Peeta closed the door to his room quietly, so as not to be heard, he was used to it, having to sneak around. But this time he wasn't sure where he was sneaking to. All he knew was that however big his room was, he felt like he was suffocating. Standing outside his bedroom door he leaned back against the hard wood thinking. The floor that was dedicated to district twelve seemed huge, but Macey had led him straight to the room, however much the idea of exploring intrigued him, the last thing he wanted to do was run into Macey. He closed his eyes breathing deeply. Peeta suddenly felt very isolated, he had no-where to go. He thoughts began spiralling, this was all that was left. Days of this and then death.
"you know there's a bed in that room behind you, if you wanted to sleep" A voice interrupted him from his thoughts. He opened his eyes shocked meeting the dark eyes of Bex smirking at him.
"Evening" She said as his eyes opened, her smirk drawing a slight smile out of Peeta.
"Evening" He replied.
"I thought Macey told you to relax?" Peeta stared at her as Bex burst into laughter.
"Ridiculous I know, fucking relax, and then in a couple of days we'll make you kill each other" Peeta laughed lightly with her. It was easy to forget that Bex and Haymitch had been through this before.
"It can feel really claustrophobic down here, but there is one benefit of being district twelve"
"What?" Peeta asked her confused. In his experience, they had already received more benefits than most district twelve tributes had. Bex smirked once more and beckoned Peeta to follow her. He thought about it for a second before following Bex further down the corridor. He had nowhere else to go. They rounded a corner where Bex stopped, turning abruptly to face a door, she opened it and gesturing for Peeta to go before her. Through the door was a set of concrete steps, nothing like the grandeur Peeta had experienced so far. The walls were stone and the stairs narrow but at the top sat a heavy black door. He saw a lock set into the handle and wondered if they were meant to come up there, but tried the handle tentatively slightly shocked as he was able to push the door open. Light burst into the narrow staircase. They were on the roof. The whole of the capital visible right back to the mountains they had passed through mere hours ago. Peeta walked slowly towards the edge of the roof leaning against the thick metal boundary feeling like he could breathe deeply for the first time since his name had been announced.
Bex caught the door as Peeta walked away, letting it shut heavily behind her as she followed Peeta to the edge of the roof. But before she was half way across somebody roughly grabbed her arm from behind. Instinctively she pulled her arm back, swinging at the man with her other arm. He managed to duck but fell to the floor in the process.
"Jesus Christ Haymitch" Bex muttered reaching an arm out to help him up, but he waved her arm away stumbling slightly in the process out standing up alone.
"What did you bring him up here for" Haymitch snapped at Bex walking back towards the wall of the building. Bex followed him, her arms crossed tightly across her chest as she took in the scene before her. There were four empty bottles on the ground, one smashed. Eyeing the mess, she scowled.
"Did you get much done, or just drink the whole time"
"Like you can judge"
"Yeah, I can. This shits important Haymitch"
"You don't think I know that? What would you have done if we were still meeting when you two came up here."
"I'm not stupid Haymitch, I saw Chaff in the stables after the parade. He was wasted. You been sitting up here ever since?"
"I told them what we needed to, what else did you want me to do? we're victors we drink"
"I know that, I know that as well as you do"
"No, you don't Bex. Two years is nothing compared to what I've done" Bex turned away from him quickly looking out to where Peeta stood still staring out across the roof, oblivious to the scene behind him.
"That was out of line" She threw back to him
"Yeah you lost people, we both did. And I know you lost more, more people. But I…" She paused, biting her lip to stop herself losing it.
"You said no, and now you drink to forget, and you've drunk to forget for the last 23 years. I had to win my games on my own because you were too drunk to notice you had a tribute with a chance, you are not doing that to them. I said no, and then I said yes, and now I drink to forget what I did an hour ago, but I'll drink less if it means she'll get through this. And I know it's hard Haymitch. It's hard because you have to remember shit from your past. You drunk then so you didn't have to deal with it, and your scared that if you stop drinking you might have to face those demons. I don't get to do that, because I have to remember. Yeah your family died and I'm sorry that happened, but at least they died for a reason. However bad the reason is, you've got it. Mine died for nothing and I get reminded of that every day I'm in the damn capital."
"Then say no" Haymitch shouted, causing Peeta to turn to look at them noticing Haymitch for the first time since they had entered the roof. Bex smiled at him, Peeta taking that as a que to turn back.
"We both know I can't do that" Bex muttered staring at Peeta to ensure that he didn't hear them again.
"We still on for tonight" She continued
"Yeah, Is Finnick coming?"
"No" Bex walked up to where Peeta was. Haymitch walked away, Bex was right, to a certain extent. But truly she was out of line. He would never be able to fully understand how hard her life now was fully, but she would never fully understand him either.
"You can't jump" Bex said as she took her position next to Peeta looking over the edge. Peeta looked at her but when she didn't look back he turned to watch the cars as he had before.
"There's this force field. Look" Bex took the hair elastic keeping her hair in its slick ponytail out and threw it hard towards the sky before them. The elastic bounced back smouldering.
"Yeah capital wouldn't want tributes throwing themselves off the roof. They get to control when you die, hell they get to control everything" Peeta looked at her again, mouth wide.
"Don't worry, they can't hear us up here. It used to be off limits, but Haymitch and Chaff broke the lock years ago, nobody ever fixed it."
"You say what you want anyway" Bex looked back at him eyes slightly wide before shrugging slightly.
"Not so much now, actions have consequences"
"What's it like being a victor?" Peeta asked quickly almost as if he would change his mind if he didn't say it in one breath. Bex hesitated unsure what to tell Peeta, if she lied she felt like he'd know. He deserved the truth just how much of the truth?
"The career victors always seem really happy, but, well you and Haymitch drink all the time, and well. Is it worth it?" Peeta continued
"You already know the answer" Bex replied
"But I need to hear it" Bex turned away before replying
"You never forget. The careers are trained to kill people, it doesn't mean as much to them. You never forget their faces and sometimes you wonder if it really is worth it. If you have a life, people to go back to then fight. But the capital will control you forever, it doesn't end when your games end."
"You're not going to convince me to try and win" Bex looked at him before reaching into her dress and pulling out a cigarette and lighter, she lit the cigarette inhaling the smoke deeply. She shook her head.
"There's no point. You love her."
"I don't have anything to go back to. I have a family but, they don't need me. Not like Cammie's need her. I'll fight for her, I'll help her as far as I can. But I'll need your help to do that."
"You know you don't need to do this right?" Peeta ignored her
"I want your help making a plan, you and Haymitch. I couldn't win anyway at least she has a chance. If you don't help me, I'll do it anyway."
"We'll help you Peeta" He nodded quickly looking out to the capital once more a weird sense of relief rushing through him.
"I'll see you at dinner?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'll umm, I'll talk to Haymitch after, we can start on a plan." Peeta nodded pushing away from the metal barrier walking back to his room. Bex stared out across the roof, her eyes not focusing. What Peeta was doing was going to help them get Cammie back. But watching somebody give up on their life so easily, was hard. Bex hadn't lied about never forgetting the faces of the people she had killed, but one thing made it easier. In a way, a strange messed up way, Bex felt that she had sort of saved those children, from living the life she was now stuck in. Bex threw her cigarette over the barrier watching it spark and bounce back to the roof.
By the time Macey had summoned Cammie for dinner, she had fallen asleep and was now groggily following the unnervingly upbeat escort into the large dinning space. The room spanned the width of the floor, a dining table was set near the back wall next to a door, instead of windows there was a large balcony where Bex and Cinna were talking. Further down the room to the door, threw which Macey and Cammie had just entered, sat a pair of large sofa's facing the wall where Peeta and Portia were watching a recap of the parade on a large projected screen. Haymitch was not in the room.
"Where is your other mentor?" Macey muttered before turning on her heel and leaving the room again. Cammie looked over at the very comfortable seeming Peeta and Portia lounging on the sofas, before she decided she would be more comfortable in the company of Bex and Cinna. People she trusted. But before she could even make it past the dining table, Macey appeared once again announcing dinner. Cammie quickly dropped into the chair she was closest to, as Peeta took the chair to her left, and Haymitch her right. Cammie turned to look at the two on the balcony watching Bex laugh into the glass she was holding as Cinna appeared back in the room looking pleased with himself. She assumed whatever he had said was the reason Bex was laughing. Bex was following him in when she tripped in the door way, knocking over a large vase of fake flowers, laughing harder than before she sat back on her knees. Brushing a few pieces of china out of her way she used her hands to push herself back up before noticing the table watching her. She stopped laughing
"Enjoy the show?" She asked, before taking the seat opposite Haymitch, and next to Cinna, who grabbed a white crisp napkin, which was previously in the shape of a duck, and wrapped Bex's hand in it, which she had cut breaking the vase. Bex however didn't seem to have noticed until she saw the red that had stained the table cloth, where she had originally placed her hand. As soon as they had all sat down several young people in white clothes walked out of the door next to the table carrying trays of food and drinks. Cammie accepted a glass of wine whilst the food was served before her. Small bowls of a yellow coloured soup were placed in front of each guest. This was the first time Cammie could instantly recognise something she had eaten before. Carrot soup, although this version looked creamier and lacked the garden peas she favoured, it was something that felt comforting. Peeta clearly also recognised the district twelve staple and started eating it as greedily as Haymitch. Bex however pushed hers slightly away as the stylists next to her stared at the food as if they had never seen anything like it.
"It's carrot soup" Bex explained
"It's orange" Cinna replied
"Carrots are orange, there a root vegetable that grow in district twelve. The first night they always give the tributes a 'meal from home' or at least the capital version of that."
When Cinna still didn't pick up his spoon Bex got annoyed.
"You eat some weird crap in the capital but you're scared of a vegetable soup?" Bex scoffed reaching across the table for a slice of bread. Cinna meanwhile began to eat the soup.
"It's raisin and nut bread" Peeta told her, Bex nodded biting into the still warm bread.
"It's not as good as you're Dads" She replied after finishing her mouthful. She threw the bread down and leaned back in the chair with her own glass of wine. Peeta nodded sadly before distracting himself in the soup once more. The next four courses continued like that. The people in white suits bringing out more food and taking away what was left. Wild green salad, fish stew, rare beef steak served with vegetables smothered in butter and fried potato. And finally, a cake, not dissimilar to the cakes Cammie had seen in Peeta's family's bakery, only this one was set on fire. Haymitch laughed at this.
"You're wrong Bex, they don't do this to give the tributes 'a meal from home' they do it to show them the food they could've had, if they weren't so damn poor." Cammie however was distracted from the laughing at the table. Something or rather someone had caught her eye. The girl lighting the cake in front of her seemed strangely familiar, something in her eyes or maybe her hair. The pale faced girl had red hair, and wide blue eyes she was definatly older than Cammie, older than Bex.
"Hey, I know you." Cammie said to the girl although it came out as more of an accusation. She quickly realised her mistake as the girl quickly shook her head and ran out of the room.
"Don't be silly Cameron" Macey chimed "How could you possibly know an Avox."
"What's an Avox?" Peeta asked. But as Haymitch began to tell Peeta how Avox's were criminals in the capital, Cammie felt an undeniable guilt rising inside her. And whilst the exact memory was left unfound Cammie knew it couldn't be good.
"Why didn't she talk?" Cammie asked quietly
"Because they have their tongues cut out" Bex replied as sadness flashed upon her face. Cammie went to respond alarmed that the capital did this but was interrupted by Macey
"That girl is a traitor, it isn't likely that you would know her. But even if you did know her, you cannot talk to an Avox unless you are giving them a direct order." But Cammie did know her, she was sure of it.
"I think, I umm, must have drunk to much of the wine" Cammie stammered out as she remembered where she knew the face of the girl from.
"Tina, Tina Walter's that's who it is. I thought I recognized her as well, they have the exact same hair." Tina Walters was actually a girl in their year at school. With very dark long brown hair and a much skinnier face. She was also happily writing the district 12 paper with her mother, not involved in any sort of criminal activity and there was no way she was missing her tongue as she was the schools gossip.
"Exactly it was the hair." Cammie agreed, happily jumping on Peeta's excuse.
After a brief silence Haymitch turned to Macey
"I hear you came up with something to boost the sponsors?" Haymitch seemed to have a certain charm when he wanted to, smiling in just the right way to make Macey happily gush about coal turning to pearls whilst Bex snorted in to her fifth glass of wine laughing. Cammie and Peeta shared a look as they suddenly realised why Bex wasn't allowed to talk to sponsors on her own.
As the slices of Cake were passed around Cammie was starting to feel very full, but having been deprived of food her whole life she took a piece anyway. Bex however didn't share this sentiment. She had allowed every course before her to grow cold and actively declined the cake when offered.
"You know if you're worried about your figure Rebecca, the Avoxe's can bring out a clear charcoal solution for you" At the sound of her full name Bex glowered.
"I don't think it's me who needs to worry about their figure McHenry"
"You bitch!" Macey screamed in return. Bex stood quickly as she almost flew to the head of the table where Macey was sitting, Cinna grabbed her just as she reached Macey who looked terrified. He pulled her by the arm to face him until her eyes focused on his, as soon as he did he lead her out of the room.
"I'm really surprised nobodies come up, I mean that is why the cameras are in here to protect the capital employees." Macey said indignantly. This time it was Haymitch who glowered at her, but he quickly turned and began to talk to Portia about style ideas for the rest of the games. Cammie couldn't find herself interested in the conversation and realising Peeta felt the same she turned to him.
"I've never heard anybody call Bex her full name, now I know why" Cammie muttered to him
"I'll make sure to avoid it" He smiled back. Cammie suddenly realised how easy it was to feel comfortable around him, the same way she did Cinna. Bex also seemed to share this feeling with Cinna, Cammie decided they must have met before.
"Tomorrow morning your training begins, you will meet myself and Bex for breakfast, where we will tell you exactly how to play it." This made Cammie smile. There were actual tactics, actual ideas, district 12 stood out for once and it was good, she had volunteered for the hunger games thinking she had no hope, but she would enter ready, and willing to fight. But as she turned her attention back to Haymitch the door opened distracting them all.
"Fucking Macey" Bex yelled as she walked down the corridor towards her room with Cinna following.
"Fucking capital" She carried on kicking the wall as she went around the corner.
"Fucking snow" Was the last as she opened the door leaving it open for Cinna to follow. Which he did watching her silently. Bex opened a draw in the cabinet next to her bed before walking to her bathroom leaving the door open and sitting on the closed toilet seat.
"Do you have to do that?" Cinna asked as he watched Bex pull out a lighter
"Fucking Cinna" she replied though quieter than before.
"Thanks" He replied sarcastically as he watched her tie a length of fabric around her arm. Looking away before anything else happened.
"You need to eat Bex" He started still looking away from the bathroom.
"Yeah, I hear drugs can take away your appetite, and your one bite of bread at dinner proves it" Cinna turned back to Bex who was now standing unsteadily by the sink trying to unwrap the napkin from her hand, he walked over to her taking her hand in his, carefully pulling the cloth away, revealing a small but jagged cut.
"Stop treating me like a child" She said, but the fight had gone from her voice, as Cinna helped her sit on the counter next to the sink so that he could wash the dried blood away from her hand.
"You are a child Bex" She sighed leaning her head back against the cool bathroom wall. Cinna carefully washed her wound although he knew she wouldn't feel any pain. Reaching into a cabinet below the sink he collected some tape and a bandage which he used to wrap the cut.
"She called me Rebecca" Bex said sitting up abruptly. "She called me a bitch"
"Fucking Macey" Cinna replied taping the bandage.
"Fucking Macey" Bex nodded jumping of the counter where Cinna caught her, as her unsteady legs buckled.
"Come on" He pulled her leading her back to the dining room.
"Haymitch is going to kill me" She groaned as Cinna smiled pushing the door open.
Haymitch turned seeing Bex and Cinna re-enter. Cinna's face was unreadable but Bex's eyes were glazed. Angrily he turned back to the two tributes.
"Go and get some sleep whilst the adults talk" Peeta went to stand but Cammie wasn't as easily moved, anything involving the hunger games, specifically her in the hunger games, she wanted to know about.
"What are you going to talk about?" She asked, folding her arms.
"adult stuff" Haymitch responded but Cammie just got annoyed.
"come-on I'm 16, Bex is only 17 and you're counting her as an adult" It was a petty argument but instead of getting angry as she had before Bex turned to Cammie.
"Yeah, but I've won the hunger games. Go to bed" Cammie opened her mouth to argue, but sensing it would be a pointless argument she let Peeta lead her out the room. Portia also took that as her que to leave, Macey stood to lead the designer out.
"Now you're standing you may as well leave too" Bex said whilst sitting back down at the table.
"I'll leave when I'm ready, thank you"
"There is actually something that I've been meaning to ask you Macey" Macey looked confused, Bex wasn't the sort of person she would usually talk to in or outside the games, and she had repeatedly belittled and annoyed her.
"I was reading earlier, and I came across something regarding you, and your father." Macey turned a little pink but covered herself.
"I'm surprised you can read Baxter" Bex's smiled, not letting herself get offended.
"If I understand correctly he was a scientist, the leading scientist in the advanced medical field, he created half of the technology we still today" Bex paused for a second, letting what she said sink in. "Initially I accepted that maybe a really intelligent father could have a less, able, daughter, but that wouldn't be right, would it Macey." Macey who had been growing redder by the second suddenly stood up and announced that she was going to bed.
"Thank you" Bex threw after her before resting her head on the table. Now that the three of them were alone Haymitch got angry.
"You let her take that stuff"
"What was I meant to do"
"Hey, I am capable of making my own decisions"
"Bad ones maybe" Haymitch threw back
"Look are we having this meeting or what" She replied
"You're a hypocrite, you yell at me for drinking during a meeting and now you do this"
"I am fully capable of being in this meeting, so are we starting" They stared at each other for a moment.
"Are you sure we can't be heard Bex?"
"Positive, we're good till morning, they barley check the bloody things"
"Good, this is the year, we have been planning this for decades and we have chosen our two most promising candidates to use."
"Yeah you messed up the year I won didn't you." Bex interrupted but Haymitch ignored her and carried on.
"This year we have a chance to change the future, make history, we can save our people."
"whoa, whoa, whoa" Bex interrupted again "Haymitch we're about to go to bed, why are you giving us a motivational speech?" Cinna looked equally as confused.
"How much wine have you drunk?"
"He's an alcoholic Cinna, at this point the quantity of wine he drinks cannot affect his sanity"
"It's strong wine" Cinna countered, slightly annoyed at Bex whose smile grew once more.
"Look Haymitch we're just catching Cinna up, and neither of us have been around long enough to have been planning this for decades, good on you though" She smirked
"I just wanted to make sure that we were on the same page" Haymitch sounded exasperated as Bex and Cinna talked like he wasn't there.
"Well right now my page is telling me to go to bed, so if we can all get on that page…" Haymitch interrupted Bex.
"The training outfits are identical?" he asked Cinna
"Yes, I was thinking, later in the training, when there are more cameras, if all 4 of you dressed in similar fashions, almost matching?" Cinna sounded hesitant as he trailed out and for good reason. Bex turned to him and answered with a very firm 'no'
"Well it can definatly be discussed" Haymitch added before Bex turned to him sadly
"You have let me down Haymitch"
"Stop being so melodramatic"
The three of them clearly knew each other well, and were good friends despite differences they carried on talking and laughing well into the night, Cinna and Haymitch continuing even as Bex fell asleep at the table. Until they heard footsteps behind them. They took this as a que to go to bed, the future they were planning was only known to a select group of people, and that wasn't going to grow anytime soon.