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Chapter 4: So Many Butterflies

Summary:

Reggie sees something from over the hedge that he can’t believe.
Chapter Text

Miss Grundy checked her watch again and sighed, frustrated. She made a brief note on her clipboard and scanned the gym. Her other seven squad members looked bored and were resorting to their smartphones and makeup kits for distractions, their pom-poms heaped beside them in splashes of blue and gaudy yellow.

She opened her mouth to call her squad to order, but the heavy swish of the gym door stopped her. Veronica strolled inside without a care in the world, smart phone plastered to her ear. “Can we start now, Lodge?” Miss Grundy called out hopefully.

“In a minute,” Veronica assured her, missing her cheering coach’s attempt at sarcasm.

“No phones in my practice,” Miss Grundy reminded her sharply. The girls huddled around the floor quickly switched theirs off and stowed them away. Veronica grinned and nodded emphatically, holding up her finger to put her off.

“Uh-huh. Yup. Got it. I’ve gotta go. Practice. Cheering practice.”

“Ah, she remembers why we’re here. I’m so flattered.” Geraldine reached into her pocket for a Tylenol melty tab and popped it out of the tiny foil blister, tossing it into her mouth. That Veronica was the culprit every time. Every time.

“Ron,” Betty hissed. “C’mon!” She waved her over furiously. Miss Grundy gave her a stony look. Betty hopped to her feet and ran for her bestie and looped her arm through hers, snatching away the phone.

“HEY!”

“Bye,” Betty told the one on the other end of the call, quickly thumbing the red “End” screen, yanking Veronica along.

“I wasn’t done!” Veronica yelped.

“Miss Grundy,” Betty sang under her breath. Veronica fumed, staring at her like she’d just passed gas.

“Can we start?” Veronica shrugged and turned to Betty, cavalierly snatching her phone back and stuffing it into her large Coach bag.

“I dunno,” she offered. “I’m ready.” Miss Grundy made a small noise of disgust.

“Good. Take two laps. No. Four. Take four.”

“Huh???” Veronica’s mouth dropped open just as she dropped her pompoms and bag beside Betty where she sat on the floor.

“Take a run. You’ve kept us waiting fifteen minutes. The other girls have been here, ready to cheer and practice, and you stroll in without a care in the world, not caring how many people you’re letting down. That’s poor school spirit, Veronica, and not how I run my cheering squad.” Betty’s cheeks burned with embarrassment for her friend. Veronica pouted.

“That’s not fair! I was just finishing a call, and it was important!” Betty inwardly sighed.

Darn right it was important. She saw “Archie” on the small touch screen before she ended her best friend’s call so abruptly, hearing the popular redhead’s familiar tenor calling out Ron’s name in confusion and protest. Betty didn’t feel too guilty about interrupting their mushy-gooshy chat, after a fashion, but she hated to see her get in trouble.

Envy still stung her with its tiny needles. Why couldn’t Archie call her?

Veronica snarled and kicked her pompoms across the floor, but she obeyed Grundy, starting her first lap around the basketball court. Miss Grundy sighed and passed out the cheer sheets.

“We respect each other on this squad. There’s no place on it for drama or to put yourself ahead of your teammates, is that understood?” She was greeted by low yeses and nods. Betty heard a low buzzing coming from Veronica’s bag. Gingerly she lifted up the strap to peer inside. She saw the glow of the touch screen, lit up with a text message.

“Where did u go?”

Of course it was Archie. Betty sighed and dropped the strap.

She knew Archie had to be stealing time away from his own practice if he was messing with Ron. He’d made the JV team as a sophomore, and as quarterback, no less. That made him an even bigger prize in Veronica’s eyes. Betty was merely thrilled for him that he even got to play. Cheering tryouts had been brutal; she mentally thanked her mother for paying for so many years of gymnastic classes for her. She’d screamed out loud when she saw her name on the list on the bulletin board two weeks ago, right under Veronica’s. Everything had been a constant blur since then of fundraising to pay for uniforms, car washes, baking cupcakes… Betty was exhausted, but it was so worth it.

Workouts found her staggering into her house under the weight of her loaded backpack, pompoms dragging, aching in muscles she didn’t know she had. Just as exhausting as practice, though, was spending that much time with her bestie. Veronica had Betty on speed dial, something that should have honored her, but it was a time-consuming commitment, and Veronica was needy. Betty was her wardrobe consultant, shopping companion, on-the-spot pedicurist, walking, breathing diary, and chick-flick companion. Greater than those burdens was the changing dynamic of their friendship, namely the newest element of rivalry.

They both liked the same boy.

It complicated things. Most girls were thrilled to tell their best friend all the details of their crush: how they caught them staring; notes passed during math; brief moments of bumping into them accidentally, or even intentionally; leaning against lockers and chatting about nothing until the bell rang; exchanging numbers and continuing the same chatty drivel from the privacy of the bedroom, music turned on to mask it if the conversation drifted through the door. Betty walked that fine line every time Veronica said Archie’s name. Her cheeks burned every time, and she felt a hot rash of prickles run down her back, wanting so badly to shush her. Veronica’s dark blue eyes grew dreamy every time she mentioned him, and Betty recognized that look from her own mirror. It frustrated her.

The redhead did that just fine, too, if she had to be honest. Betty always felt a tongue-tied rush of awkwardness every time he turned to find her staring, and once he acknowledged her, her mouth ran on autopilot. Take that morning, for instance, at the water fountain.

She’d bent down for a long, thirsty drink before third period gym class. She felt someone sidle up to her, seeing a shadow from the corner of her eye.

“You gonna be long?”

“Huh? MMMPHH! GACK!” Betty sputtered as she ended up squirting herself in the nose. She jerked upright and flew backward, accidentally bumping into Archie, who was trying not to laugh.
“She doesn’t always drink water, but when Betty Cooper does, it’s with her nose,” Archie teased, mimicking the Dos Equis commercial.

“Shut up,” she snickered, hating the cold sting in her nostrils, wiping her face on her sleeve. “Help yourself,” she offered, waving him to it.

“Sure? You’re all done?”

“Knock yourself out.” Archie shook his head and bent down for a drink. Betty silently eyed him, admiring the view from behind. Okay. It wasn’t a wasted moment, after all. He straightened up and licked his lips; her eyes tracked the gesture, glued to them.

“What’ve you got next?”

“Huh? Oh. Me? Uh… gym. I’ve got gym. Pretty much.”

“I hate having it early. Gotta go to class all sweaty for the rest of the day.”

“Heh. Yeah.” Betty wasn’t looking forward to that, now that he’d mentioned it, but what could she do? “What do you have next?”

“Spanish,” he shrugged. “It’s not my favorite.”

“Why not? It’s fun!”

“Eh. I suck at it. I hate conjugating verbs.”

“It’s easy,” she insisted.

“Maybe for you, Big Brain. You sound like Dilton.” She mock-frowned at him and pretended to swat him; he danced back out of reach, grinning.

“Thanks a lot!”

“It’s not an insult. I didn’t say you looked like Dilton.” His blue eyes crinkled. Betty hugged her books to her chest, enjoying the attention. “You definitely don’t.”

“Um, yeah. Thanks, Arch. You’re a pal.”

“Always there for a friend.” Betty flinched, then sighed.

“I could help you with your Sp-“ Her offer was cut short when Veronica rounded the corner and practically shoulder-checked her out of the way.

“Archiekins!” Her fingers curled in his rugby shirt collar and pulled him in for a possessive, blatant kiss; Betty heard his exhale of surprise and low whimper of approval, and she backed up, flushing furiously. Wow.

That sucked.

Veronica let him up for air. “I waited for you,” she pouted. “You said you’d meet me in the courtyard.”

“I was late. My car’s radiator overheated.”

“Why don’t your parents just get you a new one?” Veronica wrinkled her nose in distaste. “That thing’s a heap.”

“At least he has a heap,” Betty chimed in. Archie smirked for her benefit, but Veronica ignored her.

“Guess I’m just gonna have to haul him around,” Veronica shrugged. “Call me,” she told him pertly, giving him a brief peck. He pulled her back for two more, and Betty longed to gag. They held hands in that funny little couply way, with her index finger curled around his pinkie. That was Betty’s cue to leave.

“See ya.” She darted off, cutting off Veronica’s attempt to chat.

“Wait up, Betty!”

“I’m late!” The bell rang, to her relief, so she wasn’t a liar.

Yeah. That was her day. In a nutshell.

All things considered, Betty couldn’t feel too badly for her best friend having to run laps. She hadn’t been the loser that day.

*

Betty rode home on her skateboard, blonde ponytail whipping out from beneath her helmet. She enjoyed the last of the autumn sunshine, and the warm air felt good rushing over her bare legs. Betty loved the grind of the wheels against the blacktop. Even though she had her license, her parents didn’t have it in their budget to get her a car yet. There were worse things, she mused; Veronica “hauled her around,” too, from time to time in her green Jeep Cherokee. Veronica was upset that the Benz she’d begged for wasn’t waiting for her in the driveway draped in a big pink bow on her sixteenth birthday, but Hiram reasoned with her that he wouldn’t have her driving a fifty-thousand dollar car and parking it in a public school lot every day. It was too great a temptation, and his insurance premiums were high enough.

She kick-pushed her way down her block, feeling the burn in her calves. She was lost in her own thoughts until a car horn blared behind her, nearly startling her off the curb.

“Shit!” she hissed. She pulled up short and skidded, stepping down to the pavement. She caught Reggie’s grin over the edge of his door. He had the top down and acid metal pumped from his speakers. “Seriously?” she demanded. “Don’t do that!”

“What? You didn’t hear me coming?” He nodded to her. “Get in. I’ll give you a lift.”

“I’m only six houses down,” she pointed out dryly.

“Seven. Don’t forget the Millers. Hop in, already.” Betty rolled her eyes and rounded the car, startling slightly as he revved the engine, teasing her.

“Jerk.”

“You’re welcome.” Betty climbed in and reflexively ran her hand over the leather seat.

“Must be nice,” she murmured.

“Not bad, huh?” He nodded to her skateboard, smirking at the Hello Kitty stickers on the bottom of the deck. “Styling, there.”

“I thought so,” she sniffed. He guided them smoothly down the block and pulled up in front of her house.

“Milady.”

“You’re too kind, sir.” She got out and curtsied, gently closing his door.

“Could have given you a ride home if you’d asked in the first place, y’know. I live right next door. Had practice right outside where you were. I know it’s a shot in the dark, Bets, but that’s called ‘a convenient opportunity.’”

“Didn’t want to take any liberties, buddy.” Betty unfastened the strap on her helmet and dangled it from her fingertips. “Gotta save those convenient opportunities for the ones who might need them. Like Cricket. Or Maria. Or Dolores. Or Ginger…”

“Okay, okay, wait a minute…” He looked taken aback, and Reggie turned down his stereo. “Slow down a second there, Betty. You sound like the fun police. Are you telling me I run around?”

“Yes,” she said automatically. “You know that, right?”

“Well… yeah. I knew that. I just wanted to make sure that’s what I was hearing. Just surprised to hear that from you.”

“Why? It’s obvious. Why would it sound any different coming from me?”

“Because you don’t run around,” he accused. “You’re the poster girl for ‘safe.’” Betty wanted to hit him.

“I think we just figured out why I didn’t put you out of your way before by asking you for a ride home.” He smirked again, a wicked little curl of the corner of his mouth.

His mouth. His top lip was beautifully notched, thin and sharp; the lower one was slightly plump, almost begging to be tasted…

She inwardly slapped herself. Her mind didn’t just take her there. He nodded at her outfit.

“Isn’t that skirt a little short for riding a skateboard?”

“No, and be quiet, you’ll hurt its feelings,” she sniffed. “Beast,” she pronounced, and she turned up her front walk, fishing in her purse for her housekey. Reggie enjoyed the view and decided to ruin her perfect exit.

“Nice red panties, by the way, Cooper.”

“They’re not red, they’re pink! Wait… what?”

“Gotcha,” Reggie informed her, making a little shooting motion with his finger and blowing off imaginary smoke. “Later, Cooper.” He chortled as he drove off, enjoying her look of annoyance and confusion in his rearview mirror.

It was so much fun to get a rise out of her.

*

Archie fiddled with a few chords on his Gibson, plucking the strings with a shiny green pick. He reclined back on his bed with the guitar saddled across his lap, pillowed tucked behind him comfortably and a plate of Oreos sitting on his side table. A few crumbs floated in his half-finished milk. His muscles still hurt from football practice, and he had his guitar lesson in half an hour. He stared guiltily at his school books; he’d end up pulling an all-nighter for sure.

Still, it was shaping up to be a great year. Archie glanced at his photo of Veronica, staring back at him from a bronze frame. Her smile was casual but radiant; the shot was a black-and-white taken outdoors at the beach for her portfolio. Here’s looking at you. XOXOXOXO – Ron. The words were scribbled in her feminine script, using one of those weird little silver ink pens that his mom liked for scrapbooking. She’d given him one of herself fully dressed, something he’d had mixed feelings about asking her for, but he knew his mother would interrogate him if Veronica gave him a bikini shot.

He had a girlfriend, wealthy, high-maintenance, occasionally dramatic, and mind-numbingly beautiful. It was exhilarating, yet… exhausting. Archie’s free time was at a premium. His phone was full of texts from Jughead complaining that they never hung out anymore, but it couldn’t be helped. Not that Jug was much help, though, in helping him sort out his myriad feelings about Veronica.

Or worse, the burgeoning feelings he felt for Betty Cooper.

It wasn’t intentional. They’d been friends forever, since kindergarten. Betty lived on the periphery of his earliest memories as the “good girl.” Just one of the guys. The tomboy and the teacher’s pet. Betty was transparent and easygoing. Where he hung on Veronica’s every word, Betty listened to him. It was just… nice. Betty was nice.

She smelled fresh, like Head and Shoulders and Lady Speed Stick. She wore a bare minimum of makeup, because she didn’t really need it. She was a great dancer, out in the center of the gym with her friends for every fast song and a patient good sport on the sidelines through the slow ones, casually sipping a soda and fiddling with her phone. She was a girl’s girl, never the leader of the pack, and never one to flake on her friends. Betty was popular without being a bitch. Archie sighed… one small strike against Veronica.

Archie scanned the other distractions in his room. His eyes landed on the slim yearbook from Riverdale Junior. He picked it up and automatically cracked it open to the eighth grade class, one third of the way through, skimming through the C’s.

Betty’s pert smile blinked up at him. Archie returned it with one of his own.

How could he not be torn?

*

The opportunity for a more solid decision, in Archie’s mind, at least, came sooner than he expected.

Betty hurried out of homeroom at final bell, all set to rush to practice. She retrieved her pompoms from her locker and checked her reflection briefly in the little magnetic mirror inside. “Ugh,” she muttered as she straightened her bangs. She was just digging into her purse for some lip gloss when her phone vibrated up at her. “Ronnie” blinked up at her from the touch screen. “Uh-oh,” she mused. “That can’t be good.”

“I feel like hell,” Veronica announced miserably as she slid the bar to answer the call. “Tell Miss Grundy I went home. It can’t be helped. Must’ve been something I ate.”

“It was goulash day,” Betty pointed out. She’d wisely settled for her tuna sandwich she’d packed and a vitamin water.

“I never wanted to know what the inside of my stomach looks like. I still don’t wanna know.”

“Ooh. Wow. Sorry, V. I’ll tell Miss Grundy you’re gonna sit this one out.”

“I don’t wanna get cut.”

“If you’re sick, you’re sick. I’ve got your back.”

“You’re the best. Love you, BFF.”

“Love you, too. Go to bed. Did you get all of your assignments?”

“I don’t know if I’ll even make it tomorrow,” Veronica moaned.

“It’s okay. I’ll check in with you tonight, okay?”

“Gonna be sick…” Betty could almost hear her friend’s stomach gurgle, and she winced.

“Ooh. Yikes. Bye.”

“Bye!” The “End” screen flashed up at her, and Betty stowed her phone. They weren’t going to practice pyramids today, then. Betty made a couple of stops on her way to the gym. She caught up with Professor Flutesnoot and Miss Haggly to gather up Veronica’s assignments and jot them down. She didn’t have Ron’s locker combination, and Betty hoped that she already took all of her textbooks home.

Miss Grundy stared at her expectantly when she showed up in the gym. “Where’s your partner in crime?”

“Sick as a dog,” she explained. “She’s definitely under the weather.” She turned to Ethel, who silently mouthed “Cramps?” Betty shook her head and made finger-down-the-throat motions and held her stomach for emphasis. Ethel nodded in understanding and sympathy.

“Okay. We’ll cut her some slack. Ladies, go ahead and line up!” Grundy clapped her hands and blew her whistle. The next hour and a half was a blur of mat work and tumbling and shouting until Betty was hoarse.

She made use of the leaky shower and refreshed her deodorant, slicking her damp hair into a ponytail. She glanced in the mirror and pronounced herself just decent enough for a trip to Pop’s for a root beer. Ethel offered her a ride, but she declined.

“Nah. I’ve been riding my board these past few days. I like a little wind in my hair while it’s still nice enough out.”

“Sounds fun. Next time I’ll bring my blades,” Ethel decided easily. “Heading home?”

“No. Pop’s first, then Ron’s, then home.”

“Don’t catch what she has.” Ethel wrinkled her nose.

“I think it was just something she ate.”

“Bet it was the goulash. Beazley needs a new recipe book.”

“I might bring her some ginger ale.”

“Good idea. Ron’s lucky she has you.” Ethel almost wanted to say “too lucky,” since the friendship between Ron and Betty, both her friends since childhood, often seemed a little unbalanced. She liked Betty too much to voice that opinion.

“I’d want someone to do the same for me. Catch you later, E.”

“Later, Bets.”

Betty hopped on her board and cruised out of the lot, earbuds plugged in and her little iPod Nano pumping N.E.R.D. and Pharell into her consciousness. The roll of the ball bearings in her wheels created a counter rhythm to her tunes as she skated through patches of dappled shadows over the pavement. The angle of the sun began to change, making her wish the day didn’t have to end just yet. Her backpack felt heavy, reminding her she had two quizzes to study for and a three-page book report to write.

History repeated itself when she heard a car horn blare in her direction. “Shoot!” she yelped as she nearly tripped off her board. It was like the universe had it in for her this week…

“BETS!” Archie cupped his hand around his mouth and called out his passenger window as he pulled alongside her. “Where you headed?”

“Pops for a bit, then Ronnie’s. Are you going to see her?”

“She told me not to,” Archie admitted. “Said she felt lousy.” Betty tried not to look surprised. “Don’t want to go where I’m not wanted.”

“It’s only temporary,” Betty assured him quickly. “I’m only going to drop off her homework.”

“You’re going to Pop’s first?” Archie brightened with interest. “Hop in.”

“Oh. You’re sure?”

“Hurry up before that light changes,” Archie admonished. Betty stepped off her board and hustled into the car before the light turned green, closing the door with more force than she intended as he pulled away from the curb.

“Sorry.” Archie accelerated slightly, and the car made a strange cranking sound when he changed gears. “That sounds ominous.”

“Ol’ Betsy needs a tune-up.”

“Old Betsy?” Betty laughed in delight. “Classic! Nice.”

“She is a classic,” Archie bragged, patting the dashboard. “Don’t hurt her feelings.”

“I wouldn’t dare. She’s yours, right?”

“Exactly. For better or worse.” The car was a little beater, but to Archie’s credit, it was an old sixty-nine Mustang. Its tomato red paint was slightly patchy, and the upholstery was threadbare, but it was still a comfortable ride. Slightly stuffy, though, Betty noticed. “You might want to roll down the window. The radiator overheats, so I have to drive with the heat turned on.”

“All the time?”

“Yup.”

“Wow.”

“At least it runs.” He nodded to her helmet and board. “Nice Hello Kitty.”

“I think so.”

“It’s… sporty,” he pronounced. She stuck her tongue out at him. “I’m not hating!”

“Sure you aren’t!”

They rode along a while before Betty noticed they were headed the wrong way. “I’m headed to Pop’s.”

“I know. Let’s hit Ron’s first, and you can give Ronnie her homework.”

“I don’t want to get you in trouble if she already said not to come.”

“It’s not like I’m going inside,” Archie reasoned, shrugging. “You are. I’m just your ride.” Betty was relieved. She knew Veronica wouldn’t want Archie walking in on her when she was indisposed, sick and pasty.

“We’ll make it brief.”

Archie pulled into the large circular driveway, and Betty hopped out quickly, bringing along the little notepad with her homework written on it. Smithers let her in before she even rang the doorbell.

“Miss Lodge said no visitors, Miss Cooper. My apologies.” The older butler looked contrite. Betty smiled and handed him the notepad.

“This has her homework on it. I just wanted to make sure she has what she needs if she’s fine by tomorrow.”

“You’re a lovely friend, Miss Cooper. She’s fortunate to have you.”

“Tell her I said to get well soon,” Betty told him as she hurried away. “Bye, Smithers!”

“Good evening, Miss Cooper.” Smithers returned her wave, then shuddered in distaste as he eyed Archie’s horrid little jalopy. He ignored the redhead’s grin and brief wave.

“Heya, Smithers!” Smithers shook his head and closed the door on them, content to go about his duties, namely bringing his employer’s daughter some clear soda and saltines. Archie ground his gears again and off they went. Betty fought the futile battle with her hair as it kept whipping around her face and into her eyes. It was still fun, though, somehow, riding in a car with a boy.

She just wished he was hers.

They chatted easily on the way to the Choklit’ Shoppe, and Betty felt flushed being in the confined space, conscious of every time his hand reached for the gearshift, once even briefly grazing her knee. She shivered, and butterflies took wing in her belly. She knew it wasn’t intentional, but it felt… yummy. They parked out front, and Betty fed the meter. “You didn’t have to do that,” Archie chided her.

“It’s the least I can do.” They headed inside, and Archie held the door, and she shivered again when she felt his hand brush the small of her back.

“Counter?” she suggested.

“Booth.”

“There’s my favorite girl,” Pops called out. “What’re you doing hanging out with this bum, Elizabeth? He’s nothing but trouble!” Betty giggled.

“I’ll vouch for him, Pop.”

“The usual, kiddo?” He leaned over and swabbed the table with a damp dishcloth, shining it up as he handed them each a menu.

“Just a regular root beer this time.”

“What’s ‘the usual?’” Archie inquired.

“A float, but-“

“Make it two,” Archie told Pop. “With a basket of fries.”

“I wasn’t planning on much,” Betty insisted, especially since she wasn’t sure if Archie was planning to pay. That hadn’t been her intention, and it would be rude to impose.

“So, it’s a change in plan,” he shrugged. Pops nodded and took their order on his little scratch pad.

“Sounds like a plan. Out with it in a minute, kids.”

“Thanks,” Betty called after him brightly. She flushed under Archie’s gaze.

“How was practice?” he asked her.

“Oh. Hm. Fine.” She rolled her eyes. “Brutal, actually.” He snickered.

“Me, too.”

“How are you liking it, though?”

“Pretty stoked. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. But every night when I come home, I’m just… dead.” She giggled at the way he tipped his head back and let his tongue loll out of his mouth like a corpse.

“Tell me about it. I’m just excited. I love cheering. I’m so stoked that Ronnie and I both made it on the squad this year.”

“Laverne and Shirley,” he teased.

“What?”

“That old show. My mom used to watch it. You guys are like those two,” he said thoughtfully. “You’re definitely Laverne.”

“Isn’t she the goofy one?”

“They’re both goofy.”

“Wow. Thanks.” She tossed a straw at him. He threw it back, and his eyes crinkled again. Hers flitted away for a moment, and when she looked back up at him, his smirk widened into a grin. He needed to stop doing that. Betty wondered if a person really could die from embarrassment, or blush themselves to death.

“You’ve got more freckles.”

“Ugh. Don’t tell me that. I get more every summer.”

“What’s wrong with that? They’re cute.”

“Pffft… I dunno. On you, maybe. I never liked mine much.”

“You should.”

“Duly noted, Archie.”

“So. Is that offer still on the table to help me with my Spanish?”

“I guess it never really left the table.”

“Can I borrow your notes?” Betty gave him a look of mock disgust.

“Might help if you actually took some in class, Arch.”

“I was tired from practice yesterday. Had to catch up on my beauty sleep.” She shook her head. “Not really. I know yours are better than mine, though.”

“I’ll make you a copy.”

“You rock. You rock out loud.” They were interrupted by two foaming root beer floats and a steaming basket of fries arriving on the table between them. Pops set down two long-handed spoons and a bottle of ketchup.

“You kids need anything else?”

“Nope. This looks great, Pops,” Betty beamed.

“Sure does, Pop.”

“You’re both welcome,” he nodded fondly. “Dig in.”

Their conversation slowed as they ate. Betty savored the float, lapping up a runnel of ice cream foam that ran down the side of the glass. Archie’s eyes tracked the movement of her lips and flick of her pink tongue. His loins heated up and his jeans felt tight. “What?” she pressed. “Do I have something on my face?”

My mouth, in a minute. “No. You’re fine.”
“Sure?” His lips twitched.

“Wait… I missed it before. There. Look, I’ll get it…” He reached out, and before she could stop him, he reached down and grabbed one of her fries that she’s already dipped in ketchup and dashed it against the tip of her nose. “Wait, I missed it!”

“You goof!” she yelped, and she giggled, swatting his hand away. She cleaned away the smear with her napkin.

“There’s still some there, I’ll get it!”

“I don’t trust you!”

“You wouldn’t trust this face?” He gave her a brotherly smile, right before dipping his finger into the creamy foam of her soda and painting that across her nose, too.

It was all-out war. By the time Archie paid the tab, Betty’s skin was sticky with root beer, and Archie had salt in his hair. Pops shook his head at them as they left, and Betty was secretly relieved he hadn’t thrown them out.

*

Archie pulled into Betty’s driveway just as the sun began to set, and she regretted that time had flown by so fast.

“Thanks for the soda and the ride.” She reached for the door handle, struggling with it slightly.

“It sticks. Wait a minute, I’ll help you,” he said. Archie let himself out and rounded the front of the old Mustang, jerking open her door with slight effort, but he welcomed her out with a flourish. “Milady.”

“Kind sir,” she teased, earning her a crinkly smile again. He had dimples, she noticed, and his summer tan was slightly mottled, typical of someone who naturally freckled. She reached for her board, but he took that and her backpack for her. She dangled her helmet by the straps as he walked her to her door. Betty fished in her purse for her keys. “My mom’s not back yet, so I have to start dinner. Thanks again, Archie-“ She went to take the backpack from him, but instead of handing it to her, he set it down on the porch along with her skateboard. “I can… take… that…” Her voice drifted off, and her heart did a little flip as his hands slipped around her narrow waist and pulled her gently against him. “Archie,” she murmured, but that was all she managed before his mouth brushed over hers, teasing it with a kiss that made her forget her own name.

Betty’s heart pounded and her senses went into overload, filling with his scent and heat, craving the slowly tightening grip of his hands. She whimpered as his lips coaxed her to respond, and they instinctively caressed him back, pleading for more. Her fingers crept up to his nape, combing through the soft red locks.

Alarms went off in her head. This was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. This was Archie.

This was Archie.

Her best friend’s boyfriend.

She came up for air, and her breath shuddered out with a string of babbled excuses. “Wow. Oh, wow. I’d… better go. You’d… you’d better go, too. Thanks again.” Betty reached for her things, unable to take her eyes off of him, and she felt her cheeks go up in flames. “Gotta study. Gotta make dinner.”

“Bets-“

“I’ll see you tomorrow. Yup! Tomorrow!” She stumbled backward in through the door. “G’night!”

“Bets!” She closed the door on him, locking out the sight of his confusion, and, she noticed, the slight glaze of misplaced desire. She locked the door and walked away from it, heart pounding as she headed for the kitchen. She paced and fretted.

What did she just do?

Caramel came out of hiding and meowed insistently. Betty yelped in surprise. “GAH! Shoot! Don’t… DO that!” Caramel leapt back, flicking her tail in surprise. “Sorry, girl.” She heard Archie’s car pull out of driveway, grindy sounding gears and all, and she sighed in relief. “Kitty, I’m in SO much trouble.” The ginger tabby merely purred for her dinner, winding herself around her legs.

*

Reggie held his breath and backed himself flat against the wall as he eavesdropped on his neighbor and football rival’s chat. “What the heck’s Carrot-Top doing here?” he muttered. He was bound to wake the whole neighborhood, driving Betty up to her house in that piece of rusted crap.

Reggie watched them from just over the hedge that separated their properties. Betty was grinning at Archie like she was twelve, something that both amused and annoyed Reggie. He saw him let Betty out of his car, being a perfect gentleman, but there was something cheesy about the gesture, somehow…

It was the right thing to do for a girl, but it was expected to do that for your girlfriend. They were standing pretty close… perhaps too close.

Betty was blushing. Reggie knew that blush, something she’d fine-tuned with him over the years when he managed to get her goat, but she was giving Carrot-Top that look. “Uh-oh. Oh, no. Bets, don’t!” he hissed. He saw the kiss coming before she did, and he longed to stalk across the driveway and drag Arch back to his piece of shit car by the scruff of the neck. “Shit,” he swore. “Bad idea, Cooper.”

The kiss lasted just a few seconds too long; Reggie felt Betty’s embarrassment sharply, saw the hint of regret mingled with desire painting her features as she hurried into the house. Yet he saw how hungrily she kissed him back, how hard it was for her to let him go.

Damn.

That wouldn’t do. That just wouldn’t do at all.
Chapter Text



Reggie and Clarissa were leaning in too closely to each other for propriety, not that Betty was noticing, or anything. She tried not to look at them, but her ears pricked up as she listened to their flirty banter. She tried to look completely absorbed in cleaning out her locker.

“So, you’re coming to my place later, right?”

“Reg… I don’t know… I’ve got a lot to do after school.”

“So, come and do it with me.” Betty heard his smug grin without having to look at it, and she silently rolled her eyes. “C’mon, you know what I mean… I’ve got plenty of space for us to spread out. We can cram for that lit test.”

“I hate Moby Dick,” Clarissa complained. “It’s so boring.”

“It won’t be if you study it with me, Reggie tempted. “I’ll make it interesting.”

“Reg, quit it!” But there was laughter in her voice, and Betty dared to peek out of the corner of her eye. Clarissa was leaning back against her locker, and Reggie was practically hemming her in, focused on her body language and her ripe, pink pout. He lightly caressed the underside of her chin with his fingertip, urging her to keep her eyes on his face when she tried to duck her head. Clarissa was staring up at Reggie like he painted the stars across the sky. Betty knew he was pulling out his usual bag of tricks, and as usual, it was working beautifully.

How often had she watched him from over the hedge? How many other conversations had she eavesdropped, late at night, when he brought girls over or when they just lingered in his car? Even worse, and it tied Betty’s stomach in knots when she thought about it, on a handful of occasions when she caught Reggie LEAVING his house on Sunday mornings to take his dates HOME on weekends when his parents were out of town, how giggly, blissed out and guilty did those girls look as he helped them into his car, hair still mussed?

She saw Clarissa turn her head Betty’s way and she quickly ducked, but not before she caught her. Thankfully she was nice. “Hi, Betty!” Betty waved back, and she hated the dark red flush that she could feel breaking out over her skin.

“Hey, Clarissa!” she offered, waving back. She closed her locker and darted off, and Reggie stared after her with a tiny frown. But his face smoothed itself into agreeable lines when Clarissa faced him again.

“So, what time?”

“Huh?”

“If I meet you after practice,” she teased, poking him.

“Uh…hm.” He snapped his fingers. “Just meet me at the parking lot at four. I can drive you.” Clarissa had a Spanish club meeting, so she would be staying after school, anyway.

“I brought my own car today.”

“That’s fine. Give me your phone real quick.” She handed it over eagerly, and he thumbed his way into her contacts, feeling slightly goofy holding her phone in its horrendously girly pink case with My Little Ponies on it. “I’ll plug my address in here.”

“Awesome.” She took it back and tucked it into her huge, rhinestone-studded bag. He toyed with one of her long, narrow braids dangling over her shoulder.

“See ya.”

“Later, Mantle.” Her lips twisted into a little smirk and she gave him flirty eyes as she left. He watched her walk for a moment, enjoying the swing of her hips, but then his mind drifted back to Betty.

She’d been watching him. Those blue eyes of hers never lied. What was up with that? He mentally scratched his head as he made his way to social studies.

*

“Come to the mall with me. I want to pick up that dress that I have on hold.”

“I’m broke. Otherwise I’d go.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll buy you a latte.” Of course Veronica would bring up her weakness.

“You don’t have to do that.”

“Awww, I don’t wanna go to the mall alone,” Veronica whined. “C’mon, Bets, pretty please?”

“Didn’t your dad cut you off?”

“Pfft… no. He just gave me a warning. That’s why I put the dress on hold.”

“Ahhhh.” Betty mentally rolled her eyes. “Self-restraint. I see what you’re doing there.”

“Zip it, or no latte for you.” Veronica brandished her slapping hand, and Betty giggled. “C’mon. Come have fun with your bestie. You know you want to.” Veronica started doing a goofy little dance, then grabbed Betty and started to twirl her around. “You knooowww you waaaant toooooo…” she chanted. Betty gave her a long-suffering look.

“I wish I could quit you,” she told her dryly. Veronica broke away and fist-pumped.

“Yesssssss! Yay! Goodie! Meet me at my car.”

“Yes, yes,” Betty promised, waving her off. “Ooh. Wait. Can we make a stop before we go? I have a library book I have to return.”

“Oh. Yeah. That’s fine.” Then Veronica pulled a face as they headed toward their last period class. “Why don’t you just stick with the school’s library?”

“Better reference section.” And sometimes Betty just needed to get away from anything having to do with school for a couple of hours, with her busy athletic schedule. Veronica already hadn’t forgiven her for going out for basketball instead of staying on the winter cheerleading squad, but the schedules were conflicting, and Betty really wanted to play.

It didn’t hurt, really, that the girls practiced in the opposite court from the boys, partitioned off by a dividing wall, but she could still peek through the opening once in a while. Reggie and Archie were both playing that season and both made varsity. Once in a while, their game schedules would coincide, and both teams would play in the same school’s tournament.

So, it was important to steal some time with her bestie once in a while so Veronica wouldn’t feel put out. By the time Betty finished practice, showered, went home, helped make dinner and began studying her notes, she was usually wiped. Weekends were for dates, the way Veronica’s schedule worked, so more often than not, she went with Archie to the movies instead, and Betty ended up being the odd man out. Archie and Veronica were joined at the lip, more often than not, and despite her own best efforts to move on from what she now called “The Incident,” Betty still burned with jealousy.

She should be happy for her friend for having the boyfriend she always wanted. Sure. But… BUT.

But. Well.

It never quite worked out that way, did it? They both liked Archie. That much had been pretty clear from the beginning. Veronica got his attention. Archie asked Veronica out. End of story. Betty slunk into the background and licked her wounds. Archie never looked at Betty the way he did Ron.

… at least, not until The Incident. Not until he turned her world on its ear, and Betty didn’t know what changed. One moment they were goofing around, and the next his lips were teasing hers, coaxing tiny sounds out of her throat, making every inch of her body tingle. Waves of guilt washed over her, but that look in his eyes, those robin’s egg blue eyes, they were cloudy with desire and need, coaxing an admission from her that she felt what was between them.

Now, she noticed him, and he was definitely noticing her. How long had he snuck glances at her, then ducked his head sheepishly as soon as their eyes met? When did brief, inadvertent contact between them get so awkward? She wasn’t watching where she was going on her way through the doorway past study hall, checking her tweets on her phone, when she collided with him as he approached, since he was yelling over his shoulder to Moose and was paying just as little attention. They smacked into each other, and both of them stammered out apologies, and she nearly came out of her skin at the feel of his hand closing around her upper arm.

“Geez… Bets, I wasn’t looking. I’m sorry. Um… sorry.”

“Beg your pardon,” she added clumsily. “I wasn’t looking. TOTALLY wasn’t looking.” His hand lingered on her arm, and the contact was making her fizzy. Every alarm in her brain sounded at once: He’s touching me, he’s TOUCHING me, HE’S TOUCHING ME… She felt bereft as he withdrew his hand, and they were buffeted out of the way as their classmates surged through the doorway around them, still awkwardly close. “Um, bye.”

“Yeah.” He waved, then almost crashed into Jug going in the opposite direction, but he still glanced over his shoulder at Betty. It hit her that she was just standing there, looking back when she should have been walking to class.

“Why are you all red?” Ethel demanded when she reached her class.

“Don’t ask.”

“But… why?”

“It’s nothing. It’s totally nothing.” But, her traitorous brain demanded to know, what if it was?

*



Practice was brutal.

Two miles of suicide laps. Shooting drills. Blocking. Rebounding. Lay-ups. Free throws. Jumping jacks. Grapevines. Passing drills. The gym was chilly when practice began, but after two hours, which also included a brief scrimmage, Betty was drenched in her own sweat, ponytail plastered to her neck, and every inch of her body ached. But Betty was exhilarated; they had an awesome team lineup for the season, and she couldn’t wait for their next tournament on Saturday.

Ethel gave her a high five. “Nice job today.”

“It was good,” Betty agreed. “I think we’re ready.”

“Sounds like they tore it up on that side, too,” Ethel murmured, motioning to the dividing wall. They heard Coach Kleats’ whistle blow and the stamping of feet as the boys huddled. She saw a spare ball bounce and roll into view from where someone tossed it, and Archie darted into her line of vision through the opening in the partition. He scooped up the ball, stopping just short of accidentally running into the bleachers, and he chanced a quick look through the wall. He grinned self-consciously and nodded at Betty, then disappeared.

“He looked whipped,” Ethel remarked.

“Yeah,” Betty murmured. “Sure did.”

“Why are you grinning like that?”

“Like what?” She met Ethel’s glance. “Like what?” she repeated.

“Like … that. Whatever that is.” Ethel gave the ball under her arm a few experimental dribbles, then cradled it against herself again. “Why were you staring at him like that?”

“I wasn’t staring.”

“That looked a lot like staring.”

“Nope.” Betty shrugged and loped toward the bleachers, where Miss Grundy was giving them a run-down on what needed work before their tournament.

“I want more of that teamwork, girls. Be mindful of where your teammates are on the court and pay attention. I want to see you watching and listening for ‘I’m open!’” Miss Grundy gestured with arm waving motions to demonstrate. “No ball hogging. Some of you are gifted shooters, some of you have a stronger passing game, but there’s no excuse to hog the ball for every shot.”

“Don’t be a Mantle,” Nancy muttered aloud. The girls tittered and elbowed each other, and Miss Grundy sighed.

“That’s enough. That’s not inaccurate, granted, but don’t be unsportsmanlike and tear down your peers. Appreciate all of your fellow Bulldogs. We all have our flaws.” Miss Grundy nodded to Ethel. “Nice work today on those tip-ins and lay-ups, kiddo. Use that height to your advantage, but watch that high dribbling.”

“Yes, ma’am.” But Ethel glowed under the praise. Ethel had spent most of freshman year believing she had no real athletic ability until Miss Grundy coaxed her into trying field hockey. She ended up being a natural at it, and it gave her the confidence to go out for basketball, giving in to the usual nagging she got about “You’re so tall, why don’t you play basketball?” It ended up working out. She had hoped it would help her to get Jughead’s attention, but so far, no go. Oh, well.

The skinny junior was on the boy’s team, too, the only team he would bother with every year, and he was pretty good, good enough to play first string, but he wasn’t “a Mantle,” lacking the ego that seemed to go along with lettering in a sport. When practices were over, Jughead beelined over to the Chok’lit Shoppe or to Archie’s house, competing with Veronica for time with his best friend. Betty knew how he felt…

Ethel hadn’t given up hope yet. That last, stubborn little glimmer still burned within her breast, and her feet still wore a groove in the floor past his locker every day, while she savored every brief glimpse of him. One day, the right words would tumble out of her mouth, or she would wear the right perfume, or she would bake him just the right cookie, and he would notice her, and maybe, just maybe, he would appreciate her. Ethel was grasping for crumbs.

He was so cute. He was just so… Jughead. It was so hard.

The girls lingered in the gym, collecting the balls in the large net sack and gathering up the orange drill cones. “Can I come by and get that sweater tonight?” Nancy asked. “Chuck’s taking me to a movie at seven.”

“Ooh. Shoot. I’m meeting Ron today to go to the mall. I’ll try to make it short. Unless you want to come with us?”

“Nah. I’ve got a project due on Greek history on Friday. I need to work on it today before Chuck comes over.” Betty promised to lend Nancy her green sweater for her date; it was their two-year anniversary, and Chuck was going all out, planning dinner and seeing the Hunger Games afterward.

“Okay. We’ll figure something out. I’ll see if Ron and I can swing by your house with it, then. I’ll text you to let you know where we are.” The girls headed to the locker room, but they paused at the sound of the boys horsing around on the other side.

“Wish they’d put some windows in that thing,” Nancy murmured, nodding to the partition.

“No kidding,” Ethel agreed. “Can’t let us have any fun, or anything.” They went to the showers, and Betty rushed through her attempt at hygiene, hopping still half-damp into her clothes, jerking her hair into a hasty ponytail and cramming deodorant against her pits. She was slinging her backpack over her shoulder and putting on lip gloss without a mirror as she hurried out.

“Text me!” Nancy called after her.

“I will!”

“Bye, Betty!” Midge called after her. She waved to all of them and rushed to the cafeteria, where the cheerleaders were practicing. She caught Veronica’s eye and ignored the nasty look Cheryl gave her as she looked up from her phone.

“So glad I’m not playing ball this year, if it means looking like shit,” she muttered.

“So what’s your excuse for looking like shit, then?” Veronica quipped, looking innocent and looping her arm through Betty’s.

“And who said you weren’t playing ball?” Betty added. “That’s not what we’ve heard.” She gave Cheryl a smug look that was out of character for her.

“Bitch,” Cheryl huffed. She flipped them the bird, then turned away quickly when Miss Haggly and Miss Phlips told them to help collect the cheer sheets and boom box.

“Nice one,” Veronica snickered. They fist-bumped and hurried out, and Veronica tightened her grip on Betty. “This is so awesome,” she squealed. “I get to hang out with my bestie and spend money!”

“Speak for yourself.”

“I’m spending money on you, too. It’s latte time.”

“Library book first. I need to run home for it, and I have to also pick up a sweater for Nanners.”

“She could have come with us,” Veronica mentioned.

“I know. She’s working on her project, though.” Veronica made a disappointed sound.

“Booooo…” Veronica drew them up short as her phone chirped at her. “Ooh. Call. Hold it.” Betty rolled her eyes. Of course, it had to be Archie. Veronica answered the call with a breathless “What’s up, babe?” Betty tagged alongside her, listening to one side of the conversation and fighting the urge to gag. “I’m with Betty. Yeah, Betty. We’re going to pick up my dress. Yes, the hot one. Aw, you’re so cute… I know you’ll like it on me.” Veronica’s mouth dropped open in mock-shock, and she giggled. “Don’t!” she scolded lightly. “You’re so bad. Yes, you’re totally bad. Yeah. Miss you. No. I miss you more. Okay.” She paused again. “Betty and I are getting a latte. We won’t be gone that long. Okay.” She made a kissy noise. “Mmm-whah! Bye, Archiekins.” Betty made finger-throat motions and a sour face. Veronica elbowed her.

“That, was just… sickening. Seriously. Going into sugar shock, here.”

“But I loooooooooove him,” Veronica whined, clasping her hands over her heart. “You wouldn’t understaaaaaaaannnnd!”

Sure, Betty wouldn’t. Why wouldn’t she?

“Let’s just go,” Betty insisted on a ragged sigh.

*



Betty finished her two errands, and they girls rolled up to the galleria parking lot in Ron’s Jeep, where Veronica managed to wrangle her way past a middle-aged man in a blue Navigator to beat him to the closest parking spot that he’d been waiting for.

“No one beats a Lodge into the mall,” Veronica sniffed, ignoring his dirty look and the way he slapped his steering wheel behind closed windows, mouthing What the F***? at them as they passed by. Veronica grabbed Betty’s arm and pulled her along.

“That wasn’t very nice,” Betty chided.

“He’ll get over it.” Betty’s misgivings faded once the scent of the mall food court hit them fully, and her mouth watered.

“Cinnabon,” she sighed, breathing it in.

“Cinnamon twisties,” Veronica corrected her. “Let’s go!” They giggled and practically ran to the little stand and ordered.



They lingered over their drinks and snacks while Veronica prattled on about Archie this, and Archie that, and the upcoming winter semi-formal. “What are you going to wear?”

“I don’t know. I’ll wait and see what goes on sale,” Betty considered. “I won’t have enough time to make anything.”

“So, make the time. That last one was nice.”

“I don’t feel like wearing it again.” But to Ron’s credit, it was true. Her midnight blue, spaghetti-strapped sheath that her mother helped her make was a sweet, simple get-up, but she wanted something different. Something eye-catching. Not over the top, but just memorable.

“Anyone ask you yet?”

“Nope.” Dilton had asked her if she was planning to go, but he hadn’t actually asked her if she was interested in going with him. Jughead joked with her that they could be each other’s last resort, but she wouldn’t do that to Ethel. She knew him too well; he liked to go stag.

“Get a date. We can double.”

“Easier said than done. Get me one,” Betty challenged. Veronica rolled her eyes and smirked.

“Don’t dare me. I’ll do it. I’ll find you someone.” Veronica began scrolling through her phone.

“Oh, geez… no. NO,” Betty emphasized, making a grab for it. “We’re not doing this.”

“I want you to have a date. I’m gonna have a date, so you should, too.” Betty didn’t point out that Veronica already had the date that Betty would have found ideal.

“Don’t go out of your way.”

“No. Seriously. Look… how about George? I just ran into him a few weeks ago. He still looks pretty good.”

“Wasn’t that the guy you went on a blind date with that didn’t work out? Didn’t he have a weird thing about Al Pacino movies?”

“Hmm… okay. Skip George. How about Louie?”

“The one who has the psycho sister? Nope. Next.”

“He was cute, though!” Veronica insisted.

“What else have you got?” Betty couldn’t believe she was even entertaining the thought of letting Veronica fix her up.

“Stan? He might be free that night.”

“Who is he?”

“I met him at one of Daddy’s conferences. His dad works with him. That was after Archie and I got together, though. But he seemed nice enough.”

“Picture?”

“Uh-huh.” Veronica scrolled through the photos in her gallery and triumphantly shoved the phone at her. “Whaddya think?” Betty looked down at the tiny screen. Her eyes widened appreciatively.

“Wow. Oh, wow.”

*



That was there it all began to unravel, Betty realized that night while she was on her second cup of punch. Her high heels were pinching her feet and Stan’s voice, which she initially found sexy at the beginning of the evening, was beginning to grate on her nerves.

She never should have agreed to let Ron fix her up. Everything started out well enough. Stan showed up on time, and her breath caught at how handsome he looked in his dark gray suit. Stan was close to six feet tall, medium build, and had dreamy gray eyes and a dimple in his left cheek. He knew his way around a bottle of hair gel and had well-cut dark waves. He came inside and automatically shook hands with Betty’s dad.

“Eleven,” Hal told them sternly.

“That’s fine, Mr. Cooper,” Stan agreed. His hand was warm at Betty’s lower back as he helped her into her coat and showed her to the car.

As the night wore on, she realized that while Stan was certainly pretty, there just wasn’t much going on upstairs.

Stan went to Pembroke and was friends with the Blossoms, which explained a lot. So much of what came out of his mouth was “blah-blah-CARS-blah-blah-MY PARENTS-blah-blah-OUR TRIP TO ARUBA-blah-blah-MY LAST GIRLFRIEND-blah-blah-blah-ME, ME, ME.” Betty realized her attempts at conversation were futile, and she began to just nod and smile.

“So, you look so cute tonight,” Stan finally told her. Betty sighed in relief.

“Thanks!”

“My ex has a dress like that. Did you get it at BCBG?”

“Oh. Uh-uh.”

“Well, it’s nice. It’s working well for you.” He rocked back on his heels and stared out at the dance floor.

“You wanna dance?” Betty suggested helpfully.

“Oh, not yet. Not crazy about this song.”

“Got it. No rush.” She nodded to his cup. “Want more punch?” He grinned and handed it to her, and she slunk off dutifully, glad for the momentary escape.

“How’s it going over there with your boy?” Chuck inquired, stopping her.

“It’s so not,” she growled. “Oh, my friggin’ goodness. Shoot me now.”

“Oooh.” Chuck winced. “This is a friend of Ron’s?”

“I thought I was a friend of Ron’s, up until now,” Betty quipped. “Rethinking that now.”

“She meant well,” Nancy chimed in. “Remind me to bring your sweater by tomorrow, girl.”

“I’ll be home most of the day, whenever you want to stop by.” Nancy gave her arm a squeeze before Betty ladled more punch.

“He didn’t even get the drinks?” Chuck wrinkled his nose. “That’s his job.”

“No worries. I needed the walk. Haven’t danced once.”

She hobbled off in the uncomfortable shoes and watched the dance floor resentfully. It was crowded and everyone looked like they were having a great time except her. And perhaps Ethel, who was mooning over Jughead and working up the nerve to approach him. She caught Betty’s eye and waved her over.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“I’m not digging this.”

“Preaching to the choir, sweetie.” She held up one of her cups. “Punch?”

“Maybe later.” Then Ethel made a face. “Where’s your date?”

“Over there. Mr. Tall, Dark and Such a Bad Idea.” Ethel giggled behind her hand.

“Wow. I’m so sorry.”

“Me, too. So, think Juggie will come around?”

“I don’t know.”

“You can still chat him up.”

“I don’t want to feel like I’m trying too hard.”

“Not trying at all isn’t getting you anywhere.”

“I know, I know…” Ethel sounded defeated.

“You look nice.” She did. Ethel went the low-key route with a scoop-necked, sleeveless black velvet dress with a green satin sash, black mule-heeled pumps and a dainty pearl choker around her slender throat. She wore her short dark hair pinned up and did her makeup with a light hand.

“I’d rather be home in my jammies. The Hello Kitty ones, on my couch. With cocoa and Vampire Diaries.”

“Ooh. That sounds good.”

“Doesn’t it?”

“Quit stalling, though.”

“Grrrrrr…”

“Okay. Take another minute. Chill. Mingle,” Betty urged. “But don’t just wait all night.”

“I know, I know.” Ethel gave her a one-armed hug. “Is he just dull, or what?”

“He’s just… a no. A no, all around.”

“Maybe if you get to dance with him, that will help.”

“Maybe. Later, kiddo.”

“Good luck,” Ethel called to her retreating back. Funny how it worked out that Ethel, dateless, was telling Betty that. No; it was sad.

“There you are,” Stan piped up. “I was getting lonely.”

You missed the sound of your own voice, Betty mused. “Want that dance any time soon?”

“Let me finish this,” Stan offered, and Betty gulped down her drink in one swig, but was dismayed that he meant a sip at a time while he continued to look around the room, one hand in his pocket. Defeated. SO defeated…

“Betty!” She heard Veronica’s squeal from across the room, and she was practically knocked over as her bestie came galloping over.

“OOF!”

“You look so cute! Omigod! Stan, you made it!” Veronica was jumping up and down, hugging her, and Betty could only laugh. Archie hung back slightly, chuckling. He nodded at Stan, who gave him a noncommittal smile, then reluctantly gave him a hand to shake.

“Stan Green.”

“Archie. Andrews.”

“Let’s dance,” Veronica ordered. To Betty’s annoyance, Stan finished his drink, finally, and followed suit as Veronica dragged them all out there. Of course, he would listen to Ron…

He was a decent dancer, if less than enthusiastic, but at least Betty finally had something to do. Veronica moved with Archie like they were born for it; three years of going steady would certainly explain it. She tried not to focus on them or look too envious. But once in a while, her eyes drifted over to watch them, taking in Veronica’s radiant smile, or even worse, Archie’s.

But after a while, she just let it go, getting into the music, feeling grateful that she wasn’t a wallflower up in the bleachers. She looked good, she felt relatively good, and she had a date, and she let that mindset guide her over the next hour.

*

That was how Reggie found her, once he finally paused for a drink with his own date. Clarissa was sitting at one of the small round tables set up off to the side, briefly taking off her shoe and rotating her ankle. He brought her a cup of punch and sat beside her, lightly kissing her brown shoulder. She smiled and moved her sweep of cornrows off her neck to give him better access.

“You’re gonna wear me out,” she murmured fondly.

“Running out of steam already?”

“Let me take a breather.”

“Did I mention you look hot?”

“You can mention it again, if you want.” Reggie smirked. Clarissa was fun. She was pretty open about what she wanted once they really began to talk past the “flirting” stage, and he was glad they’d exchanged numbers so far. “Do you recognize that guy over there?”

“Which one?”

“The one dancing with Betty.” He followed her pointing hand and peered into the crowd.

Betty.

Wow.

The guy dancing next to her looked like a bit of a tool. Okay. And Clarissa was right, he didn’t look like he went to their school. He kept doing this collar-flexing thing that was kinda goofy, but it made Betty laugh. But, Betty.

Just… Betty.

She made all coherent thought and function stop with the way she moved, dressed in purple so deep it was almost black, a long, backless halter dress with a flowing skirt. Her hair was in a Grecian-curled upsweep, thanks to a favorite cousin of hers who was a hairdresser.

“I don’t think he goes here,” Clarissa mentioned, pulling him abruptly back.

“Huh?”

“Reg? You in there?” She gently knocked against his forehead, chuckling at him. “You zoned out there for a second.”

“Nah. I’m good.” She stepped back into her shoe and stood, reaching for his hand. “You good?”

“Uh-huh.” She grinned and pulled him out to the floor after her, but Reggie’s face heated up the closer they got to Betty.

He tried to focus on his pretty, bubbly date, but out of the corner of his eye, he also noticed Veronica and Archie. Ron looked great, too, easily outdoing every girl there in her skimpy little red number and blown-out curls, but what caught his attention – briefly – was Archie.

He was giving Betty the eye. There was a longing there. Almost… a hunger.

“Asshole,” Reggie hissed under his breath.

“What?” Clarissa said, confused.

“Nothing… I’m good. It’s nothing.”

“Okaaaayyyy…”

They kept dancing, song after song, and when a slow number came up, he held Clarissa close, absorbing her heat and breathing the scent of her perfume. But once in a while, over her shoulder, he watched Betty.

She and her date moved slower than the song required, and her body seemed stiff, even though they moved well together. Reggie read the awkwardness in her expression and noticed that his hand was on her hip, rather than her waist. Briefly, Reggie watched that hand slide down too low to be polite, and he gave Betty’s ass a fleeting squeeze, making her jerk against him and stare up at him in annoyance. Quit it, Reggie saw her mouth to him beneath the music. Reggie’s own grip tightened on Clarissa and his blood heated up, just shy of a full boil.

Stan shrugged and smirked, and his hand moved back up where it belonged, against her waist.

“What’s up?” Clarissa asked him again. “Why the frown?”

“I just… nothing.”

“Didn’t look like nothing.”

Before he could form a reasonable answer, he heard commotion off to his right, and this time, he saw a flash of red hair heading toward Betty’s carefully pinned blonde curls.

“That’s enough!” he heard Archie snap. This time, Reggie saw red, when he noticed that guy’s hand on Betty’s butt again, gripping it more possessively.

“Nope,” Reggie muttered. “Sorry,” he apologized to Clarissa before he let go of her and plowed through the crowd, all of whom were watching the spectacle now.

“Reggie? What the hell?” Clarissa yelped, throwing up her hands in his wake.

“Watch the hands,” Reggie warned him.

“I’ve got this,” Archie growled at him.

“No, you haven’t,” Stan told them both, staring at them like they were high. “Get out of here with that shit. I’m dancing with my date!”

“You’re making her uncomfortable,” Reggie argued. “Keep your hands to yourself!” Betty looked horrified.

“Guys… don’t worry about it.” She stood between them and Stan, trying to shove him behind her. “Don’t do this. Please don’t embarrass me like this.”

“You didn’t like how he was touching you,” Archie pointed out, and his jaw was set, eyes blazing, and it quickened her pulse.

“Sure didn’t look like it,” Reggie agreed, but it pissed him off to realize that Archie had been ignoring his own date as much as he had his. Betty’s eyes flitted to his face, and she shook her head.

“Please, don’t.”

“Mind your own fucking business,” Stan snapped, and that got everyone’s attention that hadn’t already turned to stare.

“She’s my friend, so she’s my business if you’re putting the moves on her and she doesn’t like it,” Archie informed him. Veronica looked horrified and picked that moment to jump in.

“Stan… look. Cool it.”

“Nice townie friends, Ronnie. Not impressed.” She shrugged.

“So? This is why we didn’t go out. I was hoping you two would hit it off, but never mind. Go run home to Mommy and Daddy.” Stan looked aghast.

“Seriously? You’re just gonna… I came all the way out here to date your friend as a favor…?”

“Favor?” Betty cried. “As a FAVOR???”

“No hard feelings,” Stan told her nastily, giving her a saccharine, fake smile and patting her cheek. “My ex wore it better.”

“I said, watch your hands!” Reggie reminded him, reaching for Betty and pulling her behind him, much like she had her horrible date only moments before. He glanced at her and murmured, “I’m sorry, Bets,” right before swinging on him.

At the end of the night, Reggie was suspended, Archie was suspended, every one of their friends who attempted to break up or otherwise help either of them out in the fight was suspended, and Betty and Veronica went home, mortified and pissed. Veronica deleted Stan from her contacts and gallery before Jeeves even made it there in the limo to pick them up.

*



Naturally, Betty didn’t see Reggie back at school until Wednesday. He looked chastened, and he was sporting a bandage wrapped around his hand. “Uh… hi.” He paused at her locker and watched her sheepishly. “I guess I kinda owe you an apology.”

“What? You? To me? Whatever for?” She blew out an exasperated breath before facing him. “That was so uncalled for.”

“He was a tool. He was getting fresh.”

“I know that. I could handle it.”

“By letting him do it again?”

“I wasn’t going to make a scene.”

“Where did you find that guy?”

“Ron found him.” He rolled his eyes.

“That explains a lot.”

“It’s not like I liked him or anything. He was just going to be my date for the formal.”

“You could have done better. So much better.”

“It was short notice. And why do you get to critique my date? You ignored yours. What happened to Clarissa?”

“Nothing happened to Clarissa.”

“Was she okay with what happened on Friday?”

“No,” he shrugged. At least he was being honest. “She really wasn’t.”

“You guys over?”

“Um. Yeah.” He combed his fingers through the hair at his nape. “Look, Bets… I’m sorry. Friday sucked. I just couldn’t watch you get mauled by that guy.”

“Guess Archie couldn’t, either. Do you know how embarrassing that was?” She slammed her locker and began to walk away, but Reggie caught her arm, stopping her briefly.

“Are you at least gonna be mad at him, too?”

“What?”

“Did it embarrass you when he stepped in? Ron didn’t look okay with it, either, when he got involved.” Betty narrowed her eyes.

“Seriously?”

“Unless you liked it when he stepped up?”

Betty felt her cheeks get hot and ugly little prickles wash over her. “I don’t see why that’s any of your business, Reggie.” Her words were like a slap, and he released her, belatedly, when he realized that he was still touching her. “You had your own date. You didn’t need to keep tabs on mine. You weren’t doing me any favors.” Jughead looked up from his locker as those two walked by arguing, and Reggie could swear he could see the skinny drummer wince.

“If that had been a different date, not at a dance with a bunch of people around, that could have gone badly,” he told her. “Next time I won’t do you the favor of getting rid of a guy that a) was clearly getting fresh with you, that b) was making you uncomfortable, and c) was a horrible dancer that kept doing those stupid nineties “Vogue” moves that no one does anymore. Unless they’re a tool.” Ethel lingered in the periphery, listening.

“Boy has a point,” she murmured.

“I know, right?” Jug agreed, nodding at her. Ethel blushed, but she shot him a brief smile before she moved on to her class.

Betty watched him warily, working up the nerve to say something else.

“You know I’m right.”

“You just think you’re right.” She stormed off. “Next time, don’t leave your date behind. That was bad form, Reggie!” she tossed over her shoulder. Reggie threw his hands up in the air, making an exasperated sound.

*

He headed straight home, since Mr. Weatherbee had suspended him from basketball practice and any games for the whole week, even though he’d only missed two days of school. Reggie finished his chores early and decided to practice his bass for a while. He headed into the basement and plugged his guitar into the amp that his dad got him for his last birthday. He did a few warm-up chords and enjoyed the thrum of it in his hands. He owned two guitars, and even though he loved his Fender Strat, the bass was his baby. He lost himself in the music, playing for about an hour, until his knuckles began to itch beneath the bandage. Veronica’s friend Stan had a hard head…

Reggie emerged from the basement to find his mother at the stove, emptying a bag of frozen veggies into a saucepan. “You’re back early.”

“No practice today.” He didn’t remind her of why. Vicky sighed and looked at his hand.

“Change the bandage. I hope you’re not letting it get wet.”

“It’s fine, Ma.”

“I wish you’d be more careful, sweetie. Suspensions don’t look good on your record, or on your transcripts. And if you were an adult doing something like that, you could’ve been arrested.”

“Okay,” he grumbled.

“It’s not okay,” she chided. “Reggie, why did you get into that fight?”

“This guy was harassing Betty.”

“Betty Cooper?”

“Yeah. He had his hands where they didn’t need to be.”

“None of the chaperones did anything about it?”

“No.” Short of “breaking it up” when anyone was caught making out in the bleachers, they almost never did, Reggie wanted to tell her, but he saved that for himself. “Things just got out of hand.”

“I’m not angry that you stood up for her, then, just that you got into a fight, and that you got hurt.” She kissed his cheek and ruffled his hair. “You’re my baby.”

“Ma…”

“You still are. Go set the table.”

*



After dinner, Reggie went outside to get the mail from the box. Just as he closed the box back up and started sorting through the stack of envelopes, he watched Betty skip down her front steps to grab the newspaper from the curb. They froze and stared at each other, and Betty looked embarrassed.

“Hey.”

“Hi.” Reggie exhaled a heavy breath, then met her halfway, letting the hedge stand between them. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be too sorry. He was a jerk.” She peered down at his hand. “Does it hurt?”

“Not anymore.” His knuckles were swollen and bruised, and he’d gotten a little cut, but it wasn’t too bad.

“I heard you playing earlier,” she told him. “Sounded pretty good.”

“Yeah. Thanks. Had a little time on my hands.” His suspension. She nodded, then stared down at her hands.

“Look… I know you meant well. I just… I don’t want anyone to ever fight over me like that, and I hated seeing you get hurt. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“You don’t have to play the whole ‘big brother’ act.”

“Okay. I wasn’t, but okay.” He backed off, and Betty felt a pang of disappointment. “I thought I was just being your friend.”

“You are my friend.”

“Okay.” He waved over his shoulder without looking back at her. “G’night, Bets.” His front door banged shut after him, and she made a noise of disgust at herself.

“Great. Just great.”
Summary:

Summary: Nothing like a little competitive spirit to break the ice.
Chapter Text

Author’s Note: One of the things I’ve always liked about Betty is that she’s a definite tomboy. Actually, I like MOST things about Betty, since she’s also crafty, artsy, a great writer, a good cook, and loves animals, so that might explain why most of the stuff in my DeviantArt gallery centers around her. But I hinted at the fact that she used to play baseball with the boys in the first chapter, and that brought me back to a recent reprint in one of the Betty and Veronica Digests where she was playing on the team with them, uniform and everything, and when Archie skips a game, because she’s playing shortstop for him, and then he shows up in the stands on a date with Veronica, she hits him with a bean ball. It was awesome. It was classic. That inspired me.

Betty stamped her feet on the welcome mat as she keyed her way inside the house, glad to shuck her boots once she closed the door. “Brrrrrr…” Riverdale was caught in the beginnings of its cold snap, like clockwork, as it began to snow two weeks after Thanksgiving. Her toes felt like ice cubes even in their double layers of socks as she padded into the kitchen. She laid her damp gloves, hat and scarf over the radiator to dry and turned up the thermostat just a notch. As she turned on the kitchen light, she spied her mother’s small Post-it on the fridge, scrawled in her curly handwriting.



There’s pot roast in the fridge that just needs heating up in the microwave. Help yourself.



“Yay,” Betty murmured. That meant she didn’t have to make dinner herself, which gave her a little more time to goof around. She opened the door and found the red ceramic bakeware dish covered in tin foil and set it on the counter. She went about setting the table and then texted her mother to let her know she was back.

Betty: I saw the pot roast. Am I warming up the whole thing?

She fixed herself a cup of cocoa while she waited for a reply. Just as she tore open an envelope of Swiss Miss with marshmallows, she heard her phone ping.

Alice: Yes, please. Your father’s working late, and I had a meeting tonight. Heat the whole thing and set the table. We’ll be back in a half an hour.

Betty: Okey dokey. 

Betty set the microwave and let dinner reheat, then flopped onto the couch with her cocoa. Every muscle ached and complained as she began to warm herself up. Practice was, as usual, brutal. Veronica pouted when Betty told her that she was heading home directly, begging off so she could study for her chemistry test. Covalent bonds waited for no one. Betty reminded herself, not bitterly, of course, that Veronica had Archie to keep her company in Betty’s stead, especially since he flunked biology the year before and had to take it again; thanks to heavy tutoring from Dilton and from his constant reliance on Betty’s carefully scribed notes, he was passing with a solid C so that he could continue to play basketball.

He was still weird around her.

Every time Betty resigned herself to the fact that yes, Archie was her best friend’s boyfriend, he would do something to throw her off-balance and weaken her resolve to back off. Lunch period was awkward. Like, really awkward. When Betty would hunt for her friends to share a table, there was Veronica, holding court, and Betty would automatically beeline for the empty seat next to her, but sometimes, Archie would be there if she forgot to get milk and got back in line, and when she would attempt to join her bestie, there he was, in her spot. There would be a brief – yet friendly, she supposed – standoff when she would approach the table. Nancy, Ethel and Midge would greet her with their customary grins, and Archie would smile up at her sheepishly.

“That’s my cue to go,” he would tell Ron easily. “Hey, Bets.”

“Hey.” Her cheeks burned, and she would stare down at her macaroni and cheese plate as though it was the most fascinating thing in the world while Archie would scramble up from his – Betty’s – seat.

“You don’t have to… I can always-“ Betty would always look around for an empty chair to drag to the table, but he would always shake his head.

“Don’t worry about it,” Archie told her cheerfully. Veronica would smirk up at him and give him a smacker, lingering over it, drawing it into their usual three short pecks. Then he’d brush past Betty, giving her a brief pat. “All yours. See ya.” She felt his phantom touch even after he left, giving her a little shiver of guilty pleasure.

“Bye.” She would join Veronica, who would automatically – grudgingly, though? – make room for her. Her seat was warm from the contact, and it made Betty shiver again.

“Should’ve just pulled up a chair,” Veronica complained.

“Juggie was looking for him, anyway,” Betty pointed out, which wasn’t a lie. Jug was always looking for Archie at lunch time to borrow money.

It didn’t help that no matter where Veronica went, Archie was sure to follow. It was getting more difficult to get time alone with Ron, yet Betty didn’t want to be the bad friend and have Ron think she was resentful of her “coupled” status. But it just made it so darned awkward. It was so hard not to think about that kiss on her porch, and in contrast, that horrible set-up date for the formal. What was Ron thinking? Stan had been awful, not Betty’s type at all.

The only problem was, the one boy she considered her type was off-limits. Betty fought with all of the voices in her head that screamed to her to touch him again, to kiss him again, but she knew he belonged to Veronica. She hated that it was this hard, hating herself a little every time she stared at his mouth.

Hated the pull he had on her, as though invisible strings knotted them together.

She thought about what Reggie said the other day, and it rankled. After the whole mess at the dance, he was right; she should have been just as angry at Archie for interfering and jumping into that fight… even though she felt a tiny, niggling glow of pleasure that they both came to her defense. But it wasn’t fair that she snapped at him and told him to mind his own business. Not when he meant well. She sighed at the memory of Reggie’s narrowed eyes and tightened lips. Part of her wanted to apologize to him again; he’d been pretty cool toward her since the night she ran into him at the mailbox.



Betty did her homework and greeted her parents with hugs and kisses. Dinner was unremarkable and tasty. She checked her Facebook feed, answered a few texts from Nancy, and tried to get those mischievous blue eyes out of her head.

It was impossible.

*

Betty ran suicide laps until she tasted salt on her upper lip and her tank top was clinging to her. It felt good to take out her aggression on the brown practice ball, listening to the thuds as it hit the polished floor. She kept up her eye fakes, head fakes, and caught almost every rebound. Miss Grundy’s whistle blast made all of the girls freeze and nearly collapse, panting limply against each other before they huddled around their coach.

“All right. Good scrimmage. I have a little surprise today. Coach Kleats and I decided to shake things up a little. We’re practicing with the boys’ team today.” Gasps and snickers greeted this news.

“This is gonna be good,” Midge gloated.

“Knew if we were patient enough, they’d take that thing down,” Nancy murmured to Betty, nodding to the partition wall. Betty grinned back and gave her a fist bump. She felt a warm glow thinking about seeing the boys out on the court.

“It’s still going to be shirts versus skins,” Miss Grundy told them. “And first string against first string.” Ethel snapped her fingers in disappointment.

“I wanted to play with Juggie,” she complained. The drummer was first string, while Ethel was still trying to prove herself.

“Next time,” Betty promised.

The partition rolled back, and as the boys came into view, they started hooting at their competition, giving cat calls and whistles. Coach Kleats shook his head and blasted his whistle. Miss Grundy made “don’t do that” motions with her finger. Reggie and Jason were leering and giving the girls “how YOU doin’?” faces, nodding in approval at the selection. Betty blushed. She knew she was a mess in her baggy basketball practice shorts, sloppy tank and sports bra, and sweaty hair, bangs plastered to her forehead. Her face was flushed bright pink.

Reggie wouldn’t admit out loud that she looked hot.

“This is gonna be easy,” Moose muttered.

“Bet they’re afraid they’ll break a nail,” Chuck chimed in, and then he noticed Nancy was giving him a dirty look. “Not you, baby,” he crooned in pacifying tones. His team let out a chorus of “oooooooh’s” until Coach Kleats brought them in line with another whistle blow.

“Shirts versus skins,” he bellowed. “Girls get left court.”

“We rotate each quarter,” Miss Grundy added. “Betty, you get the tip-in.”

“Of course I end up against Moose,” she groused, and Moose was already smirking.

“I’ll try to go easy on ya, Blondie.”

“Pfft… stuff it,” she told him easily.

“She told you!” Chuck snickered, while Moose looked aghast.

“That’s what I get for trying to be nice?”

“Girl’s got sass,” Jason marveled.

“Yeah, she does,” Archie agreed.

“She’s still gonna get beat,” Reggie said with a shrug. Betty heard him and gave him the stink-eye. Reggie mock-cowered, then smirked back.

“Line ‘em up!”

The girls took their positions and Coach Kleats tossed up the ball. Just as Betty predicted, Moose snatched the tip-in, swatting it over her head. She growled under her breath and got her head in the game.

The boys were fast, and they were sneaky. Rebounds were important, Betty decided, since that was the girls’ best method to get their hands on the ball. Reggie quickly became a thorn in her side. He faked her out, blocked her passes and fouled her off the sidelines at every opportunity. She hissed out a breath when he stole the ball mid-dribble and fed it to Archie. “Damn it!” she hissed.

“Midge!” Betty screamed when the tiny brunette managed to snake it away from him when he dribbled too high. “Pass it to Nancy!”

“I know, I know,” Midge groused. “Here!”

“I won’t leave you hanging,” Nancy muttered as she dribbled up the court.

“Nice!” Miss Grundy called out, grinning. Coach Kleats was pacing up and down the edge of the court.

“Look alive, boys! They’re making you look bad!” The boys were ahead by six points, but they were struggling for it. Midge was the shortest girl on the team, but she could shoot and she was fast. She’d also had three years of practicing with Moose, albeit playfully, so she knew his moves.

Reggie fouled Betty out again when he slapped her pass out of the air and off the sidelines. “What?!”

“Sloppy,” he told her, shrugging.

“You suck,” she muttered, but it was as a good a time as any to practice her free throw. They lined up along the court, and Betty blew her hangs off her forehead, giving the ball a few good dribbles and lining up her shot. She crouched and came up nice and clean, letting the ball roll off her left hand’s fingertips – she was a lefthanded shooter – and the neat swish was like a kiss. Midge caught the rebound and passed it back to her, grinning.

“Luck doesn’t replace talent,” Reggie jeered.

“Don’t make me sit you out,” Coach Kleats warned on a low growl. “It’s called sportsmanship, Mantle.” Archie stared at her, watching her hands; Betty saw her dribbling ball reflected in those blue eyes before she remembered she had to look up at the hoop.

Crouch. Spring. Shoot…

…bouuunnncccccccccccceee…

Shit.

Reggie took the ball and ran with it. “Nice try,” he muttered as she blocked him.

“I’m not done,” she huffed.

“Yeah, you are.” He faked left and then passed it to Jughead, who actually had the decency to look a little frightened of Betty. He decided on the better part of discretion and passed it to Jason, who didn’t get very far when Midge blocked his pass.

“Good hustle!” Miss Grundy cheered.

By the end of the first half, everyone was dragging. “Second string. Shirts right, skins left.” They switched sides and rotated their roster; there was a rush to get to the water fountains by the door. The boys stepped aside to let the girls drink first, and Betty tried to make it brief. She felt a poke in her side, anyway, and she ended up snorting up water into her nose. “ACK!”

“Oops,” Reggie teased.

“Uggghhh… you SUCK!” She wiped her face on her tank, exposing her flat belly as she did so. Reggie, Archie and Jason glanced down briefly in appreciation and then averted their eyes before she could notice.

“The water… it goes, you know, in your mouth,” Reggie suggested helpfully. Betty turned back to the fountain and doused her hand under the spout. Reggie didn’t like the gleam in her eye, and she ran at him, shaking and flicking her fingers at him and showering him with drops. “HeyheyHEY! That’s mature!”

“Have a drink! Have a shower!”

“That’s enough,” Miss Grundy reminded them. She gave Betty a chiding look that said the blonde should know better. Betty fumed. The first string players retired to the bleachers and gulped bottled water and Gatorade, wiping themselves down with towels. Chuck plunked himself down between Betty and Nancy, playfully body-checking Betty aside. Betty tsked and gave him a little shove, but he was grinning at her.

“Gotta practice that free throw.”

“I know, I know.”

“When you play against Reggie, fake left. He hates that. That’s his bad side.”

“Ahhhh…”

“Not supposed to sell out your boy,” Nancy reminded him.

“He’s getting a little comfy. It’s making him lazy. Betty’ll keep him on his toes,” Chuck pointed out. Nancy nodded; Betty beamed.

“I’m gonna try.” Reggie stood on the sidelines talking trash with Jason, and he glanced toward the bleachers, no doubt feeling his ears burn as the subject of their conversation. He nodded at Betty and winked. She stuck her tongue out at him, and he just smirked.

“That’s mature,” Chuck teased.

“Oh, hush, you.”

The second string teams were pretty evenly matched. Ethel took the tip-in from Bingo, surprising everybody, and her passing game improved. Betty and Nancy shouted themselves hoarse cheering for their friend. By the end of the fourth quarter, the boys only beat the girls’ team by six points.

“Excellent hustle,” Miss Grundy called out. “Line up. Shake hands.” Every player was dead on their feet and slouching as they dutifully got in line for a high-five. Betty gave Chuck a fist-bump when she reached him; Jason did the whole yank-the-hand-back-and-run-it-through-your-hair routine, making her roll her eyes. Moose gave her five, muttering “gotta work on that tip-in, Cooper.”

Reggie reached her at the end of the line, and she caught him winking at Midge, which annoyed her. She wanted to swat him upside the head and tell him “You see her boyfriend right there, right?” He saw that she caught him, and he smirked. He held out his hand for a high five, but then ducked and poked her in the side again, hitting her right where she was most ticklish.

“Coach, Reggie’s being a jerk!” Betty whined. The boys snickered, and she lifted her fist, making him dart off, unsure whether or not she would take umbrage. Reggie’s expression was wicked and he was very pleased with himself.

“That’s enough of that,” Kleats told them blandly. “Collect the balls and cones!”

Dirty sweat towels were dropped into the barrel and bottles were collected from the bleachers before both teams filed out of the gym. The girls buffeted each other as they headed for the cramped rows of lockers and began retrieving shampoo and deodorant. They were joined shortly by the cheerleading squad, and Veronica wrinkled her nose at Betty’s disheveled state.

“Ew. You look all funky.” She fanned the air. “Smell funky, too.”

“Here, give me a great big hug,” Betty teased, rushing at her. Veronica squealed and swatted her away.

“Ew! EW! Gross!”

“How was practice?”

“I’m bushed. It was good. Hurry up and change, and we’ll head to Pop’s.” Betty beamed until she added “We’re meeting Archie there.”

“Oh. Um…I might be a while. Why don’t you go ahead and meet him, and I’ll catch up to you later.”

“Betty, don’t be a goof. I’ll give you a ride. It beats walking. Hurry up!” Veronica dropped her end of the argument when her phone buzzed in her purse. “Ooh, there he is…”

Betty scrambled away and hopped into the shower, beating Midge’s lunge for it. “Sorry,” she called back. “Just be a minute.”

“I’m so funky right now,” Midge complained. “Please don’t take long.” Betty yelped at the cold spray as it hit her skin; she left her clothes balled up in a little stack just outside the curtain and her towel hung on the hook. She shampooed her hair quickly, not crazy about the idea of heading out into the chill with wet hair, but sweaty hair wasn’t much better. Her cheeks felt hot with frustration. Why did Ron have to invite Archie along?

She hurriedly dressed and yanked a comb through her damp locks, jerking it back into some semblance of a ponytail before rolling on some Speed Stick. “C’mon,” Veronica scolded. “Let’s get there before everybody else does so we can get a parking space.”

“You can go without me,” Betty reminded her.

“Why would I do that?” Veronica scoffed, nudging her. “Why’re you being weird?”

“M’not.”

“No, this is you being weird. We always go to Pop’s after practice.”

“I know.” Betty tossed her toiletries into her locker, yanked out her Jansport pack and slammed the door. “I kinda didn’t want to be, y’know… a third wheel?”

“Pfffft… no,” Veronica insisted. “No,” she emphasized more loudly. “Who says you’re a third wheel? You’re my bestie. Come and bask in all of my glory. Archie will be basking, too. You can both bask. Won’t that be great?”

“Oh, brother…” Betty rolled her eyes and allowed Veronica to link her arm through hers.

“There’s a root beer float calling your name… listen. You can hear it. Bettyyyyy… drink meeeeeee…”

“You’re twisted.”

“You love me.”

“I love you. I do. But you’re twisted.” Betty’s stomach knotted up at the prospect of seeing Archie again. She tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear as they headed to the parking lot. They saw several of their friends waving them down and getting into their respective cars: Ethel into her pink VW, Nancy into Chuck’s Prius, Cheryl into her Benz, which made Veronica tsk under her breath in disgust.

“God, I hate her…”

“You’re dad promised you a Mercedes after we graduate,” Betty reminded her.

“I know. But I still hate her.” Cheryl gave them a short wave just shy of flipping them off. Betty nodded back to be polite, but Veronica ignored her. “Ugh…”

“Be nice.” They were interrupted by the blast of a car horn, and they turned to find Archie leaning out the window of his Mustang, grinning at them.

“Thought you’d be gone by now,” he accused.

“I was waiting for slowpoke, here,” Veronica teased, making Betty roll her eyes. Didn’t she say she didn’t really want to go?

“There you go, holding up the show,” Archie chimed in. He crowed “Oooooooooooh!!!! when Betty flipped him off. “Someone’s still pissed off about that foul.”

“Someone’s still a high dribbler,” she shot back, but she was grinning. Archie chuckled as he drove up alongside them and leaned out of his window.

“See you there?” he asked Veronica. She walked up to him and bent down to give him a sloppy kiss, making Betty sigh gustily. Why did they always have to do that with an audience?

“See you in two shakes.” He drove off, and Betty heard him turn on his loud, staticky radio, blaring Nickelback as he left the lot. They climbed into Veronica’s Jeep, and just as they were buckling up, they heard another horn. Veronica peered into her rearview and made a sound of disgust.

“What’s Mantle want?” Betty craned her neck around and saw the brunet waving to them. His top was up due to the cold, and he was bundled up in a North Face jacket and a baseball cap, looking sickeningly well groomed and refreshed.

“Where you two headed?” he called out.

“Pop’s,” Ron replied impatiently. “You’re holding us up!”

“Save us a table,” he told her as he peeled out.

“Nice. Time to listen to Mantle the Mouth,” Veronica grumbled.

“You know you’re his biggest fan,” Betty teased. To be fair, Veronica and Reggie got along fine. It wasn’t much of a secret that he had the hots for her, but her longstanding obsession with Archie kept him from making much progress, particularly when there were so many other girls that were only too happy to hand over their digits, lured in by the ol’ Mantle charm.

“He’s so full of himself. He can be fun,” Veronica admitted. “But I’m not getting on that bandwagon.”

“Yeah,” Betty sighed. “No kidding.”

She watched his comings and goings from over the hedge and from her bedroom window. Reggie had been busy following his breakup with Clarissa. He was one of the only people she knew that changed his Facebook status from “Single” to “In a relationship” about every three weeks. She heard him whistling on his way out to his car around nine, and heard him pulling in slowly and quietly to his driveway around midnight, trying to open the front door with as little jiggling as possible. But she always caught him tiptoeing in after curfew, wondering what kind of fun he’d had. It had to be pretty cool, being the bad boy.

So there they were, headed to Pop’s, and Betty’s stomach was still doing little annoying jumpy things as Ronnie prattled on.

“…I’ve still got those shoes you wanted to borrow,” she told Betty.

“Huh?”

“What’s up? You’re zoning out.” Veronica’s brows drew together. “You okay?”

“I’m fine. I guess.” Betty rubbed her nape and tugged on her ponytail in thought. “I’m just tired. Whipped. They ran us pretty hard. We had a scrimmage against the boys.” Ron’s eyes widened.

“Wow! No wonder you’re worn out. Was it awesome?” She was grinning now. “All those cute, sweaty guys in shorts…”

“Sheesh.” Betty rolled her eyes, but she nodded. “Yes. Cute. Sweaty. I’ll admit it. But they handed our butts to us. Just by six points, but still… kinda sucked.”

“Wish I was on the sidelines. I would’ve rooted for you.”

“Suuurrre…” Betty gave Ron her best “not EVEN” look and made a dismissive gesture. Ron chuckled.

“I would’ve!”

“You know you would’ve been rooting for Archie.”

“Well, him, too… .I AM his girlfriend, that’s what gf’s do,” Veronica pointed out. Betty’s fuzzy glow dimmed a bit, and she lapsed back into silence. “But I would’ve still cheered you on a little.”

“You’re so loyal to me,” Betty deadpanned.

“I know. I am.” Ron kept one hand on the wheel and used the other to shake Betty’s shoulder. “You love me.”

“Yes, yes, yes… drive, woman.”

They pulled into the lot at the Chok’lit Shoppe and noticed there was already a crowd. Betty felt self-conscious about her damp hair and flushed cheeks. “I want cocoa,” she told Ron.

“Sounds good to me.” They eased into a booth in the back, and Archie emerged from the men’s a couple of moments later, then beamed.

“Hey. I already had a table over there.”

“So bring your stuff here,” Veronica told him simply. He sighed fondly.

“Yes, your Majesty.” Betty snickered at his expression, and he winked at her.

“Wonder if he ordered?”

“They can bring all of it at the same time,” Veronica said with a shrug. “He can wait for us.” She took a menu and perused it. “Cocoa still sounds good. I dunno. Eh. I might get a diet Coke.”

“It’s too cold for Coke!” Betty exclaimed. “Get something warm!”

“I’m watching my figure.”

“Pffft… I’m getting chocolate. Watch away.” Betty figured her scrimmage made the calories not count. Archie came back with his jacket and hung it over the top of the booth’s seat before sliding in next to Veronica.

“Gonna head right home and work on those free throws?” Archie teased.

“Uh-uh. Gonna work on my trig homework.” Ronnie made a face.

“I’m so glad I’m in Algebra II. Trig sounds so boring.”

“It’ll help when I take calculus next year,” Betty told her. “I’m enjoying it.”

“You sound like Dilton,” Archie teased. “Miss Big Brain.”

“Nerd,” Veronica chimed in.

“Oh, hush up, you.” Betty narrowed her eyes, and she’d already stripped her drinking straw of its wrapper. She tore off a bit, tucked it into the end, and blew a spitball at her bestie in umbrage.

“Ew… germs!”

“This one plays dirty,” Archie mentioned, and Betty blushed. Their impromptu lunch date at Pop’s came to mind, bringing memories of laughter and spilled soda. Archie cleared his throat and looked away.

“What’s UP!” Reggie hooted from the doorway. He peeled off his thin gloves and flexed his fingers, looming over their booth. “What are we having?”

“Not Diet Coke,” Betty told him avidly.

“Speak for yourself,” Veronica told her haughtily.

“Ew. ‘Diet’ anything’s just… ew.” He sneered at the thought. “You ordered yet?” He nodded down to Betty, and when he started to sit down on the edge of the booth seat, crowding her, she realized he expected to hang out with them. Flustered, she scooched over several inches, feeling awkward. “Move over, bacon,” he teased. She held up her hand to swat him, and he mock-cowered.

“Who’re you calling ‘bacon’?” He grinned at her and yanked her ponytail, and she elbowed him, hard.

“Ow… are you just gonna let her beat me?” Reggie whined to Veronica and Archie. Ronnie shook her head, bringing no sympathy to the table.

“Wuss.”

“Chump,” Archie agreed, and he gave Betty a wicked smile. Pop came by and took their orders.

“One DIET Coke, Pops, and a Caesar salad,” Veronica told him proudly.

“On a cold day like this?” he asked, but he scribbled it down anyway. “What about you, Suzy Q?”

“Hot cocoa. Extra whip. And a fry basket.” Pop smiled.

“Good choice. Archie?”

“Western burger, skip the fries. Toss a root beer next to it.”

“I’ll have what Betty’s having,” Reggie told Pop. Ronnie rolled her eyes and mimicked him under her breath in a little snippy voice. Reggie picked up one of Betty’s spit balls she’d made while reading her menu and threw it at her, and the look Ron gave him promised him retribution. He stuck out his tongue at her.

“Behave,” Pops chided them, but he was smirking. “Coming right up.”

Reggie bumped up against Betty again. “You’re hogging all the space, Blondie.”

“Um, you have plenty of room,” Betty nagged back, but she moved another half a foot. To her consternation, he followed her and shouldered up against her again. She glared at him; he smirked back. She tsked and rolled her eyes.

“Quit playing footsie,” Veronica scolded, and Betty didn’t like the gleam in her eye.

“Get a room,” Archie joked, but somehow his smile didn’t reach his eyes as he looked at Betty, and she felt herself blush again. What was his deal?

A droplet of an idea hit the surface of her mind, creating ripples. Was Archie… jealous?

Not… of Reggie?

Reggie saved her from having to recover from that awkward, shameful thought. “We’ve got a game against Central this Friday. Cheer extra loud,” Reggie told Veronica.

“I’ll be screaming my heart out,” Veronica promised, then rolled her eyes.

“You, too.” He elbowed Betty again.

“We’re playing Central on Saturday,” Betty reminded him. “I don’t hear you promising to cheer on the girls’ team.”

“Pfft… girls’ team. That doesn’t count,” he teased, but he tugged her ponytail to let her know he was kidding. “I know your game’s on Saturday. That gives you plenty of time to watch ours on Friday.”

“Sheesh…”

“You show me yours, I’ll show you mine,” Reggie told her, grinning wolfishly and wiggling his eyebrows. Betty facepalmed and ducked her head.

“Geez, I’m not hearing this,” Veronica announced, aghast and eyes round.

“Uh, I mean, I’ll come to yours if you come to mine,” he amended.

“Oh, sure, Reg, that’s what you meant.” Betty was still covering her face, but she was snickering. He poked her, and she swatted him back.

“You’re awful.”

“I’m awesome,” he corrected her.

“Noooooo… I’m with Bets on this one,” Veronica told him. “You’re a sicko, Mantle.”

“Part of my charm.”

The boys and girls chatted across each other, talking about shopping trips and sports scores respectively until their food came. Archie occasionally stole Ron’s croutons from her salad until she smacked his hand. “You’re watching your figure. I’m just helping you.”

“I know you’re watching it,” she said smugly. They canoodled and stole a kiss, and Reggie made gagging noises. Betty almost snorted cocoa out her nose. Reggie raised his brows at her.

“Someone can’t hold their cocoa. I’m cutting you off.”

“You’re such a jerk,” Betty gasped, coughing and snickering at the same time.

“I try.” They were halfway through their food when Chuck and Nancy showed up.

“Whassup!” Chuck gave his teammates fist bumps and nodded to Reggie. “Scoot over.”

“Betty’s the one taking up all the space,” Reggie insisted, and Betty tsked before she moved halfway around the circular seat. Chuck shook his head.

“Just get up, I wanna sit next to Betty.”

“Uh, no,” Nancy told him firmly, jerking her neck in a circle. He held up his hands.

“All right, all right… the lady has SPOKEN,” he amended. “Scoot, Mantle.”

“All the way over, Betty,” Nancy told her. Betty was getting tired of moving. Instead of squeezing in next to Archie so she could face Chuck, Nancy got in next to him, and Betty found herself smooshed between Veronica and… Reggie.

Well. There you go…

He was warm. Nice and toasty warm. He smelled like Old Spice body wash and detergent. “You’ll make room for everybody else,” he accused her.

“Goofy,” she shot back.

“Goober,” he challenged. He elbowed her, and she elbowed him back, and it became a little battle of I-got-ya-last.

“What’s with you two?” Chuck asked.

“She won’t stop touching me!” Reggie told him, like they were siblings instead of neighbors.

“He started it!” Betty argued.

“She farted,” Reggie told Chuck.

“Aw, girl, that’s nasty,” Nancy said, turning up her nostril in disgust, but she laughed.

“I don’t fart, I pass gas,” Betty sniffed.

“TMI,” Archie told her, but he was snickering.

Chuck and Nancy ordered hot chocolate, so they didn’t have to wait long enough that their friends would be finished first. Betty was enjoying herself, and Veronica, despite being less than enthused that Reggie was coming to Pop’s earlier, was joking with him and acting like everything was copacetic.

“Want the rest of my salad? I don’t want anymore,” Veronica told Archie.

“Nah. All the croutons are gone.” Those were the only part he liked.

“Those were mine,” she pouted.

“Awwww.” He made a little pouty face at her, then kissed her.

“No! Not kissy-face!” Reggie cried, horrified.

“You know you love it,” Nancy teased, and she gave Chuck several big, loud smoochy kisses on the cheek while Chuck made faces and pretended to struggle, but he was laughing.

“Ugh,” Betty muttered, disgusted but ready to crack up from Chuck’s expression. He turned to Nancy and rubbed noses with her, then gave her a proper kiss. “Okay, it’s just getting gross now…”

“Aw, poor widdle Bettykins,” Reggie crooned, and he threw an arm around her shoulders. Her blue eyes widened in horror at what was to come, and his embrace turned into a headlock.

“Ugh… no… nonoNO! EW!” Reggie licked her cheek, leaving a hot, wet stripe of slobber over her skin. “Oh, God! GROSS! EW!” Archie and Veronica were sitting across the way, dying.

“That’s so nasty,” Nancy repeated. “Reg, you’re not right…”

“I never said I was,” he agreed while Betty squirmed away from him and wiped her face, making “I’ve got cooties!” faces and smacking him in the chest. She knew she was even redder in the face than she’d been all day.

“Sicko,” Betty told him, echoing Veronica’s earlier sentiment.

“You taste salty,” Reggie told her innocently.

“Something died on your tonsils,” Betty told him, fanning the air. Reggie’s brows shot up, and he breathed into his palm to smell his breath.

“Now you’re just being mean,” he told her. “Jerk.”

“Creep.”

Pop slapped the bill on the table. “Let me know when you’re ready to settle up!”



When the last fragment of grease-soaked fry was finished and the leftover film of cocoa was scraped up from the rim of empty cups, they scooted out of the booth and stretched. Chuck handed Archie a five. “That should cover us, man.”

“Yup.” They low-fived. “See you guys tomorrow.” Nancy looped her arm through Chuck’s and waved at her friends.

“I’ve got French homework, but I’ll be online later. Facebook me.”

“That’s fine,” Ron called after her. “Bye, Nance.”

“Bye, babe,” Betty added. She turned to Veronica. “Ready?”

“Ready, Freddie.”

“Don’t worry about it, Ron,” Reggie piped up suddenly. “Bets can ride with me.”

“I came with Ronnie,” Betty reminded him.

“I live closer,” he reminded her, as though she were five. “Like, a lot closer.”

“That’s fine. Just get your bag from my trunk,” Veronica said, nonplussed and missing Betty’s signals of panic.

She’d rode home with Reggie before, multiple times. So why did this time make her feel weird? Like, fluttery stomach-weird. She went to hand Archie a handful of singles for her food, but Ron stopped her. “I’ve got it.”

“You don’t have to.”

“Don’t worry about it. Let’s get your bag.” The girls hurried out to the car after Veronica handed Archie a twenty. Reggie inwardly rolled his eyes that Archie was letting Veronica pay. Reggie added his cash to the kitty and headed outside while Archie settled up, jingling his car keys in his pocket.

Veronica unlocked her trunk and Betty scooped up her backpack. “Facebook me if you want.”

“I don’t know how long I’ll be. I have trig, and then laundry.” Veronica made a face.

“Yuck.”

“If I’m on, it might be late.” Reggie hovered nearby, nodding to Betty.

“Ready, Bets?”

“Uh-huh.” She gave Veronica a quick hug. “This was fun.”

“Bye!” She waved to Archie, who looked… slightly disappointed?

“Bye,” he told them as they headed for Reggie’s car. Betty waved.

“See ya.” She tried – and failed – not to stare after him from the passenger window once she’d buckled herself in. Reggie turned on the car, and suddenly she felt her seat warm up. “Ooh. This is nice.”

“The newer models have the seat warmer,” he mentioned idly. He steered them out of the lot, and he nodded as Archie waved at them both one last time from the curb.

“Must be nice,” Betty said. “At this rate, I’ll never get wheels.”

“Does that mean I hafta keep carting your behind around?” Reggie mocked, giving her an annoyed look and a heavy sigh.

“Pffft… jerk.” But she was smirking and toying with her ponytail. The ride home was cozy with his phone plugged in with a Bluetooth to the speakers so they could listen to his Spotify playlist. Betty hummed along with a Foo Fighters song under her breath.

“So you’re coming Friday?” he asked her.

“Huh?”

“The game. Against Central.”

“Oh. Well, if you want. I wouldn’t mind going to see it.”

“C’mon. Show a little school spirit, Cooper.” She chuckled.

“You never go to the girls’ games.”

“No one’s ever invited me.” He stared ahead at the road when she glanced at him, then did a double take.

“Well… you never said you wanted to go.”

“I wouldn’t mind,” he said, throwing her own words back at her.

“Well, all right, then.”

“Well, all right, then.” He mimicked her haughty tone, caught her eye, then gave her a crooked little smile.

They reached their block, and Betty almost felt disappointed. “I’m nice and warm now. I hate to have to get out.”

“So, don’t,” he suggested simply.

“Don’t?”

“You don’t have to get out yet,” he said. “How about another spin around the block?”

“I have homework. So do you.” Her lips twisted, though. “Around the block?”

“Yup.” He’d slowed to a stop in front of her curb, then took his foot lightly off the brake. To her amusement, they circled the block, and she just shook her head.

“You’re funny.”

“I can’t help it if I have all the brilliant ideas.”

“You can kind of help it,” she corrected him.

“You wound me.”

“No. You wounded ME. You could warn a girl before covering her in slobber.” He grinned.

“The opportunity was there. I couldn’t let it go.” They parked in front of her house this time, and he shifted the gear to ‘P.’ The motor was still running. “Can I talk you into one more go around the block?”

“Do you know how people would talk if they knew you and I had been around the block?” His smile faltered a moment, but there was a funny gleam in his dark eyes.

“Think they’d talk?”

“Oh, yeah.” But her pulse skipped, then tripled. “I had fun-“ Her words were cut off by the click of his seatbelt, and then hers as he hit the release button that made it automatically retract. “Oh. Hey.”

“C’mere.” Those were his fingers lightly cupping her cheek – not the one he’d licked – and he was leaning in, and now her heart was pounding in her chest, becausewhattheheckwashedoingwasthisreallyhappening-

His mouth was warm and soft. Her eyes fluttered shut as she processed the feel of him, of the lack of space between them again in his warm car, with the engine purring and music pumping from the speakers. The kiss was a soft brush of his lips, and she whimpered, unable to believe that was her own voice. He chased the sound, stroking her lips again, and slowly she got the memo and began to kiss him back.

She tasted like chocolate and salt. The small, startled sound she made was like a caress, and his insides lit up with a thousand sparks. He felt her hand drift up to his neck, lightly gripping his collar, then sliding her fingers into his hair. Her touch felt right, her mouth was inviting, and he couldn’t get enough of her scent, her taste…

“Reg,” she gasped, breaking away from him and breathing hard. “Um… I’d better… go. Thanks.” She was flushed again and hating it.

“Yeah. Okay.” He felt bereft when she took her heat away, and his neck missed the feel of her fingers. “See you tomorrow.”

“Do your homework.” She carefully shut his door and waved, looping her pack over her shoulder. “Bye,” she mouthed before she sprinted up her front walk.

“Shit,” he muttered helplessly as he pulled out of her driveway and into his. He cut the engine and just sat there for a moment as he processed what just happened.

“Shit,” he repeated.

He was so screwed.

I’ve been out on DeviantArt for several years now, and this is the first time I’m actively taking commissions, or at least offering them. (Taking them probably means someone actually requesting them, doesn’t it?) 

I’m in a bind. My oldest spawn got into a fender-bender this spring and was at fault; 'nuff said.

The nice thing about me is, I work cheap. I can’t draw anything photorealistically, but I can make a face look like a face, a foot look like a foot, etc. I love cartoons and comics, as you’ve seen from my gallery. My style is wonky and minimalist.

I may be posting this to echoes and crickets, but I am listing my junk – er, art – at the following prices. I have PayPal, and I will gladly message you my email address if you choose to commission me.

 

Anatomical-style sketches: (“superhero” stature and poses):

Nocturne revisited by originalceenote

Single figure character, full body, black and white – $10.00

Additional character, same sketch - $5.00 per figure

Color sketch, same criteria as above – add $5.00 to base price

 

“Cartoony” sketches (Muppets, Smurfs, Archies, etc.)

Fetch Me SMURFBERRIES for My PIES by originalceenote

Single figure character, full body, black and white - $7.00

Additional character, same sketch - $3.50 per figure

Color sketch, same criteria as above – add $5.00 to base price

 

I won’t charge you extra for a simple background, unless you want something complex. By “complex,” we’re talking crooked trees and a few blades of grass, or houses that look like squares topped by triangles. Seriously. Backgrounds aren’t my thing…

 

Things Cee Doesn’t Draw:

Porn. You’ll notice it vanished from my gallery a couple of years ago, to make it “work-safe.” If my friends and family can Google me, then can search my DA account, too, and question my mental health…

Full nudity. I have kids, and they use my computer more than I do, now. Lingerie or skimpies are fine.

Violence or gore.

Anything with fur.

Mechanical.

Photorealistic. Not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t.

Any racist imagery or anything overtly demonic, unless it’s an established character, like Mephisto, but knowing me, it would probably end up being a Muppet Mephisto. Just nothing too creepy, folks.

 

And that’s that. Message me here with a DA Note and include your email address that I will send your images to. I'm not interested in free requests or art trades at this time. Sorry.

Thanks! 

 

 

  • Listening to: my family watching TV
  • Reading: other people's fic
  • Watching: my hair turn gray... bah.
  • Playing: with the idea of ice cream
  • Eating: pork chop
  • Drinking: water

deviantID

originalceenote
The Great Consuming Darkness
United States
There's nothing remarkable that I can share about myself that will make this little ID box any more interesting. I doodle fan art and scribble fanfiction here and on aff. I have a Livejournal community called Padnats Forever for X-Men slash. I also write RoLo fic on the Rolo Realm under the same username I have here.

My favorite fandoms are Archies, New Mutants, X-Men, Teen Titans, Batman, Smallville, and Angel.

Current Residence: planet Earth, I think
Favourite style of art: Romanticism, pointilism or Impressionism
Favourite cartoon character: Wonder Woman or Spongebob
Interests

I’ve been out on DeviantArt for several years now, and this is the first time I’m actively taking commissions, or at least offering them. (Taking them probably means someone actually requesting them, doesn’t it?) 

I’m in a bind. My oldest spawn got into a fender-bender this spring and was at fault; 'nuff said.

The nice thing about me is, I work cheap. I can’t draw anything photorealistically, but I can make a face look like a face, a foot look like a foot, etc. I love cartoons and comics, as you’ve seen from my gallery. My style is wonky and minimalist.

I may be posting this to echoes and crickets, but I am listing my junk – er, art – at the following prices. I have PayPal, and I will gladly message you my email address if you choose to commission me.

 

Anatomical-style sketches: (“superhero” stature and poses):

Nocturne revisited by originalceenote

Single figure character, full body, black and white – $10.00

Additional character, same sketch - $5.00 per figure

Color sketch, same criteria as above – add $5.00 to base price

 

“Cartoony” sketches (Muppets, Smurfs, Archies, etc.)

Fetch Me SMURFBERRIES for My PIES by originalceenote

Single figure character, full body, black and white - $7.00

Additional character, same sketch - $3.50 per figure

Color sketch, same criteria as above – add $5.00 to base price

 

I won’t charge you extra for a simple background, unless you want something complex. By “complex,” we’re talking crooked trees and a few blades of grass, or houses that look like squares topped by triangles. Seriously. Backgrounds aren’t my thing…

 

Things Cee Doesn’t Draw:

Porn. You’ll notice it vanished from my gallery a couple of years ago, to make it “work-safe.” If my friends and family can Google me, then can search my DA account, too, and question my mental health…

Full nudity. I have kids, and they use my computer more than I do, now. Lingerie or skimpies are fine.

Violence or gore.

Anything with fur.

Mechanical.

Photorealistic. Not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t.

Any racist imagery or anything overtly demonic, unless it’s an established character, like Mephisto, but knowing me, it would probably end up being a Muppet Mephisto. Just nothing too creepy, folks.

 

And that’s that. Message me here with a DA Note and include your email address that I will send your images to. I'm not interested in free requests or art trades at this time. Sorry.

Thanks! 

 

 

  • Listening to: my family watching TV
  • Reading: other people's fic
  • Watching: my hair turn gray... bah.
  • Playing: with the idea of ice cream
  • Eating: pork chop
  • Drinking: water

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:iconsmurfette123:
Smurfette123 Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2014  Student Filmographer
Reply
:icontixielix:
TixieLix Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for another fave! :D
Reply
:iconoriginalceenote:
originalceenote Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2014
Your work definitely deserved the fave. You draw males well.
Reply
:icontixielix:
TixieLix Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
aww :hug: Glad you enjoy them ^^
Reply
:iconulfhrafn-art:
Ulfhrafn-Art Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the compliment on my gallery.  I've been a big fan of your Lomy fanfiction, and was happy to find you have a gallery, as well :) 

My muse having finally decided to pay me a visit again, I've added a couple new pix. You're more than welcome to swing on by and take a peek.  :happybounce: 
Reply
:iconoriginalceenote:
originalceenote Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Of course! And thank you! :)
Reply
:iconpink-ninja:
pink-ninja Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2013
Thanks for the fave! :D
Reply
:iconoriginalceenote:
originalceenote Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2013
Of course!
Reply
:icontixielix:
TixieLix Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the fave on my Street Fighter work!
Reply
:iconoriginalceenote:
originalceenote Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013
You are so very welcome. It's fantastic.
Reply
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