A/N Here's chapter one. Chapter Two won't be up for a while since I have more to write and am now back at school. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee or the Hunger Games.
Chapter One: Alliances
The next week flashes past in a blur. There are stylists and parades in stupid outfits but Santana barely even notices. It's when they get to training that she's intrigued. Haymitch, her mentor, agrees that she shouldn't show any of her skills until she gets into the arena, not even to Kurt, but she's interested in watching the others and what they will do. She likes to watch people.
It seems that this year alliances have been formed early. There is not one but two Career packs: Districts One and Four in one and District Two and the boy from eight in the other, which is rather unexpected. Santana looks over to the girl for eight to see how she's taking the estrangement from her district partner but the happy blonde doesn't seem to care that he will kill her the second they reach the arena.
Kurt, it appears, is very handy at two things in training, to Santana's surprise: camouflage and knots. He might turn out to be a little less helpless than she had thought.
They have actually barely spoken to each other before now and Santana has defined herself as quite abrasive in the little time they have known each other so it isn't surprising that Kurt looks shocked and a little terrified when she attempts to make conversation with him.
"You're quite good at that," she comments, gesturing to the neat knot in his hand.
He stutters something unintelligible.
She lowers her voice and hisses urgently, "Listen, I've got a plan, okay? We're going to be allies. You are going to stick by my side every second we are in that arena. You got it?"
Kurt appears to be sizing her up, looking for some reason that she would suddenly want to ally herself with him. He has no idea of the level of her sincerity but knows he has nothing to lose since he has been resigned to his death ever since he was forcefully removed from Blaine's arms.
He nods nervously. "Okay," he stammers.
Santana is very tempted to go back on the idea or even to just roll her eyes. What on earth his adoring family see in him she has no clue. For now, all she can see is a weak, gibbering mess. It doesn't matter how handy he is with knots, she thinks, this is going to be even more difficult than I thought.
"Santana," Haymitch, her mostly drunk mentor, corners her seconds before she is due to go for her private training session. "Have you decided what tactics you're playing to yet? You could go far in these Games with that attitude."
Santana shakes her head. "No," she says. "That isn't my goal. It's him that needs to go far."
Haymitch looks surprised. "The Hummel kid, sweetheart? There isn't a chance in hell that he's coming out of there."
"There is if we fight for him," Santana counters. "You have to promise me you'll help me."
When Haymitch doesn't reply she adds, "If you don't you'll be abandoning us both. I'm not going to win, Haymitch. I don't want to. But Kurt Hummel damn well does and he damn well will if I have anything to say about it."
She hopes she's left the hopeless alcoholic with something to think about.
When the scores come in, Santana is pleased. The careers are averaging an 8 or 9 and Kurt manages to scrape a five. Her own result causes a horrified gasp from Effie, a worried look from Kurt and a nod from Haymitch. Santana Lopez, easily the most capable competitor in the Games, has scored a grand total of two.
He manages to stay quiet in public, as usual, but as soon as they are alone Kurt voices his concern.
"Santana," he mutters. "You did that on purpose, right? The training score?"
Santana can't help but smile at him, hell maybe she's starting to like the kid. He's actually quite a nice guy; he has potential, definitely.
Nodding in a way she hopes is reassuring, she replies, "Don't you worry, Porcelain. I've got everything under control."
Kurt seems satisfied with her response and a little less wary than in their previous conversations. Perhaps he's warming to her too.
In terms of her strategy, this is the most dangerous part of the games. She's going to have to act the hell out of this so that the attentive Capitol audience believe her. Kurt better not say something stupid either or she'll have far too much work ahead of her. Yet Santana's turn comes first; she will have to rely on Kurt to pick up the pieces. She is quite honestly terrified to face that crowd knowing that one wrong move will sign Kurt's death warrant, and her own, of course.
Caesar introduces her excitedly; having spoken to her he believes that she is a real contender, despite her training score.
"So, Santana, tell us. Was that training score part of your strategy?"
He's a real idiot if he thinks that she's going to reveal that. Looking up at her judging audience, the Capitol folk who don't know what they do in sending mere children to what is essentially a war, she takes a deep breath. The trembling is authentic, which helps.
"I... I don't know what you mean," she stutters.
To his credit, Caesar takes her change in demeanour in his stride. "Okay then. Have you formed any alliances yet?"
Santana nods timidly. "K-Kurt."
It is difficult for the host to continue seeing her potential when allied with someone as meek as Kurt.
"Have you got a plan?"
She shakes her head in an attempt to look afraid.
Thankfully he decides that delving deeper will get him nowhere. The sympathy vote could get her some sponsors so he tries it out.
"Well, Santana. Tell us about life in District Twelve. What are your friend's names?"
"I don't have any friends..."
"Come now, Santana. An attractive girl like you, do you not have a boyfriend? What about that young man behind the adult line who tried to volunteer?"
Again, Santana shakes her head. "No one's going to miss me," she says. At least that's truthful.
The Capitol audience appears bored with her. They are getting restless. All the usual betters have left and Santana is sure even the tributes will have written her off by now. Caesar gives up.
"Well... May the odds be ever in your favour. Santana Lopez, District Twelve, everyone!"
She isn't entirely sure how believable she has been so she prays for Kurt to be more convincing. Luckily he is. Rolling her eyes, she realises she shouldn't be surprised. Whilst his survival ability is nil, Kurt knows how to convince a crowd. From the second Caesar introduces him the crowd are eating out of his hand.
"So, Kurt," the host begins, this year with hair a shade of red to rival the old fast-food chain mascot Ronald McDonald's. "Have you got a grand plan to survive the arena?"
Santana truly believes in this moment that if necessary Kurt could pretend to be tough or mysterious and confident; something that would get sponsors but lose the element of surprise. Honestly, she's a little worried he will. Yet Kurt Hummel isn't stupid, another thing to add to her list of his strengths, he knows that if he does that she's dead and if she's dead, so is he. So, just as she told him to, he pretends to be terrified.
"No, Caesar," he stutters.
Caesar is a little taken aback; he clearly doesn't expect more genuine fear like this to have made it past Effie.
"Santana tells me you two have formed an alliance. Now, she wouldn't tell me if you've got a plan but I'm sure you have..."
Kurt shakes his head, ""N-No. We're trying to make one n-now, I think..." he stutters far more convincingly.
It is obvious that Caesar is lost for words. Kurt is giving him absolutely nothing he can sell to sponsors. The picture of a timid boy from Twelve, allied with an even more terrible girl who may have got the lowest score in the history of the games is just not appealing to them; they don't even have a plan! Quickly the host changes the subject.
"Have you got anyone at home, Kurt? Parents? Friends? Someone special?"
Kurt nods again. "There's my dad and my stepmum, Carole. I've got a stepbrother, Finn, too."
This part is where he will gain the audience's sympathy, tug at their heartstrings. However, Kurt seems to have fallen into his own trap. His eyes are looking a little watery and that weak boy Santana met seems to be making a reappearance.
"I've got friends at home, too..."
Caesar presses further: he wants to know if Kurt has a girlfriend.
Kurt looks around himself, a little unsure. Obviously he can't out Blaine. Whilst the Capitol may accept it, Blaine would be ostracised in District Twelve with their traditional ways whether Kurt returns or not. He decides to answer Caesar's previous question.
"I... I don't. But I have Blaine, my best friend. He's very special to me."
And the crowd love it. It may not be a tragic love story, or so they think, but there is something equally tragic about separating childhood friends.
Now Kurt has played his part and played it well. Caesar sends him away with another "May the odds be ever in your favour."
By the time Kurt makes it backstage all of the other tributes, mentors and their teams have disappeared except Santana and the rest of their prep team. He actually looks exceptionally calm despite everything.
"Do you think it worked?" Kurt asks quietly.
Santana prays with all her heart that it did; she has given Kurt hope of going home now.
She nods. "Yes. I think so."
However, Kurt does not seem happy. She looks at him, daring him to tell her why.
"I don't want that to be the way Blaine last sees me."
"It won't be," she promises.
Yet Kurt is much more realistic. "It could be," he corrects, "but we hope not."
Once he has walked away, Haymitch approaches her.
"I sure as hell hope you know what you're doing, sweetheart," he hisses. "You either just saved his life or killed him. We'll have to see."
It's the night before they go into the arena and Santana is terrified. She hasn't had a chance to contemplate the certainty of her death before. The 'safety' of the Capitol is suffocating her. She needs to get outside, preferably to some woods though she knows she'll be seeing enough of those soon.
Running along the corridor she finds access to the roof. Leaning against the hatch, she mutters a new mantra to herself firmly.
"I will be dead within two weeks. These are my last days on earth."
Taking a deep breath she pulls open the hatch and makes her way to the roof. Fresh air, stars, it will be almost like home, she reasons.
She is taken aback by the sight that reaches her. Fellow tribute Kurt Hummel is leaning on a rusty railing, crying. Noticing her presence, he quickly wipes his eyes.
Without looking up he asks, "Do you think that's all we'll be after tomorrow?" he asks her.
It takes her a moment to understand what he means before she sees that the railing is covered with tiny etchings of past tributes. The newest of these is just under Kurt's hand and reads 'Kurt Hummel, District Twelve, 71st'
She remains silent, knowing that if she speaks the tears that threaten her will make an appearance. The two unlikely allies stand in silence for a moment until Kurt speaks.
"I don't know what to make of you, Santana. You could have whatever you wanted in these games, I'm sure of it. You forget I knew you back home. You practically lived in the woods. I may be 'delicate' but I'm not stupid. I'll go along with this."
She thinks this is the last of what he feels he has to say until he unexpectedly turns to face her, expression unreadable.
"But we were never friends, Santana," he says harshly. "I just want to know why you're doing this."
Perhaps this is why she is here; overly nosy people bring out her more violent side and that's just what Kurt is being: overly nosy. Can he not just accept her alliance? Then again, she supposes, this is exactly what she would do if she was in his shoes.
"You don't trust me," she says. If anyone had ever gotten to know her, they would know that this was her dangerous tone.
Kurt shakes his head. "I don't have any reason to. Tomorrow we're going to fight to the death." Even this hidden confident Kurt seems worried about that.
"Exactly," she confirms. "You don't trust me. Smart boy. But know this: whatever interests I have, we are allies and that means I won't hurt you."
"Until it is necessary," Kurt calls quietly after her.
She wheels around. "Of course," she lies before storming out of there like the independent fighter she is.