A/N: Hello everyone. This is the 24 tributes, 24 authors and the 24th hunger games fic. The basics of it is that 24 authors each take on one of the 24 tributes to write about in the 24th hunger games. Exciting, huh? So don't forget to look up your favorite authors on their profiles to read more of their writing, this should open a world of hunger games reading to you that you never knew existed until now! Some of these names you might have heard of, others you probably haven't. You might find a new favorite author while reading this, you never know! So, without further ado, the authors are as following (in no particular order):

Booksandmusic97, Jojob19, Lexi Blaze, Isabugg, zxskunkmuffinxz, LegendOfZeldaFreak, SneverusSnapers, nightfuries, PenMySword, Cottoncandychoctop, Packman23, Sallen, Magentapen, live. love. laugh. write, PhoenixRefrain, Yelof530, FritzasPritz, PumpkinGrin, Mrslukecastellean, Jayfish, PearyPants44, Life is but a Daydream, Cloud-Lover26 and Falconflight.

This was all put together by the fantabulous mikki105 and her jaw dropping second-in-command who's going to take the place of Claudius Templesmith in commentating over this fic, SneverusSnapers (that's me!). For more information feel free to drop either mikki105 or myself a PM. We'd be happy to help!

Disclaimer: Suzanne Collins owns the hunger games, not any of us 24 measly authors. If I did I wouldn't be sticking around this rabble! Honestly!

Now, without dilly-dallying any more we're going to get straight on into the writing. So I present you with district one by… the fabulous live. love. laugh. write. (D1 female) and the energetic isabugg (D1 male)!

Live. Laugh. Love. Write.'s A/N: Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you know how excited I am to start this, and that I get to open. I haven't posted anything on yet, but hopefully I'll start posting some more soon. I just want to ask you all to review, and let you know all criticism is much appriciated! One last thing- I'd like to thank Isabugg for being such an amazing partner. And now... I present to you: the District One reapings!

Isabugg's A/N: WOAH, I'M IN ANOTHER STORY? Well, how 'bout that. It's so exciting to be a part of this collaboration, especially because of the ridiculous amount of talent all the other authors have. I go onto the forums and I practically explode with jealousy because of it. Hahah! I also couldn't ask for a better partner than Live. Laugh. Love. Write. She's always open to suggestions and puts up with all my annoying edits and PM's, which I couldn't thank her enough for. ANYWAY, I've grown quite fond of the character I've created for this, and hopefully all of you will too. He's a pyro with a terrible attitude, and you can look at his photo reference here: i39-tinypic-.-com-/-29ooiyq-.-png (remove '-'s) NOW I'LL STOP BABBLING AND LET YOU READ.

Skye Azurite's Point of View (by Live. Laugh. Love. Write.)

"The best road to progress is freedom's road."

—John F. Kennedy

I awaken to the bright, electric blue light of the illuminated clock on the ornately carved side table. It alerts me to the fact that it is early morning and the inhabitants of District One are still asleep. It is the day of the reaping. It is no wonder that I couldn't sleep.

I silently slide out of bed, treading gracefully on the balls of my feet to the training area. I flip on the light switch and listen intently to the silence above. My parents are still asleep. I walk over to the gleaming rack of weapons that seems to be beckoning to me. Cautiously, but with much finesse, I pick up my best weapon- grip blades. Grip blades are a unique weapon, with a handle embedded with different shades of blue gemstones and a wickedly sharp blade that seems to fold back unto the handle.

As soon as I pick up the weapon, the pretense of somebody else seems to come over me. Instead of being lithe, delicate fifteen-year-old Skye I usually am, my ice blue eyes harden. My stature becomes balanced and protective. I am no longer a petty teenage girl, but a dangerous adversary. I am a young woman with the capability to end somebody's life within a second. I am limitless.

With a grip blade in each hand, I saunter over to one of the life-sized targets. Each target is red underneath a black coating the exact thickness of human skin. I gracefully slide the knife multiple times across the target's chest in a matter of seconds, leaving behind trails of blazing scarlet. I smile, and satisfaction fills my eyes.

A few hours of intense practicing, I hear the first signals of my parents be aroused by the help. I quickly put the training area back into order, then slip into my comfortable bed under my down comforter. I close my eyes just in time as I hear my mother's footfalls on the stairs. "Skye, you must get up now. It's the day of the reapings." At this I open my eyes. I see the smile hardened into my mother's face, and the anxiety reflected in her eyes.

"Yes mother." I stretch my muscles, as if I was slightly sore after a night of worrisome sleep which is to only be expected on the day of the Reapings. My mother slowly strode up the stairs, leaving me alone in my large room. I hear the click as she inserts and turns the key in the lock, trapping me inside.

After looking through my large assortment of lavish dresses, I decide on a pastel pink and blue one made of silk. It reminds me of the delicacy cotton candy, which is saved for special occasions in the District, such as a Victor in the Hunger Games. The tight, luminous pink bodice and the cascading sapphire blue skirt form an elegant cohesiveness of colors. A pure white velvet ribbon separates the two colors, creating a tension between the top and the bottom sections of the dress. I carefully zip up the back, adding support to the strapless top and hoisting the dress up a little past my knees.

I then focus my attention on the rest of me. I cautiously apply a dazzling streak of glowing white eyeliner to attract wondering gazes to my icy blue eyes. I pull my light golden blonde ringlets out of the casual ponytail I sleep in, and pin the strand dyed cobalt blue out of my eyes with a diamond barrette in the shape of a poised butterfly. I apply some red lipstick to give myself a dash of color to my pallid complexion.

I walk over to the kitchen portion of the downstairs. After eating a very nutritious meal of oatmeal completed with an array of different types of berries, I take one last look around the downstairs. The downstairs was divided into five sections- the kitchen, the training area, the bathroom, the bedroom, and the study. In the bedroom there was a gleaming silver spiral staircase that leads aboveground, with an ornate gold door and a matching intricate lock. Right next to the bed, there is a schedule that tells me what I am supposed to do for the day. I am given an allotted amount of time to each individual activity and expected to just perform the activity within that specific amount of time. This insures that my parents know exactly what I'm doing and when. It also is the reason why I have to practice silently in the early hours of the morning.

Exactly one hour before the reapings, my parents walk down the elegant stairs, an identical stern look on each of their faces. They then lead me up the stairs like a young child, watching my every move intently. My mother is in front and my father is in back. When we reach the top of the stairs, my mother takes my left arm and my father grips the right. We then exit the house, and I look behind at the place that has imprisoned me for so long.

I wait in the fifteen-year-old section, watching the roughly set up stage with intensity. It is easily inferred that the Capitol attendants frantically set it up overnight with little time due to the fact that the stage looks unstable and is covered with an assortment of metallic colored pieces of cloth. There are folding chairs that were made to look like replicas of a luxurious throne.

Our mayor approaches the microphone with anxiety reflected in his topaz eyes. His paled skin stands out with his dark curls which are graying, and you can see the hesitation in his posture. He clears his throat gruffly, as if trying to get the attention of the myriad inhabitants of my district.

The escort walks onto the white stage, determination set in his eyes, and a sudden still comes over the crowd. He is a new escort, unknown to the citizens of District One and especially unknown to myself. He is older, but has been enhanced to look younger due to popular surgeries in the Capitol. The escort is also a physical representation of District One. He has grown out and unkempt gold hair that sweeps into his cloudy metallic silver eyes which are framed by diamonds embedded in his copper skin.

"Well! I guess now is a good time to introduce our new escort. Everyone, give a warm welcome to Creon Argent!" announces the mayor, a strained smile on his skittish face. The escort sweeps his cold, unforgiving eyes on the crowd, who are rushing to supply applause as intimidated as our escort. He supplies a mock smile, and raises his hand to wave impassively.

After the applause quickly dies down, a precise line of the five past victors walk onto the stage, pride emitting from every aspect of them. I watch the older victors, as old as forty, and the younger victors, as old as last year's male victor at 16, walk onto the white stage.

As soon as I see last year's victor, I cannot take my eyes off of him. Even from this distance, I can tell he is taller than me. However, that's not saying very much because I am only a few inches past five feet. His chocolate brown locks fall into his electric blue eyes, which contrast immensely with his bronze skin. He is muscular, but not in a way that would scare you away. Instead, it looks quite comforting, almost like a protective older brother. He meets my gaze, and I feel an awakening in my chest and my face flush with color. He smiles slightly at me, still maintaining my gaze.

Then I see a female victor from a couple years past. She is a stunningly perfect platinum blonde, and looks about sixteen also. Her eyes, an attractive mint green in color, follow his eyes to scrutinize me, studying me. I shiver slightly at her unreasonable hostility. This surprises me because I don't know this girl, just like the vast majority of my district.

The mayor quickly plunges into his annual speech. He begins with the history of Panem. First, he explains all the catastrophic disasters leading up to the Dark Days; then he goes into painstaking detail about how the Capitol annihilated District Thirteen and left the other districts enslaved. He seems almost as distracted and restless as the rest of the citizens of District One.

"Lastly, I will name our past Victors," says the mayor, his skittish eyes scanning each individual child. "Ava Hobbs." Ava, a woman looking like she's in her forties, stands up with her greying hair and narrows her eyes at the crowd. "Summer Diamond." A woman in her thirties with silky auburn hair and piercing green eyes sends a dazzling smile at the camera. "Robert McLean." He grins lopsidedly, flipping his black hair out of his green eyes. He's quite young, somewhere in his twenties. "Samuel Hanson." Samuel, a man in his early twenties with closely cut blonde hair in a military buzz and gray eyes, nods curtly at the camera. "Jaloux Estlaid." Jaloux, the surly beauty who took a sudden dislike to me, sends a genuinely sweet smile to the camera which curdles my stomach. "Matt Kyanite." Matt, the young guy with chocolate brown locks and electrifying blue eyes, glances over me and focuses on Jaloux. I feel a hot feeling rise to my head, flushing my face with a rosy pink color. My eyes narrowed, seething in silent anger.

"First, we shall announce the female tribute," announces Creon, a sense of authority embedded in his voice as he swiftly takes the microphone from our anxious mayor. He promptly delves his hand into the glass orb holding the name of every child in my district at least once. He unfolds the crisp parchment, and reads the name.

"Skye Azurite."

The whispers ripple through the crowd, like a smooth stone thrown into the polished surface of a crystal clear like.

"Who is that?"

"Does she live in this District?"

"I've never heard of her."

As everybody is frantically looking around for the new tribute, I begin to function once again and regain my composure as the realization that the tribute is me. I don't cry out. I don't look intimidated. As I watch myself glide unto the stage, I glimpse myself in the screens that ordain the buildings next to the stage that allow all the inhabitants to see what is going on. I look confident. I look beautiful. And, most importantly, I look unstoppable.

The first thought that crosses my mind is, "I am free."

I wait for volunteers, knowing that there is sure to be at least one. However, it seems that the females in my district are more curious about who I am and discovering my secrets than satisfying their bloodlust. The silence presses on me like a thousand crushing weights. Though it may seem overwhelming to most people, to me it seems like gravity, holding me onto the earth. Finally, Creon announces that I will be the tribute.


As I wait in the Justice Building for my final visitors, I start to closely observe my surroundings. I figure it may be a good habit to get into for the Hunger Games. The large, elaborate windows enlighten the room with a bright, pure light. There are two velvet cobalt couches lined with silver, and a table inlaid with silver and an assortment of gleaming blue gemstones. The light reflected off of the different facets, making the delicate reflections swirl on the cream colored walls.

A stern Peacekeeper escorts my hysterical mother into the holding room, along with my numb father trailing behind them. "We were trying to protect you," my mother sobbed, her crying into my shoulder as if she was the one going into the arena of death. I pat her back mechanically.

I suddenly realize that I actually don't really care about my parents. They had imprisoned me, like a princess waiting for a prince that will never come. The anger seethes over me until I can't handle it anymore. Over my mother's senseless babble, I release all my frustration. "Stop!" I cry, hatred pouring into my voice. "Listen mother. Listen." She quiets down immediately. "You've never cared about my well-being. You've only cared about the heartache you were trying to save yourself if anything were to happen to me. Have you thought that I'm most likely going to die? There are twenty-four of us. Only one comes out."

"Of course I've thought about that-" she begins.

"Listen!" I yell, making her jump with fright. "You are never going to see me again! I'm going to die. You'll never hear my voice again. You'll never see the flush of my cheeks. You'll never see the sweat of my brow when I'm training. Doesn't that bother you?" I demand, still seething.

"Of course it does!" my mother begins to yell back, regaining her usual outlook on my life.

"Go! Just go!" I demand, pointing at the white marble door. "Leave!"

"But…" my mother tries to stop me.

"I have nothing to say," I say, narrowing my eyes. My hatred of my parents is clearly displayed in my hostility.

"I love you." The linger of a whisper is the only part of my mother that stays behind.

"I love you too." I feel the tears begin to make their way down my cheeks, caressing them.

I hear the hesitant knock, and wonder who could possibly be there to visit me. "Yes?" I say, hearing my voice crack. I instantly hate the discordant sound, and clear my throat.

"Are you okay?" I see a tentative electrifying blue eye, and I know exactly who it is.

"I don't even know you. Why are you here?" I ask curiously as he silently enters in the room, carefully observing me in particular.

"I…" he paused, considering the words with reluctance. "I'm not exactly sure. I just thought…" he paused once again, allowing me to acknowledge the fact that he seemed nervous. "I thought you may need someone to talk to. It doesn't seem like anybody knows you."

"That's because nobody does." I feel another silent tear trace its way down my cheek.

"Why is that?" he asked, compassion in his voice. His cobalt blue eyes seemed to spread warmth within me, a feeling I was unacquainted with. I've always heard the expression 'butterflies in your stomach', but I never thought it could be that strong.

"My parents… they locked me up in our basement."

I watched as his eyes widened in shock. "Why?"

"Well…" I begin, checking myself to make sure I was capable of answering. The words rushed out like a waterfall that has been dammed up for too long. "When I was little, my best friend and my parents' best friends were in the same family. As we now know, they were going bankrupt. They needed a quick way to earn some money, and stole jewels from the mines in order to keep themselves from going broke. The authorities caught them. My father was forced to personally shoot his best friend, along with the rest of his friend's family. Since then, my parents have seen every little thing as a potential threat to my wellbeing. Eventually, they grew so concerned that they locked me in the basement. I'm only allowed out on reaping days. Now I understand that it's not my safety they were worried about, but the heartache they would feel if I was gone. The feeling that they lost something that was once important."

Matt looked at me, and I just noticed then that I was still crying. He shyly raised a hand to my cheek, and wiped away a tear. "That's a lot."

"Yeah," I smiled through my tears.

After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, he asked, "Shall we head down to the train?" while offering me his hand.

"Sure." I look at his open hand, and grasp it lightly to hoist myself to my feet. I smile at him, and he grins lopsidedly back. I feel a strong flush overcome my face, and a sense of desire imprison me within its blazing grip. He lets go, a few seconds after what is necessary.

When we arrive at the train, I notice that even after we part, Matt seems to be looking at me protectively. Is that hope I see in his eyes? He went to talk to my Mentor, Jaloux. I watch her skim her lips against his cheek without hesitation. However, her cold green eyes never stop glaring at me.

I walk onto the train, only to see my district partner Roy. He has patchwork skin, red-bronze hair, and amber eyes. He looks and me and nods approvingly. I turn away with disgust.

Curiosity about every little object overwhelms me. I am interested in every unfamiliar thing, and there is quite a lot that is foreign to me. I rub my fingertips over materials I don't recognize, study windows, and look at everything with excitement.

I watch the train leave behind my district, my home, and all the people I thought I loved. I realize that I don't really mind. This gives me a new confidence and, just possibly, the strength to win the Hunger Games.

Roy Rousseau's Point of View (by Isabugg)

"Oh, what ecstasy setting fires brings to my body!
What power I feel at the thought of fire!
...Oh, what pleasure, what heavenly pleasure!"

— Joseph Kallinger

"Your name's Roy Rousseau, right?"

It's too muggy inside this smothering, mundanely decorated confinement. The moisture in the air makes the bare skin of my arms and my collarbone sticky with a slight sheen of sweat, and no matter how many times I impatiently wipe my forehead with the back of my hand or slide my reedy fingers into my shock of crimson hair in an effort to air myself out, it still feels as if the sultry, stifling air is slowly suffocating me as it slithers its way through my throat.

"Why are you even asking?" I grumble, my voice quiet and throaty as I lean lazily into the plush, faded green armchair I was given to sit in. Its armrests are carelessly covered with sewn-on patches of fabrics of various patterns, and I absently let the pale, calloused pads of my fingers fiddle with them. "My mom must've told you everything about me already. Poor thing probably still thinks there's hope."

The man sitting across from me, his plump face rounded from years of feasting on District 1's sizable amount of delicacies, furrows his eyebrows with vexed frustration. "There is hope for you, Roy," he stresses, his beady eyes narrowing with intensity, "And, as your psychologist, I promise you that I will find it."

I roll my amber eyes, the yellowness of them contrasting against the strands of red hair streaking down my forehead as my eyelashes brush lightly against the disheveled wisps. "And I still have yet to see your license," I gripe, straining my already sharp gaze, "For all I know, you could be scamming my mom out of all her hard-earned money."

"Your mother isn't paying me a cent for my services." The man lets out an elongated groan, crossing his portly legs and bringing his meaty fingers up to knead his temple. "You're here because I want to help you. Like it or not, you have a problem. Everybody in the district has seen what you do with fire—"

"Oh, goodie. I've been trying to ruin my reputation." I flash him a dry smile, making the corners of my mouth begrudgingly crunch upward. "Maybe I should step it up a notch. Burn down a school, or something."

"This isn't a joke!" he grouses, leaning forward and letting his lips curl into a snarl, the look of a coyote about to pounce on its prey. "Look at what your mental illness has done to you—your family, your social life, your own arms!"

Raising my eyebrows so that they disappeared into the tufts of scarlet hair tumbling down my forehead, I dart my golden gaze toward the pasty flesh of my forearms, noticing how the discoloration and inflammation of what had once been grotesque burn injuries twisted around my white skin like an angular vine. "...I don't have a mental illness," I mumble darkly, knotting my hands into stern fists.

"Are you really just going to keep telling yourself that, Roy?" the man asks, his voice softening as if he thought that he had hit a weak point, "Or are you going to be a man and take charge of your pyromania?"

Swiftly and viciously, I raise my head and constrict my eyes into an icy, cutting glare. "As much as I love having both my sanity and manhood questioned by a chubby old man," I hiss through my teeth, my jaw tightening as I sharply stood up and took bitter steps toward the exit, ramming my clenched fists into the cramped pockets of my jeans, "I think I'll be taking my leave. Au revoir."

"Roy?" he confusedly calls out, his already grating voice cracking with surprise as his hands flew reflexively to the armrests of the stuffed chair his large body had been crammed into.

I ignore him, crinkling the bridge of my nose grimly as I jerk the door of his home violently open, a brisk breeze from the outside gushing over my tightened features and immediately chilling the perspiration that had been gathering at my hairline and collarbone.

"Roy! Get back he—"

My wrist roughly clicks as I step outside and slam the door behind my stiffened frame, cutting off the gravelly voice of the man I had been scheduled to spend my entire afternoon with.

The lean muscles cording over the bones in my arms tauten as I grit my teeth harshly with muted fury, my eyebrows scrunched together and my chest flaring.

I'm not crazy. I'm completely normal.

Almost as a cruel reminder, the swollen scar tissue coiling around my arms prickles as it rubs against the light material of my shirt. Hidden in the miniscule fissures are yellowing bruises, hardly noticeably among the already ruined flesh, and the muscles in my stomach suddenly begin mangling together with nausea as my amber eyes glance at them.

I'm not crazy, I stubbornly repeat to myself, I'm not.

It's a brisk day, the sun paled in color by transparent clouds as they slowly streak through the sky in soft, pastel spirals. The wind is gentle, its graze like the flutter of a butterfly's wing against the crook of my neck as it slithers against my skin.

It would've been enjoyable if I hadn't been walking toward the Town Square for the annual reaping ceremony.

Surrounding me are teenagers around my age whose expressions shine with youthful energy, their smiles both eager and deadly as they hurry down the shining streets of District 1. It seems as if I hear, "I'm definitely volunteering this year!" after rounding each corner, the sentence either slicked with the mischievous voice of a male trying to impress his infatuation or the high-pitched shrillness of a female livening herself up for the event.

Lingering with these enthusiastic exclamations are faint whispers, my name snaking through the barely audible words. I pick up traces of, "He just seems so scary," and, "He would be so attractive without those scars," and I can only furrow my eyebrows and sigh as I pretend to not hear them.

I plant my feet in the rest of the seventeens once I reach the square, and the shrill murmurs only seem to increase, making my skull ache as they cleave my eardrums.

"I hear that he speaks French. Ancient languages are so hot."

"His scars are disgusting, though. Such a shame."

"Don't forget that he's a psycho!"

I'm almost relieved when I notice the mayor mounting the stage, his crisp suit spotless and his hair, the brownness of it once vivid, gradually fading into a dull white. The whiteness matches the stage, its unstained surface glinting in the delicate sunlight and distracting from the two crystal bowls placed at either side of the platform, their chiseled expanses carrying what must have been hundreds of sheets of parchment.

The mayor nervously adjusts his tie, the fabric of the adornment a soft red silk, before leaning toward the single microphone propped on the stage and clearing his throat in an effort to silence the quiet chatter slinking throughout the crowd. It only succeeds is riling the audience up more, making exuberant young males pound their fists into the air and gruffly call out eager exclamations of their plans to volunteer.

Slowly and quietly, almost snake-like, the chosen escort for the year steps onto the stage, his shined dress shoes catching the light of the sun as he roughly pulls the long sleeves of his blue dress shirt up his arms and loosens his tie, a black blazer hanging loosely off his forearm. His eyebrows furrow, making the golden wisps of hair that had fallen across his forehead twitch from the slight movement before he sternly flashes a glare toward the audience, silver eyes icy and threatening.

The crowd almost instantly slips into a frightened silence, making the muffled taps of the escort's shoes echo through the area as he unhurriedly ambles toward the elegant chair set for him at the back of the stage. As he seats himself, the gleam of the multiple gemstones embellishing the brim of his cheeks is apparent even through the light haze, somehow making his intimidating air more thick.

"Well!" the mayor uncomfortably chuckles, running an aged hand through his locks of graying hair, "I guess now is a good time to introduce our new escort. Everyone, give a warm welcome to Creon Argent!"

Creon almost succeeds in looking bored as his gaze twitches from the mayor toward the audience, making everyone skittishly bring their hands up to clap, the sound of it weak and hushed. He puts his elbow on his chair's armrest before resting his chin in his palm and halfheartedly waving, the movement sharp and quick. Before his acclamation died down, an extensive line of past victors proceeded to mount the stage, all of them neatly filing themselves toward the back. Some of them were as young as sixteen while others were in their late thirties, emphasizing the fact that District 1 proudly owns a high success rate.

I could almost feel the excitement of everyone in the pool of possible tributes rise at the sight of them.

The mayor, sensing that Creon's impression was slowly fading, immediately dives into his annual speech regarding the roots of the games: the rebellion, the Capitol's wondrous victory, and the punishment that would forever be blighted upon the districts.

As his voice drones through the area, soft echoes ringing in the distance, I let my cat-like eyes wander to the sides of the crowd. I had avoided seeing my mother after what had happened with the psychologist, knowing that he wouldn't waste any time complaining about my behavior and hammering the thought that I was an unstable lunatic deeper into my mother's already thoroughly wounded heart.

Instead, I see my father, his face reddened from doubtless drunkenness and his stance so crooked that he appeared to be leaning on the disapproving man he had been situated next to. His cloudy eyes, the irises once being a vivid mirror of my own before his alcoholism, seem to lock onto the sky, signifying that he was in the spiraling depths of a drunken daze.

The moment the mayor utters out his closing words, Creon promptly stands up from his chair and glides to the front of the stage, his silver eyes pondering each of the faces in the crowd. His chest rises as he lets his slender fingers wrap around the black shaft of the microphone, putting his mouth more close to the top of it to make his voice more lucid.

"We have a sort of...situation this year," he mumbles, his voice sleek as it slides out of his mouth, "The adults in this community have made their concerns about one particular male youth clear. After much debate, the authoritative figures have come to a major decision regarding the issue, which will be for the benefit of both the male in question and this entire district."

It's almost as if every frame in the crowd visually stiffens in response, lips parting with silent protests as Creon sternly continued.

"Our solution, of course, ended up including sending this male to the arena. All we needed was parental consent," he lilts, letting his piercing silver eyes wander, "and we received that this morning."

With terrible suddenness, it had become difficult to breathe, making me protectively cross my arms in front of my chest and unconsciously rise my shoulders until strands of my crimson hair brushed lightly against them. I swallow hard in an attempt to soothe my constricted airways, only to have to harshly crinkle my eyebrows together when it made the aching worse.

"So, it is my duty to inform you all that because of this male's disruption to the peace of this district, he will be our pre-picked male tribute this year." Creon takes a moment to close his eyes, bringing his reedy fingers up to his forehead as if announcing this was truly straining him. Abruptly, almost strikingly, he opens them, his irises locking directly onto mine from the stage.

"Roy Rousseau," he strongly declares, and I feel my entire being go numb as every head in the audience turns to me, "If you can't be a functioning member of this society, perhaps you can be a functioning member of the arena."

A thick layer of silence spills over the crowd, smothering me until I feel each of my limbs sternly tense up, like it was slowly freezing me to my very core. Tightening my jaw until my teeth ached, I flash a blazing glare toward my father, expecting him to be the one responsible for the parental consent that meant my possible death.

When my golden eyes fasten viciously on him, the wicked grin that I had expected to see strewn across his features was obliterated from my mind; he was eyeing me from where he was standing with his mouth hung floppily open and the dark circles under his eyes more prominent than I have ever seen them, the irises muddled and lifeless, as if my reaping had suddenly cleansed his body of every trace of alcohol and left him miserably sobered.

A slight woman, her build willowy and fragile and her long wave of hair tinted with a bright scarlet, seems to have found her way to his side. The faint freckles scattered across the brim of her cheeks contorts as she pinches her features with guilt, her gentle eyes refusing to meet mine as I peered at her with disbelief surging through my veins.

My mother is finally done with me.

I force a deep, shaking breath into my lungs, feeling my strained throat squeal with protest as I struggled to relax my tensed muscles.

"...All right," I coolly slur, forcing my fake composure to remain intact as I flash the countless amount of spectators around me a crooked, varmint-like grin, "Get ready, District 1! I'm about to give you all one hell of a show!"

"I regretted it the moment I did it."

My mother sits across from me on a small wooden stool, her knobby knees apparent under the hem of her burgundy dress and her knuckles red from her constant nervous fumbling with her fragile, thin fingers. "I swear to God, Roy, I—I just, I didn't know what to do! I was running out of options!"

"You could've maybe, I don't know, considered not sending me to fight for my life amongst a bunch of maniacal, blood thirsty screwballs," I mutter airily, slouching into the plush cushions of the couch in the visiting room, "Just a thought."

"Creon just asked me if I wanted you to get better! To get rid of your mental illn—"

"I don't," I gripe, my eyes icy as I darkly glower at my mother's sylphlike frame, "have a mental illness. Maybe you do. I can give at least twenty good reasons why you might have a severe case of paranoia, or possibly porphyrophobia, the fear of the color purple—"

"Roy, stop. Don't make everything a joke," she murmurs in a soft undertone, lowering her head and making her straggled rush of scarlet hair spill across her frontside. "Maybe...Maybe the arena will be good for you."

My eyebrows rise into a skeptical glare, my biceps tautening as my hands clench into bloodless fists. "Good for me?" I have to struggle to stifle my fury, biting the inside of my cheek and feeling the skin break between my teeth. "You're a genius, mom. Really. Maybe a little death will make me into the son you've always wanted."

"N—No! Roy, that's not what I meant at all!" My mother begins to tear up, the moisture making her eyes shine with a sickly sheen. "I love you, I would never—"

"Just..." I exhale sharply, raking my gaze to the ground. "Just leave. I promise I'll be dead and out of your hair soon."

There is a few moments where a thick layer of silence weighs against my shoulders, so dense that I feel as if I'm seconds away from curling up into a delicate ball in an attempt to take shelter from it.

It's nothing compared to the agonizing, harrowing pain that sears through my veins when I heard my mother slowly get up from her stool and walk out of the room, leaving me to face the monstrous claws of the doubtless slaughter and destruction of the arena completely and utterly...alone.

My district partner is small and delicate, like a porcelain doll. She's...kind of pretty. In the classical sort of way.

Her petite and fragile stature gives her an air of being entirely breakable, and it doesn't help that her already rosy cheeks flush in color whenever she's even the slightest bit flustered.

Even now, as we're riding in a sleek Capitol car towards the train, she seems nothing but curious—none of the fear I would expect from a girl of her size apparent in her deep, piercing blue eyes—as she peers out the windows and watches the expansive roads skid speedily underneath us.

I let the corner of my mouth perk into a crooked smile.

"Notre destin attend," I whisper under my breath, barely audible.

Our destiny awaits.