Chapter 1- "The Riot"
I awoke to his lips. Pressing soft kisses first to both my cheeks, then my eyelids. Gliding- oh so warmly and lightly- to my nose and then with more intent, finally my lips.
My eyes fluttered open and am met with the sight of his face. I smile instinctively, looking up into his smoldering hazel eyes. The green specked with bright gold strikes, that matched his blinding smile.
"Good morning" He murmured, sitting back from leaning over me and I sat up too- stretching and yawning slightly.
His smile widened as his eyes swept over me and my ruffled state. A hand raised and toyed with a strand of my tussled hair and then he tucked it behind my ear, his eyes sparking with slight amusement and delight as he takes in the fact I wear one of his shirts as nightclothes.
"Must you wake me up so early everyday?" I finally reply- taking in a long breath and glancing over at the clock at my bedside table- it was only about five in the morning, the sunlight just barely shifting through the curtains and throwing a stream of warm light across the white carpet.
"I have to say goodbye don't I?" He whispered back, wrapping his arms around my waist and drawing my closer so that I sat right by his side- leaning my back against his shoulder. His face lowered to my neck and nuzzled the skin there- his eyelashes tickled and his lips dropped a few more kisses.
I leaned into him, grabbing onto the hands he had around me that laid on the base of my stomach- interlocking out fingers. "I guess..." I reply, softly, my eyes still heavy and longing to sleep.
He pulls back then- with one last kiss to my collar bone- and says."I'll see you later, at the screening."
I nod, remembering vaguely that there was something I was suppose to do today. "Yes, yes. Course." I tell Caleb, my words slurring slightly as I snuggled closer to his body and my eyelids refused to stay open.
He chuckled and kissed my temple before sliding me off of him and back against the tangles of pillows and blankets. I squirmed slightly to comfort myself and tucked a hand under my cheek. "S'later." I murmur, my other hand giving a feeble wave before dropping back against the bed.
I felt the shifting of his weight and heard the springs groan as he stood up. "Later." He says and I drift back into a dreamless sleep.
Later that day- at a proper time to wake- around eleven in the morning, I pulled myself out of bed and stumbled to the bathroom.
As my feet drifted over the cold tile I looked around the cluttered space. My clothes were thrown about- as well as some of Caleb's discarded essentials- the counter was filled with random hygiene products. Neither of us were much of cleaners.
I approach the sink, blinking away the sleep and as I walk my fingers fumble with the buttons on the overlarge shirt I wore- that hung to about mid-thigh and was one I've stolen from Caleb.
The small room is dark, except for the rays of sunlight that filled it with shadows and a misty illumination. But even like so I could see my reflection clear as day.
I finish stripping off the shirt and I lean forward over the counter- tossing aside the clothes and leaving me only in under things- and I flick on the lights. At first I'm blinded, but I push that away and take in my form.
One of my hands rose and touched my cheek lightly- I can't believe today is my seventeenth birthday. I still have the same evergreen eyes and ashy blonde hair that falls to my elbow in waves. But there is defiantly something different in my face and my body. I filled out more then my passed young self, I've notable hips and I've grown taller, my legs longer.
My face though is something different all together.
No one could call me that little girl I was in the games anymore. If Caleb has taught me anything the years we have spent together- sneaking around- it is that I am no longer that naïve child I used to be. I no longer even tolerate the government, but of course we never do anything to break the delicate deal we made all those years ago.
My looks though, aren't something I take pride in like most girls would- from my striking eyes with high cheek bones and my delicate jaw, sided with a stubborn chin- I make a interesting appearance- you know if I ever got out.
People wonder why it is I do not have a boyfriend or husband yet, but it is only because they do not know I have one. Sure I've had those who have tried to get with me, but they are always rejected- no one could compare to Caleb.
No boy could have his strength- maybe not physically but mentally- no one could beat his compassion or his loyalty. His natural good vibe, his will. Sure he has his faults, like sometimes being too trusting in others, but I love him and he loves me. And that is what keeps my mouth shut- against the Capitol.
He has changed too- over the years. We are closer bonded, like we just know each other, every move and word. Secret smiles and eye contact.
He is no longer whipped around town anymore, he was for a while the first year back, when everything seemed a little rushed and haywire. When people around town would watch me with fear, yet affection and pity. But now he is mostly locked up (when he didn't sneak out) or he is sent out to do community chores- like carry heavy supplies or help construction.
He's taught me many things too with the increased time, like pretty much everything with weapons, to read people better, to hide myself better. Many people find me mysterious now, because I am so discreet. I'm a all but forgotten victor now, as I am the only one from District 8.
I am always at my house, I hardly leave unless I am shopping for food or just feeling bored and go for a walk. I'm mostly inside because I am usually with Caleb- who visits my everyday almost three times a day and sometimes (okay, a lot of times) spends the night to ward off nightmares.
I do though train, for the hunger games- those unfortunate girl tributes that are chosen. I have trained for four years now, and none of them ever make it- Pippa was wrong, you don't forget. And don't think I neglected to tell her either when I visit the capitol and she comes to visit- granted I usually call her over, hoping maybe to help Fray and her out a bit... ignoring the fact about her husband.
Anyhow I have Fray still, he is growing older, and more worn over the years but he is like the father figure I've never had. He watches me closely and I know he still keeps his ears open for things about Caleb. Though the rumors after that Game ended have all but died out now.. in fact all popularity I had has pretty much been fanned out.
By no less then the two victors from District 12- Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark.
I'm glad for it, for not being so famous. It is easier to up hold the deal- but the show those two put up!
Peeta was such a sweet boy, it is obvious to me he loves that girl. He makes words sound like poetry and when I listened to his interview- when I watched the Game- I for once didn't feel like I was being lied to.
Katniss was false. Katniss was clueless and defiant. And it was Katniss who had pulled that stunt that saved both him and her at the ends of the Game. But ultimately I think will end up killing them both.
I've had enough experience with the Capitol and rebels to know that what I've done- of which I barely escaped from- compared to what they've done are two completely different things.
They made the mockery of President Snow that I wanted to do- but Caleb restrained me from doing. In one sense I admire Katniss for not letting Peeta blind her and pull her down into safety- but I also dislike her greatly for pretending, for being so obviously withdrawn from the smart boy.
Though who could have not heard about the big wedding coming up!
I snort out loud at that finally turning away from the mirror, taking off my under clothes and slipping into the shower. The water was turned all the way up- intensely hot.
A fake wedding. A painted up, pretend one, that the Capitol uses to make us think that Katniss- no she is not trying to best us, she is just madly in love- but anyone with a brain could see the stupid chick isn't. She is a terrible liar and I know- I know- around my district where is it so harsh, that the people have been sparked with her action... it is only a matter of time.
She has already been here and I have seen her- I did not want to talk to her, so I stood back near the gaggle of prisoners- by Caleb- and I watched them. I watched Peeta mostly, because something about him, his face, his pale hair- those blue eyes. They remind me of Eric.
Not like Sirius had- because he resembled him. But this was with mannerisms, his tone of voice, the light behind his eyes. The way he sacrificed himself and pretended to be with the careers- for Katniss- like Eric had done for me.
I closed my eyes momentarily at the memory of Eric- it was defiantly distant now- but still lingering there in my mind. As was everyone else- Evan, Cyra, Sirius, Blake- and of course my recent tributes- Alexandra, Marsh, Jenny, and most recently Kaci- they were all so hopeless when they entered.
I got out now, and slowly toweled myself off- lost in my turning thoughts- so many years and still I don't feel like I had enough time.
I sigh and walk back into the bedroom, easily slipping into a T-shirt and denim jeans. Such a simple outfit I'm sure Marvin would have cringed- his pasted few tributes have had to deal with his imagination reaching even further then it used to- now that he had stylists like Cinna to be up against.
You know I expected someone to act out against the Capitol some day- maybe not so soon- but I am surprised it came from District 12. There was no doubt it was our smallest district and poorest... but the reaction of their action was even more shocking.
And my savage want to join it... that was slightly surprising and I know Caleb wanted to too. I knew he wished he didn't have to leave me every morning at the crack of dawn. I know he wished he could complete my life- make me his wife... give me a family I never had. But he can't. Not now- I'm too young- but even in the future since while the Capitol still stands he is a prisoner, he wouldn't be able to show me off as his wife, I would have to hide any pregnancy or walk around in shame claiming I knew not who the father was.
I cringe at the none too appealing thoughts as I walk downstairs and enter the kitchen- that was about ten times cleaner then the upstairs- and I grab myself a loaf of bread and other supplies from the fridge.
I slump down on a chair and I take a knife- smearing the concoction of cheese in a spread on top of a piece of bread- before I take a mouth full. As I reach for the glass of water sitting next to me the morning light catches on the shimmering pearls around my wrist.
I smile instantly- of course- at the reminder of Caleb. Then I glance up at the clock and I know I should be going- for the screening.
It may be noon here- but it is late in District 12, which is where the victory tour is to be. And we must watch the celebration, like we have for the passed ten districts they visited. As I exit my house a chill runs through me when I start walking down the street, and it is strange- because it is near spring time for here.
Once I reach further in town though I get the tense and hostile vibe that hangs in the air around the factories. It's as if it emits from the surrounding citizens that glare at the Peacekeepers- whose numbers have been increasing more and more lately. I know crime rates have gone up, but I did not think it was that terrible.
As I swerve through the crowded streets toward the main town square- someone shoves my shoulder giving me a look of loathing as they trudge passed me. I purse my lips but nothing more. I continue on, my hands in fists at my sides- my body instantly catching onto the hostility emanating around me.
Many people were gathering for the show and as I slip down a side street that will let out to the same entrance to the square the prisoners usually use; I notice others in the shadowed place. They were franticly whispering, heads ducked together- hands covering their lips- and their faces covered with rags and homemade masks.
I stop, watching suspiciously, until one of the men notices me. "Hey, get lost." He snarls and I narrow my eyes- start walking towards them slowly.
"What are you doing?" I demand, I know I'm in no danger though approaching them even with the district in the state it is in, because I know one of the boys there. "Bud, what is going on?"
Bud- who even wearing the ugly, mismanaged mask I recognized- looked up to me. His brown eyes were hard and his tall, starved body straightened as he gave me a look of superiority. "You'll know in time, Keera."
I shake my head, glancing out the other side of the alley- waiting for the prisoners to cross- and then I am standing just at Bud's side and I frown, as I notice the bricks they've gathered in a pile at their feet.
"What do you plan, brother?" I murmur, hoping to remind him of those years I used to take care of him rather then the passed few ones where I have been isolated from them. "Where is Aven?" I look at the group of maybe five people only two probably my age or a year older.
"With the kids." Bud grunts, turning his back to me now and waving a hand absently in the other direction. "Go to the square. We'll join you soon."
I take a deep breath, and the air seems to be colder then usual and my chest stings slightly from the difference. But I let it out in a slow, hesitant way, whispering. "Don't do anything stupid, Bud."
He nods curtly and I walk away- watching the other boys give me tense looks. But just as I am about to emerge from the alley Bud looks up and says. "Watch yourself tonight, sister, keep loved ones close."
I look over my shoulder and his eyes carry a warning and when I raise an eyebrow- he nods me forward- I turn back away going with his wishes and walking away.
I did not like that Bud was involved with riff-raffs or maybe rebels, by the looks of them. Things were so if-y now. With the Peacekeepers, the random deaths, the attacks and shootings. The uproars, the protests, the stopping of textile production. I just hope it hasn't been Bud and his gang this whole time...
And as I continue down to the square- my watchful eyes pick up on more things- such as similar groups of maybe five or six men- sometimes women- with various types of bricks, large needles (from factories), and other weapon-like objects.
They all are tense and whispering. And I can't help but know..
I spot Caleb as I step inside town square, he is in a large group of prisoners (which have been adding up these passed few months) and luckily he is hanging in the back- having been one of the less resistant of them and though he is connected to a long chain that is tied around pretty much every prisoner only one of his wrists are bound.
I walk cautiously and casually closer into the crowded city center and slowly nearer to Caleb- but just as I am but five feet away- keeping my face expressionless and distracted looking- staring forward, two Peacekeepers position themselves next to him.
I stop pretending to be content with my view of the multiple large screens about the square, but as I slip closer Caleb's eyes slide my way.
I look out of the corner of mine and he has a almost devilish smirk on his face- my lips twitch and then he nods, barely moving his head, towards the building just on the outside of the square.
I don't question him- I immediately turn around and walk purposefully towards it, so that I do not draw questions and then I slink to the doorway- leaning against the outside wall. My eyes scope the whole building then I look to Caleb- his back is towards me- and I'm pretty sure he just drew two or three Peacekeepers into a conversation with him... and who knows what that could be about!
But I take the moment to admire him. I am a teenager after all..
He has grown to at least be almost six feet, he is very tall, at least a head taller then me. And he looks down at many of the Peacekeepers- which I bet bugs them. He is lean, but having to work all the time makes him muscular- which you know, I like- his shoulders aren't broad, but his strong jaw makes up for that.
I watch though, with amusement as he runs a hand through his tussled brown hair- a habit of his that he does sub-consciously. Like when he is frustrated or teaching someone so I'm betting he's lecturing the Peacekeepers about something, though he's probably laughing on the inside at their scowling, disinterested faces.
I drop my eyes away when a group of people scuttle across my sight and I spot something on the ground, near the bottom step that leads to the doorway of the building. I crouch down quickly- retrieving the piece of paper- and I open it.
My eyes scan over Caleb's words in a hurry and when I read them, I bite my lip, looking back to him thoughtfully.
The rebels plan something. Hide yourself, they will take anyone with a status to use for leverage against the Capitol- especially if they are desperate and whatever it is they do fails. -C
I fold up the piece of paper and I stuff it deep into my pocket- so that no one would find it. I continue to stare at him as I walk back into the square, a little more fast paced then before. When I walked passed him, he looked up at me, his face that was sporting a gentle look turned to a pale, worried one and I frown. I turn away from him and I continue to push through the square until I am at the front- and I am not surrounded by citizens, but Peacekeepers.
I slide all the way up to the mayors side- he gives me a half considering glance, but nothing more as he stares dutifully up at the large screen in front of us.
"You know?" I murmur- feeling I must tell him something.
"I know that we will be receiving more Peacekeepers later this evening. We have been deemed a level 2 alert." His lips are barely moving as he speaks and we both do not look at each other.
My relationship with the mayor is not as bad as it had been, Fray helped with that, but me and mayor understand each other. He tries to keep this place in order- because it is in his nature to control things- I understand that, and he knows that I feel I must help with that. (Though only because of the deal that I strive to keep strong.)
"Pray we do not lead to 3." I reply, offhandedly.
I know Caleb said to hide myself, not stand by the most important person here, but I am safer by him. Being the second most important, being next to the first most important wans your popularity some- but also I know it is not the Peacekeepers and mayor I need to fear at the time. It is not them who are hostile- though I crave to join the other, fighting side- I cannot risk Caleb.
Then the seal flashes on the screen, the anthem plays briefly- and the city square of District 12 is in front of us.
We hold up pretty long- at least maybe half way through the showing before the screaming started.
I did not see the first rank of attack, having been up front, all I could was hear the cries of rage and pain echoing around- and see the Peacekeepers instantly dive into the crowd. Pushing their was to the back.
Evening was drawing in at this time- the sun was at an angle- but half covered by tall building and it threw strange streams of light over us. The mayor stayed by my side and he watched- tight faced, and hopeful that the Peacekeepers could lay the rebels to rest before the riot even began.
Hope was not enough...
It looked like it was going well for the Peacekeepers until suddenly the building on the right burst up into flames. I saw the mayor hiss in a breath through his teeth and he turned to the nearest Peacekeepers shouting for them to find a way to put it out before it spread.
The sound of the fire- snapping, hissing, and then a twisting and shattering sound as beams and tiles cracked and fell to the ground in the heat of the conflagration. The sound though only added onto the screams of ignited panic it caused, for fire here in District 8 with our tightly knit buildings would spread easily and become death incarnated.
It was far too late to hope things wouldn't spread... the fire was already climbing to the next building and as also was the decease-like hate was spreading like a madness through the crowd.
Roars of shouting and screeches form things like- "Halt!" to "Fire! Fire!" to "Fall! The Capitol will fall!" and various cries of pain- could be heard.
Bricks rained down on people, bashing skulls and from my place- that was slightly elevated and safe behind a whole line of armed Peacekeepers- I could see the skulls of which the bricks struck, and dent- bleed- murder.
The sound of shattering glass was everywhere- bricks thrown through windows, bottles of burning alcohol setting new things a flame.
I had to duck from a brick hitting me and then I caught sight of a prisoner- someone I knew was one- so the prisoners must have broken free of their chains. Causing even more ruckus.
When the citizens in the front of the square- closest to me, began to fall and sprint for their life, if they had not began to join the up roar- I searched the crowd for Caleb.
I wasn't worried for him, he knew how to take care of himself, but I was worried that the Capitol may perceive him an enemy.
Then the mayor clasped a hand over my forearm. "We must leave now- it has reached beyond our control." I look to him and he is staring, unblinkingly at the approaching, ravishing, unbearably loud mod.
"You will fall back?" I ask, looking quickly to the remaining Peacekeepers out in the square, but then I hiss as I watch someone masked grasping a brink tightly, grab one in a neck hold and slammed the hard object repeatedly against his face- morphing it, blood falling, scre-
"We must!" He hisses, pulling me behind him and I could hardly hear him above the din of the screaming square. Smoke began filtering in the air around me and I coughed on the suddenly thick oxygen.
I try to pull back from him- but he holds tightly and drags me unwillingly towards city hall- that was like a fortress compared to the other buildings- it was made of stone and would not burn.
But about half way to it he turns and shouts. "Level 3, shoot at will!"
I give a strangled cry at that, ripping my arm from his grasp and I sprint back to the square- not before the front line of Peacekeepers followed the order and began firing their weapon on the waves of people in front of them, killing at random.
"No." I snarl, I shove by two Peacekeepers in the line and would have sprinted into the gore of falling bodies, sprays of blood and new calls of agony- if it had not been for the strong arm that wrapped around my torso and tried to pull me back.
"Keera, we can not!" Caleb's shout hardly reached my ears through the loud, rapid firing noise the guns let off and as I whipped around to look at him- I blanched at the scratch marring down his cheek- but also the child in his arms- who was maybe about six years old.
"Jack!" I call, turning, allowing the Peacekeeper's to shove me back and against Caleb as they took strong, gaining steps forward after row after row of citizens fell.
Jack looked frightened, but nonetheless was not bawling like most children's screaming harmonized with among the shouting. He clung to Caleb as the older boy straddled Jack on his side and I pressed against his other, by his forceful arm- he began dragging me back towards city hall.
"I found him abandoned." Caleb tells me in my ear, trying to distract me from the horrid sounds behind me. But even being held so close to him, breathing in his familiar scent and touch, something behind me- a scream- reached out to my ears.
"Keera!" They screeched and I knew the voice. The fear in it was overwhelming and even though Caleb dragged me forward and the mayor was standing at city halls steps- waiting for me- the Peacekeepers, who backed off Caleb, were lining around us in a path to the mayor I still ripped from his grasp. My need to protect my orphans all I could feel in this moment.
"Felicity!" I roar, running back, Caleb cursed reaching for me and then he shoved Jack in the arms of a Peacekeeper- intending to follow.
"STOP!" The mayor screeched, taking a step towards the square. "Stop firing!"
Only few men heard his orders and even so I continued and pushed myself passed the protective line- right into the riot.
Smoke was heavy in the air- from both the heated fire that continues to rage though the town, but also from the guns, few still firing at will- I coughed, raising a hand to my mouth as I forced myself deeper into the hot, harsh, press of bodies.
I was shoved, punched, kicked, slapped- my hair pulled- and yet even with the calls of still striving rebels forward and the screams of those retreating back into their burning town along with the dying screechings of those lying on the ground with bullets in their chest- I could still hear Felicity's high, girlish voice calling my name.
I blocked out Caleb's voice and instead I kept throwing myself further and further through the people- until I caught sight of her- on her knees, her long bleach blonde hair falling over her pretty, ten year old face, as she continually shouted my name her hands shaking as they were pressed against a gushing bullet wound.
I looked down at the person below her and I cried out in horror- falling to my knees across Felicity- people surging by us as I stared down into Arthur's, thirteen year old face, and I cradled it between my hands.
Felicity's face- tear stained looks up into mine- and even though she is forcefully holding her hands against the gushing wound he is already gone. His eyes are open, glassy and staring up at the darkening sky as smoke fills the whole atmosphere.
Caleb comes up behind me- shoving through the people and when he sees Arthur he stops dead, looking between me and Felicity his eyes brows knitting together. Slowly a tear slips down my cheek and he drops beside me, grabbing my elbow and wiping away the tear quickly- he pulls me to my feet and then I grab Felicity.
Caleb pulls me away from him, but I move quickly and duck back down- closing his eyes- and then Caleb takes a tighter hold of me and I hold tightly to Felicity's hand- dragging her behind me as Caleb forces me back towards city hall.
We are nearly there- and I am hacking on the smoke- someone gave me a good bruise on the side of my face and I have the slight instinct to vomit as we walk over the corpses littering the ground- when the few still shooting Peacekeepers takes a hold Felicity by the hair and she screams- her hand slips from mine and I gasp as he place the barrel of the gun under her chin, her pale, gentle, child-like face twisting in fear and then he pulls the trigger.
Her hot, sticky blood flays outward- covering my face and the Peacekeepers. I scream, I would have pounced at the man, if Caleb had not ripped me forward. Intently, urgently.
"Level 5! Level 5!" I hear a man, most likely the commander Peacekeeper, call. And I chill to know what level 5 is compared to what level 3 had been. Caleb still pulls me through the hot, panic, and I scrap against people- more blood soaking through my clothes.
Then I hear another round- of multiple- guns firing off, but these guns are going on continuously, without pause and the responding banging noise sends waves of screaming through the crowd. I look to the left and I see what it is they have targeted and they have people- unmasked and bloody- there bodies pressed against a stone, hands bond behind them, as they were shot dead. Not even able to defend themselves.
Then I see one of then turn there faces to the side and my heart drops. Bud.
His face is twisted in hate, his eyes still defiant as the Peacekeeper's pause the shooting to reload their weapons. One of the older ones walks along the wall shoving the rebels and he used the end of his gun and slammed it against the side of Bud's face- forcing it back into the wall.
Caleb slips through the still strong line of Peacekeeper's in the front of the square and he pulls me through also, and the backs of the men in the line block my view of Bub- but I hear the firing start up again- and I know what has happened.
I don't resist Caleb as he gathers me against his chest and continues to half drag me as I struggle to walk. We are just a foot away from the mayor- still standing on the steps- when he looks down at me, relief in his face as he takes in my soot covered, blood splattered, bruised one.
Then he shouts. "Restart the firings, commander Brock- assume my position!" He opens the door and me and Caleb a ushered in.
Though just as we step in, someone swoops forward and takes Caleb away.
"No!" I shout, clutching him around the wrist, not possessively, not desperately- but just refusing. I look in the face of the one trying to take him away from me and I narrow my eyes dangerously- daring them to challenge me on this.
Slowly they back down and the mayor allows it as I bring Caleb along with me when I follow him deeper into the building that with its florescent lights seems overly bright, and its clean surroundings seems just too clean compared to what we have just left.
"What do we do now?" I ask the mayor, breathlessly- my heart still hammering in my chest, my mind still keening on the inside for Bud, Arthur, and Felicity- but I could not afford or allow myself to break down... whereas years ago I would be on the floor sobbing already.
I have changed, for the better and I feel Caleb interlock his fingers through mine as we continue to follow the mayor- giving my fingers a reassuring squeeze. He matches my stride and I feel twice as strong with him there.
As we walk through the building- people walk in the opposite direction, some running, other shouting and most in uniform- but some are being cared for, some with gunshots, others with wounds from needles and bricks.
I see Jack- cradled in the arms of a gentle looking Peacekeeper- and I spot Aven, with a small warmth of relief spreading in my chest, as she sits at the base of a wall. Her chest shaking as tears runs down her face- no doubt guessing that her twin is gone forever.
I continue to walk though, following the mayor through the people who had made it- and were allowed to- run to the safety of city hall. Few towns people were salvaged maybe- seventy- but the rest fled to the back town, which no doubt was going down in flames.
Finally we reach the mayors office and as we slip in, there is three other official looking people in there. Two were men from this district and the other a woman with graying hair, that I don't recognize. They all stare at the screen across the room and I hiss under my breath, tightening my hold on Caleb's hand as I see President Snow's face on there- looking at us- and then he is looking at me and he says.
"Keera... it has been a long time.."
I bite my lip before saying back. "Not long enough."
A/N: HATE AWAY! Thanks for reading, sorry for typos. Hope you enjoyed, and don't completely hate me. I love you guys, review! Please. -Taryn(: