A/N: Thanks for following me here! This is the sequel to Broken Fire a story in which Peeta dies in the arena and Katniss is the sole victor. So, basically, yeah! This takes up a few days after the other one left off. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games.
Note: My tumblr is likesblaine for anyone who is interested :)
I stare down the dark steps and can barely contain the shiver that runs up my spine. Unlike the tunnel leading to the mines, this shaft is made of a dark metal and has even steps dropping almost directly down. It leads to the bunkers beneath District Thirteen.
My wristwatch buzzes, shaking my hand. Looking down, I see mealtime is in five minutes. Sighing, I turn around and try to find my way back up the labyrinth of dark tunnels and silvery corridors.
I can smell meat cooking. I find a place in line and take my bowl of mushroom soup and mashed carrots. For some reason there has been a shortage of meat lately and they have only been able to harvest vegetables.
I sit down on the plastic bench next to Posy, across from Gale.
"Catnip," he says. He has a piece of thick bread on his plate too. "You ate your bread already?" He's almost laughing.
"I didn't get any!" I protest. He frowns. "Here, have mine." He tosses it onto my plate. I sigh, but am hungry, so I rip it in half and place the larger half onto his napkin. He smiles at me and dips it into the thick mushroom soup.
I devour most of my food. I glance at Posy pulling on Hazelle's sleeve, asking for more food, but Hazelle doesn't have anything to offer.
"Posy," I say quietly. She turns to face me, a hopeful look in her eyes. "Here." I shove the remainder of my mashed carrots towards her. She grins and picks up her spoon.
I turn back to see Gale looking at me. "What?"
"Gale, you gave me part of your meal- I can give your sister part of mine."
He just shakes his head, and rises to put away his tray. I follow his lead.
The moment our trays are put away, our wristwatches beep in unison. I am once again struck by how neat District Thirteen is.
It was my first thought the moment we walked in here. The man who showed up at our door took us on a long hike through the woods. Eventually we made it to the area that was supposed to be in ruins.
But it wasn't. Low steel boxes were located everywhere, and every trace of any type of ruin was gone. It took me a moment to notice the windows and to realize that those were rooms underground, and that they must continue deeper.
We got placed in Pod B16 which meant we are on the second underground floor and in the sixteenth room. The other victor's are all on B. There are about 45 rooms down there.
Gale is on the floor below us, C3. He shares his pod with his brothers, and Hazelle shares C4 with Posy.
I glance down at the cuff around my wrist. It is more of a handcuff then a wristwatch. It feels as though it is keeping me here- and in a way it is. Unless engaged in combat, they are stuck on, and they have a GPS tracking device built in. And the worst part- Haymitch has my key.
It beeps again frantically and I finally notice the message on the screen Urgent Victor's meeting. Pod A4.
I glance over at Gale's but his says the same thing. Assuming they told him to come with me, I bump his shoulder. He turns to face me.
He nods and we ascend the five flights of stairs from the F floor cafeteria to the A floor meeting.
All the important victors are already there when we arrive. They left two seats next to each other. I sit, but Gale remains standing. He begins to speak.
"As you all know, Orville is our symbol. But we need more then that- we need a person to speak about it, someone who was close to him, or we need another symbol to help the rebellion."
No one makes a sound. No one wants to be the symbol, in case we lose. They would quickly be killed, whereas otherwise they could claim they were being held hostage.
Haymitch finally speaks up. "I think we need more then just a person- we need a reason they should do it. Maybe they rebelled against the Capitol, they've done something to upset them," his eyes stray to Finnick, who has his arms around the crazy girl, Annie. I stare at them, wondering how long this has been going on. My train of thought is interrupted by Gale.
"I agree. But we also need someone who has a real reason, who is young and strong and can really demonstrate what needs to happen for this cause. Maybe they haven't done anything big yet, but what if we put them into battle and they fought? Wouldn't that help the rebellion?"
"Well, yes. But who here- who has rebelled against the Capitol before- is strong enough to do it again?"
Slowly, everyone's eyes turn to me, one by one. "Katniss," Lilah says.
"What? I - I haven't-" I am interrupted again, but this time by Haymitch.
"But you should be furious at the Capitol! They killed your lover, remember?" Gale flinches at the word lover. "You are the perfect symbol for what we stand for! The things the Capitol has done- not only does this circle back to our conditions, but everything we are doing comes back to the arena!" Haymitch is up and pacing now. "Orville was just like you! He died in the arena, and it wasn't fair! He was the victor! And they changed the rules, said two people could win- it's not fair that they killed Peeta either! He was a victor too!" He's almost yelling now. Suddenly, he quiets. "You're the perfect symbol Katniss. The girl on fire. You're the spark to the flame of the rebellion."
"I agree," Gabe says finally. Lilah nods, but doesn't say anything. Soon, everyone around the table has given their support to Haymitch's idea except Gale. "Gale?" I whisper, hoping for some reason he'll oppose them, that he'll find a loophole.
"I- Katniss, I-" I know what he's going to say before he says it. Angrily, I stand up, shoving back the chair. "Thanks Gale," I hiss before storming out the door.
I hear him yelling my name, but I run faster. I make it to the supply closet, and hold my breath until the soft thud of his footsteps disappears into the distance.
I can't be the symbol of the rebellion. I was already the girl on fire- and I hated that. I didn't actually rebel at all! The fact that the Capitol killed Peeta should put his family on the stand, not me.
But they can't. His mother and father died in the fire along with his oldest brother. The only one left is the middle brother, and I can't imagine him taking the risk of getting in front of Panem, and either way, the public has no idea who he is, and they have no idea how he connects to Peeta. To them, if he came up to them and told them to fight for the deaths in the arena, they wouldn't. All they would do was mutter and wonder why I wouldn't stand up and fight if I supported them.
I sigh. I don't want to be the symbol of the rebellion, but if I don't, and we lose the war- I can guarantee many of the rebels would hate me. And it'd be harder then ever to live with the harsh Capitol conditions, knowing that I could have prevented them.
I know I should go back, but I stay in the supply closet for a few more moments, just sitting in the dark and thinking.
I find my way back to the meeting room, but it is empty. Everyone must have trickled off after Gale raced after me. I sit on one of the hard chairs, staring at my hands. Ink is splattered on them, probably from the supply closet. I try to wipe it off on the table but it sticks like glue. I sit there for a while, until my wristwatch starts to buzz. I glance down and realize it must be about dinnertime. I head down to the cafeteria, but Gale is missing. Accepting my tray of mashed potatoes with garlic and rabbit stew, I take my seat next to Prim and across from my mother. I am surprised to see the break from vegetarian meals.
Rory sits next to Prim, keeping his left arm around her at all times. Prim is grinning throughout the meal, giving Posy some of her mashed potatoes. Gale shows up at the end of the meal, but doesn't sit with us. He plops down at an empty table by himself. I wonder what is going on with him. I dump my tray and my wristwatch buzzes, telling me to go back to my pod for down time before my slot to shower.
I climb into my bunk, and the metal frame clinks against something. Glancing under the bed, I see the silver box I retrieved from the ruins of my old home. Opening it, I stare at the diamond key inside. I can't help but wonder again what on earth the key opens. I have almost asked my mother several times, but I stopped myself in time.
My head hurts again. The migranes I got in the Capitol during the Games are being less common now, but upon my return to anything even remotely related to the arena they have resurfaced. The room spins slightly, and I clutch at the box, knowing it will be hours before it disappears.
I hear footsteps in the hall and snap the lid shut, shoving it under the thin sheet on my bed. Expecting my mother, I am surprised when Gale walks in the room.
"Gale," I say in surprise.
"Katniss," he says. "I'm sorry about the whole symbol of the rebellion thing. I didn't want it to be you."
"It's- it's okay Gale."
"We can find someone else, maybe Haymitch-"
"No," I cut him off. "Haymitch has done enough. He was the beginning of the rebellion, he was a mentor alone. You can't lay this on him too. You just can't."
Gale looks at me, and suddenly I am in his arms. Moments later his lips are on mine. I kiss him back.
He wraps me securely in his arms, as though nothing could take me from him. I sigh against his lips. I keep picturing Peeta- standing in the corner, staring at me. For some reason, I feel guilty, even as my mind replays his voice saying, "Live. For me Katniss." It's easy to ignore my migraine now. All of the sudden there is a knock hesitantly on the door and Hazelle walks in.
"Mom!" Gale says in surprise. "What are you doing here?"
"I- ummm- Haymitch sent me." She's staring at us. "He wants to talk to you both."
Gale nods, and grabs my hand. As we walk out the door, I let go. He looks at me quizzically, a slight frown on his face. I lean in close and whisper, "I want to talk to Hazelle," in his ear. He nods, and heads upstairs, presumably to the meeting room to find Haymitch.
I backtrack quickly and find Hazelle standing in the exact same position. "Hazelle," I begin, but she interrupts.
"Don't bother. I should have known." A small smile has found it's way onto her face. "Both my oldest boys, corrupted by the Everdeen girls. Who knows what will happen to Vick." Her teasing tone takes all the unpleasantness out of her voice. I manage a tight smile back and hurry upstairs towards the meeting room, anxious to get higher up.
Gale waits for me, with Haymitch. Haymitch nods to me as I sit down.
"Why am I here?" I ask abruptly. The room is spinning and I just want to get this over with.
"Will you be our symbol?" he asks.
I look down at my hands. "Yes," I say finally. I can almost feel Haymitch's relief.
"That's great, and-"
A knock on the door interrupts yet another one of my private conversations. Annoyed, I turn to the door. I am shocked by who I see, and then less so.
Peeta stand there, a grin on his face. "Hello Katniss."
A/N: Review or PM me with comments :)