Everything will be alright
Written by Loverly Souris
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After trying to fall asleep without any success for two hours, Beetee gave up and now he is staring at the ceiling, while the gears in his brain just cannot stop clacking. He has always believed that nothing can bring him down anymore – that he has lived through everything a man of his age can. They separated him from his parents, they monopolized his life and created a genius from him using his congenital intelligence. When he was 15 years old, twenty-three other children had to die in the 46th Hunger Games so that he could live. After that, they slowly took away everything from him, though he has to admit, by that time, he didn't really have anything to treasure. He was empty.
But then, the unimaginable happened. He is here again, he is lying in the same bed as twenty-nine years ago and his stomach clenches the same way whenever he thinks that he has to return to the arena. Although Plutarch swore their plan is perfect and he is going to save all of them in time, a threatening dark cloud of the worst scenarios is lurking above his head. What if a bug arises in the program? What is the guarantee that they will not discover the Head Gamemaker's true colours and they will not kill all of them in the arena out of revenge? He is sure that they would definitely not go easy on them.
He doesn't fear his own life. It is more worthless than a broken screw, and he doesn't believe Plutarch when he says that he is a very important member of the team. He doesn't care what will happen to him – he is much more worried about the woman who came with him to the Quarter Quell.
Beetee turns onto his side and stares at the curtain wavering tenderly in the night breeze. The delicate motions of the transparent material unearth another picture in his mind – a memory, which successfully eases the knot in his stomach.
A snow-white, simple dress, even brighter than the sun as she steps into the spotlights. A fragile waist, the thin skirt following its still too bony shape, falling down like a cascade to pile up by her feet. A faint, tense smile that never reaches her eyes frozen with pain.
He peels away the cocoon of his blanket and sits up. Reaching for his glasses on the bedside table, he dips his bare feet into the soft carpet and walks to his door. He is not making a sound as he passes the corridor until he gets to the other bedroom. Then, he enters.
Wiress is sleeping deeply on her large bed, covered up to her nose with her quilt, as usual. Beetee tiptoes to her and kneels down onto the floor, trying to get as close to her head on the pillow as he just can without disturbing her. He doesn't move, he only watches his companion silently contemplating.
It's incredible how peacefully she can sleep.
Wiress' eyelashes tremble gently as she is breathing, the wrinkles on her forehead are smoothed by her dreams. She looks ten or more years younger than she actually is. Her curly black hair was arranged into a loose but elegant bun with several locks sticking out to match her costume for the opening ceremony – now, almost as if being in that hairdo has been tiring for them, her messy ringlets are resting on the pillow beside her head. For a slight movement, a small curl falls onto the woman's forehead and Beetee carefully reaches out to brush it away behind her ear.
Déjà vu. It hits him that this situation is hauntingly similar to a night seventeen years ago, when he was kneeling beside Wiress' bed like this, in this same room with the same worries feasting on him. Those days have been burnt into his memory for eternity.
The rain is pouring down, but only those who are standing on the main square have to bear with it – the young people and their relatives waiting for the Reaping. The stage, on which Beetee is sitting next to the mayor and the other mentor, is covered. The man from the Capitol, Rufus – who is wearing a very colourful suit and behaves far more cheerfully than he should – is digging in the girls' glass bowl, then draws a slip of paper and reads out a name.
From the group of the smallest children, a soaking wet little girl with fiery red hair steps out and starts to walk towards the stage with trembling legs. The silence that follows her is heavy with hopelessness and pity.
However, as soon as she reaches the steps, a hand from the crowd shoots into the air and Rufus stops the girl with a wave. "Oh, wait a second, it seems that somebody wants to ask a question over there!" he beams and gestures to the owner of the hand to speak. "Go ahead, darling!"
A girl, eighteen years old and very short, steps forward. Her face framed with wet dark curls is almost deadly pale, but her black eyes are determined as she looks directly at the chaperon. "I would like to volunteer as the tribute girl," she says politely. Her voice is quiet, but in the thick silence it's like she is shouting even in the rain.
Rufus is staring at the brave girl for a second, since a volunteer in District 3 is a very rare occurrence, but he quickly abandons his surprise and grins contentedly. "Marvellous! What an exciting twist! Come here, darling, and you, Armonie, go back to your place," he says to the little girl still shivering with fear, who then runs back to her group and disappears among the others.
Beetee follows the volunteer with his eyes, whose face doesn't betray a single emotion while she is walking towards the stage and steps up the stairs. As she stops by the podium, almost in front of him, he can feel the sweet scent of rain that soaked itself into the girl's greyish dress, hair and skin. It fills his head with pleasant dizziness for a long moment, only to be dragged back to the earth when Rufus asks the name of the new tribute girl.
"Wiress Creever," she answers quietly.
Wiress' parents were killed by Peacekeepers. On that night when she turned five years old and they wanted to take her away to the Sector of Talents, her mother was defending her with her own body while his father wounded one of the soldiers severely with a small laser knife. They shot him in the head without further ado, and seeing this, the woman went mad with shock and pain – she tried to fight the Peacekeepers herself, but she had the same fate as her husband.
The Sector. An isolated place which is designated to "take care" of naturally intelligent children, turning them into useful adults in service of the District and the whole nation of Panem. Some people regard it a huge honour and give their children up willingly, happily even – but the majority would do anything to protect the young ones. Beetee is among those, who know the Sector of Talents well. Far too well.
Everything in that place was aimed at crushing Wiress. The strict schedule, the teachers, the constant working didn't allow her flourishing mind to blossom, and she grew up into an introverted young woman with a quiet voice, who guarded her thoughts like a safe. But inside, she was so strong that none of these could make her crumble.
It was the Games that cut a deep wound into her heart and mind. The Games in which she took the place of the little girl so that she wouldn't have to live through the massacre.
As she was using a hiding technique, setting up traps here and there, but otherwise not showing much of herself, the audience found her cold-blooded and cruel, so they didn't like her even despite of the volunteering. In their eyes, Wiress was a silent murderer, who let the others kill each other while she was hiding somewhere, deceiving everyone including the Gamemakers.
However, they didn't see Wiress right after the Hunger Games.
Her black eyes are glued onto the ceiling. Not even the ghost of an emotion lingers on her face. She doesn't react when Beetee steps into her hospital room. She doesn't turn to him when the man sits down onto the chair next to her bed. She doesn't say a word when she feels the warmth of her mentor's hand on her thin, tired fingers.
"Wiress…" Beetee whispers, and the girl finally looks at him like she has just noticed him. He is frightened by those lifeless eyes, but he gathers himself and gives her an encouraging smile. "I'm glad you are here."
Then, he lifts Wiress' fragile hand to his mouth and kisses it carefully.
This gesture contains everything he cannot express in words. Even more.
His train of thoughts stops abruptly as his gaze meets a pair of dark eyes. Wiress pulls the cover down from her face and yawns. The wrinkles return to her forehead. "You can't…?"
"Sleep?" Beetee finishes the question for her. "No, I can't." Then, after a short pause, he adds kindly. "But you were sleeping quite soundly."
Wiress smiles faintly. "While I still can…"
Her mind, heart and talent were like a brilliant glass orb that the Sector could not destroy, only scratch and crack – the Games shattered it without mercy. Psychologists were trying to mend it for long months, glue the pieces together, but it was all in vain. She was so deep in depression that nobody could pull her out.
Nobody, except Beetee. Since the Games, the man is watching Wiress' every step, never leaving her for a second. Though the woman can only communicate in unfinished half-sentences, Beetee always knows what she wants to say.
Once Wiress asked him why he was doing all this. Beetee didn't answer, just stroked her curly head. Of course, he knew it very well. It's only natural to do everything for the one you love the most, isn't it?
"What are you thinking about?" Wiress asks quietly and Beetee swims back to the surface of his thoughts.
"Nothing. I just remembered that dress you were wearing for your crowning."
"That white one…?"
"Yes. The curtain in my room reminds me of that dress."
Wiress smiles dreamily. Although she can't recall what Caesar asked her during the interview, or what her answers were, or what they ate on the reception afterwards, she remembered every tiny detail about the dress – it was simple, but the most beautiful piece she has ever worn.
For some minutes, they are silent, then it's Wiress who speaks again. "Seventeen years ago, I woke up in the same way, to you…"
"Kneeling beside your bed?" Beetee laughs. "Yes, it indeed rings a bell. I was very nervous and I felt like I had to check on you. And you were sleeping so sweetly at that time too, I immediately calmed down."
"But now, you're not my mentor, you're my…"
"Companion." The man reaches out to brush away that stray lock again, and then he cups her face with his hand. As Wiress snuggles into his palm, she smiles, this time directly at him.
Beetee lets out an almost inaudible sigh. This smile drags him out of the deepest holes and pushes him into a burning inferno at the same time. This smile is only his, it is for him, nobody else can see it. Every time she gives him these smiles he feels an urge to tell her everything, all the thoughts swirling in his head, all the emotions storming in his heart.
However, he knows that Wiress wouldn't be able to bear it. She would break down under the pressure of his intense feelings – but she has no clue about them, and it is alright this way.
Light touches now and then, rarely a few friendly kisses on the forehead, smiles, kind words – he has to settle for these gestures. They quench his thirst temporarily, but after a short while, he falls back, and he always wants much more than ever. Just like a Morphling.
It seems that Wiress' thoughts fly away again, because she doesn't react. Beetee is about to open his mouth and start guessing what she wants to say, when, without warning, tears start to gather on her eyelashes. The small smile is still there on her lips, though. It melts away gradually, painfully.
No… please, don't cry.
He can feel some wetness pooling in his own eyes too, so he stands up quickly stepping to the other side of the bed, where he pulls away the blanket and lies down next to Wiress. He hugs her from behind, his arms locking her so firmly to his body like he would never let her go. He buries his face into the black curtain of her hair and lets a single teardrop fall.
They heard when Plutarch swore to save them. They heard all his promises. But they both know – it is not carved in stone that they will be able to get out of the arena alive.
"I don't want to go back…" Wiress whispers between her quiet sobs. Beetee's chest tightens.
What can he possibly say in this situation? He is tortured by the same fears as well – how can he give strength to the most important person in his life like this?
"It's okay" he says hoarsely and caresses the woman's tear-stained face with the back of his hand. "I won't let anything happen to you. Everything will be alright." He swallows the pain in his throat and, on a tone with as much carefreeness as he can muster up, he adds. "I've already got you out of there once. It will be a piece of cake for the second time."
For a moment, he can hear a chuckle mingle into her weeping, but despair regains her heart almost immediately. She is shaking in his arms like a fragile bird. Like a canary.
"Wiress, do you remember that little song about the yellow canary and the blackbird?" Beetee asks as a sudden idea about how to make her feel better hits him. Wiress sniffles once more and after a long minute, she starts to sing softly.
In District 3, all the nursery rhymes and bedtime stories are all about birds, since it is so rare to see one in the labyrinth of tall buildings, factories and blocks of flats wearing thick capes of smog. In this song, a blackbird independent as the wind falls in love with a canary that is locked in a cage and left out on a balcony. The blackbird returns to the canary again and again, bringing her food, taking care of her. However, one day there is a fire in the building almost killing both of the birds, but the blackbird gathers all his strength and breaks the lock on the canary's cage letting her free. In the end, they fly away towards the azure sky.
Wiress' singing breathes life into the dark room, dressing the black and grey silhouettes into pastel colours. She isn't an outstanding singer, but her voice is soaked with the pureness of her heart that makes everybody cheerful and calm, although it is meant to be solely her own cure. Her own method to chase away the nightmares.
She always sings, or at least hums. While she is slouching over her desk, sketching a draft of her latest invention. Wearing a pair of large safety goggles, her hair tied up and hidden under a head scarf, assembling a tiny robot. During housework, reading, eating. Of course, before going to bed, too. Sometimes, she is even humming while she is walking on the street. Whenever she sings, nobody has to finish her sentences for her.
As Beetee is listening to Wiress, he can feel that he is starting to calm down as well. His heartbeat melts into hers, they are breathing simultaneously, like they are one single body instead of two. The song slowly dissolves into the silence of the night, and as soon as the last notes leave Wiress' lips, she falls asleep again.
Beetee cannot move, but he doesn't even want to. His arms tighten around her waist and he closes his eyes. An oath leaves his heart – an oath that, no matter what is the cost, he will protect this woman he loves.
Everything will be alright.
Author's Note: Time flies, it's been a year since I uploaded my last story, but here I am again. :) Although it might not have any significance, because this is my first fic for 'The Hunger Games', so you probably don't know me. Nice to meet you. :)
If you liked my story, please review. It would make me happy.