Castor pressed his hands harder into his eyes, trying to stop the tears that just kept coming. He was gone. His brother was gone.
"Castor," Cressida said softly, "We're going to get him back."
"I should've stopped them," he murmured, "I'm supposed to protect him… I failed again."
"You didn't fail," Gale said, "And Cressida's right, we'll get him back. If they wanted him dead, they would have just shot him then and there, but they didn't. They took him. They want information."
"And when they realize he can't give it!" Castor snapped, "You think they'll keep him alive then?"
No one knew what to say to that.
"I'm sorry," Castor said, looking back down at his feet, "I'm sorry, I-'" He broke off, his body shaking with sobs. Cressida sat next to him and put her hand on his shoulder.
"I'm supposed to protect him," Castor said, "I promised him, when we got out of there, that he'd never go back. He'd never be trapped in the Capitol or be tortured by Peacekeepers again. And they just took him."
The flight descended into silence. There was nothing anyone could say that could help Castor right now. Pollux had been taken by the Peacekeepers and they had no clue what was being done to him right now.
Castor closed his eyes, seeing his brother's face on a loop as the Peacekeepers grabbed him and dragged him off.
"We're getting him back," he said determinedly, "I'm not losing my brother again."
Castor stared anxiously at the screen. Cressida and Messalla stood on either side of him, offering silent support. Boggs was leading a team to the Capitol to rescue Peeta, Annie, and Johanna. And Pollux if he were still alive.
Castor told them he was. Pollux was his brother, if he was dead, Cas would know.
It seemed like things were going smoothly. Katniss was distracting Snow and the team had just reported they'd found where Peeta was being held. Then it all fell apart.
Snow knew. Snow knew their people were there. It was a set up… a trap.
"Pollux," he whispered. Cressida rested her hand on his arm.
Katniss was crying, Haymitch trying to get her to calm down. Out of the corner of his eye, Castor saw Finnick fall to his knees, his expression devasted as he considered truly losing Annie. Cas felt like his legs might go out too and he reached out to grab Messalla's shoulder.
"Just breathe," Messalla murmured, "We don't know what's happened yet."
They waited, but Beetee couldn't make contact again. Eventually, Coin sent them off to their bunks with instructions to rest.
Castor sat in his and Pollux's small room. How was he supposed to rest? It seemed like he sat there for days, but in reality it was only a couple hours. When there was a knock on the door.
Cressida stuck her head in, "Cas, they're back."
He was on his feet and out the door in a shot, all but running to the hospital. Castor and Cressida entered just as Annie ran to Finnick and the couple embraced. He saw Johanna on one of the beds, her head shaved. There were soldiers and medics everywhere.
"Cas," Cressida touched his shoulder and pointed across the room.
"Pollux," he breathed, crossing the room quickly. His brother looked up, eyes welling with tears of relief as Castor reached him and wrapped his arms around him. Pollux held him tightly, trembling.
"You're okay now," Castor murmured, running his fingers through his brother's tangled hair. "I'm so sorry. I should've done more… I'm so sorry."
Pollux pulled back and shook his head.
"Not your fault," he signed, and Cas noticed he only used one hand.
Cas sighed, taking his brother's bruised and bloody face in his hands. Given the state of his clothes, he imagined the rest of his brother was just as bad.
"What did they do to you?" he asked sadly.
Pollux lowered his eyes for a moment before leaning forward again and resting his against his brother's chest.
There was a crash from one of the private rooms and medics and soldiers went wrong. The medic who stayed with them pulled the curtain shut around Pollux's bed.
"I need you to step out," she told Castor.
Pollux looked between them, panic clear in his eyes as he gripped his brother tighter.
"I'd rather stay," Castor said.
The medic looked at Pollux who nodded vigorously.
"Okay," the girl said, "We need to get your clothes off so I can properly assess your injuries. Boggs said your shoulder was dislocated, but they reset it in the field?"
Pollux nodded as Cas helped him remove his clothes. He was handed a gown, but didn't put it on right away. He would just get blood on it right now anyway.
"Can you tell me what else hurts?" the medic asked, "Besides your shoulder?"
Pollux pointed and the girl took notes of each spot: his chest, wrist, left eye, and left ear.
"Which is worst?" she asked.
Pollux held up his wrist and pointed to his ear simultaneously.
She picked up a device and began a thorough scan of his body.
"You have three cracked ribs," she said, watching the devices screen carefully. "A fracture under your left eye, and your wrist broken. Several of these wounds will also need stitches." She pointed at the obvious whip marks before moving to examine his ear.
"Any trouble hearing?" she asked.
Pollux signed to his brother.
"Somewhat," Castor translated, "He says it sounds a bit like he's underwater on that side."
She picked up her scanner again.
"Looks like there's some damage to your ear drum," she said. "I can give you some drops and so long as you avoid irritating it further it should heal just fine. Let's get you stitched up."
She pulled out the needle and Pollux looked at his brother nervously.
"You're alright, I'm here with you," Cas said, "We'll get through this, okay?"
Pollux reached his good hand and Cas gripped it tight, stepping closer so he was basically pressed against his brother's side. He rested his other hand on the back of Pollux's neck. It was meant to be a comforting gesture, but also prevented his brother from turning to look at the needle.
The medic stitched some of the wounds, applying butterfly bandages to others. She set his wrist and applied a brace so it couldn't move.
"Alright, we'll get you cleaned up now and then I can bind your ribs," she told him. "I'll get you a sling for your shoulder, we don't want you using it right now or it may not heal properly. Your eye I can't do much about, just try not to aggravate it further."
She pulled a bowl of water and cloth over.
"I can do that," Castor offered, "I know it's crazy here right now. I can get him cleaned up and then get you when we're done so you can do his ribs."
He was right, they were swamped right now. She nodded her ascent and told them she'd check on them in twenty minutes. The two brothers were left alone.
"Okay?" Castor asked, sitting on the stool the medic had just vacated.
Pollux shook his head sadly, feeling much more comfortable now it was just him and his brother.
"I know," Castor said softly, "We'll get you cleaned up and then you can rest, okay?"
"You stay?" Pollux asked.
"Yeah of course," Castor told him, "I'm not going anywhere."
Pollux sat still while Castor cleaned the blood and dirt from his body.
"Hey," Pollux signed, "You're spiraling. Not your fault."
Cas smiled sadly.
"Lux, I promised you I'd never let them hurt you again," Castor said, "I should've done more to stop them taking you."
"Then they might have taken you too," Pollux signed, "And that would have been worse."
"Rather me than you," Castor said firmly, "You went through enough there."
"I'm glad it wasn't you," Pollux signed, "I don't want you to know what it's like. Not really."
Castor leaned forward and hugged his brother, being careful of his ribs and shoulder.
"You're safe now," he said softly, "And from now, we stick together. No matter, you and me, okay?"
"Always," Pollux agreed.
Castor finished cleaning up his brother, being extra careful around the breaks and fractures he knew were there.
"How's it going?" the medic poked her head back in, "Ready?"
Both brothers nodded and she reentered, grabbing some bandages to wrap his ribs
Pollux winced periodically as she pulled it firmly around his chest and then Castor helped him put the gown on and then stepped aside as the medic slipped the sling on.
"Do you want me to do the ear drops or your brother?" she asked, holding up the drops.
Pollux pointed at Castor, and she handed them over. Castor smiled at her gratefully, appreciating that she had given him the option.
"Two drops every twelve hours," she told him, "And he needs to take these and then he can get some sleep."
She handed him a little cup of pills, checked Pollux's IV, and then left them to it again, trusting that Castor had a handle on things.
Castor handed Pollux the pills which he swallowed with a grimace. He then turned his head so his brother could administer the drops.
"Ready to sleep?" Castor asked and Pollux nodded tiredly.
Cas helped him get situated against the pillows and pulled the blanket over him.
"Stay?" Pollux signed.
"I'm here," Castor sat on the edge of the bed and gripped his brother's hand. "Get some sleep, I'll be here when you wake up."
Pollux drifted off, his grip becoming slack, but not letting go completely.
Castor looked over his shoulder and saw Cressida peeking in.
"Hey," he waved her over.
"How is he?" she asked softly, not wanting to wake him.
"Not great," Castor answered honestly, "He's scared. They hurt him pretty bad there, think it reminded him a lot of before…"
"He'll be okay," she said, sounding so sure, "He got through it before, he'll get through this. Both of you will."
"I know," Cas nodded, "I just…"
"You worry about him," she smiled, "You're brothers, it's what you do."
"What, uh, what was all that commotion? Right after we got here?" he asked.
She hesitated, "Peeta tried to kill Katniss."
"What?" he asked, shocked. "What do you mean?"
"Plutarch thinks he might have been hijacked," she explained. "They're running tests still. Boggs had to knock him out to get him off of her."
Castor shook his head in disbelief.
"Do they think… I mean, the others?" he asked, looking hesitantly at his brother. He didn't seem any different, just scared.
"Annie and Johanna aren't showing any signs, but the medics will probably want to check them all," she said.
"I'm so ready for this to be over," Castor told her, "I know why we're doing this and you know as soon as Pollux is better we'll be right back out there with you, but…"
"But you're ready for the fighting to be over and just a normal life?" she guessed.
"I'm ready for my brother to stop getting hurt," he said with a sad smile.
"We've got him back now," she said, "We've got all of them back and we're going to finish this. We're going to end this fight and have real lives. No more pain."
Castor looked at his brother's sleeping face and brushed some hair out of his eyes.
He was so ready for no more pain. He couldn't wait for this war to be over.
Thanks for reading!