What… is this… no it couldn't be! Wait… no… I think it is…

Why, it's a… it's an update!

Yeah, okay, so I updated! Yay!

I was originally planning to get this out yesterday, but I was over at friend's house all day and didn't get home till kinda late. Staying Alive is going to be updated hopefully by tomorrow, but I'm going to a basketball game, so if I don't get the update out until Wednesday, sorry, don't kill me! It is done, I just haven't had time to edit it. Similar Desires will probably have an update on Wednesday, btw.

AND OMG A VEGGIE TALES SONG JUST CAME ON PANDORA AS I WAS TYPING THIS! (I do not own or endorse Pandora or the Veggie Tales on here, but I am mentioning it.)

Yeah, I know, I'm way old for the Veggie Tales. Okay… I am WAY too old for the Veggie Tales, but eh… I'm not responsible for what comes on Pandora right? I mean… so what if I have a kiddie station as an option…

Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games (or Veggie Tales or Pandora) but you know, it is one of many loves.

Katniss's POV

We all gather around the small television screen. Prim sits beside me, though she pays me no attention. Her furtive glances toward Rory tell me everything without even needing to ask. Perhaps under different circumstances, I would be glaring at Rory or elbowing Prim, telling them they are too young for any affections, but I am not.

I know of Prim's secret crush on Rory. It started in the third grade and hasn't faltered. She is still as sweet on him as the day he started tugging on her braid and calling her names. Of course, though that seems forever ago, it really isn't. I have to remind myself that Rory is not older than he actually is. He is only twelve years old and he is still only a child. However, the dark circles under his eyes, the grim lines in the corners of his mouth, and the stiff pull of his facial muscles make me want to think differently.

We are piled into my house today. Though Rory's new home would be much roomier, it is still being renovated. I wouldn't dare to ask anyway. It feels familiar here in my house with us all being together again.

Yet it doesn't. Something dark lingers over our little group. Something that keeps everyone tense and scared and confused. As if something bad has happened and there is still more to come.

Isn't that the case though?

Prim inches closer to Rory, whose spot on the floor is close to hers on the couch. She acts as though she wants to touch him, comfort him, but doesn't reach a hand out. Her fingers twitch and her elbows tense, but she doesn't act on her desire.

I will never know the pain of loving someone, of even liking someone, in that way. I decided long ago that my love would only be spent on Prim, my mother, and the Hawthorne family. I can't afford to extend my affections to anyone else and I don't have the will to care for anyone else. I refuse to marry and have children. I will not bring someone into this terrible world of despair and death. I will not give someone a life that is already destined to be ruined.

Prim finally decides to extend a hand out and rest it on Rory's shoulder. Rory's head has been down for the past few minutes, not staring at the television in front of us, but he snaps it up. There isn't a scowl on his face, but he isn't smiling either. He subtly slips away from Prim, allowing her hand to slide of his shoulder and back into her lap. Prim's cheeks burn with embarrassment and she ducks her head, allowing the braids to cover her red face.

Rory, while looking guilty, doesn't comment, and goes back to staring moodily around, though he keeps his head up and in the general direction of the screen.

I pull my prying gaze away from him and back to television as I hear the announcer finally start speaking about what we have been waiting for.

My mother sits close to Hazel. My mother appears to be close to either a breakdown or a shutdown, but leans closer to Gale's mother for comfort and stays relatively calm. Hazel seems to be trying to sooth her, but with a four year old Posy on her lap, she is more focused on the child. I don't blame her. Hazel is the one with a broken son who just came back from hell, shouldn't my mother be comforting her instead?

Vick is burying his head in a book. He is not trying to be rude; this is just how he deals. He is not a crier or a shouter or a fighter. When he is upset he reads, he talks it over, or he writes it down somewhere.

Gale stands against the back wall, I don't even dare to turn around and study him.

I lean over to the television on the small counter and turn the knob, making the sound louder for all of us to hear.

It has been a three days since Rory stepped off that train and back into our district. Two days since the Capitol forced the mayor to do damage control over his and his districts actions. One day since the last death.

A lady with lime green hair, lime green eyes, and lime green lips speaks animatedly into the microphone with a cheery smile on her altered and painted face. I find this odd, since the news she is delivering is anything but cheery. Her cohost at least shows the proper amount of respect, and keeps his bright auburn eyebrows tugged together with in a grim expression. His mouth is a serious, straight line of orange.

"Yesterday afternoon," she starts. Wrong, I think, it was yesterday morning, but I don't say anything. "Mrs. Henrietta Undersee, previously known as Henrietta Donner before marriage, died from an aneurism of the brain. The vessel ruptured, killing her at just thirty-eight, and putting an end to the line of Undersee women."

Suddenly the man lights up and his bright orange eyes flash excitedly. I lose any respect I had for him.

"Yes, that's right, Celia! Mayor Undersee's mother passed away a few years ago, and being an only he child, he married a woman of the Donner family, who has now passed. With Margaret Undersee's, or as she is more popularly known as, Madge's death in the Hunger Games, it certainly seems as if the District Twelve mayor's family is depleting." He stacks the papers in front of him as if they hold important information, but he doesn't look down at them once. Celia takes a hearty drink of… whatever is in the atrocious lime green mug in front of her and nods.

They show a picture of Mrs. Undersee. It is a picture of before she became sick. She is younger and a perfect smile full of pearly white teeth is shown to the camera. A silky black evening dress hangs off her shoulder elegantly and her hair is twisted into an elaborate bun.

Next comes a picture of Madge. It is of her interview dress. Black and flames and dramatic make up that doesn't seem like Madge at all, but it is beautiful nonetheless. She is beautiful. Much like her mother, a charming smile is displayed for everyone to see and she performs for the camera.

Finally, they show a photograph of mayor Undersee. It is a recent photo. He has bags under his eyes, wrinkles creased into his forehead and chin, and graying hair atop his head. I have never noticed how worn down the mayor was getting. I realize now that some of my prejudice has subsided, that his profession must be very hard on him. He protects our district the best he can, looking the other direction when we hunt illegally and raising the meager pay as much as possible, yet no one thanks him for it. In fact, it looks as if he pays a price for the things he does.

Celia sucks in a breath and her absurdly high cheekbones pull in. She grimaces.

"Looks like the mayor isn't doing too well either, won't be long now, I say Jomi! He looks as if he could keel over at any moment!" She lets out a piercing laugh that makes Posy cover her ears.

"Oh, and he most definitely-"

Suddenly the television cuts off and goes dark. For once in my life, I'm thankful for the unreliable power in the Seam.

I cautiously slide my eyes over to Rory. His face is a careful, clean slate of indifference, but his fists are clenched and his breath comes out rougher than usual. This time, Prim doesn't try to comfort him or pat his back in support, she just watches with sad eyes and a hopeless expression.

It is silent and tense and still as no one says a word or moves.

Finally, Rory climbs to his feet. He doesn't glance at anyone or utter a word; he simply turns on his heel, exits our house, and slams the door.

I cringe.

As he exits, I turn to Prim. She doesn't say anything either, but her eyes tell me everything.

She doesn't know what to do. She wants to help. That is who she is. She's a helper. Someone who comfort and supports even when you don't know you need it.

I sling an arm around her as I feel Gale's presence behind me move. I know without turning around that he is heading toward the door to his brother. I sigh, wishing everything would go back to normal, but knowing that it won't.

The official story of Madge's mother's death is the aneurysm, but everyone in District Twelve knows better. Sure, Madge's mother was sick and she had headaches, but she was strong. I can only think of two possibilities. The Capitol. We all know the mayor can't do what he did the day Rory returned and get away without punishment. And this is what the Capitol does. They take families and tear them apart. I have no doubt in my mind that the Capitol could orchestrate Mrs. Undersee's death and dress it up all pretty and make us all believe that it is simply what they say it is.

The second possibility makes my insides ache and my chest tightens painfully.

She died of a broken heart. She died because she couldn't handle her only daughter's death. Still, this is at the fault of the Capitol. They did this with their sick and twisted enjoyment of the Hunger Games.

My head whips around as if I think the Capitol can hear me even though I didn't speak my thoughts aloud.

I know we have to hold on and get through this together. Wait for better times. Hope for the best while we try to survive.

But how can we hope to survive when hope itself is slowly dying?

"How is she?"

It is silent in the room as a woman stays mute. A man clenches his fists. He is jittery, but determined. He appears angry and the woman sighs, running a hand through her hair.

"She's… getting better."

"How much better?"

The woman glares, her eyes a steely gray.

"Better than yesterday when you asked the same exact question," she snaps. The faint beeping of a heart monitor sounding behind the curtain starts speeding up, almost imperceptibly, but the two people don't notice.

"When will she wake up?" he questions loudly. Their hushed whispers are now demanding words.

"It's hard to tell."

"What the hell does that mean?"

The beeping quickens.

"It means what it means!" The woman puts her hands on her hips. Her blond hair is coming out of the tight bun it was once in. She is nearly a head shorter than the man, but she stands on her own with an air of power.

"Just give me an estimate. Days, weeks, months, what? I'm going crazy here!" he hisses. His graying hair is disheveled and his clothes are thrown on haphazardly, but he still manages to appear strong.

Her voice rings out an answer that makes the room stressed and uncomfortable.

"It could be within the next minute or it could be never!" she finally yells out in an answer.

She looks as if she regrets her words, but they are out there and there is no taking them back.

The beeping is now rapid, but both people are too preoccupied to notice.

"So…?" he trails off with an angry huff. The man is now deflated and it becomes clear how much he cares.

"All we can do is hope," the woman answers soothingly.

"Hope?" he bites back. She nods, but he appears entirely unconvinced.

"Yes," she whispers. It remains tense as the man whips around, his back now to the woman as he walks roughly away.

Suddenly the beeping slows back down to a sluggish, melancholy beat.

"Hope died when she did."

So, was that Madge? Huh, was it? Maybe or maybe NOT! We shall see my friends. Thanks for all the encouragement from the last chapter(s)!