Uriah loved bars. He relished in the sheer amount of bottles that lined the counter. Uriah watched the bar tended as he poured and mixed drinks. It didn’t even matter that he had come here with a girl. There was no pressure to talk. Lined up along the counter like this, he wasn’t facing anybody. The neon signs and dimmed lights and pool tables in the room all felt safe to him. Here, alcohol and people’s secrets all poured out.
The girl was lithe and pale-skinned; she had feline amber eyes emphasized by angular brows and a kitsune face framed with long waves of red-orange hair. Although she tried to move swiftly through the coniferous forested terrain, it was difficult to navigate due to the inches of snow and slick patches of ice that covered the arena. Before long, she ran into a pack of three girls. By their arrogance smirks, mocking laughs, and the intimidating way they approached her, they could have been mistaken as Careers, but they were middle District girls who had packed together for safety. The redhead stared at them with fearful doe eyes, then, with such quick dexterity it seemed to be from nowhere, she pulled out a mace and swung. The shrieks of the girls broke into the chilly morning air as skulls were cracked, faces bludgeoned, and hot blood splattered on the white snow. Three canons boomed. Then it was the redhead’s turn to laugh in wicked mirth, but only for a second. That was how long it took another pack of allies to tackle her to the ground and hold her down while one tribute took his battle axe and decapitated her. She was left in the snow, head just a few centimeters above her body, like a doll with its head torn off.
Uriah had awoken as the canon echoed in his head. It was just a dream. But it was also real. His shirt was soaked and he was gasping for breath as though he had escaped from the fight himself. The haunting memory continued to replay itself. Even at work, it stuck with him. Those dreams were always trapped inside of his mind. The logical part of him said that he should just stop thinking about it, but Uriah just couldn’t.
Now he felt stupid for giving his hard liquor to Kero in a sudden inspiration to clean up his life. He could really use some straight bourbon whiskey. But when she had mentioned getting a drink, Uriah couldn’t help but jump on the opportunity.
He didn’t want to explain why he needed it so badly. “I had a bad dream,” would sound childish. He wasn’t sure he could articulate how shaken he was by the grisly nature of his dream and he was trying to show everybody a stable Uriah. Not one who came closer to cracking every day the Hunger Games came closer.
Uriah wished that he had someone to sleep next to, someone he could curl closer into and feel safer. He still wished Lysander had loved him. It was a different lament than before. Uriah had grown to accept that Lysander wasn’t going to reciprocate those feelings. Unrequited love still hurt. But he was past denial and bargaining and feeling angry at Lysander for being who he was. Instead, Uriah felt wistful and sorrowful. He didn’t know why he had been born with this personality: so exquisitely sensitive. He felt all of his emotions deeply and acutely. He was a romantic and an idealist, but one who perhaps would never get the relationship that he desired. He was empathetic—able to feel the emotions of others as if they were his own—and tenderhearted; always forgiving but Lysander would probably always hate him and never accept his apologies and there was nothing Uriah could do. What a terrible personality for a Peacekeeper. He would have been an awful soldier if he hadn’t been competitive and thirsting to prove himself. And damn, he felt so horny all the time now. Lysander wouldn’t take him, so now he was stuck in his apartment watching gay porn, even though he had always said porn was a social vice, because it reminded him of that time he had been with Lysander.
Uriah barely knew what to say to Kero anymore. Their relationship had been professional and platonic since…
Uriah sighed and sipped his drink. The buzz killed a bit of the sick dread inside of him. “I feel like fucking shit. Every day we get closer to the Games…I shouldn’t have quit drinking, not now. Maybe during the Victory Tour. And hate Lysander because I love him so much and I always see him flirting around and making out in the halls.” Uriah took a long sip of his drink. “But it doesn’t matter. Even if he liked me, I’d still be a wreck. I mean, the Games are so close….”
He was incoherent and panicking. “I have to do…something. I don’t know what but rebel activity has been nothing. Someone painted mockingjays around the Capitol. Big deal. I want to stop this so bad and I can’t and I hate that so much. I can’t make anything good happen.”
Sometimes, Kero didn’t even know why she kept hanging out with Uriah. He was always complaining, always feeling sorry for himself, and when she agreed to meet up with him for a drink, she knew that it meant more time spent with him complaining about how sad his life was, and how upset he was about everything. She wasn’t like that, she found joy in the small things in life, and that made it all a lot more bearable. She swallowed down the remainder of her beer, and sighed heavily. “You complain a hell of a lot, did you know?” she muttered, not even bothering to turn her head to look at him, her eyes were fixated on the TV that was on the wall behind the bar. “And jesus christ, give up on Lysander already.”
She turned her head finally, and looked at him, her face dead serious. “He doesn’t want you. He doesn’t feel the same way. Yes, it hurts and it sucks like hell, but just… Move on already! You’re getting on his nerves, and everyone else’s.” She felt rude for even saying the words, but he needed to hear it. Uriah was only complaining lately, and seriously not doing anything else, and it was getting on her nerves. Kero liked having fun, she liked enjoying what little life she had outside of her job, and hanging out with him lately, well, that hadn’t been fun at all. “You get so fucking hung up on one person, and even when that person is treating you like absolute crap, you hang on for dear life. He doesn’t want you, it’s time for you to move on.” She grabbed the bottle of bourbon from behind the bar, and filled up his glass, and pushed the glass towards him.
"Just get on with your life. You’ll be happier for it. As will those around you. Seriously." Kero offered him a small smile then, and hoped that he took her words as words of advice, and not just her being a total bitch. Because she meant them as tips to make him happier, nothing else.
Lady, there’s terrifying, and then thre’s Nike. Terrifying I can handle, but Nike, nu-uh. Yup, I’m glad I’m on her good side too, that way I can get away with so many things. -snickers- Well, I’m not. Let me have your gun so that I can start shooting ‘em.
Ugh, don’t call me lady, that makes me feel really fucking old. You get away with things? That’s unheard of with her, unless she actually doesn’t mind you. Lucky. Oh, well see, if you were to take my gun, I’d have to wrestle you to the floor and discipline you. And neither of us really want that.
Nobody can be scary lady but Nike, you should know that. She’s so badass, Snow’s balls wither hearing her name. -chuckles- Don’t I know it. Ugh, can’t you use that gun of yours to accidentally shoot ‘em?
Oh yeah, she’s a terrifying one. I’m lucky I’m on her good side, or she would have had my head years ago. I wish I could accidentally shoot all of them, but alas, I’m too fond of living to risk it.
"Anyone can wear a white uniform and call themselves a peacekeeper. My brother does it every day. Yet do you think I respect him? No I don’t, because you aren’t keeping the peace, you are just pretending too."
That’s how you think it works? You just put on the uniform, and you’re a Peacekeeper? I would explain the process for you, kid, but I’m already bored with this conversation. You’ll be dead in a week or two anyway.
I haven’t talked to the Resistance. I just know that they exist because my father tortured some of their members back in his Peacekeeper days. If I knew for a fact someone was in the Movement, I would be adamant about joining up. At least then I would be doing something to counteract the Capitol’s crimes against humanity. I am dead serious when I say that, if the Resistance is completely and irrevocably closed to me, I’m going to not working another Hunger Games. Whether I’m an Avox, executed, or I have to take myself out with my own weapon, I’m not doing this anymore.
Well, then… Have fun with your own solution to all problems. That’s the easy way out, Uriah. Killing yourself, getting killed, getting your tongue cut out. Don’t take the easy way out. Find the Resistance, and work from inside the Peacekeepers. If I hear anything, about anything, I’ll let you know, alright?
I know we have to deal with our lives in the best way possible, but are we doing things the best way? More than anything, I hate the day when we take them on the hovercraft and walk them through the catacomb stockyard. Just seeing those kids and knowing some of them will be dead in not even an hour. Even if we don’t agree with Snow, we’re complicit with his orders. Think about it: We swore allegiance to President Snow and the Capitol. What if we are just using our oath and our jobs as Peacekeepers to excuse ourselves from any personal responsibility for the unspeakable crimes that we carry out on the orders of President Snow? Even if we really see what’s going on or we question things, what does that do for the kids lifted into the arena? A lot of days, I’d rather be an Avox or be publically executed than work for one more Hunger Games. I’d rather die being a man who defied this madness than live a life of herding children toward their deaths.
Uriah. You do the job, or you get your head blown off. You choose between your own life and other people’s lives, and it sucks, because most of the time, we’re too selfish to choose their life over your own. It’s not pleasant, or nice, and the job is the worst there could possibly be. Instead of using so much energy complaining about things being shitty, just… Do your best to make things better. You’ve talked about the resistance. Find them, do work from inside the unit.
I’m sorry! I’m sorry! You’re right. I knew where you stood and I made a choice that wasn’t in line with my own values. I caused my own downfall. We never should have had sex. I regret it every day. I’m not crazy, I’m just stuck with all the consequences of my decisions and also this job is getting to me.
How are you not feeling like a murderer now that the Hunger Games are drawing so near? It makes me sick. I can’t stand it. My nightmares are full force. Last night I saw tributes beaten to death, drowned, all sorts of hideous stuff. Nobody is talking about the dignity of human life in the face of a tyrannical government. I mean, we can’t because that kind of thinking is illegal and harshly punished. Do you ever feel like your joy in life is diminished because you know your life isn’t yours? That you belong to the Capitol?
I can’t stand idly by, you know? I want Ophelia to win because she’s like a kid sister to me, but I also don’t want these Games to continue. I am utter opposed to them. I detest them. But how do you stop them? The Games are filth and madness, but also the center of our culture.
Right- So then don’t take it out on me. You knew that I didn’t want anything more, and yes, I should have stopped it from happening, too, but that doesn’t take away your own responsibility in it all. Just ease up a bit, okay? Stop… Stressing yourself out.
I don’t feel like a murderer, because I’ve never actually killed anyone. Because if you put the blame on yourself for what Snow is doing, then you’re a lost cause. We’re doing a job, and if we don’t do it, we die instead. And I don’t know about you, but I happen to like my tongue, as well. It’s all disgusting, don’t get me wrong… But this is our lives, and you have to deal with it in the best way possible.
I realize you can’t return that. I loved you and you destroyed me. And I don’t have any friends. I have people I slept with who hate me now.
Do you mean you think I need to go to a hospital? I can’t do that! Do you think Nike would let work the field and have a firearm if she was told I was a nutter? Especially since I used my Capitol-issued Vektor CP1 when I tried to kill myself. For all I know, I’d end up in some padded cell in a psychiatric ward with a straitjacket on. Do you know how humiliating that would be? Or how much by father would loathe me?
Don’t blame it on me, you knew what I thought, you knew before anything even happened that I didn’t want you love, so don’t blame it all on me. I admit that I was wrong to let it go as far as it did, but I refuse any further blame.
And don’t raise your voice at me, I’m simply trying to have a normal conversation with you, and you get all angry and upset. Raise your voice at me again, and I’ll leave without so much as a word. And I’m not saying that you should admit yourself to a hospital, I’m saying that it might be a good idea to talk to someone, like a psychiatrist, just to help sort out your emotions. There’s no shame in that, I went to see one for three years after I left my messed up adoptive family.
You think I don’t love you anymore? That’s not true. I tried to hook up with you again twice and you always turn me down. Then I got on probation with Nike. But I still have feelings for you.
I know I come on strong. It’s just…you don’t know how I feel all the time: guilty, worthless, helpless, hopeless, so sad and anxious and empty all the time. Lysander doesn’t just hate me because I’m needy and have trouble with boundaries. He hates me because we had a fight after we hooked up and I tried to kill myself. My hands were shaking, so the bullet lodged into the wall instead, and I left when a guard came to check out what was going on. Lysander thinks I’m weak and crazy. He doesn’t understand how much pain I feel. I was just looking for someone to love me in a way no one ever has. It’s not even about sex. It’s just someone holding me.
I wasn’t asking for advice. I just wanted to talk. I can’t follow advice even if it’s good. I feel like shit and can’t control my emotions. I act out or I self-destruct. For what it’s worth, I annoy myself more than I annoy anyone else.
Yeah, you did try hooking up, but I know that you’re… For some completely odd reason, you actually like me, and I can’t return that. Hooking up with you again would only hurt you, and I don’t want that, believe it or not.
You tried killing yourself? Uriah… Do you really think that would do any good at all? You’re depressed, you should probably see someone about everything that you’re dealing with, get some help. You’ll get better, you’ll find you have more to live for than you really think you do. And… Well, you don’t need someone to hold you, or be with you in a romantic way in order to feel better. You need friends, people you can talk to and everything.
Just… Calm down, okay. You have friends, and just… Take comfort from that, rather than getting all sad that you don’t have someone to share your life with. That will come, eventually. In time.