"Well, first day of training was pretty good," Dane muttered through a mouthful of potatoes. I had somehow made it through the first day of training without fainting; and instead looked intimidating. Now Dane, Tuffi, Ryke, and I were seated at the dinner table enjoying a huge, colorful dinner. Well, at least they were enjoying it. Fork clutched in hand, I could only stare at my untouched plate of potatoes and meat. The scene of Dane's question just kept replaying over and over in my head!

"We... are in an alliance, right?"

It just wouldn't go away! I remembered how my heart began to race, how I almost denied his offer to be in an alliance together. But the entire reason why I volunteered was to try my hardest to make sure Dane went home to his family, which needed him badly. So, I disobeyed my father's instructions to stay alone and now Dane and I were in an alliance. "I just disobeyed my father!" I thought to myself, making my stomach churn. I felt sick to my stomach ever since the conversation about the alliance; there was no way I would be able to eat dinner and keep it down.

"Alessia, you're quiet. How was your first day of training?" Ryke announced, making my head jerk up to look at him. To my surprise, Dane and Tuffi were staring at me as well, awaiting my answer.

"It was... oodles of fun," I stammered, immediately looking back down at my plate. We hadn't done much for the first day, everyone was more concerned with who to ally with than to actually practice their skills. My guess is that tomorrow will be full of tension, everyone will probably be trying to out-do one another to show off and make it into the big alliance of the careers. Just a guess, though.

"We're allies," Dane proclaimed proudly, nearly making me choke on my own air.

"Ah, I figured you'd do that. You two friends?" Ryke asked, propping his elbows on the table with a thoughtful look on his face. I slowly nodded.

"Yep," I say shortly, still feeling sick to my stomach.

"Yeah, we've been friends since... forever," Dane commented, elbowing me in the side.

"Oh, Alessia! You haven't touched your food! Is there something wrong with it?" Tuffi squeaked, looking surprised. I couldn't believe I could even see a reaction through all the make-up caked on her round face.

"Uhhh..." I mumble, realizing that everyone's attention just turned to my plate of food.

"No... Here, Dane," I sigh as I dump my dinner onto his nearly-empty plate. Dane's eyes instantly lit up as he dug his fork in and began eating. Everything got silent after that, the only sound heard was Dane stuffing his face. Even though the silence was awkward, I couldn't look up. I felt sick to my stomach still, I couldn't believe I disobeyed my father's orders! "Oh come on, Dane has to go home and it's my responsibility to make sure he does. Stop freaking out!" My thoughts scolded. For some reason, I could feel someone coldly staring at me. I slowly lifted my eyes, meeting the stare of Ryke. His deep green eyes narrowed, as if thinking.

"I'll... be right back," Ryke remarked as he quickly stood up. Tuffi hiccuped, dantily patting the corners of her mouth with a large blue napkin.

"Hurry back," She replied, smiling lightly. For some reason, I held eye contact with Ryke; who slowly stood then nodded toward me, motioning for me to follow.

"Me too," I mumbled as I stood and followed Ryke. We slowly walked toward the hallway in a deep silence. Ryke inhaled deeply, stuffing his hands in his pockets as he led me down the hallway. He waited until we were out of ear-shot, then spoke.

"So tell me," He announced with his rather loud voice. I raised my eyebrow at him.

"Tell you what?" I question, listening to the steady drum of our footsteps hitting the unbelievably clean marble floor.

"Tell me what's wrong," Ryke said, seriousness in his voice. I swallowed hard as my heart picked up pace. For some odd reason I felt nervous around my mentor, and I couldn't find any words to speak! So I remained silent. Ryke patiently awaited my answer, but broke the silence when he realized I wasn't about to speak.

"Alright then, let me guess... You're scared?" He said as he looked up at the ceiling. "I have to make him think I'm intimidating!" I thought as I glanced at him.

"I'm not scared," I snapped, harshness in my tone. Ryke raised his eyebrows, as if trying to act surprised when he really wasn't.

"Uh-huh..." His voice trailed off, as if in deep thought. I studied the look on his face, it was as if he knew my little game; as if he could see I was faking my bravery. I clenched my jaw and in a desperate attempt to fool him, I reached my arm out in front of him and forced him to stop walking. Now that surprised him, he quickly turned to face me.

"I'm not scared, kapeesh?" I hiss through my teeth. I tried my hardest to glare at him, although my heart was pounding with fear. I even shocked myself at how mean I was being, this wasn't like me! But I couldn't let him know that it was all a show, I couldn't let anyone know.

"Yeah, right! I can see it on your face, I can hear it in your voice!" Ryke began to slightly raise his voice, which surprised me. I opened my mouth to snap something back, but yet again my voice seemed to cower away from me. All that came out was a squeak. A squeak. Ryke paused, then continued talking.

"You're terrified and I know it. You're hiding it, but it's so obvious! If you're going to act all tough, you really need more practice," He chuckled, crossing his arms. I gasped, trying to look offended.

"Oh yeah? I... I..." My voice trailed off as I wrinkled my eyebrows to look threatening. I clenched my hands into fists as I leaned in close to his face, hoping he'd get intimidated. Instead, Ryke just stared back at me with an amused grin on his face; patiently waiting for me to finish my sentence.

"I... You... Uh... You're stupid!" I stammered, feeling like a total idiot. "Oh wow... 'You're stupid!'?! Really?!" I thought to myself. Ryke held back a chuckle, but shrugged.

"Maybe. But not as stupid as you. What is this? The big 'lean into his bubble-space' scare tactic? Ooooh I'm scared!" He grinned. "Those tributes will have you for lunch,"

I inhaled sharply, wondering what to do now. He knew I really wasn't a threat to the other tributes, he knew I was really scared. I narrowed my eyes, frowning.

"Really? Well I... Okay fine," I sighed as I relaxed and backed away from him, hanging my head in shame. "Scaring them was my only chance... Guess I'm dead meat, huh?" Ryke quickly shook his head.

"I wouldn't say that," He quickly replied, lifting my heart a little. I slowly raised my eyebrow, confused.

"What do you mean?" I asked slowly. Ryke smiled, and not in an insulting way, but in an understanding way.

"Everyone has at least one talent, what is it that you do in your district?" He asked, a thoughtful look in his eyes. I shrugged.

"Nothing impressive, I'm a harvester," I replied, crossing my arms as well. He nodded.

"What do you use to harvest?" He asked slowly.

"A machete," I answer with a frown. But to my surprise, Ryke smiled broadly.

"Really? A machete, now THAT can do some damage! Are you good with it?" He asked, enthusiasm in his voice. I shrugged, a little shocked.

"Uhmm... I guess?" I coughed, feeling slightly awkward now.

"Yes or no?" He pried with an excited gleam in his eye.

"Uh, yes... Yes, I suppose I'm okay with a machete,"

"EXCELLENT!" Ryke shouted, nearly exploding with excitement. I jumped slightly, not expecting him to be so overjoyed.

"Even with your horrible attempt to look intimidating, you could scare the life out of those tributes if they see you with that machete!" Ryke smiled, slapping my shoulder playfully. I paused, not knowing how to react.

"Um... Cool..." I muttered, feeling awkward.

"First thing tomorrow morning, before you go to training, I want you to show me how you use your machete, okay?" He grinned. I slowly nodded. Ryke laughed, smiling at me.

"Hey, get excited! You have a shot at winning this thing!" He chuckled as he walked back down the hallway, towards the dinner table.

"WOO!" He shouted as he disappeared behind a corner. I raised my eyebrow as I watched him go. I breathed in deeply, frowning once he was out of sight. "But I didn't come here to win, I came here to make sure Dane wins." I thought to myself as I bit my lower lip.

I was now standing in the dining room, staring out the huge window. It was pretty late at night, Tuffi and Ryke had already gone to sleep. I haven't seen Dane since dinner, so I had no idea where he had gone. My eyes scanned the large city, it was very pretty. The night sky made it easy to see all the flickering lights, and all the oddly-shaped buildings looked like silhouettes covered by darkness. I studied the view, trying to crush the feeling of fear inside of me. I knew I wasn't going to win, and I had to make myself be okay with that. Dane has to win, and there can't be two victors. "I'll just enjoy myself and chill for a while, I don't have to think about the Hunger Games until tomorrow," I thought to myself, trying to relax.

"I don't have to be tough-girl until tomorrow morning, for now I can just be myself," I said aloud as my eyes searched the city, knowing no one would hear me.

"Well, aside from all the death that's about to happen, it's a pretty nice place. Very strange though," I said out loud, nodding in agreement to myself.

"Why are you out here talking to yourself?" Dane's deep voice made me jump.

"OHMIGOSH WHOA!" I practically screamed as I spun around in fright. Dane jumped, backing up a few steps.

"Ah! It's just me! It's just me!" He remarked, raising his eyebrows. I sighed in relief, shaking my head.

"Would you please not sneak up on me?!" I demanded, huffing. Dane slowly smirked, amused. I paused, beginning to smile at myself.

"Wow. I think the whole building just heard you scream. They probably think you're nuts now," Dane laughed as he ran a hand through his hair.

"Well... You made me!" I chuckle, shaking my head.

"If anything, I should be the one scared. I have a crazy district partner who talks to herself," Dane smirked as he walked over and sat on one of the odd- shaped chairs. Dane looked tired and his hair was in an unbelievable mess, making me wonder why he was awake.

"Why are you awake?" I asked slowly, crossing my arms. Dane yawned deeply, then shook his head.

"No, no, no, no. You answer my question first. Why are you talking to yourself?" He asked, looking up at me. I shrugged.

"No one else to talk to," I mumble.

"Uhhh, I'm your best friend, why can't you talk to me?" He asked, looking slightly offended. I shrugged once again.

"I don't know, everything's just.. weird... I'm all discombobulated!" I stammered, throwing my hands in the air. Dane nodded with a slight chuckle.

"Well, once this is all over, everything will be normal again," He smiled encouragingly. But I didn't smile, I frowned.

"But 'once this is all over', one of us will be dead," I answered quietly. Dane's smile instantly disappeared. We just stared at each other for a few moments in silence, letting it all sink in. Once the Games were over, one-or both-of us would be dead. It wouldn't be the same, ever. Dane suddenly cleared his throat, shaking his head as he stood.

"We can't think like that," He muttered.

"But it's true-"

"We can't think like that!" Dane snapped, interrupting me. I sighed, shrugging. It was no use arguing with Dane.

"Alright," I mutter. Dane slowly forced a smile.

"Alright then, what did you ask me before?" He yawned, rubbing his eyes. I cleared my throat.

"Why are you still awake?" I ask, yawning myself. Dane shrugged.

"You really want to know?" He asked, raising his eyebrows as he began to smirk. I nodded curiously.

"Okay... But you asked for it. I really had to pee and while I was walking to the bathroom, I heard my crazy friend talking to herself!" Dane laughed. My jaw dropped in disgust!

"BLAH! Why did you tell me that?!" I huff, doing a face-palm. Dane burst into laughter at my obvious disgust.

"Hey! You asked!" He said through his laughter. Suddenly, he paused.

"Which reminds me, I have to pee!" He gasped as he spun on his heel and raced down the hallway.

"Ew, gross!" I coughed.

"I HAVE TO PEE!" He screamed again as he zoomed into the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind him. I wrinkled my nose, shaking my head as I walked back to my room.

"That... That's going to give me nightmares," I muttered as I closed my door and flopped onto my bed, falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Hey folks! Thanks for reading my chapter! I'm so sorry I've taken so long to update, I've been crazily busy these past few weeks. But now that it's closer to fall, I think I'll be able to update more frequently. Thanks again! Please review, favorite, or just read it... Haha! I don't own the Hunger Games.