Right - the sequel is here!
If you are new to this story I suggest you read the prequel Ever In Your Favour first, else not much of this will make sense. If you did read it thanks for coming back!
I just want to assure you all that Blaine will appear in this story at some point in various capacities, so don't worry - your Blam needs will be satisfied! I can't say it will be an easy ride though...
So read on and enjoy - of course feedback is always appreciated :D
Chapter 1 - The Greyness of Despair
The wall was grey. A bland, monotone grey that seeped into my eyes and turned everything the same, miserable colour. I knew I should have moved by now, made some attempt to show I was still alive, but I didn't want to. I was dead inside.
After the ladder had risen up into the hovercraft I'd begun to self-destruct. Four people had grabbed onto me, trying to stay my flailing limbs, stop the screams that shrieked from my mouth. They'd wrestled me and pinned me down onto a table – shoving needles into my arms so gradually my shouts became weaker and weaker until they disappeared completely.
When I'd next woken up I'd been in a hospital bed. The same needles were shoved inside me but these were now attached to wires and machines that beeped – showed me that I was still breathing. People came periodically to force food down my throat and then I'd drifted in and out of consciousness. When somebody finally came to speak to me they told me that three days had passed, that I was better and should prepare for my winning ceremony. I wasn't better – I was here.
Staring at the wall. Wanting to die.
A sound jerked me back to reality. It was nothing, just a leaf knocking against the window from the wind, but it averted my eyes from the wall. I was wearing khaki pants again. Somebody must have dressed me – these weren't my clothes from the arena. But they were the same. Glancing down at my skin I realised in disbelief that it was pristine – all the dirt and scars removed. Pulling up my trouser leg I saw the deep scar from Rachel completely erased, and my hand drifted across my cheek to feel no deep welt. I had been fixed. If somebody were to look at me now – they wouldn't even think I had been in the Games. But I had. Inside was a little harder to heal.
Everyone was dead. Tina, Joe, Rory, Marley, even Puck, Quinn and Rachel. And Blaine. Twenty four people had entered the arena and only one had come out. Me. They had all killed each other – I had killed some of them. But nobody had killed me.
Suddenly a door opened. Immediately I reacted. Instinct made me jump onto the bed, up high out of reach. There were no weapons about so I simply clenched my fists together and bared my teeth, ready to fight whoever had come in to attack me. The small red headed woman dropped the glass of water she had been carrying. For a second the smashing of glass brought back too many memories – suddenly transporting me to the small room on our home floor with huge glass windows, Tina cowering into my side as Haymitch shouted. I scrunched my eyes shut, almost feeling physical pain, but then suddenly I opened them, aware of what was actually happening. Nobody had come to attack me. The woman was just offering water. But I had treated her as a target.
"I'm, I'm sorry." I said quickly. My voice felt like it hadn't been used in a couple of weeks – it was hoarse and didn't add to my already aggressive introduction. My feet jumped off the bed and I moved forward to help the woman clear up the glass but she jumped backwards, eyes wide with fear.
"I'm sorry." The words didn't make much difference no matter how much I said them, but I repeated myself, hoping it would somehow get through. My fingers scrabbled to pick up bits of glass but I was halted by a hand darting out to tentatively grab my arm.
"Don't do that." The woman said, stuttering almost as much as I had. "You'll cut yourself." I stared down at my hands, which already looked to have tiny little slices on them, and wondered if I even cared. What was a little blood when I had seen gallons of it already. Thick, warm blood, gurgling in throats and spurting out of arms, of chests… I began to feel sick again so sat back against the bed and the woman ran off to get some cleaning utensils, or help.
What had happened? I couldn't even speak to people anymore. They were scared of me. The attacking stance had been a mistake – but what had they expected? That after weeks of fearing for my own life, of having to watch every step, every movement that I made, that I would suddenly be ok? Just because I was out of the arena physically didn't mean I was free of it mentally.
A couple of minutes later the woman returned, this time with a bulky looking guard. I smiled, realising that this was supposed to be a deterrent. To be honest, he was barely bigger than Puck, who I probably could have taken out anyway. I watched them clean up the glass, using a little dustpan and brush, and then the two of them looked at me.
"How are you feeling Mr Evans?" The man asked. Mr Evans? I didn't think I had ever been called that in my life.
"Um…" I replied, not knowing how to answer. How did I feel? "I felt a bit sick…earlier." I continued, hoping this was the right answer. The guard turned to look at the woman and she pondered for a second.
"That's probably just the morphling. Would you like some more water?" Immediately I shook my head.
"No, no. I'm fine, thanks." Seeming a little grateful the woman nodded towards the guard, showing that she was ok, and then turned back to me.
"Your team are ready to see you now."
I was lead down a long white corridor. There were windows either side, but when I looked out of them I saw nothing I recognised. I guessed I was still in the Capitol – probably a hospital of some kind – but whereabouts I had no idea. More guards had appeared to escort me, and whilst I couldn't see any weapons on them, I imagined they were probably hidden somewhere in their bulky uniforms. As my feet trapped forward I wondered whether I should be asking any questions – if I should be enquiring about where I was going. Then I saw Haymitch appear at the end of the corridor and everything made sense.
It was strange, I'd almost viewed Haymitch as a brother figure during our training for the Games – an estranged cousin that you still shared that familiar connecting bond with. But now, as he stood before me, his hair still bedraggled but smart clothes adorning his body and a smile on his face – he felt like a father. I felt my feet moving swiftly forward, a fast walk breaking into a jog and then a full-blown run. Haymitch didn't open his arms until I was merely a metre or so away but I threw myself into him, digging my face into his shoulder as his fingers closed over my back. For a second we didn't say anything, my lungs forcing air out of them at regular intervals, but then we drew apart and Haymitch whispered something to me.
"Well done kiddo." I smiled, the first time I had smiled in ages, and then suddenly my hands were around his neck. Haymitch didn't even realise what was going on for a second until suddenly his eyes went wide and his own hands shot up to try and prise mine away. I wasn't really sure what I was doing – why I was doing it – but I kept on squeezing, harder and harder until my mentor's face began to turn purple.
"Get him off him!" Someone screamed. Two guards gripped hold of my shoulders, yanking me away so I almost fell over and Haymitch gasped for breath, choking on the air that rushed quickly down his throat.
"Why didn't you save him?" I shouted, finally realising why I was upset. Haymitch was still trying to get his breath back so didn't reply, staring up at me in shock and disbelief.
"Why didn't you save Blaine?"
"I couldn't." Finally my mentor answered back – his voice sounding hoarse like mine had in the grey room. "They would have killed me, killed you too, and him. He was supposed to die."
"No!" Tears were forming in my eyes, burning me after so long without them. "NO!"
"He did it for you." Haymitch said, standing fully upright but not moving any closer to my struggling body. "He died so you could survive. So you could win."
Effie stared at me with worried eyes. I had been escorted to our meeting room by four guards, with Haymitch surrounded by another three. He'd protested and said he was fine – that I wasn't going to hurt him again – but to be honest I didn't believe him myself. There was food on the table, good food that I was supposed to eat, but I couldn't bring myself to touch it.
"How are you feeling?" Effie asked after a while. I figured this question was going to be pretty common for a while so answered it honestly.
"Bad." Her heavily made up face contorted into an expression of sympathy and sadness. I suppose to my team, we were supposed to be celebrating. I had won after all. They were going to be heroes – I was a hero. This was a victory meal and we were discussing how I would make my grand entrance to the adoring crowds.
"How am I supposed to feel?" I said after a while, leaning back in my chair and raising my hands in the air. "Happy? That I'm alive? That everyone's dead?"
"I think you're supposed to feel confused." Haymitch replied, for once saying exactly the right thing. "But we're here to help you with that." I looked across at my team. People that had worked hard, coached me, supported me, helped me to victory. Someone was missing.
"Where is Cinna?" I asked. Haymitch nodded.
"Getting your outfit ready." Oh yes, the ceremony. I wondered what they were going to ask me – if it would be anything like my life-threatening interview three weeks earlier. I supposed now I could handle anything.
"You should eat." Effie said, pointing to the food in front of me. Completely ignoring the knife and fork placed either side of the plated my hand darted out to grab the hunk of meat and I ripped a piece off with my teeth. Haymitch laughed and Effie tried not to show her disdain.
I wanted to hug Cinna when I saw him, but was reluctant to incase it triggered another attack like Haymitch's had. Instead I held out my hand and he shook it, both of us exchanging a look that we knew meant more than words.
"Are you going to make me look handsome?" I asked, surprised I could manage humour given the circumstances. Cinna smiled, nodding.
"Of course." As I slipped the green suit on (not a trace of black or red anywhere I was glad to see) I glanced my reflection in the mirror and was shocked. Of course I still looked like myself, I still looked strong. But my muscle definition had waned considerably. I had lost a lot of weight.
"At least your shirts wont be so tight now." Cinna whispered – his own attempt at humour. I was still getting over the shock of my hollow appearance as my collar was sorted out and black shoes slipped over my feet. Would I still be attractive to people? That had been one of the reasons why I'd been so popular. Would people still adore this – the skinnier boy with uncontrollable violent tendencies?
"Don't worry" Cinna comforted, as if he could read what I was thinking. "Your public will adore you no matter what you look like."
The ceremony was in the evening. I hadn't realised the day had passed so quickly so was surprised at how quickly we were ushered everywhere. My whole team would be displayed to the thousands that had gathered in the main arena, the thousands that were forced to watch on their TVs. The prep team first including Cinna, then Effie, then Haymitch, then me. I wondered if I was supposed to be scared, nervous even – but then I realised I had experienced much worse. I had experienced not knowing if each breath was going to be my last, if I could overcome the crippling waves of grief that threatened to smother me and choke me to death. This was nothing.
"Countdown to prep team reveal…" A small man with a headset on instructed, holding up his hand so all five fingers pointed towards the ceiling. "Five, four, three, two, one…" A trap door opened and the podium with the people who had made me beautiful rose into the air. Immediately the deafening sound of screams could be heard – I almost cowered, putting my hands over my ears. So many things triggered bad memories inside my brain – it was impossible to keep track.
"Countdown to Effie reveal…" One by one the various members of my team were revealed to the masses. Haymitch received a cheer bigger than I had ever thought was possible. Then it was me.
"Stand here please." I was ushered onto the platform, where Haymitch had stood just minutes earlier. The headset man positioned my feet at the right angle, checked my costume and then nodded to someone behind me. "We're set." As I listened to the countdown I closed my eyes, trying to prepare for what was about to happen, what it might set off. The platform began to rise into the air…