I am sorry I have been keeping you waiting for so long! I was gone for like a week, but ... I'll try to make it up to you! :)
After what I'd say was an hour, Rykeir comes back. I still haven't said a word, even if Liam has tried to make me talk. I haven't given up on my goal, but I feel like I have given in, and I don't like that feeling.
Rykeir's holding a knife in the palm of his left hand. He's lost the sparkle of life that was into his eyes when he opened up about Cato. And I know that he's taken this hour to get his shit together, and to turn off the humanity switch. That's what I should have done, too. That's what I tried to do.
"What are you doing with this knife?" Elven shouts. "Don't even think of using it against her. You'll be the one who's going to be sorry."
If I thought my humanity switch was turned off, it fails. No matter how mad he seems to be at me, Elven still is willing to try to defend me—until some point, I am pretty sure.
"I'm not planning on using it against her, you moron," Rykeir snaps. "It's for the cage." He brandishes the knife as if it were some kind of trophy.
"I don't think it's going to work," I tell Rykeir.
"It's a gift from the sponsors," he says. "So, I think it's going to work because I have plenty of knives with me. I don't need another one."
I just shrug and watch him as he's trying to cut the pieces that made the trap a cage. I notice that Rykeir is forcing really hard with the knife, but it doesn't seem to be working. It's not like I really thought it would. But, surprisingly, after two minutes, I finally realize that it's working! It really does cut the wood—or whatever material was used.
I hear Rykeir's laugh of victory. "See," he says, "I told you."
"I wasn't doubting you," I say. "I was doubting the knife."
He smiles a little and finishes the job until I can crack the whole thing up on my own. I think it took about one hour, but being able to walk freely is the best gift I have ever been given for a very long time. I walk to Rykeir and thank him by putting a hand on his arm. We're not about to get emotional or anything else.
He nods. "You're welcome."
"What about us?" Liam asks.
I frown and turn to Rykeir, raising one eyebrow, wondering what he thinks of all this. He looks at me and shakes his head. "I know he's your brother, but I think that he's not willing to be on our side."
I agree. "He's never going to be on our side," I say.
"I can't promise that he'll be safe, but I think he's better in there than out there," Rykeir tells me. "I … I know what it's like, and I know he's your brother. I'm not promising you anything, though."
"Don't worry," I say. "It was clear from the beginning." I look around and ask, "Where's Lilith?"
"She'll be back soon," he says. "It took me awhile to convince her. I suggest you don't try anything that could put any doubt in Lilith's mind. She'll kill if she believes that you allegiance has changed side."
I nod to say that I have understood his words. I'm not completely with them, yet. I'm still on probation. They'll see if I was playing them or not. I'd like to know that, too. I don't even know what are my intentions. What did I want to do? I don't even know. I don't even know if I'll try to kill Elven and Piper, or if I'll try to kill Lilith and Rykeir. It just seems unfair if I do to both sides. The more I think of it, the less I can see a way out. It's just so … There's no way out. I knew from the beginning that there was none for me, but there has to be one for either Elven, Liam, Piper, Rykeir or Lilith. And I know that I'll play a part in it, but I still don't know on which side, and I can't bring myself to choose.
That's when Lilith comes back. "Oh, the knife worked." I nod my head, and then she throws something at me that I catch—pure reflex. "Good catch."
I don't even thank her and look down to see what she got me. Fish. I let out a dry laugh and smile a little.
"Just in case you're hungry," she says.
"I didn't know you could fish," I say.
She shrugs. "There's a lot that you don't know about me."
I think about her words but know that she doesn't mean that she's related in any way to mine and Rykeir's personal vendetta. Maybe she just learned in her District.
I don't even take the time to prepare the fish properly, the way I have been taught back in my District. I'm just starving. I hear Rykeir laughing a little, but I don't even bother looking up. Once I'm done, he hands me some kind of bottle of water, and I'm careful not to down it.
Then, I hear Piper's little voice, whispering into her brother's ear that she's hungry and thirsty.
"I know. I know," Elven sighs. There's nothing that he can do. But I can.
I look at Rykeir. "Where's the 'river'? I'll go fish for them," I say.
Rykeir raises one eyebrow, but he points one direction and that's where I head.
"You might need this," Lilith shouts. I turn around, and she throws me something that looks like a gig. I catch it, look at it, and nod.
It doesn't take me long to find back my reflexes and to catch a couple of fishes. Everything is just too calm and easy. The desert is nowhere to be seen, and so is the city where I hid with Silver. It's as if we're in a total different arena. I mean … we haven't run that far away, and it feels like we're ten thousand miles away from where we originally were. It's just a little crazy.
I take the fishes, the gig and go back to the place where Rykeir and Lilith are waiting. They look at me, wondering what I intend on doing with the fishes. It's pretty obvious to me.
"Tell me how you'll manage to give them the fishes," Lilith says.
"I'll throw it," I tell her.
"Throw it? It's not going to work."
I shrug. "I'll give it a try." I think that the cages are only some kind of protection. Because when Wilke tried to have me kill, it didn't work. And when we tried to put our hands out of the cages, it didn't work. That's because we were out for blood. And I mean … the fishes are not.
I choose to start by Liam first. He's still my brother, and I feel like I owe him this. He doesn't even look at me, as if he couldn't stand to see my face. It pains me, but I don't say anything.
"Watch out," I murmur.
"I'll manage," he barks.
I smile, a sad smile, and aim. Just like I thought, it worked. Liam looks up for a moment, sees the fish on his knees, and then, he nods. I know that it's the only thing that I'll get from him. A nod, that's it. For him, I've already made my decision and chosen my side. And I guess that he has every right to treat me the way he wants to. I gave him no reason to be nice with me.
Then, I move to Elven and Piper's cage. I kneel down as I throw them two fishes. Piper almost throws herself on it. She doesn't even bother to see if it's poisoned or anything, she just eats it, just like that, and Elven doesn't have the time to stop her.
I shrug, shaking my head. He keeps his eyes on me, looking right through me, without touching the fish that I brought him. He mouths, "Why are you doing this?"
"So you don't starve," I snap.
He raises one eyebrow. I don't even bother explaining my behavior. I get up and look at Rykeir. Then, without a single warning, it's the night. It's just so dark in here that it's almost impossible to see. Lucky me, Rykeir and Lilith had already lit up a fire. I come sit next to them as they're watching me, suspicious.
"You should try to get some sleep," I tell them. "I think you'll need it. It's been way too calm in here. I think that it's going to end tomorrow."
Rykeir nods his head, and he closes his eyes. He's already lied down on the ground. Lilith curls up next to him, but he doesn't even touch her. He doesn't even look at her. So I'm assuming that she's just trying to be comforted by someone, and that he doesn't give a shit. I look at them for I don't know how many hours. Until the fire goes dead. I think maybe the Capitol has decided to give us one last night because it's still warm. I can hear Rykeir and Lilith sleeping, as well as Piper—she stopped whining. I guess that Liam is fast asleep too, and I don't know for Elven.
But I can't sleep. I still don't know what should be done. I get up to walk around. It'll help me think, and get my shit together, and just … Just stop worrying about everything else. I have this feeling that it's going to be the end tomorrow. And it's scary. My head is just so … full of thought, and my heart is just like screaming. I don't know what to do. I'm just so lost. I just wish that my father was here. He'd know what to do, and he'd tell me. And I'd listen to him because … because he'd know what's best for all of us. But he's not here anymore. He's not here, and I'm left alone in the dark with those thoughts that I don't want.
As I am walking beside Elven's cage, I hear a noise. I startle and look down. Nothing. Although I can still feel someone watching me, I keep on walking. I really don't think that this is what the Capitol wants. I really don't believe that they'll have me kill like that. In the dark, and from behind. That would ruin all the show.
"Jessy," I hear Elven whisper.
I stop and turn my head. "Elven?"
"We need to talk."
"We can't talk," I replicate, kneeling down to be closer to his ear. We really don't need anyone overhearing us, and we don't even know if everyone's asleep or not. Does he even realize how risky this is? If I get caught talking to him, Rykeir will not hesitate one single second, and he'll kill me. Lilith would do the same, I am pretty sure. So what can be so important that he's willing to put us both in danger?
"Come with me," he says. And I hear him walking beside me. When I feel his hand on my arm, I almost jump and scream, but he quickly puts his hand over my mouth. "Shh," he says. "It's just me."
I turn around, and it's really him. He's … not in the cage anymore? "What? Where's the … How did you..."
He grabs my hand and pulls me closer to him as he starts to walk away from all of this. "I don't know," he murmurs. "I just woke up, and I was out of it."
"Still in there, fast asleep."
"I know," he says.
"They all fell asleep so fast," I notice. "Maybe …"
"Maybe the Capitol wants to give us a moment, yeah. I thought of that, too."
We were … I don't even knew where, but one thing's sure: we were far enough from Rykeir, Lilith, Piper and Liam. They wouldn't hear us. They wouldn't overhear what we had to say, what Elven had to tell me.
Feeling his hand in mine, his palm against mine, it just … it was right. It feels right. I realize that … I have been truly dying for this one touch, and that my entire mind is about to go away. All I can think about is his hand in mine, and about how bad I actually want him, one last time.
Elven suddenly stops, turns around and brutally presses his lips against mine as he pulls my entire body closer to him. "They're right," he whispers. "It was killing me."
"It's killing me," I say.
He kisses me again, but I push him away. We can't do this. I need to think straight. He can't touch me. This can't happen again. I don't want to … But you do. I don't want to follow Katniss's path. I don't want to be like her. Why can't I just grab something, a weapon, anything, and drive it through Elven's heart? We are alone. And his guard is down. He'll never see it coming.
Elven looks up at me, stars shining in his eyes. He takes my hand, entwines our fingers, sits down, and I sit on his lap. He holds me close, kissing my shoulder, whispering things to my ear, things that I wished I never hear.
"Stop it," I murmur slowly. "Elven, stop it."
But he doesn't listen. "This might be our last moment together. One last time?"
"For the audience?" I tell him, knowing exactly what he'll think of. That's what Peeta told Katniss when they came back home, I believe. I'm not quite sure.
But Elven shakes his head no. "Not for them. For us," he says.
And right now, right then … That's the moment where I caved in. That's the moment where I gave in, where I just let go of everything that was holding me back. That's the moment where I whispered in Elven's ear that I wanted to be with him so badly, that I wished we could be together—like together—and that I was sorry for everything.
He murmured back in my ear everything that I wanted to hear all along. And we shared one last night of true love, of true passion, of burning fire.
Afterward, he just kissed my shoulders, my arms, my neck, my face. I couldn't even think. I didn't want to; I don't want to. I feel different. I feel … peaceful for once. It feels as if with his love, Elven has succeed in extinguished a little the fire. I don't feel as bitter. I just … I just want all of this to be over. I wish that this, this night, could be my last memory. If he killed me, right here, right there, I realize that I wouldn't be tormented; I would be happy.
Is this what happiness feels like? Like you want to just … freeze the time, and stay there forever? I wish that I never have to leave Elven's side. I just want to stay in his arms. Always. But I think—I know—that this isn't going to change anything.
"I wish time could stop," Elven whispers in my ear. "I wish we could stay like this forever and not have to worry about anything."
"I know." I sigh. "I know."
He turns to look at me, his eyes locking into mine. I will always remember him like that. Not when we argued, not when we met, but how I feel right now, and how he feels, too. We feel the same way. It's like … everything else just vanished. His will to protect his sister and my will to kill them both are gone. There's just us, surrounded by an aura of … what I assume is happiness.
"What are we going to do?" he asks.
I let out a sigh. I don't know. "I don't want to think about it," I say. Not today, not now, not ever. But I have to. We have to.
"We don't have much time left," Elven reminds me. He stays quiet for a minute, letting me enjoy one last moment of quietness, of his presence by my side, before going on, "but I think we should come up with a plan." He eyes me, like he's never done before, as to truly try to catch the essence of my soul, to read what's in it, how I truly feel about everything. "Did you … Are you really teaming up with the Careers?"
There is something in his voice I wish I didn't hear. Pain. Sadness. Betrayal.
I look at him, and everything that he feels in his goddamn eyes, and it just overcomes my entire body as a huge wave, a wave that's meant to take away all my anger and bitterness, and that will leave me peaceful. And, truly, I am. I feel … right. I know that this thing going on with Elven is wrong, but it feels right. It's not … exhausting. Hating them is.
Maybe it's finally time to let go of my past. I could—can—be someone new for the next couple of days. I think that if we're lucky, we might have two days left, but I wouldn't go over that.
About Lilith … I couldn't care less. She's nothing to me. She has nothing to do with this. She's dead anyway. She's always been. And I think she will put up quite a good fight, but it shouldn't be too hard to win her over. I mean, to kill her.
About Rykeir … I can't say the same. I feel like the worst person in the world to take away what he's been living for his whole life. And he doesn't have someone like Elven for him to hold on to. He doesn't know how to let go, and neither do I.
I realize it now. I may not know how to let go, but I sure as hell want to. I think it's time. I think … I think that's what my father would want me to do. That's what he'd want for me. I think it's what my mother wants me to do as well. She's had to live with Finnick's death for seventeen years—actually eighteen—too. And I never, not even once, heard her blame anyone—but maybe herself. She told me once that no one was responsible for Finnick's death. She said that she knew that Katniss—and everyone who was there—did their best to try to save him. I could almost hear her tell me to let go, to forgive, to just deal with it, and to make the best out of it. Just like she's been trying to do for the last eighteen years. I'm all that she has left. What will she do once I'll be done? She'll have no one, no one to take care of her, no one to look after her. She'll be alone. How could I even do this to her? How can I even think of doing this to her? How can I be so selfish? Not by letting her alone, but by leaving her alive to overthink everything that I became in the Games. That's not what I want her to remember. She deserves better.
I look away from Elven. I can't handle his look, how I see the accusations, the hurt, and the love in his eyes. It's just killing me. It's been killing me since the beginning, since that day we both went mad.
"I don't know," I tell him honestly. "I don't know, Elven. It's just … I always needed to blame someone. I always thought that someone was responsible for my father's death, and I still think your mother had something to do with it." I can almost hear him protest. "But," I interrupt him, "I think that I can't get even with her. I can't … I don't … I don't know how to express that. It wouldn't be the right way to do it." I sigh. "Look, my whole life I hated you and your sister for having both your parents." I had never really thought of that before, but as I say the words aloud, I realize that it is the bloody truth. "And I kept the hate alive, and I even fed it with my own bitterness. I'm not going to apologize for despising your mother. I believe that she hates me, too." Before Elven has the time to protest, I kiss his lips to make him shut up. If he doesn't let me speak up, if he doesn't listen to me right now, he will never know what I wanted him to find out all along. It's now or never. Now or never that he'll know everything, that I'll answer to all his questions, that we will figure something out. Now or never. It's crazy how all the future can depend on one single event. And this is it. This is the one event that could—and that will—change everything.
Arielle A. Dorkable: Wow, thank you for the review, and I hope you liked that chapter!
CloveandtheMockingjay: Thank you! It's always such a pleasure to see that you have reviewed!
HungerGamesLoverr: I thought of you when I read that chapter again because you said that you were starting to dislike Jessyka, and ... I don't know, maybe you'll ... reconsider after this :) But I do understand your point of view. I didn't mean for things to be easy for her. It shouldn't be easy for her to let go. I didn't want that for her, it would've been the easy way out and that's not what I wanted. And indeed, I hate cliché, but ... I think that I do anyway. She's losing her humanity ... that's interesting. I quite like that hahahaha. Thanks again for the review, you know how happy I am every time.
Absolutly Adorkable: Haha, thank you for the review! Yeah, that's what I wanted to do; showing another side to the Careers, like ... they're not just cold blood murderers, you know. Hope you enjoyed that chapter! I might be mistaken, but I think that the "Arielle A. Dorkable" is you, too? Well, if so, you got 2 shout-outs :)
Margot: Hi! It's always just SO nice when I see that you have reviewed! And I think you're right about Jessyka. She just needs to realize it herself. Thank you for the lovely review! And I hope that you liked that chapter!
Tom: Hi, buddy! I'm glad you're taking your own time to ... either write that review, or translate it, but ... really, thank you! :) And actually ... I don't see what's wrong with your English. Hope that you liked that one!
Thank you all for reading, and reviewing, it just means so much to me. I hope that you will have a very good day!