Hello everyone! Yes, I mean you, and you, and especially you. This is the sequel to Splatterlog, though, if you want to skip the torture scenes, you'll probably be fine reading this. The only prerequisite is of course, Susan Collin's Catching Fire and Mockingjay, as this fanfic takes place directly after the war in the Capitol and before the epilogue.
Scarred: Chapter 1: Train Ride
Gale lugged his bag across the train platform, grimacing at the sweltering sun. When he had gone inside to pick up his ticket to District Two, the weather outside had been windy and cold. Honestly, Gale didn't think he'd have to leave his jacket off when he went back out. He could already feel the sweat forming around the base of his neck, and underneath his belt. More than anything, he wanted to set his bag down and remove the stupid thing, but he was running late.
So late, in fact, that Gale wasn't really paying attention to where he was going, or who was coming from the other direction. He smacked into her like a bird against a window pane, and both of them sprawled backwards. It was only when he met her wide-set brown eyes that Gale realized his mistake.
Johanna Mason hastily pushed herself back up, ignoring Gale's outstretched hand. "Watch it, asshole!" She snarled as she circled around him.
Gale glanced over his shoulder, still in a bit of a daze, watching her as she stuck her hands in her pants pockets as she marched off. Shaking away the feeling, Gale pulled himself up and grabbed his bag again. Moments later he was handing off his luggage to the porter.
"Could I see your ticket, and identification, sir?" The porter did a double take when he glanced up into Gale's eyes.
Great. All Gale wanted these days was to go to some place where no one recognized him. No such luck yet. "Sure thing." Gale reached into his pants pocket for his new badge and train ticket, and did a double take of his own. His pocket was empty. "Could've sworn it was here…." He muttered, reaching into his other pocket. No luck there either.
"Perhaps it's in your jacket, Mr…?"
The porter went white as a sheet. "Oh-oh." He seemed to forget himself a moment, nearly reaching for Gale's bag before remembering himself. "T-ticket please?"
Gale heaved his jacket upside down, trying to empty the contents. All that fluttered out was his letter from Paylor herself. "Will this work?"
The porter took it, reading it under his breath. "Congratulations Gale Hawthorne, on your appointment as Capitol Liaison to District Two…" His voice dropped as he scanned the rest of the letter for something in particular. He glanced up at Gale nervously as he handed back the letter. "A-Are you sure you don't have any identification?"
"Attention: Train One-Six Departing to District Two will be leaving in ten minutes. Passengers, please report to Platform Two-Five."
Sighing impatiently, Gale gazed steadily at the porter. "Look, ask anyone around here who I am, and they'll tell you I'm the guy in this letter." When the porter hesitated, Gale turned his head and opened his mouth as if to call out to a complete stranger.
"Alright! Alright! I believe you, Mr. Hawthorne." The porter tugged the bag out of Gale's hand.
Gale took a deep breath as his headed to the train door, holding his letter at the ready. Hopefully the conductor would have more common sense than the porter. He didn't.
"Yes, I see the President's signature, and seal, but I'm afraid I still can't let you on this train."
"Why not?" Gale heard his own voice rising as he braced a hand on the train itself.
"Because another passenger already handed in your ticket, sir."
Gale's jaw dropped. "And you took it? His name isn't on the ticket."
"Of course not, Mr. Hawthorne, but she said you gave her your ticket and identification because you were going to miss your train. Something about a meeting or—"
"What was the car and room number on the ticket?" Gale grabbed the inside of the door, shifting his weight.
The conductor blinked, narrowing his eyes as he checked his scanner. "Car two, room one—oof! Hey! You can't go in there!" He yelled as Gale Hawthorne pushed past him.
His mind spun as he hurried towards the front of the train. Who could it be? Gale could think of several women in his life recently, and he didn't want to see any of them. The numbers on the doors blurred as Gale rushed past them.
When he room One, Gale paused to take a steadying breath as he pushed the button on the door opener. Relax, Gale. She's probably just some petty thie-"
The door slid open, revealing not a stranger, but someone Gale was fairly acquainted with—Johanna Mason. He didn't find this as shocking as the fact that she was naked.
Johanna smirked up at him, with a challenging glint in her warm eyes. "Hello Gorgeous."
The moment Haymitch even mentioned Katniss's name, Gale was charging toward the hospital in. Haymitch would only have mentioned her for one of two reasons: either Katniss had died, or she had made it out of surgery. Gale hoped it was the second one. It wasn't a lethal injury. She's fine. She will be fine, Hawthorne told himself over and over.
Finding it easier to focus on getting to the hospital wing as fast as possible, Gale treated each guard, soldier, and orderly like an obstacle. He pushed past one, ducked under a pane of fresh sheet metal and dodged several gurneys before he arrived at the wing.
Back then, Gale wasn't so easily recognized, especially in Thirteen. His face got him nowhere with the recovery nurse. Katniss's mother wasn't available to step in, no matter how Gale pleaded, the nurse didn't grant his request to fetch Mrs. Everdeen. It wasn't until Gale folded his arms in frustration, that the nurse saw his communicuff.
Though he hated using the lie¸ the nurses wouldn't let Gale into the hospital unless he was a family member. "I'm her cousin." He told them impatiently.
The nurse's eyes's widened. "Right this way, sir." She stood up in a hurry. "Thank you for your patience and understanding." It was as if she had never told him no. Gale may have heard one of them telling him to keep it down, as most of the patients were sleeping, but he just ignored it. Obviously the nurses had never seen him hunt, or heard exactly how quiet he could be when he wanted.
So quiet in fact, that none of the patients heard him coming. Gale followed the directions the nurse had given him to Katniss's bed. It wasn't that hard to find. It was at the end closest to the emergency room, just in case the doctors suddenly needed to save her life. Thirteen wouldn't dare let its Mockingjay die on its watch.
Gale pulled back the curtain. "Hey Catnip—" He blinked. "What the hell are you doing in here?"
"What's it look like I'm doing, Handsome?" Johanna Mason made a point of giving him a very slow once over as he stepped up to the bed. With her, it was hard to tell if was because she found him attractive, or if she was sizing up her prey. Probably both. She sat on the edge of Katniss's bed, bracing herself against the mattress with her hands as she leaned forward. She looked like she was about to pounce. Gale noticed then that the IV that was supposed to be hooked to Katniss's arm was hooked into Johanna's instead.
He narrowed his eyes. "Put it back."
Johanna smirked. "Or what?"
Gale grabbed her arm, squeezing it firmly until it turned red. "Put it back."
"Ow-ow! Geeze. Fine." Johanna twisted her arm out of his grip and removed the needle from her own elbow.
"Now leave." When Johanna didn't move, Gale leaned down over her. It wasn't hard, with her being head shorter.
"Sure thing." Johanna leaned up and pecked him on the cheek before sliding off the gurney and over to her own.
Gale stared at the curtain whipped between them. What the hell was that?
Damn. "What are you doing in my car?" Gale made a point of glaring into her eyes. It made it easier to not look…anywhere else.
Johanna shrugged. "Waiting for my clothes to dry." She nodded at the adjoining restroom. To her credit, her Thirteen-issued uniform really was damp and hanging beside the shower curtain.
"In my bathroom." Gale quirked an eyebrow.
"Come on, Hawthorne. It's not like the train has its own laundromat."
"It doesn't." Gale agreed. "But I'm sure you could easily get your own car to Seven." He leaned against the doorway. "Why aren't you going there?"
Johanna smirked. "Why aren't you going to Twelve, Gorgeous?"
Gale didn't answer, narrowing his eyes. "Where's my ticket? I want it back."
"Oh, this?" Johanna reached behind the cushion, pulling the ticket with a flourish.
Silently, Gale lunged for the ticket, as if he were hunting a rabbit that had missed one of his snares. It usually worked for him, but every once in a while his foot would get caught in one of his own traps. Like today, when Gale's foot managed to fit between the groves on the window seat, sending him sprawling against the seat itself. Swearing, he wrestled Johanna for the ticket, but it always seemed just out of reach. What the hell? Her arms were shorter than his!
Finally, Gale managed to pin her long enough to grab the ticket from her hands. He had just enough time to make eye contact with her, when the doorknob across the room turned. "Conductor. Please have your tickets ready!"
Gale tried to pull away, but Johanna put her hand on the back of his neck, pulling him closer as she hooked her ankles around his. The door opened.
"Oh, my." The conductor stared at what probably looked like an indiscreet moment.
"It's not what it looks like!" Gale reached behind his head, grabbing Johanna's hand, but it was too late.
"I'llcomebacklater." The conductor mumbled, slamming the door behind him.
"Are you crazy?" Gale shouted as he jerked away from her, the ticket still in his hand.
"What? It worked, didn't it?" Johanna sat up, grinning.
"He'll be back." Gale took off his jacket, tossing it at her angrily.
Sliding the coat on, without taking her gaze off him, Johanna replied, "No, he won't." She snickered. "That guy won't show his face in here for weeks."
Gale made a point of looking at the shape of her ankles as the merry murdererss made her way to the bathroom to pick up her clothes. "You hungry, Hawthorne?"
He wasn't, but if it would mean an hour of not being trapped in a room with Johanna Mason, it was worth it. At least, he thought it was until she left him with the bill.
Well, that was a really comedic opening. For all my Splatterlog fans, no worries. There will be plenty of angst in later chapters. And also, please accept my huge apology for such a delay in posting this. I spent several months just researching Johanna, and especially Gale, as his voice was hard one to adapt to (as he isn't much for words.) Let me know what you think!