A/N = A week ago, I had this [epic] idea of writing from the perspective of Seneca Crane, the training dummy, in CF. But I couldn't really get past the first paragraph and I was already halfway through this and Chem is killing me and suddenly March is ending. So you get plain old Haymitch/Maysilee.

Enjoy, and I don't own anything, as per usual.

yellow brick roads.

No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.

She's fifteen and a half and her name is painted on the turquoise lips of District Twelve's escort. It feels entirely wrong. She's rich and she's pretty enough and she's not supposed to die. At least, not in the Hunger Games. Her death is supposed to be normal.

Not heroic or horrific and definitely not with the whole universe watching.

Her sister, identical, clings to her, and for a moment, she hugs back. Tries to believe that if she holds on tight enough, she won't have to leave. "Let go," she says finally, determinedly collected, and all the while she's thinking, why isn't it you?

He's sixteen. Called last. He walks up to the stage so casually and smiles like he's going to win the Hunger Games.

She envies that smile, a lot.

Because now it seems like she's required to be like that. Prove that she's not just a bloodbath girl from the worst district who no one bets on.

They're allowed all of five minutes to be showered in fake (and some real, maybe) tears and pretty/false/sickly-sweet i-love-yous. Then the train rolls away so fast and she watches her home shrink from coal-stained buildings into train tracks.

The other girl and boy are crying. She fights back tears, too, and he smirks.

"Won't you miss it?" she asks at last, annoyed, as she smears saltwater off her eyelashes. Her fingers are wet with homesickness.

"Honestly?" Haymitch Abernathy looks at her intently, almost searchingly. And then drops his gaze, disappointed. "No, I won't."

All the same, said the Scarecrow, I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.

"So, Haymitch." Caesar Flickerman's face is dark green. Haymitch wonders why someone isn't telling him green is definitely not his color. "What do you think about the Games having one hundred percent more competitors than usual this year?"

"I don't see that it makes much difference. They'll still be one hundred percent as stupid as usual, so I figure my odds will be roughly the same."

Laughter. It's just enough. He grins, and the buzzer goes off.

The seat opposite Caesar Flickerman is warm. Forty-seven tributes have sat here before her. "Maysilee, welcome," he says, voice as warm as the velvet. "Is there anyone you're leaving behind in Twelve?"

Her eyelashes feel heavy, despite the fact they look so pretty, and that makes no sense to her at all. "Yes," she says. "My sister."

Caesar Flickerman almost looks concerned. It's an act, of course, but it somehow heartens her. She can tell the audience is bored after listening to forty odd sisters and brothers and lovers, and she might just understand what Haymitch said about not missing Twelve, because she does and she doesn't. She hates it ardently, now, and still misses it just as much.

She curls her fingers loosely, feeling the lacquered paint of her nails (bloodred, the obvious choice) against her skin, and looks directly at the camera, at her minature reflection.

Dark lashes. Thick curls. Shiny lips. This isn't her. It's a glorified version of a girl who actually isn't gorgeous, and she's suddenly scared, because what if it's permanent?

"She's watching. Anything you would say to her?"

She hesitates.

"I…I'm not coming home."

The buzzer goes off, perfectly. She feels a sense of gratification, even though she doesn't really know what she meant. That she was going to die; or that even if she won, she wouldn't be herself when she came back?

Maybe both. Haymitch Abernathy flashes her a grin as the anthem plays too loud, and she lets herself grin back with rose-tinted lips that do and don't belong to her.

Later, her fingers are on the golden door handle when he asks her, "Do you really think you're going to die?" Haymitch loosens his tie and looks at her as oddly intensely as he did on the train.

What do you want from me? she feels like saying. Instead, she leans back against the door. "Well, my odds are roughly the same, aren't they?"

He laughs, mostly real and slightly acidic, and it kind of makes him seem more human in her eyes. She repeats his question, and he looks away. It's a ridiculous thing to ask, and she doesn't blame him for not answering.

"If it makes you feel any better," she adds, "I think you could win."

He doesn't repeat the words back to her. She feels like she should say something else, something that ties them together more than just coal and the number twelve. But the number twelve already separated them and she doesn't think she could ever tie a tight enough bow to fix that kind of reality.

I don't miss Twelve because I'd rather have my death be…I don't know, epic. It's better than starving.

It's what he said when she asked him why, on the train, and she still doesn't understand it. She'd rather think about surviving than surviving heroically. And she's never known what it feels like to be so hungry that you could actually die. She wonders if that's a good thing.

"Good night," she says finally. Her feet hurt and she's tired, therefore unable to think of anything wittier. And tomorrow they'll both be in the Hunger Games.

"Good luck, Maysilee," he answers.

She enters her room and shuts the door and unzips her dress. Brushes her hair, stains her towels with black, and wipes the polish off her nails. Her reflection looks like she used to, but she isn't quite. She can't think about anything but Haymitch, saying, it's better than starving.

She genuinely thinks she'd rather starve.

I shall take the heart, returned the Tin Woodman; for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.

The arena is the most gorgeous thing she's ever seen, and that's why she doesn't trust it.

She kills because she has to. It's so surprisingly easy. But later, as the sky shines with their faces, she finds she's shaking. She is and isn't a killer.

Haymitch is her only district partner left, like she expected. After the volcano explodes and the sky turns red with dark streaks of ash, the forest cramps everyone together. And that's how she finds him. She wasn't looking for him, but he's there, and they might as well help each other.

"We'd live longer with the two of us."

He acknowledges that with a scowl, kicking the dead Career away with his foot. "Guess you just proved that."

She waits, because after all, she did save his life and he can't ignore that.

"Allies?" he suggests.

She smiles and says, sure, why not?

It's nice to have an ally. She begins to think she could actually win the Hunger Games…which is ridiculous, since winning means Haymitch has to die, which seems utterly impossible. He's too focused, despite the fact that it's on something she doesn't think is worth focusing on.

But for some obscure reason, she's satisfied.

When the starry sky lights up with faces, she still tries to swallow her guilt and hugs her knees to her chest. Haymitch links an arm through hers as they listen to the anthem. They sit there with glazed eyes, and she doesn't feel happy, exactly, but maybe not miserable.

"I do miss home," he says.

You have plenty of courage, I am sure, answered Oz. All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.

"Let's go back," she says impatiently. It's too sunny and the tall trees look utterly enticing. And there's nothing left to do here at the edge of the arena except maybe throw themselves off the cliff.

He doesn't move. "I'm staying here."

She knows it would be hopeless to convince him to go. It isn't as if she wants to leave him. But she doesn't want to kill him, and she wants to believe he doesn't want to kill her, either. Sometimes it isn't the best thing to have an ally, she realizes. You start caring too much, and caring isn't enough to win the Hunger Games.

"All right," she says, looking away. "There's only five of us left. May as well say good-bye now, anyway. I don't want it to come down to you and me."

Me neither, she imagines he'd say. He looks down at the cliff, and all she gets is, "Okay."

"Would you jump?" she asks abruptly. Maybe this would be his definition of epic. It certainly isn't hers.

"If I had a reason," is his answer. Haymitch laughs and deliberately steps closer to the edge, and she scowls.


He's actually grinning now. "Don't kill myself, or don't make you scared I might?"

She rolls her eyes. "Both."

"I don't have a reason," he answers.

"Good luck, Haymitch," she says cordially, ignoring him, and almost wishing she didn't have to say it. That he'd tell her to stay. But he doesn't, for the same bittersweet reason she suggested it in the first place, and she makes herself walk away.

She's ridiculously lonely in the fifteen minutes she spends without him. The forest is darker and scarier and she's afraid, maybe irrationally.

Maybe not.

Fifth place isn't awful, she decides.

His fingers crush hers and it hurts to ask him if this is his idea of dying epically. He shakes his head amidst corpses of pink birds and tells her she's going to be fine, perfectly fine. She coughs blood that almost but not quite matches.