It was that time again. The 74th Hunger Games. Shane stared blankly as Mayor Undersee droned on about the same things as every year. He wasn't listening or even paying attention to the Mayor. He never did. Who wanted to listen to the Capitol's propaganda and their reasoning for killing 23 children every year? His eyes were instead on the glass ball that contained every male from the ages of 12 to 18 who lived in District 12.
36 slips of paper with Shane Anderson written on them.
Blaine had 41 slips.
One for every year they were eligible to enter, and the others were all for tessera. Anyone from outside the District would have been confused. Why would a family with only the parents and two teenage boys need so much to survive? But it wasn't just the four of them anymore. Two years ago, Blaine and he had befriended a couple of the merchant kids, Kurt and Reed. Of course, the Hummel's and the Van Kamp's were not impressed that their precious sons were hanging around with some "rag-tag beggar kids from the Seam", and when romance blossomed between the pairs (Kurt and Blaine, Reed and Shane), the two merchant boys had been thrown out onto the streets. So Blaine and Shane split the load, both taking tessera enough for four teenage boys, their mother and father and various other families whose children were not old enough to be in the running. They would never let a family starve if they could do something about it.
Shane knew his chances. Out of all the 16 year olds he was standing with, he had the most slips. Others may have larger families to feed, but there were more of them to take the weight. He looked sadly down at some of the twelve and thirteen year olds. By the time they got to his age, they would have more names in that ball than anyone had before. Families had started having their children born further apart, which meant that for kids coming from the Seam, like him and Blaine, it would be their responsibility to feed their whole family in exchange for higher chances.
He turned around, feeling someone's eyes on him, taking a small chance that no one would notice, and smiled when he found the person still staring. Good luck, he mouthed back at the strawberry blonde standing with Blaine and Kurt. Reed blinked back at him, managing a small smile. Shane could see that he was terrified. They'd had an argument just that morning, where Reed was insisting that he should put his own name in more, so that Shane wouldn't have a higher chance of being reaped because of him. Shane wouldn't allow it, of course. As guilty as he felt for thinking it, Reed had no chance of surviving in the Games. Reed had been brought up with the comforts of hot food whenever he pleased, and no need to fight.
His attention was brought back to the stage as Effie Trinket cleared her throat, tottering about on what must have been at least 6 inch heels. "Happy Hunger Games!" She calls out, her voice carrying across the room, with no need for the microphone in front of her. "And may the odds be ever in your favour!" She smiles directly at the camera as she speaks of how honoured she is to be here, her words and smile obviously fake.
Shane watched as the female tribute is chosen. Katie Mreth. He felt a stab of pity. Katie is 18. Her last year in the running and she gets chosen. She has three younger sisters who you can hear cry out as they hear her name. Their mother was killed a few years back and so Katie was in charge of providing for the others.
But there is nothing to be done. No one is willing to volunteer. No one ever has. In all 74 years of the Games, never has there been a single volunteer from District 12. Other districts, especially the Career districts, have volunteers all the time. Those who have been training their whole lives, who want the glory. But here.. no one was willing to give their own life for someone else. If your name got pulled out of that ball, you were on your own.
Effie crossed over to glass ball containing the boys names, and the crowd goes silent once more. Shane doesn't realise that he's nervously bitting on his lip. Please. Please don't be Blaine. He silently prays. Effie reached into the ball, pulling out a slip and crossing back over to the podium. She unfolds the paper and smiles up at the crowd.
"Reed Van Kamp."
Reed Van Kamp.
Reed Van Kamp
Shane had always been able to tell exactly what Reed was thinking, just by looking into his eyes. He knew exactly when the older boy was happy or sad, and could always tell when Reed was hiding his emotions from others. But now, as he turned back to face Reed, complete horror spreading across his face... Reed's eyes were empty. Emotionless. He smiled comfortingly at Shane, but it didn't reach his eyes. Shane couldn't move. He had no control over his body as he watched Reed slowly walk up the stage. How was it possible? He hadn't even considered- it just seemed so unlikely. Five slips among thousands. No. "No!" The heartbreaking cry ran out. Everyone turned in shock to the source of the commotion. That's when Shane realised that it had been him. He pushed through the crowd, choking out unintelligible words, desperately trying to get to Reed.
A pair of strong arms suddenly grabbed him, stopping him from going any further. He struggled against them, screaming at them just to let him go, he had to get to Reed! Couldn't they see that? "Shane! Shane, you have to calm down." But calming down was the last thing on his mind.
"Let go of me! Reed!" He screamed out. "I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!"