There are two types of people in Panem; those that serve and those that are served.
Haymitch has never known another world but this. He grew up as a poor boy from the poorest of districts: District 12. He grew up dreading the games because he knew that if his name was drawn, the odds would definably not be in his favor.
Then the second Quarter Quell happened.
Double the tributes is what that little paper from the glass bowl read. Double the chances for someone he knew to be called. Double the chances for him to be called.
Thank the lucky lady that his little brother was too young to be called. His parents only had him to worry about, which is one good thing out of this mess.
As is custom, the female tributes were chosen first. The first girl chosen was a year ahead of him, cruel to his friend, and should have had her name only in once.
‘At least it’s someone I barely know, and never wanted to.’
Another name called, Maysilee Donner. She was nice, the older sister of his girlfriend. Someone he knew. Someone he would mourn. Someone whose loss would devastate someone he cared so much for.
‘At least it’s not her.’
The male tributes came next. Two names to be drawn. Two more people to lose. A boy who just turned thirteen and whose love of pranks had made him infamous in Haymitch’s own circle.
‘At least now we can sit down without fear of siting on a briar.’
One more name. One more person to find a way not to be destroyed at their loss, since no one who leaves to the games ever comes back to District 12.
‘At least it’s not by little brother.’
An impossible win, the capitol claimed when Haymitch left the arena. He was glad to have survived, and so didn’t listen to the exclamations coming his way. He had a family to return to. A girlfriend to hold. His life was in District 12.
Till it wasn’t.
He had two weeks with them before they were taken away by death. Two weeks to feel their arms around him. Two weeks of knowing that they’d never go without food again. Two weeks to learn to live with them again.
President Snow really knows how to cause the most pain.
At first, Haymitch couldn’t imagine anything worse than what had been done to him. Then the 51st Games came along. As the only Victor from District 12, he had to mentor the two tributes from his district. He had to pick one to try to stay alive, and sacrifice the other.
As first the female, and then the male fell at the hands of the Careers, he broke. He survived the games for this? He survived to watch his family die? To fail the people counting on him to bring a Tribute home?
“Son?” The other impossible victor led him out to somewhere more private than the Mentor Room.
Haymitch babbled out incoherent noises. In his mind were the faces of this year’s tribute, last year’s, and his family. He couldn’t save them. He couldn’t…
“You’re not supposed to.”
“Those of us from the last three districts? We’re not supposed to survive. Hell, none of us are supposed to survive ‘cept the careers. Only reason 5, 6, and 9 have so many is cause somebody wants those families to die out.”
The other impossible victor was Archie Leach from District 11. His tributes died at almost the same times as Haymitch’s own. Through Archie, he learned the other facts of being a Victor, especially a Favorite.
A Favorite is a Victor that the Capitol loves, and loves even more to have on for arm candy and other…more unsavory things. The Favorites are kept in line with threats to loved ones (Unlucky for them, Haymitch didn’t have any of those), and promises of favors within the arena. A Favorite had better chances of keeping their tribute alive, but at the cost of being “the Capitol’s whore”, and never being able to say “no”.
Archie said no, and at the next reaping his daughter was chosen.
A sweet girl at fifteen, she didn’t have the fire in her belly that her father had. Small in stature, with too big eyes, she was an easy target in the arena. Haymitch watched as his tributes died, alcohol numbing the pain, and turned just in time to watch Archie break. Peacekeeprs had to be called in to drag the man out. District 2 won that year, and Haymitch was glad that the kid that killed his friend’s daughter had lost, too.
That year, Haymitch promised to never get attached to another tribute or someone who was in the age range. He locked himself in his house in District 12’s Victor Village, and only left when forced to by the Capitol.
At the Capitol, he passed time by doing whatever his “assignment” was and finding local places to get roaring drunk at.
At these hole-in-the-wall places, he found Bobby, a Victor from District 6 and a contracted Peacekeeper called a Hunter. District 6 is overran with rogue supernatural creatures, Bobby had explained once the two of them were a bit too far into their mugs to care. Hunters were allowed certain weapons, but had to do more. A Hunter was a Hunter for life, and their children were born to be Hunters as well, with the children also most likely to be chosen.
“Only Hunter-Kid not reaped was Mary Campbell, but her boyfriend…I guess husband now…was.”
Bobby is a good drinking buddy, even after the ‘accident’ that caused him to be paralyzed from the waist down. He can’t visit the same places anymore cause of lack of access, but his stories are worth the ride to District 6 Rooms when they’re both at the Capitol.
Through Bobby he met John Winchester, Mary Campbell’s boyfriend-turned-husband. Even after winning the games, he had a ready smile whenever he talked about Mary. His smile disappeared, however, when his wife died in a fire leaving him to raise his two boys, Dean and Sam alone. The disappeared smile was even worse when Sam’s name was reaped, and Dean volunteered for him. At those games, Haymitch learned that a Hunter’s Training made the Career’s schooling looks like child’s play, and that Dean really won the nickname ‘Trapper’ while playing, and then winning.
Another drinking buddy came in the form of Nathan Ford. He was the son of a loan shark in District 7 who was killed by the Peacekeepers for his unlawful business. Ford joined the drinking group at 18, when his six-month pregnant wife Maggie Collins was reaped for the games. Ford was forced to watch as a career, and then winner, sliced Maggie open so the unborn child could be seen before killing them both. The baby had been a boy. “Sam” Nathan called the baby one day after his tributes had died. He reminded them that if Maggie hadn’t been reaped, and Sam had been born, he would have been the same age as one of his tributes.
Through Nathan, Haymitch met Sophie Devereaux, a Victor from District 4. Through Sophie there was Mags, Annie, and Finnick. Through Nate he also met Hannibal, a man not so different from Ford except he preferred a good cigar while Nate leaned towards the alcohol. Through Hannibal was District 10 Victor B.A., District 9 Victor Face, and District 11 Victor Howling-Mad-Murdock. Never forget to add “Howling-Mad” to Murdock’s name.
They all had a round of drinks when Murdock was found dead with his 9-yr old daughter Parker silently standing guard over his body. The only thing Archie could get from Parker was “people wearing other people’s faces”. Bobby and John had both looked up at the moment with scowls. They knew what had killed Murdock, but being outside District 6, they couldn’t do anything about it.
Parker was eventually reaped as well. Archie joined the drinking group this time. He couldn’t watch another daughter die, and he didn’t. Parker hid away and stole what she needed to survive. Parker became a part of Haymitch’s family.
Beetee, Wiress, and even Alec Hardison from District 3.
Mags, Annie, Finnick, and Sophie from 4.
Bobby, John, Ellen, and Dean from 6.
Nathan, Hannibal, and Johanna from 7.
Woof and Cecelia from 8.
Face from 9.
B.A. and Eliot from 10.
Archie and Parker from 11.
All of them came from differen places, had their own family dramas, but they came to be Haymitch’s second family. A family he didn’t have to worry about the Capitol ripping from him by way of the games.
At the 73rd games, Haymitch met another member of a Victor Family. At twelve, Althea was the last of the Wilde and the last of the Phoenix families, with only Face for family. Her name wasn’t drawn, but volunteered. She won, another impossibility.
So, when the nest year came around and his tributes reminded him of different members of his family, he started to hope. Peeta reminded him of Sophie with his charisma and of Cecelia with her hope. Katniss, however, reminded him of Eliot with her quick temper and Dean in how she volunteered for her sister.
Haymitch fought for them, and from a quick word of advice from Nathan, he suggested the hope of love to keep them both alive even longer. For the first time as mentor, Haymitch was able to bring home a tribute. For the first time since the beginning of the games, there were two victors.
However, this time it is the third Quarter Quell, and every Quarter Quell has a twist. He saved his two tributes for the 74th, but does Snow have a way to destroy that victory?