Chapter Four: Running the Rumor
“So…about you and Mark…” Was the first thing that Coach Allan said to Jane when she got to his office.
“It was nothing to get worked up at, coach.” Jane said in a very low voice.
“Don’t get me wrong, Jane. I’m not mad or anything, in fact you have my full support.” He grinned.
“With all due respect, coach, but you’re being ridiculous.” Interrupted Jane, looking disgusted by what he said. “Like I told you last Saturday, nothing is going on between us. We were just…talking. That’s all.”
“You didn’t look like you were just ‘talking’, Jane.” He smiled at her mischievously. “Nor did you look like you were resisting him at all.”
“Wha– ! Now you’re accusing me of being a sl– ”
“Hey now…I didn’t mean to offend you, okay.”
“Augh! What did you really call me here for?!”
“Okay, fine...let’s just say that you two are not really together. How come you two know each other?!” He asked, looking really curious. Jane just raised a brow at him, as if saying that he’s being ridiculous asking that. “I mean, of course you’ve probably seen each other on the tournament…but, you seem to be closer– ”
“Stop right there!” She held her hand in front of her. “Sorry but, this conversation is not going anywhere. I’m going.”
“Wait! Come on, Jane. Just tell me. I’m not going to judge you, I swear!”
“There’s nothing to judge because nothing is really going on!”
“Jane, please. If nothing’s really going on, don’t you think that something could?!”
“What?!” Jane looked at him, unbelievable written in her face. “What are you talking about?!”
“It’s time for this ‘rivalry’ between DESI and SLI to end, and you two could be the key…”
“You’re impossible!” Jane turned for the door to leave.
“Jane, I knew Mark ever since he was in grade school; he has his faults, but he’s not that bad once you get to know him.” He called after her before she could close the door.
On the other parts of the school, students of all years were already busy with the recent juicy topic that’s been on everyone’s status on FB the moment they learned of it last weekend.
“Is it really true?! It seemed surreal.”
“It’s probably true. You saw the video, right?! And I heard from someone who knows the one who took it.”
“No way! Then it’s really true?!”
“Wait, why don’t we ask Scary Jy-Jy…”
“Wha– ! Are you crazy?! I can’t even look at her eyes when she passes by.”
“Then don’t look at her eyes when you do.”
“You sound so confident. I bet you can’t even dare to stand next to her.”
“Whether it’s real or not, the real question is…is it really okay?!”
“What do you mean?!”
“Well DESI and SLI have been rivals for as long as everyone could remember. Do you think it’s really okay that those two could be together?!”
“Excuse me…” Said a male voice from behind the three gossiping girls. “Could you please tell me what you were talking about earlier?!”
Not long after.
“Tell me, Karen. Is it true?!” Mike demanded to his cousin the minute he saw her.
“What is true?!” Asked Karen back innocently, preoccupied in stocking her books to her locker.
“You know what I mean!” Growled Mike in frustration.
“Those two are really good.” The gal mused to herself. She mentally gave herself a satisfied smirk before turning to look at his cousin.
“Honestly, Mike, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She frowned at him.
“Argh. I’m talking about the rumor between Jane and Mark.” He hissed angrily.
“Ohhh. That?! Why, I don’t know. How about you ask Jane herself. Oh look, she’s coming this way.” She pointed behind him, but when he turned he only saw a couple of students chatting gaily. “Gotcha!!!” Karen laughed at him and started walking away.
“Will you just tell me?!” Mike huffed, following the gal.
“I don’t know if it’s true or not, couz.” She said honestly. “But, I did see them at the grocery store together.”
“No swearing, Mike. Wait, is that a sign of defeat?!” She cooed with mock sympathy. “It’s your fault for not telling her your feelings, dope. Hmm…maybe this will inspire you more to crush SLI!” Karen said, raising her fists after getting herself worked up. “Even if it may hurt Jy-Jy dearest.”
“Will you stop swearing?!” Karen snapped angrily.
“How can she date him?! He’s from SLI!” Mike said loudly that he even caught the attention of some students around them. Karen widened her eyes and discreetly motioned him to stop talking, but he didn’t. “Did she think of that before she agreed to be part of the team?! Does she even plan on winning?! How long have they been together anyway?! They sure acted like they don’t know each other that day at the empty lot. What the hell is wrong with you?!” Mike demanded at the stupid behavior of his cousin.
“I didn’t know personal relationships can have an effect on her debating abilities.” Came Jane’s voice behind him.
“Too late.” Mumbled her best friend, stepping away from the two. Mike spun around; he was met by Jane’s blank expression.
“Thank you for teaching me that today, President.”
“J-Jane…I-I didn’t mean–”
“I’ll always keep that in mind.” Jane walked pass him, regarding him in the coldest manner. Karen followed her but, not before giving his cousin a sad sympathetic smile.
“Jane, Mike didn’t really mean the things he said. You know that, right?!” Karen whispered at her best friend worriedly.
“I know, Kar. I’m not really angry…at least not to him.” Jane sighed.
“Eh?! What do you mean?!”
“You just have to ask?!” Jane glared.
“Of course.” Karen smiled sweetly.
“Your creepy smile tells me that you already know. I bet you have something to do with it too.”
“About the rumor that’s been going around school all day, and that video online?! Don’t be ridiculous.” Karen rolled her eyes.
“What video are you talking about?!”
“Nothing. Anyway, Jy-Jy my dear, whether there really is something going on between you and that guy…you can’t deny the fact that something really happened that day.” Karen said with an evil smile. “I saw you with him in a very inappropriate situation that day. From all angles, you looked like a couple who were shamelessly making out in the middle of a grocery store.”
“We were not! Don’t be ridiculous!” Jane cried in exasperation.
“Riiiight.” Karen raised an eyebrow as she smirked.
“I’m serious, Kar.”
“Jy-Jy, dear, you two were making out until coach actu–”
“WE WERE NOT!!! Dammit, listen to me!” Jane stopped walking and grabbed her friend to shake some sense to her. “We were just talking! No, more like he was trying to hit on me! Nothing really happened!”
“Alright! Alright! Stop shaking me!” And Jane did. “And don’t swear again. Seriously, what’s with you and Mike today.” She shook her head disapprovingly.
“He’s an a*shole who really annoys the hell out of me!” Jane growled angrily. “And now everyone’s talking about it! They know how much I hate people talking behind my back!”
“As if you’d answer them properly when they would try to ask you. You’d probably just scare them away.”
“I’m not like that.”
“Yeah, of course you’re not.”
“And the day had just begun too…” Jane sobbed.
“Aww…it can’t be that bad. You’ll just have to tell everyone the truth.” Karen smiled kindly. “It will stop soon.”
“It depends on what ‘truth’ you’re talking…and if no one’s going to make it worse.” She glared at her best friend.
“Yeah, well…don’t worry dear. I’m going to be at your side all the way.” Karen smiled at her reassuringly. Actually, too reassuringly for Jane.
“You have something to do with this…I just know it.” She frowned at her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Look, b*tch, I’m not your best friend for nothing.”
“Ohhh, I’m scared~~ Language, young lady.” Karen just chuckled. “I’m going to return that statement to you, woman.”
“I know you’re hiding something from me…” She smiled mischievously. “Are you going to tell me, or are we going to make this situation worse?!”
After school, that afternoon, Mike called Mark to meet him at the empty lot they went at before.
Jane had ignored him all day; not only that, wherever he goes all he hears about are the rumors about her and Mark. Some of his classmates even dared ask him if it’s true or not, after all he and Jane are kind of close; not to mention the fact that his cousin is Jane’s best friend. So he opted to know something, right?!
But he doesn’t.
That’s why the more people asked, the more he got worked up and almost losing all his patience by last period; and Jane’s behavior towards him didn’t help. Karen was no help at all. The only thing she said is, “Let everything calm down first…”
“’...calm down...’ she said.” Mike mumbled angrily as he threw a rock as hard as he could on one of the walls surrounding the lot. “At this rate, this will go on ’til the end of the school year.”
He was not himself all day; not really knowing what to believe or what to do. Sure, he has no right whatsoever to stop Jane from dating anyone, he’s not even courting her. And it’s really not that impossible to happen between them. It’s true that Mark is the kind of guy that Jane hates so much; but knowing Jane, it’s not impossible to believe that she can change guys like him. What he can’t understand though is, why Mark?! Mark of all people!
“Yo! Mike!” Came Mark’s cheerful voice. If it’s in any other instance, he would have welcomed it. But at this moment, he hated everything about Mark; he’s just not in the mood to be nice and friendly. So he returned the greeting with a fierce glare. “Whoah! What’s wrong, dude?!”
“Mark, we’ve known each other for a long time, right?!” Mike said, coldly.
“Y-Yeah…since 3rd grade I guess.”
“It was because of Coach Allan that we meet and got close…”
“Exactly. He taught us everything about debating.” Mark grinned, reminiscing the past. “He did so, so we could compete on something else instead of trying to get at each other’s neck every time. Man, it’s been so long, and to think he was still in college that time. Hey, did you ask me to meet you because you missed me?! Come on, du– ”
Mark didn’t see Mike’s fist as he suddenly threw a punch to him that sent the latter a few feet away.
“What in the name of the shitty hell did you do that for?!” Demanded Mark, wiping his lips off of blood.
“Sorry. It’s because you ruined my day.” Mike said, walking to his direction and helping him to his feet.
“Huh?!” Mark frowned at him. He better have a good damn reason or he’ll really do everything so DESI won’t have their YDC president in their remaining matches.
“Your little escapade last Saturday was all over school, you know.” Mike’s face was blank of emotion.
“What are yo– Ohhh…that!” Mark chuckled after he realized what Mike meant.
He saw the video earlier that day, even had a lot of girls following him around all day asking if who the girl was and what was their relationship. He enjoyed himself all day, assuring them that she’s not someone they should worry about; that she’s just some girl he meet and had a little fun with, at the store.
Although something tells him that she didn’t felt the same, if ever the same situation happened to her at her school. She probably glared and growled at anyone who tried to ask her about it. He grinned at the thought. Maybe she sent Mike for that?! Well, he’s got nothing to do with the video, that’s for sure. It was probably spread by someone near them at the store. Obviously.
“Look, Mike, I got nothing to do with that video okay…what happened that day…I wasn’t re–”
“Wasn’t really what?!” Demanded the latter, expression now really angry. If he finds out that this shit head is just playing with Jane, he’ll really do everything so SLI won’t have their YDC president in their remaining matches.
“Look, Mark. You’re a close friend I don’t want to lose.” The DESI senior begun seriously. “But if I learn that you’re just playing with Jane. I’ll do everything to damn you.”
“W-What?!” Stammered Mark in surprise. “Do you like her or something?!”
“It doesn’t matter now. She’d chosen, and the least I can do is support the two of you.” He said dismissively.
“You think that me and her…” Mark frowned at his friend. What on earth put that idea on his head in the first place?! But then he remembered Coach Allan. “Shit!”
“So…you guys were really trying to hide it?!”
“Did…Did she tell you that herself?!” What a stupid question. Of course she didn’t. She’d probably kill Mike if as much as he hinted it.
“No…it was coach who told me what you told him; although he also said that Jane denied everything. So I thought maybe you guys were trying to hide it from everyone.” Mike said a little sadly. “If you’re worried about the competition, then don’t be…I know you won’t let your feelings for each other affect your performance at the tournament.”
“Take my warning seriously, Mark. I’m doing this because I know the things you’re capable of doing. And I don’t want Jane to get hurt because of that.”
The two stared at each other.
Mark thought of how hard it must be for Mike to come here; to confront his ‘rival’ on the girl he likes; to a close friend of his too. But then, he also thought of how stupid Mike is for even thinking that something could really be going on between him and Jane. A debater who believes rumors and not facts; of letting his emotions get ahead of him instead of investigating first. After all these years, he thought debating changed this habit of Mike’s. And to think he’s the president of a Debating Club!
But Mark also knew that all of this happened because of him. He shouldn’t have messed with her at that time; should never have lied to Coach Allan; although he never thought that he would really believe it anyway. Are these really the debaters who defeated SLI for years?! Guess he shouldn’t be worried if ever DESI and SLI meet for the finals again then.
Mark sighed heavily.
“I will.” He finally said after a long silence.
What’s done is done. He dug this hole – he’ll get through it somehow; even if it meant lying to his best friend. Whether he tells Mike the truth or not, he’ll get mad at him anyway. So might as well enjoy it while it lasts.