I was drowning
It was a Friday night, dark and cold on the Southside as Jughead Jones pulled his leather jacket tighter around his shoulders, tucking his chin to his chest to avoid the bitter winter wind that whipped through the doorway of the broken down bar.
As soon as he stepped into the Serpent run establishment it was clear something was very very wrong. Gang members were running hectic around the bar, shouting and confusion filling the air as the older men spoke harshly into their phones and younger Serpents bent down low and seemed to be talking to something underneath a table.
Jughead flung his keys down, moving slowly toward the older man currently standing to the side typing furiously into his cellphone.
“What’s going on?” Jughead asked, scanning the faces of about twenty very angry Serpents. The man named Viper snapped his head up, hands flinging into the air.
“A kid, they dropped off a kid! He’s under the table, all covered in blood. It’s a message. A damn threat.” He growled.
“A kid? What? What are you talking about?” The dark haired teenager stared blankly at the older leader of the Serpents.
“Look for yourself! He’s under the table, it’s the ghoulies! They’ve gone too far this time, he’s just a kid, can’t be anymore than four years old, you gotta call someone. Now!” He ordered, marching away.
Jughead made his way to the table, shoving the boys surrounding the cracked wood as he bent down, eyes instantly meeting the aqua blue ones of the tiny boy, blood caking his face and a ripped t shirt hanging off of his too small frame.
“What the fuck.” He whispered, tearing his eyes away, it was almost physically painful to see the signs of pure abuse.
“Jones!” Jughead jumped up, “I thought I told you to call someone!” Jughead looked at the scarred man
“Who am I even supposed to call?!”
“I don’t know! I don’t care just get that kid out from underneath the table, lord knows who’s blood that is.”
Pulling his phone out from the pocket of his jacket Jughead dialed involuntarily, he only realized who he had called when the familiar sugar sweet voice answered from the other end, slightly out of breathe and tired.
“Betty, I’m….I’m at the Whyte worm…I….I need you.”
There was silence for a moment before she answered
“I’m on my way.”
The line went dead.
17 minutes later the Beautiful Blonde slammed through the door wearing tiny brown ugg boots, her cheerleading uniform and an incredibly loose bun on the top of her head. Every man in the bar turned to stare at the leggy Blonde, half drooling half staring in utter confusion as she pushed past and headed directly towards the crowded table, simply nodding at Jughead as she passed.
Viper came quickly to stand beside Jughead
“You called your ex girlfriend?”
Jughead crossed his arms
“You told me to call someone, so I did.” He shrugged, eyes trained protectively on the girl now crouching by the table, hands on the floor.
They had broken up two months ago, it had been brutal, words flung angrily, accusations that held no merit. And it was his fault, there was no question, he wanted to protect her, protect her from the gang, from situations like this, protect her from everything, but….
God he missed her everyday. He needed her to breathe, needed her warmth to sleep, he was freezing. Needed her arms to float because damnit he was drowning and he couldn’t do it anymore.
And here she was, he called and she was here, she always was, no matter what. That was Betty Cooper and you were the luckiest human being in the world If she decided to love you.
Betty crawled slowly towards the table, the warmest smile on her lips as she looked at the terrified child squeezed in the corner.
“It’s scary out here isn’t it?” She whispered, her voice echoing in the dead silent bar, she had everyone captured, they were hooked.
The little boy barely nodded, his hands shaking as he moved just the tiniest bit closer.
“I know how you feel, it’s all new and it’s scary. Someone left you here and I’m so sorry that they did that but I can promise you that you’re safe now.”
He moved closer, a shock of black hair coming into view.
“What’s your name love.” Betty reached a hand out, reaching to brush a stray curl from his eyes.
The voice was so small, so broken and damaged, cracking and hurt. Jugheads chest was thudding.
“Well max, my names betty, it’s very nice to meet you. Hey! how about we go and get you something warm to wear and then we can talk, there’s snow on the ground little bug, it’s awfully chilly.”
The little boy crawled to her, hesitantly taking her hand
“I’m…. it’s… dirty.. blood.” He whispered.
Betty nodded, clutching the little boy and hoisting him up on her hip
“Nothing a little soap and water can’t fix, does anything hurt you?” She questioned, gently patting the little boy as he coughed, a tiny smile on his lips as her fingers tickled under his chin.
“No, just cold… just.. hungry.” He whispered, burying his head into her neck, blood smearing over her smooth skin.
“Okay Love, Okay. Let’s go get cleaned up and then we’ll eat something okay?”
He nodded and Betty headed off towards the bathroom, eyes catching Jugheads, a broken hearted kind of look in her eyes.
As soon as the little boy and the blonde had left the room the silence broke.
“I want to marry her.”
“She can be my baby mama any day.”
“But those legs.”
Viper turned to Jughead
“Good job. We have a lot to talk about, group meeting at my trailer, bring the girl as soon as she gets the boy down. She might be interested in what we have to say.” It was an order, not a suggestion and Jughead Knew there was no way of getting her out of this situation.
They were screwed.