So, this is the sequel to 'New Experience'. For this story there are a few things I'd like to say:
1) You do not necessarily need to read 'New Experience' though I highly recommend doing it. It's easier to understand everything that way:D But I'll summarize it at the end of this A/N.
2) This story is rated T for a reason. Please remember this.
3) I know the genre (Romance, Adventure) is already displayed, but actually, this story has more genres: Romance, Adventure, Suspense and Sci-Fi (I will work with mutts) and maybe Hurt/Comfort could be a good genre for this, too.
4) I'm SOO excited!
So, yeah, summary for 'New Experience':
Neither Katniss nor Peeta was entered in the Hunger Games. They got closer to each other though and became...a little more than friends, although Katniss is still uncertain. In the last Chapter, the Hob burned down. This story is set two weeks after...
That's everything you need to know...for now:D
Disclaimer: No, I still don't own the Hunger Games. Wow. I have no idea how often I've said that already.
No, the odds are never really in my favor. Knowing this, I can literally feel that there's a storm about to begin.When I thought those words, I didn't know how right I would be.
A few days after the fire, after the Hob burned down, they announced who had died. They being the peacekeepers. It were, overall, fourty men, ten women and seven children that died in the flames. The Capitol gave everyone a day off so we could mourn the ones we've lost. And mourn, we did.
No matter if for a neighbor, family member, friend, workmate, or just for the sake of civility, everyone in the District attended the memorial ceremony for the victims. Even the peacekeepers. The atmosphere on the funeral was correspondingly gloomy, no one dared to say a word, all that could be heard were sobs and cries of grief and despair. Some people trying to calm others down in a hushed voice.
The day after that, a train arrived. First the people were happy, as happy as one can be after such a tragedy. They thought it was a train with food supplies, something to help them to overcome their loss, maybe make life easier for them, even if only for a few weeks.
But I knew it wasn't. The Capitol doesn't care about the Districts. They don't care if there are fifty seven people that died. Well, they don't care about fifty six of them. About one, they did care. Not about him in person, of course. But about his official position.
Because Cray, the Head Peacekeeper, was among those that died in the fire. And of course, they needed a new one.
And on the train that arrived wasn't the food everyone would have needed, but this new Head Peacekeeper. His name is Romulus Thread. And when I first saw him I immediately knew that he was nothing like Cray. His gaze was as cold as a stone. It couldn't be said that Cray had a warm heart, but it was way better than Thread's appeared, and still appears, to be. He looked the people awaiting him up and down with an expression that gave away how much he cared about them. Not at all.
And my prejudices were confirmed when I saw him yesterday; There was a young woman at his doorstep, on the backside of the house. That was the spot those desperate women that would do anything for a bit food for their family would line up in winter. And it was obvious that this woman, or was she a girl?, was trying to do the same.
Only Thread didn't allow it. He shouted at her, hit her once and told her to go away and never come back, or she wouldn't be bidding for food but for her life.
When I saw his hand made contact with her cheek, when I heard the nasty words he throw at her, all I wanted to do was hit him back and shout at him for what he did.
But of course I didn't. Now that I had seen this I had no doubt he would punish me in a way that was worse than what he did to that girl.
I never thought I would miss the old Cray, the pervert that would always buy those women, or more like their bodies.
But now I can see how much better that was than what is happening now. It's been announced by Thread himself that there are going to be more peacekeepers, because he is not content with the amount of crime that has gone unnoticed or passed unpunished. That, however, is going to stop now.
That is what Prim and my mother have heard from school and patients. I barely do anything anymore, except for hunting and selling it at night in the back of the stores. Now, without the Hob, it's harder to get people to buy my game, because it is an even greater risk now that the head peacekeeper isn't one of our best clients anymore.
It is especially hard because I don't have my hunting partner with me. Without him I can't shoot too big animals, simply because I couldn't carry them. And of course I miss my best friend.
But he seems to be mad at me, still. When I cam to see him after the fire, see if he was OK, I only met Hazelle, who told me he was working and alright. But when I turned around to go away she gave me a compassionate smile and hugged me, telling me she was sorry, that he was indeed at work but would most likely not come to see her anytime soon. Hazelle told her he was just worried and worked harder so they wouldn't starve, but even though that does sound like him, I didn't, and still don't, think that was the only reason.
That's the reason I'm surprised when I hear knocking on the door, followed by a loud "Katniss!" I haven't heard his voice for weeks, but being his hunting partner and best friend, I would recognize it everywhere. And even though I should probably be mad at him for ignoring me all this time, I am at the door, answering it, in a matter of seconds.
An before I even know it I'm pulled in, the door is shut and he's dragging me over to our sofa.
"Gale?," I ask, confused by his sudden movements. We haven't seen each other for weeks, he's been mad at me, and this is how he acts when he comes to my house?
He turns around, probably making sure no one is listening, then, after he's seated next to me, he begins speaking in a hushed voice.
"Katniss, first, before I can say something else, I say I'm sorry. No matter what I'm feeling I shouldn't have ignored you like that. It wasn't fair and I know it. Let's not discuss this now, there are more important things."
Usually, with a declaration like this, I wouldn't let him pass this easily. I wouldn't let him move on to different things after the way he behaved the last few weeks, although I know it was partly my fault. But there's an urgency in his voice, something that tells me that the reason he came here is a serious one, that he can't postpone telling me to another point of time. That I need to know as soon as possible. So I don't stop him.
"Katniss, there have been rumors. In the mines, in the Seam, and well, in the whole District. They say that the new peacekeepers are going to arrive in a matter of days."
That are his urgent news? That is what everyone in the District knows, that is what I've known since Thread declared it in publicity a few days after he arrived here, like I thought earlier. For too much crime, but also because after he had inspected the work of our peacekeepers in secrecy, he made those that didn't do their job the way he wanted them to disappear. Where to, I don't know. The official explantation is that they've been moved to other Districts. But there are rumors that tell a different story everywhere. Told on the quiet, because no one dares to speak his mind. Some say they've been executed. Some say they've been sent to the Capitol to work there as servants. I've known most of them and even though they were peacekeeper and I didn't like them working for the Capitol doesn't mean I have forgotten about the hours in the Hob we spent together. It seems everything about the Hob is memory now.
I'm about to tell Gale all of that when he holds his hand up, motioning me to be quiet, that he hasn't finished.
"I know you probably already knew that. After all, that's something that was allowed to talk about. But what you don't know is that there's something else they're talking about, even if only in the mines where it is too loud for the Capitol to make anything out, if they even have bugs down there. Maybe we aren't important enough to them, but there's always a chance they're listening.
Anyway, I doubt that in this house are any, since they don't know about you hunting. If they did, or if they found any indices, they would punish you. Thread is cruel enough to do that and you know it. I know you've seen him with that woman yesterday.
He does? How? Who's told him? I'm about to ask that when he answers the question.
"I was there, too, you know? I've been trying to figure Thread out since he arrived, since I saw that look of indifference when he saw the staring people that wanted food on the train station. At first I thought he was going to be indifferent all the time, but soon, I think when I saw him inspect the other peacekeepers, I was convinced otherwise. He isn't indifferent, though I now wish he were. He's offensive. He wants to bring us down."
I'm shocked. Why is he telling me now? And here? What if anyone heard him, despite his tries to cover it with the sounds from our kitchen and his hushed voice? I know what would happen, of course. He would be executed, or at least punished in a bad, public way. What he does is judging the government, their choices, their decisions. And that's forbidden.
So why didn't he take me out to the woods to tell me? I know I would have come with him if he had told me with this voice. But he didn't, and now he's endangered himself, me and my family, because we would all be punished if they overheard us.
"Gale!" I hiss. "Lets take this conversation somewhere else, somewhere safe." He knows what I mean with that, but for some reason he shakes his head.
He gets me wondering with that. Why? I mean, we've always been there, despite the risks it brought. To protect our families, we've broken the law back then, too. But this is something else. He doesn't protect them by telling me here. He endangers them by doing so. And I know he would never want anything bad to happen to my family. Other than that, why would he not want to go out there? Every since I've known him he's loved the woods. This acts unlike himself today. It really must be something horrible.
"We can't Katniss. That's the problem. That's what they told me in the mines. It's uncertain when the peacekeepers will arrive, but as soon as they do they're going to switch the power on. In the fence. It'll be electrocuted. Twenty-four-seven.
I think he says the last two sentences to make himself really believe it. And I also think that's better. Because I can't really bring myself to believe that either.
So that's the reason. We could go now and come back, only to find we can't set foot in the District again. Either they'd catch us or we'd be killed by the electricity. Either way we'd die.
I'm in shock. How? Did they know about us escaping the District? But then I remind myself that this is impossible. Not only would I have been warned by now, it's also that they certainly wouldn't waste all this money for two people. No, there must be another reason. But what could that be?
Right after I ask myself that question I realize that that isn't really important. The why doesn't really matter. What does matter is that Thread is going to do it and with that he's going to curtail me off my only source of food. And with that he's going to let my family die.
But no, that can't happen. That mustn't happen. I can't let them starve. No matter what the prize is.
Only now do I notice: I don't know the prize. Before, if that had happened, I could have sold my body like those other desperate women. This is what I think would have happened if I had been older at the time my father died. But at this time there was another option, at this time I was able to learn how to hunt. But now that they're going to take that opportunity away from me, I might have agreed to prostitution if there wasn't anything else.
But now, with Thread and after what happened to that girl…I don't know anything else. Well, I could offer working in the mines, but I don't know if they would let me. I know it would take physical as well as psychical strength, because of my father, but if it's my complacency or my family, I'll always choose my family.
The only problem is that I've never seen a woman work in the mines. And even though I don't know if any woman ever wanted to work there, but with all this need and desperation, I can imagine some thinking along the same lines as I do now. I'm pretty sure they were some.
"What am I supposed to do now?" It's barely above a whisper and it's more a question I ask myself, but Gale answers anyway.
"I've thought of this, too. Obviously the woods won't be there to feed us anymore and…as much as I want to, I can't feed both our families with the money I earn from working in the mines."
I interrupt him. "No! I mean, yes, you can't do that." That sounded stupid, but I know Gale. If nothing else worked, he would do that, regardless of whatever he's saying now. And I won't let him. I can't afford to have him feed us, too. Other than that, I don't want to depend on him.
"And…" He hesitates before continuing. "And I'm sure Mellark would give you what you need…"
I'm about to cut him off to tell him that I won't take anything from Peeta and that I want to leave him out of this. Peeta's had a lot of stress in the last weeks, I haven't seen him since the last day I had a squirrel to trade and I don't want him to worry more than he already does. And he would worry if he knew about this and he would want to help. And I can't let him help. I already owe him too much. Not to mention that Mrs. Mellark would never approve of him doing so. And that he needs the food and the money as well.
However, before I have the ability to say something he continues.
"…You don't need to say it. I know you Katniss. You wouldn't take anything from him or from me, even if that meant your death. So…there's only one thing left to...there's only one thing we can do to prevent you from starving."
He inhales sharply, probably over thinking the words one last time before they're out, before he's unable to take them back.
His strange behavior startles me. What could he possibly think of that would make him act like this? And…what could it be that I haven't thought of? There aren't any jobs in the Districts, and I refuse to let anyone I know give me a job.
Gale knows that, he said so himself. But there's no other solution, is there?
"Katniss, this may surprise you, you may not want this, you may even hate this idea, because that was your reaction the first time I brought it up, but…" He trails off again, leaving me even more confused than I was before.
He's brought something like this up before? When? And in what connection? We can't have talked about something like this before, there was no need to, and I'm pretty sure I would remember that conversation.
"Katniss…do you remember what I once said? The day of a reaping, two years ago? My last reaping?"
I think back to it. His last reaping. Prim's first reaping. I remember worrying about both of them, especially Gale because of the amount of slips with his name on it in the reaping ball. I remember being relieved when it was over. Relieved and sad, as always. I pitied the children that had been reaped and their families. But I also knew that there was not much I could do, so, as always, I concentrated on the joy of having survived yet another year. I also remember celebrating with the Hawthorns after that, remember how I kissed Prim's forehead, remember congratulating Gale, because he hadn't been reaped, because that also meant he would never be. And I remember talking to him.
But I don't remember any words about that, I don't remember anything about me finding something else to feed my family than hunting. That just wasn't a topic back then and why should it have been?
"No, I'm sorry. I don't remember you saying anything about that."
He shakes his head, unbelieving. "You don't remember what I said out in the woods?"
Only when he says those words it dawns on me what he's asking.
Yeah well, do you know?
I know this wasn't fluffy at all, as some of you may have wanted, but there is a reason this is the sequel and not still 'New experience':) Don't worry, there will also be some fluff, but...there wasn't any chance to put it into this chapter:) Now we're finally going to get some action:DD
Please do me a favor and tell me what you think about this beginning:D Please review!