-May 14th, Year of the 46th Hunger Games-
The air is ice, swirling around us as the words sink in.
I thought I was getting good at predicting the Capitol. I was wrong. How can they make me choose? End my relationship with Tyga or let Tristan die. Well, it's not really a choice – I won't sentence my brother to death. But how am I suppose to not be with Tyga – and just not being in a relationship won't be enough, we'd have to not be even suggesting at all that we were together. That means staying away from each other. I can't do that.
'Connor, what do we do?'
Tyga's eyes are holding back tears as she asks. But, she's meant to be my mentor. She's supposed to make the hard decisions. Not me. Not us.
'Well, it's not a choice,' Vice says, his tone firm and unwavering, 'You won't let someone die. I know you, and you won't do that.'
He's right. For all Vice's flaws, he's logical. I can feel my lip quivering and the blood has drained from my body. My words come out with much less strength than I'd intended.
'No, Connor,' Tyga says, 'The Capitol doesn't do bargains.'
'Why do the Capitol even want you apart? How does it affect them?' Vice asks from the doorway.
'If I'm seen to be in a relationship with another Victor – one of the nation's sweethearts, Snow's...investment in me goes down the drain.' Her head hangs. 'No one will want to be known as the person who Tyga cheated on Connor with. Any Victor is too loved to be that. Even the dull and unattractive Victors are too important to not be the nation's sweetheart.'
As long as Tyga's known to be with me, Snow can't make money off her – he can't use her. And that'd mean he loses power of her, and the Capitol never loses. I'm glad Vice doesn't ask about Tyga's job in the Capitol any further and it's silent for about a minute before he breaks the quiet.
'Can't you use that status as some kind of weapon?'
'Well,' he steps a little closer, 'You say you're loved by the Capitol, which makes you important to Snow. Can't you use that in some way?'
Tyga sighs, giving in to the situation, 'No, there's nothing we could do. You can't bargain with the Capitol. It'll do whatever it deems best for itself – whatever the people of the Capitol will love it for. That's why the Games are so lavish – without the people on their side, the Capitol officials have no power. Lucky for them, the people are all so naive that they'll just accept anything that's thrown at them as long as it means more entertainment.' She sighs again.
Suddenly I feel a spark in the back of my mind. A way out? No, not quite. But something.
With a flash, my mind is whirling like crazy. Something's forming. It's crazy, but right now I have nothing left to lose.
'What if we play the Capitol people?' I blurt out.
'What? What do you mean?' Tyga says, confusion in her emerald eyes.
'We can't bargain with the Capitol itself. But, what about the people? We can use them. And the people control the Capitol.'
'Connor, what are you talking about?' Tyga asks wearily, but I can see there is a slight curiosity in her eyes. I grab her on the shoulder and look deep into her eyes, commanding her attention.
'Okay, listen to me closely, Tyga, and I need you to answer honestly.' She nods. 'Do you love me?'
'Yes,' she says with no hesitation.
'Do you trust me?'
'Then take my hand.'
Her hand locks into mine and suddenly my body feels warmer again. The familiar touch of Tyga's smooth fingers linked around mine feels comforting. I lead her out of the room, and Vice follows. When we reach the elevator, we find the despicable sight of Snyde waiting for us. No smirks this time, he just looks us over. My jaw locks.
'I thought it'd be a good idea if we returned together.' His eyes glint with a menace I haven't seen before. 'Show the people that there's no trouble.'
'Good idea' I reply, my voice bitter and hard.
I can feel Vice and Tyga tense behind me, but actually Snyde is, if anything, aiding my plan. The elevator journey back downstairs is quick, but agonising. I see Vice eyeing the security cameras and I wonder if he's debating killing Snyde anyway. But he doesn't and the doors hiss open.
A sea of colour greets us and we all smile, Snyde included. Apparently our lack of presence had been noticed and I hear a few chirps of happiness that the Victors from 5 are still here and ready to mingle with Capitol citizens. But I have something else on my mind. I travel through the crowd, and I realise there's gasps as well. What am I missing here?
Oh yes. It felt so natural, I'd completely forgotten that Tyga has still got her hand in mine.
'Connor, what are you doing?' she hisses under her breath at me.
I turn back to her and make eye contact. 'Trust me.'
She seems apprehensive but she nods. I return to my search and finally find what I'm looking for.
The woman with the green curls – the journalist who took our hologram earlier – is currently having a conversation with Miami, all of which is being recorded on some kind of device in her hand. I see Miami's eyes widen when she sees Tyga's hand in mine.
'Excuse me? Sorry to interrupt,' I say. The woman seems startled and when she sees Tyga and I holding hands, she practically wets herself.
'Oh my gosh! It's true! It's all true! Oh this'll be a headliner, I can-'
'Sorry, can that hologram device record video as well as images?' I ask.
'Uhh...' The woman seems unsurprisingly flustered. 'Yes...yes it can.'
'Good,' I lean into her, 'You're about to get the headline of the year.'
'What?' I hear her cry from behind as she abandons Miami and follows us, her heels clicking violently on the ground. 'I don't understand! Connor, Tyga, are you together? Is this official?'
Tyga's hand in mine, I make my way to the back of the hall, where the live band plays on a stage about two metres off the ground. The lead singer is an older woman who wears a long silky black gown and has about a foot of makeup on. I scan the stage for an entrance and I quickly spot a small flight of stairs on the left hand side.
My heart is racing in my stomach. There's a moment where I worry that I may pass out but I move past that. There's not time for that. I start up the stairs, Tyga behind me hand-in-hand. I turn briefly to reassure her and see almost every eye in the room is already on me and Tyga. No going back now.
I reach the top of the stairs and go over to the woman, who has conveniently just finished the song. I wall up to her.
'Excuse me, can I borrow the mic?'
The woman just stares at me, gaping, her surgically altered eyes confused. Eventually she steps away, leaving me and Tyga centre stage. I take the mic and turn to the audience and suddenly it hits me. Almost ever eye is on me. My mouth goes dry. I spot familiar faces in the crowd – Miami, Tobi, Surge. And Snyde who looks furious, but more than that, murderous. I have to speak. The moment's here. Have I made the wrong decision? This might not work. No, it has to work. There's not going back now. I speak.
'Excuse me?' If I hadn't already got the crowd's full attention, I do now. 'Ladies and gentlemen, I'm...I'm sorry to interrupt the music. It's just...I have something I need to say.'
I hear squeals of excitement from the audience. I turn to the left slightly and I see the journalist woman filming us intently with her hologram recorder – perfect. Tyga's by my side, hand still in mine, but I can feel her sweating.
'Me and Tyga are together.' I hear gasps and whoops from the crowd. 'Sorry to have kept you guessing for so long.' I just need to bring up those skills Decimus taught me all the way back when I was doing my Games' interview. 'But it was too important for me to not share it with you.'
There is a massive cheer from the audience. I hadn't expected this. Maybe this is going better than I'd planned.
'But one last thing – well, not really a thing. It's actually more of a question. But it's not for you. It's for Tyga.'
I turn to Tyga, who looks at me, her face a painting of confusion, nervousness and...wonder. I drop to one knee. I have no ring, so I clutch her hand with both arms and look up to her.
'Tyga Redlake, will you marry me?'
There is no way to describe the reaction from the crowd. The noise is thunderous. There are screams, gasps, tears, cries, whoops. And that doesn't even compare to what's going on in me. My stomach is in knots, my brain like a tornado, and my heart reaching for something that I may soon be able to hold.
'WE HAVE TO LET HER ANSWER NOW!' Someone calls. I realise it's Vice. He's playing along – I make a mental note to thank him later.
The crowd very quickly silences and you could hear a pin drop. I look to Tyga. There are tears in her eyes and...a smile? A glimmer of white teeth show through her lips – I did not expect this, I thought she'd be nervous. But then I remember what this is – Tyga and I agreeing to spend the rest of our life together. Sure, it's a horrific and forced situation, but when you strip it to its bare bones, it's beautiful. In the silence, one words rings out from her lips.
The audience erupts in sound – nothing distinguishable, just a mass of noise. I take to my feet and hug Tyga. I'm not done yet.
'We're getting married!' I cry into the microphone. Got to keep working the audience. They go hysterical. 'Excuse me, everyone. I have some more news.' The audience hushes quickly. 'I was just speaking to our good friend, Ornlu Snyde.'
I relocate Snyde's face in the crowd. He's wearing a smile, but his eyes are daggers piercing my flesh.
'And we were discussing me and Tyga. And I mentioned that I was going to ask her to marry me. And you'll never guess what he said!' Here it is, the move that could either save me or kill me. 'He said we can host the wedding here, in the Capitol with all of you – after all, you are basically our family! But our real families will be coming with us too – my sister, Pura, and my brother, Tristan, will be there to meet each and everyone of you – Snyde promised! Tyga and I are just starting our lives together, and we want you to be there every step of the way!'
There. It's done. The crowd is screaming – several of them are in tears. Snyde can't back down from this now it's been announced to so many people.
And I may be wrong – I could be tragically wrong – but I may have just saved my family's life.
A/N: Well, that was a thing that happened. I'd really love to know what you think of that, so PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE gimme a review :) Also, as I mentioned before - I have a poll up, so I'd really appreciate it if you voted in that because it really will affect the way the rest of the story pans out. I won't be able to update next week unfortunately, but see you in two weeks time! :) But, as always, hope you enjoyed it and please review!