Author's Note: What? Seriously?


Ivan Muskov, District 4

A pounding on the door. "Ivan! Wake up! Your breakfast is going to get cold!"

I roll over, off my bed, but the sheets tangle around me, and I'm too not awake to find my way out for a minute.


"I'm up!" I call back, kicking the last of the covers away. Oh, Bella gets so impatient! It's just breakfast.

Well, breakfast on reaping day. I can see why she'd be a little more urgent. It could be the last day she sees me alive, and she idolises me so much she has to spend every minute she can with me.

But I'm not so worried about my fate. I'm going off to volunteer for the Hunger Games today, but I know I'll win. If I didn't, well, I wouldn't be volunteering! Well, I might, just so I could rip a few people to little bloody shreds without getting in trouble, but… Nah, it's not worth my life if I can help it.

I throw on a shirt and go over to Cattie's mattress and nudge it with my foot a little. "It's about time to get up, Sis," I hum, yawning and starting for the bathroom we also share. Behind me, Cattie blinks awake and sits up with little hesitation. Wish I could get up like that! I usually need a few minutes.

I only do half of my getting ready before hurrying over to the dining room. Bella runs and tackle-hugs me the moment I get there, and I have to tell her good morning and hug her back before she'll allow me to get to the table. It looks like she probably cooked this morning. Normally, the eleven-year-old doesn't have to do much of the work, but she can be pretty darn persistent when she wants to do something. And she's probably a little afraid this is her goodbye meal with her brother, so I can understand why she'd want to make it herself.

I've just slid into my seat when Mom and Dad stumble in sleepily from their side of the house.

"Good morning!" I call as Bella starts to pour their drinks.

"Morning," Dad says, but Mom's not feeling so talkative. She sits between Dad and me silently before looking me in the eye carefully.



"You know…" She looks at her meal and starts rubbing at one of the forks. "…There's still time. If you don't want to volunteer this year, you don't have to."

"Oh, of course I know that!" I smile. "But there's only one more year after this left for me, and I don't think I could get much more prepared."

Mom pauses before nodding. "All right." She forces a smile. "Good luck, then, dear."

"Thank you," I hum as Cattie hurries into the room.

"Sorry for taking so long!" she says, rubbing a towel in her hair a moment longer before draping it over the back of an unused chair. "I didn't think my shower would take that long!"

"Ah, no worries." I have to laugh a little. I have no idea how she can get clean so quickly. Good thing, though, since we only have one bathroom between us. "Ready to eat?"

"Of course!" She hurries to her seat, just avoiding knocking the chair over in the process. Nice that she isn't actually breaking anything today, haha. "So… Reaping day," she starts, looking at me across Bella's empty seat. She keeps her mouth open, like she's about to say something else, before suddenly lunging for me in a tight hug. "Oh, what are we going to do with you away so long? It's going to be so scary watching you fight out there!"

"I guess so!" After a moment, I start to wriggle out of her hug, and she pulls away, just in time for Bella to bring over the last pair of cups and take her seat next to me. "But it's all right, since you know I'll be back!"

Cattie sniffles, nodding. "Of course you will. Right." She wipes under her eyes.

Aw, everyone's so worried about me! It's nice to have such a good family. So little confidence in me, though! They've even seen me in action in the Training Facility. They should know I can break in heads like I'm picking flowers, ahaha.

And I guess I'll be doing just that in only a few more days! It's such a thrill to think about! My family may not want to let me go, but I'm so excited I can't imagine waiting with them one more year.

Rica States, District 4

My alarm rings right on time, and I smash the first button that'll make it shut up before I sit up and stretch. Normally I'd be aiming for the snooze button, but today's the reaping, and for once I'd really rather not be late.

After another moment of rubbing my eyelids, I throw away the sheets, hop out of bed, and hit the shower. From there I put my hair in twin low pigtails, throw my sleep clothes back on—I've figured out that I probably shouldn't wear my nice clothes when I still have to eat—and get to the kitchen.

My parents aren't up yet, so I get some bread toasting and start unloading the refrigerator myself. I won't be eating too much today, since I hear the train meals on the Capitol stuff you twice over, but I definitely won't be starving myself. Everything I cook is piled on a single plate—a bit of a rarity, I admit—and I scarf it down. No sign of life from the other side of the house just yet. No worries. It's not like I need them to escort me over to the town square, anyway.

I chuck the plate in the sink and go back to my room. The closet doors open with a creak.

What to wear today…?

I eventually decide on a short blue skirt and a red-and-white midriffless halter-top. I've been told this is inappropriate to wear to a reaping, but that was from some of the ugly chicks who're just jealous that I can pull it off. And, man, can I pull it off. Just ask all the boys who've tried to pick me up. And then they usually get scared off by the fact that I'm stronger than them. Pfft.

I take a second to wipe a smudge off my glasses and check myself in the mirror. My hair looks brown—it's still a little wet—but that's no big deal. Everything else looks fine.

Oh, wait, I might need shoes.

I hurry back to the closet and, after lots of sifting, decide on some white sandals with star cutouts at the corners. They're flats, but hey, it's not like I have a stature that actually needs heels, anyway.

I slip on my shoes and go back to the living room area. Mom at least is awake now, and I give her a nod before checking the nearest clock. I still have a good half an hour before I have to leave. Man. That's what I get for not hitting the snooze button.

So I go ahead and nibble on some more bacon as the clock ticks down. Dad eventually comes in grumpily, silently acknowledges my presence, and goes to prepare his morning caffeine.

I've just about topped off the package of bacon by the time it's finally time to leave. I'm still out of the house kind of early, but my parents don't mind. They don't mind much of anything.

The square's not too far from here, so I arrive pretty quickly, get my name marked, and hurry off to the Seventeens.

On the way I bump into Ivan.

"Watch where you're going, fatty," I grumble, elbowing him out of the way when he just stands there smiling like an idiot. Which he does a lot. Probably because he is one.

I can't believe I got stuck volunteering the same year as him. I'm going to have to go, like, a week or more trying to get along with him—which hasn't worked for the last some-odd years, in case you were wondering—before I can get rid of him. Ugh. Well, at least I get to bash his giant nose in instead of having to cheer for him.

"Are you ready for the reaping?" he says, clearly not getting the picture that I want him out of the picture.

"No, there's an idiot in the way!" I cross my arms and glare at him. Honestly, he sort of is in the way, since I'm pretty tall but I can't see the stage over his head.

"I didn't know you could get in your own way," he hums, lightly stepping to the side and pivoting so he doesn't face me.

"That's because I can't." Not sure how else to make a comeback, I just put another step between us and wait with heartbeat rising as the reaping finally begins.