I'm in a very severe Maysilee/Haymitch phase right now. So enjoy.
10/21/11- Revised just for a few stupid mistakes I didn't catch until about the tenth time I read it.
The sound pierces his reverie, tugging his mind back into his physical surroundings. The present. Who invented that word anyway? What we do, what we feel, what we dream- fanatics rush to string out these humanities on a timeline in a disbelieving fear of the fact that we are all going to die one day. The fear that our significance is compatible with a grain of sand, skirting along on the wind, fading into the flecks of dirt stirring before a setting sun. Unimportant. When the fact is, everything just happens.
He abandons his spark of inspiration and moves stealthily towards the sound, his thoughts still smoldering. Normally, he would have been thinking something like, I was right; she couldn't last ten minutes without me, or, Another tribute I didn't have to kill, and gone about his business. But for some reason, his legs carry him through the undergrowth, the grotesquely bright flowers and blindingly vivid insects buzzing mechanically. It feels strange, to him. Going. Moving. Caring.
He emerges from the brush and hunts around for the source of the scream. There she is, not far from the blunt wall of trees. Her dart gun that has saved both her life and his so many times falls from her hand and lands heavily in the breezy grass. A bird, sporting plumage of a sickly pink color, crows mockingly and flies away, the beating of its wings echoing in his mind as it takes towards the glossy sun. It reminds him of one of those Capitol women- more color than it knows what to do with. He rushes to her assistance as her slender figure crumples to the ground.
The creature has pierced her with its spear-like beak, possibly puncturing her windpipe. This suspicion is near confirmed as he listens to her ragged, shaky breathing. The wound is round and neat, but it oozes blood that pours out at a startlingly fast rate, staining her face and chest, and his arms. Like a bullet hole in her lovely neck. The garnet liquid pours out onto her golden hair that had always reminded him of grain fidgeting in a summer breeze. Grain, food; the most coveted thing in the district, where he came from. Although where she lived, it was nothing special, rather normal.
He grasps her delicate fingers in his calloused ones. But his eyes just stare straight ahead. Looking at nothing. Seeing everything.
She stirs, attempting to raise her head, but soon realizes the attempt is pointless. Wanting his attention, she lifts her arm weakly and touches his face, snapping him out of his own world for the second time that day. He turns himself, reluctantly at first, to look at her. For she wants at least something in possession as she fades, she needs his eyes to call her own. Pleased at him for allowing one last look into each other's faces, she smiles faintly, gathers together a last surge of strength, and speaks one word:
It requires an immense amount of effort, and as she does this a stream of salty blood gurgles in her mouth, but she is glad; she would have wanted nothing else to be her last word. She has collected all of her final energy, summed it all up in that pitiful, powerful word, and the only thing left to do now is wait. Her arm falls to the ground and she exhales, signaling that her time is almost up.
It breaks his heart, her willingness to accept her fate. The smell of death taints the air, threatening to claim her, take her away forever, and yet she smiles and holds onto his eyes. He admires her in a sense, for her readiness. It isn't defeat, but welcoming of something that's bound to happen to everyone sooner or later. But what could they do? He has done as much as he can, right? Taken her as an ally, fought against the lion-like pride of Careers with her, brought her all the way to the final five. It was all he could do, but then why does he feel that strange emptiness inside of him as beads of her blood swim down his hands? Back home, they barely acknowledged each other, hardly even knew each other's name. In the capitol, sure, they'd glanced at each other, gained admiration for each other's strength, but still never said or felt anything different. Once they'd gotten to the arena, they'd become friends, their admiration may have developed into something more, but he hadn't truly recognized it until he had torn through the forest to find her dying. He never thought he'd loved her until the moment she had screamed.
For the first time, he looks into her eyes, really looks. Deteriorating blue irises electrocute him, embed themselves in his memory. His heart should have broken at that moment. He knows it should have shattered into a million pieces and blown away past the forgotten horizon. But it doesn't. Instead, a sensation of numbness, of pure shock, slowly begins to spread itself all over him, freezing over anything, everything that once kept him going. It moves slowly but surely, flowing like icy water, hollowing him out, scraping any memories of bliss. For he is about to die, too, but for him it is much worse, for he must continue to walk this earth without a beating heart. Only a skeleton of a person who once was. She lies there, wanting to do everything but unable to do anything, whilst he can do whatever he wishes yet continues to kneel there and watch the life bleed out of them both.
He could have said a million things then, to her. To return that one tiny ounce of sound she spent so much energy to make. He could have told her that their time together was the reason he was determined to win this. He could have told her that the reason he didn't look at her when she walked away was so he didn't have to see her face and remember that she was going to die. To wait for him wherever she is going because these wretched games will kill him sooner or later. Maybe not in the arena, but eventually- slowly, steadily, ripping him to shreds from the inside out. He could have said any of these things as they lay there dying, her physically, him figuratively. But he had always been a man of action, and so that's why he gently lifts her into an upright position and brings her lips to his.
They sit there, kissing, wishing, existing, for they know it is both of their last triumph. She closes her eyes in tranquility, in quiet bliss. Unlike him, she has known for awhile that she loves him, and despite his resistance, she knows how he feels, has always felt. She, despite the sight of her everything bleeding out onto the grass, is happy. This is all she ever wanted. She didn't know it until she joined him in the arena, but now, she could not have been more content. She sighs, and he feels the last ray of light in her fade away, carrying with it all of her, including the name, "Maysilee Donner". All while her lips are still pressed to his. She is gone. Before the numbness overtakes him, he thinks that he is glad it happened with her eyes closed, for he didn't want to see the life drain out of them until they let go of his and stared blankly ahead. That would have killed all of him, right on the spot.
She died in his arms.
Haymitch Abernathy takes a swig of alcohol. It burns his throat and mouth, but he doesn't care. It's a feeling that he's been putting up with for these twenty- four years. Maybe it helped pierce the frost that had set in back on the day she died, never breaking it completely but sometimes thawing parts of it. Alcoholics were shunned most places, but few knew exactly how it did help, if only for moments. Pounding headaches and dry throats seemed to be forgotten the moment another bottle was popped open. Although it was true that, every time the dizziness evolved into torturing hallucinations, he saw her eyes, disintegrating blue, always holding tight to his own.
He didn't want to think about the two new tributes who were preparing to enter the arena, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. The warrior and the empathetic one. He likes them far too much to get to know them, to make it all the more worse to watch them die. Throughout the years, he's watched tributes come and go, hardly bothering to remember their names. Just a blur of black-haired, grey-eyed, half-starved teenagers at the mercy of the vicious Capitol. But these two seem different, and he doesn't want them to be. He wants to forget. And, alas, he drinks.
When the boy told him of the brilliant plan, admitting his love for the girl, Haymitch was tempted to refuse. He could see it in Peeta's eyes that, though the suggestion was meant to be a stunt for the audience, what he was saying was real. It was the subtlest way he looked down as he said it; the way his cheeks turned faintly scarlet. They said Haymitch Abernathy was a crazy old drunk, and he was a crazy old drunk, but he saw these things. And it pained him, for for a second he reminded him of Maysilee- her open attitude towards her feelings, her desire to protect. He thought of Katniss, a strong fighter who may even have a sliver of hope through all the blood and killing in these twisted games. He didn't want her to go through what he did. He didn't want her to end up old and lonely and drunk senseless. He saw himself in her, and didn't want her to end up like he did.
Yet how could he turn Peeta down, with determination burning in his eyes? How could he watch his face fall in dissapointment and see nothing but Maysilee's eyes, crestfallen? He had told Peeta it was a good idea that he should follow through, but he wasn't speaking about Peeta and Katniss when he made the agreement. He was referring to himself and Maysilee, hoping that maybe this time, the outcome would be better. Maybe this time, there wouldn't be one of them left behind with nothing but regret, and numbness. The hope for Katniss's success was highly unlikely, after all. Maybe she would get lucky. Maybe they would both die this time.
Winning those games twenty-four years ago had been the worst thing that had ever happened to Haymitch. And so now, he slumps in a strange Capitol room, not much different than all the other one's he's been rushed through, just another piece of matter scattered across the floor with the empty bottles that reflect his past. He is an empty bottle, sucked dry of substance, a shell of something that was full of fire in the past. And so he tries to fill himself by drinking, drinking until he forgets, but it never works. He can't. Forget.
"Cheers," he mumbles to no one one in particular, smirking dryly. He tips the bottle to his lips, tasting the past and ignoring the future. As the glass nears his face, he catches the reflection of one soot-grey eye and notices, ignoring for the moment any emotions threatening to spill out down his chest, that they, too, are deteriorating.
Look up the lyrics to "Cosmic Love" by Florence and the machine; it's totally their song.