Title: Cruel

Summary: You are surrounded by death, the dead, and the dying. And she is the reason for it. Because war is never kind. Drabble.

Characters/Pairing: This is told from the perspective of someone in the hospital that Katniss visits in Mockingjay.

Warning/Spoilers: Dark themes.

A/N: Beta'd by Faded Classic. This is my first HG fic—it's also ficlet number 10—and I think it turned out pretty good for something written at 1:30 in the morning! :D What do you think?

Dedication: To my lovely spouses. You know who you are.


Cruel

· A Drabble ·


A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

~ Oscar Wilde


You are surrounded by death, the dead, and the dying.

You listen to the moans of the desperate and the helpless silently, your throat too dry to work. All the while, the only thing you can think is this is war.

Because it is. The Capitol doesn't care if you're on your way to school or on your way to work; if they think there is an appropriate time to bomb you, they will. And that's how you ended up in this flimsy hospital—on your way to school with your sister. You saw the hovercrafts. She didn't.

You tried to warn her, you really did. But she was reading a book given to her by the mayor's wife for doing her laundry, and you know how she gets when she's reading. Books are such a rarity in Eight, and she can never be pulled from their depths until their tale is told.

And that is how you watched your sister be blown to pieces by Capitol hovercrafts, crouching behind some rubble from previous bombings. The last thing you realized was that her blood was spattered all over you, and then the pain became too much and you passed out.

Now, you have just come to, in an overcrowded, run-down building hastily assembled as a hospital. The whole place is in shambles, really. An unconscious boy is to your right, and a dead girl is on your left. No one has come by to cover her face with a cloth. Her gray eyes are glassy and unseeing, and as you stare at her, you think, am I next?

The heat and pain is intense, but you push on. Mother always said that the world is unforgiving to the weaklings, and only the tough survive. It's a kill-or-be-killed planet, and you are one of the few who hover in the middle—always at risk of dying, but never afraid to fight back.

This is war.

You close your eyes, just for a moment, and then snap them back open when you realize what you're doing. No, no, mustn't sleep. So you settle for staring at the ceiling of the building.

You stare at the ceiling for the longest time, your sister's death replaying over and over in your mind. Why didn't you help her? Why were you so selfish? You didn't do anything to save her!

The war isn't worth it. Killing people does nothing but make people dead.

Voices rippled through the heat, and you turn your head to the side—not only to see what the commotion is, but also to make the fly that has been buzzing around your head leave you alone.

A girl is standing among the throes of the wounded, surrounded by camera crews. She is holding the wrist of a boy next to her tightly. Her name is being whispered throughout the hospital.

Katniss! Katniss Everdeen! The Mockingjay! She's here! voices whisper, belonging to no one in particular. She looks disturbed by what she sees in the hospital, but then she looks up and meets the eyes of Commander Paylor. She lets go of the boy's wrist and narrows her eyes, and you can't help a stab of admiration for her daring. Not many people can brave the hospital without vomiting at least once.

And you watch her as she interacts with the wounded and slowly moves closer to your makeshift mattress composed of old blankets and padding salvaged from ruins. She is the Mockingjay, the hero of the war, the one who will bring down Snow's dictatorship—and you cannot bring yourself to care.

She is the reason your sister is dead.

She is the reason this war is happening.

She is the reason a hovercraft bombed the factory your parents were in.

You are unable to move, but you stare at the Mockingjay with all the hatred you can muster, and hope to any God there is that she can feel your eyes on her, and know. Know that she caused this, that it's her fault everyone you love is dead, and that you are about to join them.

And then Katniss Everdeen moves to stand in front of you and smiles. Her smile falters when she sees your glare, and she reaches out to clasp your good hand. Your writing hand was shattered in the bombing blast.

"Hello," she whispers quietly. Her hair is matted to her scalp from the heat, and sweat has formed on her brow. It makes her more human to you, but you silence your thoughts with the quick memory of watching the factory explode before your eyes from your house. The one that your father was in for only ten more minutes. If the bombers had come ten minutes later, he would've been safe. He would've been okay. And they were bombing the factories because Eight was rebelling—in her name.

You glare at her. Your fault! you want to scream. Your throat is too dry to speak. I'm going to die because of you! I never wanted this!

But this is war, and nothing is too cruel in war.

Katniss clasps your hand and smiles at you one last time before moving on to the dead girl. When she receives no response from the gray-eyed child, she swallows hard and closes her eyes.

Good. Let her feel the guilt.

You keep your eyes trained on her the entire time, up until she stands on a table to give the crowd in the hospital their final farewell. The sounds of the hopeless changed over time, to become a name filled with new hope: Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire, the Mockingjay.

Katniss Everdeen, the girl who is the reason your family's remains are rotting in a mass grave.

Despite your hatred of her, you cannot help but to feel a little twinge of . . . something. You can't tell what it is—but maybe, maybe this war isn't completely doomed. Maybe the Capitol can be brought down.

Katniss Everdeen, the Mockingjay, disappears through the doors and you stare at them, waiting for her to come back. Excited whispers of the wounded fill the air, and you lay in your cot, waiting for something to happen.

Surely the Capitol has heard of this by now. Surely they will come to extract vengeance and hope to ensnare the little Mockingjay in their death net.

Nothing happens. For a few more minutes, anyway. Your eyes get heavier, and you tear your eyes away from the doors to gaze at the ceiling again.

Then come the sirens.

Don't close your eyes, you think. Don't give up.

Although, you're paralyzed from the neck down. It's not as if you can save yourself.

Shut up, you tell your brain.

Gunfire erupts outside, and suddenly there is an earsplitting crack filling the air. The excited whispers of those inside the hospital turn to the screams of the unprepared. You watch silently as the rooftop of the makeshift hospital cracks above and falls on a wounded man a few cots away from you.

He doesn't even have time to scream. You can't peel your eyes away as more rooftop parts collapse inside, some of them on fire and some melting from a substance in the bombs.

The fire soon is all around you due to the poor formatting of the hospital's layout, and you can only watch in dark anticipation as the flames grow closer, grow brighter, grow warmer.

Too hot. Much too hot.

Your throat is drier than ever and you cannot even scream as the flames lick at your sweat-soaked skin, your hair, and your clothes. The pain is unbearable, and you close your eyes in a futile attempt to escape it all.

It works. The pain fades away, replaced with nothing, and that is quite possibly the worst part of it all.

Your name was Penrose. You were thirteen. You wanted to do so much more than this with your life.

But this is war.

And war is never kind.


Ω

Written for Project PULL. Penny for your thoughts?