A/N: So, I should start off saying this is my first fanfiction in almost ten years. I used to write them all the time when I was little (of course, I had NO idea it was called fanfiction then, I just liked to rewrite other people's stories from the way I saw things.) I guess this is where I ask you to not be too harsh, and by that I mean, CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is encouraged, immature flaming for reasons that make no sense are not. And to explain, the story I'm developing picks up from the moment Mockingjay ends. The epilogue just wasn't enough. There was so much of a story left to tell.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, Suzanne Collins, you luck bitch.
"You love me. Real or not real?"
I tell him, "Real."
And then everything went black. There is something so strange about not knowing that you haven't been conscious for any span of time. I had had plenty of experiences with this feeling since the first Games, and every time I hated the feeling afterward.
All at once, everything turned from black to blue. I spent a long time drifting in a sea foam ocean of warmth and soft rocking waves. The water lapped over me, washing away everything that had happened. Then there was peace. I was convinced that this was why the people of District 4 loved water so much. It was a wonderful feeling. I felt a tight prang in my chest. District 4. Annie. Finnick. Poor, poor Annie. Who was left to bring her back when her mind wondered to another world?
Maybe it was better that there was no one left to bring reality crashing down on her. Would she really want to come back now that the love of her life was gone? The Capitol had taken him from her. I had taken him when I drug him into the slaughter that was my fabricated mission to kill Snow. It was my fault.
"Katniss?" The familiarity of the voice seeped into my unconsciousness. It took me a long time to place the voice to a face, much longer than it should have. My mind was moving in slow motion, like a rusty engine trying to turn over. It was a struggle. My head throbbed painfully. "Katniss?"
I felt my brows pull together, but I couldn't muster the strength to open my eyes. They felt glued shut. There was an incredible burning ache running through my entire body. The seconds snailed passed like hours. I was becoming more and more aware. The air around me was a few degrees too cold, but not enough to cause me to shiver.
"Katniss?" The emotion in the voice wrenched at my heart. It was full of uncertainty and sadness. The voice belonged to Peeta.
My eyes shot open. The light that flooded my irises blinded me. I almost slammed my eyes closed again. I couldn't though. I had to fight through the time it took for them to adjust. That was another thing that I noticed that seemed to be harder than usual. After a few moments, I was able to make out Peeta's features. They were still heavily blurred.
"Katniss!" His tone immediately changed, the shock and relief in his voice confused me.
I frowned at him, blinking furiously trying to clear my vision. It did very little to help, but I kept doing it anyway. "Yes, me. Peeta, where am I?"
I pushed myself up and looked down in my lap. White thin sheet, white bedding, white medical bracelets, and uncomfortable hard mattress… I was in the hospital.
I tried to think back and pinpoint an incident or event that might have landed me here. A hunting accident maybe? I didn't remember anything. As I racked my brain, an explosion detonated behind my eyes, causing my hands to shoot up to my temples and my finger nails to burry themselves in the skin there.
Where is the morphling when you need it?
No trying to remember, at least for the moment.
"Peeta?" I looked at him questioningly once the pain had dulled to manageable. I was relieved to notice that he was less blurry to me now. I could see him much better. I could make out the relief, happiness, and sorrow in his clear blue eyes. Sorrow? Why was sorrow hiding there? "Peeta…what happened? What's wrong?"
"What do you remember?" He answered my question with a question of his own.
Remember? Wasn't that what I just agreed with myself not to do?
I couldn't respond, instead I busied myself with taking in my surroundings. And immediately wished I hadn't. Peeta and I weren't alone in the run-down looking hospital room. My eyes found first my mother, who was staring at me. Her eyes were impossibly wide, and full of disbelief. She looked older, thinner than she had been when I had seen her last in 13. My eyes moved to the only other person in the room. Her small hands wrapped in my mother's, but her eyes were on me. She mirrored every emotion that was currently assaulting me, it seemed.
She couldn't be sitting there, staring at me. I watched her die. I watched her body ignite when the second round of parachutes went off and killed the Capitol children. I watch the parachutes blow her out of my life. It was then that I knew something was terribly wrong. I was dead or dying.
Or I had finally cracked. The Capitol and Coin had stolen the sanity of the Mockingjay.
My throat was dry. It was so dry that her name caught in it, becoming a tangible thing. A lump. Somehow, after all the terrible things I had done, all of the people I had hurt… I still managed to make it back to my little duck. The little piece of me that I could never exist without.
"P-Prim?" I couldn't have stopped the tears if I had tried, so I didn't even bother trying. I launched myself from the bed. Reading my mind, Prim did the same. We collided, tangling each other in our arms and holding on for dear life. My legs refused to hold my weight, so we collapsed to the floor. I could hear Prim's breathy sobs at my ear. The sound broke my heart and made me inexplicably happy simultaneously. Hearing Prim's voice, something I never thought I would experience, for the rest of my days, made me feel like I was alive again.
"I didn't think you were going to wake up!" Prim cried, I was reminded how fragile my little sister was at heart. She was so beautifully pure. I pushed the confusion away for just a few more moments, soaking up the here and now before something come up and ruined it. I stroked Prim's hair. She didn't have it braided back. This was a rare thing for any female Everdeen. We always braided our hair out of our way. Her hair was thick and curly in my fingers. I didn't want this to end, but I turned to Peeta. When our eyes locked, he nodded. I pulled away from Prim gently.
"I watched you die." We all flinched as I said the painful words, looking in Prim's face. I forced myself to harden. I had to hide the vulnerable Katniss, in case this was a Capitol trick. "How are you here?"
"It didn't happen, Katniss." It was my mother who spoke. I glanced at her, but returned my gaze to Prim, who hadn't waivered. Could she be a Capitol mutt, sent to kill me? Could this be Snow's final torture for me? To have my sister kill me?
"What do you mean, it didn't happen?" I said, not at all convinced. I know what I saw. I know what still haunts my nightmares.
"What is the last thing you remember?" Peeta repeated, he had moved from his chair beside the hospital bed. I could feel him behind me, and I wanted to turn and keep him in sight as well, but I was too worried that Prim will morph into something horrendous and decapitate me.
"Putting an arrow in Coin's skull." I lie, not wanting to admit that the last thing I remembered was admitting my love for Peeta. Especially since I'm not sure I can trust him. I felt like I was back in the first Games, only this time… the people I was fighting to return to are the Capitol's traps.
"That never happened." Responded Finnick's voice.
Oh, this wasn't good. Prim and Finnick. Two people I watched die. Finnick walked towards me, leaving a seemingly sober Haymitch standing at the door.
I untangled myself entirely from Prim becoming aware of how bad the situation is going to be when they all converge on me. I don't stand a chance. It was very clever of the Capitol to use the faces of the people I love to break me. I don't know how they managed it; probably the same way they used to dead tributes eyes for the wolf-mutts. The only way the situation would have been worse was if Gale came through the door next. I tried to get to my feet, but they still couldn't hold my weight. Peeta dropped to my aide, but I shoved his hands away from me. My hands groped helplessly at the floor, I looked around frantically for something, anything.
Unable to find anything, I turned my attention back to Finnick. "You," I pointed at him, as if he could possibly be confused about who I was referring to. "You were decapitated by the lizard mutts during my mission to kill Snow. I saw it!"
"Katniss," Peeta said gently. "You never went on any missions. You've been unconscious for eight months."
I turned, frowning at him. "No, I haven't. Peeta, you know I haven't, you were there! The tracker jacker venom must have messed up your memory."
"No, it's not his memory that's messed up, sweetheart. " Haymitch left the doorway and was moving toward me. I noticed something about Haymitch that made my stomach drop, his face was different. There was something missing. The thin white scars from my fingernails tearing down his face were nowhere to be seen. "It's yours."
I just kept shaking my furiously pounding head in denial. This couldn't be right. It had to be a trick. Amidst my head shaking, Peeta had managed to secure my hand in his own. He guided it to the back of my neck. My entire body froze when my fingers came in contact with it. I don't know what it was, but I knew it didn't belong there. I gingerly felt it. A small round hole lined in some sort of medal, almost like a….plug.
"You've been dreaming." Peeta said somewhere near my left ear.
My jaw fell and I wasn't entirely sure it managed to stay part of my face. Honestly, that was the least of my worries. I looked hysterically from face to face. Everyone was watching me with a tense look on their faces. I attempted to get to my feet, and this time my legs managed to support me. Good. I started to walk. And I kept walking until the room was behind me and I was in a hallway. The hospital looked very old, not like the one in 13. I had no idea where I was, but I needed to get out of room. I couldn't have the faces of people who I was just coming to terms with losing looking back at me.
After a few feet, I leaned against a wall and slid myself to the ground. My head cradled in my hands, I stared at the cracked tiles and my bare feet. Now I knew how Peeta felt, to have someone go in a rewrite your life. Or did he feel like that at all? Was that all a dream too? I should be happy. If this was true, then people I love weren't dead at all. I should be celebrating, but the shock was too deep… the somber atmosphere made celebration seem wrong.
I heard the footsteps approach me, and felt myself tense. Couldn't they just leave me alone until my mind didn't threaten to kill me? I slightly turned my head and caught sight of his blue eyes. Of course, he could never leave me alone, not by choice. I felt his body lower to sit next to mine. A strong steady arm enveloped me in the warm security of his chest. I felt a bit of the tension ease, and for the first time ever…I let my guard down.
"Peeta, what happened?" I murmured into his chest, wanting nothing more than to cry but my tears hardly ever came when I wanted them to. Only when I had no chance of stopping them.
I felt his breath in my hair when he spoke next, "I'm still figuring that out myself. I need you to tell me what you think happened."
I eyed him warily. "I don't even know where to start. When should I expect things to no longer be real?"
"Think back to the Quarter Quell, do you remember how that ended?" He asked, his voice sounding a thousand miles away.
The Quarter Quell felt like a lifetime ago, but I could remember it very clearly. It was something you didn't have a habit of forgetting. Any time spent in the arena is branded into your brain for the rest of your life. "Beetee sent Johanna and I to run the wire to the water, Johanna attacked me and got the tracker out of my arm… I shot an arrow at the field and it exploded."
Peeta nodded, "After that?"
I winced, revisiting the thought hurt as much as the first time it happened. "They saved me… and left you."
"No," Peeta shook his head, sadly, "I wish that were the case, but the Capitol got us both."
"So then, what happened, after they captured us?" I asked despite my better judgement. But what was I supposed to do? I was going to find out whether or not I wanted to.
"District 13 tried to save us, but only managed to get Finnick and Beetee." Peeta said slowly, I think he was giving me time to let everything sink in. "They managed to get me before they could get you."
I shook my head. I remembered bringing down the Capitol. I was the Mockingjay. Something was eating away at me in the back of my mind. There was something I needed to know. "Is Snow still alive?"
The silence was all the answer I needed. That evil man was alive.
"Coin?" I persisted.
Peeta's eyes were glued to me, darkening with every question. How much of what I thought I had done, had not been done?
"I need to know what you think has happened, Katniss"
I tried to swallow the anxiety the bubbled up my throat at the idea of having to recount every horrible moment. The lump there must have been a brick.
"Alright." I looked around the hall, a part of me desperately searching for an escape, but even if I could find one my legs were weak and unreliable. I couldn't escape."I'm going to need some water."
Peeta nodded, moving to go get one for me. Before he managed to get to his feet, a glass was in front of my face. I looked at the glass, then the hand holding it. I travelled my way up the arm, to the shoulder and finally the face of the person offering me the water. Haymitch. A sober Haymitch.
"Alright, sweetheart, story time."He settled himself on the other side of me.
I told them everything. It took a very long time to tell them. I broke down again, and again. I told them about arriving at District 13. All of its conformity and schedules and how much I hated it. Peeta's cease-fire. I told them about the deal I made with Coin for the victor's immunity. The attack in 8. Everything. My voice was hoarse when I got to Peeta and I's reunion. I couldn't stop though. Now that I had begun, I had to get it all out. I told them about his hijacking. I ran off to 2. The Nut. The mission. It was almost impossible to force the words out as I spoke about the fallen of our Star Squad. Leeg 2, Boggs, Mitchell, Messalla, Jackson, Leeg 1, Castor, Homes…Finnick.
I nearly went into hysterics when I tell them about Finnick. I used every ounce of strength to pull myself back from the ledge that I was dangling dangerously on.
"I- I have to stop for a minute." I stammer, bringing the cool glass to my lips and notice it's shaking. I blame my emotional and physical fatigue on my 8-month coma and silently dare anyone to think otherwise.
Haymitch and Peeta say nothing. They both sit quiet and still as statues as I talk. At times I wonder if they've remembered to continue breathing, or if they've learned to sleep with their eyes open. The three of us sit without speaking for a long while. I haven't seen my family or Finnick since I left the room, though I am sure they must have left at some point. Finnick no doubt shuttled them away to keep them from hearing the nightmarish tale I had to tell. I wondered if later he would make me retell it to him. I pushed the thought away almost immediately. Without question, I could not tell this story again if my life depended on it. It hurt too much.
When I forced myself to continue, it was even harder to make the words leave my throat. I know why. With every spoken word, I'm crawling closer to the one incident that may kill me to revisit. My little duck, my sister, Prim. Somehow I make it there, to that event. I'm standing there after the first round of parachutes detonate and then nothing. The words stop. My mind shuts down and my throat refuses to issue another sound.
"The second round went off." Haymitch says knowingly. It is no question. He can see it in me, they both can.
My head inclines slightly and I fixed my eyes on a speck of dirt on the wall across from us. I had to stare at it intensely to keep the visions from clouding into my mind.
"Katniss…" It's Peeta's voice, but I couldn't look at him in that moment. I am physically unable to turn to look at him, so I continue to stare. "It didn't happen. Prim is fine."
I was vaguely aware that Haymitch said something, but the words don't make sense. I'm busy mulling over the words Peeta has just introduced to me. Repeating them like a mantra. I wanted to spend the rest of my life living by those words.
All at once, I said to the wall, "And then, I shot Coin in the head… and Snow drowned in his own blood. Happily ever after."
There was that silence again, filling up the space around us. Haymitch and Peeta were absorbing ever detail I had just laid out on the table, while I sat desperate and empty. I had just spilt my story and the space I had shoved it into became a gaping hole. I needed something to fill it.
I turned between the two, looking slowly from one to the other. Seam grey eyes, and clear sky blue eyes. "Your turn."
A/N: If you like what you've read, or are even remotely intrigued, stick around. There's a long road ahead.