"'So why are you going back to Twelve?'
'They can't seem to find a place for me in the Capitol either,' he says.
At first I don't question this. But doubts begin to creep in. Haymitch hasn't assassinated anyone. He could go anywhere. If he's coming back to 12, it's because he's been ordered to" (Mockingjay 379).
I don't know why this is the thought I focus on during the flight back to 12. Of all the things I can be thinking about, this realization is the only thing rattling around my brain. Your head is so cracked, it's no wonder that all of the important stuff has finally leaked out. I sigh at this, but it comes out as more of a strangled moan. I see Haymitch pretending that it was the hovercraft's loud machinery and not my soul tearing apart. Leave it to him to be a good mentor like he's supposed to be.
At some point during the flight I must have fallen asleep, because I feel people picking up my body just like before. Lifting me out of my seat, depositing me into someone's strong arms, checking to see if my pulse is strong enough. And before I know it, I'm back in the huge house built for so many people, but where none live. The stench of dust and disuse assaults my senses and tears well up when I remember the people who called this building their home. I let out on involuntary sob and bite my lip so nothing else spews out when I least expect it.
In the back of my mind, I register that the strong arms placing me in a chair next to the fireplace have been tracing soothing circles on my arms, attempting to calm my shaking form. I don't like this familiar act, especially from someone I don't even know. I don't need anyone to be close to me. It's just me and this huge house. I open my eyes and my mouth to tell this stranger so, but right as I do, any and all words die in my throat. Of all the faces to be staring down at me, I did not expect Haymitch's familiar one to be peering into mine.
Feeling much too vulnerable being stared at by my grumpy mentor, I manage to let out a breath and turn my head away towards the cold fireplace. I wait for his heavy footsteps to tell me he's tired of babysitting me and wants to go home where he can get properly drunk and pass out, but they never come. Instead, Haymitch reappears into my sight and begins to kindle a fire in that disused fireplace.
I'm so tired and want nothing more than to crawl down on the floor and sink into it, but I ask anyway. "What are you doing?" The whisper in which I said these words echo around the empty house, making me shiver. Suddenly, I'm not so opposed to that fire. Haymitch shoots me a look that seems to say he knows what he's doing and for me not to butt in, and continues his work. Curling more into myself, I watch with squinted eyes the growing flame. The fire is slowly eating away at the logs, and I can't help but be jealous at this stupid, marble fireplace for having a fire to warm it and make it glow when the only thing my fire did was burn me alive. It left me no survivors and consumed everything inside me. I grow bitter at this thought.
Prim, my little Prim, who was lured into a trap by her bottomless compassion, was burst into bits for it. Compassion—one of the only redeemable qualities to be found in anyone during the war's trying times, and my sister had an abundance of it. And it wasn't even the Capitol, President Snow and his vile roses that called for such an outrageously brilliant, savage plan, but President Coin. The same President Coin that wanted to end the Capitol's reign of terror, but instead desired to instill her own. Of course, she showed her motives after the war was won, killing Prim and dozens of others with her fires, and coming up with the plan of reinstating another Hunger Games. I couldn't have conceived a better trap myself. I laugh resentfully at the thought.
Haymitch turns around again, his brows furrowed as he looks in my direction. He's obviously worried about my sudden maniacal laughter. Probably thinks that my cracked head is beyond repair, and my broken heart is a lost cause. He would be right. But instead, his gaze lingers at my balled up form for a moment longer, and he turns around again, inspecting the flame for its strength one more time before standing up straight.
I suppose this is the point where he leaves with the knowledge that I'm home and relatively quiet, and proceeds to drink himself into a place where the nightmares don't haunt him. I don't know why, but the thought of being in this house alone terrifies me, and I'm scared for him to leave. I don't want him to.
He walks over to the door where he placed his bag upon coming in, and lifts it up. I don't know what to do. As much as Haymitch is not my preferred choice of company, it's better than none at all. But knowing Haymitch, he has better things to do, and he would resent me for pleading with him to stay. He's given up so much already just to ensure my survival that I'm sure taking the burden of seeing that I'm actually okay is far too much for him. With this in mind, the fireplace again fills my sight, blinding my unseeing eyes, and I will myself to count the seconds until I hear the front door open and Haymitch's departure.
But Haymitch surprises me for the second time, and I never hear that front door unlock, open, and close. I do, however, hear the rustling of his bag and his murmured curses when a bottle gets loose and knocks against the floor. When he lays himself and a blanket down in front of the fire and wraps me up in one as well, I can't understand what he's doing.
As he's settling himself on the hard floor, I hear myself asking, "Haymitch, why are you staying in Twelve? Why are you staying here with me?" He considers this as he looks at the glow his hands have from the warm light of the fireplace. His face has this glow too, and despite all the hardship he has seen, I can't help but think that it makes him look younger. After a couple of seconds of thinking it over, he looks up at my tear-stained face and into my eyes. I sometimes forget that we both have the Seam eyes, those gray pinpricks of color that know hardship, trial, loss, and suffering. And despite the new onslaught of tears I feel brimming in my eyes and the deafening pounding of my pulse in my ears, I hear his answer.
"Because you need me."
So what do you think? I'm new to the community and this is my first story, so feedback is appreciated.