The Capitol Games ch 2
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I must have blacked out, because I dream that I'm kissing Finnick.
That's how I know it's a dream. Because Finnick is dead. And unless I'm dead too, there is no way I can be kissing Finnick. Dream-Finnick holds me in his arms, kisses me in that entirely familiar way. Then… the kiss changes, the lips against mine are unfamiliar, and I pull away, confused.
My eyes snap open so I can stare in confusion at Finnick. Only… it's not Finnick anymore. It's a Capitol boy I've never met, and before I can say anything, he's grinning menacingly at me, and there's a jolt of white-hot pain. I look down and see a trident in my stomach. I look up, shocked, and see that Finnick has returned. He's shaking his head sadly, catches me as I slump and succumb to the blackness.
"FINNICK!" I wake up screaming his name. But he's not there. Neither is Haymitch. My two-year-old daughter, Rue, is leaning over me, her black eyes wide with concern, her bronze curls tickling my face as she peers at me worriedly.
"Mama? You ok?" Rue speaks in disjointed English, because she hasn't quite got the hang of full sentences just yet.
I blink, flinching in the early afternoon sun. "Sure, sweetie," I say, sitting up. How'd I end up flat on my back?
"You went pale, went sleep," says Rue.
Oh. That's how.
When Haymitch comes home, I try and keep a straight face. I don't want him to know that I know. Not yet. Rue runs over to him on her chubby toddler legs, reaching out her arms, balling and unballing her tiny fists. She wants a hug. Haymitch obliges, reaching down, lifting Rue into his arms and hugging her.
"Papa!" Rue exclaims delightedly. I'm still amazed at her forwards vocabulary.
"Want down now," Rue says in her disjointed English. Haymitch sets her down and peers at me.
"Is mama okay?" Haymitch asks Rue, who shakes her head. That's a cheap shot, trying to work out my mental state by asking Rue.
"Nope. Mama saw President on tee-vee and she say mama gotta go to the ree-nah." Rue says proudly. I'm amazed that she can say 'President', but still finds 'arena' a struggle. Then again, it's not a word she's heard before. Any talk of Hunger Games and arenas is done in private, when Rue is asleep and Haymitch is close to relapsing into his old alcoholism.
He's looking at me now, expression concerned. Perhaps I zoned out again. That happens sometimes. I'm almost as crazy as Annie now. Haymitch stands and crosses the room to me. I manage a very weak smile.
"Should have seen this coming," I manage to choke out.
Haymitch shakes his head. "None of us saw this coming. We all assumed, because you were a Rebel, a pilot, a soldier, that she'd cut you some slack," Haymitch says.
I start to shake and if I'm not careful I'll blank out completely. Haymitch enfolds me in his arms, and I start to cry, silent, fearful tears as he holds me close, his strong arms trying to shield me from the outside world.
What will await me in the arena? Will it be an icy wasteland filled with polar bear mutts? Or a scorching desert hell with scorpions the size of cars? Either way, I'm dead.
"She'll rig it," I tell Haymitch, who blinks at me, bemused.
"Coin," I prompt, "She'll rig it so I die."
The look that crosses his face tells me that Haymitch has already considered this possibility.
"We – Plutarch and I – are doing everything we can. You may find the arena easier to navigate once we're done," Haymitch says in response. I frown, confused. How can Haymitch and Plutarch save me? Sure, Plutarch is Head Game Maker, but… surely Coin will prevent any rigging in my favour.
I am Nina Snow, just another piece in their games.