“She’s this way, Mr. Odair.”
He makes a face.
“Please, just Finnick.”
The nurse nods and leads him through the congested lobby, full of lights and people shouting his name, into an elevator. They go up three floors, and walk out into a room that isn’t clogged with cameras and Capitol citizens. He lets out a deep breath he didn’t know he took. He doesn’t have time to really take in his surroundings, though, because the nurse keeps moving, takes a sharp left, and leads him down a short hallway. She points at the nearest room, and there she is. He can see her through the glass wall. He pushes the door open, ignoring shouts from the doctors surrounding her.
“Finnick!” she calls out. Her whole face lights up when she sees him. She pushes herself out of bed and practically throws herself across the room, into his arms. He can feel his arms shaking, but he feels light at the same time. He’s never been so relieved in his life.
He wraps himself so tightly around her his fingertips almost touch his own ribs. Without even a second glance to see who’s watching, he kisses along her neck, up to her jaw, across her cheek, and then, finally, he finds her lips….
“Finnick?” the nurse asks.
He blinks. Annie Cresta isn’t in his arms. She’s thrashing in her bed, screaming and flailing, as doctors try to sedate her. His heart aches just seeing her like that.
“Yeah, sorry,” he mutters. His voice is thick. He clears his throat.
“As you can see,” the nurse continues, “she didn’t sustain a lot of injuries. Minor scratches that we patched up in the hovercraft, when she was unconscious. Now, though—“
“Now she’s awake,” he finishes, and the nurse nods.
“She doesn’t want us coming near her. We were hoping, maybe…?”
Finnick nods and presses his hands together. What he wouldn’t give to be able to tie knots right now.
“Yeah, I’ll see what I can do,” he says.
The nurse enters the room, Finnick right behind her. The doctors all step back when they see him.
“We’ve tried everything—“
“She thinks she’s still in the Arena—“
He puts his hands up.
“Step back,” he says, keeping his voice under control. “Let her breathe. Think about what she’s just been through.”
The doctors all move away from her. One of them puts down a syringe, and starts towards the door.
“We’ll give you a minute alone with her,” she says. “Just, please, see if you can calm her down.”
He nods as he sits down on the side of her bed. She watches him with wide eyes, her hands digging like claws into her sheets. The door clicks behind him, closing behind the doctors, and she sits straight up.
“Finnick,” she gasps, grabbing his face. Her hands feel his cheeks, move around to his neck, stretch up through his hair. “They got you? How could they put you in here?”
“Cresta,” he murmurs. “You’re not in the Arena.”
She stops moving and looks at him sadly.
“Then I’m dead? It worked?”
He reaches up to take her wrists in his hands.
“You’re not dead.”
“Then I’m still in the Arena, I—“
“Either I’m there or—“
“Or I’m dead, there’s no—“
“Annie,” he says, a little more sharply than he intended, and she stops. “You’re not in the Arena, you’re not dead, you’re not dreaming, you’re not anything like that. You’re alive. You’re safe.”
She shakes her head. Tears fill her eyes, but they don’t fall.
“I’m not safe,” she whispers.
“You’re here,” he tells her. “Annie, you’re here with me.”
She’s right. She’s not safe. But he can’t tell her. Not now, when she’s in this state. He brushes his thumbs over her hands, over and over. Something in her relaxes, just a little.
“I’m out?” she breathes.
“Not yet. You’re in a hospital in the Capitol. You’ll be going home once you’re feeling better. Don’t you want to go home?”
“I’m not supposed to.”
He pulls her hands away from his head and holds them close to his chest.
“You are. You are supposed to.”
She shakes her heads.
“No winner this year,” she whispers. A strand of hair falls across her eyes. He reaches over to tuck it behind her ear. It’s not as soft as before. He remembers the night before she went into the Arena. He ran his hands through it when they kissed. His fingers snagged on a lot of tangles, but it was still soft.
“I know,” he whispers back. “I know, but you survived. You made it out. And these doctors want to help you.”
She shakes her head.
“They want to help,” he says, firmly. “They fixed me up after my Games, too. And I’m still here, see? You’ll be okay. I promise you. You’re safe.”
“You’re safe,” she repeats, pulling one hand free to smooth it across his face again. Then her eyes go wide. “Finnick, my dress.”
“My grandmother’s dress. I left it on the train, I only just remembered. Finnick, we have to get it. My mom will kill me if I lose it.”
She starts to cry. He pulls her into his chest and wraps his arms around her.
“It’s okay,” he murmurs. “We’ll get it. You need to calm down, though, Annie. You need to let the doctors help you. Then we’ll get your dress. Okay?”
She nods against his chest. He helps her lay back down. He kisses her hand and stands up.
“Don’t leave,” she says, clutching his hand tighter.
“I have to for a little bit,” he says. “The doctors will knock you out, and I’ll be here when you wake up. Okay?”
She nods again. He squeezes her hand and walks out of the room. The doctors rush back in before the door can even close behind him. He slumps against the wall and watches them through the glass. She lies back, calmly, and lets them stick a needle in her arm. Her eyes find his in the split second before she passes out.
He walks out into the little waiting room. Somewhere in the past few minutes, Mags and Mena both arrived, and Stella the stylist, with cases of makeup on the seat next to her.
“She’s okay,” he tells them. His voice is rough. He didn’t realize before how much his throat hurt. “No major injuries. She’ll be out for a few hours, but it might still take her a few days to recover.”
Mena knits her eyebrows.
“Why would it take her a few days if she doesn’t have any major injuries?”
“She… She, um….”
“She snapped,” Stella says for him. “It’s a shame. She was such a sweet girl. She was not built for the Games.”
“Anyway.” Finnick clears his throat. “Today is going to be long. You should all get some rest.”
“You?” Mags asks. He shakes his head.
“I can’t. You know I can’t.”
“Waste,” Stella mutters, picking her cases up. There’s only two of them, but they’re both huge. Just one of them could easily break her in half.
“I’m sorry,” Finnick tells her.
“For what? It’s not your fault,” she assures him, pulling herself back over to the elevator.
“You came all this way—“
“It’s my job,” she says. She bends, awkwardly, to press the button with her elbow. “Anyone coming with me?”
Mena stands and joins the stylist, her shoes clacking joyfully on the hard floor. She turns and looks at Finnick.
“Unless you need me for anything?” she asks. He shakes his head. The elevator dings, and the doors open.
“You should go, too,” he murmurs to Mags. She touches his arm. A solidarity gesture. She won’t go without him. He wants to feel annoyed at that. She spent a lot of time sleeping during the Games. She isn’t doing well. She needs to rest. He feels grateful, though, and guilty for feeling grateful.
The elevator doors close, and Mags stretches out in one of the chairs to fall asleep. She can really sleep anywhere. Finnick has always envied that. He can’t seem to sleep anywhere.
He ties knots. One big loop. Pull it through. Repeat, until there’s just one big knot in his palm. Unravel it now, take your time. Three loops. Pull one end through all of them.
A nurse eventually comes up with two trays. Dinner. He wakes Mags up. She eats hers carefully, savoring every bite. Finnick doesn’t touch his until Mags scolds him, but even then he only picks at it.
He can feel himself coming apart. It’s a feeling he’s used to at this point, but he never thought he’d feel this way over another person. Mags, maybe, sure, but not someone who came into his life after the Games.
He wants to sit in there, to close his eyes and just be near her. She came out. She lived. She’s still breathing, and she touched him not too long ago. She’s okay.
She’s going to be sold. The thought sits heavy in his stomach, but he can’t just dismiss it. Vera backed her because she wanted her. Probably still wants her. There will be others, too, there always are. He got her through the Arena, but he can’t save her from that.
He could try. He could go to Snow and offer to take all of her potential clients. He’ll double his time in the Capitol. He’ll double his hours, he’ll do anything. Snow will never go for that, though. If Finnick did that, he would think she asked him to. He’d kill her family anyway.
Snow could be setting it all up now, while she’s in the hospital. She’s barely been out of the Arena one day and she probably has a full lineup of clients already. He needs an idea. He needs a plan to help get her out of this, but he can’t think of anything. He needs sleep. He needs to rest, just for a few hours, so he can recharge. He doesn’t even remember the last time he slept. She’s out of the Arena. He doesn’t have to worry so much anymore. And, yet, he does.
A few hours later, a doctor comes out into the waiting room.
“We’re done. It might be good for you to be in the room when she wakes up. We set up a chair for you.”
Finnick mutters a thank you and stands up. He turns to Mags, who nods at him.“Go. I’ll be fine,” she says. He smiles at her before turning back, to walk into Annie Cresta’s room, to wait for her to wake up.