Author's note: And now, here is the promised alternative ending, in which Finnick doesn't not die! Yay! :D
Before I begin, I'd like to thank all the readers who have favorited and/or subscribed to the story, or even just read it at all. :)
Thanks especially to the following reviewers: The Fancy Unicorn, "HG3" (guest), hungergamesloverswimmer, "NarianFanatic" (guest), sweethearts together, all the unnamed guests, Pinky50142, MandyHarry64, Kate, livingstrong617, "Beth" (guest), SweetLoveOfMine, President May/Mia, FirePearl97, "Lois" (guest), "abby lynn" (guest), "Ms. Foxface" (guest), BookwormGeekGirl, Purplelover6606, Fastlivxxx, Ecarg, BR2607, Cyanide X-Ray, iamnumbernine, THE SASSINATOR, "Mystery" (guest), Loopy, a guest named Brittany, "Aurora" (guest), "Maddison" (guest), obsessedchick44, Jess, Books 'N' Life, safeandsound12, Lheachan, Peeta's a Stalker, Kumi209, PolahOdairEverllark, MissBunburyHope, FannieForever15, Erantera109, shallowcresent18, "Weesie Pie" (guest), Gamemaker John, xx-Want-A-Sugar-Cube-xx, "I love Fannie" (guest), Dracolover, " Sujin" (guest), BestFan00, "Abby" (guest), music lover from district 4, thg170400, ButterflyBlueEyes, SandraOP, SimplyoneHellofawriter2, and izzyTod (Phew, that's a lot! Sorry if I missed any!)
The title of this alternate ending is comes from the song "Sweet Annie" by Zac Brown Band. The first time I heard it, I of course thought of Finnick and Annie. Look it up if you haven't heard it. It's really adorable. :)
Warning: Somewhat gruesome and disturbing descriptions ahead.
Finnick and His Sweet Annie
Pollux leads us about thirty feet down the Transfer and through a doorway past the main sewer. He smacks a ladder and points up. That's our way out.
"Wait! Where are Jackson and Leeg 1?" Katniss asks.
"They stayed behind at the Grinder to hold the mutts back," Homes replies.
"What?" Katniss cries, horrified, and begins to run back, but Homes stops her.
"Don't waste their lives, Katniss. It's too late for them. Look!" Homes says, point to the pipe where mutts have now appeared.
We open fire at them immediately, but it's no use. They can die, but not easily.
"Everyone up!" I yell. "Now!" First Pollux. Then Katniss, followed by Peeta, Cressida, and lastly Gale. Meanwhile, I struggle to fight off the mutts I've never fought so hard in my life…
I stand on the bottom rung on the ladder, firing at the mutts as fast as I can load the gun again while trying to scramble backwards up the ladder. One of the mutts sinks its teeth into my leg, and yanks, tearing the flesh and muscles. The pain is worse than anything I've ever experienced in either of my arenas, and it takes a moment to realize the deafening scream of agony had come from me.
"Someone's still alive!" I hear Katniss exclaim from above.
Gale mutters something in protest, probably assuming I'm dead, but Katniss ignores him, and retreats back down the ladder. She fires at the mutt attached to my leg, who I suspect could bite straight through the bone if it focuses on putting pressure into its jaw instead of tearing the flesh and ligaments off my skeleton. The mutt falls to the ground in a daze, but it's certainly not dead yet. More are coming, but I'm too much in shock to do much about it. "Finnick! Move!" Katniss cries, taking my hand and hoisting me up the ladder, banging my injured leg on the ladder along the way. Katniss quickly removes the Holo from her belt, mutters the word "nightlock" three times, and thrusts it down the pipe, bits and pieces of mutt flying everywhere.
For the first time, I glance down to see what damage the mutts have caused. The wound is so bad, I nearly pass out from just the sight of it, since I'm already dizzy and in shock as it is. Parts of my flesh are totally gone, and the bloody muscles and tendons look like raw ground meat. Also, the lower part of my femur and upper part of my tibia are visible. I wouldn't be surprised if they were broken. Meanwhile, someone ties a bandage around my leg and Gale's neck as I fight to stay conscious. Do not pass out, I slightly beg. But that's easier said than done.
When I come to again, I find myself in some sort of basement. Cressida and Katniss both look at me in concern, while Gale, Pollux, and Peeta are all still fast asleep. I let out a small moan as I try to ignore the pain in my leg. "Where are we?" I ask, my voice coming out as a weak whisper. "What happened?"
"We're in an acquaintance of mine's shop. We can trust her." Cressida explains. "Your leg is pretty badly wounded. Katniss patched it up as best as she could… but there's no way you'd be able to stand on it, not for a long time."
I frown slightly, biting my lip. I could have very well died in that tunnel. Yet, because of Katniss, I didn't. I'm not sure how much better off I am, though. In my immobile state, I would only slow everyone down if we ever need a quick getaway. We will eventually have to move, whether it's because of an attack, or a need to carry out the mission, and when we do, it's clear that I will be staying here. I still could die here.
It soon becomes clear that Katniss and the others will need to leave when the Capitol announces that the residents still in their homes will be expected to take in refugees. This will certainly include our own hostess, Tigris. If the others don't leave soon, they'll be trapped in the cellar, at risk of being discovered. It's decided that I must stay here, hidden away in Tigris's cellar. Really, it's my best chance of survival.
In the days that follow, Tigris continues to feed me and change my bandages. She also puts dozens of canned food and bottles of water within my reach in case she can't help me any longer. Shortly after the others have left, a hoard of refugees flood Tigris's shop. They're not exactly quiet, and their frantic voices easily drift down to me in the cellar. If they find me, I could be surrounded by the Finnick Odair fan club. On the other hand, they could view me as the rebel I truly am. Or, the refugees could be a mixture of both cases. Either way, whether they love me or hate me, I'm not in the mood to meet them.
Days pass. After a while, the voices slowly fade away until I can't hear them anymore. Soon after, Tigris comes down.
"What's going on?" I ask her. It's as if I've been living alone in a dark cellar for days on end, I'm so clueless. Oh, that's right… I have.
"The rebels have won," Tigris says, smiling slightly.
"What happens now?"
"I will most likely be allowed to stay in my shop, since I have connections to Cressida and Plutarch Heavensbee," Tigris replies. "I will be trying to get in touch with him in District Thirteen to see if we can get a hovercraft to take you back and get you better medical attention than anything I can give you."
I nod. "Thank you, Tigris. For everything you've done."
Tigris gives a small smile and proceeds to change my bandages. A smile spreads across my face as well, and stays there for a while. I'm going back to Thirteen, back to Annie. And then, we can go home.
A hovercraft descends into the center of District Thirteen, drowning out all the voices surrounding me. Not that I was listening to any of the conversations anyway. I'm too excited for what's on the hovercraft. Finnick. My Finnick. He's finally coming back, and I'm here to greet him the moment he steps off the hovercraft. Or, I guess, is rolled off the hovercraft on a stretcher, as Mrs. Everdeen tells me his leg was badly injured in the fighting. But he's alive and coming back to me, and that's all that matters.
Finally, the hovercraft touches the ground and the roar of its motor slowly comes to a halt. The door is opened, and two soldiers lower the ramp. I crane my neck, scanning the entrance of the hovercraft. Then, there he is, his bronze hair tousled as if it's been through a hurricane days ago and hasn't been brushed since. The beginnings of a scruffily beard are visible even from here. His sea green eyes flicker back and forth frantically while searching for both danger and for me. Still, he's as handsome as ever. He's my Finnick. Ignoring the safety barriers, I run straight to him, flinging my arms around his waist with tears of joy streaming down my face.
"Finnick! Finnick, I… I thought you were gone!" I sob hysterically, refusing to let go of him.
"Sh, Annie, it's alright," Finnick says soothingly, gently stroking the tears off my face with his thumb. "I'm here. I'm not going to leave you. And soon, we can go home."
"Home," I sigh happily, burying my head in his chest. "That would be so nice."
And home is where we go several weeks later when Finnick is well. President Snow and President Coin are both dead, and we are safe. Emergency elections were held, and a young woman named Commander Paylor of District Eight was elected. She will serve Panem well, and keep it safe for us all. Mrs. Everdeen is coming with us to Four, to help me with my pregnancy, to care for Finnick's leg, and to build a real hospital for the district. We're not sure how fully Finnick's leg will heal up. He's in a wheelchair right now, and chances are he'll be able to get out of it someday, even if that means walking with a limp for the rest of his life. But there are much, much worse things that could have happened to him, and I'm just thankful to still have him in my life.
Once back in District Four, after we reunite with our family and friends, we first go to our old house in Victor's Village. Ava has been living in it in our absence, but everything is still the same. With no way to get Finnick upstairs, I bring items from our room down to him. "Look, it's Blue," I say, handing Finnick his old stuffed whale.
"So it is! Hm, I think I know of a little baby that would like to inherit this once they're born," he says, tickling my stomach with the stuffed toy and making me laugh.
Our mansion is huge; with six bedrooms and three bathrooms, it has more space then we could ever need. However, most of the rooms, including our bedroom, are up the stairs. There's no way I could get Finnick up there on my own without added technologies. "Finnick?" I ask softly.
"Do you have any interest in staying here in Victor's village our whole lives? Or would you prefer something more… cozy?"
"More cozy?" Finnick asks, shifting in his chair to bring himself closer to me. "What would that entail?"
"Smaller," I reply. "Only three or four bedrooms compared to six. And one level, so you can get around easier. We could still be by the sea, and closer to Meredith. It will be like a fresh start."
Finnick smiles. "I think cozy sounds nice," Finnick agrees and gently leans forward to pull me in for a kiss.
Christmas Eve, Six years later
"When Daddy and Kai gonna be home?" my two-and-a-half daughter asks me curiously. "It almost dark…" Magdalene "Maggie" Arianna Odair, under my close supervision, stands on her tiptoes on the couch in her brand new red Christmas dress, her bronze hair cascaded in ringlets down her back. Named after the dear old Mags whom Finnick and I loved so much, she adores her daddy and big brother more than anything else. She loves her mommy too, but Daddy and Kai are her whole world.
"Soon, sweetheart," I reply softly from my rocking chair that sits beside the couch. "They'll be home soon, and then we can have dinner."
"Okay," Maggie chimes cheerfully and continues to peer out the window. Maggie – for the most part, as she is now in the age known as the "terrible twos" - is a quiet little girl, much like how I was at her age, unlike her rambunctious older brother, five–and-a-half-year old Kai Finnick Odair. She prefers cuddling and hugs over running around outside with Kai, although she tries to do that too. Kai adores his little sister and always makes sure he's not playing too rough with her.
"Dere dey are! Dere dey are!" Maggie suddenly squeals, jumping up and down on the couch. Sure enough, I look out the window to see a delighted, dark-haired little boy running up the path. His father hobbles along at a slower pace, but a wide grin is painted across his face as well. My boys have spent the afternoon fishing at the pier, while Maggie and I spent quality mother/daughter time back here at the house, playing with her treasured dolls and stuffed animals. Now, with dinner and evening activities, we will spend the rest of the night together, just the four of us, using tomorrow, Christmas Day, as the day to spend with Meredith, Ava, and Superior and her husband Julius and their newborn son, Devereaux. Tonight though, was our night. Just the four of us.
"Mommy! Mommy, I caught a fish!" Kai exclaims while Maggie tackles Finnick's leg. "It was too small to eat though, so Daddy put it back so it can get really big so we can eat it later!"
"That's great, sweetheart!" I reply, giving my son a tight hug.
After a dinner of crab and baked potatoes, the four of us sit down to watch classic Christmas movies. Maggie is soon fast asleep in Finnick's lap before the end of the first film. "Sh!" Kai whispers. "Maggie's sleeping. She must be really tired." He says that now as if Maggie's a delicate little girl not much older than an infant who needs to go to bed early, but soon, the five-year-old is curled up in between Finnick and me, his breathing slowed to a gentle purr. I take Kai, and Finnick cradles Maggie in his arms. Together, we carry our sleeping angels to their rooms. Kai is first, into a typical ocean themed room, with waves and fish and sailboats covering the walls. I tuck him into his new "big boy bed" and lightly kiss his forehead before softly leaving the room and following Finnick down the hall to Maggie's.
Maggie's room is definitely one of a little girl, with dolls and stuffed animals overflowing the toy box in the corner. Her pink, purple, and blue walls reflect an extravagant mermaid kingdom, complete with a mermaid princess with a long, sparkling tail. Finnick lays her down in her tiny toddler bed, and we do the same ritual we used with Kai moments before.
"And now," Finnick says once we're back in the living room, "We have time for ourselves." He pulls me close and holds me there, rocking me back and forth and humming soothingly in my ear.
We are Finnick and Annie Odair. Everyone says they have the perfect kids, but I truly believe we couldn't have been more blessed with Kai and Maggie. We have been through so much, much more than two people should have to go through. Between the two of us, we've been through three Hunger Games. We've been through the deaths of family members and others close to us. We've been through separation, left to fear for each other's lives, without any word at all. We've been through a war. But we survived it all. Together. But we will go through so much more together. Good things though. Good, sweet memories that will be with us for the rest of our lives. And most importantly, we'll get to share them together.
Author's note: And that's the end! :') I'm not sure how to feel, since I've been working on this story for a year and five months. It's been quite the journey, that's for sure. Thank you so much to the readers who have stuck with me all this time.
And now an announcement to those who are interested: I'm not quite ready to stop writing about Finnick just yet, so my next story, Change of Tides, will cover the time from Finnick's games until right before Annie's games, where this story began. So a prequel of sorts, you might say, to this story. For those who are interested, you can expect to see it posted hopefully in the early days of the New Year. :)
Merry Christmas (and/or Boxing Day!) and Happy New Year! :)