"Why are you walking me home?" she asked out of the blue one afternoon.
"I always walk you home," he answered, looking curiously down at the smaller blonde girl, her ponytail bouncing rhythmically as they made their way home.
"I know that, Arch. I just never bothered to ask why," she responded, "You don't have to wait around after school, now that football's over, and I stay late most days for the newspaper."
"I'm a gentleman" he answered, laughingly, "You don't know who's creeping around here."
"C'mon, Archie, this is Riverdale!" she giggled, "Hardly the big bad city."
"I don't know, why," he answered, honestly this time, "You're my neighbor, I'm being neighborly."
"Oh," Betty said, tucking her chin into her coat. She didn't seem to like that answer.
"What did you wanted me to say, that I like spending time with you or something gross like that?" he poked her gently, "You did, didn't you?"
It thrilled him to see the streak of red burst across her pale complexion. She'd kill him if he ever pointed it out, but she blushes quite prettily.
"I wanted nothing of the sort," she responded, punching him in the arm, "Don't flatter yourself, Andrews."
"Looks like someone needs a little attention," he said, teasing but not cruelly, "Here, I have a great idea, why don't I come by your house tonight, we can make out."
"Eww, stop it," she was blushing so much now it reached the tips of her ears, "You're so gross, Archie."
"You love me," he smirked, "Just admit it. I mean, how can you not? It's the red hair, isn't it?"
"You wish," she stuck out her tongue, "That's more Ronnie's thing, but thanks."
He chose to ignore her comment about their other friend, who he tried not to focus on when he was with his pretty blonde neighbor. He didn't like to mix and match his female friends, especially when they presented such a complicated issue for him.
"I'll win you over one of these days," he assured her instead, taking the easy way out.
He had expected her to tell him to shut up again, but instead she stopped, abruptly. She turned to face him and closed the space between them. He could feel the heat in his body rise, he'd never been this close to her before...
Suddenly he was noticing just how long her eyelashes were and how they looked like butterfly wings when she blinks, not to mention those lips. She bit the bottom one, painted a soft pink color, and he practically groaned. He'd never thought of it before, but he would bet she knew exactly what that lip bite did to him, and all red-blooded males, for that matter.
"What would you do, if you did?" she asked, in this way that made the hairs on back of his neck stick up. Her breath smelled like cherries and he was reminded of her habit of stress eating Twizzlers when she was writing on a deadline.
"I, um-," he began, but now her mouth is slightly open, inviting him, and he can't think of a single word, let alone finish the sentence..
She leaned in and just as he was about to meet her in the middle, she let out a peal of laughter. It sounded like bells, and he loves her laugh usually, but now it just might kill him.
"I can't hold it anymore!" she finally burst out, pushing him away from her. She was bent over her knees, laughing, "You should've seen your expression!".
Archie, who was still wasn't sure he knew exactly what had just happened, could only managed an admonishing, "That was not very nice, Cooper."
"Like you were very nice to me?" she asked, raising an eyebrow, "Just because I have the love life of a corpse doesn't mean you get to make fun of me. It's called having your priorities straight."
"I was just teasing!" he objected, pointing an accusatory finger at her, "You were being very mean."
"Oh come on. You're not going to hold that against me, are you?" she asked, having finally regained her composure, "Don't be a big baby."
"I guess not. But that doesn't mean it wasn't mean," he responded, still a bit embarrassed by the whole ordeal.
"You're just mad that I've upped you one again," she says, her hands on her hips, "I'm the best at our little game."
Ah, so that was it. When they were kids the two of them had gone out of their way to push the envelope on their friendship, to try to flirt with one another. It was a game they'd played that messed with their classmates heads and made them both laugh. But they hadn't played in ages, with her briefly dating Jughead until he realized he just wasn't into her like that and the new girl Veronica's obsession with him making the game seem kind of cruel.
"Only because I wasn't playing," he exclaimed.
"Only because you know it's not worth attempting to beat me," she answered, fluttering her eyelashes dramatically.
"Oh, c'mon," he flung an arm over her shoulder and continued the walk to her house, "Let's get you home before you get anymore ideas for teasing me."
"Well, here we are," she said a minute later when they arrived at her door, "Thank you for your neighborliness, and the immense please of your company, Archikins."
Betty took a step up to her house, making them the same height, eye-to-eye. She leaned in to him slyly and kissed him on the cheek; too close to his lips, he noted.
And as she pulled away, still smiling that slick smile, he knew she had noticed too. She'd won another round of their little game.