VampWiz08 .Found You in a Hopeless Place. Wolfie
It usually wasn't hot in District 2 but once everyone had gathered in the square, bodies pressed too close for comfort, it got hot. Zane Clemons crossed his arms over his chest, the nice, button-up shirt he was in feeling too tight, like it was choking him. He hated this time of the year. Not because of the crowds, or the growing heat, or all the noise, but because this District made such a huge fuss out of it. Reaping day was always a big deal in the Career districts. It determined who would be teamed up, who would have an unbreakable bond till the very end. Growing up in District 2, it was implanted in his head at a young age that the Career bond was not a joke, something that had to be taken seriously. Zane believed it for a while, believed it more when he began to go through weaponry and combat training and met all the kids his age and got close to them. He grew a bond with those he practiced swords besides, he grew a everlasting friendship with those he practiced wrestling with, he grew something he didn't even understand with those he practiced archery with.
And then, they showed him and his weaponry and combat class their first Games, when they were barely teenagers. They hadn't allowed them to see any other Games, letting them form that bond first before they showed what actually happened when a few Careers were the only ones left, if it turned out that way. Zane knew the Games were bloody. Zane knew people killed people. Zane knew the Careers always teamed up and used that unbreakable bond to fight off the other tributes, even though there were the occasional arguments breaking out between them. He didn't know what he expected them to do once it was just them. He knew only one person could win but it never crossed his mind. He could clearly remember the horror he felt as he watched the Careers turn on one another, begin to attack each other like they were complete strangers, like they were the other tributes they took out together. They watched Game after Game and not all the Careers made it but the ones that did always attacked each other in the end. No hesitancy, no final, friendly words, just blood and death and winning and a victor. He remembered looking around the room, at all his friends, and wondering if any of the girls would stab him in the throat when the time came. Wondering if any of the guys would stab a girl in the eye when the time came. Wondering if he himself would kill any one of the girls he recently started flirting with.
That's when he decided that Career bond that was pounded into his head was fake. If they truly cared for each other, if they really wanted to help each other survive, they wouldn't had so easily turned on one another. It upset Zane greatly because all the guys and girls were his friends. Though, they don't even know who is chosen till the day of the reaping. It's always rigged to choose the best of the best to fight for the District. Before the reaping, they had pulled Zane and his class, all 18 year olds now, aside and announced who would step up and volunteer in place of the one chosen, if it wasn't conveniently them. Zane was chosen, being the best at hand-to-hand combat and spearing. A girl who he had became close too before he pulled himself away after realizing the truth of this Career bond was chosen. She wasn't so great at hand-to-hand combat but she could wield a sword unlike any other in the class. Her name was Allison Stonebrook and she was always a flirt. He couldn't believe she was chosen.
All of this ran through his head as he stood in the square, in between two guys he use to call friends, the air feeling thick and heavy. Someone's name will be called and he'll step up, yelling out the all familiar "I volunteer!", and everyone will clap and cheer like he was something special. And that's exactly what happened. Some kid's name was called - something like Jett or Kett, he couldn't remember now - and he pushed out of the mass of bodies, yelled those words that secured his spot on stage, and waited for Allison to do the same. When she did, they shook hands and were whisked off to the Capitol. Zane never told anyone about his feelings of the Career bond. Anyone he could have gone too would have told someone and it would have kept going through person to person and he wasn't sure what they would have done. So, he kept quiet and secretly hoped he didn't have to compete in the Games. But he was too proud and couldn't dumb himself down to fail the plants test, couldn't stop himself from planting another boy into the ground during wrestling practice, couldn't stop himself from throwing the spear too short or too far and missing the target. He had too much pride to do any of that and he wished he could have. He always told himself he would fake it, act like he couldn't do it, but when he stepped up and was ready to do it, all that entered his mind was the competition, the urge to win. He thought that was in every Career's head.
But here he was, on a train shooting towards the Capitol, and regretting the fact his pride got in the way. He leaned back on the plush chair, watching all the trees blur into an endless color and trying to ignore the small chitchat his mentor and Allison were having. It quieted down and he sagged down in the chair. Though, he straightened up when Allison sat across from him, watching outside the window. "So, how are you feeling?" she asked softly, being the polite girl he always knew her as.
He wasn't sure how to answer her question. He wasn't even sure how he felt. There were just so many things he was feeling. "Indifferent." he finally settled on, glancing at her with his eyes. He tucked his chin in his hand, his elbow on the window sill, and kept watching the outside world pass in a blur. Allison grew quiet and Zane wished she would leave. He didn't want anyone finding out he wasn't going to join the Careers. He didn't want anyone to discover he thought the Career bond was something stupid, something fake. He was barely thinking about the Games and what they'll bring. He would kill if he had too, he knew that. He would protect himself.
"Are you... ready for this?" Allison asked slowly, unsure sounding herself. Maybe she wasn't ready and she was hoping Zane could relate to her. Zane didn't want to relate to her. Zane didn't want to relate to anyone he had to possibly kill. So, instead of answering, he just sighed and shrugged. He couldn't voice that to her. She wouldn't understand. After discovering the Career bond, she got close to all the boys. She knew of its supposed importance. Everyone had done that. Zane was the only one who, after witnessing the Games, had began to close up. He talked to them, to keep up an act, but it was never the same. He was surprised no one noticed. Or they did and just kept quiet about it. "I don't think I am but... maybe I'll feel different when we actually go in there, right?" she whispered softly.
Zane flicked his blue eyes over to her and sighed. She obviously wanted an answer. Maybe she'll leave him alone once he gives one. "I don't think anyone is. Just take it as it comes, right?" he said, squeezing his chin just a bit tighter. Just take it as it comes, what crap advice that was. They were going into the Hunger Games, a place where everyone dies until one person is standing. He knew it took planning and smarts and slyness to get through this, not the mindset of just going with the flow. But his words seemed to make Allison relax, even just the tiniest, and let out a small sigh.
"Thanks Zane." she said, standing up. She passed by him and slowly, she reached out, squeezing his broad shoulder, before she was gone. For some reason, Zane can't shake the weight that was just on his shoulder, the feel of her small fingers squeezing his shoulder, as if she was silently saying she needed him. He can't shake it and he began to feel guilty because he wouldn't be there for her. Maybe he was just looking too deeply in to it but he remembered how he use to feel with the Career bond. He remembered how much he thought he needed all his friends around him. He remembered how strongly he felt about them all. But now he didn't feel that way but Allison still did. Huffing out a breath, he kept watching the outside. He felt differently but Allison didn't. He couldn't help that.
When they reached the Capitol, Allison was eating up all the attention outside from the Capitol citizens. Waving, smiling, being charming. Zane just watched them with a blank stare. He doesn't like how they get this sick joy from watching people kill each other. They're escorted off the train and onto the floor they'll be staying at. The 2nd floor. Zane was forced into the area set up like a living room, a big purple couch, two huge chairs, and a dark, wooden coffee table. He sat on the couch, trying to not sink into the colorful pillows behind him noticeably. The TV came on as Allison settled in beside him and together, they watched the recap of the reapings, seeing their "fellow" Careers and their competition. Zane frowned as he watched the reapings, taking each person in, and wondering how all this will play out. He knew, in the end, none of it will play out well.