Distclaimer: I may not be Suzanne Collins, but guess what? Suzanne Collins isn't me, so ha! Enjoy!


Supper is the most awkward thing that I've ever had to endure.

Effie and I walk into the room, and I see Peeta already sitting at the dining table, an empty seat next to him.

"Where's Haymitch?" Effie Trinket asks.

"Last time I saw him, he said he was going to take a nap," says Peeta.

"Well it's been an exhausting day," Effie says.

Our meal comes in courses. There's soup, salad, mashed potatoes, cheese and fruit and even a chocolate cake! Effie Trinket reminds us to save room because there's more to come, but I barely hear her over the sound of my chewing. Once my fork is empty, I fill it up with another food while I'm chewing, because I've never seen so much food at once in my life.

"At least you two have decent manners," Effie says as we finish our main course. "The pair last year ate everything with their hands like a couple of savages. It completely upset my digestion."

I scowl at her and throw my knife on my plate, eating the rest of the meal with my hands.

I grab a slice of the cake with my hands and stuff the whole think in my mouth. I chew it and swallow, then lick my hands and fingers. I wipe the rest of the frosting on the tablecloth, making Effie purse her lips together.

I catch Peeta's eye. He's covering his mouth with the back of his hand, but I can see his grin.

When we finish our meal, I see Peeta looking a bit green, and know I must look the same way, because we're both not used to such rich food.

We go to another compartment and sit down to watch a recap of the reapings on the television.

Few people stand out to me; A huge boy who steps up to volunteer from District 2. A girl who resembles a fox from District 5. A boy with a crippled foot from District 10. But the worst of all is a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She reminds me, frighteningly, of Prim even though she has dark skin and brown eyes. When they ask for volunteers, no one comes forth.

Lat they show District 12. They show Prim being called, me taking her place, Gale pulling her off of me. They show me mounting the stage, followed by Peeta Mellark.

I see that my face twists in pain, even though I was trying to hide it.

Effie is complaining about her wig, then makes a comment about Haymitch's state.

"Your mentor has a lot to learn about presentation. A lot about televised behavior."

Peeta laughs. "He waas drunk," he says. "He's drunk every year."

I snort. "More like every day."

I meant to say that in my head, but I guess it just slipped out….

Peeta's shoulders are shaking, so I think he might be laughing, which is good. I guess.

"Yes," Effie retorts. "How odd you two find it amusing. You know your mentor is your lifeline to the world in these Games. The one who advises you, lines up your sponsers, and dictates the presentation of any gifts. Haymitch can well be the difference between your life and your death!"

Haymitch stumbles in, as if on cue, and bobs his head in our direction. "I miss supper?" he asks in a slurred voice. Then he vomits over the carpet and collapses.

"So laugh away!" Effie Trinket yells, before hopping around the mess and out the door.


We drop Haymitch in his bathtub and look at each other, then Haymitch, then at each other again.

"I'll just call one of the Capitol attendants to clean him up then, shall I?" he says.

"Yeah," I reply.

We both walk to the door and squeeze through. I walk to my room, but Peeta keeps walking to find somebody to clean Haymitch.

When I'm inside, I grab the cookies that Peeta's father gave me. I give them a short look before stuffing them in my mouth.

Each cookie brings on another sob and another round of tears.

When I finish the last cookie, I tip over to the other side and fall over again. I didn't realize that the train stopped for fuel.

"Ow!" I yell.

I rub my shoulder. I fell on the same spot as I did this morning. It's sure to be bruised now.

Once I'm back up, I twist my arm around, knowing it won't help, but it's the least I can do.

Then, I strip off my shirt and pants and go to sleep in my underclothes.


The next thing I know, my eyes squeeze tight and then flutter open when I'm bothered by a reminder of a "big day, big day, big day!"

I put my outfit from yesterday on and try, unsuccessfully, to rub the sleep out of my eyes.

I run my fingers through my hair and remember that it was unbraided. I quickly put it in one braid and walk to the dining room.

I see Peeta holding a soft roll in his hand.

"Hey, Katniss," he says, tossing me a roll. I catch it with both hands, my knees slightly bent, and realize I must look pretty stupid, so I straighten up and take a bite.

"Sit down! Sit down!" Haymitch yells, beckoning me over. I sit down and am served eggs, ham, and piles of fried potatoes.

My eyes skim across the table until they fall on a rich brown liquid resting on the table.

"They call it hot chocolate," says Peeta. "It's good."

I take a sip of the drink and, before I know it, it's gone. I must have been chugging it down. When it's gone, I start stuffing my face again, but make sure to pace myself with the rich stuff.

When I absolutely cannot eat anymore, I look around at everyone else eating around me. Peeta is taking bits off his roll and dipping it in his hot chocolate. Haymitch, as usual, is drinking.

"So," Peeta says, not looking up from his food. "Do you have any advice for us?" I realize he's addressing Haymitch. And that I've been staring at him.

"Here's some advice. Stay alive," says Haymitch, then breaks out laughing, but neither Peeta nor I can see what's so funny. Peeta doesn't refrain from making that opoint clear.

"That's very funny," he says. Then he lashes out on Haymitch's glass and watches it shatter on the ground, letting the liquid spread. "Only not to us."

Haymitch then turns to Peeta and punches him square in the jaw. Peeta falls from his chair, and my eyes grow wide.

"Stop!" I yell, more at Haymitch then at Peeta. Well, okay, I'm just yelling at Haymitch and none at Peeta.

He reaches for his spirits but I grab a knife and drive it between the bottle and his hands. I'm waiting for Haymitch to hit me, but he doesn't. For some reason, I'm offended by that.

"Well what's this?" Haymitch says. "Did I actually get a pair of fighters this year?"

Peeta stands and snatches some ice. He's about to place it on his jaw, but Haymitch stops him.

"No, let the bruise show," Haymitch says. "The audience will think you've mixed it up with another tribute before you even made it into the arena."

"That's against the rules," Peeta says.

"But you weren't caught. Even better," he says, then turns to me. "Can you hit anything with that knife besides a table?"

I realize this is my moment to make an impression on Haymitch, and Peeta. I get the knife out of the table, grip the handle, and throw it at the wall. Instead of just getting it stuck in the wall, it wedges itself into a seam between two panels.

I grin and look at Haymitch, as if I meant to do that. Haymitch looks impressed, and I'm pleased to see that Peeta is too.

"Stand over here. Both of you," Haymitch instructs. We obey and he circles us and prods us, checking our muscles- I can't help peeking at Peeta's- and our faces.

"All right, I'll make you a deal. You don't interfere with my drinking, and I'll stay sober enough to help you. But you have to do exactly what I say."

That sounds good, so I don't object.

"Fine," Peeta and I say at the same time. I don't know why, but I blush.

"So help us." I say, but Haymitch interrupts me.

"Up-bup-bup!" he yells, holding his hand right up to my nose. "One thing at a time, sweetheart." Then he tells us that soon we'll be with our stylists, bringing a frown to my face. "You're not going to like what they're going to do," he says. "But don't resist.

"But-" I begin.

"No 'buts.' Don't resist."

Hey grabs a bottle of spirits and leaves Peeta and me alone.

He walks away from me and over to a dark window in the train. We must be in a tunnel, and suddenly, my chest tightens. I hate tunnels. Or anywhere underground really.

Once the light comes, Peeta presses his face against the window and opens his mouth in awe. I run to the window and understand his amazement. The Capitol is amazing. But the colors, they're too bright, and all unnatural.

People start to point at us, knowing that this is a tribute train.

I just stare out the window, but Peeta does something completely different: He starts waving and smiling and even winking at the people outside.

I knit my eyebrows at him and he shrugs.

"One of them may be rich," he says.

You know, I would have been quite frightened by the fact that Peeta is trying to get sponsors, meaning he wants to try and stay alive, not to mention kill me, but I feel quite relieved for some reason. I don't know why, but then it hits me: I want him to win. I want Peeta to go home as a victor.

And I'll make sure that happens, no matter what it takes.


A/N: So at first I was going to make this a One Shot, but then I changed my mind, so it's going to keep going. So thank you so much to all my reviewers! I didn't think I would get this many reviews for just for my first chapter, so thank you guys! You're really the best! So I'm going to be posting for this story and my other story (A Strange Sense of déjà vu) more frequently because it's summer! *Woot woot*

Okay, see you next update! Ciao!

~Telling Time Backwards