Disclaimer: How can you hate an angel?
I rush to the bathroom and peel the black suit from my skin, discarding it somewhere on the floor. It takes awhile considering it's so damn tight, but then I'm free. I peel my underclothes off easily and hop into the shower, tapping something on the wall that shoots a stream of water at me. I yelp when it's too hot and curse when it's too cold. After frantically pounding away on the buttons a steady burst of warm flows at me. Showers are probably one of the best things about this place, and this is the perfect temperature. I sigh and lean against the wall letting the water flow over me, washing off as much of the Capitol as I can. It's temporary, considering they'll be dressing me up for the interview in a few days, but it feels nice to watch the bit of makeup Portia painted on my face wash down the drain.
Even through the multiple walls I hear Effie pounding on my door, calling me to dinner. With one last rake through of my hair I turn the shower off, exiting the room. A burst of air blows down, drying my skin and hair instantly. Not gonna lie, I could get used to this. Everything's so easy here. I yank open a drawer filled with an abundance of clothes and take the first things I see, some khaki pants and a white shirt. It's not me but I'm starving.
"Don't you worry, I'll make sure Haymitch signs the papers," Effie is saying when I walk into the room. I'm still buttoning up my shirt when I get there. Undersee's sitting next to Cinna who talks very quietly to her, causing a smile to brighten on her face. She nods and laughs and then the room goes quiet when they spot me. "Gale, dear, you look nice." She smiles and ushers to the seat across from her, next to Portia, and I take it slowly. Undersee goes back to her plate and reaches for a tall glass by her plate, bringing it up to her lips and sipping it slowly as I sit down, her eyes following my every motion. She's changed too, her hair now tumbling freely down her back. She's got on some sort of light blue evening dress that shows off her shoulders and her collarbone and… "Would you like something to drink?" Effie's voice pulls me back up to the conversation.
"To drink?" she says again. A boy in a white suit offers me a tray and I pick one at random. Why the hell not? It's the same color as Undersee's drink and I'm guessing she's had it before. Probably at one of her fancy parties. Bound to be good. "Oh, lovely choice," she smiles. "I was just talking about how I'm going to force Haymitch to agree to the sponsor deals I find for you. I mean, everyone likes me and you're sure to get sponsors with your opening splash, or should I say spark!" she laughs at her own joke and Cinna and Portia make a point to look amused. Even Undersee cracks a smile that looks genuine. "But he's the only one that can finish the deal for you so that's the biggest shame."
Haymitch stumbles up to the table with a drink in his hand. "Trinket, the biggest shame is that you never stop rambling. I told you I'd help this year," he mutters, his eyes darting toward Undersee. I'm going to figure out why Haymitch wants her back here if it's the last thing I do. "Alright?" He raises his hand and motions for one of the avoxes to add more to his drink. The girl with red hair I noticed earlier is the one to do so, her eyes flickering up at me for only a moment. I cringe in my seat and look down at my chair. I still remember her screaming. The way she begged for help. Does she remember me? Of course she does, my face is probably imprinted in her brain. I wonder if she'll be relieved when I die, like a sort of revenge for when I watched the boy she was with get speared through the stomach and said nothing. I busy myself with taking a sip of drink that boy in the suit gave me. It tingles as it goes down but effectively gets my mind off of that day.
Undersee snorts, "Not your taste?" I must've cringed.
"Since when do you drink wine?" I shoot back, reaching for the glass of water that had been sitting there when I got to the table.
"Madge comes from a very well off family, Gale," Effie says, almost offensively. "If she wants to have a glass of wine with dinner that's perfectly alright with me."
"I'll second that," Haymitch raises his cup toward her. She groans and motions for the boy in the white suit to come over, grabbing a different cup off. It's like she already lives here. She'd be great to win the Games, little to no adaptation needed to survive this place. I bet she knew how to work her shower.
"Here," she places it in front of me. "You'll like that better." I go to snap at her, wondering how she'd know what I'd like but I decide against it. It wouldn't change anything. I just won't drink it. The table falls silent as Undersee sips from her own glass. "Or don't," she says quietly. I'm not going to let her think I can't handle her fancy Capitol drinks so I reach for the wine again. The thought of Undersee drinking sort of unnerves me. I mean, it's only wine, but it's still alcohol. Must be abundant in her household. I've never had anything to drink before, not like this. Once my mom received a bottle from one of the people in town she washes clothes for and she let me have a sip. It tingled too.
"May, could you pass me the…" Haymitch trails off as Undersee drops her knife on her plate, the clatter echoing through the room.
"Madge," Cinna corrects lightly, looking toward the girl whose skin has gone paler than ever before. He reaches across the table and grabs what Haymitch had been about to ask for and passes it to him slowly. Undersee blinks rapidly, dropping her eyes to her hands. Cinna reaches forward to rest a hand on her shoulder but she's too fast.
"I'm not hungry anymore," she says suddenly, pushing herself away from the table, her eyes downcast. Haymitch slinks back in his chair with a groan.
"Undersee I didn't," Haymitch starts but doesn't know how to finish. My eyes flicker between him and the girl retreating to her room.
"Madge," Cinna calls after her, "you've barely had anything to eat…"
"I'm fine," she says back. A few moments later the slam of her door echoes through the house. Everyone's eyes dart to Haymitch who's also pushing himself out of his chair.
"Of course one of the first tributes I actually like Haymitch has to go and offend her," Effie rambles, crossing her arms angrily. It's basically as if I don't exist. "Why on earth do you keep calling her that, Haymitch?" He doesn't answer and instead lumbers off to his own room, slamming the door shut behind him. Effie drops her arms and looks around at the remainders. Me, Portia, Cinna. "Well," she sighs, "I just don't understand. Cinna?"
"Couldn't tell you in the least," he says, picking up his cup. I watch Cinna for a moment, the way he smiles up brightly at Effie after that, and I realize that he's lying. The flicker in his eyes as he meets my gaze confirms the fact. I reach for the glass of wine I had earlier and take another sip, it's not so bad. Besides, the more I drink the lighter everything feels. Dinner goes on and Haymitch eventually returns to us but Undersee stays in her room. I keep getting refills on the cup of wine and when I'm at about my fourth Portia makes a point to take it away with a laugh. That, however, doesn't work well. Everything I'm seeing is like a series of photographs and I love the sensation. My senses are amplified and muffled at the same time. When we all sit down to watch the opening ceremonies I just get another glass of something different. This one's smooth a blue, it slides down my throat sweetly. Those around me eat at a cake made of fire, surely something Undersee would like. Maybe I'll take her a piece.
As the ceremonies drag on I kind of want Undersee to come back out, she'd surely be muttering things under her breath that I'd be able to laugh at. But she doesn't. Not even when we're on the screen getting hooted and hollered at. "Gale," Portia frowns. "I didn't want you drinking anymore."
"Leave the boy alone," Haymitch grumbles at her. I nod approvingly at him and he forces something that might be a smile onto his face. It's gone as fast as it appears. Makes me wonder if I imagined it.
"We look great," I grin, slouching back on the couch. "Wow, man you guys are great." The flames leap off the television and I feel like I'm going to get burned by just sitting here. There's no doubt in anyone's mind that we were the best out there. It's even better because no one expected us to be so awesome. Probably pissed a whole bunch of people off, too, which makes it even better.
"Thank you, Gale," Cinna smirks into his hands. Portia elbows him and I laugh.
"No, really I'm serious! I mean look at Undersee!" she waves on the screen and blows kisses at me. Not a soul can deny her grace or beauty. "She looks like an angel!" And she does, the way the blues and whites twirl behind her ever so sweetly, how her face is illuminated and bright. It's like seeing her in a whole new way, slowly breaking out of her shell one layer at a time for the world to see. She's not quiet and angry, she's bright and dedicated. Yeah, yeah that's it. She's determined, God I love that. Determined people. People who do whatever they have to so they can get what they want. Yeah, she's like that. I can see it now.
"Okay, maybe you should take that from him," Haymitch says under his breath eyeing the glass in my hand. Hopefully I haven't been saying my thoughts out loud. I down the rest of the drink and toss him the empty cup. Maybe I have been saying my thoughts out loud. That's what alcohol does. It makes everything have a slant and messes up my senses immensely, but the feeling is so great I don't even care. It's like floating on a cloud while walking and swimming and flying and I don't even care about anything anymore, like that avox or the Games or the stupid fucking Capitol because right now, they just don't matter.
"I'm gonna go get her," I announce, pressing up on my feet and lifting from the couch. I pause for a moment as my center of balance shifts, my head going momentarily light. The feeling makes me smile. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Gale," they all say back with giggles. Laugh away! I feel great and they're all sober. Well, expect maybe Haymitch. No wonder he's always drinking. I sway as I walk, using the wall as a guide. Maybe I'm not swaying, maybe there's an earthquake. I laugh at the thought of there being an earthquake in the Capitol and how all the rainbow colored zombies would panic in the streets.
I finally make my way to Undersee's door and knock on it. There's no response so I knock louder, sighing and leaning my head against it. I just wanna talk to her, is all. Should've brought her cake, maybe make a peace offering. She's not all that bad, really she isn't. "Gale?" she opens the door and I fall in, Undersee moving out of the way just before I fall on her. "What do you want?" Her voice isn't angry, more curious. Of course it'd be curious.
"I just wanted to say," I force myself up right and blink a few times. She's still in that light blue dress. "You look nice."
"I look… what?" She watches me for a moment as I close the door behind me. "Are you drunk?" I lean backwards against the door and inhale deeply, her room smells good.
"No," I shake my head. The sensation causes me to go lightheaded and I laugh. "Maybe. That wine was good." She rolls her eyes and pushes me to sit on the bed. "Why'd you leave dinner? You coulda came back out?" I should probably go to bed but after her not being with us for a few hours I kinda miss her. Especially compared to the company I've had who keeps laughing at me. She's not laughing at me, that's nice. Like old times but without the glaring. Not that her glaring ever really affected me. "You look nice in blue."
"Stop saying that," she mutters, crossing her arms angrily. "Our first day in the training center is tomorrow and you're going to go into it with a hangover." She rolls her eyes again and storms into her bathroom. I've never had a hangover before, although I've heard some people talk about them like they're the work of the devil. Should be exciting. "I should just get an attendant," she mumbles so she thinks I can't hear her. I can hear her. Her dress blows out behind her and makes it look like the winds blowing. Like an angel again except she doesn't have wings. I laugh as she returns, a scowl on her face and something in her hand. "Lay back," she instructs, and I do. "You're an idiot."
"Just tasted good," I say as she places a warm cloth on my forehead. I know what she's doing, I saw Mrs. Everdeen do it once or twice when someone was drunk. Makes the headache in the morning not so bad, I think. It's nearly impossible to believe that something that makes you feel so wonderful at night will cause you so much pain when you wake up. "Besides, I may never get the chance to drink again! Just wanted to try it." Some water from the cloth drips down my temples and her fingers wipe it up gently. "That feels nice," I tell her. Undersee sighs and finally sits on next to me on the bed. "Wanna go home," I mumble, my eyelids flittering shut. She combs through my hair and sighs again. "Let's go home."
"You will," she says weakly.
"No," my eyes snap open, "both of us." She laughs and her fingers slip from my forehead. Only one of us can come home, that's such bull. We should both just get up and leave. "Right now."
"I don't want you drinking anymore," she says sadly. "Alright?"
"Can't tell me what to do," I murmur. I don't want her to die. She's too innocent. Again she laughs and her fingers return to the hair on my forehead. It feels nice. Nicer than the warm cloth. Soothing. "Who's Maysilee?"
"You don't actually care," she shoots back softly. "You're just curious. Besides, you don't want us to be friends remember? I would only tell that to a friend." I think for a minute, I had said that hadn't I? "I always thought we were friends, kind of. I mean you were friends with Katniss and so was I and…"
"Don't talk about her," I mutter. I don't want to think about Katniss ever again. What her reaction must have been to see me and Undersee lighting up the Capitol, holding hands like best friends. She's probably disgusted, resents me. "Talk about something else."
"Why do you hate me?" she asks gently. Oh, she's been waiting to ask that for a long time. I can tell by the way it flows so naturally from her lips. I sit up on the bed but she pushes me back down, her fingers continuing their dance through the hair brushing my forehead.
"You act like you do," and yet she's still friendly with me. God, that's so irritating! She thinks I hate her, which I don't, and yet she still goes out of her way to try and be nice! Why can't she just close herself off? That'd be a hell of a lot easier. "It's okay if you do."
"I don't," I say again. And I don't. I know I don't. I don't hate Undersee, there's nothing about her to hate. She's just so freaking kind. "You just never understood."
"All I wanted was to be like everyone else," she says quietly, finally pulling her hand away and resting it in her lap. "To have friends and a family that didn't…" she brings her hand up to her head and rubs her temples. "Never mind." I watch as her eyebrows furrow and she groans under her breath. "You should get to your own room."
"I don't hate you," I say again. I know she doesn't believe me but I want her to. I want her to believe that I don't hate her because I don't. "Really, I don't." I can't have her die and have her think I hate her.
"And you looked really nice for the ceremonies."
A smile slips onto her face, "Thank you." There's a pause as I turn on my side to face her, the cloth slipping from my forehead.
"We could be friends."
"It's too late for that," her voice is hollow. "Not with us going into the Games."
"What about until then?"
"You're drunk, you don't mean it." She forces her eyes shut and keeps her head down. My eyes start tracing the loose strands of her hair that twist down her back. She belongs here, in a nice place like this. It's just suiting. "You won't remember any of this in the morning anyway. You'll wake up and go straight back to hating me."
"I already said I don't hate you," I roll back down and angrily grab the cloth to put on my forehead again. "Why don't you believe me?"
"Three years of angry scowls and lack of conversation?" a sad laugh travels up her throat. "Just a feeling, I guess." I watch her out of the corner of my eye and she slumps even more into her lap. "It didn't help that my father is who he is but that wasn't my fault. I just wanted you to like me." There's another long pause as she shakes her head and sits back up. "Here, let's get you to your room." She turns to me and peels the cloth from my forehead before grabbing my arm. I hesitantly sit up and note the small smile that tugs on the corners of her lips. "Come on, you'll make people think something." I don't realize until the next morning what she means. Undersee has a sense of humor.
I stand up and lean against her, my arm wrapping around her waist and hers around mine. The hall is quiet but I still hear the adults out by the TV. "Hard to walk," I mutter. She nods and forces my door open, pulling me in. When I collapse upon my bed her hand slips from me but I keep my grip, causing her to fall with me. "Sorry."
"It's fine," she says quickly, prying my fingers away so she can sit back up. Her cheeks tint pink as she smooths her dress over her legs. "Now get some sleep, alright?" She doesn't look back up at me as she makes a dash for the door.
"Wait," I wrap my fingers around her wrist just before she moves out of the way. "Stay in here for a little bit." I watch conflicting emotions cross her face and move through her eyes but she nods, resting down on the foot of my bed anyway. "You're good at this."
"Dealing with drunks?" she snorts and rolls her eyes. "You have no idea." She exhales slightly and I watch her chest rise and fall as she breathes. I don't know why I wanted her here. Maybe it has to do with the fact that her presence calms me, or maybe that she really isn't as angry as I had thought. Maybe I'm just more terrified than I plan to admit. Maybe it's the alcohol. The sad truth is that it's probably a combination of all four. "Maysilee was my aunt," she finally says. "I look just like her, apparently. She and Haymitch were allies in the Games together." Another pause as she looks away from me. It takes me a moment before I realize what she's saying. "She obviously didn't make it back." That's what Haymitch wants. To bring her home because he couldn't get her aunt. Like a debt. I know a lot about debts.
"Why tell me now?" I ask quietly. She's obviously upset and it's clear she didn't want to talk about it.
"Because I'm hoping you won't remember in the morning." There's a pause as she turns to look at me, "And at the same time I wish you would."
A/N: And of course, he remembers in the morning. Training starts and he attempts to be friends with Madge, not really wanting their lives to end with any regrets. He doesn't really hate her, just what she stood for. If that makes sense. Hope you're liking my take on the story!