Fandom: Hunger Games Trilogy - Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games Series - All Media Types
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Annie Cresta/Finnick Odair, (pre-relationship)
Characters: Finnick Odair, Annie Cresta, Mags (Hunger Games)
Additional Tags: Implied/Referenced Rape/Non-con, canon-typical horribleness
Series: Part 1 of Ain't nothing but a family thing
There's a new Victor in District 4. Finnick isn't sure what to think about that.
When Annie Cresta wins the 70th Hunger Games, Finnick is at the big watch party in the square, Philomena pressed against his side. She’s sighing at the lack of drama, cooing over the skinny girl with dark, terrified eyes, frozen on the hovercraft ladder. Finnick isn’t in the habit of feeling much about new Victors, but Mags will be happy. Philomena stretches on her tiptoes, pulls his face down and kisses him, alcohol on her breath, and as he reaches to trail fingers down her back he barely wonders about the newest Victor from District Four.
Everyone saw the panic attack Annie had when the Pack broke. What only Mags, and Finnick, and Odysseus saw was that she was still with it enough to take a canteen and a couple harpoons when she fled. That she may have collapsed with her hands over her eyes but she found a hidden cave to do it in, right by the water’s edge.
Mags had faith, all the way through, and Finnick doesn’t know how they pick the Volunteers, what they saw in Annie Cresta that made them think she could pull it out, but they were right. Mags usually is. It’s almost annoying.
When the party’s over, and the afterparty, and Philomena is well and truly satisfied, Finnick makes his way back to the Games Complex and the Four quarters. “Mags?” he calls as he steps out of the elevator. “You here?”
No answer, but Odysseus is sitting in the main room going over sponsor paperwork. “She’s at the hospital,” he says, in a low rumble, looking up at Finnick.
Doesn’t quite meet Finnick’s eyes. Mags is the only one who refuses to act embarrassed, or like she doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, or like she’s uncomfortable around him. Odysseus is okay, but well. Finnick is sure he looks like hell, smells like sex and bad perfume and who the fuck knows, and he can’t look himself in the eye when he’s like this so why should anyone else.
“Okay,” Finnick says. “I’m gonna shower, sleep a bit. Lemme know if y’all need anything.”
Odysseus nods. “Get some sleep, Finnick,” he says, not looking up from his paperwork. “We got it covered.”
Of course they do. He’s not needed here except occasionally to seal a sponsor deal, and it’s fine and it doesn’t matter, except that he wishes he was good for something other than his body and what it can do.
Annie’s conscious after a couple days. No major injuries, just exhaustion and dehydration and malnutrition like any other Victor. But Mags says she’s skittish, panicky, barely speaking, and when Finnick offers to sit with her so Mags can get some rest he gets shot down. “She doesn’t know you,” Mags says, sitting on the couch in the waiting room, face pale and tired. Old.
“Everybody knows me,” Finnick tries a grin but Mags just looks at him, her mouth a flat line and her eyes sparking.
“She’d know you if you came to Games School,” Mags says, quirking one corner of her mouth up.
Finnick rolls his eyes theatrically. “I’d only set a bad example,” he says. “I recall you saying I was a cocky little shit.”
Mags is smiling now, looks a little more lively, so at least that’s one thing he can do. “You were a cocky little shit,” she says, serene. “Still are.”
Finnick sits up straight so he can look down at her. “Not so little,” he says.
Mags shakes her head, chuckling. “No, not so much.”
They lapse back into silence. Finnick wants to stay with her, but before long his phone buzzes. “Aw, shit,” he says, climbs to his feet.
Mags gets up, reaches to hug him. “Thank you, my boy,” she says, smiling a little, and pats his cheek.
“See you in the morning, Mags,” Finnick says.
She shakes her head. “Don’t you be fussing over me, Finnick Odair,” she says.
He laughs. “No, ma’am,” he says, “I sure won’t.” She’s still shaking her head as he turns to go, but she’s smiling.
Annie’s interview is a mess. Finnick can see her trying to pull herself together, swallowing hard and breathing and managing to answer the bare minimum for everything Caesar asks, but when they show the recap she pulls her knees to her chest, hides her eyes. Finnick goes out for more interviews than Annie does, the next couple days, smiles and explains she’s going to have to go back to Four and recover. It twists in his gut, the wild-eyed fear as she tries to smile, relief she gets to go home where it’s safe, jealousy when one of his clients shakes his head. “Lost cause, that one,” as he runs a hand down the curve of Finnick’s thigh, glancing at the TV on the far wall. Sick shame for the jealousy, because she doesn’t deserve this.
It means he’s not overly eager to actually meet her when he does get back to District Four, a couple weeks after she and Mags left. He walks into his quiet house, wind blowing through the windows someone’s come over to open. His space.
He drops his bag in the living room, walks out to the back porch and flings himself onto the hammock. It’s sticky-hot, but there’s a bit of a breeze off the water, salt tang and the roar of breakers on the rocks, and he’s home.
He doesn’t realize he’s fallen asleep until he hears footsteps on the creaky wood boards, and then he sits up so fast he almost dumps himself out of the hammock.
Mags chuckles, low and amused. “Mornin’, sunshine,” she says, and Finnick glares at her. Scrubs his hands through his hair and down his face. “Welcome home, boy,” she says, leans against the wall.
She’s smiling, but she looks tired. “How’re you doing?” Finnick asks, keeping his voice light.
Mags shakes her head. “Been better,” she says—and that’s almost frightening, Mags has always been his anchor, solid, reliable, strong. “Annie’s having a rough go of it.”
Finnick bites his lip. “That so?”
Mags nods, and Finnick remembers his manners. “Come in, sit down, I don’t think there’s a thing in the fridge but I can get you some water?”
“Water’s fine,” Mags says, goes in and sits on her chair, low and cozy. Stretches her legs out and takes the glass of water he hands her.
“You know I’ll help,” Finnick says. “Now I’m back.”
Mags’ smile goes crooked. “I know, love, and thanks. I got Tyde back there keeping an eye on her for now, but I imagine you’ll get your turn.”
“What’s—is she—“ Finnick breaks off.
“She’ll be alright,” Mags says, comforting. “She just—slips. Like she don’t know where she is for a minute. Scares her.”
Finnick nods. He understands, more or less, that Victors have those kinds of issues. Knows why it’s never a good idea to startle a Victor out of sleep, knows you don’t sneak up on them, knows not to touch people without warning. But it’s never been something that bothered him.
“You just let me know,” Finnick says. “I’ll help out however.”
Mags gives him a look. Finnick’s good at reading people, but he’s never been able to figure out Mags. She always says it’s because she was learning her tricks before his daddy was born. “You just relax,” she says. “You been helping plenty.”
It’s sour-tasting, thinking about what he’s been doing in the Capitol as helping. As damage control, even though he knows perfectly well that’s what it is. Theo’s been all over the TV too, reminding everyone of District Four’s carefree image while Finnick reminds them of—other things, he doesn’t worry about what anymore, just does what he knows he’s supposed to.
“Fine,” he says, a little snappier than he meant, and Mags softens.
“Bake her something,” Mags says. “She likes sweets.”
“Okay,” Finnick says, smiling despite himself. “I’ll bring something over later.”
Mags leaves after a bit, and Finnick goes into the kitchen to see what’s there. Flour and sugar in airtight containers, spices, but nothing fancy like chocolate chips or dried fruit. He thinks about going to the store, but no, he doesn’t really want to deal with people. They just ask questions. Anyway, it’s a challenge.
He pulls out the cookbook Mags gave him for his 15th birthday, well-worn and stained, and flips through. Nothing with eggs or milk, nothing with fancy bits…but it’s a beginners cookbook, and from the District, not the Capitol, so that still leaves a fair bit. Gingersnaps, he decides. Easy, tasty, not typical Four so it’ll be interesting anyway.
He hums a little as he works, measuring and mixing and sliding the trays into the oven. It’s oppressively hot, he recognizes that by the way his hair’s sticking to his forehead, but it feels good. Feels like home.
He showers before going over to Annie’s, though, cold water rinsing away the sweat. Pulls on a T shirt and shorts, loose and cool and ugly as fuck, and maybe he should pretend to care for Annie, but nah. This is home.
He knocks on Annie’s door, soft so if they’re sleeping hopefully it won’t wake them, but Mags opens it pretty quick. She looks at him and laughs. “Finnick Odair, you are something else,” she says. “Come on, come in.”
Finnick steps in and they walk through to the back porch. Annie’s faces the opposite from his, over the bay and the town instead of the open sea. Less windy, more seagull-noises and harbor-noises, and Annie’s sitting curled up in a battered old chair Finnick recognizes from Mags’ place, watching the docks.
“Annie,” Mags says, soft. “Finnick’s here, he brought you something.”
Annie turns her head to look at him, silent at first. “Hi,” she says, soft, shy. A little embarrassed, maybe.
“Hi, Annie,” Finnick says. “I brought gingersnaps,” he adds, holding up the tea towel he’s wrapped them in. Annie looks confused, curious.
“Finnick supplies all of us with baked goods,” Mags says, “If you tell him what you like, I’m sure he’ll figure out how to make it.”
Annie smiles a little, but stays put. “Thank you, Finnick,” she says, a little awkward, but she seems sincere. Finnick glances at Mags, who takes the cookies and signals just slightly towards the door.
“You’re welcome,” Finnick says, smiling. “You just tell Mags to let me know what you want and I’ll make it,” he adds.
Mags shakes her head, but Annie’s smile grows a little bigger. “Okay,” she says, looking at Mags.
“See you later,” Finnick says, and counts it as a successful visit.
Finnick always goes over to Mags’ after his morning workouts, but Mags is always with Annie now, so the next morning he shoves away the irritation of changing routines and walks over to Annie’s house.
Mags is sitting on the front porch swing, knitting something. The idea of wanting a wool scarf is faintly gross in the heat, Finnick feels itchy just thinking about it. Mags looks up when he gets close, waves hello. “Annie’s out back,” she says. “I was waiting for you to help hang her hammock.”
Good, something that’s actually useful—and yeah, okay, Mags could’ve asked anyone else, but he’ll brush that off. Mags opens the door, walks through to the back. Annie’s sitting on the porch rail, and it might not be a steep drop onto rocks like his back porch but it’s still a long enough way down to the sand that it’d hurt if she fell. He glances at Mags, but she doesn’t seem worried, so Finnick tells himself to get over it. “Hi, Annie,” he says, and she looks over and smiles a little. She looks better today, less wary, her hair braided and over her shoulder so she can lean back against the wall, her legs stretched out. She slips down to stand before she says anything.
“Hi,” she replies. Hesitates a second before she asks, quick, “What were those cookies you brought? I never had any like that.”
Finnick grins. “Gingersnaps,” he says. “They’re real easy.”
“They’re good,” she says, and her eyes dart around and she pulls in, shy, but she doesn’t seem panicky today, so—as usual—Mags is right. She’ll be okay.
“Mags says there’s a hammock to be hung?” Finnick asks, to stave off impending awkwardness.
Annie nods. “It’s inside—“ she steps forward, hesitates. Finnick realizes he’s blocking the door, moves out of the way. Annie ducks her head. “Sorry,” she says, darts into the house.
Finnick doesn’t have time to kick himself too hard before Annie’s back, and she’s still just shy so consider that a bullet dodged. “Here,” Annie says, handing him one end. “Mags is too short, I wanted someone to hold it so I can see where I want the hooks.”
She glances at Mags with a small smile, and Mags shakes her head. “Kids these days,” she says, but she’s smiling.
They figure it out, get the hooks in, and Finnick stays for lunch. Fish, covered in spices and grilled, and lemony rice, and he’d forgotten that Mags was a good cook, since she started making him cook for himself. “Enjoy this while it lasts,” he says, “Eventually Mags makes everyone fend for themselves, even me.” Annie looks down, pulls in like she’s taking it seriously. “Hey, not right away though,” Finnick hurries to add, “She didn’t make me figure it out for more’n a year after I won.”
“And he was much more of a trial than you are, sweetheart,” Mags says, reaching over to take Annie’s hand. “I doubt you’ll have me down at the Justice Building explaining that no, District Four’s newest Victor had no intention of breaking the law when he sailed past the boundary fence, he just really is that poor a navigator.”
Annie slants a glance toward Finnick. “Mags,” he says, trying for exasperated but not really getting there. “I was seventeen, and it was my first time in my new boat by myself, and I wasn’t paying attention. I would’ve got home just fine if the patrol boat hadn’t found me first.”
Annie’s giggling now, her shoulders shaking a little as she bites her lips to try to hide it.
Mags waves a hand at Finnick. “That’s what you say,” she says. “You’d’a been halfway to Eleven before you woke up, and then what’d you’ve done?”
Finnick sighs, exaggerated. “You see why I had to learn to live on my own?” he says, and this time he gets a smile. “She’s cruel, I’m telling you.”
When lunch is done, Finnick helps Mags clear the plates, takes her signal that that’s enough of him for one day, heads out to see if Tyde is ready to head out to fish.
Finnick gets a good six weeks at home before he has to go back to the Capitol. The night before he leaves he doesn’t bother trying to sleep. Knows he’ll just end up twisted up in the sheets uncomfortable and antsy, so he heads down to the beach. Swims out past the breakers and floats on his back, staring up at the sky. Keeps just enough of an eye on the beach to kick himself back towards the Village when he drifts too far away, stay somewhere close enough to the beach.
Imagines just…not doing that. Drifting out into the sea, past the shallows where the shrimpers work, out into the deep, out past the Capitol patrols, into the wild open ocean.
He’d drown before he got there, of course. Annie stayed afloat what, 12 hours? It’d take at least that, swimming hard, to get anywhere, and there’d be no fucking point really. He might be able to get far enough out that they wouldn’t find the body, he’d just be a tragic ghost story, a mystery disappearance, tragic misspent youth, gone too soon. He can see just how they’d spin it. Might not even get someone killed, that way.
Except that nobody saw him head out to swim, so they’d think he escaped somewhere, they’d send Peacekeepers out to terrify everybody, it’d be ugly, messy, and Mags would be disappointed in him. Would shake her head that way she does, click her tongue, say she thought he was smarter than that.
He kicks himself upright, swims a few lengths toward the beach—and someone’s there. His heart rate kicks up, and he starts swimming hard for shore. When he’s near the breakers he can tell it’s Mags. Not by anything specific, just—everything about her. The way she stands perfectly still, for one. He speeds up to catch a wave coming in, rides it all the way to the beach, letting it tumble him into the surf.
He hits the beach a couple yards away from her, stands up. “You’re up late,” he says, shaking wet hair out of his eyes. His arms are heavy, he isn’t sure how long he’s been out, but long enough his muscles are tired even if his brain’s still racing in useless circles.
Mags looks toward the lightening eastern horizon. “No,” she says, “I’m up early.”
Finnick cocks his head. “Touché,” he says. Hours now, not that many of them, before the train.
“You were pretty far out there,” Mags says, locking her eyes on him, and she’s tiny, and she’s old, and he could kill her with his bare hands, but her eyes bore into his, fix him in place, seem to shrink him down till he’s smaller than she is. “You should be careful.”
Finnick shrugs. Looks off past her towards the Village. “I’m a good swimmer.”
“I know you are,” she says. “But you can’t trust the sea, boy.”
Finnick just shrugs again, and he would respond, would pull out a snappy comeback or an argument, but he doesn’t have one to hand just now.
“You keep your eyes open in the Capitol,” Mags says. “Can’t trust them either.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Finnick says, struck back to 14 and confused, and he straightens his shoulders and pulls himself up to his full height. Enough. It’s almost morning.
“Don’t worry about me, Mags,” he says, in a more normal voice. “Nothing I’m not used to.” Her mouth thins out but she doesn’t say anything. Doesn’t matter, really, whatever spell was keeping him quiet and thoughtful and in-between-places calm is broken. “I should go shower,” he says, and heads past her without saying anything more.