Surprised I haven't seen this yet but: bughead coffee shop au
Okay, I wasn’t satisfied with this, but here it is! Never quite sure what direction to take an AU so I did mid-twenties Betty and Jughead, meeting in another life.
He was here again. Betty felt a little fizz of pleasure run through her - the dark-haired, dark-eyed boy with the sarcastic tilt to his mouth and the keen, perceptive eyes was sitting in his favored spot at the coffee shop counter. Betty had started coming to Casablanca’s only two weeks ago, after moving to Riverdale from Los Angeles, and had initially wandered in, at 10pm, expecting it to be a bar, given the name. Instead, the kindly barista had explained that the owner loved classic movies, and had given the shop an international flair by offering coffee brewing methods from all over the world. The nameless boy had been there then, sitting at the counter with a laptop in front of him, and as she glanced at him through the half-shadows - for the shop had just closed - dark eyes lifted from the screen to study her without expression. She’d been struck, at once, by the quizzical slant of his face, and by the piercing intelligence of those eyes.
Since then, she’d come every few days, mostly for the exquisite, exotic coffee - impossibly sweet Turkish lattes, muddy Sudanese brews with the grounds still floating in them, perfectly balanced Italian espressos - but also to see him. She’d come armed with some notebooks and a textbook this time, for her class on Violence Against Women. The shop was unusually crowded - probably because finals were coming up. Walking up to the counter, ignoring the boy, she studied the menu briefly, trying to decide what to try this time.
“Panama geisha.” A voice broke through her thoughts.
“I’m sorry?” she turned to the boy, who had shifted sideways in his seat and was, disconcertingly, studying her.
“It’s a balance of sweet and bitter.” He offered her a half-smile that made his eyes crinkle in all kinds of interesting ways. “It suits you.”
Betty didn’t know whether this was a compliment or otherwise, but nodded, examining him in turn now that she had a chance to. She should think of him as a man, she thought, that was more accurate to his age - he looked to be mid-twenties like her - but someone she couldn’t stop thinking of him as “the Boy.”
“Thank you. Medium Panama geisha, please,” she asked the barista, who by this time knew her.
“Coming right up, Miss Betty,” he responded promptly and whirled away. Betty shifted her books and looked around, unable to spot a seat in the crowded shop.
“Sit,” the boy said gently, lifting his coat off the bar stool next to him. Betty spotted two seats open at the far back, but who was she kidding, she came here to see this boy, and she wasn’t about to pass up the chance.
“Any woman fighting the hard battle you’re in deserves a seat and the best caffeine around,” he said, nodding at her books.
Betty glanced down.
“How do you know this isn’t just a general ed class and I’m gritting my teeth through it while I major in marketing with an emphasis on high-end fashion blogging?”
Laughter crossed his eyes and was gone quick as a flash.
“Because I happen to know that isn’t a general ed class. And because your style is too unique for you to be into Vogue. What are you studying?”
“International Affairs. I’m focusing on human rights challenges for women,” she said, slightly curious to see if he’d be at all intimidated, or bored - a lot of men were.
Instead, he looked at her with a snap of complete attention, as though she was the most interesting thing he’d ever seen, and she caught her breath, feeling like the world had receded and left just the two of them. The blue plaid brought out the multi-colored shades of his eyes - blue and green - and he wore a stylish black coat over it with the effortless ease of someone very, very comfortable in their own skin. Curly dark hair sprung in all directions, and she resisted the impulse to push back one lock that had fallen over his eye.
Bending toward each other, they fell into conversation - he peppered her with questions, and somehow, she told him all about herself. How she’d left home at 17 - she glossed over why but something in the warmth of the eyes on her made her feel that he sensed the undertones when she talked about her parents. About how she’d found a best friend, Veronica, worked in a coffeeshop and then done part-time accounting, putting herself through college, and planned to do her master’s in Italy. His face lit up at this and he told her about the year he’d spent backpacking through Europe after high school, how he’d fallen in love with coffee in Italy, and then trained as a barista at high-end shops all over Europe.
“What do you do now?” she asked.
“I’m a freelance journalist. I travel a lot, but always end up back here. You can take Jughead away from home, but you can’t take small-town America out of the Jughead,” he said, laughing.
“Why do you love travel so much?” she asked curiously - she was very eager to travel abroad herself, but wanted to hear his response.
“It’s the reset of it - the magic. You travel, and you get to leave who you are, all your former selves, behind, and find something new, in your environment or yourself. And - I’m looking for something. I don’t know what - I’ll know it when I see it.”
“I know that magic,” Betty said slowly. “When I left home - when I left my parents for good - it felt like I’d been sleepwalking my whole life, and suddenly I woke up, and the universe opened up to me full of possibility, and I could be anyone I wanted to be.”
He nodded, and looked away, then looked back at her, and something shifted in the air.
“That feeling - that sense of wonder, adventure, surprise…that’s the feeling I got when you first walked in that door two weeks ago,” he said with quietly, his eyes darkening with intensity.
She flushed and looked away, then back at him as he continued.
“I could tell you something trite like you’re beautiful. Or that I want to get to know you better. But I’m not going to pretend this is ordinary. It isn’t. When you walked in, it was like an old, favorite movie had started, one I’ve loved forever but that I experience new each time. That I feel like I know you.” He shook his head, and a slight, rueful smile crossed his lips.
“And now if I haven’t frightened you off completely - tell me if I’m crazy.”
“You’re not crazy,” Betty said softly. They looked at each other for a long, long moment.
“Then go to the movies with me,” he said with a grin that changed his whole face, lighting it up with warmth, humor, magic. “As a beginning, tonight. That won’t be the end of the night - but let’s start.”
“Yes,” Betty half-whispered, listening to the fact that she was more attracted to this boy - this man - than she’d ever been to anyone. Jumping up, he slung his laptop behind the counter and picked up her books for her. As they turned to leave, the barista caught Jughead.
“Boss - sorry to bother you,” he said in an undertone, “but can we close early today? Just got a call my family’s here earlier than expected, and Todd can’t take my shift.”
“No problem,” Jughead said easily, also in a low tone, and headed toward the door.
“You’re the manager?” Betty asked in puzzlement. “Then how do you travel…?” she trailed off as realization came to her. “You own this place!” she exclaimed, in surprise and pure pleasure.
He opened the coffeeshop door, and turned back to her, and smiled, summer wind blowing past him and touching her as it stirred his hair, and he offered his hand.
“Let’s go on an adventure, Betty Cooper,” he said, lights playing in his dark eyes, and even though it was crazy to take his hand, because they’d just met, Betty felt a rush - of magic, of security, of rightness - as she looked into those eyes. She took his hand, and he laced his fingers with hers - they fit perfectly, of course.
“Let’s go, Jughead Jones,” she said, smiling brightly, and they turned together into the night.