A.N. The Hunger Games belongs to Suzanne Collins as always.

Thanks for the reviews guys, keep them coming.

p.s I have a poll up on what story I should do next, don't worry I am still going to carry on with this one and my other hunger games story but will possibly get rid of some others.


"Hey Katniss, what do you call a deer with no eyes?"

She groans and closes her eyes, dropping her head back to rest it against one of the old wooden support beams of the Hob. I've been in a joke mood since I woke up this morning. So far I've told all the ones I know about chickens and it seems that deers are next on the list.

"I don't know Darius, what do you call a deer with no eyes?"

"A no-eyed-deer of course!" Katniss lets out a small whimper and I crack up laughing.

When I'm finished laughing I sigh, "ah, my humour is wasted on you."

Katniss's eyes open a crack at this. "For it to be humour it has to be funny."

"My jokes are too funny." I counter.

"Are not."

"Are too!"

"Are not!"

"Are too! It's not my fault you don't have a single funny bone in your body."

"That's not true but your jokes are, they're like, like... The anti-funny!"

"The anti funny?" I ask sardonically, raising an eyebrow.

"Shut up, it was the best thing I could come up with, you rushed me."

I snort and she throws a ball of string at me.

It hits me on the head, perfect shot. "Hey watch it, I'm delicate."

"Delicate in the head more like." She mutters.

I clutch at my chest with one hand and throw the other over my eyes. "Oh katniss you wound me."

"Good." She says and closes her eyes again.

A few minutes later John comes in. I'm about to test some of my humour out on him, when I notice that he's distracted.

In his hands, instead of his usual hunters bag, are a few old books and a couple of worn looking knick knacks. His eyes are downcast, clouded. His eyebrows are furrowed making the frown lines on his head more prominent.

"You okay?" I ask concerned.

He looks up. "Oh yeah, fine. Just ... getting rid of some of this stuff. It's, er, old anyway."

He looks back at the items in his hands and sighs.

I know he's lying.

People that live in the seam don't have much to begin with, so they treasure what they do have. A couple of books to a merchant, might just be things they have around the house, but to someone from the seam, even the oldest of books are considered a luxury. The only possible reason he would have for selling them, would be because he needed the money.

I know that the Hawthornes always need the money, but there's a difference between needing the money and needing the money. It seems to be the latter in this case.

I watch him as he walks over to one of the stalls in the back. It's not one of the busier stalls, but it does well enough. It sells bits of string and some nails and on the rare occasion a vase or two.

Hawthorne manages to haggle a price for the books, but the vendor refuses to take the knick knacks. I think about the last few weeks, to see if there's anything I've missed. I don't recall anything out of the ordinary. I know he came in with less than his usual catch a couple of weeks ago, but it can't have set him back this much can it?

When he walks back over he looks defeated. He stands next to me with his hands shoved deeply in his pockets and closes his eyes.

I've never seen Mr Hawthorne like this. In all the time I've known him, he's always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. It worries me to see him like this. I don't ask him what's wrong though.

If there's one thing that I've learnt about people in the seam, it's that they have a crippling sense of pride. One of the quickest ways for them to be on guard, is if someone asks 'what's wrong' or if they can help. They're stubborn about not wanting to accept charity, even if they desperately need to. I think it's sad, but it's so ingrained into their way of life that it would be easier to mine for diamonds than to break them out of it. Coming from two, this idiom is somewhat confusing, seeing as the mines there are actually for diamonds, but I suppose here in twelve you wouldn't find anything other than coal.

So I let him stand there for a while, while I bite my tongue and wait, hoping he tells me all on his own.

After a few minutes he still hasn't spoken and my leg has become numb. I'm put in the awkward position of really needing to move to get the feeling back, but not wanting to disturb the tense silence that has built up around us. I try to wiggle a bit but quickly dismiss that idea when Sae's table, which I'm sitting on, lets out a loud groan of protest. He doesn't notice, thank God. I should probably stop sitting on this thing because it really isn't all that stable. When the table has stopped shaking and squeaking, I try again. I'm so engrossed in the task of getting off the table sneakily that when John dies speak I jump, startled and nearly knock the whole damn thing over.

"Hazelle's pregnant again."

"Oh?" I say distractedly while catching a bowl that's about to fall. Sae gives me a glare which I respond to with a sheepish smile.

"Yeah... Lord how are we gonna cope? We barely manage now."

"Er..." I really don't know what to say. I don't think the usual congratulations would really be appropriate while he's like this.

"Maybe in a couple of years when Gale moves out, it wouldn't be so bad, but now?" He shakes his head. "Still nothing to be done I suppose."

I look at Katniss. She would know if there was some sort of herbal medicine to terminate the pregnancy, I know that there are things available in two. Katniss however just states at Mr Hawthorne with a strange look on her face. It looks like her good mood from this morning is long gone.

"Ahh, damn it. Damn, damn, damn."

"I suppose Gale will sign up for another tesserae, maybe two. It will be the only way to get around it."

"Agghh, I should get out in to the woods, see if I can't bag myself a few more rabbits."

He pats me on the shoulder. "See you later Darius, Katniss." He nods his head at her as he leaves.

As we watch him walk away Katniss speaks up. "I never want to have kids."

I look to her in surprise. "Why not?"

She looks at me then. "Why would I? I couldn't bring a child into this, the Games, the poverty. Worrying about any little thing they could catch, incase it turned into a big thing because you couldn't pay for proper medicine. Watching your kids starve because you don't have enough food to even feed yourself. Forcing them to take a tesserae. It's selfish."

I stand back shocked. "Well, what if it just happened?"

"It won't." She says firmly. She stares at me and her eyes don't waver. She seems so sure of herself.

"How do know?"

"Because I'm never getting married, I'm never gonna fall in love."

"Not ever?"

She shakes her head resolutely.

Huh. What am I supposed to say to that?

"What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?"

/

After lunch my pager goes off. There's trouble in the seam. I set off running.

I can hear the commotion before I can see it. I sounds like a brawl. Turning the corner I see a small crowd with several seam men in the middle fighting. Two peacekeepers are already there, trying to separate them, but they're outnumbered.

The men must be drunk because one of them shouts something derogatory about the Capitol and then pulls a loose plank of wood off of the porch of the house behind him and takes a swing at one of the peacekeepers. A few of the others that have yet to be restrained follow his example. That's when things get violent.

I reach down and pull my baton from the clip on my side and shove it outwards. It extends with a snap. I run faster.

When I reach them, I grab the man closest to me, spin him around and swing the baton at his plank of wood so that he drops it. I shove him to the ground and pull his hands behind his back so that I can cuff him. He struggles, but the alcohol has made him uncoordinated. It doesn't take long to subdue him.

I'm just about to stand back up, when the side of my face explodes in pain. The force of the blow causes me to fall side ways in to the dirt. I don't have my helmet on. My skull throbs and I screw my eyes closed from the pain.

When I open them again the world is spinning, but I'm just able to make out the plank coming at my face again and I manage to roll out of the way in time to avoid a possibly fatal blow. I stagger to my feet clutching my weapon.

The miner takes another swing at me, but I raise my arm to block the blow. His movements are sloppy and his speech is slightly slurred, but the rage in his eyes burns bright and clear. I know when he swings his weapon he means to hurt me. It sets my adrenaline pumping and I don't think anymore, I just react.

Even drunk he's a good fighter and probably has more experience than me, so we meet blow for blow. He swings the piece of wood at me again, but this time I meet it with my baton and the wood cracks in two. Left with a now pitiful weapon, he throws it to the side and begins to use his fist. I mange to duck a punch to the face, but receive a blow to the kidneys. I keel over at the waist but manage to strike out and hit him in the side. He grunts but doesn't stop coming at me. He manages to get in another blow to my chest, but this time he hits the metal chest plate and he staggers backwards clutching his fist.

I feel another hand on my shoulder grabbing me. I spin around, baton held high and swing it down. I hear the bone snap as the baton makes contact and the man cries out in pain. Without pausing I switch the baton to my left hand and strike him across the back. He stumbles forward and I bring my foot up to push him the rest of the way down to the ground.

I turn back to my main threat, just in time to see two other peacekeepers running up behind him and tackling him to the ground. With him out of the fight, I turn to the man I've just downed and handcuff him as well.

The fight quickly winds down after that and the men are dragged into town. The crowd quickly disperses, afraid of loitering.

I sit down tired and rub my smarting head. Purina stands next to me. "Should wear a helmet Darius, you never know when you'll need one." I nod in agreement.

"Does this happen often?"

This is the first time I've heard of, or had to be involved in any sort of violence since coming to twelve.

Purina sighs and sits down next to me. "Nah, not often. This sort of thing hasn't happened in a long while. Occasionally a few will get drunk and we'll need to intervene, but this is quiet district, as you know."

And I do know. There haven't been any hangings or whippings since I've been here. Hell, I don't even think twelve has a whipping post.

"Are other districts like this? All the time I mean."

She looks up to the sky "Yeah, sometimes. Eight was bad, carried the baton in my hand all the time. Six was better. Though whether that was from all the drugs or not I don't know."

I raise my eyebrows at her. Drugs?

She sees my expression but waves me off. I'll get her to tell me another time then.

"You should get your head looked at." She says changing the subject.

I reach further behind my head and my hand comes away sticky with blood.

"Yeah I probably should."

"Everdeen's?"

"Yeah."

"Want me to come with?"

I know what she's asking. She wants to know if I'll be fine on my own. No doubt the whole distinct will be on edge now, especially people in the seam. She wants to know if I think I'll be able to handle myself if I get jumped on the way.

"Nah, I'm alright, just a scratch. Besides," I smirk "if someone was to jump me it wouldn't be for that reason." I wiggle my eyebrows suggestively and she scoffs.

"I see you didn't get hit that hard then. Come back to the office then you're done. You might need to write a report depending on what Cray is planning on doing with them."

I groan at the thought of extra paperwork.

"Good job I came in last minute eh?" She say a winks as she walks away.

With nothing else to do I set off towards the Everdeen home, hoping I won't need too many stitches in my head.

/

"Hey katniss." I say, as I see her walking with her game bag towards me.

I'm on my rounds, patrolling near the crumbling remains of a shack on far East edge of the seam. It's not on the usual route, but with the earlier scuffle today, Cray wanted to show an increased peace force to deter anyone from making a fuss. Not that it matters like, because at this time of night, the seam is already deserted. Katniss is the only person I've come across in the last couple of hours.

Katniss carries on as if she hasn't heard me.

"Hey, Katniss!" I shout jogging up to meet her.

She turns her head away from me and walks on the opposite direction. Now I know she's ignoring me.

I grab her wrist and pull her around to face me. "Hey, what's wrong?"

"What's wrong?" She asks incredulously. "How can you add me what wrong after what's happened. I thought it would be obvious what's wrong!"

I run my hand over the back of my head, feeling the stitches her mother put in there earlier.

"Yeah, you heard about that then?"

"Heard about it, I was there Darius! I saw you hit that man!"

"Hey now, he started it." I say defensive.

"He had to go to my mother to have his arm set in a cast. You broke it! He won't be able to work properly for weeks! His family will starve!"

"Well maybe he should have thought about that before he got drunk and picked a fight with peacekeepers! He was asking for trouble!"

"Yeah but did you have to hit him that hard!" She shouting at me now, getting in my face.

"It wasn't exactly a one sided fight Katniss! I was just doing my job."

"Yeah your 'job'." She says sarcastically. "Sitting around the Hob all day and then hitting on poor innocent men later."

Now I'm angry. "They weren't innocent Katniss. They're lucky that Cray was lenient and they won't receive a whipping for what they've done. He could have had them hung!"

"I didn't know things were so strict in the district now. I got a whole bag of rabbits here peacekeeper Darius, you gonna give me a whipping?"

"It's my job Katniss, I can't exactly say no can I?"

"Yeah I'm sure it's just awful to Lord over people and get paid a ton of money for it. Having all that money must be so awful."

"Having money doesn't make you happier Katniss it just makes you more miserable."

"What do you know about misery, you probably never been miserable a day in your life! You don't know what it feels like to be hungry, you've never gone a day in your life without anything you wanted!"

"I bet you just revel in the violence and that's why you joined the peacekeepers. Just wanted to put people down, back in their place!"

I clench my fists.

"I don't know what you think it's like in two, but you've got it all wrong. Yeah I may never have starved, but Peacekeepers from two are just like miners from twelve, it's our district trade. We're known for producing fine jewels like emeralds and diamonds but they come out of the ground Katniss. We have to dig for them just like twelve digs for coal, down mines. Quite frankly I couldn't think of anything worse than spending all day underground and most agree so they join the peacekeepers. It's a better life. If half the miners here were offered a job in town rather than working down the mines, they would take it in an instant."

"As for misery, I know we don't spend all day fearing for our lives hacking away underground, but do you think peacekeepers have it easy? Yeah we get paid better, but we never get to see our familes again, hell I probably won't even get to go back to my district. We never get to settle down, or have a family of our own, so in the future when you're married and have a child of your own, it'll still be just be me!"

"I told you I don't want-"

"Yeah, yeah I know." I say mockingly. "You don't want to ever get married or have a kid, but you're still young. You don't know what you'll want ten, fifteen, twenty years down the line, but me they'll never be anybody for me, Darius De Tamble, family of one!"

"But that man-."

She goes to argue her point more, but I've heard enough and I'm done fighting. She hasn't listened to a word I've said.

"You know what? You don't get it at all. You're just a kid, the world is much simpler to you."

I turn on my heel and I don't look back.