My lip curls back in disgust as the Peacekeeper leads me deep into the bowels of the Capitol.
"You said your parents were Peacekeepers too?" The man looks over his shoulder, his eyes doubtful. I nod right away, maybe too quickly. Of course that's not true, I'm an undercover spy for 13, finding the people Ms. Everdeen talked about, making sure they're alright, getting coordinates on them before returning to 13.
"Who did you say your parents were?" Think Truancy, think.
A name pops out of my mouth before I can stop it.
The man's eyebrows furrow, his eyes doubtful as he takes a sharp right. I hiss, almost clipping my shoulder as I try to keep up with him.
"Isn't Undersee the name of that wretched mayor from 12?"
"Yeah, but I'm a distant relative. We lived in 2 for most of my life, and they were all around the Districts, just not the Capitol." I bite my lip; sweat dripping off of my nose from underneath the mask. How can they stand it in here for so long? I feel like a chicken that's in all its feathers, stuffed in an oven.
"Here we be." The man hesitates before slipping his ID card in the slot. It beeps and the door swooshes open. The stale smell of unwashed bodies in a tiny quarter, stale, moldy food, and urine hits my nose right away. I suck in a breath through my mouth and we walk down some more stairs, the walls getting dirtier as we walk farther down. It also gets prominently darker the deep we walk.
Bars are the first things I see besides bloodied walls. Sweat slickened, blood colored bars keep a heap that is probably a Victor that was captured, lying still in a corner. A few feet away, another cell begins, this cell holding a rocking person, singing something under their breath.
"SHUT UP!" The man shouts, kicking the cell with his engineered boot, designed not to feel pain. The figure doesn't stir, just keeps up the mournful movements, back and forth.
I squint in the dark gloom, making out some features of the person. It's definably a female. Closer inspection shows deep gorges in her scalp, parts of her hair cut off with what I presume a knife, a dirty one at that. Pus filled wounds and dirt covered other ones show they're badly infected.
"Mason, up on your feet!" The man yells, an evil grin on his face. Johanna looks up blankly, her lips still moving. The Peacekeeper shakes his head, stepping away.
"Hey Mason, looky here. Another person that's not going to save you! SO give it up!" He grabs the bars and starts to shake the cell. It really does no good.
"Behold our greatest victims. Johanna Mason," he gestures towards Johanna who has resumed her song, but the words changing slightly.
I realize that somewhere in her subconscious, she's still stuck in the arena, still desperately trying to get out.
"And over there, Annie Cresta." The man's lip curls upward in disgust as he storms over to her cell, grabbing a set of keys from his pocket. The lock unlocks and he slams the door open. I wince, jumping slightly. Johanna is unfazed, still muttering under her breath, her eyes glassy and blank. Her clothes are torn and grimy. Her fingernails are dark, dried blood painting her nails red. The cell next to her, empty. My heart is in my throat as I go through the list of Victors I need to see.
I look around in horror. Signs of fighting are in the cell. Blood trails show from the wall all the way to a door that is darkened so you can't see in.
"Up you go." The Peacekeeper hisses. He had grabbed Annie by the hair, dragging her into a fallen upright position. She still is limp as he drags her out of the cell, slamming it shut behind him with his foot. She literally is dragged out by her hair. I get a glimpse at her face, battered and bruised, nothing like the girl who won not so long ago. The lost girl they called her.
She looks more like a child, her face relaxed. Deep cuts run over her nose, cheeks, temples, as if a person ran knifes over her face repeatedly. Her face is more purple, black, and yellow than pale.
My stomach lurches again and I turn away. The man storms up to the door, swiping his card. It whooshes open and screams no doubtly masculine emit from the well lit room. The man pauses, looking back at me irritably.
I shake my head. "Just going to ask Johanna a few questions."
The man gives me a funny look before nodding. "Knock when you're' done."
The door slams shut and I'm alone with Johanna. The singing has stopped, I realize with a jolt. I slam to my knees next to her cell, at her eye level. She watches me with blank eyes. I reach through the bars, trying to grab her hand.
She squeaks something out, burrowing deeper into the cell, breathing shallow.
"Don't worry," I hear myself whisper from a million miles away. "We're coming to save you all."
That's snaps something inside of her. She starts to rock back and forth together, muttering under her breath again. The door slams open and a different Peacekeeper drags a limp, bloodied body into the cell next to Johanna. He shoots me a strange look before walking back through the door. Johanna glances at the figure blankly, still muttering. The figure stirs slowly, moaning something about Katniss.
I look closely at the figure, getting onto my knees. The blonde hair is past dirty; filled with blood and grime, weeks of unwashing, something orange coloring his bangs. His eyes are dark, flickering underneath purple eyelids, showing signs of unrest. His clothes are the ones from the arena, not just two weeks ago. He has a thin layer of dirt on his skin, looking permanent.
The mighty Peeta Mellark.
Johanna mumbles something when I finally get up. I dust off my suit, turning to walk over to the door, not able to handle anymore of this, but I still have to find Enobria.
Johanna lurches forwards and grabs a hold of the bars tormenting her. I jerk, biting my lip as I stare with wide eyes at Johanna, who slowly pulls herself up to her knees.
"Once the clock starts ticking,
You'll never escape."
She remembers the screams.
The moans of pain, the curses of broken promises,
The screams of love, shattered as they twist the mind until there's nothing left but hate.
Deep, dark, lustful hate.
She and Johanna whisper time and time again, reaching their arms out from the bloodied bars, trying to comfort the screaming man beside Johanna, but it all comes for nothing.
There once was a time when Peeta Mellark loved Katniss Everdeen.
But those days are gone.
Annie's stopped singing.
So she breathes in deeply, and starts up the song, because once someone stops singing, by some unspoken agreement when they first were captured, you keep the song going no matter what.
Because when it stops, that means they've won.
The Capitol and all its torture.
And none of them want to admit that.
He remembers the last moments. The fire colored sky as the force field was blown out, the feeling of defeat and horror, worry and pain from Chaff hitting him in the shoulder with his knife.
He remembers the cold feeling of the claw grabbing his limp body out of the arena, President Snow's eyes as he was lifted into the hovercraft.
He remembers fear.
But that falls away now, as the doctors ask him over and over again,
'How did the rebellion start?'
'What do you know?'
'Just tell us and we'll spare Katniss.'
But he knows that Katniss is not here, that she's actually safe in 13, that 12 is gone,
All because of her.
When they first told him that she killed his parents, destroyed 12 so that all that remained was ashes, he spit in their faces.
That got him 2 hours of poisonous gas, tracker jacker stings, and watching yet another innocent victim of Snow's anger being killed in front of him.
You would have thought he would have gone mental by now.
He thinks he has.
Because when they ask him the same question they ask every day,
'Do you still love Katniss Everdeen?'
He's always answered with confidence, answering almost right away,
'Yes, I always have, always will.'
He finally has hesitated.
And that's all the doctor's need.
They're stuck in cells together, Johanna, Peeta and her. And she's confused. What has she done that has her stuck in the bottom of the Capitol? She'd just been here because they needed another mentor for Finnick since the last one has disappeared.
Obviously, it was a trap. They knew Katniss was going to blow up the arena, so they wanted her here so they had easy access to get her before the rebels did.
Men in crisp, white, pristine uniforms are coming in, faces hard and set, and she thinks she recognize a couple of them from previous games, but they just break a couple of her fingers by stomping on them in answer to her question.
Finally, they take chains, holding them up above the ground, her arms above her head, hanging slightly over the clean titles of the ground. She almost laughs at the irony of it all. White is a pure color, meant for innocent people.
They've never been and never will be innocent.
And Snow knows that.
He's screaming again.
Curled in a little ball, his bloodied, broken fingers clench around his head as he rocks back and forth on the cold stone ground.
The song falters slightly on her parted, bruised lips, but she brushes past it, continuing as if nothing had happened.
But something did happen, and she can't take much more of it.
Each day, he comes back into his cell slightly more crazed. The blue in his eyes is almost gone, black taking its place, and he's muttering to himself constantly.
'What's she going to do now?'
'Is she coming for me?'
When the three of them were together in that godforsaken cell, she got quite familiar with his screams.
But these aren't his.
It's as if a demon from hell is slowly growing inside of him, killing him from the inside out.
Changing Peeta into Snow's own demon.
But Peeta fights it, but it's showing that he's losing. His skin hangs off of his bones like a burlap sack her brother always lugged around,
That he was buried with.
Peeta's skin is multicolored, scattered with more bruises than the rest of them. Some of his nails are literally ripped of, no doubt from his tortures, and he has deep gorges next to his eyes from hallucinations all of them get after 'treatments'.
Peeta shudders deeply, jerking by some invisible force and his eyes meet hers, pit black to amber brown.
Then his lips start to move.
Her cell door slams open, the knife cutting through her hair, through her scalp, to her skull, slamming her to the ground, blood trickling down her face at a rapid pace. Peeta watches her, void of emotion, even as she's dragged past his cell, weak to the bone.
'Once the clock starts ticking,
You'll never escape.'
He watches the screen, his mind blank.
Katniss the Mutt, he likes to call her now, it has a nice ring to it, is standing over the charred remains of his parents and brothers, her eyes filled with mirth, coloring the gray rich color he loved to paint time and time again to a velvety blood red color that makes up her eyes to the brim. Her sharp, long teeth are blood colored, dripping the blood that once flowed through his mother's heartless body. Deep gorges in the bones that made up his oldest brother shows that Katniss killed him with her curled claws before alighting all of District 12 on fire.
He knows it's a fake photo, and tells them just that.
So that's why they brought out the tracker jacker venom.
The stabbing of the needles in his scalp was like a small itch, nothing as bad as the other stuff he's endured here. He vaguely hears Johanna screaming in the room next to him, her screams muffled by the water that takes her deep into its throes.
He decides before he dies that he should be a poet. Not that anyone would read his stuff anyways, it would be too dark, but it'd be fun to try.
He starts a soft poem in his head as they attach the headpiece to his bloodied skull. It latches around his jaw, showing that he won't be able to get of with ease.
It's remote controlled, they told him.
Go to hell, he spat back at them.
They just laughed, backing out of the room as a screen slides down, as crisp and clean as the walls when he first comes in for his 'treatment'.
The first thing they show is Katniss helping him get out of the death outfit he designed for himself in the first games, slowly cooking him as he laid in the cool mud for days.
She just left you there to rot in the mud, the voices hiss, but he blocks them out.
He starts to lightly hum a lullaby his mother hummed to him when he was little, before she went crazy and beat him night and day for years.
Hush, little baby, don't you cry…
And he won't cry, not just yet at least. The picture on the screen changes, and Katniss morphs into a rabid beast, muzzle and claws frothing with his blood as she slashes him with a knife, cutting him to the bone and leaving him there, helpless in the mud, to bleed to dead.
It's not real. He tells himself, closing his eyes, to block away the bloodied image. He can almost feel the blood trickle down his leg as she cuts him with her razor sharp claws.
And that's when the poisoning starts.
He bites his lip to suppress a scream as the needles slam into his skull at alarming speed and ferociously. The venom works almost instantly, making everything a white haze until he blinks himself dry.
And then he's forced to watch. Watch as Katniss eats Cato alive, he never stood a chance.
Watch as Katniss hides her fangs by smiling close lipped as he turned around to call for the car for them to leave Snow's mansion.
He didn't miss, on the film, the murderous, lustful look in her eyes as she watched him grab her things for her.
Didn't miss the way she licked her fangs like she was ready to eat him like he ate his turkey at his birthday.
A loud voice echoes form around the room, making him finally scream in pain and fear as the last of today's slides finished up, with Katniss about to maul him.
"She never loved you.
"You were her plaything, a toy, a next meal. She killed your family and countless others to get what she wanted.
"But you're next, as you saw.
"And soon, you'll be dead, just like the rest of them."
They barely feed them. She and Johanna look worse for wear, sunken eyes, skin hanging off of Johanna's bones and her skin basically molding to her bones, she's that skinny.
And her breathing isn't the soft, gentle hum that Finn always said he liked, no, it's worse. It comes from deep within her lungs, as if her body is searching desperately for the precious oxygen, and it rattles through her throat, a deep, mournful sound.
Peeta is the only one that looks kind of like the man he was. They may pretty him up all they want, make him look like a sex object like Finnick, but if you glance into his eyes, you see all the hardships he endured, but it still pains her to look him the eyes as they throw him into the cell again, the pure white walls making his hair look bleached. She knows they torture him, but thankfully neither she nor Johanna have been tortured yet.
But that is soon to change, but how would she know that?
His breath comes out fast and hard as he squeezes his eyes shut, clenching his hair like he's intending to rip it out.
Johanna moans something in her sleep, and it still amazes her how she can sleep upright like that.
She closes her eyes herself, trying to block out Peeta's mumbles and Johanna's silent screams for her lost ones. She tries to remember the smell of the ocean current, the way the wind would gently make her hair halo around her face as she'd turn to face Finn as he'd splash her with water.
She'd laugh, jumping into the water after him, bent on getting her revenge, coming up behind him and tackling him into the water. She tries to remember the feel of Finn's arms around her, as he'd rock her back from the brink of insanity.
Because she knows she'll never see him.
It just pains her to even think of the worst.
But even President Snow promised at his last visit to them that they wouldn't survive the next couple of weeks,
And that's when she finally broke.
She can vaguely hear Peeta sing as they drag her limp body out of the cell for the fourth time in the past day. She doesn't have that much hair left for them to drag her out of her cell by. Blood trickles down her throat and she welcomes the velvety touch and taste as it makes her gag, spitting out the scarlet liquid, which earns her a blow to the head, not by the butt of the knife like last time, but by the actual point of the knife.
What bothers her is that all she feels as the knife grazes her skull is nothing.
She knows the procedure when she's dragged into the back room. First they get her slumping body upright into a chair, strapping her arms down to the arms of the chair and her ankles to the legs of the chair. Today, the coolness of the metal of the neck brace jolts her out stupor for her to blearily watch the man in front of her strap the metal rod around her neck to keep her head up.
She heaves out a sigh, her chest crushed to the point where she can barely breathe. It's like breathing through a crushed straw.
Snow walks in, his pristine suit crisp and clean of blood. Her lip curls back by impulse, making her spit on his shoes when he's right in front of her. The black of his shoes shine darkly from the blood.
He says nothing, not even when he beats her, first punching her ears, then her nose.
"What do you know?" he'll hiss at her, over and over. She'll say nothing, but this time, she thinks she's gone to far.
Because after her session, Snow promises her that her friends will be hearing from him soon, and he won't be so kind to them anymore.
He fights against the restraints, his lips curled back, his teeth gritting as an inhumane sound comes from deep within his throat.
President Snow and his Peacekeepers watch with satisfaction. This is the first time that he has fought for the blood of Katniss just by seeing a picture of her.
They had shown the same picture of Katniss like they always had, one of her at their Victory Tour, staring lovingly at Peeta as he talked to one of the chefs at Snow's mansion.
His face had been expressionless when they had first put up the picture, and the doctors had worried they hadn't made any progress, but they stopped chattering when President Snow held up a hand, silencing them.
He pointed to the see-through window, where Peeta's lip had curled back. They watched as Peeta started to growl, muttering a string of curses under his breath that soon turned into full out shouting,
Shouting how he'd kill Katniss Everdeen when he got the chance,
Wondering how he ever had fallen in love with a girl like her.
Out of the corner of his eyes, he sees Johanna being dragged in. Her eyes go wide when she sees him trying to murder Katniss and she screams for him to remember,
Remember his love for her.
But he just laughs in her face, slapping her down with his words and gaze, telling her he'd never fall for a girl like her,
They've gotten quite comfortable with each other's screams. The low, hoarse inhumane moan that comes out of Peeta's mouth for hours on end tells her that they've only done brutal, outside harm,
Not mental harm.
But the bloodcurdling screams that are emitting from his mouth now, and she knows they've finally hit him hard.
Her eyelids won't open, they're caked shut with blood, but she knows they've placed Peeta in the cell right next to her. Johanna is silent, but she doesn't notice as she rocks back and forth, burying her face in her knees.
Her cell door slams open with a bam, and she shrieks, covering her face with her hands. Shouts come from all around.
"She's in here!"
"Prepare the stretcher!"
Strong hands grab her around the shoulders, picking her up. Peeta still is screaming and she knows he'll be left behind if she doesn't say something.
"No!" She screams, fighting the straps on the stretcher. "Peeta's still there! Go back!"
Hands catch her wrists, forcing her back.
"Miss Cresta, open your eyes." A soothing, rough voice commands her. She pries her eyes open, wincing, feeling as if the skin were ripping at the seams. Gentle gray eyes meet hers, tears streaming down her face.
"My name is Gale Hawthorne, and I'll be helping you on our way back to 13." He pries her mouth open, slipping a tube down her throat, while other doctors connect her to heart meters and oxygen tanks.
"Is here with us, as is Miss Mason." Gale gestures to two stretchers across from her, one having a convulsing form screaming at the doctors, and one eerily still.
She gulps, nodding before squeaking out, "Where's Finnick?"
"Back at 13. Just rest Miss Cresta, you'll be in safety before you know it."
She remembers her parents. Even though they died at her young age, she remembers them vaguely. Her mother, gentle and kind, yet tough as nails when it came to her children, that's when her ugly side came out. She remembers how Mother attacked a Peacekeeper when he threatened to kill her brother.
The next day, she found her mother dead with her own axe piercing her heart.
Same fate came upon her brother and her father when she had refused to be a sex symbol like Finnick after she won her games.
She sees them again as Snow orders for her to be plunged in the icy cold water, lit with the colors of the tazors. When the first batch of zaps comes, she's not ready for it, and she screams as her body convulses from the pulses emitting from the shockers.
The next batch is less hard on her, but she's losing air. Her mind is fuzzy as she turns around in her restraints. Her father and mother smile from above the surface of the water, and her brother turns around, his signature grin twisting his handsome face. He shakes his head and reaches through the surface of the water, his hand outstretching, reaching for hers.
She takes it, a serene smile on her face.
If this is death, how could she have waited so long so be welcomed there?
She sighs, breathing in deep gulps of air, and someone shouts, "SHE'S BREATHING!"
Hands grab her thin arms, hauling her out of the water. She shivers, watching the people run around, strapping her to a stretcher and hook up machines to her, pushing her down the hallway to a hovercraft. She moans, fighting the restraints, longing for the pressure of the water. Her brother's face slowly starts to fade and she screams, calling out to him,
But her calls fall on deaf ears.
His eyes are closed, but he still hears the shouts and screams coming from the hallways.
He used to cover his ears, blocking out the haunting sounds, but now, it's like a soothing song to him.
A death song.
He imagines Katniss screaming that as he slowly kills her, her lifeblood draining out onto his hands. He smiles serenely at the thought. The door slams open in their room and Annie screams, but something's off about it. It's not her screams she has when the Peacekeepers come to take her to her torture, no, it's something different.
Something almost haunting.
Muffled shouts come from Annie's cell, as her cell door is ripped free from its holdings. He knows their coming for him next, but he still has time.
Loads of time.
He leans back against the cool tiled wall, his eyes still closed. Annie screams for him, but he doesn't move, doesn't move to comfort her this time.
No, this is different.
This is revenge.
Suddenly, hands cover his mouth; he hadn't even noticed that people had come into his cell, and the shrieking, bloodcurdling sound that was filling his ears for the pasta couple of minutes cuts off abruptly. He didn't realize that the sound was coming from him.
A deep, throaty laugh bubbles it's way out of his mouth as he convulses suddenly in the arms of his captors.
"Peeta?" A man's voice calls out through the haze. He frowns, there's something about that voice. "Peeta Mellark. Wake up, we're here to rescue you."
And where there's Gale, there's Katniss.
So his eyes snap open, a malicious sneer on his face.
"I will get you."
A/N: Well, that's a nice walk in the park. :/
Sorry if there's any mistypes in this story.
Please R&R... Disclaimer: I don't own The Hunger Games or licensed to anything in that particular...
I'm going to shut up now.
And now, a special surprise, an inside look on Part 4 of the Mellark's Mysteries series: Take a look!
The man grits his teeth, slamming the window shut as best as he can. Gloved hands wedge their way underneath the window, and he shouts, his fingernails being ripped from their beds. Blood runs freely down his grimy fingers now as he turns around, jamming his elbows on the windowpane, forcing the window shut. The fingers slip out and the man hears the slam of the window as it slides home.
He jerks backwards, turning around, and jams the lock into place. It's like putting a bobby pin in place of a bolt on a door for all it's worth. The window rattles every time the faceless man outside slams his gloved hand onto the glass.
"We will find you." The faceless man hisses. He shudders at how he can hear him clearly through the glass. So he does the most logical thing possible in his right mind.
He runs for his life.