or twice before, you eat and drink and as you’re looking at the menu for dessert, he pushes out of his chair, comes around to you, dropping to a knee, takes your hand and says how much he appreciates you and loves you and Amanda and how he could not imagine a day without you by his side.

Take Me Out

Fandom: Boku no Hero Academia

Relationships: Bakugou Katsuki/Kirishima Eijirou

Characters: Bakugou Katsuki, Kirishima Eijirou, Bakugou Mitsuki, Kaminari Denki (brief)

Other tags: Misunderstandings, Bakugou’s Particular Brand Of Flirting, Some Heteronormativity

Anonymous said: For a bakushima prompt, I would love to see aggressively flirting Bakugou.

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Mitsuki eyed her son. He was glowering down at his curry, teeth clamped as though to bite back the words that just left his mouth. She wished Masaru were there, just so she could confirm her bewilderment with such a question. Was it unusual for a boy to ask his mother that? No. But Katsuki.

She raised her eyebrows at him, even if he was trying to glare a hole through his plate instead of looking at her. “You never want to hear that,” she informed him, noting the jump in his shoulders.

Katsuki swiped at his own hair, gripping at the roots. “Well I want to hear now,” he snarled.

“Even though every time I tried to tell you before, you threw a fit?”

“What did you say, bitch?!”

“Watch your mouth, brat!”

They locked eyes, Mitsuki challenging, Katsuki already wavering. “Fuck!” He snapped, “Are you going to tell me or not?” His voice didn’t have it’s typical inflections of rage. She studied his face, the turn of his brow. Mitsuki’s own irritation faded.

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Usually, I lie. At a party, someone asks the question. It’s someone who hasn’t smelled the rancid decay of week-dead flesh or heard the rattle of fluid flooding lungs. I shake the ice in my glass, smile, and lie. When they say, “I bet you always get that question,” I roll my eyes and agree.

There are plenty of in-between stories to delve into; icky, miraculous ones and reams of the hilarious and stupid. I did, after all, become a paramedic knowing it would stack my inner shelves with a library of human tragicomedy. I am a writer, and we are nothing if not tourists gawking at our own and other people’s misery. No?

The dead don’t bother me. Even the near-dead, I’ve made my peace with. When we meet, there’s a very simple arrangement: Either they’re provably past their expiration date and I go about my business, RIP, or they’re not and I stay. A convenient set of criteria delineates the provable part: if they have begun to decay; if rigor mortis has set in; if the sedentary blood has begun to pool at their lowest point, discoloring the skin like a slowly gathering bruise. The vaguest criterion is called obvious death, and we use it in those bizarre special occasions that people are often sniffing for when they ask questions at parties: decapitations, dismemberments, incinera- tions, brains splattered across the sidewalk. Obvious death.

One of my first obvious deaths was a portly Mexican man who had been bicycling along the highway that links Brooklyn to Queens. He’d been hit by three cars and a dump truck, which was the only one that stopped. The man wasn’t torn apart or flattened, but his body had twisted into a pretzel; arms wrapped around legs. Somewhere in there was a shoulder. Obvious death. His bike lay a few feet away, gnarled like its owner. Packs and packs of Mexican cigarettes scattered across the highway. It was three a.m. and a light rain sprinkled the dead man, the bicycle, the cigarette packs, and me, made us all glow in the sparkle of police flares. I was brand new; cars kept rushing past, slowing down, rushing past.

Obvious death. Which means there’s nothing we can do, which means I keep moving with my day, with my life, with whatever I’ve been pondering until this once-alive-now-inanimate object fell into my path.If I can’t check off any of the boxes—if I can’t prove the person’s dead—I get to work and the resuscitation flowchart erupts into a tree of brand-new and complex options. Start CPR, intubate, find a vein, put an IV in it. If there’s no vein and you’ve tried twice, drill an even bigger needle into the flat part of the bone just below the knee. Twist till you feel a pop, attach the IV line. If the heart is jiggling, shock it; if it’s flatlined, fill it with drugs. If the family lingers, escort them out; if they look too hopeful, ease them toward despair. If time slips past and the dead stay dead, call it. Signs of life? Scoop ’em up and go.

You see? Simple.

Except then one day you find one that has a quiet smile on her face, her arms laying softly at her sides, her body relaxed. She is ancient, a crinkled flower, and was dying for weeks, years. The fam- ily cries foul: She had wanted to go in peace. A doctor, a social worker, a nurse—at some point all opted not to bother having that difficult conversation, perhaps because the family is Dominican and the Spanish translator wasn’t easily reachable and anyway, someone else would have it, surely, but no one did. And now she’s laid herself down, made all her quiet preparations and slipped gently away. Without that single piece of paper though, none of the lamentations matter, the peaceful smile doesn’t matter. You set to work, the tree of options fans out, your blade sweeps her tongue aside and you battle in an endotracheal tube; needles find their mark. Bumps emerge on the flat line, a slow march of tiny hills that resolve into tighter scribbles. Her pulse bounds against your fingers; she is alive.

But not awake, perhaps never to be again. You have brought not life but living death, and fuck what I’ve seen, because that, my friends at the party, my random interlocutor who doesn’t know the reek of decay, that is surely one of the craziest things I have ever done.

But that’s not what I say. I lie.

Which is odd because I did, after all, become a medic to fill the library stacks, yes? An endless collection of human frailty vignettes: disasters and the expanding ripple of trauma. No, that’s not quite true. There was something else, I’m sure of it.

And anyway, here at this party, surrounded by eager listeners with drinks in hand, mouths slightly open, ready to laugh or gasp, I, the storyteller, pause. In that pause, read my discomfort.

On the job, we literally laugh in the face of death. In our crass humor and easy flow between tragedy and lunch break, outsiders see callousness: We have built walls, ceased to feel. As one who laughs, I assure you that this is not the case. When you greet death on the daily, it shows you new sides of itself, it brings you into the fold. Gradually, or maybe quickly, depending on who you are, you make friends with it. It’s a wary kind of friendship at first, with the kind of stilted conversation you might have with a man who picked you up hitch- hiking and turns out to have a pet boa constrictor around his neck. Death smiles because death always wins, so you can relax. When you know you won’t win, it lets you focus on doing everything you can to try to win anyway, and really, that’s all there is: The Effort.

The Effort cleanses. It wards off the gathering demons of doubt. When people wonder how we go home and sleep easy after bearing witness to so much pain, so much death, the answer is that we’re not bearing witness. We’re working. Not in the paycheck sense, but in the sense of The Effort. When it’s real, not one of the endless parade of chronic runny noses and vague hip discomforts, but a true, soon- to-be-dead emergency? Everything falls away. There is the patient, the family, the door. Out the door is the ambulance and then farther down the road, the hospital. That’s it. That’s all there is.

Awkward text messages from exes, career uncertainties, generalized aches and pains: They all disintegrate beneath the hugeness that is someone else’s life in your hands. The guy’s heart is failing; fluid backs up in those feebly pumping chambers, erupts into his lungs, climbs higher and higher, and now all you hear is the raspy clatter every time he breathes. Is his blood pressure too high or too low? You wrap the cuff on him as your partner finds an IV. The monitor goes on. A thousand possibilities open up before you: He might start getting better, he might code right there, the ambulance might stall, the medicine might not work, the elevator could never come. You cast off the ones you can’t do anything about, see about another IV because the one your partner got already blew. You’re sweating when you step back and realize nothing you’ve done has helped, and then everything becomes even simpler, because all you can do is take him to the hospital as fast as you can move without totaling the rig.

He doesn’t make it. You sweated and struggled and calculated and he doesn’t make it, and dammit if that ain’t the way shit goes, but also, you’re hungry. And you’re alive, and you’ve wracked your body and mind for the past hour trying to make this guy live. Death won, but death always wins, the ultimate spoiler alert. You can only be that humbled so many times and then you know: Death always wins. It’s a warm Thursday evening and grayish orange streaks the horizon. There’s a pizza place around the corner; their slices are just the right amount of doughy. You check inside yourself to see if anything’s shattered and it’s not, it’s not. You are alive. You have not shattered.

You have not shattered because of The Effort. The Effort cleanses because you have become a part of the story, you are not passive, the very opposite of passive, in fact. Having been humbled, you feel amazing. Every moment is precise and the sky ripples with delight as you head off to the pizza place, having hurled headlong into the game and given every inch of yourself, if only for a moment, to a losing struggle.

It’s not adrenaline, although they’ll say that it is, again and again. It is the grim, heartbroken joy of having taken part. It is the difference between shaking your head at the nightly news and taking to the streets. It’s when you finally tell her how you really feel, the moment you craft all your useless repetitive thoughts into a prayer.

At the party, as they look on expectantly, I draft one of the lesser moments of horror as a stand-in. The evisceration, that will do. That single strand of intestine just sitting on the man’s belly like a lost worm. He was dying too, but he lived. It was a good story, a terrible night.

I was new and I didn’t know if I’d done anything right. He lived, but only by a hair. I magnified each tiny decision to see if I’d erred and came up empty. There was no way to know. Eventually I stopped taking jobs home with me. I released the ghosts of what I’d done or hadn’t done, let The Effort do what it does and cleanse me in the very moment of crisis. And then one night I met a tiny three-year old girl in overalls, all smiles and high-fives and curly hair. We were there because a neighbor had called it in as a burn, but the burns were old. Called out on his abuse, the father had fled the scene. The emergency, which had been going on for years, had ended and only just begun.

The story unraveled as we drove to the hospital; I heard it from the front seat. The mother knew all along, explained it in jittery, sobbing replies as the police filled out their forms. It wasn’t just the burns; the abuse was sexual too. There’d been other hospital visits, which means that people who should’ve seen it didn’t, or didn’t bother setting the gears in motion to stop it. I parked, gave the kid another high five, watched her walk into the ER holding a cop’s hand.

Then we had our own forms to fill out. Bureaucracy’s response to unspeakable tragedy is more paperwork. Squeeze the horror into easy-to-fathom boxes, cull the rising tide of rage inside and check and recheck the data, complete the forms, sign, date, stamp, insert into a metal box and then begin the difficult task of forgetting.

The job followed me down Gun Hill Road; it laughed when I pretended I was okay. I stopped on a corner and felt it rise in me like it was my own heart failing this time, backing fluids into my lungs, breaking my breath. I texted a friend, walked another block. A sob came out of somewhere, just one. It was summer. The breeze felt nice and nice felt shitty.

My phone buzzed. Do you want to talk about it?

I did. I wanted to talk about it and more than that I wanted to never have seen it and even more than that I wanted to have done something about it and most of all, I wanted it never to have hap- pened, never to happen again. The body remembers. We carry each trauma and ecstasy with us and they mark our stride and posture, contort our rhythm until we release them into the summer night over Gun Hill Road. I knew it wasn’t time to release just yet; you can’t force these things. I tapped the word no into my phone and got on the train.

I don’t tell that one either. Stories with trigger warnings don’t go over well at parties. But when the question is asked, the little girl’s smile and her small, bruised arms appear in my mind.

The worst tragedies don’t usually get 911 calls, because they are patient, unravel over centuries. While we obsess over the hyperviolent mayhem, they seep into our subconscious, poison our sense of self, upend communities, and gnaw away at family trees with intergenerational trauma.I didn’t pick up my pen just to bear witness. None of us did. And I didn’t become a medic to get a front-row seat to other people’s tragedies. I did it because I knew the world was bleeding and so was I, and somewhere inside I knew the only way to stop my own bleeding was to learn how to stop someone else’s. Another call crackles over the radio, we pick up the mic and push the button and drive off. Death always wins, but there is power in our tiniest moments, humanity in shedding petty concerns to make room for compassion. We witness, take part, heal. The work of healing in turn heals us and we begin again, laughing mournfully, and put pen to paper.

Daniel José Older

Taehyung [rollerblading into Jimin’s room with sunglasses and five new orange streaks in his hair]: Chimchim, you’re not gonna fucking believe this.

The Most Annoying Thing

Summary: Reader is having a rough day and is extremely annoyed with Dean. Naturally, this leads to angry sex.

Word Count: 4000ish

Warning: all the smut, angry sex, brief rimming

A/N: Hope y’all enjoy some Dean porn! Feedback always appreciated! XOXO

Originally posted by demondetoxmanual

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anonymous asked:

"Who did this to you?" :) sterek :) pls & thanks [bonus points if Derek is the one who got hurt] ❤️

no bonus points sorry :(

“Who did this to you?” Derek grits out. He thought he was past this, the sort of anger that fills you up so completely that even speaking becomes a challenge - but apparently not.

Stiles takes a minute to answer, not due to raging emotions like the ones Derek is struggling with, but because he’s still rinsing blood out of his mouth, prodding a finger inside to check for broken teeth.

“I dunno,” he finally says, after he spits a mouthful of pinkish water into the sink. He says it flatly, not meeting Derek’s eyes in the mirror, while his heartbeat skips tellingly. “Some guys I didn’t recognize, a gang or something.”

“Bullshit,” Derek seethes. “This was personal.”

And it was. The damage is mostly on Stiles’ face - one eye already swollen half shut, and crusted with blood from the laceration on his brow where his head had hit concrete. His nose isn’t broken, but that’s more luck than anything. His lip is split in two places, raw and painful-looking. Derek’s sick looking at it. The wolf inside him howls at the idea that someone could do this to Stiles, to his mate - that they could know him and want to hurt him in this way. It’s driving him crazy. He wants to rip the world apart until whoever did this knows exactly what a travesty they’ve committed, until they regret Stiles’ pain as much as they ought to.

Stiles rolls his eyes and sighs, wetting a washcloth to gingerly dab at his bloody forehead. “It’s fine. You don’t have to leap in and avenge me, or whatever. Just forget about it.”

Derek growls, eyes flashing. “I can’t. Maybe you think it’s alright to just let it go, but I won’t turn the other cheek and pretend that the assholes who did this deserve to get away with it. I’m going to make them regret ever laying a finger on you. I want them to suffer. I’m sorry that I’m not like Scott, or your dad. You probably wish I was a better person who wouldn’t…”

“Now I didn’t say that,” Stiles says lightly, spitting into the sink again. He finally meets Derek’s eyes in the mirror, and there’s a cruel glint in his gaze that catches Derek’s breath and calms his wolf’s pacing anger. Stiles’ tongue prods at the larger split in his lip, a bead of fresh blood welling up for him to taste. When he smiles, there’s streaks of orange-red blood on his teeth. 

“This one’s personal, is all,” he says. His hands are tight on the rim of the sink, big and capable, and Derek would fall in love with him all over again if he wasn’t entirely gone on him already. 

“I don’t have to avenge you?” Derek says, less a question than a confirmation. He feels himself smiling to match Stiles’ wild grin, recognizing in his mate the same animal desire - eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth - that the rest of the pack never quite understands.

Stiles shakes his head. “Oh, no. I do appreciate the offer, but no.” His broad shoulders tense and release, the muscles visible under his shirt, and if Derek was the sort to feel sorry for his enemies he’d feel that way now. Stiles’ eyes refocus in the mirror so he’s meeting his own determined gaze, and he says, quietly, “No, I’ll take care of the avenging myself.”

The Quiet Game/A Pretty Picture (Connor M. x Reader)

AN; this is so fluffy and cute I’m getting flustered!!! enjoy babes!!!

WC; 981

TW; fluff overload, groping

You rolled your sweatpants up, smearing paint on your legs by accident. Your hair was up in a messy bun, and you were wearing a paint covered shirt. You took the clean paintbrush from behind your ear with a smile, bending over to pick up your paints from the sheet covered floor. Your music was blaring throughout the whole house.

You dipped your paintbrush in yellow paint and stepped forward, humming along to the song playing in the background. The brush ran across the canvas, blending yellow streaks with orange and red strokes. You were painting a sunset, the one you had seen at the Orchard with Connor. You would forever have the sunset image locked into your memories, you had seen it when Connor proposed to you in a tall apple tree.

You hoped Connor remembered the sunset too, since this was a gift for him. It wasn’t really a surprise, since he had seen it before. He just figured it was getting sold to one of your very many costumers, even though it looked familiar.

You couldn’t hear the bear feet padding gently down the hall, but you saw Connor stopped in the doorway out of the corner of your eye. You didn’t turn to look at him because you didn’t want to break your focus. Connor thought you hadn’t seen him, so he leaned up against the door with a loving smile on his face. He stood there for a few minutes, wondering why you hadn’t seen him. The confusion turned to a bit of frustration, so he walked into the room, stepping to the beat of your song.

“Hey, babe.” Connor called loud enough for you to hear him over the music. He furrowed his eyebrows when you didn’t answer, but fully understood what you were doing when you started to giggle.

“Oh? So you’re just going to ignore me, yeah?” Connor mumbled, turning your music down a bit. You had done this to Connor before, and it had become a slight game between the two of you. Connor had to try to get you to say something to him, anything at all counted. You lost if you talked, but won if Connor gave up.

Connor suddenly cleared his throat and started belting out the lyrics to the song you were playing, flinging himself across the room as a dance. You turned and watched him, a huge grin on your face. You wheezed when he ran into the wall and fell to the ground, panting. Connor’s pout turned into a smile as he watched you laugh. You looked up and wiped a tear, raising your eyebrows at the way Connor was looking at you. You shrugged and turned back to your painting, your face turning pink.

Connor managed to make you feel like you were his everything, despite being together since high school. People say high school relationships don’t last, but you and Connor were living proof against that opinion.

“Okay, wow. I think I deserve to win for those epic dance moves.” Connor mumbled, walking up behind you. You shook your head no and heard Connor dramatically gasp from behind you. You felt Connor really nearby, a weird warmth radiating from him.

“You’re so sexy.” Connor grinded on you, groping your boobs. You turned bright red and snorted, not letting him win that easy. You were a bit shocked, since he had never taken the game this far before.

“No?” Connor pouted, backing up. “Give me attention, woman!”

You turned around and smiled at Connor innocently. Connor smirked evilly and hugged you, reaching behind you to grab your cheap paints. You felt confused when Connor smeared his hand on your forehead and then stepped back quickly. You realized Connor had just smeared paint on your forehead and you smirked as well, grabbing pink paint and sauntering towards him.

“Oh, oh god.” Connor mumbled, walking around a blank canvas to hide. You jumped over the canvas and knocked Connor over, exploding pink paint all over the both of you. You smeared the paint onto Connors forehead with a large grin on your face. You heard Connor growl playfully as he grabbed a nearby pallet of different paints, throwing them at you. You laughed and reached over for a bucket of hot pink paint, dumping the whole thing on him. His eyes were wide, and he was laughing.

“Payback time!” Connor cried, flipping you over so he was on top of you. He tickled you like crazy, making you squeal and squirm. Pink paint was everywhere, with a mix of some other colors.

“O-o-okay!! Stop!” You laughed so hard it hurt your sides. Connor stopped tickling you and leaned back over you, hovering above your lips. Connor placed his forehead on yours and kissed you, mixing the pink paint on his forehead with the blue paint on your forehead.

“I win.” Connor whispered, sitting up quickly with a smirk.

“I hate you.” You mumbled, smiling at the pink paint in his hair and sitting up.

“Love you too, babe.” Connor snorted, pulling you into his arms and looking at the ‘blank’ canvas nearby.

“We made a beautiful painting, by accident.” You mumbled, looking up into Connor’s eyes.

“I’m sure we can make some other beautiful things by ‘accident’ if you know what I mean.” Connor smirked, raising his eyebrows.

“Okay,” you decided. “Let’s get to it.”

“Wait, really?”

“Yep. Let’s go take a shower, hm?”

Let’s just say you two had hung that painting up in your daughter’s nursery nine months later when she was born. There was mostly light pink paint splattered on it, with specks of purple, yellow, and blue. It was a pretty picture, overall. A pretty picture, just like your small but still growing family.

anonymous asked:

Obi-Wan as a cat Jedi. Specifically a talking, lightsaber-wielding cat species, with the physical capabilities of Puss in Boots - can swordfight, wear clothes, walk upright, speaks fluent basic. Generally underestimated due to his size, but it doesn't make him any less the Negotiator or Anakin's Master. Also, like every cat, he's not too fond of water, and there's plenty of cat body language such as rubbing your head against someone you like etc. Everyone else is still their original species.

Trying not to smile, Qui-Gon pointedly ignored the light rubbing by his elbow as he continued reading the newsfeed they had missed since they had been gone from the temple, his lips twitching when the rubbing became more insistent until a furry little head popped between his side and his elbow, quickly followed by the body that belonged to the head.

“Obi-Wan.” Qui-Gon chuckled quietly while trying to sound scolding, lifting his arm only for the feline to quickly take advantage, laying himself out over Qui-Gon’s thigh to rest his head on his master’s thigh. “Little one I was reading.”

“Then you’re sitting still and I can lay here.” His padawan countered smartly, settling with the sun shining down on him.

Weak for those large green eyes, Qui-Gon only sighed then reached in and scratched the soft ears carefully, smiling when instant purring filled the air. “Oh fine, you can stay there little one.” He teased quietly only to receive a happy meow in return.

Setting the pad aside, he focused on his ginger tabby of an apprentice, knowing how important social interactions were for Obi-Wan’s species, using his fingers at the others ears while rubbing along his spine, feeling the light arches of the slender body resting on him.

Not many of Obi-Wan’s species became Jedi, mostly because parents were reluctant to give up their kits to the temple, option to have them Force trained on the planet. Obi-Wan’s parents however had given up theirs, citing it a great honor as Jedi are peace keepers of the galaxy.

Or so the report Qui-Gon had read about his padawan cited.

Servalos kept their own council and did not share it with the Jedi, but Qui-Gon was grateful for his pawed and furry padawan who brought light into his world. So he wasn’t going to dig for information he was not welcome to.

“…Come on, lets go to the gardens, the sun is better there.” He chuckled quietly, sliding his arm beneath his padawan and standing with him them, moving towards the doors. “You can see if you can’t hunt a bird.”

“Master!”

Warm laughter filled their quarters.

()()()

Qui-Gon is dead.

Qui-Gon is dead and his silka beads mean nothing anymore to Obi-Wan because Qui-Gon, his pridemate and friend is dead.

His pridemate is dead.

“I didn’t know cats could cry.” Obi-Wan looked up at the voice, staring at Anakin, the boy from Tatooine as he stood in the doorway of the room the Queen had given him. The one he had promised to train, regardless what the council said about it.

Obi-Wan pushed of the bed and wiped his face with a paw. “I’m a Servalo. I’m not just a cat. My species were space flying at the same time humans were.” He whispered, his voice coming in low and rough from tears he had tried not to shed.

He can tell the boy is curious. Curious, frightened and sad.

Sad for Qui-Gon.

Curious about Obi-Wan.

Frightened of the future.

Obi-Wan stared at him then slowly walked over to him. “Did anyone help you find food?” He questioned, taking Anakin by the hand when the other shook his head. “I figured, they’re all so busy. I’ll find you some.”

“I didn’t think you liked me…” Anakin whispered while following the feline.

“I don’t know you enough to not like you Anakin. But you’re not a bad kid. And you’re a growing boy and growing boys should be feed.” Obi-Wan offered in return, unknowingly setting a firmer foundation for a close bond.

Anakin held tightly onto the paw and followed the feline.

()()()

“…How long has he been doing that?” Ponds whispered as the two Commanders stared at their respective Jedi.

“About an hour now. General Kenobi went up to him complaining about being wet and General Windu just picked him up.”

They continued to stare as Kenobi continued resting on Windu’s lap, soundly purring as his back was rubbed steadily by a broad hand, the Korun absently reading the battle field report with one hand as he continued the steady rubbing.

“To be fair, the first five minutes the General was kind of…smoking. I think General Windu dried him off with the Force or something.” Cody shrugged.

They continued watching as apparently finally the feline had enough and sat up, stretching his body gracefully before standing up and giving Mace cheek a small nose nuzzle, grateful for both the petting and the drying.

Cody was grateful for his helmet and he had a feeling so was Ponds as their jaw dropped.

“…Well he is a feline?” He tried meekly.

“No one is going to fucking believe us.” Ponds hissed.

Of course no one outside of clones and Jedi were going to believe them either when they all saw Obi-Wan furry little body make an orange streak as he threw himself at a magnaguard, toppled it, promptly decapitated the two beside it and then landed with enough force down to shatter the metal that made its head.

The magnaguard even had an odd sort of death flail before it went still as the Jedi continued forward without a backward glance, already moving on to the rest of the droid army. Cody swore as he tried to keep up with the streak of orange and beige.

‘Let no one call him any less of a Jedi for being a feline.’ He was almost amused. Almost.

()()()()

“…Obi-Wan come on.” The blond tried a coaxing tone as his former master continued stretching out in the sun, his head resting on the ground with his limbs spread out to soak up as much of the rays as possible. “You need to take a look at this please.”

“…Carry me.” Obi-Wan demanded.

“What?”

“Carry me. I’m not moving Anakin.” The feline huffed.

“I swear old man.” Anakin grunted but obediently moved over to the spot of sun and bent down, picking up the other Jedi under the pits. “I’m tempted to shake you.” He said as he lifted the other to eye level.

And promptly snorted when Obi-Wan licked his nose with a lazy look in his eyes.

“No you’re not.”

“No I’m not.” Anakin agreed, sighing at the others smug tone before he returned to the holo display, ignoring everyone else as he set Obi-Wan down on the projector, the others tail flickering as he took in the plan for tomorrow with a deep rooted purr.

6

Delirium is done! Beaded her hair using remnants of a bracelet from long ago. I think she’s super cute and incredibly photogenic with her luminous orange soda hair and wild streaks. The base for this doll is actually a lagoona model, and it’s perfect because of the round cheeks and flat nose and fishy details (her ears are fins, perfect for Del cos she’s all fishy anyway)

(Originally posted on my thirdtentacle art blog)

♢Between the Seams (1)

Originally posted by tyra2215

(( Time Travel AU ))  

(A/N): I’ve never been so excited to start a series in my life. I hope everyone enjoys reading as much as I had fun writing this! Heads up though, I have no idea how I’m gonna end this. Just get ready for a lot of emotional pain. Feedback is greatly appreciated!

Pairing: Jungkook x Reader x Jimin 

Genre: Expect lots of angst and smut, if I dare

Trigger Warnings: (For now) Strong language, very suggestive themes. 

Word Count: 4058

Description: ‘Travellers’ are a rarity in this world, and so are the two men you treasure the most; your best friend, Jeon Jungkook and boyfriend, Park Jimin. They are the constant in your life that you’re never ungrateful for and you’ve never felt happier with both of them always by your side. 

But everything as you know it changes entirely the day the universe decides to gift with you a nasty surprise, and for the first time in a long while, the future scares you. Your life gradually falls apart in front of your eyes, and there’s nothing you can do to keep it from crumbling away altogether.

Or is there?

Keep reading

Like Father, Like Son

Part 3 of 4

Find the previous two installments here: Revelations, Discovery 


“MUM!”

In less than a blink of an eye, she was gone. I sprinted the rest of the way to the stone she had touched, the screaming intensified then stopped. The wind had been knocked out of me and I found myself laying on the ground looking up at the orange streaks of dawn.

I groaned and rolled to my side, shakily trying to stand.

“Mum?” I croaked, the roaring in my ears seemed to echo off the stones, drowning my attempt to call out to her.

“Mum!” I tried again. Again nothing but the screaming roar reverberating from the stones. I scrambled to my feet and took off at a run down the hill towards the car, except it wasn’t there. The car was missing, as was any visible sign of a road. Trees grew in sparse patches across the grass of the rolling hills toward the water.

“Mum?” I whispered realizing with a sickening realization, she wasn’t there.

“Christ,” I groaned dragging my hands down my face. “What to do now? Think Brian, think! Where would she have gone?”

The momentary sunshine quickly disappeared behind clouds of gray and white, a storm was brewing. My pacing turned into a single direction run to a small cobbled, dilapidated cottage situated at the base of the hill. I made it inside the shelter of the cottage just as fat raindrops solidified and turned into snow. The air held a wet chill that seemed to seep into every crevice of the room, even the heavy wool of the clothing didn’t seem to be enough to stop a violent shudder from enveloping me.

I searched the room for any source that could be used to create a fire and saw a broken stool crumpled into a corner. Sighing in relief, I scrambled to the roughly hewn fireplace and sent up a prayer in thanks that mum took the time to teach me how to start a fire without modern conveniences. ‘A necessary skill,’ she’d always remarked.

“Where have you gone, mum? We don’t even know where Jamie went, let alone if he was still alive in the time we’ve arrived.”

Staring into the fire a sudden epiphany hit me like a sledgehammer. “Lallybroch.”

I didn’t know how many days ride or walk it would be to get to Inverness, let alone Broch Tuarach, but I wasn’t going to get there freezing in a hovel. Looking through the cracks in the stone, I watched as the snow fell then melted as soon as it touched the ground. I may just have a chance of making it down to the village before nightfall. But how to pay for what I need? My pockets were empty, but I patted them down anyway, as well as the cloak. A small jingling noise came from a hidden inner pocket of the cloak.

“Mum, you think of everything,” I said to the crackling fire as a poured small battered coins from a black leather pouch and a small roll of paper fell on top them.

Brian,

I understand if you decided not to follow me immediately, but if you do find yourself going back, these will be of use to you. I’m sorry I couldn’t procure you more, but if we find your father and our family, we shouldn’t need to worry overmuch about funds.

I hope you decide to find us, my darling boy.

All my love,

Mum

My eyes burned with tears that were threatening to form. Why couldn’t she have waited just a few seconds longer for me to catch up to her?

The walk to Inverness was longer than I anticipated. Dark had fallen and if at all possible, it got colder thanks to the persistent wind. I hobbled into the first establishment I saw, hoping I could find something warm, a place to sleep, and a horse to make this journey easier.

A frail-looking hand shot out and grabbed my wrist, squeezing tighter than I believed possible, “Ain’t ye a wanted man?”

I shook my head. “No, I’m not.”

“Sassenach filth!” The man spat, “Be gone from here!”

“I’m not English if that’s what you mean, I’m from Am–the colonies.”

“Yer as good as ‘em. Crooky won’t serve ye, so be gone!” He threw my arm back hard enough that I stumbled into the door frame.

“Gibbons! What are ye doin’ to my customers?” A menacing man yelled from behind a bar.

“He’s a Sassenach, an’ claims to be from the colonies.” Gibbons spat at my feet, glaring. “It’d be better if he was that bastard of a wanted man. At least then he’d be worth a pretty penny.”

“A sassenach! Is tha’ so? Do ye have coin, lad?”

“Yes,” I said with surprising confidence. “Do you know where I can find something to eat, maybe a place to rest, and procure a horse? I will not be staying long, just ‘til morning.”

“Och, aye. I can help ye wi’ all of these, but it’s no going to come lightly.”

I pulled out a few of the Stirling pieces and handed them over. “Will this due?”

The barman’s eyes widened. “Aye, lad, tha’ll do nicely. What’s yer name, I didna catch it before.”

“Fraser.”

The man’s eyebrows disappeared beneath shaggy dark hair. “Fraser ye say? O’ Lovat?”

I nodded tersely.

“Yer a ways from Beauly.”

“I’m not headed to Beauly. My family isn’t too far off from here, Broch Tuarach?”

“Ach, yer wi’ the Fraser-Murray clan then. Good folk there.” He said, slapping a tankard down before turning around to snag a bowl of something from a passing barmaid. “Drink, eat. It’s no an easy ride in this weather to Broch Tuarach.”

I coughed at the sting of the whiskey, stronger and more bitter than I was accustomed. The warm burn met my stomach as the rich taste of meat broth met my lips. I wouldn’t be shocked if I fell asleep at the bar for all to see, nor did I care. My legs ached from the walk, my fingers felt as though they were frozen into a curl, and my head pounded from the whirlwind of events from today. Tomorrow would only increase the pain and unease.

The following morning, my head still pounded, but my body didn’t ache from the cold, yet.

“Here ye are lad.” Crook, said holding out a wrapped parcel and the reigns to a gorgeous brown mare. “Sorry I canna give ye my best stallion, but Butternut will get ye where ye need to go. She’s strong and hearty. This weather will no deter her.”

“Thank you, sir. For the hospitality and the horse.”

He let out a bark of a laugh, “Dinna thank me lad! Ye paid for the hospitality as ye say. I’m gaining a mighty better price than ye are wi’ my grub and horse.”

I shook my head and smiled back at the jovial man as I mounted the mare. “Thank you all the same.”

“Lad?”

I turned in question.

“If ye see a Gwenalin Crook, tell her Archie sends his love. Can ye do that for me?”

“Of course,” I said puzzled, he nodded then slapped the hindquarters of Butternut and we were off.

As the days wore on, I was struck by the landscape before me. The mountains and the sky, such contrasts to each other were something from the imagination. The size and beauty could not be contained with meager words or thoughts. I felt as though I had stepped into the epics of Tolkien, White, or even Lewis. I could fully understand the magical beliefs and wariness of these people, and the stories that the land inspired.

I was so lost in thought that I missed the sound of hoofbeats and a man’s call until he was right upon me.

“Can I assist ye?” The man, who couldn’t have been much older than I, said as he stared quizzically at me.

“Oh! Yes, do you know if I’m close to the place called Lallybroch or Broch Tuarach?”

The man’s face lit up in a laugh, “Aye, but what business do ye have there?”

“I’m looking for someone and I believe she may have come here.”

“Do I ken ye? Ye look familiar,” He said not acknowledging my statement.

“No, we have never met. Brian Fraser,” I said holding out a hand. The man’s face went pale.

“Brian Fraser has been dead longer than I’ve been born. So who are ye really?”

My eyes went wide this time, of course, he wouldn’t know about me but his knowledge of my grandfather meant he must be family as well. “Are you by chance Young Jamie Murray?”

He went rigid in his saddle. “Aye, and answer me now, who are ye?”

“I’m your cousin, Brian James Lambert Beauchamp Fraser.” I said reaching out my hand, “James Fraser is my father.”

Young Jamie’s mouth fell open as he grasped my hand in a handshake. “Damned if he isn’t! That’s why I thought I knew ye! Christ, ye have the look of him. I’m surprised ye weren’t stopped by the redcoats on your journey here!”

I laughed, “I was accused of being a wanted man at a tavern in Inverness.”

Young Jamie let out a bellow. “That doesna surprise me in the least. Come on, Mam isna going to believe this.”

We rode in companionable silence to the estate, and I gasped in awe. The house, no longer dilapidated and condemned, was full of life and movement.

“Come on,” Young Jamie said, nodding toward the stables. “Ye can leave yer horse there, but I’m sure ye’ll be wanting to ride again soon. Ye said ye were looking for someone, but no one but trouble has been through these doors in a while.”

“What–?”

He cut me off with the shake of his head. “Ye’ll see soon enough. I canna wait to see how this unfolds.”

He leads me through the house to a study where a woman, hair dark and streaked with gray sat beside a man with a wooden leg, pouring over papers on the desk before them.

“Mam? Da?” Jamie said. They turned, eyes wide, and mouth agape, as though they were looking at a ghost.

Ticket to Anywhere

Beautiful aesthetic by @bughead4days
Dedicated to @betsforsythetrash

Betty and Jughead find their freedom in one another, until freedom becomes just another cage.
Or, change can be a good thing until it isn’t.

Warnings: lot of angst, some smut and minor mention of miscarriage.

Read on AO3


City lights lay out before us

And your arm felt nice wrapped ‘round my shoulder

I had a feeling that I belonged

I had a feeling I could be someone

– Fast Car, Tracy Chapman

~

It wasn’t that long ago that Betty Cooper couldn’t wait to be in high school.

Her mom, Alice, had taken her shopping for a new, light denim backpack, and stocked her up with fresh highlighters, ballpoints and notebooks. Betty always loved the cliché of new stationary. The first blank page of a single spaced, lined notepad – all crisp edges and smooth surfaces – was just so appealing. Her fingers itched to fill the pages with words (in perfect cursive, of course), to make notes from her new classes, get everything in its place.

Inevitably, three or so pages in, she’d end up using the paper to scribble down hasty reminders when her hand couldn’t move fast enough to keep up during the lesson, or doodle in the margins when the edges of her brain became so fuzzy with the weight of her to-do list she couldn’t focus anymore, or just to scratch at furiously when her pen simply wasn’t working anymore. The virginal purity of the pages wouldn’t last long.

~

Betty had laid out everything on her floral bedspread as the late summer sun slipped beneath the horizon, leaving the hazy twilight streaks of orange and purple in its place. Two notebooks, just in case something happened to the first. A fresh ballpoint and three backups. One new pack of unopened highlighters. Water bottle. Prescription meds decanted into a discreet container. Geometry kit. Sneakers for cheerleading try outs. Wallet and keys. She chewed on her lower lip as she glanced over at her vanity, tomorrows outfit folded neatly on top of the chair: pressed khaki capri pants, blush pink blouse, leather ballet flats. Her mom had insisted that the loose fit of the shirt would hide some of the weight she still hadn’t managed to lose over the summer.

“I do wish these pants were a little longer in the leg, Elizabeth. Perhaps it’s not a good idea for you to show so much calf until the running has toned them up more.”

Betty closed her eyes against the unemotional look Alice had sent her way as she berated her daughter’s appearance. She just wanted what was best for her, Betty tried to tell herself as the sharp sting of her nails piercing the flesh of her palms bled some of the tension from her shoulders. Her mom had enjoyed high school so much; she had been head cheerleader, homecoming queen, married her childhood sweetheart, then lived in the suburbs with their two perfect daughters and well paid jobs. That was all Alice was trying to do when she snatched the carbs from between Betty’s fingers or refilled her pill pots – give her the text book youth she had had, that everyone was supposed to have.

Betty looked down at her marred hands with a shaky sigh, rising to go and wash the faint crimson traces from the cuts she’d made. Her reflection caught her eye in the mirror above her sink, the patch of skin around her hips revealed where her shirt had ridden up. Betty prodded the soft flesh, teeth clenching at the way it wobbled more than she wished it did. It’s just baby fat, she reminded herself, not for the first time, you’ll shift it soon.

The clock on her nightstand ticked over to eight thirty, the first day of the new school year creeping ever closer with each second. Not close enough, the betraying voice in the back of her head spoke up as she packed everything away and started getting ready for bed. She only had another hour, tops, before remarks about eye bags and early onset wrinkles started floating through her door.

This year was going to be good. It was high school. Betty was determined to follow every teen cliché and start over, be a new version of herself. She was going to get good grades, make new friends, hopefully make the cheer squad, and maybe even…

Her eyes wandered of their own accord, peering sneakily out of her bedroom window and into that of Archie Andrews’ across the street. He was completely oblivious to her prying, laying almost upside down at the foot of his bed, strumming softly on the guitar he hadn’t put down since getting for his birthday. Betty could feel her cheeks heat up before she could help it as she thought about the way he’d sung to her only the other day. Alright, so if she was being truthful it hadn’t been to her directly. She just happened to be his best friend, and lived close by, and was a willing pair of ears when Archie had bounded up to her claiming he’d written his first song. It was slow and sad and, she had to admit, a little generic, but Betty had been enchanted with the way his fingers and lips moved in sweet harmony with one another, practically melting into a puddle right on the Andrews’ front porch before the redhead. This was the year she finally told him about her blossoming feelings, and hopefully this was also the year Archie told her he felt the same way.

Betty’s fingers fell from where she was twisting her ponytail into a bun for the night as her phone buzzed on her nightstand. She couldn’t help but throw one last glance to Archie to check, hope fluttering in her chest, but he was still where she left him, no phone in his hands.

Marmaduke?

Her eyes softened at the single world lighting up her screen beneath the name Jughead, the punctuation communicating the uncertainty of his request. A code word made between young children – Jughead had always loved dogs – sworn to secrecy beneath the wooden slats of a little boy’s tree house, Jughead was shining the bat signal of their youth, hoping she’d hear his plea. Betty’s teeth worried her lower lip as she glanced towards her slightly ajar door, light from the hall flooding in the crack. She had time before Alice’s usual night time inspection, she could make it.

Be there in five.

Polly had taught her how to scale the trellis that spanned the length of their house below both Cooper girl’s windows. Testing her weight on the decoration with one Converse-clad foot out of the window, Betty already felt the adrenaline rush of high school experience wash over her. She was sneaking out, to meet a boy no less. Okay, so that boy was only Jughead and it wasn’t even nine o’clock yet, and she’d definitely make it back and beneath the covers ready to get at least eight hours sleep before her first day of school – but still. The thrill was simmering beneath her skin anyway.

Betty pulled her bike from where it rest down the side of the house and set out on the short journey of a few streets towards Jughead’s house. The air was still warm, combing through the few loose strands of hair framing her face and filling her senses with the sickly scent of August blooms as she sped stealthily through the shadows. Possibilities, Betty thought as she allowed herself a small smile. She was right on the edge of so many possibilities.

She didn’t bother even approaching the Jones’ front door when she arrived. Her brows knit slightly when she glanced over the slightly weathered building, red paint on the door flaked and peeling, broken plant pot spilling soil across the porch. There were no lights shining from within, no faint hum of the TV filtering through the glass panes, the house looking all but abandoned in the early evening. Betty shook the thoughts away, propping her bike against the garage door and slinking around the back of the house.

Finally a sign of life made itself known to her, the distinct glow of Jughead’s old Hardy Boys flashlight casting an eerie glare through the tiny window of his childhood treehouse at the bottom of the yard, nestled in the thick foliage of the largest tree there. Betty climbed the ladder with practised ease, shielding her eyes from the harsh light pointing directly at her as her head poked through the opening in the floor.

“Jughead?” she called uncertainly, her eyes still adjusting. The light clicked off instantly, followed by a muffled shuffling noise from the far corner of the hide out.

“Sorry,” Jughead replied immediately. Whether he was apologising for half blinding her or his late night call, she wasn’t certain. Betty’s frown deepened as the tone of his voice settled over her. Jughead was all tooth-baring grins and sarcastic humour, but the clipped, dejected syllables that has just passed his lips held nothing of that familiarity that made her so fond of her friend.

“Betty Cooper, at your beck and call,” she announced in an attempt to lighten the suddenly sombre mood, fumbling her way as gracefully as possible through the space, pupils dilating until she could make out the distinctly dark shape of Jughead’s form curled against the wall. When he didn’t reply she exhaled sharply through her nose, folding herself next to him so that the lengths of their sides were pressed closely together. “What is it, Juggie?” she asked softly, trying to coax him into talking with the use of her oldest nickname for him. She felt him shrug against her.

“Nothing really,” he deflected, resting his forearms on bent up knees and twisting his fingers together. Betty raised an eyebrow at him, even while knowing it was unlikely he’d see her disbelieving expression in the fading light; he’d sense her scepticism.

“You would never offend the sacred rules of Marmaduke,” she joked, knocking her knee against his. Jughead huffed out a sound that sounded almost like a laugh and it was enough to ease the tightness of anxiety gripping her chest. “Come on, spill it,” she prodded.

Jughead sighed, tipping his head back until it landed with a dull thud against the wall behind them. “We’re high school freshmen tomorrow,” he stated plainly, not making to elaborate further. Betty blinked at him.

“Yes,” she agreed slowly, her tone clearly telling him to continue with his line of thought. She didn’t push any further as the silence between them stretched on, knowing he’d get there eventually. Jughead was usually very careful with his words.

“It just feels like it’s supposed to be big, you know?” She did know; in fact, she felt it already. The impending bigness of moving onto the next step in the progression of their young adolescent lives had felt like such a long time coming, but now it was finally happening. “It already feels disappointing.” His words caught her off guard.

“What do you mean?” she asked, brow furrowing minutely. He didn’t turn to look at her silhouette, instead choosing to keep his eyes firmly fixed on the hole left in the corner of the ceiling from the year a hive of bees decided to make his treehouse their home.

“I mean, why is high school supposed to be this huge deal when, really, we already know that it’ll just turn out to be yet another pile of bullshit.” The curse raised the hairs on the back of her neck.

“We don’t know that,” she retorted, suddenly feeling quite defensive. Why did he always have to do this, to take the fun out of the things she wanted to enjoy just because she was supposed to? “You’re just nervous–” she tried to reason, voice lifting a notch in forced optimism. His snort cut her off quickly.

“Nervous is the last thing I am, Betts,” he deadpanned.

Neither of them spoke for some time. Betty wanted to ask him what was really going on, what had started this melancholic decent into the bashing of the school system, but she was still smarting from his flippancy and her lips wouldn’t respond to her brain. He was the one that had called her out here, after all, just to dampen her excitement it would seem.

“We’re…” Her head snapped up at the sound of his voice. It was decidedly less assured and her heart clenched a little with the guilt of her brief anger towards him. “This isn’t going to change, right?” he finished, and if she didn’t know Jughead better Betty would have sworn she heard a slight shake to his words. “We’ll still be friends.” It sounded less like a question and more like he was trying to convince himself.

“Oh, Jug, of course!” she hurried to quell his doubts. Betty looped her arm around his elbow and leant her head closer towards his. If it had been bright outside she would have been taken aback by the sincerity swimming in his intensely blue eyes, the open rawness he’d allowed to settle there because of the lateness of the hour. “We’ll always be best friends. You, me, and Archie – the three musketeers, remember?” she teased, catching sight of his teeth as Jughead allowed a grin to finally pass across his features.

“Yeah,” he mumbled softly, placing his hand over hers. His thumb rubbed small circles across the back of her hand and Betty found herself enjoying the soothing qualities the action had.

“I get it, change is hard. But it doesn’t always have to be bad. This is a chance, a chance for us to–” The sound of tires on gravel broke into her comforting spiel, headlights washing over Jughead’s face just long enough for Betty to see the dark circles beneath his eyes, breath catching in her throat at how drained her friend looked. Just as quickly the lights were gone, plunging them back into a blanket of darkness, engine cutting out, car doors slamming. Jughead let out a heavy exhale, a breath she didn’t know he was holding, as he watched the figures of his mother and little sister walk across the driveway.

“Your mom is out late,” Betty observed, hoping the prying undertone in her statement wasn’t too obvious. Jughead only nodded. She sighed, knowing she wasn’t going to get more out of him tonight. “I’m sorry, but I really need to get home. If my mom knew I was out right now…” she trailed off, suppressing a shudder at that thoughts. His hand tightened on top of hers.

“We’re moving,” he blurted suddenly. Betty stilled, heart stopping and then picking up in double time.

“M-moving? How far?” she couldn’t stop herself from asking immediately.

“Not out of Riverdale,” he replied quickly, and Betty’s chest deflated, pulse still needing a minute to settle. “Just moving. Time for a change,” he said, the line sounding more like a quote, recounted with barely concealed bitterness. “Got to say goodbye to this place,” he added.

Betty looked around them, knowing, even without being able to see, that the treehouse held years of memories within its walls. There were plenty of small drawings and carvings littering the wood, and the little sign made by a much younger Jughead and Archie that said No Girls Allowed (except Betty) hung in the corner, which she’d made them amend instantly with just one flash of her watery green eyes and pretty pink pout.

“Remember this?” Jughead said, jerking his thumb towards the adjacent wall. The little world map tacked to the wood looked a little faded and worse for wear, but it still made Betty smile as she looked over all the colourful thumbtacks littered across the countries.

“All the places we said we’d go, solving mysteries like Nancy Drew,” she laughed, recalling the memories fondly.

“Maybe we still will,” he commented, almost wistfully. He reached out and unpinned the map, folding it carefully before placing it in a small cardboard box she hadn’t noticed by his feet. Before she could think about it further Betty reached out wrapped her arms around Jughead’s frame. There was something about this moment together, about his words, his actions, which felt unsettlingly final. Her fingers curled into the fabric of his flannel across his shoulder blades. After a beat his posture relaxed, hand coming up to rest on her back, face pressing into the side of her neck. It tingled where his lips rest against her skin.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Betty,” he whispered as he pulled away, the air heavy. Betty blinked against the unexpected tears suddenly clouding her vision, thankful he couldn’t see her ridiculous emotional display. She didn’t understand why she was so upset.

“See you, Juggie,” she whispered back, throat thick. She clambered down the ladder and retrieved her bike, turning to throw him one last wave as he disappeared inside the uninviting looking house and out of view. Betty shivered, all warmth gone from the night, as she rode home.

~

Betty didn’t realise how four years could feel so short and so vast all at once, how much could change in four years.

The transition to Riverdale High had been relatively normal, accompanied by all the disappointments she had been hoping against but had happened anyway. Her notebooks were already filled with hastily scrawled notes and badly torn pages, splotches of ink from her new pens ruining the white sheets. Archie had already made the junior varsity, fulfilling his side of her power couple fantasy, but her dreams were dashed by a hurricane in the form of a bitchy redhead named Cheryl Blossom. The girl was assistant captain of the River Vixens cheer squad, and was quick to drop hints to the reigning captain that the bouncing blonde looked a little too “season five Betty Draper” to be the right fit for the highly athletic sport. Betty flushed a deep shade of crimson, befitting of Cheryl’s signature colour, and fled from the gym and into the sanctity of the newspaper office.

She’d been so excited when Principal Weatherbee had told her that she was welcome to restart the old school paper, The Blue and Gold, during her free periods, even wrangling some extra credit for her English class. Now she was even more grateful, because the abandoned room at the end of a rarely occupied corridor gave Betty a place to let the hot tears fall freely down her burning cheeks, ugly sniffles filling the still air.

“Betty?” She sucked in a sharp intake of breath as the sound of Jughead’s voice pulled her from her sorrows, hastily sweeping her fingers beneath her eyes even though she knew it would do no good – she definitely looked a mess. “What is it? What’s wrong?” he asked, walking quickly over to where she was perched on the dusty plaid couch pressed against the back wall, crouching down in front of her. Betty tried to avert her blotchy face, unsuccessful when he caught her cheeks between his cool hands. “Tell me what happened.” The sincere concern in his tone made brand new tears spill over her lashes.

“It’s not even a big deal, it’s just…” She sucked in a shuddery inhale, trying to catch her breath between hiccups. She swiped her fist beneath her runny nose self-consciously. “I didn’t make the cheer squad. Cheryl said… Cheryl made some comments,” she said evasively, not sure if she could admit to Jughead just what those comments had been. She knew he wouldn’t let it go so easily though, if the way his eyes narrowed was any indication.

“What kind of comments?” he bit out, the clipped anger in his words startling her. She sighed, knowing it was unavoidable.

“Apparently I’m too ‘Betty Draper season five’ for the Vixens,” she mumbled dryly, unable to meet his eyes as the uncomfortable prickle of embarrassment worked its way down her spine. Betty crossed her arms tightly over her stomach. It took a moment for it to click, but suddenly Jughead’s eyes widened in understanding before lighting up with fury.

What? That’s so ridiculous! How can she even say something like that? You’re so beautiful, Betty, I can’t believe she would…” The next few words of Jughead’s rant faded to nothing as his compliment repeated in her ears a few more times, something akin to butterflies awakening in her stomach. “…I’m going to talk to her,” he seethed, turning towards the door.

“Jug, no!” she shouted, jumping up to grab his arm before he could do anything stupid. “It’s not worth it,” she mumbled dejectedly, playing with his sleeve beneath her fingers. Jughead looked at her hand on his shirt and seemed to cool somewhat. When Betty met his eyes again they were conflicted but decidedly less like the sea during a storm. “I’m okay, I’ll be okay,” she amended, knowing he’d call her out on the lie if not.

His eyes searched her face for a moment. “Fine,” he conceded hesitantly, turning back to face her fully. He took both her hands in his and waited until she lifted her gaze to meet his once more. “Don’t listen to anything she says, Betts. She must be blind if she can’t see how amazing you are,” he told her with nothing but sincerity. “You’re so much more than what anyone says about you.” The butterfly feeling spiked once more, and Betty felt an unfamiliar confusion creep over her body as she looked at Jughead intently, eyes connecting the spaces between the freckles that littered his cheeks like constellations. It was something she’d never done before.

“Thank you,” she whispered, not being able to manage anything more, looking up at him with wide eyes as his lips parted.

Jughead dropped her hands suddenly, as if he’d been burned, and rubbed awkwardly at the back of his neck instead, apples of his cheeks taking on a dusty glow in the low light of the office. “Err, I have that article for the next issue ready for you to look over.” He busied himself with pulling his laptop out of his bag, and Betty took a moment to bask in the sight of a flustered Jughead, earlier feelings of confusion pushed aside for the time being.

~

Freshman year melted into sophomore. The three of them ate lunch together most days, refusing to move from the fresh aired surroundings of the picnic benches in the yard to the stuffy confines of the cafeteria until the weather absolutely demanded it of them. They had not long made the reluctant move inside, relenting when their favourite spot was covered in thick, downy snow, when another change followed close behind.

Betty always caught Jughead’s eyes wandering towards the uneaten chips on her lunch tray, watching them cautiously as if they might vanish if he looked away. She tried and failed to supress a smirk and waited until he, sheepishly, caught her eye before nodding her assent for him to steal the abandoned snack. He grinned thankfully and shovelled a handful into his mouth, like he didn’t know she’d always let him eat her food. She didn’t know where he put it all, enjoying the way he swatted at her hand when she poked his lean stomach as if she could find the calories hiding somewhere.

She also didn’t miss the way he’d catch her wrist to stop her teasing, his suspiciously neutral expression as he subtly turned the appendage over and checked to see if the crescents nestled in her palms were new, the frustrated huff he’d give if they were raw and bruised, the smoothing of his forehead if they weren’t. Betty couldn’t remember when Jughead learned of her discreet coping mechanism, but all she knew was that he did and he hadn’t told anyone. He ran his thumb over the back of her wrist, eyebrow quirking in an unspoken question of concern and Betty just shook her head, pulling her arm back and making a show of taking a big bite of her burger to appease his worries, her smile laced with ketchup at the corners.

He still gave her his strawberry and let her lick the whipped cream off his milkshake at Pop’s, just to make sure.

Pop’s visits had become increasingly rare in the past few months. Every time Betty would skip through the door, pointedly ignoring the smirk Cheryl gave her from behind the straw of her cranberry and diet soda, her gaze flew to the booth she had come to know as Jughead’s – as theirs. More often than not, the seats were cold.

Absence became a reoccurring pattern as fall slipped into winter. His presence at Pop’s, in The Blue and Gold office, at her hang outs with Archie. Whenever she asked about him Archie would say he was busy, a little too quickly for her liking and it made her irrationally mad at the redhead in a way she’d never experienced towards Archie in her life, no hidden fondness waiting behind the feeling. She didn’t like to tell herself that this was because her pinings might have found a new home, one decorated with charcoal wool and soft flannel.

Her ‘Marmaduke’ went unanswered.

“Juggie?” she prompted lightly, nodding towards the waiting chips one lunch before Christmas break, when he was there but evasive, not meeting her eye until she called his name. His gaze was gone just as quickly and he shook his head, tearing small pieces of his burger bun off and dropping them around his plate. “Is everything alright?” she asked with classic Cooper concern, eyes wide, head tilted, and brows pinched. His silence rubbed her up the wrong way. “Jughead, talk to me,” she demanded, a little harsher than necessary.

“Betty…” Archie murmured, drawing her gaze for only a second at a time, still fixated on an appetite-less Jughead. There was a seriousness coating Archie’s features that she wasn’t used to; it made her heart stop and then pick up in double time. “Maybe we should just drop it, yeah?” he tried to placate, but that only served to annoy her more.

“No. Drop it, drop what? What aren’t you telling me?” she asked irritably, ponytail swinging as she looked between the pair. It suddenly felt like they were six again, and Betty was being told that the treehouse was a “boys only” zone. Well, it hadn’t stopped her then and it wouldn’t now.

“Jughead Jones, if you don’t tell me what is going on right now–” she began, summoning up the most Alice tone she could muster. He cut her off before she could figure out the end of her threat.

“I’m transferring schools.” The words hung between the trio, Jughead angry, Archie uncomfortable, Betty stunned. Jughead turned to her, but she could tell his eyes were looking just past hers, probably on her ear or her jaw, not finding the courage. “Okay?”

“No,” she whispered, feeling moisture spring up along her waterline without her permission. It was stupid, why was this affecting her so much? “No, not okay! Why?” she probed.

“Time for a change,” he mumbled, lips barely moving as the words tugged at some memory of the same phrase, in his treehouse, beneath the blanket of dark, her assuring him that change could be good. Optimism had bitten her in the ass.

The bell rang out and Jughead was out of his seat before Betty could let more words pass her parted lips. She turned to face Archie, mouth still hanging open, and he just stared back with twisted lips, thick eyebrows drawn low over his eyes.

“It’s not his fault, Betty. Things haven’t been… good for Jug recently. Did you know he’s been living on the Southside since school started last year?” Betty blanched. No, she did not know, because Jughead hadn’t told her. No bat signal. She resisted the urge to pull out her phone and check to see if she’d missed the text, but she knew it had never come. Unable to speak around the lump in her throat she shook her head no.

Archie sighed. “His family got in some money troubles and things… well, they’re just different now and it’ll be easier for him to go to Southside High than here,” Archie shrugged. The action turned the ice in her veins to boiling. “Look, it’s not my place to say anything. Jug’ll talk to you if he wants to.” With one last sympathetic glance that had her fingers curling Archie left her at the table for class.

She drifted through the day, her boiling blood turning to a simmer before her anger evaporated, too draining to last longer than a few hours. He wasn’t even gone till the end of the week (Archie had told her when she wouldn’t stop pestering him during History class) and she already missed him like he’d been gone from the state for months.

She didn’t even know his address anymore, she thought bitterly as she kicked her bike over, in the parking lot after school, months away from being able to get her license, glancing around nervously to see if anyone noticed her outburst. With a sigh she picked it up and rode home, winter winds adding to the tears already leaving her eyes.

~

Her mom was not going to be happy when she saw the state of Betty’s homework for the evening – non-existent about summed it up. Betty chewed on the tip of her pen, fingers subconsciously curling as she stared at nothing in particular.

A quick succession of knocks on her window had a gasp leaving her lips, heart hammering beneath her white, fluffy sweater.

Jughead stared back at her, shadowed in darkness, eyes saddened. Betty rose on shaky legs, smoothing back non-existent fly-aways in her up-do as she pulled up the frame. The silence was deafening until he spoke.

“Hey there, Juliet. Nurse off duty?” And it was so damn Jughead that she couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry, settling on neither.

“Whose ladder is that?” Neither of them expected the question, and it sent a flush blossoming across both of their faces, for different reasons.

“Um, Fred’s. I figured he wouldn’t miss it unless he decides to do some late night gutter cleaning,” he joked, unable to dissipate the new nervous energy that had settled between them. “Can we talk?” It was so much more than a ‘Marmaduke’. She nodded, stepping back to allow him space to crawl into her room, all gangly limbs and uncoordinated as he tripped over her window seat.

He stared back at her and she felt her lower lip begin to tremble. Jughead stepped forwards without hesitation, gathering her up in his arms as she buried her face in the worn fabric of his shirt in an attempt to keep her shuddery breaths turning to hiccupping sobs. His hand rubbed circles across her shaking back.

“You know,” he murmured some minutes later, his tone light. “I’m kind of flattered by this reaction, Betts,” he quipped, earning himself a half-hearted smack across his chest as his laughter rumbled beneath Betty’s ear. Her breathy laugh blew hot through the cotton she was burrowed against.

“Don’t joke,” she mumbled weakly. He gripped her shoulders to pull her back, expression serious.

“It’s just Southside,” he reasoned, fingers tightening around her joints.

“Then why do you have to move? Why does it feel so far away?” she pouted, aware how petulant she sounded. His forehead creased before he took her hands and drew her to the edge of her bed. Perched on the edge of her pink, flowery bedspread, Jughead had never looked more out of place.

“My mom…” he began, pausing as he rubbed her hands over the rough denim covering his thighs. Betty watched his profile intently. “My mom left, and she took Jellybean with her.” Betty didn’t mean for the intake of breath to be so audible, the pity in her eyes to be so visible, but they didn’t let her make that decision. Her hand hovered near his upper arm before the tension she saw in the veins of his neck made her drop her hand uselessly into her lap.

“Juggie, I’m so sorry. When did this happen? Why–” She bite her lip against the myriad of questions threatening to pour forth, aware she was prying. Why didn’t you tell me? Jughead had sought her out, come to her of his own volition. The ball had to remain in his court.

“Couple of months ago. Dad hasn’t really been dealing well, I guess. Since we’ve been on the Southside, different school district and all, it would just be easier…” he trailed off, shrugging noncommittally.

Betty chewed at the corner of her lower lip, gaze trailing over the slow of his nose, the cut of his jawline, the curl in his hair. “Promise this won’t change anything?” she whispered, mirroring his concerns from that last night in his treehouse. Jughead finally turned to look at her, eyes guarded but a hint of something more pushing its way to the surface. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, squeezing her against his side.

“I promise,” he replied, one side of his mouth quirking up in a reassuring smile. “I mean the quality of The Blue and Gold might suffer without my literary prowess…” he teased, huffing as Betty snorted and jabbed a delicate elbow into his ribs. His face turned solemn again. “Don’t worry, Betts. A few miles won’t change anything.” He leaned in and pressed a chaste kiss to the corner of her mouth, just brushing her lips.

She promised change was a good thing. He promised everything would be alright.

They were both liars.

~

“B, hello?” Veronica called, waving a hand in front of her face as she stared out of the window. Betty blinked rapidly, turning back to her dark-haired best friend occupying the opposite side of their booth.

“I’m sorry, what were you saying?” she asked breezily, pulling herself out of her summertime daze. The temperatures had skyrocketed in the August before senior year started, the whole town slipping into something akin to a comatose state, lazily floating through their day with mini fans and a rotation of popsicles.

“I said, you’re coming, right?” she replied, pushing the makeshift invite towards her on the table top. Betty glanced down at the bright red flier. “To the party?” Veronica’s eyes glistened with excitement.

The Blossoms were throwing an end of summer blowout by Sweetwater River before they went off to college, expecting everyone who was everyone to attend. As a cheerleader, Betty found herself a part of ‘everyone’. She sighed, blowing away a strand of hair that had manged to slip from her bun.

“I don’t know if I really want to spend a whole night surrounded by drunk guys, watching you argue your way into a flirtation with Cheryl,” Betty deadpanned, noticing that Veronica had the decency to blush after being called out. She straightened her shoulders, holding up an expensively manicured hand to halt any further protests from the bubbly blonde.

“Irrelevant. Archie asked me if you were going to be there,” she said with a knowing smirk, as if she knew a secret that Betty didn’t. Apparently, she did.

Betty raised her eyebrows. “So? Archie’s one of my best friends,” she said slowly. Veronica rolled her eyes, fixing Betty with a disbelieving look.

“For, like, ever! It’s just like something out of a swoon-worthy romance novel. And I overheard him and Reggie talking. He said you were cute. Cute, B! You should have seen the colour of his face, it practically matched his hair; I could have died. Aren’t you excited?” Betty barely listened to her friend’s ramblings as she twirled the straw in her milkshake, stomach swooping.

She hadn’t thought about Archie in that way for a few years now, but she wondered if it was something she should consider again. He was captain of the football team, she was a set to take over the position of head cheerleader. The past couple of years had bulked him up and leaned her out. Aesthetically, she mused, they were everything she had wished they’d been the summer before freshman year.

But she still couldn’t get the flash of dark hair she’d seen walking past Pop’s front window out of her mind just minutes before, her heart leaping into her throat as blue eyes and a sarcastic smirk flooded her vision for the first time in a while. She didn’t know why; perhaps the finality of their impending senior year was getting to her. Or something.

At first there had been a flurry of texts between her a Jughead the Christmas he transferred to Southside, and a couple of trips to Pop’s. He hadn’t ordered anything and refused when Betty offered. Instead she got an order of chili cheese fries ‘for the table’ and let him eat most of them. He plucked the cherry off her sundae and she asked for a second spoon. The corner of her lips stung with the memory of a shy kiss.

When school started again she left his spot open at their table. He left her texts unanswered.

By spring break neither of them sent any texts and Veronica sat next to her at the lunch.

“Sure, V. Excited.”

~

Betty had lost a lot of the insecurities that plagued her about her body since taking up track and cheerleading, but even if she hadn’t the sheer humidity that made the air feel sticky and heavy against her skin would have made her throw on a blush tank top and denim shorts before she made her way out to her car to pick Veronica up. She had designated herself the driver as an excuse not to drink crappy beer forced upon her in red plastic cups by future frats boys in backwards caps.

Just before the end of Betty’s junior year Polly had gotten pregnant. Betty had gotten a silver BMW.

The word ‘Marmaduke?’ sat in a lonely blue bubble on her phone screen until she deleted the whole conversation.

Veronica sighed upon seeing her, slipping into the seat dressed in a royal blue slip dress and white heels. “Betty, it’s a party. I knew I should have made you come over to get ready,” she admonished, casting a disapproving look over her casual choice of clothing.

“V, it’s too hot! The only thing I’m interested in is getting to this party and back in once piece, and maybe putting my feet in the water for a while,” she replied, signalling and pulling back out onto the road.

“Fine. Archie has seen you in unicorn pyjamas and fuzzy socks and he already likes you, so I guess it doesn’t matter,” she muttered casually, pretending not to see the glare Betty shot her way, pressing her lips together to hide a smirk.

“I’ll make you walk,” Betty threatened, slowing the car slightly. Veronica let out a dramatic gasp and narrowed her eyes at her friend, one had going almost protectively towards the brand new colourless heels on her feet.

“You wouldn’t.”

Betty just shrugged innocently, picking up the speed as the car behind them got a little too close, before taking the next exit on the left towards the river.

“Hey, guys!” Archie called out, jogging over as soon as they parked up. The party was already loud and crowded amidst the usually serene atmosphere of the trees. The gentle rushing of the water was drowned out by the thumping bass of whatever song had been put on blast, topped with the shrieks and cries and laughter of her peers. Someone had strung lights up between the trees and set a fire going in a big tin barrel at one end of the crowd, providing a warming glow that Betty found oddly comforting despite the raucous.

“Archiekins,” Veronica addressed him, leaning up to plant a kiss on his cheek. He smiled at her before his eyes drifted over to Betty. She wasn’t paying attention to the pair, eyes combing over the crowd for a quieter spot to sit – red cup untouched but in hand so no one would pester her – and dangle her feet in the cool shallows.

“Betty, I’m glad you came,” Archie offered shyly, twin spots of colour rising to his cheeks. Betty caught Veronica’s I told you so smirk over his shoulder but pointedly ignored it in favour of returning her friend’s sentiments as sincerely as she could.

“Yeah. Me too, Arch,” she said softly, leaning somewhat awkwardly into the hug he moved to give her. When he pulled back he didn’t move his hand from between her shoulder blades, dark eyes searching hers, giving her a look she used to long to see directed at her.

A look she had seen once before, in blue, just before it had disappeared beneath her window sill one night in December.

She cleared her throat, dropping her eyes to her sneakers as she scuffed them against the pavement. The too hot warmth of Archie’s hand dropped from her back to rub at the back of his neck, and it just wasn’t fair how many traits they seemed to share.

Why now? What had changed? There it was again, that word: change. It wasn’t always good.

“Let’s get a drink,” she mumbled dryly, suddenly craving the bitter taste of warm beer on her tongue. Veronica’s eyes shot up to her hairline as Betty began to push her way towards the keg, only stopping to lift her lips in greeting at Kevin and roll her eyes at the exaggerated lick of her lips that Cheryl shot towards Veronica.

~

She wasn’t drunk, but she was definitely buzzed.

Betty swilled the remainder of her drink around the solo cup as she dragged her bare feet through the cool water of the river. It splashed against her heated skin, the late night breeze that had picked up wafting over the damp patches and making her shiver just enough to be content.

She had walked some distance along the bank, water lapping at her toes, downstream, until the noise of the party was far enough away to settle into a comforting hum, a reminder of carefree life just a few meters away. Archie’s fourth attempt to slip his hand around her waist had been enough.

Betty Cooper: Head Cheerleader

Betty Cooper: Editor in Chief

Betty Cooper: Prom Queen

Betty Cooper: Valedictorian

Betty Cooper: Archie Andrews’ Girlfriend

Too many titles, too many guises. Her mother would be so proud. Yet, not one seemed to satisfy the acidic churning beginning in the pit of her stomach as the first day of school crept ever closer to arrival. Everything had changed, but everything had stayed the same. She was different physically, but mentally Betty was antsy, a little niggling itch refusing to be satiated forever present in the back of her mind.

“Hot Dog, heel!” The voice was so familiar her stomach lurched. Betty’s head whipped towards the bridge, ancient white paint cracked and peeling, that separated the north and south sides of the river. She stumbled to her feet, not from the alcohol, water splashing noisily around her ankles as she struggled to find her balance.

The head of the figure in the distance lifted, eyes meeting hers in the darkness. Jughead froze, ignoring the scruffy sheepdog sniffling around his feet and pawing at his jeans.

Betty’s legs were moving before she could even register the action, carrying her towards the bridge, stare never leaving him as if he might not really be standing there. He was at one end of the bridge and, eventually, she at the other, red cup in one and sneakers dangling from the other, her socks shoved inside the toes.

“What are you doing here?” It wasn’t the greeting she was expecting as they stood face to face for the first time since sophomore year. She snorted, lifting the cup slightly into view.

“It’s a party, Jug. I’m at a party. I go to parties now, but you wouldn’t know that ’cause we don’t talk anymore.” She hadn’t expected it to come out that quickly, and she tossed the remaining contents of her cup into the soil, catching him visible flinch at her accusatory tone.

“You’re right, we don’t.” Betty waited for more, tips of her toes, painted Hawaiian Orchid Pink, wiggling against the first wooden slat of the bridge. The dog growled at something moving in the water that neither of them could see.

“You asshole, that’s it?!” Betty fumed, throwing her hands up before letting them drop with a slap against her bare thighs, dirt from her sneaker crumbling off and muddying her skin. The confidence she’d mustered was unsettling. “‘Don’t worry, Betts. A few miles won’t change anything’,” she quoted in a poor imitation of his voice.

Jughead looked down at his feet, nodding gently. “You’re right, I lied. But I’m not sorry,” he added, blue eyes burning as they met hers once again. She was infuriated, marching across the bridge until they stood toe to toe, her chin jutting out defiantly as he glared down at her.

“Why?” she ground out between gritted teeth, willing the water in her eyes away.

“Because the Southside isn’t the place for you,” he said simply.

Betty scoffed. “Oh, don’t be so dramatic, Juggie.” The ease with which she used the nickname twisted her gut. “And it’s the place for you?” she retorted, raising an eyebrow. Jughead broke their stare, notes of defeat creeping in around the edges of his eyes as he looked at the material in his hand.

“It is now,” he muttered. Betty hadn’t realised he was holding a leather jacket until his gaze directed her attention there, the green and red embroidered snake glinting threateningly in the moonlight. She inhaled sharply.

“You’re a…” she trailed off. He couldn’t meet her eyes. “How?” she whispered, all the fight leaving her in an instant.

“Desperate times,” he replied wryly, no hint of humour in his terse smile, and Betty could finally see how tired he looked, the deep set bags beneath his eyes aging him more than he should look. Before she could stop herself she lifted a hand to his cheek. He stiffened as she rested her fingertips on the smooth skin, pad of her thumb pressing against the puffy flesh while she frowned. Just when he had begun to relax into the familiar touch she was gone, hopping up onto the barrier of the bridge and settling herself on the wood with a lithe ease.

“Betty, what are you doing? You’re gonna hurt yourself, it’s dangerous,” he worried, wondering how much she’d been drinking that night. She threw him a coy, daring smile over her bare shoulder, making his breath catch.

“More dangerous than being out here, alone, with a Serpent?” she teased, drawing a laugh from his throat before he could bite it back. He climbed up next to her, arm resting along the length of hers as they watched the distant lights of the party, or the way Hot Dog was digging by the base of a tree.

“We’ve got some catching up to do,” she murmured.

~

“Senior year,” she said sometime later, nudging his shoulder with hers. “You excited?”

“I haven’t gone to school since sophomore year, Betts,” he admitted quietly, peeking at her from the corner of his eye. The coloured drained out of her face, lips parting in shock. “Not exactly like it was my favourite place,” he snarked.

“What do you mean?” Jughead sighed, running a hand roughly through his (beanie-less) hair, tugging the curls away from his forehead before they dropped disobediently back into his eyes.

“My dad… got into some stuff, when mom left. We moved into the trailer on the Southside when our electricity had been shut off and we didn’t have enough money to pay the bill.” He swallowed thickly. “She couldn’t do it anymore, not when Dad joined the Serpents to make extra cash and got fired from his job for stealing supplies to fence. She took Jellybean and ran – I haven’t heard from her since.” At some point during his story, Betty had laced her fingers through his.

“He started drinking, like a lot. More than before. He couldn’t… he can’t hold down a job, so I transferred to Southside, dropped out a month later, and started working full-time so we wouldn’t end up homeless.” There was a distinct note of shame in his tone that made Betty squeeze his fingers harder. “Joining the Serpents was the only way to pay off any of the debts he owed them without someone getting hurt.” He gave her a pointed look.

Betty felt bile rise in the back of her throat. “This shouldn’t be on you, Jug,” she whispered, shaking her head sadly. He pulled his hand from hers.

“What else am I supposed to do? He’s my dad, and he made some bad choices but that doesn’t change anything. He’s still all I have.” Despite the creeping annoying in his voice he didn’t leave the ledge.

“You could have had me,” she heard herself saying, heat working its way up the column of her neck, spreading over the apples of her cheeks. When he turned back to look at her, the pain in his broken eyes sucked all the oxygen from her lungs, a dull ache emitting from her chest.

“Could I?” It was not the disparaging question she expected it to be. She hardly dared hear it, but beneath the words there’s regret and, oh so quietly, hope. She turned as much as the thin railing would let her, cupping his face firmly between his hands. All her anger from the past few years seemed like a distant memory, not even opaque enough to register, and she hated that they were still talking in the past tense. She knew, she’d always known.

“You can,” she told him firmly, leaning in to meet his lips with hers.

Jughead made a sweet little sound of surprise in the back of his throat as his mouth met Betty’s. The tips of her fingers scratched through his hairline as they held the pressure, gentle but firm, for an immeasurable moment. When they parted with soft suction sound, Jughead’s heady exhale washed over her face, smelling faintly of nicotine. His shoulders lost their ever-present tension in an action that could only say finally. The corners of Betty’s lips tilted upwards as she basked in the afterglow of the honeyed moment, eyes refusing to open, wanting to stay frozen forever.

“Being without me has been good for you,” he croaked out eventually. When she looked at him, his eyes were unashamedly glancing at the spot where her top had gaped over her chest, lilac lace edging just visible, one hand splayed on her muscular upper thigh possessively.

“Not at all,” she replied quickly, leaning back up for more.

This kiss was different, more. Betty’s feet scrambled for purchase on the bar below them, toes curling, pushing as much of her weight as possible into Jughead’s body, hands gripping at his ebony waves and tugging until his groan vibrated against her lips. He ran his tongue over the seam of her mouth and she opens it willingly, ready to let him back in. She’d never been kissed like this before, never wanted to be, and now she knew why.

One of Jughead’s hands clutched at her waist, the other snaking up towards her breast, thumb running along the underside questioningly, and Betty didn’t have time to wonder how many other girls may have been treated to this experience on the Southside before she’s whimpering and arching her chest into his palm.

The force of her actions unsteadied her, sending them both wobbling on the barrier. They both pulled back, grabbing onto each other and the wood beneath them quickly as it rocked precariously. Betty felt the sharp tingle of adrenaline that only comes with the threat of falling spike in her hands and feet, staring at Jughead with wide eyes. He looked just as panicked, breathing fast. His hair was mussed, lips swollen, and he strongly resembled a deer in headlights.

Betty threw her head back and laughed, more full and genuine in sound than she could remember laughing in a while. Jughead’s surprise passed soon enough and he joined in, his throaty laugh mixing with her high, chiming one. They still didn’t let go of each other, her sides aching.

When they’d finally calmed, Betty raised her brows, eyes glinting enticingly. “Wanna go for a drive?” she asked. Jughead glanced at her abandoned red cup apprehensively. “I’ve not even had that much.” His eyes narrowed. She rolled her eyes, lifting her butt to fish her keys out of her back pocket and dangle them in front of his face. “Here.” He snatched them up with a dark smile, watching the way her chest bounced as she vaulted the barrier and picked up her shoes, not bothering to put them back on.

“Here, boy!” she called to Hot Dog who, having been neglected, had lain down with his head on his paws on the bridge behind them. He stood to attention immediately, padding to her side like he could sense just how important she was.

Jughead put his foot down as they hit a wide open stretch of road. Hot Dog was splayed out on his jacket in the back seat. Betty sat to his right, bare feet on the dashboard, hair blowing in the wind, hand out of the window as she let the night air slip through her fingers. He couldn’t help the grin that spread across his face as he looked at the girl he’d convinced himself he’d lost, the contentment she expressed settling over him as the lights of the town faded behind them.

~

She said she’d come to his trailer, after he’d let slip how often FP didn’t come home in the evenings. He’d put his foot down, telling her he didn’t want her anywhere near the Southside, not after what happened last time.

Betty groaned – she didn’t think it was a big deal.

She’d come after school, visiting him at The Whyte Worm just after his shift had started. He hadn’t wanted to tell her where he’d been making his (above board) money at first, but it was ridiculous how much of a sucker he’d become for her delicate pout and fluttering eyelashes.

“You play dirty, Betty Cooper,” he growled, fingers tightening around her hips. She rolled them forwards playfully, delighting in his involuntary grunt.

“You don’t even know.”

The pretty peach of her early fall sweater and the light wash of her jeans hadn’t exactly blended in well with the aesthetic of the Southside, but she’d simply tightened her ponytail, squared her shoulders and pushed open the door to the grimy bar.

Jughead hadn’t seen her upon her arrival, his back turned as he bussed a table in the back, but everybody else in the building definitely had. She tried to ignore the burning feeling of their leers on her skin as she made her way over to her boyfriend – not that she’d call him that to his face just yet – lips pressed together stiffly.

A loud smack echoed through the room, cutting through the muffled music pouring out of the jukebox in the corner. Jughead’s head snapped up, instantly finding Betty in the centre of the room, one of the Serpent’s drunken hands on her ass.

“You’re a little far south, girlie. Looking for some fun?” he sneered, eyes predatory. Betty flushed with fury, nails breaking the skin of his wrist as she yanked it away from her body, edges of her vision curling with black smoke. He cried out, “Ah, you bitch!” His hand lifted and Betty instinctively locked her knees, bracing for an impact which never came.

It was all a blur, Jughead suddenly at the man’s side where he wasn’t seconds before. There was a loud thud as Jughead had the man backed up against the edge of the bar, face twisted in pain. “Don’t even think about it,” he snarled menacingly. Betty’s stomach flipped at his tone, half intimidated, half exhilarated.

The man glanced between the two of them, something unrecognisable passing across his features, before shrugging Jughead off and walking towards the pool tables with wounded pride and a shredded wrist.

The rage in Jughead’s eyes didn’t cool as he turned, not meeting Betty’s eyes while he ushered her quickly out of the door she’d just entered through, so fast she almost lost her footing, not stopping until they were by her car. He took a few deep breaths and when he opened his eyes again a more familiar Jughead had reappeared.

“Are you okay?” he asked softly, running his fingers over her for signs of hurt. She nodded, still not quite able to find her voice. She wasn’t afraid of him, not at all. She could see it in his face that this was the side of him she didn’t want her to become acquainted with, to see the Serpent in action. He dropped his hands, ready to pull away. Betty gripped the collar of his shirt, pulling him in for a burning kiss, knowing it could communicate the intensity of her emotions far better than her words could right now. He sunk into the kiss, resting his hands cautiously on her waist.

When they parted he searched her eyes for a moment before nodding, obviously admitting that what he found there wasn’t any different and pressed a lingering kiss to her forehead, telling her he’d see her later as he packed her back into her car. He didn’t go back inside until she disappeared around the corner.

He said he’d come to her room, Fred’s ladder was surely still lying around. Betty protested, telling him her mother had ears like a hawk and a habit of checking on her whenever she was up in the night, which was frequently these days.

She parked her car down by Sweetwater at 10:34PM and he opened the door a minute later.

Her knees were separated by his thighs as she writhed in his lap, fingers slipping underneath the fabric of his sweater to run over the shifting ridges of his abs while his tangled in her hair, pulled loose from its usual ponytail.

He was hard between the apex of her thighs and it spurred her on in her movements, rolling her hips against his quickly, consistently.

Fuck, Betty,” he breathed, hands falling to grasp at her hips, attempting to slow her movements before he embarrassed himself in front of her. The way she was looking down at him, all kiss-bitten lips and knotted hair, chest heaving and clad only in a powder blue lace, wasn’t helping.

To distract her he ran his tongue along the swell of her breast, stopping to nip at the soft mound as he worked his way towards the valley at her sternum. Her movements faltered and he smiled against her skin, dizzy on the effect he seemed to have on her. She yanked his sweater over his head impatiently, drawing him back in as soon as his lips were unencumbered.

“Juggie,” she whined, forcing one of his hands down her body to hover over the button of her jeans. “Please.” This isn’t how he pictured their first exploration into the physical side of their relationship, but considering the circumstances it was the best they were going to get.

He popped the button, pulling the zipper down with shaking fingers, breath hot against the dip in her collarbone. There wasn’t much room for his hand, especially because of the way she was pressed so tightly against him, but he rubbed a knuckle against the lace of her panties, groaning at the dampness of the fabric. She let out a particularly sinful sound as he brushed against her most sensitive spot, so he did it again, and again.

By the time he dipped his fingers beneath the panties she was emitting a myriad of noises that only increased the heat flooding southwards. The staccato whimpers, mixed with high pitched whines and the occasional grunted curse word (Jughead’s personal favourite) continued as he slipped fingers inside of her, focused only on getting her to topple over the edge.

Betty had never felt more out of control of her own body and the feeling was already addictive. She couldn’t even bring herself to care about how she sounded, what she looked like, as Jughead worked his hand between her legs. She continued to wriggle against him until eventually the coil in her stomach snapped, flush on her chest deepening, as she came, stilling in his arms.

The tight grunt he’d let out didn’t even register in her ears until she felt him begin to soften beneath her, face buried in the crook of her neck, cheeks burning. Betty giggled, pressing a chaste kiss against his ear in reassurance. She liked that he was just as out of control in her presence as she was in his, powerless to stop the surge of desire crackling between them, charging the air with electricity.

She kissed the imprints of her nails in the backs of his shoulders as they righted their clothes, before heading to their respective homes by the cover of dark.

~

Winter time had never been good to them.

Her tires kicked up gravel as she pulled into the parking lot, exiting the vehicle in a cloud of dust. Jughead was already there, leaning against his truck with a forlorn, yet unreadable, expression.

“Jug, what is it? What’s wrong? You sounded so upset,” Betty rushed out. Immediately her hands came up to cup his cold cheeks, though he didn’t meet her imploring eyes still.

“My dad–” He broke off, choked. “He’s been arrested.” Betty let out a sharp exhale. “There’s no getting out of this one, Betty. He’s going away.” His eyes misted with unshed tears and they began to roll down his cheeks before he could blink them away. “I tried…” he whispered.

Betty’s heart broke at the sight before her. She drew him into her embrace, cradling the back of his head as his tears seeped into the wool of her trench coat, for all the things he had given up, now for nought. They stayed like that until the tips of Betty’s ear began to ache from the cold.

Jughead leant back, wiping his fist beneath his nose and he sniffed, trying to compose himself. Betty didn’t stop touching him, grounding him. He froze when he noticed the red mark across her cheek.

“What’s that?” Her fingers came up to cover the imprint of fingers burnt into her cheek, that she’d hoped would be disguised by the bite of the winter air.

“It’s nothing.” She knew that wouldn’t fly. “My mom… tried to stop me when I was leaving the house. I don’t know how but she knew where I was going, who I was going to and she…” She met his eyes tiredly. “She didn’t like it,” she finished simply. “She didn’t mean it. Although, I don’t know how serious she was being when she told me not to come back,” she mumbled as quietly as possible.

“I’m not an idiot, Elizabeth. The people in this town talk and I know what you’re doing,” Alice seethed, grip tightening to the point of pain, feeling the small bones of Betty’s wrist shift in her attempts to get free.

“Really, Mom? Because you know everything that happens in my life. Why wouldn’t you? You’re the one who orchestrates everything I do, has to be in control of every single movement I make. I’m sick and tired of never being able to meet your standards! They’re impossible and you know it,” Betty seethed, backing up towards the front door, keys digging into her palms.

“Jughead Jones is nothing but trouble and you will stay away from him,” Alice glowered. “I won’t have my daughter running around after some gang member like a low rent trollop.”

Betty bristled. “Like mother, like daughter. Huh, Mom?” She knew she’d gone too far this time.

The sharp sting echoed throughout the otherwise empty house. Betty’s hand flew up to cradle her cheek, wincing. The sound of the door slamming cut off Alice’s threat.

Jughead’s nostrils flared as he blinked rapidly. Betty caught her breath, waiting for the onset of anger sure to rise to the surface any second. But it didn’t come. Instead, his whole frame deflated and his teeth pulled at his lower lip, finally defeated.

“I’m sorry, Betty,” he whispered, voice cracking, thumb rubbing over the mark before he pulled it away, not worthy of touching her.

“Hey,” she cooed, tilting his face upwards. “You have nothing to apologise for. This isn’t your fault, this isn’t anyone’s fault but the stupid prejudices that come with living in this damn town.” Jughead’s eyes darted between hers desperately, worry coating their depths.

Something suddenly clicked. “Let’s get out of here,” she blurted out.

His brow furrowed. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, let’s get out of here. There’s nothing keeping us here. You don’t go to school, I’m sure I have enough credits to graduate early. Your dad… We can just get in the car and drive away, me and you. We can get out,” she rambled frantically, excitement clenching at her heart. He looked at her incredulously.

“That’s crazy, Betty,” he said slowly, trying to determine if she was being serious.

“So what if it’s crazy?! We can do it, I want to do it. Come with me, please. Please, Juggie, please.” She could hear herself starting to spiral; once the idea had occurred to her she wanted it more than she’d ever wanted anything, she craved the freedom she felt being around Jughead, wanted it at all hours of the day.

The searing kiss he pulled her into thawed her every frostbitten inch, and she sobbed with relief against his lips, clutching at the lapels of his leather jacket.

“Okay,” he breathed against her mouth. “Okay, let’s do it. Let’s leave.” He was almost giddy with the idea, head spinning.

“I’ll get everything sorted for the end of semester, okay?” she hurried, darting in to place insatiable pecks against his lips every few words, high off the action. He nodded quickly, accepting her every time. “I’ve got some money saved up that should help.” More kisses. “I love you,” she whispered in a moment of bravery, not at all worried about his reply.

“I love you,” he replied with just as much force, without hesitation, crushing her body against the length of his.

This change was good.

~

They sat in the bed of the truck, propped up against all their worldly belongings, Jughead’s arm wrapped around Betty’s shoulders as they gazed out over the point. The city lights were just beginning to flicker to life as the sun dropped below the horizon.

The incessant buzzing of her phone set her on edge. In one swift motion she pulled it out and flung it over the barrier, the faint crack as it hit the rocks below only just reaching her ears. Jughead stared at her for a moment before laughter took over his entire body, head tipping back in sheer, unfiltered joy.

By the time they’d curled around each other, threadbare blanket tucked around their chins for a night in a crappy motel room, desire sated and skin sweaty, Jughead’s phone lay in pieces beside hers.

~

Their studio apartment wasn’t much – strike that, it was practically nothing – but it suited them just fine.

The plaster in the corner above their bed was bubbling with damp, mould creeping up the tiles in the bathroom, and something suspiciously sticky covered one of the draws in the kitchen but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t Riverdale, and that was the only thing that was important.

Betty could tell Jughead loved New York. Unrestrained by time or identity, he could float anonymously through the streets without incurring one snide glance or comment. He loved that he could sit on their window ledge at 3AM, cigarette dangling from his fingertips, and watch the city move as if it were just as alive now as it was in the middle of the afternoon. It welcomed Jughead’s sleepless nights with open arms and he rest his head against its chest as it rocked him into the early hours of the morning.

“Jug, it’s freezing,” Betty complained from her spot beneath the sheets, his shirt exposing one of her shoulders as she leant up on an elbow, tired eyes squinting in the darkness. Jughead smiled at her, at how the city lights caught every unruly strand of hair around her face and cast her in some ethereal glow that he saw all the time anyway. He flicked the butt out of the window, pulling it shut as he slid back beneath the covers, tangling his limbs with hers. She grumbled at the contact. “You’re freezing.”

Jughead dipped his head to press a series of kisses against her neck, sucking at the skin until he felt her pulse begin to flutter. “Then let me warm up.”

Another thing Jughead loved about being in the city was how loud Betty could be, no longer biting her lip in the back of her car or the bed of his truck. Jughead swirled his tongue around the dusty peak of her breast as her moans mixed with the sirens below their window.

~

Betty could tell that he loved seeing her in her work uniform so much because it reminded him of going to Pop’s. For all the faults their hometown had, that homely sanctuary of a truck stop diner gave them something to miss.

“Only you would think I look good in something this hideous,” she giggled as he ran his hands over the light pink polyester, eyes going dark. His wandering fingers reached the hem of the dress, trailing back up the skin of her thigh, leaving goose bumps in their wake.

“You look good in anything,” he muttered headily, finding the elastic of her panties, letting it go with a sharp snap against her hipbone. She gasped against his lips, not quite kissing, just breathing into each other’s mouths, barely grazing. “Or nothing,” he added.

The honour of taking Betty Cooper’s virginity was not one he ever thought would belong to him, and yet it did. He remembered every precious second of it, every sigh and every moan. He saw how she changed each time they made love, watched as the flush of embarrassment at laying herself completely bare before him turned into one of untamed desire for him to touch and lick and kiss every inch of her.

She bowed under his control and the effect was dizzying; she had given him so much power and trusted him not to exploit it.

He had been a coward when he got laid off from his job at the store down the block, something about downsizing they said, and he’d been the last hired. He’d wandered around the street, unable to face Betty just yet, looking more and more tired each day as she picked up later and later shifts, and tell her he’d failed.  

He hadn’t meant to walk into the bar just down the street from their apartment, but he was getting a little too cold to be comfortable and he could practically feel the dark solace rolling out of the door. Just one beer to muffle the ringing in his ears, and maybe a whiskey to warm him up before he finally got the courage to start the trek home and tell Betty that their two incomes had become one.

She’d given up so much for him, cutting off everything from her life, giving up going to college – just for a few years, she’d promised – and running away with him. The fact it was her suggestion didn’t lesson the guilt he felt in the pit of his stomach every time he noticed the circles beneath her eyes get a little deeper, the time it took for her to wearily return his smile becoming a few seconds longer. Betty had only reached out to Polly because she knew that she had to have had her twins by now, and she didn’t realise he’d seen the way her fingers traced the photos she’d received on the screen, silent tears spilling over her lashes as she mourned for the nephew and niece she didn’t think she’d get to meet anytime soon.

She was on him instantly, as soon as he stepped through the door a couple of hours later.

“Where’ve you been? You didn’t answer any of my texts, you can’t do that,” she fretted, fingers twisting nervously as she stood, looking a little lost, by the kitchen counter. He didn’t say a word as he gathered her into his arm, capturing her lips in a desperate, remorseful kiss, making quick work of hoisting her up onto the work top and pulling all coherent thoughts from her head.

“Jug?” she questioned warily, tasting the liquor on his tongue. There was that cute little crease between her brows that always appeared when she was concerned, but also when she came, and he wanted it to be for the latter reason right now. He just shook his head, silencing her worries with his tongue in her mouth, fingers pushing her panties to the side to slide through her folds, work her into a frenzy, heart thudding sickeningly as he felt her get wetter beneath his ministrations, relaxing into his touch.

Betty had trusted him with complete power over her, body and soul, and he swallowed back bile as he took that trust and threw it into the fire.

~

Jughead hadn’t come home again for the fifth night in a row, maybe more, she’d lost count. Betty sat at their rickety dining table, hand gripping at her hair as she tried to work out how they’d pay their bills this month, numbers in front of her blurring until they were unreadable.

She’d tried to quench the worry that flared in her eyes when he admitted he’d lost his job before he could see it. It was okay, it was just a rough patch – they had to expect that, being teenage runaways trying to make their own way in a city. It was just another cliché to add to the list of ridiculous tropes that had made up their lives thus far.  

The door clicked open quietly, followed by a slightly stumble and a whispered “fuck” as Jughead stumbled over his own feet in an attempt to remove his shoes.

Betty slipped into their room and settled beneath the covers before he realised she was still awake, unable to handle any more of his apologetic kisses.

~

“Jug… Jug, wake up!” Betty pleaded, an edge of franticness creeping into her tone. “Ju– ow, Juggie. It hurts,” she whimpered, clutching at her abdomen. Her green eyes were swimming with agonised tears when he finally turned over, head fuzzy in the early hours of the morning.

“Betts?” he mumbled, voice gravelly with sleep. His hand met something wet on the sheets. He leant over to flick on the bedside lamp, wishing he’d kept it off when he saw the red saturating the white.

“Oh god, Betty,” he cursed, grabbing her face between his hands. “Baby, where does it hurt?” She didn’t answer, a string of trembling whines falling from her lips as her hands pressed against her stomach. “It’s okay, just hold on, Betts. Hold on,” he tried to soothe, fighting with the sheet in his attempt to get out of the bed. Something niggling in the back of his mind supplied an explanation, but Jughead pushed the thought away with more vehemence than he knew he still possessed.

He never let go of her hand the entire ride to the hospital, not until she was crowded into a wheelchair and taken away from him.

Jughead held one of her hands tightly in both of his again as they waited for the doctor to come by, the white on white on white of the hospital room hurting his sore eyes. When the fingers of her other hand began to curl he held that one too.

The grave look on the doctor’s face said it all, but Jughead still held his breath as he waited for the inevitable.

“I’m so sorry to tell you this, Miss Cooper, but you’ve lost your baby.” Betty’s eyes were glassy as she lifted them.

“Okay. Thank you for telling me, doctor.” The voice that left her mouth was mechanic, so unlike the vibrant girl he’d come to know, come to love. He couldn’t do anything now as the aura around her began to dull. The doctor gave them a few minutes but said that they could go home when they were ready.

“Did you know?” Jughead asked after a few moments of deafening silence. She shook her head, pulling herself slowly from the gurney and reaching for her folded clothes. He looked away as she dressed.

~

He prepared for Betty to be a zombie, to wander around their apartment listless as she mourned for the life she didn’t even know they had created.

Instead she was painfully cheerful, going about the day with an optimism so powerful that it set off an ache behind Jughead’s temples. When he’d told her it was okay to be sad she’d fired back a, “It’s for the best, Jughead. We couldn’t afford it anyway,” before rambling on about this open air theatre that one of the waitresses from work had told her about, telling him they should go while the New York summer still stretched on, seeming endless in its hazy humidity.

One thing had changed – he had lost his power. He tried to pull her towards him, curl her against the planes of his chest as she laid, stiff, in their bed on brand new sheets, when she thought he wasn’t watching. She feigned sleep as she rolled away from him, gripping the edge of the mattress. He saw her flinch when he brushed his knuckles against the soft skin of her cheek and he knew that they’d come to the end of their run.

When the guys at the bar started calling him by name, planting his order down seconds before he walked through the door, Jughead didn’t stop. He just found a different bar.

~

“I think I’m going to see Polly,” she announced suddenly as the first snow began to fall. Jughead’s perpetual headache throbbed as his gaze snapped to hers.

“But she still lives…” Betty nodded, not looking at him from where she was stirring some kind of sauce on the stove.

“With my parents, yep,” she finished for him, shoulders tense.

Jughead stayed silent, following her around the kitchen as she prepared their dinner, still in her worn, pink uniform from her shift, hair fighting against the hair tie it was restrained in. The sight of her made him ache as if she was so far away. He couldn’t remember the last time they’d had sex, the last time she’d even let him kiss her breathless. Now, whenever they did touch it was as sterile as that hospital room that set the last part of their struggling attempt at a new start ablaze. He missed her, so fucking much. She wasn’t living with him anymore, her heart wasn’t in the city and he wasn’t sure if it belonged to him anymore.

So he just nodded tersely, replying with a short, “Okay,” before he twisted the cap off his beer and retreated to the living room.

He was glad that the apartment was entirely in her name, since she’d been the one to put the deposit down. At 3AM the city no longer welcomed him as he slung his duffel over his shoulder, pulled on his little-used Serpents jacket and scribbled a ‘you deserve more’ amidst her scrawls of their finances and left it on the counter top.

It was time to quit playing this game.

~

Betty couldn’t remember what it felt like to be in high school.

Her friends had all come back for their winter breaks at college and everything felt too tense, too perfect. They didn’t say anything about her absence, her lack of contact, that fact that she’s back in her old room at her parents’ house. It was as if it never happened.

Betty felt as if she was suffocating. There was this ever-present, phantom void in her stomach where she knew something belonged – a piece of her fused with a piece of Jughead – that she knew she would never get back, not now he had left her.

It took her three weeks to get up the nerve to call Polly, breaking down as soon as she heard her sister’s relieved voice on the other end. Another two weeks and she was on her way back to Riverdale, dreading the look on her mother’s face as she stepped through the door with her tail between her legs and her heart shattered in her hands.

Alice took one look at her, face hard and unreadable, before pulling Betty into her chest with such force that it knocked the wind right out of her. They sunk to the floor as Betty sobbed into her mother’s neck, crying until she was hoarse and her eyes wouldn’t stay open any longer.

Winter, it seemed, was willing to be a little kinder to her.

~

Betty threw her sheets over her legs, too hot despite having wrenched open her window. She pulled on her sneakers and grabbed her keys, tiptoeing out of the house and into her BMW that her parents had put away into the garage.

She let her hand hang out of the window as the summer air rushed between her fingers, reminding her of a night that felt like a lifetime ago.

She parked, talking off her shoes as she walked along the shore, water lapping at her toes, a sigh slipping through her chapped lips. Without the party in the background she could hear every sound that nature had to offer this late into the evening: the trickle of the river, the chirp of crickets, wind rustling the lush greenery above her. It wasn’t better yet, but it didn’t hurt as much anymore.

If she was honest with herself, she didn’t blame him. They were dumb, she was dumb, in thinking that they could make it. They were stupid teenagers, high on the freedom that they could give to each other, that had caged them both with responsibilities beyond their years. He had an addictive personality and she had an evasive one – they were never going to make it work.

Betty stopped short as she spotted a figure in the distance, sitting on the barrier of the bridge; she hadn’t realised she’d gone that far downstream. He was facing away from her, unaware of her presence behind him. She wanted to run, but her legs locked in place. She wanted to be angry, so angry, with him, but all the fight left her as she saw the familiar flannel of his shirt, old woollen beanie covering his dark curls, that she could feel the ghost of between her fingers.

“That’s dangerous, you know,” she heard herself saying.

His head whipped round. “Betty,” he breathed, eyes wide as if he didn’t believe she was really there.

“Hi, Juggie,” she replied, voice wobbling as emotion clouded her words.

“I can’t even… I’m sorry–” he began, making to rise from his seat. She put out a hand to stop him, clambering up next to him, leaving enough distance to place her hand at her side on the splintering wood.

“It’s not your fault. I mean, it is a little. But it’s mine too,” she said to the river. “I wished you hadn’t left me,” she confessed so quietly she wasn’t sure he could hear her. The ashamed drop of his head told her he had. “But I also wished I hadn’t pushed you away. You lost something too.”

“I was pulling back long before the… before it happened,” he argued, turning to look at her profile.

“We’re both to blame,” she affirmed. He didn’t nod, lips pressed into a tight line. She knew he would probably never agree with her, would always blame himself for what he’d done to them.

Beneath the clear night sky, sitting on the old bridge that connected the north and south sides of Riverdale, Betty let her pinkie slide along the railing until it brushed his, and it was something.

Follow Your Heart

Group: BTS

Pairing: JIN X READER

Requested: Anonymous said: Could you please do a Jin x reader where the two are best friends but are secretly in love but the reader didn’t think he shared her feeling so she ended up in a relationship and she’s been with the other guy (had to shorten the request! I actually prefer more detailed request so thank you!)

Excerpt: You finally accept that your relationship will not prevent your feelings for your best friend so you decide to follow Jin’s advice and follow your heart.

Genre: fluff, angst

Length: 1.1k

A/N: Always follow cheesy quotes!

Originally posted by mauloveskpop

“Jin, we need to talk,” the text sent with a small noise causing your boyfriend who had stayed the night to stir, but in seconds he had replied saying you should come over. As you rolled out of your bed, sparing a glance at your boyfriend of almost seven months who was fast asleep and without a word, you picked up your keys from the side and left.

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