This is a story that formed from a title that formed after reading Mockingjay (which I absolutely loved, by the way). The title turned into a general idea, which turned into this. I hope you enjoy, as always, comments are more than welcome.
Johan is pronounced Yoh-han – it's a German J.
Beetee knows it's his bomb the second he sees it used. No question about it; the implementation, the devastation, the aftermath – exactly as he and Gale had run over countless times in Special Weaponry. Honing their weapon to killing perfection.
The first thing he thinks when he sees it used is that he was right, as usual. It worked. Then he looks again, sees the target. Does a double take when he sees it's their own that are dead.
Even then, he feels more scared than guilty. Scared that his first thought wasn't remorse, as it should be, but simple satisfaction at a job well done. When he won his Games, he'd wondered what he was turning into. Now he wonders what he's become, and is glad no one is there to see him shiver.
After the fear turns into resignation – that's when he feels the guilt. It settles on him suddenly and merges in perfectly with all the rest of the guilt he already has. He learns to deal with it so much quicker than he did after his Games, and that scares him again.
He justifies it so that he'll be able to live with himself. This guilt is more abstract than the Games guilt because this time he didn't press the button. It isn't the technology, it's how it's used. He just created it. He didn't use it. This isn't as personal.
The reasoning falls weak, though. He created the bomb so that it could be used in war, knowing full well just how much loss of life it would create. Coin reminds him of this when he goes to speak to her about her use of the bomb.
Beetee doesn't press the point, even though he never meant the bomb to be used on civilians, no matter whether the were Capitol or Rebel. Self preservation is key for the moment, so that he can try to stop a warped ideal from worsening.
He'll never know exactly why Coin used it. A final blow against Snow to ensure that everyone was firmly on her side. To get rid of the Girl on Fire, or at least to have her where she can control her.
Pity it failed.
When Katniss gets back he avoids her; he knows Gale does too. No one wants to be the one to light another spark and incur the wrath of a very angry Mockingjay.
He avoids her for other reasons, too. Seeing the look on her face reminds him that every one of the hundreds killed has a grieving family. Reminds him that they were more than statistics.
Because that's the thing about war – it dehumanises people. In war times you stop thinking of your opponents as human and start thinking of them as numbers, targets, models on a board. Anything but what they really are.
It's only once the war is over and the cleanup begun that you realise how similar you were to your enemy. That's when the guilt begins.
Of course, it's far too late by then.
They say that there are only seven Victors left. Beetee refuses to believe it. Doesn't want to. Wiress is dead, he can accept that. He saw her die. But Johan? Marchessa? The other two District Three Victors are far too smart to not find an out.
They have to be.
When no one else knows what you've been through, the Victors form your family.
Wiress and he were incredibly close, in a purely platonic way. It was just the two of them for a decade before Marchessa won her Games, and something like that forms a lasting bond. She was bursting with ideas but wasn't able to express them properly. They all learned how to fill in the gaps she couldn't put to words, but Beetee better than all of them simply because he has (had) known her the longest.
Johan (is? Was? He doesn't know) the youngest of the four. He was the only one to bring a non-Victor into their little circle of houses in District Three's Victors Village. Mac fits right in with the rest of them, and while Beetee can't really judge, the two females say they can easily see what Johan sees in him.
Not many outside of District Three know that Johan's gay. He doesn't mind telling people but doesn't bring it up unless they ask. His reasoning is that specifically stating his sexuality leaves more room for prejudice than if he just treats it as normal. None of the others go around telling people that they're straight, do they?
Marchessa is (because really, she of all people would have found a way to stay alive) small, cynical, and chillingly intelligent. She's arrogant about her abilities to the point of alienating all those she believes beneath her because of their alleged idiocy, but the arrogance is often not without reason. Frustration with her situation grew fast on her; she is closed off and slightly distant with the others, but she is still one of them.
Beetee knows she was spying for the Capitol. He also knows it's nothing personal – Marchessa's too jaded and bitter to believe in the ideology like the other three did, and had been through too much to let morals get in the way of self preservation.
Seeing what Coin's been doing, he's beginning to think maybe her cynicism was right. The Capitol and District Thirteen are really only two sides of the same coin.
Beetee instantly votes no for Coin's idea of another Hunger Games. He joined up to the Rebellion for ideological reasons – if they start another Games, then they're just as bad as the Capitol. Worse than the Capitol, even. Snow is many things, but at least he's not a hypocrite.
He loses the vote.
Johanna's was predictable – the girl is more eaten up with anger and bitterness than anyone he's ever seen. Enobaria's, too. Haymitch is more of a stretch but he can't truthfully say he didn't see it coming.
But Katniss? Really? After losing her sister to President Coin, she's just going to let the president steamroll all ideals they stood for even more? He thought she was smarter than that.
Katniss shoots Coin.
Beetee has never been happier to be proven wrong, and then scared at himself again. Coin might have been as much a monster as Snow, but she was still human, and her death is still one life lost. Sometimes it seems as though the bloodshed will never end. Worse, it seems as though soon no one will care about it. Life comes cheap, after all.
After Coin dies, things erupt into chaos. Some call for Katniss to be killed; Beetee speaks in her trial.
This time, he wins the vote. The Girl on Fire lives to fight another day.
Now comes the task of cleaning up after the war. Paylor is installed in temporary capacity as the President of New Panem. Plutarch buries himself in books trying to figure out exactly how democracy worked and adapting it for modern usage.
Beetee goes home to District Three and finds it empty. He is met by an angry and grieving Mac who throws as many insults as he can onto the oldest District Three Victor. Johan is indeed dead, and Beetee accepts the black eye and broken glasses Mac gives him without comment. He would have liked to save him, too.
Over time Mac loses his anger towards Beetee, but maintains it towards the world in general. He doesn't know which side killed Johan and he doesn't care. All he knows is that he's gone.
There's no sign of Marchessa, though. Beetee takes it as a sign that she was indeed smart enough to get out of there and is now lying low.
Time passes. District Three fills again and begins to recover, although no one will forget the toll the war had on one of the quickest Districts to rebel.
A monument to all the casualties from the war is erected in the main square. A smaller one is also erected for all those dead in Seventy Five years of Hunger Games.
Lest we forget, reads the plaque.
Months after the Rebellion, official elections are held. Paylor wins again. Dates are set for another set of elections in three years time. The rebuilding of Panem is well underway, but completed buildings can't fill the gap left by all those dead from the war.
A month after the elections, Beetee is called into the Capitol. He leaves with a shiny new title: Official Scientific Advisor to the President. His first act is to destroy the nuclear weapons still in District Thirteen, and only keep a few copies of the instructions for making them.
There will be no more bloodshed, not on his watch.