|The Undiscovered Country
Author: Miss Yvonne Hartman PM
Smallville/Hunger Games AU: The escort moves across the stage to the Reaping ball that holds the girl's names. Thousands of slips of paper. I think, pray, beg: don't let it be me or Megan or Jamie. But these wishes don't ever come true do they? Because the name that echoes around the square is "Tess Mercer!" ... Tollie, Lexana, Clois. Now COMPLETE.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Friendship - Tess M. & Oliver Q. - Chapters: 18 - Words: 48,404 - Reviews: 74 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 12-10-12 - Published: 10-06-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8585242
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Undiscovered Country
The escort moves across the stage to the Reaping ball that holds the girl's names. Thousands of slips of paper. I think, pray, beg: don't let it be me or Megan or Jamie. But these wishes don't ever come true do they? Because the name that echoes around the square is "Tess Mercer!" ... Tess is reaped for the 72nd Annual Hunger Games. Tollie, Lexana, Clois.
Not mine, all rights to Suzanne Collins and DC Comics.
AN: It's another violent chapter with a Strong T rating.
Also! I asked if anyone could spot the Katniss Everdeen reference in chapter 12, sadly no one did - "we wrapped it (the fish) in Arrowhead leaves and set it on hot coals to bake" - Arrowhead, Sagittaria, is also known as Katniss, and is a waterbased plant with arrow shaped leaves, white flowers with three petals and edible roots.
Chapter 13 – Broken Sunlight
The next morning we try to come up with a plan to take out the other Tributes. I'm erring towards the idea of drowning them all. I don't know how, but it would be the least bloody way to get the job done. Emil and I can swim like fish and I can easily hide Alexander somewhere safe until it is over. I'm trying to think of what's been done in previous Hunger Games, the boy from Three who electrocuted the Arena featuring prominently in my mind. But we don't have wire and Chloe, with her brainy knowledge of electronics, is gone. Emil suggests making enough noise to attract the Tributes and then we ambush them. I'm trying to not think about the arithmetic involved in determining our odds of survival on that. I hate math. In District Four our learning in school always comes back to fish. If Jane has seven fish and Paul has three, how many fish does Isaac have? When I was younger, I answered with 'technically they have no fish because they had to give them to the Capitol.' Eight years on and I still remember the beating I got in front of the entire class.
By lunchtime we still have no plan.
"Is it just me, or is it really dark today?" Emil asked as we ate more out of the hamper. I looked up at the sky, filling with dark clouds.
"No, it looks like it might rain." I say. I push another serving of food towards Alexander. "Eat, sweetie." I tell him. He belches loudly and laughs. Twelve year olds, charming.
I will never live to have children of my own. Not that I actually ever wanted kids, considering the shape our world is in, but the finality of it all is depressing. I know Oliver would be a good father but I just can't see myself as a mother. I couldn't condemn a child to live in fear of the Arena.
The day is heating up quickly, the Gamemakers clearly holding off on the idea of rain in favour for turning the Arena into a desert, and when we finish breakfast I leave the boys so I can take a dip in the lake. I stay in the shallows, my sword close at hand as I undressed at top speed and got into the water. Nudity is not really a problem in the Games and they're either editing me out or admiring what's left of my curves so it's win-win either way. My ribs and hips stick out under my skin, I've been shivering the weight off over the time spent in the Arena in spite of the relatively consistent meals. I relish in the peaceful moment I have to wash the sweat and dirt off my skin, taking stock of the grazes I need to tend to when I get back to camp. Since it's scorching hot now I wash my clothes as well and lay them on a rock where they steam and dry in ten minutes. It's so quiet here. I sit still and watch inquisitive fish dart around my toes in the clear water. A bird whistles and the breeze moves the bulrushes at the water's edge.
Clean and dry, I redress and tie my damp, dark red hair back in its pony tail and return to camp. Alexander looks thrilled to see me and runs up to hug me. "Guess what, there's a mulberry tree." He grins toothily. I smile back, brushing his gingery curls back from his forehead.
"Yep, really." Emil hoists his pack onto his back and holds out mine. I slip it onto my shoulders and we walk the short distance to the tree, blooming with plump dark mulberries.
"It's beautiful." I say with faint disbelief at the magnificence of the tree. "Are you sure it's safe?" I looked to Emil.
He shrugs, "I feel fine. We had a few while you were in the lake. Washing. Such a girl."
I aim a kick at him, "Forgive me for not wanting smell! Such a boy!" I tease and we laugh, play wrestling for Alexander's amusement. I let Emil think he's going to win for half a second and his premature triumph lets me lock him into an arm bar.
"Ow. Ow. Ow!" he squirmed. "Ok, you win. You're not a girl." He must have winked at Alexander or something because the kid starts laughing. "Tess is a boy!"
"So mature." I roll my eyes and flip Emil so he's pinned underneath my knees. "Come on. Didn't they teach you this at the Academy? I thought all the boys knew how to fight properly." I mock when he shows little chance of escaping. "Or did they actually let two girls from District Four in the Hunger Games this year? Are they even allowed to do that?"
"They taught us a few things." And then the world spins and I'm flat on my stomach, arm pinned behind me, his free hand over my face. Well this is annoying! With a sly grin I lick the back of his hand and spring free when he jerks back in disgust, rolling over my shoulder and coming up on my feet.
"And that's how we do it in District Four!" I say proudly, while Alexander cheers for me and Emil wipes my spit off on his pant leg. "You had it coming." I tell him and give him a hug which he returns, lifting me off my feet.
"You fight good, Tess, but dirty. I hope I don't get rabies." He jokes while I throw my jacket on top of my pack, much too hot now, and take a drink of water. I debate taking off the tank top underneath my shirt when Alexander comes up, holding out a handful of mulberries.
I haven't tasted mulberries since I was little, when my father would take me to the tree on the outskirts of the District that grew tall for years until Peacekeepers cut it down. It's not long before our mouths and fingers are stained a deep purple. I find I'm actually laughing. After all the horrors we've been through, we have a plan and a purpose. And this perfect, perfect day. Emil lifts Alexander up so he can reach the fruits on the higher branches and we make up a silly game where he throws them down and we get points if we can catch the ripe berries in our mouths. For the first time since the Games started we have full stomachs and these delicious berries that taste so good. I hold a branch above my head, turning slowly in the broken sunlight made by the leaves.
Everything goes quiet, heavy footfalls on the hard ground are breaking through our perfect moment. I dive for my knives before I register anything else, knowing that this could only be an attack.
Lois, her hair a matted mess, eyes wild. Gone is the beautiful girl in her interview dress, the strong Tribute in her cape of red and blue. She licks her cracked lips. She's operating alone, there's no sign of Clark, but even still I know Emil is looking through the trees for him, his spear in hand.
"Alexander, Run!" I shove the boy away blindly, hoping he has the good sense to climb up the tree. I'm too far from my sword, I have more knives near my pack, if I could only get to them. I know if I take my eyes off Lois she will attack like a rabid dog. I don't have time to make a strategy, I shout for Emil as Lois springs at me.
We go down with a crash, I throw as many punches as I can, locking my legs around her head to try and belt her skull into the earth. I manage this only once as she breaks free, dazed but deadly. Her elbow hits my throat, crushing and hurting as I struggle for breath. And then I see she has a knife in her hand and I throw myself out of the way, swinging my own knife in response, trying to hit some part of her, enough to slow her down so I can deliver the death blow. At this close range I see her eyes and in the dark brown is reflected the same thing that's spinning through my veins - Fear.
Deep, desperate fear.
I almost pity her, but Lois kicks me in the stomach and, gasping for breath, I land on my knees with a bony crunch, my cry for Emil's help getting stuck in my throat.
Lois shouts out something and I see Alexander has launched himself at her and is clinging onto her back, a rock in his hand. But he's so tiny compared to her, the Career who never wanted for food or attention or training, and she throws him off and her hand slashes the air as he falls back. I'm still struggling to get off the ground and back into the fight. Emil hauls me up and we fight her off, back to back.
Everything is too fast, my blood pounds in my ears, Lois gets a punch in the mouth from Emil and blood and teeth go flying. Emil sees his moment and grabs her by the throat. I close my eyes tight.
When I open my eyes, Lois lies dead on the ground, her eyes blank and wide open, reflecting dark versions of the clouds above. Emil doesn't say a word, he grabs her body and storms into the woods. I try to catch my breath, taking in the gashes and scratches the battle has left on me, the long slash on my forearm that is slowly filling with red.
Alexander's voice is weak and fragile and my blood runs cold in an instant. Something is wrong. I rush to his side, already knowing that I am too late, but it doesn't stop me from trying to staunch the blood that blooms like vivid roses across his torso, wadding up my t-shirt to use as a bandage. Numbness sweeps over me as I take his hand. "I'm here, baby."
He looks so scared, his eyes searching for me until he can focus on my face and blink. "Tess?"
"You're ok." I say, smoothing his hair away from his forehead. "It's alright, I'm here. EMIL!" I call for him, "EMIL!" I hear him return and his soft, 'oh no.'
"Quickly, my bag… we can… we can save him…" I say, my voice sounding odd and distorted in my ears. He doesn't move from my side, kneeling down instead.
"It's too late, Tess."
I punch Emil hard in the mouth. Shove him away from us. I know it's no use, but I have to try something. I'm hoping for a parachute, for a miracle.
Alexander holds my hand tightly. Above us a bird sings and the breeze rustles the leaves in the mulberry tree. Everything was so quiet. "I love you, Tess."
"I love you too." I whisper, and I mean it, I love him as much as I love Megan. I want to tell him that I'll make everything ok. I want so desperately, to make everything ok. But it's a promise I can't possibly keep.
"Tell me a story. I don't… I'm so scared…"
I search through my mind for something, anything to ease Alexander's fear and pain. I have no idea where to start, trying to think of stories my mother would tell me when I was little, or the one's Megan loved. And then I suddenly knew the story, one my mother used to tell me, from before the first Hunger Games had even been thought of.
"All children, except one, grow up. They soon know they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew, was this…"
Alexander's breathing slowed but I kept going, telling him a story about a boy who never grew up, who lived in a wonderful land and battled pirates and had amazing adventures. The cannon sounded and I broke down completely, hugging him to my chest, my lips pressed to his forehead. Emil put his arms around me, trying to pull me away but I couldn't move. I was frozen beside Alexander's body, locked in grief that was so painful my body ached and my head spun.
"Tess…" Emil put his hand on my arm. I couldn't look at him, my eyes squeezed shut from crying. "Tess, they need to take his body."
I opened my eyes, blinking back the tears. I know, Emil, I try to say but nothing comes out of my mouth except a pitiful moan. I covered Alexander with my jacket, tucking it in like it was a blanket around him, and ran my hand over his hair again. He's gone. He's gone. It echoes in my mind but I can't believe it.
"Come on, Tess." Emil pulled at my arm again, turning me away.
Eventually I am aware that Emil has helped me to my feet and swung me into his arms, carrying me away even though I kick and scream and cry. He doesn't understand that I don't want to leave Alexander! I can't leave him alone, not here, I want to wash the blood off his face and kiss his downy soft cheek one last time. I keep screaming for him, as the Arena takes the burden of his death and Emil, oh Emil, belts me hard in the side of the head so everything goes black.
Lois Lane, District Two
Alexander, District Twelve
AN: I'm so sorry! I'm sorry Alexander! I'm sorry Tess! I'm sorry dear readers.
You didn't think Tess would start singing "How Do We Do" did you? If it isn't immediately obvious, she's retelling J.M Barrie's "Peter Pan".