Aaaaahhhhhhhhhh! I'm so sorry! I've been so unmotivated lately, and my bio teacher just sucked out my life with her terrible teaching skills. I will try my hardest to write more, and can you all forgive me? Please?
I'd like to thank laughtw for favouriting and following.
Alenek2002: I'm glad you like it. I understand the reviewing part. I try to review, but a lot of times I just forget.
b00kw0rms: Yep, they will appear in Katniss's world eventually. And time on the Circle of Magic world passes by slower. That is right up to time with the Hunger Games world.
The Reader: thanks :) and don't worry, I'm not giving up on this story.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hunger Games or Circle of Magic. It makes me sad and I really wish I did, but short of stealing the rights I am out of luck at the moment.
Chapter 23: Nightmares and a Rose
I watched as Briar shifted around to get into a better position. It made me sick to see the marks of the Capitol still on his body: the fact that he was underweight and the damage done to his hips and legs in the time he had been there. The medics had done what she could with his shattered shins, but evidently they still hurt him. I rolled my shoulder and felt the joint pop and grind. Some injuries just never did heal fully; they sometimes left little reminders of the events that haunted you with ever bad step you took.
"So, you going to start talking kid, or do I have to drag it all out of you?" I crossed my arms and looked down at him.
"Why does the Capitol hate you all so much?"
The question startled me. It wasn't because I wasn't expecting a change in subject, because I used alcohol in the past the exact same way. To prevent thinking about all the noise in my head. But it was because of the abruptness of the matter, the analytical voice and the steady eyes that stared at me, waiting for an answer.
I thought back to when we had first brought the kids back home, the look that they had given Finnick and Katniss and I. It had been weird, like they had expectations about them already implanted in their heads, and those were warring with the discoveries that they found out about the Victors as they got to know them. They weren't acting like they were first meeting us, it was almost like they were trying to overcome or deal with already made biases. Had the torturers of the Capitol told them about us, had they warped our image to suit their perverse wishes?
"Well, I assume you have some understanding about the Hunger Games now, hmm?" I looked down.
He shrugged, "Some."
"I'll fill you in anyway. Can't have you jumping to conclusions about this place, now can we?" He gave me to weirdest look, like he knew just what I meant by that sentence. Like he knew that there was an ulterior motive there.
"So." He crossed his arms and glared at me. "Talk."
"Well, the Capitol is a dictatorship, a monster that enjoys torturing the people for their-"
"I know that!" Briar's glare froze me in place.
I didn't forget about the broken bones and the bruises that he came with. It was just placed back into the spotlight. That boy probably knew more about the Capitol's cruelty than we did.
He murmured something under his breath, and I was barely able to strain and hear it. "Kaq."
I snorted. That obviously was some sort of insult where he came from. I wondered what it meant.
"So…yeah, awfulness, the Capitol is mad of." I sighed and continued. "They made the Hunger Games to repress the people. Have children fight to the death for their amusement. Show the power that they have over us.
"We're the rebellion. Fighting back and all against our repressors. They hate us Victors…the winners of the games…because we are a symbol of the rebellion. The figures that the rebels look to fuel their, uh, fighting spirit. We're a sign that the Capitol is losing control."
Briar scrunched up his nose in thought.
The door slid open and Sandry walked out. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders like a cape and it made her seem very regal, but also very young. They were all very young, too young for this.
Sandry sat down beside Briar and leaned against his shoulder. She looked at me. "I couldn't help overhearing, and I'm wondering…what would happen if you, the Victors, were killed by the Capitol?"
I narrowed my eyes, why would she ask that? "The Capitol would win and the rebellion would die. Things would go back the way they were, maybe worse."
"You'd all be amdains to get like that, though." Briar smirked at both Sandry and I, "right?"
"Right…" I murmured. What the heck was an 'amdain'?
Sandry giggled slightly and tugged Briar to his feet. "We're going to see if we can get some sleep. Good night, Mr. Haymitch."
It was only a couple minutes after they left that I realized that Briar had never told me his nightmare.
I watched as Briar punched his pillow repeatedly with a scowl on his face. I hated this place, what it did to us. I hated how it had changed us. I missed when we were happy and actually smiling sometimes.
"Briar…" I reached out and put my hand on top of his.
I knew he would shrug it off, but I did it anyway. He needed the comfort; he couldn't be Mr. Tough Guy forever. To hold all that in wasn't healthy; to hide everything from us wasn't good.
To my surprise he didn't shy away. He stared at the hand for a few moments before putting his other hand on top of mine. We sat there for a few minutes in silence, just drinking in the comfort of the other fact that all four of us were here and that we were all unharmed.
I broke the silence reluctantly. You really should talk about it, you know. We all were there.
He winced. It wasn't nice and all, don't wanna burden you or anything.
I pressed forward. Please, Briar. Let me help.
He sighed and I knew that I had won that bit. He opened up his mind to me to show me what he had dreamed. We didn't need words, not when we were joined.
The dream materialized back in the torture chambers of the Capitol, with the hooks and flashy metal bits and the tubes of painful liquid. There were five metal tables spread out among the room and five occupants screaming in pure pain.
Niko, Lark, Frostpine, even Crane were strapped down. And Rosethorn…she was screaming and writhing on her table and tears were streaming down her cheeks. And Briar was helpless to save her. He could do nothing.
I pulled out with a gasp. That had been horrible. I looked over to Briar, and I saw the blank look on his face. It wasn't a scowl like I was used to seeing, and it wasn't anything else that he usually had on. It was a blank look, no expression. But his eyes said it all. They were shining with fear, fear of that nightmare coming true.
"It won't." I whispered, both for myself and him. It just couldn't happen.
"It could." He replied dully. "They'll come looking. And they'll end up where we did. They'll get them."
"We'll just have to find a way back first, then."
Walking always helped me clear my head. Back in District 12 I used to just hop the fence and wander forever, listening to the subtle sounds that would filter through the trees. They had their own language, in my opinion, and it was nice just imagining what they were saying.
Here in District 13 I could walk, but it wasn't the same. For one, they didn't let me outside and I certainly wasn't alone. The best that I could have was an emptied out hallway and guards stationed at a mandatory 5 feet behind me. Yeah, certainly not the same.
But I was alone…in essence. No one talked to me and I could use all the thoughts in my mind as substitute for the trees' hidden language. And those thoughts were definitely in need of getting sorted out. These walks would help me do that.
"Katniss!" The cry came from behind me, and I sighed heavily. Really? Now? Couldn't it wait until I was done?
I turned around and saw Plutarch huffing and puffing towards me. It was almost comical; his slight belly heaving for breath and his seldom-active body struggled with the strange notion of exercise.
"Yes?" I raised an eyebrow. This had better be good.
"I needed to clear something with you." He crossed his arms and started walking. I walked after him; I admit that I was a tad curious now.
"I need your permission to use one of your dresses at your house…back in District 12." He grinned brilliantly, and the white of his teeth was almost blinding. "Annie and Finnick are getting married and-"
"I'll do it," I said quickly.
Inwardly I cringed slightly. But not for the reason that someone would automatically assume. Plutarch seemed like he was winding himself up for a long argument to try to convince me, like he thought I would be opposed to it.
I wasn't. I was really happy for the two of them. To see them, it was like how the Capitol must have seen Peeta and I, and I meant that in the nicest way possible. They were just hopelessly in love, and they were so open with showing it. Giddy would be the word to describe them.
"I'm happy to," I stressed, and smiled. "When do you plan to send us over?"
"Tomorrow," he smiled, "Coin's going to approve it whether she likes it or not." He rubbed his hands together and we shared a conspirer's laughs together. And for once my head was clear of worry.
I called back my wind that I had sent after the two and opened up my mind to the others.
What do you think? I asked.
Perfect time to plant the rose.
Briar, that's not very nice. Sandry frowned mentally.
Oh? Well then, do you want me to wrap it up for her all pretty-like?
Briar, she's just being Sandry. Don't be mean, Daja sighed.
I agreed with her silently, but I knew this was taking a toll on all of us. There was only so long we could keep this charade up before one or all of us snapped. And if we snapped before we got back…we might not ever see home.
Sandry, you should go with Katniss and…Annie. You could tell us when she's returning. I shuffled on my feet a bit. And seeing the clothes would do you good.
Sandry smiled, no, she beamed at me. It was an old Sandry smile, one that mildly stunned or left the rest momentarily comatose from the radiating happiness. I could sense Briar choking on a bite of food as the blast hit him, and Daja and I just froze for a second. I think I'd like that, Tris. Thanks.
I smiled slightly back, thinking, there's still hope yet, isn't there?