Chapter One

There's a pool of blood in the basement of the Whyte Wyrm surrounding a red haired teen who, for a heartstopping moment, he thinks is his former friend from the Northside Archibald Andrews.

But it's not. And this is not where the story really starts.

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His name is Forsythe Pendleton Jones III, but no one calls him that, not even his old man. Everyone simply knows him as 'Jughead' a name given in honor of the beanie on his head he's almost never without. He grew up the best friend of Archibald - "Archie" - Andrews in the Northside of Riverdale.

Archie seemed like the kid with everything - the beautiful perfect girl-next-door that Jughead had a crush on liked Archie; his dad wasn't a drinker like his; and Archie's clothes always looked like the best quality. Archie did well enough in school to not get in trouble with the teachers, but was popular enough he never had to deal with bullies.

And maybe Jughead's life wasn't that bad. So what if he got in trouble for 'almost setting the school on fire?' They were just matches. And so what if everyone thought he was weird and his only friend in that whole school was Archie? - not even the girl he crushed on really saw him. Ever.

But the real problem was his dad - who had too many bills to pay, and not enough income - that turned to The Serpents - a gang from the Southside. His dad got into too much trouble with the law and ended up getting fired from his job.

And then his dad started drinking, they lost the house, they moved to the Southside - into a tiny trailer barely big enough for him and his dad, let alone his mom and little sister.

Jughead didn't even blame his mom when she left with Jellybean.

And Jughead would have left too. Except then a miracle happened.

It didn't seem like a miracle at the time when a couple of really tall scary guys stopped by the trailer a week after his mom left, just as Jughead was about to run away. Honestly, it seemed more like a curse.

After they'd shoved their way past Jughead, they started shaking his dad, who was lying on the couch downing whiskey with tears in his eyes.

"C'mon, FP. Wake up. Get up 'n' at 'em. No more drinking, it's time to move on."

"Leave me alone!" it was painful watching his father as tears slipped down his face and he reached for another bottle of whiskey which was too far away.

"C'mon FP. You know the Law. 'No Serpent Stands Alone.'"

And they took the alcohol away. And they made his dad take a cold shower. They cleaned up the trailer a bit. And one of them stuck with his dad for a straight week, promising him it'd be okay and making sure he didn't drink again - helping him apply for other jobs.

It was in watching that that Jughead decided maybe his dad's Southside Serpent days may have been his downfall, but they were also his salvation.

And that law about not standing alone? Jughead took it to heart.

Jughead didn't put up a fight when they set him up at the schools in the Southside, even though he left Archie - after all it was Archie's dad that fired his - and even though he was saying goodbye to the girl-next-door for good. But things seemed to be getting just a little bit better as time went on.

He made new friends: Sweet Pea, Fangs, Joaquin, and Tony who were just as much loners as he was. They were initiated into the Southside Serpents together. They dealt drugs - but not the hard stuff - together.

And for once, Jughead felt like he actually belonged, especially after his dad became the leader of the Southside Serpents. Which made him the prince.

Didn't mean anything in the Northside, but it definitely meant everything here.

So when Jason Blossom stopped by the Whyte Wyrm three years after Jughead's family left the Northside, as Jughead and his friends hung out outside, Jughead felt a rush of adrenaline and jerked his chin forward, feeling even more confident with Joaquin, Fangs, and Sweet Pea behind him, backing him up.

"What are you doing here, Blossom?"

He didn't say anything for a hot second, then, "I need some money."

Which was bull because Jason Blossom didn't need money - he was the richest kid in Riverdale.

"That's not true and you and I both know it."

Jason didn't say anything for a good while, "My girlfriend's pregnant. My parents and the Coopers aren't exactly understanding. So we're getting away and -"

Even as Jason speaks, Jughead starts to tune it out. Because the Coopers? They're the parents for the girl-next-door. The girl he was so certain liked Archie, but that he wished liked him back. And she ended up with Jason. It makes him a little sick to his stomach. She must have a thing for redheads. Which he is most definitely not.

"Follow me." He tells him as he heads into the Wyrm to find his dad playing pool and thankfully not drinking.

"What do you need Jug?"

"This kid here needs some money to go behind his parents' backs. He got his Cooper girlfriend pregnant."

There's something in FP's eyes - as if he knows Jughead is upset about the "Cooper girlfriend," so when Jughead's dad turns his attention to the redhead, Jughead's not exactly surprised at the words coming out of his mouth.

"I suppose I have a job for you. If you don't mind making a delivery for me that is."

Jughead knows exactly what kind of delivery it is that his dad had in mind.

Jughead was sent away after that, but since it was summer he stayed close by. And then roughly a week later, Jughead spied Joaquin go into the cellar, following his dad. And Jughead followed.

Which brings him to the blood pooled around Jason's head and the complete fuck up that is his life.

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He doesn't say a word to his dad as he helps Joaquin and his dad move the body to the freezer, despite the fact he can feel his dad's eyes on him the whole time. He doesn't say a word as he and Joaquin scrub the blood off the floor with clorox.

He doesn't even say anything when he and his dad get back to the trailer.

"Well?"

His dad does instead.

"What's there to say?"

"You're not going to ask?"

Jughead sighs, "Did you do it?"

"No!" his dad actually sounds offended.

"Then it doesn't matter."

It doesn't matter that he helped cover up a murder. It doesn't matter if his dad killed Jason Blossom or not. The fact of the matter is he did, and his dad didn't - and none of that changed the fact that his dad needed help.

His dad takes a bottle of pop from the fridge - not beer, never beer anymore - and hands Jughead one too. And despite the queasy feeling in his stomach from having moved a dead body, Jughead takes a sip and starts watching a football game on the tv with his old man.

It almost feels like a normal Summer night.

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