Chapter 34

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  I open my eyes to be blinded by white. I blink fast to adjust but it hurts. My head hurts. My throat hurts. My arms, chest, legs all hurt. I sit up and my head spins, disorientating me even more than I already am until it stops swimming and I take a look at my surroundings.

I'm in a small room - and everything is white; bare white walls, pristine white carpet, pure white bed sheets...and white roses in a white vase on the small dresser. I instantly recoil back on the bed, as far away from the roses as I can. And then the smell hits me. Blood and roses, snaking up my nose and circling around my brain and dizzying me.

Snow.

I cross swiftly to the door, eager to escape but it's locked and I cry out in frustration, but my voice won't work. I fling my hand up to my throat and it's sore to touch...and then I remember.

The Arena. Beetee's plan. Johanna and Katniss. The wire snapping. Brutus's attack, strangling me. Trying to find Finnick. . . oh, Finnick! I squeeze my eyes shut at the thought and can feel the tears prickling behind my eyelids.

What happened in that Arena? Did I win? Surely not against everyone else. Is everyone else here? Safe? Alive?

I sit back on the edge of the bed, head in the palm of my hands and I begin to sob loudly. A mere ten minutes ago to me, I was in an arena with the people that I loved, sure, I was fighting to the death, but I was surrounded by people I care for and who care for me...and now I'm in Snow's lair - for unknown reasons that scare me.

"Ah, you're awake," I fling my neck up, startled by the sudden intrusion - I never even heard the door unlock or open. Snow is standing before me and I stand up quickly, backing up to the edge of the room, as far away from this snake as possible. "I was wondering if you ever would."

"Don't sound so hopeful," I croak out but my tone is still sharp and sarcastic. "What am I doing here?"

He sits down on the bed where I sat a few moments ago and smiles menacingly. "You are my prisoner," he says simply.

"Prisoner?!" I echo incredulously.

He nods. "You see, after your little friend from District 12 blew up my force field-" Blew up a force field? "there was chaos. The Capitol was outraged that the Games suddenly...stopped. That wretched girl was taken by the rebels District 13-" District 13?? "And so was your...boyfriend."

"Finnick?" I breathe out. He's safe - I hope. But he's not here. He's far away from me. In District 13? I had always thought it was a barren wasteland of a District for countless years, but now suddenly it's an operating District?

"But they left you behind. And now you're here. And we will find out what you know, Miss Everly," he tells me threateningly, narrowing his eyes.

"I don't know anything," I say truthfully. Rebels of 13? Did Finnick know about this? Is that why he was saved? Why didn't he tell me? Haymitch...Haymitch knew. That's why he made sure we were all allies. So they could save Katniss and Peeta. That's why they were acting strange. Johanna must have known, too.

"Come now, let's not lie to each other, Miss Everly. You were close to Finnick Odair and Haymitch Abernathy, of course they told you their plans. And I will find them out. Make no mistake of that," he turns his head to the open door, where two Peacekeepers are lining each side of the door. "Take her away."

The Peacekeepers rush in and grab me roughly by the arms lifting me up and begin to drag me out of the door.

"Get off me!" I scream at them but they simply continue, gripping me tighter. As I'm led out of the door, I fling my head back to Snow, who sits on the bed smiling contently. "He'll come for me!" I scream at him. "And he'll kill you!"

"Goodbye for now, Miss Everly," he calls back to me simply.

~

- Finnick's P.O.V -

I'm sat at a table with Plutarch and Haymitch. There's food in front of me and despite the fact I haven't had a full meal in several days, I have no appetite. My stomach is sick with worry. I failed Anna. My Anna, who's now trapped in the grasp of the Capitol...of Snow. They'll hurt her...torture her...because I failed to get to her. To keep her safe. I promised myself that I'd protect her with my life, and I've let her down.

"Communications are down in Seven, Ten, and Twelve. But Eleven has control of transportation now, so there's at least a hope of them getting some food out." Plutarch says, but I don't care for his words.

"And what about Anna? Can I go and get her?" I ask him, clenching my fist tight.

"No, I'm sorry. There's no way I can get you to the Capitol. But as soon as we can, we'll send a rescue team in for Vivianna as well as Johanna and Peeta. It's the best I can do, Finnick." he tells me with a sad smile and I get angry.

"That's not good enough!" I exclaim, slamming my hand down on the table. "Snow will torture her! Surely I can go and save her - or - or make a bargain for her return with Snow?"

"Don't be stupid. That's the worst thing you could do. Get her killed for sure. As long as you're alive, they'll keep her alive for bait," says Haymitch. "Don't you think I want her safe, too? We'll do whatever we can to make sure she stays alive."

In my head, I know he's right, and he looks just as torn about it as I do. The two people who love Anna the most, and now we're stuck here, safe, together...and she's there. I blink away the tears just as the door opens and a disheveled looking Katniss enters with her hospital gown still on.

"Done knocking yourself out, sweetheart?" says Haymitch, the annoyance clear in his voice. As she careens forward he steps up and catches her wrists, steadying her. He looks down at her hand and I see a hospital syringe clasped tight in it. "So it's you and a syringe against the Capitol? See, this is why no one lets you make the plans. Drop it." Haymitch seems to put pressure on her wrist and she eventually releases the syringe and lets it clatter to the floor before he takes a chair next to me.

Plutarch puts a bowl of broth and a roll in front of her and slips a spoon into her hand and I watch her. "Eat," he says in a much kinder voice than Haymitch.

Haymitch leans forward in his chair. "Katniss, I'm going to explain what happened. I don't want you to ask any questions until I'm through. Do you understand?" she nods numbly.

He explains that there was a plan to break us all out of the arena from the moment the Quell was announced. The victor tributes from 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 11 had varying degrees of knowledge about it. Plutarch Heavensbee has been, for several years, part of an undercover group aiming to overthrow the Capitol. He made sure the wire was among the weapons. Beetee was in charge of blowing a hole in the force field. The bread we received in the arena was code for the time of the rescue. The district where the bread originated indicated the day. Three. The number of rolls the hour. Twenty-four. The hovercraft belongs to District 13. And that we are currently on a very roundabout journey to District 13. Meanwhile, however, most of the districts in Panem are in full-scale rebellion.

"You didn't tell me." Katniss says, and her voice is as rough as my own.

"Neither you nor Peeta or Vivianna were told. We couldn't risk it," says Plutarch. "I was even worried you might mention my indiscretion with the watch during the Games." He pulls out his pocket watch and runs his thumb across the crystal, lighting up the mockingjay. "Of course, when I showed you this, I was merely tipping you off about the arena. As a mentor. I thought it might be a first step toward gaining your trust. I never dreamed you'd be a tribute again."

"I still don't understand why Peeta, Anna and I weren't let in on the plan," she says.

"Because once the force field blew, you'd be the first ones they'd try to capture, and the less you knew, the better," says Haymitch, who then takes a deep breath. "And Anna didn't know because she's been through a lot, we didn't want to burden her. Besides, her family has history with Snow, he would expect her to be a part of the rebellion."

"The first ones? Why?" Katniss asks.

"For the same reason the rest of us agreed to die to keep you alive," I tell her.

"No, Johanna tried to kill me," she argues.

"Johanna knocked you out to cut the tracker from your arm and lead Brutus and Enobaria away from you," says Haymitch.

"What? I don't know what you're—"

"We had to save you because you're the mockingjay, Katniss," says Plutarch. "While you live, the revolution lives." It seems like everything clicks in her head.

"Peeta," she whispers.

"The others kept Peeta alive because if he died, we knew there'd be no keeping you in an alliance," says Haymitch. "And we couldn't risk leaving you unprotected." His words are matter-of-fact, his expression unchanged, but he can't hide the tinge of gray that colors his face and the distraught look in his eyes.

"Where is Peeta?" she hisses at him.

"He was picked up by the Capitol along with Johanna and Enobaria...and Vivianna," says Haymitch dropping his gaze. And then suddenly, Katniss lunges across the table and rakes her fingernails down Haymitch's face, causing blood to flow and damage to one eye. Then they both begin screaming terrible, terrible things at each other. I spring up and attempt to drag Katniss away, but she fights back until other people help me drag her back to her table in the infirmary, her body restrained, wrists tied down. As I step back and set myself down on the next bed, she slams her head in fury again and again against the table. A needle is inserted in her arm and eventually she stops fighting and wails in a horrible, dying-animal way, until her voice gives out.

"Katniss. Katniss, I'm sorry." I tell her quietly. "I wanted to go back for him and Johanna. I wanted to save Anna....but I couldn't reach her in time. I lost her, Katniss. I failed them all. It's better for him than Johanna and Anna. They'll figure out he doesn't know anything pretty fast. And they won't kill him if they think they can use him against you."

"Like bait?" Katniss says to the ceiling. "Like how they'll use Anna as bait?"

"Maybe. But...A-Anna, they'll hurt her more than Peeta, Katniss, they'll torture her. They could k-kill her, like her parents." I tell her, my voice dropping to a low whisper at the end and once again my eyes flood with tears, threatening to take the dive over the edge and down my cheeks. I grip the edge of the bed so tight my knuckles turn alabaster white.

Katniss says nothing, just stares at the silver ceiling.

"I wish she was dead," I say, biting my lip to keep myself together. "I wish they were all dead and we were, too. It would be best."

And then I leave.

~

- Vivianna's P.O.V -

Agony. Pure and utter agony was seeping into my bones and sent the floor hurtling up to my head in a painful collision - or maybe I tumbled to the floor - I can't tell what's real and what's fake anymore. All I can feel is agony.

"Now, I'm going to ask you again," a man dressed in white by the door tells me condescendingly. "What do you know about the rebellion?"

I'm panting on the floor, staring up at him, wrists bound, legs bound, heart racing. "Nothing!" I scream at him. "I know nothing!" I tell him earnestly but he sighs and flicks a device in my hand.

The little circular grey pads stuck to my skin beep and then a new wave of electricity courses through me, sending me into another fit of screams, writhing around on the floor. It seems to go on and on and on and I can't tell if the ringing in my ears is from the pain or my screams anymore. And then it stops and the pain subsides a little, but it still remains, pulsing through me.

The man comes forward and crouches down to my level, his white boots at eye level. "What do you know?" he demands again.

"I don't know anything!" I sob, tears streaming down my face. "Please, please, I don't know anything, they didn't tell me anything!"

"We find it very disappointing that you're unwilling to cooperate with us, Miss Everly," he tells me and I want to lash out and hit him, but the shackles around my wrist stop me. He shows me the small device in his hand that controls the torture level.

And then he turns it to full power.  


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