At Last

DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story are the property of Archie Comics. They are being used here for fun, not profit.

Betty and I used to sleep together all of the the most literal sense of the word, not what you're thinking. It started way back in the summer before our junior year. Betty's mother had started the nightshift down at Riverdale General, something that both Betty and her mom were very grateful for, but about a month after Mrs. Cooper started, a thunderstorm hit Riverdale. I woke to a tapping on my window. When I let Betty in, she was soaking wet and shaking. She gave a muffled cross between a choke and a sob as she changed into a pair of my boxers and a t-shirt.

"I, um, couldn't sleep." Her cheeks grew pink, as I threw a towel over her head. I knew that she didn't like storms. I wasn't too surprised that she had come to my window. Back before her father left, she used to come over a lot after bed-time. Her house is directly behind mine, and she just had to go somewhere. Betty was always the sweetheart of the group and when her parents argued, it would kill her. She would come to me after she had been tucked in, once the harsh whispers had turned into loud yelling, and she would talk. I would listen. She was the listener of our little group of friends, but on those nights, it was my job. It was during that time that I'd fallen in love with her, but it was the classic adolescent dilemma, she was my best friend's girl. So I listened and I held her, and in the daytime I stood back.

"Can I sleep over here tonight?" she said, waking me from my memories. She hadn't made one of those nighttime trips to my house since our last year of junior high. Her question threw me off a little, because in the past she'd only stay a few hours before sneaking back to her own room.

"Yeah, sure, Bets." I said, grabbing my sleeping bag out of the closet and unrolling it beside the bed.

"Jug!" she said, when I sprawled out on the floor, "I didn't come to kick you out of your bed. I'll sleep on the floor."

"No way, Bets, I may be a woman hater, but Ma Jones did teach me manners." Betty reluctantly climbed into the bed, while I made myself comfortable on the floor. I stared at her after she turned the lamp off thinking to myself how incredibly hot she looked in my clothes and in my bed. Two fantasies realized in one night, how cool. I had many others, but those two would keep me going for a good long while. I billed myself as a woman hater in those days, mostly to fend off Ethel. There really wasn't anything wrong with her, but my heart was taken, what could I do? My best pal was the ladies' man, and I was the goof. It was a role I was happy to play. No one else ever made me feel the way that Betty did, so I just didn't bother with anyone else.

I used to get so mad at Arch, and it got worse in high school. He was so horrible to Betty that it made me want to deck him sometimes. I know he loved Ronnie, but he had that soft spot for Betty, and she was so over the moon for him that it wasn't funny. The whole thing resulted in Bets getting used like a dishrag and tossed aside whenever Ron took to one of her whims. My heart would break every time that it happened. I would comfort Betty and tell her there were others out there, but she never gave up on Arch. She was in love. What could I do? I know exactly how she felt. I would go over to Archie's and try to talk some sense into him, but he couldn't hear anything. I would get so pissed off, trying to get him to see that Ron just used him, but that Betty really loved him. He would agree, but it did absolutely no good. Do you know how fucking hard it is to try and get your best friend to stay true to the girl that you love? But I did it...every single time.

I woke up to a loud crash of thunder to find Betty huddled on the floor next to me.

"Juggy. Do you think...oh, jeez, I'm so pathetic. This storm is bothering me, could you stay up there, with me?" Her lips tickled as she whispered into my ear, and she placed her hand on my arm as she spoke Her touch and her words flew straight to my groin. I jumped up and backed away as quickly as possible, while still keeping a calm facade.

"Yeah, sure. But I'm parched. I'm going to go get some milk...want some?"
She assured me that she was fine as I slid out the door. Once outside I leaned against the wall, my forehead pressed against the cool, smooth surface. "Control yourself!" my mind screamed. I came back with the milk and a tray full of snacks. Food was my second substitution for Betty. Of course it was left untouched once I got back to my room.

After the milk was finished. I made a quick trip to the bathroom, not only to relieve myself, but also as a last ditch effort to keep myself in check. When I came back into the room, the lights were off, and I climbed stiffly into the bed. I mentally thanked Uncle Harry for giving me his old double bed a few months before. If I'd still had my old twin bed, the night would have been uncomfortable indeed.

We kept a tasteful distance for quite a while, but another thunder clap soon found Betty burrowing her face into my armpit. I sighed, and put my arm around her. I spent the remainder of the night smelling the sweet apple scent of her hair and trying to keep my mind off her. "She your best friend's girl. She loves Arch, not you!" became my mantra while I kept envisioning Grundy in a bikini or the Bee in a speedo to keep my mind, and other parts of my body, from wandering. How much can a 16 year old guy take, really?

I survived that first night. The other nights were easier, and there were many other nights. It started with storms, moved on to the odd noise in the middle of the night or the occasional row with Ronnie or Arch, but by the end of our senior year, I think it was just habit. She would show up at one and leave at five, three or four nights a week. If my parents knew, they never mentioned it.

I stayed up late the night of our final summer in Riverdale. I would be on a plane to DC the following morning, on my way to Georgetown on a track and swimming scholarship. Betty would be leaving a few days after to go to a small university in Michigan, where her grandparents lived. The gang had a final party at Pop's, and I hadn't even made it home until 2. At 2:30 she appeared outside my window in her white satin pajamas like the angel I always knew she was. She helped me pack under a veil of conversation. When everything was packed and put away, we went to bed, me staring up at the ceiling and her clinging to my arm, what had come to be our typical sleeping position. We didn't sleep that night. I might have dozed a couple of times during the comfortable silences, but mostly we talked of plans for the future and of our happy little group growing apart.

When 5 o'clock rolled around, we stood in front of the window. She wound her arms around me, and we stood in a silent hug as the minutes ticked by. I rested my chin on the top of her head and sighed, taking in her apple-cinnamon scent for the last time. Well-practiced words died on my lips. No matter how much I tried, I could not bring myself to tell her how I felt. I told myself to let her go. Let her start her new life and hopefully get over Archie, who was still stringing her along to the very end. I hoped that she would find a nice guy who appreciated her, get married, and have the children that she always talked about. Let her be happy, I thought, as I felt her hands unclasp from behind my neck and move up through my hair. She stood on her tip toes and, before I knew it, our lips touched in a sweet, chaste kiss. Time stopped for me, but even then it was still over too soon. A small, short kiss, but one that would live in my mind forever as the most sensual, the most erotic, beautiful thing ever to be brought into existence. A year later, during my first sticky, fumbling encounter with Linda from Latin, my mind would be brought back to that kiss as I came, biting my tongue so that I would not call her name.

Betty looked up at me after the kiss was broken, cupping my cheek in her hand.

"Thanks, Jug, for keeping me sane all these years," she whispered as she slipped out of the window and on to the branch of the large oak that connected our yards.

"Thank you," I whispered, pressing my forehead to the window pane as she disappeared, "for driving me crazy all these years."

To be concluded