Chapter One: High School

It's the first day at Panem High School. Vick calls to his brother Rory, "Hurry up! You're going to be late!"

Rory runs to the front door. "I'm here!"

"Come on!" shouts Vick.

Rory and Vick run out into the dark outside. Vick wanders off to talk to his many friends.

Rory anxiously bounces on the balls of his feet. 'I promised Mom I would get good grades this year. I'm going to do it.' Prim taps her bouncing friend.

"Rory!" He turns around to face her. "Oh. Hi there."

Prim is excited for her first day at Panem High School. Both she and Rory are freshmen.

She embraces Rory in excitement. "Aren't you excited?"

He loves to hug Prim. She's always wearing a different kind of delightful perfume.

"Woah, Cowgirl! Arms distance!" Katniss shouts.

Katniss, a senior and Prim's sister, greets Rory warmly.

"Aren't you two excited? It's your freshman year!"

"I can't wait to be an official high-schooler!" Prim shouts. "Let's compare schedules, Rory!"

Prim has already compared to her sister, and to their friend Madge, who is a junior, and Vick's girlfriend.

Prim unfolds her neatly and meticulously cared for schedule. Rory uncrinkles his ripped, distorted schedule. They climb on the bus as it pulls up, and the two freshmen compare.

"We have the same math... And science... And history... And lunch!" She squeals, hugging him again, "This is great!"

Both are relieved to have each other in lunch, and Rory is relieved to have his academic classes with Prim.

"Katniss is in our lunch, though," she says with a giggle.

"She's not THAT bad."

Prim shrugs, "You're right."

Katniss sits with her friends in the back of the bus. "Katniss, hey!" says Finch. She flips the red hair from her face.

"Oh, hi!"

"This year is going to be AWESOME!" Thresh cheers, "Our SENIOR YEAR!"

Madge gushes, "And OUR junior year, isn't that right, Vick?"

"Hell yeah!" he cheers.

In the very first seat of the bus sits Rue and her best friend, Skeeter.

"What classes do we have together?" Skeeter and Rue are yet another pair of nervous freshmen, and they compare schedules.

"We have the same math and english," Rue says, "And Glee club."

"But... Not lunch." Both Rue and Skeeter are bummed out.

"We'll just have to make new friends!" Both laugh.

Two seats behind them, Poppy puts her feet up and sketches in her book. She's excited for her art class. She's heard that Mr. Odair is the best teacher ever. Poppy's a sophomore, and, even though her family situation isn't IDEAL, is still glad to live here and attend the amazing Panem High School.

Next to her sits Peeta and his friend Mason. "I'm serious, though, this year is going to be great." Peeta looks up, "Do you really think?" "Of course! We may not exactly have any classes together, but we'll still see each other, I promise. They take another look at the schedules they've carefully compared.

"Well... Hey, we have lunch together!" Peeta grins, and they hi-five.

"That's all that counts, right?" He nods.

On the other side of the town, Gloss throws the last full backpack into his old truck.

"Another sweet first day! For you guys, at least!" he taunts. Marvel, Glimmer, Cato, and Clove pack into Gloss's car, and he revs up the engine.

"This is going to be the best year ever!" All four kids laugh and cheer.

"Senior year, BITCHES!" Cato shouts loudest of all.

"Can't argue with that," Clove smirks. Marvel can't wait until HIS senior year, even though he's only a sophomore. He knows he's got the chops to hang with the big kids, and he's pushed himself into their social group.

Gloss blasts the rock station of the radio, and they speed down the street at 60 miles an hour. "Now THIS is THE PARTY BUS!" Cato screams, met by cheers from the other three. They speed past the school bus, Marvel and Cato hanging out the windows.

"SEE YOU AT SCHOOL, CHUMPS!" Cato roars, and Gloss floors his old truck. They speed past the mortified freshmen. Glimmer, also a senior, who wants in on the action, too, starts another round of cheering and loud singing as they make a sharp turn. The tires screech, and the truck almost tips over.

When they pull into the parking lot of the huge school, Marvel feels lucky to still be alive. Both of the guys wear their Varsity Football coats, and the girls wear skintight jeans and hoodies. Glimmer's wearing Cato's lettered football sweatshirt, and Clove wears a hoody that belonged to her brother, Nikko, when he was in school. Everyone, every age, knows the name Nikko. He's a likable guy.

The bus kids walk into the school. Katniss looks up and sees Glimmer, wearing Cato's hoody, and knowing that nothing's changed from the summer. Not like she cares. Peeta, upon seeing Katniss in the light, smiles largely. Mason punches him, laughing. As for the Freshmen, they are both nervous and excited all at once. Rue and Skeeter run into the school, and Prim's eyes grow large.

Rory is scared out of his mind.

He knows that he's going to need help if he wants to get good grades.

The juniors and sophomores aren't phased at all, they're used to all this.

Rory and Prim bid each other farewell, and arrange a meeting spot to go to first period. Rue and Skeeter hug goodbye, wishing each other well. They don't get to see each other until 3rd period.

Poppy walks into homeroom, where her teacher already has nametags and stacks of paper, including the rulebook. She had heard that Ms. Trinket was a little enthusiastic with the homeroom bonding. She refuses to put the nametag on until she has to. And, to her despair, she's greeted with the same smirking boy that made her morning miserable last year. She buries her head in her notebook as she sits down in her seat, right next to him. 'Maybe he's changed,' she thinks. But, he hasn't. 'As long as he's wearing that stupid football jacket, he'll never change.' She buries her face, lightly adding details to the daisy she was drawing. 'If I'm lucky, he'll just forget I ever existed.'

And he does.

Until Ms. Trinket starts homeroom. "So first, how about we tell each other our names, and our favorite activity. Let's start with you."

The kid introduces himself, and Poppy wants to make a mad dash to the door. But, once Delly finishes introducing herself, it's her turn. "I'm Poppy," she barely whispers. "I draw art." Then, they move on to the boy behind her. She's delighted at how easy that went. Soon, they get through everyone, and Ms. Trinket claps her hands. "Very good!"

Poppy hates this.

Marvel hates this even more.

He doesn't care about any of the people in his homeroom. He notices Poppy, and immediately starts to think of how he can get on her nerves. It's the one thing he's good at, besides football and girls.

Across the school, it takes Rue 6 tries to finally get her locker open. A pretty but quiet girl is her locker partner. Her name is Pandora. She opens the locker in one try. Rue is nice to her, but is sensing a strange vibe in the air when she's around. Pandora is one of those bookworms, and hasn't said a word to anyone since school started.

Skeeter gets his locker open easily, but is very unsure of his locker partner. He seems like a rebel. Rory isn't that fond of Skeeter, either. They split the locker and Rory can deal with it as long as this goody-goody doesn't touch his stuff.

Katniss sits next to Finch in homeroom. The two chat excitedly until Cato walks in.

Finch is bored with it. Why should she care about Cato? She's got Thresh.

Katniss, however, looks at Cato a lot-a-bit differently than last year.

But, Glimmer soon snaps Katniss back to reality, and she sighs.

They go through their first day of school, all finding their classes just fine.

Rue is lonely at lunch. She gets out a notebook that's supposed to be for English, and starts to draw a picture. A few tables down, Mason and Peeta are chatting nonstop and laughing loudly. Right across from them, Marvel scouts the cafeteria for someone, anyone, he knows. He finds no one. Poppy sits in the back, drawing pictures of her own.

The next lunch, Skeeter sits all alone. Prim sits with a group of new friends that she met in her orchestra class. Katniss and Thresh sit at the table beside with Madge, Katniss's eyes secretly watching Prim. Rory is now forced to sit alone, and he puts his tray of food down at a table. Soon, though, he's kicked out by Cato and Clove, who officially declare it to be the cool table. Soon, swarms of cool kids fill the seats, and Rory is forced to move. He sits down again diagonal from Skeeter. Both feel awkward, so they both focus on other things and don't talk.

The last lunch period starts with Glimmer searching for Cato and failing to find him. Finch meets up with Vick, and the two catch up. Athena, a Junior who just transferred to this school, starts eating lunch. She sees Glimmer eating by herself, and decides to start a conversation. When Glimmer kicks her out, starting an everlasting enemocity, Athena takes a different seat, across from some guys being obnoxious. Athena hates it here. She wants to go home, where people were nice to her. The alumni of the glee club sit in a cluster, and Athena wants to go over and introduce herself, but decides against it; she's too anxious.

It's now ninth period, the last period of the day.

Rory and Prim have history together. Rory, who is bored out of his mind, looks to Prim for entertainment, but Prim is listening to Mr. Abernathy contently, just like everyone else in the stupid class.

Rory hates both of his brothers for being such overachievers, and his mom for making him take Honor's classes. He stares out the window mindlessly.

Cato and Glimmer sit in science, where they hold hands. They make cute and sexy faces at each other, not paying attention at all to Mrs. Sae, their boring, old science teacher. Cato looks into Glimmer's eyes, moving his fingers slowly up her stomach, to the side of her breasts. Glimmer waits forever for the bell to ring as Cato starts to feel her up. This is why Glimmer loves having Cato in her classes, and sitting in the back. He always knows how to arouse her.

Marvel is in English. He's once again daydreaming about the hottest person he knows: Glimmer. He wishes for her, craves to have her, each day, as she and Cato make out in the alley by the parking lot. He heaves out a sigh, knowing it'll never happen.

Right next door, Clove daydreams of Cato. She's always wanted him. 'How could he not notice? What do I have do?'

Poppy sits in Mr. Odair's art class, excited. "So, first, I want to see your skills in photography. I'm looking for a yearbook crew, after all." He passes out a sign-up sheet for cameras. These are the newest, best cameras Poppy has ever seen. She's excited. Katniss doesn't know what she wants to do. She's not used to being out of ideas, but today, she is. Peeta's out of inspiration, too, and only thinks of Katniss. He's glad to see her in his art.

Through the walls of the art room, the students hear the faint sound of the choral room, where Mr. Everdeen, Katniss and Prim's father, is listening contently to his kids.

Each one was hand-selected after tons of auditioning, to be in the glee club. Rue sits in the choir room, next to Skeeter. Since they're the only freshmen that made it, they lay low as the other kids bond. Today is bonding day, which is karaoke day for the glee club kids.

Skeeter hates being in a choir room of girls. The only other boy there is so popular, nobody cares that he's in musical.

Besides loving to sing, which he does, there's just one reason he's able to live through these awkward bonding days, and this awkward glee club, and she whispers in his ear now in her delicate voice, "You should go sing a song!"

He shakes his head, "No way!" She giggles. "You know my voice is naked without my guitar!"

Rue laughs at the word, "Naked!"

Skeeter giggles, "We're freshmen now, Rue! We're supposed to be mature!"

"We're the babies of this school! The shy little kids!"

"And what, the seniors are our parents?"

They both giggle. "I guess so." They both roll their eyes, but burst out laughing.

"I think they've forgotten about us, Skeeter. Mr. Everdeen said we should ALL bond, but I doubt he even knows we're here!"

He laughs, "Let's hope!" Skeeter doesn't want to sing.

Especially not in front of all these girls.

Suddenly, a they hear a loud voice behind them,

"Let's hope what?"

Skeeter jumps, and Rue giggles as the only other boy in glee club takes a seat beside him. "Nothing," Skeeter says quietly. This boy is a big, scary senior.

"So, who are you two?" asks another girl, with golden hair, green eyes and freckles.

Rue doesn't say anything, and looks to Skeeter for a response.

"We're the freshmen."

A smile spreads across the boy's face.

He lounges back on his chair, "And we're the seniors."

There's a moment of awkward silence. "I'm Theo, and-"

"I'm Nathalia," she interrupts, "Who are you?"

Rue looks to Skeeter, and he reluctantly responds,

"We're the, um... Freshmen."

Nathalia laughs, "Oh, Theo! Don't you remember when we were little freshmen?"

He nods, laughing, "We were so naive and innocent!"

Rue and Skeeter exchange a look, a look that said more than words.

"Aw, they're so shy!"

Theo nods, "During your freshmen year, you're so shy and awkward. But, don't worry. Soon, you'll find yourself making tons of new friends! The glee club, let me tell ya, is so close!"

Nathalia nods, "They're always going to be here for you!" Rue and Skeeter exchange a different look, and shrug.

"So," Theo starts, punching Skeeter's shoulder, "Do you have what it takes to be the glee club's next big soloist?"

Skeeter, who knows that he's too socially awkward and nervous to sing alone, gives just a tiny nod, wishing that Theo and Nathalia would leave.

"Let me give you some advice..."

Nathalia turns to Rue, grinning.

"Look how cute you are! I always wanted to adopt a freshman!" Rue looks confused.

"Seniors have a tradition. Each one 'adopts' a freshman, helps 'em along!"

Rue doesn't answer.

"Don't worry! It'll be fun!" She stands up.

"Come on!"

Rue looks towards Skeeter, but he isn't next to her anymore.

"I'm going to teach you all about this school!"

Rue looks like a lost sheep.

"I'll bet Theo has unofficially adopted your friend, too! You're going to like it here! So, first we should get to know each other! What do you sound like?" Her green eyes sparkle, but Rue looks to Skeeter. Him and Theo are right diagonal from them.

"Hey, Rue!"

"Hi Skeeter!" she giggles.

Nathalia laughs, "That's a start! So, Rue was it, what do you like to do?"

Rue shrugs, "Sing. Draw. Gym class. I like to garden."

Nathalia grins, "I like to... sing, too! So, what's up with you and your guy friend? Hmmmmm?"

Rue doesn't let herself smile, "Who, Skeeter?"

"Yeah, him."

Rue shrugs. "We've been best friends since we were 5. We've been through a lot together. We were always misinterpreted for brother and sister, we spent so much time together. We always sang together in our elementary and middle school musicals."

"How come I never saw you?"

"In middle school, we had to sing in the choir in 5th grade."

Nathalia nods, "I see. That's cool. But, you know, if you ever wanted help to impress him, I can totally help."

Rue makes a face, "Nah, we're just friends. Is that really all that you do with your adopted freshmen? Get them a boyfriend?"

She laughs, "I can do whatever you want me to! I'll answer questions, show you off to all my friends, give you the birds and the bees if you need it. I can teach you important life skills, too."

Rue is a little weirded out. "Like... What?"

Nathalia shrugs, "Like how to deal with certain teachers, or how to kiss boys, or even how to give a spectacular blowjob."

Rue gives a confused look, "A what?"

Nathalia puts her hands over her little freshman's ears, laughing. "Never mind! You're so cute, do you know that?"

Rue doesn't say the word out loud, but takes a mental note.

"If you want, I can even make you... Popular!" She shows Rue a big make-up brush.

"I think I'll pass. On ALL of those things."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Theo sits across from Skeeter.

"So, Skeeter, how did you get sucked into glee club?"

"What?"

"Come on, no guy in their right mind would be caught dead in glee club, unless they have a good reason."

Skeeter knows he best not tell the truth, and shrugs, "It looks good on a resume."

Theo whispers, "I'll let you in on a secret. The only reason I joined glee club is because Athena is doing it."

"Who's Athena? I thought Nathalia-"

"She's my sister, he explains.

"Athena is the cute one with the short hair. She's a junior, and in love with the most popular guy in her grade, Vick, even though he's a huge douchebag-" Skeeter's never heard that word before.

"What's that?"

"What?"

"What's a douchebag?" he asks.

Theo's eyes grow, filling with laughter. He puts a hand over Skeeter's mouth.

"Don't repeat that," he laughs.

"But, what is it?" Theo laughs harder. "It's not a nice word."

"Um... Ok?" Skeeter is weirded out.

"So, anyways, why did YOU do glee club?"

"I told you already-"

"Bullsh... Crap. Bull... Crap."

Skeeter decides to be honest, "I did it because Rue did it. She's funny, and so sweet all the time, and nice. And so..."

"Sexy?"

"I would say... Cute."

"I knew there was a reason!"

Skeeter sighs, already regretting saying it out loud. "But, I'm much too young for those feelings. Right?"

Theo sighs, "Let me tell you something, Skeeter. You're a freshman now. You are on the road to maturity, right?"

"Sure, I guess. But, I don't even know what a-"

Theo clasps his hand over Skeeter's mouth. "You haven't gotten the birds and the bees yet, have you?"

Skeeter sighs, "No." Theo nods, "Thought so. Anyways, those feelings are normal in teenage boys, and trust me, as you go through your high school life, and that childhood bestie begins to... Mature... Then, it gets much harder to hide your feelings."

"Why would it be harder?"

Theo chuckles, "Ask your mom."

Skeeter now feels like a little child, but mostly curious. "So, now that we've shared secrets, and I've let you in on a little insight, then I guess you're my freshman, right?"

Skeeter's heard of this tradition of adopting freshmen, and nods uncertainly.

"That's the spirit! Sometime, you'll have to come over, and I can tell you all the little dirty secrets I know."

"Dirty secrets? Like what, the best way to stain your jeans?"

Theo laughs loudly now, "Sure, it'll include staining clothes, alright."

Skeeter nods, "It's chocolate sauce, by the way."

"No, I know a better way."

Now Skeeter is really confused. "I don't get it."

Theo writes something in Skeeter's notebook. "Here's my number. Text me up sometime." Skeeter nods.

Both Rue and Skeeter are relieved to see each other again, and especially relieved when the seniors go back to their karaoke.

Soon, the first day is over. The kids are on their ways home.

Gloss takes Marvel and Clove home, but Cato and Glimmer have disappeared.

"I hate it when those two ABANDON us to have SEX!" Marvel shouts angrily.

"They're so obnoxious. And I can't believe that Glimmer bitch STOLE CATO!"

Marvel looks at her, "You love Cato?"

Clove's face turns red. "Well..."

"What would you say if I said I wanted to break them up?"

Clove's face now takes on an evil smirk. "I'd be on board. As long as I get Cato in the end."

Marvel returns her smirk. "Let's meet in the alley tomorrow after school. We'll talk there."

They grin as Gloss speeds down the road, coming to a screeching stop at Clove's house.

She winks at him as she's greeted by her dog.

On the bus, Katniss and her friends chat excitedly about their awesome days. Rory complains to Prim about how hard these classes are going to be. Poppy decides to watch out the window today, putting her notebook back in her backpack. Peeta and Mason catch up on the rest of the day, about Katniss in Peeta's art class and the hot drum major Francesca, who Mason gets to work with every day, and stare at as long as he wanted without being weird. In the very front seat, Rue and Skeeter has a giggly conversation about the crazy seniors that have adopted them, and lunch. Then they all go home. Skeeter uneasily puts Theo's number in his phone, throwing a text his way.