EDITED 30 NOVEMBER 2013 - including new image and summary.
Note: This was originally written about a year and a half ago, but since the movie was released, it's undergone a major revision. I've matured personally and as a writer, and it definitely shows, hence the increased rating from T to M. There won't be any graphic sex (sorry to disappoint), but it's primarily for strong language, alcohol, drugs, violence, and suggestions of sex.
If Johanna and Finnick seem out of character, forgive me-I want them to seem weak and vulnerable. No one is perfect, especially these broken victors.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, from the Hunger Games to Macbeth (from which the title comes) to the lyrics I used as the dividers between vignettes.
Please enjoy and review!
Pairings: Annie/Finnick, Johanna/Finnick
Instruments of Darkness (Act I, Scene iii)
(And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, / The instruments of darkness tell us truths.)
"Next time I'll be braver, I'll be my own savior." –Adele, "Turning Tables"
Just after the 68th Hunger Games
She knows that the bodies were left there on purpose. The official story is that the father was drunk and shot his wife and daughter while the other was in the Capitol, and then shot himself. A tragic ending to a tragic story. But Johanna Mason knew the truth behind the facade.
And it was her fault.
Because Johanna, the victor of the 68th Hunger Games, refused to cooperate with President Snow's plans to prostitute her out to the wealthy citizens of the Capitol, her family was killed before she ever got to see them.
The Peacekeepers had escorted her to her new home in the Victor's Village and then broke the news that there had been a tragic accident. Before they even got to explain anything, Johanna had understood and rushed through the familiar forests to her family's home in the middle class area of District 7 (if there really could be an upper class. It seemed to be lower and middle, with the Peacekeepers and Mayor being the upper class.). A sense of dread had washed over her when she saw that the front door was slightly ajar.
And now, Johanna lies against the floor, where the blood has pooled. She doesn't care if she gets her family's blood on her. Her hands are already stained.
Most of the tears have come and gone, and Johanna silently sobs what few tears she has left. It didn't seem fair. Hell, it wasn't fair. And as difficult as it is to admit, Johanna knows that there is no one to blame but herself. It was because of her selfish desires to protect herself that her family had been butchered by the Peacekeepers, and her father framed of the crime.
When she refused Snow's offer, Johanna hadn't been thinking of her family, but of herself. By refusing to cooperate, Johanna had sealed her family's fate. Johanna was the true killer. Her selfish desires to save her own innocence had killed her family. What was a few nights spent with the Capitol elite compared to her family's safety and well-being? She wished she could go back in time and fix this.
Yes, her father had been an alcoholic. Yes, her mother had been too afraid to ever say anything. And yes, her sister had obviously been the favorite of both parents and the entirety of District 7. But at least they would have acted selflessly and given themselves up to the Capitol's demands to save the rest of their family. Johanna couldn't claim any selflessness. She was the epitome of selfish.
So while the tears fall, mixing with the blood on the hardwood floors, Johanna feels weaker and weaker. Gone was the fierce warrior she had become in the arena, and here is the image Johanna had created for herself back at the start. If only the Capitol could see her now.
A night came and went, with no sleep. Johanna had murdered sleep. She would be haunted by her family and those she had killed in her dreams. But maybe in her dreams, she could change her fate. Maybe she could go back and accept Snow's proposal, sparing her family from the horrible death and reputation that was marked on the gravestones that would be made.
But that would be too good to be true.
No, Johanna was stuck in reality—a world where her own selfish acts had killed her family and quite possibly her own sense of self. Because as messed up and broken as her family had been, they were still family, and Johanna couldn't possibly be more broken than she is now. After all, how could she cope with the fact that she had destroyed her own family?
As the sun rises, filling the windows of the small wooden house—built by her own grandfather—just as Johanna remembered from growing up, the guilty young woman stands, walks silently through the dense woods where she had spent countless hours with her father, learning the family trade. She steps into her own house and tries washing the blood off of her body with cold water. As hard as she scrubs, there are still spots of blood on her hands. There always will be spots of blood on her hands.
Johanna changes clothes and walks back outside, heading toward the town square, where she might be able to see a doctor.
Surely some morphling would heal her heart, or at least make the blood on her hands disappear for a while.
"I, oh, must go on standing; you can't break that which isn't yours. I, oh, must go on standing; I'm not my own, it's not my choice." –Regina Spektor, "Après Moi"
Just after 68th Hunger Games
Every day was the exact same for Finnick Odair. He woke up, went home, took a cold shower, spent the day at various political functions, went to dinner with his most recent Capitol lover, spent the night with her. Lather, rinse, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
It never changed. The only times Finnick had to himself were the early mornings where he laid in the dark, trying to ignore the breathing of the person beside him, or the few nights that he had to himself in his own apartment by the City Circle. Those wonderful nights he spent in solitude were the only reason he kept his sanity. Well, the silence of solitude and scotch.
He only put up with this to protect his family. His dad, who was everything Finnick wanted to be, his mom, who Finnick had always been close to, and even his younger brother, who Finnick had not necessarily seen eye to eye with. However, family was important in District 4, and Finnick Odair would never neglect his family.
There were times when Finnick wanted to go to President Snow and say that he was done, but he knew that refusing to cooperate would only spell doom for his family. And Finnick couldn't do that. He couldn't even think of it, because somehow, Snow would find out. Finnick lived in constant fear that the tyrant would even learn of his growing feelings for Annie Cresta—his best friend from growing up's little sister.
The only times he allowed himself to think of Annie were late at night and times like this—when Finnick was sitting on the beach staring out at the ocean, watching the sunset. He didn't know what he felt for Annie, but the feeling he got in his stomach whenever he saw her told him that it was more than just friendship. And when he thought of her being reaped (because she was still of age), Finnick wanted to personally strangle anyone who could have put her name in that glass bowl.
The color of the sky varied from orange over the ocean to a deep blue behind him. Fishing boats in the distance were black. Gentle waves crashed on the shore, occasionally moving up to tickle Finnick's feet. This was his comfort zone—the beach outside his childhood home at sunset. He was happiest in the water, but felt the most at ease on the sand. How long had he been out here? Finnick always lost track of time.
He felt someone sit down next to him, a comfortable presence. Long, wavy brown hair tickled his bare shoulder. "I brought you some cookies as a welcome home gift, Finnick. We all missed you," a familiar voice said. Finnick refused to turn and look into her eyes, afraid that someone would take that as romantic feelings and report it to Snow.
Out of caution and a longing for Annie's safety, Finnick said nothing. Besides, he was always better off in silence. Then he wouldn't mistake his company's words with the voices in his head.
"You were gone for a long time, Finnick," Annie said softly, tentatively putting her hand on his knee. He flinched and she removed her hand. Finnick mentally groaned. He loved when she touched him.
But because he knew that he would end up falling for her, and killing her, Finnick merely said, "Go away, Annie."
She sighed, but complied, standing up and leaving the ceramic plate of cookies next to him. He heard her quiet footsteps fade away, and resisted the urge to look back at her. Finnick kept his gaze on the water. Everyone was safer if he stayed reclusive while at home. He only needed to be outgoing when on camera. But how could he know if he wasn't? When was he really safe?
Finnick sighed, feeling tears come to his eyes. No one was safe, not even the great Finnick Odair, and especially those close to him. How could anyone he loved be safe when he didn't own himself? He was a slave to the Capitol, and if he cared for anyone, he gave the Capitol the tiny bit of control he still had over himself. And if he passed over that minute sliver of independence, he had turned his loved ones into slaves to the Capitol as well, just maybe not as bonded as himself. Finnick had been branded as the Capitol's whore.
So yes, solitude was safest for everyone.
"But I will hold on hope and I won't let you choke on the noose around your neck." –Mumford and Sons, "The Cave"
69th Hunger Games
Johanna is miserable. The Capitol is terrible. It has been six months since she came here for the Victory Tour. Normally, the victors are given a few years off before having to mentor. Johanna isn't that lucky. She's the only female victor left in District 7, and the gamemakers won't allow two male mentors per district. And so Johanna is forced to mentor tributes older than her sixteen years just one year after winning the Games herself.
The tributes don't take her seriously. Why should they? Johanna knows that she comes across as unapproachable and rude and uncaring. The simple answer is that she doesn't want to be approached, isn't nice, and doesn't care. The more complicated answer is that she doesn't want them to die and wants to block the memories of her own Games. The real answer is that she wishes she could go back into the Games and die.
Blight probably wants to strangle her right now because instead of being with her tributes, Johanna is aimlessly wandering the Training Center, briskly walking in the opposite direction if she hears footsteps or senses an incoming presence. She wants to clear her thoughts and not think about where she is or why she is here. People call her reclusive and it's probably true, but wouldn't they be if everything had been taken from them, too? Johanna is friendless, family-less, and freedom-less. That's enough to drive anyone to depression, or at least a morphling addiction which Blight had cut in on after only two months, much to Johanna's dismay.
Eventually, Johanna finds herself on the roof. She stares up at the stars and wonders what it's like to fly, or maybe what it's like to fall. After all, isn't flying merely falling? She wonders how far it is to the ground and how painful the landing would be.
But her depressed thoughts are interrupted by a sniff that comes from behind her. Wanting to be alone, Johanna frowns, but realizes that she is the one intruding, not the other person. She figures that he or she probably wants to be alone, but hearing them cry makes her want to cry, too, and she thinks that maybe two criers should sit together. So Johanna walks towards the sound of the crying and, nestled between a large mechanical object that Johanna didn't know the name of and the walls of the stairway back to civilization (or is it hell?), sits Panem's resident heartthrob, Finnick Odair.
Part of Johanna wants to make a joke and ask why the tough guy is crying, but she knows that such a comment would be mean and she really doesn't feel like acting like a snob when really she just wants to cry with him.
She doesn't ask, but simply sits down next to Finnick. Neither says anything, but Johanna knows that he must be wondering why she's here. Johanna can't help it but the tears that were never allowed to fall for the last year begin to come. Only a fragment of Johanna's sad mind wonders why Finnick is crying when he has the perfect life. When would the great Finnick Odair ever have to cry?
Johanna doesn't mean to, but she blurts out, "He killed my family. And I'm afraid." The tears fall harder and Finnick grabs her hand, squeezing it gently.
"Me, too," he says. They continue to sit in silence, staring at the dark skies through blurry eyes. Finally, Finnick breaks the sound of despair and asks, "How hard would it be to jump off the edge of the building?"
Johanna shrugs, wiping tears off her cheeks with her free hand. "I don't know."
"I don't think I can do this," Johanna whispers so softly that she doesn't know if Finnick heard.
Finnick squeezes her hand. "Sure you can. It gets easier, for the most part. The voices stick around for a while until you get so used to them that they disappear. The guilt fades because you realize that everyone is guilty. The nightmares don't stop. They'll plague your nights until you're afraid to sleep. But then someone sensible will give you something to ease the pain for a while. And the fear…it never leaves. At least not for me. I'm constantly afraid that he'll kill them."
"He already has," Johanna answers. "I guess I'm lucky."
"No, you're not." Finnick pauses briefly. "None of us victors are. The lucky ones are the ones who get to die in the arena. I think about dying every day, but only my family keeps me here."
"I don't have anyone," Johanna says. "I should just throw myself off the edge of the building. Everyone would be better off."
Finnick sighs, "Don't say that. I—we have to be here for each other. To check up on each other. To save each other. I won't let you fall."
Johanna turns her head and looks into Finnick's eyes for the first time. She can't help but admit that they're a gorgeous sea green, shining from the tears. Squeezing his hand, she looks away. "Even if I don't want you to?"
A pause. "Especially if you don't want me to."
"Don't look so sharp, don't judge so harsh, you don't know you're only spying." –Regina Spektor, "Firewood"
70th Hunger Games
"Finnick, calm down," Johanna says, not even bothering to look up from her Capitol tabloid. She is sitting on Finnick's sofa with her feet up on the coffee table. "You look fine."
"Unlike you, Johanna," he says sullenly, "I have a reputation to uphold."
"The reputation of a hooker," she says under her breath.
Rolling his eyes, Finnick says, "I heard that." Johanna looks up and scowls at him. "Come on, Jo, you know I look sexy."
"Sure," she says, not bothering to look up again. "And don't call me Jo."
Finnick sighs, turning back to the mirror to fix his bow tie. "Just get used to it. Johanna is a mouthful, and half the time it sounds like 'Joanna', and I know you hate that. Therefore, Jo is what I'm going to call you. After all, that's what best friends are for."
"Whoever said we were best friends?" Johanna asks, raising her eyebrows and catching Finnick's eyes in the mirror's reflection.
He feigns confusion. "What do you mean? Who doesn't want to be friends with this?" And as usual when acting like a complete tool (as Johanna thought), Finnick strikes a pose that was considered by the woman in the Capitol as seductive. Mostly, it just makes Johanna sick.
"Ugh," she groans, turning back to the tabloid. "I can think of lots of people." She could practically hear Finnick rolling his eyes as he put his dinner jacket on. Johanna turns the page of the magazine, and groans as she looks at the pictures that the paparazzi had taken of victors around the Capitol.
Finnick walks over to his kitchen and pours himself a glass of single malt scotch. "Are you sure no one saw you come into the building?"
Johanna is the one to roll her eyes this time. Tucking her legs up under her, she says, "Yes, Finnick, I am absolutely positive that no one saw me come into the building that anyone could live in."
"We have reputations to uphold, Johanna. We…I have family to protect."
She knows she is in trouble when he uses her full name. Johanna tries to ignore the inkling of hurt in her heart when he uses her lack of family against her. But as typical of Johanna, she says, "And it would do no good for Finnick Odair and Johanna Mason to be sleeping together. I know." She rises, slipping her shoes on, and heads for the door. "And I won't be coming back."
She is about to open the door when Finnick stops her. "Are you really wearing that to the dinner tonight?"
Johanna rolls her eyes and turns around. "Does it matter?"
Finnick sighs, putting his glass back on the counter. "What you wear to a club on the weekend is not what you wear to a dinner given by the president."
"Well, don't you sound like Cecelia? I look fine."
"I'm just looking out for you, Jo. You're my friend. If you make trouble for Snow, he'll make trouble for you."
Johanna sighs. "I really don't give a damn what Snow thinks of me." She turns to the door but is once again interrupted.
"Do you care what I think?"
Johanna's hand hesitates on the doorknob. What does she think? Does she care what Finnick thinks? Johanna turns, meeting Finnick's eyes. "What do you think?"
Finnick represses a grin, knowing that he's won this battle. "I think you should look nicer for the victors' dinner. The interviews are tomorrow night and we want to keep Snow happy so he doesn't have our tributes killed."
"Mine don't stand a chance," Johanna says. "The boy is cocky and the girl is twelve. You saw their scores. They won't make it past the bloodbath." She hesitates, choosing her words carefully. "But if it means that much to you, I'll change."
"Good," Finnick says, walking into his bedroom.
Johanna follows. "What are you doing?" She pauses in the doorframe, feeling it an invasion of privacy to enter his private space. Finnick pulls a floor length dress out from his closet. "What is that?"
"You may not be accustomed to it," Finnick says with a spark in his eye, "but it's called a dress. Civilized women wear them."
"Then what am I wearing?" Johanna asks, referring to her clothing—short and sequined, a gift from a fan that Johanna would usually have ignored but she needed a dress last minute.
Finnick smirks. "An undersized dress that is entirely too tight."
"Am I," she pauses briefly, posing in a 'Finnick-worthy' seductive pose, "distracting you?"
"Completely," he says, rolling his eyes. "Put it on. I got it for you. I have more money than I know what to do with."
"So do I," she points out, stripping to her undergarments, knowing that Finnick wouldn't really care. Strangely enough, he averts his eyes politely until she has slid the purple dress over her head. "How did you know my size?" she asks, but then answers her own question, scowling all the time. "Aurelia. That b—"
Finnick holds up a hand to stop her, shaking his head. "You look really nice, Jo."
She scowls at the nickname, but crosses her arms and mutters, "Thanks." Johanna glances in the mirror and exclaims, "Finnick! How is this not inappropriate? My boobs are practically hanging out!"
He laughs. "You look fine. Now come on; you have to leave before me so people don't think we came together."
"Would it really be so bad if the world knew we were friends?" asks Johanna with a slight frown.
Finnick gives her a sad smile. "I'm sorry, Jo, but if Snow thinks that I'm shirking my duties, he might take it out on my family. I don't want to risk it."
Johanna nods and says, "I get it. I'll see you at dinner." And then she's gone.
"It started out as a feeling, which then grew into a hope, which then turned into a quiet thought, which then turned into a quiet word." –Regina Spektor, "The Call"
71st Hunger Games
Rain taps against the window, drowning out the sound of sobs in the dark room. Lightning flashes and thunder roars simultaneously, making Johanna jump ever so slightly. When briefly lit up, the living room looks eerie, as if it were dead. Johanna rests her head on Finnick's, even though his body is shaking in her arms. His head is on her shoulder, staining her shirt with his tears. They sit on the floor, leaning on the couch, waiting for the storm to pass.
Johanna had been dozing on her couch, occasionally watching her television for a few moments before falling back asleep. She had been startled at the sound of a knock at her door, but the sight of Finnick standing there, drenched to the bone, had been too much to bear. Johanna had let him in and he immediately wrapped his arms around her. She took him to the couch, but he sat on the floor instead, not wanting to get her furniture wet. Johanna had wrapped her arms around him while he cried.
Finnick had been with a client. This one was particularly rough. He wouldn't tell her who it was. But just the job itself became overwhelming at times, and Finnick often felt sad from his circumstances and angry with himself for allowing himself to continue with this. But then he thought of his family and slept with another patron. During the Games, like now, he could see up to three people a night. And then he would show up at Johanna's door.
Technically, mentors were supposed to stay at the Training Center, but since Johanna's apartment was so close, she chose to stay there instead. Finnick wasn't mentoring this year, but he was required to come to the Capitol anyway, for obvious reasons.
Johanna finds herself crying with the broken young man, for his situation and for him. It was so unfair. Johanna was often briefly grateful for not subjecting herself to this torture, but then she remembers that her family had died because of her choices, and she goes back to blaming herself. After all, it had been three years since her family was killed. She hates going back to District 7, so every time Finnick comes to the Capitol, Johanna joins him.
That's what best friends are for.
When she thinks of Finnick as her best friend and realizes that it is his strong and warm body pressed up against her, Johanna gets a feeling in her stomach that she's never felt before, but often heard her sister describe. Butterflies. And when he smiles at her in the good times, she melts. And when he gives his false smile to someone else, he fakes it so well that Johanna feels angry. Jealous.
What does she really feel for Finnick?
All the signs point to Johanna liking Finnick as more than a friend. But how was that possible? Johanna would never have allowed herself to fall for someone in a world as dangerous as hers. Yet it happened outside of her control, without her permission. And she couldn't stop it.
She feels Finnick breathing, trying to gain control over his sobs. He is still shaking but he manages to say, "I think I love her, Jo."
"Huh?" she asks, her heart jumping into her throat.
"Annie. I think I love Annie."
And then her stomach plummets and tears come to her eyes. As hard as Johanna tries, she cannot control these emotions she feels for Finnick. But for both of their sakes, especially Finnick's, Johanna has to fake it.
"I'm so happy for you, Finnick. She'll make it home. I know it."
In reality, Johanna knows that Annie Cresta has no chance in the arena. It was a miracle that she had made it past the bloodbath at the cornucopia. It would be sheer luck if she made it through the first night. Annie Cresta wouldn't last much longer in the arena. Johanna faked weakness during her own Games but really was strong under the tears. Annie wasn't strong. She didn't have the makings of a victor. She couldn't handle this life. This secret torture that not even the elite of Panem's Capitol knew about. These day to day horrors that were inescapable without the help of alcohol or morphling, as so many had learned.
But when Johanna is with Finnick, even if only seeing him from across the room at a victors' luncheon or briefly during the Opening Ceremonies, she is able to forget the terrible things that had happened in her life. Johanna is able to think of good things, like the time she knew she would spend with him that night, even if they were both sobbing the whole time before falling asleep on the couch, their hair damp with each other's tears.
It makes her want to cry that Finnick loves Annie, and not her. But maybe someday…
Yes, Annie wouldn't make it out of the arena. And Johanna would be there for Finnick when she didn't.
"You are my sweetest downfall, I loved you first." –Regina Spektor, "Samson"
72nd Hunger Games
Johanna is genuinely surprised when Finnick shows up at her apartment in the middle of the day with tears in his eyes. She had just arrived in the Capitol for the start of preparation for the 72nd Hunger Games. "Hello," she says, raising her eyebrows. As much as she hated to admit it, Johanna had missed him, especially knowing that he was back home in District 4, spending time with his wonderful Annie. She would never admit to being bitterly jealous of the girl who was growing increasingly insane—just 'lost', as Finnick had explained in one of their occasional phone calls. He was 'working on bringing her back.'
Even though she knows it's wrong, Johanna secretly wishes that Annie will be lost forever.
"He wants Annie."
"What?" Johanna asks, stepping aside so Finnick can come into her apartment.
Finnick takes a deep breath and manages to say, his voice dripping with disgust, "Snow wants to have Annie be one of us…someone like me. A whore."
Johanna exhales a breath she didn't realize she had been holding. "I'm so sorry, Finnick. I can't believe—"
He interrupts, "Will you take her place?"
It takes a moment to sink in. "You're asking me to…to allow Snow to make me his slut so your girlfriend doesn't have to?"
Finnick nods tentatively. "Annie can't handle it. She isn't strong like you. It'll break her."
Tears leap to Johanna's eyes. "It'll break me, too, Finnick! I'm not as strong as you think I am."
"Jo, you are so much more than Annie could ever be. She doesn't deserve that lifestyle."
"And I do?"
He is quick to backtrack, to make amends. "That's not what I mean."
Johanna runs a hand through her short hair. It feels light on her head. "How can you possibly think you can just come here and beg me to replace your crazy girlfriend as the Capitol's latest whore? I had my chance, and my family was killed for it. Don't you think it matters to me if I sell myself? You never think of how these things make me feel, Finnick!"
Confusion crosses his face like he is just realizing this for the first time. "That's not what I meant, Jo. You know that I-"
"What?" she demands, arms folded across her chest to guard herself, to guard her heart from its inevitable break. She should have seen it coming, ever since Annie Cresta made it out of the arena alive. "Know that you what? I let you in more than I've ever let anyone in, and in return I get asked to go sleep with the whole Capitol just to save one person. If I didn't even do that for my family, what makes you think I'll do it for you?"
He is silent, but she isn't done. Now that she's started arguing, there doesn't seem to be anything she can do to stop it.
"I'm always taking care of you, and I'm done! All you are is a big baby! You don't think of anyone but yourself, you can't handle the pressure life throws at you. I always do everything for you, but I won't do this. Now get out of my apartment!" She runs to the door and yanks it open, tears falling freely down her face—the first time she has cried out in the open and not in the dark. When Finnick is in the hall, she shouts, "And stay out!" She promptly slams the door in his face, bolting it so he can't even break his way in.
Deep down, Johanna wishes that he would put up a fight and knock on her door, but as she sinks against the door to the floor with her face in her hands, she can hear him walk away slowly. Why would he stay? She had insulted him and Annie. That was low, even for sarcastic and insensitive Johanna Mason.
She sobs into her fists, knowing that she just ruined the one friendship that she had—the one relationship she had left. Johanna was a mess, and she was completely aware of it. Somehow, the thoughts of ruining her friendship with Finnick made Johanna more upset than the thought of working for Snow. Because she was growing to lo—how was she capable of even thinking that word, the terrible l-word?—like Finnick as more than a friend, Johanna knew that she needed that relationship or she, too, would be lost. It wasn't as if she wasn't already broken. How much more messed up can one person get?
And that was how Johanna made up her mind.
"But it was not your fault but mine, and it was your heart on the line; I really fucked it up this time, didn't I my dear?" –Mumford and Sons, "Little Lion Man"
72nd Hunger Games
As soon as he received the message from Snow that he was no longer considering Annie as a potential 'escort', as they were called (was 'Capitol whore' too much? Too obvious?), Finnick knew what happened and that he had messed up.
The rain falls and the lightning lights up the dark room, illuminating the figures of Finnick Odair holding a crying Johanna Mason in his lap. He gently rubs her back and runs his hands through her hair, whispering things along the lines of "Thank you" in her ears. Finnick knows that she is sorry for the things she said the day before, or she wouldn't have done this to herself, but he can't but feel indebted to her forever.
Finnick had wanted to warn her of the things to come before she met with her first client, but he hadn't seen her since their fight yesterday, and Snow didn't inform him of his victory until Johanna was already meeting with her first client. Finnick stayed up, waiting for her, until she had shown up here as soon as she could after the fact, already crying, huddled in a ball on the floor in the hall. He had picked her up and carried her to the sofa, feeling completely to blame.
So far, it had been two hours of tears inside and rain outside. Even Finnick had shed a few tears because of his best friend's fate. Suddenly, Johanna sits up, looks Finnick in the eyes and says, "You suck."
He gives a bitter laugh, glad to see that Johanna is back to normal.
"Seriously. I hate you."
This time, Finnick can't control himself. He actually laughs out loud, followed by a giggle from Johanna, and it isn't long before they are laughing hysterically because of their horrendous situation. Once they're out of breath, Johanna wraps her arms around Finnick's neck, and hugs him tightly. Finnick presses his face into her hair, breathing in that familiar Capitol scent with a tinge of unspeakable intimacy. It disgusts him, but at the same time makes him realize how much Johanna must care for Annie, or at least for Finnick, and how much she must value their friendship.
Knowing all of what Johanna has done for him, Finnick wonders what she feels about him. Could she possibly have romantic feelings toward him? Surely not. Obviously, she respects his relationship with Annie because of the secrecy she helps him to uphold and the simple fact that she agreed to cooperate with President Snow and sell her body so Annie wouldn't have to. How did the complication called Johanna Mason really feel about Finnick Odair? More importantly, what exactly did Finnick feel for Johanna?
"Hey, Jo?" he whispers. She murmurs faintly in reply, and he knows that she is almost asleep. "I just want to say thank you. It means a lot to me that you would do this for Annie."
She inhales cautiously and softly says, "I didn't do this for Annie. I did it for you."
And, somehow, Finnick surprises himself when he answers, "I know."
"It's getting dark, and it's all too quiet, and I can't trust anything now, and it's coming over you like it's all a big mistake." –Taylor Swift, "Haunted"
72nd Hunger Games
Weeks of endless torture pass for Johanna and Finnick. Night after night, they are subjected to their worst nightmares, only to wake up and relive it. They spend several nights on the floor in each other's apartments, having exchanged keys long ago. Even when Finnick isn't there, Johanna lets herself in, just to feel the comfort of his very presence. She knows that he does the same at her place. The tears fall and the pain subsides, but the memories and nightmares will never leave. Every day, Finnick thanks whoever's out there that Annie isn't subjected to this terror, and that he has Johanna as a friend.
To Johanna, District 7 is full of horrible memories and pain and judgments, so she doesn't spend much time there. Any time Finnick is in the Capitol because Snow requires him to be (which is frequently), Johanna joins him, knowing that he needs her as much as she needs him in return. And really, Johanna would much rather spend her copious amounts of free time with Finnick in the place she hates most while he talks about how much he loves someone who isn't Johanna, than to be alone. Finnick is worth it.
These nights are often the same. Whoever is finished with their job goes to the previously agreed upon apartment and waits for the other. They cry all they can, fall asleep while on the sofa or leaning against it, and wake up just to carry on their business. Words hardly come anymore.
However, tonight is different. It's an old celebration from before the Dark Days, only celebrated in the Capitol, where gift-giving is financially acceptable. Finnick is sure that it must mean something in the grand scheme of things, but Johanna isn't sure. The notion of some higher power controlling all is ridiculous to her. Surely it would stop this hell of a life they were living. At this time of year, the Capitol is the coldest and most snow-covered it is all year, and the buildings are all decorated for this ancient holiday called Christmas Eve, followed by Christmas Day.
They laugh, for once, while opening the gift they got for each other. Finnick immediately gets two glass tumblers from the kitchen and opens the bottle of scotch that Johanna got him, knowing he has a certain fondness for it. Sitting on the floor again, Finnick smiles widely, and toasts, "To victory!"
"And may the odds be ever in your favor!" Johanna adds on, lightly touching her glass to his. They each drink, glad that tonight is merry and not otherwise, as usual. "Stop being selfish, Finnick; it's my turn to open presents! Well, present," she amended, putting emphasis on the singular form of the word.
"Oh, how selfish of me," Finnick says grandly. "I should never take up your gift time. Now, go on, open it!" Just for good measure, he adds his characteristic wink on to the end.
Johanna rolls her eyes and rips the wrapping paper into shreds, not caring that someone in a poor district could have used it for something. Upon seeing the box in her hands, Johanna is slightly confused. Make that really confused. "It's a…doll."
"No!" Finnick argues. "It's a genuine Finnick Odair action figure! So you can cuddle with me all the time and whisper your secrets in my open ears, like the rest of the world."
She laughs. "Yes, because that's what we do. Don't worry; mini-Finnick is now my most prized possession. I shall treasure him always."
"As it should be," Finnick adds on, beginning to feel a little tipsy from all the alcohol he has consumed. Even Johanna can admit to feeling a little lighter. "And I figured that you could put pins in it if someone was really on your nerves. I mean, I would appreciate lots of hugs and cuddles, but pins are fine, too."
Johanna cracks a smile and shakes her head. "You're impossible."
"If you say so."
Finnick smiles softly and stares at Johanna. She can't help but admit that she wants to be lost in his sea-green eyes forever, as terribly girly as that sounds. Johanna's smile grows the tiniest bit, and her stomach gets that funny butterfly feeling when Finnick touches her hair, leaning in slowly. His lips touch hers, and Johanna feels special, for once, but then reality hits and she pulls away.
The eyes penetrating the walls she had built look confused, and Johanna quickly says, "Annie—"
Finnick takes a deep breath and says, tears coming to his eyes, "She doesn't underst—she will never understand. I have to feel something. I never feel anything. I need purpose in life; I can't just be idle anymore. I need this. I…I need you, Jo."
She gives the tiniest of smiles before she kisses him, his tears wetting her cheeks. A few brief kisses are exchanged before it becomes more heated, with feelings growing in Johanna she hasn't known. She wraps her arms around his neck and tangles her fingers in his hair. Finnick pulls her close to him and they get to their knees to be closer. Soon, Finnick lifts Johanna up and she wraps her legs around his hips, never breaking the passionate kiss.
Finnick stands and carries her across the space to his bedroom, into a territory rarely breached by either of them, especially not together. Only stopping to pull his shirt over his head, Finnick maneuvers skillfully through the apartment. Johanna can't even describe the warm feeling of his bare chest against her still-clothed body.
He sets her down on the bed, and tentatively, yet breathlessly, asks, "Jo, are you—"
"Yes," Johanna interrupts, pulling him down to kiss him. "More than anything."
And so, after years of friendship and months of mutual understanding, Finnick and Johanna become more beneath a moonless sky.
"I remember tears streaming down your face when I said I'll never let you go, when all those shadows almost killed your light. And I remember you said, 'Don't leave me here alone'. But all that's dead and gone and past tonight." –Taylor Swift, "Safe and Sound"
After 73rd Hunger Games
These days, it's rare when Finnick Odair is able to get away from the Capitol long enough to go home. But after the death of his father in a fishing accident (which may or may not be a real accident), and the subsequent death of his mother from heartbreak, Finnick is allowed to go home for as much time as he needs. He knows that it will only be for a month or so because the 73rd Victory Tour will interrupt his peace.
This precious time spent at home is often on the beach with Annie, who is growing increasingly further into herself. Finnick holds her hand for hours, occasionally trying to get her to speak. He draws pictures in the sand and often writes Annie Odair before quickly erasing it, afraid that anyone will see it. Not that it really matters, because his Annie has already been taken from him.
A particularly large wave crashes on the sand, the water rushing up to tickle the toes of the broken man and the lost woman. And then all hell breaks loose.
Annie begins to scream, covering her ears and squeezing her eyes as tight as possible. Finnick immediately wraps his arms around her, trying to calm her down. She thrashes and fights him for a few seconds, but then his strong arms pull her against his bare chest and he repeatedly kisses her hair. Eventually, the violent spell passes, and Annie turns to cry against Finnick's chest. He gently rubs her back, and tells her, "Don't worry, Annie, I'll be here. I'll always be here. I love you, Annie."
These words ignite guilt in Finnick's heart. He knows that Mags can take care of Annie while he is in the Capitol, praying that the world forgets about Annie Cresta, but it breaks his heart that he can't be with her all the time. He feels dirty when thinking of all the people he sleeps with in the Capitol, but knows that he does it to keep Annie safe. Finnick wishes he could explain things to her so she wouldn't always be left in the dark, but he knows that it could jeopardize her safety and she wouldn't understand.
Finally, one of the moments that Finnick does all this work for comes. "Finnick?" Annie mumbles.
The man in question looks down at her with a smile. "Yes?"
Annie smiles at him and says, "How long will you be here?"
"No, I mean, how long will you be here?"
Finnick sighs, puts one of his many false faces, and lies, "As long as you need me, Annie."
She exhales, visibly relaxing. "I'll always need you, Finnick."
He wishes he could promise to be here forever, but Finnick knows that such a promise would be impossible to keep. Staring out into the sea, Finnick wonders if they could run away, and get away from the lies and secrets and Games. Away from the nightmares and the memories. They could make it, him and Annie. A detailed plan starts to evolve in his mind, but then, for the first time since arriving in District 4, Finnick remembers to think of Johanna.
Just thinking about her makes him feel like an adulterer.
If she knew what he was thinking, Finnick would surely be cussed out, beat down, and yelled at for even daydreaming of such a stupid idea. They would never make it, because Annie would always have nightmares and they would always be running, even if there was somewhere else to go out there.
Finnick sighs, knowing that Johanna would feel betrayed if he left Panem without telling her. He really was her only friend. Occasionally, Johanna would play nice with the other children, but it was only ever with Haymitch, Chaff, or Blight. And it was rare. Johanna was often considered the black sheep of the victors. No one really liked her because she came across as rude, self-centered, and insensitive. Finnick knows he is lucky to know the real Johanna—a sad young woman who is just as broken as everyone else.
Annie shifts to draw back and look up into Finnick's eyes. "Do you love me?" she asks, as simply as if she were asking if the ocean was full of fish.
Only slightly surprised, Finnick answers, "I'll always love you, Annie."
Making up his mind, Finnick leans in and gently kisses Annie for the first time. Damn the odds.