The guy who comes in after Katniss and Peeta gives me the creeps. Especially after he said that Willow reminds him of Katniss. His alcohol problems reminded me of my dad. Great.
"Sorry about him," Katniss says sharply. "Has a bit of a temper. And a drinking problem."
I cross my arms. "I know that too well." Willow looks over at me, concern filling her eyes. She knows exactly what I'm talking about.
Katniss seems partially hurt by my remark, but quickly adds, "He's a great mentor, though."
Willow nods and gives me a look, Want me to tell them?
I nod. Willow lets out a sigh and takes in a breath.
"Rye's mother died giving birth to him. His dad became depressed and gained a drinking problem when he was a baby. He lived with the Mellarks when he was four. When he was ten, his sister, Anne, and him gained enough money to buy a small cottage really close by." Her grip on my hand becomes a little tighter.
Peeta puts a hand on his chin. "That's how I know you. I knew I'd heard your name before. You also seemed fairly familiar."
Katniss nods her head. "Childhood friends with their own mentor. That's new to me."
Willow seems a little annoyed by the conversation, considering her angry stare and the fact that her grip is tightening by the second.
"I need to speak to you, Rye." She nudged her head in the direction of the bedrooms. I nod and stand, not letting go of Willow's hand.
"Nice to meet you, Katniss and Peeta." Then, I turn towards the bedrooms and walk into mine, with Willow right behind me.
She takes a seat on my bed, her arms crossed. "I don't like them."
I take a seat next to her and rub her hair. "Wil, it's alright. I'm here for you."
She sits up and hugs me, a tear dripping from her cheek to my shirt.
"I'm so scared, Rye," She whispers into my ear. "Scared of the Games. Scared of losing you. Scared of myself. I don't wanna be here." She chokes back a sob. "I wanna go home." Then, she lets the gates break. And the tears come. I just hold her, rubbing her head.
When I was five, I thought Willow was tough and funny, a friend I was longing for. When I was eight, I still thought of her as strong, but I had a major crush on her. When we were nine, Penny screamed in the hallway that Willow liked me, and I still liked her at the time. We never dated. We only kissed on the back porch of her house when we were ten. No one knew about that. We didn't intend on telling anyone, since Penny was my girlfriend now. Willow never dated after that kiss. Penny thinks it's because she's shy. I think otherwise. But, after all that time, after all those years, I still think of her as strong. It surprises me every time she cries. But this time, I understand. I miss Anne, who is my home. I miss Penny, who is our best friend. I miss District 12, even if it was poor and hopeless. I love it there. It's where I grew up. It's where I met my best friends. It's where I live.
I whisper reassuring words to Willow, praying that no one will come in and see her in her broken state. This will stay between us, like every other crying incident I've experienced. I care about Willow. I love her, maybe not romantically, but I love her like a sister. She's always been there for me and I intend to be there for her, through thick and thin.
I don't know what time it is, but we fall asleep on my bed, hugging with wet shirts. We didn't have dinner that night. I wasn't hungry and neither was Willow. We tried to avoid people in any way that we could. We just wanted to be alone. I think everyone else got the message since no one ever came in.
I woke up in the same position as when I fell asleep, but with a drier shirt. I slipped out of Willow's grasp, trying not to wake her. I stood over her for a moment. I've seen her like this countless times, when she would sleep at my house or when I would sleep at hers. She always looks so peaceful. It soothes me.
I open up the door and go into the room where we sat yesterday, which now has a small buffet of breakfast food. I look around for a clock to see the time. 10 am.
I grab a plate from the table and put a biscuit and some berries. Nothing too heavy that my stomach couldn't handle.
I take a seat in the chair I sat in yesterday. The berries are flavorful and fresh. The biscuit is flaky and warm.
"Good, isn't it?" I look up to see Katniss, with a plate of a few small foods. She sits across from me and starts to eat.
"Yes," I reply blankly and keep eating.
"I hope we didn't upset Willow yesterday. We were only trying to help."
I look up and roll my eyes. "She has a troubled past, like me. She isn't happy here. And neither am I." I take to my biscuit again.
Katniss chuckles. "You're not supposed to enjoy it. It's the Hunger Games."
I look up at her. "Can I keep her alive?"
She looks at me. "You have to be able to do one thing; a brave thing."
I nod my head. "What?"
She leans forward. "You have to be willing to give everything for her. You have to be willing to throw yourself in front of a bullet for her. You have to look at her with full protection in your eyes. You have to be able to throw away your old life and prepare for what your choosing to do. I mean, take me and Peeta for example. I didn't have any plans of keeping him alive, only me. He, on the other hand, wanted me to win. Once I realized that, I wanted to protect him. Besides Gale and Prim, I would do anything for him to live. He's a much better person than me."
I nod. "I'm willing to do that. I'm willing to die for Willow to come home. She needs to come home. She can't die."
"It's up to you, whether she lives or dies."
Then, Katniss stood, and exited the room.