It started with the pounding of adrenaline, fumbling hands behind my back.
The action itself was done in a complete calm, though. A swift rise of my hand and a step to the side, making my presence known.
“I volunteer as tribute,” I state clearly, putting a reassuring hand on the twelve-year-old girl’s shoulder.
“You’re safe for now, love. Run to your big sister alright?” I hum lowly, watching her quickly nod her head and stumble back to the shell-shocked fourteen years old.
“A volunteer hm? Well come up here dear, time’s ticking.” The man on the stage says with a smile that's just a smidge too wide. His hair is a distasteful neon green, along with a stupid bright yellow suit. Ugh, color coordination is the least I could ask for when I'm about to probably die again. Damn my empathy.
I walk forward, eyeing the bare bones stage with a younger but still drunk Haymitch standing almost somberly to the side. The male tribute, a seventeen-year-old from the seam, looks pretty terrified.
Stopping to stand beside the boy I sigh, closing my eyes.
This was the games that career from District One won, wasn't it? Some roman emperor named idiot I think.
Great. This is going to suck .
They let me bring my charcoal and sketchbook, but it’d been a struggle to convince them I needed both and it still counted as one thing.
John, I find out the other boy’s name is, is fiddling with a necklace while we wait to be escorted to the train. I don’t know who’s it is, maybe his mom’s, a sister’s-
He’s going to be dead in a couple weeks at most.
His hair is a dark brown, not black like I first thought. He’s got freckles sprinkled around his face and hands, not the ginger kind but what you’d see on someone with darker skin.
He’s going to die. Everyone but one kid is dead.
My throat is tightening, my eyes are watering, I need to take a deep breath.
“I’m sorry,” I say, looking straight at him with teary eyes
I don’t have to say why. We both know why. It’s not even my sorry to give.
The door slams open and the man from before gives us a fake smile.
“Come along my dears, it’s time to leave. Be sure to smile!” He says, heading straight for the door outside and opening it for us.
I stand up quickly, gripping my sketchbook and charcoal as I start for the door. I force myself to smile slightly with my eyes and mouth and don’t look at the cameras while I walk. The whole district is staring at me, and the Capital will be looking soon as well.
As much as I want to start the rebellion early-
I look through the crowd and spot a dark haired girl with her hand in her sisters, staring at me with hawklike eyes.
That’s for someone else to do.
I smile for real right at her, then enter the train.
If I live or not, I know this isn’t forever. This isn’t going to last as long as the Capital hopes it will.
Qui vivra verra.
“Marvellous! Absolutely marvelous my dears. I cannot believe such a small thing as you volunteered. Wanted a piece of the glory did you?” What’s his stupid face asks, wiggling his pencil thin, blue eyebrows.
Will I get disqualified if I kick his balls? I’m the perfect height to kick him in his balls.
“Of course, my name is Januas Quil if you hadn’t known,” Januas tells us with a white grin that pulls at his face just a little too much. Cosmetic surgery will always be cosmetic surgery, and I doubt all the signs will ever stop being noticeable. “And your… quaint mentor is Haymitch Abernathy.” The man finishes, eyeing Haymitch with distaste when he steps through the doors and sits down at a table.
This Haymitch looks more like he does in the books, Seam eyes, and Hair. He still has some of his old looks at thirty-three, though his growing alcoholism isn't helping his age better.
I take my fingers through my own black hair in thought.
“I’d say nice to meet you, but the circumstance sours it,” I say quietly to Haymitch, eyeing the man who helps make the Mockingjay. Not that I remember many of the details at this point, other than a vague play by play of her point of view in the rebellion.
And Snow’s fingers on the necks of every victor’s loved ones. I’ll never forget the day when I remembered Snow’d forced Finnick into giving sexual favors to the Capitol’s elite. Fucker.
Sort of unlucky that I’ll probably be a looker if I live past sixteen, he could threaten anyone innocent and my ass would cave. Not that I assume he’d exploit a thirteen-year-old, but he did it to a fourteen-year-old.
I take solace in the fact that he dies after Coin gets an arrow to the head.
Haymitch snorts at this, looking both me and John over over his glass of whiskey.
“You’re self-aware, at least. Enough to realize that you’re dead I hope.” The sole living Victor of 12 states looking me straight in the eye.
The first time made the fear of it a little less than it should be, who knows if it’ll be permanent anyway?
“Now Mr. Abernathy, that’s no way to talk to the tributes you’re mentoring-”
“You shut up-”
“True enough. Might as well try before then though.” I cut both John and Januas off before taking a seat in front of Haymitch and pouring myself a glass of booze. I must look hilarious, this little thirteen-year-old pouring herself some whiskey and getting ready to start drawing in her sketchbook. It’s almost similar to how I spent my evenings way back when on a three day weekend, when I had real pencils to use and a real sketchbook, instead of random papers sewn into a cover.
I’ll never take readily available sketching paper for granted again, I swear .
John makes a noise behind me and promptly walks away towards the hallway, probably looking for somewhere that makes sense.