Pairing/Character(s): So far, just Dan and Jenny.
Summary: Vanessa Abrams is reaped for The Hunger Games. Here is what transpires.
Dan doesn't watch the Hunger Games that year. He promised Jenny he wasn't going to look at her any different, and he figures this is the best possible way to do so. Even if it means missing what could very well be her last moments alive.
He doesn't want that to be his last memory of her anyway.
He gets updates from Vanessa and from the chatters that echo throughout The Train. However, he doesn't go to the square where Claudius Templesmith's voice reverberates and he shuts his eyes when he walks by any projector that is switched on.
Vanessa tells him that Jenny scores a 5 in training. Dan executes his own morphling raid in the lab-factories that afternoon
(walk in like you've been there before, like you're supposed to be there. Walk out with your head down at a normal pace to avoid unwanted attention)
and in the evening looks for all the saggy, yellow skinned customers he can find in hopes of sponsoring her a loaf of bread. They give him everything in their pockets.
He takes the final two needles to the shoemaker where he also sells his laces but even then, he can't afford the cheapest item on the menu for the first day. Turns out he doesn't need to because Jenny managed to form an alliance with tributes from the outlying districts. They have the majority against the careers and while they lose 5 of their 12 members (one of the largest alliances formed in the hunger games), they take the Cornicopia and kill 2 of the 5 careers before the rest escape.
Jenny's odds go up and she earns her first parachute when she sews up the wound of a girl from district 8, hands steady like she's just mending patches of fabric not patches of human skin.
"Do you think of me as your friend?" Vanessa sits on the edge of Jenny's bed where he's curled up in the corner clutching her dirty stuffed rabbit she'd made out of old rags years ago.
He sits up. Nods.
"Because Jenny's interview was -- she said she volunteered to save you because she knew you'd feel obligated to volunteer to protect me."
He shakes his head. Wants to convey a facial expression that insists it wouldn't have been out of obligation. It's a lie of course, because while the obligation isn't to her, it's still there. The part that would be doing it for her though, that's not out of obligation and that's why he's ok with "telling" her this lie.
"I wouldn't have asked you to and I hate that I felt relieved for a second when Jenny volunteered. I didn't expect her to volunteer either. "
"Ceasar asked what her strategy was. She told him she knew plants, that she'd be an asset on any team. She talked a lot about you and I guess how things go around here. I think she was working the sympathy angle. You guys being orphans and doing whatever it took to survive." Her lip quivers and her voice trembles. "I really hope I didn't make you guys feel like you had to --" Tears well up in her eyes so he shakes his head vehemently and pulls her into a side hug.
"I know you miss her. I miss her too." She snuggles her head deeper into his neck. "And your babbling. I miss that a lot."
Gabriella and Arlo are forced to kick Dan out of the house when all the customers and vendors avoid their cart at The Train. The traders direct their business elsewhere and even if they had any sort of income from outside of The Train, the Merchants turn them away too. Everyone won't do business with the Abrams as long as the Humphrey boy is under their roof.
They give him time to pack a bag but he leaves very publicly to ensure the whole town knows that he's no longer associated with the Abrams. Dan hasn't been homeless since he was 8 and unlike before, where no one would really spare him a glance, everyone glares. His smuggled goods are refused, deemed unworthy just like his offered services - not that he was any good at baggage handling anyway.
In the end, he goes to the one place that he knows will take anyone they can. He's signed up for a short drug trial the next day. One month, shelter and food included.
The interviewers come and go. They give up on looking for Dan whose location he has only disclosed to Vanessa so she can sneak out to meet him.
Vanessa who tells him why he's suddenly a pariah.
Apparently Jenny killed everyone in her alliance. Including Wes. Dan doesn't pry for the details. It was obviously a betrayal the entire town cannot forgive. Dan remembers when his father refused to sell head medicine to Titus' mother the day after her son took the first bite out of a corpse on live television. Rufus, like everyone else only resumed trading with her when an avalanche killed the boy.
On the bright side, Dan knows his sister is alive as long as he's still ostracized.
Eventually Vanessa stops telling him about the games. She mentions that Jenny teamed up with the careers to pick off the remaining tributes but claims that she doesn't want to spend all his visiting hours talking about murder.
He goes back to his clinical bed eating bland food from trays and wonders if maybe his sister started eating people too.
Every night after that, he'd lie awake in a creaky bed staring up at the white ceiling as the single lamp beside him flickered on and off, on and off. It casts the same shadows across the white walls and he'd zone out spending all his energy on positive thinking and wish fulfillment. Just hoping that his sister would come home.
It's nearly two weeks and although most of his human contact comes from Whitecoats who stick things in his arm, he can feel that the games are nearly over. The atmosphere is more antsy. Soon he'll be permitted a day trip to the square to welcome home his sister as either a Victor or a corpse. He still doesn't know if the former is even possible given that he hasn't been out of his room save for visiting hours.
It's Ruby who takes pity on him. She reveals that while they were still hunting for other tributes, Jenny made a final 2 deal with the male from District 1 (the one with a penchant for torturing his victims). Except she kills him when nobody is looking. Jenny blames the boy from District 4 (whose district partner wasn't deemed worthy enough for a career pack) and the last career takes her revenge.
Vanessa provides vague details about the feast that occurred afterwards. All he knows is that the remaining tributes head to the Cornucopia where Jenny commits mass murder yet again.
There's still the medical examination, the crowning ceremony, the after-games interview with Ceasar, the highlight reel, and Dan will still be injected with a needle full of clear liquid every day but Jenny is coming home.
That night, he falls asleep smiling.