Annie Cresta is not a fish brat.
She grows up a river child, in one of District Four's wealthier areas, swimming the strong brackish currents near the sea. Her father works in Justice, her mother is a teacher. She lives in a nice, white house with a wide veranda.
Finnick Odair will always be a fish brat.
Oh, they try to hide it, with this fancy title they've given him - victor – but he'll always be just another fisherman's child, kissed by the waves, the wind, the sun. He's worked the nets since he was ten years old.
Annie hates in the off-season, when they make the fish brats come to school. They're loud, obnoxious, dressed in fraying clothing. They sit in the back of classes and make jokes at the teachers' expense. Finnick Odair is no different, except that his clothes are far from fraying – he wears a sea-green tunic, low cut with a belt of seashells. This is what Capitol people imagine people from District Four dress like.
Annie doesn't know why he bothers to come to school – most Victors don't after they've won. But Finnick Odair is in her homeroom class even though he's at least two years older than her. He amuses himself by flicking rubber bands into her dark curls. Annie looks up from her novel occasionally to glare at him. People say Annie Cresta is weird. People say Annie Cresta is smart.
After he does this about twenty times, Mr. Percy, their teacher, notices.
"Mr. Odair," he says and he points to the board where all the class rules are written. "What does Rule 8 say?"
It says No throwing any object, but Finnick just flushes briefly before smiling. "Aw, I'm sorry, Perce." He winks at Mr. Percy. Several of the fish brats snicker.
Mr. Percy frowns and hands Finnick the pink slip that means detention.
Annie Cresta finds Finnick sitting alone at lunch. And isn't it strange that a Victor should sit alone?
"You don't know how to read, do you?" she asks. Annie has never been one for small talk.
Finnick flushes. "Not well. So?"
"What are you still doing in high school?" Most fish brats drop out anyway. Annie wonders what Finnick's fancy Capitol lovers would think if they knew he couldn't read.
Finnick picks at his food. "My mom wants me to graduate. Now that we have the money and all."
"Don't flick rubber bands at me," Annie says. She starts to stand up, but Finnick grabs her arm.
"Wait. Can you teach me? I mean, a Victor needs to know how to read, right?"
Annie starts to tell him no. But then she looks at Finnick's hesitant smile, his sea green eyes and she thinks, yes, she will help him.