?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
These Are The Names, Chapter 14 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
These Are The Names, Chapter 14
After a strange, short, and violent Games, the wildly popular Finnick Odair has become a victor.

Just for fun, this is about how I imagine the crowds:



Chapter Fourteen
Security around Games headquarters is tripled when Finnick is brought back to the Training Center hospital to recover. I can't enter or leave without showing my badge at four checkpoints, and each building has a separate code.

I can't argue with the necessity of it. Finnick Odair's Games are not like the others, and there will be no decompression for anyone involved, at least not any time soon. Instead of interest moving on from the Games to the next fashion, passions about the Games are getting more intense. I've seen on television that Finnick's fans are absolutely wild. Fishing trips on the lake are booked for the first time since they started having them. Designers are working nets into all of their collections. The Gamemakers can barely keep up with public demand for more about the boy from Four -- they've been reduced to airing hour-long specials about his favorite foods and colors. Reporters pester Mags for quotes from Finnick and stories about his childhood. A producer promises a movie as soon as he can find someone decent to play the part. They keep showing shots of his hospital room window, though it would be impossible to see anyone not standing right there.

"I don't get it," Cecelia says in the Mentors' Lounge, where several of us gather the first night, waiting for Mags to come down with news of his condition. "He seems like an all right kid, and he's certainly beautiful, but no one's brought up anything interesting enough to hang a story on."

"Beauty makes you interesting," Jack says. "Sad fact of life, but it's true. People didn't know anything about me except the way I looked, but I ended up on Panem's Most Fascinating my year… and I've got nothing on Finnick Odair. He'll be number one on the list, easy, even if he opens his mouth and can't talk competently about anything other than fish."

His escort, Barnabas Laird, says, "You made the list because I worked my contacts. It got you good sponsors."

"Did you read the article?" Jack asks. "It covered the vital questions of my hair care regime and what kinds of make-up I might like to try, now that I can afford it. And of course, the ever present questions about my ideal girl."

Beetee sighs. "It's never made sense to me."

"Human nature," Haymitch says, shrugging. "If you're waiting for that to change, better be prepared to sit a spell."

Mags comes down a few minutes later. Finnick isn't in bad shape physically -- the usual dehydration, a few cuts and scrapes -- but he's withdrawn and jumpy. Since they want him to be "natural" with the cameras, they're going to send in a counselor and give him a week.

"A week to recover from killing half the field," Cecelia muses. "How generous."

"He'll be okay," Mags says. "He knows what the Games are. He didn't want to play, but they weren't going to let him sit it out." She sits down. "That's what the trident was really for, you know. There wasn't anything he could do with it that he couldn't do with the spear he already had. But when he was little, he used to talk to me about the Games, and what he'd do if he got reaped. You know, the kind of thing all the kids do -- "

"Maybe in Career districts," Cecelia interrupts.

"Maybe," Mags says. "I don't know. I know that it's common enough in Four. I didn't think much of it. Anyway, he was fishing from my dock when he was about nine, just starting to think about being eligible for reaping. He was always good with the trident, and he killed a good number of fish. He said that's what he'd do in the arena. Just like fishing."

"So why didn't he do it with the spear?" I ask.

Haymitch looks at me. "My brother used to make traps for me to break out of, and he'd ask how I'd get away from someone in the arena. I always had an answer. But it's different when you're really there. It's one thing to say, 'Yeah, I'd take them out and get away.' It's something else to stick a knife into a kid's neck."

"Exactly," Mags says. "I sent him the trident to remind him what he said… and to give him permission to do it. So he'd know I wouldn't hate him, and his parents wouldn't hate him."

"There'll be other parents who will," Beetee points out.

"Aren't there always?" Mags raises an eyebrow at him. "I don't remember people being overly fond of you after you electrocuted boys you didn't even try to fight."

"I never could have beaten them. I was sixteen, but I was small."

"So's Finnick. If he'd wasted time trying to take them on even ground, someone else would be upstairs recovering right now, and you know it."

No one argues with this point.

"So," Jack says, "how should we welcome our new club member?"

They joke in a desultory way for a while about hazing rituals that will never happen (new victors are not generally in any fit state to be hazed; that will wait a while if it happens at all), then we all head upstairs to sleep.

I go home the next day, meaning to commute back and forth since Haymitch has decided to take meetings with Plutarch Heavensbee after all, and there's no reason for me to stay on the grounds. In fact, there's no reason for me to commute routinely, since I'm only on call -- available if Haymitch needs me to take care of something for him. I could go back to my apartment, do some end-of-Games paperwork, and set up meetings for Haymitch all in the comfort of my own breakfast nook. I usually come in two or three times to make sure he has what he needs for sponsor meetings, but otherwise start to decompress and pull away from the Games. It's what I've done every year since the first.

Getting out of headquarters and going home is a nightmare. Crowds throng in the streets, hoping to get a view of Finnick at a hospital window. Many young girls (and some not terribly young girls) are carrying homemade signs proposing marriage and declaring their eternal love. When one girl thinks she catches a glimpse of red hair at an upper window, she actually faints. Girls around her scream Finnick's name wildly. The news covers this extensively. They call themselves "Fannicks," and they are repeatedly interviewed about their passionate arguments over Finnick's best moment in the Games, and who loves him the most.

It takes me forty minutes to get through the tightly-packed crowd, and it's all the Peacekeepers can do to hold them back from storming the plaza. By the time I catch a cab back to my apartment, I know that my only options are staying home and not coming back at all, or staying in the Training Center apartment until the Games are over. I opt for the latter. I don't want to navigate that crowd again if there's an emergency. I pack several days' worth of clothes and supplies and brace myself to get back in.

It's even worse coming back, since people recognize me and actually try to snag my badge when I present it to the guards. I almost scream when several of them tear at my wig, and the world goes glassy and fragile around me. The Peacekeepers have to pull them off me and escort me behind the line. When I get in, my hair is askew and my clothes are wrinkled and even torn in a few places. I take a few minutes to catch my breath and let my heart slow down. I'm glad for the relative peace of the elevator up to the apartment, though its glass sides do give me a particularly disturbing view of the crowd I just came through, which is two blocks deep around headquarters in every direction.

"Moving in?" Haymitch asks when I drop my things inside.

"I decided it would be easier," I say.

He takes in my appearance. "What happened to you?"

"Did you see the crowd?"

He goes to the window and looks out. "Wow," he says. "I suddenly feel anonymous. No wonder Plutarch decided to have our meetings at headquarters. He's probably staying here, too."

"So you met with him?"

"Yeah. I doubt we're going to see an underground arena for a long time. There's no way that they're just conceptualizing for next year. Next year's arena's probably done except for the mutts. I think that was a carrot-and-stick thing. See if he could tempt me to meet with him by implying that there'd be clues."

"Oh."

"And I'm not helping them build an arena."

"I told him you wouldn't want to."

"They'd have to come up with a whole new delivery system for the sponsor gifts. Underground, I mean. You could have mine shafts coming down for parachutes to go through, but you couldn't know that tributes would be anywhere near them… unless there were so many that there wouldn't be much point to being underground. They'd have to have something like false walls that you put things on conveyor belts for, and a system for doors or something to open up at any point on the path."

"Water would be hard, too."

"In a mine, yeah. But if they just did a cave, you could have a clean underground lake. Maybe a river. The lighting would be hard, but they always fake the lighting anyway." He bites his lip, and I remember Mr. Heavensbee saying, Haymitch would love to try his hand at making an arena. He just won't admit it. I still don't believe Haymitch would want to build anything to help kill tributes… but his brain just can't help turning over the problems. He catches me looking at him, and says, defensively, "I didn't say any of that to Plutarch. Though I guess with the bugs, he just heard it anyway." He looks up at the ceiling. "Congratulations, Plutarch! You're the first Gamemaker to trick me into playing the damned game."

"Have you already started drinking?"

"A little bit."

"I wish you'd stop. You're too smart for that."

"I wish you'd stop wearing that ridiculous make-up and those silly wigs. We all have wishes."

"Well, you heard what Jack said last night -- beauty makes you interesting."

"In that case, you'd be a thousand percent more interesting if you let people see your real face."

"So would you."

He looks at me shrewdly, then goes back to the window. "I guess Chaff and I won't be playing chess in the park this year. Think they'll get us cars to go to sponsor meetings, instead of having to walk through that mess?"

"I'll see about it," I promise.

We spend the rest of the day not doing much at all. Since he doesn't want to brave the crowd to go shopping, I help him buy some clothes for the year over the city networks, to be delivered to him out in Twelve. We go down to the lounge, where he and Chaff attempt to teach me to play chess, but I'm lost, and end up wandering over to the spa, where Seeder and I have manicures. I get her to tell me a little bit about District Eleven, where the earth is red and people can easily go without coats most of the winter. ("And generally go uneasily without them for the rest of it," she mutters). She tells me about funny men and women who wander the fields, talking about retribution and atonement. I tell her about the men here who wear hair shirts and slap themselves in the face at the lake shore. She asks why I didn't stay home like the rest of the escorts. I can't think of a good answer.

Mags comes downstairs for a while, and Haymitch and Chaff go up to sit with Finnick. Cecelia rolls her eyes and says someone should go up and make sure they're not getting him drunk. When they come down so Finnick can get some sleep, Beetee goes up to keep an eye on him.

"Is this what you usually do when I go home?" I ask Haymitch as we go back up to the apartment for dinner.

"Mostly." He leans against the wall. "It can get scary waking up in the hospital. We all know it. Chaff and Seeder and Beetee were with me."

"What about your mentor?"

"I didn't even know Drake was my friend until the Victory Tour. And even then, I wasn't sure."

The elevator door opens. I go straight to the table and order up a couple of meals. "Does Finnick know what's going on outside?"

Haymitch nods. "He's got a television in there. I don't think he's really absorbing it, though. He's still pretty out of it." He goes to the bar and pours himself a drink.

He continues drinking through the evening, getting progressively drunker as we watch television on the couch. He's sober enough at first to poke fun at the Fannicks, but as coverage moves on to a marathon of Nero the Fiddler (a soap opera about a composer trying to make a splash, and his misadventures with assorted friends and lovers), he becomes first maudlin, then weirdly sentimental.

He's not a particularly mean drunk -- in fact, the only times I've seen him be genuinely cruel, he's been stone sober -- but he does keep trying to hug and kiss me until I tell him that if I have to move his hands one more time, I'm going to brave the crowd and go home. He makes a great show of sitting on his hands for the next half hour, then passes out and sleeps through the night. I put a blanket over him, and let myself kiss his cheek. He smiles in his sleep.

I don't have anything to do, so I go to his room and borrow one of his books. I take it back to my room to read. It's a locked room mystery, nothing anyone would object to. He probably only bought it because it takes place in District Twelve, though the writer is a Capitolite, of course. Haymitch likes to read this sort of thing mostly so he can complain about it, as far as I can tell. In the story, a dead miner is found alone in a chamber after a cave in, stabbed in the back. They've been digging for two weeks, but he's only been dead for a few hours. No one could have come or gone. I try to guess it. The simple answer -- that he rigged the knife somehow and fell backward onto it in order to frame an enemy -- seems too easy, and I guess it must be something else, but I can't figure it out. The bulk of the book is the detective Peacekeeper, with his slow-witted but trustworthy miner sidekick, interviewing everyone the dead man ever met.

This one is obviously fully approved by all of the authorities. I think it's even sold here in the Capitol. I suspect that Haymitch collects books that aren't approved, but he'd never show them to me, let alone bring them here. I sometimes wonder what's in those books that makes them dangerous, but I know better than to go looking. Like Miss Meadowbrook says, there are some doors it's better not to open, because you'll never get them closed again.

I read until I drift off, and dream that I'm the sidekick miner, and Haymitch is the detective. He's determined that somehow, the Gamemakers did it. I try to explain that there are no Gamemakers in the book, but he won't listen. He says they are planning on feeding the dead man to the Fannicks, which will magically calm them down in some way.

He's still passed out when I go out to get breakfast in the morning, but he's passed out in a new place (the love seat), so I guess he got up at some point. He's holding a knife in one hand. I decide it's probably better not to shock him awake.

I decide to go to the hospital and see if anyone needs anything.

Jack is in with Finnick (though I can see through the door that both of them are sleeping), and Mags is sitting at a little table in the corner of the waiting area, breathing in the fumes from her empty coffee cup.

"Can I get you another?" I ask.

"Thank you," she says, holding the cup up. I go down the hall and re-fill it, and get one for myself as well. By the time I get back, Jack has woken up and is walking blearily toward the table. I hand him my coffee and go back to get another.

"…and extra guards," Mags is saying quietly when I return. "Every exit. The whole entrance area downstairs. They're vetting the staff, too."

"About what?" I ask.

"Someone leaked footage," Mags says. "It was on this morning. Nothing terrible -- just Finnick washing up -- but it means someone's in here with an unauthorized camera."

"Or an authorized one," Jack mutters. "Could be surveillance footage. We know they have cameras in the training room to keep tabs on tributes. Why not the hospital?"

"Which is why they're vetting Games staff," Mags says, then looks at me. "Not you, honey, they know you've been upstairs. Hospital people. Security staff." She laughs humorlessly. "We have to secure the security staff."

"Will he be safe back in Four?" I ask.

"Oh, his parents are as good with tridents as he is," she says. "And frankly, I've kept up with my slingshot. I think we can keep him reasonably sheltered for a little while."

A nurse with a cart of meds goes by us. He turns into Finnick's room.

"Keep him sheltered as long as you can," Jack says. "Mags, it's going to be ugly if these people get their hands on him."

"That was supposed to be over." Mags crushes her empty coffee cup and tosses it into a wastebasket. "Years ago. Jack, you shouldn't let them."

"I extracted some privileges in the trade," he says. "It's been made clear that I'll lose them -- possibly in an irrevocable way -- if I don't hold up my end of the bargain."

I think about Jack's Games, about the way he and his friend took solace in each other. And I think of the women he now squires around the Capitol.

I try not to understand the trade he's talking about.

There is a sudden clatter from Finnick's room, followed by a scream of revulsion.

"Get off me! GET OFF!"

We drop our conversation and run inside.

The nurse is crouching under the window, his hands raised above his head in supplication. Finnick has grabbed one of the dozens of flower vases in the room and is holding it like a club. They're both breathing hard -- the nurse in terror, Finnick in fury. It's the first I've seen of him outside the arena. Most of the kids are pretty wasted when they get back, just from the privations of the arena, but Finnick ate and drank well, and wasn't in the arena very long. He looks just like he did at the parade, except murderously angry.

"What is this?" Mags demands. She takes the vase from Finnick, but doesn't show any signs of letting go of it herself. She insinuates herself between them.

"I only wanted to see him," the nurse says. "I'm an artist. I've been drawing from memory. I had to sneak in. My sister works here. I borrowed her uniform. I just had to look at him!"

"Yeah, well, apparently he's blind, then," Finnick tells Mags, "since he was looking at me with his fingers, in places I better not find out he's been drawing."

Jack grabs the man off the floor and shoves him into the wall. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"He's just so beautiful. I was just going to look. I swear I was just going to look!"

Jack shakes him and bangs his head into the wall again. And again. He collapses, semi-conscious.

The guards finally show up.

"Guess you'll be arresting me for assaulting a Capitol citizen," Jack says, offering up his wrists for cuffs as the attacker is dragged away.

The Peacekeeper in charge, not bothering to hide his disgust as he glares after the arrested man, says, "You know, this once, I'll let it slide." He grimaces. "I have a sister who's fourteen years old. If it were her, it wouldn't be the guy's head I'd smash into oblivion."

He leaves.

Finnick goes back to bed. He grimaces and fumes, but definitely doesn't look withdrawn.

"Are you all right?" Mags asks.

He rolls his eyes. "I've dealt with grabby old people before," he says. "Remember Duffy Monahan? She had more hands than your average octopus." Suddenly, his surly expression breaks, and he smiles. On camera, it would look good, I'm sure. In here, I can still see him with the vase raised above his attacker's head… or a trident raised against his fellow tributes. He strikes a pose. "What can I say? I'm cursed with irresistible beauty."

Jack shakes his head. "That was an attack, Finnick, not a flirt."

"I know. But… you know. I can deal. I'm good." He shrugs. "I guess that settles the question, though."

"What question?" I ask.

"Well… I wasn't sure I'd be able to fight anymore," he says. "You know. After… after what I did. In there. I guess I can still fight enough."

"That's good," Mags says. "Because you're going to have some fights coming up."

He looks out the window at the mountains. "If I give them what they want -- if I give them a good show, and I tell jokes… they'll let me go home, right? The counselor they had in yesterday kept saying I was supposed to get back to normal before the closing events."

"I think that's the idea," Mags tells him.

"Then I'll work on it. I'll make sure I can keep it up for a while. Can I wave to the crowd?"

"What?" Mags asks.

"The crowd. The" -- he winces -- "the Fannicks. Can I wave to them? Then they can all see that I'm all right. And we can get this over with, and I can go home."

"I don't think that's a good idea," Jack says cautiously.

Mags weighs her options. "Try it," she says. "We're safe up here, so if… well, they can't very well climb the building to wave back."

Finnick gets out of bed and goes to the window. We're high up and behind thick glass, so I can't actually hear the crowd, but when he raises his hand and waves to them, they all rush toward the Peacekeepers' restraining line, waving frantically and blowing kisses. Finnick blows one back.

Jack yanks him away from the window. "Don't push it. You don't want them thinking of you kissing them."

Finnick rolls his eyes. "Oh, come on. It's an air kiss. I've been tossing them around since I was four."

"I mean it."

Finnick studies Jack's face for a minute, then holds his hands up in surrender. "Okay, fine. No kisses."

This seems to be it. Finnick keeps up his manic good cheer for ten minutes, then seems to sag. He goes back to bed. Mags stays with him. Jack and I go down to the lounge and meet Haymitch and Beetee for breakfast.

At around ten, the news anchor starts teasing "exciting developments" about Finnick, with exclusive footage. At the noon news hour, surveillance footage from the hospital comes on, showing the entire attack, and Finnick's violent, immediate response.

The Fannicks are furious, crying in rage on the street that anyone would dare to hurt him. They want the man -- now identified as "Portraitist Licinius Blythe" -- to suffer.

Before the afternoon is half over, he has. An angry mob crashes into his studio, destroys his artwork, and breaks the bones in his hands.

I am in the waiting area with Seeder and Mags when this happens. Finnick comes out of his room, looking pale. Mags goes to him and puts her arms around him.

He makes no more appearances at his window, and is excruciatingly cautious through all of his closing interviews. He's careful to praise all of his fellow tributes and their brave, mourning families. He explains that passions get high in the Games, and no harm was meant by any of the things he hears them say on the final release of the Games. He thanks Peacekeepers. He thanks Gamemakers. He thanks every victor he can list, and the people of District Four, and the escort from Four, and me. The persona he adopts otherwise is carefree and good-humored, with just an edge of flirting that he seems totally unable to control, no matter how many times Jack tells him to stop it.

At the end of the final interview, Caesar asks him, "If you could say one thing to your many fans -- and I promise, you can! -- what would it be?"

"Well, they already know I love them, right?" he says. "So I guess I'd say… thanks for, um…" -- he loses the thread and settles for just smiling for a minute (a split screen shows girls sighing in ecstasy) -- "… for caring," he finally comes up with. "Thanks for caring about me, and now you should take care of yourselves."

This is parsed by several analysts while the trains are loaded.

I go down to the station with Haymitch, and get him settled in the cold car between Treeza and Chicory. I can see the three open wounds in Chicory's neck.

"They've already forgotten that these two ever existed," Haymitch says.

I don't have an answer for this. I just kiss his cheek and squeeze his hand. I ask him to put his phone back so I can reach him if I have to, and he ignores me. I tell him that I'll see him next summer, like always.

But the strangeness of these Games isn't over yet, and I end up seeing him a good deal sooner.
14 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 14th, 2014 10:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Ahh this was absolutely perfect - love the Fannicks! I'm picturing them all going home to write Finnick fanfic now!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 14th, 2014 02:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, yeah. You know that happens every year, but with Finnick, the scale is likely epic.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 15th, 2014 08:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I know it's early for a challenge call, but now I really want to see your take on a Finnick fanfic story!
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 14th, 2014 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Haymitch's D12 murder mystery

Don't keep us in suspense -- who murdered the miner, and how?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 14th, 2014 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Haymitch's D12 murder mystery

Well, it's not the cleverest of mysteries -- Effie got the "how" right on her first guess. He rigged the knife and fell on it. The reason was to frame the poor, innocent Capitol liaison whose only crime was having an affair with the miner's wife (and really, who could blame her?). There's a secondary theme about how he was agitating to get more money by pretending the mines were unsafe, which he was also going to pin on the liaison.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: June 15th, 2014 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)

A Couple Of Catches

I'll definitely be back with a proper comment tomorrow, but today has been insane, and I wanted to point these out so you could go ahead and archive:

hair at in an upper Think either the at or in is superfluous here, depending on how you want to structure the sentence.
That's was an Think the that's should be that.







n
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 15th, 2014 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Couple Of Catches

Thanks!
redrikki From: redrikki Date: June 16th, 2014 12:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I know I should be more disturbed by the creepy sexualization of poor Finnick and the fact that Effie now knows what's happening to Jack and chooses to ignore it, but I am too amused by Nero the Fiddler to comment on anything else. Do you think anyone in the Capitol gets the joke?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 16th, 2014 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I suspect it's produced by a closet rebel who's laughing up his sleeve at his fellow Capitolites. :P
sonetka From: sonetka Date: June 16th, 2014 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)
"Fannicks" is far too real to be comfortable. Not to get too morbid, but -- did they really hold off until he was sixteen? That was one thing that always puzzled me about the original books: "Sure, we're fine with enslaving a populace, terrorizing them into groupthink, ritually murdering 23 people a year, prostituting the survivors and making everyone watch the whole thing on TV but GOD FORBID anyone lay a finger on a fifteen-year-old!"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 16th, 2014 12:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I figure that Katniss's "waited one or two years" is probably literal -- Finnick can only be in the Capitol during the Games. So if he refused during his first re-visit, they'd then do something during the following year that would make it an offer he can't refuse the next year, or the next, etc. They might leave him alone that first year, so the public eye is taken off him just a little bit before they start really messing with him.

The Fannicks are probably not the ones who develop into his, um, patrons. They're more like the groupies Haymitch dealt with, except in swarm mode. They could be dangerous in terms of acts of spontaneous violence against him (a constant danger of celebrities, I'd think), but probably not the long-term, calculated abuse that he goes through. (They might even react violently against said patrons if they found out about them. Like, if Finnick were to, I don't know, go on national television and tell them exactly what had been done to him.)

Edited at 2014-06-16 12:49 am (UTC)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: June 16th, 2014 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
I shouldn't have run that all into one paragraph, since I can't imagine any of the Fannicks ever getting with him. They probably didn't have the money, plus in their imagination they just happened to encounter him and he was bowled over by their previously-hidden beauty, or something like that. There really isn't any place in that fantasy for handing over your credit card to a government agent. And oh yes, I bet they were PISSED.

From: (Anonymous) Date: June 16th, 2014 08:27 am (UTC) (Link)

actually liking effie

Loving this backstory. I have never really gotten into the Haymitch/Effie thing, but reading how their relationship developed and evolved is so fascinating to me. It adds another level to the story.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 16th, 2014 06:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: actually liking effie

Neither one of these people is the sort I'm inclined to like -- a grouchy drunk and a flighty fashionista aren't really types I'm drawn to. But I loved the way they came out in the books, and Haymitch has felt like a really comfortable head to live in for me (I'm not sure what that says about me, exactly). And, while I didn't come out of the books saying, "OOOOO! HAYFFIE!" as soon as someone mentioned it and I got the notion in my head, something almost never happens to me with shipping happened. I said, "You know... that sort of makes a whole lot of emotional sense. I'm going there." :D
14 comments or Leave a comment