This is for CareersFTW, who reminded me I said I would post it and wanted Glimmer's POV again - thanks for reviewing Beauty of Freedom too ;)
It's been months since I wrote this one so I know Thresh is...a bit more verbose than he should be to keep him strictly in character. I said they met three times and this is the third - as ever, don't just blame me for this pairing, blame Gethsemane as well (*waves to Geth if she's there*)
I can honestly say that I have never been so glad to leave a place in all my life as I am to leave this stage, and it is all I can do to make myself slowly lead the procession of tributes down the steps with my back straight and my head held high when really all I want to do is run and hide.
"Get a grip on yourself, Glimmer, for Panem's sake," I hiss under my breath to myself furiously as I make my way to the lifts. After all, what have I got to be ashamed of? Enough people have told me how beautiful I am to make me believe that what they say is true, that I am beautiful, on the outside at least. It is not shame I feel though, well not entirely anyway. It is rage and anger that I feel more than any other emotion. What right do these people have to treat me like this? Like little more than an animal, that is how I feel, and what is worse is that is exactly how I believe they see me.
Before today I would never have thought a simple piece of fabric could make me feel so degraded, so cheap. I think I would almost have preferred it if they had sent me onto that stage completely naked. At least there would have been some level of honesty involved then.
As soon as I am out of sight of the cameras I cross my arms tightly across my barely covered chest, something I have had to force myself not to do from the second my stupid stylist told me that this was all the costume I would be getting when I had asked him where the rest of my dress was with a disgraceful hint of desperation in my voice. I stride quickly across the entranceway of the Training Centre, pushing various Avoxes and Capitol minions out of my way so I don't have to stop until I reach the back wall of the nearest lift. I stare at the blank wall, gritting my teeth and trying to achieve what has been a physical impossibility all evening and relax.
"We meet again, Capitol-girl," sounds a deep voice behind me.
I turn around to see him, the man from District Eleven who has haunted my dreams since the night of the Opening Ceremony, standing there blocking the lift doors, his almost black eyes once more looking like they can see through my body and right into my soul.
"Consorting with Careers," I reply acidly, shaking my head in taunting disapproval. "What would the population of District Eleven say if they could see you now?"
He doesn't answer me, but takes another step into the lift, reaching out to push the buttons for Levels One and Eleven. It is then I realise I had been so intent on escaping that I had forgotten to press the lift button and wouldn't have gone anywhere quickly. I mentally berate myself when I see from the very slight smirk on his face that it didn't escape his notice either.
"You didn't say much in your interview," I say, unable to bear the charged silence between us as the doors slide closed.
"What's the point? They want to watch me die, no more, no less. I don't think they care much if I can talk."
I turn to face him, and I smile to myself when I find myself wishing I had been dressed by his stylist. He wears a simple white shirt and dark brown trousers, and I get the impression that his clothes are a Capitol version of what he would wear every day when he went to work in the orchards of District Eleven, not that I would know much about that.
"I don't think I'd have got away with saying so little."
He looks at me then, really looks at me, before shaking his head, more to himself than to me. "I don't think they cared what you said, Capitol-girl," he says, his voice slightly teasing as his eyes don't leave me for a second.
I forget everything else but the fact that this poor and uneducated man thinks he has the right to mock me, and I cross the lift in two paces, stopping just in front of him before I remember how much taller he is than me and that I have to look up to meet his eyes.
"It worked though, didn't it? I'll have more sponsors than anyone," I snap, attempting to make him believe I had been happy with my support team's approach to the interview all along.
He reaches out and grips my upper arms, moving far more quickly than someone of his size should be able to, holding me away from him and scrutinising me intently. I soon realise that he is watching my face too, trying to detect a sign that I'm not as comfortable with my outfit as I would have him believe. I have never felt like this before, but I suppose this must be what being embarrassed feels like and I don't like it one bit.
"Let me go. Now." I say, my voice full of command, which, as I should have predicted, he promptly ignores.
"Are you saying a man like me from a lowly place like District Eleven isn't worthy of looking at you, O Great One?" he says, deliberately imitating my voice and words so he sounds nothing like his usual self.
"What if I am?" I reply, regretting my words as soon as they leave my mouth.
He pushes me away and I stumble back slightly, having become accustomed to his hands supporting me. I open my mouth to speak again when the lift suddenly stops. My first thought is that we have reached Level One but the doors don't slide open like they normally do.
I walk over to them, brushing past him as I do. He doesn't step back to allow me past. The button for my level is still illuminated and when I push the doors they don't move. This can't be happening. Why me? It is as if the Capitol people know how much I want to go to my room and change, to wash away the memory of tonight. They are probably filming me and having a good laugh at my expense. At that thought I bang my fists against the doors, pushing all of the buttons for the different levels and crying out with anger when nothing works. Then I look across and see him leaning against the wall of the lift, casually watching me lose my temper.
"Do you want to stay in here forever?" I snap. "Maybe you could at least try to move the doors?"
"I will if you will," he replies, definitely smirking this time as he answers my first question before moving on to the second. "What's the point? It's stuck. We're not going anywhere."
I sigh and lean back against the wall next to him, acknowledging that he has a point however much I resent it.
"They'll make it move. Nothing 'll happen to us, the cameras aren't rolling," he continues dryly.
I look up at him as we stand in silence, not regretting what I told him that day after training. I don't want him to join the Career Alliance. I can't bear the thought of watching him fall and ending up on the kill list of a pathetic little boy like Marvel, not that I think for a second that my arrogant and vindictive district partner could kill him. It would probably be Marvel who would come off the worst in that particular confrontation, and I am surprised by how happy that thought makes me feel.
"Are you scared?"
"To be stuck in a lift with you? Doubt it, Capitol-girl."
I lash out and hit his shoulder before I realise what I'm doing but when he looks back at me there is no hate in his eyes. He probably didn't even feel me touch him. "I meant of tomorrow," I clarify, my voice a lot quieter this time.
"Anyone who says they're not is a fool or a liar, Glimmer," he says, calling me by my name for the first time tonight. "But I can't change what happened. We're for the arena tomorrow. Being scared won't make it stop."
I slide my back down the wall of the lift to sit on the floor, tucking my knees under my chin in a rather pointless attempt to preserve my modesty. When I look up to see him still standing and towering over me, I am annoyed with myself for being so relaxed in his presence. Tomorrow we will have to try to kill each other. I am a trained Career Tribute from a district that has long held a reputation for ruthlessness and aggression that is surpassed only by District Two and he is my enemy, so why am I behaving like this? With that thought I go to push myself back to my feet, only to stop before I stand when he drops down beside me.
"Kill me tomorrow, Glimmer. We're not enemies now. The Capitol servants won't thank you if they have to clean my blood from this nice lift."
I laugh at that, just quietly, and then we sit there, side by side, my almost white, unblemished hand resting next to his mahogany brown, calloused and scarred one on the floor between us, sitting in silence until the lift whirs back to life and the bell rings to signal our arrival at Level One.
We both stand as the doors open and I look back at him as I walk away, knowing that the next time I see him will probably be the last time, for it will be from my metal podium as the Games start in the morning. I want to speak but I don't know what to say, and before I can think of something the doors of the lift slide closed again and he vanishes from my sight.
The last thing I feel as I drift into an uneasy sleep later that night is guilt not fear. Guilt at how despite all the kindness that Gloss has shown me and everything else besides, when I closed my eyes it was not his face that I saw, it was not him who I thought of but a man who will most likely die tomorrow. I find it ironic that I have so little faith in the intelligence of my other mentor, for it was Cashmere who told me that it is human nature to always desire the one you can't have above any other.