Chapter three: Reunion
District 13 is more than we thought it could be. The residents of District 12, who were lucky enough to escape the bombs, were led through the woods to District 13. They take good care of us here. After I ran off to scream, cry and hide, they've admitted me to the hospital until I'm stable. I think I finally realize why Annie hated everyone babying her as much as we did. On the inside, she's still Annie, and I'm still Finnick. On the outside, she's nothing but normal and without her, I'm nothing but normal. I wonder if they'll deem me as insane as she is. Maybe then we'll understand each other better than we did before.
"Do you have any rope?" I ask Mrs. Everdeen as she cares for me. She and Katniss's little sister Prim, were gladly welcomed on staff here at the hospital. Both of them are very good at what they do. I see very little resemblance to Katniss in them, except Prim is just as strong willed and stubborn as her sister.
"I'm not very inclined to let you have rope Mr. Odair. What do you want it for?" Mrs. Everdeen asks.
"It doesn't have to be very long of a piece. I need something to keep my hands busy. To remind me that there's something else out there for me. I'm losing my mind knowing that Annie's not okay. They're hurting her, torturing her for things she won't know," I break down into sobs for the ten thousandth time. Mrs. Everdeen moves toward the IV stand.
"Please don't, just get me some rope?" I beg. I curl up into a ball and she leaves the room. A few minutes later there's a small hand on my arm.
"Don't cry Finnick, Annie will be all right," the little girl tells me. That's another thing Prim has that Katniss doesn't. People skills. She holds two inches of rope in front of my face. "Don't give up on yourself. Annie wouldn't want that. She would want you to hang on so that she has someone to come home to," Prim says. She rubs my arm to try and comfort me and stays with me until I cry myself to sleep holding tight to the rope I've been given to keep me company.
District 13 is the leader of the rebel team. With the rescue from the arena, we are now in a District versus Capitol war. Of course, some of the Districts are on the same side as the Capitol, so 13 recruits several people to make videos that would turn all the Districts against the Capitol. They want me to help. I'm not sure what good I'll be since all of my thoughts drift to what they're doing to Annie and what I can do to save her and then revenge. When I realize I'm not alone in my sufferings, and that the Mockingjay herself is as broken as I am, I know I have to keep pushing along.
Katniss is suffering the same as I am, over Peeta. She wasn't aware how much she cared for him until he was gone. Typical girl. Always wanting what they can't have. District 13 needs Katniss to be the rebel star, but her light burned out when she lost Peeta.
Somehow or another, our suffering is what bonds us together. Together, we make the videos that 13 wants to send and thwart the Capitol with. My video is of secrets that I gathered from my days as a Capitol whore. Secrets Snow doesn't know I have against him. Katniss and I are now his two biggest threats. I spend my time in 13 tying knots, keeping my last grip on sanity. My hands are raw and cracked and bleed sometimes, but if it's what's going to hold me over until I have Annie, so be it.
There are videos that the Capitol airs, of Peeta trying to convince the Districts and Katniss to stop fighting because it's not going to get us anywhere. Of course, he's wrong. If the Capitol wins, we're all going to die and something much worse than the Hunger Games is will happen. If the Districts win, there will be peace and no more Hunger Games. The first Capitol video is aired and Peeta looks fine. He looks cleaned up and healthy after the pain we suffered in the arena. Katniss is angered, but not worried. I'm worried. I know my Annie is alive. I'd feel it and know if they killed her. They're still using her against me.
The next video of Peeta that airs, Peeta looks like they've done something to him. He's still being fed lines from the Capitol, but there's something else about him. Every time he mentions Katniss, his eyes gloss over. Katniss notices this too. Peeta warns District 13 that we'll all be dead by morning and after much deliberation, President Coin decides to evacuate the district further underground to designated areas. I've still got my rope and there's not a chance I'm going to be able to sleep. If Peeta looks that worse in under two weeks, there's no telling how Annie must be in comparison.
After one long sleepless night, Katniss crawls her way over to my area. I've been sitting alone tying knots for hours again and my hands are starting to crack and bleed. She tells me how she's discovered what they're doing to her, using Peeta against her, attempting to break her. I don't even nod my head. It's what they're doing to me with Annie. They're using her to get to me. That's why I'm tying knots. Katniss is shocked when she realizes I already know what she's telling me. Somehow, I think knowing that we're in similar situations brings her comfort. I know it's what brought me comfort at first, knowing I'm not alone.
More time passes and more videos to overthrow the Capitol are made. After realizing what they're doing to Peeta, Katniss has a mental breakdown trying to be the Mockingjay. Her hysteria, her breakdown, her words about what they're doing to Peeta, mess with me too. They're everything I feel about Annie, right to the breaking point. I too lose my head.
A few days later when both Katniss and I come to after being sedated and knocked out, they want us to try filming again. They organized a rescue mission after knocking us out and in a few days' time, everyone who went on the mission, Peeta, Annie, Johanna, and Effie Trinket might be back here with us, or as good as dead. I keep my mind set on the idea that in a few days I'll have Annie in my arms again. Katniss is back and stronger than she was before. She's able to make it through the shots they want from her and then I insist that it's my turn.
I sit down on the steps in front of the Justice Building. I'm going to give them every detail they wanted to know and then some. The camera starts rolling and I start spilling secret after secret after secret that women I have slept with have told me. That's how I accepted payment for my forced prostitution. My slavery. No one was supposed to know that's what I was. The only ones who knew until now were Mags and Annie. Mags helped me get through it, and Annie knew because I couldn't keep lying to her about why I had to go to the Capitol for weeks at a time. I thought Annie was going to have another mental breakdown when I told her, but she hugged me, kissed my cheek and told me that while she hated every minute of it, she knew the truth – that I loved her and no one else would ever mean anything to me.
That night, Katniss and I go back to the computer room in special defense where we watch Beetee work away at airing the videos they shot earlier. We're waiting on our loved ones to return to us. That's where we are, in special defense with the hummingbirds, tying knots, keeping each other company, and trying to stay awake, when Haymitch bursts in telling us they've returned. Katniss and I look at each other for a moment before Katniss takes my hand and we follow Haymitch out of the room. My thoughts are all about Annie and I'm sure hers are all about Peeta.
It only takes five minutes to get from special defense to the hospital, but it feels like years. When we finally get there, Katniss and I begin looking around in search for them. Katniss sees Gale and tries to go in the room where he is, but she's pushed back. I would have said something but when I hear my name being yelled by a familiar voice, all train of thought is lost. Annie. I barely have enough time to put my arms out before she fills them. We fall over against a wall. Nothing matters anymore except I finally have my Annie. Plans to let her go any time soon don't exist. She clings to me as much as I cling to her.
Neither of us talk or move until I feel a hand on my shoulder. We look up to see commander Boggs.
"Come on, you can't stand here all night," he says.
"Yes we can," I think to myself. I'm not letting her go so I pick her up and she willingly wraps her legs around my waist as I carry her after Boggs. He directs us to another room where we have to wait for the doctor to examine Annie.
"They'll be here soon," Boggs says smiling at us. When he leaves the room, I spin around with her.
"I've missed you," I tell her as I hug her.
"I've missed you too," she says choking me.
"I'm not letting you go," I say, "Unless I absolutely have to,"
"You'll have to put her on the examining table," Mrs. Everdeen smiles as she walks in the door. Annie kisses my cheek and I sigh before I unwillingly put her down. I take her hand since it's all I can hold on to. Mrs. Everdeen brings her a change of clothes since she was completely naked under the sheet she was wrapped in. I didn't notice. Her green eyes are still bright, but there's terror behind them. Her hair is cropped in odd places at odd angles; there are bruises and scars all over her body. I squeeze her hand as I watch Mrs. Everdeen work. I want to sob because I should have protected her better. I should have done something while I could. I should have made arrangements to have her go into hiding in another District.
"I want to keep you here tonight. You probably could use a good rest. Coin isn't assigning compartments until midafternoon, so you won't have anywhere else to go," Mrs. Everdeen explains when she's done.
"She could always –"
"No Finnick, she'll be assigned her own compartment. One close to yours I'm sure, but it will be her own." I see the blush creep up Annie's cheeks as I was about to suggest she could stay with me. I don't like the idea of her having her own compartment away from me. "You can stay with her tonight though," she pauses and looks at me, "Are you going to be all right?" she asks curiously. I look directly into Annie's eyes.
"I will be now," I say. I don't see the reaction that Mrs. Everdeen has because I'm too busy focusing on Annie. It's true. Everything is going to be okay now that I have Annie.
"Do you want anything for your hands?" she asks, "you and Katniss both," she shakes her head.
"Knot tying is the only thing that's gotten me this far, my hands will be fine," I tell her. The concern in her voice is enough to worry Annie. She sees my hands for the first time. They're rough, scratched, cracked, and bleeding. She turns my hands over in hers.
"They're bleeding Fin," she says. I shake my head.
"It's all right, I don't mind. They'll stop soon," I don't want my hands bandaged. The pain and the scars are what kept me from losing my mind.
"Alright, well, I'll be back to check on you in the morning, try and sleep," Mrs. Everdeen leaves the room.
"I'm sorry Annie," I say. She gets up off the table and walks around to curl up in my lap.
"For what?" she asks.
"For leaving you. I knew all along we were going to be rescued. I should have done something to ensure your safety too. I promised I wouldn't let them hurt you again, but look at you! That's all they've done isn't it?" I wrap my arms around her and pull her close.
"It's okay Finnick," she whispers. I know it's far from okay. She's going to have to recover from this too. She wraps her arms around my neck and nestles her head against my chest. Together at last, this is how we fall asleep.
A few weeks pass and I feel really awful. Katniss probably hates me or something. I have Annie back and she's recovering nicely. Peeta, however, is in far worse condition than any of us imagined he would be. The Capitol did something to him where he is wired to kill Katniss if he sees her. Katniss and I bonded over our loss, but now that I have what I lost, and she has to watch him try and kill her, she must hate me. I don't spend too much time thinking about this because Annie requires a lot of my attention.
She was assigned her own compartment just a few down from mine. It's empty with only her. She doesn't have anything. I don't have much either, but there's more life to my compartment than there is in hers. The first night we're supposed to go to our own compartments, I go over and spend time with her in hers. I'm there until they cut the lights wanting us to all go to sleep. The sudden darkness scares her and she starts screaming. I cross the darkness to her and wrap my arms around her.
"It's okay Annie, it's all right," I say. I hold her while she cries and eventually our eyes adjust to the darkness. By now I'd have lit a candle in my own compartment, but I don't know where any are in here.
"Don't leave me," she whimpers.
"I won't, I'll stay as long as you want me to," I tell her. We make our way to her room through the darkness and I tuck her into her bed.
"I love you Annie," I whisper. I was planning on sleeping in the chair beside her bed but she reaches for my arm.
"I love you too Finnick. You said you weren't leaving," she says.
"I'm not, I was going to sleep in the chair,"
"Don't be ridiculous," she moves over and pats the bed expecting me to climb in beside her. I don't hesitate before I lie down and pull her into my arms for the night.
I've been working up and waiting for this moment for more years than I care to count.
"Annie, if you're not busy, let's go somewhere," I ask as seductively as I can, leaning against the doorframe of her sitting room where she's drawing.
"Where do you want to go?" she asks laughing at my tone.
"I want to show you something,"
"It involves going somewhere?" She looks up at me. She smiles as I nod my head. "Where are we going then?" she asks standing up and crossing the room to me. She wraps her arms around my waist.
"I want to show you the humming birds," it's as close to outside beauty as I'll get for this.
"Humming birds Finnick?"
"That's what I said," I smile and kiss the tip of her nose, "Come on,"
I lead her down the halls to special defense, around to the humming bird room. It takes some help from Beetee to get us there. I had to tell him what I'm up to in order for this to work.
"Are you alright?" Annie asks.
"I'm fine, why?"
"Your hands are sweating. They only sweat when you're nervous," she knows me better than I know myself sometimes.
"I'm fine," I repeat. Just a little further. She looks at me curiously. I know she wants to know what's got me on edge. When we enter the humming bird room she gasps as she takes in the beauty of it.
"It's so pretty," she whispers.
"Look around," I tell her letting go of her hand. She slowly walks forward looking around. I stand there watching her. After a few minutes silence she turns around to look at me.
"What are you doing?" she asks.
"I'm not doing anything except standing here watching you," I smile.
"Finnick," I cross the distance to her.
"You are my entire world. I decided long ago that I can't live without you. I don't want to try living without you again. The few months that you were in captivity and I was thrown into another arena was the worst time in my life. I promised I'd protect you, and I'm still sticking to that. There's just one more thing that I want that would make everything in the world worth something," I've taken her hands in mine and she doesn't break eye contact with me. I pull a small silver band out of my pocket. It's not much, but Beetee and I have been making and designing it for a week now.
"Marry me Annie," She looks down at the band in my hand and then back up to my eyes. She closes my hand around it and for half a second I think she's going to tell me no. But then she's flung herself at me and is kissing me with such intensity that it takes me a moment to realize what happened. I pick her up and spin her around and kiss her back.
"I love you Finnick. Of course I'll marry you," she opens my hand again to look at the silver band. I take her hand and put it on her and she reaches up to kiss me again. Nothing else in the world matters except her and me. We'll finally be together forever.