|So Little Time
Author: kattabear PM
Gales' thoughts and actions after the ReapingRated: Fiction K+ - English - Gale H. & Katniss E. - Words: 1,124 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 6 - Published: 08-13-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5299002
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There is so little time.
Moments ago I watched Katniss volunteer at the Reaping, and now I run as quickly as possible to the Justice Building. The events seem unbelievable. Although I always knew one of us could be drawn for the games, it never seemed realistic. Well, now it is realistic, I think harshly. All too realistic. I trip and curse under my breath. My foot throbs, and tears pool in the corners of my eyes. I start to feel sorry for myself, but I remember Katniss – wonderful Katniss who currently sits in the Justice Building waiting for the train ride to her death. I shake this thought away. Optimism, cautious optimism will rule my thoughts now. Katniss is strong and able. She can win it, I try to convince myself.
I curse again but this time my anger is directed at the swarms of people going home after the Reaping. They move like cows, slowly and without a care in the world because only a baker's son and a girl from the Seam will die for District 12 this year. They are safe. I glance at a clock on the street. There is so little time. The Peacekeepers only keep the tributes at the Justice Building for an hour and then whisk them off to the Capitol. I break into a run. I don't care about the people I'm shoving and stepping on. I need to get to the Justice Building before they leave.
"Watch it boy," an angry voice says to me. I look into the voice's face. It's the mayor. "Oh, Gale. I'm sorry. I understand. Go on, keep running. The building is just at the end of the next street."
Although I was upset earlier about Madge and her unfair chances at the Reaping, the bitterness fades. The mayor is a good man. I nod gratefully and dash away. I hope and hope and hope that the tributes haven't left yet. Why is it so damn crowded? I continue to move at a heartbreakingly slow speed. Finally, I see the Justice Building. The steps are empty. I thought the crowds would be greatest here, but the swarms actually seem to avoid this area to form a clear opening around the building. This emptiness seems dire to me. Maybe the tributes have already left, I think. If they were here, people would horde the building. I sink into further depression until I see a girl quickly hop up the steps. I recognize her – Madge. I begin to think optimistically again. Maybe they haven't left; maybe the crowds avoid the Justice Building because they're scared and want to forget the terrible reality of the Hunger Games. I ascend the steps three at a time and open the wide, wooden door.
I can tell from the movement inside that the train is about to leave. Effie Trinket's pink hair is discernible at the end of the hall. As much as I hate the woman, I run up to her and ask for directions. She appears slightly frightened by my appearance and lack of breath. I know I seem like a madman. My eyes must look scared and angry, and I can barely emit words after running here so fast. Still, she tries to maintain a semblance of dignity and points me down the hall.
Bursting into the room, I see him glance up with wide eyes that quickly settle into a knowing look. "Peeta," I gasp. He stares and waits for my speech to return. "Please, protect her. Help her as much as you can."
I can tell from Peeta's face that I didn't need to ask this – he would've done it regardless. It's common knowledge in District 12 that Peeta has liked Katniss for years. Still, I want his word.
Peeta struggles for words but says, "Okay, of course." His mouth opens to say more, but he closes it.
"I have your word? You'll protect her?"
"You have my word. I'll do anything for her." His bottom lip quivers, and he lowers his head.
I feel bad that I ask so much of him. I know he'll die for Katniss. In an attempt to stop his sobs, I say, "And take care of yourself too, Peeta. Good luck." He looks up at me with wet, blue eyes and nods. We both silently acknowledge the impossibility of my words. He can't live if Katniss is to live. I leave the room quickly. I can't look at my former enemy, now ally, any longer; and I must see Katniss before the train departs.
I dash over to her room and hope some time remains to give her a proper goodbye. My fingers struggle on the handle until I get the door to burst open so fast and hard that it hits the wall. Katniss looks up with relief. The fact that she's relieved to see me fills me with so much happiness that I allow myself a quick fantasy into an impossible future. Me and her, away from District 12, together – in a romantic way. I grab her and hold her tightly, dreading the moment when I'll have to let go. Beneath the embrace I feel her wiry, strong body, and I begin to give her any and all advice. She must not lose, or I will be lost as well. Cautious optimism is threaded in my advice. Katniss is quick, smart, and deadly with a bow. I hear footsteps approaching the room, and I realize I haven't told Katniss anything meaningful to remember me by. So little time. I ask the Peacekeepers to wait one minute, but they wrench me from Katniss.
"Don't let them starve!" I can't believe Katniss even has to remind me of this. She knows I'll care for her sister and mother until I die. Still, she's obviously frightened, so I assure her.
"I won't! You know I won't! Katniss, remember I said we could run away. When you get back, we will!" Unfortunately, this last bit remains unheard by anyone besides me and the Peacekeepers. I twist out of their grip and slouch against the wall.
"I love you, Catnip," I whisper. I cry into my hands on the floor of the Justice Building. After nearly a half hour of indulging my despair, I stand up and head to the woods to hunt. It's dark out, but I have to keep my promise to Katniss, just as I hope Peeta will keep his promise to me. If – when - Katniss returns home, she will find her family well fed.