「 RUMOR HAS IT CHAPTER#002 」


Desmond rushes to a restaurant just two blocks away. He enters the venue feeling awfully out of place as he scans it for his companion, alongside odd looks and whispers from the other customers and staff.

"Desmond, over here!" A man donning a formal getup befitting of the venue awaits him at a nearby table with a smile on his face. Desmond rushes to the seat and scoots over, still out of breath.

"You know, you could've dressed up a bit," the man jests.

"Sorry, Editor Yan. Seems that time isn't so kind to me. Especially since you called me so suddenly," Desmond apologizes as he takes off his parka.

"Well, it's entirely my fault this time. And besides," Editor Yan flashes him a pleased smile, "the company told me to meet you here and tell you some good news."

"What? You'd extend my deadline?" Desmond scoffs, a little between sarcastic and deadpan.

"Always a hoot aren't you, kiddo?"

"I am, aren't I?" Desmond says with a cheeky smile.

"Shooting Star Whispers is getting a movie production!"

With the sudden announcement, Desmond is at a loss with what to say. He just sits there with his mouth agape and unsure of what to do. "Y-You're serious?" he asks with disbelief.

"Not only that, but FabuGlam Entertainment is handling it as well! We're here to celebrate!" Mr. Yan exclaims as he takes a glass and motions a waiter to pour some wine.

"T-That's the big one, right? Tell me I'm not dreaming…"

"Haha, it seems like only yesterday when I scouted you. Who would've known that your writings would become his iconic?

"It's only been three years," Desmond chuckles. "My creative juices are still fresh and raring to go!"

Mr. Yan laughs and takes a sip. "Ah, I'm dead sure you're gonna be a legend kid. I mean, with the three years I've been working with you, Shooting Star Whispers ought to be the best series you've written."

"Oh, please, enough with the flattery," Desmond smiles. At a distance, a waiter heads for their table with a tray full of food. "Oh, seems like our entrée's here! Let's get digging!" He says with eagerness.

"You're quite hungry, aren't you?"

"I guess you could say I am," Desmond replies with an accomplished smile.

He didn't expect any of this at all. All of his hard work and sleepless nights paid off in the end, and Desmond feels that he's on top of the world as he digs into his meal.

• • •

Pissed and hungry as ever, Hayden storms off the convenience store with his balled fists pushed deep into the pockets of his jeans. His stomach growls louder and he winces in pain from the pangs, but he hasn't got enough for groceries since he spent all of last month's allowance paying off the materials and lab fees for his solo thesis. All the time he spent on research during the summer meant being jobless for the time being, and Hayden is awfully strapped for cash. However, Hayden starts fishing through his pockets and pulls out a hundred dollar bill-the same bill that bloke from the convenience store handed him over.

"Tch", he scoffs as he puts the dollar back in. Fucking rich people.

He heads off into an alleyway as a shortcut to the main street, crossing his fingers that there's a nearby diner that can accommodate his budget. Considering his current finances, Hayden has to iron out and make this bill last until the day he finds another part-time job. Another plan crosses his mind out of desperation, but with his current mood, it seems more of a bad idea.

As he reaches the middle of the dim alley, Hayden stumbles upon five men-two of which have scantily clad women clinging at their sides, while the younger three converse with them until they notice Hayden. When they turn their heads towards him, the lights shine dimly on their faces and Hayden squints and furrows his brows upon realizing who they actually are.

"Hayds, sweetie, did ya come back for some dick again?" the brunet taunts. He put out his cigarette by rubbing it on the wall behind him and tosses it on the ground, much to Hayden's disgust. As he walks closer towards him, Hayden stays put with the same miffed look on his face, and the brunet laughs at his lack of response.

"Come on, princess, you weren't this silent when you were screaming out my name with my cock buried in your ass back then, hm?"

The brunet closes their distance, and Hayden can smell the strong scent of spices and fruity notes from his clothes. He winces at the choice of body spray but remains unfazed as the man takes hold and lifts up his chin, forcing him to look at him in the eye.

Just as Hayden's about to spit out a comeback, he feels a hand grab his ass before giving it a good smack. Anger boils deep inside him and his fury deafens him from hearing whatever comment that ballsy man had murmured to his grinning accomplices. Something around the lines of having a nice ass for a dude and thinking about pounding him right then and there, perhaps. But Hayden's too enraged with all the unsolicited touching and groping to even care.

With a swift back kick to the groin and a sucker punch to the face, the brunet and his companion drop to the ground, cowering and cursing under their breaths from the pain. "You son of a bitch!" the other man hisses with his hands over his balls as he remains kneeling on the ground. The brunet attempts to land a kick on Hayden's legs to knock him, but Hayden sidesteps and swings his bag towards the brunet's face, hitting his third aide right in the jaw before he can try and join the fight as well. The two ladies scream in horror and run away, leaving their male companions behind. Another man takes Hayden in a choke hold from behind and attempts to strangle him, but Hayden buries his chin near their elbow and presses on it, coiling and pivoting himself as he gives himself some leverage to escape his hold. He ends it with a takedown, taking his attacker backwards off balance.

Hayden glares at the last man standing, but rather than fighting back, he backs away and runs off into the other end of the alley. Pleased, Hayden dusts the dirt off his backpack and walks away.

But before he can make it out into the light of the main street, he feels something grab his legs and a harsh blow hit him at the back of his head.

• • •

"Man, that meal was amazing," Desmond declares as he pets his stomach. He's stuffed from all the food, but a part of him wishes he had space for more.

"For a guy your size, you sure do love your food," Mr. Yan chuckles. "Well, this is a well-deserved celebration, after all. Not to mention that yours truly will finally get a raise!" he continues with his lips smacked at the thought of extra moolah.

The two exit the restaurant and continue their banter, mentioning follies and current events surrounding them on the way.

"You know, that Luke-weirdo was all up on me the other night, bombarding me with messages and all that. He's an eager lad, but I had to reject him in the end. Doesn't help that he keeps sending me weird ass photos." Desmond grimaces as he recalls the images he received earlier in class.

"Ah, you mean that stalker that suddenly appeared out of nowhere?" Mr. Yan asks, concerned.

Despite being a well-known author, Desmond likes to keep his work separate from his private life to avoid inconveniencing his step-dad-probably a bit too much that he uses a slew of pen names and makes great efforts to avoid public appearance. However, during times when he absolutely needs to go out and about as a writer, he'd disguise himself with masks or-during extreme circumstances-cross-dress just to keep others from recognizing him or invading his privacy. However, his efforts as of late seem all for naught when he recently received a photo of him and his father at home from an unknown number, not to mention all the disturbing homemade food with hair and nails mixed into them. Then again, those are merely the tip of the iceberg.

"This is rather disturbing now, is it? I'd expect this to happen to, say, a foreign idol or a celebrity in general, but to a lowly writer like me? It sounds nothing short of ridiculous-"

"You're not some lowly author, Desmond," Mr. Yan interrupts. "Your works have ingrained themselves in pop culture during the last few years. Although I have to admit that you're the first writer I've ever heard of in the company who has a share of rabid fans," he relents with disgust.

As they pass by a nearby alley, the noise of jeers and catcalling catches their attention.

"Hayds, sweetie, did ya come back for some dick again?" A man with brown hair taunts. A familiar figure stands in front of him, and four others surround him in the darkness.

"Come on, princess, you weren't this silent when you were screaming out my name with my cock buried in your ass back then, hm?"

Mr. Yan shrugs it off while Desmond stays put with a startled look, which prompts him to usher Desmond away from the shady alley. God knows what would happen if they got involved.

"Man, to think that the rumors about that guy were true," Desmond sighs in disbelief.

"Huh? You know them?" Mr. Yan asks, now curious.

"One of the, to be precise. See that one guy in the middle of those men? He's one of our university's top students. He's been at the top of their college's honor roll every semester, too. Who know he'd be this… Promiscuous?"

"Well, there are always some truth to rumors."

Desmond tilts his head and blinks. "I guess so, though I do kinda feel sorry for him. I even gave him some free handouts back then," he says with a light chuckle.

"Let me guess, you find him cute?"

"You can say that, but that's not all there is to it."

Intrigued, Mr. Yan presses on. "Like what?"

Desmond turns to Mr. Yan with a cheeky grin curving his lips. "Se-cret."

"God dammit, Desmond." Mr. yan rolls his eyes, much to the ravenet's amusement. "You know, if my wife were here she'd smack you in a heartbeat."

"Aww, but I do love her cooking though. Can you tell her that for me? I've heard that the other authors miss her visiting the company, too." Desmond flashes his editor a playful smile, and the older man can't help but scoff.

The two continue their banter until they parted at the nearest station and went back to their homes. By the next day, Desmond heads into class early-for once-and settles down at the back row. He looks decent and presentable this time, donning a simple shirt and skinny jeans with crop-cut boots. His classmates go on and on about his duds, but the whispering comes into a halt when a noteworthy figure by the name of Hayden enters the lecture hall. To their surprise, Hayden's sporting bandages and eye-catching bruises all of his face. God knows if there're more under his hoodie and jeans.

Astonished and appalled at how thick-faced he is to come into class looking like a battered mess, Desmond finally comes up with a conclusion to what he saw last night.

This guy's a fucking maniac.


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