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**This story is currently undergoing some editing, all unedited chapters have been unpublished :)**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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17. The (Very, Very Wet) Cat Rolls Out of the Bag

The (Very, Very Wet) Cat Rolls Out of the Bag

I broke through the surface of the shimmering water, gasping for air. “What the hell, Gigi?” I bobbed a little in the water as I shouted, fear settling in the pit of my stomach. I could feel water trickling into the slits in my back, soaking my feathers. It was uncomfortable, to say the least. I couldn’t keep them hidden when they were like that. They were already slipping out a little.

Worst day ever.

“I’m sorry! I just… I had to know!” Gigi looked upset. I think I noticed her trembling a little, but honestly, I was far too upset to care. She just used me! Who does that?

“Why are you so stuck on this? Can’t you just accept that there are some things I would rather keep to myself and leave me alone? This is ridiculous! I can’t believe you just used my feelings for you so you could push me into a lake, just because you want to know if I’m a freak!”

Gigi huffed. “Freak? Really? You know that’s a slur, don’t you?” Gigi crossed her arms and glared at me like a child who stole a cookie from the cookie jar. What was her problem? What did she care if I called myself a freak? That’s what I was, wasn’t it? I mean, wings. Seeing dead people. Pretty freaky stuff…

“Yeah, so is Mutie, unnat, variant… There are lots of slurs. Freak is just the most accurate. Besides, you used my feelings for you to trick me into getting shoved into a lake. I’m an asshole, and you’re trying to cheat your way into finding out my tragic backstory, I think I’m in good company,” I pointed out, still wading in the water. Beneath the waves, my wings were slipping out ever so slightly. Man, waiting for them to dry out was such a pain.

“I just—” Gigi blinked, stopping mid-sentence. She stared at the water in silence for a few moments, contemplating her next move—I assume. She had that look on her face she always got when she was trying to figure out how to deliver a line, or when she was working her way through a math problem. It was her thinking face. She sighed, running her fingers through her hair. “You’re right. That was uncool.”

I opened my mouth to say something along the lines of “yeah, ya think?” but I was interrupted when Gigi suddenly jumped into the water with me. She bobbed her head out of the water and slicked her wet curls back out of her face. “There. Now we’re even.”

If it was possible to jump in the water, I probably would have. I mean, she just suddenly jumped in with no warning… She kind of startled me, to say the least. “What? What do you mean, we’re even? You jumped into a lake, I got shoved in a lake, I hardly call that even!”

“Look, I know pushing you in was wrong. I was curious, and you were lying to me, and I made a snap decision. The wrong snap decision. But I just… I wanted to know who you were because… Jared Hall has always been someone I could look up to. And I’ve always had this stupid dream of meeting him and—”

“Woah, woah, woah. Hold up there. What? Someone you could look up to? What the hell does that mean?” I cut her off. Jared Hall? Someone she could look up to? What? That didn’t make any sense. He was—I am just another mutant. A famous one, no doubt, but… I didn’t know I was someone who could be looked up to in any way shape or form. Woah, did that mean I was a role model? Fuck, I should probably clean up my act. Stay in school, don’t do drugs, cursing is bad—

“It means what I said it means.” Gigi’s voice interrupted my panicked thoughts, yanking me back down to reality. “I looked up to him—you, I’m gathering.” I averted my eyes. Why did she have to be so damn smart? Gigi reached out her hand and gently pushed my chin until I was looking at her again. “Because I’m just like you.”

I stared at her for several moments, imagining a loading bar floating over my head showing my progress processing that information. “I’m sorry, what? You’re going to have to run that by me again because I’m pretty sure you just said you’re just like m—I mean, Jared Hall. I must have lake water in my ears.”

Gigi frowned. “You can cut the act, I know it’s you. And you heard me correctly. How else would I have known that shoving you into a lake would cause this to happen?” She swam close and reached her hand behind me, her fingers brushing over where my wings were beginning to unfurl from my back. I shot away.

“What do you want from me?” I asked, only a little fear in my voice. First Josh, now Gigi… I was really going to have to revisit the “How to Keep A Secret Identity” instruction book. Clearly, I needed a refresher.

Wait.

She said she’s like me. So, like, a mutant like me? Or like me? With the wings, and the freaky unexplainable powers, and the weirdness? If only there was some sort of freaky mutant detection kit or something…

“I don’t want anything from you.” She promised, moving closer. “Look,” she paused to pull her shirt over her head. I turned my head quickly, face bright red. Alarm bells were going off in my head. Code red, code red, a pretty girl just took her shirt off in front of you, what is happening. Gigi laughed, the sweet sound filling my ears. “You can look, silly, that’s not why I took my shirt off. Besides, I worked hard for these A-cups. Appreciate them.”

“None of those words make any sense to me, I hope you know that,” I grumbled, keeping my eyes locked on the other end of the late.

I could imagine Gigi rolling her eyes at me, though. “Men.” She turned my head again to face her, and I was about to turn away again when I caught sight of a pair of blonde wings rising out of the water. Was the lake toxic or something? Was I totally hallucinating? There was no way… It was just too perfect… The girl of my dreams, a mutant, like me… It had to be a dream.

Gigi blushed slightly, biting her lip. “Your mouth is going to catch flies like that,” She commented, and I clamped my jaw shut. I hadn’t even realized my mouth had opened. I continued to stare at her like a deer in headlights. “Say something?”

Right. Words. Words are a thing. Words exist. I should use them. “Uh… Those are… Those are wings…” And, again. Not those words. Wow, strike two, Ryan. I really needed to learn how to speak when I was speechless.

Gigi laughed, throwing her head back a little. “Yeah, that is what these are. Congratulations, you win a medal. You seem surprised?”

“More than a little, yeah,” I said, barely able to get my voice to work. How could I not be surprised! Two whole mutants who were just as unexplainably mutated as me in two days! That was a big deal! Not that she knew about Josh, but still. It was a lot for me. I had been alone my whole life!

Gigi shrugged. “I suppose it is a bit surprising.” She turned, pulling herself out of the water and siting down on the dock. She fished her shirt out of the water next, wringing it out as she spoke. “I was born like this—as we are, I guess. Except that I was different. I also had these… weird powers. I could heal people through touch—and that couldn’t be explained by any amount of science. My parents didn’t really know how to deal. But then… Jared hall showed up—a mutant who was just like me. So my parents would tell me stories about him. I guess it was their way of making me feel more… Normal.” She shrugged again, setting her shirt aside on the dock—probably so she could keep her wings out to dry.

I bit my lip, then made the stupid and rather rash decision to pull myself out of the water as well. I sat down next to her. “I guess that… makes sense… That they would want to make you feel like you weren’t completely alone in the world.”

Gigi nodded and looked up at me. “So that’s why I pushed you in. I know it was stupid, but I just… Wanted to know for sure. That I wasn’t alone… And I’m not, am I?”

She looked up at me with those big, wide eyes—and I knew I was a goner. I couldn’t say no to her. I never could. I sighed, shrugging off my own shirt and let my wings fully unfurl. “No. You’re not.”

Gigi looked at my wings in awe, a strange happiness settling on her face—strange because it seemed odd to me that anyone could actually be happy that I was some freak. “Wow… I never thought I would see those in person…”

“Yeah, well, I guess today is your lucky day,” I said meekly, shrugging my shoulders a little. Gigi smiled, leaning in as if she was trying to kiss me—and, call me crazy, but I actually pulled away. “Woah, what are you doing?”

Gigi pouted. “Well, I thought… I owed you a kiss… Since I didn’t before I shoved you into the lake…”

“Just because we’re both freaks doesn’t mean I forgive you, Gigi. You still backed me into a corner.” I thought that was a perfectly reasonable feeling to have. She used me.

Gigi opened her mouth to say something—probably to defend herself—when the bushes by the forest path leading to the lake began to rustle. We both shot to our feet, turning to face the path as we watched in horror. There was no time to hide our wings. There was no time to do anything!

I am so totally dead.

It was October who came stumbling out of the forest, brushing off some dust from his black jeans—which seemed a little counter-intuitive—before he finally looked up and caught sight of us.

All three of us froze, staring at each other in a suffocating silence that was close to driving me mad. October fell to the ground, kneeling before us and bowing his head. “I can’t believe it… After years of searching, I’ve finally found you!” He looked up at us again, looking at our faces curiously. “You don’t recognize me? I know I am different in this form, but—”

“What the fuck are you going on about?” I cut him off, fear making me sound snappy and frustrated—which I was, in a way. Three people figuring me out in two days was way too much.

October frowned, his expression turning grim. “I guess it’s true what they say. You really don’t remember anything, do you, Jaquillian?”

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