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Heart's A Mess

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Ignore: Hey, I meant to text you earlier. Did you maybe want to meet at the library after school?

Partner: ew. Why there? I'm not trying to stick around the main halls any more than I already have to.

Ignore: Sorry, I thought it'd be more convenient. Maybe my room then? Is that okay?

Partner: maybe.

Partner: depends on what it's for. (; lol

Ignore: The project... What else would it be for?

Partner: (;

Partner: oh that thing. boo. what else is there to talk about?

Ignore: What do you mean?

Partner: like. what do we talk about? isn't it just some dumb volunteer thing?

Ignore: We kind of have to establish what we're doing first and it isn't dumb. Besides the fact that it's required to graduate, it'll actually look good on your resume and it's a satisfactory thing to do. Have you never volunteered before?

Partner: whatever. sometimes i kiss boys, does that count as charity work? i'm busy right now but fine i'll show up at yours. swing me a time.

Ignore: Why would that - never mind. Anytime before 7 is fine. Fourth hall from the cafe, rm 417, can't miss it. I'll see you then.

 


 

 

Whoever this Josie girl was seemed to hold little to no relevance to Penelope, because the brunette just couldn’t bring herself to remember that she had made plans with the other girl after school. Had it been an assignment that didn’t affect whether she were to graduate or not, she wouldn’t have even considered agreeing to go out of her way to make such arrangements. She had things to do, people to do, which is what she wanted to say to tease Josie in their earlier text thread but decided against it. Yet since it was completely otherwise, it left her abruptly breaking away from a heated kiss with a sophomore from Mystic Falls High named Sarah at 6 o’clock, and out of her door minutes later with a very cheeky “see you around, Samantha!”.

One lengthy bus ride later accompanied by her depleting lack of urgency had her strolling back to campus and to Josie’s room at a leisurely pace despite it being just a quarter to 7. Of course she knew she wasn’t supposed to be off campus, but she’d learned a spell or two that kept Mr. Saltzman out of the know.

On the way back to ‘headquarters’ as she jokingly deemed the school, she’d stopped by a bodega and picked up snacks just in case she’d have to deal with being reprimanded for her tardiness– Penelope was lazy, but she knew when she didn’t want to get an earful and bearing gifts (along with her incessant and undeniable charm) often got her of the hook.

She rapidly knocked on the girl’s door twice before settling to lean against her doorway with crossed arms, already deeply immersed in her thoughts.

Did Josie know who she was? Did the girl really think that Penelope would fully apply herself to this just because it was a requirement? She was sure her reputation didn’t precede her. And if the girl had anything to discuss, why didn’t she just call her instead of having Penelope come over to her room? The last thought made an amused smirk tug at her lips while she eyed the door and waited, her imagination taking her elsewhere for a few moments.

On the other hand, for the most part, Josie was looking forward to this whole volunteering project. She often would assist her parents when she was younger but now between school work, and applying for colleges, she rarely had the time to dedicate as much to it as she wanted to so of course she was greatly appreciative for the task now, regardless of it being an assigned project or not. It baffled her why she would need a partner, though. Especially considering she wasn’t able to choose said person – her twin, Lizzie, and herself were always partners for as long as she could remember…and Josie barely knew anything about this Penelope girl.

Although they had a few classes together that she rarely ever spotted her in, the two had never even remotely said two words to each other before now. Not that, that was unheard of for Josette. She was used to being in the shadows. That was just how it’d always been and frankly, she was okay with things being that way…according to her twin, Lizzie, it was something about sticking to the status quo, something or another. However, she tried to keep her nerves at bay and just focused on the prospect of making a new friend.

After grabbing two bottles of water, the brunette made her way to the couch in the corner of her shared room, checking the time on her phone every so often. She figured maybe something had come up but Penelope hadn’t texted her so instead, she decided to take it upon herself to text the other girl. Just as she opened the texting app on her phone, she heard the knocks against her wooden door. Sitting her phone down, she rushed to the door, not even bothering to ask who it was to reveal the person in question.

“Hey. I was just about to text you.” She greeted as she stepped aside to allow her more room to enter.

“So, had you given any thought to what you might want to do?” Shutting the door behind herself, Josie made her way back over to the couch and beckoned for the other to join her.

Penelope’s idle gaze caught Josie’s and she offered nothing more than a smile while she stepped in, some relief relaxing her posture at the other’s overall pleasant attitude. In fact, enough relief had filled her to assume her natural attitude once more once she spun around to look around the room from the front door. She watched the other walk away before she wandered around the room, taking in everything that was displayed, in great detail. There was silence between the two for those few moments save for the small snickers that would escape her when she saw humorous family pictures lining the walls.

“Nice space.” She quipped as she finally made her over to join the taller girl and plopped down on the far end of the couch with a grunt.

The girl stared intensely at Josie while she attempted to remember what the other had asked her while she was exploring her dorm, then finally blurted out a quick “Uh, I don’t friggin’ know.” Her answer didn’t seem satisfying enough, so she sighed and slouched further into her chair with an indifferent expression.

“There’s options, right? I only remember helping out at the children’s shelter one years ago. You been thinkin’?”

Josie watched Penelope as she made her way through her room, a perfectly arched eyebrow quirked in the other girl’s direction all the while. She was always a bit eery about having new people over but when Penelope didn’t make any smart remarks, it eased her a little. “Um, thanks.” She flashed a soft smile before getting right to the point.

“Yeah, of course there’s options. A children’s shelter would be really great but I was thinking more along the lines of an animal shelter. I think they will benefit more. We can walk them and feed them and help them not feel so alone, y’know?” Just the thought alone caused her to become all giddy inside.

Reaching beside her, she grabbed a pad and a pen from the end table and began to jot down ideas. “I’m up for whatever you may want to do, though. There’s the elderly center and the women’s shelter and tons of other places. I don’t think it really matters, they’re all good picks.” Josie continued to write down things before returning her attention opposite her. “Do you have a preference for any of them?”

The moment that Josie began to list options off, they all just sounded like different, dumb forms of responsibility that Penelope wasn’t at all willing to take. There was no way that she was actually going to show up to these things and it seemed that Josie was just way too nice to even say anything to her about how Penelope was failing to take any sort of initiative. Penelope watched her speak for a beat or two before she took out her phone and began to look through her texts. She barely paid attention to the other girl in favor of responding to a few flirty texts, a coquettish look etched across her features while her thumbs tapped away at the screen.

“Animals sounds like the best bet… walking dogs... petting animals and stuff...” She murmured somewhat passively, her distant tone easily giving away her disinterest towards the assignment. It’s not that she really cared, if anything, she’d just practice a few of her hexes and spells on them – hopefully without consequence as she was still working on her ability to shapeshift objects, so doing so on live beings probably wasn’t the best yet.

“So, animals, it is.” Josie cosigned, checking it off on her sheet.

When she was finished responding to most of her friends, Penelope then looked up to spare an inquisitive glance towards Josie. “Anythin’ else we need to go over? When does all this start?”

Josie was slightly taken aback by how little the other seemed to care. She knew it wasn’t the most exciting thing but it still mattered a great deal. Part of her wanted to say something about the other girl’s antics but she chose to refrain. She had gotten some input so it was better than nothing at all. “Do you think you can look one up?” Sitting the notepad down onto the table, she gave a small shrug.

“What, like an animal shelter?” Penelope raised a single brow at the other with a small smile, anticipating that their discussion was going to come to a close soon.

Josie nodded.

“I assume we’d have to start soon, we need 100 hours worth of volunteering so I guess the sooner the better, yeah?” Josie was sure they could knock that out within the next few weeks if they really applied themselves.

Penelope ignored the ceaseless vibrating of her phone with each message notification to continue speaking, “Neither of us are allergic, right?” Josie shook her head.

 The shorter of the two nodded, too, in acknowledgement then looked down at the bag on her lap and emptied its contents on the couch cushions between them, several different candy bars and bags of chips falling out of it before she settled on eating a Crunch bar.

“Are there any days that are off limits for you?”

She licked her lips and used her phone to find options for them that were close to school before mumbling a quiet, “All of them,” then raised her voice to respond to the other girl. “Uh, Fridays and weekends are off limits. I found one that’s like, maybe a ten minute drive from school– Jessi and the Strays? Cool?”

“That’s every Friday and weekend?” Josie tutored freshman throughout the week but she was sure she could make things work somehow.

“Every. Single. Friday. And. Weekend,” Penelope responded slowly, dragging out her words while she chewed on the chocolate bar.

“Okay, that’s fine. We can probably stop by later in the week and get their approval, yeah?” A cheeky smile overcame her features, satisfied with how much they’d mapped out thus far.

Penelope hugged a pillow to her chest and set her phone aside, a pensive expression on her face while she tried to find a somewhat subtle way of wiggling her way out of her volunteer hours. All of the words leaving Josie’s lips were left not responded to while she daydreamed, her piercing gaze fixed on the girl across from her in a slow, obvious once-over. She’d never seen Josie around much before and she supposed the other girl wasn’t her type in the slightest– she was nerdy and practically radiated pure vibes, nor had she ever seen the girl in her typical hangout spots, like detention. No, there was no way that this volunteer thing would work out. Penelope and Josie were far too different to even make it a friendly hangout sort of thing.

The only thing that made Penelope break away from her little trance was the fact that she noticed that she was being quiet for too long. Like a child caught in the middle of a mischievous act, she tilted her head and batted her lashes. “.. What?”

A loud sigh fell from Josie’s lips at the realization that she was basically talking to herself at this point. She was trying to give the other girl the benefit of the doubt when she blatantly opted to text on her phone in front of her, passing it off as maybe something of importance but now her complete lack of interest in something that concerned both of them was just plain disrespectful. It wasn’t in her nature to get snappy so she instead, bit her tongue in an attempt to compose herself, shaking her head to dismiss the topic.

“Nothing. We’re done. You can go now.” Crossing her arms over her chest, she flashed a fake grin, hoping that Penelope got the hint and rose from where she sat, prepared to escort her towards the door.

Penelope instantly noted the other’s expression but remained neutral in hers.

Okay, maybe she wasn’t as nice as Penelope thought that she was when it came to certain things. She was hoping that she didn’t miss anything important, whatever it was, but she assumed that the other girl would simply remind her with a text during the week if anything. They were partners, after all.

“We’re good to go?” She questioned while following suit and rising from her seat with a deep sigh. The brunette gathered her belongings and checked the time on her phone, making sure that she had enough time to catch one of the buses back to the city for a little fun before she was due back for curfew.

Mr. Saltzman may have been in a ditz, but Ms. Tig always made it around to do her hall checks on time.

Once she was sure that she was prepared to leave, Penelope looked at Josie like she was waiting for the girl to say something before she departed. Her own lips parted and closed a few times to speak for herself, until she settled to say “Alright, good talk. Go team, go. See you.”

“Yeah.” Josie stated simply, irritation heavily lacing her tone. It surely wasn’t purposely, and she knew she shouldn’t have came off that way but she truly couldn’t help it.

She waited until Penelope gathered all of her things and then began to walk her towards the door.

Josie held it open as she waited for the girl to make her exit.

“I’ll print you out a schedule for the upcoming weeks. See you around."

Josie watched her from her doorway until she was out of distance before closing the door and locking it.

She just hoped this wasn’t a preview of how the entire school year would be.

Chapter Text

Today was going by ridiculously smoothly for Penelope, and for some reason that made the witch the antsiest she’s ever been. She managed to cut class without any issues, didn’t rack up a single detention, and was first in the salad line at lunch today. Yesterday she had easily gotten away with getting out of her usual volunteer work– which was something that she was accustomed to obtaining with a simple “something came up,” or “I got floored with something rllllllly busy!!!” to Josie. As weeks passed and more sessions were missed, it was easy to tell that Penelope’s excuses were becoming less creative. Sure, she fawned over Josie the first few weeks of their partnership to manipulate her into covering Penelope’s slot, but it was nothing to brag about to her coven. She was lazy, but she wasn’t that big of a bitch. And technically speaking, she was preoccupied by other people. Hooking up with certain people took tremendous amounts of energy.

But there was a certain ominous, foreboding feeling hovering over Penelope as she strolled through the halls and into detention that day. She spent a large chunk of her day trying to figure out the source of her tension, but the best she could come up with was how she had texted Josie a simple “you know the drill (;” and how she literally watched the ‘typing’ bubble appear and disappear over and over again until she finally received a mere “k.” It would be a little dumb to make that the source of her uneasiness considering their routine was the same for months now. Why would it change?

Penelope reasoned that it was useless to fret over her day being too good.

And that was why she averted her attention towards a stranger seated across the room. Penelope spent detention entertaining the girl with goofy looks and playful banters with fellow detention regulars, and by the end, she had scored a cell phone number written along her forearm. With her usual, chipper mood restored Penelope strolled out of the room and into the empty halls by the end of detention with a bounce in her step. She spent her entire morning stressing over nothing, she concluded contently while she rummaged through her locker to gather her belongings.

In Josie’s world, her past few weeks had gone a ton differently. If there was one thing Josie refused to do, it was to half-ass anything. Her future was one of the most important things to her and she wasn’t going to let anyone jeopardize that. Unfortunately, it had become a routine over the past few weeks - much to her dismay - to go the extra mile, no thanks to one Miss Penelope Park. Wherever the other girl slacked off, Josie had to pick up. Not only did it stress her out beyond belief, Penelope often got credit for the things that they had to report on. Josie was far from petty, and she hardly had a mean bone in her body so even though she wanted to throw the girl under the bus countless times, she knew Penelope’s future depended on this too.

The girl’s name in her phone had gone from ‘Partner’ to ‘Penelope’ to ‘’Don’t Even Bother’ in the short span of a few weeks. It was always the same ol’, same ol’. It all grew old really quickly. Eventually she just got used to it and half the time didn’t even bother to open the text messages she received from said contact. Josie pretty much had accepted at this point that she was on her own with this whole thing and the slight tolerance she possessed for Penelope but was very much short lived.

That day, however, there was just so much on her plate. Between essays, tutoring, homework and the projects on top of this one, she was overwhelmed. Word had gotten around that Penelope had gotten detention yet again, and for once, Josie was glad that there actually was a reason for the ditching this time. The taller girl had just finished her last tutoring session and noticed that it was about time for detention to be ending soon. Just as she pushed open the door to the classroom, she saw none other but the person in question standing at her locker. Walking over to Penelope, she closed her locker with a slight thud, leaning against it as she eyed the green eyed witch. “You’re up to strike nine, y’know. Any effort at this point from you would be a miracle and not to mention, greatly welcomed.”

Penelope was just in the middle of humming a song off the top of her head and visibly jumped away from her locker, her eyes narrowing with irritation when she saw that the strap of her bag was wedged between the locker and its door. She shifted her fiery gaze to whoever the culprit was until she registered the fact that no, it wasn’t some prick, it was Josie. The recognition immediately made Penelope relax and she had a playful grin on her face until she realized that the other girl wasn’t there to joke around with her, and judging by the look on her face, it was quite the contrary. She’d never seen such a hardened look on the girl’s face and that change alone made her give Josie her full attention. Penelope’s expression slowly contorted into one of a more neutral, unfazed look while she brought her attention back to her locker and tried to yank her bag out a few times.

“I thought that you were covering for me? N’ besides.. Y’know.. miracles don’t happen that… often,” she grunted between sharp tugs, then eventually gave up and shot Josie a tired look before she began to turn her combination in all over again after gently moving the other girl out of the way.

 “What’s your deal, Saltzman? Something got you in a bad mood?”

The question was genuine while she finally freed her bag and she slung it over her shoulder with a small sigh, then leaned against the lockers as well. For Penelope, none of this added up in any way that she found logical. Perhaps Josie was simply having a terrible week, but she didn’t understand why she would be confronted now. And if she was being completely honest with herself, she didn’t expect to be confronted at all at this point.

With a eye roll, Josie emitted an exasperated sigh as she brought her focus back to the brunette in front of her.

“You! You’re my deal, Park.” She retorted back in the same fashion.

“I’ve been working my ass off so that not only can I graduate but so that YOU can too but it’s getting down to the wire and I’m the only one that even remotely cares about this.”

There were so many things weighing on her plate lately that it was hard to keep up.

“I have mid terms coming up and I either can pass my finals and put off volunteering or I can volunteer, and not do my Charms homework or I can do my homework and barely get two hours of sleep…Like…” Josie hesitated for a moment, gauging Penelope’s features to see if she was getting her point.

In all honesty, she was frustrated beyond belief. It took a lot to irritate her but now she was at her boiling point. Especially with Penelope being so nonchalant, standing before her as if she didn’t deem her behavior an issue, whatsoever.

Josie had never met anyone that just whole-heartedly could care less about anything.

“I’ve given you weeks, months at this point, and I’ve tried to give you the benefit of the doubt. You could have at least told me from the start that I’d pretty much be in this alone!” It baffled her why of all people, she just had to be assigned Penelope as her partner.

Brown orbs zeroed in on emerald ones, fury evident on every inch of her being.

“Do you not see anything wrong with this, whatsoever?!” 

Penelope maintained her usual air of indifference while she watched Josie finally blow her fuse. Yet for once in the entire span in their acquaintanceship, this was what triggered the girl to fully recognize and give her undivided attention to Josie. The girl truly looked dismayed– had her eyebags always been that prominent? Did she always look this exhausted? Had she not dealt with figures of authority snapping at her times before this, she was sure that her guilt and uncertainty would surface and be written all over her face. But she didn’t regret what she did, she would still want to avoid volunteer work above all things.

Penelope began to chew her bottom lip in deep thought. An apology would simply sound empty.

Attending volunteer work once or twice wouldn’t be a big blow to her schedule, and maybe she owed it to the girl for being such a loyal partner.

What felt like the end of Josie’s reprimanding left the two of them silent, Penelope’s expression remaining unchanged while the taller of the two stared her down with a level of intensity that she wasn’t aware Josie was capable of. While it was unfortunate that it had to be under these circumstances that this were to happen, Penelope felt an overwhelming amount of respect towards her. It felt like saying anything would be wrong to say, whether she were to lie and kiss up, or tell the truth and actually be true to her volunteer work. With an exasperated sigh, Penelope then flashed a soft smile while she spoke. “… So? What do you want?”

“I want you to fucking contribute! Anything at this point, Penelope.”

It was rare for Josie to resort to such provocative diction but it was the only way she could convey her emotions and get her point across, though she doubt that she even did.

“How the hell did you even make it to your senior year? Honestly.”

Josie threw her hands up in the air and squeezed the air, almost in a manner that it could have been Penelope’s head if she wasn’t in her right state of mind.

“You know what? Don’t even bother. I’ll keep doing every thing, what’s another semester, right?” A dark chuckle escaped her, followed by a light scoff at her own sarcasm dripping from her words.

Caught off guard by the sudden use of profanities—Penelope was actively trying to avoid thinking about how her very first thought was that Josie was hot when she was angry—, she couldn’t help laughing along with Josie as well until she realized she was going to be horribly misinterpreted.

“Fuck, no— wait—” Penelope raised her hands to grip Josie’s wrists gently, lowering them to the girl’s sides before her own fell limp as well. “Look. I’m not a dumbass, alright? I’m just lazy. It’s like, easy for me to get out of doing shit. So I grab at every chance I get, you get me?” She paused. “I mean, I guess you do since you let me push you around for this long ass of a time.”

A scoff left her lips and she sent the girl a sympathetic smile. She ran a hand through her hair and stopped to observe the girl in front of her, collecting her thoughts once more before she breathed out a frustrated ‘fuck.’ There was that guilt.

“I’ll go to volunteer with you tomorrow n’ do my fair share of work. I.. I promise.”

Josie eyed Penelope suspiciously. She had tried and tried to get Penelope to cooperate and to no avail, so she figured now wouldn’t be any different. Of course she still had hopes that maybe she’d get through to her but it was better to be heard out, if anything.

However, things took an unexpected turn of events when Penelope’s next words registered in her ears. Maybe it had been her fault for letting it go on so long, but it’s not like she was going to just drop things that easily, even if Penelope did have a point.

Josie opened her mouth to speak but was instantly cut off by what the other girl said next. Was she to believe her? A promise was nothing at this point. All she’d do is get her hopes up again only to be flaked on…again.

“Actions speak louder than words. Don’t just say that to pacify me. Show up and I’ll believe you.” She held the brunette’s gaze momentarily before looking away.

“Okay.”

The response was simple due to Penelope not wanting the situation to escalate any further with any more misunderstandings and she was hoping that her tone would convey that. She then took out her phone and began to tap away at the screen before she opened her mouth to speak again. Every so often she would glance up at the girl across from her with genuine worry etched across her features, but she felt some sort of helplessness in watching Josie. She’d never angered someone this much, but she’d also never cared about how her actions affected her peers no matter how absurd it may be.

It was definitely because Josie was the first to confront her so intensely and honestly. There was also the fact that the girl visibly looked how she felt, and it made Penelope feel both guilt and pity.

“Look, I know that you can’t believe me ‘till you see me show up, but you need to like.. breathe ‘n relax now, ‘kay? You hungry? Tired?”

It was difficult for Josie to know whether to feel satisfied or not. Nothing had completely been resolved but for now, it seemed a little better than it originally was .

Of course there was no way to know if Penelope was being genuine or not but just the simple fact that she didn’t just brush it off was enough for Josie’s defensive demeanor to soften. Doing as she was told, the girl took a deep breath to calm herself, almost instantaneously feeling her face feel less hot.

“No, I’m good. Thanks.” She reassured Penelope, a bit uneasy about whether the sudden concern came from but decided to just ignore it.

Once the situation boiled down and some of the tension between them began to dissipate, Penelope found herself at a loss for words. Lights had been shed upon both of them, and she knew that they were both seeing foreign sides of each other. It seemed that her mean streak erased any chances of Josie having faith in the fact that Penelope did, in fact, have a nice side. And while she did feel rather guilty for manipulating Josie, another smaller part of her felt like her ego had taken a blow and that she needed to prove herself again.

“… Are you sure? It’s free food.” Penelope reiterated with a singsong voice while she stood upright again, then took a few steps back to signal the girl that she was going to leave. “I’m feeling the Mystic Grill…have a taste for some wings. Or are you a salad girl?” She quirked a perfectly arched eyebrow in Josie’s direction.

A mimicked eyebrow quirked up back at Penelope as Josie eyed her curiously.

“You mean you’re paying?” Her eyes narrowed momentarily before she averted her gaze and fixated it on the exit. It’s not like she had anything better to do, so she could spare a few hours. Besides, she deserved some type of appreciation, not that she was going to verbalize that.

“I guess I could grace you with my presence. I’ll take wings and a salad.” It was free food, after all, so who was she to deny such an offer? “…You are paying, right? We aren’t going to skip out on the tab, are we?”

“Just come on.” With a heavy eye roll, Penelope began to lead them towards the door.

Chapter Text

It was a miracle that Josie had even agreed to Penelope’s proposal but the shorter girl was going to take what she could get. For now, she was set on doing her fair share – she knew that she’d been majorly slacking and that wasn’t entirely fair to Josie. For how long was she going to chip in though? That was still up in the air but as of now, it didn’t matter.

Penelope crossed over Josie as she trudged towards the exit. She leaned against the exit door to hold it open for Josie, taking the time to give the slim girl a quick once-over with a teasing smile.

Josie caught the slight once over but decided to let it go. She knew everything wouldn’t one hundred percent change and it didn’t even surprise her that, that was the exception. The shorter brunette sashayed through the open door, a light giggle falling from her lips.

“There’s no way in hell that you can finish off wings and a salad in one go. You just trying to run me out of my money?”

“Are you doubting me, Park? I’m a human food disposal.”

The admittance came out before she could stop herself. That so wasn’t the term she was going for but it was just Penelope, she didn’t seem the most prissy either.

“I actually am. I’ve heard that from like, fifteen girls and they end up making me pay twenty-five dollars for a meal where they ate like, six dollars worth of food.” Penelope countered, still doubtful of the other’s confidence while she fell into step beside Josie.

Slinging her purse over her shoulder, Josie fell in step beside her new associate, allowing her to lead the way.

“Fifteen? Is this a thing that you do because you buying me food doesn’t mean anything…” Josie side glanced at Penelope, just wanting to make that fact known. She still didn’t know anything, really, about her but she knew enough from what she was told to know what type of girl she was.

“Chill out. You’re not my type,” Penelope responded half-heartedly, not missing a beat in her response. Maybe she came off as a little harsh, even defensive, in saying what she said as quickly as she did, but she didn’t want to think about it too much. She’d been caught ogling Josie a few times now, but Penelope knew that she’d never act on it. It felt more like wishful thinking than a mere fact in how she thought of such a thing, but she only laughed it off with an evasive shake of her head.

The statement caught Josie a little off guard, but she tried to not be phased by it. It was no secret that she wasn’t the prettiest or most popular girl in school, that title had already been copy-written by Lizzie, but she figured Penelope could have been a little more discreet about it. Josie simply forced a smile and feigned indifference. Not like it should have mattered, it’s not like she was even into Penelope, let alone girls.

“Oh— and I get around by bus so.. I mean, I can cover your bus fare if you need that too, I guess.”

Deciding to just brush off Penelope’s previous comment, she retracted her gaze from the other girl and instead watched the bus as it made its way towards them. Josie merely shrugged. She had her own car but she wasn’t sure if she should offer the ride.

Was that ‘uppity’ of her? She didn’t know. “That’s fine, I can afford my own fare. I won’t completely break you.” She replied in a light-hearted manner.

“Ah. The princess has a heart.” Penelope quipped with a suppressed snicker, her gaze falling upon the other girl while they were moving towards the campus’s exit and towards the bus stop. She fell silent while she retrieved her wallet from her bag and began to count her bills, then looked up ahead of her once more with a satisfied nod while they saw a bus approaching up the block.

“Are we running for it? Should we run for it?” 

“No, we should not run for it. I mean…do we have to run for it? Is it going to stop?” Josie's questions came back to back, unsure of how this whole ‘public transportation’ thing worked.

“Nah, it’s prob’ly not going to stop because nobody else is waiting there. But we’ll make it since it’s stopping over there...” She responded in a tone that more or less had several questions behind it. Was Josie not familiar with mass transit? “Wait, so how do you get around?” The girl inquired over her shoulder while they stood at the curb, fishing through her wallet while the bus approached. “Fare’s $2.50.”

“I drive, but right, $2.50. That’s not so bad. Here, I got it.” Josie retrieved a five-dollar bill from her purse and handed it to Penelope before stepping out onto the street and crossing over to where the bus stop was. “Do we have to tell the driver where we’re going?” She questioned genuinely as she began to flag down the bus.

Penelope looked at Josie with a sudden rush of fondness towards the girl and suppressed her laughter while she watched the girl flag down the bus. It was now clear that she might’ve been raised on being driven everywhere, which was quite the refreshing experience for her. She didn’t have the heart to tell the girl that since it was a bus stop that it would stop regardless, so she merely covered her mouth with her hand and leaned against the pole until the bus finally pulled up to them.

“Here, look, lemme show you,” she murmured and allowed the other girl to enter the bus first, followed by herself so that she could pay for them both. They had to shuffle through the people standing until she found two unoccupied seats for them to sit down in, then pointing to the neon yellow strings hanging along the length of the bus.

“When you’re uh.. kinda close to where you wanna get off, you pull it and the driver stops. Get it?”

Taking the seat beside the girl, Josie barely left any room between the two, not trusting to be too close to anyone else. She hadn’t expected it to be so crowded. Brown orbs scanned the entirety of the bus. Who knew there were so many different types of people?

“So you just pull it? That’s it?” Her focus never left her surroundings, still completely intrigued. “I guess I’ll just leave that up to you.”

Opting to stay silent for a few moments was a brilliant decision for Penelope to make. Amusement graced her features while she observed the other girl as she was placed in a completely new environment, each emotion she experienced written all over her face. The only thing that drew her away from her thoughts was when the bus driver suddenly hit the brakes and everyone swayed towards the back of the bus, which forced Penelope to realize the close proximity between the two girls.

She tore her gaze away from the other girl’s facial features before she was caught staring again and forced herself to focus on the locations they were passing until she finally reached behind them to tug down on the string and signal the driver to stop after a few miles.

Once the bus stopped and Penelope led Josie out with a gentle hand wrapped around her wrist, she released a heavy breath that she wasn’t even aware she was holding.

“Aaand we’re here! Was that your first time on a bus?” she finally asked, turning to the other girl while they started to walk towards their destination which wasn’t too far away from where they were dropped off. She offered Josie a sheepish grin and pushed the door open into the restaurant for them to enter.

“Was it that obvious?” Her face contorted into a mix of amusement and uncertainty. Maybe she should have opted to drive after all. At least now she knew for future reference.

“I’ve never been here before, just so you know.” She spoke up once they were seated.” You’ll probably super judge me by the end of the night, won’t you?”

“How is that even possible?” Penelope questioned, completely bewildered by this news. “Literally every one frequents here.”

Just as Josie opened her mouth to defend herself, their waitress approached the table. In all honesty, she was grateful for the interruption.

Smiling at the older girl that approached their table, Josie simply asked for a lemon-pepper wing combo and substituted her fries for a salad, just as she had planned.

“And a water is fine.” Flashing a sweet smile, she then turned to Penelope and awaited her to place her order as well.

Just after Josie made her order, the shorter girl quirked a challenging brow at the other, taking note of the fact that she had actually followed through with what she said in the past before she ordered honey barbecue wings and Coke, along with chips and salsa to serve as an appetizer for the two of them.

The waitress, Rose, winked down at Penelope just before she left and the girl cleared her throat while she glanced at Josie.

The wink transpiring between the two didn’t go unnoticed by Josie. She was pretty sure she knew the basis behind it but considering this sort of was a ‘bonding’ experience for two and she was trying to relate to Penelope as much as she could - hence the bus ride - she didn’t bother to pretend not to notice. Once the girl was out of ear shot, she leaned forward on the table, prepping her head upon her palms.

“Let me guess, one of your conquests?” Her eyes flickered in the direction the other girl had disappeared off to before returning her attention to the brunette across from her. She leaned forward, propping her elbows atop the table.

Maybe everything she heard about Penelope hadn’t been rumors, at least not in a sense, but she still wasn’t going to judge her based on those facts alone. It’s not like she didn’t wonder how true those things were but it didn’t really matter to her. So far, she was seeing a different side, a side that she didn’t think existed before now and it honestly intrigued her.

When Josie leaned forward, Penelope leaned back until she was straight against the booth. She let out a bark of laughter before covering her mouth, shaking her head in response to the girl’s question.

“Nah. We're cool and she hooks me up with free food sometimes. She’s just always around when I bring dates here,” she suddenly halted, her brows furrowing as if she had just put two and two together. “Like, always. It’s fucking weird. But you’re not a date.” The final statement was for Josie to hear since she seemed to be wholly against being associated with Penelope in that department. Feeling a little bold and playful, Penelope leaned forward until they brushed their noses together in a little eskimo kiss, mirth twinkling in her eyes before she wiggled her brows suggestively. “Right?”

The gentle contact caused Josie’s breath to hitch in her throat. Her eyes subconsciously closed until it registered in her head what Penelope was implying and she shot back almost as if the girl had scorched her. Taking a moment to collect herself, she shook her head.

“No. Definitely not a date. Why would it be a date?” Part of her knew Penelope was only trying to get to her so she just let it roll off her back. Josie was pretty sure she made it perfectly clear that she wasn’t into girls - despite the funny feeling in her stomach - and Penelope more than bluntly established she wasn’t into Josie so she didn’t really see a need for clarification.

With a satisfied smirk, Penelope opted to dead the topic, then and there.

After a comfortable silence enveloped them for the time being, it was soon interrupted by a loud rumbling, courtesy of Penelope’s stomach.

“I didn’t know that I was this fucking hungry. They should allow snacks in detention,” she grumbled while she rubbed her stomach beneath her shirt. Just as the idea crossed her mind, Penelope beamed at her classmate fawningly. “When you.. well, y’know, don’t finish your food, just swing it on over to me, alright?”

Josie chuckled to herself, a sharp eye roll following suit as she emerged from her thoughts.

“You got enough money in that wallet to bet on it? Don’t pre-judge, Park. You’d be surprised by how wrong you are.”

Penelope leaned back soon enough with a satisfied grin and lifted her legs to cross them on her seat and make herself comfortable, then took out her phone. Penelope snorted at a text from a friend before she opened her notes application and typed a little contract for them. When she was finished on her part, she turned the screen towards Josie to display the words written— ‘I, Penelope Park solemnly swear to fuck all the way off and give Josie eternal bragging rights if she finishes all of her food.’ ”You have to sign your name.”

Seeing Penelope retrieve her phone, Josie did the same. She sent a quick text to her father to make him aware that she was out with a ‘friend’ and would be back a bit later than usual. Just as she pressed send and sat her phone back on the table, another was being held in her face. She cocked a challenging eyebrow towards her companion, a cheshire grin playing on her face. “You can’t be serious.” Deciding to humor the girl, Josie signed her name anyways, screen shot the ‘contract’ and sent it to herself from Penelope’s phone.

“Just for safe keeping in case you try to retract your agreement when you lose.”

Sitting back in her seat, she couldn’t help but wonder why the girl had such a bad reputation at school. From the little she was able to witness in a short amount of time, there really was nothing negative to associate with Penelope. Josie bit her bottom lip as she watched the girl across from her, almost studying her in a way. Her trance was short lived, however, when their waitress returned with their food in tow. She flashed a thankful smile once the food was placed in front of her. Josie wasted no time in digging in, pouring the Ranch dressing all over her salad, as well as her wings.

“Damn. Saw through me. I’m not into how smart you are,” Penelope grumbled under her breath. With her phone returned and now on her lap. she opened her texts and half-heartedly responded to, or ignored a few people before pocketing it once more.

Penelope sat with an elbow on the table and a hand covering her mouth. Her gaze traveled throughout the room and she took in the sight of different people seated in the restaurant, before emerald met deep brown once more. She raised an inquisitive brow at the other but also shifted her attention to her food.

Unlike Josie, Penelope was rather childish in handling her food and hissed once she realized that her food was still hot. She sat back with a pout and instead watched the other while her food cooled. Her eyes widened when she saw how the girl was relentlessly chowing down on food that was probably just as hot as hers, laughter spilling from her lips before she recalled that they literally just ‘signed’ a contract.

Penelope didn’t know that it was possible to feel both angry at and even more endeared to someone until this moment. It was a little different under strange circumstances, but seeing Josie so carefree stirred an unfamiliar feeling in Penelope’s stomach. 

“I.. I’m already startin’ to think I made the wrong choice. With that contract.” she muttered with a deep frown at the other just as she picked up a cooled down wing of her own and began to nibble away at it.

“Sorry if this offends you or some shit, but for someone so.. proper, you eat like a friggin’ monster. There’s sauce all over your face.” Her tone wasn’t at all judgmental, more playful and curious than anything. “Speaking bout that, what’s your deal? Drive yourself to school, from the pictures in your room, you have a nice house outside of being stuck in Salvatore, real smart.. you actually a princess?”

Josie waited to finish off what she was currently chewing before looking up at the girl. Grabbing a napkin from the holder near them, she wiped her face, followed by her fingers.

“What do you mean…?” She asked, cocking her head to the side for added measure. Most people often used that term in a condescending manner so she wasn’t completely sure how to take it.

“I just have a nice life. I mean, I don’t really know why those things make me different…”  She hesitated before continuing, “Not that you don’t. I’m sure you do and as you made clear, you’re quite smart yourself…Are you judging my lifestyle or something?”

“Man, I hope you don’t think I’m actually smart,” the brunette shot the other briefly a questioning look until something else captured her attention. Reaching across the table with a chuckle, Penelope brushed some of Josie’s hair out of the way when she saw how the ranch dressing was cutting it close to getting on her hair. “N’ I guess I am,” Penelope responded sincerely, alternating between taking bites out of her chicken wings and eating chips. “Don’t get me wrong though, it didn’t make me think of you any more or less. Different strokes for different folks. Guess I’m just curious about who exactly the Josie Saltzman is. My head just labeled you as one of the nicer, prissy smart girls. Know what I mean?”

“It was cute how you had no idea what you were doing with the buses. But if y’feel like I was making fun of you like an ass, you can watch me try to drive. We might die or something, but..it’ll be funny. Might as well put an octopus in the driver’s seat.” Penelope spoke with animated hand gestures, and she accidentally began to neglect her food by her being so distracted with speaking to the girl across from her. There was a certain light in her eyes when the two were finally engaged in a full, uninterrupted conversation. Her voice took up a more teasing tone before she wiggled her brows. “But like, things are different now. Now I know that you’re definitely a prissy smart girl.”

“Thanks.” The girl smiled sheepishly when Penelope reached forward to push her hair back, completely forgetting what she was going to say prior to that. Instead, she tuned into Penelope’s next words, listening attentively as she spoke.

“Please don’t call me prissy. Do I really give off that vibe? I mean, I don’t blame you for having that image of me. I thought you were this hard ass rebel with a lost cause but you’re proving me wrong.” Josie flashed a genuine smile, gesturing between the two.

“What the hell? That’s ‘cuz I am a hard ass rebel with a lost cause.” Penelope insisted with a firm nod, glowering at Josie until the expression immediately dissipated for her to laugh airily. The other girl was a refreshing acquaintance to make, she had to admit, and the lighter atmosphere between them definitely made her appreciate whatever Josie was talking about.  

“Suuuuuure. But I have yet to finally come to my own wrong conclusion about you, so why don’t you fill me on the miraculous life of Penelope Park?”

The question made Penelope raise a brow at the brunette across from her and popped a salsa-dipped chip into her mouth with a shrug. “I like this. It’s like speed-dating. We’re speed-friending. What do y’want to know?” She typically tended to keep conversations between new people to be somewhat superficial with intentions of anything but learning about another person, but this whole outing with Josie was going off on a course that Penelope didn’t know was such a big deal to her until the other girl asked about her.

It was evident that for the most part, everything about Penelope was just a facade. Of course, she couldn’t really determine that by one encounter but she was sure for the most part, she was right. She typically was.

Mocking Penelope, Jose shrugged just the same. “I don’t know. What are you willing to tell me? I don’t know if anything is off limits.” Josie was typically very inquisitive and most often than not, she had a hard time respecting boundaries so she didn’t want to pry too much.

“What’s your home life like? Only child? Favorite color? Future goals?” She listed off the top of her head, just throwing things out at an attempt to strike up any conversation.

“If we’re going to attempt this friendship, might as well know who I’m really dealing with, right, Penny?” Finishing off her wings, she sat back in her seat as she watched the other girl, completely intrigued.

Penelope blinked several times when she was suddenly bombarded with questions and she wasn’t sure if Josie was serious about them being asked, so she tried to memorize each one as they came.

Upon hearing the new nickname she grimaced at the other and shook her head.

“Yeah, you’re right. T’start off honestly... I’m not too hot on being called Penny.”

When Penelope brought the nickname to her attention, a slight blush coated her cheeks. She honestly hadn’t realized she’d said it. Deciding to play it cool, she pouted. “Aw, c’mon. What’s wrong with Penny? I could have called you turtle or bunny, or something. I mean, they do run from you and give off the idea that they’re unapproachable when in all honesty, they’re big softies. It’s quite fitting.” Josie stuck her tongue out at the girl before taking a sip of her untouched water.

“First of all—I’m not a damn softie. Second— you noticed the turtle smile too, huh? Not cool.” She shot a teasing glare.

“Anywho, My home life is fine, my coven is well…it’s hard to explain. Wild ride. I’m the oldest, I have a younger half-brother somewhere in the world.. uh, my favorite color’s black,” with a cheeky smile she gestured down to her all black outfit, then paused to think about any other questions that she asked. “I don’t have any long term goals,” she admitted slowly due to her knowing that Josie was naturally very goal-oriented.

With a sudden burst of enthusiasm she picked up her unused fork and held it to her mouth like it was a microphone, then held it out to the other witch expectantly. “Aaaand now that I’m finished, I rapid fire all of those questions right back at you, Josie Saltzman!”

Part of Josie wanted to question further but if today was any indication of how their future encounters would be, she figured she’d have plenty of time to delve further.

It didn’t surprise her at all when Penelope put the spotlight on her, she should have expected it. Shrugging, she started, “Home life is good, for the most part. Not an only child as you know. My favorite colors are pink and purple. I can’t choose and I think I want to study something in the medical field, just unsure as to what, so…Josie Olivia Saltzman in a boring nutshell. Is that all?”

That wasn’t all. Penelope actually cared to know more, a lot more but it was a foreign feeling that she wasn’t particularly enjoying too much so she shook it off.

Seeing as it was getting a bit late and she actually cared to not get Josie in trouble for leaving campus without approval, she flagged down Rose, their waitress, to ask for their check, then turned back to Josie with a sigh when she realized that the waitress was collecting empty plates.

“So you won the food challenge and you’re a literal Disney princess. And you’re talented at like, fucking everything. You must be living the life,” she observed aloud.

“Indeed, I did so that means you’re going to fuck all the way off now, right?” A triumphant smirk played on her lips as she raised a questioning eyebrow at the other girl, daring her to say no.

“Fucking all the way off. You have my word. You also have my damn screenshot.” Penelope saluted Josie with a playful bite to her tone, then furrowed her brows. “Am I taking you back to school? I’m not going to head back just yet,” she inquired while she paid for their food in cash, making sure to leave a good tip for them.

At Penelope’s following question, Josie really didn’t know what to say. She didn’t want her to feel obligated but it’s not like she could have made it back to campus by herself. “If it’s not too much of a hassle, yeah…” Josie nodded once, watching Penelope as she paid their tab.

Penelope nodded as she slid out of the booth and stretched her limbs with a loud groan, then drummed her hands against the table to urge Josie to join her. “I—I’ll text you later about some other stuff, we might actually have some things in common,” she suddenly blurted out with a strange amount of eagerness in her voice. In any case the line would be delivered seamlessly but, at least in her mind, she sounded like she was looking for excuses to keep speaking to Josie.

Taking one final sip of her drink, Josie slid out of the booth too. “Sounds like a plan.” There really was no way for her to describe what it was about Penelope, but she really had enjoyed herself. It almost made her feel bad for how this all came about. Almost. “Thanks for this, by the way. I guess next time it’s on me.” Crossing her bag over her body, she turned towards the exit. “You ready?”

She saw the apprehension on the smaller girl’s face and made no attempt to persuade her to do anything, yet she still felt some relief in being able to prolong their impromptu outing. With a nod they made their exit from the restaurant and stood at the bus stop together. Penelope took note of how the sun was already setting. Did they really spend that much time together in a dingy restaurant?

“So how’d I do?” she broke the silence between them with a cheeky grin and shoved her hands in her pockets while she suddenly turned to look at Josie. “I’m honestly pretty fucking glad that you aren’t trying to choke me anymore. You’re way cooler than I thought so.. let’s pretend that I said a really cool, sensitive apology for being a dick here...” she trailed off and stepped into the bus once it pulled up to their stop, then informed the driver that she was paying for them both. Given that it was later in the day the bus was much emptier and she sighed happily, then strolled to the back of the bus and plopped down in an empty seat.

Josie partially felt a bit of disappointment that their day was coming to an end, though she couldn’t quite place where that feeling was coming from. “You get a B minus.” The girl stated, nonchalantly. “I guess I’ll accept your implied apology and I’m sorry for like yelling at you at stuff.” Josie shyly admitted. She really hated getting out of character so she had hoped she’d done enough that evening to make up for it. “Water under the bridge now, even though I’m still holding you to your promise.” Stepping onto the bus, she followed Penelope to the back and sat opposite her now that there was more room. She turned her attention to the scenery as the bus began moving, unsure of what else to say.

Penelope tried to sit quietly and still, but it was an impossible feat for her. She had her phone out and was finally giving full attention to her texts, her brows furrowing before she looked up at Josie with an overwhelming amount of determination. She stared at the witch opposite from her with an unreadable expression. It was easy to make a promise to show up one time, and only one time, but she didn’t really enjoy setting aside personal time to volunteer. But after spending time with Josie she figured that even if she could be doing better things, her company at—’what was it, the homeless shelter?’— would ease her boredom.

Josie gave her things to think about. She looked at Josie and saw a girl with a bright future, and it forced Penelope to face the fact that maybe the road she was going down wasn’t that great. It was different, better even, having someone around who actually gave a damn about her future, but wasn’t annoying about it.

Brown orbs wandered all around her. From the dingy seats, to the many buildings that zoomed by, to the way Penelope was so immerse in her phone and back down to her feet as she moved them back and forth. Her bottom lip folded in between her teeth as she animatedly racked her brain for anything to start up a conversation but constantly came up short. Instead she returned her glance back out of the window, watching as familiar things began to come back into view which meant they were nearing their destination, or at least hers.

Penelope sat sideways in her seat and rest her legs on the empty seats beside her then mirrored what Josie was doing by staring out the window once she finished responding to her texts. Maybe Josie was a thinker. Being silent when she knew speaking openly was possible just wasn’t something she was a capable of and it made her a little fidgety. Penelope couldn’t be more thankful with when she finally saw their bus stop in the distance and she reached up to pull the string to request their stop.

Josie was intrigued by everything that she typically didn’t get to observe on a daily basis. It’s not like she ever had a reason to before now, anyways but being at a loss for words, there really was nothing else for her to do. Especially with Penelope now more wrapped up in whatever sleaze was continuously blowing up her phone.

She huffed silently to herself, just wanting to hurry up and get to their stop. Josie was so entrapped in her own thoughts that she hadn’t even noticed they were at their stop. Meeting Penelope’s gaze, “I’ll see you around?” The statement came out as more of a question than she wanted it to but she couldn’t help the eagerness.

Penelope ran a hand through her hair with a sheepish smile but still accompanied Josie to the exit of the bus. She pushed the doors open and gestured to the pavement in front of them with a playful air of formality. “Yeah. I’ll text you. Or you text me. Whatever. I’ll see you around.” A look of pure hesitance crossed Penelope’s face before she decided to take the leap and pull Josie into a one-armed, quick hug before she pulled away and stepped back towards the seats. She looked over her shoulder with a quick wave, then plopped back down where Josie was originally seated. 

That really wasn’t something Josie had expected but it was…nice. Different but nice, nonetheless. “Yeah. Goodnight, Penny.” Before anything could be said about the teasing nickname, she hurriedly waved goodbye before exiting the bus and heading back towards Salvatore.

Chapter Text

Surprisingly, Josie and Penelope had gotten along better than she’d ever thought they would have within the past few weeks since their initial first cordial encounter.

Penelope was far from how Josie had mapped her out in her head and she was actually partially grateful for that. It was nice to have a companion outside of her typical circle of friends. She didn’t always feel like she had to act a certain way around her, she could just be herself without judgement. That was an extreme rarity for her. Penelope was like an escape to her, for lack of a better word.

But then there still was the other side of Penelope that Josie absolutely despised.

Outside of class, there was a little more that she could tolerate but not so much during. She tried to ignore the girl making random outbursts in class that didn’t even pertain to the lesson, or the few times she’d walk in almost half an hour late or even the few times Josie had excused herself for the ladies room only to find Penelope doing God know what in the hallway. She still couldn’t fathom why she was like that.

Especially when she’d constantly get texts when the girl could just be in class. It was distracting, all the same. Just like in that very moment.

Josie locked her phone, not even bothering to respond to the fiftieth text she had received from the girl only within the past hour. She’d made it clear on more than one occurrence that if Penelope didn’t want to learn, she’d greatly appreciate if she allowed her to but of course, her wants always went unnoticed.

 Just as she began packing up her things, the school bell sounded signaling the end of the school day. Josie said her few goodbyes to her classmates and hurried out of class and to her car, scuffling for her keys in her purse on the way. As she neared her vehicle, she could spot someone leaned on it in the distance. Of course it didn’t take her long to realize who it was.

“Why skip if you’re just going to hang around school, anyways?” Josie pressed the unlock key and waited for it to chirp before opening her door.

Penelope smiled her Cheshire smile in response.

There was a tiny, glaring little problem that was beginning to chip away at a very oblivious Penelope. Little by little, a certain emptiness was starting to occupy Penelope’s mind whenever she was out with her friends. It was minimal but it showed in her actions, in how she kept glancing at her phone when she was skipping class in hopes of receiving a response from Josie, in how when she leaned against the lockers between classes and accidentally caught Josie’s eye she would holler at the taller girl just to tease her.

Yet once it was established between the two that Penelope’s truancy wouldn’t damage Josie’s grades it didn’t seem to pose much of an issue in her mind. She’d taken a genuine liking to the other girl and Penelope couldn’t help herself—ever so indulgent, she would try and talk to Josie throughout the entire school day even if she was informed on several occasions that the other girl was trying to focus.

That same desire to hang out with Josie was what eventually pushed Penelope to ditch her friends in the middle of a cyph and bring herself back to school. The witch eventually learned what car Josie drove and for once it was finally used to her advantage when she searched for where to wait for the girl with a bag in hand.

“I’d rather do other stuff. I was at the McDonalds up the boulevard and got you a wrap. Well, t’be honest I thought I could handle two but i got full. Here,” Penelope bent down and ducked into the car to place the bag on the passenger seat, then stood upright once more to beam down at Josie.

A smirk danced onto Josie’s lips. “You’re ridiculous, you know that?” Josie shook her head at the girl, watching her as she placed the bag inside of her car.

“So how was school anyways? Did Kaleb get into another boring ass debate with your dad?”

Once Penelope removed herself, Josie tossed her backpack and purse inside before placing herself in the driver’s seat, her feet still firmly planted on the ground.

“Do you really care about how school was? Really?” She squinted up at the girl, due to the sun radiating too brightly in her eye, displaying an amused grin.

“But if you must know, you missed out on some rather fascinating things in Psychology today.”

She almost opted to tell her she should try to come to class more often but she realized there really was no point in doing so early on.

“Okay, I don’t, but maybe something interesting happened while I was out.” Penelope stuck her tongue out at Josie with her usual air of indolence towards school and gave a shrug of one shoulder.

“I guess you’re probably the only person I wouldn’t mind hearing all about psychosexual development from.” Penelope admitted dramatically with a roll of her eyes but the fact that she sort of meant it was written all over her face. She stared down at the other girl in amusement before she sidestepped to try and provide some shade for her.

“What did you get up to anyways?” Josie inquired, wanting to hear about Penelope’s day.

She knew what ever it was, it surely was much more interesting than attending class. Not that she’d voice that, though. There was no way she was going to give Penelope any inkling that she approved of her behavioral issues.

Nodding her head to the driver’s side, she slid fully into the car and turned on the ignition. “Get in.”

Josie’s command completely derailed whatever thought process Penelope was going through. Her mouth opened and closed a few times to ask if the girl was serious or not but she took the offer nonetheless by opening another one of the doors and diving into the backseat.

“Today? I got a pretty good nap in during Pop Lit in the theatre, and since I had a freebie before last period I left with some friends to chill in the center of town.”

After shutting the door, she occupied the entire space meant for multiple people, her limbs splayed out haphazardly while she made herself completely comfortable in the car.

Josie opened her mouth to suggest that she sit shotgun - she could have easily placed her things into the back seat - but Penelope didn’t seem too bothered so she threw the thought to the back of her head.

“Wait. Hold the phone. Today isn’t a volunteer day. What’re we doing? Are you kidnapping me?” Penelope inquired by leaning into the space between the driver’s and passenger side with her chin resting upon one of Josie’s shoulders.

Josie placed her car in drive and began to pull out of the parking lot, following behind the the other students filing out onto the open road. Honestly, she didn’t know where they were going but she just wanted to spend time with her. She figured since Penelope had been waiting on her, maybe she had wanted to, too.

A slight shudder slithered down her spine at the close proximity of the other. “I - uh …” She stammered before clearing her throat. “I’m not kidnapping you. Trust me, I wouldn’t be able to deal with you long enough to even get you into hiding.” The girl wasn’t completely serious. She wouldn’t have minded kidnapping her, and being alone … and woah - Josie quickly cut off those thoughts. ‘The hell?’

“There’s this spot I visit sometimes with my friends but we haven’t been in a while. You didn’t have any other plans, did you?” Josie tossed a curious glance over her shoulder.

Having not expected Josie to turn to face her, the shorter brunette flinched when their faces made a small collision, which she merely brushed off with a small giggle. “Hope wanted to hang out butttt... Canceling with her right now.” Josie held her phone with her other hand, her head still perched upon Josie’s shoulder while she worked out a decent excuse to withdraw from her plans.

Penelope didn’t require much convincing when it came to whatever the other girl wanted to do. Josie was making her way up the list of friends that she would hang out with at an alarming rate. ‘But that isn’t the point,’ came the sharp internal correction. Even if Josie were to suggest something overwhelmingly mundane she would have no choice since she was already seated in the car.

At Penelope’s words, Josie sort of felt bad. It’s not like she forced Penelope to get in, but she also didn’t want her to feel obligated to flake on anyone else. “No, you could’ve told me.” Her voice came out a little more sympathetic, than she intended. She wasn’t that sorry but sorry, nonetheless. “You sure I don’t need to take you back?” The smaller girl side glanced at the girl in her backseat before returning her attention to the road.

Penelope reclined back into her seat and shoved her phone into her bag to offer Josie her full attention. Choosing to sit in the back made things rather awkward regarding how to speak to one another. She drummed her fingers against her knees to the beat of the song faintly playing on the radio.

Although she hadn’t spent a grand amount of time with her partner, Josie still somehow found herself enjoying her company…more than she cared to admit, honestly. It was a different feeling, one she couldn’t quite put her finger on but it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing so if Penelope wasn’t yelling and screaming to not accompany her, she didn’t plan on arguing it, really.

Switching lanes, she slowed down as she read a few of the street signs they passed, making sure not to pass up their turn off. Her mind was only half processing the voice filtering through her ear but she tried to maintain an alert response.

A few turns later, the pair arrived at the designated spot. Josie killed the engine, and hopped out. It wasn’t anything extreme. A simple cliff that overlook a small portion of the town. It was just quiet and serene, despite the loud music bass-ing from the pub below.

Walking over to one of the nearby swings adjacent to them, she beckoned Penelope over. “Don’t say it’s lame cause it’s not. You just have to learn to appreciate it.” She gave her a stern look as she spoke, “Besides I’ve been trapped in my room, buried in books for days so I need some change of scenery.”

Penelope stepped out of the car and stumbled her way over to the edge to experience the full view of the town for herself.

“I didn’t peg you for a hipster. This is like that one scene out of Perks,” she muttered once she assumed her place on a swing beside Josie.

A giggle escaped Josie, a realization of just how accurate Penelope’s interpretation seem. “I’m not a hipster, or whatever.” She dismissed with a wave of her hand. It’s just different than the rest of the things they were exposed to on a daily basis. It gave her an outlet, a fresh breath, away from all of the chaos and mayhem. For her, it was perfect.

“All the way out here though? This isn’t even close to campus, and I wanna ask you how you found it but..”

“I actually got lost once and that’s how I found it.” The witch started, her mind wandering back to exactly how she happened upon it. “I was actually looking for a Starbucks, believe it or not…” Smiling to herself, she lightly began to push herself on the swing, her pink Converse scuffing the gravel below them.

There was something about this hangout that felt a little intimate between them. It probably was the ambiance of the park that threw her off and made her feel obligated to be more tame in her behavior, but it was also the fact that they were alone together for once in such a cliché date location. They weren’t surrounded by anything in particular that Penelope could busy herself to other than staring a hole into Josie’s face. “You bring all your friends up here?”

“Not all, no. My best friend, MG, and some guy I had a crush on last year. It was silly but I mean, I was already headed this way so I didn’t mind you invading my sacred place.” Josie leaned over and nudged the other brunette’s shoulder.

“I’m honored to be at your sacred place with you, even if it kinda looks like the perfect place to do some freaky murder shit. Please don’t kiss me and stab me at the same time.”

Even if it felt somewhat forced to reflect upon it, being away from all the bustle of town made her think about her future. There was a myriad of people that would take jabs at Penelope’s lifestyle, that would tell her that she was destined for the aggressively mediocre. It never really posed an issue to her until she grew closer to the girl beside her, where the two images of each girl were completely juxtaposed and at odds with one another.

“So what’s going on in that head of yours? Are you imagining soundtracks to your movie or something? This is like the perfect setting for a coming of age movie.”

“Hm?” A brief flicker of panic that Josie knew exactly what she was thinking flashed through emerald orbs when they met chocolate brown, but when she heard how Josie intended on breaking the ice she couldn’t help the smile that graced her features. “Radiohead. Lots of Radiohead. I like rock music a lot. How about you? Ed Sheeran? Taylor Swift?” She decided to humor the other.

The girl shook her head with an amused grin but attentively tuned in to what Penelope had to say. There was a fun fact.

It was hard for Josie to shake the feeling of wanting to any and everything about her. Most people were never so willing but she was willing to push the barrier without breaking it for as long as she was going to be allowed to.

“I’ve heard a few of their things. And if you must know, yes. I adore them, but I think Drake would be the soundtrack to my straight to TV movie.”

Penelope snorted.

“Oh my god, shut up.” Josie giggled, playfully slapping the other’s arm. “Well, while we’re on this fun facts topic, what are some of your interests? Other than skipping school, of course.” She giggled quietly to herself. “I never see you around the typical spots around town.”

Lighter thoughts began to fill her mind once more and she subconsciously grew more and more focused upon the little idiosyncrasies that Josie exhibited whenever she spoke. Maybe she never really paid attention to other acquaintances to such a degree, but Penelope was still so fascinated by Josie’s need to use her hands when she spoke, or how the girl would lick her lips in the middle of a sentence. She didn’t know that such minimal things could be so notable.

Penelope looked up at the sky with a pondering expression, then shrugged. “I wanna clear something up— I do skip classes, but.. I always come in for English, because English and reading doesn’t piss me off. I’m also taking Art as an elective, ‘cause well…I kinda have a thing for art.” She finished off her statement with a raised brow towards Josie. Penelope always received confused comments about her little hobby. “And you’re right, I never hang around in town. I hang around in other people’s houses. How ‘bout you? Drowning in books all the time?”

“Well, I mean…yeah and no. Considering I do have high expectations for myself, I don’t normally have time to do anything else. I actually should be back at school studying right now but yeah. I like to sing, and on occasion I write, but I’ve never really gotten into many other things.” She shrugged, nonchalantly.

“So you paint?” In all honesty, she would have never have taken her to be the artistic type. “Is it freehand?” Glancing up at the girl, she watched her, anticipating what more she had to share.

“For the most part, yeah. I didn’t really get any.. training? For it. There are little posters for the art exhibit coming up around the school. The one with the forget-me-nots in a vase for the background is mine.”

Satisfaction crossed Penelope’s face. It was the first time that she could actually vocalize how proud of her work she was. Before she could stop herself from saying something so useless she blurted out, “The people I chill out with wouldn’t really care about something as tiny as that.”

Hearing the new found information earned Penelope a new sense of appreciation from Josie. So maybe she didn’t just entirely not care about things, after all. It was evident how much passion she possessed for her work, Josie could tell just by how her face lit up ever so slightly as she spoke.

“You sharing this with me kind of means you’re obligated to let me see some of your work, y’know.” She stated matter of factly once she was sure Penelope was done. “I’ll keep an eye out for the ‘Vase de Penelope’ as well.” Josie beamed, putting on a fake French accent.

“Question, though. You really think that that’s worth it? Putting all your effort into shit that can blow up right in your face one way or another in the future at any given second? Like, knowing that you could actually be doing something fun right then and there instead of just studying?” she inquired softly reflecting back on Josie’s studies statement, more for conversation rather than as a judgment.

“Cause I like to learn about new stuff, but I fucking hate school. Waste of time. But I guess I can’t complain too much, that’s where all the girls are,” she weighed her options but didn’t like having to consider something with so much depth, so she merely shrugged and turned back to Josie to hear her response.

Josie knew maybe she should enjoy herself a little more. She was still young so she had plenty of time to be serious about life but she’d never really thought about it until the next question was posed.

“I - I guess? I just know that my future really depends on now. I’ll have plenty of time after college to do “fun” things.” At least that’s what she often desperately tried to convince herself. There was no way she was going to go against her parents, despite what her wants differing from theirs. Shaking her head, she decided to stir the conversation away from herself and flip it back on the brunette sat beside her. “It’s okay to not like school, many don’t, but don’t you care about graduating so that you won’t have to spend more time here? And the girls shouldn’t be the only reason you pop in. You’d rather just hook up with whatever girl throws herself at you?” Not wanting to sound ‘preachy’, Josie stopped herself there. “I mean, but to each their own, right?”

Penelope shrugged in a dismissive manner. Her boots dug into the gravel as she planted her feet to stay closer to Josie. The girl could sense that their conversation was taking a turn towards the more serious, and for once she wasn’t too afraid of sharing her opinion and having Josie lecture her for the things that she’s already heard time and time again. They were actually trying to see from the other’s perspective for once. She wouldn’t forcefully butt heads with Josie unless the other girl, as unlikely as she saw it to be, initiated it. Penelope’s expression sobered and she focused on whatever Josie had to say.

She slouched forward and pressed her cheek against the chain that suspended the swing seat with grunt. “I don’t knooow,” she drawled quietly, tiredly, even. “I don’t brag about my ability to hook up with whoever but….it’s pretty effortless.” she shot the other a cheeky grin.

“I’m curious. Tell me what grosses you out so much.”

Turning slightly in the swing, she eyed the taller girl, her eyebrows furrowing a bit in confusion. “What?” She was almost sure she was referencing her “extra curricular” activities. “I’m not grossed out and before you think it, it’s not because you’re into girls or anything.” She wanted to clarify that straight and foremost. Of course it was kind of obvious considering she had been hanging with her for most of the past week but she didn’t want any confusion. “I just don’t get why people do it. Relationships are much more satisfying, are they not?” Her eyebrow quirked up at the brunette.

“Penelope stood and maneuvered her way off of the swing, then stood behind Josie’s and pulled her swing back slightly to allow the girl to brace herself before letting go. She thought over the question and hummed to herself while she tried to formulate a decent answer. In retrospect, she realized that she never really questioned her borderline hedonistic choices. She still couldn’t see anything wrong with it. Penelope almost wished that she had a sob story to offer the other girl but she needed to be honest to Josie. In her mind it was all about the pleasure, and that was enough for Penelope.

“I don’t know, I’ve never been in one. Been this way since sophomore year. But relationships seem like so much work. I can’t even sit still for more than five minutes, I’m not sure if I can stay committed to one person for more than a week. I guess a buncha teenagers are on my side of the fence, but then there’s yours. Nothing wrong with that. Know what I mean? Have y'ever been in a relationship?”

Although Josie couldn’t relate in any sense, she understood where Penelope was coming from. At least to a certain extent, that is. She knew there were tons of people that chose to just sleep around, she just never was one of them. “Yeah, I get it.” Her words were soft and understanding. She just really didn’t understand how the girl just never caught feelings for any of those girls but she wasn’t going to judge Penelope for her preferences, it had nothing to do with her so she didn’t really mind it.

Moving her grip from the base of the seat to the chains as she swung back and forth, she craned her head slightly so that the other girl could hear her clearly.

“I have. One. I won’t be cliche and say I was in love or anything but it was nice.” A wide smile broke out onto her face at the memory but she quickly masked it.

Turning her focus back to the girl, she couldn’t help but wonder what exactly it was about her that fascinated her. Maybe it was because they were total opposites but Josie liked this - how open they could be with one another and how much she was able to learn about the girl.

“You know, Penny, you’re not so bad when you’re not being a butt pain.”

A wry grin began to tug at her lips which broke the faraway expression on her face. “Uh-huh. Is that why you walk away so damn fast when I shout your name in the halls?”

Josie let out a light-hearted giggle in response. “You do that to get to me and I don’t entertain your antics during school hours.” It didn’t really bother her as much as it did in the beginning but it’s not like she was going to give the girl the satisfaction of knowing that.

Penelope’s voice took up a whinier tone, one that was full of playful displeasure. “We barely fucking talk in school, now that I think about it. Well.. y’know, when I’m in. You don’t even text me back when I’m out.”

 “That’s such a lie. The texting back bit, anyways. I text back on occasion…and as for the talking, you’re hardly ever alone, what am I supposed to do?”

“Just interrupt me if you wanna talk to me. We’re friends in my head.”

The feeling of heat rushing to her face caused Penelope to duck her head down in embarrassment. 

“So we’re “friends” now?” Josie made air quotations around “friend”, her lip quirking up in an amused grin.

“We’re friends now.” The shorter girl agreed firmly with a nod.

She wasn’t aware that Josie could be so laid back. It was such a charming quality to have such a side surface so spontaneously.

“D’you not think that we’re friends now?”

“I didn’t say that. I just didn’t know we were at the labeling stage.”

Penelope certainly was different from her other friends. She’d never met anyone like her. It was refreshing and different…but in a good way.

Having her as a friend sounded nice - unexpected, but nice, nonetheless.

“We’re friends.”

Chapter Text

Ho(p)e: Bitch

Ho(p)e: Where are you?

Pennywise: with Josie, sup?

Ho(p)e: You’ve been spending an awful lot of time with that girl lately

Pennywise: your point?

Ho(p)e: You’re taking this volunteer shit a little too seriously, people are starting to talk jysk

Pennywise: ok…? wasn’t aware you were keeping tabs on me…

Ho(p)e: Don’t get snippy asshole. It’s just weird. The likes of us don’t hang with the likes of her

Ho(p)e: Have you forgotten she’s the type of person we used to make fun of, Penelope

Pennywise: look did you need something cause I’m sorta busy here

Ho(p)e: Okay, I’ll drop it for now.

Ho(p)e: Some kids at Mystic Falls high are throwing a party this weekend, Kaleb, Jed and I kinda miss our 4th musketeer. You in?

Pennywise: text me the details, I’ll try to make it

Ho(p)e: Please and thank you

 


 

 

After two weeks of actually focusing on her work– or rather, being scolded into focusing on her work courtesy of none other than Josie – Penelope actually saw her average in calculus shoot up an entire five points after acing a test and scoring fairly high on a test. When she found out, the first person that she informed was Josie, of course, with a sudden tackle in the middle of the hall between classes. The two were becoming better friends as time passed and they finally fell into a strange rhythm of spending time together, but one always had to leave the other. Josie had her own reasons that Penelope can’t remember off the top of her head, but Penelope had her eye on a junior girl, Davina Claire, that was playing ridiculously hard to get, and she never backed away from such a challenge.

It smothered any other thoughts that Penelope had, more often than note but rather than leaving Josie’s side, she would just get incredibly preoccupied by her phone for the remainder of their little hangouts.

Penelope knew that she was neglecting her friend in little moments like that, so what better way was there to express her gratitude than with a celebration? When Hope mentioned some Mystic High kids having some little shindig while their parents were away on vacation, it was a no brainer that she’d be in attendance. So she made sure to invite Josie and misquote that there was a little get-together going on, but there were no more than 15 people going since the “bev and bud,” as Penelope said, was limited. The fact that illegal substances and underage drinking were all going to happen under one roof was already a huge turn-off for Josie, but she still wanted the girl to accompany at the party.

She figured that Josie would click fairly well with Penelope’s friends with some alcohol as an icebreaker.

It took some heavy convincing on her part to finally get the other witch to say yes to her and she was beginning to think that Josie would back out that same Friday evening, so now that she was sitting on the curb and waiting for the other girl to arrive with her phone pressed to her ear she couldn’t help but feel slightly surprised with the turnout.

“Are you sure you aren’t lost? They’ve already been chilling out in there for like, an hour. The kid’s house is literally around the corner from Tyler Lockwood’s old cellar, JoJo.”

“I’m not lost, shut up. I just had to make a stop.” Josie lied. “You could’ve gone in without me, y’know.” The brunette stated matter-of-factly as she made a turn that would lead her to the street that Penelope repeated several hundred times.

One thing that Josie was never good at was being social. She hated the entire aspect, at least among a group of people. She would rather have one pair of eyes judging her compared to several, hang out with one friend than party with a group but somehow she was talked into going against the grain and doing just that.

Her mom always taught her to not knock things until she tried it so when Penelope decided it’d be a miraculous idea to invite her to this get-together, she didn’t say no.

The duo had grown closer than they had before, it was almost natural for them to talk daily and/or hangout a few times out of the week. The hesitance of annoying the other brunette was long gone and if she actually thought about it, sometimes she spent more time with Penelope than her own circle of friends. That, alone, influenced her decision to go to whatever shindig was going on tonight. How bad could it be?

Josie followed the curve and not too much longer, she was pulling up to the house.

“I’m here, happy? No more chastising.” She quickly hung up as she pulled into the driveway and hopped out, locking her door behind her. “Never took you for the impatient type, Park. You ready?”

Penelope hopped up to her feet and beamed at the other girl while she pocketed her phone. She took in the other girl’s appearance slowly, one brow raising when she noted that the girl appeared to put more effort into her attire than usual. Penelope was just wearing her usual black and white style, leather jacket and all, but she’d gone just a little bit heavier on the make-up. Her smile became rather impish when she realized that Josie would be making quite the entrance once they went inside.

“You look hot,” she chirped while looping her arm through Josie’s. The brunette opted to brush off everything else that Josie said and simply started leading the other girl along to the front door. “… don’t worry, you’ll have fun tonight.”

Penelope had to disengage herself from Josie to open the door for them, and she looked over her shoulder with a wink before she held it open for the taller one to enter first, followed by herself. They were immediately met by random sounds of enthusiasm by the others inside the house, some under the influence of marijuana, others by alcohol or even both.

After Penelope was finished greeting the few familiar faces that she noticed that were in the front of the house, she threw a cautious look at Josie. She wouldn’t spin around and leave now, would she?

 Penelope did understand, however, since it was such a foreign environment for her. Considering the amount of curious eyes on Josie, things were looking alright.

“Guys, this is Josie. The cool, crazy smart one that I’ve mentioned a few times? She’s mad nice.”

Hope was the first to speak up, "What's up? I'm Hope but I'm sure you knew that. I've heard lots about you."

"Yeah, lots." Jed emphasized, smirking at Penelope.

Not bothering to say anything, Josie simply offered a sweet smile with a wave of her hand in response. God, this was so awkward. “Hey, where’s the food?” She inquired, leaning closer for Penelope to be able to hear her.

“Kitchen. Knowing these kids, it’s just a shitload of pizza rolls, digiornos, hot pockets and bagel bites.. and if you’re not in the mood for pizza, there’s alcohol. If you don’t want alcohol… good luck.” she trailed off before they turned a corner and reached the kitchen. She squinted to get a clearer look at the backyard and raised a brow when she saw numerous people mingling outside.

Penelope’s gaze caught a familiar figure moving outside on the patio, but she couldn’t narrow down who it was fast enough to identify the individual. When she focused on Josie again, she couldn’t suppress the chuckle that escaped her lips at the other’s flustered state.

“Saltzman, it’s all gonna be okay,” she spoke firmly while busying herself to the contents of the kitchen. Once she found two red solo cups, she filled both close to the brim with what Penelope knew to be a mixed drink. Once she was back at Josie’s side, she held one cup out for the other.

Part of her wanted to decline, drinking definitely was not a favorite past time of hers but she took the cup anyways. Maybe if she held onto it long enough, the thought would seem less appealing. She was sure she’d need some aid to last through the remainder of the evening.

“Drink. We can head outside where it’s less.. packed. Music sounds like we can dance a bit out there too. Lemme know what you wanna do.” She wiggled her brows at the other with a grin after taking a swig of her beverage.

“You dance?” Her interests was suddenly piqued at the thought. Josie danced a lot when she was younger, mainly professionally trained but she could also let loose, if need be. If she was going to try to make the most of the night, might as well enjoy something that she was good at, right? It’d be a good distraction if any.

“I’m down if you are.” Grabbing the other brunette’s hand, Josie led them out to an open spot in the backyard where a few people were already vibing and dancing along to the music.

“I dance,” Penelope echoed with a closed-mouth smile.

A single brow raised when she was dragged outside to the small crowd of people dancing and mingling. It took her a few seconds to adjust to the sheer volume of the music playing through the backyard, but after another few sips from her cup and the familiar warmth of the hint of vodka settling in her throat, Penelope relaxed in her place and started to bob her head in time with the music. It only took her another few minutes until her cup was empty and she barely felt buzzed, but it was enough for her to return to Josie’s side and link their arms.

The witch felt an easy smile tugging at her lips and she drummed her fingers against the bottom of Josie’s cup to urge her to drink.

It was like they were in their own little bubble outside from the rest of the main, large group of people in front of them. Since the two of them were side by side, a child-like smile tugged at Penelope’s lips while she continuously bumped her hip against Josie’s to every other beat of some Daddy Yankee song blasting out of the speakers.

Feeling the slight tap against her cup, she smirked but did as instructed and took a few sips from the cup before knocking the entirety of it back in one swift gulp. The unfamiliar and bitter liquid slithered its way down her throat, causing her to cough a little, the burn of the alcohol overwhelming her senses. She sucked in a breath of cold air with a wince as she eyed Penelope with a perfectly arched eyebrow. How anyone could drink that concoction like it was water was beyond her but it oddly enough did cause her nerves to subside more so than before, although the grainy haze that was forthcoming wouldn’t be wildly welcomed.

“Don’t worry, I can lead.” The taller of the two flashed a wink to punctuate her statement, falling in step and beginning to move her hips in sync with the rhythm of the beat. Her hands sought out Penelope’s hips and firmly planted a soft grip as she slowly moved the other witch’s hips in the same motion as her own.

“Just a starter move for amateurs.” Josie kept her smirk at bay and then turned around with her back to Penelope, still a careful distance between the two, keeping the same rhythm in her hips and adding a side-step move before spinning back around to face her companion.

Penelope’s movements were visible, yet minimal. She was only doing as she was instructed just to appease Josie into thinking that the girl was superior. She wondered how nervous she’d feel if she wasn’t good at dancing, but to watch Josie unveil so much confidence was worth playing dumb. Yet another side of her friend was revealed for Penelope to appreciate.

It was a poor excuse to watch Josie’s hips as an “example,” but when the other girl spun around to face her again Penelope grinned at the other and reached out to pull them closer, hip to hip for a moment before she readjusted them to have a small gap between them. Her hands sought out Josie’s to hold them gently before she paused to get into the music.

“Go easy on me, JoJo, I’m so used dancing lead,” she leaned forward to speak into Josie’s ear once more with a laugh, her hips moving smoothly with the song. She swayed along with fluidity that showed she was simply letting the music guide her along. It was always fun for Penelope to just dance, but given that she was with a good friend it made it even more enjoyable to act a little goofy. She spun on her heel to press her backside against Josie’s front and looked over her shoulder to sing along to the Khalid song they were dancing to, clearly enjoying herself with the bright smile that lit up her features.

Josie allowed herself to get lost in the music, twirling about and keeping in tune with the music as the two took over the dance floor. Compared to how she was when she arrived, she easily could have been mistaken for a completely different person. Maybe it was the alcohol finally taking its toll but she was sure it had something to do with Penelope’s presence just as much. The girl always had a way of bringing things out of Josie.

It was obvious that Penelope was just putting on for her sake but she was glad that she attempted to appease her. It gave her something to tap into and she was thankful for the distraction. A hearty laugh escaped her at her friend’s words, “You’re keeping up fairly nicely, Park. I’ll give you that.” Her laughter was shortly lived, however, when Penelope suddenly turned around and her back was firmly pressed against Josie’s front.

She froze momentarily before falling in beat once more, allowing her hand to casually wrap about the girl’s midsection. Her hand subconsciously pulled the shorter girl closer, her eyes ducking down to watch as their bodies moved as one. For a second, it didn’t matter that there were other people around, she was too lost in all that was Penelope for any of them to even matter.

Josie buried her nose in the crevice of the brunette’s neck, drawing in her scent and loving the feel of the soft skin there. Josie honestly didn’t know what had come over her but her ability to form any coherent and rational thoughts were long gone. Before the shorter girl could even process what she was doing, pale pink lips were attached to her friend’s neck, peppering kisses along the length of the exposed skin.

A myriad of emotions hit Penelope like a ton of bricks. The very first thing she felt was the shudder run down her spine from the intimate contact, her eyelids fluttering shut for a moment just to indulge in the way that Josie’s lips brushed against her skin. With the way their hips were moving against one another and the energy it took to dance on top of it, Penelope’s breathing picked up.

To say that it surprised Josie when Penelope leaned further into her touch would be the biggest understatement, if there ever was one. A devious smirked tugged its way at the corner of her lips when her eyes met Penelope’s causing her to keep up her assault on the brunette’s neck, nibbling against the flesh ever so slightly. There was no way she was imagining this. Every one of her senses were far too heightened to even be misconstrued as such.

However Penelope’s little trance was interrupted by the repeating question in her mind— why? It didn’t add up very well to her as to why Josie, this very heterosexual friend of hers, was doing this to her? It was probably the alcohol. Or the pent of sexual frustration the apparently prudish girl felt. Then again, that didn’t seem to add up either.

Whatever it was, it felt nice and they could just blame it on the alcohol if it were to come up so Penelope gave into Josie and leaned into her touch while her eyes scanned through the backyard. She saw that most people were preoccupied with their own business until she locked eyes with the person that she struggled to recognize earlier.

Davina, the junior she’d been trying to hook up with. ‘So that’s why, this fucking brilliant kid..’ she thought.

How did Josie know? She’d only mentioned the girl once or twice. Penelope noted that she had to thank Josie for being such a loyal wing woman later.

It was beyond her as to how she was able to piece everything together in her state of slight inebriation, but the smile on her face became rather coy when she glanced back at Josie with a wiggle of her brows, both suggestive and also saying ‘thank you.’

When the song came to an end and the genre changed to more of a club song, Penelope immediately abandoned the fluid and graceful swaying of her hips to literally grind up against Josie in rhythm with the heavy bass pounding on the dance floor.

Prying herself away from the girl, Josie’s tongue darted out to moisten her lips while she watched Penelope’s hips gyrate against her. It caused mixed emotions to stir within her but she was too far out of character to even pretend to notice how much she’d probably regret all of this later on.

In the distance, the taller brunette could faintly make out a few looks that they’d attracted but as it began to get a bit darker outside, so did the level of intensity of her just absolutely not caring at all. Frankly, about anything. Josie took a short step back as she used her free hand to spin Penelope back around to face her, their faces barely a few inches apart. “Hey.” She greeted in a comically fashion once her eyes were met with emerald ones which somehow appeared more grey-ish. Josie brought one arm up to drape over the brunette’s shoulder meanwhile her free one reached out for a jello shot from some random girl passing by with half a tray full, that she assumed she was taking back in to refill. Quickly knocking it back, she replaced it back on the tray just before the girl got out of a reach, a dopey grin overtaking her features at the tingly feeling it gave her.

“You’re like…super duper good at that.” Her hips mimicked the way Penelope’s had moments before and then fell back into the same rhythm of whatever Rihanna reggae mix had began to play throughout the yard.

“S’hot.” Whether she was referring more to the way the girl moved or the effect it had on her, she didn’t know. She allowed her hand to play with the smaller hairs at the nape of the girl’s neck, cocking her head to the side as she kept her gaze fixated on her eyes. The brunette wrapped her other hand around the girl’s neck as well, clasping both her hands together where they met behind her. Pulling Penelope in closer, Josie kept her eyes open as she leaned forward and closed the distance between the two.

 

Chapter Text

The smaller of the two stared at Josie with such intensity that she had to soften her gaze when she saw the state that the other girl was in. It was all rather confusing, really, because if Josie was acting as a wing woman she was doing everything she possibly could to keep Davina’s attention on them. Maybe a little too much, Penelope thought, but she couldn’t complain since Josie’s help was as good ,if not better than any. With how close Josie was to her there was no way she could be inconspicuous if she stole a glance at Davina. All she knew by her peripheral vision was that Davina was slowly coming closer, and that her eyes were still on them.

But her focus was too unevenly split. Suddenly Josie’s lips were on hers and Penelope was frozen in place. ‘She’s still watching,’ Penelope remembered, and she was grounded once more. It took her a moment to realize what was happening and she leaned forward to return the kiss, and although it was rather chaste on her end, she still made sure to prolong it to be more than a simple peck. Her eyes darted over to what looked like a seething Davina before they traveled back to the girl in front of her. Josie’s lips were soft, but she was somewhat clumsy with placement— and Penelope had to pull away because her heart was beginning to pound rapidly in her chest. She didn’t know that putting up a front to make someone jealous was so exhilarating. The witch knew that the explanation didn’t make much sense, but she took it anyway.

Resting her forehead against Josie’s, she turned her head a bit to have her hair act as some sort of curtain from those watching. “That was a little overboard, but thanks for that. I’m gonna wait a few more minutes before I talk to her.” The emerald eyed girl beamed up at her friend and lifted a hand to squeeze her arm.

There was a moment of hesitance on Josie’s part once their lips connected but as soon as she felt Penelope kissing her back, she couldn’t help but melt into the girl. Her eyes fluttered shut as the pair’s lips moved in sync with one another for what seemed like an eternity in her mind. It was sloppy and over as quick as it started but it caused something to stir within her. Once they broke away, or rather Penelope pulled away, the girl couldn’t help but suck her bottom lip in between her teeth, nibbling on the corner in anticipation. Although her brain wasn’t functioning at its complete ability, she was fully aware that she had overstepped quite a few boundaries. However, what left the brunette’s mouth next was not something she was expecting. “Wh-what?” To her? To whom? Her eyes darted around until her eyes landed on a girl whose eyes were fixated on her as well. Was that - oh. It all clicked together. Penelope hadn’t kissed her because she wanted to, she was just a ploy. The sudden realization made her feel sick in her stomach.

Forcing a smile, Josie averted her eyes to her shoes as she shifted uncomfortably. “Right. Y-yeah, no problem.” There were so many thoughts swirling around in her head, she couldn’t quite grasp on to one. There was no reason for her to feel the way she did. Annoyed, embarrassed, jealous. Penelope was her friend and Josie wasn’t even into girls. It was just the alcohol so she didn’t understand why it bothered her so much but the fact was that it did.

“Hey…I think I’m just gonna head out.” With a pat against the smaller one’s shoulder, Josie turned on heel - slightly stumbling but managing to stay upright. 

The way that Josie looked like she was in some sort of trance - it made Penelope’s brows furrow in confusion, and she wondered if Josie was that much of a lightweight that she was already beginning to go into the stage of inebriation that made a person completely zone out. Penelope was about to open her mouth to voice out her concerns until she heard Josie’s response, her very coherent response compared to the things that left her mouth moments before this. Her mouth, Penelope remembered, that was just on hers— so soft and clumsy, lips that she couldn’t keep glancing at without making things awkward. When she finally processed the words in full she reached forward to grasp Josie’s hand and walk ahead of her so that she could lead them back inside to the much more quiet kitchen. “Woah, easy, easy. Head out? Like back home? You just hooked me up with one of the hottest juniors in our school, can’t we celebrate? You’re fuckin’ amazing! Maybe I can even get you a guy, there’s a few that aren’t fucking morons.” Penelope gestured to outside the screen doors after she set the cup down she’d grabbed from someone passing moments prior to hold Josie steady. “Or.. Do you really wanna go home now?”

Josie was internally thankful when Penelope grabbed her and aided her as a crutch back into the house. There really was no doubt that she probably wouldn’t have made it back inside on her own. Once inside, she propped herself up against the wall, allowing her head to fall back against it. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea for her to head back to Salvatore right now. There was no doubt her dad would kill her if he saw her in this state but her only true concern at the moment was getting away from Penelope. She didn’t want to be near her and smell her stupid (see: hypnotizing) scent and to hear her all too chipper voice as she gushed about whatever dumb thing she thought Josie had done for her, and Penelope was doing just that.

“No!” Realizing that she probably was a little bit louder than she should have been, she closed her eyes with a sigh before trying once more. “No, I just - I just need to lay down.” Her eyes met the ones across from her for a brief second before she broke away, glancing at the clock behind the other girl. It was still fairly early but it’s not like anyone would notice her departure anyways. “You have fun, though, alright?” Maybe once she slept off the liquor, she wouldn’t even remember the night’s events and that was definitely something she was banking on.

“M’kay. Whatever you say, sweetie.” Penelope knew that Josie was in no condition to do virtually anything alone. In fact, she knew that Josie wasn’t really all there in the head at the moment. The witch knew the feeling, but at this point in time it took far more to get her past the point of being buzzed. She simply stepped away to allow the other girl some room to move with crossed arms, amusement dancing in her eyes while she observed her clumsy form swaying from side to side.

Not trusting herself to make it to her car in one piece, Josie brought her gaze back to the other witch. Despite not really wanting to be in her presence, she knew she didn’t really have any other choice. “Walk me out?" 

When Josie gave up she chuckled and shook her head. A split second after, she then realized that Josie drove to the event, that neither of them were really capable of driving, and that she didn’t really have any other friends at this party who would be up for helping – Hope and Jed were definitely out of the question. The only option would be to bring Josie back to her room, but it would mean she would have to take care of her friend instead of staying with Davina.. .she knew what the right choice was, but did she really have no other alternative?

A sigh escaped her lips. This was a no-brainer. Josie was more important. Davina sure to text her anyway. 

“C’mere. You can sleep in my room. Just let me try this teleportation spell I’d been working on. Can’t have the head master’s daughter caught stumbling into headquarters with the town succubus, right?.” 

She stood in front of Josie for a moment to find an efficient and quick way to get them out of the party without anyone seeing her perform magic, her hands moving from one place to another before she opted to just give the taller girl a piggyback ride. Her grip was firm– there was no way she was going to put up with any struggling on the other girl’s part.

At the offer, Josie immediately protested. “I’m fine, I swear it.” She reached out for the near wall to prevent herself from toppling over as the pair attempted to maneuver through the mass amount of people. “Walking is the hard part. Everything else is fine.” Well, with the exception that everything wasn’t. Her speech didn’t sound like she had an impediment anyone, it was much less slurred. Not that she could say the same thing for her hand-eye coordination as she accidentally grabbed someone’s arm that she thought was an addition to the wall, and judging by the way her feet tried to move at the same time - okay, maybe she wasn’t in the best mindset but Penelope didn’t have to know that. “I’ll text you as soon as - “ The girl was cut off mid sentence by the sudden action and before she could process anything, she was being lifted onto the smaller brunette’s back.

She still had enough energy to argue that she was perfectly capable of making it home but just by that move alone, she could tell Penelope was much stronger than she was and it’d be pointless.

It was wobbly at first considering Josie was just dead weight on her, but Penelope persisted while she walked out the house and across the behind a phone booth.

Penelope looked around them before reciting the spell that she’d learned from her mother years ago. She was a little rusty so it took her a try or two (of course, with Josie’ s siphoning assistance) but soon their view transformed from dingy Mystic Falls surroundings to the inside hall of the Salvatore building.

“Jojo, can you get my keys? They’re in my jacket’s left pocket.”

Sighing, Josie did as she was told and reached into the girl’s right pocket - despite being told the left. Coming up unlucky, she dug into the other and pulled out the keys, dangling them over Penelope’s shoulder for her to grab. “Don’t let me ruin your night, Penny.” The frown on her face went completely unnoticed by the other. “Isn’t Devin still over there? She’ll be looking for youuuu.” The statement came out in a sing-song manner, as she tried to keep up whatever idea that she was conned into doing that had Penelope so elevated not too long before. 

The other girl snorted and squeezed Josie’s thighs before grabbing the key over her shoulder. “Devin will definitely be seeing me around, don’t worry about that.” Penelope humored the other girl while she struggled to unlock the door. She huffed when she finally managed to open the door and practically kicked it open, then closed once they were both inside. Penelope walked into the bedroom, then set Josie down on her bed before she left to her bathroom to retrieve a few items. When she returned she tossed them all onto the bed and made sure that the girl was upright against the headboard, after she took off her shoes. “Drink both of these water bottles. I wanna see both of them empty. And take the Advil if you still think I’m hot. That means you’re still really fucking drunk.” Penelope winked at the other and spun around to walk over to her closet to try and find them both some clothes to sleeping. 

“All of it?” She eyes the two water bottles with a grimace. Hadn’t she had enough drinking of anything for the night? She knew it was only to help her in the long run so she didn’t object. “I’ll drink the water but I don’t think me taking Advil changes facts.” Josie winked playfully from where she sat as she placed the Advil into her mouth, anyways and knocked it back in one quick swig.

Penelope would be lying if she said she wasn’t disappointed with how tonight turned out since she was planning on getting wasted with Josie, not leaving in record time with only one of them drunk. But when she really thought it through, there was nothing that could really bring Penelope’s mood down. There were so many good things happening at once that she felt somewhat overwhelmed to the point of where she felt.. nothing. A good kind of nothing, a sort of contentment that Penelope found to be foreign. She turned to Josie and tossed her a t-shirt and running shorts before she started to strip down as well to change into an oversized, plain black t-shirt. “Never thought that I’d be the one taking care of you for once. Do you need me to call your sister or some shit? I know she’ll probably be looking for you.”

Continuing to drink from the water bottle, she tried to get as much as she could down, knowing she’d most likely be scolded if she didn’t even try. She sat the bottle back down on the nightstand after a few more sips, shrugging her shoulders at the question.

“Could you, please? Tell her that I - um, that I had car trouble or something?” Josie was probably the worst liar in existence so unless Penelope came up with something better, she just hoped it’d sound more believable not coming from her.

Taking the clothes given to her, she opened her mouth to inquire if it was okay to use her friend’s bathroom until her eyes landed on the brunette getting undressed before her. Something told Josie to look away but for some reason she couldn’t. She allowed her eyes to linger a little too long before forcing her gaze away and hoping Penelope hadn’t noticed. She was trying her best to make everything as normal as possible but it was proving to be a much tougher feat than she realized. Her previous question forgotten, she tossed her legs on the side of the bed, taking a different approach than the other. Josie slid on the shorts under her skirt and pulled her skirt off over the shorts, she then turned her back to her friend and quickly slipped on her top. Once she was dressed, she pulled the covers back to slide underneath the bedding, plopping down on the pillows in the process.

Every thought from that night came flooding back to her, her body feeling as though it was sinking into the mattress. In all honesty, that wouldn’t have been a bad thing. Maybe if the mattress had swallowed her whole right then and there, that would have meant that this all could have been one big nightmare that was over and done with. Why had she kissed Penelope? And why did she like it? She heard plenty of stories about girls getting drunk and kissing their friends but she was sure this didn’t equate. Josie brought her hand up to brush against her lips, remembering just how their lips felt against one another. The thought alone made her giddy but she couldn’t allow herself to think about that…or even Penelope in that way. They were friends. Just friends. There was that naggy feeling again. The witch instantly tensed up. Turning onto her side, she curled up against the pillow, trying her hardest to drown out her thoughts. Maybe all she needed was to sleep it off.

Luckily, Penelope hadn’t noticed the myriad of internal turmoil that the other girl was going through due to her absence. She’d disappeared and made a quick phone call to Lizzie via the emergency contacts on Josie’s phone that she’d managed to snag while the other was getting dressed. It took a lot of convincing that Josie was in good hands but after making no move to give in to Lizzie’s demands that Penelope ‘bring her twin back right this second’, it seemed that hanging up in the girl’s face was a good enough way to end the conversation. At least she knew where Josie was, right?

“Mission successful. You’re all mine tonight, Jojo.” she murmured to the girl as she made her way back over to the bed and over to Josie who now appeared to be asleep with her back to Penelope. Her gaze remained fixed on the witch’s resting form. There was always a part of Penelope that wanted to kiss Josie, the same lustful side of her that pushed her into pining after Davina for a while as well. She scored a kiss from Josie, finally got Davina to notice her, passing grades in Math and a lot of things had began to turn up lately in her life. She knew that half of these things wouldn’t be achieved, if not as quickly, without Josie. It made Penelope incredibly thankful for the girl’s presence in her life despite how sexually frustrated she felt with all the grinding and seduction that was done tonight, but she couldn’t bring herself to complain about anything. Her mind was all over the place, but all she could really focus on was making sure that Josie was okay.

It was all too good for her, she concluded, when she picked up her own iPhone and took notice of the three notification that lit up the screen. Three texts from Davina. Specifically, one cute selfie and two texts. There were a few other notifications but she couldn’t be bothered to deal with any one else at this hour.

Ever so affectionate, she reached aside to thread her fingers through Josie’s hair absentmindedly while her other hand held onto her phone while she texted Davina back. She thanked god that things were staying somewhat tame between them over text considering that she had company right beside her, but she couldn’t see herself falling asleep anytime soon with the innuendos and teasing that she was receiving. Every so often a chuckle would accidentally slip out and she tried to stay as silent as possible so that Josie could sleep in peace, but she couldn’t help herself whenever she reacted to a text from the girl that was just across the street from them.

Although she constantly tried, Josie quickly learned that she probably wouldn’t be getting much sleep any time soon. Instead, she chose to continue facing the wall, hoping that maybe just maybe she could pass out at some point. It wasn’t that she wasn’t sleepy – she was, very much so – but she couldn’t get her brain to quit shouting at her and the way that Penelope so nonchalantly began to thread her fingers through the girl’s locks weren’t exactly helping the cause, either. Josie sighed contently to herself, reveling in the touch of the other brunette. It was the only thing keeping her sane and her thoughts at bay and from traveling out of her mouth, what with the way that Penelope was constantly giggling beside her.

She knew the source of the laugh, no doubt. It was far from the way that the smaller girl laughed with her and just the thought caused her stomach to turn in an unpleasant way that she didn’t even know it could. She didn’t want this Davina person to be entertaining Penelope. She wanted the girl laid beside her to be giving her, her attention. She wanted to be the reason for her smile. She wanted to lay her head on her chest and - stop. Josie knew she had no reason to be upset with Penelope. She had been the one to cut the other’s night short after all but however selfish it was, she couldn’t help it. Squeezing her eyes tighter, she tried her best to move slowly from the brunette’s reach, hoping Penelope got the hint.

Just like how Josie was beginning to draw away from her, Penelope was gradually beginning to pull her hand away from the other girl until it was fully removed. The same hand ran through her dark locks while her mind was occupied with all kinds of thoughts. The not-so-quiet giggles that she had trouble suppressing was now silence.

The texts seemed to strike a chord in Penelope. Like anyone else she’d get whiplash from the swinging from one topic to another, but she still didn’t enjoy how Davina’s messages sent Penelope back to how she and Josie were dancing in the backyard of that party. She could still make out the other’s figure clearly beneath the sheets. Did the other girl know how enticing she was when she would whine her hips? Josie was also the one to initiate their kiss, the one that left Penelope reeling because she assumed that the other girl’s drunken energy was just that overwhelming. That’s right, Penelope remembered, drunk. It provided some sort of temporary clarity for her. It explained a lot of Josie’s actions, she supposed, but it still didn’t really add up to why Penelope felt like she was denying– making a lie– out of something. But as always, she didn’t delve into it. It was too much self-reflecting for Penelope to be comfortable, so she simply swept the unusual feeling under the rug and raised her phone again.

The inner turmoil the other brunette was battling was slowly starting to die out. It was easier to clear her thoughts when Penelope wasn’t occupying her every sense. The nagging in the back of her head about something as simple as an accidental kiss was just that – an accident. It didn’t explain why she felt the way she did but she just put it down to the alcohol at best. Josie had never been much of a drinker, or rather at all and now she understood why. She made a mental note to never drink hard liquor again. Had she known she was that much of a lightweight, she wouldn’t have to begin with. 

The atmosphere in the room had slowly began to shift. It wasn’t a completely evident change but it was still fairly noticeable. Penelope’s giggle-fest had become short lived but the girl’s breathing had yet to even out so she could sense that she hadn’t fallen asleep just yet. Flipping onto her back, Josie turned her head to face the other, her eyes zoning in on her side profile, watching her intently. Seeing that she was indeed awake and still occupied by her phone, she didn’t say anything. Instead she turned completely on her side to face Penelope fully, hoping that the witch wouldn’t catch her eye in the dim lit room.

However, Josie’s moment of taking in the girl’s features and attempting to stealthily enjoy being in her presence didn’t last much longer when Penelope removed herself from the bed shortly after.

When she saw Penelope move, she froze, her first thought was that she had been caught. The last thing she wanted to do was make things even more awkward. The girl racked her brain for any excuse as to why she’d been staring but then Penelope was up and leaving a very confused Josie. Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion as she watched her disappear out of the room, only to hear the faucet running a moment later. Part of her wanted to use that moment to sneak out. She was definitely more aware now so she was pretty sure that if she chanced it, she’d more than likely be able to make it to her room. But then there was the issue that Penelope had already called Lizzie and glancing at the red blinking numbers from the girl’s nightstand, it really wasn’t the best time to be stumbling into her own room this late.

Once inside of the bathroom, Penelope shut the door quietly behind herself and stared at her reflection in the mirror for a few seconds. Penelope could actually see the confusion surfacing onto her face. There was quite a lot weighing on her mind. Namely and foremost, why were her lips still tingling? Probably from biting on them too hard, she finally concluded. She watched the water run from the faucet and onto her hands in a slightly drunken stupor before she splashed the cold water onto her face.

Getting out of bed as well, Josie followed in the same direction in which Penelope had prior, noticing the water had been running for quite some time. She knocked once, careful to not startle the brunette on the other side. “Penelope? Is everything okay in there?”

Penelope flinched at the sudden interruption of the silence that filled the household. “Huh? Yeah? I’m fine. Just getting washed up…” She explained herself while she opened the bathroom door to reveal herself to Josie, face still dripping water but she didn’t care too much. She chuckled when she saw Josie’s unstable posture and guided her inside with a hand on her elbow, then sat her down on the closed toilet seat. “Your mascara n’ eyeliner n’ everything is all over the fucking place, dingus,” she teased with a fond smile while she grabbed a handful of makeup remover wipes, then used one hand to lift the other’s chin while the other began to swipe away at Josie’s makeup gently. She knew that Josie was different from nearly all of her other friends— in fact the closest one that she’s made since freshman year— but she couldn’t deny how nice it felt to just be there for the other girl. Even if it meant smothering her a little. Under other circumstances she’d leave her other friends to fend for themselves when they’re drunk and reckless. This change of heart in Penelope both made her feel better about herself, yet uncomfortable with the subconscious shift in behavior. Was Josie just going to strip away her entire rebellious persona in one go? Normally she’d lash out at any attempt to “correct” her behavior, but here she was embracing it due to the one person that managed to wiggle her way into Penelope’s daily life. It all was just weird. Her gaze lingered upon the other’s lips while the wipe smoothed over it, then emerald met brown orbs once more. “You uh, you feelin okay? Seems like you had a nice ass time at the party. Shit, you didn’t come here ‘cause you feel nauseous, right?“

For Josie, the gesture was nice, yet simple. She easily could have cleaned up herself but of course she wasn’t going to protest the extra help. Her eyes stayed trained on the smaller girl as she busied herself with the task, taking in how gentle she was in doing so. The subtle glance at her lips didn’t go unnoticed by her, either but she put it down to Penelope having to watch what she was doing, obviously.

However, Josie couldn’t help but let her own eyes dart to the other’s lips in turn, lingering a little longer than necessary before she ripped her gaze away when she heard the raspiness of Penelope’s voice fill the room once again. “No, I feel better. I think I slept the nausea off.” There was no way she was going to let Penelope know that she’d been awake the entire time so she kept up her facade, although the nausea definitely wasn’t due to the alcohol in her system. “I’m a big girl, Penny. You don’t have to worry so much.” Josie patted her friend’s cheek as she pushed herself up from where she sat, and then pulled the girl into a tight embrace. “But thank you for tonight. I did have a good time…and sorry you had to see me like this.” Getting drunk off her ass wasn’t her proudest moment, but she was glad that she had someone like Penelope with her.

“No, yeah, anytime. I’m glad you had fun. I got you, Jojo.”

Penelope returned the other’s hug with as much affection as the other gave.

Pulling out of the embrace, Josie began to move around the girl to head back out until her eyes caught something on the girl’s neck. A broad smirk danced onto her lips at the sight. “Sorry about that by the way.” Josie brushed her thumb against the faint mark on the smaller girl’s neck.

Since the entire embrace was brushed off and nothing was mentioned, the green eyes girl supposed that she was in the clear for now until Josie went ahead and blindsided her yet again. Her head tilted instinctively while the other reached out to touch her neck and she raised a single, very perplexed brow when she saw the coy look on Josie’s face. “Huh? What’re you talking about?” Penelope scooted closer to Josie so that she was in front of the mirror and craned her neck while she tried to see whatever Josie was getting so cocky about. “Holy shit. Did you really mark me?” The brunette guffawed and turned to Josie with widened eyes, then back to the mirror while she poked at the mark left behind.

“You can hardly see it.” She lied, acknowledging that it indeed was a hickey in reference to Penelope’s question. Though it wasn’t dark by any means, it was still there and oddly enough, the brunette was strangely satisfied by that. Not that Josie would ever admit it out loud or anything. Ridding herself of the thought, she continued, “It probably won’t even be there by Monday.” She figured any consolation would be better than none. It was hard to tell if Penelope was freaked out or just surprised that Josie had marked her, so she tried to keep the atmosphere light. It wasn’t her intention at all but at least for the evening, she had one upped that Davina character whom she realized that she now had a dislike for. Moving behind the girl, she stood on her tipped-toes to glance at it from a different angle. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that faint. “Ice helps, right? Do you need me to get you some?”

Josie’s breath was warm against her skin from behind. It sent a small shiver down her spine so she chose to focus on the other’s words instead with a nod, then tied her hair up into a messy bun to expose the rest of her ivory skin under the bathroom’s bright lighting. “Nah, just leave it alone. It’s whatever. And you said that it wasn’t that obvious to begin with, huh?.” She reached around behind her to give Josie a few pats on the butt as a small expression of her appreciation. “I owe you big time for all the shit that you’ve done for me. Like, even before tonight. But especially tonight, ‘cause I know that you don’t like girls and all that shit but you still went in real hard just to help me out. I’ma see if I can set something up with Dav next Wednesday, I know from around that that’s like the one day she doesn’t have extra curriculars so I won’t miss any volunteering.. but I might be a little tired.” She stared right at Josie in the mirror and winked at her, then spun around to lean against the sink with an inquisitive tip of her head. “Hold on. Why’d you come to the bathroom anyway, Saltzman? Miss me?”

Josie already knew where their conversation was heading and she hated it. She was trying her hardest to keep what happened off her mind, at least for the remainder of the night. Especially so because she wasn’t too fond of speaking of a certain someone, but of course Penelope just had to put a damper in that plan. Of course she had just pointed out the hickey but it was all in good fun. Now, she didn’t even want to think about that part regarding their evening. Josie moved out of reach at the pat to her bottom and opted to lean against the wall instead, her hands clasped behind her back as she nervously dwindled her thumbs together. “Don’t mention it. Really.” She meant that in every sense of the phrasing but she chose to let out a light giggle, hoping Penelope would just let the entire situation be. “S’what friends are for.” At the posed innuendo, the brunette couldn’t help but blush. Just when she was trying to get to a place of normalcy, she was back into her uncomfortable stage and hating the entire night’s events. “No - I just - I was making sure you were okay, is all…. but I think I’m going to call it a night.” Forcing a fake yawn, she stretched for added measure, her mood completely shot once again. “I’ll see you in the morning?” With a nod, she exited the bathroom door and made her way back to the brunette’s bedroom.

 

Chapter Text

Two weeks had gone by- two very agonizing, long weeks. Two weeks of avoiding the only person that she was truly dying to see. Two weeks of Josie fighting with herself and desperately trying to figure out what her own deal was. Two weeks of torturing herself and still coming up short with no answer for her sudden distance in the first place. After sneaking out the next morning after the party that the pair had attended, she found herself in a very confused state. Josie was always very sure of herself, she was typically very sure of everything but having the past two weeks to herself left her head reeling. Penelope definitely didn’t deserve the treatment that she was being given but the brunette really felt as though she had no other choice but to avoid her.

Glancing down at the last text she received a few days prior from the other girl, Josie couldn’t help but frown at the immediate guilt that washed over her. Somehow she had persuaded her dad to let her spend a few weeks with her aunt Bonnie after making up some story about needing to perfect some hex for an upcoming final. The story was far from believable but he went with it anyways and luckily Bonnie hadn’t questioned it either.

Since that day, every attempt of Penelope trying to contact her went unanswered, she’d purposely avoid her around the halls – even going as far as to skip class once, and the thing she felt the worst about was leaving the girl to do all the volunteering alone. Not that she was one hundred percent that Penelope had even gone but considering she hadn’t had any follow up calls from the shelter questioning her of her whereabouts, she assumed that was the case.

Thankfully she had managed to make it through another successful day of school without running into the girl and now that it was Friday once again, she figured that she could relax all weekend, until she had to play ‘ninja’ again the following week. Pulling into Bonnie’s driveway on the opposite side of town, Josie killed the engine and hopped out of her car, finally glad to be away from Salvatore. Who knew trying to dodge someone could take so much out of a person? That was the main thing that Josie was looking forward to not having to do all weeknd… But upon exiting, she was shocked to see someone sitting on the steps of her porch. As she walked closer, the person’s silhouette became more distinct and she could see the very person that she had been avoiding. Josie honestly didn’t know what to say. She was now literally being forced to face the brunette.

This wasn’t just a simple call that she could forward and as much as she had wanted to learn that disappearing spell she’d witnessed from her years of watching Charmed reruns, that never happened so she was out of luck on vanishing her away, too. “Wh-what are you doing here?”

Penelope was livid. The only thing that she could really think about as of late was Josie. That was quite the exaggeration but if she really thought it through, everything went back to the other girl. With the way things turned out after the party she assumed that her friendship with Josie would reach an all-time high. It felt like the two of them really developed more trust and showed new sides of each other to one another, something that Penelope wasn’t too fond of unless she was faking it. But then it went straight into nothing, into brushing Penelope off and avoiding her in the halls. This week she was beginning to think that Josie transferred schools if it weren’t for the two classes the two shared.

It was hard to focus on school when the one person who convinced her to, who actually kept her in check wasn’t helping her at all. So she simply figured that Josie was trying to really push Penelope by leaving her alone, but all of the time added up until Penelope realized that she was being straight up ignored with no explanation. Josie’s actions infuriated her to no end, but she knew that it was almost the exact same thing that Penelope did to her in the beginning. But Penelope wasn’t known for being abundantly patient so here she was, air pods in with music blasting while she waited for Josie to arrive.

Yet when she saw the other girl (damn, she looked tired) the first thing Penelope did was yank out her ear buds and launch into her. Her arms encircled the other’s waist in a tight hug and Penelope buried her face into the base of Josie’s neck, then she pulled away with gaze so fiery that her actions probably didn’t match the person standing in front of Josie.

“… So I tried to be patient n’ understanding like you were— like I thought you were— but I fucking couldn’t. Not after a dog pissed on me yesterday because I couldn’t remember their schedule without you, and definitely not after I needed you to help me study for the calc quarterly! I didn’t even know what the fuck a derivative was, Jo!” She leaned closer and closer to Josie, her raspy voice wavering ever so slightly while she tried to keep her voice level.

“And at first I was like, fuck - yeah, fine, she’s testing me, y'know? If I’m being forreal about all this. So I rolled with it. And I have no idea what you’re trying to get out of this but I feel like my entire schedule’s messed up without you. I fucking miss you, but you don’t need to ignore the hell out of me and act like you’re fine with all your damn friends when you can’t even text me back!”

Josie prepared herself for some type of lash out but the expected hadn’t come and instead she was being brought into that same state of confusion that she had been in the last time she was in the girl’s presence. The hug that she received didn’t help to settle her nerves but she found herself awkwardly returning the hug, anyway. It felt nice, familiar, and Josie hated how much just that simple action made her realize just how much she had missed her.

She began to think that maybe she was worried over nothing but then Penelope was pulling away and the look on her face was enough to let Josie know that she definitely wasn’t in the clear as of yet. She hadn’t expect her actions to affect Penelope as much, she was sure she had better things to be doing instead of caring whether Josie was bothering or not. However, the words that flowed from the brunette’s lips only intensified the guilt she felt, drowning out all previous doubt of the girl caring at all. The taller of the two tried her best to keep any emotions from displaying onto her features, trying to feign indifference, only to falter when those three words filtered through her ears. ‘I miss you.’

Once she was sure Penelope was done, she took a step forward, blinking a few times to collect her thoughts. She really didn’t have any reason to give the girl, at least not one that she was willing to share. How was she supposed to tell her that, that night still haunted her every thought and despite her taking time to sort out what her feelings were, now she was just confused as ever about how she felt about the girl.

Josie honestly thought she had spent too much time with Penelope. That was the only logical explanation for her still having certain thoughts even after she was no longer inebriated.

“I’ve just been busy.” The lie was as good as any, so she just went with it.

“We both have other friends. It’s not unheard of that we hang out with them.” She had began to spend more time with MG again and Penelope’s bond around school didn’t go unnoticed with Davina. Fumbling with her keys, she looked down at her fingers then back up again. She couldn’t allow Penelope to just show up and break her resolve yet again.

“Busy? I’m busy with stuff too but we’re friends, you can’t set aside like, six seconds to text me back and tell me you don’t wanna hang out? Would the world explode if you just picked up your damn phone to say no to me? You’re so full of shit, I have you on Snapchat and Instagram. Social media fucking exists, you get tagged in shit all the time. And don’t flatter yourself into thinking I’m stalking you, I needed to know what was going on since you left me and my white t-shirt to get pissed on by a dog!” Penelope kept her gaze fixed on Josie’s expression, scrutinizing the other girl just to get some idea on whatever was going through the other girl’s mind. The frustration was present on the girl’s face but Penelope really couldn’t tell what it was over. It seemed like the other girl was as stubborn as a rock. There wasn’t gonna be any way for Penelope to get through to her if she kept yelling at her but Penelope thought this over before she came. If Josie wasn’t rational enough to be straight up with her, then Penelope was going to have to be the one who sucked it up and went for it.

“Not only that…I mean, you literally left school. Yeah - MG told me where you were by the way, so you can thank him for that but like…did I do something?”

With a deep breath, she stepped back from Josie so she wasn’t invading her personal space the way that she was for the past few minutes. The brunette gave Josie a measured stare while one hand combed through her own hair, the other shoving itself into the pocket of her shorts.

“Can’t you just tell me what I did? Was it the party? Did someone do something to you? C’mon, just give me something to work with and I promise I’ll try work it out.” She faltered and maneuvered a bit so that she could be eye level with her friend, her gaze softening significantly. It didn’t stop her tone from being somewhat bitter and mocking towards Josie, since she still wanted to fully indulge a little in her anger.

“Or like.. do you just not wanna chill together anymore? I fucking hate not knowing what to do, ‘cause you became a huge part of my schedule and I gotta make adjustments if you want out. I’ll be pissed, I’m still pissed, but at least I can finally fucking have a clear idea of what you want.”

The fury in Penelope’s eyes combined with the obvious anger within her tone was not making this easy on Josie. She disliked being yelled at, and more importantly, she disliked being targeted. Her defenses were already up but now her walls were sealed, she wasn’t going to let Penelope knock them down, no matter how much she wanted to.

“I’ve been in your life for what - three months, maybe? I’m sure it’s not that drastic of a change.” But she knew it was. Her own schedule had been flipped upside down the past few weeks that she hadn’t spent any time with the witch. It was a drastic change. Of course, she wasn’t going to let on or show any remorse for her actions, though. Rolling her eyes, she averted them to the front door, hoping that maybe Bonnie, or even Damon who had been around a hell of a lot lately, would come out and save her this conversation.

“I don’t have to explain myself to you, and stop trying to make me feel bad about the volunteering. No one forced you to go. At least for once I didn’t.”

Josie used the pause to adjust the bow-shaped headband on her head in an attempt to distract her shaking hands. Penelope had every right to be upset with her but Josie was too blinded by her own frustrations that she began to take it out on the one person that didn’t deserve it. At the final statement that left the other’s mouth, the smaller girl’s demeanor softened. “Look, Penny – Penelope. You didn’t do anything…I don’t want to not be your friend but I need space, okay?” Josie didn’t know what ‘space’ entitled exactly. Having been in Penelope’s presence again, although the other girl was completely upset with her, didn’t exactly make it easier to keep ignoring her but she knew she needed to. “I’ll continue to help with the project but let’s just leave it at that.” She refused to meet her gaze, choosing to stare down at her sandals instead, playing with the hem of her skirt.

“What is with you?! I was sat here thinking through literally every possible scenario that would explain why you’re ditching volunteering on top of me. Like, what did I do that was so bad that made me so fucking insufferable you had to ditch me for mandatory work hours, you know?“ Penelope chuckled, and by her tone one could tell that she was still stumped, and even more hurt by the extent of what she imagined. “So no, we can’t just leave it at that. You know it’s not ‘cause it’ll just be in the back of both of our minds. And because we’re not in middle school and you can’t dub your friend for two weeks straight without a clear explanation. And fine, maybe I’m blowing it out of proportion to whatever degree you think I am, but I like you, Josie. I really like you, and I feel like shit knowing that the one friend I make and actually want to keep around is kicking me to the curb with a shit reason, one that probably isn’t even fuckin’ valid. So if you can’t even go into it and consider my feelings a little bit so we can just get past this bullshit… like, why do you even need space all of a sudden? Is it your grades? Are your friends pissed that we hang out? I know mine has had a thing or two to say, but I don’t care….” Penelope stopped to take a deep breath. She felt pathetic for pleading like this but right now, she didn’t even feel like herself. Begging some girl to stick around? Usually it was the opposite way around.

“I tried to think of a reason that wasn’t too fuckin’ soap opera-y for you to go completely ghost on me, but nothing made sense, y'know? Nothing really justified what you’re doing, except for some existential philosophy bullshit.”

The brunette’s tone was even and tempered, but every word was spoken honestly. She knew that she rambled, but she was almost starting to lose her resolve in trying to get through to Josie. Nothing was adding up to her at this rate. Maybe she had a lot of neglected thinking over to do when she was alone, because the way that she was gripping onto one of Josie’s hands was starting to baffle her.

Josie’s gaze stayed fixed on the ground, not daring to look up at Penelope even for a split second. Though the girl was obviously upset, Josie could hear something else in her voice. There was a sense of hurt, maybe? Desperation even? Every word that was thrown at her made her feel more and more terrible, and she didn’t think that was even possible at this point. She wanted to be honest with Penelope, she really did, but there was no way for her to fess up to something that she still hadn’t sorted out herself.

“It has nothing to do with you. So whatever you’re thinking, stop.” The girl reassured the other, her thumb tracing back and forth along the hand that had found hers in the midst of the green-eyed girl’s rant.

“I have a lot of …. things… that I have to sort out with myself and I can’t do that if we are how we were before. I missed you, too. Trust me, you have no idea.” She let out a nervous giggle then continued, finally bringing her eyes up to be met with the ones boring up at her, “I don’t know how long I will need but I need you to give me that.”

Josie was trying to be as open and honest with Penelope as she possibly could without completely spilling everything she had been holding in. She just hoped it was good enough to pacify the smaller brunette for the time being.

Penelope simply stared at Josie. She struggled not to keep pressing Josie into opening up. The ambiguity surrounding the other girl was just too overwhelming compared to how open the two usually were with one another.

“But if it has nothing to do with me.. why does it look like I’m the only one you’re avoiding?” She inquired in a smaller voice, obviously just so the other girl wouldn’t shrink away now that she was finally starting to open up again. Her persistence returned, and unlike Josie she was staring right into the girl, just searching her expression for some sort of sign that the girl was being genuine in her words.

Because you are the only one I’m avoiding. “It’s not just you.” The taller one lied, saving face. Noting that Penelope’s hostility was seeming to diminish caused Josie to release a breath that she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding. At least she’d dodged one bullet for now.

“So when you’re done with whatever shit you’re doing, we’ll be cool again? And do you need to keep ignoring my texts too? Like... I’m fine if we can’t chill after school but it’s embarrassing sending like, twenty texts a day to someone who doesn’t send back shit.” A sheepish smile crossed her features while she looked down at the ground to hide the action— she still wanted to show Josie that she meant business, if that was even possible. When she looked up again she was well mollified, but there was still doubt behind her gaze.

“Next time – let’s hope there isn’t a friggin’ next time… just tell me straight up. I’ll try not to punch you in the gut about it. And you still owe me a talk whenever you’re done doing what you need to do.” With a stern look she squeezed Josie’s hand and released it. The brunette shifted her balance from one foot to another, with a sort of childish nervousness on what to do next.

She wasn’t going to push Josie further away by prying any further. She’d just wait until the girl was ready to tell her what her deal was. If she ever did.

“Texting is fine, I won’t ignore them, promise.” The girl offered a small smile in reassurance. The compromise wasn’t only for Penelope’s sake but for hers as well and besides, it was actually rather cute how much she had wanted to contact Josie, so she figured the least she could do was allow for non-verbal communication.

“But yeah, sure. We’ll talk.” Hopefully she could get her head clear and have everything completely blow over, then maybe there wouldn’t even be a need to have any talk. That much she was praying for.

Nodding, the emerald eyed with took Josie’s words at face value. “I— I was expecting a fight where I’d stomp off, honestly.” Penelope awkwardly rubbed the back of her neck.

Josie could sense the nervousness radiating from her friend. It was actually a foreign image. Penelope was typically more confident and she couldn’t recall if she ever had seen her anything less.

“Why? Did I infuriate you that much?” She quirked an eyebrow, genuinely curious.

“Listen, I’m sorry, Penelope.” Maybe it was a little too soon but she had to ask, “Forgive me?”

“Of course you fucking pissed me off, you’re my best friend right now. I feel like I’ll explain everything to you whenever we need to have our little talk thing, but..” Penelope chewed on her lower lip pensively as she trailed off, her gaze wandering along Josie’s expression in an almost absentminded manner. She then shook her head with a feigned, unapologetic shrug of her shoulders. “I’m not forgiving you just yet, hell no. You still didn’t give me a good enough reason for all this bullcrap, and on top of that now you’re making me wait even though for half of this shit, you didn’t really have to, Josette.” A pointed look was shot at the other. Penelope was all over the place with Josie, but she really was tearing at the seams for whether or whether not she wanted to maintain her anger towards Josie.

There didn’t seem to be a point in being so mad just yet, not when there was no clear argument on Josie’s end.

“I just thought back to how angry you got at me in the halls that time I fucked up real bad, then I thought ‘bout how pissed I am now. It didn’t seem like the hottest combo on the menu, you know what I mean?”

Josie didn’t even put up much of a fight when Penelope lashed out on her for going AWOL. It seemed too inappropriate for the moment to throw a temper tantrum. And even if she was relieved to finally be talking to Josie again, she knew that she had to try and stay level-headed. It was getting progressively harder to do so around the her, though. ‘Hell, it’s hard to think straight when I’m not around her too,’ she thought in retrospect with a mental scoff.

“I’m sorry.” The brunette tried again, hating the way ‘Josette’ sounded coming out of Penelope’s mouth…she was so accustomed to Jojo that it felt foreign coming from the other witch. She’d say it a million times if she had to, but she knew that no matter how many times she apologized to the other, it wouldn’t change nor fix what she did. Even though Josie knew she deserved it, the fact that Penelope was so forward about not forgiving her right away did sting a little.

“I don’t forgive you yet, but I really hope you get outta this rut, Josie.”

“I guess I can accept that.” It was hard for Josie to take in the words being shot at her, but it’s not like she could really blame her. She was sure that had the roles been reversed, she would have felt the exact same – maybe more upset than Penelope had been.

Brown orbs stayed trained on the green ones opposite her, trying to convey as much sincerity in her words as she possibly could. “You’ve become my best friend too, just so you know.” She spoke up after a bit.

The term ‘friend’ sounded bitter on her tongue but she danced around it and continued, “And I know I’ve been terrible. I know that.” The fact that Penelope was trying so hard with her and to make things right put her mind at ease a little. Maybe if she did tell her – when the time was right, that is – there was a little inkling of hope that things wouldn’t be completely ruined between the two. That was mostly just wishful hoping on her part for now.

“Mm. I know.” ‘Damn blind alley, though.’ The two of them were at the point of the conversation where they really did have to drop it or everything would start over again. Penelope sent the other one last supportive, soft smile before she cleared her throat and swallowed down any other questions pertaining to the sensitive topic that were on the tip of her tongue. It felt like the only way that the two of them could get past any of this was with Penelope being the patient one, as annoying as she found it to be.

“I’ll make it up to you. Anything you want.” Of course she knew Penelope would have rather had her to be open with her regarding everything, but if not that, wasn’t something better than nothing at all?

“Anything?” The husky-voiced girl repeated impishly, the word immediately appealed to a more natural side of her, the one full of mischief and lightheartedness. Her eyes narrowed at Josie in deep thought.

The word opened so many windows of opportunity, but she didn’t think that playing little pranks on Josie would really help the tension between them settle. She wondered what made Josie such a time bomb all of a sudden– what would set her off. How it became this way. “Why–” Penelope’s little daydream was cut off when she realized that she was taking things too seriously again then tilted her head towards Josie’s - or whomever she was staying with - house.

“Before I give you this so-called space that you so desperately need…since I’m here….”

“Well, well, what teenage delinquent do we have here?”

“The infamous Damon Salvatore, it’s a pleasure, sir.” Penelope held her hand out to the older man.

Josie stared wide eyed as the two exchanged pleasantries. This is not what she needed right now. ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ Could the universe allow her to deal with one thing at a time?

 

Chapter Text

“Before I give you this so-called space that you so desperately need…since I’m here….”

“Well, well, what teenage delinquent do we have here?”

“The infamous Damon Salvatore, it’s a pleasure, sir.” Penelope held her hand out to the older man.

Josie stared wide eyed as the two exchanged pleasantries. This is not what she needed right now. ‘Are you fucking kidding me?’ Could the universe allow her to deal with one thing at a time?

“Sir? Oh, Josette. I like her already.” He turned to his ‘niece’ with a devilish smirk, offering her a small wink. “Wait, don’t tell me. I know this one. You’re the one little Josette here can’t stop talking about. Penelope, is it?”

“Uncle Damon!” The heat began to immediately rush to Josie’s cheeks and she knew that it was impossible to try to hide it.

“Is little Josette blushing?” Josie lifted her head to stare daggers at the source of the question which just had to be Penelope. “Oh, she is. And she’s mad about it.”

It was clear that Penelope was enjoying this way too much and between everything Josie was already dealing with, she wasn’t exactly keen on adding this to it.

Grabbing Penelope, she turned her around and began leading her down the sidewalk. “Okay, no. You two – this isn’t happening. Nope. You go, now.”

“Okay, okay. I’ll stop. Let the girl stay.” Damon chimed in, his smirk still firmly in place.

“Yeahhh, Josette. Let the girl stay.” Penelope mimicked. She could see Josie drop her hands from urging Penelope’s dismissal and she knew that she was giving in.

“Fine.” As much as she still didn’t want to be around the shorter brunette, the far dominant part that missed her was glad that she had an excuse to have Penelope stay.

Seeming satisfied with the change of heart, Penelope followed after Damon with Josie sluggishly trailing behind them.

Penelope stopped short and turned to glance at Josie. “You did say anything, right?”

Josie just stared blankly at the girl, which in turn, Penelope took as a yes.

Giggling to herself, she shook her head. “Don’t worry, princess. Just cook for me. Food is kinda our thing, right? So, now it’s your turn to treat me.” And with that, she sauntered into the house.

An exasperated sigh emitted from the Josie at Penelope’s request. As much as she was glad that Penelope hadn’t been in any hurry to leave, that meant spending more time than necessary with the other girl and cooking meant even more time and that definitely wasn’t going to help with the space that she needed. However, she did say anything so it wasn’t like she could tell her no. Hell, under any circumstance, she never could. The brunette took a second to pretend to think it over. She was a good cook, she probably cooked more than her mother half the time when she was younger so it was a good excuse to show off her skills.

“Only if you help me.” She countered with a sly smirk, entering the house behind her. “Away from him. C’mon.” She gave Damon a warning glare.

Taking the hint, Damon stood from where he sat. “You know what? I think I was supposed to pick Stephanie up from school today. Tell Bon-Bon that we’ll be by later.”

“Be nice to her, kid.” He whispered to Josie as he headed towards the door.

Once he was gone, Josie locked the door behind him and then headed towards the hall where she assumed Penelope had disappeared to.

“I was only joking about you helping, y’know. The TV is right through there”, She pointed down a corridor that led to the living area, “Or you can join me in the kitchen. S’up to you.”

Not waiting for Penelope to respond, the girl made her way into the kitchen and began pulling out all of the necessary ingredients. Although she definitely could make a handful of things and probably should have gone the simpler route, she decided to make her infamous enchiladas instead. Maybe she was trying to impress Penelope a little but she tried to not focus on that thought.

“Just call me if you need help, cupcake!” Penelope hollered back to Josie, since she still hung around in the front while she unlaced her boots. When she was finished, she began to wander around aimlessly, just like the first time that she came over to Josie’s dorm, and took a small journey around the household curiously. At one point she cut through the kitchen while she was occupied with her phone while she texted, then set it down on the counter and continued to snoop around the main floor. “This house is a little… witchy. But so fancy,” she observed aloud while she picked up a bottle of tequila that was on top of the fridge with a whistle, then set it down again.

“What does that even mean?” Josie’s mouth turned up in an amused grin.

But before she could get an answer, Penelope then disappeared again so that she could look at the framed pictures that were hanging along the walls. Everything she saw made Josie all the more endearing and every so often a loud coo would escape her lips until she finally gave up to return to the kitchen and retrieve her phone. For a house that wasn’t her own, there’d been an abundance of pictures of the twins around.

“This is the fucking holy grail. Hold on, I just realized how much cute blackmail I got right here,” she quipped, her noisy, quick footsteps gave away the fact that she was scrambling about the house to take pictures of young Josie.

“Blackmail for what, Park? You’re not supposed to black mail your best friend.” Josie stated matter-of-factly with a pointed stare, putting emphasis on the adjective.

“Can I raid your room next? I’m gonna raid your room next.”

Putting the final touches on her dish, Josie made a move to insert it into oven when she then began to hear the footsteps become fainter and then the posed question. “No!” She screamed, plopping the tester spoon into her mouth while she ran through the house in search of Penelope.

“My room is off limits!” There was no way she was going to let Penelope in there, especially not after the past two weeks. Once she found the girl in question, she grabbed her hand to prevent her from heading upstairs.

Seeing the other girl come zooming out from around the corner, Penelope squeaked and tried to back away instinctively, only to cackle when she heard the taller girl’s desperate tone. “Aw.. you want to hold my hand! So cute, like the wittle baby pictures!” She babbled like she was speaking to a child, therefore completely deflecting whatever Josie just told her. She entwined their fingers and swung their hands until she looked down to see just how hard Josie was gripping onto her, her brows raising both in amusement and growing interest. “Woah! Jesus fucking Christ, what’s in there? The world’s biggest strap-on collection? Now I have to see,” Penelope flashed a cheshire cat grin at the other. She knew that she was easily the stronger of the two so she decided to trudge up the staircase with Josie in tow just to tease the other girl, but she wouldn’t invade her space if the other girl really didn’t want her to. In short, it was just classic Penelope pushing her chances for fun.

With a playful eye roll, Josie dropped their hands and crossed her arms over her chest. She stopped short a few stairs below Penelope, making the best puppy dog face she could possibly muster up - complete pout and all. It always worked on Lizzie when she was younger and being teased like now, so she was going to chance that it had the same effect on Penelope. “Penelope.” The brunette whined. She knew that she probably looked ridiculous but her caring at this point was far less than her trying to keep the other out of her room. Considering she had a lot of spare time these days, she had more time to write. She knew that if Penelope happened upon one of her many notebooks, she probably would have read it considering she knew about Josie’s passion for writing but the contents lately weren’t exactly something for the girl to have access to.

“Aren’t you still hungry?” She tried her best to steer the conversation towards anything else. “I was almost done.”

When there was less weight pulling her down Penelope stopped just short of the landing, then turned around to look down at Josie to tease the other girl. Instead her mouth was left hanging open and the words left her when she caught Josie’s expression. She shut her mouth and narrowed her eyes at Josie. She knew this game and exactly what the taller of the two was trying to pull off, and here she was struggling to actually hold her own against a pouting seventeen year old girl. The two were at a standstill for a good thirty seconds until the cutesy faces on top of the mention of food finally made the witch give in. She stomped down past Josie while she grumbled under her breath and refused to acknowledge the fact that the “dumb, crappy, not fuckin’ cute at all” faces had gotten to her. “Whatever.”

Josie had never been more grateful than she was in that very moment. She made a mental note to store her things away later. Josie gave one last glance up the stairs then followed her friend back into the kitchen, gesturing for the other to take a seat at the island while she grabbed the dish she left unattended to put into the oven and set the timer for twenty minutes. “So what exactly have you been doing the past few weeks without me?” Once she was done, the brunette approached the island and took the seat beside the girl. Propping her head onto her hand, she watched her, completely invested in what she had to say.

“It’s actually been pretty alright. I got a few detentions from your dad. Jed had his soccer ball with him so we played hallway soccer and… and I fucked up a few lockers.” Penelope answered without missing a beat and scratched her head. Now that she was relaying the story to the one levelheaded person she knew, maybe it wasn’t that great of an idea. She looked at the other expectantly for some sort of reprimanding from Josie before she immediately changed the topic to other things. A smirk crossed her features and she nodded to herself with an air of confidence. “Davina and I “hung out” a few times, thanks, but that’s done now. Everyone keeps telling me she has a crush on me, but.. naaaah. I think it’s just sex. She’s a pretty chill friend though.”

Once Penelope was done, Josie simply shook her head at the brunette but chose to not press the issue. She was fairly used to Penelope’s blatant disregard for authority…But then she found herself doing the exact opposite at Penelope’s continuing information. Josie didn’t know why she was even questioning it but she figured maybe she needed something…anything to help her get over this thing she had. “Why is that over? And why do you find that hard to believe? I’ve seen the way she looks at you.” Josie sent Penelope a mock dreamy look for emphasis to her comment. It was easier to laugh it off, despite the actual way she felt about it.

A barely suppressed snort came from Penelope. “Nobody’s meant to like me like that. I’m the school slut. If people like me like that, they just wanna fuck. They all realize it sooner or later. And it’s not like I want people to like-like me either, but.. none of those people end up liking me after they get to know me, if it ever gets to that point. Man, imagine?” The brunette spoke in a chipper tone. It was like the words were common knowledge, facts that were thrown around the school that Penelope had eventually grown numb to. It’s not like it bothered her much in the first place since they were her choices to make, but it was still a little discouraging to see how some people would objectify her so easily. It was easier to let people assume things and to just rock with it. Wanting to dead that topic, anything else that came to mind didn’t seem like it would really capture Josie’s interest, so she thought about academics. “And my grades are alright, I have no fucking clue what I’m doing in calc still. And I just started reading Norwegian Wood again, just for jokes. Volunteering’s been boring without you and it’s kinda fun trying to walk all of the dogs at once, it’s just a pain in the ass to get all the harnesses on before they end up pissing out of excitement,” a dramatic pause was taken for her to send a pointed look to Josie. “Like, you know, on someone’s shirt. Someone’s really nice, Bob Marley n’ white t-shirt.”

“Seems things were still pretty eventful without me. Guess that’s what it’s like to have a life, huh?” A smirk danced onto her lips. “Thanks for sticking to the volunteering, by the way. I think the dogs were just happy you didn’t abandon them, so you can’t really be mad at them….or me.” She added after a beat.

After a few more minutes of light chatter, Josie’s attention was broken away from the conversation when she heard the timer ding. She smiled in excitement as she hopped off the bar stool and over to the oven to retrieve the pan, grabbing an oven mitt to assist her in the process. “We can take the living room. I’ll prepare the plates and meet you in there?”

Penelope looked at the other in silent amusement while she spoke with her chin resting upon her fist. She’d already laid herself out for Josie by being so embarrassing and clingy to her friend, she couldn’t outright say that she missed hearing the other’s input. There was no way she could express just how much two weeks affected her without turning as red as a tomato. When the timer went off she remained unfazed and instead stood up to grab two water bottles for them, apparently familiar with the general layout of the household within those few short minutes. She paused to see if there was any other way that she could help, but when Penelope saw there wasn’t much else to do she hummed “m'kay,” and left for the living room.

As Josie began to prepare two plates for the two, she couldn’t help but think back to what Penelope had said moments prior. It honestly and truly bothered Josie how self depreciating the other was. Of course she knew what people said around school, Penelope was quite known so people were going to talk, but she didn’t think the girl would take any of those things to heart. They couldn’t be more far from the truth. What she felt for Penelope was far greater than just a minor infatuation or sexual desires. She hated herself for not being able to tell the brunette that.  After adding a nice size portion to both plates, the girl grabbed a few napkins and utensils and made her way back out to the other. “Here. I hope you like it.” A sense of nervousness came over her as she handed her friend a plate and took her own rightful seat opposite her. “Feel free to be honest.” Josie nervously bit the inside of her cheek in anticipation, waiting for Penelope to take her first bite.

Penelope looked down at the plate that was in her hand and saw the way that the food was still steaming, so she set it down on her lap and stared at it while it cooled down. “Wow, feels like I’m in an episode of Chopped. Maybe I might be on an episode of Worst Cooks of America… we’ll know once I taste it, huh?” She wiggled her brows at the other before she mouthed a sincere “thank you,” and took a forkful of the pasta and not-so-gracefully began to stuff her face. The girl glanced at Josie and figured how fast she was eating would say enough for her, but since she wanted to really savor the taste of the other’s cooking she lowered the plate again. It didn’t seem to take much effort for Josie to dish out such delicious food so quickly. “It’s good.” She complimented before the two began to eat in silence.

However, that silence was very short lived in comfort. Everything that had been going on between them lately was really riding Penelope and the silence was only making her think on it more. She still had no idea where she and Josie really stood and frankly, she didn’t really like thinking on it but she didn’t know how to break it.

Penelope glanced at Josie every so often as Josie continued finishing off the remainder of her food, glancing up every so often to look at the girl opposite her too, but trying to be as discreet as possible. Once she was completely done, Josie sat the empty plate on the coffee table before taking a few swigs from the bottle of water Penelope had gotten for the two. As she sat the water back in its previous placement, she couldn’t help but allow her mind to wander to their prior discussion. She couldn’t quite place why it was nagging her so much, maybe she was reading too much into things but she had seemed to be doing a lot of that as of late, anyways. “Hey, Pen. Can I ask you something?” Josie paused for a second then continued on, “Have you thought about being in a real relationship? I know you said you haven’t but have you thought about it…Ever?” She nervously sucked her bottom lip between her teeth, hoping it wasn’t weird for her to be going back to that.

The question caught Penelope off guard. How was she to answer that? Or rather how was she to answer that considering she hadn’t, not until recently. It was rather twisted. Was twisted the right word? Twisted because she was.. enamored? Attached? Attached. Penelope was so engulfed by her own thoughts that she didn’t even realize that she’d yet to respond to Josie and set her empty plate back down on the coffee table, then hugged her knees to her chest while she stared at the blank TV screen.

She chuckled and shook her head at the question. “No. I’ve never even tried, never had a reason to.” Penelope hummed and grabbed a pillow then set it down on Josie’s lap, where she rested her head to stare up at her friend with a lopsided smile. “Honestly.. call it cliché, but after my mom cheated on my dad in.. uh, freshman year, I kinda shut off my faith in love. And like. But not in that super emo way that pushes everyone away, it’s more like I just wanna avoid.. letting someone take advantage of me. Like, the way that it played out with my parents fucked me up a little. No relationships for Penelope Park,” she motioned to herself before looking somewhat bashful for rambling so much. “Sorry. That was more than what you wanted. No. Why’d you ask?”

Josie’s fingers absentmindedly entangled themselves in the girl’s scalp while she looked down at her, given Penelope her full attention. There had been so many points during Penelope’s response that made Josie want to stop her but she chose to let her finish first. “But you are letting someone take advantage of you. You’re giving people the one thing they should have to work for. You’re worth more than just a simple one night stand.” Not wanting to sound judgmental or accusatory, Josie plastered a fake smile on her face for Penelope’s sake. “You’re a beautiful girl, Penelope but you’re also so much more. I really can’t fathom how anyone is okay with not having more from you.” Penelope had easily grown to be the best part of her day since the two had gotten closer over the past few months. Josie didn’t understand how anyone was okay with sharing her. In fact, she had gotten rather jealous of anyone else having the brunette’s time when she didn’t on occassion. It was silly but not untrue.

“Maybe I am. It’s not like I do this shit to ‘fill the void’,” Penelope lifted both hands to make air quotes. She really hated coming off as melodramatic, but in retrospect this was the first time that she was ever placed in such a position. In most cases she’d feel like she was being cornered and interrogated but with Josie’s delicate fingers threading through her dark locks, she felt like she was in a comfortable zone. It didn’t stop her from making sure that they spoke informally to make sure that their moods weren’t dampened. “I’m like, naturally always in the mood to…you know. Separately from that, committing to someone freaks me out. And before anything sex never meant anything super deep to me. It all kinda just weaves together, yeah? None of it came from the other. One day someone might wiggle their way into my heart and make me not mind anymore, I have some hope in that too. Not a lot but I mean.. I keep the cynicism on the down-low.” She winked up at the other with a light giggle.

“As for your parents. I’m really sorry about that. I know that I can’t relate at all and that I probably shouldn’t even comment on it but everyone is different. Everyone’s futures are different. Everyone’s heart is different. You can’t be scared based off things not going well with your parents, y’know.” The girl thought back to how often they had differences in opinions, she knew Penelope would most likely just have some retort that completely wiped out Josie’s but she felt it was worth the brunette hearing. “I was just curious, is all.” To say that she wasn’t a bit disheartened would be a lie but she attempted to save face and instead slid from underneath her friend, carefully laying the other’s head down on the couch.

Penelope kept her mouth shut. The words seemed to resonate with her and it wasn’t like she’d ignored them completely, but she didn’t want to try and explain herself when they clearly came from completely different backgrounds. It didn’t seem as though Josie was attacking her, her intentions were all good and that was enough for Penelope to just smile warmly at the girl.

“I uh – I’m going to go put these away.” Grabbing the plates, Josie disappeared to the kitchen, mentally kicking herself for even getting into that discussion.

Penelope nodded and rolled over onto her stomach and closed her eyes.

It seemed as though it was so easy for the two of them to fall back into their old ways with how effortlessly the conversation flowed despite how heavy the topic was, then maybe whatever their rough spot was, wasn’t as bad as Josie let it on to be, she thought to herself. And if it was and things would fall apart between them, she wondered if opening up to Josie was such a good idea. The last thing she would want to do is come off as a burden to the other.

She wondered if it was because of Penelope sleeping around that suddenly made Josie back out of their friendship for the past two weeks, or if something happened regarding it. Why else would she bring it up out of nowhere like that? Then again, Penelope always found herself so fascinated by the way that Josie handled her thought processes, so if they really were going to talk it over then she felt that there was nothing to worry about. Maybe it really was just out of curiosity. She was still puzzled as to what would elicit such a question. Yet being that Penelope was too lazy to be much of a methodical thinker, she simply decided that she’d just adapt to whatever the situation played out into.

At least things seemed at ease for Penelope on the contrary, it was the complete opposite for Josie.

The taller witch took her precious time in the kitchen as she began to rinse off the plates. ‘Get a grip, Saltzman.’ As much as she tried to make sense of it, there was not one logical solution as to why she cared so much about how Penelope chose to live her life. Part of her knew that maybe she was holding out some small hope that Penelope wouldn’t have said what she had, that she would have maybe agreed with Josie in a sense but the other side - which was far more dominant - wouldn’t allow her to even think that. Why did she have to overthink everything? The main thing was that she and the other girl had seemingly started to be on good terms once more and all she had to do was enjoy her company and make the most of it for the time being. With a sigh, Josie placed the dishes into the dishwasher before returning back to the living room and taking her previous position underneath the brunette, carefully adjusting her head as she regained her spot. She glanced down at Penelope, brushing a few stray hairs out of her face. “Am I boring you that much?” Her question referenced having come in to the brunette’s eyes being closed upon her entrance. A playful smirk made its appearance as she eyed the other with a quirked eyebrow. “Or are you just tired?”

The resting brunette’s train of thought was immediately derailed when fingers brushed against her face, so she opened an eye and stuck her tongue out. “Huh? No.” Penelope huffed and practically coiled around Josie once she was sitting down on the couch again, arms wrapped around the other’s midriff in a snug embrace. Her words were muffled by her own arm but her voice still sounded even raspier with drowsiness. “A nap wouldn’t hurt, but since someone made her room off limits I’ll settle for here. You comfortable?”

The placement was a little awkward after a few seconds so she moved to adjust herself, careful to not jostle Penelope too much. There was no way they could cuddle on the couch and both be comfortable but then Josie had an idea. Bonnie knew about Penelope…well, that she is existed so she was sure she wouldn’t have minded her being over.

“I didn’t think you were much of a cuddler.” She giggled, gesturing between the two. “But there’s no way this is going to comfortable for either of us.” Josie moved back a bit and leaned against the back arm rest of the sofa, putting her idea in action. Grabbing Penelope’s arm, she tugged slightly hoping the girl got the hint to re-position herself in between her legs. They were friends, so it shouldn’t have been weird, right? There was that overthinking again. In an attempt to distract her thoughts, she reached above them to pull down the throw blanket that hung over the sofa. Penelope furrowed her eyebrows as Josie repositioned them. How was she gonna dodge this bullet and not make things weird? In all honesty she really didn’t cuddle much since it would give people she slept with the wrong idea, she did have friends sit on her lap here and there, and she was slightly more affectionate than average but.. she never outright wanted to cuddle with someone and actually act on it before. The thoughts raced through her mind like a bullet, so she quickly chose to go with a white, roundabout lie. “Mm. Surprise, I like all kinds of touch.” Penelope’s delayed response was all but purred when she got up on her knees to follow Josie’s lead with an airy giggle leaving her lips.

“Do you need me to wake you up at a certain time?” Josie grabbed her phone to put it on silent but held on to it, just in case she needed to set an alarm too.

“… No. But if it ends up being too late or you need to get up, just wake me up n’ I’ll leave.” Once the girl beneath her was fully settled onto the couch she cautiously laid down on the other girl again, one warm wedging itself between Josie’s back and the couch and the other acting as a makeshift pillow for her own head.

Now that she was prompted to think past how nice it just felt to lie there with Josie, she couldn’t take it off her mind. Davina tried pulling this same thing with her but Penelope refused and left her house in what Penelope was confident in being seconds, just short of snapping at her. That was what ended their little hook-up streak, actually, yet here she was, clinging to Josie on a school day afternoon without a care. It was probably because Josie’s intentions with her were clear.

‘Straight. Friends. Kinda business partners.’ They listed off in her head robotically, by rote like when the two first met and Penelope actually had to keep it in her pants for once. Now it was effortless. But platonic? Hard to say, since Penelope hardly had many relationships that were one-hundred percent platonic on Penelope’s end. Then again, Josie was a first of many things for her. It all segued into how much Penelope thought it would suck if Josie decided to severe everything between them once they had their talk— whatever it was— was over. Her grip around the other girl’s frame subconsciously tightened a bit and she stopped herself from thinking any further.

After placing her phone behind her, Josie used her now free hand to pull Penelope closer, too. It was a foreign feeling - the way that she could feel her entire body heat up just by the proximity of the other. Josie simply put it down to the blanket that was now splayed across the two. Trying to not delve further into things more than she needed to, she wrapped her arms loosely around the brunette’s back, her hands idly rubbing her back as she began coaxing her to sleep which didn’t seem to take long.

Between the silence and the soft breaths emitting from the girl in her arms, Josie figured she’d successfully dozed off. At the realization, she found herself just simply observing the other girl. Her mind aimlessly wondered to how she got here. It was one thing to enjoy someone’s company which she obviously did with Penelope but it was another to completely fawn over them. The term might have been a little exaggerated but that was the only word Josie found to describe what she felt. Maybe it wasn’t attraction, at all. Maybe she liked the idea that Penelope was something new and steady in her life but as she began to think it over, the more delusional she felt. She shook her head as if the physicality of it would help her shake off her thoughts. Which somehow, it did and not too much longer she found herself dozing off not too much later.

 


 

There were several occasions where Penelope woke up from her nap, but she never found an adequate reason to move. She was just so comfortable, and she knew that Josie was asleep by the way that the girl was pressing her weight on her. She didn’t want to leave. It was also rather comforting with the way that Josie’s hands were still kind of stroking her back in her sleep— it was the main thing that kept sending Penelope back to sleep. But eventually, she had to get up since she had to use the bathroom, but she was still very displeased with the fact that she had to detach herself from Josie. She slowly and carefully slipped out from their embrace and padded over to a few doorways until she found herself in the bathroom but once she was done, she stood outside and realized that there was no way she could fall back asleep now, or attempt to do without waking Josie in the process. Glancing at the clock, she figured she’d just wait for Josie to come to.

Then the thought hit her, that meant that she had the entire house to herself…which meant Josie’s room was all hers to explore. She wasn’t one to snoop but the way that Josie almost lost it earlier when she attempted to go up had the gears in her head spinning…besides, it’s not like Penelope was ever one to judge someone. What? Was there unicorns and rainbows all over the wall? It’d just be something to tease her about later and she figured that it would be a quick in and out. Make it look like she was never there, and if she hurt Josie’s feelings then she would do some serious damage control.

“Curiosity fucked over the cat,” she muttered under her breath while she opened the bedroom door. She closed it behind her with a soft click while she looked around. It was a standard girl’s bedroom with a questionable abundance of pink around the room, but it was nothing to be fearfully embarrassed about. Penelope didn’t understand what was such a big deal. She didn’t want to snoop around beyond what was immediately visible, though, since that would be crossing an entirely different and more severe line.

She made her way to the bed with slow and deliberate footsteps. She didn’t know why she was being so careful with the way that the floorboards were creaking, but it all became rather pointless when she jumped onto Josie’s bed. She laid down on her side to look at the rest of the room with furrowed brows. There was nothing to be ashamed about at all. She was about to get up when she felt a marble notebook beneath her elbow. Penelope didn’t think anything of it – it was much too big to be a diary so she chanced her curiosity while she opened the book and flipped through the pages until she reached the page with freshly written notes. It was dated for yesterday, indicated by the pink inked date, and then her gaze lowered to the words written onto the paper.

As she read through it she realized that these weren’t class notes or written songs, they were actually her journal entries. She made a move to close it but she saw her name in big, bold letters and she couldn’t help but read further, despite knowing how much of Josie’s privacy she was invading in that moment.

As she read on, to say that she was shocked by what she found would be an extreme understatement.

Penelope felt lightheaded. Josie liked her? Josie liked her, but she didn’t like her, and she also didn’t want to but she also indulged in it. They were best friends that were just cuddling moments prior, and Josie had feelings for her. She couldn’t bring herself to look back past the two latest entries. It explained everything to a degree that Penelope really wasn’t ready to confront. They were so full of emotions that she had no idea Josie carried, and they were words directly from the other’s head that Penelope could just twist around into some comforting bullshit. Did she even like her back? Why was she both so happy and still not simultaneously?

‘God, this isn’t something to fucking sip some tea over in her fucking room,’ she thought over in a panic. The amount of discomfort she was feeling was overwhelming, she had too many thoughts swarming her that she couldn’t bottle up for ever. She had to leave, she needed to leave. Once she barely collected herself she made sure the bedroom looked like it was undisturbed and stepped out into the hall, then stepped down the stairs in somewhat of a daze. “JoJo.. uh, I have to— have to head out.” Penelope crouched down beside the slumbering girl and spoke softly into her ear, but couldn’t being herself to touch her beyond gentle nudges to her arm. “I’ll text you, okay?”

Josie hadn’t even realized that she’d slept as long as she had until she felt a nudge to her arm, causing her eyes to immediately shoot open. She’d almost forgotten where she was until her eyes were met with emerald ones staring back at her, bringing a sleepy smile to her face. “Hey.” Side glancing at the clock, the girl rubbed her eyes to get a better view. 8:43 PM. She really hadn’t meant to sleep so late, or rather at all. Josie opened her mouth to question if everything was okay but was cut off by Penelope’s announcing of her departure. It wouldn’t have bothered her because it was late, after all but the dazed and distant expression on the other girl’s face caused her to worry. Sitting up, Josie eyed Penelope with a perplexed expression. “Is everything okay? Do you need me to drop you back?”

“No! No. It’s fine. It’s just my…it’s Kaleb, he’s pissed ‘cuz I… owe him class notes. Midterms coming up, you know. And I have his room key and yeah, I just gotta…go.” Penelope lied through her teeth and flashed an ironic smile. Being irresponsible was her thing, right? She was hoping that Josie would buy it despite the discomfort written over her face. She stood up to gather her belongings, then returned to the living room to sit on the other end of the couch and lace up her boots. As hard as she tried she really couldn’t bring herself to look Josie in the eye, she could only stare at the drowsy girl’s nose and hope for the best. She was moving so quickly and clumsily that she was sitting on the couch for longer than she intended to. “I’ll um…See you when I see you? Cool.” Penelope stood up ramrod straight, then waved over her shoulder at the other girl before rushing out without another word.

Something about Penelope’s excuse seemed…off. But, Josie had no reason to not believe her so she did. It was weird for Penelope to not leave without a hug but Josie simply put it down to her being a rush and needing to get back. She sent a small wave back as she watched Penelope disappear through the door.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Ever since Penelope had found out about Josie’s feelings for her, it had her head spinning. As much as she tried to ignore it, it was really the only thing that she could think about lately. Things had already been weird and taking a down turn between them for some time so she attempted to not make matters worse than they already were but as the days went on and Josie made no indication to relay her feelings, it resulted in Penelope ultimately taking a step back from their friendship as to not further confuse the girl. Because that’s what she was, right? Confused.

Luckily, it wasn’t too monumental of a difference considering Josie had already requested space from Penelope and to the taller witch, it just seemed as though that’s what Penelope was giving her for which she was entirely grateful for.

But for Penelope, it left her on the fence. Josie had easily become the one good constant in her life. For as long as she could remember, people only wanted to be around her for one of two reasons; Josie wanted neither from her and it had been so refreshing. And now that she no longer had that, she wasn’t sure where it left her. Why did things have to get so muddy now?

Placing the roach of the blunt that she’d deaded moments prior onto her nightstand, she grabbed her phone, hovering over Josie’s contact thread in her messages. She hadn’t been avoiding her, per se, but they weren’t exactly talking as of recently besides the cordial ‘hi’ and ‘bye’s in passing. Penelope wasn’t going to force herself onto Josie and instead wanted to wait until Josie came to her but currently, it was being proven to be quite the difficult task so she opted to take matters into her own hands. But then that left the question of what if Josie didn’t want to talk to her?

Deciding to bite the bullet, she messaged her anyways.

Penny: hey

Penny: wyd?

Josie grabbed her phone, confusion etched onto her features. Penelope had been scarce, practically non-existent in Josie’s world for a few days now. She knew that she’d asked for distance but now that she had it, things just didn’t sit right with her. From her knowledge, the way they’d left things before seemed fine so she didn’t expect Penelope to ghost her completely so when she had, it left Josie unsure of where they stood. She’d decided to leave the ball in the shorter girl’s court but when Penelope hadn’t made any move to contact her before now, she figured she wouldn’t.

my JoJo: Do you really care to know?

Penny: of course i do.

Penny: unless that was a trick question then not really, no

Penny: whichever answer is the right one

my JoJo: Well, you finally made time for me so didn't wanna bore you with details of my measly life.

my JoJo: But if you must know, I just got in from dinner with my sister wbu

Staring at the response, Penelope wasn’t sure what to say. She didn’t want to lie but she couldn’t tell her the truth.

Penny: sorry for not talking to you sooner. been stressed

Penny: I take it you’re still not back then?

Penny: you know we've known each other for the longest time and idk really anything bouts your fam

my JoJo: Stressed? About what?

my JoJo: Not yet, no.

my JoJo: Touche, Park. Didn't think you cared to meet them honestly.

Penny: nothing big.

Penny: i do care

Penny: do you want me to meet them?

my JoJo: Are you sure?

my JoJo: I wouldn't mind. It'd be nice...do you want to meet them?

Penny: sure as a girl can be

Penny: as long as we take another nap together after

Penny: lol

‘What the fuck?’ Penelope didn’t know what persuaded her to send the text. The last thing she wanted to do was give Josie the wrong impression or any inkling or indication that she knew. So much for being discreet. Penelope stared down at her phone watching and waiting as the text bubble came into view.

my JoJo: I think I can arrange that :) but in order for this to happen, you have to promise to be on your best behavior.

Penelope decided to ignore the first half of the text, no way was that happening again.

Penny: am i not always on my best behavior??? where the fuck are my gold stars??

my JoJo: Exhibit A. Language.

Penny: you know that i stop cursing for the dogs. i can do that for your family too

Penny: what else is there for me to look out for? hit me.

my JoJo: I don't want you to pretend to be something you're not so I think as long as you at least try to use a filter with them, we should be good.

Penny: so what you're saying is that i'm perfect without the cursing 😏😏

my JoJo: You're unbelievable. No, I'm not fueling that ego of yours. What I'm saying is that I want them to know the same Penelope that I do. Just the water downed version.

my JoJo: Maybe you can bring your fam too?

Penny: you still didn't say yes or nooo..

Penny: maybe you should meet my family by yourself first so it isn't so fresh n vice versa

my JoJo: Hm. I guess you have a point. Just let me know when you're down for it.

Penny: i forgot why i said we should meet each others families. What was the reason again

Penny: now i'm kinda nervous. i'm backing out

my JoJo: You're not under the influence, are you?

my JoJo: You don't have to if you don't want to. It's fine.

Penny: what the hell is "under the influence"?? the influence of Josette Saltzman is the only influence i need

Penny: does your family even know who i am

my JoJo: Oh, please. You influence me more than I do you.

my JoJo: My dad does, obviously. And of course Lizzie and unfortunately Damon. All that is really left is my aunt Bonnie, aunt Elena and my mom…but she’s hardly around these days, yet she still knows who I spend most of time with

Penny: bullshit. how did i influence you?? you're too good and stubborn

Penny: you spend most of your time with books

my JoJo: Should I take offense to that?

my JoJo: I said whom. Not what.

Penny: no. i like it. answer the question pls

Penny: awwww its me??

my JoJo: You didn't answer mine.

my JoJo: For the most part. I mean, not as much recently but yeah.

Penny: what was your question?

Penny: we both know why we haven't been hanging out

my JoJo: Are you under the influence? And yes, I know. Because of me.

Penny: depends what influence you're talking about babe

Penny: take your time i guess

my JoJo: Stop calling me names. You know what I'm talking about, Penelope.

Penny: fine i'm high

Penny: but i'm fine. and safe in my room. no worries

The rapid fire texting streak was broken by Josie’s halt in conversation. Of course, now it made sense.

my JoJo: Is that the only reason you're talking to me right now?

Penny: no

Penny: yes

Penny: hard to explain. can we talk about something else

my JoJo: Why do you have to be high to talk to me?

Penny: you couldn't talk to me sober for 2 weeks

my JoJo: What does that have to do with what I'm asking you?

Penny: would you rather i not talk to you at all?

my JoJo: That's not what I said.

my JoJo: I want to talk to you.

Penny: we're talking, aint we

With a heavy sigh, Josie chose to dismiss the topic. She didn’t want to delve into that realm and have them arguing once again when they were only seemingly to just began getting a sense of normalcy back.

my JoJo: Why aren't you out with your friends?

Penny: just got in from dav’s actually.

Penny: and cause I’m attempting to do some hw, which isn’t proving to be the easiest rn

There was a brief pause as she read the first text over a few times. To indulge or not to indulge?

my JoJo: So...you guys are still seeing each other?

Penny: we hooked up yeah

my JoJo: Oh.

Penny: why oh

my JoJo: No reason.

Penny: JoJo

my JoJo: What?

Penny: nuthin

Penny: what're you doing now

my JoJo: I'd like to say something exciting but unfortunately, just laying in bed.

Penny: listening to music or anything?

my JoJo: No. I was intending on finishing a book I started but kind of hard to do that when I'm texting you.

my JoJo: I'm not complaining though.

my JoJo: What about you? Did you finish your homework?

Penny: book?? what book???

Penny: almost. tried a few. i'll just ride with it tomorrow

Penny: andddd i don't want to stop texting you

my JoJo: It's called The Informers. Heard of it?

my JoJo: But isn't it due tomorrow?

Penny: no? is it informative? what's it about

Penny: yes

my JoJo: To be honest, I have no idea. You know how most people read the synopsis before they decide whether to read or not? I kinda just went head first. It's kind of all over the place, a series of short stories that somehow all link together too...I'm barely 4 chapters in, there's 13 but it's really worth the read.

my JoJo: Sorry, I rambled.

my JoJo: Do you plan on getting to homeroom early? I can help you.

Penny: that was cute. is it scifi

Penny: I guess I can

my JoJo: It's def not scifi.

my JoJo: Cool, I'll see you then. You should get some sleep, yeah?

Penny: not until you do

my JoJo: How about we fall asleep together?

Penny: are you inviting me over

Penny: is this like a late night cuddle booty call

my JoJo: Omg, shut up. As much as I wouldn't mind that, I was thinking more along the lines of calling you?

Calling you to fall asleep to your voice.’

my JoJo: Is that weird? Never mind, that's weird.

Penny: you can call me but I wouldn’t mind being next to you rn

my JoJo: Um.

There was that hesitation again.

my JoJo: Would you....come over?

Penny: would your aunt get pissed

my JoJo: She doesn’t have to know.

my JoJo: Just ring me when you get here and I'll sneak you in the back.

my JoJo: Shower first.

Penny: someone's turning over to the dark side

Penny: if you think its cause i smell like weed i don’t

my JoJo: Told you, you influence me...and the fact that I kind of miss you.

my JoJo: Not what I was referencing exactly but I guess that too?

my JoJo: I'll see you in a bit, Penny.

Chapter Text

Surprisingly for both girls, the previous night hadn’t been that awkward. Not when Penelope caught Josie catching a glimpse of her half naked body in the oversized mirror as she changed into the girl’s borrowed pajamas, not when Josie immediately cuddled into her side almost instantly after Penelope’s head hit the pillow as if it was the most natural thing to do and most definitely not after she woke up with Josie’s face mere inches away from hers the next morning. No, not awkward at all. Or at least definitely not as awkward as Penelope getting caught by Damon sneaking out the next morning to which surprisingly, he didn’t say anything, just simply quirked a questioning eyebrow over the rim of his whiskey glass and allowed Penelope to continue on her merry way.

Yeah, not awkward at all. Reverse psychology.

It would have been a miracle if she never had to show her face at that house again, or at least not any time soon but of course, the universe didn’t think that she deserved that much of a courtesy.

‘Hey soooo my mom is actually dropping in to surprise Lizzie and I tonight but I overheard my dad talking this morning. I know it’s last minute and so soon but please say you’ll come tonight. We always have a family dinner when she’s in town and you did say you wanted to meet them, right?’

That was the text that Penelope received 2 hours ago. She still hadn’t responded because she wasn’t sure if she was ready for that. It was no big deal to meet your friend’s family, but it was a big deal when said best friend had a super non-platonic crush on you and you had every potential to cause her first heartbreak because you didn’t do feelings, and you definitely didn’t do relationships.

Fuck.

Nope, she wasn’t going.

 


 

 

“I thought you said you weren’t going.” Hope adjusted her bowtie as she stood in front of the unfamiliar door that she could only assume was the house that Josie was residing in.

“I wasn’t but then I started to feel bad and I didn’t want to disappoint her.”

“What is whipped for $400, Alex?” Hope teased her best friend.

“Shut up. We’re just friends.”

“Uh huh. You like her.”

“You are aware of who you’re talking to right now, right? No, I don’t.”

“Puh-lease. You do.”

“No, I – “ Before Penelope could finish her very immature argument, the door swung open revealing a taller lady, whom Penelope could only assume was Josie and Lizzie's mom, if her memory of the lady she’d seen holding a baby Josie in most of her pictures served her right.

She appeared to be significantly older, of course but the striking similarities to Lizzie despite their non-genetic make up was a dead giveaway.

The older woman offered a warm smile as she looked the two girls over carefully.

“Hi there. Friends of Josette and Elizabeth, I take it? I’m their mother, Caroline.” She greeted, confirming Penelope’s suspicions. “Come on in, the girls are just setting the table.”

“They’re no friends of mine. What are you even doing here?” Lizzie’s question was directed towards Penelope but her eyes remained on Hope all the while, sizing her up before quickly averting to the other girl.

Penelope couldn’t help but roll her eyes. “It’s lovely to see you too, Lizzie. Your sister invited us…well, me, so if you’d excuse me…” She walked around the taller girl, shoulder checking her and pushing her out of the way. She didn’t particularly have anything against Lizzie but although she was used to people judging her before they got to know her based on their own pre-judgments, she still hated when they made it so damn blatantly obvious.

Josie heard chatter from the dining area but couldn’t quite make out the voices. Normally when Caroline came to town, Alaric made sure that the girls got to spend as much time with her as possible so depending on how long of a stay she had, they kept things fairly intimate amongst family. She knew that she invited Penelope over earlier but she assumed that either she backed out on her notion to meet one another’s families or she was a little preoccupied with Davina; she was sure it was the latter.

How fucked would that be – Penelope coming to see her after she’d just slept with Davina and then immediately going back to Davina the next day. It was no secret that Penelope was known to sleep around and that had been common knowledge before she and Josie ever made acquaintances but for some reason her situation with this Davina chick currently unsettled Josie like no other. Maybe it was because she wasn’t just a one night stand for Penelope or maybe because Davina was so obviously into Penelope; she wasn’t sure but it just made the thought of Penelope not showing up sting that much more.

“Hey Princess.” Hearing a voice behind her, Josie jumped, completely taken aback by someone else being in her presence. She sure wasn’t expecting it to be Penelope.

All previous negative thoughts that she had, now completely subsided.

Penelope pulled the taller girl into a tight hug, subconsciously burying her face in the crook of her neck.

“I thought you weren’t coming.”

“Well, I guess I’m full of surprises, aren’t I?” Pulling away from the embrace, she gave Josie a brief once over. For a family dinner, she looked extremely over dressed.

“Am I dining with the royal family? As the stable hand, I don’t think I quite live up to tonight’s dress attire, your highness.” She glanced down at the pant suit she wore and then back at Josie’s red ensemble.

“You look perfect, Pen, stop it. Are you nervous?”

“A little, that’s why I brought my mule.”

Just like clockwork, Hope appeared at her side. “I heard that, asshole.” She shot a quick glare at the witch. “Hi Josie. I know I wasn’t exactly invited but I’m just accompanying Penelope.”

Josie quickly shook her head. “No, no – that’s fine. I know it was sort of last minute so whatever makes her comfortable. I’m just glad she’s here.”

The two stared at one another, a dopey grin plastered on Penelope’s face and an impending blush already starting to coat Josie’s cheeks.

The only thing that could be heard from Hope was her footsteps walking into the kitchen leaving the two alone, murmuring something or another about ‘not being here to watch you two eye fuck all night’.

Penelope being Penelope, was the first to break the silence. “You look beautiful, by the way.”

“Gag me. Can you stop flirting with my sister and oh, I don’t know, at the very least help out since you’re imposing on our time with our mom?” Lizzie returned the shoulder check from earlier as she placed a bowl of bread in the center of the dining table.

And just like that, the moment was ruined. This was certainly going to be a long night.

 


 

 

The remainder of the evening carried on relatively well despite Penelope's worst expectations.

Penelope and Hope were both introduced to the remainder of Josie’s family and got to know Dr. Saltzman on a more informal level, everyone seemed to be getting along with the exception of a few snide remarks from the peanut gallery also known as Lizzie and despite how much she was dreading this night, she was glad that she’d made the decision to come.

“So, your mom is a New Orleans witch?” Bonnie inquired for clarification.

“Yes ma’am. My whole coven still resides there, actually.”

“You must possess some very strong gifts that I’m sure you aren’t even aware of yet.” Caroline chimed in this time.

“Oh, definitely.” The tribid responded on Penelope’s behalf. “I might not be a full blooded witch but I know of my history. Most of my family still resides in New Orleans as well and Penelope’s blood lines are one of the most powerful.”

“You’re from New Orleans, too?”

“Yup, we’re actually cousins.”

Josie and Lizzie both yelped out a simultaneous “what?”

Penelope shook her head at that. “We don’t know that for a fact, there’s a lot of uncertainty around it.” She took a deep pause before continuing. “When we were 4, Hope got really sick. Her dad contacted my mom, or well threatened her – take your pick, to help her aunt Freya perform a spell to heal her but we still don't know why her of all people. Things were a bit chaotic between our families for a while after that but somehow it never affected us. Maybe because we were both too young to understand, I’m not sure….”

“….We don’t need to get into the details of it all, Penelope. To make a long story short, we’ve been doing some digging into our family history and there’s a lot of roads that don’t lead home but somehow still intertwine. I think one of my uncles might have some relation to P’s paternal side but we can’t confirm it.”

“You’re Klaus Mikaelson’s and Hayley Marshall’s daughter, right?”

Hope looked quizzically at the woman she knew to be Elena. “You knew my parents?”

“We all did.”

“H-how?”

Hope didn’t remember much about her parents. She was shipped off on her 5th birthday to Mystic Falls and was told that’s what happened to all of the ‘supernatural’ kids at that age and for a while she believed that until she turned 6 and noticed that her childhood friend, Penelope, still wasn’t there and she began seeing kids much older than herself turn up year after year. That’s what actually sparked Hope’s curiosity as to what was being hidden from her. She only knew as much as her uncle Marcel and aunt Rebekah were willing to tell her, whom seemed to be the only two who gave a damn enough to be honest with her. But even then, she always felt like they were keeping so much more from her than they were giving.

“Your dad lived in Mystic Falls for some time and your mom frequently visited. I wouldn’t say that we were exactly friends but we knew each other quite well.”

Hope turned her attention to Penelope, “Did you know about this?”

“No, no idea.”

“Do you think you’d be able to maybe….well, would you be up for ever discussing what you know?” Hope returned her attention back to Caroline.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea…” Alaric turned from Hope to Caroline giving her a look but before Hope could make out what it meant, it was gone.

As much as she wanted to question it, she decided against it. She’d definitely get answers later. If she was anything, it was determined and above all, persistent.

 


 

 

Later that evening, Penelope, Josie, Lizzie and Hope sat out back on the deck. It wasn’t how Josie thought she’d be spending the remainder of her evening but she definitely wasn’t complaining.

“I think they like you.” The taller girl walked over to Penelope, shoulder bumping her before leaning her elbows over the balcony, mimicking the other girl’s stance.

“I think they like that I wasn’t hounding them about questions like Hope.” Penelope teased, a small grin tugging at the corner of her lips.

“Yeah, what was that anyways?”

With a mild shrug, Penelope glanced over to her best friend sat at the opposite side of the deck, laughing at something or another that Lizzie had said. It was weird but she figured she’d just bug Hope about it later.

“I don’t know. She doesn’t remember much about her childhood. I guess because there was so much trauma, she just kind of blocked it out and when her parents passed, she sort of suppressed the good memories too. I think it’s why she holds on to me, I’m kind of the last thing she has that reminds her of home.”

Josie furrowed her eyebrows, not really understanding. “What about the rest of her family?”

“They don’t really come around anymore, or they say they’re too busy. She pretends to not need anyone and she doesn’t open up easily so I just try to be there anyway I can.” She finally returned her attention to Josie. “I think that’s why she doesn’t take so well to me spending so much time with you. Well, before I got shunned.”

There was a brief silence until Penelope burst into a fit of giggles. “Your face was hilarious. I’m not serious, I told you – take your time. I just worry about you too, y’know, and you’re not ready to talk about whatever it is, I get it but I’m here anyway.”

Penelope knew that Josie needed time to sort through her shit. Did it bug her knowing? Sure. But did she blame Josie? Not really. She was going to wait as long as she had to but she definitely didn’t think today would have helped at all. She noticed the lingering gazes, she noticed the way Josie would get close to her throughout the night and she noticed the shift in their dynamics and interactions. It could have been that she was reading way more into things than she should have been but it wouldn’t have been so obvious if it wasn’t true, right?

“Do you think we can just not talk about all of that tonight?”

“’Kay, whatchu wanna talk ‘bout then?”

“You.”

There was a moment of hesitation on Penelope’s side. “Me? Okay, what about me then?” She was rather amused more than anything, actually.

“I never noticed how green your eyes are.” Josie blurted out before she could stop herself.  “There’s golden speckles, though. Kinds of reminds me of a Christmas tree.”

“Uhhh…is that supposed to be a compliment?”

“Wow, and here I was trying to be nice."

“Oh? Continue, please.”

Thinking back onto the compliment she received earlier before they were interrupted, Josie took a small step closer. “You’re beautiful by the way, too, Penelope.”

Both girls stood staring at one another. Penelope hesitant to respond, afraid of either hurting Josie’s feelings or fueling her on more. She was very hyper aware of everything right now and it appeared that Josie was the exact opposite. She hadn’t saw her drink earlier, she was almost certain she wouldn’t chance it with her parentals around anyhow, so what the fuck was going on?

“Uh…” The girl stammered again, unsure of how to approach this. She blinked rapidly, trying to get her brain to catch up as to not make things more awkward.

It was too late. Josie beat her to it.

“What would it mean if I kissed her right now?”

If Penelope didn’t look like a fish out of water before, she sure as hell did now. And Josie only caught on to her slip up when she saw the unreadable expression literally encompass the whole of the other witch’s face. “Fuck, did I say that out loud? Shit, no. I meant…uh, hey Lizzie. It’s getting late, yeah? Think we should call it a night?”

Penelope mentally slapped herself for the way she reacted. Reaching out, she tried to grab Josie’s arm but the girl snatched away, almost as if Penelope had set her on fire.

“No. Penelope, it’s late. You should go.” She snapped, then tried again. “Lizzie!”

“Go inside then Josie, damn. Kinda busy here.”

Throwing her hands up with an exasperated sigh, she tried to plan her next course of action. She didn’t want to stay there with Penelope but her feet wouldn’t move.

“JoJo.”

“Don’t.”

“JoJo, chill. I mean, not to toot my own horn, but it’s not the most shocking thing you could be thinking about.” What Penelope really wanted to do was run away as fast as possible but she was putting her needs above Josie’s right now. The last thing she wanted to do was have the girl freak out so it wouldn’t hurt to downplay things a bit.

“That didn’t happen. Let’s just pretend that didn’t happen.” Attempting again, she whipped her head around in the direction of Lizzie. “Lizzie. Let’s go inside. Now.”

“Josette. What the fuck?” The blonde’s eyes dashed to Hope, hoping her sister would get the hint.

Josie didn’t even know why she wanted to stick around with the girl. It’s not like they were ever friends.

“You know what? Fine, stay out here with the animal farm. Try not to catch something.”

Turning on her heel, she left a confused Lizzie, an even more confused Penelope and an upset Hope out on the deck.

  


 

 

Ho(p)e: Please tell me you’re done with her.

Pennywise: she didn’t mean that.

Ho(p)e: Yes, she did Penelope, fucking see the light

Pennywise: she wasn’t upset with me, she was upset with herself and I get it

Ho(p)e: Do I need to come over and slap you?

Pennywise: we both went through that stage. do you remember how long it took me to come to terms with the fact that I was into girls?

Ho(p)e: She’s not in denial, Penelope. And even if she was, that wasn’t cool. She flipped on you out of nowhere because of something she fucking said. I should have rocked her shit

Pennywise: and I would have rocked yours, just chill. I’ll handle it

Ho(p)e: Just know that I really don’t like her now. Anyway how are you going to ‘handle’ it, oh smart one?

Pennywise: i….dunno yet BUT I will

Ho(p)e: I don’t even know why it’s a big deal. Her sister clearly doesn’t mind

Pennywise: don’t tell me you slept with her

Ho(p)e: Not yet my friend

Pennywise: gross.

Ho(p)e: I’m kidding. We’re just hangin

Pennywise: just hanging, my ass.

Ho(p)e: Now you see how that ‘we’re just friends’ bs sounds when you say it

Pennywise: it’s one sided, not the same

Ho(p)e: Looks like you’re both in denial but I digress

Pennywise: dude I’m not talking about this with you anymore.

Pennywise: open your door, I’m leaving the caf

Ho(p)e: Is your name Lizzie Saltzman? Then no.

Pennywise: taking you to that dinner was a badddddd idea

 


 

 

Das My Best Frannn: I haven’t spoken to her since that night. It’s been like 4 days.

My Other Half: Don’t you think that you should? That was a bit weird, J. I’m sure she has questions.

Das My Best Frannn: I’m sorry, who’s best friend are you again?

My Other Half: Simmer down, jalapeno. I’m just trying to mediate the situation.

Das My Best Frannn: There’s no situation…I knew we were better off keeping our distance.

My Other Half: You’re the one who invited her, AFTER you invited her over in the middle of the night… it’s not like she just invaded your space.

Das My Best Frannn: Can you shut up?

My Other Half: Why? Because I’m right?

My Other Half: Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we?

Das My Best Frannn: What?

My Other Half: ….Don’t play stupid.

Das My Best Frannn: Maybe I’m not playing.

My Other Half: Girl….

Das My Best Frannn: MG, let’s not.

My Other Half: It’s not the end of the world if you like her. People come to terms with things like this every day and no matter what, I still love you regardless.

Das My Best Frannn: But I’m not just people. Look, I can’t be.

My Other Half: Can’t be….what?

Das My Best Frannn: You know.

My Other Half: Say it.

Das My Best Frannn: No.

My Other Half: Jo.

Das My Best Frannn: No. We’re just friends. I just got caught up in a moment.

My Other Half: Aight, I’ll stop riding you.

Josie’s fingers hovered over the screen, unsure of what to respond. She knew that MG was only trying to help but he was actually doing the complete opposite. With a sigh, she decided to change the subject.

Das My Best Frannn: What are you doing this weekend?

My Other Half: I think Lizzie wanted to go so see some movie but I think she might be taking Hope instead now.

Das My Best Frannn: That’s still so freakin’ weird.

My Other Half: Tell me about it.

Das My Best Frannn: Well, if you guys do go, mind if I tag along?

My Other Half: Oh, now that you’re not spending every waking moment with Penelope, you have time for us?

My Other Half: lol yeah, that’s cool.

Das My Best Frannn: Shut up. You’re annoying.

My Other Half: So are you.

Das My Best Frannn: Whatever.

My Other Half: Hey, I gotta head to practice but just talk to her, okay? Love you always.

Das My Best Frannn: Love you more.

 

Chapter Text

Although Josie had requested to join MG and Lizzie on their outing, the closer it got to the date, the more she dreaded it. She really hadn’t been up for doing much of anything that entire week and instead tried to drown herself in planning the school’s upcoming prom and surrounding events. She’d managed to talk to Penelope a bit, but all of their conversations were very much short lived. Penelope had pretty much pretended that nothing had happened and whereas that should have eased Josie, it unsettled her moreso than anything. But of course, she wasn’t going to be the one to rock the boat, no matter how seemingly awkward things had already been.

Saturday night rolled around and Josie found herself being dragged out of her house by her two closest friends – despite all of her complaints and efforts to back out –  to see some movie that she’d decided beforehand would be sucky - and it was. It also didn’t help that they were not-so-subtly attempting to set her up with some guy - Rafael - that the pair decided not to mention and drag along. She partially blamed MG and his mission “Get-Josie-A-Man-to-Forget-About-Penelope” that he so proudly mentioned days prior. Had she known that was part of the evening’s plan, she would have backed out of the evening altogether. But despite that, it had been a while since she’d had any real bonding time with them, Lizzie too, so when they asked her afterwards to join them in the conjoined mall, she couldn’t bring herself to say ‘no’. No matter how much she wanted to. She just continued to tell herself it’d give her an excuse to shop and since she hadn’t spent much, or any, time with Penelope other than their volunteering, it gave her a very welcomed distraction as well.

As they walked throughout the mall, Josie couldn’t help but notice how the two walked too many steps ahead to be seen as just casual walking, leaving her behind with the raven haired boy. Her internal regret was starting to multiply but for her own sake, she plastered on a smile and pretended to listen to whatever he was going on about. It wasn’t that he wasn’t attractive, he was, he was rather intelligent as well but she definitely couldn’t see this being more than a one time thing. She knew that he was innocent in all of this, though so she tried to be cordial. This terrible excuse of a set up wasn’t his fault.

“Huh? Oh. Yeah, I think I’ve seen all of his movies.” The brunette lied, not catching on to the tail end of whatever had gone over her head. Her eyebrows narrowed in confusion for spacing out before her eyes zoned in on the other two turning a corner, leaving her completely alone. With a low sigh, she turned to Rafael, figuring she should at least make the most of it. She was stuck with him. “Wanna head to the food court?”

Surprised by the fact that he took her hand, Josie stayed silent and took his reaction as a yes.

Josie began to lead the pair of them to the center of the mall where the many restaurants and such were located. Frankly, she wasn’t hungry but if she was eating, that meant less talking. Didn’t seem like a bad idea. Once the pair decided on simply McDonald’s, Josie informed Rafael on what she wanted and figured she’d grab a table before they were all taken.

Plopping down in the seat, the girl retrieved her phone from her back pocket and began scrolling through all of her social media to pass time as she awaited his return with their orders.

All Penelope could remember was seeing her friends for the first time in three days, weed, and someone shouting “mall!”. It was disappointing for her not to see all of them since she really had no real motivation to hang out; no thanks to her Josie induced stupor, so when she saw all of them again of course it was some sort of huge reunion party. It somehow landed all of them in the mall, walking unsteadily as a little family while they caused mayhem. The atmosphere amongst all of them was very carefree and simple until all eight of them were abruptly floored by a serious case of the munchies – go figure.

“I’m feeling some bacon ranch tacos.” Kaleb all but shouted in the open area.

“Don’t forget the nacho fries, dude.” Jed added as he plopped down into an open booth.

Kaleb held his hand out. “I won’t if you’re paying.”

Penelope found herself slouched into her seat with a lazy smile.

“Here, just charge it all to my card.” Yeah, she was definitely high.

Kaleb and Hope exchanged looks of confusion but he quickly grabbed it before she could change her mind.

There was some sort of contentment in having such a placid, weed-induced state of mind despite all the thinking that she had to do over the past few days. There’d been a lot to sort through.

She’d come to terms that she was definitely feeling something…would she call it feelings? Not exactly but something…. but with the way that the girl was acting Penelope was starting to get whiplash. During their short conversations, Penelope couldn’t really read Josie…Josie seemed like she finally decided to just accept it and get over Penelope, while Penelope herself was just starting to realize that she was.. under Josie. It was a foreign feeling and hard to process….it all didn’t compute in her head just yet, but Penelope just figured she’d do what she always did. Shove it all to the back of her mind and never act on it. It was all too messy to deal with and she knew exactly what road it would go down. Easy peasy.

Yeah, that was a load of bullshit. Penelope was caught in a daydream while she stared at the occupants of the food court until her gaze fell upon familiar warm brown hair. She didn’t know that she was so accustomed to looking for Josie, but it was all she would ever gaze at in the classes the two had together. It was instinct to pick the girl out from the rest. The brunette was incredibly pleased to see her until she saw a boy with a tray full of food sit down across from Josie, all smiles and glances at Josie’s chest. Now that she was squinting at the two, she noticed that Josie was smiling too.

‘What the fuck?’ she mouthed to herself, glaring at the two from a few tables down.

Penelope didn’t know that she was staring for as long as she did and in the right state of mind she really would have a little self-control. Josie could do whatever she wanted. Yet with the seed of jealousy planted in her intoxicated mind, a rush of recklessness followed. Josie could do whatever she wanted, but Penelope could also. Taking a swig of her Coke that Kaleb had placed in front of her moments prior, she fished her phone out of her pocket.

Josie was glad that it hadn’t taken long to get their food and soon enough, Rafael was back at her side. She thanked him with a smile as she took her chicken nuggets and wasted no time in dipping them into the provided sauces and plopping them into her mouth. Maybe she hadn’t done so in the most lady like way but then again, she didn’t really care to even try to.

“So how do you know MG and my sister?”

“Oh, I don’t know Lizzie too well. We’ve only met a time or two but I met MG a few years ago actually…” The witch listened attentively as he began to explain some story about band camp that she had completely tuned out of after a minute in. It wasn’t that she was being rude, she just couldn’t bring herself to actually enjoy his company.

Suddenly, her phone began vibrating on the table, bringing her out of her dazed state. Chocolate orbs gazed down, a small smile automatically dancing onto her face at the sender’s name that flashed across her screen. “Sorry, excuse me.” Rafael kept chatting away and maybe she should have given some sort of decency to not check her phone but she couldn’t help herself.

Penny: hey

Penny: whatcha up to

My JoJo: Hey, you. Not much, really.

There it was again – the normal conversation.

As she pressed send on the device, she couldn’t help but feel weird. Was it bad that she felt iffy about telling Penelope what she really was doing? The girl had offered to find her someone on numerous occasions but something about actually stating that she was on a date, that she was suckered into, but a date nonetheless, didn’t sit right with her. Nor did the fact that her thoughts kept wandering to how she’d wished she had been with Penelope instead. Josie knew that nothing would ever come of them, she’d accepted that, nor would she ever admit the many things she’d been keeping to herself for so long but she did miss the shorter girl’s company. Of course she knew that she was the one that created a distance between the two, but it was only for the best. So far, it’d been helping - at least, for the most part.

My JoJo: What about you? Doing anything exciting tonight?

When the typing bubble showed up seconds after she sent her own texts, Penelope couldn’t help the smug smirk that twisted her lips. There was no way that Josie’s date could be that great if she was responding to her as fast as she was. However, when the messages actually loaded onto her screen, it had her reeling. Penelope’s head snapped up so quickly that the action actually made her neck sting a little. For a second she swore that her heart actually skipped a few beats. Why? Why was Josie beating around the bush? The myriad of random thoughts that helped occupy her mind suddenly turned into Josie, Josie, Josie. There was no use in trying to shut it all down, she needed to just scope out some sort of path out of the forest of confusion she was in.

Penny: nah i’m chilling with my friends

Penny: cause someone kinda put a dent in the plans that I actually had this weekend after it took forever for me to agree

Penny: her name is Josie do you know her?

This weekend was the last weekend of the winter semester and before things turned sour, the pair had made plans to take a road trip. She wasn’t even sure if Josie still remembered it, but she remembered everything.

This was so ridiculous. Even if she was high, Penelope knew that she was desperate and she hoped that it wasn’t obvious through her texts. Her judgment felt so clouded by jealousy at this point that she couldn’t really think of anything interesting to text the other girl. How did their conversations naturally go? She scrolled up to look at their previous messages with growing unease. It was so easy for Josie to have this guy sit across from her actually think that she cared about whatever he was blathering on about, and now it was nothing for her to just brush Penelope off with a white lie. The boy across from Josie really was “not much,” but Penelope couldn’t help but overanalyze at this rate.

Penny: are you on a date with your books again

Just as she placed her phone back down on the table, she could hear the vibration again. Her eyes flickered up to watch Rafael still going on, completely oblivious to her distraction. Josie’s inner turmoil was getting the best of her and she was stuck between leaving Penelope hanging or possibly being the worst date this guy’s ever had. Josie forced herself to plaster on a smile, and decided to dive back into the conversation for the time being.

“So you play the guitar?” Now her interest was piqued. Propping her elbow onto the table, she allowed herself to get lost in his rant about how he started, and his interest in music. At least they found one thing in common.

A few minutes had passed by and Josie had completely forgotten about the texts that’d gone unread until she heard that familiar vibration once more. Subtly grabbing her phone, her eyes remained focused on Rafael, only glancing down at her phone every few seconds to read over the messages she’d received from Penelope.

My JoJo: Not wreaking any havoc, I hope. And y’know, you coulda told this Josie chick no. She doesn’t really seem like a hard ass.

Averting her eyes from her phone, she returned her focus to the guy opposite her. Why was she so paranoid about letting Penelope know what her actual plans were? It’s not like it mattered. He wasn’t really anything to be ashamed of. Rolling her eyes at her own ridiculousness, she shook her head and just decided to be honest.

My JoJo: A date? Yes. Books? No.

My JoJo: I got ‘blinded’. Guess my friends pity me. Sad day in the history of Josie Saltzman. :(

She nervously bit her lip at the indicator that stated ‘delivered’ below the message. Sliding her phone back onto the table, she got lost in the conversation once more.

“Yeah, just a little. I wouldn’t say I’m that good but I heard you’re into music. What instruments?”

“Me? No. Not instrumentally talented.” The brunette laughed at her own comment, “I just sing…and sometimes I write.”

“Oh? Maybe I can hear them some time?”

“Yeah, maybe.”

Maybe she should give him a chance after all. If not romantically, she couldn’t write him off just yet as a potential new friend.

Penny: i have a hard time saying no to her. the things you do for |

Penelope typed out the response slowly but left it in the text box without hitting send just yet. Josie’s replies slowed down and they were engaged in conversation. Laughter. Now she was just itching to know what the two of them were talking about. Her gaze kept vacillating between what was now confirmed to be a date and her phone. She didn’t want to miss a single second of what was going on between the two, but she also wanted to somehow have Josie’s attention on her without having the other girl notice her. The brunette proceeded to sip on her drinks that she placed back down onto the table while she scrutinized Josie’s date.

He was well-dressed, attractive (Penelope supposed), and seemed to clean up pretty well. He also looked like he spent around an hour a day on his hair, and that observation alone made Penelope chortle until she realized that it was that guy on the nice date with Josie, and her staring at her like a lovestruck, hopeless, and smacked puppy from across the food court. She slouched further into her seat and scooted closer to Hope until she was nuzzled into her best friend’s side. The obvious thing to do was to ask how the little outing was going, which would’ve been fine five minutes ago since Josie looked utterly bored but now she had no idea what the other girl would say.

She was struggling to keep her thought processes rational and in line. If she played her cards right maybe Josie would respond to her in a way that would really wake Penelope up from whatever spell she was under, it would give her some semblance of a plan to follow whatever this fiasco was. That was what mattered. Finding a way to take steps forward or back, but she couldn’t be stuck in this stalemate right now. She tapped the “send” button before she continued to type out a few other texts, then resumed starting at the two on a date. She’d never felt so torn at the seams in how she both wanted to leave, but didn’t want to miss a thing.

Penny: doesn’t matter how. how is he

Penny: is he cute

Penny: by that i mean cuter than me?? lol

The taller witch constantly tapped her phone every few seconds to prevent it from locking. At least that way, she wouldn’t constantly disturb their evening with the annoying vibrations of her phone and she could still consistently check her messages. Luckily, Rafael didn’t seem to mind all that much or if he did, he surely didn’t make it known. Perhaps it was because she tried her best to remain engaged in the conversation but it seemed the more she tried, the harder it became to do. No thanks to one Penelope Park.

My JoJo: The things you do for what?

Josie quirked an eyebrow at the text. There was only one saying that started that way that she knew of. That certainly wasn’t what Penelope meant.

‘Stop it.’ She mentally scolded herself for even considering that possibility. She’d done enough over thinking their “friendship”, so no way was she delving back into that territory.

My JoJo: Anyways, I thought you deemed yourself as “sexy”. Isn’t cute kind of a downgrade?

My JoJo: But if you must know, he’s not bad on the eyes.  He’s really sweet. Maybe if all goes well, you can meet him. : )

As far-fetched as it was, Josie just figured she’d scope out the remainder of the night. The two had a lot in common and he seemed to be genuinely interested in her which was a rarity these days. Glancing back up, Josie offered a sympathetic smile before putting her phone back into her purse.

“Sorry, was my dad.” She lied, not wanting to make him feel bad. It wasn’t his fault he’d been set up but it also wasn’t hers, either so it’s not like she should have felt bad about where her interests lied, but she did. She’d have plenty of time to tell Penelope all about her night later but for now, she figured she could give Rafael her undivided attention.

There it was, the worst-case scenario answer. Deflection and rejection. It made something in Penelope’s stomach twist and she had to set her phone down onto the table after she left the messages on read and without answer. Even if she wanted to, Penelope couldn’t even come up with a response that wouldn’t sound passive aggressive or fueled by intoxication. At least Josie— as clueless as she seemed to be about Penelope’s feelings— let her down easy. It still didn’t erase the fact that Penelope was tempted to chuck her phone across the food court and have it land square in the boy’s face. Then at the very least, there was a game plan in the makes. If Josie was smothering her feelings, then Penelope could just do whatever she wanted once she really accepted that the smaller witch was over her. But if she was only going on dates now, was it because she was trying to get over Penelope or because she was completely over her? No. She couldn’t think about that too much. A tiny bit of hope for Penelope was as good as any at this rate. 

She chewed on her straw and found herself transfixed by some stupid art that Jed was drawing on a napkin. Even if the muffled thoughts about Josie and Rafael were still in her head, at least she could space out and daydream if she really tried. It seemed a little overwhelming to spare the two another glance while her jealousy was still boiling over, she knew that she needed to cool down and that looking at the slightest of interactions between the two would probably infuriate her. The brunette flinched when Kaleb suddenly whipped around to throw sauce packets at another one of her friends and it turned into a strange packet-throwing war that she was too lazy to be a part of. Their silent eating became rambunctious food fighting which Penelope would normally be pleased to join in on, but with the way that things unfolded Penelope still needed a few minutes to recover from what she witnessed. With a melancholy sigh she shifted her balance onto her right side this time and buried her face into Davina’s shoulder as if doing so would just shut everything around her off. When the other girl wiggled her shoulder playfully Penelope giggled and draped her arm across the junior’s shoulders. ‘Just avoid thinking about it and it’ll go away,’ she mentally chanted to herself and if Davina couldn’t help, who could?

Chapter Text

 The evening seemed to sail by flawlessly. Maybe Josie shouldn’t have judged Rafael as quickly as she had. Not only was he physically attractive, but mentally as well. She’d always had a soft spot for someone who could stimulate her mind and hold intelligent conversations – much like a certain someone. There was still no denying that she had feelings for the girl. Feelings that she still refused to come to terms with, but they were certainly more than friendly. Even when Penelope wasn’t around, she was still somehow on her mind and Josie hated herself for it. However, tonight wasn’t about Penelope, or so she desperately tried to convince herself. For once, she wanted to be able to forget about the other girl and enjoy someone’s presence and the prospect of Rafael possibly being that for her sparked something in her.

The two had fallen into a deep conversation, all previous interruptions forgotten – how much she had been against giving him a chance, the fact that her friends ditched her, Penelope, everything. The only issue not forgotten is how seemingly loud it had become around them. The louder the area became, the more irritated Josie became. She knew that it was a public place but she didn’t understand why some people couldn’t attempt to act civilized. Glancing back at the source from which the noise was being distributed, her eyes landed on a group of kids causing her to roll her eyes. Of course it had to be some obnoxious teenagers with nothing better to do on a Saturday night. There were unknown things flying and being thrown and she just hoped someone would stop them before they disturbed the wrong person.

Josie made a move to turn around when she suddenly saw a familiar face from her peripherals. It was hard to tell if she was seeing correctly but there was no way she could have mistaken her for someone else. Penelope was there? Penelope was there….and not alone. Quickly turning around, she awkwardly cleared her throat and hoped Rafael hadn’t thought anything of her spacing out. Seeing the other girl there with Davina shouldn’t have affected her as much as it had, but it did. A part of her knew she had no reason to be upset but she could have sworn Penelope told her there was nothing there between the two.

‘She’s your friend, Josie. Your friend that can do whatever she wants.’ As much as she reminded herself of that, it didn’t help even the slightest bit but it did reinforce that she really just needed to get over the girl. She had to.

Not wanting to dwell on the negative feelings that were overtaking her, Josie slid closer to Rafael in an attempt to hear him better. That, and from where she was now sat, she could halfway get a view of Penelope and Davina without being so obvious about it. She flirtatiously allowed her leg to softly graze his, hoping that maybe if he got the hint, she’d be forced to tune out her thoughts.

“I’m really glad my friends brought you out tonight.” It wasn’t a complete lie and frankly, she felt that maybe he was something she needed. “ I wish they – “ The brunette stopped mid-sentence, her eyes darting to the hand that rested upon her bare knee now, bringing an instant blush to her cheeks. Maybe it was too soon for her to be entertaining his advances but as long as she could push the envelope without ripping the envelope, she figured she should. The taller boy’s hand soon began to rub circular motions along her thigh as he leaned over to whisper into her ear how beautiful she was, causing her to bite her lip as she giggled.

Penelope felt like she was going to hurl. She ate way too many tacos, drank way too much soda and now she was seeing way more than she could handle between Josie and Rafael. It sucked knowing that the objective side of her even admitted that they were an attractive pair. In an ideal, really fortunate universe she would just stomp over there and drag Josie away, but it seemed that if she even attempted such a thing that it would just blow up in her face. The chemistry was definitely there between the two, and now with where Josie was sitting there was no way that she could blatantly stare at the other girl without a fair chance of the two of them catching each other’s gazes. That always managed to happen between the two of them whenever they were in school, she assumed that the odds weren’t in her faor this time around either. This was the one time that she came to develop a crush on someone, and not even mind it, so why did it have to be such a disaster?

Again she retreated into staring right at Davina in somewhat of a daze, one that she forced herself into that she eventually lost herself in. ‘What now?’ echoed through her mind, the single question which threw her in for the loop. It was nice knowing that the younger girl didn’t question why Penelope was acting the way that she was. She really needed to ignore it, that was the only thing to do until the group decided to leave the mall together. The witch picked up her phone and opened up Snapchat, first taking a video of the chaos that was winding down into more eating and captioning it with “fucking morons”, then taking a picture of her cheek pressed against Davina’s with a content smile on her face. She figured that a simple leaf emoji for the caption would explain everything. Both of them were uploaded to her Snap-story and she tried to update all of her social media with that same picture of her and Davina– just something to keep her hands busy so that she could look anywhere but directly in front of her.

A flash from Josie’s phone caught the brunette’s eye which drew her away from the close embrace she somehow found herself in. Lightly shrugging off Rafael’s arm around her shoulder, she retrieved her phone from her purse only to be met with an Instagram notification. She’d set notifications for Penelope’s social media early on, and any other time she would have liked to see what the dark haired beauty had uploaded but now, she just found herself dreading it. Unfortunately, her curiosity won out and she clicked the alert, bringing up the picture in question. An instant grimace appeared onto her face at the sight but she quickly masked it. She didn’t need Rafael to catch on to anything.

It was then that she noticed that she hadn’t received any texts back. Was it because Penelope was respecting the fact that she was on a date or was she just in better company? Josie internally groaned at herself. Why was she letting the little green monster come out? There she was on a date with a great guy, so why was she letting her emotions get the best of her? It would have been so much easier to just leave but blowing off her date would be rude. On the other hand, staying and dealing with Penelope and Davina wasn’t any better. She was thankful the two hadn’t been too ‘couple-y’ but the one pro definitely didn’t outweigh any of the cons.

Deciding to up the ante a little bit, Josie grabbed her unfinished dinner and stood up to take it to the trash. She intentionally avoided looking in Penelope’s direction and instead slowly made her way past the girl’s table - discreetly enough that Penelope wouldn’t had known she saw her. Turning back on her heel, she made her way back over to her table, accidentally on purpose, stumbling and landing in the boy’s lap. “Nice catch.” She winked, playfully and made a move to get up but his arms snaking around her waist locked her in place. Okay, that wasn’t part of the plan but it definitely didn’t hurt. Josie raked her nails through his hair and made herself more comfortable. Any other time she would have protested had it been anyone else, but she’d started the game, so she couldn’t back out now.

Penelope tried her best not to look at Josie while she was passing by their table, she really was, but she couldn’t help herself and lost focus with just one glance. She already saw the unstable gait that Josie took up and narrowed her eyes. At first she was grateful that Rafael had reflexes quick enough to catch her, but the position that the two ended up in made Penelope see red. Was this really their first date? A blind date? The entire situation felt so absurd that Penelope was starting to think it was all staged. It actually felt like there was a higher being up there just fucking with her, seeing how much she could bear until she finally cracked. Jealousy— no, envy because Josie was never hers to begin with— was such an ugly thing to feel and it felt like a dam inside her broke open and flooded through her entire being. She’d never felt so irritated by seeing one of her acquaintances with someone else before.

Without any thought whatsoever, Penelope shot up from her chair and winced along with everyone else within her general vicinity when it made a loud, high-pitched screech against the floor. With several pairs of eyes on her now, there really was no turning back on what to do even after she collected her thoughts. It seemed like the entire thing between her and Josie was completely fucked over, so now Penelope could just make things exponentially worse and not care anymore. Seems logical. She cleared her throat and dusted herself off of the crumbs on her pants before she shrugged her friends inquisitive looks off to saunter over to Josie and Rafael’s table.

‘So much for making a subtle entrance,’ she thought with the slightest roll of her eyes while she snatched an unoccupied chair from another table and set it down with a clank across from the couple. She spun it around to plop down with her arms crossed on the back of the chair, then rested her chin upon her limbs. There was silence from her end for a few moments accompanied by blank staring from the pair opposite her before she broke it with a tone dripping with feigned pleasantness, and sarcasm.

“Hello, lovebirds. It’s a fucking fantastic co-winky-dink seeing you two here. You must be the boy that Josie thinks is easy on the eyes, hm?”

Josie felt utterly ridiculous. There was no other way to describe it. She was trying her damnedest to get Penelope’s attention and for what? To make her jealous? As if that would happen. Penelope had Davina, what was there to be jealous of? Not to mention, ‘She’s not into you, Josie’. Of course there had been the off chance that Penelope called her cute names or it seemed as if the green-eyed girl would flirt, but she did that with everyone. The brunette constantly told herself that she was trying to project her feelings elsewhere which would explain her teasing act with the boy but she knew it was only to hide the obvious fact that she wanted to deter Penelope away from Davina.

Feeling that she was trying too hard - for a rather absurd reason - Josie ignored the sick feeling in her gut and tried as best as she could to forget about everything going on around her. She had even managed to drown out the chair screech and everything else, that was until she heard a husky voice behind her, causing her eyes to widen. Snapping her neck around, she was surprised to be met with Penelope, sitting ever so lady like beside them. One would think that she would have felt relieved but she only began to feel a sense of nervousness.

“Penelope! I didn’t say that.” Her eyebrows knitted together before she turned to face Rafael. “I didn’t say that.” She clarified again, not wanting him to get the wrong impression.

“I also didn’t - I didn’t know you were here.” Josie forced a fake smile as she looked behind Penelope to Davina who so obviously was staring at them but when the pair’s eyes met, the younger girl looked away. Maybe they weren’t as serious if Josie had managed to lure Penelope away so easily. “Where are my manners? Sorry, Penelope, this is is Rafael. Rafael, Penny. She’s a friend from school.” As she introduced the two, she used hand gestures, eyeing each respectively.

“She did, but I guess she takes it back now and I’m glad that she did ‘cause, you’re kinda eh… I’m just kidding, though.” The brunette snickered into her arm at her own shady remark, making sure to not spare Josie another glance and instead focusing practically all of her attention on Rafael. She knew how intimidating her scrutinizing gaze could be, green eyes and dark eye makeup and all. Penelope glanced down at Rafael’s hand that he offered to her, probably for a friendly handshake, but she bluntly ignored it to lean forward in her chair with a toothy smile. A fake smile. One that seemed more hostile than it seemed jovial, in all honesty, and Penelope was glad that she was numbed just the right amount to disregard how ridiculous she was being.

There was a heavier rasp to her voice with how dry her mouth and throat felt. She really couldn’t think straight if she wanted to, but now she was allowing her emotions and weed to really get to her.

“Yeah, I’m Penelope. I hope you’re being a gentleman to my lil’ Josie on your lap here, and not, y’know, thinkin’ about doing anything with her later tonight,” she chirped a little too cheerily, and just stirred the pot with a little suggestive wink at the boy. “How do us girls know you’re not some scrub, huh? Try not to get the wrong idea here though, Josie’s just a casual cuddler.” The witch drawled the last part to take a small jab at the other girl. Penelope felt like all the little things that made their entire dynamic special were going to be invalidated by this guy sitting across from her, the same one who was shrinking away from the onslaught of remarks Penelope was making. Penelope didn’t even have a plan on what she was trying to do here. Was she trying to sabotage their date? Scare Rafael away? She had no idea, but she just wanted all the flirting to stop and she was doing just that right now. That was enough for her.

Was Penelope serious? Josie couldn’t even quite fathom why she was being like this. There was of course the fact she was looking out for her, possibly, but she certainly was going about it the wrong way. Sliding off Rafael’s lap, Josie took her rightful spot in her seat once again, in between the two. Her gaze met Penelope’s, giving her a ‘what-the-heck’ expression. It was now that she was eye level with the girl that she could see how prominently dilated her pupils were and she was completely reeking of ‘Mary Jane’. It’s not like she should have been surprised but the fact that it totally changed who the girl was annoyed her a little. There was no way Penelope would have been this indecent had she been in the right state of mind. Why was she trying to embarrass her? Her nose crinkled up in disgust as she grabbed Penelope by her forearm and pulled her away from Rafael, sending a sympathetic smile over her shoulder. Once the two girls were out of ear-shot, Josie let Penelope’s arm go and folded her arms across her chest. “What was that, Penelope? I get that you’re high off your ass but really?”

Penelope didn’t put up much of a fight while she was being led away. Honestly, she thought that it was wonderful that her interference physically separated the two, so once they were away from Rafael, Penelope took it upon herself to bring both of them to turn a corner so that they really were out of sight. She leaned against one of the windows to eye Josie warily. Now she was at a loss for how she should approach the other girl by herself. “What? I was asking the real questions, the hard-hitting ones. You said it yourself, people deserve more than a cheap bang,” she clicked her tongue and made little finger guns with her hands, even if there was still an underlying tone of malice to her words.

“Do you really think that low of me?” Josie knew that Penelope was high but to insinuate that she was easy was a low blow, right state of mine or not. “I’m not going to just hop in bed with the first guy that takes an interest in me. Besides, is really that damn surprising to think that maybe someone genuinely likes me? Not

everyone is you, Penelope. Not everyone just wants sex.” Maybe it wasn’t any better of her to take a jab at the shorter girl but she was past caring. Mostly, she was hurt. Partially it was her fault for gaining the girl’s attention in the first place but she couldn’t grasp why Penelope would want to ruin this for her.

“That’s not what I’m saying but really, Josie? Him?” She tilted her head back in the direction of the food court and licked her lips. She wondered if she could make it through this entire conversation without losing her voice– she was seriously thirsty. Where was she going with this again? ‘Oh, yeah.’ “Over me?” She froze up once the words that left her mouth were registered. So much for thinking her words through. It really was all or nothing right now. The hand that she lifted to place over her own chest felt like it was superglued to that very spot.

Over her? “What are you talking about? This isn’t some competition. Look who you’re with, Penelope! I saw Jed and Hope. I saw you and Davina.” The girl’s name came out a bit more harsh than she wanted to convey but she honestly couldn’t stand the younger girl, so there was no point in hiding it. “Why is it only an issue when I have other friends?” Pausing her rant, she eyed Penelope cautiously. “Are you jealous? Is that what this is?”

The growing tension between them was palpable and it immediately influenced the mood that Penelope was in. It was hard to stay calm when she was being swept away by so many negative emotions to deal with at once, and now that she told the truth it opened a massive can of worms. She tried her best to respect Josie and let her get her piece in, but halfway through she knew that she was being misinterpreted and it only fueled the seething brunette. She cut in with a scoff and ran a hand through her hair all the while, her brows drawing close together while she grew more hostile towards Josie. “It’s different, okay? I don’t fucking like Davina like that, how many times do I have to say it to you until you realize that I’m too caught up in your shit to like someone else!? I wouldn’t even want to like someone else.”

The more Penelope continued to speak, the more Josie grew more and more confused. How did they even end up here? Nothing was even remotely making sense to the brunette and if she hadn’t been as curious as she was now, she possibly would have walked off. “Caught up in my shit?! Penelope, you’re not making any fucking sense.” She hissed, unable to process what the girl meant. Was she implying that spending time with Josie was cutting into her time with Davina? “We’ve barely been hanging out! Or are you referring to making you go to class? Goodness gracious, Penelope! You can keep it in your pants long enough to attend a few classes. My fucking bad.” Their entire conversation was angering her more than she was trying to let on but the more she stayed there, the harder it was to control herself.

“Just let me talk, please. It’s not even about that..it’s just – “ She paused trying to collect her thoughts, but simply shook her head. “Now.. now..” she trailed off, the fiery tone in her voice wavering when she was at a loss for words. “Now you’re on a

date with a guy who’s actually interested in you. So yes, I’m jealous, and kinda light-headed ‘cause–” she cleared her throat and tried to use her saliva to make it easier for her to speak, a frustrated huff leaving her before she continued. “I’m fucking high. But! I’m telling the truth. And you need to tell me the truth too. Are you over me?”

“You’re ridiculous, y’know that? You’ve blown me off countless times for - “ Wait. “What?!” Josie’s breath hitched in her throat at the unexpected question. There was no way Penelope knew about her crush on her. Did she? Josie hadn’t told anyone except MG but maybe she hadn’t been as discreet as she thought. “I don’t - where is th-this coming from?” Now she was the one feeling light headed. Avoiding answering the question, she bit her lip as her gaze fell to the floor, avoiding Penelope’s gaze, too.

At this point in the conversation, Penelope was squirming. There was no way for Josie to understand what she was getting at without her actually saying it. All of Josie’s ranting eventually piled up until the smaller of the two grabbed onto Josie’s hands and squeezed them to force her attention to her. She gulped. “Are you high too? Or are you that fucking dense right now? I’m not horny, I don’t care how many friends you have, and I could care less about all the shit you think I’m mad about! I just don’t like that you’re on a date right now…..because I like you!” Penelope blurted out with finality, her voice cracking in the most untimely way possible.

The way that Penelope gripped her hands brought her attention back to the brunette opposite her, an unreadable expression on her face. She contemplated pulling away but when Penelope opened her mouth to speak, she decided to just give her a chance to explain herself first. As all of her accusations were listed and shot down, her eyebrows narrowed. Then what was the issue?

Josie rolled her eyes almost tuning the girl out until the very last second. There was no way Penelope had just said that. So many things began to run through her head all at once. She honestly didn’t know what to feel. Actually, she didn’t feel anything. All she could do was stare at the brunette with a blank expression.

Just like her, Penelope’s statement was reckless, spontaneous, and not graceful in the slightest way. The entire confrontation was just so messy. Both girls knew that they were treading through what was a minefield, but here they were parading through it haphazardly.

It felt like forever that Josie stood there - palms sweaty, heartbeat unsteady. Was it even right for her to say something to that? Luckily, she didn’t have to when Penelope continued.

“Your little notebook thing. You said that you liked me a buncha times in it. And it fucking threw me in for the loop. And now I’m here, being a complete douchebag to whoever that guy is for n’other reason than the fact that I don’t want you with him,

but with me.” Penelope released the other’s hands and stepped away with her bottom lip caught between her teeth. Her heart felt like it was going to fly out of her chest any second now. Now that she told Josie how she felt she didn’t feel any different– no better, no worse. Penelope assumed that it was just because of the volume of emotions that they were both feeling.

Josie was only half listening, still trying to get Penelope’s confession to register in head but it was hard to do that when the girl just kept laying things on top of that. Penelope had known all along about how Josie felt about her? “So, you invade my privacy, lie about it - not telling me is lying, and now you’re telling me that you like me?”

Josie took a step back, her thoughts were running rapidly.

“…why? Why now? Because now it’s not convenient for you?” Josie had so many questions to ask, but did she really want to know the answers? She didn’t know.

The shorter brunette crossed her arms over her chest as if she was trying to envelope herself in a hug. Even though she’d found herself in several vulnerable situations with Josie where she felt safe, this was the first time that she was laid out for the girl, bare, and felt like Josie could tear her to pieces if she wanted to. The brunette averted her gaze when she heard what Josie said to her with a deep frown. She really would give anything to not be high right now, but the middle of the mall was certainly not the place to be having a talk as critical as this.

“Because you told me to fucking give you time and I tried, I really tried to rock with it and wait for whatever you wanted to talk about but then I saw you out with him and…” Penelope figured that the rest of the sentence would be easy to fill in.

With a sigh, Josie shook her head. “What do you want me to say, Penelope?” This was not how she pictured the effects of getting Penelope’s attention would go. She wanted her away from Davina, she got her away from Davina….and then some, but she wasn’t happy. She wasn’t grateful. So many times she wondered what it would be like for Penelope to reciprocate her feelings but she had never completely thought about what it would be like if she really did. This certainly wasn’t it.

What felt like forever, the two just stood there staring at one another. Josie could feel her eyes glossing over, but she blinked rapidly to hold the tears back.

Suddenly, she heard her name being called, before Rafael and her two best friends came into view.

Once they caught a glimpse of Penelope, they looked a little wary but Josie simply smiled, hoping not to give anything away.

“Hey, the mall is closing in 15…” MG stated slowly, his eyes dashing between his best friend and Penelope.

“I’ll catch up with you guys in a bit.”

He nodded, and lingered for a moment before turning around, leading Lizzie with him.

She waited until she saw the trio turn the corner, giving Rafael a reassuring smile as he looked back at the girls one last time. Her smile quickly vanished, however, when she turned her attention back to Penelope. This entire situation was so messed up and not one she particularly cared to stay in.

“Listen. You’re high, your judgment is super clouded right now and you seriously need to drink some water because you sound horrible. Go get some sleep.” Josie knew that a drunk person’s words were a sober person’s thoughts but did that apply for getting high too? She didn’t know but she was banking on Penelope forgetting everything by tomorrow.

Withholding her answer to what Penelope wanted Josie to say was the best thing to do. She was right, her judgement was somewhat clouded at the moment, but it didn’t mean that she was lying or unsure of what she was saying. What was more frightening was that this is what Penelope was saying when everything was unfiltered. It didn’t take much from Penelope to read the other’s expression and deduce that she wasn’t pleased with her at all, and that felt like that was the real twist of the knife. From what she could assume, it appeared that Josie didn’t reciprocate her feelings anymore, or even worse she felt like Penelope wasn’t worth it.

“I’m sorry. Sorry about invading your privacy, n’ interrupting your date. I just– I really couldn’t take it anymore when I thought I could. I’m an asshole, I am, but I’m not fucking around here, Josie.” She chanced a glance at the other girl and waited until their gazes locked so that Josie could see the sincerity behind her hooded stare.

Penelope then realized then that there really was nothing left to say on her part, nothing that she felt she didn’t already say and reiterate. Josie would just refute her somehow anyways. They both needed time to think. Again.

“Alright.” She responded, defeated. “I’m just gonna…go.” She muttered and maneuvered around the taller girl before she began to trudge away, her head hanging and her steps wobbling. From where she was she could see that her friends were preparing to leave the food court and a few were looking around, probably for her, but then she realized that she really didn’t want to be near anyone for the rest of the day. ‘Ugh, more like my life.’ she thought and started to make her way towards an escalator instead.

Something within Josie felt unsettling about ending their conversation this way, but there was nothing left to be said. Being as hostile as she had been towards the older girl wasn’t exactly called for but she couldn’t exactly admit to Penelope all of the things that she had been holding in thus far. That would only open up a bigger can of worms that she wasn’t sure she could close back up. Josie was trying so hard to get over Penelope, to subdue her feelings and just be her friend but now she was fully aware that they could never go back to how they were previously and that actually scared her.

It was clear to the smaller girl that everything that Penelope was laying out for her was genuine. She’d known that all the while but that didn’t mean she had to accept it. She was becoming content with how well she’d done with cloaking her feelings until now. She felt like a game of Mario Kart. Just when she had managed to hurdle every obstacle, Bowser - Bowser being Penelope - came with the biggest obstacle of all and threw her back to the start. “Bye, Penny.”

Staying planted, Josie watched the girl as she walked away from her before following behind her in the opposite direction in search of her own friends.

Chapter Text

Josette: Hey

Josette: Are you busy?

Penny: nope.

Josette: Oh. What are you up to?

Penny: nothin, what’s up

Josette: Bored mostly.

Josette: I miss you.

Penny: imy too

Penny: hold up

Penny: why are you talkin to me

Josette: Am I not allowed to?

Penny: you know what I mean

Josette: I know things have been rocky but I still consider you a good friend.

Josette: You know that.

Josette: I was hoping you’d come over? Maybe?

Penelope hesitated for a moment. They hadn’t hung out with one another in quite a few weeks, aside from mandatory volunteering hours and hallway passings, and after their last face to face conversation, she wasn’t even sure how things would go. There was a nagging feeling in the back of her mind telling her to decline, but as always, she could never say to her.

Penny: okay but I ordered pizza

Penny: once it’s here, I’ll come through with it.

Penny: u still at your aunt’s?

Josette: Okay, there’s no rush at all.

Josette: Yeah, but not for long. Should be moving back in with Lizzie soon.

Penny: oh ur coming back?

Penny: what’s going on? there’s not a party or anything right?

Penny: cause I’m already in my jams and I’m showing up in em too

Josette: Only a party of one, sorry to disappoint. Lizzie’s getting ready to go out with Hope soon, so.

Penny: you'll do. still don't know what's going on & why you want me over after not talking to me for like a month

Josette: It's not like you spoke to me either.

Penny: fuck this i'm on my way

 


 

Josie felt relieved when Penelope didn’t put up a fight or argue her on coming over. Their last argument - for lack of a better word - hadn’t gone too well and the after math of it was starting to affect her greatly. Although she chose to not acknowledge what transpired between the two, she often found herself questioning it anyhow. Questioning things that led her to over thinking and over analyzing every single thing, which wasn’t foreign for her at all, but it was rather exhausting. It didn’t help her whatsoever that Penelope hadn’t come to her at all during the time the two girls didn’t speak. She wasn't sure why she would but she had hope. She didn’t want to make herself seem like an idiot so she was waiting for the brunette to come to her but that didn’t seem as though it would happen, so she took it upon herself to do so.

Which is how she found herself sat in her bedroom, trying to focus on anything but the idea that she was going to be seeing Penelope shortly. That was, if she didn’t flake on her. Time seemed to slow down and everything began to annoy her as she anxiously waited on the girl’s arrival. There were lots of things to be said and Josie knew she wasn’t ready for it, but she had to do it. She missed Penelope as a friend more than anything, and stupid feelings shouldn’t have gotten in the way of that. Right?

Every bump in the road that the bus hit only amplified the nausea that Penelope felt from the butterflies in her stomach. She kept her gaze trained on the pizza box on her lap while the thoughts about what was going to happen swarmed her. The way that she had left things, the way that she walked away, left the two of them in an incredibly awkward spot. At least everything was out in the open now. It still left Penelope feeling like she and Josie were at a stalemate where they were both trying not to add fuel to the flame whenever they were volunteering together. It couldn’t just be Penelope that felt the tension just having the two of them glance at each other once, could it? 

There was a strange kind of numbness that also accompanied everything considering the trend that they had of not speaking to each other when things went awry. So when Josie broke the silence by texting her out of the blue, Penelope’s head plunged straight into a state of panic. She didn’t know what this meeting of theirs would encompass. Nobody would want to feel the way that she did, but Penelope knew that it was necessary to bring up what should become of their confrontation at the mall. If Josie was going to act like nothing happened, Penelope still wanted the other girl to be in her life and that was only possible by addressing the elephant in the room. The initial burn of rejection still lingered within her nonetheless, but now that the two of them had time to think Penelope was really riding on hope that they would finally have the talk that had been in the makes for an entire month. Even if she felt as uncomfortable as she did, Penelope knew that this conversation was the healthiest thing to have in the long run. 

She stepped off of the bus. Her head remained ducked down and she started her walk to Josie’s aunt’s house. Given that it’d been a while, she struggled with the directions for a few minutes but found her way eventually. The brunette recalled that she was told that the door would be unlocked for her so she welcomed herself into the empty house and made her way into the living room once her flip-flops were kicked off. “Knock knock,” Penelope raised her voice for Josie to hear her from wherever she was and set the pizza box down onto the coffee table. She was starving, but she felt like she was going to puke the pizza right back up if she started eating now. 

Hearing a voice filtering through the upstairs, not wasting any time, Josie sprang from her bed, stumbling in the process, before making her way downstairs where she was met with the other.

“Hey.” Her eyes locked on Penelope’s physical appearance, an instant smile dancing onto her lips.

Even dressed down she still looked beautiful. In an attempt to disguise her impending drooling, Josie made a bee line for the pizza box and pulled out a slice onto a napkin then took a seat on the sofa.

Penelope did the same and hugged one of her knees to her chest while her fingers combed through her damp hair to make a simple braid that fell over one shoulder.

“Hi,” she responded in a distant voice, preoccupied by the task of finishing the braid by tying it with the scrunchie displayed on her wrist. Slowly but surely, if they both stayed level-headed then Penelope would be able to ease into the conversation. For now she was still fairly guarded due to the aftermath of their altercation at the mall. She wanted this talk to happen more than anything but she couldn’t help how squirmy she felt in a position she never thought that she would see herself in. It pained her that she couldn’t make Josie understand how much she was doing to stay calm.

There was an awkward silence that settled over them. Neither spoke for what felt like ages.

Josie took a small bite, but then set her pizza aside, wanting to get straight to the point. If she didn’t, she knew she possibly never would.

“Okay, I'll go. First, I wanted to say that I’m sorry. For everything. I never wanted for things to be like this and I hate that it is…” Taking a deep breath, she glanced over to the shorter witch. “You wanted me to be honest, right? So I think it’s time I do that.” Her hands were shaky and she could feel her throat going dry, but she pressed on despite it. “I miss you, Penelope…like it’s really bad. I guess you can say I’m attached?” A nervous giggle fell from lips. “I want to fix things and I think the only way to do that is to just…talk. No secrets, no guessing games. Complete and bare honesty, okay?”

“Okay. And just so you know, I’m not high, so let’s not peg anything on my judgment.” Penelope responded icily then immediately winced at the amount of venom in her tone. She sent Josie an apologetic look before taking a deep breath to collect herself.

“Look. This is really new to me. Not being honest– just.. being this vulnerable. Open. You’re gonna have to bear with me on this one, ‘cause I’m this close to running outta this house like a fucking trackstar.” The brunette explained herself slowly, but she was making sure that she was following Josie’s wishes by not controlling her expression. All of her discomfort and sincerity was surfacing across her bare features.

She felt so small but she pressed forward despite herself. If she kept reminding herself that she was doing this for the two of them, because she felt like Josie wouldn’t take advantage of her, then she would eventually be alright.

Josie knew better than to just expect for Penelope to not harbor any animosity towards her but she still held out some hope that she wouldn’t. However it was completely evident that she still felt some type of way regarding their debacle. Her gaze wandered to anything but the girl in front of her, feeling a sense of insecurity coming over her. Was she sure that she was ready to talk about everything? She was almost as scared as Penelope but she owed it to herself (and to Penelope) to not continue lying to the both of them. It was the only way for them to move past this and she was willing to do whatever it took to do so.

She nodded for Penelope to continue.

“I’m sorry for being a huge dick at the mall. And for invading your privacy, and for everything else I did to fuck things up. I couldn’t stop thinking about you then, and.. I don’t think I’ll be able to for a while. Maybe I have a valid explanation for that, maybe not, but I guess we can talk about what you wanna talk about first.”

“I don’t want you to apologize. I was upset…still a bit tiffed, but I understand now.” Josie wasn’t sure if that eased Penelope’s nerves a bit or not but she wanted to at least give her some sort of reassurance.

“I just - I think you should know that I’m not over you… I like you. Really, really like you. You make me feel things that I can’t even explain. I don’t know when…or how it happened but it did and you’re all I think about. When I kissed you at the party, it wasn’t for Davina. I was extremely tipsy but it just allowed me to act on something that I’d already wanted to do.”

Taking a deep breath, she met Penelope’s gaze for the first time since she started. “I’ll admit, I was scared as hell to come to terms with that fact. I still am…and it’s not because you’re a girl…at least not fully. I thought it would be better if I pushed you away and that maybe I was just infatuated with our friendship but I’m done denying that I have feelings for you, because I can’t anymore.”

Penelope couldn’t suppress the apologetic, lopsided smile that tugged at the corners of her lips while she gazed over at Josie. “I.. know it wasn’t for Davina.”

“I know I violated your privacy and this is kind of fucked up, but I don’t know how this would’ve gone if I didn’t bring it up– like, if I didn’t read that you liked me. I would’ve gone a really long time not admitting to myself that I liked you. Maybe never.” Her words were slow and deliberate, both out of uncertainty and hope that Josie would at least understand her perspective.

“Cause I remember when you kissed me, I felt like my tit was gonna pop ‘cause my heart was beating so fucking fast. I thought it was because I was like, an exhibitionist for Davina or some shit but it was really just ‘cause you kissed me and I really liked it. I really liked you. I still do.” Penelope knew that she sounded like a prepubescent boy with a grade school crush but of course, leave it to Josie to completely throw her off her game.

She at least was hoping that her sentiments were enough for Josie to not get too angry at her for being nosy and inconsiderate, but she couldn’t lie and say that she wholly regretted it. She exhaled a heavy breath when she finished and hid the bottom half of her face in the crook of her elbow. “Woah, word vomit.”

It was a bit odd to think that Penelope had liked her, too, this entire time. Josie was typically a very observant and perceptive girl so had she really been that oblivious? “I still think you shouldn’t have done it…but I’m kind of glad that you did. But how long have you known…y’know, that I liked you?” There wasn’t a specific point in time when she could recall that Penelope would have seen her things. She kept journals upon journals and most of the time, she was very OCD about where they were at all times. That thought alone made her a little self conscious. Now she wondered what all Penelope had seen, but she figured she’d be better off not knowing.

Penelope pursed her lips with a thoughtful tip of her head to one side. The memory immediately brought a tender smile to her face. “Since the time that we cuddled. Uh, well… the first time.”

"Right, so it's been a while."

Penelope nodded but didn't say more.

She stared down at the open pizza box and felt the nervous feeling in her stomach settle down. As elated as she felt that Josie still returned her feelings, they had many more important things that they needed to address. She couldn’t dwell upon the new feelings for too long without them getting some closure on everything else. Then again, the entire tone that Josie had didn’t seem like she was very happy. It struck a chord in her but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. A doubtful look crossed Penelope’s face. “You have feelings for me and I have feelings for you. N’ we have other shit to go over, but.. why does it sound like there’s a ‘but..?’”

This seemed to be a turning point in their relationship. Josie just wasn’t sure what kind of turn it was going to take in the end. Penelope knew that Josie liked her, now Josie was just confirming it, and vice versa, yet there seemed to be a lot still weighing on her. Especially so when Penelope sensed her hesitance. “But…” She started, becoming nervous all over again. “You know that we can’t act on anything.” There were so many reasons why they couldn’t. It was mainly why Josie wanted to ignore her feelings for so long. They finally knew what the other was feeling and for what? What would come of it? Nothing.

The lightheartedness between them completely dissipated on Penelope’s end. Her gaze fell upon Josie’s and she found herself perplexed by the other’s response.

After some time thinking, she knew that she wanted to be with Josie one way or another. It was just that at this point, Penelope would be grateful if Josie would just ease back into their natural routine or some new, patched up version of it so that they would at least be talking again. From her perspective it all seemed very black and white– to simply try and fix things and see where their mutual feelings would go. Wasn’t that the natural thing for people to do? Then again, Penelope didn’t know and she shied away from it for years now. It didn’t stop her from not masking her disappointment when she looked at Josie. “Why not?” she asked delicately, her brows drawing together. “You just said...”

“I know what I said.” The witch quickly interjected. “But I also know everything that you’ve said.” She wasn’t only referencing their current conversation now. The two had unknowingly shared a lot during their friendship and Josie had taken everything into account before this. “I’m not going to kid myself. You like me, sure, but you’ve also liked many other girls before me. I told you I’m not like them. I’m not going to be some hump and dump for you. You’ve made it very clear that you don’t do relationships…that you don’t want to do relationships.” Her mind freely thought back to the one of their brief conversations regarding that topic. “But let’s pretend that maybe down the line, you’d consider it…that maybe you’d want to try out a monogamous thing with me, how can I be with someone I can’t trust?”

Now that she was going, Josie figured she should just lay out everything going on in her head. She’d thought over every possible scenario, and none of them had been any promising than the other.

“Or maybe, I could very well just be getting ahead of myself, and that’s just what this is. Friends with feelings, nothing more, nothing less. But look at where that got us before. Here. I was wondering if we could handle that, y’know…but then I saw you with her. Still…and, I mean, the look of you two is literally vomit inducing which I can freely say now but I can’t really feel that way when I - I have Rafael…”

Chapter Text

Lizzie stood in the full length mirror of Josie’s temporary bedroom putting the final touches on her makeup. If anyone told her a few months ago that she’d be getting ready to go on a date with Hope Mikaelson, she would have called them delusional and an onslaught of other insults to describe just how ridiculous the idea was. Yet here she was – doing just that.

Neither knew how it happened. What started as a simple bond of not wanting to be the third wheel at the dinner party that Josie had previously invited Penelope to (completely unannounced as Lizzie loves to add anytime the topic arises), swiftly became the two actually realizing that they had a lot more in common than they initially thought.

The Saltzman twins had never been anyone that Hope – or Penelope even – were particularly fond of. To Hope, Lizzie had always come off as this snobby narcissist with a superiority complex. They had never exactly crossed paths beyond in passing but there was just something about Lizzie that rubbed Hope the wrong way. She’d had her issues with Josie as well but she was definitely more tolerable than her sister; though the word tolerable was to be used very loosely.

Ever since Hope could remember, she’d had a hard time trusting or befriending anyone. Of course there were her group of friends that she was close to but Penelope was the only person that she’d even remotely let in. There was a difference. Honestly, she never felt the need to get close to anyone, especially not with the way that things had been going for her throughout her entire life but then came Lizzie; and when she says that Lizzie turned her world around, she meant that she completely flipped it.

If she was being completely honest herself, initially, her want to befriend Lizzie started off as her wanting to get close enough to learn more about her family history. She knew that Dr. Saltzman and apparently, a host of other people in their family, had more insight than they let on. Clearly, there was something that they weren’t telling her, or more importantly, something that they were hiding and it didn’t seem as though she would easily get the answers so she was prepared to take matters into her own hands.

It’s not to say that she wasn’t still on a mission but her time spent with Lizzie lately definitely wasn’t for her ulterior motives.

As Lizzie closed the top on her lip gloss, she caught a glimpse of baby blues staring at her through the mirror.

Spinning on her heel, she quirked a perfectly arched eyebrow at the shorter girl sat atop her bed.

“What?”

Hope shook her head with an amused smile, “Nothing.”

“Well, you’re staring. Stop. It’s weird.”

“Well stop being so damn beautiful and I might.”

“Shut up.”

“Mayhaps that’ll be a bit more convincing later.”

Resisting the urge to entertain her comment, Lizzie dismissed the topic. Walking over to the bed, she took a seat on Hope’s lap, wrapping her arms loosely around the girl’s neck to hold herself in place.

“Where are we going tonight anyways?” The only thing that Hope had mentioned for the past few days was that she wanted to take Lizzie somewhere special. They’d been exclusive for the better part of two weeks but had yet to have their first date because Hope was waiting for the “right” time. She wouldn’t say that she was a hopeless romantic but she knew how to swoon a woman when need be.

There’d been a while since Hope had been so smitten by someone. For as long as she could remember, both she and Penelope had sworn off being ‘tied down’. There wasn’t anything that she found appealing by the thought of making yourself vulnerable to someone so she didn’t. She’d have her catch of the week and then toss them back out when she was bored…but a certain blonde quickly poked a hole in that plan.

“I’ll tell you when we get there, Miss Impatient.”

Lizzie pretended to pout. “Okay, one hint. Just one.”

“No.”

“Hope.”

“Babe.”

“Stop.”

“You stop.”

Doing as she was told, Lizzie indeed stopped, exaggerating her pout even more.

“That isn’t going to work, Lizzie.”

With a huff, she slid off the shorter girl’s lap, pout still fully in tact. “It did before.”

“Yeah, that was before I knew you were going to use it against me every chance you got. I’m immune now.”

“You’re mean.”

“You’re cute.”

The pair stared at one another, Hope trying to not giggle just how cute a pouting really was and Lizzie firmly sticking to her guns, glaring at brunette.

“Fine! You know this whole cryptic thing that you and Penelope do…yeah, it’s not it.”

Hope shrugged, satisfied that she’d won this round. Her one victory to Lizzie’s dozen.

Switching topics, Hope stood up and glanced at the clock, making a mental note that they should be leaving shortly if they wanted to get to their destination on time. She grabbed her coat and handed Lizzie’s hers as well. “What? She’s still lying to herself about how she feels?”

With a heavy eye roll, Lizzie sighed. “As much as I can’t stand her, I care about my sister and my sister cares about her so I just wish she’d stop dancing around the whole ordeal because more importantly, she’s lying to my sister about how she feels. And she’s still flaunting that skank around school like she is. What game is she playing at?”

Hope knew Penelope well. They hadn’t talked about either of their situations because that just wasn’t something they did and preferred it that way but Hope wasn’t an idiot. She noticed the drastic change in Penelope’s demeanor after her disappearance at the mall, she’d made note of just how distant the girl had been since. They’d had an agreement and understanding that if anything ever became too much, they’d go to one another but until then, neither ever brought up the topic first.

“I get it but you don’t know Penelope like I do. This is all new for her, she needs time to figure it all out.”

“Well, while she does that, she’s going to lose my sister because I refuse to stand idle and watch Josie pine after her.”

“How about we both stay out of it while they get it together? Your sister isn’t exactly holding the track record for most honest, either.”

Lizzie knew Hope had a point but that didn’t make things any better. Snapping her fingers, she cast a spell to tidy up the clothes she’d had splayed around the room in her attempt to raid Josie’s closet earlier.

“I thought you and wonder twin were anti-magic.”

“Josie’s anti magic, I do what I want…off campus anyways, which might I add is a blessing for your best friend…wait, do you hear that?”

Hope shook her head. “Hear what?”

“Is that – is that Penelope?”

“What? No. Why would Penelope be here? They aren’t even talking.”

Grabbing the shorter of the two’s hand, the blonde led them quietly out of the room and towards the stairs. She put a hand over Hope’s mouth – despite her not even talking – and poked her head around the bannister.

 


 

“So you’re dating Rafael now, huh?” There was a mocking tone to her voice when Penelope said the boy’s name. It sounded like a bit of a joke to her, as much as she tried and wanted to respect the two and whatever their new status apparently was.

Josie furrowed her eyebrows. “Yeah, I am.” Was that really the only thing that Penelope chose to focus on? There was no question that she wasn’t wrong in her spiel but somehow, she wanted to be. Any rebuttal would have been better than the silence she was met with in regards to all of her suspicions and doubts being left out there.

“Can’t say I’m surprised but yeah, you’re right. You have Rafael now.” She mused while she averted her gaze. The brunette had a gut feeling that if she’d realized things a lot sooner and dealt with them in a more healthy and mature manner, Josie wouldn’t be hesitating over her as firmly as she was. “I guess he…treats you well and all that shit, yeah?”

Josie nodded. They weren’t too serious yet. It had only been made official about a week prior but as much as she hated it, Penelope seemed rather unfazed by that fact. “He’s not you, b-but, he’s great.” The first part of her statement was only meant as a thought but she didn’t bother to retract it.

“That’s factual.” Penelope chuckled lowly to herself.

For some reason, she expected things to be so much heavier, much worse than this, but this conversation wasn’t as taxing as she initially anticipated on the way over. In fact, it served it’s exact purpose by being a form of closure for her.

There were other things that she needed to think through by herself later on, but for now she had to stay focused on the bigger picture – which was the two of them and what was to become of them now.

“I guess I gots one last thing that I wanna bring up, which is probably the biggest things since it’s something we can actually control for once…with everything out in the open. Hopefully everything.”

After studying Josie’s expression for a few seconds, she gestured to the girl opposite her with a bittersweet smile. “What’re we gonna do now? Are we going back to not hanging out besides volunteering? Not hanging out at all? Wing it from here? Because honestly, neither of us are actually over the other but as you said, you have Rafael now and I…have no one, so…just say the word and I’ll do it JoJo. Whatever you want.”

Josie’s bottom lop folded between her lip, pondering what was being asked of her. It took her a few moments, but it’s not like she really had to give it much thought to begin with. She knew what she wanted. The whole point of Penelope even coming over was to reestablish their friendship, or whatever was left of it.

She was still unsure of where everything was heading for them but she knew that she didn’t want things to continue on how they had been. Would it be hard? Sure but she figured that any sense off normalcy would do them better than none at all. The distance hadn’t helped with their feelings before so she didn’t see how it would be any different now. Especially now.

“I want us to get back to how we were. Before everything got complicated. I want my best friend back…I mean, if you want that too.”

Penelope nodded once. “You’ll get your best friend back. Never lost her, actually.”

She really was sure of herself in wanting to strengthen their friendship and fix things but she couldn’t lie to Josie and say that she wanted their friendship to downgrade into nothing more than just friends, to “how they were”.

She picked up a slice of pizza and began to take small bites out of it. “I have one more thing to ask you to do, just so this doesn’t happen again. Not even if it’s feelings n’ shit, ‘cause you and I fight over other stuff too. Please don’t lock me out when you’re pissed, upset, anything anymore. Not the damn silent treatment thing. You get me so damn worked up and worried, I’m usually alright with it but.. not you.”

“I can try. On the one condition that you don’t keep anything else from me. No matter what it is….We’re good, right?”

Penelope shrugged before nodding. It felt liberating to be able to not cloak her feelings about the other girl anymore in spite of the circumstances. She realized that it would only be enough for now. Grabbing another slice of pizza, she leaned back against an arm of the couch while she raised her brows in a questioning manner. “And you? You’re good with me?”

“Yeah, I’m good.” For the first time, it wasn’t a lie. Folding her legs beneath herself, Josie’s eyes darted to the pizza box as Penelope grabbed a slice. She was sure it was cold by now but that didn’t seem to deter the other. Her gaze then fell back upon those pair of emerald ones that she had grown to both despise and love, by the same token.

Although Josie knew they were past the hardest part, that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be rough patches in between. Feelings didn’t fade overnight, she’d learned that the hard way and she knew how much it bothered her seeing Penelope with Davina all of those times. She also knew how worked up Penelope had gotten in the mall, and that was only when nothing had been established. The last thing she wanted to do was be inconsiderate of her feelings so she figured they should finalize one last thing.

“You do know that I don’t want to hurt you, right?” Their last conversation was prominent in her head when the shorter girl mentioned not wanting her with Rafael. But now that she was, she didn’t want to overstep any boundaries. It was only a respect thing, or so she tried to convince herself. “I obviously won’t have you around when he is and vice versa but are you okay with everything else? Should I not bring him up at all?”

“I’m a big kid now.” She mused with an amused chuckle. “I mean.. it is gonna sting, but if you wanna talk about Rafael then you should talk about Rafael. What’s the point of being all out in the open and honest if we’re gonna make him– or anything, taboo, right?” The way that she said his name already showed that she wasn’t very fond of the boy, but the earnest look on her face was enough to say that she was willing to put effort into adapting. “D’you feel the same way about me n’ Davina? Even though Davina and I aren’t even a thing?”

There was visible confusion that came with why she always had to clarify that single fact. Penelope knew that she had no feelings for the junior for as long as she was enamored by Josie, which she wasn’t going to back out of anytime soon. To her, Penelope just hooking up with Davina was very different from Josie dating Rafael, but it appeared that the other girl’s feelings towards Davina were much heavier than her distaste towards Rafael. It was all very black and white to the witch, but she didn’t want to outright question Josie’s feelings for whatever they were. All Penelope knew was that, bottom line, Josie returned her feelings. That was fundamental to whatever plan was brewing in the back of her mind.

Despite the valid point that was made, Josie doubted that she’d be bringing the boy up at all. Sure, they were attempting to keep things at a friendly level and sure, friends discussed their significant others but they were far from just typical friends. Instead of commenting on it, she figured she’d just take it for what it was worth, though she was grateful that Penelope wasn’t against putting her feelings aside. However, Josie wasn’t a “big kid” and she was selfish more than anything, so she couldn’t give the other girl that same luxury.

“I’ve dealt with it this long so it’d be kind of ridiculous to make it an issue now, but honestly, no. I’m not okay with it. Granted, I could be but not now. But that’s my problem, not yours.”

That was just the reality of the situation, she didn’t see any point in sugar coating anything anymore. “I can’t expect you to change anything about…. whatever you guys are…” A minor scowl graced her features at the thought. She honestly hated how Penelope wouldn’t label them. They were a thing, maybe not an official thing but a thing, nonetheless. From what she’d learned around school, Penelope never did one person for too long, so it was obvious she liked the junior girl to a certain extent which is what made her dislike Davina so much. In her mind, it was a relationship without the titles. Same difference. “…And that’s not what I’m asking you to do. I’m really not trying to be rude about it, I just really couldn’t care less about whatever you two do, is all.”

Even if jealousy was rather cute on the girl across from her, Penelope could only wish that Josie would understand where she was coming from. It seemed like no matter how strongly she insisted that she wasn’t romantically interested in Davina, Josie would just assume that it was something much more serious than it was. There was no way to make her change her mind on that today, either, she concluded. She decided that it was better to shrug it off and take the more lighthearted approach towards it, but she nodded slowly while she finished off her second slice and closed the pizza box. “I mean, I only care about you. So I guess by association I feel a little obligated t’care about whatever the fuck you and Rafael do. It’s really the only way for us to get back into the swing of things in my head. I like to stay involved. Different strokes for different folks though, I understand.” she wondered if her words conveyed the same idea that she had in her head and hoped that it would– it seemed like talking about other people they were involved with struck a chord in Josie. “So.. don’t bring Dav up? Or anyone else up?”

Curiosity - it made sense, the act of not caring to know but wanting to know all the same. It was rather weird concept but Josie got it. She’d be lying to herself if she said she didn’t care at all but the more she thought about it, the less she wanted to admit it to herself so lying, it was. “Yeah, no.” She confirmed with a shake of her head. Josie was going by her own logic that if she didn’t hear anything about the girl or as Penelope so distinctly clarified - anyone else, she could pretend no one else existed - out of sight, out of mind sort of thing. It made sense to her. It was much better that way.

 


 

Rounding the stairs, Lizzie and Hope entered the room after having heard the entire latter half of the conversation.

With an evident scowl on her face, Lizzie sneered her nose up at Penelope. “What is she doing here?”

“Y’know what, actually – I was just leaving.” Penelope made a move to stand up but Josie’s words kept her in place.

“No, she wasn’t. Penelope, stay.” Josie spoke to Penelope, all the while keeping her gaze locked on Lizzie. “Can you not?” Josie knew that Lizzie had been a lot more hostile towards even the simplest of mentions of Penelope’s name lately but for her to currently insert herself was definitely not called for.

“I really should be getting back, Josie. We’re good.” This time she stood up fully, slipping her shoes back on, averting any attention to Hope. She could feel her best friend’s eyes on her but she really didn’t want to deal with her right now. Even if Lizzie might not have heard the conversation – wishful hoping on her part, there was no way that Hope hadn’t if she was anywhere in the house.

“Pen, it’s fine. Lizzie and I have somewhere to be anyhow. You two…finish up.” Hope stated softly, confirming Penelope’s suspicions. Curse her damn tribid senses.

“No, let her leave. She has a girlfriend to be getting back to somewhere, I’m sure.” Lizzie retorted.

A bitter laugh fell from the shorter girl’s lips at the accusation. “Yeah, like your sister doesn’t have a whole ass boyfriend.” Penelope spat back. The statement came out a lot harsher than she intended but it felt as if whatever content bubble she’d been floating in for the past hour was immediately burst by the blonde’s presence and her irritation had only magnified.

“Better than her being stuck with you, that’s for sure.”

“Yeah, maybe…and Hope sure as hell can do a lot better, and she has so I don’t know what spell you’ve cast on her but I’m sure it won’t last long.”

“Don’t drag me into this, Penelope.”

Lizzie rolled her eyes, completely unbothered by Penelope’s fit. “That weak ass drag. At least I got the girl.”

“Look, you two can do this another time when I’m not here. Lizzie, I’m not letting you come at her and Penelope, I’m not letting you degrade her, either. That’s enough.” Not really wanting to get into the middle of Penelope and Josie’s situation which clearly wasn’t as tame as it was perceived to be moments prior during her eavesdropping, Hope took Lizzie’s hand in an attempt to alleviate the tension. She shot Josie a sympathetic look. “We’re leaving now.” Walking past Penelope, she murmured a quiet ‘text me’ before dragging Lizzie out of the house without another word.

Releasing a breath that she hadn’t even realized she’d been holding, Penelope tried to internally talk herself down. Why was she letting Lizzie get under her skin? Maybe she was taking her frustrations out on Lizzie because she didn’t want to on Josie but she was supposed to be fine with this. She wasn’t supposed to care this much.

Once she was sure she was calmer than she was, she turned back to the other brunette, her eyes looking past her. “Can I go now?”

“Why are you running?”

“I’m not.”

“Yeah, because it’s not like everything you just said to me about you being okay with all of this was a lie.”

“Look, Josie, I’m tired.”

“Penelope.”

“What? I am.”

“Okay, so stay. You don’t need to head back this late if you’re that tired.”

“What? Josie, no.”

Josie wasn’t letting up any time soon. It was less about her not wanting to let Penelope leave if she was tired because she knew she could definitely handle herself. It was more so her fear of things going stale once more if they left things how they were now. One step forward, three hundred steps back.

“I mean, no funny business, we don’t even have to cuddle….”

The words ‘call Rafael’ threatened to roll off Penelope’s tongue but she kept the thought at bay. She was definitely not ready to argue so she remained silent for a few moments before just giving in.

Funny business. I like how you make it sound like cuddling is like, freaky n’ kinky sex between us,” She teased, despite herself, “But fine. Whatever.”

“Fine.”

 

Chapter Text

The bright light streaming in from the slit in Josie’s curtains caused her to stir in her sleep. It was only when she made a move to turn over that she felt something stopping her. Her eyes immediately shot open, only to find a slender arm protectively wrapped around her, holding her in place.

All of last night’s memories came flooding back to her which caused her to ease back into the embrace – Penelope had come over, everything was now out in the open and it hadn’t completely ruined things. Her eyes darted up to the glance at the sleeping brunette beside her. Penelope’s disheveled hair, her mouth slightly agape, the soft snores she emitted. Josie briefly let herself revel in the moment, but it was short lived however when her eyes landed on the blinking letters just a few inches from her previous gaze.

9:52 AM. Her hands quickly grabbed for Penelope’s phone, which was much easier accessible than her own, and glanced at the date. Wednesday. “Shit.” She huffed under her breath. She’d been so wrapped up in Penelope’s company, that she hadn’t even bothered to set her alarm the previous night. School had started nearly three hours earlier. Her first instinct was to still make an attempt but Josie knew that she was going to possibly get in trouble for it either way so there really wasn’t any point in going now. Propping herself up on her elbow, the witch slightly shook the smaller girl, careful to not startle her. “Pen.” One shake. “Penelope.” Another. Brushing a few strands of hair out of her face, she lightly patted her cheek. “Wakey, wakey, sleepy head.”

Even in her sleep, Penelope still managed to look incredibly disgruntled.  “Wha– oh my god, fuck off,” Penelope husked and grabbed the pillow beneath her head, then placed it over her face as if it would make her surroundings disappear. She then waved her hand, casting a silent spell to drown out the noise. It wasn’t that she didn’t get much sleep– it was just hard for Penelope to wake up if it wasn’t out of her own volition. Being late to school was the least of her concerns, so she’d never developed a sense of urgency towards mornings.

Through the white noise that was filling her mind while she was trying to force herself back to sleep, the other girl’s voice finally registered and from under the pillow her eyes snapped open. The brunette finally realized where she was and more importantly, who she was with. With a sigh, she murmured an undoing of the spell as she rolled onto her side, the pillow still on her face, and wrapped her arms around Josie. She wasn’t sure what part of Josie exactly she had her arms wrapped against since she was still half asleep, but she still clung onto the other girl.

“Sorry. Not a morning person.” she spoke up from under the pillow, mildly embarrassed and apologetic for being so snappy.

Josie chuckled at Penelope’s antics, her hand reaching up to stroke the arm around her gently. Seeing Penelope as grumpy as she was, was seriously the cutest thing.

“I can definitely see that, Madam Grumps-A-Lot.” Slowly removing the pillow from the girl’s face, Josie adjusted her placement to keep as much light as she possibly could from disturbing the other. “We overslept.” Her hand cupped the smaller girl’s cheek, her thumb slowly caressing the soft skin in an attempt to coax her awake. “I’m not sure if you actually wanted or needed to go today, so I’m sorry.” Though she really wasn’t. The prospect of spending the day with Penelope was far too appealing for her to even remotely care.

After a few moments, Josie carefully untangled herself from the hold as best as she could and turned on her side to be face-to-face with the other. Leaning forward, she nuzzled Penelope’s nose against her own. Even though she knew they were keeping things strictly platonic, it was quite difficult for her to refrain from any affection altogether. Her eyes trailed on Penelope’s every feature, smiling at the little details she was able to make out now that she actually had the chance to, undisturbed.

Deciding to try a different approach, she tossed her leg onto either side of the older girl, straddling her. Josie began to lightly bounce on top of her, figuring that maybe she’d effectively awaken her this time. As much as she wanted to let Penelope sleep in – she wouldn’t have minded sleeping in herself, she also really didn’t want to waste their day away. Especially knowing that one of her friends or conquests that were most likely to not be attending classes as well could call and whisk her away any second. “Are you hungry?”

It seemed like now that things were out in the open, instead of creating distance and boundaries between them, the other girl– the taken girl became exponentially more touchy. Even if she was half asleep Penelope knew that the pleasure that she was feeling through Josie’s affectionate ways was a tad bit twisted. She didn’t care much, though. Instead of focusing on the ‘why’ of all this, she allowed herself to bask in simply ‘how’ nice it all felt. Her mind was moving a mile a minute but she was still too lazy to open her eyes despite all of Josie’s efforts.. up until the other girl straddled her hips and threw Penelope’s mind far into the gutter.

After the initial shock of the witch’s bouncing wore off Penelope cracked one eye open, then the other and placed a firm hand on each of Josie’s thighs to still her movements. There was no way that Josie wasn’t aware of what she was doing. “Hungry,” she repeated with a small smirk to herself, not really caring if the innuendo went unknown by Josie or not, before she sat up until she was eye to eye with the girl now settled onto her lap.

“I’m up. Happy? I’m not.” Shooting Josie a dirty look through hooded lids, Penelope leaned forward until her forehead made contact with the taller girl’s collarbone.

It was only when Penelope finally sat up that Josie took notice of just how obviously compromising their situation was. The rational part of her knew that she should have moved but the far more dominant part of her chose not to. She hadn’t had ulterior motives, it was all complete innocence.

“I am happy, thank you.” Her hand reached down to lift the girl’s chin, forcing Penelope to look at her once more. Josie had never realized just how much greener her eyes appeared to be with the help of the sunlight before now and it caused her to lose her train of thought. After a few moments, she’d realized she’d zoned out and quickly rolled off the brunette to hide her impending blush.

“So um…” Awkwardly clearing her throat, Josie turned back around to face the other. “About that food. I was thinking we could just lounge around the pool, afterwards?” It was a pretty day so she didn’t want to waste it, and it was a much better idea than lounging around inside all day. Josie stood up from the bed and made her way over to her dresser in search of a change of clothes. She retrieved a bikini for herself and a cover up before turning to the other girl. “There’s this drawer, and that one.” She pointed to the one below it. “Feel free to take whichever one you want to borrow. And the bathroom is right there.” She then pointed across the hall. “I’ll use the guest one, and you can just meet me downstairs when you’re all set, yeah?”

Amusement danced all over Penelope’s face when she saw how flustered she made the other girl. As talkative of a girl as she was, words weren’t really her thing until after she had breakfast. Instead she allowed her gaze to follow wherever Josie was looking off to or wherever she was with slow nods or hums of acknowledgement. She then copied the other girl and slid off of the bed, stumbling her way to the dresser that Josie directed her over to. Peeking into the open drawer, she immediately plucked out a lilac-colored bikini and placed the two pieces onto her shoulder before she walked straight past Josie and into the bathroom across the hall with a soft “thanks” over her shoulder.

Once she shut the door behind her, the first thing Penelope did was splash cold water all over her face. She needed to wake up. All while she was refreshing herself and preparing for the day ahead of her, she closed her eyes and tried to remember all of Josie’s little touches. The way that she was cuddled up to her, or how her hand always found Penelope’s cheek and caressed it so gently, but she couldn’t help herself in focusing on how Josie planted herself on top of Penelope’s hips. In retrospect, she really didn’t know that she could summon that much self control, specifically when she knew that the two were in the perfect position for Penelope to steal a kiss. ‘What if I did kiss her?’ She shook herself out of it once she finished tying a secure knot with her bikini top. Penelope was already sluggish from sleep to begin with, she couldn’t let her thoughts slow her down even more.

 


 

 

Shortly after that, Penelope made her way downstairs, she turned the corner leading into the kitchen with a sigh. “I’m ignoring fifty-eight texts to be here with you. I mean, it’s probably from the groupchat but..” she drawled while she trudged over to the table, her eyes fixed on her phone while she read through the previews. Once she sat down and practically tossed her phone aside, Penelope’s lazy stare traveled up Josie’s body from her toes to her face.

Appreciation flickered behind emerald eyes while she picked up a grape and popped it into her mouth. She’d never felt so thankful for bikinis before. She also realized that this was the most skin that Josie ever exposed to her, which brought a coy smile to her face. The witch switched her focus to the food on the table and cleared her throat in attempt to be more chipper. “.. So, what do they serve for breakfast here in heaven?” Penelope picked up one of the breakfast tacos and inspected it closely before taking a tentative little bite from it.

“I’m not making you ignore them.” Quirking an eyebrow, she continued, “I’m more surprised that you’re not ignoring me.”

Her eyes danced between Penelope and the other girl’s phone. “You can respond to those, y’know.”

Another buzz from a message to a group message, this time the sender was Davina but all the witch did was shrug and continue eating. “Later maybe, but you’re missing my point, Saltzman. But it’s probably my shit wording.” Penelope reached for her phone and hit the switch on it to turn it onto silent to stop the occasional vibration. “I’m saying I’m cool with blowing them off ‘cause it’s you,” she spoke nonchalantly while poking through the fruit bowl until she found a slice of banana to eat. Her gaze stayed averted all the while, like the fruit in the bowl was the most interesting thing in the world. She was hoping that the response sounded offhanded, even if she meant it in the most sincere way possible. Saying things with intentions of being sweet and nothing but seemed to render Penelope close to bashful since it took her a moment to be able to meet the chocolate orbs watching her from across the table.

The clarification of the other struck a chord within Josie. It’d definitely gone over her head before but now that she had a clearer understanding, she couldn’t help but smile to herself. For a split moment, she always thought she felt…butterflies? Quickly mentally reprimanding herself, she ignored the fuzzy feeling in the pit of her stomach. There was no need to think more into it than was of face value.

“I – um, just meet me out back when you’re done.” And with that, Josie turned on her heel and exited the sldiing doors behind her.

 


 

 

“So? Am I really teaching you how to swim today?” Penelope asked as she walked outside onto the patio before making a run for it and cannon balling into the deep end. She stayed submerged for a second, then made her way over to the edge of the pool, where Josie allowed her feet to dangle.

A loud squeal escaped Josie at the sudden reappearance of her friend. “Don’t do that!” Using the railing to steady herself after her almost stumble, she reprimanded Penelope with a splash of her free hand. “Don’t be a show off, neither.” Josie scolded, though her tone was heavily playful. For the life of her, she couldn’t even float. It was actually a rather embarrassing thing to admit and she’d almost forgotten that was one of the things she’d told Penelope before. With a mild giggle, she eyed the other with an amused grin. “I doubt you’ll succeed in any aspect, not gonna lie but if you’re willing to teach, I’m willing to try.” Withdrawing her hold of the railing, Josie slid down into the pool, waded on her tipped-toes into the center of the pool where it gradually began to get deeper, but still shallow enough that she could safely feel the bottom. “So what’s first, Miss Park?”

“Floating. The first thing is floating. I’m sure you know the usual drill, just lie down on your back and relax. I gotcha.” The brunette brushed some hair out of her face before placing one tentative hand on Josie’s back, then another on the backs of her knees to prepare herself to support the other girl.

Josie followed the instructions given to her. It was both a scary and exciting thing but she trusted Penelope, despite feeling like she could possibly sink any given second if the girl were to move. “Are my feet supposed to be in the water or hovering above it?” Stretching her legs from their previous bent position, she tested the new placement, before bending them once more. The act wasn’t difficult in the slightest but it was mostly her paranoia – much like in every aspect of her life. And although the concept of human floating was still beside her, Josie decided to not over think for once and just do. There really was no need to make it much harder than it already was to begin with.

“Who taught you to swim? Did you take classes when you were younger? Or were you just naturally gifted like you are with everything else?” Brown orbs flickered from her hovering torso to Penelope and then back again.

Penelope giggled to herself when she was suddenly bombarded by questions and squeezed her eyes shut as a lighthearted way to show she was overwhelmed. Her hands moved along Josie’s form to push her body upwards and straighten her out, but still continued to brace the girl while she was floating. “Honestly, I have no idea where your feet should be. Just lay yourself out n’ go with whatever the water does to it– you’re on an island paradise, you hear the waves crashing and the birds flapping their wings above you. If you like piña coladas..” Taking advantage of the soothing tone she took up, she further exaggerated it in jest. “Naturally gifted at everything else? What the hell are you talking about…Well, anyways.. I wanted to learn when I was like, six years old, but I could never do it when my coven taught me. Then one day my dad shoved me straight into the deep end of the pool and I figured it out just like that.” With a careless shrug, her touch gradually left Josie’s body while she spoke until they were hovering a bit below her form, just in case the attempt was unsuccessful.

“You’re smart, artistically talented, beautiful, the list goes on…and now I get to add a great swimmer. Total package, huh? And you call me little Miss Perfect. It’s belittling, if I do say.” Josie punctuated her statement with a teasing wink. It felt good to be able to say what she wanted without hidden intentions nor having to watch her wording. Especially so because it certainly wasn’t a lie.

“He literally just threw you in? Really?” Her eyes widened at the mental image of that. “I’m soooo glad that you aren’t resorting to that tactic.” With a content smile, the younger girl’s eyes fell closed, taking in the sun and enjoying the feel of the cool water against her body. Today was seemingly certainly better than attending classes. It wasn’t until she felt the absence from her mid back that her eyes shot open. A surge of panic coursed through her, only to realize that she was actually floating on her own. It was the oddest feeling but in the strangest of ways, also satisfying. She was too afraid to maneuver herself so she just allowed the water to sway her about. Reaching out, she grabbed Penelope’s hand to encourage her to float along with her. “Guess we can add excellent teacher now too.”

The older girl would give anything to just sink underwater and hide herself. She was abundantly used to flirting, but it felt so foreign and different when it was her crush, that knew she had a crush on, that also had a crush on her as well– what an absolute train wreck– was blatantly flattering her. As much as she wanted to disagree with Josie, she really wasn’t in the mood to ruin the moment between them. Her words only made Josie all the more endearing, really. That was why dealing with Rafael’s presence and the ambiguity of everything was a minimal price to pay, she supposed. Because Josie caused as much turmoil in Penelope’s life as much as she did happiness. It made her dread what would become of their dynamic when this day was over and when they actually had to go back into their routines.

“… Shut up, JoJo.” Her cheeks began to tint into a pinkish hue in spite of her opposing feelings. “It’s hard to believe that you’re the same girl that called me out on being a lazy piece of shit that didn’t contribute to anything. Rolling your eyes whenever I said shit to you, almost beating me up in the hall that one time.. Now look at us.” she mused out loud while she held Josie’s hand loosely in her own, her eyes falling shut when she relaxed into the warmth of the sun shining down on them. Time really did change things between the two girls. After waiting for a few more seconds, she squeezed the hand in her own.

Her eyes lit up at the sight before her, biting her lower lip to prevent herself from smiling, but it broke through anyhow “Aw, you’re blushing!” Josie liked being able to have that effect on Penelope. It was a first, but she was hoping it wouldn’t be the last. “And hey! I resent that. All of it. Let’s not forget that you said I had a stick up my behind and treated me like a human doormat for months.” The witch gave the other a pointed, knowing glance. “But I wouldn’t change any of it. It was all of that, that got us here and frankly, I really like the turnout.” It wasn’t her most ideal situation, but she still liked the place they were in. Both girls were content and comfortable and that was more than enough for her.

Sitting up, she settled herself on the base of the pool to stand upright. Releasing her hair from it’s updo, she shook her hair out and tried to place herself back in the same position she had just been in moments prior. It took a few attempts but she was able to take the pointers she’d been given and do it on her own.

The embarrassment she was feeling quickly subsided upon hearing the sharp response. “Well now you’re just proving that I’ve been a douche from the get-go, huh?” Penelope retorted noncommittally, and even though she agreed that they wouldn’t be as good friends as they were, she still wished that she didn’t make such a terrible first impression on Josie. Under normal circumstances she wouldn’t care, but it still bewildered her as to how Josie came to the conclusion that she liked Penelope from where they began to this point in time– aside from her looks, which was the obvious. That was the only explainable part of it, really. It probably felt the same way for both girls since they were on opposite ends of the spectrum.

“Can I ask you something?”

“Que pasa, Mufasa?” From where she stood in the pool, Penelope could only squint up at Josie, arms crossed loosely beneath her chest.

Both Josie and Penelope knew that they hadn’t been the most fond of each other straight off the bat but she knew that was only due to them both judging each other before they actually got to know the other. She strongly believed in fate and destiny and liked to think everything fell into place how it should because now that they were much closer, Penelope definitely wasn’t who she thought her to be. When Penelope pretty much acknowledged her question, Josie took a second to ponder over what she wanted to ask. She really didn’t want to stir the conversation to a more serious side but it’d been bugging her since their previous topic earlier, regarding Penelope ignoring her friends for her.

“I know that we established that we’re fine but…Do you think that things are going to change a lot after today?” Of course she felt that she knew Penelope, at least she liked to think so but more often than not, she was hard to read and Josie also felt there was a lot that she didn’t know. Especially regarding where they stood, despite their talk the previous night. They’d been in their own bubble for the better part of a day but the thought of facing reality put her on edge a little.

“Probably,” Penelope answered without missing a beat while she swiped at the water to watch how the water droplets sprayed everywhere and the ripples that formed from them. Even if she wasn’t looking at Josie at this point with how the sun was shining right into her eyes, she heard the cautious way her voice sounded. “I think that things are gonna suck a lot after today. ‘Cause we have actual other shit we need to deal with– other shit that we can’t avoid anymore. Things’ll change, but who knows– it might be more for the better. My gut’s just saying otherwise. I’d rather deal with change than I would another fucking stalemate like these past few weeks..” She didn’t want to scare the other girl or hurt her feelings, but the rational– and a tad tactless–part of her surfaced the second that the question left Josie’s lips.

They were addressing it directly now. There was no real distraction to conveniently change the topic to since it was Josie who started the topic. “From my side of the table, it seems like you have more control over this shit show than I do. So no pressure– but honestly, pressure, ‘cause I’m cool with dealing with the hard shit to stay with you. I wanna know what you think too, but that’s just how I feel. But I can’t see into the future, neither of us can. I’m a pretty sick palm reader though– gimmie your hand?” Wading over to the other girl, she reached up with a hand outstretched to the other girl with a fond smile on her face.

A soft sigh fell from Josie’s as she averted her gaze to her feet dangling in the water. “A part of me was just hoping that you’d see something that I didn’t. A different outcome.”

Penelope was easily one of - if not, as of the recently, the most - the most important people in her life. She scoffed at the realization. How did they end up here? It honestly seemed the attempt they were making to maintain whatever status they now had was going to be far worse than not making any attempts at all. Running a nervous hand through her hair, she continued, “I don’t have control over anything. I don’t even have control of my own feelings but I do know that I care about you a lot. A hell of a lot and it just scares me to think that this…” She gestured between the two but chose to not finish her statement. “We both have - “ Josie quickly cut herself short again, not wanting to speak for the other girl.  “Well, I have an obligation now, and it just sucks that, that affects us.”

She was only half tuned into the conversation at this point, but enough to hand her hand to the other as she was requested to do. Her emotions were beginning to frustrate her but she took a deep breath before she could allow them to consume her. She mostly was afraid that Penelope’s feelings would change. Of course ultimately she knew that would have to happen, it was kind of their only option - still didn’t mean she had to like it. However, she chose to keep all her pressing thoughts at bay. If this was the most time she’d get with Penelope before things turned complicated, she wasn’t going to ruin it.

Penelope placed her hands on Josie’s knees while the other girl spoke. She had an inkling that one of them was going to have their feelings get the best of them if the atmosphere became too solemn. It was a little off-putting to see Josie stumble over her words so much, and even more confusing since it left her to try and fill in the blank. She couldn’t make any assumptions about anything, as ambiguous as it was, so she set aside her frustrations to focus on Josie. Penelope was the one that was sure of her feelings and knew what to do with them. Even if she wanted the other girl to just choose her, she couldn’t really say anything to her even if she tried. The look on Josie’s face said enough; she looked like she was tearing at the seams over so many things at once. It didn’t help that she had more to ask than she did to say. “I care about you a lot too.. I’ll leave that part of this conversation at that, yeah?” She decided to withhold anymore of her sentiments for what she hoped was the greater good once Josie’s hand was in her own. There was always the tomorrow, but it was hard to keep that in mind when she dreaded it so much.

Pressing on, Penelope ran her fingers over the lines of Josie’s palm. “So, this line means that you’re gonna live a long, healthy life..” After waiting a few beats, Penelope used her index finger and began to trace the other lines on Josie’s palm. “This one means you’re gonna have like, at least two kids or some shit. Or maybe it means you’re gonna be rich. Whatever.” Her shoulders rose and fell in a careless shrug before following an imaginary line along her skin with greater interest. “But this one.. means you need to chill out!” Penelope’s hand suddenly clamped down on Josie’s while her free arm wrapped around the other girl to yank her back into the pool with her, careful to keep her upright and above the water.

“You’re gonna be alright, everything’s gonna be alright for us both.” ‘We’ll be okay separately. Maybe not together,’ her mind chimed in ever so appropriately, but she swallowed it down just as it was on the tip of her tongue. Even if she was experiencing this much internal struggling, her voice managed to stay even and chipper. “Just.. we’ll both just rock with it together. Neither of us actually know what the fuck’s going on, like, ever. I don’t know how your ass is so nice, we don’t know how we ended up being friends, I don’t know what Calculus fucking is— but we’ll just deal with it and hope for the best. Okay?”

Being as insightful as she was, Josie had no choice but to trust Penelope. She didn’t agree with her but she trusted her. At least one of them were thinking positively. How had she managed to fall for a girl? No less than that, a girl that she couldn’t have? And even more absurd, a girl that she couldn’t have that also happened to be her best friend? Fucked up. She wasn’t one for obscenities but there was no other accurate way to classify it. Feelings were stupid.

Josie had no idea how chill Penelope could be with all of this.

“Just promise me that we’ll stay cool? I would hate to have to start experiencing withdrawals and resorting to bribery deals just to hang out with you because I’m really not above doing it.” A hint of a smirk made its way to her lips at her attempt to vanish the tension and resume their earlier banter.

Never in her time of being friends with Josie did she ever see her so.. wounded. Still, she knew better than anyone that there was no point in forcing Josie to feel better if she was feeling anything but. All she could do was try and make the girl feel better, which was a little strange since Penelope knew that there was no doubt she somehow contributed to the stress Josie was under. She’d do anything to just see the other girl happy at this point and it seemed like reason wasn’t much of a concern to Penelope, especially not after she pulled Josie in and pressed a tender kiss to the girl’s forehead. Hopefully the gesture conveyed enough to her. Words didn’t seem to have the best effect on Josie since the two of them were currently prone to overthinking. It didn’t stop how helpless she felt.

“.. We’re way cooler than cool. We’re gonna be ice cold.” Penelope winked and splashed water at Josie, most of it being aimed at the taller girl’s face. It was time for them to just make the most of today together.

Gliding over to the shorter girl, Josie hopped onto her back with much support from the free flow of the water, wrapping her arms loosely around her neck. 

Penelope quickly accommodated the other girl mounting her, her hands curving around Josie’s thighs while she began to wade around aimlessly. “Mmm, I was going to say it was time for lesson 2, but we can just do this too.” She responded, all too bubbly thanks to the way Josie’s chest pressed against her back. The smile on her face looked dreamy and borderline sleazy, but that indecent side of Penelope always won out in the end. It was only the physical realm of things that she was thinking about.

Emotionally, she found it to be so ridiculous that she felt this happy just wasting time away with nonsense talk and little banters with Josie. The intensified feelings were probably just a product of overindulging since they were separated for so long, but there was no way to describe how being with Josie felt aside from, simply put, nice.

Josie placed her chin into the crook of the older girl’s neck, nodding lightly. “Mhm, I like this.” She was more than content with foregoing her swimming lesson just to enjoy the feel of the other girl against her skin. Her legs hooked tighter around Penelope’s waist as they maneuvered through the water.

“Pretty weird how a girl with a big ass pool doesn’t know how to swim. And I’m starting to think that I’m rubbing off on you too– Josie Saltzman plays hooky. Sneaking me into your house at night n’ shit, grinding at parties.. and I didn’t think you could do it but you’re even sassier than before.”

The words instantly made her face hot, causing her to nuzzle her nose against the brunette’s neck. Josie really didn’t have a rebuttal for that. A lot of the things she went against, she never really thought about. Somehow they just happened. “What can I say? You bring something out of me.” Her voice was barely above a whisper, the tone of her voice a lot deeper than she intended it to be. “You say it like you don’t like the idea of tainting my good girl image.”

Penelope was wondering how long she could hold out before she would explode. They were as close together as a piggyback ride would need them to be, and here Josie was pressing her body flush against hers. She realized that she stopped moving all together. Josie was unintentionally demanding so much of her attention that she couldn’t even focus on the task at hand. Penelope wasn’t an animal that didn’t lack self control, however, she just wasn’t.. blind, deaf, numb, or an idiot. This felt like some sort of test of her patience for keeping things platonic between them that Penelope was barely passing. She wished that she could turn and look at Josie’s expression to see of the girl was aware of what she was doing, but then her face was buried into the sensitive skin of her neck and all Penelope was do was tilt her head to the side to give the girl some breathing room.

Biting her lip, Penelope continued to wade through the water with longer strides. Crushes were the worst thing ever if it meant that every little thing would be noticed by Penelope. Josie’s voice had to have gone down an octave or two, and the signature light rasp to her voice only made the words that left the other girl’s lips more sultry. Her mind was gone. “Uh… fuck, I mean, you're—I guess that’s thanks to me. Who doesn’t like a good girl gone bad, right?” Her arms squeezed Josie’s thighs. “But since you used the word ‘image,’ you sound a little.. is it just an image, then?”

Her breath hitched in her throat at the squeeze given to her legs, resulting her untangling herself from the girl and allowing herself to drift just a bit behind her. As cool as the water was, Penelope’s touch still seemed to light up her entire being. It was like playing with fire - literally. They both were. The action wasn’t sexual, by any means but it shot her mind to a place that she would rather not have ventured to. Clearing her throat, she doggy paddled around to be face to face with the other girl. The question caught her a bit off guard and it took her a little to ponder over her response but she still couldn’t come to a complete satisfactory answer.

“An image? As in a false portrayal? I have morals that I abide by, I have standards that I don’t tend to dip below and I believe that acting out and going against the grain for your own selfish entertainment isn’t needed. I wouldn’t call that an image, not something I’m upholding. It’s just me. Is your ‘bad girl’ persona an image?” Josie had always been a ‘goody-two-shoes’, as people so infamously dubbed her and she really didn’t disagree with the stereotype but she found herself not caring so much anymore with Penelope. She just wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing. She moved closer so that the two were barely inches apart. Her voice took on the same lower register that it had before. The previous effect it had hadn’t gone unnoticed by her, at all. “Unless you want me to not bend my rules for you?”

“I get what you’re saying. I mean.. I know I can be good if I tried, but my conduct grade’s always been shit since I was a kid when I don’t try, so I guess it isn’t an image.. but it is?” She wrinkled her nose at the recollection. “I was just wonderin’, kinda teasing you too to see what you’d.. say..” her mouth snapped shut when Josie moved closer to her, those chocolate brown orbs pulling her in before she stopped herself by freezing in place, their gazes locked. The look in Josie’s eye was enough to say that the other girl knew exactly what she was doing. “I mean, uh… I'm— is there even a right answer to that question?” The witch licked her lips and ran a hand through her hair, her gaze boring up at Josie expectantly.

Josie didn’t know what her intentions were. One second she wanted to remove herself from her feelings, the next she wanted to tempt Penelope as far as she possibly could, without actually tempting her? Did it make sense? No. Was it wrong? She was sure, but the rational part of her brain was choosing to not function properly it seemed. She wasn’t single; this wasn’t just something she could easily play with, but she found herself doing so anyhow. As she heard the slight stammer from the brunette, her head tilted to the side curiously, as an innocent smile formed on her lips. “Is that your method of avoiding the question?” Josie deflected her gaze towards the sun with an amused grin before returning her attention back to Penelope a second later. “You’re really cute when you’re all flustered, by the way.” Reaching down, she brushed a stray strand of hair behind the other girl’s ear, her fingers lingering a little longer than necessary. “It’s getting a little hot, right?” Her eyes averted to the sun once more, noting just how much prominent it was compared to when they first came out. “We should probably head back inside.”

“It’s my method of making sure I don’t say the wrong thing and fuck up,” Penelope answered sincerely, her voice low. Beneath the water, her toes curled and uncurled repeatedly as it was the only way that she could hide how uneasy she felt. She felt like she was going to get whiplash with how Josie was acting towards her. It was apparent that if Penelope were to take initiative in anything right now that she could overstep and ruin whatever moment the two of them were caught in. Both girls were aware of their feelings for one another and neither of them were at all over the other, so it was only natural that this much tension was between them. They were so close to kissing – if Penelope just leaned forward a little bit, then she’d have an outlet for all of her pent up desire. They both would.  There was much more going on beyond the surface of their current relationship if Josie wanted to flirt with Penelope as much as she didn’t. Biting her lip once Josie’s words reached her ears along with the gentle graze of fingers over her skin, all she could do was nod in response in spite of how she stayed planted in place.

 

 


 

Once back inside, a perfectly arched eyebrow quirked up at the older girl. Penelope had gotten noticeably quiet and it left Josie’s brain whirling because Penelope was typically the more talkative of the two. Was she being too forward? Had she made her uncomfortable? The brunette’s earlier words repeated in her head, ‘Making sure I don’t say the wrong thing and fuck up.’ Josie couldn’t possibly imagine what she would have possibly messed up. There was that damned overthinking again. Was Penelope afraid of hurting her feelings? Whatever it was, now wasn’t the time to dwell on it.

Penelope settled to sit down on the floor and faced the couch with her chin on her forearm while Josie took a seat on the couch beside her. She eyed Penelope’s other hand which was busy fiddling with one of her notebooks that’d been laying about. “This isn’t the one I looked through before, what’s in this one?”

A beat passed before she looked back down at the notebook, then crawled onto the couch to sit down beside Josie with the book on her lap. “May I?” She placed her hand on Josie’s thigh with her palm facing up and wiggled her fingers as a silent request to hold the other girl’s hand while she read through the titles listed on the first page – song titles.

Josie smiled warmly at the hand on her thigh, automatically knowing what Penelope was requesting and simply obliged. The gesture gave her a funny feeling in her stomach but she desperately was against giving it any attention - not even the fact that she liked it. There was no need to make it more than what it was. “I mean, yeah…. you can pretty much look at any of them, if you want.” Her nerves had easily subsided now that she somewhat put everything out there, so to speak, despite 95% of what Penelope was bound to see were about her. Lacing their fingers together, she adjusted her position so that now she could rest her head on the taller girl’s shoulder as they both peered down at the pages.

With a nod of acknowledgement, Penelope squeezed the hand in hers while she perused through the index reading through what songs were listed on what pages. As she turned the pages she tipped her head to the side until it was resting atop Josie’s. The dynamic was so natural and simple that Penelope didn’t find herself fretting over going overboard for very long. Glancing sneakily over at their linked hands, she hummed to herself with satisfaction. “Fuck, you doodle like you’re six,” Penelope blurted out the second that she turned to the page entitled “Daydreamin’,” with loud chortle. Immediately after her little remark she shut her mouth and squinted down at the song.

Reading through the first few stanzas made Penelope very doubtful about multiple songs in this book being written about her. After all, the pronouns were all switched to the opposite gender and the main idea that was factored in was that Penelope was so baffled by the fact that Josie’s feelings ran this deep. And if it were to be true, how could Penelope even convey that she reciprocated her feelings in an equally sweet gesture? “Simple in a good way. This one.. is.. adorable.” She wrinkled her nose. The word left Penelope feeling uncomfortable since she rarely used the word in this context, but it was the most appropriate word she could find. She then read through the latter half of the song out loud, amusement clear in her voice all the way until the end. It was appropriate that she visualized Josie while she recited the lyrics, since the song was apparently written with Penelope in the younger girl’s mind. “Wanna sing it for me? For any prize of your choice?”

Josie was still unsure about a lot of things, mostly if pretty much putting her thoughts out there - even via paper - was the most effective thing she could have done. Josie knew that it was better that they didn’t have secrets between them but it didn’t diminish her apprehension. But instead of commenting, she simply smiled, choosing to ignore the continuous taut feeling in the pit of her stomach. Leaning further into Penelope, Josie rested her free hand on top of their intertwined hands, a thoughtful expression on her face. It wasn’t deniable that quite a few pleasantly unpleasant thoughts came to mind at the other’s offer. It didn’t make it any better that she was actually considering them, either. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing, though since it did sway her decision. “I’ll sing for you.”

The brunette pulled away only slightly so that she could be eye to eye with Penelope, but she didn’t retrieve her hand from her grasp. Her eyes searched the ones staring back at her. For what? She wasn’t sure. Hesitance, maybe, or even resignation. Gulping, a sense of uncertainly washed over her entire being for what she was about to ask, but she did so anyways. She said any prize, right?

“Kiss me.” There was an evident tremor in her words but her gaze didn’t falter. All coherent thoughts had dissolved and she was sure she was way out of line, especially regarding certain factors but as of now, she had a one track mind. Her gaze dipped lower to settle on Penelope’s lips, licking her own instinctively.

The only thing going through Penelope’s mind was What. The. Fuck?

Chapter Text

At first Penelope thought that the command was the title of a song to turn to, so her gaze flickered over to the book once more before it flew back over to Josie with mild shock as the other girl continued speaking. “Okay. Is this ‘cause my tits are out?” Penelope inquired lightheartedly. Humor was her go-to method of not letting her nerves get the best of her, and it served its purpose this time around despite the way that Josie’s words managed to make her feel her heart pound at the request. All of a sudden she remembered something about boundaries, something about monogamy, and something about them changing and she realized that this was going to be the starting point of whatever was going to happen to them. Did this same thought not occur to Josie? It took all she had not to ask what the other girl was thinking to randomly be okay with asking Penelope to kiss her.

“We both want it. It doesn’t have to mean anything, just - just get it out of systems, right?” The words were more internal than projected and Josie was sure she was trying to convince herself more than the other.

Green eyes pierced through brown while Penelope tilted her head until her forehead bumped against Josie’s gently, the smile on her face inviting and ever so calm despite the sirens going off in her head. After this kiss, what would become of everything? ‘Who cares?’ The fact that they both wanted it was enough for her. She didn’t even want to think about anything else or anyone else, but then an image of Rafael’s face flashed through her mind and she bit her lip. In all honesty, if it was for Josie, the brunette wasn’t beyond homewrecking. Penelope didn’t chance thinking about him any further since she feared that the other girl would somehow read her mind and take back her advances. Instead she simply resumed leaning in at a sluggish pace so that she could give Josie as many chances as she wanted to back out of it.

It wasn’t that she expected a heated kiss, or any urgency within it but the unmistakable way that Penelope held back made her regret saying anything.  Every negative thought infiltrated her mind and she despised herself for even going there with Penelope. “Y-you don’t want to.” She finalized, withdrawing her gaze and looking at anything else but the girl beside her. There was a flash of disappointment displayed across her features but she couldn’t really blame Penelope for being hesitant.  “I’m sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking….I guess I wasn’t.” A bitter laugh punctuated her comment, appalled at her own stupidity.  She was never one to act on impulse and now she was doing just that, finding herself stuck between her morals and her desires.  This was exactly why she chose to distance herself before. Typically, Josie was very good at self-control but it was like with Penelope, she didn’t even know the first meaning of it. Josie moved away slightly to create a bit of distance between the two, not trusting herself to not delve into that realm of her brain again. “So about that song, yeah?”

It was hard to recover from her advanced being dodged so abruptly. She furrowed her brows when she heard what the other girl said while she sat back in her place. There seemed to be a miscommunication that Penelope knew she couldn’t leave to stand alone in Josie’s head without the girl’s clarification. Her grip on Josie’s hand tightened. “I’ve been wanting to kiss you since you were on my lap this morning and the only two things that were stopping me were my fucking morning breath and the fact that you got up off the bed,” Penelope interjected hotly, refusing to move to another topic now that there was a massive elephant in the room. She needed to make her feelings clear and this was a fairly good opportunity to. “I literally– I could list off all the times I thought about just going for it but then you look like that,” The brunette motioned to the solemn look on Josie’s face in reference to how conflicted she appeared to be. “I feel like I can’t fucking do anything right now because I don’t know what you’re okay with, and I’m okay with everything.” ‘I’ll take what I can get,’ she admitted to herself albeit a little pathetically. She didn’t want to keep explaining herself or include any superfluous details that would add even more to flame.

There were those stupid butterflies again. Penelope was so sincere and that just made things all the more confusing for the her. “You really shouldn’t say things like that.” She laughed with a shake of her head but in all honesty, she didn’t mind it. Not at all but it didn’t exactly assist with her internal battle. Her head was a mess, and her heart was even worse. ”I’m not trying to put you through the wringer here. I’m really not…We both know this will never work and I think we’re just torturing ourselves. We’d rather experience something rather than nothing so why not just get it over with?” It made sense in her head – to a certain extent - and was probably the only excuse that gave her a reason to do what she did. Josie took the hand that she disentangled and brought it to rest against Penelope’s cheek as she leaned in. Her eyes stayed trained on the emerald ones staring back at her before they unwillingly fluttered closed as she brought their lips together in a sensual kiss.

Penelope didn’t need any reasoning for such a thing— it was the furthest thing from her mind. She licked her own lips in anticipation while she watched Josie’s approach, her gaze only meeting Josie’s just before her eyes closed. Plump lips were finally, finally on hers and she returned the kiss just enough so she wouldn’t overwhelm to other girl for being too enthusiastic about what they were doing. In all honesty, her heart soared. Even if the mood felt just a tiny bit melancholy, she felt sated. It only strengthened her sentiment that putting herself out there for the other girl really was worth all the heartache. She tried to be tender and chaste for Josie, but she knew by the way that the light pressure on her lips already made her arms feel tingly that it was an uphill battle. Any hesitance or general thoughts she had about kissing Josie seemed to dissipate all together— her body was on auto-pilot. Slowly, she brought her free hand up to cup Josie’s nape and keep her close, her fingers playing with the small hairs at the base of the other girl’s neck. Shifting closer to the younger girl, she moved her lips against Josie’s slowly.

Instant goose bumps coated the girl’s skin as Penelope shifted closer to her. Actually, Josie didn’t know if it was the close proximity of the witch, the hand holding her close or the fact that this was actually happening – she was sure it was all of the above. Not that her mind was able to compute much other than the lips pressed firmly against her own. She hummed contently into the kiss as their lips moved in perfect sync with one another. She’d wanted to do this for so long – in a sober state of mind, of course – and now that she had a taste of what she’d been craving, the brunette wasn’t willing to give it up so easily. Her lips parted to enclose Penelope’s bottom lip between her own as she tilted her head to deepen the kiss but she instantly stopped herself and pulled away a moment later. Not because she wanted to but because she knew she had to; she was getting way too ahead of herself.

The heated way that Josie captured her bottom lip between hers didn’t go unnoticed by Penelope. It made her breath hitch in her throat and provoked a surge of want to course through her. The way that they were engaged in the kiss made it undoubtable that they both wanted more out of it. But before she could take charge and deepen the kiss, she felt the pressure of lips against hers leave.

Soon the other girl was withdrawn and she was practically glaring at Josie for cutting things off so quickly even if she understood why the other girl might’ve pulled away. It then registered that they really couldn’t go beyond this point unless they both disregarded their hindrances, so her gaze softened and she let out a disappointed little whine. 

Even if there was the chance that Josie didn’t want to lock lips with her anymore, she still wanted to take advantage of the moment the best she could and maneuvered both of her hands to the other girl’s cheeks. “You like me,” she sing-songed before stealing several little pecks from the girl. The kisses were gentle and full of affection that she’d been bottling up since she came to terms with her feelings. Feelings, rather than the lust-driven way that she handled other girls just to sleep with them. It was different for Penelope to kiss someone without being sloppy and careless, but it came to Penelope in such a natural way that she wasn’t bothered at all. She was practically cradling the other girl’s face in her hands, like the fragility of their relationship was tangible.

So many emotions were enveloping Josie all at once but the only one that mattered was the way that Penelope made her feel. It was indescribable and left her still reeling from the kiss, in the utmost positive way. For a second, everything almost didn’t feel real so she blinked her eyes a few times just to be sure. “I like you.” She confirmed with so much certainty that it actually surprised her. Josie placed one hand on the sofa to balance herself while her other rested on Penelope’s hip, giving it a slight squeeze.

Her hand then snaked around to rest against Penelope’s back, pulling her closer and effectively pressing herself further into her. Even though her mind was screaming the complete opposite of what she wanted, she wasn’t sure if she’d ever have this chance again so she wanted to take complete advantage of it. Josie brushed their lips ever so slightly but didn’t make a move to close the distance.

There was a certain fuzziness that Penelope felt all over from how giddy she felt after hearing Josie profess how much she liked her without sounding so sad about it. It all felt so surreal to her once she was pulled back in and once she gazed into Josie’s eyes, she was able to deduce that the other girl’s mood completed shifted into something else. She licked her lips in anticipation, completely unaware of just how intensely she watched the other girl.

Then lips were on hers with a sort of fervor that she never imagined Josie to have eliciting a satisfied hum from the brunette. She responded with just as much zeal and gave into the satisfaction of how – she hated the lack of a better word – perfectly their lips melded together. She’d eventually become so absorbed in the kiss that she pulled Josie onto her lap until the other girl was straddling her, then slid her hands up to the other girl’s hips to keep her stable. The change in position brought a smile to her face and she ran her tongue along the other girl’s lower lip to deepen the kiss. Penelope was too far gone to even consider if Josie still had boundaries.

It pleasantly surprised Josie that Penelope wasn’t holding back. Any other time Josie probably would have protested but she really didn’t care to do so, nor did she want to. Her arms instinctively wrapped around Penelope’s neck as she allowed the smaller girl entrance, their tongues instantly colliding. A light moan escaped her as she tilted her head to deepen the kiss. Somehow things felt…right. She kissed other people before but nothing compared to how she felt in that very moment. She so desperately wanted to put it down to pure attraction and nothing more but she was attracted to her boyfriend as well and there certainly was no comparison there.

‘Boyfriend.’ The word repeated again and again in her head. Guilt immediately washed over her but just as soon as the feeling was there, it was gone. She really didn’t know if she needed to be relieved or concerned about that fact. Before she could psych herself out, Josie turned off her thoughts and instead focused on the girl beneath her that was invading every one of her senses. Sucking Penelope’s tongue into her mouth, she elicited another moan as she tangled her fingers into dark locks and pulled her closer.

Penelope was pouring every ounce of passion she felt for the other girl into the kiss, but for once she felt like she couldn’t keep up. She shouldn’t have drawn such a pure image of Josie, not with the lewd noises leaving her and how she very enthusiastically welcomed Penelope’s tongue into her mouth. Every sound that she managed to catch shot little sparks down her spine that fueled her drive. She was so enamored by Josie and every little thing the girl did in the moment. Nothing else mattered.

Wandering hands roamed over Josie’s curves until coming to stop just below the other girl’s chest. Her tongue moved against the witch’s sensually, exploring her mouth with more fervor until she had to pull away to catch her breath.

Locking lips with Josie wasn’t particularly energy-consuming, but Penelope’s chest was still heaving while she stared at the girl on her lap. “Fuck,” she husked with a grunt as she pulled Josie flush against her. Ignoring the way that her body protested while it was recovering from the intense kiss, her lips found the underside of Josie’s jaw and began to press hot, wet kisses along it until she continued down the column of the other girl’s neck. It shocked her how this was the effect that she had on the younger girl, how this was a side of Josie that was reserved for Penelope and vice-versa. She felt possessive. With nothing but white noise occupying her mind her lips latched onto a patch of skin at the base of Josie’s neck and she began to suck on it lightly.

“Pe-Pen-” Craning her neck to allow the girl access, Josie’s eyes fluttered shut at the feeling taking over. Now she understood why it was so easy to get girls to give in to her - aside from her charm - it was honestly hard not to. She kept trying to tell herself that if things went too far, she’d be able to stop herself but now she wasn’t so sure of herself.

“Pen-Penel-.” She tried again, “Mm, shit.”

Her hips subconsciously bucked against the older girl’s as Penelope found a ‘sweet’ spot for her and that’s when Josie knew that they had to stop. “Penelope.” She whimpered, though she was glad that she was finally able to form more than one syllable. Placing one hand on the girl’s shoulder, Josie pulled away to stare into green orbs. “We have to stop.” The verbal reiteration of her thoughts stirred a slight frustration within her, even though she knew she didn’t really have a choice. An irritated sigh fell from her lips as she buried her face into the other’s neck then placed a gentle kiss against her pulse point. “You’re not mad, right?”

Barely. She barely left a mark on the marred skin in front of her. At least that’s what it looked like in this lighting, the girl thought while she zeroed in on the patch of skin in front of her. That was the only thing that was at the front of her brain, aside from the way that Josie’s hips moved on top of hers, and the burning that came from the pit of her stomach when Penelope ground her hips against the other girl’s in return. The question made her flash a lopsided smile, her thoughts clearly elsewhere. “I don’t know yet, I’m still turned on,” she answered in a bit of a daze while she snaked her arms around Josie’s midriff, her embrace loose and instinctive.

Penelope hoped that the amount of time she took to recover would make Josie forget that she asked the question in the first place, because from crestfallen all the way to positively elated, she felt like she was experiencing the entire spectrum from both extremes. Conveying such a thing would be difficult without making things messier, as worth it as it was. ‘Rafael.’ There was also the strong possibility that this first kiss between them would be the last one; the fact that Penelope would go through it again despite such an outcome shook the girl to the core. The physical effects of her feelings made her see just how emotionally invested in Josie she was. She ignored how her brain was bombarding her with questions by resting her head against Josie’s. “How ‘bout you? How you feeling?”

“I’m…okay.” There really wasn’t any accurate word that she could think of that described how she felt. “Not mad at all but can’t exactly say I’m happy either.” With a shrug of her shoulders, Josie pulled away so that she could fully see Penelope now. It was hard to accept the fact that this was only a one time thing. Something for each of them to benefit from which would only be a stepping stone to getting over one another.

Given she knew that, it was her fault they were here but it didn’t stop the constant negative feelings developing inside her. Especially knowing that it probably didn’t mean as much to Penelope and tomorrow some other girl would most likely be in her exact position. She sighed as she thought over how messed up their situation was.

“Thank you.” She spoke after a moment. Josie didn’t exactly know what she was thanking her for, but somehow it sounded fitting. Sighing, she rolled her eyes behind closed eyelids before opening them once more. “That sounded like a ‘good job’ or something. I just mean, for being you…for being here, for doing this.” Josie knew she wasn’t a charity project but she also knew that although she was having her internal debates, the older girl most likely was as well.

The older girl arched a brow at the other girl’s words. Was she jumping to conclusions, or did those words contain the finality that Penelope had been dreading since when Josie first asked her to kiss her? If it was, Penelope wasn’t willing to accept it at all. She couldn’t outright just tell Josie to choose her over Raf either; the amount of turmoil the other girl was going through was enough to make her refrain from doing so. “Thanks too, I guess.. that was one of the best bad ideas ever.” With an earnest smile, she brushed Josie’s hair over one of her shoulders to poke at the small hickey left behind. A smirk grew upon her face. The witch felt rather smug over its presence. She could at least pretend that she one-upped him for now.

Her mind was preoccupied with her own thoughts to even focus on what Penelope was doing but then she finally got an inkling as she felt a light soreness once the girl’s finger was removed. Chocolate orbs bugged widely, her hand immediately reaching up to touch where Penelope’s had been a moment prior. “You didn’t.” She stated, bewildered. Josie tried to keep any anger out of her voice because that wasn’t the case at all but she didn’t know how she’d explain that if Justin saw. “Is it bad? It’s not bad, right?” Her hand continued to rub back and forth against the spot, trying to gauge for herself just how bad it was but eventually gave up. It was something she could deal with later if the problem arose. “I should so make you pay for that.”

Shrugging, she couldn’t really bring herself to meet Josie’s gaze though, out of fear that the other girl would see right through her and what she was thinking about. There was no way that she could get over Josie anytime soon after this, it felt like everything was only magnified for her. As much as she tried to rationalize her thoughts to smother what she felt, Penelope came to accept that her feelings for the other girl ran deep and that fighting it was useless at this point, just like Josie said. Tightening her embrace around the other girl, she chuckled and blew a raspberry against the other girl’s cheek. “So you weren’t saying good job? Real talk though, I didn’t do a good job? ‘Cuz.. ” Penelope cracked a mischievous grin and immediately started to mimic the other girl’s previous moans with exaggerated, comical facial expressions.

Josie shot a questioning eyebrow at her. Psh, as if she didn’t give her a bigger ego. Josie knew by now she was blushing. Deeply. “You know what? Nope. You sucked. I was trying to not bruise your ego. An act, if you will. Sure you’re used to that.” Her tone was heavily sarcastic, holding a smirk all the while.

Penelope promptly stopped her teasing and gave the other girl a blank stare upon hearing her haughty answer, a single brow raising as if she’d just been challenged. She scrutinized the other with her strong gaze, a look that said ‘really?’ on her face while she cupped the younger girl’s cheek and stroked over where the red tint was brightest.

“Oh, so you stopped me ‘cuz it sucked so much. You’d rather go watch paint dry, read a book or some shit, huh?” With a nonchalant shrug of her shoulders, the older girl wriggled beneath Josie. Playing along, she gave an understanding nod while her fingers trailed down to gently curl around the other witch’s chin while she thumbed over Josie’s lower lip with a growing smile as she recalled how they felt against her own. “Well– that sucks, ‘cause I was really into it.” Her hand dropped back down to the couch with a loud thump and she snickered quietly to herself.

As if Penelope needed her to tell her, it was obvious her body had done enough telling of its own. Before she knew what she was doing, she leaned forward preparing to meet Penelope half way for another kiss, her mind on auto pilot but instead was taken aback by the girl removing her hand altogether. Chocolate eyes fluttered open, zeroing in on Penelope’s face. Why was she such a tease? Not wanting to be the only one on the outs, Josie moved forward to rest her head on the other’s shoulder, her hips slowly rolling into Penelope’s. Once, and then twice. Tan hands traveled along the Witch’s arms until she was able to reach her hands, intertwining them together. “Don’t pretend you don’t know what you do to me.” Her words were barely above a whisper as she flicked her tongue against the bottom of the shorter brunette’s earlobe before tugging on the soft skin of it. With a satisfied smirk, she rolled off the girl and moved to lean against the armrest on the opposite side of the couch. “You’re right, it was fun.” The brunette commented in a aloof-like manner. She wasn’t too sure where her confidence conjured up from but she didn’t question it.

“Alright— I’m an asshole, but that shit right there.. that’s just cruel.” Penelope shot the other an exasperated look while she allowed her nerves to settle. Her body language had changed all at once after the younger girl dismounted her. The older girl looked like she was going to pounce. Moving closer to her, she placed one hand on Josie’s lower inner thigh while she leaned forward just enough to draw attention to her chest, then applied minimal force until she could fit herself between Josie’s legs while on all fours. With a flirtatious little flutter of her eyelids, she closed the distance between them with a chaste kiss, the hand on Josie’s leg beginning to massage her inner thigh while it was still there. When she broke away she pressed her lips to Josie’s neck. As her heated kisses descended along the other girl’s neck, her hand crept up along her thigh, squeezing and caressing with the occasional appreciative hum until everything came to an entire halt when she knew she might be crossing an entirely different line. “Don’t play a game you’re gonna lose. But I think you actually want to lose, don’t you?” She taunted while she removed her touch all at once. Then as if she hadn’t done or said anything, Penelope pecked Josie’s cheek with a toothy smile and stood up off of the couch, stretching her arms above her head with a groan. “Leftover pizza sounds good right now, don’t you think?”

Of course Josie had kissed boys before, even as far as making out but there hadn’t ever been anything to this extent. The way that Penelope completely made her question everything she thought before today was enough to scare the hell out of her. Josie often made sure she never delved into that realm of things but today she’d let her guard down completely despite what her mind was telling her and she wasn’t wholeheartedly sure if she even wanted Penelope to stop or not. Before she had time to give in or protest, the other girl was up and away from her, leaving her mind spinning. The only thing she could focus on was Penelope’s rhetorical question beforehand…to be honest, Josie didn’t even have an answer for it. Standing up too, she feigned unfazed and walked ahead of the other girl and into the kitchen. The brunette really didn’t trust herself to speak. Her throat was dry and she felt like her knees were weak but she kept her composure as best as she could.

“You have a weird look on your face, Saltzman, you good?” She observed aloud with a lazy arch of her brow and crossed arms, trying to appear nonchalant. Penelope had more questions for the other witch than ever. Had she gone too far, or did she tease too much that it ruined the mood? Was their time for kissing over forever once they got off the couch? What even pushed her– or both girls for that matter— over the edge in the first place?

Josie nodded once and placed two slices on a plate for Penelope. She wasn’t too hungry, at least not when her thoughts were on everything else but eating. After placing the plate into the microwave, the brunette hopped onto the counter staring at the countdown so she could stop it before it reached zero; it was a serious pet peeve of hers. Her glance was only broken away momentarily when Penelope filled the silence before she zoned back in on the descending numbers. “Yeah, I’m good.” Josie reassured her with a slight shrug. It wasn’t entirely a lie. It’s not that she wasn’t good - she was great, actually, she was just also a number of other things at that moment. “Are you good?” Deciding to take the attention off herself, she flipped the question back onto the other even though she had no reason to. She knew there definitely weren’t any complaints on Penelope’s side, she’d made that clear beforehand. “Other than being sexually frustrated now.” With a smirk, she hopped off the counter and retrieved the plate just as the timer got to two seconds. “Sorry if it’s too hot.” Handing the plate to the shorter girl, she took her previous placement on top of the counter.

Penelope looked at Josie through watchful eyes, smiling to herself when she took note of the brunette’s little idiosyncrasies and features she didn’t pay attention to before. Josie had such pretty and soft lips, and now that she knew that they felt like against hers it took some effort to lift her gaze up to politely be at eye level with the younger girl. “I wonder whose fault that is.. I’ll figure out what to do with all of it later. I’m pretty good otherwise.. eh, honestly, I’m just right below fucking fantastic.” She still shot the other a playfully bemused look with a roll of her eyes despite the ‘thanks’ she said after receiving the plate.

“Pen, can you tell me what you’re thinking?” Josie knew that most likely once Penelope left, they wouldn’t discuss it again so she wasn’t going to chance a wasted opportunity.

Penelope studied Josie’s expression as if doing so would help her piece together what the other girl could be thinking. Even though it may have been a bad idea, Penelope wiped her greasy hands on a nearby towel and reached out to take the younger girl’s hand in hers. There was no doubt that Penelope was far more affectionate and touchy than the average person, but was she always this clingy? She kept her gaze fixed on the microwave while she chewed on her pizza while she collected herself, contemplating whether or not to really acquiesce to the request. Then again, such an opportunity to delve into it out loud was unlikely to come by again, so she was willing to do so. It was quite unnerving to see herself be so willing and vulnerable for Josie.

The older of the two kept her gaze trained on their hands. She knew that she’d end up wanting to sugarcoat things if she read Josie’s expression. “I’m thinking that I really like you. I’m doubting that you’re a virgin, cause, y’know, woah. Now I’m thinking about kissing you— I haven’t stopped, actually— again but that I can’t ‘cause I have pizza breath now, but on top of that shitstorm I don’t know if that was the last chance. I don’t want it to be the last time, but I get why it would be. Now I’m thinking that that’s as far as I’m willing to go.” The words came out in a steady stream, honest and without any lengthy pauses. When she was finished she looked at Josie like she was asking if the other girl was satisfied while she bit a large chunk out of her crust. Any further made it a dangerous, volatile thing to play with considering that Penelope hasn’t had the time to be sure about anything else.

Although Penelope refused to look at her, Josie couldn’t do anything but keep her gaze fixated on the girl in front of her. Her curiosity was slowly growing, anticipating what Penelope would say. On one hand, she wanted to know, on the other, she thought it was best that she didn’t but then the green-eyed Witch was responding before she had a chance to dismiss her question. Josie didn’t know whether to smile, roll her eyes, kiss Penelope or all of the above. Each statement respectively would have earned her those. However, Josie chose to just smile with a slight nod of her head. Everything was still new, she knew that, but the older girl’s words were enough for her to ease her worries regarding where things would head. She could just see how things went as time progressed. Penelope didn’t seem put off by their make out session, it didn’t seem it would make the girl distant and although she stated that she pretty much wouldn’t want it to be a one time thing, the younger girl was glad for the respect Penelope had of boundaries.

Now that she thought things over, maybe she shouldn’t have kissed Penelope but it was like all restraint was non existent. Just to know what it felt like to kiss the girl opposite her made it all worth it but there was still that guilt trip nagging in the back of her mind. She’d barely thought about her boyfriend once and even now, having Penelope tell her all of what she did didn’t diminish the blurred lines between the two. Just as she opened her mouth to speak, there was the sound of the doorbell.

Josie quickly excused herself to answer it but was surprised to find Rafael at the door.

“Hey baby.” He greeted her quickly and began to babble on about trying to reach her phone all day.

“…so I just wanted to make sure that everything was okay. I was worried.”

There was that guilt again.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She reassured him. He gave her a once over and seemed to accept that everything was okay but then he was walking past her, making his way into the kitchen before she could stop him.

He stopped when his eyes landed on Penelope and then back on Josie with a pensive expression.

“I didn’t know you had company.”

“Sorry, we had a girl’s day and I left my phone upstairs… but Penelope was just - erm, leaving.” The taller girl nervously scratched the back of her neck in an attempt to sweep her hair over the love bruise, as she sent the other girl an apologetic smile.

Penelope felt as though she’d been sucker-punched then body slammed by a bear— or maybe that was just the weight of reality that crushed her in the form of a teenage boy. Did she have to be torn away from her escape from reality so soon? The remains of her second slice remained untouched while she crossed her arms over her chest while her gaze locked with his. Green eyes suddenly held the same pleasant mockery they had when she was acting defiant in school while she eyed him, like a sharp insult was just on the tip of her tongue but the look on her face was enough to send the message that she wasn’t very fond of him just yet, if at all.

Did Josie really just..? Wow. “Well fuck me sideways, I lost track of time.” She drawled with a hand through her hair and roll of her eyes. Stepping closer to the couple, she pulled Josie in a careless one-armed hug before pulling away to walk past them.

She didn’t even spare Josie a glance when she made her exit. Penelope didn’t know who she was more upset with; Rafael, Josie or herself. The witch was always good at maintaining her composure when it came to situations like this– it was like the walk of shame to the principal’s office that she had to take on a weekly basis. With slow and deliberate steps, she made her way up the stairs while numerous thoughts flooded her mind. Once she was in the other girl’s room she took her time to gather her belongings and place them into her bag, but stopped to sit down on the younger girl’s bed while she assessed the situation. If she were in Josie’s shoes, she’d probably be acting the same exact way, but did Josie’s feelings for Raf run as deep as they did for Penelope? What was the guy even doing here? Something coiled in her stomach and she couldn’t even imagine what the rest of Josie’s day would entail when she was alone with him.

There was also the fact that Josie just cheated on him with her. She wondered if that made Penelope’s current position better or worse. She picked up her phone and responded to any and every text she received to split her attention and ease how tense she felt. She couldn’t just expect Josie to fall into her arms right after making out once, so she didn’t know why she felt so hurt by how things played out. “Dumbshit,” she muttered to herself and snorted. Fingers tapped away at the screen to create half-assed replies to messages. The day was still young– maybe she could find a distraction with Kaleb and her friends. Or maybe she needed to be by herself and think about what she needed to do, like she’d been planning all along. It still felt as though her mind was in several places at once. In the end, Rafael was the boyfriend and Penelope was the….nothing.

There had to be more to it than that.

The thought of there being sides had never crossed the Josie’s mind until now. Now that Rafel had come and interrupted whatever world the two girls had been in, she realized that there really was no ‘world’ for them to be in. Raf was her boyfriend, Penelope was her friend. ‘Boyfriend. Friend.” She repeated constantly in her head. There had to be an establishment of some sort of line somewhere. Josie couldn’t deny that she was a bit disheartened that Penelope was leaving. It was her fault but it didn’t mean she liked it. Was it normal to want to spend more time with your best friend than your boyfriend? She was sure it was, and that sort of made her feel a bit better considering that was actually what she wanted to do. But she couldn’t. Part of her knew that she should follow Penelope. The immediate mood change from the other hadn’t been subtle at all. More times than not Penelope was hard to read but then again, sometimes she wore her emotions like a billboard. However, she fought everything in her and stayed rooted in place, forcing small talk with the raven-haired boy beside her, pretending to be interested.

After a few more minutes, Josie decided to pull herself from the conversation. It’s not that she hadn’t wanted to catch up with him, she had. For as long as she’d known him - which wasn’t long at all - the two spent nearly their entire time texting or talking or hanging out when they could and since she’d managed to throw that off, it was sort of refreshing to get back to routine. He didn’t seem suspicious of anything and chatted about this, that and third but her mind was preoccupied by a different brunette. Excusing herself from him this time, she made her way up the stairs and entered her bedroom.

“Hey.” She spoke softly, careful to not startle the other. “I wanted to see if you needed help.” It wasn’t the truth, it’s not like the girl had stayed for days, but she figured she’d gauge if Penelope was in the mood to talk to her at all. “I didn’t know he was coming over…” Her sentence trailed off uneasily as she moved to sit on the bed as well.

When the bed dipped to hold Josie’s weight, Penelope stood up and moved down to the other end of the bed, then placed her bag beside her to make sure the distance between them was hard to breach. She leaned back against the headboard with a faraway look on her face. As irrational as it was, she knew that any touch from the younger would feel like pity— and pity stung, pity irritated her like no other.

Josie shot Penelope a perplexed look at the obvious distance placed between the two. ‘Wow, okay.’ Getting the hint, the witch placed her hands in her lap so that she wouldn’t be tempted to do anything. The undeniable way that the older girl’s demeanor completely changed made Josie question if everything she’d said before still held true. It was hard to decipher if Penelope was just upset or more so uncomfortable but she couldn’t bother with questioning it. It’d probably only make things worse. “I wasn’t trying to kick you out. I just panicked a little.” Or a lot. Having the two in the same proximity of each other gave her heart palpitations and the first thing she thought to do was to eliminate the situation by any means necessary. The manner in which she’d gone about it wasn’t the best judgment call but it was all she had in that moment.

“Yeah, had a feeling when you pulled that lie outta your ass. Put something on the hickey while you’re up here,” she spoke at a volume in which only the two of them could hear while she toyed with her phone. It really was a little strange to linger around, and it was even more off-putting to see Josie follow her upstairs. She knew her presence would only make things weirder if she stayed any longer. “But nope, I’m good. I’m just waiting on a text back from Kaleb, see if I’m headed home or out. Don’t worry, won’t be around much longer.”

“Don’t be like that.”

Penelope reigned all of her frustrations in and felt her expression soften into a neutral state. It took so much for her to remember that Josie’s lie was a fair move. Still, she wished that it was enough to convince the younger witch to choose her. She was aware of how sensitive Josie was to the emotions around her, so she knew it was better to downplay them on the surface. She also knew that she promised she’d be more tolerant of Rafael’s presence, she just didn’t specify when she would be. Lastly, she wondered how far she was willing to go just to stay in Josie’s favor.

“It’s gonna take me a while to get used to him. Longer than I thought. He pisses me off, but I’ll try for you. Not him.” Sharing her sentiments might actually get them somewhere to ease Josie even though she felt a little lightheaded from the whirlwind of events and feelings that bombarded them. Putting the other girl first would help her set aside her own thoughts to think everything through. Maybe she wouldn’t get around to thinking at all today. She silently prayed that her phone would go off with a text notification from someone any second now. Staring at her phone’s blank screen was starting to get tiring.

Pushing herself up from the bed, the taller girl made her way over to her vanity and began rummaging through her make up. Penelope was right, she probably did need to hide her mark before going back. Once she found what she was looking for, Josie began to examine the faint bruise in the mirror. It wasn’t dark, nor big, but it was still noticeable. As she unscrewed the lid from her foundation, she began dabbing the liquid into place, listening to Penelope all the while. Brown orbs flickered to the girl through the mirror and then back to the task at hand, “I don’t want you to not like him because of me, but I also don’t want you to like him because of me, either. Would I want you two to get along? Sure, but don’t force yourself.” Her eyes met Penelope’s briefly before she turned around altogether and made her way back over to the bed once she was satisfied with the cover up.

The older girl snorted under her breath and stopped herself from rolling her eyes. As black and white as it appeared to be with words, Penelope knew it was easier said than done. She just hoped that the other girl understood her perspective. Penelope liked to think that she was being reasonable. “Yeah, no, i get it. I mean, one choice keeps you around. The other just makes things harder for us both.” She looked down at her nails and began to chip away at her nail polish out of nervous habit. Her phone still didn’t light up. Everyone seemed to be responding to her at lightning speed up until this moment, it seemed.

Josie ignored the space that’d been placed between the two before and sat next to the other girl then placed a hand on her knee, giving it a mild squeeze. She just wanted to be sure things were on a good note before they went their separate ways. “Smile for me, please.”

It was hard to believe that less than hour ago, the two of them were frantically all over each other and now Penelope was gingerly picking up Josie’s hand to return it to the younger one’s lap.

“Thanks, but.. please don’t do that. Feels weird right now.” The brunette explained, completely brushing off the other’s request while she looked down at her phone when it finally buzzed. In all honesty, the closer Josie came to her while Raf was downstairs, the more it made her feel like shit. “I like you,” Penelope reminded Josie while she accepted an invite to hang out at Jed’s house for no particular reason. It felt like it would be the first time of many times that she’d be saying so. Maneuvering her way off of the bed, Penelope made sure that she had all of her belongings gathered while she took a few steps towards the girl’s bedroom door.

Was Penelope really that bothered by Raf’s presence? It wasn’t like he’d just become a factor just a half hour ago and Penelope had been fine with Josie doing a lot more than just a simple touch. Josie tried to put it down to the whole ‘out of sight, out of mind’ ordeal she’d established during their talk but even if that rang true for Penelope as well, she was still a bit hurt by the brunette’s reaction.

Was she not even allowed to touch her now? She wanted to say more but she knew that no matter what, as Penelope respected her requests, she had to do the same in return. Crossing her arms as the shorter girl stood up, she kept her eyes focused on her feet dangling back and forth along the bed. She didn’t want to think that Penelope was lying to her but she just found everything so much harder to believe now. They’d been forced to deal with the reality of their situation with his arrival and how it would be and both had gone against everything they’d said up until that point. Words were one thing, actions were another. She desperately tried to convince herself that it was just due to new and uncharted territory that they’d eventually adjust to but early warnings were always signs of future promises. With a shake of her head, she chanced a glance at the door.

“I’ll see you around.”

 Was it possible for things to go right? Just once?

Chapter Text

Hey guys,

I know it's been a while...so sorry for being MIA, but I have had a lot going on in RL. Good things, though!
I do have another story in mind (Hizzie centric) but debating posting it.
But on another note, if anyone still cares to read this, I do have half a chapter written and will aim for mid next week to upload so let me know.

Hope you're all well and staying hydrated!
:)

Chapter Text

Penelope had finally made it home after spending a few much needed hours of distraction with her friends. She hadn’t thought about Josie once. Okay, maybe once but that was it. She wasn’t going to allow herself to be bothered by the events that’d occurred earlier in the day. It wasn’t as though she was unaware that Josie had a boyfriend; she was painfully aware if anything so it shouldn’t have been as big of a deal as it was. Right? Wrong.

Laying sprawled across her bed, the raven haired girl stared up at the ceiling, looking at nothing in particular. She just needed to drown out all thoughts of the taller girl. That’s not to say that she was going to go back to the silent treatment that they somehow always ended up in on a never ending loop, no, she wouldn’t take it that far but she had to at least protect her head, if not her heart.

Not having Josie around wasn’t an option, it just wasn’t. She’d put up with the shittiness of it all, just to be near her but she knew it wouldn’t be an easy feat.

P: hey

H: It took you long enough. Everything ok? Where were you yesterday?

P: yeah just back to reality

H: And by that you mean….

P: I stayed the night with Josie after you guys left and we spent the day together until her stupid ass bf ruined it

H: oh shit P. How’d that go?

P: just as I would have imagined, she basically ditched me. Just hits harder when it’s not just a thought y’know

H: Is this you finally admitting that you have feelings for her?

P: idk what it is but yuh I guess so

H: She melted that ice cold heart of yours in no time huh

P: shut up

H: Do you maybe wanna talk about it?

P: maybe but not now.

P: I just wish I could convince her that this is more to me than just wanting to get in her pants

H: Penelope

P: before you say anything, let me reiterate that that’s not ALL that it is

\

P: why was this so easy for you and Lizzie?

H: Because Lizzie doesn’t care what people think and neither do I

P: I don’t either

H: Correction. You didn’t before but Josie does and because she does, you do by default. You are letting everyone’s perception of you influence how you feel about pursuing her because you feel like you’re not enough.

P: well her bf also plays a hell of a factor

H: Don’t let him.

P: you know what? You’re right

H: When am I not?

 


Day 1

After her conversation with Hope, Penelope made a vow with herself to either go big or go home and well – going home meant giving up so that certainly wasn’t a viable option.

She took a few days to herself to regroup but once the new school week rolled around, she felt more determined than ever.

As much as felt so fucking desperate for even entertaining the thought of someone in a relationship, she also felt just as confident about it. 

Sitting in the back of her Physics class, not paying attention like always, the girl slumped down in her seat and pulled out her phone.

 

Penny: before you yell at me i skipped World Vampirism for a good reason today 

Penny: you ready? 

Penny: there was a ping pong tournament in the senior lounge 

My JoJo: There's nothing even remotely interesting about ping pong.

My JoJo: Did you play or just use it as an excuse?

Penny: i played my ass off but i got second place to some shit that brought his own paddle

Penny: wanna teach me today's lesson later

My JoJo: So you lost?

My JoJo: I would have said yes if you'd won

Penny: oh so its like that now?

Penny: ill ask someone that appreciates my 2nd place ass 

My JoJo: Hm. I think your ass deserves first place. ;)

My JoJo: I'll catch you up but it'll cost you. 

Penny: jesus what do you want from me

My JoJo: Rude. Don't be grumpy about it. I changed my mind now.

 

Penelope rolled her eyes to herself though Josie couldn’t see her. Sometimes she could be so dramatic.

 

Penny: what is the price i have to pay, my dear princess? 

My JoJo: Welllll, I was going to ask you to go with me to the festival next weekend but I guess I'll just go by myself.

Penny: what kinda festival?

My JoJo: The Bennett Festival. Fattening foods. Rides. Games. The whole nine. Surprised you hadn't heard about it. It's been all over school.

Penny: you know i dont pay attention to much and neither do my friends i depend on you for this

Penny: i'm down tho. just us?

My JoJo: Forgot you only grace us peasants with your presence once every blue moon. But yeah, just us. Is that okay?

Penny: for real i think you see me too often i should step my hooky game up

Penny: as long as you're okay with hanging out with a 2nd place ping pong champ\

My JoJo: Are you complaining about seeing me? 

My JoJo: I guess I'm okay with that. Maybe you can redeem yourself by winning me something? I'll try to win you something too, of course but my hand-eye coordination isn't the best so no promises.

Penny: i dont see you enough

Penny: im gonna win you a giant stuffed banana. the dope kind with the rastacap its gonna be like 6 feet tall and badass you have to name it penelope

My JoJo: Is that so? Can I hold you to that? I don't know bout the name, though. Not sure it lives up to the proclaimed badass-ery.

Penny: dude

Penny: nothing's as badass as a rasta banana

My JoJo: You're right. Can I name it Marley instead?

Penny: i tell you what, you get to name it whatever as long as I get to see that smile on your face

 


 

Day 4 

For the past several days, Penelope had been contemplating how to step her game up. Things had been going pretty normally between her and the other brunette – with much effort on Penelope’s part – but lately she’d noticed that Josie had been splitting her time an awful lot with Rafael.

He was her boyfriend, sure, and it was expected, definitely but it also was the most annoying thing ever.

Who knew that she could dislike a person so much? She even had been playing around with a vanishing spell that she’d dug up from one of Hope’s Aunt Freya’s spell books. It wasn’t like she’d ever use it but it was fun to know she had it in her back pocket. A girl could never know too many spells.

Glancing down at the time, Penelope mentally noted that Josie would most likely be in her last class of the day already, which meant she most likely had already stopped by her locker.

Penny: you have notes to remember me by now

Penny: like 30 pickup lines right?

My JoJo: That was you? I thought I had a secret admirer.

Penny: disappointed?

My JoJo: No. Surprised, is all. 

My JoJo: What's gotten into you?

Penny: nothing has

Penny: what? did you not like it 

Penny: i fuckin’ told Kaleb that

My JoJo: No, I did!

My JoJo: Seriously cheesy but still ridiculously cute. I kept all of them.

Penny: but you like cheese right?? whats a quesadilla or pizza or life without fuckin cheese

Penny: but good a girl gets shit done in morning detention 

My JoJo: So instead of catching up on homework or something, you spend your morning thinking about ways to woo me? 

Penny: 100% worth it 

My JoJo: So you admit you're trying to woo me...?

Penny: can we not call it that?

My JoJo: What would you call it then?

Penny: trying to show you that I’m serious

Penny: about you, bouts this

My JoJo: I never doubted that. You know that. 

Penny: i know that but yet….here we are

My JoJo: Don’t be annoying. 

Penny: it’s a personality trait

My JoJo: You’re unbelievable. 

Penny: also a personality trait

My JoJo: omg 

My JoJo: I’ll meet you after class at your room.

 


 

Day 10

 

My JoJo: I thought I told you no snooping!

Penny: aht, correction, you said no snooping in your dad’s office. Technically we weren’t inside 

My JoJo: Hope literally got MG to compel one of the student workers into sneaking the books out of his office and you tried to imitate a spell you saw on Halloweentown to speed read – which was really good, might I add but totally not the point, because obviously it wasn’t quick enough and now he knows it’s missing! 

Penny: ok I’m sorry but idk why he’d ask you, why not assume it was Lizzie

My JoJo: He asked me because he knew I wouldn’t lie.

Penny: but you did

My JoJo: To save your ass!

Penny: and my ass and I thank you. i promise to return it tonight

My JoJo: I hope it was worth it, what did you find anyhow? 

Penny: well I found out a lot about Hope’s family and that weird landon kid said he knew some stuff too so she’s actually going to Nola this weekend and yours truly will be their cover.

My JoJo: That all? 

Penny: yeah mainly…and I found some info on my brother. Or well some kid I think is my bro. it’s kinda sketch how doc has all this random info on all of us.

My JoJo: Oh?

Penny: lol yeah.

My JoJo: And…?

Penny: I reached out to him. 

My JoJo: AND?

Penny: says he might be in town soon, he actually used to live here. i didn’t get much but we’ve been talking on and off for the past week. Think I might invite him to meet up

My JoJo: I – uh…do you think that’s a good idea?

Penny: won’t know til I try amirite?

Penny: do you maybe wanna come with? 

My JoJo: If it helps you, sure. 

Penny: no pressure

My JoJo: I know, I’ll come Pen. 

Penny: this is why I love you. 

My JoJo: you what?

Penny: sorry what? Your phone’s getting bad reception. 

My JoJo: Penelope, we’re texting.

Penny: the phone number you’ve dialed is no longer in service.

 

Shit.

 

 

Chapter Text

Hey ya'll!

So initially I was done with this story but I received 2 new comments in the span of the past 24 hours and it made my heart do a thing cause I didn't think anyone still read this since it has been nearly 3 months since the last update. And funnily enough, I got the email for the second one in the midst of me screenwriting with a friend and telling him about this exact story. Coincidence?

I know I said before I wasn't gonna abandon this story and did but between lack of free time and loss of interest, it happened.
Recently though, as things have calmed down for me, I was debating a Henelope or Hizzie fic considering I'll be a little more free this month but if you guys want me to continue this and there's still a significant amount of interest, let me know and I'll post what I still have in my drafts for the time being on this upcoming weekend and continue from there.

Comments? Thoughts? Opinions?

Chapter Text

Josie walked down the long corridor, purposely taking long strides to get back to her dorm room. She’d recently moved back onto campus a few days ago – not by her own will – so she was still getting readjusted to being back and wanted to dodge running into anyone for as long as she could.

 ‘Dad said that Auntie Elena is throwing Stephanie a party this weekend. Did you maybe wanna go?’

Glancing down at the text, Josie sighed to herself. Did she want to go? Not particularly, but it would get her off campus for a bit. It was something she desperately needed considering how suffocated she’d felt as of lately but it was still up in the air.

Ignoring the notification, she slipped the phone into her back pocket and continued to make her way towards her room.

Just as she opened the door, she was met with her sister – or well, technically not her sister; a hologram.

“Lizzie, what are you doing?”

“Studying. What does it look like I’m doing?”

“You call using magic when dad explicitly said we weren’t allowed to on campus, studying?”

“My astro-projection skills are top notch. And you want to know why? Because I apply what I study so yes, I do.”

“Your glitchy twitching eyelid says otherwise.” Josie retorted as she walked through the figure of her sister.

“Don’t sass me, Josie... Why did you ignore my text? I kinda need to RSVP and if you’re not going to be my plus one, I need to find another willing prospect.”

“Okay, so find someone else.” Taking her bag off her shoulder, she set it onto her desk chair as she began to pull out her laptop. “Why not Hope? Surprised she wasn’t your first choice.”

“Because we’re on a break.” You could practically hear the eye roll in her tone.

Josie paused her task and turned around to face her sister, confusion etched across her face.

“She was just here last night. I didn’t imagine being locked out of my room and making poor MG cancel his date with Kym because you quote, unquote ‘had plans’ and I had nowhere else to go.” Lizzie opened her mouth, but Josie quickly held up a hand to stop her. “Which please, spare me the details.”

“Ugh. Not a break, break. Don’t be so technical. We just…” Lizzie huffed. “She’s been looking into this whole family line thing with she who shall not be named since you dropped her and it’s been a big deal for them both so I told her to just focus on that….no distractions so that way she doesn’t feel guilty about blowing me off. It’s super hard, though. I don’t know how you do it. I feel so needy.”

“….Do what?”

The blonde rolled her eyes, as if it weren’t obvious. “Nothing. I’m not meddling.”

“Lizzie.”

“I’m not saying anything but you kinda did have somewhere else to go. You just chose not to.”

It wasn’t that Lizzie had a point, but well, she had a point. She hadn’t been blowing Penelope off, per se. She just kept all of their interactions limited to being in a public group setting with multiple people around.

There’d been many occasions over the past week when she wanted to bring up Penelope’s slip up but she didn’t want to scare her off.

Of course friends said those words to one another all the time, she told MG constantly but when she didn’t know for sure if it was simply stated in a platonic fashion or not, it was hard to bypass.

However, Penelope hadn’t commented on it neither. She didn’t act any differently, either so mayhaps Josie was just reading more into it than need be. But what if she wasn’t?


“Did you tell your mom that you found your brother?”

“Did you tell Marcel and Rebekah that you were looking into becoming a full tribid?” Penelope quirked an eyebrow at the shorter girl but when she didn’t reply, Penelope had her answer.

“Exactly.”

Continuing – and failing miserably – to attempt to twist the lid off a jar of pickles, Hope huffed in irritation.

“It’s not the same thing. Your mom knows you have a brother, it’s a no brainer that at some point in time you’d look for him, or he’d look for you.”

“Again, exactly. So I don’t need to tell her.” Pointing a finger at the lid, she maneuvered her finger upwards to lift it before sitting it down on the counter. “For someone who wants to tap into her vampire side, you’ve barely mastered your witch side. Why didn’t you just use a spell?”

“Because we’re not supposed to. We’re on witch lockdown after you – “

“Don’t remind me.” Sinking down into the seat that she occupied, Penelope buried her face in her hands.

“For someone often so sure of herself, you’ve been doing a lot of questionable things lately.” The older of the two retorted.

Hope removed one of the pickles from the jar, before replacing the lid and moved over to sit beside the other girl.

“I’m not judging, just so you know. Harshly, anyway.”

“But you’re judging.”

“Silently.”

“Still. Judging.”

“I just don’t want you to do anything that you’re going to regret later.”

“Are we still talking about my brother?”

“Partially.”

“Percentage.”

“Thirty-five.”

“So that’d be a no. Listen, I don’t wanna get into this now.” Or ever.

Holding her hands up in mock surrender, Hope decided to dead the topic. She wasn’t going to push. This time.

After a brief moment of silence, only interrupted by the sounds of Hope’s crunch in between bites and Penelope’s incessant finger tapping, there was a knock at the door.

Both girls turned their attention towards the door. “You expectin’ company?”

Penelope shook her head. “Nah.”

She knew it wasn’t Kaleb; like Hope, they all had a key to one another’s room, and it couldn’t be Jed; he always called first. And it certainly wasn’t Landon who Hope so graciously welcomed into their circle as of late despite Penelope’s nagging on the matter, because he definitely knew there was no way in hell he’d be allowed at her room. That only left…

“Penelope, I know you’re in there.”

Josie dropping by wasn’t too surprising – it was expected, if anything, actually. A little nerve wrecking, too. Honestly, she expected it sooner or not at all.

Josie knew Penelope. She knew Penelope would talk when she wanted to. Their entire friendship showcased that. And they had been talking. Just not about what she was sure evoked this impromptu visit.

Penelope was far from stupid. She could tell that it bothered Josie just as much as it bothered her. Maybe even more-so.

Now that Lizzie and Hope were doing their thing (their “break” was such BS), that meant the blonde had been around a lot more, which in turn meant that Josie also had been around a lot more when it came to their usual group outings. Not that Penelope was opposed to it, at all, it just made it all the more impossible to pretend that she hadn’t said what she said.

Or actually, she wasn’t pretending; she just wasn’t acknowledging it. Out loud.

“Are you ignoring me now?”

Hope averted her gaze from the door to her best friend. They couldn't just leave her out there.

She made a move to open it but Penelope mouthed a simple no.

Josie’s persistence was something that Penelope usually admired but God, right now she didn’t.

She wasn’t ignoring her. Nothing had changed between them. Absolutely nothing – Penelope made sure of it. The only difference was the fact that they hadn’t hung out one on one because Penelope wanted to avoid this but it had been a silent mutual agreement from where Penelope stood. It didn’t have to become an issue. It didn’t have to become anything.

"Okay, fine." Green eyes drifted to the space beneath the door. There was a brief hesitation on the opposite side of the door but after a few moments, she could see the shadow disappear signaling that Josie had left. 

It didn’t make Penelope feel any better. Josie’s desire to talk was warranted but it just wasn’t a topic that Penelope was ready to hash out just yet. She’d never uttered those words before – even if it was via written texts. Of course, to her mother and father but everyone knew that wasn’t the same.

There were still a lot of uncertainties surrounding them and the last thing Penelope wanted to come of this was isolation. As much as she loved to push the envelope without ripping it when it came to them, she was usually a bit more tactful than simply acting on impulse and this certainly was the most tactless thing that she could have done by far.

Love and like weren’t interchangeable; she’d definitely placed herself in a whole ‘nother ballgame.

“What’s the endgame here?” Knocking herself back into focus, Penelope turned to stare at the shorter girl. She hadn’t even realized that she’d zoned out.

Sensing that Penelope wasn’t going to answer, Hope sighed and pressed on. “I thought you two were past this avoiding nonsense. You’re in too deep now to try to back out and ignoring her helps no one.”

“Not ignoring her.”

“Right because making her talk to your door is certainly an open line of communication.”

“Still not ignoring her, I was listening. I just don’t know how to approach her. I don’t think this a topic that either of us are ready for.”

“And why not?” Crossing her arms over her shoulder, Hope wrinkled her eyebrows in confusion. Penelope and Josie had been doing this dance for a while now. It was getting old and of course, neither would tell the other just how immature they both were being about this situation.

“To be frank with you, I don’t think there’s ever a time when anyone is ready for that. It’s always scary to both say and hear for the first time but it’s also one of the most magical things – to be in love and be loved back.”

“Who said she felt the same?” Penelope challenged.

“You’d have to be stupid or a damn tree to not see that she is. Maybe she’s waiting on you to woman up. You’re the one who’s been shying away from talking about it. Not her. Maybe she doesn’t want to scare you.” The look on Penelope’s face made Hope feel guilty for not letting it be but what kind of friend would she be if she did? “I know she and I have our differences but I can talk to her if you want me to...see where her head’s at. It’d give me an excuse to see Lizzie, anyhow.”

As much as Penelope wanted to disagree, she figured it couldn’t hurt. She’d get an insight without actually having to face Josie just yet and although she wasn’t sure just how much Josie trusted Hope considering their past, it would be nice for Josie to talk to someone too who wasn’t Lizzie and probably mad-mouthed Penelope any chance she got, honestly.

“I know you’re probably going to do it whether I give you the green light or not so whatever. Just don’t force her to talk if she doesn’t want to and not when Lizzie’s around – unless she wants her around. Oh, and – thanks Hope.”

“Don’t mention it.”


Later that evening, Hope found herself heading on to the hall that she had grown to know quite well over the past weeks.

She had about an hour to kill before she was due to meet up with the ‘squad’ for their weekly game night. Tonight’s agenda was a game of soccer, vamps vs. witches and MG’s bright idea. And of course he enlisted the twins and Raf. Something or another about needing an equal number of people on both teams. They easily could have enlisted Wade or Alyssa for an even game but no so she figured now was a good time as any to swoop by Josie’s because when magic was said to be involved, she was sure anything could happen.

Pulling out her phone, she leaned next to the door of the Saltzman twins room and called Josie.

“Uh, hello?”

“Hey Josie – it’s Hope.”

“Yeah, I know…Penelope’s not with me.”

“That’s not why I’m calling. You got a second? If you’re busy, I can just call you later.”

Josie stared down at her phone, unsure why Hope would be calling her if it weren’t regarding Penelope’s whereabouts which is typically where their interactions began and ended.

“Is she okay? What’s wrong?” She didn’t know why her mind immediately went into a state of panic but it did.

“Yeah, no. Chill. She’s fine. I was actually calling to check up on you. I’m at your dorm, you here?”

The taller brunette nodded though Hope couldn’t see her. Instead of replying, she opened her door and was instantly met with the other girl.

Josie gestured for Hope to enter and then closed the door behind her.

“So, ‘sup?”

As uncomfortable as she felt in the other girl’s presence, Josie tried her best to not let it show and be known.

“Uh, you came over here so you tell me.” There had to be a reason for Hope showing up out of the blue like this. They could save both of them the small talk.

Her eyes trained on Hope’s face trying to read her and noticed how every few seconds she glanced over to Lizzie’s side of the room.

“Lizzie's not here so if that’s why you’re –“

“It’s not.” Turning her attention back to the other, Hope finally took in Josie’s appearance. The first thing she noticed was Penelope’s stallion hoodie that Josie adorned instantly bringing a small smile to her face. ‘Cute.’ She thought to herself. Then she noticed how Josie refused to meet her eyes and chose to focus on seemingly everything else.

“Hey, I’m not here to hurt you or anything.” Taking a step towards her, Hope placed a reassuring hand on Josie’s shoulder, careful to not startle her. She knew that she and her friends had a rep and of course, she was never to he nicest to the girl but she didn’t want Josie to fear her.

Josie relaxed under her touch and nodded. As much as she found Hope intimidating, she never thought she’d do anything to harm her. It just all felt weird being alone in her presence right now.

“But you’re here about her, right?”

The question was met with silence but that only further confirmed what Josie already knew to be true.

“Which is it? Did she send you over here to tell me to leave her alone or to finally admit that she’s done with all this?”

“Neither, Josie. Can you let me talk, please?”

Josie gestured to Hope signaling the floor was all hers.

“I’m sure you’re well aware that I know what happened. But I’m not going to give you some dramatic backstory to provide reasoning or make cop out excuses for her. I’m also not going to sugar coat anything and pretend that what she’s doing is okay. Actually, I’m not going to say anything on her behalf. I’m here for you. Are you okay?”

“I – well…” Josie hadn’t predicted that. Hope wasn’t her biggest fan and she didn’t hide it so it was a bit off-putting for her to be there for Josie and even remotely care about her feelings. She entertained it, anyhow.

“Yes and no. Part of me gets the reason she doesn’t want to talk about it but the other part of me is utterly confused. I don’t know how she meant it.”

“You know how she meant it.”

“I’d like to think I do but why all of this? Why not come to me? Why not tell me?”

“Put yourself in her shoes. What would you have done?”

“Not this. Not leave her wondering and coming to her own conclusions. Not shut her out.”

She could feel the tears brimming her eyes, so she glanced up to keep them at bay.

“It hurts, Hope. It hurts that the one person you’d do anything for won’t even talk to you and there’s nothing that you can do about it. There isn’t even a number for the amount of space she’s put between us lately…As much shit as we’ve been through and put one another through since we’ve been in one another’s lives, why is this the one thing that she feels is too much?”

“Because she loves you, Josie.” Hope shrugged. “It’s as plain and as simple as that. But the simplest things aren’t always the easiest to accept.”

“Maybe so but you aren’t exactly the one I need to hear it from right now.”

Josie buried her face into her hands. Her thoughts were running a mile a minute. She tried to not be upset but how could she not be? She understood that Hope was only trying to help and she appreciated it considering it seemed no one else gave a damn lately. However, she wasn’t exactly doing such a bang up job at it. Talking about it was only worse.

Lifting her Josie, she let out an exasperated sigh and opened her mouth to speak until she heard a murmured ‘invisique’ behind her which instantly halted all coherent thoughts.

“How about from me then?”

Chapter Text

“Look. S’not fair of me to ask you to not sleep with anyone else when we’re not exclusive even the slightest bit. You asking me for us to not cut off what we’re doing was just that…us continuing doing what we’re doing without the interference of everything else before tonight, although those things are still there.” Chocolate orbs finally found their way back to the other pair trained on her, offering a mild smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “I really don’t know what you want me to say here, Penelope. I know that it isn’t just about sex with us but truly, if I can’t fulfill your every need, why jeopardize everything else? I won’t be mad or upset or whatever it is that you’re overly contemplating. And I know that’s not what you asked but I hope it suffices.”

If Penelope couldn’t outright come to the decision on her own that she didn’t want to see anyone else, Josie wasn’t going to force her to. It wasn’t as though they were ‘playing for keeps’, this whole ordeal was just a bit of fun for both parties. At least Josie kept reminding herself of that as to not get too attached. Her feelings were already too entangled in their relationship to even remotely try to pretend that she didn’t care as much as she did. Rolling her eyes at her own indecisiveness, the taller girl decided to retract what she’d said prior, and just be upfront. Honesty was probably the best policy in all of this. Her eyes bore into green eyes as she took a step forward so that they were only centimeters apart. “If you want the truth, in an ideal world, I would want you to not sleep around with anyone. I would want to be the only one that has your attention in that way and I would want you to want that too. I would want to be with you, Penelope. Be yours. But if you can’t do that, I get it. It’s fine.”

 


 

She knew it wasn’t a good idea. She knew that but yet, she couldn’t stop herself and she did it anyway.

Penelope knew that it probably wasn’t any different than invading Josie’s privacy by reading her journal – maybe this was worse though she was too stubborn to admit it – but she had good reason so that had to count for something, right?

She hadn’t told Josie yet; she wasn’t sure if she would if she was being completely honest with herself but she had told Hope and MG, whom had become a rather good friend as of late. He made it perfectly clear that he wouldn’t betray Josie’s trust so no matter how much Penelope tried to pry, he wouldn’t budge and give her entail but he also wasn’t like Hope and judged her for her shortcomings and stupid acts either. It was nice to have someone who was on the in on both sides, it gave her a little bit of hope considering the live Hope was doing neither.

“Is she still seeing the wolf then?” Penelope spoke up after a pregnant pause. MG was absentmindedly telling her and Hope of their little double date the night before. She was sure he was just oblivious to just how much it bothered her but it wasn’t like she was going to voice it, either.

“I mean – “ He started but was instantaneously interrupted by Hope.

“Why didn’t you ask that when you popped into her dreams the other night?”

MG covered his mouth with a grimace. “Oooh, she’s got a point, Peez.”

“Who asked you, Milton?”

“Well, no one…but – “

“It makes no sense. You’re bold enough to invade her dreams to see what her reaction would be if you admitted you’re in love with her but you’re too much of a pussy to act on it now that you know?” Hope inquired.

"And how did she respond exactly?"

"She said it back but what if it was just my subconscious showing me what I wanted to see? If I can manipulate myself in her dreams, how can I not manipulate the actions of the other individual as well?"

"Because the spell doesn't work that way. It follows the same guidelines as time travel. You can place yourself in 1900 or 3005 and control your being but what happens around you, is ultimately up to the universe. You have no control over that."

MG looked between the two witches. "Okay, with alla that said, I'm with Hope. You're doing nothing because...?"

Penelope laid sprawled onto her bed, staring at the unsent text displayed on her cellular device. All of the previous several messages in the thread were courtesy of her, and they all were read. She stared down at the read receipt – fuckin’ Josie made sure to turn them on, but they hadn’t been on before. None of this really computed for Penelope. It’s not like she knew what Penelope did. She couldn’t have. And Josie being Josie would have confronted her. It’d been 5 days and still nothing.

“See, about that…” She held up her phone to show the various texts she’d sent over the course of the past few days.

“Oh! She’s not ignoring you. Raf just made her make a vow to not use her phone during the camping trip he surprised her with but clearly she’s still checking her messages.” He referenced the read the receipts as he looked at the phone in his line of sight.

“Of fucking course he did.” He had perfect fucking cock blocking timing. Every. Damn. Time.

And somehow he must have convinced Doc to let Josie miss school…and people wondered why she couldn’t stand the kid.

“Look, I’m not taking sides or getting involved – I love Raf, that’s the homie but IF I had to vote for who makes my best friend the happiest, my vote’s you if it’s any consolation or silver lining right now.”

The raven haired witch chuckled lowly to herself. If only his vote is what counted in the grand scheme of things.

“Thanks, Milton.”

“Yo! How bouts Kaleb, Lizzie and I – “

For the umpteenth time, he was cut off again.

“The three of you should never, ever be in the same sentence or even the same room for anything so whatever you’re plotting, get it out of your tiny brain right now.”

“Rude!”

“Honest.” Penelope corrected.

“But wait – “ Hope held up a finger as her eyes danced between the two. “Maybe he’s on to something. The three of them could really make some shit happen and I, for once am not opposed to inserting myself where I’m not needed.”

“Please don’t.” Penelope really couldn’t afford for shit to backfire yet again.

“Done.” Hope held her fist out to MG.

“And done.” MG matched his fist to Hope’s.

 


 

Monday rolled around quicker than Josie anticipated. Her weekend get away with Raf and brief stint with MG and Kym had been a nice distraction from the turmoil of her life at the moment.

Between school. volunteering, tutoring, missing her mom, never seeing her dad, MG being MIA – she was happy for him and his new love life but sometimes she needed him too, Lizzie going through her daily drama scenes – yesterday’s episode was because she accidentally cursed in front of Pedro and couldn’t forgive herself, Penelope and her Penelope-ness, and last but not least Raf, it was a lot to unpack all at once.

After a quick run back to her room after classes ended for the day, Josie found herself parked in front of an unfamiliar home. She glanced down at the address MG had sent her earlier which only followed by an ominous text afterwards.

‘Don’t ask questions. Just go. You trust me, right?’

She wasn’t even sure why she chose to forego her tutoring sessions to leave during her free period, but she couldn’t shake the nervous feeling that inhabited her.

The alone time she had to get herself situated during the short car ride there had been somewhat beneficial but it didn’t seem to cease her nervousness.

‘Hey, I’m outside.’

‘Just go knock.’ Was the text she received not even 5 seconds later.

The brunette took a deep breath and exited her vehicle.

Reclining against the couch with a can of Arizona never felt so good. Penelope felt lighter than ever. Though the nature of it wasn’t ideal, the time that she spent alone after her discussion with Hope and MG went down had given her the perfect opportunity to stop and reorganize her thoughts. School proved to be a better distraction and buffer than anything the past few days, and once Penelope fell back into routine she was able to keep her mind off of whatever Raf and Josie were off doing with homework. Shocking but effective.

Even with the two together, she’d come to the conclusion that she wasn’t going to go down without a proper fight long before. She just needed to be mature and levelheaded, and the plan always seemed to be golden until she was blindsided by an unforeseen scenario that her brain would so cleverly conjure up But the way that Josie hadn’t told her before to stop her advances was enough for Penelope to say that things were looking well for her. But as prepared to daydream as she was, she had other matters at hand to deal with today.

She’d missed the knock. As quick as lightning, the younger Park sibling bolted for the door and opened it with a bright smile. “Hi! Are you Jennifer?” She heard her brother chirp just as she opened the text from MG alerting her that Josie had arrived.

Bright green eyes stared up at Josie with growing, truly childlike curiosity. Penelope sputtered from where she sat and perched herself upon the back of the couch to watch the two acquaint themselves with one another. From where she was, amusement danced across her features while she eyed Josie at the front door. As always, it really was a pleasure just to be in the other girl’s presence.

“Don’t be deceived by his deep ass voice. He’s Gabe and he’s twelve. Let her in,” Penelope stood up from the couch and made her way over to lean against the wall close to the front door, her arms spread open to welcome the other girl with a hug.

This had been Hope’s idea. Not this - this was MG's, but the whole brother thing.

She’d been in communication with Gabe for about the past month or so but they’d never actually met up until the past week. She knew how weird it probably was communicating with him without any parental consent so after much deliberation, she finally took him up on his offer to meet his mom and she introduced herself. It came as a surprise to Penelope when the lady who she now knew as Jessica, already knew who she was and had already anticipated Penelope’s arrival that very day at that very time. Witch things. It was unexpected that she didn’t really have to do much to convince the woman she was indeed there with good intentions but nice all the same.

For the past week, Jessica had allowed the pair to hang out and just get to know one another more personally. So far, Penelope had been to one of his base ball games, was able to take him to an art class – something they found they had in common, and was able to baby sit twice; today being one of those days.

It was nice.

When the door swung open, Josie was surprised to find big, vibrant eyes staring up at her with a curious expression. She had anticipated for MG to greet her but seeing the younger boy was greatly welcomed just as much. She liked kids but it didn’t float past her just how much he favored a certain someone.

The similarities between the young boy and his older sister were definitely noticeable. Bending down, the brunette positioned herself to be eye level with the boy, an amused grin in place. “Hey, buddy. It’s Jo-sie.” She sounded out, a light giggle following suit. “But, I’ll answer to Jennifer just for you.” The witch extended her fist for him to bump when she heard a familiar voice speak up from behind her only causing her smile to grow despite herself.

Once the boy moved aside as Penelope instructed, Josie stepped inside the unfamiliar household and took in her surroundings for a brief moment before walking into the other girl’s embrace.

After the pair pulled away, the older girl reached for Josie’s wrist and held it to lead her into the living room, then let go once she plopped back down onto the middle of the couch, immediately propping her feet up on the coffee table as Gabe settled under one of her arms while he stuffed his face with whatever he managed to retrieve in her absence.

“You actually came just in time. We were just starting…. our homework,” she drawled with a cat-like grin while the intro to The Walking Dead played on the TV screen.

“I actually did my homework. She took a nap.” Gabe chimed in from beside her, earning a sharp shushing sound from his sister. Just then she realized that her brother would serve as a fairly good buffer so things wouldn’t escalate too far left or right between the girls. She looked at Josie with an inquisitive tilt of her head in attempt to be a decent hostess. She could tell she was curious as to why she was there but knew she wouldn’t say anything in front of the child. Deciding at an attempt to not make things awkward, Penelope stood up to gather some things from the kitchen.

Josie took this time to look around the household. She had so many questions: first and foremost, why was she here? Especially considering the last time she'd attempted to speak to Penelope, the girl was deliberately avoiding her. Next, when did she meet up with her brother and why hadn't Penelope told her? Thirdly, because after the topic the two kept dancing around, she hadn't spent more than 2 minutes alone with the girl and there was a host of other unknowns but not many that she could articulate just yet when suddenly she was brought out of her thoughts.

“Josie, how do you know Pen?” The green-eyed boy inquired curiously, seemingly a little comfortable in her presence.

As if on cue the oldest of the three stepped back into the room and plopped back down, somehow managing to put down three bottles of water, a jar of salsa and a bag of tortilla chips. “Yeah, how do you know Pen?” She drawled playfully while she wondered how the other would summarize the turbulent mess that was their… friendship?

“Is she a giant a-hole to you like she is to me?” The boy cut in jokingly, earning himself a light thwack on the thigh from Penelope.

There was no way she could tell Penelope’s brother the complete truth about the two. Not that there was anything really to tell, but she knew she’d have to water things down. “We have a few classes together.” The girl stated simply. “I was forced to hold her hostage a few days a week for some volunteering nonsense and granted, her a-hole ways didn’t agree with that at first, but yet, here we are.” Brown orbs flickered to meet green ones with a warm smile.

“Still an a-hole but I guess she’s not so bad now.” Her eyes tore away from Penelope’s after she found herself staring for too long, not wanting Gabe to pick up on anything. She was sure he didn’t know of his sister’s “extra-curriculars” but she wasn’t so sure if he was aware of her sexuality either. Grabbing a few chips of her own, she dipped one in the salsa and popped it into her mouth.

As much as she tried not to, her eyes still found their way back to Penelope. She tried to not make it obvious but she couldn’t really be bothered to care too much. It still amazed her how they ended up here. She’d always thought the girl was pretty – that much was obvious but she wasn’t sure when the attraction came along. Josie had never been attracted to a female before and to add the feelings on top of it all was a bit overwhelming. Not to mention that her feelings were reciprocated. It still baffled her as to why but for now, it was best to not allow herself to get enclosed in her thoughts. Especially seeing that they weren’t alone.

“Here we are,” the shorter witch echoed between bites, somewhat nostalgic.

 


 

“You sure you know what you’re doing in here? I don’t smell smoke so that’s a good sign.” As Josie walked further into the kitchen, the brunette leaned against the counter and lifted a lid off the pot to examine its contents. 

After an hour and a half of Gabe and Penelope going back and forth on Call of Duty, Penelope retired to the kitchen to make dinner, noting that his mother would be home soon. It was the one thing she always ensured to do, just to alleviate the stress of also having to cook once the woman had already had a long day of work. It was the very least she could do.

“Kiss my ass.” A dry look was shot at Josie while she chopped away at some other vegetables that were going to be thrown in the pot but she smiled nonetheless.

Swallowing down the lump in her throat, she set the knife down and rinsed her hands in the sink then turned to the taller of the two with a lopsided smile.

Silence fell between them. Pretending to actually be interested in how the chicken was cooking made her feel ridiculous, but it helped her collect herself for just a few seconds.

“… You think things would be going the same right now if Gabe wasn’t here?” Penelope inquired as she covered the pot once more, her gaze then traveling back over to rich, brown orbs. The tension between the two was one of several elephants in the room. In her mind it didn’t seem like a big deal to bring it up, but now that the words just left her mouth she felt herself instantly regretting it. The way the set up currently was, she didn’t foresee herself ever getting around to what she actually wanted to voice but somehow in the midst of everything she was feeling, the girl managed to keep her tone and expression close to casual. 

A hearty chuckle pushed its way from the depths of Josie’s throat with a shake of her head. “What? You think I would have pounced on you by now or something?” 

The idea wouldn’t have been too far off considering how things had gone the last time the girls were alone together for an extended amount of time, which was definitely more Josie’s doing than Penelope’s own. As laughable as it was, Josie couldn’t quite help but to wonder about her own question. She told herself it was ludicrous, she vowed to herself to never venture there anymore. It was supposed to be a one-and-done but by the way that she could see the other’s eyes fall upon her lips was making it hard to continue to see things that way. Her bottom teeth gently grazed her lower lip subconsciously, unable to even catch on to what she was doing when her thoughts were preoccupied elsewhere. “…Do you?” Her tone took on a much more serious nature now that it was clearly obvious that Penelope wasn’t just taking a teasing jab at her inability to have self control before.

I would’ve pounced on you.’ “Nah. Not really, but… I wouldn’t mind if you did,” came the measured response, her gaze not shifting elsewhere even if she knew she was caught in the act. Though she didn’t want to directly initiate anything, Penelope was confident with her own body language. Her tongue darted out past parted lips to moisten them while one thick brow raised at Josie, leaning back against the counter in an almost inviting manner.

The air between them was becoming heavier with each passing second, but her stare was unrelenting. She supposed that all she really wanted to convey was that she was still very interested in the girl across from her no matter what she did or didn’t receive in return. 

Penelope wondered how many more times Raf kissed Josie. Or if the boy was a better kisser than she was—she found it to be highly unlikely, but she wasn’t going to dwell upon such things. It was practically microscopic when it was placed beside the fact that Penelope was, without a doubt, willingly homewrecking their relationship. Some of the confidence she exuded faltered for a split second. Must be interesting to be on the receiving end of all of this. Not that she cared, but Josie seemed to. The shorter witch failed to understand why Josie never yelled at her or pushed her away despite her blatant flirting and romantic gestures, so was it wrong to draw some hope from the lack of negative response on Josie’s part? No matter. She wasn’t going to bring it up if the other girl wasn’t.

Josie had absolutely no clue what she and Penelope were doing. The only thing she did know was that she shouldn’t have been welcoming nor entertaining whatever this was, yet she couldn’t find the willpower not to. She was putting all three of them in a position to get hurt somehow for her own selfish benefit.

Her gaze lifted once again but refused to meet the green eyes she felt on her. There was no way she could stop herself from doing something crazy if she did. That, and the fact that she knew Gabe could walk in any moment ceased all of her thoughts of doing what she knew they both wanted to happen. How was it even remotely fathomable that the prospect of a twelve-year-old catching them was enough to warrant her morality but not the fact that she had a boyfriend? Penelope was right there. Josie could easily do whatever she wanted and she knew the girl wouldn’t have stopped her at all. Her body language was a clear indication, tempting almost.

“Can you stop looking at me like that?” It was already difficult enough to control herself without the added weakness of her intense stare.

Even with her stare refusing to wander elsewhere, Penelope could practically hear the gears turning in Josie’s head. Images of some sort of bizarre love triangle came to mind when she tried to guess what the younger girl was thinking about. All she could really sense was frustration, maybe some apprehension. Nothing else was set in stone. She was zoning out to focus on nobody and nothing else, but she could faintly hear her brother shouting into his headset while he played Call of Duty. They were safe for another ten minutes or so.

“Stop looking at you like what?” The older girl chirped with feigned innocence. If it was a battle of wits Josie was going to go for, she was going to have no problem. A part of her was pleased with how strongly she affected Josie, even if it was a little warped to feel that way. To her it was a fantastic visual reminder that she still had a chance. Still, the fact that Josie seemed to be vacillating was enough to encourage Penelope to keep pushing. Tentative hands reached out to take hold of Josie’s wrists before pulling her in flush against her own body while she braced herself against the counter.

Her arms then looped around the other girl’s slim frame and she linked her around Josie’s neck, her head cocked to one side while she stood on her tippy-toes and studied the younger witch’s expression closely after planting a ‘chaste’ kiss on her cheek.

“I’ll go for it, but it’s your call. If you say no, then I’ll back off… for the rest of today.” Making sure to emphasize the last part of her offer, she licked her lips and watched brown eyes for their reaction.

Penelope’s eyes were so hypnotizing - a for sure weakness for Josie - and before she could accurately process what she was doing, one hand came up to rest on the small of the other brunette’s back while her other pulled her in closer by her collar. As their breaths mingled, Josie could feel her heart rate accelerate to new heights. This was a much different scenario than before, they weren’t acting on impulse. Both girls seemed to be on the same page and despite the internal debate Josie had with herself early on, she figured that what Raf didn’t know couldn’t hurt. Right? It’d be their little secret; Penelope was her little secret. Finally coaxing herself to a point of contentment, she responded, “I won’t say no.”

The confirmation was direly needed for herself as well. The constant back and forth between her thoughts was exhausting but to have it said aloud cemented everything for her. “C’mere.” The younger girl closed the distance between them, her lips moving sensually with the ones pressed against hers.

It was different this time and they both knew it, yet the only thing on Penelope’s mind was that she couldn’t let this be the last time between them whether or whether not Raf was still in the picture...she was hoping for not once everything was said and done.

With some sudden clumsiness Penelope reached behind her and slapped at the stove a few times until she adjusted the burner to turn the heat to its lowest setting, then chuckled when she focused back on the girl in front of her. Her hands wandered over to Josie’s hips and gripped them firmly, making sure that the two were pressed flush together in a way that made Penelope sigh contently into the kiss. Eventually her lips parted and she captured the taller girl’s bottom lip between her own, lightly sucking on it to try and coax Josie into granting her tongue entrance.

There was no hesitation on Josie’s end at the silent request from the older girl. She happily obliged, allowing their tongues to sync with one another. The kiss was slow and sensual but with each passing moment, she found herself craving more. Taking a deep breath through her nose, Josie tilted her head slightly to gain better access to deepen the kiss. Whether it was because of just how good of a kisser Penelope was or if it was her own pent up desires, she didn’t know. There was a minor worry of coming on too strong, a slight regret of being too forward but she knew she didn’t want to stop and she was sure if Penelope did, she would. Pushing the thought to the back of her mind, the brunette tuned into everything that was Penelope. 

Josie pulled away from the kiss for a brief moment, only to crash her lips back onto Penelope’s a second after, immediately enveloping her tongue in her mouth. A light moan from the taller of the two filtered its way into the kiss as she continued to pour as much passion as she possibly could convey into it. Penelope knowing that she had feelings for her was one thing but being able to portray it and show it in such a manner was completely different. She could feel her entire body heating up as a shudder crept up her spine. Folding her arms around her back, she walked the pair backwards in an attempt to move away from the stove - not completely trusting if it was the heat radiating or the effect of Penelope - until she was pressed between the wall and the other witch. Her eyes fluttered open with a small chuckle as she stumbled but quickly regained her balance and melted into the kiss.

Spurred on by how responsive Josie was to her, she grew more confident by the second. It was escalating into something far more heated than last time now they knew they both wanted this. Her tongue moved in languid strokes against Josie’s, massaging the muscle while she matched the amount of passion that the smaller girl poured into the kiss. There was no way that Penelope could see herself growing tired of being this close to Josie, not when she felt her desire for more build steadily. Then they were moving and Penelope made sure to hold Josie steady after the little stumble, but afterwards the brunette made sure to keep the other girl was held still by reaching back behind her and finding Josie’s hands.

With each hand in her own, Penelope pinned them down against the wall before disengaging herself from the prolonged kiss to catch her breath. Green eyes seemed to darken with desire while she eyed Josie, quietly making sure the she was okay before bringing her lips back to the tan skin of Josie’s cheek.

“More?” She inquired in a rather smug tone while she maneuvered herself a bit to press lingering kisses to Josie’s neck until stopping at where she left a love bite the last time they were together, immediately recalling the response it elicited from the brunette. This time she knew better than to leave any marks, but the fact failed to stop Penelope from nipping at the sensitive spot almost curiously.

Opposed to responding, Josie flipped the pair around so that now Penelope was pressed firmly against the wall. Looking down at her through her lashes, she noticed the darker tone that her typical vibrant irises took on and she was sure hers weren’t much different. Placing one last kiss against her lips, she allowed her lips to ghost along the other’s chin and jawline, until she reached her neck. She wasted no time in peppering kisses along any area of exposed skin she could reach. Her small kisses turned into playful bites which transformed into her sucking lightly on the flesh, flicking her tongue out against the fazed skin every few seconds. The newly discovered confidence she now possessed was surprising but it was certainly the least of her worries. Much like every other thing that attempted to invade her thoughts that wasn’t the girl stood before her. Her hands traveled along Penelope’s sides until she reached the curves of her hips. One finger slithered through her belt loop, hooking around the material and forcing her closer while her other hand softly caressed the sliver of skin that was exposed just between where her bottoms and top met. 

“Oh, woah. More it is— Jesus..” The switched positions were welcomed by Penelope with a sultry, high-pitched sigh when Josie’s lips met her skin. Even if she knew that the other girl naturally demanded control, she was pleasantly surprised to see Josie taking the reins between them. In a tiny way, it provided some sort of reassurance that the other girl was just as into whatever their warped relationship was as she was. In a much bigger way, the display only made Josie all the more attractive— almost intoxicating. She craned her neck for the other girl to expose more skin for her to do as she pleased with and bit down on her bottom lip to keep any noises from escaping her, save for the occasional sharp intake of breath whenever Josie worked on a particularly sensitive spot on her neck. It only occurred to her then that Gabe was just down the hall while they were engaged in a heated make-out session, but instead of it coming off as a threat she only grew more excited by the mere idea of potentially getting caught. Penelope allowed one of her hands that rested on Josie’s shoulders to wander down and around her frame until it reached her ass to give it a firm, encouraging squeeze for the younger girl to continue. Even with Josie’s hand on her bare skin she didn’t know how far Josie wanted things to go, or how far they could even bring things in the middle of her kitchen. At this rate, however, Penelope knew that she’d give in to whatever Josie wanted.

Chapter Text

“Can you walk me out?”

The remainder of their evening had consisted of light heart interactions, Josie watching on as Gabe and Penelope exchanged playful banter as if they’d known one another for years and the two girls falling into a comfortableness that had foreign to them for a while now. But now it was getting rather late and Josie knew she needed to head back before curfew.

Throwing caution to the wind, emerald and chocolate gazes finally connected while she spoke with sudden seriousness.

“I wanted to talk about something with you real quick in the back. Promise we won’t argue.” The last word was emphasized with Penelope wiggling her brows suggestively and puckering her lips, a small chuckle escaping her when she relaxed her arms to allow Gabe to step away from her. Thankfully, his back was to Penelope. “If she tickles you, she’s ticklish too. Or scream loud. I got your back.” The boy warned Josie by gently tugging her arm down towards him until her ear was level with his mouth, whispering conspiratorially before he sent a doe-eyed glance at a mildly puzzled Penelope. When he left the kitchen the taller witch stepped forward, waiting for Josie’s response. “What was that?”

“It was nothing.” Brushing it off with a sinister smirk, she leaned against the nearby wall, folding her arms over her chest as she did so. Remembering what Penelope said beforehand, her attention returned shortly to the topic at hand. The serious tone the older girl possessed clearly implied that it wasn’t just to get her alone for what she liked to deem, funny business. Josie really had no clue what Penelope wanted to talk about; her mind tried to process what it was that the girl wanted to tell her but she continued to come up short. Maybe it wasn’t anything serious but then again, what was the need to be so closed off? Not wanting to dwell into her confused thoughts, she took Penelope’s hand and began leading the two of them through the back patio door and into the yard.

Josie’s eyes immediately landed on the hammock in the distance, causing her to drop the hand in hers and skip over it. Her first instinct was to hop into it, but not trusting herself to not embarrass herself, she settled for simply leaning against the edge of it. “So, what’s up, Park?” 

The entire walk to the backyard felt like a blend of a death march and victory lap. Winging it was a terrible idea. MG and Hope had a marvelous plan in hindsight, but not so much now. Penelope underestimated just how much she cared about this conversation happening. Nothing that she came up with seemed to make any sense, but then again, the entirety of their relationship was currently surrounded by ambiguity. There was nothing else to expect.

What am I gonna fucking say? Just outright blurt out how stupidly in love I am? Put my heart on the line just for it to be possibly stomped on? ’ She thought helplessly while trudging along a bit behind Josie. Words were leaving her by the second. It wasn’t due to panic, but rather that she felt like anything she thought through wasn’t sound enough.

By the time she met Josie at the hammock, slight frustration contorted Penelope’s face into a small grimace. She didn’t want to make a fool of herself, she knew that she could do better than the crap ideas brewing in her head.

“Nevermind. Forget it. It’s fucking stupid,” the brunette mumbled dismissively while plopping down onto the hammock with ease. It swayed from side to side while she opened her arms and wiggled her fingers.

“C'mere.” Though her expression softened significantly, the faraway look in her eye was still present.

Penelope’s complete 180 completely threw the brunette for a loop. The girl had seemed to honestly want to talk to her about something just a few minutes ago and now she wanted her to forget it? Impossible.

Shaking her head, Josie moved away from the hammock to completely glance at the other, a perplexed expression over taking her features. Josie really didn’t want to pry but she couldn’t just let it go either. Not without at least knowing what it was about first and certainly not when it was so obviously written on Penelope’s face that whatever the potential discussion was still was weighing heavily on her mind. 

“It’s not stupid to me.” Climbing carefully on the hammock, Josie made sure to keep her balance and prevent it from swaying too haphazardly as she took a spot on the opposite end of it. 

“No cuddling until you tell me what’s going on.” Her eyes found the pair across from her, attempting to portray that she was indeed completely serious and wasn’t going to let up that easily. “Talk to me.”

Apparently Penelope heard the complete opposite of what she was hoping to hear, because by the time the hammock stopped swinging her expression was already hardened with discomfort once more.

“Dude, that isn’t a fair deal. I don’t think you’re gonna wanna cuddle after I bring it up.” The older girl ran a hand through her hair habitually and stared straight into brown eyes that always seemed to take her somewhere else.

Josie didn’t look like she was going to loosen up any time soon, but at least she was nice about it. She needed to get it over with. She felt like a complete moron for short-circuiting at the very last second when she was the one to build it up so high. Silently inspecting the weaving on the hammock for two minutes straight was suddenly the most interesting in the world. 

Penelope sighed again while she tried to sift out what she thought didn’t sound too stupid to say out loud. “I fucking wish I could say all this better, but bear with me here. For starters, I like you. I guess that’s like saying the sky’s blue, but whatever, I do.” She began, lifting her gaze to meet Josie’s as she shifted to sit up a bit. “I know we’ve been here before but after the last time, you’re literally all I can think about.” She paused.

“You told me that you didn’t trust me; warranted but I’ve tried to gain that trust back. I’ve tried to prove to you that I’m here and this is what I want. You are what I want… I feel like I’m getting whiplash from this whole ‘come here, go away’ trip we keep putting one another on and as much as we try to ignore it, there’s something here and we don’t even need to put a label on it. Unless you want to. Or don’t.” A hand was held up like she was swearing an oath when she added to the end of her statement hastily. 

“So.. there’s that…” Her brows furrowed distastefully at how she said such things with the rare formality that Penelope exhibited, but she pressed on. “But I just have to make it know that…I want you in every sense of the word and it kills me that you’re still with Rafael. It kills me literally every day, even just thinking about it. I know what I said before but I’m not okay with it, I can’t be okay with it. Not when he has the one thing that I don’t.”

Penelope’s eyes drifted for a moment as she cleared her throat, more puzzled by the fact that Josie seemed more unaffected than anything by everything that she laid out for the younger girl. A measured look was sent the other’s way to gauge her reaction once more.

“…What I mean is that like.. ..” It was now or never.

“I don’t know how deep your feelings run for him but if you at least can tell me that we would never happen, that he’s the person you want to be with and what you feel for him in no way compares to whatever you feel for me, just let me know now because I…”Squeezing her eyes shut, she blurted it out as recklessly and inhabited as she was. “I’m…in love with you. And that, what happened just now, you can’t tell me that it would have if you didn’t remotely feel the same.”

Things had been confusing enough for her without the added pressure of weighing in Penelope’s feelings too. Maybe from the start she should have considered the girl’s feelings, knowing that it wasn’t Josie that was the only one in this “situationship” but now having the prospect of more being added to the mix was a little much.

As Penelope’s eyes fixated on the girl across from her, it seemed like such a small thing to Josie when it was basically all Penelope could think about since dinner. The scales were tipping now, that her feelings for Josie were much stronger than she let herself think. More than Josie thought. Of course there was the time Penelope slipped up in the text but Josie never thought she’d own up to it and now that she had…woah.

“I – uh.”

“You don’t have to say anything now.”

“No, I do.” Josie ran a nervous, shaky hand though her hair. “If you must know, I’ve been thinking on how to break up with Raf for the past two days.” She let out a nervous giggle.

“Even spending a few days alone with him wasn’t enough to stop me from thinking about you. I honestly tried not to, his gesture was sweet but all I kept thinking about was how I wanted you to be the one that I was with, not him.”

“Especially after the dream I had the other night.” Before Penelope could say anything, Josie held up a hand to halt her. “And I’m not mad – I knew it was you so I…said what I said to give you a little persuasion to tell me. And I’ll say the same thing now.”

“Penelope Park, I am hopelessly, utterly and stupidly in love with you. I love you more than cinnamon cookie lattes on a cold day, I love you more than Kaleb loves that damn car he got for Christmas and I definitely love you more than I’ve ever loved anyone else in this world. I love you and only you.”

“This has been a roller coaster ride for the both of us and I know I haven’t made it easy in the slightest bit. I judged you for running and being scared but so was I….but I’m done running. I want you.”

 

Chapter Text

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: So I had a *dream* about her last night, idk why 2031 is already doing me dirty.

MY OTHER HALF: *dream*….?

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: *DREAM*

MY OTHER HALF: BUT WHY THE EMPHASIS

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: Omg! Just ignore the emphasis!

MY OTHER HALF: Oh okay lmao but yikes. Why is the universe doing you dirty in the beginning of the decade? What was it even about?

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: *insert face palm emoji*

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: Sex, MG...hence the emphasis. 

MY OTHER HALF: YOU SAID IGNORE THE EMPHASIS

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: Because I didn't wanna have to explain it!

MY OTHER HALF: MAAM I HAVE ZERO BRAIN CELLS, ARE WE SHOCKED YOU HAD TO EXPLAIN IT

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: Tbh I actually am. -.-

MY OTHER HALF: Lmao...well then. Whew.

MY OTHER HALF: Wait, aren't ya'll like...a thing now?

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: Er, yes and no.

MY OTHER HALF: Excuse?

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: Like things were said but nothing has been done about it...even though I broke up with Raf last week. 

MY OTHER HALF: EXCUSE?

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: WHAAATTT??

MY OTHER HALF: Ignoring the fact you didn't tell your best friend this but what are you waiting for then?

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: What is she waiting for?

MY OTHER HALF: You, mayhaps???? The ball doesn't always have to be in her court. Woman up, Josette. 

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: Don't Josette me, Milton.

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: I'm new to this, I don't even know how to approach the subject.

MY OTHER HALF: Take her out on a real date and then BOOM

MY OTHER HALF: I mean you're already thinking of having her lady babies, this should be the easy part.

DAS MY BEST FRANNN: SHUT. UP.

MY OTHER HALF: I think I like the sound of Uncle MG a lil bit. 

MY OTHER HALF: Say it, it rolls off the tongue so nicely.

 

Josie switched her phone onto silent with a huff as she placed the phone face front on the bed. She didn't have time for this.

 


 

“Look. S’not fair of me to ask you to not sleep with anyone else when we’re not exclusive even the slightest bit. You asking me for us to not cut off what we’re doing was just that…us continuing doing what we’re doing without the interference of everything else before tonight, although those things are still there.” Chocolate orbs finally found their way back to the other pair trained on her, offering a mild smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “I really don’t know what you want me to say here, Penelope. I know that it isn’t just about sex with us but truly, if I can’t fulfill your every need, why jeopardize everything else? I won’t be mad or upset or whatever it is that you’re overly contemplating. And I know that’s not what you asked but I hope it suffices.”

If Penelope couldn’t outright come to the decision on her own that she didn’t want to see anyone else, Josie wasn’t going to force her to. It wasn’t as though they were ‘playing for keeps’, this whole ordeal was just a bit of fun for both parties. At least Josie kept reminding herself of that as to not get too attached. Her feelings were already too entangled in their relationship to even remotely try to pretend that she didn’t care as much as she did. Rolling her eyes at her own indecisiveness, the taller girl decided to retract what she’d said prior, and just be upfront. Honesty was probably the best policy in all of this. Her eyes bore into green eyes as she took a step forward so that they were only centimeters apart. “If you want the truth, in an ideal world, I would want you to not sleep around with anyone. I would want to be the only one that has your attention in that way and I would want you to want that too. I would want to be with you, Penelope. Be yours. But if you can’t do that, I get it. It’s fine.”

 

The ending of the dream startled Penelope awake. For some reason or another, the dream sequence always ended at that very moment. This had been the third or so occurrence in just under a week. Any other time, she wouldn’t be so bothered but why was this dream in particular so constant? Even now; after everything.

Removing the sleep mask from her eyes, she pushed the material atop her head as she sat up in her bed. Pulling her phone from the charger, she dialed the all too familiar number.

“Good morning, sleepy head.”

Not being in the mood for their bitchy banter, Penelope simply sighed.

“It happened again.”

Hope didn’t need an explanation.

“But it's not what happened in reality so don't sweat it so much. I think you’re just over thinking. Besides, word on the street is that she's having more than pleasant dreams about you.”

Penelope swung her legs over the side of the bed with an eye roll. “Don’t believe everything MG tells you.”

“You’re so against it. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you jumped into that dream too.”

“Shut up.”

There’s a long silence from both ends of the line. Hope didn’t know if she should speak or not but when Penelope remained mute, she decided to bite the bullet.

“Hey, you okay? I mean, what’s the real issue?”

“I’m scared.”

“Dude, you cannot pussy out now. Ya’ll are practically dating without the label.”

“I just don’t want to fuck anything up.”

There was that self doubt rearing it’s ugly head once again.

Josie had squashed all of Penelope’s insecurities, but for whatever reason, she just couldn’t shake them.

She’d always been so confident, especially so when it came to the girl department so it was a wonder to her as to why just the implication that this was something real made her the most terrified than she’s ever been in her life.

“For the first time, I finally know what it’s like to be in love. What it’s like to care about someone – to just want to be near them, hear their voice constantly, be better for them...Josie is….she’s everything amazing in this world, Hope and as much as I fucking can’t wait for this school year to end and to just be done with all of this high school shit, I’m also scared of what that means for her and I. I literally cannot fathom a future without her now and we haven’t discussed our post grad plans but I just…”

“P, breathe. You can’t imagine your life without her right? So do something about it.”

 


 

The clock on Josie's wall read 3 minutes until her last class of the day was set to end which meant within the next ten minutes, she'd stop by Kym's to use her espresso machine that she'd come to adore and obtained free all hour access to before retiring her room for the next few hours until she was due to meet everyone for their weekly game night.

However, Penelope couldn't wait that long which is how she found herself sat on Josie's bed, patiently (see: impatiently) awaiting her arrival after successfully convincing Lizzie to allow her to borrow her key. It was more so Hope's convincing that did the trick but semantics.

There was just something that she'd been thinking on all night and she knew that if she didn't act now and just go for it, she'd talk herself out of it and that just frankly, wasn't an option that she was willing to settle on. 

Glancing down at the arrangement, green orbs hovered over the rose petals sprawled onto the bed, the candles that glimmered and aligned the nightstand and the sounds of James Arthur's "Naked" playing in the background.

She vividly remembered Josie listening to the song on repeat after one of their many fights. Penelope had gone back to Josie's room to apologize but never got the chance to because she felt too much like shit to face her after hearing it so she just...stood there. 

Hearing a key jiggle in the lock, the raven haired girl quickly stood up, frozen, much like she had at that time. She couldn't believe that she was really about to do this.

As she smoothed out the cape that draped her shoulders, she made small strides towards the door just as it pushed open, revealing a very confused Josie.

"Why's it so dark in here?" She let out a nervous laugh as she moved to flicker on the lights but Penelope's hand on her own quickly halted that decision.

Josie squinted in the dim-lit room, taking in Penelope and how the candles illuminated around her which only created further confusion.

Her eyes maneuvered around the other girl and took in what she could see from where she stood. "Pen, what is all of this?" There was a twinge of nerves that laced her voice but she desperately attempted to keep it at bay.

Taking both of Josie's hands in her own, Penelope walked the pair of them backwards to the bed and gently sat Josie down next to her.

"I remember when I first transferred here, you were the first person that spoke to me on my first day, besides Hope anyway. I distinctly remember when I dislocated my shoulder during dodgeball in year 7, you were the only one who offered to help me to the nurse's office. I remember at our semi in year 10, when Lucas Feldmeyer tried to frame Jed and I for tagging the gym lockers during the dance and you stood up for us to Mr. Williams. That's just a few of the many things I remember about you and even with all of that, I still allowed outside opinions to influence my view of you and given even if I had given you a chance all those years back, we very well may not have ended up here so I'm not complaining about how this came about but I can't afford to waste out on any more time with you."

"I thought I was scared to admit to how I felt about you so I didn't but not telling you and almost losing you for good terrified the shit out of me, if I'm being completely honest. Knowing that one person has the ability to completely break you but can also make you the happiest in the world is such a weird concept. I never saw myself here, falling for someone - wanting to fall for someone and being completely okay with it but you are quite literally everything that I thought wasn't possible for me. Josette, I've never been more sure about anything in my life but I'm sure that I can't see a future without you. I want the good, the bad, the ugly, the sweet nothings, the late night drives, the early morning breath kisses; I want everything that it entails to be with you because I love you. So much. I love you with all of my obnoxious, selfish, evil heart."

Penelope's smile matched the one across from her which was now beaming widely.

"Josette Olivia Saltzman, would you please do me the honors of being my girlfriend?"