None of the numerous jokes that Gloss and Cashmere had came up with as we entered the Capitol had prepared me for the reality of the situation.
The people in the Capitol made Izzy appear to be almost normal. Almost.
As our train slowed, the neon crowds gathered on the sides of the streets. They giggled and pointed- the adults talking, children playing with fake swords and knifes. Alec was still in his room, but I took the opportunity to wave-albeit boredly- at the crowds. They seemed to enjoy it, so I deemed that it couldn't be too bad. Cashmere was sitting out of sight of the window, laughing her ass off at the situation. Using my left arm, I held it to my right and stuck my middle finger up in Cashmere's general direction as I waved my right.
The Remake Center made me do the impossible. I admitted to myself that I would rather be back with Izzy than being tortured by the Capitol barbies. It wasn't so bad at first, as they scrubbed my body clean. It was somewhat insulting, admittedly. I was from District One, not a homely outlying district. I showered regularly, so being washed was a bit humiliating.
But I could have dealt with it.
They brushed through my dirty blonde hair roughly, periodically spraying some substance that smelled like strong rust in my hair. The more they sprayed in my hair, the less force they seemed to be using with the brush. It almost seemed like the detangler I had used when I was a little girl, but it bubbled up as it reached my hair.
Everything was done in silence my hair was done. A few minutes after my hair was finished, I heard a loud beep and a door slide open. Looking to the door on instinct, I tilted my head in confusion. The woman who had just walked in looked nothing like the others. She didn't look normal, either, but just…different. She was tall and thin, her skin paler than mine. She had high, defined cheekbones that had metal studs pierced through the flesh. Her eyes were like cats, her pupils an odd an almost tear-shaped pattern. Lining her eyes were thick, feather-like eyelashes of a bright pink tone. She walked over to the man who had done my hair and whispered something that I couldn't quite understand. The two seemed to have a silent conversation for a moment before she turned to me and he left the room. I raised a brow at her, waiting for her to say something.
She was silent as she walked over to me, the clicking of her heels against the cement floor the only sound to be heard. Her arms crossed as she stood in front of me, her eyes trailing down her body. Not many people managed to intimidate me, but she seemed like she could strike my temple with her ridiculous stilettos at any moment and effectively kill me. I shifted, feeling a bit uncomfortable under her gaze. Her hand finally reached out, pulling at my Capitol-issued hospital-like gown. "Off." She demanded, her Capitol accent making such a simple word seem foreign.
"Excuse me?" I asked, jerking away from her.
She sighed, much more loudly than necessary. I narrowed my eyes- I really wasn't in the mood for Capitol-bitchy-Barbie theatrics. "I'm Jada. You're designer. Remove the clothing, I need to see you." Remembering Izzy's suggestion(more like demand) that I do whatever my designer suggests if I wish to get sponsors, I slowly fumbled with the strings until I untied the dress and watched as it fell to the floor. Though there wasn't even the slightest breeze, I shivered as I sat naked before Jada.
Her noise crinkled in disgust as she twirled her finger in my hair, raising it and then untwirling it. She tilted her head for a moment before clicking her tongue. "Unwaxed…" She stated plainly. I raised a brow, not appreciating her tone. She grabbed my wrist, lifting my arm without any assistant on my behalf. She raised it above my head before dropping it, my arm falling like a dead weight. "Raw, but decent. I've had worse, I suppose. A bit on the short side…." She was talking so quietly, I doubted she even knew I could hear her.
"Or so I've heard." I muttered, teeth chattering. As she turned away from me, I crossed my arms to cover my chest.
"Jionni gave me the measurements, so now…It's just…luxury." She turned to me, a sharp grin on her features. She looked a lot better looking like a bitch- her smile was all gums.
"Oh daaaarling," She purred.
"How do you feel about sapphires?" She asked.
"Sapphires?" I asked, confused as to where she was heading.
"Sapphires." She confirmed with a nod. "But first, you need to get waxed." And with that, she left me confused and naked in the cement Capitol room.
Jada was a very odd character, but she did know what she was doing. My costume was nothing like I had ever seen before. I wore a gown that hugged every inch of my body, moderate padding on specific areas making my curves look more desirable according to Capitol standards. My waist looked tiny and it was hard to breathe, but I managed. The fabric was a dark purple that wrapped around me like a bandage, the shade getting lighter the further down it was. The back scooped down, connected only by thin chains of gold that were laced with large and heart-shaped sapphires. My hair was up in a bun, sapphires throughout. Black and white feathers were pressed against my back, arching out to look similar to wings.
I looked like luxury.
Dark, deep, luxurious… Pretty.
As I stepped out of the room, I found Cashmere waiting for me. She looked up from the ground as she saw me approaching her and smirked. "Decent. Now lets go." She said, jumping to her feet.
"Thanks." I said sarcastically, following my mentor down the hall.
"Right, so you're in the first set of horses with Alec." She began to explain, capturing my attention completely.
"Forget everything you prepared for. There's a bunch of crazy ass people who'll be acting like fucking morons. You'll probably freeze up. Remember not to look shocked, no matter how much you might just want to hide. Look confident, not cocky. All that shit." Cashmere nodded in front of us. I tore my gaze from Cashmere's face and to where she was looking. We were now in a large room full of tributes, horses, and mentors. "The white horses are yours. Remember, confident." Cashmere huffed before turning around and walking in the direction we had come from.
"Thanks for all your help!" I called over my shoulder sarcastically without hearing a response. With a huff, I continued to the other end of the room. All of the tributes looked so different, even district partners didn't look the same. By the time I reached District Two's carriages, I let myself have an extra peek at my fellow careers.
The girl, Clove or Clover- something like that, looked absolutely ridiculous as she stared at her reflection, seemingly trying out different intimidating faces. It made me wonder if she was really, legitimately, the hard-ass she was trying to pull off or if she was seriously over-compensating. Next to her was…My mouth suddenly got became extremely wet. Looking like a god(even more so than during the Reaping), Cato Black was hands down the sexiest man I had ever seen in my life. He was taller than I remembered him seeming, and his muscles were even bigger. His costume looked to be that of some sort of soldier of ancient times. Everything was gold and silver, making him look like the competitor that he undoubtedly was. I don't know how long I just stood there, staring at him, before he eventually moved his head in my direction and my glance shifted as fast as it possibly could. Not wanting to get caught drooling over Two, I quickly shuffled to the first set of horses. Just as Cashmere had said, they were white. As I rounded the horses to the carriage, I groaned at what I saw. Alec was already there.
As I came to the back and was able to see his apparel, though, I started laughing. The asshole looked absolutely ridiculous. He was wearing light purple, skin-tight tights. He had no shirt on, but his whole upper-body was clad with light purple Capitol body paint. His chest was impressive, admittedly, or at least would have been if precious gems weren't glued to his skin in intricate patterns. Black and white feathers were intertwined to create a collar against his neck. On his forehead, a tear-drop shaped sapphire was in the center while two small diamonds were pressed on either side. Apparently our designers weren't just going for luxury in general, but the luxurious gemstones that we exported more specifically.
Nevertheless, he looked ridiculous, and the more I laughed- the more pissed off he looked. That just made it even better. I climbed on to the stricture, looking down as I laughed. It was a good thing the jackass was never making it home, I figured, or else the costume might have really hurt his ego.
A dead man's ego isn't important.
"Lookin' good." I choked out, my body shaking.
"Fuck you, bitch." The one thing I would need to give Alec credit for was his quick tongue. The downside was that he had an almost non-existent ability to be creative. All of his comebacks, for the most part, seemed to be identical.
Ignoring his insult, I just smirked to myself and looked forward. I felt the air constrict as our horses began to move forward and in sync. I held my breathe, not sure what to expect. Cashmere said not to expect what I had always prepared and hoped for…To…My breathe caught in my throat.
What had she said?
I began panicking, the smirk slowly dropping from my features. I squeezed the rail, trying to remember what she said. I was shocked by the sudden screaming, and I looked up to find the source. Thousands…possibly hundreds of thousands of people from the Capitol were on our sides, screaming to get our attention and throwing shit towards us.
Flowers, petals, hats…
Then, all of a sudden, the screaming got louder. I looked back, confused, and wondering if something had happened. All I saw was a bunch of stupid looking costumes and a God-like tribute. It wasn't until I looked straight that I saw it on a screen.
I saw them on the screen.
The feminine boy and the brutish, lesbian-appearing bitch from Twelve.
Stealing the attention away from me, stealing the attention away from my district. I felt my eyes narrow at the screen, watching as they lifted their hands up together. The cheers got louder and my stomach began to feel weighed down, as if there was platinum chains making it heavier. I never took my eyes off of the screen, not even after the image went away and President snow began to speak. All of his words seemed to mush in my ears, and my mind went blank until I heard the painfully familiar words.
"And may the odds be ever in your favor."
Everything after I saw the girl on fire was a blur. The ride to the training center, the showing of our apartment, and the gushing of Cinna's brilliance by Izzy. After hearing that even our escort was rooting for the bitch that stole my districts glory- or even her fashion, it was still equally as disgusting- I knew that I had to get out of the apartment before the Capitol bitch met my favorite shiny knife. Against said Capitol bitch's pleads, I stormed to the elevator.
I've never been horrible with technology, but the complexity of the Capitol's symbols and sensors gave me doubts. I studied each complex symbol, each number, until I pressed the one that was presented directly above number twelve's 'penthouse'. The mere thought of the dirty rats getting the penthouse was infuriating enough to get my blood boiling again. I heard a loud beeping noise and felt the elevator move quickly until the doors opened. It was dark outside, though I supposed it was obviously to be expected. I started slowly, wondering if the Capitol was real. They so easily made the arenas so diverse, did they somehow control their climate as well? If the technology existed, they would definitely have it.
I walked straight, stopped by a railing. As I looked over it, I saw a bright lights and people walking carelessly through the streets. I leaned over, resting my head in the palm of my hand. It was so peaceful to see people so oblivious to their surroundings, it reminded me of home. It wasn't as if I missed the place that I grew up, but something about it…it seemed to snuff my anger quicker than anything else at that point.
I was so out of it, that I jumped back when a deep voice came from behind me.
"You realize that if you jump, you'll be bounced back?" The voice chuckled, and that was when I resolved not to look and see who it was. At that point, I didn't care. I just didn't want to know.
"Huh, then I better not jump then, right?" I asked the voice. I kept my eyes down, narrowed at the bright lights below. I stiffened as I felt heat radiating front my right- the guy was standing next to me.
"I wouldn't suggest it." He paused. "Eh, what the hell? It might actually be entertaining."
I chuckled, "Right." I said quickly. "Because I'm right on it."
We were both quiet for a minute. "Listen, one." He began. The words seemed odd, so I looked over to look at him while he was talking to me. My eyes bugged out when I saw who it was. Cato.
"Yeah?" I managed.
"You're district partner, I need to talk to him-"
That brought me back to reality, and I began to laugh as images of Alec in tights began to floor my mind. "Right." I laughed. "Listen, I'm not the bitch's fucking publicist, so…" I shook my head. "So why don't you talk to him yourself?"
He went silent again before grabbing my arm, twisting me to face him. I tried to get out of his hold but he was way too strong for me. My other arm moved to my back to find my knife, only to come up empty handed. I didn't grab it after I changed out of my costume. "Let me," I tugged on my arm, "Fu-cking," I tugged again. "Goooo."
"Don't fucking talk to me like that. Now, I have a question to ask him at training. You make sure he considerers it, yeah?" He asked me slowly, as if I was a small child or a complete fucking moron.
"Go to hell!" I spat, trying to get my arm out of his strong hold.
He pushed my back against railing, "I suggest you do it, one, or you'll be the first to go in the arena." He warned, looking me in the eye as I stood silently. With a small shove, he released my arm and stalked back to the elevator doors. I rubbed my wrist, staring after him as he walked away from me.
What the hell was two's problem?