Description: AU. Peeta is recused from the Quarter Quell, not Katniss. Katniss is tortured in the Capitol, leaving Peeta to become the face of the rebellion, the Phoenix, while the Mockingjay is tortured in the Gilded Cage. When Katniss returns, broken and hijacked, can the Rebellion survive? Or, with history changed, will the Capitol continue, even more terrible than before?
Ch. 1: Ashes.
I come to in a bed, my arms attached to machines with tubes and wires. I have a bandage over my left temple and eye, and there is no one else in the room. The only sounds are the steady beeps of the machines, and my suddenly fast and harsh breathing.
Katniss! Where is Katniss?
The last thing I remember is being with Finnick, Katniss shooting an arrow through the forcefield - and then nothing. Just being here. She should be here. Where is she? Where am I? What happened in the Quell? Who is dead? Who is alive - are we in the Capitol? Are they going to torture us, kill us, execute us and our families like they did with Seneca Crane?
The questions spin around and around my head as I look wildly around with my one uncovered eye. I look down at my body - it seems whole, except for the healing scars on my arms, and the legs exposed by what appears to be a hospital gown. I must have been injured when the force field blew. But what happened after that? I find myself standing up, and the machine beeps wildly as I rip the wires from my arms.
I have to find Katniss. I was supposed to keep her alive - Haymitch and I made a promise - but where is she?
I open the door to the room, and am faced with a small, narrow hallway. A door is ajar only 10 feet away and I try to be quiet, try to be stealthy, try to step with all the cat-like grace of Katniss when she's hunting. I manage to get to the door without making a sound, and then my legs fail me, my head swims, and I fall into the metal door, the weight of my body opening it with a booming crash.
"Peeta!" I hear Haymitch, shocked at my sudden entrance.
A large man with a ridiculous mustache looks up, startled, then grins. "Ah! He's awake."
It takes me a minute to realize who he is. "Plutarch. The Gamemaker."
"You remember me." He sounds delighted.
"So we're in the Capitol? Who won? Where is Katniss?"
Haymitch approaches me, cautiously, reaches out a hand to place on my shoulder.
"We aren't in the Capitol. We are on a hovercraft headed to District 13."
This doesn't register. He didn't answer the most important question.
"Where is Katniss?"
"We got you out of the arena just in time - the forcefield blew everything sky high. We were able to get you and Finnick out, but-" Begins Plutarch, but I cut him off.
"Where is Katniss?" my voice rises to a shout, more anger in it than I have ever heard, the pain and terror rising an building when I realize that there is something big, something important, that neither of these men are telling me.
"Peeta, we- we couldn't get her out. We grabbed you, and then the Capitol got her. We only just made it out before you passed out, unconscious."
Haymitch's eyes bore into mine, surprisingly sober, begging me to stay with him, begging me to handle this, because he needs me to handle it. But that is just too monumental a task to ask.
My jaw drops open, and a gut-wrenching howl leaves my mouth. My knuckles are suddenly bloody, there is a crack as the bones in my hand break when it makes contact with the wall, then another as I punch Plutarch, punch Haymitch, throw a chair. But I don't feel a thing.
I am drowning in pain, in agony - because Katniss isn't here, she's in the Capitol, in their hands, and without a doubt, President Snow is going to kill her. I couldn't save her.
I am suddenly aware of pain again when something sharp pricks my shoulder, and I am falling, the world blurry and swirling, and then black.