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It's Just Pretend

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“Chrissy, I’m totally screwed here,” Waverly groaned before flopping down on the couch dramatically. The blonde watched as she eyed her phone with disgust and then threw the offending item on the coffee table.

“Like you ‘forgot to study for a test’ screwed or ‘I missed my period, and I might be having Champ Hardy’s baby’ screwed?” At that Waverly picked up a throw pillow and aimed at her best friend’s head.

“Don’t joke about me forgetting to study for a test,” she pouted.

“Because having a baby with Hardy James would be worse than forgetting a test?” Chrissy arched an eyebrow.

“Okay, no,” Waverly admitted. “Anyway, I might have told Wynonna a few months ago that I was dating someone. Do you remember when she came to visit, and we ended up at that club?” Chrissy began to laugh only causing Waverly to throw, yet another, pillow at the blonde.

“Jesus, stop it,” Chrissy shouted while holding her hands up in surrender.

“What are you laughing at?” Waverly pouted. She also noticed that she had no more pillows within her reach, so Chrissy better not have had any wise-ass remarks left. At that thought Waverly decided she needed to invest in more objects that could be lobbed at her best friend in stressful moments such as these.

“Waves, you seriously just asked me if I remember Wynonna Earp visiting us and us ending up at a club. That’s literally every single time that your sister visits.” Waverly wanted to deny that fact, but really, she had to give Chrissy this one.

“Okay, fine,” Waverly admitted, “but this was the last time she visited us.” Chrissy shook her head. “Oh! It’s the time you went home with Barry the bartender. I remember because you text me the next morning and told me that he had pictures of his creepy dog all over the apartment.” Chrissy snorted.

“You thought it had auto-corrected the word dong,” she continued laughing. “Okay, I remember now. Continue.”

“Well, she was giving me her spiel about how she failed me as a sister. That I was supposed to be the good Earp. Then she started crying about how she knew I was lonely, and she was going to make it all up to me by finding me some guy to hook up with.” She was really going to have to punch Chrissy if she didn’t stop laughing. She shot her a look that screamed ‘I’m going to murder you if you don’t shut up’ and waited for the blonde to get over herself.

“I don’t know if that look was supposed to intimidate me, but you were about as scary looking as a squirrel just now,” Chrissy added.

“I’ll have you know that squirrels can be dangerous. Eric Davis was bitten by one when we were in elementary school and ended up in the hospital with an infection,” Waverly explained with an air of arrogance that she should have known wouldn’t deter Chrissy.

“The bite got infected because he didn’t wash his hands after using the bathroom, Waverly. He was a gross little boy,” Chrissy sighed. “Just get on with the story. Please.” Waverly wanted to shout that she had been trying to get on with the story without Chrissy’s snarky input, but she knew that mentioning that would only prolong the story. And Waverly really just needed advice from her best friend.

“So, I told Wynonna that I had been seeing someone for a few weeks. We were taking it slow. She lit up like a Christmas tree and then quit her blubbering.”

“I’m not seeing the problem here, Waves.”

“She thinks I’ve been dating someone for like six months!” Waverly all but screamed. “I know that my entire family is expecting me to come home with someone next week, and I’ve got nothing. I can’t just say that we broke up right before I was meant to go home. That’ll look suspicious.”

Waverly had never been frustrated to the point that she wanted to beat someone up and cry at the same time, and yet, here she was. She definitely needed to invest in some boxing lessons or something. Maybe she could learn how to get her anger out in healthier ways.

“Waverly, there’s no way that Wynonna remembered that night. Especially if she was crying.” The blonde moved from the loveseat opposite of the couch Waverly was on and sat down beside the brunette. “And even if she did remember that night, she wouldn’t say anything. Wynonna would never actively admit to showing emotions.” She leaned into the blonde and enjoyed being held for a moment before pulling away.

“I wish that were the case, but Chrissy, she did remember! She asks me about this mystery person every time she calls!”

“She only calls you like twice a month,” Chrissy interjected.

“So, I’ve been able to get away with vague answers,” Waverly replied, “but she said I had to bring Mr. Mysterious home for spring break since he couldn’t come visit at Christmas. She’s not taking no for an answer!”

Chrissy genuinely felt bad for Waverly. Being from Purgatory was hard enough, but to add being an Earp to that? She knew it was bad. She had watched Waverly cry after school because she had missed her family. She had watched Waverly ignore the whispers and stares that she would get after the accident that killed her father and oldest sister.

Chrissy’s father was an amazing dad. He had always welcomed Waverly into their home. He had always treated her best friend like she was a second daughter. And with that bit of normalcy, Waverly had begun to adapt to her new life with ease. She had moved in with her aunt and uncle and spent weekends with Chrissy, whether they were at the Nedley residence or the McCready’s ranch.

In high school she had captured the attention of Champ Hardy, arguably the most popular guy in their grade. She had become head cheerleader. She was the “it” girl. Eventually, she and Waverly had graduated from high school and gone to college together, ensuring that they were roommates in a small apartment off-campus.

Wynonna had made her way back into Waverly’s life after Shorty, the man who was like an uncle to them both, had died. Their relationship was fragile, and she could understand why Waverly was having such a fit over something seemingly as small as her dating life.

“Well, I might have an idea…” she noticed the wary look that Waverly was giving her and knew it was well-deserved. “I had a friend last semester who found himself in the same type of situation. Jeremy Chetri, remember him?” Waverly nodded. “He was tired of his parents meddling into his life and setting him up with their friends’ daughters.”

“I thought Jeremy was gay?” Waverly interrupted. Chrissy began to chuckle despite herself.

“He is. But at that point he hadn’t come out to his parents and was afraid that they would disown him if they found out so…”

“So?” Waverly questioned after realizing Chrissy wasn’t going to continue talking without a little probing from her end.

“He hired a girl to pretend to be his girlfriend?” Chrissy shrugged her shoulders and waited for Waverly to say something.

“I’m not that desperate,” Waverly immediately shouted before standing up and pacing around the living room. “Besides, where would I even find a guy? I can’t put an ad on Craigslist. Do you know the kind of creeps that would show up? They would make Champ look tame,” she shook in disgust.

“Actually, I was thinking about Nicole,” Chrissy explained.

“Who in the heck is Nicole?” Waverly stopped pacing and simply stood in front of Chrissy, hands on her hips.

“The girl that Jeremy hired,” she answered, as though that explained everything. “I met her once. She was actually really nice.”

“I’m not gay, Chrissy. I can’t just bring some girl home. And second of all,” she held up her finger before leveling it to Chrissy’s face, “what kind of monster would a person be to earn money off of someone’s loneliness?”

“Wow, judgmental much?” Chrissy snapped. “She’s actually really cool. She and Jeremy are like best friends now. He helps her get dates. I just thought it was an option. Clearly you can figure it out on your own though.” With that, she stood up and made her way to the front door. She stopped at the coat rack to grab her jacket and purse. “I’m going to get a bite to eat. Do you want to join me?”

“Yeah, sure.” Waverly rolled her eyes before following behind Chrissy. “Where are we going?”

“I just figured I would pick up a sandwich from Tony’s. We can work on the rough draft of the speech you’re inevitably going to write before calling Wynonna with the truth.” At that, Waverly stopped walking.

“Chrissy, that’s honestly not an option at this point. She’s been so excited about busting the guy’s balls and stuff. She was never around for Champ. I think she wants to be able to do the whole shovel talk. On top of that, I think she just blames herself for everything she thinks is wrong in my life,” Chrissy nodded. The blonde didn’t know Wynonna too well. Aside from the occasional visit from the older Earp, she had never been around in Purgatory.

“Well, I think you should really consider getting in touch with Jeremy. Maybe you could talk him into going home with you?” Waverly sighed, linking her arm in the crook of Chrissy’s elbow and continued to walk toward the tiny bistro that Chrissy so often frequented.

“I couldn’t ask a gay man to be my boyfriend-

“Pretend-boyfriend, Waverly,” Chrissy explained with a quick interruption.

“Whatever,” she scoffed. “There’s no way it would be believable. This Nicole girl had her work cut out for her, I’m sure.” At the idea of Jeremy trying to kiss a girl, she began to giggle.

“Well, it obviously worked. He said his parents stopped setting him up with girls, but I think Nicole is a lesbian, so his parents were either oblivious or they were both really good actors.” Chrissy opened the door once they made it to the shop and pointed to a table. “I’ll get our regulars. You grab that booth,” Waverly nodded.

It was the most bizarre thing for her to wrap her head around. Some girl was going around getting paid to pretend to be someone’s girlfriend. Was she essentially a prostitute? Could people pay the woman for sex? Waverly considered herself to be of above-average intelligence, but she truly couldn’t understand why someone would sell their company in such a way.

She looked out the window of the shop and sighed. She shouldn’t have gotten herself into this stupid situation. She was happily single, and she should have simply told Wynonna that. She knew Wynonna though, and drunk Wynonna would not have stopped that night unless Waverly had gone home with some random man suitable to her sister’s beer goggles. At this point, she had been lying to Wynonna for months about a significant other though. She knew she could come clean, but a small part of her was happy with how proud of her Wynonna had been upon hearing that she was managing school, a job, and a healthy relationship.

And with that last thought she inhaled deeply. Chrissy made her way over with their drinks and sat across from the petite girl, handing Waverly her water. “Mama needs her thinking juice to help you out,” Chrissy explained when she caught Waverly looking at her bottle of beer. “What about Xavier?”

“Dolls?!” Waverly shouted. “Please, that would be a train wreck. I can imagine it now. Pass.” With a wave of her hand, Chrissy brushed her off.

“Waverly, you can’t be so picky! You got yourself into this situation. I say you should just tell Wynonna the truth. Or, how about, I don’t know, tell her that your boyfriend is sick? Out of town? Working? Anything!”

“I might have made the mistake of telling Wynonna that they were a student here and that we were spending spring break together. She just had to go all Wynonna and demand that we come out to the homestead to see what she had done with the place. She sounded so proud of herself, Chrissy. What was I supposed to do?” She watched as her roommate nodded to herself, resigned to the fact that they were actually going to have to come up with a real solution to this ridiculous problem.

“The farmhouse,” a server interrupted, and Chrissy gestured at Waverly, refusing to look at the monstrosity of a vegan sandwich that her best friend always ordered. She winked at the man after he set her plate in front of her. He was cute, after all.

“Thank you,” she looked at the name-tag, “Peter.” He returned the smile she flashed at him and walked away after asking if they needed anything else. Had Waverly not been in crisis mode she would have definitely upped her flirting. The things she did for her best friend. With that thought, she pulled her phone out of her purse and dialed a number that she hadn’t used in a while. She put the phone on speaker phone so that Waverly wouldn’t be clueless and waited.

“Chrissy Nedley, hey,” Jeremy’s cheerful voice picked up after a few rings. She pointedly kept herself from looking at Waverly, knowing that she was going to be angry.

“Hey! I actually had a question or two for you,” she heard some shuffling over the phone and took a quick glance at Waverly-who hadn’t touched her food and was instead glaring at Chrissy.

“Uh, okay, shoot,” Jeremy finally responded. “Wait, is this about your chemistry homework? I didn’t think you would actually take me up on the offer, but I’m excited that you did! It’s been a while since I’ve done the basic stuff,” Chrissy snorted.

“No, you nerd. I told you last semester that I wasn’t taking chemistry. I’m in some easy astronomy class. It counts as a science credit, the teacher is cute, and I have hardly any work to do.” She continued to ignore Waverly.

“Fine,” he drawled, sounding genuinely depressed. “What can I help you with then?” At this she bit the metaphorical bullet and looked Waverly in the eyes.

“I need you to give me some information about Nicole,” she explained. Before she could go further with her line of thought, Jeremy had interrupted with a whoop and a cheer.

“Awesome! She’s really close to having the money she needs for the academy so this couldn’t have come at a better time. Before I pass anything along to her though, is this for a guy or a girl? She doesn’t like doing this for men. You know, they generally don’t understand what they’re getting from the mutual agreement.”

“Mutual agreement,” Waverly finally piped up. “Is that what this is?” She asked, looking at Chrissy with fire in her eyes.

“Anyway,” Chrissy immediately interjected-hoping that Jeremy hadn’t heard Waverly’s outburst. “She is my best friend. You met Waverly when we had that study session over here.”

“Oh! Waverly Earp. Yes, of course! This can definitely be arranged. She wasn’t a creep or a pedophile,” he explained in a rehearsed tone that implied it was something that Nicole had hammered into his head beforehand.

“Good to know,” she heard Waverly mumble to herself before using her fork to stab at the side salad that came with her sandwich.

“Do you want me to email you some of the packages she offers? Or would you rather tell me what Miss Earp needs from the arrangement and have me relay that information to Nicole?” At this she had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. Waverly had stopped chewing her food and began to sputter and cough wildly.

“Are you crazy,” Waverly angrily whispered. “What kind of person has a side business of relationship packages? Hang up the phone. Now.” She growled. Chrissy sighed, knowing that when Waverly used her “angry” voice, she actually meant business. Still…

“Waverly needs a date to go home with her for spring break. They’ve been dating about half a year. If Nicole is available then we’re interested,” she waited for Jeremy to say something, but she could vaguely hear him mashing buttons on his phone. She wondered if he was texting Nicole then and there or if he was simply making a note to remind himself of exactly what Waverly needed out of the situation at hand.

“So, we’re talking about next week? That’s short notice,” he tsked. “Oh hey, she said she could meet up with Waverly tomorrow to go over some things and see if something could be worked out. Is she free?”

Chrissy looked at Waverly, who was no doubt embarrassed about the situation that she had been put in, but she couldn’t find herself to care about Waverly’s feelings at the moment. She was doing her best friend a favor, even if said best friend didn’t think so. She thought about Waverly’s work schedule and took the phone off speaker phone before putting it up to her ear. “Anytime tomorrow before four works.”

“Great,” Jeremy happily replied. “How about 11:30? At the coffee shop across the street from the pizza parlor? Do you know it?”

“Gross,” Chrissy immediately responded. “Yeah, Waverly knows where it is. She goes there all the time to read books. Thanks, Jeremy. Listen, we should really catch up sometime. I want to hear all about your boyfriend.”

“Heh, sure,” he stuttered, obviously flustered. “Thanks, Chrissy. Tell Waverly I think she’s going to really like Nicole.”

“Sure will,” she lied. If anything, Waverly would go into it trying to hate the woman just to spite her. Then again, Waverly didn’t really have a mean bone in her body. It was obvious by the fact that she was doing all of this so that Wynonna wouldn’t think she was a failure of a sister…or something. She still hadn’t really grasped the concept behind the situation.

“Oh, and can you send me a picture of Waverly to show Nicole, so she knows who to look for tomorrow? I can always grab one from Facebook, I guess, but I feel like that’s a little invasive of her privacy, y’know?”

“Sure, Jer, talk to you later, okay?” She didn’t wait for a response before hanging up. She looked through the various photos on her phone and picked one of Waverly that was fairly recent and quickly sent it to Jeremy.

“Chrissy, I could murder you right now. I’m only not because your father is the sheriff of our hometown and he would be upset with me.”

She rolled her eyes, “sure, Waverly. You’ll thank me. You're meeting Nicole tomorrow at 11:30. At Rosie’s or whatever.”

“It’s Rosita’s Café,” Waverly retorted. “And they have really good vegan cupcakes. Can’t a girl read ancient literature and enjoy a few vegan snacks without being criticized?”

The blonde snorted, “no, Waverly. You definitely cannot.” She took a look at her plate and sighed. “I’m going to eat my food now that I’ve solved your problem. Then I’m going to get our server’s number and go home. I don’t want to hear another complaint from you.” Waverly’s jaw dropped, reminding Chrissy of a fish out of water.

~~~~~~

“Nicole,” Jeremy shouted from his bedroom, hoping that the redhead would hear him from her location in the apartment. She and Robin had been watching some movie while he had been working on a project for his English class. He was not doing well in his British Literature class. Could anyone really blame him though?

“What’s up?” He jumped slightly, having not heard her enter his bedroom. He turned around in his rolling chair and clutched his chest.

“You gave me a heart attack,” he wheezed.

“You called me in here, Jeremy,” Nicole deadpanned. “Anyway, what did you need? Robin paused the movie, but I don’t think he wants to wait long. He’s got dreamy eyes for the male lead.” She gave him a teasing smile.

“I’ve got someone that is interested in your services,” he wiggled his eyebrows.

“Gross, Jeremy. That makes it sound shady.” He laughed before grabbing his phone from the desk and throwing it at the redhead. Her reflexes were spot on, which he was thankful for. He couldn’t afford a new phone had it been dropped and broken.

“You sure you want to be a cop? With those moves you could probably just be a secret agent or something way cooler.” She arched an eyebrow and shook the phone that was in her left hand. “Right, go look at the last picture I saved.”

“I don’t want to see another picture of your three chest hairs, Jeremy,” she sighed.

“Not that,” he squeaked. Nicole left the confines of his doorway and made her way to his bed. He watched with bated breath as she went to his photo gallery and clicked on the picture that Chrissy Nedley had sent him.

“Woah,” she mumbled under her breath.

“Her name is Waverly. You meet with her tomorrow at Rosita’s. 11:30. I even picked the gross coffee shop that you like so much.” He waited for Nicole to say something-anything at all. Instead, she was glued to his phone, absentmindedly tracing her fingers over the screen. “Nicole?”

“What’s wrong with her?” She finally asked, gently handing him the phone back. He was glad that she hadn’t tried to throw it because his hand-eye coordination extended to video games and chemistry projects only.

“What? Nothing. Why?”

“Someone that looks like that shouldn’t need a pretend girlfriend,” Nicole shrugged. “I guess we’ll see,” she smiled softly, and it made Jeremy’s heart ache for her in a way he didn’t exactly understand. “Waverly,” Nicole tested the name out a few times. “Any other information?”

“Yeah, actually,” he rubbed the nape of his neck, “she kind of needs you for like spring break, I think?” She flopped back on his bed and placed her hands behind her head.

“I didn’t have plans anyway,” she stated. Jeremy already knew that. She was going to be staying at his apartment over the break. She hadn’t visited her parents in who knew how long, and he couldn’t blame her. They reacted to her being a lesbian in a pretty good manner, but one mention of Nicole wanting to become a cop and they had flown off the handle? It was kind of insane, in his opinion.

“And you’ll be one step closer to getting into the academy, huh?” He asked with a smile on his face. “You’d think your full-ride scholarship to college would have been enough, but no, Nicole Haught wants to be a badass with a gun.”

“Shut up,” she sighed but he could tell she had been smiling just by the tone of her voice. “I’m going back to my dorm,” she finally admitted before rolling out of his bed. “Go spend some time with your boyfriend, Nerd.” He rolled his eyes but shut his laptop. She was right. He could afford to stop working on his homework long enough to enjoy the rest of the movie with Robin.

“Let me know how it goes with Waverly tomorrow,” he called after her.

“I’m sure it won’t be anything special, Chetri,” she replied.