Chapter 13: The Games, Day 6
They walked in a tense yet somehow comfortable silence for a while, Maysilee leading the way. It had been so long that Haymitch was thinking of making a sarcastic remark to lessen the tense silence. but stayed silent when Maysille slowed to a stop.
They had reached the bottom of a large and tall quarry of rocks, all very sharp; most were splattered with dried blood. His gaze climbed upward, noting the jagged rocks before he turned to her, an eyebrow raised.
Her face stayed solid, not showing anything.
"Follow me exactly; make sure you have a good grip. Don't slip."
Haymitch only nodded as he tucked his large knife into it's sheath.
She started up the quarry, moving in a weird zigzag pattern, climbing the rocks and avoiding the sharper points with grace and flexibility. He followed her, moving much slower, and she sighed heavily to show her impatience instead of saying anything.
After a while, he realized she had smeared some black on the points where she used her hands and feet. Crusted blood… but he told himself it was ash.
He picked up his pace then. Feeling challenged at her wit, he wanted to show his strength and agility. They both were fighters.
They finally reached the top, where she had manipulated the tree branches with rope to cover the top, creating a makeshift shelter.
She had a small fire-pit with large stones and wood, but no food around. There was a sleeping area with leaves as a cushion. She had only a small bowl, and her small backpack rested against a corner
They both sat down, barely winded from the climb. Haymich only smiled.
He was constantly moving, avoiding and accidentally coming across other tributes, getting lucky; but somehow she had managed the perfect shelter. She had made it farther into the forest; quicker than he was.
She'd taken Cassie's tactic and acted less than par in training. She was slow on the obstacle course, slow on the sprinting trials...
"You did well, May," he admitted.
She shook her head, motioning towards his pack.
"I didn't make it so well in the bloodbath."
"But we both made it off the platforms…"
"I don't run as fast as you. I was barely able to grab this tiny pack, had to fight another girl for it… she-" her voice cracked, and she fell silent.
"You managed to make shelter, a reliable and safe one. One to tease other Tributes with, I bet you had fun with that…"
The corner of her mouth twitched, and it broke into a grin.
"I did. It made them angrier that they couldn't reach me, and they lost focus."
"How many tried to make it up here, May?"
She frowned, sighed, and then spoke.
"Four. The third one begged me to kill him; he was bleeding out through his heel…"
Haymitch looked down at the sharp rocks below them. He noticed the blood more prominently now; and there was a lot of it from this angle.
Like the fresh blood on the club he beat the boy with. The splatter on Maggie's clothes as she bled out. The young boy caught in the trap at the Cornucopia, so close to a victory of a meal...
"What about you, Mitch? I tell you mine, you tell me yours," she said.
"The butterflies are poisonous here," he said. She nodded.
"So is everything else, tell me something new."
"There was a boy and a girl... they begged me to kill them. I only walked away. I couldn't..." he swallowed, but continued. "Do you know what happened to Dylan?"
Maysilee looked down.
"I only saw him with a small girl; they were heading back towards the Cornucopia the morning before the volcano erupted… But I don't know what happened."
Haymitch just clenched his jaw. He spoke next, feeling she should know.
"I was with Maggie," he said softly. Her head jerked and she glared at him.
"What the fuc-"
"Remy and her two companions got the best of her," he said quickly.
May let out a breath, but still kept his gaze, staying silent.
"She… she had a bow and arrows. She told me she had gotten one of them."
"Why didn't you-"
"I tried to help... but she refused. She just wanted company."
He saw her eyes getting wet, and she turned away.
"May," he said softly.
He shouldn't want to, but his arms reached for her anyways.
At the first touch on her shoulder she turned and buried herself in his embrace, crying silently into his shirt. He held back his own hurt, not wanting the cameras to see him like that. The best he could do was hide Maysilee's tears.
He rubbed her back absentmindedly as he hid his own face in her hair, wishing for only a second they could both be back home, not exposed to this.
Maysilee had grown close to Maggie, he had seen it on the train, and even during training. He had heard their laughs carry through the penthouse late at night.
After a couple of minutes, Maysilee grew still. He felt her deep breaths against his shirt before she pulled away, her face bent down as she wiped away at her face.
The sun was now setting, and the temperature had dropped. They both sat down near the fire-pit, and Haymitch slid off his backpack and smiled as he zipped it open.
Maysilee only tilted her head.
"What the hell else could you have after six days? You've rationed your food too well; it's probably only one more serv-"
Her voice faded as he pulled out two limp squirrels and dropped them at Maysilee's crossed legs.
"You… you fought these?" she said dazedly, looking up and meeting his gaze. He nodded.
"A whole pack, actually."
She frowned, almost upset, but then she shook her head.
"Well, you're probably used to squirrels anyways."
"These were a lot quicker and much more violent than the ones at home, trust me."
"Yeah, you're face can tell me that," she said with a slight frown. "I think I have some rain water collected to wash those cuts out-
"I have a first aid kit, but they don't hurt anymore."
She reached forward to touch a cut on his jaw and he involuntarily winced at the pain. She shook her head.
"The deeper ones are definitely infected, the skin is dark red and not pink. You could've died within a few days... let me take care of them."
She rummaged in his pack without asking, and he couldn't help but grin when she retrieved the small First Aid box.
She rubbed the antiseptic cream on his scars and used the bandages he had left. He stayed still during the ordeal, not showing his pain as she treated him.
"Am I your first ally?" he asked, watching her eyes which were focused on dressing his wounds.
She startled in her touch at a scar on his forearm where she was bandaging with the last of the leaves, but then scowled as she continued dressing his wounds.
"Y- yes, you are," she said slowly, her head still bowed, going back to wrapping his arm tightly with the leaves so they didn't fall off easily.
"Same here," he said. She looked up, and they both quickly looked away when their eyes met.
Haymitch lit a fire and extinguished it as soon as the rocks got hot enough to cook the squirrels without drawing smoke, showing Maysilee a new trick which she smiled and shook her head at.
She ignited the fire to a full flame, and pointed above her.
"The branches dissipate the smoke."
"Damn you are really smart," Haymitch replied, shaking his head.
"No, you're smart; something that all of the past victors had," he said, turning the squirrels on the fire. He brought out his cantine and handed it to her.
She smiled brightly, genuinely happy, but she hid it quickly and grabbed it from his hand. She only took two small sips and then closed the lid and stuck her hand out.
He shook his head.
"Keep it; I have one of my own."
She shook her head.
"The past victors had luck, too," she muttered, holding the cantine against her chest for a moment before putting it amongst her supplies.
"Actually I've just been taking supplies from those who don't need them anymore," he said, and then looked back at the fire. "I don't feel that lucky."
"You were the first at the Cornucopia, against Cassie's word mind you-"
"I wasn't as dazed as the others… it was just another mountain, another forest for me."
"You didn't feel blinded? Winded by the fresh air?"
He only shrugged.
"Ever since I saw the look on Leo's face, I knew that I had to get off the platform as quickly as possible."
"He was a trainer at the gymnasium. He worked with spears, and his station wasn't visited often, so we practiced a lot together. He was there with me in the Launch Room." Haymitch looked down.
"My Aunt was there," Maysilee whispered.
Haymitch snapped his head up, completely thrown off at her truth. She hated talking about her family...
"She's prominent in the Capitol, she married into it. I hadn't seen her since I was maybe five, but she acted as though she had seen me yesterday... like a casual meeting. Not that I was being lead to my death or anything…"
"You don't know that yet," he whispered, looking at her, willing for her to look at him.
She didn't. Instead she sighed, and shook her head.
"We should get some sleep."
Haymitch only nodded as they both made their own beds and fell asleep to the Arena's night sounds.