A small character one-shot about Haymitch. I find him to be the most complex character-he intrigues me. I assume he intrigues you to, as you've decided to read the story. I don't own Haymitch or the Capitol and such, sadly. And I do love reviews. That's about it...Hopefully y'all enjoy!

He needed the drink. They just didn't understand. Those Capitol faces, peering out at him—he knew what they thought. Haymitch, the drunkard. The ignorant one. The one with no manners, no tact. The embarrassment of District Twelve. Like he wanted to be 'the victor'. Like he wanted to mentor kid after kid, the doe-eyed younger ones, who optimistically thought maybe they had a chance, all the way to the scared ones who knew their fate.

He saw them all. In the bottom of every bottle, in the last dregs of his malt whiskey, in every single goblet of that damned Capitol wine, their faces appeared like silent wraiths, haunting him. Torturing him.

He saw his fellow tributes the Second Quarter Quell; the sharp-eyed Careers, half-starved youngsters from the outlier districts, and Maysilee Donner, always Maysilee. He couldn't save her, should've saved her. He gulped down another glass of whiskey—always a full glass—when he thought of his own games. He was such a kid back then, Haymitch thought with half-chortled laugh, one of those cold, solemn sounds that always sound out-of-place at the Capitol banquets.

They think it's so damned funny, watching the Hunger Games on TV. Watching twenty-four children fight for their life for sport. They cheered when things grew bloody; they cried when their favorites died.

All the while living it up in their lavish lifestyles.

Sometimes, Haymitch thought, surviving the Games was worse than dying. At least in dying, there was an escape. A trip to somewhere beyond the Capitol, beyond Panem, beyond the booze. There was a hope in dying, one not found while living. But he never could die, it seemed. No matter how many glasses of wine, or bottles of whiskey, or even that old ale he could sometimes buy in the Hob—none of it was enough to let him leave.

It must be his punishment, he thought, to have to live and watch face after face transform at the Reaping, watch them all change grotesquely as they died, some brutally, all tragically. To watch the light leave them, and to know one thing:

He didn't save them.

No matter it was out of his hands once they went in that arena. That only the mercy of President Snow or the Gamemakers could save them. No, it was his fault.

All his fucking fault.

He should have gotten better sponsors, trained them better, should have fought for them.

But what good would it have done?

He was still a loser either way, Haymitch thought. How cruel of the Capitol it was, only one could return. One out of twenty-four. No matter there was eleven other districts that had to perish, but a fellow tribute as well.

For one to win, one must die.

He stopped caring somewhere along his fifth year as mentor, somewhere around his five thousandth drink. He couldn't save them anymore than he could save himself. Merchants, Seam kids—death made an equal of everyone. He couldn't pin-point the exact time he stopped trying to save them. Maybe it was after watching his first two tributes die so early. The boy foolishly headed toward the Cornucopia only to be hacked into bits by one of the Careers. The other fared only marginally better, dying somewhere along the third day—the victim of frigid temperatures and a girl from District four. At least she died quick, a spear straight through the heart.

When he closed his eyes at night, all he saw were faces. Faces of his mother, father, old girlfriend—all those who died because of the stunt he pulled at the games. Their deaths were his fault. He shouldn't have made a mockery of Capitol, because of him, he lost everything. His family, his sanity—the Capitol stole all he held dear. And someday, damn them, they would pay.

Until then though, Haymitch thought as he stumbled down the hall of his darkened mansion—a 'victor's' mansion—he would rely on his only friend; the only ally who never judged, who always knew just how to act. Sometimes that cool amber liquid left the bottle like an old pal, lingering as she slowly burned like ice down his throat to settle in his stomach before the fuzzy effects would start to take place. Other times, like a lover, hot and heady and fiery as the whiskey washed over him like the flame of passion—those days, he never could remember just how he came to be lying on the floor, half-clothed and covered in sweat and the stench of stale liquor on his breath. But most times that liquid courage acted as the enemy, fighting him at every turn. Battling against his insides like he battled in the arena—making his head pound, and the contents of his stomach to roil. And then the faces, they'd show up again, haunting and disturbing his already disturbed world while the pounding in his head grew louder, while the faces blurred as they were replaced by death scenes, sliced and diced, the fire, the ice, axes, spears, arrows, knives, the lines blurring more as they formed a macabre panorama of death.

The knife was always clutched in his hand as he woke up, more often than not covered in sweat and vomit and tears, cursing and crying and pleading that one day, someday, any day, the pain would end.

But it hasn't yet. And so he reaches for the bottle again, needing the comfort of the only friend that stays where others has left, knowing that even though his tribute year is long over, the Games will never end.