A/N: Loving Riverdale so far, this will hopefully go along with most of the story line, I'll be moving at along with the series as much as I can with my own twists within. I have no idea where I'm taking it yet though, I love Bughead in general so it will be making appearances throughout, as for everything else come along for the ride with me, hopefully it will be good. As always, please read and review.
Jughead was all set up to meet with Archie when he got the message, he wasn't coming. Things had been strained through the summer but this road trip was supposed to be the way to get them back on track, it was Archie's idea to do it so they could be as close as they used to be. It just showed him how much he meant to Archie now, something had changed and it had pushed him from his place in his life. As if enough hadn't gone wrong for him this summer, with his mum leaving with his sister, his dad going off the rails. At least he always had Pops.
He was there as it opened, insanely early but he needed confort food. He was suprised to see someone there as early as he was, he was even more surprised to see who it was.
They had known each other most of their lives and he hated distance had been put between them over the summer. He knew it was only because things had gone so wrong with him and Archie, he knew that if she had to choose she would always pick Archie so he had taken to choice away and just stopped talking to her. It seemed like a horrible thing to do but he couldn't bear to lose her and know it was her choice, at least now he knew it was him forcing the issue. He knew what she felt for Archie, she was infatuated and had been since they had hit puberty, the only person who couldn't see it was Archie himself.
He stopped himself from looking over at Betty, he was worried about her, it wasn't exactly like her to be here so early. He wished he brought his laptop with him, he needed the distraction from her stood quietly at the counter, he hated ignoring her. In the end he couldn't help it and looked up to see her looking straight at him, her eyes looked red and there was a mark across her face. Before he really knew what he was doing he was moving towards her, a deep frown on his face, instinctively his hands reached up to cup her face and turn it so he could see the mark. It was distictively a hand shape across her jaw and cheek.
"What happened Betty?" His voice was soft but strong, he expected an answer.
"Juggie..." He winced as she said that name, the name only she ever called him, and she noticed it. "It doesn't matter." She tried to move out of his gripand he moved his hand off her face for fear of hurting her but kept a hand on her shoulder now.
"It does matter, come on Betty. What's going on?" She made no move to get further away from him now, instead relaxing into him.
"My mum..." Tear flooded her eyes, she didn't need to give more information than that.
"Come here." He wrapped his arms around her tighly and just let her cry into his shoulder. When the tears slowed he spoke to her again. "Let sit and eat."
Betty moved into the booth while Jughead gave their orders over to Pop. She couldn't belive she had just fallen apart, to Jughead of all people. He had treated her like she meant nothing all summer and yet when he had talked to her he couldn't help it, she couldn't think of anyone else she would be like this in front of, not even Archie. She always needed to be perfect in his eyes. Jughead came back at sat opposite her.
"Are you ok?"
"Not really, sorry for the break down."
"I get it. Family's suck and I know your mum well enough. Does she do this often?" He gestured to her face.
"Just a couple of times, this summer has been rough."
"I'm sorry, that I haven't been around I mean."
"You've been around, just not talking to me, can I ask why?"
The arrival of food stops him from needing to answer right away, he had gotten her usual breakfast order of pancakes with syrup and vanilla milkshake, while he got bacon and eggs with a chocolate milkshake.
"Me and Archie haven't been getting along." It was the only thing he could think of to explain his absence.
"I know, but how does that stop me and you being friends?"
"Well, you would have chosen him anyway." He could hear the bitterness in his voice and hated it.
"You never gave me the chance. Honestly I don't see why I have to choose at all." He looked at her then and thought about how he should have known better really, Betty would always try to keep everyone happy, maybe she wouldn't have chosen one or the other, just stayed friends with both.
"You're right, I'm sorry. I thought I was making it easier for you by making the choice for you. I shouldn't have and now you've spent the summer having to deal with your mum by yourself."
"Don't worry about it." She felt herself relaxing now, she was glad that she could have Jughead back as her friend, she had missed him this summer.
Jughead just put his head in his hands, after everything that had happened this summer he now felt increasingly guilty for not being a better friend to Betty when she had needed one most.
"Hey, I mean it, I'm fine. Feeling much better already." She smiled a small smile then and it made him smile in return, he couldn't help it her smiles were contagious.
"What have you got going on today?"
"I didn't have anything planned past getting out of my house, I don't want to go back any time soon."
"Let's do something then." For the second time he didn't really know what he was doing as he said that.
"What do you have in mind?"
"I was supposed to be hanging with Archie all day but he backed out. So I'm all yours." His mouth seemed to have a mind of its own now, the last part had come out much more intense than he had meant it to and one of his hands had made its way on to one of hers. She turned her hand slightly and grasped his.
"Sounds good, it's been a while since we've hung out, where do you want to go?" He smiled at how excited she looked at the prospect of hanging out with him for the day, their hands stayed intwined.
"I've got the perfect place." He stood up then and pulled on her hand so she would rise with him. "Come with me."
She nodded in responce and kept pace with him so their hands never left each others.
He kept walking with Betty beside him, through the trees around the back of the Drive-in theatre he had been calling home for the last week. Her smile was getting bigger the longer he walked with her, suddenly she broke into a huge grin as they entered a small opening. It was still fairly sheltered by the trees but it was light as the sun shone down throught the leaves.
"Juggie, what is this place?" This time he smiled when he heard the nickname.
"I found it earlier in the summer, I come here to read, to write, or just relax."
"I love it."
"Good, hopefully it will help you relax."
"I feel it working already."
He stood on the outskirts of the opening and watched her walking around, she closed her eyes and angled her face up to feel the sun on it. She looked peaceful and he smiled knowing he had helped that come about, it had always been simple with Betty he was always comfortable with her. And yet it was always complicated with Betty, she was in love with his (possibly former) best friend, and yet he had never felt joy like that moment of simply watching her bask in sunlight. She would never know this about him, could never.
"What?" She turned to see Jughead looking at her strangely, it made her feel suddenly self conscious.
"Nothing, just glad you're relaxing."
"Come in here and sit with me." She realised he had stayed by the outer limits of the opening rather than walking in with her.
Now Jughead went in and sat in the middle of the opening, he patted the ground next to him and was rewarded by a light laugh by Betty and she sat next to him.
"So how's your summer been?" Betty turned to face Jughead.
"Wow, that was expansive."
"Sorry, Betts. I've been having a hard time, but nothing worth talking about." He felt Betty put her hand on his arm.
"Ok, you can talk to me about anything though. If you want I mean."
"Thanks, I might take you up on that, another time though?" He really didn't have any plans to talk about his family issues but he knew if he did it would be with Betty.
"Sure." She didn't seem to like the gloomy conversation they had started. "Change on topic, you said you write out here, what have you been doing?"
"This and that." This conversation didn't make him any less confortable.
"Ok, you suck at this, you pick a conversation you can actually talk about." He smiled at that but saw her point.
"School seems safe." Betty just laughed at that.
The two of them settled in to comfortable conversation about school and plans for college. They then fell into comfortable silence as Jughead lay down, Betty stayed sat upright and just looked down at him, whenever she had caught sight of him throughout the summer he had looked tense and sometimes angry. She was glad to see him looking relaxed and calm for once. They didn't realise how late it had gotten until a small growl came from Betty's stomach, Jughead suddenly sat upright at the sound and looked at his phone, they had been sat out there all day, sometimes talking, sometimes just sat or laying down in the sun.
"Damn, it's dinner time, I feel bad I haven't fed you all day." Betty laughed at the way he said it, he was being genuine about his concern for her.
"That's alright, how about Pop's for dinner?"
The two of them walked back out to Pop's and this time sat down with burgers and fries with their milkshakes. Jughead couldn't remember a day he had been this happy and relaxed.
"Right, I should get you home."
"I suppose I have to go back there."
"They'll be worried by now, want you home. If she touches you again get out though, let me know and I'll find you, ok?"
"Ok Juggie." She stood up with him then and let him walk her home, it was a quiet walk and a quick goodbye at her door.
Betty quickly let her parent she was home before heading upstairs, she wrote a quick text to Jughead as she sat down on her bed.
Thanks for today, I really needed a friend and I'm glad you were there.
You're welcome Betty, I needed it too and I'm glad I was there. You know you can talk to me, about anything.
I might just take you up on that.