Disclaimer: I'm only borrowing all this. I claim nothing of it as my own.
Author's Note: Hi people! This story is AU (alternate universe, if you will) because it changes the ending of Mockingjay kind of a lot. I won't say too much so I don't spoil things but it starts three years or so after the last book and begins in Annie's perspective. That'll change later, but you'll see then.
The story is completely written so I'll be posting pretty regularly and if you suggest something I should do in the story, I probably won't because it's all written, lol!
I really do hope you like it and, if you do, please leave me a review?!
"Mama! Some-y body is here!" Jack jumps on the chair beside me and pokes my neck. "Mama, some-y body is here. I'm a-scared, Mama."
I wrap my arms around his small shoulders and try to force myself back into the present. "Is somebody at the front door, Jack, or are they at the back door?"
"On the beach. In a big loud machine." He molds his body to mine and hooks his legs around my waist. "What we gonna do, Mama?"
I press a kiss to the top of his head, breathing in the scent of the sun and the sea in his soft bronze hair. "We're going to go to the back door and see who's here in a big loud machine. Think we're brave enough for that?"
He sniffs uncertainly and digs his fingers into my back and my chest. "Yeah. We brave enough, Mama. 'Specially if we go together."
I'm scared too, but I can't let my son see that. "I'm never going anywhere without you, buddy," I whisper as I get to my feet. Standing, I can see that the big loud machine on the beach is a hovercraft and I'm suddenly even more scared. I haven't seen a hovercraft so close up since I left the Capitol three years ago and came home to raise my son on the sea.
"See, Mama," Jack whimpers, his face buried in my shirt. "I tolded you it was some-y body in a big loud machine on the beach."
I exhale in relief when Haymitch Abernathy steps out of the shadows of the hovercraft. "It's okay, Jack. Remember those really cool oars that you got in the mail a few weeks ago?" He has to remember them because he takes them with him wherever he goes. And I see them lying in the sand where he must've dropped them when the hovercraft landed. "Yeah? You remember? Well, that man there, he's the one who carved them for you."
He tilts his head back and looks up at me with the sea green eyes that still make my heart skip a beat. "Real or not real, Mama? Them oars come from him?" When I tell him it's real, he loses a tiny bit of shyness and turns to look at Haymitch. I can tell by the look on his face that he's about to shout something. "Thanks for them oars, Mister Guy! They is awesome!"
"Haymitch, Jack," I say as I wave the older man forward. "His name is Mister Haymitch."
Haymitch shakes his head and smiles at my son. "Mister Guy works too, unless you're strict about these things. So you like the oars, Little Man? Do you take them out on your boat?"
"I don't gots a boat yet," he pouts. "Mama says I too little for my own. She lets me row on her boat, though. I'm a good rower."
"I bet you are. Hey, Little Man, how about you go get the oars and show me that you've been using them, okay?"
Jack seems agreeable and Haymitch clearly wants to talk to me alone so I put him in the sand and watch him run off. "He won't be gone long," I warn him, "so you better hurry to say whatever is you don't want him to hear."
"It's not that exactly, Annie," he says hesitantly. "Do you remember what you told me Finnick and Mags told you all those years ago?"
I nod. "To trust you if they're not here."
"Trust me?" he asks. "Trust me and come back to the Capitol one more time? With Jack, of course."
I shake my head even as I know I will. "Why?"
"Better to just come, Annie, and find out there. Jack'll need you on the big, loud machine."
He's right, and Jack runs back over with oars before I can do more than nod in agreement. Haymitch gives me a minute to collect myself when he kneels down in the sand and points at the tiny oars. "I don't know, Little Man. Are you sure you used those in the ocean?"
I watch my son square his little shoulders and stomp one bare, tanned foot into the sand. "Yeah, Mister Guy, I did used them in the ocean." He points a chubby finger at a white line on the carved wood. "See there's a salt stain from the ocean. Mister One-Eyed Pete says woods gotta have that stain or it ain't been in the ocean proper."
Haymitch laughs and fingers the stain. "Well, if Mister One-Eyed Pete says that, it must true." He hands the oar back to Jack. "Now, Little Man, are you big and brave enough to go on a trip for a little while?"
He shakes his head and takes three steps backward into my legs. "Nuh-uh. Nope. Not that big and brave. Do I gots to go?"
With shaking arms, I pick him up and settle him back on my hip. "Yeah, buddy, you and me have to go on a trip with Haymitch. Think we can be big and brave together maybe?"
He considers this solemnly. "We can try," he says with a seriousness that belies his almost three years of life.
I agree and look to Haymitch. "Are we leaving now?"
"Let's get a few days of clothes for the two of you and some toys he'll miss if he doesn't have," he suggest. "The hovercraft and I have nothing else to do but take you to the Capitol."
An hour and a half later, with clothes and toys for a week packed, lunch in Jack's belly, and a small argument about whether or not he had to wear shoes all taken care of, I carry him up the ramp and onto the hovercraft. I sit in the seat closest to the ramp and he scrambles to straddle my lap so that he's facing me and can bury his face in my chest. I wish I could bury my face in someone's chest.
I try to distract myself from worrying because I'm tired of Jack worrying about me. So I ask Haymitch a question. "You left Katniss and Peeta in District Twelve to come get me and take me to the Capitol?"
He smiles wryly. "You trust me, remember? Anyway, Johanna was in Twelve so she's flying with them to the Capitol."
As far as I know, Katniss is still technically, and wrongly, confined to Twelve for killing Coin. For her to be going to the Capitol too is very worrisome. I only half hear Jack squawk when he hears Johanna's name. "Aunt Jo-Jo gonna be where I going?" he demands. "Real or not real, Mister Guy?"
"Real, Little Man," Haymitch says, pulling a small bracelet out of his pocket. "In fact, your Aunt Jo-Jo asked me to carry along this seashell bracelet she says you made for her so you'd know I wasn't lying."
"It's Aunt Jo-Jo's, Mama," he tells me, not really noticing when I don't respond. "If Aunt Jo-Jo likes you, maybe I likes you, Mister Guy. Since you did make me my oars. Hey! Did I bring my oars?"
"Sure did, Little Man." Haymitch points to them. "You want to come sit on my lap for a little bit?"
Jack considers it, but tightens his grip on me. "I stay with Mama. You stay there."
He agrees easily and I realize that Haymitch Abernathy doesn't seem the least bit drunk. Another thing to worry about.
I spend the rest of the flight listening to Jack tell Haymitch mixed up stories about fishies who can fly and Haymitch telling Jack stories about woodland nymphs. I wonder for a little while how the District 12 mentor knows stories about nymphs but I don't wonder hard enough to ask.