Day 8

Title: Day 8
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Riverdale
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Jughead/Archie
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: After a falling out, Archie attempts to repair relations with Jughead. Jughead's cold changes his approach.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2019-20 project project for Anonymous

Archie stood in the doorway of Pop’s, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet. This was the first place he’d thought of to check for Jughead, but that didn’t mean he was actually prepared to have found him. He hadn’t had a chance to work out what to say yet, and he wasn’t at all sure Jughead would even want to see him. He tried to remind himself that Jug was his best friend and that he could tell him anything, but everything that had gone on over the past few years seemed to have created a wall right in the middle of their friendship. 

It wasn’t a big wall—not high enough that they couldn’t see over it. But it was a wall made of brick and long enough that it took some time to walk around. If Archie managed to get to the other side, he would find Jughead sitting there in his Serpents jacket. Hunched over a mug of coffee he was holding between both hands. He didn’t look like he wanted company, and the last time he’d tried to approach the guy, it hadn’t gone so well. Of course, the fact that Jughead had been sick with the flu and running a fever hadn’t helped any. Maybe now he’d be more in the mood to talk?

“Hey, son! You’re letting all the cold air in. Shut the door, would ya?” shouted a patron a few tables away. Archie saw Jughead’s head rise to look over. A flash of recognition filled his eyes before he dropped his head, staring back down at the table and the coffee and the paper placemat and the spoon and his hands. Realizing he was still standing in the doorway, Archie quickly stepped forward, letting the door close behind him with a dramatic bang. Then, with a deep breath, he headed over to the booth where Jughead sat, pushing against the invisible brick wall barrier the whole time. 

“Is this seat free?” Archie asked, gesturing to the bench seat on the other side of the table. 

Jughead shrugged. 

“Can I sit here?” 

Jughead shrugged again then brought the mug to his lips for a small sip. Steam still rose from its surface, so he must have ordered it recently. 

It wasn’t an all-out ‘no’ or anything worse, so Archie took that as a good sign and took a seat. “Look, I know there’s been some tension between us recently about—”

Hehddddggshuhhhh!” Jughead pitched forward, catching the sneeze in one hand while pulling a napkin from the metal dispenser against the wall with the other. He wiped at his nose, wincing, and then he balled the napkin up. He rose in his seat, sliding his bent leg underneath himself and going up on one knee. Leaning over the back of the seat, he pushed open the swinging door of the trash can holder and dropped the napkin inside. Then he sunk back down in his seat with a sniffle. He rubbed two fingers under his nose and held them there. 

Archie’s heart raced. The last time he’d seen Jughead was weeks ago; somehow, he was still sick. “Haven’t you been able to shake his bug this whole time?” 

Jughead gave another sniffle. “That was the flu. Sniff! Sniff! This is a cold. Sniff! Cabe dowd with it just a couble days after I started feelidg better, because I obviously have the best luck.” He laughed in a self-deprecating sort of way, which ended in coughs. He moved his hand to cover his mouth with a fist and turned to the side to cough. 

In profile, Archie got a better look at him. The fierce red of his nostrils. The paleness of his complexion. The slight bags under his eyes. He didn’t look great, especially the way he was shaking with deep, moist coughs, but Archie wasn’t sure he’d ever seen Jughead look more attractive. 

Archie got up and headed to the counter, returning seconds later with a plastic cup of ice water.  He slid it over the table with an urgency that tipped the cup a little and caused a few drops to run down the side. “Here’s some water, if that’ll help.”

Jughead shook his head, still coughing. He reached out for another napkin and, after his fingers fumbled with the napkin holder and its tightly packed contents, he finally brought one to his face. He hunched over again, further, trying to hide himself a little behind the table as he blew his nose. 

The sound sent shivers of excitement up Archie’s spine and made the rest of him feel warm, overheated. Quickly, he slipped his letterman’s jacket off and set it on the seat beside him. He was sure his cheeks were fiery red to match his hair by now, but if Jughead noticed, he didn’t say anything. He just chucked the used napkin into the trash and settled back down. 

“The flu was… bad. But this cold is just sdeeze after sdeeze. I’b so codgested, I cad’t eved sleeb.” He took a sip of the water and shivered violently, definitely not like the pleasurable jolts Archie had just experienced. He stared back down at the table, whispering, “So cold.” 

Damn. Grabbing his jacket, Archie got up and slid onto the seat beside Jughead, ignoring what had separated them as if that brick wall weren’t even there at all. It was a tight fit on one side of the booth, the two of them hip-to-hip, but Archie immediately felt Jughead lean into him for warmth. Archie draped his jacket over Jughead’s stomach and lap, tucking the sleeves around him as if it were a blanket he needed to keep in place. He didn’t stop there, however. He rubbed his hand in a circle on what part of Jughead’s curved back was accessible and not pressed to the back wall of the booth’s seat. 

He gave it a minute or two. Jughead’s weight against him was familiar and welcome. He found himself craving it even as he was feeling it. Or else he was craving more. He wanted to pull Jughead onto his lap and hold him tight, his muscular arms encircling the skinnier frame. He wanted to bury his face against Jughead’s neck and hear each breath in and out, anticipating that little gasp and hitch that meant a sneeze was on its way. He wanted to guide Jughead’s head toward his chest to hide him away from any embarrassment and muffle his sneezes in the soft cotton of his shirt. 

“Arch,” Jughead whispered at last, closing his eyes. “Don’t.”

Archie stopped rubbing, but kept his hand there, covering the head of the serpent on the back of the jacket. It looked far less threatening without a head. “What’s the matter?” 

“You’re too close. You could catch my cold.” He sniffed, and the sound went straight to Archie’s heart, making it thump so hard he was sure Jughead could feel it if not hear it. 

“Don’t worry about that.” Archie tried to sound full of reassurance instead of full of lust, but he wasn’t sure he managed it. If they weren’t in Pop’s… and if he could be sure Jughead wouldn’t slug him… Archie would kiss him for being so considerate and thinking of his health. It was just like Jughead to worry about anybody but himself. Jughead was always there, trying to do the right thing, to hold his family together, to not betray his gang, to protect his friends. 

“Of course I’b worried about that. This cold is… is-hehhh is...” But whatever it was, Archie never found out, because Jughead couldn’t continue. Archie could fill the blank with a whole host of adjectives, though: adorable, exciting, and sexy being among the first few to come to mind. But he didn’t say any of these out loud. Instead, he reached past Jug and pulled a napkin out of the dispenser. Wondering how many of these Jughead had gone through since he sat down, Archie held it to Jughead’s nose just as he let out the sneezes. “hehhhhGIHShhhh! Heptttshuhhh!” 

Archie wiped Jughead’s nose for him as he pulled the napkin away and saw Jughead wince again from the touch. Clearly, he’d been through a lot of these napkins before Archie had arrived, and his nose was sore and irritated from the harshness of the paper. He needed good, soft tissues. He needed a warm place to curl up and get some sleep. And he needed Archie to swoop in like a knight in shining armor and save him. There wasn’t much that Archie had done right lately… but he could do this. “Gesundheit,” Archie murmured into his ear. He followed it with, “Let me take you home.” 

Immediately, Jughead shook his head. “I’b all sdeezy. It would’t be fair to you.” 

“What isn’t fair is me not being able to hold you and do what I need to make you feel better.” He lowered his voice to the softest of whispers and touched his lips to Jughead’s ear. “What isn’t fair is you driving me crazy with these amazing sneezes, and I can’t do anything about it because we’re in a public place.” 

Jughead whipped his head to the side, narrowing his eyes at Archie. “What?” 

“I want to take you home and get you into bed.”

Jughead shook his head. “Archie… you dow I dod’t—”

“I know. And I wouldn’t dream of asking you to. I’m not talking about sex. I just want to get you tucked into a nice, warm bed with a box of tissues and watch you sneeze until you fall asleep.”

“I… cad’t sleeb. By dose is too stuffy add the tickle…” He trailed off, watching Archie’s reaction closely. “The tickle is so strodg. I just cad’t stob sdeezidg for lodg.” 

Archie exhaled hard, tilting his forehead and resting it against Jughead’s cheek. “You’re driving me crazy here, man.” Jughead sucked in a sharp, involuntary breath, and Archie grabbed another napkin, pressing it to Jughead’s nose both helpfully and apologetically. 

Ehhppttttshhhh! Hedjjjjshhooo! Hihshooo!” 

“Gesundheit,” Archie barely managed to choke out. His whole body thrummed with arousal and excitement and utter pleasure. Trying to calm his body down, he carefully wiped Jughead’s nose for him, but the way Jughead tilted his head forward into the touch, snuffling and sniffling at first then sighing when his nose felt dry, did nothing but excite Archie more. He had to get out of here. And he had to take Jughead with him. “I’ll stay with until you fall asleep, however long that is. If you can’t sleep, then that’s just more sneezes for me to enjoy. You can rest in my arms, and I can wipe your nose for you.”

Jughead looked dubious. When he sniffed instead of replying, Archie wiped his nose for him again, as promised, and Jughead’s expression softened just a little.

“You’ve no idea how happy that would make me. And maybe I don’t deserve to be happy, after all that’s happened. If that’s the way you feel, I’ll understand. And I’ll go. I’ll leave you to your…” He looked down at the mug, surprised to see it was just hot water, not coffee. He really must have been chilly. “To your drink,” he finished. “And your napkins and whatever else. But if you can find it in your heart—”

“Take be hobe.”

Archie blinked, not daring to believe it. 

“Would it really bake you habby?”

Archie nodded vigorously. 

“Thed let’s go.” 

They went. 


The inside of the trailer was as cold as the outside, and by the way the light did not flicker on when he hit the switch, Archie had a good idea why. He held his tongue as he walked Jughead to his bed on the far end, which wasn’t much more than a pull-out heaped with blankets. Jughead hung his jacket up on a hook as he kicked off his shoes. Shivering, he stripped off his jeans and the flannel that had been tied around his waist, leaving them in a pile on the floor. He quickly climbed into bed and burrowed under the covers. “Cobe id with be?” Jughead asked, lifting up a corner of a blanket. 

Archie hesitated, and Jughead’s face fell, hope giving way to extreme disappointment. 

“If you dod’t wadt—”

“I want,” Archie tried to reassure him, hoping it wasn’t too late. He sat down on the bed; he could feel the springs through the thin mattress. “I want very much. But before I get all comfortable with you in bed, I’m going to make a quick run to the market. Unless you’re on a baking soda and ketchup-only diet, you’re out of food, Jug.” 

He mumbled something about not being hungry. 

“Yeah, if the sneezes weren’t a dead giveaway, now I’d know for sure you’re sick.” He felt Jughead’s forehead for fever, but it was cool enough. 

“But there are… are sneezes. Hehhhh!” He instinctively brought his hand up to cover his nose and Archie wished he wouldn’t. 

Archie’s heart thumped hard with anticipation. Seeing Jughead sneeze any sneeze was magical, but knowing he was about to sneeze let him experience the wonder from the first second to the last, wondering what it would look like and sound like, take it all in when it finally hit, and then savor the memory as it echoed through his mind.


“Gesundheit.” He said it automatically, though the rest of him felt frozen to the spot. He wasn’t sure he could leave after all. 

Sniff! I’ll try dot to sdeeze too buch while you’re gode,” Joghead promised. “As lodg as you hurry back to be.” 

Not only hot but needy, too. This man was marvelous. If this were anyone else, he’d lean over and kiss him, but he knew Jughead would toss him out if he tried. And after getting back on track, Archie didn’t want to throw it all away. “You’d better believe I’ll hurry.” He reached down and slid Jughead’s cap off. He set it on the little ledge above the bed. Then he ruffled Jughead’s already messy hair. Jughead closed his eyes, smiled, and cherished the touch. Archie definitely wasn’t sure he could leave now.

“Go,” Jughead told him. Jughead lifted two fingers and pressed them to his nose. 

Wanting to make Jughead happy by hurrying, Archie raced out of the trailer. On the short drive to the market, he placed a call to the power company. And at the store itself he glided down the aisles with his toes on the back of a shopping cart, grabbing for things off the shelves as he passed them. He was back at the trailer in less than half an hour with bags clutched in each hand. 

The first thing he noticed upon his arrival was that the heat was back on. If Jughead had realized this, he didn’t say anything. But he had come partly out from under the covers and had taken off his t-shirt, leaving himself in a white tank. He lay on his side, head on his only pillow. One of his bare arms was above the covers now, hugging a blanket to his chest. Archie traced the curves of his bicep with his eyes. But Archie also couldn’t help but notice Jughead’s other hand, with two fingers still pressed up against his nose. His whole body was jerking and swaying a little with hitching breaths that were only barely controlled. 

He looked up at Archie, who melted at once at the sight. Archie scrambled to stash the perishables in the fridge and freezer and grab a box of tissues before squeezing into the small bed behind Jughead. “You all right?” Archie whispered into Jughead’s dark hair. 

Jughead tried to answer. “T-tryig ehh! dot to heh-eh! sdeehh-sdeeze. Did’t wahhhh wadt you to hehh! biss ady.” 

Archie slid an arm around Jughead, rubbing his upper arm a few times before wrapping it tightly around his torso. With his other hand, he helped apply some pressure to Jughead’s nose. 

Jughead sighed with relief. 

“That feels good?” 

He didn’t dare move his head to nod. “Feels… excelledt. Hih! Hih! HIHHH! ‘Cebt that I still hahhhh-hahh-have to sd-sdeeze.” 

Archie pulled his hand back and ripped the cardboard tab off the top of the box of tissues. He pulled a thick, lotion-infused tissue out and got it to Jughead’s nose just as he lost control entirely. “HEHHTCHTTTTTT! Hehhggtttchhhh! Ehhhgggtchooo! Oh… sniff! hepp-GIHShhhooo!” 

Archie rubbed Jughead’s bare arm. “Gesundheit. Here.” He handed over another tissue so Jughead could blow his own nose. 

When Jughead was done, he relaxed back against his pillow and against Archie. Archie’s excitement was hard to miss, and it made Jughead tense slightly. But Archie held him tight and Jughead eventually relaxed back into the embrace, ignoring Archie’s physical reaction to all this.  “Whed I get over this cold, we’re goidg to talk about this, right?” 

Face flushed, Archie was glad to be able to bury it against the back of Jughead’s head, nuzzling hair and neck. He couldn’t make any promises, because he wasn’t sure how to explain any of this out loud in a way that made any sense at all. 

Hehh!” Archie grabbed another tissue and held it in front of Jughead’s face, leaving enough room to see that wonderful twitching nose. “HEHPPPTshhoo! ehtshooo!” 

Quickly wiping his nose for him afterward, Archie whispered another, “Gesundheit” followed by. “Let me know when you’re feeling hungry, all right? I can make soup with or without sandwiches. I also got some breakfast foods—frozen waffles, eggs, oatmeal, dry cereal, milk, bread, jam. And there’s everything we need for burgers with all the fixin’s and french fries to go with that ketchup already in the fridge. I got some pretzels and crackers if you just want a snack—”

Archie broke off at the sound of a light snore. Jughead had said he wouldn’t be able to fall asleep, but Archie really wasn’t surprised. All it had really taken was a warm embrace and his favorite bedtime story: a list of foods. Archie kept a tissue in his hand, wanting to have it ready when Jughead woke up.