Beyond the Wasteland

Sent on a wild goose chase to find Snow's granddaughter, Haymitch becomes lost in the wastelands. There, he runs into Effie, who holds more answers than she knows.

Beyond the Wasteland

Chapter 1: Reset

The sun glared down on Haymitch's face as he felt drops of sweat run down his temples. He was dehydrating fast and his lack of motivation to get up wasn't helping the situation. When the revolution was over, he thought he would get some peace, then came the stress of Katniss' trial following Coin's death, but surely after that it had to be truly over. No such luck. They wanted another Hunger Games, yet the main piece was missing, Snow's granddaughter. He wasn't sure why the new president insisted so strongly on including him on the search mission. When the false flattery that hinted at bribery didn't work, Haymitch managed to obtain a version somewhat akin to the truth.

"Effie Trinket has gone missing along with Snow's granddaughter. We believe that she has joined her staff. You were familiar with her due to your respective positions and that might work to your advantage if you run into her. Plus I believe she might hold vital information related to hidden weapons. Snow's followers might be quiet now, but they are out there."

Haymitch was taken aback by the theory, though he tried not to show it. He didn't think Effie knew anything particularly vital. He had always thought of her as somewhat air-headed. He wondered if this wasn't about her, but him. Maybe president Raltoir wanted him gone, but what business could he have with a man who, if left to his own devices, was drunk most of the time?

Nothing made sense. Katniss couldn't be disturbed due to her mental health, according to the result of her trial, Peeta was helping her recover so he was left alone as well. Why couldn't Haymitch be left alone too? The mission had taken Haymitch and his team beyond the wilderness that surrounded Panem and into the desert wasteland beyond. Days turned to weeks and the hovercraft's occupants noticed too late that something in the atmosphere was eroding the equipment. A fatal crash followed.

Haymitch was among the few fortunate to come out of it with only minor injuries. The group continued on foot in the direction they hoped led back to civilization and one by one they died. In the drowsy haze that entrapped him, Haymitch vaguely recalled sitting down to rest and not wanting to get up. Having fallen prey to a mirage, several of his companions hurried ahead, others following mindlessly. Haymitch wouldn't be surprised if they were all dead by now. Taking a breath that felt like it could be his final, Haymitch resigned himself to his fate. No one was coming for him and he would die sober.

"Eek!" A high pitched squeal rung in his ears, but he paid it no mind, his attention instead focused on the weight on top of his tired form. If not for the fact that it didn't make sense, Haymitch would have thought someone tripped over him. "Oh my..." A gasp was let out close to his face and the weight was swiftly lifted.

Rapid breathing near hyperventilation echoed close by and all those sensations, illogical as they were, felt so real that Haymitch forced himself to open his eyes. A shadow came over him, blocking the bright desert sun and allowing him to see the outline of a woman on her knees, parasol in hand. She stared at him bewildered and softly acknowledged, "he's alive..."

The woman rose to her full height, moving away the blissful shadow of the parasol. "Help!" She called loudly. Words were exchanged between the woman and a male voice, but Haymitch was too tired to make them out. "Oh no, no, no! Don't die, help is on the way!" The woman insisted, once again leaning over him.

As his consciousness faded away, one word of recognition escaped Haymitch's lips, "Effie..."

xoxox xox xoxox

Instead of waking with a start as he usually did, Haymitch woke slowly. His sense of hearing began exploring his surroundings before his eyes opened. A feminine voice was humming a cheerful tune as its owner went about the room. He felt her draw near his bedside and opened his eyes suddenly.

Startled, the woman gasped and dropped the cool wet cloth she intended to place on his forehead. Haymitch grunted in response and she quickly picked up the cloth. "I do not like being startled," she pouted. Then she proceeded to neatly fold the cloth again and placed it on his forehead as she intended. "Well, I think that some introductions are in order," she smiled. "I am-"

"Effie," Haymitch interrupted.

"Pardon?" He tried to get up, but she pushed him down. "No, no, you mustn't get up yet, you need your rest," she insisted in a sing-song voice.

"Where are we?" Haymitch asked, preventing any sense of alarm from showing in his tone.

"I was getting to that," the woman breathe. "Introductions first, I am Alicia Lunar, and you are?"

"Alicia?" Haymitch echoed in confusion. She didn't have her elaborate makeup and costume, but this woman was certainly Effie Trinket, he was sure of it.

"Yes, yes," she nodded, her voice covered in the bubbly cheer that characterized her, at least before the quarter quell's announcement dampened her spirit. This was a true cheer cloaked in the blissful ignorance that embraced her existence for so long. This Effie knew no hardships or heartache, at least not in the way she knew them when she gave him the gold bangle that Haymitch would soon after pass on to Finnick. "Now it's your turn to introduce yourself," she smiled brightly.

"Haymitch Abernathy," he replied simply, his eyes searching her face.

The woman who called herself Alicia, but was most certainly Effie, shifted uncomfortably under the scrutiny. "Well," she let an awkward breath and occupied a chair at his bed-side. "Finding you has been the most interesting event in months," she voiced conversationally. Haymitch did not reply, confused by the way she was acting and her apparent inability to recognize him. She shifted, her face tinting red in a mixture of embarrassment and annoyance. "I do wish you wouldn't stare."

"What the hell's going on, Effie?" Haymitch snapped.

Effie gasped, appalled. "Language!" She scolded. The only door connected to the small room of bronze colored metal opened with a screeching sound. "Oh," she turned her head towards the new arrival. "Mercurio, look, our guest has woken up!"

The man called Mercurio refused to look at either of them, choosing instead to face the far wall. The wall itself was bare, the room holding no windows or decorations. It was occupied only by a bed, a table, one chair next to it and the other occupied by Effie next to the bed. "You should have left him where you found him."

Effie fumed, jumping to her feet, "nonsense! I couldn't abandon this poor man."

"He's your responsibility," the man glared over at Haymitch, meeting his eyes for the first time. He was tall, muscular, dark skinned, bald, with stunningly icy eyes, the blue orbs standing out on his stern features. He was in his early thirties, and could have been considered somewhat handsome, if not for his less than friendly attitude. Mercurio left swiftly, holding no interest in further interacting with the guest.

Effie sat down again, waving her hand in dismissal at the door. "Don't mind him, he's unfriendly, but manageable." Smiling wide, as if trying to make an impression of Cesar Flickerman, Effie continued her interrogation. "Where are you from, Haymitch?"

"Cut the crap," he snarled.

Effie glared, "you are quite rude. May I remind you that I saved your life! Why, if I had not decided to look over that hill to see if the traders were any closer to arrival, no one would have seen you!" She snapped, then went on a tangent about the importance of punctuality.

Haymitch huffed and closed his eyes. "Alicia," he was certain she was Effie. She lacked her colorful wig, her strawberry blond hair falling to her shoulders. She wasn't wearing heavy makeup, her face completely clean, but she was Effie. He had known her long enough to recognize her in any costume, or lack thereof, and with every word she spoke the belief that this woman was indeed Effie Trinket became firmer in his mind. Yet she refused to acknowledge that, so for now he would play her game.

"Yes?" She prompted, expecting an apology.

"Where are we?" Haymitch inquired, he might as well get the basics out of the way first.

Effie frowned, then without smiling any more she replied, "Lunar."

"That's this place?" Haymitch asked in confusion, didn't she claim that as her surname?

"Yes, that is the name of our caravan," Effie confirmed.

"Caravan?" Haymitch echoed.

"Yes," Effie continued, the look in her eyes seeming to pity his apparent stupidity.

"What does that mean?" He asked.

She stared, annoyed at first, then guilty upon discovering that he truly didn't know. That look in his eyes was one of real confusion. She bit her lip, feeling bad for thinking of him as being of a lesser intellect by ignorance of the obvious. 'I knew far less when I woke up after the accident,' she silently reminded herself. 'Although I was much more polite.' Finally she elaborated, "we are traders, Lunar is a fruit farm. Speaking of, you must be hungry." She nodded towards the drip attached to his arm, "that is hardly food." She got up and paused at the door to assure him, "I'll be right back."

Finding himself alone, Haymitch considered his situation, finding more questions than answers. The door screeched open again, but instead of Effie, it was Mercurio who returned. "You from Panem?" He growled.

"Where else?" Haymitch knew he was pushing his luck, but replied with sarcasm anyway.

Mercurio glared, "Panem doesn't exist, it's only a legend. Do you understand?"

Haymitch considered for a moment and his better judgment won out, at least partially. "Understood," he nonchalantly pretended to sleep.

The act was interrupted by a hand to his throat that gripped so tightly he thought his neck would break. "Panem does not exist," Mercurio growled.

The telltale screeching of the door was heard and Mercurio released Haymitch and straightened. By the time Effie managed to get the door open fully while balancing a food tray, the suspicious scene was gone. "Mercurio?" She blinked in surprise.

"Just having a little chat with our guest," Mercurio forced a smile, but Effie didn't seem to notice its falsehood.

"Lovely," she smiled, assuming the two men had made peace in her absence. Mercurio exited the room and Effie was once again alone with Haymitch. "I'm glad you two are friends." She made her was over to Haymitch as he sat up and removed the drip. "Oh..."

"What? I don't need it anymore," Haymitch pointed out.

"I guess not," Effie let it go. She carefully set the tray on his lap. "What do you think?" There was a large bowl with various fruits arranged in a pattern and a glass of a pale red liquid. "I made it myself."

"What a talented chef," though it was sarcasm, Effie took it as a compliment, his past rudeness forgiven. No one ever appreciated her fruit arrangements, so this was a welcomed change.

"I wish I had fabric to make that pattern on a dress," Effie sighed longingly. "I'd have to sew too, but how hard can it be?" Much harder than she thought, probably. "I don't like the plain clothes they trade around here." She looked down at her plain black pants, boots and white long sleeve shirt. She added a pink scarf around her neck, but it was all she could find to add in way of color.

Haymitch didn't care about the pattern formed by the fruits, but he knew that if he was going to get to the bottom of this mystery, he would have to play along, at least for the time being. "Effie... I mean Alice," he tried to sound as pleasant as possible after he had finished his meal. "Could you maybe show me around?"

Effie grinned in delight, ignoring his apparent name confusion. "Oh yes!" She was filled with pure glee. "I would love to give you the grand tour!" She sprang to the door, then thought better of it. "When you recover enough to go."

"I'm well enough right now, sweetheart," Haymitch got to his feet, his stomach twisting uncomfortably. It wasn't the meal or the gentle swaying of the room, which he only now concluded wasn't just in his head. This was a different feeling, it was as if he had been thrown into the Hunger Games all over again.

To be Continued

This was requested by a friend, though the request was simply a story staring Haymitch and Effie, I threw them into a twist of drama and adventure. If you've concluded Effie has amnesia, you're right. She's not going to be without her memories for the whole story, but for now she knows nothing of her past life and believes a false story, though she is still the same person. To clarify, she has not been hijacked like Peeta was, she doesn't have false memories, she lacks her memories, believes in the past she was told was hers and tries to act accordingly to who she is supposed to be... but it's not easy. I know the concept isn't fully explained yet, but what do you think so far? I'll be elaborating on the details in the next chapter as Haymitch learns more about his situation. Comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Also, do you want this to be a pairing story or just a friendship sort of thing? I'm open to go either way. Katniss and Peeta may be here later if you want to see them. I know all the secrets of this story, but I'm flexible about how we can discover them, so if there's anything you want to see, let me know.