Rhea Storme, District Two, Victor of the Nineteenth Hunger Games (Age 19)

I woke up feeling like I'd spent the night deprived of air and somehow lived. My mouth was too dry to describe, my heart pounded, and the slightest bit of movement hurt. My head pounded. The breaths I could take were shallow and unfulfilling. I felt disgusting. I swore I saw them again.

The Victors I'd spoken to only ever mentioned the perks of surviving the arena. Fame, money, what everyone saw. I believe they would discuss more than these things if they weren't always watched. Our only privacy was within our minds.

One boy, Ty, left the arena a madman. That or he just wasn't good at hiding it as the others. It took four weeks until he was deemed acceptable to go on television, and six until he could interact with his adoring admirers on tour. His story wasn't too disturbing, he only killed his runner up and that was really only more to end the kid's misery. Most of the other Victors couldn't say the same.

And I wish I died back there I wish I died back there I wish I-

Shut up. Shut up. You lived and wishing you were dead would do no good.

I see their faces so often now, almost a year after I left. You'd think I'd gradually get better but they won't stop haunting me. Even the ones I didn't kill, the ones Ruby or Luxe or Caelus did. I could have let them escape, I could have told the other Careers to work on collecting food or water in the bloodbath. Later on, though, there was nothing I could have done but the little ugly voices insisted otherwise.

And the ones I did kill. Their names always are echoing through my mind and I've found myself not being able to forget who they were.

I killed a girl when she was thirteen, how sick am I? One boy had a small brother at home who thought he'd win but he didn't. All because of me. They weren't the only ones but they were the least gruesome and the ones I could think about without nearly throwing up.

All these heartbroken families because I trained to win. All these lives I cut short.

This was what I'd been raised to want but that doesn't excuse a thing, I still fucking killed people.

In an attempt to distract myself even for a split second, I looked up at the clock. Half past one PM. Had I really slept that long? How late was I out last night?

I'd spent the past few days in the Capitol, as past winners were encouraged to reunite with the public a few weeks before the Reapings. They say it's to hype the audiences up but I think the civilians like being able to say they associate with Victors. But the high class parties could become too much. Although I wasn't technically old enough to drink nobody really saw themselves as entitled to stop me and I often ended up dunk. I barely remembered what I did last night.

At this point I'd controlled my breathing and the ache of my arms had died down some, but I needed water. I couldn't move well. Without anything to distract me (which usually ended badly) I rang the bell that notified a maid to assist me.

"What do you need, miss?" A girl I recognized as Stacey opened the door to my room with a smile. "We can have breakfast ready for you in ten minutes."

I felt like shit and had no desire to eat. "No thank you, just water please." My voice was so hoarse, speaking caused a dull but scratchy pain. It was hard to tell whether I was sick or just severely hungover. Ever since the Victory Tour ended I spent most of my time in bed with some ailment.

Stacey's eyebrows lifted slightly. "Of course." She departed and returned with a glass, setting it on the table to my left.

"You have an interview this evening at six o'clock, ma'am." She reminded me as I drank the water. It soothed my throat. "Just so the public can get caught up with you. How you've been doing. The audience is small, you mustn't worry.

I groaned a bit. "How soon will Minnie need me?"

Stacey responded sharply, "Precisely three o'clock. You'll be escorted to your usual dressing room."

"Alright. Thank you." I dismissed her with a wave.

"And then Cicero said, 'I had a good feeling about her from the start'! Imagine that! One of the top stylists in all of Panem not only knows me and likes my work but was rooting for my tribute!"

Minnie was a sweet girl and I didn't mean to seem haughty but her constant talking proved there was a thin line between endearment and annoyance. Her outfits were always gorgeous: after all, District Two was one of the most popular districts and needed a good stylist, but I always found it difficult dealing with loud people.

I had already been washed, scrubbed, and waxed, and now she was onto my makeup. My skin burned but not terribly. I was used to it at this point and it faded quickly. I was standing on top of a short platform surrounded by tools that looked more like they were meant for dissecting an animal than beauty. Almost everything was either stark white, blue, or silver.

"It's so crazy having a Victor, you know? I knew you since you were just an ordinary girl and now you're a household name!"

It's not that great when you are the Victor, just when you're their friend.

She was spreading a thick foundation all over my face. It felt like a mask. Before the Games all I'd ever wear was eyeshadow, mascara, and a bit of concealer. "You've gotten more tan since I've last seen you. Two full shades darker." It was probably all the outdoor social events now the weather was nice.

"Are you going to say anything?" Minnie asked as she blended it.

I blinked. "Yeah?"

She washed her hands off. "You seem a bit out of it. Everything okay?"

I shrugged, looking down in shame. I was too young for it to be socially acceptable for me to have alcohol. "I'm kind of hungover."

"Rhea Storme! You go to a party well aware you have to speak in front of Panem the next day and begin to drink? The only reason you get away with it is because of your status!"

I considered arguing that I had long forgotten I had an interview but that would only be met with more disapproval. Besides, I didn't feel that bad. The maids had given me some relief pills so my headache was dull if not nonexistent. I was just zoned out.

"I'm sorry, but I feel fine. Or at least less dead than I did when I woke up. Can you just keep doing my makeup?"

She continued. Once my skin was up to par she applied a heavy coat of golden brown eyeshadow and dark liner. My lips were painted cherry red. She did my curly hair up in a partial knot scattered with jewels. It was pretty, I'll admit. As annoying as she was, she had a talent.

"Your carelessness is going to be the death of you." She scowled and I couldn't tell if she meant it as a joke or not.

"I won the Hunger Games." I argued. It was easier when I made it funny. And also, I made a lot of dumb, impulsive decisions during the Games, I just got lucky with them. So maybe she wasn't wrong and one day I'd run out of luck. "It'll take a lot more than that to kill me."

Minnie added one last diamond to my hair. "Then it'll be your ego." I couldn't think of an argument that wouldn't further prove her point so I instead asked, "So what will I wear?" I was nervous. I trusted her but I couldn't help it.

She clasped her hands together. "Give me a second." She ran into a back room and emerged holding a sleek, classy black gown.

Thank God. Not hideous, not too extravagant. If it were there's no way I'd win an argument with her.

I took off the simple white clothes I always had my makeup and hair done in and put on the black dress. It was knee length and made of a shimmering velvet. "Thank you, Minnie. It's lovely." I smiled, trying to seem nice. I'd spent most of my childhood training so that left me with almost no social skills and the only experience I had was with Capitol citizens.

"You're welcome, dear. But don't make a fool of yourself. We all still remember your first interview." I cringed. I was so scared the night before the games I could barely speak and I was shaking. I was visibly green. It led to my district partner making fun of me after, and also probably most of Panem. The only reason anyone sponsored me is because I earned a nine in training.

"I won't." I didn't have as much pressure this time around.

"Okay, good luck out there."

I bounced my leg as I sat backstage. Adonis Flickerman was introducing himself to the audience (he'd been at this for a decade, they already knew who he was) and preparing for my entrance.

"The Reapings are only in two weeks from today, two weeks. We'll figure out which twenty-four young people will bravely represent their districts in the twentieth Hunger Games. It seems like last year was only yesterday, and we wanted to bring back last year's Victor to get ourselves thrilled for this year's Games. Ladies and gentlemen, Rhea Storme!"

I strode out to the stage and blinked in the spotlights. The audience just looked like a dark mass. A dark mass that was making lots of noise. I fake-beamed as I took my seat next to Adonis. His hair was a sickly green.

"Rhea, I'm so glad to finally see you again! How have you been?"

I looked out at the crowd, which was coming more into focus. I saw Minnie in the front row giving me a thumbs-up.

"I'm good, I'm good. I've enjoyed my time here at the Capitol." I was so awkward it made me feel sick. What was wrong with me?

"Oh come on, we all know that." He winked at me, which I found disgusting since he was probably at least forty. Still, the crowd cheered. "What else?"

I paused for a moment. Being out here made me hyper-aware of what I was doing at all times. "Well, besides the Capitol parties, I've been spending a lot of time overseeing the District Two training. Doing anything I can do so my District brings home another Victor." I flashed a smile. God, if my stage persona was another person I'd fucking hate her.

"That's what I love about District Two, folks. They don't just provide our Peacekeepers, weaponry, and masonry," He was probably saying this to remind everyone that the Districts served a purpose other than being poor, "they give us some of our best tributes!"

Adonis' interviews were usually like this but this whole thing just felt like a big, cheesy commercial.

I kept smiling. "That's right."

"Are you excited to become a mentor? I'd guess you already know your tributes!"

I shook my head. "I'm excited but the training leaders don't let anyone know. I have some ideas but the whole process is very secretive."

Adonis replied, "Well, now I'm sure we won't be disappointed if you've got their back. I'm not going to lie, I was disappointed in your first interview, but your performance in the arena was something else!" The crowd went wild and I forced a grin.

It's weird how I can literally kill children and they'll see me as a hero. I'm used to it but it really makes me think.

"Thank you."

"If you were to go back into the Games, what would you do differently? Additionally, what advice would you give to any potential tributes out there watching us right now?"

I thought for a moment about which answer would appeal the most to the Capitol.

"I'd honestly focus more on survival skills. Sure, my alliance was successful last year, but we would've starved if someone took our food supply. I'd also make a smaller alliance. More likely to stay under the radar." This was all bullshit, I would've been fine if we ran out of food and if I hadn't been forced to by my District partner I'd play it solo.

"And advice to tributes: there are nineteen Hunger Games. You can probably buy some tapes at a market. Do that, and observe how the Victors made it this far. Watch the tributes who died and learn their mistakes. History repeats itself, especially in the arena." I sounded pretentious but I needed something.

"Very wise. You're a smart girl, Rhea."

"Thanks." I crossed my legs and looked around. I felt more at ease. "I'm excited for this year. It should be entertaining."

"It will, trust me." Adonis smiled knowingly.

AN: Hi everybody! Thank you so much for reading. I've decided to write a SYOT to have something to do and get back into writing. Unfortunately, my depression has gotten really awful over the past year so I haven't had any motivation to do anything. I'm trying to lift myself back up, especially for when school starts. However, I might update inconsistently or forget, so please be patient! You're also free to remind me! The rules and form are on my profile. Please submit tributes only through PM. Again, thank you!