Pairing: implied Haymitch/Maysilee
Warnings: canon character death
Word Count: 825
One more year. One more Games. One more pair of losers.
Every year it's the same. He can't run from it, ever. His time in the arena will always haunt him. Because the Capitol likes it that way.
No amount of alcohol can help this time of year. Normally, he can drown out the memories, avoid the flashbacks with a bottle. But at Game time, there's no escaping it, even in drink.
And, because he's the only victor from District 12, he's forced to watch his victory again each year, as a way of preparing his "victors" – well, District 12's excuse for victors. And then he'd watch them die in the arena each year, each one as much his fault as the boys and girls he'd killed 24 years ago.
But none of them means as much as she did.
Watching the highlights once again, listening to the gasps of the boy and watching the girl's fists curl and uncurl. She's a fighter, at least. Maybe she stands a chance.
The Fiftieth Hunger Games, the Second Quarter Quell; when the Capitol sent twice as many kids to the arena as usual.
The odds were not in his favor.
He made the right "friends" – allied himself with the stronger the non-Careers. For whatever reason, they all took the alliance very seriously, and most of them ended up dying saving his ass.
He shakes his head, forcing the thoughts from his mind. No, I can't think about it now. Objectivity. Objectivity. For once he had a fighter, and the boy had all ready expressed his plan to bring her home, whatever it took. Only one tribute comes home, and they all knew if it'd be one of the two, the girl would be the victor.
She's gritting her teeth now, which makes him look up at the screen once more. Mistake.
Gifts from the Capitol, promised by the voice in the sky. Things each alliance desperately needed. But what did they need?
He looked around at everyone, but they were all staring at him. He was sitting on the ground, in the shade below a tree. It was far too hot there, and they'd been running a lot. He was having trouble catching his breath, but he was trying to ignore it, or at least hide it.
"You have asthma, don't you?" Maysilee asked him kindly, kneeling beside him and taking his hand.
He nodded, unable to form words.
"Shh, it's all right," she whispered. "You're safe. I'll take care of you."
He recognized her from school. She was from District 12. She'd always seemed so sweet, innocent, kind – she didn't belong in an arena.
He watched her stand up, and she and the three remaining members of their alliance huddled together a little ways off, whispering. They thought he couldn't hear them, but he forced himself to take deep, quiet breaths so he could barely make out what they were saying:
"The gift from the Capitol is probably asthma medicine," Maysilee explained quietly. "If he doesn't get some soon, his lungs will close and he will die."
"It's a Cornucopia, Mays," the boy from District 8 whispered in return. "We can't go in there."
"He's right; anyone who goes in there isn't coming out," a girl chimed in. Haymitch never had caught her name or District number.
"…I'll go," Maysilee offered.
"Haymitch? Are you all right?" The girl's talking to me; snap out of it.
"Yeah, fine," he answers, shaking his head.
"How did you win?" she asks. "The tapes don't show very much."
"That's because most of our year got cut from the tapes. Half the kids there died in the first two hours. Then there was a lot of nothing while we formed four sets of alliances. But the Cornucopia killed a lot of kids."
"The Capitol didn't like that nothing was happening, so they offered gifts for each alliance in one area. They called it a Feast. Each alliance needed something desperately, but to get that thing before another alliance took it, you had to fight for it. Only one of our alliance went to the Cornucopia… She managed to stumble back with the medicine after she was stabbed, but she died in my arms."
"Someone in your alliance needed medicine? Why didn't your mentor send it?"
"District 12 didn't have mentors then. And even if we did, no one sponsored us."
"…Wait, did you need the medicine?" the boy asks.
"Maysilee, what happened?" District 8 asked.
"Stabbed," she gasped. "Here," she added, handing the small backpack to the District 10 boy. "Help him," she begged, collapsing on the ground.
After he'd finally caught his breath, Haymitch crawled over to Maysilee. "Thank you," he whispered, tears in his eyes.
"Was…worth…it," she breathed. "You better…win."
He took her hand in his and brought it up to his lips. As the light went out in her eyes, he whispered, "I will. I promise."