Realm: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Story Title: The Mockingjay and the Chameleon
Summary: Katniss feels guilty and sad, then makes a plan.
Character/Relationships: Katniss and gale/Haymitch/peeta/finn , lots of other of camera pairings
I Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author notes: This is my AU with canon nod fan-fiction version of what happened from the time Peeta returned until way past MJ - This is total fan fiction involving romance between Katniss and Haymitch. She also has time with Gale, Finnick and even Peeta but you will have to decide if it's too naughty that this character may not go the traditional way. I own none of these characters and I don't profit from any of this. I have stuck to cannon to some extent – but those who live and die are up to my whims. Thanks for your reviews
Please see end notes on premises of this pairing – Haymitch is 24 years older than Katniss. Within the boundary of love – I do not find this pairing offensive but please note the rating of M for mature themes.
Warning: may contain any of the following ingredients –(sex, ugly people, mean people, people who have functioning body parts, language. Spoilers, Sexual discussion, ghosts, Malice, reference to past violence,current violence, inappropriate persuasion, suicide, war, death, blood, guts, drinking, eating, hunting, guns, bows, explosions, murder, battle, harassment, fist fights, sadness, dead characters being discussed, alcohol use, caffeine use, unintended exhibitionism, disfigurement, pain, hate, Avarice, sloth, naked people, medical procedure torture, reference to possible non-consent and prostitution No, nothing like my normal menu! Oh wait - better include age warning and lemon warning and this is a mary-sue free zone, so please, please be warned that if you like to be offended easily, this is your ticket to happy land. If you have any allergies to these subjects, please take appropriate measures for your maturity level. Side effects may include but not be limited to: searching for the hottie parts, watering of the eyes, grouchiness, eye strain from trying to read between the lines and unwanted oral or nasal leakage.
For those of you on updates I am finally splitting the chapters -you may enjoy reading anyway beings there is more adventure not included in the first version. Now, the bonus materials will be my next project but will now be Part of book Two rather than tag alongs for this book. Look for - The Mockingjay and the Albatross - for the continued story.
The Mockingjay and the Chameleon
Chapter 1 – begins after Peeta was rescued and attacked Katniss - assume canon to here.
I hover at the window, the cold collar on my neck, watching him scream. Swallowing hurts and it isn't just the injury of my body. My heart has taken control of my ability to make the movement in my throat. My Peeta tried to murder me. He attacked me. The placid blue eyes have transformed into a pool of churning vipers and the stony guilt I feel for his madness is dragging my life to the bottom.
Haymitch slips his arm around me and I allow him to comfort me in one of his few moments of pure kindness. I feel him kiss the top of my head and he whispers words I can't understand, but I do absorb the tone of compassion in his voice. I turn to him and bury my face in his shoulder. Silently, I sob in the safety of his arms. I feel him tremble too and I know it's not his need for drink that causes his shudder. He is in shock too. Peeta wants me dead and his actions are beyond anything either of us can understand.
This is not the happy reunion I imagined. This is no reunion at all, but a gravesite with a still beating heart. That is not Peeta. Those blue eyes are missing all that filled them when he gave me the pearl. It is in my pocket and I squeeze it between my fingers, holding on to hope of about the same dimension as the tiny gem.
The doctors, with stoic faces and detached words, give us careful explanation. Tracker Jacker venom has turned the boy I love into a monster. What came back from the capitol, what Gale risked his life to rescue, is just another monster the capitol has built to kill me. There is no glimmer of the boy with the bread in that tortured form now.
I have finally killed Peeta. I wish I could blame Haymitch. I did at first, but the truth is that if I had not hidden from him and Finnick, if I had stayed with them as I promised I would, he would have been picked up with me. While Haymitch struggled to save me, the capitol hovercraft had swiped him. My fault, not Haymitch's. If we had been told? But, they didn't expect to really get any of us and Haymitch didn't have the heart to survive watching us tortured. If we did die, he had his own terrible plans.
When they couldn't get me to respond, I suspect his complete absence from my room, had a much darker reason, besides he was being forced to stop drinking. For one thing, he hasn't stopped drinking, and for another, my mother inadvertently mentioned an accident. He refuses to give me any explanation, but when I asked Gale, his shrug and perfectly blank face didn't hide the revolting truth.
I look in his gray eyes and wonder if he will leave me, now that Peeta is gone. He always loved Peeta more and now the breathing corpse of our mutually beloved baker sings my guilt with each howl. This is all they allowed me to have. Peeta doesn't exist now and I am expected to carry on with that knowledge. What did they have to do to him to make everything about him disappear?
Plutarch Heavensbee, seems frustrated by our lack of joy. "He is alive at least. They intend to execute his stylists tonight. I can't even find Effie Trinket. God only knows if she-"
Haymitch is jolted at this news and he herds Plutarch away, wanting to save me from the details. I was sure once, when he'd warned District 13 of the attack, that I had just witnessed his death. Splattered blood and the loud noise, that I been sure was a shot, before the broadcast ended. Was that warning my last glimpse of him? Did my heart tell me the truth at that moment? What struggled on the other side of the safety glass?
The door opens with the reverent silence of an undertaker. Haymitch looks like he could almost cry. I pretend not to notice. "It's not him sweetheart. You know it isn't his fault," Haymitch whispers to me.
"No. It's mine. I did this." There was never going to be a way to pay off this debt. My stupidity had cost him his entire family and now his sanity. I wondered if he knew he was the only remaining Mellark before he went insane or did he have that discovery waiting to pounce on his mind should it struggle to surface.
"No, they did it. You didn't. Don't take that path. He will need you if he has any hope. Don't abandon him. Don't believe that in there, is all there is or you're dooming him to that very thing. You have to stop being the girl who has to be saved. He needs saving this time and I am pretty sure only you can." Haymitch speaks more than I have ever heard him say at once. He is almost human to me at that moment, his face open and no cruel barbs sent in my direction. It is a little nice of him to not be mean to me at this moment. I expected his cutting tongue to butcher me one word at a time, but he has no malice in his expression.
"I don't know if we can ever save him this time." I say turning back to the window watching the Mutation struggle through the thick glass that is between us.
"Come to my room, we both could use a drink." He offers.
I nod and look around at him, wishing he would stay, but incapable of asking him to favor me with more sympathy. "I am going to watch a while. I will be there later." I sigh and turn back to the window, glad I can't hear the screaming on the other side of the glass. "How is Johanna?"
"Not well. Not as bad as this mentally, but physically, she isn't much better off than he is. Annie seems to have been the least affected. It is hard to tell much with her. Finn is almost with us again. Being a mother hen suits him." Haymitch shoves his hands in his pockets, chews his lip and I know he is evaluating me.
I nod, but can't even form a bedraggled politeness for him to deliver to the others.
Peeta is highly sedated, more will kill him but he writhes and twists in his constraints. He screams. He mouths obscenities and the only thing I can make out is my name. I know what his lips look like when they make that sound and he is saying it now. He's calling me. But, it's not because he wants to see me. He calls because his mission has failed and they have made that knowledge so painful, not even morfling can ease his torture.
"You are not helping him by seeing this, Katniss," Haymitch says as he opens the door.
"He is living it, Haymitch. I am just standing here. I can't let him face it alone. He's gone. I get it, but if any of him exists, maybe he will know."
"A broken Mockingjay can't help him or anyone. I'm going to sit with Jojo for a bit, and then we should talk a little, if you can." His chin tucks to his chest and his eyes give me that obey-your-mentor look.
I nod, but I don't care. When Haymitch leaves, I bring up the sound a bit. The funny thing is, what Peeta says about me is so close to true; I can only hold myself and stare in horror. I have used him. I have been cruel. He loved me and I took it for granted and I left him to the capitol without even trying to help him. I gave him nothing but a garden of roses and this is what I deserve. Not my poor sweet Peeta. It should have been me. I wish it had been me.
Three hours later, I do arrive at Haymitch's door, stuck in some Katniss on auto-pilot trance. He opens it only after I desperately tell him it's me. I don't know what he does to get liquor into this district, but Haymitch hands me a glass over half full of something brown that smells worse than Ripper's mash. I swallow half of it in one gulp.
Haymitch studies me carefully for a minute and I swig down his offering. He clears his throat. "Would you rather he be dead?"
I look at him and can't help my answer, blurted in honesty, "Yes, it would have been better for him." A tear rolls down my face.
He frowns, pours me more, and crosses his arms and legs as he leans against the couch. He looks toward the muted television and pauses to watch the smiling capital people marching in support of President Snow. "What I am asking, sweetheart, is do you want it now?"
I freeze and say nothing. He finally lets his head turn my way again and blinking rapidly, his gaze finds a rambling trail of elsewhere, before discovering my face. I meet his eyes and see hard reality there. "He can't come back, can he?"
"No." Haymitch swallows a huge gulp of his drink, makes a face and swallows again. "He is programmed to live in a single goal. The programming will force him, with pain, to complete the mission. There is nothing anyone can do for him. A week, a month, ten years, it won't matter. He is gone, Katniss."
I sink to the floor. It is as good a place as any to sit, and my legs didn't have much stand-up left in them. Those words, from Haymitch, were like waves of dread turning my bones to sand. I swallow the rest of the drink in my glass. "He's in pain."
"Yes, Katniss. Unimaginable pain and no drug will ease it. If you love him?" He eases himself to the floor with a little grunt and scoots close to me, bottle in hand. "If you want me to end it for him…" he says, taking my hand in his but not meeting my eyes.
I snatch my hand away from him, fear leaps into my face and I am stunned he could even think of such a thing. "NO. You could kill him…how could…"
His face, betrayed with a sneaky rebellious tear escaping each eye, shakes slowly at me as if I am stupid. "Because I love him. You and he are the closest thing to family I will ever…I would not wish his fate on Snow himself. There is no relief, not a moments…ever. I would rather kill him then watch him suffer this. Don't be selfish, Katniss, not this time."
I shake my head in confused fury. "There has to be a way. They said they don't know."
"Sweetheart, they know."
I am ready to run, I want to scramble away and be invisible. Tortured was bad. Dead was bad. This is worse. "Please no. Don't," I plead.
I see the resolve in his eyes. The detached disappointment swells. "All right, Katniss." He hands me the bottle and I swig with greed. "But, when you have watched him suffer enough, you come let me know."
"But, you said I have to be strong. You said I had to believe." I let a whimper begin at the back of my throat and clamp my hand over my mouth to cut it off. It takes rocking and all my will, to keep companion sounds of misery from entering the room.
"False hope," he whispers. " They told me, as I was leaving, that being unable to sedate him means only one thing. His subconscious rules now, there is only his mission left."
I close my eyes and rock myself in the middle of the floor. He pulls me into his lap and I still don't cry or do more than rock nearly imperceptibly and stare into the red dark of my eyelids searching for distraction. My mind becomes aware of how tight he holds me as if either one of us could fall into a hidden fissure in the floor of his apartment. My breathing returns to normal and I still.
I tuck my face into that soft place under his chin and pet his stubbly face with my fingers, comforting myself in the same fashion I had with my father as a child. My eyes are still scrunched shut and I realize, Haymitch smells nice, when he's clean. I focus only on dissecting the elements of his scent. Breathing him in deeply, the booze loses power and reveals aromas of grass, hover craft oil, Sweet William cologne, dust, soap, a piney ointment and something spicy and gently hypnotic in a pleasant way. "You smell good." I breathe deeply in appreciation. I wonder why he is so clean. I have not once seen him grimy since we have been here, come to think of it. He's as rumpled and unkempt as ever, but now it is almost a little attractive and charming.
He snorts, "Don't take this wrong sweetheart, but I can't return the complement."
Offence is my first response as I open my eyes and lean back, just now realizing what a comically intimate position we have been engaged in during this moment of peace between us. His hands slide from my shoulders to rest on either side of my waist and I blush a little at the thought of what my mother would say if she happened to see he and I, like this. She would in no way approve of me straddled across a man's lap, alone in his apartment. His eyes smolder with gentle intensity and it is suddenly very uncomfortable with the undertones of this situation.
I sniff and discover I really do smell offensive. "Oh. Sorry. I need a shower. I…"I pause and swallow hard, "Can I borrow yours?" I am not ready to leave, but now that it has been brought to my attention, I am mortified at all the disagreeable odors wafting from me for his sampling.
"By all means, I would appreciate it, in fact." His natural smirk returns playfully, but behind it is another thing I can't explain.
I quickly wiggle away from him and, I swear, I almost see regret. "I will be back. And I am locking the door, by the way," I say with a snooty curl of my lips.
He stands and pushes his hips forward, popping his back and hobbling a little. He must have been very uncomfortable and shakes one leg to restore circulation. "Please, like I haven't seen you naked before. And, as if I can't pick that little contraption. If I wanted to. There is a new toothbrush in the second drawer you might consider making your own and might I suggest the deodorant powder is behind the mirror?"
"I don't have any clean cloths. So it isn't going to help much." I close the door firmly, pressing the lock loudly and smirking at the way he's probably rolling his eyes.
As I step out of the steamy shower, my stomach flutters in astonishment. On the closed toilet seat, is a clean outfit, in my size, topped with a fluffy clean towel? The door is locked. I emerge from the bathroom after dressing, cross my arms and glare at him.
He adopts the most content, pleased expression unwithered by my wrath. "Now we can both enjoy you sitting on my lap?"
I spent many hours on his lap that night, without a moment's enjoyment or embarrassment. Embarrassment is a luxury appreciated by people who don't watch friends stand in Capitol Square for execution. I didn't know Peeta's stylists well, but Portia, God Portia.
I spend the next three days watching Peeta scream. He is failing physically as well. The programming is sending wave after wave of adrenaline through his system and he's beginning to die. His voice is gone, and his mind is in constant torment. My mind is breaking with his. Haymitch's offer keeps whispering that it is the right thing to do. He says it would be painless. I don't think he is planning to let it go on much longer, no matter what I say. Each day the resolve on his face deepens and the question is there. Have I had enough?
Sometimes, when I can stand it no more I knock on Haymitch's door. I drink with him and he watches me, waiting for me to show the one I love kindness. His eyes beg me to let him relieve that boy's torture. But my mind can't do it. My heart can't accept he's already gone.
Gale and I meet in the hallway on one of these awkward mornings. His eyes accuse me of leaving Haymitch's room at such an hour, but when he wraps me in his arms, I find comfort there. I kiss him and my need builds for more than kisses. I am in his room before I realize what we are doing. Gale breathes heavy and he keeps pushing further. I don't stop him. In fact, I want to forget Peeta's screams and this is fading them nicely. I have too much octane in my blood and too much sorrow on my heart to care about right or wrong.
My virginity, so speculated over, is gone in a few moments of thoughtless want. I pull away after the first time, but Gale keeps touching me until there are no thoughts of Peeta. I need Gale and that need burns me until I am unable to think of anything else. While Peeta screams for my death, I scream the joy of his final betrayal. Gale fills my will with such fire I don't care if I never set foot out of the room again. Only when we part, do I hate myself enough to die. Only after I leave, do I find it impossible to breath. I am going to tell Haymitch he can do it, and while he is occupied, I will be following Peeta.
That is it. Peeta must complete his mission. That will save him. I can save Peeta. He deserves that at least, beings I have done the thing he can never forgive. I smile as I go to the doctors and demand they let me in to see him.
They don't like it and advise against it. "What difference does it make really? He's dieing. I know it. What you are doing isn't working. At least let me try, what harm will it do to him? Kill him faster? So what. Slow death is not better." I say as cool and steady as my aim with a bow.
They agree finally. I step in the room and He raises his eyes to me and growls.