Sorry for the late update. Writers block and life got in the way. Enjoy :)
Blaine's eyes drooped for a moment before he startled himself awake, blinking rapidly at the screen in front of him. He was sitting cross legged on one of the sofas in the lounge, clutching a fluffy pillow to his chest, his fingers gripping the soft fabric tightly, as though he was afraid it would slip away if he loosened his grip.
The television was on, but seeing as it was three in the morning there was no sound to transmit. Each tribute had a tracking channel so you could keep an eye on individual tributes in the arena wherever they were. Blaine found this both comforting and upsetting.
He had been watching Kurt since the Games started, only taking a break when Shannon had forced him to join her for dinner that evening. Blaine had returned to the television soon after to watch Kurt find somewhere safe to sleep. When he saw Kurt react the way he did when he found the peaches in his backpack, Blaine choked out a sob, his insides twisting painfully as Kurt drifted off to sleep.
Blaine rested his head against the pillow, breathing in the faint scent of Kurt that had lingered from the previous night. Soon enough it wouldn't smell like Kurt anymore, nothing around here would. The Avoxes had taken away all of Kurt's clothes, stripping his room bare. Thankfully, Blaine had managed to save one thing, Kurt's jumper from the first day, the one he had been wearing when they arrived in the Capitol. It still smelled like him but Blaine knew that if he wore it, Kurt's scent would be replaced with his own, so he kept it in his bottom drawer in his room.
Had it really only been 24 hours since they had been cuddled together in Blaine's bed? 24 hours since he had been holding Kurt close, his fingers drawing patterns on his arms and chest, causing Kurt to giggle and complain about being ticklish.
He didn't kiss him enough. He should have kissed him more, memorised his lips better and the way he tasted of warm milk, cinnamon and love. It wasn't fair and it hurt so badly.
Blaine let out a quiet sob, hugging the pillow as his blurry eyes focused on Kurt's sleeping form.
Blaine didn't bother looking up.
"Blaine hun, you need to get some sleep," Shannon said, placing a tender hand on his shoulder. "Kurt wouldn't want to see you like this."
"I'll never know what Kurt would have wanted," Blaine said, his voice quiet and bitter. "I've lost him."
Shannon tensed beside him, taking a seat on the sofa. "Blaine, you have to pull yourself together. We have meetings with Sponsors tomorrow and you need to be in top form if you're going to get anything for Kurt that he might need," she said. She didn't sound angry, but concerned. "I know that from this point on we're on opposite sides and I'm coaching Tina, but…" she trailed off, not wanting to finish the sentence. It wasn't easy, admitting that you hoped your tribute wouldn't make it so someone else's could.
Shannon frowned; her expression conflicted as though she wanted to say more but thought better of it. "Please get some sleep," she said instead before leaving Blaine alone once more.
Kurt woke up cold with a sore neck. He blinked, opening his eyes to stare up at the pink sky as dawn set over the arena. He groaned, shifting so he was in a sitting position, his face screwing up as he heard several of his joints click. He stretched his arms above him, welcoming the clicking as he felt his stiff body smooth out.
He ran his fingers through his hair and looked quietly around for any sign of life. When he was sure he was alone, he packed away his things and set off on a slow walk. Kurt didn't know where he was going; just that he needed to keep moving in case anyone was closing in.
He had been walking for a few hours when his stomach started to growl. The sun was high in the sky and beating down on Kurt's back, making his walk tiring, especially now that he was hungry. He stopped for a break, draining the remainder of his water bottle as the dizziness he was starting to feel subsided.
He needed to find food and soon.
Kurt made his way downhill in the hope of finding another water source and sure enough luck was on his side as he came across a stream. He re-filled his water bottle, adding another drop of iodine to purify it. While he waited for the water to become drinkable, he removed his shoes and socks and dipped his tired feet into the stream, letting out a deep sigh as the water lapped up around his ankles.
He washed his face and hands and stood in the shallow water, observing. It was when he spotted a fish swim past his toes that he knew what he was having for breakfast. Kurt frowned when he realised all he had in his pack was string and no hook. He'd have to do it the old fashion way.
He looked around the banks of the stream and spotted a large rock. He picked it up carefully, tossing it in the air a few times to get a good feel of it. His eyes were focused and narrowed, watching as a particularly large fish swam by. One, two, three.
Kurt yelped and tripped over his feet, falling bottom first into the stream. The rock had missed the fish and instead caused a backsplash of water, which hit Kurt square in the face, making him lose his balance. He spluttered, wiping his face on his sleeve as he coughed up the water that he had ingested.
Great. I bet everyone is laughing at me.
He then heard it; actual laughter. Kurt stood up, brushing down his behind where the sandy bed had covered his pants. Kurt's face was flushed dark as he looked around wildly for the source of the laughter. Were the Gamemakers transmitting the audience's reaction?
He then saw him.
A boy, who looked roughly the same age as him, though was slightly taller with broader shoulders and chest, jumped down from the tree next to him, a wide smile plastered across his face as his laughter died away. He looked sympathetically at Kurt, smiling gently as he slowly walked over to him.
"Mike," the boy said, holding out his hand.
They shook hands, Kurt watching Mike carefully for any signs of a trap. Mike had kind eyes and there was something trusting about him, despite the fact that he should be trying to kill Kurt right now. But he wasn't, and presumably he had been in that tree a while and could have killed Kurt without hesitation or detection. Kurt remembered him from the training and he seemed nice enough then, and even Blaine had urged him to ally him, but for all Kurt knew that could have been a front.
"Do you need some help?" Mike asked. He walked past Kurt and jumped into the river. It was then that Kurt noticed that he wasn't wearing any shoes and the bottom of his pants was turned up to avoid getting wet.
"Oh well, I was doing okay," Kurt said offhandedly, pink staining his cheeks. It was one thing to know that people were laughing at you at home, but to come face to face with someone was another thing.
Mike threw him a smile that said he was unconvinced. There was no pity in his expression, just empathy. He nodded, saying nothing. He reached into his back pocket, pulling out a makeshift fishing rod made from a thick branch, a hook and a piece of string. Kurt eyed it with interest.
Mike kneeled on the mossy bank, his fingers digging away at the damp soil for a few minutes until he pulled out a long, wriggling worm. He attached it to the hook and dropped the end into the stream. "I'm from District Four," he said as a way of explanation. District Four; the fishing district. "You can come closer, y'know. I'm not about to jump you." His smile was genuine and it reached right up to his eyes, giving off a trusting vibe that Kurt couldn't ignore.
Kurt laughed, hoping he didn't sound too uncomfortable as he stepped forwards. They stood together in silence for what felt like hours before Mike spoke.
"I saw you during training – you're pretty good with a sword," Mike complimented. He sounded sincere enough that Kurt let his guard down a little bit more.
"I had fencing lessons back home, so I'm all right," Kurt said, feeling his cheeks flush. He wasn't used to compliments, at least not ones from total strangers.
"You're modest, I like that," Mike said. He suddenly looked eager, pulling hard on the branch with a swift pull, a large fish dangling on the end of the hook. "This will do nicely," he said happily, unhooking the fish that was wriggling in his hands franticly. He stepped out of the stream and cut the fish deep using the end of the hook, the fish's movements slowing down before stopping completely.
"Do you know how to light a fire? I couldn't seem to get the bark to ignite during training," Mike said, shrugging.
"I have matches," Kurt said, pulling his bag off without a second thought and taking out the small pack. Kurt got to work making a fire while Mike, who was delighted with this turn of events, gut the fish for their meal. It wasn't much, but with the hot food spreading warmth through his body, Kurt couldn't care less. Who knew when his next meal would be?
"Have you run into anyone else yet?" Kurt asked, chewing on the end of a bone, desperate to pick it clean.
Mike frowned, looking serious. "That Sebastian kid," he said darkly. "He's a nasty piece of work. He's already killed three people." Kurt winced and Mike nodded as though Kurt had offered his opinion.
As the fire burned low; their fish eaten and water drunk and refilled, the boys sat in comfortable silence, having shared a few stories about their districts.
"So you and Blaine," Mike said, his lips curving into a knowing smile. "That's… something." He scrunched his face up at his choice of word.
Kurt laughed, biting down on his bottom lip. "It's something all right," was all Kurt could really say. In honesty, he didn't know what do say. To Mike, to Blaine, to himself. He never thought anything would come of his feelings for Blaine, how could they? They hadn't spoken two words to each other since they were children and then suddenly they were thrown together in the Capitol. Of course Kurt had debated telling Blaine how he felt about him; he had nothing to lose except a few days of heartache until he came into the arena. But what if Blaine rejected him and then refused to be his mentor? He would be even more alone in this place than he already was.
But then Blaine, sweet Blaine, gave him that brooch and said I love you and everything Kurt thought he knew about life changed. He was so sure that he wasn't going to win the Games that he didn't bother picturing a future after it. But now? Now he had strength and hope surging inside of him, pushing him to win, pushing him back into Blaine's warm and soothing arms.
"How long have you two been together?" Mike asked. He looked genuinely interested, but like everyone, there was a hint of pity behind his brown eyes.
Kurt ducked his head, wetting his lips as he mumbled his answer. When he looked up Mike was watching him with a frown, obviously not having heard him. "Two days," he whispered a little louder, his heart breaking with each word. He swallowed the lump forming in his throat and blinked back the tears that were threatening to fall.
Mike's mouth fell open into a perfect 'o' and his eyes widened with the same heartbreak that Kurt felt when he said his last goodbye to Blaine the previous day. "It was after the interviews that we… that we got together," Kurt clarified. Kurt thought about telling Mike about the brooch and the kiss they shared in his changing room but the Capitol had taken so much from him already, stripped him of his privacy and life and left him to die. He wasn't about to let them take his memories of Blaine too.
"I'm so sorry," Mike said, and he meant it. And that was enough for Kurt.
As the evening drew to an end, Kurt put out their fire and he and Mike found somewhere to sleep for the night. They had agreed to stick together for a couple of days while they adjusted to the arena. Mike said he was happy to catch food for them both if Kurt made the fires and cooked it. Mike wasn't much of a chef and Kurt had spent years making meals for him and his dad. It wasn't ideal, knowing that the other would be dead soon and possibly by their own hands, but the prospect of working together was a lot more pleasant than being alone.
The sun was just setting, the sky a deep purple, when they heard something coming their way. Mike stood up pencil straight, holding his hand up to silence Kurt as he listened out for the direction of the noise. Mike turned to Kurt and pointed to the closest tree, which they both climbed to wait out whoever was coming.
A tall figure walked through the trees, a sword held securely in one hand and a small plastic pot in the other. Mike and Kurt exchanged grim looks with each other when the moonlight hit the figure's face and they saw who it was.
Sebastian stopped and looked around with an almost tense expression, his head was tilted, his ears straining to hear any sounds as his eyes scanned the area. Mike and Kurt held their breaths watching. Sebastian let out a deep breath, pushing the sword into his belt holder and opening the plastic pot, a gift from a sponsor. He took out a small loaf of bread, no bigger than a grapefruit. The smell of the freshly baked bread hit Kurt's nostrils and he had to cover his mouth with his hand to stop the whimper of need that threatened to escape him.
Sebastian greedily ate the entire thing, smacking his lips together and chewing in an obscene way. He then removed a piece of paper from the pot and smirked as he read it, screwing it up and tossing it on the ground.
He walked over to a row of bushes on the other side of the clearing, appearing to be looking for something. He used the end of his sword to part the vegetation as he peered in, as though whatever he was looking for was dangerous and he needed to keep some distance. He looked disappointed for a second before Kurt heard him make a hmm noise, stripping one of the branches of something Kurt couldn't make out.
"This will have to do for now," Sebastian muttered to himself. He filled his now empty plastic pot and wrapped the parachute carefully around itself before putting it in his backpack. And with one last look around, Sebastian walked out of sight.
They waited for ten minutes before climbing down from the tree, just in case Sebastian was waiting nearby ready to attack. Mike went over to the bushes while Kurt picked up the crumbled note from the ground.
It was against the rules (ha, rules, Kurt thought bitterly to himself) to send tributes insider information. Any notes were checked first to make sure they didn't say anything that could give the tributes knowledge the viewers had. So no 'District Six tribute likes to hide out by the lake' messages were allowed.
Kurt smoothed out the paper, pulling a nauseated face as he read it.
You have this in the bag!
Well, it was nice to know that Sebastian's mentor thought so highly of him.
"Hey, Kurt," Mike called out slowly. Kurt turned to see him holding something between his fingers, examining it closely. Kurt walked over to him and once he was close enough, saw that what Mike was holding was a dark berry.
"Berries?" Kurt asked, not understanding why Mike was looking so concerned. "He likes fruit… so?"
"Not just any berries," Mike said, flicking it off of his thumb and wiping his stained fingers down his pants leg. "Nightlock."
"You'd think he would know what poisonous berries look like," Kurt said. "But at least when he eats them he won't be a threat anymore." Kurt smiled uneasily, hating the way his mind was thinking. Even if Sebastian was ruthless and showed no mercy, he was still a boy. A boy with presumably a family back in District One. No one deserved to die in this arena, even him, and especially not by poison.
Mike frowned, looking anxiously at Kurt. "Kurt, I don't think he's planning on eating them," Mike said. He had turned a pale green colour and looked like he was about to be sick.
"What?" Kurt asked, confused. "He put them in his parachute pot, why would he…?" Kurt stopped talking, his eyes widening as bile crawled up his throat. "Oh. He… you don't think?"
"I don't think that he's planning on dropping a parachute of Nightlock on other tributes disguised as a sponsor gift? That's exactly what I think," Mike said.