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**This story is currently undergoing some editing, all unedited chapters have been unpublished :)**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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14. The Lake

The Lake

I shoved my hands into my pockets as we walked.  I had to admit, it was good to get away.  The whole thing was a little overwhelming, to say the least.  It was cramping my whole ‘funny man’ style, as Gigi had pointed out.  But even if it wasn’t, only a fool would turn down alone time with the person he was low-key convinced was his actual soul mate.  Not to be totally sappy and idealistic or anything.  “So… Why the lake?  I thought you hate swimming.”

She shrugged.  “I like being around water.  Besides, no one would think to look for us there.”  She put her hands behind her back and smiled softly as she walked.  “We never get to spend any time alone together anymore, you know?  I miss that.” 

I could feel my face heating up.  Please, God, if you exist and can hear me—make me not blush and make my crush the most obvious thing in the entire universe.  I’ll do… I’ll do something! What was it people normally do? Pray or something? That. I’ll do that. “Uh…  Yeah.  You’re right about that.  We’ve both been busy, I guess.  I mean, you with your drama thing, and me with…”  I shrugged, suddenly wishing I had a hobby.  “Being a nerd?” 

She laughed, and my heart soared. It was strange how something as small as that could instantly make me feel better. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.  Still, I’ve always wondered what’s going on in that big head of yours.”  She whipped around, walking backward again so she could look at my face.  “You’re one mysterious boy, Mr. Ryan Winters.”

I smirked, putting on a goofy expression for her amusement—like one of those bad boys in an old movie.  “I thought that was what you liked about me.”  I joked, which made her giggle again.  If she was laughing, then I knew I was doing something right.

“I guess you could say that.”  She turned around again, her back facing me.  “Still, I’d love to know what it is you’re always thinking about.  You never cease to amaze me, you know—with those stories of yours.” 

I rubbed the back of my neck.  I wished I could tell her everything.  “Hey…  About that…  I wanted to apologize…  You know, for the campfire?  When I scared everyone.  I was out of line.”  I still felt a little bad for upsetting Gigi so much. She was the only one who had genuinely been afraid for my safety—well, her and maybe Josh, but I was choosing to ignore that little detail.

She shrugged.  “It was just a story, right?  No harm no foul.”  She sent a look back at me.  “Just don’t do something like that again.  I was really worried about you.”  I couldn’t help but chuckle a little. Yup. That was Gigi. She pushed aside a few stray branches, revealing the sparkling waters of the lake kissing the rocky shore.

It wasn’t a very large lake, and you could see the other side from where we were standing on the beach, but it was still long enough to warrant a thirty-minute swim across.  The water was still and a glistening blue, shimmering like diamonds where the sun hit it.  There was a long, questionably stable pear leading out a foot into the water.  Gigi walked to the end and removed her shoes before sitting down and slipping her feet into the glistening water.

She patted the spot next to her expectantly, and I hesitated for a moment.  It wouldn’t be good if I fell in.  Chances are my instincts would kick in and I would try and catch myself in the air with my wings.  But… if I was careful, then there shouldn’t be a problem.  I may be one of the only mutants who could actually hide their mutation (you know, with the discovery of Josh, bringing the grand total to two) but I still didn’t want to take too many risks. Gigi pouted at my hesitance.  “Oh, come on, I know you hate the water, but it’s not going to bite you!”

I slowly walked over and sat down, crossing my legs instead of letting my feet touch the water.  “I know.  I just don’t like swimming, that’s all.” 

She rolled her eyes and looked out on the horizon.  “I know.  But the water is beautiful.”

“Then why don’t you go for a swim, and I will sit here and watch,”  I said.

She shook her head.  “Nah, this is a new bra. I don’t want to get it all ruined with gross lake water.” She turned to me, looking at me with those curious eyes of hers. “What about you?  Why don’t you swim?”

I shrugged. “I just don’t like it.  I don’t like feeling damp afterward.  And sand.  I hate sand.  It gets stuck everywhere!  And it takes forever to wash out.  So, I prefer to just… Hang out on the beach and stay nice and dry.”  That was the best excuse I could offer.  ‘I’m a mutant with wings so I can’t swim or everyone will see them’ was not going to cut it. Water makes my feathers all damp, and damp feathers rubbing against your back is the worst feeling in the world. It’s hard enough to keep dry wings hidden—adding water to the mix is just overkill.

She giggled.  “I guess that makes sense.”  She sighed a bit, looking over at the sun.  “You know, it’s been forever since we’ve done this.”  She mused.

“Done what?”  I asked

“This.  You know, just sit around and talk about ourselves, just the two of us.  As soon as high school started, things got crazy for both of us.  Honestly, I missed talking to you.  You’ve always been a free spirit.”  My pulse quickened.  It was nice to know she cared about me that much.  It would be a first in the friend department.  (Leave Josh out of this.)

“Yeah…  Me too…”  Wow.  Lame.  I’m lame.  Someone needs to teach me how to flirt. Flirting for Dummies or something.  “We always had so much fun in middle school.” 

She giggled.  “Yeah, we sure did.”  She moved to face me, pulling her legs up out of the water.  “Honestly, though, I always felt like you were hiding something from me.”

That hit me like a brick wall. Secrets were my specialty, I know—but they were only my specialty when people had no flipping clue I was hiding anything.  (I mean, you remember how well I handled the Josh thing. Do I even need to continue?)  “Hiding something?  Why would you say that?”

She rolled her eyes and poked my forehead.  “Look at you!  You’re a ball of nerves!  Don’t tell me you thought I wouldn’t notice!  I’ve known you for nine years, Ryan, I can tell!” I hated that she had a point. Between her and Josh, I would probably be exposed to the entire world by lunch tomorrow.

My entire body went numb as the meaning behind her words finally hit me. She knew. She knew. And She could potentially tell people. Or bring the She-Devil here. Or—Breathe. She always could see right through me. I should have expected this. Especially after the She-Devil planted those… ideas in Gigi’s head. True ideas, but still. I looked down.  “How long have you known?” 

“A while, actually.”  She nudged me.  “You don’t have to be embarrassed, though.  I don’t mind.”

Well, that came as a surprise. I raised my eyebrow.  “You don’t?”  I kind of thought the whole ‘mutant freak’ thing would put a big rift in our relationship.  Or at least the part where she kind of brought the FBI and the Birth-Giver here to sign my death certificate.

She giggled and shook her head.  I watched her hair bounce around her body in a gentle dance.  How can one person be so cute?  She then smiled brightly.  “No, silly, of course I don’t!  I mean…”  She blushed brightly and looked down, hiding her face under her long, gorgeous hair for a moment before brushing it behind her ear.  “I… kinda have a crush on you too…”

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