Warnings: Rape/Non-Con (Referenced)
Characters: Johanna Mason, Finnick Odair
Additional Tags: Suicidal Thoughts, Implied/Referenced Self-Harm, Alcohol Abuse/Alcoholism, Recreational Drug Use
Series: Part 3 of Please feel free to take this personally
Summary: Nobody wins the Games, but some victories are harder to swallow than others. When the 71st spits out a girl who seems destined to be another piece to get chewed up by the Capitol, Finnick has to find some seed to keep Johanna curious enough to stick around. There's only one he can think of, and it's too dangerous to say out loud.
Finnick literally runs into Johanna at the post-Games party for the 71st. He's heading for the bar, wrangled a blessed couple of minutes away from his date for the evening, and she careens into him, laughing, grabbing onto his arm to keep from falling.
She's wasted, of course, the Games just ended and a slight, wiry girl just got paraded up on stage with Caesar in a dress that advertises exactly what's on offer to people who're important enough to know. The girl played it well, shy without being coquettish, tense without being too skittish, and Finnick wished he could believe that any of that was going to matter. But she's exotic, to the Capitol, and Annie doesn't come, because she can't, and Eibhlin has a pretty specific niche he's really not going to think about, and they're looking for a pretty outlier girl for the gritty District feel some people want out of a Victor. He's a little more drunk himself than he should really let himself be, because he doesn't want to think about any of this.
And Johanna, well, she's the last one who was outlier enough to appeal to those types, and then not for long, too honest to stay safe. So she's wasted, laughing wild and unsteady on her feet, and she fake-swoons against him when she realizes who she's crashed into. "Finnick!" she says, laughing, "I didn't know you were coming here!"
"Yeah," he says, irritated, because she's on the kind of drugs that make her giddy and stupid and he can't handle her like this, it's too fucking weird. So he helps her stand up again, kisses her cheek for the cameras, and she giggles again and stumbles off.
He gets the drinks he came for and goes back to work.
She finds him again, later, on the roof of the Training Center, where he's lying on his back staring up at the sky and trying to get somewhere closer to sleep. She's got a bottle and a glass, sits down with her back against the wall, pours a drink.
Finnick rolls his head over to where he can see her. "I fucking hate this," she says, looking at him. "Phillips is over the fucking moon and she's just going to be another whore for them."
There is no fucking reason for Finnick to flinch at the word but he does. Johanna notices, and her mouth curls up in a parody of a smile, showing teeth. "Sorry," she says.
"No, you're not," Finnick sighs. "You don't give a fuck."
Johanna shrugs, drinks, looks over the edge of the roof. "Too bad there's a forcefield," she says, and Finnick doesn't understand until she goes on. "Too bad if I downed all the pills in my cabinet someone'd see on the monitors and they'd pump my stomach so they didn't have to explain why Seven's only female Victor expired suddenly."
She's smiling at him while she says it, flips a knife open in her hand as she finishes, lets the tip rest against the thin skin on her wrist. "You think they'd find me in time if I--"
"Dammit, Jo," Finnick snaps, scrambles over to take the knife away. "What the fuck are you doing?"
She shrugs, nonchalant, and that scares him more than anything. "It's a shitty life, being a Victor, don't tell me it's not."
Finnick's caught off-balance at that, shuts his mouth on his first instinct, which is to say it's not that bad. It's fucking exactly that bad, there isn't any argument he can give her to say that his life is worth living. He's just too stubborn to let anyone in this fucking city think they've ground him down.
Well. And there's hope somewhere on the horizon because Plutarch says soon, maybe, the way things are going, there'll be a spark to light this powderkeg of a country where quotas go up and hours go up and prices go up and wages stay the same. Where they take everything and what they give is worthless, and there's anger like an undertow but they need a hurricane.
"It's shit," Finnick agrees, finally, and his voice sounds strange in his ears, loud and harsh. "But it's ours."
She rolls her eyes at him, but she gets up and leaves without trying to get the knife back, and he doesn't have the energy to go after her.
After a few hours sleep he actually has the energy to be afraid for her. Never afraid of her, even though a lot of people are, even some other Victors, who really ought to know better. But for her, yes, and she wouldn't believe him if he told her he'd miss her, but it's true.
Dammit. He only has one thing to offer her, and it's not his to give.
He doesn't have much time to think about it, though, he's got Remake and appointments like crazy while the Capitol tries to pack as much celebration as possible into the last days of its Games break. Johanna is all over the gossip channels his clients like to watch, like more than normal she's out of control--but to Finnick it looks calculated, she's at the clubs the photographers always stake out, and he knows she knows how to avoid those. She's caught with her hands up a girl's skirt and down a boy's pants and passed out half-clothed at a house party, and there's pictures everywhere and she usually hates having pictures taken and Finnick doesn't understand.
Not until the last night, when the Victor leaves and the parties are over and he's in his room and she calls him. She's at a hotel, the way she usually is after the Seven tributes go out, and there's something in her voice that makes him drag his ass up and go over there at four o'clock in the fucking morning.
"Finnick," she says, and she's strung out and smells like smoke and there's a glass pipe on the balcony table that explains why. She's closer to sober than he's seen her all Games, un-made-up, looking exhausted and small. He follows her out to the balcony and shakes his head when she offers him a drink.
"I can't do this anymore, Finnick," she says, and she looks at him and he looks back, really looks, and sees strange patches of synth-skin on her wrists, sees how her hands shake as she lights a cigarette and drags on it hard enough to make the ember crackle and spark. "I just--there's no fucking point."
Finnick swallows the kind of panic he didn't think he was capable of anymore. He meets her eyes, takes a deep breath. "Jo," he says, and she looks like they're talking about brands of whiskey, not life and death in not quite so many words. He chokes on every single thing he can think of to say, except one, and he can't say it here. Looks across the city trying to think of a place that's safe enough--because there's no such thing as safe, not anywhere.
"Walk with me," he says, finally giving up.
"Finnick, I'm fucking tired," she says, still in that flat voice, and it's not about the walk, it's about every fucking thing else. "I just wanted to ask you if you think I'm embarrassing enough that they'll let me go."
"Fuck, Johanna," Finnick says, and his heart's pounding hard in his chest, he wonders if she can hear it. Does her the courtesy of thinking about it, even though his brain skitters sideways trying to avoid it. Thinks about the clients laughing and speculating about her, their avid if disgusting interest. "No," he says, drawing out the word. "You're too photogenic," he says, and Johanna raises an eyebrow so he tries to get his brain to work well enough to explain it nicely, then gives up. "Jo, they like the spectacle, you're visible and entertaining, they don't care if you make yourself ridiculous in the process."
She scowls at him, draws another long pull on her cigarette and downs the rest of her drink. "Fine," she says, slumping in her chair. "Maybe at home then. I just don't want to leave a mess for Blight and Ila and them."
Finnick wants to hit her. His hands curl into fists and he has to force himself to relax them. "Come on," he says, finally, and he should probably be nice, but he snaps it out, grabs her by the arm and drags her inside. "Put on some fucking pants and let's go."
She raises an eyebrow at him and if he doesn't manage to get an actual fucking reaction out of her at some point he may actually snap.
She sheds her bathrobe, and she's naked underneath, and there's more synth-skin in patches here and there and she doesn't try to hide anything, just digs through a pile of clothes until she comes up with worn-out jeans and a flannel shirt, pulls them on, steps into a pair of sandals, rakes her hair out of her face with one hand, pulling listlessly at the tangles.
"Okay," she says, and she should be mad, but she won't even give him that. They walk down streets that are way too goddamn busy for how early it is, people spilling out of the nightclubs that fill this fucking part of the city, the sun coming up making everyone squint and wince, and finally they get into a residential street and at one corner there's a little park, with, thank Snow for small mercies, a fountain. He walks over to it, sits on the edge. She sits next to him, kicks her sandals off, kicks the backs of her heels into the rough concrete. "What the hell is it?" she asks, and she actually sounds just a little curious.
Now that they're here Finnick doesn't know what to say, with the sun sneaking over the horizon and empty streets and loud, splashing water at their backs in an anonymous residential street. "We're going to take him down," he spits out, finally. "Snow, all of this."
She looks at him, disbelief written all over her face. "How?" she asks, incredulous, but at least he's gotten that much reaction out of her.
"Swear to me," he says, not that he thinks she's going to say anything. "Nothing, to anyone."
She's watching, curious but detached still. "Of course," she says. "Swear on my life."
Finnick doesn't say that she doesn't seem to care enough about her life to make that worth much. "District 13," he says, "they're waiting for the right moment. There's people in the other districts, waiting, and if we all move at once..."
She's grinning now. "Finnick, this is ridiculous," she says, in her normal, too-loud voice. "What kind of fucking joke--"
He can't stop himself, or that's what he'll tell himself anyway. He slaps her across the face, hard, and she loses her balance, falls into the fountain.
Well, he has her attention now.
She comes up spluttering and laughing, and it's harsh bitter laughter but it ratchets his furious terror down a half-notch further. "Fuck you, Odair," she says, "You son of a bitch, what was that?"
And now there are people watching them and he can't say anything, and fucking great, well done, that's just wonderful.
He judges his options, doesn't like any of them, but finds one that's less bad than the others, so when he reaches out a hand to help her out of the fountain, he doesn't try to brace against her pulling him in with her.
She holds him under long enough to make his lungs burn, just a little, then lets him up, falls back, still laughing.
There's people watching now, cameras pointed their direction, fucking great. But Finnick's a pro, he knows just how to play this--and Johanna's too surprised to do anything when he surges forward and pins her between his arms, kissing her. He bites her earlobe, whispers "It's all true," and lets the shake of her head and the redoubling of laughter play as something romantic instead of--well, he has no fucking clue what it is, honestly.
This time, when he offers her a hand up, she uses it, gets out, tries ineffectually to dry herself off, letting loose a stream of profanity that makes everyone who's close enough giggle.
"Finnick Odair," she finishes with, loud enough he knows she's playing games, "That's the last time I let you talk me into a romantic sunrise walk." He follows her when she storms off, but at the corner she spins, pushes him away with both hands. "Go the fuck home, okay," she says, the exasperation not all fake, "I'm fine, jeez, don't you have a train to catch?"
Finnick shrugs, playing along. "I'll see you around?" he asks, and he lets his face go serious at the end, watching her.
She shrugs. "At the Tour, I'd guess, if we don't run into each other before that."
And she maintains eye contact long enough to convince him he's won something, that she means the promise even if it turns out she can't keep it.
"See you, Jo," he says, still playing it off for the crowds and the cameras, and if this is the last time he sees her he is going to tear Snow's throat out with his teeth and Enobaria can just try suing for the trademark violation.
"Yeah," Johanna says, and she gives a shaky laugh he hopes nobody understands. "See you, asshole."
She turns and walks away fast, her arms coming up to cross over her chest, and Finnick watches her go and can't bear to act nonchalant, even if it means he has to answer a hundred interview questions about their relationship. Finally she turns a corner and he sighs, scrubs his hands down his wet face, and walks back toward the Games Complex.