Remainder doesn't come out of her room for the rest of the ride.
Emery reluctantly joins Matt after trying to talk to Remainder that first afternoon. She doesn't look at Matt for the rest of the night, but she doesn't seem to be mad. Matt has the feeling that she's too tired to be mad. She's got that look in her eyes, the look that says that nothing is ever going back to normal again, and she might as well stop trying to act like she gives a shit because chances are she's probably going to die. Matt feels the same way, but he's trying to hide it, trying to be strong for everyone back home, and it's miserably failing.
When they pull up alongside the Capitol, Agrippa makes sure to come out and give them some instructions on how they are to act when they leave the train. The tributes are heralded almost as war heroes, she tells them, as celebrities, as something to be appreciated and beloved, so they're going to want to keep moving towards the hotel as fast as they can, even though there will be people on both sides of the street where they are walking that are going to be trying to reach out for them and get their autographs and everything they do to movie stars and such in the Capitol. Matt is starting to feel a little more comfortable. He likes the attention. He likes that they are going to help distract him from what he's really going into the Capitol for, and he likes that they are cheering for him. For him. Matthias Garetty from District 5 who never did anything in his life that had an impact, he's going to be put in the Games and there's going to be people that bet on him and it's going to be amazing to get the attention beforehand, where he can see it, where he's not huddled in the woods worrying about whether he's going to be stabbed through the heart or not.
He takes hold of Emery's hand, or at least tries to before she snatches it back.
"What's your problem?" she snaps, eyes narrowed at him, fire dancing in them.
"I...I just thought, you know...since there's gonna be crowds and everything..."
"They're not going to be let past the fucking barrier, stupid. You don't need to hold my hand."
Matt turns away from her. He tells himself he doesn't need this shit, that he's better than this and that Emery's just being a rude bitch, but it's difficult. He's not the type to be rejected often, not even romantically, just for little everyday things, and having this girl who's supposed to be in this with him together act so hostile toward him is confusing him and hurting his feelings. And it sounds so fucking wimpy when he thinks of it like that, like he's this little girl that you have to be so damn careful around because she's so sensitive, and it's not like that at all, he's just hurt. Hurt that she would be like that towards him when they're supposed to be working together.
Well, maybe they're only supposed to be working together in his mind.
After all, only one comes out.
Agrippa has them walk next to each other, though, not hand-in-hand but definitely looking like a tag team, and Matt is aware of every one of his bodily functions as he takes his first step off of the train and into the gleaming Capitol. He doesn't hear the screams and the cheers. He doesn't look around and take everything in. He's too busy just trying not to pass out.
Emery, on the other hand, has the same expression as he does, yet she's hardened. Her face isn't that way because she's trying to cover up the fact that she's scared as fuck. Her face is that way because she's been dealt hardships like this time and time again – maybe not so life-threatening but certainly with the same impact – and she's learned how to hide herself away from the world. How to make them believe that she is a warrior. And Matt admires her for that but at the same time he hates that she is so able to do it and he doesn't have a clue how to do it himself.
Slowly, as he makes his way down the path with Agrippa guiding him and news cameras following from the side, levitating and automated, and he begins to hear the cheering and the crowd feedback and he can hear his name and he can hear his district number. For once in his life, he has something to be proud of his district for. They've had victors, they've had Remainder and the other District 5 victors that live in the Victors' Village, and so the crowd has expectations, and god damn it all to hell if he's not going to make sure that their expectations are met.
The crowd and the applause only lasts for so long, though, and then they're in the hotel. And it's gorgeous. And Matt can't breathe. Emery ushers him along behind Agrippa. She's not going to be swayed by this facade of luxury. She is driven and focused now. Get in, be in the Games, and get out. That's the only thought in her mind right now and even though it should be the only thought in Matt's, too, his senses are bombarded by the beautiful sights around him.
"Be careful," Agrippa warns them, looking back over her shoulder. "You're going to see the other tributes for a minute or two. They come in through the other entrances...like the spokes of a wheel. And they're probably going to try and unnerve you and look all big and tough. Just ignore them. You don't know them and they don't know you, so they can't really pass judgment. Just pretend they're not even there."
She's right. When they get to what appears to be the main lobby of the hotel, the other twenty-four tributes show up as well out of doors situated all around the lobby in a circular fashion. Matt can't help it – he scans them with his eyes. He wants to know what he's up against. He's afraid, but he isn't going to show how afraid.
The majority of them look like him. Average size, average build, nothing really special. The Careers are easy to spot, the male tributes have bigger muscles and seem like running into them would be like running into a brick wall. They have confidence. They know that there is a better chance of them succeeding than anyone. The three female Careers are toned and lean and look like they could pick up any kind of weapon and be a pro at it. They have that Career confidence, too. They know that when it comes down to a fight, they'll be ready and able to take on anyone that comes after them. They know that the other tributes aren't going to all team up against them. That would be making enemies right off the bat, and then they'd be on the Careers' kill list.
Matt circles around to the outlying districts, Eleven, with its dark-skinned tributes and the way that they look like they're practically able to fly, like they could find their way out of any maze given to them. Twelve, looking terrified but standing tall, with their ability to create explosives...sometimes, anyway. Matt knows that people in Twelve don't get trained in their careers until they're eighteen, but some of the previous tributes had studied up beforehand, apparently, because there are quite a few years that dynamite-based explosives have been used, and not many people knew how to operate them. Thirteen, with their–
Matt holds his breath.
Thirteen has always been kind of a strange district, with their export of nuclear devices and weaponry, but these tributes are even stranger-looking. Or feeling, anyway, there isn't an outright physical appearance that is strange. And, as Matt studies them, he realizes it isn't even the female tribute, it's the male tribute alone that's making his blood feel like it's rushing faster through his veins. He's probably about the same age as Matt, a little skinnier, with less muscles and a hardened face, a face that says he knows the shit he's in and he isn't going to go down without a fight. Plain brown hair that forms into a ducktail at his neck, sort of falls in his eyes but doesn't really, and his legs moving restlessly, searching for an escape that will never come. He looks right at Matt with storm-grey eyes and then turns his head, scanning the other tributes as well, and the spell, or what felt like a spell anyway, is broken.
"Don't make a fool out of yourself," says Emery from beside him.
"What are you talking about?"
"I saw how you looked at Thirteen. Like a gaping fish. I swear to God. I don't know what you were thinking but if you're planning on wooing Thirteen's female tribute you have another thing coming."
Matt wants to laugh. He keeps it to himself. There's no romantic attraction, and certainly not to the female tribute. He just finds Thirteen's male interesting, that's all. He's never seen eyes that color before and he's never felt the rush he did when he looked at Thirteen. He doubts it's infatuation. Maybe a sort of respect, since Thirteen is such a different district with a different way of life and different culture and different-looking tributes with different abilities, but that's it. That is all that Thirteen holds for him.
He's pretty sure, anyway.
The escorts all rush their tributes to their floors soon after. Thirteen's is the farthest up, and so Matt watches him disappear into an unoccupied elevator with his female tribute and his escort, and in less than a second, the elevator takes off and Matt is left staring at the empty space it used to be at before his elevator shoots up as well, stopping on the fifth floor and allowing them out.
Agrippa brings them down the hall to where their room will be. "It's very beautiful," she says. "I doubt you've ever seen anything like it in your life. You can touch anything in it, and you can order room service whenever you want to, and you can mess the whole room up if you'd like, and the Avoxes will take care of it." She beams. This is obviously the sort of life she's used to, and Matt's not feeling like it's too bad of a life either. It will be nice to live in luxury for two weeks before he's thrown into a death match. His feelings for this place keep fluctuating. It's hard to hate a place that's so wonderful.
And when they do get into their room, Matt sees she's right. He can't even begin to describe it except that there are more colors than he's ever seen in one place in his life, and the couches look like he could just sit in them and he'd be able to fall asleep right away, and the windows reach from the ceiling to the floor, and there's so much Capitol stuff he can't even keep track of it all. The entire room is sleek and shiny with technology. He goes to the TV, turns it on, watches as the picture fades into view displaying the Capitol news, marvels that it's so much bigger than the one he owns back in District Five, which doesn't even pick up channels half the time and when it does, the signal is so bad he can't make out what's supposed to be happening on screen. He goes to the window, looks out, sees the Capitol spread out before him like the image inside of a snowglobe. He paces the room, picks up everything, inspects the little things, the way everything works, he's so into it. So into everything. And how could he not be, with what his district represents? He's spent his entire life learning how to make things turn on, how signals and frequencies work and how his district is responsible for powering the entire nation of Panem. The Capitol's got much more interesting things to work with than District Five does.
Emery's not as impressed. Sure, she's surprised. You can see it in her face. But she keeps her composure and strolls into the room, passing the luxury couches and the mini-fridge that Matt's sure is stocked with free food and beverages, passing the Avox servants who stand quietly at the corners of the room, their tongues ripped out, their heads down, and she goes upstairs into what Matt assumes are their sleeping quarters. He doesn't see her again until dinner.
He wonders if she's being too careful or if he's not being careful enough.
"Now this will be tough," Agrippa tells them at dinner, where there's so many foods laid out on the table that Matt doesn't know where to begin. He doesn't even know the names of half of them. Meats, breads, pastas, desserts, drinks in every color of the rainbow. Agrippa's still talking but Matt is only half-hearing her. Finally, she sighs in exasperation and says, "Alright, alright, start eating. But I expect you to listen to me as you're eating, alright? This is important stuff! You're going to have to remember this in the arena."
Matt's never been starving except for the one year there was the famine, but this food is a different story. As soon as he puts the first bite in his mouth, he feels like he could eat forever. It fills his stomach and makes him want more and more because it fills him so satisfyingly. It makes him feel like once he's done this meal, he's not going to want anything for the rest of the week.
He does make an effort to listen to Agrippa, though, because he wants to be remembered, but not as a fallen tribute.
"The arena is designed differently every year. So there's no guarantee that you're going to have any clues about what it's like. Even if you watch the Gamemakers for clues...they're probably not going to give any. So you have to stay on your toes! Anticipate everything and anything. It could be a desert, it could be an ocean. No one has any idea except the Gamemakers themselves because they program it. And don't try to weasel it out of them, either. They won't go for that, and if they do, they'll figure out some way to get you back when you're in the Games. And they can do a lot of horrible things, trust me."
Emery nods in understanding. "So what you're trying to say is...get the Gamemakers on our good side, but not in any way that's going to make them suspicious of what we're trying to do so that they don't come back later on and try to kill us."
"Exactly. That's where the score comes in, too. The score they give you after you perform for them." Agrippa takes a sip of one of the many multicolored drinks spread around the table. She doesn't get any on her face, unlike Matt who accidentally let it spill over the sides of the cup and down his face when he tried a full cup on the train. "If you get a good score, they're really going to like you. You know that already from watching the Games on your television every year, but I'm just reminding you. Unfortunately, a high score also means you're going to be a target for the Careers. Sort of a 'lesser of two evils' thing. I'd go for siding with the Gamemakers, considering they control the arena and the environment around you, but I'm not going to tell you what to do. You might think it's a better idea to stay out of the Careers' minds and take your chance with the Gamemakers. I'm not stopping you. It's–"
"Who do we ally with?"
Emery stares at Matt with poison eyes. "You really need to mind your matters," she snaps.
"I just want to know," Matt tells her.
Agrippa doesn't make any motion that says she agrees with one side or the other. She just looks at Matt with the same expression she's had all along and she says, "Allying is your own responsibility. I'm not going to tell you you should ally with one district or another. That's your mentor's job. She's been in the Games. She knows which districts are trustworthy and which ones aren't. If you asked me alone, though, I'd try and stay as far away from the Careers as possible. They don't seem like they're the best to ally with, especially since there are six of them and they have to turn on each other sooner or later. If you're not the strongest of them..." She gives Matt a once-over, making it painfully obvious that his skinny frame and lack of muscles don't bode well for him. "...then you're going to regret teaming up with them. It just means that you managed to escape their wrath when really you could have picked them off from a distance and made it easier for yourself. But I don't know the tributes every year. It could be a good idea to team up with them this year." She shrugs. "I'm really not sure."
"Matthias wants to team up with the girl from District 13," Emery says in distaste, looking at Matt out of the corner of her eye.
Agrippa sits up very straight, even straighter than she had been sitting before – which is painstakingly straight as every female in the Capitol is expected to sit, and even some of the males. This is a surprised sort of straight, though, and Matt is suddenly worried, tightening his fingers on his fork. Is there something wrong with allying with District 13? Emery doesn't know the truth of why he's even interested in District 13, and he's not about to say it's because the male tribute makes him kind of lightheaded and he doesn't know why. That sounds like the stuff in faery tales, not here and now. He'll keep it to himself.
"Oh," their escort says. "The female tribute?"
Matt doesn't say anything. He hates lying, so he lets Emery lie for him without her knowing it. She nods, and Agrippa looks almost relieved. Which doesn't make sense, because the male tribute from 13 doesn't look like he's anything special. To anyone but Matt, anyway.
"13 isn't a very good district to associate yourselves with," she continues.
"How come?" Not like Emery wants to team up with them, but Agrippa's got her intrigued now. Why does District 13 invoke such a reaction in someone who's trained to appear calm and collected at all times? Matt just wants to team up with the farthest outlying district even more now that they make his escort nervous. They must be very powerful if it's not recommended to team up with them. And bloodthirsty too, maybe. But Agrippa said she didn't know anything about the tributes this year? Could she be lying? Or maybe she's telling the truth about every tribute except for 13's tributes.
Agrippa sighs heavily. "13 just isn't safe. They've always been strange, and I have a bad feeling about them this year. The male tribute's eyes are just...wrong. He looks like he's up to something. I really would stay away from them if I were either of you." She gives them a warning glance and continues her meal in near-silence except to answer the rest of Emery's questions. Emery's moved on. Matt is still stuck thinking about the district no one dares talk about and wondering what the male from 13 holds that frightens even people from the Capitol.