|And So We Run Redux: Part II
Author: Medea Smyke PM
Madge and Gale made it out of the District 12 and survived the wilderness together. Now they face their new existence as members of the underground rebellion and possibly the biggest obstacle in their fledgling relationship: Katniss. AU, written Pre-MJ.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Adventure - Gale H. & Madge U. - Chapters: 15 - Words: 84,806 - Reviews: 353 - Favs: 204 - Follows: 84 - Updated: 12-20-10 - Published: 05-16-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5975686
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: And we're back! Huzzah! I hope you enjoy this second part and many thanks to Ceylon for continued beta support.
And So We Run Redux – Part II
With a few more steps I'll clear the tree line. The tall rhododendrons scratch my face and arms as I push through them toward my target: the enormous hovercraft in the meadow.
"Madge!" Gale hisses from behind me. "Are you crazy?" I hear him getting up to follow through the thicket, making more of a racket than I've ever heard him do in his haste. I speed up before he can catch me and risk our chance to catch the attention of whoever's onboard.
"It's all right," I cry over my shoulder, breaking into the sunlight. "Look!"
Gale stops at the edge of the plant growth, still trying to stay out of sight. His face is a mask of barely concealed anger and fear. I lead his blazing eyes toward the right with my finger. Visibly ill at ease, he steps up beside me and squints. It's the Mockingjay insignia. It has to be. And part of a name...one I know so very well.
I start waving my arms to get the attention of anyone who might be watching from inside, now terribly afraid that they'll decide nobody's here and take off. I'm jumping in place, but then my wrists are seized by Gale and he lugs me off into the thicket again. I dig my heels into the bracken, forcing Gale to slow down. He loses his hold on one of my arms and I try turning back.
"Knock it off, Madge. Hold still." His fingers bite into my shoulders as he spins me around to face him. His eyes sear into me beneath heavy eyebrows. Between that and his madcap black hair, he looks like a pissed off caveman. Which, given our current circumstances, isn't too far from the truth. Hmm. What does that make me?
"Quit clutching me," I tell him, trying to twist out of his grasp before he gets the idea to drag me off by my hair.
"It could be a ruse of the Capitol," Gale growls. He's winning this tug-of-war; we're nearly nose-to-nose. He must think reducing the distance between us will intimidate me into seeing reason. "You want to get yourself killed? And the rest of us, too?"
"No, of course not. It's not the Capitol," I protest angrily, stepping even closer, forcing him to lose ground. "It's a rebel craft. It has to be. Just listen to me for a second."
"Wait." Gale holds up a finger. The sound of sliding metal rings through the metal. I follow his gaze to see a hatch open on the underbelly of the hovercraft, issuing a steel-colored ramp which reflects the sunlight. It hits the ground with a final thump.
"Time to go," Gale says in a low voice as a figure treads down the ramp. His fingers close around my wrist. "Now."
Despite the stubborn set of his jaw, I don't back down. Yes, it will be a fatal end to our day if I'm wrong about the hovercraft. But if I'm right and we miss our chance for rescue…I'm not as keen about the additional forty or fifty mile trek that still remains between us and old Thirteen, or that cabin in the woods idea, as Gale seems to be. I want to know if this is our fast ticket to Thirteen.
So I as I pull my hand away from him, I ask, "Gale, who in the Capitol would name a hovercraft after Maysilee Donner?" They don't care about the dead tributes, just their victors. And apparently, they don't care too much for them either, since they put them up for slaughter just weeks ago in the Third Quarter Quell.
Gale's eyebrows knit together. "What are you talking about?"
"Look. I mean, really look this time." I point to the name on the side of the airship: the name, the insignia. Together they have to be more than a ruse.
He grits his teeth in irritation, but complies with my request. The frustration on his face slowly turns to curiosity as his jaw goes slack. "Huh."
The figure, dressed in black, walks down the ramp. He scans the area before he's joined by another two uniforms. Together they inspect the remains of our camp, kicking around the ashes of our fire and pointing at the flattened spots in the grass were we've been sitting and sleeping.
Meanwhile, we observe them. Their black uniforms are in direct contrast to the usual white Peacekeeper garb. They don't appear to be armed, either. And their faces look wistful, maybe disappointed even, as they gaze around the meadow. One of them points to the thicket, gesturing as though he wants check it out.
"Come on," I say, tugging Gale's good arm.
Gale shoves my hand away and handles his bow. "No, you wait here. I'll go."
"Oh please," I huff. "Are you really going to take on three grown men by your own injured self, with a bow you can't even use at close range?"
He turns his ominous eyebrows on me and for the first time in a while they actually look a little scary. "Stay here."
I comply, standing stupidly within the shadow of the rhododendrons, though it rankles my nerves watching him step out into the open by himself. I feel nervous, not knowing what they'll do when they spot him. I jump when Hazelle's sleeve brushes against my arm as everyone else joins me at the edge of the thicket. Focusing on Gale and the strangers, I haven't paid any attention to what else has been going on around me. I point out the inscription and insignia to them and Mrs. Everdeen turns white.
"The Capitol wouldn't name a hovercraft after my aunt, would they?" I ask her.
She shakes her head dazedly. "They don't remember the fallen tributes. Certainly not in this manner."
Nobody says anything else as Gale slowly approaches the uniforms. They don't see him coming, too busy conferring amongst themselves, perhaps debating how far they want to pursue the people who left the camp behind. Gale stops while there is distance enough to use his weapon. Quietly, he pulls out an arrow and nocks it, but holds the bow low, almost casually.
"Who are you?" Gale's voice booms in the open air of the meadow. "What is your business here?"
All three uniforms snap to attention at the sound of his voice.
"Now then, Sonny Jim, there's no need for that," one of the uniforms calls. Gale ignores him and raises the bow.
"I'll decide that," he replies. He sounds so sure of himself that I forget the absurdity of his position, one man with a few arrows pitted against three with an entire backup waiting within the hovercraft. "Who sent you? The Capitol?"
"We are not from the Capitol," the first man to step from the ramp informs Gale. "See for yourself." He slowly reaches into his jacket pocket and Gale instantly raises his bow into a ready position. But all the man pulls out is something like a wafer or cracker. I can't make out what's on it from here, but Gale sees something that makes nearly drop his bow. What's more, the man's gesture convinces Gale to approach them.
The rest of us wait with bated breath while he confers with the strangers. He puts his arrow away and slings the bow over his shoulder, relaxing. Eventually, he gestures for us to follow. The men look surprised as we step out of the shadows.
As I get closer, I see that Gale looks wide-eyed and something else. His expression reminds me of how he looked when I told him about my role in the rebel network. A mix of incredulity and zeal?
"They're from Thirteen." he tells us. "And they're offering to take us there."
The feeling of relief is unanimous, like releasing a collective sigh.
"This is my family," he tells the men, not bothering to differentiate between Everdeens and Hawthornes or Bristel and me.
"That's us. Gale's harem," Bristel quips under his breath, taking exception to Gale's automatic assumption of leadership. I elbow him as the men give him quizzical looks. Bristel just winks and amends, "Sorry. Crew."
I shush him, though it's more to stop myself from giggling than anything. If Gale takes himself too seriously, Bristel doesn't take Gale seriously at all.
"I'm Captain Pike. This is 1st Lt. Grayson and 2nd Lt. Takei. After what happened in your district we're pleased to find any survivors." He turns to Hazelle, probably assuming by her looks that she's Gale's mother. "Your boy here just explained that you were on your way to the Underground. Well, we have a much easier way of getting there."
"And you can tell us what has been going on in Panem? We've been completely cut off from everything," Hazelle says to Captain Pike.
"In good time," he replies. "First, let's get you aboard."
We follow Captain Pike to the hovercraft. Gale steps alongside me, looking awkward and out of his element. After a few false starts he mumbles, "You were right."
I figure this is sort of an apology for the mild shouting and nearly pulling my arms out of my sockets, as well as not believing me. I'll take what I can get though, and give him a smile. "A ride sounds good to me."
We board the ramp single file and enter some sort of receiving room. Another uniform stands at a control panel, probably controlling the ramp and hatch. The walls are completely bare except for a few blinking lights, offering no clues into the ship or the people who operate the hovercraft.
Without thinking, I run my hand over the smooth façade. It feels strange to touch something that isn't made out of a tree or rock. Now that we're inside I'm assaulted by all kinds of sights and smells that I've forgotten about, like fluorescent lighting bleaching the color out of the fiberglass walls and the musty tang of re-circulated air and the rubbery smell of the floor panels. And then there's the ceiling overhead, blocking out the sky completely for the first time since I fled the district.
My relief turns into mild claustrophobia. It feels oddly cramped about the Maysilee, though it's bigger than any house I've ever been in. I notice Gale look back over his shoulder toward the closing hatch and the way his lips press into a thin line as the grass disappears. I know how he feels. Yet my desire to creep back into to the sweet-smelling woods is curtailed by the promise of technology's greatest triumph, the shower. I can swallow my discomfort in exchange for hot, cleansing water that comes from out a nozzle and immediately disappears down a drain. No swimming. No fishy smell. Temperature control…
My reverie is broken when the captain dismisses his officers. He introduces another man, also in uniform, but with a nifty shaped hat, who appears though a sliding door I didn't notice. It closes behind him, leaving no traces of a seam, which explains how I didn't see it before. I wonder if I'm going to have to walk around stupidly crashing into walls trying to find the openings if all the doors are like that.
Captain Pike claps the man on the shoulder. "This is Corporal Leonard. He'll be your escort." To Leonard he says, "Have the purser add them to the ship's manifest. Then see that they are given something to eat."
Eat? I want a shower and a place to collapse, too. What about that?
"Yes, sir," the corporal replies. The door at the opposite end of the room slides open again when the captain signals to the officer behind the control panel and we can see down a long corridor. Our escort leads us down the nondescript passage into a cabin where a man sits at a desk working over an accounts book while his glasses slip down his thin nose. The room is the size of a broom closet and we have to squeeze in around each other to fit.
Leonard breaks through and squashes up against the desk, looking red-faced after the effort. "Mr. Doohan, Captain has a few more for your records."
"Thank you, Corporal," the purser says drily, as seeing us in front of his desk is indication enough. "You may wait outside." The purser waves our escort away without looking up. Dismissed, Leonard digs his way out again.
After a minute or two of awkward silence, he puts away the accounts and pulls out another log. Then he turns to us with a rusty smile. "Your names? By family and region, if you please."
Gale steps forward for his family. "Hawthorne, Hazelle…with two L's…Gale…er, no, like a very strong wind not a lady…Rory, Vick and Posy of District 12."
Next, Doohan speaks to Mrs. Everdeen, then Bristel. The man's face flushes as the list grows and there's something twinkling in his eyes.
When the purser's eyes fall on me, I step forward and say, "Undersee, Margaret. Also of Twelve."
"Your name is Margaret?" Gale whispers.
I roll my eyes, feeling a little rankled that Gale doesn't know my full name. I shouldn't be surprised, though. Hardly anyone ever calls me Margaret. Still, I ask, "What do you think Madge is short for?"
He shrugs. "I didn't know it was short for anything."
The purser sits back in his chair and takes off his glasses to clean them on his shirt. He whistles. "Hawthorne, Everdeen, Undersee." He sits up straight again and puts stars by our last names in the log. "One moment please."
Doohan picks up a radio mouthpiece and after punching a button, speaks into it. "Albatross One, this is Eagle Three. Radio check, over."
"Eagle Three, this is Albatross One. Read you rum toddy." We hear on the radio. Vick steps up to the desk to hear better, giving the purser a look of open curiosity at their strange manner of speaking.
"Albatross One, this is Eagle Three. Bingo. Do you copy?" he says, oblivious to our fascination.
After the equally strange affirmative involving first names and birds, the purser hangs up the mouthpiece.
"Do you want to elaborate on that?" Bristel asks. "Also, I could go for a rum toddy."
Doohan leans forward on his desk, hands steepled under his nose. He thinks for a moment or two. "A few days ago one of our recon teams discovered a large camp of people displaced from District 12. We've spent every minute since then scanning the surrounding areas for more pockets of refugees. Yesterday a list circulated by one of our leaders appeared with the names of several individuals that he is particularly keen to find. Your names top that list."
"We didn't do it," Rory interjects, gesturing toward Vick, Bristel, and himself. "I swear. The dynamite was Gale's idea."
I'd completely forgotten about how they blew up the fence and for a moment a pained, wistful expression crosses everyone's faces like we're all thinking about that night again.
Doohan blinks at the Rory, cocking his head in confusion. "You aren't in any trouble, young man. Er, nothing's been said about dynamite…However, it does mean your stay on the Maysilee will be a short one. Your friends will be pleased to have you back."
"Friends?" Gale asks. "What friends?"
We're going fast," Posy points out as she presses her nose against the glass windows for the hundredth time to watch the trees fly by beneath us.
I hold out my hand to her since Gale's been favoring his arm after carrying her over his shoulder this afternoon when they were running from the hovercraft. "Come on, Posy. We need to keep up." She takes my hand reluctantly and we continue to follow our escort down the curved corridor hedging the ship. Glass panels form the exterior around the front of the ship, allowing us to see the land fly by. Doors and alcoves line the opposite side of the corridor, and I wonder what's behind them. Men and women in black uniforms pass us by. They glance our way, but don't say anything. Occasionally, someone will nod at Leonard, but that's all. What are they all rushing off to?
I won't get to find out, since we're rushing off ourselves. Sans food. Sans shower. Sans information. To Albatross One…or the UTS Cole. UTS stands for Underground Thirteen Ship, according to the corporal. He doesn't know who the person is that the ship's named after. Cole does sound vaguely familiar, though that may be a District Twelve thing…cole…coal…
"All right." Leonard turns around to face us as he walks. He pushes his hat high on his head. "Here we are at the transporter room. We're going to teleport you—"
Rory stops in his tracks, eyes wide. "Are you serious?"
"Heh. No." Leonard shakes his head. "That was an inside joke. A little hovercraft humor for you. Sorry. Teleportation is sort of a myth. Actually, we're just going to shuttle you over to the Albatross in a smaller hovercraft."
"Lame," Rory mutters under his breath.
Leonard grins. "Don't be too disappointed. You're riding in the stud-muffin of hovercrafts today." Punching in a combination into a square code pad, he unlocks the hydraulic door. He leads us down a flight of stairs into a room, which is really an indoor launch pad the size of four justice buildings. A few greasy mechanics confer with one another off to the side. Rows of bays, some empty, some berthing various hovercraft corvettes, form a horseshoe around the tarmac. The so-called stud of a hovercraft waits for us, already pulled out onto the launch pad. A short stair of three steps leads up to the hatch. But what catches my eye is the smirking man with green hair painted in a lounging position on the side of the craft and the word Hobgoblin scrawled to the left of it.
"Hell's teeth," Gale mutters as he takes in the august pinup. "What is that?"
Our escort takes Gale's reaction as a sign of enchantment. He runs his hand affectionately over the pristine silver-colored frame.
"This is a Bezra-77, easily one of the sex—er, smartest passenger crafts in and outside of Panem," Leonard stammers, catching himself before he says something Posy shouldn't be able to repeat. "Er, where's that cargo bin…"
He finds the door on the side that lifts open, revealing space for our bags. One by one we stash everything away. Then there's nothing to do but wait.
Leonard checks his watch. "Your pilot should be around here somewhere..."
The door behind us hisses open again. "Ah, here he is," the corporal says with relief and something bordering on awe. "Everyone, this is Captain Quintus McFarlane. Easily one of our best pilots and—"
"Cut it out, Leo." The captain waves his hand as he saunters down the stairs, like he's diffusing the compliments hanging in the air around him. "You'll give them ridiculously high expectations of me."
Bristel snorts. "Impossible, I'm sure."
Well, he can be as sarcastic as he wants, but I can't help that my jaw unhinged as soon as the man stepped through the door. I've never seen anybody like Captain McFarlane in real life. Tipped in green, his hair stands out from his head at strange angles just like the pinup on the side of the Bezra, only the real man has a pair of aviator goggles pushed up over his forehead.
Gale stiffens next to me as Quintus confidently strides past in one of the tightest black uniforms I have ever seen. On the back of his leather jacket, large Q and M monograms are emblazed in green sequence. He shakes hands with Hazelle and Mrs. Everdeen, and even little Posy when she holds out her hand. "Enchanted," he says.
"Looks like he got in a fight with a tackle box and lost," Bristel quips. He means the lip and nose studs, as well as the rings in his ears.
"He looks like a Capitol tool," Gale replies under his breath. I have to agree. I mean, about the Capitol part. The man clearly came from Panem's central city, since nobody in the districts has enough money to dress that flamboyantly or modify themselves as extensively, unless he or she is a victor. And really, it just takes a special flavor of person to pull off a Quintus McFarlane – and that type is almost exclusively born and bred in the Capitol.
We watch in bemusement as the pilot confers with our escort. "Thanks, Leo," he says, wrapping up their conversation. "Next time I see you, we'll be in the Underground."
Quintus faces around again and we jump awkwardly when he catches us staring. But if he noticed our rude behavior he doesn't say so. Instead, with a wide grin he gestures toward the hatch.
"Well, folks, hop in."
The mothers, Gale, and Bristel seem immune to Quintus's charm, or maybe a little annoyed by it, but the kids and I file past him like a bunch of shy, moonstruck sheep piling into the fuselage. I can't help looking up though when it's my turn to get in. He winks down at me and I swear his white teeth sparkle. I blush and hastily follow Gale to a seat.
I sink down into the synthetic upholstery and barely stifle a moan. Gale gives me a smirking sidelong glance, but I don't care. He can be mister tough guy – but I like comfort! My bones are on their own little euphoric trip. When is the last time I sat or slept on something soft without rocks and stick or burrs digging into my skin?
As Quintus powers up the corvette, I can't help but think how surreal this experience is. After living in the woods and meadows for a little over two weeks, I forgot what technology feels like. It doesn't seem like a long time, but it is. Everything seems louder, with constant artificial droning and clanking. But I'll take it, I guess. I grin at myself, remembering my reluctance a little over an hour ago when the hatch closed us into the Eagle. Ha. That really didn't take long, did it? I also forgot how good it feels to get somewhere without having to use my own legs.
Quintus gives us a quick briefing giving us the location of little white bags under our seats when the gigantic garage door, or whatever it's called on a hovercraft, rumbles open. I guess we were supposed to take that as a warning because in seconds we go from completely still to shooting out into the open air. My body slams into the back of the seat from the speed of acceleration.
Whoa. Now I see why Leonard called this thing a stud. I just hope my organs re-inflate and go back to their assigned places.
"You won't mind if I put in some music?" Quintus asks over the noise of the hovercraft. "Just a mix I put together to keep me awake, you know?"
Hazelle and Mrs. Everdeen exchange worried glances. Gale's mom tightens the safety straps around Posy and Vick. Nobody decides to deny him. Awake is good.
Although some of us are second-guessing this wisdom once the open guitar riff breaks through the sound system. Prim plugs her ears and I'm tempted to do the same. I feel like my skull is going to split as some guy with a thin, crackly voice starts shouting through the speakers.
But Gale's expression transforms from its usual stony coldness to grudging admiration then on to open curiosity. He leans forward in his seat.
"What is this?" he calls up to the front.
"Just some old stuff from way back before Panem," Quintus replies. "Love me my ancient American music."
"Not bad," Gale agrees, leaning back.
"You should hear this one. I like to play it before I land." Quintus punches a button on the control panel, turns a nob, and a new track begins to play.
The opening drum sequence sounds like somebody's trying to dig around in really rocky soil with little success, and then the bass and guitar start grinding along with it. The cords seems too repetitive to me, but Rory bobs his head to it. Gale's head bobs once. He catches himself and slyly looks from side to side to see if anyone noticed.
The singer sounds like a drunk lizard with a very, very basic grasp of English. No wonder the ancient American culture died out.
Mrs. Everdeen and Hazelle share a look. I can tell by the set of the tense angle of their eyebrows that they're getting headaches too. I gaze wondering at Gale, who is clearly bonding with the captain over this music. My stomach sinks. It never occurred to me to wonder if we had compatible taste in music – I mean, getting together at all seemed too far-fetched. All I know is that I cannot play this music on the piano. Gale must have felt like this when he finally accepted that I am not a swimmer.
He catches me staring at him when he begins to drum his fingers on the armrest. "What?"
I shake my head. "Nothing."
Sinking deeper into the chair, I brace myself for the rest of the flight. Oh boy.
"What is that thing?" Rory asks, staring out his window. "It looks like a huge grey chicken."
"Albatross. The largest hovercraft available, military or commercial," the captain answers with a grand flourish. "The UTS Cole awaits."
After some more indecipherable radio speak, the Hobgoblin receives clearance to land. A giant maw opens in the side of the Albatross and Quintus gently glides the Bezra into the tarmac. When he gives us the cue to take off our safety restraints, I stand up on shaky legs. I've never flown before and now I've been on a total of three hovercrafts. Not bad, really. But it did something strange to my limbs. And my boots feel really tight.
Gale stands up too eagerly and smacks his head on the roof. He curses while rubbing the sore spot, all but pushing me down the aisle toward the stair that ground crew wheeled up.
On the tarmac, we mill around waiting for our pilot to unlock the cargo bin where our bags were stowed. He hands off each one until there's nothing left. Since I didn't have one, I opted to stand by the hatch.
Quintus closes the cargo bin then wipes his hands off on his pants. He looks over and gives me a nod. "What's your name?"
"Madge," I try to tell him with as much poise as possible.
He reaches out to shake my hand. "Nice to have you around, Madge."
My insides turn to mush under the gaze of his green eyes, the first I've ever seen. "You too…um, er…thanks, Captain Mc—"
"Call me Quintus," he says, still holding my hand.
Behind Quintus, Gale clears his throat and I drop his hand like a hot poker. Gale steps around the pilot and takes my elbow. "Ready?" he asks. I can't really see his face since he's standing just behind me, but his voice sounds…a little put out.
Quintus smirks over my shoulder at him then gives me a conspiratorial wink. "Time to go," he says. "I'll find your escort."
Yeah. No kidding, I think as he strides off. My brain fell out when he started speaking and now I need to find it.
"Nice guy," Gale grumbles like he doesn't think Quintus is at all nice now that they aren't bonding over junk yard music. He's wearing a sour expression on his face and I feel a twinge of guilt. I can't help feeling enamored by Quintus's larger-than-life persona, but I certainly don't feel for him what I feel for Gale. I mean, no contest.
"He is a nice I guy, I guess," I reply, my voice a little too breathy for the tone of indifference I'm trying for. It doesn't improve Gale's countenance. I elbow him gently in the ribs. "But then, you like his music."
He doesn't appreciate the reminder. "Hmph. You like his tight—"
"Escort's here," Bristel says as he passes by, heading in the direction of a balcony that leads into the rest of the hovercraft.
Gale shoulders his bag and follows before I can protest about my affinity for Quintus McTightpants, er McFarlane. I don't like the pilot, I remind myself as I catch up with Gale, but he has charm. There isn't anything wrong with that.
Our escort introduces himself as Volks. He leads us through a corridor that makes the Maysilee halls look like clogged arteries. The sheer size of the deck –the Albatross has several – could fit two Eagles. How did Thirteen get their hands on this? I does make me wonder what they've been up to in the last seventy-five years and wonder what took them so long to make their presence known. Our escort doesn't offer up any information, though. Unlike Leonard, he isn't much of a tour guide.
Volks leads us down a moving ramp that looks like a giant treadmill. Gale, who isn't impressed with this technology, opts to walk alongside it on the normal, non-mobile footpath. He does think it's funny, though, when Vick tries to walk on it backward and doesn't go anywhere.
Eventually the treadmill ramp ends and we walk a short ways until Volks ushers us into an antechamber. Chairs line the walls while an empty Formica table commands the center. Our shoulders slump in perfect unison – a waiting room.
The escort promises that somebody will bring food and drink, then leaves before we can ask about quarters or, you know, who's been circulating our names to the rebels.
Food comes quickly. It's delivered to us by a man and a woman dressed in the same black uniforms that everyone seems to be wearing. I wonder when they'll issue our jumpsuits? I also wonder if they'll include clean underwear.
"Everyone around here wears black. Are you sure we're with the good guys?" Bristel asks the woman as she sets out a tray of sandwiches.
The woman gives him a stony glare. "Black is the color of rich soil," she tells him, as if that explains everything. I wonder if she's actually from District Eleven.
"Okay," Bristel says, playing along. "It's also the color of coal. I bet there's still some under my fingernails if you want to see?"
The lady sniffs indignantly and leaves.
Weird, he mouths toward the rest of us, then shoves a sandwich in his mouth.
After two hours of eating, pacing and more waiting, two medics arrive. They look us over, asking invasive questions, like if we've come into contact with rabid animals or the plague, or if we've had unnatural relations with sticks. One points out where some of the scabs have left scars on my face and arms. At first they panic, thinking I'm carrying smallpox or something. Eventually they calm down enough, with some help from Gale and his eyebrows of doom, for me to explain that it's from poison ivy and not from kissing a rat.
When they set eyes on Gale they turn practically giddy. And not because he's tall, dark, and handsome, which is usually my excuse. It's more like he's fresh meat. Turns out our new buddies from Thirteen are fresh out of medical school. And referring to it as a school is generous.
They take in the bandages, stitches, bruises, and burns. It's obvious that he's favoring his injured arm, which they seize upon. They put Gale in a splint, ignoring Mrs. E completely as she tries to explain that his arm isn't broken. Sprained, maybe. Cut definitely. But they don't want to take advice from some herbalist in a backward district. And they don't have access to x-ray technology at this point in time. Right.
We all breathe a little easier when they leave, except for Gale who is cursing non-stop under his breath and trying to shake off the splints, while hurting himself. Hazelle actually threatens to wash his mouth out with soap while she covers Posy's ears.
Then the door slides open one more time. It's not a uniform, though.
It's Haymitch. We're all so surprised nobody thinks of anything to say, but Mrs. Everdeen immediately gets to her feet.
Ignoring Katniss's mother, he walks in, points a meaty finger at Gale and says, "You. Come with me."
To be continued…
Quintus: looking better in black than the widows of our…oops. Wrong fandom. Anyway, he is back in black (if that doesn't clue you in to the Ancient American music he was listening to, lol) and he asks that you don't tease me about the made-up radio speak and blatant use of Star Trek actors. ;)
Thanks for reading!