Hey guys! Here we have Squirrel-Punter6829 with Palomina Clearwater and Jorge Delgado!

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District Ten – Palomina Clearwater and Jorge Delgado

Reaping Day. Glorious, glorious Reaping Day.

Oh, how I crack myself up.

Because crippling poverty and oppression just wasn't a good enough way to keep us District's from growing a backbone and attempting yet another uprising, we also have The Hunger Games to look forward to. Once a year, us children gather together in the town square outside the Justice Building, have our blood taken, are roped into pens like the cattle we raise, but never get to enjoy, and wait to see if we are safe for another year, or taken away to die for the enjoyment of the Capitol. Those whom are lucky enough to make it through the Reaping years, like my father, then get the luxury of having to watch as their own children go through it as well. It's a never-ending cycle of awful that we must endure because the adults in Panem attempted to take control of our glorious nation and failed to do so.

Thanks, old people!

Outside, the first streaks of light was beginning to break through the dark, like hot knives cutting through butter. Just a few hours until my fate is known. With just six entries in the giant fishbowl, I know my chances are slim, but that doesn't always mean I am safe. Just last year, the twelve year old daughter of the mayor was chosen and the poor dear barely made it past the Bloodbath. One entry was all it took for her to come back to District Ten in nothing more than a pine box. I knew the girl, Helena. A good kid, honor student, never the type that would even hurt a fly. She could have been anything, but I don't think that meant worm food.

"Mina! Breakfast!"

Usually, breakfast was a big production. My father burns the grits, I complain and add a ton of sugar, and by the end we are having a battle of the minds before he heads off to his job as a cattle rancher and I drag myself to school. Same thing, every single day, and I actually look forward to it. Clint Clearwater is my hero and any time spent in his presence is a gift I love receiving. But on Reaping Day, our breakfast comes in silence and the air around us is thick with tension. Another reason why I hate this day; it makes my daddy nervous.

Downstairs, an extra figure sat at my table, his body trembling like the willows in our backyard. Jorge Delgado, the newest orphan Lexington farm took in to work in their fields. My father took a shining to him, as the poor timid creature looked like he was abused back in the home. His body is frail and small, he's even smaller than I am, and his dark, shaggy hair covers his sad, gray eyes. For the most part, I consider him a friend, or at least the sidekick to my marvelous misadventures. Overall, he's a nice guy to have around, since he doesn't talk your ear off and does whatever you tell him to do.

"My name...it's in the bowl forty-seven times."

Whoa. And I thought I had it bad.

"How did you manage that one? You're only twelve!"

He sighed, not looking up from the table.

The...the home makes us take out tessera for each kid in their. Forty-six other kids stay there...and once for my age." Tears streamed down his face. "I...I'm gonna get pick, Mina. I just know it."

I looked up at my dad, who looked as though he might cry as well, and turned my attention to my friend. "Cheer up, Jorgie boy. Those older boys that pick on you in the home...they have to be in there a lot more times than you do. I bet that Silas kid gets picked." He stopped sobbing and wiped his nose on his sleeve. "Yeah, and he'll get a 'One' as his training score and he'll meet his end on the pointy side of a Career's sword."

With that, he perked up, and started eating his bowl of grits in silence. My father smiled and nodded, a silent thank you for calming down Jorge.

It almost felt like just another day in my life; like any moment now, my daddy would kiss me goodbye and head off with Jorge to the ranch, leaving me to get myself together for school. With the exception of Jorge, it has always been just the two of us. Laurel, my mother (and I use that term very loosely), walked out on us when I was just eight months old and I have no memory of her, not that I'd care to have any. My dad raised me out on the ranches that he managed, taught me how to help a cow give birth, how to herd, and anything else I would need to survive in this District. He was the one that chased the darkness away when I was little, he's the one that sings to me when I can't sleep, and tucks me in every night. My daddy is all I need in this world and he protects me from all the evil in this world.

Except The Hunger Games. Even he has no pull in that department.

"Do you mind taking Jorge down to the Justice Building a little early? This way he gets a feel as to how everything goes each year?"

I nodded and put my arm around Jorge, pulling him closer to me. "Sure. We'll get into our little piggy pens before anyone else."

"Th-tha-thanks, Mina."

"Nothing to it. Just let me go get ready."

Within the hour, we were ready to walk out the door. The trip to the Justice Building it a long one, nearly an hour's walk from my front door and an even longer one with Jorge, who had a bad leg. My father once suggested that I wear a dress for Reaping Day, but that was a laughable suggestion. I'd rather wrassle a mad bull than slide into a girlie dress. Instead, I went into town wearing my nicest pair of slacks, a button-down purple flannel shirt, and what my dad calls my **-kicker hat, a tan cowboy hat that once belonged to my granddaddy, Tex Clearwater. It was given to me after he met his end when I was seven years old and I haven't been without it since. Poor Jorge; the home barely has money for food, so his clothes make their way down from kid to kid and he was stuck in brown slacks held up by old suspenders and a holey white shirt. His shoes didn't even fit him, which made his bad leg that much worse. All together, we were a right pair.

Worse still? Silas Calhoun and his cronies were waiting for us about a block from the square.

"Look who we've got here, boys. If it isn't little Jorgie-Porgie and his girlfriend, Palomina." His voice was slow and drawn-out, but still loud enough to command attention. "Done playin' house of the night?"

I stood between Jorge and Silas, making sure he was safe. "Stuff it, Silas, it's Reaping Day. Run along or I'll knock another few of yer teeth down yer throat."

"Scoot along, little girl, and tend to the gardens like a good house maid. Us men need to have a chat with good ol' Jorgie." He made the mistake of pushing me out of the way and getting into Jorge's face. "We all know it was you that went to Miss Lux's office and ratted us out for swiping the donation box last week."

"I...I sw-sw-swear it wasn't me, S-s-silas. Wh-wh-wh-why w-w-wou-would I-"

I stepped back in-between them again, getting into the bigger Silas's face. Or, more of his chest, since I am so small. "What's it to you if he did rat you out? That money is for all you boys, not the four of you to spend on somethin' stupid. What's going to happen when you lot need new clothes and the like? You'll be screwed."

"I thought I told you to stay out of this, girl!"

"And I thought I told you to leave Jorge alone!"

"You wanna be makin' somethin' of it?"

"It'll be my pleasure, nimrod!"

Just as we were about to go at it, I felt a hand grasp the back of my collar and pull me away. When I turned, I found District Ten's head Peacekeeper, Jessup. Great...just what I needed.

"Clearwater, if I am not mistaken, you are already in trouble for last month's dead skunk in the school house prank of yours."

I couldn't help but laugh, even as he dropped me on the ground. "Oh yeah, that was a classic."

"Get to the Reaping before I make an example of you." As I started away, he turned to Silas. "And I'll be waitin' for you AFTER the Reaping...unless I hear your name read out loud."

With that, we were left alone. Silas and his cronies ran off to lick their wounds and ponder how much trouble they are in with the Peacekeepers, leaving Jorge and I to make our way over towards the sign-in desk. Before we knew it, we were roped into our pens like good cattle and waiting for Mini Turner to get to the name-plucking business. Mini, despite his name, is a large, fat man with legs bigger than me and a belly that jiggles as he walks. One can't help but laugh as he makes his way towards the bowl. Even Cane Ter, winner of the seventeenth Hunger Games and a childhood friend of my father, laughed as he waddled over towards the bowl.

"I'd like to spice things up a bit, and pick the male tribute first." He stated, almost as if he expected us to respond to him. After a moment, he squeezed his hand into the bowl and picked out the first of two death warrants. "JORGE DELGADO!"

No. No freaking way. He's only twelve years old and can't even stand up to a punk like Silas, let alone The Careers! Tears peppered my eyes as the sea of boys around him parted, showing his quivering frame as it just sat there, unflinching. A few boys attempted to shove him forward, to get him moving towards the stage, but he refused to move. Finally, the same Peacekeeper that grabbed me and saved Silas from another beating at my hands, gripped him up from behind and drug him up onto the stage and sat him down next to Mini. The crowd, to their credit, was silent. Well, all of them except for Silas, who I could hear roaring with laughter.

"Now, for the lucky lady joining Jorge, Cane, and myself in the Capitol is..." It took a few pulls for Mini to get his hand out of the Reaping bowl, but finally he had the paper. "PALOMINA CLEARWATER!"

No one was going to volunteer for me, this I knew. It wasn't like we were a Career District and Cane was the only tribute to ever make it back home alive, so no one was going to sacrifice themselves to save my pathetic life. With one foot in front of the other, I slowly made my way next to my friend, sidekick, and fellow dead-man walking. From my spot on the stage, I could see my daddy standing tall, his face ashen and small as he tried in vain to compose himself. I was all he had left in the world, not that granddaddy passed on. What is he going to do now? He's going to be all alone in the world.

No. I can't think like that. Somehow, someway, I am going to get back home to him. Just because a thirteen year old has never won the games yet, doesn't mean I'm not going to break the mold. I'm almost a legend here in District Ten, I'm not nicknamed 'The Girl Without Fear' for nothing. I can do anything and even if I have to lower myself to the Capitol way, I'm coming back home. Nothing can stop me.

Except, maybe, twenty-three others with the same idea.

The Justice Building was bigger than I imagined, making me seem smaller than I already am. Peacekeepers pushed us down a long hallway, nearly causing poor Jorge to trip and fall over his own feet, much to their amusement. I mean, why shouldn't they be amused? They are getting rid of one of their top pranksters and her loyal and trusting sidekicks. I'd probably throw a party if I was a Peacekeeper in this place; a party only rivaled by one thrown for when Silas is slaughtered in the Bloodbath.

They tossed us each into seperate rooms, something that bothered me, since I knew no one would come see Jorge off. He's just a scared little orphan boy that no one cares about, 'cept me and Daddy. At least let him sit with me and I can keep him company, but I doubt they'd trust us in the same room together. Another thing I don't blame them for, Jorge used to help spring me from detention all the time.

First person to enter my room, much to my surprise, was Silas. He looked sheepishly at his feet and took off his hat as he stepped into the room. His ran his fingers through his greasy hair and looked up at me, his brown eyes filled with tears. I couldn't believe it...if I didn't know any better, I would have thought I was dead already.

"I...I'm sorry, Clearwater," his voice was pitchy and broken. "I don't really hate you, or nothin', I like your gruff."

My eyes grew wide. "...Thanks?"

"You've got what it takes to come back, so do what you've gotta do and kick some Career butt, ok?"

I nodded slowly, still in shock over the scene that spilled out in front of me. He nodded back and left the room, only to be quickly replaced by my father.

"DADDY!" I threw myself into his arms and for the first time since my name was called, I broke down. "I don't want to die, daddy. Don't let them take me!"

He kissed the top of my forehead and dropped do his knee, leaving him at my eye-level. "Palomina, if anyone can do this, you can. You have a spirit like no one else in all of Panem. Get allies, get sponsors. Learn what you can during training and listen to Cane. Just..." his eyes filled with tears. "...just come home to me, darlin'. Come back to be."

For the next few minutes I sat in his arms, forgetting the world around me. I felt like I was five again, frightened after a nightmare about giant ants in rollerskates or whatever I dreamt about. Only difference? This is the Hunger Games and my daddy can't save me. Except for my sidekick Jorge, I'm alone in this. All alone. And I am as good as dead.

Peacekeeper Jessup had to drag my daddy out, his face pale as he did it. He gave me a slide nod, as if to appologize for earlier today and shut the door behind him, effectively severing all ties to my former life. In a way, I must thank him...I didn't have the courage to do that myself. However, the door didn't stay shut for long. Outside, I could hear my father arguing with someone...a woman. A woman whose voice sounded more than familiar, but made my throat burn.

"Thirteen years later and you finally showed back up again? What, you want to see her one last time before she's slaughted by some meathead from District Two?" His voice was loud, threatening. Like nothing I've ever heard escape his lips before. "We've done fine without you, Laurel."

Laurel. Mother. Just what I need.

"She's my daughter too, Clint. I carried her for nine months, I gave birth to her. I-"

He cut her off. "Abandoned her at eight months for a farmhand named Fred!"

"Let me see her, Clint! Let me see my little girl!"

She stormed toward the door and yanked it open, leaving me to spill out onto the floor, thanks to me leaning on the it. Looking up, I saw what I'd look like seventeen years down the road...if I made it that long. My father always said I got my looks from her and I always hated being told that. Now I see that it is more than true; the same dark blue eyes that greet me in the bathroom mirror everyday stared down at me, and the same bounce my golden brown curls had, hers did. God, I hate myself right now.

"Palomina, darling, I can't believe you are leaving me so soon."

I stared at her, my face completely blank. "Leaving you? Leaving...you. YOU left ME, Laurel. I'm not yours to grieve for, so would you mind leaving? I have a Hunger Games to win!"

She had no chance to react when I shoved my tiny body into her almost equally tiny frame and made my way towards Jorge's door. "Come along, Jorgie. Cane's waiting for us."

With that, we were gone. Goodbye, District Ten. Remember me fondly...or face my wrath when I come home a victor.


I hope u all loved it! Please review! D11 will be up shortly!