"Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution. I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable."
"Then my sunset?" the little prince reminded him: for he never forgot a question once he had asked it.
"You shall have your sunset. I shall command it."
-the little prince, chapter 10
The sun is not even up when the black car pulls in front of Finnick Odair's apartment in the city center of the Capitol. The cameras are not out yet either, but Finnick wears his armor anyway. Jacket zipped to the neck to cover the bruising and scraping. Black tinted sunglasses over his eyes to shield the outside from seeing in. His shoulders are hunched in their usual protective way, and he ducks into the car without a word. It was a long night of pleasing and pretending and an even longer, infuriating morning of keeping guard over his lone tribute in the mentor's center.
When he arrives at the President's mansion, he knows that he has absolutely no right to be there. But his entire body is on fire; he is emboldened by the images of the girl staring into the space of her hiding cave as her fellow careers hunt after her. His tribute is hiding inside a rock structure, waiting for canisters of supplies that she will not use.
Annie Cresta was never meant to be there at all. He had tried to protect her. Finnick did everything they ever asked of him; they had no reason, no right to go after her.
Doors swing wide open for him. Even the President's private office door is opened the moment that his jacket's hood is dropped, revealing the most famous victor in Panem. President Snow looks away from his television screens as the noise from the slamming door and Finnick's stomping boots fills the room.
"Mr. Odair-" he begins.
But Finnick doesn't hear the words, only the sounds. He shoves his way through the empty office to stand in front of President Snow's desk, his voice growing to a shout that begins at the floor and builds to the roof.
"You can't have her."
Finnick's chest rises and falls with his effort, and his heart thuds against his chest, running a marathon of its own. President Snow takes a moment, absorbing Finnick's unusual outburst, and calmly mutes the screen on the wall. He folds his hands in his lap, unfazed but interested.
"What?" He asks, his voice cool and refined like the tinkling of glass during a party.
Finnick's voice is tense and quiet, like a bowstring just before its arrow is released for the kill. His words are separate, distinct, and he leaves no room for misinterpretation.
"You can't have her."
Finnick's eyes bare down at President Snow, his defenses down, his rage evident. Gone are the sunglasses. Gone is the hood. Gone is everything that can separate Finnick from his goal. He will not, he cannot, let them take her away.
The old man in the chair tilts his head, looking up at the victor before him. This is unusual. When he shows up at the mansion, Finnick is generally smiles and pretense.
But not today. Today is a day of business, and Finnick has no time for lies. The young man, the Capitol's most famous victor, leans across Snow's desk, fighting for the life of the young girl in the arena. The young Cresta girl without a hope of winning. Interesting.
Snow knows, of course, that Finnick has been spending his time with the girl back before the reaping, but he never knew that sending her into the arena would have such splendid results. Snow's fingers itch at the thought of tightening Odair's leash.
"You know that I have no control," he says, wondering how long he can drag this game out.
"Bullshit," Finnick spits, pushing away from the desk with a huff.
He knows, everyone knows, the control that Snow has over this country, and that control doesn't just stop where the arena starts.
"Sit down, Mr. Odair."
Finnick folds his arms over his chest. He is not in the mood for orders. Not today.
The command comes again, sharper this time, and Finnick obeys out of habit. He curses himself for the lapse in his strength. President Snow leans back, satisfied and even amused at the boy's display. Oh, how quickly the young victor snapped.
"I have done everything you have asked," Finnick says, his voice brittle.
He teeters between begging and commanding, and his body shakes with anger and fear. If this goes wrong, he knows, Annie will not come out of it alive and neither will he.
"Just how much does she mean to you?"
Snow knows the answer before he even asks the question. But a verbal confession will make the manipulation so much easier. Finnick looks up at the man, and- whether he knows it or not- his are the eyes of a terrified little boy.
"I need her."
Those three words are all that Snow needs. Finnick just lost this game; Finnick just showed his hand before the cards were even dealt. Snow nods as though he is a consoling father.
"You are a good victor, Mr. Odair. Truly a shining example of citizenship. You are right. You have done everything I have asked."
Snow looks up at the television screens on the wall. Tributes scurry from place to place, looking for shelter for the night. But the Cresta girl sits in a cave, hiding in a haze. Not exactly a shining example of a victor's prowess. But, if it will keep Odair on the end of the his puppet strings, it is a sacrifice Snow is willing to make.
"What about Annie?"
Finnick has to ask. He knows he cannot hold Snow to a promise that he did not make.
"We'll get Annie Cresta home. I'll take care of her myself."
It is not the promise Finnick wants. But he will take what he can get.
"You may go," Snow says, nodding.
Head bowed, Finnick tries to take his leave. But something gnaws at the pit of his stomach, trying to edge its way out. A thought that has brimmed on the corners of his mind and danced on the tip of his tongue but he has never thought to say it aloud.
"Nothing really belongs to me, does it?" Finnick mumbles, more to himself than to the man behind him as he tucks the cuffs of his jacket into his fists, locking his fingers until the knuckles turn white.
The color evaporates from the world around him as Finnick listens to Snow's response.
"Why would anything belong to you? You traded your life to me for a trident."
And three days later, as Finnick wraps his arms around a healthy but unresponsive Annie Cresta, the victor who was given the games, the realization hits him square in the face. He didn't trade his life for a trident. He traded his life for Annie.
Meh. This is a thing I'Ve been working on for a while now. After putting so much time into it, I felt like I had to post it, but I don't know how I feel about it still. I was just really inspired by the King and Prince dynamic in The Little Prince, and I wanted to write something around that...Anyway, read and review! I hope you enjoyed it!