Penelope Park was never one keen on being kept waiting. It was usually the other way around, line up's of boys and girls alike, waiting for as much as a second glance.
So when the universe made it’s personal goal to play the long game with her heart, Penelope wasn’t having it.
At the stroke of midnight on her twenty-first birthday, the words embedded into the skin of Penelope’s wrist read, “Can you pass me the joint?”.
She has to admit it was quite underwhelming, with others conventionally getting introductions or fleeting remarks. If it was drugs that her soulmate desired, it was drugs she could provide.
For Penelope, time was something precious, something she couldn’t waste waiting around for someone who’d only show themselves when she’s likely a middle-aged adult relying on drugs to cope with a shitty nine-to-five job.
Penelope Park could do better.
She could easily speed up the ethically questionable process in her favour.
Finding parties in Seattle wasn’t exactly difficult. Despite weed being a federal offence, the city was still littered with recreational usage of the recently legalized drug.
She tagged along with MG to one of his casual parties. Someone with experience would be a strong asset and he was more than willing to accompany Penelope on her ‘quest for love’.
Penelope wasn’t completely foreign to weed, she’d tried some in her high school years but found the overpriced and half passed goods weren’t worth it.
Walking into the club filled with marijuana smoke was completely different from hiding under the bleachers as a sophomore. The environment was overwhelming in the best way, with shots lining the bar and people lighting up pipes in the back.
“Okay, so the dealer’s are in the back.” MG pulls out a few bills from his pocket, straightening out his shirt to look presentable. “You stay here, I’ll go use some classic MG charms and maybe get us a cheaper deal.”
Penelope puts her hand in front of him, stopping MG, before eying the group of men huddled together in a corner.
The boys looked to be in their early twenties, obviously frat boys by their matching varsity jackets.
She could work with this.
“I’ll go,” Penelope pats him on his shoulder as a reassuring gesture. MG seemed hesitant, still fiddling with the bills in his hands. “Getting what I want is my specialty it’ll be simple, you stay here.”
It took nothing but a few flirty one-liners and a wink before she was off with a gram, free of charge.
“Damn, Peez. I'll admit, the Park charm is unrivalled.” MG leads her to a table in the back, holding out rolling sheets, and a piece of paper which she presumed to be the filter.
Penelope's rolling was clearly rookie, as the joint was falling apart at the hems with the edges sticking out more than they should.
“Hold up,” MG searched through his bag, pulling out random items before finding a lighter, and igniting it. “Here, just light it for a slow burn.”
Penelope held the joint out to the lighter, careful not to accidentally burn it wrong and waste everything. She really didn’t want to go back over there and indulge in fraternity boy’s and their meek views on women.
The tip if the joint caught light, and began its slow descent towards the filters. It was intimidating honestly, even for Penelope Park.
Nevertheless, she brought the joint up to her lips, and inhaled.
It stung at first, but Penelope would rather suffocate due to lack of oxygen than cough pathetically in front of everyone, so she kept herself together and held the smoke in her lungs.
It was warmer than she remembered, maybe the lack of shitty high school toilets and half of the weed not being oregano compensated for better quality.
MG watched her intently, seemingly worried, so she gave him a reassuring smile in return.
She was okay, she was going to be better than okay.
It was around the fifth inhale when things started to kick in. Penelope felt her shoulders relaxed and the joint coming up to her lips every couple of minutes became muscle memory.
Was she supposed to inhale deeper? Would it work better if she took a shot beforehand? How did she end up here again?
Penelope doesn’t remember, or care, honestly. The music is throbbing in synch with her irregular heartbeat and the flashing lights make the whole scene look as if it’s in slow motion.
MG seems to get the cue that she’s relaxed into it, and leaves with a thumbs up in her direction.
So Penelope sits there, a joint between her fingers and smoke exhaling from her lungs, and waits.
It’s easier said than done.
More than 20 parties later, and the only people that ever approached Penelope were those with the intention to flirt, or offer her cocaine.
She politely declines both.
She’d attended festivals to clubs and everything in between, always finding a calm spot to sit and scope out the crowd for her potential soulmate.
Penelope had thought up at least a dozen one-liners she could use as a response to “can you pass me the joint?”.
Something along the lines of “mind shotgunning it back to me after?” sounded smooth enough.
But no matter how greatly Penelope prepared for the opportunity, it never arose.
From getting high in clubs next to airports; just in case her soulmate was fated to travel from another country, to smoking in the middle of the woods, so she could at least cross out the option of her soulmate being a rural log-cabin living loner.
She went as far to attended a small house party with the hopes of potentially being requested to pass the joint to the next person in the circle.
Penelope was confident in her odds, but of course, the universe wasn’t going to let her have it that easily.
The boy next to her, Jed Jensen, asked for a hit by simply stating, “Sauce me the joint.”
Her chances had immediately been crushed by the development of modern slang.
And so she found herself here, at another club party, smoking in the corner, and complaining to Landon Kirby.
“I’ve tried everything, honestly it shouldn’t be this difficult.” Penelope took a hit from her joint, and blew out away from Landon. “My statistical chances are off the charts it's unbelievable.”
“Maybe you should just let the universe take its course, everything happens on purpose maybe just stick around and things will work out,” Landon responded as if it was the most simplistic thing in the world to just follow fate.
“Boo. You’re all talk because you found Hope in fucking middle school, not everyone’s that privileged.” Penelope crushed the stub of her joint into an ashtray on the bar. “Take a hit and maybe see things from the shitty perspective of others.”
“I can’t, I have asthma.” Landon took another sip from his drink, before passing it to Penelope.
Penelope grabs the bottle without hesitance, and takes a big sip, “Damn, sucks for you.”
“Look,” Landon starts, making serious eye contact with Penelope. ”When the time comes, you’ll know, and I get it, not being in control can be terrifying and restricting because the only person that’s ever known us is us. And I know after everything it's a lot to ask, but maybe try putting some trust into the fact that the universe will give you your happy ending, and that you really deserve it.”
Landon Kirby wasn’t the smartest of Penelope’s friends or the strongest, but he had his moments, and this definitely was one of those moments.
If Penelope Park was sure of anything, it was that villain’s don’t get happy endings, and that she was anything but a hero. More than anything, she desperately needed her happy ending. Before the universe changed it's mind, before it decides that Penelope was a mistake; a glitch that doesn’t deserve it, and before the privilege of being given a soulmate can be ripped from her grasp.
Penelope Park was given a name on her twenty-first birthday despite everything that she did, but it could just as easily be taken away.
Penelope held her face stoic, and took another swig from the bottle.
Landon took that as his cue to walk away.
After another disappointing round of sitting around smoking and waiting for a potential candidate to approach and ask for a hit, Penelope took to the streets to clear her sorrows.
Wandering through Seattle aimlessly at 3 am high as fuck clearly wasn’t the brightest idea.
Not even comparable to bright white lights if the hospital.
MG was sitting at the edge of her bed, playing with a Snickers wrapper, but as soon as he realized she was awake he dropped it to the floor. “Shit, Peez. What the fuck were you doing?”
Penelope sat up and started stretching, before wincing in pain at her right shoulder. “I honestly don’t fucking know, where am I?”
MG seemed to retract at that, but under Penelope’s glare he broke,”You were so out of it and you fell- and your shoulder was all weird- and I didn’t know what to do- so I panicked and I called Lizzie, don’t be mad at me it was for your own good.”
Penelope groaned. “You didn’t.”
Being in a hospital was bad enough, but with Lizzie Saltzman playing doctor it couldn’t be worse. Penelope would never hear the end of it.
As if right on cue, the room doors opened, and in stepped the tall blonde.
With a model of the human skeletal system.
“Glad to see you're awake, patient number 7,” Lizzie smirked as Penelope rolled her eyes and tried to bury herself under the hospital blankets.
“Hey, Lizzie.” MG smiled and waved at her, from roughly 6 feet away.
“Hi, MG.” Lizzie smiled back and gave a small wave with the tips of her fingers on top of her clipboard, ”Mind giving me and my patient some alone time for a serious discussion on her condition?”
“Yeah, of course. No problemo.” MG awkwardly walked out, turning around mid-walk to glance back at Lizzie.
They’ve been soulmates for almost a year and still acted like awkward and lovestruck idiots when meeting. Penelope fought the urge to make a gagging noise while under Lizzie’s care.
Lizzie would totally put Penelope in for year-long physical therapy as punishment for a snide comment.
“So, Ms. Park, mind explaining how in the living hell did you end up falling down a fire escape of a building that you don’t live in, popping out your acromioclavicular joint, and still managing to show up at my boyfriend’s house an hour later, on non-medical marijuana?” Lizzie deadpanned, with an underlying tone of amusement in her voice.
“It’s just the head bitch in charge lifestyle Lizzie, you wouldn’t understand,” Penelope smirked back and shrugged, satisfied with the irritated scrunch of Lizzie’s nose to the topic of their high school years.
“Please, Penelope. Maybe learn to apply this head-bitch-in-charge lifestyle into scenarios where I don’t have to pop bones back into place.” Lizzie rolled her eyes and scribbled some notes on her clipboard.
Penelope really hoped it wasn’t year long physical therapy, but before she could even question it, Lizzie’s words played back into her head. “Wait, did I break something? Fuck up my shoulder or some shit.”
“No, not necessarily, but that’s what Steven’s here for!” Lizzie wheels the life-size human skeleton over to the edge of Penelope’s bed. “Here you see this part of the shoulder, you dislocated it.”
Lizzie grabs the part of the statue, and without even batting an eyelash, rips a section of the bone from the skeleton and hands it to Penelope.
Penelope runs her fingers over the piece of bone, eyeing the empty hole in Steven’s shoulder and trying not to thank god for not making herself undergo surgery under Lizzie Saltzman’s jurisdiction.
“That is your acromioclavicular joint, and I honestly don’t know how you even managed to dislocate it, but all is well, and you’ll just be sore for a while.” Lizzie reaches into her pocket and places a red lollipop on the table next to Penelope’s desk.
“Thanks, doc.” Penelope gives Lizzie an awkward smile, and holds back her mockery of how Lizzie picked cherry, her favourite flavour, and chose to give it to her no questions asked.
“Try not to almost die so often, Park. It would make my job a lot easier.” Lizzie marks down final words on her clipboard, and stops before the door. “But a lot less fun I guess.”
Penelope doesn’t miss the playful challenge of a smile Lizzie gives her as she turns and exits the room. Despite their distaste and competitive nature throughout high school, they’d come to a mutual agreement to tolerate each other.
Mostly because Penelope Park couldn’t keep herself out of the hospital and Lizzie Saltzman worked an ungodly amount of shifts.
“Josie can you pick up Steven, patient number 2 just woke up,” Lizzie shouts from somewhere behind the door through the hallways, and perfectly on cue, a tall brunette with a stethoscope around her neck walks through the doors.
She seemed to equally be in a rush as she grabs Steven too quickly, causing his arm to break off and pieces tumble over the floor.
Penelope takes this as an opportunity to look down and analyze her nametag.
Josie Saltzman. Lizzie’s twin sister.
She went to a different high school than them, choosing Mystic Falls High over the preppy private school life Lizzie and Penelope enjoyed.
Which was fair enough, from what she's heard Josie was the quiet type, bold but definitely not brash.
She'd also set Rafael Waithe's lawn on fire after he dumped Lizzie on her 14th birthday.
Before Penelope could even snap out of her thoughts and introduce herself, Josie had already gathered the broken pieces of the arm, and was desperately trying to quickly attach them back to Steven. “Can you pass me the joint?”
Her first instinct was to simply pass over the piece of plastic in between her hands and let Josie go back to work, but then she listened, really listened.
And she heard it.
The slight tingle on her wrist gave it away.
A switch was had been flicked in her soul, and she was a goner.
Penelope couldn’t begin to collect her thoughts and process the situation, so her lowered inhibitions brain jumped ahead, and she blurted out, “Wait, so this doesn’t have anything to do with weed?”
The girl seemed to freeze at those words as well, making direct eye contact with Penelope as if a puzzle piece had just clicked into place.
Penelope’s wrist felt like it was on fire, and she was sure that underneath the taller girl's blue sterilization gloves, the words she had just uttered were imprinted there and burning just as strongly.
For a moment they stayed there, staring at one another, with Penelope still holding the acromioclavicular joint in her hand.
Josie was the first to break eye contact, turning her eyes away to the ground before shaking her head and laughing in what Penelope presumes to be awkwardness. “Hi.”
“Hi.” Penelope smiles and tries to hold back her absolute giddiness at the situation, because she was high as fuck and Josie Saltzman was her soulmate.
Josie Saltzman, sister of her high school rival, resident medical student, the girl who was responsible for almost burning down Mystic Falls High.
Penelope tried to stay calm and collected, but the absolute bafflement was getting to her.
And quite possibly the drugs.
“Y’know- I just- I smoked a lot of weed for you.”