a/n: I couldn't resist writing this, I'm sorry. I guess it's more movie-verse than book-verse but it probably could be taken either way. Beware of movie/first book spoilers.
once we had eternity
Life loves the liver of it. –—Mary Angelou
She is a little disappointed in Seneca Crane. She was so sure, back when she first arrived, she was so certain that he would be more than this. But he is not. He is Capitol-bred and he is ruthless and clever and refined but he sweats and grunts just like any of the district boys back home and when she lets him tangle his fingers in her hair, press the imprints of his hands into her hips, the weight of him is no different from the weight of any other boy. When he is done he rolls off her and in the dark they lie side-by-side and breathe.
Glimmer is starting to nod off, just a little, lulled by the exhaustion of training and the comforting feeling of a human presence beside her. It doesn't matter that he'll soon be orchestrating her death. She has always slept better with someone to be close to. So even though Seneca Crane is a disappointment she turns and presses her face into his bare shoulder and curls her body up against his side and hooks her ankle over his and sighs mightily.
"You're beautiful," he murmurs in the darkness, and before she has registered that he is doing it he is slipping an arm under her head, drawing her in closer, "I wish…"
He doesn't finish the sentence, and Glimmer is not curious enough to press for the ending of it. He wishes what? He wishes that she didn't have to die? He wishes that he didn't have to be the one ultimately responsible for her death? Well, he can save his wishing, because Glimmer has no intention of dying in his arena, thank you very much.
"Be quiet," she whispers, laying a hand flat on his chest, feeling the way he breathes, "Go to sleep."
His fingers knot into the ends of her long hair and he takes in one breath, like he is planning to say something, but he doesn't and that's that.
Glimmer wakes in the morning and slides from his bed before he stirs. She creeps from his chambers like a fugitive and makes it back to the ground-floor apartment before anybody else is awake, even Marvel who likes to get up extra-early to do two hundred push-ups before breakfast.
She discards her clothes and steps into the shower and before seven minutes are out she has scrubbed every trace of Seneca Crane from her body. She worries that the bruises on her hips won't fade before her next public outing, that the purple mark on her collarbone will peek out from under her training shirt—a part of her hopes that it does, and that he is watching when it happens. That he can see the print he has left on her, the solid evidence that what they get up to in the middle of the night carries through into the next day.
There's also a part of Glimmer, somewhere deep down, that hopes he sees the bruise and doesn't regret it. That he enjoys knowing that he has been with her.
But that part of her is also the part that tries to convince her she's sleeping with him for more reason than just teasing the secrets of the arena from him, and she doesn't like to listen to it much.
During training he doesn't look at her and she doesn't look at him. She doesn't, okay? He doesn't matter to her, not even a little. And because she's not looking at him she doesn't notice the way his eyes are bluer in the this light than in his bedroom, doesn't notice the way he taps his fingers in an unfamiliar rhythm on the table when he's concentrating on something, doesn't notice the way his eyes slide towards her every now and again, like he can't help it at all.
She shows off for him because she is Glimmer and he is Seneca Crane and this is how it works, for them. She shoots (badly) and bends further than necessary to collect her arrows, climbs the nets and lets her shirt ride up to show off her flat tanned stomach, practises her bending on one of the mats to delight him with her flexibility. She isn't watching him and he isn't watching her but their eyes meet a lot all the same.
That night they come together more hungrily, more desperately, and Glimmer is glad of the excuse to be distracted from the imminence of the games. For the first time, she actually feels something when he touches her, and the way his fingers feel against her skin is that slow pleasant burn she has only felt a handful of times in her life before.
"We shouldn't," he groans into her ear at one point, so she kisses him to change his mind. There is something beautiful in the sweating unattractiveness of this, she reckons, as he heaves incoherent entreaties into the hollow where her neck meets her shoulder. Her nails press into the tensing expanse of muscles on his back, her lips fastened on his, and later when it is over her fingertips trail over the fancy swirls of his beard and he drifts his thumb against her left cheekbone and looks sadder than she has ever seen anyone look.
"With the mutts," he begins as the moon sails through the sky outside the window, holding her close against him, "There's a trick, with them. I made sure it was included. Tell them your name, tell them you're Glimmer. They ought to leave you alone. But do it in the middle of a sentence so nobody guesses. Get up a tree and tell them you're you and you won't get a scratch, I promise you that. They'll leave you and go for the others. And I told you about the arena, the way it's laid out. You can get food from the woods, if you know where to look, and—"
"Seneca," she interrupts, pushing herself up on one elbow and gazing down into his face, at the play of shadows there and the blueness of his eyes, "It's going to fine. You've told me everything. I'll get in with the others, with Cato. It'll be easy. I'm going to win, Seneca."
His face creases up and she realises that this is the first time she's used his first name. There is tragedy in the lines of his frown, despair in the depths of his eyes. He can't quite believe her, she reckons. He knows his Games too well. He knows how they do things not even he expects. But she will win. She's Glimmer and he has told her all the secrets and she will win.
"And when you get back I'll marry you," he says firmly, holding her against him as she freezes, "I'll marry you and bring you to the Capitol and you'll never want for anything again, not ever."
She tell him that he is moving too fast and that once she's won she'll have her pick of any man in the Capitol or all twelve districts so he'll have to get in line and he laughs and rolls her over and kisses her again, soft and gentle and desperate.
In the morning she wakes him to say goodbye and presses a kiss to his brow and then she leaves for the last time. Easy as that.
When her cannon fires, Seneca Crane holds himself together for twenty eight minutes and then he goes into the bathroom and cries for twelve. By the time he has pulled himself together and told himself firmly that she is just another tribute and they've been in his bed before (but never like this, god, never like this), there is a gamemaker waiting outside the bathroom for him.
"Are you alright?" the woman asks with slight alarm, obviously taking in the redness of his eyes and the sadness in his demeanour.
"Yes, of course," he replies irritably, "I ate a bad oyster last night. What do you want? Another one dead?"
"No, they're alive," the woman promises, still looking at him suspiciously, "Most of them curled up sweating out the fever. I just—we thought you should know. About One."
"What about her?" Seneca shoots back, brushing past the woman as he begins to march back to the main room, to continue making the Games.
"Well," the woman says, hurrying to keep up, "It's very strange. You know we do full medical scans when they arrive and everything—well, she was fine then. Nothing abnormal. Healthier than the rest put together. But the guys on the hovercraft did a scan just now, when they picked her up, you know, usual procedure."
"And?" Seneca presses irritably, not really in the mood to hear this. What can they possibly have to say? She died in great agony? She had a heart condition? She wasn't really dead? What? "What?"
"She was pregnant, Mr Crane," the woman announces quietly, and the shock of the news brings him crashing to a halt. The woman gazes at him in fear as he turns around with an icy, terrifying poise. "We don't know who the father is," she garbles, hands clenched together in front of her, "The fetus' DNA didn't match up to any of the male tributes, though we assumed it was probably One or Two. But no match."
Seneca thinks of his own files stored safely miles away in the heart of the Capitol and tries not to give himself away.
"No matter," he finds his mouth saying, a hand waving as if to brush the matter off, his feet already carrying him forward, "It was probably some district kid back home. Scans must have missed it first time round."
"I don't think—" the woman begins, but Seneca has already left her behind and is heading back towards the main room to play his Games. He doesn't cry again until the mutts are released on the last night and there is nobody left to tell that she is Glimmer and she should not be harmed.
When it is his turn to die he is almost relieved. As he lifts the berries to his lips he thinks he hears her laughter on the still air of the room, and the next time he opens his eyes she is smiling at him, drenched in sunlight, a white dress fluttering lightly over the slight curve of her belly.
"How about it, then," she asks as she helps him to his feet, blinking coyly up at him, "You and me? We can get married, if you want. No Games here to get in the way, after all."
Seneca looks around him and he thinks maybe he's hallucinating in his death throes but he feels pretty solid and she feels pretty solid and there's a small dark-skinned girl staring seriously at him from a few feet away and a small sweet house in the distance and the wind feels so real around his ears.
"You're forgiven, here," Glimmer whispers in his ear as she begins to draw him along the path to the house, "Anything that went before, everyone forgives it. It's a wonderful feeling."
Seneca puts his arm around her waist and nods at the little girl from Eleven and hopes beyond hope that this is real, that he really has somehow made it into heaven or the afterlife or whatever.
"Don't be afraid," Glimmer says to him on the doorstep, "I promise, it's real. It's eternity, Seneca. Trust me."
He looks down at her outstretched hand, at the expectant smile on her face, and then he grins and takes her hand and follows her into the dark.
a/n: if you decide to favourite I would appreciate a review along with that favourite a whole lot.