Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games


41. Hooky Part 2

    The park was much cleaner than what she was used to in Eight. There were more colors, it was shiny, there was even plants everywhere. It was blatantly obvious there weren't any lakes within the city, but even the capitol's artificial lake was much cleaner than a small dirty lake outside the walls of District Eight.

    "So people just come here for fun? Like playgrounds and cheap-yet-expensive vendor food?" District Eight didn't give them that much freedom for fun and the park was rusty more than anything, not even safe

    "Just about," he nodded. "Simply to waste their money and their time."

    "Weird,” she commented and looked to the people around them. "We never had free time to play much in Eight," she said. "So it's weird seeing people actually using a park thing," Emily added. 

    "We don't have any time at all outside Games time, so you probably know more than I do," Sauntor said before she moved on. 

    Emily looked up at the man, "Guessing it must be harder in Eleven?" she asked. The president didn't like anyone knowing what it was like living in other districts. With tributes they couldn't stop them from talking about home. But talking about it on television where others can hear wasn't allowed. Couldn't stop the mentors either talking about home just as long as the Capitolites didn't listen to them. 

    But, the Eleven victor didn’t answer. Either he wasn’t the sharing type either, or it was just as bad as she remembered when she went to Eleven for her Tour. He glanced around at the few—many—people who still looked at Emily in their many expressions and smirked. "Get used to the fans yet?" 

    The redhead looked around at the others still looking to her and shrugged. "Not sure? I already got stares for having red hair back home, this is only slightly different," she added. 

    He chuckled at the mention of her red hair and raised a brow. "Has your hair always been that vibrant in Eight, too?" Sauntor rolled his eyes at her question. 

    She shook her head at his question. "My hair was more on the dark orange side. My stylist colored it red because she liked how my natural hair color looked on me and just kneeeeeeeew red would look good," she explained with a little bit of Winnow’s accent at the end. "It's just a boring colored district with gray and old faded brick here and there, so seeing a bright color is weird in Eight if it wasn't on textiles we made for the Capitol."

    He glanced down at her again at her, "Depressing place with depressing people. So surprised."

    She merely rolled her eyes at the man. "What about you?" Emily asked. “Got used to the fans?”

    "Are you kidding me? I've always been famous, Emily," he scoffed, as if it was the most obvious thing. "There's nothing to get used to." 

    Emily looked up at the man as he went on with his mini rampage on always being famous. "What the hell happened to you for fame to hit you early?" she asked.

    "My mere existence made me famous, it's as simple as that," Gryffon chided. 

    "You have to be more specific," she sighed. "How is your existence a that interesting? Like, were you an experiment?"

    Gryffon sighed and rolled his eyes. "Yes, because people who are farming and getting kicked by Peacekeepers have any time to be doing experiments on a kid," he shook his head. "Common sense, Em." 

    "Well I can't quite put a finger on why exactly you'd be sooooo interesting," Emily rolled her eyes and hopped onto the ledge of the fountain, barely looking over the man's head and walked beside him close to the water.

    Gryffon glanced away for a moment, then let his gaze drift down to her feet balancing on the fountain's edge. "Well . . . You don't know me, now do you?" 

    "Let's see," Emily began, "You're childish and inappropriate, which me as you get away with a lot of things. Even as a kid, so the behavior followed you into adulthood. You keep up a sarcastic and scowling face on to make people nervous around you, YET you still have the heart to offer pulling someone out of therapy AND a small snack even when you had a terrible first meeting with said someone," Emily droned on and on until she felt his hand press against her leg and her hip, and fell into the fountain. 

    Cold! Cold! 

    Emily flailed for a moment and broke through the surface of the fountain, shaking her head to get water off her face and stared at the man with a bewildered look in her eyes. Did he actually just PUSH her into the fountain!? She ran her hand through her hair and pulled herself up, her dress clinging to her body and sopping wet. 

    "Trying to prove a point?" she asked, her eyes still on her outfit as she squeezed water from her dress and pulled at it to keep it from clinging. It was fine material and see through when wet, the outlining of her undergarments easier to see now and it made Emily turn as red as her hair.

    Gryffon smirked at her figure, completely oblivious to any of the horrified gasps and stares they were getting. "You make it far too easy," he quipped, the laughter obvious in his tone. "Nice bra, by the way," he added with a smirk and a cock of his head.

    Emily pursed her lips, her brows furrowed with anger and embarrassment as her arms automatically crossed over her chest after his comment. 

    Should have known. Should have known he would do something.

    The redhead pulled forward, fighting the water as she got out of the fountain and brushed water droplets off her arms whilst avoiding the man's eyes.

    Gryffon chuckled at her attitude, thoroughly amused. "Hey, no need to hide, there's hardly anything there to begin with."

    Emily shot him a glare and went back to getting as much water from her dress before she started walking toward her apartment. The stares were much more noticeable and with practically everything exposed and her body soaked, she didn't blame them for taking a look. 

    "You know, that can get you sick if left wet on you for too long," he mused on, nodding at her dress.  Gryffon chuckled at her glare, and inched his finger along the back of her collar a little, pulling it back. "Yeah seriously, this is soaking wet," he stated the obvious. "No point in getting away from therapy to have to go to the medics anyway." 

    "No really?" she rolled her eyes. "I'm going back to my place to go and get changed. No way am I staying in this when everyone can see all the 'goods'."

    He laughed at her a little, raising a brow. "Goods? They half off?" Gryffon asked, his tone serious but he looked entirely amused. "Either way, I'm preeeetty sure we've all had a good look," he added casually, waving his arm to motion to the people around. 

    Totally not helping her case. 

    Emily pursed her lips with a grim look in her eyes when she pulled his hand from her collar and kept walking, all while pulling at her dress to air it out rather than have it cling more. Her walking, obviously, appeared uncomfortable as she made way out of the park.

    Gryffon sighed and caught up to her quickly, looping an arm around her shoulders, walking slower than her to try and stop her from walking out. "Look, here, I have a solution," he mused, sliding his feet over the ground a little to shift so he was standing in front of her. 

    Emily groaned under her breath, closing her eyes slowly in an annoyed way when she opened her eyes, narrowed at the man when he pulled his shirt off and tugged at the end of her dress with the other free hand. 

    Emily looked away quickly, her face a bright shade of pink and cupped her hand to her eyes. “This way you won’t have to leave early,” he said casually, as if going shirtless in public was normal for him.

   "Gryffon! Geezus, put your shirt back on!" she hissed in an embarrassed tone. 

    Gryffon laughed a little and cocked his head. "What? I'm trying to help here, geez," he rolled his eyes. "Fuck, Em, it's like this, look," he sighed, stepping forward as if he had a chore to do and pulled up the skirt of her dress. "Up and over your head, then you take the shirt, and put it back over yourself. That simple."

    Emily squealed in a high tone and tugged at the end of her dress down to stop him. "Stop it!" she said quickly enough to the point that another accent slipped out and tugged his shirt from his hand. "Alright, I'll do it. You don't need to help me undress though," she mumbled and crossed her free arm over her chest anyway to cover the outlining of her bra.

    And of course, not in public! 

    Everyone would start to think something was up with them the way he behaved around her!

    Gryffon dropped his arm at her squeal, but laughed despite her reaction. The man rolled his eyes when she crossed her arm over her chest and motioned around. "Billions of trees, dear. Go hide behind one if you're so timid. Seriously seems like you can only undress when someone else does it for you," he droned, grabbing her arm and nudged her forward a little. "So annoying." 

    She didn't even fight back on his comment, don't think it even processed in her mind as she made way behind a bigger tree and slipped his shirt on over her dress and unbuttoned from the collar of her dress to her waist. But the idea of walking around in just his shirt was embarrassing and couldn't possibly not wear a cover. So she rolled up her dress to her waist, making sure it didn't fall before she walked back to the man, crossing her arms over her chest and clasping her cold arms in her hands. 

    "You're going to start rumors . . ." she said, after realizing what he said before she went to put his shirt on.

    "Rumors probably already have. They always do." The moment they met up on the street before heading to the park there had probably been people whispering or saying things right there as they walked. 

    Emily huffed. Just the idea of people thinking they were a thing was just horrid. And weird. And knowing it would be hard to convince people that it wasn't true and no one would listen because: they were embarrassed, or whatever. 

    The man rolled his eyes and ran a hand through his hair, letting out a quiet sigh. "Okaaaay," Gryffon drawled, smirking a bit. Might as well change it from one form of awkward to the other. "How's the shirt?" he nudged her a little as they walked, glancing down at her. 

    Emily pursed her lips into a thinner line at his response and glanced up at him for a moment. "It's huge . . ." she shrugged. Not exactly a response anyone would look for, bit she pressed on to not be as annoyingly vague. "It's good, thank you," Emily nodded instead.

    Emily glanced upward a little when more voices arose and noticed children squealing and laughing, running around the park with no care in the world. She pursed her lips and ran her hand through her sopping wet hair. The redhead let out an inaudible sigh and looked away from the kids when Gryffon looked to where she was looking and narrowed his eyes. He watched them, just like she did and shook his head, then looked back down at her. "And you said you wanted a pair of those things," he commented. 

    She looked back at the kids again. Playing tag, swinging on the jungle gym, and other activities with giant smiles on their faces, and it all made Emily sad. Her fingers clenched around each other and pursed her lips at his comment. "I still do . . ." the redhead said.

    "Buuut?" Gryffon shook his head. "If you do, what's stopping you from 'finding another Liam'?" At the end of his statement his tone lilted in a light tone if playful mockery. But at the same time it sounded ridiculous even to him.

    Emily lowered her head, feeling a pang in her chest and took in a deep breath to slow her heart from racing. "It's not finding someone that's the problem . . ." She forced a chuckle, but the shakiness was obvious in her tone.

    "Then what else could it be?" Gryffon sighed with a roll of his eyes. 

    She looked down sadly for a little while as they passed by a bush of white roses. Her eyes shifted to them as she slowed to a stop while her fingers twiddled in her lap. "I don't know . . ." was her answer. Just make him believe she didn't know what was stopping her. 

    He already knew her sob story involving her parents and what made the Aldairs so special, it was too soon to even put any trust in him. One tragedy was enough. 

    "What about you? No kids in your future?" Get the topic off of her and on him instead.

    Gryffon was about to open his mouth to answer her next question, but a couple of squealing kids dashed in front of them in the same moment, yelling something about a race. "Yeah, no," he scoffed. "Not worth the trouble." 

    Emily chuckled lightly at his response. "They are quite a handful," she lightly chuckled. Once the kids ran off, Emily started walking again. "So what business did you have here, really?" she asked. 

    Gryffon smirked and shrugged. "Victor-like business, what else?" 

    "Ew," she wrinkled her nose. "Talent job thing?" the redhead questioned, keeping her eyes off of him to not stare at his bare upper body. "That sounds like a hassle," Emily went on as they went to the edge of the park, fanning out her wet dress that clung to her legs. Some window shops just across the street and there she saw some overly photoshopped poster at the window with her in loads of makeup and ridiculous Capitol wear to get more people to shop for their attire. 

    She rolled her eyes and looked away from the horrid thing.

    "Yep," he confirmed, Gryffon caught her staring across the edge of the park to the shops on the other side and followed her line of sight. What met his gaze made him laugh a little. "Model, huh? Wouldn't have expected that from a timid little thing." He looked back at the poster at what made her different to the lesser makeup girl that stood next to him. "Not bad, though," he added anyway, shaking his head, suppressing a chuckle. 

    "I'm really not that meek of a thing when I get used to new people . . ." she shrugged. He must have known she wasn't always like that. The signal changed and Emily crossed over, the dress felt dry, but the bunches up bit under the shirt was damn and her bra still felt cold and tight on her not so dry chest. "I still need to change and clean out of the dirty fountain water," she commented. 

    "Emily, I'd be surprised if it's dirty," Gryffon said blankly. "But okay, girly needs," he added with another roll of his eyes. Emily rolled her eyes at his comment and led the way to her apartment. 

    “You’d be uncomfortable too if you were walking around in wet clothes . . .” she muttered after some silence.

    “No one told you to keep wearing your dress,” Sauntor rolled his eyes at her. “You could have just worn the shirt. “It’s literally big enough to cover everything.”

    Emily pursed her lips and kept herself from shaking her head as they approached her building. Large and shiny, just like the city. Gryffon followed her into the building, and leaned back against the wall beside the elevator as Emily pressed the button to go up. Once the elevator door opened, he shifted forward so he was standing in front of her to basically block her exit and smiled a bit. "So can I have my shirt back?"

    Emily’s eyes widened with her brows still furrowed in her little scowl as she stumbled back like she had taken a hit. "Not here . . ." the redhead said quickly.

    "Timid little thing," he repeated in a monotone. "Not gonna hurt you, damnit, just don't feel like stalking up to your door and waiting for you to change." 

    Emily blinked up at him, putting up her hard as stone face but her eyes reflecting caution. Instead of just changing out there in the lobby where the bellboy could see them, she shoved Gryffon into the elevator when the door closed and pressed the button up to her floor. She let out a shaky breath with her back to him and slipped her arms through his shirt to pull her dress up again. Her body felt warm with embarrassment and slight fear just being alone and changing before him, even when completely covered.

    She saw, from the corner of her eye, Gryffon raised a brow at her as she slipped out of the shirt. She quickly went back to switching out of his shirt.

    "When were you able to afford a tattoo?" Gryffon asked, putting a hand out for the shirt. 

    Emily pulled at the sleeve straps of her dress when she glanced at her shoulder, seeing a bit of her scar and imagining how much worse it looked to others that had the full sight. "Umm . . . they're really cheap in Eight," she answered and adjusted her straps some more. "I was fifteen and managed to save some money to get one done," she explained when the elevator slowed to a stop. Emily tossed the shirt to him before the doors opened.

    "You didn't let the medics fix it up?" Gryffon asked, pulling his shirt back over his head.

    Emily let out a quiet sigh and shook her head. "They wanted to . . . but I didn't want them to . . ." she answered. 

    "Why didn't—" Gryffon didn't finish the question as she stepped out, rolling his eyes. 

    "Thanks for pulling me out of therapy," she glanced over her shoulder and gave him a quick and weak smirk.

    "Don't mention it," he chided. "Good luck not dying 'cause the water," he added with a slight smirk. 

    Emily narrowed her eyes. "I'll tryyyyyy," she sighed dramatically. 

    Gryffon nodded a bit. The man shifted forward and held the door with his foot, raising a brow at her. "Do you have therapy tomorrow?" he asked with a slight cock of his head. 

    Emily raised her brows at the man. "Are you . . ." she began and paused a bit to tilt her head quizzically, "You're not asking me out, are you?" she questioned. 

    "Fucking please," Gryffon answered immediately, shaking his head, disgusted. "Don't kid yourself. I'm stuck here for the next seven days and bothering you is more fun than pulling ground apart. Can you answer the goddamned question?" 

    Emily rolled her eyes at the man. “Yeah, I have therapy all of this week," she answered.

    "Wanna ditch again, or is that too intolerable for you?" 

    "I'd rather ditch with you than have an even more intense staring contest with my therapist," she sighed. She even wished she could ditch the whole week, it even she knew she couldn't. What was one more day? "Yeah, sure," she shrugged. 

    She must be an idiot for agreeing to spend another day with the man. But, it was better than what her therapist would have had in mind for her. Emily would just have to bring another change of clothes just in case she was pushed into the fountain again.

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