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for what it's worth (i still love you)

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Nico Minoru and Penelope Park have been best friends since birth.

Their parents had created a tech company together called Minoru-Park Industries (or Wiz-Tech). As the company grew, they began to expand to different locations. At a young age, Penelope’s family decided to open a branch in the east coast, causing them to move to Mystic Falls, Virginia, while Nico had remained in California. Regardless of the distance, the two had managed to stay in contact. Even growing up, they still managed to physically see each other during summer breaks or whenever their parents had to meet up for the company. When deciding on colleges, the two had ended up choosing the same university, leading Penelope to ask Nico to room together.

Given their history, Nico agrees. What better way to experience college than with your best friend? Nothing could possibly go wrong.

 


 

 


“Nico I need you to seduce Josie’s new girlfriend.” Penelope is red-face, breathing heavily as she stands at the door to their shared dorm room, and it takes a second for Nico to react to her best friend.

“Come again?” Nico crosses her arms, not believing the words that had come out of her friend’s mouth. 

“I need you to seduce my ex-girlfriend’s new girlfriend” Penelope repeats, shutting the door behind her and walking over to sit on Nico’s bed.

“Right, okay. Did you hit your head on the way here?”

Here’s the thing, Penelope Park is in love with Josie Saltzman. Present tense. However, she had a tendency to ruin anything good in her life, leading her to where she was now. Single and sad and all because she thought she was doing something good for Josie. All she wanted was for her to recognize her worth and stop placing everything, including their relationship, second to her twin sister, Lizzie Saltzman. Breaking up with Josie was the only way she saw fit to helping her grow from the codependency.

And Nico knew that. She is well aware of how much Penelope cares for the people she loves and how stubborn she can be. However, she was not about to get sucked into a plan of hers that could end up hurting her more than helping.

“P… I don’t think that’s—” 

“Please.” Penelope begs, she lowers her head, making the best puppy dog eyes so she could to convince the small girl to help her out. 

“No” Nico stands her ground, “I have never even met your ex-girlfriend because she refuses to be in the same room as you.” 

“And what does that have to do with anything?” 

“Read my lips P, I am not going to help you steal her new girlfriend” Nico states as Penelope sighs lying next to her on the bed, “why don’t you just talk to her?” 

“You say that like I haven’t been trying too for the past couple months” Penelope groans, “But she stopped hanging out with our mutual friends, which ironically includes Lizzie, and apparently, she is never home because she is always out with her tall, annoyingly blonde girlfriend. Ugh, even Lizzie doesn’t like her.” 

Nico is aware of the pain on her best friend’s place but she shakes her head. No, she wasn’t going to help. Maybe the best way to avoid getting sucked into a Park plan was to ignore the her completely. 

“Nico please” Penelope pleads, “I’m just kidding about the seducing part, all I really need you to do is distract her girlfriend long enough so I can speak to Josie.”

“Or you can wait until she’s not with her girlfriend?” 

“You literally just pointed out the fact she can’t be in the same room as me. So, what makes you think I can catch her alone? And according to Lizzie, they are literally always together. She spends all her time with her and her friends and sometimes she even sleeps at her dorm!” Penelope whines, her heart breaking at the thought of Josie being intimate with someone else. “And she has done a great job at avoiding me because it has been three weeks since I have been able to even see her.”
Honestly, Nico couldn’t blame Josie for not wanting to speak to Penelope. She remembered the night they broke up and Penelope had called her afterwards. They talked the entire night, well more like, Penelope cried while Nico tried her best to comfort her. The worst part is, she knew the heart that her best friend had and the motives behind her actions, but she couldn’t help but understand where Josie was coming from. What she did was hurtful and wrong.

“Since when are you and Lizzie Saltzman buddy-buddy?”

Penelope was clearly not in the mood for jokes, as she continued to stare at Nico pleadingly “Please Nico, I just want to talk to her” she states, her usual cool demeanor replaced with one of complete dejection.

Nico stays quiet, at this rate, she was ready to give in but she had to fight it. A plan like this just screamed trouble. “You’re the only one who will help me,” Penelope whimpers, her voice cracking. Damn it.

“Ugh, fine” Nico agrees. On a normal day, she probably would’ve been able to resist Penelope’s antics but also if she had said no, she would never hear the end of it. Not to mention, most of Penelope’s friends were friends with Josie and they would definitely be against her trying to contact her ex.

“Thank you thank you thank you” Penelope exclaims, jolting up to hug the short girl. “You won’t regret it!”

Nico doesn’t know if she believed that because deep down, she was already regretting it.

 


 

 

Karolina Dean and Josie Saltzman had met each other in their Women’s Studies class during the first day of school. Josie had inching to branch out, especially after she who shall not be named had broken her heart. The first step was taking different classes from her all her friends, including her twin sister, Lizzie Saltzman. When they heard, she enrolled in a women’s studies course instead of taking philosophy with them, they were shocked, especially Lizzie.

The thing is, Josie knew her friends would have sided with her post break-up, especially if Lizzie had anything to do with it, but it didn’t feel right to her. They were friends with Penelope too and she did not want to be the reason why they all fall apart. It wasn’t fair to any of them. Coming to college pushed her to make a change and the first step was taking different courses, which allowed her to meet Karolina Dean and befriending her felt like taking a breath of fresh air.

That day they met, Karolina had overslept her alarm, and when she arrived to class, it was basically already over. She looked to find the friendliest face she could and asked her for notes and that person so happened to be Josie, and the pair hit it off. Within the next few weeks, Josie had fit well into her crew of friends which included, Chase Stein, Alex Wilder, Livvie Alexus, and Xavin Xartan. 

“So we should come up with a backstory, right?” 

Karolina looks up from her laptop, happy to have an excuse to stop doing homework (her head was starting to hurt from staring at her laptop for too long).

“For the study, right?” Karolina responds, spinning around her chair to face the brunette. 

“Yeah, we should come up with our love story” Josie laughs, shutting her laptop. The last thing she wanted to do was her essay.

“Honestly I haven’t even thought much about it” Karolina responds, she picks up the flyer that had been laying on her desk and walks over to sit next to the brunette. 

 

(the flyer): 
PAID RESEARCH OPPORTUNITY
Romantic Couples Study
You and your partner are eligible to participate if you:
• Are in a committed, monogamous romantic relationship
• Have been dating for at least six months
• Are currently living together
• Are both over the age of 18”

 

**Two weeks ago**

Karolina Dean is poor. Well not exactly poor, she did come from wealth. Her mother runs the Church of Gibborim and her father is a famous actor. So, money has never been a problem for her until she had come out to her parents. It was senior year of high school and she didn’t want to take Chase to prom. In fact, she was planning on going with Xavin, which finally gave her the courage to tell them and they reacted terribly. In fact, they decided to stop providing for her, until she decides to be ‘normal’ again. Luckily for Karolina she had applied for different scholarships, that helped pay for tuition and housing. However, she still needed money for other necessities, such as groceries. That is why she has been working at Timely’s, a coffee shop on campus right next to her dorm.

One day she was leaving Timely’s when she passed by an advertisement on a board, the ones that people don’t normally pay attention too. When she saw a paid research opportunity, she quickly grabbed the flyer and texted all her friends to meet up at Timely’s. Maybe one of them would be willing to do it with her. When she brought the idea up to them, they thought she was just joking but when they saw she was being serious, they got quiet. The problem was that, Alex and Livv were already in a relationship. Xavin had just started seeing someone new and did not want to risk their relationship. Leaving Chase, and although he was able and willing, Karolina knew she couldn’t pass of as a heterosexual, even if she tried too. Also, Chase and her had become like brother and sister, so that would just be straight up weird. Pun intended.

Karolina sighs, feeling defeat. It’s okay. It probably was too much work anyways.

“I could do it” Josie speaks up, turning her glance towards Karolina.

“Wait what?” Karolina’s eyes open wide, the pair had only been friends for a few months and she was the last person Karolina thought would agree to help her.
“Yeah, I mean I’m single and the last person I dated was literally satan incarnate and if you ask nicely Dean, I know for a fact you’d be an amazing girlfriend” Josie responds calmly, with a slight close-lipped smile. Was she flirting with her? This definitely caught Karolina off guard. It’s not that she wasn’t attracted to the brunette, it was just out of the blue. 

“I-” Karolina stammers. What was happening? Was this really happening?  

“Hold up, you’re not straight?” Chase questions, interrupting Karolina’s, causing Livv to hit him. “Ouch Livv what was that for?” he mumbles, glaring at her. 
“There you go again with your binary assumptions on sexuality, it outdated Chase” Xavin responds with that irritated tone she uses whenever Chase accidentally says something offensive. He mumbles a quick apology.

“It’s fine” Josie smiles, “I’m actually pansexual” 

There is a couple oh’s brought around the group of friends, except for Karolina who remained quiet.
“I think you broke her Josie” Alex says, all eyes turning to face Karolina, whose cheeks are heating up at the attention. 

“You’d really be willing to date me?” Karolina asks softly, eyes looking expectantly at Josie as she fidgets with her fingers.

“I could do a lot worse than having Karolina Dean as my fake girlfriend” Josie laughs, “Besides, we get money out of it and if my ex so happens to see us together being happy, well that wouldn’t be such a bad thing” 

“Wow those are your real motives Saltzman, dating me to make your ex jealous” Karolina brings a hand to her heart, feigning hurt, “I feel so used.” Josie nudges her, but hearing Karolina joke about the situation made them both feel less embarrassed.

“So we’re really doing this, huh” Karolina questions. Josie nods which causes the blonde to stand up, she holds her hand out for Josie to grab, “Josette Saltzman would you do me the honor of being my fake girlfriend?” 

“I would love too.” 

 

 

“Do you think they’ll know if we don’t live together?” Karolina asks.

“We can tell them that we were supposed to dorm together but my sister and I had to pair up” Josie suggests, “and since you don’t have a roommate, we'll tell them that I usually spend my time at your place, which won’t even be a lie.”

 “Okay that works” Karolina agrees, “so how long have we been dating? Especially since we attended different high schools in different states.” 

“The flyer states that we should have been dating for at least six months, so let's say that we met through a mutual friend during winter break? I did visit California during the winter and have pictures to prove it, we can say that we met in person one other time before we ended up coming to college together.” 

“How about your ex-girlfriend?” Karolina questions.

“You don’t have to worry about her, she was never into social media so there is no proof we dated and this is only for the study so I don’t think any of my friends are going to hear about it” Josie states. 

“Hmm okay. That was easy.” Karolina gets up to grab a drink from her mini-fridge, “So this Thursday afternoon at four? I end my shift at three but I think I’ll come home first and change. The last thing I want to do is go in smelling like sweat and coffee beans.”

“Sounds like a plan fake girlfriend.” 

Chapter Text

“Okay, so my source tells me that Josie has been dating her girlfriend for a few days now and my only question is how? I mean how did they meet? Who made the first move? Was it the blonde, cause knowing Josie, she’d never be so bold. Unless… ugh none of it makes any sense. All Lizzie knows is that they are meeting for this couples study this Thursday at four, which is what’s bothering me because why would Josie do that with her. I saw the flyer and the study states they have to have been dating for six months, which I know is a lie.” Penelope rambles, causing Nico to groan. It had been a few days since she last agreed to help Penelope and ever since then, all she could talk about was Josie this and Josie that. At this point, she was ready to find this Josie girl and bring her to her dorm. Maybe then it would shut her up. 

“That is literally tomorrow, so I was thinking that is the best time to get her. I’m working on my plan right now. Also, did you know that her girlfriend works at Timely’s, the coffee shop near the West Library on the other end of the school? Maybe we can do some recon beforehand, so you can see her but I don’t know when she works. I could try and ask Hope.” It wasn’t that Nico didn’t care for what Penelope had to say, it was the fact that she’s been saying the same things for the past couple days and it was starting to get annoying. 

“And today Josie finally updated her instagram and she looks so stunning, I-” Penelope continues before she is interrupted by a knock on the door. Oh, thank the heavens. Nico jolts up and rushes to open it. 

“You’ll never guess who I just saw,” a purple haired girl with clear eyeglasses walks into the room. “And by never guess I mean I want you to guess.” 

“Gertrude Yorkes, I have never been happier to see you in my entire life” Nico exclaims.

“Shut up, you’re always happy to see me” Gert smirks before turning her attention to Penelope laying on her bed, “oh hey Pen, I didn’t know you’d be here.” 

“I literally live here Gert. Why wouldn’t I be?” Penelope raises her eyebrow in confusion. Gert only smiles in return. 

“I just thought you’d be out stalking your ex-girlfriend.”

Penelope scoffs as her comment, “just like you stalk that lacrosse boy from your high school.”

Gert’s eyes narrow before breaking out into a grin, “Touché Park. But to be fair, I used to stalk him, as in past tense. I’m pretty sure the drool on your face is from seeing Josie’s instagram post.” Penelope’s mouth drops as Gert walks over to her bed and sits down, making herself comfortable.

“You can’t just come in here and insult me then lay comfortably on my bed” Penelope groans, having to shift to the other side, “Also, why bother my space when Nico’s bed is right there?”

“Because, unlike Nico, your bed has softer pillows,” Gert grins, grabbing one of the pillows from under the raven-haired girl’s head.

“So what exactly are you doing here?” Nico questions, walking back to her bed.

Nico and Gert had been friends since elementary school. When they both decided to attend the same college, Nico was beyond relieved. Don’t get her wrong, she was glad to have Penelope but honestly there was only so much of her she could bear. When Gert first met Penelope, Nico was scared that the two would not get along. Hence why she waited until college to introduce them to one another. They both had very strong personalities and Gert has never done well with ‘popular’ girls, especially since high school, and it didn’t help that Penelope screamed head bitch. But boy was she wrong, the minute they got to talking, they had connected like lost best friends who had been separated for years.

“I have exciting, potentially life changing news. Well the only person it concerns is Nico but I guess you can hear about it too Park,” Gert says, nudging her shoulder playfully.

Penelope rolls her eyes, “Just get to the point Gertie.”

“Don’t call me that.” Gert glares at the girl next to her.

“Gert just tell us,” Nico pleads, her curiosity getting the best of her. What could she possibly say that would be so life changing?

“Can you at least try and guess?” Gert asked annoyed. 

Irritation flickers across Penelope’s face, “Just tell us Yorkes!”

“Fine, just know you both ruin all the fun” Gert says, she turns her head, meeting Nico’s eyes, who was anxiously waiting for whatever news her friend had that concerned her.

“I just saw Karolina Dean.”

 

Karolina Dean. Now that is a name Nico hasn’t thought about in a while, but now that Gert had said it out loud, it began flooding her brain with memories of her that she had tried so hard to push down. Her deep blue eyes and long blonde hair. The way she smiled and glowed. Like literally radiates. And don’t get her started on—

“Who the hell is Karolina Dean?” Penelope asks, interrupting Nico’s thoughts, her eyes locking on short girl in front of her.  

“Nico’s first and probably true love” Gert smirks, causing Nico to turn red.

“No way. Are you serious? Nico ‘I hate love’ Minoru was in a relationship?” Penelope narrows her eyes at Nico, “Please say more Gertie.”

“I said don’t call me that Penny” Gert rolls her eyes as Penelope gasps.

“You know I hate that nickname” Penelope responds.

“Okay please stop. First of all, we weren’t in a relationship,” Nico looks between Gert and Penelope, “and second of all, I’m done talking about it.”

“You just don’t want to admit you are madly in love with her,” Gert accuses, knowing that the black-haired girl only ever had eyes for the blonde.

“IN LOVE?” Penelope raises her voice, “and I’m just now hearing about this?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Nico huffs, turning away from the two to focus on the TV that was still playing in the background.

“No, no,” Penelope stands up from her bed and walks over to Nico’s side of the room, taking a seat in front of the TV, right before Gert manages to shut it off with the remote on Penelope’s bed, “You don’t get to hear me cry and whine about my ex-girlfriend, especially when there is a girl out there that you have your sights on.”

“Seriously, it’s nothing” Nico fights the urge to leave the room, if there is one thing she hates more than confrontation, it’s being cornered about her feelings. Not to mention, the last thing she needed was Gert saying anything that would trigger old emotions.

“It’s not nothing” Gert continues, causing Nico to roll her eyes, “she’s been in love with her ever since middle school and she’s the reason I ended up tutoring Chase in the first place,” she pauses and looks over to Nico who is now glaring at her. 

“Okay, tell me more” the raven-haired girl tilts her head and looks from Gert to Nico. “C’mon you can’t stop there.” 

“Well you know that Nico and I attended different high schools. I went to Atlas Academy with Karolina and Chase, Nico attended this private tech school with her sister, Amy. For the most part, we all ran in different circles. So then, after the divorce, Nico’s mom started getting close with Chase’s mom," Nico groans. “But because they were close, Chase would be at her house more often and since Karolina and Chase were best friends, sometimes he would bring her along to special events and parties. And Nico being Nico, she didn’t get along with Chase as well as Amy did, so whenever they played games, Karolina would keep her company,” Gert smiles, “and ever since then, the blonde had had her heart.”

“Not gonna lie, that story was a bit vague Gertie. How did she fall in love? What did she say?” Penelope sighs before fixating her glance back to Nico, “and you’ve liked this girl since middle school but I’m just now hearing about this?”

“It’s complicated” Nico responds. She could see the sadness that seemed to linger in Penelope’s eyes and she understood why. Penelope had been open with her about everything from the start, from when she decided to come out to when she first realized she was in love with Josie. Nico couldn’t help but feel guilty for never telling Penelope about Karolina, but it was because she was scared, especially during that time in her life. By the time she got the courage to accept herself, Karolina wasn’t there anymore so there was no point to mention her.

“You know what I have always wondered, why you never made a move on her? Especially after I told you she had come out.” Gert speaks up.

Nico remains quiet, she hates herself for knowing that piece of information because that was the first reason she pushed Karolina away. Assuming she was straight and having a crush on her was the scariest feeling she has ever felt, and having parents like hers never made it any easier. So, she allowed her insecurities to win and pushed Karolina as far away as possible and eventually the two had stopped talking to each other. The day Gert had told her that Karolina came out was the same day Chase had told Amy that he would be taking her in to live with him and his mom.

All she wanted to do was see her, just to make sure she was okay but she lost all courage to do so. She even tried sending a message but nothing ever seemed right. How could she speak to her? They weren’t close anymore and she was the one to push her away. At some point, it was too late and ever since then she has tried her best to just forget her.

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Nico repeats, her head pounding from the stress of this conversation.

Gert and Penelope could definitely sense her frustration, however Penelope refused to let it go.

“Look Nico, I want to be upset that I am just now hearing about it, especially from Gert’s mouth and not yours. But I get it, middle school and high school was a hard time for you and it took everything from you to actually talk to me about it,” Penelope softly places her hand on Nico’s, “so it’s okay if you weren’t ready to tell me. I understand.”

Nico feels like shit. Here was her best friend forgiving her and being so understanding and yet, she still didn’t want to talk about it.

“I’m sorry P,” Nico says softly, “but thank you for understanding.”

Penelope smiles at her before it turns into a little grin, “however, what’s not okay is never allowing yourself a chance with her.”

“Penelope is right, you deserve a chance at love Nico” Gert adds on, “and I could help with that, she gave me her number and offered to hang out.”

“WHAT?” Penelope and Nico exclaim at the same time. Nico knew Karolina and Gert had met, but she didn’t know they were close enough to be exchanging numbers. In fact, Gert told Nico she’s only hung out with Karolina in person once because was always too busy doing something with her mom’s church to be hanging out with friends.

“Yeah, if you’d let me finish the whole story, she came into the café today while I was working.”

“You could’ve led with that Gertie” Penelope mumbles, “but now that we have her number, we can set her and Nico up.”

“YES.” Gert exclaims, “that sounds so perfect, right Nico?”

“It is perfect and I think I have an idea” Penelope smirks, a mischievous grin appears on her face. Nico can’t help but want to internally scream. This was the last thing she wanted to happen.

“You know what, the weather is so nice out, perfect time for a walk” Nico quickly gets up, “I’ll see you both later,” and before the two could even try to stop her, she is out the door.

 


**earlier that same day**

Karolina was the first to arrive to the coffee shop, which wasn’t unusual for her since she usually opens. Today was no different, the only thing missing was her coworker who regularly was there before her.

“Hey Dean, hold the door” a voice calls out. Karolina immediately turns around, eyes squinting, trying to make out the figure that is running towards her. 

“MG” she smiles.

“Look whose early” he leans on the door, breathing heavily, “ready to kill this shift?” 

“Always” Karolina assures him. Out of all the employees she’s worked with, MG was her favorite, and not just because they were usually always paired up to work together. He had a chill and funny vibe about him that Karolina adored.

They walk into the store together and begin to set everything up. Eventually the aroma of coffee had filled the air. Within the hour, the once quiet cafe was now a boisterous spot as students began to fill the lines. Karolina honestly loved working with MG because of how well they understood each other. They had a system that kept lines short and time go by faster. Finally, lunch time rolled around, meaning their shift had come to an end and luckily for them, their coworkers showed up on time, allowing for a smooth transition. 

“Hey Dean, I saw you skip break, are you hungry?” MG speaks up, catching up to the blonde girl before she walks out of the café, “did you want to grab lunch?” For the most part, the duo had only ever seen each other during work. Even though they shared many shifts and were always opening together, most of their relationship has been professional. Nevertheless, they had been getting close and honestly Karolina has been meaning to invite him out to meet her friends but never found the chance.

“I’ll never say no to food” Karolina speaks up excitedly, “do you know any vegan places?” 

“For sure!” MG responds, “there is this amazing sandwich place that is only a few minutes away.”“Sounds great.” 

Time passed quickly as the two bonded over their many shared interests. Karolina smiled as MG spoke about his love for comics, it actually reminded her a lot of Alex. She made sure to keep a mental reminder to invite him to the next game night.

“Here we are!” MG grinned, coming to a stop. Karolina looks at the sign, Southern Roots Bistro. “Come on, they have the best tofu egg salad sandwich and don’t tell anyone I told you this, but honestly their coffee is so much better.” 

Before Karolina had the chance to reply, MG had grabbed her hand and dragged her inside. The first thing that hit Karolina was the strong smell of coffee. It was a cute cafe with a few tables outside and some cozy couches inside. The tables and shelves contained some books and magazines for the customers to read and the overall feel gave the place a chill vibe. It was similar to Timely’s yet so different.

Luckily for the pair, it was pretty empty. Besides the workers, only two other customers were there. MG didn’t bother scanning the menu and walked straight up to the cashier to put in his order. Meanwhile, before Karolina could even look at the menu, her eyes landed on a familiar purple-headed girl with thick clear eyeglasses, who, in return, was also staring intently at her. Where did she know this girl from? After a few seconds, it hits her. Junior year of high school, Chase had started to fail Spanish class, which was never good considering his dad and all. Fortunately for him, he was able to pass the class with the help of a tutor. She didn’t remember how he met her but she could never forget because of Chase’s massive crush on her. She couldn’t wait to tell him but first she had to remember her name. 

“Dean!” MG calls out, breaking her out of thought. 

“Oh sorry” Karolina blushes. She looks up to quickly scan the menu before giving her order, “I’ll have the avocado toast and a chai latte please,” she hands her card to the cashier, eyeing her for a name tag. Gert. Before Karolina could even process what she was about to say next, her mouth began moving. 

“Hey, um so I know this is out of the blue, did you happen to attend Atlas Academy high school?” Karolina asks. Gert looks up, raising her eyebrow. She scans Karolina as realization hits her. 

“Yeah I did,” Gert tilts her head and narrows her eyes, “Karolina Dean? Right?” Gert swipes her card on the register. 

“Yeah the one and only” Karolina responds. At this point, MG had already gone to find them seats, leaving the two to talk. “I thought I recognized you. By the way I love what you’ve done with your hair.”

Gert blushes. For Gert, Karolina was always part of the unattainable. In high school, she was always idolized by many, it left a bad taste in her mouth. Molly and Nico used to tell her it was jealousy because she was so close to Chase. But could you blame her? It was typical. Pretty girl goes for the handsome lacrosse boy. I mean, she’s pretty and she glows. Like literally she is glowing in this light. No one should be that pretty. It took a few seconds for Gert to realize that she had not responded to the blonde, instead was just staring at her. 

“Anyways, I hope that wasn’t weird, I remembered you from when you tutored Chase in Spanish. That was really cool of you. I know Chase can be hard to get too but you did really great with him and he spoke so highly of you” Karolina rambles, this causes Gert to blush even more. Chase spoke about her? 

“It wasn’t weird at all,” Gert finally speaks up, she smiles at Karolina, “thanks for noticing the hair, I have always loved purple. And Chase wasn’t too bad, probably the best student I had that semester.” 

Karolina laughs, knowing that Gert was lying. She remembered Chase coming to her house after their sessions to talk about how badly he did and how embarrassed he was. Each time she had to force him to keep going, or else his grade would suffer. 

“Well it was really nice running into you” she pulls out her phone, “I don’t mean to be so forward but I would love it if we could hang out sometime”

“Really?” Gert speaks out, shocked. To her, this was completely out of the blue. Karolina golden child Dean wanted to hang with her? Sounds fake but okay.
“Yes, I mean, I know we only ever saw each other with Chase but I would love to get to know you better.”

“Well I won’t say no that,” Gert reaches over and grabs Karolina’s phone. She quickly types in her number than hands it back to her. “Make sure you use it Dean.”

“Count on it,” Karolina gives her one last smile before turning to find where MG had sat down. She takes out her phone and sends a quick text message.

 

After brunch with MG, she decided to go back to her dorm and change from her work outfit into something more comfortable. Since today was Wednesday, she didn’t have any classes scheduled, she had a free day. Not wanting to waste the day she ended up calling Chase to see if he would go workout with her. Then she could tell him the great news. 

“YOU DID WHAT?” Chase questions in a loud tone. Though she was not surprised by his manner, she thought he would be a bit more grateful. 

“I got her number and I asked if we could hang out.” Karolina repeats herself as she rests the bar back onto the stand, finishing her set of squats.

“So let me get this straight. You ran into Gert Yorkes and instead of telling me right away or waiting for me to even wrap my mind around the fact she goes here, you managed to ask her out? The one girl I have liked since high school.” Chase walks over to replace her under the squat stand. 

“First of all, it wasn’t a date” Karolina states, picking up her water bottle, “Second of all, I was trying to help you. I’m thinking of getting to know her, including her in the group, and then you can make your move.” 

Chase shakes his head, finishing his reps before he decided to speak again. “Karo, I love you but I didn’t ask you to do this. Nor do I want you to do this.” 

The thing about Chase and Karolina is that the two of them had basically grown up together. Their families have always been close and they have attended the same school since childhood. In fact, Karolina’s parents had always hoped they would end up together. Eventually high school had rolled around and Chase had been influenced by her parents to ask her out. That was the day Karolina had come out to him. 

When Chase first found out, he wasn’t mad or upset, which surprised the blonde. In fact, he was happy for her and from that moment their friendship had gotten even stronger. She remembered feeling free that she didn’t have to lie or tiptoe around him. He always looked out for her, as she was the sister he never had. So, when it came to what made Chase happy, Karolina made sure to always do what she could. Knowing he had a crush on her and wanting him to go for it was one of those things. 

“Look, I don’t know why you never asked her out in high school but now you have the chance!” 

Chase chooses not to respond and walks over to the bench press. 

“I mean, I came up with a solid plan” Karolina states “and I have her number, which I could totally give to you. She could be good for you Chase.” 

“Girls like her don’t go for guys like me.” Chase states sadly, setting up his weights. Karolina side-eyes him. What was he even talking about? It was obvious the girl was crushing on him. 

“Are you kidding me?” she scoffed, she knew Chase was slow but he wasn’t stupid.

“I’m serious Karo. Smart girls like her don’t go for dumb jocks like me,” he lays his back down on the bench press, before looking at Karolina. She rolls her eyes and walks over to spot him. 

“Chase you are more than just a jock and you are far from dumb. I also know you don’t mean that Chase” she says softly, “just promise me you’ll think about my offer. But until then, I won’t invite her to any group things unless you give me the okay.” 

“Thank you” Chase responds, beginning his reps. The last thing he needed was Gert Yorkes and her pretty eyes to stir up any old feelings.  

Chapter Text

“Josie, is this yours?” Lizzie questions her twin sister, “or does this belong to your new girlfriend?”

Confused as to what her sister was talking about, Josie looks up from her book to find her twin standing in front her, holding out the bright yellow cardigan. That’s when she remembers, Karolina had come over and watched movies the other day.

“Oh yeah that’s hers,” Josie responds, “you can go ahead and leave it on my bed.”

“So, speaking of her, where is your girlfriend?” Lizzie questions, throwing the cardigan onto her sister’s bed.

“I think she’s working” she states flatly, “why do you ask?”

“Well my dearest sister, you are rarely home because you spend all your time with her and yet, you still haven’t allowed me to meet her yet. So, I’m thinking it’s about time you we fix that.”

Josie groans. That was a terrible idea. She did not need her group of friends, especially her sister, dissecting Karolina. She was too pure to be put through that type of torture. Not to mention, she wasn’t even sure if she would be down to meet them. It’s not like they were really dating, they were faking it, but she was not about to tell her sister any of that. In fact, she had asked Karolina if it was okay if she let her own friends believe that they were together. The last thing she could handle was her sister judging her or worse, Penelope hearing about it.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea Lizzie,” Josie begins, “we just started dating, I don’t want to scare her off.”

“Nonsense Josie. Any girl who dates a Saltzman should be so lucky,” Lizzie walks over and sits on her bed, “and I miss you. I never see you anymore. All our friends are getting worried too, especially Hope, since you’ve been missing out on family dinners. I mean, the least you could do is bring her around one time. We would love to meet this girl who has won your heart, especially after everything.”

Josie knew she shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time for herself, but she couldn’t help it. Especially with her sister constantly at her neck for missing out on dinners and parities. However, it was just better for everybody if Josie stayed away. Post-break up, Penelope offered to stay away but then Hope would feel bad and the dynamic would just feel off. Coming to college was Josie’s time to make new friends and heal, which happened away from her old group of friends. And it wasn’t like any of them were going to miss her.

You see, her sister was dating Hope Mikaelson, who is Penelope’s best friend. And it wasn’t that Hope wasn’t also Josie’s friend, it was that she was closer to Penelope and the brunette didn’t blame her, since it was her fault.

The three of them (Hope, Josie, and Lizzie) had been friends when they were younger because their parents were close. When Josie started to realize her feelings for girls, one of them being Hope, she started to get scared. One night Lizzie had confronted her with being obsessed with a certain red-haired girl. Josie feared that her sister would judge her or worst, go after Hope herself, and win. This led to her lying and creating a wedge between Lizzie and Hope. Flash-forward to high school, with the twins and Hope not on good terms, it left room for Hope to get to know Penelope Park, and they have been best friends ever since.

When Penelope and Josie started dating, a group was formed, regardless of the tensions between Lizzie and Hope. After the break-up, Josie had drunkenly admitted to Hope the truth about what she did. Thankfully, Hope was understanding and flattered at the fact Josie had a crush on her. Lizzie, on the other hand, was furious with her sister. However, the pair eventually made up and that is when Lizzie had admitted to her that she would love to get to know Hope and make up for lost time. When the pair finally got together, right before college began, Josie was thrilled that her sister was finally happy. And that was the purpose she separated from the group. The last thing she needed was to be the reason why Lizzie and Hope didn’t work out.

“Why don’t you bring her out to a family dinner?” Lizzie smiles, breaking Josie from her thoughts. Family dinner only meant one thing. Penelope would be there. “C’mon Josie. Please. I’m sure your girlfriend would love to meet all of us.”

Josie sends her a warm smile, “Lizzie, I don’t think…”

“Please Josie, for me” Lizzie pouts, her eyes pleading.

“Will Satan be there?” Josie questions, even though she already knew the answer.

“She’s not so bad Jo,” Lizzie mumbles quietly, causing Josie to jolt her head. Did those words just come out of her sister’s mouth?

“Wow. I can’t believe it.” Josie responds, her voice shaky.

“Jo, you know that I am always-” Lizzie cries out, immediately regretting the words as they left her mouth.

“Hope has you so whipped, you’re actually warming up to Penelope Park.” Josie smirked, “who are you and what did you do with my sister?” she jokes, watching Lizzie turn bright red.

“Josie! That wasn’t funny!” Lizzie looks irritated at her twin sister, “You can’t scare me like that.”

“Right. I’m sorry” the brunette apologized, but the sparkle in her eyes was a clear indicator that she still found it amusing, “I’m glad you and Hope are in a good place, even if it does mean you’re warming up to Satan.” And Josie meant that, seeing her sister happy made her happy. 

“Just don’t forget I am a Saltzman first.” Lizzie reassures her sister, “so is that a yes to dinner?”

“Okay, fine I’ll come.” Josie responds softly and Lizzie engulfs her in a hug just before her phone rings. Lizzie then lets her go and answers the call, smiling. It was probably Hope, Josie thought to herself. She decides to tune her twin out while she was on the phone and focus on her readings. However, now her brain was riddled with stress, would she bring Karolina to meet them? Would Karolina be willing? Then there’s Penelope. What was she going to do when she sees her and Karolina?

“I have to go” Lizzie speaks out, interrupting Josie’s thoughts. Josie looks up and sees her grab her bag from the floor, “dinner is going to be this Friday at seven pm. I will text you the place when we figure it out. Okay, love you!”

Before Josie could respond, Lizzie was gone. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on her breathing, letting her thoughts consume her. The image of Penelope constantly running through her mind and driving her insane. Was she ready to face her? Honestly no, she was not and she now she was filled with dread. For months she had been able to successfully avoid her, and Penelope has given her the space to do so. However, she was now voluntarily setting herself up to see her. This was not going to end well.


**Thursday Afternoon (day of the study)**

Thursday had finally arrived and Karolina was nervous. She woke up feeling off, something about today just felt different. However, she kept reminding herself that this was going to be okay, she told herself. You’re doing this for money and better, you’re doing it with Josie, sweet, kind, loving Josie. Everything was going to work out. It has too.

 


Meanwhile Josie was freaking out. Tomorrow was the dinner and with Lizzie constantly reminding her of it, she knew there was no way out now. As she lay on her bed, she was left alone with her thoughts of seeing Penelope Park again, attempting to ignore the way her heart skipped a beat. She hasn’t even asked Karolina about dinner yet, however, she was already thinking of just going without her. Maybe they’ll believe she got pulled into work or she was sick, but then again, Lizzie would probably see right through her lies.

Ugh. At this point, all she wanted to do was lock herself in her room and not speak to anybody. But of course, she couldn’t because today was the day of the study and she didn’t want to let Karolina down. Especially knowing how important this study was to her.

3:30PM

She looks at her phone and sees that Karolina had sent her a text.

Karolina D
Just wanted you to know that I will be heading out in a bit! Can’t wait to see you :)

She smiles, her mind drifting to the blue-eyed girl. She couldn’t help but think about how beautiful and kind and honestly perfect Karolina was. If only she could have been the one to steal her heart, then she would not be hurt.

Josie Saltzman
Sounds good! Getting ready now, be there soon! :)

She gets up from her bed and quickly gets ready.

3:45PM

She finishes putting her hair in a ponytail and takes a deep breath before walking over to open her door. Josie freezes at the sight in front of her.

“Hey Jojo.”


**Thursday Morning**

Penelope woke up today in a surprisingly good mood. For the past week, she has been anxiously focused on one single thing and now it was about ready to happen. All she had to do was wait for Nico to get back from class. Speaking of Nico, once she speaks with Josie, she planned on helping her get with that Karolina girl. I mean, it was the least she could do.

“If you stare at that door any longer it might actually come off” a voice interrupts her train of thought.

“Shut up Hope,” Penelope rolls her eyes, throwing a pillow at the red-headed girl laying on her bed.

“What?” she says in a teasing tone, grabbing the pillow and tossing it back. “I don’t get why you have created this elaborate scheme when you know Lizzie is bringing her to family dinner tomorrow.”

“Because, I want to talk to her without Lizzie or her girlfriend there,” Penelope says. The truth is, she didn’t think her heart could handle seeing her be all cutesy with her new girlfriend.

“Are you sure she even wants to speak to you?” her best friend questions innocently.

“No, but I need to try Hope. I just want her to know that I never meant to break her heart. I need to be honest before I lose her forever” Penelope sighs and before Hope can respond, the door to their shared dorm room was opened.

Nico walks in and smiles at Penelope and Hope.

“Hey” she says before dropping her backpack on her desk and walking to the kitchen side of their dorm.

“Nico did I tell you that you look so beautiful today?” Penelope begins.

Nico rolls her eyes at the compliment because she knew already knew what Penelope was going to ask her for.

“Two things, where at and what time?” Nico asks, wanting to get straight to the point.

“So Hope said that Josie is going to meet her at four so you will be there a bit earlier. The plan is simple, distract the girlfriend, make sure she doesn’t come looking for Josie. The last thing I need is her interrupting us.”

“Okay” Nico responds, “how do you know they won’t arrive together?

“Hope told me that Josie is going to meet her there.”

“Alright, does she even have a name?” Nico raises her eyebrow. She doesn’t recall Penelope saying a name, it’s usually been ‘blonde girl’ or ‘josie’s girlfriend’ or ‘girl who ruined my life’

“I’m pretty sure she does, I just don’t know what it is” Penelope then retreats to her bedroom, realizing she never did get her name. Nico shrugs and continues to prep her lunch before returning to her desk.

“Josie never gave us a name” Hope says, eyeing Nico. “but I did see her once, she is really tall, pretty with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a kind smile.”

“So, you’re telling me the plan is that I have to stalk this research study to find a girl only based off your description and literally make sure she doesn’t go searching for her Josie? The least you could give me is a picture of her?” Nico says with an irritated tone, staring intently at Penelope.

“I can get you a picture” Hope responds, causing Nico tilts her head.

“Okay, since when did you get on board?” Nico questions, “and if you’re on board why am I still a part of this plan? Why can’t you do it? You’ve seen her before so you’ll know who to look for.” Nico frowns while staring at Hope.

Before Hope could respond, Penelope speaks for her.

“She just can’t Nico.”

“Why not?” Nico crosses her arms, eyes narrowing at the red-headed girl. Penelope tries to speak but Hope stops her.

“It’s because of Lizzie. She wouldn’t like us cornering Josie like this.” Hope sighs, “Also, the last time I tried to help Penelope with a plan of hers, Lizzie and I almost broke up. I do love you Peez but I can’t risk losing her.” Penelope looks at her with understanding and Nico sighs.

“Okay” she responds, her focus back on Penelope, “what exactly do you need me to do?” Penelope smiles at her.

“Okay so here’s the plan….”

 

 

Nico arrived at the research facility around three fifty and there was no sign of a tall blonde girl. To be fair, there was literally nobody there. She decided to wait outside of their doors rather than inside the waiting room, so she could see if anybody was approaching. After a few minutes, had gone by, no one had shown up. She couldn’t help but feel like a fool waiting outside the door. She then pulled out her phone and sent a quick text message to Penelope.

Nico Minoru:
It’s been almost fifteen minutes and nobody is here. If no one shows up in the next five minutes, I’m leaving P.

Hope was supposed to text her a picture of the girl but Nico just assumed she couldn’t get it out of Lizzie in time. It was already four o’clock when Nico finally got a text from Hope. About freaking time. However, before Nico could check her phone, one of the researchers had opened the door, surprising her.

“Excuse me? Are you here for the study?” he questions. She freezes. This was not part of the plan. Penelope said to distract the blonde but there was no blonde, instead there was a tall man with brown hair, who looked to be at least two years older than her.

“Um yeah, that’s me, I’m here for your 4’clock meeting.” Fuck. Stop talking Nico.

“Perfect! But just so you know this is a couple’s study,” he raises his eyebrow, especially since she was there alone.

“Yes, I am aware of that. My girlfriend is actually running late and should be here soon, I could wait for her right here, if that is what you want?”

“No it’s okay. If you want, you can come on back. This is just a preliminary meeting to get to know both of you and see your eligibility in our study.” Shit this wasn’t the plan.

“Sure! Sounds great” Nico mutters through her teeth, sending the man a fake smile.

When Nico entered the room, she waited until the guy had left her alone to view her messages.

Hope Mikaelson:
Her name is Karolina, here’s a photo from her instagram feed.

Karolina


As soon as Nico laid eyes on the photo her heart sank. This was not happening. She blinks and rubs her eyes before looking again to make sure it was who she thought it was, and sure enough, it was her. She wanted to scream. Oh no. No no no. This was not happening right now. She had to leave. She had to get out of there.

Nico quickly stood up from her seat just as the door had opened.

“Again, I am so sorry I’m late. Foot traffic was surprisingly heavy today. However, my girlfriend is also running late so we were actually looking to reschedule…”

“No need, your girlfriend is already here!” the guy responds to her. Karolina is taken aback. She swears she had just gotten a text from Josie saying she would be late. Maybe she was able to make it on time and the text was just a precaution. Karolina follows the researcher into the room and lays eyes on her ‘girlfriend’.

Nico?

The pair looked at each other, both in shock. Before they could say anything, the researcher spoke up.

“So first things first, I will need you two to fill out this form. Afterwards, we are going to have an interview process, just asking some general questions and getting information about your relationship. Once that is complete, you’re good to go. It’ll take about a week until we have our final decisions,” he hands them both a clipboard and a pen.

They both nod, taking the clipboards from him. Karolina walks slowly over to where Nico is and takes the seat right next to her, hoping to avoid suspicion. The last thing she needed was this blowing up in her face. Why didn’t she say anything? She could’ve easily told him that she wasn’t her girlfriend. What if Josie comes in? What if-?

“Hey,” Nico speaks up, interrupting Karolina’s thought process. Karolina looked around and saw that the guy had left them alone. She then turns to face Nico, trying to take it all in.

“Hi.”

“So um, I can leave and tell them that it was a huge misunderstanding,” Nico begins to get up, still gripping to the clipboard. “I’m pretty sure your real girlfriend will be here anytime soon.”

Karolina remains still, not knowing what to say. Nico takes her silence as a yes and begins to walk towards the door. “Nico wait” Karolina calls out her name. Nico stops mid-motion of turning.

“You remembered my name?” Nico asked. Honestly she was shocked Karolina remembered her after all these years.

“Of course, I could never forget you,” Karolina responds softly, taking a step closer towards the small girl. Nico stood still, her heart began to race. All she wanted to do was run. Out of all the people in this huge ass college, it had to be Karolina Dean standing right in front of her right now. Karolina Dean with her beautiful, soft, blue eyes. Karolina Dean who was dating Josie Saltzman. The same Karolina who she was attempting to distract so that her best friend would work on stealing back her ex-girlfriend. She was going to be sick.

“I… I have to go” Nico stutters, breaking the eye contact between the two, she tosses the clipboard onto a seat and sprints out of there, ignoring Karolina’s protests.

The only thing on Nico’s mind was finding Penelope Park and making sure she doesn’t ruin Karolina’s relationship.


“Hey Jojo.”

Josie freezes at the nickname, as she faces the figure in front of her, the first thing she notices are her dark emerald green eyes.

“Are you going somewhere?”

Josie stays quiet. No this is what we’re not about to do. 

“Cause if not, I was hoping we could talk.” 

Josie remains silent, but internally she was freaking out. JUST SAY SOMETHING. Anything. Say no or tell her to leave. Or better yet, shut the damn door.

“Jo...” Penelope takes a step forward. They were nearly inches apart. Josie felt her face heat up and her heart begin to race. 

“You need to leave.” Josie finally mumbles out.

3:50 PM

“I can’t do that.” Penelope responds, this causes Josie to scoff. 

“You’ve done it before you can do it again.” 

Ouch. Penelope felt her heart break. Okay she totally deserved that. 

“I just need a couple minutes of your time. Then I’ll go, I promise,” Penelope pleads, “please....”

Every bone in her body told Josie to run but she couldn’t. Not with Penelope looking at her like that. She knew this conversation was coming but she was far from ready to have it. Or was she?

“I promise, after this, I’ll leave and won’t bother you again,” Penelope says. Josie considers this and agrees. If this would keep Penelope away, then one conversation won’t hurt.

“Okay.” Josie gives in, she moves out of the way allowing Penelope to enter her room. 

As Penelope walks in, she notices how decorated the room was. She knows the differences in each twin’s style, so seeing Josie’s room not look like Josie had caught her off guard.

“Nice place”, she mumbles sarcastically.

Josie doesn’t notice her tone and responds, “It was mainly Lizzie who decorated.” 

“Of course she did” Penelope rolls her eyes. 

“Why are you really here Penelope?”

“To apologize for hurting you.” Penelope moves closer to her, “I am so sorry Jojo. For everything that has happened between us.”
Josie stays quiet, which Penelope accepts because at least she’s not kicking her out. “I miss you,” she continues to inch closely to the tall brunette. She stares into her hazel brown eyes before trailing down to her lips. Her breathing becomes uneven. All she could think about is wanting to close the distance between them. 

Josie stood still, fearing that if she moves it’ll be toward the green-eyed girl and not away. C’mon Josie, she told herself, you’re stronger than this. And yet, she didn’t push away, instead she found herself leaning closer.

RING RING 

The sound of Josie’s phone causes her to jolt away from Penelope, her eyes glancing at the time.

4:00 PM

Shit. Karolina. She quickly grabs her phone to read her messages. 

Karolina Dean:
Hey I'm running late but I should be there soon!

Crap. She knew how much this meant to Karolina but she couldn’t just kick Penelope out. I mean, she could but she didn’t want too. 

Josie Saltzman:
No problem! I’m actually running late too. Woke up with a bit of a headache. But I’ll be there soon :)

Karolina Dean:
No problem at all! If anything, I could always reschedule, they are interviewing this entire week, so just let me know. If anything, I can come over with some soup and we can binge watch queer eye :)

Josie smiles. How did she get so lucky to meet Karolina? 

Meanwhile, Penelope watched as Josie lit up at the sight of her phone. God if only those eyes were for her. 

“Sorry that was...” Josie trails off, not wanting to finish her sentence. “anyways, I have to go.”

“Wait Josie...” Penelope responds sadly, “before you go, please just hear me out.” Josie nods, allowing Penelope to finish. 

“I miss having you in my life and I know I fucked up and that you have every right to hate me... but I’m willing to do anything to win your trust back” Penelope takes a deep breath, “I want you in my life Jojo, if you’ll have me.”

For months Josie had longed for Penelope to come back and apologize. And for months, she had waited for this moment. After everything, Josie didn’t know if she wanted to kick her out or kiss her or both. She wasn’t sure of anything anymore.

“You broke my heart Penelope” Josie states defensively. “You don’t just get to come back into my life.”  

“I know” Penelope replied, “I completely understand.” Her heart was crushed but she completely understood where the taller girl was coming from.

“But you seem genuine and it has been a couple months since then, so I guess what I am trying to say is that I am willing to work on it.”

“Really?” she questions softly.

“Yeah, it’ll be easier on Lizzie and Hope if we can remain civil.”

Oh. Okay, ouch. Penelope honestly believed that she would be doing something for them, this one time, but no it had to be about Lizzie again.

“Seriously?”

“Yes. Lizzie wants me to come back to family dinners and for it not to be awkward anymore. Same with Hope, and I don’t want to us to be the reason they don’t work out. I have seen how Hope makes her feel and if Lizzie wants me back so badly, I think that patching up things between us would help with that.”

“Wow okay.” Penelope scoffs, “You still can’t see it huh?” 

“See what?”

“To this day, she still sucks the air out of every room you’re in.”

“Lizzie is my twin. We can share oxygen.” As Josie defends her sister, a pang of déjà vu hits her. They have had this conversation before.

“You have crawled so far down the codependence rabbit hole that you still think taking care of yourself is selfish, but it’s not. You don’t need to make peace with me for the sake of your sister.”

“I’m confused, isn’t that what you want too? For us to be good again? So, what does it matter that it benefits Lizzie and everybody else as well?”  

“That isn’t the point” Penelope shakes her head in disbelief, “Of course it’s what I want Josie. It’s what I have wanted for so long but is it what you want?” she pauses, staring intently at the brunette’s bright brown eyes, “tell me, what it is you want?

“That isn’t fair.” Josie whispers, clearly uncomfortable with the situation.

“Why?” Penelope let’s out an exasperated laugh, “it’s the truth.”

Silence hangs between them, and Penelope knows that she wasn’t getting anywhere with Josie, who looked as defeated as Penelope felt. She begins to collect herself, too tired to have the same fight over again.

“I should go” Penelope says, taking a deep breath, her lips trembling “I’m sorry to bother you.”

Josie looks completely misplaced, eyes looking anywhere but at the girl in front of her. Penelope begins walks past her towards the door. Not before stopping to speak one last time.

“I meant what I said Jo, I want us to be okay again, but not for the wrong reasons.”

Josie’s breath hitches, but she is unable to say anything back.

“Just let me know when you want the same thing.”

Josie turns around to watch the raven-haired girl leave, and her heart breaks all over again. She didn’t even know that was possible until now.

Chapter Text

Nico ran. As far as her little legs could take her. There were only two things on her mind. The first was to create as much distance between her and the research facility. The second was to make sure that Penelope didn’t get the girl.

God why didn’t she wear sneakers? 

She ran until she was in front of what looked like Josie’s dorm building. It’s not like she’s ever been but she remembered Penelope mentioning it, now if she could only remember the dorm number. 

2….22? 

She rushes to the door and knocks. Honestly she wasn’t even sure what she was going to say when she saw them.

“Nico?” She is met with a green-eyed girl about her height.

“Damn it,” she grumbles, “where’s Penelope?”

Hope stares at her confused, “I don’t know.” 

“Where is Josie’s dorm?”

“Why do you need Josie’s dorm number? What’s going on Nico?” 

Nico shakes her head. “Forget it,” she responds before running off to another room. 223, 224, 225, 226, 227, 228.

228. That sounded right. Before she could even process what she was about to do, she walked up to the door.

The door is immediately opened before Nico could knock and she is face to face with a tall, teary eyed brunette.

“Y-yes?”

“I-” Nico begins, not knowing what to say, “are you okay?”

“I-I’m fine” Josie responds, she raises her eyebrow, “do I know you?”

Nico pauses. Hi I’m Nico. I’m the girl who agreed to seduce your girlfriend. Not really seduce because I ran away from her before I could. I am also the girl who is best friends with your ex-girlfriend, the one you hate. Penelope Park, ring any bells? Not to mention, I am the one who happens to be in love with your current girlfriend. That is how you will know me.

“Nico Minoru,” is what comes out of her mouth.

“Nice to meet you Nico, I’m Josie.” she extends her hand out for Nico to shake, “did you need anything?”

“Um well you see I’m actually here looking for-”

“NICO.” Hope appears, eyes widening.

“Hope?” Josie questioned, eyes darting away from the black-haired girl to the red-headed girl in the hallway, “you two know each other?”

Before Nico could get another word out, Hope is at her side, speaking on her behalf.

“Yeah, we met in class. I’m pretty sure she came looking for me but must have gotten the rooms mixed up,” Hope playfully pushes Nico’s shoulder, “right Nico?”

“Um…”

“Anyways, I am starving Nico, so we should get going,” Nico remains silent, her eyes peering past Josie into her room, searching for her best friend. “It was really nice running into you Jo, can’t wait to hang out with you tomorrow” Hope says softly.

“Can’t wait” Josie smiles, even though her sadness was pretty evident on her face, “also it was nice meeting you Nico.” Nico turns her glance back to the tall girl and can’t help but feel guilty. She managed a goodbye as Hope dragged her away and into her room.

“What the hell was that?”

“I need to find Penelope…” Nico’s voice cracks. She felt nauseous, her head spinning from everything occurring around her. “I…” she begins, before breaking down. Hope rushes to her side, holding onto the tiny girl.

“Hey, it’s okay, I’m here, just let it out.”

 

Eventually once Nico had calmed down, she ended up falling asleep on Hope’s bed. Hope looked at the time and didn’t even realized that they had been in her room for hours. It was already six thirty and honestly she was still a bit confused on what happened. Nico tried explaining it to her, something about already knowing Karolina. All she knew was that she needed to find Penelope. She pulls out her phone and sees a few missed calls from Lizzie.

Oh, shit. Lizzie was going to kill her. And right on cue, there was a loud knock on her door.

“Hope Mikaleson, open this door right now” oh no. Hope darts her eyes from the bed to the door. If Lizzie comes in and sees Nico, she was definitely going to think something was up. Maybe if she stays quiet enough, Lizzie will think she’s not home and leave.

“Hope?” Lizzie raises her voice, “I know you’re in there so don’t bother trying to stay quiet. I can also see your light is on too.” Fuck. Hope sighs, she puts a blanket over Nico, before walking up to open the door.

“Hey babe,” Hope gives her one of her signature smiles, “what’s up?”

“I have been trying to reach you for hours” Lizzie snaps, pushing her way into the dorm, “we need to talk about Penelope.”

“What about Penelope?” Hope gulps, this was about to go south real soon and she was not ready for it.

“She confronted Josie today,” Lizzie says angrily, “apparently, she showed up out of the blue, after I confirmed with Josie about coming to dinner and she and Josie got into another fight. Now Josie isn’t speaking to me because she thinks that I conspired with her. Only because when we were talking the other day, I defended Penelope and then Josie assumed that she and I were on better terms. Now I doubt she wants to come to dinner tomorrow and I still can’t get ahold of her because she ran to her girlfriend’s dorm. Who I still haven’t met and I don’t know where she lives so it’s not like I can force her to come home or speak to me."

Hope can’t help but feel guilty, since she was the one who fed Penelope the information about Josie. It was her who helped Penelope speak with Josie, not Lizzie.

“I’m pretty sure she’s okay Liz,” Hope walks over to comfort her girlfriend. “I’m sure that Josie will be back tomorrow and you two and talk it out.”

“I know that Hope but right now I just need to find Penelope and see what got into her fucking head to approach Josie like that,” Lizzie growls, “I told her that Josie was coming tomorrow. Was that not enough for her? She could’ve eased her way into confronting her, instead of charge head on.”

“I’m sure Penelope had a valid reason for speaking to Josie,” Hope states defensively, causing Lizzie to raise her eyebrows.

“Do you know something?” Lizzie questions. Hope hated lying to Lizzie but when it came to Penelope, she couldn’t help it.

“Nothing babe,” Hope walks towards her, her hands coming to Lizzie’s face as she pulls her into a kiss. Lizzie doesn’t hesitate to pull Hope closer, kissing her back slowly.

“Nuh uh,” Lizzie pulls away, adamant on her original goal, “we need to find Penelope.”

“Just don’t worry about it babe, I’m sure Penelope is not even on campus. You know how she gets after fighting with Josie. She just wants to be alone,” Hope says and Lizzie groans.

“Are you not hearing me? She made things worst between them. You know I have been trying to help her but she just took all our hard work and threw it out the window. Also, you can’t kiss me like that, then turn around and defend Satan.”

“What did we say about calling her that term?” Hope quips, smiling at the tall blonde, “how about instead of talking about her, why don’t you just kiss me again?”

Lizzie smiles and gives in, pulling the red-head back into another kiss, when a phone started to ring. Lizzie jumps at the noise and turns around to find Nico, now awake, sitting up in the spare bed next to Hopes’.

“Who the hell are you?” Lizzie questions.

“Hi, I’m Nico,” Nico responds. Lizzie quickly turns back around to face Hope, she narrowed her eyes in a glare.

“Care to explain Hope?” Lizzie huffs, arms crossing in front of her chest dejectedly. Hope stares at her, not saying anything. Honestly, she didn’t know what to say to her.

“Um… that’s Nico.” Hope rushes out, “she’s a friend from class.” She didn’t like the fact that she was lying to Lizzie but all she could think about was protecting Penelope.

“Uh huh. You just bring all your friends from class to your bedroom.” Lizzie accuses Hope, her tone growing angrier.

“We’re just friends Lizzie,” Hope scoffs, not liking the fact that Lizzie would assume she would cheat.

“Then why is she in your room?”

“We were working on a project together and she got tired and ended up taking a nap,” Hope lies.

Lizzie stood there, unconvinced, “you’re lying,” she states, indignant.

“No I’m not,” Hope hates how lying has come so natural at this point.

“Yes you are,” Lizzie pushes, “please just tell me the truth. I can handle it.”

“I’m not cheating on you Liz,” Hope says, “Nico came over to help with a project and ended up falling asleep, that’s it.”

It felt wrong to continue to lie to Lizzie, especially since her girlfriend could spot her lies from a mile away. But then again, she wasn’t exactly lying, she was just withholding certain details. There was a project, just not the type for school.

“I want to believe you, but something tells me you’re not telling me everything” Lizzie sighs sadly.

Hope begins to get frustrated. Why couldn’t Lizzie just let it go?

“Look, I’m telling you the truth. Why can’t you just believe me?” Hope argued, crossing her arms defensively.

“Because I know you and I know when you’re lying.” Lizzie lets out a sigh of defeat, not liking where this was going at all.

“Um…” Nico clears her throat, “I should just go.”

“Don’t bother. I was just leaving” Lizzie states, walking past Hope towards the door.

“Lizzie stop” Hope attempts to grab her arm, stopping her. “Don’t go.”

“When you decide you’re ready to tell me the truth, you know where to find me,” Lizzie shakes off Hope before walking out, slamming the door behind her.


 

Penelope didn’t know where to go. After her talk with Josie had gone completely sideways, the last place she wanted to be was on campus. If only she had her car with her. She decided to walk to the nearest drugstore, maybe she could pick up a few snacks.

She walked around mindlessly for what felt like hours before colliding with a tall figure.

“Hey watch it,” Penelope says, grabbing ahold of the girl preventing her from falling.

“I am so sorry,” the girl responds, regaining her balance, “thank you.”

“Yeah, no problem” Penelope says, eying her. She was tall, her hair in a ponytail with blue, almost ocean like, eyes. Penelope noticed the three big containers of ice cream. “are you hosting an ice cream drive or something?” she jokes.

The blue-eyed girl laughs, “yeah, no I’m actually on my way to a friend’s. Apparently, something happened and she needs an ice cream fix.”
“I totally relate with your friend” Penelope responds sadly, “well you better get going then, don’t want to keep her waiting.”

She begins to walk away, hoping the drug store would be nearby, it was getting late and she was getting cold.

“Wait” the girl calls to Penelope, “here,” she hands her one ice cream carton.

“They’re actually vegan, also I hope you like cookies and cream,” she smiles at Penelope, who is just staring at her.

“I… can’t take this” Penelope responds, handing it back to her. “I don’t even know you and there’s a thing about not speaking to strangers.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m pretty sure I over bought” she pushes, making sure Penelope is still holding onto the container, “and my name is Karolina. So now you know me and I’m not really a stranger.” The girl seemed content that she was going to accept the container and began to walk off.

“Wait,” Penelope calls out, the blonde girl turns back around, “thank you. By the way, I’m Penelope.”

“Nice to meet you Penelope,” Karolina responds. That’s when it hit Penelope. Could this be the same Karolina that Nico and Gert were talking about? I mean, how many blonde Karolina’s are out there? “Nice to meet you but I should really get going before the rest of my ice cream melts.” And with that, she is gone. Penelope watches her leave before pulling out her phone to text Gert.

Penelope Park
GERTIE. I THINK I JUST RAN INTO KAROLINA. NICO’S KAROLINA.

Gertrude Yorkes
WHAT??? TAKE A PIC AND SEND IT TO ME.

Penelope Park
I CAN’T SHE LEFT BUT FIND ME A PICTURE OF HER AND I’LL TELL YOU IF IT WAS HER OR NOT!!!

Gertrude Yorkes
OKAY!!!

Penelope notices the missed calls from Nico, Hope, and Lizzie but decides to ignore them. She didn’t want to speak to anybody else tonight. She decided to just walk back to her dorm. Her mind thought back to Josie and their fight or whatever the hell that was. Maybe this was a sign. Maybe the universe was sending Karolina to meet her so that she could help Nico get the girl. Maybe this was her way of repaying the universe for breaking Josie’s heart. Maybe this was her time of retribution. Or maybe she was just going crazy. Whatever it was, she was ready to fight. She didn’t come this far just to give up on Josie just yet.


When Karolina arrived at her dorm, Josie had been sitting outside her door. As she approached the tall brunette, she could begin to see her dark, tired eyes. Contemplation and sadness were written all over her face. Karolina sends her a warm smile, holding out her hand. Josie grabs onto it, tightening her fingers around Karolina’s soft hand.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Karolina questions her softly, not wanting to push her or set her off.

“Not right now,” Josie whispers.

“Then movie night it is,” Karolina responds, causing Josie to smile.

As the movie started rolling, Josie had settled into Karolina’s side of the bed. Karolina had put one container of ice cream into her mini-fridge and handed the other to Josie.

Once Karolina had settled into bed, Josie spoke up, “I’m sorry for missing the study today.”

“It’s no problem” Karolina answered, “it was weird, they mistaken you for an old friend of mine that I haven’t seen in forever.”“Really?” Josie questions, “that’s crazy.”

There was silence after that as the movie played. However, each girl had been too lost in their thoughts. Josie kept thinking about Penelope and their fight. Meanwhile a certain tiny girl had occupied Karolina’s thoughts.

“So, I have a proposition” Josie mumbles quietly.

“What’s up?” Karolina replied.

“Well… first I want you to know that there is no pressure to say yes or to come out. Lizzie wants me to show up to a family dinner night tomorrow.” Josie pauses, “because she wants to meet my girlfriend.”

Karolina nods, “okay.”

“But my ex might show up, and I don’t know what drama she may cause,” Josie looks down, afraid to tell Karolina what happened today.

“Josie, it’s okay” Karolina assured her softly, the movie entirely forgotten. “I would love to meet your sister and friends, even if it means dealing with your ex-girlfriend. And don’t forget, this was both our decisions, so if you need me to be the best girlfriend I can be, then I will do that.”

Josie could see that Karolina was being genuine. The sincerity in her eyes assured her that she was okay with what was going on.

“Thank you,” Josie breathed out, “for everything.”

Instead of saying anything, Karolina pulled Josie in for a hug. Josie reciprocated, feeling glad to have somebody like Karolina she could confide in. With the fears of tomorrow ahead of her, she decided to let it all go and just focus on the now at hand.

Chapter Text

Karolina had woken up to find the brunette girl in her arms. Her mind went back to yesterday and after seeing Josie so broken, she felt this need to take care of her. She was aware of how it looked to others, but she didn’t care. Especially when a friend was in need. Don’t get her wrong, the brunette was beautiful but she didn’t harbor any romantic feelings for her. In fact, her mind kept traveling back to a certain tiny, brown eyed girl she so happened to run into yesterday.

Nico Minoru.

Karolina was eleven when she first laid eyes on Nico. Chase had invited her to one of his parent’s gala’s and her parents being the influential people they were, leaped at the chance of Karolina to be noticed by the Steins.

When she first locked eyes with the brown-eyed girl, she was wearing a lavender dress and her hair had been pulled back into a French braid. She was standing timidly next to what looked like her older sister. They soon became acquainted; Amy was the older sister who stood as the upcoming face for the tech company and Nico was her sidekick. Regardless of the way Amy had presented herself, Karolina was automatically drawn to the girl standing right next to her.

When the adults finally let the kids roam free, Amy had convinced Chase to join a game of spin the bottle with the other kids, leaving Karolina and Nico to themselves.

At first, Nico did not pay much attention to her, in fact, she chose to completely avoid the tall girl. This made an impression on Karolina because she was not used to being ignored. After the party ended, she asked Chase what Nico was interested in and he tells her she likes magic. The next few days before the next gala, she practices a simple ‘is this your card’ trick, hoping to impress the tiny girl. Eventually the next party arrives and she waits patiently for them to be alone. She then calls out her name and does the trick, which ends up going so horribly wrong that Nico has to show her how to properly pull it off. However, Karolina’s plan worked and Nico finally acknowledged her. As time went by, the two grew closer, only being able to see each other at parties and galas.

Karolina was thirteen when she realized what love was. She was thirteen when she finally realized the truth that she had been too scared to admit.

It happened at a charity gala, Chase and Amy had ditched the pair to go on their own adventure. Karolina and Nico were giggling, talking about god knows what when Brandon, another trust fund kid attending this party with his parents, approached them. He began to tease Karolina about her religion and how close she was to Nico, something about how she was too pretty to be a lesbian. Before he could say any other harmful things, Nico stood up and punched him in the face. She then takes Karolina’s hand and leads her away, not before flicking off the boy. They walk towards the back, far away from the crowd. Karolina remains quiet as Nico shuffles her into the elevator.

“I’m sorry about Brandon, he is such an asshole I’m surprised his parents still bring him out to these things,” Nico grumbles, the sound of elevator music playing in the background.

“It’s okay Nico. I’m sure he didn’t mean any of it.”

Nico stares at her, “how can you do that? How are you able to defend someone like him after all the hurtful things he’s said?”

Karolina softens, “because when you are kind to others, even those who don’t deserve it, it doesn’t just change you, it changes the world around you.”

“Is that part of some Gibborim message?” Nico smirks, causing Karolina to giggle.

“Maybe?” Karolina looks at the elevator as they fly through the many floors, “so where are we going?”

“It’s a surprise,” Nico smiles, eyes focused on the levels as the get higher.

When the elevator finally stops, they walk for a bit, Nico leading the way, until they are on the rooftop of the hotel.

“I hope you aren’t scared of heights,” Nico states, grabbing her hand and dragging her to a specific spot, “okay, sit right here.” Karolina follows. From this angle, she was able to sit and still see the beautiful city that lays below them.

“Okay? What’s next?” Karolina questions, staring at the brown-eyed girl. Nico takes a seat next to her and motions her to look up. The stars shined brightly in the dark sky. Karolina found it peaceful, even in a boisterous city like theirs.

“Wow…” is all that Karolina is able to say.

“This is my favorite hotel,” Nico begins, “when Amy and I had started coming along with my parents to galas, they loved this hotel because of the catering. However, at first, Amy and I hated it because of how boring it was. So, one day, to amuse ourselves we played hide and seek. There were no set rules, so I walked around till I found the back elevators. I took it to the highest floor and I found this. I hid here for hours before realizing she wasn’t coming for me. When I finally came down, my parents didn’t even notice I was gone. Amy thought I had ditched her for something else…”

Nico stops, taking in a deep breath, “which is totally okay, it’s not like they really ever notice me or anything. But ever since then, this has been my hiding spot, coming up here was just my way of being apart from the parties, especially from people like Brandon.”

Nico pauses, eyes gazing at the sky above. The sound of the city began to fade away as Karolina gazed at Nico. Her heart began to beat faster as she thought to herself, how could anybody possibly forget someone like you?

Nico began to speak but Karolina was too engrossed in her to understand what she was saying.

“Is that amazing Karo?”

“Huh?” Karolina turns red, embarrassed for staring too long. Nico looks at her and beams.

“Here, give me one second.” Nico walks over to a darker part of the rooftop, when she returns she has one of those children telescopes. The ones you buy at any local kids store for cheap.

“Here,” she sets it up in front of them, “if you look closely, I’m sure you can see Saturn from here tonight”

Karolina blinks in surprise before standing up and peering into the telescope. Honestly she was unable to really see anything, but she didn’t want to disappoint Nico.

“Do you see it?” Nico asks excitedly. Karolina didn’t know what she was looking at but decided to go with it.

“Um, I think this is it?” she mumbles, Nico slides right in front of her, pressing her back against Karolina. She looks into the telescope and giggles.

“That is far from it Karrie, here let me find it,” Karolina freezes at the contact between the two. Her faced turned bright red, she was glad it was too dark that Nico wouldn’t notice. Karrie? Did she just call her Karrie? Her mind began to spin, there were too many things happening at once.

“Here,” Nico moves away and Karolina immediately hates the space it creates. She looks into the telescope and it kind of looks like Saturn.

“Wow, that’s amazing Nico,” she responds, it was truly amazing. The fact that she was here with her. Nico goes back to take her seat and Karolina follows.

“Thank you.” Karolina whispers, intertwining their hands together.

Karolina was thirteen when she realized that love was how she felt when she was with Nico.

After that night, she goes home and for the first time she writes the words “I like Nico” into her journal before realizing how scary yet how right it was to say out loud. Eventually high school came and when she turned fourteen, her parents wanted her to stop fooling around and play a more active role in the church. Her mom wanted her to be the upcoming generation, the new face. This meant more work and no more parties. She tried to keep up with Nico, but between her parent’s strict schedule and school, she barely had the time to relax. When Nico began to pull away from her, she didn’t blame her.

The truth is, she had fallen in love with Nico before she could even understand the meaning of love. And worst of all, she had let Nico drift away because she was scared that if Nico had stayed in her life, she would see right through her. Maybe she stopped talking to her because she knew that Karolina was different and she hated her for that. Or maybe Brandon got to her and she didn’t want to be friends with the ‘closeted lesbian girl’. And it sucked because those types of thoughts and feelings can do a number on a girl who had religious parents like hers.

RING RING

Karolina is pulled from her thoughts by the sound of her alarm. She glances at the clock before quietly untangling herself from the brunette’s grip. She knew that Josie did not have any morning classes and after what occurred yesterday, the least she could do was let her sleep in.

7:30 AM

She quickly got dressed and wrote a note for Josie before heading out.

Once she left the building, she realized that she still had an hour to kill before her first class and if she stayed indoors, she would be left alone with her thoughts and that was never good. Her stomach grumbled. Maybe she could grab breakfast. Timely’s was close by and hopefully MG was working.

“Hey Dean,” MG smiles, clearly in a good mood.

“You know, I have never seen Timely’s this quiet” Karolina looks around, the place was close to empty, which was very unusual for them especially at this time.

“Probably cause their best barista was off today” MG smirks, “anyways, do you want your usual?”

“You know me so well,” Karolina chuckled, pulling out her card to swipe. Once that was taken care of, she walked over to an empty table and pulled out her laptop. Might as well finish some assignments so she doesn’t get behind, especially with the dinner tonight.

After retrieving her coffee and muffin, she became engrossed into her readings that she didn’t notice the bell above the room ring as a customer entered.

“Karolina!” a voice declares, causing the blonde to look up from her work.

“Chase” she beams, he swiftly slides into the empty seat in front of her.

“I thought I’d find you here,” he said excitedly.

“Chase it is too early for you to sound this enthusiastic,” she teases him.

“It is never too early to get up, get out, and get healthy Karolina,” he says, she rolls her eyes at his catchphrase.

“If only Alex were here to hear you say that,” she mumbles, “what are you doing up so early anyways?”

“Well I wanted to talk to you in person and I had a feeling you’d be here. And I was actually thinking about your offer with Gert…” he starts, his demeanor taking a sudden shift.

“Oh?” Karolina raises her eyebrow expectantly, “a change of heart, perhaps?”

“Something like that. Look I wanted to push it all behind me because I meant what I said, girls like her don’t go for guys like me. But then, I couldn’t stop thinking about her since you mentioned it. I know it has been a few months since I last saw her, but it got so bad that I even talked to Alex about it. Alex freaking Wilder. I went to the nerd for advice. And he told me to grow a pair and shoot my shot.” Chase rambles, “and I have thought long and hard about this but before I try to go for her, maybe I should start by getting to know her. Mostly in a group setting and then I guess see where that takes us.” Chase pauses, his face turning a slight bit red.

“I was thinking of hosting game night and maybe you could invite her?”

Karolina stares at him before breaking out into fits of laughter, causing Chase to groan.

“I regret this already,” he begins to stand up from his chair, “I am leaving now.”“Chase wait,” Karolina finds her voice again, “don’t go, I’m sorry.”

“I come here to open up to you and you laugh in my face,” Chase whines, causing Karolina to giggle a bit more.

“Stop being dramatic Stein and sit down.”

“Fine, but only if you can use your discount to get me a blueberry muffin.”

Karolina rolls her eyes, “okay, whatever you want, just sit down.” Chase happily obliges.

“So game night is a go?” she smirks, “what day did you have in mind?”

“Tonight!” he exclaims, “It’s Friday or did you forget already? I already got Alex and Livv to confirm and I think Xavin plans on bringing their new girlfriend around. Then you can bring Josie and since it’s a bunch of us, it’ll be a casual thing.”Karolina feels guilty for forgetting that their designated game nights were on Friday, and she is ready to agree to the whole thing until she remembers the obligation she made last night.

“That sounds perfect Chase, but I can’t tonight,” she responds, “I sort of promised Josie I would meet her friends at this dinner thing.”“Oh,” he narrows his glance, “and I assume you agreed to meeting them as the girlfriend, right?”

“Yeah and apparently, something bad went down with Josie ex last night that she ended up crashing at my place again, so I really can’t bail on her tonight.”
“Uh huh, that’s cool. You made a promise to her, you should definitely keep that. But she’s been spending a lot of nights over lately,” he gives her one of those expectant looks that Karolina automatically knows what he is implying.

“Gross, nothing happened Chase,” she groans, “please stop thinking like that.”

“I’m just saying, you’ve been spending quite a bit of time with her, I feel like I don’t even see you anymore. Are you sure there are no brewing feelings?” he pushes.

Karolina has already thought about this and her answer remained. Josie was a great person but she only saw her as a friend and that wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, ever since yesterday, she could only think of a certain tiny, brown-eyed girl. And part of her wanted to open up to Chase about this crush she’s held onto for so long, but that would mean telling him the full story and she wasn’t ready for that.

“How about we have game night next Friday?” she suggests, attempting to change the subject.

“Hmm next week works, I suppose it can help me work on my game” he jokes, “but don’t think that gets you out of our last conversation.”

“Seriously? I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this, but we’re just friends Chase,” she states flatly, “and if I did like her, I honestly don’t think we’d work out because I am pretty sure she’s still hung up on her ex.”

Chase scoffs, “you mean the ex she literally calls Satan.”

“Yeah, Josie doesn’t like talking about it much but from what I’ve heard, that girl did a number on her but for some reason, Josie still very much cares for her and vice versa. And I had bad feeling about tonight. I’m scared drama is going to infuse but I can’t seem to say no to Josie, especially when she’s crying into my arms,” Karolina groans.

“Uh oh. Girl fight. I could see it right now. Satan vs softie, the battle for Josette’s heart. You should definitely FaceTime me, that’s a fight I wouldn’t want to miss,” he grins.

“I’m terrified Chase,” Karolina confesses, “not so much for me, but for Josie. I care for her and I feel like she wants her ex back and me showing up will just make it worst for them. But it’s not like Josie loves opening up about her feelings. She hasn’t even introduced me to her twin sister yet.”

“JOSIE HAS A TWIN?” Chase whisper-yells, “since when?”

“I suppose since birth,” she says, sarcasm dripping from her tone. Chase rolls his eyes.

“Seriously, you think you know a girl?” Chase was genuinely shocked.

“They’re fraternal twins. But hey, I just found out two weeks ago when I was over at her place. I tried asking about her family as well, but it seems to be a touchy subject for her.” Karolina explains.

“Yeah, I don’t blame her. Shitty dads are my specialty,” he responds. The sadness that never could escape him when it came to his father lingered in his eyes. Chase and Karolina were no stranger to dysfunctional families, having terrible parents was probably the one of the few things that they could most definitely relate with.

“Anyways, I’m pretty sure you still owe me a muffin,” Chase smiles, completely changing the subject. Karolina groans before looking at the clock in the distance.

7:55 AM

“Actually I have to head to class,” she closes her laptop and begins putting her things away, “guess you’re going to have to wait on that muffin.”

“Not fair,” he grumbles, “what was the point of waking up then?”

“Get up, get out, get healthy, right?” she jokes with him, “also to see your favorite person ever.”

“Well Xavin isn’t here, so I don’t know who you’re talking about.” Chase spites back playfully.

Karolina shakes her head and stands up, walking towards the door.

“Don’t forget game night! Remember to text her!” Chase states loudly, making sure that was the last thing Karolina heard before leaving the coffee shop.


When Penelope had woken up, she darted her eyes to Nico’s side of the bed, which was left untouched. Weird. Nico not coming home last night was uncommon. And she was supposed to tell her what happened with Josie’s girlfriend but I guess that was over with now. She grabbed her phone and saw many notifications that she failed to respond to the following night before. Most of them had been from Hope and Lizzie.

Shortly before she could even get out of bed, Penelope heard a knock on the door. That was probably Nico. Maybe she locked herself out and slept at Gert’s place until morning. However, when she opened the door, she found an angry, tall, blonde girl who looked ready to burn her world down. This was unlike Lizzie to come visit, much less this early in the morning.

“You have some nerve Park,” Lizzie remarked with a scowl on her face.

“Good morning to you to Lizzie,” Penelope scoffs. Lizzie ignores her and storms into her dorm. “Yup, just come in, why don’t you?” Penelope closes the door behind her and turns to face Lizzie.

“I need you to cut the bullshit and tell me why you thought it was a brilliant idea to corner Josie like that?”

Penelope remains silent, allowing Lizzie to continue.

“Because now Josie is gone and she isn’t speaking to me. All because you had to go and run that big mouth of yours. You see, I came home from a long day of class and instead of being invited into my own home, she accused me of plotting against her. Something about how she’s done a great job of avoiding you and the fact that you managed to get her alone, it meant that someone helped you out. So, we got into this huge argument because now she thinks we’re the best of friends. Which isn’t even true but she left and didn’t come home last night. And I don’t know how to get ahold of her.”

Penelope’s heart sank. Josie not coming meant one thing, she ran to her girlfriend’s dorm. And the the thought of Josie running into another girl’s arms made her nauseous.

“And I don’t even know where her girlfriend lives, all I have is a name and no way to contact her. So, thank you for that. I don’t know if she’ll ever come home and that is your fault” Lizzie crossed her arms, glaring at her. Penelope remains quiet, which causes Lizzie to get even more annoyed, “you can speak now Park.”

“What do you want me to say? I’m sorry for talking to your sister? Last I check, it wasn’t a crime. And if you must know, it didn’t go so well,” Penelope sounds less angry, more just defeated. “Look I know that you and I have been on better terms since you got lucky enough to date Hope but don’t think for a second you and I are cool enough for you to barge into my room like this.”

Lizzie glares at her before shaking her head, “ugh. You’re literally so annoying. I don’t get why Hope always has to pick you.”

Wait what?

“Look, I know about you and Josie and even if what you did was reckless, I’m sorry,” Lizzie sighs, causing Penelope to tilt her head in confusion. Was Lizzie Saltzman apologizing to her? “You had every right to speak to her and I definitely shouldn’t be here yelling at you.”

“Um who are you and what did you do with the real Lizzie?” Penelope jokes, confused at the sudden change of heart.

“You’re an ass Satan.”

Penelope smirks, “That’s more like it.”

“It’s just Hope lied to me to protect you and we got into this argument about it and all I wanted to do after that was speak to Josie. But she didn’t come home and I guess I needed someone to blame. And you seem to be the root of it all so I came here.”

“What do you mean Hope is lying to protect me?”

“Hope does anything to protect you. Lying to me yesterday was just one of those things. She has this innate need to shield you and like clockwork, she chooses you over me.” There is no malice or anger in Lizzie’s voice, just disappointment.

Penelope doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t know what to say, now that she was battling the guilt of Lizzie’s words on top of the crushing feeling that she would be the reason her best friend’s relationship goes up in flames. She knew exactly what Lizzie was feeling because, ironically, she felt the same way when it came to Josie.

“Anyways, I should just go now. I have class and a dinner to plan.”

Lizzie stands up and walks towards the door before Penelope stops her.

“You’re right Liz. About everything being my fault. I shouldn’t have confronted Josie or at least, I should’ve done it without involving Hope, it isn’t fair to her or you and I am sorry. Please don’t be stay mad at Hope. She does rash things to protect the people she loves, and I know for fact she loves you so much, losing you was the last thing she would want to happen.”

Lizzie stares at her before shaking her head, coming a decision.

“Thank you for that Penelope. But Hope’s her own person. You can’t make her do anything she doesn’t want to do” Lizzie responds sadly, “I do hope I see you tonight though” Lizzie walks away, leaving Penelope even more distraught than ever.


 

** Friday Night (the dinner) **

After her conversation with Penelope, Lizzie took it upon herself to change dinner plans to a home-cooked meal for tonight rather than attend a fancy restaurant. At least this gave her something to plan and keep her mind off a certain red-haired girl. Luckily for her, Rafael and Landon owned their own condo not too far from campus, and offered their space to host the dinner. All that was left to do was convince MG and Landon to cook all the food.

“Please mophead,” Lizzie trails behind the curly-headed boy as he walks towards class.

“Why can’t we just have a dinner at Chili’s or something?” Landon groans, walking away from her.

“Because Chili’s doesn’t compare to you and MG’s cooking,” she tried a different approach.

“Really? That’s the line you’re going to go with,” the green-eyed boy was now chuckling.

“Yes,” she walks ahead of him, attempting to stop him in his tracks, “MG already agreed, all that’s left is you.”

Landon just stands there, unsure of how to respond. He would much rather go home and rest instead of having to prep dinner for eight people, but that didn’t look like it was about to happen, not with Lizzie on his case.

“Come on my thrift store hobbit,” she pleads, “I promise you and MG will be reimbursed.”

“Ugh fine,” Landon gives in “do you think you could tone it on the nicknames though?”

“Now why would I do that my mop headed elf” she winks at him before taking off.

Placing all her energy into planning took her mind off the fact that she still hasn’t spoken to Josie or Hope. Well in person that is. She did, however, text them the details regarding the dinner tonight. Josie was unresponsive, which was expected. Meanwhile Hope would not stop bombarding her phone with calls and text message. After her talk with Penelope, she knew that speaking to Hope would have to happen but she was not ready for what would go down. Not to mention the fact that Hope continued to willingly lie to her, it would take more than a few text messages for her to come around.

As she finished getting ready, the door to her dorm is opened revealing her sister. Lizzie jumps and runs into her sister’s arms.

“Josie,” she breathes out, “I am so sorry.”

Josie hugs her back, “No, I am. I was wrong to blame you and I’m sorry.”

“What’s with the sudden change of heart?” Lizzie questions.

“Hope spoke to me. She said that it was her who helped Penelope and that I should never have doubted you.” Of course, it was Hope, Lizzie thought to herself. Even when they were fighting, Hope thought of her.

“I want to still be upset that you would think I would do something like that, but I missed you too much, I don’t care,” Lizzie exclaims, hugging her sister once again. Once she lets go, Josie steps back until her hand is on the doorknob.

“So about dinner…” Josie begins.

“If you want to bail, we can. You and I could just spend a night in watching Disney movies or something,” Lizzie rushes out. She knew Landon may physically kill her for canceling, especially after the work he’s put in, but if it meant having her sister back, she was willing to risk it all.

“No, I’m actually here for the dinner,” Josie states, “with Karolina.” She opens the door to reveal a gorgeous blonde girl with mesmerizing blue eyes.

“Hi,” she walks into the room eyes locked with Lizzie’s, “you must be Lizzie. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

Lizzie smiles warmly at her, “and you’re Karolina? I wish I could say that I heard much about you, but Josie here has been really good at keeping away.”

Karolina laughs, “I’m sure it was with good reason.”

At Josie’s surprise, Karolina got along well with Lizzie, more than well. The two were already making inside jokes, she almost hated having to remind them that they had somewhere to be.

“Aren’t we going to be late?” Josie pipes up, “I’m sure Hope is looking for you.”
Lizzie winces at the name, causing Josie to send her a concerned look.

“You’re right! Don’t want to keep her waiting,” Lizzie rushes to the door before Josie could question her, “shall we?”

Karolina and Josie nod, following her to the parking lot to catch their Lyft.


 

Penelope had gone about her day normally, not yet speaking to Nico or Hope. When afternoon came around, she had gotten a text from Lizzie regarding the dinner. Part of her was unsure whether she wanted to go or not. Maybe Nico wanted to come, make things less awkward? She decided to text her. It was unlike Nico to not come home and Penelope was beginning to get worried.

Penelope Park
N, where have you been? I have a proposition for you. Just call me when you get this.

Hours go by and Penelope still hasn’t gotten word back from Nico. Sigh. She was just going to skip the dinner. It was not like they were going to miss her anyways. As she settled back into bed, her phone suddenly goes off. She grabs it, hoping it was Nico.

Hope Mikaleson
Before you say no, remember you owe me. Get dressed and meet me in the parking lot in ten minutes.

Penelope groans. She replies with a thumb’s up emoji and begins to get ready. As she makes it too the parking lot, she sees Hope leaning on her black sports car. She takes a deep breath before walking up to the tiny red-headed girl. As soon as Hope laid eyes on Penelope, she unlocked the car door, not saying a word to her.

“Hope, are you ever going to speak to me again?” Penelope sulks as the two enter Hope’s car.

“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it,” she mumbled. Hope wasn’t actually mad at Penelope, she was more upset with herself for continuing to lie to Lizzie, but it felt easier to take it out on her.

“I can speak to Lizzie again, clear the air between you two,” Penelope pleads.

“Don’t bother,” Hope shakes her head, “I already told Josie that it was me who helped you talk to her and she probably told Lizzie, so there is no point. I still lied to her and you know how she feels about lying.”

“Hope, I’m sorry,” Penelope says, “I know you said that the last thing you would do for me was risk your relationship and you ended up doing that. If there is anything I can do, let me know.”

“Just play nice tonight with the twins” Hope says, “especially Josie.”

“When don’t I play nice,” Penelope attempts to banter with her. Hope just focuses on the road. “I mean, I promise I won’t say anything”, even if every part of her was not ready to see Josie or her new girlfriend, the least she could do was listen to Hope.

As they pulled into the complex, Penelope felt nervous. When they got to the door, Kaleb was the one to greet them. Penelope glances around, not seeing the twins yet.

“Peez! Hope” MG shouts, smiling brightly. He hands whatever bowl was in his hand to Kaleb and rushes over to give them both bear hugs. “Ugh, your apron is dirty MG,” Penelope groans, as Hope chuckles.

“You act like I don’t see you anymore,” Hope grinned, “but whatever your cooking smells heavenly.” Hope smiles before walking with Kaleb to the kitchen to greet Landon and Rafael.

“Haven’t seen you around in a bit Peez.” MG accuses. They were really close friends but ever since MG got his new job, they haven’t been able to hang out, which is unfortunate because Penelope had really missed him.

“It’s not my fault you’re always working,” Penelope responds, “but I miss you too,” he smiles and places his arm around her, leading her into the kitchen to join the others.

 

After about fifteen minutes had passed, there was another knock at the door. This time, Landon went to answer, leaving everybody in the kitchen space.

“Mophead,” a voice speaks up, Landon rolls his eyes and widens the door, allowing room for Lizzie, Josie, and Karolina to enter.

“Josie, my favorite Saltzman twin,” Landon ignores Lizzie and smiles at the tall brunette.

“Nice to see you too Landon,” Josie chuckles before introducing Karolina, “by the way, this is Karolina.”

“Hi, nice to meet you” she extends her hand to Landon.

He shakes her hand, smiling, “nice to meet you as well. My name is Landon, don’t listen to Lizzie over there and I’m glad you could join us. I’m sure everybody is just excited to meet you.”

He leads them into the kitchen. Josie instinctively created distance between her and Karolina, nervous about seeing a certain green-eyed girl. She knew she had no right to feel this way, she was the one who made Karolina lie about the relationship and show up tonight, but she couldn’t help but feel sick to her stomach.
“Hey guys, come meet Karolina!” Landon says out loud.

The minute Karolina came into view, a crash is heard, and everyone’s head darts to a plate that now lays broken on the floor, right in front of a certain raven-haired girl. Silence filled the room. Penelope quickly bends down and beginning picking up the shards of glass. With that being handled, everybody shifts their attention back to the blonde girl standing at the entrance of the kitchen.

MG was the first to speak up.

“No way. Karolina Dean? Is that you?”

Chapter Text

“No way. Karolina Dean? Is that you?”

Karolina looks over at the voice and smiles, “MG?”

He walked over to hug the blonde.

“Wait, how do you two know each other?” Josie looks at Karolina, arching her brow in question.

“We work at Timely’s together!” MG responds for her, “Dean here is the best barista there is, second to me of course.”
Karolina laughs, “What are the odds, huh?”

“Hmm, now that I think about it, I never got around to visiting you at work” Josie smirks. MG’s eyes dart to Josie and back to Karolina before gasping, putting two and two together. Oh.

Karolina raises her eyebrows, “guess it’s now an incentive with your two favs working there.”

MG laughs at the comment before continuing to make conversation with Karolina.

“You didn’t tell me you were dating anybody Dean,” MG whispers, so that only Karolina can hear.

“You never asked,” she shrugged her shoulders. Before Karolina can continue to say anything else, Lizzie stepped in with Rafael and Kaleb, formally introducing her to them.

Meanwhile, Penelope was eying the pair, jealousy was never a feeling the green-eyed girl particularly liked but she couldn’t help but feel that way right now. She turned around and located the liquor cabinet from across the room. Perfect. Before she can even make her way, Hope stepped in front of her.

“P, why don’t you go say hi first?” she suggested. Penelope groans but slowly turns around to walk towards Karolina.

“Hey,” Penelope mutters, extending her hand out, “pleasure meeting you.”Karolina twitches her nose as she grabs her hand, “wait I know you too!” Penelope is taken aback, her eyes scanning the girl trying to recall where she last met her.

“You’re the girl I gave ice cream too yesterday,” Karolina smiles brightly, “nice to see you again Penelope”

Penelope forced a smile as realization dawned on her, “yeah, totally. Thanks again for the ice cream.”

Karolina noticed the shift in her tone, she looks over to Josie who is fidgeting next to her. Oh, so this must be the ex-girlfriend. Karolina watched as Penelope’s glance gravitated towards Josie. She looked as if she were contemplating whether to say anything at all.

Instead of saying anything, Penelope gives one last nod and walks off. Karolina couldn’t help but notice the look of sadness mixed with relief plastered on Josie’s face. Instinctively, she reached over to grab the brunette’s hand, looking to comfort her.

A couple minutes had passed by when MG finally announced dinner was ready to be served. The group began taking their seats. Josie sat between Lizzie and Karolina. Penelope had made her way back from the liquor cabinet with vodka in her cup, she purposely sat herself on the other end of the table, the furthest away from Josie. Maybe distance would help her from acting out.

Throughout the dinner, Josie would sneak looks at the green-eyed girl from across the room. Here she was, supposed to be in love with her ‘girlfriend’ but all she could think about was how good Penelope looked in tight black jeans and white blouse. Ugh stop it, she told herself, forcing herself to join in on a conversation between Karolina and Kaleb.

 

“God look at them, they’re so gross,” Penelope whispered to Hope, watching Josie laugh at something Karolina had said. She had finished all the hard stuff and it still wasn’t enough. She reached over to grab the open wine bottle and poured herself a glass. Honestly, she had lost count of how much she drank and was feeling a bit buzzed, but at this point it was the only thing getting her through the dinner.

“Speak for yourself, Lizzie hasn’t stopped glaring at me since I sat down here,” Hope sighs, using her fork to play around with her food, avoiding looking up, scared to lay eyes on a certain blonde.

Penelope wanted to feel guilty seeing her best friend in pain because of her, but right now the only thing she could focus on was Josie and how nauseous it felt to see her with another girl.

And it wasn’t like they had been doing anything scandalous. In fact, she noticed that they didn’t show as much affection as she thought they would. Not to mention, Karolina was far from a bad person, throughout dinner she made conversation with literally all of them, including her. She was too kind it felt almost wrong to not like her. Not to mention, she gave her free ice cream. Ugh. She gulped down the remaining drink before pouring another glass. At this point, Hope had caught onto her.

“P, I think you should slow down” Hope whispered. Penelope ignores her and continues filling her glass. She thought back to last night. Karolina probably bought the ice cream for Josie because of her. And to think, she was going to set her up with Nico. Oh, shit. Nico.

Penelope began to piece everything together. She recalled the first time she told Nico about Josie’s girlfriend, at the time she never had a name. Honestly, now that she thinks about it, she never knew her name was Karolina. Therefore, it couldn’t be her fault, right? But now she was remembering the way Nico acted when talking about her. Something about that girl really affected her. The thought of forcing Nico to confront Karolina, the love of her life. Oh my god, she was going to be sick. Nico must hate her. I mean, it’s not like she knew. Her head was spinning. She didn’t know whether it was from the alcohol or the fact that her brain was on fire with all this information. Now it made complete sense why Nico hasn’t come home or responded to her text messages. What if Nico blamed her? The last thing she could handle was losing Nico. She quickly pulls out her phone to see if she had responded. Nothing. Worry and anxiety begin to fill her. She took a deep breath and another sip of her drink. She reminded herself to remain calm down, just get through this dinner for Hope’s sake and then it’ll all be over. She was ready to do that until Landon Kirby opened his big ass mouth.

“So Josie, when did you meet Karolina?” he questions, eying the pair. This pulls Penelope out of her thoughts, she swiftly lifts her head up to stare at the pair.

Josie coughed awkwardly, her eyes immediately widening, “well, it was on the first day of college, in our women’s studies class.”

“Oh nice, that was like four months ago, right?” Landon continues, “well I’m glad Josie finally brought you around Karolina, but the real question is who asked who out? My bet is on Josie.”

“Uh…well…” Karolina sputters out. She didn’t know how to respond. Surprisingly her and Josie didn’t exactly go over a cover story for this.

“Like how did you two get together?” he pushed. This time, they both remain quiet.

“Are you freaking serious you thrift store hobbit?” Lizzie remarked, glaring at him.

“What? I’m sure we’d all like to know their love story,” Landon says defensively.

MG shook his head, “dude, read the room.”

Landon looked around before landing on Penelope whose gaze didn’t falter from Josie, “wait, are you talking about Penelope? Didn’t they break up months ago? I thought that was old news.”

“Oh my god, shut up Landon.” Hope snapped.

“What? I’m confused. Am I missing something?” Landon persists, causing Rafael to groan next to him.

“Bro, just stop talking.” Kaleb says.

“I-” Landon starts before pausing to look around.

Silence falls onto the group until Penelope stood up. She quickly chugged the last of her wine before speaking.

“Well, it is getting late and I should really get going,” she slurred, “and I just want to say a few things beforehand, first of all, thank you MG for dinner, the food was lovely as-”

“Hey P, maybe you should just sit down,” Hope interrupts, grabbing onto Penelope’s hand.

“No, no, let me finish Hope. I’m sure everybody wants to hear me speak. Let me just say what I need to say. Thank you, Lizzie, for once again throwing this shitty party. Thank you Karolina, for gracing us with your presence and for ice cream. And Josie, thank you for being so you.” Josie gulps as Penelope stares intently at her, before breaking it to continue speaking. “Thank you Rafael for hosting this. Thank you, Kaleb, for being here to witness this. And thank you Hope, for forcing me to come out tonight.”

At this point, Hope was tugging on Penelope’s hand attempting to get her to sit back down.

“Let go Hope, I’m not done yet. And finally, thank you Mr. Landon Kirby, for never knowing when to shut the fuck up about things that don’t concern you,” she laughed at herself before leaning over to grab the other wine bottle, “also, thank you to whoever for free booze. It was truly a pleasure seeing you all tonight. Thank you for this shit show you call a party! Goodnight.”

Penelope stumbled out of the room, the sound of a door being slammed was all that remained from her.

 

Josie watched as Penelope left for the second time in the span of forty-eight hours and she did not like the sight of it. Before she could comprehend her actions, she found herself running after the green-eyed girl, ignoring her sister’s protests.

As soon as Josie got outside, she quickly scanned the parking lot, her eyes failing to see through the darkness. She began to panic, her mind resorting to the worst possible situation. She continued to walk around, the only light available was coming from a lamppost a few feet away. Eventually her eyes landed on a teary green-eyed girl sitting on the curb next to what looked like Hope’s car.

Josie moved closer and eventually stepped into Penelope’s view. The green-eyed girl was definitely drunk, and only for a split second was able to hold eye contact. Once her eyes met Josie, she scooted over and motions her to take a seat.

“Isn’t your new model girlfriend going to be suspicious that you followed me out here?” Penelope speaks up, breaking the silence between them.

“Nah, I’m sure she’ll understand,” Josie says. Penelope nods before taking another sip from the wine bottle. The pair sits in silence as Penelope continues to drink.

“I’m pretty sure you scared Landon,” Josie says softly, not knowing why this was the topic she was going with. Maybe because it was the one she knew that wouldn’t hurt.

Penelope gave her a confusing look before breaking out into a little smile, “good, it was about time somebody did.”

“I mean that speech was definitely one for the books. I don’t think he’s ever going to forget it,” Josie continued.

“Oh yeah? I can’t wait to hear Lizzie yell at me for it.” Penelope adds before her eyes widen, “oh shit, Lizzie is going to kill me.”

Josie giggled, “yeah, especially after you thanked her for planning a shitty party, she’ll probably put a hex on you, maybe turn you into a frog or something.”

Penelope began to laugh, maybe it was from the alcohol or the fact that Josie was actually here, speaking to her like they were friends rather than bitter exes.

“Ugh, just great, after all the work I’ve done to get her to like me.” Penelope says, her plump lips turn downward and Josie fights the urge to kiss her frown away.

Wait. Did she just admit that she wants to kiss Penelope?

“I’m sure she’ll forgive you, probably blame it on the amount of alcohol you both have had,” Josie says, inching closer to the raven-haired girl.

“Yeah I guess,” Penelope says softly, “but the real question is will you forgive me?”

She said it so softly, that Josie feared if she weren’t as close to her as she was, she wouldn’t have heard it at all. Silence falls onto them again before Josie found herself staring into her eyes.

“I already forgave you Pen,” she finally admitted in an anxious voice just as low.

“Then why do you make it so hard on me?”

“Because I was hurt and hating you has always been easier,” Josie continues to be honest, not knowing if Penelope would actually remember this conversation the next morning.

“I meant everything I said Jojo. I want you back in my life.” Penelope paused, as if she were looking for some sort of confirmation in Josie’s eyes, “I just wish you’d want me back too.”

Josie thinks to herself, if she doesn’t say the truth now, she may never have the courage to say it again. Even if Penelope might not remember any of it, she had to at least say it once. “I have never stopped wanting you in my life and not for the wrong reasons.”

Josie held her breath for an answer but Penelope only smiles at her in return. Josie stared at her, wanting nothing more than to close the gap between them.

How is it that in the span of forty-eight hours, this has been the second time she had been tempted to kiss her ex-girlfriend? And from the looks of it, Penelope had wanted to as well. Maybe this time, she wouldn’t move out of the way.

But of course, the universe doesn’t ever work in their favor.

Suddenly, Penelope diverted and ended up throwing up onto the pavement, barely missing Josie’s feet.

Before she could even understand what was occurring between them, the moment had passed and she was brought back to reality. Josie leaned over to help Penelope back up.

“Penelope!” a voice called out, causing Josie to turn her head. Hope had appeared, her face red, she looked like she had been crying. “Josie?”

“Hope!” she replied, her face turning red. “I was just keeping her company and-”

“Oh thank god you’re with her,” Hope rushed over to Penelope, “I thought she had driven off or something. I couldn’t find my keys so I got scared but lo and behold here she is.”

“Um yeah.” Josie nodded, awkwardly standing back up, “I should head back in now.”Hope nods in agreement, “yeah, I can take it from here.”

Josie nods before turning around to walk away.

“Wait Jo,” Hope calls out, Josie turns around to face her, “just know that no matter what happens, we are friends too and that I am truly sorry for everything.”

“What?” Josie questioned.

“You’ll see when you get back inside” Hope says ominously, before walking away with Penelope. Josie watched them leave before going back into the condo.


*rewind to a few minutes beforehand*

 

“JOSIE,” Lizzie called out but it was all too late, Josie was gone. She wanted to go after her sister but she knew better than to get involved in her relationship. So instead, she took a seat allowing the deafening sound of awkward silence to come through. After a few more minutes, had passed by, Lizzie heard a groan and when she looked up, she found Hope standing.

“I should go after her.” Hope says, causing Lizzie to scoff. For some reason, the sound of Hope rushing after Penelope left a bitter taste in her mouth.

“Of course, it’s what you do best Hope,” her tone was dripping with resentment.

“Are you serious Lizzie?” Hope crosses her arms “she’s wasted off her ass with no way home.”

“No you’re right. Protecting Penelope Park always comes first to you,” Lizzie remarks, rolling her eyes.

“You seriously want to do this right now?”

“Why not? This sentient jar of artisanal mayonnaise already ruined dinner. Why not just get everything out into the open? I mean we could talk about it, or you could just tell us one of your lies.” Lizzie spats, engaging in a heated staring contest with Hope.

Hope winced at her words.

“You know what?” she says, her voice faltering, “no, we’re not going to do this right now.” Hope begins to walk away, which angers Lizzie even more.

“Nuh uh, you don’t get to just walk from me Mikaleson,” Lizzie screamed at her.

Hope didn’t have the energy to get into a fight with Lizzie, she walked into the living area looking for her bag. She had to make sure that her keys were still there, praying that Penelope hadn’t done anything stupid.

“Mikaelson,” she heard Lizzie yell out. Not now.

“What?”

“WHAT? After everything you have put me through all I get is an annoyed what?” Lizzie crosses her arms, glaring.

“No, you get a frustrated what because I have been trying to contact you this entire day and you ignored each and every one of my attempts” Hope stops, “and now you want to talk?”

“It’s called space,” Lizzie defensively states, “something that is supposed to be healthy or whatever.”

“Okay, then I’ll give you your space,” Hope responds, walking away from the blonde, still unable to find her keys.

“Why can’t you just tell me the truth Hope?”

“What are you talking about?” Hope finally stopped what she was doing to face her.

“I’m talking about the girl in your room! Specifically, your bed. Do you not want to be with me anymore?” a more frantic Lizzie questions. Hope is stunned at the idea that Lizzie could even think she would ever want that.

“No-no, Liz, I was telling you the truth, the girl is just a friend, nothing happened and of course I want to be with you”

“So why did you go behind my back to help Penelope? Why did you lie to me? Do you not trust me?”

“Of course I trust you Liz, I just can’t explain it right now.” Hope sighs, knowing her answer was not going to be enough for Lizzie. It wasn’t like it was a large secret, but she couldn’t risk telling Lizzie how Penelope felt about Josie, especially since it wasn’t her secret to tell.

“So when?” Lizzie crossed her arms, glaring once again.

“I don’t know Liz.” Hope felt tears began to fall from her eyes, she knew that would not be enough for her.

“Hope, I can’t keep doing this with you.”

Hope felt her heart break, “I know.”

Lizzie paused, praying that Hope would say something to make her stay, but of course, she remained silent, “well then, you better go get your girl Mikaleson,” she says bitterly, turning to walk away.

“Liz…” Hope calls out but this time, it was too late. Lizzie had left the room.

When Lizzie made it back to the dining area, it was eerily quiet. No one dared to make a sudden move. It wasn’t until Lizzie had sat down, when Kaleb gave Landon a look before finally speaking up, “um, I guess, I should be heading out too.”

MG nodded, following his lead, “yeah, I have somewhere I have to be tomorrow so I’ll just head out with Kaleb.”

The two of them said their goodbyes before leaving.

Rafael slowly stands up, “I’ll get started on cleaning,” he nudges Landon, giving him a sort of do something look.

“Yeah, okay I’ll help” Landon responds, standing up as well. Rafael nods and began stacking plates on top of one another.

Landon awkwardly stands looking at Karolina, too scared to even face Lizzie, “I uh, wanted to say sorry for what happened tonight. We aren’t usually like this.” Karolina gives him a warm smile, “it’s okay Landon. Thank you again for dinner,” he nods and follows Rafael into the kitchen, leaving them alone.

Karolina turned to face Lizzie. Even if they took the argument to the next room, the walls were still pretty thin, “hey Liz, do you want to talk about it?”

“No-no, it’s okay Karolina, I’m fine,” Lizzie lies, wiping away any remaining tears. Karolina nods, knowing well that she was far from okay. She remained silent, her hand on Lizzie’s back, attempting to comfort her.
As if right on cue, Josie stumbled into the room. She looks at Karolina first, who gives her an ‘are you okay?’ look, Josie nods before facing her sister.

“Hey Liz?” Josie says cautiously, “do you want me to call us a Lyft?”

“Don’t bother, I already did. Let’s get out of here.” Lizzie says flatly.

The two look at each other before following Lizzie out the door. If tonight hasn’t been a long night, Josie knew it was about to be longer.

Chapter Text

If there was one thing Nico Minoru was good at, it was taking her feelings and shoving them so far down, she could convince herself that she was okay. After the fiasco that occurred in Hope’s dorm, she knew she was not ready to face Penelope. Therefore, she does what she knows best, and that’s to run away.

Well not exactly.

First she goes to her car, that is parked on campus, and grabs her overnight bag (something she’s done since high school for emergency reasons). Then she begins to walk over to Gert’s dorm before realizing what a terrible idea that was.

You see, crying to Hope was nice because Hope held no judgement. Hope didn’t grow up with her and best of all, Hope didn’t pry. She knew that Gert would demand answers that she was not ready to disclose. Honestly, she did not have the energy or strength to deal with that right now. Which gave her limited options. Unless. She takes out her phone and dials a number.

“Hey it’s Nico. I know this is sudden but I have a quick favor to ask?”


As soon as Nico ended the call, she began to walk across campus to an apartment complex close by. Every instinct told her that she was making a mistake, but before she could even engage in another internal argument, she was already knocking on the bright red door.

“Coming!” a voice yelled. Within seconds, the door was flung opened, revealing a tall, shirtless boy with messy brown hair and a lopsided grin, “NICO!” he pulls her into a strong hug, picking her up from the ground.

“Chase…” she groans, “please put me down now.”

“Sorry, sorry! Please, come in,” he places her down and moves out of the way, allowing her entry. “I’m just excited to see you. I didn’t know you went to college here too. I thought you would’ve followed Amy to New York.”

Yeah right, like that would ever happen.

“Um yeah, I’m sorry I didn’t reach out sooner, it’s been such a busy semester, I almost forgot you chose to go here too, especially with that offer in Massachusetts” she lied, not wanting to get into the specifics as to why she had been avoiding him. I mean, she knew to call him so of course she knew he went here.

“I mean, this was always a solid choice for me. Close to home so if my mom ever needs anything, I’m only a forty-five-minute drive away” he smiles, putting on his shirt, “any who, how are you? What brings you here? What’s going on?”

“Okay twenty questions, hold on. I know I already asked on the phone but are you sure it’s okay that I crash here tonight?”

Chase nods, “yeah of course, you can take the room on the left.”

Nico raises her eyebrows, “you don’t have a roommate?”

“Nah, he lives with his girlfriend now,” Chase shrugs, “so it’s been unoccupied for the past three months.”

“Oh okay. That’s cool, thank you,” she says quietly, walking over to door.

“Hey,” he calls out, stopping her in her tracks, “I’m going to order pizza, how does a movie sound? We can catch up” he asked.

Nico wanted to decline. After everything that happened tonight, she just wanted to be alone, think about her next move. However, Chase was offering her a place to stay, so the least she could do was hang out with him. It was just one night.

“Yeah that sounds great Chase” she says, “let me just clean-up.”
“Take your time, I’ll go order the pizza. Any preferences?”
“Pineapple works for me,” she responds coolly, remembering how much he hated pineapple on pizza.

“Ugh seriously? I’m glad to know some things haven’t changed,” he smirked before walking away. She entered the room and headed straight for the shower, wanting to clean today off her.

Once she finished, she slipped into something comfortable before checking her phone. She saw a couple missed messages from both Penelope and Gert. She knew that she should probably call Gert back before her best friend sent out a manhunt looking for her. But that would mean communicating with her, which would be hard because she was unable to lie to Gert. Mainly because of how Gert was. She could always see right through Nico.

When Nico’s parents got divorced, their business was still in the early phases and the last thing that they could afford was a scandal. They were Robert and Tina Minoru, the power tech couple. For the sake of the company they came to an agreement that they would divorce in secret but remain ‘married’ to the public eye. Which wasn’t a problem for Nico, her dad was around for the major things, even when he didn’t live in the same house as them. Only a few people knew that they weren’t together. Gert was one of those few people.

However, Gert didn’t know the full truth. She didn’t know that her mother had been in a long-term relationship with Janet Stein (Chase’s mom) and that they even eloped during Nico’s junior year of high school. That made Chase her step brother. Even if Gert had her suspicions, Nico never told her. The most Gert knew about Nico’s mom was that they were close friends, who attended the same support group. The worst part of having to lie to Gert was that she had every chance to come clean, but the more Gert developed feelings for Chase and the fact that Gert knew about Karolina, she felt as if it was easier to keep that life separate. It was a conversation she was not ready to have.

Gertrude Yorkes
NICOOOOOO HOW’D IT GO?? YOU MS. STEAL HER GIRL?

LOL JK. But seriously, call me back.

NICO. MINORU. ANSWER. ME.
um. Hello? Did you die? Did Penelope die? Why is nobody answering me?

JK AGAIN, pls just call me back when you can. Let me hear the tea.

So, how about a group FaceTime? I can’t seem to reach Pen either.

NICO??

IF YOU DON’T ANSWER ME, I WILL SHOW UP AT YOUR DORM.

Nico Minoru
Hey! I’m sorry. I’m a bit busy right now. I haven’t seen P, so I don’t know how it went down. But let’s meet tomorrow.

Gertrude Yorkes
Weird. But okay, fine. Text me tomorrow.

Nico rolled her eyes at the message before shutting off her phone.

When she exited her room, she was immediately hit with the aroma of pizza.

“Yeah you can keep the change,” Chase says, as he turns, he notices Nico’s presence. “Oh hey there, I was just about to ask you, Hulu or Netflix?”

“I don’t care, you can play whatever.”

“Alrighty, suit yourself” he smirks, pulling up Jane the Virgin instead, “I hope you’re caught up.”

“As long as you aren’t one of those team Rafael or team Michael, we’re okay,” she says flatly.

“Let’s be real, if were on any team, it’d be Team Petra.”

Nico looked at him before breaking out into a smile. He hands her a slice of pizza as they both get situated.

Once the show began to run, Nico attempted to focus on the plot, but she lost interest in it very quickly. It wasn’t that it was a bad episode, instead she was too preoccupied with how she felt being in Chase’s apartment. The last time they saw one another it was end of her senior year, he had showed up at her graduation party.

“So is this one of those things I can’t ask about?” he speaks up, catching Nico off guard.

Nico gulps down her drink, already thinking of ways to avoid having this conversation with him.

“No, you can ask, I just won’t guarantee an answer.”

“How is it you’ve gotten even more insufferable?” he grins, shaking his head.

“I’m a Minoru, I have always been insufferable.” At that Chase laughs. Nico is aware that her family has always been a difficult one and if there was one person would could confirm that, it was Chase.

The story is as goes, after her parents had divorced, Chase and Janet were around a lot to witness the tragedy that was the Minoru family.

“Five questions?” he suggested. Nico contemplated before agreeing. Five questions had been a thing that her, Amy, and Chase had come up with when they were younger. The first person would ask five questions pertaining to any subject and the other person would have to choose one of them to answer honestly. It was kind of stupid but proven an effective ice breaker.

“Okay first question, why didn’t you go to the same school as Amy?” Nico groans, great he’s already pulling out the hard questions, “second, how do you seriously feel about my mother? Third, how’s Robert doing? Fourth, why have you been purposely avoiding me?” Nico gasped at that one. He knew?

“And lastly, how have you been these past few months?”

Nico pauses, taking in her possible choice.

“I-” she starts, her heart racing.

“I have been avoiding you because it is easier to run away from the truth then it is to deal with it,” she says honestly, deciding to go with the question that would surprise him the most, “when Janet and you became more prevalent, it was at a really low point in my life. I felt suffocated and trapped. That’s why I changed my mind last minute and ended up coming here instead of NYU with Amy. When my mom told me that you also attended school year, I thought about reaching out to you, but this was supposed to be my time for space from my fucked-up family. So, I avoided places I knew you would be at because it was easier that way.”

Nico watched as Chase processed the information. He looked as if he wanted to, but knew he couldn’t. There was an unspoken rule of five questions, in that, there are no follow-ups, no pondering, nothing unless the person answering the question wants to continue talking about it. Usually they didn’t follow this rule and Amy was the one who always broke it, but Chase never did. I guess consistency was his thing.

They fall into an awkward silence until Chase stands up.

“Please tell me you’re not lactose intolerant” he says, opening the fridge and pulling out a bucket of mint chocolate chip ice cream.

“Lucky for me, only Amy got those genes,” Nico responds. He walks back to his spot and places the carton right in front of him, he hands her the spoon.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Chase asked softly, clearly not wanting to cross any lines.

“Not exactly,” Nico confessed.

Thankfully, Chase had always been understanding and letting Nico be. They sat in silence for the most part, the only sound coming from the TV. This meant Nico had a lot of time with her thoughts. She knew she should probably talk to Chase, clear the air, but talking was never her strong suit.

“You must hate me,” Nico says numbly, catching Chase off guard.

“I don’t hate you Nico,” Chase replies quickly, “I actually regretted never getting close to you.”

“Seriously?”

“Of course Nico,” he cries out, “I understand where you’re coming from. I went from having a shitty father to having another mom and you get stuck with an almost step brother when you already have a sister to deal with. It hasn’t been the ideal transition, especially being forced to keep it a secret.”

“Exactly!” Nico sighs, “but it’s okay Chase, you were always closer to Amy. So, it’s understandable that when our moms got together, you and her got along better as siblings.”
“Doesn’t make it right,” Chase shakes his head, “You’re my sister too.”
Nico couldn’t help but laugh at that sentence, “that sounds so weird coming from your mouth.”

Chase stares at her before breaking out into a smile, “look, I was trying to be meaningful, okay?”

Nico laughs harder, lightly pushing him aside.

“It’s funny, I haven’t even told my best friends about your side of the family,” Chase ponders.

“You have friends?” Nico jokes, liking this side of Chase. He nudges her before, taking the bucket away from her.

“Just for that, no more ice cream for you,” Chase scolds. Nico narrows her eyes shrugging her shoulders. Chase takes that as a win and places the carton between them once again.

“I mean what I said Neeks,” Chase mumbles, “but I also understand that you need space, so when you need me, just know that I’m here for you.”

Nico stopped and stared at him. She could feel tears start to well up. This part of Chase shocked her because he was the last person she would ever think about opening up too. Yet, here he was being so caring and understanding, something she has never actually witnessed. Regret washed over her. Maybe if she had been less focused on hating him and his family, she would’ve given him a chance when they were younger
“Thank you Chase,” she says genuinely, “when did the boy become a man?”

Chase smirks, “when did the goth become so soft?”

Nico playfully pushed him aside, “don’t call me soft.”

They spent the rest of the night talking about school, life, at one point they even talked about when and if their moms were to come out about their relationship, how that would change everything. Once they ran out of ice cream, Nico had called it quits and they both shuffled to bed.

That night she went to sleep, she felt a certain peace that she hadn’t felt for a very long time.

 

 

The following morning, however, that peace was rudely interrupted by none other than Chase.

KNOCK KNOCK

“NICO,” he yells, opening the door, “it’s time to get up!”

“No, leave me alone Chase,” she grumbled.

“But yesterday you agreed you’d come with me. Get up, get out, get healthy!” he says excitedly. She groans and throws one of the pillows from her bed towards the door.

Chase dodges the pillow but gets the hint, “okay grumpy, but just know that you could be spending precious time with your brother.”

Nico groans and attempts to throw another pillow at him.

Nico then falls back asleep for a few more hours and when she finally decides to get up from bed, its already lunch time. She gets ready for the day, knowing she would have to face Gert soon. When she finishes packing, she steps out of the room to find that Chase had returned with muffins.

“Hey there sleepyhead” she rolls her eyes at him and walks over to the refrigerator to grab something to drink, “here, try one of these,” he holds out the box of muffins.

She looked at him before grabbing the muffin that was already in his hand. Wow this was good.

“Delicious, right? Timely’s has the best muffins,” he smiles, grabbing another muffin, “so what are your plans for today?”

“I don’t know yet, but maybe when I figure it out, I’ll let you know.” she admits. Nico knew that Gert and Penelope were probably looking for her since she hasn’t been back to her dorm.

“Does that mean you’re done running away from me?” he teases. Nico knew he didn’t mean harm from his statement, but she felt guilty anyways. It had always been easier for her to keep her family life (which included Chase) separate from her actual life, the life she had built here. Chase still didn’t know that Gert was her best friend. Once Janet had moved in her sophomore year of high school, her mom made sure that Amy and Nico never had friends over. For most of her life, she had always been at Gert’s place, luckily for her, Gert never questioned it.

“If you give me more muffins, I’ll consider,” Nico finally responds, smirking.

Chase smiles back at her, “I already gave you a place to stay, now you want muffins too?”

Before Nico could say something snarky back her phone began to ring.

“Ugh, not now,” she sighed and answered the call, “Hi mom”

Chase raises his eyebrows as Nico mouthed ‘it’s the devil herself’. Chase smirks before excusing himself from the room.
“Nico. Your father and I want to make sure you are still attending the release party.”

“Of course mother,” Nico groaned internally, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”“I am glad to hear you say that Nico. Will you need a plus one invitation?”

“No mom.” “But you accompany Penelope, correct? Her parents had made a reservation and since you two are roommates, I assume you both arrive in one vehicle.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Of course, her mother only calls to remind her of her duties to the family. Nico couldn’t say she was surprised by that anymore.

“Well if that’s all you needed to say, I guess I’ll see you at the gala in a few weeks,” Nico begins before her mother interrupted once more.

“Amy will also be attending. I will need you to pick her up from the airport that day before you come back home.”

“What? No!” Nico quickly responds, “I mean, where will she say? There is no room for her in my dorm, it’s pretty small.”

“She will actually be staying at Chase’s place,” her mother says coolly. “I will see you both then. Goodbye Nico.”

Before Nico could protest, the call was over. She stares numbly at the table in front of her for a few minutes, not hearing Chase appear behind her.

“You okay?”

“Yup,” she mumbles, irritated, “did you know?”

He slouches a bit, his face displayed with guilt, “About Amy? I got a text message from my mom a few days ago,” he holds up his phone, “I’m sorry Nico.”“Nothing to be sorry about, she is your best friend,” Nico bites back. She didn’t mean to snap at him. She just couldn’t help but feel frustrated. Just when she felt like she was taking a step forward with Chase, Amy pushed her two steps back.

Chase’s face falls causing Nico to feel slightly guilty.

“You know what, I should really get going. I have things I have to do today anyways,” Nico says, “I’m sorry, it’s just-” she pauses trying to find the right words to explain her frustrations.

“Family,” Chase finishes for her, “Nico I get it. I really do. I meant what I said last night,” he stretched his arm out towards her and in his hand, was a key, “use it sometime, okay?”

Nico stares at his hand before reaching out to take the key. Chase nods at her, content that Nico had the key in her hand. He retreats to his room leaving Nico alone once again.

Maybe having someone like Chase around wasn’t that bad.


Once Nico leaves Chase’s apartment, she decides to grab lunch before heading over to Gert’s place.

“Would you look who it is?” Gert snaps, “You still own a phone, right?”

Nico groans in response.

“Or did you somehow forget how to use it?”

“I was busy,” Nico explains, walking past Gert and into her room, “is your roommate here?”

“Nope, Elena had to go home, something about her abuelita taking a spontaneous trip to Cuba,” Gert responds, shutting the door behind her. “So, are you going to tell me where have you been all day?”

“I’ve been cooped up in my dorm.” Nico knew she shouldn’t be lying to Gert, but telling her she was with Chase was not an option.

“Uh huh,” Gert raises her eyebrow, “so you weren’t out seducing Josie’s girlfriend?”

Nico coughs, remembering that Gert doesn’t know that Karolina and Josie’s girlfriend were the same person.

“N-no. The girlfriend didn’t even show. I waited around for a few more minutes before heading back to my dorm. Then I had to finish a couple assignments. You know with finals approaching.”

Gert stares at her intently before joining her on the bed.

“Okay, have you spoken to Penelope? How did her conversation with Josie go?” Gert goes to lay down on her side of the bed. Nico drops her backpack on the floor, before joining her. She knew that the conversation didn’t go well but she hasn’t seen Penelope all day. However, if she says that she doesn’t know, she knows Gert will think something is up.

“Sadly it did not go well, apparently, Josie kicked her out,” Nico responds. She had to make it sound as if Penelope had told her, or else her whole story would fall apart, “she’s just not ready to really talk about it.”

Gert nods her head, accepting Nico’s answer. Gert then changes the topic and begins talking about her day.

Since they had no exact plan for tonight, they both decided that they would just stay in and have a Brooklyn-Nine-Nine marathon. Nico jumped at the idea, hoping that this would keep Gert from asking too many questions. Three episodes in, her phone vibrates for the hundredth time that day.

Penelope Park
N, where have you been? I have a proposition for you. Just call me when you get this.

Nico stared at the message before turning her phone around. Tomorrow. Talking to Penelope will be a tomorrow problem.


Sadly, the universe had other plans for her.

They were only six or maybe seven episodes in when Nico finally realized that Gert had passed out next to her.

11:08 PM

It wasn’t even that late yet, so she had enough time to finish at least two more episodes and still get a solid eight hours of sleep.

Or so she thought.

RING RING RING

Nico jolts at the sound that echoed in the quiet room. She quickly silences it before it could wake Gert up. Her eyes dart to her purple headed friend who hasn’t moved a single inch. Oh, thank you Lord. She looks down and sees that it’s Penelope calling her. That’s odd. Penelope never calls her. Not even when it’s important. She always says that she would rather say whatever she needs to say in person.

This could only mean one thing.

Without out a doubt, she climbs out of the sheets and walks into the hall.

“Hey P, is everything okay?”


Hope Mikaelson does not cry. Much less gets her heart broken.

Her family was one of the most powerful and influential families in the world. Her father and mother have always raised her to be powerful and strong.

Right now, she was far from powerful or strong.

When she arrived back on campus, she didn’t know where to take Penelope. The last thing she wanted was to take her back to her dorm, where Lizzie could potentially show up. Who was she kidding? She probably wouldn’t. But it wasn’t a risk she wanted to take.

So, she called the one person who probably knew what to do.

“Nico?” she mumbles weakly, wiping away the wetness from her eyes. She didn’t even realize she had been crying.

“Hope?” Nico questions, her voice raised higher, “is everything okay? Where’s Penelope?”

“Sh-she’s fine,” Hope stumbles out, “I just need your help right now.”

“Okay, where are you both right now?”

“On campus, near Rawlings Dorm, Parking Lot A,” Hope says.

“Hold on.” Nico says before the line goes dead.

A few minutes go by before she recognizes a figure approach them. Hope steps out of her car to find a sweaty girl wearing what looked like panda pajamas.

“Where is she?” Nico responds, panting.

“Right here,” Hope opens the passenger door revealing a snoring brunette.

Nico glances at her, checking to make sure she was okay before turning her focus back on Hope, “let’s bring her back to our dorm.” Hope nods, walking over to lift Penelope up.

Penelope begins to stir, going from deadweight to combative.

“Stop tickling me Hope,” Penelope slurs, attempting to push Hope off her. Instead she stumbles right into Nico’s arms. “Mmmm you smell good tiny one,” she says, giggling.

Hope and Nico make eye contact, both holding a look mixed with amusement and confusion.

“Quit being difficult P,” Nico hisses, after the second attempt Penelope made to ‘escape’ their grasp.

“Shhh, you sound like my friend Nico,” Penelope places her head onto Nico’s shoulder, shifting all her weight onto Nico’s side, this causes Nico to suddenly lose balance, almost dropping Penelope, “but you can’t be Nico because Nico is mad at me.”

“Penelope.” Nico groans, attempting to carefully push her towards Hope.
Once they make it up their dorm room, they immediately place Penelope into her bed. Within minutes, the green-eyed brunette was fast asleep.

“Thank you,” Hope says quietly. Nico nods her head before walking into the kitchen area of their dorm. Hope follows, taking a seat at their tiny kitchen table.

“Did you want a drink?” Nico asks, opening the refrigerator.

“I’m not really a fan of alcohol,” Hope declines. Nico sends her a pointed look before grabbing her Brita and two cups.

“I was talking about water,” Nico smirks, placing the cup in front of Hope, “but I get it, I’m not a fan of alcohol either.”

Hope nods, taking a sip from her cup as they fell into an awkward silence.

“I-” Nico begins.

“So-” Hope starts.

They both pause what they are about to say before Nico speaks up again.

“You can go first.”

“Okay so everything started when I forced Penelope to come to the dinner.”

 

From there, Hope explained the entire day from when Penelope had stepped into her car to her break up with Lizzie to interrupting a moment between Josie and Penelope.

Nico couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with the information Hope was giving her. The only thought ringing in her mind was that she needed to have a talk with Penelope tomorrow.

“Wow, that’s um-” Nico expresses, “are you okay?”

Teary eyed, Hope shakes her head, “Far from it.”

Nico scoots closer to her, pulling the red-headed girl into her embrace, the same way Hope did for her a few hours ago.

“I lost her,” Hope whispers quietly, “I really lost her this time.”

“I’m so sorry Hope,” Nico murmurs, still holding onto Hope. However, the tighter she held her the harder she seemed to cry.

Out of all the possible situations and scenarios that could’ve happened tonight, this was the last thing Nico could ever expect.

Chapter Text

Karolina wakes up alone for the first time in weeks. Ever since her and Josie had hatched their ‘fake dating’ scheme, Josie has taken a sort of permanent residence in Karolina’s dorm, which she didn’t mind, of course. However, after everything that has occurred last night, Josie stayed with Lizzie. Not that Karolina would ever admit it, but it felt kind of good to wake up alone in her own bed.

Before she could even relish in that fact, her phone started to buzz.

Chase ‘ur bff’ Stein
Hey K, Alex and I will be at my place today at 10:30 am. Time for annual BRO hang out. R u in?

Pls say yes. If I hear him talk about Livvie one more time, I may actually self-destruct

Also, did you already text Gert about Saturday?


Alex ‘ur real bff’ Wilder
Chase's apt. 10am.

Jk. 10:30am. Chase can’t tell time.

If I have to hear Chase talk about Gert anymore, my brain may actually explode.

 

Karolina laughs. Alex, Chase, and her have been best friends since they were kids, due to their parents. Alex and Chase didn’t want to admit it, but they were more alike than what they let people think.

Karolina glances at the clock that read 9:25AM. At least she had time to herself before she had to meet the boys. Maybe she should go out for a run or stop by Timely’s. The possibilities were endless for her.

She just had to get out of bed first.


When Penelope woke up, she felt as if her head had been through the washer on full spin. Every limb in her body ached. She thought back to the night before, recalling the last thing she remembered.

Oh, fuck. Josie.

Ugh she was so stupid. Josie was right there, inches apart from her and then she threw up. Just as she was going to kiss her. Fuck. Now she had to go talk to Josie. She had to explain everything. As she attempted to move, her mind started to pound even harder.

Why did the sun have to come up this early in the morning? She slowly feels around, her head beginning to spin.

Okay, on the count of three, turn around. 1….2….

“There’s some Advil next to you,” a voice speaks up.

Penelope groans, “too loud,” she mumbles weakly, turning her head slowly to find Nico on their couch, reading a book.

“Hey,” Penelope says, before grabbing the bottle of Advil on her desk. When she looks up, she notices that Nico’s bed is occupied.

“Did you bring someone home?” Penelope smirks, raising her eyebrow.

“Actually-” Nico starts, before she is cut off by another voice.

“It’s me Penelope,” Hope says, revealing herself from the sheets.

Penelope gives her an odd look before facing Nico. Right from the bat, she knew she was in trouble. Nico had her ‘mom’ look on and that could only mean one thing, a lecture was brewing. The last time she got the mom look was when she told Nico that she had broken up with Josie.

Penelope inhales, taking a deep breath, “okay, just come out and say it already.”

Nico looks up from her book, arching her eyebrow.

“I should get going,” Hope says, getting up from Nico’s bed, “thank you again for letting me stay Nico.”

Nico nods, sending her a small smile, “of course Hope, you’re welcome anytime.”

Hope nods her head before turning to face Penelope, “I’ll see you later.”

Penelope sends a small wave back. When Hope left the room, the silence in the air hung thick.

Might as well get this over with, Penelope thought to herself.

“Nico,” Penelope starts, “I’m sorry.”

Nico remains quiet, instead of responding she turns and walks into their kitchen area.

“Look, I didn’t know about Karolina until last night. If I had known, I would have never sent you to speak to her,” Penelope tries again. Silence.

“Ugh, Nico, just speak to me already,” Penelope groans, her headache worsening, “You know how much I hate the silent treatment.”

Nico reappears holding two cups of warm tea. She walks over to Penelope and hands one to her. Penelope sends her a confused look.

“Is this a peace offering?” she jokes, hoping it would make her smile. She was wrong. Nico remains neutral, walking over to her bed. She settles down before taking a sip of her tea.

At this point, Penelope had decided to shut her mouth. Knowing Nico, she would speak when she was ready.

What she didn’t expect is what would come out of her mouth.

“You have to move on from Josie.”


“Did you text her?” Chase asks expectantly, as he opened the front door of his apartment. Karolina ignores him and walks in, saying hi to Alex instead.

“What he meant to say,” Alex spoke up, “is we went ahead and bought some muffins, so please dig in.”

“Thank you Alex,” Karolina smiles, sitting down on the couch giving Chase a look.

“Hey, I just wanted to remind you,” Chase says defensively.

“As a matter of fact, I did text her this morning. She asked if she could bring a friend and I said yes, so consider your game night a go.”

Chase squealed like an excited child who was told he was going to Disney Land for the first time ever. Karolina found it a bit amusing, but comforting. Chase had always had a thing for Gert, if only he could get pass his insecurities and actually put himself out there. This was always odd because (if you ask Alex and Karolina) Chase never had any problem with the ladies.

Alex stares at him, as if Chase had grown another head, “wow, you haven’t even talked to her and you’re already whipped.”

Chase sticks his tongue out, “like you aren’t with Livvie.”

Before Alex could continue, Karolina spoke up, “okay, before you two hash it out, do you want to hear about what happened at dinner?”

They both nod their heads, intrigued. Karolina runs through the entire night with them, even mentioning the awkward break up between Josie’s sister and this girl name Hope. She admitted to them that she kind of felt as if it was her fault why everything spiraled out of control.

“I knew Josie wasn’t over Penelope, but I assumed that Penelope was over her,” Karolina mentions, “I mean, the way Josie made it sound, Penelope broke up with her because she didn’t love her anymore. But every time I looked in her direction, she was glaring at me.”

Chase and Alex give each other a look (the yeah, that girl probably hates you now look). Karolina sighs, catching onto their glance.

“Damn Lina,” Alex says, “so what are you going to do now?”

Karolina pauses to think; she wasn’t sure what they meant. Was she supposed to do something.

The two boys noticed her confusion and before Karolina could ask, Chase stepped in.

“We mean, are you going to break up with Josie?”

Karolina gives them both a look, becoming even more confused. Break up with Josie? They were never together. They only decided to ‘fake-date’ so that she could earn money from the study. Oh crap, the study. Guess that wasn’t an option now. It didn’t really matter to her anymore, not after everything.

“I’m confused, why would I break up with her if we were never really together?” Karolina asks.

“It’s all about formalities Dean,” Alex says.

“Yeah, if you formally break up with her, then she has no choice but to tell her friends and then that Penelope girl won’t hate you anymore.”

Karolina began to understand what they were trying to get at. She truly cared for Josie and she could see how much Penelope meant to her. She would have to talk to Josie first but it seemed like there was only one thing left to do.

Formally break up with Josie Saltzman.


Penelope fell into a long silence as the words hung in the air.

Nico could feel the weight of her words course through Penelope’s mind. The thing about their relationship, Nico never asked for much. Usually Penelope would convince Nico to join in on a crazy plan, but Nico never asked much from Penelope.

This was probably the most she was going to ever ask of the raven-haired girl.

After a few minutes, had gone by, Nico contemplated speaking again, maybe this time explaining why she said what she had said.
On the other hand, Penelope was confused. Why was Nico bringing this up suddenly? Where could this be coming from? I mean yes, she did send Nico to meet Josie’s girlfriend and yes that girl ended up being the long-lost love of her life, but that didn’t give Nico any right to decide who she was going to be with or not.

“No,” Penelope says firmly. No, she was not going to move on from Josie, not before explaining herself.

Nico looks up from her cup at Penelope. Her face was unreadable but Penelope knew what was coming next.

“Look Nico, I’m sorry okay? I take full blame as to why you met Karolina yesterday but that doesn’t give you any right to tell me who I can and cannot be with. Josie and I are complicated, yes. But you weren’t there last night. You didn’t see-”

“Why can’t you let her go P?” Nico butts in, frustrated.

Penelope widens her glance. Nico was many things, but upset was one that Penelope was not used to seeing.

“Cause it’s Josie,” Penelope says flatly, as if her response was enough. For Nico, it wasn’t.

“That’s not enough P,” Nico argues back, “it’s not enough for you to ruin relationships.”

Penelope pauses, mouth slightly opened. She was hurt at the fact that Nico saw it in that way.

“What are you even talking about?” Penelope raises her voice.

“I’m talking about Hope, Lizzie, and,” Nico pauses, struggling to say her name, “and Karolina.”

Penelope stares at her, unable to respond, prompting Nico to continue.

“Hope and Lizzie broke up, because Hope went after you.” Nico states, “and Karolina. Sh-she’s a good person, okay? She deserves someone like Josie.”

“And you’re saying I don’t?” Penelope counters, hurt displayed on her face.

Nico was instantly filled with regret, “Penelope I-”

“No, no I get it. You want me to stop going for Josie so she can ride off into the sunset with Karolina, who you continue to neglect as the literal love of your life,” she spats back.

“She’s not, that’s not,” Nico struggles to form words, “I don’t mean it like that!”

“Then what do you mean?” Penelope exasperates.

“I mean, you don’t know Karolina the way I do,” Nico says, “or the way I used too. She’s a good person who I’m sure would never hurt Josie-”

“The way I have,” Penelope finishes, looking down at her sheets, “that’s what you were about to say, weren’t you?”

Nico pauses, wanting to choose her next words carefully. She didn’t want to set Penelope off but she needed to get her point across.

“I’m just saying P, they’re good people who seem genuinely happy with one another. They both don’t deserve this type of drama.”

Penelope remains silent, letting Nico’s words resonate with her. She hated to admit this but Nico had made very valid points. Karolina was sweet and if it weren’t for Josie, she was sure she could get along with her. And Josie… God, if only she hadn’t fucked up initially. She wanted one more chance with Josie but at what cost?

Penelope looks up at Nico, noticing the distraught hidden behind her fake cool demeanor. Penelope knew that Nico was the best at putting up a front. She had too. The family they were both born in didn’t allow them to have feelings. Parks and Minorus were known for being cutthroat and ruthless. But, they have been friends for so long, she knew when Nico was putting up a façade.

“Okay,” Penelope says, “I’ll leave Josie alone. For good.”

Nico looks at her in shock. She was scared Penelope would say no, then again, no wasn’t an answer she was willing to take.

Nico hated the fact that she was asking this from Penelope, but she just didn’t want to risk Penelope ruining Karolina’s chance at happiness. If this is what it took, Nico would do it.

“Thank you,” Nico responds, and Penelope nods her head before getting up to go to the bathroom, leaving Nico alone with her thoughts.

As Penelope made her way to the bathroom, she felt her heart break. She hated the fact that Nico was right. She was bad for Josie. All she did was hurt Josie and cause a scene. She recalls to the previous night. Josie seemed truly happy with Karolina. Who was she to break them apart?

Josie deserved better and she was far from it.


“Lizzie?” Josie speaks up, holding a plate of her twin sister’s favorite foods. She looks down at her sister’s bed only to find a figure wrapped in blankets.

“Go away,” Lizzie responds back, causing Josie to sigh.

“Lizzie, it’s almost dinner time and you haven’t eaten anything all day.”

“I don’t care,” Lizzie grumbles, “just leave.”

Josie sighs, placing the food down on the desk table before laying on top of a mountain of blankets that resembled her sister.

“Josie please,” Lizzie whines, “you’re suffocating me.”

“If you promise me you’ll eat, I’ll stop,” Josie bargains, causing Lizzie to groan.
“Fine,” she mutters, “just get off, you’re too heavy.

Josie slides off and Lizzie pulls the blanket off her, revealing a very distraught girl. Following the night before, Josie had tried her best to figure out what exactly happened. Lizzie wasn’t exactly in a talking mood and Hope, well Hope hasn’t exactly responded back to her first couple of text messages. When she had swung by to speak to her in person, she wasn’t even at her dorm (or she was and she wasn’t answering). The point is, Josie was clueless as to what happened between the two.

While Lizzie ate, Josie struggled to find the right time to bring up her questions.

“Just come out and say what you’re thinking,” Lizzie speaks up, “the internal battle going on in your mind is starting to hurt my head.”

Josie pauses, her eyes slightly narrowing, “what happened between you and Hope last night?”

Lizzie stops looking down at her plate. Tears began to well in her eyes.

“I messed up Jo,” Lizzie says, her voice cracking. Within seconds, Lizzie had gone from crabby Lizzie to full on sad Lizzie. Josie sat and comforted her sister as she began to spill her heart out. How she found a girl in Hope’s dorm and they had been fighting that entire day, then when Hope tried to chase after Penelope, it felt like the final straw.Lizzie was so angry, she just ended their relationship, not even thinking of the consequences.

Josie listened. Something about the story hit home. The same argument Penelope and her had about Lizzie, but Penelope was the one to break it off. Also, part of her felt as if it was her fault. If she hadn’t brought Karolina, maybe Penelope wouldn’t have drunk too much and acted out and maybe Hope wouldn’t have run after her. If that didn’t happen, her sister might still have a girlfriend.

After Lizzie finishes telling her story, Josie holds onto her.

“I’m sorry Liz,” Josie says, after some time had passed.

Lizzie was confused. Why was her sister apologizing? She wasn’t the one who had broken up with the love of her life. The only person to blame was her.

“If I didn’t bring Karolina tonight, maybe Penelope wouldn’t have acted out and you would still be with Hope,” Josie whispers, looking down.

Lizzie’s face softens, wiping away her remaining tears, “Josie, it isn’t your fault. The only one to blame is Hope and I.”

“But I-”

“No buts Jo,” Lizzie cuts her off, “look, Karolina is great and if anything, I’m sorry last night was such a shit show, but since you’ve brought up Karolina, there’s something I needed to talk to you about.”

Josie knew what was coming next. Lizzie has never been fond of anybody Josie dated. Usually after the first meeting, Lizzie would go through a checklist, telling her all the things that were off putting about that person. She knew that it came from a place of love and over protection.

“Okay, go ahead” Josie states, just wanting to get this over with.

“It’s actually about you and Penelope,” Lizzie states.

“What are you talking about?” Josie questions, why did her sister need to talk about her ex?

“Josie, last night when you ran after her, I saw Karolina’s face,” Lizzie whispers, “and I’m pretty sure she saw the same thing we’ve all seen these past few months.”

“Which is what?” Josie asks, getting defensive.

“Your love for her,” Lizzie mumbles quietly.

Josie can’t believe it. She knew she would have to talk to Lizzie but not about Penelope. Never in a million years. After they had broken up, that was supposed to be the end of it.  

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Josie shakes her head, getting up. She couldn’t be here right now.

“Josie please don’t go,” Lizzie calls out, causing Josie to halt, “I don’t mean it in a bad way. What I’m trying to say is that I like Karolina for you. She’s kind and I can tell she makes you happy, but you need to be real with yourself if you’re going to be with her.”

Josie turns around once more to face her sister, “I don’t know what you are trying to get at Liz. ”

“I’m saying, be honest with yourself before you end up hurting somebody you care about,” Lizzie says, trying to get the point across to her without actually saying it.

Josie ended up staring at her, even more confused.

Lizzie sighs, “You have to tell Penelope how you feel about her.”

“WHAT?” Josie exclaims.

“Please don’t make me repeat it,” Lizzie groans, laying her back against her headboard. Josie freezes, mouth slightly opened.

“Obviously, I think you should talk to Karolina first, but let’s be real Jo, you’re still in love with Penelope,” Lizzie states, “and I haven’t known Karolina for long but I’m sure she’d be understanding.”

Josie just stares at her twin, in awe. Yes, today has been an unexpected day, but this was probably the most unexpected thing yet. Her sister, the one who probably hates Penelope the most, is encouraging her to get back together with Penelope. The same sister who named her ex-girlfriend Satan.

“I-I-I,” Josie stutters out, unable to form an exact sentence.

Luckily, Lizzie understands the confusion.

“Look Josie, I know I haven’t been on the best terms with Penelope, but being with Hope, I did get to know her, the more time I spent with her, the more I understood her. She’s annoying and dumb, but she has a good heart,” Lizzie clarifies.

Josie is speechless, to say the least. Just the idea of Penelope and her sister getting along, caused her heart to ache once again.

“I can’t Liz,” is all she could mutter out. “Hey, if you can’t, I’m not forcing you,” Lizzie says softly, walking over to hug her sister, “I just want you to be happy.”

“What if she hurts me again?” Josie whispers. Lizzie pulls away and looks at her endearingly.

“I don’t think Park is stupid enough to hurt you twice,” Lizzie responds,“but if she does, I’ll be the first to kick her ass.”

Josie laughs for the first time today.

They continue catching up throughout the night. Lizzie comes to the realization that she was in love with Hope and with that she was already planning ways to apologize to her, refusing to end up like Penelope and losing the one she loves (her words, not Josie’s).

Meanwhile Josie couldn’t help but think about what her sister had said. The idea of even getting back together with Penelope seemed so far out there. Her mind kept replaying their almost kiss. She knew that Karolina would understand (they were faking it after all) but the idea of speaking to Penelope terrified her.

And yet, it was a risk she was willing to take.

Maybe, just maybe Penelope and her would end up together after all.

 

Chapter Text

Josie Saltzman is terrible at making decisions. More so, she is terrible at confrontation. Everything was going great until the eye-opening conversation with her twin sister, which left her feeling even more confuse about her situation. Granted, she allowed herself to consider speaking to Penelope, but fear and uncertainty left her doing what she does best, avoiding the green-eyed girl.

It wasn’t too difficult for her to do since she’s been doing so way before she realized she may still be very much in love with her.

The only thing she could do without feeling anxious was speak to Karolina.

Which couldn’t happen until the end of this week. Little did Josie know, Karolina also intended on ending their arrangement.

“I can’t believe we’re breaking up,” Josie says out loud.

Karolina chuckles, relaxing her back on the wall side of her bed area, “I know, best three weeks our lives.”

Josie smiles at her before remembering why they were faking it in the first place, “what about the study?”

Karolina shrugs, “honestly, the guy there was supposed to give me a call, but I never got anything. It’s whatever, fall semester is almost over, I’ll probably just get another job.”

Josie nods her head, “I’m sorry again.”

“No need to apologize,” Karolina says, “it was fun while it lasted.”
Josie mumbles in agreement, before bringing up the topic that she has been wanting to talk about since she arrived at Karolina’s dorm.

“I almost kissed Penelope,” she blurts out, causing Karolina’s eyes to widen.

“Twice. I almost kissed her twice. Which I would have eventually gotten over and blamed as a temporary lapse in judgement. But then, Lizzie starts to scold me about being with you when I still clearly had feelings for Penelope, which I denied at the time, but now,” Josie sighs, “I don’t know what’s worst, having these feelings or being in denial so long, I haven’t done anything about them. And let’s not forget the fact that it was Penelope who broke up with me in the first place. How do I even know she still wants to be with me?”

Karolina leans forward, pressing her hand onto Josie’s hand, in attempt to comfort the brunette. After a few minutes of getting Josie to steady her breathing, Karolina speaks up.

“So, when you going to speak to Penelope about this?”

Josie groans. She didn’t know how to talk to Penelope. That was the problem. The last two times they had spoken didn’t work out for them, who’s to say this time would?

“I don’t know if I’m ready for that,” Josie’s shoulder slumped against the headboard. She was terrified. What if everyone was wrong and she didn’t love her anymore? What if talking to Penelope made things worse?

Karolina gives her a knowing look, “you deserve to be happy Josie.”

Josie sighs. Part of her wanted to believe what Karolina was saying, another part of her couldn’t. She was given two chances to fix things with Penelope, and each time she’s let her slip away.

“For the record, I’m pretty sure Penelope feels the same way. I mean, I’m not going to say that I am a very likable person, but I gave the girl free ice cream and she still continued to glare at me most of the night,” Karolina laughed.

Josie chuckles, “I’m still so sorry about that.”

“Don’t be sorry. It was fun and honestly I would love to do it again. This time as just your friend,” Karolina emphasizes.

Josie nods her head. Now that she was thinking about it, Penelope would definitely get along with Karolina. I mean, anybody could get along Karolina. The girl is literally walking sunshine.

“But the point is,” Karolina continues, “love is worth the risk. I may not be able to speak on your behalf but if you feel even the slightest chance that Penelope is the one for you, then you need to stop messing around and go get your girl.”

Josie titled her head. This was not the usual Karolina advice she was used to hearing.

“You need to be honest with how you’re feeling Josie,” Karolina says softly, “or else you’ll end up losing somebody you really care about.”

Josie lays her back against Karolina’s headboard, allowing her words to sink in.

“Okay,” Josie breathes out, “I’ll do it.”


Making the decision to speak to Penelope was easier said than done.

Josie didn’t expect it to be so hard until she was standing in front of her ex-girlfriend’s door for the past five minutes, still indecisive about the whole thing.

“God why did I let Karolina talk me into doing this,” Josie mumbles, lifting her hand up to the door. Well, it was now or never.

Within a few minutes, the door is opened revealing a very familiar girl.
“Josie?” Nico questions, her eyes widening, mouth slightly opened.

“Hey,” Josie mumbles, trying to remember where she’s seen this girl before. When she does remember, she realizes irony. This time, the roles were switched.

“You’re Hope’s friend,” Josie thinks hard before the name comes to her, “Nico, right?”

Nico nods her head, “yeah, that’s me.”

Josie nods her head, “nice to meet you again Nico.”

Nico smiles weakly at her, “what brings you here?”

That’s when realization hits Josie. The shirt that Nico was wearing belonged to Penelope. She would know since she was the one who gave it to her for their six-month anniversary. It was a printed Mickey Mouse shirt that said ‘I’m Hers’. As cringe as it was, Josie defended herself saying it was supposed to be a joke, but Penelope loved it enough to keep it.

Nonetheless, seeing a stranger wear it stung.

“Are you and Penelope-?” Josie questions, a feeling of dread suddenly washed over her. Of course, she was too late. Penelope didn’t wait for anybody.

Nico catches onto the implication that Josie was suggesting and quickly denies it.

“NO, no, no,” Nico remarked, “Penelope is just my roommate.”

Josie nods her head, letting out a breath of relief, “oh okay, is Penelope home?”

Nico shakes her head, “no she’s not here right now.”“Do you know when she’ll be back?” Josie questions, suddenly feeling nervous about this entire situation, as if she wasn’t already nervous to begin with.

Nico gives her a sad look and suddenly Josie knew something was wrong.

“Oh, um she’s actually gone,” Nico responds, “she finished all her classwork yesterday.”

“She’s done with the semester?” Josie asked, confused. She knew Penelope was smart but enough to finish all her finals?

“Yeah, I dropped her at the airport earlier this afternoon.”

Josie started to feel lightheaded.

“Did she say when she will be back?” Josie’s voice began to falter.

Nico shrugs, “she didn’t say, but she talked about how she couldn’t wait any longer, something about need a new start.”

Josie’s heart dropped. Oh.

“Oh okay,” Josie manages out, “thank you again, sorry for bothering you.”

Josie needed to get out of there. Penelope leaving only validated one thing. She didn’t want her. Or the very least, she was done waiting around. Josie had ultimately messed up and lost the love of her life.

As Josie began to turn away, she is quickly stopped.

“Wait Josie,” Nico stares at her with pity in her eyes, “you know how Penelope can be when she gets this way, it’s better just to leave her alone.”

You didn’t need to tell Josie twice.

Josie nods her head in agreement before promptly sprinting out of there.

As she made her way back to her dorm, she couldn’t help but process what happened. She felt empty and broken. When she finally entered her dorm, she was glad to find that Lizzie was not there. Unable to face her twin, she pulls out her phone and dials the one person who could make sense of all this.

The phone rang in her ears and her heart raced. She knew she shouldn’t be doing this, but no one was here to stop her.

When the phone finally connects, she hears the other voice on the same line. There was no going back from this.

“Hello?” the voice inquired, “Josie? Is that you?”

“Hi Mom, yes it’s me. I’m calling because I want to accept your offer.”


Nico didn’t mean to lie.

When Josie appeared at her dorm, looking for Penelope, Nico wanted to tell her the truth. Honestly. Instead, she panicked.

Penelope did leave (that part was true) but the reason she told Josie wasn’t. Penelope never needed space, she had left because her parents made her. They wanted their daughter to start this internship with their company for the rest of Christmas break.

After Josie left, Nico couldn’t help but feel guilty. She wasn’t intentionally trying to hurt Penelope or Josie. The truth was she would’ve love them together, if Karolina hadn’t been in the picture.

Seeing Karolina that day in the study reminded her of all the mistakes she’s made. And holding onto that regret is what motivated her to make sure that Karolina’s relationship worked out. It was the least she could do.

“Nico!” a voice presented at her door. Nico quickly got up and opened the door, revealing a frazzled Gert.

“Get dressed, we’re going out to night!” she grinned at her.

Nico groans, “do we have too? I was getting ready to binge watch the new Stranger Things season.”

Gert enters her room, “Stranger Things can wait.”

Nico shuts the door behind her before turning around to find Gert in Penelope’s closet.

“Gert, what are you doing?” Nico rushes to her side, folding the clothes that Gert was throwing onto Penelope’s bed.

“Don’t worry, I already asked Park for permission,” Gert responds, throwing more clothes onto the already messy bed.

Nico continued to protest until Gert gave her that ‘you better listen to me or else’ look. Once Gert finished rummaging through the pile of clothes, she hands Nico a white button up blouse and black jeans.

“Put this on,” she declares before moving into their bathroom.

“Gert, what are we doing?” Nico hesitates, not enjoying a single bit of this at all.

“If I tell you, then you’ll say no,” Gert responds, “just please get changed!”

Unsure, Nico decides to follow along anyways. Maybe going out with Gert would get her mind off this entire day.

When Gert comes back from the bathroom, she smiles widely, “well what do you know, Nico looks good in something that isn’t completely black.”

Nico rolls her eyes, “are you going to tell me what we’re doing?”

Gert shakes her head, “nope!”

“Gert.” Nico folded her arms.

Gert took a step forward, ignoring Nico’s pointed response and instead fixing her hair.

“Gert,” Nico repeats, moving her head away from Gert’s hands.

“Trust me Nico,” Gert says, finding her way back into Nico’s hair, “please.”

“Okay, fine,” Nico grumbles, “but you owe me for this.” “Deal!” Gert squeals, pulling Nico into a strong embrace, “I promise, you won’t regret this!”

Nico hoped she wouldn’t.


When Gert had gotten the text from Karolina about game night, she was originally going to deny it. Why would she want to submit herself to hanging out with Karolina’s friends? She had no reason too. Then Karolina mentioned that Chase would be there and he was looking forward to seeing her.

Well, if that was the case, who was she to say no?

The thing was, she knew she couldn’t handle this alone so she asked Karolina if she could bring a friend. Once the blonde agreed, she decided against telling Nico. If she knew, she would do everything to not show up.

The truth was, if anybody had asked Gert the reason for dragging Nico with her (or the fact that she agreed to go), she would tell you it was because she was trying to help her best friend get the girl of her dreams. It had nothing to do with the fact that Chase would be there too.

“Gert, we’ve been walking for thirty minutes now,” Nico groans, interrupting her train of thought.

Gert sent her a shut up and let me think look. She was not the best when it came to following directions, but if she told Nico where she was trying to go, Nico might say no and this was one of those things she couldn’t do without her tiny goth as support.

“I swear we’ve been circling this area for the past ten minutes,” Nico points out, “let me see the directions.”“NO!” Gert yelps, pulling the phone closer to her.

Nico was taken aback at her tone, “okay, okay, I won’t look, but please, for the love of God, check it again so we can get out of this heat.”

Gert nods her head and scrolls through her phone messages.

To: Blondie (Nico’s future gf)
Hey Karolina, my friend and I are a bit lost. Can you send the apartment number again?


Gert smirks at the name she has put into her phone for Karolina. Honestly, if Nico doesn’t kill her before tonight, she will be thanking her.


Blondie (Nico’s future gf)
Yeah no problem! It’s apt. 2906, we’re in the back of the complex.

If you are having trouble, I can come out and find you.


Gert quickly lifts her head up and notices that they are near apartment 3000. Oh, bless, they weren’t far at all.


Gert Yorkes
No it’s okay! I think I know where we’re going! Be there soon!


“C’mon, we’re close by!” Gert calls out, grabbing Nico’s hand and dragging her towards the right apartment.

They finally make it up to the second floor of the building 2900. Finally. Gert quickly rushes to the door and delivers two knocks. As she waited, her heart started to race. She could hear the sounds of voices through the door and started to grow anxious.

Breathe.

‘You’re doing this for Nico,’ she mumbled to herself. Not for Chase. Not for his brown eyes and captivating smile. Not for the boy you’ve been in love with for the past two years.

Apparently, her anxiety was contagious because Gert started to notice Nico suddenly become fidgety.

“Gert…” Nico whispers, eyes widening.

Before Gert could answer, the door opened revealing a tall blonde with her bright ocean blue eyes.

“Hey, you made it,” she exclaims, smiling at the two of them.

“Yeah Dean, thanks for your vague instructions,” Gert jokes, “by the way, this is my friend Nico.”

Karolina’s eyes focus on Nico, her smile widening, “I believe we’ve met already Gert, but it’s nice to see you again Nico.”