Note: Misspellings of Vienna/Skye's names are intentional. Please do not correct.
A/N: As most of you reading this will know, Boston Williams has now succumbed to the Games, becoming it's twelth victim. While this effectively means I'm out, I'm pleased with how well he did, making it half way and killing more tributes himself than any other tribute has so far, none of whom wanted to go die.
It's taken a long time, mostly because I wanted to get it exactly how I wanted in my head before I started writing, but I think it turned out okay, although there is rather a lot of speech and rather a lot of hugging. This chapter is either Boston's dying fever dream or his 'crossing over' to the afterlife. I haven't really worked out which, so I'll leave it up to you guys to decide.
Be sure to let me know what you think, both of the chapter and the character. Did you hate Boston, did you love him? Either way I hope you think this chapter is a good send off for the craziest tribute the Twenty Fourth Hunger Games saw.
Dreaming My Life Away
The Death of Boston Williams of District 10
I sit. I don't move. I don't breath. I barely think. I just sit here.
The darkness is all consuming. It clogs the air around me and makes me feel sick as I huddle in to an even tighter ball. I don't want to be here. I don't want to be back in this dream.
Please, please, I'm not even asleep. I'm awake. I know I am. Why does it feel like I'm not in control of my own body any more?
There's a light in front of me, hanging alluringly close to my face. Parting the darkness around it slightly, but I don't want to see it. I don't want to look at it at all, not now not ever, but, somehow, I can't look away. All I see is death. Some poor girl struggling against me as I knock her down, stab her, smash her brains in. Then another tribute. The boy doesn't even stand a chance. He tries to hide but my body descends on him and crushes his neck. He gasps out something at me, but I can't hear anything, least of all his pathetic voice. It feels like someone has released a swarm of Tracker Jacker's straight into my head and it's tearing me apart. I can barely hear anything over it save for an ungodly, high pitched laugh. I have to scream to be heard. The me outside my mind is doing just that. The me in here. I can't make a sound. Maybe it's because I'm the one screaming. Are we the same person? We can't be can we? But we are. I know we are. I'm sure that I'm the one out there and the one in here.
I can't hear anything any more. Not over this laugh.
"Aww, how precious. The big dog thinks he can fight back? Come on then! Give me a smile! It'll be funny, watching you smile as you die! So much more interesting than that little sister of yours! All she did was cry! Your ugly little brother didn't even fight back when I slit his throat!
"No." I've been in this conversation before. I'm sure I have. Or maybe this is just the first time I've said this and I'm nuts. No, no, I must have said this before. "NO! YOU LIE ALEAH ARMANI!"
"Oh I do do I?" The voice giggles from just outside my vision. I can't see her but she's close. I know I could beat her. "Really? Cute that you believe your family. Tell me, did you really believe them when they told you how Vienna died?" I can't say anything. My throat runs dry. "You like Roy don't you? You didn't at first. You hated him and he hated you but then, tonight, you talked with him and you made up." I'm too shocked to speak. How did she know, "How did I know? I'm in your head Boston. I'm always in your head. You can't escape me.
"PREPARE YOURSELF!" I roar, swinging out at her with my hands, but I can't find her in the storm of nothing, "PREPARE YOURSELF TO DIE!" She ignores me and just keeps laughing.
The laugh of a snake. It's disgusting. I want to vomit but I'm not sure I can. Can you vomit in a dream?
Am I even dreaming? If I am then why isn't Vienna here, haunting me? Why has she left me on my own?
A sharp pain hits my body and I grunt, falling to the floor and lying still. Looking up I can see it, sticking out of me. A trident. A huge silver trident. I could snap it with my bare hands and I mean to do so, but the pain is too great. I can't even move my arms. I twitch slightly, try to rise, but it's no good. My legs give out under my massive weight and I collapse. I can barely breath. I'm pretty my chest hurts so much. My head hurts. My neck hurts. Everything just bleeds pain. How can I be dreaming? How can a dream possibly feel this painful? HOw cAn a DrEAm FeeL tHiS GOod?
I shudder. No, no, can't think like that. I can't go crazy. I have to protect my family.
No I don't! I tried to protect them! I tried so hard! I helped destroy the competition, ripped it all to shreds! I let them live at least and they fled!
But they fled because I told them to flee.
But they still fled! I gave them a chance! They could have joined me but they didn't!
I was, I was trying to protect them.
And they didn't give a damn! They didn't come back to help me! They didn't do jack! I fought Aleah Armani for them and they didn't come back for me! They left me here, in the corner of my mind, struggling for life. That, that stupid BITCH Elia! I never would be in this problem if not for her!
I wouldn't BE dying!
"i WouLD nOT HavE DiED If NoT foR ThAT StuPiD PreGnanT BiTCh AND hER HUSbanD! ThIS IS ALL THEIR FAULT!" I scream it had the heavens and, this time, manage to rise to my feet, flinging the trident off of me and in to the darkness. It explodes as it sores through the air, cracking in to a million snakes and flying, laughing, in to the distance.
The realisation hits me as snakes rain down upon me.
Gasping, I manage to pull out of the madness, the light in front of me begins to cloud and crack as the laughter of Aleah Armani fills my ears. The light disappears into darkness and my breath stops. Or at least, I become aware that my chest isn't rising and falling any more. I might have stopped hours ago, but it only hits me now.
I'm not breathing.
My head aches for a second and then all the pain disappears, and I'm alone. Completely alone. I shy away from the sound, but I can't move any further back than I already am. It's like there's some invisible wall in between me and everything else. Like I'm completely cut of from the world.
Is this what being dead feels like? So alone? So empty? Why do I have to go through this? I was just- just trying to rescue my family! I didn't want any of this! Why wouldn't Aleah just leave me alone? Why couldn't she just leave me alone? She started all of this! That monster! That snake faced monster!s
"B-Bosty? Is that you? Are you out there? W-Why are you crying?"
She haunts me in my dreams. The shining form of dear, sweet Vienna drifts towards me, a sad smile etched on her beautiful, heart shaped face.
Or maybe I'm the one haunting her. Aren't we both dead now? I don't know anymore. I don't know anything anymore. I used to be so clever. So certain. I was such a good older brother.
"I was wasn't I? Please tell me I was. I did the right thing for you. Didn't I?" My voice cracks as I push out all my sorrow in a huge, all consuming wave, "Being the strong one was the best thing I could have done?" Vienna cocks her head and sighs.
"I-I don't know what your talking about Bosty..." She begins. Her answer fills me with fury and, for a split second, her face shifts, filling with maggots and dust. A quick flick of my wrist and an agonised roar sends her spinning, until she clatters into the ground and lies there, tears hanging in the corner of her eyes, "Please Bosty," She splutters, "Please. Stop crying."
But I'm not crying. I know I'm not crying! Tears flood down from my eye and pool in my mouth as I roar my response at her.
"i'M NoT CRYING!" She shakes her head, the tears now flowing down her cheeks nearly as quickly as they pour down mine. Can't she see I'm not crying? She's an idiot!
I step forwards and my foot collides with her gut, toppling her onto her back. In an instant all of my anger dissapates. I hit my sister. I hit and kicked my sister. My little sister. I sink back to my knees, shaking uncontrollably and allow my poor Vienna to drag herself to her feet. She smiles gently, resting a massive hand on my shoulder. Tears well in my eyes and I begin to croak out an apology, but she just smiles gently, slipping her hand up my shoulder and on to my cheek, tilting my huge, ugly head to stare into her wonderful eyes. They're truly magnificent. Deep, blue, sparkling pools filled with almost as much sadness and regret as my own.
"Silly Bosty," she croaks, her own voice unsteady as she kneels in front of me, wrapping her tiny arms around me, "Why are you crying? Don't cry. Just close your eyes and concentrate."
I say nothing, doing as she says and hushing her as I wrap my own huge arm around her and hold her against me, spluttering and weeping out my fury.
We sit there for what feels like hours, just holding on to each other and shaking as the darkness folds back around us. The last tears hit the ground with an unnatural hiss and turn fizz in to a dark, red gore. I don't know how I know that, with my eyes screwed shut.
Being dead's a funny thing.
Eventually I open my eyes and let go of Vienna, rising to my feet. The scene that confronts of the two of us is striking. It's the Cornucopia where she died. Where I took my first blood. My stomach leaps in to my mouth as I am immediately filled with a whole host of emotions, all of which I haven't felt since my father died. At least not so strongly.
Fear and anger and sadness and regret and PlEasuRE aNd FURY AND JOY AND WONDER AND...
Vienna rests her hand on my shoulder and shakes her head.
"Don't." She tells me, "I don't want to see you like that."
"Sorry." I mumble, my head returning to its normal, clear, emotionless state. I walk to the middle of the Cornucopia, ignoring the corpses, or at least most of them. A pale girl, a lanky, creepy looking teen and a plump boy pass unnoticed. Onyx's body drifts by and I barely even twitch. I miss her. I just realised that tonight. She was a wonderful little sister. Even my own body doesn't unnerve me, stretched out on the ground with a trident sticking out of it. It's not until I come to the center of the thing that I stop, rather ironically, dead in my tracks.
Vaughn Shumway is jutting out of the ground on a spear, blood pouring from his mouth. Next to him lies Oak Loaker, dark hand prints covering his neck, and Tara Tremain, her body split open by a sword and her brains splattered across the floor by a hammerblow. I gulp, realising what I should have long ago.
"I did this." I whisper to Vienna, "I'm a monster."
"Your not a monster, Bosty." Vienna tells me, "You're just a silly guy who made a bunch of dumb mistakes. Is that why you were crying, Bosty? Because I don't mind. None of us mind There's nothing wrong with making mistakes, we all do it. Besides, we're happier like this. Or at least I am. I won't be going back to my mean old parents and that dumb old basement any time soon that's for sure!" She gives a little giggle and I stare at her, my face a picture of confusion.
"Dumb old parents." I growl, "But, father is dead. He died years ago, and we don't even have a basement. How can you remember something like that. How can you say something like that. Mom loved you. Dad loved you. We can't just turn our back on our family."
"Silly Boston," Vienna laughs, kicking absent mindedly at a sword that lies on the edge of the Cornucopia and sending it spinning off in to the darkness, "I'm talking about my parents. You know, mean old nasty people, locked me in the basement to 'protect' me. Yeah right, that worked. Now look at me!"
"Vienna. What are you talking about." I ask, turning to her. Vienne sighs and takes a worried step towards me.
"Please don't call me that," Sienne pleads, "I keep telling you I'm not her."
"Yes you are. I failed you. I couldn't protect you. I couldn't protect my family. I'm useless." She steps towards me again.
"You are not useless," Skenne reassures me, "You're one of the bravest, most craziest people I've ever met, and I'm really glad your here with me. You're not a failure. You didn't fail your family. You just couldn't save me. No one could have." She gives a dry laugh and a single tear trickles down her face, "If anything I'm the useless one."
"No." I cry, my voice louder but just as cold and emotionless, despite how horrible I feel inside, "I should have protected you. I failed you."
"You didn't have to help me!" Skyene revokes me, more forcefully this time, "Your not my brother!"
"YeS I AM!" I can't keep the fury out of my voice this time, and it cracks like a whip, causing the corpses around us to rise and stare at us, slightly annoyed. Skyne runs to me, pulling her hand back with an angry snarl on her normally sweet face. For a moment I think she's going to slap me, and I scrunch up my eyes, expecting the impact, but it doesn't come. Instead an unimaginably soft, cold hand brushes my face, rubbing against my chin, and something light presses down on my feet. I open an eye, staring, for the second time in I don't know how short a time in to Skye's bright, blue eyes. I find it odd looking at them. I've said before that I'm not good with other's emotions and it's true. But right now I don't even have a hint as to what she's feeling. Her eyes look happy, but at the same time so deep and pittiable, so filled with regret. Her face looks pensive and serene but there are tears in her eyes. I can't tell whether they're new or whether they're from the last time she cried. They look new but, if this is a dream they could be either. I have absolutely no idea what my sister is thinking.
No. No, not my sister, my ally. My friend.
"I'm not your sister Boston Williams," Skye says, her tone completely serious, "I'm Skye Azurite. I'd like to be your sister. I'd love to be your sister more than anything in the world, but you already have a sister. A wonderful sister who's still alive." She smiles softly, tears now flowing freely. "She deserves you more than I do. You're a wonderful big brother."
"And you're Skye." I finally tell her, more for the sake of my own sanity than anything else. She already knows all this after all, "Your my partner, not my sister and I'm so sorry. But that doesn't mean I don't care about you, and it doesn't mean you don't deserve better. If anything you deserve better than me. I'm not a great sibling. I forgot who my sister even was for a while. I'm just some crazy. Like you."
She nods her head slowly and sadly and collapses into my arms. Behind me I hear a slow, mocking clap.
"Yeah, well done genius. Took you long enough to figure all that out." I spin on my feet and stare down, watching the base of the Cornucopia. One of the corpses stands there, a knife jutting out of her chest, her hair dangling in her eyes. Onyx. She looks annoyed, just like she always did when she looked at me before, and she walks with a limp.
"Onyx." I smile, "I've missed you."
"Yeah, yeah, me too farm boy," The girl snickers, shaking her head back and forth as an uncharacteristically large smile forms on her face "It's good to see you again. Even if you are a useless, pathetically lazy prat who we only bought along 'cos you looked big and tough!"
Before I can stop her the tiny girl has stumbled up the Cornucopia and wrapped her arms around me, beaming at me as her arms, even scrawnier than Skye's, wrap around my legs. A few minutes pass and then her eyes shoot open, she sticks out her tongue, and pushes herself away from me with a retch.
"That never happened!" She grimaces, pointing a finger threateningly at me as she dusts herself down, "You just imagined that 'cos your a sick freak." I nod and she gives me a thin smile, "Good to know we have an understanding. God, do you know how bleeding boring it is here when only the crazy basement girl wants to talk to you? It's been a nightmare!" She gives another jump and snarls, "Just so we're absolutely clear this doesn't mean I like you. I'd be just as glad to see any one, even that stupid broad from Three would have been a welcome sight..." She trails off and looks away, her face set in a firm glare. "How's Hyre?"
"I don't know. Okay I guess. The last time I saw him he was guarding the supplies.
"Did you hear any cannons?"
"None that I didn't set off. I took out Oak and Tara." Onyx face lights up and she gives me an approving nod and a double thumbs up, "As far as I know he's okay. Shame the same can still be said for that pregnant little cretin."
"Elia?" Onyx says, looking slightly worried as she remembers her old friend, "What did she do?" I indicate to my own corpse, which lies in a corner with a trident sticking out of it.
"She threw a trident through me."
"Nice." Onyx nods approvingly and Skye glares at her, "I mean, harsh. Sorry for your loss. Of yourself of course."
"Same to you I guess." I say with an apologetic shrug.
"Ah don't worry, I bought it upon myself. Literally. Wasn't doing myself any favours by volunteering in the first place. I just wasn't cut out for that heavy shit. I just thought I was. It was best for everyone if I just let go. You know, let Hyre get all the sponsors. Do him a final favour." Onyx says with a slight, airy chuckle. She sounds almost relieved as she says it, and I feel a smile creeping across my face. "So, why were you out there anyway? Why the hell would you leave Hyre all alone like that?"
"We went to find out about these flashes and noises we heard."
"What was it?" Onyx asks, leaning forwards expectantly.
"Some sort of open field," I explain, "With stone slabs sticking out of the ground and these weird mutt things made up to look like us."
"Stone slabs, eh?" Onyx smiles, her eyes flashing with relish, "Like a graveyard?"
"A what." I've never heard that word before.
"You know, where they bury the dead?" Onyx chuckles, rolling her eyes at my lack of understanding.
"Is that what it's called." I murmur, "We don't have them in District Ten. We just leave our dead in the desert."
"Really?" Onyx gulps, "Sounds stupid. I'd hate to just be left once I died. I want a proper burial with a big flashy ceremony and stuff. Sorry, Farm Boy, but just being left sounds really lame. Uh, no offence of course."
"You think so." I guess it does sound kind of bad, I think as I stand there, gently stroking Skye's hair as she holds herself against my stomach. "Do you think it really matters once your dead what happens to you?"
"Hell yeah. As a corpse I find it degrading to be left unburied. I'd feel terrible walking about round here knowing my body was being eaten by vultures or stuff."
"Where is here, exactly." I finally ask, looking around at the Cornicopia which surrounds us.
"Dunno." She replies, still not looking back at me, "Somewhere. Nowhere. I haven't got a clue but I don't think it matters. It's what do you call it, a crossing over point. You can choose to stick here with the pair of us ans these other losers, or you can go back. And you're going back." I stare at her quizically, pushing Skye gently away from her and breaking her grip.
"Go. Why." I confront Onyx, kneeling on the ground and leaning forwards so that my eyes are even with hers.
"You just do. Can't stay here. This place is the goddamn land of the dead, numbskull."
"And I'm dead. What's your point." Onyx smacks me around the face. I raise my hand, more shocked than hurt. I'm dead. Can I even be hurt?
"Damnit Farm Boy! You've got a family remember! A family that needs your help! You have something to go back to!" I shake my head. A week ago I would have jumped at the chance of living and going back to my family. But now I'm not so sure. I haven't seen my family in what feels like forever. Will I even recognise them? I know now that the delusion, the people I believed were my family for a few, glorious, days, are no more than friends, if that.
"What happens if I go back." I ask. Onyx shakes her head and looks away and Skye mumbles something incomprehensible, not daring to look me in the eyes.
In an instant I know, but not because anyone told me. I know what'll happen if I go back.
The images fill my head as the rage begins to resurface.. In my vision I climb to my feet, breathing again, and stalk over to Elia, snapping the now unarmed girl's neck with barely a thought as I storm past, roaring about Aleah Armani. I search for her but can't find her, and eventually fall asleep in the center of the clearing.
I awake in the morning upon hearing a noise from the maze. Run back behind the statues and hide. I see the ridiculously named Anti-Careers descend upon the graveyard. Stick Girl looks sick, like a kid, and for a moment I feel a surge of pity. But that barely matters to me as soon as I notice that disgusting snake slithering along beside them. It's quick for them. I slay with the very weapons they uncover and move on. I spare Aleah for now, pinning her legs to the ground as I leave, just to make absolutely sure she can't wriggle away from me this time.
Next I take down the Careers alliance. I try to make it as short and as painless as I can so I wait till they're asleep and then slit their throats. Everyone else goes easily until it's just me and Aleah left.
This time I don't just cripple her. I remove her legs and watch her bleed out as she curses my name.
The cameras flash and flicker for me all the way home and, as I step out on to the platform of District Ten, I feel about twenty feet tall.
But my heart sinks when I see them. The girl that greets me on the platform isn't my sister. I hug her and smile as widely as I can but I know deep in my heart I've never seen this girl before. I treat her nicely and she grows up and marries a perfectly nice man. I act, for the most part, like everything is normal and I make sure she grows in to a wonderful young woman. But she's not a woman I can love. She's not my sister.
My sister is dead.
I shiver as the visions fade. I can't go back. I can't do this. I know Onyx and Skye want me to help my sister. They think I can help my sister grow but I... I just... I can't...
I don't know whether I want to.
"What about you?" I ask them, stepping back and staring first Skye then Onyx in the eyes.
"Us?" Onyx laughs louder than I have ever heard anyone laugh, and finally looks back at me, a savage grin scrawled across her face, "Why would we want to go back? All Skye's got waiting for her is some creepy parents who want her locked up and all I've got waiting for me is that cotton for brains, sex mad asshole brother of Hyre's! Why the hell would we want to go back?"
"No," I step closer to the pair of them and try my best warm smile. The pair of them stare at me and I cut it out. I don't think I'm good at smiling just yet. "I mean what are you going to do here?"
"Who gives a damn?" Onyx snarls, "We'll wait for the others okay, why not! Maybe we'll play a game of cards! No one cares what the hell we do Boston! The important thing is you're bloody going back Boston!"
"But I don't want to." I almost whimper the words and Onyx's face becomes even more furious. She steps towards me, shoving me backwards and gritting her teeth. I stumble backwards and Skye gives a shout, reaching out for me and gripping my hand, helping me to balance again.
"Nobody cares about what you want Boston!" Onyx says through gritted teeth, "We're telling you you've got what it takes to win, and your damn well going to win, whether you like it or not!"
"I'm not going back." I tell her plainly. The girl snarls, stepping towards me and I kneel down, lifting her by the scruff of the neck and cutting off any retaliation, "I can't go back. My sister doesn't need me any more." Onyx looks like she wants to say something, but the look I give her silences her, and I continue speaking. "I don't want to go back to a District who thinks I'm some freak and a family I don't love. I don't want to be remembered for a murderer. I don't want to be the crazy murderer who has nightmares about his victims for the rest of his life."
"Too late for that," Onyx mutters, before shaking her head and staring at me, "Fine Farm Boy. God I never knew you were so picky. Is there anything you actually do want?"
"Yes." I inform her, "I want to stay here with you. With the people who accepted me when my own District turned away from me. The people who helped me through the Bloodbath. The people who sat with me when we were given our training scores, who wished me luck before the Games started, who payed me attention when no one else would. I don't want to go back to being some vengeful demon, relentlessly tracking that stupid snake through the Games. I just want to be Boston Williams, the Career. I want to have a proper family again. One that I actually care about." Onyx rolls her eyes.
"Fine, Farm Boy," She mutters, "Just don't get all mushy on me. I had enough soppiness from Hyre when he killed me, I don't need you going all puppy dog eyes on me too."
She turns away, muttering something about how stupid I am, and Skye steps towards me, a worried look on her face.
"Are you sure Bosty?" The short blond asks me, "You know your real family's waiting for you back home right?"
"Let them wait." I tell her, "Your not my sister, Skye, but, as far as I'm concerned, you might as well be." The older of the two girls is immediately animated, clapping her hands together with a squeal of delight.
"Oh give me a break..." Onyx looks like she's about to be sick as the pair of us quickly hug, Skye beaming up at me. She looks as beautiful as she did when I first met her, with her glowing face framed in a veil of bright, blond hair.
"Does this mean your not going to call me 'Vienna' anymore?" Skye asks and I nod. "And just to make absolutely sure, you're not going to lock me in any basements." I shrug.
"I don't think so."
"Thank you." She whispers, as Onyx mimes throwing up on the floor and sticks her finger in her mouth.
"For being my brother. I've never had a big brother before. And I think I'd like one." She steps away from me and, for the next few minutes, the Cornucopia is silent. The only sound is the three of us as we trudge around, inspecting the corpses that lie around. Onyx picks up a few weapons and gives them a playful twirl, she even offers to remove the trident from me, but I tell her not to bother. I just want to forget that whole ghastly incident ever happened.
She removes it anyway, when I'm not looking, or maybe Skye did it. I guess I'll never know.
In time the three of us find ourselves, once again, at the top of the pile of weaponry, and Skye turns to me.
"What do we do now then?" I ask, looking around the area as the sun sets far in the distance. I hadn't noticed there was a sun until now. I guess it doesn't matter. If this really is a dream I guess it doesn't have to make sense. The other one's I had never did at least.
"We wait," Skye tells me, "For Roy to show up."
"Why Roy?" I ask, she looks at me like I'm an idiot before bursting out laughing.
"Silly Bosty, you really don't understand any of this do you?" I stare at her dumbfounded and she shakes her head, "I think Roy kind of liked me. You know as in likeliked me. Don't worry, I don't blame you for being confused. It took me a while to figure out too. I mean emotions, really, how are we supposed to understand what's going on in other peoples' heads? Anyway, I can't just leave him. If he dies in the Games, I want to be here to meet him. I'm sure Onyx would do the same for Hyre, wouldn't you Onyx?" Onyx jumps as though she's been shocked.
"What that loser!" She says, waving her hands in front of her as if she's trying to dispell the claim, "I-I don't like Hyre! We're just partners, that's all, nothing more!" She pauses for a while and then her face fixes with a determined smile, "Besides, Hyre's not going to die. There's no way Hyre's going down in those Games! He's going to be the Victor and, if he's not, I'll kill him myself!"
Skye giggles and this time it is I who roll my eyes, before fixing them on the far off sunset.
I guess at the end of the day, I've found my happy ending, a release from all the suffering of my life and the madness that consumed me and the viscious insults of a girl who, now, I can barely even remember. My body's lying in a pit in some hellhole right this moment, but I don't care. At least I'm not suffering like that girl, forced to continue her struggle against those other bastards and so deluded that she believes she loves it. With any hope my family can set her straight. Not my real family of course. My Games family. My better family.
Skye and Roy and Onyx and Jules and Claus and maybe even Elia. My family. I love them all.
A smile crosses my face and it's more genuine and more alive than anything I've had in a long long time. Maybe it's the first time I've ever smiled this widely.
I don't care.
I've found my happy ending.