A/N: Well then, welcome to Final Strike my guests. Now, this is third in a series of probably three about a tribute/mentor/general prat called Kara Jaymond. (Not neccessarily in that order). Anyway, if you haven't then I suggest you go and read 'Gnawing Hunger', then 'Shattered Hearts' and finally move onto this. You see, no matter how much I love it when I have new people on board reading and reviewing my fics, it's just bad for you if you don't understand. You'd probably be able to pick it up from here, but I don't think you would have enough background information to fully understand (and enjoy) this. Don't worry, this isn't going anywhere... wait a second... disclaimer - I don't own the hunger games, Suzanne Collins does. Right then, now it's not going anywhere. So I hope you don't just leave if you haven't read the ones before, if you're here then you're here for a reason, right? So you could just go and check them out. Granted, the beginning is rubbish, but once you get into them I can guarantee you'll be almost obsessed as I am. Almost. Anyway, enough of my rambling. I present to you... Final Strike.
I wake up to hear the agonising wails of a baby. A baby? A baby! I leap out of bed as fast as I can, barely bothering to set back the ruffled covers on my bed as I launch myself down the stairs, frantically thinking of what I'm going to say to Hercules, and Lumina while I'm at it. I can't believe it; the doctor said it would come any day soon, but now? Already? I'm not prepared, not ready at all, especially since I'm his or her protector.
My hurried body yanks its way out of my house in a flurry, my father probably still in bed at this time in the early morning, orange streaks slashing the lightening sky. As I dash out of my house I glance at the houses to my left and right. To the left is Zen's new house, he's actually settled in nicely. He never told me where he lived before, but I'm assuming it wasn't exactly very nice, and to the right is where Hercules used to live. I say used to, because his mother only resides there now, he's moved in with Lumina. And now their household has amounted to three just this very morning.
I scurry out of the house, the fresh morning air stuck on my tongue, and the few spikes of grass I'm able to see which are so rare in my district are swimming in glistening silver orbs of dewdrops, sweet and circular. Shaking my head to tug me from my alert state I race to the opposite house, running across the dying plants that the late winter provides, anxiously rubbing my hands together and not just to warm them against the bitter air. With a brisk tap onto Hercules and Lumina's door, only to find it unresponsive, I decide to knock a bit louder. And by a 'bit' I mean almost breaking the door down. Well I guess that's what it's like if you're a victor. In the end Hercules tramples down the stairs groggily, murmuring something about me almost breaking the door down. I think he noticed, whoops.
"Where is it? Is it a boy or a girl?" I gabble hurriedly, trying to push Hercules aside to let me in, prodding his bicep while doing so. But he leans against the door, sleepy eyes drooping and confused, almost refusing to let me in via his bulk physically blocking up the doorway. And I can't argue with all of that muscle, can I? My face flushes when I realise he's only in his nightclothes, and he has trundled downstairs barefoot just to answer the door. Or what's left of it.
"What are you talking about?" Hercules sighs, rubbish his bicep where I just poked him, and staring at me oddly like I am delusional or something.
"The baby; the baby! Have you thought up a name for it yet?"
"You woke me up at goodness knows what hour in the morning when the sun has barely peaked, just to ask me that?" Hercules asks me in disbelief.
"Why wouldn't I? I'm Lumina's best friend, aren't I?" I say, examining Hercules' dumbfounded face.
"Well, you could have asked us after the baby's actually been born, you know, might have been customary; and not at this time in the morning!" Hercules snaps at me, evidently cranky.
"What do you mean 'after the baby's been born'?" I ask, confusion swimming through my expression.
"I mean 'after the baby's been born'," scoffs Hercules, "you do know it's not due until a couple more days, right?"
"Yes, but..." I stammer anxiously, trying to wipe off the look of disbelief on Hercules' face, "I heard crying, a baby's cries!"
Hercules is just about to start speaking when I hear the wail again, but this time it's not coming from this house, but the empty and unoccupied one next to it.
"What's that?" I question, perking up my ears as the baby's wail cries out again.
"Listen Kara, no offence, but I couldn't care less about your delusions at this time in the morning. Now if you'll excuse me, I was planning on having a lie in," huffs Hercules and rather rudely slams the door in my face, causing me to frown at the sharp and crisp morning's air, before the wail breaks out again and I decide to go and investigate as curiosity gets the better of me.
I slowly stride to the empty house next to Hercules and Lumina's and open the door; or rather, I try to, since the door is jammed shut. After a while of constant rattling and manic attempts at opening it I come to the logical conclusion that this house is, in fact, locked. But why; why is it locked?
I viciously thump at the door and even decide to knock on the metallic knocker on the front of the door that's conveniently there to try and get in. Not like anyone will reply, but still... yet suddenly something moves in the house, I hear something stirring, and through the glimpse of blurred glass I see a dark figure slowly approaching the door. I suddenly feel my chest tighten in anticipation, which is stupid really, since I'm the one who actually has the more right to be here and the higher status since I'm both rich and a victor even if I'm just from district eight, and then the door creaks open.
In front of me stands a woman in about her late thirties, straggly brown hair tied back in a ponytail to get kept out of her pinkish and flustered face, a serious and slightly worried expression showing and a quite young looking baby cradled in her arms, her shushing it as it screams.
"Who – who are you?" I gulp in surprise as I take it all in and glimpse what looks like a normally used house behind her, cluttered as if she had been occupying it for a while now. But she hasn't – there's been no-one there ever since I can remember. I don't think anyone's ever lived in this house at all; actually, since Oswald Bourne and May Flutter, the only other victors from district eight, lived on the other side of the street of Victor's Village.
"Kara, hun, you alright?" the woman asks, clearly concerned. How does she know my name? Wait, everyone knows my name, but still...
"Who are you?" I repeat again, but louder and firmer this time, and more shock brimming over me than before.
"Are you sure you're alright hun, need to sit down, have a hot cup of cocoa?" the woman asks, rocking the baby gently in her arms as the look of concern spreads over her face.
"I asked you a question!" I snap at her, taking on the tone I would use when speaking in anger to all of those people who used to call themselves my friends.
"Kara – you know me," the woman says, desperately now. I examine her face again; one of pure worry and concern towards me, yet no recognition strikes me at all.
"Where from?" I gulp.
"Where from? Where from? Come on hun, I live here! There's me, you, Lumina, Hercules, Zen and Woof."
My face crumples up as the name 'Woof' appears. I've never heard of him or her before. What is this, two people just randomly appear up out of the blue, a woman and a baby, and the woman claims to know me, quite well by the sounds of it.
"Woof? Who is that, and who are you, where do you come from, how come I don't know you?" I ask a flurry of questions, confusion fizzling all over me.
"Kara," the woman says, looking shocked, "you know me. It's me hun, Cecelia, I've been a mentor with you in district eight for years!"
I jolt out of my sleep, my face flustered and drenched in sweat. That was a rather vivid dream, though I swear it was more than that. I'm sure that's happened before. Anyway, that was in the winter and now it's the summer – almost time for the dratted hunger games again.
"Kara, the other victors are waiting for you," my father calls and reluctantly I tug myself out of my bed and then trample downstairs, the rather vivid dream still in my memory, refusing to budge.
Brushing past father on the way to the door, not even wondering how come he's up earlier than me, I stumble out onto the street, still in my rather skimpy silken nightie. I can't even escape from my supposed 'sexy' theme here at home in victor's village.
"Hey Zen." Zen blushes slightly when he sees what I'm wearing and turned his gaze away, embarrassed.
"Lumina, Hercules, how's the little one?" I ask them and the couple share a knowing look before beaming at me.
"Kurt's fine, thanks Kara," Lumina beams, her hand wrapped around Hercules' arm as if it was a life line.
"So, what are you all doing?" I ask them, though I know very well what they're doing. Today is the one day of the year when I can let go and just feel the stress of the upcoming hunger games ebb away – today is my birthday. My seventeenth birthday.
"Surprise!" exclaim Lumina and Hercules at the same time and Hercules passes a square shaped present about the size of a rather large orange to me. I feel around it, trying to find out what it is. Impatience getting the better of me as I register a solid square object, I rip it open and find myself staring at a rubix cube, a special type of puzzle for brainiacs like Beetee they have in the Capitol.
"Thanks." I grin and turn expectantly to Zen. He sheepishly holds out a rather flat and flimsy object wrapped in crisp brown paper. Not even bothering to feel this one, I rip it open only to find an "I heart Zen" t-shirt. In reply to this I just raise an eyebrow.
"When you told me you didn't have one last year I thought I might as well fill the gap," shrugs Zen even more sheepishly and I can't help but giggle.
"Okay then, that's all," I say, a grin infecting my face.
"Haven't you forgotten someone?" a voice calls and I turn around to see an aging man with decaying grey hair and a very recognisable woman. The woman from my nightmare; and that must be the man she mentioned. Cecelia and Woof.