kawuli (kawuli) wrote,
kawuli
kawuli

Johanna: Still breathing at any cost

Still breathing at any cost (4176 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: Johanna Mason & Finnick Odair, Haymitch Abernathy/Johanna Mason
Characters: Johanna Mason, Haymitch Abernathy, Finnick Odair, Blight (Hunger Games), Cashmere (Hunger Games)
Additional Tags: Dubious Consent, specifically: people who are very drunk having unhealthy sex, Alcohol Abuse/Alcoholism, Drug Use, Smoking, Age Difference, Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms, Canon-Typical Violence, canon-typical horribleness, THIS IS JUST REALLY UGLY OKAY
Series: Part 4 of Please feel free to take this personally
Summary:

“What are you, my chaperone?” Johanna asks, as the bartender brings her new drink.
Haymitch snorts. “Wouldn’t want that job,” he says, “Hear it’s not got such a good life expectancy.”
Johanna gapes at him. He laughs, downs his drink, slides the glass across the bar. “What?” he asks, sarcastic, “No dead family jokes between colleagues?”

HEED THE TAGS everything is terrible

If the Games aren’t ever going to be sweet, at least this year they’re short. Both of the Seven kids are out within the first day, and when the boy goes down with a spear through his ribs Johanna stands up, drops her headset, walks out.

“Johanna—“ Ila calls after her, but she waves at him vaguely and he doesn’t follow.

She shouldn’t care, she shouldn’t get invested in these stupid fucking doomed kids who won’t ever make it, should be more like Blight and Ila keeping everything at arm’s length. They’ve had more practice, she figures, and if it’s still a gut punch when the kids die at least it’s not a stab wound anymore. Third Games out and she’s building up a hell of a lot of scar tissue already. Two dead strangers don’t seem so bad when she never even got to bury her parents because Snow cremated them so efficiently for her.

She needs a drink. No, needs to be drunk. Needs to be drunk enough that sometime before tomorrow she can pass out and not dream. Does not need to go out into the Capitol, though, refuses to go to the Seven floor where Blight and Ila will be coming in and those kids’ things will be packed up and shipped home along with the coffins.

Good thing there’s options.

Didn’t take her long to figure out the difference between the bar in the lobby, where sponsors and clients flirt with Victors, and the bar upstairs, where nobody goes but them. Downstairs is more interesting, fun even sometimes. Upstairs is for times like right now.

Upstairs is where she heads, crosses past the couches and the TV blaring something moronic and sits at the bar to save everyone some trouble.

“Whiskey, neat, double,” she says, and the bartender just nods. They don’t ask questions up here. Although, ha, she’s almost 19, no longer Reaping eligible, she could walk into any bar in Panem and get served even if she wasn’t a Victor.

There’s a snort and Johanna looks over. Haymitch is sitting with his weight on his elbows, a glass in front of him that’s a truly alarming color of green.

“That supposed to be impressive?” Haymitch asks when he sees her looking. He waits till the bartender brings her drink, raises his. Johanna downs the whiskey and, since Haymitch made the comment, makes sure she doesn’t wince. Haymitch sips at his and smirks at her.

“Brett,” he says, calling over the bartender. “Get the girl something a little more interesting.”

Johanna raises an eyebrow. “Excuse me?”

Haymitch grins, too many teeth and not really funny. “Still early,” he says, “Don’t get ahead of yourself.”

“What are you, my chaperone?” Johanna asks, as the bartender brings her new drink. She sips it. Whiskey sour, and fine, whatever, at least it’s not whatever the fuck Haymitch has.

He snorts. “Wouldn’t want that job,” he says, “Hear it’s not got such a good life expectancy.”

Johanna gapes at him. He laughs, downs his drink, slides the glass across the bar. “What?” he asks, sarcastic, “No dead family jokes between colleagues?”

Johanna snaps her mouth closed and scowls. “Ah,” Haymitch says, picking up his next drink, an entirely different and still unnatural blue. “You’ve seen my greatest hits tape.”

What the fuck kind of game is this? Johanna wonders. But fuck it, she’s got nothing better to do. “Oh, well,” she says, “Not sure it’s your greatest hits, you weren’t actually a character.”

He laughs out loud at that. “Good point,” he says, “More like Snow’s greatest hits, really. I guess he’s got another one now.” He raises his glass in a mocking salute. Johanna laughs, grating and ugly, and meets his glass with her own. Gulps down half of it before it threatens to choke her.

“Brett, turn on the Games, will ya,” Haymitch says. The bartender raises an eyebrow and does. All of a sudden the silence clicks.

“He’s an Avox, isn’t he?” Johanna asks.

“‘Course he is,” Haymitch says, “That’s why I like him, he can’t talk back.”

Brett raises two middle fingers, and Haymitch guffaws again.

“Careful,” Johanna says, finishing her drink and sending the glass spinning across the bar, “He’s the one making your drinks.”

And hers might not’ve been all whiskey but it was mostly whiskey, and she’s relaxing a little, when Haymitch points up at the screen and whistles. The boy from D4 sends a spear spinning in slow motion, through an outlier kid Johanna can’t ID on the small screen.

“Impressive,” he says. “Odair’s been rubbing off on ‘em.”

Johanna snorts. “Pretty boy’s not got time for teaching kids,” she says, and her glass is back, full, and she sips from it, tells herself to slow down, just a little.

Haymitch’s mouth curls into a sour smile. “Prob’ly not,” he agrees, spinning his glass in his hands. “Still, good arm that kid’s got.”

“Why the fuck are you watching?” Johanna blurts out, a little less sarcastic than she’d intended.

Haymitch looks at her, rolls his eyes. “What else am I gonna do, sweetheart?” he says, dripping condescension, “If it bothers you, go watch soap operas over there.” He jerks his chin over to where a handful of people are watching something on the big screen in the corner.

Johanna shudders. Haymitch smirks again. “Yeah, me, I’d rather something a little less nauseating.”

Johanna raises an eyebrow, but Haymitch just sits there, smug in his assertion that watching teenagers kill each other is somehow less sick than whatever saccharine Capitol shit is on the other TV. She cocks her head. “Fair point,” she grants, drinks and looks back up to where the kids on the TV are slapping D4M on the back, while he tries not to look haunted.

Haymitch’s look is definitely appraising now, until he looks back up at the screen. They drink in silence for a while, the inane commentary filling the space.

Haymitch snorts. “Yeah sure, Caesar,” he says, “That scrawny kid from 10 is definitely gonna put up a fight.”

Johanna laughs. “What?” Haymitch gestures at the TV. “Guy talks like we’re stupid.”

Johanna tilts her head, granting the point—mostly. “Bet you said the same thing about me, though,” she says.

He grins, raises his glass, drains it. “Sure did,” he laughs. “You never fucking know, I guess.”

His next drink is purple.

“Are you fucking drinking through the rainbow?” Johanna asks.

“No, the menu,” Haymitch says, taking a sip and making a face.

“There’s a menu?” Johanna asks. Haymitch waves at the bartender, who skims one down the bar from where he’s serving a couple of Ones Johanna recognizes from some parties last year.

It’s a page, front and back, fancy ass names for weird ass drinks, and Johanna raises an eyebrow. “Didn’t realize you were so…” she pauses. “Cosmopolitan.”

“Well,” Haymitch says solemnly. “Gotta take advantage of everything the Capitol has to offer.”

“Fuck,” Johanna says, eloquently, and drinks.

“C’mon,” Haymitch says, “Some of ‘em ain’t so bad.” He waves at the bartender again, confers, and Johanna’s glass is replaced by something clear and fizzy.

It’s spicy and minty and burns her throat and tastes—clean, somehow. She doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction of being right, but she likes it. And he can tell.

“See now, the professionals know what they’re doing.” Haymitch says. “You just let me’n Brett take care of you.”

Johanna rolls her eyes, but acquiesces.



Later, well after she’s lost track of time, Blight comes up, pulls up the stool on her other side, looks between Johanna and Haymitch and shakes his head. “I’m not sure which one of you’s the bad influence here, but nothing good’s gonna come of this.”

Haymitch shrugs. “I been introducing your girl to the finer things in life,” he says, lifting the menu. “She needed to branch out from that lumberjack whiskey you must’a got her started on.”

Johanna isn’t sure who’s more obnoxious, can’t decide which one to glare at. “I need a cigarette,” she says, and as soon as the words are out they’re way too true. She digs into her pockets but of course they aren’t there, they’ll be shut up in her room because Mentor Central’s too full of people and high-tech bullshit to let her smoke in there. It’s stim pills and coffee for the ones who have to worry about staying awake. Which doesn’t include her, and damn sure doesn’t include Haymitch.

Haymitch shakes his head. Blight sighs, finishes his drink. “I’ll come with you,” he says, and hops down. He holds out a hand to Johanna, and hey, now he’s definitely the most obnoxious, so she gives him a flat look.

Which she mostly ruins by stumbling when she gets down so Blight actually has to keep her from falling. “Dammit,” Blight says, “Haymitch—“

Johanna smacks him. “Not his fault,” she says. Straightens up. See, she’s fine. Walks to the elevator with Blight trailing behind.

“Jo,” he says, once the door’s closed. “You should get some sleep.”

Johanna closes her eyes experimentally. D4M sending a spear into her cousin in Ely. Her girl from this morning, throat slit, surprise on her face. Fire.

“Nope,” she says, smiling at Blight—well, baring her teeth anyway. “Not yet.”

He waits while she paws through her things for cigarettes. “You know that’s a filthy habit,” he says, resigned. It’s not the first time he’s said it.

“Yep,” Johanna says, cheerful, pulling her lighter out of the pocket of a dirty pair of jeans. She brushes past Blight on the way back to the elevator, and see, she’s fine now, just needed to clear her head.

Blight follows her up to the bar. “You don’t wanna go up to the roof with that?” he asks.

Johanna doesn’t dignify that with a response, walks back to the bar. “What’s next,” she asks Haymitch, and lights up.

It takes him a second—he’s been drinking longer than she has, and sure, he can hold his liquor, but he’s still drunk. “That’s gross,” he says, gesturing to the cigarette, “Someone’s gonna get pissed you’re subjecting them to it.”

Johanna shrugs. “They can come tell me then,” she says, and hey look, she has a drink again, and Blight’s disappeared, and this is much better.

Haymitch laughs. “That oughta be fun,” he says, and goes back to watching the Games.

Nothing’s happening really, and Johanna is bored. Until a girl does get up from the couches with the stupid romances and glares at her. D-One, Johanna thinks, considers some more. Cashmere.

“Some of us might want to use our lungs,” Cashmere says, stretched up to her full height.

“Bite me,” Johanna says, “Or wait, that’s Enobaria’s thing. What’s yours again?”

Cashmere just raises an eyebrow. “Apart from fucking people,” Johanna goes on, taking a long draw from her cigarette and blowing it in Cashmere’s way-too-perfect face.

There’s a knife in Cashmere’s hand now, flashing back along her pale wrist. Haymitch is turned around, leaning back against the bar and watching appreciatively.

“At least I know how to do what I’m told,” Cashmere hisses.

“Oh, so I hear,” Johanna leers. She hears Haymitch laugh but doesn’t take her eyes off Cashmere. “I hear you’re real good at that,” she repeats.

Cashmere gives her a long, level look. “Well,” she says, “At least my only kills are Games-kills, and I would prefer to keep it that way—and not to have to pick up the slack from out-of-control outliers who can’t be trusted.”

“Well, we can’t always get what we want, now can we?” Johanna smiles, stubs out the butt of her cigarette and lights another. Shifts the cigarette to her left hand and picks up her glass, keeping her eyes on Cashmere the whole time. She sips Haymitch’s latest suggestion, which is rich and sweet and goes down way too smooth to take seriously.

Cashmere looks away first, sweeps her hair back. “Well,” she says, “I have places to be.” She turns and heads for the elevator.

“Places to be, people to fuck, I know how it goes,” Johanna calls at her retreating back. Cashmere’s stride falters for half a second but she doesn’t stop, doesn’t turn around.

Johanna spins to face Haymitch. “What the fuck kinda bullshit is this?” she says, shoving her glass toward him. “If I wanted dessert I’d get it.”

Haymitch’s chuckles dissolve into full-on whole body laughter, and it’s not until he wheezes to a stop that Johanna lets herself smile. He takes the glass, downs it.

“Brett,” he calls, “I owe this girl an apology, bring her that good Scotch.”

When the glass arrives, Haymitch snatches it before she can. “Ah ah ah,” he warns. “Sip this, it’s not your bullshit from Seven.”

It isn’t. “Why are you giving me this now, instead of at the beginning when I could actually fucking taste it?” Johanna asks. Because it’s good, but she’s also really drunk by now, and this deserves proper appreciation.

“You gotta earn it,” Haymitch says, going back to his latest monstrosity.



The bar starts to empty out eventually. There’s just them and the clutch of Careers at the other end of the bar when Haymitch shoves his stool back. “Leaving already?” Johanna sneers at him.

“Hey, I opened the place,” Haymitch says, “Can’t expect me to close it too.”

“This place closes?” Johanna asks, honestly a little curious. Last year she hadn’t had much time to explore her options.

Haymitch snorts. “Nope,” he says, “Leastwise not while the Games are on.”

“Quitter,” Johanna snorts.

Haymitch guffaws. “Fine,” he says. “Come back to my place, you can even bring those.” He gestures toward her cigarettes. “Nobody else there to mind.”

It’s only one floor down. And he’s got a hell of a view. Johanna wanders over to the windows, lights a cigarette for something to do with her hands. Haymitch comes over with a glass for her. She can smell it from halfway across the room.

“The fuck is this?” she asks, taking it.

“This, m’dear, is D-twelve hootch,” he says, tapping his glass against hers. He’s watching. This is a test.

She takes it, downs the two fingers worth, blinks hard against the tears that come to her eyes. “That,” she says, gasping, “is some godawful shit.”

He laughs, refills her glass. “Come on, sit,” he says, “I ain’t as young as you, I need someplace comfortable.”

She follows him to the couch, down in the recessed center of the room. Swallows sudden awkwardness, tightening in her chest, downs the drink in her hand and sits down next to him, just a little too close for comfort.

He raises an eyebrow. “Hey there,” he says, putting an arm around her shoulders like it’s half on instinct. And she’s drunk, and so is he, and she’s lonely, and he probably is too, and she turns toward him and reaches up to kiss him.

He tastes like booze, and something sweet, and he’s shocked-still for a second before he kisses back.

And then pulls away. “Really?” he asks, sarcastic. “This ain’t what you want, sweetheart.”

Johanna shrugs. Her body wants it now, has decided this sounds way better than the nightmares waiting for her in her own bed, so she turns and straddles his waist. “Says you,” she says, smirks.

“I’m pretty drunk,” he warns her.

Johanna grinds against him, feels him harden. She laughs, kisses him again. “Not that drunk,” she says, doing it again. He closes his eyes and groans.

“This is a fucking terrible idea,” he says.

She bears down again.

“I’m twice your age.”

“I’ve fucked guys twice my age before.”

“Johanna,” he says, his voice strained.

Her breath is coming faster. His eyes are dark pools, his hair curling a little too long, perfect for fisting her hands in and pulling, so she does.

“Shit,” he whispers, and his hands come up to her waist, her breasts, shifting over her shirt and then under it.

She wins, it feels terrifying and triumphant and absurd and she slides her hands around the waistband of his pants, fumbling with buttons while he pulls her shirt over her head. They’re clumsy, he lifts her up, sets her on the floor and kneels over her, pulling his pants the rest of the way off and starting on hers. He’s heavy on top of her and she gasps, rolls him over so she’s on top, in charge, running the show. Her head’s spinning as she lowers herself onto him and he closes his eyes, reaches for her, cups her breasts in his hands and jerks his hips upward. She rides him, feeling every hitch of breath and the uneven rhythm his hips fall into, and it’s over almost before she gets her bearings, he comes, gasping, goes soft inside her.

And then his fingers are moving over her clit while she grinds against his hips, and it’s not the best orgasm she’s had, not even the best one this week, but she’ll take it, milks it a little, throwing her head back, letting herself laugh out loud.

He’s shaking his head when she looks down again, but he’s smiling. She bends down and kisses him, rolls off him to lie on her back on the floor, sweaty and sticky and giggling a little. He raises himself on an elbow, looks at her, raises an eyebrow.

“Something funny, kid?” he grumbles, his voice rough.

That just makes her laugh more, until finally she stops, takes a shaky breath. “Everything,” she says, “Just, everything.”

He huffs a laugh at that, sits up, looks around for the booze and the glasses. Johanna pushes her hair out of her eyes and lights a cigarette.

Takes the glass he hands her, finds her underpants in the discarded clothes. Drinks the foul stuff fast and then kisses Haymitch again, nuzzles against him and nips the stubbly underside of his jaw. He looks at her hungrily, still, rubs his thumb over her collarbone, along the crease of her thigh. They don’t talk until the bottle’s gone and Johanna’s having a hard time keeping her eyes open. So’s Haymitch, by the look of it.

He blinks a couple times. “’S an open room,” he says, “Seven’s kinda far.”

Johanna looks where he’s haphazardly gesturing. “Okay,” she says, because it is far, and there’s people there, and they’re probably asleep because it’s probably late, but they might not be and they might ask questions.

She collects her clothes, gets up. Haymitch does the same, weaving a little. He stays still though, watching her go. When she turns back, he’s opening the door to his room, and nods.



Johanna wakes up disoriented and sick and confused, echoes and fragments of dreams in her head. Right. Twelve. Haymitch. Shit, what was she thinking? Fuck, it felt good though. Not much feels like anything, lately, but… She doesn’t want to think about it. Doesn’t want to talk about it, so she yanks on her clothes, picks up her shoes, and is out the door without hearing a thing from Haymitch. Probably he’s still asleep.

Blight and Ila are in the common room when she comes in, and they both give her confused looks, matching raised eyebrows. She shrugs, goes into her room, finds the hangover pills, and passes out for another few hours.



When she wakes up again, she’s hungry. She also needs a shower, and she really doesn’t want to see Blight or Ila. She solves that problem with toast and eggs from the machine in the room (which always taste weird and wrong, whatever the Capitol says), and coffee, and then a scalding hot shower, and when she checks the time it’s late enough in the afternoon she can go clubbing.

It’s the Capitol, so something is always open, especially at Games time, but at least now it won’t just be the skeevy betting places and the crazy kids clubs.

She takes the bag with her stuff from home, waves to Blight on her way out, and checks into the hotel she stayed at last time she was in town. It’s a little rundown, but not too dirty, and nobody asks questions. It’s as good a place as any to drop her stuff and take a minute to call around to see who might have something fun to do. It takes a while to find someone, so she orders food and booze, picks at it, has her stylist send over some clothes.

A couple hours later she’s flying, dancing to music that pounds in her chest, laughing at the girl who’s finally got up the courage to ask for an autograph and then a kiss and then they’re dancing so close together they might as well be fucking. She takes three pills in a row before the crowds thin out enough that it’s not fun anymore, and then heads over to the bar and gets a drink. She’s on her fourth—or is it her fifth?—when Finnick finds her.

He steals her drink, bastard that he is, and hauls her into a cab back to the hotel.

When they’re alone in her room she goes for the bottle she left open on the table. He grabs her wrist and she freezes, jerks her hand back, glares at him and goes to sit on the bed.

“What the fuck, Jo?” he asks, “Why’re you pulling this shit?”

He doesn’t know. He doesn’t fucking know.

“What do you care?” she asks, and she wants to snap but it just comes out tired, a little slurred.

“You're a fucking mess," he says, and she smiles, because it feels like a compliment. ”I don't want you hurting yourself."

And oh, isn’t that fucking rich. She laughs, and the laughter tears at her chest and turns into sobs and she buries her head in her hands.

Finnick sits down next to her, and she turns towards him, buries her face in his shirt. It’s an embarrassingly long time before she can calm down enough to choke out the words.

"He killed them," she says, dully, muffled through her tears. "When I got back last time, ashes were still warm."

Finnick is silent for a minute. "Oh, shit," he hisses out, finally "Jo, shit, I'm so sorry."

She’s just barely managed to pull herself together, and at that she loses it again.

“I’m a fuckup,” she says, once she can talk. "So he burned my house down, killed my family, and told me I was done."

"But then..." Finnick sounds hurt, and confused. “Why--" he waves an arm, vaguely. Taking in everything, the room, the club, fuck, even last night despite the fact that he wasn’t even there.

"They can't have me anymore," Johanna says, and it’s not what she meant to say but as it slips out she realizes it’s true. "Let them see what they're missing." Finnick sighs. "Besides," she says, exhausted, but smiling a little. "'s fun. I got off like four times."

And hey, maybe she’s actually figured out a way not to be lonely. She snuggles closer to him, drops her hand to his lap. "We could fuck if you want," she says. "I bet I'm better than whoever you were with before."

"No," Finnick says. Short, irritated, impatient. "Jo, I'm fucking exhausted." She should probably be embarrassed, but Johanna’s past the point where that’s possible. And since that’s the case, she might as well try for what she really wants.

"Stay?” she asks, and it comes out desperate, and maybe she is still capable of embarrassment. "I..." she rolls away to face the wall, curls up. "I don't wanna wake up alone."

"Johanna..." Finnick hesitates.

"Please?” she asks, not moving.

He pauses.

"Okay," he says. "But sleep, Johanna."

She’ll try.

He slides down next to her. She glances over, and he’s stretched on his back with his eyes closed, and she needs this too much for pride. She curls up against him, her head on his chest, listening to the steady thump of his heart. His hand comes up around her, warm and strong and comforting, damn it, and she squeezes her eyes closed against threatening tears. She’s cried enough tonight.

She can feel when he falls asleep—it doesn’t take long—the tension draining out of him, his arm around her lax against the bed. She doesn’t sleep, her mind still buzzing, but her body’s exhausted, and comfortable, and she listens to Finnick’s heartbeat, feels the rise and fall of his breath, lets the steady rhythms soothe her until the sun shines in the window, and Finnick stirs. She feigns sleep while he extricates himself, keeping her eyes closed until the click of the door lets her know she’s alone.

She gets up, goes to the window, watches him walk away into the early morning. Takes a long, hot shower, digs out her sleeping pills, and swallows two with whiskey, collapsing onto the too-big bed and welcoming the hard, dreamless sleep.
Tags: here be dragons, johanna
Subscribe
  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 0 comments