Written for Bex via the Drabble Game Challenge on hpfc (JugheadBetty, watching the sunrise).
"What are you doing here?"
Jughead looks up, a hint of a smile playing at his lips. "Here, here? Or do you mean in a philosophical sense?" he asks.
Betty rolls her eyes. Sometimes it's hard to tell if he's being sarcastic. Jughead has always been strange, so hard to read. "I mean it's five in the morning and you're out here," she says, gesturing at the drive-in that will be gone soon enough.
His smile becomes more solid, but there's no warmth in it. "It would be more fitting for me to ask you that, wouldn't it?" he counters, adjusting his crown beanie. "I'm me, after all. Why do I do anything? But you, well, you're Betty Cooper. Shouldn't you be home, studying, sleeping, or whatever it is perfect girls like you do?"
Betty flinches at that. Perfect. She knows that no one means it to be harsh (except maybe Cheryl, but Cheryl means everything harshly). But it's something she's trying to break away from. She doesn't want to be perfect anymore. She wants to be herself, but, truthfully, she doesn't even know who that is anymore.
Betty leans against the wall of the projector booth, sliding to the ground. For a moment, she considers telling Jughead the truth. She almost confides in him about her fight with her mother, about her sister, about Archie, and everything else that's been building and building. But Jughead is hiding something, and she decides that she can keep her secret a little longer. "Couldn't sleep," she says with a dismissive shrug.
Jughead nods and sits beside her. "I was just saying goodbye to this place," he sighs. "All of my best memories were here. It's my home. I mean, it's like my home. In symbolic sense, of course."
Betty opens her mouth to speak, to ask, but she thinks better of it. Nothing she can say will ease the pain of losing something he cares so deeply for. Instead, she takes his hand, looking up at the sky. The inky black lightens to dark purples and blues.
Jughead leans against her, his head resting against her shoulder. Betty smiles to herself, leaning back and watching the slow, steady shift of colors.
"Your mom won't be happy," he says quietly.
Betty laughs. "That's nothing new," she assures him. "I guess she's starting to see that I'm not her perfect daughter after all."
"You're pretty perfect to me. I mean, not just the whole good looks and good grades kind of perfect," he says. "You have the kindest heart, and…"
Betty turns her head to look at him, his face inches from hers. She swallows dryly and leans closer, closing the short distance between them, her lips brushing his. He kisses her back, and she's grateful that she hasn't read his signals wrong, the way she's misread Archie's for so long.
When they break apart, the sky has given away to orange and pink. Betty watches him, searching for something to say, waiting for him to break the silence. He only draws his knees to his chest, his eyes on the brightening sky.
"There you are! I have been searching everywhere for you!"
Betty groans when she hears her mother's voice.
"Elizabeth, get in the car now."
"I'd better go," Betty says, reluctantly climbing to her feet.
Jughead nods. "Give me a shout if you ever want someone to watch the sunrise with," he says.
He looks up, and she's surprised to see the subtle spark of happiness in his eyes. "Tomorrow," he agrees.
And Betty finds that she can deal with her mother's ranting about the bad side of town and that strange boy that she needs to stay away from because she has found a new hope.