I stare up into the blue sky of the arena, imagining an invisible line that swoops over top of us, trapping us in this hell hole. That's what it feels like to be in an arena - trapped. But that doesn't mean that there isn't anything for us to do to save ourselves.
That is, of course, if you aren't me. I mean, sure, my death isn't guaranteed. If all goes as planned, we'll be saved before I'm blown to bits or cut to pieces. But if anything comes up, I need to be prepared to throw myself infront of death to protect Katniss Everdeen - to protect the Rebellion.
I glance over at her, and see her standing up. Peeta tries to get up with her, but she pushes him back down gently. "It's alright, Peeta. I'm just going to get some more water, and you need your rest. Finnick can come with me," she says. Then she glances up at me and something gleams in her eyes. Lust? Admiration? I wouldn't be surprised. She's only human, after all.
"Are you sure, Katniss?" he asks. I can tell straight away that this guy doesn't trust me alone with Katniss. His eyes keep flickering back to me, as if he's expecting me to jump at them with my trident. Not that seeing him squeal wouldn't be hilarious, of course.
"She'll be fine, Lover Boy," I say, earning a glare. "It'll be dark soon, and we don't want to be out and wandering about while the Careers are hunting. We should get going."
I grap the basket for the water and turn around, expecting to see Katniss right behind me. Instead, she stands next to Peeta hesitantly, grasping his hand.
I almost laugh at their attachment to eachother, but I can't bring myself to do it. After all, if Annie were with me in a similar situation to theirs, we'd be inseperable, too. Pain wraps itself around my chest for a moment, squeezing at my heart like a snake is wrapped around it.
I try not to think about Annie, because if I do, I'll be taken over by the same guilt I felt as I left her, knowing what I had to do. Her tears and the desperate look in her eyes almost made me change my mind. But I have to do this - for Annie, for myself, for everyone.
Leaving that thought behind, I say, "We'll be back in five minutes, tops."
I frown at Katniss' expression. She looks so pained, so guilty, to be leaving him.
Peeta must have noticed it, too, because he narrows his eyes. "What's wrong, Katniss? You've been acting weird."
She laughs emotionlessly and looks away, into the forest. "We're in an arena again, Peeta. What'd you expect?" She tries to pass of her strange behaviour, but it's not working. At all.
He takes her hands in his own and brings his forehead down against hers. "Just hurry, 'kay?"
She nods, and pulls away.
We start our walk farther into the forest. As soon as we're out of sight, she brings the stile over to the tree to fill it up. I stand with my back to hers, keeping watch. I can't hear anything other than the occasional squatter of animals and rustle of leaves and branches.
"Finnick," she says. Her voice sounds strained.
I spin around suspiciously. She's brought the spile down and is fumbling around in her pocket.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
She brings out a pearl. "Make sure Peeta gets this back, will you?"
Her piercing gray eyes bore into mine with such intensity that I almost shrink back. I don't, of course.
"Tell him that I love him," she whispers. "He needs to know." She closes her eyes, and her expression turns so fragile that I wonder if this is the same girl I watched in last year's games. She doesn't look half as fiercely seductive as she once did.
"What are you talking about?" I ask, narrowing my eyes.
She steps towards me, so close that I can smell her. Her scent is hard to describe, like nature and sweat and flowers. It's surprisingly pleasant.
"I thought you'd know by now, Finnick." She pulls out a knife that she'd had in her belt. "There can only be one winner in these Games, and I know who I want it to be. Last year he tried to save me, and now it's my turn to save him. Just, please, Finnick, protect him. As long as you can."
Katniss has tears in her eyes, something I don't ever remember seeing apart from the time the little girl from District 11 was killed. My brain isn't functioning, so it takes me too long to understand what she's saying before she plunges the knife into her own stomach.
"No!" I scream. Her mouth opens in shock, and I stand there helplessly, terrified that she's going to die. Katniss Everdeen is the only chance we have of taking down the Capitol, and she has a knife sticking up to the hilt in her stomach.
She falls to her knees and pulls the knife from her stomach with a cry of anguish. "For... Peeta," she gasps. Blood spurts from her mouth. "Protect him, Finnick. Promise... promise me you will." Tears start falling from her face as her shirt becomes soaked with her blood.
I hear loud footsteps stomping through the forest, coming closer and closer. I turn from Katniss unwillingly, preparing to throw my trident at our attacker. But it's only Peeta, and as soon as his eyes find Katniss, I wish it'd been someone else. His face is the most painful thing I have ever had to look at.
"NO!" he screams. "Katniss!" He sprints over to her side just as she falls over, sobbing. "No, no, no, no, no."
I break free from my frozen state and rush back over to them. "Move, Peeta!" I say harshly. He doesn't flinch, just rocks back and forth brokenly, holding the soaked body of the girl he loves in his arms.
"Stay awake, Katniss. Don't close your eyes," he cries. "Look at me. Just keep looking at me."
She complies, her mouth trembling as it fills with more and more blood. "Love you... Peeta."
I don't let her finish her goodbyes. I shove Peeta away, taking Katniss in my own arms. "Call to your mentor!" I yell at him. I don't wait to see if he does. Concentrating on not moving Katniss' stomach around too much, I cut away her shirt with my knife. She whimpers as I wrap the material around her wound, trying to stop the bleeding. The blood is too much, and I know that she doesn't have much hope. We're going to lose her. The Rebellion won't happen.
The ticking of a clock inside my own head increases my panick, and I want to tune it out, but I can't. It's like there's someone in my brain, telling me that her time is limited.
"Please, Haymitch, send something. Please," Peeta sobs to the sky. Tears prick my own eyes as I imagine how awful the poor guy must be feeling.
Nothing comes, and he runs back over to us. I've managed to stop most of the bleeding, but her face is as white as a sheet. Her eyes start to flutter shut, but Peeta forces her to keep looking at him again. He tries to reassure her, but it seems hypocritical when he's crying so hard that I'm pretty sure he's snotting on himself.
I'm the only one who notices the parachute that falls from the sky.
I hand Katniss over to Peeta gently and run over to it, ripping it open. Inside is a needle with clear liquid inside it.
"Peeta," I call out. He doesn't answer.
I turn around and see that Katniss' eyes have closed, despite Peeta's attempts. That is not good.
"No, Katniss! Don't die, you can't leave me," Peeta cries. I feel horrible just watching this. What if it had been Annie?
No. I don't let myself think about that. There's a problem at hand that needs to be solved right now.
I run back over to her and don't hesitate before slamming the needle into her arm. Her body jerks, but she doesn't reopen her eyes. Panicked, I lean my head down to check for a pulse. It's weak, but it's there.
Lover Boy is looking so hopeless and broken that I grap his hand and bring it over to where her heart is. His eyes widen when he feels it beating lightly.
"Is she going to be okay?" he asks desperately.
"I don't know."
I wrap up her wound with the first aid kit we have, and then there's nothing left for us to do but wait. I keep track of her heartbeat, making sure that it stays strong enough for survival. The bleeding has definitely stopped, and miraculously, after a few minutes, her face visibly becomes more coloured. Peeta has taken her head in his lap and is stroking her hair gently. His tears haven't stopped for one second since he saw her, and it just makes me hate the people that did this to us even more. If they hadn't forced us into this arena, Katniss wouldn't have had to try to kill herself for her love to live.
I imagine that Peeta's thoughts are somewhere close to where mine are, because his expression becomes furious. He tries to hide it, but the hatred and discust in his eyes as he looks up into the sky is undeniable. I know that the cameras won't zoom in on his face in fear of people seeing, but I know that this image will be forever burned into my brain. Whenever I feel like giving up, I'll remember this moment and the way Peeta looked, and I'll become determined again.
I catch his eye, and no words need to pass between us for me to understand the message. They will pay for this.
Katniss stirs in his arms, and we both snap our heads back to look at her. She whimpers before her eyes flutter open. I let out a breath that I had apparently been holding in, and send up a silent prayer to Haymitch Abernathy.
The Mockingjay lives.