A/N- Uh, this is DA Member Hogwarts, uh me, Megan. I'm on Jake's account and no I'm not going to spam people or read his PM's. The day Jake finally got sent this update... his sister like I don't know... punched his laptop and broke it? LOL He's lost all of his documents and his laptop isn't working so I have come to the rescue to bring you beautiful people an update. Sorry for the wait but we've just had a bit of a problem with getting this chapter (no one's fault!) and as I have said, Jake's sister abused his computer... so yeah! Enjoy... and Teddy refrain from any annoying comments if I make spelling errors. (P.S. HI CHAOS! ILY!)
Alright goodbye! Praise Nomen Clature!
Tyrion Pond, District Seven Male
Training Day Three
Written by androidilenya, Submitted by LoveIsBlindness
I'm standing outside the shop again, just like I was that morning - the morning before it all changed, before they called me up and told me I was going to die. And he's with me, of course he's with me. Percy's always there, right by my side. It's because he's my best friend, and isn't that what friends are for, to always be by your side?
He turns to me, ice-blue eyes flashing bright in the sun, mouth moving. I love his voice - could listen to it forever, really, and never ever get tired of it.
"Ty, I don't care if you're gay. You're my best friend." His smile is brilliant and blindingly confident, teeth gleaming white. They're the same words he spoke at the Reaping, and that confuses me. Why should he be saying them now?
I frown at him, try to force a smile onto my own face to mirror his. If he knew the truth - the whole truth... if he knew that the only one I really, truly wanted to be with was him... would he still be so friendly? Would he still be smiling that cheerful, carefree smile, or would he turn away in disgust?
A shadow looms up from behind him and my eyes widen with shock as I recognize the Peacekeeper that pulled me aside right before the Reaping, the one that threatened me with twenty lashes for stealing bread. We call him the Cruel behind his back, Maddox the Cruel, because there's nothing tender about this man, not a shred of compassion or respect for human dignity. And here he is now, white uniform spotless as always, raising his whip till it seems to blot out the sun, casting long wings of darkness over Percy and I.
"Percy!" I croak, backing away, but he doesn't hear me, he's still smiling obliviously and Maddox is smiling too, hard and cruel as stone-
The whip whistles down and Percy finally turns, realization dawning on his perfect face. I scream as the deafening crack echoes across the street, as a spray of blood spatters the dirt at my feet, as he falls to his knees. The whip rises and falls in a merciless rhythm and all I can do is watch, rooted to the ground by my own fear as the blood spreads and pools, as Percy shudders and the screams fade away into a horrifying silence-
I wake in a cold sweat, tearing the blankets from me and hurling them across the room. Panting, I clench my fists and try to calm my racing heart. Just a dream. Dreams can't hurt me. Percy's fine, he's not going to get hurt - in fact, I'm the one who should be worried about bodily harm, considering where I am and why.
I tense, glancing up and meeting the clear eyes of my District partner, Kilea. She's standing in my doorway, frowning. "I heard you cry out."
I stare at her, mouth opening and closing slightly. "Uh... no you didn't. That was... someone else." It's a bad lie, and I don't know why I bother when it's so obvious. But who wants to admit that they were screaming in their sleep, even if nightmares must be a pretty common thing among tributes?
Kilea giggles. "Whatever you say, Tyrion." She regards me, grey eyes bright. "But it's okay to have bad dreams. I miss my home, too."
"D-do you?" It's the only reply I can think of, and the words see awkward and clumsy in my mouth. I don't know how to talk to this girl, my District partner... not when I might have to see her dead or worse, have to kill her (though the opposite is more likely - her having to kill me).
"My little brother, mostly." Her face takes on a far-away look as though she's immersed in memory. "Tomas always needed me there."
I shrug. "Yeah. My siblings don't need me too bad. That's nice, though." I wonder if Percy misses me. I'm sure he does - we're best friends, after all. I wonder if Shelly's comforting him, or the other way around. It's nice to think that someone misses me, at least.
She gives me an odd look, then steps back, face closing off as though she's remembered something. "Anyways. Paris says it's time for breakfast. You shouldn't sleep so late."
I watch as she sweeps out. I bet I know why she turned away so suddenly - we aren't going to be allies. She doesn't need to talk to me, or get close to me, or earn my trust, because if we see each other in the arena, our only job is to kill each other. And it's easier to kill a stranger than someone you've talked to about the family waiting back at home for you. So it's safest to pretend that you don't care, that you can't care about the other person. And it's safest to never admit weakness in front of someone who could be forced to use that weakness against you.
I sigh and slip out of my nightshirt. She's right, anyways. I should be doing my best to survive, just like she is. For Shelly and Percy, if no one else.
We all have our reasons to want to go home.
Kilea leaves breakfast early, but I take my time. Braving the training room every day is something she's turned out to be better at, so far. My first impression of her was a shy, normal kid - well, besides the fact that she volunteered, which was pretty dang abnormal - but she's a pretty big goof-off once she gets comfortable. I, on the other hand, tend to choke on my own tongue every time I open my mouth.
I finally push away from the table once my mentor starts giving me exasperated glances and looking pointedly at the clock. I mumble something under my breath - I'm not even sure what, but it must have been acceptable, because no one stops me or says anything as I trudge over to the elevator and punch the button. The light indicates that it was on its way down from the tenth floor anyways, and I realize after I press the call button that that means there's probably another tribute in there. Great. Just what I need. Social interaction with humans - another chance to screw up.
The door hisses open and I step in, trying to avoid eye contact with the only other occupant, the District Ten boy. I forget his name, of course - it might start with an 'n'... Ned, or something?
"You're Tyrion, right?" the boy asks suddenly, voice echoing loud in the tiny chamber as the doors sweep closed. I feel the floor shudder as the elevator starts moving, and the soft swooping sensation in my stomach that accompanies the motion.
I flinch. "Yes." Great. I am definitely going to say something stupid really soon. Because that's just what I do. In general. "I forget your name," I admit, hoping he won't take offense at that.
"Nex Winters," he replies calmly, no sign of anger. He doesn't offer his hand to shake, like it would be normal to, but I don't mind. This is quickly getting very awkward.
When he doesn't say anything further, I wonder if he expects me to continue the conversation. Panicked, I cast around for a suitable topic. My mentor's breakfast happens to be the first thing that comes to mind. "Uh... do you like cheese?"
He arches an eyebrow and turns to me, green eyes coldly bemused. "Excuse me?"
My face starts to burn and I look at my feet, inwardly cursing my pathetic inability to interact with normal people. "I - never mind." Of all the things to bring up, why cheese? It just happened to be the first thing on my mind... and the first thing that slipped out of my mouth...
"I've heard rumors about you, Tyrion," Nex muses, sounding almost amused.
"Y-yeah?" Rumors? That doesn't sound good. I thought I was doing a pretty good job of staying below everyone's radar.
"I hear you're gay."
I blink, surprised. Do I deny it, or do I go with it? A more normal kid would laugh this off, treat it like a joke... but I've hesitated a bit too long for that, and my silence seems to be all the answer he needs.
"Too bad that kind of thing won't help you in the arena. Unless you're planning on using it to manipulate sponsors? That might work for you, you know," he says, regarding me with cold green eyes.
"What? I'd never-" Dear Lord, I hope this elevator ride is over soon. How could he suggest something like that - like I'm not really - like this is some kind of game-
"Seems like you weren't smart enough to think of that on your own." Nex shrugs, a cynical smile twisting his lips. "I doubt you'll survive long, Tyrion, if you can't even come up with such simple ideas all by yourself. Original thinking, that's what gets you to victory. Pity you don't seem capable of it."
The elevator jerks to a halt and he steps out into the training room, not even bothering to glance back at me. I stare for a long time, until the elevator doors start to close again. Then I exit hurriedly, still a bit shaken by my encounter.
I spend most of my training time as I have the past two days - in the corner, near the more survival-oriented stations, trying to memorize as much of the information there as I can. No weapons for me - even if the Careers hadn't commandeered those particular areas, I've decided to listen to what the trainers said that first day. Learning how to avoid poisonous plants and purify water might be more important than learning how to kill people, because as long as I survive the bloodbath, as long as I find a hiding spot... I should be fine, right?
Besides, surely I can get my hands on a knife or something and figure out how to use it. The principle of it is pretty simple - stick them with the pointy end.
My eyes dart over the screen as a computerized display flashes across it, a leafy silhouette imprinted black-on-white. Hemlock. Poisonous. I know this one - it keeps showing up.
The two tributes from District Eleven pass by me and I pause to watch them. They've been pretty quiet, too, basically only talking to each other. I guess it's clear that they're going to be allies, unlike Kilea and I.
"Cyrus, don't you hypothesize we ought to train with the weaponry a little bit more?" the girl asks, red hair falling in her face as she looks over at her District partner. The boy's eyes keep darting off and up to the side, as if looking at something that isn't there.
"We did that yesterday. Lili wants us to do survival today," he mumbles.
"I know, but don't you think-"
"She's the one that's won this already, Elliah," the boy sighs.
I smile as they move out of earshot. Looks like I'm doing the right thing - my mentor hasn't said much on the subject, probably because I'm not the best listener, but if others are getting advice to go check out the survival stations then there must be something worth learning there.
I suppress a twinge of jealousy and - maybe - loneliness as I watch the District Eleven kids move towards the rope-tying station. I haven't got anyone like that to talk to, not like they have each other. I wouldn't wish Percy here for anything, because that'd mean that he'd be here to die, too... and the same goes for Shelly and her mute smile, her skilled fingers as she signs her latest witty comment at me. She was always the one member of my family I felt closest to, the one I could talk to without making an utter fool of myself... and now I don't even have her. I bet she'd be doing a better job at making friends - or at least allies - here than I am.
The soft ring of a bell jolts me from my thoughts and I look up to see a Gamemaker dressed all in black standing and gesturing for attention. His dark eyes are unamused, and he has a close-trimmed beard streaked with grey.
"I have an announcement that has a rather large impact on your immediate future," he says dryly when his bell fails to draw the necessary attention. "Seeing as I hold your lives in my hand, I suggest you listen up."
That gets everyone looking. I notice that the Careers are the rowdiest - they all scare me, the girls most of all. There's something particularly intimidating about the District Four girl, Lush. Most of the other kids settle down quickly enough. The Gamemaker clears his throat and begins again. He reaches back and lifts up something for all of us to see - a large backpack, dangling from two shoulder straps.
"This year, there will be a slight twist to the procedure of the first day. Each of you will receive one of these-" He gave a shake of the pack for emphasis, and something in it clanked, "-right before you enter your launch tube. In each is one, and only one weapon."
There's a buzz among the non-Careers at these words - they're excited, now. Where before they would have had only a slim chance of being able to get to the cornucopia in time to get a weapon before the Careers got them, now they're entering the arena with a weapon and, consequentially, a chance. The Careers don't seem too upset by it, they probably figure they'll still have the advantage in the bloodbath by virtue of their natural strength. The Gamemaker's next words change that.
"This will be the only weapon you will have during the beginning of the Games." He raises an eyebrow, waits for the shocked murmurs to die down. "And these weapons will range from this-" He pulls out a long, wicked-sharp battle axe and flourishes it, drawing every eye, "to this. Including anything in between." He hefts a flimsy stick in one hand and tosses it into the air, watching it clatter against the floor. "May the odds be ever in your favor," he finishes, a sardonic smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
I blink. So we could get an amazing weapon - one that could basically win the Games for us, if we have the guts to use it - or we could get the lamest, most pathetic weapon possible. And it's all up to the Gamemakers.
Well, I know which one I'd rather have, of the two choices presented. Because it's pretty hard to defend yourself with a stick, isn't it?
I glance over at the other tributes. Some of them seem excited about this new development, others nervous, others just... noncommittal. Some of them look exactly how I feel - hopeful. Because now I might have a chance. If I get lucky enough... if they give me a good weapon... well, it all comes down to luck, doesn't it? It always seems to, in the Hunger Games.