Katniss slid her bow back into its hollow log and continued silently through the brush to the fence. After listening for the electric charge that was never there, she slid under with her game. The sky was it's usual dreary District 12 grey, with a few weak clouds lingering on the horizon. The Hob, however, was alive as usual, with off-shift miners mingling with lax Peacekeepers.
Katniss approached a cramped looking booth and requested some of the shadily obtained merchandise.
"Keep the change," she said. The shopkeeper nodded to her in recognition of her charity.
Darius, a young Peacekeeper and Hob frequenter, slid over next to her. "Now what's a famous and respected individual like yourself doing here?"
"I dunno," Katniss said aloofly, "Keepin it real I guess."
He laughed and gave her playful prod. "Don't let it go to your head, kid."
She laughed in return. "Oh, something went to my head alright."
"Oh really?" he said, smiling.
"Yeah, PTSD flashbacks," her smile outlasted his as she slung her string of prey and purchases over her shoulder and exited the market.
She made her way to Gale's house, joining the general retreat home with darkened miners. Seam children would stop and watch as she walked past, lifting their dark eyes in admiration and whispering to each other behind their hands.
"It shall be one of them," Katniss said to herself, "It shall be one of them I mentor to a glorious victory in the next Games."
Letting herself through the gate, she knocked at the back door, and was answered by Gale. He had been shaped by the mines. Deep lines under his eyes from late hours and permanently blackened fingers were just the beginning.
"So what's it like working for a living, wage slave?" asked Katniss as she handed over her haul. He took it silently.
Katniss examined her nails ."You know, if you wanted, I could give you some money."
Gale looked over some rabbits, weighing them in his hands.
"Like, a ton of money. This coat," she flipped up the collar of her all fur cloak, "cost about five thousand dollars. Money that could have gone to your malnourished siblings."
Scowling, Gale opened his mouth.
She raised a ringed hand. "But I totally get it if you don't want handouts. You're not one to take welfare. I understand."
As he closed the door, Katniss brushed some coal off of her shoulder and snapped on a pair of diamond-studded shutter shades. She closed the gate, her gold Mockingjay chain bobbing at her chest. The streets gradually become cleaner and more even as she approached the Victor's Village. Peeta's house was as bright as hers, while Haymitch's was predictably dead. His door was unlocked. Letting herself in, the smell of alcohol and depression overwhelmed her, causing her eyes to water.
"Haymitch?" called Katniss, stepping over shards of glass.
She discovered her mentor unconscious, as he was the majority of the time, on his couch. After her voice failed to penetrate his booze coma, she filled a glass with water in his disgusting kitchen and tossed it in his face. Katniss fell back as he sputtered violently to life and slashed at the air in front of him with a knife.
"What was that?!" he asked with understandable frustration.
"It's your favorite mentee reminding you to be sober because tomorrow we leave for the tour," she said with no attempt at cheeriness, prodding a bottle on the floor with her foot.
He groaned and planted his knife neatly into the table. "My life would be easier if you two had just died in the arena like all the other kids."
"But," she pulled down her shutter shades so as to better raise her eyebrows at him, "Me and Peeta can take over mentoring from here on out, ultimately increasing the amount of time you can spend being drunk. You could even move onto heavier drugs if you wanted to now."
Haymitch grumbled something and wiped his face off with a piece cloth that really could have been anything at some point.
"Yeah. And I've been making some big changes around here. I replaced P.E. and recess with ranged weapons class, and they serve creatine in the cafeteria now. I doubt we'll see any improvement in these upcoming games, but the next generation of kids is going to dominate."
"Is that so?" Haymitch said with a pitying smirk.
"It is so. I call it the K.A.T.N.I.S.S. system. Keep to the woods, attack from a distance, trust your instincts, never form love triangles, inspire rebellion, stay away from Careers, and stop making adorable child allies."
Taking a flask out of his pocket, Haymitch gave her a thumbs up. "Good luck with that."
"Oh, we're not doing luck anymore," Katniss said, swinging the door back open, "Its going to be pure skill from here on out."
Crossing the street to her own mansion, Katniss stepped inside and was greeted by her sister.
"Mom said to tell you that there's someone to see you in the office," informed Prim.
Katniss hung up her fur coat in a small closet. Whipping off her glasses, she gave her sister a pat on the head. "Thanks, Rue."
But whatever protests she had were lost as Katniss breezed by her and into a room full of dark wood furniture, leather, and President Snow.
He gestured to the chair across from him. "Please, take a seat."