They're Just Yellow Jackets

Haymitch took his pot of tea off the stove and glanced up at the living room television when he heard the bumper music come on. The short sound bite played into the eight o'clock evening news broadcast and the announcers started rattling off the impressively macabre titles of their Top Stories. Apparently, yet another bomb had been set off in downtown Capitol. Authorities suspected it was the work of one of the so-called "Traditionalists"-people who believed in the old, pre-revolution Panem.

It made Haymitch's hackles rise when he thought about how much they'd gone through to get the world to where it was today and yet there STILL were those who would sooner destroy their blossoming society.

Lately, in the past year or so, there had been a renewed violent effort from the Traditionalists. Of course, it wasn't nearly as bad as it was in the immediate aftermath of the war-domestic violence and vandalism had skyrocketed from the Capitolites who believed they were treated "unfairly," and those feelings had taken nearly a decade to cool down. But over the past thirty-one years since the end of the war, tensions had decidedly calmed and Pamem was enjoying an overall peace.

"...shrapnel damage caused serious injuries to twenty-four people. Six deaths have been reported. Two of them children..."

Haymitch grunted. Perhaps not. There were of course going to to be spikes of violence. He probably wouldn't live to see the end of the fighting...

Sighing, he added a copious amount of sugar to his tea, and carried it with him into the living room so he could drink it on the sofa. He'd converted to the herbal drink years ago. If he made it strong and added enough sweetener, it was almost able to take the edge off. Almost. Nothing close to the effect of alcohol, of course, but he hadn't touched that substance in decades now. One day, he always told Peeta, one day he was going to break open a bottle of rum and drink himself into oblivion, just for old times' sake. The younger man would just nod and patronizingly pat his hands. "Yes, yes," he'd say, "...Cup of coffee?" with the emphasis on the last, non-alcoholic word.

The announcers continued to elaborate over various displays of unrest in the Districts. Bored and frustrated with the broadcast, Haymitch glanced out his window to the next door neighbors. It was a new family in there, recently moved from Nine, with far too many children than the parents could keep up with. He didn't like them. As always, whenever he got new neighbors, he wished he had the old ones back. However, the Mellarks had moved to a smaller house not too far away when Katniss and Peeta got married.

Katniss had wanted a sweeter, new home to go with their fresh start, not to mention that the grand, Capitol-issued houses were tainted with bad memories and apart of a trophy for something they'd all rather forget now. And so now they lived a few streets over with a large oak tree in the back yard (complete with a swing); a picket fence around the property; two shrewd, ugly cats; a large, loyal dog; and a bakery operating out of the first floor. They'd given away the majority of their wealth to various families in Twelve and so now they lived like any other middle-class family. Peeta woke at four in the morning to start making fresh biscuits and Katniss woke a little later with the sun to go hunt through the day and came home in the afternoon to attend to her family. Both of them were exhausted, weary, and creases had started to form around their eyes and mouths. Katniss already had a couple grey strands woven into her braid and Peeta sometimes muttered about arthritis bothering him.

And it was the happiest Haymitch had ever seen the two.

But of course, Katniss and Peeta' most prominent source of joy was their children. And Haymitch had to admit that, as annoying as they could be, he loved the two like they were his own.

Nita, sixteen years old, was as stubborn and proud as her mother but had gotten her father's sense of humor. She'd often quietly chuckle at some little, private joke in the middle of a quiet room and laughed at herself three times as much as she laughed at others. She was the most narrow-sighted girl he'd ever met and constantly needed people to explain to her why she was carrying out a particular task but when she got her mind fixed on something, she was determined to finish it swiftly, completely, and better than anyone else. Nita was smart too, not so much in school, but was incredibly resourceful and gifted with a double dose of common sense. As far as Haymitch knew, she was fairly popular at school and he often saw her with three other girls on the weekends. She was nearly as tall as Haymitch now and her long, dark hair was often braided into its customary rope. Only the intelligent, piercing blue eyes of her father betrayed the incredible resemblance to Katniss.

Renny, turning fifteen in a month, was quite the opposite of his sister. Where Nita was outspoken, funny, vigorously determined, and often commanding her audiences' full attention (though it was so effortless, he wondered if she actually did so on purpose,) Renny was more thoughtful, preferring the company of his family to his schoolmates. He had inherited his father's artistic talent and liked to take his beloved dog, Major, into the woods with him where he would perch in a tree, the dog curled up sleepily around the trunk, and sketch pictures of the wild animals that passed below. He was perceptive, especially of his parents ever since he'd learned of the events of the Hunger Games and all the following issues. If something came up, like one of the broadcasts Haymitch had just watched about certain "bitter Capitolites," or even if he saw a primrose tucked into an innocent bouquet, Renny did his best to shield his parents from seeing such things. early on, he'd picked up on how much old memories bothered the couple and had learned how to recognize the signs that painful flashbacks might be returning. Renny spent much of his free time in the woods hunting-trapping was the boy's particular specialty-a favorite pastime of he and his sister.

Despite their differnces in personality, the two were each other's best friend, and ever since Katniss had given her consent that they could go hunting in the forest on their own-a decision made only a month ago when their school let out for the summer-they had spent every free second together, all other hobbies aside, in the forest. They brought back significant hauls every evening and, naturally, Haymitch had taken to eating dinners at the Mellark house-what with all the plentiful fresh rolls and roast meat to go around.

They usually got home fairly late; dinner was served around 8:30. Haymitch glanced at the clock-8:15. He yawned and stretched. He might as well start on his way over. He switched the TV off and took the last sip of tea.

He shuffled over to the entrance hall and was reaching for the handle when-

Bang, bang, bang!

He jumped when someone outside started to urgently hammer on his door. Who could it be at THIS time of night!? Recovering quickly from his shock though, Haymitch pulled a small, loaded revolver out of a nearby drawer, made no pretense of hiding it, and flung the door open. These days, one could never be too careful.

But when he saw the occupants of his doorstep, he gasped with horror.

"Haymitch...help!"


Yay! Freddie is finally back home! I've been out of town for the past week on a mission trip with my youth group. It was the. Most. Incredible. Experience. Ever. If you've never gone on one, I highly recommend it. You will learn things about others, yourselves, and God that you never dreamed were possible.

I wrote this in my down time while working there in Hollywood, SC and I promise that I will be getting right back to Mirror, Mirror right after this for those of you who have been waiting oh-so-patiently.

Till next time -Freddie