This was originally going to happen in Frayed, in the second scene (before the airing of the propo and Peeta's warning of the attack on Thirteen) until I realized that Beetee stays in Special Weaponry the entire time. I liked the character interactions too much to get rid of it completely, though.
"Afternoon, Finnick." Beetee pressed a couple buttons and his wheelchair swiveled and rolled over to where Finnick stood in the doorway of Special Weaponry. "Come to play with your trident?"
Finnick grinned. "Don't tempt me." The glossy black weapon was not only a marvel of aesthetic design, but packed with every conceivable type of technology from voice recognition to heat-seeking sensors – and still miraculously maintained the balance and handling abilities that Finnick expected from a less complicated weapon. "Actually, I'm here to take you to Command. Apparently there's some new propos or something."
"Or something?" Beetee's eyes twinkled behind his glasses. "Finnick, if I'm right – and I think I am – I've found the Capitol feed."
"Serious?" Finnick's eyes opened wide, and he grinned. "No way!"
"Now, don't get all excited," Beetee mock-grumbled, his wheelchair humming past Finnick. "I'm not a hundred percent sure…"
"Since when has that stopped you?" teased Finnick, taking the handles on the back of the chair and helping steer him out the doors and down the hallway.
Beetee snorted. "Kids these days," he said. "Always seem to think they're right."
"I'm twenty-four, Beetee," Finnick reminded him. "I'm hardly a kid."
"That's right." Beetee settled back meditatively in his chair. "I don't know, I keep thinking you're younger."
"Well, I've never acted my age…at least, that's what my dad used to tell me."
"No, it's not that…I don't know." They continued in silence, Beetee thinking, Finnick sober at the thought of Riley.
Continuation of the scene in Prelude to Destruction II, when Plutarch tells Squad 451 they won't really be fighting. It was cut because it wasn't really necessary and the chapter was long enough as it is.
Finnick balled his fists up in frustration. "What you're saying is, we won't be in actual combat," said Gale, eyebrows pulled together stormily.
"You will be in combat, but perhaps not always on the front line," said Plutarch. He was having a hard time meeting any of their eyes, especially Boggs'. Their commander looked about as friendly as a granite cliff. "If one can even isolate a front line in this type of war," Plutarch added in a futile attempt to mend matters somewhat.
"None of us wants that," said Finnick, frowning. The others backed him up with nods and mutters of agreement. "We're going to fight."
"You're going to be as useful to the war effort as possible," corrected Plutarch. Finnick immediately bridled at his tone: that of a parent reprimanding recalcitrant children. Who the hell was he to tell him what to do?
"And it's been decided that you are of the most value on television," continued Plutarch. "Just look at the effect Katniss had running around in that Mockingjay suit. Turned the whole rebellion around. Do you notice how she's the only one not complaining? It's because she understands the power of that screen."
Katniss was silent. That was odd. Finnick would have expected her to be one of the most vociferous in her complaints. "But it's not all pretend, is it?" she said. "That'd be a waste of talent."
Well, maybe more could be gained by false compliance than outright protestation. "Don't worry. You'll have plenty of real targets to hit," said Plutarch. "But don't get blown up. I've got enough on my plate without having to replace you. Now get to the Capitol and put on a good show."
Nodding to Boggs, he turned and left, his mincing steps as he tried to navigate the mud contrasting ludicrously with his bulk. But Finnick was in no mood to laugh – and neither was anyone else.
"They can't do this!" hissed Jackson the minute Plutarch was out of earshot. "Tell them they can't! They have no right to keep us from fighting."
Boggs sighed angrily, rubbing his face in one hand. "I'm afraid they do."
"No!" Leeg 1's outburst was accompanied by her sister's loud complaint of, "But that's not fair!"
"Who said life is fair?" snapped Boggs. "I don't call the shots here. The sh-t rolls downhill, so don't blame everything on me." He glared at them all for a moment, eight subdued, frustrated soldiers. "Well, if we're not actually fighting, there's no point continuing training. Dismissed."
It was a bitter remark, made out of his own anger rather than any practical reasoning. But it was clear no one was in any mood to keep training. Finnick moodily returned his gun to its rack, ejecting the unused cartridges and letting them fall back into their container with a metallic clatter.
Gale came up next to him, cursing steadily under his breath. "Bloody brilliant," he muttered savagely, slamming his gun into its spot. "Absolutely fandamntastic."
"Tell me about it," said Finnick.
"What's the point of any of this if we're not going to be fighting?" Gale demanded angrily. "What's the point of being the best damn sharpshooter in the entire army if I don't even get the chance to shoot at Snow?"
"They'll probably be giving him a public execution, anyway," said Finnick, starting his trek through the mire back to the trapdoor. "Make it all big and official…"
"And painless," said Gale, ire rankling in his tone. "Not long and drawn-out like it should be…"
His eyes met Finnick's, and understanding flashed between them. They both wanted Snow to pay personally for what he had done to their homes, their families, their loved ones….
Gale, during the rescue mission. Written just for the heck of it.
Gale pressed himself against the concrete wall, painfully aware of his harsh breathing in the dark hallway. Ahead of him, a clearly non-military personnel was passing –
Leaping out from hiding, Gale seized the man from behind, one gloved hand clamped firmly over his mouth, the other pressing the muzzle of his gun in between the man's shoulderblades.
"Which cell is occupied?" he hissed into the man's ear. Three plain, gray doors stood in front of them, but according to Intelligence, only one held a prisoner. The other two were booby traps.
The man swallowed convulsively, but didn't answer, though he was sweating like a pig. Gale pushed his gun harder into his back. "Tell me," he demanded. "Unless you want to be the guinea pig and find out."
Whimpering, the man jerked his head towards the right-hand cell. Gale dragged him over. "Open it," he snapped.
With trembling fingers, the man tapped a code into the nine-digit keypad. The metal door slid open, revealing a young woman huddled in the corner, her long brown hair her only covering. Gale only glanced at her to make sure it was Annie Cresta before shooting the man in the spine, the sound of the blast deadened by both a silencer and the man's flesh. Gale lowered him to the ground to avoid a thump (hand still clamped on his mouth) and shot him again in the head to be sure.
Grim task finished, he stepped away from the corpse. The woman in the cell watched him with wide blue-green eyes, visibly trembling. Though she was nude, the last thing Gale felt was desire – pity, rather. She was obviously someone fragile who needed to be protected.
"Miss Cresta?" he said, keeping his voice down, one hand stretched out towards her. She flinched away as he walked closer and crouched in front of her. His boots clumped on the metal floor. "Miss Cresta, it's all right. I'm here to rescue you." She only stared at him, arms crossed protectively in front of her chest.
"Here." Gale reached back and tugged the white coat off the man he had shot. "Put this on."
He tossed it to her, but it fell limply to the floor at her feet. She still hadn't taken her eyes off him, or stopped looking like a deer in headlights.
Gale sighed, tried again. "Miss Cresta, my name is Gale Hawthorne. I'm a soldier from District Thirteen, and I'm here to rescue you and take you back there." Still, no response. "Finnick is waiting for you there."
Her eyes opened even wider, eyelashes fluttering, and her eyes parted. "Finnick is there?" she gasped faintly.
Gale nodded, reaching a hand out to here. "He's there, and he's waiting," he said. "I promise. Now put the coat on, and let's go."
Slowly, she reached out and drew the fabric around her, pushing her arms through the sleeves, ignoring the blood that got smeared on her pale skin. But she made no move to stand.
"Oh, for Christ's sake." The schedule they were on was so tight it would keep out water. Gale didn't have time for this. Ignoring her gasp of protest, he picked Annie up and stood up with her grasped firmly in his arms, holding her slight weight easily.
And then a curious thing happened. As Gale hurried back to the rendezvous point, he found his shoulders instinctively and protectively hunching around the fail, trembling body he held, his hands becoming less grasping, more gentle. Suddenly he felt the overwhelming need to protect Annie Cresta, no matter what the cost. He supposed it was because of her own weakness. He'd never felt this way about Katniss.
Well, it's been one heck of a long fanfiction, but I like it. Thanks to everyone who commented, it really means a lot. And thanks for sticking with Finnick the entire way.