Author: cali-chan PM
"Primrose Everdeen." This can't be happening, Katniss thought. She desperately pushed through the crowd. I volunteer!, she wanted to scream. I volunteer as tribute! But she couldn't, because she wasn't eligible for the reaping anymore. There was nothing she could do. Peeta/Katniss and other pairings, AU.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Peeta M. & Katniss E. - Chapters: 30 - Words: 161,992 - Reviews: 630 - Favs: 290 - Follows: 543 - Updated: 05-09-13 - Published: 01-23-12 - id: 7768246
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 24: Exposition
Author: Carla, aka cali-chan
Rating: Most likely PG-13. Nothing worse than what's in the books.
Genre: Adventure/suspense/drama/romance... again, pretty much what's in the books.
Pairings: Peeta/Katniss, Rory/Prim... and probably others. You'll see soon.
Canon/timeline: Same-context AU— this fic still happens in the same world as THG, but the actual events in the books never happened. I'm adding about five years to the characters from the age they were at the beginning of The Hunger Games. Katniss is 21.
Disclaimer: Yeah, just let me go get my transfer laser and switch bodies with Suzanne Collins. Until I find it in the mess that is my room, anything you can recognize belongs to her.
Note: I've never really tried this before (and I'm sure it will eventually come back and bite me in the behind), but each chapter will be from the PoV of a different character. You should be able to tell whose PoV it is fairly easily, though.
Summary: "Primrose Everdeen." This can't be happening, Katniss thought. She desperately pushed through the crowd. I volunteer!, she wanted to scream. I volunteer as tribute! But she couldn't, because she wasn't eligible for the reaping anymore. There was nothing she could do.
"The road to the future leads us smack into the wall. We simply ricochet off the alternatives that destiny offers." —Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Peeta had been moved around so much, he was starting to get dizzy. Or maybe that had something to do with the constant sedation. He was no doctor, but he was pretty sure repeatedly having chemicals injected into his bloodstream could not be good for his health in the long run.
Haymitch, who had been there for his extraction from the Training Center, said it was for security purposes, and while Peeta didn't like it, he had to admit it made sense. Now that the rebels had made the government aware of their existence and their intent, they'd be on high alert, and one tiny mistake could get any one of them captured. Even a relative unknown as Peeta could be easily recognized; after his propo aired the night of the scores reveal, the Capitol must have made sure every Peacekeeper in the country knew his face.
And if he were to get captured, he could tell the Capitol crucial information about the rebellion, including secret locations. Haymitch was insistent that denying knowledge or refusing to divulge it would do no good; they had plenty of ways to force or even torture information out of people. So the only way of not revealing too much was not knowing too much.
It was hard for him, all this caution and secrecy. He was never very good at recognizing when others were deceiving him— something his brothers always took advantage of when they were children— but now he found himself being wary of everybody and everything, and it was weird.
At the same time, he'd always considered himself an open person; he never really felt he had anything to hide from anyone. He had only kept one real secret, and he only kept it to himself because he was afraid of rejection. But even that was out in the open now. When they filmed the propo Haymitch was coaching him on what to say, and it felt a lot like they needed him to manipulate their audience. Which he guessed they were, but it just didn't feel right to Peeta. He could be pretty good at saying what people wanted to hear (years and years of trying to avoid his mother's wrath), but at the same time he didn't like feeling like he was deceiving anyone. So in the end he just told the truth, and for some reason Haymitch and Cressida thought that worked even better.
It wasn't exactly the way he had intended to reveal his most important secret. Not by a long shot. But if it could in any way help Katniss, he wouldn't regret it. He could deal with it, and the secrecy and the injections, as long as it made her chances better.
So he got moved to many different safe houses, practically a different location each day. According to Haymitch, he'd be on the move until Katniss's mission was done. "When will we know how it went?" Peeta asked him, just as he was getting into the car. He knew better than to ask how they would know.
"Not right away," Haymitch replied gruffly, "but eventually."
The safe houses he was taken to were small and underground, most of them just one room with bunk beds and a small folding table attached to the wall where he would eat bland canned or dry food. There wasn't much to do but think. He didn't even have a piece of paper to distract himself by drawing something.
They had given him a bag with basic clothes and a wristwatch, which Peeta used to dutifully keep track of the days that passed since he was first moved out of the Training Center. That's how he knew the very day the Games were slated to start was the day he got moved to a much larger safe house. He was moved during the night, actually. Prim would have already spent about six hours in the arena as he got out of the car. He hoped she had survived the bloodbath at the Cornucopia. He wished there was a way he could know if she had.
This safe house was a lot more comfortable. It was aboveground for once, and not only could it house up to eight people in two rooms, but it also had a common room which doubled as a conference room, a small kitchen with an actual table where he could eat, and, he found out later, there was a training room in the basement.
He chose one of the rooms to drop off his stuff, but just as he was taking out some cans from the bag he was handed a while back, his foot made contact with something hard under the bed. He looked and found a dark case, large and rectangular in shape, similar to ones he'd seen holding certain musical instruments.
Curious, he pulled it out and onto the bed. He hadn't found anything in any of the previous safe houses he'd been in, so he found it strange that someone had left that case behind. It was heavy. There was a set of keys hanging from a small chain around the handle, and it took him a while to get the right combination, but eventually he managed to open the locks. Nestled inside several layers of protective lining was a wooden bow and a quiver filled with hand-made arrows.
It was Katniss's bow; the one that had belonged to her father. He had spent enough hours sitting beside it in a cramped Capitol Coal box that he could recognize it straight away. The last time he'd seen that bow had been on the train, when Katniss used it to kill three Peacekeepers before they could apprehend them. Cressida's crew had taken the bow with them once they reached the Capitol. How did it get to this safe house?
He carefully closed and locked the case, leaving it on top of the bedspread instead of letting it collect dust under the bed. How the bow had gotten there wasn't really important; all that mattered was that it belonged to Katniss. He knew how much it meant to her. He'd just have to make sure to keep it safe, so he could give it back to her when they saw each other again. Because he would see her again.
He had just begun to eat dinner when he heard the front door open. He immediately grew alert, though if someone had found him there was really not much he could do— he had no weapons at hand (not that he knew how to use one), and was sure he heard several sets of steps, so he was dealing with more than one person. He tried to make his way to the main entrance as quietly as he could (he only hoped his steps weren't too loud this time), and when he looked to the foyer from behind a corner, he was shocked to find his visitors were none other than Haymitch, Chaff, and Finnick Odair.
They'd been extracted from the Watchtower just as he had been from the Training Center. All three Victors insisted their absence would not affect their tributes at all; their kids were well taken care of, and looked after while they were in the Arena. They hadn't just abandoned them. Still, there were more pressing matters as the rebellion entered the second stage of their plan.
Apparently this "second stage" involved Peeta joining the three of them on an actual mission. Soon. Haymitch would be briefing him in the morning (there was some information they were still waiting on, it seemed), and then he'd be spending every waking minute down at the basement, training with Chaff and Finnick. Whatever it was they were doing, it would require physical intervention. He was okay with that; the only thing he wanted to know was what was happening with Katniss. Haymitch told him they had no information about that yet.
When he showed them to their room, Haymitch caught sight of the case Peeta had left there. "Katniss's bow and arrows are inside," Peeta explained, noticing the way he stared at it. "I found it under the bed. Do you have any idea how it could've gotten here?"
Haymitch let out a grunt and dropped his bag right beside the case. "She was here," he grumbled. "Preparing for her mission. Her squad probably left just this mornin'." Peeta's heart started beating faster. Katniss had been here? If he had come to the safe house any earlier, would he have been able to see her, talk to her? Of course, he couldn't have arrived any earlier— the rebels had each move carefully planned out, and he was unconscious for most of the ride anyway— but somehow knowing that Katniss had been here, maybe even stood where he was standing, made him feel closer to her.
"Now, either you take that case with you to cuddle with it," Haymitch added, snapping him out of his thoughts, "or you put it back under the bed. Either way, I'm taking the lower bunk, and I don't fancy bumping my knees against that thing all night." Peeta instead left the case at the foot of the bed, where it wouldn't be in the way.
Over dinner they filled him in on everything that had happened with Prim over the past few days. He was proud to hear she had done very well in the pre-Games events. Haymitch said she had a good few parties who were interested in sponsoring her, and he spoke a little of the strategy they'd decided to use with her. Peeta hoped it would work; she needed to hold in there until they could get her out.
They explained a little about the arena, though Peeta couldn't really imagine it; he had the feeling all the images his mind could conjure up of giant trees rising out of a pit of acid water wouldn't do reality justice. They mentioned the toll of the Cornucopia fight but didn't go into much detail, and Peeta could understand why: they didn't want to recount how the children they were in charge of lost their lives. Haymitch and Finnick each lost one. Chaff lost both his tributes. Anyone would have a hard time talking about it.
There were a lot of questions he wanted to ask about the rebels' plans, but he knew he mostly wouldn't get answers to those, so he decided to wait until morning. After dinner, Haymitch and Chaff went off by themselves somewhere; probably outside. Finnick joked that Haymitch was going to spend his time sulking because the meager rations they were given did not include any alcohol. Peeta figured they were somehow getting in contact with the rest of the rebellion. They probably needed to go outside to get a signal, since the safe house was built like a fortress.
He and Finnick made small talk in the common room as a way to pass the time. Peeta wasn't sure what to think about the guy; he seemed nice enough for the most part, but given that he insisted on calling him "Lover Boy" and every other sentence that came out of his mouth was laden with innuendo, he didn't know quite how to label the bronze-haired man.
At least he and Chaff were a lot more forthcoming with information than Haymitch was; they didn't know everything (Chaff had already admitted to that when they first met), but they didn't seem to mind telling him at least what they didknow. Except, ironically, at night, when none of them seemed to be able to sleep, but for some reason were reluctant to talk.
They each had their little tricks to distract them, Peeta had noticed quickly. Finnick carried with him a small length of rope which he would tie into different knots over and over again. Chaff liked to whistle; different tunes, but there was one he repeated often, which Peeta thought must be his favorite. When he asked, Chaff told him it was an old song the plantation workers used to sing in his district. Haymitch had pulled a knife out of his pack and he spent some time sharpening it before he went to bed.
Peeta wondered if that was what the Hunger Games did to a person: make sleep the enemy, and force them to come up with tricks to keep themselves from it. Considering every time he closed his eyes he was met with images of Katniss dying or being tortured, and that every time there was silence he could almost hear the disgusting crack of his hammer as it hit that Peacekeeper's head, he thought he might be headed in that very direction, even without the Games.
"So, why did you three have to leave the Watchtower?" he asked them, when the silence got to be too much. "You were the only ones who talked to me and Katniss when we were at the Training Center. Do you think they saw you coming down to meet us at the Avox quarters, is that it?" He knew there was a large network of surveillance in the building; they may not have any bugs in the Avox quarters, but they surely did in the hallways. "They must've thought that was suspicious."
"It's not unusual for former Victors to go down to the Avox quarters," came Chaff's voice from the bed below Finnick's. Peeta had known Chaff and Haymitch weren't asleep. It seemed Chaff wasn't in the mood to whistle anymore, but he knew from years of watching Haymitch make a fool of himself at the Reaping, that he snored loudly when he slept. The fact that he was quiet was a dead giveaway that he was still awake.
The reply confused him. "What for?" As far as he knew, each floor had a team assigned to them 24/7. Why would the mentors ever need to go downstairs? They always had at least two Avoxes on call if they ever needed anything.
Finnick seemed to find his confusion amusing. "Just think about it a little harder," he told him, one eyebrow raised as his mouth formed a half smile.
His tone was heavy with suggestion, and it gave Peeta pause. Surely he couldn't be implying...? And then Chaff more than made it clear. "Avoxes are less than second-rate citizens for the Capitol. Doesn't matter what happens to them, and if they can keep their Victors... entertained, well, one less thing Snow has to bother with."
Peeta felt that churn of disgust in his gut, which, sadly, he had grown entirely too familiar with since coming to the Capitol. Just when he started to think their atrocities couldn't get any worse, he learned something even more appalling about them. How could these people be so evil? It wasn't enough to accuse these people of crimes they probably didn't even commit, it wasn't enough to brand them as traitors and even mutilate them as punishment, but they also used them as sexual playthings just because they could? It was revolting. Completely revolting.
Finnick looked up from his rope again, noticing Peeta's mood had gone down the drain. "It doesn't happen much these days. Not like it did when, say, your parents were young. I haven't heard of it happening since I've been a Victor, at least," he clarified, probably just for Peeta's peace of mind. "But it was common enough that they wouldn't bat an eye at it now."
Peeta nodded. The fact that he hadn't spent the past two weeks making food for a bunch of rapists was hardly a relief at this point, but at least it was one less strike on his conscience. There was silence for a few minutes as he tried to swallow the bile that had risen to his throat, but then he remembered what he meant to ask originally. "So it doesn't matter if they saw you come down to the Avox quarters... but what about now?" he questioned. "I mean, you're supposed to be watching over your tributes. Won't they notice you're all gone?"
"We have these people, the same ones who put our propos on air. They can do this... computer thingamajig with the video feeds of the Watchtower," Chaff let him know, in a mumble. He clearly didn't understand much about the technological aspect of it, but then again Peeta wouldn't either. The most technologically advanced machine he had ever handled was the industrial mixer at the bakery, and even that was an ancient model by now. He didn't need the details.
"By the time they realize something's wrong, it'll be too late already," Chaff continued his explanation. "They'll know we're gone, but they won't be able to find us."
"Can they find the people who altered the video feeds, though?" Peeta asked, immediately worried. The Capitol wouldn't take lightly that someone had hacked into their system and used it against them. But they needed these guys for the propos. And more personally, he would feel awful if the Capitol cut their tongues out or killed them for something they did in order to cover for him.
A bark of rough laughter came from somewhere below him— more like a hack, really. Haymitch had decided to speak, after all. "The boy's not as dumb as he looks," came the usual mordant comment, disguising a somewhat surprised tone. Peeta rolled his eyes but otherwise said nothing. Coming from Haymitch, he would take "not dumb" as a compliment.
Chaff chuckled, but answered his question. "Not sure how it works, but they said they were... redirecting the signal..." Once again he seemed unsure of the terminology. "Or whatever it's called," he continued, "through District Three communications. If the Capitol tracks it back, they hit a dead end in Three."
"Wouldn't that put the people from Three in danger?" Peeta asked again.
"They're already in danger," Haymitch intervened again, this time without a trace of humor, cynical or not, in his voice. "The government's already taken measures against Three. They've started fighting back." Peeta was surprised to hear this. He knew, in theory, what the rebels intended with the propos they were airing, but he hadn't really expected it to work; not so soon, at least.
Haymitch kept silent for a moment before continuing. "If the Capitol thinks they're behind this and pushes them even harder for it, it might be the tipping point from skirmish to full-on rebellion." He sounded more like he was talking to himself instead of to the others, like he was making plans, strategies, out loud instead of in his head.
That was another aspect of this rebellion he didn't like, Peeta concluded: this unscrupulous way of setting things in motion. He didn't think it was correct to knowingly put innocent people in danger just to stir up the rebellion they needed. The Capitol did not do things halfway: they would use force, everything they had, to quell the insurgence, and people would die. If the rebels used that for their own benefit, how were they any better than the Capitol?
He didn't like it, but unfortunately he couldn't stop it, either.
Next morning found Peeta, Haymitch and Finnick down in the training room, poring over a map of the arena. The two younger men listened attentively as Haymitch spoke. "We got moved here because this is the closest safe house they have to the arena," he said, fiddling with a ballpoint pen they'd found lying on the table. "Our mission is to get the surviving tributes out of there," he explained as he pinned a series of colored flags, each with a number ranging from 1 to 12, in different spots on the map.
Peeta's gaze snapped from the map to the older man so fast, he wondered if he could get whiplash from the motion. "Does that mean Seneca Crane's dead?" he asked, expectant. If he remembered correctly, Finnick had told Katniss they could only rescue the tributes once the Head Gamemaker was out of the picture. "Katniss did it?"
Haymitch paused in his task for a second, looked up at Peeta, and then continued pinning flags onto the map. "The squad accomplished their goal," he finally said, narrowing his eyes down at the paper as he examined it from corner to corner, like he was focusing hard on finding a specific location.
Relief flooded Peeta's body at the confirmation, like nothing he'd ever felt before. She'd done it. She did what they wanted her to do, and now it was up to him to get Prim to safety. That was the whole reason they came to the Capitol, and once that was done, it would be over. They'd be safe. She'd be safe. "When will I see her again?" he asked, eager. Hopeful.
Haymitch rolled his eyes and shook his head as he pinned the last flag. "One track mind," he muttered under his breath, though Peeta heard it clearly. "Let's focus on this mission first, alright?" he said, some derision in the question. "Now," he pointed down at the map, "these are the positions of the tributes as of last night." Peeta was glad to see the flag marked with a 12, which could only be Prim, was safely away from all the other tributes.
Haymitch circled the perimeter of the map with one finger. "The arena is surrounded on all sides by an invisible force field, as you already know," he said, looking at Finnick, who nodded. Then Haymitch turned to speak directly to Peeta. "Can't touch that unless you want to bounce back dead. No one goes in, no one goes out." He extended his hand over the whole map. "There's no force field underground, but all the tunnels beneath the arena are for the machinery. Too unsafe to use even if we could get to them."
"So how are we going to get in, then?" Peeta asked.
"The force field," Haymitch continued like Peeta hadn't even opened his mouth, "is set by the Gamemakers in the Control Room. It can only be controlled from one computer station. It's not hooked to any network. The field is divided into sections that they can turn off individually when they need their hovercraft to pick up a body. We have a man in the Control Room who has access to that computer."
"One of the Gamemakers is a rebel?" Peeta asked, stupefied. He never could have imagined how far up the rebels' reach went.
"That's why we needed Seneca Crane out of the way," Finnick expanded upon the baker's question when it became clear Haymitch wasn't going to bother. "So our spy could take his place."
"Your inside man is the new Head Gamemaker?" Peeta's eyes grew even wider, which he didn't think was possible.
"That's what he just said, boy!" Haymitch barked at him, clearly not in a very patient mood. "Keep up, will ya?" He shook his head. "As I was saying, sections of the force field can be turned off by the Gamemakers. But we can't do that; not unless we want our spy to get caught red-handed and shot."
"We also need people in the districts to see this happening," Finnick added a second factor they had to take into consideration. "If we went in through a hole in the force field, the Gamemakers would notice straight away and the cameras would cut away from it immediately. But they won't cut away from the tributes doing something interesting, so whatever we do to open the force field has to come from inside the arena."
"How do we do that?" Peeta asked.
"The field isn't perfect," Haymitch explained. "There's places where the sections overlap each other. Just a tiny little square, but it's visible to the eye. If you hit that little square with enough energy, you can blow out the whole thing." He crossed his arms. "Our tech guy designed this... program," much like Chaff, he stumbled on the technical words, only Haymitch's stumbles always seemed more for effect than anything else, "that can replicate this error. Like a computer virus, kind of. Our Gamemaker will run that program on the computer that controls the force field, and it will make the little squares happen more often, so the tributes will know there's a force field there, and the other Gamemakers will think it's just a bug in the system."
"But how will the tributes know what to do?" Peeta questioned. He was trying really hard to understand all of this, but so many things needed to happen at the same time.
"Odair here was conditioning his kids to hit the force field," Haymitch said, signaling toward Finnick with his head. "Our guy made sure there was an electric cattle prod among the weapons at the Cornucopia. Finnick's boy will know to use it when the time comes."
"I can only hope Marlin paid attention," the Victor from Four mumbled, with a sigh.
"And how will we know when the time comes?" was Peeta's next logical question.
"Our Gamemaker will do something with the arena to try and get the most tributes together in the same area near the force field," Haymitch disclosed, and that made Peeta feel a little nervous. In the past, the Gamemakers' ways of bringing the tributes together had involved events like immense forest fires, earthquakes and floods. He hoped this person would choose a less dangerous method, considering they were trying to get these kids out of the arena alive. "He'll let us know some time in advance. When he does, we'll move just outside the arena." He picked up the pen and drew a big X where, Peeta assumed, they would be stationed when the time came. "And when the force field comes down, we get them out of there."
"In the mean time, we train," concluded Finnick, putting his hands inside his pants' pockets. "I hear you used to wrestle? This'll be a little different..."
"Yeah, but..." Peeta frowned, getting confused again. "Wait. Why do we need to train? I thought part of why we're doing things this way— with the computer virus and having the tributes take down the force field instead of us— is so the Capitol won't have time to react. Are we expecting a fight?"
Haymitch and Finnick shared a look. "There's always a chance that we might get caught," Haymitch confirmed gravely. "Never a bad thing to be prepared. Although, really," he shook his head in a subdued manner, "it's not just Peacekeepers we really have to worry about." That said, he dropped the pen back on the table and walked out of the room.
Peeta turned to Finnick, eyebrows raised in a silent inquiry. The other man simply patted him on the back and said: "Come on. Let's go get breakfast."
Over the course of the next two days, they trained from sun up to sun down. It was good to finally feel like he was doing something (filming the propo helped, but this actually made him feel like he had a purpose). Sometimes he got distracted, though; there were a couple human-shaped archery targets resting against the wall, and he knew Katniss must have used them when she stayed there. Every once in a while they'd catch his eye and he'd lose his focus, but usually he could pull himself together and get back to the training without catching much grief from the Victors.
He trained in weapons with Finnick; he came to learn he wasn't really suited for a trident (which Finnick thought was great, because Peeta didn't look half as good wielding one as he did), but he was fairly decent with a spear, and while he had the strength to use short-range weapons like rods and swords, he left key openings that could be used against him. They made a list of those; their mission at the arena would hopefully be quick enough that his would-be opponents wouldn't have time to notice and use them against him, but since they had no time to correct them, he had to at least be aware of them.
Peeta was starting to like Finnick. He reminded him of his older brothers, a little. On the one hand, he was annoyingly cocky and seemingly self-absorbed, like Crispen, only Crispen was a lot more malicious about it, while Finnick was mainly teasing. On the other hand there was a sense of life experience to him, which reminded him of Brith in the sense that he gave a lot of unsolicited advice; but where Brith always seemed to be far removed from his words, Peeta felt like there was a kind of wisdom behind Finnick's... at least every once in a while. Maybe the guy wasn't so bad after all.
He practiced hand-to-hand combat with Chaff. This he was better at, because of the wrestling he did in high school; he didn't have as many weak points and when they did find one, it was easier for him to correct it. Still, Chaff, even with almost three decades on him, was stronger and "had years of experience getting into brawls with drunken morons," so the score was mostly even between them. Peeta felt a bit chagrined that a man with one arm could beat him so easily, but he was a Victor after all.
Chaff was always a nice guy to talk to. He was boisterous and rough-edged, kind of like Haymitch, and he liked to tease and joke and push people's buttons for kicks, but he quickly realized Peeta wasn't a great target for teasing since he took it graciously, and decided to leave that to the other two. Between Haymitch and Finnick, Chaff had quickly settled into an "only sane man" position.
Haymitch and Chaff had an easy camaraderie, that was for sure. With Finnick as well, even though he was younger. It belied the fact that what was happening had been planned for a long time. It was surprising how well their strategies adapted to unforeseen circumstances. Like him.
"Can I ask you something?" he began that second afternoon, as he and Chaff took a break from sparring. He had sat down on a table that was against the wall, near the door. Chaff was standing near the center of the room, wiping the back of his neck with a towel. "Why am I here?"
"What do you mean?" asked Finnick from where he was sitting on the opposite side of the room, near the target practice dummies. He was lifting weights.
"Why am I a part of this mission?" he clarified, a slight crinkling in his brow underlining the idea that he was really curious about this. "I mean, I had to be out of the Training Center, but that doesn't mean I had to come on this mission with you. You could have chosen any other person to help you get the tributes out of the arena. Another Victor, or a soldier, or just anyone who's already been trained. Why me?"
Finnick turned to look at Chaff, like saying: "You take this one." The older man threw the sweaty towel over his shoulder. "Figured we'd give your sister-in-law a familiar face," he explained. "Those kids are scared. And they don't know we're coming, or what we want with them. Could get ugly down there. But that sister of yours, she trusts you... more of a chance of gettin' her out safe."
Peeta blanched as it finally dawned on him, what Haymitch had meant before: if they wanted to get the tributes out of the arena, they'd likely have to do it by force. "Plus, you're already as much of a household face in Panem as the rest of us are," Finnick pointed out. "If the cameras just happen to catch our entrance, it'll make more of an impact if they see you there."
Peeta frowned. He was reminded of something Katniss had told him the last time they spoke: They're using me, I know they are. And the same thing was happening here, they were using him as well, but at least Finnick and Chaff were decent enough to admit it.
The apprehension must've shown on his face, because Finnick spoke up again, quickly. "But hey, if it's your skills you're worried about, don't! You're doing great, for a baker from District Twelve. You've got your stuff, Peeta." He shrugged, looking amused. "I'm sure Chaff didn't mean to wipe the floor with you. Eight times."
Chaff guffawed. "Hell yeah, I did!" he exclaimed, laughing loudly.
Peeta chuckled a little, trying to make his smile come across as genuine, but couldn't muster up enough amusement for it. Instead he picked up a bottle of water from the floor and took a big gulp. He was just going to take a second one when the door opened. "I need you three upstairs," Haymitch stated as he poked his head in. "Got news."
And the news was: they'd be making their move the next day.
Aptly-titled chapter is aptly-titled, because this is basically nothing but exposition. LOLOL, I crack myself up. xD Okay, so this wasn't a very exciting chapter either, but there were some things you needed to know before stuff starts happening. Also, I had to let you all know Peeta's okay (for now, at least). Really, he's not the one you guys should be worried about... -coughcough-
Some notes about the chapter: In my head, the Training Center is only used for training; so when the Games start and the mentors have to monitor their charges 24/7, they do so from a building called "the Watchtower," which is much smaller and has a lot less Capitol staff in it. It's also where the Gamemaker Control Room is located. The idea of the Capitol using Avoxes as sexual playthings is something I wish wasn't part of my headcanon because it's so disgusting, but sadly, I really do think it happened. Also, the idea of Peeta being able to use a spear is a shout-out to the movie, of course.
I hope you enjoyed this surprise chapter! Chapter 30 is going slow, I've only got like four paragraphs written, but you guys were so awesome with your reviews last time, I had to give you all a little something. And yes, I know you're all glaring at me right now and going: "Seriously? She gives us Peeta's PoV but she still won't tell us what he said in his propo?!" I know, I know. But guess what: NEXT CHAPTER is the big reveal! You won't want to miss that one, folks. With some luck I'll be able to finish chapter 30 soon— I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to write during the flight to Europe. (Next Tuesday! Wish me luck!). In the meantime, please review! :)