So I felt kinda bad about not updating
yesterday, so I'm just going to update
twice today! :O (aren't I the greatest?) anyway,
hakuna matata, I will be updating again soon.
Chapter 18: A tribute lost, and a victor crowned.
When the world comes back into focus, I find that I am in a sterile white room. I'm laying in a bed, and the sheets feel like silk. I relax against the soft mattress, then reality hits me like a truck.
The games, Luna, I killed them...Annita, Vicktor, Xavier and Alexia. I killed them all.
Suddenly I feel sick to my stomach, I try to rise out of bed, but my arms and torso are constrained by leather straps.
I stretch against the straps, but they hold me in tightly. I give up with a sigh, and take a closer look at the room I'm in.
Everything is white, and it almost hurts to look at. The tall door on the left wall is closed, and I can bet it's probably locked, there is a window to my right, but the curtains are drawn. Then there is a low table next to a armchair. Besides that there is nothing except my bed. I look at my right arm, and see several clear tubes sticking out of it.
As far as I can tell I am only wearing a pair of shorts. Then I start in surprise.
All my scars are gone. Not only the ones that I got in the arena, but all the ones I've accumulated over the years. All gone, not even the faintest hint of one. My skin is its natural golden brown, and perfectly smooth.
I feel one of the tubes in my arm quiver, and I watch as a light pink colored liquid drips slowly down the tube and into my arm, then my body relaxes, and the world fades away once again.
I am half conscious, barely aware of the feeling of the soft sheets against my skin. I breathe deeply, and roll over.
"Finnick? You awake yet?"
I sit up quickly, and blink in surprise.
She is sitting by my bed, dressed in a simple grey dress.
I look around, they moved me from the medical room, now I'm in a room that looks all to familiar. I'm back in the training center.
"Hey Finnick, how are you feeling?"
I yawn, and flex my muscles.
"I feel great. Why am I back here?"
She sits back in her chair, and watches me carefully.
"After you were finished in the medical lab, they decided to move you back here, just until you're ready for the crowning ceremony, then we can get you back home to district four."
I smile. Home, I don't think anything sounds more wonderful.
"What did they do to me in the medical lab?"
I ask curious. Mags shrugs.
"Well, they gave you the antidote for that poison for one thing, then when you were deemed stable, they did an overall cleansing. They erased all of your scars, and got you healthy again. Other than that, not much."
I nod, once again looking over my perfect skin.
"When is the crowning ceremony?"
She stands up.
I look up in surprise, and jump out of bed.
"Today? How long ago was I in the arena?"
Mags stifles a smile.
"They pulled you out of the arena three days ago. I suggest you get ready for your prep team, they are going to be all to happy to see you."
She walks over to the door, then pauses and turns around, giving me a grin she says.
"You can start by putting some pants on."
I look down, and see I am just in a pair of boxers, then I look back up at Mags and grin.
"Why? Is this distracting?"
She laughs, and calls over her shoulder as she walks out.
"Don't flatter yourself kid. I'll see you tonight."
I chuckle, and dress in a pair of jeans and a simple dark blue T-shirt.
Then I go over and sit on my bed, waiting for my prep team.
As I sit, my mind wanders back to the arena.
All the horrors, the murders. All the blood, I look down, and see that I have blood staining my hands. I gasp in shock, and try to rub it off, but it only spreads. Then I see the faces of the other tributes. Luna hovers in front of me, frail and innocent looking as ever.
"Finnick, why didn't you save me?"
I feel tears run down my face, and breathing seems to get harder.
"I...I'm so sorry...I tried..."
Luna's face turns hard, and she snaps angrily at me.
"No you didn't! You let me die because you wanted to live! You didn't care about me at all!"
I fall onto the bed, tears streaming from my face, as I start hyperventilating.
"No...that's not true...no...NO!"
Everything swims into darkness, and I sink into blissful unconsciousness.
When I wake up, my whole body and mind is numb. I feel nothing, think nothing.
I rip a strip of fabric from the sheet, and start tieing and knots slowly.
I hear the door open, but I just stare into the distance.
I think someone is talking to me, but I don't really hear anything.
It's my prep team, they do the usual things to make me perfect, and Dalia enters with a garment bag.
I see her lips moving, but I don't hear anything. I just continue to stare into space blankly, tieing and undoing knots.
Concern shows on Dalia's face, and she orders the prep team out.
Then she tries to talk to me again, after this doesn't work, she leaves the room.
I sink mechanically onto the bed, and sit with my makeshift rope, twisting it in my hands, forming complicated weaves, and undoing them with a pull.
I see Bruce enter with Dalia trailing behind, he doesn't hesitate but comes right up to me and crouches directly in front of me.
He says something, waves a hand in front of my face.
It's almost like I am asleep, I can't do anything, but my mind is aware of what is going on. The only thing I can do, is tie and untie knots, and I do that automatically.
Suddenly pain erupts across my face, and reality snaps in.
I focus my eyes in time to see Bruce raise his hand, and slap me across the face again.
I hear his voice shout, and slowly my senses start to work.
My brain slowly begins working, and I grab Bruce's hand as he's about to slap me again.
The word comes out of my mouth, and I begin to breathe normally.
"Are you snapped out of it?"
Bruce asks, hand still held at the ready.
"Snapped out of what?"
Bruce lowers his hand, and sighs.
"It's called 'traumatic shock syndrome' very common with the victor of the games, mixed with the feeling that you have blood on your hands, and that you took another persons life. Well, it's a miracle how many victors stay sane."
I rub my stinging cheek.
"Yeah that sounds about right...Oh no...I killed them didn't I?"
Bruce grabs both my shoulders tightly, staring straight into my eyes, he speaks with such intensity that I can do nothing but listen.
"You listen to me. It wasn't your fault, you had to do it, and if you didn't you would be dead. I know that it's awful, but that's the truth. Now, you have to stay strong, you have to remember who you are, remember everything Mags and Tiffy ever taught you, and most of all remember that you promised that little girl back in district four that you wouldn't change. You have to keep that promise, understand? I've seen too many victors change for the worst after the games, and I wont let that happen to you. Understand?"
I nod. At the mention of Annie, my mind relaxed, and a great calm filled my body. Bruce is right, I promised her that I wouldn't change.
My hand reaches up to the necklace she gave me, and I hold it tightly.
"Yes. I understand. Thank you, I'll be alright now, I promise."
He gives me one more long look, then her stands.
"Good. I'll be waiting with Tiffy and Mags in the main room. The crowning ceremony will take place at the same place as the interviews, after you are crowned, you will have a short victory interview with Caesar Flickerman. After all that is through, we will board the train to district four, and to your new home."
I look up surprised.
"Yup, You'll be neighbors with Mags the other victors and I, in victors village."
I remember now, once you win the games, your district is showered with gifts from the capitol, and the victor moves into victors village, in the wealthiest part of the district. Speaking of wealthy, a victor never has to worry about money again, they have more than they know what to do with.
"I'll see you then."
Bruce nods, and walks out. I look over at Dalia, who has been patiently waiting to one side.
"Hi Dalia, sorry about earlier..."
She shakes her head.
"Don't apologize, I've seen it before. I'm just glad to see you're back to your old self again. Now, how about we get you to look like a victor?"
I smile what I remember Tiffy calling my "Whatever you say" smile, and get dressed.
In a very short time, I am walking to the main room, looking once again like the suave young man with the wavy bronze hair and sparkling sea green eyes. Dalia has me dressed in a black suite, with a shining gold shirt, open at the top in the usual fashion. It goes well with my token.
I enter the main room, and see Mags Bruce and Tiffy waiting for me.
Tiffy immediately runs over and gives me a hug."Finnick! So good to see you!"
I give her a smile.
"You too Tiffy."
I glance over at Mags, and she raises her eyebrows questioningly, she must have heard of my shock trauma whatever. I give her a reassuring smile, and we board the elevator.
Once at the interview building, the others find their seats, and I'm left standing all alone. I feel the panic start to creep back into me, and I take a deep breath.
"I did this for Annie, I am not going to change."
This relaxes me, and I hear the music start as President Snow takes the stage.
"Quiet down please!"
The President says into the microphone.
"Thank you. Now, may I announce this years victor of the hunger games: Finnick Odair from district four."
The crowd goes insane, as I walk up on stage. The President shakes my hand, then places the gold victory crown on my head.
"Congratulations young man, you bring glory and honor to your district."
The President says this with a smile, but there's something in his eyes, something that suggests that he is planning something, and the smile he gives me is the same. What is he thinking?
Then he's putting his arm around my shoulders.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Finnick Odair: Victor of the sixty-fifth hunger games!"
The crowd cheers wildly, and the President shakes my hand again, and exits the stage.
I wave to the crowd, and Caesar Flickerman bounds on stage.
"Well well well! Let's get this interview started!"
The crowd screams as Caesar and I take our seats.
"Now tell me Finnick, how does it feel to be wearing that crown right now?"
I slip back into my old personality.
"It hurts my head."
I turn to the crowd.
"No Seriously! This thing weighs a ton!"
Caesar laughs along with the crowd.
"Well do you think you could suffer with us for just a little while?"
"Well, I think it makes me look dashing, so I suppose I could wear it a little while longer."
All the women in the crowd scream their agreement.
"Indeed it does. Can you give us a little insiders view on what the games were like? We only got to see the edited version, so we weren't with you the whole time."
How do I respond to that? The games were worse then a nightmare. What do I say?
"Well Caesar, I would tell you, but you really had to be there you know?"
"Well then, tell us a little about your unexpected ally. It was exciting for us watching because we saw who it was before you did, and the suspense was thrilling."
"Well, you all met Luna. I swear at the interviews, she looked just like an angel."
Caesar places a hand over his heart.
"That she did. What was she like in the games?"
I think of the games, and for the first time, I remain calm.
"She...she was my guardian angel. She saved my life more than once, and the whole time that we were in the games, unsure if we were going to live or die, she was always ready with a smile, and she never complained, not once. She told me that she wanted me to win, she wanted me to win for Annie."
A hush falls over the crowd, and Caesar has tears in his eyes. When he speaks, his voice is a whisper.
"And you did. Are you excited to go home and see Annie?"
I smile, and nod. Thinking of Annie's untamable hair always falling in her face, and her skinny lanky figure, and all the other little things that make Annie Cresta.
"Yes. Yes I am."