He wasn't sure how he got here. Sitting on a bed on a train heading towards the Capitol as he stared at his hands. After the reaping, things had sort of gone by in a blur. He vaguely remembered walking up on stage, the forced applause for the new tributes, the way Rachel had gripped his hand when he'd felt like he was going to fall over. He remembered being escorted away. He remembered sitting in a room, staring at the wall, until his father had arrived.

His father. He'd been so upset. So angry. He tried to stay calm for Kurt, he'd tried so hard, but he could see it in his eyes. He could feel his throat tightening as he thought of it, as the last conversation he was sure he'd ever have with him ran through his head. His head fell into his hands, his fingers lacing through his hair and gripping it in tufts as he tried to control his breathing.

"I've only got a few minutes with you, but Kurt - Kurt, look at me. Would you look at me? It's going to be okay, Kurt. You're a survivor. You can do this. You're going to come back to me, I know you will."

"You think I can kill twenty-four other teenagers? Dad, I've barely ever even killed a spider."

"Your great-grandfather was a champion. If he can do it, so can you."

"I've never even picked up a weapon, how -"

"Kurt. I need you to survive. I can't lose you, too. Do you hear me?"

He could still feel his father's arms wrapped so protectively around him, holding him close, making him feel safe for only a moment. He was able to believe it would be okay, that he'd win, that he could make him proud. But that confidence was torn away the moment they'd been forced apart. His heart had dropped back into his stomach and all he had as a reminder of the conversation was the object from home that his dad had shoved into his fist before he left; a necklace that had belonged to his mother. A reminder of what they both had lost. Of why his father couldn't stand to lose him as well.

There was a knocking on his door that made him jump from his thoughts. Letting his hands fall, he stared without moving to get up, trying to decide if he even wanted to deal with people at that moment.

"Dinner's going to be ready soon, Kurt," Will's voice said kindly through the door. He was surprised by how gentle he sounded, given how he had just read off two likely death sentences to an entire district. "You should get ready. You looked like you could use a good meal."

He snorted, not feeling the desire to eat in the slightest. He supposed it would be good to keep his strength up, though. "I'll be out soon. I'm just... going to change."

Once he was sure Will was gone, he pulled himself from the bed, going to the closet that held clothes he could only have dreamed of owning back home. He let his hands slide over the soft fabric, smiling some for the first time in what felt like ages, but was really only hours. He pulled off his old and somewhat tattered clothes, enjoying the rather elaborate fashion offered to him at the hands of the Capitol. Maybe he was angry and bitter towards them for what they'd done to him, but he was trying to let those go. Might as well try and spend his last few days alive enjoying the luxuries handed to him.

He ran his hands over the silk shirt as he stared at himself in the mirror. The blue was so dark it was almost black, but every time the light caught it, the color shone through. The dark trousers seemed to fit like a glove. He knew there were jackets in the closet, but he was sure he'd faint if he started to feel any hotter. The train felt like it was on fire, but he was sure it was just his nerves and suppressed emotions attempting to fight to the surface.

Kurt placed his hand over his heart, where the small music note pendant of the necklace ended. He stared at his reflection; he could almost see his mother smiling proudly back at him. He may have been scared out of his mind, but at least he was holding himself together. It was better than he'd expected.

Swallowing roughly, he left the room and headed towards the dining cart.

Rachel was already sitting quietly in her seat, staring at a plate full of untouched food. Her hair was down and freshly brushed, hanging over her shoulders. He could see the bit of red fabric from a nice dress she must have gotten from her closet peaking out just above the table before it was blocked from site. He couldn't help but think the bright color looked nice with her skin tones; he wondered only briefly why she didn't wear bright colors like it more often, until he reminded himself that she probably didn't own any. Working making Peacekeeper uniforms didn't often leave room to steal colorful tones the way it did when you worked for the other fabric companies.

She looked up only when Kurt was sliding into the seat across from her. They exchanged weak smiles before he began to put food onto his own plate. The dishes in front of him were filled with such a variety of delicious smelling concoctions, it was hard to not shovel it all into his mouth straight from the serving spoon. His stomach growled loudly as the smells hit him.

Rachel seemed to be waiting politely. Mr. Schuester still hadn't joined them and he was pretty sure that their mentor was supposed to arrive as well. Noah Puckerman, more commonly referred to as "Puck", had won the tournament when he was only fourteen and had been the last one to come from their district. He wasn't known for being punctual or enjoying schedules so it wasn't a surprise to Kurt that he had yet to arrive. Still, he assumed it would be good to wait for Will, and so he, too, let his fork fall, not starting to eat, despite how desperately he wanted to.

It was Rachel who broke the silence between them first.

"I'm glad, you know," she said finally. "I mean, not that we're both going to be thrown into a life or death situation. But that... if we have to, that we have someone we know with us. Someone familiar. It makes it a little easier, don't you think?" She tried to smile brightly at him, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. Nothing could get rid of the fear and sadness they were both feeling.

"Unless we end up having to kill one another," he said simply, coldly even, shrugging and going to look at his full plate. "That won't be easy at all, I don't think."

She faltered at that, her lips pursing momentarily as she gave a sigh. "Well, we've got a while until we have to worry about it. And it's more likely one of the Career Tributes is going to take us out before we have to worry about it. At least in my case. Maybe you're stronger than you look."

"Not really," he muttered, going to pick up his fork and push some food around his plate. He needed something to distract him. He decided to give up on waiting and began to eat. He was only a few bites in when Will came in, dragging a rather disgruntled looking Puck with him, and sat him down in the seat beside Kurt. He gave the older man a glare, before going to shovel food onto his plate without a word.

That was until he realized both Rachel and Kurt were staring at him, not speaking themselves. "What?"

They quickly went back to their food with muttered apologies and slight blushes. Will sighed as he took a seat at the head of the table, placing his napkin carefully onto his lap. Kurt watched him out of the corner of his eye and couldn't help but notice that he was... different than the other Capitol folk he'd seen. He was pretty sure that his skin was the same color that he'd been born with, his hair was unusually curly and the tips were blonder than they should have been, but outside of that, seemed unaltered. There was no makeup tattooed on his body and Kurt was pretty sure he could even see crows feet at the corner of his eyes.

He'd let himself age naturally. It was strange, but a comforting thing for him. It made him trust the man more, respect him slightly; he seemed just like the rest of them. Only better fed.

On rather delicious food, it seemed. Kurt could hardly keep himself from moaning in pleasure at the taste of some kind of chicken in a creamy, almost buttery tomato sauce. It was filled with delicious spices he had never tasted before but wished he had never lived without. A lamb stew was nearly just as good and he was sure that the hot drinks that he was given were the most delicious things he'd ever tasted. He thought of trying the wine, but decided not to as he watched Rachel take a sip. The way her nose wrinkled and her mouth pinched made him decide it probably wasn't worth it.

"So you guys seen the tributes recap yet?" Puck said through a bite of steak, not bothering to swallow it or cover his mouth. Kurt rolled his eyes at the lack of manners. He was sure he had been raised better.

"Not yet," Rachel said softly, biting at her lip. "We were told we should wait until after dinner was done. The recap will be running all night, I'm sure. We won't miss who our new competitors are."

Puck chuckled, shaking his head some. "Gotta lot of tough people to go up against. There's a girl from second that I'm pretty sure could snap you both in half just by looking at you." He seemed to find this thoroughly amusing as he was still chortling to himself as he took another bite of meat.

"I'm so glad our imminent demise brings you such amusement, Mr. Puckerman," Kurt said... well, curtly. Leaving the last few bites, he pushed his plate away. "If you'll excuse me, I've lost the remainder of my appetite. I think I'll go watch that recap after all."

"Sit down, Kurt," Will said gently. "I want to go over some of basic schedules you're going to be expected to stick to when we reach the Capitol. You'll be on a rather strict set of them and since we'll be arriving there a lot quicker than you expect, we need to be prepared. Your advantages in the arena are going to start from the moment the public sees you." He went to snatch a glass of wine from Puck's hands, placing it down on the table firmly. "All of you need to pay attention."

Pulling out a schedule, he went to hand copies around the table. Kurt sighed softly, leaning back in his chair, and biting his tongue. This was going to be a very long evening.

hr /

Once Mr. Schuester had been sure they had thoroughly gone through every detail of the next few days, Puck had not only gotten through two helpings of meals but just as much dessert with time to spare. It seemed like an eternity before they were told they could go watch the recap of the reaping in the other districts, following quietly after them to see who their competition would be.

The girl from District Two stuck out in Kurt's mind the longest. She was a dark haired girl named Santana who looked exactly as Puck had described her; fierce and strong, certainly ready and trained to kill. He barely noticed the others as they flipped passed, though there was a sweet looking blonde girl from third whose name he'd forgotten, a dark haired boy named Mike from fourth, and a strong looking boy from fifth that made his blood run cold.

His forehead wrinkled when he saw the male tribute from Seven was displayed. He had curly, dark hair that hung softly at his forehead. His arms were strong, his jaw set. But what struck Kurt most was the warmth in his eyes. Despite the situation, there was kindness and optimism there. A gentleness that made his stomach tie in knots and his face flush. Blaine Anderson was possibly one of the most handsome men he'd seen in a long time, if not in all his years, and Kurt couldn't believe that he was going to be thrown into an arena and forced to fight to the death with him.

Just as quickly as he'd come on the screen, it felt, he was gone again, and Kurt felt his stomach twist with a desire to see his face just for one more moment. The TV was shut off once the recap was finished and he frowned gently, closing his eyes for a moment as he tried to recall the details of his face. It left him with that same warmth, the pleasant knots; he shivered softly.

"Are you cold, Kurt? I've got a blanket here, if you want it." Rachel went to try and hand it over to him, pulling him from his daydreams, and he looked over to her in confusion. Finally understanding, he shook his head, shoving the blanket back towards her.

"I'm fine. Just... Nerves. I think I'm going to go to bed, try and get some rest before we're dragged through a day of interview training." He pulled himself from the couch, ignoring the odd looks given by the others in the room. "I'll see you all in the morning. Sleep well."

He stripped quickly from his clothes once he reached the safety of his room, pulling on a pair of pajamas he found in the closet, and crawling into bed. Lying there, staring at the ceiling, he thought of the days that were yet to come. He thought about the girl, Santana, and how intimidating she felt on the screen. He imagined it would be doubled face to face. He thought of the blonde girl who'd looked so confused by everything that was happening around her. He thought of Puck in the arena, how deadly he had been, how quick on his feet - how willing he'd seemed to kill. He wondered if he'd been like that before and no one had known. Or maybe the Games had changed him.

Kurt wondered if they'd change him as well.

But as sleep started to get closer, the violence slowly disappeared. His hand went to touch the necklace around his neck, his eyes closing, darkness getting closer. Before it could overtake him, he could see soft, dark curls and a pair of warm brown eyes staring back at him.

This Blaine boy was a rather nice image to fall asleep to.