The conversation the President and I had echo's in my head.
"Good evening Mr. Mellark." My skin crawls as my name escapes his mouth. I do not say anything and just stare at him.
"The Mockingjay, or Katniss Everdeen as started a rebellion in the Districts; and I need you to be our weapon against her and the rebels." As I process what the aging man said, it becomes clear. I have to fight against Katniss. The very thought makes me sick, but I cannot pretend I am not going to do it. I have no idea if Katniss is safe or where she is. My words could bring the worst payment on top of her fragile shoulders. Death. I could be the one responsible for Katniss's death. The very thought repulses me. To get my mind off the subject I question the President.
"Where is Katniss?" I ask, the worry clear in my voice.
"With the rebels, in District Thirteen." Snow informs me.
"Is she safe?"
"Oh Mr. Mellark, hopefully not for long. Hopefully the world will no longer have the presence of Katniss Everdeen." Coriolanus grins wickedly.
With my eyes brimming with tears, I ask another question.
"Where is Effie?"
"Oh, don't worry about her, Peeta. Your beloved Effie is safe" I let out a huge sigh "here in the Capitol." My breathe hitches as I realize she was probably with the Rebels; and could be killed or torture.
"Now, enough chit-chat. You need to rest, you have an interview with Caesar tomorrow." And with that President Snow is gone.
I did not sleep at all last night. I had nightmares about Katniss dying. I woke up in cold sweat several times, anxiously hoping Katniss would be there. I hoped to hold her to my chest as she was afraid and protect her. Now here I am, minutes away from fighting against the Rebels. The very side I wish I was on.
Portia was doing last minute adjustments to my outfit. I wore a white, almost cream, suit coat. White pants, white shoes, white shirt.
"Now, let me see that smile." I weakly smile remembering that Portia would ask me to show her before my past interviews. She gives me a sad smile. My heart breaks and I pull her into my embrace. The minute her head hits my shoulder, she cries. I also let a tear slip, but I am determined to not give the President any satisfaction of knowing that I am in pain.
Portia breaks the hug and wipes her tears. I kiss her forehead, adjust my suit, run my hands through my hair, and walk to the chair Caesar sits across from.
I pull my leg up and rest it on my knee, placing my hands on my knee. I glance up at the projector behind Caesar. I look to find myself. My cheeks are a little thinner, and the bags underneath my eyes do not go unnoticed.
I hear music indicating that Caesar and I's interview will be aired momentarily to all of Panem. I cling to the hope that where ever Katniss may be, that she will watch and see me. Bright lights snap me back into reality. Caesar tells the camera that every must drop what they are doing to watch this. I highly doubt the rest of Panem knows that I am here. I sallow as Caesar turns to me.
"Peeta, I have to say; I wasn't expecting to see you here again." Caesar says with sympathy in his eyes. I know that Caesar is a piece in Snow's game, as am I.
"Me too, Caesar." I confess.
"What is it like in the arena?" Caesar questions me.
"Well you have to know one thing. You only get one wish in the arena, and it costs everything you are." Caesar Flickerman nods his head "My last wish was to save Katniss, but I couldn't. I will never be able to forgive myself." I say in remorse.
"Peeta, tell me. What happened on the last night in the arena when you lost Katniss?"
I hesitate to tell him, to tell all of Panem. I decide to tell him. I know something bad will happen if I don't.
I give a big sigh and begin. "I shouldn't of let her go. I should have gone with her when she asked me too. I was stupid, but I didn't."
"Wrapped up in Beetee's plans I assume? Caesar guesses.
"We all were."
"Now Peeta, tell me this. You and Katniss surely knew what was going on, didn't you?" This comment angers me.
"No, Caesar. How could we?"
"But you saw Katniss shoot the arrow into the force field." I had seen her shoot it, on tape and when it happened.
"She didn't know what she was doing." I lie to him, with pure agitation in my voice. Katniss knew exactly what she was doing. I am only guessing that she figured out who the real enemy is minutes before she destroyed the arena. If I was there next to her, maybe I could have persuaded her not to shoot. I will never know what would have happened if I took the wire with Katniss and helped her.
I hadn't realize I was standing; let alone mere inches away from Caesar puts his hands defensively on my chest. I take two steps back and sit down in the fancy, plush chair. I run my hands through my hair.
"Peeta, I was going to ask your thought on war, but if you can't." Caesar tells me in a calm voice.
"No, Caesar. I am able to tell." I sigh and sift my position to look directly into the camera, at Panem and most importantly Katniss.
"I do not think we should have a war. Look what the last one did. We almost made our selves extinct. Katniss, ask yourself. Do you trust the people you’re working with? Do you know what they are doing? If not then ask."
"Peeta, are you calling for a cease fire?" Caesar Flickerman inquires, clearly shocked.
"Yes, Caesar. I am." Truth be told, I am not calling for a cease fire. If anything I want the Districts to destroy the Capitol, but I can't say that out loud. It could come back to hurt me. For now, I have to play my part in Snow's game.
"Peeta Mellark." Caesar says. Right after my name is mentioned, the Capitol seal appears and the anthem plays, indicating that our interview is done.
I am immediately grabbed. Two Peacekeepers take ahold of my arms, a third cuffs my wrists. With iron grips on my shoulders, the Peacekeepers move me towards the elevator. As the elevator closes, I realize we are going back to my cell.
As the metal doors open, I am greeted with a ear piercing scream, that could be only made by a female voice. I look in all the cells as we pass them. The cell right before mine has someone in it. The Peacekeepers stop, letting me watch the horror unfold right before my eyes.
I see a young women hanging upside down attached to some kind of platform. Her head is in water, Peacekeepers not letting her come up for air. She hangs there withering, desperately trying to lift her head from the two galloon bucket of water. The Peacekeepers finally let her come up for air. She lift her head up coughing, gasping for air, and spluttering. The Peacekeepers untie her arms and legs and let her drop onto her head on the floor. They kick her several times before picking up the water bucket and leaving.
I make a sound somewhere between a cry and moan from what I had just witnessed. Apparently the girl hears it and heads snaps up. She pushes her short, red and black hair from in front of her face. My knee's start to give out as I realize who it is. Johanna Mason. Johanna notices me too, but slumps to the floor in exhaustion and pain. I desperately wish I could run to her and comfort Johanna, but the Peacekeepers start walking again; forcing me to walk with them.
The shove me into my cell and take the handcuffs off. I rub my wrists, not knowing that they were in pain. As I look at them, I realize they are all red. Suddenly part of the wall opens and white hospital clothes are thrown into my cell. I run over to them and put them on; not wanting to be in this stiff, uncomfortable suit any longer. After I put my clothes on, the floor opens up, taking the white outfit down below.
I walk over to a wall and sit down. I put my hands on my knee's, and put my face in my hands. Exhausted from the day's events I fall asleep.
I hear a voice calling my name. At first I think it is Katniss's, but then register that it is horse, jagged and weak. I jerk away and look for the voice.
To my surprise the wall opposite of my has now become bars.
"Peeta." The voice says again.
I am so shocked at her physical state that it takes me a minute to register that she needs me. I stand up and run over to the bars, taking the hand reaching out for my, in mine. I can't help but stare as I look at this girl's appearance. Her hair is messy; and in some places, missing. My eyes look at her face. This girl's eyes have lost the life they once possessed, her right eye is almost completely swollen shut. Bruises cover her face, a large cut runs from her hair line to her cheek bone. I follow the cut down her face, then look at the fragile hand I hold. This girl's hand is smaller than any one's I've seen. My eyes find her arms and realize that she has lost at least thirty pounds. This girl looks as if I could break her in half at any moment.
Pain sears my heart and it takes everything inside me not the cry. This girl is Johanna Mason.