=== Dio Walkhouse, District 1's Male Tribute ===
The skies of District 1 were filled with a thick cloudy fog on the morning of the Reaping. Dio Walkhouse was sat alone in his living room, looking in the mirror while the rest of his family slept peacefully upstairs. He thought about how much he'd grown in the last few years, both physically and emotionally. Dio liked looking in the mirror, not because he was vain or anything like that, but just because he found that it was a good way for him to reflect on the past. He enjoyed taking in all the little details on his face and observing how his appearance would change slightly every few months.
Dio knew he didn't really look like your typical Career. But he liked that about himself - he liked to be different, to stand out from the crowd a little more. While most male Careers had a very masculine look to them, Dio is proud to look far more androgynous. He likes feeling confident enough in himself that he can wear whatever he feels like wearing without fear of being judged or appearing 'weak'. His favourite feature is definitely his hair though, by far. His hair was the feature that made him somewhat well-known in District 1 - naturally straight, a gorgeous light brown colour, and flowing down his back to the centre of his shoulder blades. Knowing that his hair is one of his defining features, he always makes sure he takes excellent care of it - he spends hours every week washing and brushing it, to make sure it still had the appealing healthy look to it.
On the little white table beside him, a pair of small silver scissors lay waiting. He picked them up, having already decided he would give his hair a little trim before the Reaping, just to make sure he was looking his absolute best for the cameras. The District 1 Reapings were always popular with the Capitol, and who knows how many sponsors would be watching and trying to pick early favourites? Slowly and carefully, he neatened up the ends of his hair, making sure it was all perfectly even and neat. Then, with a childlike grin forming on his face, Dio did a little hair toss, enjoying the feeling of his long hair flying through the air.
In the past, some of the kids in the Career Academy had teased him for his unusually long flowing hair, but he payed them no mind. After all, he had always been one of the top boys in his class, ever since he was enrolled at a young age. However, Dio unfortunately hadn't been the very best this year. That honour went to his longtime best friend and rival, Kyanite. The two had both enrolled at the Career Academy when they were young. Kyanite's parents shared the same values as Dio's - their son must win at all costs, to bring a great honour to their family name. From the start, they'd been inseparable, always fighting together, training hard, and pushing each other to be better. It was a close call between the two boys, but in the end, Kyanite was chosen to volunteer this year. Dio had been gutted, but also happy for his best friend - and he'd always have another chance to be chosen next year when he turned 18. Until everything changed just a month ago. He remembered how Kyanite had collapsed at his feet after an intense training session, and then how he began to sob, confessing everything that had been going through his mind for months.
"I can't do this anymore, Dio," Kyanite had said through the tears.
"What do you mean?" Dio had asked, kneeling down beside his friend and reaching a hand out to him.
"I can't be the chosen volunteer," replied Kyanite quickly, taking Dio's hand and holding it. "I don't know if this is what I want anymore."
"But why?" said Dio, worried for his friend. "This is what we've been training our whole lives for. This is the dream!"
Kyanite had then fallen silent for a second, the tears still dripping from his face. He then looked up at Dio, his eyes filled with fear and uncertainty.
"I don't want people to see me as a monster," said Kyanite quietly, softer than Dio had ever heard him speak before. "You know my little sister, how much I love her. She's only 14, and there'll be kids younger than her in there. I don't think I have it in me to harm any of them. They're children, not dummies or mannequins like we've practised with. I feel like I'm a puppet to everybody in my life, like nobody actually cares about what I want."
Dio's mouth dropped open slightly at his friend's words. Was this really true? Was his only purpose in life to entertain thousands of people who really didn't give a damn whether he lived or died? Kyanite's beliefs were starting to get into Dio's head, so when he went home he decided he would talk it over with his parents. This had been a mistake - Dio's parents hadn't reacted well at all. His mother fell silent, shocked to hear her own son saying such things. His father had exploded.
"Being a Victor is the highest honour a person could ever hope to achieve!" Dio's father had shouted angrily, slamming his fists down onto the table. "Kyanite is delusional!"
A knock at the door brought Dio back to the present day. He got up, putting the scissors back down on the table, and opened the door. He was relieved to see it was Kyanite - and his friend was carrying a bouquet of flowers.
"Here," Kyanite said, thrusting the flowers into Dio's arms. "For your big day!"
"Kyanite!" hissed Dio urgently. "My parents might see!"
"You haven't told them yet?" said Kyanite, confused. "They don't know you're going to volunteer in my place?"
"Nope," said Dio, frowning. "They'd probably get mad at me again, since I'd be disobeying the Academy's system."
"I really appreciate that you'd do this for me, Dio," said Kyanite slowly. "But I'm worried."
"Worried?" asked Dio.
"What if you don't come home?" asked Kyanite, his voice filled with worry.
Dio went silent for a second, not wanting to consider that possibility. Without warning, Kyanite lunged forward, pulling Dio into a tight hug.
"Don't you dare die," replied Kyanite, as Dio's eyes widened in surprise at the sudden gesture.
"I'll come home," Dio said quietly. "I promise."
=== Demeter 'Demi' Seoh, District 1's Female Tribute ===
"Demi," came an annoyingly loud voice, disturbing Demeter Seoh from her sleep.
"Demeter," persisted the voice, and Demi felt a man's hand touch her shoulder, gently shaking her.
"Leave me alone," croaked Demi, wanting to sleep more.
"The Reaping is starting in less than an hour, Demi," said the man calmly. "I'd hate for all your training to go to waste."
Demi sat up in bed, glancing across at the muscular man sat beside her. For a second, she was surprised. How had she ended up sleeping with her instructor from the Career Academy? Then a coy smile came across her face. Of course. Nobody could resist her, why would her instructor be any different?
"You're looking nice today," said her instructor. "The Capitol will love you!"
Of course they would. There was no doubt about it - Demi would be the most beautiful Tribute the Capitol had ever seen. The sponsors would fall over each other trying to send her stuff, and she could barely hold back a smile as she thought about it. She got up quickly, grabbing her Reaping Outfit from her wardrobe. Stripping naked in front of her instructor without hesitation, she pulled the skimpy black dress over her body, feeling the dangerously thin fabric hug her skin and emphasise her best parts. Surely nobody would be able to resist her!
"You'll be teamed up with Kyanite for these Games," informed Demi's instructor. "He's good, but not as good as you."
Demi smiled. Of course, she was the best and she knew it. Her plan for the Games would be to try and get into a relationship with her District Partner, which would cause the sponsors to fall in love with her even more. Plus, she'd get some kisses and cuddles in the Arena, which was something that made her feel powerful. Ever since her mother had chosen some man over her own daughter, Demi had craved validation, and she loves to get attention from both guys and girls.
"Want me to come with you?" offered the instructor kindly.
"Nah," said Demi simply. "I want some time alone."
Looking like a wounded puppy, Demi's instructor frowned and left her room. She heard her door shut a few moments later. Much as she hated rejecting people, the short time before the Reaping was some time she wanted to spend alone. She slid her black boots on, and then applied a fresh coat of dark red lipstick. As she got up to leave, she left a gentle kiss on the mirror. When she came back from the Games, she would remember that mirror kiss, and remember how nervous she was feeling. Of course, Demi didn't want to show any of that nervousness, because she had to appear like she always did - confident, flirtacious and irresistable.
The walk to the Reaping Building was one Demi was familiar with - when the Hunger Games weren't on, the big hall was used as a training room for the Career Academy. She passed a group of 13 or 14 year old kids on her way, and she wondered if they knew she was the selected volunteer, top of her class. She felt several people stare at her as she walked, their eyes wandering all over her perfect body.
In almost no time at all, Demi was having her thumbprint scanned by a Peacekeeper, and walking into the 18F section of the Reaping Hall. Surrounded by other girls her age, Demi felt a little threatened. These girls could volunteer at any second if she wasn't fast enough. She tried to push the thought out of her mind. Demi had been top of her class, naturally. Of course she'd be the one volunteering. She had been chosen after all. She couldn't be replaced. Demi believed she was one of a kind - unbelievably beautiful, but also deadly vicious. A hum of quiet chatter hung over the hall, the majority of the District 1 children filled with excitement to meet this year's volunteers. Demi felt proud, honoured to have been selected out of so many. She held her head a little higher and took a deep breath in.
Some screechy, echoing feedback from the microphone announced to the Reaping Hall that the Reaping was about to begin. On the stage stood the District 1 Escort, Catalina Terevan, with her iconic candyfloss pink wig making her look about two feet taller. After playing the Capitol propaganda video that Demi had proudly learned word for word, Catalina stepped towards the two bowls containing the names of the District 1 Females.
"Ladies first!" said Catalina cheerfully. "Nicole D-"
"I VOLUNTEER!" shrieked Demi before Catalina had even had time to finish. "I volunteer as Tribute!"
"Very well," laughed Catalina, pleased to see such an eager Tribute. "Come up onto the stage, my dear!"
Demi stepped out from the flock of 18 year olds and marched up towards the stage. All around her, Demi could hear cheers of admiration and excitement. Knowing just what she had to do to please them, she waved, making sure she blew a kiss right at the cameras, where the citizens of the Capitol would be eagerly watching. She winked and waved at a few more people as she walked up to the stage, where she grasped the manicured hand of Catalina who helped her up onto the stage.
"We have a beautiful Female Volunteer!" said Catalina. "Tell me, what's your name?"
"Demeter Seoh," replied Demi, trying not to let her voice shake with excitement. "But I prefer Demi, you know?"
Demi finished with a cheeky wink, and then Catalina headed over to the Male bowl. Demi breathed a sigh of relief. She'd done it - she'd volunteered! She would be bringing home the glory for her District in the 90th Annual Hunger Games! Now all that was left for her to do was to meet her District Partner, her ally. And she knew exactly who'd be volunteering - Kyanite. She knew he was not very attractive, but she'd heard his personality made up for his not-so-perfect looks. It didn't make a difference to Demi - if they were attractive, she'd hook up with them. If they weren't attractive, they'd make her look 100 times prettier for her adoring fans.
"Evan Jolie," announced Catalina.
"I volunteer!" came an unfamiliar voice.
Demi scanned the crowd to see who the voice belonged to. She knew what Kyanite sounded like, and it certainly wasn't like that. She'd just heard a voice of someone powerful, confident, and sexy, all in one. Another coy smile forming on her face, Demi tried to catch a glimpse of her District Partner. She could hear a few shouts of anger and disdain - this person had volunteered against the will of the Academy. She also heard lots of cheers of excitement. And then all of a sudden there he was, emerging from a sea of 17 year olds and walking right towards her. Demi noted that Dio had a fairly androgynous appearance - a full head of long, light brown hair, large green eyes filled with determination, a thin and straight nose, and full lips sporting a prominent cupid's bow. A gorgeous specimen of a man, decided Demi.
"A surprise volunteer, it seems!" said Catalina excitedly. "And what's the name of this young man?"
"Hey everybody," said Dio, with a surprising calmness to his voice. "I'm Dio Walkhouse!"
"Well, there we have it!" announced Catalina. "Our District One Tributes - Demeter Seoh and Dio Walkhouse! Give it up for Demi and Dio!"
Loud applause erupted from the crowd, and Demi waved back at them with a big smile on her face, not wanting to be distracted by Dio anymore. Seconds later, she was ushered away by Peacekeepers, and taken into her own room behind the stage. Demi sat down on the slightly lumpy sofa, wondering if anybody would come to visit her before the Games. She slid her hand into the pocket of her dress, pulling out a small coin. She clutched it in her hand, remembering when she was a little kid and used to visit that arcade every single day. It shut down years ago, but she kept the memories locked away in her mind, not wanting them to become tainted by her adolescence.
The door opened and Demi's instructor came in. He wordlessly sat next to her, gently pulling her onto his lap. She leaned in and kissed him, feeling their lips meet, tasting each other for a second. A fleeting moment passed and the two pulled apart. A quiet voice in the back of Demi's mind asked if she'd ever get to see him again.
"Remember your training, Demi," said her instructor authoritatively, resting a hand on her leg. "You're good enough to win this whole thing, and you'll haul so many sponsors in with that beautiful body and face of yours."
"Yep," smiled Demi confidently. "I got this. The other Tributes don't stand a chance against me!"
The Peacekeepers opened the door at this moment, pulling her instructor away from her, and she heard a voice say "Time's Up!", but she wasn't sure who it belonged to. She caught his eyes one last time and then sighed. Oh well. She'd probably forget him in a day or two anyway, but she was sure he'd spend months, perhaps even years pining over her. When she wins the Hunger Games, she plans to move to the Capitol anyway. There, she'd be able to live in complete luxury.
Only 23 Tributes stood in between her and a lifetime of riches and pleasure. She'd squash them like bugs.
A/N: Thank you so much to everybody who has left a review so far! I really appreciate all the kind words and constructive feedback. There are only three slots left, so make sure you head over to the SYOT verses Discord if you're wanting to submit a Tribute! discord. gg / mp9h3Ed