Child born of Hunger
"Anna Sparks!" Effie Trinket, this year's escort for district 11. Anna's heart stopped. "Anna? Where are you darling?"
The crowd parted allowing the cameras a full view of her. She glanced at her husband Jason, the look of terror plain on her face. He looked determined to take on the entire force of Peacekeepers. She swallowed dryly, shaking her head at him. He backed off but didn't relax.
She walked up to the stage with the cameras on her, Effie watching her with a mix of doubt in her eyes. "Hello Miss Sparks, how old are you?"
"Eighteen," she whispered.
"I see. Are you…" she looked at Anna's rounded belly.
"It's a girl." Anna's voice had strengthened, knowing her fate was sealed.
Effie hesitated, and then replied in her high voice, "Well, let's pick our male tribute shall we?" She picked a name from the bowl, calling out, "Jason Sparks!"
Seeing the horrified expression on Anna's face, the crowd started murmuring. "Come on Jason! Don't be shy!" called Effie. Jason walked up to the stage and stood beside the shaking Anna. "And how old are you Handsome?"
"Eighteen," he said impatiently.
"Well, is this your sister?"
"No. She's my wife." Tears were streaming down Anna's face, and Effie attempted to salvage the situation.
"Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, the 84th Hunger Games District 11 Tributes!" Jason and Anna were ushered inside to say goodbye to their families. After waiting a half an hour when no one showed up they were escorted to the train.
"Don't look at the cameras Anna. Just get on the train, and we'll talk later." Jason pulled her through the crowd following their escort. Once the two were on the train and the doors had shut behind them, Anna collapsed onto a chair.
"Shh, it'll be alright you'll see!" He took her in his arms, holding her close. Effie glanced at them but allowed them their privacy and Kijan and Lia, their mentors, kept their distance. Once Anna had stopped sobbing, Jason led her to her room, closing the door behind him. She collapsed on the bed, silent tears streaming down her face.
Jason held her tightly, rocking back and forth. "Anna, don't cry. It'll be alright. You'll be fine!"
"No! We're going to die, and she is going to die!"
"Anna! You're not going to die, and neither is she. I promise."
"But, but…" her shoulder shook with the effort. "There's only one Victor! If I win, you're going to die!"
"And then I won't see you anymore! I'll have to live without you!"
"No, I'll always be here, and you'll have her."
"But that's not enough!"
Jason sighed. "Anna, look at me. You have just as much a chance as anyone else. You're the most fit an athletic girl I know, even with her! Just make sure you get a low score, then show them who's boss!"
"No buts! Come on it's almost time for dinner! Dry your eyes and put on the smile of yours!"
She sniffed, composing herself. "Right, mental breakdown over. I hate being pregnant!"
"I've noticed. Come on, my fighter, food awaits!" he laughed, pulling her up and guiding her out the door.
"Hey! I'm not that helpless yet!" she swatted him aside, taking the lead. Effie was heading down the corridor towards them.
"Oh, good, I was just coming to get you! Dinner is ready." Anna winced at their escort's ridiculously high voice and bright green clothes. Her hair, thankfully, was a muted shade of dark green.
"Thank you Effie." Jason poked his wife in the back. "Move it Anna, I'm hungry!"
"Yeah yeah, come on before you pitch a fit," Anna followed Effie into the dining car. Kijan and Lia were already sitting down. They took their seats and immediately started eating.
"Well, someone's hungry!" commented Effie.
"This is District 11, we don't usually get food." Jason stuffed his mouth full of bread. Anna smirked at him and tried the soup.
"Don't eat too much," warned Kijan. "It's richer than what you're used to. You'll get sick."
"Opinion noted and ignored," muttered Anna, causing Jason to burst out laughing.
"Anna dear, I think that was a fact, not an opinion." She glared at him, deliberately putting another spoonful in her mouth.
"So what happened to the emotional wreck earlier?" asked Kijan.
"I had an emotional breakdown, and am now fine." Anna smirked. "Although I might decide to have another one after dinner."
"Interesting, Jason, is she normally like this?"
"Yup, she's my girl." Anna punched him after he stole her bread.
"Get your own Jay-jay!"
"Right," Lia's soft voice broke through their banter. "Let's talk strategy. Anna, what are your strengths?"
Anna blushed, mumbling something incoherent. "She's amazing at changing emotions, and can cry on command," Jason supplied. Anna glared at him but made no attempt to contradict him.
"That might be useful. What else?"
"I can throw stuff pretty accurately," Anna added. "And catch stuff."
"Yeah, she's incredible! When we're out in the fields, she can throw just about anything, hit an apple and make it come spinning towards her!"
"I can also climb, but not right now." She gestured to her baby bump.
"That's definitely useful." Lia frowned, "Can you handle a weapon?"
"I'm pretty decent with knives."
"That's good, Jason?"
"I can climb, and sneak around. Don't know about weapons."
"Perfect, I assume you two are going to ally?"
"Yes." Jason looked at Anna. She nodded, her expression reading, duh.
"Alright then, pre-games. What's your angle?"
"Anna's going for helpless but determined, and I'm going in as very protective, don't-you-mess-with-us."
"Interesting, that could work. Make sure you play up the couple angle, that's definitely going to get you tons of sponsors." Lia smiled, "That shouldn't be too hard to do."
"Definitely not!" Jason winked at Anna who grinned. "So how does this work? Is one of you in charge of strategy or training or something?"
"We usually work together if the tributes don't mind," said Kijan.
"Okay, that suits us just fine." Anna picked up an ice cream sundae. "This is amazing! What is it?"
"Ice cream. Why don't you take in the next car? The Reapings are just about to play."
"Okay," she picked it up and snatched a tray of cookies, shoving it at Jason. "Hold this."
They entered the media car and sat down in front of the TV. Lia grabbed the remote and turned it on. District one was big; there was no doubt about that. Two's tributes looked crazed as if they couldn't wait to get into the area. The boy from Three looked like a good ally, he was crafty, and obviously knew something about traps. Both the ones from Seven caught Jason's eye, they were dangerous, but might be willing to make an alliance. The girl from Ten, had flaming red hair, and looked for all the world like a five-year-old.
"I want her," Anna said. Jason raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment.
"Oh look, it's our turn!" Effie was just a little too excited. Anna practically shook her way onto the stage, her face shining with tears. Jason was quick to join her and held her up. On screen she looked absolutely pitiful.
"Well, I certainly don't have to work on my angle," she commented, shaking her head disgustedly. "I'm not usually like that." She glanced at the other people in the room.
"We believe you." Lia smiled at her.
Anna rolled her eyes, "I know, I was joking! Ooh! Boy from twelve, allies!"
They glanced at the screen. He was twelve and trying not to look as freaked out as he obviously was. At least he wasn't crying like she had been. But then again she had an excuse.
"Okay, Anna. How about you go to bed now. You can meet the other Tributes when we get there." Jason pulled her up and they left the room, heading back to their car.
"Poor kids," muttered Kijan. "I wonder how long they'll last."
"Kijan! Don't just shove them off, with her being pregnant, the capital is sure to love them. It's like Katniss and Peeta all over again, only more interesting!"
"Lia, how can you say that? They're just kids!"
"But that's how the capital will see it," she replied.
"Quite right!" exclaimed Effie. "Hopefully they'll get a good stylist this year. Not that the other costumes weren't fashionistic, but they should be memorable don't you think?"
"All right Effie, I'm going to bed. You still doing the sponsor stuff?" asked Kijan.
"Yes. And with what I have to work with, they'll probably have the most support. They're both beautiful, and their build could practically have been made for attention. Even in Anna's state she's still gorgeous! I can't wait to see what the stylists will do with them!"
Kijan nodded distractedly and hurried to his room. Lia stayed with Effie to plan the background details of their trip. In their room, Anna and Jason were snuggling together and trying to sleep. Anna was having no problem, being as exhausted as she was, but Jason was far from sleep, staring into the shadows.
The 85th Games, ten year anniversary of them letting two tributes go. Maybe… No. But if the capital protests… no, but- no, stop thinking about it! He puzzled over the various possibilities of surviving. A stray thought crossed his mind. What if the baby comes early?
He couldn't think of the bright side to that. She was due in three weeks, but the possibility did exist. Stop worrying and go to sleep. He settled down, relaxing his body and closing his eyes. He fell asleep, his arms around his wife and soon to be born daughter.