Disclaimer: I do not own the Hunger Games or any of the characters from the book; I am only writing this story for fun.
Background: Rick & Hazelle Hawthorne and James & Audra Undersee fought and won the rebellion against Snow when Gale and Madge were only six and four years old, respectively. Gale grew up in District Two as General Rick Hawthorne's eldest son AND Madge grew up in District Twelve as Mayor James Undersee's eldest daughter. Both had a privileged upbringing.
Summary: AU – What if the rebellion was fought and won while Madge and Gale were just little kids and they grew up in New Panem, but in different Districts - not knowing each other? This is the story of how fate and destiny contrived a chance encounter between the two at a time they really needed each other.
Posy walked out of her bedroom and down the stairs, waking from the loud noises. She rubbed sleep out of her eyes, but they went wide as she took in the tense atmosphere in the room. There in the middle of the large den of their house were her father and mother in their robes while Gale stood across from them with his guitar strung across his shoulders.
"Fine then, if this is what you want. If I'm such a disappointment to you, I'll leave and you'll never have to look at me again," Gale said tensely.
Rick Hawthorne stood tall with his arms crossed. Posy knew this was bad. Where is Gale going? What does he mean, 'never have to look at me again?'
"Go back to sleep, honey," Hazelle said moving closer to the ten-year old.
Posy had always been a bright girl and she knew this was not the time to go back to sleep. She couldn't put her finger on it, but something was slipping through her life. Tears welled in her eyes. Her father's booming voice had woken her up from deep slumber. He was always gentle when he spoke to the kids. Even when Rory wrecked the car or Vick accidentally set the curtains on fire, their father had comforted the frightened boys. She'd never heard her dad yell at any of them.
Gale turned around to leave and Posy immediately launched herself at him. "Where are you going, Gale, it's the middle of the night?" she asked with tears in her eyes.
He turned around and bent down to eye-level with his little sister and said, "I'm leaving home, Pose. Don't forget you'll always be my favorite girl and I love you."
"Where will you go?" she asked. When Gale said nothing and kissed her forehead, she caught his hand and said, "You can't leave."
He kissed her hand and said, "I'll always be here for you, Pose."
"When will I see you next?" she asked panicked. Her brother was leaving and the ten-year old didn't understand how or why this was happening. They were a happy family. He'd only returned from training a few months ago. Their dad always boasted proudly of Gale's achievements; he wasn't a disappointment.
"I don't know, Pose, but I promise I'll see you soon. I'll figure out a way. You have to trust me and let me go." He gave her one more kiss and turned around quickly.
"Gale!" Hazelle's voice rang out through the room. With tears in her eyes she hugged him and said, "You don't have to go. We'll work through this. It's your life and you can decide what you want to do with it. I understand."
"Hazelle, let him go. A few days out there all alone and without the comforts will show him how easy his life's been," Rick said stubbornly. He turned to his son and said, "You take this freedom for granted. When I was your age I had already been working in the mines for six years and I had a wife and a three-year old son. I was fighting in the rebellion so you and other kids didn't have to stand in the town square year after year with nauseated stomachs to see if you would get thrown into the Hunger Games. I did everything I did so you never had the hopeless feeling that no matter what you did to beat the odds, you wouldn't be able to. So you didn't have to live in poverty. So you had a choice of what to become and not just go down into the mines…,"
Gale cut him off and said bitterly, "I know your life was tough; you've told us enough times. I don't have to thank you; the nation thanks you by practically worshiping you. You say you fought for freedom so I could have choices and now you're taking my choices away from me. How are you any different from Snow?"
"Gale! Don't talk about your father…" Hazelle scolded.
"Get out of my house now!" Rick's commanding voice boomed over Hazelle's reprimand.
"Gladly," Gale said just as stubbornly as he turned around and tore himself loose from his mother's and sister's grasps.
The bubbly blonde woke up to the stopping jerk of the train. She rubbed her eyes as the cute red-headed little girl in the seat across from her said, "Bye, Madge. Have fun surprising your parents."
Madge smiled at the girl and looked up at the girl's parents as she asked, "You're getting off here?"
The little girl's mother smiled and said, "Yes, this is District Two, our destination. Thanks for keeping Effie entertained." The nice family walked off the train.
Panic rose momentarily inside the blonde and she quickly squashed it. She embarked on this trip to surprise her parents. There wasn't anything Madge liked more than pulling off a big surprise. Her dad, the Mayor of District Twelve, would never approve of her travelling on the train without his knowledge. He always booked a ticket for a first-class-private-cabin that could be locked from inside for Madge and here she was travelling in coach without her parents' knowledge. It had seemed like a good idea when she had decided at the last-minute to surprise her parents. All she really wanted was to attend the annual party that kicked off summer in District Twelve. Then a nice family with a cute little girl had sat across from her and the adventure was off to a great start. She'd embarked the train in the evening when it was still light out. Now the train stopped in District Two in the middle of the night and the nice family was leaving. Panic rose again at the possibilities of who may claim the seat across from her. Madge had felt safe with the family sitting across from her, but now the blonde eyed the others on the train. There were a lot of men on the train in this compartment. She was Madge Undersee; she wouldn't let herself get scared of travelling alone on the train even if she was going across the country.
Lost in thought she eyed the young man who got on the train. She immediately noticed the dazed - I'm-not-completely-aware-of-my-surroundings - look in his eyes. What if he's drunk? Madge closed her eyes and wished, please don't sit next to me…please don't sit next to me. Of course luck was not on her side as the dazed man took the seat directly across from her, facing her – exactly where the cute, little red-haired girl sat before.
The train wasn't full so she had an entire bench seat to herself; she scooted closer to the window. There was a bench directly across from her where the stranger with the guitar sat at the edge of the aisle. The adventurous blonde, determined to not be afraid of him, ignored him hoping he would get off at the next stop – The Capitol.
Once the train was on its way, the conductor stopped by and asked the stranger for his ticket. The young man didn't even flinch when the conductor poked his arm. Curiosity and her kind heart won over her determination to ignore the stranger and Madge scooted to the isle edge of her bench seat. She waved her hand directly in front of his eyes and said, "Hello, anyone in there?" There was no response from him. She eyed him up and down. Dressed in designer blue jeans with a dark designer shirt he didn't look broke. Music was her life so she knew immediately that the guitar he carried was one of a kind. He didn't look like a drunk; he looked like he was in shock. She was no stranger to the glazed look in his eyes. Her mother often got the same glazed look until she eventually snapped out of it.
The conductor looked at her impatiently and asked, "Is this a friend of yours?" Madge nodded and handed over cash to the conductor. He asked, "Where would you like the ticket to?"
District Twelve was the last stop on the train so she bought a ticket to District Twelve hoping he would snap out of it and remember to get off wherever he was going. She noticed that he travelled with nothing but his guitar.
The conductor printed the ticket and handed it to Madge. She slid it in the stranger's shirt's top pocket and moved back to the window. Though she tried to ignore him, but for some reason her eyes kept going back to the young man. He was obviously distressed about something. She scooted to the other end of the bench again; she knew what she had to do. If he was in shock, like her mother, then she just needed to talk to him. Hopefully something she said would snap him back. So she began, "Hi. I'm Madge. I go to college in District One and I'm going home to visit my family. I'm getting a degree in Music Theory. The piano is my favorite instrument, but I like to play the violin too. I've tried my hand at guitar a few times. Your guitar is really nice. I've never seen one quite like it. Do you mind if I see it?"
She reached out her hand to touch the guitar and he finally flinched. It startled her so much that she jumped back in her seat. The young man ran a hand over his face and took stock of his surroundings. He narrowed his eyes at her and she smiled back at him. She stuck her hand out and said, "Madge!"
He ignored her out-stretched hand and asked, "Where are we?"
"Somewhere between District Two and the Capitol. I think we're almost at the Capitol," she offered.
The man across from her rubbed his temples and dropped his head in between his hands with elbows resting on his thighs. She was about to comfort him when he shook his head and whispered, "Shit! Shit, shit, shit."
Madge pulled her hand back and asked, "Are you okay?"
He looked up at her suddenly and asked, "Do I look like I'm okay?" Stunned by his brash tone, she shook her head and he let out an exasperated breath.
Just then the train came to a screeching stop and she asked, "Can I get you anyth…"
Once again he looked directly in her eyes and harshly said, "Mind your own business." He stood up and walked off the train.
Anger spewed from every pore in her body as she whispered, "Why, you un-thankful, jerk!" Impulsively, she followed him off the train and caught up to him. He was much taller than her, but the petite blonde used all her strength and hit him on the shoulder as she said, "You're a jerk. I helped you on the train and even paid for your ticket. The least you could do is thank me."
He looked at her annoyed and said, "Thank you. Happy?"
God he was a jerk. Madge crossed her arms and said, "No, I'm not happy. No wonder people don't help others with people like you in this world."
Suddenly, the features in his face changed and he raised an eyebrow high into his forehead as he asked, "Did you get off the train just to tell me I'm a jerk?" She nodded and he smiled wider as he asked, "The train that's now leaving the platform?"
"What?" she turned around to see the train pulling away. Blood drained from her face as she realized all her things were on the train. She was now all alone with no money, standing on the platform in the Capitol – in the middle of the night. Madge turned around to let a few curses fly off at the man with the guitar, but when she turned he was nowhere in sight. She was all alone. Angrily, she walked out of the station determined to find him.
"Heeellllloooooo Sexy," a man dressed in a hot pink jacket with purple pants cooed as she exited the train station.
Madge turned to look at him and gave him her meanest glare. What is wrong with these people? Eighteen years since the rebellion and people from Capitol still clung to their disgusting fashion sense. She briefly took in the man's pink and purple clothing with matching hair and shoes. He is wearing lipstick, gross!
She continued walking away from the disgusting man. Suddenly she felt someone tap her shoulder from behind and she whipped around quickly. "What do you say, doll face, want to go back to my place?" the same disgusting man asked her.
Exasperated, she said, "NO! I don't!"
"I promise it'll be a night you remember," he said blocking her way while eyeing her unabashed. She felt the urge to block her chest as his eyes undressed her, but she refused to show fear on her face.
Just as she was about to poke him in between the eyes, a deep voice rumbled from behind her, "Leave her alone! She's not interested."
Madge turned around and took a breath relieved as she saw the stranger with the guitar approach them. The disgusting man from the Capitol shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Madge raised an eye questioningly at him. He shrugged and said, "I'm not a jerk, by the way. My mom raised me better than to leave a girl all alone helpless in the middle of the night…especially one who helped me."
"I am not helpless!" she said infuriated.
He laughed at that and if she wasn't annoyed with him, she may have noticed how handsome he looked. He stuck his hand out and said, "I'm Gale."
Madge rolled her eyes and said, "Gale from District Two; how original? Aren't half the boys in your District named Gale after General Hawthorne's eldest son?"
Since playing a key role in bringing down Snow's administration during the rebellion, Rick Hawthorne had acquired a celebrity-like popularity. If it wasn't for his dad's devotion to his mom, women would have thrown themselves at him. His dad had done all he could to shield all four of them from the media, but Gale couldn't remember ever going anywhere in District Two and not being recognized. He hated growing up known only as General Hawthorne's son. Whatever guilt he was starting to feel at leaving home disappeared with her question. For the first time he could live as just Gale.
Gale smiled and said, "Yeah, my mom is in love with General Hawthorne and his whole family so she named me after his son." He rolled his eyes for extra emphasis. He never had anyone in his classes named Gale, but Rory had ten Gales in his class. Vick had a few Gales and a few Rorys in his class.
"Okay, Gale. What are we going to do about getting home? I'm going all the way to District Twelve."
"What? You were going all the way across the country in coach…dressed like that?" he asked.
Madge looked down and said, "I'm wearing jeans and a shirt, just like you. What do you mean by 'dressed like that'?"
He shrugged and said, "I wasn't sure if you were actually wearing jeans or if it was just painted on your skin?"
"Hey, I've been told I look nice in these jeans. They bring out my best features," she explained.
His eyes travelled to her ass and he said, "I'm not disagreeing with you or those people."
"You're such a pig," she said rolling her eyes again.
"I am a gentleman. I only looked; I did not touch," Gale explained.
"And don't even think about it. I'm trained in the ancient Martial Arts fighting techniques," she said with a straight face.
Gale laughed as he shook his head and choked out, "You really think you could take me?"
Suddenly, she reached out and squeezed his bicep. A strange electric current travelled through his arm where she touched him all the way down to the tip of his toes. He flinched away from her and asked, "What are you doing?"
"Feeling your muscles; you have really nice arms. You could've taken that guy back there, you know; too bad it didn't come down to a fight," she said innocently.
"Are you serious? I'm glad that guy just left and it didn't come to a fight," Gale said shocked. What is wrong with her?
Madge rolled her eyes again and said, "Like I said, you could've taken him. Fights are exciting. I've never had a boy fight for me before." She finished with a spark in her eyes. She looked at him and said, "By the way, I have a boyfriend, whom I love, so don't fall in love with me during the trip."
Gale laughed at the absurd thought of falling in love with her and said, "Don't worry; if I could fall in love, I would have with my last girlfriend."
Madge reached up and touched his shoulder as she said, "That's sad. Maybe one day you'll meet the girl you can fall in love with. Everyone should fall in love; it's the most wonderful feeling in the world."
Gale shook his head at her. She wasn't like anyone he'd ever met. She went from angry to concerned in a moment. He was stuck with her. On one hand he had nowhere to go so getting her home would give him a purpose until he figured out what he was going to do with his life. He looked at her again and knew this wouldn't be an easy journey. She was naïve, way too chirpy, opinionated and they had a long way to go. He sighed and pulled out all the money from his pocket. Madge did the same; she only had some change in her pockets. They put all their money together and knew right away that they did not have enough to make it to District Twelve.
Neither of them was willing to use their card to get money out of the bank for fear of being tracked by their families. Hotels in the Capitol were the most expensive and it was almost morning so it was not worthwhile to try to get a room. Gale and Madge walked back to the train station since both still had their train tickets. Madge chatted about her life in college the entire way back. Gale did his best to tune her out. Does she realize this is not an adventure?
They argued with the train station ticket attendant about switching their existing tickets to tickets on a later train. The attendant didn't budge on his denial. Ironically, each knew that a child of revolutionary leaders, Undersee and Hawthorne, would get a ticket exchange easily, but neither was quite ready to divulge their last name. They walked to the bus stop instead and bought two tickets on the bus that would take them as far as District Four, saving some money for food along the way. In Four, they would have to figure out something else.
A/N: A friend gave me this idea based on a movie. At first I wasn't sure, but a couple of weeks ago I was driving and I just couldn't get it out of my head so I decided to write it. I don't envision this going more than five chapters max. It'll move quickly and I'll try to put in short cameo's of some of my favorite characters.