It was late when Adelle heard Topher creep in the door to her suite. The vidscreen was on mute, just endless analysis and the bloodiest clips of the Cornucopia on repeat. Her glass was full and the curved decanter on the low table empty.
“I though they wouldn’t let you slip away,” she said.
“One of the many benefits of being the youngest head gamemaker ever.” Topher sat at the end of the couch, taking a tiny cake from the untouched spread of food before her. The few acquaintances Adelle had watched the first hours of the games with left some time ago, leaving her alone to her thoughts and the contents of her bar.
They sat in silence, punctuated only by the knock of ice on the rim of her glass and the erratic beat of Topher’s fingers on the armrest of the couch.
“Echo’s done well,” Topher said when the clip of Echo bashing Cindy Perrin in the head with her backpack came up for the umpteenth time.
Adelle snorted into her tumbler. “She ignored her mentor’s advice, made an alliance with the three weakest players-“
“Wait, what? Have your seen Paul Ballard? He’s like a tree!” Why Topher would focus on the physical, when his girlfriend won her games with a dead arm and a single minded viscousness, still surprised her.
“No matter. He’ll slow her down. If she dies-” Adelle swallowed the rest of her words. If Echo died, she would be of no use to the fledging resistance taking place in the Capital and Adelle and Topher would have to start all over again, looking for the most suitable person for a Treatment.
“She made it through the first day. I donno why you’re worried,” Topher said around a mouthful of cake.
Now Echo just needed to survive the next day and the day after that and President Rossum’s delicate threats whispered in her ear and the victor’s tour and whatever tipped the kerosene on the embers of civil unrest.
Not that Topher, devouring another cake, needed to worry about that yet.
“I’m not worried.” Adelle said; on screen, Echo led her group through the scrub of the desolate desert arena. She reached out at laid a hand on Topher’s shoulder, rubbing her thumb on the soft weave of his garish colored jacket.
“Everything is going to be OK.”