Title: Cinna of the Capitol
Summary: One worldly young man, his unknown story and his sacrifice. A tribute to Cinna.
Notes: I'm very curious about Cinna's past, so I decided to make my own version. I was very, very inspired by the song My Love by Sia. The lyrics, the tone, the mood was the driving force of the second half. I highly recommend checking the song out. I apologize for the grammatical errors; please bear with me.
Disclaimers: If I owned THG, this fic wouldn't be here.
My love, leave yourself behind
Beat inside me, leave you blind
-My Love, Sia
It was May 20th 2036. A boy was born to the Caesar family. His proud father was the Head of the Games Committee; his mother a successful reality show producer. Sixteen years later, he's driving fast cars and wearing fancy clothes and banging random hot strangers. After all, what else would a young lad with sharp wit, undeniable charm and dashing good looks be doing? He's just one of the many socialites of the flourishing city.
A millionaire. A bright mind. In every way, the Cinna of the Capitol was nothing but materialistic scum.
Cinna Caesar can do anything that he wanted. He can be anyone he wanted. But when asked who he wanted to be, he wasn't able to answer right away. He could remember a day in kindergarten when their teacher asked them what they wanted to do. A nerdy kid wanted to be a scientist. An obese bully wanted to be a wrestler. His best friend, Lars Snow, wanted to be the Chief of the Military. But when it was his turn to reveal his grand future master plan, he had no answer but silence.
His father hoped that he'd be interested in engineering or architecture, so he may one day follow his ingeniously cruel footsteps. His mother decided that his pretty face and smoking hot body was meant for the entertainment industry when he turned fourteen. Cinna was not fond of building blocks or memorizing some cheesy lines, but he was not much fond of anything else anyway, so he decided that he'd just go with the flow.
When he was sixteen, Lars offered him a slot in the military. The candid, disheveled bad boy told him about the beautiful women, the pot of gold, and, above all, the lifetime of power and glory. If he remembered it right, twelve years ago, Lars defined his dream career as "the honor of protecting the peace and justice in Panem" not "Heaven". He didn't like brandishing guns or hunting down the pesky, illiterate rebels (though he was damn good at both), but soon enough in the job he realized that he didn't have to do any of those (except if he wanted to).
A reputable soldier. A multi-awarded member of the Forces. The Cinna of the Military was nothing but a power-hungry megalomaniac.
At eighteen, Cinna was assigned as Chief Security Officer of 68th Hunger Games. His parents couldn't be prouder. Finally, a task which involved both of their careers. Cinna didn't give a damn. It was glory and riches and even more amazing sex. That was all.
She was different from all the Victors he had ever watched. They nicknamed her the Snake, for she stealthily creeps up on her opponents, biding her time silently and strategically, then strikes at the perfect moment. He thought it was perfect. She never fought the Power War; she always fought the Wits War. At the beginning she was just a meek, shy, naïve seventeen year-old with which he took no interest in and at the end, she was the feisty femme fatale he vowed to own and consume.
"An amazing game," he told her, elegantly clapping as he approached her and put on his best charming face.
"Why, thank you," she replied, eyes twinkling. She sipped some champagne, never for one second taking her eyes off of him. Big, bright, piercing brown eyes. "Could I be honored to know my loyal fan's name?"
"Cinna Caesar," he casually said, holding out his hand.
She smiled a smile saccharine sweet, accepting his hand and shaking it. "A pleasure to meet the head honcho of these brainless, tattling bodyguards. I'm more of a man than them; and, I assume, than you too."
Cinna felt as if a punch hit him at the gut. That punch was excitement.
"Sweetheart," he leered in a low voice, closing the distance between them. "If you accompany me tonight, I'm confident I could impress upon you how much of a man I am."
The redhead sneered. "We'll see about that."
She was not what he was expecting. She was better. Johanna Mason was a whole lot better.
Johanna laid beside him, cigarette in one hand, a flute of champagne in another. They were both fully naked underneath the immaculate white sheets. The dim lights danced on her face and Cinna swore to himself that she was the hottest girl he had ever bedded.
"This is a very nice room," she commented offhandedly, looking at the wall. "And what do you do for this—all this? Walk around, call the shots, bed hot women."
"That's not all that I have to do," he said firmly, not a little stung. "You don't know how dangerous the crowd can get. Some of the sponsors lose millions after the Games. Some are even associated with illegal underground associations. And the people from the Districts. Some of them have lost their heads. Some are just plain rabid. The people upstairs become very vulnerable and if security is not kept uptight, anyone can seize the opportunity. Kidnapping, explosions, blackmail, anything can happen."
"Yet here you are, with me," She said, with a somewhat peculiar smile on her face. "Am I so hot that you decided to leave all your important duties behind to fuck me?"
"You're one to talk. You left everyone out there to fuck me too. And I gave you one hell of a good time," he whispered into her ear, a wide grin on his face. "Who's less of a man than you again?"
Johanna sat up so suddenly that he fell back. With the same out-of-place smile, she faced him. "You."
Before Cinna could make some sort of comeback, she laughed mockingly and stood, leaving the astonished man lying on the bed, clearly thinking that he had already dealt with the challenge. "Don't screw with me, you bitch."
The cutting remark only made her grin wider. He finally understood what it was. A sly grin. The grin of someone who won. "You have a dirty mouth. It was indeed a great night, pretty boy, but it's not because of the sex," Johanna tapped a finger on her chin and after some thought, added, "Which was lame actually."
Johanna shut the door behind her and walked out with her head held high, not caring one bit that she had absolutely nothing on.
It wasn't the last time Cinna Caesar encountered her.
Johanna Mason was just another girl in his hit list. A trophy. Aside from the stars of honor on their uniforms, that's what them soldiers, protectors of justice and peace, consider as harbingers of glory. Gorgeous women. But Johanna was different from all the women he's met and fucked and fucked up.
He had never had a harder time hooking a girl. Never. Which was exactly why he can't just let her go. He followed her throughout the Victory Tour. He requested to be assigned as the Head Peacekeeper of District 5. Lars sneered at him about something along the lines of getting stuck at some hick town with crude, uneducated nobodies because of a girl. 'Get too close to a snake and you'd be bitten and dying before you know it,' a part of him the self-professed womanizer, brimming of self-righteous ego, will not back down over Johanna freaking Mason.
One thing to be said about Cinna was that no matter how many medals he had hanging in his quarters, no matter how good a sniper he was, behind the swagger, he was still an eighteen year-old boy. He had never been outside the Capitol, except during Victory Tours wherein the situation was always under strict control. He had never seen children on the streets, begging for a chunk of stale bread. He had never seen people who looked nothing else but flesh and bone, said flesh rotting with open sores left untreated. He had never seen men working their backs off and getting meager salaries just enough to get by one more day (and sometimes not even so).
It only took one man, one little whisper, to confirm the doubts which have been eating at him, at his pride, at his soul.
Of course, it didn't take a long time before Cinna made sure that this Peacekeeper will never speak of him that way again-will never speak at all again—but it was said and done and once confronted by the truth, he had no choice but to face it head-on.
He's not a sympathizer, no, Cinna Caesar is a full-fledged citizen of the Capitol. He had no mercy for disgusting, worthless scum. It didn't matter that it was Johanna's best friend who vowed to sabotage the next Reaping in one way or another. One hundred slashes in the middle of the day at the middle of the plaza, for everyone to see. Nothing else mattered.
But that night, the only thing which mattered was the look in Johanna's eyes, the betrayal and the hatred in those wide, bright eyes as four men carried a body wrapped in cloth away from the square. It was then that he realized that he'd been bitten and wasting away a long time ago. She was killing him. He drank until those eyes disappeared from his vision, until he could feel the compassion and the guilt and he could crush them under his foot. The raindrops were thudding on the ground and thunder was breaking through the silence but all he could hear was his heartbeat. She came knocking on his door and proceeded to reward him with a big slap across the face. In return, he gave her everything he was and everything he felt and everything he knew. He didn't quite know himself anymore and wanted to make her know him; make her understand him. And she accepted.
He finally owned her and consumed her and she did the same to him. Just that night.
After everything, Johanna grabbed the bottle of vodka on the bedside table and chugged the remaining contents, which was about half the container. She looked away and said, "It's over."
Confusion reigned in his head. "What?"
A small, regretful smile appeared on her face. "I'm done. My part's done. Can you believe it? All this time. It's all a lie."
A cold feeling flowed lecherously in Cinna's veins and froze his heart. "A lie."
"Do you think I came with you at that stupid party because I wanted you? Don't flatter yourself," her bitter laugh filled the air. "A lie. Yes, it all was. Ash, what he said, it was all part of the plan. I had to shake you; to make you tell me everything you knew."
"Ash. He's your best friend. It was your intention to let him die." Even to him, his voice sounded hollow.
She sounded so dispassionate, so detached, that when anger suddenly flashed in her eyes, he inwardly struggled for breath.
"Yes. Yes, it was," she said, voice hard as stone. "He had to die. The death of one for the lives of many. He knew that. He'd be happy to die for this. I've learned in the arena that no one can win without collateral damage. You should know that better than I do. The Capitol always wins; it doesn't matter who pays the price. It doesn't matter who suffers. It doesn't matter who dies. Ash is my best friend, and I sacrificed him."
She stood up from the bed and faced him squarely, eyes as cold as the night. "I love you, Cinna. But it doesn't matter. You're just collateral damage."
The Cinna of the Capitol died. It was the Cinna of Johanna who shed tears.
The next day, he went back to the Capitol. The first thing he did was hand in his resignation.
When he met Johanna, he was given a chance. She taught him things he didn't understand. She made him see things he didn't see. Things Cinna didn't want to see; things he pretended didn't exist. Because all his life, he'd lived as a citizen of the Capitol. He'd lived in a grand mansion, went to ostentatious parties, worn fancy clothes. He'd been in the fast lane. And like every other citizen of the Capitol, like the worthless, disgraceful scum that he was, he couldn't give it all up. So he pretended.
But Cinna can't pretend anymore. He can't pretend that those people didn't have dreams and hopes and lives because they weren't allowed to those. They deserved those things; more that he ever did and ever will.
What he was about to do was dangerous. He would go against his parents. He would go against the military. He would go against the Capitol. Against himself. But it didn't matter. Some things had to be stopped.
A man who's fighting a battle already lost. The Cinna of the Districts had left everything behind and took the chance given to him.
Cinna didn't look up from the sketchbook in front of him. He didn't even wince when the door banged shut after that simple, flat, barely contained statement.
"Don't you fucking ignore me!" Lars raged across the room and grabbed his collar. More than a hundred pencils in a myriad of colors fell on the floor. God, he knew he should've listened to Portia about updating his prehistoric tools.
"Quitting from the military was stupid. You were on top. People would kill to be there, do you know that? But that was fine. I could take that. You were never really keen on becoming a soldier in the first place. But this? This job where you sew some goddamn clothes like my great-grandma and hold some fucking pencils instead of guns? Are you insane?"
It was clear that the question was rhetorical. He kept his silence and calm countenance.
"What happened, huh, Cinna?" he asked him sincerely, frustrated concern plain in his (currently very trendy) red-irised eyes. "What happened in five?"
He continued staring evenly at those eyes, composure very much apparent. He knew Lars and his nasty fits; the solution would not be screaming back.
"You could tell me…God knows you can tell me." All traces of anger were gone from his best friend's voice.
But he couldn't. Cinna knew he couldn't.
Realization slowly dawned on Lars' face. "It's her, isn't it?"
He didn't answer.
"It's her. Johanna Mason. Did she talk you into this? Brought you over to her worthless, indolent group of rebels? Is that it? I knew it. I knew you never should've gone to those stupid, pathetic barbarians. Cinna, It's not too late to-"
"Yes Lars, it's too late." He grabbed Lars' collar and lifted him an inch or so off the ground. Who cares if raging on like an infuriated, vengeful bull wasn't the perfect way to fend Lars off? "It's too late for you to waltz in and tell me that I'm being stupid and that I'm throwing away everything that I have and could've had. It's too late for you to change my mind. It's too late for you to try to convince me that these people deserve to be whipped and abused and killed and that I should be happy to fucking do that myself."
For a few seconds, the brazen young man was rendered speechless. A first. "How could you have changed this much?"
"People change. I've changed. You've changed. Don't you remember how you ran around, flaunting toy guns and wearing a military uniform back when we were four year-olds? Do you remember how you used to say that you will become an honorable soldier, a protector of justice and harmony when you grew up?" Cinna gave a short derisive chuckle. "And look at you now. General Lars Snow. You are nothing but a selfish, greedy, womanizing bastard."
Before Cinna knew what was happening, he was on the floor, nursing his aching jaw. He laughed.
"Say what you want to say, Lars," he said, calmly picking up the coloring materials and putting them back to his case. "But this is who I am now. Everyone else doesn't matter."
"How about me," the huffing man said point-blank. "Do I still matter to you?"
He stared long at his friend. "Even you," Cinna replied. "Even you don't matter anymore."
The stylist continued drawing nonchalantly, even when he heard the door shut close gently. Collateral damage. That's what Lars is now.
He could remember it very clearly.
"This is our girl." Beetee announced, starting the video.
She grabbed a branch and, very nimbly, swung her way to the top. She efficiently balanced herself on a slim branch and took a good look around. After a minute or so, she climbed down just as swiftly and started to hunt. She was silent. She was stealthy. She was strategic. She striked at the perfect moment.
Cinna tried not to think of who she reminded him of.
She stopped when the sun went down and, looking a few times around, she emerges from the fence. But she's looking at the wrong place.
"So they gave you District 12."
He laughed inside. "I chose District 12."
Here she was, right in front of him, with her nonchalant voice and cold gray eyes. So different, yet so the same. He saw the sadness, saw the disgust, saw the ruthlessness. She was unforgiving. Cinna wanted to run away, to drink until those eyes disappeared from his vision, just as he did six years ago. It all came back to him. And for one moment, he allowed himself to forget his mask-the role he had to play as impeccably as he can so all the plans they have made all these years will not go to waste. He allowed himself one moment to truly feel his hatred; for the Capitol, for the soldiers, for his parents, for himself.
"How despicable we must seem to you."
Cinna didn't want her to shoot him.
It was all going as planned. The associates from District 12 were able to place both Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark in the Games. Sure, it was Prim whose name was drawn, but that was just part of it. Wouldn't it be too suspicious if it was Katniss' name in that piece of paper? They were sure that the girl would sacrifice herself for her younger sister anyway. Haymitch was able to encourage the boy to use a romantic angle as his primary strategy. Plutarch was able to push enough sponsors to keep the two alive. And they were right; of course the Capitol would fall for this bait.
There was only one more factor. One more gamble. Would Katniss be able to get both her and Peeta out alive?
Cinna knew everyone else was hoping. Expecting. But he knew they didn't feel the way he felt. He knew that only his heart, his soul, was screaming inside.
Because he wasn't just rooting for her so the plan will be completed.
Her decision symbolized something else for him. It symbolized hope. It symbolized what-could've-been. What they could've been. Peeta would not be Katniss' sacrifice, her collateral damage. He trusted her not to repeat his mistakes, and hermistakes.
'I'm betting on you, fire girl.'
You came thoughtfully, loved me faithfully
You took my hand added a plan
"Was it always this heavy?"
"I had to make some slight alterations because of the lighting," he lied smoothly.
It didn't make sense to her. That much he knows. After tonight, everything will make sense. To Katniss, to the Capitol, to the Districts, to her.
"Now, Katniss, because this bodice is so fitted, I don't want you raising your arms above your head. Well, not until you twirl, anyway."
"Will I be twirling again?" she innocently asked.
"I'm sure Caesar will ask you. And if he doesn't, you suggest it yourself. Only not right away. Save it for your big finale,"
And a big finale, it will most certainly be.
You gave it all, gave into the call
You took a chance and you took a fall for us
It was not a question. The tone was empty, the voice deadly soft.
The voice was the one he'd been waiting to hear-been wanting to hear-and now it was so close that his heartbeat stuttered and the hair on his nape rose.
"Johanna," he said just as softly.
"It didn't have to be this way." She said blankly. "So why."
"Because." It wasn't an answer. It will never be enough of an answer, of an end, of a goodbye. Now, Johanna had no one. But whatever it was that they were had become his sacrifice. "Because winners always have collateral damage."
Now I am strong
You taught me honor, you did it for me
"My dress was fantastic last night," Katniss said, eyes alight with recognition. 'Fantastic and reckless,' Cinna knew.
"I thought you might like it," he answered with a tight smile. If he wasn't smiling, he would be doing something else. Maybe trembling, maybe punching walls, maybe crying. And he didn't want her to see that.
Cinna couldn't let her see that.
He sat beside her, holding her hand, letting her think that he is there for her and not her for him. He held her tighter. Even as he walked her to her launch pad, he didn't let go of her hand.
"Remember, girl on fire," he said with all the strength he could muster, with all of the iron will which brought him that far. "I'm still betting on you."
He kissed her forehead, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. Moss, evergreen, life which will not die. He stepped back and the glass barriers rose around her. He hoped that it would only separate them physically, that he can stay with her.
"Thank you," she mouthed. In his head, he thanked her back.
Johanna Mason gave him his first chance, and he took it. Katniss Everdeen gave him another chance. The last.
The metal plate didn't rise.
He was afraid. He knew. There was not an announcement, not a single hint of any threat. But he knew.
'Today is the day I die.'
It could be said that Cinna died, if he'd ever lived. If he hadn't only existed to be another pawn of the Capitol. If he'd ever become a person who had a soul. And he had. Because he didn't want to die without really living.
When the door behind him burst open and three Peacekeepers sprang into the room, he knew with mixed despair and relief that his part was done. When they pinned his arms behind him and cuffed him, he wished that Katniss would know why he did what he did and how it would all be in vain if she didn't win, not against the other Victors, but win against the real enemy. When they hit him in the temple with such force he's knocked to his knees, he tried to forget her soundless screams, the horror in her face, and tried to picture a hopeful smile in its place, knowing that, deep inside, that picture would someday come to reality. When the pain started to kick in and fill almost his every thought, he had spared one, his last one.
'Katniss, I know your fire will never die.'
My love, you have found peace
Tonight you will sleep for good
You gave all you had and now I am home
Leave yourself behind
Beat inside me;
I'll be with you