Ricochet

Chapter 28: The right thing to say

Author: Carla, aka cali-chan
Rating: Most likely PG-13. Nothing worse than what's in the books.
Genre: Adventure/suspense/drama/romance... again, pretty much what's in the books.
Pairings: Peeta/Katniss, Rory/Prim... and probably others. You'll see soon.
Canon/timeline: Same-context AU— this fic still happens in the same world as THG, but the actual events in the books never happened. I'm adding about five years to the characters from the age they were at the beginning of The Hunger Games. Katniss is 21.
Disclaimer: Yeah, just let me go get my transfer laser and switch bodies with Suzanne Collins. Until I find it in the mess that is my room, anything you can recognize belongs to her.

Note: I've never really tried this before (and I'm sure it will eventually come back and bite me in the behind), but each chapter will be from the PoV of a different character. You should be able to tell whose PoV it is fairly easily, though.

Summary: "Primrose Everdeen." This can't be happening, Katniss thought. She desperately pushed through the crowd. I volunteer!, she wanted to scream. I volunteer as tribute! But she couldn't, because she wasn't eligible for the reaping anymore. There was nothing she could do.

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"The road to the future leads us smack into the wall. We simply ricochet off the alternatives that destiny offers." —Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

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Under any other circumstances, Gale might have been appalled that he was being outrun by a girl.

It's not that he thought girls couldn't outrun him: Katniss could pull it off if she set her mind to it— she was lighter than him and very nimble, and used to the rigors of uneven terrain, like in the forest. But Madge Undersee? She seemed to always have a hard time carrying stacks of paper, and the farthest she walked on a daily basis was probably the distance between the Justice Building and her house.

Granted, she'd had an advantage: they'd all been thrown to the ground by another explosion, one apparently closer to them, and it had taken him a second to gather his bearings and get up again. In that single second, she was already off and running toward Town. On top of that, it was hard to run when everybody else was stampeding in the opposite direction; he kept smacking into terrified people and it was only because he was taller than most of them that he hadn't lost sight of her already. She didn't seem to be having the same problem. Guess there was something to be said about running purely on adrenaline.

Again, under any other circumstances, he might've even been impressed. But it was really not the time to be thinking of such things when he had to stop her from stupidly running to her death.

He had just narrowly avoided colliding with a middle-aged woman when he caught sight of someone familiar also coming his way. "Thom! Hey, Thom! Stop her! Don't let her pass!" It was a testament to their friendship that Thom immediately complied without question. Or maybe it was just that Gale's call had startled him so much he stopped out of reflex, and she ran straight into him.

She was struggling against Thom's hold and screaming about how she had to get to her house when Gale reached them. "There's nothing there," Thom insisted, his words failing as Madge was too distraught to heed his words. He addressed Gale instead. "Bristel came across the Cartwright girl, and she told him the first couple of bombs dropped over the square— the entire thing's gone, man," he finished, pale and breathing hard from both agitation and fear.

"I have to go check!" Madge insisted, kicking and pulling, and trying to get out of Thom's hold. Gale was starting to think throwing her over his shoulder might be the only way for them to be able to get the hell out. "My house's basement is a bunker! If my parents got there they might still be alive—!"

It came as no surprise to Gale that the Mayor would have a safety bunker in his house while the rest of the District was left to perish under an air raid. But he didn't have a moment to stew on that when another bomb fell, closer yet, and they were all thrown down to the ground once again.

This time, he wasn't letting her get a head start. "Hey! HEY! Listen!" he exclaimed, getting on his knees and grabbing her by her upper arms, so she would have to hear what he was saying. "If that's true then we can come back and check on them after this is over," he told her, fixing his stern gaze on her. "I'm sure they took cover and they'll be okay, but you won't if you go out there!" he stressed, his hands tightening around her shoulders. "Determination won't save you when a bomb falls on your head, Madge!"

His bluntness seemed to get through to her. Her blue eyes were still liquid as she looked up at him, scared out of her mind, but after a moment she nodded. She was gasping deeply as she attempted to get a grip on her emotions, and Thom helped Gale get her to her feet.

"What can we do, Gale?" Thom asked, looking around at the people all around them, desperate. "Everybody's running, but where are we even going to go? We can't escape. If they really want to kill us, then we're dead already."

"It's Thirteen all over again," Gale muttered under his breath. Knowing that wasn't about to make anyone feel better, so he shook his head. "Look, this isn't just an attack on Town, it's an attack on Twelve. The bombs are dropping closer each time, and sooner or later they'll reach the Seam. We have to get out somehow." He frowned, making a split-second decision. "We get to the Meadow. The power's out— the fence will be off, we can bring it down. We'll head to the forest."

"There's no way we can survive in the forest," Thom countered immediately.

"Well, it's better than burning to death!" Gale barked back. Madge shuddered in his arms. Thom was taken aback, but Gale knew he understood. "You go get Dorit. Bring whatever food you have. Come back around the west border, tell as many people as you can. Tell Bristel to do the same on the east. We meet at the Meadow, and then we'll figure things out from there, okay?" Thom nodded, taking off toward his house to get his pregnant girlfriend to safety.

He pretty much had to drag Madge back to his house. His entire family was already outside, Posy crying in his mother's arms as the rest of them looked up at the now clearly visible flames engulfing Town. The walls of the house were already beginning to crack from the repeated explosions, and it was safer outside than it was inside. Rory and Vick had already packed up as much of the leftover food as they could, knowing they had to leave.

He told his mother to take Posy and Madge and head to the meadow straight away. Rory and Vick each went in different directions of the Seam, to warn people and help them get to the meadow if needed. So did Gale. The explosions had left many houses in dire condition and several people were injured, but some could still make it.

Once, after an explosion, he looked up and a few blocks back, in the direction of the train station, and he saw a huge ball of flames erupt above the rooftops. He knew it had to be the coal warehouses. The bombs had reached the Seam.

When it happened, he had been arguing with an older woman who simply refused to come with him. There was a large gash in her left leg, it was bleeding profusely, and he knew she was right— even if they managed to get out of the district, they'd be out in the forest and her wound was certain to get infected. Without Prim, they had nobody who could heal her, or any of the other injured people. They'd probably just die either way. It would increase everybody else's chances if they just left them behind. But he had to try; it wasn't his decision to make. It was hers, though, and she insisted on staying. He was forced to leave her behind as the explosions started coming too close for comfort.

He still hated himself for it, though.

He didn't think he'd ever felt as relieved as he was when he got to the meadow and saw that his entire family was there, safe and sound. With a few of the men, they managed to bring a whole section of the fence down, Gale grabbing his bow and knife from the usual hiding place inside a tree trunk. They ventured out into the forest in the dark.

Only about 100 people from Town had made it out, and about seven times as many from the Seam. That was only about a tenth of Twelve's full population, he thought painfully, but it was still too large a group to maneuver comfortably through the forest. It took them the whole night to get to the lake. Much like it had been for him a few days ago, it was the best place for them to settle down until they could figure out what to do from then on.

The next morning he led a group of people back to Twelve, to look for survivors. It was just a small group, all men— that way they moved a lot faster. Most of the houses in the Seam were still smoking because they were wood, and the coal warehouses, as well as the entrance to the mines, still sustained live flames.

They didn't find very many people alive. They managed to pull a few people from the rubble, most of them with broken limbs, and probably head injuries. They found one boy, probably a little younger than Vick, who had somehow survived the bombing unscathed and had been scavenging for food among the wreckage since then. All in all, less than a half dozen people, but every single life counted.

Gale insisted on going back to Town to check as well, particularly for Madge's parents. When they got there, her house was in ruins. All the buildings on the perimeter of the Town Square were pretty much blown down to their foundations. The block the Mellarks' bakery had stood on was completely wiped out; he had the feeling that was not a coincidence. Eventually they found the entrance to the Undersees' bunker, but there was nobody there.

When they went back to the lake, he had to tell Madge about her family. She broke down. He felt genuinely bad for her when he saw her fall to pieces in his mother's arms.

The people were getting hungry; children especially, who hadn't slept a wink during the night and had not eaten for the past twelve or so hours. So he rounded up the bow and any other implements he could use, threw the fish lines, and instructed a few men on how to roughly hunt, set up snares, fish, and, with the help of Mr. Everdeen's book that Rory had grabbed from Katniss's house, gather edible plants.

That's what he did for the entirety of that day and the next: hunt relentlessly, only taking few, short-as-possible, breaks. He was dead tired, but it stopped him from thinking about the bombing, so he kept at it. Eventually his exhaustion was so evident that even Bristel's comments about how he looked like he'd been run over by a coal train started to become serious. It took his mother one look at his face for her to push him to get some rest.

He wasn't about to fall asleep in the middle of the day, but stuck with nothing to do until his mother declared him "rested enough," he found himself looking around the clearing, at the people settled around the lake. Children and adults, people of all ages, really. They were all tired, dirty, hungry, hurt, and on top of that feeling down because they lost their home, but they were alive.

Gale had always considered himself a survivor— always looking for a way, any way, to help his family make it through each day since his father died. But after the bombing, they were all survivors. His family, his friends, every single person there. Despite everything, the Capitol couldn't wipe them off the map that easily. They could make it. They would make it. He would make sure of it.

His gaze fell on Madge, who was sitting on a log a few feet closer to the lake than he was. Her legs were pressed together and resting to one side, her hands on her lap— he wondered if that was something that was just ingrained in her, because there was no point to sitting so primly in the middle of a forest. Every once in a while she would rise one of her hands to wipe at her cheeks. She'd basically been crying for two straight days.

He moved to sit beside her on the log. It startled for a moment, but then she quickly wiped her remaining tears off her face, like she didn't want him to see her cry. He pretended he didn't notice. They were silent for a few minutes, both looking off into the lake. He didn't really know what to say to her. He wasn't very good at comforting people, and never in a million years thought he'd ever want to say something comforting to her, but she had helped his family and this time, this one time, he could commiserate. He knew what it was like to lose someone you loved. "You'll start to forget them eventually, you know."

She turned sharply to him, a deep frown marring her features, and he knew right away it was the wrong thing to say. "That is the worst thing you could have—"

"That came out wrong," he corrected himself, aware that he'd sounded like a jerk. "What I mean is... it gets better. Eventually." He wasn't sure if he really meant it; sometimes he would think of his father and still miss him so much. But after so many years, the acute emptiness that had been there in the beginning had mellowed down to a dull ache.

She seemed to understand that in his own way, he was trying to give her some reassurance, and her previous indignation went away. But of course a little compassion wasn't enough to make everything better. She looked down at her hands on her lap and pressed her lips together. "Should it get better?" She shook her head. "It hardly seems fair."

He almost snorted. Of course it wasn't fair. None of this was fair. Life wasn't fair, and maybe it was about time she felt that on her own skin. But that would be callous of him. It wasn't her fault that people died and their loved ones were forced to go on without them. It wasn't her fault that Twelve had been bombed. She was as much a victim as any of them were.

So, should it get better? "It has to," he said with a shrug. "If you want to survive." Because, really, that was the only thing they knew how do: survive.

She nodded despondently and, wiping away a stray tear, went back to watching the lake. He pushed himself off the log, deciding instead to sit on the ground while resting his back against the wood, instead. He was just stretching his legs, watching a few mothers who were washing their toddlers by the edge of the lake near them, when she spoke up again. "I'm sorry. I'm being nothing but a load."

He twisted his head to look up at her. She had shifted her position as well, pulling her knees up so she could rest her forearms on them. She was no longer crying, but her lips were shaking slightly as she spoke. "I know I should be strong like Katniss, and keep going even through the pain, but I just..."

He interrupted her before she could continue that train of thought. "Katniss had to be strong for her sister. You don't have that. It's okay to cry." That, he truly meant. He and Katniss had had a similar experience: after his father died, he couldn't allow himself a moment to grieve because someone had to put food on the table for his mother and his siblings. But many times he had wished he could just stop and cry. He was only thirteen, and he hadn't been ready to lose a parent.

But even though Madge was an adult, no one could ever be ready for something like that. And she was left all alone in the world in one fell swoop. There was only one thing she had left right now, and no one should take that away from her: her right to grieve on her own terms. "And you really should stop comparing yourself to Katniss," he added. "It doesn't work like that."

She said nothing, only sniffled a little, and he wondered whether that made her feel better or worse. Who knew. But eventually she took a deep breath and said: "I think... I need to do something. Make myself useful. I think that would help."

He couldn't blame her: wasn't that what he'd been doing for the past two days? "My mom and some of the other women are working on rationing the food," he suggested. "Some people are also working on a schedule, because we can't feed everybody at the same time. Maybe you can work on that. You're good with schedules, right?" He didn't know what all her job as the Mayor's assistant entailed, but he figured schedules had to be a part of it somehow.

After some thought she nodded, and stood up, patting clean the back of her skirt before stepping over his legs to go talk to his mother. Left on his own, he slid further down against the log until his neck was against the wood, at least as comfortably as it was ever going to get. He crossed his arms and told himself he was only going to rest his eyes for fifteen minutes. He really was very tired.

He slept for three hours.

The next day was the third day they spent in the forest, and morning found Gale instructing the men on how to set up new fish lines. The waterfowl that had been so mellow when he'd been to the lake on his own had apparently decided that eight hundred plus people was a little too much for them, and had chosen to flee rather than stay by the water like, well, sitting ducks. He suspected there was a stream relatively close by they must've flown to, but decided against looking for it. They had mouths to feed and no time to waste exploring.

It was around noon, as he was helping one of the older teens fix up a tear in their fishing net, when it happened. Normally it was hard to distinguish one particular voice when there were so many people in the same place, but this one was loud enough to cut through the natural murmur of the crowd: a female scream. A shrill, terrified scream.

He immediately dropped everything and ran toward the trees, Bristel and a couple other men right at his heels. The scream came again once, twice; he tried to follow the sound until it died down, and he could only go straight in the direction he thought it came from. He ran until some 100 yards in, he came across Madge, as pale as a sheet of paper, backing up so urgently against the trunk of a tree that she might as well be plastered to it. A few steps in front of her was Rory, bludgeoning the carcass of a wild dog so huge it could be confused with a wolf with a thick, hardwood branch.

It didn't take a genius to figure out what had happened: the dog had attacked Madge, and Rory had saved her. But even if the imminent danger was past, the scene was still out of control: Rory had swung the branch to the side, where it smacked hard against another tree, and had switched to viciously kicking the dead animal, like he was unloading all his frustrations on it.

Gale moved quickly. "Hey! Stop that! Rory, that's enough." He grabbed his younger brother around the shoulders and forcibly pulled him away from the animal. "Don't, we can use that for food." They boy still struggled for a few more seconds, but after a heartbeat Gale's words got through to him and he stopped moving. They did need all the food they could get. He was still as tense as a loaded spring, however.

Gale turned to look at the other men, signaling for them to take the dog back so they could cook it. Bristel and another guy picked it up, and the group marched back to the lake. Gale was distracted watching them leave, and Rory took that chance to push himself out of his brother's hold. Before Gale could say anything, he stormed off, passing the other men easily with his angry strides.

With a sigh, Gale ran a hand through his head and then turned toward Madge. "You alright?" he asked her, and she nodded, still reeling. She was wide-eyed, and just beginning to catch her breath. "You need to be careful," he pointed out. The warning came a little bit late, but he thought it was implicit.

She cleared her throat in that demure way of hers— she was probably a little sore from repeatedly screaming at the top of her lungs— and swallowed hard. "I know, I just... I heard something, and I thought someone might be around," she explained feebly.

Something about the way she said that was amusing to him. It was an unexpected feeling, given all they'd been through in the past few days; not very many things were amusing given their circumstances. "It's a forest. There are lots of things around," he said, his tone slightly teasing. "So I guess your decision not to be a load lasted about a day, huh?" he added, the corners of his mouth curling into a small smirk.

He saw her cringe, and wondered if, just like the day before, he had said the wrong thing again. "Sorry. I'll stick to the lake from now on," she said, sounding a bit defeated. She wrapped her arms around her torso and made to go back in the same direction the others had taken.

He caught hold of her elbow before she could leave. "Hey, I was kidding," he assured her, his tone light. When she turned back toward him, he let go of her arm and went to pick up the branch Rory had discarded. It was sturdy; maybe they could use it for something. "You're not a load," he continued speaking. "You've never had to deal with this stuff, and no one blames you for not knowing what to do."

"You used to blame me."

Her response was a barely-there mutter and when he looked at her again, the branch held under his arm, she was looking down at the ground. He took a moment to study her, from her golden hair, all messed up from when she had pressed herself against the tree trunk, down to her simple shoes which were no longer shiny. She looked so out of place in the middle of the forest, yet she was trying so hard to belong. She was something of a conundrum, this girl.

He shrugged. "Yeah, well, I don't anymore." And he was surprised to realize it was true. He had been wrong about her. All the money in the world couldn't save her family, after all, and that meant all his misplaced resentment toward her had burned down along with Twelve.

She raised her head, her blue eyes looking up straight at him this time, and smiled. "Thanks." As they started walking back toward the lake, she pointed out that he should really try and talk to Rory. "It's not really you he's mad at," she added. He thought he understood what she meant by that.

They split up at the lake and he grudgingly went to look for his disgruntled brother. When that kid wanted to disappear, however, he was damn good at it, especially among so many people. Not counting all the times he had to stop to help someone with something, it took him nearly an hour to catch sight of Rory on the opposite side of the lake, using his pocket knife to sharpen the end of a stick Gale suspected would be used for a snare.

"Hey," Gale said, dropping to sit down beside him. "That's good. We could use more of those." Rory's only response was an uninterested shrug, and for a moment it was like looking into a mirror. Gale let out a sigh of irritation. He is not you, he reminded himself of his mother's advice.

"Listen, Rory..." he began once more. "I just... I want you to know I'm proud of you, okay? You've done good, helping me and the guys get food for everybody." And it was true. Everybody instinctively looked to Gale for guidance when it came to surviving in the forest, because it seemed he was the only one there with any practical experience— but he wasn't.

Rory paused in his carving and frowned, the crinkle in his brow somewhere between surprise and defensiveness. "I can only set up snares," he mumbled, subdued.

"Well, I couldn't have handled everything on my own," Gale admitted, and that was true as well. It had been hard enough just being the head of his family, but now there were so many people here to think of, so many lives suddenly depending on him. He was only just one man; he couldn't do everything. "Even if it's just snares, it helps."

Rory seemed to relax a little, and for a moment Gale thought he'd managed to pull him out of his funk, but then his expression darkened once again. "Yeah. It helps everybody, except the one person I really want to help." He grabbed his knife with renewed vehemence and started hacking at the stick again.

And there it was, Gale thought. Madge was right: it was not about him at all. "If she were here, she'd be proud of you, too," he told his brother, sincerely. He had missed Prim a lot over the past few days. Not just because of all the injured, sick people among the group of survivors either, but just because she could always see the positive side of everything, and they needed that more than ever.

Rory's movements did not still completely, but they became less abrupt. He inhaled deeply. "Yeah, but she's not here," he said, in an exhalation. He was resolutely looking down at his hands. "I just... I don't even know what happened that night," he admitted, worry evident in his voice. Gale knew it was taking a lot for him to say it. "I don't know if she's alive, if she's hurt... Is she even still in the arena? Are the Games still going? It was all so confusing."

Gale hadn't seen it happen, himself, but everybody he had talked to seemed to agree that whatever had happened in the arena that night, it wasn't normal, even for the Games. Other than that, they were all clueless as to what it meant for Prim, or the rest of the tributes. It was bad enough that it prompted the Capitol to bomb Twelve, though, and now that they were all in the middle of nowhere without any means of communication, they were even further in the dark about it.

He shook his head, unable to give his brother any answers. "I don't know what's going on, but all we can do for now is help those we can help and trust that Katniss can get her out," he asserted, because as long as it wasn't confirmed that Prim and Katniss were dead, they could still very well be out there, safe and sound.

Rory paused in his carving and gave him a sideways glance. "Since when did you become such an idealist?" he asked, sounding legitimately incredulous.

Gale felt himself starting to scowl at the implication that he couldn't be optimistic— but that was a stupid thing to get defensive over and would probably get them back where they started. So he let it go, with a shrug. "We just lost our home," he said, his tone grave. "I don't even want to think what it would be like to lose Katniss and Prim, too."

And that was the bottom line: Katniss and Prim were alright. They had to be. Anything else was unthinkable.

Rory swallowed hard, and put aside both stick and knife, like he simply couldn't continue working on it anymore. They remained quiet for a few minutes, both of them ruminating on that last thought. Rory only moved to rub at his eyes with the heels of his hands. It reminded Gale that he wasn't the only one who was tired.

Eventually the boy let out a sigh. "I'm sorry," he started, "about what I said before. I didn't mean it." He meant their argument from the day the Gamemakers' scores were revealed. He wouldn't meet Gale's eyes and his whole posture screamed how contrite he felt about it. "I mean, Peeta's a great guy, but... you're my brother," he finished, in a bashful mumble.

Gale's hand rose to clap his shoulder. Rory looked straight at him for the first time in the entire conversation. "It's okay. I shouldn't have been so hard on you either," Gale conceded. He lightly messed up his brother's hair, like he used to when they were younger— somewhere around the time Rory hit double digits he would always shrug away from the move because he insisted he wasn't a little kid anymore. This time, though, he didn't complain. It was a familiar gesture, reassuring for both of them.

Gale moved to get up. "You really should make that end sharper, though," he said, pointing at the half-finished peg on the ground beside Rory. "So it'll go in deeper. It's supposed to be a stake, not a figurine."

Rory caught on to the attempt at brotherly banter (well, it wasn't entirely banter: the stick did need to be sharpened more), and rolled his eyes. "You just couldn't resist, could you?" he deadpanned, shaking his head in an amused fashion. It was the most comfortable they'd been with each other since the Reaping.

As he continued carving out the stake, Gale meant to go back to the fishing net he'd dropped so abruptly earlier, but found himself stopping dead in his tracks. He could hear a sound almost buzzing in the background; he hadn't noticed it before because of his conversation with Rory.

He immediately went into high guard, but before he could take two steps, Thom ran up to him, so urgently he was almost tripping over other people in his haste, and looking completely aghast. "Gale!" he clamored, almost a wheeze. "They're coming! There's a—" He didn't even get to finish the phrase, as that was the moment a hovercraft flew at high speed right above their heads.

Every single person in the clearing went nuts. And understandably so; the last time they'd been approached by aircraft, they had bombs dropped on their homes. Gale, however, was immediately concerned with taking in all the detail he could gather from that fly-by. Came in from the northeast, just as the one he'd seen when he was by himself a few days ago, and toward Twelve. No deceleration. And more importantly, no Capitol insignia.

He got that feeling again, the idea that something just did not add up. If they intended to finish them off, they'd send planes again, not a hovercraft. There was no way they could capture that many people with just one hovercraft. And the planes had been coming from the direction of the Capitol; this craft wasn't. It had come from the direction of Thirteen. Again. Like the last hovercraft, the one that made him turn around four days ago. The one that first got him thinking that something big was about to happen. And he had been right about that.

Regardless, they pushed everyone to retreat into the trees. If Gale was wrong, it would do no good to stay in the clearing. Sure, they could still bomb them or gas them, but they at least had some cover from bullets, harpoons and nets, and they could not be grabbed by the claw. Because they'd come back eventually, Gale knew. They'd been seen, there was no way they hadn't been. So they'd come back for them. Whether it was to finish them off or... he didn't even know what their other option could be... but either way they'd come back.

And they did. Not ten minutes later, when they'd barely managed to keep the last of the crowd out of sight, the aircraft appeared over the clearing again, and stopped, hovering over them in an ominous fashion. There really was no insignia; he hadn't just missed it. And they hadn't shot at them or attacked them in any way yet. It went against his every instinct, but with each second that passed, Gale grew more and more suspicious that this craft might not be Capitol after all.

It was hard to look up with the wind from the rotors pushing at them, but they all saw when the gull-wing doors opened and a ladder came down. A uniformed person— not a Peacekeeper, but definitely military— made their way down to the clearing. A man. He was carrying a megaphone, and that was the only way they could hear him over the roar of the engines. "Are you all survivors from District Twelve?"

Gale and a few of the men stepped forward, out of the trees. They couldn't answer the question, they wouldn't be heard over all the noise, but they had to take some kind of stand. This was the deciding moment: if they were going to capture them or kill them, it was going to be right then. A knife would be useless at that distance and Gale didn't even have his bow with him. They were putting themselves in direct risk but if these people were busy gunning them down, it might at least give the rest a chance to escape into the forest.

The man seemed to notice their hesitation. "We're not from the Capitol. We mean you no harm," he said, enunciating each word very clearly. Just like that, all of Gale's suspicions were confirmed. He could feel the confusion coming off in waves from the men around him. Those two sentences were enough to pull all the people, previously hiding behind trees and cowering in small clusters, to look at what was happening in the clearing. Hundreds of pairs of eyes focused on just the one person.

Gale knew what he was going to say next. And he still couldn't believe it.

"We extend to all of you an offer of asylum, in the name of President Alma Coin and the citizens of District Thirteen."

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Author's notes!—

First, some actual notes: "Dorit," the name of Thom's girlfriend, comes from Hebrew and means "generation." I thought it was appropriate since she's pregnant and literally about to bring in the next generation. Also, wild dogs are not quite like wolves, they're more likely to roam individually than in packs, especially when coming near people or near inhabited areas.

In other news, this is one of my favorite chapters so far. Which is odd, not only because it's a Gale PoV, but also because it's very rare for me to actually like what I write. But for some reason, I really love this one. Which means I'm really excited to hear what YOU guys think of it! =D Please do let me know. I always appreciate all your comments, questions and speculation as to what's to come, so please leave a review and we'll chat about it! =)

I can't really tell you much about what's coming up in the next chapter without spoiling it for you, but you'll finally know what happened to Prim, among other things. So stay tuned, and see y'all next time!