The Drunken Savage of District 12

He was a dirty, uncouth drunk. He was from the poorest and most savage district there was in all of Panem. He rarely cleaned, shaved or did much of anything but drink. Most every word that came out of his rank mouth was an insult or some sort of scathing remark about whatever was being talked about. He ate like a pig, spilling his food and drink all over the table, himself and others around him. He was everything she hated in a person.

He constantly made fun of her; he would imitate her accent in an overly obnoxious way and would fling bits of food at her during meals. He put on a show of being a slobbering drunk around her in public and pulled at her wigs when she wasn't looking. He would always insult whatever clothes she wore, snorting when she explained that they were the latest fashion and he never dressed up, no matter how much she begged him. He would sometimes even show up at functions in a state of near-undress or covered in various stains, already clutching a bottle of wine or spirits.

Most of the citizens of Panem thought that this was just how he was – a drunken slob – but she knew better: he did it to irritate her. Many would think this a rather egotistical thought, but it was quite true. It all started on her first day as an escort; she had been assigned to District 12 as a starting point on her new career, and had been introduced to him after a dinner with the old escort, the important members of the District, the mayor, and him. She hadn't really noticed him throughout the dinner, he'd been rather quiet – a far cry from the mentor of today – and she'd been focused on learning from her predecessor. After dinner, she'd been rather excited to meet the old victor, having rooted for him during his Hunger Games, and was almost shaking with nerves as she was guided over to him.

He vomited on her shoes.

She cried.

Her predecessor had apologized profusely for the victors' behavior and had assured her that he was normally quite withdrawn and quiet; she couldn't help holding the incident against him though – they had been her favourite one-of-a-kind shoes. The next day, she went around to his house in the Victor's Village to introduce herself properly and found him drinking tea and nursing a nasty headache. He apologized for vomiting on her and explained that he didn't usually drink, but had actually gotten into a bet with another dinner guest on who could drink the most in two minutes - he'd won the bet, but had also gotten completely and utterly smashed in the process – he also swore to himself to never drink so much ever again. She, unsatisfied with his apology, then proceeded to lecture him on the rudeness of his behavior at such an important occasion and explained to him that she'd have none of it while she was the District 12 escort.

Throughout her lecture, his eyebrow had raised in challenge; and so had started their first fight.

True to his word, though, he never did drink to such a point of drunkenness, as he could never shake the physical and emotional disgust he'd felt waking up the next morning. Each time he appeared drunk in public really was just a show; he made an effort to make life as hard as possible for her, ruining each and every chance she had at a promotion, in an attempt to break her spirit. It really had been a radical change from the withdrawn and depressed victor to the public village-drunk; her predecessor once called her to wonder as to what she'd done to him.

It was a silly vendetta that neither could let go of.

She would do whatever she could in an effort to make him change, or at least to stop publicly embarrassing her, whereas he would do whatever he could to make her red. As time passed, she grew angrier and angrier with him, and him her; people forgot the pitiful teen and saw only the laughable drunkard and his fretful escort. They were a joke; it was all a joke - a joke that usually ended with two dead children.

That was something that she'd never really thought about, or seen coming when she'd applied to become a district escort – the reality of the Hunger Games. No matter how fun or interesting or exciting they appeared on TV, it was so very different when you got to know the real people, when you did your best to help them "win", and they ultimately "lost" – lost their lives. She'd never seen it from such an up-close-and-personal perspective. That was the one thing that he never mentioned.

She cried every night after they ended.

There was always a plate of chocolate raisons outside her door when she finally opened it.

The end of the Games was the one topic never breached between the two; she couldn't even imagine what would happen were it to be acknowledged aloud.

Other than that, though, he was merciless.

It seemed to get worse as the years went on. She'd already been his escort for ten years when she decided to do something drastic. The tributes that year were young – one was twelve, and the other was thirteen – and he was playing the fool again, acting up to the Capitol's expectations. She saw the girl's eyes tear up and the boy's fist clench. With one deep breath, she stalked forward and slapped him clear across the face. His eyes widened and he stopped breathing. His cheek was already smartening into a vibrant shade of red (it almost matched her old shoes) and she waited – waited for some kind of acknowledgement of what she'd done, and what he was going to do about it.

Nothing.

The four of them just stayed there – completely still.

His eyes narrowed suddenly.

With one quick movement the bottle that had been in his hand (which she knew perfectly well was full of non-alcoholic cider) was smashing against the wall of the train and he had her backed against the table. The two tributes had scampered out of the cart – presumably back to their own rooms – and they were alone; she was alone to face his rage. She'd never seen him so angry, not even during his own Games, when his ally had been killed in front of him; this was something new, something far more terrifying, that not even he seemed to comprehend. His hands trapped hers against the table and he leaned his face down, close to hers, and whispered a very dangerous sentence:

"Just because I love you, sweetheart, doesn't mean that you can do whatever the hell you want."

He'd left after that, and gone straight to his room and didn't reappear until they arrived in the Capitol. The two tributes fared as well as could've been expected, and both died seconds after starting – the girl didn't even make it off of her platform. She didn't see him at all until the Closing Ceremony. Nothing had ever scared her quite as much as he had, and yet all she wanted was to see him again, to have him explain what he'd meant.

The more time that passed, the more she needed him - needed to see him and to understand his words. She also spent the time thinking over them, and how she felt about them; she started to wonder why she'd put up with him for more than ten years. He was always so awful to her, mocking her and her dreams, denying her each and every chance at bettering her life, he'd even wrecked every relationship she'd ever had by getting into "drunken" fights with her dates and telling them terrible lies about her.

He had to hate her, and she hated him.

But he said that he loved her… how did that change her opinion of him?

The next time she saw him was when the winning tribute came to District Twelve during the Victory Tour. He ignored her completely. At the end of the tour she saw him again during the party in the Capitol, but the drinks table, playing the fool as always. Another escort – from District 4, she believed – was flirting with her rather persistently throughout the festivities, and managed to suck most of the fun out of her evening; he was starting to get a little too "touchy-feely" when the drunk tripped onto the other escort, spilling his wine all over the others crisp, blue shirt. The escort stormed off, leaving the two alone. She couldn't hold it in, and burst out laughing, clearly surprising the secretly sober mentor; he quickly joined her though, mimicking the man's look of shock and disgust.

Laughing with him then, she realized how funny he'd always been – at least to someone "in the know" on his habits.

For the rest of the night, she had a lot of trouble trying to hold in her giggles, receiving strange looks whenever one slipped out, and blushing whenever he noticed and shot her a grin. It quickly became their little secret; of course, this secret had been theirs for over a decade already, but it was suddenly so much more to her. Their relationship had changed, drastically, and with it came something so much more relaxing and fun. It was no longer about changing each other, rather about keeping up appearances. She never thought about why they kept it up, only about the thrill of knowing that she actually knew him, and no one else did. She shared this small thing with him; it was small, but it was so huge at the same time.

He was hers.

She knew then, that she could never let him go, she could never share him with another woman.

He was completely and utterly rude and obnoxious. He probably knew everything and anything there was to know about manners, but chose to ignore them and act like a total pig. He cursed with every breath, which stank as he rarely deigned to clean himself up, and constantly insulted everyone he came into contact with. He floundered around the place, half-dressed, yelling nonsense as he played-drunk. He always made sure to keep any possible suitors away from her by explaining to them exactly how she was unappealing and always acted his worst when promotion-time rolled around so that she wouldn't be moved to a better district.

Everything he did pointed at him making her life miserable, but, now that she understood him, she understood his actions. He made her laugh. He kept her safe from womanizing men and never failed to entertain her in the process. He teased her, and she teased him back. When she was sad, he left her favourite sweets – chocolate covered raisons – for her even though they were so expensive nowadays. He made a real effort for her, and she could see it all so clearly now. Perhaps it did start out as mutual hatred, but it hadn't been for a long time; that she could easily see. At some point he had fallen in love with her, and she with him. He'd noticed early on, but it had taken her a little longer to catch on.

She was in love with the drunken savage of District 12.