Beetee Latier, 50, District Three victor

"Wiress?" I ask in a strange, lilting tone, my eyes flitting quickly around the packed room, "Have you seen any sign of our newest victor?"

Wiress takes a short break from humming the song in her head to quickly smile, shake her head, and take a tiny sip of her iced tea.

I take in my fellow mentor's appearance. She's wearing a rust-colored cashmere sweater and a flowy white floral skirt with shining white sandals adorning her feet. Yes, not the best assemble, but far better than what Finnick Odair is wearing- a simple pair of khaki shorts and brown leather sandals. His hair is reasonably tousled, indicating his stylists wanted people to think he was just come from the beach.

I glance down at my own outfit- a plain blue and white plaid top, khakis. An average outfit for me, the only difference is that my shoes are shined and I used a little cologne on my wrists. Carefully my glasses were polished with such care that you might see from an elder sibling to a younger one.

Chaff stumbles over. He's twelve or so years older than I, and back in the day when I was a vibrant, eager young victor we used to go out drinking. Haymitch Abernathy from Twelve joined not long after that, and soon Luke Ford from Five. Eventually I broke away from the group when Wiress won, liking her better than the small crew of drunkards. Ever since, it's always been a tight-knit group of those three. Nobody was stupid enough to question it.

"Enjoying the par-tay, Bee?" slurs Chaff, obviously drunk. He takes an enormous swig out of the black flask he is holding, burping obnoxiously.

"It's nice," I reply courteously, attempting a gulp out of my own glass. But the alcohol burns in my mouth, and I discreetly gag into the crook of my arm.

"Shoulda seen Johanna out there," Chaff chuckles. "Tearin' up the floor topless. Oh, she was a sight to see, Bee! Should have been there!"

"Beetee," I interject, my chest quickly puffing out in the knowledge that he chose me to tell about a topless Johanna Mason.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Chaff waves it off with a slash of his large hand through the air. "Anyways, I came here to ask ya a favorite."

"You mean favor," I say knowingly.

"Yeah… A favor…" For a second, Chaff's in his own little word, tasting the word on his lips. "Fayyy-vor. Favor. Favor."

"Chaff?" I interrupt timidly.

He jerks back to life, sloshing some of his drink onto the polished white tiles below. "RIGHT!"

Wiress, intimidated, takes a small sip of her iced tea as her lips pucker inward to her mouth, giving the impression of a line for her mouth. I avert my attention back to the large muscled man.

"Came to ask ya if you'd be all righty if a certain District Nine victor joined the drinking group." Chaff winks, and I gasp.

"You mean Roland?" I ask in a hushed tone. "You've met him? Where is he?"

Chaff throws his bottle down so suddenly that I don't have time to leap backwards. Black glass shards eject themselves into my shins and I yelp out in pain, both from actual pain and the fact that the only thought whirling around my mind was, My new pants!

Two Avoxes hurriedly rush to clean the mess up, and I carefully pluck a shard from my ankle. "You were saying?" I question, glancing back up at the large man. "Actually, I was saying something about Roland. Have you met him yet?"

"No time to talk," Chaff yelps, galloping off to the bartending table. "Gotta get another drink!"

I roll my eyes dejectedly, casting them for a second time around the room in search of Roland, Roland Sanders.

Johanna Mason, 17, District Seven victor

"So, Roland," I wiggle my eyebrows at the shrinking boy, obviously intimidating him. "Two victors side by side, meeting at a Capitol party. What are the odds?"

His mouth struggles to form words, but I cut his failing sentence off. "Anyways, now or later you're gonna run into a little… trouble with our dear president Snow."

"Yeah, Venial told me a bit about that," Roland tells me, looking very interested suddenly. "Can you sort of fill in the blanks for me?"

I smirk. Better tell him now then later. I grab my leather jacket from its place on the floor and toss it over my shoulders. This room is getting sort of chilly, even with a victor every three feet either dancing or drinking. "Follow me."

Roland's very reluctant to trail me. "W-Where are we going, exactly?"

I roll my eyes. What a cautious idiot. "How did you even win your Games?" I grumble, grabbing his sweaty palm and tugging him to a much less crowded corner of the room. Actually, the only person there is Haymitch Abernathy, and he's passed out.

"OK, let's get into the down and dirty fast," I begin, flexing my fingers freely. Roland's like a scared little rabbit, one foot behind him as in preparation to bolt. My eyebrows drop down quickly. "Roland, do you wanna hear about this or not?!"

"I do," he counters neurotically.

"Then would you-" I slam my hand down on his shoulder and push him onto a plastic chair, then cross my ankles over onto his lap, therefore making him even more uncomfortable. "SIT DOWN like a good little boy?!"

"This is freaky," the newfound victor murmurs to himself, looking at my feet as if they're weapons.

"You asked me to tell you," I say simply, flipping a lock of black and red hair over my shoulder. "And so I'm going to spill…"

About half an hour later, Roland's jaw is dropped to the floor and his eyes goggle me suspiciously. "But… that… that's unfair."

"That's his law," I say, enjoying the terrified look on his face.

"And you had to go through this?"

A certain darkness washes over my mind. I turn away, facing the unconscious Haymitch, making sure my feet stay on his thighs. "No."

"How'd you stop him, then?"

I really don't want to relive the terrors that haunt my dreams each night, but there's a certain hunger in his voice that makes it impossible to tell him this. "Well… Snow's hitmen killed my family. Mom. Dad. Henry, my little brother. He was only fourteen. And even our dog, Patches. I watched them slit her throat, but they had to do it a couple times because the skin sagged so much. She was a basset hound." Bitterness creeps into my flat tone. I swallow hard a couple times, digging my nail into my exposed thigh just under my black shorts.

Roland starts to mutter his sympathies to me, but they fall on deaf ears. I've heard this all before, from Finnick and a few others I confided in. Finnick's tale of woe stills goes on. He's living in the hell that Snow created, a place where the cold fingers of crime scrabble furiously at him. Every now and then I find him in a breakdown, his muscular body heaving and salty tears rolling down his cheeks. His family is dead because, like me, he refused at first. Once his mother was dead he accepted quickly, but word didn't travel fast enough and the rest of his relatives, every single aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent, were murdered in their homes.

"Poor Finnick."

I look up with a start to find my lips moving. I've just conveyed this all to somebody who I barely know. He hasn't even moved my feet from his lap, not through the whole thing. Sweet boy.

"Yeah" is all I can utter, quickly springing up. "Well, I'm off to grab some brandy. Bye."

Roland looks sad to see me go- or perhaps it's just the aftermath of the story I've just told him. Either one.

Lyme Castor, 45, District Two victor

This place is for the crazy and insane, I'm positive. There was some young victor, Johanna, I think her name is, dancing topless on the floor. Almost all the males were hooting and calling out to her. Me? I rolled my eyes and took a nibble of an apple. Healthy things, apples. Full of vitamin A or something like that.

See, I've been forgotten. I'm old. It's relative in these Games. There have been six victors from Two since I've won. Brutus was one, winning the Games right after mine at eighteen. Enobaria came ten or so years later. That caused a positive stir in the Capitol. Dentures with fangs became all the rage. Tattoos of canines were imprinted onto skin. Brutus? His claim to fame was his token, a simple silver coin. Necklaces with those as a charm became wildly popular.

And me, simple Lyme? I had nothing. I killed simply with bows and arrows and the occasional throwing knife, didn't even have a token. Just another sixteen-year-old tribute with a determination to win, the one to beat. A couple tattoos of bows and arrows and a sudden spike in archery courses were all I received. Roland would probably become popular in hay-scented room spray or something equally as embarrassing as that.

But this, I think as I scan the room angrily, is insane. A "collection" of the victors to celebrate just another victory. What a waste of my time. I'd much rather be at home with my two sons, celebrating the eldest's twenty-fourth birthday. His name is Liam, not like anybody cares. Once he's out of the Reapings, he's become old news. Charlemagne still has a couple years left of glory for him at just sixteen. It worries me, though, how he could still be Reaped, but with the mad chase to volunteer in Two, it really shouldn't. But this year when Justice got Reaped, there were absolutely no boys running up to the stage in a fit of panic.

I see Roland sitting in a corner by himself and I abruptly plop down on a chair across from him, clutching my champagne goblet tightly.

"What do you want?" he asks crossly.

I raise my eyebrows. "I didn't expect our newest victor who seemed so happy to win to give me so much attitude."

He sighs. "Pardon me, but I don't exactly know who you are."

"Understandable," I reply, drumming my fingers on my thigh. "I won many years before you were born and was never asked back to mentor."

"Why not?" Nosy, nosy.

"I was too rebellic for the Capitol's tastes. Loathed the people there, even though I was from District Two. They thought I'd become one of their petty little slaves. Luckily, I was going through a rather awkward phase at that time so I didn't have to be tortured like many other victors were. You know about that, correct?"

Roland exhales, nodding slowly. "What do you mean by rebellic?"

"In my victory interview, I sort of bad-mouthed them. Not excessively, just a couple minutes of preaching how the Games will change many lives in the districts and they're not even going to do anything about it. Idiots." I tuck a lock of raven-colored hair behind my small ear. "Now I'm 45 with nothing to do at all. I can't spark a rebellion because I have two sons. But if anything like that ever happened…" My eyes flash, I can feel it. "I'd jump into action."

Roland smiles admirably. "That's awesome."

I bat my eyelashes playfully before remembering I'm not the young soul I was a while ago. Sighing, I gulp down a bit of the champagne.

"So how's the victor's life treating you so far, Roland?"

He looks down sheepishly at his black button-up shirt. "I've only met Venial, and she was just my mentor. I have sort of become an introvert in the Village."


"But I don't want to be an introvert," Roland decides, looking conflicted. "I want to meet Cancer, Russel, and Olivander."

I smirk, gesturing with a flourish to the rest of the room. "Take your pick. Venial's fussing over Cancer near the red sofa, Ollie's chatting it up with Gingham from Six over there, and Russel's ordering yet another beer."

With a sort of steely yet determined grin, Roland bids me farewell and goes over to Venial and Cancer.

A/N: ONE more chapter. I really can't believe it.

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