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Ghostwriting (but not really)

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Dice had been late to class.

Usually, he would have paid more attention to his surroundings, but the streets were always empty when he took shortcuts on his way to university. Usually he would be speeding, yes, but not to the point of being unable to stop.

Well, it didn’t matter now that he was standing in the immaculate, white waiting room of a hospital.

Dice had been late to class, distracted and speeding with his bike to get there on time. Disregarding everything his mother had taught him about safety ended up coming back to bite him in the ass when he had crashed against a poor passerby, sending both of them tumbling to the floor. He had suffered minor injuries, a few scratches that had been quickly disinfected and covered up by a smiling nurse despite his protests, but the stranger had to be helped to the hospital after their accident.

While the man had not lost consciousness or anything of the sort, he had complained about a sharp pain in his arm. So here Dice was, waiting for the man to finish his emergency check up.

He could only hope his injuries were not bad enough to the point of needing expensive treatments. As a student, Dice was not exactly wiping his ass with money. In fact, if he didn’t have his roommate to share his expenses with, Dice would very likely not be in university at all. There was no way he would ever be able to afford someone else’s medical bills with the money his mother gave him, but it was not like he had a choice; this entire thing had been his fault, after all, so he would have to face the consequences now. If only he had listened to his common sense when it told him to skip class…

The wait for the man to come back was making him nervous. Dice had already opened a few tabs on his phone to do important research: ‘How to make money while in university’, ‘how to get money without working’, ‘how to quit when you have a gambling addiction’... He didn’t even know how much hospital bills cost! Even if the man didn’t need further treatment, he would have to pay for this visit, right? With how long the checkup was taking, Dice didn’t think that would be cheap.

When the victim finally came out of the doctor’s office, his arm was in a plaster and he didn’t look very enthusiastic about his situation.

Dice stood up and ran up to him immediately, stopping and bowing low. “I’m sorry again!” He said, louder than necessary. While the research he had done in his desperation had been useful, there was only one way to make things right; Dice was broke and unemployed, but the accident had been his fault, and now the man had bills to pay because of him. Straightening his back, he took a step closer to the stranger. “I’ll pay off your medical bills! I’ll find a part-time job and pay ‘em! Don’t worry about it!”

The man stared at him for a second, then sighed and ran his left hand through his own hair. “Ah, you’re just a kid,” his voice was soft, and despite his face not betraying his emotions, at least he didn’t sound angry. Despite having all the right to be. “You don’t have to worry about this...” Dice’s eyes went wide in a fleeting moment of hope, the man’s words were quick to fool his broke ass brain with the idea that his debt would be forgiven. But unfortunately, the stranger continued; “Is what I would normally say. But I’m a writer, you know. I have two manuscripts due next month, and I’m afraid I will not be able to write with a broken arm.”

A writer?! Dice quietly cursed himself. Of course he would have ruined someone’s livelihood! He should have stayed home instead of rushing to class when he realized he was late. Not only he would have to pay for the man’s medical bills now, he would also have to give him some money so he could live after losing a job prospect. Money Dice didn’t have! Perhaps if he dropped out of university he could take on two part-time jobs, but his mother would kill him if he even suggested that. What could he do? He felt like he was about to be sick. He would definitely need to call his mother about this—

The man’s voice broke him out of his train of thought. “You said your name was Arisugawa, right?” Dice nodded, trying to mask his anxiety with a poker face. The stranger spoke again: “Say, Arisugawa, how fast can you write?”

Dice blinked, confused. “Eh?”

“You are a student, right? Can you take notes fast during lessons?” The man asked. Dice nodded, though his body language was not very convincing. “So? Can you?” He repeated his question, and Dice nodded more vigorously this time.

“Yes! I can!” Dice answered loudly, causing a few patients and nurses to give him a side eye glare. He looked around, embarrassed. Right, they were still at a hospital… he needed to keep it down.

The writer, however, seemed pleased with his change in attitude. “Then, why don’t you help me with the manuscripts?” He proposed, while staring at Dice with an expression he could not quite figure out. There was a small smirk on his face, but it seemed fake. “If you do that, you won’t have to worry about paying the bills. Consider it your part-time job.”

Dice actually gasped at that. “For real?! Are you serious?” He asked, bewildered, once again forgetting to use his inside voice, much to the dismay of one of the nurses, who hushed him. Dice looked around again, awkwardly scratching the back of his neck as he stepped closer to the writer. “I—I would be happy to help!”

Grinning, the man nodded at him. “Great! My name is Gentaro Yumeno. Get your phone so I can give you my address,” Dice did what he was told, not paying a lot of attention to his own actions, elated with the fact that he would not be spending any money on this. “You can come by tomorrow when you are done with your classes for the day.”

“G—Great! Thank you so much, Yumeno-sensei!”

Turned out Yumeno-sensei lived quite close to the place where they had had their accident.

Dice wished he had asked the writer what exactly he meant by ‘helping’, because he was now standing in front of his house with absolutely no clue of what they would even be doing. Was Dice going to help him write? Do his chores? No, no, Yumeno had definitely told him he would be coming over to help with the manuscripts, so he would not be doing any chores… but if the writer was having a hard time doing his daily chores, it was Dice’s fault as well, right? So he would help. He had to.

After speaking with Ramuda, his roommate had laughed at him for causing such a mess in the first place, but had encouraged him to go and meet with the writer. The night before the two had googled Yumeno’s name, but not a lot had come up about him. Ramuda suggested he might be using a pen name to write, but after some digging Dice had found a few reviews of his books, and… Well, apparently, Yumeno had only released a couple of books, and the last one of them had been written over six years ago.

Their search had made Dice feel even guiltier for accidentally ruining his ability to write, if only for a while, since Yumeno was surely writing his first book in ages.

It’s your responsibility now, Daisu~” Ramuda had told him. “Imagine if Yumeno-sensei’s comeback gets ruined because of you! His fans would ne~ver forgive you!” To which Dice had rolled his eyes and replied that Yumeno was no idol to have a ‘comeback.’

But Ramuda had a point, it was his responsibility.

Yumeno’s books, however, didn’t seem to be very popular at all. Dice even doubted that he had fans, as Ramuda had suggested. There were only a few reviews of them, and while the reviews did praise his prose and literary abilities, his works were obviously not well known. Still, Dice was sure he must have a cult following somewhere that was very jealous of him for what he was about to do.

But now that he was standing in front of Yumeno’s house, Dice felt nervous. What if he was angry at him? He could have pretended to be fine when they were in public, but who knew what the writer had genuinely been thinking?

Well, there was only one way to know.

After sighing once, he rang the doorbell.

And the writer took less than five seconds to open the door.

He looked exactly like he had looked the day before. A white button up shirt, with one sleeve rolled up to accommodate the plaster covering his arm, black slacks, brown hair framing his face and hiding the dressing he had gotten for the cut on his forehead. He gave Dice a relaxed smile upon seeing him. “It’s early. I didn’t think you would come before lunch.”

Dice shrugged. “Yeah, class ended earlier than usual,” he said, nonchalantly despite his nerves. “Is it too early for you? I can come back later…”

Yumeno shook his head. “It’s fine, I’m not busy. Please, come in.” He opened the door further to allow Dice to step inside. He did so while excusing himself, taking his shoes off as the writer closed the door behind him.

“The earlier you get here, the faster we will finish, right?” Yumeno grinned, motioning for him to follow him farther inside. “Here’s how we are going to do this: I’m going to dictate what I have in mind and you write it. I expect you to write fast so you can keep up with my words.”

Dice nodded. Sounded easy enough. He could write fast if he had to.

Yumeno promptly showed Dice where they would be working; his desk was in the living room, and Dice would be using it to write. The first manuscript was only partially done, the writer had informed him, but he already had the full story ready in his mind. It was pretty impressive, he had to admit. While he showed Dice around, the younger could infer a few things about the author: Yumeno-sensei seemed to be well off, despite not having written anything in a long time. The house was big and decorated in a classical style. His furniture was mostly brown, but rather than looking plain, the minimalist decoration made it look sophisticated. His shelves had plenty of books, as expected from a writer, and they were decorated with a couple of pictures of Yumeno with other people and a few vintage objects: A candlestick telephone, a quill pen… The decor and furniture gave Dice the impression that he lived in the past, but also… there was a smart television in the living room.

“Are you hungry?” Dice snapped his attention back to the author when he spoke. They had finished their little tour in the kitchen. “I have a few things to eat in the fridge, feel free to help yourself before we start.”

Dice beamed at that. “Awesome! Thanks!” So Yumeno was not angry at him! He would not make this type of offer if he was angry, right?

Well, Dice not the one to deny food.

After heating up some cold leftover pizza — Yumeno didn’t fully live in the past! He ate pizza! — Dice felt ready to write. He sat down at his designated desk, the author taking his seat in a comfortable armchair next to it, and picked up the pencil.

“Alright! Let’s do this!”

Yumeno smiled as Dice pulled his half written manuscript closer. “Start in a new paragraph,” he said, and Dice positioned his hand, ready to start his work.

The author began dictating the words.

Ayana’s eyes met his, the flame of desire burning deep within her core. Takumi pulled her closer, her warm body pressing against his and causing sensations he had never felt before. His body burned up like he had a fever as he felt the professor pressing her most intimate spot against his thigh, desperately grinding against him. He felt the wetness soaking through her underpants, her desire dripping through the fabric and getting in contact with his skin, cooling his body’s heat. Quotation mark. Sensei, please take this off, close quotations. Takumi begged. Ayana laughed. Quotation mark—”

“Wait!” They had barely started and Dice’s face was already burning up. He was trying to follow the words, but the content was hard to ignore. Was this Yumeno some sort of pervert? Was this a joke? Maybe the author was simply punishing him for causing the accident.

Yumeno paused, looking at Dice with his head tilted to the side, as if he didn’t know what Dice was thinking. “What is it? Too fast?”

Dice vehemently shook his head. “No— What is this? What kind of story is this?” He asked. The author was surely pretending not to notice the fact that Dice’s face was as read as a freshly boiled lobster. There was no way he thought this was a normal situation! It had to be a joke…

“Mhm? Oh, it’s about a university student and his professor,” Yumeno answered, nonchalantly. Dice was baffled at his lack of shame. “He has a crush on her. This scene is when they finally consummate their passion—”

“Are you some kind of pervert? Makin’ me do this because of a fetish or something?” Dice interrupted him with his own question, and Yumeno looked very taken aback at it. The author blinked, confused for a second, until the realization hit him.

“Oh! No, not at all,” he shook his head, as if he had finally understood what was making Dice so uncomfortable. “You see, Arisugawa… I’m an erotic author.”