A/N: You know, I have written way over 5,000 words just on these A/Ns for you. You don't know how long I take to spew out all this stuff. I know you're all thinking "well don't then, and leave us in peace to read the chapter, we're only reading this A/N in case it contains anything important", but you don't know all the effort I put into this! Come on guys, give Snev a round of applause! *listens to the blank silence*. Well then! That is IT! I'm on strike. You want A/Ns from Snev? Well YOU'RE NOT GETTING ANY MORE! Hah! See how you like that! Now feast your eyes on the A/N for this chapter by... nightfuries (D9 Male), because it will be your LAST! ;)


If it seems a childish thing to do, do it in remembrance that you are a child
~Frederick Buechner


The sun is slowly setting over the Capitol but no one notices the diminishing light. Here they have electricity all the time and the place is so brightly lit that my eyes watered the first time I saw it. In District 9 we have electricity most of the time, since it's required when we're engineering and creating new mutts, and of course, while the Games are showing, but it's nothing compared to the Capitol.

Mind you, nothing in our district is comparable to the Capitol. Whereas I never got a full meal in my life but here the word "hunger" is unknown to all the inhabitants, unless it's directly followed by the word "games". One meal here could have fed the seven of us back home for three months. The quantity of the food is only surpassed by the quality of it. Food so rich in flavour I threw up the first night on the train after having eaten more than I ever had in my life.

Unfortunately no matter how marvellous the food or pretty the lights are doesn't change the fact that most of us are going to be dead in the next few days. I shake my head to get rid of the thought and focus instead on the scene in front of me. Ogden Reeves is sitting at the table, along with Quentin, a small nervous-looking man who's supposed to be my mentor, Lila, Sapphire's mentor and Sapphire herself. Tomorrow's our private training sessions with the Gamemakers, an event that will ultimately determine how many sponsors we'll have, and we're both a little tense because of it. I have absolutely no idea what I'll do for them. None of my previous skills will help me during the Games and, aside from tying knots and learning what plants are poisonous, I didn't really develop any new talents during the training days. I sigh; I'll have to decide sooner or later.

A waiter comes to our table, bringing the first course of many. The soup looks delicious; I pick up a spoon hesitantly and slowly start to eat it, under the watchful eye of our escort. He was absolutely horrified the first time we ate on the train. After we'd been shown around it was time for dinner, and I'd fainted from the delicious smells coming from the table. Though I'd been a bit nervous to start eating such rich food, once everyone else had started I didn't see the problem. Until Ogden had gasped and slapped my hands away from my plate.

"What are you doing?" he'd asked, absolutely appalled.

"Um, eating?"

"Not like that! You look like a total savage!"

I'd looked around the table, trying to figure out what I'd done wrong while attempting to ignore the stares everyone was giving me. Then I'd found it; they were all eating with silverware. I mean, I wasn't an idiot, I knew what a fork was, I'd just never used one in my entire life.

I'd picked up the fork slowly and tried to skewer the meat on my plate with it, but that only emitted another loud shriek from Ogden.

"No, not like that! You have to cut it with the knife! Honestly, have you never used cutlery before?"

I'd looked at him, fighting the urge to roll my eyes. What, did he think they gave us forks in jail? "No."

He'd gasped again, and proceeded to spend the entire meal coaching me on my table manners. Because they're going to help me so much when I'm in the arena.

I've gotten the hang of it now though, or at least enough that Ogden doesn't nearly faint when I sit down to eat. The spoon's a lot easier anyways, so I'm pretty good with soup. I concentrate on eating, barely paying attention to the small talk Ogden and our mentors are making until something they say makes me look up.

"Remember last year when we had this soup? And the tribute dumped it all over the carpet? Oh, the stain took ages to get out," Ogden says dramatically, glaring at me out of the corner of his eye as if to say don't make the same mistake.

"The tributes were here?" I ask. Everyone turns to look at me.

"Yes, of course," Ogden says. "Every pair of tributes uses this tower."

"And our rooms," I say slowly. "They're reused?"

"Oh yes. Every male District Nine tribute uses your room and every female tribute uses yours," he answers, gesturing to Sapphire. She lifts her head from the meal, her eyes widening. I don't blame her. The thought of my room being used by every dead tribute from the past 23 Hunger Games makes me shudder.

Ogden continues talking, unaware of the worry that now dances across our faces. "Yes, I remember a short while back when one tribute was convinced his room was haunted by all the deceased children before him. It turned into quite a tourist attraction. I remember the tribute blabbering on about how he could here the other children calling out to him, screaming in pain as though they were dying over and over again."

"Wonderful," I mutter under my breath. Well, if I have nightmares tonight, I'll know who to blame. I glare at Ogden, but he doesn't notice, having returned to his soup.

We finish the course relatively quickly and more waiters return, bearing salad. They all wear white tunics and they never talk. I forget what Ogden said about the dead tributes as I watch them serve us. I've been meaning to ask about them for a while now, and this is my chance.

"So how come they never say anything?" I ask as they leave our table.

"Because they're Avoxes, of course," Ogden replies as though that answers my question. I wait, looking around the table but no one elaborates.

"So how come they never say anything?" I ask again. Ogden gives me a disapproving look, annoyed by my impertinence, but Quentin speaks up.

"T-they've had their tongues cut out," he stutters, not looking me in the eye. He's never talked to me directly, and I'm under the impression that he's scared of me. I don't know how he'll manage to coach me for interviews when the time comes.

"Why?" I ask.

"B-because they've done bad things. They're traitors and c-criminals . . ." he peters off and slowly everyone glances at me. I can feel the heat rising to my face.

"Can I be excused?" I ask Ogden, who's still looking at me. Slowly I slide out of my seat and head out of the dining room, aware that everyone's eyes are still on me. I can't stand walking down the long hall to my room with them watching me, so I take an early turn and end by the tower elevator. I step in and bunch the training floor button unconsciously. I'm not planning on practicing or anything; I just need a long ride so I can think.

I sigh and lean my head against the cool walls of the elevator. I've been getting dirty looks from pretty much everyone since we arrived in the Capitol. Some of the tributes aren't aware of what I am, but those that are cut a wide berth around me. And of course, the Gamemakers know and so do most of the Capitol citizens, since the commentators of the reapings talked about it on live television. Why am I even worrying about what to do in my private training session tomorrow? I'm not getting sponsors no matter what I do.

I can feel the anger rising in me as I continue to think about my position. What gives them the right to call me a criminal and look at me in disgust anyway? All I did was skip a reaping; they're the ones killing children every year. So apparently refusing to celebrate one of their "holidays" is a national felony but mass murder is a-okay. Good to know we have such a fair justice system.

Ah well, no use looking for fairness in the Capitol, I think, letting out a sigh. You just have to go along with it here. Complaining about it won't change anything. You'll just wind up with your tongue cut off, serving future tributes. Or dead. Either way, it won't get you anywhere.

The elevator lets out a soft bing and the doors open. I'd completely forgotten where I was for a second. I pause, debating whether to head right back up to our floor, but I don't want to go back to find them still eating. I think I've had enough of people staring at me for one day.

I hop out of the elevator into the big training gymnasium, planning on just pacing back and forth for a little while until I can be sure it's all clear upstairs, but something stops me. The room's still set up like it was this morning, so all the equipment is in place. All the lights are off and I can just barely see the outlines of everything in the gym. The sparring ring, the plants center, the three massive hanging dummies used to practice various skills. Only right now, there are four hanging dummies.

I blink hard and squint at them, wondering if I'm seeing things, but just then one of the dummies drops from its hanging position above the ground. I wait for the loud crash as it hits the floor, but none comes. Instead, it hooks its legs around the dummy nearest it and hangs there by its legs a few feet off the ground.

I stand there with my mouth wide open like a total idiot, wondering what just happened. Is the training equipment coming to life? But then slowly my brain comes to a more realistic conclusion; that was a person. I watch in awe as slowly they scramble up the dummy, using only their legs, until they come into a comfortable sitting position on its shoulders. Whoever's up there is pretty talented. Before I can stop myself I step forward and shout, "Hey!"

The figure whirls around in my direction and quickly leaps off the dummy, doing a hurried flip in the air before landing solidly on the ground and sprinting away as fast as they can. I curse myself inwardly. Why did I have to do that? Even if I wanted to get to know whoever it was, there are plenty of better, and less intimidating, ways than shouting "Hey!" I shake my head and for the briefest second, thinking about chasing after the tribute, for I'm sure it is one of them, since there's no reason for a Capitol person to be in here at this time of night. But I figure that'll only scare the wits out of them, so I sigh and turn back to the elevator.

On the ride up I think about who it could have been. It was too dark to get a look at their face but I'm pretty sure it was a girl, and obviously one with training. That immediately makes me think of the Careers, especially the girl from 2 who's been contorting herself into all sorts of weird shapes since we got here, but if it was one of them I doubt they'd have run from me. I try to remember who else it could have been, but I'm not terribly familiar with any of the tributes. Most of the time they're a little too busy avoiding and glaring at me for any conversations to really go on.

The elevator rings again and the doors open once more, revealing our floor. It seems pretty empty, which is good. I turn the corner to get to our rooms and bump right into Sapphire.

"Sorry," I whisper. She nods apologetically, but I notice that her eyes are slightly red. I wonder why she was standing in the middle of the corridor but then it hits me; she was looking at the door to her room. Ogden's words come back to me and I remember all the dead tributes that have passed through here. "Don't worry," I say, trying to be encouraging. "It scares me too."

She shakes her head and I watch a tear roll down her cheek. Oh no, what did I do? "Sorry, I'm . . . I'm not very good with . . ." I bite my lip, trying to explain what I mean with my hands, but it just ends up looking like they're having some sort of fit. I sigh. "Sorry."

She shakes her head again. "It's not you." She wipes away the tear from her face and takes a deep breath. "My sister died in the Games a few years ago."

"Oh," is all I can say. We stand there for a moment in silence. "I'm sorry. How did she . . ." I start to ask but stop as I realise what an insensitive question it is.

She sniffs and bites her lip. "She-she was killed by a mutt. An Elecwol. Our chariot costumes."

I think back to when we first got here and were handed over to our crazy stylists, who outfitted us in those ridiculous black costumes with the light-up glasses. It all makes sense now. Something had seemed off about Sapphire that night, not just the fact that she kind of fell out of the chariot but other things too, like I remember her wiping her eyes before we got on, as though she'd been crying. I'd just been too stupid to realise it at the time. "I never liked those costumes anyways," I say with a small grin. She just looks at me and I suddenly feel like banging my head against a wall. Idiot! Her sister died and you're discussing the Capitol's poor fashion sense? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I look up at her, expecting her to burst into tears and run into her room or slap me and storm off angrily, or maybe a mix of both. She gazes at me for a second longer, than a slow smile creeps onto her lips. It's probably just out of pity at my poor sense of humour, but hey, it's better than the alternatives. "With those dorky light-up glasses?"

"And the huge panther ears?"

Soon we're both laughing and the memories of our costumes. It's nice to see a more cheerful expression on her face; I don't think I've seen her look even the slightest bit happy since I first met her. Slowly the laughter dies down and the atmosphere sobers again as she glances at her door again. "I just can't believe, I mean, she used that room," she whispers. "I don't know what my parents are going to do without either of us."

I open my mouth, wanting to tell her that it'll be fine, that she'll get to see her parents again. But I stop myself. How can I tell her that? There's 24 of us, she knows the score. She's a tiny 13 year-old, all the careers are at least twice her size. My reassurances aren't going to help. Besides, only one of us comes home. Don't I want to see my dad again?

The hopelessness envelops me as I realise that I'm not going home. I had a small bit of hope when I left, but now, I know there's no chance. Back in the Justice Building really was the last time I'll get to see my dad and Webb and Caia. I'll never return to District 9. I don't want to. Not if it means that the girl in front of me has to die.

"We should ally," I blurt out. She looks at me sharply.

"What?"

"If anyone wins this, it should be one of us. That way, both of our families will prosper. And our friends. There's a better chance of us surviving if we band together."

She considers this. I can see the unasked question in her eyes. Only one of us can live. But thankfully she doesn't pose it out loud. She's smart for her age, I can tell. We both know that there's little chance of either of us even surviving the bloodbath, let alone making it to the final two. Better just take it one step at a time and not think ahead. Never think about the consequences, I say to myself, imagining my dad's face. A good thief concentrates on the task at hand and worries about what might happen when it happens.

She's eyeing me closely. I can't blame her for not trusting me; I highly doubt any of the other tributes would. I'm a criminal, an outcast and only an idiot would put their life in my hands. "Alright," she says slowly.

I look up, surprised. "Really?" She nods. "Great! That's great." I grin. "I guess the Careers better look out, eh? There's a new team that's going to win." She smiles.

"Well, good-night," she says, heading into her room.

"'Night," I say back. She closes the door as I open mine. I can't stop grinning. We might actually have a chance. I fall on to my bed, contemplating what just happened, accepting the fact that I won't be going home. Sapphire deserves to win more than I do; who knows, they might just throw me back in jail when I get home and pretend my Games never happened. I need to resign myself to the fact that I will die in the arena, but I need to last as long as possible to make sure Sapphire wins. Her victory will help my family and friends as well, right? I just have to come to terms with the fact that I will die in the next few days.

The thought upsets me. Not that I'm going to die, not exactly, but the fact that no one will remember. I mean, my dad will, and Webb and Caia will, but then they'll pass on eventually as well and no one will ever remember I existed. I'll just become one more dead tribute, one more memory that'll haunt this room. That gives me an idea.

I walk over to the mouthpiece we can order food from and ask for a steak. It appears almost instantly, hot and steaming, along with what I really want, which is a big knife to cut it with. I eat the steak anyways, forgetting how hungry I was. I have to admit, it's nice eating in here without Ogden breathing down my neck about manners. Then I take the knife over to a blank section of the wall and begin carve words into it.

It takes me a while, but the product is pretty good. I step back to admire my handiwork.

Remember the old me,

Before I was killed or became a killer,

Before the Games ruined my life.

Remember me, Ari Locus, 15 year-old District 9 tribute

I realise that once I leave this room the Capitol will probably find it and cover it up, or paint over it. But it comforts me that it's there, and any effort they go through to hiding it will just go to show that they are remembering me. I smile and lie back on the bed, at peace now, knowing that I will be remembered.