Chapter 28

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The sky brightens when the Capitol seal appears. I grasp Finnick's hand tight. It's going to be tough for the both us us, having known most of these people for several years. Although Finnick was a little more sociable than I, knowing them better. I suddenly feel a pang of guilt for never getting to know them better. Maybe it's better this way.

The man from District 5, the one Finnick took out with his trident appears first. All the tributes 1-4 are alive; four Careers, Beetee and Wiress and, of course, Finnick and I. The man from District 5 is followed by the male morphling from 6, then Cecelia and Woof, both from 9, the woman from 10 and Seeder. The Capitol seal appears for the last time and the music ends, leaving us in darkness again.

Our silence is only interrupted by a faint tinkling noise before a silver parachute glides down and lands in the foliage. None of us reach for it.

"Whose is it, do you think?" Katniss asks us.

"There's no way of telling," I shrug in reply.

"Why don't we let Peeta claim it," Finnick suggests. "Since he died today,"

I roll my eyes at him as Peeta unties the cord and flattens out the small circle of silk. In his palm rests a strange, small metal item.

"What is it?" Katniss wonders but we don't know. We take turns passing it around and examining it. It's a hollow metal tube, tapered slightly at one end. The other end curves downwards like a small lip. It looks like a random spare part.

Peeta blows on it, seeing if it makes a noise. It doesn't. Finnick slides his pinkie into it, testing it out as a weapon. Useless.

"Can you fish with it?" Katniss asks Finnick and I but I shake my head. Totally useless.

Since Finnick and I have teamed up with Katniss and Peeta that means Haymitch is working with the District 4 mentors, who pretty much leave Finnick and I alone. We don't need them. However...if Haymitch has a say in these gifts, that means it's valuable. Haymitch helped me in my Games and he and I helped Katniss, too. It's useful. But we don't know what for.

Katniss, in frustration, jams one end into the dirt. "I give up," she says.

"Maybe if we hook up with Wiress and Beetee they can figure it out," I suggest and she nods in agreement.

Katniss and Peeta relax, so I follow suit, leaning against Finnick's back despite the intense heat. It's getting slightly cooler anyway. Only just. His hand wraps around my waist and he presses his lips against my head. "We're going to get out of here, Anna," he whispers to me. His voice is so quiet that for once in the arena, it feels like he's only talking to me. Not the Capitol or Snow or the Districts. Just me. A quiet promise that we're going to be okay and we're going to be safe. Together.

I simply nod and close my eyes, tired. It doesn't last long as I hear Katniss exclaim suddenly: "A spile!" I open my eyes to see her sat upright.

"What?" Finnick asks confused.

She picks it up and brushes it off, studying it. "It's a spile!" she says again.

"What's a spile?" I ask.

"Sort of like a faucet," she tells us. "You put it in a tree and sap comes out," she looks around. "Well, the right sort of tree,"

"Sap?" Finnick asks, just as confused as I am. I'm not particularly a tree expert.

"To make syrup," Peeta fills us in. "But there must be something else inside these trees,"

We're on our feet instantly. Our thirst might finally end. Finnick goes to a large tree and makes to hammer it in with a rock but I stop him. "Stop, you might damage it!" I tell him.

"She's right. We need to drill a hole first," Katniss adds.

There's nothing to drill with, so I offer her my thinnest knife and she drives it into the wood, Finnick and Peeta taking turns to open it up until it can hold the spile. At first, nothing happens. And then a small drop of water rolls down and lands on the ground.

By wiggling and adjusting the spile, we manage to create a small, steady stream of water. We take turns holding our mouths open under it, quenching our aching thirst, until I grab one of the baskets and fill it up, the grass woven so tightly it holds the water. We fill several up, taking turns to take big gulps, splashing our faces. It's warm, but refreshing nonetheless.

~

Finnick and I offer to take the first watch. Katniss and Peeta quickly lie down and soon fall asleep, leaving Finnick and I.

"I'm so glad I've found you again," he tells me after a couple of hours of idle chat, and I glance up from nonchalantly weaving grass to find him staring at me.

My cheeks warm and I tuck back an errant strand of hair behind my ear, suddenly self conscious. "I'm glad I've found you. You know, Finnick. Forgetting things about yourself is the worst thing. Other people remember you, your life...but you can't. You don't know where you come from, and I don't just mean which District. You don't know your friends or your family - what they looked like, what they sounded like. If you even had a family. You've just got a massive blank hole in your memory that's cloudy and dark," I tell him, not caring if the Gamemakers can here. They can show the whole of Panem or they can cut it from the viewing. I don't care. "But finding you again...you've brought a whole sense of clarity back to my life. You felt so familiar and safe but I didn't know how! But you did! And then somehow...so did I. Everything came flooding back at once and oh it hurt, Finnick, it really did. All the emotions you feel come back and hit you, hard. And although I am orphaned and have no real family, I'm not alone. I have you. I have Haymitch. And Cinna, and Effie, and Katniss, and Peeta, and Johanna. You're all there for me. And you're my family. I don't want to ever change that."

Finnick moves closer and presses his lips against mine. It's a soft and gentle kiss. And it leaves me breathless and almost hungry for more. "I love you, Vivianna Everly" he mumbles against my lips.

"I love you, too, Finnick Odair," I whisper, my eyes closed. He kisses me again.

The sound of a loud bell tolling rips us apart. Katniss shoots up, awake, Peeta sleeping through it.

"I counted twelve," Finnick says when it stops and I nod.

"Mean anything, do you think?" I ask them.

"No idea," Katniss shakes her head.

We wait for further instruction but find nothing. And then, a towering tree in the distance is hit by a blinding bolt of electricity, and then the lightning storm begins. It doesn't hit us.

"Go to sleep, Finnick, Anna," Katniss tells us. "It's my turn to watch, anyway,"

Finnick and I hesitate, but tiredness washes over us and we relent, lying down on one of the mats. Finnick has one hand grasped around a trident and the other around me and I fall asleep soundly against his chest.

~

I hear Katniss shouting and quickly I sit up, startled. There's a strange fog coming closer to us, fast. I leap to my feet, Finnick and Peeta following suit. I can see a blister beginning to form on Katniss's hand. The fog, I presume.

"Run!" Katniss screams. "Run!"

Finnick grabs my hand and we run, vines and leaves flying past in a blur of green as we race away from it. Still, it attacks us. The droplets fall and sear our skin, dissolving through our useless jumpsuits. I fling my head back and find Katniss and Peeta struggling. I halt and Finnick does too.

"Come on!" he yells to them, willing them to hurry up. He guides them with his voice. Then Peeta falls, his prosthetic leg tangled. Katniss hauls him up but it's not long before he stumbles again. Finnick races over and pulls him up with Katniss. The body of the fog is closing in on us, less than ten yards away. I see Finnick lift Peeta on to his back and then they start hurrying back to me.

I take initiative and lead, moving diagonally down the hill towards the water and Cornucopia. Water should help. When you're threatened, finding a source of water is vital. As I lead, I use one of my knives to cut down the vines in our way, but it's not long before I get sloppy, my body aching from the tendrils of fog gripping me, burning me. I end up missing the odd vine and cutting into myself slightly. They're not deep cuts, but they're painful enough, little pools of blood already beginning to discolour my jumpsuit.

I glance back. Katniss is stumbling and weak. Finnick's arms are barely working, only one of the three tridents remain, and it's in Peeta's arms. I carry on, almost screaming in pain but nothing comes out of my throat except a strangled cry of frustration. My body sears, my eyes sting and I can feel myself wanting just to sit down and cry. But I can't. I won't do that. I keep going and going until I stumble and fall to the ground. The energy to get up quickly vanishes and besides me I see Finnick fall forward, Peeta still on his back. And then Katniss trips over them. Finnick groans and Katniss pulls herself off of them.

We're going to die. I close my eyes.  


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