True or Real

By: Curlysquirt95

Chapter 4: Putting Myself on the Line (Twice. In One Day.)

The slip of paper never left my pocket.

It was a constant reminder throughout the day of Braiden. I could feel it practically burning a hole through my shorts. Could it be possible that he really was sorry? I didn't know. But I knew one thing for sure: If he ever showed interest in me again, I wouldn't go running away sobbing. No way, I'd reciprocate the feeling. With force.

Classes went by in a blur. I went through Drastic Negotiations class, practicing different types of weapons. Anonymity lessons were easy; we learned when it was better to wear a moustache and when it wasn't when trying to disguise yourself. A few hours later found me in the canteen, grabbing my plate of food. All the food here was specifically made for each agent. They were supposed to be chock full of vitamins and extremely healthy. Yet somehow, they made it taste great.

I sat in my usual spot, next to Nicole. Our canteen somehow ended up being divided like any other normal lunchroom. Each table had its own team. Our team-Team Alpha-was situated on one of the tables along the back wall. Team Charlie, made up of Morgan, Kyle, and Derek, was in the center of the room. They all wore matching mission suits, all of them magazine beautiful. They were usually one of the top teams used for missions. It didn't really bother me though, because I knew our team, by far, was the best.

Our table consisted of Nicole, Braiden and I. And whoever mercenary the Agency is using at the time.

I seized the moment without Braiden at our table and told Nicole of the slip of paper. Her eyes widened after I told her and she swallowed a bite of her ham sandwich. "He really did that?"

I showed her the paper and she shook her head. "Man, he's got it for you bad." She said nodding her head, "Really, really bad."

For some reason, that idea made me squirm. "You really think so?"

Nicole nodded her head earnestly. "Definitely. I mean, how many guys do you know that would take the time to secretly slip you a note?" she asked, giving me a "duh" look.

"I don't exactly know very many guys to begin with."

She waved a hand, dismissing it. "Irrelevant. Oh look, he's coming over here." she said silently. Abruptly getting up, she said, "I gotta go."

"What? You can't just leave me here with him!" I protested.

Her mouth twisted into a smirk. "Watch me."

My mouth opened in shock as she smiled sweetly at Braiden. "Hey Braiden, I have to rush."

He nodded, taking the seat across from me. "Sure, see you around."

My friend winked at me from behind Braiden, causing me to glare at her. It was just like her to leave me with Braiden like this.

I absently picked at my macaroni, my head down. He didn't say anything at first, only taking a bite of his juicy hamburger.

"So how are you?" he asked, bringing his eyes up to mine. His blonde hair was mussed, almost covering up his walnut eyes. I quietly watched his demeanor and only blinked when he moved his left hand to the table.

"Good and you?" I replied. His left hand softly smacked the table: Meeting with Daniels today.

I gave him a barely perceptible nod.

"Great." He said, although he didn't sound like it. He tapped two fingers on the table: Two o'clock.

I nodded again. This meeting could only mean two things: Either we had been issued another mission, or we were going to get reprimanded. Hopefully it wasn't the latter; Daniels's ideas of punishment weren't exactly the most... comfortable thing in the world.

Braiden lowered his voice. "Hey, can you help me with this problem in Statistics?" He pulled out his math book, gesturing to the seat next to him. I blinked a few times, shocked at this, then resulted in agreeing. I sat next to him and he flipped to a random page in the textbook. My eyes flicked to the numbers on the page and I instantly really didn't feel like doing any more math work than I had to.

"Listen, I'm really sorry, Heather." He said softly, as his finger pointed to a probability problem.

"You do it like this." I said loudly, picking up a pencil and writing random numbers in the margin.

"I know," I whispered. "I got your note."

He shook his head. "I shouldn't have been so forward. I mean, we've been friends for a long time. It's just that…I think I'm...falling for you."

And all motions and noise stopped in the crowded cafeteria. My palms grew sweaty and I could feel my face flush.

I think I'm falling for you. Just thinking about those words made me flush a deeper red than before.

How often in my life had I been told that a guy was falling for me? That's an easy one: never.

How was I supposed to respond to that? Say that I was falling for him too? But I didn't think I was, I mean, at least not yet. Darn Nicole and her meanness for leaving me here like this, flopping like a fish trying to breathe.

I could feel his hypnotizing eyes on me as I continued to stare at my tray of food. It didn't help any that he had to be so handsome too, and be sitting to close to me. I could feel warmth emanating from his skin.

"It's just so sudden…" I trailed off, still at a loss as to what to say.

"You've been clueless, you know," he said pointedly. "I've liked you for a long while now."

I blinked, absorbing the information. There had been a guy liking me this long and I was stupid enough not to realize it? What kind of agent was I?

"I…I guess I didn't realize it." I met his gaze hesitantly, finding only compassion in his russet eyes.

Braiden smoothly ignored my comment. "You only want to be friends, don't you?" He leaned away from me, his broad shoulders drooping.

The warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of my stomach begged to differ. But something didn't feel right…Like maybe this wasn't the right time...?

"Braiden, I…Maybe if we took it slo-"

"Look, I get it. You don't like me." He stood up, slamming his textbook shut and putting it in his bag.

I stood up too, not wanting to make another foolish mistake in the span of only a few days. "Braiden, you're not listening to me!"

He looked at me evenly, his body twitching with irritation. "I'm listening."

"Maybe, we could…If we took it slow."

He seemed to like this idea, because he said, "Slow, I can do. So it's official? I mean, we can go at a pace you're comfortable with." He offered, his face instantly lightened with his smile.

"It's official." I agreed, a shy smile suddenly on my features.

"So…Is this okay?" Braiden asked, his hand grabbing mine. His hand felt much larger than mine, his skin calloused from years on the team. But it felt...right. Like his hand being in mine made me safe.

I nodded my head, sure there was a blush on my cheeks.

"Good. Now let's go see Daniels."

And I walked out of the lunchroom, suddenly finding myself with the largest grin on my face I've ever had in a long time.

Daniels didn't find us holding hands. In fact, she didn't find us even remotely acting different. We were here to be professionals, not lovers.

Nicole was already sitting at the long metallic table, tapping away on her phone. Her hazel eyes flickered up to mine, a question in them. What happened?

I scratched my nose. I'll tell you later.

We took our appropriate seats, one of us on either side of Nicole. We waited a few short moments until Daniels walked in, her high heels clicking solidly on the floor. She sat across the table from us, a manila file folder in her hand.

"You all must know why we're here, then." She assumed of us. To clarify, she said, "A mission, of course."

The rest of us nodded. Inside I felt good about it not being a punishment.

Daniels opened the file folder and slid it towards us. "The Black Hand has a new leader."

"Already?" This was from Nicole, who had put away her phone.

"Yes. The group is already being reformed by Alexi Rutchovski's own son. He is about 25 years old, and was only recently heard of. For the majority of his life he was on the run with his father."

Daniels pointed a manicured finger to a picture paper clipped to the folder. "Here he is, out in Moscow."

The photo was in black and white of a man wearing a trench coat. He had shades on, preventing anyone from getting a good look at him.

"Although much of him is unknown he will soon be our new target. But before we get there, I do have a task for you all. Alexi's son, Dimitri, often confides in his version of the KGB, the Cores. They are his secret police and often do his dirty work. His whereabouts are currently undetermined. For now, I need you to learn as much as you can about the Cores. Preferably, capture one. If any others of the police hear about this, then it will be a failure. You leave for Moscow tomorrow."

"And how would you like us to go about doing this?" Braiden asked, looking distant yet right here with us.

Daniels's smile was large, almost creepy, even. "Anyway you like."

Okay guys, I am so sorry I'm updating this story about 3 months after my last one. I promise I'll be much faster! Please don't hate me! And I'm sorry this chapter is short, but the next one will be longer. Much longer. (It's their mission, after all!) Anyways, did you like this chapter? :)