Chapter 14: The Games, Day 7
The flutter of a bird's wings sounding almost too close startled him awake. He made a move to stand up but felt a tug on his arm.
He looked down to find that Maysille was sleeping across from him; they were holding hands. He hid a smile and then looked around, trying to keep his arm still. He looked up and saw the sun was high in the sky, meaning it was just mid afternoon. And it was all quiet, except from the activity of the birds and a slight breeze rustling the leaves of the trees.
They had to keep moving.
Haymitch turned back to look at May. He stared at her calm face, not set in fear or anger, but serenity. He lingered for a few more moments before he scooted in closer and reached over with his other hand to shake her shoulder lightly.
"May," he said loudly.
She groaned, and turned her face into her arm.
"May, wake up."
"No, not more chocolate, please," she muttered and groaned, shaking her head.
His smile faltered. She was dreaming of home.
"Well I could sure use some chocolate right now, but figuring where we are... it might be hard to find," he said.
Maysilee's eyes flew open.
He watched her face transform into a frown as she took a split second to realize where they were. She looked at him and the corner of her mouth twitched, but it was only a moment before she looked down at their hands and pulled back entirely, moving to a sitting position.
"Thank you, May," he said, reaching forward to rest a hand on her shoulder. He smiled and tightened his grip for a second before pulling back and standing up, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. He shook out his legs when he heard her mutter something under her breath.
"What?" he asked, turning back to her.
"As I said, we'd live longer with the two of us," she said softly, but still prominent.
He only thought she meant for the night when she saved his life - then they would go on their separate ways. Not that he was complaining...
He only nodded.
She gave a short nod back and stood up.
"We should keep moving," he said.
"What's wrong with here?" she asked, sounding defensive.
"This place is perfect... but not so much now that there's only ten tributes left. That volcano eruption drove them straight to the woods, right at us; the Gamemakers are getting restless. Plus, I have an itch to see if there's an end to this arena."
"It can't go on forever, can it? A border... edge... something."
She only tilted her head.
"I know this place is great, and comfortable, but I can tell you soon enough someone will come along. But these tributes have lived this long, who's to say they won't make it up the quarry like you can?" he continued.
She only frowned, looking around almost longingly at her camp.
He rested a hand on her shoulder. She flinched, but didn't push him away.
"Our best strategy is to keep moving."
She still stayed silent.
Haymitch sighed, and started packing up the rest of his things. If she wasn't willing, he hated to think it, but he would leave her.
It would be the best for him to get away from her. To figure it out on his own, if there was an end to the arena. It wouldn't do any good to stay in one spot.
There was a loud snap, and then a large crash; the sound of a breaking tree branch. It was followed by laughter.
May's eyes grew big.
"Let's pack up and go," Haymitch whispered.
Maysilee only nodded and they packed up quickly and silently. They cut the rope she had made with bark and they both held the branches to release them silently. She stuffed everything else into her smaller pack, and gave a quick glance around.
"What about the fire pit – my blood marks for the rocks?" she looked distraught.
"We'll have to leave it. Someone else might take this camp, we can circle around to check on it later if you want to," he said, tightening his straps and making sure his knives were secure in his boots. He stood up and held out a hand.
She looked to him, to his hand, and then all around her, taking in the sights. Another boisterous laugh broke the morning silence, and she put her hand in his.
"You're the expert here, get us off this Quarry. We'll head that way," he said, motioning south his with head. She only nodded, squeezing his hand.
Then they began their descent down the quarry, letting go of each other to get a better grip on the sharp rocks. Haymitch slipped and he sucked in a breath as he felt a searing pain against his calf. Maysilee stopped and looked up, but he shook his head.
She surprisingly did as he asked, this time pointing to each spot before her foot left it, even once or twice grabbing his ankle and leading his foot to the right place. They made it down quickly after that.
There was another laugh that broke the silence just as their feet hit the forest ground. Maysilee's hand shot out to grasp at his, and he squeezed it back, his eyes shooting back and forth - the tributes making such a racket still hadn't reached them.
"Up for jogging?" he asked softly.
"Your leg," she said, but she stopped when she heard another laugh, even closer this time.
"Okay fine. But we'll check that leg when we stop."
They jogged together, still holding hands, helping each other through the rough brush, pulling at each other so they didn't trip and fall.
"Stop! Haymitch stop!" she cried out when they reached grass and the thorny brush was no longer visible.
He did as she asked, coming to a stop, catching his breath and suddenly feeling faint. He knelt down and sat on a nearby boulder, his breath short. He thought his vision was swimming, but shook his head, blinking rapidly to set it straight.
"Your leg! Ugh, you idiot!" he heard her say. He felt too drowsy.
"It was just a scrape," he muttered, his vision blurring again.
She let out an angry yell.
"Your leg is soaked in blood!"
He felt hands flutter at his legs, pulling the hem of his pants up to his knee. He giggled at the soft touch that tickled his calves, but that was the last thing he did before the blackness overtook him.
"Wake up, idiot."
He shook his head, keeping his eyes closed. Why was his leg throbbing?
"It's been a few hours; you were the one to say we had to keep moving. So get up, idiot."
He opened his eyes. May was leaning over him, her hair, no longer in it's bun, was tickling his ears.
He grinned. She frowned.
He reached up a hand to dazedly brush some of the tickling hairs behind her ear. She pulled back, but even in his still sleepy state he noticed a hint of pink on her cheeks as she pulled back.
He blinked, and sat up. His right leg was bandaged up in gauze and the pant leg was torn off.
"You cut your leg on my quarry, remember. Then stupidly insisted we run, pumping your blood faster, making you bleed out quicker. I was lucky enough to drag your heavy ass here before the others saw us."
He looked around. They were in a small, almost mock of a cave. There was barely any room under the rocks, but it provided the necessary cover.
"How much food did you waste on me?" he asked, noticing he was feeling stronger that he should be after blood loss.
She tucked her lips into a straight line, her furrowed eyebrows twitching before she sighed and sat back, resting her elbows on her knees.
"I cooked the rest of the squirrels. There were only two left; they were so skinny they barely gave any meat; but it was a good stew, if I do say so myself. I also force fed the rest of the dried fruit."
He sighed. She did the right thing – the squirrels were set to spoil any day, and he wasn't a fan of the dried fruit, so at least he didn't remember eating it.
"Good move," he said, smiling. Her worried look disappeared in a barely there smile.
"Did you have any at least?" he asked, moving his legs, testing them. The pain was bearable.
"Just a small tidbit. I couldn't help it, sorry. But we've both got a good supply of the dried beef, crackers, and sunflower seeds."
"Don't be sorry. You saved my life."
"That's the second time, mind you. You should pick up the slack."
At that, she stood up and looked around. She stretched, and knelt down again to meet his eye level.
"I heard their voices, but one of them was complaining of an ankle cramp or something, so they took a small break. I was able to drag you to cover before they saw us - we have a decent but not perfect cover with the brush. But they haven't passed us. They're a loud bunch."
He nodded, and as though proving her right he heard another loud laugh. It was as though this group wanted to draw the other Tributes.
"Let's keep going while they're at a standstill. I'll need to get used to the pain," he grumbled, not feeling up to a fight.
He stood up. A small sharp pain shot up his leg, and he winced, keeping his lips sealed tight so he didn't yell out in pain. He shook his head, and took another step. The next shot of pain wasn't as bad, so he nodded.
"Let's keep moving."