Chapter 2- "The Interview"
There was no words for the breathlessness I felt. Someone could have knocked me upside the head ten times before I noticed anything besides the screen expanding before me, showing and displaying one of the most brutal things I've ever witnessed.
He loved her.
I love her!
Yet before I could even work over some sort of self-righteous possessiveness the camera turns to her painted-up face and I am forced to watch in bewilderment as she flushed scarlet, ducks her head and tries not to be seen.
What does that mean?
I lean forward, I ignore the penetrating stare of my mother and Rory tugging at my hand, instead I focus on my Catnip. Was she smiling? Were her lips turned up, as if she is pleased or are they turned down in outrage?
I needed to know. It was like a savage craving that needed to be soothed. I felt my heart pick up in anticipation to that answer, but it was never consoled. The camera flickers away before I could see passed the curtain of hair, and there is that boy again. The blonde, stocky kid from the bakery. The town kid. Peeta Mellark.
I was already jealous of him, even before this moment. I was jealous of him ever since I saw him standing on the chariot, looking just as enticing as she had with the flames... and holding her hand.
A hand I've been longing to hold for the passed week. With it's hunting scars, with their dirty fingernails, and expert skill.
"Gale?" Prim's delicate voice murmurs. Inevitably my eyes center on her timid looking face.
She was wedged between her mother, Vick, and Posy on the only coach in our rundown home. Her hands picked at a little break in the seam. "Are you okay?"
I struggled to understand her question. Of course I'm okay.
But I looked to Rory standing at my side, still clutching my hand, and then to my mother who pretended to lean against the back of the couch that sat in front of us. Mrs. Everdeen didn't even glance away from the continuing program on the static-y screen.
"Yeah," I say, but my voice was thick and I cleared my throat. "Course."
Her wide orbs drop away and she looked unsatisfied. She leaned into her mother and rested her head onto the woman's shoulder. In turn Mrs. Everdeen wrapped her arms around her, hugging her tight and I prayed she never let her slip free.
Like Katniss did.
My gut tremors at the thought. I pull Rory closer to my side and rock on the tips of my toes as I watch the rest of the interview. Peeta was the last to go and he blew the others away with his confession. It blew me away for certain, but I clenched my jaw and my moment of weakness was quickly swept under the mask.
Inside I was still in utter turmoil.
I wanted to run from the room, I needed to be alone. This was the second time I saw Katniss throughout the whole week. First being the opening ceremony and now this interview. I was fine watching her twirl and giggle, it was a side I never saw. But it was still my Katniss and I forced myself to watch it through. I've never seen her nervous and it would have been adorable and enduring at the same time, if I didn't know that by tomorrow morning she would be fighting for her life.
Against the boy who confessed his love to her, no less!
I felt a headache coming on. How could Peeta love her?
How couldn't anyone?
But him? He didn't know her, I don't think. This was the first time I've ever seen them together. He was always with that noisy, talkative crowd at school. She was always with me, when I could manage it. At lunch she was with me. Did they have classes together?
They were in the same grade. Was it possible she loved him back? Like the commentator insinuated?
She had been shocked though. I could gather that at least. She didn't expect this as much as anyone else.
But I knew a lie when I saw one.. and Peeta wasn't lying.
The Capitol anthem ends just as I feel my insides coil tight and squirm. Now I knew I couldn't stay any longer. I felt like I would be sick and I turn away from the screen as the seal flashes over it and I run from the room and crash out of the front door before anyone could protest.
The second I'm out a wind sweeps through the night. It fans over my face and I take in grateful gulps. My eyes fall on the throngs of silver stars overhead. I force my feet to move forward and walk out onto the graveled street.
I keep walking, thrusting my hands into my pockets and drawing in deep breaths. Slowly my nerves begin to cool and I don't think my lunch with retch itself across the ground.
Everything was going to work out; though I couldn't lie to myself very convincingly.
She got an eleven for her score, for her archery skill no doubt. She had a chance, I knew she did. She could do it. She promised Prim and no one I knew could ever stand breaking something like that. If anyone could string themself through the Hunger Game then Katniss could.
And now she had baker boy helping her too.. as much as I hated to admit it.
I knew he wasn't lying. He couldn't kill her if he loved her; it was common logic. He had to trying to help her then. Even with that confession he helped her seem less of a impulsive girl and more of a desirably, strong fighter who volunteered to save her little sister.
I sigh, then take in another long breath. This was going to be a long couple of weeks ahead of me. I had a feeling I might be running for the door more then I should.
Instead of lingering on that thought I lull my head back, as to reduce how stiff it felt and I take in the moon hanging over head. It had to be nine at night, the air just chilling and the creatures of night coming out. I walked away from town and deeper into the seam.
If I was heading towards the meadow I might have been tempted to go hunting. Though it would be pointless in the dark, I might of thought it would distract my mind.
Despite the hour I could still hear people out and about. I could hear voices seeping through the thin walls of seam houses, I could hear the people who sleep in the streets shifting around and groaning with hunger, and far off there was a slight buzz of noise from the Justice Building where people who have just finished watching the program are heading off home again.
Tomorrow I will have to watch her in the arena.
I felt my heart sink in dread. I hated to see her now, within the Capitol limits and painted up to be something she is not. I hated watching her interact with people like that interviewer who wore ridiculous amounts of make-up. I hated everything about this damned nation!
I just wanted to take her and run away like I suggested, but she refused.
Why? Because she didn't love me? Because she couldn't leave her baker boy?
I cursed under my breath, and I suddenly heard a commotion to the house on my right.
"You ungrateful, filthy little child! How dare you? How dare you!" the voice screeched, it was female and I heard a responding smack of skin on skin. "Out! Get out of this house this instance, you little thief!"
I hadn't realized I stopped walking until I saw the house's front door open and watched a hunched backed, elderly woman drag another figure out the threshold by the shirt and then throw them inelegantly across the gravel.
"And don't come back until you can replace what you took!" the person continues to scream, stomping back into the house and leaving the person there, shivering on the ground.
I couldn't make out their features from the distance and the night, but as they stumbled to their feet and turned their head towards me, the moonlight flooded their features and I recognized Felina's face easily.
Except she was cradling her jaw and her eyes looked softer then usually, like just earlier this week.
"Hendricks?" I say in surprise, before I could stop myself and her eyes fly to mine in utter horror.
I watch her scramble back two or three steps only to trip over a patch of dried and dead grass and hit the ground again. She groans and then hangs her head. "Go away," she grumbles and then pulls her knees up to hide her face in them.
I take a step forward, raising an eyebrow. She's never looked so defeated before. All the years I've known her, since we were both five and in the same grade, she was hard and always taunting others for being weak. This scene was as foreign as the one I just saw on the television.
I don't move for a minute. I see the house's window fly open and Felina jumps to her feet. "Get going! Get off the lawn and your lazy ass and put yourself to use. You will bring back-"
"I know!" Felina screams above them, her voice cracks and it must have stung her throat pretty bad it was so loud. I even leaned away from her, making a face.
The window is slammed closed and she starts to kick the ground and stomp towards the road. She looks up at me with hard, glaring eyes. "What do you want, Hawthorne?" she sneers.
The girl from two seconds ago is gone. It's the same Felina I've always known.
She stood closer now and I could see the red, almost purple looking mark on the bottom of her face. It blended with her olive complexioned skin, that seemed silver in the moonlight. Her eyes glinted in the night and I felt her anger bristling in the air.
I caught onto it easily, my annoyance at the Capitol and tonight's confession is now being directed at her. "Nothing, just watching the show."
Her cheeks flushed with scarlet now, she is clearly embarrassed. "It's none of your business," she hisses, and then she goes for my throat; theoretical. "Shouldn't you be watching your lover instead? I hear she put up quite the show with that baker boy."
I tense. I should of known I was up against an expert at snide remarks.
"Move." She tries to push by me, but my tingling hands grasp her by the wrist and push her back.
"You have no right to talk about something you don't know," I snarl, uncertain of where it came from, but suddenly angered.
She scoffs, her free hand clawing at mine. "I can say whatever I like, now let me go!"
My fingers tighten suddenly, hard enough to bruise her delicate, tiny wrist. I was at least a head and more, taller then her and she couldn't rip free on her own at all. For such a little thing she was full of a lot of spite.
She struggled away from me, twisting around and I realized she was barefoot and shivering. Her feet were bleeding, having been cut on the gravel. I felt pity for her then. I wasn't angry at her, but at the odds and Peeta, and the Capitol. I just wanted to blame her. She was just unlucky to have run into me on my walk.
I let her go, and for the third time tonight she went tumbling to the earth.
She gave a great hmph upon hitting the ground and then skittishly looked back at the house, looking scared that someone might have heard she was still there and was about to chase her off.
Vaguely I wondered what she stole.
I didn't care enough to ask, but I gave her one last glance over the shoulder as I started walking back towards home. Mother would start to worry and I would need to help put the kids to bed soon. Reluctantly, but with my mother in minds I grunted a soft, "Sorry."
Her eyes fly to me, they are hard for a minute, but waver. Then she mumbles something crude about me under her breath and grapples to her feet, brushing off her dirty, patchy clothes.
I turn away fully; uninterested. At least I wasn't thinking about Katniss anymore. She was still there in the back of my mind, but a problem for tomorrow. I felt myself fall into a expressionless mask and I prepared to brace myself for the looks I would receive at home.
Her voice sounded off. "What?" I didn't turn to her, but I stopped walking.
"You wouldn't.. by any chance have some food on you?"
Asking for food in the seam was one of the most common, yet denied thing around these parts. I hardly had enough food to feed my own family and Katniss'. I didn't have 'extra' food on me. I turned to her, almost perplexed as to why she would ask. But when I took her in, arms wrapped around her torso, her face earnest yet still teetering towards a glare, something obvious dawned on me.
She stole food and she couldn't come back home until she could replace what she took.
That meant sleeping in the streets, in the cold, and near other beggars. It meant finding someone kind enough to give her some or finding some job to get the money for it.
And seeing as she just asked me, the person she was just spitting insults at, meant she was desperate.
"I don't," I say simply. I don't now, not on me. In all honesty. But I watch her face crumple, then quickly compose itself.
I barely catch her words, but I think she said something about selfish hunters. I felt a wave of guilt, that I knew I probably shouldn't feel and thankfully, before I could act on it she is streaking away, into a little path between two houses and is gone into the shadows.
I turn on my heels and start walking quickly home, before I could encounter anyone else on my venture out and my anger could be directed at them selfishly. Plus I needed to get home, I've had my time and my mother needed me now. I regretted not staying to walk Mrs. Everdeen and Prim home, and I regretted running out in a whole.
I just hope by tomorrow I could control myself again. Everything just seemed off without my Catnip.
I wince at the name in my mind and then my thoughts to Peeta and her. Maybe she wasn't mine... maybe..
I fought the thoughts. I had time, there was the Games and in the end if she wins, then he won't be in the picture and I'll be able to call her mine again.
I just needed to survive the Game.
A/N: So, if you like this please review and I'll continue. I think I potrayed him right, tell me if I'm a little off! Thanks for reading, sorry for typos, please review! -Taryn(: