Please please please PLEASE do a fic where betty runs after jughead. It would mean everything to me
I’m definitely gonna do some more fluffy requests after this, but of course I had to get all the feels from the episode out of the way first!
“Jughead, wait!” Betty’s voice cracked as she called after his retreating figure. He paused at the top of the steps leading from the school, eyes glancing frantically in every direction as he decided how to get away, where to go. She reached for him, fingers swiping empty air as he slipped further from her grasp.
“Leave me alone.” His voice wasn’t hard, he didn’t shout. It was broken, coated in the betrayal of a young boy who’d been hurt too many times before, icy coldness seeping in around the edges. The look he thew over his shoulder as he began to descend the steps sucked all the air from her body, chest aching with rejection. He looked disappointed, resigned… unsurprised. A fresh wave of tears fell from her eyes as she realised that, however deep down he tried to suppress it, he expected something like this to happen. Even from her, she thought as an uncomfortable prickle of shame crept down her spine.
Her legs were frozen, feet planted firmly on the concrete as she watched his outline get further and further away from her, disappearing into the darkness as he sprinted from the people he used to consider friends. Betty’s fingers curled in on themselves as her eyes remained, unfocused, on the last place she saw him, nails poised to break the skin. A warm hand on her frost-nipped shoulder pulled her out of her reverie.
“Betty,” Veronica’s soft, pleading voice reached her, muffled by the sound of her heart, pounding in her ears. Betty wrenched herself from Veronica’s grasp, turning to her with a look of disgust etched on her features.
“No! How dare you?” she accused, voice quiet, barely piercing the still night air, but with a deadly venom dripping from every word. Veronica visibly flinched, Archie’s hand coming up to rest at the base of her spine. “I have to find him. I need to-” she choked, no longer addressing the couple before her, commanding herself to move. She narrowly avoided tripping over her own feet as she began to walk on numb legs, pace picking up until she was running after Jughead, full force.
Where would he go? Where would he need to be right now? Her mind flew through every possibility as her feet pounded the pavement, breath billowing in white clouds before her as her lungs burned with every inhale of frigid air. She thought about Pop’s, but with a stab to her gut she realised that it would no longer seem like a safe place to him. She had taken that from him too, corrupted it with soft declarations of warm feelings, promises of forever, and whispered confessions about every hidden corner of themselves, for their ears only. The red vinyl of their booth was seeped in the blood of his open, wounded heart, pulled out with her own hands and left, barely beating, on the sticky tabletop.
The drive in was a mess of crushed rubble and memories lost, something new being built atop the old before the dust even had time to settle, scabs unable to form over the cuts. It was merely one more strike in the column, one further pair of hands shoving Jughead towards the ‘you are now leaving Riverdale, please come again soon’ sign. Betty could feel each passing second tap against her skin, gnawing at her like an irritating insect that kept coming back for more, no matter how many times you swatted it away.
By the time she’d reached FP’s trailer her legs were cramping, feet aching and bleeding inside her heels, dark lips outlined with blue. Her chest swelled with hope as she saw the torn down police tape, the thrown open door. As quickly as it had risen her heart plummeted. If he was inside what would she say? She wasn’t sure she could handle further accusations from him, already cracked and broken too much from everything passed. She couldn’t feel the wind around her, the floor beneath her, her vision tunnelled as she crept into the darkened doorway.
Her eyes widened at the state of the trailer, upturned furniture and belongings thrown haphazardly about the place. He’d told her, the morning after he went to visit his dad with coffee and doughnuts, walking into the Blue and Gold office with a comically misplaced smile, about how FP had cleaned up, not only himself but the trailer too. It resembled the fading memories Jughead had of his childhood home more than ever, cushions plumped, flowers in the vase by the front window. He could almost feel his mom’s presence slipping back into the trailer, unwilling to push down the hope of a reunited family any longer. Now it looked as if a hurricane had swept through, upending everything once more. She almost missed his hunched figure as her eyes flew furtively across the room, tucked against the counter, fading into the furnishings.
“Jug?” He stiffened as her whisper broke through his shuddering sobs, straightening up in an instant. He didn’t turn to look at her. She could see his uneven breaths unfurling before him. Her face crumpled as she dropped to her knees beside him, fingers desperate to touch.
“I’m so sorry,” she whimpered, hurrying to continue at his disbelieving huff. “I know that will never be enough, but you have to believe me. I didn’t want to hurt you, I never meant to cause you any pain…”
“Intention and execution are two different things,” he murmured, voice hoarse in the aftermath of his tears. Betty nodded, eyes cast downwards on her clenched fists, resting on top of the wrinkled satin of her dress. She pulled her lower lip between her teeth, chewing on it anxiously as she awaited his goodbye, hoping to let the tears slip silently down her cheeks without the accompanying wail that threatened to burst from her lips. A heavy silence settled over them, and every moment he didn’t break it, didn’t make to move away from her, she prayed it would last just a minute more. She had a thousand things to say, rolling about it her head, pounding against her skull until it ached. But she was terrified that even one word would be the final trigger in sending him away for good. Her fists tightened as she began the first story that came to mind, just to speak.
“When I was seven Mom told me we could get a pet. I was so excited, I’d been pleading with her for months and months. I spent ages pouring through magazines and looking at all the posters in the window of the shelter looking for just the right addition to our family. Then an advert for a tiny ginger kitten appeared and I knew that was the one. I cleared out a little space in my room, filled it with cushions and blankets because I was so sure that this would be where it was going to sleep. When I went to tell Mom that I had chosen and we should go and shop for things before we picked the cat up, I told her I was going to call it Caramel, she had just had a huge fight with Dad. I didn’t know what about, but all I remember is her looking down at me and saying she’d changed her mind. Just like that. I cried and cried but she just told me to stop being such a baby, to grow up. I was so inconsolable that Dad went and bought me a stuffed toy, a ginger cat with the name tag Caramel. I was so furious with this replacement that I screamed until I made myself sick.” Betty let out a humourless laugh as she remembered her behaviour. Neither one of her parents had shown her any sympathy after that. She took a breath.
“I know it’s not even close to what is happening now, but I know what it’s like to have the rug pulled from under you. I remember what it felt like, at seven years old, to feel betrayed by the people you thought loved you the most. And I promised myself that I would never make anyone I… I would never make anyone I love feel that way if I could help it.” She didn’t notice the way his breath stopped at her confession, liquid blue eyes glancing over to her from his peripheries. The scarlet drops of blood pouring from her clenched fists, staining her dress, seemed to escape her notice, but not his.
“The thought that I made you feel like that breaks my heart,” she continued, her voice nothing more than a high-pitched, shaky whimper as the dam broke. “And I’d do anything to take it back, to just tell you what was-” Her breathing was too fast to continue the sentence, heart pounding against her rib cage as all the oxygen left the room.
His warm hands covered her fists. She pulled in a deep inhale, air rushing to aid her lungs as his fingers unfurled her own, revealing the fresh, deep wounds in her palms. Her face flamed crimson as they both stared down at the damage she’d done once again. His sigh washed over her skin, lighting it up with tiny flames, as he lifted her hands to his lips, cradling them in his own as he placed a delicate kiss against the back of her fingers. He wiped away the blood with his thumbs, smearing it over her pale skin. When she tucked her head into the crook of his neck he didn’t pull away, didn’t stiffen. Instead he raised his hand to the back of her head, fingers tangling in the golden, silky strands, anchoring her against him.
It wasn’t a sign of acceptance, it wasn’t a sign that all was forgiven. But it was still a sign. It was a sign of hope.