January 6th, 2014

A/N: This is the eighth vignette in this series of snapshots focusing on Gale and Katniss' relationship from various POVs. Haymitch's perspective was inspired at the request of a reviewer. It's a little on the short side, but I've always carried this belief that Haymitch is a sort of to-the-point kind of guy. As always, reviews are greatly appreciated!

For some people, alcohol hides the feelings and the brokenness of those who choose to drown themselves in it. For others, alcohol shamelessly reveals what the world does not usually get a chance to see.

I've known this fact for years since I picked up my first bottle of white liquor and haven't set it down since. Sometimes, it has earned me friends. Most times, it left me with enemies.

The girl before me is somewhere in between.

Friend and enemy that is. Right now, I can see the alcohol tearing down her walls, slouching her tough façade into something wounded and oppressed. Her bleary red-rimmed eyes pooled with misery and defeat.

If only Snow could see her now…

But it doesn't matter. That damned old fool would carry out this Quell with even more vengeance and hatred. He'd parade the Girl on Fire before them all with a constant infusion of alcohol if this is what the foul drink reveals. How horrific for the few who have managed to spread the rebellion.

Their Mockingjay, drowning in a sea of ethanol-fueled emotions.

Not very inspiring.

Not very friend-like, either, to not thank me for sharing, I think, as she staggers to her feet and heads for the door without so much as a word or look in my direction.

I jump up to support her, though she shrugs me away viciously with a sneer. I watch her shuffle along the windy drive. It hurts, I know, to be so broken with no chance of mending, no chance of relief, and for one brief instant, this newborn enemy of the state is one of my closest friends.

The wind whips suddenly through my front door, and I slam it closed.

Her jacket and scarf lie strewn across the entrance floor. The empty bottle in my hand crashes to the hardwood floors.

Damn girl.

The sudden shield of the liquor is not strong enough to hide the ache I feel for that wounded bird. It's only three drives, but she's been known to screw up easier things before. And she's still my responsibility to deliver in one piece.

I'm out the front door, hurrying after her, the forgotten jacket slung over my shoulder. Faster than expected, I catch up to her as she staggers toward the stairs. Experienced drunkard: 1. Rookie drunkee: 0.

There's a shadow in the window that moves out of view quickly, revealed only seconds later by the golden light shining from the home within.

She makes a painful sort of cry, reaching towards him with a desperate grasp. He's there to catch her and haul her to her feet, the way he always did, the way he always will. He says something to her hair, something meant to soothe most likely from the way he strokes the back of her head and pulls her closer to him. She almost disappears behind the solid build of his arms, but her wail of "No!" is audible enough.

Her legs begin to shake and some white relief sloshes to the ground, wasted and gone. He pulls her up into his arms, the bottle falling from her hand in almost a slow motion. It shatters on the tile of the foyer, and only then does he look at me.

I don't have to see that hate in his eyes to know what he thinks of my mentoring methods. This girl – his girl – destroyed by the Capitol, destroyed by me and my association with it.

I wonder if he knows if the districts saw this moment, as I watch it now, how fast the runaway train of a rebellion would travel.

Panem might see this war started because of a boy and a girl.

But what they couldn't see…

What Snow made sure they would never see…

What the alcohol had let me see…

Was how we had been watching the wrong boy.