|When Life Became a Game
Author: cindella204 PM
"For me, life had become a game. A game to survive…" When there are no volunteers in District 4 for the first time in years, Finnick Odair finds himself in the arena at the age of 14. Will a well constructed façade and an unexpected ally keep him alive?Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Suspense - Other tributes & Finnick O. - Chapters: 39 - Words: 106,868 - Reviews: 233 - Favs: 45 - Follows: 47 - Updated: 03-30-13 - Published: 04-23-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6932305
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Apparently the link for this broke? I don't know what happened. Anyway: Take 2.
Thanks to shieldmaiden19, The Ice Within, Bailey Rene, and sparklegem108 for reviewing. Extra thanks to sparklegem108 for sitting on the phone with me when I need to bounce some ideas off of someone. Lots of love to you.
There are several concepts, characters, and real life things that I use and/or mention in this chapter that I don't own. These include but are not limited to the Hunger Games, Finnick Odair, President Snow, and Xanax.
A/N: Hey guys.
Firstly, the theme song for this chapter (minus the last section) is We Are Young by 3OH!3. Not the one by Fun. 3OH!3. It pretty much embodies everything that's going on here. You should YouTube/Spotify it. The theme song for the last section is Never Let Me Go by Florence + The Machine.
Also, alcohol is very important to this chapter, so quick mixology lesson on the five main types of liquor:
(Good quality) vodka is colorless, tasteless, and flavorless. It's usually consumed in cocktails because it is tasteless, although some do drink it straight (that's hardcore though, it's ungodly strong). From Eastern Europe.
Whiskey is also very strong. Associated with men. Seriously. When you see a woman drinking whiskey straight it should be noted. There are many well known types such as bourbon and scotch, both mentioned in this chapter. Bourbon is from Kentucky (USA) and Scotch is from Scotland.
Rum is a spiced drink associated with islands, especially the Caribbean, and pirates. In my head canon this is what's most readily available in District Four.
The other two main types are gin and tequila, but they're not important to this story right now so I'm ignoring them.
Last note, please know that ginger beer is a non-alcoholic soda similar to ginger ale, but ten times stronger. It is usually found in countries that were formerly under British rule, although you can find it in the World Cuisine aisle of some American grocery stores.
IN THIS CHAPTER: STRONG adult language. Seriously. The language hasn't been this bad since that one chapter in Part I. I seriously evaluated it though and felt it necessary. Also there is unhealthy use of drugs and alcohol. And some mild sexual themes.
My mom was one hundred percent right about New Year's in the Capitol. This is absolutely insane. I'm in a ballroom with five hundred thirteen to eighteen year olds, four open bars, and three dance floors the size of my bedroom. Recipe for disaster. Combine that with the fact that Capitol clothing is crazy, the music is worse, and I'm too popular for my own good, and I'm seriously ready to go hide out in the bathroom.
Which means it's time for another drink.
I head back to the nearest bar and order something random. Cocktails aren't big in District Four, and even the few we have probably have different names, so I've just come to terms with the fact that I have no clue what I'm drinking. A couple gets up to leave the bar and I quickly grab one of their seats. Apparently I ordered something super complicated, because my drink still isn't ready, so I look around and see who I'm sitting with. On my right is a couple who are sharing a seat and may or not be having sex. On a bar stool. At a party.
I turn to the left and see a girl who's probably my age stirring a glass of something with a coffee stirrer. Bourbon, maybe. One of the bartenders brings her another drink and she frowns at it.
"This isn't mine. I didn't order anything."
She turns to me and pushes it in my direction. "Is this yours?"
I take a sip, and it tastes so much like home that it's almost unpleasant. Ginger beer and rum. I didn't think that counted as a cocktail, especially in the Capitol, but it's undeniably the same drink that I've been drinking at pier parties since I started secondary school.
I turn back to the girl next to me. Her cotton candy colored makeup has mixed into her tears and it drips down her face.
"Are you okay?"
She turns to me and rolls her eyes. "Heads up, being nice to me isn't going to get you any closer to Kirylessa. I don't think she'll ever speak to me again, never mind any of my friends."
"Oh, right. You're not from here. District. She's that model that you see on every other billboard. Super famous."
"Oh, her! The squid girl!"
She gives me a confused look. "What?"
"I was at the PanemHEAT, fifty, Christmas, whatever that thing was, and during the Year in Review presentation they showed a picture of her where her dress made her look like a squid."
"A squid?" she asks drily.
"Yeah, it's an animal that lives in the ocean back home, hold up." I pull my phone out of my jacket pocket and do a quick image search.
"Oh my God." She bites her lip. "That was the main dress for her release with Gilantri, this huge shoe company. The only thing bigger than that that happened all year was probably the STORM release."
"Yeah, Jayde, my stylist, said something about that. It was just funny to me because back home they're considered to be one of the most disgusting creatures in existence. Little bit of a culture shock."
She laughs bitterly. "Yeah, well, she's one of the most well-known names in fashion so obviously people here don't think that. For God's sakes, I look like a bag of fucking cotton candy and this is considered mild."
I was thinking the cotton candy thing five minutes ago, so I have no good response to that. With the purple eyeliner, blue eyeshadow, magenta mascara, and pink lip gloss, all in baby pastel shades, that was the first thing that came to mind.
"Hey, you look human, which is a start. Especially compared to your maybe-friend, who I think I saw earlier."
She snorts. "Not maybe friend. She's completely done with me. Which is why I'm sitting at a super exclusive party crying and drinking alone. This isn't my scene at all. I would never go to things like this except for her, and now she's not speaking to me."
"What happened that she's so pissed?"
She sighs. "Three hundred people thirteen to eighteen actually get invited to this party, and each of them get a plus one, bringing the actual total to six hundred. Kirylessa and I have been friends for almost ten years now, so it's almost assumed that she's bringing me to stuff like this, but she wanted to bring this guy she's crushing on this year. I was totally fine with that, so I just said I wouldn't go and she could bring him. The problem was that if she brought someone else it would be in the tabloids, and her parents don't like the guy or whatever, so I needed to be here anyway so they didn't know. Basically, she wanted me to sneak in some how."
"There's no way in hell." The security to get into this thing was ridiculous.
"Exactly. And that's what I told her. Either she could risk it with her parents or have her boy toy sneak in, but I wasn't sneaking in. She had some elaborate reason why he couldn't sneak in, and I told her that I couldn't either. So she felt like she had to take me, but now she's pissed at me and she's avoiding me. Everyone knows her and loves her, so she's having no problem finding other company, but since I don't really fit in the rich and famous scene, bourbon is my only friend."
"Yeah, well, my sidekick went back to the district and I have no clue how any of this works, so I'm in the same boat."
She drains the rest of her glass and takes my hand. "I don't want to talk about it, come on."
And it's off to the dance floor. Hurrah.
She turns to face me as she leads me to the nearest mass of people. "By the way, my name is Zairya."
I smile. "Nice to meet you."
"How are you so good at this? It took me hours to master this."
I spin her before responding. "Combat training. It surprisingly similar. Minus the touching."
"What's that like?"
The song switches to something slow and she spins again before grabbing my other hand.
"Yeah. The Games are kind of different because you'll probably die, but training seems like it would just be a never ending adrenaline high. I like thrill." She winks, and I fight the urge to roll my eyes.
"Umm…" How the hell do you describe the Training Center to a Capitol kid who wouldn't even have any point of comparison? "It's…intense. Definitely a lot of adrenaline. I was good at it, so my perspective if probably different from someone else's, but I guess I liked it. It's just kind of hard to explain."
"Huh. Sounds kind of fun."
"What's the point of slow songs? I mean, everyone kind of stands together and sways. There's no point."
"The point is for you to make out with your date, look cute, and make everyone else on the dance floor jealous."
I see an Opportunity with that, and I lean forward.
"We can do that. If you want."
And then I lean forward and kiss her. The texture of her lip gloss is unpleasant, but she's a decent enough kisser. I keep it mild; I don't need pictures of me sex-kissing all over the magazines, but now that I've gotten stuck in this stupid charade it needs to be something. Lallie and Jayde agreed to let me do this my way, but it still needs to be done. Which means taking advantage of Opportunities when they come.
I break away and give her a second to catch her breath. I'm used to kissing District Four girls who can easily hold their breath as long or longer than I can.
"Is there anything you aren't good at?"
"Singing. I can't sing."
She rolls her eyes. "I want another drink, come on."
"Okay, if you're going to sit on my lap you need to shift right some. The…whatever that is on the bottom of your dress is cutting off my circulation."
I take her hips and scoot her five centimeters to the right, causing her to giggle hysterically.
"Would you quit laughing, it feels weird."
Of course she just giggles more.
"Look at that one." She points off to the left.
"Blue headpiece at ten o'clock."
I follow her finger and see a girl with a huge sea themed headpiece. There are boats, starfish, sand, seashells, and more in a black wig. Her dress is a teal monstrosity that is probably supposed to represent the ocean, but honestly it just makes her look fat.
"That's totally your fault. Sea-themed is in because of you and STORM. Have you noticed the trident jewelry?"
"The earrings that went through the ear to look like tridents were one thing. That is another."
She laughs and hands me a drink. "Try that, it's one of my favorites."
It is bright purple. No liquor is that color.
Actually, this is the Capitol. Anything is possible.
"What the hell is in that? It's purple."
"Just try it, it's good."
I cautiously take a sip and almost choke. "I feel like I'm eating flowers!"
She laughs. "It has some kind of violet syrup in it. Those of us with a more…distinguished palette appreciate it."
"Yeah well my less-sophisticated District palette does not."
"Do you need something to get rid of the taste?"
"Are you offering?"
She smirks. "Maybe."
"Then start that bourbon. I refuse to make out with you when you're last drink was vodka-based. I hate vodka."
She rolls her eyes. "Pushy, pushy."
"What can I say, I have high standards."
She makes a face, but knocks back the bourbon pretty quickly.
"Better." And I meet her lips.
"Five minutes 'till."
"Mhmm. In my district we have a tradition. When the clock switches to 23:59 you start kissing, and you can't stop until the New Year." I lean forward a bit. "Can you hold your breath that long?"
She smirks. "Like that mattered earlier."
I shrug. "True. I've realized the error in my ways."
She rolls her eyes. "I'll be fine. Come on, back to the floor. I know I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, but I still refuse to ring in my new year at the bar."
She drags me to the dance floor as eight invisible screens come to life with a picture of a girl I don't recognize.
I turn to Zairya.
She rolls her eyes. "Oh God, this again. You'll see in a second."
And the girl begins to speak. "For those of you who don't me, I am Corayle Snow, and I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year on behalf of the Presidential Family. As usual, our midnight toast drink will celebrate the district of this year's victor, so shout out to Finnick wherever you are. Waitresses will be coming around with drinks, but in the mean time enjoy the rest of your night, and have a very Happy New Year."
Now I see the similarities between her and President Snow. They have the same kind of eyes.
"She does that every year. Actually, last year she wasn't here because she was too young. Honestly she still is now; everything she drinks is three quarters water because we can't have the president's granddaughter getting drunk and acting stupid. It's so ridiculous."
"Eh, screw responsibility. I was supposed to stop after about half of what I had tonight, but I'll sleep it off tomorrow."
She laughs. "Exactly. Ooh, there's the drinks. Oh my God, you got a special one. Lucky!"
She grabs two drinks off a tray and gives me one that's different from the rest. "This one has you're name on it. And it smells really good."
As soon as I take it from her I'm assaulted by the smell of roses. Attached is a note.
I'm disappointed that I won't have the opportunity to greet you in person while you're here with us in the Capitol. I trust that Lallie and Jayde have shown you what the Capitol truly has to offer until I can speak with you during your Victory Tour.
Wishing you a New Year as lovely as this one.
- President Snow
"Hey, are you okay?"
I give the first excuse I can think of, which isn't a particularly good one.
"Yeah, just a little creeped out by how quickly they found me in a crowd of six hundred drunk teenagers."
She laughs. "Someone how they manage to keep tabs on everyone. Any time, any place, they know where you get are. For security reasons, et cetera, et cetera."
"Anyway, one minute till. Kiss me."
Here we go again.
When I wake up, I want to literally crawl up in the fetal position. Calling this a headache would be the understatement of the year. I'm sure it's pathetic considering that I competed in the Games and all, but without a Hunger Games adrenaline rush, I'm not sure that I can handle this.
I check the time. Nine-thirty. Screw my internal clock. I know I'm not going back to sleep at this point, so I quickly shower and put new clothes on before heading to the elevator. I need to stop by Lallie's apartment and get some of that, whatever it was she gave us to drink the other day. It actually worked.
I knock on Lallie's door, and she opens it.
She looks wrecked. Not just tired wrecked, but like she's totally not here.
"I need some of that stuff. The thing you gave Nikhila and I when we got wasted last week."
"Main pantry, left side, third shelf."
I scoot past her and walk into her kitchen. Something's up. I've spent enough time around Lallie at this point to know that this isn't her.
And then something catches my eye. A pill bottle that's definitely out a place. The way it's sitting on the shelf suggests that it doesn't belong there.
I turn to Lallie to ask her about it, because she's acting strange, and see her nursing a glass of something. And then I notice the bottle of Scotch sitting next to her.
What the actual fuck?
"Yes, Lallie, chase that hangover with alcohol and pills, I'm sure that will help you in the long run."
"Shut up, Finnick."
"Excuse me? After the crap you gave me last week, I don't think so."
She makes eye contact for the first time since I walked in.
"What are you talking about Finnick?"
"I'm talking about the guilt trip about me feeling sorry for myself! You totally flip on me for being upset, and then I'm supposed to just watch you drug yourself up when things get rough? I don't think so."
"Finnick, I'm sorry for disappointing you because I don't have my shit together," she drawls.
"This isn't about you having your shit together. This is about you throwing yourself onto a pedestal and pretending that you're so much better, making me feel like shit in the process, by the way, and then having the audacity to be pissed at me for saying something about it."
"Pretending I'm better?"
"Yes! That whole thing about 'I've been there, and it just made me suicidal and drug dependent, you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it, be proactive, et cetera.' I get that I'm a pain in the ass, and that I probably wouldn't have listened unless you guilt tripped me, so I got over that, but you don't get to guilt trip me when you're just as bad."
"I'm just as bad? Have you even stopped to think about why all this has happened? Stop being so wrapped up in yourself and your poor little issues and actually think about something outside yourself and then you might have a chance at understanding. Probably not, but maybe."
"First of all, Lallie, playing that card doesn't work with me. You're not going to make me feel guilty about thinking I have issues. You're just not. And second all, you were the one saying 'Fuck life and do something about it.'"
"Yeah, well, life is sucking right now, and I'm dealing with it by drinking. Get over it."
"Oh my God, it's like I'm talking to a effing brick wall. What the hell did you even take?"
I go back to the first cabinet and pick up the bottle.
XANAX 2 MG
ALPRAZOLAM 2 MG
Oh fuck. That's just fantastic.
"Alprazolam. I wonder why that sounds so damn familiar, oh, right, that was from our little story session last month. When you were talking about your tortured past."
I grab the sports drink that I came here for.
"When you come off the initial high in a few hours don't come looking for me."
I slam the door just to be dramatic, and spin around to find Jayde right in front of me.
"I got pissed at her for being stupid. Oh, and give this back to her, I'm not sure if she noticed me take it or not."
I all but throw Lallie's pill bottle up her and push the button for the elevator.
"Wait a minute isn't this—fuck."
"That's what I said."
"No, Jayde, go…deal with that. I'm fine."
She sighs and pulls the door open. "Lallie!"
And when it shuts I sit outside the door and open my VigorAde because I want to know what the hell is going on.
"Lallie, what happened last night?"
"Oh, he told you. Awesome."
"He didn't do anything. Don't try make this about him, Lallie. Because it's not."
"Then what is this about? Finnick's already come and told me how irresponsible I am. I don't need it from you."
"God dammit, Lallie. Stop trying to piss me off so I'll leave you alone."
Jayde laughs bitterly. "Two years of you taking advantage of that…it ends now. You and Finnick both."
"Wait a minute, you were listening to that? What the hell, Jayde?"
"Yes, Lallie, I was listening that. You know why? Because I wanted to know what I was doing wrong. You obviously get Finnick, and I obviously don't, so I thought maybe I could figure out what the hell was wrong with me. And I'm glad I did, because it's always good to know how someone's exploiting your weaknesses."
"Exploiting your weaknesses? Seriously, Jayde? You're being melodramatic, especially considering the fact that if this was Finnick he wouldn't be getting half of this, because Finnick can do no wrong."
I can do no wrong? Has she forgotten the whole model mess last month?
"You really want to talk about Finnick, don't you, Lallie. Fine, we'll talk about Finnick. You scared the living shit out him. I hope you're happy."
"No, I pissed him off. Calm down."
"Right, you're drunk, high, and dysfunctional and wouldn't know the difference. My bad. And you're also not going to talk to me right now. I'm going to take the pills with me and leave, and once you're ready to be reasonable, preferably after you've come down, come find me. And watch the drinking; if I have to take you to the hospital for alcohol poisoning I'm going to be pissed."
Jayde opens the door and I stand.
"So you're just going to let her drink herself into a coma?"
It takes Jayde a second to respond. "Seriously, Finnick?"
"Seriously listening outside the door. What are we, twelve?"
"Fifteen isn't far off, as everyone loves to forget. I know, I'm a terrible person and self-absorbed, Lallie already reminded me. Now back to the point, what the hell?"
"Please, don't Jayde. I'm exhausted and hungover meaning that half the shit that comes out of my mouth isn't going to be reasonable. Get over it."
"She's got such a high Xanax tolerance that she's not going to get the mind-void she wants without drinking too. Even when she's self-destructive enough to relapse and take stuff, she's still smart enough to not overdose. That means that she's going to follow it with alcohol until she's too wasted to remember her name, which will be awhile. Unless, she has a breakthrough, which happens sometimes. We'll see."
"When she suddenly realizes she's being self-destructive and stupid and stops halfway through a bender like this."
I shake my head. "I'm going to make breakfast. Later." I press the button for the elevator.
"Yes, you are, in my kitchen."
I turn. "What, why?"
"Because you decided to overhear that conversation, so now you need the background to understand what you just heard. There are consequences to that kind of knowledge."
"Just come on."
I take a breath and follow her into her room.
Well, this was one way to start the new year.
A/N: That was traumatic. For those of you who psychoanalyze my characters, you may already know why Finnick reacted so badly. If not, it will be explained next chapter.
Also, now that I've insinuated that Finnick's been drinking since the age of twelve I need to explain drinking culture in D4. I'll do that too. Speaking of Finnick drinking, if you're not concerned by his drinking habits…you should be. He drinks whenever he doesn't want to deal with something. Fast path to becoming an alcoholic. I'm not saying he will, just saying it's not a good road to go down.
Let me know what you thought.