Summary: It isn't supposed to be this way. Peeta's supposed to be here with her. But he's not—he may be dead for all she knows—and all she can do is sit with Finnick and wait. Slight Finniss.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything but I sure as hell wish I did because Finnick didn't deserve what he got.
When the news about Annie Cresta comes, Finnick seems to lose whatever sense of composure he had earlier when they got out of the arena. Katniss sees his eyes deaden, his mouth fall slightly agape, his tan cheeks lose their color, his whole body freeze with a sudden pallor.
"Not Annie," he screams from the medic room beside hers—she can hear him like she can hear Peeta's voice in her sleep—"Not Annie, not Annie, not Annie."
Prim is beside her when it happens. She asks the question Katniss is too terrified to voice when Plutarch Heavensbee finally calms Finnick down and pays Katniss a visit. "Who's Annie? What happened to her?"
"A victor from Four," says Heavensbee, looking grim. "She was captured from her district while the others were…" He trails off apologetically. "Well." And he leaves, casting a wary look over Katniss on his way out.
Every waking hour of Finnick's time, Katniss hears, is spent with choked sobs and clumsy hands that thrash into his surroundings. But she only barely manages to hear them at all. In her own room, she is too busy staring at the ceiling and thinking about what would have happened if she just stayed with Peeta—
That, or she is running through the ventilation shafts with her bare feet bruising and her hospital gown flying, and she is trying to tell herself that she knows who she is and she's alive and Peeta, Peeta, oh, Peeta, she hopes he's not dead because if he is then she is, too.
When she's a little more coherent and Finnick is a little more quiet, she seeks him out and he doesn't bother pushing her away. The world is cold and dim and metal otherwise, so she sits with him in his room as he fingers a photo of Annie until its edges are crumbling and his hands are scarred with paper cuts.
"Do you think they're alive?" Finnick asks her one day late into the night, when they're supposed to be asleep. This metal hole in the ground has a curfew, courtesy of President Alma Coin, but neither of them bother caring. Katniss has long since outgrown a bedtime and Finnick has had more of his share of nighttime escapades. "Do you think they're alive and waiting for us to come get them?"
"It would be better if they're dead," says Katniss, "than if they wait for us when we're trapped here."
Finnick stares at the photo in his hands until his eyes gloss over. Katniss is sure Finnick could sketch the portrait perfectly if he were blindfolded—Annie is that well engrained into his mind.
"We really messed up, didn't we, Katniss," he says, green eyes flitting to her and thin fingers trembling.
She knows exactly what he's talking about. At least he acknowledges that she's at fault, too, for not protecting her half when he didn't protect his. Peeta and Annie are both gone because they didn't try hard enough to protect them.
"Sometimes," continues Finnick, "I wish they were dead."
They could be.
"I wish they were all dead," he says.
It would make it easier.
He doesn't say anything for a long while after that, but his eyes trail her as she gets up from her spot beside him on his bed. "Katniss," he says finally.
He's the only person in this damn hole in the ground she can tolerate to say her name so often, other than Prim. Gale still calls her Catnip, and she doesn't have the heart to tell him that the nickname fits a girl that no longer exists.
Katniss nods once, letting him continue, and Finnick says, "If this finishes without either of us six feet under, will you stay with me?"
She doesn't even have to mull it over. In a world where Peeta and Annie are both gone, where Finnick is just as broken as she is, where he is water and she is fire, she knows that is how her life will turn out.
"You know I will," she tells him.
Over the course of the next week, Finnick gains some color back. He doesn't play with Annie's photo as often as he plays with a rope that has replaced his paper cuts with callouses. When Katniss points that out, Finnick says, "The picture's fading." The fact that his fingers have almost completely rubbed out Annie's face remains unsaid.
Her nightmares come with visions of Peeta and her waking days are with Prim helping her sit up in her bed. Her nights are with wide eyes and Finnick sitting on the edge of her mattress with his rope, telling her myths of mermaids in Four. "I thought Annie was a mermaid when I first saw her," he says to Katniss, because heaven forbid he not mention Annie every hour. "She was my tribute, of course. She looked like she came straight out of the water."
Katniss tries to think of myths from Twelve. Soon she figures out that thinking of Twelve is too painful, so instead she says, "Peeta decorated Prim's birthday cake after we came back from our first games," because heaven forbid she not mention Peeta every hour. They're both gone, but the memories help. "Her stupid cat got into it before he could even get past the front door."
Finnick smiles a bright, pearly smile, his eyes crinkling with what look like young wrinkles that are there to stay. He exhales a low chuckle. "When Annie won the games, I convinced her stylist to let me fix her hair for one of her stops on her Victory Tour."
Katniss smiles, too, though for her it's mostly a slight pull of lips and a downward gaze at her hands in her lap as Finnick unconsciously unknots and reknits his rope. "Every Monday morning, Peeta left a basket of fresh bread at our door. Prim would have something good to eat before she would head to school, even though we didn't really need the food."
"Annie and I would sit in the waves," says Finnick, his hands weaving the frayed ends of his rope together as he reminisces. "She'd pour the seawater over her head until all her hair was wet. Then she would dig her toes in the wet sand until it was all under her toenails."
Katniss curls toward him, one hand cushioning her cheek as she surveys his work on the rope. "I'm scared, Finnick," she says. Her other hand fiddles with the tiny pearl Peeta gave to her before all hell broke loose, something she's been doing for a long while. Finnick has his rope. For now, she has her marble.
These three words she's said to him, she won't dare tell that to anyone else, not when they haven't been through what they've been through. Finnick doesn't stop tying the rope, but he turns to look at her with green eyes that are sunken with lack of sleep. "I am, too," he tells her.
When another moment passes by and he's still watching her, eyes wide, Katniss realizes with a jolt that this is Finnick, not Finnick Odair, victor and crowning glory of the Capitol. This is Finnick, a man who has lost everything in his life. At least she still has Prim. He has all the more right to be scared.
"Katniss," comes Finnick's voice, "wake up."
Her eyes open to the dim hospital light. He's standing above her, rope in his hand, his face taut with tension. His hair is all over the place. Finnick looks nothing like Finnick.
"You were screaming," says Finnick. His voice is muted with the blood thrumming through her ears.
He's right; Katniss's throat is raw with pain. "Sorry," she rasps, sitting up. Finnick hands her water and keeps staring at her as she tries to bring the glass to her lips without shaking. She manages it, finally, and he pries the glass from her fingers as she blinks.
Finnick doesn't ask anything. He only stands patiently, fingers weaving through his deteriorating rope. Grateful for the silence, she takes the time to inhale and exhale deep, even breaths, feeling the frantic tempo of her heart slow.
"Tracker jackers," she murmurs finally, drawing a hand over her eyes. Finnick doesn't move as she breathes in again and repeats herself. "It was about tracker jackers."
"Mutts," says Finnick. She involuntarily moves to one side of her bed as he sits on the other. Finnick pulls both ends of his rope tightly until his knuckles turn white. "It's all about mutts with the Capitol, isn't it?"
"Everything's a mutt," she agrees, watching his fingers twirl around his rope.
"Tracker jackers," says Finnick, "jabberjays, the monkeys… even the people… they're all fake, unnatural." He turns to face her. A typical Finnick wink suddenly flies her way. "And I'm well acquainted with the people."
It's such a morbid, awful thing to say that Katniss manages to make a weird noise of amusement. "Thanks for making me feel better, Finnick."
"I'm just doing my job, Girl on Fire," he says to her. The mattress suddenly sinks and then there's a warmth sharing her bed. "You're the only real person here."
Katniss doesn't open her eyes. Finnick doesn't say anything else. But she's more than happy for the person sharing her lonely little space because, if only for a little while, she can pretend Peeta is back with her and protecting her from her nightly terrors, and maybe Finnick can shut his eyes and dream of Annie, safe and sound.
When news comes that Peeta's still alive, Katniss barely dares to hope. When news comes that he, Johanna, and Annie have been rescued from the Capitol, Katniss barely dares to breathe. When news comes that Peeta's been hijacked into a mutt meant to kill her, Katniss barely dares to cry.
When the last thing Finnick sets eyes on is Katniss, before his head is ripped from his body by a mutt, Katniss barely dares to feel.
Peeta is with her, of course, in the months and years following the deaths of Coin and Snow. He's never truly the same as the boy who saved her life with the bread. And Cinna, her first friend from the Capitol, her first friend in any regard as part of those games—he has long since died protecting her. Finnick, dear Finnick, is not six feet under like he promised. Somewhere in the deep sewers is his severed head, eyes forever open at the sight of her and Annie and Mags and hell, even his son whom he never met. Prim, her sister, the only person she was ever certain she loved, is gone. Gale is gone because he did it to her.
Katniss doesn't cry for Finnick. She cries for Peeta and for Annie because they are all so broken.
Good LORD that was depressing.
I'm not looking forward to part 2 of Mockingjay, actually. Can we skip it? Can we pretend Peeta gets better, Snow has a heart attack, and Coin is somehow murdered by Johanna? Because please spare me and everyone else the pain of Finnick and Prim.
In a world where Peeta and Annie aren't here, Finnick and Katniss seem like the most obvious choice to me. Not even as a couple (although that is a guilty pleasure of mine). They are my ultimate best friend duo. And I feel like if Finnick had recovered a little bit and had managed to live past everything (along with Prim), he and Annie would have been a) the best parents, and b) the best people to spoil Prim to oblivion.
Someone hold me. Or review. How depressing.