Johanna gets up in the middle of the night, because for whatever fucking reason, she’s awake.
And she fucking hated the sound of the waves when she first got here, because waves, water, pain, torture, and so on until her brain curled in on itself and left her gasping for breath.
She didn’t go down to the beach for weeks, even though it’s like 20 yards away. Stayed on this side of the dunes, mostly stayed in the house and away from the Fours and the other Victors and people who like to try to talk to her. Finnick she’ll talk to, and Annie, the people who actually know her and don’t ask stupid fucking questions, and don’t hang around awkwardly trying to be nice when she doesn’t want to talk.
Now, though, she walks out to the front porch, down the steps into the sand and listens to the waves and they’re soothing. Because the noise is a constant, insistent reminder that she’s here, in Four, with the sky above and the sea stretching out to the horizon and nobody to make her do anything. Not Snow and his goons, not the assholes in 13, not the well-meaning idiots who dragged them through hearings, Victors peeling their skin off for everyone’s entertainment one more time before they were cast off as no longer important. No, here she can shut her door and refuse to come out, she can disappear down the beach for the entire day, she can climb one of the scrubby sand pines and hide out watching them all, down below.
She hasn’t seen anyone for a few days, Finnick and Annie haven’t come by and she hasn’t cared enough to go further than the ridge of dunes where she’s standing now, watching the waves crash a comfortable distance below. She can see the Victor’s Village from here, dark, mostly, see the edge of town by the streetlights’ glow, let the memories of screaming agony fade out of her head, the tangles of remembered pleasure and shame and pain smooth out a little in the wind.
She walks down to the beach, digs her toes into the loose sand, well away from the crashing waves. Someday she’ll let them talk her into the water, but for now, just the splash of saltwater on her skin is enough to twist her stomach. So she stays high on the beach as she walks toward the Victors’ Village, which she’s supposed to call something else now, but she can’t be bothered to remember. She’s getting close when she sees someone, wading knee-deep in the surf, and she tenses and shifts further from the water until she recognizes Finnick, his kid in his arms, singing softly.
It’s gross, objectively, how he looks at the kid like it’s the only thing in the world, like nothing out of the past matters, like life began when the kid emerged screaming out of Annie (not that she was there to see). But while she has to roll her eyes, she also smiles a little, because he doesn’t think anyone’s watching and he’s letting the waves knock him a little, side to side, one wide hand cradling the baby’s head.
She stops, but doesn’t leave, and he stops when he recognizes her but doesn’t leave the water. “Hey Johanna,” he says, just loud enough to be heard over the waves.
“Couldn’t sleep?” he asks, rocking back and forth with the baby.
She shakes her head. They’re still figuring out how to talk without the huge unspoken everything that isn’t there any more, and it’s better, of course it is, but it took about two minutes from getting off the train to realize that Finnick in Four isn’t anybody she knows. He’ll pull out the sarcasm for her, has when she’s needed it to push against, but he’s softer here. Has his guard down, and she can hurt him too easily if she’s not careful.
“You and this guy,” Finnick says, kissing the baby’s head. He looks back at Johanna. “Annie really needs the sleep so I said I’d take him.”
Johanna gives him a crooked smile. “It’s nice out,” she says, and it is, cool breeze coming in off the water, mostly-full moon giving enough light to see by.
Finnick moves up onto the sand and she moves down to meet him, and she feels half-self-conscious, she woke up in a cold sweat and it’s been a while since she’s screwed herself up to shower properly and her hair’s sticking up all over where she was pulling it–and Finnick is gorgeous, even more than he was in the Capitol, even with tired eyes and scruffy clothes.
He sits, pats the sand next to him, balances the baby on his knees. Johanna looks at him sideways, sits down an arm’s length away. “Still hate the water, huh?” he says, and it’s 3AM in the moonlight and so she sighs instead of glares.
“I like the sound,” Johanna admits, and Finnick smiles, way too genuine.
“It’s a start,” Finnick says, doesn’t push.
They sit there for a while. Finnick lays back against the sand, and the baby falls asleep on his chest. Eventually, Finnick falls asleep himself, head dropping to one side, body going slack against the sand.
Johanna watches. At first she’s watching around them, looking out for anyone coming, then she manages to relax a little more and watch Finnick, and the baby, to wonder how in the hell they trust the world, trust the ocean enough to sleep, open and unguarded.
The sun starts peeking up eventually, and when the first light hits them the baby wakes up, starts fussing. Finnick’s eyes snap open immediately, even though it’s no louder than the bird noises he’s slept straight through, puts a hand on the baby’s back and starts to sit up.
“Hey there,” he says, quiet, to the kid, moving him around a little until he quiets back to sleep. Then he looks at Johanna, who’s still lying on her back watching the sky.
“You sleep at all?” he asks, and she shakes her head.
“No,” she says, sitting halfway up on her elbows. “It’s okay though.”
He looks at her, a little skeptical, and she shrugs. The baby fusses again, and he glances toward his house, then back to her. “I should…” he trails off.
“Go,” Johanna says, climbs to her feet, and he does too. “See you around,” she says with a small smile, old familiar words but not the same as before.
“We’ll stop by,” Finnick says, a little apologetic.
Johanna nods. “Okay,” she says.
The baby cries, and Finnick sighs, turns back toward the house, and Johanna watches him go.