"What if I lose what little control I have left? I may live in a prison now, but at least I know my way around it."
-Nicole Deese, All for Anna
After I had Finn stay to guard Prim and Rue in the infirmary, I stormed back into the control room. The door slammed behind me, making everyone - who didn't have Career training, that is - jump. I stormed over to Gale and Marvel and hissed, "Where is it coming from?"
Gale didn't back down, just looked me square in the eye as he handed me a small piece of paper with coordinates on it.
"She's in the Capitol. Apparently, Coin struck a deal with Snow. The Mockingjay for a ceasefire, but we have it on a good source that Katniss is just trained to kill Snow and Coin will be free to swoop in and take over. She will end the Hunger Games, but there will be one more where they select Capitol children to fight instead. She doesn't care about the country, all she cares about is power."
I scanned the coordinates and almost collapsed in shock.
"I know where she is. That's the training camp I was brought to for a simulation of the Hunger Games when I was thirteen. There are intensive clinics in there, it would make sense they would be able to hijack her. We need to move now."
Haymitch stepped in then, ignoring my growl when he snatched the paper away from me.
"We can't run in there now with guns blazing. We don't know what kind of conditioning Coin as forced her through. For all we know, she could still be standing in that room with a gun to her head, and Roan could be dead."
He said the wrong thing.
I slammed my hand into the table, hard enough to leave a dent in the metal. A soft hand touched my shoulder, and I almost reeled around a punched them until I heard Glimmer's voice say cooly, "We leave now. Roan's taken, Katniss is in trouble, and Coin is going to sell them both out. We need to move now."
Haymitch let out a low groan of frustration before yanking out his gun and checked it for bullets.
"Fine. We move out in an hour. Get armed up and then meet by the hovercrafts. We can plan more on the way there."
I stood there with the gun to my head for a long time. Coin had just smiled at me and left the room, her command still hanging in the air. My muscles burned a little, but no matter what, I knew I couldn't lower my arm.
Everything was different. I could feel every muscle in my body, now toned from the intensive training I had been through. Exhaustion was creeping at the edges of my mind, as I was going on my 50th hour without sleep, but I knew I could probably go through ten more, eight if I had intense physical activity.
My eyesight was sharper, my instincts more honed. Now that I had no emotions, everything was clearer. There was the order and nothing else.
I counted dust motes in the air for about three hours before the door opened behind me with a clang. I didn't flinch, I just stood at attention.
Coin walked around the room, fiddling with a file in her hand and didn't look at me. I might have felt a flicker of irritation, but I was still in my calm little black hole where nothing seemed to touch me.
"Well Mockingjay, it seems like we're going to have company in a little bit. You know plan theta?"
It was obviously a rhetorical question, because I knew every plan she had told me for every single outcome. I nodded minutely, keeping the gun pressed to my temple until she told me not to. Somewhere deep inside my body, the old Katniss was screaming at me to turn the gun on Coin, but the Katniss that was in control now could easily shove her to the back of our mind.
"Activate it. Go out there on the front lines. Remember your training and you will do fine. I might even give you the surprise I had taken from District Thirteen for you."
Something flickered in my mind; the way she said it made me cringe, but I didn't have emotions now…why would she feel the need to provoke me with something she had taken for me?
A small name and a small face rose up in my mind like water, but then quickly darted away again before I could hold onto the image - Roan.
The memories associated with the name bubbled up quickly - gray eyes, a soft body, the sweet scent of innocence in my nose - but then my conditioning kicked in and I was stone cold again.
I slid the gun into the holster on my upper thigh, saluted, and then turned and marched out of the room.
Training lead me through the halls to the front lines, where the other three successful Alpha-Beta-Pi soldiers were. I knew from looking though, that two of them were going to fall by the end of the battle - they were weak looking, the venom slowly tearing away their bodies defenses. When the adrenaline from the battle wore off, they would be gone. The last one, the tall male that was very intimidating, looked like he might last for another week, but then again, I might not last either.
There was no emotion with the realization that I would probably be dead soon.
The entire compound was in an uproar. Apparently Coin had pissed off some people on the Rebellion forces because she had a never-ending need to brag. She had bragged all through my training how she was going to double-cross Snow, how he would never see it coming, and how her moles in the Rebellion would ensure she would end up on the seat of power. One last Hunger Games - this one filled with Capitol children, and very rigged so that many important political figures would lose a child - and then it would be Coin's rule.
Somewhere inside me, the old Katniss was scoffing and fuming at the same time.
I took my position in the ranks, my gun heavy in my hands. I felt a sudden longing for a bow and arrow, but that was pitched right back into the hole in my mind.
The hovercrafts from the enemy forces made no attempt to sneak up on our compound. They must have known we would be ready for them, and they knew that they would be outnumbered. Yet they still came…
They dropped down immediately, and then chaos reigned.
Bullets flew, blood spattered uniforms, and my training kicked in. I was a whirlwind, not even wasting time with bullets and reloading. I just broke necks with my hands and kicks, my thighs capable of strangling a man while my hands killed another. My hard boots, reinforced with a powerful - but still light - metal would crush bone if I put enough force behind it.
Suddenly, my arm was grabbed and I was spun around to face a very familiar looking man.
Tall, olive skin, dark hair and the same gray eyes as me. I tilted my head, confused. Everyone else here had pale features and light colored hair and eyes…but he looked so familiar…
My hands moved without my conscious consent. My fist hit him square in the neck, and he choked, stumbling backwards.
I tempered down my kick to his temple, enough to render him unconscious but not hard enough to kill him. If you asked me why I did it, I wouldn't be able to tell you.
Without allowing myself to look at him even more, I turned to fight some more.
But for the second time, I was caught, both of my hands grasped in one large hand.
My eyes flashed up to meet his, and I froze.
I shouldn't have. Training should have made me keep spinning and fighting and killing until I received Coin's orders to stop or I reached my kill limit.
But the laser blue eyes that captured mine made me pause for a second. Two seconds. Three seconds.
His other hand came up and cupped my face in an achingly familiar gesture. His middle finger rested against my temple and his thumb brushed my lips and chin, so soft and achingly tender.
I jerked back, the single word he said - my name - shocking me out of my lapse in focus. My fist moved, but he caught it in his hand and twisted, spinning me around so my arm was pinned between his chest and my back.
It was like a dance; he lasted so much longer against my fighting than anyone ever had, and it was almost fun in a way to fight someone who wasn't going to drop immediately.
Finally, I gained the upper hand. I pinned him to the ground with my legs, my hands pressing his shoulders down to the ground.
He hissed out, "Katniss, for fuck's sake, it's me, Cato!"
Memories flashed across my mind quickly - blue eyes, a large hand on my bare abdomen, a tongue teasing my shoulder blade, the feel of him all over - and then they were done. But it was enough to make me stagger back, let him free.
What was this?
Cato rose from the ground, his hands held up in the air. It didn't matter we were in the middle of a battlefield, it didn't matter that we could die from a stray bullet, it didn't matter that I was on the precipice of falling back into the blackness or clawing my way out…
I stared at Cato in confusion, trying to place everything that was swirling around my head. Memories and emotions mixed in with command codes and intensive training…
Cato's hands came up and cupped my face again, and I just stood there, my arms limp at my sides and my boots seemingly bolted to the dusty ground.
"Come on. Come back to me Katniss. We're here, you're safe, you don't have to fight anymore…"
His lips pressed to my forehead in a familiar and comforting gesture.
"Give in Katniss. It's okay to give in."
Those were the same words that echoed through my head in the midst of the conditioning torture, but now, with Cato saying them, it was different…it was him telling me it was okay to come back out, to push the darkness away and take the reigns back in my own mind.
But if there was a dark Katniss and a real Katniss, where would one go?
Cato pulled me close to him, my head finding a familiar spot under his collarbone, just under his shoulder and over his heart so I could hear the thumping. His hands pressed into my hips and right in between my shoulder blades, firm enough to make me feel safe but loose enough so I didn't feel like I was being restrained.
I didn't know what to do. The confusion reared again but I slipped my hands around his waist and held him tight to me too, the feel of his firm body so comforting and familiar.
I was inching away from the black hole…I was so close to being back in control…
And then the bullet rang out, and a cry of pain and a splash of blood arched through the air.
I jerked, finally out of the hole in my own mind, firmly in control of my own body enough to look at Cato and really see him…see him as the man I had fallen in love with, see him as the man who had stormed into this compound and fought me to bring me back, his touch gentle even now as he stared in horror.
My eyes drifted down to my shirt, the black material getting darker in a small circle, a circle growing and then trickling down. I raised a hand and poked it, before seeing crimson streaked across my fingers.
I looked at Cato in confusion, but his hands were already on my, pushing me to the ground and pressing down hard on my side. I was numb, I couldn't feel it.
"Katniss, no, don't you dare, you don't get to jump right now, if I had to fight through everything than you do too, you hear me?"
I opened my mouth, trying to tell him that yes, I knew what was happening now, that I was Katniss again, that I would fight and stay with him, but all that trickled out of my mouth was more red.
All I could see was the gray-blue of the sky above me, a strange mixture of my eyes and Cato's.
For the first time in a long while, things didn't go black.
It went white.
A/N: I AM SO SORRY THIS WASN'T UP ON WEDNESDAY! There was a slight family emergency - apparently because my sister is allergic to bees, she is also allergic to honey or something like that - and she was in and out of the ER and when my mom and dad were gone I was playing nurse, like I do all the damn time for her, cause she's like Steve Rodger's pre-serum...catching every damn bug around. But I love my sister dearly, so sorry, she came first. Still love you guys though! Hope this chapter lived up to your expectations, but I know it's a little short. I'm working on all the other fun little twists and turns, but I hope you review cause your response made my day! Also, we're hitting the home stretch, so please please please please please review! Lots of love!