SHOUT OUTS:

Thanks to coaster317 and sparklegem108 for the reviews.

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DISCLAIMER:

There are several concepts, characters, and real life things that I use and/or mention in this chapter that I don't own. These include but are not limited to the Hunger Games, Finnick Odair, Starbucks, and Everclear.

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A/N: I am literally posting this in the middle of my Driver's Ed class. We do nothing at it's the worst.

Second to last chapter of WLBAG! Here's a schedule for the next couple things I'm putting up:

23 March: One year anniversary of WLBAG Part II and the THG Movie. Chapter 16 and Epilogue of WLBAG will be posted.

Sometime in April (maybe): Sidekick, my first AU project.

23 April: Two year anniversary of WLBAG. The prologue of When Beauty Became A Curse, the sequel will be posted. I will be en-route to California for DECA's International Career Development Conference that day, so if your timezone GMT+1 or greater it probably won't be the twenty-third anymore. Sorry.

Thank you for your never ending support!

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IN THIS CHAPTER: Discussion of prescription drug and alcohol abuse, Moderate strong language

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CHAPTER 15

1 January (Later)

"Grab shoes and sunglasses, we're going out."

"Why?"

"Because I need to get out and I'm forcing you to come with me. And on second thought, you should probably change clothes too."

"Yeah, I will. I'll be back."

I go back to my room and pick out new clothes. The last thing I want to do right now is go out and deal with Capitol…crap, but Jayde's losing her mind here. I grab all my stuff and meet Jayde back in her room.

"You set?" she asks.

"Yeah."

"Let's go."

We walk out and I immediately put my glasses on.

"Oh my God, sunlight. Not doing good things for this headache."

"Sorry."

"Where are we going again?"

"No clue. I just wanted to get out of that building. I guess we can just walk around and you can get the Capitol experience or whatever. Starting, with Starbucks."

I look up and see the wannabe-siren logo from my hot chocolate last month.

She pulls open the door and motions for me to go in with her head.

I step in hesitantly and stop in the door like an idiot.

A majority of the store is dark wood furniture with chrome and plate glass accents, typical Capitol, but in the center is a huge skylight with a garden underneath it. The plants are like nothing I've seen other than in the Arena, and birds fly from tree to tree. The skylight is main source of light in the room; other than that there's only a dim lamp hanging over each table.

"This is Starbucks. They started out selling coffee eons ago in a city called Seattle, but now they're a full fledged restaurant. Go ahead and pick a drink, they have coffee, chocolate, alcohol, tea, lemonade; pretty much everything you can think of. I wouldn't recommend alcohol or anything with more than two shots of espresso since you're still fighting that hangover, but it's really up to you. The list is on the back wall."

That's when I realize what I thought was just wall art with text is actually their menu. It's huge, and I don't know what half the stuff is.

"You do realize that I don't know what any of this means?"

"Everything's good, just choose something that sounds cool. Isn't that what you do at parties?"

"Yeah, okay. What are you getting?"

"Violet Espresso Con Panna Double Shot. It's two shots of espresso with violet syrup and whipped cream on top."

"Espresso?"

"Extra strong coffee. Two shots of espresso is like a medium cup of coffee."

"Right."

She pulls her phone out of her pocket and taps something in.

"What do you want?"

I just choose the first thing I see.

"Salted Layered Mocha."

She goes back to her phone. "I just ordered. That gets sent to a computer in the back where they'll make it and then send something to me when it's done."

She starts walking to a table in the corner and I follow, sitting in a chair that's surprisingly comfortable.

"When I met Lallie she had a full fledged benzodiazepine addiction on top of being a serious alcoholic. She was staying at my apartment when she got clean and sober, so I've seen her go through this tons of times. It's definitely not an ideal situation, but she'll be okay. The thing is that you can't force her to do anything. She's not going to sober up until she decides that she needs to, and that just takes time. I know you don't want to watch her drink herself into a coma, but she's not going to, and she's just going to drink more if you bother her. As far as the Xanax, I took the bottle so she'll have to deal with coming down and that will be that, unless she gets more or has more somewhere else. I'm going to hope not though, because if she manages to get addicted again we'll have a whole other problem on our hands. I don't think she would, but in reality I have no idea how far she's willing to take this, and that scares me."

I nod. "Honestly, you were right, she scared the shit out of me. She's the closest to someone who I can relate to because she's been through a lot of the same stuff as me, so seeing her lose it like that is scary. Lately I've had to force myself to even try to keep it together, and that certainly doesn't help. Why should I try if Lallie, who tries so hard, can sink that low that quickly?"

Jayde smiles sadly. "It's definitely hard. Lallie would have something nice and encouraging to say here, but honestly, I don't. That's why we keep her around, she's good at this kind of thing. She's also a lot more vigilant than I am. Her thing is all 'Do or die, fuck the world, I'm going to live how I want to live, and if you don't like it you can go screw yourself.' I'm not that brazen."

"Exactly. That also makes you a lot more stable though, and keeps you from getting into a lot of shitty situations. Yes I am talking about the week where we probably didn't sleep for more than ten hours combined trying to get everything set up for the D4 model recruitment."

"But you guys pulled that off and it was absolutely fantastic. She's a risk taker and I'm not, that's why we're good together."

Her phone vibrates and she looks down at it.

"And our drinks are ready."

We walk up to a counter where a woman who's surprisingly human looking hands us two cups.

"Finnick Odair," she says with a smile.

I nod.

"It's nice to meet you, I'm Chaiyla and I'm the Starbucks Regional Manager for the Business District."

"Nice to meet you."

She smiles at Jayde. "How have you been doing? I haven't seen you in awhile."

"I've just been super busy, but I'm doing well, thanks."

She gives us another dazzling smile. "Well it was nice to see you, and hopefully I will again soon."

Jayde and I both smile before taking our drinks and walking out.

"Is she always that…smiley?"

"Yes. It used to drive me crazy, but I don't know, I guess there's something nice about someone who's actually happy at work and wants to spread that to their customers."

I take a sip of the drink in my hand and it'sheavenly. Chocolate, salt, coffee, and other things I don't even recognize.

"What's in this?"

"It's a base of salted mocha syrup, a fancy chocolate, with hot chocolate, then a shot of espresso, and then crème fraîche, a thick cream, topped with chocolate and sea salt. It's ridiculously rich, but really good."

I don't know what half of that is, but I take another sip.

I guess this is the Capitol.

2 January

"I want to apologize to you. What I did wasn't fair to you or Jayde."

I nod. "Thanks."

"I also want to tell you what happened that night. I think I owe you that at least."

"Lallie—"

"Nope, this is what I want to do, Finnick. I've always considered myself a recovering alcoholic. Before this I had been sober for almost a year, but still it was so hard for me to keep it under control that I still felt like I was recovering. Anyway, I totally overestimated my control last night, which is what I get for trying to use alcohol as a tranquilizer. I have really high tolerance because of my alcoholic past, so I don't even start to feel anything until the third or fourth shot unless it's from the Everclear line or something. Unfortunately, I also completely lose the ability to make good decisions around the third or fourth shot as well. That's why I can't drink to get drunk. So I don't. But I was stressed out and tired, which makes it so much worse, at a party with multiple open bars, alone. Usually when I go to stuff I like that I have Jayde with me. I can go to her and tell her I'm struggling and then she can help me manage it. It helps a lot to just hear someone else vocalize that it's not a good idea. But when I'm alone…I gave into it. Figured one night wouldn't make a difference."

"So you drank too much and then you just continued to drink because you felt guilty about drinking."

"No. My tolerance is just really weird. Physically I never get much. Eventually I start to slur a little bit, but no matter how much I drink I never get to the phase where you can't walk in a straight line or anything like that. On the other hand, psychologically and emotionally it's very abrupt. I feeling nothing, and then suddenly God forbid I need to make a decision I'm screwed. So I did something really, really stupid and really, really wrong, and I'm not even going to go there, because Ican't. And then once it was over I was like, 'What the fuck did I just do?' I had to stay at the stupid thing but I was just feeling like shitso I went to the only thing I know, drugs. Found somebody, bought the pills, took two, and let it fade. But then I got home and I felt guilty for what happened, and for taking pills for the first time in over a year, so I took more pills, and…it just spiraled out of control."

"So how did you stop?"

"I know my limits on both, and I'm not going to overdose myself regardless of how self-destructive I am. I had a little bit of a breakthrough and I locked myself in my room knowing that coming down was going to be horrific. I hadn't fully come down in twenty-four hours so I knew I'd be getting a little bit of benzo withdrawal, and I did. It was miserable, but it had to happen."

I nod. She was doing the exact same thing I did.

It just ended a lot worse for her because of her prior history with alcohol.

"Sorry for putting you through that."

"No, my response was probably unfair. It just freaked me out, because if you can fall apart that quickly then there's no hope for me. You're older than me and a hell of a lot stronger."

"Am I? Stronger is so relative; we haven't been through the same stuff so how can you compare? If you don't want to fall into this and you fight it then you're strong, and the rest is just semantics and irrelevant details."

I'm silent for a moment. I suppose she's right. I have to fight, or else I'm going to end up as a heap on the floor.

Or dead.

This is the life of a victor. The fight never ends.

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A/N: I had calmed down with the references to real brands for awhile, but I just had to bring up Starbucks again. It has a special place in my heart. And yes, therewas a point to the mediocre Starbucks scene. See if you can figure it out ;)

One more chapter! Eeep!

A note: I've mentioned before that I review Hunger Games fanfiction for a blog called Nightlock. My main responsibility is to choose the Author of the Month. At this point I have already mentioned most of my favorite authors, so if you have any favorite THG authors that you think are worthy, please let me know in a PM or review! Thank you!

-cindella204