Halo: The Unchained

Going to summer camp was just about the worst decision Ryan Winters had ever made. Spending three months around a bunch of idiots who thought "tru dat" was correct grammar was certainly not his idea of a good time. But, according to his adoptive mother, he wasn't good enough at pretending to not be a mutant. So, there he was, trying to spend more time with the human persons so he could learn how to be a human person. There was only one problem:

Jared Hall.

*Read full summary inside*

**This story is currently undergoing some editing, all unedited chapters have been unpublished :)**

***This is a Seven Realms Novel. For More Seven Realms fun, please read The Forest of Eyes and Shadows and The Marked Series***

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15. An Idiot's Guide to Flirting

An Idiot’s Guide to Flirting

My eyes nearly popped out of my head and I scrambled to my feet.  I didn’t know what I planned on doing now that I was standing, but I guess it was a gut reaction.  “Woah, wait, what?!”  I exclaimed, eyes wide in awe.  I didn’t think that… Wait, she knew I had a giant ass crush on her?  And she never said anything?  What? And she had a crush on me too? Double what?

She looked up, smiling gently with a faint blush on her cheeks.  “Sit down, doofus.”  She teased, and all I could do was dumbly listen to her.  My mouth was wide open and I just sort of stared at her.  Talk about lame.  The girl of my dreams just said to my face that she was crushing on me too, and I couldn’t even think of anything clever to say.  But I had to say something!

“I… Um… Just… What? Wow…”  Okay, not that.  

She laughed.  “I have to admit, I didn’t expect that kind of reaction out of you.”  She blushed and moved a bit closer to me.  “I was waiting for the right time to tell you…  I mean, talking to you about this immediately after being interrogated by the FBI isn’t exactly my idea of romantic…”

“Then why did you say something…?”  At that point, I was convinced my lips were just moving without my consent.

“Because of what they said in there.” She spoke clearly, looking me right in the eyes. That was her serious face. I knew it well. She wore that same face the day she stood proudly on the stage and announced she would be auditioning for the role of Juliet. So believe me when I say, she was being serious.

Which could only mean one thing. My heart began pounding like a jackhammer again. There had been a brief moment that I had believed I would get away with it. That for once she wouldn’t see right through me. Breathe. Time to play dumb—maybe she would just let it slide this time. “Said?  About what?”

“About you looking like him.  Looking like Jared.” She clarified, not breaking her eye contact with me. She would know if I lied, which sucked for me. But I couldn’t just tell her! Having one person walking around knowing my secret was more than enough for me to juggle.

I averted my eyes.  “Why would those saying something as silly as that make you want to confess to me?” Finally, something mildly intelligent. Nudging the subject in another direction was better for me in the long run. Maybe I could distract her.

“Because…  Because I want to think that I know you better than anyone.  But when they said that… I realized that there is so much I don’t know about you…  There’s so much you keep hidden from me—from everyone.  You’re a secret keeper.  Everything in your life is bottled up in your brain, which I guess is fine.  It’s not like you have an obligation to tell people anything, but…  I want to know you.  I want to know everything about you.  And I thought that…”  Gigi sighed, turning her attention back to the water when she realized she wasn’t going to get me to make eye contact with her again.  “I thought that maybe if I was your girlfriend you would tell me…”

Woah, did she just say girlfriend?  Wow. That was… That was a word. I mean, of course it was a word, but it wasn’t a word I thought I was going to hear. Especially from her mouth.  “I…”  I wasn’t quite sure what to say, but as soon as I opened my mouth, her eyes were on me again, looking at me with intense anticipation.  “Wow… Um… That’s…” Breathe, you idiot. “I wouldn’t be… opposed to that idea….” Yeah. Definitely an idiot. “Not to say that… you know… I mean… I’m sorry, I’m just not good at this.” I ran my fingers through my hair roughly, letting my fingers pull at the ends a little. “Obviously, it’s no secret that I’ve totally fallen for you, I just… There are a lot of things I don’t like talking about. That’s all.”

Gigi nodded in understanding. “Yeah, that makes sense.” She sighed a little and shrugged. “I know it was a bit of wishful thinking. I don’t know why I thought that dating you would suddenly get you to spill your guts out to me. That was silly.” It sounded more like she was telling herself that than me.

“But I’m not saying that I don’t want to be with you!  I want to be with you!  I really do!  I just… I can’t. Not yet.”  Shit, I hope I didn’t just blow it.

She looked up at me, eyes filled with curiosity.  “Will you just allow me… one question?” She leaned forward a little, our faces close.

I leaned forward, timidly brushing my fingers over hers.  “Anything.”  One question. I could handle one question. Right? One question was fine. And then we could date and be happy forever and everything would be good and fine.

“Are you Jared Hall?”

I pulled my hand away in shock. Ok, when I said anything, I definitely meant anything other than that. “What?  Why would you ask that?”

“I told you!  What they said in there!  I mean, think about it, Ryan!  You’re always so nervous every time they bring it up!  Always insisting that Jared is dead!  When I found the necklace, you were the saying it was a prank, and when I was all happy about helping everyone out, you were the only one with a frown on your face!  It doesn’t make sense, Ryan! 

“You appeared out of nowhere ten years ago.  You told some freaky story about things no one could see and managed to pull off a pretty serious prank without anyone noticing.  When you got hit in the back with that basketball last year, you refused to let anyone lift up your shirt to look at it.  And the way you look at Natasha…  So much hatred and hurt…  I’ve never seen anyone look at a stranger like that before. 

“So humor me.  Just this once.  Are you really who you say you are?”

I paused, frozen.  I couldn’t believe she paid that much attention to me.  I was in some serious shit.  If I said no, that would be lying, and if she found out I lied years down the line… Yeah, that would be a dick move.  But if I said yes, I ran the risk of her… knowing.  So, I was just going to have to find a way to wriggle out.

I frowned, shaking my head.  “Oh, come on, Gigi, you know how silly that all sounds.  What reason would I have for hiding myself from you if I was Jared?”

“Well, I don’t know, you tell me!” 

I should have known that her serious face meant trouble—for me, that is. I took her hand.  “Come on, Gigi, can’t you trust me?  Don’t you trust that I am the person I say I am?  I’ve never been anyone but myself when I’m around you.  I mean, hell, you see right through me, so what reason do I have to hide from you, huh?” 

She looked down and sighed. “I guess you’re right.”

I let out a little breath of relief and smiled at her, leading her up to her feet.  “Come on.  I’m sure everyone has realized that we are gone by now.  We should be heading back.”  I turned to walk down the pier back to land, but Gigi stopped me by putting her hand on my chest.  I froze, looking down at her.

“Wait.”  She said, a little blush on her cheeks as she looked up at me with those eyes of hers.  “There’s something that I…  Want to do first…”  My poor heart could not handle this.  She closed her eyes and pushed up on the tips of her toes, pursing her lips just slightly.  (I’ll spear you the mushy details of my inner monolog, but it was a mix of high-pitched screaming and oh my god this is really happening, stay cool.)  I closed my eyes and leaned down just a little. 

Just before our lips met, she whispered something.  “Wait. You never answered my question, which means I get a new one right?”  My eyes shot open.  Damn it. And we were so close.

“Alright, fine.  One question.”  I pulled away just slightly, enough to look at her in the eyes. She bit her lip, probably pondering her options. There were any number of things she could ask me, I guess. Maybe it was hard to choose. Was I really that secretive? I guess I had never really thought about it that much before.

“What’s the water like?”

“What—?”

I was cut off when she shoved me, sending me tumbling back into the lake.

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