Chapter II - Everybody Wants To Be Famous
Spring of 3189
D2M16 - Nolan Bedford
I wake up around 6:00am, my stomach churning. I'm not an idiot, I know how important today is. It's been important to me for years, since before I was even old enough to attend the reapings. But not in the 'oh man can I do it?' kind of importance, more like 'the start of my new life' kind of way. I started training when I was eight, and already knew I would grow up and become a victor. I'm sure the trainers thought so as well, even if I did get in trouble a lot. Even if I messed around with the batons when I was younger. Even if I got hurt more times than not. Okay, thinking back, maybe the trainers weren't expecting much from me. But now here I am, waking up bright and early on the morning of my fifth Reaping Day, ready to volunteer. I fold my arms behind me and smirk at the ceiling. A future victor deserves a little bit of rest.
"Nolan!" my sister, Alana screeches from across the hallway. My relaxed expression turns sour and I sit up as my bedroom door swings open, slamming into the wall.
"What?!" I scream back at her.
"Where. Is. My necklace?" she huffs, her silky black hair flying around her face.
"Why the fuck would I need a necklace?" I answer, stretching my back.
"I dunno, maybe you just like stealing things from me! Like, huh, maybe volunteering?" she says sarcastically, fixing me with eyes as harsh and brown as my own.
"Woah, hey, I didn't steal your chance of volunteering. You let that girl volunteer instead of you!" I say defensively, getting out of bed and heading to the door. She huffs, her nostrils flaring, and slams my door shut before I can get another word in. It's just like her to find anything to get mad at me for. Especially volunteering. I feel kind of bad for her, but not that bad. If she couldn't beat a girl to the stage a few years ago, it wasn't anyone's fault but hers. Ever since that year, the trainers at the Academy have more strictly enforced the 'rule' that chosen tributes are the only ones allowed to volunteer for anyone. They didn't give Alana a second chance, even though she's still of reaping age. At least I don't have to worry about that happening to me.
"Nolan, get out of bed," my father says, cracking open the door.
"What?" I say bluntly.
"Get dressed, we're leaving soon." He turns and walks down the stairs, leaving my bedroom door open. I sigh and fling myself out of bed, slamming the door closed.
"Honey, don't slam doors," I hear my mother yell from her bedroom at the end of the hall. I roll my eyes and choose to ignore her, instead pulling out wrinkled clothes from my closet. Dissatisfied with my choices, I throw open my door and storm through the hallway.
"Mom!" I shout, drawing out the word.
"What is it honey," she asks when I find her carefully drawing on eyeliner in front of her mirror.
"I need something nice to wear," I mutter.
"Why don't you try one of your dad's things?" she asks, glancing up at me and then back at the mirror.
"Kay," I say, shoving my hands in my pajama pockets and walking over to the large closet of boring grey clothes. Eventually I find an okay-looking black tuxedo and bring it back to my own room where I slip it on.
"Looking nice," I say, winking at myself in a mirror on my desk. "My name is Nolan Bedford, and I'm going to be District Two's next victor," I say, practicing what I'm going to say once I volunteer. I crack a confident grin at myself, fidgeting with my bowtie so that it's straight.
"You're pretty dressed up," someone says from behind me. I jump, turning around to see my 11 year old sister, Valda.
"It's the reapings," I say, confused.
"Uh, yeah. You're a little dressed up for the reapings."
"Well, if I'm going to be on live TV, then I want to look nice. Plus, the Capitolites will know I'm rich and they'll like me more," I add, smirking. Capitolites are easy to figure out, just like adults. For adults, you just suck up to them and for Capitolites it's nearly the same, you just act rich and entitled.
"Ohhh, right. I forgot you were volunteering," Valda says, tossing her hair. "I guess that's pretty cool," she adds.
"Uh, wha- I mean… I guess?" I stammer, feeling a little underappreciated. Valda shrugs in response. "Haven't you seen the Games? Those victors become famous for, like, eternity. It'll be like living forever."
"That's cool," Valda says, shrugging again. I sigh, exasperated, and throw my hands into the air. "Anyway. Dad wanted me to tell you and Mom to hurry up." I glance at the clock by my bed, reading 6:21am.
"Can't he chill? The reapings don't start until 7:30," I say.
Valda shrugs and makes a slightly apologetic face. "The truck broke down, we have to walk."
"I'm not gonna say I wasn't expecting that," I mutter, chewing on the inside of my mouth. Our truck's been around for ages and isn't exactly the prettiest. Not even the richest families in One could afford cars like what they have in the Capitol. The only reason we have ours is to transport the stone our district digs up.
"Same. I left you half a Poptart," Valda says, crossing her arms. I'm about to say thanks when I notice a shiny golden chain dangling around her neck.
"Valda, is that Alana's?" I ask, my brows furrowing together. "Don't worry, I won't tell."
"Uh, yeah, it is. Why?"
"Alana!" I yell. "Valda stole your necklace!" Valda's expression is priceless as she glares furiously at me. For once she's upset at something.
"Nolan!" she exclaims as Alana's stomping footsteps grow louder and louder. I flash her a sarcastically apologetic look and then saunter out the door and downstairs, letting my two sisters work it out by themselves.
"You look nice," my mom says when I get downstairs to see her and Dad sitting idly at the table.
"Is that mine?" my dad asks.
"Uh, yeah." He grumbles to himself but doesn't say anything else. I plop down next to him and wolf down what Valda left for me while my mother goes on about how proud she is.
"We didn't know you'd be so successful, Nolan. We thought it was just a phase, didn't we Thor?" she asks, patting Dad on the back. He mutters something that sounds like 'sure' but I can't be positive.
I chuckle. "Well, here I am," I say, gesturing to myself with one hand.
"And I'm just so proud of how far you've come, dear. We know you can win." She smiles warmly at me and I shrug, channeling my best Valda.
"Cool, thanks Mom," I say, picking up my plate and washing it off. Valda suddenly scurries into the room, closely followed by an angry Alana clipping her necklace behind her own neck.
"Are we all ready to go?" my Dad asks, standing up from his spot at the table. A tingle of excitement flows like a wave through my body and I grin.
"Hell yeah, let's go," I say.
The surprisingly warm morning air hugs me as I step forward in line to get my finger pricked by the Peacekeeper. He grabs my wrist roughly and takes my blood. This would have been me if I hadn't started training, I think. If I hadn't been so interested in the Games, I'd probably be training to be a Peacekeeper. For obvious reasons, I don't think I'd enjoy digging for stupid rocks as much as I'd enjoy beating the crap out of some rule-breakers. Even if I am one, myself.
"Nolan! Wait!" I hear my mother's desperate shout from the crowd of parents and family in the back of the square. I turn and make my way through everyone to get to her even though I really just want to stand in my place and wait for the Escort to call some name.
"What is it?" I ask, slightly annoyed.
"I forgot to ask if you wanted a token. I could give you my bracelet," she says, trying to untie the band of leather around her wrist. I shake my head, narrowing my eyes.
"Token's are for weaklings," I state, as if it's obvious. "What do you think people are going to think of me if I show up wearing a token?"
Mom freezes, then drops her hands. "I suppose so," she says. It looks like she's about to say something else but then Nijali Kreed strolls across the stage, her obnoxious silver shoes blinding me with every step.
"Hello, hello! Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, welcome!" she says into the mic, practically kissing it. I flash a confident smile at Mom and then dash back into the crowd after she wishes me good luck. Some stragglers are still hurrying to their spots, so I'm only a bit out of place as I jog stiffly down the aisle and into the 16 year old section. A few kids stare at me and I clear my throat uncomfortably. I'm a sucker for attention, just not the bad kind it seems like I'm getting now.
"I always love District Two," Nijali continues excitedly. "You never fail to make me proud of Panem." She smiles brightly and a few people whistle or clap. I feel the same wave of excitement course through me again. She talks more about our 'lovely district' and then shows the normal video, standing idly by and smiling. After it ends, everyone applauds loudly and she holds her hand to her chest as if she's moved.
"Now, let's get started!" she says, her voice crisp in the morning air. She puts a small unnaturally skinny hand into the glass bowl and pulls out a cream-colored slip of folded paper. "Heather Hecate," she reads happily, knowing there's going to be a volunteer.
"I volunteer!" a confident voice sounds from the 18 year old girls. Kalidia Hadron, a girl I've seen at the Academy, steps forward purposefully. She's not the chosen volunteer, but maybe there's been a change of plans, seeing as none of the trainers standing in the back seem very surprised. Her long brown hair flows behind her in a ponytail as she swiftly makes her way to the stage.
"A volunteer? Oh, how exciting!" Nijali says, gasping comically. "And what is your name?"
"Kalidia. Kalidia Hadron," she says, smirking at the crowd. I shouldn't underestimate her.
"Oh, that's such a beautiful name!" Nijali says, flashing a ditzy smile at the cameras and then floating over to the male's bowl. I tense as she takes a piece of paper off of the top. "Lucas O-"
"I volunteer as tribute!" I yell, pushing people out of the way to get the isle. Nijali looks somewhat surprised, which is unusual for her, but I ignore it.
"Aren't you a little young to be volunteering?" she asks once I reach the stage. She giggles at the crowd and most of them laugh uncomfortably. Most of them probably don't have confidence in me.
I chuckle. "I'd like to think age doesn't matter as much as skill, ma'am," I say, giving her a warm, confident smile.
"Well that's just exciting! I cannot wait to see you in the arena!" she says confidently. "Why don't you tell your district your name?"
"My name is Nolan Bedford, and I'm going to be District Two's next victor," I say to the crowd, just as I'd practiced. I run a pale hand through my black spiky hair and absorb the applause from the crowd. I glance over at Kalidia to see her frightening bright blue eyes fixed on me, her face expressionless. She flashes me a sadistically sweet smile and I suppress a shiver. Maybe I should have volunteered next year or something.
D2F18 - Kalidia Hadron
Last month Jules Monroe showed up to training with her arm in a sling, a hot pink cast matching perfectly with her just as colorful hair. She'd had to lie to the head trainer that she had slipped while taking shower. I remember the satisfying crunch of bone when I swung a sledgehammer into her perfect arm. Right now, Harmoni Toire should throwing up in her sparkling white bathroom, which would explain why I was called to the Academy so early on Reaping Day. It was just too easy to give her one of those stupid Capitol pills at the pre-Games party last night. I smile maliciously to myself, thinking of how well I've orchestrated this.
"Kalidia Hadron?" I look up from where I sit in a blue velvet chair in the waiting room of the Academy office to see a white-clad woman with pin straight dark brown hair much like mine, and piercing black eyes.
"That's me," I say, offering her an oblivious smile.
"Lilly Green wants to speak with you."
Well, yeah, obviously, I think to myself, resisting the urge to roll my eyes. I follow the woman into Ms. Green's office, where she sits behind a dark cherry wood table, her hands folded over a clipboard. I sit down silently in the large armchair on the other side of the desk.
"Ms. Hadron," Lilly Green starts, glancing quickly at the clipboard. I risk a glance and see a list of names on it, the top one being Jules Monroe, the next one being Harmoni Toire, and the third one being Kalidia Hadron. My name. Jules Monroe and Harmoni Toire have angry dark lines through them, and I smile subtly to myself. "It's come to our attention that Harmoni Toire will not be able to participate in this year's Games." She pauses to sigh and then fixes her tired grey eyes on me. "I called you here to ask if you'd be willing to take her place as District Two's female volunteer."
Wide eyes. I widen my eyes just the slightest to show shock. A small gasp. Put your hand on your chest. "Me?" I ask, feigning surprise and gratitude. "Of course! It'd be an honor." Lilly flinches but manages to plaster a painfully fake smile on her pale face.
"That's wonderful. Are you familiar with the male volunteer?" Ms. Green asks.
"Nolan? I've heard of him, but I don't think we've ever talked or anything," I answer. I can feel the other woman's harsh gaze on the back of my head and I make a point to sit up straighter, my hands folded primly in my lap.
"Hm. That doesn't matter much, I suppose. It'd be nice if you knew his fighting style well, but I'm sure you can make do." She smiles again, and I return it. I would tell her that it doesn't matter if I know him or not, that I make a note of everyone's fighting style if they pose a threat, but I want to talk to Lilly Green as little as possible.
"Is there anything else you'd like to tell me?" I ask politely. I press my hands tighter together so that my knuckles go white.
"I don't believe so. You're dismissed," she says, glancing up at the woman behind me. I stand up slowly and walk out the door of the office.
The training area of the Academy is hauntingly empty save for my older brother Samuel throwing sharp jabs at one of the several hanging punching bags. He sees me out of the corner of his eye and stops, holding the bag steady. "Ready to go, Kali?" he says. I nod, a quiet smile spreading over my face.
"So what'd she tell you?" he asks when we're out the door and briskly walking back to our house nestled in the depths of suburbia.
"Well. I'll put it this way. You won't be seeing me for a few weeks," I say, smirking at the air in front of me. Samuel turns to look at me, and his stride falters.
"Wait, what? I thought you- What about Harmoni?" I put my pointer finger to my lips, my eyes sparkling mischievously. "Damn. That's cold, Kali," he says, chuckling. "I'm going to be siblings with a victor," he breathes. "Dude, you're going to be so rich."
I let him talk the whole way back home, half paying attention, half imaging the feeling of actually killing someone. The blood is one thing, but the fear… Of course, I enjoy the thrill of the Games, like any other Career, but really all I want is that relaxed life of fame and riches. I can almost feel myself melting into a plush blue recliner, kicking my feet up, and watching those stupid Capitol shows. I'm so caught up in my daydream that I almost miss the walkway to our house.
I push open the smoothly painted red wooden door and am instantly hit with the overpowering smell of burnt pancakes. "Where have you been?" my dad asks casually when I step through the door.
"She's going to volunteer!" Samuel says from behind me, closing the door. I turn to glare at him and he offers me an oblivious goofy smile.
"Well, that's… news," Dad says, frozen above the burning pancakes.
"Oh, is that true? We're so proud of you, Kalidia, we knew you could do it!" my mom says, gliding down the hallway towards us. She wrinkles her nose when she sees my dad hovering over the stove. "What are you doing, dear?" she asks, sighing. I glance back at Samuel who shrugs and moves forward to eat one of the pancakes.
"I'm making breakfast," Dad says, waving a spatula around.
"By the smell of it, not well," Mom says, causing a frown to blossom on Dad's face. I grind my back teeth together, deciding whether to eat first or get dressed. "I left something cute for you on your bed," Mom whispers to me as she passes by, her right hand gliding over my shoulder. I don't bother to thank her, instead strolling to my room and finding a simple light blue dress lying across my sheets. I pout, putting my hands on my hips. I was expecting something more extravagant for my last and most special reapings, but I guess this will do. After all, how would Mom know that I'd be the volunteer?
I quickly peel off the black leggings and maroon hoodie I'd thrown on for my visit to the Academy and pull on the dress, struggling through the sleeves and tight waist. I pull my long brown hair back into a high ponytail, pinning the straggling hairs back with a small steel hair pin.
The second I step out my room, Samuel throws a pancake at me and I catch it easily, my reflexes having been sharpened to perfection over the years. "Ready?" he asks.
"Sure," I say, tearing a piece off the pancake and shoving it into my mouth. It tastes dry and kind of crunchy, but I don't complain. There's going to be an infinite amount of good food for me on the train to the Capitol. I can already taste it.
I hop through the front door, chewing determinedly on what's left of my pancake. Samuel keeps blabbing about how much he misses the reapings and how he's so happy I'm going to be famous. I mostly ignore him, humming in agreement every now and then to keep him satisfied.
Our suburbs are on the outskirts of the inner ring of mansions that surround District Two's main square, where the reapings are always held. It's not much of a walk, but I'm still obviously jealous of the mansion families. It's not a coincidence that most of the volunteers come from that ring. They're rich, pretty, and have powerful parents. It's not like we're poor, in fact we're considered wealthy according to those gross districts like 3 and 12. I just wish I could live that relaxed life that riches get you. Which is why I'm so determined to win the Games.
"See you later, Kali," Samuel says, putting a strong hand on my shoulder. "Can't wait to see you up there," he says, glancing at the dark stage that looms ahead of us, seemingly out of nowhere. My dad wishes me good luck and my mom nods in agreement, and then I walk away to the line of teenagers waiting to get their blood drawn.
I tap my foot impatiently, watching the numerous District Two victors get in their assigned seats. The mayor finally appears out of the double doors leading to the Justice Building, and soon after, the escort comes on stage. I realize the line has moved forward right when the Peacekeepers chirps her annoying line: "Next."
I stick my hand out, watching as she takes the blood. I pull my finger back and then follow the trail of girls filing into the different sections. I stroll to the front of the crowd, noticing Harmoni's friend group milling about in distress about their missing friend. I stare, observing them for a while. Some things have to be done to ensure I get what I want. After all, it doesn't matter what I do, it matters what I get. And I'm not afraid to hurt a few people to get what I want.
"Hello, hello!" Nijali says, her crisp voice echoing like a bird's call from the microphone. She goes on and on about how amazing our district is, and then clicks a button and the annual video plays on a bare wall of the Justice Building. "Now, let's get started," she chirps happily. I watch with anticipation as she delicately pulls a tiny piece of paper out of the small glass bowl of the District Two girls. I decide to let her at least get the full name out before volunteering, contrary to what usual Careers rudely do. "Heather Hecate!" she yells confidently into the crowd. Her eyes waver on the 18 year olds section, trying to single out the chosen volunteer. I smirk to myself, then clear my throat quietly so a few girls surrounding me turn around to look.
"I volunteer!" I shout confidently, stepping out of the crowd. Most people are quiet, not familiar with the ranks of the Academy, but some kids who I've seen train murmur to themselves and look back at the trainers to make sure this is right. I laugh a quiet, breathy laugh to myself and then purposefully walk forward, my baby blue dress swishing out behind me and my ponytail swinging with every step. Nijali says something but I don't pay attention to her until I'm bounding quickly up the stairs, my shoes hitting the steps in rhythm with my heartbeat.
"And what is your name?" she says when I reach my spot beside her. She doesn't even look at me, and I feel my smirk start to turn slightly sour, but I save it before anything slips.
"Kalidia," I say. "Kalidia Hadron."
A/N: hey guys, it's me again. it's been a p bad day :I i changed the chapter names cause i was thinking wow imma be so deep and creative and come up with my own chapter names and uh.. anyway i'm making the chapter names songs now cause that's pretty cool, ig. i also rlly like music. like more than i like people(which isn't saying much haha) and i can't even read sheet music lmao. you can find the playlist for this SYOT on my profile and i'll update the list as i update the story. whelp anyway, here's district two! thank you to Nemris for Kalidia Hadron and Foxfaceisthebest for Nolan Bedford. don't forget to tell me what you think, i really love hearing from you guys. :)
shower thought of the day: (from Mewkitcat) what if poisonous things are actually things everyone is severely allergic to?
ALSO the district nine male is still open :)