Timeline: Pre-In A Lonely Place
Notes: Character spoilers for Riverdale. Exhibitionism/voyeurism. Masturbation. Mention of Archie/Miss Grundy. For Porn Battle, prompts "betrayal, childhood, diner, fingerfucking, hair, hands off, masturbation, permission, road trip, teasing, watching".
Summary: Conversations in condensation: fingers slide through steam on a mirror, fingers slide over skin.
The first time Jughead crawls in through Archie’s window isn’t the first time at all. This is a routine they’ve been through over and over, all the way back to childhood, to skinned knees and tickle fights that Jughead always won because he played dirty.
But it is the first time since Archie screwed up, since they stopped talking and something in Archie’s chest grew tight and tense and empty. It is the first time since the apologies, since things started to grow warmer again between them - not quite what they had before but good enough that the emptiness in Archie’s chest is just a chasm now, not an endless abyss.
The light in the room is faint, moon and stars and streetlights and the screen of Archie’s phone, but he can still see how thin the line of Jughead’s mouth is, how dark the circles under his eyes are. He doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know if there’s anything he can say that will bring Jughead’s shoulders down from around his ears.
Archie used to be good at this: reading Jughead’s silences, knowing all his moods. But now his confidence is gone, and he’s scared that he’ll get it wrong and make everything worse.
So he watches Jughead kick his sneakers off in silence, and when Jughead flops down on the mattress beside him, Archie can smell trees and evening mist and fresh earth on his clothes.
Jughead’s head rests against Archie’s shoulder, his knees pulled up towards the ceiling and one of his feet tapping against the sheets. “Hey,” Archie murmurs, because he has to say something, but his quiet voice sounds too loud, and Jughead turns away from him, settling too close to the edge of the bed.
He hasn’t even taken off his hat.
Archie sighs; his chest aches faintly.
“Good night, Archie,” Jughead says, the words sounding like the firm end of a conversation they haven’t had.
When Archie wakes up the next morning, Jughead’s gone, the mattress already cold where he’d slept. The shower is wet and slippery, Archie’s towel damp, and there’s a hand-shaped smear across the mirror. When they were younger, they’d write messages there during sleepovers, secrets that would only be revealed by steam.
Maybe Jughead just wanted to use the mirror and got tired of waiting for the steam to clear on its own. Or maybe he left Archie a secret, but changed his mind and wiped it away before he left.
They don’t talk about it at school. Archie’s as lost for words as he had been the night before. He keeps feeling like there’s something he’s missing, something terrible, and all he can think about is the shape of Jughead’s palm streaked across the mirror, the potential secret that he decided Archie didn’t deserve to see.
It’s later the next night, two o’clock in the morning by the time Jughead climbs in through the window.
Archie’s been waiting for him, although he doesn’t realise it until he hears the sound of the ladder against the frame.
Archie pulls back the sheets, while Jughead toes off his shoes and pointedly doesn’t catch Archie’s eye. This time Jughead turns his back to Archie straight away, and Archie’s fingers twitch, his chest throbs, and he rolls over on instinct, wraps an arm around Jughead’s waist, the other wedged awkwardly between them, and buries his face against the back of Jughead’s neck. Not really thinking, but it feels right, and after a long moment Jughead sighs and pats the back of Archie’s hand where it’s splayed across his stomach.
The fabric of his t-shirt is soft and worn under Archie’s fingers, and the nape of Jughead’s neck smells faintly of Archie’s shampoo.
“G’night,” Jughead whispers, and it’s sleepy and not nearly as final as it had been the night before.
Archie swears he hears a laugh on the huff of Jughead’s breath when he presses his smile against Jughead’s skin.
He dreams that night about the road trip that never was, their fourth of July weekend that Archie stole from them both. Archie dreams about them in the car, windows rolled down and a sheen of sweat across Jughead’s collarbone. He sees dusty fields and green trees whizzing past them, crappy Eighties songs on the radio that they only know half the words to. He sees them taking photos of weird road signs and buying terrible souvenirs. He sees them in diners, cheese fries and milkshakes between them, talking about how they’re betraying Pop’s by eating anywhere else.
And Archie sees that look in Jughead’s eyes, sees the way he means that Archie betrayed him, and Archie’s chest is on fire, he can’t breathe.
He wakes up with both arms crushing Jughead to him, the sound of his own breathing wheezing in his ears, Jughead’s fingernails digging into his wrist.
“Archie!” Jughead hisses, and Archie forces himself to ease his grip, even though he doesn’t want to, even though he wants to hold Jughead closer still.
“Sorry,” he mutters, and his voice sounds thick and rough and wrong. “I’m … I’m sorry for…”
Jughead shakes his head lightly, the hair that’s escaped his hat tickling Archie’s nose. He wishes he could see Jughead’s face. “I know, Archie,” Jughead says quietly. “Go back to sleep, okay.”
Archie doesn’t think he can, but Jughead’s thumb rubs circles over Archie’s knuckles, and as soon as he closes his eyes Archie can feel himself fall.
There are no more dreams that night, and in the morning the words ‘good morning’ are waiting for him on the mirror. It’s not a secret, but it’s a start.
The next night it’s only a little after midnight when Jughead appears. It’s unseasonably hot - Archie would have left the window open even if he wasn’t hoping for a visit. This time Jughead shrugs off his shirt as well as his sneakers, down to a black t-shirt and his jeans. He frowns when he sees Archie’s arm stretched out across the space where he usually lies; it turns into a roll of his eyes when he notices Archie’s smirk. But he lies down anyway, Archie’s arm fitting just right between his chest and the mattress instead of caught uncomfortably between their bodies, and Archie’s other arm drapes over the place where Jughead’s waist curves inward.
“Is this why all the girls are after you?” Jughead teases quietly. “Because you’re such a cuddler?”
Archie doesn’t answer, because suddenly Miss Grundy’s shadow seems to loom in the room with them, the air cooler even though it’s still just as hot outside. Jughead goes rigid in his arms, like he can feel Geraldine there too, a ghost they’re both scared to acknowledge.
“Good night,” Jughead says, and Archie squeezes his eyes shut and nods, nose brushing against Jughead’s shoulder. But he doesn’t fall asleep - he can’t. He keeps thinking about the nightmare from the night before, about the road trip he cancelled to be with Miss Grundy.
He should have been with Jughead, he should have been a better friend.
There’s a lot of things Archie should have been - it’s been one failure after another recently.
He focuses on Jughead instead, on the rise and fall of his chest beneath Archie’s palm, on the way his t-shirt feels softer against Archie’s bare skin than his shirt did. In the meagre light he can see the faint twist of a dark curl of hair, the roundness of Jughead’s shoulder, the line of his arm. When he does sleep, it’s fitful, twisting and fidgeting, burrowing closer to Jughead’s body despite the heat that’s chased away Miss Grundy’s presence in the room but not in Archie’s mind.
He dreams about her, about the way she moans, the arch of her back, the windows of her car steaming up around them. Archie sees secrets there, Jughead’s fingers leaving words for him in the condensation that Archie can’t read no matter how he squints. Miss Grundy calls his name, and Archie wants to be with her, he wants her so much, but in the dream he knows that Jughead is just outside the car in the dark, lost and lonely. Archie’s looking for him, desperately searching through the foggy windows; when he looks down Geraldine is gone and it’s Jughead staring up at him, Jughead’s skin against his own.
Archie wakes with a start, heart thundering. He’s scorching hot and freezing cold at once, panting for breath, and he realises that Jughead is both awake and a solid ball of tension at the same time that Archie realises he’s hard.
“Archie,” Jughead mutters, like he’s about to tell Archie to let go, like he’s about to leave.
Archie’s hips roll forward - he can’t stop them anymore than he can stop his next breath. Jughead inhales sharply, and Archie hears himself make a soft noise. His hand fists in Jughead’s t-shirt; his hips twitch again.
This isn’t a first, either. There have been too many sleepovers for it to be, and even if one of them offered to sleep on the air-mattress they always wound up in bed together. They never talked about it, those mornings when Archie woke up hard, his body pressed against Jughead. He’d use the bathroom, jerk himself off in the shower, or over the toilet if it was too early to run the hot water. No big deal, just teenage boys being teenage boys.
Except, now he’s thinking about it, it was only ever Archie. He can’t remember feeling Jughead hard against him. He can remember a lot of mornings, though, when Jughead was miraculously out of bed and dressed before him. Archie’s never been a morning person, so it didn’t seem weird that he was slower to wake up, but Jughead’s never been a morning person either so maybe it was weirder than Archie ever thought to acknowledge.
But now Jughead’s hand is on his wrist, dragging Archie’s hand down, shoving it between Jughead’s legs to cup where he’s hard too beneath his jeans, and Archie can’t bite back his groan of, “Oh, fuck.” He palms Jughead’s cock through the denim, his hips grinding forward against Jughead’s ass, and they’re both trying to be quiet but their breathing sounds so harsh and laboured that Archie’s sure everyone in the street must be able to hear them panting.
His mouth slides across the back of Jughead’s neck; Jughead’s whole body undulates, his head snapping back fast enough to thud dully against Archie’s forehead. He doesn’t care, doesn’t want to stop, but it makes Jughead jerk forward, makes him untangle himself from Archie’s arms, stumbling to his feet at the side of the bed.
Jughead looks down at him; Archie stares back, eyes wide, lips parted, sheets pushed away and legs sprawled open. “Jughead,” he tries to say, but it comes out almost like a whine, and Jughead staggers backwards like Archie’s hit him, pushing the ball of his hand against his eye.
“I have to -” Jughead starts, sounding strained.
“Please don’t leave,” Archie begs. His chest feels like it’s caving in.
“What do you want me to do?” Jughead rasps, trying for sardonic but too shaken, his eyes glassy in the moonlight. “Go jerk off in your bathroom, and then crawl back into bed like everything’s fine?”
Archie barely hears the second part - a groan rips its way free at the thought of Jughead jerking off in his bathroom, and his hand pushes down against his crotch, rolling the heel of his hand there the same way Jughead had rubbed at his eye.
“Christ, Archie,” Jughead murmurs, sounding awed for a moment, and when he tears his gaze away it’s like Archie can feel the effort involved.
He swallows; it’s loud in the silence.
Archie doesn’t know he’s holding his breath until Jughead moves towards his bedroom door instead of his window. He opens it near-silently, and when he looks back Archie can see the flash of teeth against Jughead’s lower lip. Archie rocks his palm down again, hips bucking up into the pressure, and for a moment Jughead just rests his forehead against the edge of the door, eyes shut and breathing raggedly.
He disappears into the hallway, and Archie’s head falls back against the pillows. His other hand slides hurriedly beneath the waistband of his boxer-briefs, precome damp against his fingers. He fists his cock roughly, the image of Jughead’s face seared across the back of his eyelids. In his mind he sees Jughead in his bathroom, hand splayed against the mirror, jeans around his knees and his face flushed pink.
Archie wants to know how Jughead strokes himself, wants to match the pace. He thinks it’d be fast, or maybe that’s just what Archie wants right now, wants to come so bad it hurts. He feels shaky, like he’s never been touched before, like he’s never touched himself, and the thought of Jughead walking back through the door before he’s finished makes him need to roll on his side and bite at the pillow.
He fucks his fist with the scent of Jughead on his sheets, barely remembering to reach for a tissue in time, and he fights so hard to keep from moaning Jughead’s name that his throat burns with it.
Archie’s breathing is almost under control when Jughead comes back, closing the door gently behind him. He’s still anxious that Jughead might leave, but he doesn’t, heading back for his spot on the bed, and Archie shuffles to make room for him. They settle back in their usual positions, not acknowledging the sheepish way they try to fit together. Archie keeps his hips back, but Jughead catches his wrist before he can place his hand in its normal spot above Jughead’s heart.
“You’re not getting your grubby hands all over my clothes, Andrews,” Jughead deadpans, and Archie snorts, the sound turning into something more like a giggle which he muffles against Jughead’s shoulder.
“Your fault they’re dirty,” he replies, even though he cleaned them with the tissue, even though he’s the one who started the whole thing.
Jughead sighs with fake drama. “You’ve got a point,” he concedes, and then he’s raising Archie’s hand, dragging his tongue across Archie’s palm, and for a long second there’s nothing in Archie’s mind but the buzz of white noise. “All clean.”
“Oh God,” Archie hisses, and Jughead laughs. So it seems only fair to shove his hips forward, his cock pushing against Jughead’s ass where Archie’s only barely started to soften. It makes a spark of electricity shoot up his spine, too over sensitised for that kind of friction again so soon, but it cuts Jughead’s laughter off into a gasp, so it’s worth it.
Archie tries not to sound too smug when he whispers, “Get some more sleep, Jughead.”
They do, or Archie does at least. An hour, maybe an hour and a half before his alarm goes off. Jughead’s gone, and Archie has to force himself out of a bed that smells like Jughead and sex.
There’s a message on the mirror - Archie doesn’t even have to steam it up, it’s still clouded from Jughead’s shower. He can’t have woken up much earlier than Archie did.
‘Thought of you while I did it,’ the mirror tells him, and Archie jerks off in the shower, forehead against the tile as he imagines Jughead imagining him, trying to picture the face Jughead makes when he comes.
He sees Jughead at the diner that afternoon, and Archie wants to ask if he’ll be there that night, but it feels unfair, like it’s too much pressure to say it out loud. So he says it with his eyes, or tries to, but Jughead barely glances in Archie’s direction, looking at Betty or Veronica or Kevin instead.
It’s not even one o’clock when Jughead climbs through the window that night, but it feels like the latest visit yet. Archie’s been sat up in bed, composing a speech in his head, putting it to music when the words get too difficult. He wants to tell Jughead that if he doesn’t want to continue whatever they started, he doesn’t have to, and he shouldn’t feel like he has to stop coming over because of it. But if they do continue, Archie knows they need to talk about it, not just wait until they both wake up hard and wanting, yet he’s not sure how to actually say any of that without sounding like he’s drawing lines in the sand.
He just doesn’t want to screw this up, even though he doesn’t even know what this is.
But he doesn’t get the chance. Jughead tugs off his shirt and holds Archie’s eye and asks matter-of-factly, “Do you want this?”
And Archie nods, too hard and too fast, feeling suddenly young and embarrassed by how much he wants it under the weight of the way Jughead’s looking at him, serious and calculating.
His throat feels dry; it gets drier when Jughead unbuckles his belt and flicks open the zipper of his fly.
“Lie down,” Jughead tells him, and Archie nods again but he forgets to move when Jughead shoves his jeans down around his ankles. His legs are long and pale, and he kicks the denim away distractedly before he moves closer.
Archie stares up at him, already breathing quicker, and when Jughead’s hand presses against his chest he leans into it.
“I told you to lie down.” Jughead’s voice has that familiar mix of annoyance and exasperation, the fondness beneath it like a secret on a bathroom mirror that only they can read, and Archie blinks, shuffles back on to his elbows, stretches his legs out and finally lies down, all while staring up at the unreadable expression in Jughead’s eyes.
He feels his breathing hitch as Jughead straddles him, stomach muscles twitching as Jughead lowers his weight there, his boxers a thin barrier between their skin. Archie’s eyelids feel heavy, his mind feels light, hands moving towards Jughead’s hips, but Jughead stops them.
His fingers are thin and warm when they wrap around Archie’s wrists. He thinks of them the night before, taking Archie’s wrist just like this before Jughead had pushed it down so Archie could feel how hard he was, and his hips shift impatiently at the memory. But this time Jughead pushes his hands up, over Archie’s head, leaning down until Archie can taste toothpaste on his breath.
Jughead’s t-shirt gapes at the neck, his hair and hat framing his face, and the way he looks at Archie makes him want to writhe.
“Keep your hands to yourself,” Jughead says, and his fingers let go of Archie’s wrists to trail over his forearms and down over his elbows.
Archie’s teeth dig into the inside of his cheek; his fingers dig into the pillow.
Jughead touches him. Slowly, too slowly, and so light that Archie can barely feel it. Fingertips brush down his chest, over the lines of his ribs, and whenever Archie tries to press up into them they pull away. He’d think Jughead was teasing him on purpose, but there’s something so quiet and still about the concentration on Jughead’s face, something so sincere. It only falters when a thumb slides too close to Archie’s nipple and he makes a soft, helpless noise, arching as he tries to chase the sensation. Jughead blinks quickly, eyes darting up to Archie’s face, and his mouth twitches at the corner right before he pinches the nipple between his thumb and forefinger. Hard.
His other hand slaps down over Archie’s mouth a little too late to entirely muffle how damn loud his moan is - they both stare at each other with wide eyes, straining to listen for anyone who might have heard them.
When Archie’s dad doesn’t stir, Archie nips at the base of Jughead’s fingers and grins at Jughead’s answering frown.
The grin dies when Jughead asks, “You looking to use your mouth?”
He thinks about Jughead’s mouth, about his tongue dragging over Archie’s palm, about how there might still have been the faint trace of come on his skin, and his hip roll up suddenly enough that Jughead’s knees have to squeeze at Archie’s sides to keep his balance.
“I’ll take that as a yes, then,” Jughead mutters, and Archie opens his mouth to agree but two of Jughead’s fingers push past his lips. Not too fast, not too deep, but Archie’s eyes flutter closed, mouth pursing, sucking at that clean salt taste.
Jughead angles his fingers until Archie’s head is tilted back against the cushions, the line of his throat bared. He licks between each finger, shivering at the ticklish feeling of Jughead petting his tongue, dragging his teeth a little because it makes Jughead push in a bit more.
Archie chases the fingers when they slip free, kisses at Jughead’s palm, licks at him the same way Jughead had done the night before. Moving his mouth blindly until Jughead pulls it away, and when Archie opens his eyes the skin is spit-slick and shining.
Jughead’s pupils are blown, his mouth open as he breathes roughly, watching Archie’s lips and tongue with a kind of hunger that makes Archie squirm between his legs. Jughead raises himself up on his knees a little, his other hand pushing the waistband of his boxers down so he can draw out his cock, deep red against his white fingers, and Archie whines and reaches for him, but Jughead fixes him with a glare that makes Archie’s hands freeze in the air.
“Hands off,” Jughead insists, and Archie forces himself to push them back down again on either side of his head, fisting at the pillow. “You’re just watching.” Jughead’s wet finger leaves a trail down the centre of Archie’s chest. “Tonight you just … Just watch, okay.”
Archie nods; whatever Jughead wants from him, he’ll give it, no questions.
Jughead’s gaze drops to somewhere around Archie’s collarbone, inhaling deeply, and then his eyes fall shut as his hand wraps around his cock. Archie cranes his head a little, looking down the length of his own body, watching how Jughead just holds himself for a long moment before he finally starts to stroke.
That white noise buzzing is back, and Archie’s blood feels like it bubbles and boils beneath his skin.
He watches, gripping the pillow so tight it’s a miracle it doesn’t tear, as Jughead jerks off for him, because of him. Jughead’s head stays bowed, his socks scratching against the side of Archie’s legs as his toes curl. He’s slower than Archie thought he would be, but every stroke of his fingers is tight and twisting, and Archie’s spit can’t be enough to make it comfortable but Jughead doesn’t seem to care. There’s precome beading at the slit, but Jughead ignores it, and Archie licks at his lips like his mouth is watering, still clinging to the pillow.
He whimpers like he’s the one being touched when Jughead’s hips buck, when his head falls back and he starts to rock on his knees. Jughead’s free hand braces against Archie’s chest, and Archie doesn’t understand what this is, doesn’t understand why he’s not allowed to touch. Maybe it’s a punishment, and he doesn’t know if that scares him or turns him on more, but he can hear every faint noise Jughead fails to swallow down, and Archie’s skin prickles with sweat, and he needs.
“Please,” he manages to rasp, but Jughead shakes his head and strokes himself faster, nastier. “Please, let me -”
“No,” Jughead growls, and he’s looking Archie in the eye again, his gaze like flames that burn down all Archie’s defences. “You watch, watch until I come.”
“Wanna see,” Archie agrees, words tumbling out of him, no idea if he’s making sense. “Wanna see you lose it.”
He’s not expecting the way that makes Jughead gasp, hips stuttering up, head falling back again and fingernails leaving marks over Archie’s chest.
Archie doesn’t know where to look: at Jughead’s face, the way his brow is bowed and furrowed, the way he looks so open and lost; at Jughead’s hand, stroking faster, almost desperate; at Jughead’s cock, pulsing and slick between his fingers. Jughead’s come splatters over his own stomach, over Archie’s, and that’s all the permission Archie needs. Jughead said to watch until he came, and another string of jizz is still streaking over Jughead’s fingers when Archie reaches for him.
He grabs Jughead’s hips, pushes him back and down just enough that his weight is across Archie’s crotch instead of his stomach, and his hips are jerking up before gravity’s finished settling Jughead in place.
He doesn’t mean to moan again - Jughead slaps a hand instinctively across Archie’s mouth again, and they both freeze, dazed with lust but also suddenly really alert, because it wasn’t Jughead’s clean hand.
Archie’s eyes squeeze shut, keening against Jughead’s palm as he opens his mouth and tastes.
His fingers dig into Jughead’s hips, rocking him down and thrusting up against him, mouthing at Jughead’s hand. There’s Jughead’s come smeared across his lips, bitter, saltier than he’d expected, but so fucking good, and Jughead’s watching him and riding him and Archie’s gone. His mind is empty in a way it hasn’t been since the summer started, nothing but feeling and friction and Jughead’s fingers pushing back between his lips where they belong. He comes with Jughead’s gaze so intent on him it’s like he’s memorising every detail of Archie’s face, and he’s probably left bruises on Jughead’s skin but he can’t even bring himself to feel guilty about it.
They flop down together afterwards. Jughead yanks off his now-stained t-shirt, and Archie kicks off his boxer-briefs, even though it feels like it takes far more effort than usual, and curls up naked against Jughead’s back.
In the morning, Archie’s drawers are open where Jughead helped himself to a t-shirt, and the mirror reads ‘your turn next time’.
Archie can’t focus in school, and he’s a mess during football practice. He gives up on trying to play guitar, lets Betty coax him to Pop’s, and ends up in a booth with her and Jughead, who smirks and jokes and acts totally normal, except for the fact that his heel pushes between Archie’s legs during dessert and almost makes him choke on his Coke.
He’s a ball of nerves while he waits for Jughead that night, and Archie can feel himself grinning like an idiot as soon as the ladder touches the windowsill. He waits until Jughead’s inside before he crosses the room, one hand stroking up Jughead’s arm, leaning in, but Jughead steps away with a sharp shake of his head.
He’s not looking at Archie, but instead looking out of the window, across the street, at Betty’s house. His expression is withdrawn, his voice dull when he says, “On the bed.”
Archie does as he asks, sitting cross-legged as he watches Jughead move until he’s out of sight of the window. He starts to strip again, the same routine as the night before - sneakers, shirt, jeans. Socks too, this time, then his t-shirt, and Archie pushes up on to his knees and snatches Jughead’s hat from his head.
Jughead blusters a little, but he’s smiling as Archie tosses it aside. He doesn’t miss the way Jughead’s eyes follow it, making sure he knows where it lands.
Jughead never used to care where his stuff ended up in Archie’s room, but he also never used to sneak out before anyone woke up. And he never used to sleep in his hat or his jeans or with his sneakers carefully positioned by the window, as if ready to run at a moment’s notice and wanting to make sure nothing gets left behind.
Archie doesn’t know what Jughead thinks might make him need to leave so quickly, what he might be running from, but Jughead’s almost naked now, so maybe for tonight at least escape isn’t on his mind.
Jughead makes a feeble attempt to bat Archie’s hands away when Archie pushes his fingers into Jughead’s hair, but he soon sighs and allows it. It’s as soft as Archie remembers it being when they were kids and Archie would find excuses to touch it, dark and wavy and springy between his fingers. Archie coaxes at Jughead until he can press their foreheads together, even though it means Jughead’s having to stoop at little to match where Archie’s still kneeling on the mattress.
“You getting all cuddly again?” Jughead breathes. Whatever quiet and dark mood he bought through the window with him melts away under Archie’s fingers, and Archie smiles and gives his hair a quick, pointed tug just to hear him grumble good-naturedly. “Let me on the bed already.”
Archie does, and Jughead watches him shrewdly as Archie pulls at his hip and pushes at his shoulder until he has Jughead on his back. He swings one leg over Jughead’s lap, taking Jughead’s wrists in his hands.
“You said it was my turn,” Archie reminds him when Jughead raises an eyebrow at him.
Jughead inhales and exhales slowly through his nose, somehow making the act of breathing sound sarcastic. “That I did,” he agrees. “You gonna make me watch?”
Archie shakes his head. “I wanna touch you,” he admits, and his tone feels like it sucks all the light-heartedness from the room, too longing, too needy. “Is that okay?”
There’s no sarcasm in Jughead now; his breathing sounds like an attempt to steady himself. “Yeah. Yeah, it’s okay,” he says quietly, and Archie doesn’t wait any longer, can’t wait. He swaps Jughead’s wrists into a one-handed grip, pushes them down above his head in one swift motion as Archie pushes up on his knees to give himself room to reach down between Jughead’s legs. He cups him there, same way he did two nights ago, and Jughead’s already half-hard under his palm.
“I wanna touch you,” Archie says again, and Jughead nods distractedly, raising his hips obediently when Archie’s fingers hook under the waistband of his boxers.
Archie releases Jughead’s wrists so he can strip him, gaze raking over his body, and then lies across him, chest-to-chest, groin-to-groin, legs tangled together, and this is what Archie should have done two nights ago. Instead of grinding against Jughead’s ass, he should have rolled him over and looked him in the eye and let him see how much he turned Archie on. This is what he should have done the first time, the first not-first time several nights ago; he should have pushed Jughead on to his back when he tried to turn away from Archie, should have told Jughead how much he wants him, how he’s always wanted him, even if he didn’t quite know it himself.
It’s always been there, younger and more innocent, but there all the same. It was there in their booth at Pop’s, shoulders pressed together as they pretended to study but never got any work done. It was there on summer afternoons swimming at the lake, playing fetch with Vegas in the water. It was there in the way Archie always found excuses to touch Jughead’s hair. Archie didn’t see it then: didn’t see the way he always sat closer than necessary; didn’t see the way he was so fascinated that first summer Jughead grew a trail of dark hair beneath his belly button; didn’t see the way he always wanted to caress the part of Jughead he kept hidden under his hat all day.
Archie sees it now, though.
He kisses Jughead, tangles one hand in soft hair and grips his hip with the other, and Jughead freezes for the barest of moments before he’s kissing back, leaving three long stripes down Archie’s skin as he claws at Archie’s back.
Their hips roll together - Archie’s still wearing his boxer-briefs, and they both scrabble together to shove them down his legs without breaking the kiss. If last night was a punishment, this feels like a reunion, and Archie’s chest doesn’t feel empty, it feels full, and he keeps grinning against Jughead’s mouth.
Jughead responds by biting Archie’s lower lip, and Archie sees red spots dance across his eyelids, hips grinding forward hard enough to make Jughead groan around his tongue. His hand slides down over Jughead’s thigh, gripping behind his knee to pull his leg up. The back of Jughead’s calf wraps around Archie’s legs, and it makes it easier to move together, both fully hard now, getting slick together, his cock rubbing at the hollow of Jughead’s hip before sliding to nudge against Jughead’s dick.
“Please,” Archie mumbles, not even sure what he’s asking for, just knowing he wants everything. “Please.”
“Touch me,” Jughead hisses. “You wanted to touch me - do it properly.” Always so damn bossy, but also always the smartest of the two of them, and Archie does as he’s told, reaching between them.
They both gasp in unison when Archie’s hand wraps around them, holding their cocks pressed together, so hot against his fingers. Their hips don’t quite move in sync, Archie moving too fast, Jughead not being able to get the leverage, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s perfect. He moves over Jughead, breathing the same air, feeling Jughead’s hands roaming over his back, over the shifting of muscles. Archie’s legs are shaking already, but not from exertion, from the knot of pleasure that seems to draw tight at the base of his spine and his balls and his ass.
He kisses Jughead when he comes, maybe moans his name, Archie can’t be sure, blissed out and soaring. He keeps stroking until he can’t come anymore, until it makes him whimper, and then he lets himself go and jerks Jughead off, watching him buck off the bed as he shoots hard enough to paint his own chest.
Archie uses his t-shirt to clean them off, or tries to. Jughead has to snatch it from him and finish the job, because Archie is boneless and exhausted and he can’t stop smiling.
He doesn’t let Jughead turn his back this time. Instead he pulls at him until Jughead’s ear is pressed to Archie’s chest and Archie’s chin brushes the top of his head.
“Cuddler,” Jughead accuses like it’s the worst insult ever, and Archie falls asleep grinning.
Archie wakes up to the feeling of Jughead easing himself out of Archie’s arms. He’s groggy, blinking sleepily as the blur of Jughead’s face comes into focus.
Jughead strokes hair off of Archie’s forehead. “Go back to sleep, Arch,” he mutters, and Archie does, and when his alarm goes off he can’t be sure if the moment wasn’t a dream.
The mirror teasingly sneers ‘Archie Cuddler Andrews’ at him, and Archie grins around his toothbrush, his chest feeling warm.
He’s in a disgustingly good mood the whole day: Betty laughs when he picks her up and spins her around in greeting, Veronica asks him what he’s on and where she can get some, Kevin looks like he doesn’t know whether to smile fondly or throw up. Jughead laughs along when the others poke fun, and Archie presses their knees together under the table at lunch and feels like everything is finally how it’s supposed to be.
Jughead doesn’t show up the next night.
Archie falls asleep at about three; in the morning the message-free mirror shows the shadows under his eyes, the pale pall to his face.
But at school Jughead acts totally normal, talking quietly with Betty or exchanging retorts with Veronica or swapping murder theories with Kevin. Archie wants to ask where he was, why he stayed away, but the more normal Jughead acts, the more Archie worries that he’s the one acting strange.
There’s no reason Jughead has to come to his room every night. There’s no reason Archie should be freaking out over one skipped visit when Jughead never made any promises to be there.
“You okay?” he asks Jughead when they get a second alone before fourth period, and Jughead just shrugs casually and nods like he’s not even sure why Archie’s asking.
Archie’s skin prickles faintly; a hollowed-out sensation spreads through his chest.
It’s even later when he falls sleep the next night, creeping closer to four in the morning. Jughead never shows, and Archie wakes up exhausted and anxious and miserable.
Jughead’s still his usual self at school, right up until Archie manages to corner him alone. “You okay?” he asks again, same as yesterday, because he doesn’t know how else to say it, doesn’t know to put it into words that he thought he had Jughead back, thought he had something even better than before, and he can’t cope now it’s gone.
Jughead’s passive mask vanishes - he looks annoyed, detached, and Archie recognises it as the expression Jughead gets when he’s caught in a conversation he doesn’t want to be part of. “Why wouldn’t I be okay, Archie?” he says, voice flat.
Archie doesn’t have an answer to that, but he knows why he isn’t okay. “I missed you,” he blurts out, and Jughead frowns and looks away, jerking his backpack strap higher up his shoulder.
“I don’t have to come by your house every night,” Jughead replies, looking down the hall, across at the lockers, anywhere but Archie’s face. “I have my own place to sleep, you know.”
There’s something about the twist of his mouth when he says it that makes Archie hesitate, that sense that he’s missing something flaring up all over again the way it did after that first visit. “Will you come over tonight?” he asks, trying not to let too much longing seep into his voice, but Jughead sighs and leans back against the lockers like he’s heard it anyway.
“No,” Jughead tells him blankly. His voice drops lower: “I’ve got stuff to think about.”
Archie instinctively wants to ask what stuff, wants to ask if he can help, but he knows he’s already pushed this conversation too far - any more and Jughead might pull away completely, instead of offering what little information he has. So Archie nods and moves back, watching as Jughead steps around him and heads for class, and that night Archie sleeps in an empty bed, his window left wide open and a chill seeping into the room.
He stares at the steamed up mirror in the morning, reaches up and scrawls ‘come back’ across the surface. His writing is messier than Jughead’s, and when he wipes the words away it reminds him of the smear of Jughead’s palm after that first not-first night; Archie’s eyes sting.
He knows he’s being quiet at school the next day, everyone shooting him looks of concern. At lunch Archie braces himself, forces himself to smile, to relax into the conversation. He doesn’t want Jughead to feel bad about Archie feeling bad, after all, so Archie jokes and fools around with his guitar and tries to be normal, even if there’s an ache deep in his heart that squeezes tighter with every breath.
He’s tell himself he’s not expecting Jughead that night; he’s still disappointed when Jughead stays away.
The next day is the start of the weekend, but it’s also more of the same: Archie trying to pretend he’s okay, the others looking at him like they know it’s not.
Maybe this is his new normal. Maybe it’s what Archie deserves, after everything he did this summer.
Over dinner, his dad gives him that same look, like he knows Archie’s twisted up inside but he’s not going to push until Archie’s ready to talk about it. He claps Archie on the shoulder after they’ve cleaned up, and they watch football on TV in companionable silence, and it’s kind of exactly what Archie needs.
He struggles to settle once he’s gone to bed, though. He thinks about going for a run, because that always clears his head. But the thing about a clear head means his legs would probably take him straight to Jughead’s place, and he knows just showing up at the trailer will cause trouble. If Jughead wanted to see him, he’d be here, and the last thing Archie wants is to set off one of FP’s moods.
He sleeps eventually, although it’s fitful, light enough that the sound of his window being pushed open jerks him awake. There’s water dripping off of Jughead’s hair as he climbs inside; Archie can hear the soft sound of rain outside.
He sits up, watching as Jughead yanks off one shoe. Archie’s heart is in his throat, and when Jughead catches his eye it’s like Jughead’s whole expression just crumbles in on itself. He lurches forward and Archie’s already on his feet, and Jughead’s skin is cold and wet and his mouth tastes like rain.
Archie moans into the kiss, and Jughead’s fingers make him shiver when one hand slides around the back of Archie’s neck.
Getting undressed takes longer than it should - Archie’s only in his boxer-briefs, but Jughead’s only removed one shoe, and his clothes cling damply to his skin. It doesn’t help that Archie can’t stop kissing him, pressing his mouth everywhere he can reach, licking droplets of water from his shoulder and mouthing at each revealed freckle.
Jughead’s trembling a little by the time he’s naked, lying on the bed on their sides, face-to-face, and Archie knows he should fetch a towel but there’s nothing on Earth that could make him leave the bed, so he snags an old t-shirt and uses it in an attempt to dry Jughead’s hair. He wants to take a picture of the way Jughead’s nose screws up, the way he frowns but doesn’t look the slightest bit mad.
“Why do you always wanna touch my hair?” Jughead huffs, leaning into the way Archie ruffles the t-shirt fabric behind his ear.
“I like it,” Archie replies simply, voice probably a little too earnest, and Jughead gives a small smile and lets Archie finish. His hair is still damp, but it’s not dripping on the pillows anymore, so it’ll do.
He wants to kiss Jughead again, and he knows Jughead would let him, would be content to fall right back into each other’s arms and pretend the last few nights apart never happened.
Instead he asks, “Did you … think about stuff?”
Jughead’s eyes drop to a random point on Archie’s chest. “Yeah,” he admits, voice hushed.
“Wanna talk about it?” Archie coaxes. He wants to know what’s on Jughead’s mind, wants to help him. But too much passed between them over the summer, and he’s not sure he has the right anymore. “I mean, you don’t have to if you want.”
Jughead exhales through his nose. One of his hands reaches up to loosely circle around Archie’s wrist; Archie’s dropped the t-shirt he used as an impromptu towel, but somehow his fingers have found their way back into Jughead’s hair without him noticing.
“I’ve just got a lot on my mind,” Jughead says. “And you’re part of that. And I guess avoiding you meant avoiding thinking about it. But it also sucked for me. And I know it sucked for you.” He chews his lip a little around a sheepish smile with no real mirth to it. “Sorry.”
“Don’t apologise,” Archie insists quickly.
Jughead shakes his head, dislodging Archie’s hand. “Why not, when you’ve been apologising so damn much. I know you’re still feeling guilty about the summer, I see you beating yourself up about it.” He grips Archie’s bicep, staring at him hard. “I need to know, is this happening because of that guilt?”
Archie blinks in surprise. “Wait, what?” he manages, voice a hoarse croak. “Why would I …? Dude, you know I wouldn’t …” He lets out a shaky laugh, rubbing a hand over his face. “I woke up dry-humping you, I almost came just from the thought of you touching yourself, I start getting hard the moment you get near my bed, do you seriously not get that I want you!?”
Jughead’s pupils dilate as he talks, gaze dropping to Archie’s mouth then back up to his eyes. “Yeah, I -” He stops, licking his lips and swallowing. “Okay, yeah, I get it.”
“What about you?” Archie asks. He feels nervous all of a sudden, like there’s a lot more to this conversation than he can keep track of. But he’s also relieved, because they’re talking, really talking, and maybe that means everything will be okay. “What do you want?”
Jughead swallows again, his eyes flicking towards the window for a brief moment. “That’s part of what I’ve been thinking about.” He takes Archie’s hand absently, rubs a thumb over Archie’s knuckles the same way he did to soothe Archie back to sleep. “There’s a lot I want, not just to do with you but … But to do with all sorts of shit, and I’m fucking tired of not getting it.”
“So ask,” Archie tells him softly. “I can’t fix everything, but when it comes to me, you can tell me. What do you want?”
Jughead breathes out calmly, his fingers squeezing Archie’s hand. “I want you to fuck me,” he says, and it feels like the room lurches around them, Archie’s mouth falling open, his head spinning. His hips snap forward without his permission, and he’s been steadily ignoring how being naked in bed with Jughead has been affecting his body, but there’s no ignoring the insistent throb of his cock at Jughead’s words.
He makes himself pull back, knowing his eyes are wide and dark, and Jughead looks back at him with that determined set to his jaw that’s always been a sure sign Archie’s about to find himself in trouble.
“You heard me,” Jughead says stubbornly, and when Archie just stares at him, that white noise in his ears again, Jughead nudges his shoulder and reaches across the bed to grope at Archie’s bedside table.
“You -” Archie feels like he’s gaping, looking up at Jughead as he leans across Archie’s body. It takes him a couple of tries to get the drawer open one-handed, but then he’s reaching in, pulling out the lotion Archie keeps there and slapping the bottle against Archie’s chest.
Jughead’s eyes are hooded; he’s still half-draped across Archie’s body, and leans down to kiss him slowly, softly. “Fuck me, Archie,” he murmurs against Archie’s mouth, and this time he’s ready for the answering rock of Archie’s hips, riding the motion and grinding back against him. “That’s what I want.”
Archie’s hand settles against the small of Jughead’s back, looking up into his face. “I want that too, I do,” I says, and Jughead huffs out a laugh, shaking his head because he already hears the ‘but’ coming. “But …” He draws in a deep breath, trying not to get distracted by the way Jughead’s weight feels above him. “I don’t think we’re ready.” He hurries on, even though Jughead doesn’t look annoyed or upset by his answer. “I mean, I know I’m not ready. It’s taken us this long just to talk about everything, and I’ve already done the rushed thing once.” His hand slides over Jughead’s skin - he means with Miss Grundy, yes, but also the nights with Jughead where they should have cleared the air before letting sex take over. “I want to take my time with you.”
Jughead makes a vague humming noise, but he’s got that fondness in his eyes, looking at Archie like he’s more special than Archie feels he could ever actually be. “Okay. Well.” Jughead tilts his head a little, shifting his body so his cock presses into the skin of Archie’s hip. “I don’t wanna push, but maybe we could start working towards being ready…?” He trails off with a smirk, and Archie beams up at him, because this is what their relationship is, or was before the summer. Knowing each other’s feelings, understanding the things that aren’t said and saying the things that need to be said. Jughead gets him, and Archie’s missed that like oxygen.
“What did you have in mind?” he grins.
Jughead fumbles for the lotion where it’s slid across the mattress, never breaking eye contact. “Well, if I’m gonna be ready, I guess we could start with some stretching…” He trails off again, waiting the split second it takes for the meaning to register in Archie’s mind, and then laughs at the way Archie’s eyes fall shut and he swears roughly.
“Yeah, we,” Archie stutters, “we can do that. Definitely.”
They rearrange themselves so Jughead’s on his back, Archie kneeling between the sprawl of his legs. His hands feel clumsy around the lotion bottle, shaking a little, until Jughead pushes up on one elbow, reaching for Archie with his other arm. Their kiss is deep, and it warms Archie all the way down to his toes. They wind up tangled together, kissing slow, and there’s no shake to Archie’s hand this time when it moves across Jughead’s ass, palming him roughly before his thumb brushes down between his cheeks. It makes Jughead squirm against him, and when Archie touches him there again a little firmer, Jughead grunts and bucks back against his hand, his teeth digging into Archie’s lower lip.
The lotion winds up everywhere, because Archie’s too preoccupied by an ill-timed scrape of Jughead’s nails across his side and squeezes the bottle too hard. Jughead snorts at him, but Archie’s lotion-covered hand wrapping around Jughead’s cock makes him moan and buck, and somehow it turns into a weird slippery battle of lotion-covered touches.
It seems right that they’re both grinning and flushed with laughter as well as lust when Archie slides the first finger into Jughead’s ass.
Jughead bites his lip, one lotion-slick hand reaching up to grab at the pillow. His body arches; Archie watches the stretch of skin over his stomach with hungry eyes, and he doesn’t even care that it tastes a little like lotion when he leans down to run his tongue over the trail of hair beneath Jughead’s belly button. The space around his finger is tight and searing hot, feeling velvety-soft as Jughead clenches a little around him, and there’s already sweat along Archie’s forehead and beading between his shoulder blades.
He kisses Jughead as he works his finger deeper, every hitch of Jughead’s breath warm across Archie’s mouth. Jughead’s making a soft noise on every exhale, his eyes gone glazed, and Archie has to slow the roll of his own body where he’s grinding his hips against Jughead’s thigh. They’re on their sides again, but he eases Jughead backward until he’s mostly on his back.
Archie’s just as slow as he slides his finger free, but the sound Jughead makes when it leaves his body still makes Archie’s eyelashes flutter, his cock pulsing. He changes the angle, pushing his hand up between Jughead’s legs instead of down across his back, and it’s still just as shockingly hot when Jughead opens up for his finger again. He moves leisurely, pushing deeper and then withdrawing shallowly, just watching Jughead’s expressions, the twitch of his brow and the hazy sheen to his eyes and the way his mouth falls open the more of Archie’s finger he takes.
He’s careful when he pushes in with a second finger, and for a moment it’s too tight and Archie’s sure there’s no way it could fit and the last thing he wants to hurt Jughead. But then the muscles relax around him and Jughead makes a noise like a sob, and Archie has to kiss him, feels like he won’t be able to breathe unless he takes the breath direct from Jughead’s mouth.
Jughead comes with two fingers moving shallow in his ass and his hand in Archie’s hair and his moan lost against Archie’s lips.
Archie’s left so turned on he’s trembling, but he keeps every movement slow and careful as he eases his fingers free. Jughead pulls him close, and Archie pushes his face against Jughead’s throat and lets his body do what it wants, move the way he needs. It’s still slick between them with lotion, and Jughead’s thigh is wedged between Archie’s legs. “Wanna do that to you, wanna open you up on my fingers,” Jughead whispers, and Archie’s heart skips, his ass clenches, wanting that so suddenly and so violently that his orgasm feels like it’s torn out of him, too wound up to hold on, vision whiting out and Jughead’s arms tight around him.
He’s still shaking when his vision starts to clear, like his body can’t even take all that pleasure. Jughead’s arms are still holding him, and there’s no teasing this time when Archie snuggles closer - apparently they’re both cuddlers.
They’re also both sticky and kind of gross, but neither of them is complaining.
He feels like he’s drifting, not quite awake and not quite asleep, caught in this lazy state in-between, Jughead’s heart beating steadily beneath his ear. Jughead fidgets a little as he gets comfier, their skin sliding, and Archie laughs when he mumbles, “Fucking lotion.”
“Hey, can I ask you a question?” Archie says, fingers trailing over Jughead’s ribs.
He thinks it’s probably his imagination when Jughead’s pulse seems to speed up beneath him. “Yeah, sure.”
“When you stayed over in the past,” Archie begins, thinking back over far too many sleepovers to count, “did you ever … you know. Did you ever wake up hard?”
“You mean like you did?” Jughead teases, scratching at Archie’s scalp in a way that makes him want to shut his eyes and purr. There’s a long pause. “Maybe. Yeah. But I had the decency to take care of it before you woke up.”
Archie laughs. “But you let me suffer through the embarrassment of thinking I was the only one?” He pushes up a little, the movement taking way too much energy, so he can look Jughead in the eye. “You know, if you hadn’t hidden your morning wood, maybe this would have happened sooner. You cock-blocked yourself, Jug - think about that for a moment.”
Jughead sniggers at that, his hand resting lightly on the back of Archie’s neck. His eyes crinkle at the corners, and Archie’s chest feels almost too full, like he can’t contain all the emotion there.
“If you came over every night, I’d really like that,” Archie admits quietly, “but I know you won’t. And that’s okay.” He smiles crookedly. “I know FP and your mum will be pissed if you’re out every night, right?”
Jughead’s gaze drops, falling quiet, and there’s the threat of a chill suddenly creeping up Archie’s spine. It’s the wrong thing to say - he knows it is the moment the words are out of his mouth, even if he doesn’t know why.
But then Jughead looks at him, his hand brushing hair from Archie’s forehead the way he had that morning Archie wasn’t sure if he was dreaming. “I can’t come by every night,” he agrees. “But I’ll come when I can.”
Archie’s throat is dry; he almost doesn’t want to ask, but he forces himself to. “Will you come tomorrow?”
Jughead smiles at him, slow and small and sweet. “Yeah, I promise.”
The next morning Archie has to scrub dried lotion off his skin.
The mirror tells him ‘see you tonight’, and Archie smiles and knows everything is going to be alright.