I woke up and stared at the ceiling. I had won…right? So why was I in some foreign room. Then I remembered I had to recover. I was in restraints but I didn't mind. They just didn't want me to go all psycho and kill them. I kept staring t the ceiling. For some reason I found it oddly interesting. Crap, that was the drugs talking I swear. A nurse came in and saw I was awake.
I just stared at her. She was probably pretty by Capital standards but I found her quiet repulsing. She was at least in her fifties and had done every surgery possible to remain younger. Disgusting.
I shut my eyes when she put some needle into my arm. It wasn't to knock me out, but I was so exhausted I fell asleep anyways. I opened my eyes again and knew it had been awhile. The restraints were gone so I stood up and started pacing. I almost fell over a few times but I still kept pacing. I had to move, otherwise I would go insane. My room was bright white and small. I felt like I was in a cage.
The door busted open and the familiar faces I didn't long to see came in. Both of my mentors, Crescent and Sonny, came rushing in with smiles on their faces and so did my stylist. Her name was Rae and she was very…heavily built. She was super sweet but unlike most Capital stylists she wasn't nice to look at.
Rae took me into a huge bear hug and started crying.
"I NEVER THOUGHT I'D SEE YOU AGAIN!" she sobbed. Wow, way to have confidence in me…of course I never expected to see her again either so I wouldn't hold a grudge. I just stared off into space. I just wanted this to be done with.
After I pried myself away from Rae, Crescent came over and gave me a very light, quick hug. She was never one to show emotion so it was a huge thing for her to even consider hugging me. Sonny nodded at me once and broke out into a smile. He was proud.
Rae shooed them out of them room and turned to me. It was time for the prep. Then I realized my prep team wasn't here.
"Well, you don't need them! Have you seen yourself?" I looked at her. I guess I voiced my question out loud. Gosh, my head was so messed up now. She ran out of the room screaming for a mirror. I just sat on the edge of my bed. She finally showed up with a mirror and a suit. She hid the mirror and demanded I put the suit on first. I looked at it. It was very well made. It had different hues of blue in it that made it look like different waves, but it was subtle.
I slipped into it and Rae helped me with the tie. My hands were pretty shaky.
"Close your eyes!" she squealed. I broke out into a smirk and shut my eyes for her benefit. She was just a like a little child sometimes.
"OPEN!" she screeched.
My eyes shot open and I gasped. My dirty blonde hair was neatly trimmed and they had dyed it a shade or two darker so it was more brown now. It looked nicer that way. It made my bright blue eyes shine and my skin looked like it was glowing. I was never really that attractive, but right now I'd say I looked pretty handsome.
'What do you think!" she squealed, "it was my idea to permanently make your hair that light brown!" She looked at me with eager eyes. The kind of eyes a kid looks at an adult with when they want them to approve of their drawing.
"It's marvelous," I said, "Thank you so much." She gave me another giant hug and it took awhile to pry her away.
"It's time." Crescent said as she quickly entered. She was in a very pretty blue dress and was rushing us along. We started going down the hallway and I froze.
No I couldn't be…
"Ethan, let's go!" Crescent said assertively. I clutched my hands to my ears. I wasn't in the arena…but then why were the walls closing in on me? Why did I feel like I was traveling down another tunnel? Someone touched my arm and I yelled. I struck whoever I was and started running. I had to get away!
I kept running. Someone was chasing me! Was it a mutation? The walls kept getting closer and closer. I felt sick to my stomach and vomited. Someone grabbed my arms and I tried to fight whoever it was off.
"Ethan, STOP!" My eyes hot open and I saw I was in Sonny's grip. Crescent stood there with a giant red welt on her face. I realized I must have had some sort of flashback. I remember hearing about how some victors had those…
"Ethan," Crescent said quietly, "take my hand. Just close your eyes and pretend you're not here, underground. Pretend you're by the ocean. Anywhere but here." I gripped her hand like a life raft. I wasn't going to drown in these emotions.
We walked down the tun-along the beach. I tried to keep my mind off the games and other tributes, but it was impossible. My mind floated between Aqua, Zink, Ella, Vivian, Amy, and Oliver. Their faces were the ones that kept popping up in my brain. A few others came, such as Danielle and Steele, but I could push those down. The others I couldn't control.
We finally stopped and I felt glad. I was so close to getting out of here. I didn't want to be underground ever again… I heard the metal plates rising. I felt someone squeeze my hand and let go. I was all alone. I started to panic but I tried to suppress it. I had to put on a good show still. The Capital did not like a crazy victor. In fact, they hated a crazy victor! They wanted someone perfect…
Finally I felt someone push me and I had to restrain myself from smacking them. I wasn't in the games anymore. No one was trying to hurt me. Breathe in and out…
I opened my eyes and stepped onto the plate. It rose and the spotlight hit me. The crowd went absolutely nuts. They were screaming and jumping. They had signs and shirts. They had hats and dolls. Some of them even had started wearing rings around their necks. I almost moaned in disgust. How could these people be so stupid?
I kept walking and tried to keep my eye and the "throne". One step at a time. Europa stood up and hugged me. She was still doing her red theme and looked amazing. President Raven came out and smiled. She walked over to me and shook my hand. She then placed the crown on my head and looked at me. However, it was the way you'd look at a fish before buying it back in District Four. I didn't like it one bit.
I sat down on my throne and the crowd hushed. Oh God…I had to relive it now. I remember having to watch it at home and I wondered why the victors looked so pained when the video started. Now I knew why. It was because you never wanted to even mention the games again and you had to watch it right now in front of everyone in Panem.
The video started with the Reapings. They showed part of District One, District Two, all of District Four, a small clip from five, and then part of nine, and twelve. It eventually went to the chariots. It showed all the Careers in their glory. Vivian and Aqua both looked amazing. The camera seemed focused don me, but I was the victor. They showed a lot of clips of Aqua and me. Well, she was my main ally. I showed some training scores and then went straight to the interviews.
They showed most of the Career interviews, but all of mine. They showed some of Danielle's, Aria's, Ella's, Jordan's, Emmett's, and Amy's interviews. I looked so young and alive in the interviews…what happened? Did I really grow that much older in eight days? It went straight to Jupiter announcing the Hunger Games were about to begin. The gong sounded and they showed the entire bloodbath. They showed Danielle running straight in and then away. I assumed the reason they were showing her so much was because she became a Capital favorite once she was in it.
It showed me killing Jovan and the other Careers killing the other tributes. I was a bit disgusted. Did I really look that cruel? It showed us splitting up and it followed Aqua and I mainly. It showed Oliver taking his supplies and leaving. Then it answered the one question I had the entire games. It showed Chase burning them! It wasn't Oliver? Dang, that Chase kid was smart…
It showed us going into the lava cavern and I knew what was coming. It showed Chase jumping into the lava and I felt terrible. I was my fault that he was dead too. I might have as well pushed him in! As we walked away, it showed Amy! She was there? No wonder she hated me so much at the end. Then it showed Zink leaving the alliance and I was shocked again. That's not what Jordan told us!
It quickly showed Vivian killing October and then it showed a quick battle between Ella and some others. It showed us resting and Danielle finding a den somewhere. It showed Amy beating up Magnus and Danielle taking his stuff.
Then it showed the entire scene of us finding Zink and that battle. The Career alliance broke up and I carried Aqua away. It showed a lot of scenes of Aqua and I joking around. It would occasionally switch to clips of Oliver, Amy, Ella, Vivian, and Danielle. We met up with those stupid mutts and showed us setting them on fire. It showed a few emotional scenes.
It showed Danielle's fight scene with Magnus. Wow, I never knew she was such a fighter!
It showed us getting attacked and separated. It showed her grief and then the happiness we both had when we met up again.
I felt myself start to tear up and I rubbed my eyes. I just had to get through this. No emotion…no emotion…
Then it showed the water and I lost it almost. It showed me having to kill my "sister". I could now see what a hideous mutt it was. The Capital was pure evil. It showed Aria's death and I almost vomited again. It showed a few other ones and then went straight to the duels. It showed all the duels.
It showed Ella's and Vivian's first. I was shocked to see Vivian not kill the little girl. Since when did she have a heart? Then it showed Vivian falling and changed to Amy's and Emmett's. The dragon was quite a twist.
It was Aqua's and I held my breath. I saw Danielle running, Oliver running, and then they made a stupid alliance. It showed all of the battle and them slowing cornering her. Danielle pushed her off the edge and I started crying. Oliver didn't completely kill her. Danielle did it physically, but it was Oliver's plan. It showed Oliver killing Danielle.
Zink's and mine duel came next. It showed every second of it and I wanted to kill myself. It was pure torture! Why did the Capital do this! They were monsters! It was over and they showed the final four. It showed me trying to kill Oliver. It showed us running. It showed me throwing Oliver into the mutts. My heart broke at his death. He didn't deserve that…I was in the heat of anger but he didn't deserve that…
It showed our three way battle. Ella jumping in front of Amy, but not before sinking a sword into my arm. Ella was a fighter that was for sure. It showed me fighting Amy. Amy burning. The final shot was of me fighting off the people on the hover car and someone injecting a needle into me.
By now I was crying and I quickly rubbed the tears away. Everyone clapped and was so happy. There was so much wrong with all these people. Of course, I shouldn't be talking. Europa started our interview and I just answered as well as I could. I managed to keep a small smile on my face and my answers were always a sentence long. Better than last year. The victor didn't smile at all and just said yes or no, even if it wasn't a yes or no question.
Europa seemed to be happy, but I really didn't know with her. She was probably faking it. Finally, it was over. I exited the stage and Crescent rushed me through the tunnel. We made it to the train in one piece and relaxed. Or I should say they relaxed wile I continued to pace.
"Sit down before you drive us all insane," Sonny said irritably. I just rolled my eyes and stomped to my room. I had to make sure not to look at Aqua's otherwise I would cry for sure. I laid down in bed and slept for the entire trip home. Rae woke me up and forced me into my new outfit.
I was ushered to the door. Sonny and Crescent stood on either side of me. They both squeezed my shoulder in comfort. I was ready for this. They opened the door and the cameras started flashing. I waved at the cameras but couldn't force myself to smile. I needed to get away from here. I saw my parents, drunk as ever, standing by the entrance. They were waiting for me…idiots.
I walked right past them without even glancing at them. They were nothing to me. Those drunken bastards! I would never be able to forgive them as long as I lived. The cameras kept following us and Sonny pointed out my house. I walked as fast as I could towards it, opened the door, and slammed it in the cameramen's' faces. I looked around the room I was in right now. There was a sitting room and a kitchen farther down. I kept walking and saw there was a hallway. I looked at it and turned around. It looked really small…
I went up the stairs and found three bedrooms and three baths. I went into, what I believed, was the master bedroom and crashed on the floor. I woke up to the pounding of my front door and went downstairs. I opened the door slowly to find Crescent standing there, smiling.
"We brought your stuff," she laughed. I looked behind her to see Sonny carrying everything from my room except the bed and bookcase.
"And by we, she means me, " he grunted. I smirked at that and motioned for them to come in.
"Where do you want these," he groaned.
"Just set them down by the entrance," I said, "I'll go through it later,"
"Have you found everything," Crescent asked, "I could give you a tour. It wouldn't be hard; all the victor houses are the same in every district, except District One. They get a customized house that the stylist designs," she rolled her eyes, "The Capital's lapdogs."
"No, I'm fine," I said.
"Well, alright. If you need anything we are just a couple houses down to the left. Also, I have one small thing for you." She took out something wrapped in a banner.
"I thought you wanted this." She placed it in my hands and practically shoved her brother out of the door. I looked down and knew what it was before even unwrapping it. I opened it and it gleamed back at me. Aqua's silver trident…I hadn't even thought about it until now…
I felt tears start to roll down my face and I quickly brushed them away. I had spent the past few nights mourning and crying, I was done now!"
I grabbed some hooks and hammered them into the wall. I then set the trident on it right above my fireplace. I looked at it and was content. Now I would never forget her. I went through my stuff and noticed that the had grabbed Ellie's stuff too. I put all my books in a bookcase by the fireplace, my clothes upstairs, and Ellie's stuff in one of the other bedrooms. I couldn't deal with that now. One day I would be strong enough too, but today was not that day.
I sat at home for the rest of the day, curled up by the fire, and read one of my favorite books. I woke up the next day by the fireplace and stretched. My back did not appreciate that. I decided I should get out of the house today. I felt like it was coming down around me. I walked out the front door and right into Sonny.
"Hey, Sonny, what's up?" I asked, "Where's Crescent?"
"Not much. I was just about to come offer to take you to see the rest of the victors. Crescent went back to the Capital…she had some unfinished…business." He eyes looked strained. I wondered what was wrong. Perhaps she was sick or something and went to get the best possible medicine.
There were a lot of victors to meet. I didn't even want to think how many victors District Two had! Most of them were kind of a blur. The only ones that really stood out were Charles, who was a grumpy smart ass man. He insulted me the entire time we were introduced. Then there was Traya who was a sweet middle aged woman with a few children.
There were a few I even recognized from Games I watched. There was Octo who killed everyone who came in his path. Then there was Feruna who won her games by seducing and sleeping her way to victory. It wasn't that successful of a strategy but when you mixed that in with her amazing looks and how every guy thought she sincerely loved them, well how could they say no? Well, there were a few ways but the point was that they didn't.
"To tell you the truth, Sonny, I probably will only remember five of their names," I whispered. He just laughed.
"It's alright. You'll eventually get to know and love everyone of them. We become kind of like a family. You see, in Career districts the people treat us like celebrities. It's hard to make friends that aren't victors."
"Hey, I got to run to the town square and get some food. Would you like to come too," I asked. Maybe he needed some too. I just knew the real reason was that I didn't want to be alone.
"Sure! Come on, let's go before it gets dark." We walked and talked. It wasn't that far of a walk. There was only one incident.
There was a shortcut. It was an alley that saved five minutes, but it was a tight fit. I went the long way and he waited for me. He knew I was having issues with tight spaces. Stupid arena. Gosh, how did District Twelve do it!
We made it to the market and I bought a lot of fruit. I didn't know how to cook so fruit was how I was going to go. Sonny bought a present for his sister, Crescent. Finally, I wanted some baked goods.
We headed into the bakery.
"Well, lookie here. The new victor graces us with his presence," some girl said sarcastically. She was blonde and staring at both of us with a weird look in her eyes. It was a weird cross between lust and amusement.
"Shush, Rosie." I heard the other girl murmur. She had dark brown hair that went down to her shoulders. Her eyes were brown, something uncommon in our district. Most of us had blue or green eyes.
"Welcome, Sonny," Said another woman. She was older than the other two girls. She was fairly big around the waist and looked like she could drink with the best of them. One of those rough and tough ladies.
"Hello, Vesta, could I get a few rolls and perhaps a crepe?" she smiled and looked at me.
"Uhm, could I just get the same…" She laughed but didn't say anything about my sudden shyness. Something about Vesta made me uneasy. I was afraid she might punch me at any second.
"All right, together or separate," she practically yelled.
"My treat, kid." Sonny said as he pulled out some money. Kid! He was only six years older than me!
We left and walked back home. The next six months flew by. I spent a lot of my time on the beach or on my porch. I also picked up an obsession with reading and was practically keeping the book store in business by myself. I did eventually get to know a lot of the victors. Such as Charlie. The only reason he was so grumpy was because he was slowly dying of some unknown disease. Plus, his wife died ten years ago and he was pretty much all alone.
Crescent did come back but she wasn't the same. She actually left three times in the six months I was there and every time she came back looking worse. I wondered if her disease was taking a turn for the worst. I never asked, though. She obviously didn't want to talk about whatever was going on.
Finally, the victor tour came and I was ready for it to be done before I even boarded the train. I had almost shoved Aqua's and Amy's faces out of my mind. I boarded the train and off we went to District Twelve.
I was dressed in a grey tuxedo, which looked really classy. This was probably one of the worst Districts to visit. I personally killed Amy when we were in the final two and I killed Chase indirectly with my presence. I made my Capital speech and tried to think of some sort of personal thing to say to the families, or I should say family. There was no one standing in Chase's circle. The people in Amy's circle openly glared at me and I couldn't find what to say to them. Was I supposed to apologize for impaling their daughter?
The party afterwards was even worse. The mayor was the only one who kept up the pretense of happiness and everyone else was practically silent. I glanced over at the District Twelve victors, Ophelia and Cody. Cody was glaring at me but Ophelia just looked a bit empty. She knew I did it to survive. She was a wise woman.
Next stop was District Eleven. It wasn't very awkward at all. I never really spoke to either tributes. I was wearing a brown shirt and black dress pants. In some Districts they didn't care as much about what you wore. Zoe's family had tears in their eyes still and Emmett's looked resigned.
The banquet afterwards was quite elegant and I was thankful that the people were kind to me. I talked with everyone and anyone the entire time. They were all very inviting and open.
District Ten was bad. I killed Jovan and was there when Eva died. I apologized to the families for their losses and left the stage. I glanced at them on my way off. Eva's and Jovan's families just looked tired and broken. District Nine was almost as bad as District Twelve. Almost being the key word.
I gave my speech and tried not to look too closely at the families. However, I did and was relieved with Jordan's. They looked sad, but also happy that I won. I never had been against him. Ella's, on the other hand, was worse than Amy's. I was afraid they were going to come on the stage and claw my eyes out. The after party was nice. A lot of good food for District standards and the other victors were very nice to me as well.
District Eight was okay. I apologized for their losses and gave my speech. Aria's husband looked like he was dead while her family was still crying a bit. Ben's were just done. Two kids in a row. Both died because of the Hunger Games. Part of me felt a bit out of place on the Victory tour. I never made friends with anyone but Aqua. I didn't really know anyone else besides Jordan and Vivian. Oliver a little bit but that was canceled out when he thought of how to kill Aqua.
District Seven was a breeze. I gave my speech and was done. District Six was just as easy, but District Five was a bit tricky. Now, it had nothing to do with the speeches or families. They were all sad, but looked like they had moved on. Same with the other past few districts families. However, what happened at the banquet was a bit surprising.
The beginning was great. I ate food and talked with some of the locals. Then it came time to mingle and I just wasn't feeling like I should. I stepped out onto the terrace and stood there for a bit.
"Nice night, huh?" said a voice quietly. Out stepped Memory looking gorgeous. She was wearing a burgundy dress and her hair was down. She leaned over the raining and just stared at the moon.
Part of me wanted to leave. I won instead of one of her tributes, but I decided to stay. I didn't physically kill them…
"It is very beautiful," I said, "the moon here isn't nearly as bright as that in District Four."
"There's only one moon," she whispered.
"I guess, probably just my mind playing tricks on me." We stood there in silence for, what seemed like, an eternity. I decided I should break the silence.
"I'm sorry about Briton and Danielle," I whispered. She just looked at me with a vacant expression.
"No you're not. If you were, then one of them would be here and not you." She stated.
"I can be sorry for something that happened. I don't have to be dead to prove to you I feel something," I said a little angrily. She had no right to say what I feel or didn't feel.
"Whatever," she said with an undertone of anger I didn't pick up.
"I mean, I have to deal with punishment! I can't walk down certain streets sometimes otherwise I feel like it's closing in on me! I don't see you having to deal with anything! You don't seem to hit the ground at the sight of sand!"
Then she started laughing. Not the funny laugh but the cruel angry laugh. "You are being punished! Are you kidding me! For your information, I can't cut vegetables for cutting anymore. If I touch a knife I freak out and usually pass out. Plus, every night have night terrors! I can't go to sleep without seeing one of the other tributes faces! You can always go down a different street, but what can I do? Not sleep." She started walking away and back into the building.
"Why do you hate me," I asked. "I could tell you were pissed at me the second you laid eyes on me when I first showed up."
She turned around with tears in her eyes, "Because now every night I go to sleep I see Danielle's and Briton's faces telling me I didn't do enough. That I failed them. That I killed them. That's why I hate you!" she turned back around and made it to the doorway. Then she suddenly turned around again. "By the way, you are so not being punished. The twenty three other people that died six months ago were the ones punished, not you."
She disappeared and I felt the tears spring to my eyes. Bitch.
District Three was really bad but it was my own fault. I got there and made my speech. Then suddenly a voice said something.
"Tell my daughter you're sorry, not me!" I looked over and saw a small woman. October's mom. Now I see where she got her spunk. Dodger's family looked shocked at the sudden outburst. I wasn't thinking when I replied. Maybe it was the lack of sleep or the stress.
"No, I'm telling you I'm sorry! Because your daughter shouldn't have died. What happened to her was wrong and out of my control! So I am apologizing to you because it's all wrong!" I froze. The mother got a look of hope in her eyes and the people looked happier too. What did I just say? I just told all of Panem that the Capital was wrong. Something they chose was wrong, which made them wrong.
I was rushed off the stage and into the train. The banquet was cancelled. I waited for someone to come. Someone with a gun and just shoot me. No one did.
District Two was easy. Oliver had no family and Vivian's grandmother seemed to understand what I did. It was a game to her too. District One was easy as well. I didn't kill either tribute. The parties in both districts were fabulous.
Then it was the Capital party. It was magnificent. I ate so much food I thought I would explode. Sonny looked nervous and Crescent disappeared to somewhere. Then President Raven came down to greet me herself. She had a smile on her face, but it was different than usual. It was very strained.
She pulled me into a light hug and whispered into my ear, "You'd better watch your tongue. It got you into more trouble than your worth." She let go and smiled at me like she just told me some hilarious joke. I just stared at her. She left and I was filled with dread. The rest of the party passed by in a blur and I felt like I was going to die. Well, I was probably going to in a few days anyways.
We boarded the train back home. The entire time I waited for death. Would they crash the train? Poison my food. Slip in when I was asleep? I wrestled around in bed and fell in and out of sleep to many times to count. We made it home and we all exited the train. We went back to my house and they made me up.
They dressed me in the best tuxedo yet and made my hair perfect. I headed out the door and met up with Crescent and Sonny. We linked arms with her on either side and escorted her to the party. Half way there is when I realized what the President meant.
We were walking and I heard a rustling. I knew it was my time to die. I ran faster. I dragged them along and turned the corner. I had to make it to the party before they got to us.
"Ethan, stop!" Sonny ordered. I stopped quickly. Didn't he feel like we were in danger? Someone turned the corner and it wasn't some deadly assassin. It was one of my old classmates, Arthur.
"Ethan….oh gosh I'm sorry!" he said. I looked at him and there were tears in his eyes.
"What is it, man?"
"Your parents…they killed themselves!" I just looked at him, hollowly.
"Thanks for telling me. I'd rather hear it from you than some random stranger." Arthur left with a hurry. He didn't want to see the waterworks. Too bad they would never come.
"Do you need a minute," Crescent whispered. I shook my head and we kept walking. President Raven knew I wasn't close to my parents…she probably knew everything. Her point was made, however. If I ever crossed her again, accidental or on purpose, someone I loved would die. It was a warning. I can't believe…actually I can believe that she could sit behind her desk and order some men to kill my parents. How hard could it be to push a button ad have two people killed when she does that at least once a year. She always kills at least twenty-three kids, that's for sure.
The party went by in a blur. Everyone hugged me and congratulated me. Everyone wanted to talk to me. Everyone loved me. Too bad I didn't love myself right now. I made it home and collapsed on the bed. I laid there for two days straight, thinking and mourning. I mourned for every death that I had ever witnessed in the Hunger Games. I mourned for the ones I didn't witnessed too. I mourned for Aqua. I even mourned for my parents.
I finally left my room only because I felt like the house was going to close around me. I sat on my porch and read. I did this for about a week straight. I would wake up, eat, and then sit on the porch and read. Then, one day, it happened.
A girl was carefully walking by my house with bags of groceries. It was one of the girls from the bakery. I never did learn her name but it was the one with the dark brown hair. She was wearing a green dress with boots. Then she tripped and screamed. I ran over to her and helped her pick up her things.
"Here, let me get that." I said.
"Thank you," she whispered. I quickly got everything back in its bag and picked it up. She reached for them and I shook my head.
"I got it," she didn't argue and I walked her back to the bakery. I found out that she was not a baker, but an apprentice. She apparently loved it and would love to own a bakery of her own. She was my age, but I had never seen her in school. She must have gone to a different one. We kept talking and it eventually led to about me, which I wasn't comfortable with.
We got to the alley and she started down it.
"Uhm, could we go around." I said. She gave me a questioning look but didn't argue. We got there and she thanked me.
"Goodbye, Ethan." She whispered.
"Wait, what's your name?" I asked.
"Alicia." She then shut the door and I walked home by myself. After that day I made it a habit to go to the bakery. I would help her run errands and such, while she would tell me more about herself. She was an orphan and had no siblings. Her favorite color was bright blue and she loved the ocean. She had many dreams but didn't believe she could make them come true.
"I still want to taste your baking," I said, one day after errands.
"Then how about tomorrow I come to your house and bake something. It's my day off." I smiled and practically ran home. I had a lot of cleaning to do.
By the time she got to my house the next morning, it was spotless. I gave her a quick tour and showed her the kitchen.
"Wait, what's down that hallway?" she asked.
"I-I, uhm, I don't really know," I admitted. She gave me a weird look.
"Okay, spill," she said. For the first time I heard a bit of assertiveness in her voice, "Why do you act so weirdly about certain things, like hallways and alleys."
I decided to tell her. I told her about my fears because of the arena and she gave me a hug.
"I'm sorry…" she whispered.
"Maybe we should get started on that bread," I said awkwardly. I didn't want to talk about myself anymore. Not that I wanted to in the first place. We kept talking as she made the bread. We talked about many random things. Things I found frivolous, but she found important. Like how I reacted to being Reaped. She wanted to know how I felt and I honestly couldn't remember. She eventually finished baking the bread and it tasted delicious. She said that extra pinch of cinnamon gave it the kick. We moved our conversation to the couch. We kept talking and then she stared off into space.
"So you and her were close, huh?" she sighed. I followed her gaze and saw it resting on the trident above the fireplace.
"Yeah, we were. For some reason, we just became instant friends. Well, not instant. For awhile we didn't talk at all but once we actually acknowledged the other existed it clicked into place."
"Oh," she said, "That's…sweet." There was a sort of awkward silence. I didn't find it to awkward but I could tell by her facial expression she found it extremely so.
"I bet she's glad you survived. If I ever went into the Hunger Games with my boyfriend I would want him to survive…" I just stared at her.
"Boyfriend? Whoever said I was her boyfriend? We were just good friends."
"Really?" she said unsurely, "Are you sure…it seemed like a lot more…"
"I think I would know," I joked. She giggled and the conversation went back to natural. She thought Aqua was my girlfriend. I laughed at the thought of us married! We would be at each other's throats and call each other all sort of atrocious things!
I sort of zoned out for a second. Alicia's face…she looked so sad at the thought. Did she…did she feel something for me too? I decided to find out.
She said she had to go and I helped her collect her supplies. Then, as she stood on my porch and said goodbye, I kissed. It was soft and quick, but very sweet. I went back in and shut the door. Wow. That was nice.
The next day I went to help with errands again. It was like nothing happened and I started to worry. Was she trying to pretend it never happened? Maybe she didn't feel the same way…
Then she started holding my hand and I couldn't help but break out into a smile. We walked back to my house and talked some more. We had gotten done with errands early. I liked being with Alicia. With her I felt safe. Happy. It was one of the best feelings in the world. I decided I should walk her back to the bakery tonight. We reached the alley and I stopped her.
"Let's go this way this time," I said and tugged her towards it.
"Ethan, no! Please, let's just go the long way," she pleaded. I just kept smiling and pulled her in. I took it one step at a time. I looked at the walls and felt fear enter my heart. What was I thinking. Then I looked over at Alicia's face and relaxed. She was with me…I could handle this. I made it through by just focusing on her. I walked her to the door and gave her a kiss before she went in. I passed the alley again. I decided to try it again. Every time I started to panic I just thought of Alicia. Her smile. Her smell. Everything about her.
It worked and I made it through. I laughed and started to smile. I had found love! And not just regular love, but the kind of love I needed. The gentle, calm kind. The kind that was always there. I had never had that kind of love before. I walked home with only Alicia in mind.
I may still be part of the Hunger Games. I may be controlled by President Raven and the Capital. I may still have flashbacks of the arena. I may miss my sister and Aqua dearly. I may regret every life that was lost in the Hunger Games. At least now I don't have to face it alone.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this story! I am doing another sequel. I hope you all read it! Also, I am so sad this one is done! Also also, how do you like the ending? Great! I hope you love it, but I want you to be honest. Thanks for reading this story and going through this with me. You all are the best :D
Edit: Well, I've finally gotten around to posting it back all on this site after they took it down. If you liked this story (or didn't because this wasn't one of my better ones if I'm being brutally honest) check out my new hunger games stories!