Chapter 6: The Interviews Part 1
He was on deck.
He didn't feel that nervous, just a small sheen of sweat on his upper lip that he wept away with his jacket. It was a light grey coal color three-piece suit with black piping detail. Mackie had let his hair be its own mess, saying that it gave him a certain dangerous vibe.
He had never worn a suit before. He didn't understand the whole hype, really… until he had looked in the mirror.
It made him look completely different… and this time, in a good way.
It was the last girl from District 11 on the screen now. Haymitch recalled her being very efficient in knowledge of edible from poison plants, but she couldn't even hold an axe. She was sitting rigid in the chair as Caesar tried to coax her to respond with more than three word sentences. It didn't work out that well, so he ended it early, and there was little applause.
The Peacekeeper, in a black uniform instead of white and with no helmet, grabbed his arm and walked him to the stage.
He looked back at Dylan, Maysilee, and Maggie, and gave a salute before he turned to the stage, taking a deep breath.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, our first male tribute from District 12, Haymitch Abernathy!"
There was loud applause as he was pushed to start walking. The lights were blinding, but his eyes adjusted quickly enough for him not to trip over himself.
Cesar Flickerman was wearing a bright green suit, his hair matching in a short spiked fashion, reminding him of a porcupine. Haymitch restrained a smile at the ridiculous style, and gave the interviewer a strong handshake before sitting down.
"Quite a handshake, Haymitch! I take it you are strong?"
Haymitch shrugged as he looked out to the colorful audience, and caught the eye of one of the many cameras. He gave a sly smile.
"You could definitely say that, Caesar."
The audience laughed, and Caesar smiled.
Cassie was right in telling him to play the nonchalant attitude.
"You're not here to play around, are you Haymitch?"
"No, no. I'm here to give an interview. You should be trying to play with me, Caesar!" he said, smiling. That got a laugh from Caesar, and more from the audience.
"So we know you're strong and confident, Haymitch. But, are you prepared?"
"Definitely. I'm not going down without a fight," he said. And he meant it.
During training, as he watched the careers exceed in most of the fighting skills and some of the survival skills, every word Cassie had said really hit him.
He would die soon, unless he fought.
"Woah there, watch out everybody!" Caesar said, smiling at the camera. Haymitch just twitched the corner of his mouth.
Caesar turned back to Haymitch, his face changing to something serious.
"So, Haymitch, what do you think of the Games having one hundred percent more competitors than usual?" he asked.
Haymitch shrugged. What he saw of everybody from training… they were all scared out of their minds, even if they hid behind a wealthy district… they all seemed detached from what was happening.
"I don't see that it makes much of a difference. They'll still be one hundred percent as stupid as usual, so I figure my odds will be roughly the same."
The audience burst out laughing, as well as Caesar, and Haymitch just grinned.
"Well then, without further ado, the Fighter of District 12, Haymitch Abernathy!" Caesar cried out. He grabbed his hand and pulled Haymitch to stand up. He then raised their hands in the air.
Haymitch smiled and gave a wave before he walked off the stage and was led by another man in another suit to a different room, where the District 12 crew was waiting.
Two were smiling, one was frowning.
The one frowning stepped forward.
"Haymitch Liel Abernathy, how dare you insult other tributes like that? It not only defies the games, it hurts the Capit- never mind that. I thought we agreed on no snarky comments for the interviews!" Clara said, her whiny voice in a different octave.
"Sush," Cassie said, not hiding her grin, "he was great. People enjoyed the confident attitude, the crowd loved him. What did I tell ya kid?" she said.
Haymitch smiled at her and gave her a nod, which she returned.
"It was a catch, definitely. Will get you remembered," Mackie said with a wide grin.
"They laughed, that had to be good, right?" Haymitch asked, hating that he sounded unsure of himself, as though he was asking for approval.
Cassie nodded. Clara sighed.
Mackie was already sitting on the sofa, sipping on a blue bubbly drink.
"You looked damn handsome in that suit, kid," she said, smiling. Her hair was shoulder length and light pink, and she had a yellow and green polka-dotted dress.
"Thanks, Mackie, as always," he said.
"Nah, I didn't have to do much work this year, you boys sold it – I just dressed you all up. Such an attractive group. Such a - " she cut herself off, and took another drink. "Haymitch… it's your last night in the Capitol. Come and enjoy it," Mackie continued in a harsher tone.
He didn't argue the fact as he sat down next to Mackie and accepted the heavy glass she had poured him. He took a sip and winced at the sour taste; similar to the Scotch on the train, but he kept taking sips as he looked back at the screen to watch Dylan's interview.
He was in the same type of suit as Haymitch, but with a dark blue shade and forest green piping.
He was putting on an act, definitely. Haymitch had never seen the kid so talkative for the last week or so they spent together.
Dylan was only thirteen but was as almost as tall as Haymitch, making him seem stronger and more intimidating even though he was a quiet one. And outside of the training center where he bruised trainers in hand to hand combat, he was gentle everywhere; he'd even acknowledged an Avox one night, muttering a thank you as they took his plate away.
But he was using his physique to exaggerate himself in the interview now.
He was making up a story about a girl back home now. Caesar told him to stay strong; to win the games and get back to his love. As Dylan exited the stage, Haymitch couldn't help but laugh.
"I've seen the hurt lover act before. Sometimes it works."
Haymitch didn't say anything as he noticed Maysilee come onto the stage.
He tipped back the glass all the way, finishing the sour drink before he set it down, all the while keeping his gaze on the screen.
He noticed that she was still graceful and quick, even in a tight dark green silk dress that stopped at her knees. The color brought out her dirty blonde hair styled in soft waves, making it shine.
He couldn't help but watch her. He'd only seen her in the same clothes he was wearing, the standard uniforms for the tributes: black tank-tops and grey pants. And he hated himself as he watched her kiss Cesar's cheek before sitting down, smiling out at the audience - that it actually took this long for him to notice the girl he had put his trust in was so beautiful.
"You need to let it go, Mitch. Sooner better than later," Dylan's voice broke his concentration. He blinked, and looked to his right, where Dylan was indeed sitting next to him.
"Hey, that was a good interview," Haymitch said truthfully. Dylan only shook his head.
"Don't change the subject. You can't be looking at her like that during the countdown at the Cornucopia."
Haymitch tightened his jaw in anger. Dylan was bringing forth the thoughts that had been itching at that back of his mind ever since she had bumped into him while boarding the train.
She had only shrugged and said:
'Not gonna say sorry. Won't have to in a week or two, anyways.'
Long story short – he hadn't felt anything as close to Rose as he did towards the girl on stage now.
"Shut up, Dylan. You're good at that, aren't you?" Haymitch said, turning to face the kid. He only glared back.
"Well I thought I might as well say what I have to for as long as I can. After all, I'm not 'the fighter'," he said as he fell back and buried himself in the fluffy cushions of the sofa.
"I wasn't as charming as you though," Haymitch replied.
"Or her, either," Dylan said, grinning as he looked back at the screen, where Maysille was smiling and laughing along with Ceasar and the audience.
"Quite a story Maysilee! We'll be sure to keep an eye out for your quick wit! Something to look out for in the arena!"
"I hope so, Caesar."
"Aww, sweetheart, you're too kind! Ladies and gentlemen, Maysilee Donner from District 12!"
The applause was more than generous.
"Your crush might out-sponsor you, Abernathy," Dylan said.
Haymitch threw a punch at the kid's shoulder, grinning as the kid winced before he stood up.
"I'm going to head in. See you all tomorrow," he said as he headed for the elevator.