Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games

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54. What Are We?

From that one phone call from Gryffon Sauntor onward, Emily and him would give each other random calls. Half the time to be annoying to one another, other times having genuine conversations with each other. It was still hard to determine whether or not Sauntor actually enjoyed having conversations with her. Maybe he did. Or maybe he had no one else to be a jackass to and Emily was an easy target to tease. With that, Emily tolerated it; whatever way to avoid Gryffon leaving an embarrassing voice mail again to reveal more of their two nights of meaningless sex for the Aldair brothers to hear.

God, why was she friends with him? Were they even friends?

It had been half a year since she last even saw the man and it wasn't like he had much freedom to leave Eleven to visit her with the stricter security there compared to Eight. Least that was what he told her in last night's phone call. She made a joke about him coming to visit since she had already come over to Eleven twice. Granted, both were for work but the second time she actually did spend time with the Sauntor family. STILL, he had yet to come over to Eight and she didn't expect him to anyways.

"Eight is fucking gross. Just like you," he commented.

So that was a: never.

Emily had her hand placed in Scottie's, her free hand on his shoulder and his on her waist. Scottie kept looking down at his feet while they practiced ballroom dancing, something the youngest Aldair brother hardly practiced growing up. Connor watched the two stumble around in the living room and rolled his eyes at the sight. "Scottie, you should be leading HER, not her leading you—"

"His dancing sucks," Emily commented.

"Hey, I'm really trying here," Scottie grumbled.

"Your 'try' is mediocre at best," Conner criticized.

"Give me a break, at least I remember the steps."

"Hardly," Emily laughed.

"Well excuse me," he lulled sarcastically, "I wasn't exactly your favorite partner growing up."

"That wasn't my fault." She laughed, "Your mom kept shoving me at him."

"He didn't hate being partnered up with you either," Connor commented as he sat down. "You two were practically married since you were eight—"

"That's really uncomfortable," Emily furrowed her brows.

"What? It's kind of true. We all saw it—"

"No, not that. Scottie, your hand is getting REALLY sweaty," she shook her head and pulled her hand away from her brother-in-law's and wipe it on her side.

“Dancing is not my forte!” he defended.

“Yeah, clearly,” Emily playfully scoffed and Scottie nudged her when there was a knock on the door. She paused and looked to the men with a hardened look.

Connor pursed his lips and barely pulled the curtain open to take a peek outside the window to the front door when his brows furrowed together. “Never seen this person before.”

Scottie and Emily walked over to look out the window as well and saw a tall figure in dark clothes and dark hair stand in front of their front door. “What the shit,” Emily cursed under her breath and backed away toward the door.

“Connor, she cursed!” Scottie tattled. 

She rolled her eyes at him when she opened the door with an annoyed look on her face at Gryffon Sauntor. “I’m sorry, I’m not buying Girl Scout Cookies this year.”

“Well that fucking sucks, you could use another ten inches around your chest to almost pass for a woman,” Gryffon answered without hesitation and let himself in.

“Excuse you, I didn’t invite you in,” she huffed. “And how did you know which house I live in?”

“Anyone with a brain can figure out where you live,” he rolled his eyes. That didn’t really answer her question. Her house looked exactly like Phox and Abir’s place. Did hers look newer compared to theirs’? Gryffon looked around until he at the arch door and had the in-laws in his sights. “Did I interrupt a potential gangbang?”

“Gross,” Emily and the Aldair brothers responded in a monotone. “They live here,” the redhead added.

Gryffon raised his brows and studied the older Aldair brother with little to no interest reflected in his eyes then turned to Emily—“Hold on, is this Sauntor?” Scottie asked.

“You talk about me, that’s fucking cute.”

“I’m not trying to stroke your ego, I didn’t say anything good,” Emily rolled her eyes and closed the door behind her.

“Please tell me I’m not the only one remembering that gross voicemail he left,” Scottie muttered to Constantine.

“What was that?” Gryffon raised his brow at the younger Aldair brother.

“He said: ‘By all means, come inside. What do you want? Water? Juice? A knife to cut out your tongue’?” Constantine answered in the fakest smile Emily had ever seen on him.

Gryffon furrowed his brows at the man and turned to Emily incredulously when he heard her snicker behind him. “What? Excuse you? Sorry, all I heard was slobbering from an aged Avox mutt. Try again?”

“Fucking—boys, you’re all very pretty. Please don’t knife each other, I want to try and avoid bloodstains on the carpet or the wood floors,” Emily chuckled and pulled Gryffon toward the kitchen while the Aldair brothers stared with wide eyed offense and in awe at the fact that their sister-in-law allowed that man into her life.

“No no, I’m curious,” Scottie waggled his finger and followed the two into the kitchen and Constantine tried to stop his brother from going, but was too slow to yank him by the wrist. The dirty blonde Aldair brother leaned against the kitchen counter and furrowed his brows with curiosity at Gryffon. “So why does she keep you around? Are you good in bed or something—?”

Emily interrupted him by throwing a fake piece of a fruit at Scottie’s head. “You don’t FUCKING ask people you just met that sort of question, dumbass!” she hissed in an almost high pitched squeal.

“Well YOU’RE not going to talk!” Scottie replied.

“Oh god this is really happening . . .” Constantine groaned and joined them in the kitchen too.

“I dunno, man, Em seems to think so, but you know how HER opinions are. Wanna find out yourself?” Gryffon answered.

“I never SAID you were good!” Emily groaned.

“You didn’t deny it either,” he rolled his eyes.

“Can we PLEASE not discuss this?” Constantine asked, his face pressed into his palms and words muffled behind his hands.

Emily sighed and pressed her hands against her face too, her face turning a bright shade of red. Gryffon laughed, “Is the Avox mutt still trying to talk? All I hear is garbling in the background?” Gryffon asked then turned to Scottie. “She didn’t say so, but here we are several years later. And lemme tell you—she’s the clingiest ever—”

“We’ve only done it twice, Gryffon!” the redhead answered quickly. 

“Twice!?” Scottie explained with wide eyes.

“God, fucking kill me,” she sighed and pressed her forehead against the counter.

Constantine pulled a knife from the drawer and passed it to the Eight victor. “Can you kill Sauntor first then me? This is not how I want to spend my Sunday."

“I think she gets off on murder, so y’all can have fun,” Gryffon replied with a smug-like smile.

Emily was about to answer but Connor touched her wrist, “Please don’t say anymore . . .” he pleaded.

She pursed her lips and tapped her finger against the counter. “Gryffon. The blondish one is Scottie, Liam’s little brother. And the one that has been complaining next to me is his older brother, Constantine.”

“That was obvious. The Avox bitching next to you looks like an exact clone of your dead husband,” Gryffon replied, in the most unimpressed tone.

The redhead pursed her lips and glanced at Constantine. Yeah, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the frightening similarity in appearance. Same gene pool after all. Besides, at least introducing them by name was more to be polite rather than a necessity of their identity. 

“Okay, how about a more appropriate topic,” Scottie huffed, “Sauntor, why are YOU hanging around her? You’re not exactly her type of . . . friend?”

“I get bored, and we all have our last resorts,” Gryffon shrugged.

That . . . actually stung. He only hung around her because he was bored? Him traveling all the way to District 8 and coming to her house was out of boredom? That question she had been asking herself since her visit in Eleven back in the summer repeated in her head. Why was she friends with him? Was he even a friend? Did he even consider her one?

Scottie looked over at Emily and Connor did the same, recognizing her blue behavior then glanced at each other. “Well, I can’t say that was fun. But I’m going to go somewhere else, away from you,” Scottie sighed and pushed himself from the counter. 

Connor took the knife from Emily’s reach and put it back in it’s proper drawer before walking around the kitchen counter to follow his younger brother. “She already tolerates you enough as it is. The least you could do is be nice to her,” Connor added to Sauntor in a cryptic warning of a tone.

Emily took in a deep breath through her nostrils and ran a hand through her long hair. “What am I to you?” she asked Gryffon when the boys disappeared to the living room to watch whatever the Capitol broadcasted.

Gryffon stared at her as if she was the stupidest person alive and she hated how much he looked at her like that. “A person? The hell else would you be?” he questioned.

“No, I mean this,” she shook her head and switched her point from him to herself. “What is this? We’ve been calling each other more often to annoy each other more or less. Sometimes even having actual conversations when you’re not being a massive thorn on my side. What am I to you? Am I your friend?” 

She called him a friend, or on the borderline of friendship and he never denied or accepted the label. Gryffon was never one to give a straight answer and she didn’t expect that anyway. But she always hoped for at least recognition of whatever his thoughts were on them and not some antagonized reply to avoid the question. 

“Friends are for people who actually give a damn, Em,” he answered, coldly and uncaring. Just as she expected.

Emily dropped her eyes to the counter and let out a sigh. Why did she even hope?  “Well you’ll have to leave then. I only let friends into my house and you are not one.” Apparently. Why did she even bother?

“I told you we weren’t friends,” he reminded her and she merely nodded. 

He did and she brushed it off as a joke before. With their stupid moments accompanying each other in the Capitol whenever they were there at the same time for work, their dumb phone calls, even their stupid lustful moments with no strings attached. She had grown to open up to people more because of this stupid guy that forced secrets out of her that only she trusted him to know.

And even though he knew more than her in-laws knew, Gryffon didn’t consider her a friend . . .

“Please leave,” Emily sighed and nudged Gryffon toward the door.

“If you insist,” Gryffon answered with his hands raised in surrender and opened up the door, and there stood an unwelcomed figure that immediately had Emily dodge out of sight. Gryffon looked over his shoulder with furrowed his brows and then back at the stranger. “Who the hell are you?”

“Oh . . . hello,” the balding blonde man responded and tried to look past Gryffon for the flash of red hair that disappeared behind the living room wall. “Is Emily home?”

Gryffon crossed his arms over his chest. For the couple of years he had known Emily, the only time she had hidden from anyone was Gryffon in her first year as a mentor. From that alone it told him that she avoided people that wronged her. She eventually grew comfortable around him, but the man at the front door created some darker and heavier atmosphere that even Gryffon could recognize. Who the hell was that man? “I asked you a question. Who are you?”

“Oh, sorry,” the man chuckled and pulled a fake gentle smile while scratching his bald spot. “I’m her father and—”

In no time at all, Gryffon’s sense to hear was lost. He remembered what Emily had loudly and accidentally revealed; her parents had destroyed her—her father wronged her. He had . . . physically violated her; he did something a father never should have done to his kid! The man had mentally and emotionally broken her . . . Blood rushed into Gryffon’s ears and blind rage consumed him. This guy? This pasty fat piece of shit trying to pass a smile at him was her father? That was the guy that broke Emily? Almost by instinct, Gryffon powerfully kicked the man in the chest and knocked him off the porch and slid back onto the ground.

Emily whipped her head around the corner at the sound of the blonde man gasping for air and Gryffon walking menacingly down the porch steps.

“What was that sound?” Connor reacted the same time Emily got back on her feet. She walked outside witnessed Gryffon kicking the living daylights out of the older man. And she didn’t stop him. She just stared as the man pleaded for Gryffon to stop, bloodied and bruising. But the show soon stopped when Connor and Scottie came running outside and saw what was happening. 

“What the hell—Sauntor, stop!” Connor demanded and took long strides past Emily to Gryffon as the Eleven victor got on his knees and was about to throw punch when Connor grabbed the man by his wrist. “I said stop, Gryffon!” Connor growled and Scottie came in pulling Gryffon back up on his feet and away from the bloodied man.

Emily blinked and shook her head before looking back up at Gryffon as he shook Scottie and Connor off him. He ran a hand through his hair and growled a sigh when Emily softly took him by the arm and tugged him back to the house without so much as a glance back at the man writhing on the ground. Gryffon followed her inside and was only a step into the kitchen when the door behind them slammed shut.

“Why didn’t you stop him, Em!?” Scottie asked when he and his older brother stomped into the kitchen.

She blinked and scratched the back of her head then slapped her hand against her leg, almost too calmly and casually. “Want some alcohol?” Emily asked Gryffon, “Maybe a biscuit?” she shrugged.

Connor stared at Emily with the most incredulous look. “Are you kidding me? You’re rewarding him for attacking a person?!”

Emily shook her head and rubbed her temples with her fingers. “Nah,” Gryffon replied to decline her offer, clearly ignoring the brothers at first, “but you two need to grow some fucking backbones. Why’s that ass even around still?” he asked.

The redhead couldn’t help but smile at the question. He actually cared enough to attack a man that traumatized her and ask why he was still around. GRYFFON SAUNTOR, a selfish narcissistic monster of a man, actually did something for someone other than himself. And without her asking him to. 

“Because we don’t casually try to kill people!” Connor groaned .

“Unclench, Aldair. He’s not going to die from a broken rib,” Gryffon said. 

Connor ran his hands through his hair, shook his head, and walked out of the kitchen with a loud and frustrated huff. Scottie stayed for a couple more seconds and left soon after, leaving Gryffon and Emily alone.

Emily tapped her finger against the counter and blinked slowly. With the adrenaline rush coming to a calming halt, she took in a relieved breath. “Thank you . . .” she quietly said. 

Gryffon rolled his eyes and shrugged, “He had it coming . . .” he replied, as if what he did wasn’t a big deal.

But it was. To her.

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