The second day of training passes similar to the first, with only the Careers really trying to show off and the rest of us learning bits and pieces of information before we start goofing off or head to our room for naps. This time last year I would have rather eaten nails than try to miss out on important information for a nap, but this baby is really taking its toll on me.
I'm short of breath after shooting only one round of ten on the archery range and my mind fails me after only one of the edible plants tests, neither of which are like me at all. If Gale notices, he doesn't comment, which is odd. Maybe he thinks I'm just stressed out over the whole thing and doesn't want to worry me.
But I know I only have a few days left with Gale, so I worry anyway.
Everybody decides to stick around for lunch today, so once Gale and I get what we want from the luxurious food buffet we decide to keep to ourselves and sit alone at one of the large tables. But it doesn't last long. No sooner do we sit down then Finnick, Mags, Wiress, Beetee, and Johanna join us, chatting about trivial things like the weather and the one Peacekeeper who was extra sassy today.
The change confuses me, because I didn't think anyone liked us after last year, and I certainly wasn't aware that we were going to ally with any of these people, much less Career Victors like Finnick. I cock an eyebrow at Gale, but he casually brushes me off with his hand, and I know that means we'll discuss it later. I knew Haymitch had wanted an alliance, but I didn't know it was something that Gale was seriously considering.
But I guess this morning should have let me realize that I'm not as strong of a pregnant lady as I thought I was. Not being able to take care of myself in the arena annoys me, and I know that the Gamemakers are going to try to separate Gale and I as soon as possible because of that. I pick up the sandwich I got and start to bite it, thinking of all the strategies that Gale and I will need to get back together once the Games start.
And then I smell the sandwich... It smells...rank. Like some meat that was left out in the sun too long, it twists my stomach like a knife so I drop it and run to the nearest restroom. I make it just in time, spilling my guts to the toilet, puking everything I've eaten in the last few hours. I can hear the bathroom door open behind me and the familiar chuckle of Johanna Mason.
"Well, brainless, the Capitol doctors haven't given you the almighty morning sickness pill?"
I wipe my mouth and walk out of the bathroom stall, washing my hands in the sink. I shake my head, "Is that what this is? I thought I had the flu or something?"
Johanna crosses her arms and shakes her head, "No, brainless. Didn't you pay attention when your mother was pregnant? Morning sickness is part of being pregnant. I'm shocked you didn't start having it sooner."
"Didn't start till I came back here," I reply.
She just nods and lets the comment sink in. "Could it be stress?" I ask.
"Probably," she answers. "Anything else weird going on?"
I shrug, "Strange dreams, weird cravings, but nothing crazy."
"Well, listen, brainless. I've seen some of the shit you've tried to pull in the Districts and I was in the mentoring room when they announced you two as Victors. Just..." she pauses, looking for words. "Just...remember who's on your side, who's-"
The bathroom door bursts open, revealing a breathless and worried Effie, "Katniss! Gale and Haymitch sent me in after you! they're just so worried about you! Oh my goodness we must take you to see a medic at once!"
"Effie, Effie!" I shout. "I'm okay, just something didn't agree with me. I am pregnant after all."
The comment seems to calm her down, but she takes my arm and demands that I spend the remainder of the afternoon taking a nap. Only one Peacekeeper tries to stand in her way going to the elevator, but she shuts him down in such a polite fashion that I almost want to thank her for taking up for me, but I anxiously look around.
Where is Gale? Shouldn't he be here now, concerned for my well-being, for that of our baby?
I mean, I know there isn't anything to worry about, but Gale's never seen me be sick over food, so shouldn't he be panicking? Doesn't he care?
The thought makes me start to hyperventilate, but Effie just takes my hand and smiles warmly, trying to calm me, I guess. She leads me up to my room and waits for me to get comfortable, showing me where the remote is, what number to call for any type of room service, her personal line, or a doctor, before she starts to leave.
"I'll make sure Gale comes straight here when he's done with his training," she adds, smiling sweetly.
"But I didn't ask for that," I say.
She smiles warmly, almost like my mother used to before Dad's accident. "Sometimes, dear, you don't have to. It's written all over your face." She shuts my door promptly, and I can hear her heels clicking all the way down the hall to the living area of the suite.
I didn't have to ask for Gale for everyone to know that I want him? How did she know? I thought I was doing a pretty good job of hiding my feelings, but I guess I didn't. Maybe I'm more dependent on Gale than I realize. How is that going to work out when I'm forced to be a single parent without him? I'd be lying if I said I thought I would be the better parent anyway, because Gale was basically made to be a father. I've seen him with each of his siblings, he'll be a far better father than I will be a mother.
So what will I do when I'm forced to be a parent by myself? Hazelle has done it, my mother kind of did it, countless mothers in District 12 have had to be parents by themselves, so why am I different? What separates me from them? I put my hands on my billowing stomach, feeling my baby kick against them. Don't I love my baby as much as they love their children? I love Gale more than they probably loved their husbands, and I've certainly done more to fight to keep him alive.
I can do it.
I don't want to do it, but I can be a mother to this child. I won't be able to depend on Gale for the rest of my life, especially if I plan on getting out of the arena alive. The Capitol won't let me go a second time.
So I grab the remote that Effie left me and I walk over to the dresser that contains Gale's notes and the footage of all the previous Victors who are in the Games with us this year. I turn to the first page of the notebook and see Gale's careful notes, I put in a tape and settle in bed, I have some learning to do if I want to be prepared.
"Where is she?" I ask Johanna.
"Upstairs, the food left her a little sick."
I nod, Katniss has been really off lately, I've never seen her get sick over food. I guess it has to do with the baby, but no one else is panicking, so I guess I shouldn't either. "Should I go check on her?"
Johanna shakes her head, "She'll be fine after she takes a nap. If she's not up by dinner I would go see her."
I go back to my meal, considering ignoring Johanna's advice and going anyway, but Finnick starts talking to me about strategy for the arena. I figure that keeping Katniss safe is a little more important than some morning/afternoon sickness, so I stay glued to my seat and discuss the hopeful arena with what I hope are my "allies."
"I feel like teaching us to swim was an important aspect," Beetee starts, pushing up his glasses. "Did they have that station during any of your games?"
We all shake our heads except Finnick, "They had it during Annie's."
Beetee nods, "That should be a pretty clear indication that we should expect a mostly water arena."
"Who's Annie?" I ask. Everybody stops their conversation and drops their gaze, except Finnick. He looks to be frozen in midair, paralyzed at the mere mention of this name by another person. Maybe he didn't want anyone to know how he knew her... I should've just kept my mouth shut and asked Haymitch.
Finnick doesn't answer-it looks like he can't-he just gets up with his tray and heads back to the training area, never speaking a word. I watch him go, still a little puzzled over what I could have said to irritate him. I shrug and start to head back to the training area when Haymitch intercepts me.
"I asked him who someone named Annie was and he freaked," I answer.
Haymitch nods, "I'll explain why tonight. Look, Katniss is sleeping, but I want you to spend time with everyone, get to know who you want in your alliance and who you don't." He nods again and heads back to the suite, I guess.
And when I go back into the training area, that's my honest intention, but then I realize there's a moving target shooting range at one end of the room. So of course I make a beeline for it. I pick up the bow I was shooting with yesterday and nod to the trainer. The practice birds (ducks I think) go in the air and I casually take them down one by one.
It's almost like being at home.
In between rounds, I close my eyes, imagining that I'm at home in the woods with Katniss again, I can smell the trees, hear the wildlife, and when I open my eyes, I'm there. It doesn't matter that I'm going to die in a few days, it doesn't matter that I'm never going to watch my baby grow up, it doesn't matter that I might not marry the woman of my dreams.
None of it matters. Each bird goes down easily, so the trainer starts to increase the number he sends up. Again and again I take them down until I'm out of arrows. It's only then that I realize everyone is staring at me.
Each person in the room, trainers and tributes, has dropped whatever they are doing and still staring at me, many with their mouths open. I clear my throat and they all snap back to what they were doing, chattering away, about me I think.
Finnick and Brutus both approach me, asking what the hell happened to me to learn how to shoot like that. Brutus blames it on the PRA, Finnick says its luck, but I can't help but notice that every ear in the room is turned towards me when I tell them, "Katniss Everdeen taught me how to shoot."
It's nothing but the truth, but I can see some eyes go wide and some jealous mouths swing open.
After that I decide to take Haymitch's advice. I spend time actually learning things at different stations, starting with a knot-tying station where Finnick's district partner, Mags, is tying some type of fish hook. Within a few minutes, she's shown me how to tie hooks and I've taught her a few snares to catch small game. She smiles at me and I have to wonder what she's doing here. Four has no shortage of Victors, but I remember she volunteered for some younger woman who was drawn. She volunteered, knowing she was going to die.
I decide I want her in the alliance.
The afternoon drags on, I spend time with the morphlings at the camo station, Finnick gives me some practice with a trident, Johanna with axes, Brutus with knives, and I teach them all some archery. It's slow going with most of them at first, because none of them except the careers had ever seen a bow before, but by the end of the day they can all hit a target. I know it will suit them ill once the Games start, because a moving target is so much harder to hit, but I'm trying to take Haymitch's advice.
Before long, we are called back to our suites for showers and supper. I bid goodbye to my friends and wait for Haymitch and Effie, who both greet me warmly.
"What the hell happened, boy?"
I smirk, "Katniss taught me how to shoot pretty well, that's all."
"Everybody's mentors have asked me for youto be in an alliance, you know," Haymitch says casually as we get in the empty elevator.
"You know I'm not going without her."
Haymitch chuckles, "Boy, they said her name before they said yours."