Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games
"8,500. I have to admit that's a bit low for me but hey, what do I care." The man's voice echoed around the dark room followed shortly by the click of the door shutting. I flipped on the light, not responding until I had taken ten calming breaths before turning away from the door.
My eyes were met with the epitome of a golden boy sprawled out on the bed. Bronze hair that shone in the moonlight peeking in from the hastily pulled curtains and green eyes appraising me as I turned to face him. I stepped to the right and quickly flipped on the switch.
Light flooded into the room, dulling the green in his eyes, making them look cold and joyless. I studied him, my eyes sweeping over the ridiculous purple tuxedo he was shoved into for our dinner earlier that night. Before they could linger on his face, he moved quickly so that he was sitting up on his knees instead of sprawled out.
"So what'll it be? Anything special?" He asked sharply. I took a step back, my mouth opening but no words coming out. "Well?" He spit at me, fire burning in his eyes as he appraised me in the way I had done to him.
I shifted my body away from him and he rose off the bed quickly, angrily, moving towards roughly grabbed my hand, placing it directly on his crotch without hesitation.
"Let's go, princess." His words burned in my ear through clenched teeth. His hand was too rough on my wrist and I cried out in pain. "Don't like it rough, do you?" His hot breath fanned across my face as he leered at me, wild eyes piercing into me.
"Enough!" I yelled, my voice echoing around the room as all motion seemed to halt. I wrenched my wrist out of his grasp and pushed him back towards the bed. Confusion chased the fury in his eyes.
"This is what you paid for, remember? The victor that warms hundreds of beds is now in yours." He said bitterly, his chest rising rapidly from the adrenaline.
"What I wanted was to be kind to you." I finally spoke, my voice ringing out in the silent room. "I paid for you because my father has a gross amount of money and I felt bad for you." He stood motionless in front of me, eyes flitting back and forth seemingly struggling to process my words.
"Well, I don't need your pity." He said quietly. Anger coursed through my body.
"Well then I apologize for trying to do a nice thing. For wanting to give you one night away from those….those women." I motioned with my hand before turning towards the window that looked out over the Capitol. He made no signs that he was still there, I didn't even hear him breathe, as I looked out over the city below me. It was hard to comprehend how so beautiful of a place could yield such ugly people.
I had seen Finnick appear at the "red carpet" events, always with a new woman. I studied these women that he dated but they seemingly had nothing in common. Some were gorgeous but others were hideous, some skinny, some fat, redheads, blondes, brunettes, it didn't seem to matter. The only thing they had in common was that they were all filthy rich. Naturally, I pinned him for a gold digger. Desperate to stay relevant in the Capitol so he wouldn't have to return to that terrible, poor district which was his old home. And then the rumors started. I began to hear the whispers of the servants talking with my mother in the kitchen. How the women used him, bought him like cattle for one night, proud to be seen on the arm of Finnick Odair, the most beautiful victor the Capitol had ever seen.
The day I heard them for the first time talking about it, I was eavesdropping. My mother refused to let my father use Avoxes and he had reluctantly agreed simply to appease her so our servants were some of the few in the Capitol that could talk. I could hear my mother's servants in the kitchen that day, chatting about seemingly nothing until I heard Finnick's name. Everybody knew of the beautiful victor with the trident and I had fallen "in love" with him in a young girl's way. Our cook, Pelli, a terrible woman with too big of a need for gossip, was explaining about how some rich girl was bragging about sleeping with Finnick Odair and how good he was to her and how they were in love. My heart broke just hearing about their relationship. My mother quietly spoke up then, bringing what was happening to Finnick into light to shut Pelli up. "You cannot understand a thing that boy is going through. What the Capitol is making him do? Selling him like that?" The words swirled around my head for a moment before I was able to fully grasp the meaning behind my mother's words.
I pictured the bronze haired boy I had fallen in love with based solely on appearance being sold for the same reasons that I had cherished him. My mother found me an hour later, my head in the toilet with tears streaming down my face.
"Baby, what's wrong?" She asked stroking my hair, her concern breaking my heart. I always hated being upset around her because she had been through so much worse.
"I heard you talking. And… and what they're doing to Finnick… I just…" My mother let out a sigh then, crushing my face to her in an attempt to calm me.
"Annie, sweetie, you weren't supposed to hear that." I pushed my head against her warmth, desperate to stop thinking of Finnick Odair as if I actually knew him.
In the hotel room, Finnick cleared his throat loudly. "So what exactly was your plan for the night then? Be seen with me and then not fuck me?" I outwardly cringed at his crude word choice but composed myself before turning to face him, my expression now unreadable.
"Yes, actually." I moved quickly across the room, passing in front of him to get to the dresser. I took a deep breath and opened the door. "I bought you these clothes." I stepped back, motioning him to take a look inside while holding my breath.
"These are District 4 clothes." He deadpanned, pulling out a typical fisherman's shirt.
"I know. I figured you would want something from home." I shrugged, looking at the hotel's carpet and not at his shocked eyes. "I mean I know you have beautiful clothes now but sometimes you just miss home." I continued quickly.
"Thank you." He said it so quietly that I had to strain to hear it but once I processed it, my heart broke for him. One tiny gesture meant the world to him, I could see it in the emotion in his eyes as he stood holding clothes that reminded him of where he came from. How could this beautiful man know such little kindness?
The Hunger Games wasn't something I approved of, but I didn't necessarily disapprove either. Watching year after year, I began to struggle to find some meaning behind them. My father would sit in the corner, taking bets on the different kids and I would watch the kids on the screen.
I watched them as they slowly accepted that this was their life. I watched the cold set into their eyes when they stopped regarding each other as peers and started considering them enemies. I watched their ages. I started to see them as children, younger than I was and yet not nearly as protected or innocent. In my head, I began picking one, just one, that I hoped would live.
This tradition soon ended as I became attached to them. After each death I would watch my father manage the bids accordingly. And as he did this, I would calmly exit the room and go outside. I would stare up at the sky in the garden and I would allow myself to cry for the child that had been killed.
Finnick's year, it became impossible not to root for him. Everyone in the Capitol was watching the beautiful boy with the trident. I certainly was. And when he won, I went out into the garden and cried out of pure relief that one of the kids I picked had made it. And now I looked at him and tears welled up in my eyes as the Capitol's wrongdoings flitted through my mind. They destroyed him through the Games and they refused to leave him alone.
I cleared my throat, pulling myself out of my train of thought. "The bathroom's over there if you want to shower before bed." I pointed to the door next to the entrance.
"Trust me, I shower enough." He said turning to me, a wry smile on his face. "I am going to change in there though, wouldn't want you to see anything you shouldn't." He shot me a wink before going into the bathroom. I could feel the blush on my face from his words as I considered what exactly I wasn't supposed to be seeing.
A sigh escaped my mouth as I unwound my hair from its knot on top of my head. Brushing it out, I wasn't paying attention to where Finnick was so when he cleared his throat behind me, I jumped.
"Didn't mean to scare you." He said shooting me another smile.
"I have a question." I began.
"Could I really be this attractive? The answer is yes." He said moving into the bed. I smiled.
"No. I was going to ask about where you live." I studied him from my position in front of the mirror. Pain flitted across his face as he rearranged the pillow behind his head.
"I have a Victory House."
"I know that, but you're always in the Capitol it seems."
"If I'm in the Capitol it's to do work." He said shortly. Of course he was here to do work. Probably doing work at a different woman's house every night.
"I'm sorry- that was a stupid question." I stumbled over my words, looking down.
"Yes, it was." I turned around and met warm eyes. When they met mine, they instantly switched to confusion.
"Why are you being this kind? Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly appreciate it, I just don't understand it." I shrugged, looking down.
The truth was that my mother had won the Hunger Games when she was only sixteen years old. That was how my parents had met. At twenty years old my father became a bookie during the Games on the year that my mother was reaped. He took bets on anything you could imagine, first to die, winner, most kills, etc.
That year he was watching the Games, but more than that he was watching my mother; although, that wasn't a surprise, everyone was. She was beautiful with her gleaming blonde hair and blue eyes. A District 9 tribute down to the bone. She was glorious during the Games, escaping, plotting, and struggling not to kill.
When it came down to it, her first and only kill was her last. She had no choice at that point. My father watched her throughout the Games, sending her help when she had so much as a scratch on her arm. He pampered her from a distance, desperate to keep the beautiful girl alive for purely selfish reasons.
I wasn't around to see it, but every one of my father's friends claim that it was love at first sight. I claim that it was the need to posses at first sight. The last thing he send her was the grenade that she used to kill the final tribute. No need for her to be too violent of a killer of course; she must be kept in pristine condition for when she won and got out of the arena.
Many people in the Capitol disagreed with my father's way of intervening, saying that he used his power and money too much to his advantage, but my parents didn't listen. And when she exited the Games, she was met by my the man to whom she owed her life. Did she have any other choice but to do what he asked of her?
They were married within a month and within three months, she was pregnant with me. I never found out if my mother actually loved my father. Sometimes I would walk down the stairs in my house and find them slowly swaying in front of the fireplace, my mother's blonde hair shielding them from the world as they shared a slow kiss. But more often, I found them fighting in corners, hushed whispers cutting at each other while I snuck by to get to the kitchen for a snack.
During the Games, my mother would hide in her room in order to not have to listen to my father continuing to take bets and make money off of these children's death. She couldn't take the images of the arena, of the deaths, of the money my father made. She couldn't escape the sound of the cannon as it echoed through the house followed quickly by the sound of the phone ringing as people rushed to collect their winnings. She would come out of her room then to see the face of the child that died and she would start sobbing in the living room.
Three years ago, my mother's best friend's son was reaped. That night, she cried like no other night while my father merely glanced at her before beginning to record the bets. The day that the boy was killed, my mother walked up to me and kissed me on the forehead with dry eyes. She walked into her room and hanged herself, leaving me with my very Capitol perfected father and thoughts in my head that did not belong there.
I refused to tell this all to Finnick as he stared at me. "Just…don't judge a book by it's cover." "Oh but what a pretty cover it has." He said with a wink. I scowled at him and turned away.
"Just go to sleep. Enjoy your night off." I walked out of the room and towards the lobby of the hotel. How Finnick could joke around being treated like dirt was either a blessing or a twisted joke.
Ironically, it wasn't like he couldn't get girls if he wanted to. He was beautiful in that obvious model boy kind of way. Immediately after he won the Games, the Capitol couldn't get enough of him. He was everywhere. From magazines to interviews to parties, we couldn't escape his beauty.
One of my friends, Magenta, insisted she wanted nothing to do with him. "He's too obvious about it. How can you like something so untouched?" Her boyfriend lived in a world of sparkle and bright colors while Finnick appeared on magazine covers in his typical District 4 outfits, refusing to look to much like a Capitol product I always liked to think.
"You know," Magenta said turning to me, "You two might get along very nicely." It was at a sleepover and all the other girls turned to stare at me. I looked around at their dramatic clothes and then down at my t-shirt and sweatpants combination.
My clothes were all basic, not too bright but not too dull. A t-shirt and jeans was fine by me. My mother had encouraged her definition of normal clothing in the household. Growing up, she put me into comfortable, earth toned outfits. My father never cared too much, but the paparazzi criticized me daily for not dressing like a Capitol citizen. When I was ten, my mother sat me down with a magazine in front of me.
"Sweetheart, this is you." It was a picture of me compared to some other Capitol child, dressed in a spiked contraption. She pointed at the picture of my in my blue cotton shirt and jeans with critics comments surrounding me.
"Yes, mommy." I nodded. I knew that was me, I wasn't stupid.
"They don't like what you wear." She said it bluntly, pushing her blonde hair behind her ears. I shrugged. She was a simple dresser. Give her a white shirt and blue jeans and she would be content for days. Her blonde hair and shimmering blue eyes were all the makeup and jewelry that she felt she needed as she got ready for the day, something that I had always admired in her.
"Does that bother you?" She asked, locking eyes with me.
"No." My simple answer seemed to be all that she needed to hear as her eyes lit up and she planted a quick kiss on my forehead.
"That's mommy's little girl." She murmured. I looked up to find myself in the lobby, a couple staring at me as I stood frozen by the memory of my mother fresh in my mind.
I spotted a flash of blonde hair walk past the fountain across the lobby and I struggled to calm my heart rate. The combination of imagining my mother's face and seeing this woman with the same color blonde hair pushed me overboard. I was tempted to run after her, just to reassure myself that it wasn't, couldn't, be her but before I could think about it too much, I dashed back into the elevator.
The walk down the hallway to the hotel room I was sharing with Finnick was torturous as the numbers on the door swirled past me and I struggled to not get sucked back into memories of my mother. My hand shook as I scanned the key and I faltered as I entered into the hotel room, unable to focus on anything besides that tiny glimpse of blonde hair.
The room was pitch black and I stumbled as if I was in a black hole with no real up or down, just a spinning mass around my body as I stood in the middle struggling to gain control of my head. Before I could run in the direction that I assumed the bathroom to be, I felt strong arms envelope me and my knees buckled out beneath me.
"Hey, hey shhh." Finnick's lips moved against my hair as he supported my weight. "Calm down. Relax." He quickly swung me into his arms to move me gently to the bed, positioning me so that I was laying down.
I closed my eyes, silently begging the room to stop spinning. The only thing holding me to my sanity was the boy clutching me to his chest. Tears slowly slipped out of my eyes and onto his chest but he didn't say anything about them just continuing to hold and shush me. After what felt like hours, waves of sleep slowly overtook me and I fell into a fixed oblivion a million times calmer than my reality right now.
I woke up to green eyes staring down at me. "Hi?" I questioned, stretching my arms over my head.
"Are you alright now?" He asked, concern clouding his eyes.
"I'm fine." I pushed to sit up, noting how he scooted away from me on the bed. I didn't want to talk about my mother with Finnick. He didn't need to know that every time I saw a flash of blonde hair without any of the Capitol's fashion smeared into it that my heart sped up hopefully. As if I hadn't seen her body swinging in the air.
"Alright." He said with a shrug, looking disinterested.
"Listen, it's not that I don't trust you or whatever…" I trailed off trying to remedy the situation.
"You just don't trust me." Finnick finished for me. "I get that. I have my fair share of trust issues, believe me."
I did believe him. I often forgot that he was actually in that arena and had to kill kids or be killed himself. He turned away from me then, pushing up off of the bed and going into the bathroom. "Finnick!" I called after him. He reluctantly appeared in the doorway, leaning his body against the frame. I sat up on the bed, still curled under the warm covers of the bed. I fidgeted with the comforter, not making eye contact. I didn't say anything for a moment, before letting out a huge sigh and throwing the blanket back into my lap.
"Do you remember Aluma Higgins?" Finnick stared at me a moment, his eyes narrowing. "District 9 tribute and victor, won at sixteen years old but barely spoken about due to the involvement by Arys Cresta. He was rich, pretty much bought her out of the Games." He recited off quickly from memory. I nodded slowly.
"She was my mother." I mumbled, looking down at the comforter. The room was silent for a moment.
"She died didn't she? A few years ago?" I looked up, tears filling my eyes.
"Three years." His stone face wavered as he looked at me. "So that makes you-"
"Super rich, yes." I said cutting him off quickly.
"I was going to say Annie Cresta, the Capitol mutt." I glared at him.
"Wow, that's so much better." He shrugged, looking around the room at anywhere but me.
"It's the truth."
"I'd rather be a mutt than nothing at all." I said sharply, not thinking my words through. His head snapped to look at me.
"Nothing at all?" He said with a half crazed laugh.
"I'm Finnick Odair, winner of the 65th Hunger Games. Who are you? A spoiled princess that sits on her ass all day while her daddy collects money on children's death." Tears filled my eyes again and I blinked furiously to try to rid my eyes of them.
"I never asked for this life, Finnick. I never asked for a mother that had to hide in her room whenever I had a friend over so that she wouldn't snap around new people. I didn't ask for a father that supposedly cared so much for my mother and yet so little for the children stuck in the Arena. I didn't ask to be surrounded by people that didn't understand why I cried at each child's death or why I cringed when they were discussing who would be the next to die. I didn't ask for my life and you didn't ask for yours." He stared at me incredulously.
"Boo-hoo." He deadpanned, slamming the door to the bathroom shut.