Ever Since New York • Pt 3
Thanks to everyone who’s given me positive feedback! Sorry for any mistakes, I just wanted to get it posted :) It will be a bit of a slow burner
Betty sat at her vanity, the same exact one from when she was a teenager. In fact, the whole bedroom was the same. Her Dad Hal had preserved it, almost like a display in a museum from from distant teenage decade. Polly’s room too, even though she was a Mother with her own home now.
The same pink bed covers, floral curtains and all. Betty sometimes wondered why he never renovated it. But she guessed he was saving it, maybe waiting for the day she would come home.
Betty could see from her window, that Fred Andrews had converted Archies old room. He had needed a full time carer after he recovered from being shot, and he refused to let Archie give up his life to do it. So he had taken a male nurse in permanently, and that was his room now. Betty smiled to herself as she remembered the countless late night phone calls she had gotten from Archie, annoyed with his Dad for not letting him do it, all he wanted to do was help. But Archie was destined for more than that, as they all knew well by now.
“Is that your reminiscing face, babe?” Betty was caught off guard, and she quickly hid that nostalgic smile she had on. Her boyfriend was leaning against the door frame, his dark hair hair falling into his eyes. She felt her heart skip a beat as she looked up at him, suddenly having a flash back to a different dark haired boy in her childhood bedroom. She shook her head as if to rid it of that memory, smiling up at him before he noticed.
Jack wandered over to the bed and sat on the edge, running his hand over the duvet.
“It’s kinda freaky in here, isn’t it? Like a time portal or something.” He looked up at her, expecting her to laugh, but instead she was just staring at him, wide eyed. Now that he was sat on the bed, her bed, the very same one, she was overwhelmed with images of a past she had suppressed. If she didn’t look right at Jacks face, she could almost imagine it was the boy who haunted her dreams sat there. Just like he used too. She felt her throat contract at the thought of it, her hands becoming clammy. She was so lost in thought she didn’t even hear what Jack was asking her. She snapped out if it, she shouldn’t be thinking about that. About him. Maybe it was a stupid idea to bring Jack here. When she had came to visit her Dad on her own, she could block out any tiny slither of thought she had about Jughead. But with her current boyfriend sat on her bed, one she had shared with Jughead numerous times, it suddenly felt wrong. Like he shouldn’t be there, not him, that mess of dark hair is attached to the wrong body. She interrupted whatever it was Jack was saying suddenly, standing up quickly hoping it would clear her mind.
“Shall we go downstairs?”
Jack was giving her a confused look, one eyebrow raised. It was starting to stress Betty out, the fact that she couldn’t look at Jack right now, not in this room. Not when he was reminding her so much of him. She felt her fists involuntarily clench, her nails straining against the crescent shaped scars in her palm. She needed to get out of there.
“Uh, sure. You okay, Betts?”
“Don’t call me that.” She snapped at him, instantly feeling guilty. He wasn’t to know what was going through her head right now, and how her heart felt so unbelievably heavy in her chest at each thought of her ex boyfriend, one that Jack didn’t even know existed. She wasn’t sure how long that would last while she was visiting her home town, his name was almost certainly going to be mentioned at some point. Betty wanted to put it off as long as possible.
“Sorry, Jack. I didn’t mean to snap at you.” She walked over to him and gently grabbed his hand from his lap, pulling him up to her.
‘It’s just this room suddenly feels too small. Lets go downstairs and sit with my Dad.“
“So Jack, tell me again what it is you do?”
They were all sat around the dinner table now. Betty, Jack, and Hal. Her Dad was asking all the questions he was supposed to when you were meeting your youngest daughters boyfriend for the first time, no matter how trivial.
“I work in software design.” Jack replied, making sure to make eye contact with Hal. Ever the gentleman. Showing respect. Hal already knew the answers of course, Betty had told him numerous times. She looked down at her plate, zoning out of the conversation that was going on around her, and chased her peas around absent mindlessly with her fork. She didn’t have much of an appetite, still feeling sick from earlier on in the afternoon. No matter what she did, she couldn’t shake feeling like something was wrong. More and more it started to kick in that she probably shouldn’t bring Jack here, when she was alone she could deal with the ache, but it was hard to put on a brave face in front of him. Especially when he had no idea.
“So Betty, are you going to take Jack next door, to meet Fred? He would love to see you.” Hal was watching her, wondering how many guesses it would take to find the source of her distraction. Probably just one. She looked up at smiled at her Father, losing her train of thought.
“Yeah, of course. I really want to see how he’s doing, ask him if he’s heard much from Archie.”
‘Ahh, the great Archie Andrews. Singing extraordinaire.“ Betty rolled her eyes are her Dads comment.
"I have heard so much about this Archie, I would love to meet him one day.” Jack smiled at Betty with warmth when he said this, and it made her heart flutter a little that he was so interested in meeting her family and friends. It had been his idea to come to Riverdale with her this time, and it took some persistence on his part to get Betty to agree to it. She preferred to do these trips alone. But it was about time he met her Dad, they had been dating for over 9 months.
“You will.” She smiled back.
“And Veronica too, I hope. Sometimes I cannot believe she and Archie are still together - ” Hal shook his head as he said this “Good on them, I think. It’s nice you are all still in touch, especially without Jugh-”
“Dad!” Betty yelled at him under her breath, trying to kick him under the table. She took a quick glance at Jack, hoping he wasn’t going to ask where Hal was going to take that sentence. Jack had a quizzical look on his face, but he didn’t pry any further.
“Actually, I think I’ll take Jack over now. To see Mr Andrews - ” She smiled at Hal “Would you like to come, Dad?”
The look on his daughters face told him the answer he needed to give.
“No, no. You kids go, I’ll wash up.”
Betty stood up from the table, relieved that her Dad could read her expression clearly. She stopped to kiss his cheek as she walked past.
“Thanks, Dad. And I’m not a kid anymore. I’m nearly 24, you know.”
'Don’t remind me.“ He laughed, rounding up the plates from the dining table as they left.
As Betty sat in the familiar Andrews household, she was grateful her Dad had never sold up. She was so glad she could still visit Fred without having to travel to far within Riverdale, there was no risk in this neighbourhood. And she would hate to miss out on seeing him. Her and Jack had been there for a while at this point, getting familiar with just mindless chatter.
"So have you heard from my boy lately, Betty?” Fred asked, smiling at her from the opposite arm chair.
“Not a lot since the album came out, but I know he’s busy. He sent me a signed copy, so generous.” She laughed, feeling more comfortable here than in her own house.
“You could probably make some decent money from that, on eBay.” Fred joked.
“I can’t wait to meet Archie one day, it sounds like we would get along” Jack reached for Betty’s hand as he said it, squeezing her fingers. “I want to know every part of Betty’s world.”
Fred shot Betty a look, one that took her aback for how much she could see Archie in him in that one expression.
“Every part?” Fred didn’t look at Jack when he asked him, just kept and eye on Betty. He could tell from her face that there was one thing from her world she obviously hadn’t mentioned to him before. And he knew it wasn’t up to him to mention it. “That’s great, Jack. Good man.”
Betty gave him a grateful smile.
“Thanks, Mr Andrews. Sorry, where was your bathroom again?”
Fred gave him the directions, reminding him his name was Fred, he didn’t need to keep up appearances. Once Jack was out of ear shot, he looked at Betty again.
“So, no mention of Jughead?”
The way Fred said his name, out loud, so easily like that, hit Betty hard in the chest. It had been a name she had ignoring for 6 years.
“No. I’ve never told Jack about J-…” She could barely bring herself to say his name. “About him.”
Fred didn’t reply, but just keep watching her face. Waiting for it to falter. Betty cleared her throat.
“How is he doing, anyway?” She hoped Fred wouldn’t hear the other questions in her voice. Is he okay? Is he broken like I am?
He just nodded and told her he was okay, still doing the gang thing. He said he comes around to see him often, and Betty thanked whatever God there may be that he had not been there today.
“I’m hoping that with Archie coming to visit in a couple of weeks, that he might convince him to get out of Riverdale. Do something different for a change, make something of his life. He’s a good kid, Betty. He deserves more than the path his Father destined him with.”
Betty nodded along, feeling a twinge of guilt at the mention of FP. She had heard he had gotten out, but was under house arrest basically forever. He had moved to be with Gladys and Jellybean. She wasn’t sure why Jughead hadn’t followed, but it wasn’t her place to know that. It was none of her business, really. That thought overhwhelmed her with sadness.
“I hope so too, Fred. I know it may not seem like it but.. I will always care for him.”
Fred gave her a sad smile.
“I know, Betty. And him for you. He said something the other day, actually. About you. he sai-”
He quickly shut his mouth as Jack walked back into the room.
“Who said what?” Jack asked, smiling at the both of them, not wanting to be left out.
“Oh, nothing important. I can’t remember exactly, anyway.” Fred waved his hand, dismissing the conversation. Betty took that as their time to leave, giving Fred a big hug after Jack had shaken his hand good bye. She didn’t say anything, but she didn’t have too. Fred knew. As he watched them walk back next door, blonde and dark heads bobbing, it wasn’t lost on him how much Jack resembled Jughead.
Later that night, when Betty and Jack were laying in bed, he asked her a question.
“Babe, who’s Jughead?”
She tried not to react to the mention of his name again, she had heard it too many times today.
“Why?” She probably could have been nicer about it.
“I heard you, with Fred. I’m just curious, that’s all.”
“He’s my ex boyfriend. We were all friends, Archie and Veronica too, like a little scooby gang.” It hurt Betty to think about old times. Even though she was still friends with Archie and Veronica, she missed it.
“Huh, right. That’s cute. Was it serious, you and this Jughead? What kinda name is that anyway?” He rolled over in disinterest, and Betty exhaled a breath she hasn’t realised she’d been holding.
“No-” She lied, “We were 16, 17 years old. We were just kids. How serious could that be?”
She lied and she lied again.