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Burning harvest

Chapter Text

All people from district 6 fall silent when they see the second boy, awarded cutie of 6 last summer, ascends the stage with heavy steps and tears polluting the corners of his eyes.

If this weren’t a quarter quell, this situation would’ve never occurred and that might be the reason why some guys seem to consider volunteering, but Wonhyuk is convinced the people’s fondness towards Wonjun is being the biggest trigger here. That jock in the front didn’t have to hold down his twitching hand when Wonhyuck’s name was called out.

To say Wonjun is overshadowing his presence already might be a bit exaggerated, even though he will later find out that, yes, Wonjun is already overshadowing him, so he just smiles and plays along until they’re seated safely in the train to the capitol.



Was Wonhyuk ever scared to get picked for the hunger games? Not really, district 6 isn’t that heavily populated, but his chances were still lower than 1% even when Mnet announced that both tributes would be picked from the same bowl. Of course deep inside he hoped it would be the girls’, all boys did. He wasn’t very concerned though when instead Mnet fished the slip of paper with the male gender out of its own personal bowl.

It’s only when Yunseong and Donghyun, their individual trainers, take a seat in front of them, that it dawns on Wonhyuk that he should’ve been more scared and maybe, maybe should’ve at least once thought about what to do if his name ever got drawn. He should’ve been taking the hunger games seriously.

“Wonjun, we can’t start planning our strategy if you keep crying.” Yunseong sternly obliges the other to quit sniffling already.

“Okay, so because my forte is fiercer and sneakier plans, I’ll be training Wonhyuk obviously.” He bluntely states, worsening the boy’s cries. “Keumdong is more of an emotional person so… yeah.” he watches his co-trainer and then the still sobbing boy.

“Let’s first all settle a little and calm down from the reaping, then we’ll discuss our strategy.” Yunseong wants to argue but Donghyun’s confident gaze and an awful sob rapidly silence him.

This is going to be a very unproductive train ride Wonhyuk and Yunseong unknowingly agree.



Wonhyuk isn’t allowed to greet the capitol, all attention has to go to Wonjun at this moment. Donghyun claims it’s because people are already weak for the flufball. Yunseong reassures him that it’s part of his ‘dark horse’ plan. Wonhyuk believes it’s unfair and gives him a disadvantage.

When no other tribute recognizes him as he jumps onto his carriage in full on red glowing attire, he can only feel overlooked. Wonjun is the white glowing ‘headlight’ while Wonhyuk stays unnoticed in the back, his red outfit again overshadowed by the other’s brightness.

It also doesn’t surprise him when he finds out he’s dead last in the popularity polls, how could anyone notice him anyway when he’s carefully been hidden away in the back. “Tomorrow, the weapon and survival training starts, that’s your time to shine.” Yunseong tries to lighten up the mood. Wonhyuk doesn’t tell him he almost died during a camping trip because he forgot to extinguish the fire.



The weapon training only proves to discourage all non-career tributes. When Suhwan throws his fifth knife in a row perfectly in the puppets heart, a unified sigh of defeat resonates through the weapon basement.

Survival skills is not any safer for Yuvin keeps finding ways to kill people with plants. Then a little further away in the survival section, there’s Wonhyuk who just tries not to set himself on fire as he keeps rubbing two sticks together.

“That’s not how you do it.” District 1, Yohan, warns him. Wonhyuk gives the guy an apologetic look before walking away. Yunseong made it clear that being a ‘dark horse’ means you can’t mingle with the popular tributes, so no conversations with tributes from 1, 2 or 4.



Every other training day goes down the same and Wonhyuk bleeds into the background more and more as days go by. He almost gets fire out of rubbing sticks together and learnt that Suhwan can throw exactly seven knifes accurately before he takes a breath and throws another seven spot on between the eyes. In the meantime Yuvin has shown that not only plants, but also water, air and whatever else he has in hand reach can be used to kill. Hangyul keeps creating electricity out of nowhere and Seungwoo is apparently Moses, cause water is not supposed to make way for you as you’re swimming.

He’s also learned pretty quickly that despite being from 1, Yohan is very not prepared for the games. That doesn’t stop him from repeatedly offering his help to any tribute in his vicinity though. “Maybe you should try something else? I’m sure there are other survival skills you’re good at.” Wonhyuk stares him straight in the eyes as he slightly changes the angle of the sticks and lets them catch fire instantly. He puts his shoe onto the flames while encaging Yohan’s gaze. “I know how to survive.”

He doesn’t offer his help again.


People keep asking how he got 10/12. Every time they do he shrugs and tells them with a smile that he just tried his best. “I can’t tell you all my secrets now, can I?” he actually lightens up as he’s discussing the scores with some other mid-tire tributes.

Wonjin, 9/12, pries out of curiosity while some eave dropping careers rather know what to expect from ‘dark horse’ Wonhyuk.

“I thought you couldn’t even make fire!” Hyungjun casually buts in. At that he laughs but doesn’t forget to make eye contact with Yohan before answering: “I’m not that pathetic.”



Eunsang is the first to know how he actually managed to secure that 10. They were talking about their hometowns, what they did to support their families, how Wonhyuk could make anything a fuel because they didn’t have money to buy some for their old motorcycle. Before he fully realized that Eunsang is smarter than he looks, the redhead had figured out how he fired up the evaluation.

“Burn some big guys down, yeah. That’d benefit us both.”

Wonhyuk doesn’t know if that was a declaration of partnership or not, but they do flock together more often after that conversation, raising suspicion amongst the other tributes.

“Since when are you and Eunsang so close?” Wonjin questions, again, out of curiosity, while Hyunjun blabbers on about his new ‘friendship’ with Mingyu. Eunsang’s district partner, Sihun, joins them too after he looks contemplatively at the duo for half of the training session.

To say their little click is expanding rapidly is an understatement. Soon Wonjun’s told to spend his free time with the group and the same goes probably for Jungmo although he did have some connection with Wonjin and Hyungjun already.

Now, they’re sitting at the empty cafeteria with the eight of them, in complete silence after Mingyu dropped the bomb of: “We’re teaming up during the games, right?” No one dares to look at each other, scared the others won’t look back.

Wonhyuk ticks his foot against Eunsang’s underneath the table and when the boy ticks back a second later he knows he can count on both tributes of 5 to make it through the games.



Interview strategies aren’t Yunseong’s favorite part of mentoring. He sighs every time they find a hole in their plan, he rolls his eyes any time Donghyun points out how hollow and boring he makes Wonhyuk sound. Wonhyuk himself turns to his designer more often than not to ask her opinion. Yoomi most often just tells him to be himself and proceeds to design his suit for the interview.

Walking mindlessly through the corridors isn’t a single time occurrence anymore too, especially when he passes the survival section for the twentieth time that day, he start to get the feeling that he’s going nowhere. Inside the room Yohan is eyeing him carefully when he passes, Suhwan and Yuvin are demolishing some puppets and Sihun is whooping a trainers ass in a one on one fight.

On his twenty-third run-by, Sihun waves him inside. “I heard we’re teaming up.” he throws inside the room, for everyone to hear and smirks at Wonhyuk when he loudly confirms.

The hesitation in Suhwan’s next throw reaffirms him that he is becoming a genuine threat.



Genuine threat or not, if he doesn’t make a lasting impression on the capitol now, he’s dead for sure.

Yohan entrails the public with his magical smile and impressive taekwondo kicks, Dohyun starts beatboxing and Seungwoo calls his so called ‘son’, Dongpyo, on stage. A whole family fest later it’s Sihun’s turn and Wonhyuk only has Eunsang’s faded red locks left in front of him.

“If he pretends he got that 10 by doing a handstand again, I’m going to expose him.”

“Do it.” Wonhyuk fires his teammate on.

Ten minutes later Eunsang tells the public Sihun still needed his support to stand two days ago, making the older go red in the face backstage. Wonhyuk makes use of the close-up of Sihun’s blush to wrap an arm around him and laugh at his friend.

Next Wonhyuk reveals that Eunsang can’t even do a handstand himself and proceeds to show the audience how to really walk on their hands. He sings one of Solji’s songs who’s coincidentally present and willing to join him on the stage, before entering the backstage again, being satisfied with his interview.

The suspicious gazes intensify and Wonhyuk happily replies to them with a confident smirk.



“‘Dark horse, Wonhyuk, rises from last place to top 5 in the popularity polls’!” he hears Yuri sneer a few tables away. The same kind of exclamations are coming from other tributes just softer and less aggressive. Wonhyuk is the talk after last night’s interview. He quiet likes the attention.

Yunseong pats him on the shoulder, a vague proud smile breaking through his cold demeanour.

“You’re going to make it, kid.”



Yoomi sends him off into the games with one last question: “What did Yunseong tell you to do when the gong sounds?”


Yunseong told him nothing.

It’s then that Wonhyuk realizes that his trainer and designer fully trust him to survive this on his own.

He sends a thankful glance in her direction before he’s rising into the arena without anything but his primal instincts and his knowledge about setting things on fire.

Chapter Text

A red hue falls over his vision as blood splashes into his eyes. He doesn’t want to know whose it is, less who actually wounded them. The only thing he wants is that one big backpack with the metal stick poking out of.

He sprints, speed is one of the few advantage he has so he gladly uses it. If he would look around he would see that Suhwan, Dongpyo and Jungmo are the only tributes faster than him, but he doesn’t, fully trusting his own ability.

He grasps the backpack, quickly thinking about what to do next because he’s now in the middle of the danger zone. Slower careers are running at him from their platforms, Suhwan is gathering knifes inside the cornucopia and blood starts colour the grass dark.

Wonhyuk flees towards Hyungjun, who’s standing frozen still on his platform, sided by two empty ones. The boy shivers, maybe he starts trembling even harder when Wonhyuk grabs his arm and hauls him away from the bloodbath, but that’s something he likes to ignore. From now on finding a hiding place is his priority, followed up by looking for his team.

Suddenly Wonjin seems a possible ally too, mostly because he has Hyungjun as leverage.

“Where- are we going-?” Wonhyuk doesn’t know either. He does know though that they won’t stop running any time soon.


“Do you have any sign to call Wonjin with?” They stopped at a cottage with sheep. Two sheep, but still sheep. Hyunjun curls his fingers in one’s fur and shakes his head, clearly they didn’t set up any strategy for during the games. “He promised to find me though.”

Wonhyuk reassures the other that Wonjin will indeed find him, before he can start shedding any tears. Wonhyuk has seen enough tears from Wonjun already.

“Then we’ll just have to wait, right.” he mutters while he searches the cottage for something to make his own sign with.


“Eunsang has already killed someone.” Sihun proudly exclaims when they arrive at the small building, Eunsang looking less than affected by the death.

They shatter happily when at the same time Hyungjun becomes paler and paler by the minute. “Yuvin looked so impressed when he saw our boy slicing that fool’s neck over with one swift move.” Wonhyuk unloads his backpack as Sihun retells the story in full bloom.

The content lays spread out on the floor once the tale is told and when Wonhyuk looks over, he sees that Eunsang did the same with his backpack. Hyungjun stays back, trusting his allies or rather not daring to intervene, while the three of them inspect every single object. They put the useful stuff like the map of the arena, that Eunsang snatched from his victim’s pocket, and some food packages inside Wonhyuk’s big bag.

Burying the remaining gadget underneath the hay, they decide this could be their storage … building. They mark it on the map before they go outside to watch the fallen tributes.

Wonhyuk is relieved when after the district 4 trainee, the next death seems to be someone from 8, meaning both Wonjun and Wonjin survived the day.

“That’s the one he killed!” Sihun points at Wei Ziyue from district 11 who’s lighting up the night sky with his picture. They high five Eunsang, who embarrassedly hides his smile in the crook of his arm. Their reverie is only broken when Hyungjun starts sobbing uncontrollably. Wonhyuk doesn’t have to look up to know Mingyu is one of the victims projected on the dome.


Sihun carries the backpack as they set out towards a bigger farmhouse in the morning. “Lesson one in surviving, always have food on you.” he singsongs while they journey through an apple orchard. Wonhyuk guesses no tribute is going to die from hunger this year, seeing that the whole arena is one big farming village.

“Lesson two, get yourself a car.” “No, get yourself a tractor, big tires are more practical on uneven ground.” Wonhyuk corrects him, fuelling Sihun’s happy rant about what they should and should not do to stay alive.

Hyungjun attentively listens to every word Sihun spouts, Eunsang makes little notes on the map while Wonhyuk guides him past little bumps so he doesn’t have to look up from the paper. “But most importantly,” Sihun finishes up, “Always keep your Eunsang around.”

It doesn’t surprise anyone when the boy in question powerfully slaps him on the head with the map.


Around noon they find the farmhouse Eunsang has been leading them towards. It’s quiet, it’s neat, it looks like the previous owner actually cared about it, something that can’t be said about a lot of other buildings they passed. Different owner Wonhyuk presumes.

The garage is wide open, welcoming any stranger or wild animal that’s in need of shelter. A family of ducks seems to have made use of the hospitality and inhabits the place now.

Hyunjun, the excited little puppy he is, can’t wait to interact with them and because Wonhyuk needs to inspect the garage anyway, he humours the shorter boy by joining him.

One car and one jeep is parked inside, accompanied by a motorcycle that’s been shoved inside the jeep’s trunk. “I guess you’re going to have your fun with the cars.” Eunsang amusedly watches the two as they gravitate to either the ducks or the vehicles. “Sihun and I will be checking the house.”

Wonhyuk weakly waves, too engrossed in the pressure of the tires to really care.


Wonhyuk works in silence for hours, only one time Sihun had to warn him because he’d been ‘calling all careers on them with that noise’. It’s pretty difficult to weld a piece of metal into an exhaust pipe without making any noise, especially when the hole is so far back that he almost has to put his whole forearm inside. Whoever thought it would be nice to penetrate the pipe to get that ‘cool’ sound effect when they drive, surely did cause Wonhyuk a lot of work.

Furthermore he gathered all the fuel in containers and is now heading inside to brew some extra fuel of his own.

“Can anyone of you drive?” he buts in, ignoring how every single one of them is still under the legal driving age. Sihun confidently puts his hand up and catches the car keys Wonhyuk throws at him. “You get the Volvo.”

“Wait, that means…Hey! You can’t just keep that Jeep for yourself!”


Hyungjun made them dinner, not the most exquisite cause the house offers neither non-expired food nor streaming water, but still decent dinner. They decided to keep the food packages intact in the backpack, for when they have to hike out.

Because they have more fuel in their possession than they have food at the moment, Sihun volunteers to collect some edible crops from the surrounding fields. After a lot of prodding, they convince Hyungjun to join him, since he’s the cook in this household.

“You don’t have to come back any time soon.” Eunsang bids them goodbye, receiving a knowing nod from Sihun and an understanding look from Wonhyuk.


The plan is to lure other tributes to the house by keeping the lights on in the bathroom upstairs, pretty simple, but those are the best strategies most of the time.

Eunsang and Wonhyuk settle in the veranda, an open window away from people walking onto the driveway, and hide underneath a fire-resistant blanket Sihun found in the safety closet. They’ll need it once Wonhyuk decides to throw his fuel based ‘bombs’ on any intruder.

They’re pretty close, Eunsang throwing an arm around his shoulder to hold up the blanket and to give Wonhyuk more room to attack if needed. They bring their heads together to whisper softly once in a while, falling silent when any of them intercepts a suspicious sound or movement.

They crawl closer together when the night air starts cooling down and are interrupted only one single time when a bang resounds through the arena. Afterwards it seems like all signs of life die down, disappointing both the boys with the lack of action.

The silence isn't permanent though, like nothing is in the games.

“Keep your bombs ready.” Eunsang breathily whispers next to Wonhyuk’s ear, seconds before he sees the silhoute himself.

It’s now or never.

Chapter Text

Wonhyuk is on the edge of setting of the second bang of the night, slowly shifting his position so he can press his back against the wall underneath the open window.

He simply has to set the top of the bottle on fire and then rocket it outside, Eunsang will protect him with the blanket once the deed is done. They never discussed how they were going to tackle the attack, but one look is enough to know that Eunsang is in on the scheme. His eyes linger on the other’s face, waiting for a signal to indicate when he can launch his own creation outside.

Eunsang lifts his fingers nerve-rackingly slow, Wonhyuk pressures the match enough to almost set it on fire and both unanimously decided breathing makes too much noise so they just don’t. It stays tense for a few extra moments, a few too much, before Eunsang casually stands up and flicks the lights in the veranda on.

Wonhyuk freezes, a shriek from the other side of the glass penetrating his eardrums. It clicks, why Eunsang is standing instead of protecting them against hot flames, why he showed himself so mindlessly to the stranger.

Wonhyuk pushes himself up and waves to the guy outside.


It took some time to convince Wonjin that they really teamed up with Hyungjun and that he’s just searching for food, in the dark, with only Sihun to protect him from roaming careers. To say Wonjin is restless is an understatement. He picks up containers, every time asking what’s inside of them even if it’s just expired honey.

“I wouldn’t touch that.” Wonhyuk warns, “That’s one of my bombs.” Wonjin retracts his hand like he just touched a burning stove, making the other boys laugh, both knowing Wonhyuk wouldn’t leave his bombs lying around like that.


When Hyungjun and Sihun return from their nightly escapade with a backpack full of vegetables, a surprise is waiting for them, waiting for Hyungjun more specifically.

He falls on his knees and starts crying when he finds out, letting Wonjin wrap his arms around him. His eyes don’t dare to leave the elder’s face, scared he’s going to say ‘sike’ and disappear in front of his eyes, which seems highly unlikely to Wonhyuk but he doesn’t have the backbone to interrupt their staring contest.

“I told you I’d find you.” Wonjin confesses, giving the remaining three the cue to escape silently from the veranda.


Eunsang and Wonhyuk didn’t check the sky to confirm who set of the shot, too busy convincing Wonjin not to run off. Now that they’re on their own though, they wordlessly ask Sihun for an explanation.

The silence lingers far too long to be an insignificant tribute, Sihun’s downturned gaze raising their suspicion. He meets eyes with Wonhyuk after he painfully gulps: “You’re not going to like this.” Strangely enough Wonhyuk can only think of Suhwan and how he, surprisingly, hopes the career survived.

It’s not Suhwan that died that night though.


If Wonjin thinks it’s weird that Wonhyuk doesn’t turn up for their strategy discussion, he doesn’t mention it. It’s late anyway, all their eyes are at the brink of falling and staying shut, so he probably blames the absence on Wonhyuk’s tiredness.

They soundlessly join the other in the basement, where they laid out all the blankets they could find, and escape into an unconscious state in a matter of seconds.

“You’re not sleeping,” Eunsang states as he crawls underneath Wonhyuk’s covers, ignoring how his face is bare of tear tracks. He waits till the other proves his statement right by capturing his gaze. Eunsang secures the smaller in between his arms, tucking his head into his chest, carefully waiting for his breath to even out.

If Wonjin notices the stains on Eunsang’s shirt in the morning, he doesn’t mention it either.


“Why didn’t you let me kill him?” Wonhyuk wonders rather than asks. They could’ve been one death closer to survival, it would’ve taken just one muscle pulling Eunsang’s fingers down to give the signal. The other doesn’t answer though, preferring to keep the silence in the garage heavy. They prepare the Jeep, not further threading on the subject until they’re ready.

“Would you ask me the same if it was Wonjun standing there?”


Ever since revealing Wonjun’s death, Sihun’s been treating Wonhyuk like glass. He proposed to leave the younger at home, excluding him from the hunt they had planned. Wonhyuk wasn’t very keen on parting with the keys of the Jeep though, so he could only come with to drive the vehicle.

Sihun tried to make him stay inside the car after that, reasoning that they left the bombs at home, which Wonhyuk countered with the fact that they have fuel cans in the trunk.

In the end Sihun could do nothing against the younger’s willpower, especially because Eunsang seemed to approve of it.

“So this house looks inhabitable and such, but how do we know for sure that there’s someone inside?” Wonjin questions while pulling his own spear anyway. Wonhyuk still doesn’t know where he got it and isn’t planning on asking.

“We throw a bomb.”


Opposing Eunsang doesn’t work in Wonjin’s favour, not when the redhead can counter any argument without breaking a sweat. He knows they will attract attention, but if any careers were close-by, they would’ve been attracted by the bathroom light the previous day. It’s not in Wonjin’s favour either that Wonhyuk is already preparing a bomb with the help of Sihun who finally decided that protecting the younger didn’t get them anywhere.

Against their teammate’s protests they make the house shake with one powerful blow. They watch the ceilings catch fire, setting the remaining walls aflame in a chain reaction. They watch how the ashes flutter down around them and for the first time they feel peaceful with the five of them together.

“You know, there could’ve been valuable things inside and we just burned them down.” Wonhyuk thinks it’s strange how Wonjin is using ‘we’ instead of ‘you’ when he didn’t even agree on the plan.


They continue the same way, launching bombs, waiting for a shot referring to someone’s death, but never getting one. Wonjin convinced himself that they’re limiting shelter and necessities for other tributes along the line and starts to frequently point out weak spots in the structure of the building where the wood rotted. Working overtime on his creations, Wonhyuk rapidly put Wonjun off his mind and enjoys spending time with his teammates again.

When they’re not blowing up properties, they’re lazing around in the house, generally just recounting stories they would’ve never remembered otherwise.

“I had a pet wolf when I was five.” Hyungjun claims. “Lie!” Sihun’s voice echoes through the veranda, winning the game for the fourth time in a row. They all shove a part of their snacks towards him, except for Wonjin who’s been broke since the second game.


The sixth day of the games, as Hyungjun liked to remind them that morning, seems to follow the same pattern. Eunsang is sitting in the passenger seat of the Jeep, guiding Wonhyuk to a big ranch in the outskirts of the village. It’s closer to the building they presume the careers occupy than any of their previous locations, but the map and Eunsang reassure them that a wild flowing river separate the two properties.

Even though Wonhyuk doubts if a river will stop one of Suhwan’s knives, he keeps pressing the accelerator.


Wonjin suddenly decides to stop walking, making Hyungjun trip over his feet and Eunsang briefly look up. “I saw someone in the house.”

No one reacts. They all keep walking, waiting for Wonjin to catch up. They ignore the silent question of “Shouldn’t we find out who’s inside before killing them?”

It doesn’t matter who their victim is though, in the end only one can survive anyway.


Wonhyuk pulls a stronger bomb out of his backpack. He doesn’t want a soul leaving the building after he’s set it one fire and neither do Eunsang and Sihun. Hyunjun keeps silent about the matter, his voice not strong enough to be taken seriously.

Wonjin at the other hand has been trying to stop them since they found out it’s Jungmo who’s residing inside. They don’t have time to be hesitant, the three reason, lighting up a match, surprisingly calm for the situation.

Wonjin envelops his fingers around Wonhyuk’s wrist, taking one last ineffective measure before the other loosens them one by one and throws the bomb through a window.


The fire has never been this intriguing before. They follow how it reaches for the sky, how it isn’t bothered by the bang loudly echoing through the arena, how it stays burning even though its job is done.

Wonjin and Hyungjun are crying, their tears sadly not enough to extinguish the flames or to bring back their friend. Maybe it’s their fault Jungmo dies after all, Eunsang wouldn’t have noticed him crawling out of the front door if they had just left.

Wonjin realizes the same as he tries to hobble towards the burning tribute, only to be beaten by Sihun. “I’m so happy you’re here, please he-“ Jungmo is cut short by Sihun’s powerful snap, leaving a deathly hump in the other’s neck.

The second bang sounds faster than any of them can react, Wonhyuk slaps a hand in front of Wonjin’s mouth faster than he can cry out and Eunsang is faster at dragging Hyunjun back to the Jeep than any of the others, but none of them are fast enough to prevent the careers from detecting them.

If only the river wasn’t this loud maybe they would’ve noticed the careers too.