A/N: I also apologize for the long wait. This chapter started out really short, and I didn't feel comfortable posting something so minuscule close to the end of the story. So I took a break to see if I could come up with something when I came back. No go on that either. Three months later, however, the ending came to me. Just the Epilogue and the alternate ending left now, guys.

So apologies and I hope you enjoy. As always, thank you to my loyal reviewers.

Chapter 18: Reunited

"Seven years, I thought you were dead!"

"What the hell did they do?"

Both men were unsure of what to say. Tristan was shocked by how angry she was. Hadn't she missed him at all? Had he come all this way for nothing? He couldn't fathom her anger. But Liam made an odd noise at the back of his throat and both turned to look at the poor man who looked around the room with a look of despair across his face. "You're mad at me, aren't you, Lyria?" he asked, sounding so much like a kicked puppy that Tristan couldn't help but doubt that this man had once won the Games. "Please don't be mad at me, darling. I'll fix it. I promise I'll fix it and then you can stop being mad and-"

"I'm not mad at you, daddy," Lyria said, her voice gentler than it had been even moments before. Tristan took a peek at her and saw that her expression had softened and her eyes were warm. She crossed the room and wrapped her arms around the much taller man who relaxed at the contact with his daughter, his eyes falling shut. "It's alright. I just need to talk to Tristan alone."

The older man pulled back and looked down at his daughter's face for a moment. With her back to him, Tristan had no idea what he saw there, but whatever it was, the man gave one solemn nod. "Okay." He turned and began to shuffle through the papers to the back door that he and Tristan had been heading for when Lyria had appeared. "I'll put out some juice and toast for when you're finished," he called out to the two of them just as the door swung shut behind him.

Lyria gave a slight smile and a roll of her eyes that quickly faded once she locked eyes with Tristan again. But that small gentle moment with her father gave him hope. There was the Lyria he knew and he could reach her if he just tried hard enough. But right now, she looked at him as if he was a stranger and that burned his insides. "Outside," she ordered angrily, "now."

Tristan, who was starting to work up some righteous anger of his own, couldn't help but give a snarky little bow before turning on heel and heading towards the front door.

The tiny redhead's eyes flashed and narrowed as she watched him go and headed out behind him. Tristan didn't stop at the porch - he jogged right down the stairs and turned to watch as Lyria turned around to close the door behind her; gently, so as not to upset her father. Then she turned back towards Tristan, walking down each step deliberately until she was on ground level, and that's when it started. "What the hell are you doing here?" she demanded, her voice coated with a strong venom.

Tristan was stung by her tone as it dug into his head and chest, and felt the anger rise just a little bit more in defense. "What am I doing here?" Tristan repeated, incredulous. How the hell did she not know? "I'm here looking for you! I should be asking you the same! You shouldn't even be alive."

That came out wrong and Tristan winced inwardly as what he said resonated in his mind.

Lyria's face flushed angrily and he was just waiting for the fallout now. "Sorry if my living upsets you," she ground out venomously, wrapping her arms around herself protectively, "but it's obviously not that much of a problem, considering you're the one that came after me!"

Voices were starting to rise, tempers flared in each and the pain and loneliness Tristan had been forced to endure for the last seven years of his life turned to bitter anger. "Oh, no, it's not you living that upsets me. That's fantastic as far as I'm concerned and I'm so happy you aren't dead that I can't even put it into words." Her eyes were set on him, unfeeling aside from the anger that pulsed just beneath the surface and he was struck with a memory of the arena. Why did she wear that guise, built up like a stone wall? Why didn't she look away from him? Because every moment her blue orbs bore into him, the more he resented her and the more he wanted to take her into his arms and just hold her until he was convinced she was real. "No, what upsets me is the fact that you let me think you were dead!" He was yelling now. "Seven years, I thought you were dead! And you know what? Even knowing that you weren't coming back couldn't ease my longing to see you again. I was in hell!"

Now she looked away, her mouth set and her eyes bright with something Tristan couldn't identify. When she spoke, her tone was just as cold as her gaze that was poised on the ground. She couldn't even look at him. "You should have stayed away," she said quietly.

Tristan was not willing to accept this - not after all he'd done and been through. He'd left his family and friends and life for her, for fuck's sake, and all she could say was that he shouldn't have come? To hell with that! "NO!" he roared all of a sudden, causing her to tense and coil in on herself a bit, but her gaze remained steady on the ground. He attempted to calm himself down, but didn't quite manage it. "If you think for one moment that this is over just because you say so, you're dead wrong, little girl. Do you even realize what you've done to me?"

Lyria's head whipped up to face him, her arms falling to her side as anger reared it's head again. "Hate to break it to you, 7," she spat, her voice wavering with just how angry she was, the moniker she'd used once, so long ago with Ryanne ringing hollow in her ears, "but I haven't been a little girl for a long time." She took a step forward that didn't look quite voluntary. "You haven't been the only one whose suffered."

"Enlighten me then," Tristan snapped.

The girl across from him looked as if she'd never seen him before. And then her eyes closed and the only window he'd had to what she was truly feeling shut with them. "I didn't want you out here. I didn't want 13 to drag you into this mess too. I didn't want you here because..." she broke off, unable to finish whatever she was try to say as she took in a deep, shuddering breath that rocked her entire frame like an earthquake.

Tristan's heart had stopped with a thick, sickening, resounding thump as he waited for her to continue. The anger had waned a little, and he was left in despair. He'd also become acutely aware of how close Lyria sounded to crying, and he wasn't sure he could handle something like that. "I didn't want you out here." She hadn't wanted him with her. She hadn't missed him like he'd missed her. There was only one thing that could redeem the situation and he clutched to it, following after it like a man immersed in the dark follows the single ray of light. "Because why?" he asked, his voice pleading with her.

The tiny girl didn't realize the power she held with her words. Every second she didn't answer was a second where he felt his world was falling down around him. "Please... don't," she whispered.

Don't what? Everything was breaking down and he couldn't understand why. Don't what? What did she not want him to do? And as unnerving as her eyes were, it was worse when they were hidden. "Lyria," he said, voice staying as steady as he could manage. "Look at me." For a second, it didn't look like she was going to listen, but then, slowly, she lifted her head and opened one eye. He shook his head, feeling pathetic. "Why don't you want me here?"

A tear ran down the side of her face. "I didn't want to torture you anymore. I didn't want to be the reason for your pain."

Lyria looked away from him again, swiping at her eyes and willing the tears to stop. She didn't know how he could even bear to look at her anymore, after all she'd done. He'd nearly gotten killed for her, and no matter what she did, she never stopped hurting him - not alive and not dead. She rubbed at her eyes with the heels of her palms, desperately trying to quell the tears, but they kept streaming. In trying to stop them, she made herself that much more hysterical and she emitted the first of her sobs; a sound that didn't seem suitable, coming from an 18 year old woman.

Because of her tears, the young woman could not see Tristan. She couldn't see the disbelief on his face or his pain at the sight of her crying. And she couldn't see the relief that was starting to overtake him.

She thought she was the cause of his pain. God, she was, but not in the way she thought. It was her absence; the pain of losing her. If only she knew how many times he'd woken up in a feral panic, having dreamed of her death again. If only she knew the guilt he'd felt, coming out alive instead of her. If only she knew just how much affect she had on him.

Tristan's heart beat faster now, thumping rhythmically against his sternum, in his jugular, in his head, drowning out his thoughts with it's sound. He felt like laughing, crying and screaming. But before he could do anything - anything at all - he had to know something else. So without giving any sort of indicator as to what he was thinking or feeling, he asked, "Is that the only reason? That you didn't want me here? Or is there something else?"

Lyria looked up at him with red eyes and tear tracks trailing down each cheek. "Isn't that reason enough?"

The man took a deep breath and plucked up all the nerve and courage he'd ever possessed in his life. His next question would decide everything. He walked forward until he was directly in front of her. He half expected her to step away from him, but she didn't. She simply bowed her head forward and continued to cry. Tristan cupped her chin and gently lifted it until her red rimmed sea-jewel eyes were focused on him. "Lyria..." he breathed, scared out of his mind as he searched her eyes for the answer of a question he had yet to ask her. "Do you love me?"

Tears streamed out of her eyes anew and he unthinkingly brought his other hand to brush back the tear with his thumb. The girl bit her lip and finally said, "I don't know. I did. It's been so long... and, we're not the same anymore." Lyria stepped away from him, and he managed to stay put, despite the force of hope that drew him to her.

I did.

God, those two words were the most crushing and the most encouraging he'd ever heard. She had loved him, at one time, but she wasn't so sure about her feelings anymore. That meant that she still could. But saying they weren't the same anymore... he thought that this fight, right here, proved that they were. After all this time, Lyria had never figured out exactly what his motivation was or why he did the things he did, and he was never quite sure himself. And she still managed to drive him completely up the wall.

"Lyria," he tried again, stepping forward to place his hand on her cheek again. This time, she didn't avert her eyes and they burned into his like the hottest fire. "Maybe you're right," he admitted. "Maybe we're not the same people we were in the arena. We're both older and we've had different experiences since then. But when you asked me to stay with you in the arena and I said I wouldn't dream of leaving, I meant it."

Lyria sniffled a little bit and gave a watery chuckle. "I can't believe you remember that."

Tristan cracked half a smile. "That's the only part of our Hunger Games that they ever replay." His small crack at humor made her giggle a little, which lightened his heart. Tristan moved a little closer, stooping a little to look her in the eyes. "But even if we are different now, I think I would still very much like to get to know the girl who once confounded me in the arena, and, I'm hoping that you would like to get to know me again, too. Because I've really missed you."

Lyria nodded, her golden-red curls bouncing on her shoulders, reminding him of a little girl from long ago. A girl who he protected, a girl who left him supplies, a girl who left him to the whims of a psychotic tribute, and a girl who saved him. A little girl who died in the arena, her ashes giving life to the woman before him. "I think I'd like that," she conceded, her smile bright enough to rival the sun.

~Sacrificed With Love~

Riven watched the screen that housed his competitor avidly, unable to look away as she narrowly danced away from the blade that cleaved through the air, aiming for her and nothing else. She was lithe and deadly but he was forceful and more than a match. Was this really the same kid who'd looked at her pitying on the train? Aiden had lost himself in this game. What scared Riven was the idea that maybe Lyria had too. The way she looked was hardly human any longer and she had a rawness in her eyes that practically sang her pain.

Another screen, not inches away from the one he stared at so intently, housed his tribute's protector, caught up in his own death match. Tristan and the boy from four; no weapons, just bodies, strength and wits. Tristan was captured in some sort of choke-hold, which easily could have ended the match, if the boy from four knew anything about breaking a neck. But obviously he didn't, because I well placed elbow freed Tristan from his grasp.

Riven's eyes flickered back to his own tribute. The side of her coat had been ripped open by Marris in their previous fight, and he could see that the force of Aiden's blows against her left knife had reopened the wound. It didn't look like she even noticed.

Lyria fell to the floor, narrowly missing the blade that chased after her. She was back on her feet a moment later, quicker than he could raise his blade again, and she went for the neck. Just a second too late, and he brought his sword up to block her, and she was forced to jump away from him again, losing her split second advantage.

The next portion of their fight was like something out of a Captiol motion picture. It was very precise - close calls, but no hits - and it almost looked as if everything that went on was choreographed, and it went by fast. Aiden swung down low, going for her legs, but she jumped, swinging out with her left blade for his shoulder, narrowly missing as she touched back down. Before she could really regain her footing, he was lunging at her, aiming to put a hole through her, but she managed to deflect. Frustrated that he hadn't been able to make a sword sized hole in her, he brought the sword over his head and tried to bring it down on her. By now, though, she was surefooted and was able to dodge as if it were child's play. However, the sword was heavy, and he needed a moment to reign himself in after the wild show of power - something she took full advantage of. She darted forward, like a snake striking at their prey, and aimed to slash him in the face, which would be pretty debilitating. But Aiden saw her, and managed to backhand her before she got the blade anywhere near his face. This obviously disoriented Lyria, but she got a good shot at his nose with the butt of her dagger before she flitted off once more.

Riven's heart hammered in his chest, almost painful. She brought a hand up to cradle her sore face, and Aiden took advantage of it. He sliced upwards, and for a moment, Riven was certain it was over; that his tribute had just been skewered. But just a half step back and she was able to avoid the worst of the damage. A thin line of red ran up her torso, shallow. Lyria still had a chance.

The mentor's heart sunk in his chest as she pulled her attention away from the fight. "No, Lyria! Stop! Look up!" Too late - Aiden was bringing his sword down, aiming to cut her in half. Riven's heart stopped mid-beat as he waited for the death of his tribute.

The blood, the sight of her falling to the ground, never came.

Lyria had swung out of the way of the blade, and now glared at Aiden with a certain animal quality. Anger bloomed in those beautiful eyes and Riven saw the girl who the nation was rooting for return with a vengeance. In the blink of the eye, she'd moved, trying to land a cut on Aiden's thigh. He aimed a kick at her, as if trying to shoo a small animal away from him, but she dodged easily and weaved away from him, lighter on her feet than before.

Their fight resumed with vigor. Each heart stopping move was elegant as it was frightening. Both aimed to kill, but they were too equally matched. It seemed like hours and like seconds, as the time ticked by. She'd gotten a good swipe at his face somewhere in there; Riven highly doubted the pain that was radiating from underneath his eye was allowing him to see too clearly. They were getting tired, but neither would let up. A quick glance around the room saw all the mentors who remained leaning in and watching their fight, with the exception of the mentor from 4 - Mags looked pretty serene as she watched Jansen's fight - and the mentor from 7, Caspar, who was watching Tristan like a hawk, though he appeared to be paying no attention at all as he sipped on something and lounged about on the Capitol couch.

Riven returned his attention to the fights at hand. Lyria had just dodged another attempted killing blow by Aiden, though, at this very moment, it wasn't their fight that he was apt to focus on. Riven's attention was pulled to the other screen, where Tristan and Jansen were still going at it as well.

Mags, even at the age of 56, must have been a pretty good coach, because Jansen was keeping his own pretty well, but it was Tristan that Riven paid closest attention too. This kid must have been in his fair share of fights back home, was all that Riven could think, because everything Jansen threw at him, Tristan was able to avoid or get out of, almost seamlessly. It was almost artistic.

Jansen, in a ready stance, sized up Tristan with his hardened eyes. Tristan didn't seem to be ready at all, but the tension in his muscles belied his casual stance. In a move that was both calculated, and reckless, Jansen charged across the small stretch of space between them, aiming to tackle Tristan, it seemed. Tristan tensed further, preparing for impact, or so Riven thought. However, when Jansen reached him, he moved out of the way, kicked one of his legs in and hit him hard on the back, effectively knocking him down, his head smashing against the tree that had been directly behind Tristan in the process.

Tristan looked down at his own work with an air of regret, as he stepped around Jansen's prone body. The boy from 4 was making a weak attempt to get up, but it wasn't working. Riven watched as district 7's tribute leaned down over his adversary, grabbed each side of his head, and twisted hard, effectively ending the life of another competitor.

Tristan then stood to his full height, picking up the staff he'd discarded at the beginning of the fight. "Lyria?" he questioned, looking around, to see if she popped up. "Lyria?" he tried again, slowly moving towards where he'd seen her disappear. Having realized she wasn't close enough to hear, he began to jog in that direction, a fitting, "Dammit, Lyria," escaping his lips as he did so. He was bruised and tired - he didn't have the energy to go sprinting after her for a quarter mile.

Riven turned his attention back to his own tribute in time to see Aiden aiming another blow towards her head. Watching, though, he realized that when Aiden brought the long blade down on top of Lyria, who captured the blade between her two knives, the blow hadn't been dealt with all his strength. The mentor watched in horror as his own fears were realized. Aiden let go of the blade with one hand and hit her in the side of the face.

It disoriented her. She stepped back, releasing the sword, and clutched her face in agony. Riven knew she'd never be able to dodge this time. The triumph in Aiden's eyes was absolute. The older boy brought the sword back and lunged forward, going straight for her middle. Riven closed his eyes, unable to watch.

There was a collective gasp around the room, and Riven knew that she was done.

The 19 year old man looked up and watched as Aiden stood over her, his sword sticking out of her stomach grotesquely. A glance at her face found a certain serenity that he wouldn't have expected from her. Riven had always pegged Lyria to fight down to the last second, but, in a way, he knew that this was her way of fighting. She wouldn't let the world see her pain as she died - the regrets she held and the bitterness that was her right. Lyria was fighting to stay herself, even as she bled to death and stared at her murderer. "Why are you looking at me like that?" she asked of him.

Her fellow district 2 tribute seemed at a loss for words. He tried to say something, but nothing came out. Riven was filled with rage at the boy. It was his fault and he couldn't even answer her. "I-I... I've killed you."

"Yes, you have."

Her admission was easy, as if they were talking about the weather, rather than her life. It hurt Riven to hear her complacency, but he hoped it hurt Aiden even more. He wanted nothing but pain towards that bastard. Riven Santana had been raised as a career and cultivated into a decent man. The career in him would always be there, and it was the career part of him that wanted Aiden to suffer.

But her admission didn't hurt the other District 2 tribute. Not in the way Riven desired, anyway. His breathing became labored and unsteady just before a wild sound broke free of him. Whatever brief grasp he'd had on his sanity - on his humanity - was gone. "You-you took everything from me!" the broken boy roared. Aiden reached out and grabbed the sword by the hilt and wrenched it from her tiny form. Blood began to pour faster still from the wound, but Lyria didn't even flinch. Riven winced when he brought it back down, wedging it through her body, and into the ground, if he were any sort of judge. "You took the sympathy, the support, the money! You took my life from me!" Aiden, looking more like a feral animal than a boy, backed away from her body, as if she still posed any danger.

"Yes," Lyria acknowledged wisely, accepting the role he cast her in - the villain, the one who ruined his life - though it wasn't her's. "I took your life and now you've taken mine. We're even."

Her voice, her expression or maybe even her mere presence; something about her spooked him further, and he backed away, taking up a defensive visage. "What are you?" he demanded of her, baring his teeth like a wild man. "I've just killed you! HOW CAN YOU BE THIS CALM?"

It was at this moment that Tristan found them. The 17 year old staggered back slightly, the sight hitting him hard. Riven could see it in his face; the disbelief, the agony and the rage that warred to take hold of his features as he tried to sort out what was happening. His gaze bounced back and forth between the two, trying to understand what his eyes were telling him but his heart and head wouldn't believe. Riven wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes, but when Lyria's small voice answer Aiden's demand softly, "I'm just a little girl," Tristan heard it. A sound, not quite human, not quite animal, but something completely otherworldly tore from his throat as he began to run towards the two.

Neither seemed to notice. Lyria was fading and Aiden was too far gone mentally - Lyria, his villain, and her death, were all that mattered to him. He began to ramble incoherently. Tristan neared, bringing his arm back, and throwing the staff/spear he'd been fortunate enough to find at the beginning of the game. "You're no little girl. You're a dangerous creature. You deserve-" Aiden was cut off before he could finish this thought, as the spear lodged itself in his throat.

Riven watched, a sense of satisfaction blooming in his chest as Tristan dealt with Aiden. The tribute from 7 lost himself to his anger as he wrenched the spear from Aiden's neck and stabbed him over and over again. He dragged Aiden behind him, and slammed him into a tree before running him through with the spear a final time, pinning his body to the tree as he slumped over the long rod like a doll. Riven watched as the boy turned his head just enough to lock eyes with his killer and whisper, "I got her." It was this moment when his life force gave out and the life died from his eyes.

Riven was filled with rage. He hadn't suffered enough; not for what he'd done to her. The man who really suffered was Tristan, as he feel to his knees before Aiden's corpse and howled out his sorrows. It was an agonizing sound, painful to hear, and his face was contorted in anger and agony.

They all watched as Riven wretched, the little contents in his stomach emptying onto the grassy floor, and waited for them to pronounce him the winner of the Games. Riven was starting to wonder what they were waiting for when a sound, sweet and magical, filled the room. "Tristan," her amplified voice rang out, calling to him like a spirit. The victor's head whipped up at the sound. "Tristan," she sounded again, her voice frailer, "where have you gone?"

Tristan scrambled to get to her, half walking, half crawling. He reached out, seemingly not even realizing he was doing it, and pulled the sword from her stomach, flinging it far away. Lyria's tiny, pale hand reach out for him, and he accepted it, taking it in both of his and kissing it. He comforted her and apologized. Riven suddenly felt he shouldn't be watching this - it seemed very personal and he felt as if he were intruding. The dark haired man turned his face away from the screens, finally letting himself succumb to the sorrow of the loss of his tribute. Lyria would be dead in a matter of moments. The other mentors seemed to feel much the same as he did, as some began to exit from the viewing room and others began to chat among themselves, some quietly congratulating Caspar on the win of his tribute.

Riven looked at the mentor as he accepted their congratulations, and found that he was still looking at the screens intently, no relief present in his features. Rather, the young mentor from 7 looked saddened, as if he'd just lost his own tribute. Perhaps feeling Riven's eyes on him, the other mentor tore his eyes from the screen to look at him. A look of understanding passed between the two, and Caspar inclined his head in Riven's direction, respectfully. Riven returned the gesture and turned his gaze towards the floor, waiting for the sound of the canon.

They didn't disappoint. "The winner is District 7 male tribute, Tristan Whitlock!"

Riven was reminded of a time when it had been his name they were calling in a victory cry. But before he could look at the screen to see the emotional devastation that no doubt colored this year's tribute, a hand on his shoulder. He looked up to find a sorrowful Lecks staring at the screen, a single tear trailing down his cheek. "Come with me," his gruff voice ordered.

In no state to ask why or resist, Riven simply stood and followed after the elderly man. The viewing room was hosted in a different building than the training center and tribute's quarters were, allowing sponsors to come view their favorite tributes as well. Lecks led him to the elevator and brought him down to the ground floor. But instead of hailing some sort of vehicle to take them back to the training center, they began to walk. "I think we could both use a bit of fresh air," he said, answering Riven's unasked question, his voice heavy with emotion.

Riven didn't think walking would help, but being independent of the Capitol for just a moment - walking, instead of speeding around in their stupid cars - did help, even if just a little. He was still angry and upset by the time they reached the training center almost an hour later, but he could control himself again.

Lecks surprised him when he led him past the elevator, however, and towards the stairs. They were only on the second floor; hardly any sort of trek. Riven followed obediently though, trusting the wisdom of the older man and still not in much of a mood to question him. However, when they walked right past the second floor, and continued on up, Riven started to get curious. Where exactly were they going? Riven was content to let it slide until they reached the 10th floor. "Where are we going?" he finally asked, now feeling quite out of breath.

Lecks looked back at him, his eyes enigmatic, a slight smile gracing his elderly face. "You will see."

When they reach the 12th floor, Lecks suddenly turns and knocks on the door. Riven was shocked. What were they doing here in the District 12 quarters? What could they possibly want here? A moment later, the door swings open and bright, grey eyes take both of them from under a mop of dark curly hair. Riven recognizes the man as the victor from the former year, Haymitch Abernathy, though he seems to have taken a bit of a nosedive since his victory. "What took ya?" he grumbled, swinging the door open wider to allow them entrance. Lecks immediately takes the initiative and entered the apartment.

"Thank you for your help, Haymitch," Lecks said to the rude young man who was already trailing around the Capitol quarters, paying neither of them any mind. "I've already sent notice for one of my servants back in 2 to send you some of our finest wine."

Haymitch waved them off, going to slump on the couch, looking tired and run ragged. Riven was more confused than ever. Haymitch was helping them? How? And why was Lecks sending him wine? But, right now didn't seem to be the time to ask questions. Lecks was heading towards another set of stairs, and he clearly expected Riven to follow. Haymitch turned to the younger of the 2 mentors and gave him a lazy salute before falling over sideways on the couch. Riven had heard that victors often fell to drinking to relieve the pain from the arena, but Haymitch just seemed so young to be drinking his life away, but then, he hadn't been raised to cope with the things he'd done like Riven had.

Riven followed Lecks up a set of stairs, realizing they were headed towards the roof. He couldn't take the questions anymore. "What are we doing?" he demanded of the older man, grabbing onto his jacket and stopping him just before they reached the door that would lead them to the roof. "Where are you taking me."

The elderly victor turned to Riven with a heavy sigh, his old eyes tired and sad. "I'm finally doing the right thing, and I'm going to need you to trust that."

Riven didn't know why, but he didn't have it in him to question Lecks further. He looked tired and sad and worn down past the point any man can take, so he released his hold on his jacket and nodded. Lecks gave a slight smile before opening the door and leading him out onto the roof. The wind was beating wildly - almost hard enough to completely drown out the sound of the hovercraft waiting a mere twenty feet away. Riven is astounded when Lecks starts walking towards it, and he follows dumbly. When they're right underneath it, a ladder drops down. "You first," Lecks insists, the small smile from earlier returning with a little more power.

Riven, remembering what Lecks had said just moments before, nodded, and reached out to grab the ladder with one hand. It begins to lift him towards the hovercraft. Once he's up inside, he's aware of a steady beeping sound and a whooshing noise that makes him turn around.

There, strapped to a gurney, with a tube sticking out of her mouth and monitors going steady, monitoring her heart, is Lyria.

Riven is overjoyed to see her, and looking around, he recognizes that though this hovercraft is very similar to the ones flown by the Capitol, it is also different, and the people within were plain, strong, average people - a far cry from the Capitol pilots. He turns back around, too overwhelmed by everything, but the space where he expects to see Lecks, smiling his knowing smile, is empty. Riven looked down to where the ladder was raising the rest of the way to see that Lecks was still on the ground, and was getting farther and farther away. Riven can still see his smile as he waves them off.

Riven can't believe it. He planned this. "Stop!" he orders the captain, still staring down at the elderly man. They don't even slow. "We can't leave without him!"

A hand on his shoulder and a crystalline voice silence him. "It's what he wanted."

Riven doesn't understand that. He said he was finally going to do the right thing. The right thing would to be to come with them and finally take care of Lyria like he should have been from the beginning. That selfish old bastard was leaving Riven with a girl who he had no idea how to take care of, and he hated him for it. Riven wanted to yell all sorts of obscenities, but before he could, the main door that led up to the roof banged open and men in white suits began to flood onto the rooftop. Lecks was still looking up at them, a serene expression on his face when the Peacekeeper fired. Riven saw it when the bullet went through his head.

Lecks fell forward onto the ground and Riven realized that he'd sacrificed himself so they could get away. The main doorway, and no doubt, the one in 12's penthouse, were monitored. Haymitch was a sneaky bastard - probably disarmed it so they could get up to the roof from his quarters - but they still needed some sort of scapegoat to have a clean getaway.

Riven let his eyes slide shut as he mourned the older gentleman, but stood and made his way over to where Lyria was fast asleep on the gurney. He could see where they'd patched up her arm. Riven took her tiny hand in his. "I guess you just have that effect," he said quietly.

Lyria was finally safe and sound. The Capitol had their sacrifice and things could finally fall to silence, if only fate would let them.

A/N: I don't have much to say for this chapter.

Please, review. Tell me what your favorite scene has been so far. Whose your favorite character? Your least favorite? Do you like Tristan/Lyria? Are you excited for the epilogue? Let me know!

Happy Hunger Games~

Madly Yours,