Title: Hands in the Sky
Rating: T (if/when I get to the point where I need to change the rating, I'll let you know)
Summary: When Katniss loses all hope of surviving the Games, she decides that extreme circumstances call for extreme measures, and she finds that one person in her group of forsaken allies will shift her world on its axis.
Spoilers: everything until the moment after Rue's death and right before the change in game rules remains the same as in both the books and the film.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Hunger Games trilogy or its characters. It all belongs to Suzanne Collins. I am just merely writing for my own entertainment. Also, I don't own the title to this story either, I've simply borrowed it from the title to a Straylight Run song: "Hands in the Sky (Big Shot)".
Despair. The only thing Katniss felt was despair.
It was everywhere. In everything she saw, in everything she heard, in everything she touched...even in the enticing scent the flowers had left in her calloused fingers. It surrounded her. The blow inflicted by losing Rue was almost harder than hearing Prim's name called out at the Reaping.
Once the adrenaline rush of retaliating against the boy from One and giving Rue as proper a funeral as manageable on the arena had worn off, despair was all that had flooded her senses. She finally felt the pain of exertion straining her muscles as she slumped down against a fallen tree bark. The colors of the trees and clear sky now seemed much duller, as if they had been evenly blanketed by a fine sheet of translucent grey fabric casting monotonous shadows upon every surface. The sounds of the forest around her now felt almost foreign to her ears, as if all that would be familiar ever again were Rue's delicate song, and the desperate voices of every other tribute fighting for their life in the arena, incapable of waiting for the future to plague her nightmares. The sweet scent of the flowers-which still lingered on her skin-quickly gave way to the fresh forest air, only to be replaced by the sickening smell of rotting corpses. She knew the disturbing smell was only in her mind, for the hovercrafts didn't leave the bodies in the arena long enough for the remaining tributes to witness their decomposition.
Despair was all she knew then. She had seen other tributes slaughtered upon her first day in the games, yet Rue's death had been the first time she had experienced a deep sense of loss. She couldn't help but wonder the same thing she had wondered out loud with Gale so many times before: what was the point of all of this? The unspoken motive of the Capitol was to keep a tight leash over the Districts, keep them from rebelling again, she knew that; but what danger could a bunch of mostly undernourished teenagers pose to the blurry political entity that the entirety of the Capitol represented? If they wanted to have full control over the Districts, why not use all the money they spent on the games on weaponry and Capitol security instead?
No. The games were more than the mutual massacre of fear-ridden teenagers. As much as she had hated the boy from One mere minutes before, she now felt deeply sorry for his unnecessary death, for all the deaths that had taken place so far, not only in this games, but in all of them. As much as she had despised him for being the one to end Rue's life, she understood that what he had done was the exact same thing they were all supposed to be doing. It was kill or be killed, and she found that she could no longer blame any of the other tributes for each other's deaths. No. The games were just a cleverly cunning façade for the Capitol to reduce the number of people they controlled without actually eliminating their sources of wealth. It was so much larger than that. It was all so much larger than brutally murdering a group of kids: it was a concealed genocide carried out in the slowest way possible.
It was when she took the first bite from the bread she had received from District 11 that it clicked inside her. It was as if in one split second, her mind connected all the dots and pieces of information she had either stored carefully in her memory or dismissed without second thought. Her thoughts immediately prior to that moment, her conversations with Gale about the games, her final understanding of Peeta's words the night before the games began, the alliances on the arena, the loaf of bread from District 11 in honor of Rue...suddenly, it all made sense to her, and for a brief moment, she simply sat high on the tree branch with halfway chewed bread in her mouth and her jaw hanging open.
The bread from District 11. She finished chewing on that first bite and swallowed it slowly as she stared at the large remnants of the loaf in her hands thoughtfully. She knew the price had been too high, but she now realized that Rue's death might just give her exactly what she wanted.