Disclaimer : cfr Chapter 1

Rating : T (although it might go up in later chapters)

Chapter 3 : bonum vinum laedificat cor hominis

Amber. A small amount of liquid amber, swirling around the glass like small waves. Going up and down, up and down until the man stops playing absentmindedly with his glass and downs half of it in one go.

His mind is fuzzy and his head is beginning to feel light enough that he can go out and do his thing… the mentor thing, to appear on the telly for all of Panem to see while clownish Effie Trinket cheerfully reaps two children from his home. He has promised her to be there – in truth, she has told him to be there – and it is the only way of escaping his hellhole of a home. Well, exchanging it for another kind of hellhole is more like it. The sort with smokescreens and miroirs aux alouettes, as they used to say in one the forgotten languages of the time before Panem.

He gets up quickly – too quickly as it is, and he has to steady himself on the table.

"Well, time to go ! " he slurrs with such an amount of chirpiness it can only be ironic.

He barely checks his house before he goes out in the hot summer day, slamming the door behind him. He begins the journey between his house in Victor's Village and the Justice Hall, sweating and cursing under his breath as the combination of the heat, the effort and the alcohol he has drunk are making him quite uncomfortable. For once, he will actually be glad to reach the Hall, because it means he will be able to sit down.

He finally arrives at the Town and two Peacekeepers escort him to the stage. "Oops ! Looks like I'm late" he sniggers interiorly as he climbs up. He sees Effie Trinket in all of her Capitol glory, trying not to look entirely too annoyed with his state and… he hugs her. Or tries to, because she is embarrassed, he looks disgusting, and their actions are transmitted live throughout the whole country. She pushes him away rather abruptly, and he staggers to his seat.

As he sits down –drops himself in the armchair, really – he gazes at her again and thinks that she looks adorably flustered. Her wig is slightly askew, her nerves are obviously frazzled and he decides he likes to embarrass her. Not that he does not do that already, just not in front of so many people.

He zones out as the mayor finishes the usual introductions, and Effie calls out the first name. He is brought out of his alcoholic haze by a strong, confident, desperate cry : "I volunteer as tribute !". He turns his head sharply. It is the Everdeen girl. He has known her parents, a lifetime ago. As she climbs up the stage, a surge of District pride goes through him… He yells at Effie, at the Capitol, and more generally makes a complete ass of himself.

As he is laying in the dirt, he thinks only that he cannot wait until the train to get another glass and annoy the hell out of his escort. He chuckles, knowing she had been absolutely ready to murder him verbally or otherwise. Somehow, he is looking forward to their usual fight. He loves to irk her, to push her buttons, it is really quite fun now that he thinks about it. Then his brain shuts down completely and he is lost to the world.

TBC…