Kegan Capiton, District Two Victor
Kegan's eyes fluttered open. The last thing he could remember was punching a man on the hovercraft, after that things went black. He was in a white room. The window was propped open as a fluttering breeze passed through, ruffling the golden trimmed curtains. He was in a huge king size circular bed with only a thin white sheet drapped over his body. A lamp was on in the corner, sending a warm glow through the room... Warm.
That was the first thing Kegan truly registered. For the first time in what seemed like a millenium, he felt warm. Looking down at himself, he found that he was only wearing a thin pair of boxers. His chest was completely bare, and still he felt warm. He hadn't taken off that infernal coat one time in the arena. It was too risky in such freezing temperatures. For a fleeting moment, a wave of pure joy swelled through him. Oh, how he had missed feeling warm.
Then the rest came crashing down on him. The reality of the past week ran through his heart like a dagger, and his face fell. In his mind, he saw Chateaux warning him again, felt her pushing him again, heard the snapping sound her neck had made again. Snap. Snap. Snap. The sound trembled through his body. He bunched the white sheet in his fist as he tried to push that awful noise away, but deep down he knew that it would stay with him forever.
"Be rational you idot," he mumbled to himself. The initial wave of emotion eventually passed, leaving a sea of empty grief in its wake. Again that haunting question why echoed around in his mind.
Reaching up to his nose, Kegan made to push his glasses higher, an old habit. To his surprise, his finger didn't meet the metal frame of his trusty spectacles. They simply brushed against the bridge of his nose, looking for something that wasn't there. His glasses were gone. That didn't make sense though. He was blind as a bat without them. Slowly he swung his feet over the bed and walked to the vanity on the far wall to stare himself in the mirror. He was almost unrecognizable.
Kegan had never seen himself without glasses on before. He couldn't see without them, therefore any attempt to look in a mirror with nothing but his eyes would have been pointless. He had contemplated getting contacts once when he was eight, so that the other kids at the Tribute Academy would stop making fun of him; however, he had decided against it. The glasses were part of his identity. They made him look scholarly. Furthermore though, they set him apart from all of his tormentors at the Academy. Sure they was often the subject of their taunts, but he had decided a long time ago that he wanted to be nothing like his peers. He was his own man- a genius in his own right.
It was rather fitting that the Capitol had taken even that away from him now that his world had been turned upside down.
He examined his new image, trying to decide what he looked like now. Without his bookish glasses, he looked unbearably normal. Yes, the person who stared back at him in the mirror was nothing more than a sad looking boy. The only abnormality in this boy was a certain empty depressed look in his dull grey eyes. He wished that this new boy would go away.
There were other changes to his appearance too, of course. His body was as seamless as a baby's. Years of scarring had vanished overnight. That he had been expecting though. It was part of the curiculum at the Academy.
"Oh, don't you just look fabulous," a voice squealed from the doorway. Kegan turned around, sluggishly looking to the speakier. His stylist, Corneilia was beaming at him as she surveyed his altered body. "Oh, you're eyes are so much brighter when they aren't hiding behind those glasses."
"Where are my glasses?" Kegan asked.
"Oh, I threw them away. We all had a big vote on whether you should keep them or not, and decided that you were much better without them, so we put you through surgery the very same day that you got crowned victor," Corneilia rambled. "You don't need them anymore, so there was no use in keeping them."
"Oh," was all Kegan could muster.
"Hut to. We have to get you dressed for your post Games interview," she snapped. rushing over to him as she opened the drawers to the vanity, revealing a deep abyss of clothing. She quickly went to work, combing his hair, handing him different shirts to try on. Apparently, his prep team had already gotten to him while he was asleep, but simply didn't have a reason to wake him. "I think that black will do. We'll keep it simple."
Thus he ended up in a warm black sweater and light tan khakis. She said it made him look sophisticated and preppy, but he didn't see it. He was never the one who had a gift for looking preppy. That talent had always belonged to Chateaux. "Aren't you so excited?" Corneilia asked. "I am. This year was just my first year, and I already have a victor. I'll be set for life now."
A long time ago, it would have bothered him that he was now stuck with possibly the ditziest women in the world as his permanent styllist; however, he was beyond caring at this point. Shoving his hands into his pockets, he plodded out of the room as she led him to the set the interview would be taking place at. His shoulders had acquired a new weighty hunch to them as he walked, and he kept his eyes trained on the ground in front of him.
Eventually they walked into some sort of back stage area. The minute he walked in, the entire room fell silent and applause broke out as the Capitolites ogled at him. Brutus, his mentor, stood among their midst. He was the only one that wasn't smiling. The meaty man strode over to him, patting him heartily on the back. "Every one back at home is really proud of you," he said seriously as his eyes scanned Kegan's face.
Of course, Kegan didn't care. He never really liked anyone at home anyway. "Ah," he muttered back.
Brutus frowned. "Kegan look at me," he said in his deep intimidating voice. Kegan obeyed wearily. "You need to understand right now your situation. What Chateaux did was a brave thing. She's being hailed a hero back at home because she brought us home the victory, even if it wasn't for herself. I know it's going to be hard on you when they all try and tell you how happy they are that she died for you, but you have to get through it."
Kegan's lip curled in disgust. "Yes, and why must I do that?" he inquired, hostility leaking into his voice. "Nobody will care if I go home and sulk for the rest of my life. Perhaps that's all I'm good at- sulking."
Brutus shook his head sadly. "If you want to be that way then fine," he said curtly. "But you were the one that gave me the impression that you didn't want to be like your dad, you know, guzzling ten tons of liquor every night before bed."
Kegan didn't respond. The words just simply weren't there. A couple of days ago, he had hated his father so completely that just the thought of the man had made his body start shaking with rage. Now he wasn't so sure anymore. If the situation ever arose, would his dad ever sacrifice himself to save Kegan? His initial answer would have been no, but then again, that is what he thought about Chateaux too.
"I'm not going to start drinking," Kegan muttered back to his mentor finally.
"Yeah that's what they all say," Brutus shot back.
On the other side of the black stage curtain, Kegan heard the audience come to life. Suddenly he felt sick.
"Go be that guy they met in your first interview. They'll be expecting him," Brutus said as he steered Kegan out towards the stage.
Caesar immediately greeted him with an enthusiastic handshake before he sat Kegan down on a plush white chair in center stage. Kegan couldn't stop staring at Caesar's hair. He hadn't thought about it before, but it made complete sense now as to why it was white. It was supposed to look like snow.
The audience took forever to stop cheering. Kegan wasn't even sure how to handle all of the attention. Should he smile? Should he wave? He probably should, but he didn't think he was capable of smiling anymore.
"So Kegan," Caesar said when they finally quieted down. "How does it feel being a victor?"
Empty, alone, awful, a million words rose to his head. "Rather surreal I suppose," was Kegan's dry answer.
"Oh, I bet it does," Caesar laughed. "You look great by the way, I love your new look."
Kegan knew he was talking about his lack of glasses. He even got the sneaking suspicion that Caesar wanted him to agree that he was better off without them. If that was the reaction they wanted though, they would be disappointed. "Yeah, my stylist thought so too," he replied. There, that way he wouldn't have to tell them all how much he hated what they had done to him.
"So I guess we should start talking about the actual Games then," Caesar went on, sensing that the glasses were a touchy topic. "I guess I'll start with the question that everyone wants to know. Tell us about your relationship with Chateaux. My heart just broke when she pushed you out of the way, you know. What was going through your mind at that moment?"
Kegan swallowed. He had known this was coming, but that didn't make him any more prepared for the question. "Um, well, I was surprised," Kegan said. The audience laughed, making Kegan blush slightly. Then in a sudden wave of feeling, he wanted nothing more for them to understand. Perhaps if he just explained his confusion to them all, somebody would know the answer to his burning question. Why?
"We've always hated each other," Kegan began, causing the audience to quiet down as they listened to him intently. "I don't think it even had a distinct starting point. It was as if we saw each other's face on that first day of school when we were seven and it was as if some sort of age old fued had resurfaced. Of course, that continued into the Games. We had a fight on the train ride here because we were incapable of holding a simple civil conversation with each other. I knew something was different about her during those last two days. After Autumn died... Then next thing I knew she was dead... She had died for me." Kegan's voice cracked with emotion as he stared madly at the crowd, waiting for somebody to make things clear for him. They were whispering among themselves, holding their hands over their hearts as they "sympathized" with him. A few were even dabbing their eyes with tissues. Nobody knew why Chateaux had done it though. He felt as lost as ever.
"Well, why don't we watch the recap now," Caesar said, sounding quite pleased with the reaction he had coaxed out of Kegan.
Kegan paled as a large screen flickered to life. The video tape started showing Chateaux and him on their chariot. Chateaux was waving excitedly to the crowd as he crossed his arms and glared at ahead. Occasionally he would glance over at her, and the scowl on his face would become more pronounced. It was obvious that there was some tension between them. It was as if Chateaux was being sickeningly peppy just to get on his nerves. Well, it had been working. Kegan could still remember the two of them backstage with Eros and Autumn. He had been so annoyed with her for flirting with the boy from District One. It had been so illogical that he just couldn't understand the point of it. A wave of guilt passed over him. Really, it hadn't done any harm.
Next, the film briefly showed his interview, in which he basically called every single one of the other tributes stupid before moving on to the bloodbath. Kegan watched as the film flashed between each death before finally resting on Kegan. He was with Chateaux again, and he watched as she stole that kill from him. He felt himself smile sadly as he watched himself complained insesently about it.
The tape skipped to the part where Roan and Skye killed each other, and lingered on the part where Kegan protested carrying the girl from Ten down the mountain. He wondered how he could have been so heartless. Obviously the dying girl had been hurt by his arguing. He was happy that Chateaux had forced him to carry her though. It had been the right thing to do.
The tape quickly skipped through the next couple of deaths. Kegan watched with surprise as Lindon killed Terra and Belle. Kegan had never seen much of the boy he and Chateaux had killed together. Not once had he ever considered that Lindon was a threat. Not even after he had killed Autumn had he thought much of Lindon, compitition-wise. It appeared to be yet another area of ignorance for Kegan, as Lindon would eventually rack up more kills than all of them.
The next scene that the film lingered on was Foster's death. Kegan felt a pang of sadness as he watched the boy freeze to death. He could still hear the boy's cheery voice in his mind as he quizzed him, trying to pick out a fact that Kegan didn't know. At least he had actually tried to save Foster, even if Eros had prevented it.
The Games went on, showing Velt and Totem's raid of the Cornucopia. Totem had been another incredibly solid competitor. At least he never had underestimated her. Then it showed Chateaux sparing Velt. Finally, Kegan got a glimpse of the girl that had sacrificed her life for him. Chateaux tried to make it look as if it was scorn for her mother that made her save that boy, but Kegan saw the compassion in her eyes. It made him feel even worse. The enigma that was Chateaux seemed to grow even more. The emotion in her eyes returned when Eros and Autumn died. The Capitol seemed to be showcasing her almost as much as they did Kegan. After all, she was the reason he had won.
Finally, the big finale came, and Kegan watched Chateaux intently as it did. He watched as she pushed him to the ground, and the lasso wrapped around her neck.
Kegan's muscles tensed as a wave of adrenaline rushed through him. It was as if he were hearing the sound for the very first time again, as if he had never even left the arena. In the bottom corner of the scene he could see himself cringing at the sound. He looked broken.
The film ended with him beating Raven to death. It was infinitely more gruesome now that he could actually see it happen. By the time he had fallen off of the other boy, sobbing, Raven wasn't even recognizable as a human. Fragments of skull and brain matter were scattered around the boy's body, and his fists were bleeding. The boy on the screen wasn't Kegan; it was a madman.
Finally, it ended. The crowd erupted into some kind of sick applause as Caesar pulled Kegan to his feet and made him bow like some sort of king. Then the President came onto the stage, a crown in hand. The man smiled as he placed it gently onto Kegan's head.
"We need to talk," President Snow breathed as he smiled for the cameras.
Kegan looked up, shocked. "About what," he muttered back. But the president had already turned away, waving to his people as he exited the stage. So Kegan was left there, alone and confused, being worshiped by a people that didn't even know him.
He sat in the decorated train compartment, closing his eyes and wallowing in his alone time. It was the first moment he'd had to himself since he had woken up a few days ago to find that he no longer had glasses. He couldn't wait to return home now. Then he could try and bring his life back into some sort of normalcy. And he would get to see Chastel. He needed to see her again.
Suddenly the compartment door slid open, but he didn't move to look who it was. He didn't have to act for Brutus or Albina Schetz, his escort. They both knew that he wasn't in a happy state of mind. Footsteps echoed across the room as somebody went to go pour themselves a cup of tea.
"Would you like some?" a familiar voice asked.
Kegan practically leaped to his feet as he wheeled around to find President Snow's back to him. "N-no thanks," Kegan stuttered out.
The president smiled as he walked around, taking a seat in a chair across from Kegan. "I'm sure you are anxious for your homecoming, so I will get straight to the point," Snow said seriously. "Usually, after the Games, I have to make a visit to the Victor to place a rather unsavory request. I have found that I am not in that position this year."
"Unsavory request?" Kegan muttered back confused.
"Yes, I'm sure Brutus will tell you about it later," Snow brushed off. "But as I said, I have a different request for you." Snow reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulled out some sort of name tag, handing it to Kegan. He took the object in his hand and looked at it blankly. His name and picture were printed on the front, and the District Two seal was on the back. Underneath his name the words Weaponry Scientist were printed in big black letters.
"I don't understand," Kegan mumbled as he stared at the card.
"In a week you will report for your first day of work at the Nut. Its not often we are fortunate enough to find such a smart young man in District Two. I would not have your skills going to waste," Snow replied.
Kegan felt his stomach roll. He would be working at the Nut, creating weapons of mass destruction. It was the job he had always wanted. It had been his dream But he didn't want it anymore. He felt sick thinking that he might make other people feel the way he did right now with his creations, like some sort of helpless victim. "I can't," he choked out. "It's a real honor sir but I can't."
Snow shook his head. "I thought you would understand. This is not optional Mr. Capiton," Snow said. "You will be reporting to work next week. I'm sure your sister will be quite proud of you."
Kegan's jaw clenched seriously, and he felt a bitterness in his mouth. He knew what the president was saying. That was a threat if he had ever heard one. "I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me. Of course I'd like to accept the job," Kegan practically spat back. He suddenly was feeling very light headed.
The president smiled, clapping Kegan on the back. "I'm glad we could reach an understanding on the matter," he said, his beady eyes monitoring Kegan carefully. With that the President rose to his feet and strode out of the compartment. Kegan was left alone again, feeling sick with himself.
The train pulled to a halt in front of District Two. A mammoth crowd was outside on the platform. A million familiar faces of people that had just a month ago treated him like dirt, were now overjoyed with excitement to be seeing him again. The wonders of what fame were at work. Brutus led Kegan to the door, putting his hands on his shoulders. Kegan took a deep breath. The door swung open, and they were met with deafening cheers.
Flowers flew through the air, landing by his feet as he stepped out of the train. People were screaming his name, shouting congratulations. A huge banner was hanging from the ceiling, reading Kegan Capiton: Victor of the 64th Hunger Games.
Kegan waded through the crowd, being carried by its momentum. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Chloe, Jamine, and Sailey, Chateaux's old friends. They were cheering and calling for him to come join them. They disgusted him.
Then he saw her. Chastel was standing by the doorway of the platform. She was standing on her tippy toes and trying to push through the crowd to get a better look at her brother. Her hair had been curled and she was wearing a pretty dress that Kegan didn't recognize. His heart melted at the sight of his sister. Immediately he broke into a sprint. "Chastel," he called out desperately. Her eyes lit up when she saw him, and tears started streaming down her face.
"Kegan," she squeaked. He closed the distance between them and enveloped her into a bear hug, trying to hold back the tears.
"I did it," he whispered hoarsely. "I didn't die."
Chastel let out a choked laugh. "Kegan I'm so sorry," she said through her tears. "I'm so sorry about everything." He didn't even know what she was apologizing for, but the sound of her voice was like music to his ears. A small smile stretched onto his face. He had saved Chastel from their father. If that was the only good thing that ever came from this entire experience, then he supposed he would be able to live with himself. At least to some extent.
"Come on," Chastel said, pulling on his hand. "They have a big party for you and everything."
Kegan watched as the party winded down. He was standing in the main hallway of his new home in Victor's village. They always had the homecoming party in the Victor's new house. He understood why now. If he had come home to this empty house alone that night, he might have drunk himself to death. He didn't though. No, Brutus was at the party, and he had a point to prove. He wasn't going to become an alcoholic, at least not today.
"Hi," a cheery voice chirped in his ear. Kegan looked over to see who was talking to him to find that a petite girl with flowing brown hair. He groaned to himself. Here comes yet another social-climbing hoe to come hit on him.
"Hi," he said curtly.
"This must be pretty depressing huh?" she asked, a smile on her face.
He shot her an odd long look. She was the first person that night to say something negative on the topic of Victorism so far that night. "I don't know what your talking about. Can't you see I'm elated," he said dryly.
"Really?" she said curiously. "Because you're kind of brooding."
"Who are you anyway?" Kegan snapped irritated.
"My name is Zia, Zia Carramay," she chirped back. Kegan immediately went pale as his eyes flickered over to her. Chateaux's words echoed in his mind: I'm going to go back and visit an old friend of mine. Her name is Zia. I think I owe her an apology for a lot more than just arrogance. He hadn't expected Chateaux's friend to be there tonight, and he most certainly didn't expect her to look so... non-threatening. Zia carried herself almost in the same way Chastel did, real girly like.
"You, you knew Chateaux," Kegan stuttered out.
"Yeah," she answered with a faint smile on her face. "I knew her."
Kegan didn't know what to say. "I- I'm sorry," he started to babble. "She- er- I... I never wanted this."
"Don't apologize. You know, I'm really happy she died for you," Zia smiled at him shaking her head. "I got to see my best friend for the first time in years."
"What?" Kegan asked, confused.
"Come on, I have a story to tell you," she said, holding out her hand to Kegan. He reached forwards and took it tentatively. For the first time, he felt like maybe he wasn't alone in his pit of empty sorrow.
A/N The end. Wow, that feels weird to say.
So I guess that this is the part where I start to gush about what great readers I have. I'd like to thank everyone who has/will review this story. I really appreciate all of the support I've been getting. Really I could never have hoped for more from you guys. Really thank you so much for all of the support. You guys have made every single word I've typed totally worth it.
If you want to submit a character to the sequel, then the first chapter is up right now. The new story is called Finding the Light. Kegan will be a mentor. More instructions on the entire submitting process will be in the authors note of there, and even more instructions will be on my profile, along with the form. So yeah, go check that out.
So again, thank you so much everybody.