There was little to celebrate in 13. Their lives were drab, the surroundings were drab, the people were drab. Johanna had been stifling underneath the yoke of structure since landing on her back in the hospital after being rescued from the Capitol. The only, very brief, highlights of her day were the times she got to use an axe in training (she hated the guns) and the small time she spent with Finnick. A very close third, though, was antagonizing her new roommate, the unflappable Katniss Everdeen.
She had so gallantly offered to be Johanna's roommate in a move that while helpful, made Johanna feel like she was in Katniss's debt. Which was a ridiculous thought considering what she had been through to protect Katniss in the Quell. So in an effort to even out the score, Johanna took to antagonizing Katniss at almost every chance she got. So as she stood in their room now, watching the heat rise in Katniss's cheeks, she couldn't help but grin. "Some leader of the rebellion. Can't even get undressed in the same room with another girl."
Katniss scoffed and ran her fingers through her hair angrily. "Not everyone likes to strut around naked."
"It's called asserting your dominance. You should try it sometime. Sometime when you're not too busy milking this 'I'm too young and innocent and all I want is to save my boyfriend' thing." Katniss balled her fists at her side and Johanna tilted her head. "What, like I'm wrong? You've barely laid a finger down for this rebellion and everyone is busy lining up to shine your shoes. It's appalling."
"I didn't ask for this," Katniss contested hotly.
"Too bad!" Johanna yelled, tossing her skinny arms in the air. "This is your life, whether you like it or not. People are looking to you to stick it to Snow. So you can do better than feeling sorry for yourself half the damn time."
"You want to be the Mockingjay? They wouldn't have to feed you lines."
"True but no one likes me. They like you. For reasons I cannot see." Katniss scowled at Johanna who merely smirked in response. They were far removed from the arena but it felt like only yesterday she stared into Johanna's distrustful brown eyes and had only taken her on as an ally because of Finnick. She hadn't known, then, that Johanna was on her side. Though most of the time it still felt like she wasn't.
"Is that why you hate me?" she asked to Johanna's turned back.
There was a pregnant pause before Johanna responded. "Partly," Johanna admitted without turning around. Her arms folded across her chest. "Jealousy is certainly involved."
Jealousy? That was new. There was nothing about Katniss she felt anyone would be jealous of. Not particularly pretty mutt-Peeta had said. Not a leader Coin had told her. Distrustful and kind of stupid Haymitch had said. Even Finnick, her only ally outside of Gale, whose world was falling apart with Annie in the Capitol, had thought she was weak.
"Jealous of what?"
Johanna turned around exasperated, similarly to how she had whipped around in the elevator, shooting Katniss a look of disdain. "Forget it, brainless."
Going to Beetee's workshop was one of the things Katniss actually enjoyed about living in District 13. Before Peeta had been returned from the Capitol he seemed to be the only one that understood her confusion, her anger, her betrayal. Haymitch was supportive but the trust had been broken; all she had wanted was to see Peeta come back alive. He had promised. Instead she was rescued and Peeta and Johanna were captured and tortured.
The latter girl had, despite agreeing to be her roommate and them helping each other in training, been trying to get on her nerves for weeks. It was as if she had made a sport out of embarrassing Katniss or trying to piss her off. She'd talk about her torture, about Peeta's screams, about how spoiled Katniss was by the Capitol at almost every turn. She had wanted to become friends with the girl but Johanna seemed singularly determined to keep her at a distance.
So Beetee was a welcome respite from the constant nag of President Coin and Plutarch breathing down her neck. It was a safe place where she could try new bows and shoot with Gale. It was almost like home. It was time to give herself pause and get down to what she really was. Not some leader, not a Mockingjay, not a rebel; just a girl with a bow and arrow and a family to protect.
Her stamp indicated that for a few hours after breakfast, and before her dreaded Mockingjay meeting, she'd be able to spend time with Beetee in the meadow. She was excited to finally have something to look forward to. She was less excited to find that her roommate was already there when she arrived. As Katniss opened the door to the makeshift meadow he had created she was greeted to Johanna and Beetee in a somewhat heated argument. Typical.
"Johanna, I insist you give that back to me!" Beetee was rolling his wheelchair towards Johanna who was easily dodging him as she ran around with some metal contraption in her hand. She was holding it high above her head which was cruelly unnecessary since Beetee couldn't stand out of his chair to begin with.
"Or what, Wheels? You'll roll me to death?" Johanna teased with her hand still high in the air. Gale was nowhere to be seen but he was often called for actual rebellion needs while Coin knew Katniss was only important until the rebellion was over. Johanna, on the other hand, was a boon to no one. She didn't care to throw her support behind Coin and she certainly hated the Capitol. Katniss so envied Johanna's ability to simply skim along life and not worry about offending anyone. The path there - the loss of her family, her friends, the destruction of her district, the prostitution - was not enviable, of course, but the fact that she did as she pleased was something Katniss wanted.
Beetee looked at her sternly. "Johanna that is a very unstable, very dangerous piece of equipment." Even Beetee, in his infinite patience for Wiress and the slowness of others, was tiring of Johanna's abrasive attitude.
Johanna clipped the metal in her hand and raised an eyebrow. "It looks like a can opener, Volts."
"I assure you it is not a can opener. It is a highly sophisticated mechanism that should not be in the wrong hands." He looked toward Katniss, pleading in his eyes.
Katniss looked over at Johanna who merely smirked. She could see the expression in her eyes: Go ahead, brainless. Try me. Katniss sighed and took a few steps toward her. "C'mon, Johanna. Give it back to Beetee. It's not an axe, why do you want it anyway?"
Johanna shrugged. "Because he was so fucking insistent on keeping it away from me. Trying to shove it in a drawer when I got in here like he was looking at pictures of nude girls." Katniss barely hid a smirk and Beetee rolled his eyes and let out another very loud sigh. "And he won't tell me what it does."
Katniss brought her gaze to Beetee warily. "What does it do?"
He leveled his eyes at her from over the top of his glasses. "You don't want to find out. We don't even know if it works. The plan was to get some of those manufactured Capitol chimps in here and try it on them. There's no way it can be tried on humans yet."
Johanna grinned at Katniss. "See? Doesn't that sound interesting?" Katniss went forward to try and take the contraption from Johanna who wrenched it out of her grip. "Oh come on, Mockingjay." The way Johanna used that term, derisively, spitting it out like it was some kind of wretched curse word, irked Katniss more than it should. Most things about Johanna irked her more than they should.
And for Johanna, it was always a joy to get a rise out of Katniss. This pampered girl with no idea of what the real world entailed who wore the burden of rebellion like a funeral shroud, Johanna loved getting under her skin. "Just put it down," Katniss said in a low growl, causing Johanna to pause in her dance to get away and raise her eyebrow.
"Oh really? Or what? Or you'll shoot me with your bow and arrow? Tell Coin on me? Tell your mutt boyfriend to attack me?" Johanna knew she was getting Katniss's blood to boil as her usual stoic appearance showed signs of twitching anger. "Or tell your not-crazy boyfriend-cousin and get my lack of privileges taken away? Or maybe you'll just do it yourself?"
Katniss lunged forward and grabbed Johanna's wrist that held the contraption. Johanna looked momentarily impressed before getting angry again. Beetee's shout of "no!" was unheard as the two women grappled for control of the metal piece in her hand. After a struggle ensued for a few moments their hands seemed to clasp together like a magnet.
Johanna's eyes widened in concern as neither of them could get free. The contraption buzzed and pulsed between them, sending vibrations through their bones. A very small glowing blue light emitted from the steel between them before it shot outward and they were propelled a few feet on to their backs.
Beetee rolled over to Katniss and peered down at her as she coughed. He went to placed his hand on her bicep to help her up and she wrenched away from him. "Don't fucking touch me." Beetee's eyes went wide as Katniss's eyes also enlarged about twice their size. She looked down at her body, then back up at Beetee. She scrambled back a few feet and hit a wall, using it to raise herself back on her feet. "Oh. Shit."
On the other side of the room Beetee watched as Johanna got to her feet and wobbled unsteadily for a moment. Her mouth dropped open as she stared at Katniss. "What did you do?"
"Me?" Katniss shrieked. "You came at me!"
Beetee looked between them both and suddenly there was clarity in his eyes. And, because of his love of science, a hint of pride. "It worked."
Katniss, or rather Johanna, shot him an angry look. It was interesting to see Johanna's anger in Katniss's gray eyes. "What worked? Volts I swear to fuck..."
Beetee rolled his wheelchair over to the control panel and smacked a few buttons around. Soon a diagram of the steel piece they had used came up. Both girls approached the screen awkwardly, giving each other glances out of the corner of their eyes. He looked between them. "Well, it was ...an experimental device. You see, there's this theory that your soul, shall we say, is a physical thing. It's a tangible part of you, like your immune system or nervous system. There are ancient scriptures dating back thousands of years that talk of the soul as a physical part of the being. It exists on a quantum level. At least, in theory it does. And as evidenced by what I assume is a radical shift in personalities, the theory holds water."
"In fucking English, Volts, or I will make you a quadriplegic." Beetee watched as Katniss, in Johanna's body, looked horrified at the words coming out of her mouth.
Beetee took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "Essentially? You've switched bodies. Johanna," he looked at Katniss's body, "you are now in charge of Katniss's body. You look like her, sound like her. To everyone on the outside, you are her." He looked to Katniss in Johanna's body. "And you're Johanna."
"But I'm still me," Katniss protested, hearing her voice come out high like Johanna's. "I feel like Katniss."
"Well you look like shit," Johanna replied. Katniss raised her eyebrow. Was that meant as an insult to herself? She shook her head and then paused in her movement. Her hair. Johanna had soft curls that hung around the tops of her head but didn't extend passed her ears. That would take some getting used to.
Beetee cleared his throat. "Either way, I will start immediately on fixing this but neither of you are to tell anyone." He looked at Katniss. "You must pretend to be Johanna. And more importantly," he turned his wheelchair around to face Johanna, "you must be convincing as Katniss. If President Coin were to find out her Mockingjay was now being controlled by another person... I fear for what she would do to you both."
"And to you," Johanna replied. A small smirk appeared on her features as she looked over toward Katniss. It was bizarre but, she almost didn't recognize herself. The fear and trepidation and annoyance in her own eyes looked so distinctly Katniss. It was mind-blowing. "I get to prance around Thirteen like I own the place? I get to wander in and out of training and then wonder why Coin doesn't want me to go to the Capitol?"
Katniss placed her hand on her hip and narrowed her eyes. "I get to have a bad attitude and parade around naked and cover up my loneliness with rage?" Johanna's eyes, well her eyes, squinted at her in anger. Katniss stepped forward to herself and shook her head. "You have no idea what you're getting into. You can't just do whatever you want. You are me. You are my sister's sister. My mother's daughter."
Johanna rolled her eyes. "Relax, Twelve. I'm not gonna go tell your sister about the birds and the bees. I had a family once too, you know." Katniss's angry gaze softened. "Before my loneliness was covered in rage."
Beetee coughed once more and looked between the two girls. "Johanna this will be much harder for you. Despite whatever you believe, Katniss is integral to the operations here. Her presence and input is required for almost every important event regarding this district and the rebellion itself. You won't just need to be present; you will need to make everyone believe you're Katniss."
Johanna scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Please. Like it'll be hard to sit there and act like the world is on my shoulders." Johanna moved Katniss's face into a stoic expression, eyes wide. "We have to save Peeta." Beetee rubbed his mouth to prevent a smile. A grin broke out on her features. "Did I nail it?"
Johanna smirked. "You've got me down already." Katniss begrudgingly smiled at Johanna who flashed her a brief appreciative smile in response. She looked to Beetee. "How fast can you remedy this? Because to be honest I do not want to be making googly eyes at the fucking baker for the next few weeks." She waggled her eyebrows. "The cousin on the other hand. Might have to pay him a visit."
Katniss opened her mouth to object but she was suddenly stricken with an odd feeling. As she stared at herself she felt her blood pressure rise. Though it was like looking in a mirror, the internal feelings felt different. There was no comforting sense of familiarity, or even the loathsome self-deprecation. There was something weird. Something that felt like nausea? Did Johanna really hate her that much?
Johanna looked down at Katniss's arm and shrugged her shoulders. "Looks like it's lunch and then some weapons training." Suddenly her eyes got very wide in a panic. "I can't shoot a fucking bow and arrow. Not like she can. York's gonna know immediately that something is up. And we both know she can't throw an axe to save her life. Literally."
Katniss looked mildly offended but overall, Johanna wasn't wrong. Their strengths were very different. Would their bodies over-ride their minds? Would her body intrinsically know how to shoot a bow? "Why don't you practice here for a second?" Beetee guided his wheelchair over to the table and picked up Katniss's bow. Katniss went toward it but Johanna intercepted and snatched it.
Katniss moved off to the side next to Beetee as Johanna began to get comfortable with the bow. She loaded an arrow and Beetee brought up a few simple targets across the room. With impressive precision Johanna began taking down the targets one by one. Beetee made the obstacles progressively harder but Johanna continued to nail each one.
Katniss watched and felt that stirring of nausea deep down in her stomach. The kind of nausea you get when you're so hungry your stomach invades itself? A hunger. She looked at Beetee as he watched Johanna shoot. "So I guess this means that our bodies are still kind of the same?" Beetee nodded. "Like, what we're feeling when we do something or see something is ...what she would actually feel."
Beetee nodded his head and looked up at Katniss, who looked rather worried. "Yes it would seem so. Are you feeling something strange?"
Katniss shook her head, again feeling strange without the curtain of hair or her braid weight her head down. "No no, not at all. Just wondering."
He looked at her over his glasses and shifted his chair so he was facing Katniss. "I know this is extremely unfortunate and I promise to fix this as soon as I can. But um, your feelings and any side effects that you may face would be extremely beneficial to me. I know I probably won't be able to rely on Johanna for help so if you could check back in every once in a while that would be greatly appreciated."
"Sure." Katniss looked down at Johanna's arm for her schedule and saw nothing. She rolled her eyes. Typical. She was sure Johanna had to be somewhere so she walked over to her and grabbed her arm. Johanna whirled around and wrenched her arm free, giving Katniss a scowl. "Look, I have to go to a meeting with Haymitch and Plutarch before lunch. I mean, well, you do. You have to...take..my person there." Johanna smirked, well, Katniss watched her own face smirk and it was remarkable how Johanna her own face looked. Eyes are the window to the soul she had heard somewhere, a long time ago. It seemed true enough as she stared into her own gray eyes she saw Johanna.
Johanna tossed the bow haphazardly on the floor and held out her forearm. "Yeah, brainless, I know. I can read." She rolled her eyes and brushed passed Katniss to make her way toward the meeting room. She had never been allowed to attend these meetings so on the inside, she was a little pumped.
She realized quickly there was no reason to be pumped. These meetings were as dry as wallpaper paste and Johanna quickly fell asleep in her chair, her boots propped up on the meeting table. "Katniss!" she heard someone whisper and she groggily opened her eyes and looked around for the Mockingjay.
Oh wait, that's me. Johanna looked over at Haymitch. "Hm?"
He leaned forward, pale blue eyes wide. "President Coin asked you a question." His look screamed 'What the hell is wrong with you?' but Johanna ignored him and turned to Coin.
"I'm sorry, what was the question?" Johanna's voice sounded low and weird. Katniss's voice, rather. She'd have to get used to that noise. And she felt taller, it was weird.
President Coin raised her eyebrow and pursed her thin lips. "I asked, Miss Everdeen, if you had any questions regarding the plan for the newest set of propos. We think Finnick Odair and Annie Cresta's wedding is the perfect opportunity."
Johanna smiled. The wedding! She had nearly forgotten in her recent quest to make Katniss miserable. How far she and Finnick had come to a point where he could safely marry Annie? It felt like only yesterday they were sharing one last glass of wine before going into the Quell, and toward their certain deaths. "I think that sounds perfect. Actually, have you guys thought about letting Brea-" Johanna cleared her throat. "Letting Peeta make the wedding cake?" Coin and Haymitch shared a surprised look and Johanna shrugged. "I mean, he's the baker, right? Maybe it would help him. Be therapeutic or some shit."
Did Katniss say shit? Probably not, Johanna thought, but oh well. She said it now. Coin nodded, a look of ..was that impressed? on her face. "I think that's a great idea. I'll have Haymitch discuss it with his doctors. You're dismissed, Miss Everdeen."
"Yeah? That was it? Wow." Haymitch shot Johanna a look but she chose to ignore him and left the room without saying goodbye to anyone. She wandered back to her compartment where Katniss was fast asleep. Or well, herself. She watched for a few moments as her own chest rose and fell and began to feel... weird. Emotions creeped inside her brain as she looked down at herself. Guilt. A surprising feeling of anticipation, like standing on a ledge. Those didn't feel like her own emotions, they felt alien.
With a shrug she went into the bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror. Staring at Katniss. She stretched her face a few times; smiling, frowning, scowling. Katniss looked much prettier when she smiled. Though with what her life had been like the last two years, it's no wonder that she didn't. Without much thought she stripped off her shirt, looking down at the tanned skin. She had always been so pale it was unsettling to see her skin so darkened.
She pulled off her pants and underwear, unclasped her bra and stood in front of the mirror, totally nude. Finally Johanna thought to herself. Katniss was such a prude. And why? Johanna moved her body to the side, looking at her stomach, her arms, her breasts. "Shit Twelve, you're kinda hot," Johanna muttered to herself approvingly. She had always found Katniss attractive but never like this. She took a look at her hair, slightly disheveled and frowned. She should probably bathe.
She turned on the faucet of the tub and let the warm water fill the white bowl. Normally being this close to water would freak her out, but Katniss's body was so calm. Katniss hadn't gone through her torture. She wondered how much of that was inside her brain, and how much of that was just her entire body's knee-jerk reaction.
Johanna settled into the tub, tensing her body as the water hit her every pore. It was a little nerve-wracking, but it wasn't as bad as it was when she was inside her own skin. That was something she wasn't looking forward to when Beetee solved this problem. For now though, as she scrubbed her skin with the soap they provided, she could enjoy a warm bath.
When she stepped out of the bathroom with the towel wrapped around underneath her arms she was immediately slapped in the face. "What the fuck?" she said as she recoiled, about to strike back when she realized she was looking at herself. But the indignant anger in her eyes was all Katniss.
"I took a bath, Everdeen, calm down." Katniss widened her eyes at hearing her own voice call herself Everdeen. "You were kinda ripe."
Johanna watched amusedly as Katniss made her face contort into offense. She wasn't sure the last time she had actually even been offended. "You..you had to do something weird! This is bizarre enough without you in there and me thinking about..."
"About what?" Johanna challenged, raising an eyebrow. "About me seeing you naked?" Johanna asked in a scandalized voice. "It's not like you have anything I don't have. And besides," Johanna said, brushing passed her, "you're pretty hot."
Katniss was momentarily stunned but then she growled in frustration and stormed out of the compartment, slamming the door behind her. Quickly Johanna changed into pajamas and sat on her bed, folding her arms under her head. So far, pretending to be the Mockingjay had been pretty easy. She didn't know what Katniss was always complaining about.
Author's note: I hope this isn't too confusing. If Johanna is speaking, it's Johanna inside Katniss. If Katniss is speaking, it's Katniss inside Johanna. Clear? This is gonna be a fun one! Let me know what you think!