Author's Note: Well, everyone, this is the last chapter of this fic. Thanks so much for reading, and thanks even more to those who have reviewed! I couldn't keep writing without your support. :)
Igris Kirkland, District 5
I start to sense sunlight on the other side of my eyelids. Still half-asleep and not feeling very pleasant, I unclose my eyes. It takes a minute of staring at the water's sparkles before I figure out where I am.
Why wasn't I woken up for watch? It... is morning, right? I glance up at the sky, which is light blue and cloudless.
"...Fronce?" I slowly sweep the area without finding my ally anywhere. A surge of dread shoots through me until I remember Fronce was still healthy the last time I saw him.
So... Did he run off to find more food or something? He wouldn't be stupid enough to leave without telling me normally, but... He hasn't been in much of his right mind lately. I don't know what he's doing any more than he does. Guess I'll just have to wait it out until he comes back.
Feeling dreadfully cold again and wishing my jacket wasn't missing a sleeve, I pull my right arm into the body of my jumper. It takes a minute of squirming, but I end up getting my arm under the cloth, despite my fingers going a bit too far and slipping into my scabbard.
I take my fingertips back out and stare at the empty sheath. After a quick check of the nearby sand to make sure it didn't somehow slide out and get buried, I go back to staring.
Someone... Someone took my rapier. One of the tributes would have just killed me.
And I have no idea where the other one is.
Pulse rising, I check the supply pile. Bottle of disinfectant, some parachutes, an empty bowl. No sign of the food-filled one.
I scream a long string of Fronce-aimed insults that doesn't end up making all that much sense but sure uses a lot of swear words.
So I'm not off bad enough for him? He has to get rid of my only chances at getting through this alive, too? Sure, scraping open a furrow in my stomach with an unclean rock makes way for an quick, rampant infection, and, sure, I c-can't do anything to cure it, and, sure, I p-probably a-am going to die, but... I-I don't know... He could have... a-at least asked or something...
Feeling colder, I shift back into a little ball.
So, the only person I've ever come close to calling my friend robbed me blind, deserted me, and left me to die. What a warm, fuzzy feeling...
Well... Guess I don't have to wonder what China felt like anymore. Now I'm the one that has to sit and wait for death. I can't believe I'm going to die... I'm going to bloody die...
I catch my eyes getting watery and make myself stop it. I'm not going to get caught crying in front of... Not Fronce, who's gone. Not the cameras, which won't be watching me sit around. I just... You know what? Screw it all. There's no reason to be tough any more. Nobody's left to make fun of me, and nobody's left to care.
So I finally bury my face and my knees and cry. For me, for China, for the broken being that used to be Fronce, for whatever calls for tears. I don't care if the cameras are on me. I'm going to die. I don't need anyone's respect.
I hear something flapping and look up. A parachute just in front of me is billowing. Not daring to hope—it's probably just one I kept that blew over—I slowly reach with my free arm and pick up the cloth.
Underneath is my Beatles CD, the crack foolishly but meticulously wrapped with clear tape.
A short laugh gets out between my sniffles, and I clutch the CD to my chest. My family had to have sent this. Are they watching...? Of course they are... I bet they'd give anything to be next to me right now... They... They love me, after all...
I curl back up, still weeping, still dying, but not quite so hopeless.
Rome Gnaeus, District 1
I've finally approached another crater. The tribute inside hasn't realised I'm here. He's just doubled over, sniffling quietly.
Well, I guess I shouldn't expect a good battle this late, especially when I'm the only Career left. At least this should be easy.
I climb onto the wall silently and slide over onto the sand. The other tribute stirs—apparently I wasn't quite as quiet as I thought—and looks over at me. He doesn't seem particularly surprised or scared, even though he has no weapon and certainly isn't a heavyweight boxer.
Not sure what to expect, I start walking over, sword drawn. Igris looks back at me without moving for a moment. He then unravels himself and pulls an arm out through a hole in his jumper. He doesn't move further until I'm almost right in front of him. Then he reaches behind him and grabs the top of a collapsed plastic bottle.
Before he does anything with it, I slash at his neck. He makes a pained sound and almost collapses. I take the next second to rinse off some blood in the lapping waves.
Something suddenly splashes on my neck.
I jump back in surprise as Igris drops the less-full bottle and falls face-first. About the time his cannon fires, I recognise the sting of disinfectant on my wound.
Well... Why would he do that...? There's not much of a point to killing me if he was going to die, anyway. And was he really so delusional he thought a splash of disinfectant would hurt? Erm... Maybe he just wanted to do something nice for me? I... don't know. Dying people do strange things sometimes, I guess. Hm.
With a dismissive shrug, I look around to make sure the other tribute isn't nearby. No one's here, so I set off again.
I've checked two more craters by sunset, but the other tribute is still beyond sight. I hope he's not moving around, too. It'd be even harder to track him down then. And I'm almost out of food.
I wonder if the Gamemakers will send him towards me. I think I've proven myself by now. Of course, he won't stand a chance against me, so maybe they'd rather keep the suspense up a bit longer.
Either way, I'm all right. I can go a day without food and still fight. I'm getting tired pretty quickly with all this climbing, but I still have my muscles. We're all right.
I watch the sun set for a minute before I wonder about my neck wound. It hasn't been hurting any more, so it's definitely not infected. But should I change the gauze out, anyway? I have plenty more, and if the disinfectant killed anything already there, it might still be lingering on the bandage.
Eh, might as well. Don't have anything better to do.
I untie the knot at the back of my neck and gently take the gauze off my sweaty skin until I get to the cut in the front. It's stuck a bit more, as I expected, so I have to pull my skin back a little to peel any more bandage off. The wound apparently gets unstuck, and the gauze comes off.
There's just enough time to see some odd, black crumbles on the bandage before the sun disappears.
What was that?
Befuddled, I put my fingers on the wound.
The skin crumbles into my windpipe at my touch.
With a confused cough, I feel some breath escaping and try to clamp my hand over the hole. The gap only widens in response, and I start to feel dizzy.
Without the slightest clue of what's happening, I asphyxiate.
Mini-Epilogue: "So, I hear you're very interested in the ladies, eh, Fronce? HAHAHAHAHA..."
And that is what would have happened if China didn't eat the sauce.