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One-shot: The Games We Play

Games We Play1
The Games We Play
Summary: AU. Snow proposes an alternative after Haymitch's victory. One that will save his family and damn himself to the most vile of professions: A Gamemaker.

A/N: I had this idea and it didn't seem to have been done before.  I'm hoping to have a series of one-shots in this universe, but for now here is an introduction of sorts.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Hunger Games.  Image credit for the chess image (King's Move) goes to Daniel Go.  The lines that begin this one-shot are a paraphrase of C.P. Snow.  According to wikiquote it's a humorous expression of the Laws of Thermodynamics.  Take out the contractions and it becomes a sinister and accurate description of The Hunger Games.
The Games We Play - The Laws of Thermodynamics

You must play the game.  You cannot win.  You cannot break even.  You cannot quit the game.

The last thing he remembered was being on that cliff.  Seeing the axe flying towards him, just barely missing its target.  A part of him had taken a small amount of pride in the fact that it would have been a direct hit if the girl had remembered to correct for the eye he’d managed to gouge out moments earlier.  The rest of him was too busy thinking of his next move.

He stumbled forward.  Watched as a smirk pulled onto the Career’s lips, her thoughts clear in that cruel smile.

She thought she’d won.  That he was bowing to her victory.

But then the axe can flying back over his head.  Right back where it came from.  The girl took a direct hit.

And then it was over.

For now.

He awoke in an empty hospital room reeking of blood and roses.  And there was President Snow at his bedside, scrolling through the electronic medical file normally attached to the end of his bed.

“Oh good,” the president said upon seeing him conscious.  “They said you’d be waking soon.  Though I admit I had my doubts.”

He spoke plainly and casually, as though it were perfectly normal for him to sit vigil by a tributes bedside.
Victor, Haymitch reminded himself, his expression turning bitter for a moment.

President Snow continued, pointing out some detail on the medical file that Haymitch couldn’t begin to understand.  “Incredible isn’t it.  They had to remove your spleen,” he said, pointing at a diagram of the human body on the screen.  “And a section of your small intestines.  And yet here you are, alive and well.

“All thanks to the Capital,” he finished, his casual tone drooping to something sinister and threatening.  His expression matched the dark tone of his voice – eyes like slits, snake-like lips curled back in a sneer revealing polished teeth.

We saved your life, it seemed to say without words.  You owe us.

Haymitch mentally scoffed at the implication.  He could have died in that arena.  Along side the District 1 tribute that they had undoubtedly sent to kill him.

And then where would they be? Victorless and thoroughly unsatisfied by their blood sport.

Haymitch owed them nothing.  He was alive because they needed him alive and for no other reason.

“That was rather clever what you did with the force field, Haymitch,” President Snow went on.  He returned to the more friendly tone he had begun with, his sneer shifting to some kind of facsimile smile.  “You know I almost had it in my head to have you killed for that little stunt.  Or your family.

“But that wouldn’t be fair, would it?” he asked.  The words would have almost been mistaken for pleasant if not for the sharp, clipped way that he finished the sentence.  It wasn’t a question so much as a threat.  Snow was being fair, for now, but he could easily change his mind if things didn’t go the way he wanted.

“I have a proposal for you, Mr Abernathy,” he said formally, not giving Haymitch the chance to comment on the apparent generosity.  “Due to some unfortunate circumstances I’ve suddenly found myself with a rather high demand for Gamemakers.  If you remained here in the Capital you would receive all the necessary schooling and training, with the guarantee of an entry level position in Control at the end of your training.”

“And my family?” Haymitch pressed, knowing better than the to leave such matters to question.

“Will be the family of a Victor,” President Snow answered breezily.  “They will be moved to the Victors housing and be provided with the standard Victors allowance.”

The president’s expression darkened as he stated the alternative with far less subtlety than you had earlier.  “If you choose to return to District 12 instead then I will not be so kind, Mr Abernathy,” he said darkly.  “You are a Victor and the Games must have a Victor.  But that protection does not extend to your family or loved ones.  Or to your Mentor and the District 12 Team.

“You should consider them all guilty by association.”

So that was his choice.  Stay in the Capital and work for the Games.  Spend the rest of his life as a Gamemaker finding new and, more importantly, entertaining ways to kill District children.

Or he could go back to District 12 and watch as Snow murdered everyone he cared for and everyone who been associated with his victory.

There would be blood on his hands either way.  The question was simply one of whose blood he could stomach – the blood of hundreds innocent children or the blood of those he held dear.
But Snow seemed to already know what choice he would make.  The president stood up and placed the medical file on the edge of the bed.

“We’ll make the announcement during your interview with Caesar Flickerman,” the man said, his voice unequivocal.  “The audience will like that.”

And then he left without another word, replaced by a team of nurses and doctors that immediately began to fuss around Haymitch.  Within moments he felt his body become heavy and the darkness overcome his vision.

It was the last time he ever slept without nightmares.

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