So after writing her two Marvel oneshots, BNTN swore off Careers permanently. Tempting fate, huh? Because as you've probably guessed, here I am writing another.
The character of Sapphire belongs to Caisha702; you can see what happens to her family afterwards in her fic 'The Beauty of Freedom' and its sequel 'The Illusion of Freedom'. All (ok, probably most) grammatical errors are intentional, as is the odd way of writing dialogue.
Finally: this is a slightly different portrayal of Finnick than usual. You are warned.
When I turned five they sent me off to school, just as they do to all the kids. I never was very good at all at reading and writing and maths, but I was good enough at all the physical outdoorsy stuff that after my eighth birthday they asked me if I wanted to start extension PE. I knew what I was getting into, but it was nice to feel actually good at something, so I said yes.
That'll explain why I wasn't scared going into my last Reaping, ten years later, even though my chances of going to the Games was bigger than anyone's. Me and a handful of other girls were on standby to volunteer if someone who couldn't hold their own got picked.
So I'm waiting there, ready, to see who it is, and they draw the girl. They always do the girl first, then the guy in District Four – it's traditional or something. Well, our escort puts her hand into the ball, and draws a name out.
The person reaped is twelve year old Moana Hargreaves, named after the same past Victor as I am but definitely not Victor material. So up I go, quick as a sprat, 'cause I've always had a soft spot for little 'Ana. Us two've got a lot in common and not just the name, but I took extension PE and she didn't.
Anyway, so I volunteer, and I look back at the other girls and see them relaxing now they know they don't have to. It's not compulsory to volunteer but if you've trained and hesitate too long then no one talks to you for years.
Our escort asks my name, so I tell her, and she makes a big deal about little 'Ana and I having the same name. Oh, it was such a point of interest in the Capitol, it was just lapped up. For all of five minutes, anyway, 'cause the guy who was reaped next completely made off with my catch.
So I'm standing up there on stage, and the escort goes up and pulls out the boy's name, and who comes up but a fourteen year old kid. He's big for fourteen, and between boyhood and manhood appearances wise. Good looking, though, with his tanned skin, bronze hair and those rare green eyes that everyone seems to like so much. Lighter colouring than most of the District – river kid, definitely.
Well, the kid's good looking as well as young, so there's a rush of volunteers for him, and not all endorsed. I think this is about the right place to state that I never was attracted to the kid, by the way. I can see what people can see in him, but he's completely not my type, and far too young on top.
If I said he wasn't even the gender I go for then it'd be lying, but not by much. I might as well come clean now, not like I've got anything to lose anymore. Most of the people I've liked have been other girls even if I do swing both ways. Not much consolation, that, not when you live in Four.
Back to Reaping Day. Well, there were all of these volunteers, but as you know none of 'em ever made it to the Games. The kid just stands there, cocky as Snow, and says that he doesn't want any replacement, that he's going to the Games. Once he says that they can't do nothing else, and the volunteers all flock back reluctantly.
Then this girl round his age, maybe a bit younger – also white skinned, another river kid – comes up and says don't be an idiot Finnick and the kid just shakes his head and flashes a cheeky grin that makes ladies Panem over swoon and says he's going and that's final. Then the Reaping ends and we're taken away to say goodbye.
My family came in to see me, and my friends, and I got given a shell necklace Mum said they'd been making to give to me after the Reaping no matter what happened. They were sad it had to be to use as a district token, but proud too, and I almost told them about me but was too scared. I felt ashamed about that, later – I was brave enough to volunteer for the Games but not brave enough to tell my family that I mostly like girls.
Rhea Hargreaves, named like her little sister after a past Victor (this one the second Career ever) and also happening to be to the girl I'd been crushing on for almost a year – alright, maybe there was some extra motivation for my volunteering – came in to say goodbye and thanks for saving 'Ana. We're friends but not good friends, and nowhere near as close as I wish we were. I wanted to tell her how I felt, but then I remembered how badly loads of people in the District react to people like me and decided I didn't want to lose her friendship over something like that.
In a way I guess I'm lucky, being able to like guys as well. I've had a boyfriend before so no one thinks I can be anything but what they call normal. Had a girlfriend once, too. We're still friends but not as close as we were, 'cause she's open about it, the liking girls thing I mean, and I'm a coward.
We went out for a few months. It was great, but I was too scared to make it public, and having a secret relationship is way harder than it sounds. That was one of the reasons it ended. 'Cause I'd seen all the crap she gets for being open about it, and how most people won't be seen dead talking to her, and I thought all my mates'd abandon me if they found out. Odds are you already have, watching this.
Well, after a while people started noticing how much time we spent together, and I started getting flack for it. I was terrified people'd find out about me, and she didn't understand why I wouldn't just tell them already, so we broke it off. It's not something I'm proud of.
After her, I didn't have either – a girlfriend or a boyfriend. Too scared to ask girls who'd probably refuse to talk to me, and it didn't work out with any of the few guys I did like. My friends all used to wonder how I was so brave at just telling guys I liked them, but once you've got a whole gender to hide your attraction to it becomes way easier. At least with guys all you've got to fear is rejection.
I've heard talk that it's different in other Districts, that Four's the only one that reacts so badly to people like me. In District Three they even have a Victor who's married to another guy and no one cares, they say, and I know it's true 'cause I've met him. More on that later.
My ex-girlfriend came in to say goodbye, too. She told me just to tell everyone that I like both girls and guys already before I ended up dying in the Games. I said that no, 'cause if I did then they wouldn't want me to come back anymore. I really hope I was wrong. She said to stop being so melodramatic and that if you're going to die at the feast at least die as yourself.
I still said no I wouldn't tell them, so she asked if she could at least tell them if I didn't make it home. Then I said I didn't want to ruin their memories of me, and she sighed and shook her head and said she thought that hiding who I am was killing me. Then she hugged me and told me that I'd better come back alive, and after she left the Peacekeepers came to take me to the train.
So I get on the tribute train and get with talking to the mentors, and they're nice enough but you can see they're much more interested in the kid than me, so after watching the other Reapings I go to my compartment and watch the view out the window. It was weird to not see water anywhere – later it was really hard to sleep without being able to hear the waves against the beach outside my house.
Anyway. We got to the Capitol, and me and Odair got made over. It wasn't too bad – weird, and a bit boring, but definitely not the torture it's supposed to be. Then they gave us our costumes, which I'm sure you remember, and shoved us on a chariot.
The kid and me talked a bit on the chariot, and I decided I didn't really like him. He's a fourteen year old boy, overly confident and a bit of a prick, and persisted on trying to talk about things he's way to young to have had anything to do with. And even back then, there was something about him which unnerved me. What type of fourteen year old good as volunteers for the Games, anyway?
We were an instant hit with the Capitol, and it might annoy me quite a bit to admit, but most of it was probably because of the kid standing next to me. I figured not to mind too much, since it helped me too, but the smug look on the kid's face when he saw almost everyone cheering for me made me want to punch him off the chariot.
So we get back to level four, intimidating a bit of the meat on the way in, and rewatch the Reapings and the Opening Ceremony to try to see what tributes looked like they'd give us a challenge. Other than the usual One and Two, no one really did, so the kid said something cocky about having the Games in the net.
So I roll my eyes and go to bed, and in the morning the kid and I go down to training. We meet the rest of our alliance, and it's pretty obvious that District Two's got the best chance out of everyone. The kid's cocky as ever, but it's not deserved, since he spends the morning bragging and hooking more than he can chew, saying how good he is at, say, weightlifting and then completely failing to lift the largest weights which are the ones he goes for.
Later I realised that was deliberate and that the kid was being more cold and calculating than any of us expected, but back then it was easy to just write him off as an arrogant and annoying burden. And once I did realise, it was probably too late.
At lunch the six of us sat together and talked and I got to know my allies. The girl from One, especially – she's called Sapphire, and she was pretty nice I thought. Then there was more training, and it was pretty obvious that District Two were the people we needed to get rid of.
So that night me and the kid meet Sapphire and her District Partner Glory up on the Training Centre roof, and we plan to kill District Two in the Arena before fighting between ourselves. Before that though it was just me and District One and we decided to try and get the kid out of the way, too, 'cause he would just be a load to the rest of us. They said that I should've been born in District One. I don't know if it was supposed to be a compliment.
Next day was more training and nothing much interesting happened, apart from my meeting that District Three mentor who's kind of like me. We ended up in the same lift and when I saw him hitting the button for Three I asked him if he was. And he said yes and why do you want to know, and I said that I'd heard about him and wasn't sure if he was real.
So he said yes I am, I just don't go around telling everyone. 'Cause it's not like you go round telling people you're straight, do you. I don't say anything and he looks at me and then he must suddenly realise 'cause he hits the button for the roof and we go out there instead.
So I stay out there what must've been a couple of hours talking to Johan. That's his name, and it's a funny name 'cause it's spelt with a jay but you say it Yohan. By the end of the conversation I really wished that I had been born anywhere but Four. According to Johan none of the other Districts are anywhere near as 'homophobic' (that's the fancy word he used) as mine is.
He was real kind and understanding and by the time I'd finished talking to him I felt better about who I am than I'd been in ages. He didn't seem to care that in a few days I'd be trying to kill his tributes and I decided that I wouldn't touch either of District Three, and I kept that promise too. Maybe it was just nice for him to talk to someone sort of like him as well, 'cause even though Three's all good with us I don't reckon there'd be anywhere near as many of us as straight people.
I got back down to level four and no one had even noticed I'd gone, which normally would've annoyed me but that day just made me all relieved 'cause then I wouldn't have to explain to them. There's probably some sort of rule against spending more time talking with an enemy mentor than with your own.
That's not to say anything bad about Mags – she's nice and all, and she told me a bit about my namesake, but she was way more focused on the kid than on me. Maybe figured he needed the attention a lot more than I was. But Proteus can go screw himself, for all I care. He's every bit the prick that Odair is.
Then there was the third day of training, where we got our scores. At lunch the kid was being annoying, as usual, and he starts needling me about my name. Why do you go by Mo he asked. It makes you sound like a guy – it's such a girl-fag name. So then I go well so what if I am, 'cause I've been encouraged by talking to Johan yesterday.
Then, to piss him off, I start making exaggerated kissy faces at Sapphire who does the same back to me. It works and the kid gets angry and the two of us and Glory start cracking up. Even District Two both smile, which just annoys the kid more. Then it's time for the private sessions, which is probably good 'cause the kid looks ready to throw a tantrum.
So while Glory's off impressing the Gamemakers Sapphire asks me really why they call me Mo, and so I tell her how it's a common name in the District and Mo helps people know that it's me and not Moana or big 'Ana or little 'Ana or any of the others. Then she says little 'Ana's the one you volunteered for, right? And I say yes and then she goes off to the Gamemakers and I don't have anyone to talk to.
Soon enough it's my turn though and I go in and do my stuff, and you all know how well that turned out 'cause everyone in the country knows I got a nine in training. The kid got eight, which was really more than what any of us Allies expected of him, what with the way he'd been acting in training. That should have clued me off, but it didn't.
Next day is interview prep, so me and Odair get a mentor each and go into different rooms and try to think of a strategy to go for. I reckon I did okay in interviews, but really it was the kid who stole the show. I'm sure you all remember it, how he grinned that grin of his that makes me want to punch him, and how you could practically see people diving to sponsor him. Didn't really help his popularity with the rest of us, who already thought of him as an annoying brat. Now he was an annoying brat who stole our sponsors.
After interviews comes the Arena itself. This is the part that you lot've all seen, so I don't reckon I need to say too much. But I will, 'cause the cameras only show you one side of the story and no one ever tells the other side. You lot all still think that the kid is some kind of god. Well, if he's a god to us other tributes then he's one of those olden day gods you don't really want to worship in the first place but you have to or else.
In the morning I got hauled out of bed and shoved onto a hovercraft, where I got taken to a launch room and told to put on the Arena clothes, which I'm sure you're all sick to death of watching. Loose red short sleeved shirt, loose red trousers with a black belt, black boots that are better than they look. It's a good thing the Arena's warm.
Then I went up into the Arena, and there was the bloodbath. It was harder than I ever thought it could be, back in District Four – actually having to fight for your life is no joke. But it must do something to your body, 'cause there was some kind of rush in the fighting it hadn't had before.
The killing wasn't fun, not at all, and I still hate the people who invented the Games for making me kill other people. But the odd thing is, you don't feel anything while you're fighting. Only when it's over is when you start feeling really horrible for taking a life. And in the Alliance, of course, I couldn't let anyone see what the killing had done to me, 'cause we might have been allies then but any weakness seen in someone else is a point to latch onto like a leech.
There are loads of leeches in the Arena. It's a combination of swampland and dense jungle, very very hot and very very humid. The only water we've found so far is in the swamp, and there's no way any of us were drinking that, even with our fancy water purifiers. Good thing it rains every evening, after the Anthem right on cue. That's why I don't think there's any drinking water round here though, or else the people making the Arena wouldn't have bothered with the rain.
We got into a rhythm over the next few days – camp at dry ground round the Cornucopia, spend day tribute hunting, rinse and repeat. Then, on the third day – or was it the fourth? – me, District One and the kid decide that we can get rid of the others without District Two's help. So we wait till me and Glory are up on guard duty and then we slit their throats while they sleep.
Hardest thing I've ever done, that. It's bad enough killing someone in a fight, but at least they sort of have a chance. District Two didn't have one, not at all. Maybe you've seen the way some Alliances like playing round with the other tributes before they kill them, but that was never me. I left that to District Two, mostly.
Odair enjoys it too though, I think. He certainly acted like he did when one of the Two's had their victims, maybe not lifting a finger but taunting, teasing, acting all sweet and innocent one moment and teasingly cruel the next. He still managed to be cute and funny while acting like a monster, though, so you Capitol viewers didn't care.
I reckon there were six of us tributes left when the kid got his trident, a week into the Games. Oh, I just about murdered him on the spot when I saw that. Because there's no chance that something that expensive used up just his sponsorship money. You do know that when you sponsor a tribute it's the District you're sponsoring, right? So all that money wasted on the trident was money that could have gone to me too, but it didn't. All that stupid money wasted on a weapon the kid could have gone by without, when it could have been saved for a medkit or something instead.
I need one now, but do I get one? No, because all of the money went on sponsoring that horrible arrogant brat, and all because he happens to be the kind of pretty the Capitol likes. You make me sick.
Once the kid got the weapon though, it was all over. Just none of us knew it yet.
So we head off into the jungle, the four of us, already knowing that the Alliance would break up soon. And once we get there, the kid tells us to stop and he grabs some vines and starts making a net – makes it well too, but no surprises there; he comes from Four and back home you learn to tie knots at about the same time you learn to walk.
That's about the time that I realised he planned this all out with our mentors in one of our sessions. At dinner one night he was asked what weapons he could use, so he said a trident. I thought he must've been lying to make himself look good like I reckoned he'd been doing since I met him, 'cause no one ever really uses tridents back home. Awfully impractical way to fish. But then he and Proteus and Mags go off together and start plotting something, and this must've been it.
Once I realise that then I realise exactly how screwed the rest of us are, 'cause if the lot of 'em planned it out this carefully then the kid must be really really good. That's when I start making plans to make my escape from the group. The rest of my plans were made later, but they started then.
Just when we're about to give up on finding anyone and head back to the Cornucopia, we bump into District Six. He puts up quite a fight and it's after I get a pretty deep cut in my left arm that the rest of my plan starts forming. But once we get a bit of space between us and District Six for a bit the kid steps in and makes murder look effortless. I think that's around when Glory and Sapphire started getting nervous round him.
Well, my arm hurt like Snow but there was no way I wanted to let any of the others see that, so I twisted my sleeve around a bit and made sure not to be seen favouring it, no matter how much it hurt. Dunno if any of the audience even noticed I was hurt, really, not till I left them.
That night I snuck off while I was supposed to be on guard duty. I probably should have just killed the kid then and there, but after District Two I'd decided never to cold-bloodedly murder anyone again. Pity the kid didn't feel that way – he had no problems watching me and Glory get rid of District Two. Wouldn't surprise me if the little monster wished he could do it himself.
There were five of us left then. Now there are three. I've been hiding out here in the jungle ever since – as you know, you've been watching me. Though I bet most of the camera time is on your precious little Finnick Odair, 'cause no matter what he does you're still going to worship him, aren't you?
The day after I left the Alliance Glory's face went up in the sky. Don't know for certain what happened, but it was probably the kid's - probably Odair's work. Doesn't feel quite right calling him the kid anymore – no kid can kill the way he does.
Eleven's face went up yesterday. So there's just me and Sapphire standing between Odair and victory. Now I reckon that he'll go for her first, 'cause even he won't be totally worshipped if he's seen to be hunting down his District Partner first, even if he does seem to have all of Panem under some sort of spell.
If she doesn't kill him then he'll win, 'cause that cut in my arm's gone from bad to worse. My mentors killed me twice over by giving him that trident, and I'm calling you two out on that now. No mentor should try to kill one of their tributes, but that's what you've been doing to me.
So I'm telling you all. Maybe I sound insane, talking to the sky, but I have a story too which won't be told otherwise, and someone needs to make everyone see clearly, see Odair for who he really is. It's unnatural, someone being such a killer at fourteen. Just think about that for a minute. He's a cold blooded killer at fourteen, and yet you all worship him. Kind of a screwed up god to have, don't you think?
So I'm hiding out here, waiting for Sapphire's canon. Then it'll be a fight between him and me, and 'cause I know he'll win in a fight with me like this I'll let him kill me in cold blood. See what the viewers think of him then. He'll go for Sapphire first, though, so I have a few days of rest. Maybe I'll die right here of blood poisoning and save him the bother.
Oh. Oh, hello Finnick. How long have you been standing there?
Looks like I was wrong, then.