PART ONE: The Trident Games
District Four - The Reaping
When my eyes snap open to the sound of a glass bottle shattering on the ground, I know my father is finally home. I roll over on my back and groan after I hear a thump that signifies he has passed out somewhere. Normally I wouldn't care, it happens too often, but in a few hours the reaping for the 65th Hunger Games will officially begin, and he has to be there. He'll be arrested again if he misses the festivities.
I sit up on my elbows and peer out the porthole of the boat we live on, since we can't afford our house anymore. We're lucky we still even have the boat, lucky that it was paid off a two years ago before my father started drinking. This boat is the the only thing keeping us alive, really, because I work on this boat to get us money and food. My father does occasionally, when he's sober enough to fish or not suffering from a severe hangover. Which is only occasionally.
The sky is still black, made flat and starless by the thin layer of clouds that will sink to the ground as fog later. The beaming sun will beat away the fog before the reaping starts, but that won't be for another couple hours. It can't be later than three o'clock in the morning. I'm a fisherman, and that combined with my father's night owl tendencies has made me an early riser. But I thought I might get in an extra hour or two of sleep today; it's one of the few benefits of the reaping. I guess I won't get that luxury this year.
I sit up all the way and swing my legs over the side of the bed, planting my feet firmly on the wooden floor and wiggling my toes against the cool surface, feeling the boat rocking back and forth with the motion of the waves. It's a nice thing about living on a boat, always feeling a connection with the sea. It's one of the only nice things, really.
I stretch my arms over my head and yawn. My back cracks. I roll my shoulders and smack my lips, pushing the annoying mat of hair from my eyes. I should probably get it cut before the reaping, but I know I won't. It's shaggy and falls almost to my shoulders in a limp curtain. It bothers me, but not as much as having my neck and face and ears so exposed. I like my shaggy, limp curtain better than vulnerability.
I stand up and shuffle across the room until my foot makes contact with some part of my father's body. It's too dark, so I can't see him very well. I cautiously get on my knees and feel around for the glass so I don't step on it. When I've found the majority of it and tenderly scooped it into a pile, I grab my father's arm and heave him upright, then sling my arm under his armpits to carry his weight. He's knocked out cold. Looks like I'll have to bail him out of jail this year.
I throw him onto his bed and depart from the room, climbing onto the deck of our boat. I know I should probably go back to sleep, but I won't be able to. A tight knot is writhing in my stomach, threatening to riot if I eat anything. So I don't. The reapings always make me nervous, because I'm one of the few in our district who has to sign up for tesserae. The name Finnick Odair is in that glass ball more times than I care to admit.
The cool, humid morning wind hits my face. It's nice. I hope the ocean feels this good.
I sling a towel over the railing and strip off my shirt, grabbing a bar of soap before I jump in feet first. I swim out for a while to get away from the row of docks and ships that constrict the beach, then I wash. Most people get fresh water to bathe in, at least on reaping day, but my father and I can't afford that right now. I figure that as long as I use soap, no one will know the difference. If they did, they probably wouldn't care.
I float on my back for a while, watching as the clouds fall from the sky and become fog, watching as the black canvas above me is painted soft shades of indigo and violet, then finally lavender and light blue. When I drift a little too far from the boat for comfort, I make an effort to swim back. I don't want to go back, but I can already tell that the people are rising and I don't want them to see me in the middle of the ocean with a bar of soap in my hands.
I climb back onto the boat and dry off, ducking back into the cabin to get a change of clothes. Nothing too fancy, just nice pants that are a bit too short and a collared shirt. I sling a tie over my neck, not bothering to put it on right now. I comb my hair and poise the scissors at the tips of my hair, setting them back down after a long moment without cutting it. My father is still dead to the world, even as I scrape up the glass with a broom and dispose of it in the wastebasket. It falls in the bottom with a loud clatter, but my father doesn't notice.
I grab him again and haul him onto the deck, letting him lay there for a second before grabbing a bucket and filling it with seawater. I splash it over his face, and he jerks awake with a gasp. He swears and clutches his head in both hands, squeezing his eyes shut against the morning sun. "You tryin' to kill me?" he finally manages to drawl, pressing his palms into his eyes.
"No, you don't need any help with that," I retort, throwing the bucket on the deck with as much force as I can muster. "Get dressed. The reaping starts at noon."
"You are. If you get arrested, I'm not bailing you out," I threaten, hauling him to his feet and nimbly dodging the spew that erupts from his mouth soon afterwards. He obviously hasn't eaten anything yet, it's all just bile, but it's still disgusting. I wrinkle my nose against the odor of stale liquor that I'm sure will always cling to him.
"I can't go," he moans, pushing me off of him. It's pathetic, how weak he is. "I can't..."
"You can," I say sternly, shoving him into the cabin and shifting through his drawers for his reaping clothes. He shakes his head and collapses back onto the bed, curling up into the blanket. I finally find the clothes and slam the drawer shut, turning around to see him in this ridiculous state. I kick him. He doesn't budge.
I hope he suffocates in the pillows.
"Fine," I hiss through my teeth, tossing the clothes in his direction. "I don't care if you go. I don't care if you get arrested. I'm not bailing you out this time, even if it means I have to live in the orphan house until you're released. I don't care anymore. Just go to hell."
I storm from the cabin and slam the door as hard as I can.
Like I did last year.
I'm amazed at how much I've grown in the past year. I distinctly remember being at least a head shorter than every other thirteen-year-old boy in District Four. Now I'm as tall or taller than those same boys, all a year older like me.
I don't know any of them. I'm not very popular at my school, to be honest. I'm pretty quiet, I get my work done, I don't brag about how much I can bench press. None of the girls pay me much attention either; I'm the gross, silent boy in the corner of the room that no one wants to talk to. My hair is too long, my clothes smell like fish, and my fingernails are dirty. Overall revolting. I did have my science partner tell me that I have pretty eyes under my cap of hair, but she hasn't talked to me since we finished our project.
It doesn't bother me, though. At least I don't have to worry about what they think, since they've already labeled me as the grubby misfit. If I did make a friend, I'm sure they would leave after meeting my father anyway. It's better not to go through that pain, it's better being alone.
Although, I wish I did have someone here with me now. I know my father didn't bother to peel himself out of bed; even if he did, he wouldn't be much comfort. The reapings are always nerve racking for me, because I don't pay for trainers like a lot of the others do. We don't volunteer like Districts One and Two, but we still like to be prepared for the worst. Hurricanes and Peacekeepers have programmed that into our brains.
Mayor Grubstein makes a speech, the usual drone about how Panem was brought up from the ashes of North America and the Dark Days and District Thirteen and everything else we hear every year, but for some odd reason the Capitol feels inclined to remind us of. The bright Capitol woman, Augustina I think her name is, trots onto the stage in her high heels and thrusts her hand into the girls' glass ball with a shrill, "Ladies first!"
All of District Four is holding their breath when she reads, "Muriel Cordelia!"
A girl from the seventeen-year-old's group steps up, confident and only a little bit pale. I can immediately tell that she is one of those popular people who talk about how far they can throw a spear. She's radiant and beautiful, with a shining river of smooth raven hair and the palest green eyes I've ever seen. She's rich, I can tell by her attire. If she survives long enough, she won't have any trouble getting sponsors.
Augustina totters on over to the boys' pool, and my stomach clenches. I've lost count of how many times my name is in that glass ball. She won't pick me, right? She never picks me.
She picked me.
I have to elbow my way through the crowd, because no one knows who Finnick Odair is. That statement echoes in my head. She picked me, she picked me, she picked me. I can feel myself shutting down, like I do when my father yells at me or screams into the night until the Peacekeepers knock him out and detain him. I'm shutting down, going blank. I am numb, expressionless, and I'm satisfied to see I look like that on camera too. Utterly indifferent.
I'm not sure how long it will last, but when I shake Muriel's hand I don't notice how hard I'm squeezing until she wrenches it out of her grasp and rubs her fingers with a scowl in my direction.
The Peacekeepers take me offstage and into the Justice Building, where I am to sit in a room and wait for my loved ones to come. I can already see a line forming at Muriel's room across the hall. They shove me into my own room and I sit down on the plush couch, waiting, emotionless, for someone to say goodbye, for someone to say they'd care if I died. For someone to beg me to survive and return, and that they'd be waiting for me when I did.
No one comes.
Before I say anything, I DON'T own the Hunger Games. Suzanne Collins does.
I'm sorry to say that Annie won't be coming in until the later chapters, Part Two. Mainly because I think that it's very unlikely that they would have been bestest buddies before the Games, and they were both picked just out of coincidence. It just seems like a long shot to me.
This is kind of a prequel, a paraquel, and a sequel to my first story, Sea Glass (Annie's Games). This story is going to be SUPER long (like, novel long) because it has three parts; one for each of the Games. I would make it a trilogy, but...well, then you'd have to keep up with all three of them and since I already have Sea Glass I figured I might as well just keep it all wrapped up in one shiny story.
Finnick is kind of a misfit in this chapter, but that will change with time. He'll change a lot in the story, trust me.