Touching Terror


He can hear her crying. He knows why. He can hear the loud, breathless sobs as she weeps into her pillow, curled into the fetal position around Finnick's arm. He can feel her stomach heaving and tensing around his numbing limb. He pulls her closer to him, burying his nose into her dark hair.

He knows she's asleep, that she's having those nightmares that visit her quite frequently. She's seeing the things that scare her the most behind those eyelids. He dislikes her nightmares because he can't protect her then.

The night around them is still, a part from the rushing of the sea outside. It's all they can hear. It's loud and, for a second, there's a pause in Annie's sobs, and everything seems smothered by the ultimately loud sounding of the waves crashing endlessly, flowing freely and living forever.

Then her stomach tenses again and broken sounding sobs escape. It's too much now. He should've woken her up when she first started crying, and now she's so close to screaming. Sometimes, the nightmares pass as quick as they come, just a fleeting image that replays itself for a while, until it subsides and Annie is back to being peaceful and as beautiful in sleep as she is in daylight.

Tonight it seems that this is not the case. Tonight she is reliving something that she didn't want to live the first time. And it's breaking her again.

Finnick shakes her softly. "Annie," he whispers.

She barely stirs. She's still crying, her belly still tensing horribly.

He hates this; he hates himself for a second for not waking her up early. He shouldn't hold out so much, since lately it's always been the all-out terrifying nightmares she hates so much.

He pulls her even closer. His heart rate has increased considerably, because she isn't waking up and this hasn't happened before. He's worrying. He's scared and he just wants Annie Cresta to wake up.

"Annie," he says frantically. He doesn't want to hurt or startle her, but he DOESN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO. "Annie, please, wake up, please," he begs.

She still won't wake up. She's stuck in a world of whirring pictures. They frighten her with their clarity. They feel real. They're contorted version of the reality. The frantic swimming, the blur, the winning, the after the games, the finding Finnick amongst the haze her life became after winning, the feelings that were too real and new, the being held through nightmares – they're all there, but it's not how it turned out. In this new world, Finnick doesn't love her. In this new world, Finnick left as soon as he could after the games, he didn't worry himself with the seventeen-year-old district 4 accidental victor, instead he left, leaving her as mental as she was. She doesn't like these images. They taunt her and taint the once most beautiful memories. She's left with a head full of pictures that aren't real, but, oh God, do they seem like they are.

She can hear his voice; soft but worried, oh-so worried. She gasps. She fights through the haziness, swimming, swimming, like she did before, she can do it again.

She finally wakes up, panting. She's still crying and he hugs her closer and closer to his chest as she twists in his arms, moving to face him.

She whispers, "Finnick." Her voice is cracked, she's still crying.

"Sh, sh, sh." He tries to comfort her with stories that mean everything to her because she loves hearing about his childhood with his brothers.

She's fine after about an hour of this, and by then it is dawn. She looks up at him; in her eyes is a child-like innocence he wants to keep there. "I'm sorry, Finnick."

For a second he doesn't understand, and when he does his heart constricts a bit. "Annie . . ." he starts, because she doesn't need to be sorry. She's worth this; she's worth the pain that this causes him. He leans down and kisses her softly, slowly. "You never need to be sorry."