FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,
FernWithy
fernwithy

These Are The Names, Chapter 20

Effie is having a hard time with the female tribute, Butterfly Skaggs, who hates everything about her and is resistant to everything she has to say. The male tribute, River Boldwood, is kind, but doesn't catch on to things very quickly.

Chapter Twenty
Butterfly manages something like civility at breakfast, and even asks me at one point if the way she's eating will be offensive if the cameras catch her in training. Since she's managing knife and fork and not gulping her juice, I tell her that it's fine. She's taken a black felt pen and drawn a feather on her forearm, so people will remember her from the parade.

I doubt they'll remember it, since hardly anyone saw her and the cameras didn't focus on the feather, but I decide it would be gracious not to mention that.

Haymitch gives his usual speech about not giving away too much at training. Butterfly allows that she's a good hand-to-hand fighter (Haymitch advises her to stay away from the inner district kids, no matter how good she thinks she is), and River, after much thought, says that he can run faster than most of the boys in his year, and that he's pretty strong. "Not the strongest, though," he admits sadly. "Jonadab Mellark's almost two years younger than me, and he can already pin everyone in recess. Bet he could win."

Haymitch blanches, and I realize that the boy in question is one of Danny's. Fourteen, maybe fifteen. His name has been in the bowl for two years now. I wonder if the other two have aged in yet. I don't know how old they are.

"Let's worry about you right now," Haymitch says. "I've heard the Mellark boys are strong, but if a younger kid can beat you, let's keep you out of close contact."

"What about… allies?" Butterfly asks, putting a strange emphasis on the final word. "Who are our allies?"

Haymitch looks at her steadily for a long time, then says, "You don't have allies yet. You have to make them at training. If you want my advice, I'd tell you to stick with District Eleven -- Chaff and Seeder are good mentors, and find a way to get materials to their tributes. District Three -- "

"Three?"

"Yes, three. Beetee and Wiress will teach them to be clever, as much as they can. And according to Effie, Finnick Odair thinks the girl from Seven is worth allying with."

"The sick one?" Butterfly doesn't argue, but she looks less than enthusiastic. "Anyone else? I mean, I don't watch the Games very carefully. Do we have any… traditional allies? The way the Careers are always allies?"

"No. We don't often get far enough to have allies."

"Did you have any? I mean, other than the merchant girl."

"Eleven and Three," Haymitch says. "Though we never managed to meet up. Luckily, we'd signed some papers before the Games, so the Gamemakers knew we were allies."

I raise my eyebrow. The fiction that Haymitch had just missed a connection with planned allies is a more or less open lie, and I wonder why he bothers to perpetuate it at this late date.

He shrugs. I remind him that he has to meet with his fan club at the library this morning, because the president, Erastus, has managed to bring together several popular (and wealthy) authors who might sponsor us, in order to finally get the book group he says he's always wanted. (Both tributes look shocked by this kind of activity.) Haymitch grumbles about how terrible the authors in question are, but he never turns down a library trip, which is why I told Erastus to hold the meeting there.

We finish breakfast and I take the children downstairs for training. This isn't strictly necessary, but it's become my habit. Some take it in better grace than others. Butterfly barely tolerates it, and practically runs into the training room. She goes straight to Seeder's tribute, a pretty fourteen-year-old named Aster. River looks at me, wide-eyed. "It's okay to just run in like that?"

"Of course it is. You find someone nice to train with."

He looks around, holding the elevator door open. Johanna Mason is sitting miserably in a corner, looking like she's spent the night crying. River looks back at me. "You reckon she's nice?"

"I'm sure she is. You go on over and ask her to practice with you. I bet she will."

He takes a deep breath and goes over to her. She seems surprised that anyone's talking to her, but before the door closes, I see her start to show him how to light a fire.

When I get back upstairs, most of the mentors and escorts -- along with a few stylists -- are in the lounge, watching the silent screens where the camera feeds come in. Jack is sitting on the arm of a chair, watching intently.

"Is she all right?" I ask.

He looks over his shoulder. "She'll be all right with him. She had a brother like him -- you know…" Jack fumbles for a minute. "Not entirely… Well, they didn't give him complicated jobs. Johanna used to look after him. He died with their parents. Wildfire last fall."

"The poor thing. She must miss them terribly. I know Haymitch misses his family."

"Yeah, well. It's no wonder Jo got sick. She's been trying to log her father's quota all year."

"She doesn't live in the community home?"

"She likes the camps better. Can't say I blame her. The paper mill stinks." He shrugs. "I knew her a little bit from trips out to the camps -- I teach them to draw when I get too bored in Victors' Village and Linden's about ready to kill me -- and I liked her all right, but I sat up with her last night while they purged her. Got the whole life story. She's something."

"Purged her?"

"I don't know exactly how it works, but they put some kind of super-immunity boost in. It just about burned her up, her fever was so high, but it got the last of the flu out of her. A few people in her camp died this spring."

"Oh, that's horrible!"

"Yeah? Well, that's life in District Seven. Sometimes the flu comes, and sometimes, it takes good people with it when it leaves."

"I'm sorry."

"Anyway, they told her she'd pretty much be healthy until she dies. That's not what they said, of course. They said the super antibodies will last two months. But Jo's not stupid. She understands the subtext." He smiles. "Unless Finnick's right."

"Where is Finnick?"

"Breakfast date. Wouldn't want to miss any good socializing time, and how useful are mentors during training, anyway?" He grimaces.

We watch our tributes train together for a few minutes, then Haymitch comes in from the library. He has some sponsorships for me to process -- I sit down at a nearby work station and listen in while I enter the information -- and grumbles that getting through the dreck he was supposed to have been reading was the hardest money he'd made. Then he looks at Jack, ashamed, and looks away.

"Who'd you have to kiss up to?" Jack asks.

"Arricinus Deasy and that woman who just goes by Tullia."

Jack winces theatrically. "That's the one with the travel permit? The memoir about riding the rails after her lover left her?"

"Learning about life and love from the simplicity of the rustic districts," Haymitch confirms. "She wanted me to talk about what it was like to be uncomplicated."

"Did she actually make it all the way to Twelve?"

"Did she actually make it anywhere? I was pegging her for a fake."

Jack snorts. "Oh, she made it to Seven. They let her stay in one of the empty houses in the Village. I don't know if that makes her not a fake, though. I'm pretty sure chapter fourteen is about Blight, not some odd district man she met in the woods."

"Chapter fourteen?" He shudders. "That's a whole lot more than I needed to know about Blight. What the hell is he thinking?"

"No idea. He pretty much leaves me alone." Jack nods to the screen. "Looks like we might be allies, if I can get Jo to keep going along with it."

"I'd sure appreciate it. I don't think River's ready to go it alone. Should we get Finnick? He likes her."

Jack considers it, then shakes his head. "Much as I'd like to get Finnick and his money on board, his tribute's the usual Career idiot."

"Miss Trinket?" someone says from behind me.

I look up from my work. A Dreams runner is standing by my table with a dry cleaning bag. I pay him and check my skirt, then hand it to Jack.

He looks at it. "Not really my style, Effie."

"It's for Johanna," I tell him. "I told her she could try it on and see for herself that it's not terribly hot or uncomfortable."

"You're loaning my tribute a Maxentius?" He looks at Haymitch. "Can we trade escorts? They're still giving us grumpy men because of Blight. It's like having you for an escort."

"Last thing I need is another me on my team," Haymitch says. "And you'll take Effie over my dead body."

Jack laughs. "I'll take this upstairs. I have to clean up for a lunch date anyway."

He disappears, and Haymitch sits down in his place. "Not much money from the authors, I'm afraid."

"It's some," I say. "And we have your usual promises for after the Cornucopia. Miss Buttery called last week."

"We haven't heard from her in a while. How is she?"

"She's well. She'd love a visit, though."

"Sure." He watches Butterfly on another screen. Against at least three counts of his usual advice, she's sparring at her best level in front of the inner district kids (it's a flat out fist fight with one of the trainers), and by the looks of it, she's picked a fight with the girl from Two.

"Were any of the authors any good?" I ask.

"Money-wise?"

"Book-wise. You must like something."

He reaches into a satchel I bought him just for the occasion and pulls out a shiny paperback. On the cover, there are two rocks that seem to be spinning around each other. A third rock is hurtling toward them. The title, Shattering Janus, means nothing to me. "Do you like science fiction?" he asks.

"I haven't read any."

"I don't read much of the stuff, but at least it's different. Erastus wrote it. He was bragging about his research, too. Binary planets. I know absolutely nothing about that, so that'll be new, at least."

"Can I read it when you're finished? I do a lot of business with Erastus. I think it would make him happy."

"By all means, keep the fan club happy." He rolls his eyes, pulls a second copy out of the bag, and tosses it to me. "He sent one over for you. Wait until you meet the rugged hero's peppy love interest."

I put it in my purse.

We watch Butterfly for a while. She actually does manage to win her training fight, knocking the trainer out of the ring and onto the floor. She looks pleased with herself. The District Two girl says something that looks snide, then climbs into the ring with a fresh trainer.

Johanna turns out to be willing to make an alliance with River, who can talk about nothing else back at the apartment. Butterfly has little patience with it, since Johanna hasn't won anyone's respect in training, mostly sticking to the survival stations and failing at anything else she's tried.

"She's just getting past a pretty nasty medical procedure," I tell her. "She may still be having side effects."

"Whose side are you on?"

"Effie's on your side," Haymitch says. "That doesn't mean she can't respect the other tributes, too."

"She doesn't say anything good about us."

"You haven't given her much reason to."

"You fought well today," I say. "We saw you."

"Which was exactly what I told you not to do," Haymitch grumbles.

I don't look away from Butterfly. "Haymitch, let it go."

He looks up at me sharply, then nods. "Fine. I'll let it go. I guess it's okay that they saw it. But you do what I say in the arena. You stay away from the Cornucopia. Have we got a deal? You do what you want in training, but do that for me when you get there."

Butterfly considers it. "What about our allies?"

"They should stay away, too. You want to put in a request for an ally? Or do you want to stick with River and Johanna?"

"Aster," Butterfly says. "Aster's good, and maybe her district partner… I can't remember his name. They don't make us say each other's names much, and I… I'm not good with names."

"Sorrel," River says. Butterfly looks at him, surprised, and he says, "I know names pretty good. I could say everyone's name. There's Shimmer and Silver from One, and Antony and Jacoba from two, and --"

"Fine, you know everyone," Butterfly says. "How come you can remember that?"

He shrugs. "Always did do pretty well with people. Shimmer's not nice, though. She called me names. Johanna said she wasn't allowed to do that, but we're not allowed to fight in training."

Haymitch looks up sharply at this, but says nothing about it. "I'll talk to Chaff and Seeder. They usually tell their tributes to split up -- to avoid a conflict within the district -- but we'll see. Sometimes they work together. I'd love to work with both of them."

While River and Butterfly are training the next day, Haymitch meets with the other mentors. Jack and Chaff and Seeder, of course, are there, but so are the two District Six mentors, Beetee and Wiress, and Woof and Cecelia. Apparently, their tributes have expressed some interest in allying with Butterfly, or at least that's what he tells me when I ask. I end up taking several of the more routine sponsor meetings. Most of the sponsors are all right with this. They think he's planning something spectacular. I'm able to convince a few that Butterfly has a lot of fire, though most still prefer River.

The third day of training, as usual, is cut in half, with the morning for last minute training and the afternoon for evaluations. River manages to get a Six somehow. Butterfly manages to defeat two trainers in hand to hand, and gets a nine. Johanna, confounding Finnick's expectations early on, is given a three. Jack says that she froze up during her evaluation -- went into a coughing fit and couldn't recover. Nothing is supposed to be known of the evaluations, but the late night comedians decide she started crying as her talent and run with it. There's great merriment on the street the next day, and an a capella group calling itself the Weeping Lumberjacks performs just outside the gate to Games Headquarters. I see them as I leave for the night. Looking up, I can tell that they will be in plain view of the Training Center apartments, should Johanna choose to look out her window.

Reporters catch me on the way out, and ask me about Twelve's tributes. Nine is an incredibly good score, certainly among the leaders this year. I tell them that Butterfly is strong and brave, and that she doesn't give an inch in a fight.

The next morning when I arrive at the apartment to start the interview training, I find Butterfly sitting in the couch, watching this on television.

She looks up at me, confused. "Um.. thanks," she says.

"You're welcome." I head for the kitchen to order up breakfast.

"I don't understand you."

I turn. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, you seem all right." She looks at my outfit, a pre-fall creation from Philippa, which is made of organic soilcloth. "Clothes aside. That's a seriously weird dress."

"It has fast growing seeds in it. By the end of the day, it will be one of a kind."

"Weird," she repeats, then sighs. "It's just, you don't have to work for the Games."

"I'm sorry?"

"Haymitch is stuck with it, and he hates it. I get that. But you don't have to work for the Games. You could do anything, and you decided to work for the Games, and call kids' names, and bring us here. Everyone you call dies, and you don't quit. But you seem all right. I don't get it."

"Oh. I see." I sit down. "Did Haymitch tell you about his last escort?"

"People still tell stories. He used to call the families and make fun of the tributes after they died."

"Exactly." I think about it. "Someone is always going to call the names. Someone has to. If it's not me, it'll be someone else. It's everything that comes after that matters to me."

"Oh." She watches television for a few minutes, then says, "Everyone says that people get reaped if they cause trouble. Did they tell you to call me because my daddy got in a fight with the mine boss?"

"No, honey. I've never been told to reap anyone in particular. I can't even imagine how they'd make something like that work. I just reach in the bowl and pull out the card that comes into my hand."

"Then it's not because we're in trouble? It's not because my parents annoyed the wrong people?"

I'm not sure how to answer this. I know about the district certainty that the reapings are rigged, and a part of me would love to simply debunk the idea -- among other things, it doesn't speak very well of me. But there's something in the way Butterfly is asking the question, something about the lost sound in her voice, and I understand. It gives them a sense of control, even where there is none. Being reaped becomes an act of rebellion, or an act, at least, of recognition that they've caused trouble. It proves to them that something they or their parents have done has been so powerful that it's caught the attention of the government and the Gamemakers.

I think of Haymitch dismissing their window-breaking and slogan-writing as "calling each other rebels."

It's all they can do. And to tell her that I doubt the Capitol even noticed a tiny disruption like that would be devastating. She needs to believe that what she's done is important.

"All I can say," I tell her, "is that I've never been told to pull a name."

She nods vaguely. "Do you even care whose names you pull?" She doesn't wait for an answer. "I mean, are you like River? Do you remember them? I don't remember who got reaped last year! I honestly don't. Is anyone going to remember me?"

"It was Moss Bullard and Della Farragut," I tell her. "Moss told me that he loved the time of year when the snow and ice start to melt, and he can hear rivers cracking out in the woods across the fence at night. Della had a boyfriend named Dale, and she thought their names sounded too silly together to be a couple. I remember them. Haymitch remembers them. And if you don't win, I'll remember you."

"I'm guessing not real nicely."

"I'll think of you every time a designer comes up with something too silly to wear."

She smiles wanly. "Is there anything too silly for you to wear?"

"Mood dresses," I say. "They change color based on what mood you're in. An actress wore one on a late night show, and it told everyone exactly how she was feeling about the host. It wasn't flowers and moonlight. She never did live that down."

She laughs, and seems surprised by it. "Reckon if you wore a dress like that around Haymitch -- or if he had trousers that did that -- there wouldn't be any secrets."

"There aren't any," I tell her. "But that's private. Which is the point."

"I can see that. I don't think I'd want to know what a man's trousers have to say, anyway."

"It's usually not that hard to spot. even without mood cloth."

When Haymitch and River come down, we don't tell them what we're laughing about.

Both of the kids are relatively cooperative about the interviews. Butterfly gets surly again when I put her in heels, but Therinus won't budge on the dress, which needs them. I try a few different pairs and finally get one that she can balance in. Thankfully, heavy block heels are part of the season's repertoire. With River, it's just a question of getting him not to fidget. I have his preps re-shave his head so that he doesn't have any stubble, but I also get Therinus to agree to a low, slouchy hat for him. He's very fond of it. I hope he doesn't forget what he's supposed to be doing and start playing with it on stage, since he spends much of the prep time doing it.

We get word around supper time that the interviews have been moved to mid-afternoon, instead of their usual evening spot, which sends the stylists and prep teams into a panic. The children have to be pulled out of bed before sunrise to have everything done.

"Maybe they'll at least be able to get to sleep early," I suggest.

"The night before the arena?" Haymitch says. "Not likely. I don't know how any of us sleep."

We all gather in the lobby of the Training Center at two-thirty. Butterfly is in a floor length gown studded with shimmering onyx. It has a high, boned collar that comes up around her face like wings. ("Like butterfly wings!" Therinus announces, thrilled by his brilliance.) River is in a black suit that, for some reason, has glowing silver buttons. He realizes that they turn on and off when he twists them, and Haymitch and I both have to stop him from playing with them several times. (It doesn't help. He spends the vast majority of the interview program turning the lights on and off. Luckily, the Gamemakers decide not to air this.)

The other stylists have done nicely. The inner district tributes are all stunning, though their interviews are as boring as ever. Finnick's tribute, Keefe, has crossed the line from confident to bombastic (Finnick looks very frustrated with him). In District Seven, Johanna looks a little stronger than she did at the parade, but Jack says the other tributes were tormenting her about her low score in the lobby, and at some point, she started to cry. By the time Caesar reaches her, her mascara has run badly, which spoils the effect of the stunning green dress they have her in.

"And here is Johanna Mason, of District Seven!" he says, leading her forward. "I hear you've already beat one fearsome opponent -- the flu!"

She smiles shakily. "Well, that was with a little help."

"Oh, I know! I had a purge done last year. I was off my feet for days, but here you are, strong and steady!"

"I guess we'll see, won't we?"

"Tell me, Johanna… have you had a chance to enjoy anything?"

"I got to wear a Maxentius Maxim to dinner," she says, and waves. "It looks uncomfortable, but it's not at all. I wore it all evening and had Jack take my picture in it. And I tried on shoes that had live plants in the heels."

"Oh, I've seen those."

"Those aren't as comfortable. But you water the plants by walking through misters, and that's kind of fun…"

He keeps her talking about clothes for all three minutes, and doesn't mention her running makeup at all, though I'm sure everyone can see it. Unfortunately, in the middle of the pack, her words won't be remembered at all -- not that they were especially wonderful -- and the producers will certainly pay attention to the evidence of her crying in recaps, since it will provide continuity with her reaping.

In District Nine, Philippa has created lovely looks from this year's plant-based fashions, which suit the district's industry. The dress the girl, Dottie, is in has grown a beautiful red flower on her shoulder.

Since Butterfly has managed to get an alliance with both District Eleven tributes, they all praise each other heavily. Aster looks lovely in a shimmering white dress, and Sorrel certainly gains a few fans among the teenage girls.

Haymitch watches Butterfly nervously the whole time she's speaking, but Caesar guides her well, asking her questions about her "unusual" reaping outfit (Butterfly talks about not having anything else, rather than being defiant), and what she enjoys at home. He doesn't give her any window to talk about hating the Capitol, which is probably wise.

River is earnest and likeable. It's easy to tell that he's not very bright, but he's charming, and Caesar jokes with him about how he also sometimes likes to turn the lights on his suit on and off. He actually does this in front of the cameras, which makes River laugh.

"And you have an ally as well," Caesar says.

"Oh, yes. My best friend now," River tells him. "Miss Johanna Mason from District Seven. She's wonderful, and very smart."

There's an audible "Aw" from the crowd.

Haymitch frowns, but doesn't say anything.

"Okay," he says as the interviews close up. "We'll get them back upstairs, and I want to go over a few more things with Butterfly --"

But he doesn’t get a chance.

As soon as the cameras cut out, Games security comes out on stage, surrounding the tributes.

"What's going on?" I ask.

"No idea."

The new head Gamemaker, a woman named Titania Dori, takes Caesar's microphone. "Don't be alarmed," she says, grinning broadly. "We have a very special arena this year, and it's quite a trip. Our tributes will be leaving immediately to start their long journey. This year, we've made sure their journey will be as luxurious as their stay here in the Capitol! Happy Hunger Games!"

With that, she leaves the stage.

The tributes are led out through a corridor that none of the mentors can reach, and a moment later, we see six hover crafts rise up into the sky.

Before we can even get back to the apartment, they're gone.
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