Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games

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42. Not-Date

    "What the hell is up with your voice?" Gryffon ask.

    Emily looked up at him in question, wide-eyed and curious at what he could possibly mean by her voice and put her fork down in her salad. "What do you mean?"

    "Your voice, it sounds different sometimes. The hell was that?" he asked with a roll of his eyes.

    Gryffon dragged her out of therapy again and they had been walking around talking about whatever subjects came to mind, and then went to lunch that then became dinner and then a midnight meal without them bothering to move from their booth. It was empty, save for a few people, but very few remained while the rest of the city slept. Emily and Gryffon spoke about something that made Emily react by answering in a higher tone and her words jumbled up together, her accent changing when she did so.

    And Gryffon Sauntor noticed it.

    Emily raised her brows at the man. "You mean when I practically squeal?" she asked. 

    "No, Emily, when you were completely silent two minutes ago," Gryffon deadpanned. 

    Emily tilted her head at him in question. What was up with her—OH! "My accent changed, didn't it?" she asked. Emily often switched between accents depending on who she was around. At that point it had become an unconscious occurrence. Her accent slipping out had become so normal in her life and no one pointing it out that it never crossed her mind that it sounded strange to others outside of Eight. Especially those whom heard her talk in her usual tone then suddenly change to something else they didn't even know she could make.

    "Smartest girl in the world, I swear," Gryffon sighed, shaking his head as he speared his food. "Your district speaks weirdly." 

    "MY district speaks weirdly? Last time I checked, your district has some personality to it or something," she argued and pointed her fork at Gryffon. "YOURS is weird." 

    "Five-year-old argument," he retorted with a scoff. "Ours doesn't sound as strange." 

    "It SO does too," she argued. "Like . . . It has some spice to it? Like, it's interesting but strange at the same time the way some words are spoken differently compared to what I grew up with," she explained. "Yours has more . . . I don't know," she sighed, "Zaz?"

    Gryffon chuckled and shook his head at her. "Spice?" he echoed, biting his lip in thought. "To me all those things are positives. Your own seems, I don't know, smoother? Emphasizes the strangest syllables compared to what I've heard." 

    "I didn't say it was a BAD accent," she shrugged. "I merely said it's weird," Emily corrected. "I spent a lot of time in Liam's home, his family has a different accent compared to what I was born into. After a while, their accent just stuck in some ways," she shrugged. 

    "Interesting story," Gryffon mused, partially sarcastic, partially not. "Actually, yeah, it is," he cocked his head at her. "How'd anything happen if you stayed with them often?" 

    Emily pursed her lips and looked down at her thumbs twiddling together at her plate. She could always tell him. It was just him, hardly any Capitolites around them and they were further away from the victors minding their own business. But it was only day two of them spending a day together and not ending with her wanting to stick a knife in his throat or wishing him to drop dead. Emily couldn't say she forgave him for harassing her and Emily certainly couldn't forgive herself for slipping up on her worst secret to her harasser. 

    But, he had proven that he hadn't told anyone about her past. Phox and Abir never looked at her any differently or came to her to talk about it, and the Capitol hadn't come to her, bantering her on her past for more details.

    She wasn't sure. Even Conner and Scottie didn't know the details of her past. Who was to say Gryffon Sauntor would even learn about it?

    But, the answer was simple. Personal, but not terrible. Emily opened her mouth and answered, "I felt that . . . If I stayed with them too long at a time, then he'd come find me with the Aldairs. And I didn't want them to get hurt at my expense," she shrugged. 

    In other words, she thought she would protect them . . .

    Gryffon Sauntor rolled his eyes at her response, either in amusement or disbelief. "Well aren't you the sacrificial one?" he chided with a smirk. "Always doing things for the greater good of others." A selfless young girl with tattered wings. How fitting. "It's just a little bit revolting." 

    Emily rolled her eyes at him and speared a piece of lettuce. "Well then, mister empathetic," she started sarcastically, "You can't tell me that you've never felt like protecting anyone in your life," Emily continued and pointed at him with her fork. "A friend? Or a sibling or something?" she finally finished and went on eating.

    The man let out a sigh and leaned his head back against the cushion of the booth, thinking over his answer, it seemed like. Gryffon crossed his arms over his chest, an annoyed scowl apparent on his face. "Nope. Not in a while, anyway." He dropped the scolding look and replaced it with a smirk. "I had two sisters and a brother. Last time I tried protecting one of them, I killed her." 

    Emily pursed her lips as she kept her eyes on her salad. So it was an accident too. She vaguely recalled his Games, in the end there were three of them, his sister included. She got in the way and Gryffon accidentally axed her. Then it was between him and the Career. The rest was history. 

    The redhead leaned back in her seat, playing with her food. "Guess I can say the same thing . . . His protection toward me got him killed . . ." she said and looked up to Gryffon. "We're really unlucky in that department, aren't we?" she chuckled in a pained joking tone.

    As painfully true as it was . . .

   "Mmm, the difference between us both is that you still care about it," Gryffon said, cocking a brow at her, indifferent to her joke. "And it wasn't your fault." He glanced down for a moment, toward her plate, before shrugging at the redhead. "He chose to go in. His own fault for having volunteered. You wouldn't have stabbed him if he wasn't there." And really, it was just the arena's fault for having set off the hallucination at the time they did. Emily couldn't have helped what happened. 

    It wasn't her fault. She couldn't even say how many times she was told that by the in-laws. And yet Gryffon's words felt like he blamed Liam for his own demise, and it hurt. Emily knew it was his decision to go in, it really was his fault. At the same time, it wasn't. He wouldn't have gone in if it weren't for her . . . If she didn't get lost eleven years ago—if his brother didn’t notice her and took her home with them, she wouldn't even be there talking to the Eleven victor. 

    "AND, if it weren't for him, you'd probably be at work right now instead of having an extended breakfast date with me," she smirked, brushing off the hurt with a light tone and dropped her fork. 

    Gryffon found himself rolling his eyes before they narrowed and he shook his head. "If this is a date, then I think I'll go and arrive at work about two days late," Gryffon excused, his tone disgusted and glare annoyed. "Or you can go back in time and not meet him. Take your pick." He forked a bit of food up, though didn't take his eyes off of the redhead. 

    Emily raised her brows in surprise with a little smile on her face. "Woooooooooow, I was kidding. It's a figure of speech, Gryff," she tilted her head at him as he attacked is food. After realizing she shortened his name and it just naturally rolled off her tongue.

    "Gross," Gryffon shook his head again. "Just shut up a bit." He was visibly bothered, uncomfortable, maybe. Or he was just irritated. He gestured toward her with the utensil he held, slightly shrugging. "Don't do that." 

    "Don't do what?" Emily laughed. "Joke?" the redhead raised a brow at him with a smug smile. 

    "You suck at that too, but no, that's fine," he rolled his eyes. "The nickname. It's dumb." 

    "Oooooh," she chuckled, "Does it bother you, Gryff?" Emily waggled her brow at him and smiled.

    The man's eyes narrowed further, pursing his lips. "It's the least you owe me," Gryffon chided. "I could have left you all wet and see-through yesterday." 

    "Well, you really can't go back in time to change that now, can you?" she smirked at him, her eye twinkling to use the nickname again just to annoy him.

    He let out a soft groan and pushed back a bit on his food with the fork, glancing up at her. "You don't neeeed to use the nickname, 'dear'," Gryffon said, picking the stupid pet name in turn to bug her. "Still time to stop." 

    Emily wrinkled her nose at him, her smile turned into a frown. "Okay, fine," she sighed. "Should I call you 'Sunshine' instead?" She recalled Kella calling him that last year when the spoke about mentors she would run into eventually and after spending time with Gryffon, she understood why he was called that.

    "Uhh no," Gryffon deadpanned. "Only Fairbain can, and you're seriously stepping over the line." 

    He looked back down at his plate and pursed his lips, trying to suppress the childish smirk that was trying to break his serious expression. Gryffon scooped up a bit of the peas and corn at the edge of the plate with a spoon and turned the utensil in her direction. Emily furrowed her brows at the man suspiciously, and then the food launched at her. Innocently, he simply dropped the spoon again and picked up his drink, taking a sip from the cup as if nothing had happened. 

    "Really, Gryff? You had to add wasting food to make it clear you don't like nicknames?" she asked grimly, again with his shortened name, and picked at the peas and corn off her clothes and skin and tossed them one by one at him.

    "Of course," he rolled his eyes, lowering his drink, scoffing when she started flicking the food back at him. He pushed up from his spot and shifted over to sit on her side, placing the glass down and leaning exaggeratedly over her shoulder. "No 'Gryff'?" 

    Emily leaned away when he got close and pressed her shoulder to the window. "You're too close, Gryff." STOP IT! At that point it became too natural and it just started to roll off her tongue like she had always been calling him that. "Too close, Gryffon," she corrected herself and nudged him away with her shoulder.

    The man shook his head, seemingly annoyed, but now smirking, barely moving away at her nudge. "No, now too bad. It's been done," he sighed dramatically. "Corrections are pointless." Gryffon glanced her way, raising a brow. "Just watch it now." 

    Emily rolled her eyes at the man and sipped her water, knowing for sure she shouldn't drink anything around the man. "So commanding," she mocked in a lower voice, "Your girlfriend must really like you when you two are alone," Emily smirked with a light sparkle of a joke in her green eyes. 

    He chuckled a little at the joke, but found himself rolling his eyes. "Girl friends, you mean," he corrected, emphasizing the space between 'girl friends' for understanding. "You're not wrong, surprisingly," he continued with a smirk. 

    Emily nearly choked on her drink from laughing, the confidence on him was just astounding. "Really now? You're one hundred percent sure of the satisfaction rate?" the redhead continued on. 

    "If you're so curious, then find out yourself. Not my job to give you exact numbers," Gryffon retorted, cocking his head at her a little. 

   The redhead busted out laughing, hiding her big smile behind her hand and shook her head. He honestly said that? Oh god, his cockiness never ceased to amaze her. "Yeah, I think I'm good," she chuckled and went back to drinking her water, but tried carefully not to laugh and choke on her drink. 

    Gryffon crossed his arms in front of him on the table and glanced over at her, curious and playful. "Oh? There someone else you'd offend? They don't need to know."

    She shook her head. "You're just not my type," she shook her head and nudged him with her shoulder again. "And gross."

    "I'm kidding," he rolled his eyes. "Either way," Gryffon Sauntor drawled, "I think you're scared." 

    Emily rolled her eyes at him. "Don't challenge me," she muttered. Maybe she WAS scared. But she knew for a fact that she wouldn't even touch the man again after what they almost did and for past experiences. "I'm not scared, just don't want to," she answered as she looked down at her drink and drained down the rest of it.

    Gryffon sighed and rolled his eyes. "Uh huh," he started sarcastically, raising a brow in thought. "Last time was when, then? Night before your Games," he asked jokingly. 

    The redhead pursed her lips and tapped her finger against the table then leaned back in their booth chair and shook her head. "Didn't even do it," she answered. Emily and Liam had just finally gotten their feelings out to each other, the last thing Liam would do was take advantage of the moment to do anything more than kiss. "We just kissed . . ." she shrugged. 

    "That's stupid," Gryffon scoffed, rolling his eyes. "Then what?" he asked with a shrug before correcting himself, "Well, when?" 

   "I'm not gonna tell you," she wrinkled her nose in disgust. Not in public. Sure, it lacked people, but there were still people around to hear. "That's personal!" she added and leaned against the window. 

    "Surely not more personal than what I already know?" he questioned. "Your inside voice will suffice in letting me know," the man added in a whisper. 

    She glanced up at him with a grim look and a frown then out the window. "Take a guess. You say an age number and I'll tell you higher or lower," Emily added and ordered herself an alcoholic drink, God knew she'd need it after all.

    The Eleven victor stared at her, almost studying her. Perhaps, evaluating her on the possibility. "I don't know," Gryffon rolled his eyes, glancing back at the waiter as he went to retrieve the drink she ordered. "Thirteen." 

    "Lower . . ." she muttered quietly as she twiddled her fingers.

    He pursed his lips and leaned back on their cushioned seat. "Ten." 

    The waiter came back with her drink and she immediately swallowed a large mouth full. "Lower," she answered then sipped more of her drink. Emily couldn't believe she was talking about that topic with someone she hadn't even met a year before and had two outings with. She was far too trusting of that man . . .

    "Five," Gryffon tossed out the number carelessly, shaking his head. 

    "Higher, thank god," she sighed. Five was a bit much, but at that point she wouldn't be surprised if there were others being harassed at that age. Would she even consider herself lucky?

    "Finally," he commented, but the tone of his voice sounded uncomfortable. "I dunno . . . Eight?" 

    Emily raised her glass to him with a nod and a pained smile. "Ding ding ding, we have a winner," she mumbled and drained all of her drink at once. Make her buzzed to numb the memory and the fright. "And now you know too much . . ."

    "That's disgusting," he commented, raising his bitter drink to his lips and downed most of it. "Buuut," he started, ignoring her statement of him knowing too much, "It's been far too long since. And it doesn't count." 

    Emily chuckled darkly and shook her head. "I think it's been long enough," the redhead laughed and raised her hand for another drink. "Still not going to sleep with you, joking or not."

    "If I'm joking, means I don't actually want to," Gryffon insisted. "Stiiiill not my type." He glanced up at her hand when she beckoned the waiter. "Didn’t know you drank so much," Gryffon commented, half joking. 

    "You're learning a lot about me, lucky you," she commented, half jokes back. The waiter came back with her fruity drink and Emily downed half of it, the dizzy feeling coming faster. "I've just been very good about not getting drunk," she sighed as the waiter took their food they haven't touched in a while. 

    "Mentally stalking you, Em, watch out," he teased with a slight shake of his head, finishing his drink. When the waiter came and collected their untouched food, Gryffon gestured for another. He glanced back at her and chuckled. "Mm, thaaat makes me curious as to how you are drunk."

    "I don't even want to know," she shook her head, her nose wrinkled in disgust and sipped her drink in a smaller mouthful. "I could be an angry drunk," she shrugged. "Wouldn't that be something?"

    Gryffon nodded when his drink was placed in front of him. "You don't look like an angry drunk," he shook his head. "It'd be amusing to see, that's for sure." He tilted the glass and watched as the liquid inside spun a little before taking a mouthful. "Maybe one of those loud, overly honest ones. Who knows until it happens?" he added with a shrug. 

    Emily pursed her lips and thought of it before shaking her head, "Maybe another time. Don't want to be hungover tomorrow going into therapy. She might take the advantage and talk loudly to make my head suffer," she went on and sipped more of her drink. Tipsy, dizzy, a little numb, but in a dreamy and calm way. She was probably done for the day.

    "You could just sleep in," Gryffon chuckled. "Otherwise you owe me another day to see you drunk." 

    "I have the rest of my life working with you," she rolled his eyes. "You have all the time in the world," Emily answered in a singsong and asked for the check from a wandering waitress. 

    Gryffon shook his head, turning his glare on her like a child in disbelief when not getting what they wanted. "Nooo, that's not as fun," he sighed dramatically, "Too many responsibilities before the chance is given and it ruins it." 

     "Awwwwww, poor baby," she cooed and pouted her bottom lip before punching his cheek. "Baby Gryff doesn't like it when someone says ‘no’ to him," Emily went on. He shortened her name earlier, she had the right to shorten his, after all. She then turned to him, brought her legs to her chest, and lightly pushed him with her feet. "Now get out of my side of the booth," she huffed before the waitress handed them their day long check. 

    Gryffon narrowed his eyes at her, then rolled them. "Bitch," he chided. He allowed himself to stand up at her push and glanced at the waiter when he came by. Gryffon pushed the check closer to the redhead before he slid back into his own side. "Fine. But you pay the thing." 

   "Oh god, I can't believe you would make a girl pay the check on a date," she said sarcastically in the most monotonous voice as she pulled the check toward herself and dropped her card into the book. "How tacky and rude," she went on in a Capitol accent and rolled her eyes, sliding it to the edge of the table.

    "I'm sure you can spare the money," he jeered sarcastically, rolling his eyes at her teasingly. "And, sweetheart, I know I'm a very lovable person and you probably really enjoy the thought of it, but this isn't a date," Gryffon mused, smirking. 

    "I know it's not a date, and PLEASE, for the love of god don't call me that or I'm kicking your shin," she threatened with a light laugh.

    "Soooo scared . . . Sweetheart," Gryffon lilted, glancing back at her quickly. 

   The Capitolite took the check. "Gryff . . . Stop," she said and the waitress came back seconds later.

    The man rolled his eyes and let his hands fall into his pockets. "It's a trade off, sweetheart." He had a smirk upon his lips, indicating to Emily that he enjoyed teasing her just as much as she did to him. "Gimme a reason as to why not," Gryffon added with a shrug. 

    Emily quickly pulled her legs to herself and shoved her feet toward his legs, hitting something hard with her feet. Definitely not his shins, but at least he knew she wasn’t joking. "Because it doesn't help the: 'it's not a date' statement," Emily said, her voice high in mockery with a statement. "How about we hang out after my sessions tomorrow, will you stop with the 'sweethearts' if then?"

    The man staggered a bit, and glanced at her before rolling his eyes. "The hell?" he chuckled, then shrugged. "Who knows?" he started. "What time do you get out?" 

    "Usually by the evening," she sighed, after her physical therapy too. She might be exhausted by then, but she had a feeling she didn't want to end her day dealing with Capitolites. Emily pushed herself out of the booth and stood up, stretching her legs and arms once she realized just how long it had been since she last stood up. 

    "Shit," he sighed, "Okay." The man shrugged and started toward the door before turning on his heels to face her. "Sooo where does the demon spawn want to go?" 

    "I don't know," she shrugged. "Where DOES the demon spawn want to go?" she smirked at him, obviously referring to him rather than vice versa.

   Gryffon chuckled, shaking his head. "So funny," he lilted. "I don't know. There are a bunch of places to go that you haven't gone. Pick one." 

    "What is still open at," Emily stopped to check her cellphone watch, "2 a.m.?" She could just go to sleep and see him later in the day, but something told her shaking him off would be difficult. "How about I turn in for the day?" 

    They had been awake all day after all, and she felt exhausted with talking to him the whole time AND actually eating three meals for once.

    "What kind of therapy makes you go in so early and leave so late, by the way?" Gryffon shook his head, pivoting again so he walked straight. "But I guess if you need your sleep, go ahead," he rolled his eyes.

    "Well," Emily began with an eye roll, "I have my 'mental-emotional' therapy where I talk about my feelings. Then after that I have my physical therapy where they bust my ass training how to be a much more skilled killer. I'm basically training like a Career to blow off some steam," she shrugged. It explained why she filled up within the year compared to the soft looking pencil skinny tribute from Eight.

    "Oh?" Gryffon smirked. "I thought it would've been that pansy-pretend-vent shit. But you? Fighting like a Career? Just as hard to imagine as you drunk." 

    Emily shrugged. "It was the only one I responded to when I was stuck here for three months after my Games," she answered and looked around the area they were in. "You know too much about me and you're still an annoying mystery."

    "You already know my name and how many siblings I have—it's more than half the people who try know," Gryffon droned sarcastically, feigning the dramatic tone in his voice. 

    Emily raised a brow at him and kept on walking down the dark yet bright city of lights. "Well I feel lucky," she joked.

    He followed down the street beside her, glancing up at the lights. "You should," Gryffon quipped. "What do you care to know, then? If it's such a problem."

    Emily lightly chuckled, laughing to cover up she didn't have a question that needed to be answered. She pursed her lips, and asked the first thing that came to mind: "Were you the one that sent me the champagne?" He was the only G name in the list of victors that she knew about and wanted to try asking.

    Gryffon blinked away from one of the lights toward the sky and pursed his lips. With a sigh, he looked back down at the redhead and raised a brow as if in wait before she spoke up. He scoffed a laugh at the question, shaking his head slightly. "Woooow, Emily. Yes, that was me. Surprised?" 

    Emily nodded with pursed lips, "Yeah, actually," she answered and crossed her arms over her chest. "How come?"

    "It was a good kill for someone like you," he shrugged. "Figured you'd be able to unwind a bit with it. Keep the show going." And that she did.

    Emily pursed her lips and ran a hand through her hair. So it WAS him, kind of explained his sudden need to see her and say hi the first time they met, he had very small hope for the girl. "Sorry for wasting most of it," she shrugged. Emily was just angry then, vengeful even. Only drank half the drink and broke the bottle after dumping the rest.

    "You think I care?" Gryffon scoffed. "Not my money, not my liquor. Frankly, it was amusing to see you shatter it." It was better for her if she could fight sober anyway. "Was it good at all, by the way?" 

    Emily's nose was wrinkled and her lips pursed in a thin line for a few moments. Then she opened her mouth, then closed it. A silly habit of hers. She opened her mouth again, "It's actually the reason I drink champagne more often now," she admitted. She drank more in Eight, and shared her taste with the boys, so it was the man that got her into drinking without meeting him.

    He rolled his eyes at her, but then nodded a bit. "See, now because of that I have to be the one to get you drunk. Only makes sense." First to get her to try champagne and drink, it made him qualify to make her shitfaced first, too. He glanced up again and caught sight of her building not far now.

    "Ooooooh, so that's what you think," she chuckled. "It only makes sense after all. You wanted a drinking buddy," Emily raised her brows at him and poked his arm.

    Gryffon shook his head, the glance he gave her disgusted. "I'd rather not take the buddy of the alcoholic. I'm sure I'll survive without you as my drinking buddy," he rolled his eyes.

    "I'm hurt," she answered in a monotone and looked to the door of her apartment complex. "Surprise me tomorrow?" she asked as she looked to him.

    "I reeeeally don't want to have to come up with something," he sighed dramatically. "There's been park, a shitty restaurant. The rest depends on your likes, and I don't know them specifically."

    She groaned. "Given your personality, I don't think there's anything I like that you'd be willing to do," Emily shook her head.

    "You'd be surprised at the lengths I’d go to avoid digging up ground and rearranging people's goddamned flowers," Gryffon scoffed. "If it means I get to bail early tomorrow, I'm sure I can make a sacrifice of interest." Sauntor explained that he was a landscaper, a job he had taken after winning. He even whined about the guy he was suppose to work for for that visit. Gryffon didn't even like the guy. Asked to redo his crap every two years. What was the point of that?

    "Again, thanks for telling me I'm more interesting than dirt," she tilted her head and walked to the lobby. "Good night, Sauntor," she waved without turning to him.

   "Whatever," he called back with a slight roll of his eyes as he turned from the building. 

    Emily let out a sigh and ran her hand through her hair as she walked to the elevator. Went a whole day with the man and didn’t dread it, even a little. She felt strange giving the man a chance to redeem himself. Either she was far too trusting or he was really a decent man with walls that needed time to break down. Either way, she said she’d see him again.

    Weird.

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