Chapter One: Chosen
A/N: Hey everyone. I've been interested in writing a story about Haymitch's Games for some time. Unfortunately this isn't a submit-your-own-tribute story. I hope you enjoy it anyway. Most of it will be in Haymitch's perspective from the start, but at the Capitol I'm going to alternate between tributes.
Anyway, here's the beginning of Haymitch's story. At the end are all 48 (whoa…so many…) tributes.
There is one day in each year that everyone in District 12 hates and fears. I can't speak for the other districts, because in Career districts like 1 and 2, it is seen as the highest honour. My stomach roils with dread because when I wake up, I hear the solemn voices of my mother and younger brother, Lucan, downstairs. That's when I remember today is that day. Today is the reaping.
I groan into my pillow, wanting to stay forever in the soft warmth of my bed. The blankets form a protective cocoon around me and I wish that could give me comfort. The sun shines bright through a crack in the curtains. It looks like it's going to be a deceptively lovely day.
"Haymitch!" Mum's voice is sharp, rousing me from my reverie, "I know you're awake. It's time to get up. Em's here."
It's the thought of Em, not the smell of bacon, that makes me get up like a shot. I quickly pull a shirt down over my head, struggling to get my arms through the holes, and stumble downstairs where the others are waiting for me.
Emaleigh Dallas, my lovely girlfriend, is sitting at the table with her chin rested on her hand as she chats to Lucan. I admire all of her…her vibrant crimson hair, her creamy pale skin that indicates she's from a wealthier family than most. Then she turns to smile at me and even though we've been going out for eight months, my stomach still does a little flip of joy when she smiles like that.
"Haymitch!" she exclaims, her chair screeching in protest as she pushes it back and flings herself into my waiting arms. That's another beautiful thing about Em. Even though it's reaping day, she still manages to muster enthusiastic and never lets anyone get her down. Em is warm and smells of something sharp and tangy. I think it's cloves.
I lean in and give her a quick peck on the lips. Em knows that I find it embarrassing to have a full-on make-out session in front of my family. Even the brief kiss manages to make Lucan poke his tongue out in disgust.
"Urgh, Haymitch! Get a room!"
My mother and brother both love Em, though. Mum thinks she's the most wonderful girl in the whole of District 12, while Lucan thinks she's great because Em treats him like he's not just a thirteen-year-old kid.
We all sit down and eat breakfast, the four of us. Em's practically an extension of our family and she chatters away without a care in the world.
I, on the other hand, stare down at my bacon and dread what today might hold. It's the 50th Hunger Games and 2nd Quarter Quell. This means something changes and President Snow had announced it – this year, twice the number of tributes would be sent into the arena. Two boys and two girls from District 12 would be sent to their deaths.
"You okay?" Em asks softly, her beautiful brown eyes boring into my Seam grey ones. She looks concerned and I don't like getting her worried, so I force a smile and nod as I cut my bacon, wondering why the Capitol so enjoys tormenting us.
I brush Em's vivid hair back from her neck with cold fingers as I tie the olive-green ribbon in it. She smiles at our reflections in the mirror – her, the beautiful red-haired girl and me, the dark-haired boy from the Seam. Why Emaleigh Dallas picked me I don't think I'll ever know. She turns to face me and stands up on her toes to kiss me on the cheek.
"I know you're worried," Em accuses, concern dancing in her eyes, "Don't be. There are so many people of reaping age. It's so unlikely that you'll be picked."
I don't fear for myself. I fear for Em and my brother, Lucan. Last year it was just Lucan I had to worry about, because I didn't have Em then. But now I do, I know that I can't bring myself to lose her. Now that there are four tributes being picked, I know it's doubly as likely.
We head down to the arena, Mum, Lucan, Em and I. Lucan looks like he wants to say something to Em and I, but instead he just shakes his head slowly and makes his way into the throng of thirteen-year-olds. A few call out his name. Lucan's always been pretty popular at school.
Em and I move to the sixteen-year-olds section and she releases my hand for a moment to wave to some girls in the fifteen-year-olds section. Two of them are blonde-haired – they're the Donner twins, Maysilee and Moira – and the other is dark-haired, like me…she's Lila Faulkner. They wave back and then we slip in amongst the others our age.
The District 12 victor is a man in his late fifties by the name of Cairo Mellark. His oldest grandson, Henri, is in the same year as Em and I at school. His age just proves how much District 12 sucks. Cairo has been our only victor over 50 long years and that doesn't seem like it's about to change anytime soon.
Our escort steps up and taps the microphone and I wince in anticipation. The escort is a very proper woman called Libya Donavan. She forces a smile and I can tell she wishes she was in a better district than 12, where she might actually be looking over a sea of enthusiastic faces rather than this gloom.
I yawn loudly as Libya starts with the whole speech about Panem and how it came to exist, how there were 13 districts but during the Dark Days, they rose up against the Capitol. District 13 was destroyed and as punishment, the Hunger Games were introduced so that the districts could pay for what they'd done. In reality, it was just manipulation, the Capitol demonstrating their power over all of us.
"Now for the tributes. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favour."
I'm not sure how long I hold my breath. All I know is that my hand tightens around Em's as we both stand there, waiting in anticipation for Libya to announce the first female tribute. First…okay, now I'm feeling sick.
The name is vaguely familiar. I watch as a girl with wild ringlets steps out from the thirteen-year-olds section. She's probably one of Lucan's friends from school. I watch with a sense of detachment as she clenches her small hands into fists, and there's a fierceness in her dark eyes as she walks to her doom.
"Now for the first boy…" Libya moves across to the other glass bowl. I know my name's in there. I swallow hard and all I can hope is that she doesn't draw my name. Not mine or Lucan's.
A good-looking blond boy from the seventeen-year-olds section steps out. He's tall and has some muscle, so he's clearly not from the Seam. He strides confidently up to the stage, completely dwarfing little Pandora, who is now staring at her feet and looks like she's trying not to cry.
Libya crosses back over to the girl's smile, with a self-conscious smile that says she knows she looks like an idiot running all around the place. There's no sympathy for the tributes at all and I can feel myself burning with anger. All Libya cares about is how she appears.
There's a shrill cry from the fifteen-year-olds section. Moira has burst into horrified tears and is clutching at Maysilee's hands, but there's a resolute expression on Maysilee's face as she pulls her arms free. Lila's face has turned pale and she's got an arm around Moira's shoulders, holding her tight as she sobs freely.
Em gasps in shock as Maysilee passes us by, her eyes shining with determination. I give Em's hand a comforting squeeze and she smiles at me for a fleeting moment…but then Libya is speaking again.
Em screams in shock as I release her hand. For some reason, I'm not surprised. It's almost like I've been expecting this. I don't even dare to look and see Lucan's face, because I know he'll be just as distraught as Em. I just square my shoulders and move towards the stage, move towards my imminent death.
I don't even really pay attention to the other tributes. Pandora, who has broken down in tears. Torian, whose jaw is clenched. Maysilee, who stares over the now-silent crowd with a cold, unforgiving gaze. I'm one of them now. I'm a tribute of the Hunger Games and I have no doubt that I'm going to die.
Em is the first into the Justice Building. She sprints across towards me and throws herself into my arms, crying heartbrokenly into my shoulder. I smell her sweet scent and feel her hair brush against my face. My heart aches with how much I love her…how much I'm going to miss her.
"I love you," she whispers desperately, her soft breath tickling my ear, "I love you so much, Haymitch Abernathy."
I wrap my arms around her and hold her tight, kissing her forehead. Yet despite her close proximity, I feel so very alone. I'm going into the arena and against forty-seven other tributes, I know I don't stand a chance at survival.
"I'll never regret you," Em murmurs, pressing her lips fiercely and urgently to mine, so that I can taste her bittersweet sadness, "You'll always be a part of me, Haymitch."
I laugh shakily. "Hey, Em. I'm not dead yet."
She chokes back a laugh and stands back to allow Mum and Lucan room. Lucan throws his arms around me and for a few minutes, the pair of us just stand there in complete silence. Then he fiddles in his pocket and pulls out a white pawn – my favourite piece in the game of chess. I stifle my surprise.
"You're allowed a token," Lucan reminds me, "This is yours."
Mum is trying to keep it together, but after a few moments she can't take it anymore. The silent tears stream down her cheeks as she kisses my head and rhythmically strokes back my hair as if I'm six years old again. I can't stand it because I think I might break down myself.
"Mum," I say hoarsely.
"My baby boy," Mum murmurs, kissing my head again, "I love you. No matter what happens, we'll all be proud of you."
I nod fervently, not trusting myself to speak. Mum and Lucan leave as they exit, Em presses her lips to mine for possibly the last time and then follows them. I think I'm done with visitors, but then a slim blonde girl enters. It's Moira Donner.
I watch a little suspiciously as she crosses the room towards me. Why is here to see me? Moira approaches with a sad little smile and then she takes my hands in her cold ones and looks me right in the eye.
"Please, promise me you'll try and look after my sister."
I swallow the lump in my throat. "I can't do that. It's the Hunger Games. We're all fending for ourselves."
Moira's eyes plead with me to listen. "Haymitch…I'm sorry that this has happened to you. I know that you and Emaleigh love each other very much. I'm to defend my sister. I'm just saying…if there's ever a time in the Games when you have the chance to kill her, please show her mercy. Can you do that?"
It's extremely unlikely that Maysilee and I would be in the final two. I nod my head yes, and Moira smiles despite the tears welling in her eyes. Despite the fact that I barely know her, she pulls me into a hug.
"Thank you, Haymitch."
Male: Cash Lenoir – 13
Female: Shine Silver – 14
Male: Neon Brunswick – 18
Female: Velvet Ashden – 16
Male: Zeke Seville – 17
Female: Sorrell Barber – 15
Male: Coyote Zin – 14
Female: Radar Draconian – 15
Male: Blaze Leopold – 16
Female: Marli Larsen – 14
Male: Levi Lerner – 15
Female: Cessa Tryst – 12
Male: Rome Kennedy – 14
Female: Jaffa Frane – 12
Male: Drake Forrester – 16
Female: Stave Simm – 13
Male: Ileum Lazard – 18
Female: Obsidian "Sid" Nielson – 17
Male: Jude Royse – 16
Female: Flame DiAngelis – 12
Male: Thorn Lynmus – 16
Female: Indigo "Indi" Chassell – 17
Male: Cyprus Hiscotch – 15
Female: Cella Hiscotch – 17
Male: Rid Marshall – 14
Female: Brandy Fallax – 18
Male: Tuliers Flint – 18
Female: Sinead Reever – 12
Male: Beaudean Huckley – 13
Female: Tobi Nightingale – 13
Male: Medallion "Medal" Cain – 15
Female: Juliet "Jules" Titian – 16
Male: Rook Darkholme – 14
Female: Destiny Martinez – 15
Male: Balthazar Helix – 18
Female: Faith Veritas – 17
Male: Ember Dall-Domion – 14
Female: Serralyn Ryes - 16
Male: Merrick Frost – 18
Female: Tasha Bux – 12
Male: Ruall O'Malley – 13
Female: Fleur Dubretski – 15
Male: Gryphon Lazar – 17
Female: Muse Phlinx – 15
Male: Haymitch Abernathy – 16
Female: Maysilee Donner – 15
Male: Torian Charlton – 17
Female: Pandora Twist – 13