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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.”