It's my birthday! :B I wanted to do the last update on a special day, so it'll always say September 4th there. Yay!
Every day, Savannah asked herself if things would've turned out differently had she entered the Games instead of Baye. Even if she had died in the same manner, at least she would be the one buried in District 3's cemetery. Not her best friend.
Savannah would often visit Baye's grave. The sight of it always produced the same mixture of sadness and anger. She would cry for a while, but rage would always overtake her grief in the end. "You broke your promise, you jerk!" She would sob, and leave before anyone saw her.
Guilt gripped her to the core. Life was dreary without her best friend. She wished she had never backed down. I should have gone. It was my name they had called. I should have died.
For some reason, she harbored a little bit of hatred towards Baye. Baye left her drowning in guilt and sorrow. It was selfish, but Savannah would have rather died in the Hunger Games in her place than continue living with these feelings. Maybe, just maybe, she could have made it past the Bloodbath. Maybe she could have won.
You never know… Savannah thought sadly.
Attending the Victory Tour didn't help at all. She knew it was just a reminder from the Capitol that they still had power. They shoved the latest victor in their faces, basically saying, 'Haha, you lost your loved ones!'
Savannah melted into the crowd, feeling tired and alone. She saw Baye's father and little sister, Leighton, on the platform designated for families. Leighton was crying her little heart out. Next to them stood a weeping couple, holding and comforting one another. Savannah tried to remember the name of their son, but she couldn't. After Baye died, she had withdrawn into her room and refused to watch anymore of the Games.
Kalin hurriedly got through his speech, speaking in a bored voice that gave away how tired he was of saying it. Everyone at school had been talking about his victory, even months after it happened. He had betrayed his alliance, using others to win the Games. Even though the winners often thanked their allies, he never did. Maybe it was because he knew no one would buy it. It would only fuel their loathing.
He hadn't fooled Baye, but Savannah still harbored a small grudge against him. Baye should have been up there, giving the speech. Not him.
The mayor gave him some beautiful flowers and he left the stage. The audience clapped and cheered, but it was obviously forced, just as it was in every other district. They were supposed to act like this. Otherwise, the Capitol would not be too happy with them.
Savannah didn't even bother. She hoped the cameras would catch her tiny act of rebellion. When the speech was over, she made her way through the mass of people towards Baye's family.
"Mr. Johnson? I'm so sorry." She apologized, tears already making their way down her face. She hadn't spoken to him until now, afraid of the consequences. But now, she forced herself to be brave.
Baye's father spared her a glance. She could see his expression harden slightly. Then he turned and walked away without a word. Leighton looked at her with wide, sad eyes, and then followed behind him.
Savannah lowered her head guiltily. She could see why they blamed her. She headed home, dragging her feet as she followed her parents. She would live with these regrets for years. And she would never forgive Baye for saving her life.
Arrow had been shocked when he watched Adrenaline die. It seemed unreal. She was supposed to win. She had been doing so good, killing tons of tributes, and then her own allies turned on her!
When the Careers came together to plan Adrenaline's demise, Arrow had sprung to his feet and started yelling at the TV. He urged Adrenaline to wake up and kill every last one of them, but of course, she couldn't hear him. Crazed, he ran out of his house, as if he could somehow run all the way to where the arena was before morning and save her.
His father caught him and spoke sense to him. Trying to contain his grief, Arrow followed his dad back inside to watch the rest of the Games play out. Arrow fell asleep on the couch with the TV on, praying for Adrenaline to find a way out of this.
When he woke up, she was already dead. Of course, they showed a recap of it. Arrow watched, paralyzed, as the four Careers mobbed his girlfriend, killing her in the span of a few seconds. He screamed and cried for her, but it was too late. She was already dead. Her body would be sent home to him in a coffin.
The next few days, Arrow was subject to an irritating amount of comforting words. First, it was one big, "I'm sorry that happened to your girlfriend." Then it turned into, "There are plenty of fish in the sea."
To every person that told him that, he saved a few choice words. He full-on attacked one of the boys at school for it and wound up getting suspended for a week. But he didn't care. It was nice, being able to mourn Adrenaline alone at home.
Six months later, the victor showed up to give his speech. The families gathered on their special platform. Adrenaline's family stood alongside Zane's; everyone looked extremely upset. Arrow couldn't help but feel a surge of hatred at the sight of Zane's brothers that looked so much like him. After all, Zane had taken part in killing Adrenaline. Even if he had tried to protect his district partner to some extent, he had still ripped her apart just like all the others when the time came. At least they had all met their own gruesome ends, one way or another.
Milling about in the crowd, Arrow ran into a girl that painfully reminded him of Adrenaline. She looked incredibly like her—she even had the same red, spiky hair. Maybe she's a fan of hers… He thought, staring at her. After all, the Capitol as well as the Career districts usually took to a lot of fashions set by the tributes. Some of his friends grew mohawks in honor of Abbadon from last year, despite the fact that he was Bridon's nemesis.
The girl must have noticed Arrow staring. Her lips curled into a smirk and she made her way over to him. "Hey there," She said, batting her eyelashes, "So I hear you're single now, huh?"
Arrow didn't respond right away. His initial reaction was to think, Oh man, Adrenaline's going to have a cow when she sees me talking to this chick… But then he remembered she was dead. She had been for six months.
"Uh…yeah." He said lamely, not bothering to act charming. He caught sight of a fake scar tattooed on the side of her bare neck and couldn't seem to take his eyes off of it.
"That's too bad. Do you want to hang out sometime?" The girl asked sweetly, tilting her head to one side.
"No." Arrow said flatly, turning on his heel and walking away. The girl stood there, looking stunned, but he didn't spare a glance. She was rude, coming off like that. Of course…she was also a lot like Adrenaline.
Fondly, he remembered her last words to him.
"Don't eye up any other girls while I'm gone or I'll rip your throat out!"
He chuckled slightly as he took his place in a crowd of strangers. Even from the grave, he could still feel Adrenaline watching him for any signs of cheating.
"Don't worry, Addy." He promised quietly, "I won't for a long, long time."
Sage had been standing in the town square, watching the Hunger Games on the large TV, when he saw Saffron get shot with an arrow. Without a second to lose, Sage sprinted home and burst into his mother's room.
"Maman!" He cried out, using his special name for her.
She was huddled in her bed, staring wide-eyed at her TV. Sage went to her side and hugged her. The rest of the night, they sat in her bed and watched Saffron die. Maman never stopped crying. Sage tried to soothe her, knowing that this couldn't be good for her health.
"I'm here for you, Maman. I'm here…" He whispered.
She clung to him tightly. "I'm so glad I still have you." She sobbed, after Saffron's cannon had rung.
Sage had always been close to his mother, just as Saffron had always been close to his father. Over the next few days, Sage hung around the house more, searching his stepfather for some sort of reaction. But Monsieur Le Bel remained composed. If he was hurting, he didn't show it. Sage had to wonder if he even felt sad at all. Maybe he was angry with his son, for losing. After all, he was a direct reflection of the Le Bel family.
No matter how hard he tried, Sage couldn't figure out how the man felt about his favorite son dying. Do you even care? He wondered, observing his stepfather from afar.
Sage thought back to the times when he was young. Monsieur Le Bel would play with Saffron in the garden, just the two of them. Sage would hide in the vicinity and watch them jealously. He would never forget the day Saffron realized that the game would be more fun with more people and he asked his father if his brother could join them.
Sage had felt a spark of hope, but Monsieur Le Bel had quickly destroyed it, saying that he was a half-blooded mongrel that didn't deserve to be anywhere near Saffron. Still, their relationship seemed to be one that a father and son shared.
Until he threw away the instruments. After that day, everything changed. Monsieur Le Bel came to have high expectations for his son. They stopped playing in the garden together. Sage couldn't help but feel a sense of triumph, that he had wound up at the better end of the stick, and he hated himself for it.
And now, Saffron was dead. It was the day of the Victory Tour, the final district Kalin would visit before returning to his own. There was no fair set up this year. Only District 1 victors deserved the full-on celebration that had taken place last year.
Sage stood on the platform with Monsieur Le Bel and his mother, who had found the strength to attend. He glanced to his right to behold the family of Ravish, the Blackwells. A sly smile spread across his face as he laid eyes on the two beautiful daughters.
"Salutations!" He said grandly, turning to face them.
The two girls turned and looked at him in surprise.
"Sage Le Bel," He introduced himself, holding out his hand, "It is a pleasure."
"Um…hello." The younger of the two said uncertainly, "I'm Desire and this is Allure…"
She went to shake his hand, but he snatched it up and kissed it gently. "Beautiful names for beautiful girls," He sighed, his eyes softening, "My deepest condolences for your loss. Just know that I also feel this pain you are experiencing."
Desire was blushing, while Allure rolled her eyes, unimpressed. Kalin's speech began quite abruptly. Sage turned his attention to the stage, the attractive women standing beside him quickly forgotten as he focused on the victor. The boy that had killed his brother. Hatred bubbled up from within, but Sage kept a smooth face throughout the entire thing, playing it cool.
When the ceremony was over, Monsieur Le Bel turned to Sage, looking disgusted. "I'm going to take your mother home," He said stiffly, "Do whatever it is you mongrels do."
"Dig through trash cans and drink the blood of the rats we find!" Sage offered up quite cheerfully.
His stepfather grimaced as if he believed Sage was telling the truth. Then he grabbed his wife's arm and led her off. Sage bid a quiet farewell to Maman, then immersed himself in the party, trying to find where Kalin had gotten.
He was standing with Channa, the previous victor, who was with her current boyfriend, Rhutter. They had been together almost a year now. Sage crept up and stood behind them, eyeing Rhutter with disapproval.
She could do a lot better, He thought reproachfully. How do you go from a guy like Hip to a guy like this? It's too bad there can only be one victor. Hip was such a bro.
"Anyways," Channa was saying, smiling sweetly at Kalin, "I just wanted to say congratulations. You really deserved it."
"Uh, thanks." Kalin said, looking slightly surprised.
"You won like a true Career!" She sighed, "I wish my tributes had been as competent as you. Well, I'd better get going. See you around."
She linked arms with Rhutter and they turned to walk away. As they went, Sage caught Channa's eye. "Mon amie…" He greeted, flashing a smile at her.
She ignored him and continued on her way. Sage could care less about being snubbed, and turned his attention to Kalin. He could see the boy's eyebrows shoot up in surprise. His eyes were wide with recognition.
"The resemblance is uncanny, non?" Sage laughed, taking a step towards Kalin.
Kalin shifted his weight, looking uncomfortable. "I don't know what you mean." He lied.
"Let's not play games, mon amie," Sage chided, leaning towards Kalin so that he was right in his face, "You shot an arrow into my little brother's heart. His name was Saffron."
"I'm sorry," Kalin muttered, looking away guiltily.
"Of course you are. But 'sorry' doesn't bring him back to life, now does it?" Sage murmured dangerously, coming in even closer. His eyes were chips of blue ice as he hissed in Kalin's ear, "Just know that I would just as easily kill you if those Peacekeepers over there didn't have their guns trained on me at this very moment. Remember that next time you set foot in District 1."
With a flourish, Sage whirled around and walked away, calling, "Au revoir!" over his shoulder in a cheerful tone.
Kalin felt a shiver run up his spine. He glanced back to where the Peacekeepers were standing in a group, but they had returned to their conversations. Kalin knew he wouldn't be venturing back here anytime soon.
Finally, it was time to head home.
Kalin grew excited as the train took him past the boundaries of District 11 and towards his home in the Victor's Village. He was only too grateful to return to his old lifestyle. He just had to get through the speech one more time and he could finally leave the 43rd Hunger Games behind him.
Of course, he would have to begin his new career as a mentor.
...Because of this, he would never truly leave the Games behind. He would go on to train kids just like him. Kids that would go on to die, no matter what action he took. Even out of the arena, children would continue to die by his hand. A chill seized his body as he realized this. He was never going to be free. If he didn't perform his duties correctly, families would suffer for it. The same families he had seen on the Victory Tour, with their dull eyes and tearstained faces.
He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block them out. He had tried so hard to remain optimistic. He thought he could leave the Games in the past...he had been a fool. The Victory Tour reminded him that he would never escape his past.
And now, giving his final speech, he had to gaze upon the large family of Tiger-Lilly. He had to thank them for their support and tell them how proud he was to be their victor. He promised that he would raise more victors too. And they just looked at him, wondering why he had to rope their daughter into his death trap of a plan. It was his fault Tiger-Lilly had suffered. He didn't need their cold gazes to remind him.
Kalin tried to keep these thoughts at the back of his mind as he concluded his speech. The mayor gave him a large fruit basket (a nice change from flowers) and said a few words himself, thanking Kalin for representing their district well and coming back in one piece. He wished him the best of luck in the future and then the ceremony was over.
There was a great feast, allowing the many residents of the district to come and fill their shrunken bellies. Kalin had to shake a lot of hands and mutter a continuous stream of thanks, until finally, he was able to sit down and partake in the meal.
Surrounded by friends and admirers, Kalin tried to shove away his misgivings, just as he did when the Games had drawn to a close. But this time, they didn't go away.
A few months later, Kalin was studying the role of mentor in his home, when he spontaneously decided to visit the orchard. So he pulled on some cool clothing and set off for a long walk that took him in the direction of his old job.
Not as many people congratulated him on the street anymore. District 11 was one of the biggest districts, and for a long time, it seemed as if the stream of people commending him for his win would never end. Thankfully, it did.
Taking a deep breathe of clean air, Kalin made his way into the orchard. No one stopped him or asked him why he was there. Victors were allowed to come and go as they pleased, protected by the Capitol. Kalin could still see a few glares being shot his way, especially by the younger children, but he had grown used to their hostility.
Then he spotted a familiar figure perched in a tree, picking oranges.
He smiled and made his way over. It was the girl he had been crushing on before he was whisked off to compete in the Games. In all of the chaos, he had nearly forgotten about her. But now, here she was.
If I had the courage to win the Games, then I have the courage to do this… Kalin thought, taking a deep breath and calling out to her.
She looked down from her work, hesitating to join him on the ground. But he waved her down, knowing that he could get her out of trouble if anyone saw her putting off her work. She seemed to realize this too and clambered down the trunk to stand next to him.
But her gaze was cold and unfriendly. "Why are you here?" She said, narrowing her eyes.
"I…I thought…um…would you like to go out on a date with me?" Kalin stammered, his face turning bright red. He scratched the back of his head awkwardly and forced a grin.
"And what makes you think I would want to go on a date with you?" She huffed.
Because I'm a victor? The words ran through his mind, but Kalin didn't want to sound arrogant. "Well…I really like you. And we seem to get along. Err…we used to, anyways…" He said, suddenly feeling unsure. She was looking at him with such detestation…
"No thanks." She snorted, turning back to climb the tree.
"Wait!" Kalin cried out, "Why not?"
"After what you did? I don't want to even be seen with you. Why don't you head back to your rich mansion and leave the rest of us to our hard, sweaty jobs?"
"I'm still the same person!" Kalin replied heatedly.
"That's just the problem." She said dully, her blue eyes boring into him. "Now get out of here." With strong arms, she began hauling herself back up the tree.
"I just wanted to live!" Kalin called back miserably, "Is that a sin?"
His former friend didn't respond. But he knew the answer anyways: Deceiving and murdering is. And he had done both, to survive.
Kalin headed home, head bowed, feet dragging in the dust as he reflected on his pitiful life.
He hadn't wanted to kill the others. He just wanted to live. He wanted to once again feel the sun on his back and hear the wind rustling the leaves in the orchard. He wanted to feel the satisfaction of drinking water on a hot day, or lying in a warm bed as light filtered through a window. Throughout the entire Victory Tour, he could feel the pain of the families and it made him sad to no end. But with the image he had carved for the Capitol, he tried to keep smiling and making jokes…
But that was the worst part. The Games hadn't changed him. He hadn't been acting when he had deceived and killed his own allies. He had been himself until the end, even in the Capitol. He liked to think otherwise-he wanted to place the blame on the Capitol more than anything. Say they had changed him. But the truth was, they hadn't.
Fear and confusion overwhelmed him and he couldn't help but wonder, Who am I?
To the Capitol, he was one of the greatest victors ever. To the districts, he was a terrible human being with no remorse. They would never know the truth. He would just keep on grinning and being as friendly as possible, not letting anyone know just how awful he felt.
He would wear that mask on his face for the rest of his life.
Woohoo! We made it! Before I let you go, I have to thank a bunch of you. First of all, a huge thank you for everyone who took the time to read/review this story! An even bigger thank you to those who created a wonderful character for me to have the pleasure of writing. Here's the final placing, along with the names of each tributes' creator:
1. Kalin (aerostella)
2. Amara (SpunkyFun)
3. Jarek (Cinna-is-my-Stylist)
4. Zane (Narnian Pirate)
5. Hapi (PinaColadaFox)
6. Angela (XOXOFutureFame)
7. Bentley (1Deleniall)
8. Saffron (Me)
9. Ravish (Asami Sato)
10. Hera (Nellie D)
11. Emmett (weirdobookworm)
12. Kelsea (The Head Gamemaker)
13. Scarlet (lunarisque)
14. Adrenaline (Twister Triste)
15. Seth (purplee uzumaki)
16. Luke (justicesquad111)
17. Beatriss (xXjaziXx)
18. Tiger-Lilly (AussieTurtleGoneHakunaMatata )
19. Dominic (goldanchor)
20. Roam (Aravis of Calormen)
21. Ember (averyef)
22. Ivan (goldanchor)
23. Baye (hungergames35)
24. Galloway (charlottelove327)
Also, thank you to Emiiiiiii99, Aravis of Calormen, loverman22, Asami Sato, The Head Gamemaker, PinaColadaFox, Ashbrie13, JuneTwentieth, and Spunkyfun for sponsoring Kalin, Kelsea, Hera, Kalin (x2), Ravish, Hera (x2), Hapi, and Angela (x2). Although sponsors don't usually change fates in my stories, they do spice things up a great deal. So thank you for your contributions!
As usual, the biggest thank you of all goes to my sister, PinaColadaFox, for giving me one of the best tributes ever, editing my story for me, and helping me throw around all sorts of ideas. I've already said it, but I'll say it again. You're amazing and this story wouldn't be where it's at if not for you! Seriously!
Before I go, I suspect you're all wondering about a 44th Hunger Games. Well, there are no plans for one right now...or at least, that's what this author's note said until yesterday. Then my sister had to go and create an awesome profile. And then we came up with an awesome arena idea. And then I wrote the first freaking chapter. So yeah, there'll probably be another one, but it won't be for a while since school just started back up. Expect it to come when next summer rolls around, probably around the same time the 42nd started up. If I can't contain myself, it'll arise around Thanksgiving or Christmas. I have no idea. I'm going to try and write some outtakes to force myself to wait and come up with more ideas.
But, y'know, I've been writing SYOTs for a while; now, I'd just like to sit back and read the ones that I've submitted characters to. So get writing, people!
If you'd be interested in submitting a tribute to the next one, just subscribe to this account and you'll see the story when it goes up. Don't bother sending them in early, because that's not going to get you brownie points. I'll only start accepting profiles once the first chapter goes up, you send it to me before that, I'm not going to keep it.
Don't forget to check out the Hunger Games Outtakes when that goes up too! I promise it'll be funny and you'll get to see some of your favorite characters back in the spotlight. Also, if you ever reread this, keep an eye out for foreshadowing. It's one of my favorite things to insert into a story, although readers don't usually catch it the first time through. :)
Thanks again for reading and have fun living your lives!
-Hipengy aka Hoprocker