Author's Note:

All I have to say is that I hope you like this! Haymitch is literally my favorite character in The Hunger Games trilogy, and I hope that other people feel the same way! Oh, yeah, and Suzanne Collins has all the rights to the dialogue and things that I borrowed from Catching Fire.

Shimmers on the Horizon

I hear the sound of giggling laughter from next door. A sigh escapes me as I sit up in bed. The sun is setting. I can never sleep when it's dark out. Even in the light, I have endless nightmares. You're here, Haymitch, I remind myself. No more Hunger Games. They're all dead. Get over it.

Only, I think I'll never get over it.

I sigh again and stand up shakily, feeling heavy and clumsy. The hangover won't go away, so I do what I've always done: drank some more. I down an entire bottle of liquor that rushes through me like wet fire. I feel like I could breathe smoke, so maybe they'll stay away. They. They are everyone who haunts me. They will never stop haunting me like this. But I look out the window to see Katniss and Peeta sitting on their porch, watching the sunset as their children run around on the lawn, shrieking and playing a game of what looks like two-person tag. The August fireflies start sparking in the air as the children laugh and play. Katniss is holding Peeta's hand, and they both look so affectionate that it sends spears through my heart.

I open the window, trying to be as quiet as possible. The children's giggles are even louder now that I can hear better. Katniss and Peeta look so content. And they have a reason. I'm the one who drowns myself in alcohol and memories and sleeps away the day and wakes up with a hangover. Exactly what I need. Alcohol. I open another bottle and take a swig as I watch the little girl, only eight years old, dance through the grass with her wavy dark hair in pigtails flying as she jumps up and down, squealing in happiness with every leap into the air. Her pants have grass stains on the knees from falling during their game of tag. The boy, six years old, resembles Peeta more, with a bit more fat than the girl and blond hair. He's running around, trying to catch the fireflies. "I got one, Mommy!" he crows, smiling the missing-toothed grin at his parents. "I got one! I got one!"

I slam the window shut, tears stinging my eyes. Every one of the boy's joyful cries tells me, "I have you, Haymitch Abernathy. I'm never going to let you fix yourself. You're too broken." Well, everything I'm thinking is painfully right. I've lost everyone and everything. A painful dart of sadness hits me when I think of Maysilee. The young, beautiful girl with silky blond hair and shimmery blue eyes that used to make me forget about getting drunk at all. I would have been drinking during the preparation for the Games if not for Maysilee. Maysilee was my liquor. She made me happy when we were allies. But then she died. Died, while I held her hand. And I didn't lie and tell her that she'd be all right. I just told her that she'd stop hurting soon.

Maybe I should have lied. Then maybe that girl from District 1 could have been the victor instead of me. Because I know that I deserve to die for everything. Lying to Katniss and Peeta about the rebellion. Lying to Peeta about letting him go into the Quarter Quell arena. And I know that I was a burden for everyone in District 13. They hated me. They couldn't stand how ruined my body was. The doctors seemed to be afraid to touch me. They had a reason, though. Maybe they thought that whatever I had would spread to them. Only, misery isn't contagious.

Even though the sun is sinking, I flop over on my bed and pull the sheets up over my head, breathing in the stale air that stinks like my sweat and alcohol. I'm so... tired... I just want to fall asleep and wake up in a world where there has never been any Hunger Games and where Maysilee lives by my side and loves me forever and forever and we'll never die...

I'm staring at Maysilee. Her eyes are so bright in the arena sun. She looks so beautiful, the sunlight glinting on her long blond hair. But her eyes are filled with tears as we stare down the deep cliff. There's sharp rocks far down. The drop looks dizzying. "That's all there is, Haymitch," she says, and I hear in her voice that she thinks that all our effort -getting attacked by the Careers and burning the hedge, all to get to the edge of the arena- is pointless. But it isn't! It can't be! It has to end somewhere. "Let's go back."

The response comes quickly. "No, I'm staying here," I say stubbornly, but it's breaking my heart to see the tears that well in her lovely blue eyes.

"All right," she says, looking into my eyes. I feel like I can't move. "There's only five of us left. May as well say good-bye now, anyway," she says, staring at me like she's about to cry. "I don't want it to come down to you and me."

I want to say that I agree. That I don't want to kill her, my beautiful Maysilee Donner. I want to say a thousand things. But I only say one word. "Okay," I get out, and then she's walking away, and I'm frozen in place staring after her.

I walk along the edge of the cliff, scowling down at the bottom. How is this the end? What if a tribute jumped to their death? What if there was another place? I kick a pebble down into the abyss, and I watch it become impossible to see. But to my surprise, the pebble shoots up seconds later as if it's bounced off something. I stare at the pebble, frowning. How can it just come back? How is that even possible? I pick up a rock from the ground and throw it off the cliff. It comes back right into my waiting hand. It's so perfect that I start laughing.

Then I hear a scream, a horrible scream that keeps continuing over and over. Maysilee. My beautiful, perfect, amazing Maysilee is screaming. I know that we're not allies. I know that I don't want to have us be the final two. But I run into the trees anyway, because I know that I love her. I love Maysilee. I shoot off into the trees, running as fast as I can for her.

But then I see the flock of birds, shockingly pink, flying off, and the last one's poking its thin, sharp beak through Maysilee's neck. Oh my God. I kneel down next to her. She's crying, a few holes straight through her throat. My hand slips into hers. "Maysilee," I say desperately. My voice sounds heartbroken. She's not going to make it. She's dying. She's about to die. "I'm sorry. It's too late, Maysilee."

Her voice is strangled and weak when she speaks, as if the air is leaking out of her throat. "It hurts, Haymitch," she says between sobs, squeezing my hand tighter, her big blue eyes spilling over with tears. "I'm not going to make it, Haymitch."

No. No, she's not. My beautiful girl, who I want to kiss over and over, is almost dead. "Shh," I whisper. "I know. I promise that it's going to stop hurting soon, Maysilee." And, because I know that I'm never going to have the chance again, I lean down and kiss her on the lips. She tastes like metallic blood, but her lips are soft under mine for a second. I run my hand through her hair, and we break apart. I swallow back the lump in my throat. "Nothing's ever going to hurt you again, Maysilee."

She looks up at me with those enchanting blue eyes. She coughs, and blood trickles out the side of her mouth. She blinks, and gasps for breath. "Haymitch," she says, almost like a sigh. And then she's gone, with her eyes shut for good and my name lingering on her lips. And her blood lingers on mine from when I kissed her.

My poor, beautiful Maysilee is dead.

I wake up crying. Maysilee. My beautiful Maysilee. I loved her so much. And the only time I kissed her was when she was dying. The worst nightmares are about my time in the arena. And I'm not stupid. I know that Katniss and Peeta both have nightmares. But I sleep with a knife, and they sleep with each other. I know that when Katniss wakes up from a nightmare sobbing, Peeta holds her and comforts her and tells her that it's going to fine. That it was just a bad dream. Telling her not to wake their little children. That he's there, and they've got each other for comfort. They always will. They're happy and safe and comforted by the thoughts that they have each other to love. They have their children. They have so many that look up to them, so many that stare at them and whisper their names when they go out into the town to the market.

But I have no one. I have nothing but my knife and my liquor to comfort me. I have no one to dry my tears and comfort me. No one cares. No one cares no one cares no one cares... It repeats over and over. No one gives a damn about me. They just let me rot away in my house, with nothing but alcohol to console me and no one. I have no one. No one cares. I don't matter to anyone.

I start sobbing into my hands when I sit up, my whole body trembling. No one will come. No one cares. They'll let me cry until I can't cry any more. No one loves me. No one. And I've started to hate them for it. Even the stupid geese that I raised before the supply of liquor and other alcoholic drinks came by the train. I strangled every one of them and had Greasy Sae make them into stew for a pretty good price that got me more liquor. I cry so hard that I think I'll never be able to stop.

Then I hear the door creak open. "Haymitch?" a timid voice asks. "Haymitch?" It's Katniss and Peeta's little girl, who they named Prim. She's got Katniss's dark hair and olive skin, but matched strangely with Peeta's blue eyes. I groan. "Why are you crying, Haymitch?" She walks into my bedroom. I see her survey the wreck of shattered glass bottles on the floor. She carefully steps into the room. "Why are you crying? Are you okay, Haymitch?"

I stand up abruptly. Stupid little girl with too many questions. "God damn it!" I snarl, shoving her into the wall. She squeals in pain as she hits the wall, falling in the broken glass. I walk toward her, glaring down at the little girl. She's crying. I hate it when the little brats cry. "Shut up, you stupid little bitch!" I yell, slapping her across the face. I pick her up easily, and I slam her against the wall. It doesn't matter. I'm not the one hurting. "Don't ever come here again, understand?" I roar as I slam her against the wall over and over, harder every time. She's bawling, crying for her mommy. "And shut the fuck up!"

Unfortunately, just when I've stopped crying, Katniss comes into the room. "HAYMITCH ABERNATHY!" she yells. Damn, she's one loud bitch. "Get your hands off my daughter!" I shrug and somehow manage to throw the screaming, crying mess name Primrose Mellark into the wall. Katniss yelps like she's gotten an electric shock. "Why do you do this, Haymitch?" she yells. "What the hell is wrong with you?" She picks up little Prim and holds her like a small child. "Shh, Prim, sweetie," she says soothingly. Prim's sobbing into Katniss's shirt. Then she looks up at me as I stare. "Haymitch!" she yells at full force again. "I hate you, Haymitch! I - hate - you!"

And neither of them care as I slump to the floor and sob even harder than Prim.