AN: I'm really not sure if this is a violation or not, but if it is, I really won't put anymore chapters up on this site. I just want to see if my plot idea/writing is any good, and want to get some honest feedback. So if anyone likes it, PM me and I'll be happy to send you the chapters individually. Or if anyone knows of another site where I could post this, let me know as well. Again: I REALLY don't want anyone to get sued over this!
The last day of school is usually highly anticipated by the students and faculty of Riverdale High. The teens are looking forward to three months of lolling by the beach, water sports and summer barbecues in good old Riverdale. Even Veronica doesn't have plans to jet off to any exotic destinations this summer. They charge out as the final bell rings, chattering excitedly about their summer plans.
'Man! I thought the Bee deliberately slowed down all the clocks in school today. Was it just me, or was did it take longer than usual for the bell to ring' Jughead Jones practically drools in anticipation of the thick milkshakes and plate of burgers waiting for him at Pop Tates, earning an amused smile from Betty Cooper and Reggie Mantle, who are walking with him. His best friend, Archie had, as usual, taken off to drive Veronica Lodge home; she needed to change into 'hanging out' clothes before joining them at Pop's. For some reason, the idea of his friend slavishly following the brunette all summer irks Jug slightly. Almost enough for him to lose his appetite. Almost.
"A watched pot never boils, Juggie" Betty smiles at him, ruffling his hair affectionately. Despite his unending appetite, Jughead's always been counted as one of her dearest friends, and almost like a second brother to her. He'd bulked up slightly, over the course of junior year, and had for unfathomable reasons improved his dressing, but to her, she'd always be the same Jughead Jones who had eaten her mud pies the day he moved to Riverdale.
Her affectionate gesture is, for some reason, not appreciated by the third member of their little trio. Reggie Mantle, star athlete (in his own words) frowns slightly watching his friends tease each other. He doesn't know why he's so uncomfortable at the thought of Betty's hand being on old Spindle snoot's head, and this makes him even more uncomfortable. He's used to being smooth, knowing exactly what his next move would be. In the last six months, however, he'd had this… strange feeling around his blonde friend. Had her eyes always been this blue? Had her hair always been this shiny? Since the term started, he'd been noticing troubling things about Betty. How her smile, for instance, was so sweet, genuine and effortless, he could often lose his train of thought just looking at it. How, when she got excited about something she was talking about, she would gesture animatedly with a variety of facial expressions that would make him smile, even when she was talking about global warming or terrorism. The most troubling discovery over the last six months, however, had been how her face would suddenly pop into his head whenever he tried to hit on Midge or any other girl in school. It was like he was losing his mojo, for some reason, because none of these girls measured up to Betty, there wasn't much of a point in asking them out.
Oblivious to her friend's inner turmoil, Betty continues gabbling with Jughead about the summer. "And then Archie PROMISED we would go to ALL the summer festivals together…"
At the mention of the red headed teen, Reggie begins to grind his teeth. And THAT'S why you can't fall for her, Mantle. Even though old Carrot Top's currently juggling FOUR girls BESIDES Betty, she'll still never give anyone else a shot. Even if that someone else can't even seem to be able to FORCE himself to ask anyone else out. Unconsciously, Reggie lets out a sigh, earning a look from Jughead.
Concerned, Betty takes his hand and looks at him, questioning him with her eyes. He'd been looking at her strangely the last few months, and had been strangely quiet around the other girls. Almost in a panic, he looks back at her, snatching his hand from hers, gulping nervously. Nervously? Reggie Mantle didn't do nervous. And red was not his color!
'I-I-I'm sorry Bets… I think I-I need to go home. And lie down. That's it. I-I'm… sick…'
'Suuure you are' Jughead's snort is derisive. He may walk around with his eyes closed all the time, but he isn't blind. He's been observing Reggie's behavior around Betty with some interest for awhile now, and had started a pool with Frankie, Chuck and Moose as to when 'The Great One' would crack. Moose had been highly enthusiastic about the idea of Reggie happily going off with Betty and never bothering his Midge again. Jughead, surprisingly, had found himself starting to respect Reggie as he observed the former womanizer completely ignore other girls and focus on Betty. He gave her more respect and attention in six months than Jughead's thick headed best friend had in years, and almost against his will, Jughead had found himself rooting for him. He thought the world of Betty, and wanted to see her happy, with someone who actually loved her and would take care of her.
"Are you sure you're OK? You're all red." Betty's brow is furrowed with concern. Reggie gulps as he looks into her beautiful blue eyes. NO. HE CANNOT FIND HER CUTE WHEN SHE IS WORRIED ABOUT HIM! HE CANNOT!
'I- think I'd better go lie down. Must be the temperature. It's suddenly very warm in here' tugging at his already unbuttoned shirt collar, Reggie gulps. He's not used to being nervous. And he's not used to thinking troubling thoughts about a girl who was obviously out of his league.
'I think you should go home too, Reg. You do look sick' Jughead smirks.
'I do NOT! I look fine, Spindle Snoot' Reggie snarls in response.
"Reggie… you just said you were sick and needed to lie down" Betty is really worried now. Was short term memory loss a sign of heatstroke? He did look flushed.
'I think you're a very sick man Reg… and I DON'T think you should go home alone. Bets, could you walk him, in case he passes out in the street?' Jughead winks at a very very surprised Reggie, before turning off and heading in the direction of the Chocklit Shoppe.
"Reggie… Reg.. are you really OK? Do you need to sit down?" Betty loops a protective arm around him as he pales in recognition of two facts: a) Jughead Jones just did him a favor and b) Jughead KNOWS. Reggie doesn't know which shocks him more – he does know he's enjoying having Betty look after him, maybe a little too much. He also knows he needs to regain his cool, pronto.
'I-I'm fine Bets, maybe a little lightheaded. Then again, who wouldn't be in the presence of such a vision of loveliness as yourself,' theatrically, Reggie drops to one knee. When all else fails, goof around, was his motto. Giggling, Betty pulls him to his feet and they walk in the direction of his house, with Betty holding on to his arm protectively. They joke about school and their classmates and have just settled into a comfortable lull in their conversation when Betty suddenly speaks, in a slightly serious tone.
"Reg.. can I ask you something?"
'Yeah…' Reggie is slightly dubious. No good has ever, in his experience, come out of a girl asking him something with that serious look on her face.
"You've been acting weird since school started… you've stopped hitting on Midge, on all the girls really. Is there something bothering you?"
'Yes…' Reggie looks into her blue eyes seriously, feeling his heart start to thump wildly.
"What's wrong?" Betty lays a gentle hand on his shoulder as she smiles encouragingly at him. She'd been spending a lot of time with Reggie this term; for some reason, whenever Archie dumped her, he'd miraculously show up at her house, with a ready smile and flowers. They'd gone skating, on picnics, even to the theatre and the Riverdale petting zoo. She was starting to get to know him better, and had started to care about him deeply. She wanted to know if there was anything wrong. If she could help.
'I'm… gay…' trying hard to keep a straight face, Reggie howls with laughter as he catches the look of shock on Betty's face. He tries to look contrite as she whacks him on the shoulder, trying not to laugh herself as she looks at him.
'Not.. hahahah… that there's anything wrong with being gay… hahahhahaha but the look on your face! It was CLASSIC, Bets' Reggie has to grab her shoulder as he doubles over with laughter.
"It would explain SO much.. are you sure?" Betty's eyes twinkle as she suppresses a small smile.
'Do you need me to prove it to you?' Feeling some of his old cockiness, Reggie grabs Betty's hand and spins her towards him, trying to ignore his accelerating heartbeat. He brings his face closer and closer to hers, gulping slightly as he pauses just before their lips touch.