A/N: Johanna Mason: Mila Kunis- She's got the look, attitude, and confidence for it.
I can't bring myself to leave this girl here. No one should be left where they've fallen. The most honorable thing I can think to do for her is to put her on her back in the water. I fold her hands together on her chest. Then I use the blood she used to paint my face to paint hers. I paint a rose on her left cheek, and the number 6 on her right. It's all I can think to do. I go back to the beach, and Katniss starts walking towards Finnick. "Wait," I tell her, but I don't need to say anything else. She comes back to me and stands by my side, sliding her hand into mine. We stand together as we watch the girl's body being lifted into the hovercraft, then watch it fly away.
"That was nice," she tells me. "The way you soothed her when she was dying."
"It's the same thing you did for Rue. I just can't sing the way you can."
The moment is interrupted by a thud, and monkey blood splattering across our legs. "Thought you might want these," Finnick says to Katniss. She scoops up water to wash off her legs, and I do the same. While she does, she tells him, "You mean to tell me you went back into that death trap for…the hell of it?"
"There aren't as many now," he starts to say. Then she thanks him.
After some time, the three of us are scratching like crazy from the scabbed over blisters caused by the fog. "Get my back," I say to Finnick. He does, then turns around and says, "Get mine." This goes back and forth a couple of times until Katniss catches us. "Don't scratch. You'll only bring infection. Think it's safe to try the water again?" This is what I mean, about always knowing exactly what to do.
"Yeah," Finnick says, thinking she means swimming. But then I add, "But we should try to get some drinking water first," they both look at each other then follow me to the tree I was tapping earlier. We all look around constantly, paranoid that we'll run into another death trap.
It doesn't take us very long to quench our thirst and fill some shells with drinking water, and it's a good thing too, because I don't know about them, but I've been tired since I hit that force field. It seems like an eternity ago.
Finnick ends up taking first watch. Katniss and I lie on the sand and as soon as I close my eyes, I'm sleeping.
I have a nightmare. Only this time, it isn't flashbacks:
Katniss and I watch as Finnick dies, from drowning. Go figure. Then after mourning his loss, we're ready to pursue the rest of the tributes, only, we don't find any.
In the sky that night, the faces of the remaining tributes flash, and we do the math. There are two left, and then we realize that the reason we couldn't find any more was because we were the last two. Only one of us can go home, and we both know this. I want her to go, and she wants me to go. I know that she will be unable to kill me. There's no way I'd ever be able to kill her. So we just stand there, looking at each other.
Snow told Katniss when he went to her house that Seneca should have blown us both to bits when Katniss suggested the berries, so there's no way that trick will work a second time. No, either she kills me, or I kill her, or she kills herself, or I kill myself. That's the only way one of us will leave. So I resolve to kill myself, but as soon as I position the knife, she puts an arrow in front of her throat. We're stuck at a standstill.
I wake up, panting and sweating. "You okay there?" Finnick asks me.
"Yeah, just a nightmare,"
"Worse. How long has it been?"
"Only about an hour. You can go back to sleep, it's fine. I'll wake one of you when I get tired."
"Thank you." I tell him. I'm almost afraid to go to sleep, thinking the dream might pick up where it left off and end horribly. But my body is so tired that I don't have an option. I'm out like a light again.
My dream now is much more peaceful:
Last year, when I was lying on the riverbank, one of the reasons I knew Katniss was okay was because a mocking jay had picked up her voice when she was singing. I later found out she was singing a lullaby to Rue, the meadow song. That mocking jay repeated the song to me in her voice. And I hear it again now.
"Deep in the meadow, under the willow. A bed of grass, a soft green pillow. Lay down your head, and close your eyes, and when again they open, the sun will rise. Here it's safe, here it's warm, here the Peeta, Peeta, wake up."
Wait, that's not right. "Peeta, wake up." I'm half asleep still, but I realize now it was a dream. I open my eyes, and Katniss and Finnick are inches from my face, staring at me. Needless to say, I sit straight up, scared half to death. They fall back and laugh. "Well I'm glad I gave you guys a laugh, it wasn't very funny for me," But I have to admit I'm laughing as well.
Haymitch sends us some bread. Or actually, maybe Finnick's mentor does, because the bread is from 4. "Haymitch still hasn't sent us anything huh?" I ask. Katniss shakes her head. "Actually, that reminds me." She says, showing me a greenish looking scab on her leg. "What" I ask. She holds up a tube of something. "Ointment," she says, "For our skin. Haymitch sent it to us while you were sleeping."
"Lovely. Now we can look like Frankenstein." I say.
"And Bride of Frankenstein," Finnick adds until Katniss scowls at him.
"What? Like it's some secret?" He asks her, but she ignores him.
We eat shellfish that Finnick caught, and the bread that was sent to us. We chat about nothing in particular, I think maybe we're all just trying to avoid thinking about things. Finnick tells us that in District 4, it's mandatory to learn to swim by age 4. "Wish I could teach you." He tells me. "But, obviously, I can't." He adds.
Katniss stops chewing.
"Why not?" she asks. He gives her a look as if to say, "Really?" She shakes her head.
"Not…later. I mean right now. The water is right there. We aren't rested enough to leave yet, anyway."
Finnick seems to consider this for a moment. "Actually, that'd probably be really smart, why don't we…" But he doesn't get to finish his thought, as a huge tidal wave swallows up a large stretch of beach across from us.
We watch and listen. We hear screams, and that means a death. But we're not listening for dying tributes, we're listening for danger. Finnick watches the water carefully. "It won't come over here." We turn our attention to him. "How do you know?"
"The water is in the same place it was. The tide, I mean. It would have receded if we were going to get a tidal wave here. We're okay." That makes sense. I'm glad we have Finnick on our team. We can breathe easier, at least for right now. Then the water washes up further on the beach, and laps at our feet. "It's still okay. If the water pulls back more than usual, then we have a problem," Finnick reassures us.
We quietly take cover in a bush back in the jungle when we see three figures coming our way. They're in bad shape, still, it could be a trick.
"Johanna!" Finnick cries out. He jumps out of the bushes and runs to meet her and the two she's with. "Is he crazy?" I ask Katniss.
"I've asked myself that a few times. I haven't decided yet. What now?"
"We can't really leave Finnick," I add. Maybe Finnick had some pre-arranged alliance with Johanna and the other two that I didn't know about, the way he had one with me that Katniss didn't know about. I don't know why, but I trust Finnick.
"Guess not," she says, grouchily. "Come on then." I know she doesn't want any more allies. She'd have a hard enough time killing Finnick if she had to. No one wants to know the people they are going to be killing eventually anymore than they have to.
"She's got Wiress and Beetee," she tells me. I remember that those two are "Nuts" and "Volts." The tributes from 3 she originally wanted to ally with. Why would Johanna have them?
"Nuts and Volts? I've got to hear how this happened," I say.
"I'm sorry, Johanna," Finnick tells her. I didn't catch why. Katniss sees my confused face. "It rained blood on them for some reason, Blight couldn't see and he hit the force field."
"Ouch," I reply, remembering by experience.
"He left me alone with these two," Johanna says, nudging Beetee. "He got a knife in the back at the Cornucopia."
Beetee is lying on the ground. He's alive, and must have been for awhile, but he probably won't stay that way for too long unless someone fixes him up.
Johanna says something about Wiress while I'm watching Beetee, and then Wiress says, "Tick, tock, tick tock."
What does that mean?
"Yeah, we know, tick tock, tick tock," Johanna says, and it's clear by the way she says it, that she's been hearing it for a long time. Wiress must want us to know something. She isn't all there, probably an affect of her Games. But if she keeps saying it, there's a reason, and no one knows what it is yet, or no one is listening.
Johanna pushes her and that sets off Katniss. "Lay off her!" She orders. Johanna walks up to Katniss, and the two girls stand firmly planted, staring at each other. They both tense. "Lay off her?" Johanna says, hitting Katniss. She doesn't respond. "Who do you think got them out of that bleeding jungle for you, you-" she starts to say.
"Okay, whoa, calm down, both of you," Finnick tells them. Johanna is kicking and screaming as Finnick carries her into the water. She's pissed. She's always been a little on edge anyway.
"What did she mean? She got them for me?" She asks me. I don't know.
"I don't know. You did want them originally."
"Yeah I did, originally. But I won't have them long unless we do something." She says, acknowledging Beetee's serious injury.
I lift Beetee up. He's a rather small guy, so he isn't hard to carry. Katniss helps Wiress, and we take them to the little camp we set up.
"Peeta, come hold Beetee up in the water so I can get the jumpsuit off." She asks me. I do what she asks. She takes off his jumpsuit and rinses the blood off his wound to look at it more closely. The blood has his undershorts stuck to his skin too, but she uses a jagged rock she finds to cut them off with ease. He's naked in front of us now, but it doesn't phase her now like it did last year when she almost had to do that for me. As if sensing my question, she looks up at me. "There's been a lot of injuries this year. We had a naked person on our table at least once a week."
Once he's clean, I help her take him back to the camp, out of the water. We lie him on his stomach, and she looks at his cut. "It's not deep, he'll be okay. He just lost a lot of blood. You'll be fine, Beetee." She tells me she'll be right back.
She comes back with some moss. I'm assuming it's to stop the bleeding. She puts it on the wound and wraps it tightly with vines. "I think that's all we can do."
"It's good. You're good with healing stuff." I tell her, and, of course, she denies it.
"No, I got my father's blood. The kind that quickens during a hunt, not an epidemic." She doesn't give me a chance to assure her that she's got both, because she gets up to go check on Wiress.
I sit next to Beetee, who still hasn't come to. Johanna and Finnick are splashing each other in the water. Katniss is helping Wiress wash stuff off. Wiress is much older than Katniss, but acts like a child since her mind is partially gone. Katniss has no idea what Wiress is talking about when she keeps repeating tick, tock, tick, tock, but she doesn't get frustrated the way Johanna did. She reassures Wiress that she is listening. Even if she doesn't understand, she is listening. Though Wiress keeps repeating the same words over and over, she seems calmer about it now.
Once Wiress is washed off, Katniss brings her to the camp, where Johanna and Finnick have just arrived. Johanna stuffs herself, having not eaten for days. Johanna looks at Finnick, then at Katniss. Shit. Here we go again.
"How'd you lose Mags?" She asks. Katniss tells her, and Johanna says, "She was Finnick's mentor, you know."
"No, I didn't."
"She was half his family."
I want to tell Johanna that it's my fault. That Mags did it without us having a chance to stop her. Because I couldn't carry myself. But the two of them have calmed down already, and if I mention it, I'll just get angry looks from Finnick and Katniss.
Katniss asked Johanna what she was doing with Beetee and Wiress, and Johanna told her that Haymitch said they'd be allies if she brought them safely to Katniss. Katniss doesn't tell her this wasn't planned. But she does thank Johanna and tell her that she appreciates it.
"Tick Tock," Wiress repeats. Johanna rolls her eyes. "What the hell is tick tock?"
Katniss is calm when she speaks to Wiress. "Tick tock, time for sleep."
Wiress lays down her head while the lightning storm goes off across the beach somewhere.
Katniss and Johanna bicker back and forth about certain things, like what's happened to get us to this point, and Finnick and I just kind of listen to them and shake our heads at each other, smiling. "Amusing, isn't it?" He says.
"Yeah, but I feel bad for thinking that. Normally it's me she's mad at."
"I know how that is."
"Johanna?" I ask him. He looks down, and it takes him awhile to respond. "No, uh, someone else."
I remember in the training center, what he said to me. "I was going to join you anyway, I just wanted to see your faith in her. Reminds me of someone back home."
I wonder if it's the same one.
Johanna tells her she's going to sleep, and she moves over to Finnick. They pass out immediately.
"It's okay, Peeta. You need rest more than I do. Go to sleep."
"Only a little while. Wake me when you're tired."
I'm not asleep for very long when she shakes me awake. Johanna and Finnick are stirring, having already been woken up. "What? Why?"
"We have to move."
"Why?" Johanna asks again.
"Wiress is a genius." She says.
"What?" Johanna says.
"Tick, tock. Tick, tock, the arena is a clock."
And now it all makes sense.