kawuli (kawuli) wrote,
kawuli
kawuli

Annie Cresta: Just be honest

Just be honest (1986 words) by kawuli
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Hunger Games Trilogy - Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games Series - All Media Types
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Annie Cresta/Finnick Odair, (pre-relationship)
Characters: Annie Cresta, Finnick Odair, Mags (Hunger Games)
Additional Tags: Implied/Referenced Rape/Non-con, canon-typical horribleness, Annie Cresta is not stupid
Series: Part 2 of Ain't nothing but a family thing
Summary:
She thought they were friends.

Annie knows she’s the new girl, the strange one nobody’s quite sure what to do with, but she’s been settling in, these weeks, and Finnick had been coming over and bringing baked goods and taking her out swimming and it’d been nice.

And then he had to go to the Capitol.

In which Annie Cresta knows how to read people better than anyone's prepared for.


She thought they were friends.

Annie knows she’s the new girl, the strange one nobody’s quite sure what to do with, but she’s been settling in, these weeks, and Finnick had been coming over and bringing baked goods and taking her out swimming and it’d been nice.

And then he had to go to the Capitol, and of course she didn’t take that personally, even if she did feel a little guilty about not going herself. Relieved, mostly, the very idea of even the train makes her whole body freeze, her breath coming shallow from her chest. But she’s the newest Victor and she remembers after Finnick won, seeing him all over the TV at Capitol events and being proud of him.

District Four isn’t proud of her. Mags wouldn’t let her get away with saying it out loud, but Annie knows. She won, and they’re glad, but she broke, and District Four is supposed to know how to read the tides, go with the flow, not supposed to be brittle and fragile and shattered.

So Annie stayed home and Finnick went to the Capitol and smiled all through Games Talk and a thousand celebrity shows, and Mags turns off the TV every time she finds Annie watching, but Annie knows.

She’s looking forward to seeing him again, and so the morning his train gets in she’s up and dressed and ready for whatever he’s going to suggest, swimming, maybe, he’s probably tired of being around so many people.

But he doesn’t come. She sees him go into the house, sees him come out in swim trunks and disappear, doesn’t see him come back because she’s not spying on him like some lovesick child, she’s better than that.

The next morning she takes herself out of the house, because it’s better than waiting, and she’s walking down the beach when she sees him coming towards her. He’s running, barefoot, in the dry sand, breathing hard, and he flashes a forced smile and waves but doesn’t stop.

The next morning he’s swimming, out so far she can only catch the glint on the wake he’s making behind him. Every morning it’s like that—and Annie leaves the house early, she still doesn’t sleep well and if she stays in she’s likely to stay in all day, but Finnick is always out before her, always still out when she comes home, goes into his house at some point later and doesn’t come out again.

She asks Mags, and Mags sighs. “Give him some time,” she says, sounding sad, and tired. “He’ll be over when he’s ready.”

“What’s he training for?” Annie asks, and it’s a rude question, invasive, but Mags just shakes her head.

“Just training to train,” Mags says, and now she gives Annie a sharp look. “Let the boy be.”

Annie isn’t sure why it’s a sore subject but it sure seems to be, so she drops it.

Finally one morning she sees him just standing on the shore, looking out at the waves. He’s been swimming, his hair’s wet, but it’s the first time she’s seen him still since he left for the Capitol.

He watches her approach. “Hey,” he says, not quite meeting her eyes.

“Hi Finnick,” she says, casting around for something to say. “You been busy lately,” she settles on, inane sounding as it is.

Finnick laughs under his breath. “Yeah,” he says. He looks at her, considering, then pulls himself straight and smiles. “Hard to get the time for training in the Capitol. Making up for lost time.”

Annie keeps her mouth closed and doesn’t let her eyes widen, but it’s a close thing. “I guess it would be,” she says, carefully, nothing words all something like that deserves for a response.

Finnick looks hurt nonetheless, but then he rolls his shoulders, his neck, and smiles again. Annie is starting to distrust that smile. “See ya around, Annie,” he says, takes off running on the edge of the waves.

Something is going on here, and Annie doesn’t like it—especially the part where people are lying to her. She swims for a bit, lazy circles out past the swell, rides the waves in and then swims back out. Finnick comes back, running through the dry sand now, doesn’t even notice her as he sprints up the steps, out to the little outdoor gym Mags says is Theo’s.

Annie’s getting tired, so she lets the waves carry her in one more time, sits on the beach and watches Finnick move from pull-ups to the free weights made of scrap metal and concrete, through a circuit that would leave Annie gasping even if she hadn’t run a good couple miles beforehand. He does it three times, and on the last it takes all Annie’s self-control not to go up there and stop him. He’s exhausted and sloppy and he’s going to pull something, and when he finishes it looks like he’s going to start again until Odysseus walks over and puts a hand on his shoulder.

Annie’s too far away to hear what they’re saying, but Finnick’s shoulders slump and he follows Odysseus down from the point and into Odysseus’s house.

Annie goes back home, fuming, and doesn’t even bother with the shower, just pulls on a sundress and stomps over to Mags’ place.

Mags is sitting on the porch swing with a book and looks up as Annie gets close. Annie stands closer than she should, crosses her arms and glares down at Mags.

“What the hell is up with Finnick?” she asks.

Mags had been smiling a little through the whole performance, but now her face falls and she sighs. “Come inside,” she says, shifting past Annie and heading for the door.

Annie follows, but doesn’t take the seat Mags offers her. She’s too wound up to sit still. “What’s wrong?” she asks, “He was fine, and then he went to the Capitol, and now he won’t talk to me and spends mornings trying to— that’s not training,” Annie is certain of that much. “If it was he’d be smarter about it.”

Mags is fussing in the kitchen, comes out with sweet tea and hands Annie a glass before going to sit in her rocking chair. “No,” she admits, in a strained voice, “You’re right about that.”

“What’s so bad about the Capitol that makes him try and run to 11?”

“You’ve seen the TV,” Mags says, her voice strained.

“Yeah,” Annie says, “But that’s not it.” She’s pushing, and Mags doesn’t want to tell her, and she should back off because Mags always knows best, but she’s so mad, and she needs to know what’s going on.

“He should tell you,” Mags says, softer, “but he won’t want to.”

“So you tell me.”

Mags sighs deeply. “Those love affairs he’s supposedly always having?” She waits for Annie to nod, then goes on. “They’re not his idea. Snow picks his…companions…and they pay for the privilege. To Snow,” she says quickly, “Not Finnick.” She pauses, studies Annie’s face.

She’s looking for weakness, but Annie didn’t train for years to show it when she needs to look strong. Annie doesn’t say anything.

“There’s others, things they don’t show, but the point is, Finnick can’t say no to any of it.”

There’s roaring in Annie’s ears now. She should have sat down, but she can’t now. Mags will stop if she thinks Annie can’t handle it. “They wanted me,” Annie says, her voice low but steady.

Mags nods. Annie tries to breathe, tries to count the inhales and exhales, tries to keep her shoulders back and down, all the things she knows to stay strong, but realization hits her like a tidal wave. “They want me.”

Mags stands up, takes Annie’s hand, guides her to the old couch and sits down next to her.

“Mags, I—“ Annie chokes. “I can’t, I—“ she’s looking for a weapon now, anything to defend herself, but this is Mags’ house and there’s nothing sharp outside the kitchen.

“I know, girl,” Mags says, taking Annie’s hands in hers. “I know, it’s okay, we’re keeping you here, keeping you safe, it’s okay.”

Annie wants to lash out, to ask why she gets babied when Finnick doesn’t, but she can’t, not with the fear finally washing through the anger she’s been using as a levee all morning. She can’t do what Finnick does, couldn’t even finish her Games interviews, still can’t leave the Village alone, and he—well. Of course he’s trying to kill himself training.

Mags is talking to her still, trying to get her to breathe, and that’s when she notices her shallow quick breaths, her racing heartbeat, her knees pulled to her chest. Annie drops her feet to the ground. Leans down until her forehead can rest on her arms can rest on her knees. Lets her hair, still damp and salt-tangled, hang around her face and hide her. Mags runs a hand over her back, quiet, until Annie manages to get her breathing under control and sits up. She’s crying now.

“Annie,” Mags says, soft but with a core of steel. “We’re going to keep you safe, y’hear?”

Annie knows that’s a lie, it’s a promise nobody can keep, the world is more dangerous than she even knew and nobody can keep anybody safe. But it’s a nice thought.



The next day Finnick comes over, around lunchtime, freshly showered and with a tin that Annie’s guessing is full of something baked and sweet. He stands awkwardly on the porch when she answers the door, runs a hand through his hair before saying, “Hi, and I’m sorry, and I brought cookies.” He’s not smiling.

She lets him in. They walk through to the porch and instead of flinging himself onto the hammock, Finnick folds into the straight-backed wooden chair by the railing, fixes his gaze on the far-off horizon.

“Mags told you,” he says, flat.

“Yeah,” Annie says, “Enough, anyway.” She pauses, not sure what to say. “I’m sorry,” she adds finally, and it’s wrong but she can’t think of anything better.

His eyes don’t lose their unfocused distance, but one corner of his mouth quirks up. Annie looks at him, really looks, the way she hasn’t been letting herself since he’s obviously been avoiding her. He’s exhausted, deep circles under his eyes, and with all the overtraining he’s dropped weight, veins standing out on his forearms where he’s holding the tin too tight, cheekbones sharp in his face. Finally he lets out a long breath, presses his thumb against the bridge of his nose, and looks at her.

“And you still want to be friends?” His voice is strange, young and uncertain and scared.

“Yeah,” Annie says. “I do.” She wants to add “you idiot” to the end, make it flippant and jokey and less intense, but something tells her that would be a really bad idea.

He nods, looks down. Annie can see his chest rising and falling, wonders if he’s counting his breaths the way she does. After six exhales he looks up. “Brought you something,” he says, and he sounds like he’s trying to be himself even if he’s not quite succeeding. Annie reaches out and takes the tin, opens it. Chocolate coconut cookies. Her favorite, and expensive ingredients, and fiddly to make. She knows a peace offering when she sees one.

“Thank you,” Annie says, looking Finnick in the eye. His gaze keeps darting away, skittish, and then coming back. “And just—“ she pauses, not sure how to say it. “Just be honest, okay?”

Finnick nods, solemn.

“Okay,” Annie says again. Looks outside at the brilliant sun. “I know you’re probably tired,” she says, “but d’you wanna go swimming?”

This time she gets a real smile, and a whole one.

They swim for a bit, stretch out to dry on the warm sand, and when Annie looks over, Finnick is asleep.
 
Tags: annie, finnick
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