Chapter 6- "Hope Speaks"

All my life it is as if I've been playing a game. Ever since I was a child, year after year, days on end.. minute upon minute.

It's a simple game, anyone can play it- I know all the rules by heart. Most people would call it playing Pretend.. what I like to call it Dying a Little More Each Day.

It started when I was five. When my adopted parents took me in their arms and told me tales of a woman, a great woman- with great beauty. In these tales she bested the darkness of a Capitol. I began to dream of this woman... her name was Keera Grooves.

She was an idle to me. Pippa, my mother at the time, she told me I looked like her- I was beyond delighted. My father, Fray- he would whisper behind Pippa's back, telling me a racy bit of info. About her lover, a great man. A man who fought with his soul not with his fists- he began to join the woman in my dreams..

That was my early childhood. I lived in the victors house, the same house Keera had owned- it was mine now. Pippa told me they gave it to me. It was mine, the whole of it. Pippa and Fray were the parents, but my older sister, Aven- she told me about the woman too.

How the woman saved her life. How she's also saved mine- to the greatest extent.

My older brother though... he never stuck around to listen. He would turn his nose up at what they say- scoff whenever Fray complimented Keera. He would roll his eyes when Aven said Caleb was a innocent man.

I was too young to realize why.. I was too naive to realize- that out of all of them, he was the only one right.

It wasn't until me eighth birthday though before I realized this.

To me, at the moment in time, Keera Grooves and Caleb Clarke were almost a dream. They were powerful people that I would never know- and up until that year they neglected to tell me, that she was my mother, he my father.

I was squealing at first, I was jumping around, like the over excited child I was- until Jack said something- not in front of Pippa and Fray, but to me in private. He came to sit by me on the victor house porch.

"You do realize they were the bad guys, right?" He says, matter of fact.

I objected, I treated him like he was crazy- but then he took out books, history books. He showed me the way my mother helped the Capitol, told me of how my father was taken prisoner- by both rebels and Capitol. Telling me that he was just a horrid man neither side could choose. How they flipped around from each side. How she went insane before my birth- how it led to their death.

It wasn't as pretty the picture as Fray painted for me. The sacrifice for me. But somehow... it made it seem more real.

Years pass, two of them. Since then my brother, well he isn't really my brother- we aren't related. He told me that truth- the same one my adopted parents neglected to tell me. Aven was quiet about the truth, it angered me. And he kept showing me new evidence.

On my tenth birthday he acquired tapes of her Games, of the one they were both in.

All those children she killed... and that boy, Blake, my father's brother... I didn't understand half of it. I was half traumatized by the sights I've never seen before. All that.. blood, and those things they did to each other. Ripping, cutting, throwing.. I was nearly sobbing by the end of them.

In the last one I saw the man named Caleb. He ignored my mother. It was what dealt me a stinging blow- and Jack too, I knew he watched these before, he was waiting for me to see them. He went through the same thing before me, figuring out the blatant lies our family told us... he was relived to not be alone in his anguish anymore.

I weep for days afterward. My idols were poisoned, my mother was crazy, broken and my father was nothing more then a prisoner. I worried Aven and Pippa- Fray was frantic. I hated them. They were filth, they lie to me, they fill me with hope- a hope they drowned on about and had made me proud of me. Now I was ashamed of the title.

Jack hated them just as much. He was beyond that point, I was only ten at the time and he was fifteen. I was so upset, he was so angry. We left- we ran away.

The first month out, where we scarcely managed to avoid all those looking for us. The family of course, and Tera, a woman who used to love my father- the only reason I can sum any respect for her was because she hates my mother almost as much as me.

The game though, the game was always present. Because I still went to school, I still saw people around town- and I couldn't let them known. I couldn't bare to let them see.

I was so ashamed of who my parents were, so disgusted with my adopted family.

That's how the game started- pretending everything was perfect. Smiling even when I wanted to sob. Laughing when I wanted to break things in rage. Playing friendly when really it stung just to talk.

Constantly composed. Constantly hiding. It was nine months on the streets with Jack, jumping from community homes, sometimes sheltering in the 'fort' against days of rain. I soon found a permanent place though- with a man named Dean.

Dean, I call him my uncle. He knew my parents, he's been homeless since the war though. The new government threw him into the streets with many of the other old rebel fellas who didn't hold much to their names. He was slightly demented and Jack convinced me to take him into our band- it was forming fast. We had other runaways, some homeless families, mostly children.

We took shelter in a factory on the outside of low town. It was like this I lived until finally I muster some courage at twelve- and I returned to that victors house I had begun to hate. I was still so bitter then, so angry- pent up from my years of pretending. Each of those days I suppress a little more of myself, and I feel it fade until I'm losing pieces of myself..

It was like building pressure until I couldn't breath- and I exploded.. on my old family.

I came running up the street, crashing through the door. There was so much screaming.. cursing, mostly mine. They kept trying to calm me- Pippa tried to hug me and I slapped her hard enough I bruised her cheek. Aven was hysterical with me- shouting, angry at the things I said. She idolized Keera still, so stupidly. So dumb, Aven is still not bright...

But back then she tried to tell me that the new government poisoned Keera and Caleb's memory- I rolled my eyes. Jack warned me about their obsession. They couldn't let go, they clung to them as if they could compare to Katniss and Peeta- the real hero's.

I broke things relentlessly, in a fit of rage I went around the house shattering things, kicking, and damaging. In the end Fray had hauled me by my arms down the stairs- he was going to kick me out. I made Pippa and Aven sob in the corner and he was upset also- about the string of curse words I had for the stupid excuse of a mother I had.

He called me crazy and then tried to toss me out the door- but I caught them off guard. I had come there for reason. I kicked them out. I designated my right as owner to the house and I stood there until they were forced to pack up and leave. I made them leave their life, I taunted them until they left the district. Pippa and Fray went back to the Capitol- Aven went to the town surrounding the new school.

Then I was alone. With this huge house, and a back full of endless money- all this stuff my parents gave me. I didn't want it. I was sickened by them. I locked up the house, I hid the key- and never returned.

Years pass, I grow. I grow with the help of my new family- of runaways that all have their own story, and Dean, a man I love dearly- like a father I never had. He is half insane but he cares for me- sometimes he calls me my fathers name though, because of my eyes- I don't mind. Even if it makes Jack all hot headed.

People pass through our family, travelers, tourists with no money- old rebels. Each of them sit with us around the fire in our run down factory home. They add a new piece to me each one of them- with a new story, an old tragedy, a bested evil..

Jack grew with me. We became best friends. Then he started to feel more- I don't return it. But he still tries to charm me, he never pushes, he is a surprisingly meek boy- who is scared of anything. He fears betrayal- something similar to what we already suffered.

But at least he isn't stuck like me. At least he can be himself, stay with Dean and the others- travel with them when they do leave District 8. I've not been able to go, I've still one foot in the past. I still love my best friend, Noah, dearly. I still can't completely sever the loose tie I have to Tera and her son, Caleb. I can't leave school... I have to finish- I keep telling my new family that once I'm finished I promise to leave with them. They are impatient. They hate my game just as much as I do..

Game, the game has no point. It is never ending. I need to smile for Noah and my other friends, I need to be helpful and nice. I'm more scared now, then ashamed- for people to find out. To think I'm just as crazy and bad as my parents, for them to look at the ways I've acted. The running away, the kicking out people who have cared for me all my life (lied to me or not). And I never faltered not once, never..

Only with Damien.

Damien... this boy would kill me.

Not if he knew the true me, I don't think he could ever hurt me- that makes it harder. But it would kill me if he knew.. it would break me, to let him know. He's one of those many admirers to my game, my fake me. One of the most devoted- I've known for two years. I've noticed him, I've known his name since that first day I found him lost and I helped him find his way..

Now I feel like he is trying to help me find my way.

Because I am lost. I'm confused, I'm making myself sick enough to miss school with this worry with the stress of not knowing where I stand between my two worlds. School and Jack. Noah had caught me and Jack before, only hugging- but it scared me half to death. I don't know why, but she can't know- they would hate me.. they all would.

Tera only knows that I live with Dean now, nothing of why. Noah knows nothing, Caleb knows nothing- everyone knows nothing. And it falls on to me to keep up the game, to make sure I'm playing in top shape to keep balance...

And of course Damien again- hops into the factor.

He brings me to bewilderment- he make my stomach flutter uncomfortably and when he stares into my eyes with those big, minty blue depths.. with those puzzling shapes in them, marked in there with black strikes.. I could stand there staring forever. And when he touches my skin- I can't breath, I feel like running, I feel like embracing him.

And he terrifies me.

He sends my heart to hammering, he makes my mind skip from the game mode to the truth. He frustrates me, because I don't know how much he knows. Noah is blind- I see it- but I don't know what he knows. I thought the first day he just knew about the guy, Jack, and I wasn't worried- but then he said my mothers name, casually. There was more, I knew it- there had to be. I couldn't figure it out. His face revealed nothing...

What did he want from me? Did he wish to break me entirely? Did he want me to expose myself, show him the darkness tell him that I hate Keera- that I didn't want him to ever say that name to me again?

Or was he just seeking my love? Was he seeking me out like those other boys, like Jack is now? It made me hate him a little. I don't want love- I don't need a man, I'm not a pretty thing to mess with. I'm not a perfect girl who wants to be theirs...

But he keeps offering me help, he keeps asking me different questions then from what those other boys would.. Did he really want to help me? Would he really not hate me if I told him?

I stopped those thoughts short. I couldn't let them rule- they blur the rules of the game. And the game was the most important thing right now- if I lose it then I'm lost entirely. Then I'm nothing...

Damien. Damien, please stop. I pray internally as I lay across the concrete ground with feeble blankets tucked around me and a girl of ten at me back- while a girl of eight breaths heavily against my chest. Guest with us for the night, until them and their parents hike it up to District 5. I pet the small girls hair with soft fingers. She sleeps soundly.

I feel warmth in my chest for her. I heard their story just a few hours ago, I feel bad now because I had hardly listened- I had run into Damien before that, with Dean. My knuckles were still tingling from his touch, my mind still reeling form the words he said..

Across the room I heard people rolling around, most likely Dean or another past rebel- who usually has nightmares. Remembering those days of guns and fire and death. I revisit sometimes in my dreams- those videos of my retched mother. I wake up screaming sometimes- when I see myself in one of he places of the kids she's killed.

Tonight though, I hardly sleep a wink. I'm up half the night- worried about school tomorrow. Thinking about Damien. Even though I try to force him from my thoughts..

I don't know what my next move is with him. I can't continue to play my game- even though I said I was too good at it.. that was only because he said he didn't believe me when I had told him my first piece of truth. But he was digging himself deeper into my conscience.

When I finally drift off, I'm slipped into a dream. Not a nightmare- no this one was worse. It scares me, it screams an impending betrayal...

His warm and soft lips pressed gently against mine, drawing me from numbness and confusion to a place between sweetness and the edge of a fading dream. I opened my mouth, automatically giving access to be tasted and taste back. I have never been kissed before, my mouth worked on its own- it was not my dream to control. The mouth above mine moved expertly, coercing a response first by softness and then becoming more demanding, more... sensual. With a flash of amused and terrifying awareness I realized I was being seduced.

Then I break away gasping- glimpse those blue eyes and he says to me. "I'm here." The words echo against the shell of my ear, repeating, fading- and then his hand raises to my cheek. Finger tips press into my cheek bone and just like that I flash my eyes open to be met with the darkness of my room, the two girls still around me.

But those words.. those words set my to curling my knees to my chest- my fingers trace my lips. In wonder and fear. But those words! "I'm here. I'm here, I'm here."

They repeat themselves in my mind. I was terrified of listening to them- how do I know he isn't as delusional as others? I don't even know him that well.. he could be tricking me..

I'm here.

The words were like a breath of fresh air, a promise- but that was make of smoke, that choked my lungs.. blurring together until I couldn't tell the difference between the pain and the relief.

That's when the girl rolls over, and her arms find way around my waist- clinging tightly, her little face burying into my chest. It reminded me that I was still me, that this was truth- not the game.

Damien was on the other side. He was the game, he was to be treated with the fake me. Then I'll leave- just last the rest of the year, until June. Just seven months.. and then I'll leave with my real family. The game can be finished- and those on the game side... stay on the game side.

No matter how there or where they are, Damien isn't allowed in.

No. Not even a little.

Not at all.

He is stuck on that side.

I won't let him- Jack won't- Dean won't..

I wish I would never see him again, that I could forget his face, those eyes.. that I could believe.. hope he would stay in the dark...

But... apparently he's already there.. here. On both sides. That's what terrifies me most..

A/N: What's with all the dreams? Psh, Idk. They're cool, no? Anyway. HOPE HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE THE GOODNESS OF YOUR PARENTS? D: (I assume you all are thinking.) But you must picture yourself as her, in this time. Idk if you'll get it, but try to. And she's a bit broken isn't she? A lot more to her then Damien thought.. you'll see what happens! Thanks for reading, PLEASE review. (sorry typos, I'm half asleep and I wrote this REALLY fast all in this hour.) -Taryn(: